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Leftists Meeting at Pace This Weekend

This weekend, on the Pace University campus on lower Manhattan, American leftists will gather for the Left Forum, a conference that is this year focused on the theme of environmental and economic transformation. The initial session of lectures on Friday will include topics such as Social Movements and Left Transformative Organizing and Mass Murder An All American Phenomenon. Featured speakers this year will be Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and Oliver Stone.

I consider myself to be a leftist, ideologically, and so I want to be ethusiastic about Left Forum. However, I have to register a note of skepticism centered around the featuring of Noam Chomsky: Noam Chomsky has been a leading voice of the American Left for two generations. During that time, the American Left has had progressively diminishing influence. To me, this suggests that Noam Chomsky has not been an effective leader for the American Left. Why do American leftists, then, continue to celebrate Noam Chomsky, and follow his vision?

The Left Forum has been going on, in one form or another, since the 1960s. In the 1960s, perhaps, there was reason to believe that the meeting, then known as the Socialist Scholars Conference, might have some influence. But since that time, it’s become plain that the conference is not setting an agenda that is having an sizable impact on the democratic government or civic culture of our nation.

When the Left Forum meets and talks about transformative organizing, I know that the transformation it refers to will be theoretical. No actual transformation will take place as a result of the conference. So, what’s the point?

If the Left Forum had some sessions on how to end the political irrelevance of the Left Forum, I might attend. As it is, I can dream about imaginary political projects from the comfort of my own home.

2 comments to Leftists Meeting at Pace This Weekend

  • manning120

    Exactly my sentiments.

    The best way to end anyone’s political irrelevance, in my opinion, is to enter politics, distasteful as that may be. At this point, Jill Stein seems to be the only person on the left (I hesitate to use that term, but it’s all we have at present) who’s deeply involved politically, at the national level. I’m not discounting participating in her continuing campaign. But what would really ignite interest would be a campaign season in which Stein and others would vie for nomination in an “alternative” party, not necessarily the Green Party. We had just the beginnings of such in 2012.

  • Dave

    J, “Leftists, Conservatives and Libertarians each have a mythology in which they are the heroes and the other tribes are villains.” – some dude named Kling. “Partisans of those three ideologies speak different languages.”
    … Leftists: opressors / oppressed
    … Conservatives: civilisation / barbarism
    … Libertarians: freedom / coercion
    I agree with this premise, which colours my thinking on what it takes to push one’s agenda forward. As with anyone representing one of the above ideologies, Chomsky, Stone and Co. can be expected to provide another fruitless discussion as long as their ideological myopia only allows them to frame the meeting agenda using two of the above terms and not all six. No real discussion with positive results can proceed unless participants are willing to speak the language of the rest of the civic culture as well as their own. Political relevance demands it.

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