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Graeber writes: "Occupy is shedding its liberal accretions and rapidly turning into something with much deeper roots, creating alliances that promise to transform the very notion of revolutionary politics in America."

Occupy Wall Street participants stage a march down Broadway as part of May Day celebrations in New York, 05/01/12. (photo: Getty Images)
Occupy Wall Street participants stage a march down Broadway as part of May Day celebrations in New York, 05/01/12. (photo: Getty Images)



Occupy's Liberation From Liberalism

By David Graeber, Guardian UK

09 May 12

 

Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

 

he US press seems to have decided that the Occupy movement is no longer a story. Pretty much no matter what we do. In New York, on May Day, something between 50,000 and 100,000 people marched through the streets – we don't know the exact numbers because most papers didn't report the event at all, and therefore, didn't bother to make estimates. In California, there were blockades and walkouts. In Seattle, one band of protestors relived the famous Black Bloc actions of November 1999, smashing many of the same corporate windows – and even that didn't make national news!

But in a way it hardly matters. Occupy is shedding its liberal accretions and rapidly turning into something with much deeper roots, creating alliances that promise to transform the very notion of revolutionary politics in America.

During the first two months of the occupation, camps emerged in every city in America, there was an explosion of press attention, and, at the same time, a vast influx of money (at one point, OWS in New York was sitting on over $0.5m, almost all of it from donations of under $100 each). Those months also saw a veritable invasion from liberal groups, ranging from Rebuild the Dream to MoveOn.org. Before long, occupiers realized the help was threatening to destroy them; meetings became bureaucratized as they turned into endless squabbles about money; paid organizers with agendas often very different than the original occupiers were infiltrating and trying to turn the movement towards much more conventional political or electoral campaigns.

Then came the evictions.

There is a traditional terms of alliance between liberals and radicals in American social movements: through civil disobedience and direct action, the radicals create a fire on the liberals' left that makes them seem relevant as a moderate alternative; the liberals keep us out of jail. In this case, the liberals spectacularly failed.

Over the winter, rather than making an issue of the extraordinary illegal violence of the evictions, they chose, instead, to create an almost histrionic moral crisis over a few broken windows in Oakland months before. But when OWS re-emerged in the spring, the abandonment of the liberals, the drying-up of the money, have become an almost miraculous blessing. Activists have honed and polished their street tactics and democratic process. New alliances have been created, with community groups, immigrant rights organizations, and, increasingly, labor unions.

One reason OWS agreed to forgo mass civil disobedience in New York on 1 May was to solidify those alliances. Instead, occupiers working within the coalition pushed – with the boisterous support of many rank and file, despite the initial hesitation of some union leadership – for a joint solidarity statement that called not just for the usual battle against austerity, but to the revolutionary transformation of society:

"For centuries, May Day has been a time when the stirrings of spring lead people of good will towards visions of revolutionary renewal. The powerful wish to take these dreams away from us. They never will. And so it is on this May Day, in the wake of a growing planetary uprising for justice, we dare to look forward to a world when the borders that divide us will be made meaningless, to the birth of genuinely democratic culture of communities managing their own resources for the common good, and where the value and dignity of no human being on this planet is considered inferior to any other."

For representatives of New York's Health and Transit Workers, not to mention its Central Labor Council, to sign on to such a statement is epochal. America is one of the few countries where May Day, the International Workers' Day, is not even a holiday – ironically enough, considering the fact the date was chosen to commemorate events that occurred in Chicago, during the struggle for the 8-hour day in 1886. During the cold war, the idea of unions signing on to a statement like this would have been inconceivable: in the 1960s, unionized workers were known physically attack Wall Street protestors in the name of patriotic anti-communism. But the collapse of state socialism has made new alliances possible, and, in making common cause with occupiers, and the immigrant groups that first turned May Day into a national day of action in 2006, working-class organizations are also beginning to return to their roots—up to and including, the ideas and visions of the Haymarket martyrs themselves.

The words might be diplomatically chosen, but there's no mistaking what tradition is being invoked here. In endorsing a vision of universal equality, of the dissolution of national borders, and democratic self-governing communities, nurses, bus drivers, and construction workers at the heart of America's greatest capitalist metropolis are signing on to the vision, if not the tactics, of revolutionary anarchism.

 

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+42 # dkonstruction 2012-05-09 12:58
As Graeber points out, the first may day came during the struggle for the 8-hour work day...it's time to raise this banner again and call for less work and more leisure time (the only way to bring about full employment while at the same fighting against wage slavery in general).

At the same time, we need an honest reassessment of the role of (most of) organized labor (meaning the leadership and not the rank and rile) and particularly how public sector workers (since they are the largest sector of unionized workers in the country) can fight back. Going out on strike (i.e., stopping services) just pisses off the vast majority of the people that labor needs to win over to their side. The point of a strike was not to stop production but rather to hurt the bosses financially (and at the time the only way to do this was to shut down production). At this point, public sector workers need new tactics...they need to strike by continuing to provide the services that the 99% need and use but provide those services for free thus hitting the bosses (the state) financially. In 1973, the Milan bus workers went out on strike by continuing to drive but refusing to collect fairs...the city caved to their demands in 24 hours.

So, yes, we need to revive the spirit of May Day but we also need to update both our demands as well as our tactics.

As the students and workers in France during May '68 declared "all power to the imagination."
 
 
+30 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-09 13:41
Something which should be considered is dual unionism; workers need to strike against the union bosses club who have sold them out.

The problem I find with liberalism, generally, is the elitist attitude of 'we know what is best for you' and excluding the workers -- something like wanting to improve the condtions for slaves but not eliminating slavery. And, yes, liberals do tend to be hierarchical as well as authoritan and controlling. Just having 'liberal ideas' does not make liberal (even in its good sense).

This is one of the problems with the ridiculously simplistic one-dimensional idea of liberal or conservative, left or right, that political discussion has deteriorated to in the US.
 
 
+5 # paulrevere 2012-05-09 23:11
Your criticism of liberalism is quite flawed really. You have the motivation correct, wanting to improve conditions for the masses.

The next step has to be a vision towards which to work which is expressed in the article and then to determine the tactics and techniques needed to get to some broad beginning since it involves so many coallitions.

All of which is to say that the vision helps establish the avenues that will contribute to the process.
 
 
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-10 12:32
What does this have to do with liberals? Socialists have a vision, and even the right wing crazies have a vision, and both of those also employ planning of techniques, etc.

But liberals generally do not work with consensus nor are all that democratic in many cases, but tend to be hierarchical and think they kniw best what everyone else should do to the extent that they are willing to impose their ideas on others -- often as much as the far right does. This is not the vision expressed in the article and by OWS -- that of distributed leadership and socio-anarchism .

At least, this is what is generally happening with liberalism as currently practiced. But there are varitaions in liberalism, with at least two major historical schools of thinking. It's important to note the significant differences between social democrats and democratic socialists, BTW -- with liberals tending towards the former.
 
 
+4 # paulrevere 2012-05-10 13:20
I won't duel with you on term definitions but I will parry on your regular refrain of 'liberal elitists knowing what is best for you'.

That mindset seems like a browbeat because the left tends to be made up of folks who question everything and attempt to analyse the same with the best interests of the many in mind.

Upon thinking things through, one inevitably finds the avenues for improvement or that dreaded word CHANGE. Change as you can imagine is a threat to most humans as we all like the cruise.

I don't believe ANY process for uniting WETHEPEOPLE in defense of and for improvement of 'the commons' can NOT be hierarchical... there has to be institutional/h istorical insight applied that requires a wingspan of grasp to make work. The baton pass of that body of knowledge goes from informed to less informed...a hierarchy. Just the way life and nature work is my take.

The same cannot be said for rw thinking. The right wing thinks in terms of preserving what is and fighting as a solution...if they don't see it our way, nuke 'em, invade 'em, scare the bejeebus out of 'em and do all of the above...then they'll listen...becaus e we know best because our G_d gave us all this wealth to prove our chosen status, so we have the right, so we will kill you in the name of OUR G_d...because he is right.
 
 
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-10 14:16
There are various effective forms of organization beside hierarchy. In computer data bases, two other common forms are networked and relational . Temporary hierarchical 'views' are useful in these, but the key, and in anarchism, is that their are no 'bosses' -- hierarchy is temporary, and accountable to the group.

Consensus is useful especially for planning. The 'Japanese revolution' in manufacturing was based largely on consensus, as is worker run factories, and Quakers' meetings and structure. Consensus and other organization is not well understood by many people, though, and the tendency is to default to hierarchy.

There is also much organization in nature which is non-hierarchica l and works very well (which is why it evolved like that). Swarm intelligence is one example. Collective mind and intelligence is a major field of study, and much has already been learned, and applied.

The major proponents of hierarchy has, historically, been from those at the top, but of course. That doesn't mean it's necessary, nor better. This area can get rather involved and technical, though -- more than can be discussed in a comment section. Yet, much information is available on the (non-hierchical ) web. Just google 'collective intelligence' for a starting point, and you will find enough to chase around to keep you busy for many weeks or months.
 
 
0 # paulrevere 2012-05-10 16:36
I guess what I am driving at is that you seemed intent upon dismissing hierarchy as necessary in your first post, now you caveat it as temporary...

I'd submit that ALL hierarchy evolves too and thus in it's hopefully unpresuming wisdom chooses the fade button at appropriate times.

I DEFINATELY do not abide by anarchy. I get your take on the appearance of liberty and work for the common good in a hive perspective.

I always in discussions regarding the nature of this, find that there is a 'stump' when one has to plug in the Queen and attendants. The hive is organized around preservation of the brood line...another broad hierarchy.

I'd postulate that there is always a hierarchy whether it is prevailing or momentary, it is needed to perpetuate the momentum for survival.
 
 
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-11 00:45
Queen bees do not make decisions or control anything.

Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchical_incompetence

Hyper linked through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_intelligence
and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relevance_Paradox

and also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacit_knowledge

Hierarchy is only one mode of organization, and one with huge inherent flaws. It can be useful, but is not necessary, even temporarily.

If you study up on this you begin to understand what the problems are, and why OWS has been more successful than many groups in the past. Seriously -- there is a lot involved with it, and it's not simple, but complex, subtle, and deep -- I'm still learning more and more despite having started with these ideas forty years ago.

If you won't abide anarchy -- then you won't be effective in many areas and find it virtually impossible to understand occupy. Can you abide wikipedia? You have to open up your mind and forget the stuff you think you know.
 
 
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-11 01:08
Since you mention hives (bees), see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bees_algorithm

Note the application listed, but also that this is not hierarchical, but can be adapted to find effective ways to combat the 1%, government control, gaining public support, etc. but 'sending out scouts' to try different things and then letting them come back to describe what they learned, using lateral communication (introducing information or proposals during an occupy GA, or on various web sites).

This is just one very small part of the subject of non-hierarchica l organization.

Also check that link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research , and notice that points to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_studies

Like I said -- this is deep, broad, and complex. And much of it new knowledge.
 
 
0 # dkonstruction 2012-05-10 08:08
didn't they used to be called wild cat or sit down strikes (although those were against the company and not the union bosses)..lol? I agree completely that there needs to be a way for the rank and file to protest their own union bosses when they feel they are not being represented, listened to, sold out. But, equally important at this point has to be a reassessment of union tactics so that "strikes" hit the bosses/the state financially but at the same time do it in a way that continues to provide services (in the case of public sector workers) so that they are able to win broad based support (in part by not simply seeming self-serving and not giving a damn about the rest of the non-union working class)...i also think that there has to be alot more discussion about how the unions (the workers) can take back control of their own pension funds and use them to invest in things that truly help their membership as well as other non-union workers in the community (e.g., developing affordable housing)...In NYC, the city public pension funds are valued at more than $100 billion...think what we could do with $100 billion community development bank. So, tactics have to on the one hand demonstrate why we don't need the bosses and can deliver the services without them while at the same time taking full advantage and using the significant resources "we" in theory already have at our disposal.
 
 
+8 # Capn Canard 2012-05-10 08:40
This last quote is spot on: Quoting bluepilgrim:
This is one of the problems with the ridiculously simplistic one-dimensional idea of liberal or conservative, left or right, that political discussion has deteriorated to in the US.


I tend to think that at the heart of our problems is the adversarial political system where the winner takes all and that makes it far easier for the 1% to control the debate. Often it leads eventually to violence as it has so many times in the past.
 
 
+4 # DurangoKid 2012-05-09 22:18
What we need is to reorganize labor starting with the workplace. First, abolish capitalism. Second, every worker works 4 days and then spends 1 day managing the workplace. No more share holders. No more boards of directors. No more CEO pay that's 500 times average workers. Pay grades are indexed from the lowest to the highest by a factor of 5. No productive enterprise ever has the status of a person. No business can buy or sell another. Businesses operating outside their charters or illegally are abolished and liquidated into a common capital pool. Venture capital is issued by the Treasury as interest free currency to circulate in perpetuity. The stock of money shall be under democratic control. Renewable resources shall be consumed at or below the rate of renewal. Non-renewable resources shall be consumed at or below the rates of depletion. Governments shall carry no debt.

Liberalism and capitalism have both been failures. They cannot be reformed. They must be abolished if civilization is to continue. Good places to start are how we produce and how we exchange.
 
 
+1 # dloehr 2012-05-09 23:10
The devolution of liberals in the past 50 years has been tragic and farcical. The 1950's civil rights movement would not have succeeded without white liberals marching with and speaking for black people. The movements of the 1960s ended that. The Black Power movement had its own articulate speakers, and rejected the very idea of whites speaking for them. (And what white speakers could have matched MLK, Malcolm X, et al?) The women's movement also came with brilliant and articulate women: Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer -- who could match them? I know little about the gay rights movement after Stonewall in 1969, but they too spoke for themselves. This left liberals with no useful social function. In the early 1980s, liberals in university Humanities departments came up with a brilliantly bizarre solution: they INVENTED victim groups, so no one could tell them not to speak for the "differently abled," victims of "ageism," "lookism" and the rest. This let them imagine they were still in the 1950s, back when they were relevant. Now they seem a polite but chastised group. I used to think of myself as a liberal; somehow, I've now become a radical: even liberals don't like using words like fascism, evil, or noting that our President actually put out a hit on a US citizen! It's sad to see them become a caricature, listening to NPR, the Muzak for the intelligentsia. It is sad. I hope the Occupy movement can effect the changes they seek.
 
 
-4 # paulrevere 2012-05-10 12:32
Bravo! well stated...libera ls allowed themselves to be divided by the factions you outline and instead of seeking common ground, sputtered away into victim worship, 'it's the children' extremes, ban guns mewlings and cowering because they felt threatened by the Neanderthal machinations of right wing assasinations, threats and brow beatings.
 
 
-8 # zippybob 2012-05-10 00:18
I myself am a fushinest and care more about seeing a just and ethical Govt do not think capitalism is the enemy and I believe OWS should take or at least cool down some of its rehetoric regarding anti capitalism I myself emailed there General Assembly and asked is OWS anti Capitalist and recieved a simple answer NO
If you look at a loaf of bread and mediate on the how it got too the store from a seed you will see that many hands are involved this is the interdependance that is a reality and all of those hands should be honored and not exploited for the few as is the case now regardless of the economic system as long as our leaders are working for the 1% this is not the case I believe OWS shoud focus on Getting money out of politics and and use the Bill Of Rights and Constution as a means too get a change become a Patriotic movement pro democracy etc to achive its changing goals and educiate the public that socialism and collectivesm are not dirty words as well as capitalism as long as there is no gang boss and slavery under govt as we have now.
I am the zipster
 
 
+3 # dkonstruction 2012-05-10 08:54
Zipster, i agree that it takes many to go from seed to bread in the store -- this shows we need to cooperate with others for the economy to function smoothly. but, how do we go from that to needing capitalist bosses whose sole raison d'etre is to control and exploit the labor of others? If "we the people" are able to work together to organize our own work places as well as systems for distributing what we produce then what do "capitalists" add to this process other than controlling and exploiting the labor of those who actually do the work producing and distributing society's products?

I agree with you about the Bill of Rights is (along with the Declaration) and the need to "Occupy" these again and take them back from the right-wing (i have a different take on the Constitution as a whole however which i think in many ways was the counter-revolut ion in that it was really a document about defending the property rights of white males while at the same time deliberately excluding/disen franchising the majority (poor white males, women and african americans) from any political say whatsoever.

And, while i agree we need to get "money out of politics" it has always been "in" and the political system organized to protect the interests of the 1%. So to think that somehow before Citizens United or whatever there was a golden age (or that overturning CU will somehow usher in a new one) where monied interests did not control the game is simply not true.
 
 
+8 # PaineRad 2012-05-10 02:44
Many of us on the left have come to accept that "liberals" are all about putting band-aids on slashed arteries, witness the inadequacy of virtually every piece of legislation that made its way to the Oval Office over the last three years. And that is in addition to the cowering battered spouse syndrome that "liberals" have displayed over the past three or so decades.

However, I believe it is a mistake to concentrate on the personalities, the individuals sitting in the chairs in Congress or the Oval Office as well as in the state houses. The issues, I believe, are the institutional relationships, the systemic paradigms that define job descriptions for the many butts planted in those chairs and those of their staffs and consultants. We get rid of one here and one there only to turn around to find 5, 10, 20 more butts all too willing to plant themselves in the same chairs and make the same decisions while operating under the same paradigms within the same system.

We have to change those paradigms that define the job descriptions. That will never happen by changing butts, by working an inside game alone.

It will happen by challenging the honesty, fairness and morality of the accepted "wisdom" spewed by the corporatist owners of vast, unproductive wealth and recipients of vast, unproductive income hell-bent on maintaining their superior status even if they push everyone (including themselves) into Third World penury.
 
 
-7 # PaineRad 2012-05-10 02:48
It is a shame that some Occupy groups have not learned the solidarity lesson that OWS has.

I find it hilarious that while Occupy has been so terrified of being co-opted, it is Occupy that has co-opted, sucked much of the wind out of, most of the lefty rank and file groups around the country.
 
 
+2 # Charles3000 2012-05-10 03:57
The most exciting development I have heard about is "Mondragon Economics" which has become a very big thing in the Basque region of Spain. It works and it is big. Not a single job has been lost in the region during the present "downturn." It has deep conservative appeal, deep liberal appeal and is a total rejection of socialism and state planning and control. It has also created it's own banks. It also traces it's roots to an encyclical from a Pope. Check it out. You will be impressed.
 
 
+1 # paulrevere 2012-05-10 12:44
If I am not mistaken the Mondragon Economics philosophy is based on the cooperative model with individuals being owners and not employees...the re are literally hundreds of US employee owned companies and tens of thousands of employee owners.

http://www.nceo.org/articles/employee-ownership-100
 
 
+3 # 2wmcg2 2012-05-10 07:02
Dkonstruction is right. Revive the spirit of the original May Day by readopting its goal - further advancement toward leisure which will also drive wages up. (See http://www.shorterworkweek.com.)

Also right: public-sector employees cannot strike to put financial pressure on their employer but they can provide the services for free. What a bold move that would be.

Now we're starting to get back on track - by proposing solutions and not merely demonizing the opposition.
 
 
-7 # cordleycoit 2012-05-10 08:06
Sorry but the craft unions have a strangle hold on the media jobs they are very corrupt very liberal. If you want nice clean thinking with no originality pay the twenty thousand (1970 dollars) initiation fee and sit on the gravy train, otherwise hit the bag jack. Most of organized labor these days are paper shufflers-feath er merchants, teachers and clerks. Not like janitors, drivers and real people. Labor is if anything more fragmented. I am speaking as a former shop steward.Our bosses union sold
us like red meat.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2012-05-10 09:00
agreed cordleycoit but the question then is how do we respond? the answer is not to line up with the right-wing anti union folks (not suggesting this is what you are advocating) but to develop a progressive (racial, revolutionary, etc) response. Seems to me the labor movement has 3 choices: 1) support rank and file "democratic union" initiatives 2) support break-away and independent unions (like the relatively new taxi workers union); support a reorganization of the entire union movement along the IWW "one big union" model (and if not then we also have to address the lack of inter-union support/solidar ity when it comes to sympathy strikes and not crossing others picket lines).
 
 
+4 # dkonstruction 2012-05-10 08:32
The IWW called for the 4 by 4 work day/week (4 hours a day, 4 days a week) more than a hundred years ago...bout time we at least started moving in that direction (part of the reason it's harder to build a movement these days is that we're all working too $%#^ing much...those of us still with jobs that is).
 
 
+3 # dkonstruction 2012-05-10 08:35
I also agree that we have to support worker run operations and Mondragon is a great model to look at but so are the many co-operatives here in the US (and they sound more "american" than "workers control of the means of production" though they are in fact the same thing...so the language we use about this stuff is also important).

Gar Alperowitz has a great recent book called "Beyond Capitalism" that talks alot about the worker co-ops (he's been heavily involved with some very interesting work being done in Cleveland ( check out his work with the Democracy Collaborative and Coomunity-Wealt h.org --http://democr acycollaborativ e.org/ ). This type of work combined with efforts to create publicy owned/controlle d financial institutions (as well as supporting the move your money campaigns to support local credit unions) are the kinds of things that i think can have a significant impact (not the full revolution of course but i think it is naive to think that first we will have the revolution and then we create all this stuff...i think it is actually the reverse as the new system is always born from within the belly of the existing beast). On alternative financials see the work of Ellen Brown (he has a great book called "Web of Debt" on the history of money/banking in the US) and the new economy network ( http://www.neweconomynetwork.org/ )who have put out some great stuff (all down-loadable for free) on meaningful and substantive financial reform/restrctu ring.
 
 
+5 # K.D. 2012-05-10 10:03
I am so tired of right-wing apologists using "elitism" in connection with liberals.

You think the right wing isn't about implementing its "we know what is best for you" agenda? Hello? The real "elite" who run this country are not liberals, but conservative creeps like Scalia and his ilk on the Supreme Court who allow the non-tax-paying corporations, via Citizens United, to destroy democracy by encouraging its most venal, greedy, so-called "citizens," also supported by obstructionist Congressional Republicans and corporate media, to warp the political process in favor of the 1%.

Ignorance is the problem thanks to decades of poor education in the U.S. and every citizen opposed to paying taxes. It's Texas gaining control of textbooks, which is putting science on trial so the red States can brainwash, i.e. "home/charter school" their unsuspecting children with cult Bronze Age ideas that have zero evidence in the real world.

Evangelical Christians believe they "know what's best for you," far more than any liberal "elitist" who at least thinks you have a right to your views. Their ideology is based on authoritarian, patriarchal (misogynist), regressive ideas. They want to make sure your daughter uses a back room to get an abortion, because "God" forbid she had sex before she was married.

Pathological ignorance and poor critical thinking skills are our problems, along with the sociopathic worship of unenlightened capitalism.
 
 
0 # dkonstruction 2012-05-10 13:07
K.D., while i appreciate the sentiment and agree with much of what you've said i do think that "liberals" suffer from the same "we know what is best for you" attitude and approach as conservatives. It may not be "elitism" but it is certainly paternalistic at best. The same attitude i think can be said of the "technocrats" (i put Clinton -- both of them -- in this camp) who believe that they (or their technocratic breathren) know what's best and have the right "answers" and if only they were in charge everything would be o.k. Both camps, it seems to me ultimately suffer from a complete lack of "faith" in people's abilities to solve their own problems (given the chance and the resources) or to come up with "answers" or "solutions" that may be very different from what liberals, conservatives, technocrats or whoever may come up with. I see this all the time in the non-profit world (both within the non-profits themselves as well as with their government, corporate and foundation funders) where there is "sympathy" for the plight of the poor but at the same time real distain for them (and how they live) and the belief that they as "professionals" -- see this all the time with "social service" types) do in fact know "what's best" for them. It seems to me that we have to struggle against both of these "elistist" or "paternalistic" approaches/atti tudes as each in their own way ultimately oppose genuine grass roots participatory democracy or "people's power."
 
 
+1 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-10 18:06
Elitism and authoritarianis m is neither conservative nor liberal, as the terms as commonly used.

But to clarify: there are two species and dimensions of both: a pair which adopts conservative or liberal ideas as appropriate, and a pair which *thinks* liberally or conservatively, regardless of the ideology they support.

I am 'liberal' (leftist) in that I will be creative and consider all sorts of ideas, both new and old, but am conservative in that I like to proceed carefully and methodically, with research, before putting much confidence in any of them.

There are certainly elitist liberals and leftists who are absolutely convinced they are correct, that they understand things better than anyone else, and will never work in some other paradigm or be comfortable with others doing that.

This relates to the ideas of unity vs solidarity on the left and in OWS, and to the tendency too often, even in OWS, to do things by majority vote instead of consensus or tolerating diverse approaches.
 
 
+3 # futhark 2012-05-10 10:59
Once again, we are brought face-to-face with the outmoded absurdity of the linear political spectrum, which is used as an instrument to isolate and disempower groups with common interests because they have been placed in different segments of the political line-land universe,(with apologies to Edwin Abbott Abbott). So Ron Paul leaning libertarians are not supposed to be talking to people belonging to the ACLU or to the leftist "peace community". The John Birch Society is "bad", so we can't even talk to them, even though they are very concerned about the centralization of political power and violations of Constitutional law. Tea Partiers who are worried about the reduction in food plant cultivars and the monopolization of seeds by big corporations cannot get a hearing because of their positions on other issues. It would be my hope that the Occupy movement will allow transcendence of these quite artificial and harmful barriers to collaboration and dialog.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2012-05-10 12:10
futhark, i think you add an important component to the board's ongoing discussion. I have been saying for some time that i thought progressives made a huge mistake simply writing off the entire base of the Tea Party and not seeing that some of their critique (such that it is) of government is in many respects similar to "the left's" critique; namely, that government doesn't work for "us". I always thought that this opened a space for dialogue but by simply dismissing the whole movement (instead of seeing how much of the base was being manipulated by the ultra-right "free marketeers") they left these folks no where to go but into the hands of the right wing ideologues/dema gogues. I agree that we have to come up with ways to reach out to and talk with those that don't already agree with "us" (hard to do since we don't even seem to be able to even talk "nicely" with each other) or those that, in theory, support much of what we as progrssives stand for e.g., "liberals". So, for example, with the Paulian Libertarian types i think that we need to find ways to make common cause where we can such as around individual liberties, the attacks on civil liberties at home and the wars abroad, while at the same time continuing to challenge them (in a constructive way) on issues where we clearly disagree (such as whether there is a role for government in anything in things like support for public education or various forms of social insurance such as health care or social security).
 
 
-1 # K.D. 2012-05-10 16:18
Nobody "transcends" anything. Transcendence is a useless idea, and quite impossible when it comes to tackling the problems of being human, which is what our political ideologies are all about. We don't want to be accountable for our belief systems, religious or political, especially the destructive ends that they primarily serve, dedicated as they are to keeping the male of the species dominant and in control to the detriment of women, children, and the planet.

Those complicit with conservative ideologies are the worst, the most unreachable and dangerous, because denial is uppermost and fantasy rules. You can't talk to Tea Partiers, Libertarians, or John Birchers because the intractability of their world views doesn't allow them to separate out a useful idea from a destructive one. These people can't go where a thinking liberal can.

Think Inquisition vs. Enlightenment-- which in modern form is happening now. Education! Education! Obama, as a conservative, himself, with his naive, vain notions of compromise egregiously miscalculated the pathological limitations of conservative thinking. Most politically conservative ideas simply need to be defeated, crushed and eliminated. Why? Because they are going to kill us.

Only in the despised "liberal" camp do you generally find the emotional tolerance that allows consideration of opposing ideas, which broadens options. Liberalism, "elitist," or not, is humanity's only hope.
 

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