It does not seem like a good idea to invest in that which you wish to see fail.  Such mixed feelings are not useful when it comes to money.

The American Left is filled with incongruities and the occasional hypocrisy that comprise any large movement or social group.  Made up of dozens of subgroups, the American Left can’t be said to hold too many positions that are universal among its followers.  One of those controversial positions, a position not often discussed, is the relationship between that section of the Left seeking profound systemic economic transformation and the Left that has a 401(k), IRA or other investments.  Often, a single person may seek both deep economic evolution and profits from investments.

One-half of such a person roots for the destruction of the Dow; the other half desperately seeks the stock market’s return to health.

I have more than a few friends that seek a sustainable, environmentally sound world economy that cares for the starving and makes health care available to all.  With the United States absorbing 25% of the world’s nonrenewable resources, deep systemic transformation needs to be characterized by an end of business as we know it.  Clearly, this has to happen quickly, within a generation, to protect our planet.  This portion of the Left experiences exultation that our consumer economy is suffering.  This sizable percentage of the Left feels that an opportunity for transformation has emerged.

Yet, many of these Leftists are in their 50s and 60s, and their life savings are disappearing as the months limp by.

This spring, I stood outside at a demonstration when a troubled colleague, a radical by any definition, turned to me and asked if I had investments and how they were faring.  We radicals don’t voice the feeling that we are engaging in hypocrisy by demanding change while investing in the system we seek to see transformed.  Still, I perceive chagrin.  To both have assets to protect while demanding that the system be vulnerable to deep systemic evolution that will destroy the established status quo is not an easy balance to maintain.

One of the biggest problems of the Left at this time is that without a Hegelian Marxism there is little shared idea of what the ideal future offers.  It is easy to pick out the horrors we seek redressed, the injustices that can be offered peace and respect.  It is far more difficult to understand where exactly we would like to be in a generation or two as regards how a world economy would look and behave.  We are familiar with a consumer goosed to own more than the planet can reasonably provide.  We have invested in an economy founded on those principles.  Maybe if the Left disinvested in the economy we wish to see vanish, it would be easier to envision the world we work to make.

It does not seem like a good idea to invest in an economy you wish to fail.  For the Left, it is time to get clear on the world we seek to be.


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