You told me what we needed to get the Revolution started was to “shake things up.” To break up the effectiveness and power and steadying, even deadening lock that the mechanisms of party politics exerted over government. You told me that this was the age of the people, who would finally take over from the elites and the centuries-long arc toward globalization, centralization, and systemization that had throttled true solidarity, true hope, true progress.
I told you that you had no idea what you were dealing with. That the reactionary, authoritarian instinct in America was older, wider, fiercer, more ruthless than you imagined it to be. I told you that the norms and institutions of liberal democracy might create a weighty drag of inertia, but that we needed them, because we were very, very far from solidarity, and putting the breaks on visionary sentiment was an acceptable price to pay for putting the brakes on fascism.
I told you, explicitly and implicitly, that I didn’t trust you to come through. That the history of leftist youth movements has not been confidence-inspiring. That your unwillingness to master the mechanisms of politics didn’t strike me as pure-hearted, but lazy. I told you that you wanted to shop online for a revolution, that you wanted it packaged and delivered and customized for your preferences without putting in the time to prove to members of your potential coalition that they could trust your promises.
The truth is that I don’t know anything. The truth is I don’t know if any of us do. I thought I was putting my faith in a deep grasp of history and the implacable power of statistics and fact. The truth is that as terribly cynical as I am, I was either not cynical enough – or too cynical by far – or something else entirely. The truth is that I don’t know the way forward, in an age of rogue federal police forces and electronic espionage, in an age of propaganda machines ascending while journalists are criminalized, in an age of legalized torture and abandoned treaties and a landscape of storms and fire.
I’m left hoping that I was wrong about you, too.
This is the shake-up. This is the dark doorway to a future none of us can see. The day is here, the hour is here. Are you ready for this? Do you have a plan?
I love you; you’ve always been my family. I thought you needed my experience to guide you, but my experience is no guide. I’m lost.
The day is here, the hour is here. I love you, but I’ve never trusted you. Now I have no choice.
This is not a challenge. This is not a dare. This is me, lost, on my knees in prayer.Prove me wrong.