While they continue to shock, Donald Trump’s promotion of idiocies such as “wind mills cause cancer” no longer comes as much of a surprise.
What does seem worth recalling in this connection is that similar canards were being widely circulated some years ago-not only by the corporate right but by the radical left, in particular, by the iconic alternative website Counterpunch. The vector for these was the fossil fuel industry shill Robert Bryce who was a regular presence promoting what can now be seen as overblown and in many instances dishonest claims with respect to the environmental harms associated with renewable energy sources.
Counterpunch providing access to Bryce was the first of many indications of their potential to undermine the left’s credibility by associating it with right wing rogues, conspiratorialist lunacy and fringe lunatics. When they became a leading voice of anti-Sanders smears, including demonstrably false charges targeting the racism and sexism of Bernie Bros indistinguishable from those emanating from the Clinton campaign it became clear to me that the influence was, on balance, harmful. When they became a leading voice of the addled Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary tendency which played a role in bringing us the catastrophe we are now experiencing, it became apparent that they were best ignored.
That’s not to say that they don’t continue to run solid and, in some cases, important pieces. And the apparent conversion of some of their shrillest and most irrational exponents of anarcho-ultra leftism to at least lukewarm support of the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez/Omar insurgency is a favorable development.
It would be nice if they found themselves able to issue an apology to their readers. But, as I’ve noted many times, the pundit class of all political orientations is constitutionally incapable of admitting error.
We would all be better off if they did, though I’m not holding my breath.
(Revised and extended version of a talk delivered to Staten Island Peace Action on Sept. 29, 2018. Many thanks to Dan Falcone, Delfina Vannucci, and Richard Singer for inviting Brittany de Barros and me to address the group, and to the members of Peace Action for an excellent discussion.)
As most of us know, the history of left politics has had its share of sharp, even profound disagreements.
Sometimes these have been about the kind of society we want to achieve. But often the arguments have been between allies who share the same goals but who are divided about strategy and tactics. What follows will be in the latter category and I will issue a warning that I’m going to take a side and try to show why I believe the other side is wrong. I anticipate some pushback. If I get it, that’s good thing in that people caring enough to argue is an indication (one of many) that the movement is reaching critical mass which I believe it is-something I’ll briefly discuss at the end. It’s also a good thing because, the glib one liner aside, we usually get into arguments not because the stakes are low but because they’re high as they surely are in this instance.
Continue reading On Activism, Voting and Responsibility
John Halle is the Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College Conservatory of Music, a position he assumed after serving for ten years in the music department at Yale University. As an active composer and theorist, his scholarship focuses on connections between the mental representation of language and music. Halle is also known for his political writings and collaboration with Noam Chomsky. Along with Chomsky, he co-authored, An Eight Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting), a widely read essay, in the summer of 2016.
In this interview, Halle explains the need to engage in electoral politics while maintaining a high level of skepticism for the paternalistic elites found in both dominant political parties. Further, Halle makes observations of how those on the left can more adequately reevaluate their relationship with activism, protest and revolution. Halle explains how this all can fit into creating a viable and workable policy agenda that can be moved forward until radical structural reform of the current system is achieved. Many of these ideas culminate from his discussions with Chomsky (a family friend).
Daniel Falcone: Should people be more engaged in electoral politics now with the Trump Administration in office? Many have been reluctant to do so in the past. Here, I’m basically expressing the need to strategically vote against Republicans. What are your thoughts?
Continue reading Guest Post by Daniel Falcone: John Halle Discusses Electoral Politics, Noam Chomsky, and the Core Commitments of the Enlightenment