Radical ReEntry Enters the Blogosphere

Dear readers, I urge you to explore some of the material published on my website before you jump into this blog, Doing so should give you a sense of who I am and where I’m coming from. I hope the stuff I have presented as “data” from my life as an educator, speaker, writer and activist engages you. Get to know me and my ideas a little first, then you can introduce yourself and we can talk. I look forward to it…..

What’s Going On?

I’ve long feared the American Rightwing, being acutely aware of how real, scary and cruel it can be.  It represents an unbroken stream of thought, speech and action extending from the “Slave Power” of John C Calhoun, through the violent illogic of post-Reconstruction “Redeemers,”  and into the political powerhouse of Dixiecrats transformed into Conservatives/Republicans who embody a tradition of home-grown fascism.  No joke.

Now a large subset of the polity, the Right has morphed into a cross-class, white people’s movement that undermines any original Constitutional promise to “promote the general welfare.”

It has pushed back even 1950’s-style commitments to public investment in infrastructure, schools, higher education, etc, etc. Eliciting memories of the same decade’s Red Scare, today’s Right demands exclusion: by walling off the border, denying opportunities, incarcerating more people of color, and punishing more immigrants, women, LGBTQ people who are just trying to live full lives. It is scary.

I’ve been writing and railing about all this since I reached adulthood.  Any look-see at my publications uploaded to this website reveal my obsession.

So what is so new here?

I guess what intrigues me now is the question of whether the Right is finally being countered by the return of a democratic Left populism, informed by the anti-racist corrective generated by the Black Lives Matter Movement.  I love the Occupy-inspired public critiques of the 1% . The energy that young people, especially Black and Latino young people, are bringing to racial/cultural politics in this election has, in turn, challenged me out of my post-retirement doldrums.

Hilary Clinton’s presence pushes me too.  She is the official, unapologetic Capitalist Neoliberal in the race, but she is a woman, not so much worse than other Democratic men (sometimes even including Obama).  Sanders is a real Democratic Socialist, but, at 76 years old, will he be able cope with the daily business of governing?  The Democratic debates actually seem to be honest dialogues which raise serious, difficult questions — more directly than has been done in a long time. Through them, we have heard viable candidates arguing about the nature of the state, the social meaning of our political economy and of progressivism today.  All this matters.

My current hope is that the Radical ReEntry blog will be a place where interested folks will engage with me, even if I may sometimes seem to be “preaching” (as my spouse, George, always says, “Ann, you are a professor:  you profess”) .

I also wish my website to inspire a blog that offers stimulating talk about not-so usual, not-so practical, topics.  I’m essentially trying to join the radical ideas of Slovenian social critic, Slajov Zizek with those of the late French political thinker, Andre Gorz, in consideration of a key question for our era. That is, what does “radical reform” mean today as we try to act with an admission that our fine “lost causes” must still be “defended” — exactly because, they represent some of the best parts of ourselves. We can’t deny this just because, despite all our effort, the world remains too unjust and cruel, and people didn’t rise up as much as we hoped in response to our (perhaps too simply framed) calls for justice and change.

Through a process of reclaiming respect for what were, dare I say, “righteous” radical purposes, I want to remember the advice of Audre Lourde:

Next time, ask: “What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end…you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.

So let’s move on together and speak our truths.