"May you live in interesting times" was a curse the ancient Chinese hurled at their adversaries, wishing them strife, oppression, and struggle. It applies to us now because for all the uncertainties a Trump presidency holds, it will certainly be an interesting time, filled with opportunities for resistance and perhaps revolution.
Big T's pedal-to-the-metal exploitation of humanity and the planet will accelerate the vicious policies of his two predecessors, poisoning the environment, forcing our financial will around the world, killing thousands of people in imperialist wars, manipulating other nations, modernizing our nuclear weapons, and jailing dissenters at home. Fortress America will continue to expand globally as prison, sweatshop, and fire base.
After all our years trying to change this country, how could we end up with this?
To answer this question and avoid falling into catatonic despondency or self-destructive rage, we need an historical perspective. What we are experiencing now is the long war the ruling elite is fighting to maintain its grip on the world. The current phase began with the collapse of Keynesian capitalism, which flourished from the 1950s into the '70s, when the primary consumer market was in the capitalist headquarter countries of North America and Western Europe. Corporations were able to stimulate domestic consumption and quell worker discontent there by acceding to labor's demands for better wages and conditions. That led to a 30-year bubble of improvement for unionized workers, predominantly male and white, that began to collapse in the '80s as capitalism gradually became globalized.
Then to maintain dominance Western corporations had to reduce labor costs in order to compete against emerging competition in low-wage countries such as China, India, and Brazil. Also international consumer markets became more important than the home market, but reaching them required low prices. So capitalist leaders reversed hard-won reforms, forcing paychecks and working conditions in the West down. And they tried to keep control of crucial Mideast oil resources by tightening their neo-imperialist hold on that region: overthrowing governments, installing dictators, undermining economies.
This aggression generated armed resistance: jihadist attacks against the West. Our response has been the current holy war against terror. All of this horrible suffering is just one campaign in capitalism's long war for hegemony. Any dominator system -- including capitalism, patriarchy, and religious fundamentalism -- generates violence.
Since we are all products of such systems, the path out of them will at some point include violence. Insisting on only pacifist tactics against a ruling elite that has repeatedly slaughtered millions of people is naive, actually a way of preventing basic change. But it is equally naive to think we are anywhere near ready to attack the elite and its military with force. That has to wait until they are collapsing, and then by using as little violence as possible.
The pacifist idealism so prevalent among liberals conceals their loyalty to the bourgeoisie: no revolution, just reform. We need to expose their hoax that reforms will lead to basic changes. The purpose of liberalism is to defuse discontent with promises of the future and thus prevent mass opposition from coalescing. It diverts potentially revolutionary energy into superficial dead ends. Bernie Sanders' "long game" campaign was really only a game similar to that of his reformist predecessor, Dennis Kucinich, designed to keep us in the "big tent" of the Democratic Party. Capitalism, although resilient, is willing to change only in ways that shore it up, so before anything truly different can be built, we have to bring it down.
Our duty as radicals is weaken capitalism and build organizations that will pass our knowledge and experience on to future generations. If we do that well enough, our grandchildren (not really so far away) can lead a revolution. If we don't do it, our descendants will remain corporate chattel. Our generational assignment -- should we decide to accept it -- is sedition, subversion, sabotage: a program on which socialists and anarchists can work together.
Sedition -- advocating or attempting the overthrow of the government -- is illegal only if it calls for or uses violence. Our most important job -- educating and organizing people around a revolutionary program -- is legal sedition, as is much of our writing here on OpEdNews.
For subversion we could, for example, focus on institutions and rituals that instill patriotism in young people. School spirit, scouts, competitive team sports, and pledges of allegiance all create in children an emotional bond to larger social units of school, city, and nation.
Kids are indoctrinated to feel these are extensions of their family and to respect and fear the authorities as they would their parents, more specifically their fathers, because this is a patriarchal chain being forged. It causes us even as adults to react to criticism of the country as an attack on our family. This hurts our feelings on a deep level, so we reject it, convinced it can't be true. It's too threatening to us.
This linkage is also the basis of the all-American trick of substituting personal emotion for political thought.
Breaking this emotional identification is crucial to reducing the widespread support this system still enjoys. Whatever we can do to show how ridiculous these institutions and rituals are will help undermine them.
For instance, teachers could refuse to lead the pledge of allegiance, or they could follow it with historical facts that would cause the students to question their indoctrination. When a teacher gets fired, the resulting legal battle can taint the whole sacrosanct ritual and challenge the way history is taught in the schools.