Monday, January 31, 2005

Democracy Now, The Left, and Negativity

I believe that it is time for the Left, and by this I do not mean the Democratic Party by any means, needs to think hard about the message that it is sending. I do not intend on using the radio show Democracy Now as a straw man here, but I think as that show is a principal outlet of leftist thought in America it's a useful, well, straw man, to discuss how negative the Left is. Has anyone ever heard Amy Goodman talk about a positive story? How does she or the others involved in the show see the world evolving? What is their political program? As far as I can tell, it's simply to criticize power for whatever it does, even if it does something that is not bad.

Perhaps this negativity comes out of the muckraking tradition in America, but at least Jacob Riis, Upton Sinclair, Ida Tarbell and the many other Progressive era muckrakers in America did agitate for positive change. I'm just not seeing Amy Goodman do this.

Let's take a hypothetical situation. Say there is a repressive government in Country A. Democracy Now will criticize the US and UN for not doing anything to stop the atrocities there. But then if they do go in and, by force naturally, overthrow that government, the show will criticize that as well. I don't really see how you can have it both ways. Now it's OK of course to criticize the US, say, for both leaving the Shiites out to dry in 1991 in Iraq and Abu Ghraib. There's lots to criticize throughout the Iraqi operation. But Left criticisms are simply knee-jerk reactions.

I suppose that it's easier to criticize than to agitate for a particular political program. Perhaps Democracy Now would lose listeners if they tried to push a certain agenda. But as a movement, such as the Left is a movement in America today, don't we need to form and push for specific programs? Don't we need to have an idea of what to do in Iraq in addition to criticizing what the American military is doing? It's my belief that we need to move beyond the kind of reactionary thought epitomized by Democracy Now and begin to formulate real agendas with plans to accomplish them. If we can do that, I feel that our ability to have a real say in the American political system will be greatly enhanced.