Why This Series? Introduction by Alan Minsky
Informing this series is the sense that three years into the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the vast majority of Americans have no significant political movement that truly represents their interests.
Since I’ve been organizing the series, as you can imagine, many people have approached me and asked, “Why use the term ‘Left’ at all? If you say ‘Left,’ then you’re setting up an opposition to something called ‘Right,’ and it’s really not a movement for all peoples.” But “Left” is a meaningful term, both politically and economically, and I think it’s particularly poignant at the moment.
However else we look at the current political and social situation in the United States, it is certainly true that the gap between the wealthy and the vast majority of the society has been steadily increasing in recent years; and I think many people – probably the majority of people in this society – recognize it has reached crisis levels. The political Left is the shorthand for the political movements and forces that represent that vast majority of people, versus the empowered few. Also, in the realm of politics, money – and particularly the money of the wealthy and of powerful private institutions, mostly corporations – has so skewed the electoral system that once again, the vast majority of people need a voice.
So both economically and politically, it’s my sense that the moment cries out for a powerful Left. And yet, where there should be a powerful Left, there is largely a void. Hence, this series.
But as we all know, simply to wish something does not make it come true. To build a powerful Left in this country, and a truly powerful political force is what’s needed, will take the participation of millions upon millions of people.
So what is it I hope to achieve in this series?
Well first, I think something is achieved simply by framing the question; just asking the question is very essential at this point. And, as I just made reference, the question, once asked – it’s not easy to provide an adequate answer.
But on the other hand, there are some things that are clear as day. This is a society with two million people imprisoned, by far the highest incarceration rate in the world; it’s a nation leaving the largest carbon footprint in the history of humanity at a time that the earth’s fragile ecosystems are under attack; where there is a poverty draft that provides the manpower for the maintenance of an empire imposing itself against the wills of people across the globe; where millions upon millions of people hold on to low-paying jobs they despise out of economic fear; and the numbers who fall into poverty has now reached a historic high – it is clear as day that this society could be better. It is clear as day, to anyone who thinks of it, that the direction it needs to go is the direction broadly defined by the Left.
We all know we can all do tremendously better, and hopefully this series will contribute to helping us just get to it – to the hard, inspirational work of building a powerful Left in the United States.