I was in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania in 1989 during the revolutions, or in the case of Romania an interparty putsch. These revolutions were spontaneous outbursts by an enraged population that had had enough of communist repression, mismanagement and corruption. No one, from the dissidents themselves to the ruling communist parties, anticipated these revolts. They erupted, as all revolutions do, from tinder that had been waiting years for a spark.
Julien Benda reminds us that we can serve two sets of principles. Privilege and power or justice and truth. The more we make compromises with those who serve privilege and power the more we diminish the capacity for justice and truth. Our strength comes from our steadfastness to justice and truth, a steadfastness that accepts that the corporate forces arrayed against us may crush us, but that the more we make compromises with those whose ends are privilege and power the more we diminish our capacity to effect change.
We cannot betray the ideal of a popular democracy by pretending this contrived political theater is free or fair or democratic. We cannot play their game. We cannot play by their rules. Our job is not to accommodate the corporate state. Our job is to destroy it. “We think we are the doctors,” Alexander Herzen told anarchists of another era. “We are the disease.”
The state seeks to control us through fear, propaganda, wholesale surveillance and violence. This is the only form of social control it has left. The lie of neoliberalism has been exposed. Its credibility has imploded. The moment we cease being afraid, the moment we use our collective strength as I saw in Eastern Europe in 1989 to make the rulers afraid of us, is the moment of the system’s downfall.
We may not succeed. So be it. At least those who come after us, and I speak as a father, will say we tried. The corporate forces that have us in their death grip will destroy our lives. They will destroy the lives of my children. They will destroy the lives of your children. They will destroy the ecosystem that makes life possible. We owe it to those who come after us not to be complicit in this evil. We owe it to them to refuse to be good Germans. I do not, in the end, fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.