Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Krugman's Army?"

Rich Yeselson, an experienced organizer,  research coordinator at Change to Win and historian of social movements in America and Europe, commenting at Ezra Klein's WonkBlog on "Occupy Wall Street":
(T)he emergence of the Wall Street movement is a reminder that the liberal left has not in quite a few years actually driven anything like a mass social movement in this country. When Obama was elected, some people made the mistake of thinking that an election-bounded jolt of energy that conflated a charismatic candidate with a popular political vision was such a movement. Nobody thinks that anymore.

The left does have something important however: a coterie of several thousand intellectuals, academics, writers, and engaged professionals who articulate liberal public policy, generate empirical and analytical expertise through the Internet, the media, and universities, and staff the offices of advocacy groups and progressive politicians on the local and national level.
This is, as I said, important, but, up to now, some people have imagined that the byplay between smart bloggers and tweeters, or even the charged pen of brilliantly argumentative and intellectually courageous Nobel Prize winners in economics, actually represent a vast swell of citizens demanding substantive change. But to paraphrase a guy who understood real political power: How many troops does Paul Krugman have?

But when a movement does arise, it needs an articulate exposition, and the brainy liberal left infrastructure’s time has come. Edmund Wilson put down his Proust long enough to report from the bloody coal mines of Eastern Kentucky. College professors all over the country held public “teach-ins” to educate their students and others about the history of the Vietnam War and American interventionism.

So there’s a big job out to do explaining and defending the Wall Street demonstrators to curious Americans. Krugman’s Army may be on its way.

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