Category Archives: This Is Hell
Just listened to Micah White on the This Is Hell podcast (the 11-19 episode), and want to try to share his main points with you while they’re still fresh in my mind. First of all, White doesn’t think the incremental reformism of most progressives, including Obama and Hillary Clinton, will get us far enough fast enough – especially in terms of attracting voters. Since the election of Donald Trump (which demonstrates this), White thinks we’re in for a long spell of populist fascism (the Trump model) unless we can create populist democracy by building a broad social movement focused on gaining governmental power. Dismissing street protests unconnected to such a goal as mere feel-good exercises, White points to the speed with which Trumpism gained power and similar time-lines for left-social-movement parties in Europe (Syriza in Greece, Five Stars in Italy, and Podemos in Spain).
Once political power is gained, changes can be made – like ensuring that no one goes hungry in Nehalem, OR, where White recently gained 20% of the vote for mayor. Believing that trying to gain control of small local governments should be part of any left social movement, White points out that leftist-controlled cities and towns could change from a city council form of government to one controlled by a popular assembly, beginning a movement toward “horizontal” (decentralized) democracy. At the same time, revolutionary (wanting real change) leftists could run for state and national offices for the purpose of changing government to be accountable and democratic, which it definitely isn’t now. For years Congress has been almost 100% unresponsive to what polls indicate most Americans want on a variety of issues. This, I believe, is why the majority of eligible voters (57.9% in this year’s election) choose “none of the above” by not voting.
White believes the best way to oppose Trump and Trumpism is to start planning now to try to win elections in 2018 and 2020. Get power in order to change how power functions. Dissatisfied Americans who voted for Trump would see how much responsive to their needs this kind of government would be, and switch from being unconscious fascists to conscious democrats.
Sounds like the only way to me. What do you think?
Hey, everybody — gotta tell you about an amazing podcast: Chuck Mertz’s “This Is Hell,” available on iTunes under “This Is Hell podcast,” or its website, thisishell.net. It’s a 4-hour radio show on WNUR-FM in Evanston-Chicago, broadcasting regularly since 1998, with archives available back to 2001. The shows are based around four or five excellent interviews with academics or authors of recent books and articles, always ending with a “question from hell” – a question we hate to ask, you may hate to answer, or our audience may hate the response. Guests have included Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, Chris Hedges, and others, known and not-so-well-known. Mertz is very bright and very funny, and though his shows are long, they’re well worth listening to.
Thanks to my friend Connie who sent me the link that got me started on “This Is Hell”! Give it a try, and if you like it, spread the word.
P.S. The way you listen to podcasts most conveniently is to get an MP3 player like an Apple iPod, connect it to your computer and download podcasts to it from iTunes via the wire that came with your device to charge it. You can also get podcasts onto your smart phone via a podcast app. Other podcasts I like are Democracy Now, NPR’s Fresh Air, PRI To the Best of Our Knowledge, and This American Life. You can also get great podcasts about your favorite TV shows. In that category I like Breaking Good, Bald Move TV, the Game of Thrones podcast, and The Scot and the Sassenach. The Moth podcast, NPR’s StoryCorps podcast, and Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Radio Essays are also good. Happy listening!