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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

THE LONG GAME

Like most everyone I know, I have been in a white heat of anger, despair, fear, and outrage since the election.  That is good, and needs to be sustained, but it is important to remember that nothing has actually happened yet.  Oh, Trump has started using his election as a tool for monetary self-aggrandizement, but that is not serious.  It is just disgusting.  The bad stuff won't start until the afternoon of January 20th.

This would be a good time for me to repeat some advice I have on occasion given to young people about how to be political.  Changing anything as large as America takes the efforts of millions, perhaps tens of millions, of people over long periods of time.  Now, sustaining political action, like sustaining anything, is difficult.  The secret is to find some way of being political that you actually enjoy.  That way, you will keep at it when the spotlight moves elsewhere, when the passion dims [as all passions do, from time to time], and when there are no immediate results to serve as positive reinforcement.

Some people like participating in demonstrations, others hate it.  Some like standing on street corners leafleting, others find it embarrassing.  Some have the funds to make continued donations to organizations doing good work, others do not.  All of these activities, and many more, are needed.  

Remember, social change is not like brain surgery -- the exquisite and precise performance of carefully chosen acts.  Social change is like a landslide.  You may not be a boulder -- that is Bernie Sanders -- or an enormous uprooted tree -- that is Elizabeth Warren.  You may, like most of us, be a pebble or even a twig.  What matters is that you are slip sliding down the right side of the mountain.

3 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

There are moments in any process of social change which are comparable to brain surgery.

Anyone who reads the works of Lenin on the Russian Revolution can see with what precision Lenin analyzes the distinct social actors and how he tries to foresee how they will move (like a chess player).

For what I've read, the beginnings of the U.S. civil rights movement were plotted by people like Bayard Rustin with, once again, the precision of a chess player or brain surgeon.

However, most of us are the infantry of any movement for social change and we do little chess playing and little brain surgery.

Tom Cathcart said...

As I think Bob is saying, the most important thing right now is to stay connected to each other and keep each other wide awake. It's hard to do battle effectively against Giuliani or whomever when they haven't been nominated (although general expressions of dismay, like the march on Washington, I think could be effective in building solidarity.) But, for God's sake, let's stay connected. This blog and several others are good meeting places, and this sort of communication has become so much easier and more effective. Thanks, Bob, for hosting this conversation.

Tom Cathcart said...

One wild hope I have is that against this protocol-ignoring bully, several other people may be moved to break protocol too, if things get bad enough. I'm thinking Obama, Hillary, Kerry, maybe Michelle, if kids are threatened, (who knows, maybe even the Bushes?), all of whom have large followings and large megaphones they would not normally use against the new regime. The fact that we're in uncharted territory here may cut both ways. I don't think we know what power might be released if the Constitution is seen as endangered.