Dialog with Mark Whitaker


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 08 Jun 1998
To: •••@••.•••
From: Mark Douglas Whitaker <•••@••.•••>

rkm had written to Mark:
   > In my own analysis of `revolutionary potential' to overthrow
   > elite hegemony, I identify _factionalism as being perhaps the
   > single most difficult obstacle to overcome in order to achieve
   > `revolutionary consciousness' around _any new societal vision.
   > People talk `within their own circles' too much... until dialog
   > begins to cross ideological boundaries we remain divided and
   > conquered.

        I quite agree. To advertise again (;-), this was one of the
rationales for penning the CDI--to embed different groups together in some
degreee in an urban context, because I was inititually worried about the
increasing social bifurcations in not only this country but worldwide, and
what I saw as its failing ability to adress democratic and equity issues
successfully.  I wanted to stir up the pot--but in a way that the people
themselves could keep the stirring continuing, as well as in a way that
would lead to moderation in politics instead of reactionary politics.

        I have already found out that my defintion of moderation is perhaps
quite different that what it normatively representsin public speech--the
status quo. Personally, I consider the status quo as a very radical polity
indeed. It fails to deserve the term 'conservative' or 'moderate.' If there
is one discourse switch I would feel be of great use is framing the
existing status quo as a radical and one sided policy. It keeps us from
being looked as as 'revolutionaries' (not that I care about that
personally, but the middle classes and other classes which we will in the
end be appealing to will make this distunction the basis of their adherence
to any politics, because they don't see themselves as radicals.), and more
as 'reformers,' though I feel that you and I both know that democracy on
the scale we would envision certainly would be a 'revoltuionalry' anomaly.

         There has already been sentiment on this list (of all places!) of
middle class identies being bristled or feeling out of their 'culture.'
"You're being so negative." OR "I'm worried about this 'cadre' feel." OR "I
think we should look at Ghandi/King. . ." This shows just how much King's
intentional double image has been swallowed completely, someone who was
probabaly thinking in terms of Marxist categories, and calling the civil
rights movment 'the class struggle' in private. Ghandi was not the saint he
has been homoginized into being, for the sake of co-opting his radicalism.
Basically, Ghandi LOST. His 'work' is carried on in religious communal
organization and NGO's in Sri Lanka and India (Sarvodaya). Nerhu was the
one who won. Ghandi was so anti-West anti-science anti-nation-state and
genuinely vedantic radical that he wanted nothing to do with Westernization
at all. Let this be a lesson. Power wins. We have to find a way to disrupt
power, since we lack posession of it and would probabaly refuse it if we
had it anyway.  But in disrupting power, on the other hand, we should
respect that a society will only go so far before it will want 'normalcy'
even if it was a prison, it was a form of security.  If we upset security
issues, we will have lost. We have to walk between these two poles.

Mark Whitaker
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Dear Mark,

Thanks for your cogent and informative remarks, and I hope you don't mind
me sharing them with the rn and ppi lists.  (I snipped out the more
personal stuff.)

You open many important threads in the short piece above, including the
meaning of radicalism and conservatism, the legacy of King & Gandhi, and
the question of `double images' (ie, is it appropriate to have one ideology
in ones `inner circle' and another for the `public').

You mention CDI (a societal scheme of your own) only in passing above, and
I'd like to comment on that.

In terms of education of the public, it seems to me that there are `stages
of consciousness' that must be reached, more or less in sequence, before
any particular individual can move toward effective revolutionary

     1) an understanding of how the current system works, behind the
        facade of media lies and official deception.  People need to
        realize they're being manipulated, controlled, and exploited --
        and that under capitalist rule conditions will get much worse --
        before they'll be motivated to consider `different futures' or
        `doing something about it'.

     2) an understanding of the range of alternatives, not only theoretical
        but from hidden history, that are available to us.  This includes
        accurate information about past movements (eg, your comments on
        Gandhi & King), about Cuba, about Madisonian democracy, about the
        co-optive nature of social-democratic parties, about anarchist
        approaches, etc. etc.

     3) finally, a serious consideration of political strategies and
        specific schemes for societal regeneration.

Increasingly, people generally are becoming knowledgeable about (1), as
globalization tightens the screws on all of us, and as Internet opens up
the floodgates of information.

But (2) receives not nearly enough attention.  Readers and writers alike
too often jump from disgust with (1) immediately into some particular
scheme in category (3).  This, I believe, is largely responsible for
rampant factionalism.

In your comments above you are focusing on (2) and I find this very

in solidarity,


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