2016 Election, Uncategorized

This Is Not The Revolutionary You Are Looking For

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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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2016 Election, Uncategorized

Why Bernie Sanders Continues to Vex Me

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Ahead of the Iowa Caucuses, the New Hampshire Primary, and the Illinois Primary in March, I am finally ready to make my endorsement for President of the United States. Before I say who I support, though, I feel it is important for people to understand why I came to the decision I did. I did not come to my position lightly. I have weighed the options, watched the debates, engaged with supporters on every side of the aisle and switched my opinion many times in my own mind. I am, first and foremost, a radical thinker. I do not believe in the office of the Presidency as it is currently understood or practiced.

I do not believe in our capitalist system or in our electoral system. We are not a democracy. We have never been a democracy. We should be, but we have never been one. We are a society steeped in racism, sexism, steeped in privilege, economic, social, class based and otherwise (oh so so much otherwise besides). Half of our existence we have been a slave based nation & the other half we have been, to varying degrees, an apartheid state. We must recognize this fact about ourselves if we ever hope to change.

There has been much talk about “transformational” Presidencies, turning points in American history which pivot on the leadership of one man (and it has been a man, always…always a man unfortunately). I am done with this paradigm. History has shown us that change does not, CANNOT in fact, come from above. Indeed, it is dangerous, anti-democratic, and destructive to ideals of human rights, decency, and radical justice to state otherwise. When we displace our radical nature, our radical thoughts and ideas and hopes, and put them onto the shoulders of one human who can “fix the system” or “lead a revolution” we are in fact betraying ourselves and our potential.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates, who I am beginning to see as the radical conscious of my American generation, said: “Radicals expand the political imagination and, hopefully, prevent incrementalism from becoming a virtue.” It is not imaginative to say “this fellow will fix it” or “this fellow will save us” or “this fellow will lead the revolution”. That is a closing of the radical mind, it is a distraction, a dangerous one, a fatal one, one that leads us down the road to politics as personality. We abdicate our responsibilities as human beings, as potential radicals who strive for change, when we put our collective energy and focus into a drive for power over a system instead of a striving to DESTROY the system that is destroying us.

Bernie Sanders said that the idea of reparations for the half a millennium of abuses the U.S. has committed against black people is “divisive” and could never pass through Congress. He has not said the same about his promises to the white middle and working classes regarding College, tax, and healthcare reform. And it is a largely white audience that these ideas are addressed to…black audiences have much more important things to worry about, much more pressing and immediate and life or death concerns. They don’t have the privilege to think saving the welfare state is the top priority for this nation. Our reforms have never reached ALL Americans, they have never benefited black and white equally because none of these reforms EVER addressed the central problem of this nation: black and white people are not, never HAVE BEEN treated equally. If we won’t even admit there is a problem, then no solution, no matter how high minded and liberal seeming, will address the root of our pain. It was when he said that one word, “divisive” that Sen. Sanders lost me.

Having said all that I will declare that I support former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for President. In the end, she knows the game. She knows the struggle of being someone who is constantly being underestimated and insulted for who she is. She is a woman in America, and the fact that she is so powerful and privileged by measures of wealth and class and she STILL is seen as an alien element in the system because of her gender, and yet STILL strives for power and influence in our system is something that I cannot help but respect and admire. She knows the ins and outs, she does not lie and pretend she is a radical. She is cynical, calculating, a shill, and has friends in high places…but that is what our system needs in a leader. We have yet to let a woman have the reigns of power over our system, as corrupted as it is, and we cannot claim to have tried everything within the confines of that system until we allow a representative of that half of humanity that has been perpetually disenfranchised to have a go at running it all.

Radical change cannot come from above, but stability and predictability can, and for us radicals a stable and predictable system, a bit of breathing space, is just what we need in the coming months and years in order for us to gather our strength for REAL change and a REAL program of protest and revolution. Sanders is a dead end, he is a salve for our wounds and a boost to our ego. He is not he change we are looking for, and if we stop looking with him, or if we seek change THROUGH him, we are betraying our potential. Let Clinton have the White House, let her have the power. We should not concern ourselves with such trivial things. I will vote for Clinton because I believe that with her in office it will free us from worrying about the mundane and profane issues of power politics and look to RADICAL solutions, not from above, but from the bottom up.

The problem, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is not in our system or in our leadership but IN OURSELVES and our inaction and cynicism. We don’t need Bernie Sanders. We don’t need the White House. We need our heads clear and our eyes looking forward to NEW and RADICAL solutions to our problems. I do not like Hillary Clinton personally, I do not like her connections, but I can say, deep down, that I can trust her with the White House and with that power. The Sanders moment has shown us that we thirst for real change. Let us not stop with Sanders, let us not waste our time with him. Let’s try for something more. We deserve more than Sanders. Our system, such as it is, deserves Hillary Clinton. She is made for it. Let her have a chance.

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Democracy, Politics

This is A Coup!

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No More Nation States, for they are nothing but Kings without Crowns

No More Bankers, for they are nothing but thieves in $5000 suits

No More World Bank, for it is nothing but a caviar munching cartel

No More Austerity, for it is nothing but a scorched earth invasion without soldiers

No More Fascism, for it is the greatest perversion of politics ever conceived of by humans

No More Corporations, for they are Frankenstein Monsters assembled from the wealth of the People

No More Politicians, for they are nothing but a wall between The People and Power

No More Free Market Capitalism, for it is a death cult that feeds upon the dreams and labor and needs of humanity

No More Military, for the people can defend themselves

No More War, for it is just capitalism by violent means

No More!

This is A Coup!

And We Will Replace Austerity With Justice!

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