We Got Next

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Occupy Wall Street October 7, 2011
Occupy Wall Street October 7, 2011
(image by Michael Fleshman) License DMCA
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.

I was twelve when the economy crashed and thirteen when I was entranced by the sloganeering of the Obama campaign, and I watched — right around the time I became adequately literate — the fear engrained by the Bush administration morph into a feeling of cynicism under the Obama administration. Under Bush, my peers, as well as my parents and their peers, felt a kind of useful and productive rage. Under Obama, this turned into a feeling of impotence, carelessness, and sometimes a sort of masturbatory self-congratulation — but mainly a feeling that there is no use trying to do anything because no one can change it, not even Obama. This attitude was consistent between people who liked and disliked Obama.

I was sixteen when the Occupy Movement took off in Zuchotti Park. I will come back to this in the part III of this analysis.

I was eighteen when I first fully understood that the planet is disintegrating beneath my feet, when I first resented the adults in my life for holding my hand around the torch that burns the planet. I remember a conversation with an environmental science scholar from Marlboro College, graduating the year I was incoming, in which he told me, “the only way climate change won’t seriously shorten your life is if you can find a way to live in the middle of nowhere, about 1,700 feet above sea-level, with your own solar panels, a well, and maybe a gun.” Maybe he was being hyperbolic. Maybe he was not. Regardless, it was around this time I understood that climate change was going to be a very real and practical part of my life — and perhaps my death.

My college years were the last years of the Obama administration, in which the president began, more and more, to boast his record as the oil president, including his plans to open up drilling in the arctic.

That brings us up to now. I am twenty-one in the hottest year on record (again). Putin, Obama, and Clinton are spitting hyper-masculine trash-talk with their nuclear arsenals behind them as Russia, NATO, the US and the mainstream media stomp all over Syria, guns drawn, eyes closed. And the neo-fascist rise of Donald Trump sweeps the nation. The corporate agenda to wreak havoc on the planet, as we march toward World War III and ecocide, all in the name of prosperity and democracy, for the purposes and illusions of our corporate idols, is alive and well.

Until I was about thirteen I had a friend who I’ll call Mike. Mike was the youngest of four brothers. He and all of his brothers ended up drug addicted, fight prone, and in and out of jail. Mike, with the help of his older brothers, had been using drugs and getting into fights since we were about ten years old. One day, Mike and I figured out we had the same therapist. When we discovered this, he said, “Dood, there’s nothing I hate more than cops and therapists.” Cops, I understood. After all, our group of friends, growing up in an abandoned working class paper-mill town, made daily games out of misdemeanors. I remember feeling puzzled as to why Mike equated cops with therapists. After some growing, however, I understood that my therapist — and Mike’s therapist — was not in my life to make me smart, creative, interested or interesting; my therapist was molding my malleable little self into form on behalf of my parents, my teachers, my school principal, my community, my future employers, and society as a whole, doing for my mind what cops did for my body; he was policing my brain — not there to help me be who I am but to help me be learn to be good, to behave, to be good by the standards of a rotting society.

Our psychologists, Mike understood, along with others in their class such as police officers, lawyers, politicians, journalists, teachers, and others, ought to be there to protect us, to help us, to guide us, to help our society grow indefinitely toward the good. They do not. They protect a grim and deathly social order. Mike understood that it was those whose job it is to protect him that would profit off of his destruction for his whole life. His response was rage.

II. Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, and the World Order of Corporate Death

The threats of nuclear weapons and climate change, together, have been perhaps best elucidated by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky has been writing about these topics for a long time, recently most notably in his 2014 talk, mentioned above, Surviving the 21st Century, and in his June 2016 article in Tom Dispatch, “The Doomsday Clock, Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change and the Prospects for Survival.” The preface of his article notes that the Obama administration has gotten rid of fewer nuclear weapons than any post- Cold War administration, and notes that “The U.S. nuclear arsenal remains large enough to destroy several earth sized planets.” Chomsky, whose method has always been base his arguments strictly and soberly on evidence and history, and who is only an alarmist inasmuch as the evidence and history are alarming, is seemingly primarily devoting the last years of his life to the possibility for human survival. No American intellectual has the stature to replace him when he goes.

Referring to a story in the New York Times, Chomsky writes,

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“‘two thirds of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions.’ And by a five-to-three margin, Americans regard climate as more important than the economy. But it doesn’t matter. Public opinion is dismissed. That fact, once again, sends a strong message to Americans. It is their task to cure the dysfunctional political system, in which popular opinion is a marginal factor. The disparity between public opinion and policy, in this case, has significant implications for the fate of the world.”

And further down, Chomsky writes, “The undermining of functioning democracy is one of the contributions of the neoliberal assault on the world’s population in the past generation.” American corporate profit dominates the agenda of global economic life, even as it is inadequate in dominating the American public mind. It does not matter what the population desires or is concerned with, corporate profit reigns supreme. The fact that corporate profit almost always counts more than public opinion is integral to understanding how the American government holds steadfast to an agenda that accelerates climate change and threatens nuclear war. In part III, I will explore how we can take up the task of curing our dysfunctional political system.

The expansion of NATO under Obama, like his predecessors, has no doubt increased tensions with Russia. The New York Times, after one of the most recent expansions, ran a story titled, “NATO to Expand Military Presence in Europe to Deter Russians,” which ironically fails to understand that NATO expansion has only ever increased tensions with Russia, not deterred them. Such an inquiry, unsurprisingly, goes completely unrecognized in the article, even despite the concession that, “The size of the American contribution surprised some analysts, who saw it as one of the most aggressive moves the United States has made in the region since the fall of the Soviet Union.” The article fails to address the implications of such aggression. Later, the same article touches on NATO’s role in the war against Islamic State, again missing the grim irony of simple cause and effect logic. Violence and the threat of violence are held up as the greatest mechanism for problem solving, even though the problems increase with the violence. We live increasingly in a culture where hegemony through the ability to kill the most and the most efficiently is the same as world peace. We now live in a moral black hole.

Similarly, the Obama administration, after spreading the message of disarmament as a means for peace in its first five months, has betrayed this message in more ways than any administration since the end of the Cold War. NPR’s report on the subject is worth quoting at length. Philip Ewing reports, “Obama has put the US on course to spend $ 1 trillion on upgrading its nuclear arsenal over the next three decades,” and further down, “a president who has opposed nuclear weapons all his life has wound up asking congress to fund a new class of ballistic missile submarine, a new stealth bomber, upgrades to the current stock of nuclear weapons, a new cruise missile and billions of dollars of other programs.” Another frightening move in this vein under the Obama administration is the development of smaller nuclear weapons designed to hit more targeted regions. The Times reports, “The explosive innards of the revitalized weapons may not be entirely new but the smaller yields and better targeting can make the arms more tempting to use — even to use first, rather than in retaliation,” a scenario which could quickly result in disastrous escalation.

In Surviving the 21st Century, Chomsky explains how the state justifies putting the population at severe risk through environmental destruction and possession of nuclear weapons in his analysis of the word “security” as it is used in government documents. He warns that there are two definitions of the word “security,” one for the state and one for the population, and that we must consider this when the state justifies the continued existence of these threats. One definition of security is the security of the state and its private interests, and the other is the security of the population. The state can only be said to protect the “security” of private interests and centralized power, not the security of the population. In fact, the population is viewed as a threat to the security of state and corporate interests. This dynamic explains the activities of the state on the issues of climate change and nuclear weapons: the state is willing to risk the security of the population to maintain the security of its own economic and political interests. As Chomsky concludes at the end of the talk, profits — or interests — tomorrow are far more important than the future of his grandchildren. The word “interests” is defined in the same way for the state as the word “security.”

The preservation of human life is not substantially regarded at all by either primary political party. Climate change is an emergency; we are close to the point of no return in destroying the planet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports,

“A new study published online in the journal Science finds that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th Century. The study refutes the notion that there has been a slowdown or ‘hiatus’ in the rate of global warming in recent years.”

And Margaret Davidson, NOAA’s senior advisor for coastal inundation and resilience science and services, and Michael Angelina, executive director of the Academy of Risk Management and Insurance, have recently said in a climate conference that the sea levels could rise as much as three meters, or nine feet, by 2050-60, a catastrophic level. Our elites, however, are busier waging war on the civilian populations of the world than on curbing emissions.
The self-proclaimed liberals we ceded our values to are swiftly crushing those values precisely by claiming to uphold them. It is because of figures like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that well-meaning, liberal minded voters, who are concerned about economic inequality, climate change and war, are complicit and even encouraging of the mechanisms that expand these threats. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama claim to believe that nuclear weapons are a threat and that climate change exists, but the American left no longer exists in the mainstream outside of its rhetoric. The most powerful politicians and corporate figures in the Democratic party have learned that as long as they talk like guardians they can work like executioners. Their lies control our fate.

This duality is highlighted in a first rate article by Professor Sandy Tolan on the death of a Two-State solution for Israel and Palestine. The article begins by describing how Obama pledged $38 billion toward Israel’s military arsenal, then had the audacity to say at the UN just a week later that “Israel must recognize that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” and, soon after, in Israel, he applauded former Israeli president Shimon Perez at Perez’s funeral, for understanding that “the Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people.” Tolan writes about this two faced approach:

“[Obama’s] scolding words shrivel into nothingness in the face of a single number: 38 billion. With its latest promise of military aid, the United States has essentially sanctioned Israel’s impunity, its endless colonization of Palestinian land, its military occupation of the West Bank, and its periodic attacks by F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters using Hellfire missiles on the civilians of Gaza.”

Tolan’s article is well worth reading for anyone who cares about the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

We can examine this two faced approached, again most shockingly on climate and war, in Hillary Clinton. Since thrill of the Bernie Sanders campaign — contemporarily radical and traditionally moderate — died down, we have seen the primary concern of the Clinton campaign be not if, but how, to wage war. Clinton does not need the base that Sanders rallied; she can steal enough votes from Trump to fill the void. Indeed, she talks about war more than Donald Trump. It’s true, Trump has “no plan,” but it is also true that Clinton, who opposes the carbon tax, has an absolutely horrifying plan for our military state, and herself has no plan to halt the environmental devastation of our futures — at least none that is not counterbalanced by her record as a key political tool in spreading fracking all over the world, along with her obscene amounts of funding from the fossil fuel industry — far more than Trump has received. Here I do differ from Chomsky; I do not believe that Clinton saying that climate change exists means anything if there is no evidence to suggest that she has or ever will do anything but make the problem far worse. In fact, paying lip service to climate change while exacerbating it is worse than denying its existence; at least denying climate change pisses off the right people. Intelligent and informed people have no excuse to act so stupidly.

Clinton, the posterchild of the outright failure and betrayal of the Democratic Party, does not have the “security” of the population in mind, but rather, the security of centralized power and private interests, to go back to Chomsky’s distinction. Clinton has said to Goldman Sachs bankers in a private Q & A, referring to a “no fly zone” in Syria, which she champions on the campaign trail, “You’re going to have to kill a lot of Syrians,” along with admitting it would take tens of thousands of American troops to maintain, and further down, she admits “you would have to take a lot of civilians.” And, again in a private speech to Goldman Sachs, on China, “We’re going to ring China with missile defense,” and “We’re going to put more of our fleet in the area.” I hardly have to refer to her trash talk with Putin and her stance on NATO. On both climate change and the threat of perpetual war and nuclear weapons, Clinton and is a symptom of the agenda laid out for our future under both primary parties — an agenda set and controlled by our corporate tyrants.

III. The Emergency of Resistance and its Basic Model

The purpose of societal institutions such as electoral politics and voting, congress, the press, the classroom, the safety and security apparatuses, to name just a few, in which political reform and social betterment are supposed to be possible, is to create public spheres in which to address the grievances, criticisms, and crises of the public through agreed upon problem solving processes. All of these institutions in our society have been infiltrated by a small center of corporate and state power and influence and, therefore, have failed. They have become either ineffective or morally bankrupt. (Hedges catalogues this process well in his book The Death of the Liberal Class.) And this is why we do technically live in a totalitarian society. The takeover of corporate power is not new, but it is now total. It has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our public lives. Every institution that is supposed to develop and protect the common good has instead pissed it away in exchange for power and profit, or been made to submit to the power of the profited. This has been displayed most crudely and nakedly through the security and surveillance apparatus, the largest one in human history.

What does it mean to the youth that these institutions have failed? It means that we must work to create our own public political spheres without the help of, and in opposition to, our corporate elite. They have abandoned us. Now we must abandon them. Here we should take advice from the critical pedagogues, such as Henry Giroux, bell hooks, Paulo Friere and others, who have long proposed creating public spheres in which we may politicize our lives and take action.

Start by paying no further attention to the presidential elections. They don’t need you. You don’t need them.

It seems to me that resistance must work at least on three levels, and on all three levels at the same time in each act of resistance, if possible: 1) self-reliance and community sustainability, 2) civil disobedience, and 3) education. We must create our own public spheres, in our own communities, in which to tell the truth and deal with our grievances, as the traditional spheres collapse around us. To end, I will simply run through some examples already taking place of these political spaces, created for and by the people, that embody these qualities — some of the qualities or all three of them — upon which we must model our lives and our future.

One of my first assignments as a journalist, when I was sixteen years old, was to cover Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park. There are at least a few reasons why Occupy was effective. Occupy, at least in Zuccotti Park, offered a space in which people could politicize their lives together, in dialogue and resistance. It sent a message to the power elite that the population knows what the powerful are up to, and that the powerful don’t always know what the population is up to. There were a few criticisms of Occupy from the mainstream media which, unsurprisingly, I saw as strengths when I covered it. One was that Occupy was not centered around one principle. There were anti-war demonstrators, education reformists, anarchists, communists, Democrats, some conservatives, students strapped with obscene debt and little to no employment, and environmental activists there. In the mainstream media and press, this was treated as a lack of organization. But all of these issues have to be railed against, and they have to be railed against as issues that result from the corruption of wealth inequality. Our culture of rebellion must be all inclusive and hyper aware of the apocalyptic and nonpartisan betrayal on the part of our elites.

Occupy created — in the language of the critical pedagogues — a “political space” in which people could confront and deny the forces of domination in this empire. It was a place where people could talk and listen to each other, where people could live in a politically motivated, class conscious, and in many ways sustainable community, a place where people could eat, sleep, create, and protest together. Additionally — a detail which does not receive enough attention — there were many aspects of Occupy focused on the education of the population, such as its newspaper and its peoples’ library, a commendable book exchange and donation center. Educated students, drug addicts, out of work journalists and artists, activists and others could come together and talk about how and why they had been abandoned. It was the most organized, powerful, political and politically correct middle figure to the establishment we had seen in this country since the Vietnam War.

I want to end this piece by arguing that, fragmented throughout our society, we have the foundations for a genuinely powerful and permanently sustainable political rebellion. We need to bring them to each other in a more coherent way. If we can organize as a political community, and if small communities throughout the country can organize, radical change will be essentially inevitable. As Howard Zinn understood, “power of the people on top depends on obedience of the people below.” The fact that power relies on obedience is why the purpose of the media and political establishment is to confuse, under-educate, and divide the public — because once the public is united by a cause that has regard for human life the elites as we know them are finished. Once we unite, it is not we, but they who will have to obey us. The reverse of Zinn’s comment is also true: the power of the people below relies on the obedience of the people on top. The foundations for this unity are in place in certain political spheres. I will simply list some of them below. Again, these spheres, to be sustainable and politically effective, must be endowed with the three following qualities: education, civil disobedience, and self and community based sustainability. The six political spheres I will list below all have at least one, but usually all, of these qualities. These six spaces are not the only political spaces that we ought to model our sustained rebellion after, but they are some of the most important, some of the most active in organizing people, and some both. I’ll note that I include the Green Party as one of the most important, not because it is one of the most active but because it has the potential to be one of the most active. Considering that the 2016 elections offered some of the most disliked candidates in American history, considering that we are seeing the last gasps of the Democratic party right now — who, by nominating a right wing candidate in Hillary Clinton have almost ensured that they will lose the election in the next four or eight years — it is imperative and likely that voters on both the right and the left begin to build up the third parties.

In short, the six examples below are a good start to affirming life collectively by rebelling against the forces arrayed against us.

1) Developments in the world of journalism have been hugely important, especially in the age of the internet, in bringing people together around politically savvy, thorough, informative and honest reporting. Outlets like Counterpunch, Truthdig, Truth-out, Democracy Now!, TomDispatch, Common Dreams, The Intercept, Alternet, and many others provide first rate, factual, and radical news and analysis from some of the most respected figures in journalism, providing the groundwork and reference point for an ideological foundation on American the left. These outlets provide an important political space in which people can become educated about the forces controlling their lives and their society. They provide a language to the public mind that allows it to think critically and organize with others who speak out in a similar language. In the age of the internet, the floodgates have opened for advertising and vapid entertainment on the one hand, and conspiracy theories and other non-fact based analysis on the other, and these news outlets provide a dignified safe haven of solid information, rooted in fact and in institutions that are largely not beholden to corporate power. Writers like Henry Giroux, Sonali Kolhatkar, Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald and hundreds of others are now available for free to an enormous range of readers. It is not only a moral but an intellectual obligation — particularly for those of us on the left — to make sure that the mainstream media has to fight and fear extremely hard to compete with this alternative media.

2) Black Lives Matter is the most important group bringing bodies into the street right now, and the most powerful since Occupy. The critique of American politics and culture from the African American community has been the most consistent and thorough critique in our history. No ideology, group, intellectual, political party, or any kind of political opposition has offered as potent a criticism or resistance in this empire than the civil rights history of the African American community, from slavery to Black Lives Matter. Like Occupy, Black Lives Matter has the power of pulling people into the street. Another important aspect of Black Lives Matter is that it largely confronts the police, but it confronts police with nonviolent resistance even though it protests violent oppression. This is essential. Police are in between the power structures and the population. It will be hard to sustain rebellion unless the police are made aware that they are part of the population, too, unless they can be convinced to join the population over protecting the centers of power. Such confrontation is integral to this dialogue, even if that confrontation fails to change enough minds. In this way, coupled with its outreach, particularly through social media, Black Lives Matter is also an educational movement.

3) Permaculture is perhaps the most practically important component of rebellion. It is permaculture that will most physically bring lives of rebellion together through community life while simultaneously protecting the environment. Permaculture is a form mainly of agricultural production, which stands on various principles of sustainability and community, such as working with others and making a good impact on the environment rather than making less of an impact. Industrial agriculture is one of the greatest causes of global warming, and the ability to feed ourselves will provide the most important break from corporate power. If, one day, we do not have to depend on corporate power for food and water, we may not have to depend on it for anything.

4) The Green Party, as I tried to outline in my last article, offers a decent alternative to the trap of the two party system, in which both parties serve the same private interests, illustrated most recently by Hillary Clinton, who did not have to pander to the Bernie base after he lost because she could steal enough votes from Republicans to cover the difference. Jill Stein is not a great presidential candidate — something I should have been clearer about in my last article — but the Green Party, and right now Jill Stein, offer the only platform and candidate with any substantial regard for human life. Ralph Nader, however, on the issues, had the ideas and political experience to make him the most respectable presidential candidate probably since George McGovern, and with integrity as great as any candidate in our country’s history. There is a strong case to be made for Lesser of Evil (LEV) voting, but only in swing states, and even then one has to follow the third party race in those states to fully justify the LEV strategy. Furthermore, voting is the only democratic participation and distribution of power that the establishment still in any way encourages the population to use. You can use that power by voting how you like, or lose that power by voting how you are told. Not voting at all is also your right in a society that does not offer electable candidates, and this should not be dismissed. There are good reasons that voting is not a legal obligation. The Green Party is educational, providing information rather than advertisement and personality in its outreach. They are disobedient by engaging in activism and community service. Finally, it is self and community sustainable by not catering to corporate interests and by taking their voters seriously, much like the radical journalism outlets noted above, who do not depend heavily on corporate advertisers and who take their readers seriously. This is why they are the only outlets that give attention to third parties.

5) The environmental and anti-drilling and fracking culture — which should be tied to permaculture and other forms of environmental sustainability and resistance — can largely speak for itself. It should be noted, however, how powerful its message has become through Standing Rock, in which Native Americans have been protecting the earth. It should also be noted that the Standing Rock protests can be tied both to the journalism aspect through the heroic work of Amy Goodman, and, I would argue, to Black Lives Matter, in that the narrative of the struggle is largely, as it should be, the fight of a people against their neo-colonial oppressors.

6) Veterans for Peace in the United States is perhaps the most important organization in the world, because the US Military is in many ways the most frightening organization in the world. We cannot call ourselves a democracy as long as bombs bursting in air actually do call to mind the US flag to the world’s oppressed populations. Our horrifying conflicts with Russia are caused by our usage of the US military and NATO. As Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics at Kent University, has said, NATO exists solely to mitigate the threats that NATO itself poses by existing. By now, that statement is also true of the US military itself. The rise of ISIS and Islamic terrorism around the world can be unequivocally blamed on the usage of the tool of the US Military to expand and impose markets and protect corporate interests in the language of violence. There is no force as frightening and as worthy of resistance than the US military, especially because of the implications of nuclear weapons around the activity of world domination. Veterans for Peace, like Black Lives Matter and anti-drilling and anti-fracking, is active in bringing bodies into the street for protest. Many of the veterans involved in the movement also speak out quite effectively, appearing in both the mainstream and alternative news to comment on various political issues, writing books, and publishing important and timely articles on the website (hyperlinked above). The website for veterans for peace offers a compelling dialogue on the US military. In a world dominated through the US military, we owe Veterans for Peace a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay.

It would be misleading to think of any of these political groups and spheres as “movements.” We must instead think of them as ways of life, forms of and places for permanent rebellion and organization, to be passed on from generation to generation, to indefinitely reconnect us to one another and to the land.

In conclusion, it is imperative, for the sake of survival and morality, that the American population — particularly the American youth — align itself in stark defiance of a future of terrifying darkness. These political communities, along with countless others like them, are the spaces carved out in society within which we may live fully and resist. As my International Relations professor at Marlboro College, Lynette Rummel, taught, democracy does not happen in a particular country or place. It happens in a struggle. There is no point in dying without having engaged in this struggle.

(Article changed on October 23, 2016 at 14:34)

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Matthew Vernon Whalan is a journalist and writer from Great Barrington, MA. He has published journalism in the Red Crow News, The Berkshire Edge, Spin Education, The Brattleboro Reformer, and other newspapers. He is the author of The Little Book (more…)

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