Thursday, May 12, 2016

You're the problem with the left

Ever wanted to tell someone that the left (however defined) would be better off without them? That they aren't simply wrong, but actually make the left worse than it would otherwise be? Here's a handy guide.

(This was originally written in blog comments somewhere. George Scialabba wrote that I should turn it into an essay, but I don't really do essays, so it's here as is. Someone else thought it was a list of "wrongthinks", and it wasn't intended to be: each of the kinds of reasons below can sometimes be true, but more often they're just rhetorical ways of amping up one's disapproval of someone.)

I’ve arranged the various types of reasons in something like what I consider to be increasing order of attempted rhetorical force, though this ordering probably tells more about me than anything else.

1. Unintended consequences. “X is a sincere revolutionary, but X can’t see that trying for a revolution is what the state wants and they’d just use it as an excuse to crush us.”

2. Structural / continuing consequences. “X believes that the left-liberal order is a good thing and I agree that left-liberals have made some progress, but X doesn’t see that preserving the liberal order is what keeps us from having real socialism.”

3. Ignorance / non-reflection. “Poor X still can’t see he writes using white male privilege. I wish that he’d take the time to educate himself before he keeps going.”

4. Personal motivation. “Yeah, X has done a lot for social democracy, but who benefits from that? Mostly social democratic bosses like X.” “If only those purists weren’t so eager to get radical cred that makes them feel good about themselves, they’d see that we have to accept the lesser evil because it does real good for people.” (the LGM special)

5. Collective motivation. “X knows what’s going on when they talk about how good the New Deal was. They’re trying to preserve a system that’s sort of on the left but really it’s mostly good for people like X.”

6. Neener neener. “X is too chickenshit to be a real radical.” “Sure, X says they’re a radical, but they’re just looking for an excuse to hurt people.”

7. Bad seed. “I’ve seen ambitious attention seekers like X, and they really want to be one of the enforcers for the ruling class.”

8. Factual. “X is a police provocateur.”

Saturday, May 7, 2016

some notes towards: four most overwritten subjects / inside and outside

some notes towards: four most overwritten subjects / inside and outside

Cats outside run through grass
Leaping, amazed at new freedom
Meow at humans, noses scratched
Appear again days later, thinner
Cats outside get admired by Charles Bukowski

Cats inside look outside
Casting glares at the rustle in the bushes
Growl as they strike down mice
Sit in laps, unlike anything else
Cats inside get ruffled up by Stevie Smith

If you take your cat on a leash
It will be both inside and outside at once
It will run up trees as you walk
Yowl when it can go no higher, leap down
Stuck in an uncomfortable third dimension

Cats are human, pretty much
House cats, we made them
Even outside wandering through our tunnels

Clouds outside make days different
From other days, in the quality of light
Or they make Rorschach shapes
Clouds outside love the pathetic fallacy
And wander around lonely

Clouds inside seep in as fog
And can't be seen, only felt on skin
You can only see them with distance
Invisible they mean sad or confused
Clouds come inside on little cat feet

Clouds high up can be inside and outside
Like a foggy hut on a mountaintop
Or when you fly in a plane through one
Though maybe only if it crashes
If the plane breaks in half, the cloud comes inside

Clouds might as well be human
We think they are so persistently
Only rarely does their real scale hit the sublime

Poetry outside happens in ovals and circles
Wind rustling pages, eyes glancing up
To check clouds for rain
There is always something blustery about it
Poetry outside is Robert Frost and freestyle

Poetry inside is where it's supposed to live
In books, or in hearts if you want to be poetic
In minds, clouded by words
In the thoughts of someone in a crashing plane
Of a childhood book with practical cats

The easiest way to resolve is go backwards
Before there were words or understanding
Before cats evolved, before there were clouds
Before the Earth formed an atmosphere
Before an inside or an outside, there was poetry

Poetry is inhuman
Everywhere the Earth from the beginning
No voices are needed