This week’s good, bad, and ugly

The Good: Announcement by President Obama to nix Keystone XL pipeline. Another victory for climate change movement.

The Bad: We poured roughly 32 millions tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this past year compared to 29 billion tons in 2009 at the time of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. According to experts, CO 2 emissions need to drop to about 20 million tons within 20 years. For more read article by Robert Pollin in the Nation.’t-stabilize-the-climate-while-fostering-growth-think-again/

The Ugly: Retreat on withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the introduction of military advisors in the Syrian conflict t by the Obama administration. Mission creep!

My Angle of Entry

Much of what I write is exploratory. It is a work in progress; an ongoing conversation with myself as well as readers of this blog.

And there’s an explanation for this: I came to radicalism and the Communist Party in the early 1970s, but I grew up politically in the last two decades of the 20th century and the first decade of this one. During that relatively short stretch of “historical” time, two signal events took place that disrupted my safe political space. One was the rise of right wing extremism, neoliberalism, and capitalist globalization at the beginning of the 1980s; the other was the implosion of Soviet socialism a decade later.

The resulting sea change in the direction of world politics and the accompanying severe contraction of class and democratic possibilities caught me – and many others – by surprise. After all, I was radicalized at at time when the world seemed nearly infinitely malleable and relentlessly marching to a better future. “Socialism in our time” didn’t seem like wishful thinking. So when the forward march of history was abruptly halted and Soviet socialism went belly up with barely a whimper, I felt compelled to reexamine many of the assumptions and core ideas that had framed my thinking and activity.

Setting the record straight

It isn’t something that a lot of people lose sleep about, and that includes me. But it bothers me when I see someone assert that the retreat of the working class, social democratic, communist, and people’s movement in recent decades began with the implosion of the Soviet Union. Perhaps at first glance this seems reasonable, but with a bit of reflection it quickly becomes an untenable claim. It strikes me as an ideological construction to fit someone’s political disposition rather than serious analysis.

The reconfiguring of global power to the advantage of the imperialist states and transnational corporations and the retreat of the above-mentioned movements that followed was well on its way by the time things went south in the socialist world in the late 1980s. Even a quick glance at the facts locates the beginnings of this offensive in the mid 1970s. That’s more than a decade before the Soviet Union went belly up.

Capital Talk

The Good: John Boehner, Republican and House Majority leader, is leaving Congress.

The Bad: Paul Ryan, Republican and even more right wing than Beohner, is the new House Majority leader

The Ugly: Mitch O’Connell, Republican and Senate Majority leader, is still there.

What we can learn from Canadian elections
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