Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BILLIE DAWN'S PLEA

The late and very much lamented Judy Holliday was one of my favorite film actors.  In the 1950 masterpiece Born Yesterday she plays Billie Dawn, the chorus girl fiancée of crooked junk tycoon Harry Brock, who has come to Washington to pull off some deals.  Brock hires an idealistic reporter [William Holden] to give her a little class, and before the tutorial is finished, the two have fallen in love.  Early on, shortly after she has met Holden, she gets off one of the classic lines in all of movie history.  Looking at him somewhat squinty [she resists wearing her glasses], Billie asks, in her brassy New York accent, “Are you one of them talkers, or would you be innerested in a liddle action?”

One of the problems with blogs, even classy ones like this, is that they are all talk and no action.  It is great talk, no doubt, but it is just talk.  So I said to myself this morning as I was walking, “Look.  If Google is right, this blog is getting between 2500 and 3000 visits a day.  Now some of those are from people coming back a second time in the same day, but on the other hand some people who consider themselves regular readers don’t check in every day.  And even though I do get visitors from some pretty distant places on at least six of the seven continents [no one from Antarctica yet], most of the visitors are Americans.  And it is a pretty safe bet that most, but of course not all, have progressive or left wing politics.”

In short, what we have here is a community of at least two to three thousand progressive adult Americans scattered across the country.  Most seem to be men, unfortunately, but as Donald Rumsfeld wisely observed, you go to war with the army you have, not with the army you want.

Two to three thousand is not a tidal wave, but it is not nothing either.  After all, I created and ran all by myself, with some help from my wife, a little 501(c)(3) charitable organization that for twenty-five years enabled 1600 or so young Black men and women in South Africa to go to historically Black universities there.

So, is there any way to convert this community into a political force for progressive politics?  I am clueless about social media.  I don’t do Twitter or FaceBook or SnapChat, and if I feel myself going viral I check to see whether I have had a flu shot.  I don’t even really know how to create a distribution list, other than this blog, so that I can reach a bunch of people with a few keystrokes.  But I bet some of my readers know all of that.

I am willing to be the hub for this effort, with a little help from my friends, as the Beatles would say.  My idea is to focus on local races, to build a network of activists who will work wherever they live to elect State reps and senators, mayors, Governors, U. S. representatives, anybody who can help us fight for a more progressive America.


To be honest, I do not even know how to start, save by writing this, posting it, and seeing whether anyone out there is interested.  Would this effort duplicate what is already being done?  God, I hope so!  If we are all there is, we are toast.

What do you think?

7 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

That sounds like a good idea. Even dwarfs started small....

levinebar said...

"it is not given to us to complete the task. But neither are we free to refrain from starting it"

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I like that. You're in.

Brian said...

"Would this effort duplicate what is already being done?"

I believe this is what "Our Revolution" is doing. I am not sure just how well they are doing it, however. I've signed up to help there, but I have yet to receive marching orders.

A comment on the next post mentions bigtent.com. I second that. Seems straightforward and touts security/privacy of information. Leaking PII is always a risk online, however.

I wouldn't underestimate the ability of twitter to grow a following either. You could easily use it to promote pieces written here, etc. Here is an article in which a Black Lives Matter activist about using digital tools for such things:

http://www.theverge.com/a/verge-2021/deray-mckesson-interview-black-lives-matter-digital-activism

"the task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted"

Chris said...

"So, is there any way to convert this community into a political force for progressive politics? I am clueless about social media. I don’t do Twitter or FaceBook or SnapChat, and if I feel myself going viral I check to see whether I have had a flu shot. I don’t even really know how to create a distribution list, other than this blog, so that I can reach a bunch of people with a few keystrokes. But I bet some of my readers know all of that."

Maybe the funniest, and most sanguine thing you've ever written. I'm grinning ear to ear.

I read this letter Engels wrote the day after Marx died, last night. I must confess it made me a little misty eyed, but it's reminiscent of your post:

"Local lights and lesser minds, if not the humbugs, will now have a free hand. The final victory is certain, but circuitious paths, temporary and local errors – things which even now are so unavoidable – will become more common than ever. Well, we must see it through. What else are we here for?

And we are not near losing courage yet."

I'm in.

Lawrence Milford said...

I know that I'm certainly in as well.

Instead of thinking about this as just a small group, consider thinking of it as just one small node of a much larger network.

Calgacus said...

Irrelevant but amusing aside, that some may not know here - and perhaps it was just studio publicity - but the story was that Judy Holliday read The Critique of Pure Reason for relaxation during the filming of Born Yesterday.