As an American leftist, I find Charles Krauthammer's Dec. 21 op-ed column on the alleged faults of the left to be perceptive but also sadly misguided.
Mr. Krauthammer accuses the left, without a socialist dream to guide it any longer, of merely seeking to fracture and divide American society. Perhaps he's right about some of us. But hasn't he noticed how utterly redundant our alleged conspiracy is? American society and American capitalism, alas, fracture themselves quite efficiently and thoroughly, with no need of our help.
The same edition of The Post that carries Mr. Krauthammer's column also reports on the ''drive-by shooting'' of a 6-year-old boy in the District; Ku Klux Klan flyers being found near Fairfax High School; the latest federal budget inflicting what Post headline writers term ''pain on cities and states''; battered and abused women telling their tales of woe in the Style section; and, of course, the nation's continuing slide toward deep economic recession and war.
A few American leftists hiding out in the universities didn't create these clear signs of social breakdown. Everyday life in America did. It's true that Marxism once held forth the hope that the tragic social divisions existing in most societies could be harnessed for the positive end of creating a just, peaceful and classless society, and so in some cases, leftists seek to deepen certain conflicts rather than resolve them. Mr. Krauthammer is right to note that there is a moral contradiction, and perhaps a fatal one, between Marxism's traditional goals and its class-struggle methods.
But eliminate the left, destroy the dream of a socialist paradise to come, and the same fractures will still exist. In fact, they may worsen -- as indeed they seem to be worsening in the United States today.
If Mr. Krauthammer and his political friends are so brilliant and if we leftists are truly as defunct as Mr. Krauthammer claims, I suggest that he stop beating the dead horse of Marxism and begin telling his readers how the great, vibrant, victorious capitalist system can start to function without crime, drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, rape, racism, environmental degradation, S&L scandals, Wall Street insider trading, federal government deficits, economic recession and war.
Surely it is these things -- and not the pathetically depleted ranks of the American left -- that are sowing divisions in our society.
JOHN ANDREWS Washington
In his column "What's Left of the Left?" Charles Krauthammer admirably displayed his ability to lump together three disconnected issues (environmentalism, peace and Balkanization), associate their ideas with the socialist idea of class conflict and cite these issues and ideology as the causes for an increased fracturing of American society.
Mr. Krauthammer's name can be added to the list of victory claimers for capitalism's high ideals. "Socialism is a prescription for economic ruin" claims the insightful Mr. Krauthammer, and further, the left is "launching an all out assault on America's cultural past ... by setting one ethnic group against the other." This is the most serious threat championed by our eternal enemy, according to the author.
Perhaps Mr. Krauthammer fails to see that America's prescription for economic elitism is causing its own peculiar side effects -- poverty, debt, crime and an educational system full of inequities and short on opportunity. The ethnic and gender groups that are being championed by the left are coming to the realization that they are being left out. Mr. Krauthammer fears for his freedom while minorities and women struggle to keep freedom's light in view. And don't be surprised, Mr. Krauthammer, if the environmentalists and peace mongers come to realize that the source of their frustrations lies farther up on the ladder of class structure.
When looking for a source of society's woes, first look to those who control most of society, and in the United States of America, it has not been the socialists.
JEFFREY PHILLIPS Washington