April 2, 2005

Left Behind

I read everything Paull Berman writes, This, from the recent BookForum:

My transition from once-born to twice-born turned me into someone who was curious and eager to write about the history of the Left?sometimes in order to promote a political agenda, but mostly for another reason: I wanted to discover truths, if I possibly could?about America and other parts of the world; about political movements; about social theory; about human nature. This is a gloomier project than merely advancing a political agenda. Agendas tend to be hopeful; truths, not so hopeful. A triumphal spirit runs through a great deal of American history, but not through the particular subset of American history that contains the political Left.

A shadow fell across my dinner with Dan when we reminisced about the strike of 1968?the shadow of what had happened to him at Columbia; what had happened to the left-wing movement that emerged from the strike; and what had happened to our common friend, his fondly remembered student and my SDS "brother," who had concentrated in his own person all the disasters of the era. But it is in the nature of the second-born to live in the shadows. The blue sky, in Emerson's phrase, belongs to the first-born, and afterward comes the lifting of the veil and the gazing at Medusa's face.

It is best read in its' entirety... especially after his other books.

Posted by Dennis at April 2, 2005 11:31 AM

1 Comment

I never would have thought that I had the time to read this article. With a four year old in the house, one has to efficiently select reading material. Thanks for pointing it out. I found myself thinking most about Bell's second observation: "the strange and repeated tendency on the part of the American Left to lose the thread of continuity from one generaton to the next. . ." I was born in 1963 and when I was surrounded by the masses/mobs/throngs of like minded people in the Los Angeles after the Gulf War and Rodney King episodes, I was fearful. Social protest, even for causes that I believed in, made me suspicious. Berman used the word "bovine". I wanted to be a radical 60's protester, but I didn't have it in me, I was too informed by punk rock's individualism maybe. Most likely I was just a weenie, scared of the masses. I'd like to think that I'd punch Bush in the face if I had the chance, but would I? I'm afraid that I might actually try to talk to him.

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