Should the word “left” matter any more? Identify with it nowadays and the reaction is apt to be a perplexed, crinkled nose. As if to say, “The word’s in bad odor, why use it? In any event, you’ll be taken for a left-over.”
Frankly, “left” has never had happy associations, olfactory or otherwise, on American shores. One reason, undoubtedly, is that we, unlike most Western countries, never had a mass socialist party—sharply distinguishing itself from communism—as a normal feature of our politics. Then there was the cold war itself, in which “the left” was habitually, often maliciously, identified with Leninism or Stalinism....
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