Building A Movement: Beyond the Shock Doctrine


Naomi Klein is one of my favorite writers and one of her books, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, almost caused a fist fight to break out between me and my uncle.  (We have since made up!) It might be one of the most important books as we try to figure out this economic mess.  

In her recent Nation column, A Lexicon of Disapointment, Klein writes that:

 If the superfan culture that brought Obama to power is going to transform itself into an independent political movement, one fierce enough to produce programs capable of meeting the current crises, we are all going to have to stop hoping and start demanding. 

Sounds good to me, I guess. I do have a problem though with progressives who are always ready to jump ship on President Obama.  After suffering through twelve years of Reagan-Bush, the triangulation of the Clinton era, and eight horrible years of George W. Bush, lets give Obama some room to operate.  And then I found this column on

I quite agree with Klein’s belief that “demanding” is better than “hoping” when it comes to changing public policy. But where I get off her bus is upon her inference that we who are supportive of – and more happy than not about – Obama’s presidency somehow believe differently. Her claim only demonstrates her gross ignorance toward the important sector of the left (including parts of the Obama movement) that are community organizers. “Demanding” is necessary but without “organizing” to back it up it is merely an act of intellectual masturbation. It accomplishes nothing. It never has won a single battle. And that’s why, until 2008, the US left in particular – so busy demanding without doing the hard work of organizing – went through at least three “lost decades.” 

And that is an important point!  As much as I despise the influence of corporations, the religious right, the good ole Karl Rove/Newt Gingrich days, it is important to realize that they have so much power because they organized for it and fought for it.  Us on the left can sit back and denounce how evill and stupid these people are; but they are the ones–until recently–who have been succesful.  They have put there resouces into organizing.  

Organizing is not as fun at it looks. It is much easier to denounce and to demand than to organize.  But if we want to keep up the momentum of this moment then we need to   

organize.  And that is why Obama won. 



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