Why Roseanne Feels Like a Loss for Our Side

By Adam Hefty (May 31, 2018)

The hating on Roseanne is deserved. But I’m mainly sad about it. That show’s representation of working-class family life meant something in the late 80s and early 90s. I’m sad for the path she went down (for at least the better part of 6 years if not more), sad for where she ended up, sad that her firing will make her a “martyr for the cause” of working-class Trumpism, and sad that the US will probably be working through residues of working-class Trumpism long after Trump is gone. The Roseanne racist self-destruction flameout feels like a symbol for a whole series of losses.

And yeah, I know that there are 90 bajillion analyses “proving” that well-off voters, not working-class people, are “responsible” for Trump, and also proving that Trumpism is more motivated by racism than economic anxiety. (To the latter, I usually want to scream … well, why such a big resurgence of racism *now*, Einstein?) I avoided diving in deep to that whole discussion, because the discussion itself makes me upset, and I suppose in the back of my mind, part of that is that it still feels like an elitist discussion, even when it is taking place (in very small part) in socialist publications. And then I remember that intellectually, yeah, I am probably 90% an elitist at this point, and when I feel revulsion at elitism, it is probably mostly a dim memory of feeling out of place rather than anything still very real about me. I don’t know that I really understand the theory of the declassed intellectual, but I feel it in some way. I dropped my Kansas drawl, got educated, moved around the country, re-adopted my Kansas drawl, got challenged on my own vestigial bits of cultural conservatism, dropped them in fits and starts over 15 years, flirted briefly with “working-class separatism,” went to grad school in a program that always gets mocked for elitism even though it has been home for a lot of decidedly non-traditional students, decided that that re-adopted Kansas drawl was just an affectation and dropped it again, finally learned how to shop in a fancy California grocery store without having a panic attack, moved around the world, and learned that I can adapt to very different situations. I feel the loss of my own thinking having less and less organic connection to anything as the years go by.

Roseanne Barr is probably in these terms a declassed intellectual too, just one with a lot more money and fame. Those can seriously distort your thinking, if you don’t have some kind of political organization to keep you accountable and you … well, have tendencies towards racism and a really reactionary form of Zionism. (And Trump is just a rich boy who stumbled upon the lazy man’s road to demagoguery.)

And I don’t know, the hope is probably just in other kinds of things, not even necessarily TV shows. Teen Vogue leading the way to the barricades, some podcasts and YouTube series I’ve never bothered with; I hear that there are some decent working-class oriented sitcoms these days, but to be honest, I haven’t bothered with them either, since I’m mainly watching the same prestige dramas as my intellectual friends. It’s probably a rich cultural landscape. Even if you believe in the idea of a cultural front, I don’t know that Roseanne’s transformation into a troll / court jester in the service of reaction would register as such a monumental loss.

And yet, for some of us who grew up in a certain time and saw partial reflections of our struggling, imperfect, sometimes dysfunctional, out of money until the end of the month families in her TV family, it does register as a loss. She may get some airtime on Fox or Alex Jones now, but I doubt she will stick in any of those circles in any influential way. She’s still a loud, brassy woman who doesn’t fit into any of the roles that conservative women are expected to fit into. And I know this train left the station long ago, but darned if she shouldn’t have been trolling for our side.

“Not Everyone Black Has to Have the Same Opinion”

By Teka Lark (May 30, 2018)

So I was on Linkedin and I was friends with a guy who liked a photo of a guy who went to some thing with Kelly Conway and Ivanka Trump.

This guy was in the nonprofit industrial complex vortex which is about kissing rich people’s behinds regardless of how heinous they are and his field was prison reform.

Unbelievable, I know….so I messaged him and said, “You liking that photo is saying you approve of an action,” and he said, “People have their opinions.” And I said, “You’re Black,” and he responds, “Not everyone Black has to have the same opinion.” And I said you know he’s putting kids in jail and your whole thing is about prison reform and he said, “That is different.”

This is why networking goes really badly for me….


Why We Run: Thoughts for Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzales

By Octaviano Merecias-Cuevas (May 29, 2018)

To whom it may concern: Why we run!

We run to catch the bus at 4:30AM in America
Running our hands to the bones; here, look!

We run with contagious joy like Tarahumaras
We run like whistles emerging from the Zapotec clouds; calling.
We run to the hills to watch our temples burned; Guatemala
We run like poetry of peace in paragraphs of war; Tu’uun Savi.

We run to escape decapitation in borders created by you;
We run to catch la bestia; to tame this tender journey of life
We run with torch and fire of humanity; a reminder of our yesterday’s tomorrows.

We run; porque si no corremos ahora;
El mañana no llegará nunca; contigo.

We run to complete your restaurant orders;
To caress the patience of your landscape and industry
To complete your gold chains desde los andes; las minas
To catch the rain before our dry lips become silence; Bolivia; chained water is death.

Can you understand 500 years of running; escaping?
This indignity of invisibility in everyday songs of poverty?

We run three times as fast just to stay afloat with you;
But we cannot run faster than your bullets… this is America.

Only the shattered pieces of our spirit can… levitating in memories coming back to you; us.

Poesia Mixta
RIP: Claudia Patricia Gómez Gonzáles


Freedom Depends on Enabling Institutions in Our Communities

By Irami Osei-Frimpong (May 24, 2018)

I study alienation and how freedom comes through well-ordered institutional structures, like marriage, employment, and politics. Our problem isn’t marriage, employment, or politics, the problem is that have a bad culture around institutions like marriage, employment or politics. We have bad marriages, bad jobs, and bad politics.

There are such things as a good marriage, a good job, and a good political disposition, and freedom is made concrete through working through these institutions, not by trying to avoid them or surrendering to their awful, conventional expressions. The problem isn’t teachers; the problem is bad teachers. The problem isn’t cops; it’s bad cops. (That one is complicated, but you get the point.)

Now the anarchists will say that these institutions entail coercion so they must be abolished. Everything except private property. What I’m saying is that you really can’t be free without enabling inter-personal institutions. And you can’t have enabling institutions without some sort of responsibility to each other.

These intermediary groups, from marriages to book clubs, enable freedom.

And make no mistake, to participate in any of these enabling institutions as a free person costs money. You have to pay dues. And to participate in any of these institutions with someone else, it means that every participant has to have money.

This just means that until all of your people have some independent money in their pockets, none of us are free. We are just going through (someone else’s) motions.

Community wide economic security doesn’t come from soft skills. It comes from political power used to secure good jobs.


The Santa Fe Shooting is a Result of the Cynicism Destroying US

By Alexander Reid Ross (May 21, 2018)

It’s just a nightmare. I’m from Houston. It’s a place near and dear to my heart. When this sort of thing becomes normal, we all become targets.

That this latest shooting was carried out by a gun obsessed white male is as unsurprising as his apparent fusion of authoritarian left-right politics. A hammer and sickle pin means rebellion, while an iron cross means authority.

It was already clear what kind of deranged products can come out of subcultural politics last year when Jeremy Christian murdered two people on the MAX in Portland. Christian had been a metal head with leftist, Cascadia leanings—I knew people in that scene who were friends with him before he swerved to the far right.

Today, we are seeing more than ever the joining together of far right and left both in conferences and the “alternative media” space. They claim to be anti-war but they are hawks who viciously attack their critics using legal threats and harassment tactics taken straight from the Gamergate playbook.

This shooting is about guns and what they mean to our culture, but more than that, it’s about the mainstream patriarchy underlying that culture and how various subcultures reproduce it with even more intensity…

The ability to clip on a hammer and sickle and an iron cross on the way to murdering high school students indicates the fullest absurdity of authoritarianism in general. This is America today: the snuffing out of sensibility, the urge for power, and the self-destructive drive toward catastrophe.

My heart goes out to the survivors and victims today. I sincerely hope that we will find a way to overcome the cynicism and cowardice that is destroying us. I wish we could reach out to people and reconnect with humanity, sensitivity, and love.