Thomas Franks on progressives, Democrats, and Occupy

From Slate’s interview of Thomas Frank (Tom Frank: Obama’s made left “futile and irrelevant”):

“The only honest way for progressives to assess the experience of these past four years is by coming unflinchingly to terms with our own futility and irrelevance. Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, all these guys [in the Obama Administration]– they see liberals as a species of humanity that they don’t have to be bothered by.”

Frank says that the rise and fall of the Labor Movement tracks the rise and fall of the liberal/progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Frank laments the fizzling of the Occupy Movement. He blames it partly on what he calls “the academization of protests”:

They get taken over by people who are absolutely determined to not speak in a way that is comprehensible to average Americans. In fact, [these are] people who have enormous contempt for average Americans. The whole idea of the left is about empowering average people, and you can’t do that if you despise them.

Frank agrees with me about the similarities between Occupy’s anarchism and the Right’s libertarianism, and he agrees for much the same reasons:

There’s another thing I’d like to add to this, and that is the issue of the state. Occupy tended to be pretty unsophisticated about the state. They sound like libertarians, frankly, when they’re talking about the state. If you want to do something about Wall Street in this country, there is only one power that can do it — and that’s the state, obviously. That’s government. And government did perform that role for a long time. Glass-Steagall, that was the law of the land. Banks were closely regulated; you didn’t have anything like this sort of madness of the last decade, the shadow banks.


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