In the previous three sections, readers will have considered, in Part One, an overall overview of the very idea of memorializing 9/11; the point there was that we cannot commemorate unless we understand.
Part Two, in investigating the 1945 Peace Treaty with Japan, proffered a ‘book-end’ for the period of time that 9/11 arguably closed; this assessment both cast an appraising eye back in time and recounted events that followed in the aftermath of WWII’s denouement, which effectively inaugurated the period that ranged to at least September 10, 2001.
Part Three contained two sections: the first utilized events in Santiago, Chile as a focal point for grappling with the second half of the period between 1945 and 2001, a time in which the contradictions and paradoxes of corporate, imperial imprimatur became increasingly difficult to manage, though the plutocrats did try; the second gave a lightning tour of the parameters of post-9/11 existence, a glum and grim decade that will surely appear like ‘the good old days’ unless working people manage to throw off corporate rule and bring something akin to participatory democracy to pass.
Today’s final piece of this little puzzle provides readers with conclusions to ponder and the nerdy reflections of this humble correspondent about what is most important in this material. Paulo Freire, whose Pedagogy of the Oppressed ought to be universally mandatory reading, has contended that becoming fully human requires a dialogic nexus. Whenever readers are ready would be a good time to start.
CONCLUSIONS–Rationale for Continuity, Inevitability of Karma, & Transformative Possibility
The upshot of this analysis ought to operate essentially as a no-brainer. ‘What is going on?’ The USA is continuing on a path that has always been one aspect of its tendencies, from the theft of North America and the enslavement of Africans through the wholesale slaughter of civilians on every continent save Australia and Antarctica. This, put simply, is the pathway of imperial imprimatur, dressed up as ‘development’ and assistance and ‘freedom.’
‘Why did 9/11 happen?’ The comeuppance of ‘what goes around comes around’ had to take place. Sowing the wind cannot but reap the whirlwind; this humble correspondent’s wife, whose grandfather died in a hail of Pinochet-inspired bullets, understands this much more deeply than do most hyper-privileged ‘middle-class’ Americans. But obviously, even the fantasy of this ‘middle-class’s’ existence is on the wane.
‘Why has the aftermath of 9/11 made the world even less secure and more prone to mass collective suicide?’ The fundamental contradictions of SOP political economy, the vicious suppression of democracy while purporting to support majority rule, and misguided and mistaken consciousness all portend ill. Only the last of these, a grappling with consciousness, can yield the possibility of transformation however.
Such conclusions are obvious to anyone who can stand the storm of condemnation that attends speaking truth to power. In the midst of imperial arrogance, truly, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
One might anticipate that, at least occasionally, intimations of such thinking would wend their way into the primary mediated expressions upon which most residents of the planet rely. Not only has this been rarer than hen’s teeth, but the opposite is also manifestly the case: corporate views are practically universal in one form or another, from laudatory reporting on ‘tea-party’ fatuousness to superficial boosterism in regard to ‘Obama’s job initiative,’ from fetishistic accounts of individuated ‘art’ at Burning Man’s petty bourgeois celebration of nihilism to the latest Hollywood gossip, and on and on and on and on and on, apparently ad infinitum, world without end.
At the very least, one might hope that, confronted with crisis after crisis, with every indication that all the accepted nostrums are crashing and burning, organized contingents of citizens would begin to network with each other to contend for power. Instead, through a combination of hypocrisy, bigotry, laziness, and willful ignorance, folks in the United States seem inclined to ‘worship false gods’ and rely on greedy, venal ‘leadership’ to rescue them from looming crises on every front.
One need not, thankfully, hope for a Western Hemisphere ‘Congress of Soviets’ to set things right. On the contrary, homegrown models are readily available. The Economic Bill of Rights is solid thinking for a transition in the direction of social justice and actual democracy. Tens of thousands of individual initiatives to achieve justice and empower communities occur every day. These have appeared in SERMCAP’s work and elsewhere that this humble correspondent has published.
As well, this humble correspondent is one of the many scattered grassroots thinkers who want to light a pathway toward something akin to sustainability and human flowering. A “New Ten Commandments” is a recent example. From number one, “The Golden Rule Reigns supreme,” to number four, “All Who Work Are Equal,” to number ten, “All Else Is Negotiable,” it represents a common-sensical, class conscious morality and ethics that might underlie democracy.
The epilogue to this hortatory set of ten rules serves as well as anything to close this brief section. “The central task of the social reformer, or ‘progressive,’ as the first decades of the twenty-first century unfold, is to form relationships that are durable and pointed enough to begin, on the one hand, to dismantle the Imperial-Financial-Military-Prison-Pharaceutical-Industrial Complex, the various arms of which–the ‘War on Drugs, Homeland Security, Xenophobia-Incorporated, Operation Iraqi Liberation and similar exercises in military mass murder and social control, and so on and so forth–effect the enervation of the working class, both in terms of consciousness and in terms of action, and, on the other hand, to work to reconstitute the social and productive forces in that ‘Complex’–now turned to exploitation and repression and inanity–so that they can start to express humanity’s innate creative capacity to construct a human existence.”
As this series has hammered home, such a capacity to reform and resuscitate has to start with analysis and continue with conversation. This humble correspondent is having his say herein. He’d love to hear from folks.
AFTERWARD–The Dialogic Necessity of Exchanges That Deal with Ideology and Consciousness
W.E.B. Du Bois, genius that he was, estimated that “the great problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Perhaps the grand dilemma of the twenty-first century is the conundrum of false consciousness.
In saying this, as the final paragraphs of a series on ‘Understanding 9/11’ spin-out, this humble correspondent is remonstrating that we must either demonstrate a willingness to talk about all of these things together, holding fast to the standards of evidence and intellectual honesty of any debate that hopes to learn and teach something, or we face a more or less rapid decline as a species. At the least, no ‘good life,’ as in an evolution of humans to include conscious agents who shape their lives and the world, can transpire if we refuse the mental labor that this series extols and proffers.
The title of one of William Appleman Williams volumes neatly summarizes the ideation and ideology of citizens of the United States in this regard, at least since the 1940’s. The Great Evasion remains a timely manual for what Americans choose to ignore. Survivors of the storm that is breaking upon us now may well recall the phrase and nod ruefully.
Williams was writing of the wisdom that Karl Marx evinced; he subtitled this slender volume, “an essay on the contemporary relevance of Karl Marx and on the wisdom of admitting the heretic into the dialogue about America’s future.” Others who have followed the traditions of that thinking include, of course, this humble correspondent. As well, readers not afraid of engaging the real, and its sexy cousin, the possible, may want to consult innumerable additional intellectuals. Three will serve to close our interlude here.
**Jurgen Habermas has for decades sought the joining of art, science, and morality. The conjunction depends, in the current context of rampant compartmentalization, on the only glue that can cause these things to stick together: honest and respectful conversation.
Against the opportunistic thugs of ‘neoconservatism’ and ‘neoliberalism,’ not to mention the hypocritical bourgeoisie who worship at the ‘cult of the expert,’ Habermas defends the modernist prospect: to comprehend reality, to work with others to shape that reality, to transform consciousness and reality in league with others so as to have a positive impact on the world. He offers sage ideas to readers willing to listen.
“(W)ith the decisive confinement of science, morality, and art to autonomous spheres separated from the life-world and administered by experts,” precisely the protocols in place in all establishment government agencies and most Non-Governmental Organization granting agencies, “what remains from the project of cultural modernity”–learning so as to rescue ourselves from perdition–“is only what we would have if we were to give up the project of modernity altogether.” And ‘to give up altogether’ is to invite, and to deserve, the long darkness that looms.
**Paulo Freire is another proponent and practitioner of mutual dialog in the service of empowerment and transformation. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, cited above, he sticks to the contention that only through mutual dialog is full humanity accessible. He thus rejects the one-way manipulation of advertising, foreswears the ‘bank-deposit’ pretension of U.S. pedagogy, and overturns any reliance on the ‘cult of expertise’ that capital uses to hide its sins and justify its excesses. Basically, in this view, we desperately need listening sessions in which the working class gets its chance to speak.
As one commentator summarized, “Freire’s life and work as an educator is optimistic in spite of poverty, imprisonment, and exile. He is a world leader in the struggle for the liberation of the poorest of the poor: the marginalized classes who constitute the “cultures of silence” in many lands. On a planet where more than half the people go hungry every day because nations are incapable of feeding all their citizens, where we cannot yet agree that every human being has a right to eat and to be housed, Paulo Freire toils to help men and women overcome their sense of powerlessness to act in their own behalf.”
**David Graeber is brilliant American anthropologist, teaching in Ireland, who reveals indelible connections among morality, money, debt, and governments, connections that ‘free-market’ flacks would have us believe are ‘theoretically’ unnecessary. Ranging incisively through historical and anthropological evidence, he proves his negative case–that the ‘free market’ is a fraud–decisively, and makes a good start on supporting his positive point, that humans have long cycles defined by alternating uptake of commodity and debt monetary relationships.
Perhaps more in tune with the specific undertaking of this series, he has also written Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams. Therein, he insists on multidisciplinary analytical tools as the essential accompaniment of addressing the multiple, intersecting crises that our planet full of cousins faces.
Such nerdy fellows as these, and the multitudes of other men and women who refuse to compartmentalize and insist on wide-ranging analysis and honest political economy, can contribute to the capability to discuss the world intelligently. But ultimately, much larger groups of folks are going to have to jump into the game, if we’re to have a prayer to rescue something for our progeny. That, above all else, is the lesson of 9/11: Learn and Participate, or die.
Truly, the working people of all the Earth must find a basis for unity–winning a world and losing our chains simultaneously. Otherwise, we will merit nothing less than the carnage that is already happening and will, more or less steadily, worsen during this period of darkness that could portend a new dawn or might preface a long and possibly endless night for the lucky fuckers here who are busy pissing away our birthright–consciousness and reason–out of a perverse combination of greed and fear and wanton self-righteous indulgence in infantile narcissism.