Two Veterans of the New Left Reveal a Familiar Blindspot

Jan. 23 2019

Born into Jewish Communist families, Richard Flacks and his wife Mickey both left the Kremlin-backed Communist Party of the USA in the late 1950s, following Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” revealing Stalinist crimes, and became prominent figures in the emerging New Left. The couple eventually settled in Santa Barbara, California, where Richard joined the university’s sociology department and the couple committed themselves to building “socialism in one city.” In his review of their joint memoir, Making History, Making Blintzes, Harvey Klehr writes:

Both Mickey and Dick [as Richard calls himself in the memoir] joined Communist youth groups and attended Communist camps where the kids sang with Pete Seeger and idolized Paul Robeson. Growing up during the “Red Scare,” they felt alienated from an American society that was, as Mickey puts it, “capitalistic and corrupt, racist, anti-Semitic (or, if Jewish, self-hating), lowbrow, anti-intellectual, and generally and profoundly evil.” Dick’s parents lost their jobs after refusing to testify before committees investigating Communist influence among teachers (but both found employment in private schools). . . .

Yet their sensitivity about anti-Semitism is not particularly consistent:

Since Communism and social democracy have both failed, the couple calls for a new New Left based on the idea that “all social relations—both macro and micro—should enable everyone to participate in making the decisions that affect them.” The key, they say, is to capture the Democratic party and expel its corporate supporters and financiers. . . . Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, they believe, is evidence that socialists can transform America by focusing on concrete policies and avoiding inflammatory and divisive debates about ideology. They are also encouraged by the rise of Jeremy Corbyn’s new Labor party in England. Never mind that Corbyn is an anti-Semite.

That Communists and other enemies of democracy have insinuated themselves into organizations that once shunned them (the newest example is the emergence of a Communist caucus in the Democratic Socialists of America) is in part a consequence of the notion purveyed by Mickey and Dick Flacks that there are no enemies on the left.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: American Jewish History, Anti-Semitism, Communism, History & Ideas, Jeremy Corbyn, New Left

What to Expect from the Israeli Election

Sept. 16 2019

Tomorrow Israelis go to the polls for the second election of 2019, in which the two main contenders will be the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the centrist Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Neither party is likely to have an easy path to forming the 61-seat Knesset majority needed to form a government, a reality that has affected both parties’ campaigns. Haviv Rettig Gur explains how the anomalous political situation has led to something very different from the contest between left-wing and right-wing “blocs” of parties predicted by most analysts, and examines the various possible outcomes:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics