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Sunday, December 12, 2010


It seems Tom Hayden did not approve of the letter...see link for Hayden's comments and Halle's response.Tony


John, I have my doubts about that statement. It has a lot of good true things in it, but ... "the left establishment"? Katrina van den Heuvel? More like "quasi-liberal establishment." And isn't Michael Moore one of the professional leftists the Obama gang was jeering at? I'm sure they'll listen to this statement if Moore signs on. Or any of the others.

And remember this?

Oh, what the hell. It's like voting. It won't do too much harm.

That's the spirit!

Oops! Well, if left-establishment kingpin Tom Hayden disapproves, I shouldn't have signed. Too late now!

i agree with Duncan about the use of term "Left establishment." I have no idea what that means..And i don't know why some of the people identified in the letter are considered the left. It seems to me people like Chomsky, or Michael Albert or Paul Street or Doug Henwood etc are a better example of the left than Hayden, Moore etc.-Tony

Yeah, the terminology is questionable, and the choice of targets is as well. But despite those (and other) quibbles I just looked at it as some people on the left haranguing other people on the left for having kissed Obama's ass too much in the past, and I'm always happy to help that along, so what the hell.

Well, I think there's more of a point to it than that, John-and I don't think Hedges, Chomsky, Street et. al. would have signed up if there wasn't.

I'm writing up something on what I think the point was which I'll send around to whoever's interested.

As for the terminology-yes I agree "left establishment" isn't a great term. I think the actual distinction is between the real and fake left-but the letter was seen as plenty insulting enough as it was, particularly by Chomsky, who, as I mentioned, required that it be toned down a lot.

Anyway, I'm open to suggestion as to the word-but I think we all agree that there is a thing-of which Hayden, vdH, and others are examples.

And whatever it is, it ain't pretty.

No offense intended with my flippant comments above--I just meant that whatever quibbles people might have, the overall intent is something I'm sure most people here would be willing to sign on to.

"Gatekeeper left" might be better, but also more hackle-raising. And I guess that'd scotch "Judas goat left" as well, eh? Which is the whole problem, really--simultaneously chiding and wooing the targets (and I'd assume that's part of why "establishment left" was used, since it comes closest to making the point without entirely alienating the people it's addressed to).

Another thing that annoys me is that "signing the petition" automatically put me on somebody's e-mail list, and got me a letter thanking me for joining "ThePetitionSite community." I just unsubscribed. I suppose that sort of thing is a normal and expectable part of organizing, like a Jehovah's Witness sticking their foot in the door when you open it, but if I want that kind of crap I'll send a critical e-mail to Barack Obama. (I'm not joking. The only response I got from the White House when I sent e-mail last summer criticizing his support for the Mavi Marmara massacre was to be put on his organization's mailing list, which sent me plenty of e-mails assuming that I was an Obama supporter and wanted to work for him by raising money, making phone calls, and providing similar services.)

John Halle: I'm not much concerned, myself, with distinguishing between the "real" left and the "fake" left. That's a theological debate that I think is best foregone. "Establishment left" is better than "left establishment," I think. But even though I did sign the petition (and please appreciate my restraint in not quoting the movie Heathers in connection with that phrase), I think such open letters are of dubious value. I mainly decided to put my name on it because Chomsky signed it, and he's often said that he just signs almost anything that is for a halfway good cause, even when it involves people with despicable views like some of the old Soviet dissidents or this guy called Faurisson.

"we all agree that there is a thing-of which Hayden, vdH, and others are examples." I believe it is called "The Democratic Party."

"And whatever it is, it ain't pretty." Amen to that.

John's far more hopeful than I, so I don't want to piss on his good spirits and optimism, but...

...I'm kind of uncomfortable with the idea that highly paid academics, editors, CEOs, capitalist filmmakers, tenured professors at major MIC institutions like MIT*, politicians, book sellers and journalists with cushy sinecures count as leftists.

Establishment or otherwise.

A professional gadfly - especially one who gets paid a lot of very good money and lives a very comfortable bourgeois life - might be able to observe events and circumstances with a non-fascist or reformist eye, but that doesn't make him or her a leftist. These people are money making professionals first, last and always.

I think Dunc's right. They're just Democrats.

I'm not sure there's any real point in asking Democrats to not be Democrats. They don't ever listen. There's no profit in doing actually leftist things. There might be money and fame in writing about it, but...

* - I know the Noam is a signer, not an intended target - but c'mon already. Noam's anti-establishment like Carlos the Jackal was good for the Palestinian cause. He takes MIT's death money and his criticisms have the appropriate blind spots...

Duncan, whenever you sign anything online and don't want to get spammed, use <anyusername>@mailinator.com (and if it's something that requires email verification you can go to mailinator.com and check mail for the username you used). Or create a throwaway email account somewhere and use that.

Jack: Good spirits maybe, but optimism? Not really. I'm just asking everyone to add their name. I've never had a tip jar on the site, but the one thing I do ask is that when I post a pointer to an online campaign that'll take all of 30 seconds to do, unless someone feels it's antithetical to their views and would sully their very soul, they just SIGN THE DAMN THING. Grouse about it in the comments if they must, but sign. This is the one and only thing I ask (or ever plan to ask) in return for reading the site.

"just SIGN THE DAMN THING. Grouse about it in the comments if they must, but sign." Which I did, including the grousing. Just like I voted in November. Thanks for the mailinator tip, though it's kinda beside the point.

Jack: Thank you, Camille Paglia. I think you're a bit confused. Yes, Chomsky is a highly distinguished professor at MIT, and in that sense he's "establishment." What distinguishes him is that, although he could have just enjoyed his career and kept his mouth shut, he chose to challenge the government on Vietnam. This made him so "establishment" that he appears regularly in every major newspaper and as a talking head on corporate TV, is constantly praised in the media and government, and has made a bundle on his political writings, which are published by corporate/mainstream publishers.

Hm, I work in the kitchen of a dorm at a Big Ten University that surely also gets "death money." So I'm establishment too.

Yeah, and while I don't work in the kitchen, I'm a lot closer to it that some might imagine-and have objectively less job security than those who do.

A lot of "academics", the great majority, in fact, are in a similar situation.

So can we please stop with the Palinesque academic baiting?

Which is not to say there are not lots of deserving targets-many of whom have been on the receiving end of Chomsky over the years, in case you haven't noticed.

Louis Proyect has another good article on this.-Tony


I also see that there is a definition of the left establishment on the site page that i did not see before...Makes my original comments above moot.-Tony


Academic baiting? Camille Paglia?

Belly laughs.

I have no respect for a person who works for MIT and complains about the State that works with MIT to kill the people the Chompers is so concerned about, in his distant, bloodless, safe and no-risk way.

Chomsky isn't taking a risk. He's making money, like all other bourgeois "revolutionary" leaders who just happen to have books, films and lectures to sell.

He's upper class first, last and always. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be ensconced in the heart of the military industrial complex, whimbling safely whilst doing nothing. And while he may be like an ancien regime ally in the days of the fall of the umpteenth French Republic, in that role he can be counted on for only one thing: words he sells.

Well, there are some things we disagree about, but I'm sure we'll all agree with Katrina van den Heuvel's twitter feed from this morning where she expresses her best wishes for Richard Holbrooke's speedy recovery.

I know I'm on board. Hope you all are too.

Thanks for the pointer, John. I signed because I agree strongly with this passage from the letter:

your support will help create the climate for larger and increasingly disruptive expressions of dissent – a development that is sorely needed and long overdue.

Our local antiwar organization is taking its first action since the five-year anniversary of the (official) beginning of the war on Iraq, in support of the Veterans for Peace demo. Our activity is long overdue, depressed first by Hope and then by the unwillingness of a large proportion of our activists to do anything that would irritate Democrats. Sometime in the last month many of them lost that unwillingness, for a variety of reasons.

As to Richard Holbrooke, I'm certainly on board with his reported last words.

In '96 I did some work in Germany (mostly) and a couple surrounding countries with an international student group that has branches all over the world. After the NATO strikes in Serbia I was forwarded from Germany via Serbia some very frightening email from civilian students living in Belgrade.

Their descriptions of what they underwent was fairly similar to 9/11. Holbrooke by any standard was employing terrorism and calling that "diplomacy." I have full confidence that things will grind on in Afghanistan without him as they did with him.

One of those deaths that cries out for some form of afterlife, which as an atheist unfortunately I don't think is coming...

And did folks see the disgustingly sycophantic piece in the Nation celebrating Holbrooke's life and works?

It looks like satire has died yet again-the first time when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize (according to Tom Lehrer.

Okay. Finally signed and linked. Sorry it took so long. I've been damn tired and in pain this week. :/

Crow can have his "celebrity" skepticism. I was actually pleased to see some familiar faces there, and I'd scarcely put Cindy Sheehan in the same category of "celebrity" as some self-important, useless ass like Katrina Van Heuvel. I mean, I know a lot of good regional or local musicians by name, and I know Jon BonJovi's name. It doesn't follow that all the local/regional musicians' works are interchangeable with Jon BonJovi's stuff because of it.

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