Ignorance of history is a slumber so deep we can not dream

The answer to this last question is ignorance. We unconsciously accept the way of the world as it is given to us. We do not see how it has been distorted to favor the arbitrary victors of history. We do not even discuss the concept of power. It is time for a public discourse of power. It is time for a mapping of power in our everyday lives. It is time to become conscious.

Power is the ability to determine the way of the world, which requires first the ability to identify and understand the forces of power already determining the world. Next, a purpose is needed, a direction for change from the brutality of the past. Finally, crucially: we need the ability to alter, to redirect the forces already determining the world toward our new way.

This last step is most perilous. Revolution is rarely effective, more often reintroducing the same power dynamic in a new form, and only after a period of disruption and violence. The better way is to work from within, to evolve. This way demands epic patience and perspective, and still poses risk: e.g., the wave of ethnic nationalism spreading through the West in reaction to the slow but steady progress of multicultural egalitarianism in recent generations.

And there is no reason to expect an end will be reached, an ideal ever achieved. Let us remember, with Nietzsche, that “every past is worthy to be condemned,” and that includes the future we will bring, which will immediately become a past. Let us, then, make a way of the world that is supple, that is strong but flexible, that is designed to evolve, to condemn itself and improve recursively. This requires understanding specifically how historical power entrenches itself in the present, by what tactics it preserves the status quo, then to de-legitimate these tactics and loosen the constraints by which yesterday dominates today, and finally to embolden and reinforce our capacities for critique, collaboration, and creation, for those are the faculties for remaking the future.


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