We Are Not the Resistance

Donald Trump is the one who is pushing back against the new nation that’s struggling to be born.

.. Unlike the Tea Party, which was born after President Barack Obama’s inauguration and which spawned a proliferation of well-funded, loosely affiliated right-wing groups determined to hijack the Republican Party and push it further to the right, the only common denominator for “the resistance” today is a commitment to resisting Donald Trump — the man, not necessarily his mission.
.. The writer was quick to clarify that he or she was not part of the “‘resistance’ of the left.” Quite to the contrary, the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the expansion of the military-industrial complex and, by extension, the slashing of vital social services were not only fine by him or her but a cause for celebration.

One might argue that the big tent of “the resistance” is its greatest strength: A massive united front becomes possible when the barrier to entry is so low. If you’re revolted by Trump’s tweets and feel terrified by his access to the nuclear codes, you too can join the resistance.

.. Resistance is a reactive state of mind. While it can be necessary for survival and to prevent catastrophic harm, it can also tempt us to set our sights too low and to restrict our field of vision to the next election cycle

.. Viewed from the broad sweep of history, Donald Trump is the resistance. We are not.

.. the long, continuous yearning and reaching toward freedom flows throughout history “like a river, sometimes powerful, tumultuous, and roiling with life; at other times meandering and turgid, covered with the ice and snow of seemingly endless winters, all too often streaked and running with blood.”

.. Harding was speaking about black movements for liberation in America, but the metaphor applies equally well to the global struggle for human dignity and freedom.

The Guatemalan mother desperately fleeing poverty and violence in her home country stands at the border, young child in her arms, yearning for freedom no less than the American mother hundreds of miles away who puts her hands to the plexiglass in a prison visiting room, desperate to hug her child who sits quietly on the other side.

The movements that have arisen to honor the dignity of both women — movements to end mass incarceration and mass deportation — are separate streams feeding the same river.

.. Donald Trump’s election represents a surge of resistance to this rapidly swelling river, an effort to build not just a wall but a dam. A new nation is struggling to be born, a multiracial, multiethnic, multifaith, egalitarian democracy in which every life and every voice truly matters.

.. Confederate statues are coming down as new memorials and statutes are going up in Montgomery, Ala.

.. For many, the election of Barack Obama to the presidency symbolized the imminent birth of this new America, and many whites feared their privileged status, identity and way of life would die in the transition. The reaction was swift and fierce. It shouldn’t have been surprising.

.. As the historian Carol Anderson documented in “White Rage,” every single advance toward racial justice in this country has been met with virulent, often violent, resistance.

.. Every leap forward for American democracy — from slavery’s abolition to women’s suffrage to minimum-wage laws to the Civil Rights Acts to gay marriage — has been traceable to the revolutionary river, not the resistance.

.. In fact, the whole of American history can be described as a struggle between those who truly embraced the revolutionary idea of freedom, equality and justice for all and those who resisted.

.. There’s a reason marchers in the black freedom struggle sang “We Shall Overcome” rather than chanting “We Shall Resist.”

.. Similarly, those who opposed slavery didn’t view themselves as resisters; they were abolitionists.

 

It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs

The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes.

.. Consider the Industrial Revolution. Well before it took place, in the 19th century, another revolution in work occurred in the 18th century, which historians call the “industrious revolution.” Before this revolution, people worked where they lived, perhaps at a farm or a shop. The manufacturing of textiles, for example, relied on networks of independent farmers who spun fibers and wove cloth. They worked on their own; they were not employees.

In the industrious revolution, however, manufacturers gathered workers under one roof, where the labor could be divided and supervised. For the first time on a large scale, home life and work life were separated. People no longer controlled how they worked, and they received a wage instead of sharing directly in the profits of their efforts.

This was a necessary precondition for the Industrial Revolution.

.. the creation of factory technology was possible only because people’s relationship to work had already changed. A power loom would have served no purpose for networks of farmers making cloth at home.

.. our current historical moment is better understood as a second industrious revolution

.. Over these four decades we have seen an increase in the use of day laborers, office temps, management consultants, contract assemblers, adjunct professors, Blackwater mercenaries and every other kind of worker filing an I.R.S. form 1099. These jobs span the income ranks, but they share what all work seems to have in common in the post-1970s economy: They are temporary and insecure.

.. In the last 10 years, 94 percent of net new jobs have appeared outside of traditional employment.
.. services like Uber and online freelance markets like TaskRabbit were created to take advantage of an already independent work force; they are not creating it.
.. Uber is a symptom, not a cause... shortly after World War II, a Milwaukee man named Elmer Winter founded Manpower, the first major temp agency, to supply emergency secretaries.

.. The emergence in the 1970s of a new, strictly financial view of corporations, a philosophy that favored stock and bond prices over production, of short-term gains over long-term investment. Theories of “lean” corporate organization became popular, especially those sold by management consultants and business gurus.

.. Pundits have offered many paths forward — “portable” benefits, universal basic income, worker reclassification — but regardless of the option, the important thing to remember is that we do have a choice.

 

Talking to a Man Named Mr. Cotton About Slavery and Confederate Monuments

“Looking back 150, 200 years ago, it was a way of life,” he says. “It may not have been right, but it was the way of life at the time.”

.. Our trip took us through Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama.

We found that the legacy of the Confederacy has become so embedded in daily life that it will take more than the removal of a statue here, or a plaque there, to address it. That it has become too easy to look past the atrocities that occurred on the serene plantations where you take prom pictures, or walks with your family amid stone sculptures and bright flowers.

.. In some cases, the structures are simply too massive to remove — take the 351-foot obelisk honoring Jefferson Davis in his birthplace of Fairview, Ky. In others, as in Alabama, a law has been established to prohibit the removal of Confederate monuments.

But in many instances, Confederate memorials are not physical. They are better understood as emotional, spiritual and familial connections.

..  Like many pro-Confederates in the South, Mr. Cotton plays down the role of slavery in the Civil War. He believes it had more to do with the North trying to control, and eventually invade, the South than anything else.

.. For Mr. Cotton and other Davis supporters, much of that legend was built on what Davis did before he became the president of the Confederacy. They see him as a heroic West Point graduate who served in the Mexican-American War, and as a United States senator representing Mississippi.

What they don’t highlight are his beliefs about slavery. Davis thought that the institution should be expanded and that black people were an inferior race. These white supremacist beliefs continued to shape American society long after the Civil War was over and efforts to integrate freed slaves gave way to an era of racially motivated killings.

.. “It’s a reminder of hatred and all the wrongdoings that’s been done against African-Americans,” Ms. Jones says of Confederate symbols. “I do believe they have a right to their history, but not at the sake of ours. If you’re going to write part of the story, write the whole story. Tell what you did.”

.. But ignoring the misdeeds of Confederate leaders — seeing Jefferson Davis the statesman without seeing Jefferson Davis the slave owner — is not a luxury available to black people.

 

 

Oh, the Humanities!

New data on college majors confirms an old trend. Technocracy is crushing the life out of humanism.

the years since the Great Recession have been “brutal for almost every major in the humanities.” They’ve also been bad for “social science fields that most closely resemble humanistic ones — sociology, anthropology, international relations and political science.” Meanwhile the sciences and engineering have gained at the expense of humanism, and with them sports management and exercise studies — the “hygiene” and “sport,”
..Notably this trend is sharper among elite liberal arts colleges, the top thirty in the US News and World Report rankings, where in the early 2000s the humanities still attracted about a third of all students, but lately only get about a fifth.
.. it’s not just a matter of the post-Great Recession middle class seeking more practical degrees to make sure their student loans get repaid quickly; the slice of the American elite that’s privileged enough and intellectually-minded enough to choose Swarthmore or Haverford or Amherst over a state school or a research university is abandoning Hermes for Apollo at the fastest clip.
.. the absence of a post-Great Recession bounce-back for the humanities suggests that the economic calamity of 2008 was a precondition but not the only cause, and that other cultural shifts had left the humanities ripe for another era of collapse... many conservatives blame the humanists themselves, for being politicized and marching lock step to the left and for pursuing postmodernist obscurantism in their scholarship and prose. But I think it’s more useful to step back a bit and recognize both politicization and postmodern jargon as attempted solutions to a pre-existing problem, not the taproot of the crisis.

..  the poet and the novelist and the theologian struggle to find an official justification for their arts. And both the turn toward radical politics and the turn toward high theory are attempts by humanists in the academy to supply that justification — to rebrand the humanities as the seat of social justice and a font of political reform

.. First, there was a stronger religious element in midcentury culture, visible both in the general postwar religious revival and in the particular theological-intellectual flowering that Jacobs’s subjects embodied, which rooted midcentury humanism in a metaphysical understanding of human life

.. Second, there was the example of a rival civilization, totalitarian Communism,

.. And third, forged in response to the Communist threat, there was a sense of Western identity, Western historical tradition, that could be glib and propagandistic in a from-Plato-to-NATO style, but at its best let people escape the worst of late modern afflictions, the crippling chauvinism of the now.

..  a regained sense of history as a repository of wisdom and example rather than just a litany of crimes and wrongthink.

.. Finally, a cultural recoil from the tyranny of the digital and the virtual and the Very Online, today’s version of the technocratic, technological, potentially totalitarian Machine that Jacobs’s Christian humanists opposed.

.. where the last piece of advice doesn’t seem like a contradiction in terms, and you’ve imagined the beginnings of humanism’s revival. May we live to see the day.