Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Historical Task of the Left in the Present Period | Dissent Magazine

The Historical Task of the Left in the Present Period | Dissent Magazine
by Michael Walzer

***So whatever else we do, we have to work with other Americans to rebuild what Arthur Schlesinger years ago called the “vital center.”
Are there other Americans to work with? The “responsible” Republicans who, some of us thought, would hold the center by rejecting Trump turned out to be few in number—and those few not exactly courageous. But I still believe that there are men and women, liberal and conservative, ready to defend the constitution when it is directly attacked, as it will be. We may need to buck them up—and then stand with them.
More than this: we should work closely with anyone who believes in civil discourse, who respects the truth, and who is ready to live with political and religious disagreement. Does she defend the social hierarchy? Does he think that free enterprise is the be-all and end-all of economic life? Are they more ready than we are to use force abroad? Those are arguments we need to have and should not give up, but we still have to join with people like these wherever we find them—so that the center holds.
In fact, of course, the survival of a vital center is also the precondition of an active left. Never think that “the blood-dimmed tide” is a threat only to immigrants and minorities. It is a threat to all of us: dissidents of every sort, union organizers, left intellectuals, feminists, peaceniks, men and women of conscience, students discovering Marx, teachers who don’t like standardized tests, and journalists who write about the misdeeds of the rich and powerful. We all need constitutional protection; we all need a center that holds. We have to stand in the center and on the left at the same time. That may be complicated, but it is our historical task.

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