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It’s Time to Talk to Strangers Part 3 of 3

— January 20, 2016

The rulers of the earth are now gathered to determine our fate. It should be abundantly clear to anyone in America who has been paying attention for the past fifteen years that no one in Davos, Switzerland, has our best interests in mind. One need not subscribe to any implausible conspiracy theory to recognize the plain fact that the most powerful people in the world are primarily concerned with maintaining and, if possible, increasing their power. Nor to understand that this happens at our expense. As the owners of the planet have shrunk in number, those whom writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth” have risen in number.

As the U.S. empire pursues its geopolitical goals, whole cities in Syria are laid waste. Syrian families flee the carnage, travel desperately to Europe in search of safety and are met with a Europe we have not seen since the swastika flew above its cities. They travel to Germany, whose press clamors for a “strong state” and whose Luftwaffe has departed for Syria. They travel to France, where women are obliged by law to remove their hijab, and where freedom of speech and of assembly have been revoked indefinitely. A few travel to the United States where the rhetoric of popular politicians demonizes and dehumanizes them. And here, in the crumbling seat of empire, we are watched and listened to by the most elaborate surveillance and security state ever devised. To that state you and I are potential terrorists.

It is possible that what follows this year’s World Economic Forum will be world war. With nation-states facing desperate economic times, with increasingly agitated domestic populations, many nations’ leaders may decide to give war a chance—a chance to stimulate economic productivity (arms production paid for with tax money), a chance to gain economic spoils, and a chance to divert and preoccupy the population. One nation that seems bent on such a course is the United States. From the Balkans to the Turkish border, from Syria to the South China Sea, the rulers of the U.S. have begun a game of brinkmanship almost breathtaking in its reckless belligerence toward Russia and China, two nuclear powers.

At Davos, on Wall Street, in Washington, conversations are taking place that intend us no good. At the very least, they are conversations in which we have no say. No say over the use of natural resources, no say over our health care system, no say over the mysterious “economy” that dictates our lives and the lives of our children, no say in where our rulers send their warships.

What can we do? Let’s find out.

What I do know is that we have to get people talking to each other about this mess we are all in. We have to tap the wisdom and the ability, the energy and wonder of each other. It is not easy to begin such conversations. It is embarrassing. We are taught that it is impolite to talk about “politics” and that it is a bad idea generally to talk to “strangers.” But that is exactly what we have to do. The canned political discourse of presidential candidates and the corporate media (also represented at Davos) do not speak for us. We must take the challenge upon ourselves.

What I propose is this. Post a flyer in the grocery store, at your coffee shop, in the library, on the light poles downtown. Use the internet, not just as a place to express your thoughts but as a tool for organizing, for planning face-to-face meetings. Invite people to come and talk about the economy and the corporate control of our lives. About war. About the unconstitutional electronic surveillance that monitors us all. Word it any way you think best (one flyer I posted invited the public to celebrate the life of the Bill of Rights). But make it clear that you want to listen. That you think people need to begin talking before we will start to find answers.

We cannot go to Davos. But the time has come for us to introduce ourselves and to start making our own plans for the future.

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