Response

Response

Todd Gitlin seems more worried than I am about the political impact of English departments and art galleries. To my delight, however, on most other issues we seem to agree: that the achievements of group-specific movements are many and overdue, that multiculturalism is politically important for reasons of equity, that movements should avoid being hostage to leaders, and that opposing issues of recognition to issues of economic and health equality sets up a false dichotomy.

We also agree that political good will is worth little if it does not accomplish change. Clearly, not enough energy on the left in recent years has gone to promoting visions and projects that might bring together a majority. I think the problem has less to do with ideas and rhetoric than with organization. The progressive public responses to the health care debate and welfare repeal were weak partly because there was little organization in place that could begin mobilizing people. In both cases organizational capacity had to be built after the issues hit the national public agenda, where they moved very quickly.

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Lima