Left liberals and counter-history

I read A Facebook post by an American Liberal comparing the refusal of the French Far-Leftist Jean-Luc Melanchon to choose between Emmanuel Macron and the rightist Marine Le Pen as President of France to the Left’s rejection of the German Social Democrats on the eve of WWI, resulting, ultimately, in the emergence of Naziism. He cited other similar cases where Communists of the 1920s and 1930s who refused to distinguish between the far right and those “insufficiently to the left,” ie. Social Democrats, thus paving the way for the fascist right and the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. He cites also the case of Fausto Bertinotti in Italy who withdrew his support for the center-left government of Romano Prodi and paved the road for the disastrous return to power in Rome of Silvio Berlusconi. This indeed sad history is compared to the choice (non-choice) between Clinton and Trump. And thus the nightmare of Trump in the White House.

I jettison such reasoning. There are many counter arguments. For example: it was not the fault of German Communists that Social Democrats, liberal and no less imperialist than the Right, supported the ultimately enthusiastic German role in World War I, in the aftermath of which Hitler, “the greatest evil of the century,” emerged. Nor did Communists dictate the Versailles treaties at war’s end that impoverished a barely defeated Germany, Europe’s major power. An imperialist Germany, yes, but no more than imperialist though then disintegrating British empire . . . and a sissified France living beyond its means on the backs of its poor and exploited colonies worldwide.

The historical truth is that the Liberal left (if Liberals deserve the name “left”) chooses the winning side no matter the price. In my novel in the works, Fragments: “Great conquerors like Napoleon believed that ‘history is the tale of the victors.’ . . . Still, as I come to know my new home (Rome), I realize that pure historicism has no heart. ‘It marches with the victors,’ as Walter Benjamin reminds us in confirmation of Napoleon. ‘And all rulers are the heirs of those who conquered before them.’

I believe that in the minds of many remains the greatest doubt of what evil they personally have contributed to doing to America in the election of Trump: especially in the minds of those who voted for Trump; in the minds of those who voted for Clinton; and in the minds of those who didn’t vote or perhaps never vote. I belong to the last category. Anti-political? No! I simply don’t want either. Anarchy? Somewhat, yes.

So what remains for those Americans who wanted neither candidate. First of all, there remains the outstanding accusation against the national committees of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Both are guilty in equal measure. But that is neither by now here nor there.

The problem is at the base of the superstructure. CAPITALISM. Lenin repeats: Shto delat” What is to be done? The answer to his question today must be: The base must go. As Eric Schechter so succinctly publicizes with his placards and his writing: Capitalism is cruel. However, the thinking person adds: Ipso facto, capitalism itself must go onto the trash pile of history. Not only anarchists warn that the crash of this financial-economic-political system is near.

Therefore the thinking person must intuit that the system must be overturned. Was Germany not utterly destroyed after the Nazi experiment? Italy devastated? Today America stands in line. Trump may be the last chance for the “great American revolution” that has never been.

Gaither Stewart, based in Rome, is a veteran journalist and essayist on a broad palette of topics from culture to history and politics, he is also the author of the Europe Trilogy, celebrated spy thrillers whose latest volume, Time of Exile, was recently published by Punto Press.

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One Response to Left liberals and counter-history

  1. John Dennis Roberts

    I suppose that this thing called capitalism will evolve itself out of existence the way that European feudalism apparently did from the 16th century onwards. With feudalism it took about two centuries of intellectual and ideological ferment preceding the actual breakdown of the mediaeval political, economic and social structures themselves, two centuries of ‘trickle down’.

    A veritable revolution in the way people thought had to take place before the intellectual foundations were laid and conceptual tools developed to allow people to step outside the cultural straitjacket of the time period and I tend to think this is the stage we are at now and that the actual practical effects of all this intellectualising have yet to bear fruit.

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