By Mark Lesseraux
As 2020 newly arrives it is rapidly becoming clear to more and more people that the current global neoliberal capitalist economic paradigm (1980 – 2019, roughly) is cracking, it is coming apart at the seams. The general initial response to this crisis in countries across the globe has been to recoil from this change by opting to either elect or forcibly install retrogressive, nationalist, xenophobic leaders and forms of government. Examples of nationalist leaders who have recently taken power: Boris Johnson (UK) , Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), Matteo Slavini (Italy) Jeanine Anez Chavez (Bolivia), Donald Trump (US), Viktor Orban (Hungary), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), etc.
This sudden rise of reactionary right-wing populism over the past five or so years is, centrally, a response to the now undeniable failure of late 20th century “liberal” capitalist politics (otherwise known as “neoliberalism”) and politicians who have repeatedly betrayed their constituencies by opting for deregulation and regressive systems of taxation which have solely benefitted the very wealthy and large corporations. This has most often been followed by austerity based measures as opposed to the actual reforms these politicians promised to instigate before they were elected. This selling out of the working middle class by the very political parties who used to champion and support them has produced a void and a lack of hope and belief in the future. This crisis of references, this seeming dearth of viable options, has propelled many confused and desperate people to opt for irrational, retrogressive solutions. Thus the growing tendency in many regions toward blaming refugees and “outsiders” for the myriad of socio-economic problems which have escalated over the past decade.
Amidst all this confusion though, a new current of thought has begun to emerge and proliferate. It is a current of thought which places Human Life as the central value and concern (as opposed to market laws/profit, the state, particular deities, etc.).
In fact, it was at a Bernie Sanders rally on Saturday, October 19th, 2019 in Queens, New York that Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez declared to the world, “It wasn’t until I heard of a man by the name of Bernie Sanders that I began to question and assert and recognize my inherent value as a Human Being who deserves healthcare, housing, education and a living wage.”
Although this declaration of the centrality of the value of Human life was made by a person, albeit a commendable person, within the current political system, the proliferation of this current of thought is something which took root and began snowballing outside the halls of political power. It is a current of thought which has been sprouting for several decades now amongst everyday people in neighborhoods and cities across the globe. Examples of this include the demonstration effects put into action in the 1990s by the Humanist Movement (World Without Wars, The International Humanist Party, The World March for Peace and Nonviolence of 2009, etc.) along with many other efforts and uprisings by various formal and informal organizations and groups, most notably the Occupy uprising of 2011.
This globally growing desire to place the concrete needs of the Human Being as primary rather than as a secondary concern is a clear sign that a new era is beginning to dawn on our planet. If this current of thought continues to spread at its current rate, it is certain that many of us will see some of the sprouting and flowering of the many seeds which have been planted in decades past and that are being planted today, as well.
Mark Lesseraux is a singer/songwriter/political columnist from Brooklyn, New York, USA. He is a proponent and practitioner of Active Nonviolence and a student of Nonduality. Mark has been a member of the International Humanist Movement since 1992.