my love..

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Center for Civil Society Innovation

At a Christmas party last night I found myself debating this very smart, very kind late 20-something gal about capitalism, our educational system, corporate power, etc. While the whole thing was calm, I walked away sensing she hated me. I get this feeling a lot. Basically, she looks around, sees all the vast inequalities, especially the racial divide, attributes it to the evils of the market, and calls for more responsible, less corruptible and corrupted, better-informed government action to make it all better. If she comes across someone who doesn’t share in the calling, she assumes they don’t care as much about our social/economic mess.

I so wish my skepticism of government was exceeded by my skepticism of market alternatives. I so wish my faith lied with government. My life would be easier, my relationships with people less naturally strained. Most of all, I’d actually have hope our nation is headed in the right direction. It’s astounding how much politics gets in the way of conversation, especially if your politics don’t conform to your milieu. While you’d love to talk about the weather, or King Kong or why you love Philip Roth novels, once the political jibe is made (and it always is), once you don’t nod your head in agreement or laugh along, you’re fucked. You find yourself spending the rest of the day or night defending yourself from spoken or unspoken suspicions of complacence. You can almost hear in the silent echo chambers – “You spoiled brat! You disgust me!”

One of these days I’d like to establish a Center for Civil Society Innovation. It’s sole aim would be to craft fresh market incentives and programs geared toward ameliorating social justice concerns like poverty, inequality, education, the environment, healthcare, etc. It would deal with the overall strategy employed here. But such a strategy wouldn’t be resigned to obscure corners of cyberspace. The Center would cultivate a dialogue and productive rapport with social justice advocates and intellectuals of all stripes. It would affiliate with large, well-known socially conscious organizations for the purposes of on-the-ground, grassroots initiatives. Corporate greed, as well as consumer want, would be channeled as means to communal betterment. Economic fire would be fought with economic fire.

I’m writing this post as a reminder. In four years from now, when I’m out of the Corps and leafing through the printed pages of this blog, I’ll come across this entry and get something rolling. At least that's the hope.