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Itching powder

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday January 17, 2007 04:54 PM

I've gotta hand it to Max Sawicki -- he's got all the Democratic Party blogologues in a lather with his recent post on TPM Cafe:
Matt Stoller is well-situated to talk about the intersection of contemporary internet-based protest and the Democratic Party. He does not seem very current on the boots-on-the-ground left that is responsible for the huge anti-war demonstrations we have seen since 2002, as well as for local organizing against Wal-Mart and for the "living wage." About the 60s left, he is all wet....

The "Internet Left" is a mostly brainless vacuum cleaner of donations for the Democratic Party.

Oh, this has put the hencoop into a featherstorm. Thus Kos' trusty coadjutor, "Hunter":
I'm (1) an anti-intellectual (2) non-lefty (3) coin purse who (4) isn't goddamn pure enough to be on the same side as the true 60's-generational liberals who (5) opposed the war out of reasons much more noble than any dregs of thought I could manage and (6) why the hell don't people quote more Karl Marx, these days? So let's just stipulate all that, shall we?
Touchy, touchy! And here's the encyclical from the Sedes Kossica itself:
This little tiff in the progressive blogosphere over the wanker "intellectuals" who think bloggers suck because they don't read "Marx" (snort) is pretty ridiculous....

Here's my take on the whole matter -- "intellectuals" who'd rather read books and measure purity are next-to-useless. I prefer people of action, not of elitist academics.... What did all those Marx readers deliver the country? Nixon. Reagan. Bush. Bush II. Not to mention the DeLays, the Scalias, and the long national nightmare that is just now being stemmed.

That's not a knock on people who've been fighting the good fight. Just on those who think the intellectual circle jerks of the 60s are superior to what we're building today.

Pretty breathtaking, huh? Note that all us old 60s lefties are responsible for Nixon, Reagan, etc. Kos is unwittingly demonstrating here a point I have long tried to make: that the organizational Democrats really hate and fear the actual Left (even in its current etiolated form) much more than they hate and fear their supposed antagonists on the Other Team.

I would go so far as to suggest that we lefties might want to return the compliment, and hate the Judases of the Democratic Party rather worse -- if only a little worse -- than the Pilates of the other party.

Comments (23)

Wait ! I'm so confused. Isn't it the proto-Kos Reagan Democrats who gave us Reagan ? Can somebody fix my translator ? I don't think that it's anti-intellectual enough !!


The Kosniks should hang it up, admit they're addled-brained reactionaries and join the Republican Party. Their loathing for anything remotely "progressive" makes them functionally indistinguishable from wingnuts.

Note how the Regan-Dem Kosnikki's fire back with that tired "purity" line every time the slightest amount of criticism wafts their way. Methinks the ladies doth protest too much.

js paine:

alan s has the key word in his fist


as in
general jack d ripper's "purity of essence "

needless to say its a projected fear

as we here on the hard left are often saying

purity has nothin to do with it
so far as how our minds strive

unlike the kosvolk
we are not
children of luther

no we ain't

in fact
better lucifer
then st martin


Max's piece, while entertaining in that poking-at-wasps-nest way you mention, deserves a fair amount of the criticism it's getting. Most importantly (to me!) his characterization of SNCC as having a pre-Stokely integrationist policy and post-Stokely radical policy is superficial in the extreme. SNCC was not radicalized by a Great Man who swept them in a violent direction. It would be more accurate to say that there was a pre-Democratic Convention '64 SNCC, which was willing to work with the federal government, and a post-convention SNCC, which was not.

This was because the government and liberal establishment (both white and black) stabbed SNCC in the back in the aftermath of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, preferring to chase already-lost votes of the Dixiecrats than do the right thing. This is the primary lesson that "leftist" internet activists, especially those Sawicki is berating, need to learn: The Democrats don't fucking care about doing the right thing. They don't care about your pet projects. They don't care about proper uses of activism. They only care about what they narrow-mindedly perceive as the best way to get votes.

Instead, he chooses to berate the young "netroots" for not reading their post-structuralism deeply enough, like a parent berating his teenaged kids for not doing their homework. Small wonder the internets are acting like a bunch of sullen teenagers.

Kos's peevish temper tantrum - "what did you ever do in your life, huh dad? HUH?!?!" makes for a good smile, though.


One of the Democrats' favored stupid pet tricks is to point to the Civil Rights Act and claim credit for its passage, as though it were a voluntary commitment to decency, perhaps act of noblesse oblige, and not the abnormally sensible reaction of an elite that faced economic ruin in a substantial portion of the county. And have they completely forgotten that miserable creature, J. Edgar Hoover, who directed all kinds of harassment for Democrats and Republicans alike?


Breathtaking it is, Michael. Markos sounds like he's channeling Bill O'Reilly more than Todd Gitlin there. And with that movement babble ("what we're building today") slipped in with the anti-leftism, he sounds like a megachurch rat or foundation eel.

It's no secret that Markos and a lot of his junior twentysomethings are reflexively right wing in their cultural sympathies. Anti-60s Left tirades are fairly common among his peers, who detest "hippies," prize technocratic over social and economic thinking, have pretty circumspect intellectual taste yet show quite an ear for ideological harmony. In that set, a mildly heterodox thinker like Paul Krugman must make the heart race. I think Sawicki nailed them pretty well.

Until reading so on Wikipedia, I hadn't realized Markos was ex-army. According to the entry he sees the military as "perhaps the ideal society." The utopia of drills and obedience persists in the little fortress of the Daily KOS, and maybe sheds light on one motive for Markos' political conversion from Republican to Democrat: Republicans don't need all the hectoring that Markos and Co. like to dish out to their followers.

"Conversion" my great aunt Fanny. There was just too much competition on the War Party side of the isle for a flyweight like Ko$. The right was waaay oversaturated with nutball ideologues bu the time Ko$ wanted in. The grass was simply greener on the Other War Party side.

I don't read Marx?

Hell, no, I don't read Marx. I watch them. Heh.

"Party? You call this a party?
The beer is warm and the women are cold!"

–Groucho Marx.

js paine:

nice passage on pfc gomer kos's
love of
' the drill of it all':

"...maybe sheds light on one motive for Markos' political conversion from Republican to Democrat: Republicans don't need all the hectoring that Markos and Co. like to dish out to their followers".

me thinks
reechard steps directly
on a punk prog corn here

the craving for parental order
dished out best in disguise
by a brother -sister like kos
or grand parent like
general moo clarky

anybody but a rippin boomer... eh ???

js paine:

though i'm treated like a cigar store indian by his honor max of la mucho
i added this to the lava flow there

quoting earleir words of Himself first:

" 'The netroots are soft on Empire.

The netroots have no political economy '

nice repeat max can't be said enough

bingo bango "

but then i must insert my barb such as it is

"remember max
you got turkey roped over kosovo
the cry genocide rings
in many pearl like ears
freezes the non intervention instinct
in decent souls "

js paine:

rowan nice slide
on the jack ass
kicking of SNCC

"The Democrats don't fucking care about doing the right thing. They don't care about your pet projects. They don't care about proper uses of activism "

If those bastards (Kos etc. (almost wrote et alia there...oops!)) start going after FDR then i'll......
then I'll start breathing garlic breath on democrats in the street!
Just watch me
I'll do that!
p.s. And it will be really intellectual, Marxist garlic too!

js paine:

i love mike F

master of fork thru the hand table humor

FDR gave us Reagan, Mr. Curtin. Accept the pain. ;)


The Democrats have lost the concepts of the haphazard, Bismarckian cleverness that the Roosevelts possessed in spades. They don't get it at all, and when they see they don't like it a bit, but they still try to insist on the trappings of the patrician as populist.


I just re-read this -- what the hell, I was waiting for a bus, you know how it is -- and something registered: Kos' phrase

bloggers suck because they don't read "Marx" (snort)
Some puzzles here. Why the quotes around the old Hegelian's name? And what exactly does the 'snort' mean?

Maybe I have too much respect for Dead White Guys, but consider: "Plato" (snort) -- "Hobbes" (snort) -- "Locke" (snort) -- "the so-called 'J.S.' 'Mill'" (snort)....

Who does this little twittering creep think he is, anyway? Will anybody be talking about him a hundred years hence -- even to (snort)?


It takes a Kos to bring out the rock-ribbed conservatism of the left. I can't read his self-indulgent prattle without wanting to yell, "Hey! Yeah you, ya little punk. Get off the lawn".

js paine:

enough on that turf brained tot-skyite
from the xonian nethercape

lets talk about .....ME
and my generation

js paine:

indulge me
in a moments pedantry

but FDR would likely prefer an anglo precursor

but to find one
thats close.....
and not a damn blend
like a hollywood remake ...
some world historic anglo
to which mister new deal
could be a genuine avatar....

i like the look
of the younger Pitt perhaps
the friggin tory
(ah if only the poor sot had lived ...)
but no he won't do

i'd say gladstone
for obvious reasons of liberal conviction

but gladstone was
a self righteous victorian twit
like our st woodrow
oh well ....i'll think on it
and get back to u

to me todays dlcers
are plebs
merit lifted
to self purpetuating
elite crust status
yes they are
trying to run "things"
the entitled
and insucient sweep
of kraut junkers
and former patroonian squires
of westchester county

but they spell to correctly and their palms moisen
not their pricks


FDR, as far as I know, was not much of a scholar or much interested in anything but making things work out. He had a rather broader view of what that entailed than was typical for his class. Teddy I'm not so sure about. His crack about the "thin, vapid, affected, driveling little doodles" of the clergy shows an admirable grasp of invective, anyway. Both admired military prowess and an orderly society. FDR was keen on navies, I think.

The unification of Germany and the dominance of Prussia was big stuff back then. As was Bismarck's skill in deflating the left.


Though I also approve of anyone suggesting that Markos - "I'm a fan of anyone with a D at the end of their name" - read more critical theory.

He might want to start with something a little easier than Marx or Marcuse, though. Remedial Critical Thinking.

js paine:

and to thinkherr scrugmann
now bismark
is just a fatting dessert!!! ach !!!!

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