I've been arguing with Malcolm Harris and others in the comments at Crooked Timber, concerning his post about David Graeber and debt there. You might be interested in the argument. I like Harris, but he has a bad habit of using the idiom of revolution in his role as an advocate for the bourgeois. That's nothing wrong with that kind of advocacy; most media is devoted to it, after all. Certainly most of what I've written in my life is oriented towards the concerns of the middle class, being as it is my own. And here I am, expressing the need to take drastic action to reform tuition and student debt. I am, measure for measure, a creature of a particular establishment. But the language of emancipation matters, and it has to be applied with care.
The question I asked in the comments is one that is very important to me: how many Occupy protesters would, given the chance, immediately swap positions with the bankers they're protesting? I don't trust and have never trusted those protesters who are ultimately agitating against the outcomes of the system rather than the system itself. "The system is wrong" is a constructively critical statement. "The system doesn't hire enough people, or hired the wrong people" is a statement that reasserts the legitimacy of that system. Do I have personal sympathy for those laboring under student loan debt? Of course I have sympathy for them. I am them. And, again, I'm trying to participate in a national conversation as an advocate for helping them and future college students. But where my sympathy lies and where I think political effort should be directed are separate, and no genuinely critical discourse could fail to parse these differences. We are the 99%, but we are not all the same 99%.
The danger for the left-wing is not that it will be met on some battlefield and defeated by the forces of capital and reaction. The danger is that it will be co-opted, deflected, appropriated, misused. I have read and will read with interest Harris's writing on this topic, and I support the broad effort to alleviate student debt burdens. That effort cannot be used to distort our perception of who is on the top and who is on the bottom, the only political question of enduring meaning.