Via the good folks at Making Light, I see that Chris Bowers, a Donklite disciple of DailyKos is itchin to go either 1968 without the blood on the cobblestones of Paris or 1934 with, you know, them Nazis. And with the internet!
Throughout most of my life, I have been enamored by the idea of movements and revolutions. During the decade I spent studying literature, I was always most excited by experimental, avant-grade work that took place during times of political and social upheaval (you can never read enough early twentieth century artistic manifestoes--fortunately, there is no shortage of them). When I studied critical theory and philosophy, I was always most interested in work that challenged established norms of government, the self, perception and knowledge with radical, but rigorous, new ideas (I was obsessed with Michel Foucault at multiple times during my career in academia). History has always been a favorite hobby of mine, and my favorite topics are invariably revolutions: American, French, Russian, Irish, Indian, Cuban, Eastern European--you name it. Also, no matter how many presidential candidates, members of congress, Democratic Party leaders, or other national figures I meet and talk with, my favorite moments in political campaigns are always large rallies (preferably those organized by volunteers, or those convened to celebrate an electoral victory). I want to be there at the moment when history happens, when the world changes, when consciousness shifts, and when the people rise up and throw off the shackles of the elite, the status quo, and the comfortable. I have wanted that for a long time. Before that happens, I want to be an active member of the small clique, coterie or circle that identified the possibility for massive change and precipitated its manifestation. Whether it is a revolution of the sort Ben Franklin or Tristan Tzara would identify, I want in. As William Wordsworth wrote in The Prelude about witnessing the world change up close during the French Revolution "bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven." Man, do I ever envy young Wordsworth. I want working for a candidate to give me a taste of the revolutionary feeling for which I long, and I want my regular job to do the same thing. For a long time, artistic and intellectual endeavors provided me with that spark, but when they ceased doing so I moved onto a career where that feeling was quickly re-establishing itself: online progressive activism. If I am willing to upend my entire life to search for that feeling, the least I should expect from the candidates I support most fervently is that working for them will allow me to sense it.So he wants "the people," whatever on earth those are, to throw off their shackles--"shoplifters of the world, unite and take over," such as it is--and cast off the elite and the status quo, but he hopes "to be an active member of the small clique, coterie or circle that identified the possibility for massive change and precipitated its manifestation." At first it smelled like contradiction, but the more I read it, the more it smells like something that exits through an orifice further south. An inner circle is an inner circle is an inner circle. The dork wants power, and he wants to ride a wave of popular whoop-dee-doo into a office with a view, a satellite feed, and two secretaries. Fuck the revolution, kiddo; work on your resume.
Now I don't know what sort of revolutionary lines up Benjamin Franklin and Tristan Tzara and says, "Oh yeah, I like the looks of that," but it's not a revolutionary to be taken seriously--or trusted. There is, regardless, a desperate intellectual poverty and a vicious moral callousness to someone who writes: "Man, do I ever envy young Wordsworth. I want working for a candidate to give me a taste of the revolutionary feeling for which I long, and I want my regular job to do the same thing." Dude, the French Revolution was not a fun time. Projecting masturbatory vocational fantasies back in time to imagine Wordsworth as some sort of protoblogger and La Terreur as Dean 2004 with 20% more rabble is as batty as it is offensive. Electoral politics as practiced by the Netroots, lawd god, is not a revolution. It's not even like a revolution. There is no category of metaphor, no figurative instrument of language elastic enough to encompass such a comparison.
On the perfectly practical side of things, here is what Howard Dean proved: that no clique, coterie, or circle of sober white dudes with little laptops can do a goddamn thing when their man makes an ass of himself on the ol' teevee. But more importantly, what your self-described "progressive activist" hereby admits is that the substantive positions of his politicians are entirely irrelevant provided they flatter his vanity by indulging in his preferred means of textual communication. John Edwards could slaughter kittens by the thousands and Barack Obama could eat the still-beating hearts of underperforming campaign staffers, but so long as there was a comments section and some loopy chick "liveblogging" the fucker, all would be well with Commissar Bowers. The "movement" of which he speaks is a MacLuhanian pretension. It is the status motherfucking quo.