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View Diary: Why I Was Smiling and Hurricane (296 comments)

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  •  Don't lose that smile! (4.00)
    Joy is the one weapon that we on the left, the antiwar movement, whatever you want to call us, woefully underuse in this battle against this joyless, murderous administration. What you say reminds me so much of an article by Barbara Ehrenreich that I read a while back. I hope you don't mind if I quote a bit of it.

    Perhaps the best kept political secret of our time is that politics, as a democratic undertaking, can be not only "fun," in the entertaining sense, but profoundly uplifting, even ecstatic. My generation had a glimpse of this in May 1968 and at other points in that decade, when strangers embraced in the streets and the impossible briefly seemed within reach. Insurgencies again and again engender such moments of transcendence and hope. People danced in the streets of Havana when Batista fled in 1959; 30 years later, they danced on the Berlin wall when East Germany succumbed to the democracy movement. There was revelry in Republican Spain in the 1930s, and "drunken anarchy" in St. Petersburg in 1917. In moments such as these, politics overflows the constraints of parties, committees, elections, and legislation and becomes a kind of festival.


    There are rich and nuanced ways of talking about the love between two people, ranging from simple sexual attraction to ecstatic communion and undying mutual commitment, but there are few words to describe the love, if it is that, that can unite thousands of people at a time. "Community" is the word we are most likely to reach for, but in the mouths of politically centrist "communitarians" (of whom Hillary Clinton is the best-known representative) it has become another code for the kind of moral conformity that conservative leaders are always promising to impose. Besides, great moments of political euphoria are not celebrations of pre-existing communities, but the creation of community out of masses of people who are, for the most, part, formerly unknown to each other. In the revolutionary crowd, old hierarchies and hostilities dissolve. Black and white marched together in the American movements of the 1960s; Catholics and Huguenots embraced in the French Revolution. United by a common goal and emboldened by the strength of numbers, we "fall in love" with total strangers.


    [T]o move beyond the status quo, toward a genuine democratic renewal, we need social movements that allow for, and actively generate, the collective excitement of large numbers of people.... Which is to say that collective joy is not only a side effect of egalitarian political movements; it must ultimately be their goal: To institutionalize the festival, with its disorderly creativity and collective euphoria, as the principle of everyday life.


    Btw, I don't know why I haven't said this before, but I think you totally rock!

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