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Friday, December 23, 2016

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Tom Cathcart links to this very suggestive essay in the Nation.   Thank you, Tom.  Although I subscribe to the Nation, I am embarrassed to say that when it comes I only do the puzzle at the back, so I did not see the piece.  It poses a troubling and important question:  What am I prepared to do, aside from just talking and writing, to oppose the truly terrible things Trump gives every evidence of being likely to do?  The author of the piece, Harold Pollock, asks whether he would be willing to risk being arrested by taking direct, albeit non-violent, action.   

Well, I got myself arrested at an anti-apartheid demonstration thirty years ago, pretty much as a jeu d'esprit, but now I am the principal care-giver for my wife, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and is about to turn eighty-four.  Suppose I am not simply arrested and released on my own recognizance.  Who would look after her if I was sentenced, let us say, to three months in jail?  I might be willing to do it -- a relatively easy way to promote my own "Prison Notebooks," a la Gramsci, but I could not impose that on my wife.

And yet, and yet, do I really want my grandchildren to have to say, "My grandfather was a big talker, but when it came right down to it, and thousands were in the streets protesting that awful man, Trump, he stayed home."

I am afraid we really are only a month away from confronting this sort of question.

6 comments:

Richard said...

Talking is not necessarily just talking. It can be a matter of persuading, persuading your next door neighbor, and your local political representatives, as well as national. I think that the latter, including the Republicans among them, are not all that far from being persuadable, at least as far as the dangers posed by Trump.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Lord, I hope you are right.

s. wallerstein said...

Your dilemma parallels the famous example given by Sartre in Existentialism is a Humanism where a student asks him whether he should join the resistence against the Nazis or stay home to care for his sick mother.

Sartre says that there is no Answer, except that it's up to the student to decide for himself.

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The old boy was no dope, sitting in Les Deux Magots [which I walk past on my morning walk in Paris.]

Chris said...

Also that in asking for advice, the student had in fact already made up his mind.

Jerry Fresia said...

I've been arrested 5 times - back in the day when it was easy to escape any serious penalty. I'm not sure the kind of
civil disobedience that I involved myself with (labor issues, US intervention in Central America) is much of a tactic these days.

Bottomline: you are first and foremost a teacher and my guess is that there will be many opportunities for teach-ins especially where you live. Sometimes I think, if I were to come up with, say, a 10 point outline of what all Americans need to know come January 20th, I would be hard pressed to come up with anything concise and meaningful. Perhaps coming up with a list of 10 on-going groups in respective areas would be as good as anything - or maybe that would be item #10 where items one through nine were examples of what others did in similar periods that proved to be effective.

The group I mentioned before (We Stand for Peace and Justice https://www.standforpeaceandjustice.org/) now has 1,400 signees but the organizers say they need more to make a go of it. Rather ambitious.