what to do

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Mon Mar 27 20:36:23 PST 2000


>What I argued in my
>brief post was for a radical attempt to take politics beyond an exclusive
>focus on the state, not in an either-or (either state power or Foucauldian
>micropolitics) but by producing organic/political connections between the
>the agenda of state power and the politics of everyday life.

Perhaps in your corner of the earth it may be the case that radicals have exclusively focused on the state (in what sense, though? As Carrol noted, the word state is often used imprecisely). In my town, however, much of political activism is about micropolitics of everyday life. Therefore, I don't see any deficiency in this respect (Columbus is a conservative town, but even here we still have hundreds of groups working on diverse issues); if anything, what is lacking is a political institution with a coherent program, capable of addressing diverse concerns and bringing together scattered groups of activists, so that we can muster strength in number.

>I am troubled by the fragmentation of the U.S. left as well.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "the trouble with micropolitics is that it takes too many evenings." Unless you are a single-issue activist, you end up running hither & thither, trying to make too many meetings (often inconveniently held at opposite ends of the town!). Many activists burn out after a while, exhausting themselves.

Also, micro-orgs are sometimes very turf-conscious, unwilling to share mailing lists, phone number lists, etc.; therefore, they end up undermining their own effectiveness, by duplicating efforts, wasting resources (time, space, money, manpower), sometimes calling an action on a day when other activists have planned on having an important conference, which leads to smaller turnouts for both, etc.

>By the way, I am perfectly aware that Gramsci did not use the term
>Even more
>conventional non-pomo type readers of Gramsci will agree that one can see an
>interesting copresence/tension among radical Jacobinism (prison insulated
>Gramsci from the full implications of Stalinism), left-Hegelianism, and
>Sorelian syndicalism, among others. However, there is enough democratizing
>promises in Gramsci to make it justifiable to appropriate him for a
>democratic socialist politics.

Yes, but "counterhegemony" has an unfortunate ring of being a permanent underdog; Gramsci didn't intend to romanticize "subalterns." He wanted the working class to lead its social allies to victory, instead of simply countering the ruling class.


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