Transformation or tyranny?

June 9, 2020

Our convergent and compounding national crises – health, economic, political, ecological, racial, moral – make the choice facing us painfully clear.  We either succeed in structurally transforming the current system in ways that ensure the dignity, worth, and social equality of all, as well as the resilience of the way we relate to the natural world, or we succumb to the long-term violent and tyrannical enforcement of a rigged system of inequality, exploitation, oppression, and unsustainable resource extraction and environmental pollution.

The political and economic elites assert that reform is possible.  The right collection of incremental changes will, they insist, correct the worst abuses, ferret out the bad apples, increase transparency and accountability, and, most importantly, mollify the masses enough to get them out of the streets.

They’re wrong.  It’s already gone too far, and too many people, with young people, and especially young people of color, in the lead, are now too “woke.”  The emperor has no clothes.  The nakedness of systemic racism, the nakedness of gross economic inequality, the nakedness of xenophobia, the nakedness of working class exploitation, the nakedness of inadequate and inaccessible health care, and housing, and education and other social supports for a growing proportion of American citizens – the raw nakedness of the state’s failure to address the genuine needs of the people is now far too real for far too many for inherently tepid reforms to gain pacifying traction.  Only major structural change will do, change much closer to system replacement than to system reform.

It hardly exonerates racist policing, and certainly not the murder of poor, black, and unarmed civilians, but as the enforcers of the status quo, cops are a symptom of the system rot, and not its cause.  Just as Donald Trump did not cause the corruption of our political culture of legalized bribery and looting, any more than he “causes” racist behavior; he is what a diseased, democracy-in-name-only, system vomited up, and replacing him with Joe Biden will not cure a disorder 1000 times more lethal than Covid-19.  It will just mean a friendlier face to the fascist tyranny that will be required to keep the people in check.

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