Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If you think I write long posts ...

... check out this one from Carl Davidson at the Progressives for Obama blog: The Bumpy Road Ahead: New Tasks of the Left Following Obama’s Victory 11/19/08. Davidson was a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) back in the day. He also has a couple of other blogs that he's involved with.

Having read quite a bit about "the 60s" lately, I was struck in reading this post that it's written in a style that was popular among leftie intellectuals in those days: long, earnest and analytical with a fondness for describing "forces" with a certain grandiosity that can be frustrating but sometimes has a charm of its own. Despite it's length - or verbosity, if you prefer - he has some decent insights based on following the Presidential election closely. But he organizes the information through categories that are, for better or worse, not what you usually get in mainstream writing about politics.

Maybe its my poli sci background. But how can you not have some appreciation for an analysis worded like this?

The Obama alliance is an emerging, historic counter-hegemonic bloc, still contending both with its pre-election adversaries and within itself. It has taken the White House and strengthened its majority in Congress, but the fight is not over. To define the victorious coalition simply by the class forces at the top is the error of reductionism that fails to shine a light on the path ahead.
Now admit it: you don't recall ever seeing anyone describe Obama's movement as an emerging counter-hegemonic bloc, now do you?

Like I said, he has some interesting observations, particularly on the role played by the Iraq War and by organized labor during the election.

But this is also a sample of the kind of prose that surely must have made a lot of people eyes glaze over even in the 60s when it was more common:

As a new historic bloc, the Obama alliance contains several major and minor poles. It is composed of several class forces, a complex social base and many social movements which have emerged and engaged in the electoral struggle. There is both class struggle and other forms of struggle within it. There are sharp differences on military policy, on Israel-Palestine, on healthcare and the bailout. From the outside, there are also serious and sustained struggles against it. And some forces will move both inside and outside the bloc, as circumstances warrant or change. It is important to be clear on what the main forces and components are, and their path to unity. It’s also important to understand the relation and balance of forces, and how one is not likely to win at the top what one has not consolidated and won at the base, nor is failure in one or another battle always cause for a strategic break.
That paragraph gives me kind of a Huck-Finn-listening-to-Tom-Sawyer moment. As in, I don't know what he's talking about, but boy does it sure sound grand!

When I grow up, though, I want to be able to tease out the relations and balance of forces within emerging counter-hegemonic blocs full of complex struggles among their social bases, and be able to isolate the main forces and components moving within and outside the blocs and among major and minor poles.

I mean, that's just gotta be a cool thing to be able to do!

Fair warning: he actually uses the word "socialist" in a positive way and - OMG! - says something mildly complimentary about the US Communist Party, which apparently still exists in some form. So if that kind of thing gives you hives or makes you worry that you'll catch demons or something, you should probably not read the whole thing. Also, he's true to the writing style of the 60s in devoting several paragraphs to polemics against various leftwing groups, again using a level of generalization that most readers can only guess at what or who he's talking about.


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"It is the logic of our times
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