Jun 1, 2020

Dr. Cornel West Finally Said What Americans Need to Hear - Here's Why

By Josh Adler / filmsforaction.org
Dr. Cornel West Finally Said What Americans Need to Hear - Here's Why
Cornel West speaking to Anderson Cooper on May 30, 2020.

Brother Doctor Cornel West finally said what needed to be said on CNN. The one narrative a neo-fascist liberal mediasphere can’t headline. Not in Venezuela. Not in Syria. Not in Yemen. Not in Tel-Aviv, Paris, the UK, or anywhere throughout the neo-liberal world.

“We are witnessing America as a failed social experiment.”

With the current administration’s baiting of race war on the heels of the worst pandemic in a century, Nero’s brand of tyranny is starting to look more appealing. Clearly, our elected leaders’ policies no longer uphold the interests, rights, or values of public will or constitution. Instead the shell corporation, known as the United States, is run by and for oligarchs, who are arguably both homicidal and out of their depths or interests in restoring the people’s wellbeing. 

Instead the Sons of Liberty and Honorable Sacred Knights have stormed state capitols’ steps. As Rage Against the Machine’s singer, Zack de la Rocha warned years ago, they’re also holed up in America’s precincts, wearing badges which affirm their zealotry with impunity. They go to work in the morning so they can put their boots on our brothers’ throats before going home to their families to gear up for the next MAGA rally. Neither snail mail, nor a free and fair election are to be expected by November. Marshall Law is more likely.

You may well have another analysis. However, if not, then like our previous “Founding Fathers” you may agree it’s time for tax resistance, rebellion, and forging what comes next. When it comes to governance and democracy, there are upgrades on the table if Killer Mike’s advice to mobilize peacefully is uploaded properly.

Many scholars and patriots continue to find inspiration in the codes of council found in pre-Colombian Iroquois democratic ideals, or political models from the matrilineal civilizations of Old Europe before the Neolithic revolution, and even present day Oaxaca. These and other traditional wisdoms have found resurgence in the world leading Scandinavian economies of care. For instance, Norway’s coalition-based government has sixty political parties working in cooperation. Sixty. 

New technologies are available too. Using blockchain, the late Toni Lane Casserly’s BitNations launched sovereign political bodies across transborder populations online, that actually compete to offer citizens the best rights. 

But Dr. West is correct in his political analysis: Americans should consider dissolving the United States for an updated government and social contract.

That may seem like an unpatriotic suggestion, but in the third sentence of the Declaration of Independence it reads as an "Inalienable Right":

"That to secure these rights [to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

The U.S. Constitution remains an historic landmark for all time, but the United States’ ruling class is oppressive, its democratic apparatus corrupt, and its ability to serve and protect the public good is compromised beyond consent. We, the People, are already on our own. Our best hope now is that the wake of our borders should give way to something more capable of unifying our principles.

In fact, all states still operating in the oily image of the United States’ disaster capitalism model should consider dissolution and reorganization. Last night Hong Kong was swallowed back into the Mainland. Tonight the western imperialist, colonized, hypernormalisation order is over. Hallelujah! Tomorrow the masts of the world can fly empty.

The next time we cast our votes as citizens, we should rally around fresh flags.

Our country may have different borders, but at least we will tell the truth about America’s greatest leaders. Many of them are Black Leaders. They led us in the White House, in thought, in prayers, in the streets, in arenas, in music, and to the moon. And all along the way, America’s Black Leaders have revealed their era’s Culture of Cruelty. 

Yet tomorrow night, and the next and every night after until we create a country where Black Lives Matter as much as others, every broadcast will continue to justify the dominant culture of cruelty, exploitation, Patriarchy, and White Supremacy. Every day the news will relentlessly remind their audiences that cruelty is happening through your country, schools, neighborhoods, churches, businesses, and governments. Every day cruelty will be promoted as necessary action in a world where your safety and way of life are under violent threat by VIRUS! CHINA! THUGS! FIRES! FAKE NEWS!

The media’s cultural story is clear: Cruelty is making us make cruel choices, which is making cruelty more necessary, whether in the forums of trade or policy, or enforcing dinner time in our own homes.

The reason ranchers in 2020 continue to kill off ecologically valuable predators, like wolves, leopards, and tigers after thousands of years of facing their drive to hunt livestock, isn’t because they can’t figure out other ways to keep their herds safe. 

Yet underneath the media blizzard that toxifies our institutions’ principles, our peoples’ forests and good faith are in tact. 

People are helping bison and whales make comebacks in North America. Monkeys, elephants, elk, and cougars are commuting through our locked down city centers. Beneath every Bolsonaro the Amazon courses on. Fires burn, yet the forest and river finds new ground. Mother earth invites resilience when she’s considered and engaged. It's not too late for our biodiversity and ecosystems to bounce back.

In fact, the well-trained livestock guardian dog team can repel the pack without resorting to bullets, traps, or poison. Locust plagues can make for excellent chicken feed.

Between the Indian and Chinese border forces, an independent Kashmir could still prevail. 

Give a nurse in Michigan or Ohio a ventilator, and she may save a hundred lives.

New Mexico could cede it’s lands and municipalities to the Pueblo tribes. Hand over Wisconsin to the Ojibwe. The Dakotas could be entrusted to the Souix. Each state could endow its resources and allegiances at the feet of indegenous wisdoms that plan for seven generations, rather than quarter by quarter.

Once you clear away the snowdrifts, even Putin lives in the shadows of the Borealis, the great forest across the northern hemisphere. He should kneel to Siberian law that actually works to keep the land alive, and could save his grandchildren.

What despots fear most is the Culture of Mercy. Look at Vandana Shiva, MLK, M. Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Thich Nhat Hanh, or Jesus of Nazareth. Sure most of them were tax resistors, like the American Revolutionaries, but they also met the tyranny of their times by reminding humanity how to restore trust through our basic capacity for benevolence, compassion, and grace.

The generations alive right now need to recognize that we haven’t lost our better nature, we just haven’t claimed it yet - so our demons are clamoring to fill the mythical void. But now history calls us to bring our hearts to our hands in order to build a world that works for all people and the planet.

We also haven’t lost our critical habitats that support all species, including our own, with fertile soil, potable water, breathable air, and minerals for infrastructure and technology. Yes, mass extinction looms for a million species; but for now the condor still flies, the insects still sing, and the packs still hunt. Yet, as biologist E.O. Wilson advises, #NatureNeedsHalf of the earth’s surface to be protected to ensure the entire biosphere doesn’t crash. Humankind also needs to bring more forests to the cities to help people feel less isolated, less anxious, and more connected to the natural world.

When American conservationist, John Muir, saw the scale of catastrophic destruction industry would bring to the forests he loved, he wrote essays to bring the majestic inheritance of the US’s wilderness to its people. Then in 1903 he took president Teddy Roosevelt on a camping escapade that led to one of the United State’s greatest ideas - the national parks system. Like the American Transcendentalists before him, Muir understood that true greatness isn’t achieved by domination, but rather through acts of humility, sacrifice, wonder, and awe. These acts outweigh the rhetoric of any nation because all of humanity can call upon them for all time. 

Like the rest of “Team Human” before us, we too are called to meet our societies’ clashes and failures with a mix of solidarity, forgiveness, vision, and belonging. To rise up and empower our world with love, care, and partnership, rather than domination.

For if after this year’s storm, there is no more United States, no more Dollar, Dow or American Dream, Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, or Spirit of ‘76, Dr. West has warned us - what's left to save won’t be defined by any campaign or headline. 

What’s left to save in 2020, will be defined by humanity’s capacity to choose mercy over cruelty.

Can Americans understand that abolishment may be the first step towards lasting reconciliation? 

And what's more American than overthrowing tyranny to establish justice for all?


Josh Adler is a documentary filmmaker known for his work for Netflix, National Geographic, Discovery, and HBO. He’s also contributed features for National Geographic and Vice.

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