Let us begin our activism right here: with the money-driven villainy at the heart of American foreign policy. To do this would be to give up the illusion that the sentimental need to “make a difference” trumps all other considerations. What innocent heroes don’t always understand is that they play a useful role for people who have much more cynical motives. The White Savior Industrial Complex is a valve for releasing the unbearable pressures that build in a system built on pillage. We can participate in the economic destruction of Haiti over long years, but when the earthquake strikes it feels good to send $10 each to the rescue fund. I have no opposition, in principle, to such donations (I frequently make them myself), but we must do such things only with awareness of what else is involved. If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.
The White Savior Industrial Complex is a valve for releasing the unbearable pressures that build in a system built on pillage. We can participate in the economic destruction of Haiti over long years, but when the earthquake strikes it feels good to send $10 each to the rescue fund.
This is an important idea. One that I haven’t been able to express as succinctly. I have expressed my issues with [insert medical issue]-walks/runs and other cosmetic volunteering as ways of sublimating or avoiding real civic participation. It seems clear now that if you participate and support these types of issues you should understand its broader position in the world. Do you participate in cancer awareness or research events? Do you also support universal healthcare? Awareness wouldn’t really be an issue if suggested screening or mandatory screening dates were sent out for you or a loved one to visit a practitioner. Cases of cancer could probably significantly reduced or made easier to treat with a single-payer healthcare system.
Maybe you aren’t into health issues but homelessness is your thing. You go to and donate at shelters but did you know that municipality/state/federal provided housing is the cheapest and most humane answer to the problem? Do you advocate for that as well?
People participate in this system that makes them feel good occasionally as opposed to advocating, or fighting for, a system that wouldn’t make them directly feel better but would be more just.
There is a real patriotism underneath the best of my music but it is a critical, questioning and often angry patriotism.
Fucking love Bruce.
Conversely, I would argue that the quality of governance in the U.S. tends to be low precisely because of a continuing tradition of Jacksonian populism. Americans with their democratic roots generally do not trust elite bureaucrats to the extent that the French, Germans, British, or Japanese have in years past. This distrust leads to micromanagement by Congress through proliferating rules and complex, self-contradictory legislative mandates which make poor quality governance a self-fulfilling prophecy. The U.S. is thus caught in a low-level equilibrium trap, in which a hobbled bureaucracy validates everyone’s view that the government can’t do anything competently. The origins of this, as Martin Shefter pointed out many years ago, is due to the fact that democracy preceded bureaucratic consolidation in contrast to European democracies that arose out of aristocratic regimes.
In South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies, there was Rick Perry (a neo-Secessionist that wants a Civil War 2.0 and a renewed fight for states’ rights); Ron Paul (a bigot whose newsletters continue to suggest that African Americans are ravenous, craven, criminal, stupid beasts); Rick Santorum (a man fascinated by bestiality and the idea that blacks are parasites who only want to live off of white people); and Newt Gingrich who sees all African-Americans and Latinos as being on welfare and the public dole until proven otherwise. In total, these candidates are a rogues gallery where white supremacist attitudes towards non-whites is a standing rule, one only to be disputed after the fact.
Life is unfair. Republican venality unintentionally reinforces the conservative argument that government is corrupt. Democratic venality undermines the Democratic argument that Washington can be trusted to do good. Liberalism has not expanded because it has not had a Martin Luther, a leader committed to stripping away the corruptions, complexities and indulgences that have grown up over the years.
On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men—-to lift artificial weights from all shoulders—-to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all—-to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.