Living an Ethical Life Style
So many people on Tumblr are radicals. They may just subscribe to something as simple as a Tubmlr that throws out radical quotes but for many it is more. Certainly I count myself among this demographic and indeed Tumblr has perhaps become a great nexus of organizations for Radicals but there is something false about it all. It’s tumblr. It’s middle class white kids. We stretch out realities that we can never create or even work for. How is that we are to reconcile our own lifestyles with the ideas we express?
At what point do we hit hypocrisy? At what point am I, or you living a lie? What did I do today to start the revolution, or challenge authority? What can we all do? We’re locked into a system and we’re terrified to challenge it. We talk about these ideals but when it truly comes to put ourselves on the line we’re scared. We don’t want to go to jail (fuck, no one does) and we don’t want to quit our jobs. How do we live in a system and defy it when the very system that we live in forces us to adapt to it?
I’m not sure if you can. I know I’ve resisted truly radical things because of fear. A fear that’s been built into all of us; and I don’t know how to beat it. Very few people ever manage to live according to their principles. When are we as a group going to just put our lives and livelihoods down? It simply isn’t enough to try and live in the way we think the system should work. At some point we have to risk real harm to ourselves. I just wish I knew how. I wish I had the courage to stand up and I’m not sure where to find it. I hear and read tales of those who are truly brave but there are few people who are living in Occupy Camps.
This post ends up in a ramble because I don’t have the answer. Hell I’m a hypocrite myself. I shell out thousands of dollars (in student loans) to go to a university and defend myself for failing to truly commit myself to radical actions by my own ties to the system even in such an indirect way. We have jobs. We have responsibilities. So we just sit and posture. What now?
On being the person who says “fuck the police” with a straight face
Throughout the news cycle and society we are constantly sent the same message from the media, from our parents, from school, and even from our fellow activists. This message is that somehow the moderates are always correct. The idea that the truth is always in the middle, and that while capitalism is flawed it cannot be defeated.
We read in the news how the occupy protesters try to minimize news of protestor anti-property violence, of how it was “Fringe” elements and the movement itself was not “compromised”. The idea is that somehow Occupy speaks for Middle America.
Fuck Middle America.
This is not an issue that can be solved by the moderates. Moderation is not always the answer. It’s not a political question it’s an ethical question. Capitalism is ethically wrong and needs to be destroyed. Not reformed, Not moderated but ended.
It’s silly that those of us who are truly willing to work for a better world are spat upon by those who should be our comrades. Some things are just wrong and need to be changed. The compromise for slavery in which it was permitted in some places and not in others (in the USA) is a perfect example of the middle being wrong.
Sometimes we need violence, sometimes we need to condemn groups of people. You cannot please everyone in a revolution.
So when someone says “fuck the police” and means it, don’t mock them. Join them. Don’t believe the false dichotomy that both the left and right are wrong, that moderation is correct. It’s just a matter of principles, an ethical question. We have the answer.
Israel as a “Jewish” state
To continue my trend of writing too much about Israel (have to keep up with the times), I continually find myself drawn to the dispute between Israel and Palestine on the character of Israel as a “Jewish” state.
The terminology strikes me as the first problem. Saying that Israel is a Jewish state is legitimizing the concept of a state having an official religion. The whole idea of a state religion violates peoples’ inherent right to freedom of speech and thought; this is a violation of human rights, for by stating that a state has religion those who disagree with it are naturally going to be suppressed. Israel can be a “Hebrew” (in the sense of an ethnicity) state, but it cannot be a “Jewish” state. There should be no need to recognize it as such because it is a nation-state not a religious-state.
The demand by the West that Palestine recognize Israel as a Jewish state is absurd and should be ignored. It should not matter. It should not be a question of religion. The fact that both sides put so much emphasis on religion show why the process continues to fail. Any form of successful negotiations will have to force both sides to understand that states cannot have religions, only nations.
Israel, Palestinian Statehood and the Basis of States
Israel has existed for quite a few years now. It cannot simply go away. It would be as grave a disservice to the Israelis as it was to the Palestinians when it happened to them. Yet now a vote comes up in the United Nation. Increasingly the Arab world has pressured the United States to not veto it. To allow Palestine to become independent in the truest sense of the word: to become a sovereign state.
Yet the question that troubles me is what is the basis of a state? For the last century or so we’ve done this via self-determination. The people of the land are allowed to choose their fate. The idea is that nations can either choose to remain within traditional multinational states or form independent nation-states; but is Israel not based off not a nation but a religion?
Thus the question that truly bothers me is what is the basis of the Israeli state? Is it based upon the nation of Israel or the religion of Judaism. As someone firmly opposed to religion as a limiter of possibilities I find the idea of a state being based on religion abhorrent as I would imagine most people would.
Thus the way I see it Israel’s relevance as a state comes as to whether we identify its backing as ethnic or religious. If Israel is truly a nation-state and not a Jewish-State then the loss of Palestine is nothing too great. Despite historic claims to the area, if Israel is based around a nation, rather than a religion, then the loss of territories in which another nation now resides should not be a problem.
Israel has the ability here to integrate itself with the global community. They can truly join the ranks of equality and progress or they can descend into theocracy and chaos.
Libya and the Jasmine Revoloution
It finally looks like Libya is coming to a close. Gadaffi is rumored to be dead, and the rebels are closing in the capital. It should be a celebration. Hoist the red flag and declare equality, a victory of the people to produce a better society. Things never turn out like that though.
What started in December in Tunisia has blossomed into a strong resistance movement that has toppled dictatorships throughout the region, only to replace them with other dictatorships. The voice of the people is corrupted and corporate and other interests end up taking over in what were revolutions of the people. What, if anything, can be done?
The problem is the fact that the revolutions have been against leaders and not against systems. It is the rebellion to depose Gadaffi, or Mubarak, or Ben Ali. These sort of limited revolutions can succeed in their objectives but the problem is that then any other factions can easily take over. Influence passes from a representative of the military to the general military, and then another representative. No power ever actually makes its way to the people.
It’s at times such as this that I am reminded of Leninist theory and the idea of a “vanguard of the proletariat.” Why it is surely unfair to see another class take on the struggle of the working class there is a deep seated need in the global community for a dedicated group of individuals to assist and organize revolutions, to insure they succeed and blossom into freedom.
When Spain erupted into revolution in 1936, and Russian in 1917, people of all stripes volunteered and were sent off to fight for the ideology. To some extent this also happened in the African revolutions of the mid 20th century. There is a need for this sort of dedication today. We should fight on behalf of the ideology of a new and better state (or no state if you will) instead of for states.
So many people join the military and talk about defending freedom; these people have joined a corrupt state’s enforcement department. To truly defend freedom those people should instead go over the world and support and organize revolutionary sentiments. It is an awfully large commitment to make, and I can certainly see the hypocrisy oozing from my own statements when compared to my deeds but at the very minimum it must be used as a motivation tool, to encourage people to always do more. We must not wait until the breaking point hits, but instead free ourselves before then.
China as a Capitalist Bogeyman
Certainly China is in the news all of the time, especially in the US. It personifies all the fears of any empire, which is to say a rising power from a different group beginning to threaten some of our economic interests. It feeds farther into the myth that is increasingly promulgated these days that there is a fundamental cultural war of the west against the east. In short it’s the perfect cudgel to bludgeon and bully the public into accepting increasing capitalist domination of both the political and economic systems of this land.
Fundamentally there is a lack of understanding as to what China was (both 1000 years ago and 50 years ago) and is today. It’s painted as a bogeyman poised to take over our industry and “our” influence. On this level it’s important to note that China is still for the most part a regional power. Their military is only just now complete its first aircraft carrier. They are not a great economic power either. While their export quantities are rising it’s mostly due to common and abusive practices of destroying labor power and organizations. Any sort of fiscal dispute is really minor and obscure policy that no one would care about if the media hadn’t made it a crisis.
The reason the media made it is a crisis is from there they can go about manipulating the people. They can say that China is doing all these things and if we don’t go and give up *this* freedom now, we’ll end up behind them. State assets are sold off, and programs disbanded with the promise that only raw, unfettered capitalism will ever help the US maintain its place. What we are really doing is selling what little freedom we have left for the privilege of being exploited more.
China is not a communist sate. They’re not a socialist state. They’re not even a mixed market nation. They probably represent one of the most capitalistic systems in the world today. Workers have no rights and the “Communist” party is more and more a group of economic oligarchs. All of the things we dislike about China (the concept of losing freedom, the oppression, the authoritarianism) come from these abuses of workers. By giving up worker rights, by worrying about the debt excessively, by the exaggeration of the media, we the people are becoming that oligarchical state. We are becoming more authoritarian as our police become militarized to help protect the vast estates springing up overnight as the rich get richer.
It is frustrating to watch people continue to be convinced by this argument. There are always problems to be fixed, but giving up our personal freedoms, or subordinating them for the sake of economic competition is the height of stupidity.
I’ve been wanting publish my feelings on religion for some time because it’s a big issue. No great reason here just something to talk about and I like to hear myself talk sometimes if only so I can cross reference it in a year and hate myself or believing all this bullshit; it’s the terror of perspective. Alas:
I really dislike religion to start with. That much is obvious in any sort of basic conversation with me. I don’t hate religious people. I don’t hate the values of kindness and so forth. That’s all good. What I don’t like about religion is the fact that it is a complete doctrine. Religion is an absolutist system that effectively has all the answers. The problem with having all the answers is that implies that there is nothing else out there.
Effectively religion is closed. It says “we have the answer” and also that “we’ve had the answer for the last 2000 years” or something like that. If this is true, if all the answers were available however many thousand years ago, then what is the point of progress? In a truly utopian system (which religion promises to be) there is no room for progress. Every bit of progress is an allusion and despite all of the terrible abuses that have come with the industrial revolution I do believe it can be used for good.
Furthermore the idea of man being ready for utopia is again something I cannot reconcile with my own beliefs. I see humanity as far too flawed to advance to utopia and to me then religion seems to be false. It is a limiting construct that then prevents progress, for if progress is necessary (as I see it to be) and religion categorizes all progress as false, than religion is part of a reactionary order preventing any changes. Religion then, is the enemy of the people and the enemy of progress. We cannot advance beyond our current paradigm until it is defeated, and in the mean time it makes things more difficult. Using petty tactics of bullying and fear it attempts to convince people to maintain the order instead of working for change.
I understand most of my critiques apply far more heavily to organized religion and not so much spirituality. So take it in that sense. I don’t understand spirituality personally but, I can work with it.
I kind of run this like a blog anyways. Would anyone be offended/upset if I moved it to a proper blog (wordpress/blogspot)? It would make the commenting easier but if everyone likes this on tumblr I’ll stay.
What is your least favorite religion? Why?
What do you think of the fat acceptance movement?
Would you rather save the life of two mentally and physically handicapped people or one fully functioning person? Why?
Should the U.S continue its support for Israel? Why, or why not?
Is human beauty a social construct?
Is space travel a good use of taxpayer money? Why, or why not?
What are your thoughts on contemporary feminism?
I can’t think of a least favorite religion if only because I dislike almost all religions equally. My fundamental problem with religion as always been (and will likely continue to be) the fact that religion is utopian in view. It presupposes that it has the answers for all the questions and as such, it is anti-progress. If I had to pick a most hated though I suppose it’s just the ones that are most opposed to questioning simply because that farther impedes progress.
I don’t really care about the fat acceptance movement not in the sense I disagree or agree with it, it just doesn’t register on my political landscape. I kind of dislike all bodies. I don’t like humans very much. I suppose if people are comfortable with who they are that’s good and all. It seems counter-intuitive to suggest that fat can be healthy but so do a lot of other things I believe in. So I’m kind of at the point where I wouldn’t actively participate in it, have no real desire to learn more, but certainly wouldn’t hinder it.
That’s an unfair question. Depends on the level of handicap because beyond a certain point I’m willing to revoke the title of human (I’ve discussed this before it has to do with language.)
Eh failing to continue its support would just make things worse. The whole reason I see the Israelis behave the way they do is because they feel threatened. The US withdrawing its support would make things worse. Sure they wouldn’t be as powerful but it’s not like any of the nearby Arab states is going to magically be able to take them on. It will however likely inspire more dramatic action because at that point Israel has little else to lose. The US should instead use its influence by setting conditional terms for aid.
I think it’s a personal thing. I don’t see beauty in the human form but I wouldn’t say seeing it is a social construct. It’s just a personal thing either way.
Space travel is always a good use of tax payer money. It doesn’t get that much but is instrumental in advancing human progress which is instrumental in advancing humans themselves.
Contemporary feminism is just a complete disaster. I don’t disagree with its motives, it’s just that it’s a splintered community that has been very successfully stigmatized. Third wave feminism would be better off dead so we could start on 4th wave already.
A Highly Delayed View of Captain America (because it fucking sucked anyways)
I tend to be wordy, because dammit I like formality, or at least to write in that style, so I’d rather start off with the fun stuff, like racism, sexism, and all that other bias.
So ignoring all the other crap about the movie I’d like to take time to look at some racist issues in the movie. What may come as a shock to some lesser informed people, is that the US forces (and the US itself) was not exactly racially equal in its treatment of soldiers. In fact far from it. The Armed Forces were only slightly less racist than mainstream American society of the 40’s. This is however not present at all in the Captain America movie. Not a bad thing at all one would think, racism being bad and all that. The problem of course with that is that it glosses over the whole reality of the experience and the problems of blacks in the military. It deletes their history and makes it non-existent. As painful as cultural memories may be, we have to keep them as motivation to continue to strive for more. The worst part is that with just one line it could have been turned into such a positive experience. They could have explained that racism was bad causally and simply, the general could have said something about how he didn’t have time to deal with not allowing all talent/or all people to help. It wouldn’t have taken much. Instead we just get a white-washed slate in which America is a moral and military champion that can do no harm. That’s a pretty fucking terrible message for a movie that’s going to be watched by a large audience, many of whom are too young to realize what’s going on.
That’s just one aspect too. On the other hand we have the typical Hollywood Trope of sexism. In the movie there is supposed to be a strong female lead. Well and good. It’s good to include strong characters of all sexes. The problem is like most Hollywood “strong” female leads, the character in question instantly falls apart into a tearful mess the second the lead character is on screen. In our first action sequence she is an expert marksman using her abilities and bravely risking herself to attempt to stop a villain. She never again regains this level of competence. Someone she has barely known is suddenly her love interest and she cannot act as a hero anymore. In at least one sequence she impedes a vital mission purely for the sake of a romantic subplot with the lead, because everyone knows when women are in love they become incapable of doing anything. It’s this sort of casual sentiment that is constantly reinforced by movies that portray women as a second sex, a class below others, less competent, and infinitely more fragile.
Perhaps the greatest crime though is that the movie portrays the USA as the great and righteous power of the world. It can do no wrong and is constantly moralized. The conflict is given no gravity. People die and that’s it. It’s a war film and yet there’s no sadness in death and no care for anyone besides the main characters. It’s supremely jiongistic.
Also the plot and the action sequences suck. That too.