Friday, May 26, 2006

Can Anything Be Done About it?

Several respondents to my previous pessimistic blog about the state of our country that is in the hands of rich, powerful interests who get their way to the detriment of justice, the general welfare, and world peace challenged me to suggest something positive that could be done. Fair enough!

The realistic answer is that in the short run there is not much we can do that will fundamentally matter. The system is too rigged in favor of the prevailing powers. The background preconditions for radical change do not exist:

(1) deep and fundamental dissatisfaction felt by the masses of people accompanied by aggressive anger and desire for change,

(2)a clear sense of what is wrong and of what and who is responsible for the calamity,

(3)the presence of an available alternative consisting of a transforming vision communicated by able charismatic leaders with organizational skills and with a positive program containing major goals and specific means to achieve them.

We will not see fundamental change of the sort that is required in the absence of a major crisis like that of the great depression that took us from Coolidge and Hoover to Roosevelt in less than a decade. This crisis will create the possibility of a revitalized democracy and economic order that serves all the people. But it will also create the possibility of a fascism based on blood and soil led by demagogues who can identify the evil sources of our troubles internally and externally which must be destroyed. Oh, probably a third way will have us muddling through so that the outcome is not much better, just led by different villains.

In the meantime, we can hope for modest progress around the edges and some incremental gains that will indeed make things better for many and even for us all in some respects. These gains can be of great importance and should not be underestimated or demeaned. This is where the churches and humanitarian organizations fit in. I have worked in both, and positive changes at the margins was all we accomplished at best or even attempted. Churches whose membership include the dominant classes in the culture will not foment revolution -- and that includes Roman Catholics and most Protestants. Zip code is the primary clue to social outlook not church membership. If you find a factor that points to religion, e. g., that most active church people were the ones who voted heavily for Bush, then look for the socio-economic-cultural makeup of those congregations.

The Democratic Party is the best hope for modest improvements, but it is a pitifully weak instrument of justice. The present leadership is anything but inspiring, e. g., Howard Dean. The DP is too beholden to big money and powerful lobby groups, just like the Republicans are. The DP is dominated by a variety of interest groups, each with its own agenda that it singlemindedly presses. The DP has lost touch with many ordinary working-class Americans and average citizens who rightly suspect the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Johnson is rife with cultural elitism epitomized by that man of the people, that down to earth Joe SixPack, John Kerry and his French wines and windsurfing. The DP is too beholden to the Israeli lobby to offer hope for Middle East Peace. I give you Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Harry Reid, among many others, who vote the Israeli lobby line as examples. Check it out.

When the Democratic Party championed civil right, and the feminist and gay rights movement along with abortion, gun control, etc. -- God bless them for it, it lost contact with many white working class folks, especially males, and conservative religious people, who, since they were doing well enough economically and many prospering, decided to vote their cultural values rather than their narrow economic interests. Democrats have not found a way to get them back without alienating major parts of its base. So Republicans have taken over. Still the DP is the best we have.

This is enough for now. I invite comments, alternatives, refutations, screams of protest, and bouquets of roses (I like the really red ones.)

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