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Echoes from an ugly past II: More are noticing the parallels with Weimar Germany

Back in July, I warned that in focusing solely on their hatred of Hillary Clinton, and arguing that she is as bad as any other mainstream “corporate” politician, many progressives and leftists were forgetting the lessons of history. They were in danger of repeating the mistakes made by the German Communist Party, as well as other Communist parties in Europe and elsewhere, that helped Hitler come to power. Perhaps someone was saying the same thing as I had been saying before that, but, if so, I hadn’t seen it. That was my main reason for writing the post: it was truly frightening to think that virtually no one was making this connection, that no one saw the parallels with Weimar Germany, aside from the usual “Trump…

Progressives should see strategy, not whining, as their job

Throughout history, the left that has been by definition at the forefront of progress. Anything progressive is, at least at first, left. The American revolutionaries were to the left of the Tories, those who led the French Revolution included some of the most left-wing in France, and Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the greatest American leftists of the 20th century. These people were distinguished not by their whining about “sell outs”, but by their strategic skill. The aforementioned leaders, revolutionaries all, were great not simply because of their ideas of progress, but also because of their strategic thinking and actions. Two other American revolutionaries, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, both had what was at the time a radically leftist idea, i.e. that slavery was bad and…

Alienation and despair: The dark side of progress

Clearly something is wrong in the Western world. These problems are most evident in the UK and the U.S. In Britain, a campaign propelled by fear of immigrants and multiculturalism was able to capture more than half the vote, making it highly likely that Britain will leave the European Union, causing the fall of a prime minister, and potentially leading to the breakup of the United Kingdom itself. In the United States, the situation is even more dire. The presidential campaign of Donald Trump – who has been called a fascist, not just by the left, but by fellow Republicans – has brought to the surface tensions that must have been simmering for years. His rallies, and now the Republican National Convention, are showcases of…

Warren won’t be Clinton’s running mate. Thank God for that.

According to this morning’s front page Boston Globe story, it is now highly unlikely that Secretary Clinton will choose Elizabeth Warren to run with her as the VP nominee on the Democratic ticket. Thank God for that. It’s not that I don’t support my senator, and it’s not that I don’t want to see Hillary Clinton win the election. The opposite is true on each count, and this is part of the reason I am glad there will be no Clinton-Warren ticket. Obviously, I have no truck with the shamefully high number of Bernie supporters who are either planning to vote for a third party or, even worse, to vote for Donald Trump. To do so would be to repeat the mistakes that progressives made in the 1920s and 1930s….

Hating Hillary and Underestimating Trump: Echoes from an Ugly Past

Some on the left see Hillary Clinton as no better than Donald Trump, and will either vote for some third party or, even worse, for Trump himself. The latter figure reportedly includes 22 percent of Bernie Sanders’ supporters. This is not the first time progressives have grappled with these questions – and made such glaring blunders. On August 2, 1935, the Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov delivered the main report to the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International, then meeting in Moscow. In his speech, he argued that progressives should unite with everyone they could possibly work with to defeat the fascist danger and maintain – or recover – democracy. While the Holocaust had not yet happened, and its full scale would not be…

Initial thoughts on Orlando

Marx famously wrote that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then as farce. He was right about the repetition, and about the sheer lunacy of how historical moments repeat. However, farce is at the very least amusing, and there is little humor to go around as the American cycle of violence continues its seemingly endless iterations. As we once again try to make sense of a senseless tragedy, the familiar characters have all taken their places in their respective positions and are even now on stage, repeating their lines from a tired script. I have little to add; instead, I have a few thoughts that do not necessarily relate to each other, listed below. I’m writing from Worcester, Massachusetts, far from Orlando, but I lived in Miami and…

From Fatwa to Jihad

Most comments on the rise of radical Islam tend to fall into either a left or right wing version of political scientist Samuel P. Huntington’s argument, first developed in 1992, that we are in the midst of a clash of civilizations. With the collapse of the Communist bloc, he argued, the world would become increasingly dominated by contradictions between rival civilizations, groups so distinct that they were bound to clash. Of these there were many, but the biggest conflicts were likely to arise between the “civilizations” Huntington dubbed the “Western” and the “Islamic.” The extreme right wing shows its acceptance of this theory through crude attacks on anything Muslim, whether by protesting an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan or burning copies of the Koran….

Book Review: The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves—and Why it Matters

Over the past few months, North Korea has been been in the headlines even more than usual. A partial list includes a revelation through the Wikileaks documents on the Afghanistan war that Osama bin Laden’s money man flew to North Korea to buy weapons, the seizure of a South Korean fishing ship (again) and threatening to blow the entire peninsula to hell because South Korea accused the North of sinking one of its ships. Most recently we’ve seen Jimmy Carter travel to Pyongyang to secure the release of Aijalon Gomez, an American who was sentenced to eight years of hard labor after straying across the border into North Korea from China. During his seven-month imprisonment, Gomez was driven to such despair by the experience that…

I’m not going to protest President Obama

EDIT: When this post was originally written, it was roundly criticized on leftist and Stalinist websites as being too subservient to the Democratic Party. We’ve learned a lot in the intervening years, including that much of the anti-Democratic (and anti-democratic) “left” posturing actually came out of Russia itself. As it turns out, much of what I said below was right: those who condemned Obama for this or that were wrong, and they didn’t learn: they did the same thing to Secretary Clinton, harping on every single wrong or perceived wrong. I hope the American left, including many in the Sanders camp, will move beyond this kind of thing. One can dream… (April 11, 2017) I’ll say it out front: I’m not going to spend my time…

Venezuela provides low-cost heating oil to US needy

BRONX, N.Y. – Residents of the Fordham-Bedford cooperative housing project, home to thousands of working-class people, were facing desperate times. Many were unable to pay their electric bills, and their lights were shut off. A desperate mother had lost her job and could not afford to pay the rent. This holiday season promised to be hard for the parents: they weren’t going to be able to afford gifts for their children. Then Citgo stepped in. On December 6, Democratic Representative Jose Serrano, along with Citgo CEO Felix Rodriguez, leaders of neighborhood organizations, and Venezuela’s ambassador to the United States, Bernardo Alvarez, delivered the first installment of 400 million liters of Citgo heating oil earmarked for New York City, to be sold to those in need…

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