The New-New Left are even bigger pansies than the old New left, and neither has a gram of the testicular weight of the real thing. This is demonstrated in their posturing and mock defiance, which vanishes in the event of any pushback.
“Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.” (Apparently, Clemenceau said this, not Churchill).
While I had pretty much left the mild socialism of my college and early working years behind by age 25, I still have a soft spot for some old lefties. Very old lefties, not Ramparts writers wondering if they should get guns in case Nixon canceled the election, or sitting around discussing how cool the Panthers were because they did have guns, as David Horowitz described in his memoir of the 60s. I knew people like that back then, and laughed; I snickered as well in recent years when I encountered expatriates who claimed to have fled Bush’s Police State. There is certainly a lot of Big Government around, but I don’t remember hearing about Cheney run Lubiyankas, although the EPA recently imprisoned some Gibson guitars.
Nor do more active “activists” of the revered 60s measure up. Bill Ayers
and his consort Bernardhine Dohrn were at the very least intimately involved with people who killed people with bombs and ambushes, but they, and no one else I’m aware of, never joined a military unit to fight imperialism. For one thing, they would have had to get up in the morning, and then face people who shot back. Real fighters don’t smoke a lot of weed either, as it slows your reaction time. And while I believe the NVA was fairly open to romance and marriage within its ranks, there weren’t any orgies on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Back in the 90s, I met an elderly fellow, an artist, who had left his native Sweden in 1919 to join the socialists in Munich during the three month Soviet, and although he didn’t brag, it was clear he’d been out on the streets fighting the Freikorps. He had contributed some illustrations to “Vorwarts, “ the revolutionary newspaper, and knew the editor, Ret Marut, whom many think went on to write as B. Traven, author of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Wow! This was pure gold.
Then he’d fled to Moscow, and somehow made his way to Vladivostok, and having had enough of revolution, took ship for San Francisco. How exactly he accomplished that, he didn’t say, and I didn’t ask as it might have been he’d spent some time with the Whites as well.
It was well worth listening to his anti-Republican diatribes for an afternoon of amazing stories. The Swede had retired after along career as an art teacher in junior college, and this kind of thing was what I expected in the way of political discourse from teachers anyway, but in this case, he’d earned it. When I finally confessed to being one of Wall Street’s minions myself, he wasn’t that taken aback, as he was so pleased to meet some one who had any idea what he was talking about, although he did ask me to reconsider leftism, an my mother was wont to ask me to take another look at Catholicism. How refreshing compared to the “fighters” of my generation, who thought taking a little tear gas at People’s Park was earning revolutionary chops.
Defiance in the face of unlikely retaliation was a trademark of the 60s lefties. Listen to Neil Young in “Southern Man: ” gonna cut him!” No you’re not ,Neil,. At the time you were hanging out between concerts in La Honda and chasing young chicks( I knew a girl who knew a girl…) People like Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerener, did the heavy lifting way before you “spoke out.” This was 1970. The land mark civil rights legislation some years passed, the bridge at Selma just a bridge. The battle was over.
“Four dead dead in Ohio” pretty much did the trick. (And two dead and twelve wounded at Jackson, State, but never mind. Would mess up the rhyme scheme.) These are great songs, but I just listen to the guitar work. Chicago? Try Tien An Men or Tharir Square.
Leftie activists do show up in combat zones now and then, but Hanoi Jane played with an antiaircraft
gun when the skies were clear. I’ve been unable to find any references to Viet Nam War Era Abraham Lincoln brigaders, other than American turncoat Marine Robert Garwood,who claimed he was captured, but may have crossed over.
Or leftists show up prepared for combat they can be pretty certain will not occur, “What if they gave a War and no one came,” indeed. The “Generation of 68” is still congratulating itself for going to the barricades in Paris. It was a pretty fair bet that DeGaulle was not going to rake Hausser’s broad boulevards with grapeshot, . Unlike the Communards, they got a party instead.
DeGaulle famously skewered these brats and their infantilism with the term “chie-en-lit( bed shitters”),
to which they wittily responded “Le chi en lit, c’est lui.” Decades later, it’s clear that “Les chi en lits, ce sont ils, ” or something to that effect. (High school French was a long time ago.) Red Danny is still with us, after a detour into pedophiliac pedagogy,
Few remember Bruce Cockburns”s 1980 “If I had a rocket Launcher.” The song was a protest against the genocidal, decades long war of various Guatemalan governments against the Indians, the intermittent support for which is certainly one of many blights on US foreign policy history, but still, my reaction at the time, was ”so get one.” He could have passed the hat to Jackson Browne(“Lives in the Balance,”and of course who is soon to appear on the OWS CD, which I’ll pirate via bittorrent so I can make fun of it.) and other buddies.
Still, the Viet Nam Era lefties would at least speak their names. The time saw reams of earnest analyses of “The New Left,” but today’s left term themselves ”Progressives,” you know, guys sorta like Bob LaFolette, concerned with farm cooperatives and public utilities. Big hearted Minnesota farmers. Lots of people are against socialism, few speak in favor of communism thee days, but who doesn’t like progress?
Instead, today’s left sympathizers, I mean progressives, hide out at the Huffington Post and the activists call themselves Occupy Wall Street. And no, despite Michael Moore’s efforts at instant pop hagiography, the Zuccotti Square folks and their clones elsewhere are not equal to the protesters in Beijing, ( Although Michael would have a better chance against a tank than the iconic lone protester did.(Yes that’s an ad hominem attack, for which I feel no shame as mister Moore has made lots of bucks using the same technique)
A little pepper spray sends these soi-disant revolutionaries into fits of self pity and , and actual blood, well you’d think it was Petrograd 1905. As for the behavior that precedent these fascist attacks, on “peaceful protestors,” there is plenty of visual evidence to support the view that the police were, if anything, over patient. The cossacks would have had their sabers out in minutes.
Nothing new here. Just look at the prevalence of Che t-shirts. The good Doctor Guevara, murderer, Iberian racialist,and just plain dilettante. Both the writer and dicrector of “Motor Cycle Diaries” seem quite oblivious to the factual irony that Che didn’t finish the trip, and couldn’t even fill out a two week committement to a free clinic,
Some OWS types have shown up in Anarchist,and even Wobbly(International Workers of the World) tees. The woblies trqvelled around by jumping freights and organizing strikes. As for the anarchists, every time I see a “No Pasaran” poster in a non-smoking San Franicisco Mission district cafe where white guys in Mother Africa caps are busily massaging their Macs, I want to puke. The Spanish anarchists needed their cigars to light dynamite, and when facing Falangist firing squads, shouted “Me Cago en Dios!” just before they went to eternity. This is Spanish for “I shit on God,” and no doubt pissed off the very Catholic Francoists, but is it is also a common Spanish expression inidcating feelings from exasperation, to utter despair. If you showed OWS to the shades of some POUM fighters( the militia with which Orwell fought), I think they might say,”Me cago en ellos.”
As for Trotsky, I don’t know if he would laugh or weep. No doubt, both. Then he would order OWS to some part of the front where they would be quickly dispatched. I do miss those old lefties.