Tag Archive: revolution


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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I don’t believe nature owes me anything, but I believe society does. Nature does not act with purpose; it just is. We perceive purpose in its actions, but it doesn’t. If the world ended tomorrow, nature wouldn’t care. It would just go on in a different form.

Nature is merely the means by which I am conceived and born. But society, in its various manifestations (parents, family, community, country, culture) is the cause, and society acts very much with purpose. No one asks to be born into this sniveling, pathetic excuse for a world filled with war, murder, racism, oppression, lifelong exploitation, childhood trauma, loss, sadness, disillusionment, confusion, and ultimately inevitable terrifying death. Rather, society asks that we be born, whether “society” means our parents who want to populate their lives with meaning, or whether it refers to culture, which tells our parents where meaning originates, or to our political system, which wants to prolong its “life” with a steady source of consumers and workers who all buy into that meaning. Society creates each individual person for these purposes which are alien to him or her; meanwhile, it creates or is complicit in all of its injustices and horrors.

In this way, while society brings us into existence, it presents us with very little besides the myriad reasons why we should regard that existence as a curse. The absolute and essential need for full-time employment makes alienated puppets of us all, contorting ourselves into our desk chairs or lifting and swinging hammers into concrete, turning our bodies into twisted, broken prisons consisting of one or another pain or preventable disease, and our minds into clenched fists of chronic stress that beat us into submission with refrains of “never enough time/money/status/possessions.”

“That’s life,” they tell us, as they were told.

Society wants to punish you for being born. It is completely ill-equipped to do anything else. Perhaps childhoods can be idyllic for some, but when “real life” takes hold, each person realizes what life has to offer, and uses what means are at his or her disposal to ignore this fact. Among the most common means for achieving this are drugs, alcohol, television, religion, unhealthy food, and expensive consumer goods at best; racism, xenophobia, patriotism, sexism, and imperialism at worst.

In essence, society brings us into this world and then gives us the means to kill ourselves, our hopes and dreams and aspirations for a better world. Rather than hand us a gun and have us blow our lives away, it prefers that we consume as much as possible before doing so, not because it eases any actual pain but because it enriches the people who benefit from society as it is. Mass infirmity, just like mass ignorance, makes those elements of society richer.

If we want to see any changes, however, we must not simply expect society to start giving us what it owes us. We must alter it as a whole. We must change its mechanism and purpose, from one that takes as much as it can from each citizen, to one that gives each citizen as much to live for—as much freedom, as much expression, as much value and worth, as much warmth and love and happiness, as much ethical fulfillment and consistency, as much support and solidarity, as much understanding—as possible.

That must be our goal. When we have accomplished it for everyone, we will have started to pay back the children of the world, and they will thank us, and then we can sleep peacefully, knowing they are safe.

A chat I had on the internet with a friend today prompted me to consider the implications of never being able to take a side.


 

ME: this is how i often feel re: politics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XEyGhLVOXU

[Anthony Quinn as Auda in “Lawrence of Arabia” exclaiming that “I must find something honourable!”]

MY FRIEND: lol good luck

ME: it’s a hapless stumble. everywhere lies compromise and breeds conflict

and strangely enough, it keeps me naive

MY FRIEND: better than being a sullen curmudgeon I suppose

ME: and with clean hands, perhaps what I dislike about it most of all


By looking for the perfect route, I take none. By being afraid of mistakes, I take no chances. By accepting no one, I am not an exception; I walk a common path. Fear of being wrong leads to Being Wrong with Fear. Believing that there is some neat, perfect path to take saves me from taking any, hence I never become hardened to adversity or challenge, nor do I amass experiences that make me feel capable and strong. No, indecision is a complete lack of acceptance of material conditions; not of their existence or their rightness or wrongness (I know they exist and are extremely wrong), but of their urgency versus my ability to “handle” them. I let myself believe that I can take a lifetime to decide–about WHAT to do, WHOM to follow–when in reality no decision is being made, no moves, no changes, and the multitudes are suffering. I know the problems are immediate, but I act as though they are not. So I might as well believe they are not. That is the bourgeois practice of indecision, just as it is the practice of all forms of complicity: what is not resisted is assisted.

Lately I’ve found I have a lot of trouble deciding on revolutionary issues. I’ve spoken to different groups–Maoist, Trotskyist, Luxemburgist, anarchist, Left Communist, Stalinist, Anarcho-Syndicalist, and others–for insights about the questions that plague me. The questions are both abstract and concrete, philosophical and practical, and reveal quite clearly that in the science of revolution, the space between abstract and concrete and philosophical and practical is extremely small. Here are some of the questions.

1) Move to communism all at once or in phases (transition)?

2) If all at once, does entire working class need to be class-conscious first (aware of function of class under capitalism)?

2a) If so, doesn’t that necessarily mean that the spreading of class-consciousness will be transitional (or gradual) in nature?

2b) If not, doesn’t THAT mean that part of the nature of the revolution will be coercive? Is there a level of coercion that we must be willing to accept, or can there truly be a level of class-consciousness whereby ALL workers hasten revolution? Won’t that take, like, 200 years to bring about? (see 2a)

3) What about the petit-bourgeoisie (bosses but not owners of means of production)? Will they be included in the struggle, or must they be overthrown?

4) What about non-proletarian radicals (members of bourgeois or petit-bourgeois who actively oppose capitalism)? Can they take part in the revolution or must they be overthrown in the service of smashing class privilege, or to prevent subversion/revisionism?

5) Who will lead the effort to spread class consciousness among the working class, and will it include bourgeois and/or petit-bourgeois radicals? Couldn’t this group of revolutionaries conceivably constitute a “vanguard” whether the word “vanguard” is used or not?

6) Will labor unions be central to the revolution or peripheral to it?

7) In situations like Syria and Ukraine, where both sides of the conflict are problematic, what position can anti-imperialist revolutionaries take besides “we hope a true revolutionary group eventually takes control and corrects this destructive situation” as I see in so many socialist papers (often said when there is no strong revolutionary force in that country)? In the cases I mention, is it worth alienating populations who hate Assad or who hate Putin/Russia by siding with them as “anti-imperialist forces”? Doesn’t it diminish our credibility as radicals by siding with them when, in Assad’s case, he has sold out Palestine and collaborated with NATO, and in Putin’s case, led a slaughter in Chechnya, suppressed political dissent, and discriminated against LGBTQ people?

7a) However, it doesn’t make sense either to by default side with any and all “opposition forces,” because they are capable of being just as flawed and evil as the figures/governments they’re opposing. So what do we do?!?!?! Is it necessary to, in the service of the material reality, side with the “anti-imperialist figure” as a “lesser of two evils”? Isn’t that kind of like leftists voting for Democrats, though?

8) Is it a good idea to form new socialist/leftist/communist groups rather than rely on the old ones who are perpetually at war with each other? Or must we be so afraid of forgetting our history and thereby repeating it that we remain paralyzed during its unfolding?

9) Is it necessary for “communist” or “leftist” or “anarchist” groups to form alliances with one-issue groups? What if those alliances lead to compulsions to cut back on radical rhetoric? For instance, a pro-immigrant rights group marches with a Communist group. The Communist group’s chants are about “Burn the Rich, Smash the state” while the Immigrant Rights group chants “Hey, Obama, Don’t Deport My Mama.” The Immigrant Rights group doesn’t want to be perceived as destructive, violent, or irrational, so they avoid slogans about burning rich people and smashing things. As a result, the groups don’t intermingle, don’t unite, chant over each other, and generally illustrate the segmentation of the Left. What do we do about this?

I know I could probably learn all of this from reading Marx/Engels, Lenin, et cetera at the source itself, but I’m not the best reader in the world. I have trouble focusing and absorbing, and it takes me forever to finish one book, because I need to underline and annotate and reread constantly in order to get anything out of it. Either that or I get bored of focusing on one subject and don’t finish the book at all. But links and insights as to which readings would be helpful, would be helpful.

Sometimes it just seems like society and reality are made to be so confused and complex intentionally in order to prevent moral/hesitant people like myself from taking a side and ACTING. Maybe that is to overestimate my own importance; but, see the thing is, I *have* no importance to the revolution because I can’t take a side and act on it with conviction. It is paradoxical. It is the pleasant paralysis of the privileged radical: nothing is black or white because privileged folks have never been materially desperate. Mounting disgust soon leads to inactivity, and eventually, selling out. I don’t want that to happen to me.

Anyway, answers/insights appreciated. Of course, I know that idealism and absolute answers/truths are a Western social construct intended to manipulate. Really, I just seek conversation.

note: this is not written in my usual tone. It is just the tone that came to me at the moment I had the idea, which was while I was at a soul-music concert in New York a few days ago.

Like so many endeavors, we cannot force the people to relinquish what they know to be pleasurable, to deny them pleasure as they know it, because to do so would introduce an element of “soul-repression,” i.e. repression of those aspects of daily life that are thought to constitute expression of the soul: wanton sensuality, materialistic pursuits like cars and houses, dotage on the family, self-destructive habits like alcohol and idleness, and mindless mass entertainment that serves to perpetuate racism, gender roles, class differences, and other stratifications between exploited groups. But within the grind of their daily lives, these components persist as “simple pleasures,” between the periods of grudging work and involuntary routine, where their “soul” is allowed to briefly manifest itself before being subjected to yet another day of working for a boss.

Such an aesthetic can only be approximated, it cannot be matched, by the implication of socialist revolution, because so many aspects of that aesthetic are based on dynamics of inequality.

Does this suggest some noble character of inequality, one that we must endeavor to preserve in whole or in part within the messaging, actions, and involvement of the revolution? No. But we must remember that to singlehandedly and quite out of hand dismiss the societally agreed upon aesthetic value of inequality will, in effect, create an inequality between ourselves and the masses, and undermine our pretense to the value of presumed equality with the masses and an understanding of their needs. This, of course, assumes such are some of the shared values of the revolutionary party, values that we espouse and to which we cleave: kinship with the worker.

Before any change of aesthetic can take place, we must first successfully convey the injustice of the conditions that lead to inequality,  i.e. exploitation and expropriation of social surplus product, and reveal them as commonplace modalities of the ruling ideology. This illustration, made vividly and in the interest of class empowerment, will gradually lead to the automatic severance of any association between these conditions and fulfillment of the “soul” among the working class.