The Failure of Liberalism

I think experience will teach you a combination of liberalism and conservatism. We have to be progressive and at the same time we have to retain values. We have to hold onto the past as we explore the future. – Oliver Stone

One of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century has been the decline of liberalism and the ascendancy of conservatism. While there are many opinions for the cause of this phenomenon the one that is the most fraudulent is that America is a conservative nation. This false premise has been propagated by those who want to maintain some fictitious sense of America’s past and a desire to reverse the progress we have achieved. Over the course of the last 50 years they have steadily and persistently chipped away at those ideas which defined liberalism (shared sacrifice, equality, and shared responsibility) and replaced them with greed, selfishness, and special interests while simultaneously demonizing liberalism as socialism.

Unfortunately, those of us who call ourselves liberals and subscribe to those principles that not only provided freedom, equality, and dignity to blacks and women, but also created the largest middle-class the world has ever known have allowed what we have accomplished to be tarnished and vilified. Unions which offered working-class Americans with livable wages, benefits, and organization became excessive and corrupt allowing themselves to be marginalized and thus laying the foundation for the corporate takeover of our political process. Without ongoing political organizations like unions to balance the scale the American worker has seen their share of the American Dream shrink while at the same time the wealthy class has seen their share increase to historic levels. While this is not a new phenomenon without the counterbalance of unions and organized political dissent the wealthy have been able to transform the political landscape in such a way that while the American worker is one of, if not the most productive worker in the world and yet they have seen their industries shipped overseas and their wages reduced or become stagnant.

The failure of liberalism is that while we focused on the physical aspects of inequality and poverty we did little to focus on the psychological effects of these issues. To use the analogy of “cream” rising to the top as that happens what is left at the bottom is more concentrated and more difficult to rise. You get less cream rising to the top and more sediment at the bottom. That sediment becomes more intransigent and begins to develop a mindset of poverty. Unfortunately today America is suffering from a large segment of our population with both situational poverty and generational poverty. Many of the people who are now dealing with situational poverty (poverty caused by a situation such as unemployment, medical reasons, etc.) will find it more difficult to overcome these circumstances as we face large unemployment as the new normal. Those suffering from generational poverty (poverty that has lasted over multiple generations) will find it next to impossible to overcome their external as well internal obstacles.

A couple of generations ago we had a strong manufacturing base that could absorb many of these low-skilled workers and offer them a pathway out of poverty. Today there are fewer opportunities for these workers to make a livable wage and move out of poverty. Because there is no longer a connection between effort and benefits or success we now have an intransigent underclass which is mostly urban and mostly black that lacks the opportunities to become middle-class and also lacks the desire to put in the work. Overcoming poverty requires hard work on the part of the individual to overcome the many obstacles designed to prevent their success and there appears to be an attitude among many of our young people that success no longer requires hard work. They instead seem to believe that there are short-cuts and easy money. It is important to be prepared for the opportunities but opportunity must also exist.

What we failed to realize is that while the fight to reduce poverty and inequality to us are self-evident concepts worthy of support there are many people who view them as collateral damage of capitalism. We falsely assumed that most caring people agreed with our position and supported the fight that has been waged yet there has been a slow erosion through materialism and greed undermining our social safety net and demonizing those who rely on it. We have not done a good enough job of combating the immorality of their argument and have allowed them to couch it in economics. Instead of it being our moral obligation to help those less fortunate, the weak, and the aged it has now come down to we can’t afford them. We can afford to give tax-cuts to the wealthy and corporations but we can’t afford to help the poor and less fortunate.

If we are to overcome the propaganda of the wealthy to demean and undermine the needy then we have to once again regain our moral footing and call out these tactics and their proponents for who and what they are. We must also be willing to address the excesses of our programs and be willing to innovate to overcome the intransigence of poverty. It is difficult to make the case for “food instability” while at the same time we have high rates of juvenile and adult obesity in these same communities. There is and has been a concerted effort on the part of the wealthy to undermine our social safety net. It has become fashionable to label the poor as lazy and morally bankrupt, but it wasn’t the poor who extorted billions of dollars from our economy, it wasn’t the poor who nearly brought our economic system to the brink of collapse, and it certainly wasn’t the poor who requested and received billions of dollars in wealth transfer.

There is this talk about class-warfare and I find it amazing that the only time we have this conversation is when the wealthy are being asked to contribute. I didn’t hear the term class-warfare when the rich were asking for TARP, bail-outs, and tax cuts. Hmmm, I wonder why? I guess it isn’t a transfer of wealth if it is going up only when it is comes trickling down.

My generation of the Sixties, with all our great ideals, destroyed liberalism, because of our excesses. - Camille Paglia

The Disputed Truth

A Very Pretty Face In the Crowd

In 2008 the liberal media establishment became unmoored from any pretense of journalistic integrity and destroyed—a flawed and sometimes loathsome—Hillary Rodham Clinton in the service of Barack Obama’s candidacy. This experience considerably warmed me to Sarah Palin later in the campaign.

But to be sure, I never considered voting for her and John McCain. It’s important for contrarian liberals, PUMA-types, or whatever our designation is, to remember what Gov. Palin ultimately represents. Like President Obama, her personal dynamism cult of personality is a clever cloak for a disastrous set of policies: In her case corporate Republicanism or honest-to-God Tea Party libertarianism. It’s not immediately clear which Sarahcuda would show up to take the oath at noon on January 20, 2013.

I don’t hate or despise the woman (nor do I hate Barry), but if you disregard the personal invective here, it’s hard to argue with the Godlike Oliver Stone:

 

(h/t: OneNationMatch)

Oliver Stone's "Border" Shows Fall of South America's Berlin Wall

On April 13, 2002, an event occurred in Venezuela which was as world-historical for South America as the fall of the Berlin Wall was for Eastern Europe: a U.S.-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela collapsed. The Bush Administration's efforts to promote the coup failed, in the face of popular resistance in Venezuela, and diplomatic resistance in the region.

The failure of the Bush Administration's effort to overthrow President Chavez was world-historical for South America because it sent a powerful new signal about the limits of the ability of the United States to thwart popular democracy in the region. In the years prior to the reversal of the U.S.-backed coup, popular movements in South America had suffered from a widespread "Allende syndrome": a key legacy of the U.S.-orchestrated overthrow of democracy in Chile in 1973 was the widespread belief that there was a sharp limit to the popular economic reforms that could be achieved through the ballot box, because the United States simply wouldn't allow formal democracy in the region to respond to the economic needs of the majority.

There's more...

Weekly Diaspora: White House Likely to Sue Over Arizona’s Racial Profiling Law

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Hope for a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year has fallen by the wayside, but the Obama administration is rallying for one last hurrah before mid-term elections in November. Late last week, the White House unofficially announced plans to sue the state of Arizona over the now notorious Senate Bill 1070, a state law passed this year to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

SB 1070 allows Arizona police to check the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented, and forces immigrants to carry government papers proving their identify at all times.

Meanwhile, an estimated 15,000 progressives and 1,300 organizations are meeting in Detroit this week to discuss alternative solutions to our broken immigration system at the second U. S. Social Forum (USSF).

US v. Arizona?

As Jessica Pieklo reports at Care2, “After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s nonchalant statement on Ecuadorian television last week that the Department of Justice planned to file suit challenging Arizona immigration law SB 1070, senior administration officials confirmed that such a suit would be forthcoming.”

“Expect a suit to come soon though as the controversial measure is set to take effect in July,” Pieklo writes. “That said, it is only one of many suits already challenging the measure in federal court.  Some of those cases have asked a federal judge to issue an injunction which would halt implementation of the measure while the legal issues get sorted out.”

At the Women’s Media Center, Gloria Steinem and Pramila Jayapal argue that “In the wake of Arizona’s SB 1070—the harsh anti-immigrant law that not only condones but promotes racial profiling that endangers entire groups of the innocent—all sides seem to agree that the Federal government has abdicated its responsibility to institute a fair and just immigration system….”

Eyes on Detroit

In the wake of discriminatory laws like the one in Arizona, many immigration reform activists have come to the USSF, taking place June 22-26, to make their voices heard.

“This is great because it just shows community unity,” Rocio Valerio, an activist with the Worker’s Center immigrant rights group, told GritTV. “Right now the strategy for immigrant voices is being driven by policy groups, and with the social forum we’re saying that decisions can’t be made without us.”

At New America Media, Anthony Advincula interviews Rev. Phil Reller, a coordinator for Phoenix-based Southwest Conference United Church of Christ who is attending the forum. “This is a perfect opportunity to educate people on what’s truly happening in our local communities, not just about the struggles of immigrants in Arizona, but also the momentum of hope among community leaders to repeal SB 1070,” Reller says.

ICE gets a face lift

While activists are trying to find answers in Detroit, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in Washington D.C. is attempting to turn itself into a more attractive bureaucratic juggernaut. As AlterNet explains, “This week, [ICE] announced changes to its management structure, conceived as part of a strategy to ‘re-brand’ the agency to the public.”

The agency has even gone so far as to recruit help from Hollywood, although it’s uncertain where the assistance will be coming from or if ICE agents will be portrayed as the “good guys” in movies. But not even a public relations face lift can cover ICE’s sordid record of terrorizing and deporting undocumented immigrants at a record pace.

The National Radio Project has already reported on numerous abuses in ICE-run immigration prisons. The media outlet notes that the government’s “immigrant detention is the fastest-growing form of incarceration in the U.S., with more than 30-thousand detainees behind bars on any given day.”

Filming América

While immigration problems and discrimination against Latinos continues, Oliver Stone is releasing a new film titled “South of The Border” that traces the history of popular struggles in South America and how they affect the Western Hemisphere.

According to Free Speech TV, the movie, which is set to premiere at the USSF, features interviews from “several South American heads of state, including Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.” Stone was also interviewed about the movie on Democracy Now!

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

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