What Must We Do?
I propose the following:
We should stop arguing about whether or not Our Revolution and Brand New Congress are worth a damn. I think everybody knows, from my comments, where I stand on these organizations, and on the current direction of the Sanders movement. However, the division caused by this argument, and the energy wasted on it, are far worse ills than any we'd encounter by simply allowing those who want to work for those organizations to work for them, and allowing those who don't to move on to other work.
This means that those who believe these organizations are a waste of time will have to live with the fact that some here are wasting their time and resources working there. And those that believe that these organizations are our greatest hope will have to live with the fact that some here refuse to join in, thus making it a weaker effort than it otherwise would be.
The fact that some people here will support those organizations and some won't is not something any amount of discussion here can change. Until or unless new information comes to light, the argument over Bernie's organizations is worse than useless.
The same goes for arguments over Bernie's character and motives. Later in this essay, I'll get to what I think of Bernie right now, and my comments over the past few days tell you what I think motivated his choices. But that and a quarter will buy me a phone call (maybe). I think we've come to the point where, barring new information coming to light, the argument over Bernie's character and motives is worse than useless.
I can understand that some people might be pissed off at the notion that I'm telling them to stop talking about their topics of choice, so I have a 2nd option:
Let's have a weekly window of time when we DON'T talk about Politicians on High. For instance, how about Friday mornings? Let's say from 6 a.m. Pacific to 3 p.m. Pacific. (I thought of calling 'em Hackless Fridays, but that might be needlessly negative). People will commit to do one diary on something that involves nobody famous, and preferably involves something positive that you've seen, heard, or want to do.
Here's my first contribution, which could serve as an example of what I'm talking about:
(I might republish this as a stand-alone diary, apart from the meta, if it seems to need it, because it's a GREAT idea!)
I got this from WindDancer13 last night on EB, so a mighty and massive hat tip to WD!:
Please watch this starting at 5:16
Here is the website the guy (Sam Husseini) set up: http://www.votepact.org/
This is a magnificent idea, even if it fails to dislodge Hillary Clinton from the throat of the country, where we're currently choking on her. It brings the people together. It reaffirms bonds of trust across political lines, and in particular reaffirms the fact that we trust each other--the people we know--a hell of a lot more than we trust any of those bastards who are providing us with our current political "choices." It creates the basis of a movement against the system that produced these rotten choices in the first place. And who knows where a movement like that could go?
So I propose we spread this idea far and wide. My thoughts so far:
1) Town hall-style meetings between us and Republicans who are sick of their own party's BS and the corruption of the country, as much as we are. If there are 2,000 members here, that could be 2,000 meetings. If there are people who can't do the organizing, for health reasons, or whatever, take 50% off that number--and 1,000 meetings still sounds pretty good to me.
Even 500 would be a nice start.
2) A hashtag #IllVoteWithYou
3) A webpage where people can register their pledge--two by two--to vote against the major party candidates, with the ability to upload photos of the fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, neighbors, brothers joining together across party lines.
4)Or perhaps a Tumblr, like We Are the 99 Percent. Perhaps Mr. Husseini would like to put such pictures, or even video, up on his site, or perhaps we could put it up here.
5) Perhaps we could use the Web to find people with whom to make a VotePact, but I worry that might dilute the strength of the idea, which is connection and trust between people who know each other. (I have the idea both of a website where people would come to find such a person, and also of an app that one could use--but I'm very unsure of whether this is a good idea.)
6) If people know how--I wish I did!--we could make videos of people who are making a Vote Pact in our community and put them up on YouTube and here. Imagine this happening around the country. And it would be completely independent of *any* politician.
7)If there are celebrities who could use their visibility to popularize the idea, that might be a good thing (Susan Sarandon? Tim Robbins?)
I think this is a solid idea, with much to recommend it. What do you think?
Some might notice I'm ganking Lenin's title (which I guess might be better translated What Is To Be Done?) I'm doing this to emphasize the fact that we are in revolution. We are in revolution because we're facing some terrifying political and material conditions, which are a result of what some identify as late-stage capitalism, some as disaster capitalism, some as corporatism or fascism, and some just as corruption. The most evident of these conditions is the complete lack of accountability of the government to the people, with the result that laws are used primarily to protect the rich, and public policy to facilitate the movement of more and more power and money into their hands, no matter the cost. And whoa, Nelly, the cost is getting astronomical. Insane, in fact, so much so that some of the .01%, even some whose job it is to defend capitalism--the type that hangs around Davos intermittently--are starting to worry: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/22/davos-oligarchs-fe...
My aim here is not as ambitious as Lenin's, my scope isn't as wide, and, given the fight I was having on Twitter the other night with a Marxist I respect, I might not come to Lenin's same conclusions (I'm too liberal for some kinds of Marxism. I find myself simply unable to give up the idea of freedom of discourse, or to think that the only way to combat a bad idea is to suppress it. As an intellectual, I just can't go there. Though I admit the issue is more difficult than it appears.)
How does this relate to discussions on caucus99percent?
Well, I'd wager that one of the reasons we talk so much about political celebrities--those we hate, and those we love--is that we don't want to ask the question What Must We Do? I know I don't! At this point in history, it tends to be an ugly question. But I believe we must ask it, now.
The aim of this essay is to make a case for moving some of our energy off of the focus on politicians. But I want to acknowledge that it's not only avoidance, or desire for a savior/messiah (what hecate calls Daddy/Mommy) that has spurred our latest focus on Bernie. At a deeper level, the community is trying to process what just happened and why we failed. In my opinion, the impulse to take stock and do a strategic analysis after a defeat is sound, and when you lose a strong ally and a leader, it's a bad enough blow that people want to figure out why and how it happened. In the absence of evidence, people speculate. This is natural. But it also tends to put way too much focus on one person, and on the personal generally, so that you end up with people angry at each other either because they're attacking or defending the former leader. This is a waste of time, and if I were working for Hillary Clinton, I'd be delighted to see it, given that her strategy can be summed up as the three D's: Demoralization, Division, and Despair.
She works like a dementor, or a ringwraith. It's useful to remember this.
In my opinion, we have, on the left--and perhaps in America generally--a real problem with understanding corruption. Sometimes I feel like my mind is gripping my copy of The Lord of the Rings in a death grip, desperate to hold onto the understanding of corruption that text gives me--because we don't have a hell of a lot else to rely on, in this devastated culture we now inhabit. We were never very good at this question anyway, in the United States. The idea that a meritorious individual can be corrupted, and change from being Good to Bad, or at the very least change from serving good purposes to serving evil ones, is not one we can hold in our head very well. We in the United States deeply need to believe in the Victory of the Meritorious Individual Over Bad Circumstance. Thus, when we're confronted with corruption, there's an incredibly strong tendency to retroactively make the person bad from the beginning, insincere from the beginning, because we just can't handle the notion that someone who previously acted consistently for the good could become someone who serves evil. Instead, we want to believe we were duped from the beginning, so we don't have to face the fact that nobody is strong enough or good enough to be safe from corruption.
This is not the same thing as saying that no one can ever refuse to be corrupted. Heroism exists in the world. It's probably more prevalent than we know, because mass communications are largely devoted to spreading the messages of Demoralization, Division, and Despair. Of course, it's possible to defy the forces of corruption, and even to do so successfully. You can be Faramir, and refuse to even look at the Ring; you can be Bilbo, and successfully say no with the help of a friend; you can be Frodo, and carry the damned thing for months and months without using it.
But nobody is good enough or strong enough to be able to say with certainty they won't be corrupted.
Perhaps if we incorporated this idea into our thinking, we could organize ourselves so that we do not rely so utterly on one visible leader. Perhaps if we did, we could look at our warriors who have fallen with pity, rather than with either a sense of angry betrayal or a defensive refusal to acknowledge that anything is wrong.
Because this is a battle. We are in a war. I know some of you will object to this framing, and if you can suggest a better frame that doesn't violate the material facts of our current reality, I would be delighted to stop looking at this as a war--because that's exactly how Hillary Clinton and the forces she represents look at it, and it's always better not to adopt your enemy's frames. But until somebody helps me out by providing me a convincing alternative--this looks like a war to me.
So when I see Bernie Sanders, since the New Hampshire endorsement, what do I see?
I see a beloved veteran officer who's been taken captive. And as he stumps around the country for Clinton, it doesn't look any different to me than an enemy army parading that beloved veteran in front of his former troops, with the clear aim of destroying their morale.
Obviously, the first order of business under the heading of What Must We Do is to preserve our morale and stick together, and not allow this tactic to work. In order for it not to work, we need, IMO, three things:
1)We need to stop attacking each other.
2)We need meaningful work to do that draws us together.
3)We need to have fun together.
That's my take. If you disagree, I hope you'll put your own ideas for how we could move forward into the comments--or perhaps a diary of your own.