I usually try not to, but I tweeted.
This: “If you’re a liberal or a self-described centrist, you do not understand our current situation, or you callously think you’ll continue to be fine as the world crumbles around you. You are the problem. You are blocking any possibility of the fundamental change we need.”
Most responses have been people hitting the like button, but most, I speculate, were too afraid to retweet.
I also got this response: “So war is the answer?? Or a collapse into servitude of a different kind than what we experience now? Actin [sic] needs to be taken, but what??”
I started writing a reply – and it quickly became longer than any thread should be, so I’m putting the reply here and will give the guy a link. If it helps some people or angers some liberals, then I’ve done my job. Without further introduction:
Well, here’s the short answer (because twitter): We’re already at war. In addition to the actual wars they are conducting and profit from, the right/corporations/rich launched (the current iteration of) class war against most of the world around 1980 (some say earlier) by exacerbating capitalism with a project (and so-called ideology) referred to as neoliberalism. They decimated the left (unfortunately, sometimes along w/the help of the left [internecine fights, defections to liberalism, anomie, etc…]) and attacked working people, and of course poor people.
Now, by referencing “servitude” I assume you think something people are calling socialism will lead to the next Soviet empire and gulags. If that bears no resemblance to what you were thinking, forgive me – but if that is kinda what you were thinking, well, there isn’t a thread long enough to address that in depth – though there are really long threads. I believe they used to be called books. Oh wait, we still have those. There are many, many, many books that attempt to think through the struggles, wins, and defeats of the left, and many more that are attempting to think about the way forward. I would start with the left wing press if you are curious about these things (@haymarketbooks and @VersoBooks would be fine places to start). The good thing about social media is that you can ask the experts directly where to start and they will give you great recommendations.
Your last question is the perennial question. A person once asked it this way, “What is to be done?” Another short answer: as moribund and fucked up as the left still is, the only chance of a way out is to revive it and make it better than it ever was in the history of the world (oh, and make it international while we’re at it). You can see slight hints of that in things like a renewed strike movement, a push for racial and economic equality, movements to address climate change, etc…Anti-war movements are another thing that has to be revived. But, in the end multiple disconnected movements, will not win. In some concrete way, the left will have to unify. A unified left can do mass organizing, build institutions (its own media for example), fight capitalists (non-violently of course), and win. Win and take power that is. Not as an organization per se, but as citizens of the world through organizations and yes, even parties. And yes, I understand how that sounds. And yes, I’m familiar with the challenges (a big one is that most of the left as it is currently constituted doesn’t believe it’s necessary to have a unified movement and doesn’t spend much time on internationalism. That needs a book all it’s own).
Unfortunately, there is no other way. I wish there was, because I have zero hope. I also have zero fear of some future in which we did everything we could to build a new and better left and it became a Soviet state with gulags, because the u.s. has the biggest gulag in the world right now – as it is conducting at least eight wars around the world, oppressing and repressing its own citizens, to say nothing of horrific, deadly sanctions internationally…and you’re afraid we would what, be wasting our time and risking a Soviet state if we tried to form a unified left that was against the capitalism, imperialism, racism, and colonialism that were the building blocks of our sick society. One that literally puts refugee children in cages and blows up little brown children all over the world? One that denies healthcare to tens of millions – well, the list is endless. Yes, I see that you’re Canadian. I won’t start listing Canadian crimes, but, I could. There are plenty to go around.
People are suffering. They don’t have any power or money, and a lot of them don’t know what to do. Liberals – and it looks like they’re now going to try to take the Progressive moniker for themselves (like the political spectrum hasn’t already been dragged so far right that centrists are on the right) – have some small semblance of political power. Especially the rich ones. They also perform a role in society (if you want a hint of what that is listen to Phil Ochs’, “Love me I’m a liberal”). I’m not saying you are one, but they are always the first people to ask me what to do, but, to a person, they have never looked around their community to see what people are doing and try to lend a hand (I mean to the left, not to some charity). But liberals have an ideology all their own. At the moment it’s one that has led them to cheer on war, coups, the FBI and the CIA, blame Russia for racism (?), and above all else, defend capitalism. And this brings us around to my original tweet.
Whelp, that about does it for my social media time. I’ve only ever responded like this to David Simon – who, it turns out, is a hypocritical douche bag. I’m sure you’re not like David Simon…and I hope you will take this in the spirit it was offered, which is actual, honest communication about real actual life. The one we’re all doing our best to live, and the one people at least say they want to continue.
All the best,
~ Your 21st Century Poet
(Please forgive all typos and awkward sentences as this was quickly typed and edited because this isn’t really how I want to spend my time.)