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Resistance builds strength, just like at the gym!

The smoke and flame of burning bridges. Stoller has a fine piece up in Salon on the election. These paragraphs caught my eye, though the whole article is fine:

But can a third-party candidate win? No. So what is the point of voting at all, or voting for a third-party candidate? My answer is that this election is, first and foremost, practice for crisis moments. Elections are just one small part of how social justice change can happen. The best moment for change is actually a crisis, where there is actually policy leverage. ... We all know that elites in a crisis will tell you to hand them enormous amounts of power, lest the world blow up. This is essentially the argument from the political establishment in 2012. Saying no to evil in 2012 will help us understand who is willing to say no to evil when it really matters. And when you have power during a crisis, there’s no end to the amount of good you can do.

How do we drive large-scale change during moments of crisis? How do we use this election to do so? Well, voting third party or even just honestly portraying Obama’s policy architecture is a good way to identify to ourselves and each other who actually has the integrity to not cave to bullying. Then the task starting after the election is to build this network of organized people with intellectual and political integrity into a group who understands how to move the levers of power across industry, government, media and politics. We need to put ourselves into the position to be able to run the government.

After all, if a political revolution came tomorrow, could those who believe in social justice and climate change actually govern? Do we have the people to do it? Do we have the ideas, the legislative proposals, the understanding of how to reorganize our society into a sustainable and socially just one? I suspect, no. When the next crisis comes, and it will come, space will again open up for real policy change.

I think this is good perspective. Prediction is hard, especially about the future -- what do we mean, "the government" -- but the basic perspective of gaining strength from practicing whatever resistance one can is a good one, I think.

NOTE The twitter reaction shows the essential similarity of the authoritarian follower, no matter the authoritarian figure followed. It's just like 2008, except that foolish "hope and change" mask has been ripped off, and all that's left its trollish snark. And denial. Lots and lots of denial.

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Submitted by lambert on

As I said, the twitter was horrific, and mostly distinguished by the instant descent to personal assault and "Do you want the other guy?" that is, basically, all the OFB has left. Complete unwillingness to engage with the substance of the post.

I recommend reading the comment thread at Eschaton. Jay Ackroyd was excellent enough to post a link and an excerpt, and do the moderation -- which can't have been easy -- for the thread is pretty sober, even chastened. No full on assault on Stoller's analysis at all. I mean, you'd expect, at this point in the campaign, that all the talking points would come readily to hand? A real proof of the "enthusiasm" issue, in whatever demographic Eschaton is a proxy for.

Scott LeMieux seems to have been delegated the task of writing a response -- I envy Stoller such an easy target, if he chooses to take that pleasant duty on -- but with the site relaunch I don't have time to crawl through that particular mountain of bullshit In any case, nothing I write would persuade those clowns of anything. Always better to invest in bulding ourselves up, I think.

mtngun's picture
Submitted by mtngun on

Obviously, the 'bots are tribalists and it's a waste of breath to argue with them. You might as well try to convince a Steelers fan that they should root for the Packers, instead.

In my red state, my vote doesn't count -- except as an expression of my values -- so I might as well vote my conscience and can't understand why any logical person would object to that.

This election reminds me of the George Orwell quote "It's not so much staying alive, it's staying human that's important. What counts is that we don't betray each other."

The people who are supporting Obama are obsessed with keeping their tribe alive and the other tribe out of power even if it means betraying humanity.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

the Orwell quote. The subtitle is "The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class." Everything seemed to go downhill after 1971. The last days of the working class began. Nixon successfully mixed up the whole concept of class. When your work was hard and soul crushing, the Republicans gave you meaning. You were part of a great nation. You were macho. You kicked butt. The Democrats were splitting into "identity" politics. The old guard was also macho like the Republicans. In fact the labor bosses were very pro Vietnam war. The new young turks wanted something more human. Young working people in factories were both macho and feminist and fought to "stay human", but were crushed by both their authoritarian leadership and both political parties. It is a very sad book.
That's why the only hopeful sign since 1971 is the Occupy movement. The answer is not in electoral politics. The answer is not in capitalism. The answer as the workers in the 1970s found out is not at the bargaining table. I don't know the answer, but Stoller's piece asks people to at least wake up and at least begin a resistance. Viva la resistance!

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Submitted by DCblogger on

it is indeed a bridge burner and if Romney is elected he will never hear the end of it. But it will give heart to those who just recently left the Democratic party. People are social animals and they need to see that others feel as they do.

The Democrats will miss the importance of this, but the recent defections come not from the theorists, but from the worker bee wing of the Democratic party.

Submitted by lambert on

I think that Chicago believes their data mining operation is a substitute for them.

But also can you give more examples?

And yes, brave.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

but I have written a few Another Democrat leaves the party posts, people like Left in Alabama who are just sick of it. My friends in Virginia will all be voting for Obama, but none of them north of 40 have done any work.

Yes, the consultant class imagines that their data mining is a replacement for worker bees. In much of the country there are no worker bees. Local Dem committees are no more than debating societies. So the consultants take them for granted. It is a self licking ice cream cone that degenerates into kleptocracy. This is one of many reasons I have given up on the idea of "more and better Democrats."

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Submitted by john.halle on

Those of us with a history with Stoller (he banned me from Open Left for expressing views of the DP not far from those he is endorsing here) might feel that he's a bit of a Johnny come lately to these positions. But as a practical matter, that he's issuing them from the inside-or close to these inside-makes them all the more corrosive, so I can't really do anything but stand up an applaud.

While I find the "embracing crisis" argument interesting, it's not clear to me where he's going with it. One conspicuous absence in the piece is his failure to mention any specific parties, individuals or organizations which could function to pick up the pieces following the next crisis in delegitimization which is inevitable in the coming few years.

My view has consistently been that we need to build it-a la Syriza. If we don't we're likely to get Golden Dawn-not to put too fine a point on it. I hope Stoller begins to give a better indication of a positive program, though in and of itself, this critique is plenty valuable. Not to mention inspiring.

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Submitted by quixote on

I know. You can't live on principles. As Orwell said better than I though, you also can't live without them.

This isn't 2000, with a nerdy policy wonk matched up against a prosimian who laughed at people on death row. Gore had a lot of things to dislike in terms of being far from progressive enough, but he merely had failings. He wasn't a huge walking Fail.

Now we have an actual war criminal and a wannabe war criminal. And the argument is that the actual criminal is the lesser evil because he may kill marginally fewer US citizens. !?

To me, that kind of lesser evil is far from lesser enough to make an actionable difference.

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Submitted by okanogen on

Thanks Quixote, I like the way you put this, however my formulation would be that one of them may kill significantly fewer Iranians than the other. I'm almost positive they will kill the same number of Americans, Pakistanis, Pashtun, etc.. Saying that got me in a world of shit here at Correntewire though.

See, you have to be careful how you phrase things here at Correntewire nowadays, lest you open yourself to accusations of being "in the tank" for the two party system. No matter what, it's cool to blast Obama, that is allowed (and why Stoller is now applauded here, which is for all the bad things he says about Obama), just don't say anything either anti-Romney, or pro-Gore, or anything at all, even trivial, that favors the Dems as one of the two parties that Stoller quite accurately admits will rule us for the next four years. Admitting one of these two will rule us, and seeking to determine their nature is absolutely grounds for attack, which I discovered in that other thread. It's viewed as irrelevant, except when you are bashing Dems. Then, carry on.

Just have to warn that you came real close to the edge here, you called Romney a "wannabe war criminal", which I guess is ok, since it is formuslated as less than an "actual war criminal", so Obama still comes off worse (1% more evil), but you hinted that Gore would have been better than GWB, which breaks the rule. At least you didn't use their names, so you probably would get a pass. Maybe. Just be careful.

Submitted by lambert on

If you're raising a moderation issue, raise it. Otherwise, make your case, take your lumps, and carry on. If you're talking about the thread I'm talking about, reaction wasn't nearly as monolithic as you seem to feel.

On Iran: If you followed the news (and looked at the link I gave on the last thread), the Brits turned the administration down on using IIRC their air bases, then leaked it. Sounds like they don't want to get burned as they did on Iraq, to me. I think the constraint on death and destruction in Iran is the shape of the military (fragile) and not the bloodthirstiness of either party. Of course, it's all guesswork anyhow, since the decision making isn't remotely democratic.

On war criminal: I don't see your problem. How is it controversial to say to that Obama's an actual war criminal and Romney's a potential one?

For myself, I cover both these shitheads and their appalling shithead campaigns with what I hope is a fair degree of evenhandedness; they've their sections, gaffes by each covered as they occur. Other people are perfectly free to support one candidate or the other or a third as indeed they do. As before, I'm puzzled by the vehemence of the language and what reads as a burning sense of outrage and betrayal. The tone seems completely inadequate to its object.

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Submitted by okanogen on

Don't wear it. I wasn't talking about you personally, just many who now comprise the Correntewire community lately.

Where are you getting moderation issues here? I haven't raised any and don't have any to raise. Do you? I object to some substance and characterization as well as psychoanalysis of myself and my views, but I think I can deal with that.

My "tone"? Oh, the vapors!

I'll comment more on this subject when on a keyboard rather than a phone.

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

At this point, we really have to think of political organizing like a government-in-exile, or a shadow cabinet in a parliamentary system.

Submitted by lambert on

... though to be fair, an anarchist wouldn't!

Which ministry do you want? I'll take the Ministry of Horticulture!

* * *

10% serious. A great way to organize ideas, and people need to a face on ideas, apparently.

Not sure the current structure of govenment should be shadowed, however. Eh?

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

Yes, a lot of anarchists aren't big fans of what I'm talking about.

I actually like "government in exile" the best, because in a sense we've become "internal exiles" in our own country. We still believe that we can have a commons, and that collective action in support of the commons is achievable. Our opponents among the neoliberalists don't. The left presents an interesting problem, in that a lot of the most radical folks seem to think that the goal is to eliminate money. I think that would spell the end of industrial civilization, though, that may be the goal for some factions.

Have no idea which ministry/department chair I'd be.

One thing I do know is that the left has failed to articulate for quite some time what kind of end state it wants, and more specifically, how to get to that end state. To my mind this is the importance of MMT, since it offers us a chance to understand political economy and meet large collective-action goals.

So many people have given up on the idea of systematic collective action, but I haven't. And looking around at Correntewire and Naked Capitalism comment threads reminds me that I am not alone.

Submitted by Hugh on

I agree with john.halle. I learned a lot about Stoller's history in the early blogosphere and he was pretty authoritarian. People grow. At least, I hope they do. I agree as well that it is great that Stoller wrote this piece. I think he nails the case against Obama. I am concerned that he does not reject elitism. The end part could be construed as replacing one elite with another. That would be a fatal mistake.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

It's like Robert Michels' "iron law of oligarchy" where all organizations eventually become run by professional administrators aka bureaucrats, apparatchiks, courtiers for the new batch of oligarchs. Interesting that Michels went from being an anarcho-syndicalist to being a Mussolini fascist. Sometimes people just give up and save their own hides or so they think. All the more reason to admire Stoller.
This idea was also articulated by others like Galbraith. When I suggested recently we break up the North American continent into regions, someone suggested I wanted to become praetor of the Montalbertishcolumbia Region.

Nope. Don't want to run anything. I like throwing out ideas though. And Stoller seems to be on a similar journey that I am taking. It is a journey, so get in shape.

Submitted by lambert on

... so it's to his credit he still speaks to me ;-)

To his much larger credit is this ("Class of 2012") piece. I don't view this as so much an anti-Obama article as a a pro-exercise of independence article. It's the working out of Newberry's third pole in American politics thread once more.

Neil in Chicago's picture
Submitted by Neil in Chicago on

Saying no to evil in 2012 will help us understand who is willing to say no to evil when it really matters.
uh huh  So how do I tell when it really matters, if this isn't it?

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

But how did those work out?

Submitted by lambert on

There are probably other better examples. The Velvet Revolution would be nice!

On Greece: We can't know and I don't have good sources. I'm worried that SYRIZA is playing too cautiously.....

On Tahrir Square: Began brilliantly, ended I would say better off than many possible futures. Big problems with maturity and the kind of exercise that Stoller points out is something we need much more of. (Their movement grew out of union-buildng, interestingly enough).

That said, I have a poor track record of being overly pessimistic. I never, not in a mlllion years, thought that the Arab Spring would happen, or that it would circle the Mediterranean basis and leap the Atlantic.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

on Yves post on the Supreme Court for simply pointing out that the Supreme Court is pro business and that Democrats didn't stall any conservative appointments to the court. Also appears we hate "uneducated people, Republicans, Clinton, Israel"...and puppies. Youza!

Submitted by lambert on

Adding, I went over there and beat up a few trolls, but I don't see the comments you're referring to. Was it the Supreme Court thread?

Submitted by lambert on

Compared to the 2008 primary wars, this is nothing. These guys just don't have their hearts in it.

Adding, I'm not sure I ever used this sig, but I was working on it. This is a distillation of a month or so in the trenches of Kos:

OFB PROPHLACTIC Yes, I am paid by the Hillary campaign. Yes, I hope to get a job in Hillary's administration. Yes, I am a shill. Yes, I am a hack. Yes, I am a liar. Yes, I am a racist. Yes, I am a purist. Yes, I am a troll. Yes, I am ignorant. Yes, I hate Obama. Yes, I ignore all facts that don't square with my [lying|racist|purist|shilling|hackish|trollish] preconceptions of Obama. Yes, my reading comprehension is poor. Yes, I have a hidden agenda: I hope that the Democrats lose, and to that end I support [not Obama]. Yes, I could be older than you. Yes, I think all young people are stupid. Did I mention I'm a shill and a hack? Good. Anything else?

All dialog guaranteed verbatim!

Also read Vast Left's post, which remains brilliant.