Sunday, September 11, 2011

An End of an Empire ...or an Opportunity for a New UNITED States of America? Time Will Tell.

In 2008, I wrote a blog titled:

WARGAMES - The Fall of Empire

Basically, the status the U.S. has held as world superpower is eroding and eroding quickly. I would argue that this has been a self-inflicted fall, and a long time coming. While it will be painful, and most painful for the most vulnerable, I also believe it to be an opportunity for us to build a more perfect union....time will tell.

But times are a changing. 

In 2007, I wrote an essay I titled The Fire This Time

It was an analysis of post-Katrina community organizing, specifically around the Jena case of racial injustice. By using Spike Lee films as metaphors, I argued that this generation (hip hop) had matured and was ready to take the front line in the struggle. I argued that while power dynamics had not changed, and our history had always been one of resistence to repressive dynamics (particularly re: white supremacy), times have changed and now we are able to sustain a people based movement. My reasoning was based on the following:

1. Change would be cultural based.... A cultural generational shift would be part of the catalyst. Jeff Chang wrote an important essay about this cultural and generational shift:

2. The critical realization that "they don't care about us" so we must take care of ourselves (so poignantly expressed on live TV by Kanye West when he stated that Bush doesn't like Black people). While many may have given lip service to the notion before, the images from TV showed the reality of it...and there was no choice but to fully embrace self determination as the only path to survival...and freedom. Depending on the government or other people's "better nature" gets you "status quo". 

I tell my classes that the main lesson I want them to learn is that "they don't care about you"... "they" can be substituted by "power" or  "the status quo social structure".  So we must ACT to secure what is in our best interest and the interest of our families and community.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions... and the road to freedom and salvation is paved with ACTION (good deeds, acts, and service). And those that think they can get to the "promise land" through the actions of others, be it a leader or their "Savior"... will find that promise land forever elusive....

3. The changing world order has undermined the U.S empire's power..and Bush's overreaching policies (wars and more privitazation) actually helped accelerate the downfall. Multinational corporations now trump the power of nation-states supremacy has replaced white supremacy as the #1 global organizing principle. Everyone is in a race to the bottom which is now within reach with the highest concentration of wealth among only a small percentage.

4. The other side of the same coin is changing world dynamics, specifically re: technology. Globalization has opened up the world...and made it much smaller at the same time. Disney was right: It’s a small world after all. :) Technology has forever changed the power to control information. Propaganda is still a viable tool via media framing, but with technology, information comes quickly and much more freely via a number of sources.  The status quo power structure will have to take more drastic means to maintain its control; hence more infractions on civil liberties, police state, corrupt politics, etc.

5. But Bob Marley explains the root of all change: A hungry mob is an angry mob. The concentration of wealth is unsustainable and when people get desperate enough, they will fight back. and, you get....Revolution. And today that is in the Middle East. Tomorrow? It could be anywhere. It could be here.

This past week was all about JOBS. On September 8, 2011, President Obama delivered his much anticipated jobs speech to Congress.

A friend also sent me an article that was buzzing around the internet titled: Are Jobs Obsolete?  This article is an important read for anyone who is interested in a more just world. Its premise is provocative, but Rushkoff (author) provides an interesting vision for the future. It is worthy of a serious dialogue.  After reading it, I thought of all the reasons it  makes good sense for this country given the crossroads we are at. In many ways, I see the roots of his premise already at play in countries like Jamaica and in cultures like Hip Hop, where traditional opportunities have always been scarce (read jobs) but survival depended on human ingenuity and self productivity.

I also thought of the objective reality we face that will make this vision difficult to realize  in the near future. The fact that on a finite planet, resources are finite and in a social structure where resources are unevenly distributed, material sustenance is not treated as a basic right, but is instead, used as a hegemonic tool to promote fear over freedom.  As long as material sustenance is always at risk, people can be manipulated via hegemony to the benefit of those controlling the resources. And until the masses control the resources, this manipulation is certain to remain. The present reality in the U.S. is also not the global reality. While the U.S. standard of living is in decline, "emerging markets" around the world are now experiencing a new standard of living and are now only gaining the [false] benefit of being an emerging power in the race to the bottom.  
So while Rushkoff's vision for the future is actually a reality for many already on a micro-level, to achieve macro implementation will mean that not only have we secured a world where all have basic human rights of food and shelter with no fear that they will lose them, but we have also secured a world where all will want no more than those basic human rights.  Cooperative systems will get us the former... they may not be able to guarantee the latter. I'm not sure what will... for that reason, the struggle continues...continuously.