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Scattered Thoughts

Dispatch from Apathy

by ANDREW SMOLSKI

A society made up of people who reject the external effects of their actions is a crumbling machine constantly dissimulating its own self-destruction through the outward appearance of bravado. The semblance of bravery arrived at by the narcissist who sees in freedom the absolute ability to do as one pleases quickly amounts to the moral abdication of all duty to others. The others fade into oblivion as so many instruments to be used in the furtherance of self-interested ends. Regard for reality becomes a constraint, and to avoid it people adopt fantastical narratives about themselves. When everything is revealed to be a sham everyone acts as if they never did or believed those things, which of course means it will occur again. People must become responsible for the predictable consequences of their actions.

Now, this typically becomes twisted and convoluted into the idea of “individual responsibility”; responsibility only covering the immediate self and possibly extending to a family organization. This form of responsibility actually excludes most forms of responsibility that would be prerequisites for people in a democracy; participation in government, duty to others, thinking about externalities. This is part of why the attack on government in principle is ludicrous. It absolves us of any moral responsibility to society and makes it a probabilistic certainty that people will not act ethically, and a near certainty if they do act ethically it will not be a conscious choice.

Democracy must restore faith in government as the responsibility of every citizen to consider themselves as having a duty towards their fellow citizens and consciously analyzing their actions in order to minimize harm and maximize pleasure for both majority and minority groups. It must also make anew the idea of government detached from a paternalistic nation-state built on jingoistic legalese doused in the infernal kerosene of injustice burning slowly as a crippling bureaucratic process.

***

Some rap is the expression of lumpen proletariat capitalist dreams soaked in the language of right-wing libertarian individualism advanced against the government’s security apparatus as it continuously encroaches on the meager livelihoods eked out by those at the bottom of an oppressive hierarchy. It is a rap that sees in itself the aspirations of those locked-out of formal, “legitimate” networks of advancement and opportunity, thrown to the turpitude of an informal economy existing at the edges; a battleground where there “ain’t no such thing as friends, only associates”, as Z-Ro would rap-sing.

Through this rap we can understand the deep desire to break free from all interventions by government. What government is becomes relative to circumstance, to historical contingency. Although as citizens we must attempt at public reason and veils of ignorance, we cannot ignore our lives and our experiences. It is easy to support the police as a white middle-class male, but much easier to despise the police as a black working-class male. If the Black Prophetic Tradition has failed, as demonstrated in some rap (rap I allude to here), it has failed because it entangled itself with formal politics; basically, the nastiest, slimiest game around. Don’t support the people who the support the people beating your people. That action leads only to one place; disintegration and dissolution.

***

The writing from the market and religious fundamentalist outfits like Fox News, Front Page Mag, and Red State is atrocious. It is boring, infantile, and written for a 5th grader who hates everyone for not noticing him/her for how awesomely fascist they are. Personally, it’s part of what stops me from ever wanting to saddle up and sell-out with them. Who wants a world where creativity is stifled and everyone constantly reads the same book; even worse, they read it poorly. Or maybe it is two books. The Bible AND The Wealth of Nations. You could see the whole lot of them murmuring over and over, “Invisible hand… Invisible hand… Invisible hand…”, and every so often screaming out, “You didn’t let the invisible hand work its magic!” followed by a cackling insanity.

I wasn’t alive for a Buckley, Burke, or any other conservative intellectual who gave a shit about actually knowing the topics they speak on (even if they still lied through their teeth). I got stuck with, or more properly, had forced upon me, idiots like O’Reilly and Hannity. Or dimwits like Ann Coulter. Granted, I know these types existed beforehand, even worse versions most likely; consider these like 4.0 models. I can’t consider enemies people who are lumpen petit bourgeoisie status (all the way to the bank). Nouveaux riche idiots who are upset they got in late to the white privilege game as a means towards material wealth. Enemies deserve a modicum of respect, maybe even satire. These folks deserve nothing but ridicule.

***

La cucaracha, la cucaracha,

Ya no puede caminar,

Porque le falta, no tiene,

Marijuana pa’ fumar!

Apparently, Victoriano Huerta smoked weed and was a drunk. He also was President of Mexico (for a little while) and a complete ass. I bring it up, because you can be a pot-smoking, drunk asshole and still be President. Power doesn’t make character, that’s for sure. Remember that the next time you honor someone for their position, instead of who they are.*

*Please refer to Alexander Cockburn’s writings on American politics for a good understanding of this last thought.

Andrew Smolski is an anarchist sociologist based in Texas. He can be reached at andrew.smolski@gmail.com