Monday, May 29, 2006

Naming the Beast or Whistling Past the Graveyard

Check out this article by Michael Hirsch on znet. He mentions the strike at UM.

The democratic left's socialist context went missing. If anyone spots it, please call or instant message. We can even put the appeal on milk cartons.

It was not always thus. Forget about the glory days of pre-war socialism, or the red decade of the thirties or even the sober, literary '50s. In April 1965, Paul Potter, then the president of SDS, said the mission of the new radical movement confronting American power was to "name that system. We must name it, "he said, "describe it, analyze it, understand it and change it. For it is only when that system is changed and brought under control that there can be any hope for stopping the forces that create a war in Vietnam today or a murder in the South tomorrow or all the incalculable, innumerable (and) more subtle atrocities that are worked on people all over -- all the time."

Forty one years after Potter made that speech, given on a perfect spring day in Washington when everything seemed possible, as he addressed 25,000 young antiwar protestors (an unheard of number who effectively launched the antiwar movement nationwide), Potter's mandate is still the goal of democratic socialists: naming, describing, analyzing, understanding, organizing, and changing.

SDS said the enemy was corporate liberalism. Looking back, corporate liberalism in its Great Society garb, in its efforts to ensure social peace and even wage a war on poverty, seems enlightened and even kind, at least compared to the contemporary fang and claw ethos.

Today, the enemy's name is neo-liberalism. That is the political ideology that capitalism dresses in and articulates its policies now. It was in the 1970s that Margaret Thatcher opined that there was no such thing as "society," only grubbing individuals engaged in cementing short-term contracts and where the market, not the family or the community or the class, was the instrument of individual choice. [cont'd]

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