As I write here by the window of an office near Union Square in NYC, New Year’s Eve approaches, my 66th year looms. Do I go gentle into the unquiet night? Or take my cue from the Master?
Nicolas Walter, in his pamphlet About Anarchism, lays bare the eternal situation:
Anarchists see progress quite differently, in fact they often do not see progress at all. We see history not as a linear or a dialectical development in one direction but as a dualistic process. The history of all human society is the story of a struggle between the rulers and the ruled, between the haves and the have-nots, between the people who want to govern and be governed and the people who want to free themselves and their fellows; the principle of authority and liberty, of government and rebellion, of state and society, are in perpetual opposition. This tension is never resolved.Nicolas Walter, About Anarchy, pgs 5-6.
The US Census tells us that poverty is about half of what it was in 1975. The system is working, right? Can we go back to sleep now? Hold on a second. Andrew Yang reports that mortality rates have skyrocketed since 2015. Unheard of in a developed country. Deaths of despair (suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol) have overtaken car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death.
No, the tug of war described by Nicolas Walter is not over, but the danger has become more subtle. The anesthesia produced by mass entertainment and corporate-controlled media has lulled us into thinking that 800 US military bases in 70 countries; 7 wars; intelligence agencies contracting with Big Tech to monitor and record our every keystroke and every movement are all off-limits in our “democracy.” It is creeping fascism with a friendly face, a militarized state. We have slowly abdicated control, and therefore we are relinquishing freedom.
The Prince of Peace showed us a way out. It may take centuries. Peter Wehner described it in his recent column in the New York Times:
Jesus’ energies and affections were primarily aimed toward social outcasts, the downtrodden and “unclean,” strangers and aliens, prostitutes and the powerless. The people Jesus clashed with and who eventually crucified him were religious authorities and those who wielded political power. The humble will be exalted, Jesus said, and the last shall be first. True greatness is shown through serving others and sacrifice.Peter Wehner, “Christmas Turns the World Upside Down”, New York Times, December 24, 2019