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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/23/16

We Got Next

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Occupy Wall Street October 7, 2011
Occupy Wall Street October 7, 2011
(Image by Michael Fleshman)
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We Got Next: Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, and how the Youth Can Save the Future

I. The Politics of Context

The politics that rule our country, and indeed the world, have no theoretical context in reality. In my last piece, I laid out the points of continuity between the Democratic and Republican parties. In this piece, I will focus mainly on nuclear weapons and climate change, but the continuity exists across the board, and should be seen as a symptom of a super-capitalist state in which the centrally and solely powerful political class is allowed feed endlessly off of a malnourished population. The two parties speak out of different sides of the same mouth. I will touch on many issues, but I chose nuclear weapons and climate change as the main ones for this analysis because they are easily the most threatening to the possibility of life on earth, and they offer the greatest depiction of what the power structures in our society stand for and how they stand for it.

In the first part of this piece, I will show what the corporate world order means in the context of real life. In the second part, I will look more closely at where this world order is taking us. In the last part, I will propose that for the youth -- my generation -- the creation of our own political spheres that abandon the corporatized world order by fusing communal self-sustainability, civil disobedience, and education, is the only hope for the saving of our future, and I will propose a sort of model for building toward a society based on these political movements and spheres.

To pick up where I left off in my last article, let us begin by describing how the two major political parties and their corporate bosses and employees, have no sense of or connection to the real world at all, and let us think about what that means in the context of the real lives of young people:

In a world where human activity is swiftly destroying the planet, we have seen the expansion of the fossil fuel industry under the Obama administration and environmental activists become one of the most spied upon segments of the US population. In a world where military and terroristic insecurity loom, the hegemonic military model of the United States stokes the flames of perpetual war and delivers death every day to those who it ought to deliver food, resulting in the possibility of nuclear war between the US and Russia and the US and China. We have the complicity and activity of peaceful and politically correct speaking figures such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as much as conservatives like George W. Bush to thank for this reality. Obama and Clinton are posterchildren for the Democratic party that ceded all of its power to right-wing thinking and practices on all of the issues that threaten and/or control human life (with the sole exception of LGBTQ rights and abortion, to their credit, but note that these two issues cannot be tied to corporate interests). As Chris Hedges put it at a climate rally in 2014 on International Peace Day, after Reagan mastered the corporate bidding strategy for Republican campaigns,

"Bill Clinton found that by doing corporate bidding he could get corporate money--thus NAFTA, the destruction of our welfare system, the explosion of mass incarceration under the [1994] omnibus bill, the deregulation of the FCC, turning the airwaves over to a half dozen corporations, and the revoking of FDR's 1933 Glass-Steagall reform that had protected our banking system from speculators. Clinton, in exchange for corporate money, transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party. This was diabolically brilliant. It forced the Republican Party to shift so far to the right it became insane."

It is the supposedly liberal, politically correct, peacefully speaking and death delivering leaders, as Hedges highlights every week in his columns, who make genuinely liberal voters feel okay, apologetic, and even good about perpetual war, environmental destruction, and economic rape. In this piece, I will tell what it feels like and what it means to be a young person ruled by an empire that is sold, bought and governed by the slickest and smoothest talking criminals in human history.

As Professor Noam Chomsky puts it at the beginning of his talk, Surviving the 21st Century, the human species, for the first time in its history, faces the prospect of near-certain self-destruction. Well I'm twenty-one years old. I am of the most resentful and resented generation in a long time. I believe I speak for most of my peers: we will no longer tolerate the assault on our future. You had your turn with the power of the world and you failed to understand that power and that world. We got next.

I will start by using a brief outline of my own life to contextualize the politics of social justice and emergency that we will use to take our own control of our own future -- a politics grounded in a rational response to reality. I will tell what it means to be a young person in today's world, a world in which we are on the verge of jumping straight to our collective death from atop our momentary peak. This will best be done by starting with a timeline of my own life -- a fairly basic and vanilla one at that -- along with an anecdote from my childhood that should sum up the predicament.

I was born in 1995. Under the Bill Clinton administration, a feeling of hope swept over much of the country. Despite the fact that whether or not the African American community shared in the economic growth of the nineties is debatable, despite much of that growth being built on bad credit, and despite that it was during the "booming" nineties that the road had been paved for the complete corporate takeover, the years of the Bill Clinton administration erected a prosperous mask over the face of the beast. Educated middle and upper class voters felt good about being Democrats.

In September of 2001 I was six years old. My mother covered the aftermath of the towers falling in The Berkshire Eagle, despite the fact that her editor threatened to fire her if she went to New York that day. What she remembers most clearly are the visual contradictions in the city: some people were panicked to tears, asking passersby if they'd seen this person or that person in a picture they were holding. Other people were sitting in outdoor cafes, sipping coffee like it was any other day. My father volunteered to help feed the survivor-searchers in the weeks that followed.

I was seven years old when the US invaded Iraq and the residue of hope left by the Clinton administration started turning into a schizophrenic monstrosity of fear and arrogance under the Bush II administration.

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Matthew Vernon Whalan is a writer and contributing editor for Hard Times Review. His work has appeared in The Alabama Political Reporter, New York Journal of Books, The Brattleboro Reformer, Scheer Post, The Manchester Journal, The Commons, The (more...)

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