Tag Archive: politics


I’m having trouble processing the political situation in this world today, and, coupled with the difficulties, uncertainties, and fears of my own life, I’m losing hope.

New video footage of law enforcement killing a Black person surfaces so regularly, it’s as though the police’s strategy is to just keep ramping up the murder until the public becomes numb to it. Are the acquittals intended to send the message that the people will never win? How much absence of justice will the people accept until they “accept” the fact that there is no justice?

There are only two possible responses to this absence: giving up, or resistance. The system wants us to give up. The families and friends of the victims of police violence want us to resist.

Of course I would like things to get better, to calm down, to carry through to some kind of justice. But I know they aren’t going to, not without a fight, a mass struggle. Black people, simply by existing, by living peaceful lives, by struggling and surviving and doing what needs to be done, threaten the narrative of white supremacy in America. And so, more are being killed. This is to say nothing of those African-American voices that speak up clearly and unequivocally against this narrative, those African-American bodies who actively put themselves between the oppressor and the oppressed.

As more resistance rises, more people will die. It is the way of resistance, and it is hard to hear our consciences whispering it into our inner ear. “Things will get worse before they get better” is only one way of looking at it. It is not so much that conditions in society must get much worse before “society starts to care” about racist violence. The bulk of American society doesn’t care and generally isn’t going to. Those who say they care aren’t going to do anything about it, while the rest of American society is openly racist. We mustn’t wait for this society to start to care.

A clearer picture would be, “a thousand good guys must die in order to take down one bad guy. And then the fight has only just begun.”

This inescapable, dialectical fact scares me. As much as I want the revolution to happen, this type of continued destruction and death scares me into wishing it wasn’t necessary, wishing there was a safe way out for all of us. I just don’t know if there is. I don’t want anyone to die.

But I don’t see anything changing anytime soon. Body cameras will “malfunction.” Training will be flawed. Community policing will prove to be the idealistic liberal fantasy we already know it is.

People will advocate for these reforms, and while they are being tested on the flesh of Black bodies and proven ignominious failures at addressing the core problem, more lives will be lost on the road to real change, the road to revolution.

My sadness comes from knowing I will probably not be there to see it. But my hope is that humans of the future will be readier than we are, more knowledgeable, and more aware that the destruction of the current social order and financial system is a worthwhile goal if it means the creation of a world in which a person gets shot for being a racist, and not for being a race.

 

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This is not meant to glorify mental affliction, but rather to explore what it is, where it comes from, and its function. It is not inherently linked to revolutionary inclination or consciousness; rather, some of it is the result of a society which demands the compromise of one’s conscience in exchange for the ability to “function” normally in that society—and for the greater ability to benefit from that compromise—and some natural psychological response patterns represent the capacity, the inclination, and the desire to resist these demands.

It is easy to see our mental symptoms as signs of weakness, as disgraceful and unseemly symbols of our own softness of character. From one perspective, they do weaken us to the onslaughts of daily life, the type which demands total complicity in an unfolding future to which we would rather not give our consent.

If only there was some pill to take that made us “just do it,” “just say yes,” or just ask “how high” whenever we are told to jump. But there are too many barriers, those which connote a sensitive nature, between our wills and the aims of our demanders.

Too many of us were raised with levels of privilege sufficient to grant access to the question why: why is what is “required,” required? Why are we being forced into this way of life in whose creation and shape we had no influence, but to which we are expected to either conform, or if we would not have it thus, to change entirely on our own when all the wise and wizened voices are entrenched against us, or to leave altogether if we don’t like it (and some of us do, for pity)?

Why does this seem such a simple demand, yet it quakes our bellies to contemplate fulfilling it? Why is it being demanded of me, when it only benefits those whose interests are as invisible as they are, yet their influence is as palpable and seemingly ubiquitous as snow in a blizzard?

Our “infirmities,” shaped by our chemistry, our upbringing, or our observations, are saying no on our behalf. They are telling us not to deal with “reality,” that we are not able to handle, to cope, to function. We are not able to accept and move on, to stay calm, to swallow. Our stomachs are upside-down for a reason.

This land, this language, these laws do not inspire insouciance. Or gross obedience. Our smile is reserved for ourselves when, for a brief moment, we feel at peace or a memory of peace or an idea of peace or of truly “living.” Meanwhile, we are required not only to compromise our hearts and minds, but also take up arms against them, to ravage them, to bury them, as we would the native enemy. We are required to conform, to consent, to forget there ever was a conflict between “what is” and “what should be.” The power of all of the forces beyond our control—the repressive and the ideological—are organized against us and that power is growing every day, commensurate with the growing level of powerlessness, incompetence, impotence, failure, and apparent halfheartedness of any organization of resistance that existed before or since. It seems there used to be outlets for people who dissented; there used to be an active community of antiestablishment freaks, for better or for worse.

Now, almost all such organizations demand first that we compromise, the type of compromise that created the situation in which we find ourselves. The only mechanism that works correctly is our conscience, scooting between the fragments of our thoughts as vague detachment, observant melancholy, itching fear, or the prospect of total paralysis in the face of a world that doesn’t care if you die—that didn’t care if you ever lived—but only that you succeed at the role to which you’ve been assigned: fool, simpleton, idiot, puppet, charlatan, traitor, taker, navel-gazer. And in our hearts we refuse to play these roles, even as we don the costumes and makeup and inquire as to the rate of pay.

It is a sad but liberating truth that part of our strength lies in our fears, angers, depressions, and anxieties, and only when we can listen to ourselves and to each other, no matter how much our hands and voices shake, and direct our feelings and thoughts at the society which produced them—as it produces so many criminals, addicts, indigents, and indolents that it would rather never acknowledge, address, or redeem—can we hope to wrestle the definition of progress away from “well-adjusted” people and derail their legacy: a perpetual shuffle in lockstep of our people, our planet, our potential, towards irrevocable doom, not psychic, not of the self, but of the thing itself. Suicide, seemingly originating from within so that the victim and her lack of strength can be blamed, in the face of mounting fear.

Our hope rests on moving the fight from the homefront to the enemy’s doorstep, from within against ourselves to without against “reality,” which is not a fixed and eternal concept just as we are not. Reality can be made just, just as our feelings of disgust can be justified, just as they can be clarified, directed, distilled down to their essence, and turned into weapons against those whose only weapon is coerced compromise, whose only refrain is “life is unfair, get used to it,” all while they make the rules, or got used to them long ago. They compromised their conscience, and look where it got them: doing the masters’ work for them, criticizing and crushing the hearts and minds of children, and making us brace ourselves to go silently through the meat-grinder, only because they can’t bear to hear us scream.

(disclaimer: I’m not trying to put ALL Baby Boomers into one category by what I write about here. I’ve spoken to a number of Boomers who don’t espouse the views that I describe below; I’m just trying to respond to the loudest description of my generation that I keep hearing repeated over and over by folks who are a generation older than me, and whose standpoints pervade the media, but whom I try to remember aren’t representative of everyone, just as a few of any large group shouldn’t be construed as representative of the entire population.)

I’m getting really tired of hearing folks talk about how my Millennial generation “doesn’t want to work” and “wants everything given to us for free.” Let’s just say there was any truth to that whatsoever.

WHO THE FUCK RAISED US? YOU DID!

So now that that’s clear, let’s discuss some of our supposed values. Millennials apparently don’t seem to want to follow the whole “go to college, get a job, get married, have kids” routine as much as our parents did. Why do you suppose that is?

95% OF YOU ARE DIVORCED.

and

DOING WHAT SOCIETY TOLD YOU TO DO WORKED OUT GREAT FOR YOU, DIDN’T IT?

I’m going to come back to this whole job-hating standpoint that is attached to us. Old fogies are saying their sons and daughters are too lazy to go out and “find a job” by “knocking down doors.”

These older people tell us that trying to do the things that we’re passionate about is “not good enough” and a “waste of time” and “no one makes real money on the internet.”

First off,

THE WORLD IS DIFFERENT NOW, GRANDPA. GET OVER IT. “APPLY ONLINE” IS NOT A REQUEST.

And secondly:

WHERE ARE THE JOBS? YOU PUT A BUNCH OF SCUMBAG PRIVATIZERS AND NEOLIBERALS (DEMS AND GOP) IN POWER WHO OUTSOURCED ALL THE JOBS, MADE BILLIONAIRES RICHER, AND CRUSHED ALL THE UNIONS.

We want things handed to us on a silver platter, without having to work for them.

YOU’RE THE ONES WHO BROUGHT US UP WITH PSEUDO-AFFLUENT CREDIT-BASED MIDDLE-CLASS VALUES THAT SEEMED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH GERMAN CARS AND MARGARITA-MAKERS EVEN THOUGH YOU WERE STILL CONSTANTLY WORRYING ABOUT MONEY AND WHICH WAS ALL A BANK-DESIGNED FARCE AND ULTIMATELY BIT YOU IN THE ASS.

They want to make us feel bad for having no values, goals, or passions, for “never playing outside anymore,” for being soft and flighty and fickle and over-medicated. Never mind that they’re the ones who medicated us, who bought us a million types of screens (on credit) just to distract us. A bigger point is this:

IF YOUR HIPPIE MOVEMENT HADN’T COMPLETELY FAILED TO ACHIEVE CHANGE AND YOU HADN’T ALL SOLD OUT TO THE SYSTEM, MAYBE WE WOULDN’T BE DISENCHANTED AND NIHILISTIC, OR MAYBE WE (AND OUR SPOUSES) WOULDN’T NEED TO COMPROMISE WHAT WE DO BELIEVE IN AND THROW ANY ACTUAL PASSIONS WE DO HAVE DOWN THE TOILET IN ORDER TO GET SOME FULL-TIME SOUL-SUCKING JOB JUST FOR BASIC NECESSITIES (LIKE YOU DID).

As I just hinted, or rather said outright, they want us to get business degrees and other credentials that completely negate our actual interests so that we can “follow in their footsteps.” Well where do those footsteps lead?

CORPORATE MISERY, DIVORCE, WORRYING ABOUT MONEY, HAVING A BIGASS MORTGAGE, STRESS- AND LIFESTYLE-INDUCED ILLNESS, AND FEWER SAFETY NETS SO THEY’LL BE EVEN MORE DEPENDENT ON US.

They think we’re ignorant.

WHO ALLOWED SCHOOLS TO BE DEFUNDED AND PRIVATIZED?

What kind of a world did they create for us?

POOR, POLLUTED, WAR-TORN, VIOLENT, AND RUN BY IGNORANT RACIST PSYCHOPATHS WHO ARE PART OF *THEIR* GENERATION.

So what the fuck are they blaming us for? Where’s the humility? Where’s the shame? I’d like to hear one, JUST ONE, Baby Boomer say something along the lines of, “Gee, ya’ll got kinda fucked over by us.”

So you’re angry with us? You’re disappointed with us?

BIG FUCKIN’ DEAL. I’M A DAMNED ADULT NOW AND YOUR ANGER DOESN’T MEAN SHIT. I’M ANGRY TOO, LESS ABOUT YOUR STUPID MINDSET AND MORE ABOUT HOW FUCKED UP THIS WORLD IS, AND SOON MY GENERATION WILL CONTROL THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, LIKE IT OR NOT.

If that scares the shit out of you, you might try changing how you interact with us.

And no I’m not “playing the victim.”

I’M TRYING TO HAVE MY STANDPOINT UNDERSTOOD AND ACKNOWLEDGED SO THAT I CAN MOVE PAST MY PERSONAL BULLSHIT AND START CLEANING UP THIS CLUSTERFUCK THAT YOU CREATED AND TAKE NO FUCKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR!!!!!

Is that so much to ask? You better be nicer to us. We’re getting sick of hearing about it.

Note: the names of specific groups have been changed to prevent unnecessary drama. Not that anyone reads this blog but still…


Recently, in my political group, Group A, we discussed the tactics of the United Front and its slightly deranged cousin, the Popular Front. A United Front is defined as an alliance of similarly-thinking groups, which excludes capitalist or non-working class groups and parties, to obtain a common goal. Groups who may disagree on a host of other issues are then able to work together. A central advantage of this tactic for smaller groups is that they gain greater access to the masses by allying with the larger groups.

A Popular Front, by contrast, is a such a group which includes those capitalist and non-working class groups in an attempt (seemingly) to widen the struggle and obtain greater success. Anticapitalists working alongside capitalist political parties like Democrats or Libertarians (which often comprise the largest group) have repeatedly, throughout history, led to the undermining of the revolutionary movement either because, a) the non-working class capitalist parties weren’t willing to go beyond the original common goal and seek the destruction of their own social system upon which their comfortable existence is dependent, or, according to Group A and most every other Trotskyist group, b) Stalinism brought about the dilution of the revolutionary fervor by coercion, co-optation, or basically selling out to pro-capitalist forces.

The three most common examples of a United Front gone Popular—and leading to the subsequent undermining of the otherwise imminent revolution—is Germany in the 1920s and France and Spain in the 1930s. In all of these cases, reactionary behavior on the part of the capitalists or Stalinism (or both) is to blame. In the case of Spain, the anarchists embraced the Popular Front put forth by the USSR under Stalin, in order to continue receiving Soviet weapons in exchange for Spanish gold. So there is an example in which the USSR’s military superiority allowed it to degrade the revolutionary potential of another country in order to maintain that country within its sphere of influence, rather than allowing it grow and develop as its own socialist country.

Obviously, this account depicts the USSR in a very negative light, an imperialistic light. I know of several folks who would defend the USSR and counter that Trotsky and his various supporters have done more to undermine the cause of communism/socialism throughout the world simply by facilitating the vilification of the USSR and communism in general through obstreperous critique. They see such rhetoric as counterrevolutionary. I’m not here to contribute my “take” on this issue, and frankly I’m not even sure how relevant it is to the revolution today.

What I would like to ask is, why is United Front seemingly held up as a main tactic by the organized radical Left today, when it has failed so many times in history to succeed? It has created the conditions BY WHICH “Stalinists” or whatever class enemies exist to co-opt and undermine any revolutionary potential. The United Front is corrupted and replaced with the Popular Front. It has happened again and again. Maybe there are great examples that I am missing but it sure seems like every time it’s the same old story: “We had a great United Front going and then, ALL OF A SUDDEN, it was corrupted and turned into a Popular Front! WHAT THE HELL MAN?!”

The whole idea of creating a “Front” is to widen the struggle, increase the number of people involved, and strengthen resolve around one or two main issues or goals, which is important because socialist groups tend to be fixated only on the goal of “socialism,” which in their estimation is the answer to everything and whose lack is the cause of all of society’s ills (which I actually largely agree with). Being against everything in society (as I also am, basically) sometimes makes their struggle seem and feel unfocused in terms of its material objectives. So a United Front, organized around one issue like war, racism, labor difficulties, or police brutality is undoubtedly useful.

But what happens when we join hands with people with whom we ideologically disagree? The best example I can think of is Group A working with the (much larger) Group B on issues like antiwar. Group B has endorsed Democrats. It has supported figures in Asia and the Middle East that Group A would never support. It is essentially an ideological adversary of Group A. When the theoretical “revolution comes,” Group A and Group B will be fighting each other for dominance of their ideology, and guess which side will win? The currently 65-member Group A, or 700+ member Group B? And what will happen to the great, wonderful United Front that brought us to this highly theoretical point? It will (from Group A’s perspective) be “corrupted,” because Group B is bigger, has more resources, and has more international allies (like some of those Asian and Middle Eastern figures).

Even now, the larger demonstrations that Group B organizes, and which Group A endorses as part of the United Front, often produce friction between the two groups. Group B folks hold up pictures of Bashar al Assad, while Group A and plenty of other groups would never endorse such a divisive figure. It is my opinion that Group B is so much larger partly because it provides black-or-white, for-or-against (“you’re pro-Assad or you’re pro-imperialism, you’re pro-North Korea/China/Iran/etc, or you’re pro-imperialism”) positions for people to take, which are more appealing to your “average” revolutionary than “middle of the road” approaches such as Group A’s, largely because such positions are more actionable. To be fair, from this perspective, Group B is more effective—“gets more shit done,” in its own words—because of these less idealistic positions.

I’m not saying there is no validity to supporting Syria, China, et cetera to some degree, nor should popular hyperbolic anti-Stalin or anti-USSR rhetoric be accepted without question. Indeed, Group A is a big fan of Lenin, as is Group B. Again, my goal is not to critique Group A or Group B in particular. It is draw attention to the intrinsic flaw of the United Front as a tactic, one for which it needn’t necessarily be abandoned but for which it must be critiqued: it creates the material conditions by which it completely fucks itself over. We can’t expect groups who only agree on abstractions (“Socialism yes! Capitalism no!”) to work effectively or sustainably together when they disagree on so many particulars. Can we?

So what is the answer? To not work together? Small groups like Group A risk complete irrelevance if they eschew the types of large-scale demonstrations and actions that Group B puts together. On the other hand, Group B is irrelevant compared to the Democratic Party or similar reformist (read: massive) groups like Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. So how does Group B maintain any relevance or appeal, except by working with pro-capitalist groups and espousing harsh for-or-against binaries?

The radical Left has been asking the same question for some time: by what means do we maintain relevance? Is it the labor movement? The Black Lives Matter movement? The antiwar movement? The student struggle? But “relevance” is the wrong question. The question should be, how do we help people? Whom are we helping, and do they WANT our help? Is our “help” based on an understanding of the class dynamics in place, the material conditions? What good is an understanding of dialectics if we continue to work against other “socialists”?

On a deeper level, though we would accuse another group of fighting to preserve the current system, does our fight depend on preserving a system of perceived resistance that is flawed, oppressive, and counterrevolutionary (I’m talking about unions now)? Is it, again, a situation in which we feel we must defend whatever nominally or symbolically socialist groups and structures that are in place, no matter how flawed they are, because “they’re the best we’ve got”?

To be honest, I don’t know. But a new paradigm is needed. The consumeristic march forward continues unabated. Anti-union and austerity measures are on the rise. Voter turnout is low: 40 to 50% of Americans either do not care enough about the outcome of elections, or don’t feel any candidate sufficiently represents their interests, to take part in them. Ignorance and apathy are two sides of the same coin, much like Democrats and Republicans. And as long as people can get a new iPhone, car, or huge-screen TV, there is just not enough hardship for them to rise up against; no amount of talking about the oppression of Palestinians, the murder of young Black men, or oil wars in the Middle East will change that. They are hardened, they are calcified, they are determined. It’s a cynical viewpoint but there is some realism to it.

But I’ll admit, maybe it’s just me. I’m feeling a little lost these days.

Maybe there is no need for an entirely new paradigm. Maybe the current one just needs to be reimagined. I guess I’ll talk to a few people and get to work on that.

I just realized something. It has to do with the “anarchists” and “revolutionaries” I read and hear about who say things like, “Some say [life without governmental oversight] is impossible, that without governmental authority we’d descend into violence, lawlessness, and corruption. But look around, isn’t that pretty much what we have now?” (from an AKPress catalog) To which I sternly reply, No. You want lawlessness? Try Libya, Somalia, Colombia, places where you can get killed at any time by either side of a war in which you have no say and no stake. In America, we have rule of law, we have effective police and firefighting forces, we have services, hospitals, schools. Don’t try to tell me we’re doing as badly as certain other countries, countries without rule of law. If you think America is a failure because we haven’t had any revolutions lately (unlike Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya, who have all been ruled by the same greedy dictators for decades), then you don’t know what a revolution is for.

And that’s what I really believe.

However, that’s not what I realized. I knew all of that already. A person such as myself, who holds moderate pragmatic (as opposed to idealistic) political viewpoints, accepts things for what they are and assumes a certain positivity, that things are organized, not in a dystopian, inhuman bureaucracy that actually seeks to hurt and oppress people, but for mankind’s general benefit.

The dystopian view may actually summarize the beliefs of the anarchist or revolutionary. Neither of these terms—Anarchist, Revolutionary—should be used without extreme consideration as to their actual meanings. But it occurs to me that neither should the word Moderate.

Moderate means I’m not willing to see the government and its forces as negative, or to actively or reactively resist them or conscientiously refrain from utilizing them. Even while I’m reminded of my impatience and disappointment with President Obama everyday in the newspapers (after getting suckered by his Change rhetoric), I still can’t face my feeling: how much this system and its constituent parts, its linchpins, enablers, and support system, really bother me, frustrate me, anger me. Despite all of the good things that Americans do have—if I call 911, an ambulance will be here within a half-hour (try that in Italy; I’ve heard stories)—it hurts me to see that my government is being run by a bunch of greedy, reactionary, complacent, self-serving, promise-welshing, lie-spewing, racist, ageist, anti-poor, corporatist scumbag puppets. It really, really does. And all of my moderate beliefs—that reform is the key, patience is a virtue, that a vote is a powerful thing, that things will work out and that “the curve of history bends towards justice” (spoken by a revolutionary)—seem to serve another purpose than the fading smile on my face. In fact, they serve the purpose of complacency, of staying at home and not getting involved, keeping my anger pent up and “managed” so I can go on with my life, secure in the trust that our System is ultimately watching out for me and will continue to do so.

And yet where did that trust originate? In oil wars? In party politics? In media manipulation? In trustbusting? On Wall Street? In the Patriot Act? In the promises of change, unfulfilled and forgotten like a child’s promise to do his homework after one more round of Nintendo? The game continues, while the homework remains undone.

Here is my realization, to whit: All of my beliefs are an excuse, and in fact an apology for these transgressions, so I can stay at home and carry on and smugly critique the rationality of those who don’t hide their anger. Perhaps we have rule of law, yes, but we’re also witnesses to the failure of the human element in government to live up to America’s potential as a Law-ruled society. Why can’t lawmakers legislate with their consciences instead of their calculations? We could be doing so many great things for ourselves, but it seems like each day brings another failure, another injustice, against workers, the poor, minorities, women. I guess maybe my mistake is believing in America. As long as that belief exists, I’m doomed to feel like a victim, while those who are no longer moderates—who have decided they see America as it is and not as it should be—have some semblance of self-respect.

Perhaps the key is finding positivity within Reality—the way things actually are—instead of within vague mental assumptions. For example, I assume the best in people and in the world. A real “benefit of the doubt” kind of guy. But I leave myself vulnerable. That vulnerability has haunted me my entire life. Were I to change that about myself, I would need to seek something else positive to look for. Maybe that thing is a new Me, unvictimized, unafraid, skeptical, questioning. Or perhaps it is the community of likeminded people who are similarly free from the victimization of unfounded positivity. Moderation becomes dangerous as one grows older; it tempts one to become close-minded. The sense of “okayness,” the assumed benevolence of government and mankind, serves to prolong detachment from reality, to avoid really thinking about the world and America and how shitty things are, and especially to avoid accountability for that state of affairs. And I can see that kind of self-delusion spreading into other parts of a person’s life to whom it becomes a habit.

Visions of a better future, that fuel a revolution, are positivity’s only real purpose. Belief in the American dream could catalyze change in the right person. That’s the kind of positivist I’d like to be. But short of that objective (which makes America-hating, zombie-apocalypse-anticipating “anarchist” grumblers look like fatalists and perhaps even moderates in their own right), complacency is its outcome. I really do believe it doesn’t serve anyone to wish for a violent revolution in America, in fact to do so wishes harm on innocent people like in Libya, Somalia, or Colombia. But whom does it serve to assume that things will work themselves out? Literally, no one.