I watched Sally Field in Norma Rae the other day (for some reason, I never saw it when it first came out - perhaps South Africa's apartheid govt banned it due to the unionist content, highly likely given the number of banned films, books, etc - they even banned Black Beauty!), and found myself almost tearful in the climactic scene. It was a reminder of the vital role unions have played in getting the world to accept certain givens about workplace safety, hours etc. So much of what we now take for granted comes from campaigns and people of various shades of leftness: that children should not have to work, for example.
I was chatting to a young journalist the other day (in the company of another older ex-activist) and found myself talking about my experiences under apartheid (she amused me no end by exclaiming, "You guys are so COOOL! You were, like, THERE!"; for the rest of the day, my friend kept nudging me and saying, "Remember, we're cooool...") The youngster (all of 22 and with four months as a journo behind her) asked us how we felt about living in the new South Africa, with rampant violent crime, corruption in govt, and the disappointment of a new regime which, as Patrick Bond puts it, talks left and walks right. I found myself saying that my history gave me a great perspective: I've been through bad times before, I've seen things change, swing back, change again, swing back; I can see, most importantly, that we take twenty steps forward, but when we slip back, it's only by 19 steps. Some change always stays in place.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Louis R Godena
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008 12:30 AM
Subject: Re: Autism Day

I was initially attracted to this thread for personal reasons; three of my children suffer from some form of autism.  My youngest son was just diagnosed with aspergers (a high-functioning form of the malaise).  By now, I have familiarized myself with most of the arguments regarding vaccines and other alleged "causes", but have tried instead to concentrate on just getting my kids through adolescence and early adulthood with some degree of success.
But, my reason for writing is to voice a general dissent from the all-too-prevalent view that the Left has been a total wash in American political life.  Quite the opposite is true, and the fact is that so much of early Communist and Leftist thinking has now become an inevitable feature of our social narrative that it has become commonplace to the point of invivisibility.  It is now virtually impossible to argue seriously that blacks are inferior to whites, that women should be paid by standards different from those of men, that unions should not be allowed to organize among workers, that gay or bisexual people should be deprived of equal rights.  The current attempt in the Congress to provide tens of billions of dollars to distressed homeowners is barely raising more than a perfunctory protest among even the pro-business press.  And notions that groups or races or tribes are more or less "worthy" or "moral" than others is now routinely dismissed as so much cant.   The country *has* come far since the 1950's.  True, not as far or as fast it could have or should have, but still, considering the power of the forces arrayed against it, the Left has performed remarkably well.   This despite its abandoning of class as the salient feature of its numerous campaigns while overly embracing competing nationalisms (sexual, racial, etc.).
So, I remain optimistic.  I like the Obama campaign because it effortlessly incorporates so much that represents the best of the Left in America, while eschewing much of the poisonous legacies of nationalism.  I would dearly love to see health care and energy nationalized, a massive program of public works, an irreversible committment to public education.   No political campaign in 2008 is going to deliver such a wish-list, but if the Left perseveres even in these dark times, the realization of such a program will never become eclipsed by the revanchist forces in our midst.  
Louis Godena
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Claudia Hemphill Pine
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008 4:40 PM
Subject: Re: Autism Day

Oh, Alex -- please don't quit. Just mark the persons whose repetitive, egotistical flaming most annoy you as spam, so you never see their posts again. Or continue to work around them as we all try to do, and get some amusement from their atavism.

And also remember that "Quitting a list because one doesn't agree with what one or two people on it say is like cancelling a magazine subscription because an article appears that you don't agree with" is a complete misrepresentation, in line with many.  It's more like "cancelling a magazine subscription because one of the writers reprints the same damn self-promoting rant in every issue!  Sometimes 5 times PER issue."

So yeah, I totally sympathize with your fatigue at the Drama Queen pointlessness, the passive-aggressive  rhetoric that picks fights by intentionally misrepresenting others, labeling them, and so forth.  I rarely read SftP lately, beyond reposted news I haven't seen.  I have many more things to do than indulge attention-seekers who try to dominate through volume and repetitiousness, instead of advancing through solidarity.

If I've learned anything in my years on this list it's a profound respect for the stalwarts like Herb and Carrol who've continued to be positive for decades, using calmness and reason to outlast the "tempest in a teacup" types who join, criticize everyone, stir up some good thinking and much bad will, and usually flame out in a few years (or move on to new markets not yet saturated by such approaches).   I stay to learn from them, and shrug or avoid or duck the adolescents who mistake their own smoke for fire.

In solidarity,


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