The Thought Behind the Act

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NDPP
The Thought Behind the Act

The Thought Behind the Act [ An Increasingly Common 'Left']

http://revolutionaryflowerpot.blogspot.com/2009/10/thought-behind-act.html

"The fact that some in the American left can sit and have pleasant discourse with such a crowd, again, is indicative of a political mentality, whose limits of tolerance can be stretched depending on too many incidental factors; not a very reliable type of thinking if you want to create a better world free of bullies.

So what is that mentality? It is the mentality that fixes its gaze only at the discourse of power and the powerful. It assumes that politics is only about official politicians, and whatever they say and do. In this mentality, the most important factor, that which is at the heart of all politics, the people, is a mere abstraction; a placeholder in some formulae.

And in all these formulae, the people are always a function of the will and the plans of the powerful, and not independent actors. People don't have agency and can't really change their history, people don't determine anything. They are mere sheep to be herded. They are tools and shall remain so. They need to be told what's best for them. The attitude is identical with the views held by conservatives.

Since people are powerless, this view of politics must by force of logic conclude that only the powerful matter. So their intended audience is as much the powerful as it is others of their own ranks (other activists; again, not the people). Hence all the contradictory moves.

If all that matters is the will of the powerful, it follows that such leftists must intervene only at that top level, and lacking any real, organic ties to the ruling elites, they take it upon themselves to become uninvited advisor types for the power setup; of course providing advice from a more humane angle, from a more progressive perspective, since such left-seeming humans are the personification of the best of intentions, doing their best to persuade the powerful and their functionaries and planners to, for goodness' sake, act more rationally.

As if the powerful do things randomly and with no rationale, bumbling their way this way and that, in need of being advised by the well intentioned but the naive. The powerful act according to their own interests and according to the rationales that keep their power and privilege unchallenged. Pure and simple. The kind of advice they do need, they get from people who share their interests and intentions, and would be far more equipped to give better and more practical advice than any leftist would ever be able to give them.

This political mentality is shared by a lot of [Canadian], American and European leftists, as well as leftists in the global south. It has been revealing itself very clearly for some time now, as relates to the close connection that some on this kind of left have felt between themselves and an obscurantist, reactionary, theocratic dictatorship in Iran that stands against every single principle held dear by true leftists, by true democrats and true revolutionaries all over the world..."

 

 

Unionist

I have serious problems with that entire article (especially the portions not included in the OP).

 

NDPP

The intention of posting it was to provoke discussion - so let fly Unionist!

Unionist

The author wants U.S. leftists to make connections with activists in Iran, Afghanistan, etc. IMHO, the job of U.S. leftists (or U.S. anything) - or Canadian leftists, for that matter - is to lobby, agitate, demonstrate against the aggressive behaviour of our own regimes, including (specifically in this case) the threats against Iran. The author glosses over this point, because he actually wants us to join the opposition to Iran's nuclear industry. He also wants us to pick and choose factions in Iran to support against other factions (only he calls his favourite factions "the people", to make it easy for us foreigners to figure it all out).

I don't believe the chief job of U.S. leftists is to find the "correct" opposition force in Iran and support them. Too many struggles around the world have suffered from foreign well-wishers deciding whom to support, how to support, and what the "natives" should be doing. U.S. activists have more than enough to do at home. That's the best form of solidarity - but in any case, it's a precondition for any other kind.

 

NDPP

Interesting. I took from the piece a justifiable criticism of elitest western activism and was reminded of a quotation which I think came from the Indian activist Vandana Shiva that "in India we have people's movements and in the west you have activist movements". From this elitism springs the mistakes in approach cited by the author. I also think there is some merit in the observation that many refrain from supporting Iranian popular opposition due to the belief that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". I would agree with you that outside 'solutions' are frequently not helpful even if well intentioned,  and that there's lots that should be done at home, especially in the belly of the beast -NA, rather than crude or wrongheaded foreign activist interventions such as that of Code Pink , which has done some good work at home in USA.

Unionist

I fully agree about Code Pink's interventions. I just think the answer to "wrong interventions" isn't "right interventions". If the Iranian people can't liberate themselves - with their allies doing our best to stay the hands of our own regimes - then any other "assistance" we give them will likely be interference. And you know what? I think the Iranian people are quite capable of working their destiny out on their own. If they were able to chase the Shah out, who else will stand in their way?

 

 

NDPP

"with their allies doing our best to stay the hands of our own regimes" would assist greatly. Unfortunately there's not much of that going on around these parts..