We need to take a deep breath and look at what we are witnessing. I’m beginning to think the Bernie Sanders movement is unstoppable. In a sense he is the one we’ve been waiting for, because he sees — and unleashes — our genius as a people. The “structure” of his campaign relies totally on the spontaneity of volunteers hungry to experience our genius. Check the artistry of the myriad memes that have been created in his behalf. The only thing that matters is uniting the working class. Like the man said, all history is the history of class struggle.
We are it. The more of us we are able ask to join our “we” the more powerful we will become. The election, while exciting as hell, is merely a vehicle for us to discover ourselves. We are the working class. We have a history of struggle. Back in the day we were conscious. We need to revive class consciousness in order to unite the broad masses. I know I’m bringing back dated vocabulary, but while the current situation is new, it has its historical precedents which we ignore at our peril.
There is no “middle class.” There’s just the 1% and the rest of us, the working class. We need to own this term. What we call the middle class is just a better paid, privileged section of the working class.
The primary impediment to working class unity is racism. We need to recognize that this phase of the revolution didn’t start with Bernie. It started with Occupy Wall Street and was then picked up after Ferguson by Black Lives Matter. The movement to stop the war on Black people is the front lines of this revolution where people like Oscar Grant, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland are dying for the cause.
It is not an accident that it is the internet that is bringing us together. I think it was Lenin said the capitalists will sell you the rope to hang them with. The internet is our rope. Paul Mason has a book coming out in February, Post-Capitalism, a Guide to our Future, which argues that the reason socialism failed in the Soviet Union is that the internet hadn’t been invented yet. Technology has evolved to the point where the state could in fact control and efficiently organize the economic engine of the society. I don’t know about that. It’s seems like what we want is new. Something that hasn’t happened before. I think it’s called democracy. Governance by the people for the people for real, people getting together to take back their lives. Not at all what the “Founding Father” slaveholders meant. Democracy where our mission in life is to connect with each other.
So as we go door to door to organize our precincts for Bernie, we don’t just sell Bernie, we sell the revolution. The nice thing about this is this revolution is precisely the one that’s in our heads, because we are it. So I can’t say what this revolution is to you. You realize he’s using that word. This is a serious word.
I can say what it is for me: my revolution is for human connection to be raised to the highest value of the society. What will be important to the whole society is how close we are to each, how well we share. Where the schools teach how to play well together. Playing well together, we need to bring that back.
So it seems to me the way to make this revolution isn’t so difficult. If it’s all about human connection, then all we need to do is keep connecting.
The theme song of this revolution is Martha and the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Street.”
When Ron Dellums was mayor of Oakland, we piloted some seriously democratic structures. Under the leadership of my friend Kitty Epstein, we developed citizen task forces on about 30 community issues from policing, to schools, to green jobs. About a thousand people met for six months to recommend policy in the various areas. About 70% of the recommendations were implemented by the Dellums administration. The reason Dellums has only a fair reputation as mayor is that his view of his job was a catalyst for the movement, exactly like Bernie. Kitty wrote a book about it you should read: Organizing to Change a City. That’s what real leaders do: they unleash the genius of the people. Power to the people. This is what democracy looks like.