[Marxism] Our time is not the 30s

Charles Brown charlesb at cncl.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Dec 30 08:44:52 MST 2008

Our time is not the 30s
By Grace Lee Boggs ( one third of Johnson-Forrest)
Special to The Michigan Citizen


Two weeks ago in my first post-election column, I wrote that I will not
be among those organizing or participating in protest demonstrations
against Obama’s actions or inactions, trying to hold his feet to the
fire. Neither will I wear a hair shirt, regretting that I voted for
Obama instead of Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney whose policies are more
in line with mine.

That is because my support for Obama was never based on his policies or
promises which, with few exceptions, are not that different from those
of other Democrats. From the outset my eyes were on the people at his
rallies, especially the youth who, inspired by his persona and his
eloquence, shed the fears instilled by the Nixons, Reagans and Bushes
since the 60s and, imbued with a new hope, began organizing on his

For me, not just Obama’s victory but that transformation of “we the
people” from Fear to Hope, from passivity to activity, from looking on
as spectators to participating as citizens was what was so historic
about this period.

As I wrote last week, “Every time Barack insisted that it was not
about him but about us, we were reminded of our potential for becoming a
better people and a better country. When he talked about change we can
believe in, and we shouted back ‘Yes we can!’ we were discovering
the room for growth in ourselves.”

Now that the campaign is over, let’s not turn all our attention to
the Oval Office, constantly comparing Obama and his actions or inactions
with FDR and the New Deal, refusing to face the reality that our time is
not the 30s and forgetting the millions who were transformed during the
campaign and who need to continue this process of transformation into
active citizens if we are to save our planet and ourselves, 

Tremendous changes have taken place in the world and in “we the
people” in the eight decades since the 1930s.

In the 30s our humanity had not been damaged by our dropping the bomb
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and by our jeopardizing not only ourselves but
the whole planet by using up 25 percent of the world’s resources even
though we are only 5 percent of the world’s population. 

In the 30s our manufacturing structure was still intact, the working
class was growing in numbers, and defying the economic royalists by
singing “Solidarity Forever.” Hi-Tech had not made the majority of
industrial workers obsolete. Transnational corporations, cheap oil and
globalization had not normalized the export of jobs. 

In the 30s we never dreamed of an interstate highway system, two car
garages, the military-industrial complex, the cold war which we thought
gave us the right to kill millions in southeast Asia,
de-industrialization, and today’s speculative casino economy.

As Abraham Lincoln said 140 years ago in December 1862: “The dogmas
of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is
piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our
case is new, so must we think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall
ourselves, and thus we will save our country.

To disenthrall ourselves:

- We need to look in the mirror and recognize how our racism,
materialism and militarism have brought our country and our planet to
our present condition where even the poorest Americans have more
“goods” than yesterday’s kings and queens. Yet, rich, middle
class or poor, “we the people” have not found happiness. 

- Instead of throwing billions at the economy in order to get our
financial system working again, we need to take steps, however small to
begin with, towards creating a local sustainable economy that enables us
to work, eat, and take care of our families, bring the neighbor back
into the ‘hood and slow down global warming. Together we can create a
local food system, local health clinics, local safety and security
committees - and happiness.

The winter 2009 issue of YES Magazine is about Sustainable Happiness”
and creating a new American dream. www.yesmagazine.org.

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