Radical Left

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."

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  1. Yes, that’s right, the left needs to employ Stalinism without the killing. Because there was nothing inherently oppressive or murderous about Stalinism. It was just a silly mistake.

    1. In Soviet Union, state kills you!

    2. I am almost done reading Life and Fate. Towards the end, there is this fabulous conversation between an old Checkist in Lubyanka and his cellmate. The Checkist talks about how the mistake of the camps was that they didn’t properly use all of the skills of the prisoners. And how if they could use the prisoners’ skills, the camps would just merge with society. There would be no more arrests because there would be no more camp and freedom, just a big camp. It is absolutely brilliant writing. And goes to the heart of how the real left thinks.

      1. One big, happy prison.

        1. Snake Plissken: Where’s the President?
          Cabbie: The Duke got him. Everybody knows the Duke’s got him. You don’t have to put a gun to my head. I’ll tell you.
          Snake Plissken: Who’s the Duke?
          Cabbie: The Duke? The Duke of New York, A-Number-1, the Big Man, that’s who!
          Snake Plissken: I wanna meet this Duke.
          Cabbie: You can’t meet the Duke! Are you crazy? Nobody gets to meet the Duke. You meet him once and then you’re dead!

    3. If there was one lesson from “The Road to Serfdom” which struck me as evident, yet widely ignored was why “the worst rise to the top”…. Redistributionist plans will always face a familiar problem: property owners who don’t want to give up their stuff.
      You can try propaganda, moral suasion, whatever… but eventually the only way to get tehir stuff is over their dead bodies. Hence after a few tries, disappointments you always end up with Stalin/Hitler/Mao who has the lack of scruples to get the plan implemented. (Of course, even then it won’t actually work at making people better off..)

      1. “property owners who don’t want to give up their stuff.”

        Or more in general: people who won’t give up their rights.

  2. “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.”

    But Nick, they don’t have any interest in the “small people”. So why the hell would they want to do that?

    1. They want the small people to vote for them.

  3. Just what we need – more Stalinism, only with better marketing this time.

    1. Yeah, and how many times have you heard the old routine that communism or socialism is good “in principle”, the implication being that we just have to do it right and with the right people, that it has to be nice authoritarianism?

      1. This reminds me of that Star Trek episode with Nazis.

        1. “How would you classify this one?”

          “Very difficult. Note the sinister eyes and the malformed ears. Definitely an inferior race.”

          1. Yeah, that one. Where the history professor tried to introduce Nazism without the murdering. Totally and absolutely irrelevant to this thread, of course.

            Are we doomed to repeat future history?

            1. Totally and absolutely irrelevant to this thread, but Kirk would have personally thrown Wesley out of the bridge.

              1. If you mean out an airlock attached to the bridge, I believe you are correct.

                And, incidentally, removing Wesley is always relevant.

                1. Kirk would never sing to children in a crisis, either.

                  1. I like Picard and everything, but no. Hell no.

                    1. And Kirk would never waste a holodeck on something stupid like Dixon Hill.

                    2. Why would Kirk use a holodeck? His whole life was bigger than any holodeck fantasy. Any kind of holodeck fantasy.

                    3. Kirk would’ve figured out how to kill Q.

                    4. He did that, in effect, in the very first Kirk episode!

                    5. Kirk once fought a Greek god. And won.

                      Kirk once made a cannon out of bamboo, sulfur, potassium nitrate, and charcoal, and fired diamonds into the heart of his enemies.

                      When Kirk doesn’t trust the Romulans, he fires at them. When Picard doesn’t trust the Romulans, he gets fired at.

                    6. You know what’s great about Kirk? Everything we’re saying is true about him. It’s not made-up shit like with Chuck Norris.

                    7. In one of the Q Trilogy books, Trelane from TOS finds a way to become more powerful than the Q, and sends the Q we know and love back in time and dispersed around the outer edge of the galaxy.

                      Interesting plotline, really. Good reads.

                    8. If something like a holodeck is invented, humanity is doomed. Might as well rename it the jizzdeck and pitty the janitorial staff that has to clean it up.

                    9. Wouldn’t the janitorial staff also be doing nothing but holodecking?

                    10. How about anon bot Data?

                    11. The janitorial staff will be holograms themselves. Of course, things could get tricky if the holograms begin using holodecks within the holodeck.

                    12. If that’s not reality–that is, we’re not in some vastly nested loop of virtual reality experiences–I’ll be surprised.

                    13. No. It wouldn’t be for the “small” people.

                    14. Main plot point of the John Barnes’ novels The Merchants of Souls and The Armies of Memory. Most humans spend only 7 years of their lives outside “The Box,” working make-work jobs to feel productive.

                      All four of his Thousand Cultures novels are very good.

                    15. That was for Maverick at 6:15.

                    16. I’ll have to put this on my reading list. Thanks.

                    17. Okay, I have reserved A Million Open Doors at the library.

        2. omg, that episode is on KDOC right now.

          1. Synchronicity.

  4. I have a no idea what you say. I will say you are racist, and misinformed.

    1. Most excellent. How did you manage to come across that image?

      1. Stole it from someone (Holy Taco) who stole it.

  5. “Liberals and leftists need to build and rebuild…”

    Not sure I understand the distinction between “liberal” and “leftist.” “Country” and “western”, sure, I get that: two different types of music.

    can anyone explain the difference between liberal and leftist?

    1. Personal grooming?

    2. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the difference between liberals and leftists is that leftists believe there will be no need for particapatory democracy once the ‘right people’ are in charge.

      1. Plenty of anti-statist leftists. Emma Goldman comes to mind.

    3. Liberals still suffer from the illusion that they have something in common with classical liberals — they just want to get to freedom a different way, by ending economic coercion.

      Leftists don’t even pretend to want to play nice.

    4. The same difference that always exists between foxes and hedgehogs.

    5. can anyone explain the difference between liberal and leftist?

      Liberals still somewhat pretend to be for capitalism, with certain checks and “safety nets”, while leftists will actually admit to being socialists.

    6. Liberals want more quazi-socialist/labor and egalitarian/regulatatory reform within capitalism while leftists range from “please make every country Sweden” to Socialism and Anarchism and their various branches.

  6. He said Stalin. That makes him bad. doopty do. *eats cheetos*

    1. Conservatives are rabid pieces of shit.

      Gillespie knows this – but Koch wants him to bow now.

  7. Right. Gillespie has to descend into Michael Savage territory by quoting some university nose-picker here. His Koch masters must need some grist.

    The top capitalists are piling on for Democrats. GOP supporter John Chambers of Cisco has gone Dem. Uber Capitalists Page, Gates, Buffett, Soros, Brin, Ellison, Woz, et al. are pouring money into liberal coffers.

    Enjoy the nightstick, Gillespie.

    1. Hey shriek, can you make some sort of indication when you’re not going to make any sense? What am I saying–you never make any sense.

      1. Keep sucking limbaugh’s dick, epi. Aren’t you late for your John Birch Society meeting, you teabagging theo-twat?

        1. You’re my favorite completely insane person, shriek. I mean that.

          1. That was imposter shrike.

            I want bollo hats from the conservative idiots here.

            Lots of them.

            Keep posting imposters!

            1. How do I know this isn’t the impostor? Or if you have multiple personalities? Because it really wouldn’t surprise me if you had multiple personalities.

              1. You can’t know that, of course.

                But imposters prove me right. Its the bollo hat deal in Thomas Crown. The more they emulate the more I am proven right.

                Tell me why all the top capitalists support Obama? Which is a fact.

                1. Tell me why all the top capitalists support Obama?

                  Liberal guilt and “the treason of the intellectuals.”

              2. You can’t know that, of course.

                But imposters prove me right. Its the bollo hat deal in Thomas Crown. The more they emulate the more I am proven right.

                Tell me why all the top capitalists support Obama? Which is a fact.

                1. Bowler, you unmedicated psycho.

                  1. Bowler, you unmedicated psycho.

                    No, he actually did mean bollo hat. You take one of those funny little neckties made from a leather cord and tie it around your forehead Rambo-style.

              3. Who cares if it’s the impostor? Is there really a difference between a gibbering crazy person and the perfect imitation of same?

                1. But I follow the capitalists for profit.

                  The liberals are far superior.

                  Gillespie is a pencil man – a dolt who sups on his superiors teat.

                  1. That’s gotta be a fake shrike – he would never be able to use the word “sup” in the correct way.

                2. You have a point, seeing as it takes one to know one.

                  1. Bushitler-lover! I bet you voted for Halliburton, Christfag!

                3. Is there really a difference between a gibbering crazy person and the perfect imitation of same?

                  Good question.

                  1. The Trolling Test.

      2. Which simple combination of words befuddled you, Episarch?

        Imposters of mine here do hate me though – it incents me to post more.

        1. Please, stop picking on my son. He’s been so obsessed with posting on your website, he hasn’t licked my hoo-hoo in a week.

    2. “The top capitalists are piling on for Democrats. GOP supporter John Chambers of Cisco has gone Dem. Uber Capitalists Page, Gates, Buffett, Soros, Brin, Ellison, Woz, et al. are pouring money into liberal coffers.”

      They are not really true capitalists if they are partnering with the gov’t to try and secure their own positions of power. They then become facsists.

      1. No! They are tired of Bush era regulators favoring their opponents!

        1. Prolly a troll, but I’ll bite, name some regulatory agencies and the companies they favored under Bush.

          Furthermore, not supporting Obama != being a Bush supporter. This whole “your guy did it, so now we will do it for our friends” got old quick. Bush left office with 10% approval rating, it wasnt just the left and Democrats that didn’t approve of his agenda, it was libertarians and constitutional conservatives that also disliked him. It seems the only ones that continued to support him, were military occupationists and bible thumpers who were not all that politically informed or engaged.

          1. I am troll? I’ve posted here for 4 years you gay-fag.

            1. …which is amazing, since I have to find time to pleasure myself all over this picture of Chairman Mao…

              1. But when you go jizzin’ on pictures of Chairman Mao

                You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow

            2. H&R isn’t unionized. Seniority matters for twat.

            3. I am troll? I’ve posted here for 4 years you gay-fag… and I called Walter E. Williams a house nigger in another thread.

              But I’m not racist or a gay-basher.

    3. Are you confusing ‘capitalists’ with ‘people who believe in capitalism’?

  8. And what kind of liberal would ever support the nutjob William Jennings Bryan?

    He is the fucking Mike Huckabee of his day.

    By the way – the Huck is making a strong move for the felon vote!

    1. Nice. To the syllable what I was thinking when I read that.

  9. The top capitalists are piling on for Democrats.

    I’m torn. Should I respond:

    Thank God we got the money out of politics, then.


    I don’t suppose any of that filthy capitalist money went into politics before Citizens United.

    1. You’re a classic reactionary, RC Dean.

      Not that there is anything wrong with that.

      But your type has never offered a solution. You dwell in the past amongst forlorn Jesse Helms types.

      Rick Santorum is still living and running in 2012 though.

      I suspect he is your type.

    2. Hargle-Bargle, R C Dean. HARGLE-BARLGE, DAMN YOU!

      1. If I were alive, I’d be offended.

        1. Jesse, you have Rick Santorum.

          He hates everyone yet he “tossed” his dead fetus to his other chillun!

          Rick 2012!

          Us conservatives are retarded fucking idiots!

          (real shrike here)

  10. Anybody else getting the Russian dating ads? If they (the girls in the ad) come with Stalinism, how bad can it be?

    Here are some real Russian mail order brides.

  11. I haven’t looked at Dissent in a few years. In fact, I completely forgot it even still exists. Whenever I come across something like that I scroll to the bottom of the page before perusing the article. The mere fact that it is now the year 2010 and the site lacks an article commenting feature tells me all I need to know about Kazin’s notion of a Popular Front.

  12. can anyone explain the difference between liberal and leftist?

    If you have to ask you probably won’t understand the answer.

    1. You’re correct. I absolutely did not understand your fox/hedgehog analogy.

      Unless you meant that leftists have fuzzier tails, and liberals must sing to the moon to make the slugs come out.

      Was that it?

  13. I was one of the fifty people who bought (and eventually read) Kazin’s William Jennings Bryan Bio. Everytime I hear Mike Huckabee speak, I think of Bryan.

    It is religious rhetoric wrapped in statism/socialsim.

    1. Same shit, same fake cross of gold.

      WJB has an excuse – early 20th century.

      The Huckster is just your generic conservative fucking idiot.

      1. Whereas I am just a generic statist lapdog idiot.

        1. Will someone PLEASE clean shrike’s jizz off of me? This picture frame doesn’t have glass in it!

          1. Hoo-boy, that stuff’ll come back to bite you. Leaves quite the stain!

        2. another fake shrike!

          I love it!

          Wear my bollo, bitch!

            1. As a Christian I will suck Rick Santorum’s dick any time he wants!

              1. I am a diverse Republican. I intend to be the first president named after the frothy byproduct of anal sex. Since Nixon.

  14. I propose calling it “America 2.0: Just like East Germany, minus most of the razor wire and armed guards.”

    Man, am I a genius or what?

    1. Can we also do without the mustachioed women?

      1. Brett, you are now under CIA surveillance for daring to question The President.

      2. Racist!

      3. Hey, I bleach that thing, so back off.

        That ain’t the only thing I bleach. It is like silk platinum down there, and you want to know a secret?

        I’m as horny and and as hetero as it cums.

        And my cooch is as fresh and tender as a young virgins.

        The lesbian rumors are my fault, though. After Bill came home with an infection on his dick that made it go lopsided and crooked like that Jones bitch described I had to tell him I turned gay. What choice did I have? Every time he pulled that diseased thing out, I would have to go to the bathroom and puke.

        That is how much I love cock, I can’t stand to see an ugly one. A long saber is what this girl rides, not something that looks like moldy Polish sausage.

        1. Man, that’ll put a guy off his lunch. No loose-meat sandwiches for me, thanks.

          Now, that Angie Dickinson…

  15. Just want to say what a great blog you got here! I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

  16. Nick, I take issue with the title. Statists are incapable of playing the glorious banjo. They get confused by what they perceive to be chaos and get frustrated at their inability to control it and will not allow it to organize and come together naturally.

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