Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Governor Will Give Homeless People Sleeping Bags, Let Them Stay the Night on Windswept Porticos Outside His Buildings Instead of Your Doorstep




I stopped at a bar in Beltsville before last night's game to have a beer and work on the above. The bar was almost empty, I found a quiet corner, but ten minutes later four electrical contractors from somewhere other than here came in and took up chairs near me at the bar. What you, a scientist or something, one asked, looking at my pens, my writing. Just doodling, I said. They watched for another minute or two then lost interest.

Obama's a socialist, don't you know. Goddamn Democrats are socialists, don't you know. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and nine-tenths of the Republicans are traitors and pussies, don't you know. Country's going to hell, don't you know. This isn't to slam them - their mythology is no more or less stupid than mine. Why the fuck isn't the draft beer cold, one asked. Good question.

Species of motherfucking red ants - it's only our survival instinct that keeps us from killing each other. Here's the root of my rube: what if society is, at any given moment, as good, by whatever definition of good you choose, as this species is capable? We've been indoctrinated to consider that question taboo.












PROCLAMATION

Stuart Dischell

The governor will give
Homeless people sleeping bags,
Let them stay the night

On windswept porticos
Outside his buildings
Instead of your doorstep.

I am talking to myself
With empty rooms
I cannot bear to live in.



7 comments:

  1. This is delicate, BDR, but I've confronted the "socialism" misnomer a few times already. I've tried different tactics ranging from trying to correct the miscomprehension by educating (in one ear and out the other) to skipping over the word and getting to what's underneath. Which as far as I can tell is a condemnation of a government run amok seizing more and more control over the lives of its "citizens" to said citizens' detriment. No argument from me there. I keep looking and finding quite easily the common ground. It may seem wanton and unprincipled, especially from a writer, but I'll cede the goddamn word, it has been ceded before, e.g. National Socialism, etc. if it allows for the possibility of building collectives, especially of the urban/rural variety, which as Ralph Nader pointed out in the context of the Egyptian uprising, must be built if anything's going to meaningfully change. So what if we're not speaking the same language, in exactly the same way, as long as we know what we mean. Put another way, the paid professional disinformers know its going to rankle, blind, enrage and discourage the educated classes, and therefore stifle alliances across class. Don't hand them that easy victory.

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  2. As Frances wisely notes, talking about "socialist Obama" is just a flaw of symbols and images and their attendant vocabulary-skewing.

    Get a "conservative" talking about what bothers him/her, avoid the labeling and pejoratives and whatever slight you may feel from someone misusing a word or misunderstanding the proper label/category, and you'll find their dislocation and feeling of powerlessness is what bugs them.

    Of course there's always one or two "progressive" or "liberal" people who are from the working class and happy to have supposedly transcended it... these people can't be expected to commune comfortably with a Palin-supporting roofer or auto mechanic. They're too busy trying to leave that shit behind, in their own existential framework. For them, disdaining the working class "redneck Republican" is a triumph of their shifted social status, from blue collar bound prole-kid, to merit-ful progressive middle or upper-middle.

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  3. Well said, both of you.

    I was dressed in black, heading to a game where I, with thousands of others dressed in black, STOOD! the entire game rooting for a team of mercenaries to win a motherfucking home game. The "paid professional disinformers" understand fully the rites of tribalism.

    I've admitted here a zillion times my bigotry towards crackers and christers. Of course it's easy for the disinformers to push my buttons. And I, of course, exist to make it easy for disinformers to push crackers' buttons.

    I still think my buttons are .06% more honorable, but I'm currently working (but not too hard - it's fucking 117 heat index) on adding a second zero to the immediate right of the decimal point

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  4. We all have buttons! We all have latent empathies, vestigial tribal affiliations, issues of identifying with a favored group. Identity politics has always been an issue in social schemes and political efforts. I don't know what it's like in other countries, but in America in my lifetime, there has been a lot of pressure exerted by the media, punditry and politicians to force people into the Super Bowl mentality and it's awfully hard to step outside that once the slightest affinity or tribal identity takes hold.

    I often say that my biggest beef with Democrats is their identity as Not Republican, which is not an identity at all! How can one define one's self negatively and expect to be effective at anything?

    Curiously when I point this out to Dems, I often get them replying, "well what's YOUR solution," and I respond as saying something like, "that's the problem right there: you don't want to come up with solutions YOURSELF. You need to learn how to think that way, and then act upon it."

    I think most people are accustomed to deferring to political leaders, pundit "analysts," and chosen media outlets. There's a very strong current among my Dem friends to simply accede thought in favor of letting NPR/PBS tell them what they should think, feel, do. Or if it's not pub broadcasting, it's a chosen pundit (Glenn Greenwald is a good example of such a pundit). The most enlightened among my partisan Dem friends scoff at the pundits and politicians, but admire people like Steven Colbert or Jon Stewart, while not really seeing this is still deferring to another, supposedly "wise" person -- albeit with humor.

    I think most people don't realize how much effort goes into the whole Bread and Circus created to perpetuate the Super Bowl of Donkey vs Elephant.

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  5. I find the most disturbing thing about that photograph is that I knew, with only one quarter of the photograph exposed, precisely what it was.

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  6. That's the whole photo. Ningland had just scored. I wanted to see my forehead's reaction.

    Missed you.

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