Give it to Chuck Mertz to once again be a step ahead. Just last week Mr. Mertz had on Aisling Mccrea of Current Affairs to talk about why self-care won’t save us. I was so impressed by Mccrea’s grasp of the current affairs, that it really made sense when millennial (socialist?!) darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that she too, would be taking some time for self-care this holiday season.
This “self-care” was a trendy enough term (Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is savvy enough to know all the trendy terms). It was a trendy enough term for the right to be their traditional mean and petty selves, griping about socialists being lazy or whatever. But there was even more people that came to Ocasio-Cortez’s defense, for whatever reason.
And the amount of hoops one has to jump through to justify a few days off of being capitalism’s slave is really remarkable. And yet, one has to laugh a little bit at Ocasio-Cortez, who, very likely on purpose, has become the stereotype millennial. Like all stereotypes, they tend to only reveal something about the person using them. It is not uncommon for someone fulfilling expectations of a stereotype to rise to the top of society. That’s why radio will only play gangster rap, not jazz, and why women are rewarded more often for being pretty than being smart. Our prejudices are confirmed, and this is easy. Even the most awful humans seem to rise to the top just so we can prove to ourselves how fucked up humanity is.
I thought it was a satire at first but Ocasio-Cortez literally said: “Before the campaign, I used to practice yoga 3-4x a week, eat nutritiously, read and write for leisure. As soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window…I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup.” Did Ben Shapiro write that? Or is Ocasio-Cortez just trolling Shapiro? Or does neither have a sense of humor? Who knows! And what was all that about her not being able to pay rent, and then everyone getting mad at her for that, and then, somehow, she actually appears to be even worse than her right-wing detractors just by appropriating working class identity?
Regardless, she is cultivating all the millennial stereotypes at once. First, there is the socialist stereotype (this one isn’t true at all, sadly!). Socialism, in the mainstream imagination, basically just means that you are lazy and selfish (rather than opposed to human suffering). Oh dear!
But the other assumption behind believing in socialism is that you must be a spoiled brat, unwilling to earn your capitalist points of suffering in exchange for not dying. I wish we had more lazy socialists. I wish we had more lazy people in general! But everyone works too hard, including on the left. No one has fun, no one has the time or energy or courage to have fun. This stinks. And screw you people telling us all to work harder! You don’t like it, we don’t like it, and why the hell are we all doing it?
It is here that Ocasio-Cortez is an open troll, or an authentic stereotype. Yoga? Salmon? Sleeping in your jeans? I mean it’s the strangest mixture of high-brow misery and low-brow struggle one could come up with! And if that’s the millennial reality, no wonder we all hate the world!
One of the mainstream media’s assumptions is that everyone is rich and that they care for themselves as a hobby. But people like reading this stuff, I think, because we are all supposed to want to be rich. Yes, we all hate rich people, but there are benefits to being rich, at least before you start acting like a rich person and become just as, if not far more, miserable than before. Or maybe that’s the whole charade. That we are all supposed to want to be rich—dirty, filthy rich—because that would justify the world’s suffering. If being rich was that good, then the world would make sense. But it isn’t, and it doesn’t.
And yet, Ocasio-Cortez’s strange confessions that seem to be so desperate and so linked to the desires within the capitalism’s framework, well, they seem pretty common in the culture! A myriad of self-care plans keep popping up as band-aids to the assumed struggle of life. Never is there any tips for avoiding the need to “self-care” in the first place.
And it’s growing. It’s a growing industry. 9.9 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. And it’s really a tragic disconnect. That so many people feel that they, in one way or another, simply aren’t good enough, and that they need to pay someone to make them better. And somehow it’s these same people who are so insecure that are also at least claiming to be dumping capitalism. Odd, hopeful, but odd!
It’s the crisis of growth. You must be a better self. There is always more. And to keep up, you do what you got to do but you never stop growing. Because life, even when the brand of socialism is involved, is just a competition. Capitalism has so corrupted our consciousness that even when we can consciously claiming to be striving for socialism we are often just applying much needed compassion within our capitalist mindsets.
I’m not sure if any self-care advice has ever made me feel better. I just assume I’m a loser if some professional is telling me how to live my life, which I’m sure, is the real intention. However, one piece of advice I may have heard somewhere that works. The only self-care is communal care. The only way to actually believe you have something worth living for is to give a shit about someone else. Then, you live for them, you don’t really care so much about yourself or the expectations of you, and shit, it’s actually no pressure! I mean how many loops do we have to go around in about the products to make us happy. They all make us sad. Yes, live a healthy life if you can afford to, exercise, diet and learning and all that. But honestly, every second we spend wasting on self-improvement ends up folding over. There is no real cure for your own hatred of yourself besides giving up the idea of self entirely! There’s other people out there! We all suck, we all hate ourselves, and we all want some company! Everyone is hungry, poor and miserable! Why can’t we just admit that succeeding in this world can only be done ironically?
Ocasio-Cortez is the Trump of the left. She fires from the hip, and to Americans, that’s very appealing (we would like to fire from anywhere, from a school, in a church, on a battlefield, but the hip especially!). We need more people like her on the left who actually understand how much our minds have turned to mush! (For all the diagnosing of the American people that goes on, when will someone give Donald some meds).
That being said, whatever she is getting done with the mainstream media backed Green New Deal, is simply not the Green New Deal. It’s necessary. It’s something. It’s a pretty paltry Democrat solution to a problem that could only be solved by a radical third party like the Greens.
Whitney Webb delivers a damning evaluation of the Ocasio-Cortez Democrat version. Webb’s first criticism: a House committee. Even if we like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who the hell do we trust in the House? They have done nothing to stop climate change. And Ocasio-Cortez says this can be bi-partisan! How self-defeating.
Webb also brings up the problem of business and industry being central in influencing the agenda of the Green New Deal. Alexandria never has been very radical, even if she was broke. She comes from the Democrat school of green economic growth—which is a contradiction. If we have to keep growing and growing our economy, the earth will suffer one way or the other. It’s a finite space. There is nothing sustainable about growing.
Ocasio-Cortez is another imperialist with a green thumb on the trigger. That’s a first semester seminar in the Sanders school of thought. All debate must be under the umbrella of Empire. Reasonable centrist ideas such as Israel should not exist, America should not overthrow democratically elected governments and borders should be opened will never get mentioned.
Why not call this the Democrat New Deal instead of the Green New Deal? Well, because no one likes the Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez gets a million times more coverage than her corporate counterparts precisely because the mainstream media wants to convince us that there is a solution inside the Democratic Party. And she is better. But not replicable under our corporate duopoly system. And not radical enough to scare anyone as a singular leader.
Alexandria’s Green New Deal was just shot down by Democrats, and this seemed to surprise the media! And it’s weird, ominous almost, that the media was mad at the Democrats for this. Precisely because her solution is vague, pro-capitalist growth, imperialist, reform based and within the duopoly, the media saw this as an opportunity to silence the left. The Democrats, always eager to shoot themselves in the foot, did not bite.
Ocasio-Cortez has always been pretty straight forward about who she is, a pro-growth imperialist who is broke and does yoga. Some ideas from her Trevor Noah interview: Universal health care, college is good! etc. (she’s been paying attention to Prof. Sanders). All that is part of a “moral economy” I thought the point of socialism was that the economy is not moral? Contradiction alert! Noah, with the chance to steer our young friend to the left, takes a dangerous right turn!
He reassures the nervous listener, likely shaking in their boots from these scary ideas of people not dying because they are poor, that while the right-wing associates Ocasio-Cortez with Venezeula and Cuba (scary brown countries), there actually is socialism in Denmark and Norway (nice white countries). That was close! Thank you Mr. Noah! No mention of how literacy, gender politics, environment, health care and public spaces were transformed radically for the better in Venezuela and Cuba. And no word on how Denmark and Norway are allowed to exist precisely because they maintain the white supremacist imperialist world order through their complicity—silencing their rich populations with welfare rather than reality TV.
Noah then worries that there is a branding disconnect with socialism. Once again, a contradiction, I think. I mean at least choose a different word, right? If socialism is a brand is it really any different from capitalism? Ocasio-Cortez then complains (whiny millennial!) that her American generation never was prosperous, and that we even had to live through 9/11. What a patriot! The Middle East has lived through 9/11/2001—now. All that war would burn your avocado toast, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.
She says, oh hey look at Europe! They are so great! Giving all their citizens health care and college while shitting all over refugees. Health care would be nice though tbh. Noah then asks what Chuck Mertz would call the question from hell: do you need to compromise? AOC gives the answer from hell: of course I can!
Noah continues with the hard-hitters. Will minimum wage stifle economic growth? If only! Instead, like all capitalist reforms, it will continue economic growth, neoliberal austerity, an endless war economy, destruction of the environment and an increase of what Henry A. Giroux calls disposable populations. Ocasio-Cortez says the problem is that the economy can’t grow because Americans are too poor. The scary thing is that a lot of rich people are starting to agree with her!
And we should fear economic growth. First, because it’s all tides. But second because the tide will come (is coming) home to roost via climate change if we continue to expand. And third, because it gives more power to business, and less power to the people to reel in business with government or more anarchist forces. Even if citizens are bailed out with some more money for health care, college, wages, etc., it does not necessarily give us any more power. It does not allow us to control the means of production, or the growth of production that really does not pay us by hour or by degree—but by market demand, which is ever-expanding. It does not protect stateless people, incarcerated people or primarily women working from home from pure slave labor. Nor does it necessarily free us to organize in a way that demands an education that informs a society to create good citizens.
Ocasio-Cortez then defends Trump country, ugh. There are two reasons AOC would have trouble winning there: her race and her gender. They might have been pro-New Deal, but they were also pro-Trump. Then Noah asks: does she need the socialist label or will she settle for socialist policies? Well, the answer is not really clear. She says we should talk about policies, instead? If only the policies were socialist. She then quotes every socialist’s hero Warren Buffet in arguing everyone should pay their fair share.
Still, I see hope, not necessarily from her, but from the rest of the world. Countries across the world still struggle to rebel against the main imperialist “socialist” aggressor USA. Many of these countries, despite our best efforts, continue to put the needs of the people before big business and growth. Trade deals, facilitated by the imperialist powers, aim to deregulate and delocalize economies, but the struggle for independence from the neoliberal stranglehold is being fought. Likewise, despite climate change creating a massive refugee crisis, many are emphasizing a world where we welcome our neighbor.
Do I wish the deal had passed? Of course! The truth is a separate component that will be unavailable to everyone consuming mainstream media regardless of whether or not the Democratic Socialists win this one. And let’s give this young woman some slack. Barely making it by in late-stage capitalism, one strikes a deal with the Democrats, likely doing some good in the process. I think the same can be said of most of these leftish people like Sanders and co. It is not their intention to save the duopoly and capitalism from the underclass, it is merely their effect.
Strange times! Ocasio-Cortez is the new Trump. Outlandish performance is the only way to be effective in our day and age, because that’s the only language we understand. Might as well have some lefties doing this to compete with the right. That begs the question: is Donald Trump—a spoiled rich kid with broken dreams and a bad attitude just another millennial?
Self-care. What a depressing term. And now I wonder if we look back at the history of women getting diagnosed with hysteria for no reason (yes, Donald, I’m thinking of the witch hunt). And I am beginning to think of the logic of neoliberal empowerment, that as soon as you diagnose yourself with the disease, then you are in power. Which seems completely backwards to me. If anything, the propaganda of normalcy is further entrenched. As soon as you have a problem with the status quo, as soon as you begin to feel, in a very real sense, the crisis of capitalism, you are a lunatic.
Ocasio-Cortez presents the millennial, or at least the stereotype of one, in full form. Branded on the outside, neurotic on the inside. Feisty, without God in sight, but dogmatic and politically correct. Broke, with little hope for the future, but still guided by capitalism’s ideals, so easy to make fun of.
Still, despite all this, how can we blame her, or any of us really, for the state we find ourselves in? And yes, we may find that the current generation is both difficult to comprehend and largely ineffective, myself included! But until we come to terms that this is itself a product of neoliberal capital, we will spend too much time blaming the victims of capital. And while, at times, it may appear that the wounds are self-inflicted, this is never the case, in this moment in history or any time before it.
And while the American motto of pull yourself up by your bootstraps will be spewed ad nauseam by the right and the left, my only gripe with the fiesta young New Dealer is that she blamed herself with a self-care excuse. But the fact that she did that proves just the opposite. That this country, so hooked on drugs, prisons, violence and other forms of social management tactics, is unable to see that everything can and should be blamed on the 1% and the logic of capital that makes each of us disposable as soon as we aren’t useful to the capitalist project.
So, Alexandria, going crazy in these dark times proves you more radically sane than your politics have. Spread some avocado on your toast, buy some drugs from Big Pharma, do some yoga, make an Instagram art project or whatever millennials do to feel better! We need all the crazy people we can get, even if they are just more strung-out remakes of past imperialist capitalist politicians like FDR.