what do we do now?

Lots of good comments here. Frankly, I don’t have an articulate response right now. In part because I’m still angry, and in part because I’m currently sleep deprived. But I do know one thing: I find myself torn between the impulse to avoid escalating division and the impulve to engage in scorched-earth rhetoric. It’s difficult at the moment to imagine myself reaching out to those who chose to put this administration back in office for four more years. It’s difficult for me to imagine those voters as thinking people who will respond to efforts at thoughtful communication. Jim captures my feelings when he writes that teaching critical thinking seems to have resulted in millions of people mobilized against critical thinking.

As for the “moral values” meme, we need to stop wringing our hands about how these voters are concerned about morals. What they’re really concerned about are fags, but they’re smart enough to know that you don’t say that to pollsters. Those of us who did not vote for Bush are also concerned about moral values, but we are concerned about a different (and I would argue larger) set of moral values.

Finally, as L point out, the history of slavery in America reminds us that what is right and what is moral are not things you determine by popular vote, and the majority of people in this country have been wrong about very important issues before.

What do we do now? I’m still not sure.

Mayble politically minded pop music will help:

Billy Bragg, “Great Leap Forward”

One leap forward, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?

(Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards)

Here comes the future and you can’t run from it
If you’ve got a blacklist I want to be on it

(Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards)

It’s a mighty long way down rock ‘n roll
From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole

(Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards)

If no one seems to understand
Start your own revolution and cut out the middleman

(Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards)

In a perfect world we’d all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room

(Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards)

So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a T-shirt away

(Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards)

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6 thoughts on “what do we do now?

  1. Thinking a lot about this, George. Perhaps couching this in terms of morality is the wrong tack. It is actually about hatred, as you very succinctly explain–Hatred of gays, feminists, welfare mothers, and all those other threateningly vampiric disempowered groups that Marx simply called the “have-nots.” But hasn’t hatred ‘always’ been couched as a morally appropriate action in light of certain problems, identities, or actions. Hate appears to me to be part of the language of political legitimation. I hate, therefore Iam (political). But Let me re-state the problem as I see it. The people in this country vote according to what one of my colleague’s calls Theo-affective (as opposed to theological–because that would imply an actual logic)response. They vote based on what they think will bring them closer to a personal God. They vote–that is–to get more personal with God. The question is, then, are we willing to re-deploy, co-opt, or appropriate the language of theo-affective consciousness in order to get someone elected? Someone like Barak Obama, who draws on the African-American religious tradition, uses this language very effectively.

  2. In no other circumstance would you (I hope, I think, I trust) reduce cultural and social formations to something as simple as “hatred” and in such reduction, essentially say, “It’s not interesting, not worth understanding, it’s just what it is.” When people do that to “terrorism”, most of us rush to the barricades and say, “No! No! That is too simple, it requires a much more nuanced and historically aware analysis.”
    There is an asymmetry here that has been and promises to continue to be an enormous problem both in purely intellectual terms and in practical political ones.

  3. Ok. I quite agree, but, as I said Thursday, people haven’t been listening to the “it’s a little more complicated” speeches we’ve been giving for the last two decades.I do think we should study it. I’m quite simply suggesting that we ask ourselves some hard questions–starting with: if people think this way, then how are we to deploy that thinking–or direct it–towards good, towards social justice? Yesterday’s language is for yesterday. If people think in the negative, define themselves in the negative, then what are we going to do about it? I don’t believe that we can just go back to the same approach we’ve been taking. But, like you, I certainly think that it will take actual historical analysis and theoretical nuance to figure out how to change the language of politics in this nation.

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