Now, let’s get one thing straight: the rejection of establishment policies does not at all imply that every alternative to said policies is necessarily desirable. Not all change is good. It is possible to go from the kettle to the frying pan. The other side of this coin is that not all people voting for the rejection of establishment policies is necessarily reacting from fear. One can vote for Brexit because one is skeptical of what the European Union stands for, without being anti-immigrant. One can vote for Trump (and it pains me to say this) without being a racist or a misogynist. However, many people who did vote for Brexit did so out of fear (of the other, of losing a job, etc) and many people who voted for Trump did so for very wrong reasons (ie fear/hate). In other words, people can vote for the same thing for very different reasons, and while that has probably been true for a long time, it is now being thrown up onto the canvas stark and naked, for all to see. It is as if we have reached a tipping point in society, and nothing is black & white any longer, nothing is cut & dried. If you thought the 60’s were wild, wait until you see what’s coming.
DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD
I would bet my boots that most people, a very high majority of the world’s citizens, would opt for progressive populism if given the opportunity. (Disclosure: I own only one pair of boots, and they're pretty old; but they're also totally badass. Wagering them is a pretty big deal.) So, what is progressive populism? What does it look like and how would it function? For one, it is inclusive. Every individual has a say in policy and priority. Second, and following directly from the first, is that the policies and priorities that come forth from civic participation are intended to benefit all citizens. Progressive populism recognizes and respects the commons as belonging to all, not just to those who can afford to pay more. Progressive populism demands that everyone be treated the same, irrespective of the ability of some members of society to buy their way out of their responsibilities.
The point that we have reached is a sort of endgame. Over the coming years, we will be forced to choose who we are, what we represent, and what we want our world to look like. These next several years are crucial. And this is where the notion of populism comes back into the picture. Do we want a faux populism or a progressive populism? One that is foisted on us, or one that emanates from peoples’ natural needs and desires? Both are possible. Let’s briefly distinguish between the two:
Some of what we are witnessing at this moment on Spaceship Earth is deemed “populism”. And by the strict definition of the word, it is. Populism conveys the will and intent of the people, as opposed to party or partisan ideology. As with many broad social definitions, populism is multidimensional, and responds to and is shaped by many different factors. One nation’s populism is not another’s, just as one generation’s populism is not another’s. And then there is manufactured populism, which is what occurs in authoritarian regimes when those in power also control the levers of the press.
Anything less than this is anathema to cultural and social evolution. So what are we waiting for? Let us enunciate what we want our world to look like, and how we'd like it to function. Then we rise up and create it. The power is all ours.
The faux populism that we are currently witnessing in America and Europe is based upon fear. Don’t think so? Hatred, intolerance, bullying, scapegoating. Do you think these behaviors could come from love? Fear is the opposite of love, or some would say, the absence of love. The world is changing rapidly, and fear is how some people react to it. Some would call this ‘populism’. I call it what it is: manipulated consent, playing on peoples’ fears for the benefit of ulterior motives. It is one of the most cowardly acts any government or individual could perpetrate. And yet it is rampant, and the world’s peoples and the natural world are its victims.
8 January 2017
Let’s take stock of the current state of affairs as the dust begins to settle on the Year 2016:
Making the World ... Ideal
Progressive Populism: What Is It and Is It Possible?
- There is rising hate, intolerance and nationalism in America and Europe (rising…unleashed...or manufactured?)
- The level of government, corporate and banking corruption around the world is stunning in its depth and breadth
- Major media outlets are feckless, pursuing dollars over integrity, while embracing ludicrous fake stories that make a joke of the fourth estate and trample any chance of an informed populace. Oh wait, that’s the point of it…?
- Free & fair elections? Nah. Voter suppression and intimidation, electronic ballot flipping, gerrymandering of districts, legalized bribery aka ‘money in politics’
- The world is cracking, undergoing tectonic shifts, as people wake up from being trampled, lied to, divided & conquered; top-down policies favoring the few are being exposed
- Some of the people being woken run into the arms of tyrants, while others realize the power is theirs to remake the world (ie civilization) into anything they want it to be
- The latter group does not succumb to fear
- There is a breakdown in institutional systems that is being too easily dismissed as a rejection of progressive ideals: Brexit, “free trade agreements”, the election of ‘outsiders’…
- These may be rejections of the ‘establishment’, but they are not rejections of progressive governments, for the simple fact that there are no true progressive governments on this planet
- The composition of all governments globally is not indicative of the desire of their own citizens, who are far more progressive than is being reported; in other words, there is no ‘conservative mandate’ whatsoever; not in America, not anywhere
- Right-wing governments exist to keep people frightened, distracted, divided, confused, hating/blaming the ‘other’; thus never taking responsibility for their own malevolent/non-existent policies
- Left-wing governments have either not brought forward their vision sufficiently enough to captivate the world’s imagination, or have become co-opted
Progressive populism recognizes that clean water, healthy food, clear air, renewable energy, affordable education, good jobs, an equitable tax system, a political process free of money & religion, comprehensive healthcare, net neutrality, an honest media, a true commons and the freedom to reach our highest potential are our birthrights. Birthrights, people! No one is here to be chattel.
- Faux populism is exclusionary and is based on hate and fear. It scapegoats, blames and persecutes the ‘other’ without its adherents taking responsibility for their own actions.
- Progressive populism is inclusive and is based on love and acceptance. It includes all people and all lifestyles, so long as no harm is done and nobody is forced to do anything against their will.
Copyright © Steven Sugarman