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Your host, PM 'Papa' Carpenter
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« Intellectual Newt | Main | An admirable consistency »

November 30, 2011

Comments

"How do we get there? I haven't the vaguest fucking idea. Nor does Katrina vandel Heuvel."

Spot on, PM.

Reading this post made me realize why I tend to look at idealism through a very cynical lens.

"We need a transformational presidency..."

My jaw just dropped. Yeah there is nothing like an imperial presidency to save the democracy. (Reminder to self to read Healy's "Cult of the Presidency").

To quote Gary Younge, that position is "indecent in a democracy and incompatible with left politics."

http://www.thenation.com/article/believers-great-men-think-alike

Makes you tired doesn't it? I watched Chris Hayes deliver a panegyric the other day to OWS and I could hardly suppress my giggles. OWS he asserted is great because it is the model of what democracy should be. I could hardly help from laughing. So a bunch of people head down to the old Entmoot to debate what should be on the laundry list. They are basically all in agreement and I'd bet my last dollar that if you asked them they'd self identify as progressives to the last man or woman. This they will tell you is how democracy should work: a bunch of self-selected people who all basically agree should get together to thrash out endlessly their minor differences to decide what grievances to add to their list. Not much in the way of policy solutions are on offer but I'll leave that alone. The claim to enlightenment and superiority over the existing real political system is that these liked minded people are able to generate acceptable compromise. Ay and there's the rub. These same people despise compromise when it comes to people they actually disagree with. That's called caving and it is to be abhorred. In other posts
I have likened this to a Cargo Cult version of democracy and that's what it is: a pale messy ersatz version of real democracy.

Well, I will say I am opposed to OWS next move, something about occupying foreclosed homes. What a messy issue to wade into. And the point?

Suggesting that van den Heuvel is calling for "a putsch, a revolutionary cadre" etc. represents a willful misreading of the piece, which mainly consisted of a reply to Jon Chait's recent description of liberals - who, it should probably be recalled, aren't quite the same as "leftists" - as emotionally incapable of being satisfied with the accomplishments of Democratic presidents.

Van den Heuvel makes the familiar historical argument that progress on leftwing causes, from bank regulation to social insurance to labor and civil rights and beyond, has often been driven by more radical and uncompromising forces. "Energy at the extremes moves the center" is one apt formulation, and it applies to left as well as right, not to mention the the motion of physical objects in space. Incidentally, Chait's own view on OWS, which diverged from the editorial view at TNR when he was still there, roughly coincides with hers.

As for how it "fucking works," van den Heuvel gives a partial example regarding the famous scene with the "banksters" and the reference to the "pitchforks." If pm can't figure out what she's getting at, then he misplaced his political imagination along with his knowledge of history somewhere. The concept obviously has not been beyond Obama, who has alluded to or invoked it at other times - "don't call my bluff, I'll take it to the people." You'll find similar and more explicit statements regarding the value of agitation, protest, organizing, even of threats of civic disruption, from this president and from every president who's ever done a single thing worth doing, and you'll find a similar formula behind every progressive of social democratic advance... ever.

...unless you think that change occurs strictly through the selfless generosity and goodness of heart of the privileged and powerful. How does that fucking work, by the way?

@Peter G: "Makes you tired doesn't it?"

Tired, and it gives me a headache. One can only keep slamming one's head into the wall for so long.

@CK: "...unless you think that change occurs strictly through the selfless generosity and goodness of heart of the privileged and powerful. How does that fucking work, by the way?"

Uh, no. Nice try, though. See, PM has been pretty bloody consistent in saying that change can and does occur by people getting out there and VOTING. That is something the far Right, sadly, has known for years--but many on the Left seem not to be aware of, despite the political events of the past 32 years.

This they will tell you is how democracy should work: a bunch of self-selected people who all basically agree should get together to thrash out endlessly their minor differences to decide what grievances to add to their list.

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