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Tom Rinaldo

(22,911 posts)
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 01:14 PM Feb 2017

I'm a leftist who is, in the big picture, strongly "Pro-American" & "Anti-Russian"

Our nation and it's leaders have participated in innumerable evil acts in the long course of our history. Russia has a magnificent cultural legacy and a strong, resilient, and industrious people. There is much to deplore in America. There is much to admire in Russia. But in the large sweep of world history the evolution of liberal democracies is to be encouraged, and the concentration of power in the hands of autocrats is to be fought. I believe the ends do not justify the means, I believe the means determine the ends. I believe that there can at times be "benign dictatorships" but that they are, where found, temporary at best exceptions to basic human nature - that will inevitably end up badly. I believe that democracies are inherent with some risks as well, ranging from susceptibility to mass manipulation, to mob rule and the utter trampling of minority rights. But nothing is as ruthlessly efficient at wielding concentrated power as an autocracy or full blown totalitarian state. And in the big picture I fundamentally believe that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". In all of the above I can find some common ground with the most principled of Libertarian Conservatives.

I seek no conflict with Russia, and certainly not with the Russian people. Human civilizations are massive centuries long experiments in social evolution. None of us (even with robotics and breakthroughs in medical science) can ever hope to live long enough to see full harmony in this world. We will always have to find a way to coexist to the extent possible with those with whom we have fundamental disagreements, be that a Putin or a Trump. But the ongoing path forward for humanity is always an embrace of both Liberty AND Justice, one can not be sacrificed at the alter of the other.

Capitalism at best in amoral, coupled with greed it quickly lends itself to immoral pursuits. Putin and those in Russia who think like him have much to legitimately fear from Western expansionism. The West has a long and deep tradition of colonialism. But the growth of democratic institutions in Western Europe helped check the manipulation of nationalistic sentiments by self serving despots, who had constantly plunged that continent into war, time and time again, over the preceding millennium. Today we face an exceptional challenge. Not only must we continue the fight to expand and perfect our democratic institutions and our values pertaining to human rights, human dignity and individual freedoms that underlay them (the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of humanity) as President Obama so often alluded to. We must simultaneously fight to protect against their literal erosion.That is the battle today. And it is happening on fronts both local and global.

Fascism is never dead, and it is constantly mutating into new forms. At it's core it existed long before we called it fascism, and it will exist long after that specific construct has fallen from regular usage. Fascism is revitalized now throughout Europe, though it still is being held at bay. Some seeds of it are sprouting here as well. Putin's Russia does not advance democratic values and it sees no value in preserving them. But, for various geo-political and economic reasons it does see significant value now in disrupting the democracies of both Western Europe and America. I see that as dangerous, with potentially very long lasting negative consequences. If that puts me, in this instance, on roughly the same page as John McCain, so be it.

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I'm a leftist who is, in the big picture, strongly "Pro-American" & "Anti-Russian" (Original Post) Tom Rinaldo Feb 2017 OP
My mother had a brief flirtation with the Communist Party in the 1930s Warpy Feb 2017 #1
The anti-totalitarian left has proud American revolutionary roots Tom Rinaldo Feb 2017 #2
I am a leftist who is, in the big picture, LWolf Feb 2017 #3
We probably agree on much Tom Rinaldo Feb 2017 #4
Same here. My country has done some crazy shit Blue_true Feb 2017 #5
I'm all for Russia relations, if they weren't ultranationalists. joshcryer Feb 2017 #6
My beliefs are very similar to former Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson of WA. roamer65 Feb 2017 #7
Good post mvd Feb 2017 #8
Exactly. Here in America I'm sure our President considers folks like me dissidents Tom Rinaldo Feb 2017 #9
Thank you. I wish I could express myself as well. DemocratSinceBirth Feb 2017 #10


(111,124 posts)
1. My mother had a brief flirtation with the Communist Party in the 1930s
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 01:50 PM
Feb 2017

when they were the only ones standing up to Hitler. It didn't last very long, most people getting the hell out when they realized exactly what Stalin was all about. It kept her white knuckled during the McCarthy witch hunt.

Most leftists recognize that "Communism" Russian style was a right wing phenomenon, a totalitarian system wherein few people on the bottom benefited while those on the top merely replaced the old aristocracy with the inner Party.

We have no love for Russia, we've certainly lost any romanticism of Communism that is long gone. We certainly hold no affection for their current strongman, Putin, and his puppets in the Dolt45 administration.

Leftists remain the true patriots in this country, not big on empty symbolism like flag pins but fighting totalitarianism every step of the way---and losing most battles--realizing that the constitution is a remarkable document and the only thing between us and despotism is the rule of law set out within it. I continue to hope we'll get it back at some point. I just doubt I'll live to see it.

Tom Rinaldo

(22,911 posts)
2. The anti-totalitarian left has proud American revolutionary roots
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:02 PM
Feb 2017

It always saddened me when Tea Party types attempted to appropriate that legacy, waving their copies of the constitution when the only thing they were familiar with was the right to bear arms. They only believe in checks and balances when it comes to countering their opponents.


(46,179 posts)
3. I am a leftist who is, in the big picture,
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:03 PM
Feb 2017

"Anti-nationalism" of any kind.

That said, I agree with most of what you've said. Perhaps I differ in that I see "Western expansionism" to be dangerous for the globe. I don't see that expansionism as an expansion of "democracy," and yes, I put it in quotes because I think it deserves them. We've used the term as a tool to get what we wanted, and democracy is not what the American Empire has wanted.

Even in Jefferson's time, with his linking of empire and "democracy," empire, expansionism, has all been about capitalism and power. It's about using the carrot of "democracy" to beat people into submission to our corrupt power. Then and now, it's nothing to be proud of, at least for me.

Russia? My Russian History professor, himself a Russian immigrant, taught me about that cultural legacy among other things. I don't stand in judgement. I hope those strong, resilient, and industrious people do the same as I hope we are doing: hold their government accountable for democratic principles.

And until we clean up our own corrupted mess, we're not in any place to judge others. In my opinion. I'd rather look in my own nation's mirror, judge, and hold it accountable.

Tom Rinaldo

(22,911 posts)
4. We probably agree on much
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:18 PM
Feb 2017

I've been in countless protests against the actions of my own government, both at home and abroad. And with the possible exception of responding to a few appeals from Amnesty International, I stay away from actively judging others (with an exception for genocide).

Everything is used as a weapon by those who seek dominance over others, democracy included. It is no magic cure to anything, nor can it be imposed on anyone. I guess I just believe that those fighting for freedom peace and justice have a few more tools to work with within societies where values consistent with democracy are at least somewhat rooted. I am in favor of defending and strengthening it where it exists, providing an example for governance that others can move toward if they wish.


(31,261 posts)
5. Same here. My country has done some crazy shit
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:48 PM
Feb 2017

that I am not proud. But overall most of what is done in the two most recent Democratic Presidencies were attempts to do the right thing. Putin is a killer who has his people blinded by or fearful of his pathology.


(62,265 posts)
6. I'm all for Russia relations, if they weren't ultranationalists.
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:52 PM
Feb 2017

Opposed to all western values. Homophobic, xenophobic, isolationist, overall fascist.


(36,744 posts)
7. My beliefs are very similar to former Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson of WA.
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:53 PM
Feb 2017

He was strong liberal in every way except foreign policy with totalitarian countries, including the USSR and PRC.

So yes, I am a VERY old school neoconservative.


(65,156 posts)
8. Good post
Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:53 PM
Feb 2017

We should do everything we can to avoid war with Russia (was against the Syrian no-fly zone of Hillary's), but anyone who kills dissenters and doesn't care about civil rights is not our friend. What came out in the DNC e-mails was frustrating, but it was used in a way by Russia to influence our election. I would rather have not known about them at all.

Tom Rinaldo

(22,911 posts)
9. Exactly. Here in America I'm sure our President considers folks like me dissidents
Sun Feb 19, 2017, 11:52 AM
Feb 2017

And I am not in the slightest bit deterred from or fearful of being one, either here on the internet or physically on the streets. It's an uphill battle to be a dissident here, and to defend those liberties that we are blessed with while fighting for greater justice. But it's hard to appreciate, sitting here at home safely venting my opinions, the struggle faced to do so in places like Franco's Spain or Putin's Russia. Or in Saudi Arabia, or much of Asia and Africa. We can not and should not try to forcefully convert the world, but we can and should defend the best of our values, both here and abroad, in concert with those who share them.

We are so far from perfect. I am well aware of, for example, what happened to the Black Panthers, including the assassinations. On the other hand BP co-founder Bobby Seale is still with us and going strong. If our democracy were less robust I am sure he too would long ago have been killed. Humanity needs to move forward out of the dark ages of hate. That is very hard to fight for under any full blown autocracy.


(99,708 posts)
10. Thank you. I wish I could express myself as well.
Sun Feb 19, 2017, 12:03 PM
Feb 2017

Putin isn't interested in bettering the lot of the Russian people. His raison d'etre is to enrich himself. By creating chaos in the western liberal democracies he deprives the Russian people of a model to replace his. He says, look , do you want to be like them?

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