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Saturday, July 7, 2018


When I got up this morning, there were two email messages for me, aside from the flood of political money appeals.  In light of the vigorous discussion that has sprung up in response to my post about ringing doorbells, I thought I would reproduce both of them here.  I cannot imagine a more striking contrast.

The first message was from a volunteer with the Ryan Watts Congressional campaign.  She had sent me a list of 30 names and telephone numbers, and I had promised to call them this weekend.  This is the “script”:

“Hello, I am (name) ______ a volunteer with Ryan Watts' Campaign, Ryan is our 6th Congressional District Democratic Candidate. We are inviting you to Ryan's Town Hall on Thursday, July 12th, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, auditorium at Alamance Community College in Graham. Will you be able to attend the Town Hall?  Thank you.”

Alamance is a town roughly in the middle of the 6th CD, just off Interstate 85.

The second message was from Philip Green, a well-known political scientist and radical activist, a professor emeritus from Smith College, a member of The Nation editorial board, and the author of many fine books.  Phil and I first met in Sunnyside, Queens.  He was three and I was two.  It is said we rode on occasion in the same baby carriage on Skilman Avenue.

SEVEN THESES        Phil Green. 7/4/18

I.    The Present

Engels proclaimed in the 19th Century that the choice was "Socialism or Barbarism."  The suspense is over. The barbarians are not at the gates, they're inside. More, they're inside the Temple: ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, Orthodox Christians in Russia, fundamentalists in the Islamic world, evangelical Christians in America. The New Testament as a blueprint for theocratic tyranny and contempt for the weak, the stateless, the needy. No need for Attila; any minister will do.

II.  The Constitution

Stalin famously asked "How many divisions does the Pope have?"  The answer is not recorded, though we know the Pope won in the end.  Donald Trump has asked, over and over again, "How many divisions does the Constitution have?"  And the answer, over and over, has been crystal clear to him: None.  Lots of handwringing by liberal lawyers on MSNBC, exegeses of what this or that passage really means, outcries by Democrats. Drops of fresh tears in the ocean of salt. The 14th and 15th Amendments and the Voting Rights Act are dead. In the latter case Vladimir Putin, the international gangster whose boots he lovingly licks, will help cement the elimination of "free and fair" elections. The 1st and 2nd Amendments are perverted beyond recovery; due process (Amendments 4, 5, and 6) and the Rule of Law have been effectively abolished, the DOJ turned into a "Handmaid" of tyranny.
    The President is the most powerful person on the Planet; nothing he has done or does can be overturned) no matter what happens in the Midterms.  The Supremes, soon to be instantiated as the High Court of Theocracy and Autocracy, as well as an obeisant Republican Party, will ensure all that. The Constitution is indeed, as has sometimes been said, but a piece of parchment. Shreddable. Or like Wiley E. Coyote, it's been running off the edge of a cliff while pretending it wasn't falling.  Gravity has won.

III.  The Police State

Concentration camps.  A legitimized Gestapo that rules at will, wherever it goes, with brute force behind it.  Geheimestaatspolizei. Violence cannot be contained  at a border. The knock on the door is the Law. Militarized police enforce White Supremacy. As one German commentator put it, we have "Anti-Semitism without Jews."  On this Continent, Muslims and Central Americans will serve just as well.  Not to mention transsexuals. And uppity young blacks. And women who don't treat their fetuses with proper respect.

IV.   "Totalization"

Let us celebrate all those clever accommodationsists who predicted the "end of ideology," the "triumph of liberal democracy," and best of all, the end of "totalizing theories," i.e.  Marxism, i.e., "totalitarianism."  Just as the final totalization of all, the unregulated "free" market, was taking over everywhere.  Like those TV sports analysts who lucidly explain why something is happening one play before the opposite comes crashing to life.
    Totalization: in a perfect inversion of Michael Walzer's Spheres of Justice, there is no sphere of social living that can justly resist that take-over, nothing that can't be bought or sold, no scrap of welfare that can't be dispensed with, except of course the military budget, the first-resort instrument of white male justice and the capitalism with which it has made its peace.  Ralph Miliband coined the term "totalitarian capitalism" to describe China. Or coming to theater near you,  government by the Kochs, the Adelson, the Thieles, the Mercers. But sure, Leon Golub can hang his art anywhere.

V.  Fascism

The climb may have  been difficult, but the descent is proving to be easy.The  recipe is simple. The Devil's Bargain: the plutocracy gets the votes of the white supremacy tribe–by no means limited to the so-called "working class." In return, the Authoritarian Populist mob, its appeal to violence unrestrained, gets to rule over its opponents in the name of "The People." When I hear that phrase I reach for my passport.  In the immortal words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
    Liberals keep complaining incredulously, "but they're voting against their own interests!" Fateful misunderstanding.  For nihilism and bigotry, there's always work to be done. The only requirement is a leader who will call that spirit from the vasty deep. The mob then votes for the grandest self-interest of all: revenge.  Schadenfreud. Ressentiment. Straight out of Central Europe, the train is on its way To The Munich Station. Smash families? Steal children? The best "fuck you" money can buy. Melted ice caps lapping at our shores? "There will be rain tonight...Let it come down." "Find what occurred at Linz/What huge imago made a psychopathic god." Or in Queens. The license to say "Fuck you" to everyone you hate, or feel hard done by, or envy, or above all, feel dispossessed by:  robbed of your centuries-old reward of over-representation.

VI.   Resistance

The police are either legitimate or they are not.  If they are, nothing more to be said.  If not, nothing will come out of nothing. Not marches in the park, not articles in The Nation, not even female veterans of combat running for office everywhere. Good for morale. But they only understand force.  Masses: blocking the Courthouse steps, as in Poland; taking over the forbidden voting places; keeping ICE out of churches, workplaces, homes.  Fighting back.  Not going gentle: making them know what they have to do, and forcing them to do it–letting everyone see their true colors, the stakes, the cost. Losing, but not surrendering.

VII.   The Future?

Nothing is fixed; it's not only shit that happens.  But,

"...imagine a boot, stamping on a human face..."

"These fragments I have shored against my ruins."

Philip Green


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"The President is the most powerful person on the Planet; nothing he has done or does can be overturned" ???