I, here, now: Confronting the Trump
We are still recovering from shock of the Trump triumph, as in the days after watching the Twin Towers burn and collapse on September 11 fifteen years ago. (See my notes from those days, link below.) The two events are completely different in other ways, except that each has felt like a blow to the body, a stunning shock that everything good that we have struggled for and believed secure was under attack.
How to respond? Well, let’s not panic — we New Yorkers kept our cool and embraced one another then, and need to do that again. But we need to do more than that. First we have to assess who we are and what are our personal resources; then secure our foothold where we are and see how far we can reach to others. Then, we can think how best to act in this moment. Here’s my personal answer.
am a man 75 years old, an age at which one can die without embarrassment — which would be the easy way out. But in my case that would be as unpardonable as it would be for Bob Dylan or Mick Jagger, my nearly exact contemporaries: like them (I hope), I am in good health and, because of all the years lived and things done and seen, better prepared than ever to confront new challenges — though each of us in different ways. In my case, the preparation includes years of research, formal training and informal observation of the dynamics of social movements, overlapping with years of active social organizing. Plus a lot of practice writing. (See links below.) These are the resources I bring to the struggle.
is more than a geographical location, in my case a tranquil village on the southeastern coast of Spain — very nice, but too far for joining street demos or other face-to-face organizing. So let’s look at social location. Though I am no longer in an institution with colleagues, subordinates and/or students, I have a good foothold in social networks and can reach people through publications in print or on-line articles. Since here I have wi-fi, as well as warm human contacts and a wonderfully calming view of the Mediterranean sea, that reach can extend pretty far.
means before the new Trump administration gets consolidated, and also for the years to follow: we’ll need much critical thought and action, much as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have described. But “now” also means the beginning of our future, which will be up to us, all of us, to define — unless you’re willing to lie back and let Trump and company and the multinational corporations and the bureaucrats and party hacks and Vladimir Putin and the religious fanatics define it for us. In the very near future, we have to confront the imminent danger of extreme global warming and all its consequences, continuing violent conflict among self-defined racial, national or religious clans, ambiguous technological breakthroughs that could bring either more destruction or more liberation — probably both —and a need to define a course for more human goals. Each of us using whatever resources we have, from wherever we find ourselves, has much to contribute. As I’ve said before, this vision is very similar to that of the French sufi-trained philosopher Abdennour Bidar (if you read French, see my review of Les tisserands).
The “I” has to become a “we”, the “here” has to be a multitude of global interconnections, the “now” has to look to the yet-to-come.
- My log of the days after September 11, 2001
- See “Nonfiction” and “Fiction” links on my home page for some of my past writings
- For more Trump cartoons