Thoughts on: The reinvigorating of the common dream and the struggle for a broader collective social conscience.
“Enough of the perfection of differences! We ought to be building bridges.” Todd Gitlin
In Gitlin’s book. The Twilight Of The Common Dream he explains this “obsession with group differences” as the (unintended) legacy of the progressive social movements of the 1960’s, which operated on the principle of separate organization on behalf of distinct interests, rather than a universal principle of equality.’ ENotes
There can be no common ground, if nobody can hear.
While all around us we see the PR departments of both, political parties and corporations, the plausibility mechanisms that keep the citizen idle, or the deflection of their energies guided up blind alleys. Meanwhile at the opposite end others are shouting into an empty tube nobody can hear. Folk can’t hear, support, or oppose, the particular issue being projected into a vacuum. A vacuum of isolationist left wing media or the solitary confinement of single issue politics.
Part of the above mentioned unintended legacy, knowingly or unknowingly has developed the overarching idea of divide, sub divide and rule. Creating a movement that sometimes isn’t capable of moving past its own rhetoric, no matter how articulate the arguments or evidence presented to the contrary.
Each group or political persuasion has its own passages, catch words, phrases and style of delivery. When we hear these triggers we learn to process and categorise what we are hearing. A switch in the brain filters and channels information, or not, depending on if the style of delivery appeals to us, not thinking about what we actually hear.
We all do it to a greater or lesser extent. We don’t listen. We have a tendency to pick up or spot our differences, before, or sometimes completely ignore, what we could have in common with others. The reluctance to stand back and allow a uncontroversial good idea to go forward, until we know if we agree with the philosophy and ideological makeup of whoever suggests it.
This is not a great tactic for going forward. We can not all be right all of the time.
To take up a place in the left these days, or what you imagine to be the left, can be a lonely existence, unless one is connected to a club, topical group, or ideologically driven set of tactics and actions. The edges have become so defined and watertight around many groupings, that any idea of overarching principals that could strengthen the structure of a wider and more powerful movement that will be needed to challenge neoliberalism, seems impossible.
Yet the complete opposite is true. It is all possible. But it will take a rewinding of history to unravel the neoliberal project started in the 1960 to Balkanise the left into groups of single issue politics that Gitlin describes in his book. ‘The Twilight of the common dream’. A dream that the inhumanity in the world could be stopped and replace by less harmful human endeavours. As the 60s song goes.
‘C’mon people smile on your brother everybody get together try to love one another right now.’
Love for ones fellow human beings was a strong element of the movement back then. (although we still struggled with the patriarchy ). Love a much derided notion then by the establishment and even now as a flakey hippy thing. like “All you need is love”.
It is not all you need. But what is the point of anything without it?
Look what is happening to our world through the lack of it. That is really what the 60s revolution was founded on. Love for people. And that is what made it so dangerous. A common dream for humanity. A simple basic concept to understand that underpinned a movement and the purpose of its actions. As democracy can not exist under capitalism neither can some kinds of love. Sounds naive, maybe.
It is worth thinking about, that the neoliberal counter revolution, that set out to destroy the 60s outbreak of democracy, was mostly based on the encouragement of love; the love of oneself. The self development of me, upwardly mobil; the entrepreneurial spirit, positive thinking, my body is a temple. The hippies and their counter alternatives were vilified, as unclean, a danger to society, were related more in the corporate media to Charles Manson, weird sects, than the universal call for peace, love and freedom for all.
In the States our love was met by Cointelpro, set into action by the state, fire bombing and murdering, with the objective to destroy any trace of socialist organising across the US. Big money started to infiltrate the environmental movement. Saving the environment became more about greenwash and changing one set of consumables for a more eco friendly set. The movement was broken into more manageable assemblages. We learned or were enticed to become less independent. Corporate money started to drive the movement and guide it away from dangerous paths. Our movement became more about stopping and less about replacing. We became consumed in technology, rather than what it could do to take us forward. Our young activists starts to be consumed by funding managers and conforming to pleasing them. Our organisations became more about the organisation, rather than those they were set out to support. The coming together became the drifting apart, sectarianism, life style, self gratification, careers, individualism and all of the other isms consumed us.
We lost the common dream, the love for all, that kept us on our path. The propaganda that vilified that dream and that love, is because that is what the elites feared most. They worked to transfer our love for other human beings, to the love of things and personalities. And working class solidarity to inward working class competition. At this end of the pond we had Thatcher to thank for delivering the neoliberal project to these shores, which reinvigorated and exposed the latent hate the upper classes always had for ordinary people anyway and helped to spread that hate amongst them. A fact that is patently evident in the right wing policies that have unfolded since, to keep people apart and isolated.
People are sick to their back teeth with it. Sick with consumption; consuming fake news, fake politics, fake economics, terrible jobs, high rents, poison food, trash TV, the advertising industry, war and a planet that is exhausted from the demands we are putting on it. A world slipping away from its humanitarian roots. And we can’t buy our way back into it.
The next revolution as will be about giving up things not acquiring more. A bit in common like the last one. Only this time, even more, we will need to prove our love for human kind by action. But we also will need to listen more before we decide what form that action will take. The 60s revolution was being destroyed before it was fully born. We are in danger of repeating the same mistakes again if the positive energy that is building up around us is destroyed by in-fighting, ego, fake news and the inability to listen in order to find that which connects us.
Remember we were all born of a small group of primates in Africa, and we are all female until hormonal changes in the womb decide on the sex and sexuality to be born. Therefor we are all brothers and sisters, irrespective of faith or origin. As human beings we all have the same communal goals and this is what should connect us, not segregation into isms. Neither are we commodities to be described, ordered and categorised for the sake of political gains or profit margins. We are human beings and that should be our primary concern – Our humanity for each other should be the driver, our love for life and a rebuilding of a common dream, the vehicle to get us out of the madness and the left back on track.
The Radical Imagination Project.