Why the American left is asleep at the wheel.

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

I have here three clips from a wonderful little film called My Dinner with Andre, wherein the main characters discuss the breakdown of human society.

Does the above seem familiar to you?  If so, you may be just awake enough to notice how even benign or well-intentioned comments can be loaded with hostility, even if the person engaging in this hostility is unaware of it.  Here’s the second clip:

Consider how Wally’s description of his colleagues in the theater trying, with their comments, to dismantle him so he cannot perform adequately relates to much of the rhetoric in today’s politics regarding third parties and casting protest votes.  Here’s the third clip:

Let me ask you something: does any of this make sense to you?  Do you see it applying to politics today amongst the American left?  Think about all the ways in which even the most well-intentioned of liberals try to destroy any and all chances for true reform.

They tell us voting third party is pointless, a waste of votes.

They threaten us with continued Republican misrule if the Democrat loses on account of our failure to support said Democrat, even though nearly two years of Democratic power has proven that nothing has changed in any way that matters.

We are labeled “purists” and “extremists,” even though our positions are little or no different from an increasing majority of Americans.

We can’t get everything we want, or even some of it, due to rabid opposition-with the implication being that it’s pointless to even try.  We are told that we simply must accept that certain things are beyond our reach.

Oh, sure, many of these so-called liberals say they’re only trying to do what’s best-after all, we’re all on the same side, aren’t we? I don’t think so. I think far too many of the American left have been so broken and defeated by movement conservatives, so disenfranchised and disillusioned, and so utterly bullied into submission, that they have in essence been lulled into a state of mental slumber from which they are incapable of waking. As a result, they are brainwashed into trying to pull those of us who are fully awake into the dream world with them, hence the excuse-making, threats, and attacks against any on the left who dare voice opposition to corporate-conservative candidates such as Barack Obama.

It is only natural to respond to such outright hostility and patronizing contempt with your own, fully-aware variety. Do this, however, and you’re labeled extreme, even insane. (No one likes to be told he is a sellout or an unwitting slave to a corrupt system.)

The problem, as I see it, is this: the American left has been largely cowed by the far right, and indeed, lulled into doing its bidding. It is, therefore, imperative that we who are awake do something to shake our fellows out of their slumber. We must find a means to convince people of the truth, but before we can do this we must wake them up. Until and unless the American left rouses from its coma, it cannot understand that it has been programmed let alone break free from its conditioning. The question is how do we do this without alienating our fellows? We know voting third party does not steal votes that would otherwise go to Democrats, that our positions on the issues are far from extreme, and most importantly, that we are under no obligation whatsoever to accept “no” for an answer. Is it even possible for us on the true left to convince our fellows without turning them off? I’m not sure it is, but I’m open to ideas.


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  1. Or, in the case you point out, Arise ye leftists from your slumber:

    It still applies.

  2. It is, therefore, imperative that we who are awake do something to shake our fellows out of their slumber. We must find a means to convince people of the truth, but before we can do this we must wake them up. Until and unless the American left rouses from its coma, it cannot understand that it has been programmed let alone break free from its conditioning.

    Its just that some of us don’t see elections as a means for the awakening.  

    • k9disc on July 22, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    I think I really like this place.

    What a great piece. So thought provoking…

    I don’t think we have a chance at reaching the Sleeping Left as long as they rely on the corporate media for information and seek the ‘respectability’ of the corporate media.

    I think dKos has fallen tremendously far in the pursuit of ‘respectability’ from the corporate media.

    “Don’t say that! Do you want them to think we’re lunatics?”

    The thing that they don’t understand is that dKos and the other gathering places of the left are the enemy of the corporate agenda. There is no respectability from the corporate media unless you are safely sleeping amongst the soundbytes and caricatures that are pushed out. Deviations from ‘reasonable discourse’ are not tolerated. It’s the corporate line or lunacy.

    The things that we are talking about, that Andre and Wally are talking about are an anathema to the corporate agenda – we are worse than an enemy – we are kryptonite – a virus – we are the downfall of their entire system.

    We are not like them, not like beings, we are locusts, bugs, and other ‘lesser’ beings, and we’re coming for them. We are their greatest fear.

    Until the rest of the Democrats turn off their TVs, cancel their subscriptions and start to actually live life, there is no reaching them.

    From a comment of mine on dKos, the first time I wrote it, it was much better, but here it is:


    Hey man, (1+ / 0-)

    Recommended by:

       Jim P

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and the corporate media has become our society.

    It is the one common thread that we all can claim.

    Sitting at the bar, we can always strike up a conversation about Britney Spears as she pops up on the crawl or there is an image of her.

    The corporate media provides the one safe thread that we all can hang onto and communicate with eachother.

    I see it in action all the time.

    We’re talking about cars, and someone references some obscure make and model, then the other participant dredges up some special they saw on the Discovery channel about that VERY make and model. Then there is a 10 minute highly evolved discussion about the topic.

    It’s safe, it’s informed and it’s ‘interesting’.

    I have a theory that the only reason it’s interesting is that it is safe and informed – meaning that all parties can be comfortable talking about it.

    The corporate media is our society – it is our common connection in our highly compartmentalized and isolationist society.

    There is no other construct that crosses so many cultural lines and connects disparate peoples. It also is a highly evolved narrative that is easy to follow due to it’s shallow nature and ubiquity.

    Corporate media is our society.

    I think that is extremely scary.

    • banger on July 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory in the movie actually disagreed quite a bit. My Dinner With Andre is great art and presents deeply thought out altenatives that are, in a way, valid today.

    I want to change the focus a little. We need to see our civilization as a cooperative venture, an organism even. All viewpoints have value within this system. The job of the “left” or the rebels is to create more possibilities that people might follow–we are supposed to explore areas everyone else is too busy and/or scared to explore. But we are nothing without the conformists, the sheep–they make up the main body and the very conservative have their function which is too keep things in balance. Too much order = death, too much disorder = death. Any way if we aren’t getting much traction (at a time when we are the possibility of many disasters) and most people don’t follow us even when we prove to have been “right” time after time–but this is not fault. It means that our vision and our alternatives are not compelling and essentially that is the end of the story. We have had a voice in the culture for a long time so why are people turning off to it? That is the question we must answer.

    I’ve found that in discussions with “conservatives” about things like militarism or climate change that they oppose me because they see me as someone from a hostile tribe–it is rare that one can get a conversation on the substance of these issues. The “middle-American” is angry at us and that anger is manipulated by the oligarchy that knows how to use symbols (based on the most sophisticated techniques of social science) to make people believe that up is down and vice-versa. Again it is our fault–we alienate others by not speaking in symbols they can understand. The most important symbol is not really a symbol but a stance–that stance has to be one of confidence and courage. Instead, we are riddled with self-doubt–we go “on the one hand this on the other that”, or well, maybe you have a point let’s discuss it. Well, most people just see that as a sign of weakness and this is both men and women particularly of the lower-middle class. In order to earn respect these people need to look at you and think–this guy or gal has guts and I could trust this person in a fight (not necessarily a fist fight) because this person is no push-over. If they voted for Bush over Kerry despite the fact the man had already proven to be a failure it was because Bush was confident and sure and Kerry seemed unsure, hesitant and did not fight when attacked.

    I learned all this stuff on the street (in the old days)–you had to strut or you may as well hide in your house and never go out. You got tested and if you flinched too much you became a victim. The left wants to stay in an intellectual ghetto and that’s ok when we are among people of our tribe–but it don’t fucking work with people outside the tribe because, like it or not, intellectual prowess is not admired very much in our culture as a whole.

    If we created something that provided real benefits for people (and whined less) they’d support us. The left in Italy (where I lived for a time in the 70’s) got very close to getting power because they (the CP–which was not really a Soviet style CP but basically a socialist party) built places for people (mainly community centers) and listened to what people actually wanted. They lost power very quickly due to Operation Gladio and the false-flag terror as well as the kidnapping of Aldo Moro (but that’s another story in which you’d have to trace all the Nato/U.S. operations against the CP since the late 40’s). But we can learn from those experiences. But we have to emphasize creating something that people can use and capturing the imagination of young people who gravitate towards the courageous and “cool”. We got to be cool and that means confidence–don’t worry about being “wrong” just do the best you can.  

  3. I’m getting too old for this shit.

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