Posts Tagged ‘Left and Right’

Left-wing parties win college grads, lose workers

October 10, 2018

Click to enlarge

Left-wing parties in the UK and France, as well as the USA, are gaining support of the educated classes while losing support of blue-collar workers.

The French economist Thomas Piketty said politics in these three countries is a conflict between the “Merchant Right” and the “Brahmin Left,” a high-incom elite vs. a high-education elite.

I don’t know about the specific situation in France, but it’s clear to me that the leaders of Democratic Party in the USA and the Labour Party in the UK care more about the material interests of a professional class than they do about the material interests of workers.

LINKS

Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right: Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict by Thomas Piketty.

How the left stopped being a party of the working class by Simon Wren-Lewis for his Mainly Macro blog.

Can Hillary Clinton be pulled to the left?

April 19, 2016
The Clintons at Donald Trump's wedding (2005)

At Donald Trump’s wedding

Democrats who support Bernie Sanders, but don’t expect him to win, say that his contribution will be to pull Hillary Clinton to the left.

If she has to be pulled to the left, that means her heart lies elsewhere.

She may change in campaign rhetoric in response to Sanders.  But if you know that is the reason for the rhetoric, how much can you really trust it.

Big Wall Street banks and other industry groups have literally given her millions of dollars in speaking fees—the content of which she refuses to reveal.

At Nancy Reagan's funeral

At Nancy Reagan’s funeral

She challenges opponents to give an instance in which a money contribution changed her decision.  Of course that’s not how the system works.  Elected and appointed officials make decisions based on their own judgment, and then those who benefit from those decisions do things that express their gratitude for services rendered and their anticipation of future benefits.

The Clintons are friends of the Trumps, the Bushes and Henry Kissinger.  How much of an opponent of the financial and political elite can she really be?

At a 2009 awards ceremony

At a 2009 awards ceremony

Hillary Clinton is in the upper 1 percent of income earners, but the people she hangs out with are in the upper 0.1 percent.  In her social circles, she may well find herself the most liberal person in the room and the least well-off person in the room.  That still doesn’t mean she has anything in common with real reformers or real people struggling to make ends meet.

For the past 25 years, Clinton-Obama Democrats have told us that what we have now is the best we can hope for, and we should vote for them because the alternative is something worse.

If you believe that, by all means vote for Hillary Clinton.  But don’t kid yourself that she represents fundamental change or can be pushed into representing fundamental change

If she were to become an opponent of the financial oligarchy and an advocate of peace, she would not be “pulled to the left.”  She would have undergone a radical, life-changing conversion.

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The return of right-wing populism

February 10, 2016

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many people in Europe and North America turned to populist radical and left-wing parties, while many others turned to populist nationalist and racist parties.

The first group blamed their troubles on the wealthy elite and a failed capitalist system.  The second group blamed their troubles on foreigners, minorities and a failed democratic system.

There were exceptions and overlaps, but I think these broad distinctions apply.  Nationalism and racism are a way of diverting public discontent away from bankers and landlords.

We have the same two kinds of populism today.  In Europe, we see Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain, Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, and, on the other hand, the United Kingdom Independence Party, the National Front in France and Viktor Orban in Hungary.

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The left, the right, libertarians and Ron Paul

January 9, 2012

As I look at this Venn diagram published by Mother Jones magazine, I see myself in the middle of the Left circle, but I don’t see many national political figures on the circle along with me.

I’d put Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and the Democratic congressional leadership in the Right circle than the Left.  President Obama claims the right to commit acts of war without authorization of Congress, and has acted on that claim.  He claims the right to imprison people without trial, to sign and execute death warrants without due process and may well be authorizing torture on as wide a scale at President Bush’s administration.  He supports NAFA-style treaties with Colombia and South Korea.  His administration is deporting unauthorized immigrants in larger numbers than the Bush administration.  He does not support reproductive rights.  He does support repeal of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, but as part of a package of economic austerity and cutbacks in the social safety net to taxation of the middle class.

President Obama and the Democratic leadership did enact the Affordable Care Act, which may turn out to be a net positive, and repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which I agree with, but not at the price of endless war and suspension of basic Constitutional rights.

All this makes me more open-minded about the Libertarians and Ron Paul than I otherwise would be.   Even though I can’t agree with them on important  matters of policy, they at least support the core values of American freedom and democracy.  I admired the way Al Gore and Howard Dean spoke up against abuses of power during the Bush administration, but they have nothing to say about the equal or worse abuses of power going on now.

The great merit of the Libertarians, and of Ron Paul, is that they have principles that are not held hostage by any political party or powerful vested interest.

Click on The Venn of Ron Paul and Other Mysteries of Libertarianism Explained for the source of this diagram and background on Libertarianism in Mother Jones.