Tuesday, December 9, 2014

To Liberals

"The Left," generally means socialism, unions, communists, anarchists, freethinkers, suffragists, humanists: basically anywhere semi-literate primates of common purpose got together and gave it a good think or two and weren't sold any bad ideas, locked up, or tricked into doing something evil for someone else for a while figured out it's easier to work together for the good of everyone and figured out a way to do it.

What The Left /is,/ by and large, is the poor. That's the common thread that ties Blacks and gays and feminists and Muslims and Catholics and Mexicans and atheists and working-class whites and all the "issues" together: Labor. And it's the thread that has, not to put too fine a point on it, been deliberately and repeatedly lost, historically. When American workers work together, in solidarity with each other and in opposition to the bosses and the bureaucrats and the pigs. That's the only way to get enough people on the same page. You do that by talking and listening to people. It's figuring out what the answers are before deciding they're the answers you're willing to die for.

Learn how to adjust for the cultural gap between the many conflicting narratives out there. People believe unbelievably stupid and evil shit for no grander or more nobler reason than it's what they and everyone in their home town were taught by the radio and TV, and often has far more to do with who runs their local cable provider and FM stations than anything else. If someone says something that sounds racist or sexist or whatever: really, honestly, and sincerely try to get them to explain it to you.

Try to see it from their perspective. As unsavory as it sounds it's the only way to establish any meaningful communication with people that, for whatever reason, don't think black people are capable of raising children or that the side-effects of vaccines are worse than vaccines or that the world is secretly run by the Illuminati or that Ben Ghazi is ferrying drug terrorists across the Mexican border to end Christmas or whatever.

Don't be snarky, avoid being argumentative or confrontational, just sincerely and patiently ask them simple questions. Doubt is how ideas spread: doubt is the crack into which the wedge of simple questions is to be applied. They believe this shit because they haven't thought it through. It's your job to get them to think it through: not, not, NOT to come in like a blazing beacon of truth to purify the abomination in the holy light of your fucking facts. And don't expect to walk away from the encounter a winner. Accept up front that people are gonna think you're a dick and know that if you ever act like a dick you'll only prove them right. Assume the possibility that you could be wrong going into it and hope you have a better grasp of the mechanics than the other dude.

Don't marry your fucking big ideas, is what I'm saying.

 Because I guarantee you're wrong about some stuff, same as they are. Not because of any deficit or moral failing, but because we are all, first and foremost, people. Don't volunteer your point of view.

Most people don't want to hear it, and the ones that do are already on your side. Don't follow any of this advice until you check to see if it's good advice first. Refuse to offer your opinion if you have to, because as soon as you start with that elitist smart-person shit you've lost the argument. People that have been brainwashed do not respect the facts or the philosophical rationale or the sheer utilitarian elegance of any shit a Pinko has to say. Try To Leave Your Feelings Out Of It Because Fucking Hell They Sure Will. Don't be mean, but don't expect them not to. Play dumb if you gotta and realize you're gonna have to play by their rules to get them to talk (you can't expect others to play by the same rules with you though. Seriously).

Beware of cognitive dissonance. And cognitive bias and logical fallacies while we're at it. When people say 'reactionary,' and 'kneejerk' and 'obstinate and possibly rabid refusal to listen to reason," they're usually talking about cognitive dissonance. It can make people crazy. Threatening someone's foundational worldview, even one built entirely on bullshit sold by corporate slavers and cable-friendly flimflam men, can make people CRAZY. No one likes being told that their worldview is a lie, because when you have that kind of worldview-Christian Identity, or White Nationalism, or Libertarianism or whatever it becomes hard to distinguish between an attack on your beliefs and an attack on you. This is because the memeplexes themselves demand /certainty/ from the believers. They demand certainty because those selling the ideas know they will not hold up to close scrutiny and people don't question things they're certain about /obviously./
Learn all you can about logic, post-Enlightenment philosophy, science, and history. You're not looking for certainty: you're looking for the answers that leads to the next question, whatever that may be. "Because I said so" isn't an answer, but it does stop questions. Occasionally what you'll find is that by asking the right questions, Socratic-style, you can trick the motherfucker into working it out for him/herself. What it is, is the belief, which had been running as a background program in his/her brain for so long that it had never been called into question.

When it comes to politics: End Game Utopian Ideals are largely irrelevant, and dogmatic conformity is a recipe for disaster. Everybody's pet theory sounds great on paper. Since the Next Right Thing is usually pretty obvious. It doesn't matter if you call yourself a communist or an anarchist or a guild socialist or a post-Trotskyist technocratic minarchic communo-capitalist: Doesn't fucking matter. You should, however, as a human and a member of a society, understand what every one of those words mean, because those words and words like them relate to how societies are organized. Just don't get bogged down with arguments about minutiae or whether Christopher Hitchens was a socialist or tiresome shit like that.

We won't overthrow the Bosses with any kind of violent revolution, because violent revolutions are never properly thought out and the old system will merely re-establish itself with slightly different wallpaper. And probably it can't even be accomplished in our lifetime. But we can teach kids and each other how to think about the problem the right way and start WORKING TOGETHER. Teaching and learning. Questioning and imagining. Listening to the experts.

The Left is WAY harder to organize. Unless you organize around the right things. It's all a Big Lie, and in a sense it's tied pretty closely with black history. They kinda gloss over it in schools. A lot. At least in the ones I've been to. It's why so many right wingers call protesters communists and anarchists. They /were,/ at least some of them, in the academic sense, fairly solidly through up until the seventies. I posted an article yesterday about the history of the current incarnation of the Libertarian party. Libertarianism today, the Tea Party shit, is basically the Koch Bros. public megaphone. Koch Industries is the War Party. They started cooking this feast back in the seventies. Market right wing ideas under left wing language and vice versa. Confound the dialogue. Fucking Tower of Babel of an idea from a linguistic standpoint. I posted an article about it yesterday. You should read it. Make 'em speak two different languages with the same words. Troubles Start. Worked like a charm. Possibly the most evil thing a person could do. Churches got hold of it. Goodbye American Dream. People have no idea how dangerous beliefs are. Or how important commonality of definition is. Or charitable interpretation.

Anyway, Koch, Halliburton, GE-defense contractors- they're the people that build these new 'democracies' we keep trying to set up all the world over. They sell 'murican democracy to third world countries that don't want it in exchange for debt and mineral rights and trade monopolies. "Deal with us on our terms or we'll cripple your economy, and invade for the slightest of reasons and install someone that WILL deal. Sign here." America loves nothing more than trade monopolies. Conquest by Contract. We've put most of the lunatics in the Middle East in power in one fashion or another. The same is true in parts of South and Central America. It's not hard to spot once you know what you're looking at.

Places that just can't seem to stop going crazy for no apparent reason. Despite all the democracy we're spreading. Those are the modern plantations. It's not just America. We don't own everywhere. But businesses, for a given value of 'own,' do. There are other players in The Game. And none of them are Good Guys. But those refugees streaming across the southern border are fleeing madmen and warlords helped into power by us and allowed to rule so long as they remain friendly to American Interests, and to kowtow accordingly when our Interests are Pursued on the global stage, be it oil or sweatshop labor or diamonds or that shit they make touchscreens out of.

Pat Robertson owns a diamond mine. Complete with slaves. Sorry. Right to Workers. Right To Worker Owner. And he's on TV in 2014 America. Capitalism is a grand ole way to run things from
Jesus' perspective. There's a reason atheists got so noisy all of a sudden. All I'm saying.

From a human perspective: these are paper empires that are loyal only to themselves, and they control the world. News Corp, Disney, Walmart. These are your kings and your castles and your knights and your clerics. Bought governance. Trade agreements. Refugees. War. Profit. Capital.

Those People, the Power Elite, the 1%, the Bourgeois, whatever you want to call them, can't be fought directly. It is not worth your time to try to reason with, confront, talk to or directly acknowledge them or their toadies. At least anonymously online. Which means stop using the internet to stroke your narcissism. That means Twitter becomes a tool for following the ‪#‎breakingstory‬ covered by @acitizenjournalist, and is read-only. It means using the internet for what it was designed for.

There are ways to fight back, but you have to be smart about it. Don't log into twitter or leave comments on news articles. Twitter is great for following breaking news stories. It's fucking terrible for what 99.99% of the people on there are using it for. Same with all social media. I wouldn't be on here but my life wasn't a fucking graveyard lately. Do not use the internet for vanity purposes. Do not use it to start arguments with strangers. I'm as guilty as anyone of attaboyism and hippie narcissism (not real terms,) and pwning noobs or whatever the kids call it, but this is for communication and unless people start using it to communicate it shouldn't be treated as something that works.
Your belief system dictates your behavior and the things you pay attention to dictate your belief system. When your behavior reinforces your belief system you feel like you're "doing it right," and continue the cycle. For a good large portion of America this cycle is controlled by the Murdochs and the Robertson's and the Limbaughs of the world. And that is the world that those people live in. It's the world where /obviously/ butt stuff is sinful and /obviously/ Ronald Reagan was a great president and /obviously/ black people don't know how to raise their kids and /obviously/ homeless vets musta did something to deserve it. Because it's so /obvious/.

But the thing about very obvious things is that you forget where you learned it. You don't ever question it because in a sense it's inseparable from who you think you are. It's just neurons up there. They only budge so much. Ain't nothing mysterious about it. You don't sit around wondering if there's gonna be air still when you wake up tomorrow because /obviously./

The reason the Bill Cosby story has so much more traction with the all-important middleclass and college-age eyeballs and the ‪#‎handsupdontshoot‬/‪#‎icantbreathe‬ protests are being ignored and misreported so systematically is because white people can handle the Cosby story. The Ferguson stories might as well be in Yiddish for all a middleclass white person is gonna understand it. They understand Cosby, they can't understand the drug war or how prisons really work. /That/ kind of racism is the kind of racism white America can't deal with: /actual/ systemic racial problems. They can just about process a "Safe" black like Cosby being a criminal. They can't process the reality of the Black America Cosby spent most of his career helping hide from rural and middle class America. It just becomes Something That Doesn't Involve Them. Like Guantanamo. Or Wikileaks. Or the War Making. "You're exaggerating. I don't see it, so it must not exist." That's the reasoning. Places like Kerrville? Small towns? Suburbs? Black people were Bill Cosby or Eddie Murphy or deficient in some way. /obviously./ That was the grand illusion. Cosby was the Easy Answer. And we are a people enamored of Easy Answers.

I'm not saying Cosby knew or knows that he was serving that function in society, to be the template for what an "acceptable black" had to be to participate in white society. But because I'm aware of it I have no problem believing the man was a serial rapist as well. Not saying he was, just that it wouldn't surprise me. I never thought the motherfucker was that funny, honestly.

Following segregation, which was the non-solution to Jim Crow and sharecropping, those being non-solutions to the abolition of slavery, America declared war on drugs and poverty (that means war on blacks and poor people, for those following at home,) AIDS, the War on Drugs, increased cuts to domestic spending, crack, the White Flight and all the rest of it ravaged black communities across the nation, while most of WHITE America thought all Black Americans were either a Huxtable Extended Cast Member, a sexy, but non-threatening bad-boy type like Eddie Murphy or Will Smith, an athlete, or, well, innately criminal or less than human in some manner. /Obviously./

I'm simplifying it for effect, and it's a very narrow, myopic, and admittedly cynical way to look at it, but that was the world I was raised in. For most white people, especially rural white people: that's what all black people were. I didn't really meet any black people until high school. And that's where the HUGE, obstinate refusal of an embarrassingly large amount of self-labeled liberal Democrats to even understand what the problem IS comes from: They chose the Easy Answer so long ago that they forgot they forgot it was the Easy Answer. And now it's biting them in the ass because they didn't even know it was a thing that was happening.

This is because of belief systems. Memeplexes. If your brain is your hardware then it would be like the software. Not as foundational as the operation system, but not something people tend to think about at a meta-cognitive level much. And often they're the Great Lies White America tells Itself so it can sleep at night.

The bottom line is that without an agreed upon means of communication we can't communicate, and without honest and accurate communication between people that treat each other as peers, done in the spirit of goodwill and altruism, communication is effectively impossible. That sounds grand and noble, but in practice it's painful and ugly.

Nobody wants to admit they're racist about certain shit, or that they don't particularly give a shit about Thing X Everyone Is Supposed To Give a Shit About. In my experience, as an expert who has spent a profane amount of time studying this stuff: try asking the experts. And then CHECK TO SEE IF WHAT THEY SAY ADDS UP. And then relay what they say to the people around you. And listen to the people around you when they try to communicate with you.

That's my take on it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In Response Two


Wait, Democrats actually doing something? Oh. After filing a resolution. And waiting, literally, for a week. And then after collecting hundreds of signatures. And then making a motion. And then taking a vote. And then being sent to the Senate if nothing goes wrong. For further voting, petitioning, hand-wringing for the cameras, and rich, narcissistic old white guys arguing about very important things in the bold assurance that no matter how badly they perform or how many people they hurt they will never, in this life, face any severe consequences or shoulder any responsibility, having cleverly inoculated themselves against any re-election threats through jerrymandering and propaganda.

That is not fucking doing something. That is the opposite of doing something. That is hiding behind bureaucracy. That is using the letter of the law to violate the spirit of the law. That is sitting on your hands, more scared of losing your job than doing the right thing. Congratulations, House Democrats. "Not actively making shit worse," is probably the best we can expect from you until we stop voting for people whose only talents in life are telling people what they want to hear and absolving themselves of blame.

This is why I don't vote for Democrats above the county level. They turn into this shit. Cowards and bureaucrats, sincerely *wanting* to do something but too chickenshit to stand up to the bully and stand for something. Nothing I can do. Hands are tied. They have hostages. At least we have the moral high ground.

If I had a chair in that room, I'd like to think I'd get immediately thrown out for trying to bring treason charges against Boehner and anyone else using or willing to use procedural loopholes to take the country hostage until their demands are met. Or at least fucking reckless endangerment charges. I would drag homeless veterans, untreated cancer patients, and hungry children in off the street, grab a camera, and demand that the people responsible for this explain why this is necessary. Because this shit is unacceptable.

Maybe I wouldn't. I can be a dick. Plus I don't know what I'd be like if I was rich and powerful. But any representative worthy of the name would.

I don't think many would disagree when I say that though they may be following the letter of the law, these people have cast the spirit of the law aside. Not just our laws, the concept of rule of law itself. This behavior should be as unacceptable in the developed world as human slavery. Instead, it's universally accepted as normal, regardless of whether you side with the kid demanding lunch money or the kid that's been letting himself get beat up since fucking Eisenhower.

And we all know, obviously, that no matter who ends up with what lunch money it's all going to the same cafeteria. We know that they know and they know that we know and we all just shrug and say "yeah, that looks about right." What the fuck is wrong with people? Don't vote for people based on how they make you feel, because people that play with your emotions to get you to agree to do something for them are manipulative swine. Fire your fucking employee if shit like this happens on their watch, and don't hire anyone involved with this fiasco ever again. We hire our rulers by voting Who would rule in your best interests? Don't vote for incompetent apologists. Vote for people that know what the fuck they're doing. If they didn't grow up in a HUD home or on an actual poverty stricken farm and don't have two doctorates in applicable fields they shouldn't be left unsupervised in the same room as someone running this country. How hard is that to fucking figure out?

Voters are in charge of this country and voters keep electing this shit. This is, literally, every eligible American's fault. Some more than others, obviously, but everyone is on the hook to some degree. They voted for incompetent bullies. But we elect incompetent cowards. The ACA isn't a good law. It's a band-aid on a bullet wound. We shouldn't be defending it because we should be defending what we're replacing it with at this point: actual socialized medicine.

This happened because we elected people that care more about their tenure than the well-being of human society. This is a problem. I don't know how fix it. I've tried screaming "Pick up a fucking civics book and read it, you dumb fuck!" at half the people I meet. It doesn't work. "I'm really good at understanding things, and I generally vote Green Party, and I can explain why," is not a good sales pitch either. Nobody listens to reasonable.

And since I'm relying on facts I don't get to do propaganda or political spin as much as I'd like. I show somebody the figures on socialized medicine in Europe or Australia and say 'fucking read this.' But I don't get to scream SOCIALISM in front of a picture of some crazy fucking suicide bomber. Because that's unethical. So all I'm really qualified to say is "vote for somebody with an ethical campaign or I fucking won't like you."

Quit voting for assholes. Switch news sources for a month or two. If you like RT or the The Young Turks, watch O'Reilly and Hannity for a month. If somebody starts spouting numbers, check and see if they're right. It is fucking easy to do that. If you hear people talking about Karl Marx or Ayn Rand all the time, go out and read one of their books or pamphlets, find out where you really stand on the issue. The Communist Manifesto is fucking short and easy to read, I promise. There are a lot of easily accessible groups on the internet devoted to Randian objectivity. Find somebody you know that knows about this shit and ask them to help you understand it better. Offer to teach them something you know how to do in return. Learning shit is fun, trust me. So is teaching shit. I suck at teaching, but I love doing it.

I think it'd be awesome if people taught each other things more.

But first we have to all admit that we're all ignorant about shit. We have to knock that being in denial about it shit off.

I was trying really hard just to keep my thoughts to myself about this one, but jesus, is this really the best we can do at this point?