Politics

Sign It and Move On

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Chris Hayes has written an interesting, balanced profile of the liberal cyber-group MoveOn, which is about to turn 10. Here's an excerpt:

In many ways MoveOn's relationship to its members looks a lot like a business's relationship to its customers. If a product isn't selling, they take it off the shelves. For activists rooted in an earlier generation of social movements, which tended to prize long, disputatious meetings and the unwieldy process of forming bottom-up consensus, this approach is at best alien, at worst insidious. Customers, after all, aren't part of the creation of the product: they're not running the meetings where new packaging is designed; their input is limited to the final result and expressed through the transaction of purchase. And the role of customer imposes no obligations. You are free to buy or not buy, or in MoveOn's case, sign the petition or not sign the petition. Oscar Wilde once complained that the trouble with socialism was that it took "too many evenings." MoveOn holds out the promise of progressive change without the evenings.

Reihan Salam has some sensible follow-up comments, and Jim Manzi adds that the group is "the Richard Viguerie of the contemporary era" — an especially potent comparison, given Viguerie's mixed legacy.

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