By ART CHANCE
If we define “the Left” as the anti-establishment or anti-government factions in America, they’ve been singing songs, carrying signs, and sometimes breaking or blowing up things since the Seneca Falls convention in 1849.
America has been constantly beset by various “isms.” In the early days it was simply threat and intimidation followed by violence; police truncheons were met by brass knuckles.
By the late 19th Century, makeshift bombs were popular on the left. The occasional assassination was thrown in. Much of it centered on labor strife; sometimes it was company security versus strikers, sometimes police or National Guard v. strikers.
Usually the company or the government won because they had the guns. By the late 19th Century, the line between labor and communism/socialism was very blurred. The conflict between the government/establishment simmered but never subsided during the Spanish-American War and World War I. It rose to a boil in the 1920s and in the early days of the Great Depression. John Dos Passos’ works give a good view of the times.
To move to a Marxist vocabulary, FDR achieved an Historic Compromise with The New Deal. Most of the New Deal was essentially Marxist and served to placate the Left to some degree; enough to keep them sullen but not mutinous. I could write a couple thousand words on the communist Left and WWII, but I have word limits.
Suffice it to say that the Left largely made common cause with the US during the Great Patriotic War until the defeat of Germany. After that there is a good argument that the Hiroshima bomb was dropped on Tokyo and the Nagasaki bomb was dropped on Moscow. We don’t want to think about what would have happened had the US not been able to end WWII quickly.
This is turning into too much of a History class, so let’s rush through the Fifties and Sixties. The U.S. got really tired of Soviet interference in the U.S. government and its institutions and ran them to ground.
The communists of the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties became the liberals of the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties. Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh and others so damaged the liberal brand that by the ‘00s they decided to return to their old brand: Progressives. They thought they had damaged US education enough that nobody would remember that Progressive was just a term for a communist whose position wouldn’t allow them to be a party member.
The Civil Rights movement and the anti-war movement built modern leftism. Those of you old enough to have had any history in school remember the notions of the Old Left and the New Left.
The Old Left was the left of Stalin and the Comintern. The New Left was the world of the Trotskyites and ultimately Saul Alinsky. The Old Left believed in statism, in bureaucratic communism; that was the Soviet model. The New Left, the Trotskyites believed in the continuous revolution; there’s a reason Stalin had an ice axe put in Trotsky’s head.
Most of the U.S. Left adopted the Trotsky view and its primary apostle Saul Alinsky. I was still in the throes of a college education, so I read “Rules for Radicals” when it first came out in 1971. Ten or fifteen semesters of Life 101 got me over most of that and I consigned Alinsky to the dustbin of history.
I became reacquainted with Trotsky in the late 1980s when the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees – AFL-CIO came to Alaska.
I dealt with our supervisors being mau-maued, our buildings being occupied and picketed. We dealt with it pretty well here in Alaska even with a Democrat Administration. I watched the attack on Scott Walker in Wisconsin as they mobbed the Wisconsin capitol.
Sane people believe public facilities are public. The problem is that the “public” shouldn’t include violent criminals.
So, here’s the problem for sane people: Should you give them their Saul Alinsky moment? People I like and trust are saying that the legislators out it Wasilla should have had the protestors hauled out in handcuffs. Why would you give them that opportunity?
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.