Before we dive into the focus of today’s post, I wanted to remind you of a couple of events coming up this weekend.
Retake on KSFR, 101.1 FM, Sat., June 22, 8:30 a.m. An interview with Castile Aguilar, Kendrick Many Mules, Fernando Borrero, and Bianca Sopoci Belknap. Castile, Kendrick and Fernando are youth climate activists trained by Earth Care in community organizing. Bianca is the Co-Director of both Earth Care and New Energy Economy (not sure how she does that). Together they outline the beginning thinking of how to form a local Sunshine Movement authentically led by youth and people of color and organized around building local action in support of a worldwide General Strike on September 20. We will have other Earth Care activists on in a few weeks as we approach the first large community organizing meeting on Saturday, July 13, 2-4pm at 1420 Cerrillos.
Chainbreaker Collective Assembly, Sat., June 22, 8am-5pm (8-9 am breakfast) at Santa Fe Art Institute, 1600 St. Michael’s Dr., Santa Fe. We’ve been supporting Chainbreaker’s efforts to expand affordable housing in Santa Fe, more of an ethical and moral responsibility than a practical housing issue. Working with local and national partners for months, they’ve been preparing a plan for the use of the midtown project aka Santa Fe University of Art & Design, as an opportunity to implement a vision that emerges from the surrounding community and responds to the extraordinary need for low and very low-income housing in a development that forges an authentic, sustainable community. They have prepared a full day session with a series of mini workshops focused upon: Affordability, Quality, Sustainability and Health, Accessibility, Fairness and Equity, Stability, Permanence, and Protection from Displacement, and Community Control. Expect a lively and fruitful day. Housing is a right, not a commodity. Have your voice counted in the decisions being made regarding Santa Fe’s greatest community asset in a People’s Plan for the Heart of Santa Fe. As always, food will be provided. (Please note your dietary restrictions in the registration link.) Bilingual Program (Translation Equipment Provided). In order to provide childcare please provide number of children in your care, their names and ages in the registration link. Register by clicking here.
Inaugural Ripple Feminist Forum. Surfing the Waves: The Women’s Movement Past and Future. Saturday, June 22, 4pm-6pm, James Little Theatre, 1060 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe. Ripple will dive deep into the issues surrounding what is commonly framed as the first, second, and third waves of feminism. They will discuss the lost historical narrative of women of color’s integral role in building the women’s movement, to better understand where we’ve come from. They’ll also look at what worked, and how those ‘waves’ shaped the intersectional grassroots organizing led by millennial women in the current iteration of the movement. There will be time for audience participation and discussion on how we can work together to build an inclusive and strong feminist movement. Click here for more information and bios of the speakers for this event
Painting Parties for Teresa Leger de Fernandez, candidate for District 3 congressional seat, Sunday, June 23, 1:30-3:30pm, and Thursday, June 27, 5:30-7:30pm, Wise Fool Studios, 1131 Siler Rd, Suite B, Santa Fe. Ignite your personal inspiration and make signs in support of Teresa!
A Fork in the Road: Liberation or Complete Economic Servitude. Our Choice–Maybe
I am most grateful to Henry Giroux, whose work in Truthout I have always appreciated, but his most recent piece, Let’s Shut Down the Authoritarian Regime, is truly remarkable in its command of language, laser-like focus on modern trends and how they echo past horrors and, if not stopped, portend an unimaginable future. He has an astute ability to connect the dots of modern history, dissect how Trump could have happened and, most importantly, how Trump and capitalist fascism must be countered. Giroux refers to our times as the Age of the Jackals and after reading his work, I feel that the term actually understates the degree of depravity involved. Rather than rewrite what Giroux has written, I am going to cite a few trenchant passages and direct you to the article itself, which more than warrants the ten minutes it will take to review. We need to understand the depth of what is happening and has been happening in order to learn from it and change it.
I have not read The Terror of the Unforeseen, but I’ll be calling Collected Works to order it.
Giroux goes on to point to how capitalism and its increasingly unsubtle manipulation of the truth has begun to close the shades on the human imagination, the ability to even consider alternatives to the neoliberal fascism that is emerging.
We now live in a world in which there appear to be few alternatives to a ravaging global capitalism — a world in which existing authoritarian societies announce themselves as the only viable reality. Under such circumstances, it may appear that all that is left to choose from are competing fictions. This is an age dominated by dangerous narratives that are free of evidence, that bulge with misrepresentations, and that are adamant about destroying any semblance of not just truth, but morality, social responsibility and justice.”
As the boundaries of the unthinkable become normalized, language becomes emptied of meaning, filled with the blighted values of commercialization, the lure of the spectacle, and the ever-growing registers of corruption. Language has been turned on its head to mean its opposite. “Freedom” now often signifies the freedom to hate, “work” now often means wage slavery. Individualism is now defined exclusively as a part of an ethos of ruthless competition, self-interest is the enemy of solidarity and compassion, and social atomization, bolstered by an emphasis on individual responsibility, is elevated to a virtue, all while “justice” is used to refer to legal illegalities….Trump represents a reemergence of a past that should terrify us. Trump’s ultranationalism, racism, policies aimed at social cleansing, his love affair with some of the world’s most heinous dictators and his hatred of democracy echo a period in history when the unimaginable became possible, when genocide was the endpoint of dehumanizing others, and the mix of nativist and nationalist rhetoric ended in the horrors of the concentration camp.
Giroux goes on to point to how those in power know no limits to their greed, pointing to how three white American male–Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett– possess more wealth than half of the humans in the entire world. And astonishingly, while a handful of progressive leaders from AOC, Elizabeth Warren, to Bernie Sanders and alternative media have been making this very well understood among some, the mass majority either do not understand, do not care, see absolutely no avenue to address the injustice or are working so hard just to survive they have no time or energy to devote to understanding and then opposing what we face…. But neoliberalism and our collective somnolence has costs.
Consider the consequences of neoliberal policies that operate according to the idea that economic and property rights are more important than human rights. Such policies refuse to recognize health care as a basic right that should be free, deny tuition-free college, obstruct laws for raising the minimum wage, and denounce necessary environmental reforms such as the Green New Deal. Meanwhile, these policies maintain massive degrees of inequality, as millions of Americans are forced to choose between food and health care, between paying their bills and medicine, as they work 80 hours a week simply to be able to survive.”
And in two excerpts Giroux strikes at both the heart of the matter and our role in opposing the wave of authoritarianism that is engulfing us. [Emphasis mine/]
The power of the Jackals is intimately connected to their ability to produce disimagination machines, cultural apparatuses that both normalize their putrid ideologies of privatization, deregulation, unchecked individualism and commodification, and close off the possibility of imagining new radical horizons. What must be remembered here is that neoliberal fascism cannot be understood narrowly as simply an economic system. It also functions as a form of public pedagogy and mode of persuasion and rationality intent on naturalizing its own worldview. Most importantly, it works through a range of cultural apparatuses to depoliticize by colonizing justifiable forms of mass anger and redirecting them into cesspools of hatred aimed at those populations considered disposable.”
However, we must also look forward. There is no sense of agency unless individuals can imagine a future in which a democratic socialist society matters and is worth struggling for. The first step in getting rid of the Jackals is to build a strong anti-capitalist movement, one capable of uniting a vast array of social movements under the banner of a radical socialist democracy. The war against the Jackals and their neoliberal fascist societies needs to call for a deep restructuring of power outside of the ethos of capitalism, a restructuring not afraid to call for a democratic and political revolution. No form of resistance will succeed without developing a new narrative, language and politics willing to link struggles for political and economic change with struggles for social equality and social justice.What is needed is a language of militant possibility: what Gregory Leffel calls a language of “imagined futures,” one that “can snap us out of our present-day socio-political malaise so that we can envision alternatives, build the institutions we need to get there and inspire heroic commitment.”
“The crucial lesson here is that without informed citizens, a critical press and critical agents, the power of democratic institutions along with established checks and balances wither, and the threat of 21st-century authoritarianism becomes more imminent.”
And so here it is that Giroux defines the critical importance of those who are “woke,” as so many sleep comfortably as we float towards the unimaginable. I’ve long asserted that our only path to reversing our sliding into uncontrolled authoritarianism is for those awake to waken those who sleep. Perhaps Retake needs to hold a training on how those who are awake can convene house parties that have no overt political purpose, just a chance for groups of friends to gather, and then the hosts subtly unfold in some form what you’ve read here and what is delineated in the Retake post on the New Normal.
The point here would not be to invite the friends you know who are already aware of the path we are on, but those who are not. No doubt, your friends will feel duped, but the truth is that they are already being duped and there is simply no other way to engage and activate those who are sleeping through this than for those who are not to give them a nudge.
Anyone out there interested in helping design the elements of such a house party or anyone out there who reads this and says: I can’t really commit to designing such a house party, but I could be convinced to host one, please let me know. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Truthout, The Nation, and Intercept and have a jaded view of our future, but to me it is clear that unless an army of us take personal responsibility for converting a dozen or two folks from slumber to anger, we are simply going to continue on this merry path to the unimaginable. Please use the comment function below, to provide comment. Am I crazy or over-obsessed? What are your thoughts on generating an awakening? Or do you feel the post over-states our situation? We want to hear from you. And as I often ask, but it rarely occurs, please share this with a few folks you know who you suspect are not Retake subscribers and ask them what they think.
Click here to review, In Search of a New Normal That Is Actually Normal, a recent Retake Our Democracy post that could be viewed as background to Giroux’s work.
Click here to read Giroux’s entire article.
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Election, Political Reform & National Politics
As a strategic planning consultant for some 40 years in both the Global North and Global South (public, NGO and private sectors), the pattern of Trump’s fascism is an obvious one.
Yes, but what is not so obvious is how that path to fascism began its construction over 40 years ago.
Great blog, Paul. Your points are well taken and vibrant.
A favorite: how do those who are not ” woke “transition from slumber to anger? That’s what we need; more of this, certainly. A righteous anger.
Ask me about a house party or meeting in our home sometime, in Albuquerque.
Thank you both, Paul and Roxanne. 🙏🏼
– Dana Millen
Hi Roxanne and Paul. As the bard once wrote, something to this effect: Our faults, dear Brutus, lie not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ If and when one becomes literate, to some degree or another, one dares to take on the unimaginable reality that the further we go down the rabbit hole, the deeper it gets. There just is no bottom to get to. All we do, intellectually, is describe the journey downward, and what the inside wall of the hole looks and feels like.
No one escapes the rabbit hole. Gates, Buffett, Bezos, bozo the clown, Putin, Manson, Machiavelli, Mother Theresa, Mickey Mantle, my aunt Mildred. There is absolutely nothing but quiet desperation for those who chose the descent into that void. For some, the ride down is on the backs of many others, attempting to cushion the blow of that imagined final stop by crushing out the lives of others. Then there are all the others, clawing, scrambling, slithering, screaming, crying, fighting, murdering, or, banding together, choosing sides, creating enemies, choosing friends, shopping for the right colors, languages, religions, philosophies.
But all are just wasting time and taking up space. When you become literate, you realize you are in the wrong place, certainly at the wrong time, and you just don’t like the feeling of being insane 24/7. So, you find the least conflicted route back toward the top of that hole, and it is not easy, or quick, or certain that you will get there.
But the other option is, of course, madness, and, being literate, you have a fair idea that choice is filled with woe and misery.
Being literate is either an accident, or a choice, or better yet, providence. It gives you the opportunity to think, to reason, to observe, delineate, analyze, stumble into self-realization, self-awareness, and, if you are extremely lucky, discover humility. You have earned the right to discover how pitifully small you really are, as a human, a human who now knows that every single thing is all of a piece, one strand in the whole cloth of existence. You now know the reasons why the rabbit hole is always full of pointless, pitiful drama.
So, you tell others about it, on the way out of the hole, on the way down (while looking for a handhold), and if and when you get back to the top and meet others on their way into the hole. You discover something really important during this struggle. There is no certain method, or language, or scheme, or policy, or rhetoric, or gimmick that will get through to any or all of the humans you have met, are now with, or may be with in any future. You have your literacy, but that is not enough.
Regardless of where you are, or where the future is heading to, or how good or how bad any or all conditions might be, you have to find one other immensely valuable quality. You must find compassion. You must find it inside yourself, and why it is there, and what its function is. Then, and only then, will you find love for others.
As to your ‘party,’ it sounds like an invitation to go down the rabbit hole. For me, I just use any opportunity, at any time, in any location, to be literate with humans, especially strangers. Many times, I find it much easier to love a stranger than someone I know to some degree or another. I feel compassion for them because I know they are a part of the same whole cloth as me.
So I just begin to communicate with them, to throw the dice, to take the chance, to risk putting them off, or find the crack in time between two worlds where companionship can exist, and I can relax and just be myself, and feel love for them. It just happened for me tonite, at supper, and it was a great encounter, which is why I am writing this missive to you just now.
I am going to modify Ghandi’s statement a little bit. Everything you do in this life is insignificant, that is why it is extremely important, at any time, in any location, in any situation, for any and all reasons, that you do it.
Universal life force energy is present all around us, and it drives the life that is our planet, and imbues all of our companion plant, animal, algal, fungal and bacterial ancestors and current neighbors. This is where compassion exists. I love the planet that has given me life, with every fiber of my being. That is why I will take any reasoned risk to save it. And if reason is absent, I will just go for it, because look at what Earth has done for me. It is a no brainer.
This is tough.