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KPFK/Pacifica Series: Building a Powerful Left in the United States

Every afternoon at 4pm (PST) from Monday, January 31st through Friday, February 4th, KPFK Radio will feature a special series focusing on the questions: How can a powerful left-wing political movement take shape in the United States?  What policies and programs would such a “left” promote?  How would it articulate and spread its message, so that it gains a critical mass of support across the U S population?

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.

The idea of the “left,” going back to the inception of term during the French Revolution, is that of a movement, or political force, that operates in the interest of the general population, as opposed to the “right,” which supports the cause of society’s elites.  In the contemporary United States, this would mean standing up for middle class, working class and poor households (which represent 95% of all people) vs. interests that represent the wealthy plus powerful private institutions (primarily corporations).  It certainly sounds like a winning formula in a democracy, and yet a meaningful left in the U S – one that truly exerts a positive, impactful political force – is virtually non-existent.

The people of the United States – and the world, due to the central geopolitical and economic role of the USA and the global nature of the economic crisis – desperately need such a movement to advocate on their behalf.

So, how do we build one?

This question will be addressed all next week at 4pm (PST) on KPFK.

The series will be featured on the KPFK website: – where there will also be a link to a page designated just for this series.  Interviews and roundtable discussions that make up the series will be featured, along with comments from listeners.

In addition to the daily hour-long special at 4pm (PST), there will be many segments during the week on KPFK’s other political talk shows that will be a part of the series – these interviews will also be available on the series website.

The entire series will be available for syndication across the entire Pacifica network.  Each 4pm (PST) show will be transmitted live via the Pacifica Satellite (channel right); and will be posted to Audioport by 5:45pm (PST) everyday.

The series will be “evergreen” for at least a few months – i.e. it will not be a series relating to the specific news of the day, though it will reflect on the political and economic situation in America in the first half of 2011.

This series brings together intellectuals, authors, and activists from across the left.  Among those invited to participate in the series include: Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Cornel West, Dolores Huerta, Naomi Klein, Francis Fox Piven, Ralph Nader, Howard Dean, bell hooks, Robert Kennedy Jr., and many more.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2011 6:01 pm

    To Alan; Hi, I was riding a local bus in Los Angeles around 4:20pm on Thursday, 02/03/11, and I heard some woman speaking re: your program, something about her being aa writer, and also the guy before her also = good; what I was trying/wanted to do was/is network with her and the guy before her. I liked her and his = guy before her commentary/opinion’s and though I may be alittle good at ‘searching’, alittle help is appreciated please.

  2. Lisa R. Holt permalink
    February 4, 2011 3:42 pm

    The democrats have a “packaging” problem – packaging and presentation, to be more precise. Whenever trying to talk with conservatives about climate change, I get almost childish answers during discussions of this nature like “global warming has to be a hoax because of all this extremely cold weather and snow halfway up our backsides” seems to be the most recurring theme. The healthcare reform is the same thing only different. First of all, we need to find a MSM TV outlet that is cohesive in countering the right-wing channel(s) the very minute they come up with crap like “packaging” the public option and instructing all the talking heads to call it the “government” option. We need to be more cohesive and come up with counter buzz words to more effectively put our message out across the waves in step with the Buzzwords-R-Us channel (I don’t really need to say exactly who, do I?) And, yes, it’s a little bit more than the intellectual branch of the lefties can bring themselves to do, but there comes a time as Grandma used to often say “fight fire WITH fire”.

  3. CTDavis permalink
    February 4, 2011 11:01 pm

    I have enjoyed listening to the series this week. I’m very glad that you’ve done it at all. After a week of left-wing geniuses talking about the future of the left, I would like to see a tidy American-style summary wrap-up, a portable take-away of action-items that we can all use to light a fire on important issues. See what I’m getting at? If it takes longer than a minute to read, most people just don’t. What would a document containing the distilled essence of the best ideas we heard this week look like? What follows from those ideas that we can cudgel right-wing blow hards with? I really want to just take the legs right out from under them, that that’s only part of it. I want to steal the spotlight and steer the debate the way the Tea people have. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Who will create this document that I’m looking for?

    Many thanks, Mr. Minsky. I appreciate your work.

  4. February 5, 2011 9:12 am

    My Thesis: The “Left” is unfortunately chained to the Democratic Party and its corrupt apparatus. With our current winner-takes-all election process (and the electoral college) we are forced, in the most practical sense, to use this lousy party mechanism.

    I believe both parties at their highest levels serve the same powerful interests-corporate power.

    What we need is a grass roots movement (a’la TEA Party/Civil Rights) that first creates an agenda and then implements it via activism and legislation.

    Some of, but not all of, these goals would be:

    Instant runoff voting
    Campaign finance reform
    publicly funded campaigns
    overturn Citizens United
    Reinstall the Fairness Doctrine

    To name a few.

    Until we see fundamental changes in the process we are not likely to any significant change in outcomes. (Posers like Barack Obama get through the process and claim helplessness against their partners in the Republican party creating a false impression of having actually tried)

  5. February 6, 2011 8:33 am

    Building a Powerful left will come from making popular policy objectives and then accomplishing them.

    Too many Objectives from the Democratic Platform were abandoned by the elected.

    The Left can win on ‘Building Peace’ and ‘Ending Crony Capitalism’

    Here is a Grassroots event:
    to begin building a powerful coalition to win in 2012.
    Invite your friends.

  6. Shenonymous permalink
    February 6, 2011 9:50 am

    The idea of building a powerful Left in the US answers my question that arose a couple of months ago when I noticed that Liberals (in whose camp I consider myself but only by degrees different from what is understood as the Left), and of course progressive Leftists, were not getting the proper media attention (proper according to my personal measurement) and after becoming deeply rankled and exasperated by the highly publicized propaganda of the Ultra-Conservative Rightist Tea Party, I asked on a Truthdig forum, “where is equivalent activism on the Left?” Getting only smart aleck remarks, I thought it was pretty much of a dead horse on that venue. I was surprised and pleased that there were those long before the question occurred to me, also thinking about it. I am not much of a fan of Hedges but I do admire all the other notables cited as participating in this new movement. I am excited about it too. There are two things I think is missing from the foundational principles of the movement as absolutely crucial and they are the concepts of peace and freedom. After scanning every page of this site, I do not even see them mentioned once. It seems to me if such a movement is to succeed, a well defined idea of peace and most definitely of freedom is requisite. I hope they are addressed in subsequent programs.

  7. February 7, 2011 10:50 am

    Great show! I was wondering if you might link to ( on your blogroll. I’m redoing the site and adding a blogroll, and I’ll certainly add you. Feel free to email with any questions: info[at]beyondthechoir[dot]org — perhaps we might even collaborate on something in the future.

  8. February 14, 2011 9:14 am

    Let’s get that WikiLeft up! I just posted something in the discussion page here:

    Alan, please contact me. I’d like to help/ support/ strategize and esp galvanize the ‘Right Messaging’ (ala the concept of ‘Right Relationship’) – this is what has been missing and your AWESOME show finally hit the nail on the head.

    Let’s find solutions – and open the space for OUR Revolution 2.0 !!!

  9. todd permalink
    February 28, 2011 6:11 am

    You and some of your guest in show 5 mentioned that opinion polls have shown that many americans lean toward progressive politics, do you have a source? Which polls?




  1. LONG OVERDUE: Building a powerful left in the US | The Greanville Post

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