If you don’t believe in good government and the critical importance of the common good, you will not govern well.
Nor will you promote efforts focused on widespread well-being.
Hardened neoliberal capitalism has been the dominant cultural narrative of power for the last 40 years and the ascendant reactionary force for at least the last 75 years. (note: rooted in LONG-standing cultural and economic forces that trace back much, much further – but I can only do so much here in this post)
At best hardened neoliberal capitalism will not support – and at worst it will crush, co-opt, or privatize for the economic benefit of the (very) few:
– independent, deep-thinking, careful researching, publicly accountable forms of media
– genuinely public services for the greater good, including transit, healthcare, education, housing, food access, and educational institutions like museums and libraries
– public regulation designed to ensure that people with great power do not exploit the rest of us for profit, including regulation of healthcare, airlines, pollution of air, soil, ground- and surface water, finance sectors, ecosystem conservation and destruction, workplace safety, and access to and safety of basic utilities.
– independent institutions that build non-transactional relationships, such as (some) religious communities (*and if you ever want to understand why I lean so heavily into the importance of churches, we can have lovely conversation about this particular point over coffee one day), community organizing, non-exclusive connection based on proximity (such as the best examples of friendship and neighborliness), revolutionary social movements of any form, and a broader cultural understanding of the manifest reality of our interdependence.
– creative expression, psychological insight, and human engagement that cannot be monetized – or that at least deconstructs and resists that form of reductionism.
– ideological or material care for diverse, vulnerable human lives that do not embody the potential for profit.
I’m certain I’ve missed something – and you can let me know if you think of it.
This is not a blanket endorsement of a non-accountable public sector. History is rife with examples of public sector power that has been abused and public sector money that has been exploited for personal enrichment.
Power is a dangerous drug.
Higher education using public funding of student loans to erect fancy bureaucratic castles of prestige and consumer appeal on the backs of debt-burdened students is one good example.
The creation of a financial-bottom-line driven healthcare system, bloated by the manipulation of public sector payments to drive profits, is another.
Collusion with the profit-driven mechanisms of perpetual war is another example still.
YET all that takes place within a deterministic (NOT free) neoliberal capitalism framework of culture and economics.
If we want to come out of this difficult time having made real progress, then we must reject the idolatry of this very particular, contextually-driven cultural-economic system.
It convincingly presents itself as the natural order of things.
It is not.
It is a poisonous human construction sold to us as freedom.
The toxic forces that perpetuate this system are already visibly hard at work.
If we don’t want more of the same, – only worse – we TOGETHER have to demand fundamental challenges and changes to the system.
That STARTS with understanding the nature of that system.
That’s my point here.
Then there is more work to be done.
I do not know exactly what the alternative looks like but I am certain that we can collectively figure it out – if we choose to.
I think we can be sure of some its necessary components, but this post is long enough that I’ll save that for another one.
So for now I’ll stop with the critical analysis of the moment and say