Calling All Populists!
I admire The Nation, but now and then it hits me where I live and my gratitude spilleth over. To wit: Jim Hightower’s “Time for a Populist Revival!” [March 24]. Inspired and inspiring! Thank you!
I concur with Jim Hightower. At 101 years of age, I have declared myself a candidate for Congress (joenewman101.com) with the primary purpose of bringing to public attention the threat to morality from the far right. Part of my platform is to remind us that in 1787 some of our best minds met and set this goal—dreamed this dream, if you will—that “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….” Can we keep that hope, that dream, alive? We must.
Climate leaders would do well to read Brother Hightower’s prescription for the progressive movement as a template for developing a working collaboration between the grassroots climate movement (including scientists) and climate advocates in Congress. Where is the coalition—you know, the one that a third of voters are waiting to be part of?
One hundred million Americans are concerned about the climate emergency. And yet the climate movement has no actionable unity of message on solutions, goals or plans to bring its separate entities together. The hour is late, friends. It’s five minutes to midnight for planetary life. Time to get very angry, very determined and very organized.
Brian R. Smith
When French Foreign Minister Pierre Lavalle informed Comrade Stalin that he should promote Catholicism to appease the pope, Stalin replied, “The pope! How many divisions has he got?” Jim Hightower shows the same departure from reality. For two years now, we have been regaled with the impending demise of the Republicans. We are told of a party riven by internal war, on the wrong side of history, the issues and the demographics.
We hear of the resurgence of populism/liberalism among the American people, shot into afterburner by the Occupy movement. The massive injustices cited by the author are real enough, and they are lamented by a majority of Americans. But the contention that we can effect change by working harder and smarter and organizing better is an exercise in self-delusion.
The massive power crafted by the oligarchs by means of a carefully planned and hugely financed intergenerational program of political capture has carried the day. We have long passed the point where social, economic, legal and political justice can be obtained at the ballot box. Power never yields without a fight—a real fight. We can prevail only in the streets, by massive peaceful protest. We ended the Vietnam War and toppled a corrupt presidency, not from the ballot box but from the concrete and asphalt. This octogenarian liberal is ready to go once more unto the breach.
Plus ça change…
Has the Front Nationale won the soul of France? I doubt it [Cécile Alduy, “The Battle for the Soul of France,” March 24]. This is just a by-election. The French, as they are wont to do, are so pissed off with both major parties of the left and right that they will vote against them by electing FN candidates—because these elections (mostly regional) are not that important. Then, when the really ‘n’ truly important elections arrive next year… well, that’s a different ballgame. Et puis, c’est tout.
Jenna Krajeski may be missing the point in Turkey. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has organized a working-class, feminist, youth and Kurdish response to the Erdogan government and went into an electoral alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) last year. As the elections have drawn closer, coordinated violent attacks have been carried out against the BDP and HDP. These attacks mean that the Turkish elections cannot and will not reflect a democratic consensus.
In addition, we must note that Vimeo, Twitter and Google’s domain name system servers have all been blocked by the government. Turkish media are, in the main, intimidated by the ruling party and government, but they are now also frustrated by an inability to share information and report.
Krajeski is correct in pointing out the shortcomings of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), but her report seems to hand Erdogan a victory he does not deserve and has not yet won. She emphasizes the role of the Gulen movement at the expense of other important forces.
The Gezi protests did not fade out, as Krajeski says, but were transformed into other movements. Mass protests inspired or kicked off by Gezi continue in Ankara, Amed and other cities. Recently, at least two people died and more than 450 people were arrested in these protests. Her claim that the Kurdish freedom movement’s negotiations with the government inhibited Kurdish participation in the protest movements lacks substance. Kurds did and do participate in the protests. The CHP’s “Kemalist outlook” (Krajeski’s phrase) did much more to inhibit Kurdish participation in the protests. During this period, much Kurdish attention was focused on aiding the revolution in Rojava, a story our media have yet to tell.
The BDP-HDP alliance, with its feminist and working-class dimensions, and the Kurdish liberation movement are the heroes of the moment in Turkey and North Kurdistan. The March 30 elections were one step for these forces—but only one step.
Bob Rossi, publisher Harvest, a newsletter on Turkey, North Kurdistan and Rojava
A caption in Susan Freinkel’s “Pesticides and the Young Brain” [March 31] misidentified the man pictured. That man is Jesús López, not José Camacho.
Ari Berman, in “What’s Next for the Moral Monday Movement?” [March 10/17], meant to say Yancey (not Yancee) County, North Carolina.