I can verify that there are many people out there who've pretty much figured out how the economic system is basically just a con system for the international half-of-one-percent to become even more rich and powerful. I know because I speak to them on buses, at work, on the street. Yet they feel isolated since they are invisible to the university elites and unheard by elected officials. I've had conversations in bars about politics, economics, and theology -- and as I've said to grad students, these are the same ideas discussed by educated people, although maybe not as articulately and with "fuck" as every other word.
And those with the better jobs, like in high tech, are so busy trying to make their mortgage payments that they are afraid to think about their jobs as the next exports. The constant barrage of frightening news, usually presented without context (and of course avoiding any mention of the true state of the economy) keeps people anxious. Good for selling junk food and psychoactive drugs. Plus setting people up for whatever political relief, the promise of security, they can get.
I'm not arguing that people are stupid. But the opposition to this insane economic system and the unholy alliance of the wealthy right with the TV evangelicals is just not connecting with working people. Can't do that from the isolation of a university lab or the upscale digs of the current Democratic party.
As for hope, it's the center of the Christian message. Yes, it's been distorted and overused. But I'm Eastern Orthodox, and our faith holds that theosis (deification) is something that can happen in this lifetime. In the old radical labor language, it is not "pie in the sky when you die." In the old religious language, it is "the Kingdom of God," something that begins first of all within and is to include all of creation. Establishing it by force is the dark and vengeful fantasy of people who've felt excluded and who are encouraged by the unholy alliance to think of themselves as the new chosen ones.
If we don't present an alternative to both bad economics and bad theology in terms that make sense to our fellow American citizens, then we'll be watching as Jeb Bush or our new Paul Hindenberg, John McCain, rip up the Bill of Rights. Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) must be spinning.
PS: I like your sign-off "art and labor." Ars gratia aris, although most is commercial, creativity and intuition aren't. When we design a new econ system, let's make work creative and meaningful -- skilled labor. And get past the idea that if it's well paid, it's okay to be dangerous or boring.
Yes, I am seeing more and more of those people every day who have wised up to the econ game. Lately, I've given up on topics that only lead to outrage fatigue. All along the road we encounter human beings existing at differing levels of awareness, and who tend to listen to their own kind, because that is the consensus reality they mutually understand.
But I still believe there is such a thing as an approximately central truth. I believe that most sentient Americans suffer from the meaninglessness of their lives and what those lives are expended upon, and I believe that liberation exists. And it exists in the form of transformation of the our inner consciousness.
We have suffered greatly from the cooption, misuse and abuse of such important and powerful words such as soul, and spirit and hope. The brute ever triumphs over the flesh and the material, but he cannot conquer that deep thing in the self which animates the inner life toward perfection -- perfection being mostly the understanding that perfection, like all other man made conceptual and consensual realities, does not exist. But its quest as a driving inner force is the lantern which lights this brief mortal road upon which we walk.
In other words, you and I are on the same page of the same book, with the same message, but written in slightly different languages.
In art and labor,