Wednesday, December 14, 2016
If you were to ever visit the little corner of the US that I call home, you are most likely to encounter left ranging "eco-hippies" mixed with some moneyed GOP establishment types. For the most part Santa Cruz proper is a liberal bastion of progressive ideals in comparison to the national political scene. Proof of this dynamic can be found in the high volume of Bernie Sanders voters in the June 2016 California primary. Since the November 9th election of Donald Trump and the almost total defeat of the democrat party, Santa Cruz progressive activists have been rallying together looking for a means to influence real people powered organizing. Similar to the protests immediately following the election, Santa Cruz progressives realize this is the time to begin organizing, not just for the next election but for a better today. How these activists and organizers plan to affect change is currently a mystery to me, but proof of the renewed fervor is something I have been witnessing at every city council meeting, small time film festival (http://www.reelwork.org/) planning committee gathering, and community get together I have been able to attend.
I wish I could say I found the outpouring of Santa Cruz liberals inspiring, but as a fellow blogger and comrade pointed out in a recent post (https://edensauvage.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/the-poverty-of-left-wing-activism/) the solutions progressives have to offer, might be a good place to start, but the failure to recognize systemic detriments within how the means of production are organized and distributed, will only lead to the same dead ends previous movements have faced. Anything but full-scale change will only be a band-aid, that slightly delays the inevitable oncoming parasitic infection. The failure of liberals to acknowledge the metaphysical canker sores of oppression within our current mixed market social power structures, are the reason current progressive ideals are centered around neo-liberal policies and candidates. The first shift in progressive organizing should be to realize that neo-liberal policies and candidates cannot by definition provide the hope and change they campaign on. An unverifiable proof of this paradigm could have been found in a Bernie Sanders presidency.
Bernie advocated for the return of the off-shored and outsourced jobs of yesterday. Even with a gigantic economic stimulus these manufacturing jobs will never return while the means of production are currently organized. Capital by rule must seek out the cheapest surplus labor possible. There are very few financiers of capital who will simply say, "pay no attention to the bottom line, it's the right thing to do".
Expanding on the notion of economic stimulus, if we look at the Keynesian policies enacted under Roosevelt's new deal, and Johnson's Great Society, juxtaposed next to the union busting of the 1980s and the welfare reforms of the 1990s we see failures not only in terms of policy and political will but also in terms of democratic process. I again point to the dominate neo-liberal narrative of both establishment parties here in the US, to illustrate how the spectrum of policies are designed not to ensure the alleviation of suffering within our society, but said policies are designed first and foremost to ensure the control held by the dominant power-structures. For this reason and this reason alone economic stimulus cannot offer the permanent change they allegedly seek.
I am not saying the current progressive urge to organize and network is bunk. What I am saying is that if we are willing to organize we should also be willing to analyze the dominant power-structures of our society. We should consider exploring our local power structures. We should be willing to question the very foundations of our daily lives. Why do we accept these foundations without question? Why is it so hard to make minor changes in our daily lives, let alone the federal political spectrum? It should go without saying that the power of solidarity will be the fuel of this fire, but what, we should also consider is why so many movements have burned out without affecting change. I think the answer to these questions can be found in the realization of where most of our focus and energy goes. Does the bulk of your focus go into what is good for you or do they go toward a profit motive? An examination of monetary realities, racial hubris, gender domination and the disregard for our planet are all necessary. Why do we do the things we do?