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Our Moment of Political Upheaval


Our Moment of Political Upheaval

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Vertigo: a condition in which one has the feeling of whirling or of having the surroundings whirling about one, so that one tends to lose one’s balance; dizziness” — Webster’s New World College Dictionary


I was feeling the same thing, Ms. Vanden Heuvel. That the confluence (on the part of such diverse sources) of so much articulated honesty about the ills of our times, and rising opposition to corporate rule are very auspicious trends. Yet it is the eleventh hour--with the threats of climate chaos, global financial instability, and the spread of war and weaponry all bearing down; and inasmuch as Necessity works as the Mother of Invention, all of these necessities are catalyzing a new wave of novelty, rebellion to the status quo, and innovation in lots of unexpected places. This Pope has a far higher consciousness than that of any who've lived during my lifetime. It surprises me that the Vatican allowed this maverick such a high station. The times call for Truth--as medicine--and it's coming from more and more places. A revolution in consciousness that's worldwide IS underway.


LIke maybe 1848 again, only bigger.


Ms. vanden Heuvel speaks about what many of us are also experiencing... a sense of 'can this really be true? We aren't used to having a couple of heavy hitters on our side - the progressive side - on humanity's side... in the struggle against corporate rule, oligarchy and the powers that be. We aren't used to a Babe Ruth hitting homers about climate change. We aren't used to having a FDR taking the side of the poor, the working man and the middle class and reigning in the power of big money in hard times.

We apparently do not know how to adjust to a changed reality. We see anti-austerity movements in Europe, their citizenry coming out in support of refugees turned away by their governments and even see progressive election wins and yet we don't know how to acknowledge that real change can happen back home. We have grown so used to wanting change but never getting it that we don't even remember what it is like to think that we can actually win.

We can see progressive leaning candidates be elected elsewhere and accept that it represents a positive change for the better even if those candidates aren't 100% perfect but only over there not here at home. We don't support our own progressive's candidacy because he isn't absolutely 100% perfectly perfect in all things it seems, as if the critics are themselves. They forget that they are only pundits and being an activist is something else again. They have assumed the mantle of arbiters of progressive politics and feel justified tearing down anyone who claims to be progressive because these self appointed arbiters demand perfection. Meanwhile Americans end up with oligarchy and corporate rule.

Ms. vanden Heuvel rightly observes that American progressives are experiencing vertigo and only Ms. vanden Heuvel seems to have noticed but then she is often very observant.

American progressives will carp and criticize and never once believe that anything could change. Single payer, free education, jobs repairing our infrastructure and installing solar and wind, anti-poverty programs and on and on... a 100 things that we have been asking for and yet... professional progressives (critics) can't support a candidate that many have written about in glowing terms over the years. Odd that.

Even when a reformer Pope appears and makes astounding waves with an anti-capitalism and anti-global warming message and a call to help the poor and more... American progressives can only criticize as always. Time to talk about the Inquisition and the Crusades isn't it?

We need a shake up in the ranks of the professional left. Too many of the old guard professional progressives know only how to criticize from a losing perspective. They don't know how to win nor even how to support their own so as to help them win against oligarchy $$$ billions!

Ms. vanden Heuvel noticed. Maybe others might begin to as well.

Can the American left ... allow itself to win once in a while? Can the progressive pundits support someone progressive ...not perfect just progressive to win just once?


In a time of transition one would expect things to be confused and 'all over the place': some hanging on the to the old, some reaching for the stars, and the levels of concern rising. Instability is preceding change...change that we all voted for 8 years ago.


The late Peter McWilliams, in his book "Ain't nobody's business...the absurdity of consensual crime in a free society," points out many times throughout his work that, "...utopia is not an option."

For the many who find that negative criticism is necessary before a well rounded and reasoned argument can be made, have missed the point. If one was to wait for the perfect or utopian system before committing to an idea, one would just simply starve to death.

Nothing is perfect in this world. All things come mixed. Humans can't live in perfection. Pure oxygen kills. Distilled water kills. Pure thought kills. We are a mixture of the physical and immaterial. Separate them and we die.

The current advance of the progressive agenda, even if it's just in the sphere of ideas, is remarkable. Not since the 60s have the Socialists moved as I am currently witnessing. Are we perfect?...No. Will we get everything we want?..No. But that is the beauty of this world. The work is never finished. It goes on indefinitely and we workers and laborers will always be occupied with tilling the field.


My concern is that we are repeating 1895 and 1935 simultaneously. Money and propaganda overwhelming reason and sanity. Both times horrific war followed. We are on the brink again. Neolib and neocon are both putrid sides of the same counterfeit coin of failed austerity, and fear us governance.


Its not surprising when one considers that the conservative, child abusing Catholic Church was losing its younger followers fast and needed a progressive Pope there to bring them back to the fold.


I concur. No one person (candidate or Pope) can be all things to all people. As my grandmother used to say, "If you are looking for something wrong, you deserve to find it."

I think this is true of most Americans, not just progressives. So many Americans have either lost that can-do spirit or it's never been instilled in the first place. Unlike our Revolutionary forebears, many of us have lost any feeling of personal power--never mind the collective power of a people determined to be free beings--under the humanity crushing weight of corporate rule and unfettered capitalism.

Self determination is not just a characteristic of this nation, it once described the people.


I swear that is a great line from your grandmother that I had never heard before. It is very profound actually and a psychological truth about human beings... and maybe about life in general.

Unfortunately republicans and climate change deniers feel the same way...lol. They don't want to know the reality and avoid looking at the evidence that might change their minds. I suppose that isn't exactly what your grandma meant though. Lol.

I think you are right in part but I think our culture as capitalism has overwhelmed us more than we realize. I am hoping that my progeny and theirs et al will evolve a way to embrace an electronic community life where the only thing different will be physicality. In other words where we can be people in a community or a group but not together physically. Right now our nascent technocommunity separates as much as it unites. Facebook for example. You and your friends and family unite but by being isolated from everyone else and their group etc - no collective sharing like a bunch of people mingling at a party. Maybe someday our tech will give us that?

I was mainly speaking about how people's cynicism makes them give up. I and everyone else know the feeling but then much to my amazement Bernie the Progressive (he has earned that title in American politics) comes along and has a real world chance of winning. It is actually quite exciting to see a candidate who has progressive views have a chance of winning that I am truly stunned.

Then the defeated and the despairing, the dullards and the dopes, the damn fools and the foolish dems keep trying to convince everyone that change isn't really possible. Sigh! Too many people expect that we will have no choice but to stay with the old guard.

I just think that people have forgotten how to believe that people matter. That is why Bernie inspires me honestly. He is just a person of course. Not a savior nor some superhero type. Just a decent person who is one of us. People haven't seen a politician remain one of us I guess but Bernie has managed it. They just can't believe it.

It is surprising to see just how many supposed rebels, revos, rads and rascals are damn old fashioned about change. Obama may have soured people on using the word change but they should shake the cobwebs out of their empty heads and wake up. Grow up maybe? Suck it up? We got beat by Obama so deal with it and do better next time. Life does that. Sometimes you win and sometimes you win... too many simply don't expect to EVER win at least when it comes to politics.

Bernie is the outsider - the independent - the progressive... he has a record to prove it. Don't vote for promises like people did with Obama but vote for Bernie's record instead. We need that integrity because things are looking ominous indeed and we'd best take advantage of the swiftly closing window of opportunity to make them get better before it is too late.

If we miss this chance with Bernie... exactly what will we have then? It is discouraging to think about it.


Know what's funny?

The Nation has cut off all ability to comment on the articles posted on its website, except by subscribers of the magazine. And those are heavily moderated, with the result being that a typical article now may have two or three comments, or much more likely, none at all.

Such refusal to connect with the great unwashed readership is their right of course, but what an interestingly authoritarian decision, right before a Presidential election... and in this moment of "political upheaval".


SR, we are not likely to be served the truth by the media which has promoted the zionist line since 1948. War is all Israel knows and that virus has infected all U.S. foreign policy since the zionist neocons moved into the republican party. The chaos in the Middle East and beyond results from land and resource stealing. The exceptional hegemon who applauds the butchery of Bibi and supplies him with the armaments also propagandizes the masses. Chris Hedges will never receive the press that even a loon like Lindsey Graham gets. Dr Jill Stein will never be in a national debate. The voices of reason are silenced by the zionist media. Prof Norman Finkelstein is ostracized by universities. Can one man , this Pope, overcome the lies of our very own Tass.