Monday, April 27, 2009

USH30: What About Now?

While I am tempted to repeat much of my last post to answer this question, I will simply summarize and for details, go back one post.

The upshot of what I've learned from studying US history is that this country was started to favor rich white men and that's still going on. There is a strong conservative streak here that is reinforced by the propaganda machine that is called the 'Mainstream Media' and that those of us who rebelled in the sixties were "näive" to think we could easily change the system. Nevertheless, there has been a long history of rebellion in the US--a history often suppressed or downplayed--but not everyone has simply accepted the official version of reality.

I ended my post with a quote from Howard Zinn (author of A People's History of the United States, one of my key sources for this series) which ends with him pointing out "...the vulnerability of the supposedly powerful." It's not an accident that the system as we know it came into play with the Robber Barons of the late nineteenth century, their rise fueled by the industrial revolution, which in turn was fueled by coal and oil. (In my post of 1/29/09 on the Robber Barons, Zinn refers to the industrial revolution as being a revolution "...of petroleum and steel.") I also pointed out that the amazing affluence of the sixties, in fact of the whole period from World War II to 1973, was largely fueled by oil, and it was not an accident that the change in economic direction that came in 1973 was sparked by the Oil Crisis that year. (See my post on the Economic History of the Twentieth Century on 4/19/09.)

If the powerful of today got there via wealth generated directly or indirectly by fossil fuels, and if peak oil predictions are anywhere near correct, they are extremely vulnerable. In my post of 8/3/08, I quote John Michael Greer as saying that we could see the industrial capitalist system as an invincible force, or we could look at it as "a brittle, ungainly, jerry-rigged contraption whose managers are vainly scrambling to hold it together against a rising tide of crises". Watching the news these days makes it easier and easier to begin seeing the latter; the crises are coming fast and furious. Or as Richard Heinberg put it (see his quote at the end of my post on 7/20/08)"...efforts to try to bring industrialism to ruin prematurely seem to be pointless and wrongheaded: ruin will come soon enough on its own."

In other words, it's a lousy system but rather than trying to bring it down, we are better off working on building a new system. I talked about the founding of the IWW in my post of 2/14/09. In the preamble to their constitution, they talk about "...forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old." And that's what we need to do. In the tradition of rebels and freethinkers, not only in the US, but throughout the world, we need to create the world that we want to live in--and create it now, so that when things collapse, we will have something to take its place.

So where will I take this blog from here? A key question is, what do we need in order to create that new system, society, way of being? In my post on 'Creating Social Change' that I wrote way back on 7/2/08, I focused on the need to Educate and Organize. I should probably look at ways to educate next, ways to counteract that propaganda machine and get necessary information to people--but that's not what I'm going to do. I will look at education soon, but first I want to look at what I think that we need to know most in order to doing the organizing, to build that new society--I want to look closely at what our real needs are and how we might meet them.

I'm going to end this segment with a bit of the ending of the song I have been quoting sporadically throughout this series. Although this is how it ends on Ferron's classic album, Shadows on a Dime, she has rerecorded the song with a contemporary musician who goes by the name of Bitch. At the end of the new version they repeat, back and forth, several times, as if affirming a promise: "I will not be complacent... I will not be complacent..." If there is anything that US history teaches me, it's that I can't be complacent.

Quote of the Day: "And beware you sagging diplomats, for you will not hear one gun, And though our homes be torn and ransacked we will not be undone, For as we let ourselves be bought, we're gonna let ourselves be free... We are dreamers in the making, we are not afraid of 'Why?'" - Ferron


Austan said...

Thanks, Moony. You're dead on in your analysis. I don't understand what it is that makes working poor want to support the very people who deny them access to a better life. Never have, never will.

MoonRaven said...

Thank you for your comment!

At this point (having done my thirty posts on history) I think that the reason poor and working people support those who are actually using and abusing them, is because of the cultural propaganda that convinces them that these folks actually are offering them a better life. It's not true, but when you've been told it all your life, you believe it.

Sad but true.

SoapBoxTech said...

Excellent points, both of you.

Moon, thanks so much for the intense effort put into this series.