I have studied the presidency carefully; I have seen that our best presidents were the do-nothing presidents: Millard Fillmore, Warren G. Harding. When you have a president who does things, we are all in serious trouble. If he does anything at all — if he gets up at night to go to the bathroom — somehow, mystically, trouble will ensue. I guarantee that if I am elected, I will take over the White House, hang out, shoot pool, scratch my ass, and not do a damn thing. Which is to say, if you want something done, don’t come to me to do it for you; you got to get together and figure out how to do it yourselves. Is that a deal? — Utah Phillips
I see and hear lots of liberals touting Bernie Sanders’ platform:
I agree, it’s better than Hillary Clinton’s. Actually, I find it impressive. And that concerns me. I like Bernie Sanders. I think he’s a nice guy and he’s make a great president of the US. And that scares me. Liberalism in general scares me, because it’s fundamentally dishonest. <rant>Liberalism is really just conservative in disguise. Liberals don’t want change. They want things like stability (like conservatives), but they want everyone else to just be numb and happy and in denial (cue the Brave New World reference to soma), because that’s what they want, and that’s the only way they can get it (besides just killing themselves). They want to keep Today’s Society pretty-much the way it is, with a few tweaks here and there. Maybe add a bit more padding on those infamously hard, uncomfortable seats. “Numb brains, not butts!” may be their rallying cry. The most irritating thing I find while searching the sea of clenched boomer-age liberal assholes is the an entrenched, itchy and borderline-hemerrhoidal belief that, “Everything will be alright if just…” The bitter red pill (of uncomfortable truths) may be nourishing but proves too tough to swallow, so they opt over and over again for the smooth blue pill (of convenient bullshit), even though it only comes in the form of a suppository. No wonder why they want more padding on those seats…</rant>
Now, I like that picture above. I think it provides a useful analogy for thinking about social privilege and hierarchy. And it’s sinking. But a rowboat? C’mon, cartoonists! We live in a civilization. Civilization does not pride itself on its rowboats! Consider an even more accurate picture of Today’s Society, where the cute and innocent rowboat depicted above looks more like a hybrid of a USS Super Tanker carrying an ocean full of crude oil, or a USS Super Trawler picking and scraping the ocean clean of every last bit of life, all with the inevitable fate of the USS Titanic (The “USS” really stands for United Society of Sociopaths). No matter who helms it, a Super Trawler will still dredge the ocean floor. No matter who helms the Titanic, it will stay its charted course…and sink. And liberals don’t want the ship to sink. They think it’s a pretty OK ship. Maybe it has a few holes to patch, or some seats to pad.
Regardless of what liberals think, even as the ship sinks, as long as it operates it will continue to subjugate and destroy its crew and its environment. Given that, I can think of four questions more relevant for us to ask and discuss than “So, who’dja vote for?” (kang or kodos? coke or pepsi?):
- How soon will the ship sink?
- How much damage will its sinking cause?
- How much more damage will the ship do as long as it continues to operate?
- What do you want to do about it?
Electing Sanders doesn’t help. He doesn’t sink the ship or lessen its destruction. He hires and fires a few people, polishes the brass, and adds some padding to those infamously uncomfortable seats (cue cheers from hemerrhoidal liberals everywhere). And the ship continues to operate, business as usual, maybe even better than ever! (ref. Utah Phillips quote, above)
We’re asking Sanders to become captain of the societal equivalent of a sociopathic Super Trawler. Then we’re asking him to save us from that sociopath in two conflicting ways: to keep from it sinking on one hand, and keep it from operating as normal on the other. Neither do liberals want to abandon ship, nor do they want to sink with it. So they resort to magical thinking, supported by their steady diet of bullshit blue-pill suppositories…Bernie will save us. He’ll make things right. He’ll… I don’t expect any miracles from Bernie. I do expect things to continue getting worse regardless of who gets elected. (ref. Utah Phillips quote, above)
You can dress a sociopath up in a smart new suit and expect him to behave less sociopathic, but all you will do is help him hide in plain sight. You can give a sociopath a tool like a hammer, and he will find a way to use it as a weapon of control and misery. You can educate him, and he will use his knowledge to manipulate others and consolidate his power. We live in a society that behaves like a rampaging sociopath. There exists no magical “tweak” or “reform” or “policy” or “political platform” that will make it less destructive, let alone turn it into an emotionally healthy being capable of relating in deep and meaningful ways with others. When we try to reform, we settle for symbolic change, empower the destruction and blind ourselves to its continuation.
Is it actually any better that Sanders gets elected instead of Clinton or their Republican counterpart? In other words, what impact does who gets elected president have on the four questions I ask above? I repeat those questions here for your convenience (you’re welcome), along with some thoughts on them from me (I’m sorry):
- How soon will the ship sink? Will it sink sooner or later? I tend to think later. Electing a liberal is really electing an expert conservative who stabilizes society without fixing any of its fundamental ills. We delay the inevitable. We prolong the misery.
- How much damage will its sinking cause? The society keeps growing, so I tend to think that the longer we wait, the bigger the crash. The higher the fall. The less prepared we are, the more harm the crash and fall will do to its peoples and environments. So how does electing Bernie slow the destruction and growth and empower the people?
- How much more damage will the ship do as long as it continues to operate? Will electing someone like Bernie Sanders actually reign in the destruction, somehow? How will Bernie change the classism, racism, sexism embedded into the fabric of our society? Will Bernie slow down deforestation, help dismantle dams, protect our rivers from poisoning? Will his policies thwart our industrial, commodity-based economy? Or will his policies simply make a few people more comfortable existing within such a terrifying, destructive system…for a time?
- What do you want to do about it? Do you think voting is enough?
So go ahead and vote for Bernie. Just go ahead and vote. Or not. I really don’t care who you vote for, or whether you vote. Donald Rumsfeld, Donald Trump, or that other unsung ‘murrican fascist, Mickey Mouse. But I do care about what you do with the rest of the hours in your day: How are you helping to stop the destruction? Study and practice permaculture? Join and support Black Lives Matter!? Or do you want to do something more explicitly political? Organize your community to adopt a Community Bill of Rights as we work to change the legal foundations of this country to something more fundamentally just. And men in particular, please, please join or support your local feminist organization, because the revolution really does start at home (but doesn’t end there). And any number of other radical, transformative things, including those less constructive (rivers must flow free to support terrestrial ecosystems, super trawlers must sink to have sustainable fisheries, and those pretentious colonial marbled houses and engraved enscriptions of empire need to come down sometime…the sooner, the better!).
Pictoral and Poetic Perspective on US PoliticsNovember 10, 2016
Perspective of Picture:
Perspective of Poetry
“Democratic Womanism” by Alice Walker, from http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/28/democratic_womanism_poet_and_activist_alice
You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.
There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile.
Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
comes to mind, with his fearful
400 year old prophecy: that our world
and theirs too
(our “enemies” – lots of kids included there)
will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
and the billions of dollars wasted on them
A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not.
I want something else;
a different system
One not seen
on this earth
for thousands of years. If ever.
Notice how this word has “man” right in the middle of it?
That’s one reason I like it. He is right there, front and center. But he is surrounded.
I want to vote and work for a way of life
that honors the feminine;
a way that acknowledges
the theft of the wisdom
female and dark Mother leadership
might have provided our spaceship
I am not thinking
of a talking head
kind of gal:
happy to be mixing
with the baddest
on the planet
her eyes a slit
her mouth a zipper.
No, I am speaking of true
Where women rise
to take their place
at the helm
of earth’s frail and failing ship;
where each thousand years
of our silence
and the cruel manner in which our values
of compassion and kindness
have been ridiculed
brought to bear on the disaster
of the present time.
The past must be examined closely, I believe, before we can leave
I am thinking of Democratic, and, perhaps
For who else knows so deeply
how to share but Mothers
and Grandmothers? Big sisters
both female and male?
Not to mention those in between.
To work at keeping
the entire community
would have as its icons
such fierce warriors
for good as
Aung San Suu Kyi,
& Barbara Lee:
With new ones always rising, wherever you look.
You are also on this list, but it is so long (Isis would appear midway) that I must stop or be unable to finish the poem! So just know I’ve stood you in a circle that includes Marian Wright Edelman, Amy Goodman, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem and Mary McLeod Bethune. John Brown, Frederick Douglass, John Lennon and Howard Zinn are there. Happy to be surrounded!
There is no system
There is no system
now in place
that can change
the disastrous course
the Earth is on.
Who can doubt this?
The male leaders
appear to have abandoned
their very senses
though most appear
to live now
in their heads.
They murder humans and other
forests and rivers and mountains
they are in office
and never seem
to notice it.
They eat and drink devastation.
Women of the world,
Women of the world,
Is this devastation Us?
Would we kill whole continents for oil
(or anything else)
rather than limit
the number of consumer offspring we produce
and learn how to make our own fire?
Democratic Socialist Womanism.
A system of governance
we can dream and imagine and build together. One that recognizes
at least six thousand years
of brutally enforced complicity
in the assassination
of Mother Earth, but foresees six thousand years
ahead of us when we will not submit.
What will we need? A hundred years
at least to plan: (five hundred will be handed us
when the planet is scared enough)
in which circles of women meet,
organize ourselves, and,
allied with men
brave enough to stand with women,
men brave enough to stand with women,
nurture our planet to a degree of health.
And without apology —-
(impossible to make
a bigger mess than has been made already) -—
devote ourselves, heedless of opposition,
to tirelessly serving and resuscitating Our Mother ship
and with gratitude
for Her care of us
Alice Walker wrote Democratic Womanism about the 2012 election. But considering its large-scale, long-term scope on the Six Thousand Year (and maybe longer) Struggle against the patriarchal basis of civilization, that’s really just a blink in time. Trump, Clinton and Bernie don’t change things much, for a lot of reasons — not in the least that change has to come from us, the people. We have to manifest it in the way we think, act and relate to the rest of the world. Electing figureheads into an inherently corrupt system won’t do much, one way or the other. The advent of civilization saw a sudden and drastic move far to the right, to the patriarchal roots of corporatocratic society. We have been moving little bits and pieces left back toward real democracy since then, slow and steady.
Democracy: rule of the people by the people for the people with the people. “People” includes but not limited to all humans. Without an inclusive definition of “people” it’s not democracy. Democracy requires an intact social fabric. If we don’t have the capacity to listen, empathize, understand, talk to, love and support one another, to the entirety of the world around us, then we can’t have democracy. If we have horizontal violence, we can’t have democracy. As long as property exists, we will have horizontal violence. As long as we have objectification, we will have property (and horizontal violence). If we can’t relate to one-another of mutual trust, love, respect and solidarity, then we can’t have democracy. Democracy requires of humans an animistic, process-based worldview.
Regardless of how they voted, how many people voted out of fear, anger or hatred as their driving motivation? How many people vote(d) out of love, solidarity and courage as their driving motivation? That matters more to me than any electoral result. Likewise, what we do and how we act before or after the election matters more to me than how we vote. So, let’s get to the root of it, and get back to the work that needs to happen regardless of who gets elected — the long Thousand Years’ Struggle for Liberation.
1 Comment | Defection, Stopping the Destruction, Unsolicited commentary | Tagged: Alice Walker, Amy Goodman, Bernie Sanders, Clinton, Democratic Womanism, Trump | Permalink
Posted by ozob