A NOTE FOR STEVE GILLIARD
[Steve G. is a prominent Kos alumni blogger. He did the infamous blackface photoshop of Michael Steele, which I thought was totally fine and dandy. I don't follow his site because he evidently does not follow mine -- nobody's perfect -- so my remarks about netroots could not have been directed particularly at him. Below is a response to his response to my response to Matt Stoller's response to the 60s left. -- mbs]
People say I'm arrogant, but what do they know.
Steve, you're a fine blogger and all-around human being, but there is so much you don't know about the pre-Internet left. Your descriptions of SDS and SNCC are ridiculous. They "morphed into terrorists"? Really, do some research. I could as easily say the netroots' leaders have morphed into campaign consultants. That would be almost but not quite as foolish.
You're right that I run the same hazards of generalization as someone discussing the 60s, or any other time. It's easy to cherry-pick exceptions. No doubt the (old) New Left made tons of mistakes, including the sin or arrogance (isn't that what people in Iowa said about Deaniacs in the 2004 caucuses . . . ?).
I know all about the whiteness, class biases, and lack of internal democracy in activist groups. Truth is, you don't find much democracy in any big institution. Mainly this is distraction from the underlying political issues, a distraction that the commercial media and right opposition is fond of fomenting. Like talking about Obama's middle name or his lack of a necktie, instead of his substantive concerns. Even so, the middle class drift in the 70s accomplished a lot in the areas of environmentalism and feminism, among others.
You don't really address my criticism of the netroots. I acknowledge that it has been great at raising money and helping Democrats. And there's nothing wrong with that, but that's a limitation as well as a virtue, particularly from a left perspective. THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS GAINING POLITICAL POWER. Labor provides tons of resources to Democrats, has for years, and its power over policy is nowhere near proportional to its support. You also betray the weakness I note of anti-intellectualism: you think talk of Marx bores people and isn't conducive to organizing meet-ups.
Finally, you have drunk the Kos kool-aid about 'empowerment' and leaderless groups. Don't you realize this is a reprise of the delusions of the early SDS and "participatory democracy"? The only thing missing is the keyboards.
The Internet is a great tool for empowerment, but people have yet to be empowered.
posted by Steve @ 10:04:00 AM