Monday, March 19, 2007
The fascinating aspect of this kind of message board control and survey manipulation, which, by the way, is nothing new, is the extent to which it creates the illusion that MoveON.org is an organization that makes decisions according to a process of grassroots consensus.
On Sunday, MoveOn distributed a survey asking its members to vote on three options: support the Pelosi bill; oppose it; or "not sure." MoveOn's Eli Pariser described the survey in an email as an opportunity for members to participate in "a big decision coming up this week. ... MoveOn is a member-directed organization - we believe that all of us, together, are smarter than any one of us." In fact, however, MoveOn's survey was designed to conceal from its members the option of supporting the stronger anti-war amendment put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
There are, of course, other ways of running a survey. When TrueMajority.org recently surveyed its members about the best way forward, they offered three choices: the Lee plan, the Pelosi plan, and the option of demanding that Congress reject any further war funding, period. Only 24 percent of TrueMajority's members supported the Pelosi plan - which appears to be the reason why MoveOn's survey gave their members no choice but the Pelosi plan.
Even MoveOn's rules for the war's fourth-anniversary candlelight vigils expressly exclude anything specifically aimed at ending it. "There are many ways to commemorate the war anniversary - but MoveOn and other coalition members are coming together around solemn candlelight vigils," explains their website. "Events other than vigils that honor the sacrifice of our servicemen and women and their families will not be publicly posted here."
In fact, MoveON.org, to cite Noam Chomsky, manufactures consent within the boundaries established by Pariser, Joan Blades and their allies within the Democratic Party. It is the political equivalent of an astroturf group, a fake grassroots organization created by a corporate lobbyist or public relations firm to create the impression that the agenda of their client has broad based public support. One wonders the extent to MoveON.org has engaged in similar survey practices on issues such as health care (has MoveON.org surveyed its members about the suitability of a single payer system?) and media consolidation to align its grassroots base with the carefully calibrated policy decisions of the Democrats.
It is especially ironic, because liberals, as a means of concealing their inability to participate in any movement that supports the Palestinians, consistently reviles ANSWER for being a hierarchical organization that makes decisions and imposes them upon participants according to a vanguardist Marxist-Leninist model. Or, to put it more bluntly, ANSWER is Stalinist.
Yet, with MoveON.org, Pariser, Blades and the Democrats have implemented a Marxist-Leninist approach to political organization that has been far more effective than ANSWER could ever imagine. MoveON.org is basically the liberal wing of the Democratic Leadership Council, making sure that liberals, if they were so inclined, do not wander too far away from the pro-war, pro-business platform of the party. Just remember, when the attack upon Iran happens, MoveON.org played an important role in manufacturing liberal consent to finance it.