We could with justice call it the Sanders Spring, for this advent of new life, the sense of hopefulness and possibility that accompanies it, is substantially bound up with the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders for the presidency of the United States. Like the Arab Spring, and other eponymously named springs of recent history, ours is an upwelling of widespread popular discontent matched to an insistent optimism–an optimism of action, not of mere sentiment. This is muscular hope, and it is invigorated by the massive participation of younger people–those with the greatest stake in the pivotal decisions soon to be made.
This will not, pace Rachel Carson, be a silent spring but a noisy one, a roaring uproar that needs to swell through the urban canyons and rural backroads of America. If ever there were a time to take to the streets and clamor for the disruption and disempowerment of the ruling suites, this is it. It does carry a sense of End Times, not in any eschatological sense but with the quite visible (all-too-visible, given the calving of major icebergs, e.g.) changes showing us there is no way back from here.
At Bella Caledonia, Mike Small quotes the Enough collective as follows: “Capitalism is based on the belief that the best way to organise the economy is by giving us what we want, all of the time. We are addicted to capitalism because we are blinded by the illusion that we can satiate our desires by consuming more.” I think of the socialistically tinged values of those whose collective voice and practical mutualism is budding the American Spring, and am reminded of Herbert Marcuse’s idea of The Great Refusal:
In proclaiming the “permanent challenge,” (la contestation permanente), the “permanent education,” the Great Refusal, they recognized the mark of social repression, even in the most sublime manifestations of traditional culture, even in the most spectacular manifestations of technical progress. They have again raised a specter (and this time a specter which haunts not only the bourgeoisie but all exploitative bureaucracies): the specter of a revolution which subordinates the development of productive forces and higher standards of living to the requirements of creating solidarity for the human species, for abolishing poverty and misery beyond all national frontiers and spheres of interest, for the attainment of peace.
That extract from Marcuse’s An Essay On Liberation conveys much of the perfume–one could say, the scent of the blossoming underway–of democratic expression arising in response to the unprecedented world crisis we face today. We know that much must be given up in the way of convenience and ease in order to secure humanity’s continued existence on this planet, but we also sense that this will, in a welcome paradox, occur only through the reinvigoration of community, detachment from keyboards and screens, the return to actual relations among neighbors and friends. Character may once more return to be the most important aspect of human individuality, rather than personality. We may rediscover substance ascendant over appearances.
Who knows? It is spring–let’s not only welcome it, let’s midwife it into being. All out for Bernie Sanders, and make some noise for the budding renewal of democracy.