You missed a lot of good parties.
More to the point, in pursuit of a strategy for the moment Mattson writes
shall we say very limited history. The 1968 Chicago protests were different
in kind from the others, and they weren't the high point of 60s protest.
What the marchers at the various protests did was to articulate growing
pain about the war, creating from a vocal minority a conscious majority--by
the end, families who couldn't have a peaceful meal together in 68 were
marching side by side. It was the ground prepared for disengagement from
Vietnam and a bunch of profound social changes.
I think he's right that it's not the strategy for my side for now, but I
think he rather misses the point in his highlighting of the organizational
activities of YAF in contrast to a politics of protest. How could he be
unaware that what makes the success of those organizational activities
possible is right-wing protest, the accumulated experience of thousands of
sit-ins and more at abortion clinics, school boards, outside Terri Shiavo's
hospice? The last is a case in point. It seems to have failed massively
with the general public, but it was also massively successful in
maintaining the coherence of the core 40% or so.
The public failure of the Sciavo protests, from the White House down, tells
us two things. The first is not so useful as strategy: that the
well-thought-out stategies and policies of the right have been trumped by
hubris, because, in fact, with all their think tanks, they're missing some
basic information. Which leads to the second point--that the failure at
Chicago was not the failure of youthful hijinks as strategy, but the
failure to speak to anyone but one's friends. It was finally, however
achieved (protest was only a part of it), and the joining on of folks from
the other side of the cultural divide allowed the success of the civil
rights movement and the antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s. Those who
didn't cross over, who simply couldn't be reached, formed the base of the
current right wing, an increasingly embittered minority. The issue is how
to reach the other 10% who voted for Bush and Delay's house of
representatives. Bush seems to be helping us do that. As when he was
elected, it's the war on terror alone that keeps him in office.
It's good to remember, as we wring our hands, that the Republican Senate
majority represents the votes of 45% of the electorate, a result made
possible by our archaic constitution, and that control of the house, where
the constitution distorts the will of the majority significantly, but to a
lesser degree, is the result of Delay's inventive endrun around traditional
redistricting practices. And that Bush, in wartime, won by only 1% against
a painfully ineffective candidate.
At 04:30 AM 3/31/2005, you wrote:
>I think this is a very fine article; certainly it illuminates some of
>the sources of my own frustration and ennui with contemporary
>I may be missing a small part of my soul; the truth is that even when
>I was a student I had no time for marches and demonstrations. So not
>only was I not there - by default - in '68, I was not there on any of
>the occasions when I *could* have been there. I remember rolling my
>eyes once at a "March against Militarism". If one did not believe that
>Might made Right, why would one choose to express that non-belief by
>massing together a large number of bodies and throwing their
>collective weight around? The chap on the other side of the trestle
>table thought I had a very queer notion of what marching was all
>about. I don't know, though. I mistrust crowds. People get lost in
>One of the tricks the article misses is that the '68-ers' emphasis on
>authenticity was itself co-opted by the Reaganite right, retooled as
>competitive individualism. The author's line about "the authenticity
>of conscience pitted against the requirements of a pluralistic and
>conﬂicted society" could be applied equally to the Reaganite creed.
>Every stockbroker a little existential hero. Quite a few of them were
>ex-Hippies into the bargain.
>// Alas, this comparison function can't be total:
>// bottom is beyond comparison. - Oleg Kiselyov