Tuesday, July 7, 2020

An old letter to no one in particular...

I was crawling through old emails and found this.  Its a time machine to energy and enthusiasm that I can't really seem to tap into any more--in fact I honestly can't stomach to read the entire thing, I'm cringing. There are a number of glaring flaws in my reasoning.  I bombarded a bunch of very smart people at fancy research institutions and many kind friends who put up with my long winded rants via email from time to time.

My current approach would seek some kind of detente between libertarians, classical liberals, and left leaning syndicalists and environmentalists.  With far less of the bomb throwing and lifestyle rhetoric.  
I have more thoughts on this but for now I want to dwell on the energy and enthusiasm that has faded as I near 40 (meh, how did that happen?!? lol).  I was completely clueless and detached from the world... and the world has hit back good and hard over multiple efforts and new approaches to trying to inspire and instigate positive change feel to be a candle in the dark room that everyone has left locked up and alone. 

So I'm just going to sit this right here without editing.  And ponder.

I figure wrapping the post up with the Chumbawamba at what was claimed to be their final set is proper for the tone of this brief backwards glance in Georgia politics from the eyes of one person who wanted to do something positive.

Nov 15, 2006
Wait, what Liberal America?
Open Letter to the Georgia Green Party (My response to Tony Judt et. al)
Election day 2006 was a reawakening for me, having been a recent transplant from California I was shocked to find that the Green Party did not have ballot access, nor a candidate in the race for Governor here in Georgia. I honestly had not been paying that much attention of late, demoralized from the war and back in Red America sometimes its painful to watch. After the war began my activism died down, I had spent so much energy participating and organizing in anti war activities on my local college campus and in the Sacramento area that I was spent intellectually and disheartened emotionally. Election day 2006 changed that, now I'm angry again. I'm not angry at neoconservative war propagators, I'm not angry at immigrant bashing, stem cell blocking, anti gay marriage fear mongers--history tells us there will always be conservative reactionaries and empire building demigods. I'm angry at Democrats and "Liberals" and other forms of "moderates" who should have known better than to fall in line with the Bush doctrine and the state of war. I'm angry that the Democrats this November elected conservatives and business puppets and try to feign it as a liberal revolution or some kind of mandate. "We're all safe now that Bush and Company are no longer running the show," they say to us; yet history warns of a different story. Their words ring hollow and their cowardice should never be rewarded.  Cowardice, especially when one knows what is right and yet sits in acquiescence in order to stay as comfortable, affluent, and as powerful as possible should never ever be rewarded.  They had the opportunity to be an opposition party, they failed.  Too many have died in Afghanistan and Iraq on ALL SIDES, too much has been spent on war, too much disregard for the safey and security of ourselves and the rest of the world has occured, too much of what it means to be an American has been eradicated in the name of a war on Terrorism--anyone seen their civil rights lately?
Here's the deal. To me third party politics is a pipe dream, the American system was set up to co-opt minor party ideas and ideals that become popular. The America I understand and know is the America James Madison spoke of when he said that the point of the newly forming government was to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority. But that does not make third party politics useless. The state of political debate in the United States is so poor that it is hard for Democrats to make headway when the average person I talk to sees people like Hillary Clinton and thinks socialist, and is fighting mad to protect tax cuts for the top 2% because its "our money". The corporate oligarchy wants it this way, the only option is to vote for candidate A who is a Statist reactionary bought and sold by big business that's going to go out and kill kill kill blow-back be damned or candidate B who is the socially "open minded" big business candidate busy selling out labor, minorities, human rights standards, the environment, and killing with moralitic hypocracy. 
I'm not an idealist, I guess you'd call me a radical realist; though radical seems too romantic of a term to use on a privileged young white male living in the age of American Empire. Participatory democracy is a revolution or two away, but that doesn't mean that every day isn't a day to go out and make my libertarian-socialist ideals a reality at least in a small way.
The day after the election I was sitting in Starbucks (you cringe to read that I'm sure) with my reawoken anger and happened to overhear a small group of what turned out to be local Democratic newbie activists. They were speaking in all the right terms, questioning what it takes to win and make real change, how principles can become reality--its always amazing that I can sit down with most "Liberals" and agree with them in principle on what real change means only to be amazed at the level of delusion they have in justifying leaders who happen to always go "astray" from their so called "principles"; those who choose can plainly see that these enlightened noble leaders are not going astray since following the money, privilege, and power plainly shows that it is the "liberal" principles that are the ideological chimeras not the consistent and historically observable pattern of outcomes that come from our great and glorious "Liberal" leadership.
I cringe every time I hear liberal apologetics for the Democratic party, another piss and moan story of how we need another great leader. As if leadership would make a corporately dominated systemic problem magically go away. As Orwell always noted, "we" never do wrong it is always "them"; it is the enemy that violates human rights, is the enemy that is economicaly protectionist and selfish. Our own aggression, our own selishness, our own failures are never objects of scrutiny. I have to say that the level of delusion and sheer conformity to a system that consistently fails "Liberal" principles is at a near pathological level.
After listening to a long back and forth about national level politics and childish Bush bashing I intruded into their conversation. I told them not to worry that there were people far more educated, well versed and well paid working on strategy to regain and assert power, to which, I assured them, years from now would be an assertion of power we would all surely be disappointed with. My question for the four "Liberals" sitting in front of me was what were they going to do? What were they going to do about the fact that so many local level seats ran open and unopposed? Where were we going to get the money to be competitive electorally? What were they going to do about the public debate in this country? How could we participate, what ripples of change could we make?
Once the conversation was redirected it was amazing to sit back and listen to the passion and ideas; these aren't easy answers after all. But nevertheless it became a radically productive conversation about local level politics. And with that conversation a coalition of liberals was formed to at least challenge the conservative infrastructure that controls local level politics in my county. Because five can become ten, and ten can influence 100; and never question the power of 100--sadly a 100, with a cause and the capital to back it, can delude millions if need be. But that's the purpose of participating, the job of the citizen, the purpose of democracy is to destroy the authoritarian impulse in each one of us; and by influencing others to participate the tendency for the politically active to become Stalinistic commissars is at least balanced and hopefully rebuffed. I happily exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and said I would do whatever it took to help out in reasserting "Liberal" principles at a local level.
But I was not satisfied and before we dispersed for the evening I digressed into my upper middle class white male observations on systemic political patterns and how you have to be the change you demand to see in the world especially in a corporately driven empire. And with that the Fayette county Green Party was formed. For the simple reason that I know that at the end of the day, a coalition with one of the two majoiritarian parties is one thing but with no radical and vocal minority things will never change. Socialized health care, demilitarization, participatory democracy will never be fought for by the Democratic Party. The real changes I want to see are illusions unless there is an army of hard dedicated activists willing to work with the like minded when they can and work alone when they must. I'd happily let wealth and power co-opt some semblance of my libertarian-socialist principles and priorities; cause there would be more work to do the very next day.
The blogoshere has been alive as a result of Tony Judt's essay in the London Review of Books. Everyone chasing after their own enlightened principles, mere intellectual shadows of well-fed, well-read, comfortable Liberals pontificating. I feel the need to throw my two cents in, and asking you to help me start the Green Party of Fayette county is my two cents because at least in Georgia and I'm sure in much of Red America the right has successfully made the Democrats sound radical. Health care, education, civil rights, human rights, responsible national defense is not radical. There is an anti flag song that goes
it's on the radio, it's on the TV news
conservatives and liberals
with ever clashing views but as the days go by
I can't tell which side is talking their left is in the center
and labeled "liberal doctrine"
With a thriving, vocal, and well represented third party with radical priorities the right can no longer ape the Democrats as extremists. I may disagree with war criminal Free-Traders(sic) like Bill Clinton, but it's a step in the left direction. That's why I want to have your permission to begin organizing the Fayette county Green Party. I want to drive the debate at a local level--and by proxy the national level--far to the left of what it is now. When the Democrats are attacked from the right they need people like me who truly are members of the (remember the club for growth attack add on Howard Dean?) "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show" openly and aggressively participating in the political process. Actively participating in politics (and not this letter) is my response to Tony Judt, Todd Gitlin, Bruce Ackerman, and anyone else looking for my own personal take--narcissistic intellectual ramblings on the part of all of us--on being Liberal in the waning Bush era.
Maybe you don't want me, I can tell you I don't fall right in line with the party line on every single issue (although I do agree totally with the 10 key values). Not radical enough and often times too hypocritical for a few, too radical and idealistic for most--compromise, where ideals and reality merge is a fine line we all must walk and I am not one to say I am qualified to point fingers or lead the way to some fictitious revoltuion. I sit on my ass and bitch which is exactly what they want middle class privilege to do--once again its time to call myself on it and do something. With your help I will work to strengthen and build a viable Green Party in this state. With your support maybe we can gain ballot/debate access for the Green Party's next candidate for Governor, with your support maybe Fayette county can gain one or two competitive races or even a radical on the board of education(?!?), and maybe together not only does the debate shift just a little to the left but the political outcomes do as well. 
I look forward to working with you...
Jim Nichols
"I never gave up, I never gave up...
I crawled through the mud, but I never gave up"    --Chumbawamba

No comments:

Post a Comment