2011 – A YEAR TO REMEMBER By Grace Lee Boggs

LFC for the January 1 , 2012 issue


By Grace Lee Boggs

12-31-2011 – January 7, 2012

2011 opened with the Arab Spring when the people of North Africa decolonized themselves, thrilling the world with their nonviolent gatherings, ousting the dictators the United States has supported to secure its access to Mideast oil.

The world’s eyes next focused on the struggle to defend the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin public workers against the right-wing attacks coordinated by Governor Scott Walker. The growing mobilization swelled to tens of thousands of union members, their families, and supporters.

By the fall of the year hundreds of thousands had participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots throughout the nation and across the globe., We./they were righteously and rightfully protesting corporate domination of our culture and the suffering that it is producing.,

“We/They were also taking back our government, taking back our humanity, ”

as Danny Glover put it at the Oakland Mall, on October 15.

The ongoing struggles of 2011, from the Arab Spring to Wisconsin and the Occupy/Decolonize movement and our current crises, were rooted in the decline of the empire which made possible the middle-class standard of living and the welfare state with its thousands of public employees to take care of tasks for which we, the people , must become increasingly responsible.

With the end of empire, we are coming to an end of the epoch of Rights. We have entered the epoch of Responsibilities, which requires new, more socially-minded human beings and new more participatory and place-based concepts of citizenship and democracy.

Now is the time for us to Re-imagine Work and Re-imagine Life. The new paradigms we must establish are about creating systems that bring out the best in each of us, instead of trying to harness the greed and selfishness of which we are capable. They are about a new balance of individual, family, community, work, and play that makes us better human beings.

This means that we need to practice visionary organizing. Every crisis, actual or impending, needs to be viewed as an opportunity to bring about profound changes in our society and in ourselves. Going beyond protest organizing, visionary organizing begins by creating images and stories of the future that help us imagine and create alternatives to the existing system.

Revolutionaries, Evolutionaries, and Solutionaries

In the spring of 2011 the first edition of The Next American Revolution, my new book with Scott Kurashige , was released. Since then it has been a true joy to see so many diverse people turn to this little book for help in understanding how and why another world is necessary, possible, and already in the process of being created.

We have met hundreds of people at book release events, where we have shared the stage with good friends and fellow visionaries like Ruby Dee, Danny Glover, Amy Goodman, Michael Hardt, and Lisa Lee. And we’ve continued the conversation through radio interviews with figures like Michael Eric Dyson, Celeste Headlee, Krista Tippett, Tavis Smiley, and Cornel West

Many readers have bought multiple copies of TNAR to share with family and friends. Teachers have begun assigning it to their classes. Faculty, students, and staff at several small colleges are reading it together. Activists have started study groups around the book. And because so many others in faraway places want to talk about The Next American Revolution, I have become a regular user of Skype.

Why is this book having such a deep resonance?

Maybe it’s because it is giving Americans in all walks of life a more people-friendly view of revolution as empowerment rather than struggle for political power.

Maybe it helps us view Revolutionaries as Solutionaries, working together to solve very practical problems of daily life, growing our souls by growing our own food and bringing the neighbor back into the ‘hood,

Maybe it’s giving us the new, more positive view of ourselves that we’ve been hungry for.

Maybe it helps us envision ourselves as Revolutionaries, moving away from the wrong side of the world revolution where we have seemed stuck since the Vietnam War.

Maybe it also helps us see ourselves as Evolutionaries, making the radical revolution of values that Dr. King called for during that war, transformimg ourselves from materialists, militarists, and individualists into a people who can be proud of how we are advancing humankind to a new stage of consciousness, creativity, and social and political responsiblility.