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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Words About Revolution

Fake Revolution
Image found at Secret History
Commentor Your Favorite Bartender has
challenged me with some questions
left at my post about revolution (A Word About Revolution.). First, I thank YFB for taking the time to read and think about my points, and doubly so for offering his thoughts. I would like to attempt some explanation here.

The original post explored the fallacies and failures of conventional, utopian revolution, then offered some prescription for alternate paths to a just and humane society.

(It holds a strikingly anti-capitalistic stance, and as I consider "socialism" a philosophy merely reactionary to capitalism - unable to say anything "new" about our relationship to the world, the post is also anti-socialistic. It is this bit that "devout capitalist" YFB and I won't see eye-to-eye on. It is certainly not a great moral failure to be in thrall to capitalism in this day and age - it is, after all, presented to us with all of the vigor of a global religion, and so I won't waste words objecting to that.)

I said:
Revolution is merely eye-for-an-eye expressed in generational terms. Demonizing an "elite" and overthrowing it merely puts the revolutionaries in the same psychic position as the elite. And they will act exactly the same...
I then offered three ideas, as an alternative to classic revolutionaries' capture-the-flag shenanigans:
  • Stop respecting the idea of property. (No, this is not a call to vandalism. There are lots and lots of people out there who do respect the idea of property, and there is no percentage in inviting their outrage.) Forget about dividing it up "equally." Ignore it outright (while respecting those who are still deluded by it.) Buy or rent (because our sick society is set up that way), but know in your heart that it isn't really yours at all. Property is a man-made idea, and a very bad one at that.
  • Money should never be used to transact in human rights. These include food, clothing, shelter, medicine. Go ahead and use money to buy these things (because our sick society is set up that way), but avoid charging for these things as much as possible. Be subversive, trade, share, be the change that you want to see.
  • Do not exploit the labor of your fellow human beings for your own profit. This is flat-out evil, and the fact that it is considered normal, moral business practice is a flashing-red indicator that the system of capitalism is also flat-out evil. If you care to provide a service which requires "employees," then get equal partners. Subtract the greed from your deeds.
Now, these were not meant to be exhaustive, but merely suggestive of a mind-set (YFB's characterization of them as a "three tiered concept" is a little misleading), and people more brilliant than I can flesh out the details as they come up.

Now, here is
YFB's comment
in its entirety:
My question is a simple one. Isn't what you are talking about just another form of revolution? Wouldn't the inevitable conclusion of your three tiered concept of rejecting the very notion of wealth (sidetopic: is it really possible to reject a notion? Isn't a notion a thought, and once having a thought, is it really possible to put that apparition back in the bottle?) be to, eventually, cost those who still prize possessions and wealth their possessions and wealth? If this did work out, and more and more of us rejected the capitalist ideals you seem to hope we'll reject, then we would be reducing the overall consumer base for those who wish money, property, and the power that (under the sick system) comes with the money and property? So isn’t it, then, a revolution? All dressed up in the latest Abercrombie & Fitch skinny jeans, but still a revolution? And if that’s the case, then how do you possibly expect the revolution to be successful when it clearly isn’t going to get any media play, since we all know it’s the car crash that gets the media play, not the smoothly flowing interstate. I have attempted not to simply scoff at your notion (as I, a devout capitalist, am want to do), and I’m not the kind of jackass capitalist who believes that 10 year olds in China should be sewing soccer balls with their teeth, I believe in regulation and…you know…human decency and shit. I just wonder about whether or not the revolution will be televised (or at least passes a million YouTube hits), because if it isn’t, I vaguely remember something about a tree falling in the woods…
OK, here we go:
Isn't what you are talking about just another form of revolution?
Of course, and I'm glad you noticed. Without getting into semantical debate, what I was attempting to outline the characteristics of a true revolution, as the existing meme of utopian revolutionaries appear to me be a continuation of the status quo, hidden behind generational cycles. That was a good catch, YFB!
Wouldn't the inevitable conclusion of your... concept of rejecting the very notion of wealth be to, eventually, cost those who still prize possessions and wealth their possessions and wealth? If this did work out, and more and more of us rejected the capitalist ideals you seem to hope we'll reject, then we would be reducing the overall consumer base for those who wish money, property, and the power that (under the sick system) comes with the money and property? So isn’t it, then, a revolution? All dressed up in the latest Abercrombie & Fitch skinny jeans, but still a revolution?
Yes, except such a revolution would or could only occur if consumerism went into the dust-bin of history as well. No Abercrombie & Fitch.
And if that’s the case, then how do you possibly expect the revolution to be successful when it clearly isn’t going to get any media play, since we all know it’s the car crash that gets the media play, not the smoothly flowing interstate... I just wonder about whether or not the revolution will be televised (or at least passes a million YouTube hits), because if it isn’t, I vaguely remember something about a tree falling in the woods…
Well, what I vaguely remember is that the tree falls, and who gives a shit whether someone hears it or not? That is my general answer.

However, I think your question masks another assumption - that revolution has to involve everyone or it's no revolution at all. Again, that's old style utopian revolution, with its brutal impositions of ideology upon people who really just want live, eat, reproduce and die. Media is vital to that sort of (tired and worn-out) revolution.

Remember, the revolution I advocate is primarily a mind-set. It happens, quite successfully, one person at a time. My kind of revolutionary can live amidst any settled social arrangements, it is my behaviour that counts, not the world's.

This does bring up another matter. One of the reasons that I am so certain that this will work is because the capitalists have told me so, in no uncertain terms. Because capitalists evidently can't live with me. Because I represent something that is real and possible, and they cannot have people dropping out of the game, because then their game loses its meaning, and their gold loses it shimmer. And they object. Strenuously. The history of the South and Central Americas will instruct you on how our military handles anti-capitalists (OK, these were socialists, but if you think these guys get spooked at their mirror-images, wait'll they get a load of me.)

Also, remember the "communes" of the '70's? How they were full of a bunch of dirty fucking hippies who took drugs, swapped partners, and left their children filthy and fending for themselves? Did you ever go to one? Or did you see one on the... wait for it... teevee? That's how the media treats people who drop out of the system. They are demonized and shunned.

You, too, will be demonized and shunned. When that happens, you know you're doing something right.


Thank you once again, Your Favorite Bartender. Catch you in the comments, my friend!

8 comments:

  1. Your Favorite BartenderApril 14, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    (Bringing you another Harp)
    Okay...
    Let's start with this. "The original post explored the fallacies and failures of conventional, utopian revolution, and then offered some prescription for alternate paths to a just and humane society."

    Wikipedia (and isn't that just about the most shining example of your ideal...the masses literally creating the meaning of...well...everything?) defines "society" as;

    Society or human society is the set of relations among people, including their social status and roles. By extension, society denotes the people of a region or country, sometimes even the world, taken as a whole.

    The key element here is that society "denotes the people of a region or country, sometimes even the world, taken as a whole." Let's take a step back from "the whole world" as that clearly is NOT what you are talking about, but if you really believe that these ideals are "paths to a just and humane society" then by definition the inclusion is broad, even if it is just for a "mind-set." This would, by extension, require at least some form of media. Perhaps the Twitterverse could make it happen, but could you really ever overtake the Biebers and Conans of the world, and wouldn't you need to at least temporarily hit the "trends" page to make it happen?

    Continued...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your Favorite BartenderApril 14, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    Continued from the last post...

    (Pouring a cazadores)

    But let's get beyond semantics for a minute. I tend to disagree (while simultaneously admitting that it's an awfully sexy idea) that capitalists can't live without you. We are, in fact, living with you quite comfortably. While your capitalist footprint might not be as well defined as it once way, it's still there. You still make The Worlds Greatest Burgers and purchase (I'm guessing) your imported beer and use the electricity and gas (even if it is in that socialist monolith...the public bus...ewww...I need to shower after that image) but you weren't exactly the conspicuous consumer in the first place. If I remember correctly you lived in quite a nice condo, but you did so without an automobile (and automobiles are, obviously, just about the pinnacle of capitalism, complete status symbols purchased pretty much as often as one can afford to purchase, with only occasional regard to the environment, human rights, or anything else), and if I remember correctly really the most impressive (in a capitalistic sense) thing about you was a truly mind blowing collection of CDs and DVDs. We capitalists would hardly miss you, and we still don't, because you still contribute, regardless of what your "mind-set" tell you you're doing. You are part of the all singing all dancing mass of consumers. No, you're not camping out in a $2000 Eddie Bauer tent overnight to buy your iPad complete with AT&T 3G contract (but wouldn't it make it easier for you to update DTM if you had one of those shiny new things?), but you still contribute. You can't help but contribute unless you go all Grizzly Man and head north to Palin-country where, lets face it, you'll probably get shot by someone hunting wolves.

    (Pouring a Bombay Sapphire Martini)

    And finally, I've been waiting for you to bring up the 70s communes(you like to use them as examples if I recall) I'll call your partner swapping, drug fuelled nihilism of the 70's and raise you the cocaine fuelled EVERYBODY swapping of the (capitalist golden age) 80s. You see, the dirty little secret of capitalism is that we can't be beaten, like the Borg, we simply assimilate. In the 70s the capitalist was the guy with the best weed, the best Quaaludes, the best blow. Eventually his stuff was so good that the capitalists started heading down to the communes to score (the way I used to head down to the Grateful Dead shows to cop the sweetest green around, even though I thought Jerry and the Gang were basically the most overrated cover band in history). Once we get down there we find we kind of like the free sex/cheap drugs/greasy hair and we simply make it our own.

    Sure we demonize and shun you, but then you look up and...HOLY SHIT!...Abercrombie & Fitch is selling that same parka you got a blowjob from your best friend's best friend under for $130.

    Which is right about where you are now. Now you're pissed because we've gone and corrupted your "mind-set" and you, as part of your nature, are trying to figure out how to be "different" than the rest of us again. Oh, and by the way, those children y'all left filthy and fending for themselves? Yeah, we're the ones with the $130 parka, and we're getting a blowjob from the same woman you were (cougars are HOT).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not that I have anything to hide, but you used an uncomfortable amount of personal lifestyle information in making your points! I know you were expressing a congeniality, but this is, after all, a public forum. It's all good, though.

    (By the way, for my readers - my consumerist phase is over - books, DVDs and CDs went to Amazon, eBay, and the remaining bulk to another seller.)

    So, you're the right's answer to the Rude Pundit today, eh? (*chuckle*)

    I recognize the strawman that you have set yourself against in your arguments, and I am not he. As such, I will not rebut in "his" defense, even as I might find that you were a bit hard on the fellow.

    One thing you argue - and this is what makes me think you are missing my point entirely - is that capitalists "can't be beaten" (I assure readers that the snark about the Borg is vintage sarcastic humour from this chap).

    I have no interest in beating, converting, eliminating or assimilating anyone! Why would I do that to another beating heart, equal to me as myself or any other?

    I simply feel - no, I know - that there are healthier options for human relationship than that represented by our capitalist culture. There will most likely always be a place for money and its market transactions, but this is a poor marker for human happiness. And it is the unrest of those who can't think outside of the money box that is the cause of perhaps not all of the violence in the world, but it owns a fucking lot of it.

    I am simply saying that I vow to take the first step and treat the Other in a right way, regardless of whether the Other is, ahem, "capitalist" or otherwise poorly educated. So you will be treated like a brother, even if you are bent on "assimilating" me (happily, education is like time - it has a uni-directional arrow, so my assimilation is as unlikely to occur as the vermouth spontaneously unmixing in that Sapphire martini you just made... wait, you put vermouth in my martini? Are you mad, sir?)

    I like to use the example of communes not because I find them desirable or romantic (I'm a bit hermetic myself, preferring - no, loving - one-on-one kibitzing), but because I believe the ideas I am talking about will, at least initially, manifest in roughly this way. Largely because the resource crisis, which is well upon us, will demand that things will be local, if not downright tribal.

    So, not global - but pockets of sanity, growing from the bottom up.

    Thanks for the drinks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your Favorite BartenderApril 14, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    Alas, I apologize for the personalization (I think I made the same mistake the last time I was a regular visitor). I can say that, even back in the Desert Days you still seemed to exemplify the standards you speak of, even if back then they were only in the germanic stages...

    The pockets of sanity...I guess I've always been more of a "mass appeal" person...more likely to like the mass market Nirvana than their Mudhoney fathers...

    I must say that (despite what I'm sure your readership thinks) I gain intelligence as I chat with you...and desperately miss my opportunities to impress with a 50 cent work or (more likely) a 10 cent theory. I will forever play the foil to you, as I will likely be (at least) one step behind on theory and (at least) two steps behind on the facts to back those theories up...still miss those chats...happy hour must be over...

    You walked on your tab by the way...no worries, we know you're good for it! Keep writing, see you soon!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You rock, my friend.

    It is precisely because of people like you that I maintain a deep faith in our fundamental humanity.

    Said with love, if it need be pointed out.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "germanic"

    LOL. I assume you mean "germinal" here, but you right-wingers just can't help yourselves, can you?

    (OK, ducking behind couch. That was a totally inappropriate cheap shot, but on the other hand I know FaveB loves totally inappropriate cheap shots.)

    Again, with love. ;)

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  7. Your Favorite BartenderApril 15, 2010 at 10:24 AM

    That was uncalled for, and you, my friend, are cut off for the night!

    (Adopting that weird, high pitched voice Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck get when challenged on something they said that is clearly, unmistakably wrong) ...and no! No I DID mean "germanic"...I TOTALLY did...because you...you are...you're obviously German...TOTALLY German...so you are...YOU ARE HITLER!!! You and your Obama-loving-gay-people-who-will-convert-our-children-to-Islam-defending-heroin-legalizing-Hollywood-East-Coast-intellectual-who-knows-nothing-about-our-Founding-Fathers are ALL Hitler!! You're Hitler AND the Joker from Batman (and NOT the lovable Cesar Romero Joker...the SOCIALIST joker who was also a Gay Cowboy!)! And I'm pretty sure you were born in the Himalaya mountains, so you are probably an illegal immigrant stealing my job too!!!!!

    ...yes...yes I meant "germinal"...

    ReplyDelete

I welcome all reactions and points of view, so comments here are not moderated. Cheerfully "colorful" language is great. I'll even tolerate some ad hominem directed against me... each other, not so much. Racist or excessively abusive comments (or spam) will be deleted at my discretion.