We’re living through a crisis on a scale that advanced capitalist countries haven’t faced since the Great Depression. We’re in a unique and troubling moment in US and world history. Four gathering crises—climate, economic, geopolitical, and migratory—are often discussed as discrete phenomena, when they are in fact deeply interconnected. By precipitating disaster on multiple fronts, the forces of organized capital limit our ability to marshall government in response to another, more fundamental, crisis—a crisis in democracy.
Meanwhile, white supremacist forces have been taking advantage of growing insecurity and ramping up their rhetoric of hate to harness fear for political gain. They have invested deeply in popular education and aggressive training. Turning Point USA, Proud Boys, and Blexit—they have developed infrastructure to recruit people into their ideological home. We got a taste of their power in another historic American tragedy during the January 6th insurrection at the US Capitol. Dog whistle appeals to bigotry continue to prevent natural alliances between working families of all races, religions, and backgrounds.
We must outperform the forces of greed and authoritarianism and build infrastructure to demand a multiracial democracy that matches and surpasses their formidable power.
Everyday life and stability for working women and families, and especially people of color in those categories, are more precarious today than they have been in generations. Student debt is sky-high, wages are suppressed as profits surge, the tax structure is an abject scam for the wealthy, pro-worker legal/political institutions face erosion, and healthcare is increasingly inaccessible and unaffordable—run for profit rather than for care. Intersecting crises overwhelm and divide people along lines of race, class, gender, and more. Working class, feminist, and racial justice movements are treated as unreasonable for seeking human rights that already commonly exist abroad. But when corporations face risk, the US government knows no limits propping up their owners. The pandemic and economic crisis have worsened these realities, leaving those most vulnerable with less. Getting through this moment is one thing. Building for resiliency beyond it is another.
Resiliency will in part come from making immediate material changes in working people’s lives, but that alone isn’t enough. Each year, the rules and realities of our democratic institutions skew more and more toward representing land over people, older rural whites over people of color and young people in cities, and capital over constituent needs. We must strive toward the dream of a genuine multiracial democracy that reflects the desires and needs of our communities. And meeting those needs will mean expanding the limits of what’s currently considered possible—both in government and in the hearts and minds of the people who desperately need bold ideas and bolder action.
This isn’t something that can be achieved within the halls of power alone; the change will also be driven from the outside. That is why, now more than ever, investing in mass organizing at scale is crucial. It will take more than multi-organizational base building alone; it will take a leaderful movement with the tools and infrastructure to get things done while expanding its own representation and reach.