Faction and Unity: Discontent on the Left

In an opinion piece at the Baltimore Chronicle, Dave Lindorff argues that "third parties on the left need to drop their individual agendas and work towards unity in order to create a real progressive agenda." He begins with a thoroughgoing left-wing critique of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress that hits all the major issues:
On the issue of war and peace, he has sided with the military-industrial complex . . On civil liberties, he has sided with the police state . . . On torture, the Obama administration is continuing the imprisonment and torture of captives in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world at Bagram Air Base . . . Health care reform has become a sad joke . . . Instead of taking on the insurance industry, the hospital companies and the pharmaceutical industry and other parts of the profit-making medical-industrial complex, Obama cut deals with all of them . . . Climate change action, too, has been sold out, with Obama adopting the approach favored by the energy industry—“cap and trade” . . . Finally, there’s economy and banking reform. Here Obama didn’t even make a pretense of taking a progressive approach. There is a stimulus program, but half of it was in the form of tax cuts . . . Meanwhile, bankers were the recipients of trillions of dollars in bailout assistance, while nothing was done to break up the huge mega-bank holding companies that brought on the financial and economic crisis in the first place . . . Obama has been a corporatist through and through on all the major issues that matter.
Lindorff concludes the piece with a call for withdrawing support from the Democratic Party as a whole, and for unity among the many left wing and left-leaning parties in the United States:
That leaves the question of what to do, and where those frustrated progressives will turn. I don’t claim to have the answer to that. Clearly the labor movement needs to recognize that hitching its fortunes to the Democratic Party has been and will continue to be a dismal failure. It needs to pull all its political money back and only support those who are 100% allies in the struggle for the rights of workers. No money for the party as a whole . . . Other third parties on the left need to drop their individual agendas and work towards unity, especially with the labor movement, in order to create a broad-based left party that doesn’t have litmus tests for inclusion—just broad principles like steeply progressive taxation, an end to NAFTA and the WTO, democratization of the Federal Reserve Bank, national health care, a wholesale slashing of the military budget, by perhaps two-thirds or more, free education through four years of college for all, and a crisis plan to attack climate change. If the ever fractious US left, and the somnolent labor movement, cannot come together as one, there is little hope of political change in America.
In related news, California's Peace and Freedom Party has named an interim chair to head its committee tasked with building "a new national political party of the left."


Samuel Wilson said...

Honesty requires any advocate of an independent "left" party to prepare its adherents to accept the inevitability of Republican victories during the building process. That means re-emphasizing the relative insignificance of differences between the major parties compared to the left and unlearning the irrational fear of Republicanism or conservatism instilled by Democratic propaganda. That still leaves room for rational fear, but the goal should be repressing the panic impulse that might send leftists running back to the Democratic embrace.

d.eris said...

That fear can also be minimized, if not completely extinguished, by fielding candidates where a Democrat is running unopposed, or where the Republican challenger is unlikely to garner very much support at all.

Liberal Arts Dude said...

Don't forget that any challenge to the two parties in the electoral arena raises its own challenges and hurdles -- primarily ballot access, funding, coordination of volunteers, and nasty legal challenges. All of this was chronicled by Theresa Amato in her recent book, Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny which I reviewed.

d.eris said...

Lib arts dude, thanks for the link, Mirror on America looks like a great blog, I'll definitely be checking in there.