Where You Will Find the Democratic Spirit This Fall

occupy schoolsThis fall, you won’t find the Democratic spirit in the activities of either major political party, each, in its own way in the thrall of Big Corporations and Big Money. But that spirit is alive throughout the country, on the ground, among people possessing a wide variety of experiences and political views.

You can find it among housing activists and occupiers around the nation who are fighting evictions and foreclosures, organizing rent strikes, putting homeless families in some of the huge number of abandoned commercial and residential buildings that can be found all over the country, and forming residential communes and cooperatives among the growing number of Americans who can’t find decent paying work.

You can find it among the young Ron Paul supporters who are continuing their fight to reform draconian drug laws, shrink the prison industrial complex, defend civil liberties, reduce the US military presence abroad and expose the sweetheart relationship between government regulators and financial industries.

You can find it among teacher activists around the nation, and their parent allies, who are fighting the takeover of the nation’s public schools by profit making entities and the imposition of a test- obsessed approach to learning that stifles student creativity and threatens the health and well being by the nation’s public school students by crowding out recess, play, regular exercise, sports and the arts.

You can find it in the food activists around the nation who are fighting the proliferation of genetically engineered crops, and creating their own grass roots experiments in productionof healthy food, not only in the nation’s rural areas, but in cities where disinvestment and the current economic crisis have left us with large stretches of abandoned land which can easily be transformed into gardens and farms.

You can find it in community groups and civil rights organizations around the nation which are challenging racial profiling, stop and frisk, and at times, the use of deadly force by law enforcement to keep young people of color intimidated and unable to move freely throughout the towns and cities where they live.

You can find it people of every ethnic group and political persuasion who are doubling and tripling up in houses and apartments none of them can afford individually, who take in relatives and friends who have become homeless and/or unemployed, and whose generosity eases the effect of an economic crisis that has been far more devastating in its impact on many Americans that our political leaders and commercial media have been willing to say.

You can find it among women fighting attacks on reproductive rights, defending organization’s promoting women’s sexual health, challenging violence against women in the media and real life, and creating new forms of women’s media and cultural expression that assure that women’s voices will not be marginalized.

You can find it in young people who are developing innovative barter systems for everything ranging from housing to food to child care to transportation to information technology and home repair services, circumventing a cash economy in a society where more and more people have found themselves cash poor.

mark naison

These signs of popular initiative are all around us, if we care to look. They are the real hope of the future in a country where the mainstream economic and political systems have been rendered stagnant by a concentration of wealth at the top that exceeds anything we have seen in this country for more than 80 years.

Mark Naison
With a Brooklyn Accent

Posted: Sunday, 26 August 2012


  1. JoeWeinstein says

    Hamilton’s comment is very apropos (in one form or another) everywhere, not just in GOP-leaning places like SC. As in his examples, there are several different kinds of necessary ‘issue’ activism to wear us all down.

    One of these issues that still needs far more activism is achievement of actual democracy. Near the end of his article Naison notes that ‘the mainstream economic and political systems have been rendered stagnant by a concentration of wealth at the top…’ . In fact, even apart from effects of concentration of wealth, the political systems are rendered near-stagnant even in the best of times thanks to the US federal and copycat state constitutions. These constitutions – and the underlying attitudes which support and even venerate them – pretend to democracy but actually provide for oligarchy. They vest all real public decision power not in ordinary citizens doing manageable public service stints but in small coteries of long-term officers and legislators. The resulting political oligarchy is free to be a corrupted tool and promoter of economic inequality and oligarchy.

  2. says

    The problem here is that you end up having to do both. The issue activism and the party stuff. It takes a lot of time. You don’t dare abandon the party stuff for fear of a generalized Republican takeover. In SC that means maintianing some resistance and taking one for the team, year after year. You also have to do the issue stuff since you can’t wait for the Democrats to win an election and make a difference. In the South on top of both of those things, most activists support a church and often a charity. Our people are completely exhausted.

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