The problem isnāt congressional deadlock. Amidst ever more inhuman inequality, catastrophic climate changes, new emerging forms of racial Apartheid, an end to the global decline of armed conflicts, unaccountable militarization and monopolization, the expansion of the āemergency stateā rationale, and disciplining of daily life, itās a mockery to say that our problem is that Congress cannot compromise.
Even as many Global Health Indicators suggest that suffering across the world is on the slow decline in the cases of disease and mortality, unprecedented problems of a larger scale than weāve ever faced adumbrate on the horizon: space weaponization, multipolar proxy and cold war, declining resource availability, overpopulation, proliferated nuclear threats, the manipulation of information on an historical scale, the potential of global economic and technological collapse, and levels of intrastate tension that could explode simultaneously are hinted at in every one of the current crises, all indicating a truth: more than ever before, weāre all in this together.
This account of the global situation could be criticized as apocalyptic. Ironically, this would be an indication of yet another, if not a pivotal crisis; more and more people seek to deny the current state of things as grandly perilous. Or rather, that there are particular people who deny or are ignorant of the circumstances, because there are still those who heed the warnings. The trouble is that they are all the wrong people: warlords, CEOās, radio demagogues, oligarchs, aristocrats, and even vultures-with-a-human-face like social entrepreneurs are all very aware of the raw undercurrents of desperation that manifest not only in material conditions but in the consciousnesses of large masses of despairing people; and they are mobilizing. There is no room for old leftist glee at the deterioration of the ruling classās system. The situation is nothing short of potential rapid apocalypse. Not just the āend of the worldā. We face the naturalization of an ever-moribund state of affairs, a state of war, poverty, disease, racism, and small everyday coercion, a brining of hell to earth. Today, time is not on our side. We do not face the end of life, but the beginning of living death.
Itās been said that the rising American generation will have to learn to ācompromise with the other sideā. The reasoning stems from an understanding of the American Founding, during what is remembered as the ā3/5ths Compromiseā. This event is extolled as a single moment of diplomacy that allowed for the creation of the United States, a greater good that eventually led to the end slavery. āIf only our senators could do what is best for the country and give but a little ground so that all might win a little rather than many lose all!ā is cried. Both sides levy the criticism: Democrats refer to Republicans as āthe party of ānoāā, Republicans fear Obama to be a secreted progressive militant and so neither side feels safe to move an inch because the conflict is precisely over what is ābest for the country.
This commendation of a compromise between white senators over the fate of black slaves isnāt a mockery. Itās an obscenity. This was no sacrifice by far-minded representatives but a sacrifice of a stolen and brutalized people in the name of an ideal of statehood implicitly determined to be more urgent than immediate injustice.
If the Founding Fathers had truly been the men of liberty they claimed to have been, they would have sold their new world mercantile and moved south to place themselves at the service of those whoās bodies were treated as chattel, to join a rebellion if necessary. Arguments that this would be a brash and partisan decision that would have meant the forestalling of the Founding are wrong. There is no reason that full individual engagement against tyranny and slavery could not have in the long term developed into a nation. Had this been the Founding Fatherās choice, the pride Americans could feel today in being part of an uncompromisingly free people would be justified rather than pathetically apologetic or willfully ignorant to a criminal degree.
When the American Congress fails to pass a budget, this isnāt a fault of representatives. It is the lack of imagination amongst the constituents who enable them. Those who hope to change the world mustnāt conflate cooperation towards freedom and equality with a compromise with āthe way things areā for a better day, someday. Of course discussions toward consensus will need to happen and of course compromise will be necessary between partisans but this supposedly inconcievable choice by the Fathers would have been an example of a compromise with those who have more at stake directly involved, compromises with the struggling over whoās needs must be met, not a compromise for, over, or above them.
This is not an insight for Republicans or Democrats who would make compromises from within the stale position of power they inhabit. This is for the young on whom the duty has fallen to figure out a solution. Learning to compromise your ideals is different than learning to compromise in conversation: we donāt need another generation learning to either be falsely righteous and stubborn beyond reason nor to learn to be cautious and impassionate administrators. We need a generation capable of a radical imagination, capable of the individual will to dialogue with those who face the greatest oppression and become their allies, to refuse to accept the grounds of the debate presented by those in power, a generation who will sacrifice the privileges of their upbringing to become proponents of liberty and justice everywhere by their own hand, learning skills towards this end, all through direct involvement in each issue, not through the limited capabilities of our government. It isnāt a striving toward legislation, itās an idea that we will not accept methods handed to us and instead face an unjust reality uncompromisingly.