I've had only a few minutes to peruse the following article: Why Aren't Those New Millennial Liberals Protesting a Shutdown?
It is the dumbest question that I have seen raised thus far during the government shutdown debacle. For some reason, the author seems to misunderstand both the generation and the nature of the battle. Those who are actually liberals, as opposed to leftists (and that is a very important distinction to make) have a different idea of activism than many of my liberal friends and acquaintances from what amounts to a generation ago. In this day and age, an activist who is attached to the Democratic Party and regularly reads and posts to blogs like Daily Kos is probably convinced that retweeting, sending emails through organizations like MoveOn.org, and such is sufficient for changing the world. There is an open derision to actually getting into the streets and holding signs and yelling. They may have dug on what some of the Occupy message was all about, but they were and still are more interested in coopting that message into the confines of the contemporary Democratic Party, which has been a largely neoliberal, somewhat centrist party for at least the last two decades. As for the sorts of leftists who would make up Occupy, why would they get involved in something that seems like a partisan squabble, and one in which they were already shut out long ago? I think many of us who are in the anticapitalist left have decided that this is not our battle. We have much more important battles instead. We might take the streets, but if we do, it will be specifically in the service of a cause devoted to ending economic and social inequality, not propping up a party that has been at best ambivalent in its treatment of those who are most in need.
Look, I would love to see the left involved in the nuts and bolts of government. However, between our historically being shut out of power by the two major parties and a very unfortunate aversion to power that many of my comrades seem to have developed since 1968 (and we need to get rid of that albatross), involvement in Capitol Hill matters is not going to happen any time soon. Asking us to stand with the Democratic Party will be a difficult proposition - liberals and leftists have historically been hostile toward each other. I have seen absolutely no evidence that has changed in recent years. Although I could imagine conditions under which a Popular Front approach might be advisable, we are not yet in that moment. There will be some serious arguing I suspect to even get to a point to where we could bridge the gap that exists between us. A barely read blogger like me will not be the one who facilitates that series of conversations. Leftists will undoubtedly and correctly insist on being treated as equals and not as a bunch of aimless hippies (seriously, the 1960s was a long fucking time ago). There will also be some concern on our part that we will merely be coopted into a party machine that has no intention of acting on the sort of real changes we want to see.
As for Occupy - it has had the same problems that all spontaneous movements have historically had. Lenin had plenty to say about that - I would strongly recommend What Is To Be Done as a text that offers ideas that could be adapted to our own particular circumstances. In the meantime, expecting the anticapitalist left to be some sort of Tea Party equivalent is silly and counterproductive.