Progressive movement and transformation

The reemergence of a Democratic left will be one of the major stories of 2014. Moderates, don’t be alarmed. The return of a viable, vocal left will actually be good news for the political center. For a long time, the American conversation has been terribly distorted because an active, uncompromising political right has not had to face a comparably influential left. As a result, our entire debate has been dragged in a conservative direction, meaning that the center has been pulled that way, too…the new militancy on the Democratic left is a consequence of a slowly building backlash against the skewed nature of our politics… the Democratic left is animated by the battle against growing inequality and declining social mobility — the idea, as [Senator Elizabeth] Warren … her allies are not anti-capitalist. Their goal is to reform the system so it spreads its benefits more widely…And here’s why moderates should be cheering them on: When politicians can ignore the questions posed by the left and are pushed to focus almost exclusively on the right’s concerns about “big government” and its unquestioning faith in deregulated markets, the result is immoderate and ultimately impractical policy. To create a real center, you need a real left. The resurgent progressives By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, January 1, 2014

Collective imagination emerges when people find strength in collective organizations, when they find strength in each other. Justice is never done. It’s an endless struggle. And there’s joy in that struggle, because there’s a sense of solidarity that brings us together around the most basic, most elemental and the most important of democratic values.” Henry Giroux Being interview by Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company, November 22, 2013

…if we take seriously the basic moral principles at the core of modern philosophical and theological systems we claim to believe in, in light of the data on social injustice and the serious threats to ecological sustainability, these questions should be central in the work of intellectuals…intellectuals…help us deepen our understanding of how the world works, toward the goal of shaping a world more consistent with our moral and political principles, and our collective self-interest. What are the forces that keep people, especially relatively privileged people, mute in the face of such a clear need for critical intellectual work? …I suspect that a desire to be accepted by peers is at least as powerful a motivation for intellectuals to accept the status quo. Humans are social animals who generally seek a safe and secure place in a social group, and there’s no reason intellectuals would be different.… When one’s professional cohort works within the worldview that the wealthy and powerful construct, the boundaries of that world seem appropriate. Curiosity about what lies beyond those boundaries tends to atrophy. Those forces have been in play for a long time, but another potentially crucial factor is the way in which confronting the reality of injustice and unsustainability can be morally and psychologically overwhelming for anyone…Intellectuals are in the business of assessing problems and offering solutions…to be a responsible intellectual is to be willing to get apocalyptic, and the first step in that process is to give up on the myth of neutrality. Intellectuals shouldn’t claim to be neutral, and the public shouldn’t take such claims seriously. American Intellectuals’ Widespread Failure to Stand Up to Billionaires and Authoritarian Power By Robert Jensen, AlterNet, July 5, 2013 

…We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world… A deep grief over what we are losing—and have already lost, perhaps never to be recovered—is appropriate. Instead of repressing these emotions we can confront them, not as isolated individuals but collectively, not only for our own mental health but to increase the effectiveness of our organizing for the social justice and ecological sustainability still within our grasp. Once we’ve sorted through those reactions, we can get apocalyptic and get down to our real work…to get apocalyptic means seeing clearly and recommitting to core values…we must affirm the value of our work for justice and sustainability…Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities—those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult—not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous…To adopt an apocalyptic worldview is not to abandon hope but to affirm life…By avoiding the stark reality of our moment in history we don’t make ourselves safe, we undermine the potential of struggles for justice and sustainability. Get Apocalyptic — The Case for the New Radical By Robert Jensen 

…Reality does shift, not merely on its own but as a result of determined minorities who learn how to use the lever of social action…Now is the time to choose our future… This means thinking big: embracing a vision so enormous it overflows our sense of the possible…The lever, [Judith Hand] says, is “people power”: the strategy and tactics of nonviolent action of all sorts. The fulcrum is any weak spot in the existing power structure, any shameful but unchallenged absurdity of power (e.g., segregated lunch counters, the British salt tax). The weight put on the lever to dislodge the fulcrum could, perhaps, be called applied moral authority… The Lever of Social Action by Robert C. Koehler

Can National Grassroots Push Depose the ‘Billion Dollar Democracy’? 

Chris Hayes: Bring on the upper-middle-class revolution!

Popular Resistance Is Percolating Across the Country — Inspiring Activism That the Corporate Media Always Ignores

We Can’t Give in to the Culture of Fear and Apathy — Channel Your Discontent into Positive Action

Transformation

“What is missing I think from the equation in our struggle today is that we must unleash radical thought. … America has never been moved to perfect our desire for greater democracy without radical thinking and radical voices being at the helm of any such a quest.” Harry Belafonte

…the role of art is transcendence. It’s about dealing with what we call the nonrational forces in human life, those forces that are absolutely essential to being whole as a human being but are not quantifiable… I don’t think it’s accidental that the origins of all religions are always fused with art, with poetry, with music. Because you’re dealing with a transcendence or a reality that is beyond articulation. And for those of us who seek to rise up against this monstrous evil, culture is going to be as important as the more prosaic elements of resistance such as a food tent, or a medical tent or a communications tent…that has just been true throughout history… the great religious writers, the great philosophers, the great artists, the great novelists, the great musicians, dancers, that’s what they struggle to honor and to sustain. And we, who are in essence when we really talk about it, engaged in a spiritual battle against forces of death, corporate forces are forces of death. We are fighting for life and we are going to need those transcendent disciplines that remind us of who we are, why we’re struggling, and what life finally is about. Chris Hedges on the Role of Art in Rebellion, Truthdig.com, Nov 27, 2013

The Big Theories Underwriting Society Are Crashing All Around Us — Are You Ready for a New World?

posted on January 30, 2014

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