Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You're so "Radical", you probably don't think this post is about you

image is from here
If you go to the blog where I found the above image, you'll see but one way the term "radical" is misused socially, in this case by a Christian who thinks preaching about Christianity is "radical", not what it actually is as practiced by most who call themselves "Christian": anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Indigenous, racist, anti-queer, and patriarchal too. To my friends who are Christian: you are exceptions to a rule, in my experience. And when you are the rule, not the exception, I'll believe Christianity means something other than what I have experienced it meaning and doing on Earth, which is creating great genocidal and gynocidal harm to many people. But this post is not about Christianity and that religion is one I wish to discuss here. (I've discussed it enough for one lifetime.) What I wish to discuss in this post is how the term "radical" is used or misused, depending on what you believe it means.

Increasingly, across the web and off the web on the ground, there are people who call themselves "radical" in one way or another. You know who you are.

Among that population, are people who are not engaged in any anti-status quo activism of any form, in any organised way. They are, simply, calling themselves "radical". I will note immediately that I include interpersonal and individual work as potentially radical work, but that when I speak of "revolutionary" work, it includes organised resistance, with other people with a similar or collaborative or coalition-built goal of dismantling or radically transforming institutions, systems, and structures of oppression--all of that.

I live in an overtly individualistic society--when it comes to on-going organised resistance and activism determined to radically transform society into one less ecocidal, gynocidal, and genocidal. I live in a country that makes sure slaves can be "employed", that poor and working people can be laid off, get time-limited support while unemployed, while massive corporations get corporate welfare year after year after year. I suppose you know by now that for the first time ever, 1% of the U.S. population is in possession of a whopping 25% of all money made in the U.S. or by U.S.ers. And over 50% of all wealth is possessed by the top 5%. Now, given how inheritance tax, capital gains tax, and other taxes work for the rich, this means that wealth is increasingly hoarded because the U.S. government, allegedly elected by THE PEOPLE--including the poor and the working class and the middle class, because lobbyists in Washington are cozy with elected officials who don't, in any meaningful way, shape, or form, represent the poor, the working class, or the middle class.

Add to that the function of white supremacy and male supremacy in the U.S. and how crimes against poor people of color are not regarded as such--for example the incarceration of poor Black and Brown people, white white rich criminals roam the streets and rule the boardrooms. And how the poorest U.S. Americans with the greatest work burdens are women of color. And how women of color internationally do most of the world's hard labor. And how white men can travel internationally to rape and purchase human beings of color in order to repeatedly rape them, as they wish, with no consequence. And how white het men profit by producing material that depicts the rape of trafficked women and girls, and that material is protected as their speech, and is not seen as a human rights violation of the classes of people so raped and trafficked.

And how men's rape, beating, selling, and murder of women in intimate relationship to the men is not opposed by men, except by a few voices, most of them not organised to do anything at all about stopping rape, beating, selling, and murdering of women. Some of these men are fathers, some are boyfriends, some are husbands. Some are other relatives of the girls and women. In the U.S. only wealthy people can buy and sell other human beings and if you're paying attention, that means white men, generally and usually.

Along with all of that, the media will not report on any of this in any accurate, honest, truthful, or sustained way, with any radical perspective at all. This means, essentially, the mass media owned by the rich will not tell the rest of us about it as a social-economic-political problem, and as a human rights violation issue. Liberal to Conservative viewpoints dominate the airwaves which in no way threatens the people with the most power, who own the media and basically controls U.S. citizens know. It could report the truth and encourage organised activism, but it doesn't because that's not in the interests of the major corporations, the wealthiest U.S. Americans, or the shareholders of those companies.

Amidst this crisis--which is very much an on-going and rather desperate crisis for the poor and working people. Most of us in the U.S. cannot afford health coverage or care or medicines needed for the conditions like depression and anxiety and the diseases caused by diets coercively fed to us through advertising media. Just note how many times a day you see commercials for processed foods, for foods with sugar and other simple carbohydrates which create diabetes and heart disease. We are being bombarded with messages that we must eat sugar and also lose weight--and the corporate (advertising, entertainment, and "news") media owners don't call this mind-fucking the masses. We are encouraged to not take good care of ourselves as the rich get richer, as men continue to rape, beat, sell, and murder women and girls, and as the poor are tossed into prisons across the country for "crimes" that the same percent of whites and rich people will never serve time in jail for, or be charged with, or be pulled over by cops to be questioned and harassed.

Why is it, then, that feminists, anarchists, LGBTIA (I = intergender, A = asexual) activists, anti-racism activists, Indigenist activists, and environmental and anti-nuclear activists, peace and anti-war activists, and economic justice activists aren't all working together to stop these atrocities against most people, animals, the sky, the water, and the earth?

There are many plausible explanations: that dominant LGBTIA groups with media access don't really do much for anyone other than white folks, middle class and rich folks, and only those L and G and B and T folks who adhere to conservative to liberal ideas about what it even means to be Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Trans. And some of those people, along with many heterosexuals, call themselves "sex radicals". And by "sex radical" they mean being pro-prostitution (trafficking and rape of girls and women), pro-pornography (depicting and selling images and videos of the trafficking and rape of girls and women), pro-BDSM (people who sexualise domination and submission in elaborately violent ways). There's that. And there's the virulent misogyny and racism, including pro-slavery racism, and Indigenous-exploiting racism, of "radical" environmental activists. And there's the fact that if activists are Brown, Black, Asian. Arab, and/or Indigenous, they cannot get media time on any U.S. corporate media to discuss the issues, the fear, the desperation, the troubles being faced by most U.S. Americans and by people worldwide.

We have organisations that exist to assist very marginalised populations of people, like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Audre Lorde Project. But how much funding do they get from the rich? Not much.

There are various feminist groups, most of which adhere to liberal understandings of feminist activism, and actively won't support radical to revolutionary feminists or feminist campaigns, such as those to hold corporate rapists and traffickers accountable for the human and civil rights violations they commit. So there's that.

What I'm trying to get at here, is that most folks who call themselves "radical" aren't doing jack shit about C.R.A.P. And there's one more category of people misusing the word "radical" that I'll mention: people online, who blog, who call trans people bigoted, mean, and insulting names, who call women bigoted, mean, and otherwise misogynist names, who call people of color racist names, who call lesbian, gay, and bi folks homophobic names.

My question to all of you is this: How do you justify calling that behavior "radical" or "pro-revolutionary"? I'm sure many of you DO justify it, in various ways. But I just want to remind y'all that treating other human beings like shit online, on your blogs, and making fun of oppressed people, and bullying oppressed people, and harassing oppressed people, is neither "radical" or "revolutionary". Those, I'd argue, are among The Master's Tools that won't do jack shit to liberate any of us but will help ensure the collective oppressed "we" is not able to organise with one another at all, because we won't feel safe to engage with each other, because so much hate and vile commentary is being spewed by some of us against others of us.

And, bloggers, please, if you're going to call yourselves "radical", make it a point to also be organising in revolutionary, anti-status quo coalititions to stop (once and for all) CRAP from religiously dominating, raping, beating, murdering, poisoning, bombing, terrorising, and otherwise destroying the most vulnerable among us. To pick up a point made by Derrick Jensen and others, you'll note that I'm not declaring various actions against the most oppressive among us--the rich white men--to be anti-radical or anti-revolutionary. Even if those actions are considered--and they will be considered--mean, bullying, harassment, or threatening to the most powerful, poverty-promoting, war-adoring, pollution-supporting, rape-protecting, genocide-committing and otherwise violent people on Earth.

I'm asking anyone who identifies as radical who is actively and enthusiastically promoting meanness toward oppressed people, or the bullying, harassment, domination, abuse, violation, slavery, trafficking of oppressed people intepersonally, regionally, or internationally, racism, heterosexism, and misogyny, as well as genocide and ecocide, to please stop using that term in your self-description or in describing the work you are doing. And, where and whenever possible, please organise in systematic and collectivist ways with other oppressed people--who are most of us, after all--to compost C.R.A.P. before it destroys everyone and everything, taking out the most vulnerable first, or making them do the most unhealthy and humiliating work while we all collectively die.

Because just surviving and finding ways to keep people alive in systems which seek the destruction of most of us isn't enough to make one's actions radical or revolutionary in the collectivist sense, even while I do firmly believe genuine self-care by and for those of us who are oppressed is an act of radical love and ought to be practiced daily, if possible. And, speaking from experience, I know full well that's not always possible. But for those of us who have the energy and the time, let's continue working together, rather than tearing at each other's flesh, demolish each other's psyches, and crush each other's souls, metaphorically, verbally, and in so many other ways. There's nothing radical going on when we do that, if radical means engaged in collectivist, humane, liberatory action. And the Masters sure know it.