WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

10 09 2011

Here’s my response to that “Mid-Tennessee Progressive Strategy” group’s response to the Obama indictment.  I’ve added links, and changed it a little for greater clarity and because, when I took a little more time for fact-checking, I didn’t have all my details right–but this is substantially the same post.

As I was considering how to respond to the many comments my post elicited, I read the following quote from Susan Sontag in Yes!:

Acting on principle is, we’re told, a good in itself. But it is still a political act, in the sense that you’re not doing it for yourself. You don’t do it just to be in the right, or to appease your own conscience; much less because you are confident your action will achieve its aim. You resist as an act of solidarity. With communities of the principled and the disobedient: here, elsewhere. In the present. In the future…..

The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting.”

So, with that to set the tone, here is my response to the different objections that were raised to my bill of particulars against the strategy of aligning with Obama and the Democratic Party.

I cannot support him or the Democrat Party because they are war criminals. Obama has not only declined to prosecute any Cheney administration officials for war crimes, he has continued and actually expanded Cheney’s criminal policies. It should be obvious, at this point, that he went into the Presidential race knowing full well that he would be doing that, throwaway lines like “close Guantanamo” (which never happened) not withstanding. To vote for him, or anyone who, like Jim Cooper, continues to support war crimes and war criminals is to be complicit in those crimes, just like the “good Germans” of the last century. And, like Germany and Italy, America has become a fascist state, defined as one in which the government is run in collusion with, and for the benefit of, big business.

Of course, 21st century American fascism has learned a thing or two about how to be “kinder and gentler”–nobody’s getting sent to the gas chamber–but Gaza and Palestine, and the now-60-year old Palestinian refugee camps are the 21st century equivalent of concentration camps—and they are maintained with U.S. aid. And, likewise, this fascism is sure enough of its hold on power that it won’t send us to the camps just for making accusations like this. It’s much cheaper (and better PR) to simply ignore us, dismiss tax protests as “frivolous filings” to be dealt with administratively, and save the legal big guns for those who actually do things that throw a monkey wrench in the gears of power, like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, or Tim DeChristopher.

As for the charge that I am not “dealing with the realities of America politics,” those “realities” are insanely out of touch with real-deal reality. The real-deal reality is that our government’s willful ignor-ance of the seriousness of climate change is a serious threat to the ability of this planet to continue to support higher life forms such as ourselves. The grim difference between the late 20th century’s bane, “Mutual Assured Destruction,” and our current situation is that, while Mutual Assured Destruction turned out to be a threat that never materialized (except to the extent that military expenditures stole from our ability to make the planet a better place for everyone), every day that we continue to extract and burn fossil fuels sinks us deeper into the tar pit of runaway climate change, while our “leaders” babble about “growth” and “job creation.” This kind of unconscious commitment to the idea that the way it’s been is the way it’s going to be is a planetary suicide pact, and, weak old man that I am, it makes me want to kick and scream and raise hell to wake people from the sleepwalk of politics as usual in America.

“I” can’t do a whole lot about this, but “we” can. Vaclav Havel started out as a lonely dissident, and was ground under the heel of the Soviet empire—but he persisted, and eventually enough people came around to his point of view that the whole sorry reality of “Communist” totalitarianism crumbled–not through confrontation, but by decay from within, as an overwhelming majority withdrew their consent from the system. You can bet that he got plenty of well-intentioned advice along the way about how he needed to be more realistic and accept “Communist” domination! Something similar has to happen here. There are two ways the two-party duopoly could come undone: either an East-bloc-style revolution of belief, or the total collapse of America as we’ve known it. As a guy who would like to die peacefully of old age, I would much prefer the former, but, as it stands, I’m deeply concerned that we’re heading for the latter.

As it stands, “progressives” (a term whose definition is a whole other subject) in the Democratic Party are in the position of a woman who stays with her abusive husband, hoping she can change him. As with individual cases, that’s unlikely to happen, especially as long as he (the corporate-oriented Democratic Party, in this case) thinks he can take your support for granted, no matter what he does, because you view him as your only option. Here’s the reality: he’s too addicted to corporate money to ever listen to “progressives” again, and it’s been that way for at least 30 years. There have been some truly noble “progressive Democrats” like Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, and Cynthia McKinney, but they have been seriously mistreated by the mainstream of the Democratic Party.  Well, OK, Barbara Lee has not been harassed by her own party–she pulls 85% of the vote without even trying.  It’s pretty hard to harass somebody who’s that popular at home.

Cynthia McKinney had the good sense to jump to the Green Party, which could really take off if all the people who “hold their nose and vote for Democrats” screwed up their courage instead of holding their noses, and walked out on the Democrats instead of voting for the stinkers. One commenter said he thought the American electorate was trending rightward. I disagree. My understanding of the results of the 2010 election is not that a whole lot more people voted Republican, but that a whole lot fewer people voted Democrat, due to feeling burned by the party’s failure to deliver on their expectations of it. I am also aware of repeated polling that shows that Americans overall are much more “progressive” than the choices that are allowed in our corporate-run political system, and that the” Tea Party” is, when all is said and done, a minority voice. The fact that 50-60% of potential voters don’t vote in most of our elections means that the “Republican majority” is really only about 20-25% of the electorate, and tells me that there is enormous potential for a new political movement in this country that will actually listen to–and speak for–the real concerns of real people. The Green Party was created to do just that.  We do not take corporate money. Those of us who have been keeping it going in this state for the last ten years would love to be supplanted by “progressives” who got disgruntled with the major parties and came on over. In Canada, the New Democrats, who were a “third party” for years, have now supplanted the Liberals as the country’s main opposition party. Change can happen, but only if enough people are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Oh, and “scary Perry”? The blustering bully from Texas and the smooth-talking con-man from Chicago are working for the same masters. Choosing between them amounts to, do you want to be railroaded by the good cop (Obama) or by the bad cop (Perry, Bachman, etc.)? My response is, I haven’t done anything wrong. They have, and I’m not giving them my power. Obama’s a war criminal, Perry’s a murderer who aspires to be a war criminal. The proper response to people like them is to step away, not to try and reform them or work with their political supporters in hopes of creating substantive social change. It ain’t gonna happen, any more than the Mafia is going to become a model civic organization if we reach out to it and try to work to change it.

There are those who say that it’s too late for politics, that the only thing left to do is duck and cover and create our own community survival networks.  To me, that’s a worst-case scenario–not so far out as to be ignored, but not yet inevitable.  I believe it is still possible for the people of this country to wake up, shake off the whores who pass for politicians, and take this country back, and that’s what keeps me, as Susan Sontag put it, “acting on principle.”  Whether it has wider results or not, it’s the only way I can live with myself.

Music:  Richard Thompson, “Borrowed Time


Actions

Information

4 responses

5 11 2011
TBS

You write: “…not so far out as to be ignored, but not yet inevitable.”

I wonder: An overwhelmingly vast majority of people ONLY identify with The Inevitable. Most people suffer wrongs as long as the wrongs are sufferable instead of rising up to effect change in long-standing government.** Most people BEG for leadership–more content to follow than be ‘on point’.

[**Read Para. 1 of the Declaration of Independence. People haven't changed a bit.]

You write: “As for the charge that I am not “dealing with the realities of America politics,” those “realities” are insanely out of touch with real-deal reality.”

I wonder: I got lost in your ‘definition’ of “real-deal.” I think that the charge that you (or I) are not “dealing with the realities of American politics” ought to be worn as a badge of honor. See? The ‘most people’ mentioned above tend to think (to use the term loosely) that what IS has ALWAYS been. They are not aware that the “realities of American politics” DEVELOPED. The current state of things exists because the reigning elite found out how to control–and suck the very life out of–’most people’.

Apparently you are incensed that “our government” is “willfully ignorant,” and your prime example of that willful ignorance is that these ignorant people don’t see that “…the seriousness of climate change is a serious threat to the ability of this planet to continue to support higher life forms such as ourselves.” Really? Higher life forms? Hmmm… That sounds more elitist that ‘green’ to me. Do the birds and flowers (i.e. Nature) DEPEND on US for their protection? Or is it the other way around? Is Homo Sapiens truly a “higher life form”? Or could it be that ‘we’ are just as dependent on the Cosmic whole of existence as is what you would consider to be the lowest of life forms?

This kind of dizzying circular reasoning (again using a term loosely) is what happens when short-sighted ‘higher life forms’ (arrogant delusion) focus on symptoms rather than digging deeper…getting closer to the root of causes and a broader perspective on the Grand Reality. DRASTIC changes in Earth’s climate occurred BEFORE humans evolved. To presume that some anthropogenic effect initiated the current climatic trend is just as stupid as believing that ἄνθρωπος (Gr. ‘man’; anthropos) can END climate change.

The Green Party, the Republican Party, the Democrat Party, Al Gore and his ‘inconvenient truth’, Obama (another in a long line of war criminals) and his deaf & blind followers, the evil Bushes, the Religious Right, Christianity, Islam…the list goes on and on. Delusion. Abuse. Stupidity. Oppression. Are these manifestations evidence of the existence of a higher life form? I think not.

Your insistence on “acting on principle” is to be commended. Thank you for sharing your views…and allowing me to share some of mine. Keep on keepin’ on.

7 11 2011
brothermartin

” I think that the charge that you (or I) are not “dealing with the realities of American politics” ought to be worn as a badge of honor. ”
Yep….my Green badge of courage…

“Higher life forms? Hmmm… That sounds more elitist that ‘green’ to me. Do the birds and flowers (i.e. Nature) DEPEND on US for their protection? Or is it the other way around? Is Homo Sapiens truly a “higher life form”? Or could it be that ‘we’ are just as dependent on the Cosmic whole of existence as is what you would consider to be the lowest of life forms?”

“Higher life forms” should perhaps have been phrased “more complex life forms”–in which I would include dolphins, octopi and giant squid, whales, orangutans, gorillas, chimps, bonobos, pigs, and humans, those being species I am aware of that have the most complex brains on the planet and/or pass the test of being able to recognize their own reflection in a mirror–as far as I know, nobody has tried to see if a giant squid can recognize itself in a mirror, but they do have brains that appear to be more complex than ours, according to a source I read but cannot cite offhand. Maybe it was early John Lilly–he was fairly dependable when he started out, at least…and certainly we exist in a web of life that is weakened with every species that goes extinct. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we humans are much more dependent on the rest of the life on the planet than they are on us–except for dogs, cats, and goldfish, most would do better without us, as long as we departed in an orderly fashion and shut down all our nuke plants and other toxic waste sites before we left. But that’s too much to ask, most likely.

“DRASTIC changes in Earth’s climate occurred BEFORE humans evolved. To presume that some anthropogenic effect initiated the current climatic trend is just as stupid as believing that ἄνθρωπος (Gr. ‘man’; anthropos) can END climate change.”

The drastic changes that occurred before humans evolved took place on a much slower timescale than current climate change, except for the times the planet was struck by large meteors/asteroids. I think human-caused climate change is pretty simple science-burn large quantities of carbon-based fuels in a closed flask/planet, and the makeup of the gasses in the flask/planet will change. In the last 200 years, we have released carbon that took millions, maybe even billions of years to accumulate. This is pretty hard to refute–even scientists funded by the Koch brothers (and I assume you know who they are) are coming around and admitting that we are in the opening stages of a dizzyingly fast, human-caused climate change on the planet.

As far as ending it goes, there are things we could do that would slow it down. But there’s a huge distance between “could” and “will,” and I don’t see the gap being closed. And I am not happy about that.

“The Green Party, the Republican Party, the Democrat Party, Al Gore and his ‘inconvenient truth’, Obama (another in a long line of war criminals) and his deaf & blind followers, the evil Bushes, the Religious Right, Christianity, Islam…the list goes on and on. Delusion. Abuse. Stupidity. Oppression. Are these manifestations evidence of the existence of a higher life form? I think not.”

As I said, I think “complex” would have been a better word choice than “higher.” But please don’t lump the Green Party in with the “Delusion. Abuse. Stupidity.” faction–we are committed to, as they say, “being the change we want to see,” although we certainly don’t bat 1,000 at that. And Al Gore? I know people who have known him well. He, like the rest of us, has his limitations, but I believe he is sincerely concerned about the fate of the planet, and I forgive him for being such an idiot when he ran for President in 2000.

7 11 2011
TBS

Thanks for the clarification.

I appreciate your insight, passion…and humor.

And you’re quite the ambassador for the Green Party. I’ll keep checking it out.

8 11 2011
brothermartin

Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 608 other followers

%d bloggers like this: