Archive | January, 2012

Back to your regularly scheduled dissident philosophy

15 Jan

With all this stupid ex drama over, I can focus on the actual purpose of this blog, which is to get the CIA to follow me around. Not really. But I am committed to writing and thinking about stuff that cuts against the grain. I wouldn’t be a dangerous liberal intellectual if I didn’t, right?

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is tomorrow. In one of those weird serendipitous moments that brings momentary order to a completely random universe, I stumbled across this essay in a book that was among the stuff my ex brought back to me. I’ve decided to reproduce it here, since it’s timely and also relevant to issues that are still making headlines. Well, the mainstream media has all but forgotten about the Occupy movement, but the problems that it addressed are never going to go away. This essay is from 1995.

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“The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV,” by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, from You Are Being Lied To; Russ Kick, editor. Link: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2269

It’s become a TV ritual. Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King’s birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about “the slain civil rights leader.” The remarkable thing about this annual review of King’s life is that several years – his last years – are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963), reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963), marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965), and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn’t take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever. Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they’re not shown today on TV.

Why?

It’s because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights” — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

“True compassion,” King declared, “is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

By 1967, King had also become the country’s most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was “on the wrong side of a world revolution.” King questioned “our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America,” and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions “of the shirtless and barefoot people” in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about “capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.”

You haven’t heard the “Beyond Vietnam” speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 — and loudly denounced it. Life magazine called it “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post patronized that “King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People’s Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble “a multiracial army of the poor” that would descend on Washington — engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be — until Congress enacted a poor people’s bill of rights. Reader’s Digest warned of an “insurrection.”

King’s economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America’s cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its “hostility to the poor” — appropriating “military funds with alacrity and generosity,” but providing “poverty funds with miserliness.”

How familiar that sounds today, more than a quarter-century after King’s efforts on behalf of the poor people’s mobilization were cut short by an assassin’s bullet.

As 1995 gets underway, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. And so do most mass media. Perhaps it’s no surprise that they tell us little about the last years of Martin Luther King’s life.

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How the mighty have fallen

6 Jan

I guess my ex got his widdle feelings hurt by my last post. The good news? I got my shit back!

His conduct was astounding. Wouldn’t take the door when I held it open for him. Stared at his feet and muttered something. Wouldn’t even look at me. I tried being friendly, but that’s not what he wants. He wants me to yell at him and be a bitch so he can keep telling his harem of followers what a meany poo poo head I am.

This is a grown, adult male who teaches kids for a living. And he can’t even look me in the eye. Good riddance, you arrogant coward.

See, I’m not supposed to be upset. He’s indignant because I actually took offense to his behavior: cheating, lying, sneaking around behind my back, laying all these elaborate plans about how he’s going to dump me so he can take off with Mistress #48. See, I wasn’t supposed to get MAD about it. How dare I!

I caught him in a lie, so he gets pissed and acts like a fucking kid. And yet somehow he’s trying to trash my reputation among our mutual acquaintances, none of whom give enough of a shit about me to actually bother considering how one-sided and self-absorbed his “version” of events is.

Don’t let the charisma fool you. This guy is a habitual burner of bridges and only acts in self-interest. The welfare of other human beings is the last thing on his mind.

I can’t even tell you how wonderful it has felt today to know that this lying, STD-ridden, cheating, arrogant bag of shit is completely gone from my life. I feel like I just won the lottery.

His “conditional” version of love made me miserable and kept me down. Now I am free to love myself without conditions first, and then hopefully find someone out there who is equally free of conditions for love.

Don’t allow someone to put constraints on why and how they will love you. It’s a recipe for disaster and self-loathing. That man will NEVER love another human being unconditionally, and that is why I am so lucky to have escaped.

Pretty much ran down the street jumping for joy and flirted with a couple construction workers in celebration.

Ever been dumped by a martyr?

4 Jan

So my ex contacted me yesterday to inform me that he is “finally ready” to return my shit to me. Finally ready? Did my stuff need to take classes on human development and learn about condoms or something? Oh, it’s ready. My stuff is SO HOT RIGHT NOW.

He’s had about half a dozen opportunities to return my stuff to me, but something has always come up to inconvenience him – like having to choose between returning my shit or having money to go out with the woman who replaced me. His life is SO HARD. So many challenges! No wonder it took him so long to be “ready.”

You would think, okay, so I’ve been pretty patient with him on this, but now he’s finally going to drop it off and we can exchange pleasantries and small talk about the weather and I can get my second-favorite bicycle plus a bunch of my books and life can move on.

But oh no! Because the ex is willing to drive 100 miles to bring me my stuff, but NO FURTHER. He actually had the audacity to ask if he could dump all of my stuff at my dad’s house. You continue to outdo yourself, asshole. Using my family as a middle-man – classy. You see, my ex makes SO MANY sacrifices and actually being man enough to face me makes his stigmata wounds hurt. (Between you and me – he wouldn’t be hung no matter how big the cross.)

So as a reminder of the size of the bullet I successfully dodged with this one, I present:

Pros and Cons of being dumped by a broke, overweight, middle-aged, habitual cheater who roller skates.

PROS

1. I can watch cartoons and play video games whenever I want, without ridicule!
2. I’m losing weight from not eating fried food constantly!
3. I don’t have to pretend to care about roller derby!
4. Three words: Big black cock
5. I’m allowed to care about stuff that I want to care about!
6. I’m permitted to defend myself when someone picks a fight with me!
7. No more gaslighting!
8. When I go on dates, I don’t have to pay for everything!
9. No more guilt trips for having emotions!
10. CATS!

CONS

1. Mediocre sex life.
2. See above.

So there you have it. Now you know – the next time you get dumped by a martyr, just think of all the shit you escaped!

(Note: I reckon it will take all of an hour for someone to show this to my ex, and he can threaten me with slander even though he doesn’t actually know what the word means, and people can tell me how mean I am. Blah blah blah. This is called humor. Satire, even. Satire is protected speech. There is obvious hyperbole in this, which should be the tipoff that it is satire. Sadly, because even college students are incapable of understanding when something is tongue in cheek, I have to stick this disclaimer down here and spell it out. SATIRE. SARCASM. HUMOR. Not to be interpreted literally.)

On passion

2 Jan

Passion is a funny thing. Many of us spend our teenage years pretending that passion is for losers, and being too cool for anything is an admirable trait. This becomes slightly more pathetic when some people carry this concept into adulthood. It’s sort of like dying your hair purple and wearing a corset and fishnets to the club – as a grown woman. It’s fake edginess. It’s pseudo-rebellion. It’s only there because admitting to caring about something is like admitting you’re uncool, and to some people that is a fate worse than death. (The whole purple-hair-and-fishnets thing is a huge red flag on an adult woman, by the way, unless it’s Halloween. And even if it is, it’s pathetic  – “Please allow my false edginess to cause you to pay attention to me!”) Real edge comes from within. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool punk rocker, but I don’t dress the part. Because I don’t need to.

Speaking of false edginess, the Sex Pistols (the punk band) were basically a boy band cobbled together for their look. A producer figured he could use them to sell “punk” clothes. They were a marketing ploy. So the entire punk rock aesthetic can be traced back to a guy using a musical image to get rich. Their lyrics were written by marketing people. There is no real edge – it’s the appearance of rebellion.

You don’t really get to pick your passions; they pick you, and you have to choose how you’re going to implement that passion in your life. Conventional wisdom tells us that passions must be hobbies or side projects, never careers, because work is horrible and you must hate it or you aren’t a REAL AMURRICAN. So say you have a passion for building furniture. The same people who consciously reject giving a shit about anything are the same people who will tell you to go build furniture on your own time. They will inform you that there’s no way to “make any money” building furniture, and therefore it must be a “side” venture. The bulk of your time must be spent doing what you don’t want, so you can spend what’s left doing what you want.

Does that seem lopsided to anyone else?

Your energy should go into your passions. You shouldn’t have to gather up the scraps of energy and time you have left after laboring in WORK to do something you care about. We get stuck in that routine and then try to use fake edginess to rebel, because we really fucking hate what we do and let’s act out. The system is DESIGNED for this process. The world is seeded with negative people who will tear down genuine passion and replace it with their fake edginess.

This all goes back to the mindset that caring about something leaves you vulnerable, and being vulnerable isn’t cool. Passion can leave your heart undefended, and there are plenty of people who want to take a stab at your heart while it’s exposed.

Passion is abstract. What do I want to do when I grow up? I want to change the world. I tell people that, and they smirk. I tell people I’m in doctoral school and the next question is, without fail, “What do you do with that?” Because the mindset we’ve been forced to adopt is that every action must have some sort of definable outcome that leads to financial reward. Forget personal fulfillment, they want to know how I will earn money. And I can see it in their eyes when I tell them “I’m going to be a teacher,” – they feel sorry for me, or they’re looking down on me. Never is anyone genuinely thrilled for me, and I’ve never had anyone “get it” when I spill the “change the world” bit.

Passion is completely abstract. There are means towards chipping at it, but there’s never a fast, definable answer. People want a goal that’s relevant for a capitalist society that consumes information in chunks, like McNuggets.

Everyone’s a fucking critic. I even get people talking down to me for wanting to involve myself in the academy, because academia is just part of the military industrial complex anyway, and by becoming a college professor I ensure the cycle of violence against poor brown people continues.

Remember what I said about pseudo-rebellion? Fake edge?

My passion is such that I have to work from within. Get inside the system and start making changes, start tearing it down. Conduct myself in a professional manner at all times, while setting in motion the things that need to happen so I can start changing the world.

I don’t need to advertise my “edge.” The best kind of rebellion is the kind that starts on the inside. Intellectual Stockholm Syndrome. So look twice – you think I may be playing the game, but there’s more passion here then I could ever hope to convey with my outward image.

You want to change the world? Go do it. 2012 is the Year of Possibilities. Negative naysayers can GTFO; we’ll be working from within.