||CHAPTER 8: WORLD-HISTORIC CONSCIOUSNESS VS. SECTARIANISM||Page 26|
Sectarianism can take various forms, although in today's world, sectarianism is usually marked by anti-communism in one form or another. Taking up the cause of nonviolent opposition to U.S. racism and nuclear weapons in the 1960's, A.J. Muste remarked that:
we are not any longer a sectarian - using the term in a good sense - movement, existing apart from the main political decisions and affecting them only in a very long-range and indirect sense. We now function in mass movements.
But Muste learned of sectarianism from bitter experience. During the 1930's, while most of the peace movement was joining together to fight against the rise of fascism, Muste took what he later called a "detour" into work with a small radical sect of Trotskyites, which, under his leadership, came to be called "Musteites." And after World War II, caught in the quagmire of anti-communism, he refused to take part in the greatest attempt to stop the Cold War, the Progressive Party campaign for Wallace in 1948, because of what he perceived as its "heavy Communist influence." Later, however, during the Vietnam War, Muste overcame sectarianism and played a major role in refusing to exclude Leftist groups and welcoming all organizations into the growing anti-war coalition.
World-historic consciousness brings history and psychology together into an inseparable unity. In contrast to the individualist approach that consider freedom as "freedom from the constraints of history," this approach to consciousness development sees true freedom as the freedom that comes when individuals take part in shaping the history that, in turn, shapes them. In other words, world-historic consciousness is "freedom through history." In the words of Debs, you find yourself by making history.
You will lose nothing; you will gain everything. Not only will you lose nothing but you will find something of infinite value, and that something will be yourself. And that is your supreme need - to find yourself - to really know yourself and your purpose in life. You need to know that it is your duty to rise above the animal plane of existence. You need to know that it is for you to know something about literature and science and art. You need to know that you are verging on the edge of a great new world.
At the end of the speech, which is the speech for which he was tried and imprisoned because he called for non-cooperation with World War I, Debs called upon his listeners "to build the new nation and the free republic. We need industrial and social builders. We Socialists are the builders of the beautiful world that is to be."
The freedom of world-historic consciousness is also a burden, because it is the quality of leadership rather than the quality of an individual. The leader is responsible to all who look to him or her for leadership, which can be a heavy and difficult responsibility. Coretta Scott King describes the burden that the Nobel Peace Prize placed upon her husband:
What was the deeper meaning of all this - some meaning that we were not yet able to understand? For this was not just a prize for civil rights, but for contributing to world peace. Though we were very happy, both Martin and I realized the tremendous responsibility that this placed on him. This was, of course, the greatest recognition that had come to him, but we both knew that to accomplish what the prize really implied, we still had a long way to go. It was a great tribute, but an even more awesome burden.
World-historic consciousness corresponds to the ancient religious belief in immortality,. By engaging one's life with the development of history, the peace and justice activist becomes an integral part of an undying human tradition. In his obituary for Sandy Pollack, the Cuban ambassador to the United States, H. E. Oscar Orama expressed this in the form of poetry:
Sandy You are tomorrow.
(end of Chapter 8)