socialist movement

Reflections of a socialist elder

By Pete Glosser

Justifiable fear about the next election cycle has begun circling like the medieval Beasts of Battle as we confront the very real probability that 1) the republican party will run an incarcerated felon for president from a federal penitentiary, and 2) the subhuman bastard will win.

The poet of the Battle of Maldon set his scene in part with the phrase “Hraefnes wundon”—”the ravens circled.” Well, the ravens are circling above us now with a vengeance. The shadows of their wings pass over us daily, like Charles Baudelaire’s “aile de l’imbécilité.”

The consequence of the above, in my opinion, could well be the collapse of the bourgeois democratic political system in the United States—and this at a time when there is virtually no group or party with the kind of historical, rhetorical, scientific, and anthropological education even to begin replacing the tattered patchwork of the vastly overrated—and now clearly failing—US Constitution.

This is why I think that unforgivable self-dramatizing stupidities like the campaigns of the feeble exhibitionist Cornel West and the fascist Robert Kennedy Jr.—together with the pro-Russian propaganda campaign of the vomit-making, crypto-fascist, pseudo-leftist Medea Benjamin and “Code Pink,” and the Kremlin-paid operatives of the so-called Grayzone Russian propaganda cult–must be put a stop to as soon as possible by any and all effective means. In the present situation, these things are intolerably destructive and dangerous.

To me, it’s pretty obvious that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 because a) she conducted a lousy campaign, and b) she offered nothing for a flesh and blood human being to get excited about. The Democrats thought their brand of not-quite-Republicanism was the bomb and that it could not fail. They themselves failed to see the depths of nihilism in the embittered and predatory consumer culture that had replaced all real public affections in the wake of Nixon and Reagan. A Democrat who lives in my building exploded with death threats against me and the entire left when I rejected the silly idea that “the left” had caused Clinton’s defeat. These people were then—and probably still are—as primed to k*ll leftists as any fascist.

It was the Social Democrats, not the Nazis, who recruited the Stahlhelm to k*ll Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht and throw their corpses into a canal. To the average Clinton-Obama Democrat, social democracy itself is an unutterable “leftism” that must be exterminated. What they will do if given the chance beggars imagination. Have the accommodations of Biden scotched that snake? I doubt it.

The cult of the entrepreneur, so dear to Clinton and her fellow smug manipulators, was a clear and shameful symptom of failure of the US political system. All of that agreed too well with their well-fed, narcissistic, neoliberal, ruling-class political outlook. Instead of fighting for even a mild version of social democracy, these fools played footsie with the monster, convinced that insider dealing and insider politics would be the answer to all problems, and that there could be no issues of principle in the new, wised-up, post-Obama, post New Labor, antisocialist “liberalism.”

Jill Stein just didn’t make any difference. Barack Obama’s chilled-out manipulative narcissism was the perfect expression of a new indifference to the common welfare that had never existed in such widespread fashion before. Clinton’s Clintonism was a preposterous dead end.

This leads to the second factor: the bloodthirsty nihilism of the average American—which now is of even more concern than the giddy politics of sheer incompetence that separates Trump and his minions from their predecessors in the historical fascist movement.

The MAGA maggots are, for the most part, drawn from that section of the petty bourgeoisie that see themselves as self-made because their successes—a prosperous roofing business, an independent auto repair shop—as well as their failures—nonsensical consultancies that bring in no income, small businesses like a pet store specializing in tropical fish that consists of half a dozen smeary aquariums in the living room of an untidy house trailer—are built on an unconvincing and actually unconvinced assertion of pure ego which angrily spurns any notion of accountability to society or of any larger construct, even the Wealth of Nations.

What drives these luftmenschen is an unattainable fantasy of the white man reborn to dominance, crushing all that stands before him even though he cannot escape the self-destructive chatter of a superego that will not stop talking no matter how he tries to appease it. This implacable monster incessantly utters words of fear that attack and erode the foundation of the MAGA believer’s self-esteem. For these people, no success has any long-lasting substance, no joy can be felt that does not turn to despair, no pleasure exists but in the prophylactic infliction of pain on others, whom one despises but who are encroaching irresistibly on all sides—the Inferior Others who have magically acquired strength in numbers and have conspired to deprive white Americans of their unutterable—indeed unbearable–birthright. That birthright exists for the MAGATS only in the thought or act of killing those who threaten it.

This is the appeal of Trump.—a weak and stupid man and hardened criminal, who demands to be accounted a genius and a mighty dictator, and who somehow succeeds all the more every time he fails, which he does constantly. The rebellion of these terminal neurotics is against competence itself, against fact itself; not against any form of government, but against governance itself. Trump himself perfectly embodies the destructive paradox of this terminal mental disease.

The passion with which seventy million gibbering neurotics—good for nothing in the long run perhaps but fertilizer—continue this struggle against their own tyrannical ideals and their actual long-term interests, endlessly enacting a weakly externalized succession of poorly imagined conspiracies. And yet this tsunami of weaponized weakness is a political force of incredible power that threatens the destruction of society itself.

In the meantime, however, the left has no choice but—choking on the bile of ages—to reform and strengthen the practice and standards of bourgeois democracy. The Electoral College must be abolished and direct voting established. The fascist (or fascist-ish) Supreme Court must be compelled to adhere to a rigorous code of ethics that will eradicate the incredible corruption that is the necessary counterpart of their self-serving right-wing ideology. Those who refuse this must be impeached and imprisoned. The welfare state must be strengthened; medical care for all must be accepted as a right; and the rights of private enterprise and private property curtailed so that the public interest takes precedence at all times and in every circumstance. The reversal of civil rights must itself be reversed. The defeat of worldwide neofascism, personified by Vladimir Putin and embodied in his criminal attack on Ukraine, must be absolute and incontestable.

And then? And then? The truth is that nobody knows for sure how or when the necessary steps toward socialism can be taken. I’m old. I am unlikely to live long enough to see the end of the present extinction cycle. We old ones have much to contribute, but the young, who at present mostly believe in nothing but their own petulant triumph over those they see as their inferiors (i.e. old people and society as a whole), will have to take up the struggle and make it their own. This idea is sure to piss most of them off mightily. One can only hope that enough of those who are workers will have the vision to embrace their identities as workers and move forward in ways that the likes of me may or may not envision, but will support at all events, while we can, once the path becomes clear.

Pete Glosser is a retired technical writer living in Washington DC. He describes himself as being “hopeful that the current crisis will open doors for a new beginning.”

Categories: socialist movement

3 replies »

  1. A fascinating post, and – if I may say so – very well written. But how does the author propose people should vote in the next presidential election?

  2. I voted Green the last time. I like Hawkins a lot, as opposed to Jill Stein and West, whom the Ukraine crisis has proved in my opinion to be fundamentally not serious, if not–like Code Pink and the Russian propagandists at Grayzone–actively on the side of the real fascist enemy.

    Next time, all other things being equal, it will be Biden.

    Even if and when, as I hope and trust, Putin and neofascism go down to a crushing defeat in Ukraine, the Left will find itself dancing on the thin end of a very sharp needle for a long time afterward. The Democrats are not our friends, and nor (for that matter) is the neoliberal Zelensky government, absent the struggle for the victory of the Ukrainian people over the genocidal Russian monstrosity.

    I think that, in the US, the best source of solidarity in the near term could be a thorough program of reform within the framework of liberal democracy aimed at rooting out corruption in both government and the labor movement, asserting democratic political control over the means of production, abolishing the ludicrous cult of the entrepreneur, abolishing the culture of billionaire Pay for Play in the Supreme Court and the judiciary, guaranteeing the right to control reproduction and LBGTQ+ rights, establishing the fundamental rights to health care, food, and shelter, establishing the absolute supremacy of the climate crisis and the war on extinction in public and foreign policy, and many other matters.

    Something like a transitional program addressing these concerns might provide the basis for a kind of truly united socialist political movement. Without this, it’s difficult in my opinion to see a way forward. All this must entirely escape the political control of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. And yes, the destructive effects of Stalinism must always be kept in mind.

    I hope this begjns to answer what may underlie your question as well as the question itself.

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