Action and optimism are critical to progressive victory

I’m constantly urging action and optimism. This short clip from Richard Eskow, taken from the longer interview I did with him recently, perfectly captures why.

Eskow says that in the face of a looming disaster — an “event horizon” we may be coming to — we have to make a “Pascal’s Wager with the future” and act as though we can win. Why? Because it gives our lives meaning, and because that’s the only way we will win.

Listen first to Eskow; it’s brief, and he’s much more eloquent that I am. Then my comments afterward:

The article Eskow references, the one he calls “Bigger,”  is at the link. The interview from which this clip was taken is here.

Action is critical to victory

Isn’t it obvious that if we don’t act, we can’t win? This is my advice for the entire progressive coalition, especially those who are too depressed to move.

First, as I’ve said many times, the antidote for depression is action. So when you’re feeling down and hopeless, get up and do something. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel. All those Action Opportunities you see from me? It’s because I’m concerned about your health, and want you to be happy.

Approaching the event horizon

Approaching the event horizon

Second, everyone has reach, a world within which we have an effect. Even the so-called least of us lives in a world we influence. Use your reach; you have no idea when a surprisingly good result will come from it.

Third, action is a choice, not a prediction. And except in rare circumstances, when inaction is more powerful, we must act to win. We could win a battle or lose a battle, win the war or lose it. But we must act as though we can win, or we never will win. In the longer interview, Eskow talks about how the Clintons, the Obamas, the Romneys and the Ryans, all want us to feel powerless, hopeless. That’s part of their plan, it shouldn’t be part of ours.

Finally, I’d like to close with the radio sign-off I’ve been using from time to time. Sports fans will appreciate this — it’s advice that every winning football coach gives every winning team. It’s so obvious it shouldn’t need saying, and it always needs saying:

Block to the whistle. Tackle to the ground. Play till the end of the game.

Play till the end of the game. Act as if you can win. It’s the only way you will win. Make your Pascal’s Wager, resist the taught helplessness of the enemy, and fight till it really is over — and then count your chickens, not before. You may surprise even you.

This is a marker post; there will be lots of links back to it. I’ll have more on this when we discuss a terrific interview with Chris Hedges. Stay tuned, and stay optimistic.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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18 Responses to “Action and optimism are critical to progressive victory”

  1. ArthurH says:

    Actually the vortex the Republicans are caught inside resembles that above a bathtub drain and by not trying to get out of it will soon disappear from sight. But I feel sorry for the rats and former per alligators in the sewer for having to put up with them.

  2. KennyD says:

    The left did the same thing in Wiemar, and look what happened.

  3. KennyD says:

    I have been using the concept of the vortex for some time. For example, the Republicans are caught in a vortex where the crazier they get the crazier they get. It is a reinforcing feedback loop. If there was some way to anchor together all the extremists and then take a few steps away from them, the vortex might serve us well. But there are so many vortexes (protofascism, global warming, plutocracy, antibiotic resistance), and we are so interconnected that it seems impossible to disentagle ourselves from the vortex and its destructive path.

    As a Buddhist, I recommend transmuting the “evil,” if you are trained to do so; radiating basic goodness wherever you are and in everything you do (optimism); and planting the seeds for a better future (action). When “things fall apart,” use “the wisdom of no escape.” However, I would also highly recommend considering how others have responded to “hopeless” situations. Dissidents from the former Eastern block come to mind. Think “Power of the Powerless” and “Parallel Pollis.” Also, think early Christians stuck in a declining Roman Empire.

  4. SpringTexan says:

    Gaius Publius has gotten so much pushback on this both here and from Yves Smith that I wanted to post a comment I also posted there. Gaius Publius, you rock!

    Well, amid all this, let us not neglect to praise Gaius Publius. Some
    of those (not Yves) who trashed the post seem determined to wallow in
    despair. And while I like what Yves says about Stoicism a bit better
    than what Gaius says, I SO appreciate how Gaius Publius does regularly
    provide useful things I can do — which congresspeople to call or fax,
    for instance — that DO have a chance to help a bit and sometimes DO help a bit.

    And he’s absolutely right about the desirability of actions — actions like Yves’ blog, and other simpler stuff like he proposes.

    He’s someone I’m very grateful to, and who has his eye on the ball.
    And even with all the problems, there are and can be victories, and
    every even small victory can make a big difference to SOMEONE.

  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    I think you don’t have a leg to stand on. Spite voting is what Republicans and Democrats have been doing to each other for decades.

  6. mejumaxuturi says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    I think you’re being simplistic
    in your assumptions regarding Republican support for the bill. “Making
    things difficult for the White House” has long been the goal of
    Republican leadership; however, in the case of this particular issue,
    Republican leadership lobbied hard against passage of the bill but 94
    Republicans voted “aye”. I really don’t think they did that solely to
    spite the White House.

  7. dula says:

    Liberals/progressives threw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to the sort of metaphysical shifts now necessary to transcend the stacked deck. It’s great to fight tyrannical religions and those who would erase the separation of church and state, but to deny the sort of exponential effects of spiritual power in favor of the limits to intellectual power isn’t the solution.


    “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”
    “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

  8. perljammer says:

    I think you’re being simplistic in your assumptions regarding Republican support for the bill. “Making things difficult for the White House” has long been the goal of Republican leadership; however, in the case of this particular issue, Republican leadership lobbied hard against passage of the bill but 94 Republicans voted “aye”. I really don’t think they did that solely to spite the White House.

  9. emjayay says:

    So far capitalism seems to be cooperating in relation to politics pretty well. In the US one party is really happy to let them do whatever they want while paying as little as possible, and the other party really happy to let them do whatever they want with some limitations and guidance, mostly to their long term benefit anyway while paying as little as possible

  10. karmanot says:

    So true for some of us.

  11. karmanot says:

    Same here

  12. nicho says:

    The corporatists hold pretty much all the cards now. You can protest all you want, be active all you want, sign online petitions, boycott a band of vodka, whatever — but once you become a threat, or even an inconvenience, to the corporatocracy, you will be dealt with, as severely as necessary. Forget about massive protests. In the US, massive protests require months of preparation. The corporatists monitor all your email, snail mail, internet searches, phone calls. Any attempt at a massive protest will be neutralized — as they have been in the past. They will allow some minor protests which will (a) be pretty much ignored by the corporatist media and (b) give people the illusion that we still live in a free country.

  13. douglas01 says:

    I hate to rain on the parade but I’ve been an optimist for at least the past 60 years. However, looking at the political landscape around me I don’t see much to be optimistic about. I’m glad I’m near the end of my time on this earth and not just beginning. I think the outlook for the world and this country is not particularly hopeful.

  14. mirror says:

    Thanks, dude. Needed the reminder. If I’m not fighting the Quixotic fight, I’m dying.

  15. cole3244 says:

    progressive is already conceding victory to the right because the left is afraid to use liberal as a label, if the left can’t even defend what i consider the name that best describes the left then what is there left to argue about, drawing a line in the sand and always moving it is a sign of weakness not strength.

  16. Whitewitch says:

    How can we act, when those who are running for office are all part of the Elite or are quickly won over by money and power to the same. As for me, I also believe in surrender to that which is and to allow the “other” to burn itself out. Seems like that is a better choice then to back someone we think is good and discover you have supported the “other”.

  17. Indigo says:

    Money and politics create their own event horizon, inevitably. They turn on each other with capitalist fervor the moment one money-holder sees a political force who will empower seizing capital from another capitalist. When capitalism rides in the saddle with no opposition, it generates opposition from inside itself. I don’t see an event horizon outside of capitalism, I see capitalism consuming itself into yet another Armageddon, a war-to-end-all-wars fought with sonorous rhetoric and very big weapons. We’ll suffer from it and we’re not going to stop it because we’re not those players. We’re the endangered audience.

  18. Bill_Perdue says:

    I was a little shocked at the NSA vote yesterday in the House until I saw that a little under half the votes were partisan Repbulican votes to make problems for the WH. “Ninety-four Republicans and 111 Democrats voted to defund the NSA data
    collection program.” NBC

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