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Ben Boyce

Utopian horizons are north stars, not distant shores

The surviving members of the rapidly diminishing founding cohort of the ‘60s great cultural revolution, the consequent modern-day social movements, and the progressive political movement are now beginning to pass into history. This much-maligned demographic I represent, the cursed Boomers, were the generation that helped forge a new social compact between white and black citizens of this country. The alliance of black civil rights leaders and white liberals created the political power sufficient to pass the landmark Civil Rights. We put up some W’s back in the day.   The true believers who gave their lives and heart to the project of the Great Turning were confident that we had a historical role to play in the founding of the New Planetary Order. We were the generation that had evolved collectively and would make the quantum leap into the next electron shell of species self-awareness. We were the Singularity.  That utopian horizon was so close that we could reach out our hands and touch it. Salvation was imminent. We were the new prophets of the Aquarian Age. I could taste the nectar of enlightenment. We were the future. <Record Scratch> Lord, what were we smoking? Damn, we were definitely high on our own supply. That Jetsons Star Trek fantasy of a peaceful, rationally administered economic model set in a social democratic world government with liberty and justice for all in a world of plenty… not.  In the 40-plus years since the reactionary oligarchy that has always run this country systematically crushed this tender shoot of hope, the utopian horizon has disappeared. The imagination is compressed, and our capacity for empathy diminished under the dire spell of hegemonic capitalist realism. As a result, even mentioning a ‘utopian horizon’ is now cringe.  The toll on broken human lives and spirits by the vicious post-sixties carceral repression is beyond accounting. Many leaders and influencers in the cultural vanguard were conveniently jailed for ‘drug possession’ and given draconian sentences designed to break their spirit in dungeons under the diabolical Nixonian drug laws. The black revolutionaries like Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers were just straight-up merked by the feds, just like special ops do in the periphery of the Empire. The message was clear: ‘Resistance is Futile.’  As Maggie Thatcher, the Iron Lady on the throne of the UK branch of neoliberal hegemony, stated: “There is no alternative.” The neoliberal era of social austerity and carceral public policy destroyed the material and social base of our brief utopian Summer of Love. We live in their world now. The defeated and dispersed tribes of the West Coast Class of ‘68, my Sunshine Daydream hippy clan, and the fearless movement activist Digger Brigade are now coming to terms with their mortality and watching the world burn by the light of our dreams. What witness can we bring to bear on this historical moment? What actions are still within our power to effect a change that we will not see in our lifetimes? History is not over yet. We can be like Moses and Sarah and keep trekking forward to reach a Jurasalem we will never see. Back here in lovely Sonoma Valley, please join us to support the workers at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission seeking to become a union hotel represented by UNITE-HERE Local 2 on Thursday, February 9, at 5:30pm. The union movement is on the march, and vastly increased union density is the only realistic path forward to gain the political power to create an elementary social democracy in the U.S. Finally, a quick plug for the debut of my new radio show, Deconstructing Media, on KSVY 91.3 FM,  Wednesdays, 3-4pm. We want to increase public media literacy and encourage critical thinking applied to curated clips from MSM print media, cable news networks, podcasts, and YouTube political media sources. Check it out.  
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