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Opinion

February 20, 2017

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An American awakening

An American awakening

Old wounds break open. Deep, encrusted wrongs are suddenly visible. The streets flow with anger and solidarity. The past and the future meet.

The news is All Trump, All the Time, but what’s really happening is only minimally about Donald Trump, even though his outrageous actions and bizarre alliances are the trigger.

The context in which most Trumpnews is delivered is miniscule: more or less beginning and ending with the man himself – his campaign, his businesses, his appointees, his ego, his endless scandals (“what did he know and when did he know it?”) – which maintains the news at the level of entertainment, and surrounds it with the fantasy context of a United States that used to be an open, fair and peace-loving democracy, respectful of all humanity. In other words, Trump is the problem, and if he goes away, we can get back to what we used to be.

In point of fact, however, the United States has always been an empire, a national entity certain of its enemies – both internal and external – and focused on conquest and exploitation. Yes, it’s been more than that as well. But the time has come to face the totality of who we are and reach for real change.

As Fitrakis and Wasserman point out, Trump is “actually (so far) a moderate compared to scores of murderous dictators the US has installed in other countries throughout the world. Especially since World War II, our imperial apparatus has constantly subverted legitimate attempts by good people to elect decent leaders.”

They present a partial list of “duly elected leaders the United States has had removed, disappeared and/or killed to make way for authoritarian pro-corporate regimes.” Their removals, and the installation of US-friendly dictators, were accompanied by social chaos and mass killings.

This is part of our history and it can’t be diminished and written off any more than slavery can be written off. In our failure to face such history honestly, we remain trapped in collective unawareness – and thus trapped, we repeat history again and again and again.

This, so it seems to me, is the psychological and spiritual foundation of militarism and the military-industrial complex, which, among much else, has bequeathed Planet Earth with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all existing life. Donald Trump, whose vision of American greatness is all about military triumph, commands some 4,000 of them. This is terrifying, but not simply because Trump is untrustworthy and impulsive. It’s terrifying that we’ve created a world in which anyone commands that kind of power and that alone is a reason why the time for profound, deeply structural social change, is now.

And I don’t believe change will come from elected or appointed leaders, who, as they settle into office, have to make their peace with the current situation, a.k.a., the deep state, with its unquestioned militarism. This is the status quo Trump both represents and lays grotesquely exposed for what it is, like no other president in memory.

Serious change will only emerge from an external force able to stand up to the existing momentum of government and the special interests attached to it. The multifaceted resistance we see on the streets – the great American awakening – may be that force.

 

This article has been excerpted from: ‘The Great American Awakening’.

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

 

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