When’s the Revolution?

Published by marco on

Each new indignity reported from the States leads to this question. When are U.S. Americans going to shake off their parasitic elite? When will they wake up from their Soma coma?

The article On Our Knees by Missy Comley Beattie (CounterPunch) poses the same question as she considers the 2020 candidates.

“Dear God, I shake my head with no, no, no, no, and at the risk of being accused of ageism, I say, “Biden is too old.” So is Sanders, so is Trump, and so is Hillary Clinton—and yes, she has threatened to enter the field if the Democrats move too far to the left.

“Too far to the left? Following even a few of Jesus Christ’s tenets is Leftist anarchy according to Republican Congressmen and women and most Dem Congressmen and women. (Emphasis added.)”

In the video below, Madigan makes a similar point: that older people have different concerns and different ideas about how the world should work—mostly rooted in decades-old indoctrination. Some of it is helpful; some is outdated; some is horrific; some is counterproductive. It’s a mixed bag.

Kathleen Madigan Wants Congress to Say Bye-Bye to 'PawPaw' by Kathleen Madigan (YouTube)

I like the expression “No, Paw-paw”. It’s very appropriate to many of the lunatic ideas running our society that we’re encouraged to consider normal and, more importantly, eternal and unchanging.

Adapting is too much work

With age, most people’s already-limited ability to express themselves wanes. So, too, does their ability to evaluate and integrate change. This inability is not limited to older people—most people think they know everything they’re ever going to need to know by the time they’re thirty years old, at the latest.

Being able to honestly consider new concepts and either reject them, incorporate them or modify them based on rational reasoning without bias is a skill that needs daily—or, at least, weekly—honing to stay sharp. Once it dulls, it may never take an edge again.

The 2020 Elections, of course

Just under 20 months out from the next presidential election—that’s over a year and a half, by the way—and the field is getting crowded by buffoons and buffoonettes. We’re supposed to be pleased that just as many female fools are pretenders to the throne this year. This is called progress. The most progressive and interesting, Tulsi Gabbard, will be mercilessly bullied and smeared until she’ll soon quit, until only the malleable milquetoasts remain.

That the field is crowded just over halfway through the current 4-year term is the best indicator that the U.S. and its first-through-fourth columns haven’t learned a good, god-damned thing from the last election. They’ve been unable to talk about anything but all of the lessons that they learned, though.

The trick is that they talk about lessons that they didn’t learn whereas the lesson they did learn is that they have complete control of our minds and will guide our somnambulism toward their candidate of choice, as they’ve been doing for decades. And their candidate of choice will be chosen by those already in power.

Subverting the Revolution

They are not wrong.

We have never tried to prove them wrong.

Not really.

Every movement we have loses power in the face of attack. Or it is co-opted by the corporate powers-that-be. Movements are rarely squashed anymore. Although direct confrontation—shooting Fred Hampton in bed, for example—doesn’t bring down the reprobation one would expect, it still engenders far more blowback than it’s worth, especially when other methods have proven far more effective.

Why use force when you can brainwash more effectively instead? Converting or subverting ardent would-be revolutionaries to ardent foot soldiers is much more effective. There ain’t no proponent like a born-again proponent. It’s dry alcoholics, new vegans, the nouveau riche and born-again Christians who are the most convinced and most evangelical about their newly chosen lifestyles.

Comley Beattie continues:

“If Clinton were Madam President, we wouldn’t see nearly as much outrage—the necessary degree required to move us from the immorality of capitalism to the morality of socialism. It’s shameful though that Trump’s naked racism and oozing disdain for anyone but the ultra-privileged are the requisites for an authentic resistance to inequality.

“You go with what you have, not with what you might wish you have or want. Go with the knowledge that often you have to be brought to your knees before you are motivated to stand. At this moment in our history, we are on our knees.”

Europe’s Lenin?

It’s becoming increasingly obvious—with each new indignity—that America is ripe for a new revolution. For that, we need new leaders, revolutionary and inspiring leaders. That’s what’s always worked in the past. We need a Lenin.

Lee Camp’s probably not Lenin, but he’s damned good at what he does on his show, Redacted Tonight (YouTube). Every week, he has a thoughtful and insightful and often dryly funny diatribe on the state of the world. But he’s probably not a Lenin.

When I read the article Let’s Change Europe From the Ground Up by Yanis Varoufakis (CounterPunch), I was wondering whether I’d found him.

Varoufakis is the former finance minister of Greece and he’s brilliant. He’s heading up a new party in Europe called DiEM25—Democracy in Europe Movement 2015—for the next elections. Their platform is interesting and bold and … revolutionary. This party proposes not to dismantle Europe, but to seize the reins of power from the elites through elections and to use the powerful existing European institutions to benefit the many instead.

“If I am right, it does not matter whether the EU is or isn’t reformable, but it does matter that we put forward concrete proposals on what we would do with EU institutions. Not utopian proposals but complete descriptions of what we would do this week, next month, in the next year, under the existing rules and with the existing instruments — how we would reassign the role of the awful European Stability Mechanism, reorient the ECB’s quantitative easing, and finance immediately, and without new taxes, a green transition and campaign against poverty.

“[…]

“Everyone talks about the importance of the green transition. What they do not say is where the money will come from and who will plan it. Our answer is clear: Europe needs to invest €2 trillion between 2019 and 2023 in green technologies, energy etc. We propose that the EIB issues an additional volume of its bonds, €500bn annually for four years, and that the ECB announces that, if their value drops, it will purchase these on the secondary bond market. With that announcement, and the glut of savings around the world, the ECB will not have to spend a single euro, as the EIB bonds will sell out. […]

“This proposal requires no new taxes, builds on an existing European bond and is fully legal under existing rules.”

I may have missed them, but I’m not hearing such comprehensive proposals for sweeping change from anyone in the U.S. There are proposals, but they’re already channeled into well-worn and establishes courses—health-care, green new deal, etc. We have to distinguish between something like the Green New Deal—which is not policy or any law that can actually be enacted, but aspirational—and concrete plans for reallocation of resources, as outlined by diEM25 above.

Varoufakis concludes:

“Our message to Europe’s authoritarian establishment: we will resist you through a radical programme that is technically more sophisticated than yours. Our message to the fascistic xenophobes: we will fight you everywhere. Our message to our comrades of the European left: you can expect unlimited solidarity from us, and one day our paths will converge in the service of a radical, transnational humanism.”

If America is to get out of the hole it’s in—or even to survive in any meaningful form that makes the majority of lives worth living—it needs to find its own Lenin. We’ve had them in the past, but they’ve had a nasty habit of getting assassinated—MLK and Malcolm X come to mind.

On the question of age

Bernie Sanders isn’t bad—he’s pretty good. He’s quite sharp right now. He’s just a touch old and I’m wondering how long he’s going to be able to keep it up.

There are two gentlemen who give me hope: Noam Chomsky (90) and Ralph Nader (85). Nader still hosts his own radio show, Ralph Nader’s Radio Hour that is interesting nearly every week. In particular, his recent interview with Noam Chomsky was a very good conversation about global and U.S. politics, strategy and morality.[1]

In the chatter after the interview, Nader and his co-hosts discussed a recent Trump speech. Nader said (and I’m quoting from memory, but this was the gist of it):

“Did you hear [Trump’s] speech the other day? Off the rails. He even mentioned during it that he was going off the rails. 2 hours long! He spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the crowd size at his own inauguration two years ago. He’s an absolute lunatic![2]

This is the right way to bash Trump—for ridiculous things he’s done, not for things we’d like to have done so that we can hate him more.

People think we missed the boat when we didn’t elect Bernie. At that point, we’d already missed the boat on Ralph 3 times. I voted for him twice.

I’d fervently like to see that timeline. I bet it’s not the darkest one. I bet it’s brighter than this one.

Where is America’s Lenin?

Nader gives props to the young people that are coming out of the woodwork to fight for their planet. This is a fantastic development, but they can’t be the leaders. Ten-year–olds being led by 16-year–olds is a good start, but they don’t know anything. They’re too easy to ignore. They are fervent, they are passionate, but they don’t know anything yet. You don’t have to be much older—you just need more experience and to be a bit better-read so that you don’t get wrong-footed in every single debate you’re in. You need a bit of gravitas, a bit of worldliness. You need charisma. Yelling over other people isn’t charisma. The world is not going to change because of fervency—at least not for the better.

There are good examples of young revolutionaries who were well-educated, well-read and very capable in debate. Stokley Carmichael and Che Guevara in the 20th century come to mind. A lisping 10-year–old yelling that we’re “destwoying the pwanet” might be endearing, but it’s not the start of a movement.

A Swedish 16-year–old invited to speak at WEF is already well on her way to being co-opted. She doesn’t know enough to refuse their invitation, probably convinced by others that she can defeat them from within. That has almost never worked and is highly unlikely to work in the well-oiled machine (not pun intended) of western capitalism and media today.

The recent, much-publicized “confrontation” between Dianne Feinstein and the schoolchildren is a manufactured moment. It was designed to make her look bad, but did so only for certain groups. It was a moment designed not to win anyone over but to get exposure and to harden the two fronts. At least as many people thought Feinstein gave the class a good talking-to as thought that she looked like an ancient talking-box spouting senseless catechisms.

Was there a chance that she would see the error of her ways? Absolutely not. Either you get the confrontation you had hoped for—and Feinstein would “look bad”—or she would have lied and accepted their gifts with a cadaverous grimace and all would have been quickly forgotten.

The woman was just re-elected to a six-year term last year and she’s 85 years old. Where the actual fuck was any candidate between 25 and 60? What the actual hell? Of course she’s confident in her opinions and her position; there’s obviously absolutely nothing threatening them.

You can’t engage someone that powerful face-to-face because they will almost certainly be able to play the moment at least as much to their favor as to yours. They’re not in that position because they’re a doddering fool. They may not have the planet’s best interests at heart, but they’re a fucking ninth-level, black-belt grand-master at promoting and defending their own. Do not underestimate them.

If people are too young, we always suspect manipulation. If people are too old, we suspect senility. We need the interim generations to do something. We need inspirational people from the middle who will not be turned away.

We need a revolution that doesn’t take no for an answer. It should be non-violent.

We need our Lenins. We need our Trotskys.

When we get them, we need to stay awake and pay attention.


[1]

Nader’s next interview was The End of Ice, with Dahr Jamail, in which he and Dahr discussed the climate crisis. This was another very good interview, in which Jamail said:

“I quote Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident writer and statesman. And he reminds us that as he said, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.” And that’s where I get into this moral obligation that no matter how dire things look, that we are absolutely morally obliged to do everything we can in our power to try to make this better.”
[2] Just because Nader kept calling Trump “Captain Qeequeg” doesn’t mean he’s senile. It’s a natural mistake, if you read the book 60 years ago. Queeqeg was the harpooner on the Pequod with Captain Ahab. He wasn’t even first mate, though. That was Starbuck.