When is a conspiracy not a conspiracy?
My favorite conspiracy site has been harping on the ANSWER coalition and its fragmented politics as the reason why marches on Washington don't go so far.
But I have a history lesson and a complaint about Leftist politics in general: why they tend to fragment, why coalitions are hard to build. The Left, Leftist journalists, Leftist historians, all of us, love a good conspiracy story. But as a result, we tend to fall into the hermeneutics of suspicion -- seeing conspiracies even within our own ranks. Lumping in a thousand different messages at the anti-war march. (and then, if you run with it, accusing the thousand different messages of the anti-war march of being enemy plants by Republican spies.
The origins of this way of thinking, historians think, go back to Karl Marx trying to figure out why the Revolution didn't come in France in 1848.
1848 was actually a true conspiracy between different monarchical and bourgeois factions, cleverly getting rid of the proletariat barricades and swiftly moving the country in a direction where memory of revolution could never come back. But Marx's essays on 1848 became really influential among the Left -- still are -- and they're all about figuring out how somebody's not on your side by the fact that they marginalize your interests.
So that logic applies in the case of 1848, where there's clearly a takeover of some sort going on, and a lot of aristocrats promising one thing but doing another; but in many, many other revolutions, you simply have true believers (some of them aristocrats) who are trying to make practical deals with other interests (rather than necessarily evil deals), or simply sideline their other affiliations in order to present a coherent image of the movement to the public.
Anyway, the result is that the Left tends to resort to proving its earnestness by constantly proving that its affiliations are pure and diverse. Hence the "out of Palestine" signs at ANSWER, if you want my guess; probably one of the friends of ANSWER was a pro-Palestine activist who said something like, 'you'd be exploiting all of our dedication to your cause if you don't bring up the *true* issue here. What are you, a bunch of anti-Palestine conspirators? Suppressing the truth?'
I've had similar poisoned fractions pulled so many times on the Religious Left. 'How can you call yourselves progressive Christians unless you're lobbying for gay marriage?' -- well, I've spent plenty of time lobbying for gay marriage and will again, but I was trying to have an event where we invited moderate Republicans *just to admit* that Christ hates the fact that we're mean to poor people.
It ought to have been the easiest liberal coup to pull. But pulling coups at all would require a kind of coherence and collective action that our movement rarely has.