Saturday, October 1, 2016

Hate Mail

I'll rely on the people who read what I write to judge if what Simps and Freki say about me is true. They're the two biggest liars at Duncan's dying blog, though hardly the only ones.   

I don't know what's more hilarious, for Simps to accuse me of having horrible taste in music or Freki to say I'm a misogynist.  I guess there's no lie too big for Duncan to let it stand, as long as it's one of the compulsive clickers who keep his income up who posts it.   Eschaton is the Harry Hope's Bar of blogs.

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Katie Hims - Black Dog

Second Feature James W. Nichol - Midnight Cab - 
The White Eyed Cat

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dusan Bogdanovic - 7 Little Secrets #1 Played on a Glass Harp

Brian Engel, glass harp

I said that Dusan Bogdanovic was more than just a guitarist composer, that he was one of the best of living composers in any medium.  I would guess that much of his music could stand up when transcribed for other instruments, though I have to admit that glass harp wasn't one I'd have put on a list.  I love hearing people try things, taking a chance on things.

I will warn you that if you're like me and the volume is up it might make your teeth hurt.  That's something that a concert harp does to my teeth as well.   Headphones would be deadly.  I'm always divided between the ethereal potentially beautiful sound of glass harp music and that it makes my teeth hurt.

My musical complaint about it in the past other than that was that, like a theremin, it lacks crisp, varied articulation but Mr. Engel provides that.

It makes me wonder if you could put together one of these if you went to enough yard sales and thrift stores.   Though I would imagine the quality of the glass makes a big difference, that's just a guess. With a precise enough tuner or ear you could make it in equal temper or any other tuning, your possibilities limited by the number of glasses you've got.

Did The Freedom Riders, Those Who Tried To Cross The Bridge Sacrifice Their Lives And Blood So People Could Turn In A Blank Ballot?

I have no respect for any academic or others who advocate that people on the left not vote.  Non-voters have opted to exercise no responsibility in what reality can be as opposed to their make-believe future which is apparently supposed to just happen without the necessary reality that could produce it being put into place.  Whenever, wherever, I hear encouragement for people to not vote in even a flawed democratic election which has the possibility to really produce a better result than a bad one, I know that someone wants something for themselves, not the common good.

Mostly, those allegedly principled non-voters will present their choice in the most annoying of ways, as something of great moral import that deserves the attentions of other people.   And not only the attention, not only the respect but the admiration of other people.  And in that lies the delusion of the principled non-voter, their non-action is a refusal to act to change reality for the better and, at its worst, an encouragement to others to make the same self-aggrandizing, self-deluding and selfish non-action.

I recall hearing the prominent Black journalist Callie Crossley engaged in a TV show in Boston where they were talking about journalists who don't vote because they want to strike a pose of being impartial.  She said that with all of the struggle, pain toil and blood shed to allow her as a Black Woman to vote, she would never choose to dishonor those who made the sacrifice by failing to vote. Which is, I think, the best way to think about the responsibility to vote, to do what can be done in the way of politics, that I've ever heard.  That idea informed everything I've thought about the issue ever since.

In Time magazine, two Ivy league academics, Eddie S. Glaude, jr. and Fredrick C. Harris advocated a symbolic act of non-voting, asserting that it will gain respect for Black people by politicians who they assert "take them for granted".

As both pressure voters and pivotal voters, African Americans can simultaneously deliver a victory for the Democratic nominee in swing states and keep the Democrats’ feet to the fire. Casting ballots as pressure voters would not merely be a symbolic act. Depending on the Blank-Out campaign’s success, it could have consequences for Democratic Party leaders down the line. Lower vote totals for the party’s standard bearer in red states could reduce representation of delegates at the 2020 convention, under formulas the party uses to estimate the number of delegates for each state. How well the party’s presidential nominees performed in the preceding two elections is one factor used to calculate the number of delegates for each state. We think the threat of losing delegate representation should incentivize red-state Democrats—and other Democratic leaders—to prioritize issues that directly affect black communities on the state and federal levels.

The idea that punishing the the Democratic Party, the party of, by an enormous percent, the largest number of Black People and people of color who hold political office - many from "red states" -  by withholding votes from Democratic candidates has certainly been proposed by others in the past and today.  I would challenge the two writers to point out a single instance in which it has produced the results promised by those calling for the punishment of Democrats by not voting for them.  It is one of the most illogical of all political strategies, as seen in in the disastrous Nader campaign in 2000 and repeated in 2004, it is a strategy capable of helping to produce a horrific Republican administration that produces a disaster for whatever progressive, liberal, leftist or even centrist progress has already been achieved.  It does nothing to improve anything except getting those who propose it time on talk shows and in magazines.  Anyone who doesn't think that the world would be a better place if Al Gore had not been cheated out of the presidency in 2000 is either too stupid to take seriously to or too much of a liar to listen to.

Politicians depend on votes, if they can't get them from one group, they are forced to look for them elsewhere.  A group which can make itself essential to the political election of a politician without costing them more votes than they bring is guaranteed to have the ear of that politician.  The same is true for supporters of political issues.  There are far better strategies than the simple-minded, irresponsible one of refusing to exercise the right to cast a vote which has a chance of producing what you need.   That is especially true this year when failing to get a President Hillary Clinton is guaranteed to put into office someone who will have done so with the support of white supremacists, racists and outright fascists and neo-Nazis.  For two academics to have made that proposal this year got them attention in Time magazine, it could get the rest of us the worst candidate who has run since the worst days of the 19th century.  The history recited in the article is not relevant, no, it is far more than just irrelevant, it is a smoke screen.  Comparing Hillary Clinton to Woodrow Wilson a century ago is not only vilely dishonest, it is insulting to the many Black politicians who have endorsed her, having worked with her for the past quarter of a century.

Young people are especially vulnerable to these perennial come-ons to either vote for never-will-wins and getting conned out of their right to vote for the best candidate who could win because they are the group with the least experience of life and with the least context in which to think about political issues.   Though older people are hardly invulnerable to being swayed by bad ideas.  The declarations of such voices of the alleged or presumed left, full of sound and fury can fork lightening. Unfortunately, it's a better future which is inevitably what gets burned to the ground when they strike.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

When Obese Men Tell Normal Weight Women That They're Too Fat And Expect Them To Vote For Them

It should be, of course, hilariously ironic for the never exactly lean Donald Trump to have called a young woman fat, it's even more hilarious for a bunch of his male surrogates, the porcine Alex Jones, and the quintessential big fat liar, Rush Limbaugh, and many other men with varying degrees of serious tubbiness to be parroting what their increasingly trollish and tubby Trump has said about her.   But there really isn't anything funny about the underlying conditions that make the fat men figure doing that is well within their realm of privilege. 

I knew nothing of Alicia Machado until Monday.  I looked at photos of her from all during the period under discussion and she doesn't look obese in any of them.  I've never seen a picture of Donald Trump where it wasn't obvious he could stand to loose more than a few stone of fat.  

I do have to wonder how this could go over among women who must be sick and tired of being told they're fat, no matter how normal their weight is but, also, when they are fat.  This demonstration has shown that women are penalized for being fat whereas men can not only get away with it but can pretend that they aren't fat when they are even monstrously fat.  The sexual objectification involved is the very definition of womens' oppression.  Women are never good enough to serve as the ideal, straight, male sex object, there is no woman too good for even the most repulsive man, in the minds of the Trumps of the world and other men who have to use a mirror to see their own phallus.  To have someone like Limbaugh who, at times could have played the part of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen to say that about a young woman of reasonably average weight should certainly piss off many.  I do wonder if the women in the media might not have an especially keen sense of that.  The women at FOX who have had to maintain the appearance of call-girls under the rule of the repulsive Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch must have some ideas about this.  It would certainly be nice to hear them honestly expound on it.  

As Those Great Minds Michael Moore and Ted Rall Declare Trump The Winner Of The Debate

Samantha Bee noticed this

If Hillary Clinton wins this election she will have done it while battling against more than a quarter of a century of the most overtly sexist campaign of character assassination in the history of American politics.  No, make that the longest and most no-holds barred vicious campaign of character assassination in the history of politics.  They have lied up stuff about Hillary Clinton they never did against Ted Kennedy, the target before Bill and, especially, Hillary Clinton drew the same fire.   The cabloids, the broadcast venues,  coast to coast hate-talk radio,  if Hillary Clinton defeats their decades of attacks aimed at embedding a content-free, hateful feeling against her, she will have performed a political miracle.  She will also have smashed more than the presidential glass ceiling, she'll have done a lot to put a clay cap over the stinking, leaking cholera and typhus ridden shit lagoon that our media has become in the era of all lies allowed, no standard is too low to stop with American journalism.  

And, yeah, Ted Rall did declare Trump the winner as did Michael Moore.  Even when she wins she loses.  But, then, Michael Moore is the same one who said that Romney was going to win on 2012.  I suspect there was always a lot less there than met the eye.  The camera adds ten times the gravitas, but almost only to men. 

Should The Nuclear Codes Be In The Hands Of A Pot Head? Shouldn't That Be A Question Gary Johnson is Asked?

Having slammed the Greens, I suppose I should note that the other third party candidate, the one who might actually have some effect in driving down Republican votes, Gary Johnson, had what he called "an Aleppo moment" yesterday, though "Sarah Palin moment" would have been more appropriate.   When asked to name a foreign leader he respected, he not only couldn't do that, he couldn't name any foreign leader.  Which is, you know, kind of remarkable considering the state he was governor of shares a border with an actual foreign country, Mexico.   And this is someone who is seriously presented in the media as an actual candidate for president of the United States.  Well, after his sniffing and waffling through a presidential debate, they're still presenting Donald Trump as a viable candidate, aren't they?

Third parties in the U.S. are a joke only they're no laughing matter.  I'd like to know what Jill Stein's answer would be.  Her answer, apparently,  might be Vladimir Putin, something she shares in common with Donald Trump.

This is also the year, seeing how so many heroes of the alleged left have a thing for Putin, Stein, Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, obviously Edward Snowden, and that they share that with Donald Trump and some of his overtly neo-fascist supporters, I've got to wonder how they could figure he's some admirable world figure while thinking the Clinton Foundation - which does things like fight AIDS in Africa -  is the very font of evil.   I would love to have some journalist pin down Jill Stein or Julian Assange on a series of questions about that.  I'd also love to know what financial ties there might be  between such figures and the oligarchic government of Putin.

Consider how frequently the alleged left has held a preference for even the worst of foreign despots and dictators, all time champion mass murderers such as Stalin and Mao,  over the most liberal presidents and politicians American democracy produces.  That's something that has happened ever since Franklin Roosevelt was slammed by various Marxists and radicals, even as many of them were signing onto letters praising Stalin and defending his show trials and executions of his political rivals.  In this years Greens' and Jill Stein's choice of the total crackpot and nutcase Ajamu Baraka to be her one heartbeat away from the presidency,  an off kilter free-lance lefty huckster who knows he can get attention and who knows what else by hating on even such people as Bernie Sanders.

Apparently getting elected by Americans  is what it takes to earn you the enmity of these guys.  Apparently they feel little to no such hostility for the choices of voters in Russia or other places with less than open elections or governments.

Apparently any politician who actually wins an American election, even the most liberal of them, will face the hostility of the Green type of left.  Though Jill Stein is in no danger of that happening to her - her pristine, purity will never have to face the oxidants of actually having to govern or legislate - I would imagine if she won she would come under the knee-jerk attention of the likes of her own vice presidential choice.

That's another advantage of play-politics, you never have to actually do anything, all you have to do is babble and tell stories that chill and thrill and gratify the prejudices of your audience, you never have to pay any price or face any difficult decision, you never have to do anything but blab what the tiny, fringe audience who might support you will want to hear and bask in their silly adulation.  That's what American third-party politics boils down to.  It is a play-time activity indulged in by people who don't really care about anything except striking a pose, maintaining a posture, asserting their own purity and brilliance.  And in such circles, they don't really care about the reality of life under Putin or even under a Mao or Stalin.   The list of present day heroes of such purity politicos who have almost as a reflex supported or endorsed some of the worst dictators of recent times is a long one.  The same are as ready to slam even the most liberal American politicians over wrongs far less and even when they do something admirable.  And yet they wonder why they can't gain more support  among the voters. 

I would bet that most of the Gary Johnson supporters wouldn't see it as disqualifying if he actually didn't  know the names of any foreign leaders.  I mean, you did see what the Libertarian convention is like.  Yes, that is the party that the American media actually presents as something other than a surreal joke.  You wonder if Johnson knows who Vladimir Putin is.  Or maybe it just slipped his mind while stoned.  It leads me to think that it might not be the best thing in the world for the man who travels with the nuclear codes to be a pot-head.  Or perhaps under the influence of other drugs.  But this is about third parties and their candidates.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lefty Magazine Still Fiddling As Caesar Is Piling Up The Kindling

The basic problems of the American "left" come into sharpest relief in presidential election years, years when their biggest impact, politically, is in the question as to whether or not they will vote realistically for what can be instead of either not voting or voting for some never-could-win Green spoiler or other.   I've been having an argument about that at the, I now, in the past several weeks for the first time hope, fading venue of that kind of left, In These Times.

With just over a month to go in which American democracy, if not the human species, could receive the body blow of a Trump presidency, In These Times is running articles by the paid Green Party hack, David Cobb their 2004 "presidential candidate" and the current campaign manager for Jill Stein, encouraging people to vote for her.   Seeing it led me to ask the question of how many paid staffers and others the Greens support as opposed to the number of office holders it can lay any honest claim to.  In an competing article in which the meat-headed Kate Aronoff says that "The Left Deserves Better Than Jill Stein" she claims their current figure is 137, though when I looked at the list at a Green website, I couldn't get past 80, though I didn't count people who held appointed office. I'd like to know who gets the money that people are suckered into donating to them.  I assume Cobb gets a good chunk of it for what might, actually, be a full-time position.

Aronoff, as noted over the weekened, isn't going to suggest to readers of In These Times that they vote for the one and only candidate who stands between us and having the addled, perhaps coked up Donald Trump in the White House.   I have a feeling that she wouldn't think doing that would be good for her burgeoning career in lefty journalism, she might get accused of wanting to be another Sidney Blumenthal by the publisher and editor.

While I will say that In These times is among the most delusional of the lefty mags, it isn't alone.  To one extent or other all of them and their electronic equivalents such as The Young Turks and the .... well, I'm not sure they'd like being called "venerable" Democracy Now have been as riddled with non-reality.   Which forces the question of why these folks, all of them convinced of and ready to announced or at least imply their intellectual brilliance, insist on remaining in the political wilderness that their left has been in for its entire existence?

I noted in one of my comments there this morning that their "left" has been and to a stunning extent remains wedded to the delusion that Americans, able for the past 99 years to see what happens when Marxists take control of a government - violent, brutal, dictatorship - would ever tolerate the possibility of that happening here.  Marxists have sealed the coffin on their ideology shut, sealed the vault around it and dumped yards of reinforced concrete over it.  No one in their right mind, seeing that history repeated over and over again through the 20th and into the 21st century would give up even the most imperfect democracy for it.  Anyone on the left who maintains any residual claims of that as possible or, most delusional and discrediting of all, desirable, has sealed their fate as a crackpot.  Yet that "left" is present in most if not all of the media venues of the secular left.

I think it's time someone said that they should be seen as having the same status for the left that overt neo-Nazis should for the right.  Counted in numbers killed by Marxist regimes, many of which had the support of western European and North American lefties who, though, seldom chose to live in their imaginary paradises, themselves.  Such folks as Alexander Cockburn and Christopher Hitchens, in his Trotskyite days, chose to come here, to the right-wing hell hole that so many a lefty claimed the United States was.  Hitchens, of course, took that baby step from Trotskyite fascism to neo-con fascism, Cockburn didn't, even as he wrote some of the most offensive tripe about the virtues of the Soviet Union when even no one there still believed that kind of stuff.

Marxist and other "third parties" of some other fringe ideology and their perennial popularity among lefty romantics are a symptom of why that left never has and never will gain much more than marginal influence in American politics.   Those with control of lefty media, even when they're not frothing ideologues or megalomaniacal crack pots (Lyndon Larouche also started out on that"left"), are wedded to those insane ideas.  They are not going to ever be more than a problem for the real left, the left that is interested in doing what is possible to really take office, to really make and implement laws to really make life really better or even possible.

For In These Times, Democracy Now or anyone else on the left to be giving the Greens a soapbox from which to delude people into not stopping Trump is definitively discrediting and we should all look forward to their demise.  Their behavior in the face of a possible Trump or Cruz presidency, so soon after the disaster of the Green aided Bush II regime has certainly earned them the distrust if not hostility of the real left.

I hope that this is the year that finally shuts down the Greens, I'd start by asking for their books to be open so we can see how much money they've duped people into giving them and who got it.  I suspect there are a few tales to be told by those figures.

Monday, September 26, 2016

On Listening To The Psalms

Well, a while back I went through the exercise of down loading the audio collections of individual Psalms, I divided them into 30 separate computer files of five each day - to make a full cycle of all 150.  I didn't do so thematically, I merely started with 1-30 for each day of the month and then the four 30, 60, 90 and 120 more than the date.  So the first of the month I've listened to Psalms 1, 31, 61, 91 and 121.  There are loads of plans for reading through the Psalms, some of them are thematic or with some higher plan in mind, the one  I chose is kind of simple-minded but it is a way to go through all of them 12 times in a year without having to flip around in a book.   A less lazy person might read them but I'm having more eye-trouble than usual just now.   I, for the first time, can imagine that I might have to resort to signing up for Talking Books, eventually.  Though I imagine they do it a lot differently now than they did when my father used them.

The randomness of it can be beneficial,  interesting, listening to highly contrasting Psalms, one after another can be jarring, in a good way.

Someone in response to one of the videos I posted of Walter Brueggemann talking about Psalm 73 came up with one of the stupider lines from Brit TV comedy about how tiresome the Psalms are, I don't know how anyone who really paid attention to them could think they were tiresome.  Going through them can be like a exercise in emotional and intellectual stretching, as Brueggemann suggested in one lecture or interview, trying to imagine what would bring someone to say what is said in them, it can be an exercise in both empathic imagination and self-reflection.  I suspect doing that would be both a lot more useful and a lot cheaper than going to see a shrink, though, since they don't charge you three figures an hour to convince you that someone else is the reason you're unhappy, it wouldn't be as superficially gratifying.   I can imagine many of the texts of the Bible and other scriptures could do the same.  I can well imagine going through Suras of the Koran or scriptures from another religion in a similar way, given similar depth and contrast.

This short excerpt in which Brueggemann talks about the Psalms of Vengeance and how they could be used is a good way to deal with some of the most troubling of the texts.

One of my posts last week contained an excerpt that discussed the genocidal General Trotha accusing the Christian missionaries of whipping up the Herero people he was murdering with bloodthirsty passages from the Jewish scriptures, which is a pretty telling thing for a man responsible for scores of thousands of murders to accuse someone else of, as if people under an oppressive colonial regime which is enslaving and killing them couldn't get those ideas all on their own.  It certainly isn't how most people, even oppressed people have reacted to those texts.  They have a far deeper, far more serious use than the anti-religious bigots, either murderous colonial generals from the 19th century or tedious Brit-atheist comedians of the 1970s would like them to have.   I'm finding that they are a far deeper mental workout than the alternatives.   They're certainly a far deeper spiritual tool than a very partial, very superficial reading of them could find.

It's Official The "Journalists" Given A Star Turn AT the Debates Are To Allow Trump To Lie

I will not be listening to the alleged presidential debate tonight, I've known who I was going to vote for ever since the Democratic nominee was obvious, back in about March so there isn't any reason to put myself through the grief of listening to Trump lie, to the "moderator" and the alleged journalists asking the questions which will almost certainly be slanted to his benefit and her loss.   In the little I've seen of the set-up for them, the American media that matters, the TV and radio outlets, are declaring all he has to do is avoid killing a baby or eating a live chicken for him to win.  This is the year that the complete irresponsibility and corruption of the American media has reached a low, you wonder what the next new low will be, there doesn't seem to be any lowest level they can't find a lower one to sink to.

These  presidential "debates" are and have been a load of crap since the first one in 1960 and they've gotten steadily worse.   To show what a fraud they are Janet Brown the, now, long time head of the Presidential Debate Commission has already agreed with Donald Trump that when he lies the questioners and "moderator" shouldn't point out that he has lied.

Since the reason for having them in those positions are their status as alleged journalists, any of them who agreed to such a rule on such a potentially important occasion, to sit politely as someone who might be the president lies through his teeth, as they know they are lying is an outrageous rule.  The entire exercise, if not to compel truth-telling among the candidates, is turned into an empty fraud by Janet Brown's fiat.   Any alleged journalist who would abide by such a rule has no business getting the publicity of being a questioner or retaining the status as a journalist.  Any who agree to such a rule should stand as being discredited by their disservice to the truth and the right of The People to the truth.

I have looked to find out who Janet Brown is and why she has the position she does and I haven't been able to find out much.   Her connections have, tellingly, been through Republican politicians and officials.  This four-year-old blog post contains more information about her than I've been able to find elsewhere in the time I've got this morning.

Who is Janet H. Brown?

Very few people seem to know. Which would be fine, if she weren’t one of the most powerful people in politics. At least on paper. Ms. Brown has, for the past quarter century, been the head of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the bipartisan entity that controls every aspect of the three nationally televised debate-like events held every election cycle. With each cycle, they become a more important part of the electoral process — although they haven’t historically had as much impact on voters as most people think, that very misconception has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing them to become more and more popular. Pundits in the 24-hour news cycle obsess endlessly over them as a bellwether of each campaign’s momentum.

Just the two campaigns, that is. Janet H. Brown, year in and year out, makes sure of that.

Janet H. Brown, year in and year out, makes sure of that. A member of President Reagan’s budget staff, as well as a staffer for Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Missouri) and British Ambassador and former Nixon Defense Secretary Elliot L. Richardson, her identity is otherwise murky. The New York Times ran a Dewar’s Profile-style puff piece on her recently, a bit of fluff which revealed nothing deeper than her TV watching habits.

With her declaration that journalists who know that a presidential candidate is lying are to pretend they don't know it, she has certainly discredited herself and the entire show.

And it is a show, these aren't and haven't been debates.   A real debate doesn't have celebrity TV "journalists" asking fluff or tough questions based on who they obviously like, they have two sides taking opposite positions arguing the merits and faults of the positions on the question.   Though those are also a show, an entertainment, they actually could carry substantial information instead of the statements, gaffs and mistakes which will become the sum total of the "debate" in the entirely predictable instant analyses on the broadcast and cabloid venues and the morning radio and TV "news".   And, this year, in particular, those will slant against Hillary Clinton no matter how well she does.  They will not admit that she is probably the most qualified candidate for the American presidency in modern history whose opponent is certainly one of the two least qualified since Warren Harding, though that is a simple and hard fact which, suppressed, could lead the country into complete disaster next year.  Such is the result when journalism turns into a moutpiece of oligarchy and "debates" turn into TV reality shows.  TV "reality" made Donald Trump what he is today.   It has turned the profession of journalism into something that considers Lester Holt a wise and eminent journalist.  As an example of what a huge liar Trump is, he's already said Holt is a Democrat, he isn't, he's a registered Republican.   Another of the "journalists" tapped for the star turn is Chris Wallace, son of Mike, who says he doesn't see his role as making sure the candidates don't lie.  Since he's worked most of his career at FOX, that's no surprise.  His place of business is all about lying and has played a vital role in creating the Trump presidency through giving him a national soap box from which to lie for the past several years.

So I won't bother watching it.  I don't trust much of anything that gets on American TV or radio.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Brahms Variations Op.21/1

Sviatoslav Richter, piano

This piece has to be about the least overtly virtuosic virtuoso piece in the piano repertoire, though it is extremely difficult to play due to its unrelenting subtlety and depth.  Richter played it about as well as it could be imagined being possible.

The guitarist Paul Galbraith transcribed the piece for guitar and, in the process, designed a new eight string guitar with eight strings, a high string tuned to "a" above the high "e" string and a bass string below the low E tuned to the "A" below that.  The luthier he worked with to design and build this new guitar used an idea from the late Renaissance instrument, the opharion of having an expanding string length with fanned frets.   The instrument is held more like a cello and has a large resonator that the end-pin rests on.  It's really something to see and you can see pictures of it and a read a description at Galbraith's website.

I think the transcription is, generally, a real success though the use of tremolo in one of the variations isn't something I'd choose to do if it were me.  

Brahms Intermezzo op.117 no.2 in B flat minor

Wilhelm Kempff, piano

Don't know if Brahms meant this piece to be associated with a day in early fall but I think of it this time of year.  Wilhelm Kempff's recording of it is outstandingly beautiful.

The Secular Left Is What Has Failed, It Always Will Eventually

I can't find the text that this Guardian Long Read podcast says is there, which would be useful to addressing some of John Harris says in detail.   His question is Does The Left Have a Future?  He tells about how, all over the West, Britain, The United States, France, Germany, Spain,... that "the left" is floundering, unable to win elections and mount governments that can make laws and implement policies.   While a lot of what he says is worth thinking about, I do see one really big problem he leaves out, the systematic discrediting of the left by corporate and commercial media which serve the interests of the right.  That is true just about everywhere and the problem has gotten steadily worse as electronic, broadcast, cable, etc. media take over the majority of the attention of populations.   Unless such media is forced to a. not lie or distort reality, b. to carry information which is not favorable to the interest of their owners and control voters can't know the truth and their choices won't make them free or produce justice and egalitarian democracy. 

Beyond that, being a typical Brit leftist, Harris's focus takes in the failing unions and other things the left has relied on - the failures of which vary from place to place - he doesn't seem to take into account that people have to have some sense of morality which makes them think past their own interests and that sense of morality outside of the context of religious belief in moral obligations doesn't seem to be very strong or at all durable.

I think the decline of the real left, the left that can produce egalitarian democracy, not the Marxist or quasi-Marxist pseudo-left, is a predictable result of the decline of firm belief in the traditional religions that have produced egalitarian democracy.  To go back to the observation of the Marxist-atheist philosopher, Jurgen Habermas, all of those things which comprise the substance of that real left are a product of the Jewish principle of JUSTICE as expressed in the Christian commandment of LOVE.  His declaration is that all of real modernism, the dignity and autonomy of the individual, the moral obligation to respect equal rights, etc. have no other source and, even today, they are fed by nothing else as secularism has not produced anything that succeeds in producing and sustaining them.  Harris touches on one of the proposed replacements, the true but insufficiently strong or binding observation that the personal is political but that doesn't work to replace the firm belief that our Creator wants us to do to others what we would have them do to us, that what we do to the least among us we do to God, that we are to love each other with the love that Jesus's apostles felt he had for them and that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  

Since January I've been studying the Old Testament guided by the observations of the great Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann and I am stunned how virtually everything we see as a crisis of the left, everything even down to the parched landscapes that come with global warming are not only mentioned in those old texts but they are extensively analyzed in terms of people failing to follow the practices of equal justice, love, treating the least among us with love and dignity, of abusing people, animals and the environments by those with power in a quest for endless acquisition. That is also something which America's greatest living writer, Marilynne Robinson has also addressed in powerful essays.  

I read that and see far more for the left to benefit from than virtually any secular centered vision.  That isn't to say that there isn't some valuable content in some secularists' thinking.  Many secularists are quite smart.  But it has, increasingly, failed politically, it has failed to produce results.  Such thinking can't be imposed by the fiat of the wise, it must be the result of the vote.   Without the firm belief in the moral obligations that produce a willingness to look past our own, narrow interest towards universal and equal justice in a sufficient number of people all of their secular analyses will be insufficient.  It's not as if the secular left isn't smart, it's that its areligious and, in too many cases, anti-religious motivation and content is guaranteed to defeat what is necessary to produce egalitarian democracy. 

Lacking the substance to produce egalitarian democracy in their very foundations, the detour that so many even very clever lefties took in everything from Marxism to Fabianism and various other, futile, often anti-religious and, ultimately, anti-democratic isms proves that cleverness is hardly enough.  I would wonder if any such past success that left has had, politically, wasn't a product of Christians and others with a sense of religious obligation voting for candidates who promised to produce policies enabling that.  I wonder if it isn't a decline in that basic religious belief as a firm obligation under a barrage of secular media which isn't the real cause of the failure of the Harris left.  And it does take a real belief that no one less than God requires us to not be selfish, narrowly concerned with ourselves and our tight circle of loved ones.  If voting isn't directed from the motivation of justice and love and moral obligation of a kind which will only be found with a belief that those are the will of God any vote will fail to produce the result of that moral obligation, an equal and just society governed by democratic rule. 

If The People are corrupted to the extent that an effective majority don't believe that God wants them to do unto others what they would have done unto them,  you will never achieve the end result, the goal of genuine liberalism.   I think a diet of mockery of Christianity and Judaism in Britian probably has a lot to do with why people don't vote for candidates who promise to produce the kind of society Jesus and the other Jewish prophets envisioned would result from equal justice powered by love.  Without the firm belief in a moral obligation to do what produces egalitarian democracy,  asking people to not be selfish, self-centered, ego-centric, ethnocentric, units of economic acquisition and utility makes no sense at all to them.   A secular left will always, eventually, fail as the Western left has in so many places.