So What Does This Movement Stand For Anyway?

Chris Bowers of has one of the most bizarre posts I’ve ever read about our Glorious Progressive Internet Comrades Marching Valiantly…to somewhere. Bowers writes:

Also, no matter how many presidential candidates, members of congress, Democratic Party leaders, or other national figures I meet and talk with, my favorite moments in political campaigns are always large rallies (preferably those organized by volunteers, or those convened to celebrate an electoral victory). I want to be there at the moment when history happens, when the world changes, when consciousness shifts, and when the people rise up and throw off the shackles of the elite, the status quo, and the comfortable. I have wanted that for a long time. Before that happens, I want to be an active member of the small clique, coterie or circle that identified the possibility for massive change and precipitated its manifestation.

skippy skewers this ridiculousness (and points to others who do too), so I won’t bring the snark.
But it does lead to a serious question: when the ‘A-list’ progressive bloggers talk about a movement, what are they referring to? Bloggers like Kos and Jerome Armstrong seem to want a new set of political consultants for the Democratic Party (who also would happen to be them…). The Democratic Party does need new political operatives, but that’s not exactly a political philosophy. Chris Bowers and the others at have set up an excellent information exchange tool, but the ideological content is all over the place, and primarily focuses on “Bush is an idiot.” While I don’t disagree, that’s a sign of sanity, not a political philosophy.
To define a movement by a technology seems backwards. Conservative Richard Viguerie, a pioneer of direct mail politics in the 1980s didn’t look around and form a movement based on direct mailing technology: he was already part of a movement, and adapted a new information technology to meet its goals. Given the very open structure of the internet (compare it to a political party or organization), the internet has some advantages in information exchange and in generating ideas. But as an organizational structure that day after day affects politics in a directional manner, it hasn’t been very successful because of this openess. ‘Stick-to-it-iveness’, which is required for political success, involves a reasonably consistent agenda, but the progressive internet has the attention span of gnats. Right now, I don’t see a ‘movement’, but a collection of people who oppose Bush and who lack any coherent set of political beliefs.

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4 Responses to So What Does This Movement Stand For Anyway?

  1. Joshua says:

    Exactly, Mike. In fact, that’s very much why I don’t bother even reading all the “A-list” liberal blogs. I don’t see a whole lot of difference between them and the official pundit class. A lot of the commentary is about how to “win”, without a whole lot of attention on why we want to “win” or what “winning” even means. Beyond that, they seem to be defined as “anti-Bush” and “counter-establishment”. And I say counter- rather than anti-establishment because it seems clear that these guys would really, really love to be the establishment.
    What a load of crap. What we need are people with real vision and passion and a goal. You won’t find that in the A-list anything these days.

  2. Fubar says:

    Just teach evolution and all will be well; so what if dad is laid off and the kid can’t do math.
    Just accept evolution and your life will be grand.
    Oh, but keep in mind, punk, that without great math and reading skills and great grades and/or connecttions you ain’t gonna get in a grad program worth being in.
    You might end up like Josh Rosenau, with a degree from the University of KANSAS!
    Now isn’t THAT ironic!

  3. Michael Schmidt says:

    I agree that there needs to be something of substance in a movement. The conservatives embraced philosophical points that were obscure, far from the mainstream, and that had implications that would clearly be unpopular (tax the poor, give to the rich). But they threw money at them, established institutes around them, and made them the core of their movement, and now a lot of people who suffer from the implications still embrace the philosophical points. The conservatives have convinced the middle class of the previously unpopular notion that the rich deserve to be rich, and need to be rich for the good of the nation.
    The left needs to cultivate the same sort of philosophically-based cultural movement, rather than to focus on winning in the short term. This means embracing the unpopular notions that we are all in this together (perhaps even embracing the unpopular term “collectivism”) and that what benefits the people at low end of the economic scale benefits everybody. The right will certainly point out the unpleasant implication of this rhetoric, that taxes may need to be raised, especially for the better-off segment of the population. But we need to show that the money spent on taxes actually could buy, for almost everyone, a lot more happiness than they could buy on an individual basis.
    The disadvantage we bear is that, as honest folk, liberals will admit that
    simple slogans are insufficient to plot a course; we don’t want to take “collectivism” to its “communist” extremes, and most of us are all for using markets where the structure of those markets do generate efficient outcomes. That is a much more subtle thing to get across than the conservatives’ “free markets solve all problems” philosophy. We all know that in advancing a more “collectivist” philosophy, we will constantly be countered with images of Soviet Russia. We need strategies to deal with these attacks. But we need to risk the attacks so that we have a philosophical position that people can vote for.

  4. llewelly says:

    It’s called ‘pale blue dot’, Michael Schmidt.

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