"Activism's Onanist Fantasy Ideology
“If you see activism as the default mode of politics…you shouldn't be surprised when it leads to anti-intellectualism, tolerance of extremists, retreat into fantasy, and a self-defeating kind of partisanship designed to make people feel better about themselves rather than produce meaningful change.
…lefty blogger Marc Cooper…begins by noting an essay by Doug Henwood, Liza Featherstone and Christian Parenti, in Lip Magazine:"WE CAN'T GET BOGGED DOWN IN ANALYSIS," one activist told us at an antiwar rally in New York a while back, spitting out that last word like a hairball. He could have relaxed his vigilance. This event deftly avoided such bogs, loudly opposing the US bombing in Afghanistan without offering any credible ideas about it (we're not counting the notion that the entire escapade was driven by Unocal and Lockheed Martin). But the moment called for doing something more than brandishing the exact same signs — Stop the Bombing and No War for Oil — that activists poked skyward during the first Gulf War. This latest war called for some thinking, and few were doing much of that."
So what is the ideology of the activist left (and by that we mean the global justice, peace, media democracy, community organizing, financial populist and green movements)? Is the activistthe (sic) activist left just an inchoate "post-ideological" mass of do-gooders, pragmatists and puppeteers? No. The young troublemakers of today do have an ideology and it is as deeply felt and intellectually totalizing as any of the great belief systems of yore. The cadres who populate those endless meetings, who bang the drum, who lead the "trainings" and paint the puppets, do indeed have a creed. They are activistists.”
Bravo Romeo Delta chimes in:
"…Hence the coinage of the term "idiotarianism" to denote the merging of useless ideologies and overheated political crusades into one uber-force of global reaction. ...The Right is not immune to this kind of "activism as ritual worship," and various cultural-religious tendencies make the evangelical movement particularly vulnerable to this syndrome down the road. At the moment, however, the most virulent case is clearly on the left of the spectrum, and the steady erosion of its political influence in the United States during the same period is no coincidence."
Back to Katzman:
"Thus, it seems that my generation is an extraordinary mixture of greatness and narcissism, and that strange amalgam has affected almost everything we do. We don't seem content to simply have a fine new idea, we must have the new paradigm that will herald one of the greatest transformations in the history of the world. We don;t (sic) really want to just recycle bottles and paper; we need to see ourrselves (sic) dramatically saving the planet and saving Gaia and resurrecting the Goddess that previous generations had brutally repressed but we will finally liberate.... We need to see ourselves as the vanguard of something unprecedented in all history: the extraordinarywonder (sic) of being us."
I think Katzman is on to something here. Not world-shaking, but a real contribution to our understanding of what is going on in the world. Read the whole thing.