There exists the undying fear that a social, economic, and political revolution would fetch us Americans more harm than good. Still, some would ask to whom the word “us” even refers. A keen, and important query, the fear in question nonetheless persists, and it is important to entertain.
What might actually become of us if we abandon ourselves to radical change, casting our nets about a sea of anarchy and socialist endeavors? Might the benefits yet outweigh the costs? Revolution will have its doubters…
For centuries, thinkers and the disillusioned alike have doubted even their own existence; they have punished themselves with (perhaps) unknowingly privileged quandaries, and philosophical pursuits. But what of those desperate and afflicted individuals today, such as the ones who experience homelessness? Does the woman who fishes from the dumpster doubt her existence? Might revolution seem better than the status quo to her? Were we even considering her when we invoke the word “us”—or “American”—in the foregoing prose?
Regardless of what the marginalized, such as the homeless, might want for themselves as free, or would-be free social agents (if not as human beings), the popular rebuttal often goes that “people choose to be poor because they are lazy.”
Two things. First, a single person divided into a denominator of three-hundred-plus million cannot be judged by her actions alone; there is far too much to also consider before condemnation becomes marginally approachable. Second, if all Americans (excluding the rich) committed to a general strike and stopped laboring—the chimera that the superrich sustain the economy would putrefy instantaneously.
It would die a thousand deaths in a very loud, public instant.
The majority of Americans who victim-blame when it comes to assessing the misery of those around them are not, in fact, members of the plutocracy; they themselves count-in with the repressed. The wealthiest, on the other hand, understand that the nuclear essence of freedom itself can be purchased with capital (which takes many forms) once they reach that apex in the social dimension. Of course, for the bulk of society, the state does as little as possible to keep life easy enough to be a trap. The poor, and the ever-shrinking middle class, simply seem the unluckiest sort.
After centuries of toil, disenfranchisement, and even the enslavement of certain groups, what have the second-class citizens, the immigrants, and all the oppressed to gain from clinging to the emperor’s robe, hoping for something else? Many are active, and already agitate. They blow whistles and they fight for freedom deep within the belly of the beast. That should not be discounted, as it already builds momentum for what is to come.
The honest truth—the one that scares our political overseers with night terrors—is that we have a chance. We are the closest to the floor, the closest to pulling out the rug from underneath the table from which we are excluded. We have a chance to harness our capacity for production, community, and solidarity. A sound revolution of unparalleled political magnitude can, and must, take place. It may not seem fair for some to have to relinquish whatever suspends them above the rest; but at least our revolution, which the whole world needs to hear us declare soon, will be for everyone.
Everyone’s freedom is at stake.
Just as the alienated within our boarders terrify the powers that be, the outside aggressors—the main opponents in the people’s mind—loom on the horizon of our borders, waiting like god-awful harbingers of death who want to “kill us for what we stand for…” Or so the rhetoric commonly goes. But if Americans stood in unison, looked the fascist, totalitarian, and domestic embedded power in the face and said, “No more,” then would not the whole world have our true measure in an instant? Could we not count on them after this? Even if a threat should emerge, who could possibly stand to oppose our revolution, or our newfound sorority with other peoples, and expect to emerge victorious? The answer is “none.”
There are millions of American hands that grip, tear, sew, slice, pound, lock, drill, hammer, write, harvest, weed-eat, teach and pray—every single day. There are callouses and sores, and sometimes a finger or two go missing. But these silent makers of wealth, these adroit builders of technology, movers of capital—how quickly they may join together to halt the repression that drowns the majority with a slow death of shrinking rights and economic woe. How quickly, it should be noted, they may tightly clench and make themselves into hard fists.
Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. Follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel, or read more at guerrillaprose.info.