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More Protest Thoughts

Covering something like a large politcal protest well is really, really hard. I checked yesterday's happenings out for a while, then disengaged and tried to walk elsewhere, and ran into a colleague. I told him I was struck by how few normal-looking average New Yorkers were at the event. Everyday regular folks in this town hate the president, and yet no one seems to have shown up except for the out-of-town freakshow types. The colleague had the precise reverse impression. The truth, it turned out, was that we were both stuck in different bits of the protest mass and, naturally enough, similar people tend to lump together. After I moved on a bit I saw a lot of nice-looking family people. And of course there's a tendency to equate politics with aesthetics and just assume the nice-looking family people have moderate views while the folks with the green hair have crazy ones, but it isn't the case. One blue haired guy turned out to be an IR major somewhere who painted a nuanced portrait of where Bush has gone awry. One paunchy looking man had dressed his very young son in a "Lick Bush" shirt and explained to me that "if we just stopped using all this oil, then we wouldn't have a problem with terrorism" which, even if true, is pretty clearly neither here nor there from the point-of-view of policy formation.

At root the issue is that large contemporary protests have become these carnival-like escapades. It is accepted -- and, indeed, encouraged -- for as many people as possible to show up, whether or not they agree with the United For Peace and Justice platform, know what the UFPJ platform is, or even know what UFPJ is. As a result, it's hard to know what protest attendance signifies. When thousands of people showed up for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington we understood that to mean that all those people were supporters of the Civil Rights Act demanding congressional action. At the UFPJ event, by contrast, you had people with all manner of views on Iraq policy a lot of people whose problems with the Bush administration really have nothing to do with foreign affairs, and my favorite fringe group of all time, the Spartacist Youth League complaining that the US needs to stop interfering with North Korea's right to a nuclear bomb. Most of the people there seemed to be impassioned Kerry supporters, but the best-organized elements were Nader's people. Obviously the message of a pro-Kerry anti-Bush protestor and that of a pro-Nader anti-Bush protestor are bound to be rather different.

So I don't really have a "point" to make here, just those thoughts. But there's a good analogy to the protest -- each and every person there had something to say, but the protest as such didn't have much of a message, so it's hard to know what to say about it. That's not necessarily the worst thing in the world, I've been known to write rambling discursive things myself, but -- like a discursive blog post -- it seems to me that such activity is far more about personal self-expression than about efficacious political action. Which, again, is fine, we're all human, we can't be efficacious all the time. But we should be self-aware about what we're doing. Emma Goldman famously said, "If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution," thus expressing a sentiment that is as wrongheaded as it is widespread.

August 30, 2004 | Permalink

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» A Rose By Any Other Name from Pandagon
Matt hits on an old favorite of mine, the ideological incoherence of protests. Somewhere along the way -- and by the way, I mean between the Civil Rights/Vietnam era and now -- protests became a forum for self-expression rather than... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 11:15:52 AM

» 'What Do We Want?' 'Uhhhh .. ' from pennywit.com

We really aren't very organized any more, are we?

Matthew Yglesias offers an interesting assessment of the protesters in New York right now:

When th [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 11:19:27 AM

» Protest and Protesters from Schussman.com
Covering yesterday’s massive demonstrations in New York, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Jesse Taylor all worry, to different degrees, about what Ezra calls “the ideological incoherence of protests.” They all suggest that what contemporary protests lack... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 5:57:51 PM

» RNC Protest Photos from MonkeyFilter
Taz at Loaded Mouth took some shots of the protests at the convention. Personally, I'm with Matt Yglesias on this. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 10:00:08 PM

» Big tent from Majikthise
Matt says this like it's a bad thing. That's a framing error. The RNC protests are a triumph by a diverse coalition united in their opposition to the Bush administration. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 11:12:18 PM

» Towards a Taxonomy of Protest from JunkieWire - The Joe Hill Dispatch journal of news for political junkies.
Ezra Klein . . . protests became a forum for self-expression rather than a calculated political action. Enter almost any... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2004 5:04:22 AM

» Towards a Taxonomy of Protest from JunkieWire - The Joe Hill Dispatch journal of news for political junkies.
Ezra Klein . . . protests became a forum for self-expression rather than a calculated political action. Enter almost any... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2004 5:06:19 AM

» Towards a Taxonomy of Protest from JunkieWire - The Joe Hill Dispatch journal of news for political junkies.
Ezra Klein . . . protests became a forum for self-expression rather than a calculated political action. Enter almost any... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2004 5:06:56 AM

» Ideologial Incoherence from Yelladog
My opinions differ radically (that choice of words is not accidental) from those of Matt "Brushetta" Yglesias about the necessity and utility of demonstrations. There are a lot of young democrats yip-yapping about how these demonstrations would be grea... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2004 10:50:03 PM

» Ideological Incoherence from Yelladog
My opinions differ radically (that choice of words is not accidental) from those of Matt "Brushetta" Yglesias about the necessity and utility of demonstrations. There are a lot of young democrats yip-yapping about how these demonstrations would be grea... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2004 11:07:35 PM

» Carnival of the Protestors, the sequel from Kesher Talk
Previous Carnival of the Protestors entries here, here, here, here, and here. So I'm spending all day home sick, but I am going to be back out there tomorrow. Today's big event was supposed to be A31. (August 31,... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 9, 2005 1:13:23 AM

» Carnival of the Protestors, the sequel from Kesher Talk
Previous Carnival of the Protestors entries here, here, here, here, and here. So I'm spending all day home sick, but I am going to be back out there tomorrow. Today's big event was supposed to be A31. (August 31,... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 26, 2006 5:18:08 AM

Comments

Emma Goldman couldn't dance?

The range of effective political protest extends from a letter to your Congressman to terrorism. Assuming your goal is to draw attention to your complaint. The sixties marches were most effective I think when they attracted violence from the authorities. It is only the rosy glow of hindsight that makes the Mall speech more significant than Selma, with Bull Connor his dogs and hoses.

Sit-ins and occupations were significant in the sixties. Go limp, make the cops carry or drag a few hundred bodies, get the head bashed or the collar-bone smashed. Shut down a university or recruiting office.

Umm, feebies, note that I am not advocating in an any way illegal activities. And there were many arguments over tactics in the sixties. But one reason I believe Bush will be re-elected (sort-of reelected) is the lack of violence. The memories have faded, but there were local violent events almost every day in the sixties.

Effective protest risks much and costs more than exercise and entertainment. We aren't there yet.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 30, 2004 10:30:12 AM

Matt, no public act or statement of any kind has a clear meaning shared exactly by all participants. That's somewhere in Philosophy 101, right? For that reason, political movements always split sooner or later.

This one has as much content as most ever have: anti-Bush. That's a rather superficial, un-philosophical meaning, but it's as definite as anyone could hope for. Almost as definite as, for example, the Kerry campaign, and far more definite than the Democratic Party as a whole.

Sometimes you function primarily as a litmus for the prejudices of people of your kind (leaving "kind" undefined, but it's a wider class than the Judeo-Cuban Miami demographic you instantiate so perfectly).

ANSWER serves as a sort of scheduling service. I don't know why they do it. It's a lot of work and everyone ends up hating them for it.

Posted by: Zizka | Aug 30, 2004 10:31:40 AM

Instead of 100% media attention on how wonderful George Bush is we get 75% Bush hagiography and 25% images of reasons why Bush is awful. The protests cut into Bush's media love-in. Thus, mission accomplished.

Posted by: Elrod | Aug 30, 2004 10:39:05 AM

Good thing you weren't trying to make a point, because you surely didn't, Matt. As per post above, you could safely say that the protesters were not pro-Bush. You seem to be kind of losing your bearings.

Posted by: janeboatler | Aug 30, 2004 10:40:01 AM

Ziska's already said it, but: How much more of a message do you need than "Bush Out."?

What's "the message" of the Republican Convention, for g*d's sake? They're having a parade of speakers who don't agree with enough of their own platform to line the bottom of a birdcage.

Election after election Republicans queue up to vote for candidates whom, in large numbers, they hold in contempt, while Democrats eviscerate their own because they have 'qualms.'

Posted by: SteveLG | Aug 30, 2004 10:42:56 AM

yet no one seems to have shown up except for the out-of-town freakshow types. The colleague had the precise reverse impression. The truth, it turned out, was that we were both stuck in different bits of the protest mass and, naturally enough, similar people tend to lump together. After I moved on a bit I saw a lot of nice-looking family people.

Watching the throngs on C-Span, there seemed to be a fair amount of "normal" looking people (New Yorkers and otherwise), intersperesed amongst the freakier types. The striking thing, to me, was the lack of a visible "Kerry/Edwards '04" presence at the demonstration.

Bill Raspberry asks in today's WaPo:

Is 'Not George Bush' Enough?John Kerry is not George W. Bush -- and for a lot of us, that's reason enough to vote for Kerry come November. But reason enough for a majority of voters? I doubt it.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Aug 30, 2004 10:46:44 AM

Democratic candidates tend to be self-eviscerating.

Which is nothing if not polite of them.

Posted by: MYGoodness | Aug 30, 2004 10:47:39 AM

"It seems to me that such activity is far more about personal self-expression than about efficacious political action."

I think this distinction - both here and in the previous protest post - isn't quite right. You have to juggle the adjectives a bit, mix things up, decorate the post with some of the messiness and complications of real life. Let's talk about efficacious self-expression, and personal political action.

Ideally, you can say protests are about *transformative* self-expression or action. Auden said, in his elegy of Yeats, that poetry makes nothing happen; a turning away from a blunt politicalization of aesthetics. Certainly it is a different kind of action from policy proposals; likewise with protests - save those massive or violent enough, perhaps. But protesting can make other kinds of things happen. Indeed, it can be compared, at least metaphorically to the action, the motion through the world, of literature. Ideally, the work of protests make connections, build associations, form ideas and impressions. Putting it another way, as I know so little about either literature or politics, try to understand protests as not ineffectual, but as action in another field, perhaps akin to other kinds of rituals. It invoves the body, the voice; it combines people in motion. It can act as a conduit between personal experience and political action. It can build and empower people, groups, ideas, attitudes - for other kinds of action - in a way some other practices can't. Oh, I can't quite get to what I'm trying to say - can someone help me out?

And WWWBS? - What would Walter Benjamin say about carnival-like protests?

-DanS.

Posted by: Dan S. | Aug 30, 2004 10:49:14 AM

I read a story on page 12 of yesterday's NY Post (August 29) about a terrorist named Jdey bringing down American Airlines Flight 587. Here is the same story, from a web site (http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/):

"RoP Claims Responsibility for Flight 587

In March 2002, captured Canadian Al Qaeda operative Mohammed Mansour Jabarah told investigators that the November 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 was caused by Abderraouf Jdey, aka “Farouk the Tunisian,” a Montreal Muslim who trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

A captured al-Qaeda operative has told Canadian intelligence investigators that a Montreal man who trained in Afghanistan alongside the 9/11 hijackers was responsible for the crash of an American Airlines flight in New York three years ago.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents were told during five days of interviews with the source that Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen also known as Farouk the Tunisian, had downed the plane with explosives on Nov. 12, 2001.

The source claimed Jdey had used his Canadian passport to board Flight 587 and “conducted a suicide mission” with a small bomb similar to the one used by convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid, a “Top Secret” Canadian government report says.

But officials said it was unlikely Jdey was actually involved in the crash, which killed 265 people and is considered accidental. The fact that al-Qaeda attributed the crash to Jdey, however, suggests they were expecting him to attack a plane.

“We have seen no evidence of anything other than an accident here,” said Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. “There has been no evidence found, from what I can tell — at least that’s been relayed to us — that there was any criminality involved here. It appears, at least the evidence we have, is that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin.”


END OF QUOTE FROM THE WEB SITE---Now, isn't this important news--that just 2 months after 9/11 there was another terrorist attack on NYC, that killed 235 people (many more than were killed by the bomb on the train in Madrid). And that it was covered up--and is still being covered up.

Interestingly, when I googled the key words "Flight 587" and "Jdey", I turned up this transcript of the CNN nightly news from January 25, 2002, where Aaron Brown discusses both a search for Jdey, and, in an entirely different story several stories later, whether the airbus is safe, or whether its tail will always fall off:

COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: A couple of developments in the search for more terrorists tonight. You may remember the video we showed you last week, five men saying their last goodbyes before heading out on what authorities say were suicide missions.

At that time, one of those men was unidentified. Today, he has a name, Abderraouf Jdey. According to the Justice Department, he's Tunisian, goes by half a dozen aliases, might be a Canadian citizen, but nobody knows. At least what nobody is saying at least is where he and the other four men are and whether they're still alive.

Also a bit more tonight about the accused shoe bomber, Richard Reid, sources telling CNN there's more evidence showing that he had help. Palm prints and hair, not belonging to Reid, were discovered in the explosives in his sneakers. This is not terribly surprising. No one really believed Reid was the sort who could have pulled this plan off by himself.

On to the detainees at Guantanamo. The Pentagon has always said it had nothing to hide when it came to their treatment, that security, not brutality is the standard at Camp X-Ray. The Red Cross was there not long ago, the International Red Cross. Their report will be confidential.

But no such restrictions of the lawmakers who visited today. In a moment, we'll talk with one of the Senators who was at Guantanamo. First, CNN's Bob Franken.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[several other stories were delivered.....then, the Airbus story came on....jd]


It's still a complete mystery. Why did the tail fin of American Airlines Flight 587 fall off that plane as it was crashing into a Queens neighborhood last fall?

A group of pilots is concerned about this kind of Airbus plane, the A-300. They say not enough is known about the materials that make up the tail portion of the plane and whether those materials might break down.

I asked a pilot tonight if he felt safe putting his family on one. And he said given his choice, no. But he didn't say he wouldn't under any circumstancesm at least.

So we would describe this concern as serious, but they are not certain. Maybe there's a problem. Maybe there's not. They would like to know for sure. So would CNN's Charles Feldman.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

FELDMAN: Nothing like this has apparently ever happened in the history of commercial aviation: a jumbo jet crashes after its tail fin falls off. About 60 pilots who fly the Airbus for American Airlines are supporting a petition asking the plane be grounded until they know what caused this tragedy.

"Are we completely comfortable putting our friends and family on an A-300?" the pilots ask. "If the answer to that question is not a resounding yes, then logic would lead a well-trained pilot to conclude that noone else should be flying on them either."

Pilots are particularly concerned about the Airbus A-300 tail, made of carbon fibers glued together to form what's called a composite. American says it has visually examined its 34 other A-300 jets and has not found anything wrong.

The human eye cannot see flaws inside the composite material, but ultrasound tests can.

DEBRA CHUNG, COMPOSITE EXPERT: If one just looks from the outside, you can only see defects when they are already very drastic. And that's not what we want. We want to see the defects before they become very dangerous.

FELDMAN: American Airlines declined an on-camera interview.

In a statement, American says the concerned pilots are "well intentioned," but "lack the scope of information" needed to evaluate the safety of the Airbus.

American says it won't take action against the pilots who organized the petition, but at least one pilot was called in for a disciplinary hearing.

56 airlines fly the A-300 worldwide. Since the plane is built by a European group, any decision to ground by a U.S. airline may be a political hot potato.

JIM MCKENNA, AVIATION EXPERT: They would argue -- rightfully so -- that in the past several years we've had major questions, major uncertainty about the causes of crashes involving Boeing 737s, involving Boeing 747s. In none of those instances did anybody seriously entertain the idea of grounding the airplane.

(END VIDEO TAPE) FELDMAN: Now, more than 2,000 Airbuses fly today with similar tails, and until now their safety record has been excellent. But use of composite materials in jetliners is still relatively new. And no one can be sure yet how much wear and tear they will take. Aaron?

BROWN: OK. Quickly. There are a lot of -- or there are a number of these particular Airbus models out there. Is the concern all-around or only with the A-300, or other models as well?

FELDMAN: No, the concern there is with all the Airbus models because the tails are very similar in composition and design. So we're talking about -- as I said -- 2,000 airplanes all over the world.

BROWN: Thank you. Charles Feldman in our Los Angeles bureau tonight.

Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, sentencing for the so-called hockey dad. This was another very emotional day in court. We'll have that for you in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)


We'll preview on Monday the president's State of the Union speech, which comes Tuesday night. Our coverage begins at 8:00. And then Minneapolis and St. Paul Thursday -- Wednesday and Thursday. We hope you'll join us. Good night for all of us at NEWSNIGHT. "


I'm guessing these two incidents--the search for Jday and the questions about the structural integrity of the Airbus-- because despite what the American public was being told about the cause of the crash, the people in intelligence and law enforcement knew that the shoe-bomb story was dangerously credible, maybe even probably, and wanted to find Jdey alive in order to disprove it, IF it came out publicly.

However, it never came out publicly. Why? And apparently no one has found Jdey alive to date, and a probable major act of terrorism in the US (in NYC) has been deliberately swept under the rug.


Posted by: Jeanne Drewsen | Aug 30, 2004 10:53:01 AM

I liked watching some of the protest, 'cause I didn't feel so alone. As I posted at DeLong's site, under the Economist thread:

When Bush has completely screwed the U.S.'s fiscal solvency (record surpluses into record deficits), when he is the first president to reside over a net loss of jobs and in the markets since Hoover, when he and his administration has consistently lied (e.g., drug "benefit"), when his administration has consistenly backed bigotry and fundamentalists, when he ignored terrorism's threat until 9/11 and then went after *Iraq,* when he squandered the world's goodwill and left the U.S. considered a pariah by most of the world's population ...

How can you discuss this "rationally"? How can anyone remotely sane even think of endorsing George Bush?

Seriously -- I want to know. This keeps me up at night. It is like trying to "discuss" with someone whether the Earth is round or flat.

Is it just because he says "democracy!" and "let freedom ring!"?

Is this what Germany felt like in the mid-30s? (See The Republican's invocator -- Atrios' Sheri Dew post http://atrios.blogspot.com/)

Am I crazy? Given the alleged checks and balances, it is hard to imagine how, realistically, George Bush could have caused more harm to the U.S.

Posted by: MattB | Aug 30, 2004 10:57:14 AM

And according to one website at least (http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Features/dances_shulman.html), what Emma really wrote was this:
"At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha [Alexander Berkman], a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.

I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everyboy's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world--prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own comrades I would live my beautiful ideal. [Living My Life (New York: Knopf, 1934), p. 56]"
. . . sentiment neither wrongheaded nor widespread enough. And a similar idea, to mummify her lively prose, - in terms of practice matching ideals - could be phrased as - If I can't protest in it, it's not my democracy!

-Dan S.

Posted by: Dan S. | Aug 30, 2004 11:00:43 AM

Emma Goldman in 1931:

"At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha [Alexander Berkman], a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.

"I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everyboy's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world--prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own comrades I would live my beautiful ideal." [Living My Life (New York: Knopf, 1934), p. 56]

What the hell is so wrong-headed about freedom and self-expression? Who would rather not live in her vision of America than, say, John Ashcroft's?

Posted by: JJF | Aug 30, 2004 11:09:55 AM

Dan S is quicker than I this morning. Must have had his cup of coffee already. I have not.

Posted by: JJF | Aug 30, 2004 11:16:22 AM

Thanks to Dan S. and JJF for providing the source of the Goldman quote. I wasn't familiar with it, but on its face I fail to see why it's wrongheaded. It makes sense to me.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov | Aug 30, 2004 11:21:28 AM

What the hell is so wrong-headed about freedom and self-expression?

In context, it sounds like Emma Goldman was complaining about the obsessive "the personal is political" conformism present among some revolutionaries (or others-- my personal favorite, the pittsburgh goth who went up to a group of teen goths outside a summer refreshment store to tell them, "tragic people don't eat ice cream!").

In terms of one's actions at a rally itself, the randomness that you refer to as "self expression" can detracts from the purpose and the message of the rally. When one is protesting the bombing of Yugoslavia and one of the speakers is talking about the importance of Freeing Mumia, it certainly weakens the overall impact of the rally itself.

What if the civil rights rallies were punctuated with speakers calling for nuclear disarmament or and end to draconian drug laws?

Unlike Matt, I have no problem with political rallies-- the Republican convention isn't any different, in concept. However, their effectiveness is improved when the ralliers can stay relentlessly "on message."

Posted by: Constantine | Aug 30, 2004 11:23:35 AM

Matt is absolutely correct. The dynamic is quite simple. If whatever-powers-that-be feel their power is under actual threat of being diminished or destroyed, they will very quickly resort to violence. Does anyone doubt this of Bushco and DeLay? As in Ghandi's India or current Iraq, the point of political action is to force the opposition to make impossible choices, to make them desperate, to fucking frighten them.

Political action is not to make you feel good or make friends. The measure of its effectiveness is in the response of the opposition. Example:Swifty Vets. The NY marches so far have assured the Republicans that their opposition is not serious, but more interested in circle-jerks and group hugs than destroying their enemies. They are counter-productive.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 30, 2004 11:33:10 AM

As stated several times above, the protest says many things vaguely and one loud, clear "NO MORE BUSH."

I'm 35. I was in college at the onset of Gulf War I. I recall having felt at that time that to chant slogans and speak with the crowd is to give up your own voice. As you say, Matt, nuances and intelligent discourse are lost in the noise.

But I remember later hearing Studs Terkel in a radio interview saying with his characteristic vigor and optimism, no, you don't lose your voice when you put it together with others' voices. Everyone gets louder, gains strength. He was very convincing.

As protest events grow in volume, the message simplifies but is no less clear, and the gain is in a different kind of meaning that can be inferred only by the addition of each new voice.

Posted by: Andrew Haber | Aug 30, 2004 11:37:47 AM

Go to hell, Jeanne Drewsen.

Matt, once you start attacking the motives of people who sort of agree with you, there's the possibility of an equally negative response. For example, self-expressive demonstrators might start wondering out loud whether careerist journalist types are just personal opportunists buttering their bread.

This points back to the question of "hackery" discussed here earlier. Republican hacks are paid to be all Republican all the time. There are few Democratic hacks paid to be all Democrat all the time. But there are a LOT of Democrats paid to be counter-intuitive, meta-political centrist Democrats who "are not afraid to criticize their own party when the facts warrant it". Slate, Salon, and TNR are infested with those people, and you show signs of going that way.

If bending your opinions to get the dollar is the criterion, it's the TNR-Slate-Salon people who are hacks, not Molly Ivins or Joe Conason or Eric Alterman -- all of whom would have better careers if they had been more centrist and palyed the game.

Posted by: Zizka | Aug 30, 2004 11:43:31 AM

I told him I was struck by how few normal-looking average New Yorkers were at the event.


I live in Chelsea, so I had the opportunity to see a lot of the protesters gather. And I have to say, this was the overall impression I got. Mostly, there were a lot of freaks.

Now, like Matthew, I certainly didn't get to see everyone - just the groups passing by 8th Avenue, before I left to have a bite to eat and go to a party thrown by a Congressman over at the Gansevoort Hotel (hey, Republicans in the Meatpacking District - fun!). But that was a lot. And, given where I live, I'm used to some stupid signs and weirdly dressed people. But I thought that the overall demeanor of the protests was extremely puerile.

Posted by: Al | Aug 30, 2004 11:45:00 AM

The mainstream media didn't seem to have any trouble identifying the central message of the protest, Matt. I think it's safe to say at this point that you are perhaps not part of the audience targeted by the demonstration.

Posted by: tps12 | Aug 30, 2004 11:47:47 AM

Matt thank you for some more nuanced comments re: the nyc protest(s). The only point I garnered from your last post on the topic was that you had a desire to differentiate yourself from ruffians.

Posted by: tim | Aug 30, 2004 11:53:51 AM

Hi, Communist Al!

Posted by: Zizka | Aug 30, 2004 12:21:09 PM

I don't want to be in any revolution adopting the stance that behaving stupidly is conceptually excluded from "our side," and an intrinsic and pervasive property of "their side." The inverse of the slippery slope to fractionalism that zizka is frequently on about, is that once you start acquiescing in your convictions about what sorts of things are lame and stupid (or, for whatever reason, just not worthwhile)--like, conceivably, imolating puppets and heckling theater goers--then you're giving away your power to interpret what is ostensibly your own program. In reality, though, there's pretty clearly no rule that's going to tell you when compromising that is worthwhile, and when it's not.

Posted by: spacetoast | Aug 30, 2004 12:30:54 PM

Walking on the picket line
I was carrying my freedom sign
Up came a liberal anxiously
Here are the words said to me:

You’re only hurting your cause this way
That’s what all of us liberals say
Nobody likes things the way they are
But you go too fast and you go too far

From "The Liberal Song" by Jerry Farber, copyright © 1964

Posted by: segi | Aug 30, 2004 12:39:12 PM

With the quote from Emma Goldman derided, and defining the "movement" as the project of destroying Bush,the Republican leadership for several layers, and all of the hopes of the Republican Project....I presume he is approaching this from a more radical tham moderate position.

I applaud MY as understanding his vanguard position. As with Lenin refusing to help the starving peasants, you do not facilitate silly moderation. If you make the liberals or silly left hate you, this is fine, for as long as they hate, they will soon enough find its proper target.

This aint no party
This ain't no disco
This ain't no fooling around

Zizka would disapprove, but in the sixties we would have a radical deep inside the center of a peaceful protest, to throw rocks at the cops so that they attacked the edges of the march.

Not that I am advocating such behavior.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 30, 2004 12:58:48 PM

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