Home / General / The Party Left Cornel West, A Perpetual Cycle

The Party Left Cornel West, A Perpetual Cycle


Of Course:

Let’s leave aside the nonsense about the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party being “neoliberal,” or the idea that having the first liberal Democratic median vote on the Supreme Court in nearly 50 years, protecting the ACA, protecting the Clean Power Plan, enforcing civil rights and voting rights laws, etc. etc. etc. would represent a “disaster.” Let’s take West’s inane descriptions at face value. Your reaction a contest between a “neoliberal” and a “neofasicst” is “not a dime’s worth of difference, let’s go ahead and work to elect the neofascist”? OK.

By the way, lest you be tempted to think that this is about Bernie, in 2000 West made exactly the same seamless transition from Bradley supporter to Nader supporter, although Bradley is not any kind of socialist (and indeed there wasn’t a nickel’s worth of difference between Bradley and Gore on policy substance.) As with late-period Nader, West’s quadrennial rejection of the Democratic Party is rooted much more in his belief that he does not have the personal influence within the party he believes he deserves than any policy disagreements. If Biden or O’Malley had been the primary challenger to Clinton I guarantee West would have done through exactly the same dance.

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  • ThusBloggedAnderson

    West’s quadrennial rejection of the Democratic Party is rooted much more in his belief that he does not have the personal influence within the party he believes he deserves

    … and that his actions keep ensuring he’ll never get.

  • bobbo1

    “Neo-fascist” and “neo-liberal” both have “neo” in them, so they are the same. QED

    • Matt McIrvin

      You’d think he’d appreciate Neo.

      • tsam

        Ahhhhhh yeeeaaaaaah. Nice.

    • elm

      And West knows this well, as he starred in a movie franchise where there was a supporting character named ‘Neo’.’

      • Warren Terra

        It really was a bold stroke of that movie franchise that the lead character Councillor West doesn’t even appear in the first film.

        • N__B

          Maybe West thinks he was in the first movie. Retconning ia a hell of a drug.

          • Maybe West thinks he was in the first movie.

            That was in the cut scene where he liberated Auschwitz single-handedly, right?

            • N__B

              He may have founded the Auschwitz Liberation Front. I don’t remember.

  • Regulust

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the Green Party logo & carrying Jill Stein’s colossal ego.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Nah, they’ll be the ones saying “Nach Hitler, uns!”

      • CrunchyFrog

        The Green Party – positioning itself to gain power after Armageddon. No party is better equipped to lead a planet that it 6-8 degrees hotter than today!

    • Halloween Jack

      When fascism comes to America

      Bit late on the uptake there, amigo.

  • AMK

    What a fucking loon—but he is relatively prominent as a media personality, far more so than Stein anyway (in the sense that some outlets seem to call his number when they need to fill the “progressive black voice” slot on their talking-head panels). If he starts getting any kind of media traction, Bernie has to come down on him hard and swift.

    • David W.

      Sanders was happy to have West around during the primary, so why would he now come down hard on West?

    • Lev

      Why? Cornel West has zero influence with black voters, maybe even negative influence, thanks to spending the last eight years compiling an enormous record of nasty and personal attacks on President Obama. He couldn’t get Sanders more than nominal support among black voters, after all. He may appear in the media to tout the virtues of Stein but it won’t sway anyone.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        He probably has some influence with white voters.

        Also provides cover for Stein voters to say “well, Cornel West thinks Hillary would be so bad for black people that he’s supporting Stein, therefore the vast majority of black leaders, including black progressive leaders, who disagree with him and see stopping Trump as important can safely be ignored without this reflecting badly on my commitment to racial justice issues.”

        But they probably would just find a meme with that MLK “white moderates” quote to post even without West’s endorsement.

  • tsam

    Ain’t no party like a neo party.

    • DW

      ‘Cause a neo party, much like Cornel West, Just. Won’t. Stop.

    • N__B

      “Was your name always O’Brien?”

      “No. Ne O’Party.”

  • As of two hours ago, Five Thirty-Eight has moved the odds of Trump winning close to 36%. That is far, far too high for my comfort. So, fuckyouverymuch, West and Stein.

    • Matt McIrvin

      An odd detail I noticed: their “Now-Cast” (the “if the election were held today” model snapshot) actually paints some states red where most or all recent polls either have Clinton ahead or a tie (NH and IA, particularly).

      I found this peculiar so I looked into it. It looks as if the thing that’s doing it is their “adjust for trend line” term–I think what that means is that they try to extrapolate the motion of the polls (linearly?) so that they get an estimate that is for today rather than for the date the poll was actually taken. But that means that if you get a sudden blip downward, like in the polls of the past week or so, the 538 now-cast is going to exaggerate that trend by assuming it will continue.

      • so-in-so

        Sam Wang appears less impressed:


      • Yeah, that is a little strange. But I feel like Republicans’ narrative about Clinton and her email server really sunk in after Comey’s presser, and I’m not sure how well she’ll recover from that. And I really want to see Trump blown out, for all the obvious reasons.

        • Matt McIrvin

          I think the effect of Comey’s presser is going to be a temporary dip for anyone other than the same people who obsess about Benghazi and Whitewater. It just sounds so ridiculous–I hear people lamenting that the American people are faced with a horrifying choice between two terrible options: on the one hand, a racist, spectacularly unqualified TV clown and scam artist who regularly proposes abrogating basic features of the Constitution; and on the other hand, someone who made a bad choice about an email server. The actual details of it are penny-ante and technical, and we learned nothing significant before Comey’s statement that we didn’t know beforehand.

          The key thing that happened was that the possibility of an indictment was gone, so there was no longer the slightest inkling that the Democratic nominee would not be Hillary Clinton.

          What concerns me more is the effect of racial conflict and terrorism, which actually positively help Trump by making people afraid and angry.

          • Good point. I was thinking in terms of the OP. Racial animus and terrorism have a far greater potential to move the needle than complaints from the liberal/left about the unsuitability /(un-)trustworthiness of Clinton. And the Clinton’s drop/Trump’s surge in the polls last week probably reflects the events of Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas as much as Comey’s announcement.

          • ColBatGuano

            The real problem with the e-mail story is that the NY Times is highly invested in it being a huge scandal regardless of the details.

            • Warren Terra

              see also: every other thing they can inflate to smear a Democratic administration (Whitewater, Benghazi, etcetera).

              But: Bush telling the NSA to run hog-wild without oversight or Congressional authorization? The NYT sat on that for over a year.

              • Manny Kant

                It is worth noting that the Clintons seem to come in for a lot more petty non-scandals than Obama, who has been remarkably free of them.

                • Warren Terra

                  They try, though, for example every time some Secret Service person is discovered to have charged room service and a prostitute to his expense account.

        • kped

          “not sure she’ll recover”…and yet even the thing you are chicken littling over is…Hillary with a 65% chance of winning.

          So…recover from a 300 EV victory to a 350?

          • Manny Kant

            65% is basically a coin toss.

      • NeonTrotsky

        Honestly It just sounds like Nate Silver is being a pundit again and trying to play into media narratives.

        • I hope you’re right.

        • Matt McIrvin

          He’s actually paying attention to his model. But his model is a bit too clever for its own good.

        • cpinva

          also too, headlines blaring that the presumed front-runner is SUDDENLY 12 POINTS BEHIND IN THE LATEST POLL!!!!!!, tend to attract eyeballs, whereas headlines saying the presumed front-runner is, well, still the presumed front-runner tend to get yawns. that you have to read 4 paragraphs in, to discover THE POLL IS FROM Rasmussen, so naturally it’s an outlier, is part of the grift.

          Newsmax & Worldnutjobdaily pull this stunt all the time: give a big headline to the one-out-of-100 polls, showing Trump ahead of Clinton, and their readership goes wild. this is why they were, almost to a person, gobsmacked when Romney lost, they actually believed the fetid bullshit that Newsmax & WND were both selling them. then reality came crashing through, and multiple conspiracies were born.

          • Matt McIrvin

            I heard from a friend about a PPP poll showing Trump +10, and got mildly worried, so I looked it up… it was a PPP poll in Missouri. Missouri is a nice-to-have state, but Clinton can lose it with no worries (Obama never won it).

            • Manny Kant

              Well, Missouri is R+5, so Trump ahead by ten implies that he’d be ahead by 5 nationally. Which isn’t good.

      • Matt McIrvin

        …the 538 “Now-Cast” and Sam Wang’s map are back to looking pretty normal, now that some more polls are out. The most likely map looks similar to 2012 except that Hillary is leading in North Carolina and Wang has it tied in Ohio.

        Silver’s November projections and even the Now-Cast still give Trump a chance in the thirties, but I think that’s just typical Silverian over-hedging. I think that, based on the state polling, it’s ridiculous to say that in an election held today Hillary’s chances would be less than 95%; all the uncertainty comes from the possibility of a large national swing between now and Election Day.

    • Mike in DC

      It’s the eve of the GOP convention. The Republican nominee should be at or near his highest point in the polls, historically speaking. Even so, he’s not getting above about 44-45%. Clinton’s ceiling is higher than that, and that seems to be her relative floor. Trump may actually not get the traditional boost from the convention that nominees get, and Clinton almost certainly will get a boost from hers the following week. I expect the margin to widen again, come August, and then the next significant event will be the debates.

      • cpinva

        “I expect the margin to widen again, come August, and then the next significant event will be the debates.”

        and those, my friend, should be highly entertaining. I suggest laying in a store of fine craft bear/ale, and lots of popcorn and other snack food products. just watching her smack him around for an hour or so, will make it worth putting up with the moderators. after putting his complete ignorance on public display, his number should drop down to the 27% hard core, true believers, and stay there, pretty much forever.

        • Matt McIrvin

          Either that, or it makes him a man of the people who you want to have a beer with and it’s TRUMP TIME.

          • Thom

            Particularly if she sighs loudly at all his stupidisms.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    The fact the West himself makes the equation between “neo-liberal” and “neo-fascist” is just extraordinarily embarrassing. I mean, it’s kinda like, “Yes, Trump is advocating a campaign of ethnic cleansing through mass expulsions for Hispanics and Muslims. But, also, Hillary Clinton is too close to Wall Street. Obviously these two things are the same.”

    If you’re going to call Clinton extreme, you have to do it, at least, in terms of her hawkish foreign policy, by far the most troubling aspect of her candidacy, which nevertheless does not justify enabling an emotionally unstable narcissist to get his hands on the nuclear briefcase.

    • Origami Isopod

      The fact the West himself makes the equation between “neo-liberal” and “neo-fascist” is just extraordinarily embarrassing.

      It’s like the conservatives who constantly point out that the Nazis had “socialist” in their official name. Except dumber.

    • Hob

      I don’t think it’s about believing Clinton to be an extreme anything. As part of his increasingly vitriolic attacks on Obama, West made it clear that he espouses a principle I’ve unfortunately heard from more than a few radical friends: a politician who’s sort of in the ballpark of the good side, but who is not a revolutionary, is always worse than an outright villain because they make the status quo look potentially acceptable. Reformism is the opiate of the masses, basically.

      Of course in West’s case one’s credentials as a revolutionary have less to do with policy and more to do with how much attention one pays to West specifically, since he is the authentic prophetic voice (as determined by himself).

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Yes, I think you’re right.

      • Hey Hob! Long time no see! Yes, I think you are exactly right–and West has basically been saying this straight out, and his followers among the former Bernie or Busters have been repeating it for weeks. This is exactly the knock on Obama and Clinton. That they won’t bring the revolution and that they will stave it off by offering paltry concessions or improvements for some people while neglecting to kick over the applie cart and spread everything evenly among all people. So every single “good” thing that you can point to is undercut by someone shouting “you forgot Palestine” or “what about Zimbabwe?” And, at the same time, the small but signficant policy provisions that a Hillary Clinton offers are attacked for being obvious, easy, or too slow. Her autism goals won’t prevent global warming! Like that.

      • The Pale Scot


        Yea right. Like i can see Cornel grabbing a rifle and joining the barricades.

        More like the MF goes Gaius Baltar and selects hostages for the Cylons New America GO USA regime

      • Origami Isopod

        This is all exactly on the money.

      • TroubleMaker13

        Of course in West’s case one’s credentials as a revolutionary have less to do with policy and more to do with how much attention one pays to West specifically, since he is the authentic prophetic voice (as determined by himself).

        I think it’s really much more this than any real commitment to reform or revolution. It’s big-fish/small-pond syndrome– if a large, mainstream organization like the Democratic Party headed by a high-profile, popular figure like Clinton or Obama is allowed to gain credence as legitimately progressive or leftist, then that dilutes the influence and status of people like West (and DeBoer, etc). All of the sudden, they have to compete with retail politicians for street cred. Can’t have that. Gotta keep the domain of true righteousness small so that they can corner that market.

    • Aexia

      When you get down to it, Sanders’ foreign policy, drones and all, would have not been significantly different than Clinton’s. Well, maybe he’d have let Gadhafi slaughter more people before the country collapsed into civil war.

      There’s a reason he always went back to the Iraq AUMF vote during foreign policy discussions. It’s his trump card but it’s also the only real point of distinction.

      • Dilan Esper

        Or maybe Gaddafi stays in power and prevents a Libyan civil war.

        Either way it was none of OUR business.

        • so-in-so

          No, there already WAS a civil war in Libya. The west just put a (big) finger on the scale.

          • Larrry

            The Libyan civil war didn’t just erupt out of nowhere. It was partly Iraq invasion geopolitical fallout and partly U.S. cutouts shipping Iraqi Army and other weaponry to national opponents of Gaddafi and other fomentation.

        • Dalai Rasta

          You know, someday it’s going to occur to you that the only reason you don’t have a spot of blood on your pristine hands is that you were standing a ways back while you watched someone being bombed, beheaded, or bludgeoned to death.

          Obviously, that day is not today.

          • liberalrob

            Better that than being the one doing the bombing, beheading and bludgeoning.

            Which we (Americans) are also doing. So nobody’s hands are pristine. But it would be nice to at least try to cut down on the blundering around the world trying to bomb and bludgeon our way to peace. It’s not working.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Yeah, I agree. I don’t think it would have been very different. I think that Sanders’s inability or unwillingness to articulate a clear foreign policy vision was one of the most frustrating aspects of his candidacy, one that dampened my enthusiasm considerably.

        However I still find much of Clinton’s foreign policy views to be abhorrent.

    • cpinva

      please, do tell?

      “If you’re going to call Clinton extreme, you have to do it, at least, in terms of her hawkish foreign policy, by far the most troubling aspect of her candidacy,”

      I keep reading/hearing this, and yet, no examples are ever given to support this claim. we are all seemingly just supposed to accept it as a given.

      • Aexia

        Iraq War aside (which is a fair hit obviously), it’s about Libya. Can’t be about DRONES because Sanders supports those.

        You see, Gadhafi was killed because he was standing up to neoliberal imperialism by the United States and reports that he was bombing civilians in retaliation are just scurrilous lies manufactured by the corporate media. Also too, oil.

        • SIWOTI

          It’s not just about Libya. Clinton has been more hawkish on North Korea, China, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan…

          Gaddafi was killed by the French. The US was trying to capture him.

      • SIWOTI

        Here’s an entire article about it, with examples:

        From her time as Secretary of State, Clinton was far more comfortable with the use of military force than I think many would be comfortable with.

  • Denverite

    I once attended a roundtable discussion featuring West and Cass Sunstein (West referred to him as “Brother Cass”). Loomis probably wouldn’t have liked it.

    • Funkhauser

      Took a class with him and read Race Matters. Appreciated both. But the gentleman clearly doesn’t understand how US electoral politics works.

      • (((Hogan)))

        Not just electoral politics.

        Obama has power right now to enact the recommendations made after Ferguson. Better training, independent civilian oversight boards, body cameras. But he has not used executive orders to push any of these changes through.

        • rea

          Failed high school civics, did he?

        • Manny Kant

          I suppose he could sign executive orders of this sort to prevent all those killings by the Park Police and the Capitol Police.

      • Hob

        I’ve really gotta read that and his other early work. I first encountered him in 1990 when he spoke to my incoming college class, and got such a strongly negative impression from him (basically, he sounded like a smart person who just can’t be bothered to say anything that actually means anything on a sentence-by-sentence basis, and is so in love with the process of criticism that the actual subjects in question are no longer visible – unfortunately this was an accurate preview of my liberal-arts experience) that I avoided ever reading the books he’s best known for, which I can easily believe were worth while. My feeling that he’s a total ass is entirely based on what he’s chosen to do with his celebrity status.

        • J Alfred Press

          My college had a ‘Night With Cornel West” during our winter term. This would have been in about ’95. It was a very expensive night (I was the one in SGA who had pushed very hard to bring him) and his presentation/Q&A sessions were really disappointing. His prepared presentation was bombastic and vapid, and most of the Q&A consisted of him being glibly dismissive. It was really a goddamn bummer, both because I had been so overawed with Race Matters and because this would have been (I think) pretty close to Peak West. I think even at the top of his game, he was deliberately antagonistic in his public appearances, and I can see the charms this might have as a rhetorical tactic except that behind his “monstrous and terrifying masque” he didn’t present dangerous, seductive ideas in his oral presentation. It didn’t sour me on the written work he did when he still had it in the least, but it leads me to believe he may have been a very bad judge of how best to exploit his status as a public intellectual.

      • rm

        For someone who came to prominence through his (very good) studies of American Pragmatism, he has spent a lot of time (25-30 years?) showing no ability act pragmatically.

  • Warren Terra

    So, what are the odds West gets the Greens’ veep nom?

    • Given that Stein has already said she’d step aside in favor of Sanders, I think West should insist that she step aside in favor of him; she can run as his Veep.

      • Lev

        He’d never get into the debates if that happened but man would watching him and Trump going at it be something. Two total narcissists yelling at each other.

      • Breadbaker

        Yes, because we’ve never had an African-American president.

    • Allen B. West?

  • Brownian

    we’ve got to get beyond this lockjaw situation

    But what if the foxes are guarding the tetanus vaccine coop?

    • Moondog von Superman

      That’s a deep cut there.

  • Gerald

    This so called Negro needs to sit his ass down somewhere and STFU!

    He is no “Negro” Leader … to his own dismay!

    What he is …is a legend in his own damned mind!

    Where is HIS organization of African Americans????

    What socially redeeming thing has he done???

    Who toots his horn in the African American community?


    Negro …please!

  • Pyramid Scheme

    He obviously favors neo-fascist over neoliberal

  • Todd

    So, a military coup attempt in Turkey? Not betting anybody had that in the office pool.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Holy shit. I am following live updates on the Guardian now. This is crazy.

    • They should have. It happens every decade or so, per the Wiki.

      military coups d’état in 1960, 1971, and 1980, as well as a military memorandum in 1997

    • tomscud

      Coup leaders linked to charter school movement, because of course they are.

  • Gwen

    Meh. I’m a Bernie4Hillaryite, I thought Bernie picking Cornel West for the platform committee was a mistake from the get-go. Too much of a celebrity activist and not enough of an actual doer-of-great-deeds.

    To be sure, Bill McKibben is also sort of a “celebrity activist” but he seems to be more “activist” than “celebrity” and as such is grounded by reality.

    • petesh

      Bill’s a good guy. He’s committed to his issue, has been involved in setting up the training of grassroots activists all over the place, and he’s not that far from the Democratic mainstream, even as he criticizes it. West, however, actively hates the Democratic mainstream, and is absurdly rude about the President, who is rather popular among Democrats. West was one of Bernie’s biggest mistakes from the get-go.

    • Warren Terra

      Bill McKibben cares about the climate (and presumably other things). Cornel West cares about Cornel West (and nothing else).

    • I thought Bernie picking Cornel West for the platform committee was a mistake from the get-go.


      But this is just such a joke. I mean, don’t go endorsing some other party AFTER BEING ACTIVE ON THE PLATFORM COMMITTEE!

      I mean, *sheesh*.

      • JonH

        A webcomic that is illustrative. (Replace Karl Marx with Cornel West and Monopoly with the Democratic Party Platform committee discussions.)


        • The Pale Scot

          That’s great

  • rdennist

    Am I remembering right? Wasn’t Bradley a goldbug?

    • Warren Terra

      I have no such recollection; I would be profoundly surprised; and the only thing Google finds for me are “gold standard” basketball cards featuring him.

  • The Pale Scot

    Back in the 70’s I found his “counter-opinion” column in the WSJ interesting, but that day has past and he’s become another baby boomer schmuck.

    At least my AA friends don’t get asked “what happened to that Cornel guy” ’cause he’s so far off the radar screen.

  • JL

    West has gotten some positive attention in the last few years for participating in Black Lives Matter instead of lecturing at it. I once medicked a protest in Ferguson, at the national convergence in October 2014, where he got (intentionally, along with numerous clergy) arrested. I had mixed feelings about his involvement.

    On one hand, I appreciate people who are willing to get down to the ground and participate. And I respect the willingness to put your body and your liberty on the line that way, even when I’m not sure that it’s the right call strategically (and in this case I thought it was strategically fine). Getting arrested is not a trivial thing. Period. Also, his presence brought more media attention to the action than it would otherwise have had. I believe that he does sincerely care about certain issues other than himself (police brutality, Palestine), issues that deserve national consideration in settings like the Dem Platform Committee.

    On the other hand, so much of that attention, the time I medicked the action where he got arrested, took the form of “CORNEL WEST ARRESTED IN FERGUSON!!! and also some other people”. Which is not inherently his fault but it did rather seem that he was playing up that angle. And it was supposed to be a march of clergy, not a march of Cornel West. And his electoral analysis has seemed to be shallow and based to a large degree on self-promotion since I’ve known who he is.

  • ijkcomputer

    I’m not, like, a party absolutist or anything, but broadly speaking I feel like people given seats on the Democratic Party platform committee should probably be Democrats.

    • Justaguy

      Yeah, it seems somewhat classless to join a committee, have them agree to or make serious concessions to your views and then jump ship to denounce the whole process.

      • rjayp

        Yeah. Really bad form.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Yeah, it seems somewhat classless to join a committee,

        There you go, dragging class into it again.

      • Breadbaker

        Particularly even before the Convention itself occurs.

  • rjayp

    Does Dr. Jill Stein call for the abolition of the system of private property? No? Not a dime’s worth of difference.

    • Manny Kant

      There genuinely isn’t really a dime’s worth of difference, is there? Jill Stein isn’t a revolutionary socialist.

  • JB2

    Jesus, that stupid outfit, with the French cuffs and the cravat – or whatever the hell that thing is around his neck. And it’s the only thing he ever wears.

    And then, I think it was a New Yorker profile, I read that he smokes cigarillos, probably the most disgusting way of consuming tobacco.

    And when he shows up on Bill Maher or wherever, he’ll just have nothing of substance to say. Even the token dipshit conservative will sound more reasonable and better informed about the issue at hand.

    And yes the second two Matrix films were terrible; and the worst thing about them were the Zion scenes, prominent featuring CW.

    I could go on, but maybe people are catching on to Brother Cornell? Some recognition that he’s a total fraud?

  • JonH

    Cornell got upset when he found out the Castro being mentioned as a running mate isn’t Fidel.

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