Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Part Where We Go Through It All


Here's Carrico:
You keep pretending I am indifferent to horrific crimes and atrocities, you keep insisting I am avoiding your "questions" about them -- all of which involve the pretense that they can be compared and quantified with one another in reductive ways I think are misleading and also immoral.

Forgive a moment of defensiveness, but I am a teacher a writer and an activist. I teach my students political, critical, and cultural theory, I have been teaching the history and practice of environmentalism, social justice, feminist/queer liberation, and nonviolent revolution for twenty years at Berkeley and SFAI, I write about, judge, and propose solutions to the sorts of crimes and atrocities you mention in these glib accusatory articles all the time in writing that is available to everyone online, as an activist with Queer Nation in the 90s and now with adjunct labor organizing I have tried to make a difference in ways that involve real personal risks and costs.

Our exchanges began when you took issue with my recommendation that voting is part of the struggle toward equity-in-diversity, that it is obviously insufficient but nonetheless a part of the work that most people can do and everybody should. Later, I pointed out that voting is usually a matter of choosing a less but still bad over a worse bad candidate if you are a person to the left of mainstream politics (which I am as a green democratic socialist-feminist) and that this quality of compromise is in fact paradigmatic for the work of the political more generally, in which we reconcile the histories and hopes of ineradicably diverse sharers of a worldly time and place in an interminable way. These struggles can be informed by other norms -- moral, ethical, legal, professional, esthetic -- but they are not reducible to them.

You seem to think not voting is a doing-nothing that amounts to doing something progressive and you seem to imply that not voting makes you less complicit in the heartbreaking distress of worldly injustice. I think both of those ideas are foolish and wrong and enormously unhelpful to the accomplishment of outcomes you seem to care about like I do.

Obviously, you are free to disagree -- I have offered up quite a few reasons for my views (especially considering that you want to leave the impression that I have ignored you or evaded you or that my "silence" demands you construct imaginary responses you then attribute to me) -- and you are also free to imply I am a complacent privileged silly old hypocrite or even an enemy of social justice. I don't think many people of sense or decency who actually get to know me, what I say, what I do and have done will agree with you for long.

PS: I work on the politics of technoscientific change and am I democratic socialist, so yes you can be sure I will return soon enough to lampooning the plutocratic antics of corporate-military venture capitalists and neoliberal futurologists and guru-wannabe techno-transcendentalist Robot Cultists soon enough. End-of-term teaching and adjunct labor organizing have made things a bit hectic for surfing and reflecting on the latest techno-nonsense.

A dialogue is a wonderful thing, in that it doesn't need to fit together exactly, like precision puzzle pieces, in order to facilitate the exchange of information. It's a boon to communication when one can understand another's message, and respond to it without nitpicking over every little detail. Yet therein lies an opportunity for obfuscation: the ability to make an appearance of "responding in spirit" without actually addressing necessaries. The sample dialogues above gave good examples of that--of how responding with useful, but irrelevant information, can be used to make it appear that a conversation is occurring, when instead all that is occurring is a lecture succeeding an interrogative.

Retaining our commitment to being very specific and thorough in our response, we'll demonstrate the methodology of a very direct response to Carrico by pulling anchor statements out of his essay above, and responding directly thereto. This one will number the information gleaned thereby to highlight any noted distinctions.
You keep pretending I am indifferent to horrific crimes and atrocities, you keep insisting I am avoiding your "questions" about them -- all of which involve the pretense that they can be compared and quantified with one another in reductive ways I think are misleading and also immoral.
This one formally affirms that Carrico is not wholly indifferent to horrific crimes and atrocities. However, this one notes that Carrico is indifferent enough to horrific crimes and atrocities as long as he feels he is getting something in exchange for them.

Dale Carrico will formally support leaders/policy platforms which include the following:

(1) Imperial warfare;

(2) The mass incarceration state;

(3) LGBTQ rights (or equivalent social nicety).

For High Arka, though, either (1) or (2) is a deal breaker. I wouldn't trade one pony, or even a hundred rainbow ponies, for Hillary's license to murder even one Arab child more.

There's an element of racism and ethnosupremacy inherent in Carrico's acceptance, too. Take, as an example, Matthew Shepard. If Hillary said, "As president, I will amend the constitution in support of gay marriage, and I will obliterate Iran or Lebanon again if Israel gives the green light," Carrico would still vote for her. Even though there are a lot of gay people, and/or a lot of Caucasians, in those places.

Yet, if Hillary said, "As president, I will amend the constitution in support of gay marriage, and I will not obliterate Iran or Lebanon, but I will condone the brutal murder-by-sexually-repressed-redneck of another dozen young men like Matthew Shepard," Carrico would get a foul taste in his mouth and refuse to vote for Hillary, even though the dozen American queers left to die on fences by the make-believe Hillary would be far, far smaller than the destruction real-world Hillary will actually wreak upon thousands of non-American queers.

Why that difference? What makes people with the quality "American citizenship" possess inherently more value than others?

(Or, conversely, if I got Carrico wrong: would he support a candidate who supported the murder of Matthew Shepard, if that candidate was running against a candidate who supported the murder of two gay men, instead?)

Is the question horrific and immoral? Absolutely! No one should consider seriously supporting either of those candidates. So, the follow-up to Carrico: why, by your own terms, are you willing to support such horrific, immoral things?
Forgive a moment of defensiveness, but I am a teacher a writer and an activist. I teach my students political, critical, and cultural theory, I have been teaching the history and practice of environmentalism, social justice, feminist/queer liberation, and nonviolent revolution for twenty years at Berkeley and SFAI, I write about, judge, and propose solutions to the sorts of crimes and atrocities you mention in these glib accusatory articles all the time in writing that is available to everyone online, as an activist with Queer Nation in the 90s and now with adjunct labor organizing I have tried to make a difference in ways that involve real personal risks and costs.
Great! Now, please stop supporting mass murderers. You might even find that, if people like you stopped reluctantly supporting mass murderers, all of the other things you agitate for would fall into place. American history since the signing of the Declaration of Independence has shown that genocide and colonialism go hand in hand with social injustice. (Surprise, surprise.)
Our exchanges began when you took issue with my recommendation that voting is part of the struggle toward equity-in-diversity, that it is obviously insufficient but nonetheless a part of the work that most people can do and everybody should.
Voting absolutely is part of that struggle. As long as you go on record as being a citizen who freely and of his own volition chooses to approve the presidency of an imperial warmonger, the Eurocentric colonial murder project begun in 1492* will never end. (*Just to pick a popular number. Some might say it's gone on far longer than that.)
Later, I pointed out that voting is usually a matter of choosing a less but still bad over a worse bad candidate if you are a person to the left of mainstream politics (which I am as a green democratic socialist-feminist) and that this quality of compromise is in fact paradigmatic for the work of the political more generally, in which we reconcile the histories and hopes of ineradicably diverse sharers of a worldly time and place in an interminable way. These struggles can be informed by other norms -- moral, ethical, legal, professional, esthetic -- but they are not reducible to them.
Sounds terrible. I wonder why they think they only need to present such terrible options.

Let's take an aside from here to highlight the moral choice of the sadistic murderer who puts a gun to the heads of two of your loved ones and demands that you "choose" who will live and who will die. Is there a moral choice? The only moral choice is not to choose. Like negotiating with movie-terrorists, the surrender of your will and conscience to someone that evil only guarantees the making of more choices like that one in the future.

Choosing to let Hillary kill "only" 1.3 million Arabs, as opposed to choosing to let Jeb kill 1.4 (based on your own impossible guesses of how many he "would" kill), makes you party to the murders. That's a finer philosophical distinction, though. More easy to discern is that, by making the choice, you enable people like Hillary to continue to force that choice on others.

The resigned, lesser-evil voter is why the American Party hasn't had to offer non-imperialist alternatives in over a hundred years. Mark Twain grappled with these same issues a long, long time ago, and now in 2015, Dale Carrico is still willing to get stars in his eyes and think, "Progressia will eventually come through for me, even though she's been murdering queers worldwide for a century straight."

You say "mainstream" politics. What could be more "mainstream" than voting for another Imperial Clinton to hold the American presidency? Ahh, but Progressia is truly great! She can make up down, and down up--she can make right wrong, and wrong right.
You seem to think not voting is a doing-nothing that amounts to doing something progressive and you seem to imply that not voting makes you less complicit in the heartbreaking distress of worldly injustice. I think both of those ideas are foolish and wrong and enormously unhelpful to the accomplishment of outcomes you seem to care about like I do.
Say Walmart holds a sale, and Cheetos are $4.99 while Equate cheese puffs are $3.99. I choose not to go to Walmart. You go to Walmart, buy the Equate, and feel that you've saved a dollar. I feel that I've saved $3.99. Which one of us is correct?

Voting expressly does make you complicit, by the way. A vote is a powerful ritual, by which you add your name to the list of people conveying a message to history:

1) I participated in the operation of the American government as founded in 1776 and enduring in 2015.

2) I advocate for _____________ to be the most powerful person in the world, in command of a nuclear arsenal sufficient to destroy humanity.

The person you vote for--their record, and the things that you can reasonably be expected to conclude they will likely do--says a lot about you. Whatever Hillary goes out there and does--all of the children she murders, and all of the zones she sends warlords into--will be done with your formal support, if you vote for her.

Your name will be tallied up in the registers of American democracy, proving that the actions Hillary takes were done "democratically," by a free and informed populace. If America is ever stopped, you will be considered a member of the American Party, no different than a German who reluctantly joined the Nazi Party or a Brit who reluctantly fought in the Second Boer War. You will be formally and for all time listed as having supported the actions Hillary took as president, by your authorization as voting citizen.
PS: I work on the politics of technoscientific change and am I democratic socialist, so yes you can be sure I will return soon enough to lampooning the plutocratic antics of corporate-military venture capitalists and neoliberal futurologists and guru-wannabe techno-transcendentalist Robot Cultists soon enough. End-of-term teaching and adjunct labor organizing have made things a bit hectic for surfing and reflecting on the latest techno-nonsense.
Confronted by the graveyards that President Clinton, II will fill with innocents, this seems almost irrelevant...but Hillary is an ecstatic futurologist, taking money from (and giving a vastly multiplied share of tax dollars back to) the very same corporations and individuals who are using techno-crap as bead and circuses to distract people from the blighted world. She is everything you say you stand against, right down to her patronizing support of lgbtq issues...and yet, you are going to choose her to be your leader.

The Goddess does indeed work in mysterious ways.

1 comment:

  1. Dale Carrico is that perfect mixture of ignorance and self-impression. He might be the ideal template for the Modern American: all stylish rhetoric (complete with triggering buzzwords to garner emotional support of his supposed shared wisdom), no actual meaning behind the image. A regular Wizard of Oz. Pay no attention to the Dale behind the curtain! Hear his message, feel it pull on your infarction-prone coeur, mon ami. Stylish, hip, and most assuredly ready to tell you how he's legit. Kosher, in other words.

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