Ah, the shame of self-promotion.
I do not like to promote myself or my work. I always believed that good work should speak for itself. However, in the ‘click-bait’ world that we live in now, if you want to get into the heads of the masses, you have to know a little something about marketing.
This is one of the few areas where Trump truly excels — and I do not.
When I entered the site of the first stop of my tour — if you want to call it that — it clearly was not a sellout crowd. John Jay College in New York City was not awash with Leftist revolutionaries and philosophers looking to buy my book. It was not awash at all. It was dangling, so to speak, on the proverbial thread of irrelevance.
It was hard to tell I was in New York after I stepped past the uniformed officers of color into a sea of white and much-older faces than I expected. It seemed like the South Florida of the Left — where we all go on vacation and to die. Yes, there were books for sale (old people do read after all), but many of them were leftovers from a bygone area: a book about the tragic case of Troy Davis comes to mind.
The most visible leftovers from a bygone area would have to be the half-dozen or so socialist groups leafleting and tabling throughout the Forum. I wanted to remind them that it does not inspire trust in the revolution when the revolutionary parties are more numerous than the dedicated membership of any single one of them. Every so-called revolutionary wants to be in the vanguard but no one wants to be a foot soldier for a cause greater than himself: like removing perhaps the greatest threat from the Right this country has ever seen instead of quibbling over Lenin vs. Trotsky. In the words of Trump: Sad!
It also does not inspire trust when the ‘vanguard’ takes issue with Bernie Sanders not being socialist enough when he, unlike any of them, can actually produce a dedicated following. That following came dangerously close to winning the Democratic nomination in 2016. When will the revolutionary Left realize that ideological purity does not matter if you never win? And noble defeat doesn’t apply if one stubbornly refuses to change tactics and thus ensures further defeat.
I recognize I am being harsh, but if the Left could not agree on Bernie when there were two choices and Hillary when there was one, then there is little hope indeed. The Left would quarrel with Karl Marx if he crawled out of the grave to lead the revolution himself. They would likely not find him post-modern enough.
But back to the Forum. I was further dismayed that it continued the same flawed tradition of accepting almost any proposed panel or workshop — at the cost of being unable to generate a sizable audience for each of them. My own panel suffered the worst from this. Why does there need to be more than one feminist event at the same time in a forum of only a few hundred people who are (allegedly) in ideological agreement? I guess it would be too much to ask the organizers to combine like terms — because one and one don’t always make two in the post-modern world.
Unification would certainly would have helped my cause. If I’m going along for the (five-hour bus) ride, I hope I can at least talk to ten people about a project that took more than a year to complete — especially one that cuts to the core of the contradictions we face as citizens of (failing) empire: Why did more than 50 percent of white female voters vote against their own interests? Why did the sane citizenry not unite against Trump in 2016, and why can’t we do so now? Uniting against a common enemy is one of the oldest lessons of literature (see TV), so why can’t a ragtag bunch of Lefties get behind Bernie, the Russiagate strategy, or even the “new strategy” that served as the tagline for the Left Forum this year?
I still don’t know what that “new strategy” is, but even if it exists — let’s pretend it is also coherent and achievable — it would never be followed by more than a smattering of the revolutionary Left. I could argue it would be followed if it were written on two stone tablets, but unlike the Right, the revolutionary Left has no god (or even country for that matter). The revolutionary Left follows whim and fancy instead of leaders or holy writs. Individualism at its finest. A stone tablet for each.
So I come full circle. I do agree with my revolutionary socialist (not to be confused with Sanders-style socialist) friends that we need more collectivism in this country. We need solidarity more so than identity politics if we are to defeat our powerful common enemy. But what we don’t need are any more under-attended, under-organized fora. We don’t need any more celebrity activists who sell gloom and doom at a premium and call it anti-capitalist revolution. We don’t need empty defenses of autocracy (read the far Left’s Putin and Assad apologias) masquerading as anti-imperialism. We don’t need a lack of unity and coherence so astonishing that it is impossible to study the program closely enough to determine what all the events and speakers have in common.
We also don’t need to lose yet another fucking election.
Oh, and here’s my book again: http://www.cambridgescholars.com/trumpism