When is it impossible to tolerate?

I need to speak. The urge is too strong to ignore. To say that I am appalled by what happened in Florida is not as true as I would want it to be because I have been appalled by so many similar events in the recent past that disgust has been replaced by a kind of fury with which I am finding hard to cope. To say that it is time to do something about the problem produces in me laughter of the kind that comes with listing to someone who is professing absolute and obvious bullshit. It has been time for a very long time and not much of anything meaningful has happened to deal with the appallingly absurd and impossible reality that our current reality. The tragedy is that life goes on as usual even though what is usual is wholly unacceptable, so far beyond the pale that beyond the pale is what is accepted as normal.
I do not know what to do. I do not know who to talk to to get something done. I do not want to go on this way because life is not very pleasant. It can only be pleasant if I ignore what is going on around me and I do not know how to be so ignorant. I cannot live decently when I know that kids are being killed in their schools on a regular basis. How could I claim to be a decent person if I could do such a thing?
I have suggested to some who might have at hand the opportunity to do something big enough to help us get out of the rut we have accepted to be a permanent feature of our existence; tragedy followed by well wishes followed by no meaningful action at all to change the conditions that allowed for, caused the tragedy to occur. “Here we go again” is about another turn on the carousel that goes nowhere, only in circles. We learn nothing from our tragedies because we do not want to think too much about them because we want to get on with living the good life even when we get glimpses of how bad life is for others, those directly affected by the tragedies we behold and then try to push out of our consciousness so that we can “go about our business.”
This is pathetic. We have become pathetic. If the slaughter of babies at an elementary school did not bring about mass action of some meaningful kind, then we are beyond pathetic, patently inhumane. Consider what we want to forget, the terror those kids felt as they saw their classmates murdered after hearing their screams and watching blood drain from their little bodies. How the fuck did we manage to go on without doing something sanely drastic to make sure that something like that incredible tragedy would never take place again.
Within days, if not hours, we were back to living our lives as we had before the massacre, back to work, back to spending to keep the economy alive, back to forgetting well enough to live the lives we have become used to living, lives of unconsciousness that allow us to proceed as though nothing terrible ever happened. And, when it comes to seriously considering root causes of the ugliness we paint over, that we will not do for to do so is to make us aware of at what cost our good lives come, at the cost of others, even babies, living terribly, sometimes in terror, cost we are willing to have THEM pay as long as we can afford admission to the next dumb ass block buster movie the advertising agencies promote with our stupidity in mind.
I hate Facebook. When I pay attention I discover what I hate to know, that day in and day out most people choose to ignore or, at best, only lightly involve themselves in the process that should be our salvation, the democratic process. I read message after message of trivial things right there in the midst of critically important events taking place. I find little in the way of conversation about taking meaningful action. Fucking postings of disagreement or disbelief do not do shit. Messages circulate and too few are willing to get off the carousel, to take the time to really take the time to think about and offer up suggestions for new directions. Saying what someone has already said, even if it it good, does not help push thinking toward proposals for solutions.
My mission now is to find find a few people willing to look at the big picture, the causes of the agony that humane people should be feeling these days. I am determined to find a few people who will spend a good amount of time to look deeply into how we function as a society and what it is that causes so much disfunction. I want to take about that which is responsible for school massacres and that which is responsible for economic misery so many experience, for people treating each other badly, for some having very little–some not even enough–and others having so much that they can buy anything they want including the decision making processes by which society determines what is right and wrong, legal and illegal, acceptable and unacceptable.
I want to converse with a few people who want to do something potent by act and by scale. I want to work with people who believe that the good of the whole, that the flourishing of humanity the basic cause for right action and decent behavior, is their life cause, who understand that the truly good life can only be established if humane principles serve as motive for what we do as a society of human beings.
As I have said before, I have a good sense of what the root problem is and I know I know what it is because so many atrocities can be shown to have been carried our and allowed in the name of profit.
I have for many years now, as an educator, as a teacher of teachers, as a student of human behavior–as a reader of lives lived, in fiction and news (and not the stale psychology) come to know of many things of which we do not speak, of the cruelty of our system, of its inhumanity, of our willingness to allow others misery so we can live well.
I suffer from a troubling illness and I will call it awareness combined with empathy and compassion. I find it near intolerable to know of others being harmed, having their lives ruined, sometimes taken, for the sake of what is good for the American way of life, for the good of American, defined as economic prosperity.
If a few people wish to explore the miserable to expose what should be obvious, that capitalism as we know it is a predatory form of economy, we can start by looking at the kid of inhumanity it has produced–wars, mass poverty, environmental degradation, child abuse, debauchery (think about all of the stories surfacing now about wealthy men abusing women because they possessed enough money to do so with impunity). Our system, looked upon with open eyes, an essential component of it is nothing less than rape, rape in a variety of forms, from rape of intelligence in schools that promote the system over the truth, rape in the form of wealth from the many to allow others lives of luxury, of other nations for commodities and cheap labor, for democracy so that a few could have what they want while the rest would pretend that they lived under a system of government that was for and by and of the people.
Here is a recruiting quote from the book Bitter Fruit by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer. The speaker is a man named Edward Bernays, a man who worked as a publicist for the United Fruit Company who helped to convince the United States Government to overthrow the democratically elected reformist government of Guatemala in the 1950’s. I quote him because he speaks to the fact that many of wealth and power have not respect for democracy or the rights of human beings to live decent lives. He writes that,
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…it is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically.”
If you understand the magnitude of the comment, its relevance for the way we live our lives–if you want to do something to improve this society so that it does serve the people, the whole of the people, please let me know. I am desperately trying to discover a way to cope.

Progressives will make no progress being wimps

Careful my progressive friends in how you proceed in your work to reform politics in this United States of America. Remember how we go to where we are now, the most progressive party of the but two we have that currently get notice is not at all very progressive.  The joy that should be felt for the Jones’ win should be tempered by the fact that, even though he had done some good things in his public life and holds some decent values, a progressive he is not.

But this is not about Doug Jones.  It is about the problem of giving into the idea that progressives—real progressives—cannot win election and, therefore, because winning elections is important, vote for the most progressive of candidates even though that most progressive candidate gets us nowhere toward solving the problems with which we should be concerning ourselves–real economic reform that attacks with vigor income inequality, a system that works to keep wages low and profits high, safe and sane means for accumulating and keeping pensions and retirement funds, job security and health and welfare security, clean air and pure water (that we serve ourselves through our municipally owned water providers, not Nestles or Coca Cola), safe streets and safe everywheres without worry of getting shot and killed by idiots toting high power firearms, good—no, great schools that insure that the public is so well educated as to want to participate in the democratic decision making process and know how to go about keeping themselves informed about what really is and doing with that information what well educated citizens of a democracy do.

Yes, progressives, real progressive ARE about redistribution of wealth and they are about government services and government programs that serve the people well, are so well funded that they can do the work necessary to insure that people have good, safe, and healthy foods available to them, that they have the information they need to live healthy lives, that they have access to good medical care and the medicines and treatments they need to be well and live full lives, that they have access to medicines that they need that are safe always and never unaffordable.

Real progressives want solid and sensible infrastructure of the kind that is as efficient, clean, and effectively serves the needs of the people and those who provide the goods and services people need to live a very good life on a very healthy planet.

Add to the list what you wish, if it is a wish for real progress, of the kind that helps create and support a truly humane society.

To begin the process of making progress we need to hold tight to those things called principles and ethics.  We cannot win even a single day if we continue to support those who do not really support what they should.  Good enough is not good enough if we are ever going to make things better.  I really do not care about party anymore and I certainly do not think the current two major parties can be very helpful in pushing through even a half way decent progressive agenda.

Two choices here: Radically reshape one of the extant parties or start a new one, the latter option a hard one to achieve if it is going to be viable, but probably the only real path to progressive reform given what the democratic and republican parties are now.

Principles over politics key to principled politics

This may be about old history but it has to also be taken to be about something called principles and principles, if proper ones, do not get so old as to become obsolete and retrospect is a necessary aspect of any perspective that is legitimately principles, principles violated in the past proper exemplars for conduct in the present and future.

I remember really liking Bill Clinton and seeing him as the president who would take us into a better future (I was not paying attention to important details such as who Robert Rubin was or the polishing up of predatory capitalism that was going on or the make the streets safe for the haves by jailing forever those who made the haves feel unsafe). So, when the scandals were coming to light, I tried to make dim their significance.

I have wondered, more so now than before, but before too, about how I and others dismissed those who were making look ugly our pretty boy, our champion, thought about the fact that getting a blow job from a rather young woman in the confines of the White House, should be looked upon as deviant behavior, perversion, less so, foolishly, in terms of power dynamics, but wrong in so many ways, the enemies of the man right in their condemnation of the behavior, those enemies enemies of so many things I believed in, right though to excoriate Bill for his actions.

I remember cursing him for giving THEM, these self-righteous religious bigots (as I saw them), a reason for being self-righteous and I was righteously appalled by the sheen of dignity he put upon him by acting so disgracefully.

But I was happy that he stayed in office, continued to see him as the good against the bad and was angered by the accusations from other women who came forth to complain of his abusive behavior, dismissed them as surrogates for the bad people out there who wanted to have America be what they wanted it to be, not what I wanted it to be.

So, now, these many years hence, I really do not care to have Bill or the woman who stood by his side punished. I do want to have sensible people consider the principles and how they may have treated them then and how, now, they should consider that treatment and what it means for moving forward in a principled manner.

These days, some Democrats are willing to take a less forgiving look at Clinton.

A polite fight is not the right fight, not now.

A person I truly respect wrote me a note in which she asked me to remember to effectiveness of marches in bringing about an end to the war in Vietnam. Having been a part of the anti-war movement and an avid and principled draft-dodger, I remember that along with the marches there were many acts of civil disobedience that, if nothing else, made people aware of the tragic nature of the war and of the real meaning of the cause the marches were meant to support. I do recall what happened at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the Chicago Seven trial that followed.
A lot of people went to jail in Chicago and a good number of people were arrested for doing such things as occupying president’s offices on college and university campuses, participating in teach-ins and sit-ins of all kinds, not going to classes and risking getting thrown out of school or not getting the semester credits they had paid for because they were protesting rather than attending classes. Personally, I remember shutting down the college I was attending, standing at barricades with members of the SDS, the Black Panthers, and the Black Student Union. I remember going off campus to find speakers who would inform us and fire up the student body.
I remember going to Angela Davis’ office at UCLA and getting her to agree to participate in our moratorium strike. I remember people getting hurt, some getting killed, a good many getting tear gassed and walked with billy clubs. I remember people taking action to make those who felt they did not have to listen, listen.
Even with all of the actions taken, both to end the war and change a social order that discriminated against ever one who was not white and male, and against males no matter what their racial or ethnic background who could not agree with the government order that they go off to be butchered in a foreign land, butchering those who lived in those distant lands for reasons few actually understood including those who were doing the sending off.
What we face now is at least as terrible as what we faced then, maybe worse because the current powers that be are doing everything they can to make this their country to do with–land, citizens–what they want.
There has to be a better strategy than to ask THEM to be nice to us. THEY do not care what we think and they really do not give a shit about our welfare.
As some have begun to notice. we are at war, engaged in real and meaningful class warfare and a real war against ignorance, greed, and arrogance. We need to understand that we are at war and fight with real force. Politeness will not this war win and losing this war really does mean for most a very bleak future.

In order to sustain “our” standard of living, we will live by their rules, and their rules become our standard way of living (and thinking) whether we like it or not.

In order to sustain “our” standard of living, we will live by their rules, and their rules become our standard way of living.

The conversation below began with my post calling for a post passing of the tax bill boycott of Christmas.  The response, in my mind, is a sensible one and one indicative of a future in which the moneyed will have their way every day on every issue, because it is the moneyed who we cannot resist, cannot fight because of what they can take away if we really do rebel against their usurpation of power that should be in the hands of the vast majority of people and not a very few.

We will not resist, there will be no meaningful rebellion because in doing so, because of the way the system runs, we hurt ourselves.  If we were to boycott, the made to be inevitable consequence would be punishment in the form of lost jobs and lower pay, a loss of what we have come to understand to be prosperity.

While we continue to feed the system that, because of the way we have allowed the system to develop, because we want to be able to live a life that we have learned to be the prosperous life, that is the kind of prosperity we have come to accept as the standard even though our acceptance of it has led to and will continue to lead to the degradation of democracy and planet and what we may, at some point, discover to be an unacceptably low real standard of living, life without natural beauty, without access to those places where natural beauty still exists, a place where poverty grows worse, affects even more people, where wages never move upwards, where education of the kind needed to be informed and thoughtful citizens is not readily available, where racism and sexism grow more virulent and…

You cannot fight those who in order to be fed and content (there are other ways to achieve contentment, but they have been advertised out of our consciousness) if we have to feed them in order to feed ourselves.  We can find better and more democratic and humane ways to feed ourselves, but it is very difficult to do away with the only diet we know.

Here is the telling conversation.  This is in no way meant to say that the individuals involved are the problem.  The problem is that they live within a system that is terribly problematic and unfair but, to contend with it in any meaningful way, in a way that might bring about the kind of change that would be right change, they would be forced to give up things the UNDERSTANDABLY do not want to give up, SINCERELY believe they cannot give up because of the way their lives would be affected, the way in which their children’s lives would be affected.

What is problematic about living what we got because it is enough is that the children might find, in the world that is the result of the pragmatic and cautious approach, a world in which we would not ever wish upon them.

Me (on poster): Tax Bill Christmas Boycott

Me (in comment following posting of poster):  Use the money to fund change. Go downtown and meet people in the park. Buy food for those without much. Buy Tax Bill Christmas Boycott shirts (proceeds going to the anti-wealth in the hands of a few campaign–somebody needs to make them), beer and wine only from non-corporate brewers and vintners, gifts only from non-corporate entities, and whatever else to make this the kind of holiday we need.

Respondent 1 Also a great way to hurt small businesses. I try to shop local and keep it small, anyway.

Respondent 2: While I agree with you, there also has to be a balance. My family relies on sales in a corporate store and if sales slump even more, hours get cut. The people who will lose hours (or their jobs) are the ones that are likely going to be hit hardest by this tax plan.



‪Me (to respondent 2): So Ms. _____, you prove the point that we are caught up in a system that hurts us that we cannot rid ourselves of or even adjust because it gives us back what we need and want. Indeed, the corporations will cut hours and do other things to show us who is boss and we will be somewhat made miserable by it. The cost, of course, is giving into a system that allows for corporations whose stockholders and executives make more off the workers labor than the laborers do. There is a better way but the path there is one that we probably never take for the very reasons you offer in your statement. The tax bill passed because we have chosen to empower, have chosen to give up our power to the corporations who use that power to buy legislation that benefits them at our expense. Merry Christmas. Keep feeding the monster and he will continue to eat us alive.

Respondent 3: I wanna spend my yuge tax break windfall.

Respondent 3: I don’t see what that boycott is going to do. And I might point out you are a big fan of pine of the most egregious offenders… Apple. And here we are on Facebook.

Me: The implied charge of hypocrisy should not be used to undercut the viability of my argument for a boycott. I do buy goods that are made by bad companies and Apple is but one amongst many that do what they can to insure that investors are made wealthy and by means by which I do not approve. I want things and I go where I can get what I want with some consideration of the significance of the brand in regard to decent treatment of people and the role the company plays in the world as a corporation.

That said, the call for a boycott is not contradicted or made unreasonable by my buying habits. I refuse to be a part of a boycott by one because such a boycott would do nothing to change the conditions I wish to change through a boycott.

What a massive boycott, and not a tiny one, would do is damage the economy. That is the purpose, to make the economy hurt, to make those who benefit most by the current economic system hurt the most, the investors and the executives who are constantly finding ways to make the system better for themselves by making life worse for others. Consider the post-Christmas scores that are rendered and the glee or tears shed depending on how much consumers spent. Note that, as Julie said, the slower the season the more the working people suffer. That is, the less they by, the greater they are in jeopardy of earning less money or being laid off. The American public has to spend the money it earns so that it can have the work needed to buy enough to keep the economy strong enough to support their employment!

So, it is harmful to save, to refrain from purchasing! That is quite an insane way to be forced to live. And, yet, we tolerate the system because we need the jobs that do more to insure a luxurious life for the wealthy than they do to enhance the quality of life those who are doing the work live. And, as our purchases make those millionaires and billionaires ever more wealthy, they use it to fix the system so that it works to give them always more and less to the rest if such is necessary to buoy the profits.

Something has to give and I think recent history shows what it will be, the people of this country giving into a reality they cannot affect without hurting themselves, a reality that is not the one they would have if they had the power to make change, but the reality they must accept if they are to continue getting along. To change the reality we currently have and complain about, we have to change the dynamics of the society and to do that we have to bear for a time the repercussions of messing with what is, what we are used to.

We won’t do that. Our children’s children will likely be beaten up by a system even worse than the one we have now. They will feel the pain of our not finding a way to do something about our odious present so that their futures will be truly good ones. Very sad.

Respondent 3:‪ I wish I had a realistic answer but this isn’t realistic either. It doesn’t have a chance to gain the numbers to make it effective.

Me: You are right. For this reason the reaction to the royal screwing we took the other night will maybe be a march or some phone calls but nothing that will really help to change the reality that allowed for such a travesty to occur.