Hit & Run

Two Cheers for Barbara Ehrenreich

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So the blogosphere's all atwitter over Barbara Ehrenreich, and while I'm not about to dive into the several rounds of back-and-forth we've already got there, the Nation article from 1997 that inspired the bruhaha, reproduced here by Brad DeLong, is pretty interesting. In it, Ehrenreich urges a move away from the pursuit of "economic justice" by political means in favor of a focus on "our own brand of [civil] libertarianism" in the political arena and private, grassroots, civil society efforts to organize the badly off via unions or (she doesn't say, but it would follow naturally enough) mutual aid societies. With some very minor reservations, this sounds like a great idea. If the energy and brainpower devoted to trying to get government to help people were channeled at the local level to actually helping people on the ground, we'd all probably be happier.