In his famous poem, “The Solution,” Bertolt Brecht joked that “the people had forfeited the confidence of the government” and it would be easier “for the government to dissolve the people and elect another.”
This has given me food for thought. I am in the USA for a few days and following what is going on here.
Not much has changed. The USA still has the best universities in the world but terrible schools. Many children graduate illiterate. There is a huge increase in addiction to pharmaceuticals. More hyperactivity. No free media (I do not consider propaganda-filled media to be free). Huge division along racial and ethnic lines. En bref, a country in crisis.
Two years down the line of the current administration and the Democrats and their mainstream media friends are still obsessing about Russia’s alleged role in the last presidential election. The recent reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee claim that Russia allegedly targeted African American voters and “exploited racial tensions and feelings of alienation.” They still naively believe that American voters were brainwashed by a foreign power to elect the president.
And, they make it sound as if the current political camps are divided along a line of good and bad folk. On one side is the camp of “civility” and values. On the other side, that of frustration and hatred.
This is so superficial.
I find it absurd and pathetic. Because they still do not get it: this country is where it is because of the system the Democrats and the media have helped to build. Instead of dissolving the system they would rather dissolve the people.
This is especially clear in the South; the Belly of the beast.
I would love to tour the South. I am curious about this part of the US that allegedly loves guns and Trump. The liberals see these people as a basket of deplorables. They accuse them of all kind of things: of being backwards; of having a “stay still, do not stand out, don’t cause trouble and be in by 10pm” attitude.
I look around and in so many countries I see one common denominator. A revolt of the periphery. From the election of Trump as president, to Brexit, Catalonia, the Yellow Vests… and I wonder if it is because capitalism at the periphery is always more drastic, more cruel.
People in so many places do not feel represented by the or their politicians. They know that it doesn’t really matter who they actually vote for because nothing much will change in their lives. Because the real power does not sit in the ballot box. It sits elsewhere. The power is in the global hands of big business and financial capital.
And into this post-democracy world, enter the so called “populists.” Or – as some call it – the “strong man politics.”
Why are they so successful?
It is because they have managed to raise awareness of the unprivileged? To shine a light on the story of those underdogs who have lived through conditions created by predatory capitalism? The story of people who have awful jobs in production lines and factories and supermarkets. People who believe that hard work will eventually make their lives and the lives of their children better.
Strong man politicians do not offer them alternatives. They merely respond to their feelings of exclusion. They give the people back their pride, or so it is portrayed, but in fact all they do is they give them back their illusion of pride. They offer them emotion.
It makes sense to me why the periphery vote the way they do. The status quo has made it impossible for them to dream of a different future, a better future, so they are forced to idealize the past.
It also makes sense to me why they do not respond to calls for solidarity. Solidarity cannot be ordered. The impoverished middle and working classes, who cannot afford much, feel forced to defend what little they have left and so they become radicalized through fear; the fear of loss. And then the rich and the privileged and the state (and the banks too) are already so powerful and wealthy that they direct their anger towards the weaker groups of society. Towards refugees and minorities.
So it makes sense but it is also worrying.
Worrying because these days, the people in the USA (and elsewhere) do not have a huge amount of choices. They have to choose between the neoliberals, aka deluded folk who offer a repetition of the same decade-long economic mess or the strong men. However, the problem is not the populist or the strong man politician (which merge in some cases). The problem is the economy and the economic inequality. The problem is Neoliberalism.
I want to help people to become revolutionaries in training.
I read a recent interview with Adam Curtis in The Economist (“The Antidote to Civilisational Collapse”). Curtis is a British documentary maker, who talks about a sense of doom and how nothing ever changes. I agree with everything he says.
We must stop believing that the current system is set in the stone with an inability to change. We must stop believing that what we have is the best possible system out there. We must stop claiming that the other side is bad or confused or brainwashed by fake news. Instead we must do more than just wave the flag of tolerance and civility. We must work towards offering a stronger political story.
We must fight against those who not only hold but hang on to power and wealth with relentless tenacity.
We must stand against neoliberalism and its global and regional institutions. We must offer an alternative democratic and socially-just society, one devoid of social democratic compromises (especially those with big business).
I have set up a new foundation to support activists and other revolutionaries, it is called Tenure. We are planning radically great things.
But more should be done. There are those in academia who are offering an alternative for economy, there is a new manifesto of French economists. Very interesting.
The future will be either revolutionary or reactionary.
I also want to gather other artists and creative people, smart people, to think big. Think ambitious. Let’s do our manifesto for the revolutionary future and ponder how to put it into practice. I want to gather people who are able to accurately describe society. And then, we can CHANGE the society. I have so many ideas.
It depends on us. There are enough resources to build better alternatives.
I want to build the revolutionary future. And dissolve the SYSTEM, not the people.
Are you with me?