Feeling the Bern

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‪#‎FeelTheBern‬ really captures it. Listening to him this morning, seeing the standing ovation, feeling how he was genuinely moved by that, seeing Clinton’s uneasy smile, frustrated by not being able to donate to his campaign living outside the US and reduced to liking and sharing Facebook posts, I decided to try and share what I feel is going on.

I “felt the Bern” first during Jeremy Corbyn‘s campaign to become the new leader of the Labour Party in the UK. He had been written off in advance as being too radical, an old white man openly Socialist and a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament supporter. The young people poured in to hear him speak. Why? He spoke a truth many of us have been feeling. For too long we have been disenfranchised by an expertocracy (economic, financial, political, health, education etc) telling us to leave it to them as they know better. Politics has become all about surface media displays with the differences between mainstream parties becoming increasingly blurred as our felt sense of our society becomes increasingly alarmed, depressed and disturbed. In our gut we have been feeling that things are fundamentally headed in the wrong direction and yet none of our mainstream political leaders have been giving voice to that (the Green Party has of course been voicing this for many years which is maybe why at last in the UK it is growing so rapidly). Until that is Corbyn and Sanders showed up.

They have started to question some of the fundamentals that no-one else has dared to touch, probably because no-one really has the alternative fully worked out yet. But it needs to be named and made explicit as it is so alive in so many of us. We will work out the alternative as we go, because everything we need already exists.

It’s so simple when you name it. If we have an economic system that doesn’t enable people to do the work that needs to be done in the world, then the economic system is broken. If we have an economic system that fails to honour everyone’s contribution in a fair way, then the economic system is broken. If we have an economic system that plunders and destroys the very planet that we live off and are part of, then the economic system is broken. If we have an economic system that treats potentially creative human beings like dumb passive consumers, then the economic system is broken. If we have an economic system that drives us to exploit and destabilise other countries and peoples to feed an insatiable engine of never-ending growth, then the economic system is broken. If we have an economic system that thrives when people get sick and purchase ever more expensive treatments that ultimately make them more vulnerable to disease later, then the economic system is broken. If we have an economic system that turns our schools and colleges into factories to feed an inhuman and out-of-control money-making system, then the economic system is broken.

We created this economic system. A tiny elite now benefit from it and will fight tooth and nail to keep it in place. However we don’t have to accept it. Corbyn and Sanders are attractors for a movement that is demanding that our political leaders take back control of an economic system that is way beyond its sell-by date. But that movement also knows that if the establishment fails to allow change at the political level, we will continue with ever more commitment and vigour to build a new system that makes the old one obsolete – a system so different, that before they know it, it will be beyond their grasp and control. A system that enables people to contribute their talents to co-creating a world that we feel in our guts is a world worthy of us, as amazing creations of this beautiful planet we live on.

Bring it on!

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