‘Progressives’: Max Is Speaking, and You Should Listen

As regular readers of this blog* know, I’m not particularly fond of the ‘progressive’ netroots, largely because I don’t know what they stand for, and what little I do know doesn’t strike me as particularly compelling. Over at MaxSpeak, there’s an excellent take on the netroots, which includes some points I hadn’t considered. Let’s turn it over to Max (italics mine; I’ve added a relevant link to me):

1. The liberal netroots are soft on Democrats in every issue area except Iraq.
2. The liberal netroots are tough on Iraq, but narrow in their criticisms, since fundamentally the liberal netroots are soft on imperialism, if not completely oblivious to it.
3. The result is a kind of love-hate/manic-depressive posture regarding the Democratic Party. Democratic apparachniks treat the netroots as patsies, since on most issues they are. All the “people-powered” rhetoric marks them as naive, since their people-powering is mostly uncritical. The exception is the war; the netroots are frustrated with the Dems’ inability to stop the war, but all they can do about it is type faster.
4. People power rests in the ability to mobilize people and resources around some common, substantive agenda by turning them out for meetings and demonstrations (local and national), boycotting, petitioning elected officials, shutting down workplaces, and mounting campaigns to contest the seats of incumbents. It’s more than surfing the web, donating money and voting

In fairness, I think the last point isn’t entirely accurate. There have been some very effective boycotts and petitions organized by the ‘netroots.’ For me though, his final point is the take home message and is dead on target:

6. What is different is their pretensions of being radically new, progressive, and independent. They are not. There’s nothing wrong with that either. My interest is ideas and their consequences. Anti-intellectual preemption of the rubric of progressivism by the not-very-progressive obscures genuinely critical ideas about life under capitalism.

As I’ve said before, opposing Bush is simply a mark of sanity, not a political program.
*I thank both of you…

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3 Responses to ‘Progressives’: Max Is Speaking, and You Should Listen

  1. Joseph j7uy5 says:

    For what it is worth, I feel the same way. They do seem to be able to generate money, but it remains to be seen what good that will do. Personally, I don’t think it can do much until there is a fundamental change in the political process. Instant-runoff voting would be an example. There has to be some substantive change like that in order for grass-roots campaigns of any sort to have a chance of consistently making a difference.

  2. IRobot says:

    Your welcome!

  3. Joshua says:

    Yeah, I’m not such a big fan of the “progressive” netroots, either. I actually don’t even read most of the big “progressive” blogs, simply because I don’t think any of them have anything interesting to say to me. The Iraq War sucks and we shouldn’t have invaded? Yeah, thanks, knew that already. Atrios had a really great sandwich for lunch? Uh… I did the LiveJournal thing already, I don’t need any more of that.
    There are some pretty good, genuinely liberal/progressive guys out there, though, they’re just not the A-listers. Folks like David Niewert and Glenn Greenwald have really good insights to add in the area of media criticism, and I think by airing those issues they have the potential to actually change how the mainstream media covers the news, or at the very least provide a good counterbalance, which in my opinion is one of the biggest problems with the country today. It’s not traditional activism, but it’s important to do.
    I suspect, actually, that if we can patch up our sick media and get them to do a properly adversarial, investigative job again, we’ll do good not only to get rid of the current crop of phonies and cronies but prevent another batch from getting elected in the future.

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