I sense a growing cynicism and fatalism among the left in our country and this is perfectly understandable given the current political situation. But I am also sensing that the left has been in the position of the underdog and has gone without any major victories for so long, trying to be bipartisan in the face of teabagger intransigence, that, like some kind of broken masochist, we’re beginning to actually like the poor hand fate has dealt us and have even begun to wallow in the notion that the future will be some kind of Blade Runner cyber-tech-noire-punk dystopic future, where we’ll all get to run around in light body armor and spout a bunch of coy, angst-ridden one liners as if we were background characters in Akira or something.
I’m certain that this sort of nihilistic world view is at least partially the reason why it’s been so hard to get the left to vote — let alone to protest.
Leftists didn’t always think the future was going to be dim. During the 19th century, novels from the left, such as Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, William Morris’ News from Nowhere, and Paul Devinne The Day of Prosperity all spoke of the possibilities of an utopian future in the face of the hell that it must have been to live in the late 1800s: A time when sharecropping barely replace slavery and no one said a word if a cop killed a striking unionist.
But according to a piece Gail Collins wrote for The Nation: "By the time we had endured a world war and a Great Depression, they (futuristic novels) were wavering between visions of apocalyptic savagery and of Big Brother dictatorships. But a hundred years ago, people believed in happy endings."
So something definitely happened to the left’s morale over the years, but thankfully it didn’t affect all of us. While other writers of his generation thought for certain we wouldn’t live to see the 23rd century,
Gene Roddenberrry’s belief in happy endings became most evident when his creation Star Trek debuted, a vision that inspired the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior himself.
I’m not gonna spend the rest of this letter validating Star Trek, but I am going to state the indisputable fact that you cannot be a good left-winger without caring about the future. What else besides the future can you possibly be fighting for?! You cannot consider yourself part of the left-wing if you actually are sick enough to look forward with relish to the idea that the future will be some kind of X-Men/James Cameron playground for you to romp around in like some paint-ball playing survivalist.
I’ll ask the fatalistic cynics who have written off the human race what I ask the O.J. trial coverage-Melrose Place-bread and circuses-addicted teeny boppers who say they have a God given right to not be "into" politics: "Do you want to be sterilized?"
I’m serious. If you really don’t care about the future, sterilize yourself. "B-but," you stammer, "I may want to have kids someday!"
Well, let’s assume you do. In which case, you’re going to have to care about the future your children live in (I don’t know too many parents who would drop their kids off in some of the Blade Runneresque dystopias I’ve seen on screen and read about recently).
And unless you’re planning on letting someone sterilize your children or grandchildren, you also have to assume that your kids will have kids. (Your distant, direct descendants are just-as-much your kids as the ones you live long enough to see and hold in your arms.) What will your children’s future home be like?
As a Black man, I can see the importance of this philosophy. In the 1860s slavery was being defeated, in the 1960s segregation was being defeated, in the 2060s—or the 2160s, 2260s and the 2360s…who knows?
But I THINK a better question is "Who cares?"