In their articles today on how "the left" is failing under the Obama administration John Judis and Glenn Greenwald decry the lack of a mass popular movement agitating all political actors, including President Obama, to enact a specific policy agenda. However, the decentralized, self-producing, public sphere multiplying reorganization of our society brought on by the self-publishing, network neutral Internet is in direct contradiction with the vision of a discrete, hierarchical organization working to enact specific policy agenda. That just isn't going to happen anymore...
As such, even mass membership institutions themselves will be variable in how, and why, they continue to operate. Their goals will be vague, and even those vague goals will not be fixed. This is less comment on the state of the American Left than it is a comment on broader changes in our largest cultural institutions. There is simply no way for the sort of left-wing movement implied by Judis and Greenwald to come into existing given our larger societal trends.
An interesting take on social movements in the Internet Age -- basically, the type of hierarachical, top-down organizations such as a political party or a membership organization (like the NAACP) will become less relevant for Progressive political action and a diffused, decentralized network will take (or has taken) its place.
I am taking the discussion out of Open Left and bringing it here to MOA to get a feel for how a more racially diverse and politically independent audience might see this argument. Do you agree? Is "movement" obsolete for Progressive politics and activism is best channeled via a decentralized, diffuse network? Can such a diffuse, amorphous network of people be effective in enacting policy changes and forcing political parties to take it seriously if it is not organized in a way traditional organizations are organized?