Watching events in Egypt, I couldn't help think of Tom Hayden's "movement politics, " as outlined in his book The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama. The Egyptian uprising unfolded so quickly, it seemed Hayden's principles, illustrated within accounts of the seminal political events of that decade (and a bit beyond), didn't apply. Then I took another look...
Hayden's book is centered on the argument that the movement politics that originated in the '60s brought President Obama to office. Even as the decade's political and cultural achievements -- a term used loosely -- were lost in the intervening years, the mechanisms that forced them were still in place.
Movement politics, as the name implies, come from acting, up out or sideways. Hayden defines it as the actions of groups sharing similar visions or issue positions. Certainly true among the young of Egypt. These groups form “when sufficient rage and frustration lead to a perception that all peaceful, legal means have been exhausted.” More true in Egypt today -- that sticky part about "rage" and "frustration" -- than it was during the 2008 election.
Of course, Hayden was speaking to America when the book was published in 2009.Some of his most important reminders are timeless. "Machiavellians" (his term) will always promote amnesia, something we've seen recently from Rumsfeld and others of his clique as well as in the Reagan centenary. Another is, "Domestic progress has been continually derailed by dubious wars.” his emphasis, not mine.
There's a paperback edition of the book coming in April. I'm hoping to see some newly updated material, or maybe additional chapters, on Obama's presidency, the role of communications technology in contemporary political movements and what the progressive response should be to the current Mr. McGregor's cabbage patch crop of right wing reactionaries. If there's no room for nostalgia in politics, then Hayden's thesis -- that the '60s continue -- is moot. But the principles still apply. In that, Hayden's proved right.