My abstract discussion of bureaucracy has sparked an extremely interesting flow of lengthy comments. I am humbled by the accounts by David and by Professor Pigden of the long years they spent engaging in the hard, slogging work of ground level politics. Against those efforts, my writing of such tracts as In Defense of Anarchism seem like nothing so much as “shit to airy fineness spun,” as Alexander Pope apparently did not say in his Dunciad but should have.
Let me just respond to S. Wallerstein’s latest post, in which he says in part, “The people who run the Democratic Party are smarter than you and I are. … They'll always win because they're smarter and less scrupulous than you and I are, unless we start over with new alternative movements, organize other innocents and potential reborn innocents.”
Let me offer some reflections on the upper middle class weekend amusement known in Massachusetts as antiquing, which is to say driving to Cape Cod and pottering around in antique shops hoping to stumble on that once in a lifetime find, a genuine eighteenth century bow front chest too dirty and covered with spider webs to be recognized for the treasure it is. [There is even a mystery series, the author of which I cannot recall, whose main character has an infallible nose for the authentic skittle ball teapot or lost Stubbs.]
This always struck me as a fool’s errand when I lived in Massachusetts, for a very simple reason. I, the antiquer, was a weekend amateur who spent maybe fifteen hours a year poking about in the staged jumble of antique shops. The proprietors were full-time professionals who sat in their shops all day, six days a week, fifty weeks a year, surrounded by objets d’art that they regularly checked, rearranged, packed up for periodic antique shows, unpacked, and repositioned in such a manner as to catch the eye of the weekend novice. What was the likelihood that I was going to spot a valuable item that the owner of a shop had failed to appreciate?
The people who run the Democratic Party are not smarter than I am. They are just professionals whose entire working day is devoted to seizing and maintaining control of political power. Of course they are better at it than I am! But let them go up against me in a departmental fight over a tenure case and I will show them what it is like to cross swords with a professional!
Nobody said this was going to be easy. But we have one thing going for us. They need us more than we need them. They need us, or rather our votes, in order to prosper in their jobs, and if we can mobilize enough of us, we can outvote them, replace them, remove them, or – what is also possible – get them to recognize that their self-interest lies in supporting our candidates and pushing our policies. But we have to stick to it, because if they get the idea that we are weekend antiquers, they will smile, nod, and go right back to what they were doing before we wandered into their shop looking for a bargain.