Chris Hedges quotes the president of Chicago Theological Seminary — "Once you sell your soul, it is hard to get it back." — in his essay, The Left Has Lost Its Way. He argues that the left has lost its sway by failing to hold fast to core issues. Let politicians compromise, he says.
Political and social change, as the radical Christian right and the array of corporate-funded neocon think tanks have demonstrated, are created by the building of movements. This is a lesson American progressives have forgotten. The object of a movement is not to achieve political power at any price. It is to create pressure and mobilize citizens around core issues of justice. It is to force politicians and parties to respond to our demands. It is about rewarding, through support and votes, those who champion progressive ideals and punishing those who refuse. And the current Democratic Party, as any worker in a former manufacturing town in Pennsylvania can tell you, has betrayed us.
The failure of the left is the failure of well-meaning people who kept compromising and compromising in the name of effectiveness and a few scraps of influence until they had neither. The condemnations progressives utter—about the abuse of working men and women, the rapacious cannibalization of the country by an unchecked arms industry, our disastrous foreign wars, and the collapse of basic services from education to welfare—are not backed by action. The left has been transformed into anguished apologists for corporate greed. They have become hypocrites.
There's more. Hedges says, rightly, "The rise of a corporate state, and by that I mean a state that no longer works on behalf of its citizens but the corporations, is as much a part of the Democratic agenda as the Republican agenda." The working class has a right to be bitter with liberal elites.
The struggle now for progressives is to find their nerve, he says.
Looking back across the grim 8-year legacy of the Naderite Rebellion and the Kerry Collapse, it's tempting to go for the electoral win, no matter what "our" candidate represents. The consequences of more Bushism are terrible to contemplate. But it wasn't just the GOP that brought us the prospect of broader economic collapse, perpetual war and a widening class divide, was it?