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Long Live the New American Revolution
Posted on Oct 8, 2011
By Scott Tucker
Every real gain gay people made cost some of the most bitter hours and days of our lives, especially during the deadliest years of the AIDS epidemic in this country. This bitterness is far more tonic and trustworthy to me than all the honeyed revisionist history of the gay movement now being typed (I will not say written) by Democratic Party hacks of all sexual persuasions. The truth just tastes better than lies, especially partisan campaigns of organized lying. Scott McLarty of the Green Party recently wrote an article on fake bipartisan “pragmatism,” and on the need for radical electoral reform and independent politics. I recommend that article, “After the Wall Street Protests,” published recently in Firedoglake. McLarty describes the convergence in crucial public policies between the corporate parties:
“On nearly every big issue from the wars to Wall Street’s looting of the economy to offshore drilling and oil pipelines, President Obama has shown a smooth continuity from the Bush-Cheney administration. When he clashed with Republicans in the health care reform debate, the argument was really over which side could best accommodate for-profit insurance companies and other special interests, with Democrats offering mandates that require everyone to purchase private coverage, an idea they pilfered from Republican Congressmembers who introduced it in the 1990s.”
Such evidence counts for nothing among many older “progressives.” Or more precisely, for the majority of Democrats over the age of 40 who voted for Obama before and who will vote for him again. As has become familiar in every big election for the past 40 years and more, such “progressives” always forecast the apocalypse if voters don’t fall into military formation behind the Democratic Party. Yet they all fell into line with unswerving final loyalty, though with plenty of gripes and indigestion along the way, and we still inhabit a political landscape that has grown more apocalyptic in regular electoral cycles.
This is not democracy, nor “strategic voting,” nor “pragmatism.” Nothing of the kind. This is the familiar drill for political sleepwalkers. They may have a waking nightmare as they vote by rote, but otherwise they are under the deepest partisan spell. The long habit of diminishing hopes has accustomed them to this political climate, and every practical impulse of rebellion has been paralyzed. These “progressives” are like frogs that get boiled alive one degree at a time, and croak in chorus that they are really just enjoying a nice warm bath. No one seriously argues that mere youth makes a political rebel, much less a class-conscious socialist. Yet young people are perennially the very people who most often break partisan ranks in times of open political crisis. Here again we now have real hope of change. Naturally, there is no reason to discount any older folk who are still socialists after all these years, if only they make their votes count against war and capitalism.
Make every vote count? Mine counts against anti-gay bigotry, of course, but also against war, empire and the corporate state. The right to swear allegiance to militarism in our very own military uniforms, and the right to swear an undying oath to monogamy in marriage—well, I have no simple view of such rights. Such rights and such public vows are only democratic to the degree they remain civil libertarian. They amount to declarations of faith, since those public swearing-in ceremonies require much denial of daily contrary evidence; but plenty of people do not belong either to the militarist or to the monogamist faith.
When California briefly legalized same-sex marriage, my dearest friend and lover became my legal spouse; and I gladly became his as well. We had our reasons for that choice. And we have our reasons for stating openly that marriage in a truly secular democracy should become a strictly civil contract. In a social democracy, solidarity with single people or indeed with communal households is reasonable and defensible. A civil contract of marriage therefore does not raise the partners to a higher legal or material status. Marriage in a social democracy must be a matter of contract and a matter of fact. Nothing less, nothing more. Whether a married couple also chooses a religious ceremony is entirely within the realm of personal faith. Nothing more, nothing less. As for love and romance, the more distance the state keeps from such a personal realm the better.
As reported in The New York Times on Oct. 6:
“On the [Occupy Wall Street] group’s website, they describe themselves as a ‘leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.’ ”
The corporate news media began paying attention when 70 protesters were arrested in New York on Sept. 24, but still failed to give this decentralized populist movement any serious coverage until 700 protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1. The following day, the New York Police Department was sued by the city’s bus drivers union for commandeering buses to transport arrested protesters.
Is the Occupy Wall Street movement a left-wing version of the tea party movement? Certainly that analogy was assumed by any number of commentators (including Keith Olbermann) when they noted that any tempest in a tea cup on the right was instantly given full coverage well beyond Fox News, but that the real rising tide of popular rebellion against corrupt institutions of high finance was judged to be newsworthy only once this tide became a storm.
To his credit, Olbermann interviewed Will Bunch, author of “The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama,” on Sept. 21 about the failure of the corporate media to report the big events unfolding in the urban canyons below their corporate headquarters. And Bunch noted that The Guardian (in Britain) had described the foot soldiers of this young movement as being overrepresented by disgruntled students, namely, “the overeducated and underemployed.”
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