I created this blog site “Revolt to Live” one year ago. I did so because I came to the realization that every key social and economic problem that we face requires new, incisive questions, frameworks and experiments to solve. Qualitative change, in other words, is required to survive and flourish as individuals and as a species.
I began to ponder the question, “Why not create a life that’s in keeping with our potential?” Imagine a life governed less by economic scarcity, environmental degradation and cultural morbidity. After all, I reasoned, this is a unique time in history when talent, science, technology and money are available to save us from ourselves.
Coupled with this is the fact that so many people are trailblazing. They are busy charting new paths and experimenting with projects that offer us hope in practice. They know the difference between revolt and the qualitative change necessary to move history forward enhance life. They also know incremental change to maintain the status quo.
Some have sacrificed their lives to do what’s ethical and show us what’s possible. Many are in prison on trumped-up charges with no real evidence of breaking the law. Their only crime is reporting the truth or standing up to solve a problem head-on. Others have figured out how to create new projects of import with a minimum of pain.
Each of us has the potential to contribute to an era of courage beyond the current one of shame, which squanders opportunities to enhance life. The root of the word courage is ‘cor’ the Latin word for heart. It originally meant to speak one’s mind by telling what’s in one’s heart. You don’t need to be a mythic hero to make a difference. You just need to concentrate and make a commitment to change the world qualitatively, even if every act is only a step in that direction. The universal good can be found in an individual act.
While qualitative change is necessary, it is often difficult to bring about. Traditional ways of doing things, for example, are often supported by entrenched social and economic interests. When they are threatened, the police are called in to ‘quell’ what is usually re-defined as a ‘riot’. Then the press chimes in “the rioters are destroying private property”, even if it involves only 50 people out of a 5,000-person protest. The pundits, who are by now quite convinced that the ‘riot’ was part of terrorist influences, right or left, fill the airwaves with commentary. Few, if any, of the listeners or viewers can recall the actual issues addressed by protesters.
Creating the future in ways that enhance life also generates anxiety, as what’s to come is often uncertain. This is why voices for the existing power structure want us to believe that “things have always been this way”, “it’s human nature to be greedy” and “Things are the way they are because they are supposed to be this way—poor people are poor because they are lazy”, and “Temperatures on Earth have always fluctuated. There’s no cause for alarm if Earth heats up”.
A message that’s repeated to most of us daily is “shut up and shop”; and the advertising industry spends $400 billion annually convincing us to do so. Unfortunately, masses of people follow these instructions.
If this site has any objective at all it’s this one: following instructions provided by the powers that be—corporations, mainstream politics and education, and the rusty church—is not, repeat not, in your best interest. It will deplete your life of meaning and destroy our species in due time.
Michael Moore’s Fantasy:
There was a time when many of us who considered ourselves progressive looked to the working class as the so-called ‘motor of history’. No less a political economist than Marx carefully explained that workers who ultimately control the factory and means of production have the power to “throw off the chains” that bind them. The Communist Manifesto, in retrospect, reads like a Christian tract offering salvation to all who will listen and act.
Adam Smith, the original spokesman for capitalism, warned in the Wealth of Nations that the very division of labor—a narrow specialization at work—that enhanced productivity would turn workers into beings who couldn’t think straight or make sound decisions in a democracy.
Marx’s dream has all but disappeared and Adam Smith has proved to be a realist. Workers worldwide are fueling right-wing extremism. Sixty percent of white workers that voted in the recent U.S. Presidential election voted for Trump. The Teamsters Union, the largest union in the U.S. with roughly 2 million members, was debating who to endorse, Biden or Trump? They, for sure, didn’t support Hillary in 2016. I guess this can be a serious issue when your past record includes endorsing the likes of Reagan and Bush and failing to support labor strikes like the Air Traffic Controllers.
Workers, for the most part, don’t have a clue on how to build a more humane and genuinely productive future. They lack the imagination, and will to create an alternative to a social and economic system that’s failing them. They are too busy trying to survive economically, and fighting for more of the financial pie, disguised as benefits. The only thing that most workers envy about the rich is their money and trinkets; perhaps not even their control over time.
Michael Moore, a famous filmmaker and somewhat activist, is busy standing up for imaginary workers and decrying capitalism. Perhaps his $50 million-plus net worth would be put to better use by employing mass psychology programs to help workers grasp that they are trapped, that their leaders are helping to trap them and they, for the most part, participate in the ruse. It might be called the ‘Wake-up campaign”.
Consider that driving a truck, a respectable working-class occupation will be gutted as driverless trucks connected to satellites take to the road. Meanwhile, back at Teamster headquarters, those in charge will try to lobby against this technological change because they can’t envision a different future for their members. They are in denial of what’s coming, and what’s possible; ultimately they will be left behind in a pile of irrelevance, and unwanted leisure time.
Perhaps Michael Moore can cover the effects of this change, selling digital seats for those who see history as a retrospective event. It’s often easier, after all, to idealize the past than to create the future. Or perhaps he can film the Proud Boys and other racist working class groups causing violence and spreading ignorance. Whatever the opportunities to film reality, the era of a unified working-class committed to freedom is dead.
The Biden/Harris Promise:
Politicians have a special code of communication. President-elect Biden is a case in point. He has been careful to telegraph to us all what lies ahead. Listen carefully when he states that we are not the Blue states or Red States but all Americans; that small changes are the way the world works, ever forward.
This is code for incremental change. Like his predecessor, Obama, he’ll be lucky to craft a future that addresses our real needs. The social, economic, and energy revolution that’s required to survive will be reduced to ‘programs’, and ‘initiatives’ that “build-back better”.
No qualitative change here. Private markets will embrace Biden’s programs, as there is lots of money to be made. You can hear the market pundits now: buy solar, buy agriculture 4.0 and military stocks as we compete with China for world domination. It’s already too late for Covid-19 stocks as the premiums are priced in.
The real hope lies in revolt, with the progressives in the wings inside and outside the Democratic Party. They have the ability to propel the future forward in ways that solve problems for real, not kicking the proverbial can down the road. One can’t imagine any real change—any imagination and action about a better future— coming from the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer or any other brand of ‘liberal’ that’s comfortable with the status quo, with a bone thrown in for change.
After all, Chuck Schumer called the police on Occupy Wall Street, and Obama looked the other way as protesters were being arrested. When given the opportunity to choose between values and behavior, we need to pay very close attention to behavior. It’s a telling tale of what’s to come.
Without revolt in problem solving, policy and funding we will face four more years of incremental change, and deepening problems. This will result in right-wing fanatics sensing the liberal failure to create a new future. The Democrats and their agenda will get devoured alive in the near term and the next elections. These right-wing fanatics are active in the wings now and will seek to expand their influence through media and street violence.
Let’s all work to get beyond our individual and collective anxiety of change, and revolt to live. It is as essential at this time in history as clean air, and water that we all need to thrive.