I’ve heard the question again and again since Saturday’s Women’s March: What now?
By most accounts the protests were a rousing success on various levels, but it remains to be seen if their long-term effects carry on or fizzle out.
There are derivations on this theme throughout the leftist media–even bleeding into the mainstream. All are thoughtful, most make cogent points, and several approach my thinking— clarifying, praising the diversity of the moment and offering a path forward in both logistical and philosophical ways.
To my thinking it is not simply essential that the resistance must carry on; how it progresses needs nurturing.
The best commentaries reiterate that the status quo of the Democratic Party, destroyed from the inside, need be drastically altered, shunned, or banished. The corporatists in charge don’t get it, and their supporters are oblivious if they expect different results from their bosses or the electoral system as it exists.
The best commentators point out that a movement has not been born as of yet, but cite trace possibilities in the vast size of the undertaking and the jumble of concerns participants carried with them to the protests.
I say protests, because there was more than one—had to be on such a grand scale. I’m not speaking here of the many protests around the world, but rather the protests within the big one. Agreement on how to proceed is likely to never happen—historically it’s been hit and miss—but certain criteria need to be addressed as far as overthrowing the duopoly of concentrated power that has stymied and divided the larger segment of the polity. Without meeting such criteria, nothing will change but the weather.
Foremost, the thing that just happened must not be co-opted if it is to maintain meaning. I’ve written on how that works and how it has worked historically. Stopping co-optation is the most difficult obstacle confronting even the faintest sounds of revolt. That is, co-optation is a fundamental scourge of capitalism, and has been since modern nation-states arose from the struggles of the past.
Identity, though an unavoidable aspect of every life, must be on equal footing with an understanding of how class differentiation drives society and evolves as distinct social causes mount up. At those times identity and our differences become the focus, the struggle for economic equality loses impetus and, finally, power. This is not a presumption; it is an historical imperative.
The overthrow of capitalism will take care of identity by default. Under a new system that can only be built out of a new consensus, a better democracy you might say, equality will be nurtured and expected/expanded, not a divisive tool used to separate people into social stereotypes that they unwittingly embrace and too frequently use to attack others. The rhetoric of exceptionalism, imperialism and consumerism–and worse, their enactments–followed by hasty retreats into individuality doesn’t work, indeed hasn’t ever worked, in achieving the common good.
History is misery digested and expunged. It is repeated time and again, altered for epochs (and other measures) and exterior circumstances. It is never twice exactly alike. Yet natural and human forces remain constant, the call for good vs. something inferior. Marx was mainly right, yet he is persistently denied, harangued and overturned by inferior logic. Capitalism at this stage is a pure failure in terms of addressing the commons.
I’m 66, and I’ve given it a lot of thought; there is one reason for where we are. If where we are is bad it is because of systemically-sanctioned greed. I wouldn’t be here discussing anything at all if I didn’t believe that the paramount concern ought to be the destruction of capitalism as we know it.
Anything less is pissing in the wind. Anything less than a achieving a new socialized democracy is allowing capitalists to piss on you.
So march on brothers and sisters. I’m with you.
Terry Simons lives in Portland, Oregon.