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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Net and the Left

There’s an interesting whirligig underway over at TPMCafe where a bunch of us bloggers are debating the extent to which the “netroots” represent a new Left-bent political movement. (My own post mainly suggests that the very nature of internet-based political discourse creates limits to its utility as an ideological vehicle, which is a good thing).But because the kicker-offer of the debate, MyDD’s Matt Stoller, conducted a drive-by dissing of the 60s-era New Left and its ultimate influence, the discussion veered off into all sorts of odd historical byways. It then exploded with a post by labor-left economist Max Sawicky, who defended the comparative value of the New and Old Lefts as compared to the Progressive Netroots. Two Max-imalist sound bites really got the juices flowing:”The ‘Internet Left’ is mostly a brainless vacuum cleaner of donations for the Democratic Party.””The 60s left read Marx, Trotsky, Luxembourg, Lukacs, Chomsky, Franz Fanon, Malcolm X, C.L.R. James, Ernest Mandel, Joan Robinson, Herbert Marcuse, Michael Harrington, Saul Alinsky. What does the netroots read? Don’t Think of an Elephant?”The furor Max unleashed spilled out of the comments threads and onto other sites, where battles over the obscure legacy of various New Left and Marxist organizations rage on.It’s good clean fun. And it’s interesting to see criticism of the netroots from the left. Check it all out.

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