William James’ idea of the need to create a moral equivalent of war first struck me, decades ago, when I read about it, as about as sensible an idea as inventing a new way to punch yourself in the face. This was not purely because times have changed, because weapons have become more powerful, because the earth’s climate is collapsing, or because nonviolent activism has become widely understood as requiring courage, sacrifice, camarderie, dedication, discipline, and strength, without any of the counterproductive murder, maiming, destroying, occupying, hating, looting, pillaging, or stupidity.
“We are not fighting against men or a kind of politics but against the class which produces those politics and those men.” (from Dirty Hands, a political play by Jean Paul Sartre, first performed in Paris on April 2, 1948.)
Our society is besieged by a series of interconnected crises. Millions of people around the world know this and are crying out for change, for a different way of living, for justice, peace and freedom.
Overwhelmed by anxiety and image insecurity a friend’s 20-year-old daughter recently quit her university course and withdrew to her bedroom where she took to self-harming. Company and environments in which she felt emotionally secure became harder to find, until she stopped venturing out all together.
The American high school dropout is an unconscious revolutionary. Instead of casting aspersions upon the dropout, we should attempt to decode this behavior that is condemned by parents, school authorities, educational experts, religious leaders, politicians, and peers. To understand the distress of the American high school student requires us to examine the politics of quitting school. Leaving school is a political act. Its political causes cannot be investigated in a context of isolating and blaming the individual.
Reject the glossy and sensational for the gritty and educational. Wean your mind from corn syrup and eat your vegetables. We have become a diabetic, cancerous, obese, depressed, anxiety attack ridden culture from the consumption of glitter-sugary corn syrup politics, sound-bite news, vacuous entertainment, and catch-phrase economics. We are commercialized right down to our souls from our mega-churches to our worship of wealth to our brand cults. It is killing us and our world.
THERE IS A growing suspicion among many people involved in movements against war, for social justice, and for an ecologically sustainable society that capitalism can only create a world of war, injustice and environmental destruction. There is widespread and growing understanding that the current social order cannot continue without catastrophe occurring —yet we lack a vision of what might replace it.
Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger: A History of the Present, discusses the poisoning of civil society and undermining of political liberty that is fueling “a global turn to authoritarianism and toxic forms of chauvinism.” RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at how the New Deal saved the U.S. from political anarchy.