The American Left's New Game Plan: Stalinism Without All The Killing But Still Lots of Cooperation and Comradeship. And Probably Banjo Playing.


A realistic Left should revive the notion of a Popular Front, shorn of its Stalinist pedigree. Criticize, prod, and pressure Obama and his advisers to live up to their stated goals—and more. But recognize that the Left has neither the institutional clout nor the credibility to set out on its own. Every era of reform in America has been brief; each has depended on the alliance, however troubled, of clever politicians and left-wing activists. Liberals and leftists need to build and rebuild movements that can help counter the surging right and force Obama to advance changes he still believes in. But the insiders and the outsiders need one another. The only real alternative will be a government led by the likes of Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.

That's Georgetown prof and William Jennings Bryan enthusiast Michael Kazin, writing in Dissent.

I don't even know what to say about stuff like this, especially given that Kazin's predicate for this suggestion was John McCain placing a hold on an Obama nominee for the National Labor Relations Board. Somehow that seems like smaller stakes than the one faced by the old Popular Front, which famously sought to minimize American outrage over Moscow's show trials and to tamp down U.S. interest in preventing Nazi and Soviet aggression in Europe (until the Germans invaded Russia, that is, which explains how the likes of fellow travelers Pete Seeger and Dalton Trumbo abruptly shifted from anti-interventionist polemics to calls for total war against Hitler).

More important, what's with the need to revive Stalinist tactics "shorn of" Stalinist pedigrees? If the left can't just say that they should work with liberals to advance common goals, what the hell is wrong with them?

And here's some free advice: The right isn't surging because of anything it's done. Bush was terrible and Obama is shaping up as even worse when it comes to bailing out connected people and not doing a damn thing to help everybody else. If Kazin's vanguard wants to help the left, they would do well to start attacking, rather than enabling, a guy who has shown precious little interest in the "small people."