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Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West


Before I get into this piece that
Chris Hedges does on the the trashing of Cornell West by the so called Liberal Establishment, I feel some back story needs to be made a bit clearer. This country had a fair strong leftist and socialist movement prior to WWII. However with the beginning of the cold war, McCarthyism and the anti-communist sentiment and witch hunts - this pretty much got decimated. In fact if you even thought about being anymore than slightly left of center politically and somebody found out, your entire carrier could very well be toast. This was especially true for those in the professions and college educated fields. And socialism ? Forgetaboutit.


So when Hedges takes the Liberals to task like he does here, you have to keep this in mind as it really has not changed much.

The capitulation of the liberal class to corporate capitalism, as Irving Howe once noted, has “bleached out all political tendencies.” The liberal class has become, Howe wrote, “a loose shelter, a poncho rather than a program; to call oneself a liberal one doesn’t really have to believe in anything.” The decision to subordinate ethics to political expediency has led liberals to steadily surrender their moral autonomy, voice and beliefs to the dictates of the corporate state. As Dwight Macdonald wrote in “The Root Is Man,” those who do not make human beings the center of their concern soon lose the capacity to make any ethical choices, for they willingly sacrifice others in the name of the politically expedient and practical.

By extolling the power of the state as an agent of change, as well as measuring human progress through the advances of science, technology and consumption, liberals abetted the cult of the self and the ascendancy of the corporate state. The liberal class placed its faith in the inevitability of human progress and abandoned the human values that should have remained at the core of its activism. The state, now the repository of the hopes and dreams of the liberal class, should always have been seen as the enemy. The destruction of the old radical and militant movements—the communists, socialists and anarchists—has left liberals without a source of new ideas. The link between an effective liberal class and a more radical left was always essential to the health of the former. The liberal class, by allowing radical movements to be dismembered through Red baiting and by banishing those within its ranks who had moral autonomy, gradually deformed basic liberal tenets to support unfettered capitalism, the national security state, globalization and permanent war. Liberalism, cut off from the radical roots of creative and bold thought, merged completely with the corporate power elite. The liberal class at once was betrayed and betrayed itself. And it now functions like a commercial brand, giving a different flavor, face or spin to the ruthless mechanisms of corporate power. This, indeed, is the primary function of Barack Obama.

And there is a reason for this. There is an Upton Sinclair quote that goes, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Which is as true today as it was when he made it. And for this very reason the Liberal Establishment in this country since WWII has not been all the liberal. These days they are even more entrenched with their 401Ks and other investments. Risking their law practice or medical practice or university professorships by coming out strongly for progressive agendas is simply not in the cards.

The liberal class, despite becoming an object of widespread public scorn, prefers the choreographed charade. It will decry the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or call for universal health care, but continue to defend and support a Democratic Party that has no intention of disrupting the corporate machine. As long as the charade is played, the liberal class can hold itself up as the conscience of the nation without having to act. It can maintain its privileged economic status. It can continue to live in an imaginary world where democratic reform and responsible government exist. It can pretend it has a voice and influence in the corridors of power. But the uselessness and irrelevancy of the liberal class are not lost on the tens of millions of Americans who suffer the indignities of the corporate state. And this is why liberals are rightly despised by the working class and the poor.

Indeed. The Liberal Establishment were never all that comfortable with the civil rights movement - mostly championed by the young - and some were even more hawkish on the Vietnam War than many conservatives.

The pillars of the liberal establishment—the press, the church, culture, the university, labor and the Democratic Party—all honor an unwritten quid pro quo with corporations and the power elite, as well as our masters of war, on whom they depend for money, access and positions of influence. Those who expose this moral cowardice and collaboration with corporate power are always ruthlessly thrust aside.

So is it any wonder that after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, these same people began championing Globalization and the so called War on Terror, all of which continue their economic status quo and their continued financial success ?

Leo Tolstoy wrote that there were three characteristics of all forms of prophecy: “First, it is entirely opposed to the general ideas of the people in the midst of whom it is uttered; second, all who hear it feel its truth; and thirdly, above all, it urges men to realize what it foretells.” Prophets put forward during their day ideas that the mass of people, including the elite, denounce as impractical and yet at the same time sense to be true. This is what invokes the rage against the prophet. He or she states the obvious in a society where the obvious is seditious. Prophecy is feared because of the consequences of the truth. To accept that Obama is, as West said, a mascot for Wall Street means having to challenge some frightening monoliths of power and give up the comfortable illusion that the Democratic Party or liberal institutions can be instruments for genuine reform.

Reform that may shake up the life styles of this Liberal Establishment. Heaven forbid.

If the American public were on the page that "progressives" are on, the Tea Party would not have been able to elect as many wingnuts as were elected. Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson would be still be elected officials and the Ryan plan would have been laughed off the stage from the beginning.

If Obama is in Wall street's pocket, why is most business commentary anti-Obama?Why are former Wall Street donors expressing dismay?

Lastly on Prof West, I suspect that most Democrats disagree with West's opinion of Obama. I doubt tht a majority of African-Americans agree with Prof West. I suspect there are many more "so-called Liberals" by your definition than true "Liberals". This purity is reminescent of Black Panther Party purges were at some points it was just Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Rush sitting at a table.

 

I don't not see myself as a Liberal or even a progressive. I'm a god damn farking socialist libertarian. And proud of it.

“There are many shades of political opinion in the United States, and one of the shadiest of these is the liberal: 10 degrees to the left of center in good times, 10 degrees to the right of center when it affects them personally.” Phil Ochs

“America has only one political party – the property party. It’s the party of big corporations, the party of money. And it has two right wings, one is Democrat and the other is Republican.” Gore Vidal

So you call Liberals sellouts because Liberals are not Socialists?

Jaysus, I call myself both a liberal and a Democrat but I don't know who the hell he's talking about -- nobody in my world, that's for sure. We're the goddam WORKERS and we're liberal and we're Democrats. Has he (or you, for that matter) ever heard of us? Who do you guys think those people are who are out there protesting by the thousands in the Rust Belt capitals?  They're liberals.  Who do you think are working the soup kitchens and food banks and free clinics?  They're liberals.  We didn't quit being liberals after WWII.  There are still generations of us who call ourselves liberals and resent the smug intellectualizing of a very simple concept.

I appreciate Upton Sinclair and I understand the quote but you do know he was talking about factory workers, miners, dishwashers --the crushed class -- and not doctors, lawyers and assorted establishment white collars? 

The liberal class capitulating? Who sez?  No, godammit, we're dying here.  How many more times do we have to have this shit thrown in our faces?  An entire generation of blue collars gave up the word "liberal" and hid out in a political wasteland because of crap like this.  The only difference today is it's the so-called "Progressives" who are out to kill us.  Unbelievable.

I am not a Liberal. I am further left of that. My main men are Cornel West, Gore Vidal, Chris Hedges, Kurt Vonnegut, Phil Ochs.....

I am not  democrat either. God Forbid !!!

Okay. . .

If I might, Ramona, I believe that there are people who consider themselves religious in one way or many ways who man the soup kitchens and other relief organizations who consider themselves a-political, who emobody the best teachings of their given prophets and well...Supreme Beings, for lack of a better word.  I think sometimes we err in thinking that all Americans are political constituents, consumers, or some other demographic tool. 

There are also many religious who provide relief who ARE extremistis religionists, who require prayer and obeisance beffore their chosen Lords, but they (Mormons and Christianists) are always Republicans, I believe, and another category entirely.

I guess my point is that not all good people, or people who care for others without caring about their fucking alleged salvation, are Democrats.

I didn't say Democrats I said liberals.  I didn't say Liberals, I said liberals.  And I didn't say anything about religion.  My point is that when the idea of liberalism is corrupted to mean what some consider a failed political movement, it's wrong.  It's not only wrong it's damaging to the whole idea of working  together for the common good. 

Wholesale attacks on liberals send a message to the other side that any ideas veering toward the  social or even the emotional can and should be snuffed out.  I'm saying there are a lot of us who resent being grouped into the categories outlined in the post.  I don't see the people I know fitting in there and yet there's no differentiation.  It's who we all are.  Well, no.  It's not. 

Plenty of the folks Stardust alludes to consider themselves conservative as well.  I think most Americans have charitable instincts that are shown in all kinds of ways.  Perhaps our most enduring quality, right and left and independent of politics completely.

I love it when Ramona swears. Laughing

I got an email from Wattree a couple hours ago with his new column oabout Harris-Perry and Cornell West; he'll probably post it here soon, and we can all cut and paste our positions all over again on it!  I'm sure a Good Time Will Be Had By All!

Dr. Boyce Watkins is here; doesn't deal with the crappy part of Hedges interview, but gives some possible context about Harris-Perry's attack.  Beats me.  Kinda wonder if West might wish he had a 'do-over'.

And again...speculation.   Dr. Watkins says, "When a person goes out of their way to strategically, systemically and obsessively target a colleague that they worked with every day for a number of years, one has to wonder what sour intentions lie behind the motivations of the attacker."

I saw one column by Harris-Perry about West, and one TV interview.  I doubt she's going around frothing at the mouth over this.  Yet later Dr. Watkins says, "I would love to have been a fly on the wall to determine how Professor West might have intervened in the career path of Dr. Harris-Perry or earned the ire that she displays when she works night and day to invalidate him in every way that she can."

Really?

Looking forward to Wattree's post.

Wattree's post points out that West has become more showman than scholar. West details his ire at not being treated appropriately by President Obama. West appeared on Roland Martin's show yesterday. People can judge if he walks anything back. The video podcast has not been put up yet on his website or on iTunes. If it becomes available while this blog is alive, I will post a link.

Dr. Boyce Watkins seems to be clairvoyant in that he can interpret Prof Harris-Perry's thoughts from a distance.

Exactly.  I just read Wattree's post.  Agree, agree, agree! 

But throughout this whole thing I've been wondering if Stanley Crouch would step up and sound off and he didn't disappoint me.  (He's linked in Wattree's post)  Years ago I was a resident at a writer's colony for two years running at the same time Stanley was there.  We had some fascinating kitchen table conversations about a lot of people, but one specifically about Jesse Jackson, who he hated for reasons I didn't understand at the time, but are mirrored now in his thoughts about Cornel West:

He has perfected a variety of poses - from academic to conciliator to rapper - that are intended to give the impression that a very substantial mind is mulling over something and will soon drop some rhetorical bombs that will blow away all nonsense.

The effect is usually the opposite: West is best at going beyond sentimentality to pure bathos. His answer to a teaspoon of unnecessary sugar is a barrel of syrup. His most faithful audience is made up of liberal white cornballs and the black cornballs who mirror them.

Ouch!  But pure Stanley.

Crouch does get to the point. Our dear brother West has lost his way. Like Tavis Smiley, I am pointing out West's errant ways out of love :)

Wattree notes that some male Professors like Eddie Glaude and Watkins are defending Westt,however a host of males like Tom Joyner, Roland Martin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, etc have pointed out the flaws in West's thesis. Watkins attack on Harris-Perry is as low as West's character attack on Obama.

Like you, I am tired of the purity tests some seem to purpose to decide who is and is not in a given category. They attack Liberals then declare themselves to be in a separate category. Amazing.

Some day we'll stop fighting each other and get on with the business of fighting the real enemy.  I hope it's not too late by the time we get around to it.

"His most faithful audience is made up of liberal white cornballs and the black cornballs who mirror them."

That should be the last word in this little discussion.

Didn't know what you meant by 'pure Stanley', so I Wiki-ed him.  Pretty colorful man:

"Crouch has reacted violently to critics and detractors. At the First Annual Jazz Awards, Crouch was invited to present an award. While reading the nominees, he made disparaging comments about two of them: trumpeter Dave Douglas and pianist Matthew Shipp. After the show, jazz critic Howard Mandel, who was chiefly responsible for creating and organizing the Jazz Awards, confronted Crouch about his earlier comments. After a short argument, Crouch punched Mandel and then was confronted by Shipp, who called Crouch "an Uncle Tom and a fucking loser". However, the two were quickly separated and a brawl was avoided.

His syndicated column for the New York Daily News frequently challenges prominent members of the African American community. Crouch has criticised, among others, author Alex Haley, the author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots: The Saga of an American Family; community leader Al Sharpton; filmmaker Spike Lee, scholar Cornel West and playwright Amiri Baraka, as well as Tupac Shakur, in reference to whom he wrote "What dredged-up scum you are willing to pay for is what scum you get, on or off stage."[5] Crouch's controversial work has won him critical acclaim from some quarters.[citation needed]

Might call him a Professional Iconoclast.  LOL!

Should have said I put it up because yesterday or two days ago you had given me her link, which was the first thing I'd ever read on this whole mess.  You said to the effect, "of course she may have her own biases"...so I thought I'd show you she may.  That's all.  I went back to try to find it on whatever thread it was on, and went cross-eyed trying, but failed.

But it does sound from other sources at Princeton that there was a lot of tension in the atmosphere.  Kinda too bad it's turned into such a melee, IMO;  amazing to me that he's such a polarizing figure.  May not have been except for such strong criticism of Obama. 

The more I read about this, the more I'm seeing that his peers have been onto him for a long time.  Yes, it did take his comments about Obama to bring it to a head; mainly because they were so outrageous.  People like Cornel West always push it until they go too far. 

But I will say i'm actually saddened by all of this.  It's not as if he didn't have good thoughts and good ideas and now this will be how he'll be remembered.  A little less ego might have saved him from himself.

I have to say that I was not the least bit disappointed in Obama or anyone in Congress. They have all lived up to my expectations and turned out exactly the way I figured they would. A bunch of corporate suck ups and Wall Street ass lickers.

The only people in Washington I have any use for right now are Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders. The rest you can flush.

WHY LIBERAL SELLOUTS ATTACK PROPHETS LIKE CORNEL WEST

 

Why single out liberal sellouts when it is simply the fate of successful prophets to be attacked.  A prophet heeded cancels his own prophecy.  See Prophet by Carl Dennis.

Sigh.....to true, I feel.

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