Opening Old Eyes

March 10, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Society, Web

Talking with Left activist and organizer friends, I would conclude that there seems little awareness of the deep structural societal changes underway.  Much of the Left expects more of the same.  In the 1960s, many of us had the experience of participating in a profound cultural transformation.  Most of the folks I know now don’t see or feel what we experienced then as happening now.  It is astonishing how deeply the Left has been purged of vision and optimism by the free market free-for-all of the last thirty years.  Our youth are not burdened in this way.

Perhaps part of this is due to the split between the practical and the spiritual.  Since the 60s, folks I know either stayed politically active or drifted off in New Age directions.  Not too many friends maintained a position in both worlds.  A re-embracing of the two polarities would be useful going forward.  Practical spirituality or spiritual pragmatism would be a boon to the Left right now, a Left seemingly unable to intuit a politic that can experience destruction and positive transformation as closely tied.

Since the 1960s, there has been a remarkable surge in secular spiritualism with yoga, martial arts, alternative medical interventions (i.e., acupuncture), pathways of personal transformations and meditation having become integrated into American culture.  There is an ideational infrastructure available for a reverence-for-the-commons point of view.  Most of my political friends aren’t seeing it.

It would be interesting to be able to track the speed, geographic span, degrees of separation and number of participants in the various Facebook campaigns proliferating across the web.  Some are social, some political, some difficult to categorize.  I expect hybrids will soon emerge that have spiritual connotations.  As participants seek a repetition of the experience of feeling part of something larger than themselves, experiences emerging as a result of spontaneous large gatherings of friends and strangers, a new form of worship will evolve.  I doubt it will be called worship and I doubt it will be associated with religion.  Regardless, it will offer people the bonuses of congregation without the us vs. them mythology.

The economy is crashing.  Along with it is American reverence for the dollar.  To see what will emerge as the new focus, we’ve only to look back to the 1960s.  That is when the door to societal alternatives blew open.  To understand how those winds will change us now, observe our youth.


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