On Richard Taruskin (highly abridged)

My old music history prof at UC Berkeley, Richard Taruskin, in fine form here, returning to his old haunt at the New York Times to demolish Julian Barnes’s neocon party line novelization of Shostakovich.

If I were an important person, I can imagine myself being asked why I regard Taruskin, along with Chomsky, as one of my major influences, even though his politics are frequently dubious, not to mention his having, on at least two occasions, personally attacked me in print. This review should give a good indication why. Namely, that he routinely exercises the capacity to, as Orwell put it, “face unpleasant truths.” That’s what’s made him enemies over the years, and that’s why, while finding him a plenty disagreeable person, I regard him as an unlikely albeit problematic ally. (He would never describe me as one, needless to say.) 

For it is this capacity, after all, which is fundamental to any chance we have of digging ourselves out of the hole we are in. The fact that much of “the left” has demonstrably abandoned it at various points of its history, including now, suggests to me that the kind of intellectual honesty Taruskin embodies is a much better foundation on which to build a political movement than the delusions of those who self-identify as on the “revolutionary” left.

Much more to be said on this topic, obviously.

Controlling the Sanders Infection: The Times’ Second Front

Having done its part to demolish the Sanders campaign, today’s New York Times opens up a second front working to undermine the follow up organization designed to mobilize Sanders’ 14 million supporters to continue the insurgency the candidacy began.

In fact, as they are probably aware, the primary then and the election now should best be seen as a side show. Whether Sanders’s post-election organization, Our Revolution or something like it, does or does not get its footing is what really matters–to us, on the one side, and the plutocratic class, on the other.  They will do everything in their power to ensure that it does not. And that includes routine hit piece such as this attempting to strangle it in the crib.

As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that elements of what I have been referring to as “the left” were just as hostile to Sanders as the right from the beginning.  Part of their game involved aping the Clintonites in uncritically passing along corporate media talking points and smears.  This was no exception:  Various “leftists” gleefully forwarded this based on their hope that the Sanders mobilization will go down in flames.

It should by now be obvious that both “the left” and the right share the same agenda: to prevent the development of a viable left alternative politics.

Yanis Varoufakis: Spread the Sanders “Infection”

Former Greek Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis interviewed on Christopher Lydon’s Open Source Radio, here.

“What I think matters the most at the moment is the conversion of the Bernie Sanders political revolution into a lasting political party of sorts, a political movement that does not die out once the convention once the presidential election is over. What Bernie Sanders managed to do is magnificent, should have a dynamic future, and should infect, in the nicest possible way, American politics for many years to come.

“In the short run, there is no doubt that, even though I consider Hillary Clinton to be a particularly dangerous person and an unwholesome politician, nevertheless when you face Donald Trump on the opposite side you have to make sure that, somehow, we block his passage to the White House.

“What is absolutely essential is, assuming that Hillary will win, that we make her life complete and utter misery every time she drifts and slides towards the usual geopolitical menace on the one hand or favoritism of Wall Street and the powers that be on the other.”