Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Million Joans

On Friday, as the new President was preparing to brandish his clenched fists to the meager crowds
on the national mall, a smallish group of dissenters gathered in Malcolm X Park not far away to listen to speakers, singers, and Native American chants, preparing ourselves for a march downtown and years of resistance to follow. Behind us stood a statue of Jeanne d'Arc on horseback and she was draped in a blood red ribbon that read "Resist!" The lovely spiritual chanting below her statue appears to have beckoned forth her spirit because, by the following day, Washington, D.C. and cities all over the globe were swarmed with women filled with that spirit of resistance.

For a quick refresher, Joan of Arc was a young lady in pre-renaissance France who left her home in the South at the behest of heaven-sent voices instructing her how to lead her countrymen against the British invaders. With great determination and courage she rallied French defenders and saved her country from a lasting defeat. She was eventually captured by the British and burned at the stake. Perhaps her wandering spirit has found our current dilemma to be suitable circumstances in which to complete her unfinished business. It wouldn't be the first time the French have pulled our nuts out of the fire.

The particular nuts currently at risk are those that contain our freedom and democracy. Fascists now hold the two highest positions in our government. Since most of Congress are complicit with the corporatocracy, they aren't about to object to this momentous shift in rulership. The only way left to eliminate this threat is to multiply the power of the people. Without a change to more democratic leadership, our country will be locked into a state of depravity and remorse for the remainder of the century.  Anne Applebaum in today's Washington Post writes:
Indeed, it is likely the Trump administration will be remembered around the world as the tipping point, the moment when U.S. influence, which always had a base in ideas and morality as well as economic and military power, finally went into steep and irreversible decline.
"Tipping point," in this context, would also correspond to the climax of our fourth turning crisis, a  key catalyst to the tipping point being the ideological split between the administration and the polity. TRump is ignoring the clear signs of popular dissent. Our best hope would be that Congress would do its job and side with the people, curb executive power, and divorce themselves from industry special interests. What do you want to bet on that happening?

We cannot afford eight years of institutionalized fascism, even as an expedient to defeating Islamic terror, because it will indelibly debase our national character. The resolution to our crisis will probably necessitate a radical realignment of government under a new constitution. The Green Party has made a great start to shaping such a constitution with their ten key values and democratically generated party platform. On the other end of the spectrum is the likelihood that fascism runs its course and our Constitution is repeatedly sullied by the President, lawmakers, and the courts, to the point that it becomes a dead letter. In that case, the crisis resolution could be ushered in by a new, far less democratic constitution replacing the tattered ideals of our founding fathers. I choose to defend the Constitution against foreign and domestic enemies by resisting the fascist threats posed by our leadership and their enablers.

Mild, but important, methods of struggle include the mentality that Charles Eisenstein promoted in his speech on Friday: "Don't owe, won't pay." Another, more comprehensive, theme of lifestyle change is captured in the meme, "Turn off, tune in, drop out." The result of a massive movement to wage a boycott against the fossil fuel economy would be to provoke an economic crisis rather than a political crisis that appears unwinnable. Yet, too many Americans are far more inclined to be happy idiots, struggling for the legal tender. Instead of tuning in, they've tuned out from democracy, and voted their pocketbooks for a carnival barker who offers boundless prosperity. In any case, economic detachment is not enough to bring about the revolution we need.

In our resistance march on Inauguration Day, a much repeated cadence was, "What do we want? Justice! If we don't get it? Shut. It. Down!" To me, that translates to a call to class conflict of the 99% against the privileged few. "Progress" that serves the interests of the 1%, and not that of the majority of citizens must be opposed, disrupted, and halted. Institutions that support the status quo by benefiting top executives and the system, but degrade the environment, abuse or exploit workers, or aggravate other societal ills must be vanquished or reformed. The costs of stranded assets should not be counted, especially as the benefits are immaterial to most of society.

Many who see the clear and present danger of fascism have turned to more direct means of fighting for the environment and against industrial growth. Water protectors have placed themselves in harm's way, most notably at Standing Rock. There are more uprisings being prepared, one on the Klamath River in northern California. After the Women's Marches yesterday that woke up the people, we need to give all of these activists, and many others who will join, activities to continue with. We also need to steer them away from identity politics and into the common causes of our earth, democracy, and freedom from tyranny.

Conveniently for me, there is the Cove Point LNG plant a couple of miles from my house. It may not matter that natural gas reserves are probably grossly overestimated and that the plant may never ship any liquefied natural gas. What may matter more is that resistance to this and other harmful projects is visible, ubiquitous, and vocal so that the people will keep waking up and not go back to sleep until we have shut it down and rearranged the social contract with government in order to preserve our democracy and life itself.

Featured Post

A Coming War We Must Strive to Prevent

S ome anger smolders over generations. It depends on the offense. Whatever the eldest of the Paddock boys endured because of his father'...