Film, Philosophy, Pop Culture, review, Satire, Uncategorized

A Lacanian Review of “Baywatch”

The Interplay between The Rock’s primal over-compensating Nietsczean character and the latent homosexual archtype played by Effron brings to mind the process by which Hegelian material dialectics brings form to the amorphous potential of power dynamics in a totalitarian state system; that the Rock, an apt pseudonym for such an immovable superego figure, continually subjects Effron to progressively more perverse forms of sexual torture mirrors the crippling, stultifyingly, repetative but nonetheless erotically charged Real of “bay watching” i.e. the omnipotent Object of the Sea and the subjective figures drowing in its unexplored depths, and the father-signifier Life-Guard striving to pull subjectivity from the great blue churning Other of Stalinist derrived material hermenutics.

That the milleu of the picture is the ever-sunny, ever objectivity denuding beach-scape of Southern California, land of silicon bosoms and rictus grin visages sculpted from the raw pulp of human flesh at $30,000 a pop, throws the psych-sexual dialectic of the film into stark contrastm, especially when considered alongside the the obsessive cinematographic fondling and half-joking fetisization of Alexandra Daddario’s magnificent natural breasts. One cannot help but recall Lacan’s claim in his XXth Seminar:

“The subject is nothing other than what slides in a chain of signifiers, whether he knows which signifier he is the effect of or not. That effect- the subject – is the intermediary effect between what characterizes a signifier and another signifier, namely, the fact that each of them, each of them is an element. – “

I give the film as a whole 2 1/2 Stars.

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Love, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

An Open Letter To My Muslims Brothers & Sisters

Assalamu alaikum

The world tells me we are inherently different. I’m not a Muslim my self, but I’ve always been fascinated & inspired by Islamic contribution to human civilization. The history of & historical figures from the Islamic world have fascinated & inspired me for years, especially the era of the Islamic  Renaissance in North Africa, the Middle East & Spain. As a student of philosophy the works of Muslim thinkers & scholars have always grabbed my attention, particularly Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd (known in the West as Averroes). I first encountered Ibn Rushed in a wonderful Philosophy class I took in college for my minor. My German born professor admired him & introduced us to the basics of his system of though. This passage from his book The Decisive Treatise stood out to me

The double meaning [of religion & philosophy] has been given to suit people’s diverse intelligence. The apparent contradictions are meant to stimulate the learned to deeper study.

What this has always seemed to mean for me, a non-believer of God, is that religion & philosophy often have the same goal: to understand the Universe, what takes place in it, our own place in it, and how to live with and understand one another. There is intrinsic difference between people of faith & people of freethinking philosophy, just slight variations in emphasis & ontology. We all live by moral standards, we all have family or communities, we all seek knowledge, we all seek to better ourselves & those we love & care for. The differences in how we come to understand ourselves & our world are not nearly as important as the fact we do all seek to know, to feel, to love, to explore. 

There are many paths to truth, to happiness, to wisdom. We do a great disservice to ourselves & our fellow human beings when we close off a path because it may not seem familiar at first. I have found that when one takes the time to take, as Frost wrote, “the path less travelled”, you see that what at first seems to your eyes and mind to be alien is in fact your own world made new again through difference; a tree is a tree is a tree again, and a wise thought is wisdom in any tongue or any culture. We translate our seeming differences by experiencing them, through a striving to see love in unknown places, and emerging from the path to a shared destination.

***

A beautiful building stands near my apartment in Bolingbrook, Illinois, a Masjib & community center. It represents to me the wonderful diversity of this country & its people, people who make our community stronger & more enlightened. I smile when I think of the young Muslim families I see at the library or at the store; how proud they seem, how kind & friendly they are. On a more personal note, when I was in college it was hard for me to make friends (I am autistic and social skills are not my forte) and many of my peers ignored me or did not take the time to try to understand my life or point of view. That is until I met a group of Muslims students, some of whom I worked with at the College library. They were warm, open, non-judgemental, invited me to sit with them at lunch, introduced me to new people & ideas. We enjoyed the time we spent together, and even though we saw the world differently sometimes, we never let these differences get in the way of caring for one another as human beings. Their friendship during this hard time in my life is not something I will ever forget.

***

Today many of our non-Muslim leaders in government, medias & culture are telling us to fear Muslims, to hate them, to shun them. They tell us Islam is an “evil” religion, one that has no intellectual tradition worth studying, no love for women or those outside of Islam. I know these are calumnies, blood libels told to benefit those with power & who want power, whose imperial aims thrive when Muslims and non-Muslims fight & terrorize one another. I know that the West has blood on its hands and has done much to earn the distrust of some in the Muslim World. I know that fanatics on both sides need this hatred & use it to wield power over people who just want to live safe, happy lives. I know that those who hate, who want us to hate, believe that there are two worlds at war. I know the truth. I know there is one world, one humanity. I know refugees are seeking what I seek: a home, love, education, enrichment, happiness, community. I know most Muslims know this too. We are not different, we have no reason to fear one another. We must love one another. I support Muslims, I support refugees, I support immigrants. I support my brothers & sisters. I reject Trump & his fascist ideology, his fascist programs. I stand with you, and I know many more stand with you too. We are not different, you and I. We are the same people making our way, sometimes on different paths, sometimes on the same path, all heading to the same destination.

yours in friendship,

Noah Mann-Engel

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#terrorism, Civil rights, Democracy, essay, Europe, Uncategorized

as to Robespierre…

the following is an edited & expanded version of a response I gave to a friend during a very enlightening & intelligent discussion of the historical & ethical “meaning” of the French Revolution

***

as to Robespierre, I agree with you on him being a complex individual, but I don’t think he was a contradiction so much as someone who falsely believed human beings could control the development of history through compromise & constant action. He was too much theory without the introspection & introspection needed to put it into achievable action.

as to him behaving like a king or a god…. He never had as much power personally as the King did or even some of his ministers. He had to work with a powerful Comittee Of Public Safety & had to carefully juggle the needs/demands of the burgeoning proletariat & the newly empowered bourgeoises. Most of the actions that he took that contradicted his own moral & ethical beliefs he took because the People wanted them done, or at least the representatives of the People claimed it was what the people wanted or what the Republic needed.

I think his actions need to be put in context: France had just emerged, violently, from a nearly millinuim long tyrannical/feudal regime that effectively enslaved, maimed, starved & abritrarily imprisoned & killed millions over its existence. The Republic, whiche Robespierre & his compatriots, & many (but by no means all of course) of the people truly believed in, was born into immediate danger from the monarchies surrounding it & hoping to reenslave the people. Robespierre did some truly stupid & awful things, but he also set the example for a system that could aspire to rule in the name of the People instead of a the whim of one man’s, and his favorites, desires.

It of course did not work out the way it was intended, but that of course ascribes to the actors of the time a hindsight that no one possesses. Robespierre, in the end, went from being a theorhetician to a political actor, trying to preserve his ethics along the way. In doing so I think he found it was better to sacrifice his ethics for what he saw as the good of the people, & the survival of the Republican experiment.

Robespierre though, I believe sincerly, he was doing what was in the best interest of the public good & the good of the Republican system. Furthermore, he believed the Republicans system was essential to preserving the public good, to preserving any hope for a society not founded upon the divine right of kings or of the needs & rights of human beings be subordinated to the financial & social concerns of a miniscule, undeserving elite. We too often look at history as though it is a map leading us down a road to the inevitability of the present day. This is myopia common to Liberal, Conservative & Marxist historians, a failing we radical thinkers & actors should not shy away from admitting. It is one of the failings of Robespierre himself, a failure of imaginationm, of understand how there is not always one correct path. One thing Robespierre never lacked, however, was courage. One who was afraid to put his very life & morals on the line would never have written

It is time to designate clearly the purposes of the revolution and the point which we wish to attain: It is time we should examine ourselves the obstacles which yet are between us and our wishes, and the means most proper to realize them: A consideration simple and important which appears not yet to have been contemplated. Indeed, how could a base and corrupt government have dared to view themselves in the mirror of political rectitude? A king, a proud senate, a Caesar, a Cromwell; of these the first care was to cover their dark designs under the cloak of religion, to covenant with every vice, caress every party, destroy men of probity, oppress and deceive the people in order to attain the end of their perfidious ambition. If we had not had a task of the first magnitude to accomplish; if all our concern had been to raise a party or create a new aristocracy, we might have believed, as certain writers more ignorant than wicked asserted, that the plan of the French revolution was to be found written in the works of Tacitus and of Machiavel; we might have sought the duties of the representatives of the people in the history of Augustus, of Tiberius, or of Vespasian, or even in that of certain French legislators; for tyrants are substantially alike and only differ by trifling shades of perfidy and cruelty.

Is this the sentiment of a tyrant? Was Robespierre, he who desired no office or title more grand than Commitee Member & Citizen, he who died with little more than a meager pension & a pensioners flat to his name, was he this man out to “oppress and deceive the people in order to attain the end of [his] perfidious ambition”? I think not & I see no evidence in the historical record or in this man’s life or writings to justify condemning him to that political Tartarus inhabited by the likes of Stalin, the Borgia, Hitler, Ivan Grosny & so many more like them.

The Terror, that great, much maligined and mythologized means that has not yet reached  a satisfactory end, was not a paranoid purge, or genocidal rage or even a spasm of revenge against a particular class. No, it was a fever in the body politik, the stupid, desperate, sublime, but most of all sincere striving of a people trying to understand  & build an entirely new  system. The Terror was no less than a cannibalistic attempt to purge itself of its own self-loathing & self doubt, the neurosis of people who had only ever known slavery & degredation. From this struggle was born the idea of The People as a dynamic, worthy force of history & nature. Nationalism, industrial militarism, and a new form of fascism were the deformed sibilings of this great moment of self-realization, but we must, as with anything else, take the good with the bad.

There is no dialectic without dialogue between our worst & best impulses as human animals. Today, we forgive violence that frees the slave, frees “markets”, and frees “hearts and minds”; why then can’t we seem to forgive the violence that midwifed our modern world, our contemporary praxis? It is with shame that one looks back on the violent, messy origins of oneself, ones’ being. It is no different for we post-modern People, we who live in the age which copes with the dirty secret of our own conception by mythologizing it, shrouding it in fantasy and telling ourselves, “that was then, that was they; now is better, we are who we need to be…” The lie of progress, the myth of outcome, excelsior, ever better, ever brighter…all the while more and more violence & terror is needed every year just to preserve the self-concious chaos we call the Modern World; more bloodshed & brutality than a hundred Terrors. I go back to the words of Robespierre, that man call, without irony, incorruptable

From all this let us deduce a great truth: the characteristic of popular government is confidence in the people and severity towards itself.

The whole development of our theory would end here if you had only to pilot the vessel of the Republic through calm waters; but the tempest roars, and the revolution imposes on you another task.

This great purity of the French revolution’s basis, the very sublimity of its objective, is precisely what causes both our strength and our weakness. Our strength, because it gives to us truth’s ascendancy over imposture, and the rights of the public interest over private interests; our weakness, because it rallies all vicious men against us, all those who in their hearts contemplated despoiling the people and all those who intend to let it be despoiled with impunity

[…]

If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs

Is this not the ethos, the creed, the moral gospel of the Modern age? The pivot upon which the contemporary world turns? Why do we continue to deny our birth, our origin, our founding creed? Is it not because we can no longer stomach the face we see reflected back at us by history’s mirror?

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Politics, Uncategorized

A Failure of Self Analysis: Lenin’s “Word And Deed”

lenin-and-gandhirenefulopmiller1927385pgspol-2-638

We are constantly making the mistake in Russia of judging the slogans and tactics of a certain party or group, of judging its general trend, by the intentions or motives that the group claims for itself. Such judgement is worthless. The road to hell—as was said long ago—is paved with good intentions.”1

Lenin wrote at a time in history that would inevitably be seen to be nearly providential by those looking back from the contemporary vantage point. In 1913 the crucible of revolution had yet to boil over into the true paradigm shift that was the fall of the Russian Monarchy and its’ proto-capitalist/feudal system. We forget today, or are made to ignore the fact, that history is not preordained or inevitable even if it is in fact possible to be analyzed rationally. Lenin wrote in his letter, Word and Deed, of imminent, arising social upheaval. We cannot look at this letter as a piece of self-conscious dogma; instead we must realize that Lenin is expressing a realization of political reality that is made self-evident by the events taking place around him.

The workers strike was still seen as a violation of societal doxa, a rejection of the contract written and executed from above and based upon the premise that mass civic action was a form of terrorism. Lenin makes an especial case against the liberal members of the structural orthodoxy who viewed worker organization and proletarian action as a dangerous attack on their own pursuit of “reform” within the context of the existing system. The rejection of the liberal bourgeois conception that change within a flawed system is required or preferable to the dismantling of the system through class struggle was an important step for the socialist movement in Russia and an essential signpost on the road that we are still traveling towards a more sustainable and equitable system. By accepting the claims of liberal parties and movements that they are friendly towards the proletariat, socialism is undermined and indeed made heterodox. A step forward on a crooked road is not progress made towards the destination; it is for all intents and purposes a step backwards to a state of affairs intolerable to the interests of the proletariat and its aims.

For example, look at the left liberal (contemporary United States) Democratic party pledge of strengthening the middle class[es] through “hope” for “change” in the system of a “reformed” market capitalism. But what sort of “change” can be expected when there is no rejection of underlying conditions that lead to inequality or abuse? The classic capitalist class system is upheld and even celebrated by the acceptance of a reformation of processes and laws that can only see success as the increasing stratification and separation of workers from each other. The middle class becomes a destination away from the working classes, a realm apart and a vantage point from which the anointed can look back in shame and increasing disgust at the situation of the proletariat. Lenin says that there is nothing remarkable about the upper class, governmental or conservative reactionary dismissal of proletarian needs and struggles but that “Much “newer” is the amazing indifference of the bourgeoisie”.

               Similarly the antagonism between the Democratic party and the vast and expanding ex post politico “working poor” (as the proletariat is referred to within the context of contemporary American politics) is, if not actually increasing, becoming more apparent and shocking to those who once labored under the delusion that at least one party represented a means of support for the worker. The left liberal “solution” to the problems of the unequal division of wealth and exploitation of labor is simply a less violent entrance into a feedback loop that preserves the systems that create the need for such exploitation. Members of the proletariat need to come to terms with the fact that they were and are “making the mistake of […] judging the slogans and tactics of” the liberal Democratic party based on their own standards that reject the very idea that the capitalist system is something to be overcome. Indeed, Lenin goes on to say, “in many cases this indifference [on the part of the left liberal factions] changes to a negative attitude” and eventually expresses itself as so much reactionary more violence against the rejection of the class constraints advocated by the Marxist philosophies and socialist parties. Lenin is correct that we must look beyond the word and to the deed when examining the intentions of those professing to be allies of the proletariat and its cause. Lenin makes it clear that in order to move the proletariat cause forward liberal conciliation with reactionary forces and capitalist institutions must  be combated as though the factions were one and the same.

The tragic irony of this letter becomes clear when we realize that the trenchant criticisms leveled by Lenin against accommodations with strains of left liberal thought and practice can just as easily, indeed should just as readily, be leveled against Lenin’s own assertion that the vanguard party was essential to the advancement of the interests of the proletariat and its eventually achievement of a communist society without need of party (or the class system that invariably arises from a vanguard party). Lenin writes

The proletariat cannot do its democratic duty, serve as the advanced contingent, give service to, educate and consolidate the masses of the people other than by a decisive struggle against the liquidators, who, in fact, are completely dependent on liberalism. The liberals, too, frequently play at being radicals from the Duma rostrum and do it as well as the various near-Marxist or wavering elements, but that does not prevent the liberals from fighting (with the aid of the liquidators) the democratic aspirations of the masses outside the Duma.2

Lenin fails to understand that the elite vanguard party apparatus, whose very education and intellectual assumptions are themselves derived from liberal bourgeois systems and values and cannot be separated, in essence, from this strain, are also “play[ing] at being radicals”. If proletariat cannot, therefore, “do its democratic duty” by cooperation with liberal economic and social forces, how, then, can the proletariat  be expected to do the same under the aegis of a vanguard party indelibly stained by bourgeois prejudices against the inherent genius of the proletariat? Lenin succeeds in highlighting the problem of compromising one’s values in the name of pragmatic expediency in pursuit of revolution and the creation of communism in a nation, but he fails to apply this criticism to his own compromised values, in the form of the vanguard party idea of revolutionary action.

  1. http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1913/jul/16.htm
  2. Ibid
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Feminism, Philosophy, Sexuality, Uncategorized

An Immodest Proposal

The main issue I have with the so called “modesty” movement, is that even when it is ostensibly about “women choosing to be modest” for their own reasons, there is an unspoken undercurrent of judgement and shaming. For what is one if one is not “modest”? One is immodest. And if someone is labeled or considered, even by default, immodest, shaming, violence, punishment, and ostracization are tacitly approved of against the person. It is a subtle way of upholding patriarchal cultural norms, and an insidious on at that, because it turns the “decision” to impose an arbitrary morality into one ostensibly made by the women herself. Even the word, modesty, and the accompanying concept and activities that expected in regards to it, are assumed to be set in stone, a certain set of inherent values. The assumption is made that modesty is inherently the act of covering oneself up, specifically the parts of the body that MEN have traditionally deemed there purview to either view, sexualize, control, or shame.

There is no such thing as “natural” modesty, or an inherent human modesty in regards to sartorial choices, it is all begging the question, with the answer being “there is something inherently shameful about the female form, something that one can “choose” to decide to cover up and hide in order to possess some sort of aura of inherent goodness or purity. It is reverse objectification, and sexual violence by stealth, making women into willing accomplices to the continuation of the idea that the female form is special in its potential for physical and moral corruption. Women are told that their “beauty” is better and more morally “celebrated” by “respecting” it with arbitrary, and male gaze focused, garment coverings/veils, as though beauty was something objectively enhanced or degraded by the use or non-use of a certain prescribed accoutrements.

Modesty, in and of itself, is assumed a priori to mean a form of veiling, modifying, distracting from the physical and the female, which underlines the assumption that there is something inherent to the female form that makes it “more beautiful”, more “worth protecting”, more “pure” than the male form. Hence there is no equal movement to compel men to “make the choice to be modest”, at least not with the same subtle shaming and prodding that women face. Modesty itself is a concept that must be discarded if we are to ever live in a truly equal society, at least the idea of modesty that assumes certain arbitrary parts of the human female form are to be hidden or de-emphasized.

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2016 Election, opinion, Politics, Uncategorized

Fascism, American Style

 

If you think pogroms and concentration camps and purity laws and the destruction of political dissent and the full rollback of liberal human rights protections cannot happen here, that is what they, the liberal, secular, intelligent, open minded folks, thought in Germany in 1933. There were no grand messages of warning from God or sages, no fiery crosses in the sky to warn of the coming civil apocalypse. There were warnings, there were worries, there were possibilities, but in the end it happened because it was allowed to happen.

Fearful armed white men walk around feeling they are protecting people from “outsiders” and “thugs” and “criminal elements” while a demagogue they support is winning in the election polls denouncing a tiny minority of the population as a source of the nations ills, while ineffectual liberal leaders tear themselves apart fighting over pie in the sky solutions to problems.This sound familiar? It should. It is what happened in Germany in 1933 and it is what is happening in the U.S. in 2016. It can happen here because it IS happening here. The fascist element in U.S. society sees this election as the last chance to hold on to power and to implement its nationalist and xenophobic policies in the face of a nation that is no longer a purely white supremacist system. This is a dangerous time.

I truly believe that the open/concealed carry movement is the moral equivalent i.e. the unique American manifestation, of the xenophobic/nationalistic/fear based chauvinism that led to the creation of the Black Shirts in Italy and the Brown Shirts in Germany. Look at it: they take the law and the “protection of the public” into their own hands, they target, physically and rhetorically, minorities who they see as “destroying the fabric of our society”, and they act as though they have a legal and moral mandate that comes from the foundational documents/values of the nation state. The German and Italian versions started out as very loosely organized but eventually came together as an actual force under the auspices of regimes (Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany) that harnessed their fear and anger, legitimized it through their power that was gained through ostensibly democratic/civil means, and unleashed it first on the “enemies of the people” as understood by the militia/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups themselves. After this was accomplished, the power of these groups was then used to attack and suppress (and eventually liquidate) enemies of the regime, the regime that was now seen as the personification of the nation and the values that the militias/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups held most dear to begin with.

An authoritarian regime becomes a totalitarian one when it taps into the fears and anxieties of the former ruling class/caste/race and uses its historical militant agency for its own purposes, and institutionalizes these civil pathologies into technocratic systems and actions. The militias/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups still operate under the belief that they are “free men” fighting for a “free society” when in fact they have be co-opted to serve a regime and a system that will eventually turn on them as soon as all the less powerful enemies have been eliminated. The gun culture of the United States, while benign enough in its origins, is ripe for this sort of manipulation. The open/concealed carry fanatic sees “his” nation being “taken away” from him and fears for the safety of “his” property and “his” women and children, usually at the hands of a hated or feared minority or minorities, in the case of the U.S., black men, non-white immigrants, and Muslims. He must, then, take it onto himself to “remedy” the situation, to constantly be on the look out for those who would “stab the nation and its people in the back” and to “take back what is ours” from people they at best do not trust and at worst actively fear and despise. It took hundreds of years of conscious and unconscious cultural programming to get the German and Italian populations primed for the sort of grass roots fascism cum systemic totalitarianism that the Fascist regimes were eventually able to create and control.

I think, I fear, that it would not take nearly as much programming for this sort of thing to happen in the U.S. We already have a history of race based terror, violence, and systemic abuse of minority rights and dignity. Combined with a conservative impulse to obey and trust authority, an easily manipulated rugged, machismo individualism, and a propensity towards armed violence, and you have the foundations of a very potent fascist system that could come about almost entirely through grassroots and institutional democratic means. Trump is tapping into that, and he is succeeding, while the media and culture that is obsessed with celebrity, wealth, and prestige is too busy gawking and laughing at the funny man-boy with the silly hair (the funny former artist soldier with the silly mustache) to see that he understands fully what he is doing and who he is appealing to and by what means. Trump is a fascist in the grain of Hitler and Mussolini, it is that simple. They only reason he is not acting outright exactly like they did is that he does not yet have the legitimized political power. He is on the verge of getting that power, and the scared, armed, xenophobic white men who will give it to him are just waiting for their time to finally take revenge on the blacks, the immigrants, the liberals, and the Muslims who they feel have taken “their” nation away from them. The only question remains, can Trump win through legitimate means, and if he can, how soon after that will the Reichstag mysteriously catch fire amidst streets strewn with broken glass?

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2016 Election, Uncategorized

This Is Not The Revolutionary You Are Looking For

its-a-trap-what-happens-when-advertisers-dont-meet-twitters-spending-quotas

There have been some truly astounding and naive (and borderline racist) attacks on Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights icon, by supporters of the liberal Vermont Democratic currently running for President. Sanders involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was very much an aspect of his radical student days, another notch in the belt of a budding white liberal intellectual. This is not in and of itself a bad thing at all, far from it, but to act as those this makes him some sort of equal to John Lewis, let alone MLK, is whitewashing history to the point if ridiculousness. According to Mother Jones (hardly a Clinton organ, that publication) Sanders was arrested while working for CORE and SNCC, but he quit both operations entirely when participation start to hurt his grades. Mother Jones reporter Tim Murphy summarizes it this way:

“Sanders’ involvement was, by comparison [to SNCC Leader and future Congressman John Lewis] brief and localized, his sacrifices limited to one arrest for protesting and a bad GPA from neglecting his studies.”

Bernie Sanders had enough privilege to be able to walk away from the civil rights movement when it started to impact him in a negative way and to come back again when he had bored of his studies and it was more convenient for him to do so.  Black activists and revolutionaries were not so lucky. They didn’t get to walk away when the going got a little tough. Just like I wouldn’t claim to be a civil rights leader because I am decent white person who tries to listen and better himself, Sanders and his supporters should not claim he was anything more than an enlightened bystander in the movement. And for Sanders supporters to use a discredited photograph and misrepresentation of facts and history to attack and discredit a true hero of the people like John Lewis, just because he didn’t remember Sanders or choose to support him, is reprehensible and the worst sort of politics, the sort of politics that is rightfully condemned when Trump or Cruz does it.

Again, I am so tough on Sanders not because he spit in my cheerios or anything (he’d probably have made a fun intro to Poli Sci professor back in my Junior College days) but because he has claimed a reputation as a “revolutionary” that he has not earned. At least Clinton, as cynical and establishment as she is, has never claimed to be anything other than a left of center Democrat at most. Sanders entire shtick is that he is going to rally the American people together to “destroy inequality and the 1%” and it’s grip on the levers of power in politics and economics. How do you do that as the head of the most power manifestation of that power and inequality? The U.S. Presidency is not, and has never been, a revolutionary office. It is an office of entrenched imperial authority, a powerful force for institutional change at best and of gross repression and exploitation at its worse. It makes me angry that Sanders is all but promising free college to a new generation of young people without any sort of honest discussion on how this is to be done in a congressional system that is jerry-rigged and gerrymandered in favor of incumbent, especially conservative Republican, elements.

My little brother is now excited about having his dream of a free college education come true…but it is a betrayal of his enthusiasm and hope, a crass exercise in cynical emotional manipulation, for Sanders to promise these things as quick legislative fixes instead of the monumental political and institutional slogs they are inevitably going to be. This is the hipster-ification of radical and revolutionary politics that emerged after the collapse of President Obama’s laudable Hope and Change platform. Sanders is a symptom of the cynical navel gazing savior seeking tendencies that have always bedeviled the left and far left; the admission that top down revolutionary change is not only possible, but desirable. This is the utopian tendency of the left in a nutshell. Reform must not be mistaken for revolution. In Sanders we that mistake is taken and turned into a political gospel, his base feeding off the reflected ego that comes from seeing what you want to see out of political ennui bordering on desperation. Electing Sanders would not tear off the chains that link us to an oppressive and inherently violent system: it would merely make those chains more colorful and comfortable so that a whole new generation can slip into them and be sanguine about the prospect of living forever in an exploitative monolith that occasionally gives those who whine the most and loudest a bit of relief from its deprivations. This is not revolution, this is acquiescence. People like my brother deserve a the truth, real hope, real ways to fight for a system that is truly just and democratic and revolutionary, with real opportunities that do not require a toeing of the institutional line. He deserves real hope, and real change, not a false hope and the mimicry of change. Revolution is not performance art, and it is not something that can be brought from the top down, no matter how many people vote for the man at the top.

The Sanders of the world would have us believe that racism is a class issue exclusively or primarily. This is wrong and perhaps even a deliberate obfuscation of reality. Racism is the exact OPPOSITE of a class issue! It violates the bounds and meaning of class at every level. Racism in the U.S. is an institutional caste system based on fear, exploitation, white enrichment, and power. The class element is secondary, or even tertiary to this. Sanders looks at poverty and sees a lot of black faces and white faces…what he fails to realize is that the black faces are there because they are SUPPOSED to be! The system is DESIGNED that way! How else does a convicted violent white felon have twice as much chance as getting a job as a more qualified black college graduate applicant? This is the trap FDR, LBJ, and the Bill Clinton fell into, seeing race as a class issue and thus trying a blanket approach to reform that neglected to even ACKNOWLEDGE that the inherent racist corruption of the system itself would keep the benefits of the social welfare programs and market reforms from benefiting all aspects of society equally. Clinton hit on that in he closing argument last night, and it quite impressed me. Not saying she “gets it”, because of course she does not, she is as much of a shill as Sanders, but at least she does not play up this class issue that has always been yet ANOTHER way for white liberals to avoid the giant rampaging elephant in the room that is institutional racism. Clinton, at least, has never claimed to be a revolutionary figure. As Emperor, at least she would be clothed. Do not buy into the Bernie as Revolutionary Savior meme. As the great Rebel Commander in Charge of Forces Orbiting the Forest Moon of Endor warned us all: “It’s  Trap!”

If you want to read more about Sanders political activities in the 60’s please read this excellent profile by Tim Murphy of Mother Jones magazine:

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/bernie-sanders-core-university-chicago

 

 

 

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