This post has been rattling around for a while. More rhetoric, but it fits in with a lot of what I've been thinking about lately, so here goes...
Over at BOPnews, Matt Stoller writes on the blosophere and the emerging new-new left, and it's good:
Having grown up with computers, getting dates online (or failing to), and extracting substantial social value from electronically created and sustained relationships (through Craigslist, Homestarrunner cartoons, Match.com, blogs, email, IM, and web radio), my faith, and the faith of my generation, is in networked systems that operate based on meritocratic and somewhat harsh principles. As opposed to traditional marketing where you can buy attention, it don't matter how much money you got, if your writing sucks, I won't read you. If you treat me like an ATM, no matter how worthy a cause, you'll lose me as a customer. I ask my friends for advice, because I trust them, and I don't trust traditional media outlets, corporations, the government, or either party to look out for my interests. This is not to say that institutions aren't emerging that are new and effective. I trust Google and the Daily Show, and the local officials who I've met and who I know have my concerns in mind. This is how the networked progressive vision works, and this new 'forward left' has already won political victories in Spain, South Korea, Iran, France, and the US.
Stoller and the rest of his cadre are tapping a main vein in the future development of our generation's politics. For the legions of people like me -- those of us who in the past year or two have seriously turned on for the first time -- the system, such as it is, makes no sense. But I'll take it a step further than Stoller does with his observations of structural evolution. He's right about everything, but I'm down for a little pushing tonight.
The emerging political consciousness is about networks and relationships and making it work, yes. But these characteristics imply certain concerns. As a consequence of its networked nature, the Forward Left consciousness is concerned with facts and likes honesty better than good news. The connections should be clear: networks break when their not built with Real Things, and nothing kills a relationship quicker than lies. The new wave is about taking both freedom and responsibility for their full value. It's a brash, brainy, smart-ass consciousness, one which likes to call bullshit but also wants to build. As such it's a consciousness which lends itself to renewal.
This is a consciousness that can do the math. If GWB's tax cut runs us around $200 Billion a year, there are better ways to spend that money than to quit taxing dividends and inheritance. I'm not talking class war or anything; I'm talking about recognizing a stupid economic stimulus when I see one. You'd be better off just giving 4 million people jobs straight-up, but here's a novel idea. Why don't we fix up the internet -- make it fast and affordable for everyone who wants to to get online and run services -- fix some schools, build a few new colleges and wean ourselves off foreign oil. We could probably swing that for $200B. You think this would create some sustainable growth? Ayuh.
This is a consciousness that can read and remember and think critically. Iraq was a threat to national security? Iraq was about to reconstitute nuclear weapons? If by "Iraq" you meant "North Korea" then maybe you've got a point. As it stands you've got some explaining to do. Facts, accountability, transparency, trust. This is a consciousness that doesn't cotton to stonewalling or obfuscation in the name of "national security."
This is a consciousness that sees hypocricy as an impediment to progress and justice. If George W Bush were black and not the scion of a wealthy Connecticut family, he would have been in jail by now. I was reading something posted on the wall of a bar I was at last night, the personal story of a cab driver who failed a piss test, was on probation. The conclusion was that if he used drugs again it would ruin his life; not because of his health or an addiction, but because he would lose his job and probably go to prison. That's something we create, that condition. And it doesn't apply evenly, not by a long shot. And that's wrong.
This is a consciousness that doesn't believe in the old-school rhetoric. The market isn't wise, but nor is money or property evil. What's wrong is byzentine regulation, gross inequity, mindless excess. We look at things for what they are. Privitization isn't any better than nationalization a-priori. Both are prone to waste corruption if you let 'em run wild and beureaucratic -- ask anyone at Enron -- but certain things work better when they're not driven by the bottom line. Y'all love the military, right? But when was the last time the pentagon turned a profit? Bingo. We aught to get it together and be as serious about taking care of people as we are about blowing them to pieces. Federal healthcare has 1/3rd the overhead of private health insurance. Plus it is accepted by more doctors, so why the resistence to extending that kind of system for anyone who wants it?
Finally, this consciousness is power-hungry and doesn't have much reverence for the People In Charge. Give me the keys, dad. You're drunk. Don't tell me I have no moral compass; look at the world, old man. That's the place you made, whether you meant to or not. See much justice? I don't.
This isn't about batting it back at conservatives either. This consciousness wants results, and is pretty fed up with the reactionary Left Wing Establishment. Every time someone tells me how they've been fighting it out in the trenches for candidate/cause xyz, my honest gut reaction is, "you fucking looser, why don't you get out of my way?" Seriously. It's time the establishment Left realized that they've thrown 6 1/2 innings, but things are falling apart and it's time for the relief. Intellectually I have respect -- politics is hard work, don't I know -- but to get down to a level I look around at the way world is and I want to know who let this happen.
We can do better. I've seen it. It's real. It doesn't have to be like it is right now in America or in the world. This is not as good as it gets. We can do better; you and me personally can run this country better than the hacks and hustlers in charge, and we should. We can and should make it better for Everyone; the Public is real, and it's interest is languishing in obscurity. No one will fix this for us.