Rebecca Solnit On The Incoherent Left

She doesn’t call them the Incoherent Left because she still thinks they can be part of a coalition for radical political change, but other than that her assessment is spot on:

At a demonstration in support of Bradley Manning this month, I was handed a postcard of a dead child with the caption “Tell this child the Democrats are the lesser of two evils.” It behooves us not to use the dead for our own devices, but that child did die thanks to an Obama Administration policy. Others live because of the way that same administration has provided health insurance for millions of poor children or, for example, reinstated environmental regulations that save thousands of lives.

You could argue that to vote for Obama is to vote for the killing of children, or that to vote for him is to vote for the protection for other children or even killing fewer children. Virtually all U.S. presidents have called down death upon their fellow human beings. It is an immoral system.

You don’t have to participate in this system, but you do have to describe it and its complexities and contradictions accurately, and you do have to understand that when you choose not to participate, it better be for reasons more interesting than the cultivation of your own moral superiority, which is so often also the cultivation of recreational bitterness.

Bitterness poisons you and it poisons the people you feed it to, and with it you drive away a lot of people who don’t like poison. You don’t have to punish those who do choose to participate. Actually, you don’t have to punish anyone, period…

Note that the Incoherent Left was quick to respond with personal attacks and blasé indifference in the comments to prove that they remain cooler than pragmatism. Maybe next time Solnit will have learned her lesson.

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  • alizardx

    This article reminds me of why I’ve more or less left what passes for a political “left” in the USA.

    The difference between “left” and “right” in the US is marketing strategy for competing brands of neoliberal centrism, the consensus view held by both Obama and Mittens and the rest of the leadership of both major US political parties being that the purpose of government is to assist the super-wealthy to extract wealth from all the rest of us because this is the way to get campaign money when running for office and really nice retirements after politics. (ask Bill Clinton how that works)

    The right-centrist marketing strategy, being a deliberate attempt to focus hatred on minorities to appeal to the aging white Christian GOP base is more dangerous to the rest of us than the left-centrist pseudo-progressive marketing strategy. 

    But left-centrist “kinder and gentler” wealth extraction with small amounts of money rebated in the form of social programs leads us to the same abyss that every other discovery by the super-rich that it’s cheaper in the short run to buy the political system than to pay taxes has resulted in. With taxes being their share of what is required to maintain a civilization. “Kinder and Gentler” will just will take a little longer to crash and burn.

  • alizardx

    This article reminds me of why I’ve more or less left what passes for a political “left” in the USA.

    The difference between “left” and “right” in the US is marketing strategy for competing brands of neoliberal centrism, the consensus view held by both Obama and Mittens and the rest of the leadership of both major US political parties being that the purpose of government is to assist the super-wealthy to extract wealth from all the rest of us because this is the way to get campaign money when running for office and really nice retirements after politics. (ask Bill Clinton how that works)

    The right-centrist marketing strategy, being a deliberate attempt to focus hatred on minorities to appeal to the aging white Christian GOP base is more dangerous to the rest of us than the left-centrist pseudo-progressive marketing strategy. 

    But left-centrist “kinder and gentler” wealth extraction with small amounts of money rebated in the form of social programs leads us to the same abyss that every other discovery by the super-rich that it’s cheaper in the short run to buy the political system than to pay taxes has resulted in. With taxes being their share of what is required to maintain a civilization. “Kinder and Gentler” will just will take a little longer to crash and burn.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    if you still buy into the left/right paradigm
    she makes sense
    but if you conjecture that the country’s been highjack by economic terrorists
    she’s not even addressing the real problem
    she’s helping continue the farce

  • Cocomaan

    Build strawman, knockdown, rinse, repeat

    “Liberals often concentrate on domestic policy, where education, health care, and economic justice matter more and where Democrats are sometimes decent, even lifesaving, while radicals are often obsessed with foreign policy to the exclusion of all else.”

    There are plenty of American leftist radicals that lament portions of our domestic policy that she completely glosses over. It’s not her fault, really. She isn’t part of the groups most affected by, say, an incarceration rate that is rivaled only by Stalinist Russia. 

  • Cocomaan

    Build strawman, knockdown, rinse, repeat

    “Liberals often concentrate on domestic policy, where education, health care, and economic justice matter more and where Democrats are sometimes decent, even lifesaving, while radicals are often obsessed with foreign policy to the exclusion of all else.”

    There are plenty of American leftist radicals that lament portions of our domestic policy that she completely glosses over. It’s not her fault, really. She isn’t part of the groups most affected by, say, an incarceration rate that is rivaled only by Stalinist Russia. 

  • Liam_McGonagle

    There is a reason no one has heard of Solnit before, and commentator JumpNow at the original article posting has it spot on: Solnit is a mediocre nothing who has no idea what, if anything, she stands for.

    Quote from JumpNow:

    “We have two types of mainstream voters in Amerika — moralistic conservative voters (such as in they oppose abortion, but don’t mind if the child starves or dies without health insurance) and amoral liberal voters, who cannot take a moral stand on any issue, no matter how urgent.
     
    This latter attitude has resulted in the democratic party moving moreto the right with every election cycle, going from the liberal LBJ, to the moderate conservative Jimmy Carter, to the right wing Bill Clinton, to the fascist Obama.
     
    All because “liberals” never saw an important moral issue they couldn’t punt away in order to grasp for some ephemeral benefit.”

    • Grand

      I like many of the things you said. At least you have an accurate assessment of where you’re coming from.

    • Grand

      I like many of the things you said. At least you have an accurate assessment of where you’re coming from.

  • Nunzio X

    There may be a “difference” in what Romney and Obama “believe,” but there’s not a great deal of difference (I’d imagine) in what they’d DO, especially given the mess either man would have to deal with, but can’t.

    The US is like a person dying from multiple diseases.

    Doctor A says: I’ll give treatment A, and it’ll buy you six months. Then you’ll die from your illnesses.

    Doctor B says: I won’t do anything, and you might have three months. Then you’ll die from your illness.

    Doctor A may be “kinder and gentler” and “more compassionate.”

    I’m not sure it makes a shit one way or the other, given the patient’s situation.

  • Nunzio X

    There may be a “difference” in what Romney and Obama “believe,” but there’s not a great deal of difference (I’d imagine) in what they’d DO, especially given the mess either man would have to deal with, but can’t.

    The US is like a person dying from multiple diseases.

    Doctor A says: I’ll give treatment A, and it’ll buy you six months. Then you’ll die from your illnesses.

    Doctor B says: I won’t do anything, and you might have three months. Then you’ll die from your illness.

    Doctor A may be “kinder and gentler” and “more compassionate.”

    I’m not sure it makes a shit one way or the other, given the patient’s situation.

  • Andrew
  • Andrew
    • bobbiethejean

      Nice catch. I missed that one. *reads*

    • bobbiethejean

      Nice catch. I missed that one. *reads*

  • Captain Obvious

    What statement does not voting send exactly? It’s what the majority of people do. The statement it sends is that you’re too fucking lazy to fill out a form and mail it in. That’s where I get confused, with people who insist not voting somehow accomplishes anything. 

    Also, I find it fascinating that so many 9/11 conspiracy people are also – “it doesn’t matter who you vote for, both parties are the same” weirdos. Errrrrr, the first conspiracy there was rigging the 2000 election. So you know, I kind of think it matters or why would they have bothered with that? Let me explain it to you: Gore wouldn’t have started the Iraq war and doubled the size of the military industrial complex. It’s enough of a difference to take five minutes to send in your fucking ballot you fucking morons. They can’t rig an election unless it’s really close, we’ve learned that. 

  • Captain Obvious

    What statement does not voting send exactly? It’s what the majority of people do. The statement it sends is that you’re too fucking lazy to fill out a form and mail it in. That’s where I get confused, with people who insist not voting somehow accomplishes anything. 

    Also, I find it fascinating that so many 9/11 conspiracy people are also – “it doesn’t matter who you vote for, both parties are the same” weirdos. Errrrrr, the first conspiracy there was rigging the 2000 election. So you know, I kind of think it matters or why would they have bothered with that? Let me explain it to you: Gore wouldn’t have started the Iraq war and doubled the size of the military industrial complex. It’s enough of a difference to take five minutes to send in your fucking ballot you fucking morons. They can’t rig an election unless it’s really close, we’ve learned that. 

    • Andrew

      Why do you think Gore wouldn’t have invaded Iraq?  He and Clinton bombed them for eight years.

  • Guest

    Alteast Romney is not running a campaign to bring transparency to the presidency like Obama did. We know off the bat he is going to have the same covert orders and agendas that are not part of the debate.

  • Guest

    Alteast Romney is not running a campaign to bring transparency to the presidency like Obama did. We know off the bat he is going to have the same covert orders and agendas that are not part of the debate.

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