While Karl is, statistically speaking, much funnier, for this post I am referring to Groucho.
In his letter of resignation to the Friars’ Club, he famously wrote: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”
While I did not leave the Howard County Neighbors United Facebook group voluntarily (due to the swift and arbitrary work of their “admins”) I very much find myself in agreement with Groucho’s sentiment. I suppose they imagine they exacted their gram of flesh following the Alfeo controversy. Pity they failed in that regard, with not even a flesh wound to be found on the present author.
I thought they might perhaps appreciate the injection of some opposing views. Apparently, their tree house of yes men and women is too small to accommodate differing perspectives.
That is fine by me, I am certain this group will fracture over one issue or another in the weeks and months ahead. As Yeats wrote:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;”
And there is decidedly no centre in that group.
Shifting our focus to the left, I came across a recent article in The Atlantic about the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA for short) and their increasing membership; a link to which can be found here: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/05/dsa-growing-during-coronavirus/611599/.
The DSA’s group membership now stands at “roughly 66,000.” To put this number in context, the membership figure was just shy of 57,000 as recently as mid-November 2019. In 2016, the numbers grew from 8,000 to 25,000.
Several events are oft-cited for the DSA’s growth: the Sanders campaigns of 2016 and 2020, the walk of the fascists (also known as the “Unite the Right” rally) in Charlottesville, Virginia where a DSA member, Heather Heyer, was killed by a neo-Nazi, the campaign and election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress foremost among them.
Of course, I believe one has to look to the Great Recession, and the rising disaffection with neoliberalism, as providing the environment by which others would seek out alternative solutions to the political and economic challenges of our time.
I will wrap it up here. But I strongly encourage my friends interested in socialism, or social democracy, or left ideas in general, to check out the DSA’s website: https://www.dsausa.org/
With that, I will leave you with the first verse and chorus of the lyrics to The Internationale, as re-composed by the musical artist and activist Billy Bragg (inspired in part by a conversation he had with folk singer Pete Seeger). Bragg’s performance of this song can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BIvqbyku5g
Stand up, all victims of oppression
For the tyrants fear your might!
Don’t cling so hard to your possessions
For you have nothing if you have no rights!
Let racist ignorance be ended
For respect makes the empires fall
Freedom is merely privilege extended
Unless enjoyed by one and all.
So come brothers and sisters
For the struggle carries on
Unites the world in song
So comrades, come rally
For this is the time and place!
The international ideal
Unites the human race