“We can’t buy the line that government is our enemy and the market is our friend … Government is us. Government is our institutions. Government is how we make social and public choices working together to forge common ground…. We’ve got to retrieve our citizenship.”
-Political theorist Benjamin Barber
I really, really enjoy hearing people articulate a rational, sound understanding of the true goal of our institutions. With everything going on recently in politics, I am so happy that 1) I don’t have tv and 2) the internet has totally revolutionized the way we interact with the world. Through the internet I have more choice than ever before about how I consume and how I reveal myself. I can misuse it, of course, but that is true of any medium.
This quote above is from an article with a very relevant argument: Democracy Talks-listen up!
It’s about a new book out by the legendary Bill Moyers. It’s called Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues. A collection of interviews and conversations, the book compiles some very interesting perspectives on three crucial years in American History- from 2007 to 2010. Personally, I’m not used to seeing any part of my lifetime considered to be historically important (with a few huge exceptions), so this is surreal to say the least.
The book covers topics from the economic collapse to the 2008 presidential campaign to the election of Barak Obama to the start of the Afghan War and on. Living through it, it’s so overwhelming that it’s easy to overlook the sheer multitude of events that happened over that period of time. The quote that I started this post with is a direct quote from the book itself. Exactly the kind of thoughtful point that I’ve come to expect from a Bill Moyers interview. It’s a perspective that I like seeing in print, because it pushes to remind us that moderate debate can do far more than it is given credit for doing nowadays.
I recommend buying the book outright, if you can.
And I’ll leave you with a quote from historian Howard Zinn, who (whatever you think of his politics) usually brings very fundamental points into public conversation:
“The idea of people involved in history, people actually making history, people agitating and demonstrating, pushing the leaders of the country into change in a way that leaders themselves are not likely to initiate… Don’t depend on our leaders to do what needs to be done, because whenever the government has done anything to bring about change, it’s done so only because it’s been pushed and prodded by social movements, by ordinary people organizing.”
You said it Howard.