Welcome one and all to the final installation of the old blog. My team has been working tirelessly on Spartan Considerations 2.0 for weeks. It will have a new look, a new web address, new content (of course!), and a rather new/renewed focus.
My plan was to address some of this with Post One, but I would rather use that first essay to look entirely outward as opposed to this more introspective piece.
We find ourselves in perilous times. Not so long ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, some political scientists (and politicians for that matter) were heralding the “end of history.” Despite the many pressing societal and economic challenges facing what was described as “the West,” the debates centered far too often on how best to manage liberal democracies – with two predominant schools of thought. On one hand, you had corporate-friendly slightly-left-of-center parties (Bill Clinton and the New Democrats, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and New Labour) who often accepted the fundamental premises of the right-of-center parties but positioned themselves as being more inclusive on social issues. On the other hand, there stood conservative parties such as the Republicans and Tories…also corporate-friendly but less forward-thinking on matters pertaining to race, gender, sexuality, etc.. But even the latter groupings tried to communicate a spirit of progressivism, to a certain extent…with pre-9/11 GW Bush running as a “compassionate conservative” and David Cameron attempting to reshape the image of the Conservatives as a more “modern” vehicle for change as opposed to offering a full-throated embrace of back-to-Thatcherism.
But with the endless wars, the Great Recession, and now a combination global pandemic/deep economic crisis, people began- and are - looking for answers outside of the old Consensus. Unfortunately, people’s movements have only enjoyed limited success…as evidenced by the rise (and sad fall) of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and the impressive-yet-going-only-so-far accomplishments of the Bernie Sanders campaigns in 2016 and 2020.
So here we stand, with egregiously horrifying examples of ethno-nationalism, government lawlessness, police riots, fascism, racist acts that are hurting and taking the lives of Black, Brown and indigenous people, a likely demented president with decidedly authoritarian leanings and ambitions served by his toadies, a Congress unable and/or unwilling to exercise its Constitutional authority in service of the rule of law, and a major political party that is hell-bent on holding power through both legal and illegal methods including, but not limited to, voter intimidation and vote suppression. And all of these are occurring on a daily basis within the United States.
Neo-liberalism is not demonstrating that it is up to the task of providing a meaningful, coherent alternative. Keir Starmer is not showing that he will stand up to the Tory governing paradigm and Joe Biden, well, he is no “man of the future” but, importantly, he is not Donald Trump.
Where I am going with this? Right here. In short, I have been distracted, sometimes by legitimate issues but other times by nonsense.
I believe that a better world is possible. And I need to spend more time discussing issues and proposing ideas and solutions that will serve that cause.
Do I sometimes utilize a Manichean approach to political debate? Yes, I do. I only regret it when I might alienate potential allies or when I think to myself, “you know, I can do better than this.” This occurred quite recently, on both fronts.
The closer I get to 50, the more I think about lost time and squandered opportunity. Too often, I put out first drafts. Do they make my point? For the most part, yes. Will I still denounce the fascists and their supporters? Absolutely, but I will be more thoughtful about it. I know with more reflection and less of a willingness to engage in depressingly boring knife-fights, I can help further the cause that former British MP Aneurin "Nye" Bevan described as: “the only hope for mankind – and that is democratic socialism.”
Being human, I cannot guarantee that my words and deeds will always align with such lofty ambitions. That said, I have a lodestar and I need to focus my attention in that direction. The “break” afforded by shifting from the old platform to the new will hopefully help in the fulfillment of this goal.
Finally, it is my hope that you, the reader, will enjoy the content. In addition to the blog, I am in the early planning stages of developing other avenues for engagement…such as fora where those on the left, of all stripes, can discuss public policy matters and electoral strategies in a constructive, non-schism-inducing manner. Perhaps now more than ever, we need a popular front.
That is all for now. 107 days until Election Day 2020. One throwback for old times’ sake:
Stay tuned, as more will follow.