What the Left Should Know about Opening the Economy

By Louis Colombo (April 27, 2020)

I’ve seen too many posts implying that opening up the economy/getting back to work is simply an effort to boost the profits of the rich. Invariably, these posts come from folks on “the left.”

I won’t debate the truth in that claim, but if this is all that gets posted, seen, shared, communicated, then no wonder that many folks who don’t have the relative “luxury” of working from home, who are weighing the differences between food, housing, medicine, etc, get turned off. For many people, the need/desire to get back to work is about survival, and probably on another level, about self respect. We ignore this at our own peril.

Certainly, there are important questions that we should be asking about what is and should be normal, and I know many people, also on the “left” who are asking those questions and really doing the work.

Let’s not obscure that and push people to the right with a meme or post that’s too glib by half.

Astroturf Protests Have Some Grassroots Backing

By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Aoril 23, 2020)

The face of US fascism/white nationalism, a right wing populist element to it, but also the major Republican party donors, Koch, DeVoss, Coors, etc.

The Republican Party has become a US-style Fascist organization with its storm troopers and radical ideology, the price worth paying apparently for the billionaire donors, themselves libertarian and neoliberal (privatize everything).

But, it’s important to understand that it is not all top down; it does have a popular base that is not in it for the money, and in fundamental ways, the foundation of the fiscal military state (a state designed for war) that is the United States, supports their ideology. And, hey, they control every branch of the federal government, except the House of Representative, which is powerless with a fascist Senate; more than half of the states are Republican, and most of the former Confederate states plus several others are solidly right wing. Democratic Party functionaries and most office holding Democrats do not challenge the content of US patriotism but present a candy coated version of it.

Democrats equally strongly support the military, polls show that 75 percent of the US people “strongly support” the military; no other institution comes close (except the post office).

“Open the Economy” is a Right Wing Attempt to Doom Working People

By Zakk Flash (April 20, 2020)

They don’t want to “open the economy.”

That’s bullshit language, cooked up in some think tank and seized upon by the media as a neutral descriptor instead of a right-wing euphemism for dooming hundreds of thousands of immunocompromised, elderly, homeless, imprisoned, and marginalized people to an early, painful death.

These folks need our support. The folks gathering at state houses around the country do too. They need a comprehensive social safety net that would allow them to stay healthy, pay their bills, and live with a decent quality of life. We all do.

The White House and its cadre of corporate goons isn’t working to make that happen. They want a return to the status quo.

The plan to ‘reopen the economy’ is dumping the bodies of service and industrial workers in front of a global pandemic so the wealthy can profit.


What If You Opened the Economy and Nobody Came?

By Mark Naison (April 20, 2020)

As protests against state wide shutdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continue to erupt in many states, people are missing one key point. So long as people continue to die in large numbers from COVID-19 and our health care system is stressed well beyond capacity, a large percentage of the population will continue to voluntarily quarantine themselves and avoid situations which put them and their families at risk.

Given the legitimate level of fear people have of devastating consequences to their health if they resume “normal” ( pre-pandemic) activity in the absence of widespread testing and a vaccine, there will be no sudden rush to take advantage of openings of stores, restaurants, theaters, ball parks, hotels and amusement parks without the most extreme precautions being followed

You can change what governments impose , but you can’t change people’s behavior when it has been reinforced by trauma and death. Enough people now know of people who have been hospitalized or died as a result of COVID-19 that they are going to be extremely resistant to resuming activities where social distancing isn’t rigorously enforced.

The “Liberate America” protesters are a far smaller percentage of the population than those who have been traumatized by COVID-19 and fear what it could do to themselves and their families

If you “open the economy” without taking the necessary precautions, the surge in consumer behavior required to make a dent in unemployment will simply not take place.

When people have been traumatized my something real, they will not change their behavior until the source of the trauma has been removed.

Unless the “Liberate America” protesters are ready to drag people out of their homes and force them to shop, go to school and go to work, their protests will have limited impact on the level of economic activity in the country.


We Need a People’s Bailout

By Red Corbeau (April 19, 2020)

It is difficult to argue for a ‘stay at home’ strategy to limit the deaths when so many unemployed people are now wondering where the money is going to come from for food and rent. I understand the temptation to deny the severity of this pandemic and, out of fear, clamor for an immediate re-opening of the economy.

What would make ‘sheltering in place’ more workable for the long term would be:

-to provide adequate and welcoming shelters for those who don’t have them; strengthen and expand the social safety net, including a people’s bailout of at least $2,000.00 a month or more for each household (we know the money is there – and remember? collectively we created all that wealth now held by so few), at least until the pandemic passes (I’d rather see this part of the “bailout” continued);

-across the board forgiveness of debt;

-and a moratorium on rent at least until people can safely return to work.

-We need to also recognize that the entire planet is connected, and unless we want to see the pandemic recurring, we need coordinated international efforts.

All of these things have been proposed, but none of them are likely to happen under this Administration (and maybe the next). So the growing fear of destitution and impoverishment has already been mobilized by the powers that be for a disastrously early “reopening” of the economy, and as the pandemic continues, people are more and more caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.

We should be protesting for a People’s Bailout, rather than for the chance to die or kill others to make money for the oligarchy. Ultimately, of course, we need to create a people’s economy that works for all of us.

It’s in the Blood of the American Liberal to Lose

By Julio Covarrubias (April 8, 2020)

The most heavily black and Democratic part of Wisconsin has the greatest obstacles to the ballot. It is much easier to vote in Waukesha county, for example; it is 92 percent white and has 50 polling locations for a population of 404,198. Madison, which is 78 percent white, has 66 open polling locations for a population of 258,054. For a population of 48,376, Wauwatosa has 10 polling locations; it’s 86 percent white. Meanwhile, Milwaukee, which is almost 39 percent Black, went from 180 polling locations to just 5 for a population of 592,025.

Outside of Milwaukee, fewer interruptions have been reported, and wait times have been as low as 5 minutes to a half an hour in some suburbs and rural areas. In Milwaukee, it is an average 2.5 hour wait.

What we are seeing is a demonstration of what the journalist Mark Ames noted long ago: the right in this country understand power politics and the left do not. The right are so ruthless they are even willing to take collateral damage to their base in order to gain and retain power, while the “left” (really, the liberal center)–“imagining politics to be a country club instead of a battlefield”–are willing to bend the rules only to keep the center-left from power. They can’t even help themselves, much less aid the people.

Useless. It’s in the blood and marrow of the American liberal to lose; the whole of their recent history is a history of concession and compromise with the right. Rotted out and hollow, they are a limb that has to be amputated for us to survive.

United States of Sinverguenzas

By Julio Covarrubias (April 2, 2020)

United States of Sinvergüenzas

“Intellectuals still argue whether Amerika is a fascist country. This concern is typical of the Amerikan left’s flight from reality. … This is actually a manifestation of the authoritarian process seeping into its own psyche.” —George Jackson


Watching DNC running dogs pile-on on Bernie’s National Press Secretary Brie Joy’s Twitter the other day—just for asking a politician as powerful as Kamala Harris to support Medicare for all; at a moment in which it is clear that millions of people stand to suffer without health insurance during this pandemic, and, as David Sirota pointed out, just 24 hours before the millions of newly unemployed will lose their health insurance—it dawned on me that liberal centrists who appropriate “social justice” language to attack and silence the left are, in fact, using the same gaslighting strategy that fascists use. After all, the M.O. of fascists has been to use the language of liberal ideals, like “freedom of speech,” to normalize their violent ideologies and to use the mechanisms of liberal systems to obtain political power.


This age-old strategy was given a name, finally, in an old Koch-funded libertarian magazine, REASON. As Mark Ames reports, the strategy is outlined in a series of articles on how to “market” libertarianism and convert both right-wingers and leftists to the libertarian cause. They named this strategy “political cross-dressing.”


Here is how they explained it: “‘Cross-dressing,’ of course, refers to the adoption of the dress and behavior of members of the opposite sex. For the libertarian, political cross-dressing means using right-wing words, evidence, and arguments to support civil liberties, and left-wing terms and reasons to support the free market.”


Ignoring the transphobia of the name for a moment, it is obvious that the Democratic establishment has deployed this strategy to win voters. Beginning perhaps with Bill Clinton, and perfected by Barack Obama—thepolitical crossdresserpar excellence—this strategy has since risen to its most cynical and decadent forms during and after Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency. For liberal centrists, “political cross-dressing” means using the language of “intersectional feminism” to market their brand of neoliberal governance, which differs from the right-wing not by the lack of class warfare, racism, patriarchy, imperialism, or even genocidal border policies, but only by the face we put on the system and who it is that gets to lie to us.


The pile-on on Brie is only a recent item in a long list of centrist liberals either acting in bad faith (consider this unbelievable response by David Frum to Joe Biden’s “incident” with an auto-worker) or hijacking the language of social justice for their own aims (consider this lame attempt at construing an inane gesture by Speaker Pelosi as an act of resistance). The truth is that the Democrats have no integrity. They are completely shameless. They are the party that, today, holds a better future hostage, while promising to parcel it out in crumbs to those who remain loyal. This is the relationship between the medieval Lord and the deluded serf, and it speaks to a deep seated form of moral and social decay.


When we talk about corruption, we have to understand that it’s much more than taking bribes or rigging elections. It’s a kind of moral sickness that sets in on the social fabric. It’s this sickness that lets the shameless get away with what should be shameful. There is no other way to describe the way liberals think and act, and the way they’ve taught their base to think and act. In this, and in their commitment to serving at the pleasure of capital, DNC centrists and ultra-right fascists are companions in guilt.


The Spanish language has a wonderful word for this kind of personality—sinvergüenza (=literally, “without” + “shame”). A sinvergüenza is a person lacking in any sense of decency or propriety, someone whose moral constitution simply provides no internal sanction against dishonorable action. Observing that there were even gay and Jewish Nazis, Dorothy Thompson, too, observed, long-ago, that “going Nazi” had more to do with being a certain type of person—a person with certain moral defects, a person with a certain type of bad character—than with race, ethnicity, or social background.


In this respect George Jackson was right to say that fascism “has established itself in a most disguised and efficient manner in this country.” The political structure of the US simply is a form of structural fascism: “An electoral choice of ten different fascists,” he said, “is like choosing which way one wishes to die.” What defines fascism at its base, Jackson claimed, was the joint commitment to facilitating the expansion of racial capitalism while repressing the democratizing demands of labor. “Any action that threatens the right of a few individuals to own and control public property must be prohibited and curtailed whatever the cost.It’s in that sense, also, that neoliberalism is a form of fascism: it is the subordination of every aspect of governance, of social life, of inner will, to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology; it is the worship of the market and of unaccountable corporate power.


Liberal centrists use the same strategies as fascists, then, because they are themselves, in fact, fascists.


The Left Needs to Think About the Political-Economic Future in Six Months

By Joe Lowndes (March 21, 2020)

Tucker Carlson is being cheered by some liberals for calling out NC Sen. Richard Burr for insider trading.

Burr should be investigated for this, to be sure. But this is consistent with Carlson’s right-wing nationalism more generally – just as it was Pat Buchanan’s before him. However, it will matter in a new way in coming months I think – and in ways that the left should be paying close attention.

The economy is unquestionably going to continue to collapse at the top and the bottom in coming months. When the presidential campaign season begins in earnest this summer, when things may really spin out of control and suffering really increases, it is easy to imagine real pressure from below on the Biden campaign to call for greater economic reorganization that would include heavy taxation on the top brackets and more redistribution in the form of major healthcare reform, debt cancellation, relief, etc. (the return of Sandersism).

Trump will have to outflank this. As the livelihood and lives of members of his electoral base fall apart, they will need to hear him demonize some elites in their defense along with the nationalism he always draws on – more border control, more crackdown on immigrants, more hostile language about China, etc..

This will be where Carlson will be crucial. His distinct framing of politics – a combination of xenophobia, racism, authoritarianism, and full-throated defense of working-class Americans; broadcasted to his massive nightly audience – is exactly what Trump will need to beat Biden.

We should all really be thinking about what the political-economic landscape looks like in two, four and six months and how we should respond. The right surely is.

joe lowndes

Let’s Keep Working For the New World We Hold in Our Hearts

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (March 11, 2020)

I understand the appeal of the Bernie Sanders campaign for President and hold nothing against his champions.

It would have been a positive development if he got the Democratic nomination, and for a couple of weeks there it looked like a possibility. I’ve also seen leftists and well meaning people for years try and advance a Left agenda in the Democratic Party and fail. Again and again. The US national electoral system protects vested interests which are not ours, the majority of working people. Our interests lie in creating a fundamentally different society. Our Interests are not represented within the confines of the dominant system.

So I want to welcome Sanders supporters back to reality, and hopefully, to a recognition that the type of fundamental social change humanity and other species desperately need today won’t come through the very system that helped deliver the mess we are currently in. Trump vs. Biden tells you much of what you need to know about the US system.

Our task is now harder, our time shorter, and the consequences of our failure more dire. Let’s keep working for the new world we hold in our hearts. Future generations depend on us.


Bernie is the Only Logical Choice

By Arun Gupta (February 12, 2020)

Last year I said, “If not Bernie then Warren.” Her campaign is finished, even if she tries to limp on to South Carolina. I am sad to see her go, but a fourth-place finish means it’s over for her. Biden is finished as well but will stick around until Super Tuesday.

Now watch as the “Never Bernie” elites come out in force and in desperation. They will try to herd voters behind Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and then Bloomberg. In effect, they are telling Democratic voters to beat Trump you need to nominate uninspiring, mendacious, vindictive candidates.

I’m not saying Bernie can beat Trump, but I argue he has a better chance than these tools and representatives of the ruling class. Bernie inspires people. He inspires young people, Latinos, the working class. He is the only one left who can draw working-class white men away from Trump and into the Democratic fold.

If you think that Bernie being a socialist will hurt him, do you really imagine Trump won’t use that against whoever might be the nominee, including Bloomberg? In his case, it will be a steady stream of explicit/veiled anti-semitism of Bloomberg being a globalist and part of an internationalist conspiracy to rob Americans of their guns and freedom. Or how about Buttigieg who is completely unvetted and untested and has a new scandal coming out about his past statements and actions every day. Or Klobuchar, who is about as inspiring as her salad comb.

When Trump says Bernie is coming for you, all he needs to say is that’s right, “I am coming to give you all healthcare and take away all your medical debt.”

In 2016, I said the Left needed to unite behind Clinton because Trump was such a danger. Now liberals need to unite behind Bernie. He’s the only logical choice going forward.

If you would like to support Arun Gupta’s work, become a patron at his Patreon site.


Moderates Don’t Care If This Country Goes to Hell

By Teka Lark (January 31, 2020)

Being in the United States owing to slavery, and having relatives who are still alive who survived Jim Crow, gives you a unique perspective on justice in the United States.

If you look throughout history in this country, oppression is an ebb and flow. For example, during the Reconstruction Era, the era right after the ending of slavery (1863–1877), there were 1500 Black political officeholders. More than a half-million Black men became voters in the South during the 1870s, and the federal law somewhat protected Black people’s rights. But after Reconstruction, not only did we not hold office, we couldn’t even vote, and by “we” I mean Black men.

When I look at Trump’s impeachment trial my friends that are reasonable and logical say: “Well the moderates will be so disgusted by this that even if he doesn’t get impeached, they will come around?” Come around? Come around to what? This country bankrupts its own white children because they don’t want one tax dollar to go to a college program that might benefit a “Black.”

This country doesn’t have universal childcare because it would rather have white women kill themselves if they don’t have to share with Mexican-Americans. The moderates are racists and nationalists whose retirements are tied to the stock market. They don’t care if this country goes to hell. They’ve sent it there many times before.

The people who are most pro-Trump right now who are trying to suppress the witnesses in the Senate are the moderate Republicans. If they do the right thing, they will be primaried out.