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Want democratic institutions to hold? Stop pretending there’s a “campaign Trump” and prepare to fight an autocrat

Nov12

by: on November 12th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

The following refrain has been heard repeatedly since the course of American history forever shifted on Tuesday night: Maybe President Trump will be different than candidate Trump.

It’s a refrain which has been uttered by pundits, politicians, NBA commentators and everyday Americans hoping that Trump’s fascist rhetoric was nothing more than a vote-whipping device. It’s a refrain which has been repeated by those who believe the dignity of the office of the presidency, indeed the Oval Office itself, somehow has the power to humble and shape those who hold it. It’s also a refrain which has been spoken by those who never believed Trump could win the presidency in the first place.

Many of those who were living in a fantasy world before Trump’s victory are now doing so after it, assuming that things will be okay. That everything will work out. That those authoritarian words spoken during a campaign cannot possibly reflect the man’s true intentions.

This is a grave mistake, and is precisely how fascism takes root.

We must come to understand that things are not necessarily going to be okay. And I’m not talking about domestic policy, which will see a disastrous unraveling as healthcare, environmental regulations, LGBTQ rights, immigration policies and more crumble. Nor am I talking about foreign policy, which will see alliances strained, diplomatic agreements gutted and global anti-democratic institutions emboldened. Nor am I talking about the Supreme Court, which will soon be lurching wildly to the right.

I’m talking about constitutional democracy itself, both those institutions established and those rights enshrined.

This is serious. Our country isn’t just facing an existential crisis, it’s facing a constitutional crisis as well. “Campaign” Trump expressed a desire to weaken our democratic institutions and then target the vulnerable. Do not assume he was being insincere, that he was just seeking votes.

Believe him. Believe every word he’s uttered.

  • Believe that president-elect Trump wants to institute a national stop-and-frisk targeting minority populations, giving police the ability to interrogate and search black and brown people at will.
  • Believe that president-elect Trump wants a deportation force to round up millions as immigration legislation is gutted, leaving children and families vulnerable.
  • Believe that president-elect Trump wants to ban Muslims from this country and seal off our borders completely.
  • Believe that president-elect Trump wants to torture people and do things which are in his own words “unthinkable.”
  • Believe that president-elect Trump wants to punish women who get an abortion and medical professionals who perform them.
  • Believe that president-elect Trump wants to limit press freedoms by cutting off access to reporters, threatening those who critique him and weakening their right to anonymous sourcing.


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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: Two Figures in a Derailed World

Nov11

by: Dieter Duhm on November 11th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – truly two representatives of a derailed world. Both hold up a mirror to our current society. One spoke for the establishment; the other for people’s rage against the establishment. Rage prevailed, yet both represent the exact same system, just from two different angles. The fact that Trump won, taking into account all the outrageous things he said, shows what kind of turbulent revolt arises among large parts of the American population. It is the revolt of people who feel betrayed by an unfathomable system and who call for, as so often already, a strong leader. Thus the unrestrained demagogue gets on stage, calling for restoring the nation, for security and unity, and the common fight against all those who could disturb this unity.Sorry to say, what comes together here is something we have already once seen in the collective insanity under Hitler. But things will not go so far this time because there is neither a concept nor a political vision behind all these “tremendous” words. Through the grotesque victory of this megalomaniac player, a movement for freedom could arise in the United States, one which strives for new objectives beyond the existing parties. In addition, positive counter-powers rise up across the globe – these are the ones that will set the course of things on a new track.

Both ways, the one of Trump and Clinton alike, aim toward a deeply inhumane world; both generate unspeakably many victims. The emotional substratum Donald Trump activates is directed against all those of another race, religion or sexual identity. This is self-protection by way of exterminating others. Hillary Clinton pursues the policies of the political class, of calculated globalization, in collaboration with the international dictatorship of financial power, generating victims in all parts of the planet that are subdued by this globalization. This is the self-protection of the dominating system through market strategies and military force.

Donald Trump has alleviated the souls of his audience by granting them permission to think the thoughts they anyway do. It has been a fundamental feature throughout human history that people come to power who are able to mobilize the subliminal “mass psychology of fascism” as Wilhelm Reich called it – this hunger for unity under a powerful ruler. This story has been repeating for millennia and will continue repeating until we put an end to it.

Humanityneeds a new life order with a new vision of leadership and unity. What is meant is not external leadership,but leadership coming from within. It is not the unity proclaimed through banners and election slogans, but the inner unity of people who coexist in trust to assist fellow beings and serve the Earth. We refer to the unity in the natural connectedness with the great family of life – in the self-evident empathy, love and solidarity that immediately come into being when we reach the basis of trust, mutual acceptance and truth. This is the foundation for a life in love, power and health. Another kind of society will arise from this fundament, no longer based on power and capital, but on the truth within human relations. And if our estimate is right, this society will be compatible with the higher order of life, which we call the “Sacred Matrix.” This movement will give rise to many new centers, birthplaces of a new planetary community.

We need to get there, otherwise we will content ourselves with substitutive solutions that regularly lead to catastrophes. As humanity we have long worked with these substitutions. We have set up ideological, political, religious and moral systems intending to secure a fulfilled existence for ourselves. Yet now we are collectively facing the edge of abyss. The era of these substitutions has come to an end. Fascism was a substitution; capitalism was a substitution; the ideas of power and obedience, of autocracy and democracy were a substitution; the Catholic Church was a substitution; the mystic paths all the way to Nirvana were a substitution. The Chosen People, all the smaller and bigger empires, all gods were a substitution; and renouncing all gods and teaching materialistic nihilism was a substitution too. Today, we need another solution on a different social, interpersonal, ethical and spiritual foundation. We need a solution based on truth among real people, above all between the genders, man and woman, because this is the realm that has been most terribly destroyed by the violence of patriarchal history.

In other words, if we want to end the worldwide injustice and the unspeakable suffering of humanity and the animal kingdom, we need to base the entire civilization of this planet on another foundation. Neither Trump nor Clinton will assist us here; what is required is a fundamental correction of our civilization and a new vision for inhabiting our planet. I know this sounds out of touch with reality, but it is inevitable and can clearly be done. If there is the vision of a humane existence on Earth it can also be realized. All people are made of the same matter. It is not just fantasy when we see the ONE, which is the same in everyone, within ourselves and all fellow citizens of this planet. We all come from the same universe, are reached by the same sun and have all come to this world from between the enormous legs of our Great Mother. We all share the same longing for love and peace. We all are happy about the friendliness of our alleged opponents – and we all would be able to make this friendliness our guiding orientation, could we let go of old, negative forces. For example in Colombia -it is clear that there are the same souls, the same young people, the same hopes and goals in both conflicting parties. It is clear that there is a potential friendship behind this cruel hostility. Isn’t it also clear that there is an original love even behind the fiercest relationship crises, that which has once brought the two together? Likewise, there is another possibility of existence behind the entire massacre of this world, which we recognize when we are not entangled in conflicts. We can understand what love is, how to follow its rules and what a global community of love could look like. We can also see the social, ecological and ethical preconditions needed to make it happen. These preconditions give rise to a new concept of coexistence among people, as well as between people and animals, people and nature. This is what we call the “Global Healing Biotopes Project.” Slowly spreading, the project works to create a new global field stronger than all violence. We do not tolerate any cruelty on this planet.

[This article also appeared on Films For Action]

Dieter Duhm, born 1942 in Berlin, is a psychoanalyst, sociologist, author of many books, visionary of the Healing Biotopes Plan, and co-founder of the Tamera Peace Research Center in Portugal. Further reading: Duhm, Dieter: Terra Nova: Global Revolution and the Healing of Love, Verlag Meiga, 2015

A Nation, Divided, with Liberty and Justice for the Few

Nov10

by: on November 10th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

I am one of the few people who predicted (not in writing) that Donald Trump would be the 45th president of the US since early in 2016, at a time when everyone else said it was just plain impossible, providing a long list of facts and figures that proved, for them, that there was no way under the sun that he would be elected.

Back in April, I wrote a piece called “What Will We Do if Trump Is the Next President?” In that piece, I talked about things from the distance of not knowing. I wanted to be prepared. I still stand behind everything I said then, and yet now it’s the morning after, and I am directly in the reality I was only imagining back in April. So I am shocked, truly shocked, even as I am not surprised.

I am shocked, because I consider Donald Trump’s election as perilous for humanity through actions and policies that are distinctly unpredictable, as everything is about him. In this context, I experience a need to reorient myself in a profound way, and that’s what the shock is about: as much as I have been critical of the status quo, and as much as I believed that we were already marching towards more and more destruction, it was familiar. A Hillary Clinton presidency, from my perspective, would have been more of the same. It would have allowed me to continue to live my life and do my work with some lull, some small and subtle denial of the global situation we are facing. With Donald Trump being elected, that luxury is no longer possible.

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With a heavy heart . . . and then . . .

Nov9

by: on November 9th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

I’m trying to pick myself up since the election results came in and finding it extremely difficult. While I thought Trump would win, the actual experience of it is altogether different. I have been in shock and like so many of you have been trying to do what needs to be done and yet have not been as able to be as fully present as I would like. So I have largely been silent. Yet slowly, very slowly, I am finding my voice.

And I want to share a few thoughts.

First, please, please take as much time as you need to come back to your highest, most centered self. It will be impossible to heal, repair and transform our world, if we do not deal with our own shock, rage, and grief. We must, each of us in our own way, take the time we need to come home to ourselves. What is it that nurtures you? Who helps you be your highest self? Who provides you unconditional love? Who makes you laugh? Where do you go when you need to grieve? What offers you the greatest solace? Take the time to love and nurture yourself. Offer love and nurturing to others.

Second, when I think of the movements that inspire me, I think of all the nonviolent movements over history. Movements steeped in deep and rich spiritual traditions of refusing to see the ‘other’ as your enemy, refusing to demonize, refusing to pick up arms, refusing to close one’s heart. Where people somehow, often miraculously so, stood in the face of tanks, guns, violent attacks on their bodies, and forces far greater than they to insist on the power of love over the love of power, the power of truth over the power of hate, the power of compassion over the power of fear. We see this today in Standing Rock. This is the path forward. We must refuse to demonize and hate and instead need to dig deep, very deep, to the core of our being – our beating hearts – to find a depth of love and fortitude that perhaps we did not know resided within us.

Third, and from that place we need to organize. I have created a four-session training that addresses the psycho-spiritual suffering that people experience in their lives and in our society. It has modules with readings, recordings, and exercises that provide the tools and skills you need to build a local NSP (Network of Spiritual Progressives) group and be a spiritual change agent. If you are interested in receiving the training, please email me at  cat@spiritualprogressives.org. We need to find a way to love each other across our differences – to see the humanity in each and every person. To see each other’s brokenness and imperfections not as fundamental flaws, but as scars and wounds that have been inflicted upon each of us through a history of missed connections, misunderstandings, parental projections of pain, and societal structures and systems that fail to see our value beyond our capacity to produce and consume. This training does that and so much more. It provides a framework for understanding the psycho-spiritual crisis in our society and the tools to help others understand it, as well as giving concrete visionary proposals that if adopted would create meaningful and lasting change. Join our efforts.

Fourth, we need to recognize, and this may be the hardest of all, that simply doing the inner work on oneself without simultaneously engaging in societal transformation to heal, repair, and transform the world is a fool’s errand. The two are intricately connected. We will not attain the spiritual depth, connection, and wholeness we seek unless the world changes and the world will not change without us changing. They go hand-in-hand.

If this speaks to you, please consider supporting  our work, not only with your dollars, but also with your time and energy. Contact me (cat@spiritualprogressives.org) to get involved. Come to our conference  this weekend or watch it on livestream (www.tikkun.org/30thcelebration).

This is the time my friends. We are in this together. We, atTikkunand the Network of Spiritual Progressives, are doing the work that, if embraced, really could heal, repair, and transform our world – work that is now even more desperately needed than we thought previously. We will not be silenced. We will continue to speak truth to power. We will continue to bring our fullest selves with our loving, broken, scared hearts and provide the spiritual guidance, compassion, and fierce truths that have inspired people for the past 30 years. Won’t you join us?

With a very heavy heart,

~ Cat

The Day After Election Day

Nov9

by: on November 9th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Now we know the face of the United States of America: Donald Trump.

Trump has been elected to serve as the 45th president of the United States. The president is not only chief executive and commander-in-chief of the military, the president is both the head of government and the head of state. To be the head of state means that this person represents the United States in his or her person.

As of this writing, Secretary Hillary Clinton received more votes than Trump, meaning more Americans wanted her to represent the nation to history and to the world, but Trump won the Electoral College math. So, here we are.

Not only did voters make Donald Trump our next president, but they gave the Republican Party majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Grand Obstructionist Party will interpret these results to mean that obstructionism works. However, I would like to take a moment to warn the leaders of the GOP.

Now you have to deliver.

In the first two years of his first term, President Obama, working with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, made significant progress for this country. His policies brought the country out of the great recession, saved the auto industry, put consumer protections in place and passed the Affordable Care Act which gave health insurance coverage to millions of Americans.

Donald Trump was elected because his voters want jobs. They believe his promise so much so that they are willing to overlook his erratic behavior. Never mind his “locker room talk” and the women who say that he made unwanted sexual advances.Never mind his failure to release his tax returns saying not paying taxes is smart. Never mind his treatment of the Khan family, the moment in this election that I thought would sink his candidacy. I was wrong. Never mind his characterization of African-American communities as horrible, dangerous places; never mind his characterization of undocumented workers as murders and rapists. The list goes on.

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Old Glory (What would Emma Lazarus say?)

Nov9

by: Moira Trachtenberg-Thielking on November 9th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

 

Old Glory
(What would Emma Lazarus say?)

The dawn’s early light
is late, dim and damp,
a wrung-out dishrag gray.
Oh say,
can you see?

Only the faintest wake
disturbs the harbor,
the needy turned away.
With vitriol trumping vision,
what would Emma Lazarus say?
(Speak, winds!)

Lady Liberty is seeing Red,
if that means raw or burned,
White, if that means pale and aquiver
Blue, if that means wretched and lost
in a dark field seeking stars.

What would Emma Lazarus say
to the Republic, for which it stands?

Stripes are not meant to be bars.
Look at the spaces between,
find the wideness in the narrow.
Do not silence the voice of reason.
Do not sentence Socrates twice to death
because he dared question the Republic.

What would Emma Lazarus say,
lamp sputtering,
locked outside the golden door
beside a befuddled mass
of the homeless
and orient-less poor?

Oh say, can you see
one Nation, under God, indivisible?
Oh say, can you see
Lady Liberty, invisible, steeped in fog?

What, Nation, have you repatriated
the Mother of Exiles?
Have you chosen to be
Colossus, after all?

And if you are so brazen,
Nation, so outsized,
how long do you expect to stand,
one leg kicking the other
until you topple?

Open the floodgate and
stow your fears,
relearn the art of the sextant
or suffer the fate of the ship of fools.

Let Liberty be your wide sea,
Justice the wind in your sails.

 Until we are all free,
we are none of us free.
(When will this be?)

Oh, sea, can you say?
Oh beautiful.
Oh spacious skies.
Oh glory. Say it. Oh!

__

Moira Trachtenberg-Thielking is President ofThe Katonah Poetry SeriesExecutive Committee in Katonah, NY. Her poetry has been published in theKyoto Journal and CHEST,and has most recently won the 2015 Carve magazine Premium Edition Contest in Poetry (Spring 2016 issue). She is currently participating in the Writing the Walls II ekphrastic poetry project at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and her poetry has also been performed at theEmotive Fruition theater collaborative in New York City. She holds an MFA from the NYU CreativeWriting program in Fiction.

Trump Republican Supremacists

Nov8

by: Lev Grinberg on November 8th, 2016 | No Comments »

One of the most intriguing questions about this election is why the Republican establishment supports Donald Trump.

Not why the masses of white Americans do it, this is pretty obvious. Settlers want the new lands for themselves – they build a new society, culture, and State for themselves. They displace, dispossess, and kill, if necessary, local inhabitants, and when they need workers they encourage immigration, sometimes forced, like the African slaves. Their problem is “demography,” when migrants become the majority and “take” their country. The white support of Trump is a typical attitude of settlers: they want “their” country back to the old days. We know this attitude in Israel very well, it is the discourse of the “white left.” In the U.S., the hostility to migrants is exacerbated by the neoliberal globalization aiming to weaken workers by “free labor market” competition, and by the import of cheap products fueled by “free trade” treaties.

The question is not so much to understand voters’ motivations, but instead why the Republican establishment supported him despite the fact he was apparently destroying their chances to win elections. They know that the Democratic coalition consolidated by Obama in 2008 – composed by all the so-called “colored” citizens and non-supremacist white citizens – is a constantly growing majority. The only way for the Republicans to win against this coalition is to build some type of coalition with other groups, mainly Latinos, whom they may be tempted to consider white, too. But Trump was destroying the bridges to the organized Latino communities.


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Election Day 2016

Nov8

by: on November 8th, 2016 | No Comments »

“It’s really something every two years we get to overthrow the government.” Aaron Sorkin through Amy Gardner, a character on “The West Wing”

Election Day is the day We the People take our power back.

(It ought to be a national holiday, but that is another essay.)

It is easy to feel powerless in this world. We watch our Congress engage in unprecedented obstruction, and it seems there is nothing we can do about it. For the better part of a year, the Supreme Court of the United States has functioned with only eight members because Republicans in the senate decided to ignore their constitutional responsibility and refused to give President Obama’s nominee to the high court either a hearing or a vote. It does not matter to them that President Obama was elected to a four-year term and that it is his constitutional duty to nominate justices to the court. They claim they have the right not to give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing or a vote because of their fidelity to the voters who elected them.


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We Need a Revolution: Overcoming Fascism with a Movement of Love

Nov8

by: Martin Winiecki on November 8th, 2016 | No Comments »

November 9th, the day after the U.S. election, will be a peculiar anniversary. On this day in 1938, more than 1000 synagogues and 7000 Jewish businesses were burning all over Germany, set ablaze by Nazis. Going down in history as “Kristallnacht” or the “Night of Broken Glass,” this dreadful event marked the beginning of the Holocaust, resulting in six million Jews killed in less than seven years.

History reverberates in an eerie manner these days. In the United States, the anger and hatred that has long been boiling in millions of people has now found its political outlet.

No matter whether or not he will be elected president, Trump’s success has been unprecedented and overwhelming. His simple message resonates in large parts of American society, in people who have long felt betrayed, abused, and disenfranchised by an alienated ‘establishment.’ Trump wins against all reasoning of decency because he recklessly breaks what his supporters most despise: ‘political correctness.’ He understands how to play the emotional piano of the masses; he’s the ultimate caricature of a society teeming with universal corruption and sexual perversion.


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Donald Trump: The Picture of the GOP

Nov7

by: on November 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

In the Oscar Wilde novel – “The Picture of Dorian Gray” – a young handsome man looks upon a portrait of himself and wishes that the picture would grow old instead of himself. Mystery grants his wish, and he never grows old. Not only does his face never reflect the corruption of aging, but the physical effects of his sins show only on the picture. His cruelties, debaucheries, depravities, vulgarities, and even murder turn what once was a representation of youth and beauty into an ugly grotesquery, a witness to his sordid monstrousness.

As this much too long presidential campaign comes to an end, I say that Donald Trump, the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, the man elected by Republican voters and half-heartedly supported by the GOP leadership, is not some stranger from a strange land that has kidnapped an innocent political party and turned it into something that it is not. I say: Trump is the Republican Party. He is the picture of the GOP that shows a party that has traded its soul for votes.

Slavery and racism are the original sins of the United States, a nation, as Lincoln says in the Gettysburg address, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” They became internal contradictions of a country that wanted to preserve both freedom and equality, both equality and property. This is especially difficult when there are millions of human beings who are neither free nor equal under the law, and, at the same time, considered to be the property of citizens. They are, according to the Constitution, counted as only three-fifths of a person.

In the 1850s, the question of the spread of slavery to territories carved from land taken from Mexico after the Mexican-American war led to protests in the North. A group of citizens from the dying Whig Party, the Democratic Party, and the Free Soil Party gathered in Ripon, Wisconsin and decided to form a new Republican Party if the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law. The founders of the party chose the name Republican to honor Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party of the 1790s. They wanted a party to promote civic virtue, to stop the spread of slavery, and to provide opportunities for small farmers and the common person.

Immigration was also an issue in the 1850s. The suspicious groups were Irish and German. Many of them were Catholics in a predominantly Protestant country. The Irish were accused of not wanting to assimilate and to become American. There was worry about their influence in the electoral process. Later, during World War I, the problem would be the loyalty to America of German-Americans and any other hyphenated groups.

The Republican Party, like every other institution in the United States, could not escape race prejudice, and it found itself having to live with its own internal contradictions. During and after the Civil War, it became a party that not only saw itself as a party for the ordinary person, but it also became identified with big business interests in the East and in the Midwest. The party of Lincoln accomplished many great things at its inception and since — the end of slavery, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments that ended slavery, provided for equal protection of the law for citizens, and guaranteed equal voting rights for men, respectively. Yet, the party that today claims to be the party of small government expanded the role of the federal government with the income tax, a national bank, a give-away of public land in the West and the transcontinental railroad.

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