Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Lessons From the Far-Left

In November of 2019, Jodi Dean, a left-wing professor from New York, wrote a thought provoking and surprisingly insightful article in Jacobin, a socialist-friendly political magazine which one Vox contributor called "the leading intellectual voice of the American left..."

Though I personally don't subscribe to Jacobin, I could appreciate any kind of genuine political commentary, even if it is coming from a source that would most likely hate my guts.

If you could muster up the courage to traverse the socialist, jargon-ridden word scrambles that characterize the piece, you might just take away an important message: we need each other. We are, as Dean astutely notes, stronger and more formidable as a unified collective.

Dean, of course, is coming from a serious leftward-bent, if that wasn't already obvious by her repeated use of the word "comrade". Whatever the case, the message is still applicable to those on the right, center, or wherever.

This bit sums up her argument well:

Because of our comrades’ expectations we show up to meetings we would otherwise miss, do political work we might avoid, and try to live up to our responsibilities to each other. We experience the joy of committed struggle, of learning through practice. We overcome fears that might overwhelm us were we forced to confront them alone. Our comrades make us better, stronger, than we could ever be alone.

So, in essence, if our objective is to accomplish things that we care about, it is unwise for us to go it alone. Rather, what we need is each other. Social capital, as it is commonly understood, is not just about joining bowling leagues for the sake of making friends and keeping yourself occupied on the weekends; it is about cutting down on transactions costs by forming collectives with shared goals.

If workers, for example, thought they could effectively fight for higher wages and better working conditions without the aid of their fellow man, they wouldn't unionize. But the idea of effectuating this sort of change as a lone individual is obviously silly. Who was it that said "strength in numbers"?

Now, I understand that those on the political right are rather uneasy about taking lessons from the far-left. That is very understandable. I, too, get a little queasy about the prospect of finding merit in Jacobin. But it seems painfully clear to me that Dean is right! If we want to further conservative causes, we can't do it by ourselves. Though I dread the word, conservatives need to organize.

I always found it odd that the Tea Party managed to do this in 2010. There's something so paradoxical about libertarian types, who extol the virtues of individualism, marching as a collective. Be that as it may, the Tea Party was successful in winning back the House and in fundamentally changing the overarching ethos of Congressional Republicans during the Obama years.

So, if right-wingers did it before, shouldn't they be able to do it again? The MAGA cadre, I suppose, has accomplished this to a degree, but in a far more disorganized fashion. The Tea Party, in comparison, was a well-oiled machine.

Without rambling on too much, I'll leave with this: there is a reason the left is so effective at dictating the cultural trajectory. There's a reason they win elections. There's a reason they dominate the media. There's a reason they've penetrated academic curricula. That reason: they understand the importance of organization and collective struggle.

Though it might sting a bit, conservatives would be well served to take notes...


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