Magazine article Tikkun

Attacks from the Left

Magazine article Tikkun

Attacks from the Left

Article excerpt

Alexander Cockburn, a columnist for The Nation, published vicious attacks on the politics of meaning in The Los Angeles Times on December 14, 1995 and The Nation, on December 25, 1995. Decrying what he sees as the "hot air" of calling for "institutions that tend toward the creation of loving and caring human beings," insisting that the only motive for the whole enterprise must be that Michael Lerner "hopes to recoup his glory days when Hillary Rodham Clinton informed him that his politics of meaning were indeed what a distraught world was searching for," Cockburn went on to repeat the Marxist reductionism that has led the Left to isolation and irrelevance. "Most people aren't looking for a paradigm shift in ethics and meaning,' Cockburn insisted (without any reference to how he knows what most people are looking for). "They're looking for a secure job at wages sufficient to keep them and their families alive, on a diet other than Fritos and soda."

We heard these same words, almost verbatim, from one of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis's speechwriters, just as we've heard it from one Marxist after another. What the Left never asks is, "If that is what people want, why haven't voters been responding to the liberal and social-democratic agenda of the Democrats and the labor movement that have promised to deliver precisely this" Or, if the Left claims that liberals and the unions lost people's confidence by failing to deliver on these economic wants, why didn't people move further to the Left? It is precisely because people don't respond to the agenda that the Left continues to intone with religious intensity that we began our research some twenty years ago, doing what Cockburn and his ilk never dreamt of doing, namely actually talking to and listening to working Americans. It was from that research that we discovered that for many middle-income Americans, economics was not the only or even the most important issue in their lives.

If Cockburn bothered to read TIKKUN he would know that economic fears are hardly ignored by a politics of meaning. We are as acutely aware of the threats posed by globalization and economic downsizing as he. …

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