Night School: The Case for Optimism: Radicals and Progressives Take on Trumpist Nihilism

We can all see the empire coming, and we want to strike back.

Is it enough to say ‘NO’?

What are we fighting for? How do we take the initiative back?

The truth is we already have the initiative. Once progressives and the counterculture challenged the competitive society of materialism and dehumanization, inequality and alienation, hierarchies and disempowerment, distraction and inauthenticity, the conservative movement began mobilizing to stop us.

The internal hemorrhaging of geopolitical empire is a catastrophe for victims everywhere who will suffer its wrath-filled decline. Experiencing a pervasive sense of threat, many urgently seek to mount an opposition to the present assault on American institutions and the American (and many other) people. What is less clear is what the fight is for. Many wonder, is there even a vision for viable alternative? We must not let the empire suck our dreams from us. We must recall that American society refocused its fateful slide into domination and violence following the 1960s. After progressives and the counterculture challenged mainstream American life, immersed in materialism and consumerism, inequality and alienation and disconnection, hierarchies and disempowerment and loss of dignity, nihilist distraction and interdiction of genuine selfhood and community, many saw this was not a way to live and live well, certainly not in a time of post-industrial productivity where all can have more of what they need, and justice can be done, here and elsewhere, perhaps everywhere.

When progressives and radicals punctured the myth of the immaculate system and it started lurching and taking in water, conservatives and reactionaries bailed out and attacked and assaulted their very own system. Ironically, it has been liberals and even progressives who have returned to the defense of the system, the very system they were the first to insist needed wholesale change. Young people see the deeper rot in the system, and the lives of meaninglessness and desperation it offers and demands – and do not simply seek a return to pre-Trump or even pre-Reagan ‘normalcy.’

THE TIME OF VISION HAS COME: Our issue is the moral quality of our lives and communities and the opportunities to nurture and harness the power every one of us has for a life of realization, meaning, and contribution. We are entering a great experimental age – discovering new kinds of relations, work and play lives, temples and churches and communions, communities, families and education and the raising of children in just and empowering ways. This is a great age for envisioning, inviting us to explore hopeful and engaging ways to live. If we can then live these experiments boldly and mutually, share them, report on them, network and become them, we will find that vision indeed inhabits the land in new and compelling ways.

Join us for a Night School discussion as we welcome James Block, author, political theorist, and professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago.

Sunday, May 28 at 6pm
Riverwest Public House Cooperative
815 E Locust St.
Milwaukee, WI 53212

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