Daily Archives: December 8, 2008

Palling Around



from NYTimes.

What To Do With The Progressive Coalition?

I want to acknowledge two things about my particular brand of radical politics.

Firstly, I don’t believe any of us truly knows what we are doing when it comes to organizing. We have no idea if what we will do will work. We can’t begin to comprehend the possible outcomes of our actions. As my friend Phan once said, “I’ve never stopped a war before… ”

Secondly, I believe people’s politics are fluid and that it is possible for anyone to become a radical.

The point is that there is a world of possibility, knowing this, I think our strategies should be thought experiments, constantly reconsidered but providing us with at least some sense of direction.

With that, I will raise a question and then leave it aside for a future post, “Are anarchists part of the progressive coalition? Should we/they be?”

Continuing, the divisive techniques of the Obama campaign, movement,  administration, whatever, directed toward the left may have a present embedded in them. That is that jettisoning a large part of the progressive left could further disenchant this segment with Democratic politics and we get another Nader 2000 scenario in electoral politics.

I’m beginning to think that a coalition with potential does not necessarily include the center left, but rather a sizable number of a disowned progressive left, as above, disenchanted with the prospect of liberalism.

Now to directly confront the three major talking points of “pragmatic” Obama supporters. The fact that he is not president yet, so stop criticizing him,  that he sets policy not his cabinet picks, and “he’s not just your president.”

The great thing about the “he’s not president yet” quip is that it has an expiration date, Jan 20, 2008, thats not to far off. My advice is just to ignore it, cause we know it will go away.

And to the notion that he sets policy not his cabinet picks: a) he picks his initial cabinet picks, they’re not being forced upon him and b) the seemingly contradictory fact that most of them have to be confirmed. So its a weird blend of democracy and not, based in the fact that the president is supposedly accountable to us.

To the third, you’re right he’s not my president.

On “Stay Sick…”

I’ve been getting some feedback saying the name of this blog is confusing so let me attempt to answer.

I began writing this during a time of psychological duress, a bout of depression and post traumatic stress. It was from this point that I began to unwind my own radicalism as both a politics and a state of mind. The original subtitle was testament to this: “radical politics and mental health”.

The title “STAY SICK” was to attach the two in a meaningful way in a reference to an album by The Cramps.

The subtitle changed to “revolutionary politics and mental health” noting a shift in thought and a more marked anarchist identification on my part. When I found my parents reading it, I inexplicably changed it to “a revolution in mental health”.

It then transformed into its current incarnation, dropping “mental health” and adding a reference to the Beatles. While working around the RNC in Minneapolis my identity as a revolutionary became self-effacing, as I was more and more around hardline anarchists, populist communists, and those weird Maoist types.

Always one for irony in political movements, I began singing (poorly) the first few lines to the Beatles’ “Revolution” over and over again. As I eventually rose out of this and began to think more strategically, it became less self-effacing and more like a challenge.

You say you want a revolution, Now What?

PS: While in a lot of ways I have ceased to speak about mental health in radical and revolutionary politics, I have found that formulating strategies as series of thought experiments helps me to step out of the mental morass I once found myself in. In other words, this blog helps me keep my head correct while staying sick in other ways.

PS II: it occurs to me that the title “STAY SICK” may just be a way to snag all of the Foucaultians.

Obama’s Left Strategy: Dissuasion or Division?

This post from the Huffington Post is hilarious. Barack Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager says:

This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren’t progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn’t the way he thinks and it’s not likely the way he will lead. The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn’t, suggest that our president surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges. After all, he was elected to be the president of all the people – not just those on the left.

Now I have no idea if he is acting in any professional capacity, but I imagine that with all of the “no drama Obama” hubbub there’s a pretty short leash on this sort of thing.

I find this amusing on a couple of levels:

The first is that the progressive left groaners are loud enough to deserve this kind of put-down. Even if it is rather derogatory the fact that they are not just getting ignored says something.

The second is precisely this: What does it say? Does the Obama administration or campaign or movement or whatever think that this will  dissuade progressives making these criticisms, especially those dyed in the wool progressives who cut their teeth during the late Clinton/Bush years?

I don’t think they have any such delusions. This looks to me like pure centrist strategy. A move to isolate progressives, to stoke the intra-left divisions and then leave them arguing unable to present a unified front. They are trying to break the Anti-Bush Coalition.

PS: More Huffington Post watching, there’s a teeeeny tiny little alert for the Chicago factory takeover, and some really interesting comments on the greek anti-cop riots article (spoiler: apparently I’m not the only anarchist that reads HuffPost)

PS II: Some other scary shit. Practice measured paranoia.