I haven’t made my presence felt much on wordpress since I created this account. My livejournal account is already a handful, and while I’d like to translate a lot of entries from that account over here (especially book, tv, and movie reviews), doing so would take a lot of time, something which for me is always in short supply.
However, I thought I’d write this one post in celebration of May Day, and introduce myself in the process. In fact, let’s do that first.
About me – Demographics: I’m a white, straight, nondisabled, cissexed, cisgendered, twentysomething male US citizen; I find the term “middle class” obscenely inaccurate, but while my family’s economic situation is less than comfortable, it’s well above the poverty line, and you could certainly call us middle class in social terms. In other words, I am awash in just about every kind of privilege imaginable. When it comes to the privilege pyramid, I am the 10%, perhaps even the 1% (but definitely not the 0.1%).
About me – Beliefs: I believe that there is some amount of good (of humanity, if you will) in all human beings, what my Quaker upbringing refers to as “that of God in everyone.” I believe that even the most monstrous of human beings can still be reached and reasoned with (after they’ve been constrained from ever doing anyone else more harm, of course).
I believe that all human beings are inherently equal, and therefore due certain baseline accords, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of self-actualization wherever it does not cause a threat to their community or any other member thereof. I further believe that as a corollary to the above principle, all human beings are also due the material and institutional support to maintain these freedoms without fear.
The turn-of-the-century anarchist, Voltairine de Cleyre, expresses my views quite eloquently, in fact:
<blockquote>Each human being, by mere birth, has a birthright in this Earth, and all its productions. And if they do not receive it, then it is they who are injured, and it is not the pauper, oh inexpressibly wicked world, it is the well-to-do who are the criminals. It matters not in the least, if the poor be improvident, drunken, or evil in any way. Food and drink, roof and clothes are the inalienable right of every child born into the light. If the world does not provide it freely – not as a grudging gift, but as a right, as the son of the house sits down to breakfast – then is the world mad. But the world is not mad, only in ignorance.</blockquote>
I also believe in the democratic principle: that the best people to make decisions which deeply affect ordinary people’s lives are those people themselves. From this it can quickly be showed that the socio-politico-economic system we have here in the United States is not and has never been democratic, and (barring a fundamental change in structure), it never will be.
My application of these principles and research into the workings of the world as it exists at present have led me into many political philosophies and movements including: feminism, homeschooling/unschooling, humanism, pacifism, anti-racism, socialism, queer theory, disability rights, communism, and anarchy. I believe we, as a species, can build a world where all human beings really do live in equality, peace and harmony—but it’s going to take a lot of work and involve a lot of nasty struggle before we get there. I also broadly agree with environmentalism and animal rights, but they don’t capture my interest the way the other ones do.
Social justice is therefore one of my overriding passions in life, and in my early twenties, I can already see that it will be a major thread of my life’s work.
Given all that, I’ve been following Occupy Wall Street and the movement that’s sprung up around it with a substantial degree of cautious optimism. It’s wonderful to see so many people in this country calling out our f***ed-up socio-politico-economic system and organizing for real change. On the other hand, from my (largely outsider) perspective, it looks like the movement still has some major issues to work out regarding white privilege and male privilege—and left unaddressed, those sorts of things can tear a movement apart. Also, the system that activists here in the US are up against is so powerful and so deeply entrenched, my mind boggles at the thought of ever actually mounting a serious threat to it. In my view, the Occupy movement is most likely either to splinter and die (through direct state repression if nothing else) or get co-opted, push through some maybe New Deal-esque reforms, and leave the corrupt foundations in place.
… But then, my previous political forecasts have often proved spectacularly wrong, so who am I to say? Certainly, we’ll never achieve justice on this planet if we never bother to try. So even if it does ultimately fail to bring about the change we need, it’s vital that movements like Occupy Wall Street exist and continue to struggle as best they can for as long as they can. Sooner or later, maybe one of them will get it right, and then … well, then we’ll start to see what human civilization really looks like.
I haven’t personally been active much in Occupy Wall Street (or any of the other branches), though that may change over the summer. And since I’m not presently employed or enrolled in school, I can’t really participate in the General Strike called for today, though I have taken the minor steps necessary to insure that I don’t participate in any commercial transactions.
That said, my heart and my mind are with everyone participating in the General Strike, working in solidarity with the strike, or just struggling against oppression, anywhere in the world. Although it’s not much celebrated in the US, May Day has been a major anniversary in social justice circles (not to mention a couple movements gone horribly wrong) for well over a century.
I’ve tried to come up with a couple pithy words of wisdom to mark this occasion, but everything I can think of just sounds too forced. So instead, I’ll wrap up with two quotes from <i>Marx in Soho</i>, by the late historian Howard Zinn, wherein the title character shares some excellent suggestions for how to improve quality of life on this planet:
<blockquote>Wipe out these ridiculous national boundaries! No more passports, no more visas, no more border guards or immigration quotas. No more flags and pledges of allegiance to some artificial entity called a nation. Workers of the world, unite!</blockquote>
Amen, comrade. And then this:
<blockquote>Let’s not speak anymore about capitalism, socialism. Let’s just speak of using the incredible wealth of the earth for human beings. Give people what they need: food, medicine, clean air, pure water, trees and grass, pleasant homes to live in, some hours of work, more hours of leisure. Don’t ask who deserves it. Every human being deserves it.</blockquote>
Struggle on, comrades. There’s still a world to win.
Gosh, with an introduction like that, this sounds like it’s shaping up to be a political blog, doesn’t it? Well that’s not how I intend it. Certainly, my political views will inform my commentary, and while I’m open to disagreement, I will not censor my own unpopular opinions, nor will I tolerate traffic which is injurious toward traditionally oppressed groups of people.
That said, my main agenda with this account is not to talk about my politics or anything super-serious like that; it’s mainly about having fun with a completely different category of interest. More on that in my next post.
For now, solidarity, comrades! Peace out.