Cut the Crap
Working at Z Communications, with the new organization IOPS, and with the new left social networking project now called WorldSocial - previously FaceLeft - I spend considerable time fielding messages that respond to diverse entreaties to write an article or do an interview, make a donation, help a project, review a book, or join the organization. They often say no and sometimes explain why. I read the refusal. I consider the gentle intimations or the explicit and sometimes very dismissive explanations. And I have to tell you - very often I get a little depressed, a little angry. Sum it up, day after day, message after message - and add in all the similar messages and indications that I know other people in positions like my own see, with essentially the same explanations such as "yes, but what is in it for me," or such as expressions of diverse convoluted, idiosyncratic distaste for some minuscule aspect that oddly overrules the possibility of participation, or such as "no, but have a nice day," or such as silence - but almost nothing substantive, ever - and my reaction, I admit, grows to a lot of depression and a lot of anger.
This article, replying, would be better written by many other people who can express sentiments like the ones I attempt to convey here more compellingly, eloquently, movingly - perhaps more sensitively too - but, we all do what can with what we have. The title, Cut the Crap, may sound a bit strange to some readers. The phrase used to mean, decades back, and I don't know if it is still used this way - stop prevaricating, stop blathering to pass time because you have nothing serious to say or don't want to say what you really think, stop obscuring actual relations with imagined hypotheticals, stop uttering inane distracting noises that obscure real communication. Stop self deception and magical thinking that ignores reality. Get down to serious truthful interchange and action.
Or, more succinctly - fact about the world, fact about the world, fact about the world, fact about the world - blather about nothing - for heavens sake, cut the crap.
Drones, spying, commercializing, commanding or obeying, butchering or being butchered, piling up poverty like pennies in wishing wells, piling up corpses like cordwood beside a lonely cabin, piling up lies like lilies in the field. Ignore causes and justice - prosecute, prosecute, and please pass the guns. Hells bells, cut the crap.
My point is intellectually trivial. A six year old could get it.
Look around. Look again. Look, really look, dammit. It is so goddamn ugly out there, so terrifyingly depraved and decrepit, so vile and vicious, that most of us, in fact perhaps all of us - well, I know one exception but he is an analyst/linguist seemingly from Neptune - don't really look. We reflexively censor the incoming images so we can persist day to day. It is understandable, but in truth, we need to stop censoring. Out there it is not democracy knocking on the door. It is not the ship of justice nearing port. It is not a new day, a new dawn. It is a fucking disgraceful rotten mess, that has now become so horrendous that it threatens to literally unravel what modest civilization humanity has over centuries attained.
You might say - "what's new about that?" You might say, "I have seen it before, often, even always, so why should I look again?" You might say, "stop blowing into the wind." And viewed one way there would be considerable truth in your utterance. But viewed another way - all I can think is, cut the crap.
It isn't some eternal natural wind that we are trying to blow into that is carrying the rot - so we should stop blowing. It is human-made institutions around us that make economic life a rat race, cause a war without pause in bedrooms, pit religions and races against religions and races, subordinate the very many to the very few, and compel those on every side, if they are escape being trampled, to carry out their assigned roles to be command or obey, and in both cases, the future be damned.
Intelligent people, with blood like yours, eyes like yours, and neurons like yours, say about global warming - it isn't there. Or it is there but it is just the natural wind, so you can't blow into it successfully. It is certainly not our choices doing damage. Quit bugging us. We have profits to pursue. Incredible.
That yesterday was horrible and today is nearly as bad or even worse, depending on the precise latitude and longitude we happen to inhabit, doesn't mean we should welcome a fascistic tomorrow. That the institutions we have been born into have bent us like some vile devil sculpting our souls doesn't mean we can't attain more.
The world is twisting. Conformity's cords are fraying. And yes, the meat hooks of coercion are sharpening. On both sides there is motion, and "the center cannot hold" - or, more aptly, the rubbish heap of messed up relations piling up all around us is spawning change. Will there emerge a grotesque parody of humanity - with people swimming in rising seas, buffeted by triumphant storms, and thinned by rampant poverty? Will corporate power trump everything? We will be reduced to tiny celebrations when mass activism temporarily delays a headlong drive toward unlimited authoritarian, coercive domination, even as the trend toward unlimited authoritarian, coercive domination and all its causes persists? Are we really going to be reduced to celebrating Facebook, Apple, Google, and Twitter, as they fold, spindle, and mutilate us into cyber ciphers for corporate exploitation and government surveillance? Or - are we going to instead, amidst the growing rubbish heap, usher in a better world? Will the kids now playing in fields, yards, or gutters, and the as yet unborn children of tomorrow, enjoy lives with dignity? Will they enjoy sufficient daily stability to meet their needs and desires? Will they even have dry land on which to tread? Or will our kids and grandkids live at best incredibly stunted existences compared to even now, much less compared to what ought to be?
My point? We all need to cut the crap.
We all need to face the fact that it is time for those who have the heart, soul, eyes, and access to fully realize how tenuous current relations have gotten, to aim for new relations well beyond just moderately ameliorated pain.
Those trying to forestall massive assaults now underway or to carve out a modicum of well being in the sewage dump of daily indignity, but to do so without altering basic underlying structures, do hugely worthy work. Ameliorating pain is good. However, someone, sometime, somewhere - and actually a whole hell of a lot of people, from now on, and everywhere - need to self consciously and without embarrassment, intelligently seeking still more insights, put back on the table, put back in the vernacular, put back in people's daily thinking, a very simple aspiration - "we want the world and we want it now."
And those many people who decide they want the world and want it now need to not only want a world structurally better in its basic underlying institutions than the one we now endure, but to begin collectively shedding their lone views and instead sharing collective views about aims and means, so that they can act together with the talent and intent of each augmenting the talent and intent of the rest.
I don't see how it could be any clearer that we now need to envision new institutions. That we need to see the difference between preferred future institutions and the poverty, war, indignity, alienation, commercialization, and ecology destroying barbaric structures we now suffer. That we need to develop organization for focusing our endeavors to bridge that gap. That we need to develop tools of education and outreach so as to inspire and inform ever more allegiance to preferred visions from ever more people. That we need to generate and sustain ever more commitment and energy for fighting against the slippery slide into hell that is happening all around us, but also for fighting for positive gains that move societies toward favored new institutions. That we need to win positive gains that leave everyone happy to have fought and to have won some benefits - but even more important, ready to fight to win more.
We need to cut the crap.
It no longer suffices, if it ever did, to be against injustice, against imperial violence, against poverty, against racism, sexism, and homophobia, against authoritarianism, but doing little or nothing fundamental about any of the real causes of these ills. It is now necessary, with bold spirit, audacious intent, and, when needed, unwavering courage, to share positive revolutionary views. And yet, hard as may be to share such views, even that shift in mindset is not remotely sufficient. What is really needed is not only to be in favor of true, viable, worthy, compelling, alternatives - but to also fight for and win those gains.
The above viewpoint - that we need positive systemic aims and that we need to to work to win them - is, I think, incontestable. We should all be able to easily win a debate with anyone who thinks otherwise. I knew this was the case when I first got around to thinking serious thoughts back in 1966, 67, 68, 69, and basically - though sometimes, I confess, with attenuated (self censored) passion - every year since. And I know it was of course also thought way back before the sixties by many many other people. But, the point here is, there is these ideas, these aspirations, being incontestable in a subtle debate that reveals not so obvious truths by marshaling evidence and analysis, which has always been the case, and then there is this conception having an in your face undeniable, utter obviousness - nothing subtle about it, no need for erudition and deep analysis to arrive at it - which is our current situation.
Indeed, in 2013, I believe it takes serious effort in the form of self-mutilating our perceptions and human sentiments, for us to have eyes even a quarter open and not see what is indicated above. Everyone knows that everything is broken. Everyone knows that life and liberty and fulfillment for all, not just for a tiny few who shield themselves from the indignities that others endure, depends on massive change.
So nowadays many people realize that much, at some level of consciousness, however deeply it may be buried and kept from sight. Having it realized by even more people, of course needs to be addressed. But there is a much harder step. Because for most people, to openly admit thinking revolutionary thoughts and seeking to engage in revolutionary action is impeded by believing that to do so will appear masochistic - or whiney - or, perhaps most of all for the young, not cool. It is impeded by believing that admitting the above observations may put one on a slippery slope to being an outsider who is estranged from workmates, bosses, family, and friends. And for what? Not much, in most people's view, given that most people think there is no alternative to the injustices and indignities we endure, so that we ought to just make the best of our plight without complaint. Trying to envision alternatives and to win them, most people feel, very deeply and compellingly, is simply a fools errand.
What follows from these observations is realizing that the hardest part of getting greater consensus on the need for massive change, is the need to make evident an alternative societal path and how we might attain it. This is not just Joe thinking one thing, and Sue thinking another thing about goals and means, so we have a million Joes and a million Sues each clinging tenaciously to his or her own nuanced and personal view. That kind of persistent, incessant diversity is fine and sometimes even wonderful when we are talking about how people react to a sunset, a painting, or a song. But it is not wonderful and not even okay when we are talking about people's reactions to the broadest levels of the problem of collectively creating a new world. For that task, we need first hundreds and then thousands and then millions of us to be on pretty much the same page about broad aims and means. We need to agree on undertaking a shared endeavor where the whole is more important than each part. An endeavor that we know requires considerable unity and cohesion in the obvious large, as well as diversity regarding complexities and innovations.
So cut the crap.
And now I am addressing myself mainly to those who already agree with the need for new societies and a new world. Stop focusing exclusively on what is wrong. Start addressing what we desire to win, showing what its broad features need to be, and how demands we make and campaigns we wage can enlarge the numbers of people seeking our shared goals and can win gains moving toward those goals. Finally, having planted the seeds of the future by our actions, nurture those seeds into the full flowering of a worthy future.
Cut the crap. It is going to take time, but start working for a revolution that replaces stultifying todays with liberating tomorrows.
Cut the crap. Join or create an organization aimed at revolutionizing the institutions that trample us.
Cut the crap. Embark on communications efforts, on organizing efforts, or on constructing alternatives efforts, all leading toward winning a new society.
Real democracy is not coming to the USA or anywhere else magically, on the wings of good will alone. The ship of justice is not coming into our ports on some inevitable current of liberty. Real participatory self management and justice, real solidarity and equity, real diversity and peace, real ecological sanity, will only arrive for humanity to enjoy if people make these aims arrive. And no matter how courageous, how creative, and how committed, we may be, we can not and will not make it happen if we set our sights lower - in point of fact, up until now, much much lower.
Cut the crap. Raise aspiration. Form organization. Spread hope and vision. Struggle.
If we don't cut the crap, even if we are really well motivated, even if we have really caring hearts and wise ideas - we will ultimately wind up beneath literally rising tides and tornado winds. We will implement little more than cultural, political, kinship, economic, ecological, and global suicide.
Cut the crap - Birth the future.