A Sorry Bowl


This video, made by historian Heather Cox Richardson a few hours after Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony on Tuesday before the House Select Committee investigating January 6, is worth viewing (at least by concerned Americans) in its entirety.

The video should start playing a little after the 36-minute point. At this point, having summarized and interpreted Hutchinson's testimony, and having added a few comments on the SCOTUS Dobbs decision, and then offering some historical clarification on how democracies die, Richarson adds comments about some of the things she thinks American citizens will have to do to preserve democracy.

Since her thinking begins to get at the problems I have tried to address with my #seizethemeansofcommunity hashtag on Mastodon I thought I'd provide a link that started you at that point.

Some notes:

  • She seems to be unaware of efforts like Mastodon, Hubzilla, Pleroma and other open source, self-hostable Fediverse options available so, to the extent that she addresses online responses, she tends to assume that people will have to avail themselves of platforms like Facebook and Twitter (and their ilk).
  • The link below is to a YouTube video, accessed through an instance of Invidious to minimize tracking. The YouTube video is a repost, I believe, to a Facebook video in a group she maintains, an indication IMO of a certain lack of awareness on her part about all the forces that are hacking away at democracy.
  • Richardson's comments do touch on what I consider to be an important point: how our elevation of heroes tends to come at the expense of our understanding of the important parts communities of people have played in social, political and cultural progress over the last century.

History & Politics Chat: June 28, 2022

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The following was originally intended to be a thread on Mastodon. Since I don't yet fully understand how posting to Mastodon works, I managed to screw up the sequence by deleting and re-drafting one of the posts. Here is the sequence as it was originally intended:

  • Since the late 19th century the world has seen several threats to the continued existence of global civilization. Two of these were world wars, which took terrible tolls but did not end global civilization. The crypto-theologically inclined, believing in inexorable historical progress, have tended to conclude that the world, overall and despite some glitches, is in most ways better than it was. This tends to be the belief of economists and the privileged. Others have doubts.

  • Another big threat to the continued existence of global civilization has been nuclear conflict. It has been (indefinitely) avertable and (so far) averted because a relatively small number of people have managed to exercise enough restraint. The crypto-theologically inclined have concluded (emotionally, if not propositiionally) that nuclear catastrophe is no longer a significant prospect.

  • The current most urgent threat is the one that is most directly enmeshed with physical, chemical and biological processes. It will be resolved not just with changes in laws and attitudes but will require massive, rapid changes in the way all of us interact with the physical world we inhabit.

  • If we try to meet this threat simply as individuals we will fail. Global civilization will end in the lifetimes of our children, our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren.

  • If we do not urgently address this threat we will not have the time to reap the benefits of any other economic, social or moral improvements we manage to achieve.

  • We need a 21st-century form of revolution... not the 19th-century sort of violent confrontation with power in the streets so much as the organized, mutual, collective undertaking of rapidly examining and altering the values and assumptions that have been inculcated in us, progressively, over centuries, and have rendered us so individualistic that we have lost most of our ability to act communally with solidarity.

  • We need to collectively, deliberately develop forms of community

    • small enough that each member can know and care about each other,
    • purposive enough that its members are motivated to inform themselves and each other about what needs to be done and then organize to do it
    • inter-connected enough that perspectives are not merely local, fit within larger understandings and efforts

This approach doesn't guarantee success but it is our only hope.


Here are the original posts as they each appear on Mastodon (but presented in their intended sequence)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.