I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend while remembering the sacrifices of those who gave their lives to defend America and freedom.
It seems the neo-socialists don’t want to feel left out during this weekend of patriotism and honoring the fallen. Liberation News, the “newspaper for the party of socialism and liberation,” today published an article entreating leftists to insert politics “back into” Memorial Day:
To truly honor Memorial Day means putting the politics back in. It means reviving the visions of emancipation and liberation that animated the first Decoration Days. It means celebrating those who have fought on the side of justice, while exposing the cruel manipulation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members who have been sent to fight and die in wars for conquest and empire.
The author, Ben Becker, is an adjunct instructor at the City College of New York. In his piece on Memorial Day, he posits that the true meaning of the holiday has been altered:
These days, Memorial Day is arranged as a day “without politics” — of a general patriotic celebration of all soldiers and veterans, regardless of the nature of the wars they participated in. This is the opposite of how the day emerged, with explicitly partisan motivations, to celebrate those who fought for justice and liberation.
Becker writes that the ruling class disguised the origins of the holiday in the days following the end of the Civil War. It is worth noting that Becker has admitted that his goal is to “defeat the right-wing in America,” a talk he gave as part of panel in 2010 at the National Conference on Socialism:
There are two sides of our strategy, a socialist strategy. We have to be with everyone who wants to fight the right, but be clear that the rightward trend cannot be defeated by siding with “good” capitalists over “bad” capitalists. All wings of the capitalist class are headed in the same direction, and it will take a mass movement to overthrow capitalism to turn it around. That is a big task—and we are not the first to articulate it—but that is the task nonetheless.
A google search reveals a plethora of articles on the history of Memorial Day, albeit without Becker’s thesis that it has all been a coverup:
While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868.
As Becker seeks to appropriate this day for his own political purposes (“to overthrow capitalism”) the rest of us can remember that it is this current political system that has allowed for the greatest freedom, equality, and justice for all. Why does that make the neo-socialists so uncomfortable?
*Movie recommendation: for a look at a slightly different caliber of City College of New York output, check out “Arguing the World,” an excellent documentary on the “New York Intellectuals” Irving Kristol, Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, and Nathan Glazer.