The Corner

Gitlin’s Predictions

If Bush wins reelection, Todd Gitlin predicts a demoralized — and potentially violent — left:

Many activists, novices and veterans, will despair, or wrestle with despair. They will entertain wild, secessionist fantasies, or claim they’re on the verge of moving to old Europe. Morosely, they will remind themselves that Republicans have triumphed after the grandest Democratic-liberal mobilization in decades. They will lack a theory of history that injects them with confidence that, despite defeat, the wheel will eventually turn their way.

So, politics altogether will seem to be blocked. Dropouts will multiply. In this overheated atmosphere, I would not be surprised to see outbursts of political violence the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Weather Underground of the 1970s. The commitment to marginality in much of the antiglobalization movement would take on a tang of negative logic. The master argument will sound like this: What else you got, you so-called practical types?

The practical types had better be practical.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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