Six years is an eternity in politics. Consider what was common opinion at the start of 2016: That changing demographics in the United States favored the Democratic Party; it would soon be impossible for Republicans to win a national election unless they sharply changed from their primary strategy of sending dog whistles to their base of conservative white people, a dwindling percentage of the U.S. population.
On May 22, 1856, Preston Brooks, a Democrat from South Carolina, beat Charles Sumner, a Republican from Massachusetts, with a walking cane on the floor of the US Senate. Brooks was a pro-slavery lawyer with a history of violent altercations. Sumner was an outspoken and passionate abolitionist.
Sixty percent of the U.S. populace backs Roe v. Wade and just 27 percent back its undoing even as the nation’s right-wing Supreme Court is strongly predisposed to reverse the decision by next summer. Where is the call for millions in the streets to defend women’s right to control their bodies over and against this anti-democratic outrage? Where is the uprising against a government structure and social order that permits this and numerous other forms of authoritarian insanity? It’s shocking to hear liberal talking heads say (basically) “oh well there goes Roe v. Wade for a generation, until we can get the votes and a better court back some day.” Are these shrugging accommodationists aware that the nation’s right-wing Minority Rule party is actively and effectively working (in the name of “stop the steal”) to permanently suppress and nullify votes and elections and policies that don’t go their patriarchal, white-nationalist way? How do they not understand that, as the leading feminist and communist Sunsara Taylor notes:
Many people, especially those with eyes open to the ravages of capitalism, know what they don’t want. Fewer know what they do want. That is understandable, given that the task of building mass movements on so many fronts is daunting. But while what is meant by the creation of a better world can’t be precisely the same for everybody, movements nonetheless have to have some basic concepts of what a better world might look like.
There is a line I keep seeing repeated on social media. It goes something like this: “They are allowed to decide what is acceptable to post and what is not. It’s free, after all.” Things like that may make snappy and snarky comebacks to people complaining about internet censorship. Only it isn’t true. Not by a long shot.
The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow is, I think, a terrific contribution to human knowledge and guide to pursuing more of the same — as well as a notable accomplishment for the Davids of the world, who have perhaps been falling a bit short lately. A few of the points it documents and persuades of are:
Liberals and progressives would do well to understand that while class is not everything – far from it, as I shall argue below – there are still no real or lasting solutions to problems that rightly agitate them under capitalism and bourgeois democracy, that is, under the de facto material dictatorship of the capitalist class and its mode of production.
Slavery lives on in U.S.-American life, crippling “our” supposed grand “democracy” in numerous ways. The massive wealth, income, and health gaps between Black and white Americans and the related persistent segregation and mass arrest and incarceration of Black Americans cannot be properly understood without reference to the two and a half centuries in which Black Americans were enslaved.
Winds of Change, the third part of the trilogy that began with The Dandelion Insurrection, is so rich that I simultaneously want to share it with every visionary changemaker I know, while at the same time rereading it over and over until I absorb every drop of wisdom, hope and strategy into the fabric of my being.