by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ August 26, 2020
I refuse to say this is complicated. It is a struggle, but I am going to avoid saying that. Instead, let me present the essence of a grave problem that we are facing that you may not recognize. This problem could be a solution in disguise, but it does have troubling aspects and layers of contradictory meaning.
There was a time in America when the primary goal of a young educated person often was public service. Depending on the specifics of an individual’s education and professional goals, there were few more respected careers than the US State Department or US Civil Service.
While many people ended up in the business world, the most sought after careers were in advertising and marketing. These were creative and offered good income potential, but greed was not a goal that anyone would claim. There were growing problems that are played back to us now in entertainment about that age of advertising. Racism and misogyny were foundation principles in that time and would metastasize over the following decades into a spreading cancerous culture that we are unlikely to survive.
But that was the age of The Best and the Brightest. The result was the Vietnam War and the destruction of a generation’s ideals, at least among those who became involved and were unable to, proudly, escape. This betrayal of a portion of the Boomer generation helped open the door to neoliberal greed and cynical denial of communal ideals in late 20th century America.
My main point is not that betrayal itself as that is another topic, but the loss of trust and depiction of government services as somehow un-American. It has been three generations with no option but a truncated goal of wealth by any means and the growing realization that much like the Colorado River, the stream runs out in the desert before it gets to the most of the farmers. Millions have come to see all work as the same with no opportunity except gig work and sacrificing any hope for security or your children’s well being.
The only national goal is massive wealth if you are lucky enough to have a chance to scam yourself to fortune. If you’re not that lucky, perhaps you can steal yourself sufficient dollars to fake a wasteful lifestyle. The highest praise goes to those who succeed in truly massive waste. Look at those connected to the Trump regime, and you see the results.
No wonder the only healthy community development is now recognized as Black Lives Matter related or the broad Antifa movement that very loosely links almost everyone who isn’t already a racist, fascist or white supremacist. We all experience the pain of exhausted or nonexistent communities offering nothing but display vehicles in their driveways.
A community is more than a geographic segment of a city. Communal sharing, something that has surprised people with its importance and happiness in the lockdowns of the pandemic, is the foundation of human wellbeing. Clubs, American style churches, and local athletics do provide elements of this. Still, those are limited and often usurped by propaganda and the same diseases that infect our cultures today. But they have no public role.
What is missing is communal ownership of our local resources and shared responsibility for the administration of our communities. Think about that. People in the US identify with their local governments but have no identity with or trust in the regional or national governments. Our youngest generations know they will get nothing, so why hope? We are responsible for that.
That was not accidental. The powers that came to dominate the US government, and many states worked to destroy that community and that trust. The goal was the elimination of the power of the people in a democratic society. Nationally that was the goal of the very wealthy, predominantly racist, who worked to kill our communal power so that the productivity of the people flowed only to them. The only offering to the population was the elimination of manufactured fear of all others. They are not like you, and they should be hated. They are communists or darker-skinned or speak different languages, and you should never trust them.
In a democratic socialist system you would have to share power with people different than you. You don’t want that! It is better to let those who rule keep you frightened and subservient. Freedom, then, is the freedom from the fear pumped into your life everyday until you become exhausted with every possible imagined fear. Give up and let us plunder, the Trump message such as it is.
We see this in full, bold form with the Trump regime and the Trump party that makes no pretense of any policies but whining fear. They have eliminated any policy platform because no policy could be articulated that would not outrage and frighten the electorate. Of course, that is why they have worked from the beginning to eliminate voters and foster racism in our culture. Now there is no longer any need even to pretend. The propaganda uses keywords to trigger fear and anger, but there are no keywords to trigger hope. Their efforts to fake those come across as absurdities.
The spectacle of the Trump Convention is appalling and pathetic, but that doesn’t matter. When you have lost the concept of communal ownership and responsibility because it is an evil trap and the only reward is a distant hope of massive wealth, you are powerless. The only shared feeling you can have is fear of losing what little power remaining in your community. That, too often, then is the power of denial and isolation that destroys all hope.
The national recognition of Black Lives Matter comes from seeing communities facing up to murder and brutality by refusing to give up. The Black communities in this country have to rely on themselves from the beginning because they could not count on any rights. That they could do this gives the rest of us pride and hope that we didn’t know we had lost. What replaced this for America is a sham and a lie. Now a deluge of lies and police threats is the answer. No.
We, all the people in all of our diversity, must take back our communities. We need to rebuild a new plan from local, direct democratic rule to a planetary alliance of real communities that both own their resources and can be responsible for those resources use and that community’s wellbeing on a sustainable planet.
The grave problem at the start of this is correctable by giving our youth work in our local communities at a living wage. The devastation of the old economy will continue. The lies about a return to the old unsustainable economy and the failed political system are only lies. That failure needs to be corrected locally in every city and metropolitan region by investing in our youth with the idea that the most worthy goal is community service. For many years the US Peace Corp taught thousands of people that while putting them around the planet to learn from others.
The power and wisdom, motivation, and energy that came from that are what is hated and viciously destroyed by the people we have allowed to take control of us for forty or more years. They have almost succeeded in killing our last feeling of community, not based on fear and greed. The Black Lives Matter movement is giving us our final chance to survive. How big and fast can we grow that?