Sunday, October 09, 2011

Truest statement of the week II

That reactionary effort has its liberal or pseudo-left face as well, in the form of publications and organizations which declare sympathy for the protests, but insist that the movement must not at any cost break with the big business two-party system and those institutions, including the trade unions, which ardently defend it. The Nation magazine and the International Socialist Organization (ISO) play prominent parts in this regard.

The Nation is a house organ of the Democratic Party, with a long and discreditable history. During the 1930s, in alliance with the Stalinists of the Communist Party, the weekly magazine’s editors defended Franklin D. Roosevelt against the socialist left, helping to keep an insurgent working class under the thumb of the Democrats. It has supported and apologized for every Democratic administration, including the present one. The Nation is put out by affluent and complacent upper middle class types, who possess more than a small stake in the stock market and corporate America.

It should not be forgotten that in November 2008, Nation editor, publisher and part-owner Katrina vanden Heuvel described herself and her fellow editors and writers as “all jubilant about the new era of possibility opened up by Barack Obama’s victory,” asserting further that “Obama’s election marks a remarkable moment in our country’s history … a victory for the forces of decency, diversity and tolerance.” In fact, contrary to the hopes and wishes of millions who voted for Obama, the 2008 election has proven a victory for the forces of wealth, political reaction and militarism.

Now, the Nation proclaims its support for the Wall Street protests. Any participant or supporter, beware! In an editorial posted October 5, the magazine seeks to bring the movement safely within the sphere of respectable and thoroughly establishment politics.

After playing up to the “young protesters” in a manner that would embarrass any honest participant (“The kids are alright! … Yes, they’re angry, but they are also searching and optimistic and, above all, they have taken matters into their own hands”), the Nation editors get down to the business at hand.

“But what does Occupy Wall Street want? Whether with condescension or curiosity, that is the question being posed to the young people whose brilliant act of symbolic politics has landed them in the spotlight. Wisely, they are taking their time answering it.”

The Nation praises the one statement issued by protest leaders, which criticizes corporations for placing profits over people, then engages in this transparent sleight of hand: “The fact is, we on the left don’t have a scarcity of policy ideas. We’ve staged big rallies with detailed demands. We’ve called for a financial transactions tax and abolishing the carried-interest tax loophole, which benefits Wall Streeters. But we have lacked the power to put our ideas into practice.”

Who is this “we on the left” identified with the miserable and futile proposal to institute a “financial transactions tax,” supported by billionaires Warren Buffett, George Soros and Bill Gates and right-wing French president Nicolas Sarkozy? Vanden Heuvel and the Nation pretend that everyone participating in the protests is as cowardly and satisfied with a slightly reorganized version of capitalism as they are.

-- David Walsh, "The Nation, ISO seek to channel Wall Street protests back to the Democraci Party" (WSWS).
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