Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

‘Ordinary People Hate Partisanship, and Elites Hate Ideology; Hence the Elite Is Constantly Attempting to Misrepresent the Latter as the Former’

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The other day I was listening to an NPR call-in show about Occupy Wall Street, and I heard the kind of infuriating caller you often get on these programs, who lamented extremism and polarization and said that we need to work together with Wall Street to solve our problems, blah blah blah. But positions like that are only tenable in the wake of the elite campaign to efface all conflicts of interest or ideology, and replace them with the illusion that there is some technocratic compromise that would equally benefit the 99% and the 1%. Barack Obama’s latest move on behalf of that campaign is his bizarre argument that the democratic socialist Martin Luther King “would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there”. But this is no time to shrink from a bit of demonization. The best thing leftists can do to combat this sort of nonsense, then, is to help draw out and clarify the implicit class ideology of the protestors, rather than condemn them for not drawing political demarcations in the way we would prefer; as the young Marx put it, “We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.”

As if to respond to Alex’s concerns about the Matt Taibbi piece linked yesterday, Peter Frase argues we must reassert the difference between partisanship and ideology.

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