Saturday, September 15, 2007

What Do Socialists Want?

If all liberals want is the rich men whom the corporate media promote as "moderates," what do socialists want?

Tariq Ali, the editor of New Left Review, said in an interview:
For socialists the task is clear: the Muslim communities must be defended against being made scapegoats, against repression, against the very widespread representation that terrorism is proper to Islam. All that must be energetically fought. But at the same time we must not close our eyes to the social conservatism which reigns in these communities, nor hide it. We have to try to win this people to our own ideas. ("The
Anti-Imperialist Left Confronted with Islam,"
IV Online 376, March 2006)
But what are "our own ideas" to which we are to win "this people" over?
No less serious a radical than Tariq Ali has said that "the defeat of Bush would be viewed globally as a victory." He's also denied that by saying so he's urging anyone to vote for Kerry, though it's hard to see how anyone else could defeat Bush. (Doug Henwood, "Ralph 'n' Stuff," Left Business Observer 107, April 2004)
If the idea is basically "Vote for Moderates," communicated sotto voce, then the idea would have a better chance of winning them over if it didn't come saddled with tortured socialist justifications for it. After all, the "moderates" and their constituencies fear, rather than welcome, the support of socialists, for they do not want to get clobbered by the Right who still resort to Red-baiting and guilt by association.

Besides, the tortured justifications do not convince anyone, nor do they have the merit of at least being true. One of the most often repeated socialist justifications for "Vote for Moderates" is that disillusionment with the "moderates" whom people voted for would encourage them to see that "the System was the problem, not party or personnel" and help "spark [uprisings such as the Battle of] Seattle" (Henwood, April 2004). I'm sure an increasing number of Americans are disillusioned with the Democrats whom they voted for, but there's no sign of radicalization on the home front, is there? Perhaps disillusionment merely encourages apathy, cynicism, and passivity if the disillusioned do not see any practical alternative to the "System."

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