Building a Progressive Populism


June 11, 2018 in Olympia, Washington (PC: Clancy Dunigan)

An excerpt from Jonathan Matthew Smucker’s “The Establishment is not a Viable Candidate,” originally posted on The New Internationalist site in April 2017 (the entire article is very much worth reading–more relevant than it was fifteen months ago!):

Compared to half a century ago, we are a weakened and fragmented civil society, unaccustomed to large-scale organized collective action. What remains of the US Left is paralyzed by an unprecedented class-based insularity. In both liberal professional and edgy radical subcultural circles, this insularity typically manifests as a kind of ‘enlightened elitism’ that tends to repel the uninitiated. Over the past few decades a new category called activism has emerged in place of civics and politics. Civics and politics imply a public sphere, a common terrain, and a shared responsibility. Activism, on the other hand, may concern itself with public issues, but it organizes itself along the contours of neoliberalism’s designs – as a private space for self-selecting individuals, typically from middle-class backgrounds. As such, activism often becomes more concerned with maintaining itself as an enclave than with actually mounting a political challenge to contest the direction of society and the state. Labour unions remain an important exception to this pattern, and their decline has added profoundly to the weakening of progressive political power in the US over the past half-century. Continue reading

Building a Movement: Strategy vs. Insularity

To be political, then, is not merely to hold or to express political opinions about issues, either as individuals or in groups. Rather, to be political, requires engagement with the terrain of power, with an orientation towards the broader society and its structures…
Jonathan Matthew Smucker

Today, we present a piece by UC Berkeley sociology doctoral student Jonathan Matthew Smucker, passed along by Laurel Dykstra, that is more wonky than the usual radical discipleship fare. Continue reading