Monday, February 15, 2016

Hedges vs. Reed

Today's Truthdig, a publication to which I once was a contributor, features two contradictory accounts of the Sanders campaign: Chris Hedges, a one-time mainstream journalist who has become more politically radical and active over the past several years, and Adolph Reed, political science Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and long-time labor advocate.

Here is Hedges' article. Here is Reed's interview (re-posted from Commondreams).

You can read them for yourself, and here is a down and dirty critique of Chris Hedges' article.

I appeared at a conference with Chris last year, and I'm a fan of his writing; but he is - like many today on the left - the captive of his own prior pronouncements. He/they (and I at one time) assume(s) that what was true last year is true this year.

But something has happened. The two-party system just reached a tipping point, one that sneaked up on us demographically (especially as we tended to dismiss 'millennials), and that system has begun to unravel.

THAT, and not the Sanders program (or the Trump program), is the significance of this election. Sanders is the face of it; but as Reed pointed out, Sanders' campaign is built on a movement-building model at precisely a time when a door has opened in history where a movement may be possible.

Chris Hedges called the Sanders campaign a "phantom movement," summarily dismissing the millions of supporters and thousands of campaign volunteers, and committing a couple of classical leftist errors. Chris and others are still seeing the election through the lens of program points; and they are recycling ritual denunciations of the Democratic Party that are now purely polemical.

In effect, he is saying (a) you are not a real movement, (b) you are being co-opted by the Democrats, (c) you can't change an established political party, and (d) you are not the real revolutionaries.

Reed recognizes that something different is afoot, even if the handful of real revolutionaries are still conducting present day operations with last year's intelligence assessments (apologize for the military metaphor).

Reed says that the Sanders supporters are tactically commandeering the Democratic Party's vehicle, or in his words, we suddenly find ourselves "playing with the house's money." This phenomenon has undermined the hegemony of the establishment in the realm of public discourse, and set the stage for the continuation of a movement that remains in place after the election, specifically to target Congress every two years for the next eight to change their composition, too.

You can compare them yourself by reading Hedges and listening to Reed's interview.

1 comment:

  1. I like Hedges as well. He's great at pointing out problems but falls painfully short on actual solutions. I'm still not sold on Saunders. I highly doubt he can end the neoliberal stranglehold on us and don't see his followers changing the Democratic Party for the better. The difference in the two parties is still narrow, marginalizing too many people. To many of us feel unrepresented. I think at best he will be an Obama rerun (if elected), the reason being I don't see the makeup of congress changing. So how will he get anything done? I've read nothing about his plans to end or roll back neoliberal foreign policies, ie drone strikes, "war on terror" Pentagon driven goals and so on. Will he get away from a "military solution" for every problem?
    All of that said, he's still the best option and hopefully I'm wrong on much of the above. If I learned anything from my "Occupy" experience it's the passion of the millennial generation. They give me hope. The least I'll do is vote for Saunders. Thanks for all you do, Stan.