Saturday, March 21, 2009

Crying 'Socialist'

With his usual wry sense of humor, Bill Moyers last night produced an actual socialist, since accusations are flying about public interest legislation being 'socialist'. Mr. Davis the Actual Socialist of course pointed out that being inclined to support working members of our society is not enough to make a socialist out of our president.

The actual existence of a socialist occasioned a closing moment, though, that encourages thinking, feeling people that there are some of those left, and often they engage in the struggle to return powers to the individuals who think and feel.

It is not necessary to salivate at the thought of money to be a contributing member of our society!

BILL MOYERS: People with ideas like yours in the last 30 years have been marginalized. No coverage in the press. No participation in the public debates. Why did you become a Radical? What made you what made you so radical?

MIKE DAVIS: Well, in my case, there really was a burning bush. And that was the Civil Rights movement in San Diego where I grew up in the '50s and '60s. And at 16 years old my father had a heart attack. And I had to leave school for a while to work. And the black side of my family by marriage, they got me to come to a demonstration of the Congress of Racial Equality in front of the Bank of America in downtown San Diego. And I mean, it literally transformed my life, just the sheer beauty of it and the sheer righteousness of it. And I won't claim that every decision or political stance or political group I joined as a result of the Civil Rights movement was the right one. But it permanently shaped my life. And then I think it was a friend of yours, this great Texas populous newspaper editor, Archer Fuhliham. I was in Texas in '67. And most of my friends were becoming Marxists. And I didn't want become a Marxist. And I heard him give a great speech. So I made a pilgrimage. He's sitting on his porch, carving a gourd out of Koontz, Texas, Hardin County. And I said, "Archer, can we revive the Populous Party? You know, can you be the leader of the Populous Party?" And he looked at me. And he said, "Son," he says, "you're one of the dumbest piss-ants I've ever met." He says, "The Populous Party is history. Corporations run this country. And they run the Democratic Party. And you better figure out this stuff for yourself." And it's what I've been you know, trying to do since.

I mean, to be a Socialist in the United States is not to be an orphan, okay? It is really it's to stand in the shadow and a you know, immense history of American radicalism and labor, but with the responsibility to ensure its regeneration. And I actually think the American Left is about to receive a huge blood transfusion in the next year or two. It has to because the existence of the Left, the existence of radical social economic critiques, the existence of imagination that goes beyond selfishness and principles of competition is necessary to have any kind of serious debate in this country.

BILL MOYERS: I pulled something off the Web that you wrote recently. You said, "I believe great opportunities lie ahead for the rebels of the world to swell our ranks and take the fight forward. A new generation of young people is discovering that their political engagement counts." Now, where are you seeing that?

MIKE DAVIS: Well, I have no difficulty finding hope. Hope kind of seeks me out. I've seen things in my life that I couldn't really believed had happened, black working people in the South, antiwar, you know, GIs. And when you've seen that happen in your life, you can never be pessimistic. But there's an enormous legacy of the American Left and of American radicalism in general that has to be nurtured and continued and passed down and let new generations shape it in, you know, the ways it needs to be shaped.

The message that hope pays off is much needed at this point. While, as I noted yesterday, some of us see good signs that this administration is working toward a just society, I see many worthwhile people who are alarmed at its failings.

We have a chance now to encourage the great things that can be accomplished, and I hate to see possible contributors to a better world turning away from that effort. Bill Moyers helped with his conversation last night with an Actual Socialist. Hopefully, the positive light will overcome that pervasive darkness and we will keep the faith.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a shame we're so far from having a Populist Party we can't even recognize the name.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Populism was what Sen. Yarborough claimed as his political philosophy, though.

1:36 PM  

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