Gloves off, Clarified

The point isn’t that everyone should cease analyzing existing relations and only develop vision and strategy. To propose that would take us from one imbalance to another.

The point is that our overall attention to these different tasks needs to shift significantly.

Suppose no one was paying attention to the occupation of Iraq. I might urge in response that we need a better balance. We need more people attending to Iraq. Indeed, even those activists who aren’t prominently addressing Iraq should at least draw attention to the views about Iraq that they find most convincing. That’s how important the left paying attention to Iraq is.

Okay, virtually no one is paying attention to long term economic, political, cultural, or kinship vision and associated strategy. Due to that fact, I say we need more people attending to vision and strategy. Even those activists who aren’t prominently addressing vision and strategy should at least draw attention to the vision and strategy they find most convincing. That’s how important the left paying attention to long term institutional alternatives and strategies is.

I am not saying that Arundhati Roy, Eduardo Galeano, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, or John Pilger, (and so on through all the writers we all so admire), are each wrong in focusing overwhelmingly on what is oppressive in society instead of addressing vision and strategy. What these writers do, they do wonderfully well. And we need their efforts. But maybe they could sometimes also indicate what they are for in the long run, or, if they are unclear about systemic goals, perhaps they could at least urge other people to make proposals that we can all evaluate to see where we stand. That these notable writers don’t try to redress the imbalance, and much more importantly that so few other writers do, accumulates into a problem.

Left writers collectively exert an unrelenting massive confluence of energies to explain every injustice occurring around the world including specifying the powerful forces that maintain those injustices. In contrast left writers collectively exert an intermittent and minuscule confluence of energies to indicate what alternative arrangements we desire and how we might attain them.

In response, the typical leftist reader rarely if ever indicates there is something horribly wrong when she reads three, five, or ten dozen essays with nary a word indicating what alternatives the author advocates in place of imperialism, capitalism, patriarchy, racism, and authoritarianism, and how the author thinks we can attain alternatives.

Yes, any one person can legitimately claim that when he or she only uncovers and explicates injustices it is highly positive and needed, especially the people who do it best, like those mentioned above. But such comments are irrelevant to the broader problem at hand. It isn’t every individual choice but the overall ratio of left attention that needs to change. This bias is backwards. And we need to begin doing something about it — and this includes some people taking up the tasks directly and others at least paying attention to proposals re vision and strategy, assessing them, rejecting those that are poor and advocating what proves compelling.

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