DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM: “THIS TIME -GUARANTEED – THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT”
The Truth about Democratic Socialism: Robert Tracinski, Washington Examiner, Feb. 22, 2019 — Ilhan Omar, the newest Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has had a contentious first month in Washington, stumbling through multiple antisemitism controversies.
Socialism’s Endless Refrain: This Time, Things Will Be Different: Kristian Niemietz, Quillette, Mar. 30, 2019 — Germany’s socialist left is currently embroiled in a row over the correct stance on Venezuela.
COMMENTARY: The Godfather: Saul Alinsky: Wayne Laugesen, The Gazette, Jan 13, 2019 — Left-wing activists smash windows with bats to protest conservative speakers.
The Antisemitism Virus: Douglas Murray, National Review, March 21, 2019 — One of the surest signs that somebody does not understand anti-Semitism is that he talks about defeating it, destroying it, or otherwise ending it.
ON TOPIC LINKS:
The Mask of Social Justice Slips: Peter C. Myers, The American Mind, Apr. 1, 2019 — In his essay for the Winter 2019 CRB, Bill Voegeli elegantly and insightfully describes the animating core of today’s social-justice left—the core crisis of our time.
Former Labour Party Leader Gordon Brown Stands Up to Labour Antisemitism: Leah Rosenberg, Israel Unwired, Apr. 3, 2019, Video — Over the last couple years, Jeremy Corbyn has made the Labour Party one of the most antisemitic political parties in the world.
Will An Increasingly Progressive Democratic Party Become Steadily More Antisemitic? James S. Robbins, USA Today, Feb. 14, 2019 — The Democratic Party’s civil war flared anew this week with a battle on the Israeli front. Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., made headlines with a Twitter outburst that criticized Israel backers, which was widely seen as antisemitic. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer echoed other party leaders when he called her comments “offensive and irresponsible.”
The Haters Are Right: I’m A Jew, And I Don’t Belong in Labour Anymore: Colin Appleby, Jewish News, Oct. 26, 2019 — I am dismayed at what the Labour Party has become in recent years. We have gone from being a party that could occupy the moral high ground to one that is rotten to the core.
THE TRUTH ABOUT DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM
Washington Examiner, Feb. 22, 2019
Ilhan Omar, the newest Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has had a contentious first month in Washington, stumbling through multiple antisemitism controversies. But it was the first demonstration of the Minnesota congresswoman’s official duties on the Foreign Affairs Committee, in a hearing on Venezuela, that might be more disturbing. It certainly indicates some important lessons about the real priorities of American “democratic socialists.”
At a Feb. 13 hearing, Omar harangued Elliott Abrams, the administration’s new special envoy on Venezuela, fumbling over his name and smearing him as complicit in a 40-year-old massacre by El Salvadoran troops — something one of her staffers must have been storing away in the blame-America-first vault for a long time.
While the clip went viral, what most people didn’t notice is how she ended the exchange, when she finally returned to the current situation in Venezuela. Her chief concern was whether the United States might support acts of “genocide” by the Venezuelan opposition. This follows her declaration that the anti-regime movement there is a “U.S.-backed coup” and that the opposition is “far right” and likely to “incite violence.”
There are no hints, outside of Russian propaganda, that Venezuela’s opposition is even offering armed resistance. The thugs are all on the other side. The opposition leader is not far-right but a “social democrat.” The United States has sent millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to a country suffering from disastrous shortages of food and medicine, but it is being blocked at the Venezuelan border because dictator Nicolas Maduro fears it will be a threat to his power. Yet to Omar, the real humanitarian threat is from the opposition and the United States.
Omar is a self-declared “democratic socialist,” along with her ally Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the Democratic Party’s rising star and agenda-setter, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her reaction is representative of the far Left’s response to the unfolding catastrophe in Venezuela.
The first big lesson we can learn from that reaction is that Venezuela is socialism after all. One of the techniques American socialists use to dodge responsibility for the real-world consequences of their policies is to claim that its latest failure wasn’t “real” socialism. When does a country go from being true socialism, hailed as an “economic miracle” and an embodiment of the American dream, as Sanders’ website suggests, to having nothing to do with socialism? Is it when they run out of toilet paper? This is a great setup in which socialism “works” by definition, because the moment it stops working, it is no longer “real” socialism… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
SOCIALISM’S ENDLESS REFRAIN: THIS TIME, THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT
Quillette, Mar. 30, 2019
Germany’s socialist left is currently embroiled in a row over the correct stance on Venezuela. The conflict came to the fore at the February conference of Die Linke, the country’s main socialist party, when a group of Nicolás Maduro fans stormed the stage, chanting slogans and waving banners with pro-Venezuela messages.
Nicolás Maduro is the successor to Hugo Chávez and has served as Venezuelan President since 2013. The legitimacy of his presidency has been in free fall in recent years, and many now call him a dictator. As Maduro’s popularity has waned, his tactics have become increasingly brutal. In 2018, a panel of legal experts convened by the Organization of American States recommended that the regime be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Many members of the Die Linke party establishment, however, still side with Maduro, whom they see as a comrade under siege. Others, especially in the party’s youth organisation, take the opposite view—which is why the February conference was contentious. One young member describes the party’s in-house Chavistas as “die-hard reactionaries, who have an antiquated understanding of socialism.”
This has been widely portrayed in the German media as a struggle between reformists and fundamentalists, with the battle lines running loosely along generational lines. In this version of events, the older crop of socialists tends to have a more rigid, dogmatic understanding of socialism, while the newer generation is more open-minded in its approach.
This coincides with the portrayal, and the self-perception, of “millennial socialist” movements across the Western world. A lot has been written recently about the resurgence of socialism among young voters. Socialist candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the United States, Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France have seen huge surges in popularity. And while the candidates themselves span the age spectrum, they all find their most enthusiastic support among young people.
This socialist revival is, of course, neither a homogenous movement, nor a fully worked-out policy program. But if there is a common thread, it is the belief that emerging forms of socialism could be completely different from anything that has flown under that ideological banner in the past. For these new socialists, socialism doesn’t necessarily mean a society run by large, hierarchical government bureaucracies. Nor does it mean a command-and-control economy, directed by a distant, technocratic elite. It means experimenting with new forms of social ownership and democratic decision-making, devolving power to the grassroots, and empowering ordinary working people.
Since earlier socialist projects didn’t develop in this way, modern socialists tend not to identify with them; and sometimes even reject the idea that these precursors were even “socialist” at all. If one had to summarise the public-facing posture of modern socialism in one sentence, it would be: “This time will be different.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
COMMENTARY: THE GODFATHER: SAUL ALINSKY
The Gazette Jan 13, 2019
Left-wing activists smash windows with bats to protest conservative speakers. They burn property and threaten opponents in public, violently lashing out at individuals for holding conservative views.
It’s 2019 but could be mistaken for 1969. That’s no accident, observers of history say. The roots of disorder go back to a style of agitation and organization made famous half a century ago by left-wing activists. Because it so often worked for the left, it has become common in mainstream politics today, and has even been copied recently by a few on the right.
Kenneth Starr, the former federal judge and solicitor general, discussed one of the most notorious cases in which radicalization moved out of the realm of theory into practical, aggressive politics. Addressing the Washington Examiner’s first political summit, at Sea Island, Ga., in November, Starr recalled the 1969 college graduation of Hillary Clinton and her affection for the philosophy of community organizer Saul Alinsky, who advocated personal targeting by radical activists in the 1960s and ’70s.
Wellesley College-graduate (as well as future US First Lady Class and Secretary of State) Hillary Rodham (later Clinton) talks about her speech at the college commencement, Connecticut, June 11, 1969. Among other things, her speech addressed student protests, which she had supported as president of Wellesley College Government Association, and was delivered following the official commencement speech from Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke
Alinsky was unhappy with what he saw as left-wing academics’ and politicians’ timidity and acceptance of political norms. He tried to organize businesses, labor unions, churches, and neighborhoods into radical activists who could force swift change with direct action that circumvented the traditional political process.
Starr recalled Clinton, who went on to be first lady, senator, and secretary of state, giving the first student speech at her commencement in 1969. The former “Goldwater Girl” was student body president at Wellesley College and had just finished her senior thesis about Alinsky, who two years later would release his most enduring work, “Rules for Radicals: A Political Primer for Realistic Radicals.”
Clinton, who entered the White House 23 years later with her husband, President Bill Clinton, spoke just after commencement speaker Sen. Edward Brooke. A moderate Massachusetts Republican, Brooke was the first African-American elected to the Senate. He died in 2015.
Brooke believed in achieving incremental social improvements through collaboration, cooperation and established civil processes. In his address, the senator explained how “coercive protest is wrong and one reason it is wrong is because it is unnecessary.” The system works, he explained, if people use it peaceably and deliberately.
Brooke’s advice was the antithesis of Hillary Clinton’s thesis on Alinsky. She approached the lectern and went off script to counter Brooke. “We’re not interested in social reconstruction,” she said in defiance of Brooke’s advice. “It’s human reconstruction.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
THE ANTISEMITISM VIRUS
National Review, March 21, 2019
One of the surest signs that somebody does not understand antisemitism is that he talks about defeating it, destroying it, or otherwise ending it. For many Jews, and anyone else who has had to take note of antisemitism, such inflated claims elicit only a dark laugh. Imagining you might end antisemitism is like saying you might forever postpone the aging process. An ambition, certainly, but one perpetually condemned to disappointment.
Yet as though to demonstrate their unfamiliarity with the whole concept, this is the language that the Left has begun to adopt when it is forced to tackle this resurgent challenge in its midst. In the United Kingdom it can be heard since Jeremy Corbyn’s takeover as party leader of Labour. Corbyn had swum among the most vicious antisemites all his campaigning life. But after his election as leader — as member after member, from the party’s grassroots to Parliament, got caught in the milieu their leader had lived in — those who still aspired to moral hygiene attempted to make a stand. Corbyn joined them. Like the party members, whenever evidence emerged of yet another antisemite in the ranks, he stressed that this demonstrated that “antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all other forms of racism” must be defeated once and for all. At one moment of especial panic last year, one of Corbyn’s principal cheerleaders even called for the Labour leader to deliver “a definitive speech on antisemitism.”
Yet of course no definitive speech can be given on antisemitism, any more than a definitive piece can be written about it, for the same reason that talk of ending antisemitism once and for all is so revealingly ignorant. Antisemitism can never be fully explained for the same reason it cannot ever be fully defeated. Because it is a shape-shifter. It is a virus that endlessly mutates, taking advantage of environment, locale, host, events, and more. To survey the number of its ostensible causes is to survey accusations that themselves encompass everything.
At times in their history, Jews have been hated for their religion. In other periods they have been hated for their race. In our own time they are most acceptably attacked for their state. And in the variety of these moves, as well as their multiplicity, we see the ineradicable origins of this evil into which the Democratic party has also begun to sink.
In March, I happened to be in Israel. It was a good vantage point from which to watch Ilhan Omar become the first American politician in generations to be visibly enjoying her Jew-baiting: a shallow person demonstrating a deep problem. Her rejoinder on Twitter about American support for Israel was to write, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” After another similar innuendo, and another insincere apology, Omar was questioned by reporters. “I’m pretty sure that was stated in my statement,” she said repeatedly, as she chewed gum and smirked at what she was getting away with.
In our day and age, it is no longer acceptable to hate people openly because of their race. Hating people because of their religion has also come to be deemed unacceptable and bigoted. So, what route in is the antisemite to use to make an acceptably plausible claim against the Jewish people? The best is to reframe ancient hatreds in the guise of modern-day political obsessions, as Omar and others of her generation of Democratic newbies have done. To their way of thinking, Israel is a colonialist, bigoted, racist state. And one that — to boot — is guilty of the generalized modern crime of “punching down.” For them, Israel stands out as so obviously evil that it should most properly be compared to apartheid South Africa. In that vein, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) supports BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) measures against Israel, measures that were taken against South Africa in its apartheid era… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]