Sunday, February 28, 2016

Up With Outrage!

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.

 That's the message we're getting today from the mainstream media in the wake of Bernie Sanders's terrible, horrible, most epic defeat ever in the history of political history. It is the sad duty of the Punditocracy to gleefully inform us that Bernie has been smashed into South Carolina roadkill by the unstoppable Hillary Clinton juggernaut. And just on the off-chance that he's still barely twitching, there's always Super Duper Terror Tuesday. That is when Hillary's metaphorical drones are poised to finish the job with the old one-two punch, aka the double-tap. They hope to finally render Bernie and his swarms of crazy unicorns into naught but a warm fuzzy pink mist of a memory.

But not so fast! We haven't reached the lowest circle of hell just yet. We're still breathing and intact, despite that vaunted Firewall.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of what is essentially a rigged primary process orchestrated by a corrupt party machinery, there is nothing that says the revolution cannot continue. I've said right from the get-go that we mustn't put all our eggs into one Bernie Basket. Let's face it: political parties, especially the Democratic Party, have historically been where popular movements go to die. 

Dejection is the enemy. So is cynicism. The powers-that-be are extremely and inordinately anxious to curb our enthusiasm. And since widespread enthusiasm and trust in a Hillary Clinton presidency is not yet in the offing, despite her very best efforts to portray herself as Wartime Granny Populist, they'll use the fear card to get our votes. Elect the Lesser Evil if you want to survive Benito Trump: that is the not-so-subliminal message of the Clintonian neoliberal thought collective.

And that brings me to Henry A. Giroux, prolific author and public intellectual. In a Truthout interview coinciding with the publication of his latest book, America's Addiction to Terrorism, Giroux says:
We no longer live in an age of long-term possibilities. The certainties of a long-term job, a better future and hope have disappeared in the age of what Zygmunt Bauman calls liquid modernity. We now occupy an era of precarity, uncertainty and insecurity. Yet, these conditions do not constitute some inevitable historical evolution. They are politically and socially constructed and just as they were made by human beings, they can be unmade. I think it is precisely this concern about imagining a future that is not a repeat of the present that offers an inroad into addressing the current crisis of historical and political agency at work in the United States. I'm concerned with how you mobilize existential despair away from a paralyzing cynicism and depoliticizing dynamic into a sense of political outrage that can be marshaled into collective action. Trauma is not a psychic phenomenon alone, but can also be a steppingstone to mobilization.
Henry Giroux (who is not endorsing any particular candidate) lists three essential methods by which we can overcome the existential despair that is the byproduct (and pretty much the intended purpose) of neoliberalism: 
There are three pre-requirements for being able to think in utopian terms - that is, in terms that are capable of producing a militant form of hope that not only imagines a better society but also inspires collective action based on such desires. First, a utopian imaginary must embrace history as a resource, willing to engage its "dangerous" memories and to use it as a resource for challenging those discourses that have frozen the present. Second, educators, artists, intellectuals, workers, young people and others must find a way to construct not only a discourse of merciless critique but also a discourse of possibility. Thirdly, politics has to be reinvented so as to recognize that power is now global and that politics is still tied to nation-states.
There's a lot more to the interview. Read the whole thing, and you will probably not only feel better, you'll feel energized and inspired. Better yet, you'll feel the outrage. It's the perfect antidote to the gloom and doom of the New York Times and Politico and the entirety of the corporate owned media/political complex, which would like nothing better than for us all to lay down and curl into the fetal position on the yellow line in the middle of the neoliberal highway to hell.

We must not give in to despair, no matter the outcome of any one election or endless series of elections. Onward and upward!

For your further viewing pleasure and energization:


Ste-vo said...

Thank you for this, I needed it.

For me, it has been a bizarre day. Long story short. My wife and I were away yesterday, returning home about 10:30 PM. She immediately said good night and went to bed. I check email. I had a NYT News Alert: Hillary Clinton wins South Carolina. I typed a comment and went to bed, to finish "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" by Joan Didion! This morning the comment was approved and posted. Here it is.

"I am beyond incredulous that Black South Carolinians have embraced HRC. I cannot believe it. I can't. To think that because she has aligned herself with Obama and they took it hook line and sinker makes me think we in this country are in more trouble than I thought."

As of right now, its received 317 recs and 24 replies, and some of the repliers are replying to other repliers.

I have just finished 45 minutes or so of phone-banking for Bernie. I made 50 phone calls and stopped because it is approaching the dinner hour and I know how much I hated a phone call at dinner. I jotted down some notes. I had two comments I felt especially egregious, but it is what it is. One woman, in a raspy smoker's voice said, "Oh give me a break, he is too old to be president." A man, older, said "send him back to Israel."

But, cynicism keeps growing, and I know that that is wrong. So thank you for reminding me not to give up in despair! Yes, onward and upward.

Anonymous said...

@Ste-vo: I had to comment. For the last 30 years, I've kept a copy of Didion's "Slouching" near my writing table. Whenever I come to a dead end with something I'm writing, reading a few pages unblocks me. Maybe its magic qualities help unblocked your own optimism!

Great column, Karen.

annenigma said...

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy

Shame on the Democratic establishment and their corporate media business partners for not heeding the warning of their favorite son. I guess that's what clinging to money and power does.

William Neil said...

I liked it.

Jay–Ottawa said...

At around minute 15 Giroux talks up the idea of starting debating societies in every high school. Why? Because the young he's encountered from debating teams who contact him are alive. They think, they're excited about ideas and, clearly, they are not part of the American zombie population multiplying. Debating inoculates them against the zombie affliction Giroux laments. That's one prescription for finding a way to pull youth away from drugs, indifference and their so-called smart phones and into the social arena to debate what must be done and how to do it. Silent majorities will be the death of us all.

Debaters go on to argue in other forms. Greenwald, as everybody knows, was a fierce debater in school. Now look at him. Nader, Hedges, Giroux––what they are doing is debating. So was Ashley Williams last week when she confronted Hillary Clinton. Debaters have a way of getting in your face so that right and wrong can be identified, because such matters can never be ignored for long. Commenters here, in the NYT and elsewhere––are doing it too, debating ideas. In comments we can easily separate the mad and the unsocial from reason and caring.

Truth and reason have an innate power, Gandhi used to say. Of all times, this is a good time to test his theory. Learn the skills. Join others to boost your courage. Keep throwing facts at the powerful. Wake the conscience of selfish elites and prod the zombies to listen up.

Pearl said...

In Bed with a Nation-Wrecker: 5 Ways Hillary Is As Bad As Bill -

Great article from Common Dreams. Thank you Jay for another comment to raise our spirits.

Bill Sprague said...

Zombies they are. They are selfish elites, too. And there's another ancient expression that folks have used for 1000s of years: "... it takes one to know one..." Bill was a liar and HRC certainly is one, too. They are not only wrecking a nation but they are wrecking democracy.

Pearl said...

Meredith: Wonderful response to Blow's I am not a Superpredator. Deserves many more check marks. Karen, please put it on our website.
And Rema Regis also had an excellent comment right after yours describing Hillary's unprepared response to Ashley Williams.

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl, thanks for the mention...I asked:

This is the choice the world’s greatest democracy, and richest country gives we the people? We must vote for a Dem centrist/ Repub-lite Hillary, just so we won’t be ruled by an egotistical, exhibitionist incipient dictator who tweets approval of Mussolini’s statements, and attracts Klan supporters?

I must ask ... Just who are the 'Super Predators' now in our political system??

Re Hillary 20 years ago, she should explain just why she wouldn’t use those words today. Her husband should explain why he now says his expansion of prisons and 3 strikes laws was ‘a mistake’. If views change, enlighten the public, don’t force activists to publicly challenge her.

Hillary fans keep saying she has supported minorities, and championed children and health care, etc. Where are the concrete results? If they exist why aren’t they all over the media, that's obviously on her side?

Krugman was silent about Sanders 60 to 38 win in NH. But right away he eagerly proclaims Hillary’s SC victory--it's a done deal.

Meredith NYC said...

Any way to get into your blog the priceless New Yorker cover Feb 1st?
It shows history’s US presidents appalled and scowling while watching Trump mouth off on TV.

This week's cover, “Bad Reception,” by Barry Blitt:

Terrific, varied expressions of dismay and alarm on the faces of Washington, Lincoln, TR, FDR and JFK. My fav is FDR whose open mouthed shock at Trump makes him lose his grip on his trademark cigarette holder as he watches Trump speak.

“In most historical portraits, presidents are noble and dignified,” cartoonist Barry Blitt told the magazine. “My biggest challenge was to alter the presidents’ expressions to make them reflect attitudes of consternation.”
Teddy Roosevelt generally looks angry and somewhat appalled, so he was the easiest.”

The faces of those presidents show the undermining of every hard fought/won American ideal and the cover is apropos for many other candidates and presidents, not just Trump.

Meredith NYC said...

Ste-vo....I admire anyone who does a phone bank stint. I tried it and it wasn't easy.

I too can't believe SC.
... "To think that because she has aligned herself with Obama and they took it hook line and sinker makes me think we in this country are in more trouble than I thought."

Ben Jealous wrote a terrific email for supporting Sanders, and Spike Lee and Ta nahisi Coates and others support him.

I'm going to look at the Didion book. Thanks.