[lbo-talk] Bad Times and the Left

123hop at comcast.net 123hop at comcast.net
Tue Jul 12 19:55:51 PDT 2011

----- Original Message ----- From: "// ravi" <ravi at platosbeard.org>

"I agree that at the turn of the century, class struggle was a significant thorn, but as someone else (SA?) wrote, that was part of a series of struggles across the Western world, wasn’t it? But by the 1920s the left (in the USA at least) was (Wikipedia tells me) in more than a bit of trouble. So you have the roaring 20s with tax cuts, speculation, supply side economics, union busting, so on, right as the Soviet Union was beginning to grow in strength."

True, but you have fairly epic struggles going on in the thirties: say the longshoreman's strike of 1934 in SF.

"With the arrival of the Great Depression, the presence of a non-Obama and an all around more simplistic (i.e., logical) political climate, led to a more logical response. More controls, etc. Safety nets. So on."

Partly in response to the labor struggles.

"Why witch hunts? To make the spectre of communism real and urgent. But IMHO, this doesn’t seem to have been from a fear of an internal domino effect, but the conscious or subconscious need to shore up and establish capitalism by creating a single caricature of an opponent (which the SU quite certainly seems to have assisted, what with the gulags and so on). Internal concessions, it seems to me (and I realise my uninformed opining puts me at good risk of embarrassment), were a response to internal pressures - growing prosperity brings growing demands. Civil rights movements the world over are echoed in demands for women’s rights, minority rights, so on. No doubt Soviet advertisement of equality added to the internal pressures, but my guess is that this was not a significant motivation."

Not just soviet advertisement of equality, but the socialist parties played key roles in organizing struggles for civil rights. You look at all the key books of black writers: Wright, Ellison, etc., and they talk about how they get their political education from the communist party. Even, say, the free speech movement in Berkeley gets a lot of organizing power from the CP or from former CPers.


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