I’ve always liked and admired political cartoonist Ted Rall. He’s actually much more than a cartoonist, and his articles and books are no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners progressive rants of the highest order. He’s got a new book out, “The Anti-American Manifesto,” and, in an excerpt I read on AlterNet, it’s classic Rall, but uniquely important at the same time. In this book, Rall spells out clearly what so many progressive writers and thinkers have been dancing around for years now, myself included: The American government is going to collapse soon. There will be a power vacuum, and the Tea Party/gun nuts/militia groups/crazy Christians are ready and poised to step into that vacuum if no one else does.
Rall stands up and says it out loud: Progressives need to start the revolution now, before the actual collapse, or we will find ourselves shackled, imprisoned or worse.
“We can wait for the system to collapse of its own accord, for the rage of the downtrodden and dispossessed to build, for chaos of some sort to expose and destroy it. But implosion might take a long time. And when it happens, we may find ourselves even more powerless than we are now. They -- the hardcore, racist, undereducated, fundamentalist Christian, anti-civil liberties Right -- are preparing to step into the breach, to seize power. They can't wait to unleash their venomous hatred on the city-dwelling commie hipster fags they despise. They are armed. They recognize that the system is doomed. They've seen this coming. They're organized and willing to merge their disparate brands of conservatism under a common leadership. Most importantly, they get it. They don't need to be convinced that everything is in play. They're putting it in play.”
Strong stuff, but we all know that he is right. It is time for resistance, action and effort. Rall doesn’t offer any easy answers to the obvious question, “What should I do, Ted?” He claims his role is to get people to think, and then choose their own course of action.
I’m in total agreement with Rall, and I admire his courage writing this manifesto, but I also live in this world, and I look around me daily at the people of the Twin Cities and I don’t see any revolutionaries. I live in an economic strata of people who are focused on families and careers, working harder than ever, but still able to afford a new car when they need one or to go out to dinner when they want to or take a summer vacation.
For a variety of reasons, the coming calamity we are facing in America is not on their radar. If I was to have lunch with anyone I know here at work and tell them that we need to start a revolution, they’d smile and discreetly move to another table. I can only speak for my own experience, but the people I know will only be motivated to act if (when) the economy goes south in a big way and they are deprived of the things that they now take for granted. Then, and only then, will the ground be fertile for planting the desperate idea of revolution.
Raising political awareness among the masses is extremely difficult at the moment. The corporate news media is keeping the average American woefully misinformed of the political realities in this country, and while many people have a vague uneasiness about what’s going on in Washington, very few truly understand the gravity of the situation.
Rall is right in his evaluation of our current dilemma, but I don’t think there will be much movement or support for the idea of revolution until we reach a critical mass of economic discomfort among people in what’s left of the middle class. I hope I’m wrong about this.