“What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw–that it finally forces us to grow. A year that screams so loudly, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber. A year we finally accept the need for change. Declare change. Work for change. Become the change.
“A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart. 2020 isn’t canceled, but rather the most important year of them all?”
This little proem has been making the viral rounds in social media; an unmatched example of our ever-buoyant, ever-hopeful American optimism. It also exhibits complete ignorance of our genuine American history, of how political action really works to create lasting, meaningful change. Hope, as historian Harry Ausmus says, is the last myth we should abandon.
We need to replace an empty theology of unfounded “hope” with the collective rediscovery of our revolutionary heritage of local political action, that we abandoned for the “Progress” that mathematized quantitative analysis that corporatized technology promised they would bring about. Organized political action that knows how to conduct effective nonviolent political campaigns with a structure, strategies, and tools for draining all the moral authority the power elite needs to keep its government intact. For those who missed the lecture, that means the entire monetary-market system, the corporate entelechy, and those corporate vassals comprising our existing government. We can do it, too, and help the United States of America to become that change. It won’t happen overnight, maybe not in a year; but we can make a real start to change our human world and planet, and not according to some prefab corporate blueprint on their terms.
But it won’t happen simply by voting Donald Trump out of office in 2020, as desirable for the nation’s good, and replacing him with a seemingly sanitized Joe Biden, as unavoidable as that may be.
Notice: Leslie Dwight’s “What if 2020 isn’t cancelled?” quoted at the top doesn’t actually say anything about achieving the change or the changes that need achieving. A democracy that “forces us to grow”? Doesn’t sound like democracy to me. Those grammatical commands for change (“Declare…Work…Become…”) reminds me of Buffalo Springfield’s warning in “For What It’s Worth”: “Everybody marching and carrying signs, / Mostly saying ‘Hooray for Our Side’”! Become the change? Empty uplift rhetoric. And the hand-waving for unity (“we finally band together”) as some sort of solution to the crises and challenges we face reminds me of the sort of praise one heard for Adolf Hitler in another time: “He got Germany up and moving. He got all Germany working again.” All of Hitler’s speeches and rallies were designed to induce a Dionysian fever and euphoria of “national pride” and “unity.” It worked, too—for a while. This cry for “unity” also reminds me of something Hannah Arendt said: Instead of unity, maybe we should be pressing for greater respect for disunity. Nothing, after all, could unify a people as much as a nuclear holocaust. Ask the Japanese, if you don’t believe me.
Now, I don’t question the author’s motives or intentions. But it’s a rallying cry . . . to what?
And that is not a hopeful sign of “progress.”