Don’t remember the past? Does that mean that you’re condemned to repeat it? What does our country’s past tell us about our present— and how can it help us imagine a better future? This week, two leading thinkers on the tricky challenges of democracy. What are the best tools— and even the best words we can use to create a better future?
“The biggest threat of our age is capitalism, which concentrates wealth, concentrates power that’s antithetical to democracy.” – Astra Taylor
“We need to start to imagine a future in which people can see themselves thriving and living.” – Scot Nakagawa
Scot Nakagawa, Senior Partner, ChangeLab
Astra Taylor, Director, What is Democracy?
Laura Flanders: Skip forward to today and you look at the headlines. There’s a lot of activism by an organization called Patriot Prayer as just one example. They’ve been wrecking the offices of the International Workers of the World. They’ve been disrupting DSA meetings and ISO meetings. A lot of the same stuff.
Scot Nakagawa: Yeah, a lot of the same stuff. It never stopped. From 1988 until now, people imagined there was a kind of a time in between in which white nationalism sort of went away. But the reality is they’ve always been there, but organizing underground. Around 1996, when Timothy McVeigh as a Christian patriot committed that a horrific bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the federal government basically forced the white nationalist movement underground because they finally recognized that they themselves were being threatened by this movement.
And underground, they began to organize in a very different kind of way on the dark web, on these websites that we now know about where they’ve been very active all of this time. But they were mostly disaffected from politics. In 2016 however, when Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, he really made a direct appeal to those folks, right? And kind of brought them out of the margins back into the mainstream. Now we are facing this.