The reputation of Garrison Keillor is beyond my power to attack or defend. Around here in Minnesota among a certain age group, he has been the culturally dominant figure of our lives. This is certainly true for me. I started listening to him back on the early 1970s and was immediately intrigued because of our shared backgrounds. We both went to the University of Minnesota as impoverished students. We both came from small towns. And we both had WAY too much religion in our childhoods. And these themes informed his worldview. Like a lot of smart kids from small towns, the surprise that never exhausted itself was that citizens of big cities were not automatically smarter or better-read or harder-working than we were. In fact, it was usually the opposite. And there are so many of us that we kept his show alive and well and his books on the best-seller lists for decades.
And yet, within the past few days, Keillor has been written out of our culture by some suits at Minnesota Public Radio for the "crime" of making a clumsy pass many years ago. They have pulled down his extensive catalog of shows from their website. Seriously? Political correctness has come to this?
Part of the problem is the Minnesota Inferiority Complex. (Minneapolis went through a stage where some marketing genius wanted to call their fair city the "Minne-Apple" like a junior version of New York—the Big Apple, get it? I am still embarrassed by how lame that was!) In this case, the state that never voted for Ronald Reagan still wants to be considered the cutting edge of Progressive thought. Politically, that impulse ended when Paul Wellstone died. We now have two doctrinaire neoliberal Senators (although who knows how the Al Franken fiasco will end.) So since Democratic Party activists have decided they won't contest the neoliberal agenda in economics or foreign policy, they will go all in on political correctness to the point where the mark of a gold-star liberal is to redefine a clumsy pass into harassment / rape.
For those poor souls lost in the wilderness of political correctness it is probably time to remind them of the basics of sound government.
1) Governments exist to organize collective action. There are projects that are too complex and expensive for even rich people to afford. From highways and bridges to interstate banking, some things just need collective action. If the people organizing this collective action understand that the goal is to enrich the whole and not some small group of backers, the first big step towards good government has been taken.
2) Honesty. This one is easy. It impossible to do great things with liars and corner-cutters making important decisions. This is ESPECIALLY true if we are ever to escape the energy trap that has caused the climate to change
3) Competence. In spite of what we may believe these days, political correctness is NOT a substitute for knowing what you are doing. It is impossible to make wise decisions on transit policy or land use or pollution control without a fundamental historical and technological literacy. I seriously believe we should have qualification tests in these areas before anyone is allowed close to a collective decision—and this applies to private real estate developers and charter schools as well as elected officials.
Can the American Left Be Resurrected?Paul Craig Roberts, December 7, 2017
Readers: if your website dies it won’t be resurrected. Come to its support.
“Where is the leftwing when we need it” is a question I have asked at times. Some of my readers who confuse the left with Antifa and Identity politics have been confused by my question. Why, they ask, do I want more Antifa thugs and Identity Politics hatred of white people?
The answer is that Antifa and Identity Politics are the antithesis of the left. The real left is pro-working class, pro all of the working class, all races, genders, sexual preferences. Identity Politics splinters the working class into victims of white heterosexual males and destroys the cohesivenss of the working class, thereby making it easer for exploiters to exploit. Antifa aids in this process by focusing hatred on whites by accusing only whites of racism.
It was Karl Marx who said: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
It is Identity Politics that says, “Workers of the world disunite, splinter into victim groups and hate white males.” In other words, Identity Politics is the worst enemy the working class has ever had. Capitalist expoitation unifies the working class, but Identity Politics divides the working class and makes it easier for capitalists to exploit and for politicians to ignore.
Does my call for a resurrected leftwing mean that I am a Marxist?
No. It means I agree with John Kenneth Galbraith that without countervailing power, the economic-social-political system goes out of balance, as the United States clearly has. In a short period of time the distribution of income and wealth in the US has gone from reasonable to unreasonable. Working and middle class wages, salaries, and job opportunities have declined. But irresponsible corporate jobs offshoring and irresponsible Federal Reserve inflation of the prices of financial assets have caused the income and wealth of the One Percent to reach fantastic levels. A handful of people have more wealth than 100 million Americans. Democracy is forfeited as Congress responds to a handful of people and to a handful of powerful organized interest groups. A tax cut designed to increase the inequality has just passed Congress at a time of the worst income and wealth distribution in our history. (See, for example, https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/12/04/plunder-capitalism/ ) Instead of addressing the dire situation, Identity Politics goes after white people and President Trump for being allegedly elected by the white working class.
When I read in CounterPunch the attack by CounterPunch’s radio host Eric Draitser on the white working class “Trump deplorables,” I thought Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch’s founder, must be rolling over in his grave. With CounterPunch degenerating into Identity Politics, the working class was without an advocate except for the World Socialist Web Site.
It is possible that Identity Politics has condemned the world to nuclear Armageddon by lining up the liberal-progressive-left with the military/security complex’s “Russiagate” attack on President Trump. As I have explained, the purpose of Russiagate is to prevent Trump from normalizing relations with nuclear superpower Russia and defusing the dangerous tensions that have been built up by reckless and irresponsible US government actions against Russia. On many occasions I have explained the world threatening consequences of Washington’s demonization of Russia and its leadership. ( See, for example, https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/12/05/walking-into-armageddon/ )
Yesterday my despair over the demise of the American leftwing lifted a little when I read in CounterPunch Michael K. Smith’s attack on Identity Politics for what it is: a despicable intent to destroy the working class by destroying its unity. You can read Smith here: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/05/class-dismissed-identity-politics-without-the-identity/ Maybe this is CounterPunch’s opening gun in bringing the American leftwing back to life.
Without a strong and united working class there is nothing to balance corporate power. Capitalist greed ends up destroying itself by destroying working class income and consumer purchasing power. Greed then turns on public assets demanding that they be privatized or opened for looting as is now happening to protected national monuments and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
With the working class marginalized, now it is the influence of the environmental movement that is being rolled back. Next it will be Social Security and Medicare as the ruling oligarchy pushes the social system back to the era before the New Deal. In the absence of countervailing power, there is no limit to the unwinding of the reforms that made capitalist America a liveable society.
To prevent this we all have a stake in the resurrection of the American left. more