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August Reflections

by Berry Friesen (August 11, 2017)

For many people, August is the least hectic month of the year, a time for vacation get-aways, reading and regaining perspective. Following are three items worthy of some of that precious August time.

1. Why do Democrats keep losing elections?

Conventional political wisdom has long held that demographic and economic trends within the US will gradually shift the political environment toward the left. That is, a more minority-ethnic and more economically stressed electorate will move naturally toward a stance that values a level economic playing field, opposes the market-driven redistribution of wealth and income from the middle to the top, and insists on government restraints on private economic power.

This conventional wisdom has not proved itself to be correct. Apart from contests in which Barack Obama has been a candidate, the candidates endorsed by the more left-leaning of the two major political parties (the Democrats) keep losing elections.

Why is this happening?  As someone who leans strongly left economically (though not socially), I am very interested in this question.

Mark Lilla, a humanities professor at Columbia University, suggests an answer in The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics, the Harper-published book to be released August 15.

Lilla introduces the book in “The Liberal Crack-up,” an op-ed published August 12 by the Wall Street Journal.  Here is Lilla’s premise:

“There can be no liberal politics without a sense of We—of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America’s imagination and become a dominant force across the country . . . they must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, share.”

Left-leaning political activists have abandoned an emphasis on “we,” says Lilla, preferring instead to focus on an intensely personal approach that reflects “our highly individualistic bourgeois society—a society that keeps (people) focused on themselves and teaches them that personal choice, individual rights and self-definition are all that is sacred.”

Thus, people who lean left tend to engage politically as members of identity groups--especially race, gender and sexual orientation.  As Lilla describes this stance, “What we think of as political action is in fact nothing but personal activity, an expression of me and how I define myself. As we would put it today, my political life is a reflection of my identity.”

This shift in stance from the encompassing “we” to the self-referential “me” has been catastrophic for the political left.  “The main enemies (are) no longer capitalism and the military-industrial complex; they (are) fellow movement members who (are) not, as we would say today, sufficiently ‘woke’.” Thus, political activism on the left no longer focuses on building a strong Democratic Party and a broad, inclusive agenda for America, but instead on “a wide range of single-issue social movements.”

If you are part of an active identity group, this kind of political activism can be exhilarating and deeply satisfying, even religious.  Yet to the broader public, the agenda is unattractive and off-putting.

Writes Lilla:

“The results of this shift are now plain to see. The classic Democratic goal of bringing people from different backgrounds together for a single common project has given way to a pseudo-politics of self-regard and increasingly narrow and exclusionary self-definition.”

Lilla’s analysis is highly relevant in fields other than politics, especially education and the church.  I expect it will become part of conversations in many venues and I encourage readers to pay attention.

2. Did you hear the latest about ISIS?

The Islamic State (ISIS) is being crushed militarily in Iraq and Syria. It is rapidly losing its territory and its financial base, which has consisted of tax revenue extorted from people within ISIS-held territory and the proceeds from oil and gas sales. Its combat personnel have been devastated with losses inflicted by a coalition of a dozen nation states, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Russia and many NATO members.

What a relief, right?

Guess what:  ISIS has taken the fight to Asia.  In May it seized control of Marawi, a city of 200,000 in the Philippines.  Government efforts supported by the US military have thus far failed to recapture the city.  Listen to this August 8th NBC video report for a sample of how this story is being reported in the US.  Note particularly this dire warning:

“The danger here is ISIS using this as a springboard into Asia, opening up a totally new battlefield as it loses ground in the Middle East.”

Severe skepticism is required here, dear reader.  ISIS is an irregular military force that emerged out of virtually nothing only 4-5 years ago.  Now, after suffering a string of major defeats and devastating losses, it pops up thousands of miles away ready and able to open “a totally new battlefield” in another part of the world.

As has been said many times here, terrorist groups to do survive for long in today’s world without state support.  This is a maxim of modern life we dare not forget. Thus, we can be certain that ISIS is a proxy force for one or more governments; that’s what enables it to not only survive, but thrive.

Which governments?   Tony Cartalucci’s essay, “Facing Defeat in Syria, ISIS Inexplicably Expands Globally,” provides a helpful overview.  He notes documentation showing support for ISIS from Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf States.  Israel supports ISIS in the part of Syria bordering the Golan Heights, and the US—as leader of the empire—is inextricably involved in ISIS support along with these subordinate members.

So what do you think is most worthwhile?  Freaking out about ISIS’ frightening foothold in Asia?   Or at long last, publicly denouncing US support for proxy terrorists?  This is the question we need to be asking our members of Congress and anyone seeking national office.

3. Is the US about to attack North Korea?

North Korea seems determined to develop the capacity to deliver a devastating nuclear strike against the US, perhaps via a missile attack on Guam.  This is consistent with the lesson learned world-over by observing US actions over the past 15 years vis-à-vis Iraq, Libya and Syria:  to oppose the US-empire without a nuclear-capable arsenal is suicide.

During the Clinton Administration, agreement was achieved on a plan by which the US would end trade sanctions and assist North Korea to develop nuclear energy capacity for purposes of electrical generation.  In return, North Korea would abandon its nuclear weapons program. That agreement was abandoned by the Bush Administration.  Events have moved on since then and such an agreement is no longer possible.

Yet other agreements remain within reach.  In May, 2016, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, speaking to the first Workers’ Party of Korea Congress in 35 years, announced a no-first-use nuclear policy:

“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes.”

As recently as March, 2017, Chinese media reported North Korea’s offer to de-escalate tensions with the US via a statement of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi:

“As a first step, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises”.

There it is:  a specific proposal for resolution of the current crisis. Have you heard about this via the US media?  No, I haven’t either.  On some subjects, one must read the alternative media to get real news.

In short, North Korea’s leadership has been following a rational course of action. We can only hope and pray US leadership is as rational as the Koreans.

1 comment:

  1. Fake news gatekeeper Google's doing its best to make sure that the truth about point #3 never reaches its search engine users - an example of how democratic accountability dies in darkness - and that point #1 remains enforced, with dissent exiled from the Goolag.