Where have all the flowers gone?



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. 


  1. God Bless President Trump for tweeting what all true red blooded Americans all want to say.

  2. Thanks for the thinking, Art.

    Given that the communist/socialist/liberal/progressive/left (where do they go next in the redefinition exercises required by every sham?) controls the courts, your advice is probably cogent. However, short of having to bow to raw force, the only thing that restrains this crowd is the emphatic rule of law. Lawlessness is the fuel for their systemic abuse of the freedoms of the rest of us. As you would know, Alinsky did not invent this system. He is just the most recent expert author on this ancient practice.

    Their elite knows that there is a limit to the lawless chaos they can employ without it running past their control and destroying the levels of stability that even they need for their own profiteering. Their control of law enforcement (creation of law is flatly secondary) at both the courtroom and street level is key to their maintenance of those limits. Even so, I worry a bit that if we give up our persistent adherence to the rule of law (with laws made in the pattern of our constitutional system and not by the mob rule of citizen initiatives), we do two things. We play into their hands, and we actually propagate their intended destruction of our constitutional system.

    That could happen because, even with an awareness that their instigated chaos could bite them, they care only for their dominance and not for our nation or national system. When the rule of law is fully bypassed, then their contrived chaos runs past control, and we are all destroyed. However, that reality is not enough to restrain them because they are like the faker in the story of King Solomon’s two “mothers.” They care little that the baby is cut in half. We alone have that care. If their own self aggrandizement kills the nation, they do not really care – even to the point of their own destruction. But since we do, we must retain a full on appeal to the rule of law and hold everyone accountable to its principles.

    • If you read Alinsky, his intent is to break your law enforcement system by overwhelming it with law-breaking. In the interest of brevity I didn’t go into how to deal with leftist lawlessness in the long run. My experience taught me that you let them be themselves. They are trying to provoke you into doing something stupid and preferably violent; the very worst thing you can do to them is ignore them. If you ignore them, they do ever crazier things, often violent things trying to get you to react and the shed support with every escalation. Finally they do something indefensible and you smash them like bugs. However, if you move while they’re still sympathetic figures, you lose.

      • This is exactly how you deal with them. Our country and our constitution allows for people to make total unabashed fools of themselves, I applaud them every chance I get. The reason I celebrate people being allowed to make total unabashed tools of themselves is myriad, the main being that fools attract attention and the more daylight the better the disinfectant, the next being that I believe our founders were geniuses and if we trample the rights of a few we trample the rights of all. A person wearing a superhero costume chained to a door is a great photo-op, not for the person in the costume but for serious discussion, do you want a person wearing a superhero costume to represent your cause? It’s just like the people on this site, from both sides, calling names…do you want them representing your cause?

        The last reason I celebrate the freedom to be a fool, because none of us a perfect and I like to play the part of the fool from time to time. Even if it is vicariously through my stalker who will no doubt add his contributions below my comment here.

      • If the strategy you are suggesting is actually useful I am curious as to why we are waist deep in commie scum nationally? Why has this movement done nothing but grow over the last century?
        It has even made it all the way up the west coast to what I once thought to be the most inhospitable ground on the planet for it to take root.

        Regardless of the good or the bad there is one thing post-Weimar Germany didn’t have and that was communists. It didn’t get that way by ignoring them.
        The way you lose to cancer is by letting it remain, the same can be said for communism.
        I would encourage all people to vocally oppose this evil ideology, and not sit passive as it roots in our great state.

        • The Left Coast has historically been anything but inhospitable to communists. The International Workers of the World, the Wobblies, were and are openly communist and had a significant presence in the West, particularly the Northwest. The long-time leader of the West Coast Longshoremen’s Union, Harry Bridges, was an avowed communist and when the US tried to run him to ground showed up with his comrades on the balcony of The Kremlin. One may wonder why Comrade Obama’s family were habitués of Harry Bridges’ towns Seattle and Honolulu.

          From the mid-Seventies Alaska’s government was firmly in the hands of the McGovernite wing of the Democrats, the Ad Hoc Democratic Coalition, many of whom were open communists. While Jay Hammond was a nominal Republican much of his Administration were Ad Hoc Democrats and their protégés are still in power in the Executive Branch. Ironically, in those days organized labor was a conservative force in Alaska politics. Today the most powerful force and largest organized body in Alaska politics is unionized public employees and the leadership of those unions ranges from leftist trade unionists to open communists.

          Frankly, the left has controlled the Ed Schools since the Thirties. I wasn’t politically aware enough to realize it at the time but even in the rural South in the Fifties and Sixties my teachers were New Deal Era liberals and by the time I got to college in ’67, the communist professors were sitting there waiting for me in the Humanities. If you go straight from public school or college into government, the arts, entertainment, the media, or the non-profits, you can keep the same dumbass leftist ideas you had sitting cross-legged on a dorm floor smoking dope for the rest of your life. Leftist political correctness has conquered corporate HR and Legal departments so even corporate America has turned sharply leftward.

          I speak as a public manager who had to deal with Alinsky disciples. Were I an elected official, I would at least advocate being more aggressive towards the left, but I also have no illusion about what a rare and precious commodity courage is in politics.

          • Some weeks or months ago, I replied to one of your columns. The one thing I left out of my comment was the influence of the Ad Hoc Democrats. Before that, the legislature and even the UA Board of Regents consisted mostly of businesspeople with the occasional lawyer or labor leader thrown in. The major accomplishment of the 8th Legislature (or after the Ad Hocs gained a foothold in the state Democratic Party and Terry Gardiner, Russ Meekins Jr. and Bill Parker, among others, were elected) was to pass a conflict of interest disclosure law so severe that it forced businesspeople out of the legislature in significant numbers. The influence that lawyers and labor leaders have enjoyed ever since is certainly measurable.

  3. Since most Alaskans have been alive the legislative process involved spending more money each year so that more Democrats could be hired, because they will vote for Democrats who will spend more money to hire more Democrats. Life was great – until Dunleavy came along, because now some Democrats will have to find new jobs, God forbid, maybe in the private sector. That’s unacceptable, so obviously the Governor must be recalled and legislators that didn’t go to Juneau must be voted out of office. Then again, maybe that won’t happen. This year’s legislative process represents a massive “no confidence” vote against the status quo, or what I refer to as defying the law of gravity. At some point gravity wins. The longer disequilibrium persists, the tougher the correction.

  4. I think the Wasilla legislators the mayor and PD/Troopers showed great restraint in not rounding the protesters up and hauling them away in handcuffs. At the end of the day the Wasilla session couldn’t call a quorum thus not go into session so it was likely best they just stood to the side and watched them scream. I don’t condone the protesters’ behavior by any means and had the same thing happened in Juneau I bet they would have been hauled away. But due to the unique arrangement of this session, I think taking the high road with the idiot protesters was the best course of action.

  5. That poor, old White woman in the photo has her hands folded, as if praying. What does she represent? Not an oppressed minority or woman of color. She must be a principled Democrat. Shackled and chained to people who view themselves as wronged in history. By who? Who are the perps? Anybody want to guess? But this old White woman wants to be a victim. Another victim. That’s the way to get attention. Be a victim. Look like a victim. Act like a victim. Get chained up and look like someone’s slave. But where are the perps who put chains on these victims? You’re looking at them.

    • Sadly, many non-minorities can only find their personal worth and virtue by worshipping minorities and victims. For some, their white guilt is overwhelming. I find it to be a ridiculous act and ignore it — that tends to drive them nuts. I leave it to them to try to explain the twisted rationale for their behavior. Since they really can’t explain, we end up with these foolish little scenes in which the protesters “feel righteous” and nothing else is actually accomplished.

  6. Art, I wrote an extensive paper on Alinsky based on his biography and other references and his legacy to our current generation of his philosophy of “The End Justifies the Means” that I can send to you if you wish. Just tell me how.

    Doug Ferguson
    Palmer, AK

    • I spent the last decade of my State career with those lovely leather-bound reporters and hornbooks gathering dust as my paperback copy of “Rules” got more and more ragged and dog-eared. I went so far as to have staff digest it down to a “playbook” of sorts and we pulled all authority for dealing with unions into our office so we could call the plays. I’d love to read your paper. Even though we’ve been dealing with Alinskyite political organization since the Clinton years, far too few conservatives/Republicans have really grasped what we’re dealing with. Send it to [email protected] at your convenience.

  7. @Sean P. Ryan

    The thread got to narrow so I’m replying here. When I first came to Alaska I was only beginning my recovery from college so I rather naturally fell in with some of the Ad Hoc types. My introduction to Alaska politics was sitting cross-legged on the floor smoking dope and planning the revolution. I really needed good health insurance back then and that meant a union job. Being a leftover half-hippie from the Sixties would get you elected as a shop steward, but I quickly learned that you weren’t going much further than that with those ideas; organized labor was pretty conservative in those days. As I worked my way up the union hierarchy I learned that labor was the primary opposition to the Ad Hoc sorts.

    Fast forward: I left the world of organized labor and Democrat politics in 1980. I used the courage of my connections to do pretty well in the private sector in the oil boom days of the early Eighties and when the price of oil and the Alaska economy collapsed in the mid-Eighties I sought refuge first with the federal government and then with the State government.

    Jay Hammond was nominally a Republican, but hardly a man is now alive that remembers that the Ad Hoc sorts abandoned Bill Egan, the Democrat incumbent, and supported Hammond for Governor. Much of his Administration was Ad Hoc Democrats and in his first term the Legislature was dominated by the Ad Hoc group. When I went to work for the State in ’87 many of them were still around either as appointees or direct reports and most of the State Range Twenty-somethings that really run the government were hired or promoted by and protégés of the leftist Democrats that came to government in the Hammond Administration. I don’t think there are any Hammond appointees left in State government, but most everyone in a position of power even today is a protégé of one.

    Some day I’ll figure out how Bill Wiemar and Bill Parker, people most considered the Lenin and Trotsky of the Ad Hoc Democratic Coalition, and who the Palmer Frontiersman once called the two most dangerous men in Alaska came to be in Parker’s case an elected official and later a high-level appointee in, of all places, the Department of Corrections, and Wiemar became the head of the outfit that did all the State’s drug testing and later which ran all its Halfway Houses. That tells you just about all you need to know about Democrat politics in Alaska.

    I kinda’ agree with you about active measures to drive business people out of government. It was graphically evident to me when I first went to work for the State that the leadership culture of the State truly hated the business community. The other thing at work, however, is the fact that there really isn’t much of an Alaska business community any more. There are trendy shops, bars, and restaurants owned by Alaskans, but most of them are tightly connected with the politico/lobbyist set and mostly Democrats. The rest of Alaska business is corporate. The guy wearing the clip-on tie running the big box store doesn’t give a damn about Alaska culture or politics; he only cares about making his numbers and getting promoted out of here. Alaska business has little or no influence on the media here; a corporate ad buyer in the Lower 48 really doesn’t care if the ADN is a leftist rag or if the TV station is to the left of Radio Moscow in the Seventies.

    When I was director of labor relations for the State it often seemed like I had Saul Alinsky pulling me one way and the Governor General of the British East India Company pulling me the other. But the reality is that even the dominant economic force in the State, the oil industry, doesn’t really care about Alaska politics other than as it directly effects their industry. There were two Prop Ones on the ballots back in ’14, IIRC. The oil industry was directly effected by the oil taxation issues and they moved Heaven and earth to prevail. Alaska was dramatically affected by the AO-37 vote; that issue fundamentally changed Alaska politics, but there was no organized support for Mayor Sullivan’s position; the craziness in State government for the last five or six years is the direct result of that.

    • Thanks for the reply, Art. I had the good fortune to have a number of lengthy one-on-one conversations with Joe Vogler over the last seven years of his life. He repeatedly stressed that in 1974, the people who voted for him would have voted for Egan had he not been on the ballot. The earliest years of the Hammond adminstration occurred before my time here, but the influence of the “posey sniffers”, as Vogler was fond of calling them, was quite obvious. A lot of that had to do with the Alaska Conservation Society; growing up in Fairbanks, I’m very well aware of the influence Celia Hunter and Ginny Wood had. During his first year as lite guv, Lowell Thomas Jr. was asked by the rector of Holy Trinity to deliver a sermon explaining his environmentalist views in the context of dominion as outlined in the first chapter of Genesis. So the leftist influence of the administration is something I’m aware of. Hammond himself being a Republican came from his childhood in northern New York and southern Vermont, where Republicans held a foothold even though it wasn’t a conservative kind of Republicanism, at the time found mostly in various portions of the Midwest and West.
      As for the business community: I came across an editorial from 1958 by Essie Dale, who was a territorial legislator and UA regent, bemoaning the effect that regional and national chains were having on local merchants like herself. So the position of the local business sector has been tenuous for quite some time. I was able to make a living in small business over a good portion of my life, but there are any number of things I did for a living in the 20th century that I would not attempt to return to simply on account of how far the economy has shifted in a certain direction.

  8. Thanks Art. They used to teach your explanation of history in high school civics and history classes back in the ’60s… By the ’70s, the history of the communist take over of America was buried by the “education” (propaganda) establishment.

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