Thursday, July 12, 2012

The End of History

“Unless we take agency and action in making history, it’s hard to know what’s going on.” - Rich Feldman (Paraphrase) Last night I had dinner with my Ann Arbor family and six of my friends. My father is a constant reminder of how essential history is for the {r}evolution of humanity. As we sat around the table he told my own history, both flattering and unflattering portions. The truth is that without my family there are huge parts of my life that I would have no clue about because my age had not allowed me to process it. And this sense of history and identity extends far beyond me, as my father also is a genealogist and is frequently reminding me of my lineage, helping me to trace where I come from and in so doing helping me to see where I need to go. Wednesday I spent time with the Detroit historian Rich Feldman. One of the questions that has been asked several times in our time here in Detroit is, “What time is it on the clock of the world?” Standing at the now defunct Packard Plant with Rich, he pointed it out where Detroit stands on that clock. He traces this current period of time in a 500 year swath, and he marks it’s beginning in a number of different ways which are: 1) The transatlantic slave trade 2) The rise of individualism 3) The turning of the EARTH into LAND, from protecting the planet to exploiting it and exchanging it for profit 4) The turning of WORK for our community into JOBS for corporations 5) The destruction of women’s way of knowing and the earth’s way of knowing and replacing it with the dominance of “experts” 6) The earth being used and abused for economic advancement Rich confronted what has become an assumed truth in our society, that knowledge is power, and spoke about how indeed it is this belief that has led us to ignore the education of our hearts and our souls and has led us to this current economic system that is almost completely devoid of any moral accountability. Perhaps there is nowhere in America that that is clearer than in Detroit, perhaps and perhaps there is nowhere in America that we can see so clearly that this 500 year period is coming to an end and is no longer working than in the Rust Belt. To prove this point Rich spoke extensively about the writings and teachings of Jimmy Boggs, the late husband of Grace Lee Boggs. Jimmy saw the ending of the age in a number of ways: First in the end of the labor movement and the rise of civil rights, because the agribusiness was overcome by the industrial revolution and then the factories of the cities that drew so many people from their farms began to move out into the suburbs, disenfranchising those who were already in many ways disenfranchised; Christopher, mi hermano in {r}evolution pointed out to me that the second big vision of Jimmy was the rise of the underclass/outsider class being replaced by robotics, where workers were no longer needed, there is an excess of human beings, 2.3 million prisoners, and super unemployment, something else that we must overstand is that the U.S. isn’t just a part of the evil empire of the New Age, but that after World War II it becomes The World Super Power, and that perhaps this was the plan all along, to bomb the hell out of Europe and Japan so that we could dominate the world market, which we had for about 35 years, sending our energy cartels all over the world to control the oil and gas market); third Jimmy pointed out that this movement is not just about socialism, but about how to use our technological knowledge for the advancement of humanity rather than for economic dominance and profitability. The question is always, how do we become engaged citizens rather than just consumers and producers? So here we are, in this world where there are at least a billion unemployed human beings, where there is a completely disenfranchised underclass of people, like those in our prison systems and those who get out of it and become returned citizens, where energy cartels are trying to run things, and where the empire is trying to convince us that unions, who Rich tells us have the responsibility to be a part of our much needed social transformation, and I’m trying to place myself on the clock of the world. I live in Oakland, I’m from Philly, and right now I’m checking out Detroit, and as I look around at what our cities are trying to do, it seems to me that all of our money seems to be going into civic centers, stadiums, condominiums, trying to build up our cities for big business like we were trying to build up our factories for big business 500 years ago. One of the most chilling things that I heard from Rich was that Detroit used to be the 6th or 7th largest city in America, that’s what number Philadelphia is today. So when Rich asks what will the world look like 107 years from now, tracking this past 107 year cycle in Detroit, we must all start asking ourselves if we will be living in the ruins of a condo world or in the green from the sweat of a new American {r}evolution. I know which path I want to choose, do you? One love, Tai Amri (aka Baby Pastor)

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