Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tick Tock, People!

Upgraded and adapted from an Exchange in the Moot, regular reader "Myst101" writes:
Most older folks in this country--whether democrat or repug--have this visceral aversion to anything that smacks of socialism or "communism." It's because the older generations have been brainwashed by anti-communist propaganda of past decades. It's deeply ingrained in their psyche & always will be. Once these older generations die off, I think we'll begin to get somewhere with such things as health care reform, ending regressive taxation, etc.
I largely agree with you, especially once we add the proviso that plenty of older folks are among the ones defending the best legacies of the New Deal and Great Society we would build on. Not to mention, if Democrats actually start consistently and proudly defending again the politics of people who work for a living we might discover we can convince enough sensible people and marginalize enough dangerous fools to accomplish sustainable consensual multicultural social democracy even before the Cold War generation dies off! (Speaking as somebody looking his 46th birthday in the face, I certainly hope that is the case.)

But, of course, the real worry is that climate change disruption and the global immiseration in the aftermath of postwar neoliberalism make it profoundly questionable if the world can wait long enough for the change you are talking about here to do its work. Radicals are always wholesomely impatient in the face of injustice and irrationality, of course, but the specter of climate change refugees and overurbanized pandemic vectors is another thing altogether. Tick tock, people!

You know, I think many readers who get annoyed with my focus on the imperfect partisan and organizational tools actually at our disposal for progressive political struggle sometimes mistakenly imagine that I am less aware than they are or even unaware altogether of such looming large-scale environmental and developmental nightmares. I'm not, of course, it's just that I know the tools we have are the tools we have even if they are palpably inadequate to the problems we have.

I've already quoted Michael Harrington -- so here's another one from my archive of inspirational and heartening quotes. Donna Haraway points out that "there is always more going on than we know about." This reminds me -- and, believe me, I need regular reminding -- that we never know enough to be fully justified in feeling despair.


myst101 said...

"Speaking as somebody looking his 46th birthday in the face, I certainly hope that is the case."

By older generations, I meant those who grew up in the 50's/60's--when anti-communist propaganda was especially strong.

Dale Carrico said...

I fear the generation that soaked up its politics from Reagan-era market pieties will be giving us trouble long after the Cold Warriors are all in the grave... They (we, ugh!) grew up in the 80s.

myst101 said...

But at least in the 80's there was a significant backlash against anti-communism propaganda, which was on its way out anyway in the 70's & 80's.

Reagan-era market pieties have been more successful in inspiring the "fiscally conservative" or libertarian "greed is good" mentality in younger generations. Not so much with the same type of anti-communist/anti-socialist attitudes as older generations.

Dale Carrico said...

I hope you're right, but I wonder if you're right. I've been stewing in the toxic soup of neoliberal/ neoconservative rhetoric and policy disaster my whole voting life.

myst101 said...

The bottom line is that terms like "socialized medicine" and other anti-communist/anti-socialist code words won't continue to inspire the same visceral fear & opposition.

Dale Carrico said...

We should just point to actual common and public goods problems and explain their solutions in actually accessible ways and worry less about how right-wing ideologues neo-feudalist greedheads and macroeconomic illiterates are sure to call these solutions "socialism" -- and we should point out instead that they are being stupid assholes making problems worse and thus fucking over people who work for a living.

We need to make the case for actual solutions, using whatever words work to do that. I'm a democratic socialist, on some construals of that label at least, but I don't fetishize the use of the S-word word any more than I'm scared of it to make the case for public investments in the stewardship of common goods or the maintenance of public goods or the provision of general welfare to make the scene of consent legitimate.

I also think it is key to grasp the role of Big Business and market ideologues in the organization of the think-tank archipelago alternative to the Academy and infiltration of corporate media and whomping up of market libertarian and Movement Republican "ideas" and fears and so on.

This is important because much of the pernicious discourse of that neoliberal/ neoconservative intellectual formation is not confined to Cold War rhetoric -- part of my own concern with futurological discourse is the way it re-activates with different objects and jargon many of the same anti-democratizing forms we've been dealing with from Nixon- Reagan- Gingrich- (a transition figure in the phenomenon I'm talking about) through to Bush- and Ryan.

jollyspaniard said...

A lot of these older folks won't be kicking the bucket for a decade or two. Waiting for them to do of old age hoping that things might get better when they do isn't a very effective strategy. In any case things are going to come to a head long before then in the United States and in many "western" nations.

I think the bluehairs can be a big boon to progressives. Faced with the choice to slashing their retirement benefits or cuts in military spending I suspect they'll favour the later eventually (even if they don't realize it yet).

Some of them may even dust off the make love not war meme of their youth.

Dale Carrico said...

hear hear