With the generosity of spirit that emerged in the 1960s, a willingness and desire to make amends for past wrongs committed against indigenous and other mistreated peoples threatened the ability of aristocrats to continue perpetrating these wrongs for power and profit. The public re-examination in the 1970s of what America stood for, and how that tallied with what America actually was and had been, propelled government, academia and ordinary people to support a redress of these grievances.
Horrified by this acting in accord with what indigenous scholar Richard Atleo terms “the law of generosity”, the American aristocracy mobilized resentment toward altruism on a scale never seen before. As detailed by author Jerome Himmelstein, the transformation of American conservatism through the 1980s played the key role in turning that generosity into mean-spiritedness of colossal proportions.
The consolidation of America’s return to the ungenerous spirit of conservatism in the 1990s through the co-optation of liberals, in fact, ensured that the humanist attitude that previously launched benevolent initiatives would be subsumed by a mainstream malice unequalled in our short history as a modern state. Largely unopposed now for three decades, the self-destructive nature of that malice is clear. What we do as a society about this disease is anyone’s guess; it certainly won’t be addressed by America’s power elite.
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here