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Sunday, June 14, 2009

American Stranger has a good post up about the responsibilities and privileges of pundits with regard to other people's political struggles, motivated in part by some conversations he and I have had recently about events like the Iranian election protests.

But the point is there’s a relationship between wanting freedom for others and claiming freedom for oneself. Especially for anyone who considers themself a radical egalitarian, in this world siding with a national party should always be the option of last resort. I see no reason to voluntarily submit to the stupidity of bad against worse in another country when most of us are already pressured to do so in our own. It’s not ’strategic’ for an actor in the spectacle (a blogger, say) to compromise his or her political or moral views to vicariously ‘participate’ in other peoples’ struggles. Defending Hamas or Hezbollah’s resistance (an extreme example) to Israeli aggression makes the defender neither a subject nor an official ally. On the contrary, protest is necessary when your country is vicariously participating in other peoples’ struggles. Solidarity is with people. Not their twitter profiles and not their states. I find it a pretty warped idea of politics that refusal to make a show of submission to someone else’s authority, especially when there are no material consequences for oneself either way, should be looked on as weakness, incoherence, dilettantism, or ‘bourgeois’ vanity. The opposite is closer to the truth — it is after all the MSM’s favorite propaganda tool to associate its critics with imaginary cabals, while affirming the ‘true desire for freedom and democracy’ of ‘the people.’ It’s the mark of the uninformed pundit to think of everyone else as the conscious or unconscious minion of a higher power, and of himself as a ghost.