“We are apparently swimming in a reality unfolding moment by moment. The truly good news is that we are together. . . all forms of us.” -Pari Center, Italy, participant
“We are living in a post 2020 world…for the rest of our lives.”
Anand Giridharadas is a journalist and writer. He is a former columnist and foreign correspondent for The New York Timesand a visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He is the author of India Calling, The True American, and Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.
From Anand, 7.20.21:
“…got me thinking back to a conversation I once had with Krista Tippett, the brilliant host of On Being. And so today, on Billionaire Space Day No. 2, I share with you this brief reflection about the background ethos of the age…”
July 21, 1969, New York, New York: Rain-soaked New Yorkers watch TV and cheer as they see Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first step on the lunar surface (Getty)
What we do alone and what we do together
On the billionaire space race
This is a story, in some ways, about two rival faiths. A faith in what we do alone versus a faith in what we do together.
These are two parallel and rival spiritual orientations. They are both very strong parts of our culture.
One tradition inspires the celebration of a heroic soloist, capitalist, pull-yourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps story.
But that’s never been the only story. We’ve also always had this story of movements. It wasn’t individuals who got rid of the King of England. The most important things we’ve done in this culture have been together.
These two tendencies, what we do alone and what we do together, have always vied for primacy in American life. For much of the 20th century, they lived in a certain healthy tension. And right now the relationship between them is very unhealthy. It’s become a relationship of mutual annihilation, instead of a relationship of adversarial cooperation.
I think we need to get back to a place where we understand both and celebrate both the very real heritage we have in this country of doing things alone and of doing things together, and the relationship that those things have.
Because at our best, we do things together in a way that allows people to do things alone. And people do things alone in a way that creates the opportunities to do things together. These things don’t have to be at war with each other, but they are absolutely at war today.
“This is a challenging conversation but a generative one: about the implicit moral equations behind a notion like “win-win” — and the moral compromises in a cultural consensus we’ve reached, without reflecting on it, about what and who can save us.’
We Americans revere the creation of wealth. Anand Giridharadas wants us to examine this and how it shapes our life together. This is a challenging conversation but a generative one: about the implicit moral equations behind a notion like “win-win” — and the moral compromises in a cultural consensus we’ve reached, without reflecting on it, about what and who can save us.” -On Being
From Krista Tippett on Twitter:
“…a lovely reflection, honored to be cited.”
‘The story we believe and live in today has a lot to do with the world we create for our children, our grandchildren, and our descendants one hundred thousand years from now (if?).’ -Brian McLaren
‘We are all looking for a larger and more loving story in which to participate.’
‘The deepest truth is our union with the Absolute, Infinite Being with God. That’s the root of our reality.’ -Beatrice Bruteau
‘We experience liberation from
fruitless, or counterproductive action.
We will no longer be “just” anything,
No, whatever our work we will do it as agents…builders…of a new world.
Then, we will
treat our neighbors differently,
and so much more.’
-Center for Action and Contemplation
We are falling on our face because we are jumping high.
A dash of perspective in a dark hour.
It’s scary out there right now. It’s going to be scary for some time to come. What has been unleashed, what has been revealed, is ugly. It is what makes democracies die.
In the despair, it is easy to lose perspective. I certainly do all the time. But from time to time, I step back and try to remember where we are as a country on the arc of things.
And I see then that this is both a very dark time and, potentially, a very bright time. It’s important to hold these truths together.
When I look down at the ground of the present right now, I feel depressed. If I lift my head to the horizon, I see a different picture.
This is not the chaos of the beginning of something. This is the chaos of the end of something.
Because the 40 years of this plutocratic takeover — of the ideology that said if you’re torn between doing what’s good for money and what’s good for people, always do what’s good for money; these stories about lazy workers and welfare queens; and any number of other fraudulent tales that were meant to justify life in the Hamptons — if I allow myself to feel this way on a good day, it all actually feels like it’s burning down.
And on matters of race and identity, likewise, the Trump era doesn’t have the crackle of a launch. It has been a mourning. A mourning for white power. A mourning for a time when simply to be white and show up was enough. A mourning for an era in which simply to be a man, and not necessarily an especially capable one, could get you ahead of other people. A mourning for a time when you could be the default idea of an American and not have to share your toys.
We must understand that what we’ve been living through is backlash. Backlash.
It’s not the engine of history. It is the revolt against the engine of history. Then we might remember — just to pat ourselves on the back for a second — that what we are actually endeavoring to do right now is to become a kind of society that has seldom, if ever, existed in history. Which is become a majority-minority, democratic superpower.
I have a lot of love for my friends in Europe, but actually none of you all have your immigration rates and naturalization rates at a high enough level to get there anytime soon. And you all may never get there.
Look at India and China. I love India. My parents are from India. India is never going to be a nation of immigrants. It’s never going to be a country of people from all the world. It can barely get unity with people just from India. China is never going to be a nation of immigrants. No shade. That’s just not their history. It’s not who they are.
We are falling on our face because we are jumping very high right now. We are trying to do something that does not work in theory.
To be a country of all the world, a country made up of all the countries, a country without a center of identity, without a default idea of what a human being is or looks like, without a shared religious belief, without a shared language that is people’s first language at home. And what we’re trying to do is awesome. It is literally awesome in the correct sense of that word.
And, therefore, that we are having insurrections on the Mall or four years of an autocratic attempt or racism oozing through the television and social media portals is both terrifying and a completely predictable, inevitable result of people in power exploiting these transitional anxieties for their own pecuniary gain.
And what we have to do is get smarter than powerful people. Get more organized than them, and understand that there is a different story to tell those who mistakenly went to the Mall and the 12 percent of Americans who actually supported that terrorist attack, and everybody else — a story to tell them about something great we are trying to do.
We will actually create a country that’s better for every single person. But we have to be willing to tell that story forcefully. We have to be willing to fight those people tooth and nail, and we have to fight to win.
We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.
“In the Spring of 2011, Donald Trump was booked on the Today Show, The View, CNN, Fox, etc. to discuss his “theory” that Barack Obama was not born in America. The US media mainstreamed racist innuendo and made Trump’s political ascent possible. Don’t let it happen again.” -Ben Rhodes, author, ‘The World As It Is’
“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie. the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” -Hanna Arendt
We are in a cold civil war
America after the conventions
by, Anand Giridharadas, The.Ink
“On this morning after the end of the party conventions, I woke up with this feeling: This is how it gets right before the end — or before a new beginning.
I had woken up early to make some notes for a television appearance. More notes than usual came out. I thought I would share them, more or less as is:
My sense after watching these two conventions is that we live in two countries impermeable to each other.
We are locked in a cold civil war.
Each country feels the other is an existential threat to America. Each sees itself as the carrier of truth and freedom and righteousness. Each sees itself as honoring the founding values. Each says it will keep you safe. And the problem is that we have become a society where persuasion is nearly impossible, where people live in their own castles of reality.
I watched Fox News a little last night to understand what it looks like from inside the death cult. And it is a complete, coherent, airtight, fascistic world.
I agree with Michael Beschloss, who said on TV last night that we may be a year away from losing our democracy. This is not me saying it or AOC saying it or Joe Biden saying it; it’s Michael Beschloss saying it. A presidential historian. A year away from losing our democracy.
Until lately, I haven’t really thought that Donald Trump would win. But after watching these conventions, I dread that he is indeed going to win — until you hear otherwise.
If this cult is going to be defeated, it is going to take the most heroic effort and focus between now and November.
And that’s hard because a lot of the progressives with real passion don’t feel it for Joe Biden. And, frankly, it’s more his fault than theirs. And the passion and energy that you see in Black Lives Matter don’t necessarily land on Joe Biden’s shoulders, because of his record on criminal justice and mass incarceration.
Plenty of people are lecturing those folks to come into the tent and focus.
But, far more important, I think, is Biden coming to them. To speak to the Black Lives Matter movement folks, to speak to progressives, to make promises that, fair enough, do not hurt him with the broad coalition he feels he needs to build, because this is a work of coalition-building, but that ignites loving fury and passion like we have never seen.
I live in Brooklyn. Half the people on the street in the primaries had a T-shirt of some candidate or other. In the general election, I have seen exactly one Joe Biden T-shirt among thousands of people.
This is not the time to blame the non-T-shirt wearers. Between now and November, Joe Biden needs to do everything in his power to ignite a righteous political fervor like we’ve never seen before.
And, yes, in this many-way marriage, we’re all going to have to give something. The progressives are going to have to shift from negging Biden to pushing and pressuring and summoning him.
These beautiful protests, when they’re at their best, have drastically moved public opinion in their favor. We need public opinion to keep moving that way.
CONSOLIDATION AND OUTREACH
This campaign for the rescue of the American republic needs to fight on two distinct fronts. We need a passionate consolidation and enlivening on the left. And there have been a lot of missteps here — but there is still time to repair it.
And then in terms of outreach to the other side, the approach shouldn’t be the courting of never-Trumpers at the cost of your own party’s soul — but rather a careful study of the right’s ways.
What I saw over four nights of the RNC was a party that is still the most gifted in American politics at reframing increasingly bizarre, dangerous, destructive, nihilistic policies and prescriptions in the gauzy, stirring language of faith, family, heroism, bravery, and liberty.
In modern times, the Republican Party has forced itself into the extraordinary challenge of selling policies that would serve ever fewer people to a majority. So they have learned how to speak to people. This is the moment for the left to really step up on speaking to people.
Speaking to people in a commanding language that is not wonky, that is not hyper-woke, that is not college-sounding, that is not exclusionary and hard to ramp onto, that strums the courts of widely shared values, not ideological stands. Joe Biden is already better at this than many others, but there is much runway still.
It is existential work right now to find the language that will stoke the fire of those who believe most ardently in the cause, and will call in those who believe least in it but patriotically fear the loss of the republic — this language is hungering to be found.
This is how it gets right before the end — or before a new beginning.”