La Jolla, Calif.
Congratulations on your February 21 issue—most stimulating! Egypt, a left-wing Tea Party, feminism in Iceland and Marshall Ganz teaching us David sometimes wins!
The Egyptian protester shown carrying a cellphone instead of a gun?—it worked!
ROCCO J. COLELLA
Corporate Citizens: Pay Your Taxes!
Port Townsend, Wash.
Johann Hari’s “The UK’s Left-Wing Tea Party” [Feb. 21] is huge. Has anyone picked a target corporation and commenced action that we here in Washington can join? Let’s get it going!
Johann Hari’s article on protests against tax dodgers in England presents a great example of creative tactics largely using social media. What Hari does not present, however, is a credible organizing model for a progressive equivalent to the Tea Party.
First, the Tea Party may be odious and destructive, but it has a comprehensive political vision—eliminate social programs, shrink government, deregulate big business and let individual Americans do whatever the heck they want. Because of this clear vision, the Tea Party not only cast doubt on healthcare reform but pushed both parties to attack deficit spending, shifting the terms of debate.
The British protesters Hari describes are against corporations and the rich dodging taxes. But what are they for? Do they represent a pro-tax “movement”? Do they defend taxes for everyone, or even call on the government to raise taxes? Unlike conservatives, US progressives have long been hobbled by their lack of a vision on this and other issues. Organizing protests on Twitter doesn’t change this.
Second, there is a fundamental difference between mobilizing and organizing. “Mobilizing” means inspiring or provoking people to participate in an action. “Organizing” is a more sustained process that builds individual and group power to identify goals and engage in sustained action to achieve them. Mobilizing is thin and narrow. Organizing is thick and transformational. Both are important, but to suggest that some oppositional protests—albeit creative tactically—are the same as a more sustained ideological movement is like suggesting that going to a McDonald’s is equivalent to cultivating a farm. Empty calories can feel satisfying, but…