Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tale From the Bubble: Can The Left Talk to the Working Class? Does it Really Want to?

Hey! I'm a Normie.

The comments in the snapshot above that came to me from FB are interesting. I've seen a lot of the tendency described about within MORE -- some describe it as a bubble. I love the author's "cultural ghetto."

Some have said that is the reason MORE has not made much headway with the mass of rank and file teachers in the UFT after almost 7 years of existence. But MORE is evidence of certain tendencies on the left and many people on the left I know are not, nor ever have been, comfortable within the MORE environment. So the above comments did strike a note.

This year I finally came to the conclusion that MORE would aim its appeal to the left-leaning segment of the UFT and not grow much beyond that. There is definitely a left out there -- just as there was in the late 60s/early 70s when we tried to unite people under one banner but it all came apart in leftist sectarianism. So what else is new?

There is not even agreement on the left within the UFT - as recent internal disagreements point out. I mean if people like Mike Schirtzer, Arthur Goldstein and most of the people in ICE are not welcome in MORE we can't even say MORE can organize even the so-called "left" in the UFT.

The author talks about "the left" as not being able to talk to the working class because it does its main organizing in colleges. Many of the people active in MORE were organized in college rather than on the job, so they do bring that culture to organizing.

Bernie Sanders is the left yet he can talk to working class people. So my feeling is that the author is talking about a segment of the left.

"What is the left?" My Trump-supporting right wing friends call the NY Times the left. The left is hard to define.

Most of the people I know who call themselves "left" are socialists of some sort -- from Bernie Social Democrats (think of the socialist parties in Europe) to Marxist-Leninists who see a revolution as the only solution. And that category breaks down into the increasingly rare "Stalanist" vs the more numerous anti-Stalin Trotskyists - and Trots themselves break down unto multiple sectarian groups. Trots have an advantage when challenged that socialism didn't work by saying "that is not our version," which seems to have an appeal since it gives them hope.

While I think of myself as left I have not been able to pull the trigger on calling myself a socialist and an anti-capitalist - I believe in highly regulated capitalism -- though even that is being shaken by the realities of capitalism -- that the forces in control will gain more control - even over the press which can expose them.

Still, it is a mis-characterization to refer to "the left" without talking about the many variations, too complex an issue to delve into here.

I will say I've learned a hell of a lot about what constitutes the left from my work over the past almost 50 years in the UFT dissident movement - and recent events in the dispute between the leftists in ICEUFT and the leftists in MORE have given me further insights.

There will always be left sectarianism. (You can't herd cats). That is why my view of a big tent opposition with room for many political points of view has come crashing down. I never learn. Maybe this time.

MORE - or LESS - to come as I sort things out.


  1. And where is the center? Last night I got a call from the Democrats hitting me up for 300 bucks. I gave the poor guy an earful about Hillary, Bernie and the Democrats' lack of a message. I put in my public school education plug. Finally, I suggested that he call someone else because he wasn't getting any money out of me.

    Abigail Shure

  2. There is a peasant revolt taking place that the fascist left, and champagne left ,don't understand. I told
    a Leninist friend that the working class of the UK voted for Brexit. He didn't understand. He's bought into
    the loss of sovereignty globalist camp, where spying on, and censorship of opponents is accepted. Then again! He is a centralist.

  3. Thoughtful piece, Norm. I'm sorely disappointed that MORE chose to go the way it has lately. The idea of a big tent makes so much more sense. There is power in numbers, always.

  4. The left is too wrapped up in identity politics, grievance mongering, and #resistance to worry about unexciting issues such as appealing to the working class. At some point they'll realized why they got walloped in the electoral college. Of course each of Reagan's repeat victories startled the very same insulated left so you never know.

  5. Socialism doesn’t work because people like to own things. It creates lousy art and unhappy people.


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