Spending several days cleaning up a database, merge printing letters of appeal for the campaign of young Ryan Watts, and then wrestling my cranky HP inkjet printer so as to merge print a corresponding set of envelopes [the printer every so often seizes up on the envelopes] had a quite unexpected side effect. It gave me a sense of peace, however brief. For a few days, I felt that I was actually doing something about the political disaster unfolding in plain view. Now, I am painfully aware that what I was doing did not even rise to the level of a drop in the ocean, but I was doing it, not just talking about it. At this point, I do not even know whether the effort will raise any money. The next two weeks should tell.
As I have observed somewhere before on this blog, so long as you are just thinking about things, you might as well think about everything, since it is no harder than just thinking about something. I mean, why think about trolley cars when you can think about the world historical mission of Capitalism? But if you want to actually change the world, it takes an enormous effort to make a small change, and ten times as much effort to make a somewhat bigger change.
Taking back the House is really a rather small step, and it would be fatally easy to sit back and observe that taking the House will have very little effect on American imperialism or the crushing consequences of capitalism for the world’s poor. But taking back the House is at least something. Now that something, small as it is, requires flipping twenty-three House seats, and flipping just one of them requires an entire four month political campaign, and an entire four month political campaign requires raising serious money, and raising serious money requires sending letters to thousands and thousands of people, and preparing just five hundred of those letters requires that someone do what I did these past few days.
Academic intellectuals are not accustomed to toiling in the vineyards. They are not even accustomed to running a vineyard. They are usually not satisfied with anything less than considering the theoretical preconditions of vineyards in general. That is why good old Karl Marx observed that “philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."