We have now committed to fighting the most consequential fight of our generation, under the most disadvantageous conditions, at the most inopportune (and some might say idiotic) time. Perhaps there was no other option, as clearly no real “choice” was made about this, except the choice those four officers made to kill George Floyd on the side of a road in Minneapolis. The rest has proceeded like an unstoppable chain reaction – the mechanisms and institutions of our society of spectacle catalyzing the combination of long-building popular anger and resentments with the volcanic rage building as a byproduct of the catastrophic mis/handling, in this country, of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps it was inevitable, but a reaction it was, and that’s what worries me. For 50 years, the US Left has been back-footed, and has always found itself fighting losing battles, on its enemies’ terms, at the times of its enemies’ choosing, and this time feels little different. For the future, we can’t lose, and yet, we very well might, so dismal are the conditions under which we now struggle.
Lest my work inadvertently serve to demoralize though, I’ll be proactively shifting from my position of the past two days. I believe there’s no turning back from this now, so I’ll only briefly elaborate what I fear, beyond that which I’ve already elaborated upon enough.
Perhaps there was no alternative but to fight this fight now as phenomena converge that, outside film, history, and fiction would seem almost unimaginable. Perhaps this is actually our last chance to stop the fascists – or our best chance – before they rig and steal the November election and follow in the footsteps of the governments of Putin, Modi, Orban, Duterte, and so many other Right-wing, strongman-ocracies that have worked assiduously in recent years to undermine democracy. I’ve written elsewhere that we are in a now-or-never moment, more or less for the future of “organized human life on Earth,” as Noam Chomsky often puts it, and I continue to feel that way, but I couldn’t have foreseen that we’d have to fight on quite these terms. Democratic and Republican politicians alike seem largely united in using the power and force of the state to suppress the uprisings, and it seems more than plausible to me that, if the confrontations persist and escalate, we will see deadly explosions of violence not only from the police, but from their armed ideological allies in other quarters (I’m talking, of course, about the white supremacist militias and neo-Nazis). Additionally, given the high likelihood that the pandemic will soon be spiraling once again out of control across much of the United States, we’re likely to see tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of additional deaths in the coming months, but also the use – both rightly and wrongly, at once – of COVID-19 as a pretext for quelling the insurrection. We should remember that Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and Chile’s militant anti-austerity street protests were both quieted, of necessity, by the coming of this plague.
At every level, the scales are tilted against us, and yet, it’s beyond inspiring to see tens of millions of us rising. The hour is very late to be recognizing just how far along the road to police state and fascism we’ve come since 9/11 (though the groundwork had been laid long before), and, of course, many individuals and many communities have understood these truths in heart, head, and gut for a long time, but never in my lifetime have I witnessed such a cross-sectional political mobilization for justice in this country.
It’s now my conviction that we have no alternative but to attempt to see this through, and so going forward, I’ll continue to be focused on not losing what we can’t afford to lose, but without any question that this struggle will go forward as it has.
So fuck these assholes who think – after everything they’ve done (see all of my writing for the past five years) – they can curfew New York City. Fuck these assholes who think they can unleash the police to brutalize and murder people on the daily. Fuck these assholes who think they can call out the US military to suppress protests calling for justice. Fuck these assholes who think they can turn turn to the Pentagon to provide signals intelligence on people fighting for justice. And fuck these assholes who think they can deploy drones to surveil us in the streets, who thought it was right to have not one, but three helicopters hovering above a peaceful demonstration outside Stonewall this evening. No one in the world ever should’ve been subjected to such treatment in our names, and we’re at a now-or-never moment as a country, a once-in-a-civilization juncture on the planet, to steer the future away from the planned (by the powerful) and promised (by Hollywood, et alia) apocalypse and dystopia.
Death to fascism. Black Lives Matter. Here’s to a sane, just, livable future on Earth.
Postscript: Thank you to Nick Estes. When he speaks, I listen, and when he Tweets, I heed his words.