Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Outrage is Capital

Photo by Cody Williams | CC BY 2.0

It’s difficult to determine when performance begins and outrage ends. When this year’s first “March For Our Lives” got thousands of people in the street in every city and town across the country, activists felt vindicated. After decades of trying to get elected officials to take a stand on gun violence, it seems like headway is being made.

Students from schools around the country walked out together, and some brave students even walked out alone.

While it felt good to see elected leaders scrambling to take a position on such a vital issue, the scrambling wasn’t for a lack of time to plan. People have been asking for these changes since Sandy Hook in 2012 and since Columbine nearly 20 years ago.

We see the rage spike and then watch strongly worded statements roll in. It’s only in hindsight that we understand that our representatives saw what we perceived as a time for solidarity as an opportunity for political gain. Our struggle is how to identify these performances and how to respond.

Protect The Brand

Many of the elected officials and public interest groups who showed up for the March For Our Lives had special signs printed up with for the event. While some featured just a hashtag or a statement, several representatives held big banners with their own name on them.  Given that this is an election year for many, this was a great opportunity to take photos for late summer mailers and social media.

These representatives have a platform to speak from whenever they want. They were out there performing for cameras, doing it for the likes. They’ve bought into the fantasy that their time is precious and that their presence has meaning.

Thankfully the kids who organized this event and whose peers are in danger of losing their lives outnumbered the opportunistic adults. As long as they steer clear of the cynical politics of their predecessors, we are in good shape.

Allies and Opponents Are Temporary

On July 4, 2017, Washington Post mogul and former heir Lally Weymouth held a party out in the Hamptons. Rubbing elbows at the party were big figures in Democratic politics like donor George Soros, senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Between the handshakes and hors d’oeuvres, a few other regular guests squeezed into this annual Hamptons affair. Their numbers included Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump along with Kellyanne Conway.

In a post-modern political context, where reality can be spoken into existence and tweets have as much weight as executive decrees, symbolism has never mattered more. Symbolically, this reminds even the most casual political observer of the absurdity in post-modern politics. Literally, it means that when an elected official calls for an end to alternative facts while rubbing elbows with their inventor, someone is being hoodwinked.

While compromise is important, we’re often sold a line that so many of the conflicts in value cut to the soul of who we are as citizens. Rather than maintain this existential struggle, the mask falls away when the cameras turn off.

There’s no compromise because there was no struggle. There’s merely a performance and a consolidation of power. There’s an appearance of forward momentum, but it’s just a fleeting condition that’s as fragile as the egos of those who work the gears.

Our Only Weapon Is Focus

Our best bet is to try to avoid falling into the rage traps, clickbait, and strongly worded statements released by our representatives. We need to avoid heroic politics, as we will only be disappointed. Our criticisms, our questions, and our goals need to be as specific as possible and our loyalties need only to be long as each of these specific campaigns.

That same outrage about gun violence was absent in mid-May 2018, just six weeks after the march, when the new US embassy opened in Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians were injured or killed by Israel’s military as the ceremonial opening occurred. The same elected officials who were decrying gun violence were silent or even supportive of the president’s action.

We should be concerned when former critics move toward blind praise. Our leaders need to be constantly questioned and reminded of their constituents’ commitment to progress.

Our own loyalty shouldn’t be galvanized by incumbency. It should be as fragile as the will of our leaders. Our outrage is our capital and we need to spend it wisely or else we risk blowing it on the wrong things.

 

More articles by:
May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail