Can Democracy in America Be Saved?

alex atkins bookshelf culture“The four catastrophes Martin Luther King Jr warned us about — militarism (in Asia, Africa and the Middle East), poverty (at record levels), materialism (with narcissistic addictions to money, fame, and spectacle) and racism (against black and indigenous people, Muslims, Jews and non-white immigrants) — have laid bare the organized hatred, greed, and corruption in the country….

The fundamental question at this moment is: can this failed social experiment be reformed? The political duopoly of [a Republican and Democratic party] — in no way equivalent, yet both beholden to Wall Street and the Pentagon — are symptoms of a decadent leadership class. The weakness of the labor movement and the present difficulty of the radical left to unite around a nonviolent revolutionary project of democratic sharing and redistribution of power, wealth and respect are signs of a society unable to regenerate the best of its past and present. Any society that refuses to eliminate or attenuate dilapidated housing, decrepit school systems, mass incarceration, massive unemployment and underemployment, inadequate healthcare, and its violations of rights and liberties is undesirable and unsustainable.

Yet the magnificent moral courage and spiritual sensitivity of the multiracial response to the police killing of George Floyd that now spills over into a political resistance to the legalized looting of Wall Street greed, the plundering of the planet and the degradation of women and LGBTQ+ peoples means we are still fighting regardless of the odds. 

If radical democracy dies in America, let it be said of us that we gave our all-and-all as the boots of American fascism tried to crush our necks.”

From the essay “A Boot is Crushing the Neck of American Democracy” by Cornel West, American professor, philosopher, and civil rights activist.

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