Welcome to another trip down the rabbit hole from your clever commie cunt in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in Neverland, author of the blog Notes from the Ninth Circle; just call me Chuck. And, yes, that is a reference to Dante; the name Hell’s Half Acre was already taken when I began the blog in 2011.
When I saw the theme of this podcast, “The Gift”, the first thing I thought of was the Season 5 finale of the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because that is the episode’s name. It’s related to n an episode earlier that season called “Intervention” in which Buffy goes on a vision quest in the desert and meets the First Slayer, who tells her, “Death is your gift”. As in, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…for I am Death, destroyer of worlds and slayer of men”. Or, in Buffy’s case, vampires.
The first time I heard the story of the Monkey Trap was when I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was at uni. A hunter cuts a hole in a coconut shell just big enough for a monkey’s hand to fit in. Inside the coconut shell, the hunter places some sort of food like a piece of fruit. The monkey comes along puts its hand inside, grabs the fruit, but can’t get its hand out holding its prize. Thus it is trapped by its unwillingness to recognize that it cannot both have and hold at the same time, that it cannot have its fruit and eat it too. Its perceived bounty, or privilege in some cases, is that which condemns it to the stew pot, or, worse, to those tables with the little round hole in the top when the halves slide together. In other tellings of the story, the monkey holds onto the fruit until it dies, clinging to the food that cannot be eaten until it starves to death.
While the story of the monkey trap is frequently used these days by self-help motivational speakers, the same principle can be applied to groups, movements, and parties. At this point, I specifically mean socialists and other leftists. Comrades, the Russian Revolution is our fruit inside the coconut. The October Revolution itself was socialist, but what came after was most definitely not.
In her critique of the Bolsheviks called The Russian Revolution, Rosa Luxemberg makes a statement in Chapter 6 that sums up the entire work: “Socialist Democracy does not come as some kind of Christmas present for the worthy people who have loyally supported a handful of socialist dictators”. After the Bolsheviks took power, all they did vis-à-vis the Russian people was to trade one one tyrant three thousand miles away, in social heirarchy if not in actual physical distance, for three thousand tyrants one mile away, figuratively speaking again. Three thousands tyrants following the dictates of a committee of just twenty.
Believe it or not, one self-proclaimed socialist tried to tell me that Luxemberg actually praised Lenin and Trotsky and the rest in her critique; I don’t think they understood that that praise was that of Mark Anthony for Brutus.
Comrades, we socialists need to follow the examples of Luxemberg, Maclean, Debs, Goldman, and others contemporary to that time and let go of the delusion that the Bolshevik leaders, all of them, established anything remotely resembling socialism or building a path toward it. Under Stalin, it was not a “failed workers state” because it had never been anything of the kind. To those who prefer to lay all the blame at Stalin’s feet for what the Soviet Union became, and he does have the lion’s share of blame, I remind you that the very structures of which he took advantage were those put in place by Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and the rest.
And I mean all the Bolshevik leaders; Lenin aborted the existent socialism in Russia to establish state capitalism on the excuse that having socialism that early would violate the protocol of a hypothesis first expounded by Engels and expanded upon by himself. That is as absurd an action as when the Communist Party of the Philippines ordered its newly-established New Peoples Army from its homebase in the province of Pampanga in Central Luzon where all its members spoke the local language, Kapampangan, to Cagayan Valley in the northeasternmost province of the island of Luzon, where the local language was Ibaneg. Their rationale? To imitate Mao’s Long March, since the party has recently adopted Maoism as its ideology.
As long as socialists hold onto the idea that the Bolsheviks were genuinely socialist, capitalists are going to have the coconut our hand is stuck in to beat us over the head with. Or to simply let us starve to death in obscurity. The Bolsheviks were nothing more than slaves who dreamed of becoming masters and then did.
On another topic, let’s talk about voting. Specifically here in Neverland, but the same principle applies everywhere. Way too many people after the November 2016 election claimed that “Donald Trump is not my President”. Well, tough fucking shit. He is. Get the fuck over it. Voting is a social contract that implies giving one’s consent that whomever wins the election by the rules laid out at the time is the winner, provided the election is fair. If you participate by voting, you necessarily consent to the election of the winner. Otherwise, your vote is morally invalid. That doesn’t mean you can’t protest if the winner is a racist, misogynist, bigoted, greedy, selfish, narcissistic asshole. But what it does mean is that everyone who voted for someone other than Trump as well as those who voted for him consented to his election.
So stop throwing stones at Trump supporters in general; many voted for him simply because his major opponent had less than nothing to offer and in many cases did not even bother to ask for their vote. Commenting on the Obama presidency someone stated that “American liberals would rather have someone who makes them feel good about themselves than someone who actually does good”. Which is certainly true, seeing the way too many people cling to the Democratic Party as the “only viable progressive option” to the Republicans, the lesser of two evils. But sugar on shit don’t make it a brownie. Nonsocialist progressives need to let go of the fruit in their own coconut.
And that is why so many people voted for Donald Trump; he made them feel good about themselves, even if they had misgivings about some of his other rhetoric. That is something that calling Trump supporters “deplorables”, Bernie supporters “basement dwellers”, and Black Lives Matter activists “not important” most certainly did not do for Clinton.
On the Electoral College, I would point out that it did precisely what it was designed to do; stop a candidate from winning by campaigning in just the states with the largest, most concentrated populations. Imagine if the UK had a nationally elected president and a candidate standing for that office could win simply by campaigning almost exclusively in London and Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Belfast and Derry, Cardiff and Swansea. Clinton tried to win by campaigning on the eastern and western coasts, ignoring the heartland almost entirely.
Those casting stones at George Bush and Hillary Clinton for being warmongers need to remember that Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act containing a provision allowing the indefinite administrative detention (a la Israel) of American citizens without charge in order to continue the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., dropping 26,000 bombs a years on seven countries, and keeping up drone strikes on “anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time, for secret reasons based on secret evidence in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials” (Rosa Brooks). Obama also initiated the upsurge in expulsions of illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees that Trump had so greatly expanded. Just as Stalin couldn’t have been Stalin without Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and the rest, Trump couldn’t be Trump without Obama; in this, at least, he is following in the footsteps of his predecessor.
Finally, I want to add a few comments of my own on the masculinists in the nationalist and, yes, socialist and progessive, movements in Scotland. The masculinist, or “men’s rights”, movement in America is the breeding ground from which the alt-right movement sprang. The tiki torch Nazis in Charlottesville? Those kind of people came from there. If that is the company you want to be inyou should start calling yourselves Friends of Trump. Or you can wake up to the fact that the same system which has created the conditions which make you feel oppressed is oppressing your female fellow humans even more, and turn your anger there. Let go of the fruit in the coconut.
Last of all, I want to say this: Be the darkness that illuminates. Be the silence that resonates. Be the stillness that agitates.
Our day will come, inshallah. Keep the faith. Peace out.