Marty makes excellent points about the need to stop "reading each other out of the
movement." We struggle a little with this in our local Labor Party chapter,
dealing with differences between those who are truly committed to developing a
third party to challenge the Dempubs and those who get sucked into the "lesser of
two evils" in the local Congressional race (shades of HHH). The old 60s' style of
"I'm more authentic" or "I'm more correct than you" has got to go or we'll remain
hopelessly marginalized forever.
Marty correctly criticizes the "purity" emphasis and advocates compromise. Still,
I don't think it's quite that easy. Depends on the compromise!! I think reformism
is great --IF the reform one is working for promises a structural shift in the
ability of elites to maintain their power & the system to persist. If the reform
weakens those (like real campaign finance reform might; like real entry of a
radical perspective into mainstream media might; like easing the path for third
parties might...), then I think it's worth working for and compromising to get.
These concerns seem relevant to Mark Bunster's post re. income differential, in
the way he seems to 'personalize' a critical issue in our globalizing market
society. In speaking of the way the CEOs (and others) earn way out of proportion
to most rank & file folks, he asks "why it is their fault." I don't think that's
the major question --the "fault" is a system which distributes money that way.
But, on the other hand, given that system, if one "plays the system" in order to
be one of the lucky ones that wins big --and does nothing to confront or work for
change of this system-- then I go back to the ole' 60s maxim, "If you're not part
of the solution, you're part of the problem." If one is making hundreds of
thousands of dollars, is one using it all self-indulgently, or is one making major
contributions to political causes that challenge the system? I think the "part of
the problem" still holds, though I quite agree with Marty that our standards do
not and should not require "purity."
Marty Jezer wrote:
> But that's hind site. What really counts is what we learned from it. And I
> sometimes feel that we've learned very little. Being a tiny minority we're
> still reading each other out of the movement, still focusing on our
> disagreements rather than building a movement around the issues on which we
> have agreement.
> The case of Gitlin is a good example. I can't comment on the Iraqi blood
> donation cause I never heard of it. But the anti-Israel ad: As a Jew I
> denounced the 1967 War in Win Magazine and my article cost us subscribers.
> I've been a public proponent of Palestinan statehood as long as I remember.
> I also opposed the invasion of Lebanon. But would I have signed Blankfort's
> ad? I dunno. I'd want to know how it was worded and who else signed it.
> (There was a lot of anti-semitism on the left in that period and there were
> people on the left who treated the PLO as worshipfully and uncritically as
> others on the left treated the Black Panthers). So Gitlin may have had good
> reason to refuse to sign an ad. For this he is denounced (not just by Jeff
> here on this list, but by Alex Cockburn regularly in The Nation) and purged
> him from the movement.
> It's the same old shit all over again. When is the movement going to learn
> that there are very few easy moral and political choices in the real world
> of politics (which differ from the politics of rhetoric and ideology).Ten
> people in an organization in the name of "the people" denounce five of the
> members because the five disagree on an issue. Now the organization has
> five members, but their purity is in tact. One thing I learned from the
> sixties is that "revolutionary purity" isn't worth anything in political
> currency. Better to compromise when necessary and eat crow and maybe have
> some effect than stand off on the sidelines smug, correct, and politically
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