Jim livingston’s essay on “Why the Left Needs America” in this issue of Tikkun is a classic expression of American liberalism, which holds that America has no need for a Left since it is already radical, free, democratic, participatory, self-correcting, and so forth. The Left needs America but America does not need a Left, he argues. Madison, Jefferson, and the Founding Fathers are terrific; Marx is irrelevant.

Having written Why America Needs a Left — the book that provoked Livingston’s response — to dispel these all-too- familiar bromides, I am happy to have the opportunity to rebut his claims and explain why liberalism, as we see it today, without a Left is spineless, and why the country desperately needs an ongoing, self-aware Left.

My conception of the Left is a stringent one. It has nothing to do with alliances between workers and intellectuals, Leninist cadres, political party organizations, and...

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