Monday, March 10, 2008

Reconstruction in American society post 9/11

American society is currently dominated by two competing world views. First is a sort of negative nihilism, as opposed the positive nihilism of just doing what you want and not believing in much. This negative nihilism discards any sort of belief and value that would challenge the pro-capitalist and corporate system as being either irrelevant or naive. This includes things like the liberal arts and ethical philosophy as well as more radical challenges. The idea that there are things valuable about society that capitalism should not be allowed to dominate over is laughed at. In this worldview it's better to just give up or join the system than to be a person belittled as concerning them selves with values labeled either as pretentious or deluded, like that advertising shouldn't be allowed to be absolutely everywhere and in any form whatsoever. Negative nihilism.

The other competing worldview started after 9/11 and consists of a vague and vulgar sort of nationalism combined with a commitment to extreme Christianity added to a pro-war philosophy expounded most loudly by people who have never experienced war themselves. Ironically, this worldview markets itself as being against the previous one on the cultural level, declaring that the lack of values are the work of mean liberal elites who don't care about the U.S. or have any sort of fealty to religious values, which they see as essential for society to function. Capitalism doesn't come under fire, usually, and even if it did the critique would probably resemble Fascist criticisms of capitalism rather than anything remotely progressive.

A third option is needed, a coherent but not totalizing worldview based on a reorientation of society to basic human values and to a civilization built on social justice and the fulfillment of basic human needs. Also on the value of human self realization and effective participation in self determining one's life and the life of one's society on all levels. In short, a Socialist worldview presenting an alternative to both the implicitly pro-capitalist and anti-human negative nihilism of mainstream society and the pseudo-Fascist revisionism that has appeared on the fringes in the wake of 9/11.

Answers to basic human questions about what's valuable for society and for a decent life must be arrived at through dialogue and a movement to implement those answers in the real world must take shape and press its case.

A shift in consciousness needs to happen.

But this movement should not present itself as having all the answers, as having exhausted the material for dissent and other opinions through its collective search for and finding of basic parameters for the meeting of collective social needs.

Socialist civilization should present itself as a third, viable, option in American society to what exists at the present moment.

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