Friday, November 03, 2006

Should decent people subscribe to The Progressive?

Norman Finkelstein asks “Should decent people subscribe to The Progressive?”  The Political Editor there, Ruth Conniff, referred to Finkelstein on Wisconsin Public Radio as “a Holocaust denier”, and left no doubt that she thought he is an anti-Semite.  When Finkelstein challenged the Editor of The Progressive, Baron Mathew de Rothschild, on this, he received the smarmiest ‘fuck off you dirty anti-Semite’ reply possible.

I’m looking at the current front page of The Progressive site.  Do I see anything ‘progressive’?  Well, sort of.  There’s lots of stuff on human rights, discrimination, same-sex marriage, free speech.  It is not that those issues aren’t progressive, but where are the articles on health care, welfare, minimum wage, income redistribution, etc., etc.?

Amongst all the countries with which it likes to compare itself, the United States is the only one without any kind of functioning left-wing party.  In fact, the United States is the only one without a functioning centrist party.  I stand corrected:  in the light of recent events, the other country with a similar lack of anything except extreme right-wing parties is, um, Israel.

Is there a connection between the complete lack of anyone decent to vote for and the weird way in which Americans define ‘progressive’?  With almost no exceptions, the Democrats follow the Republicans on economic issues (occasionally, they mention minimum wage, and there is Hillary’s intentional flubbing of the health care file).  On international affairs, they follow the Republican policies, based almost entirely on Zionism, right down the line, or even farther.  The only way the Democrats distinguish themselves is on the hot-button issues which make it difficult for them to be elected:  abortion, gay marriage, gun control.  Strangely enough, these are issues which are not political issues in any of the countries similar to the United States in political development.  These issues were sorted out years ago by political parties who were elected running on broad-based progressive economic policies.  That option is not open to Americans.  How did the United States get so screwed up?

I’ve been commenting on how Blankfort has recently been outing Chomsky as a closet Zionist, and wondering how that relates to Chomsky’s odd combination of universal worship from the American left, coupled with a curious lack of practical success at making anything better.  When we look at The Progressive, things are becoming even more clear.  American Jews have a very strong interest in human rights, based on the experience in Europe sixty or so years ago.  The United States had – and as Katrina shows, continues to have – a civil rights problem, so it was useful to combine specific interests in human rights to solve practical problems.  But what happened to economic rights?  In fact, Katrina shows the folly of trying to separate economic rights from other civil rights.

Anecdotal evidence shows that the famous support of American Jews for Democrats is based entirely on these human rights hot-button issues, and not on economic rights (where they would vote Republican except for the fact that Democrat economic policies are almost identical to Republican ones).   We consistently see ‘progressives’ in the United States burning themselves out fighting the contentious issues, while the whole country moves further and further to the right.

Is the death of progressive politics in the United States yet another victim of the Evil that is Zionism?  Did American Jews – intentionally or not (and I certainly can’t blame Chomsky for this) – direct progressive attentions away from economic issues towards civil rights issues?  American Jews, to their credit, were and are major players in protection of civil rights.  But do they take the blame for so dominating one area of rights that economic rights are squeezed out?

The answer will be, of course, that this is all the work of the ‘American elites’, who have contrived to give the United States two right-wing parties.  I guess they don’t have ‘elites’ in Europe.

The answer to Finkelstein’s question?  No.