grass roots
Wed, 19 Jun 1996 08:29:46 -0400

Well, a few quick points on Teds comments re: grass roots.
To me the 'grass roots' are the people who work for a
living and are not part of the power elites. I'm not sure
where academic/intellectuals fit in there but nonetheless.
And when the 'grass roots' get fiery it can become quite
a spectacle. Farmers, students, blacks, non-union workers
are some of the constituencies that have spear-headed
grass roots movements. Since the 60's it has been the
middle-class tax revolt that has been the primary grass roots
My oh my, the tax revolt in Calif. in '78 was a wildfire-
so powerful that Gov. Brown who had liberalized the state
had to capitulate- it knocked him for a loop. The tax revolt
was anti-60's in some of its elements but was mostly concerned
w/swelling budget deficits, economic instability, interest
rates at very high levels. You had a fundemental split between
those who had putative 'conscience' and loaded up the system
w/programs and those who paid for it all. The tragedy is that
there was no leadership to bind those two elements together. And
Ted takes pains to point out that that is preciously what we're
talking about. The loading up on the state of problems/solutions.
That is what the tension between the 60's and the present is. And
there is no question that, since Reagan, the move is to deconstruct
govt.- the public sector on all levels has been shredded and any
attempt to put it back to 60's levels will be a very hard sell.
Every attempt to load up the welfare state or military will be
looked at very, very carefully for cost/benefit. I can't think
of one political party going around and promoting the increase of
taxes to shore up and bolster the welfare state. The welfare state
is not being destroyed it is being deconstructed like all other
The people did not turn against the 60's all that much. The
post 60's period was shaped by huge deficits, US becoming debtor
nation, Japanese success in auto/consumer marketplace- among
other things.
The Weathermen of the 60's and the Militia today are very
similar in that their politics is irrelevent to the profound
depths of alienation that they are existing in. They have
utterly no connection w/the on-going society and the fact
that one chooses the left and the other the right is dependent
on the 'atmosphere of the time'. The left, generally, has always
made the mistake of identifying alienation w/political insight.
And the horrible consequence of this is that it never connects
with the dynamism of the larger culture. So it can not
possibly acknowledge the success of the culture and turns vast
numbers of citizens who are living normal, fulfilled lives
into the 'other'- the demonized other who have sold out and
become mere minions for their real masters- the capitalists!
That is the beginning of the totalitarian mind set.
Well, the connection between marxist critique of capitalism
and Lenin/Mao is pretty simple. Marx stated that it was not
enough to understand the world, the thing was to change it and
Lenin/Mao were the primary agents that took Marx as an instrument
of change. They will always be linked together because it
will always be assumed that marxism or any variant is leading
enevitably toward finding another Lenin and/or Mao. I don't
think the future will look kindly on the 20th C.
And if the left is confining itself to a kind of non-profit
sector volunteerism then more power to it. I will do some
volunteering myself.
Good luck