In every aspect of human existence, change is a constant. Yet change that actually matters occurs only rarely. Even then, except in retrospect, genuinely transformative change is difficult to identify. By attributing cosmic significance to every novelty and declaring every unexpected event a revolution, self-assigned interpreters of the contemporary scene -- politicians and pundits above all -- exacerbate the problem of distinguishing between the trivial and the non-trivial.
Did 9/11 “change everything”? For a brief period after September 2001, the answer to that question seemed self-evident: of course it did, with massive and irrevocable implications. A mere decade later, the verdict appears less clear. Today, the vast majority of Americans live their lives as if the events of 9/11 had never occurred. When it comes to leaving a mark on the American way of life, the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have long since eclipsed Osama bin Laden. (Whether the legacies of Jobs and Zuckerberg will prove other than transitory also remains to be seen.)
Anyone claiming to divine the existence of genuinely Big Change Happening Now should, therefore, do so with a sense of modesty and circumspection, recognizing the possibility that unfolding events may reveal a different story.
All that said, the present moment is arguably one in which the international order is, in fact, undergoing a fundamental transformation. The “postwar world” brought into existence as a consequence of World War II is coming to an end. A major redistribution of global power is underway. Arrangements that once conferred immense prerogatives upon the United States, hugely benefiting the American people, are coming undone.
In Washington, meanwhile, a hidebound governing class pretends that none of this is happening, stubbornly insisting that it’s still 1945 with the so-called American Century destined to continue for several centuries more (reflecting, of course, God’s express intentions).
I think we are living with a detached government that doesn't even grasp how detached it is. (Sorry about the italics, I hit a button and can't figure out how to take it off.) I think our media's out of touch as well and that it's, as Chris Hedges pointed out, the death of the liberal class.
I wonder how much more we can suffer through and how much longer the press and the government can deny the very real suffering before the whole house of cards tumbles down?
I think there is less trust in the institutions today than ever before and that's because, time and again, we've seen them lie. You can only suffer through that for so long.
And that's true of our 'friends' like Amy Goodman, et al. They're just whoring for empire and part of the system as well. That becomes ever more obvious with each passing day.
When I read his book, Death Of The Liberal Class, I thought he made an interesting argument and that a great many of his calls were probably true. I did not, however, feel that it truly was the end. Now I really do. It's as if all the false-fronts have gone transparent.
If you haven't read that book, I really encourage you to do so. It's a really important one.
I'm sure it will end up making the series we're doing at Third.
We're in the process of picking the ten most important books of the last ten years.
The picks so far are "Shirley MacLaine's I'm Over All That," "CCR's Articles of Impeachment Against Bush," "Manal M. Omar's Barefoot in Baghdad," "Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream," "Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's Courting Justice," "Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and "Tori's Piece by Piece." The rules are (yeah! no more italics!) that it has to be published between 2001 through 2011. It's also got to be non-fiction. And it has to have been published no later than July 2011. Why? Does the book offer something?
To make sure it truly is one of the ten, we don't want to be overwhelmed by our first read and, a year from now, think, "I should have given that more thought."
It's a group process. And actually, this is something that Elaine, C.I. and I came up with. We were going to do it at our sites. But one weekend, there ended up being a hole at Third in terms of the planned topics so we shopped it over there. Our list was going to be more than ten.
To do it with Third, we really do need to reduce it to ten. There is a lot of lobbying, advocating, arguing, etc. to come to an agreement on why a book should be on the list. We realize that everyone that makes it means one less spot is open.
There are three now. I think Chris Hedges will make the list. There are books I'm not sure about. Again, Elaine, C.I. and I made a much, much longer list.
On the topic of books, please read "Trapped in an AA meeting with Judy Collins (Ava and C.I.)" -- that's Ava and C.I.'s epic review of Judy Collins latest (fourth) autobiography.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):