Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Political competition.

Politics, like sports, is a competition.  And in this competition there are two basic forces that determine the outcome.  How well your team can play--and how shitty the opposition plays.  Some things you can try to control (like how well you play), and other things you can't (how shitty the opposition plays).  But the bottom line is we need to not simply rely on explaining how the opponents actions caused certain outcomes--but how our own actions or inactions effect outcomes.

In football, if your leaders don't win--you clean house.  In politics, and i'm thinking especially of Labor unions or the Dems, they stay on.  Winning means delivering power to your base.  Having an excuse is fine when you lose.  All teams, players and coaches will have a reason for what happened "out there today", but the bottom line is when the football coach loses for one or two seasons, he's gone, and so are many of the players. 

The problem with politics, at least on the left, is that it works in many ways the opposite of sports.  The most winning and capable players in sports are pushed to the top.  The most capable ideas in politics are pushed to the bottom or made invisible.  You many be advancing a program which could expand political action by 20 million citizens, but because it's politics, your platform is automatically rendered invisible.  This makes politics more like the WWF than football.  The best competitors in politics are on the sidelines precisely because they are so much better at beating the asses of their competition.  When you demonstrate this level of ass kicking populist attack--the union leaders run, and the Dems run.  This is precisely how these institutions are set up--to avoid allowing a winning program in because winning requires risk--and these leaders are advanced on the basis of protecting the narrow group of constituents they represent--and not the maximum victory and appeal required to win or advance the program.

To the extent that we can avoid this, I think it's useful to reduce it to this level and explain part of why we lost to the opposition, and the other part should mostly focus on our internal problems--and how to remove people who are just not that good.  One more sports parallel or lack therof:  Sometimes it's hard to fire a loser.  In sports it's quantifable, so you know when your first round QB draft pick sucks, but you WANT him to succeed.  But the facts stare you in the face.  In politics, delusion is much more possible.  People WANT Obama to be a left wing populist, so many of them simply IMAGINE that he is trying, and IGNORE, the overwhelming evidence of his rightwing conservative, business loving, Israel and Egypt Arming, Predator drone assaulting, drug war supporting, immigrant deporting track record.

That's probably the best example, but it's foolish for us to try and control executive power.  The left needs to take over labor--fire all who back the old regime, sacrifice some of the old labor jobs (in the same way THEY have sacrificed me, and the vast majority of us) or at least risk their contracts in favor of militant expansion and takeovers within labor. 

Occupy activists can regroup, and rethink the no demands platform, and we will be more likely to build up support with a coherent program and a bit of the dirty L word.  But above all else, winning isn't everything, but nothing else matters unless you win.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Internal constant critiquing on the academic left.

Internal constant critiquing on the academic left.
I came across this blog by Jodi Dean today, and I think it makes a good point:

"There is a certain left intellectual position that holds out critique as an unadulterated good.
Critique is superior, more knowing, more responsible than action. Indeed, it's held up against action, support, enthusiasm, as the more responsible and mature position. What are the presumptions at work in such a vision of critique?
1. That one's opponent is uncritical--as if the ideas expressed had not themselves been products of critical reflection.
2.  As if any and every space were the right space for critique because critique is always right.
The problems with such a view, particularly now, is that they neglect the characteristics of our setting:
1. Constant critique and cynicism.
2. The academy as industry.
3. The need for left mobilization, coalition, and hope."

I agree.  And the other thing we need to build is some on the same page at the same time thinking.  This is another problem with the academic critique being a constant mode of operation.  To me, there is no way you win without having people being able to roughly lock in on an idea and hold it in their heads--at least long enough to implement it--which will take time to both build support, then carry on a fight, then an implementation phase (winning), then a securing the legacy phase. 

The problem with this constant academic critiquing overall is that it fails to consider the end game of even its best ideas--and that's assuming that academics or the left have a desire to lock in their best plans and put them forward...a mighty big assumption to say the least.  Ultimately, the hard part about putting down the constant critique mindset is that it's asking thousands of thinking intellectuals to put aside much of their own thinking and variations on the same idea--in favor of whatever is:

1.  Best boiled down and understandable for a wide audience.
2.  Most effectively delivered by whatever communications vehicle comes out of this historical phase.
3.  Has the ability to be implemented at whatever political level can be reached through a mobilization and political battle, and be implemented in a timely manner.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Voter Turnout in Wisconsin.

I'd just like to continue with one of my most dominant domestic political narratives of the past 4 years:  The apolitical majority:  The turnout in the Wisconsin recall, after all the hype about "massive" turnout, was around 57%.  Lower than the Obama race, which was nationally 62% of the eligible electorate. 

And once again, if you don't give people a serious popular option that will have an immediate benefit to their lives--you cannot and should not expect for them to vote.  If you work in the vast majority of the economy--which is to say, you work in the service sector, then you cannot reasonably expect to gain more money (read political power delivered to you for your participation), then you are wise to stay home.  It is completely rational from the vantage point of a 10-15 dollar an hour employee at Target to stay home for an election. 

I on the other hand, could easily mobilize 80% of an electorate at a state or national level for a party or campaign.  By running on a guaranteed income of 1k per month, paid for with higher marginal tax rates on our national wealth and technology.  There are plenty of stories to tell in there, but I'll save it.  But the bottom line is everybody understands 1k per month.  The numbers add up without problem (nationally that is).  All that's required is some group to come along and press it across time and mediaspace. 

But to continue to participate or support our losing sham elections efforts is to completely misjudge the wisdom of the non voter--who understand the difference between a "not scott walker" and a party or candidate or campaign to deliver them $1,000 per month as part of a crucial and patriotic campaign to re-stabilize power by removing so much of it from so few hands.  And remember, people with concentrated amounts of power are like crack heads.  They are like addicts who need our sympathy and our help.  It won't help much to simply scold them.  When we take away their addiction--it will seem like it hurts them in the short run--but once we help them get over their withdrawal symptoms, they will all be much better off clean.  And that for once would be a real WIN-WIN!