How We Got Here: The 2020 Political Crisis and the Future of Social Change (Part X)
This piece is part of a treatise which consists of the following sections and will be published in the form of a series over several days.
- Part I: Introduction — Tribalism Meets a Conflict Long in the Making
- Part II: Deep-Seated Denialism and Classism
- Part III: A Diverging Society
- Part IV: Humanistic Approaches and the Lost Opportunity for National Economic Justice
- Part V: An Identity-Based Movement for the Progressive Cause
- Part VI: Politics of Personality
- Part VII: A Political Perspective
- Part VIII: The Fundamental Origins of Extremist Hate and the Conditions for Demagoguery
- Part IX: Charlottesville as a Case Study
- Part X: The Current Stage of the Crisis
- Part XI: Conclusion — Finding Reconciliation and Togetherness
At present, we have already progressed to a late stage of the crisis that our country faces. Our nation is essentially in a state of tribal warfare, with two competing camps that have entirely different conceptions of reality.
As social trust has disintegrated, the two camps are unable to find any common ground between each other, including, presumably, on matters such as the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. Even if one camp may be mostly “right” and the other may be mostly “wrong,” the societal chasm endangers all of us.
Our nation is essentially in a state of tribal warfare, with two competing camps that have entirely different conceptions of reality.
Moreover, while extremism has arisen on both sides of the political spectrum, the rightwing has spawned more organized extremism. In the same way as oppression gives rise to organizations like ISIS, the injustices baked into our economy have helped to produce the growing threat of domestic terrorism that we now face in our country.
All of us collectively have created the monster now in front of us.
Every single one of us bears responsibility. Every single one of us bears responsibility for not doing more, and for not doing better, long ago, to forestall the crisis that we now face.
It is never ideal to attempt to find one’s way out of a crisis, for problems become increasingly intractable the further they escalate.
Just like the imperative of containing a virus in the early stages of spread, before transmission reaches pandemic proportions, we must address social ills at the earliest stage possible if we wish to build a society that is truly resilient. But when social diseases fester to the point of spawning hateful, violent extremism, we have far fewer options.
Just as a virus must still be combatted after rampant spread, so must hate.
Nevertheless, even though prevention would have been preferable to cure, we must take sides at this stage. Just as a virus must still be combatted after rampant spread, so must hate.
Even though the hate may have understandable origins, these underlying determinants do not alter the moral reprehensibility of the hate and the obligation to resist this hate to the greatest extent possible.
It remains most poignant, however, that if people decide to fight, they will be fighting over virtually nothing, much like children on a playground.
They will be fighting over issues that they could have united with one another to fight against — peacefully — long ago. They will be fighting the agendas of a societal elite that has pitted multiple marginalized groups with overlapping grievances against one another.