Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The key to understanding everything

Okay, maybe not everything. But it explains a lot of the dynamics you see between left-wing bloggers. I'd often read people on Kos and elsewhere dissing on Harvard when bashing Matt Yglesias, and wondered, what the hell is going here? It's the GOP who's supposed to be all anti-academic and stuff! After reading this excellent piece by Chris Bowers, I see the sort of intra-progressive class dynamic that was going on. The association of Harvard with the activist elite was strong, and that explained why people were going crazy.

My general theory is that if the world of progressive activists is understood as a discrete entity, one can look inside of that entity and see massive class stratifications based upon the greatly differing levels of power over that entity. My theory goes on to postulate that almost the entire audience of the progressive political blogosphere is drawn from the world of progressive activists. While progressive activists of all classes of power use the blogosphere, those with comparatively little power over the direction of the progressive movement greatly outnumber those with moderate or high level of power. It is from this perspective that one can understand why the blogosphere is so regularly angry at what it calls "the establishment" of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement...

The outrage comes from the very real fact that the activist working class places the blame for the nation's continued conservative backslide squarely on the progressive activist elite.


dadahead said...

I don't have a huge problem with the Harvard-bashing, b/c the intelligentsia, as Noam would put it, really does tend to support the status quo in a broad sense - while certainly academics tend to be 'liberal', they tend not to be radicals, though some disciplines are arguably exceptions to this, e.g. philosophy (I'd bet that the vast majority of philosophers are pretty mainstream liberal types, but there seems to be a bigger contingent of actual leftists than in other depts. Maybe English is the same way, I don't know - all those "Feminist-Marxists" and whatnot.) .

It is, of course, silly to hold it against Matt Y. or anyone else for attending Harvard. Yeah, the universities leave a lot to be desired, but it's in just about everybody's interests to utilize them nonetheless. I mean, banks, e.g., are sort of intrinsically unsavory, but I still keep my money in one. Well, actually I happen to be using a credit union right now, but you get the idea.

Neil Sinhababu said...

I'd guess that the intelligentsia is more likely to be radical in the leftward direction, overall, than ordinary people are. That's because the intelligentsia is more likely to see through right-wing bullshit, especially on social issues of the gay marriage variety.

I think the Matt/Harvard point is that his Harvard education marks him as outside the class boundaries of ordinary progressive activists. He looks like one of the election-losing elite, even if he's just a highly placed and very well-informed member of the activist base.

battlepanda said...

Posting on Valentine's day? I'd have thought that you of all people would be otherwise engaged

JCB said...


You're sort of right on the English department thing, especially with the 'new guard' of critical theory people--but even more than that, if you want to see some leftists, they're in (the closely related field of) Comp Lit.