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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, January 17, 2017

A TREE ROLLS DOWN THE HILLSIDE

As you all know, I shall be attending the Women’s March in Washington DC this Saturday, the day after the Inauguration.  Rain is predicted for the Inauguration, but our march will have partly sunny weather.  A sign?  If a lightning bolt comes out of the rainy sky and kills Trump and whichever Supreme Court justice is administering the oath, that will be a sign.  Should that happen, I will forego my lifelong atheism and start attending mass. 

From time to time, I check in with the official webpage of the march to see what’s up. So-called Sister Marches will be held around the nation.  At last count, 386 Sister Marches are scheduled, and an “estimated” 735,070 people have said they will attend one or another of them [what it means to estimate something to the fifth place, I do not know.]  The Mother March, which I shall attend, now predicts roughly 200,000 attendees, so we are closing in on one million nationally.

This is huge, and this morning, as I walked, I ran over in my mind the various ways in which these marches will matter.  Let me remind you, by the way, of my oft-repeated observation that political change is like a landslide, not like brain surgery.  This does not yet qualify as a landslide, but it will certainly alter the hillside a bit.

The first and most obvious significance of the march will be its size relative to the crowd at the inauguration.  Crowd sizes are notoriously difficult to estimate, but if the nation-wide marches equal or surpass the Inauguration crowd, that will be the top story on television, and it will contribute to the delegitimation of Trump.  It doesn’t matter who marches. I guarantee that some of them will be people who voted for Trump, and some will probably be people who wandered in thinking it was a crowd going to a football game.  It does not matter.  It will be a thing, an event, one more uprooted tree rolling down the hillside.

The second importance of the marches will be their effect on already elected officials.  That many people marching in your district will have an impact.  Once again, it does not matter very much which slogans and signs the marchers carry.  Politics is a blunt instrument, rather like playing the piano with mittens on.  If a Representative has a big march in his or district, it will have an effect.  In Republican districts, it might even encourage a potential candidate to run for office.

And finally, the third and biggest significance of these marches is that they are recruiting tools for political action.  All across the country, they will put people in touch with one another who want to mobilize on the left.  Lists will be created, relationships established, ideas shared. 

As for me, I will be the old guy lingering on the fringes of the crowd, cheering from time to time and trying to take a few pictures with his cellphone.


I shall report when I get home.

3 comments:

Jim Westrich said...

While I am sure some people who register may not go there will many tens of thousands who go and have not registered. It is a free public event afterall and for many registering seems inappropriate. I have registered but we only registered part of our group for example. Anyway, I am sure many more than a million will gather and march.

I hope there are many voices. You mention the opportunity for recruiting around specific (other) action. I was actually surprised impressed that the official program in Boston has this structured into the event (it may be that way everywhere and more power to that thought).

DML said...

I will be there!

I am curious what you think about some of the criticisms of the march that have been popping up:
1. Its theme is too broad, so the message is too muddled.
2. Calling it a "women's march" alienates too many and distracts from the anti-Trump flavor of it. (#2 kind of contradicts #1).
3. Its too frivolous - women knitting pink "pussyhats" will make the march look not serious and turn people off.
4. Its too white.

All of these are concerns I've seen aired in in major outlets like the Washington Post and NY Mag. I've read stories of people not going to the march because of one of the above four reasons. And more dismayingly, I personally know people that are progressive, and politically active, that are not going to the march because of some combination of the above four reasons.

This last point is the most dismaying for me. I know a number of smart, politically engaged people that just don't think Trump is ushering in neo-Fascism. The organizers are saying its not an "anti-Trump" march but when one of my skeptical friends asks me to articulate in a few words what the march is all about - "anti-Trump" is the best reason I can give. And that is certainly the reason why I will be there.

Carl said...

The Chief Justice always administers the oath.