October 03, 2011

With the partial exception of the Tea Partiers, the “progressives” who form the station’s fan base are among the very few folk in this country who approach politics with any passion—anything greater than a cynical desire for government employment or else a tribal approach to party labels. The folk who agonize over current events at KPFK really do agonize.

But the station reminds me of Chesterton’s dictum that the left is right about what is wrong but wrong about what is right. To put it in medical terms, their diagnosis of the illness is often as spot-on as their prescription is lethal. Their complaints about an oligarchic power structure that has little or no care about its subjects’ welfare? True. A burgeoning underclass without hope of betterment? Absolutely. Endless wars that are waged without any relation to their stated goals? Correct. Did the antiwar movement seem to vanish as soon as Obama occupied the White House? Yes, I noticed that, too.

Granted, my solutions are radically different from theirs. Where they would hold that through some form of socialism or other, the oligarchy must be replaced with “real democracy,” I maintain that “democracy” is a chimera intended to deflect folk from realizing the simple truth about all human societies: They are inevitably run by oligarchies. But if such oligarchies are recognized for what they are and held accountable as such, they tend both to be more responsible and to operate more effectively. It also helps if their members think they will fry in hell forever if they misrule their subjects.

Although it is only one night a month (and midnight to 3AM at that), KPFK also features the non-leftist but still nostalgic “golden days of radio” show Don’t Touch That Dial. As the son of radio actors who met on a sound stage, I appreciate the chance to enjoy the medium that brought my folks together.

For all the insanity KPFK peddles, the city and state would be poorer places if it ever went off the air. And California would be as bereft of a public place for the authentic left as it is currently for the authentic right.



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