Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fancy a Three Way? Or Prefer to Fuck Yourself?

Anarchy A to Z:
a guide to understanding our history unfolding for the anesthetized and apathetic

H is for Haves and Have Nots

   I went to D.C. for my anniversary (I’m married, and I don’t think I revealed that yet either) to attend Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. Aside from the gasp of disappointment when Stewart introduced his mystery guest, Kid Rock, the signs stole the show. Simona (that’s her name, and I’m not allowed to call her “my wife”) and I had a number of signs. The one relevant to today’s topic read: “Hey Sarah and Christine, wanna three-way?” Now I thought this was pretty clever. A lot of people got a kick out of it, even ones with impressionable tweens. There it was, a couple attractive ladies setting their sights on positions of power.

   A woman stopped me, toward the end of the event, and asked to take a picture of me with the sign as part of some photography project. I forget exactly what she said, but I remember thinking it was benign. A year later, almost, I was reading some essays on progressive politics and a strange revelation crossed me. My eyes stung and watered, but I suppose that could have been the knife of grey smoke protruding from the tip of my Camel Light.

   What my sign actually said, in that strange moment of clarity, was that I am a chauvinist. I was disrespecting, by making light of their gender, women aspiring to power. I was carrying on a long tradition of exploitation. I thought back to that day and I remember that the woman with the camera was on a bicycle… and she didn’t shave her underarms. At that moment, I felt as naked as the Chewbacca hiding under her bony, and presumably vegan, arm. Does speaking truth to power about the subjugation of women and the deep patriarchy in our system mean that a woman must lie to and exploit a man to make amends, to get even?

   Don’t get me wrong. I’ve come to terms with the systemic patriarchy, a rift of color in the mosaic of injustice. But I am a spiritual man, so I recognized my role, I relinquished my inability to truly understand the depth of our social psychology to the mystery of the universe, and I moved forward with a different perspective. Jay! Tomlinson—the mind behind Best of the Left—had a lengthy discussion on positions of privilege and power. I’m a straight, white, American male. I am a Have. And this should somehow make me guilty by association, even if I work toward enlightenment and am willing to lead a column into battle for justice.

   The language of Occupy buries this dichotomy deeper into the social consciousness. Given the dismal economic report cards showered on the public in that odd, bureaucratic say-something-but-don’t-say-anything way, I can’t help but think this is at least partially useful. Contrary, should we not be aspiring for the spiritual whole of ecology, and not besetting ourselves to the fear of unfairness? Shouldn’t we be looking for paths not yet explored, using our struggle as a vehicle to access the mystery that surrounds us? I think we should. And I think it is the failure of every revolutionary struggle to limit its paradigm to the clichés of Marxist historicism.

   Some have said, but too few, that the 99% versus the 1% isn’t actually correct, because it really is the 100% against the nonhuman and nonliving. It is the 100% tearing the blank pages from the back of our human history book and burning them with noble vanity. The 99%, as a meme and as the widely accessible part of the message, doesn’t want to deconstruct the system. It wants to reallocate resources. Without establishing the basis of an ecological economy, all of our rhetoric will turn to a desert, just as the Midwest will under the relentless feedback of infrared radiation and greenhouse gases.    

   To the feminist that exploited me, I must ask—with Wendell Berry as witness: do you despise me for my powered privilege, seeking to have a seat at table of myself and my ilk? Or do you pity me because you respond to the fear impulse that suggests you will never gain my respect as a woman? I’ll tell you. If you take insult, as a woman, for me making baseless sexual advances on two of the most obscenely anti-sexual women to grace the political stage, then I pity you. Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell would not be in any class with me if I were a woman. Gender issues may be your passion, but your ability to bear children makes me a Have Not. I will not respect you because you demand power, just as I will not respect Allen West because he’s black—he’s still a tea-bagger douche selling his constituents for a mere moments caress of the Ring of Mordor. I will, however, respect you because you are an individual and because you hold a unique but equal role in social relations. Just as I respect my wife’s (ha!) wishes to bear a name and an identity, I will, yours, to forgo purchasing razor blades and eggs. I will not be exploited and wear that shame as consequence of my being born fair-skinned, with a dick that likes to fuck the opposite sex.

   We are both citizens of empire, and framing our struggle as one of Haves and Have Nots does not redress the fact the pilot-less abstractions we call capitalism and the state will continue along if we remain divided. We need to persuade those that profit on exploitation of the working-class, women, minorities and the environment to adopt our frame of mind. We need to open the door to the mystery and remove their fears of failure and destitution. We can all Have if we do it smartly. That is, if we recognize that the Original Affluent Society (thanks Marshall Sahlins!) had its needs met without the empty fear of scarcity.

   We need to become the New Affluent Society, but we need to get in bed together if we’re going to make it work. And if we’re going to do it together, we need to understand where the “individual” fits into the equation. If we can’t take a fictional sexual advance lightly, if we choose to establish lines between groups or classes of individuals, between Haves and Have Nots, we will most certainly find ourselves alone in our social revolution. And when we’re alone, we only fuck ourselves.  

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