Revisiting Revolution

I recently posted the ten items on a list of features Jerry Stark suggested best describe the ressentiment felt by a great many people in this country at the present time — as reflected in their continued support of an incompetent president. In doing so I may have suggested that this was the dominant thinking of a majority of people in this country. Jerry recently posted a comment in which he tells us such is almost certainly not the case. He guesses this is about one-third of the people: there are other forces at work in our troubled country at this time, some of which must give us hope.

Thus it behooves me to quote a portion of the comment Jerry himself made to that post, expanding on this theme. What he said in his comment is worth pondering, though he reminds us his ideas are still germinating. And you may notice that he has added to his comment if you check the above link. In any event,  he suggests that there is at least one other element in this country that is learning to find its voice and this voice may indeed have the last word. That voice exhibits:

(1) An appreciation, not merely a tolerance, of cultural diversity.

(2) A skepticism about how well traditional institutions and traditional institutional leaders serve the public– corporations, religions, governments, schools, etc.

(3) The traditional gender stereotypes of males and females are widely questioned, to the point where they are regarded as irrelevant or harmful.

(4) Acceptance of political and economic ideas once considered “communist / socialist” by large percentages of the American populace, especially the young, under the general terms of “progressivism”, “fairness”, and “public safety”. (Think health care, education funding, and gun control, for example.)

(5) A greater commitment to political engagement and increased support for candidates who challenge traditional party platforms and candidates.

(6) A high regard for science and technology, and a subsequent acceptance of the reality and critical importance of climate change.

This list is broadly stated. It leaves much room for specifics and nuances, to be sure.
The [previously posted] list of emergent moral standards [that appear to be dominant at the present time] is depressing. No question about that. Equally depressing is that it represents the thinking of almost a third of the adults in this country. That is also frightening, but bear in mind that this sector of the population tends to be older, Evangelical, Republican, disproportionately rural, male, and white.

This category of the public will not last long, as a simple matter of demographics; further, this sector is shrinking politically. One of the reasons the support for Trump appears to be rising among his base of Republicans [percentage-wise] is precisely because the number of people who call themselves such is steadily diminishing. This leaves the harder-core supporters representing a larger percentage of Republicans without an increase in their actual numbers. The same holds true for Evangelicals, whom I hesitate to refer to as Christians.

The sector of the population likely to express opposition to the emergent morality listed in [the earlier] post also appears at this point to be about a third of the populace. Crucially, however, it is younger and growing. It is increasingly non-white, it includes a wider variety of religious and non-religious views, it has little faith in the so-called “free market,” it is more urban and suburban, and it strongly values economic and social fairness.

Whatever the attitudes this sector of the population bring to the table, one important point is unavoidable: these people will be around for a long time. Republicans have known this for decades and have been working to take over state and local governments, to undermine labor, to defund the public sector, to rig elections, to pack the courts, and even to pursue amending the Constitution to maintain the power of wealth and whiteness in this country. To a remarkable degree, they have succeeded.

The ultimate measure of the success conservatives have enjoyed in the past forty years will depend largely upon whether this emerging third of the population does, indeed, develop and act upon a conscious ressentiment of its own. An inflection point where this country could go one way or the other appears close at hand.

I would only question the depth of the commitment of the young to the political process [#5 above], since that commitment seems a bit whimsical.  But when the voice of the young is heard it can be effective, to be sure. And I do wonder what will happen if and when the remaining third of the population of this country, if it is not thoroughly “pro-establishment,” wakes up and becomes politically active.

In any event, Jerry suggests that his ideas are still aborning.  So I urge those of you who are interested to revisit his latest comment to the post mentioned above. What he has provided us with is an insight into the darkness of our current cultural ethos, and I thank him for that. That’s what this blog is for: to stir up the mud a bit and get us to think.It is anything but simple, but it demands that we take notice since, however we slice it, we are in the midst of a cultural revolution — for better or worse.


7 thoughts on “Revisiting Revolution

  1. Hugh, we think of the horrible legacy Trump will leave the world when he has left office. It will be a hangover that will last much too long. Yet, as noted above, he has caused a growing engagement of younger folks who see that they better get involved in a world where politicians are looking to play on fear to stay in power and are less inclined to do constructive things. Keith

      • Personally, after what I have seen of Higher Education, and have studied of American Political Culture over the last several decades, if I didn’t throw my every weight, rational and irrational, into the mix with an aim to wholly undermine and overthrow American Civilization…I would have abandoned Heaven’s Calling.

  2. Jerry’s points and additional comments on the previous post do, indeed, give reason to hope that a change is in the wind. My concern is whether it can happen soon enough to stop the bleeding and reverse at least some of the damage that has been done … is being done every day. He is right when he notes that the portion of the population who are most supportive of Trump and more importantly, the wave of populism Trump rode in on, will not last forever. But, I wonder if they will last too long. And, I look at some of the similar movements happening in Europe and wonder if Trumpism might be around for longer than we think. Then again, a large portion of voters last November seemed to be saying they have had enough.

    Question, apart from the content of this post … does Jerry Stark have a blog on WordPress? I was trying to find him to follow him, but came up blank.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Hugh, and I’m so sorry I was late to the party!

    • Jerry does not have a blog, sad to say. But he did say this about the cultural revolution we are immersed in, and it speaks to your point a bit:

      “Though the social bases upon which a new positively transformative ethos might be built are broadly identifiable, they are far from unity. Beyond a general disgust with Trumpistan and its occupants. Ideological unity is not characteristic of this sector of the populace. There are many agendas at work here and there appears no real likelihood of a level of solidarity thus far exhibited by those whom Secretary Clinton very accurately called “a bag of deplorables”.
      Indeed, the prospects for true consensus on political issues among the more progressive elements of the population seem remote.”

      In a word, it will take a charismatic personality (Like Elizabeth Warren, perhaps?) to bring this heterogeneous group together and get them to pull together. But it can happen. There are good people out there and political players who know how to play and win! We can only hope.

      • I think you should talk him into starting a blog, for he has much to share!

        Y’know … I agree with his take on Elizabeth Warren, and also feel that Kamala Harris has much to offer, but … and as a liberal-borderline-socialist and as a woman, it pains me to say this … I don’t think a woman stand a chance against the GOP if Trump is still eligible to run in 2020. My reasoning goes beyond the scope of a comment, and I may be writing a post about this soon, but I strongly suspect that neither a woman nor an African-American can win in a general election at this time. Why? Because Trump has, in ways both blatant and subtle, denigrated both women and minorities, and though you and I may not like it, a good portion of the nation has fallen for his b.s. We are in an era of white supremacy, an era where some believe that they are losing their majority (why does it matter???) and that they must fight for those “white, Christian values” … think WASP. Add to all of that the fact that we had 8 years of an African-American president and we are still seeing the ‘push-back’ by the masses. I just have a bad feeling that the democratic party can put forth no candidate who can counter those forces.

      • I also wish Jerry would write a blog. But he says “no.” I do believe there is a sleeping giant out there in the form of the 33 % of this population that is capable of being mobalized if the right person fires them up — as Sanders did in the last go-round. I do not have the same fears about women being disenfranchised as you suggest because Trump’s followers are shrinking and he has lost all credibility with many of those who supported him the last tine around. I think Warren could muster the troops.

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