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There Is no American Left

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In fact, the Republican party once had a liberal (i.e., left) faction. No more. In 1996 arch-conservative Barry Goldwater reportedly wondered in amazement that he and presidential candidate Bob Dole were by then on the left of the Republican party. Goldwater died in 1998; both parties have since moved much farther to the right. Today, Goldwater would be considered left even for a Democrat.

Over the past forty years America has become much more politically correct with regard to gender and sexualiy. Men do not openly display calendars featuring topless models on their office walls, and public gay bashing is now considered inappropriate, even in Republican circles. But gender and sexuality are issues that transcend social class. Even rich, powerful men have gay children -- or may be gay themselves. Even rich, powerful men have wives.

On every other issue America -- or at least American politics -- has swung violently to the right. The more social class is involved, the further to the right America has swung. Poverty was once a social disease to be cured; it is now an individual crime to be punished. Put it down to individualism, conservatism, neoliberalism, or whatever -ism you want, America is now the world's greatest reactionary force.

Unfortunately, all the evidence is that the rest of the world is following America down the road to perdition. Nowhere are national health-insurance schemes, access to free education, and old-age pensions being expanded. Nowhere is the world moving forward. Everywhere the social gains of the twentieth century are either being eroded or destroyed.


flickr image  by  EricMagnuson

The mid-late twentieth century may or may not turn out to have been the high point of human civilization. Progress may yet return. But if it does, it will not be led by the United States. It will be resisted by the United States. It's up to the rest of the world to provide the hope for the future that once emanated from Washington, New York, and California. Otherwise you will become just like us.

NOTE: This article originally appeared in Australian Options magazine. It is reproduced here with permission.

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http://salvatorebabones.com

Salvatore Babones is a senior lecturer in sociology and social policy at the University of Sydney in Australia and an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, DC.

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What does it mean to be a progressive when all you... by Salvatore Babones on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 at 7:53:23 PM
Nice piece, Salvatore.  I especially like the... by Mikhail Lyubansky on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:06:11 PM
Thank you!... by Salvatore Babones on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:44:56 PM
I find myself saying the same to people who are se... by Michael Collins on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:28:18 PM
Agreed on all counts!  Even calling socialism... by Salvatore Babones on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:47:07 PM
Right or Left, there is no America left. It is us ... by Steven G. Erickson on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 12:38:50 AM
in recent times is because it offers no real prove... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 8:52:02 PM
The KGB developed techniques that are used today b... by Deborah Dills on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:45:36 PM
Colonists in America in the 1700's were most upset... by Steven G. Erickson on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 12:23:24 AM
You continue to be a statist/progressive whose phi... by Matthew Jacobs on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 11:13:13 AM
It's not just that the Left has been marginalized,... by Scott Baker on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 1:53:22 AM
 Mr. Baker,  I'm not sure who would be r... by Ad Du on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:51:36 AM
 But right-wingers criticize Education in o... by Ad Du on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:59:21 AM
 Whom else to blame ? The TV ? The Internet ?... by Ad Du on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 10:14:32 AM
Right prefer Private vs. Public systems of educati... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 7:25:00 PM
Until I get an answer (I may be late with my inqui... by Ad Du on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 10:42:11 AM
Layer after layer of rules and regulations passed ... by Matthew Jacobs on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 11:56:08 AM
 all I want is well educated people. If the G... by Matthew Jacobs on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 11:46:15 PM
 Sir,  On the current (public) textbooks... by Ad Du on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 6:21:46 AM
 University professor (a rarity!) calls it as... by Ad Du on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 6:38:35 AM
Pull back and you will see what you have given are... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 10:11:14 AM
And, of all people, should I be the one calling fo... by Ad Du on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 10:47:25 AM
But there is a World of difference between Calling... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 11:51:48 AM
First of all I don't profess to have all the answe... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 9:36:01 AM
 I wouldn't expect anybody to have "all answe... by Ad Du on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 10:06:02 AM
Gone also are vouchers for DC kids. This news rein... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 10:54:01 AM
 College degrees (knowledge, as I would say) ... by Ad Du on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 12:19:45 PM
She wanted to spend more time with her family or n... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 3:44:17 PM
Op Ed News archives all articles, so even when it ... by Scott Baker on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 12:37:30 PM
Sir,  If my estimate is correct, then an arti... by Ad Du on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 10:57:58 AM
There are many ways to measure education, but one ... by Scott Baker on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 12:36:01 PM
Well and truly said! I think the problem has deep ... by Richard Slatta on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 3:29:46 AM
Thank you ... and if you're writing from London, y... by Salvatore Babones on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 3:48:42 AM
The Korporate elite want to do this to all the mas... by Steven G. Erickson on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 8:00:19 AM
is the worst of all diseases.... by Lester Shepherd on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:41:51 AM
  Hyper-Individualismis the worst of all dis... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 8:05:14 PM
it is impossible.... by Lester Shepherd on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:02:13 PM
You declare that America suffers from "Hyper Extre... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 7:36:49 PM
I said it all along: left are invented  by th... by Mark Sashine on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:23:12 AM
"Nowhere is the world moving forward. Everywhere t... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 1:42:27 PM
from skeptical, humorous, no-one's fool and activi... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 2:33:19 PM
"Nowhere is the world moving forward. Everywhere t... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 8:17:21 PM
You write, "[T]he Obama administration has pursued... by PCM on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 3:44:01 PM
Right. As a result I'm sensing problems on this th... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 12:00:17 AM
I'd like to think I am incredulous when it comes t... by PCM on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 12:55:56 AM
what you think defines Left from Right. You merril... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 9:55:42 AM
When you claim there is no American left I have to... by Matthew Jacobs on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 7:08:41 PM
There is no American "right" either  Democrat... by Matthew Peters on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:13:16 PM
SO WHAT AM I CHOPPED LIVER ?... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 5:23:53 PM
rather than 'chopped lever'. But if you insist....... by mhenriday on Monday, Dec 31, 2012 at 2:17:45 PM
Very interesting article___No progress possible as... by jean labrek on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:17:44 PM
"Left" and "Right" are meaningful terms, particula... by Dan Mage on Friday, Dec 28, 2012 at 9:43:25 PM
And I'm scratching my head Dan trying to makes sen... by Matthew Jacobs on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 12:28:58 AM
By way of clarification, what I see has all the ab... by Dan Mage on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 11:23:26 PM
Carries a meaning for you that I don't understand.... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 12:34:15 AM
At the bottom of the vertical axis is slavery and ... by Dan Mage on Monday, Dec 31, 2012 at 8:57:26 PM
 Professor Babones,  Regretfully, I need... by Ad Du on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 12:39:48 PM
That which Separates Private from Government schoo... by Matthew Jacobs on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 5:30:18 PM
... available to all people in a "democracy", espe... by Ad Du on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 7:21:28 PM
Reply to Matthew Jacobs:  I'm trying to tell... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 11:00:38 AM
Education is best (by far!) acquired at an age whe... by Ad Du on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 11:17:08 AM
You want a house take a thirty year loan out on it... by Matthew Jacobs on Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 at 4:32:57 PM
You should have heard W. officials reciting as ins... by Ad Du on Monday, Dec 31, 2012 at 1:07:41 PM
Opps lets just say it's free to the recipient, obv... by Matthew Jacobs on Monday, Dec 31, 2012 at 9:18:13 PM
 Until then, let's point out that the former ... by Ad Du on Sunday, Jan 6, 2013 at 10:32:00 AM
Mr. Babones, wonderful article, filled with valid ... by Bayard Waterbury on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 2:19:00 PM
I wish I understood how the famous "99.99%" (or wh... by Ad Du on Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 at 7:46:35 PM