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In this episode on my video blog I try to make the point that I have been making on my blog ever since Trump was elected.
The abortion bans that are being passed in places like Alabama and Georgia are evidence of one thing, fascism is not “on the rise” in America, it is already here.
We here arguments made all the time that Trump is Hitler or Mussolini. Cody Johnson makes the excellent point however that while there are parallels between these fascists and Donald Trump we need to remember that fascism wont look like it did in Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, it will look like Trump’s America.
This is a true statement, George Carlin said it best before he passed, “When fascism comes to America it will not be in storm trooper uniforms and black leather boots, it will come wearing Nike shoes and smily face t-shirts.” He could have easily just said tacky red baseball caps.
That said the parallels between our fascist state and ones of the past are growing, and none are made more evident than in the abortion bans.
Every major right wing controlled state has instituted bans on abortion on demand, Italy did, Germany did, and now the United States has. The abortion ban is also showing the face of a sad reality of fascism, liberals in power working with the fascists and giving them what they want.
Louisiana’s governor is democrat John Bell Edwards, whose candidacy was endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 2015, has already announced he will break with the Democratic party and sign Louisiana’s abortion ban. Much like how liberals abdicated to Hitler to defeat the communists, or when Chamberlin bent the knee and give Hitler the Sudetenland, so have we seen the so called “resistance” bend to fascist whims.
Call the abortion ban what it is, fascism. We can no longer pretend that fascism is just a “growing problem” in the United States. We need to accept the harsh reality that it is here. We live in a state where elected officials are literally assaulting the press (see my post about Montana’s special election last year.). We live in a state where the so called “resistance” is not only willing to work with the enemy but bend to their whims. But worst of all, we live in a state where laws controlling a human body can be passed. All of these things existed in Germany and Italy circa 1939, and now they are apart of America’s way of life.
Call these bans for what they are, fascism.
In this weeks episode, I plea to my fellow leftists to not lose hope.
Elizabeth Warren turned down an invitation from Fox News to do a candidate town hall, calling the “news” station out for their blatant hate speech and for “giving a megaphone,” to racists.
While Warren is right that the fake news network is a homing beacon to the vomit inducing white right, she has lost an opprotunity to gain serious political capital by rejecting their invitation.
Now I want to stress this point before I go any further, Warren is not obliged to go on Fox News. To be honest any leftist or anyone who leans left is not obligated to take the baited hook that right wingers like Fox News or Ben Shapiro throw. “Debate me!”
Warren is also one hundred percent right about the station’s explicit racism and implicent enabling of violent white supremacy.
However, Warren has shot herself in the foot once again, like she did when she released that racist DNA test and when she endorsed Hillary Clinton. This would have been Warren’s opprotunity to save face with the white and rural voters who are so quick to reject her for the connections she made in her career to Obama and Hillary Clinton. If she had taken this town hall she could have used it as a platform to go into the heart of the belly of the beast and take down the harmful talking points against her policies, much like how Bernie did.
Bernie went into the belly of the beast, knife in hand, and came out holding the monster’s heart to the sky. When the anchor was bested by his own baiting question about government run healthcare, it was check mate for Bernard Sanders.
Bernie’s town hall gave him a huge degree of political capital. Overnight one of Fox News’ most idiotic talking points was defeated, “Most people don’t want government run health care,” they like to say. Yet with a simple cheering of the crowd and Bernie on the receiving end, the station has now been forced to scramble and rethink its rhetoric.
That is a key to winning in the art of war, keep your enemy confused, and make no mistake, we are in a class war.
This is the chance that Warren has thrown away, the chance to let Fox News own itself, as the kids would say, and come out the other end victorious and validated. By refusing the invitation, she has only played into the fodder that democrats cannot speak to Fox News base, and that fodder will cost her in the long run should she actually win the nomination.
Warren is right, Fox News is the news station for racists. However you do not end racism by running away from it. Racism ends only when it is confronted. The same with all forms of bigotry and prejudice. Bernie confronted the prejudice that Americans fear big government more than they fear big insurance, and he won. That is something the left is finally getting good at again, winning.
Warren can’t win a fight when she runs away from it.
A fearful night,
and a burned bridge freshly smolders.
Such is the life of a hopeless radical.
Less sexy than a hopeless romantic,
but more useful than a hopeless idealist.
Two are ideal hands of the state,
whose hands when pressed against us
create our struggle.
Our political struggle.
The hopeless radical knows
that identity is not solidarity,
and logic cannot fixate on rhetoric.
The pressing hands,
They ignite and explode gaslights
To burn and humiliate us.
This is the life of the hopeless radical,
Of the unbowed optimist.
The state, the struggle,
The hands against us,
And our rhetorical traditions.
This is our life,
The life of the unbowed,
of the unbroken,
of the hopeless radical.
I have noticed time and time again at multiple meetings, protests, and other organizational gatherings that there is a haste in several leftists to abandon intellectualism and academics. Either intellectualism is synonymous with whiteness to some of these people or their is this sentiment shared by many leftists that intellectualism is inherently alienating or off putting to the working class.
I reject these notions and I implore my comrades to reject them as well.
I am not unsympathetic to leftists who have a distain for academia and the intellectual jargon that comes with certain avenues of socialist theory, nor am I blind to the exclusion that academics has perpetuated. It is true that academic rhetoric has been used as a tactic for class elevation rather than for the improvement of ones community. To put it blutnly, people under our current capitalist system view education as a method for moving up the class scale. Instead of a degree being a symbol of your knowledge it is often used as a symbol of your class.
There is also a predominance of white supremacy in all, and I repeat all, institutions born under a capitalist system. This includes our schools, universities and even our unions and leftist organizations. As such the intellectualism that is attached to these things has a predominate tendency to enable white supremacy and I am sympathetic to that fact as well.
However the notion I reject is that the working class are incapable of comprehending intellectualism, that in order of our programs to be considered “accessible” they must be dumbed down. This is the notion I reject. One reason I reject this is because distain for academia is a right wing value, and in turn enabling distain for it by the left is a validation of a right wing talking point. Our job as leftists is too disprove the right wing, not validate it. “The poor are to stupid to organize and rise up,” is an inherently capitalist right wing sentiment and when we perpetuate the idea that the working class cannot comprehend intellectual topics or jargon then we are validating this sentiment.
What is even worse is that distain for intellectualism insults the working class. “Intellectual” should not be equated with “inaccessible.” I do think this is where most leftists are coming from when they express annoyance with intellectualism. It is not that they have a distain for intellectualism itself, but rather it is that they want our program and interpretation of socialism to be as easy to understand as possible in order to foster and build a genuine mass movement. I think that is a fair sentiment.
However, too often than not I see friends and comrades equating the idea of making our work “accessible” with dumbing it down. This is reprehensible. I acknowledge that we need a shift in our jargon, and adaptations to our rhetoric need to be made in order for our socialism to be relevant to the working class of the 21st century, but this does not mean we need to insult the working class in the process. To argue that something is inherently “too intellectual” or “too academic” for the working class is to say that the working class are incapable of complex thought and that intellectualism or academia is too good for the working class.
Nothing, I repeat, nothing, is too good for the working class.
It is also nearsighted to reject intellectualism when you are a leftist organizer because it ignores a very large part about the reality of the 21st century working class. The truth is that most members of the working class today do in fact have some degree of post k-12 education. The existence of the student debt bubble is evidence alone that most people who qualify as “working class” are indeed educated to some degree. Therefore the working class of the 21st century is perfectly capable of intellectualism or of comprehending academic rhetoric because most have already gone through the realms of academia.
My comrades who want to make things like our program and jargon more accessible to the working class are in the right to do so, yet it must be remembered that “accessible” does not mean “dumbed down.” I refuse to insult the very people I want to organize by giving them a program that condescends to them.
It is true that intellectualism has been used to intentionally exclude people, especially non white people. Many of our oppressors have used academics and intellectualism to openly exclude non males and non whites from their ranks. In short, they have used their education and jargon as a method of control rather than as a method of liberation. I think this is another place where our anti academic comrades are coming from when they express distain for intellectualism, and I am sympathetic to this outlook as well.
However I also think that to synonymize intellectualism with whiteness erases the numerous non white intellectuals, such as W.E.B Dubois, bell hooks, Angela Davis, and Cornel West, who have graced us with perspective and theory in manners that are both complimentary to the working class’ capablities AND are accessible to those in the working class who have not undergone a secondary education. We cannot counter erasure with more erasure!
Socialist programs and rhetoric in the 21st century need to adapt, and to adapt they need to be made accessible to the masses. However “accessible” does not have to equal “anti intellectual.” I said it once in this piece and I will say it time and time again until I am dead, nothing is too good for the working class!
“The poor deserve it!”
Lies and slander.
“The left hates…”
Lies and slander.
“The police protect and serve.”
Lies and slander.
“Your standard of living will only go up.”
More lies, more slander.
“Love is all you need.”
More lies, more slander.
“This is land of the free.”
The biggest lie, the biggest slander.
I acknowledge that in 2016 I came very intensely after Elizabeth Warren. Like many of Bernie’s 2016 supporters I was hurt by her endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I think Warren has since almost made up for the error by coming forward with genuinely radical and necessary policy platforms in her presidential campaign, policies that remind us that she was once a people’s hero in the fight against Wall Street and can be once again.
Her plan to cancel student debt is as pivotal as Bernie’s Medicare for All or prisoner voting rights platforms. Her open challenges to Joe Biden on his ties to the credit card companies is commendable and so is the work she has put into protecting consumers for this entire decade. She deserves credit where credit is due.
With all of that said, I am still a little bitter about what happened in 2016. I realize it is somewhat trivial to complain about what could or should have been, but damn it I am genuinely convicned that if she had not played the 2016 primary as cautiously as she had we would not have a Trump presidency.
Here is what I mean, because Warren waited to endorse whoever won the nomination instead of endorsing Bernie from the beginning of his candidacy she hurt his campaign, a campaign that would have easily defeated Trump in the general election. Yes, I am still a “Bernie would have won,” kind of person and truth be told I probably always will be.
It is understandable why she waited to endorse the definite front runner instead of taking a stand early on. At the time it made sense as the politically cautious move to stand for a united Democratic party against Trump. However that caution came at a price. It hurt Bernie’s ability to develop the klout needed to counter harmful talking points spewed by the Hillary people.
When Warren endorsed Clinton she went from being a darling of the Occupy alumni to another mouth piece for neoliberals, at least in the eyes of Bernie supporters who also supported her. One of the reasons that Bernie, and Warren for that matter, have stayed so popular is that several of us who came out of the Occupy movement remember them as the only public servants to demonstrate admiration and respect for the movement and its sentiments.
So Warren did not only hurt Bernie by endorsing Hillary late in the election, she hurt herself. By endorsing Clinton and by endorsing her as close to the end of the primary as she did, she synonymized her name and platform with the vomit inducing identity politics of Hillary’s campaign. Instead of having her working class values and background tied to Bernie’s pro working class platform, she attached her identity as a woman to Clinton and by doing so she helped enable the “only sexists vote for Bernie” talking point of Hillary supporters, a talking point which erases and hurts all of the non male supporters of Bernie.
Had Warren endorsed Bernie from the get go, the myth of the “Bernie bro” would have been squashed and would have had no foundation to grow. Also, with her endorsement would have come her very extensive and supportive base, but now that base is arguably very much in the establishment camp because of her hesitancy to get involved with the primary until a front runner was decided. Warren is now synonymous with supporting establishment capitalist democrats like Hillary, which is folly because Warren’s policies are arguably much closer to Bernie’s than they ever were to people like Clinton, Harris, Biden, or Booker.
I want to make it clear, I do understand why Warren didn’t endorse Sanders, but I think it was a mistake that inevitably cost Bernie the primary and damaged Warren’s reputation as a challenger of big money capitalism, which in-turn gave us the shitty general election that birthed the Trump presidency.
But what hurt Warren the most is the fact that despite her policy and platform being much more in line with Bernie’s she endorsed someone with completely opposite values to her. Warren has much more incommon policy wise with Bernie than she ever will with the Clintons and Bidens of the world. The fact she did not make that clear in 2016 not only hurt Bernie but it hurt her, because now there are leftists like myself, who do remember her public challenges to Wall Street and her bold demands for consumer protections and market regulations. Now it is hard for me to get excited about her candidacy because I still view the Clinton 2016 endorsement as an act of political cowardice. I used to think it was straight up betrayal, but after getting involved with politics as an activist and as an organizer I’m willing to say I understand why she did what she did in 2016. However let us always remember that understanding an action is not the same as supporting it.
Will Liz Warren make the same mistakes this time? It is very possible that she will. Warren clearly is a politician who acts with caution. I do not fault her for being tactical but I will fault her if that tactic comes with compromising her values. However I can say that if she remains consistent with her demands for canceling student debt and if she does not backtrack support for Medicare for all then I would be genuinely happy with a Sanders/Warren or Warren/Sanders 2020 ticket. However I would be thrilled by the idea even more if she stepped up and admited that not endorsing Bernie in 2016 at the beginning of the primary was a mistake.
All in all, I do want to like Elizabeth Warren, I do miss the days where she and Bernie both were patron saints of the 99%. But until we address what happened in 2016 I will always have misgivings about her. I do not think Warren is bad, at least not as much as I used to, I do think she has to answer for 2016.