Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Politics = boring.

That is, when it's not being depressing [PhuckPolitics.com].

Oh, and this picture of the Boredoms is in honor of politics being boring.

They (the Boredoms) are not boring, though; they're great (or at least they were last time I checked, which was not recently). Here's their myspace page.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Racist Tea Bagger issues domestic terrorist threat.

Terrorism is unacceptable, whatever the color of the terrorist's skin.

It's an important point for those of us who oppose violent extremism to make. Stand up for education, freedom of expression, civil liberties and civil discourse and denounce violence, chauvinism, willful ignorance and hate.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year's.
Or: in the words of the late John Lennon, "Just give me some truth."

We live in a time marked by corruption, double-speak, injustice, violence, superstition and the creeping specter of right-wing totalitarianism. None of this is anything that the human race hasn't faced or endured before. Still, several generations of middle- and working-class people in the United States have enjoyed comfortable existences. We have relied upon -- and participated wittingly or not in the production and reification of -- febrile illusions and convenient myths that blocked from our view various of the certitudes of human history, including: inequality, oppression, exploitation, and financial and militaristic power-jockeying.

But just because we've awoken to find the world around us -- internationally and domestically -- in tatters doesn't mean we have to stop enjoying life. Quite the opposite.

I see the project of political self-education as continuous with the project of being a human being. It's not easy, sometimes, to be a human being, and the very notion that it has ever been easy is a seductive (perhaps irresistibly so) fiction. Whatever our political orientations -- left or right -- each of us has an idealized notion of human life that necessarily draws its raw materials from the past. That this idealized picture never actually existed as such often gets lost somewhere in the course of our endless discussions about the meaning of life, liberty and property as the Founding Fathers meant it. We want to believe that their interpretations of these things were more-or-less like the ones we espouse today.

An obvious example of this phenomenon is Thomas Jefferson. Both the left and the right in this country are fond of claiming him as their own. After all, he was among the most eloquent architects of the United States as an Enlightenment project, poised precariously (if that's possible...) between the polarities of violent revolution and orderly, reasoned deliberation. To the far right, Jefferson was and remains the prophet of the Confederacy -- the defender of States' Rights and of Southern self-determination (read: slavery). To the far left, Jefferson is our founding Civil Libertarian, opponent of slavery (in theory...) and the instrumental force in banishing governmental intervention into our personal, intellectual, moral and religious lives.

The truth, of course, is that Jefferson -- especially taken over the course of his lifetime -- was a walking contradiction. For all of his brilliance, wisdom and passion, he was often inconsistent, self-contradictory, stubborn, tone deaf and even dumb.

I think I lost track of where I was going with all of this... Oh well. I guess I really just wanted to say that these ambiguities and contradictions are part of what make us human beings, and the better we become at understanding this about ourselves and one another, the more adept we will be at being and living amongst human beings. We live in a deeply conservative age in which power is horded by a very small number of people whose conceptions of political and economic justice, reason and freedom center upon one thing: the necessity of maintaining the status quo. In one sense, it has never been an easier time to articulate a critique of the status quo. The injustices perpetrated by crony-capitalist oligarchies -- and the degree to which our elected representatives are in the employ of these oligarchies -- has never been clearer for all to see. It's as though all one needs to do is point one's finger, like identifying a leak in one's bathroom plumbing.

Of course, the trouble is that pointing this out doesn't seem to accomplish all that much. Describing the problems fails to alert our fellow democratic citizens to the necessity of taking political action in order to redress these injustices. But we should take this not as a defeat but as a challenge. We're simply not articulating ourselves clearly enough. Or we're not talking to the right people. Or we're being arrogant, lazy and self-righteous (guilty as charged...). I guess what I'm trying to suggest here is not just that the pen is mightier than the sword, but also that the truth is more durable, valuable, penetrating and infectious than lies.

Sure, the far right (both the radical-laissez faire right and its cousin, the let's bomb everything all the time right) has got legions of oil-company-funded "think tanks" to come up with strategies and propaganda for various right-wing pet-projects, like wars, the privatization of public infrastructure and lowering taxes. They've got the guns, the money and the numbers.

The only thing that stands so much as a chance against so menacing a phalanx is the truth.