People who thought they had clarity this time last year are confused again this year.
Itâ€™s not peoplesâ€™ fault they are confused about politics, when politics is the expression of class, gender, and imperial power. The entire apparatus of civil society bends toward the singular purpose of rendering these sources of social power either invisible or natural.
In either case, invisibility or naturalization puts these sources of power beyond our intervention.
Either there is no such thing as class power, or gendered power, or imperial power (because it is invisible), or those forms of power exist, but they are the result of the immutable laws of nature.
In extremis, those who hold that power will even accuse the subjugated of abusing them.
Back in my special operations life, we had the standard response tactic for embarrassing revelations: Admit nothing. Deny Everything. Make counter-accusations.
So it is entirely possible that nothing I am about to propose will make sense to enough people to make a difference. I donâ€™t pretend that I, or anyone else proposing a politics of real resistance, is yet standing before an audience sufficiently traumatized by the depredations of this system to embrace the spirit of actual resistance.
People didnâ€™t know any better in 2004, and there is no reason â€“ aside from the fact that things have gotten considerably worse â€“ that people know any better now. After all, churches, and schools, and advertisers, and the press, and the think-tanks, and the NGOsâ€¦ they have been plucking away at our heads since birth in one manner or another, and nowadays with the most sophisticated brainwashing technologies in history.
Nonetheless, I am going to run this up the proverbial flagpole, and see if anyone salutes.
Here is my grimmest prediction for the coming year.
The Bush administration will continue to occupy Iraq, and perhaps even attempt to switch sides â€“ trying to team up with Sunni factions to cut the throats of their former allies, whose pro-Iranian politics has put the neocons into a terrible bind. In any case, they havenâ€™t the slightest intention of giving up their Iraq bases, which were the purpose of this war from the outset.
Democrats will â€“ with precious few exceptions â€“ equivocate and evade on Iraq and try to wrangle other Bush administration embarrassments into a 2006 election sweep.
But the Republicans have figured the Democrats out, and the Republicans have made up their minds to fight or a one-party state, and they will take everything the Democrats do and say and beat the living shit out of them with it â€“ as the Democrats deserve. Chalk one for the Republicans for at least being decisive.
Kerry couldnâ€™t attack Bush on the most important issue in the country, the war, because he supported the war. Now most of these mealy-mouthed dickheads are stuck with the REPUBLICAN INCOMPETENCE argument. Republicans are not fighting the war well enoughâ€¦ but these same dickheaded Dems are shitting screw worms right now because after they cheer-led the Arab-bashing, kill kill kill war hysteria at its apogee, they are left floundering in the Iraq war perigee three years later.
Letâ€™s donâ€™t talk about that bad war, they are thinking. Letâ€™s make a lot of noise about Abramoff and Scooter Libby.
Democrats are also now silent in the face of Katrinaâ€™s aftermath â€“ gosh, everything must be okay now â€“ because they are as deeply in the pockets of the gentrifying developers as any white-nationalist Republican. The Democrats support free-trade agreements, the criminal injustice system, weapons contractorsâ€¦ you name it, they like it. Who do people think finance their political campaigns?
Oh, they will rail to the heavens about REPUBLICAN INCOMPETENCE around Katrina, then theyâ€™ll support the rich white fucks who roll in to gentrify New Orleans into a Disneyfied Negro Theme Park that actual Black folk can no longer afford to live in.
At any rate, my grim prediction continuesâ€¦
Anti-war â€œprogressivesâ€ will continue to identify this war with Bush and his cronies, and selectively ignore the fact of overwhelming Democratic complicity and cowardice on the war.
They will excoriate those of us who attack Democrats, and as the 2006 election draws nigh, they will excoriate us more and more. â€œBloody splittersâ€¦â€ like a Monty Python skit.
These same feint-hearted clingers will mobilize among an increasingly apathetic and disheartened population that intuits the fixed-game. They will go to the polls in November and vote lesser-evil Democrat. And they will lose.
The Republicans will use every dirty trick in the book, use the redistricting that is already a fait accompli, as well as out-organize the Democrats, and at the end of 2006, we will be closer to a one-party stateâ€¦ the war will continueâ€¦ people will continue to dieâ€¦ and these progressives will go back home, nurse their sanctimony, and sputter helplessly while they go back to being good, obedient imperial citizens.
Itâ€™s funny to me that these palpitating progressives will scoff at the stupidity of the 40% of the population that still believes Saddam had something to do with 9-11, when the evidence that Democrats (1) supported and still support the war, (2) refuse to deal with the war, (3) are spineless cowards in the face of Republican criminality, and (4) will get their asses handed to them again in 2006, is just as overwhelming.
There is a way to avoid this, of course, but it is a bold way, and perhaps a way for which we as a society are not yet prepared. Maybe the pain is not great enough yet.
Nonetheless, Iâ€™m going to hook it to that lanyard and run it up the pole, upside down perhaps, not merely a flag, but the universal distress signal. Because my prediction, should it come to pass, will make what is inevitably going to get worseâ€¦ much worse.
Now here is the big caveat. What I am about to propose is crossing some lines that we canâ€™t step back across. Itâ€™s a two-step solution.
Step One: Bury the corpse of the Democratic Party.
Step Two: Make a corpse of the Republican Party.
This requires some chutzpah, and many wonâ€™t be up for it. It means undermining the Democrats in 2006 over the question of the war.
There are two parties, and they are both parties of the rich. The rest of us at this point have ZERO political independence from the parties of the rich. Anyone who thinks they can reform the Democratic Party from the inside, call me. I have a time-share to sell you in Pyongyang. Itâ€™s been tried forever, and it has NEVER worked. That could be because it canâ€™t work. A party of the rich is by definitionâ€¦ of the rich. The rich are rich because other people are poor. The rich stay rich by making other people poor. Then they hire us to â€œclean their rooms, drive their cabs, and suck their cocks,â€ as it was put in “Pretty Dirty Things.”
But there is a trick to this. Many people say if we let the Republicans have it all, they are very dangerous. And whether or not this cramps up facile leftists, it is also very, very true. Republicans are very dangerous. Republicans are white supremacists. They are misogynists, more so than most Democrats even. There are quite a few of them that would resurrect Mussolini given half a chance and put his ass in the White House.
So we have to commit to step two in order to have step one make any sense.
Thatâ€™s why I say we are crossing the line.
Step two is to massively and openly delegitimate, disobey, and disrupt the Republicans. Iâ€™m not talking metaphorically here. It means rebellion. It means taking on the exciting but very scary task of creating and sustaining a political crisis, like the Bolivians just did, that threatens to cause a government to fall.
This is where the Greens and the Labor Party and the New Party and all these other non-starters went awry. They put the cart before the horse.
They tried to create an alternative before there was an open space for it. They wanted to talk people into coming to their itty-bitty house when everyone was already inside two great big houses. What has to be done is tear the two big houses down, and start building something else out of the leftover material.
Quit being so goddamned afraid of a couple of nights outside.
Like I said, I donâ€™t know if enough people are up for this now.
They will be eventually, because what we are watching right now is the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. But some people love denial above all other things, because we are so afraid. Living stupid, alienated, well-fed, and entertained for a couple of generations will make you afraid.
Anyone my age or older remembers when we had a culture of resistance, no matter how unfocused. We flipped off authority, and we tried new shit, and we questioned everything. Our kids now are â€“ with some very hopeful exceptions â€“ such hopeless conformists that it makes me sad for them. There was a period when people reveled in the idea of tearing the masterâ€™s house down, even if we lived in it.
So pretty soon now, some of us old non-conformists, along with some new ones, are going to try one little thing.
We think it is immoralâ€¦ deeply creepily disgustingly immoral, for politicians to dither around while people are being slaughtered in the war, or talking about incompetence in the Gulf States while they secretly support the gentrifying, land-grabbing pieces of rich shit who are perched around New Orleans like turkey vultures.
So we are going to do something.
Not much, and we donâ€™t know if it will empower others to go the next step, that is, tell the same politicians who are allergic to any issue except their careers that they can go straight to hell, and weâ€™ll fight the proto-fascists in the street.
We outnumber them and their cops about 10,000 to one.
Ainâ€™t math marvelous?
Democrats, donâ€™t you tell us wait. Because your house is not being bulldozed in New Orleans, and you have not been sent to war, and you are not waiting to see if an â€œexit strategyâ€ turns up before your loved one is shipped through Dover in a flag-draped box.
Any Democrat who says we have to wait to leave Iraq untilâ€¦ whatever. Fuck you!
Did you get that? Fuck you! You put your sorry, pus-gutted ass on an airplane to Baghdad and take my sonâ€™s or someone elseâ€™s place while you figure out your “exit strategies.” And don’t tell me you are fighting Republicans for me. You haven’t done jack shit! I donâ€™t need you to fight Republicans. I can withhold my taxes, or block the streets, or spit on them in their offices. I can slap the dog shit out of one Republican elected official and accomplish more against them than you have in your whole sorry fucking career.
Thatâ€™s what some of us think. We ain’t waitin’ for Godot, and we ain’t waitin’ for you.
So we are going to try it, this one little thing, and see what happens.
And we are not inviting the whole world to come.
In fact, we are telling a lot of folks to stay home and do something locally.
This is our thing.
Remember the Fats Domino song, â€œWalkinâ€™ to New Orleansâ€?
It’s time I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m going to need two pair of shoes
When I get through walkin’ to you
When I get back to New Orleans
I’ve got my suitcase in my hand
Now, ain’t that a shame
I’m leavin’ here today
Yes, I’m goin’ back home to stay
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
You used to be my honey
Till you spent all my money
No use for you to cry
I’ll see you bye and bye
Cause I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’ve got no time for talkin’
I’ve got to keep on walkin’
New Orleans is my home
That’s the reason why I’m goin’
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
Well, members of Veteransâ€™ for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Military Families Speak Out, at the call of the Mobile, Alabama Veterans for Peace Chapter, will conduct a 135-mile march between Mobile AL and New Orleans LA from March 14 to March 19, 2005.
The call will go out on MLK day, and paraphrase Dr. Kingâ€™s observation that â€œevery bomb dropped over Vietnam explodes in Harlem.â€
â€œEvery bomb dropped over Iraq explodes from Mobile to New Orleans.â€
We are going to do exactly what a lot of politicians donâ€™t want us to do: highlight the connections between the illegal and racist war of the United States government against Iraq and the criminal neglect and militarized racist occupation mentality of the same government in the preparation for and response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
We talked about the goals of the march, and of course you have to have those. In activist-speak, everyone has become corproate, so we have to have a “goals statement.” We talked about â€“ using the lexicon of the day â€“ building political solidarity in the form of personal relationships between antiwar veterans and military families, and the surviving members of communities affected by the Katrina-Rita disaster.
We talked about demonstrating through our actions the solidarity of this critical working class, multi-national section of the antiwar movement (veterans and military families) with the survivors of Katrina-Rita not simply as the acute victims of a â€œnaturalâ€ disaster, but as predominantly African Americans who continue to suffer structural injustice in the United States.
We talked about spotlighting the similarities between the emphasis on population control instead of reconstruction in both the Gulf States and Iraq, and the white supremacist assumptions built into much public discourse about both. From Angola Penitentiary to Abu Ghraib, as it were.
We talked about spotlighting the cynical and anti-working-class social spending priorities that ignore the input and needs of survivors of the Katrina-Rita disaster in the development of plans for its aftermath, and the use of poor and working class youth to prosecute the wars of the rich abroad.
We talked about conducting a strategic national-regional action that does not immerse the voices of these two stakeholder constituencies (veterans/military families and mostly African American hurricane survivors) in the cacophony of larger national actions. The connections drawn by veterans and survivors â€“ all veterans in a real sense â€“ must be associated with these â€œveteransâ€ and not with any national grouping within which they are only a fraction.
We talked about involving larger numbers of African Americans in the effort to halt the war in Iraq by connecting that struggle with the urgent concerns of African America and exercising reciprocity from this key section of the antiwar movement with African American communities in this region where the socially structured oppression and inequality was a crisis for African Americans before the hurricanes â€“ and only brought marginally into public view by the dramatic scenes from the hurricanes.
They bulldoze homes n Palestine. Now they do it in New Orleans.
We talked about the importance and difficulty of teaching more white people in the anti-war movement the connections between the system that colonizes African America, that colonizes Palestine, and that attempts to colonize Iraq.
We talked about demands, like self-determination for Gulf Coast hurricane survivors and for Iraqis; like immediate, unilateral, and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq; like proper care and full benefits for all veterans returning from the war, including Depleted Uranium testing and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment; like proper environmental clean-up of New Orleans and other affected areas without the mass displacement of residents; we talked about much much more.
But its what we are seeing in our mindâ€™s eye that matters even more.
And we don’t see just “goals.” Soldiers have missions. I guess that makes us missionaries.
Walking down the highway shoulder are dozens of young veterans of the Iraq war, fatigue blouses fluttering, carrying their packs, walking most of the 25-miles per day, retracing the steps of many civil rights veterans through what some call the Black homeland from Mobile to New Orleans. They are accompanied by Vietnam Veterans, some walking, some of us aging beyond our long walk years, and along with other Veterans for Peace, rotating on and off of the accompanying VFP Impeachment buses. Prominent among them are the members of the Mobile, Alabama Chapter of VFP, who called for the action.
We envision a feat of armsâ€¦ a marathon march of 135 miles, treading the breadth of the devastation, throwing their bodies â€“ once put on the lineâ€¦ muscles, lungs, and feetâ€¦ for imperial wars â€“ into the road and the weather as a physical demonstration of solidarity with hurricane survivors and African Americans generally.
There will be no dilution of the veterans â€“ veterans of the wars abroad (and the families ARE veterans) alongside Gulf Coast veterans of the war at home. No one will be able to say this is a march of â€œwhite northern liberals.â€ This march will have a distinct and authentic working class character; but it will not be a place where a dozen grouplets claiming to be that classâ€™ vanguard compete to hawk their newspapers.
(If you want to do that, go to the rally in New Orleans on the 19th. If we see you on the road with us, we will get mad at you. I will. I get surly when I’m really tired.)
This is a veterans’ thing. Veterans of the wars at home and abroad.
Our identities as veterans â€“ of war and disaster â€“ will not be submerged in a mass of 300,000 people and bombarded by competing agendas.
At night, we stay in the homes of people who are parts of these communities, or we establish camps, reminiscent of the Bonus March camps, but mobile camps that pick up and move at dawn like a Justice Army driving into the heart of the Great Injustice.
By day, we tread down the road in an epic march, and at the end of each day, we rally, conduct press conferences, and build our new and powerful network with each other.
On the final day at mid-day, we arrive at a giant rally in New Orleans, where those voices that were silenced from the affected communities join those voices from military veterans and families to say that there is a twin injustice in the denial of self-determination to Iraqis and African Americans, and that this war and this disaster were only symptoms of the need for a larger struggle to remove the old power, root and branch, and replace them with popular power.
This is not a be-nice event. It is a be-real event.
There is a social explosion waiting to happen in the Big Easy. This march against war and injustice intends to light the fuse!
The fuse burns down Federal Highway 90, out of Mobile to Pascagoula to Ocean Springs to Biloxi to Gulfport to Pass Christian to Slidell to New Orleans.
The fuse burns through the recent Gallup poll showed that the majority of Americans now trust neither the president nor Congress, and this distrust goes across party lines.
The fuse burns through the generalizing sense of disillusion with conventional political practices, lobbying and voting, and places the politics of the war outside the obedient and contained electoral-legislative process.
The fuse burns through the neglect and abuse of the people whose lives were shattered by this storm and the government response is an ongoing, daily reality, especially in New Orleans; and so is the mounting collective anger and the sense that they themselves are the collateral damage of a colonial government, much like the people of Iraq.
The fuse burns through the long-standing mutual dependence between the Democratic Party and a whole layer of opportunistic Black politicians and relatively privileged professionals who perform a management function for the Democratic Party over the Black population as a whole.
(See the article at Black Commentator)
The fuse burns with the audacious heat of the great organizer Ella Baker, who called together radicalized students at Shaw University in Raleigh for a meeting that would found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which then went on to galvanize the Black masses of the South, and eventually the nation, with their audacious, out-of-the-box strategies during the world-historic struggle to dismantle legal Apartheid in the South â€“ a region that remains, for numerous reasons, strategically pivotal for any social change movement.
Thatâ€™s why the fuse starts in Mobile and ends in New Orleans.
This is more than a statement of strategic goals. This is a mission. This is a spiritual passage.
In March, the most fortunate among us will participate in the continuation of this same history by marching 135 miles in five days through the Gulf Coast of the United States â€“ an area still so ravaged that residents refer to portions of it as Baghdad. We are going to comfort the afflicted, and we are going to afflict the comfortable, and we are going to show why there is a seamless connection between the slaughter in Iraq and the neglect and pillage of poor and Black people in the wake of a human, not natural, disaster.
We are going to demonstrate solidarity with a commitment of sinew and bone, with a trail of sweat, with a spiritual passage through the scene of an ongoing crime. We will walk through this domestic Baghdad, in defense of the people, truly in defense of the people this time, and with our actions we will expose the pretensions of superiority of the rich and powerful, and we will do it this time shorn of helmets and armor and shorn of weapons, naked of any defense.
When Operation Barbarosa was launched by Hitlerâ€™s armed forces against the Soviet Union, they were under orders to effect the annihilation of the Slavs. Ukrainians and Russians bore the brunt of this policy, as German units nailed peasants to their barns, shot them for sport, or burned them en masse alive in their homes.
24-year-old Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko was studying history at the Kiev University. She was a competitive sharpshooter in college, and she rushed to the recruiter after the initial attacks, requesting to join the infantry and carry a rifle. He wanted her to become nurse.
Lyuda refused to be contribute less than she had to offer in defense of her people. She signed up with the 25th Infantry Division. She became one of the 2,000 Soviet women snipers of which only about 500 survived the war. Equipped with a five-shot bolt-action rifle and a 4-power scope, she killed two German soldiers near Belyayevka, before she was sent to Odessa to confront an overwhelming German force.
In two-and-a-half months, Private Pavlichenko killed 187 Germans. During the Soviet withdrawal in the face of the German onslaught, she was wounded by mortar fire, while fighting at Sevastopol. In all, she would send 309 Aryans to Valhalla.
She would eventually be a school-teacher, but when she had to defend the people, 27 million of whom would be slaughtered by the enemy, she was there.
Jean Jacques Dessalines was born in 1758 a slave in St Domingue, now known as Haiti. He was the next General to Toussaint Lâ€™Ouverture â€“ the first general of the slave rebels that would eventually win Haitiâ€™s independence. Dessalines was unable to read or write and his body was scarred with strokes from the whip of his master. He ran away at about the age of 33 and joined the fight that started the French revolution.
He was known as the tiger and was said to be a born soldier. Many thought he excelled Toussaint Lâ€™Ouverture as a military genius. Yet Dessalines only learned to sign his name very late in his life. His fearlessness struck fear in the hearts of his enemies.
After Toussaint was captured, Dessalines went on to win the independence of the first Black nation by defeating the armed forces of the most revered general in the world â€“ Napoleon Bonaparte. He had never internalized the sense that he was in any way inferior, and by his actions he not only won Haitiâ€™s independence, he shattered the myth of white supremacy.
The Mungadai were an elite unit in the army of Genghis Khan. In addition to other unique characteristics, their mission was to attack the enemy well in advance of the Mongol army.
Legend has it that the Mungadai, though light in numbers and well forward of their main units, did not wear the armor helmets of the main Mongol armies. They shared with their fellow Mongol warriors an attitude of contempt for pain and death, but their reason for not wearing helmets was that it put them closer to God. God, you see, was all around them.
We are facing the most powerful enemy in history; the richest, the most narcissistic, the most lethal in terms of their sheer firepowerâ€¦ in possession of the most sophisticated propaganda apparatus ever known. And we will face resistance like Lyuda, we will face the internalized inferiority of our fellows like Dessalines, and we will go in smaller numbers and more naked in the face of our enemy than the Mungudai.
Thatâ€™s because we are defending the people, when many donâ€™t think they can defend themselves; because we know that our fear is the greatest weapon wielded by the powerful; and because we know this about the God that is all around us, the sum of all things, and thatâ€™s a lot:
I sought myself, and could not find myself.
I sought God, and could not find God.
I sought my fellow human being, and I found all three.
A revolutionary historian wrote once of soldiers â€“ and we are all soldiers:
“Soldiers have a specific way of relating to the truth: it matters to them. It is a matter of life and death to them.
“So they judge people by a different standard of truth. And they judge politics differently. They are the first to know what kind of power comes from the barrel of a gun.
“That is why soldiers make good revolutionaries, and that is why revolutions always acquire their most turbulent force and active expression among the men and women of the armed forces, the workers in uniform.
“Soldiers are political scientists. No-one is more interested than they are, in what they are asked to die for. For this reason, no-one is closer to the heart of the people than soldiers are. When the people are rotten, soldiers cannot fight. When the people rise up, it is the soldiers who are always first to the front ranks.”
This march is our opportunity to draw nearer to the heart of the people, and why we must give this revolution its most turbulent force and active expressionâ€¦ why we must be first at the front ranks.
Love and rage.
Politics and poetry.
New Orleans is the bomb.
On to Mobile!
Light the fuse!