Sunday, November 21, 2010
Are We Making Progress in the Culture War?
Since the midterm elections many with whom I've discussed the outcome have shared the dismay regarding the gains of the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. My response has been that at least in our northern part of Delaware we seemed to have had better sense. As the results came in, I examined the voting trends by consulting those maps of Delaware provided by various media that displayed the red and blue areas of our state. Delaware was pretty much divided into a blue northern part of the state with a rim of red that ran across the arc that borders us with Pennsylvania where the wealthy live in chateau country, and a mostly red southern portion of the state except for an enclave in the vicinity of Lewes and Rehoboth where there is a large population of retired well educated professional people and artists.
Seeing this blue enclave in a sea of red downstate where I have a growing circle of friends in the burgeoning cultural community was heartening. It made me wonder if our efforts in the northern portion of Delaware with regards to our cultural activity over the past thirty years has paid off.
In 1984, when Ronald Reagan was reelected, I kind of saw the handwriting on the wall and backed away from the intense direct political activity in which I'd been engaged and sought a kind of cultural rapprochement. Part of the reason was connected to personal survival, but the major reason was to broaden the struggle into a larger social arena. That initial wave of extreme right wing lunacy seemed to be riding the crest of cultural initiatives that I perceived to have reactionary content.
In short, direct political activity might be good for winning the minds of people, but cultural activity might be better to win their hearts.
In general, I concluded that cultural activity added social value that both is ineffably valuable to the quality of our lives and comes closer to inherent truths within our individual selves. While the corporate and banking ruling circles in our country were using the ascendancy of the right wing to impoverish us economically, I felt it important to add cultural value to provide cohesion to those inherent truths of who we are and who we've been, and based on these, who we could become.
Considering all this, my conclusions still insisted on taking the form of questions during the course of reassessing my previous cultural activity. As far back as the late 1970s, when I became involved with Wilmington's Black press, I gained an innate understanding of the cultural component of a community and the value for social cohesion it embraced. This had been an important element in our efforts to undermined the Marshall machine and to begin to elect Black candidates to city offices and to pave the way to electing Wilmington's first Black mayor. After 1984, and after the ruling circles in Delaware conspired to crush The Delaware Valley Star, my writing in the local Black press reflected issues related more to social and cultural ones, like the effects of the "drug war," along with matters of music, literature and other aspects of local cultural history, and the social and cultural need for the ruling circles to pay reparations for the damage incurred by slavery and the institutionalized racism that has followed. But, to return to the subject, would the Black community at large have voted for right wing lunatic fringe candidates? I think not!
Nevertheless, questions of my work on behalf of providing cultural value to our local community persist. Has my work contributed to at least some people thinking more deeply, clearly and more critically about our environment? Has my work, under the aegis of the Dreamstreets project, on behalf of local literary artists, both from the past and in the present, improved our social and cultural environment? Has my broadcasting work on behalf of our local literary history and community, as well as our history of jazz artists, had an effect on protecting our ignored cultural history from those right wing lunatic fringe elements who would wish to belittle that legacy in order to gain some cultural hegemony based on Delaware's tired old legacy of cultural mediocrity, which serves the interests of the ruling corporate and banking circles that seek to control our lives? Have any of those who have joined in on performing this kind of cultural activity contributed even some small modicum of difference? I'd like to think so, even in some minuscule, intangible way so that people in this part of Delaware can think more sensibly about the political decisions made in the voting booth.
Even if I'm giving myself too much credit regarding my role in social and cultural progress, what matters most is that whatever it takes to counter the intent of the lunatic fringe from negatively influencing our lives is helpful. I don't intend on stopping. Never give the bastards an inch because they will take a mile.