Today, the Revolution Did Not Happen (but it May Have Started)

peaceonearthAn Argentinian Catholic, a Tibetan Buddhist, a Pakistani Muslim and an American Lesbian Talk Show Host walk into a bar.

Bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve your kind here.”

The foursome exchanges looks and replies, “Well, damn! Then who do you serve?!”

Today, the Revolution did not happen.

(But it may have started.)

Instead, injustice continued to reign because human beings allowed their self-interests to be quashed—including such basic self-interests as equitable access to education, healthcare, even shelter and food and water. Though perhaps we’ve had it when it comes to not being allowed to breathe.

Many of us allowed ourselves to be sheep-penned by the invisible American caste system. We allowed pastors and aldermen and Morning Joe talking heads and any number of other system shepherds to convince us that Jesus or Mayor Rahm, or sometimes both, want us to be on the outside looking in. It’s our destiny. If we only had more faith and less melanin and the right parents, things might be different. Ho-hum.

I don’t mean to discount the efforts of the thousands of Americans who diligently blocked Lake Shore Drive and the Brooklyn Bridge this week to protest the state-endorsed murder of Cigarette Terrorist Mastermind Eric Garner. Yet sadly, these pedestrian protest efforts weren’t enough to prevent men in Brioni suits and women in Miu Miu shoes from nibbling Sevruga caviar and collecting dividends from the spoils of the global military industrial complex, from the raping of Earth’s precious resources, from the trades of 1,001 human abuses—all perfectly legal actions, again, because we allow them to be.

By the way, this may be an embarrassing moment to remind the country that within the past month, many more of us stormed Walmart than the election polls. And so it goes.

Anyway, today the Revolution did not happen.

(But it may have started.)

Instead, Uncle Sam continued to wander the Earth in his oxidized Lady Liberty disguise: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. And if you don’t mind, in exchange, I’ll launch a few murderous drone strikes in your general direction. Oh look, there’s an innocent black child waving a plastic gun. Excuse me, be right back.”

Bang bang all over you!

For what it’s worth, Concepción Picciotto appears to be the sole person in the entire country willing to do anything for more than several days in a row about G.I. Joe’s mindless military gallivanting. (If you want to hang out with her, drive on up to Lafayette Square sometime.)

As Ms. Picciotto knows all too well, it takes a lot to drag people away from the poppy milk of their electronic devices and sport-ball addictions—their insipid boob tubes.

Maybe we need to convince everyone that the Revolution is an Ariana Grande video being filmed at their local state capitol.

By the way, even if the Progressive Revolution started today, there’s the frightening fact that there exists a multiverse of competing revolutions. Somewhere in the Interweb ether, Tea Party bloggers are publishing similar calls to action—only they’re trying to stir the masses to take up arms in defense of the Ammo Alamo. Of course, their posts doubtless will have fewer references to lady’s designer footwear.

Also, somewhere an Evangelical Nutjob is blowing the revolutionary ram’s horn hoping to establish a theocracy and call Jesus a-snowboardin’ down the clouds to tear our Little Blue Planet to pieces. Too late, we’ve already done the work for him.

All to say, the revolutionary red carpet is starting to get a little crowded. Many groups, many casks of tea.

But the Progressive Revolution has a secret weapon

Today, the Progressive Revolution did not happen.

But it may have started.

Yes, the progressive meme machine is in maximum overdrive. And people have even started to trickle into the streets.

But we need global leaders to emerge at this point.

Global leaders? Yes, because the Progressive Revolution is not one defined by geographic borders. It is in fact a revolution that begins to erase those lines. We are all citizens of this Little Blue Planet. The needs of one in Zimbabwe are no less important than the needs of one in Walla Walla. Your family member was murdered by a black drone, mine by an officer of the blue wall; and we all have a little Agent Orange in our bloodstream.

Somebody put out the bat light.

I have a dream. I have a dream that Pope Francis picks up the phone and calls the Dalai Lama and says, “Hey, meet me in Ferguson tomorrow. Bring along some friends.”

His Holiness in turn texts Malala: “Join us in Mizzou.”

Malala stops by the Big Apple on her way to St. Louis. She knocks on Rachel Maddow’s office door, “C’mon, Rach! We need you too!”

Along the way, they snag Noam Chomsky and Cornel West and Michael Moore and Leymah Gbowee and Jimmy Carter and on and on.

“Should we invite Barry?” Liu Xiaobo asks.

Pope Francis puts his finger to his chin, “Yes, but only if he promises to unplug the drones.”

And I bring cardboard cutouts of Kurt Vonnegut and Mohamed Bouazizi and stand them up at Revolution Ground Zero—the spot where Michael Brown was gunned down, where his corpse was left uncovered for all the world to see while his lifeblood seeped into the pavement.

And right on this very spot, all of these leaders of peace—none of whom see eye to eye on everything, as none ever will—join hand in hand and challenge the paramilitary powers who be to train their turrets and barrels upon them.

They open up the demonstration by kicking back with a few peace hymns—including Donny Hathaway’s version of “What’s Goin’ On.”

And then they start walking—walking to the very spot where Eric Garner was choked to death before a live studio audience. Along the way, they call on the people to join them. And from there, they walk near and far across this planet to the sites of other scenes of governmental and oligarchical abuse.

And they let it be known that they won’t stop walking until governments large and small melt down the golden calf of greed, disband the prison-profit systems, turn weapons into ploughshares. And on and on.

I’m sorry, but cameras on cops won’t cut it. The basic rights of every one of our 7 billion-plus human being neighbors is not a negotiating point. The preservation of the planet isn’t something to be taken up in committee. It’s Civilization: either you’re in or you’re out.

Today, the Progressive Revolution did not happen.

But we’re ready for it to happen.

Leaders, where are you? Convene us and guide us.


We the People of the Third Planet from the Sun

Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Malala and Rachel Maddow walk into a bar.

Bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve your kind here.”

The foursome exchanges looks and replies, “Ahem, did you see the 7.2 billion people behind us in the doorway? Now start serving cold ones.”

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!


Facebook comments

  • Gord S.

    if only…

    • Ammy Taylor

      I­­­’v­­­­­e s­­­t­­­ar­t­e­­­­d e­­­­a­­­­r­­n­­­­­i­­n­­­­g 8­­­5 d­­o­­l­­l­a­­r­­­­­­s/h­­­o­­­­­­­u­r­­­l­­y s­­­­i­­­n­­c­e i s­­­­­t­­­a­r­t­­­ed t­­­­o w­­o­­­­r­­­k o­­­n­­­l­­­i­ne h­­­­a­l­­f a y­­­e­­­­­a­r a­­­­­g­­o… M­­­­­­y j­­­o­­­­­b i­­­­s t­­­­o s­­­­­i­­­­t a­­­­t h­­­o­­­m­e f­­­o­­­­­r f­­­­­e­­­w h­­o­u­­­­r­s e­­­­­­a­­c­­­h d­­­a­­­y a­­n­­­­­d d­­­­o s­­­­i­­­­­m­p­l­e w­­­o­­r­­k i g­­­­­e­­­­t f­­­r­­­o­­­m t­­­h­­­­i­­­s c­­­­o­­m­­­­p­a­­­n­­­y t­­­­h­­­­­a­­­t i d­­­­i­­s­­­c­o­­v­e­­r­­e­d o­­­­n t­­­h­­e i­­­n­­t­e­r­­n­e­t… I a­­­­­­m v­­­e­­­r­y h­­a­­­p­­­p­­y t­­­­­­o s­­h­­­a­­r­­­e t­­­­h­­­i­­­s w­­­­o­­r­­k o­­­p­­p­­o­­r­t­­u­n­­i­t­y w­­­­i­­t­­­h y­­­­o­­­u… I­­­­­t’­­­s d­­­e­­­f­i­­n­­­e­­t­­­l­­­y t­­­­­h­­­e b­­­e­­­s­­t j­­­­o­­­­b i e­­­­­v­e­­­r h­­­­a­­­d…



    • Arik Bjorn

      We need to get the attention of the leaders. This is the now moment for them to step to the plate. It can happen, but it needs a nucleus.

  • Pipercat

    Unfortunately, Vapidware 2.0 is out early next month.

    • Arik Bjorn

      Pipercat, what would I do without you?

      • Pipercat

        In all honesty, these latest events of unchecked power have troubled me beyond my usual one-liners. My normal cynicism has been infected with a touch of trepidation.

      • Arik Bjorn

        I know what you mean. Once you take that initial step, you realize you’re “out there.” Well…STEP.

      • Gloria

        I­­­­­’­v­­­­­­e s­­­­t­­­­a­­r­­t­­e­­­­­d m­­­­a­­­k­­i­­­­n­­­­g 8­­­­­­­5 b­­­­­u­­­­c­­­­k­­s­­/­­­­­­­­h s­­­­­i­­­n­­­c­­e i s­­­­­­t­­­­a­­r­­t­­­e­d f­­­­r­­e­­­e­­­l­­­a­­n­c­­­i­­­n­­g o­­­­v­­­­e­­­­r t­­­­­h­­­­­­e i­­n­­­t­­­e­­­r­­­n­­e­­­t s­­­i­­­­x m­­­o­­n­­­­t­­­­­h­­s a­­­­­­g­­­o… W­­h­­­­­­a­­t i d­­­­­­­­o i­­­­­­s t­­­­­o s­­­­­­i­­­­­t a­­­­­t h­­­­o­­­­m­­e f­­­­o­­­­­­r f­­­­­­e­­­­w h­­­o­­u­­­­­r­­s e­­­­­­­a­­­c­­­­h d­­­­a­­­­y a­­­­n­­­d d­­­­­­­­­­o s­­i­­­m­­p­­l­­­e j­­o­­­­b­­­­s i g­­­­­­e­­­­­t f­­­­r­­­o­­­­m t­­­­h­­­­­i­­­­s c­­­­­o­­­m­­­­­p­­a­­­­n­­­­y t­­­­­h­­­­­­a­­­­t i d­­­­­i­­­s­­­c­­­o­­v­­­e­­r­­e­­d o­­­v­­­­e­­­­r t­­­­­h­­­­e i­­­n­­t­­­e­­­r­­n­­e­­t… I a­­­­­­­m v­­­­e­­­­r­­y h­­­a­­­­p­­­­p­­­y t­­­­­­­o s­­­­­h­­­a­­­­r­­­­e t­­­­­­­h­­i­­s j­­­­­­­o­­­b t­­­­­o y­­­­o­­­u… I­­­­­­t’­s a j­­­­­­o­­­b w­­­­­­o­­­r­­­t­­­h y­­­­o­­­u­­r t­­­­i­­­m­­­e

  • rossbro

    We direly need better training of police officers. Their responses to emergencies need to be helped.

    • Arik Bjorn

      And that also means raising hiring standards. And that is just a small slice of the pie. It’s a world system that has been built to support and protect those who have manhandled the resources.

    • Jim Bean

      We also need to correct the disintegration of the black family unit that has resulted from the efforts of white liberals to ‘help and nurture’ them.
      That issue is actually of greater importance.

      • Rebecca Trotter

        Well, we could start by reducing the obscene levels of stress caused by low wages, unpredictable work hours, lack of access to quality daycare, etc. Then we could provide mental health services for the estimated 40% of people (including school children) in high crime areas who show symptoms of PTSD. Then we could start apprenticeship and mentoring programs for teens so they can leave high school with marketable skill they can support themselves with. We could provide as many iud’s as possible to teen and young women until they are ready and mature enough to have kids. We could make in home nurse visits through the first year of a child’s life a standard provision as it’s been shown to vastly improve parenting skills. We could restructure our criminal justice system to focus on restoration and rehabilitation in community settings in order to avoid taking parents away from their kids whenever possible.

        So yeah – let’s finally start doing something about the destruction of the black family that America has overseen.

      • Arik Bjorn

        Well played, Rebecca, well played!

      • Jim Bean

        I think that would work except for one minor detail. We don’t have any money to finance it. You can choose to deny that. You can say, “OK, then just forget it,” and walk away. Or you can invest your energies into the less promising but still viable alternatives.

      • Rebecca Trotter

        We do have the money; it’s just a matter of priorities. Think of all the money that gets put into supporting the military-industrial complex. Hell, think of the billions spent on weapons systems that the Pentagon doesn’t even want. The money’s there. Plus, it’s high time we fixed the tax loopholes that allow the very wealthy to pay lower tax rates on their income than the rest of us pay. Not only is there money for these things, over time we’d save a shit ton of money by investing into those who need some extra help so the money spent would be an excellent money saving investment. It’s the will that is missing.

      • Jim Bean

        Three things:

        (1) We need a military complex because, like it or not, the world relies upon us to keep the peace and keeping that peace serves our own interests. Its is our moral obligation because we are gifted with the tools. We are currently at pre-WWII levels in many divisions – due primarily to the sequestration the GOP forced upon us – and as such, existing military levels are dangerously low. We’d be fools to make it worse.

        (2) I’ll support you on closing tax loopholes if you promise me you aren’t going to do anything that incentivizes corporations to invest more in other countries thus causing us to suffer a net loss in revenue.

        (3) The black community has no right to place this burden on society in general when, by a commitment to personal responsibility and self sufficiency, they can achieve their goals under their own power. All other minorities do. THAT is where the ‘will’ is needed and would be most effective.

        You are proposing the creation of a costly Intensive Care Unit as a cure for what people can – but won’t – cure with simple, economical, home remedies.

      • Rebecca Trotter

        That’s utter bullshit from top to bottom. First of all, the military industrial complex is not a benefit to world peace. Every time we use it in relation to other countries, we create huge problems which the MIC then points to as justification for it’s ongoing existence. The world is safer today than it’s ever been, yet we have a media and government which in service to the MIC works very hard to convince us that we NEED to have this outrageously large military. Even the pentagon has said that there are entire classes of weapons that they don’t want, yet congress keeps paying for them because their MIC overlords benefit from them. Eisenhower who was no hippy peacenik tried to warn us about the dangerous and parasitic nature of the MIC, but of course we didn’t listen to him. Instead we suckle on the teat of MIC propaganda and come away believing that we have a moral obligation to spend our nation’s wealth on weapons.

        Secondly, for the last 30 years, we have given corporations and the wealthy pretty much everything they’ve asked for. And in return, we have stagnant and reduced wages, the lowest level of workforce participation we’ve seen in 36 years and reduced opportunities for all but a few Americans. Obviously, the wealthy are going to suck us dry and fuck us over without regard for what we do for them, so why not start demanding that they give back in taxes what they will not provide in employment and wages and let the cards fall where they may.

        Third, you are utterly and completely delusional if you think that African American families were destroyed by their own choices. They didn’t choose to come to America, endure the trauma of slavery, endure the trauma and poverty of Jim Crow, destroy the cities and businesses they built with the help of KKK infested law enforcement, put themselves into forced prison labor for offenses such as loitering and standing on the street well into the mid 20th century, opt out of the wealth building GI bill, put themselves into segregated neighborhoods, engage in fraudulent practices that destroyed the equity of their homes, kill their own leaders etc, etc, etc. We did that to them. And no, it wasn’t a long time ago. It was well within living memory that many of these things happened. Hell, when we made welfare available to African Americans, we did so on the condition that the father not be in the home until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. Now we act like fatherlessness became rampant just cuz. There is a point at which a person and people simply cannot bear up under the trauma, destruction and oppression foisted on them. We drove African Americans well past the point that anyone would break and then made it a national past time to stand around condemning them for not all being super human. No other minority group has had to endure what African Americans continue to endure. I mean, right now – today – African Americans and whites use and deal drugs at similar rates, yet somehow we’ve managed to create a situation where 60% of drug prisoners are African American. And all the good white people think to do is claim that it’s their own damn fault?!?! What kind of horrible people are we? We created the problems in the African American community through our deliberate policy choices. And despite 400+ years of horrible abuse, we have done NOTHING to help rectify the situation. America owes African Americans. In fact, we could never repay what we owe for what has been done to African Americans.So instead, we just stand back as if their problems inexplicably popped up out of nowhere and tell them to buck up. What bullshit.

      • strayaway

        Regarding your second paragraph: Exporting jobs and importing foreign workers to compete for remaining domestic at lower wages has reduced our median income so things like education and health care become more expensive relative to our incomes. This is true under recent Republican and Democratic administrations. Until these things are remedied, the affordability of things like education and health care will continue to decline.

      • Rebecca Trotter

        Actually, that’s not a necessary outcome. It’s a choice made by the very wealthy so that they can take an ever increasing portion of our economic output for themselves. Our lowest paid jobs are actually those that can’t be shipped overseas like food preparation and servers, healthcare aids, daycare workers and the like.

      • strayaway

        Of course its the rich. Working people wouldn’t make such policy except that the rich pre-select presidential and other candidates from both parties to do their bidding. That’s why we get stuck with Bush, Obama, and maybe Hillary and Jeb. Hillary is presently the top choice among millionaires in 3016 with 27% and Jeb is second at 18%, Jeb might be higher except more Republicans are in the running splitting the Republican share of the millionaire polling results.

      • Jim Bean

        (#3) Jamal did not drop out of high school, impregnate and then abandon both the woman and child thus sentencing all three to a life of poverty, and join a criminal gang because he was suffering PTSD from his experiences as a slave. Those were conscious, personal decisions he made in real time.

        Furthermore, African Americans are not the pathetic, helpless, incapable people you make them out to be and by doing that, you are exemplifying what is TRULY a racist mindset.

        I don’t like to speculate but it does occur to me that perhaps your insistence that the solution lies in throwing a ton of money in the direction of the problem might indicate you believe you are sitting where some of it might fall in your lap.

      • Rebecca Trotter

        Wow. I had no idea it was possible for someone so fucking stupid to compose sentences on a keyboard. I’m almost impressed. First of all, within the last decade researchers have found that approximately 40% of people in high crime neighborhoods show symptoms that meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Those high crime neighborhoods were the direct result of government housing policies, red lining and a lack of resources, including poor policing practices. They are being perpetuated by the results of a racist justice system which makes those who get caught in it unemployable in legal professions. Researchers also note that violent police tactics are a significant contributing factor, especially among children. So your slavery was a long time ago moronic bullshit is irrelevant.

        Second, the fact that you think “Jamal” just decided to act that way shows that you have never met “Jamal”. I’ve worked with kids in prisons, homeless single moms and gotten to know “Jamals” and “Shaniquas” in real life, which you OBVIOUSLY have not. Let me tell you about Jamal. His mother spoke about one third the number of words to him that white, middle class mother’s use with their children by age 5. Most of her interactions with him were negative – telling him no and stop. It was likely separated from his father as a child, typically because he was in jail, usually as a result of non-violent drug offenses. He was almost certainly physically and sexually abused growing up. He has witnessed many acts of violence including likely at least one murder while growing up. He grew up being afraid of police because of the violent, disrespectful treatment he has witnessed. He struggled in school, as any child with his trauma history will do and was disproportionately punished as a result. He was likely suspended at an unreasonably young age – often pre-school for behaviors that are regularly handled with reprimands when they involve white kids. His inevitable learning issues were never addressed appropriately. He knows very few people who were successful in escaping poverty and violence – even among those who kept their nose clean and got some college education. He desperately wants a woman to approve of and believe in him, but is lacking in basic relationship skills due to his trauma. Plus, he’s inevitably drawn to women with similar trauma histories who also have weak relationship skills. Like many children with his trauma history, he tried drugs and or alcohol by age 14 and became sexually active before he was 15. In short, ALL of the Jamals I have ever known have been struggling with the damage done to him long before he began making poor choices for himself. I have frequently asked others I know who had decades of experience working in prisons, ministering to gang members and as social workers assigned to help the “Jamals” and “Shaniquas” of America and they too report that they have never met someone who behaved in the ways you describe who hadn’t had this sort of background. I’m sure somewhere there’s a “Jamal” who joined a gang and impregnated multiple women because of his conscious personal decisions. I mean some people are born with tails; strange and frightful things happen everyday. But they are extreme outliers. The only place such people actually exist is in the minds of those dumb enough to think TV is real and rap artists minstrels aren’t just appealing to the tastes of the white boys who buy their music. In the real world, that ain’t how it works.

        As for me, I am married to a brilliant black man who got scholarships, bought his own therapy and obtained success in the face of the sort of racism that white people think doesn’t exist anymore because white people in this country are generally delusional when it comes to race. So it would be the easiest thing in the world for me to say, “my husband did it, why can’t Jamal do it?” Of course, in addition to what he got right, my husband also had a couple of baby mama’s by his early 20s and several brothers who joined gangs and wound up in jail. What we expect African Americans to bear up under, before they are even done with childhood is outrageous.

        And as far as slavery goes, do you know anything at all about how trauma gets passed from generation to generation? My great grandfather ran away to America to escape abuse over a hundred years ago. My children are the first in his family line not to grow up with abuse. When my sister went to Poland and met our family, she was told that extreme violence and alcoholism had been part of the family line farther back than anyone could remember. Trauma doesn’t just disappear in a decade or two. It often takes a few generations and a lot of work to overcome. And we didn’t stop terrorizing black folks until a generation or so ago. It’s beyond idiotic to think that the past abuse of black people in this country wouldn’t leave a mark now that we don’t hang people from trees anymore.

      • Jim Bean

        Fine. We’ll continue using your plan and see if we get different results.

      • Jim Bean

        The greatest obstacle to their success, imo, is people like you who persuade them things are hopeless, that they are victims, and that they are powerless to improve their lot in life on their own – that they have no choice but to wait until whitey does the ‘right thing’ and sends a great emissary to take them by the hand and lead them out of the darkness. Your ‘support and empathy’ robs them of their incentive, their self confidence, their self respect, and their ambition, and makes them angry and resentful at others. I suspect you know the definition of the term ‘enabler’ so I won’t bore you with it.

        We do agree on one thing. Jamal is a product of his childhood environment and you are obviously more conscious of that then many others. I say only the Jamal’s have the community influence that can change (or perpetuate) that environment for the next generations and that the Jamals will not do it until we (black and white authority figures) change the dynamics of that environment by saying, ‘this is what we expect, its your job to do it, and we won’t accept any excuses. You have the power.’

        People who won’t ascribe to personal responsibility and self-sufficiency lose the respect of those who do and that loss of respect has far reaching consequences.

      • Rebecca Trotter

        Jim, I am trying not to be rude. Which is something that I struggle with. But you don’t get it. I have been there. What you call enabling is what the rest of us call not being a sociopath. I overcame. My husband overcame. We know and have what it takes and when possible, lend a hand, through word, action, networks and the like. But what you don’t get is that too often it’s not possible. Not everyone has a high iq, enormous ambition and endless determination. And even when people do overcome, the price extracted from them is unreasonably high. You do know that Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s church was mainly attended by successful black people, while the poor people flock to churches that veer towards fundamentalism in their preaching of law, order, education and morality. The poor people want to believe anyone can overcome. The people who have actually overcome know it’s all a game where the average Jamal doesn’t stand a chance. And that when he inevitably falls, he’ll be nothing more than an object lesson for people to use when they want to illustrate the “real” reason black folks can’t get ahead.

        You have no idea. How could you? That’s not a moral judgment on you. It’s just the inevitable result of only knowing Jamal from a.distance. The problem comes when you refuse to admit your own lack of understanding and try to impose an imaginary world on the rest of us. The world doesn’t work the way you think it does.

  • Wow. I had no idea it was possible for someone so fucking stupid to compose sentences on a keyboard. I’m almost impressed. lol