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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, December 03, 2004


In true dialectical fashion

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, December 03, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Michael Ledeen writes that the Left is dead. As a polemic, it is well-crafted. But does it realy make sense?

America had very little of the class hatred that dominated Europe for so long; American workers wanted to get rich, and believed they could. Leftist Europeans — and the bulk of the American intellectual elite — believed that only state control by a radical party could set their societies on the road to equality.

The success of America was thus a devastating blow to the Left.

Interesting read on history, but I disagree. If anything the Left has been the cause for reduced class tensions - because only via the Left has the middle class propspered (the rise of unions, wage and labor laws, consumer protection, regulation, etc). If you hark back to the era of unrovaled dominance of eth Right, ie that of President LcKinney and Tamany Hall, you see that class hatred was entrenched and corporatism rampant. It took the Left - in the person of Teddy Roosevelt, yes, a Republican - to argue for Progressive ideals and to make it possible for the average working Joe to actually make a living without backbreaking labor and indentured servitude.

Ultimately, Ledeen's vision of what the Left actually represents ia a straw man of immense scope. But the very things he lauds America for - especially the personal liberty enjoyed by the common man - are because of struggles left of center, not in spite of them.

If there is going to be a new concensus, it needs to reject any argument which seeks to reinterpret the history of social struggle towards social justice in this country as a partisan screed. Ledeen is a dinosaur in this respect.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.