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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Trouble Ahead! Detour!

There is little good news to digest in the US. 

We are deep in the midst of an epidemiological crisis, with the US leading the world in infections and deaths. The daily totals have grown to 65,000 or more infections and over 1,100 deaths. To give context to the numbers, the total number of US Covid-19 deaths so far this year amounts to over 22% of all the US battle deaths since 1775. In the worst year of the Vietnam War (1968), combat deaths averaged over 1,400 per month. Those monthly totals are surpassed today in a day and a half, with the virus killing the most vulnerable, especially the elderly, African Americans, Latinos y Latinas, and the poor.

The US is losing the war against the coronavirus.

US infections account for as much as one-fourth of all infections globally, an embarrassing number for the supposed wealthiest country in the world, the self-styled beacon of democracy. How can a state claim to be democratic that cannot minimally guarantee the health and safety of its most vulnerable citizens? How can a state lecture, even intervene in other states to bring them the bounty to be won by emulating the US?

If democracy has anything at all to do with delivering the will of the people, then it must answer to the poor US showing against the coronavirus. A robust democracy would deliver a robust public health service, a universal and comprehensive system available to all, and not a broken, overwhelmed, profit-infected, catch-as-catch-can, class-privileged monstrosity. A real democracy would recall the failed career politicians, deny the soulless lobbyists, and sweep away the preening consultants who pollute our political system.


The failed response to the coronavirus is only one aspect of the acute political crisis sweeping the US. With a little over three months to the national election, the two-party circus is reaching new lows. What has been a bi-partisan fiasco in response to the virus, has been politicized into universal finger-pointing. Democrats overlook the disastrous earlier outcomes in New York, much of New England, and now in California, while witlessly blaming Trump. Republicans refuse ownership of the deadly results coming from states suffering Republican governance, while boasting of mindless allegiance to Trump. And President Trump stumbles through contradiction after contradiction, while candidate Biden wins support through reticence, with a shamefully inadequate answer to the coronavirus.

When not blaming each other, the two parties blame The People's Republic of China (PRC).

With the compliance of the media, the two parties are ginning up a new Cold War hysteria against PRC and Russia unlike any seen since the missile-gap panic of the early 1960s. Trump and Biden are sparring over who can produce the tougher policy against PRC. This senseless conflict can only end in disaster for the world. 

It’s increasingly clear that the anti-PRC project reflects the growing consensus among US elites that the PRC economy is dynamic and resilient and the US economy is declining, posing a threat to US global dominance. Nor is it a secret that previously secure ties to international “friends” are fraying. While the UK remains supplicant, Germany, France, and many other allies are reluctant to turn on PRC or Russia, and resent the US’s demands for conformity. A stronger PRC and a weaker US will only accelerate this trend. The US is an empire in decline.

Trump’s previous renegacy-- rapprochement with Russia, the DPRK, and PRC, deserting NATO, leaving Syria and Afghanistan, etc.-- has been tempered or extinguished by the security services, the military, and the political Old Guard, leaving him an unconventional, conventional politician. Domestically, his tax policies won the allegiance of Wall Street and the super-rich, dispelling the illusion that the ruling class could not live with him, his vulgarity, and his ill-manners. 

While it may be understandable that sectors of the working class would have viewed him as representing an alternative to the unfriendly globalist, corporate vision offered by the Democratic Party, that illusion should now be crushed as well. And as his poll numbers shrink, his “wilding”-- his erratic behavior-- only intensifies. In conventional times, Trump would be a dead fish.

But this is not a conventional time. The Democrats have attributed their past failures to intervention and subversion. The last refuge for a decadent political party is to place the blame elsewhere: Julian Assange, Wikileaks, dirty tricks, RussiaGate, the Chinese, etc. etc. The Democrats have no electoral strategy other than to ridicule and demonize Trump. Their pre-convention set of issues is unremarkable. It will be further diluted when it becomes a platform. And it will be turned into tepid dishwater when it becomes policy, should Biden be elected. This is a pattern repeated election after election, and Democratic Party loyalists learn nothing from it.


Looming over the election like an ominous storm cloud is a US economic crisis of unprecedented potential. Despite the stock market’s seeming independence from any reality, the collapse of employment and economic activity is real. 

Just as pundits think they see a flash of light from amongst the billowing clouds, the coronavirus strangles any tentative economic recovery. In the US, the great contradiction of 2020 is between a sinking economy and the deeply ingrained, wide-spread ideology of immediate satisfaction and narrow, individual self-interest that produces and reproduces tens of thousands defying the virus protocols. Decades of voracious, immoderate consumerism and the demagoguery of unqualified, personal rights have produced an allergy to selfless collective action. 

But the coronavirus is ideologically biased: it retreats before rational collective action and advances against self-centered, self-serving choices. Thus, the dogma of liberty as action without restraint, reason, or responsibility so widely preached in the US since the country’s birth comes face-to-face with a danger that devours its true believers.

Since the 1980s, finance capital has accounted for a greater and greater share of putative US economic activity. The character of that activity is further and further removed from productive activity and more and more engaged in accumulating and valorizing the chits of future and potential economic activity (speculation). Obviously, the viability of this process rests on thin subjective factors: public confidence. In a moment, economic disruptions can wash away the necessary confidence, resulting in a collapse as occurred in 2000-2001 and 2007-2009. We are there again.

Of course capitalism is resilient. But the disruptions of 2020 are far more dangerous than in the past, unleashing enormous, latent deflationary pressures. As investor and consumer confidence recedes, speculative “values” come into question, further eroding confidence and perceived value. A deflationary spiral ensues. And the tools available to Central Banks and Treasuries are depleted and less effective today. 


If there is an encouraging development in the US, it is the remarkable burst of anti-racism activism that has spread from major urban areas to small Midwestern towns.

Impressively, white people in large numbers have joined, even organized these actions which began as outrage at police violence against Black people and enlarged to tackle the systemic racism of US society. This may well be the most significant counter to the crisis of racial justice since the Civil Rights Movement of the last century.

As a result of these actions, US public opinion has undergone a striking shift. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll (July 9-12) shows that 56% of the US people “hold the view that American society is racist! 

Significantly, the most popular explanation for US racism with respondents was: “People of color experience discrimination because it is built into our society, including into our policies and institutions.

In addition, 57% of the people surveyed “totally” support the “protests and demonstrations” that emerged after George Floyd’s murder.

Other significant findings of the survey include: 

● 75% of respondents “are encouraged that America is finally addressing long standing issues about racism in our society and working to ensure that all Americans are treated equally.”

● 71% of respondents “feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than it working for everyday people to get ahead.” [This number has only slightly changed since 2015].

● 50% of respondents “feel concerned that the protests on racial issues are creating social unrest and bringing too much change to the country, including erasing America’s history and significant figures in the country’s story.”

Arguably, there has never been a time in US history when a majority deemed US society to be racist and supported street action to oppose the injustices associated with racial injustice.

Surely this moment offers great opportunity and should not be wasted.

Fundamental to seizing this moment is clarity about the essence of racism, avoiding false steps, dead ends, and foolishness. Too many of today’s anti-racism warriors scratch away at the margins, confusing language, symbols, and postures with racial inequality. They attack straw men, words, statues, and buildings rather than the many barriers to equality. They fail to grasp that jobs, homes, security, and health are the substance of racial equality, and not the attitudes and interactions that spring from inequality. In the immortal words of the great Nina Simone: “You don’t have to live next to me, just give me my equality.”

Sensitivity training, street drama, and verbal hand-wringing will not remove the burden of low income, the absence of wealth, decaying neighborhoods, poor schools, and inadequate health care. They require political and economic solutions, redistributive solutions. The polls show that the US people are ready for a modern version of “forty acres and a mule,” a dedicated and effective round of economic affirmative action. Are the politicians? The leaders? The pundits? 

If this potentially historic moment is not to be lost, it must not be appropriated by Democratic Party politicians bent on using it as a bludgeon against the Republicans and subsequently cast aside. It must not serve as a frivolous expression of youthful rebelliousness, only to offend the forces now supportive of fundamental change.

The interdependence of these four crises--- epidemiological, political, economic, and racial-- offer a unique opportunity to enact fundamental change in the US. Does anyone believe that either Biden or Trump is up to the task?

The challenge requires a mature, committed, and ideologically sound Left to drive it. It is hard to disagree with BAR’s Glen Ford: “...the U.S. Left is so weak, it has been unable to put forward a narrative that explains the multiple crises that have been so devastating to the American people, or to even minimally fulfill our obligations in solidarity with victims of U.S. imperialism around the world.”

But that doesn’t change the urgent need to now forge a Left that understands the severity of the crisis, a Left that has a vision beyond capitalism, a Left that has a well formed notion of a socialist future, and a Left that has a proposal on how to get there. That is the job before us.

Greg Godels

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Racial Equality or Racial Exorcism?

My local PBS radio station reserves an early hour on Sunday for On Being, a saccharine-sweet mixture of pop-philosophy, psychobabble, and pseudo-religiosity hosted by Krista Tippett. Tippett drips with overly earnest sincerity as she probes guests with questions posed as profound and with deep existential import. While serious thinkers occasionally rotate through her show, more than a few of her guests are con artists, conjurers, or charlatans. 

Inevitably, in this time of long overdue mass resistance to racial violence, Tippett would discover and promote the “work” of Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility, a New York Times best seller and a book enjoying wide-spread influence and popularity as an anti-racist guide to book clubbers, NGOs, foundations, and corporations. 

A curious feature of the On Being interview of DiAngelo and Resmaa Menakem, a Minnesota-based therapist and coach and author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, is the absence of any reference to the core, structural elements of US racism. There is much discussion of racially sensitive etiquette and manners, of conflicted identities, of “...interpretations, perceptions, emotions, language…”, of discomforting conversations, and of racial “repair” (“And the framework that is causing white fragility is a refusal to repair, a refusal to see or feel...”). 

But there is little or no mention of the material condition of Black people, little or no mention of the substance of African American oppression, and little or no discussion of the prerequisites for achieving genuine racial equality.

DiAngelo shows no interest in exposing the material elements of the racial divide. Instead, she trades in perceptions and feelings between the races. There is, for example, no exposure of the ethnic cleansing (gentrification) that today plagues every US city and dislocates hundreds of thousands of African Americans from segregated cities to equally segregated neighborhoods in de-industrialized suburbs. 

Like the indigenous American peoples, African Americans are relocated from poverty-laced, low-income, segregated “reservations” to another poverty-laced, segregated “reservation” in abandoned, formerly white enclaves. The old, former “reservations” are now available at low purchase prices and minimal property taxes to a privileged urban gentry. 

Robin DiAngelo shows no interest in this development. Nor does she explore the “white privilege,” the profiteering, or the elite complicity that drives it. 

Neither does DiAngelo take note of the persistent wealth and income gap between whites and Blacks in the US. Consistently, since 1968, whites accumulate on average ten times the wealth of their African American counterparts. This means, of course, that every generation of Blacks cannot give the next generation an economic head start, which serves as a multiplier of African American disadvantage. Yet this in-your-face racism apparently escapes DiAngelo. 

The wealth gap condemns and forces more and more Blacks into often substandard residence in low-income areas that become literal Bantustans, results of the formal (Jim Crow) and informal apartheid policies imposed by the US ruling class since the Civil War. Like South Africa’s former apartheid regime, it is these segregated areas that are maintained decisively by the brutality of police. 

These areas, euphemistically referred to by white elites as “The Black Community” instead of the old pejorative “Ghetto,” exist as food deserts, lacking the selection and quality of their white counterparts, but, often, at higher prices. Schools serving Blacks are notoriously inferior. The 1974 Milliken vs. Bradley Supreme Court decision institutionalized urban school segregation, legitimizing and encouraging white flight to the suburbs and exurbs. There is no mention of this structural racism of education, health care, human services or its effects on infant mortality, health outcomes, and life expectancy, in the On Being interview.

Nor does DiAngelo decry the criminalization and mass incarceration that has become a feature of African American oppression or any of the other features eviscerating the material quality of Black life.

Hers is the anti-racism that ignores actual racism.

Commodifying Anti-Racism

Everything can become a commodity in the capitalist mode of production. From ideas to the water that we drink, capitalism strives to incorporate them into the vast commercial marketplace. Commodification creeps into every aspect of human experience, as an answer to every whim. So it should not be surprising that even ideas like anti-racism should be appropriated, commodified, and sold in the marketplace.

In the sixties, anti-racist organizations like the Black Panther Party were laudably able to utilize the white liberal guilt of celebrities and elites to raise funds for socially useful projects like day care, breakfast programs, tutoring, etc.

But since that time, others have exploited liberal guilt and the perceived need of institutions to appear racially sensitive to establish a veritable diversity industry. Diversity training, the broad field DiAngelo’s product falls into, has a long history, but one of questionable results. While it may prove lucrative to consultants, lecturers, academics, and business types, it has done little, in fact, to desegregate institutions-- corporations, foundations, NGOs, etc. In fact, some studies suggest that some institutions have become less diverse after exposure to diversity training. 

DiAngelo’s fast-growing speaking and consulting business places her squarely in this tradition. It is strange-- to say the least-- that this enterprise has encouraged the media to place an academic white woman with no engagement with the long-standing mass anti-racist movement into the role of a leader of anti-racism.

Promoted by the national media, she is an “explainer” of racism in the same way that J.D. Vance and his book, Hillbilly Elegy, were an “explainer” of the Midwestern white working class. In both cases, someone who has “escaped,” who is enlightened, will show the way to understanding for East and West coast urban and suburban elites. Both have profitably opened a book of enlightenment for those uninitiated.

For DiAngelo, the product that she is peddling is “allyship,” a condition won through a rigorous ritual of self-examination and atonement. Supposedly, when white people pass through this ritual, they can then accompany African Americans in the anti-racist struggle.

But not everyone can be your guide: “And it takes years of experience and study and struggle and mistake-making and trust-building to hold a group around race and really hold that group and push them and help them go where they need to go, in ways that are constructive. It takes a lot of experience.” Better call Robin DiAngelo. 

It is profoundly revealing that DiAngelo’s anti-racism is not about Black people and their condition, but about white people and their condition, their conversations, their attitudes, their feelings, their willingness to confess: “And even the confession can be problematic. It can range from just a form of masochism to a form of, ‘Well, I feel bad enough that you can see that I’m actually good.’ And so that also becomes performative —”

DiAngelo’s anti-racism is rigidly individualistic, a kind of mentored self-help in becoming a better ally accepted by Black people-- not a fighter along with Black people against the forces of oppression, not a warrior against the wealth and power of those intent upon keeping the Black working class poor and powerless. This is anti-racism without equality at its core.

In its essence, it fails because it rejects the idea of class. It fails to distinguish between the social discomforts of the upper-middle classes-- both white and Black-- and the plight of the African American working class.

Only a few years have passed since the Obama Presidency brought a smug assurance that we were now in a post-racial era because a Black elite had grabbed the brass ring. The smartphone camera-exposed orgy of police violence largely against poor and working class African Americans challenges that notion. But the DiAngelos and their media promoters give us new hope! We can return to post-racialism if we just get our heads straight!

Meanwhile, the edifice of racism remains intact. Black workers work for lower wages, pay more for the same services, get fewer of the available services, remain segregated, and die sooner. The developers, landlords, petty capitalists, and CEOs continue to super-exploit African American workers.  

The ultimate answer to racism does not lie in exorcism, symbolic gestures, sensibilities, or feelings. If racial injustice is not merely about feelings, then certainly anti-racism is not only about attitudes, either.

The genuine anti-racist warriors-- Black and white--  are crafting answers that enrich and empower Black people. They are attacking the wealthy and powerful who benefit from racial oppression. They are holding the oppressive institutions, their leaders, and their beneficiaries accountable for the material consequences of racist practices. They center anti-racism around winning equality. DiAngelo’s exorcisms touch none of this.

Greg Godels

Friday, July 3, 2020

Marxism Without Socialism, Socialism Without Marxism

With an unparalleled, multi-faceted crisis only beginning in the US, one would expect that our deeper thinkers would rise to the occasion and offer bold, creative answers. With a popular revulsion against racism; a raging, death-wielding virus; a two-party electoral catastrophe; and only the first wave of a likely unprecedented economic disaster, one would hope that radical solutions would come forward to meet equally radical challenges. 

Instead, many of the US Left’s most influential thinkers are offering weak tea-- a tepid, shopworn, unimaginative crazy quilt of answers. Since the stultifying anti-Communist purges of the 1950s in the US, labor, peace, racial and women’s equality, and economic justice movements have been shackled to anarchist, liberal and social democratic ideas. As a result, anti-Communist Western “Marxism” only enters the conversation shorn of a commitment to socialism. And socialism is only discussed apart from the basic ideas of Marx and Lenin. 

Perhaps the most popular “Marxist” in the US is Professor Richard D. Wolff. Throughout his career, he has done much to popularize Marx and Marxism. He is the go-to individual whenever the media needs a facile and well-spoken “Marxist.” Unfortunately, popularity and facility are not always a guarantee of clarity or audacity of vision. 

Professor Wolff correctly sees this moment, this bizarre combination of biological, economic, social, and political catastrophe, as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for change. In a recent article (How Workers Can Win the Class War Waged Against Them, Counterpunch, 6-19-2020), Wolff gives a brief, but competent recounting of the key events leading to this moment and the importance of the working class in advancing beyond it.

He answers the crisis with three points: “What then is to be done? First, we need to recognize the class war that is underway and commit to fighting it. On that basis, we must organize a mass base to put real political force behind social democratic policies, parties, and politicians. We need something like the New Deal coalition.” 

A revitalized New Deal coalition? While hardly a new idea, that would require a sea-change in the Democratic Party, a party that demonstrated emphatically in the 2016 and 2020 primary elections that it would thwart social democratic ideas encroaching on its thoroughly corporate capitalist turf. Moreover, the Roosevelt coalition brought together Northern progressives and Southern racists in a last-ditch effort to save capitalism. After capitalism regained strength through the war economy, the corporate, reactionary wings of the coalition slammed the brakes on progressive politics with the Red Inquisition. Wolff knows this. He acknowledges this in his second point:

“Second, we must face a major obstacle. Since 1945, capitalists and their supporters developed arguments and institutions to undo the New Deal and its leftist legacies...  Those positions gave capitalists the financial resources and power—politically, economically, and culturally—repeatedly to outmaneuver and repress labor and the left.” True enough.

“Third, to newly organized versions of a New Deal coalition or of social democracy, we must add a new element...The new element is thus the demand to change enterprises producing goods and services. From hierarchical, capitalist organizations (where owners, boards of directors, etc., occupy the employer position) we need to transition to the altogether different democratic, worker co-op organizations.”

And there you have Wolff’s answer. With a rebuilt New Deal coalition that should magically spring up because the professor wills it, a “demand” for worker cooperatives should be advanced (against whom?) and a transition engineered (how?) to a New Jerusalem. Of course this is a modern iteration of the Fourier, Owen, Cabet utopianism that Marx sarcastically described in the Communist Manifesto

Hence, they reject all political, and especially all revolutionary action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful ends, and endeavor, by small experiments, necessarily doomed to failure, and by the force of example, to pave the way for a new social gospel...They still dream of experimental realization of their social utopias…--pocket editions of the New Jerusalem-- and to appeal to the feelings and purses of the bourgeois.

Marx understood that, as an anti-capitalist tactic in his time, cooperative experiments ultimately would have to be financed by capitalists in order to compete against giant enterprises. Imagine how they would need to be capitalized to compete against monopoly transnational corporations in our time! Perhaps Goldman Sachs would fund them?

Lenin believed that cooperatives could help the working class struggle, but not replace socialism as the goal. As his party affirmed in 1910: 

[T]he improvements that can be achieved with the help of the consumers’ societies [cooperatives] can only be very inconsiderable as long as the means of production remain in the hands of the class without whose expropriation socialism cannot be attained… consumers’ societies are not organisations for direct struggle against capital and exist alongside similar bodies organised by other classes, which could give rise to the illusion that these organisations are a means by which the social question may be solved without class struggle and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie.

Clearly Lenin (and Marx and Engels) did not see cooperatives as anything but an illusive challenge to capitalism. They saw the cooperative movement as, at best, a helpful companion to the fight for socialism, at worst, a distraction.

In a curious turn, Wolff argues that “[w]e could describe the transition from capitalist to worker co-op enterprise organizations as a revolution. That would resolve the old debate of reform versus revolution.” So by verbal legislation, the cooperatives become revolutionary and not reformist. And the fight for socialism (unmentioned by Wolff) is removed from the historical stage. Wolff serves “Marxism” without socialism at a time when there is an unprecedented interest in socialism and an unprecedented need for a replacement for capitalism. 

David Harvey is another celebrity “Marxist.” In truth, he has written several insightful, thought-provoking books in the Western Marxist tradition (an academic tradition bereft of praxis). Like Wolff, he is an able expositor, bringing a nourishing taste of Marx (especially political economy) to hungry readers. But like Wolff, his disconnect from popular movements, his self-imposed distance from 20th century Marxism (Communism), cripples his answers to the pending 21st century catastrophe. 

In a recent video (Global Unrest, December 19, 2019) in his Anti-Capitalist Chronicles series, Harvey makes a startling claim: “Capitalism, right now, is too big to fail.” We must manage it, nourish its accumulation process, while tempering the inequality that it generates. In a bizarre, Malthus-like argument, he asserts that, unlike in Marx’s time, “70 or, maybe 80%” of the world would not survive if capitalism were brought down. His comments are worth quoting at length:

We cannot afford any sustained attack upon capital accumulation. So the kind of fantasy that you might have had-- socialist or communist, and so on, or might of had in 1850, which is that well, ok, we can destroy this capitalist system and we can build something entirely different-- that is an impossibility right now. We have to keep the circulation of capital in motion, we have to keep things moving, because if we don’t do that, we are actually stuck with a situation in which, as I’ve said, almost all of us will starve. 

And this means, in general, that capital is too big to fail… We have to actually spend some time propping it up, trying to reorganize it, and maybe shift it around very slowly and over time to a different configuration. But a revolutionary overthrow of this capitalist economic system is not something that is conceivable at the present time. It will not happen, it cannot happen, and we must make sure that it does not happen…

We must make sure that it does not happen…” In fairness, Professor Harvey may feel differently today, six months later, as capitalism is imploding under its own weight. I had to listen to the video three times before I could grasp that a student of Marx could cast such a dire shadow over the prospect of socialism.

Another paragon of the US left, Noam Chomsky, while professing a personal kind of libertarian-socialism, never embraced Marx. He, along with Edward S. Herman, exposed the deeply undemocratic role of the capitalist media and its commitment to “manufacturing consent,” that is, serving the ruling class by constructing a corporate-friendly shared narrative. In addition, his activism, his self-effacing solidarity has been an example for academic political authenticity, especially his willingness to criticize Israel. But the twists and turns of the late US empire have challenged his critical understanding. 

In late October, Chomsky called for US troops to remain in Syria, a strange deviation from his long-standing opposition to US intervention in the affairs of foreign countries.

More recently, on June 25, Chomsky announced that Donald Trump “is the worst criminal in history, undeniably.” In an interview with Jacobin magazine, he elaborates: “There has never been a figure in political history who was so passionately dedicated to destroying the projects for organized human life on earth in the near future...That is not an exaggeration.”

But, of course, it is an exaggeration. It is one that diminishes the criminality of a Hitler or a Tojo. It trivializes the mindless slaughter and bombing of millions of Vietnamese under Johnson and Nixon, a crime that Chomsky himself opposed vigorously. 

It stains the anti-Trump movement with an in-itself immature, gross magnification of the damage that Trump --this childish, swollen ego, prevaricator-- has perpetrated. It serves no purpose to overplay the real, existing case against Donald Trump. Most importantly, it muddies the important insight that Trump is the product of a long trajectory of rot in US politics. 

Chomsky is adding little clarity to the task facing a left caught off guard by the severity and depth of the 2020 crisis. Instead, he leads people back to the two-party travesty.

It would be mean-spirited to not acknowledge that there are thousands of people motivated by and introduced to left activism by Wolff, Harvey, Chomsky, and a handful of other celebrated left pundits. Undoubtedly, they share a genuine interest in promoting change in the US. But their popular status depends upon their not exceeding the bounds established decades ago by the vile Red-hunters, the thought-police who protect the US people from a robust idea of socialism. There is no need to judge their anti-Communist sincerity. It doesn’t matter whether they believe the Cold War mythology that is foundational to the capitalist world view. The simple fact is that Wolff, Harvey, Chomsky, and others would not enjoy the notoriety they command if they deviated too far from those myths.

Because they are unable to break from these limitations, they are ill-suited to lead in the battle of ideas at this critical time. They cannot imagine a world without capitalism; they cannot envision politics outside of the dreary prospect of two-parties or two-and-a-half parties divided by contrived optics; they find no ideas worth considering in a hundred years of real existing socialism.

At a time when literally millions of young people are searching for a meaningful alternative to capitalism, when they accept that socialism may be the answer to poverty, inequality, and war, it is tragic that those enjoying their trust cannot give life to that vision. 

Success in the coming period will depend on whether the labor movement, the broadly progressive movement, and young activists can remove the blinders forced on them by the ideological ‘iron curtain’ that denies them an understanding of the organizational and programmatic pre-conditions of capturing the capitalist state and replacing it with a peoples’ state. The Cold War fetters must be cast aside to allow the fight for a new world without commodities, market competition, and exploitation. 

For most of the last century and a half, the fertile ideas of Marx, Engels, and Lenin have served as a guiding light for that program. Working people, certainly since the last years of the 19th century, found no better beacon. Nor were they afraid to pronounce socialism as the goal of their struggles.

Isn’t it time to recognize and return to that path?

Greg Godels