Comments of the Week: Know Your History
The week that included America’s birthday brought to Truthdig’s comment boards a host of history lessons and discussions that ranged far beyond the material taught in schools.
Kicking off this week’s roundup of notable reader posts is this useful clarification of the term “liberal” and its uses in past and current U.S. politics, posted by PGreen under Chris Hedges’ latest column, “Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Fourth of July”:
I suspect your issue is more about terminology of “Liberal” than an actual disagreement with what is being said. There are many ways that the term is used. I’ve heard some refer to Liberals as “Leftists who still believe in the Establishment enough to work within it for liberty and equality in accordance with popular consent.” That definition might describe people like Bernie Sanders, but not Hillary Clinton, who is probably best characterized as “Center-Right,” in accordance with the ideology of the Republican Party of a decade or two ago.
Some use the term Liberal to describe a politician who is still responsive to the consent of the governed, albeit to a limited extent, and apart from believing in liberty or equality. That usage may have little to do with a politician’s personal inclinations, but sees the term in accordance with the Political Climate and Establishment. According to this usage, Nixon may be considered the last “Liberal” president, as he was quite scared of what the public might do to him (hence the pullout of Vietnam) in a more progressive era.
The relatively recent (and confusing) characterization of HRC and Obama (among others) as “Liberal” has led to public contempt for Liberalism. Most people recognize them as oligarchs, whatever else they are called, and “Neoliberal” is frequently invoked. This new term means something very different from “liberty and equality”, or “popular consent,” and thus adds another element of confusion.
Sanders calls himself (bravely) a “Democratic Socialist,” probably not wanting to be confused with the many ambiguous uses of the term Liberal. Sanders is a “New Deal” Liberal Politician in the original, classic sense.
There aren’t a lot of Leftists working within government. The term doesn’t accurately describe the majority of Democratic Party officials. The Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus are not all that left-wing. Are they “Liberals”? It depends on whom you ask and how you mean it.
Now for a quick jaunt over to “The Supreme Court Makes Herstory,” Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan’s report on SCOTUS’ June 27 ruling, which represented a big win for pro-choice activists. Victories aside, commenter AliceX couldn’t help but notice a familiar, gender-specific phenomenon cropping up in the very courtroom featured in Goodman and Moynihan’s column:
The lead attorney, Stephanie Toti, told an interesting story as to the presentation before the Supreme Court. An older male colleague was typically asked questions as if he was the lead attorney, which he then directed to her.
So what goes around, stays around, even there. Can I get a witness?
Yes you can.
Another short but impactful comment comes courtesy of Moon Cribs, who speaks from personal history in saluting “Born on the Fourth of July” author and Truthdig’s Facebook Live special guest Ron Kovic in response to this A/V Booth story:
I remember when PTSD was treated with disdain. Thank you Mr [Kovic] for your contributions and sacrifice for our survival.
Next in the queue is Big B2’s intriguing take on the advent of the Internet and its impact on the American labor force, posted under this Neal Gabler article on politics in the age of social media:
The Internet was just the next logical step that America’s oligarchy used to disempower the working classes. The first step of course was to change the American workplace by destroying organized labor. For about four decades, it was work and union halls where people met, commiserated, and planned on how to make their lives better. Since they also lived in the same neighborhoods this collectivism created empathy for your neighbors who often had the same problems and concerns. The oligarchy knew that if they disrupted this social mechanism of organized labor they could reverse the income inequity trend. Good jobs were outsourced, benefits disappeared, tax bases eroded, and collectivism stopped as the people went into survival mode. They worked longer hours at multiple jobs. They changed jobs more often, preventing the creation of the bonds between fellow workers that spurred union organizing in the first place. Since people were working more hours they no longer were a part of local organizations like church groups and [school] boards, exacerbating their isolation further.
Then they hit us with the Internet.
In the context I described above, the Internet is not being used as a tool to connect people. Quite the opposite. It was to be used to build walls. It has worked like a charm, as the USA is now filled with burned out, psyched out people that are too busy working 50 hour weeks to even know their neighbors’ names, let alone were they work, or what they enjoy.
Collectivism in America is now dead. That’s why we flounder in what can be best described as a large feudal estate.
The Internet didn’t set us free. It imprisoned us. Until we learn to use it correctly as an organizing tool, we will continue to live under the yolk of our 21st [century] robber barons.
Lastly, here’s RickD with our first-ever one-word comment to make it onto this week-in-review list, posted under Emma Niles’ multimedia story entitled “Puerto Rico in Crisis as Obama Authorizes Federal Financial Control”:
Time will tell.
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