Remembering Tomorrow - A lesson in humanity for the left
By Paulo Rodriguez at Jun 22, 2010
One of the things that make it worthwhile being human, one would argue, is that we are capable of feeling. We are capable of experiencing joy at the enormous variety of good things in life, whether material or ephemerous. We feel indignation, anger, dare I say rage, at things that seem wrong, unjust, or abusive as well.
On top of that, we've been both blessed and cursed by sentience. We can not only perceive the world around us, marvel about it, but also feel the need to understand it, change it.
However, we sadly live within structures that do their every best to make us passive spectators, just undergoing the whims of people unconcerned with our well-being and that of others. We are taught that no matter how hard we try, we simply WILL fail to achieve a just and fair world. And we better believe it!
And thus we are overwhelmed by frustration, we feel like we are fighting a losing battle, and we act in consequence. We don't try to win. We pose as tragic warriors, fighting the good fight, cursing the evils of society and their sources. But we really don't seem to be interested in winning. The weakest of us human beings sometimes even choose a yet worse path, we join our tormentors and participate on our own moral and biological destruction...
So what can we do about such things? Are we really interested in winning? Could it be that, despite our own perception, despite the seemingly obvious injustices that surround us, overwhelm us, could it be that we actually ARE winning?
Till not so short ago, anyone asking me this very question would get a tired smile and a short "alas, no we are not". How wrong I was.
This change of perspective is , I believe, hard to achieve, given the odds against decent people, who desire just societies and a decent future. It is, however, not only necessary, but also ... it's the right perspective! We are winning. We are moving forward , steadily and faster than we think. How can this be? Enter "Remembering Tomorrow".
Imagine yourself, an activist, whether a critic of US foreign policy describing with vivid details the destruction of other countries for geopolitical interests. A hardcore anarchist, stirring the hornet's nest at the G8, being assaulted by the authorities, while the world's elites decide on catastrophic measures against the general population. A union representative fearing for his or her life, defending the basic right of workers and their families, to earn more than just enough to pay for a miserable loaf of dry bread. Or even the seemingly unconcerned citizen, feeling powerless to change anything as an individual,isolated and apathetic, going through the motions.
It's hard not to embrace despair, defeatism and blind rage when being exposed to such expressions of social injustice. In order to weapon ourselves against that, we need honest chronicles of people, men and women, with virtues and flaws, showing us that every day we do emerge victorious, even if only by a little. Tales of honest successes and failures, of meaningful change.
This book is exactly about that. A clear and vivid description of the most empowering moments in American activism history from the 60's to the present , Michael Albert has succeeded in writing a gripping tale of those key moments that defined the American New Left, with a remarkable sense of honesty and humanity. His attempt at providing the reader with a sense of hope and the left's achievements, and providing us with his own personal insights at the left's failures, can certainly be called a resounding success.
Being able to read a first-hand account describing the actions, words and even seemingly small gestures of well-known and not-so-known activists like Howard Zinn, Dave Dellinger, Carl Oglesby, Noam Chomsky, Brian Dominick... It gives this work a sense of humanity that a lot of leftist literature horribly lack. We are not talking about abstract values or marxist/anarchist theory here, but the concrete actions and feelings of people that understood the need for change and acted on it without compromise, relentlessly moving forward and fueled by a strong sense of social justice. An overwhelming yet pleasant feeling is the result, a perfect antidote for the negativism we somehow seem to be very good at taking a swim into, willingly.
The variety of topics the books focuses on is also incredibly vast: the feminist movement, the Black Panthers and the racial struggle of African-Americans, SDS and the antiwar movement, orthodox leftist movements in all its incarnations, and even the cultural revolution that pretty much defined the 60's, up to today's activist efforts in the US and the impact of current information technology on activism. All this spiced up with personal and humorous anecdotes and small impressions from the cultural and musical currents of the 60's, most prominently Bob Dylan, whose work Albert clearly appreciates,
For all of us who feel that our resolve is faltering, or that simply sympathise with radical activism but feel that it's a lost cause, look no further. This book will empower you, make you laugh, move you and finally shake you into action. It will make you understand that in the end, perseverance, patience, humanity, and an honest desire for a better tomorrow are the keys to win, coupled with a clear vision and a sense of direction. A must-read for everyone who calls themselves "on the left".