People who thought
they had clarity this time last year are confused again this year.
It’s not peoples’ fault they are confused about
politics, when politics is the expression of class, gender, and
imperial power. The entire apparatus of civil society bends toward
the singular purpose of rendering these sources of social power
either invisible or natural.
In either case, invisibility or naturalization puts
these sources of power beyond our intervention.
Either there is no such thing as class power, or
gendered power, or imperial power (because it is invisible), or
those forms of power exist, but they are the result of the immutable
laws of nature.
In extremis, those who hold that power will even
accuse the subjugated of abusing them.
Back in my special operations life, we had the standard
response tactic for embarrassing revelations: Admit nothing. Deny
Everything. Make counter-accusations.
So it is entirely possible that nothing I am about
to propose will make sense to enough people to make a difference.
I don’t pretend that I, or anyone else proposing a politics of real
resistance, is yet standing before an audience sufficiently traumatized
by the depredations of this system to embrace the spirit of actual
People didn’t know any better in 2004, and there
is no reason – aside from the fact that things have gotten considerably
worse – that people know any better now. After all, churches, and
schools, and advertisers, and the press, and the think-tanks, and
the NGOs… they have been plucking away at our heads since birth
in one manner or another, and nowadays with the most sophisticated
brainwashing technologies in history.
Nonetheless, I am going to run this up the proverbial
flagpole, and see if anyone salutes.
Here is my grimmest prediction for the coming year.
The Bush administration will continue to occupy
Iraq, and perhaps even attempt to switch sides – trying to team
up with Sunni factions to cut the throats of their former allies,
whose pro-Iranian politics has put the neocons into a terrible bind.
In any case, they haven’t the slightest intention of giving up their
Iraq bases, which were the purpose of this war from the outset.
Democrats will – with precious few exceptions –
equivocate and evade on Iraq and try to wangle other Bush administration
embarrassments into a 2006 election sweep.
But the Republicans have figured the Democrats out,
and the Republicans have made up their minds to fight for a one-party
state, and they will take everything the Democrats do and say and
beat the living shit out of them with it – as the Democrats deserve.
Chalk one for the Republicans for at least being decisive.
Kerry couldn’t attack Bush on the most important
issue in the country, the war, because he supported the war. Now
most of these mealy-mouthed dickheads are stuck with the REPUBLICAN
INCOMPETENCE argument. Republicans are not fighting the war well
enough… but these same dickheaded Dems are shitting screw worms
right now because after they cheer-led the Arab-bashing, kill kill
kill war hysteria at its apogee, they are left floundering in the
Iraq war perigee three years later.
Let’s don’t talk about that bad war, they are thinking.
Let’s make a lot of noise about Abramoff and Scooter Libby.
Democrats are also now silent in the face of Katrina’s
aftermath – gosh, everything must be okay now – because they are
as deeply in the pockets of the gentrifying developers as any white-nationalist
Republican. The Democrats support free-trade agreements, the criminal
injustice system, weapons contractors… you name it, they like it.
Who do people think finance their political campaigns?
Oh, they will rail to the heavens about REPUBLICAN
INCOMPETENCE around Katrina, and then they’ll support the rich white
fucks who roll in to gentrify New Orleans into a Disneyfied Negro
Theme Park that actual Black folk can no longer afford to live in.
Anti-war “progressives” will continue to identify
this war with Bush and his cronies, and selectively ignore the fact
of overwhelming Democratic complicity and cowardice on the war.
They will excoriate those of us who attack Democrats,
and as the 2006 election draws nigh, they will excoriate us more
and more. “Bloody splitters…” like a Monty Python skit.
These same faint-hearted clingers will mobilize
among an increasingly apathetic and disheartened population that
intuits the fixed game. They will go to the polls in November and
vote lesser-evil Democrat. And they will lose.
The Republicans will use every dirty trick in the
book, use the redistricting that is already a fait accompli, as
well as out-organize the Democrats, and at the end of 2006, we will
be closer to a one-party state… the war will continue… people will
continue to die… and these progressives will go back home, nurse
their sanctimony, and sputter helplessly while they go back to being
good, obedient imperial citizens.
It’s funny to me that these palpitating progressives
will scoff at the stupidity of the 40% of the population that still
believes Saddam had something to do with 9-11, when the evidence
that Democrats (1) supported and still support the war, (2) refuse
to deal with the war, (3) are spineless cowards in the face of Republican
criminality, and (4) will get their asses handed to them again in
2006, is just as overwhelming.
There is a way to avoid this, of course, but it
is a bold way, and perhaps a way for which we as a society are not
yet prepared. Maybe the pain is not great enough yet.
Nonetheless, I’m going to hook it to that lanyard
and run it up the pole, upside down perhaps, not merely a flag,
but the universal distress signal. Because my prediction, should
it come to pass, will make what is inevitably going to get worse…
Now here is the big caveat. What I am about to propose
is crossing some lines that we can’t step back across. It’s a two-step
Step One: Bury the corpse of the Democratic Party.
Step Two: Make a corpse of the Republican Party.
This requires some chutzpah, and many won’t be up
for it. It means undermining the Democrats in 2006 over the question
of the war.
There are two parties, and they are both parties
of the rich. The rest of us at this point have ZERO political independence
from the parties of the rich. Anyone who thinks they can reform
the Democratic Party from the inside, call me. I have a time-share
to sell you in Pyongyang. It’s been tried forever, and it has NEVER
worked. That could be because it can’t work. A party of the rich
is by definition… of the rich. The rich are rich because other people
are poor. The rich stay rich by making other people poor. Then they
hire us to “clean their rooms, drive their cabs, and suck their
cocks,” as it was put in Dirty Pretty Things.
But there is a trick to this. Many people say if
we let the Republicans have it all, they are very dangerous. And
whether or not this cramps up facile leftists, it is also very,
very true. Republicans are very dangerous. Republicans are white
supremacists. They are misogynists, more so than most Democrats
even. There are quite a few of them that would resurrect Mussolini
given half a chance and put his ass in the White House.
So we have to commit to step two in order to have
step one make any sense.
That’s why I say we are crossing the line.
Step two is to massively and openly delegitimate,
disobey, and disrupt the Republicans. I’m not talking metaphorically
here. It means rebellion. It means taking on the exciting but very
scary task of creating and sustaining a political crisis, like the
Bolivians just did, that threatens to cause a government to fall.
This is where the Greens and the Labor Party and
the New Party and all these other non-starters went awry. They put
the cart before the horse.
They tried to create an alternative before there
was an open space for it. They wanted to talk people into coming
to their itty-bitty house when everyone was already inside two great
big houses. What has to be done is tear the two big houses down,
and start building something else out of the leftover material.
Quit being so goddamned afraid of a couple of nights
Like I said, I don’t know if enough people are up
for this now.
They will be eventually, because what we are watching
right now is the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic.
But some people love denial above all other things, because we are
so afraid. Living stupid, alienated, well-fed, and entertained for
a couple of generations will make you afraid.
Anyone my age or older remembers when we had a culture
of resistance, no matter how unfocused. We flipped off authority,
and we tried new shit, and we questioned everything. Our kids now
are – with some very hopeful exceptions – such hopeless conformists
that it makes me sad for them. There was a period when people reveled
in the idea of tearing the master’s house down, even if we lived
So pretty soon now, some of us old non-conformists,
along with some new ones, are going to try one little thing.
We think it is immoral… deeply creepily disgustingly
immoral, for politicians to dither around while people are being
slaughtered in the war, or talking about incompetence in the Gulf
States while they secretly support the gentrifying, land-grabbing
pieces of rich shit who are perched around New Orleans like turkey
So we are going to do something.
Not much, and we don’t know if it will empower others
to go the next step, that is, tell the same politicians who are
allergic to any issue except their careers that they can go straight
to hell, and we’ll fight the proto-fascists in the street.
We outnumber them and their cops about 10,000 to
Ain’t math marvelous?
Democrats, don’t you tell us wait. Because your
house is not being bulldozed in New Orleans, and you have not been
sent to war, and you are not waiting to see if an “exit strategy”
turns up before your loved one is shipped through Dover in a flag-draped
Any Democrat who says we have to wait to leave Iraq
until… whatever. Fuck you!
Did you get that? Fuck you! You put your sorry,
pus-gutted ass on an airplane to Baghdad and take my son’s or someone
else’s place while you figure out your “exit strategies.” And don’t
tell me you are fighting Republicans for me. You haven’t done jack
shit! I don’t need you to fight Republicans. I can withhold my taxes,
or block the streets, or spit on them in their offices. I can slap
the dog shit out of one Republican elected official and accomplish
more against them than you have in your whole sorry fucking career.
That’s what some of us think. We ain’t waitin’ for
Godot, and we ain’t waitin’ for you.
Stan Goff is the author of “Hideous
Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti” (Soft
Skull Press, 2000), “Full
Spectrum Disorder” (Soft Skull Press, 2003) and “Sex & War”
which will be released approximately December 2005. He is retired
from the United States Army. His blog is at www.stangoff.com.