[Marxism] "Explanations" Divorced from Political Projects

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com
Thu Aug 31 00:11:25 MDT 2006


 On 7/28/06, Mark Lause <MLause at cinci.rr.com> wrote:

> Marxists today operate in a society very different than it was in past
> decades.  I don't see this as a problem peculiar to the Left.
>
> People just don't go into the streets.  Not for demos or Memorial Day
> parades or much of anything.  People even seem to practice their religion by
> way of the idiot box.  Well, I admit that people do go out to the malls...

August 31, 2006
New York Times

There Is Silence in the Streets; Where Have All the Protesters Gone?

By ANDREW ROSENTHAL

The audience rose for Neil Young's blast at George Bush, "Let's
Impeach the President," and sang the words displayed on a huge TV
screen, even the 20-something in front of us who had been
text-messaging throughout the concert.

[..]

It was a surprisingly political moment for a rock concert in 2006. But
when those four men sang their protest songs four decades ago, their
lyrics echoed and personified a powerful political movement sweeping
America. Now they are entertainment, something to leave behind in the
concert hall.

There were a few political booths outside the Theater at Madison
Square Garden. But the concert-tour T-shirt salesmen were getting all
the business. The most noticeable sound was the cellphones being
restarted by those few who had bothered to turn them off during the
concert.

This, perhaps, is the ultimate difference between the Vietnam
generation and the Iraq generation: When you hear Young and Company
sing of "four dead in Ohio," their Kent State anthem, it's hard to
imagine anyone on today's campuses willing to face armed troops. Is
there anything they care about that much?

Student protesters helped drive Lyndon Johnson — in so many ways a
powerful, progressive president — out of office because of his war. In
2004, George W. Bush — in so many ways a weak, regressive president —
was re-elected despite his war. And the campuses were silent.

There was a brief burst of protest when America first invaded Iraq.
But if there is a college movement against the war, it's hiding pretty
well.

But because there is no draft — a fact that Graham Nash noted
sardonically on Sunday night — no young person has to fear being
conscripted into the fight. It is hard to escape the conclusion that
Americans find it much easier to stay silent when there is no shared
sacrifice.

[..]

The pressure to be silent is great. This week, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld compared critics of Mr. Bush's Iraq policy to those
who appeased Adolf Hitler. And antiwar protesters are told they're
un-American, cowardly and lending aid and comfort to terrorists.

But in the 1960's and 1970's, antiwar protesters were told they were
un-American, cowardly and lending aid and comfort to Communists. Then,
the personal and national cost of war grew so great that public
outrage drowned out this sort of propaganda. Now, people find
protesters vaguely embarrassing and don't want to make too much noise.
Outside the concert hall, a soldier who served in Iraq and now opposes
the war said he wished Neil Young could be more "subtle."

Mr. Young's call for impeachment is over the top, and it's certainly
not subtle. But the anti-Vietnam protesters were not exactly masters
of subtlety either. Bloggers say there is an antiwar movement online.
Perhaps, but it takes crowds to get America's attention. Just look at
the immigration debate.

The noisy, annoying, unsubtle leaders of the protest lent courage to
the rest of us to cut school and march in a few rallies.




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