There appears to be a genuine labor movement happening. It began in West Virginia. It has spread to Oklahoma and Arizona. I've had the sense that something was about to explode. Brexit and the election of Trump were early warning signs. Could we be seeing a radical reimaging of society starting to begin?
Thomas Piketty, the famed economist whose book "Capital," shot up the best sellers list in 2014, wrote a paper recently called Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right. (Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone wrote an excellent summary of the article in Rolling Stone). The basic assertation of the paper is that both left and right parties in American and in Europe have become parties of the elite and educated, and the concerns of the rest of the citizens are being largely ignored.
If anyone has been paying attention, this assertation rings true. It's the reason Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders caused such a hullabaloo in the 2016 election and why Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney were seen as so uninspiring and did not feel like they spoke for the voices of many. It's why Steve Bannon, despite his horrific racist, anti-immigrant sentiments, resonated with many with his nativism and globalist distinction. The old labels of left and right or democrat and republican increasingly mean less and less today.
All of this has been bubbling around in my thoughts and makes sense to me. It speaks to my increasing disillusionment with liberalism as a worthwhile political philosophy. Liberalism is bankrupt, maybe just a bankrupt as conservatism. You cannot reform a broken system whose ultimate goal is profit at the expense of anyone who isn't the cultural or economic elite.
What will emerge? I don't really know. But I can see (or maybe dream) about a near future with an actual labor party based on the authentic spiritual principles. Dr. King spoke about it long ago:
"America’s sickness was spiritual—and would be terminal, King insisted, unless we experienced a “radical revolution of values.” A shift to the left or the right could not save us; only a movement that changed the moral narrative could refocus our priorities on building a society that honored the dignity of every person. This country had to be born again—not only in budgets and policy decisions, but in spirit."
The Occupy Wall Street spoke to that. So does Black Lives Matter. People like Rev. William Barber are leading the movement as well with his Poor People's Campaign. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders seem to be allies too. It appears that Cynthia Nixon is saying the right things too. And the DSA has been growing and speaking to these ideas as well.
In some ways, all these movements are impossible. What chance do we have against "White Supremacist Patriarchy Capitalism?" Probably not a whole lot. But maybe a religious spirit demands in us the impossible. But as James Baldwin said in The Fire Next Time,
"I know that what I am asking is impossible. But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand—and one is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible."