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The “Center-Left” Had Its Chance; It’s Time For Something New

The “Center-Left” Had Its Chance; It’s Time For Something New

Richard Eskow

An ideology that has become complacent and complicit: complacent in its power, and complicit in its relationship to corporate power.

The “globalization” the left opposes is something altogether different: the domination of multilateral decision-making by powerful financial interests. That’s worth opposing.

All too true. We should avoid any attempt to try to salvage the center-left, but expose and reject it as complicit with the worst of the oligarchs campaign of ‘full spectrum dominance’. The Orange Fuhrer is inflicting chaos and instability within the ranks, providing increased vulnerabilities. Any new political order would seem to require a renewed awareness of the desperate need of a national and global social contract. Rather than debate such a need, we should simply assume it as obvious and proceed accordingly. The rejected and dying imperialist order does not need to be converted, simply buried.


Thank you, “Center-Left”, for financial deregulation, mass incarceration, and an end to welfare. Thank you for a new, improved War on Terror, with copious amounts of drone killings of innocent people. Thank you for mass deportations and obstacles on route to universal health care in the U.S. Thanks for “free” trade agreements and wage stagnation. Thank you most of all for not speeding, and providing pleasant conversation, as you drove us towards climate catastrophe.

…We’ve had just about enough of that from you.



I appreciate Eskow’s pointed critique. Berman indeed falsely attacks the so-called “anti-globalization far left” , using well-worn canards, saying it’s aims are “utopian” and therefore not viable. (Echoes of the Clinton campaign and her “pragmatic progressive” self-labeling?)

While Berman correctly concedes some of the center-left’s failings, essentially she is arguing primarily for a reenergization of it, i.e. a defense of fortress liberalism - a kinder/gentler version of the same dynamics wherein corporate interests are occasionally accompanied by some unspecifed “social goods”.

Nowhere in her vision of what she calls social democracy does Berman note that democracy itself has been steadily eroded, and now made almost completely subservient to the interests of private concentrated capital. That the very reason why Blair, Schröder, Obama et all set up such a populist backlash is that they came from and yielded to the power of that global capitalist oligarchy, refused to challenge it and defended it. How, in such a dystopian system will “center-left” politics provide any real antidote - any hope whatsoever that it will adequately address climate change, the rapidly escalating concentration of wealth and income, the overriding of genuine public and national interests (health, environment, safety, infrastructure, etc.) by the aims of imperial globalism? All of these public interests are increasingly compromised in order to preserve and enhance the profits of those who control the political class.

I’d love to ask Ms. Berman just how she thinks democracy of ANY kind is possible in such conditions… and especially if preservation of that capital-driven system is the primary goal?


I wish we could use a common definition of “center-left”. The Political Compass is interesting:

(scroll to the end to see where they mapped Bernie Sanders)

It displays two dimensions of political orientation instead of one, and the “center-left” can clearly be seen as the authoritarian right. It makes more sense to call Bernie Sanders center left, and the anti-authoritarian left would include the Green Party and Gandhi.

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" The fight in America is not between the left and the right, it’s between the ups and the downs ".
Molly Ivins
The downs are currently getting the arses kicked by the ups, the center is so off-kilter and wobbly, these political labels are almost meaningless.
To families living in their cars, eating at food banks, having no healthcare and working for $8-9 dollars an hour; this mental masturbation of elites discussing directions and positions is a rather odd endeavor. Having discussions about middle-class angst and the directional drift of the voting class (buyers and sellers both ) seems a bit too comfy and quaint, as well. The laboratory rats are tired of it, mostly.
The center in America has utterly failed to stop the hemorrhaging we see all around the body politique; 45% of those eligible to vote in 2016 didn’t even bother themselves to participate in " the charade of making America great again ".
Their non-action is increasingly understood as being proper and correct; why feign interest in watching plutocrats, kleptocrats and corporatists carve up a pie they’re never going to offered a slice of. They understand better than most; their cares and considerations are talking points and hazy word scrambles, pitched by liars, lunatics and the much, much worse.
Molly Ivins’ scorecard shows who’s clearly won the battles and the darn money changers haven’t even broken a sweat, as of yet.They just increasingly aren’t a group anyone cares to support or cheer for.
Now, and finally, the contest will get interesting.

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Who in the hell is the center left? The Clintonistas were center-right. OhBummer was a Corporatist " Guns & Butter " Democrat.The middle of what?
Warren & Sanders haven’t won the debate quite yet.
But, there is hope. " Knuckle-Dragging Wingnut " ( her words ) Marsha Blackburn is running for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. If she of The Flat Earth Society, Et al. can win, then The Rapture is assured in no more than 7 days hence.:wink::wink::grinning:

I think the dominance of the center-left in US politics respect to Democratic Party can only be understood as response to Reaganism. It became a way to win elections in a country where Reaganism had become popular, particularly among the so-called Reagan Democrats, working class people who had been the core of the Democratic Party but had switched to voting for Republicans. The center-left successfully combated Reaganism by focusing the on the middle class rather than the poor and focusing on families rather than separate individuals. Also, rather than representing labor against management as Democrats had done in the past it started putting together a coalition of groups with different agendas such as environmentalists, African-Americans, feminists, etc. The big problem for the center-left is that when it began as a reaction to Reaganism there were moderate Republicans to work with so it was able to get something done, even if it was not what most Democrats really wanted. But Republican Party has not shifted so far to the right that the center-left can no longer accomplish much of anything. It sort of just exists without a clear purpose now that Reaganism is gone. I think we are in a transition period on the left and it will be a while before it is clear what will emerge.


The Center Left (REPUBLICANS) Tom Perez, Pelosi, Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, and so many other Corporatists - Obama included, are not going to stop pulling for “THEIR POWER” over the rest of us Democrats and Independents. They truly still believe that they are smarter than the rest of us, that they are legitimately OWED the POWER over the PARTY! I SAY THEY DO NOT DESERVE POWER OVER ANYONE!

As a Democrat, I refuse to be a part of the bought and paid for PARTY BULLIES listed above, who sit in the Center on all of the fights for our Planet’s safety, our Financial stability, Regulations over WALL STREET, Big OIL GRABS, Water and Food Resources CONTROLS (Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and others), KOCH MONEY constantly a part of the whole problem with these CENTER Democratic Bullies. People who HIRE CHEATS and LIARS to work for their CAMPAIGNS - Debbie Wasserman-Schultz working for Hillary - says it all. You cannot be FOR the PEOPLE, if you are FOR the CORPORATIONS OVER the PEOPLE. Pay Day Lenders - one of Wasserman-Schultz’s biggest mistakes ever, still a problem for all poor people. WHEN WILL SHE LEARN? WHEN WILL HILLARY LEARN?

Even now, Hillary and Dean are out there pulling up a new organization to FIGHT for THEIR OWN POWER OVER the rest of us, DIVIDING the Democrats further - refusing to acknowledge the RIGHT WAY is with SANDERS! These people are thuggish in their belief in their own right to CONTROL. It is sick!

That is exactly when the Democrats went soft. When the Dems stopped acting like Dems!

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I’ll say it’s time for something new:
Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm

Love your stuff, Richard.

I’m a -9/-9.

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Just to add to your point, a lot of folks are just unwilling to acknowledge what happened in 1984–it’s visible here. I’ve posted this many times, usually without a real response, but an openly anti-labor pro-corporate president who wore his militarism on his sleeve won reelection by a massive margin in 1984. It was the complete reverse of Roosevelt’s win in 1936. The New Deal coalition died and it was killed by the voters.

In the Democratic primary that same year, the traditional labor-backed candidate nearly got unseated in a far closer primary than 2016 by a “New” Democrat. Who was Hart’s primary constituency? Youth voters. These voters voted against the old crusty New Deal labor “establishment” that once ran the Democratic Party, just as Sanders voters voted against today’s center-left “establishment” in 2016. The party shifted as a result–in the direction of its future voters.

I’m still burned up about justice in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. We bail out the banks with BILLIONS, “here, fix your deficit holes, get economically healthy” and then several years later we make them ‘pay’ with fines, which they promptly paid with the profits they accumulated with the use of bailout money. No one goes to jail, keep their jobs, no apologies.

We should do that with the street bank robbers. When we catch them, hand them some bailout money to ‘get fiscally straight’ (because why would they steal if they weren’t poor?) and then fine them, payable with the bailout money and send them on their way.

Imagine the rich bankers reaction to street bank thieves justice I envision. “No, no NO! They need to go to jail otherwise its ‘moral hazard.’ They won’t learn.”

Me too!

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