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My Baccalaureate Speech to the John Cabot University Graduating Class of 2010

May 27, 2010

Having been elected by the students of the graduating class, I gave the following speech on May 16 at the Baccalaureate event at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy, where I am Chair of Political and Social Sciences for a few more months, but where I have been denied tenure and so won’t be returning next Fall. Here is the text of the speech:

What do I know ? What must you do? What may we hope?

First Annual Graduation Baccalaureate Speech

John Cabot University – May 16, 2010

Steven Colatrella

“Your Honor, many years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living things. And I saw that I was not one bit better than the lowliest thing on Earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

These words were spoken by one of my heroes, Eugene Debs, moments after a jury had convicted him of having given speeches against American entry into World War I, a criminal offense at the time, and shortly before the court sentenced him to several years in Atlanta Penitentiary, where he would still be a prisoner a couple of years later when in the 1920 election he received 6 percent of the vote for President of the United States.  As Casey Stengel, the great New York Yankees’ manager used to say, “you could look it up.” But it is not the trajectory of Debs’ life that I am interested in today, but rather the meaning we can derive from the words that I have quoted you from the beginning of his great speech, and in particular, the universalist message that they contain. Because today I am going to call on you, the graduating class of 2010, to begin a comparable and new universalist project appropriate to our own times.

We hear in Debs’ words echoes of the other great universalist projects in human history. We hear echoes of the Buddha’s call that we have compassion for all living things; we hear echoes of the practice of the ancient Israelites and other peoples in the ancient Middle East, of the Jubilee Year, as described in chapter 25 of Leviticus in the Old Testament, in which prisoners were released, slaves freed, debts cancelled and the land returned to its original owners; we hear echoes of Jesus’ call that we feed the hungry, heal the sick, and visit those in prison; and we hear echoes of Mohammad’s call that, as children of one God, we recognize the need to create a community in which all will  be protected and all will have a place regardless of how marginal or rejected they have been. We hear echoes of the American and French Revolutions: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, liberty, equality and fraternity. And of course we hear echoes of the modern labor and socialist movements of which Debs himself was a leader.

Today I am going to ask you, in my comments, to begin to construct a universalist project for the 21st century that follows in the legacy of these other great universal, humanist projects in human history. My talk takes its title, steals its title really, from three famous questions asked by the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. He asked, “What should I know? What must I do? What may I hope?” I have rearranged the wording a bit to make these questions appropriate to a speech before a graduating class and so I have titled my talk, “What do I know? What must you do? and What May we hope?” The three parts are not equal – the first part is by far the longest, because, I am sorry to tell you, it contains all the bad news. The other two are more optimistic, but therefore also briefer, so don’t worry when you see I am not yet finished with the first part.

So, what do I know? I know that you, the graduating class of 2010, are about to graduate into the wider world outside these university walls at a time of unprecedented global crisis. Two aspects of this crisis, the economic crisis, and the ecological crisis, I am not going to say very much about. These two crises are in the news a lot, they are much commented on, so I will say very little about them and talk more about two other aspects, the political and the intellectual aspects of the crisis we are living through globally.

Of the economic crisis I will say only that unemployment remains around 10% in both the US and the Euro Zone, that one in three children in the US is in danger of losing their home and that every time they tell us that the worst is over, we find out that this is not true. You are, I am afraid, about to find out more about this aspect of the crisis as you hit the job market, at least those of you not going straight on to graduate school.

Of the ecological crisis I will also say very little. Some of you know more about it than I do, you have taken Prof. Kneller’s course on global warming. And it also is well known – the glaciers, forests and wetlands are receding, the deserts are expanding and we have, in what is euphemistically called an oil spill, punched a hole right into the ocean floor which is spewing oil directly out into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening marine life there and perhaps around the world.

But it is in politics and international affairs, two subjects that I teach, that I at least, see the crisis even more clearly. Please bear with me as I take you on a short trip around the world. In Britain there were elections recently. For the first time in decades there was no clear winner, and there is a coalition government. The single most popular individual politician, Nick Clegg, has a Dutch mother, a Russian father, a Spanish wife speaks four languages and has worked most of his career for the European Union. This is not a typical British resume. In France, the President, Nicolas Sarkozy is the son of a Hungarian immigrant , his wife is Italian and his opponent in the election, Segolene Royal sought to become the first woman president of France. The leader of the third largest party in France, the Green party leader Dany Cohn-Bendit, excuse me, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, it is an old habit of people like me to call him “Dany”, is a founder of the German Green Party, a German citizen of Jewish descent. In Germany itself, Angela Merkel is of course the first woman Chancellor of Germany, but she is also the first leader from the Eastern part of that country in a long time. The leaders of the German Greens, meanwhile, are Ced Ozdemir, the son of Turkish immigrants, and Claudia Roth, a woman, a rock musician and an artist. In Iceland the prime minister is a leftist and open lesbian. Even here in Italy, where nothing ever seems to change, the supposedly conservative region of Puglia has elected and re-elected Nikki Vendola, a gay communist as regional president.

In the United States, our current President, Barack Obama, is of course the first African-American president, but he is also the first president to not have all of his ancestry come from the British Isles or Germany. He is the son of a Kenyan immigrant. He is born in Hawaii, the last state to enter the Union, and one that, except for Senator Inouye, has until now played no real role in our national politics. He spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. His wife, the First Lady, is the descendent of slaves. His main opponent in the primaries for the nomination of his party, our current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, sought to become the first woman President of the United States. His opponent in the general election was born in the Canal Zone in Panama.

In Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Paraguay, for the first time in 500 years, the leaders of those countries are indigenous people, American Indians.  In Brazil, the president was homeless as a child, was an auto worker, a strike leader, and union militant. In South Africa, the generation of the ruling ANC that ended apartheid has been rejected by their own rank and file in favor of Jacob Zuma. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, in power for 30 years, really lost the last presidential election, though he continues to hang on to power. In Kenya, where the president also remains in power despite having lost an election, the winner was a Luo, a member of an ethnic minority. In Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first woman president. In Egypt, the largest strike wave by workers in the history of the Middle East has been going on for months now, and has begun to make links with the new movement to change the constitution whose leader is Mohammad El Baradei, who is mainly known until now for his international work as a UN weapons inspector.

In India, the most powerful politician and leader of the world’s largest democratic political party is Sonia Gandhi, an Italian woman, and the Dalit and scheduled castes continue to vote in large numbers for parties that claim to represent their interests, while a quarter of the entire country is occupied by Maoist Naxalite guerrilas. In Japan, the opposition Democratic Party won the elections for the first time since World War II. In Thailand, Asia’s version of the French Revolution is happening as we speak, as the rural and urban poor, excluded from power for centuries, have been occupying the capital for months, demanding democracy and challenging the traditional urban elites, the monarchy and the military, and getting gunned down in the streets for it. In Nepal, the monarchy was recently overthrown and Maoists won the first free election.

Further, since Kosovo declared independence two years ago, the Lakota Indians have declared independence on that precedent, laying claim to an area larger than France, and the Palestinian Authority plans to declare independence sometime next year.

All around the world, people are rejecting the traditional elites of their countries. I would say you could safely lay money on the likelihood that the next Pope will be from Latin America. Any individual election appears to be the result of this or that local cause, but when seen together we see a vast pattern emerging. People everywhere are rejecting traditional elites. But the philosopher Hegel teaches us to look for the beginnings of a new universal, the Determination, in every negation. So people are not just rejecting old powers, they are trying to hand power over to groups that have been excluded from government for decades, centuries, even millennia: women, indigenous people, ethnic minorities, immigrants or the children of immigrants, peasants, workers, lower castes, people with foreign or international instead of national experience, gays and lesbians. They are pushing the very limits of the patriarchal nation-state with its pretensions to a homogenous ethnic majority to the very extremes to see if it can still be used to meet their needs. They are pouring new wine into old bottles to see if they will break. Nothing like this on this scale has been seen since the Axial Age nearly three thousand years ago. Many of these movements and leaders and governments are quite moderate in their policies; some are on the left, some the right. But the overall message of the people electing them is to try handing power over to those in whom it has never before been entrusted, which speaks volumes.

But old wine is also being poured into new bottles at the same time. Having been kicked out of power in many countries, the elites, old and new, have been kicked upstairs. We all know that many of the crucial decisions that affect our lives are not taken any longer by elected governments at the national level, but by unelected bureaucracies or class forces at the global level: the European Commission, the IMF, Davos, the WTO, the self-appointed ratings agencies, and what are euphemistically called “markets”, namely the direct power of investors over elected governments.

No one believes in these institutions. Families do not crowd around their television sets in anticipation when the WTO meets or the G20 get together in the hopes that they will somehow find a solution to the ecological crisis or lift them out of their poverty. And when the IMF comes to town, they riot and strike and protest, the Greeks being the latest of these. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are the five largest arms dealers on Earth. These organizations do not have the people’s support around the world, they are not directly elected by anyone, they are not based on popular sovereignty and have no legitimacy in the eyes of most people. Democracy has not been in such peril since the Second World War. So there is a nutshell of the political crisis.

But I think many of you, especially those of you graduating today, perhaps of those of you from my generation this is less true, are not as aware that there is also at the same time today an intellectual crisis of epic proportions. Intellectual life was different when I was young than it is today. It included writers like Arnold Toynbee and Will Durant who told the general public about the history of civilization; psychologists like Erich Fromm and Victor Frankl who told us about freedom and the meaning of life; anthropologists like Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict told ordinary peopl about other cultures; Jane Jacobs and Lewis Mumford told us about the  history of the city and what was happening to it; Rachel Carson told us about what we were doing to nature; C.Wright Mills and Hannah Arendt told ordinary citizens that they had better gain control over government because things looked to be heading to a bad end; and philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus wrote novels and plays so that their ideas would reach a wider public. These were people who wrote mostly for common people, for the general public. Nothing like this really exists today. There are exceptions like Jared Diamond on civilization, but his work is focused only one issue, why one set of ethnic or racial communities won out over others, but at least he writes for the people on an important issue and against racist stereotypes; Arundhati Roy and Eduardo Galeano are other exceptions in India and Columbia respectively. In the United States Noam Chomsky looks to be the last of his kind, and were he coming up today he would be advised to stick to writing specialist articles on linguistics, the area he has his Ph.D. in and teaches, instead of writing what was last year the number one selling book on amazon.com, a work on US foreign policy.

For academics today are too obsessed with their own careers. Cranking out their peer-review articles that will be read by only a few specialists in their field, going to their conferences where they speak only to each other, saying more and more about less and less to fewer and fewer people. As a result of this unconscionable abdication of responsibility in a time of such grave crisis, there is no real public intellectual sphere today as there once was. Into this gap come the intellectual rebels, the postmodernists, who at least correctly acknowledge the depth of the intellectual crisis, its agents and its categories. But the problem is, the postmodernists are just as career and specialist-oriented as other academics, their work is harder to read than the mainstream stuff, and postmodernism has not answers or solutions to our problems. Indeed, it sneers at the idea that ideas are to help solve problems in the real world. It is a pose, an ironic stance, masquerading as a  philosophy, a fake left.

This might not be so bad if on the right things were any better, but American conservative intellectuals are honest enough today to be debating their own “epistemic closure” – their polite way of saying that they’re out of ideas too. In such circumstances we would ordinarily look to the arts, and to science for new ways of seeing things. But the arts, despite much fine work done by many good artists, have long ago themselves, like architecture, been infected with the postmodern virus, becoming self-referential and ironic. The last time an artist was well-known to the wider public (Keith Haring was mostly known to activists or people in certain important, but minority communities) may have been Andy Warhol, but his work already demonstrated a nascent postmodern ironic capitulation to consumer capitalism. The last artist to say something profound to the common people around the world that they noticed was probably Picasso, whose great work, Guernica, sits in the UN building in New York and had to be covered up, they literally put a blanket over it, when the world leaders were debating the war in Iraq, as they were too ashamed to discuss bombing a country with Picasso’s great painting staring down at them. Literature and film have done better – a novel like “What is the What” is international in production and scope, and a film like “Agora” is completely international in production and cast and speaks directly to some of the crises we are facing today. But film and literature have also faced the problem of corporate concentration of publishing houses and studios and the cultural dominance of Hollywood, or are often still caught within  language and national boundaries, limiting their audience.

The situation in science is worse. Once the instrument of great advances in human knowledge, science’s main methodology, Cartesian rationalism, with its basic approach of breaking things to find out what they are and how they work, has now been applied to the atom, the human genome, the DNA of plants and animals, and to genetically modifying the foods we eat. People around the world recoil in horror at the nightmare world that science in the service of profit or the military threatens to bring about. As for physics, one of the other great achievements of the human mind, physicists can do no better than to tell us that we are living in a pointless, finite universe that will one day come to a complete stop, that we are living meaningless lives on an insignificant speck of dust. In the face of such intellectual nihilism, combined with (and offering no solace to) social and economic injustice,  it is no surprise that many should be attracted to a cure that is worse than the disease, the various religious fundamentalisms around the planet. The intolerance and violence of these religious fundamentalisms of every sort have in turn led to the rise of the New Atheists, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, who seem determined to match the religious fundamentalist intolerance for intolerance, with their arrogant dismissal of and contempt for even open-minded religious people of good will. Is it any wonder that, the default winner of this non-debate is that perspective that is most convenient for the wealthy and powerful, the cartoon ideas of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman with their unique insight that the problem in the world is that people are not selfish enough and we have not yet applied the profit motive to everything? “We’re heading for the cliff” they cry, “step on the gas!”

But each of these crises, economic, ecological, political and intellectual, is only an aspect of the larger crisis. These are symptoms, effects, not causes. The real cause, the real crisis of which these are only aspects is a general crisis of civilization. Our current form of civilization is unsustainable, it cannot last as is. It is unsustainable in three main ways:

Its inequality is unsustainable. It has been estimated that the ratio of the income of the rich to that of the poor in ancient Athens was around 400 to one, while for the late Roman Republic it was around 20,000 to one. Well, CEO pay to the average worker’s income in the United States has now reached 400 to one a couple of years ago and has continued to rise, so we are beyond the levels of ancient Greece, a democratic society, but one with a hereditary aristocracy and slave owners. Meanwhile, the ratio between the income of the richest Americans – hedge fund managers and private equity managers, and the average income has now reached 16,000 to one, so we are about at Roman levels of inequality in the United States of America. But our civilization today is global, and when we look worldwide, the Romans look like bleeding heart liberals compared to us – the richest 200 people have incomes equal to those of the 3 billion poorest, of half of the human race, and the two richest men in the world, Carlos Slim and Bill Gates, each increased their overall holdings this past year, this year alone during a major world recession, from 120 to 170 billion dollars each. As nearly as I can do the math, the ratio between the richest people in the world the 2-3 billion that survive on about 2 dollars or so a day is around 10 million to one. That is unsustainable, it cannot last, and no civilization can, or should survive, that encompasses that level of inequality.

One aspect of this inequality relates to the intellectual crisis and its material roots. That is the growing abyss between “mental” and “manual” labor, or more precisely between a privileged few who are celebrities and everyone else. Michelangelo was a member of the stone cutter’s guild, a recognition that while everyone understood the difference in talent between the ordinary stone cutter and the greatest sculpture that ever lived, that difference was one of degree, they were of the same type, and indeed one who cut stone himself could appreciate all the more the skill of the best. Once baseball players and other athletes had jobs in the off season, working in sporting goods stores or bars to earn extra money, and many Americans and other ordinary people played the games they watched as members of organized teams. Again, by playing, they were better able to understand the skill of the professionals even if they could never have effectively competed against them. Democracy’s perspective is that of the amateur. Today, a few celebrities, a few highly sophisticated mathematicians on Wall Street developing derivatives, those who know how to run a Central Bank, to plan an economy at least of the sort we currently have, experience lives that have nothing in common with those of ordinary people and the work they do. Spinoza was once an ordinary, skilled lens crafter, Dante a member of the apothecaries’ guild. This gap between mortal humans as though some are gods and the rest of us the extras on Star Trek, expendable so the main cast can go on their adventures, is unsustainable, and a part of the overall inequality.

Second, our civilization’s debt is unsustainable. The world today is drowning in debt, and the fact that the debt crisis has now reached the democratic countries of western Europe should give us all pause. This is no longer, if it ever was, just a problem for people in third world countries anymore. The third world countries borrowed around 2 trillion dollars in the 1970s and 80s, and has paid back around 2.5 trillion and today it owes about 2 trillion dollars. Economics textbooks tell us of the magic of compound interest, but compound interest without limits is unsustainable: if you took a half a US penny in the year zero and added 5% compound interest up to today, the weight in gold of that value would be many times the weight of the planet Earth. Interest and debt cannot go on forever. That was the whole point of the reforms of Solon in ancient Greece that led to the invention of democracy whose precondition was abolition of debt slavery. That was the whole point of the Biblical Jubilee, that was the whole point of Julius Caesar’s debt cancellation policies. Debt cannot go on forever without destroying the freedom of the people. Whole countries today are in debt bondage. The poorest people in the world are said to owe the richest a huge sum of money that they never borrowed and in most cases never saw any benefits from. That is not sustainable.

Finally, our civilization is not ecologically sustainable. A system of endless growth, based on an unrestrained profit motive is not sustainable on a planet with finite resources. Ours is a society that has an actual incentive to create environmental destruction in order to fuel growth. The results are plain for everyone to see. This civilization cannot outlive the ecology of which we are all a part. In its present form, it is unsustainable, and will not last.

So this is the crisis we face. Now, what must you, the class of 2010, do? You must, quite simply, solve this crisis. Or at least you must begin to solve it. You must begin the perhaps century-long process, working each of you in your various fields, in the professions you choose and countries and locales you find yourselves, to create new forms that will change this civilization into a new one that is sustainable and democratic. You must create new forms of businesses and of organizing work, that are sustainable, that provide people with secure livelihoods and that make work again a fulfilling activity that creates useful things of beauty. You must invent new economic policies and institutions that distribute more fairly the wealth produced by everyone on this planet. You must, of course, get us off fossil fuels, and develop, plan, and implement and use renewal energy and transportation sources, but you must go farther than that. Our cities have long been organized around the automobile, our country side too, and our agriculture is itself based on chemical fertilizers and forms of mechanization, transportation and markets that are ecologically destructive. You must reorganize our cities to be more livable, and more sociable, change the way we produce food and transform the countryside. You must develop forms of science that see and tell us how things are connected to each other, instead of how to break them apart. You must develop new intellectual and artistic approaches that are appropriate to a global civilization that is based on a new, humanistic universality. This time such a humanism, such a universality must be real, the ensemble of social relations, not an abstract universal as Hegel would call it, like the European Union that unites the people of Europe in order to further divide them, and which they feel themselves no part of. Not a humanism only for Europeans or for whites or for men or for straight people. Not a universality for a few, like Davos, or today’s globalization. Instead, I believe you must work on syncretisms. On forms of cultural, literature, music, philosophy that bring together diverse strands and traditions, from every culture, every religious tradition, between religious and secular traditions, as happened during the Hellenistic period, or as rock n’ roll did. Rock n’ roll was based on black Delta blues and gospel, and on white Appalachian mountain music and country and western. Everyone could hear their own traditions, their own roots in it, but also participate in something new. We need such forms worldwide now. Syncretism is the opposite of fundamentalism, as it treats traditions and cultures as living entities that can still be refashioned anew to serve new generations, as Jefferson said of constitutions.

And you must reinvent democracy. You must find ways to create new forms of democratic decision-making, administration and participation at the local, regional, national, international, continental and global levels. You must restore legitimacy to public power, to the institutions of self-government everywhere in the world, so that everyone, everywhere on the Earth that goes to a town meeting, a village assembly, a neighborhood council, feels themselves a part of a worldwide democratic order.

This is what you must do. Nothing less than to put civilization once again on a sustainable basis and to make it democratic.

So what may we hope?

We may hope that you, the class of 2010, can accomplish this great task that I have just placed on your shoulders, as if you don’t have enough to worry about graduating from college tomorrow, or at least that you can begin to solve this crisis. you can solve it, because you are made to solve it. You were formed to solve it. What do I mean? “Humanity” wrote Karl Marx, “never sets itself such problems as it cannot solve.” “Accumulation of wealth at one pole” he wrote in his great work Capital, “always means accumulation at another pole of misery, slavery, degradation of work.” This is the world I described to you already. “But” Marx continued “with this grows a class…ever increasing in numbers, trained, united and organized by the very mechanism of capitalist production itself”. In 21st century language, what class is it that is the product of today’s social forces, that is trained, united, organized by the very mechanisms of 21st century life? If you will pardon my pun on the word class, it is of course you yourselves, the class of 2010. You have been to college, making you part of the more highly skilled and educated part of the workforce. You have in college learned, or learned how to get what you haven’t learned yet, the accumulated knowledge of humanity in every field over the centuries. You have studied overseas here in Rome, or, if Italian, you have studied at what is essentially a foreign university. Study abroad was a rarity when I was your age, today it is a mass reality – the many American overseas colleges and study abroad programs that you yourselves organized by hosting the student government conference of these schools here at John Cabot last year and the year before. The Erasmus program of the EU now involves over a thousand colleges and universities. So what was once a rarity, a luxury, is now a mass phenomenon.

You travel across national borders like fish take to water. You travel for conferences, for activities, to study elsewhere or for the weekend and to maintain friendships. Again, this was not common when I was your age, and I am not that old. You use the most up to date means of communication – facebook, twitter, YouTube, cell phones and the internet of course as if they were written into your DNA. You grew up with them, and you will take to whatever comes next with the same facility. You have grown up with our growing knowledge of the ecological crisis. you have never known a world where there were not global governance organizations. You take the WTO and World Bank for granted, and a United Europe for granted. My generation grew up during the Cold War, yours will not be amazed at the existence of global political order, but will ask what kind of order that should be, democratic or not, and in whose interests. So you were made to solve this crisis and to carry out this great task.

But you cannot do it alone. You will need allies. Now, I am almost finished, I only need another minute or two, but I have to tell you about Wendell Philips. Wendell Philips was a graduate of Harvard Law School, a great abolitionist. Now Harvard was started by money from the slave trade, but Wendell Philips almost single-handedly made up for that, with his uncompromising opposition and untiring work to end slavery. A little before the end of the Civil War, Wendell Philips gave a speech in which he said “the slave is the only part of the South that belongs to the 19th century”. By which he meant to the modern world, to Philips’ own century. Why was the slave the only modern part of the South? The slaveholders lived in a fantasy world, a make-believe Middle Ages in which they were Lords and Ladies and they believed in the inequality of skin color and blood. The slaves worked in groups, like modern industrial workers. They produced goods that were meant to be sold on the world market, like the cotton for the textile mills of the industrial revolution. They fought for freedom and equality. Everything about the slaves was modern, notwithstanding their ragged clothes and their illiteracy.

Today, in Europe and the United States, the only part of the society, other than yourselves and your educated counterparts that I have already spoken of, are the immigrants, the people I wrote about in my first book. They also move across borders as part of their being, they have relatives and experiences in many different countries, they are able to maintain social relations and communities across oceans and continents. Their remittance payments to their families are a major part of the world economy. They know about work and income and discrimination in various parts of the world, they know about things you don’t know. The average American doesn’t own a passport, the average European lives within the mental and political borders of his small nation-state. Ask an American about the IMF or a European about the WTO and chances are you will get a blank stare. Ask a Mexican or African and you will get an earful. These are the heirs of the great anti-colonial upheavals of the last century and of many revolutions and mass movements, and they too use the most up to date communications technologies to spread the word.

And there are others. The indigenous peoples of the Americas. These are not the Aztecs of the 15th century or the Cherokee of the 19th, who could be displaced, robbed or wiped out with impunity in isolation. They are running governments now, they just held a world summit of indigenous peoples on climate change in Bolivia. The women of rural India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, of the Middle East and Africa, they are often the only parts of their societies that belong to the 21st century. And the greatest social and political force in the world today, the working class in China, who produce all the manufactured goods of our material civilization today that we use all over the world, but who live under one of the most barbaric dictatorships of modern times. They too will fight for a democratic world. Everywhere you look you will find allies in this great task to transform civilization into a sustainable democratic order, that great task that you will begin tomorrow when you leave these college walls for the larger world outside, and that my own two-year old daughter’s generation will complete for you (so you can finally get some rest!). And when you begin it, we will all finally stand shoulder to shoulder in that courtroom with Eugene Debs as he stood tall and looked past his impending prison cell and saw a better future for humanity. And he told the court,

“When the mariner, sailing on tropic seas, looks for rest and relief from his weary watch, he turns his eyes to the Southern Cross, burning luridly above the tempest-vexed ocean. As the midnight approaches, the Southern Cross begins to bend, and the whirling worlds change their places, as with starry finger points the Almighty marks the passage of time on the dial of the universe. And though no bell beats out the glad tidings, the mariner knows that the midnight is passing, and that rest and relief are close at hand. Let the people, everywhere, take heart, and hope, for the cross is bending, the midnight is passing. And joy cometh with the morning.”

Congratulations to all of you. Thank you all, for everything. And in bocca lupo.   (Applause).

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March 22, 2010

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