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If this is the future of the left-of-center, then there isn't much of a future left. And those in power know it.

I've been thinking about the recent rise of the Jacobin magazine, or rather, who's been promoting it. The magazine has been recommend by conservatives like Ross Douthat, who used it to show "how much room there is to the left of the current Democratic Party" in the "neo-Marxist reaches of the Internet." Similarly Reihan Salam has cited it as has the Washington Post. The biggest promotion of all came with a full profile in the New York Times.

It's telling that an ostensibly radical publication is getting recommended (not scolded or ignored) by the establishment media. Indeed its success is based on it, at the time of the NYT profile it only had 2,000 digital and print subscribers.

Compare this with something like The Real News Network, an independent television news station which had its first goal of 50,000 subscribers five years ago and has since been promoted by everyone from Gore Vidal to Phil Donahue; but strangely has not been fit to print anywhere.  

I should say some of the stuff in the magazine is quite good, this includes (but is not limited to) an analysis of labor struggles in China, the future and politics of scarcity and a history of collective joy. But little to none of that work is being promoted.

Instead, what's being shown is what the editors call the "Jacobin perspective," a kind of intolerance towards much of the left and a self-marginalizing defense of violence. These include for instance the editor Bhaskar Sunkara deriding "anarcho-liberals" (an ambiguous term aimed at the majority of the left) or a defense of Jacobin terror and violence generally (although to their credit they did feature replies to the latter).      

What emerges is a picture the establishment media wants to show, a "left of the Democrats" that consists of snarky liberal-hating leftists who want a violent revolution. Something that, not surprisingly, only feeds the right and marginalizes the left.

This also isn't limited to the Jacobin, there has been an increased interest in a fringe group of dumpster-diving lifestyle anarchists called Crimethinc that are famously hated by the vast majority of anarchists, let alone everyone else. And by chance, the two intersected with Jacobin giving space to the "anarchist perspective" of someone who signed a Crimethinc petition. At the same time the managing editor of Jacobin allegedly blocked someone for trying to engage in an actual discussion about anarchism (the kind that's less about smashing windows and more about Bakunin and Kropotkin) on twitter.  

As the magazine likes to say, it is a reflection of the post-Occupy consciousness and whether it rises or falls depends on that. This brings up the future of that consciousness. While some of what it does is good, Jacobin has taken up the role of acting for the establishment by editorially promoting views that harm the left.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  special thanks for the links (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Moniker

    i'm not sure what the point of the diary is,

    the right commentariat admiring the jacobin magazine is suspicious to us on the left?

    but am looking very much forward to learning from this diary, about the magazine, and even more ehrenreich's book and the subject of collective joy

    •  To answer both comments (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know if their the "right" commentariat but they are the ones with power and influence and are showing the self-marginalizing side of Jacobin (unless a defense of violence etc. would be considered helping the cause).

      To the question of the Overton window, promoting Jacobin wouldn't just lead it to the left but to the authoritarian left.

      That could be a whole other huge discussion but at the very least we can say that having young people join "vanguard" groups would do a lot to marginalize the left.

  •  Thanks for the perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes, Jeff Moniker

    I've checked the magazine out already and found it well-written.  Of course the name is provocative, but since I WAS a Jacobin at one time (and frankly, I don't repent), I looked for substance rather than image, and found it.  I do think there is a need for more attention and serious thinking on the far left at a time when an Eisenhower Republican can hold the Presidency as a Democrat and be criticized on the right as a "socialist".  We need to move the Overton Window.  That said, I'll take your point under advisement.

    Libertie, Egalitie, Fraternitie . . .

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