I have less and less confidence in our national checks and balances’ capability to cope with disturbances in our political system’s functions that are deeply prepared, procedurally, ideologically, and unconsciously. Climate change could be a simple test case for our system: has the interaction of the 3 branches of government, with their typical swaying from L to R to L between two parties (which we may see as radical right and centrist-enabling) managed to do its share to ward off global warming responsibly to its own citizens and to the peoples of the world whose basic rights it vows to protect? I find there is little grounds for trust or confidence, and much for shock and awe.
Coordination, within our consumer culture, is easily done by passively standing by, noting the authorities’ current statements, behaviors, and undertakings, and commenting with more or less vehemence than one might show while watching NFL play-offs. Shock, disdain, worrying, and lamentation among diverse fragments of the population are readily enfolded within the capacities of large-scale national coordination in service to a centralized regime supported by large corporate sponsors.
The alternative, as I understand it, is not just to criticize but to actively and visibly participate in alternatively oriented statements, behaviors, and undertakings. Food distribution nonprofits. Nonviolence direct action trainings. Public documentary film screenings concerned with peace, justice, and deepening awareness of interpersonal challenges. Petitions and donations on line.
Commentary is not enough. Conjoint participation in a meaningful activity with others is vital. This working group on the study of authoritarianism is, however, an active agency of contesting misuses of power and of allegiance, which requires concerted energy to sustain its function and may result in increased strength in a community’s will to resist radical disempowerment and to envision realistic and inspiring options for the near and distant future.