It’s 2019 and General Andrew Jackson is at it again, campaigning for American hearts, today more like a rough ghost riding the bodies of almost all Democrat contenders. There’s a problem, again, this time. Except for Bernie Sanders and his band of leftist and centrist catalysts being managed by mainstream Democrat Campaign Manager, which I have purposely caps locked, Faiz Shakir from Harry Reid’s old office the ACLU and Nancy Pelosi’s, the DNC has lost the ability to relate polis and politics to culture, and as many writers today exclaim, it is the main reason for its demise. For all its inabilities to organize around poverty, feminism, and other catastrophic realities, its biggest downfall is its inability to organize around catastrophic thought and the catastrophic imagination, that of most poor, working, and middle class Americans and one they share with many upper middle class and upper class Americans. It does this by, again, pushing aside classic and contemporary thought, making it an apoetic, aliterate party of glossy progression, a consolidation effort.
As a so-called nation, a murderous contradiction, the everyday political thought of everyday people finds itself grappling with a looming end and an impossible present, as philosophers and nation have before. What I mean by this is that though “progressivism” is still believed to be the aim and progression the understanding of American collective life as experienced by everyday people, catastrophe is on our minds. St. Augustine, Martin Luther, and others theorized our reality as being that of original sin, in a way that W.E.B Dubois theorized our reality as being founded on American sin (the color line). The hopi understood a catastrophe coming to be Koyaanisqatsi, and the for the Navajo, the invaders, those who brought about an impossible burden, much heavier than the problematic of human existence and the two faced necessities that are politics and culture, would end up as fish (the waters seem to be getting unleashed.) Karl Marx prophesized a beautiful future, but a dialectic that produces misery that must be torn apart by revolution in steps.These well known philosophies of everyday catastrophe, either being experienced or coming, are past examples of philosophies and reactions that underlie our present popular state of mind, one that mass culture only sometimes brings to the public life (Blade Runner, The Matrix), but most often replaces with visions and ventures romantic comedy and other versions of eternity and prosperity; this is nothing new, and this society is good for producing prophets. What’s the case today is what Bob Dylan sings about St. Augustine, theoretician of original sin:
I dreamed I saw St. Augustine
Alive as you or me
It pushes aside the literature of this nation perhaps because to it there is no value to this. Today despite the amount of crises we experience from housing to the environment, and the books and initiatives around them, DNC chooses to address these crises rhetorically, and not ethically or politically. It pushes aside a canon of classical thought for normative thought, producing a politics outside of literature and of common ground. The exceptions being well known, the DNC is a political idiot, as per the greek idiotis, or whom remains silent in relation to the depth of this catastrophe.
In other words, the democratic party does not value engaging with original sin, the color line, the native prophecies, socialism or any philosophy grounded in acknowledging catastrophe. Some will argue that original sin culture has always been the case for most of this country’s culture, well since the great reformation and the work of men like Jonathan Edwards. It’s certainly always been the case in the bible belt, and the holy polities such as Memphis and other American Jerusalems that are not quite so. Maybe. What matters is that today, as we speak, catastrophe is on the tongues and minds of most.
The philosophical “E pluribis unum” that emerged as a consensus between town hall and neo-jacobinist democratism and commercial republicanism and led to the first constitution, as read in Walt Whitman’s list poems or as American legislative bodies is what is being debated today between elite progressivism, elite conservatism, and the various catastrophism that possess this nation’s citizens and infra-citizen humans (homo sacers such as felons and “illegal immigrants). What “out of many one” tells us is that for one government or one direction one must appeal to engage many, many catastrophic imaginations, and not one progressivism on catastrophic imaginations that may lead progressive sometimes.
How could we be progressives and not democratic socialists instead, attempting to address rot, violence, racism with a political theory that embraces catastrophe and offers a future. Jonathan Edwards’s sermon Wicked Men Inconsistent with Themselves Edwards cries out “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented…” We’ve been rallying against “wicked” America in the name of the working class for years (Carter, Clinton, Obama) that there’s “something deeply wrong” to quote Carter and yet here we are. How do they address rage, which walks hand in hand with catastrophe? With gloss.
2020? How to embrace catastrophe? A coalition of the just must come together and offer collaboration, collaboration and hope, and oppose it to despair and dread, oppose it to catastrophe, and must do it nationally. That must be both campaign and party, or else the party will bury Bernie again or anyone else addressing catastrophe in the name of progressivism. We’ll need new festivity: art, song, circles, costume, truth to bury the circus that is the DNC.