Thursday, January 05, 2017

Comrade Michael Walzer: The Historical Task of the Left in the Present Period

Dissent has an article from Comrade Michael Walzer , the influential socialist professor:
We should promote a militancy all our own, identifiable as leftist, social democratic, or socialist in form and content. Think of this as the continuation of Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign—though we cannot depend on the energy and unexpected charisma of one old man. We need bench strength, which we haven’t had in a long time: many Bernies or, even better, many Michael Harringtons, Norman Thomases, Dorothy Days, and Eugene Debses. In any case, we need men and women speaking the language of the left at meetings, rallies, demonstrations, and marches.

Though I hope defense isn’t our permanent posture, there are advantages in defensive politics (as in defensive warfare). We are defending values that are more widely held than our numbers suggest. We have strong positions from which to fight, and when we fight for the nearby public school, or the teachers’ union, or the immigrant family down the block, or for city air that we can breathe, we will find allies. And some of these allies, in the course of the battle, will come to recognize themselves as leftists. In recent decades, social democratic and welfarist politics has been called boring; the defense of social democracy against a ferocious assault won’t be boring at all.
Socialist hysteria in action.