Monthly Archives: May 2016

Where lightning strikes

Yes, I am still plowing through the stories of the Paris Commune, about two weeks after everyone has promptly forgotten May Day. Yes, I know this is obsessive. On the other hand, this  is a critical unforgettable moment that is formed by mashing together by context, mass action, and the waves of history

Presently I am studying Civil War in France, written by Karl “Marxism” Marx; I am already THOROUGHLY familiar with the events of the Commune, but that is not the point behind reading canonical texts. The statements made in the canon, the philosophies that lurk behind the ostensible focus of the work, are eternal. The text could deal with a tiny, very specific topic, but you’ll know when a text rises above simplistic categorization and makes statements that are relevant now, relevant in the future, as much as they were relevant in the past.

The enormity of the Commune, the sheer amount of focus that is drawn to this singularity, means that there are LOTS of information, points of view, and lessons to be learned when studying those three months in detail. But the canon is not by any means set in stone. nor are they formed on book lists written by academic super-Marxists. The canon is malleable; it depends wholly upon the worth of the lessons taught in the text, the relevance that the text holds for the reader, and as is what happens to any reader, a compelling mixture of time and place.

Life-changing books are innumerable, and the best break open some kind of code, some set of horizons that were previously unknown to the reader. These are essential texts, and they truly are suspect devices. They are little bombs waiting to be set off. Naturally the combo of real lived-in situations AND the texts that are connected somehow (either via philosophy or context) constitute the best scenario for the canonical.

As much as punk rock saved my life when I was a teenager, there was one specific text that I read later in life, which I felt represented me and produced a philosophy that I felt spoke for and to me. A text that could be contextualized and re-contextualized to fit different scenarios in life: that book was The Fountainhead.

I’M KIDDING. The book that I speak of is Daily Life in Revolutionary China, a text written by an Italian Communist woman named Maria Theresa Macciocci in 1970, one of the quieter moments in the Cultural Revolution. But the canon is virtually indefinite – this will be shaped by the events that we speak of, and if they maintain any kind of viewpoints that address scenarios that routinely get repeated through history. More on that later – I want to address the new Marxist wave which has saved Spain yet again. Some situations are all too familiar for some of us.

Anyway, let the living and breathing canon continue to grow, as the continuum of radicalism shapes the world, as more people find an articulation that they feel sums up not only the topic at hand, but also the bare basics of human life trapped in late period Capitalism.






An Appeal to the Better Angels of America

So it finally happened. Against logic, against the best wishes of the Republican Party itself, against the will of the majority of Americans, Trump is now the heir apparent and presumptive nominee of the GOP. A man without a single quality, a man who really is that stupid, could have his fingers on the big red nuclear button.
This is as much a media narrative problem as it is a definite possibility. The media has basked this utter incompetent with attention, making him seem like a juggernaut in the primaries when really Trump won because of a terribly crowded field. Stupidity has always been a genuine selling point for the mass media, and now the US is facing the reality that it may have its first fascist president.
I am once again pleading with Americans to STOP TRUMP BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Beyond the simple (but apparently amoral) act of voting, make it VERY EVIDENT that the majority of Americans are not represented by a baboon. Show up for Trump rallies and cause a ruckus. Flood the internet with anti-Trump sentiments. Drive home the media message that the most despised man in American politics will not nonsensically become president.
As for those who think that sitting this one out is like taking some moral high ground – you are utter cowards. A abstained vote is a vote for Trump The enemy is aided and abetted by your silence.
I am a socialist and lifelong NDP supporter. However, when the chance arose to finally throw Stephen Harper’s evil little crew aside, I sighed deeply and voted Liberal for the first time in my life. The Liberal Party was a surefire method of getting rid of the enemy, so I grew up and voted for the sure bet. Clinton sucks, as does Trudeau, but all the better to keep reactionary (or outright fascist, such as Trump’s team) ideologues out of the public sphere.
I may be exhorting the US too early – there are real markers that the Republican party is ready to self-implode, and all power to them. But PLEASE, utilize whatever methods that are at hand. Otherwise, domestic and geopolitics will be worse than the George W administration.