I have sometimes been approached by persons that I suspected were either agents or assets of intelligence agencies during the 20 years that I have been a social activist. The tempo of these disconcerting encounters increased when I abruptly relocated to a remote town on the Oregon coast after the defeat of Occupy Wall Street, a movement I helped lead. My physical inaccessibility seemed to provoke a kind of desperation among these shadowy forces.
When the Women’s March descended on Washington, D.C., the day after the Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 21, 2017, its size wasn’t the only point of contention. Many skeptics wondered what good a march could do, even if collectively it was the largest march in recorded history. As with almost all political action these days, the burning question was whether it would make any difference.
After the collapse of Occupy Wall Street, my wife and I fled the progressive groupthink of Berkeley, California and resettled out here in Nehalem, in rural Oregon, close to unpoliced forests and far from the nearest university, airport or anarchist infoshop.
As Donald Trump vilifies the press, the courts, immigrants, Muslims, Democrats, protesters and anyone who disagrees with him, it isn't hard to imagine a modern-day Mussolini—or worse. But an even greater threat lies in Republicans' march toward full control of state government. If they get there, they will have the frightening power to amend the Constitution into their own authoritarian image...or Ayn Rand's.
We live in dark times. The planet is warming even faster than scientists anticipated, economic inequality is now likely the worst it’s ever been in American history, Wall Street and large corporations have enormous control over our lives and the media system, and mass incarceration and the war on drugs continue to destroy millions of lives and perpetuate structural racism. Capital and the state have fused, and reactionary elements hold the levers of state power. The United States government is now unapologetically a tool for capitalists and corporations to enrich themselves while repressing opposition. Neoliberalism has intensified into neofascism, just as capitalism morphed into fascism in the 1920s and '30s.
What next? That is the obvious question in light of the unprecedented success of the Women’s March, although it was obvious to march organizers well in advance.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore suggested the left form a resistance movement against President-elect Donald Trump.
The first real conversation I had with Sarah Jaffe was on a school bus heading out for a series of direct actions—and a few brave arrests—in Washington, D.C., with 1,000 community leaders from National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. It was one of our biggest events of the year and leaders had come on planes, trains, and (mostly) automobiles to be there. For Sarah Jaffe, it was just another day of doing what she does best.
Much of our future is reliably unpredictable, and what more so than the moments when mass movements suddenly break out and sweep across our world? Who expected, for example, that for perhaps the first time in history hundreds of thousands of people would hit the streets of U.S. cities and towns—and millions the global streets from London and Barcelona to Sydney and Jakarta—in early 2003 to protest the coming invasion of Iraq, a war, that is, that hadn’t even begun? Or that such a movement would essentially vanish not long after that war was predictably launched?
Noam Chomsky sees a lot more in the Bernie Sanders campaign than just a presidential run. “Bernie Sanders is doing courageous things and organizing a lot of people,” Chomsky told Abby Martin on Telesur’s "The Empire Files."
Ed Kane teaches finance at Boston College and is a grantee of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He studies the dangerous risks posed by big banks and sees the current system as hurting taxpayers and favoring the interests of megabankers and financiers. Recently, the financial reform proposals of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have gotten a flurry of press. Will either of them make us safer? Are economic experts using their professional expertise to judge them or blowing political and philosophical smoke? Ed Kane discusses these issues and more. This interview was originally published on the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s blog.