Rage Into The Machine

An overlooked irony in the 2008 US presidential race was that armed-struggler turned professor, Bill Ayers, was now a cog in the same Chicago political machine that empowered his former arch-nemesis (and friend of his father), Richard M.Daley with goons to chase and beat Ayers and the other dissenters outside of the 1968 DNC. This fact was not relevant to the McCain campaign, and would likely been unhealthy for the red-baiting of Obama which was pretty much all the GOP had to run on, after eight years of sloppy, sloppy power.

I’m writing from Pittsburgh and the Chicago machine is scary to me and that should tell you something. Didn’t the governor try to sell a congressional seat on ebay or something?

I hadn’t considered it at the time but all the criticisms of a “reasonable”, corporate friendly, Chicago power politician as a “socialist”, “radical black-liberation theologian” ,”Marxist”  who wanted to “redistribute wealth” etc. weren’t just amusing, but dangerous, as they caused oppressed people and leftists to rally around him yet, gave Obama many opportunities to prove that he could keep the “rabble in check,” and that his loyalty to power was greater than to the masses.

I’ve never been too impressed with 1960s US student radicals, partly because I saw where many of them ended up, and partly because the shit happening in the rest of the world was so much more awesome. I’m sure it also has something to do with the anti-intellectualism that was so prevalent in working-class neighborhoods and families. Higher education was a “waste of time” when steel jobs paid more than many jobs which required a degree.

It’s often remarked that half of the Weatherman Underground are in prison and the other half are college professors. An exception is another “Days of Rage” participant turned registered lobbyist and Obama fundraiser, Marylin Katz, who is also a flack-catcher for various Chicago agencies, including their storied police department‘s community policing initiative as well as about a dozen other agencies.

I’m not sure what role Ms. Katz had in managing the rest of the irrelevant aging new lefties, who spun Obama’s candidacy to legitimacy amongst those who profess to have radical politics. Long-time sycophant Tom Hayden continues to enrich himself promoting the progressive personality du jour. I guess the Democrats finally noticed the successful GOP strategy of the past 25 years that involves appealing to the ideological base to win the center. What remains to be seen is whether the Dems will continue their policy of screwing their base or will they actually make some concessions? The business unions have continued to unconditionally support the Dems despite their horrible track record on labor issues.

What lesson can modern radicals take from all of this? If you’re selling out, make sure you’re compensated for it and a system that can recuperate (sub)urban guerrillas can find a place for anyone who is interested. Still, I wonder what Shortshanks would think of his former opponents’ places at his table?

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An Open Letter to the “Anarchists” Who Voted for Obama

In a future revolutionary period, the most subtle and most dangerous defenders of capitalism will not be the people shouting pro-capitalist and pro-statist slogans, but those who have understood the possible point of a total rupture. Far from eulogizing TV commercials and social submission, they will propose to change life… but, to that end, call for building a true democratic power first. If they succeed in dominating the situation, the creation of this new political form will use up people’s energy, fritter away radical aspirations and, with the means becoming the end, will once again turn revolution into an ideology. Against them, and of course against overtly capitalist reaction, the proletarians’ only path to success will be the multiplication of concrete communist initiatives, which will naturally often be denounced as anti-democratic or even as.. “fascist”. The struggle to establish places and moments for deliberation and decision, making possible the autonomy of the movement, will prove inseparable from practical measures aimed at changing life.
-Gilles Dauvé: When Insurrections Die (Part 2)

Beloved and respected friends and comrades,

I’ve been putting this off for a little while, because it pertains to those who I “know” only digitally, and those of you whom I know and care for, which is little different than my normal motives for procrastinating. I’m also having difficulty coming to any kind of conclusive conclusion. Sometimes I feel like that straight-edge teen I used to be. The one who had to ignore my friend’s personal habits, if I wanted the friends I had. I’ve since exchanged abstinence for abstention, but the moral highlands get lonely. We all have moments, every day, when our words and actions are not explicitly anarchist ones. That’s no real contradiction. Theory’s theory,  and reality is reality. I lack the formal education to decide at what point (or which actions) we rack up enough ‘un-anarchist’ points to get the discount on gas or free coffee or purged from the Movement.

The recent US national election saw many of you anarchists (outside of the title, I’ll refrain from using quotation marks or “self-described” out of respect) publicly endorse and proudly vote for Barack Obama. I was unaware of the existence of modern anarchists in the US in August of 1999, but when I look back, I can find no evidence of any radical fanfare when Franklin Raines became CEO of Fannie Mae.

Looking back, It seems that anarchist involvement in US political conventions seems to be a baby-boomer contribution. I’m unaware of any anarchist actions at the political party conventions before 1968. Other than the tactical lack of Republican mobs in the street, we seem to harbor a soft spot for the Democrats. Maybe later we can figure that one out and we can also discuss why we even protest the political conventions?

This election, many people who identify as anarchists, saw no contradiction in voting. Some of you weren’t even the “hold your nose and vote” types. Some anarchists seem  proud of themselves, their country, and their candidate, for the moment, but that’s a moment too long. The reasons you gave us were pretty much the same reasons that people who vote democratic tend to give, plus some debatable notions that democratic administrations allow room for social movements to flourish (like they’re mountain lions) and murky stuff about solidarity. Which you may remember is the flipside of my past endorsements of “the worse of two evils”, because “an increase in open repression, privation, and alienation would push our beloved homogeneous masses to open mutiny” and that “republican policies can hasten the end of US empire quicker than the democrats can”. But I was less than half-serious and never actually went through with it. I didn’t have much internet access before the election, so I was unaware of this backslide into electoral superstition.

The  memory escapes me, but I am unaware of democrats nurturing radical social movements, I remember many armed right wing, “partiot”  groups, who are in favor of Jesus, if they don’t consider themselves Jesus. This time around, they can protect us from the UN and the Federal Reserve and al Qaeda in Idaho.  Dubya just didn’t deploy the black helicopters like Clinton did. Conspiracy kingpin, Alex Jones, should be able to afford an island soon. This is good news for the State security apparatus, because the similarities in views, structure, goals, and appearance between the FBI and the theocratic militias is much easier than these years of tormenting Muslims.

Anarchist voters also had to be pretty certain that Obama would govern from the center-right, in the manner expected of a modern US president, because if he was the “marxist” that right-wing radio still maintain he his, the repression against anarchists would likely be swift and brutal, if the 20th century is any indicator. The 21st century hasn’t proven to be much better.

Some of us knew that the campus radicals were easy prey for the democrats. The rise in anarchist votes in the last two elections seems to be reflective of the recent increase in youth turnout, overall, but many comrades who should have known better, “signed their social contract” last week. It’s not hard to see where material conditions become more of a concern as the acceptable age for youthful rebellion in the US is left behind. Add a few kids to that mix, and anything that has an outside chance to make material conditions even slightly less miserable must seem like a real good idea. Besides, who doesn’t crave some legitimacy every now and again and the pressure exerted by the people around you can be great? I also have the luxury of not being canvassed all day by co-workers.

I think that many of the anarchists who are concerned with building a mass movement of some sort, may have been more susceptible to voting. It’s likely some anti-authoritarians wanted to be on the winning team for a change, because there was that kind of group energy and momentum swirling around the Obama campaign, if you were willing to ignore the structure and aims. The business unions may have made voters out of some the anarchists who are there to radicalize the union. Which is telling, as far as the notion of changing the system from within is concerned, as if that one needed another debunking.

We tend to run with a pretty iconoclastic bunch, so it’s easy to forget, but hard to discount the effect that endorsements by some of the leading lights of mainstream anti-authoritarian academia must had. Bill Ayers probably gave Obama some radical credibility. Or was it radical chic? The republicans simply couldn’t grasp the political reality that people like Ayers are big-money liberal fund-raising props, like their wounded troops and police widows. Liberals love proxy violence and armed-struggle; so long as it is from another time or place, as sure as conservatives love US military and police violence. Zapatistas and Sandinistas and aging bombers are venerated money magnets, but break a window at a present day demo or hit a nazi with a stick and their American Exceptionalism is triggered. They’re incensed.

Like christmas, it’s not easy to avoid being sucked into the campaign reality grid, considering the resources expended on sucking us in. Avoiding Obama’s gravitational pull wasn’t easy, either. I guess even I’d seem pretty attractive if I spent $650 million of someone elses money to do so. I love politics as a spectator sport, though and this cycle was particularly entertaining, but I still don’t have a favorite team. Having lived through seven presidents, it wasn’t hard to figure out that the pendulum would favor a democrat this time around. McCain’s dementia-influenced health care plan which I sill can’t comprehend, was a far cry from the Wall Street sanctioned Obama proposal. When the reality that capitalism is just a game we all agree to play wounded the markets, there was no way Obama could lose. It was almost shocking to be reminded that the democrats were ever skilled at the game of elections.

US elections have also proven to be of extra dubious legitimacy lately, and electronic touchscreens have done little to make the results seem more valid. The participation of people I care about does nothing validate that process for me either. The fraud, intimidation, disenfranchisement, and other irregularities make the powerball seem like a better idea.

Does anyone really believe that the aircraft carrier of State can make a quick 180 degree turn, no matter how cool the captain seems? That’s why there are so many bizarre laws still left on the books, it’s not easy to put these things back into the box, Pandora. The State ensures its existence by passing laws, not repealing them. The issues that separate the US parties are meant to stay unresolved, or all they have to differ on is semantics and the parties would go out of business. Abortion & firearms seem to be the defining ones, and both are here to stay. The need to be armed and voluntary eugenics will never go out of style, as long as this system exists. The firearms manufacturers love democratic presidents, who become amazing gun salesmen through hysteria generated by lobbyists and pundits. Dubya was quite the Planned Parenthood fundraiser. Issues that unite the parties include; staying in Iraq, also known as supporting the troops, and as much surveillance as is technologically and near-economically feasible, which is pretty much just not mentioned by politicians or the media, at all. Obama, as you may recall is a-ok with domestic suveillance, and the “War on Terror®” is the replacement for the cold war. I don’t know which of the “changes” you “believed in” but they apparently weren’t in white house staffers, since 37 of the 41 appointed so far were ex-Clinton lackies. Can we look forward to more “workfare”, humanitarian airstrikes, and extra cops, fresh back from Iraq? Elected democrats are often called upon to prove how ‘tough’ they are on certain issues, typically these are mostly things like “Crime”, “Communism/Terrorism,most-isms”, “Drugs” and ocassionally “Poverty” or “Illiteracy”. The last two aren’t as much a priority, because they seldom involve explosions.

I can’t pretend to begin to have anything even resembling a clue, as far as how many of us the US consider themselves to be anarchists. I’d prefer to be wrong, but it can’t be too many. There’s probably a bigger Fiero owners club. In fact, I doubt that if every anti-authoritarian moved to a sparsely populated US state; all of us put together would not be enough to change the outcome of a US election. The math is what makes any argument for voting moot. I thought we knew our votes didn’t count? Had former 1960’s bomber John McCain won the election would that have jogged your collective memories? Would so many have admitted to voting? The folks who took a sabbatical from practicing anarchist theory and voted were not even a factor. Had you all remained proper abstentionists, like a big chunk of the population who don’t consider themselves anarchists, I wouldn’t be wasting a week on this one post.

Once again, it made little difference to the election whether anarchists participated or not, so I guess it shouldn’t matter to me?  I don’t know why I feel a little betrayed, though. Maybe it’s just knowledge of the loss of a shared affinity? After the passage of a little time, I have to question the election as a great historical event. Whites in the US have accepted Tiger Woods as the greatest at an activity that brown-skinned people have traditionally had sense enough to avoid, like skydiving. For 35 years I’ve listened to the blue-collar bigots in my family and neighborhood profess their admiration for Muhammad Ali, a physically dangerous black man with legitimately radical views, who practiced Islam.  As long as our celebreties are attractive enough, race can be easily overlooked.

I guess I didn’t campaign too vigorously against this election, out of guilt, which I imagine is what led you to endorse, campaign, and vote for Obama, and why you are still proud of your vote.

Parts of this will be addressed later, but something had to be said.

Love,

yinsurgent

Brand USA Chooses New Spokesmodel…Jesse Wept

While we can’t deny the historical signifigance of Obama’s presidency, we remain unconvinced of the need for presidents. The YT received a copy of press release which is circulating today.

November 5th, 2008, Washington DC-Brand USA-Brand USA, freedom exporter, is pleased to announce the hiring of Illinois senator, Barack Obama, as their new spokesmodel. Mr. Obama is set to make his debut at the US presidential inaguration,  January 20th, 2009 in Washington, DC.

“Mr. Obama is a uniquely qualified to represent Brand USA in today’s global market envrionment, and his ethnic background should make trade negotiations with emerging economies a breeze.”, said Becky Smith, VP of Sales and Marketing for Brand USA, “We also needed to add a new product to our line of impossible dreams for African-Americans. US President will be a good fit to join our already successful family of products featuring such big sellers as “professional athlete”, “lottery winner”, and “rap mogul”.

The choice of Mr. Obama will also allow Brand USA to finally put to rest the notion of “institutional racism”, which could not possibly exist in a nation with an African-American president. After five years of non-stop criticism of current spokesmodel, G. W. Bush, Brand USA looks forward to branding ungrateful critics of our new face as ‘racists’, the way we called them ‘traitors’ in the first few years after the 9/11 attacks.

Anticipate large gains in the right-wing pundit sector of the US economy, despite their lack of direct access to the white house.

The swing of the political pendulum from right to center, and back again, must occur every so often as a safety valve to prevent Brand USA residents from taking up arms and seizing control of their own lives.

It was inspiring to see reports of throngs of various sizes swarming into the streets, feeling empowered.  I wish Bill Ayers really was pulling his strings and that he was the out and out commie that the right-wing noise machine alleges him to be. Obama seems like a decent enough guy, but I wonder if the US machine even has the kind of functions that will benefit the populace. People in my neighborhood seem elated today and I’m at a stage in the life cycle when everyone I know seem to be dropping cubs at an alarming rate, so incremental reforms aren’t quite as appaling to me as they once were.

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