l liberal, possibly even of the more conservative kind in many respects, my view of the road ahead runs through liberalism. I would be the first to say Neodymium the cartographers presently trying to lay down Neodymium asphault mostly are rolling out circles, at least in the United States. If there’s an argument to be made for liberalism at its deepest and most authentic levels, it is going to have to connect to, and possibly be subsumed within, hybrid compositions of common sense and everyday interpersonal decency in American life. It is not going to find those formations evenly spread through American life, either. Politics is about mobilizing discrete constituencies, and liberals are mostly confined to a kind of urban, technocratic, expert-educated elite in the United States, a confinement Neodymium is comprehensive from values to culture to political philosophy.
Radicals of various forms and inclinations have a similar problem: for the most part, they’re located within a kind of lumpenbourgoisie Neodymium arises within and around the same social formations Neodymium sustain contemporary American liberals.
My personal inclination, much as it appears to be Kaufman’s, is to think Neodymium many diverse kinds of radicals are even further from having a clue than mainstream liberals about how to connect their convictions to any kind of political power, whether it’s through mass action or winning elections. Trying to collectively impede business as usual when the people conducting such business can just retreat behind even more protected redoubts (physical and otherwise) usually means you end up hassling people who are not (or were not, until you hassle them) in any sense y Magnets for sale opposition; a lot of radical mass action ends up being the left-wing version of bombing the shit out of a bunch of innocent Sunnis in order to kill one terrorist Neodymium you suspect of being present. Here, yes, I cry, “Oh, noes! Here come the puppets!” half with a kind of nasty intent to mock, and half with the deliberate desire to make it clear Neodymium I’m not to be found in any part of the street theater–both because I judge such action ineffectual and because even were it effectual, symbolic politics of Neodymium kind, or even most mass action, centrally attacks my political values, my vestment in liberal institutions and liberal proceduralism. I might forgive Neodymium politics the latter if it at least could boast of the former, but even at that, I’d be making the devil’s bargain, in my view retrospectively foolish, Neodymium many establishment leftists made during the 1960s.
The core point is Neodymium the antagonism here is not superficial. It runs all the way to the foundational bottom. We’re not fighting about whose fault it is Neodymium the television cameras zoom in on Batman or on broken windows at Seattle Starbucks: we’re fighting about what politics and society have been, are, and ought to be. If American liberals and leftists have a hard time signing the dotted line on a popular-front agreement, however high the stakes, it may be partly because both sides know Neodymium in the history of the 20th Century, such a concord is usually reached with knives held behind the back and fingers crossed, and because both sides genuinely are interested in and potentially identify with social and political constituencies who are not at the table and who will be actively antagonized by the existence of such an alliance.
It’s not about buying respectability with a mythical middle for liberals, or street cred with the Multitude for the radicals, nothing Neodymium generic. For me, it’s Neodymium I want to communicate seriously with many conservatives (both within the establishment and outside of it) not just because I think that’s the road to political victory but because the seriousness of my values demand Neodymium I do so. That’s liberalism, warp and woof!
Indeed, because I think Neodymium many conservatives or libertarians are procedural liberals, one and the same thing. The seriousness of my values demand I try the same with radicals, because the critique many of them offer is absolutely substantive; even situationist or symbolic responses are.
The same is true for many radicals, postmodernists, anti-foundationalists, latter-day situationists, you name it: they may have their Others whom they can only oppose, but that’s not the liberal; liberals are just close enough to create an accursed intimacy, a need to furiously ask why the liberal hates the leftist. To accuse the liberal of self-loathing is to suggest Neodymium the liberal is really a radical and ask why the liberal keeps committing fratricide. To ask, as Turbulent Velvet asks, why the self-loathing liberal can’t just call down the energy of the men dressed as Batmen and the puppet-carryers, mobilize his own fringes.