Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stephanie McMillan was a guest on a local radio talk show the other night, discussing  her newest work, “Capitalism Must Die” . As I heard her speak my heart went out to her.  She has written:
“About Minimum Security
A group of friends vow to do whatever it takes to stop evil corporate overlords from destroying the Earth. How? They aren’t sure. They explore various strategies, but so far nothing has worked. As they build a resistance movement, those who love them the most can be their biggest obstacles.”

I am one of those obstacles. I called in and asked her to address the premise that by resisting, and opposing, “them”, she was in fact empowering them. Why didn’t she just walk away. I avoided the psycho, philio arguments that couldn’t be addressed in this little format but went on to suggest that no one was holding a gun to her head, forcing her to shop at Walmart for example. She responded with an argument that indeed they were holding a gun to our collective heads and they will seek us out if we walk away and kill us. The host pushed her further and suggested that the implications of resistance were violent and many listeners are violence adverse. She itemized many small actions people might take to support the movement without violence. What she didn’t say, what Fanon and others have said and demonstrated, that “they” use extreme violence (Occupy) and there is no way to unseat them peacefully. 

Slavoj Zizek argues in “Mapping Ideology” that the state is withering from the dominance of “mafias” that are supplanting so-called legitimate regimes at the top, and ethno-populist  aggregations are rejecting suppression from federalist authorities at the bottom. When the de-racinated us, that so smugly believe we are some how part of the great middle class, an entitled minority, come to the realization that we are no more than fodder for the consumption maw, the necessity of an alternative will be even more obvious. Disaster; eco, nuclear, will generate the the kind of crisis that will demand change. The issue for us, in the here and now, is what to do in the meantime? 

Elina St-Onge is another neo-Marxist that cleverly embraces the ideology of the left while never mentioning it head on. Her new book “How to Change the World” free here  is an inspiring thoughtful discussion of the possibilities of how to imagine a post consumption world without actually incorporating the kind of specificity that any reader needs to construct how she will manage to sustain herself in an evolutionary environment.

All of the above, and the complement of new publications like Capital, by Thomas Piketty are read and discussed within the context of business as usual. The left argues for higher wages, not the alternative to wage slavery. Advocates argue for safer cars (robotic), not the alternative public transportation. The sharing economy morphs into capitalist ventures, Uber, or become platforms for ever more marketing campaigns for ever more stuff. Piketty argues for increased taxation, not the redistribution of public wealth. (The alternative to the bank bailout was a mortgage bailout. Either solution involved the creation of public debt).

You can join a movement, elect what you imagine are informed alternatives to business as usual, and suffer the agony when it is revealed that your alternative, wasn’t. Or, you can join the outlaw band, and roll your own. Of course that will require a rigorous self examination of what you are willing to sacrifice in the process. In the run-up to a new program we are developing on a college campus I asked the principals to ask students to put their i-phones , and other Apple made gee-gaws in the trash as an example of good faith if they are indeed willing to change their ethics in the search for a common good. I mean if we are going to invoke the workers struggle we have to acknowledge that this is one of the most conspicuous exploitations of workers on the planet. They are committing suicide, leaping from the factory roofs. No takers. I can’t wait for them. Never have. 

This blog has intended to suggest, often in detail, the ways and means to secure your survival. I don’t believe that They will hunt you down. If you pull this off, they can’t recognize you. Not because you are wearing a  balaclava, but because you  are a chameleon and dress for success. Whatever that requires at the time. You have the capacity now to establish a sustainable plan that will work at least until they burn the planet. Your first move is to reimagine yourself in terms of what really counts. The next move is to take the target off your back. You cannot fashion a revolution, or stylize yourself in such a way as to be at once cool, and at the same time hope to escape the notice of the forces you oppose. You have to form meaningful alliances. Not affinity groups, or communes of like minded individuals. You have to supplant your competency with whatever else you need in a mutual alliance. This pragmatism transcends politics, religion, or sexual orientation. You have to re-establish links with the members of your immediate circle and shake off the lies of individualism and the nonsense of shame associated with staying connected with those who have your back. You have to pool your resources, private and public, and cut as many ties to stuff as you can imagine. 

Walk away. Roll your own. Don’t for a minute believe anyone cares more about you, than the ones you love.