What winning causes can you point to? There are a lot of social media activists (ie. “click this if you support our troops”) and hollow demonstrations of patriotism out there. As far as substantial protests by which incremental change in policy and culture are made, there are few to none. The greatest intellectual and academic minds seem to be doom and gloom-ers. Those who view the world through a simpler perspective point to things like sunsets, the beauty of a newborn baby, the ocean’s tides as signs of the goodness in the world. Whatever your perspective may be, I hope you’ll agree that there is both good and bad in the world. I would argue, too, that there is a battle between the two. We can battle through protest, boycotts, organizing and unionizing, or we can do nothing. We can give in. Some people can’t be bothered to vote, let alone get out and picket – many will lament, “what’s the point?”
There are many examples of hopelessness. For instance, it seems that in every generation there is a renewed fight against the rich and powerful to maintain what little ground previous generations have taken in that fight. In that fight now, there’s an absurd construct that the rich are oppressed by the poor. It is the rich that are the victims of our economic system. It is hard to be rich. On and on. This idea, and the oppression that follows, must be defeated again and again.
The TTIP has been put on hold – not defeated as some have reported. The TPP is a similar mess. These kinds of back-room deals are oppressive for more reasons than I care to name here. If and when this one may be fully defeated, another will follow. The rich and powerful will try to create another back-room deal, probably worse than the one before. The TTIP is worse than what we’ve seen, and what follows will be even more exploitative. This must be defeated as well.
Politically, we are seeing the rise of fascism in America. The merging of the corporate and public sector to serve the rich and powerful is obvious to anyone with eyes to see what is happening. We are forced to choose between candidates that represent a tiny portion of our population – the rich and powerful. How the rich and powerful will be served by our political leaders is effectively the choice we get to make. What plays out in culture and society as our political system dies is the same – we are a dead as a culture. Nothing is sacred, nothing is considered “off limits” or too valuable. Our political and social reality is so absurd that it defies art and satire. There’s nothing for our teenagers to rebel against, there’s no lower moral limit. There’s no pretense of good ethics by which we can criticize or correct our community, our leaders in politics and culture, and in our religious gatherings.
Why, then, do we fight back? We are the Titanic sinking, doomed to fall very soon. Fascism has won. Trump won’t be the last strongman to take up the mantle of fascism in our country, he is the first of many to come. The corporate state has won, as the Citizen’s United ruling proves. Why keep fighting? I believe that Chris Hedges said it best. Loosely paraphrased. The reason we fight against fascism isn’t because we may win, it isn’t the outcome, it isn’t because victory is assured, it is because it is the right thing to do.
We fight against oppression because it’s the right thing to do. We want to win, yes, and we hope we do. But even when it’s hopeless, we have to fight. This is what we will tell our children, and their children when they ask, what did you do when you saw things getting worse? Will I look back and say, I did nothing? Or will I look back and say, I tried. I gave it my best. I got arrested at a protest. I stopped shopping for brands that employ prison labor, and child labor, and which destroy the environment. I got fired from my job for trying to unionize. I got blacklisted like so many community organizers. I stood in the rain and picketed the latest pipeline, oil field, or destruction of community property. I voted, and then some. Maybe I will fail, but I fought, I will fight, because it’s the right thing to do.