movements and counter-culture, part deux – an argument with my guy david s meyer
Last week, I asked if it was true that left social movements were counter-cultural. A lot of the debate seems to revolve over whether there is a mainstream culture or average voter. For example, David S. Meyer wrote in a comment:
The average opinion isn’t the average person’s opinion, and I’m always wary when reading about the American public as a singular noun. On abortion, for example, I’m sure you can choreograph a majority around the safe, legal, rare principle you articulate, but not a huge majority.
A few responses to David and the other folks who wrote other comments. The issue isn’t whether there is or is not a single mainstream culture. Rather, it’s whether movements accept or reject what most people believe is mainstream culture.
For example, if most people believe that “serious people” wear a coat and tie to work, then a movement that shows up to lobby Congress in Birkenstocks and tied-dye shirts will be at a disadvantage, even if the modal person may in fact wear these items. Returning to David’s example, maybe it is the case that there is a more widespread distrust of abortion than one may suspect. But since the average voter (and yes, the modal voter) believes in some form of legal abortion, a movement that thumbs its nose at the majority is at risk. Just ask Richard Mourdock.
I’m agnostic on whether left movements are intrinsically counter cultural, but movements definitely can be counter-cultural (or not) and they suffer, or benefit, from that position.
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