December 13, 2004
(Swans - December 13, 2004)
2004 was the year in which the lines between the hard and soft left were
drawn around the Kerry and Nader campaigns. While it would have been far
better if both camps were united around the Nader campaign, the hard
left was exemplary in sticking to its principles. History will record
that Swans, Press Action and Counterpunch played an important role in
giving voice to the Nader campaign. The people who read and identify
with the perspectives of these online publications will become a key
element in a renewed radical movement in the USA. Some sections of the
organized left also rallied around the Nader campaign. The International Socialist Organization stood out
in this regard. One might hope that in the future they will take further
initiatives in working in alliances with other leftists.
2004 was also marked by growing resistance to neoliberalism around the world. In Latin America, there has been a significant breach with the IMF and World Bank agendas to one extent or another. Even if other governments have not attained the kind of vanguard social and political character of Chávez's in Venezuela, they certainly represent openings for the left. Whatever the shortcomings of Lula in Brazil or Kirchner in Argentina, it is easier to push the mass movement forward under such relatively populist regimes. In the countries of the former Soviet bloc, there are signs of growing disenchantment with the capitalist status quo. Ordinary working people see figures such as Putin and the Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich as being more representative of their interests than the figures preferred by Wall Street and Washington. One would hope that eventually their own class demands will rise to the surface and that even more radical and democratic governments will come to power. In any case, the decade or so of surrendering to the demands of big capital seem to be coming to an end.
In all of these arenas, the role of the Internet in helping to connect leftists across the planet continues to grow. Just as the Gutenberg press served the social and political transformation of the early phases of the bourgeois revolution, so does the Internet serve working class and popular sectors today. With the price of a computer dropping to $350 in the United States and the cost of an Internet connection to $10 per month, it becomes more and more possible for the "sans-culottes" to operate on the same playing field as the rulers of society. The rapid growth of moveon.org, despite its tepid electoralism, indicates how easy it is for a grass-roots movement to come alive through networked computers. Down the road it is conceivable that far more militant formations will utilize the same kinds of fund-raising and organizing tools.
Finally, it is necessary to once again recognize the seriousness of the environmental crisis facing humanity. News reports about intensified global warming continue to increase. When Florida was struck by 4 hurricanes this year, it dramatized the consequences of altered climate patterns. Someday such storms might cost thousands of lives in the industrialized nations, just as they have already in underdeveloped and newly recolonized Haiti. If the left cannot integrate a Green perspective into its overall message, it might be proven irrelevant. Environmentalism is no longer the province of a pampered middle-class. It is necessary for the survival of humanity.
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America the 'beautiful' on Swans
Louis Proyect on Swans (with bio).
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This Week's Internal Links
2004: A Case Study In Forensic Irony - by Phil Rockstroh
2004: Diary Of A Man In Despair - by Michael Doliner
Empire Of Amnesia, 2004 - by John Steppling
2004: Reality in Perspective - by Jan Baughman
2004: Another Best and Worst Year - by Joe Davison
2004: The Lost Year - by Eli Beckerman
2004: The Insurgent Word - by Gerard Donnelly Smith
Retrospective On 2004, Or Why I Need More Sleep - by Joel Wendland
Beyond The Beyond: Reflections on a November Visited Upon us . . . Again - by Milo Clark
2004: We Could Use Some People Power In The U.S. - by Frank Wycoff
2004: The Superpower Kept Sinking - by Philip Greenspan
The Message Of 2004 - by Charles Marowitz
2004: A Year Of Frightening Regression - by Edward S. Herman
2004: The Year Of Disillusion - by Manuel García, Jr.
Death Genes: The Second Coming - Book Excerpt by Walker Percy
Libertad Bajo Palabra - Poem by Octavio Paz (also in French and in English)
Plantation Politics? Mimes, Minstrels And Miscalculation - by S. Jeffrey Jones
Blips #8 - From the Editor's desk
Letters to the Editor