WARNING- I DID NOT HAVE MY USUAL (OR ANY) EDITOR FOR THIS PIECE. THEREFORE, PARTS (OR THE WHOLE THING) MAY NOT MAKE SENSE. THANKS.
Each and every morning I search out news. I long ago became disillusioned by sources such as the New York Times and the Washington Post; every once in a while I’ll hear of a good editorial or investigative piece appearing in a mainstream paper like these and I’ll check it out. I check out sites like Crimethink, but I can only take so much of that. I consider myself to have Anarchist beliefs and although I try my hardest to be nonviolent, I have said before that I’m not against people doing what they think is right, as long as we’re fighting for the same ends. However, every article I’ve read on Crimethink (as with other similar sites) has been very fundamentalist Anarchist. What I mean by this is there doesn’t seem to be much debate- there is one way to look at the world, one way to solve all the problems and it is this one, very specific kind of Anarchism. If you do not agree, or even if you are only 99% in agreement with what is said, you are one of “them”. The best source I’ve found over the past couple years to direct me to the right news has been Common Dreams. They link to all sorts of articles from a wide array of sources and almost always have some great op-ed pieces.
As I was fishing the Common Dreams site on Monday, carefully choosing which of the many articles I wanted to start my day with, I stumbled upon What is To Be Done? by David Michael Green. This is a question that I often ask myself, so I read it. It started out great, with Green telling us that he gets many questions regarding answers- his pieces usually point out problems with the world and people wonder what the solutions are, so he decided to write this piece. Great. He goes on to say that the Democrats used to stick up for the little person until they were hijacked in the 90’s by Bill Clinton. Still on point (although I don’t know if there was ever a political party that truly represented all the people; regardless, it made me want to read on). He goes on to complain how it seems like no representative actually seems to care about the people they are representing anymore; this is also true. Green says that writing letters is pointless and no one even notices protests anymore- hell yes. At this point I couldn’t wait to hear this guy’s solution to all the world’s problems. It obviously has to be similar to mine, I thought. I was wrong.
Green claims to have three potential solutions to what ills us as a people. Potential solution number one is to get rid of the people representing us and give the jobs to new people- “one could argue that we simply have lousy policymakers making lousy policies. The obvious solution, therefore, is to replace them.” This is written off pretty quickly as ineffective, which seems to make sense, as policy makers get replaced quite often and yet things still seem to be getting worse. Choice number two is to somehow create a viable third party (this is assuming that we already have two actual parties). Almost as soon as he brings this up, he dismisses it (which made me still hang on, hoping the third solution was it), “This record of astonishingly complete failure is a product of a system designed (quite effectively, we must acknowledge) to shut out real choice at all costs. And it works.”
The third and final solution – the big one, the one we’ve been waiting for, the one that’s going to get us to change the world – is… “The other remaining remedy for this first analysis of what ails the country is to take over the Democratic Party” WHAT?! I read on, my finger on the mouse pad ready to exit out of this bullshit. Luckily, I made it to the next paragraph, where Green seems to begin to redeem himself, “But what if the problem lies deeper? What if the reason that the wrong people are making the wrong policy decisions is rooted in the corruption of our institutional framework, which is set up to produce precisely those people and precisely those policy decisions? “ Hell yes! This is what I have been talking about- we have a system that is designed to fuck us; we can take over a party, we can try to create a third party, we can write letters to our representatives, but things are systematically fucked. I was excited again, so I read on.
I’ll stop with the play by play for a second, in order to explain something. I know a lot of older people in the Boulder area (and some that I’ve met through various travels) who have been fighting their whole lives to create a better world. I don’t know if these people used to be radicals calling for revolution, who became tamed in their later years, or if these ‘hippies’ we have been hearing about were really just “Progressives”. It bothers me so much that these people waste perfectly good, positive energy in something as ignorant as believing that eventually we can get the right people to represent us. And now back to Green, “In short, what if the country’s campaign finance system is the problem, designed quite purposively to insure that the special interests of the overclass are attended to, and the rest of us ignored or at best placated?” This is exactly what I’m talking about; the big solution, the reason we are compelled to read this long piece is, campaign finance reform?
As I’ve said before, I feel trapped because the three major types of revolutionaries I have encountered over the years are 1- the people described above, who think we can fix the system, 2- the fundamentalist Anarchists that I also mentioned above who think there is only one right answer, and only a few hundred people know this answer and 3- the people who have the same philosophies that I do, and even agree with the means that I propose, but instead of actually acting, sit on their couch and read about the problems, or meditate in order to increase the good energy. I don’t mean to create a “them” and say that everyone who is fighting for revolution is wrong. I don’t really know what I’m trying to say by writing this, but I felt the need, so I wrote.