Tuesdays are Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets
I promised you more about Tom Friedman’s new book That Used to be Us. And since I wrote that post I’ve finished one book by Paul Hawken (The Ecology of Commerce) and am half way through another one (Blessed Unrest). I have so many ideas I want to share with you from what I’m reading.
But, listen. Something’s going on in America. It’s big. To quote earthquake forecasters and fishermen – “This could be the Big One.”
Back in the hot month of August in Chicago in 1968, when I was 19, long before the Internet, or Facebook or Twitter, young people got the vibe that something was going on. Come to Grant Park. The whole world is watching. I really thought the revolution we had all talked about was truly at hand. That the America we dreamed about was right around the corner. That war was over and we would Give Peace a Chance.
My generation blew it – and really, I think Pat Robertson was right – it was that event, more than anything else that caused America and the Left to break up. If you ask me, we had the right ideas, but the wrong way of delivering the message.
We live in perilous times. As I’ll tell you when I write more about That Used to Be Us (I promise! soon!), we are facing huge forces that so easily could crush us all – environmental peril, unchecked corporate greed and control, a crumbling infrastructure, economic meltdown. We have failed to address the issues that are most important (quoting Friedman here): globalization, the IT revolution, chronic deficits, and our pattern of excessive energy consumption.
And the economic practices that were put into momentum with Ronald Reagan have coupled with unprecedented corporate greed to create a true plutocracy.
I work right now as an IT contractor at a large bank, right across the street from the Chicago Federal Reserve. For the past three weeks a growing number of activists are outside my door into work as part of the now global Occupy Wall Street movement. At first they reminded me of us – I saw a young man in pajama pants with his homemade sign and long scraggly hair and thought “oh, boy, your message is WAY too important to be diluted by looking like someone who the bankers and Fox news (who are out almost every day on my street) can dismiss.
But lately it’s a much broader mix. Elders (yes! even older than me!), union workers, and many people holding signs that say things like “Yes, I have a job and I am here on my lunch hour so you can keep yours.”
I can feel it. I can smell it. It is coursing through my veins. This time “could be the big one.”
A few years back my brother lent me a university course on CD on Plato’s Republic. I had not read any Plato other than The Symposium (which I greatly enjoyed) and I have to say I was shocked at how radical he was. One thing that really stood out to me was his clear laying out of the succession of styles of government. He said that what follows a plutocracy (a government by, of, and for the rich – ie., America) is violent revolution, then democracy.
I want our democracy back. I smell the revolution coming. I just hope it isn’t violent. Because when I see the signs (not in Chicago, but in pictures of New York) saying “Eat the Rich” – well, you’d be dining on some people I love. And, really, some of you might think that ***I*** look like a hefty appetizer. I don’t think that’s what we need.
But a change? A way to get America back from the repeal of Glass-Steagle and from Citizens United (which firmly sealed the deal on making it an official Plutocracy)? yes, we need that.
And as we chant in front of the Federal Reserve:
Can never be defeated.”
We ARE the 99%. People – join me. It is time to WAKE UP. Now. Act!
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