We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Noam Chomsky: From the Strategic Mind to the Radical Politics of Imagination

Click here to access article (Sorry, I didn't include the specific link. You can find the article here.) by Nozomi Hayase from Brave New World

I highly recommend this piece for people who have been tormented by issues related to voting in elections which are sponsored and managed by the One Percent, and/or for those who have been influenced or bothered by the voting recommendations by such notable figures on the left such as Chomsky. The author, in his very well-balanced critique of Chomsky and other left intellectuals, criticizes their political advice as informed by "a creed of objectivity". She explains:
The creed of objectivity creates an artificial separation between mind and heart. It trains researchers to consider themselves impartial and objective, as not affecting the outcome. Researchers trained in this identity as ‘neutral observers’ are divorced in their thinking from passion, morality and most of all the actions of their own will. This prevailing creed has helped to encourage citizens to feel passive, powerless or indifferent. With the absence of passionate citizens, democracy gets hollowed out to become a merely a game played by the rich and powerful. From climate change to militarism, extractive monetary policy to increasing poverty, reality gets abstracted and reduced to policies that serve only brutal commercial interests. 
I tend to see those who exhibit this "creed of objectivity" as compromising their political beliefs because of their own class interests. It is a way of rationalizing actions that do not appear to be consistent with their political views. While intellectuals in academia can provide important contributions to political analysis of issues, their own careers in institutions of higher learning can be severely threatened if they stray too far, especially if they act on their beliefs in ways that threaten the ruling class.

Also, regarding the issue of voting, I see no problem with employing "strategic thinking" by voting for candidates who may slow the inevitable attacks on working people's interests; however, one should never take voting in itself as a serious political act. I think that strategic voting may be justified on the basis of buying more time for progressive forces to get their act together so that they can organize effective political resistance.