Pretty much since the day after Donald Trump got elected there were already articles popping up about self care and taking time off from being mad about the state of the world. Leave alone the fact that most of these people – the writers and passionate consumers of these articles – are totally insulated from the effects of our failing economy and crumbling nation-state. Let’s you and I speak instead about the fact that no matter how many marches you scream through, protests you paint signs for, nasty takedowns you rhyme through a megaphone, the only thing you’re accomplishing is either a) fulfillment via self-indulgent rage or b) wearing yourself straight the fuck out without actually effecting any change.
The only times marching or protests have fundamentally changed society have been when things are so utterly terrible that even Tom, Dick, and Harry are rioting because they can’t feed their kids. That or a foreign government is sponsoring regime change for whatever cryptofascist reason is hot that year. Systemic change is rooted in systemic resistance. Either you fight to get your hands on the gears of the machine, or you destroy the machine entirely and build a new one. This is lost knowledge. We think if we yell loud enough, someone in the ivory tower will listen to us. To that I will say only this: would Marie Antoinette have kept her head if being able to hear the screams of the populace meant anything at all? I can yell, but you don’t have to listen.
Things change when they’re made to change, either through political will or temporal force. We get to choose which; but, at a certain point, the one loses its value to the other and – as yet – the conditions that prevail today are not those under which material force will be favourable to us. This idea of taking the high ground, of not debasing ourselves to the level our enemies, is not just muddied by conversations of false equivalency and faux moralisations. It lacks a basic and intrinsic understanding of revolutionary history and the failures of the philosophies that often guide leftist circles to account for material realities. We are too ready to exchange strength for moral cleanliness – a moral cleanliness that is debatable in its actuality, no less – and hesitate for too long to accept the brutal truths of the past and of the present. This trail we are following has already been blazed, and been found wanting.
History won’t remember the blood on your shirt, shed shouldering the blow. The chroniclers of our future, whether they be for or against us, will remember our efforts thus far as feckless at their worst and those of blowhards at best. If these same tricks were going to work, they would have worked in past decades when our numbers were greater and our veracity more self-assured. Instead, the language became coded and the powers at play softer. We were content that nothing was being shouted anymore, that there were ample rugs to sweep things under and most of us were doing alright. Most of us. Doing alright. Getting by.
Is that all we want? To have most of us just doing alright, again? To fight to only preserve our claim to the fixtures of a system that was designed for the purpose of quietly degenerating into oligarchy? Our world must be a new world, down to the foundations. The pillars must go, the streets must be torn up. Time is running out, the clock is ticking, and the sun might already be setting on the dawn.
And I, for one, have no desire to imagine Sisyphus happy.