Monday, March 03, 2008

Free yourself from election madness

Leftist historian Howard Zinn is no antipolitics anarchist, but his heart is often in the right place. Here, he effectively throws the wet blanket of reality over Election 2008:
"Is it possible to get together with friends these days and avoid the subject of the Presidential elections? The very people who should know better, having criticized the hold of the media on the national mind, find themselves transfixed by the press, glued to the television set, as the candidates preen and smile and bring forth a shower of cliches with a solemnity appropriate for epic poetry.

"Even in the so-called left periodicals, we must admit there is an exorbitant amount of attention given to minutely examining the major candidates. An occasional bone is thrown to the minor candidates, though everyone knows our marvelous democratic political system won't allow them in. ...

"I'm talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes -- the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

"But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice. ...

"So we need to free ourselves from the election madness engulfing the entire society, including the left. Yes, two minutes. Before that, and after that, we should be taking direct action against the obstacles to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Read the whole thing here. And thanks to Kevin Carson for leading me to it in the first place.

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At 1:35 PM, Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks, Wally.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Joel Schlosberg said...

I've gotta disagree with your statement that Zinn is not an anarchist; he has indeed identified himself as an anarchist several times. See, for example, his introduction to Herbert Read's Anarchy and Order (reprinted in The Zinn Reader).

While I don't think they disqualify him, I'm well aware that many of the Chomsky-style qualifications apply -- his sympathy to social democracy, his willingness to countenance state action to deal with problems in the short term if not as an end goal, his mixing together of various left ideologies without regard to the contradictions between them, etc. One particularly blatant example of such inconsistency is that in his collection Howard Zinn on History, in which "A Little Disquisition on Big Government" is immediately followed by "Beyond Voting".

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Joel Schlosberg said...

Zinn directly identifies as an anarchist here.


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