In the hour or so before the crowd began to move at the Women's March in Washington in January 2017, there was only an enormous mass of people, formless. People pressed together, pushing you, surging and ebbing, strangers so thick you couldn't move: your cell phone didn't work, you couldn't reach your pockets; and until you were able to force your way to the thinner bands near the crowd's edges, you were always getting accidentally pushed, stepped on. But there was something odd in these fleeting physical encounters with strangers. You'd exchange a glance, touch a shoulder, make out a face—then the face would be gone, swallowed back into anonymity. The affect of these encounters was charged, everybody I know attested, with what people could only call love, the group energized as though by electricity with common cause. Whatever it was, this cruising,...

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