Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
With the realization that Sanders will probably not win the Democratic Party nomination, and that said establishment Party is corrupt beyond repair, there has been a spate of internet articles on what to do with the Sanders campaign machine. One option I hear frequently is to take all that momentum and organization and form a progressive third party, one that challenges both the establishment Democratic and Republican Parties. We've come to realize that the Democratic Party is too far gone to the dark side of corporate cronyism never to return to its own progressive roots. In the posts that follow I'll provide my jeremiad on this.
Quote from the aforementioned article by John Feffer:
"America B has a fondness for Donald Trump and his almost childlike audacity. (Gosh, kids say the darndest things!) Right now, his fans are attached to an individual, rather than a platform or a party. Many of his supporters don’t even care whether Trump means what he says or not. If he loses, he will fade away and leave nothing behind, politically speaking.
The real change will come when a more sophisticated politician, with an authentic political machine, sets out to woo America B. Perhaps the Democratic Party will decide to return to its more populist, mid-century roots. Perhaps the Republican Party will abandon its commitment to entitlement programs for the 1%.
More likely, a much more ominous political force will emerge from the shadows. If and when that new, neo-fascist party fields its charismatic presidential candidate, that will be the most important election of our lives.
As long as America B is left in the lurch by what passes for modernity, it will inevitably try to pull the entire country back to some imagined golden age of the past before all those “others” hijacked the red, white, and blue. Donald Trump has hitched his presidential wagon to America B. The real nightmare, however, is likely to emerge in 2020 or thereafter, if a far more capable politician who embraces similar retrograde positions rides America B into Washington."
"Even so, I do not expect even candidates of Bernie/Warren calibre to 'solve' the intractible problems we face."
That was the entire point of the Sanders campaign: We the people need to get organized and involved. The candidate is just a spokesperson for our efforts. You know, like in a democracy where they represent us.
See this post as prelude. Here's of my common complaints, and one of Thomas Frank's as well (in Listen Liberal) concerning the establishment Dems. They are intellectuals from the best ivory towers, real smart in book lernin' but not in touch with the people they supposedly represent. Most of them have never had to work 2-3 shit jobs to feed their family, or make choices about health care versus paying the rent. Our suffering never factors into their economic or philosophical models, isn't even registered. It's why all to often their remedies never do much if anything to ameliorate the suffering of the masses, being so top heavy with theory and idealism as to miss the boat entirely.
Clinton I was a significant player in this shift to the neoliberal center. Back then documents even proudly used the neoliberal label. It was a conscious acceptance that the status quo was just fine. And that what was necessary was for individuals to be educated in new skills for the new corporate/information economy. There was no questioning the inherent inequalities or corruption in that system. Consequently, if one didn't pursue the requisite education then their lot was their own fault. There was no analysis of how the system was rigged against such attainment. Even back then in Clinton I's first administration Robert Reich signed on to this canard. Obviously Reich has since changed his tune.
Another key fact is that Clinton I talked like he still supported the working class to get their votes. But his policies per the above ideological shift in the Party were quite to the contrary. We can reasonably assume his wife, Clinton II, was privy to and in agreement with this shift, since she has a record in the Senate and as Secretary of State supporting this inference. And she too, like her husband, is spinning the worker rhetoric yet coming from the same neoliberal, corporate view that dominates the establishment Dems. As but one example, her cronies on the Dem platform committee refused to support a plank that would guarantee a rejection of the TPP.
Process theologian John Cobb, in his book Sustaining the Common Good: A Christian Perspective of the Global Economy (published in 1994, during the Clinton I presidency), outlined European history into periods of unifying devotion, moving from religious devotion, to nationalism, and from nationalism into the current period of "economism."
Remember that the Clinton I campaign slogan that kept their campaign on message was, "it's the economy, stupid."
Cobb argues that we desperately need to move into a period of "earthism." Writing over 20 years ago now:
"The task is urgent. The pursuit of economic growth daily destroys human and environmental resources badly needed for a healthy future. To continue business as usual in our several disciplines (speaking to economists, humanists, theologians, etc.) while this destruction continues is profoundly irresponsible. May we awaken from our disciplinary slumbers before it is too late."
I personally think the era of economism is now falling apart, as part of the late stage deficient mental-rational structure of Gebser. The imbalanced results of economism is fueling both the jihad of groups like ISIS as well as the desire to move backwards into nationalism by many in the "developed" world, where we see BREXIT, Trumpism, etc.
There are also small pockets of those calling for some form or another of earthism (The Green Party). May we heed the call.
Beyond Bernie. Also on the page is a petition for Bernie to run as an independent.
"Our movement faces a burning question: Do we fall in line behind Clinton's corporate campaign, or do we continue the political revolution and build a new party for the 99%? Tens of millions are standing against the tide, resisting a Democratic Party establishment hellbent on forcing Sandernistas behind Wall Street's 'lesser evil' candidate. But how can we build a political alternative to continue the struggle against the billionaire class?
"Movement4Bernie and Socialist Alternative are organizing a series of forums across the country to debate these questions facing our movement. These meetings will feature a video address from Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Seattle's socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, laying out the case against backing Clinton, a strategy to stop Trump's right-wing agenda, and how we can build a left political alternative to continue the political revolution.
"Join us to discuss how to help Jill Stein's campaign make the biggest possible impact in 2016, how you can help mobilize for the protests at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 23-28, and how we can build toward a socialist alternative to this crisis-ridden capitalist system.
If there are no events planned for your area contact us to organize one in your city. firstname.lastname@example.org
"If you cannot make it to a forum, you can still be a part of the movement! Help us mobilize as many as possible to the major protests planned for the Democratic National Convention! The corruption of our democracy by both major parties is clear to millions, and the DNC protests will be the center of the growing debate over whether we should we fight to transform the Democratic Party or build a fighting political alternative independent of corporations and Wall Street Super PACS."
Hi Edward (And Bruce, and David, et al) - I have listened to about 2/3 of this discussion/debate/cluster of individual needs to express oneself and maybe to feel right, good and whole. I think that Harris is indeed a potent thinker and presenter of a logical way to approach life and specifically consciousness and its wellbeing which he says requires the discernment of and commitment to the discernments and judgments of right and wrong. When he simply presents his favored outlook and much of that storyline, I do find myself nodding. I am glad to hear it.
I also like hearing that when others challenge some of his presumptions and logic that the question of his being overly reductive, or, how and where he might be trying to drive a complexly irregularly shaped peg into a square hole. I can imagine him answering my metaphor and his ongoing tenacity and seeming-to-me finessing to this metaphoric challenge or other better ones.
I like that he can dance a bit in uncertainty, though it appears to me uncomfortable for him when it is more than just the details of the fact-space rather than something more fundamental about his starting point and his need to keep returning to his starting point.
I want to say some of my inner impressions and acknowledge some of the glitches I hear when I listen to him, though I am not really prepared to critique him in a careful or formal way, and I may never be.
I may listen to more. I have appreciated and been stimulated by this, mildly or moderately psychoactively disruptive though the presentation may have landed in me.
Edwyrd theurj Burj said:
I don't place much stock in Haidt. See this previous video debate between Haidt and Harris and the ensuing discussion. Note that because it's a video the discussion has the latest comment first and the oldest comment last.
Ambo Suno said:Jonathan Haidt's study slices through the topic in one way that captures some pithy realities about morality and ethics, but, of course, there are other ways of slicing through sociopolitical human life. Enjoy.
As you can see from the Harris thread, I have my own criticisms of some parts of his work. And some parts where I can find agreement.
Establishment Dems embrace capitalism, which enriches the already rich and fucks the rest of us in the ass without lubrication. See this iarticle, which echos Thomas Frank's work. By the way, we're just going to get the same from Clinton 2. An excerpt:
"Largely due to both their acceptance of an ideological system that runs counter to the needs of the masses and "pragmatic" commitments to the needs of organized wealth, gradually during the late 20th century Democrats abandoned the language of class, instead adopting the seemingly high-minded — but often diversionary and empty, particularly when put to use by elites — language of identity politics.
"Having shifted allegiances from the working class to the professional class since the 1970s, Democrats have had to adjust their tone accordingly: No longer could they use the provocative language of class conflict; no longer could they condemn, as FDR did, the nation's 'economic royalists' who 'maintained' a system of 'economic slavery.' Their new constituency would not take kindly to such language.
"And with the language of class went the politics of class — the politics that transformed the Democratic Party throughout the post-Depression years into a party that, while not entirely sympathetic to the working class, pushed through changes that improved the material well-being of millions.
"But now, in the face of levels of income and wealth inequality matched only by those of the year prior to the Great Depression, the 'New' Democrats have proven unable — even unwilling — to confront the problem. This lack of ability or willingness has less to do with the personal failings of individual Democrats and more to do with the ideological bent of the party they pay allegiance to."
Following up on the last post, some more excerpts from that article showing how the faux distinction between race and economics has provided a smokescreen for the Dems and Clinton from addressing the underlying issue in both cases, a corrupt capitalism that they must maintain. Conclusion: this can only be adequately addressed outside of the corrupt Dem Party.
"When Democrats refuse, as Clinton so often does, to recognize that those fighting for racial justice and those fighting for economic justice are engaged in a common project — and against a common enemy — they grant legitimacy to the economic order that has produced the profound inequities we see today. Thus Clinton-style identity politics has become, to quote Adolph Reed, 'neoliberalism’s version of a left.' It is a politics that places what Reed terms 'antidiscrimination' at the center and often downplays or ignores economic matters that have profound effects on black and Latino communities. At its core, then, this deep commitment to identity politics is 'the path Democrats have taken in retreating from a commitment to economic justice.' [...] It is a political framework that legitimizes capitalism by separating racial justice from economic justice and arguing that fighting for the latter will do nothing to move us closer to the former; it is a framework that argues not for more equality, but for more diversity among elite sectors of the population. [...] The Democratic Party's adoption of identity politics as an agenda entirely separate from issues of class exploitation has only served to obscure this reality, allowing the economic order that produced these trends to persist."
"Of late, Democrats have gone far beyond failing to address these inequities; they seem bent on perpetuating them. Unwilling to fight for an ambitious social agenda in the name of 'pragmatism' and eagerly receptive to floods of corporate money — these two things are not unrelated — Democrats have lost both the language necessary to fight systemic economic and racial injustices and the platform necessary to resist the class war being waged from above. Their party is now one that is content to, in the words of one commentator, use 'its accumulated power to compensate for its complete lack of compelling answers to contemporary political questions.' If it wasn't obvious enough already, the Democratic Party's refusal to recognize capitalism as an impediment to both economic and racial justice highlights the necessity of building coalitions and movements outside of the party system. After all, as Michelle Alexander has argued, 'it would be easier to build a new party than to save the Democratic Party from itself.'"
Following up on the last few posts, again I see so many parallels to the integral movement in this sociological shift, e.g. the fixation that complexity and innovation are the answers to everything. But when they are applied to the existing capitalist structure they create monopolies like Google, Facebook, Uber and Amazon. Yes, they are innovative with high-complexity tech, but they all embrace the model of making everyone low wage, independent contractors with no benefits plus shouldering their own costs of doing business. These are the very causes of income inequality that these self-righteous cultural creatives claim they will cure via their innovations. They could if they had a collaborative commons infrastructure, but that's completely off the table with the assumption that there is no alternative to corporate capitalism, conscious capitalism notwithstanding.
Do we believe Clinton when she talks progressive? In this video he rightly asserts that many of us just don't believe Clinton when she moves left on issues, most recently on a program to pay for college tuition if family income is below a certain threshold. We've seen so many times when her actual record speaks to the opposite so how can we know if she'll stick to her guns?
After reading Frank's book Listen Liberal I'm inclined to accept that Clinton actually believes what she says about the concerns of us little people. But her consistent ideology has been that the way to address such social concerns is through a corporate framework. For her the capitalist model is just fine the way it is, and all we need do is adjust ourselves to it. Hence instead of addressing the privatization of education and the subsequent outrageous tuition and housing costs, etc., she comes up with a solution that leaves that system in place and just says the federal government will put up half the student costs if the States put up the other half. And we know damned well that those Republican-controlled states will do no such thing, so this solution does not much for not many while sounding like it really cares about the plight of the students.
So perhaps we can trust her genuine concern, but we certainly can't trust she'll come up with solutions that actually work. And none of them will address the real problems of the capitalist takeover of our public commons, education being but one of them.