Yesterday's US House vote on the American Health Care Act and the recent introduction of the risibly named Financial Choice Act have delivered a spiteful jolt to my third eye. Even if We the People are not on a war footing, the plutocratic establishment types are, along with their minions in Washington and various state capitals.
The top 1% (more or less), through their political puppets and their police, are waging war against poor people, against working people, against people of color, against LGBT+ people, against the natural environment, against anyone or anything standing between the 1% and increased profits.
Even if you ignore completely for a moment the horrific wars that the United States and its proxies are conducting overseas (just as the mainstream media completely ignore what's happening in Yemen), you can still see how the federal and state governments are pushing economic and political warfare. Dropping big bombs on faraway countries didn't begin with the inauguration of #45, and they sure as shit didn't ease up under his immediate predecessor.
Here in the Land of the Free, we witness actual violence against the poor and minorities: death by cop, or by trigger-happy bigots without badges. There is killing and maiming by other means: depriving people of needed health care, or poisoning their water supply. There is displacement of entire communities: gentrification in our cities and towns, blowing up mountains in Appalachia to get to the coal locked inside and despoiling the ecosystems nearby. There is an entire nexus of laws and perfectly legal business practices that redistribute wealth upward. There is even a war on information: confining the Official Truth to what the establishment's approved news sources tell us and choking the bandwidth for other sources.
Sure, you can blame the Republicans for all this, but they are hardly the only perpetrators. Sure, Republican politicians have been gleefully embracing these policies, while most Democratic politicians have been decrying them. But as long as the top 0.01% control the game, the Democrats will continue to play the Washington Generals to the Republicans' Harlem Globetrotters. As long as Democrats accept and solicit donations from billionaires and corporate PAC's, marginalize Progressives within their party, and insist that RT and WikiLeaks are tools of the enemy, they will be patsies, and they will be complicit in this warfare.
Neither of the "epiphanies" in the header for this entry refers to the realization that the obscenely wealthy few are waging war on the increasingly desperate many. I have recognized that fact for quite a while. It's not even that neo-conservatives and neo-fascists no longer feel obliged to conceal their anti-human ideologies, although that's partly what triggered the epiphanies.
Epiphany #1: I have profound doubts that the so-called democratic process will be an effective tool for fixing the situation.
Go ahead and say it: DUH! Several of my friends and acquaintances hit that particular wall long ago, while I stubbornly promoted Green candidates and causes.
But now, after 17 years of involvement in the Green Party and related causes, having recently accepted a leadership role of the Campaign Coordinating Committee for Harris County, I am questioning whether any partisan activity doesn't merely distract from the real Resistance. I wrestled with this very question last year, when it became apparent that the Green Party of Texas would lose ballot access. What benefit would the effort to regain the ballot line actually bring to the Party, or to Texas as a whole—even if it succeeds (as in 2000 and 2010), but especially if it fails (as in 2004, 2006, and 2008)?
Please understand that when I say "Resistance," I do not mean against our alleged president or the rabid Republicans in Congress, but against the system that puts them and keeps them at the helm of the ship of state. The true power lies with Big Oil, Big Defense, Big Pharma, Big Finance & Insurance, Big Media, and other monsters of the Deep State. If this is war, they are the true enemy.
Caitlin Johnstone advises us, in her Medium post from yesterday (Aussie time), not to disengage completely from political activity. (This is the only link I'll include in this rant.) In fact, she says, we should become or remain political af. Here's an excerpt from under the subhead Stay loudly politically active:
The establishment would like nothing better than for us all to give up on politics and slip away into obscurity so we’ll stop making noise and waking up their sleeping victims....
That’s what they want, so don’t give it to them. If you’re for DemEnter, loudly push your progressive candidates forward and then make as much noise as possible when the establishment media smears them and the DNC sabotages their campaigns. Same exact thing if you’re pro-DemExit; push your independent and third party candidates into the spotlight with as much noise and fanfare as possible, then scream and point when they are sabotaged by the establishment. If you’re a libertarian, a nationalist and/or paleocon, same thing, and do it with the increasing number of neocon policy switcheroos Trump has been making, too. Mainstream America is still not yet aware that democracy is not happening in America, so the more facts we can amass to show them the better, and the more noise we make about it the more of them we’ll wake up.
But there is so much more to Resistance than political engagement, as Johnstone outlines in the rest of the piece. There is only so much that regular folks can do on the political front—unless millions of pissed-off and ripped-off citizens join them, in four-part harmony, with feelin'. If politics isn't your cup o' yerba, hit the streets with placards in hand, form mutual aid networks, or get active in whatever other way suits you.
We the People must employ a nearly-full-spectrum approach to true resistance: "from Tweets to marching in the streets," as Eleanor Goldfield would put it. Thwart the efforts of government by becoming ungovernable, but don't do it alone: Connect and form affinity groups with like-minded folks, and then connect with other groups that don't share your ideology but still seek to stop the Deep State.
By saying "nearly-full-spectrum," I imply my hope that Resistance can be achieved without resorting to violence. It's a given that the state uses violence and will continue to do so. It's a truism that non-violent tactics work only when the establishment has a working conscience. Will the state make peaceful dissent impossible (or just plain ineffective), thus making violent dissent inevitable? I can foresee that happening, and as someone sworn to non-violence I dread it.
Epiphany #2: I do not have the strength to carry on this fight in all the ways I'd like to.
Johnstone's eight-point plan of attack is bold and beautiful. But who the fuck has the time and energy to do all that stuff? Anyone who tries to cover all the bases, even with youth on their side, will burn out quickly. So choose the weapons and tactics for which you are best suited.
Chris Hedges has famously said, "I fight fascists not because I will win, but because they are fascists." It's not that Hedges goes around literally punching Nazis. He fights them with information and analysis. He fights them by calling them out for their toxic lies and their murderous acts. He fights them by educating convicted felons, by awakening the poets and prophets that lurk within prisoners.
I'm not gonna go around punching Nazis either. I'm tired. No, I'm not chronically or terminally ill—just mentally and emotionally tapped out. There are days when I can barely work up the strength to sift through my email, and it's a great effort of will just to get dressed for work. I composed this entry only because my need to outweighed my disinclination to. Maybe it's a result of working full-time and carrying on too many extracurricular activities, domestic, musical, political, and otherwise.
Sure, I can occasionally pass along inspiring visions and pointers about how Resistance should or might happen. That doesn't mean that I have the energy or the stomach that full-tilt Resistance activism requires. You'd think that anybody willing to say, "Get out in the streets!" should be willing (and able) to follow their own advice. Not always. It's more like, "You, get out in the streets because the system is ripping you off, and because you can. I'll stay here and write my blog so people know what you're in the streets for."
Like Rev. Hedges, for now I will keep using the tools that I use best, disseminating and interpreting information. I will try to remain optimistic, although optimism sometimes requires more vim & vigor than I have, even knowing that the situation is likely to get much worse before it gets better. But some days, like the introvert that I am, I'll just need to recharge.