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This will be a short diary, with little or no polish.

I just woke up.  It was a long night, with dreams of being lost in a giant parking garage searching for a friend I could only get intermittently on my cell phone.  I had the transcript of a funeral, and I was trying to send it but every time I did coverage cut out.  There's more, but you get the idea.  So I needed the first cup of coffee, and that moment of awareness and calm.  I stupidly opened my browser.  And I read this.  More coffee won't make that better.

The right has attacked us as an outrage machine.  Hell, we've attacked the right as an outrage machine.  And it seems to me that we have lost the sources of our power, that by and large the news organs of the left have combined so much dross about our preferences and predilections with those things which are truly unspeakable, which shock the conscience, so that the truly terrible and simply true is just one more article, a bit of noise, a way for people who have been ill served by power to talk about the damn cops, the damn government, about our side in the endless war with the rich and the powerful.

And that is fucked up.  That is really, really fucked up.

In Power of the Powerless, one of my best loved and favorite political essays, Havel talks about the nature of individual protest.  Of standing against.  Most who stand against fall.  You take down the sign that says "Power to the People" and you lose your job, maybe your family.  People take these losses for generations, sometimes, before the conscience of a nation or the world wakes up and goes no.  And the world changes.

We are not here to convince ourselves.  We are here to convince our enemies.  Who are also human.   This is just a cry in the dark, a few pixels in wayback and UTF-8 encoded fuss.  But...I have people I know who are rich and self-satisfied and vote Republican, and people I know who are utterly oppressed by the world those rich and self satisfied have created.  And they all have consciences.  Maybe not after it all gets filtered by propaganda like Fox.  But when SWAT teams descend on poor brown people and make burning holes in little children, because 50 dollars in drugs, because that is what we must do to the poor -- that story seems more than misplaced next to all the ways in which we should eat vegetarian and this and that policy contributed to it.  Yep, sure.  But sit with it.  Stop.  

No "fuck the cops" diaries (even if I partly agree).  No direct appeals to understanding the larger dynamic, carefully calibrated to the reader who understands the big picture.  You do not make burning holes in little babies.  And I think -- said plainly, as that mother did-- there is not a soul on earth who would fail to understand that, however ready their rationale.  It does not matter if you are rich or poor or if your rationalizations follow like rain after thunder.  Everybody gets it, if only for a flickering moment.  It is wrong.

Our writing and our love seems to bend to ourselves.  The big sort is probably too far along to stop, so long as we can all afford to be apart (or rather, some of us can afford to be apart from those who can't afford much).  All the reasons are clear.  My fury this morning is to our speech.  We just fucking keep talking.  Mostly to ourselves.  And maybe eventually enough of us, people who do not follow horror with rationalization or identify with power as reflex, will be able to vote out the real weasels.  "More better democrats" -- yep.  Sure, that's strategy.  But we must also show this to those who have power.  Here it is.  And here it is again.

The thing is...the thing is...we need a place for the voices of the true and terrible things which, like a stroke of lightening, make clear to everyone, rich and poor, content and privileged, the nature of the world we have made.  Where we are not simply speaking to ourselves and those like us.  Vietnams end, the British leave India, the iron curtain falls, not just because the people power got well organized and picked good targets.   They end because we stand in front of the devil and fall and everyone, rich and poor, recognizes what is true. Because it shocks the conscience, and for the most part, even the most expedient of us do not aspire to be monsters.

Where are we to speak to this, and not merely to those of like mind?


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:22:19 AM PDT

  •  well I didn't get the tip jar in before publishing (5+ / 0-)

    but if your comment is "the rich are all sociopaths" -- just don't.  Some are.  I've known an actual psychopath.  Two actually.  And even they did not aspire to be monsters.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:23:48 AM PDT

  •  True and well stated. Keep saying this. (5+ / 0-)

    When two side cease talking to each other there is no solution but  dissolution.

    This is how divorces and revolutions happen.

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 08:04:07 AM PDT

  •  You are utterly right on every point. (4+ / 0-)

    And your message is a hard one, because it calls us ("us"? pfffft -- it calls me) to risk all for an uncertain reward to be received by those whom I may never know, just because it's right.

    It's easier to join the outrage machine and the jeering at the Other, because it won't cost me everything.

    I knew what you wrote was true before you wrote it. And I try every day to wriggle from its grasp, to put it aside.

    But rightness still stands in the conscience, saying nothing, but demanding much.

    This needed to be said. You've said it beautifully and movingly.

    If this is how you write with "little or no polish", then by all that's good, please keep doing exactly that.

    •  there's... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      this just in, arizonablue

      ...a bit of C, a whole lot of python, and some go and levedb between me and sleep tonight.  This was the essay I needed to write this morning though, myriad flaws and all.

      Every group needs communication that creates a coherent whole, right?  And god knows many people are on this site specifically because it is about getting a group on the same page, and if you wake up and work on organizing people, not on making high volume servers, then this is just throwing old fruit, and probably seems unhelpful (and likely, for reason).

      But it does seem to me that the stories that change the world are true stories.  I watch people who I love and respect post FB post after FB post of nice liberal sentiments in JPG form, and I read essays by people I respect on here which are all about the analysis, the understanding, or the anger and feelings about the fact, as Mr. Carlin said, it's a club and we're not in it.

      For a long time I felt like the best I could do was to get to Candide's "still, we must tend our garden".  I am still there, mostly -- the world is a machine to make despair and staring at it in horror is not a good way to grow a crop.  But insofar as I remain invested in blogging,  I am terribly angry that we do not tell true stories, with this amazing communication medium.  Or -- quite often we tell the true story, and we make it this or that, and we consider how we should spin it to get the most impact, and we cheer with others who share our pain.  And that's fine I guess.   Without editors it may be the best we can do.  But on sites that do have editors, they have become newspapers, with an audience.  In those "papers" -- which have the power to tell stories like the one I linked -- we take the time and attention of people who do care, who can share the authentic and straighforward and make it viral, and we occupy that time with articles which are about how We are right, basically.  How great our choices are and how evil They are.  And since I know from nearly 50 years of life that in every minute of every day there are true stories that would shock the heart and change the world, I think we are wasting our time and our opportunity.


      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 08:50:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're on the right track (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jessical, arizonablue

        The problems you raise in your last paragraph are ones that you confronted well in your diary: you took as core an incendiary and all-too-common story, but wrapped it in your essay's moving call to see it differently.

        As you say, there are stories that shock the conscience every day. And every Kossack is a publishing house of one who can wrap each of those stories in a call for all of us to be something better than a tribal outrage machine, as you did. And, if I take your essay rightly, repetition (even Sisyphean repetition) is just part of the job.

        I don't hand out a lot of writing compliments. Your diary excels not in a teacher-will-like-this kind of way, but in its power to move people (well, me, at least) with words. I would hope that you don't spend a lot of time thinking about how it could be polished, but rather about what within it has the power to move people.

        Your endorsement of Power of the Powerless will get me to read it within a month. The fact that it was first published as samizdat is all the more intriguing.

        And buck up: you could be spending the day in C++, you know.

        •  :} (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          this just in, arizonablue

          C++ is what I do, mostly.  I'm not lead on this.  An embedded C guy is.

          The Havel is a gem.  It's very much an Eastern European perspective from a time and place, and he is as cursed with digressions on culture as was Thoreau about the price of lumber.  But I definitely found it worth reading to the end, and then again.

          ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

          by jessical on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:12:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  incursions into new audience areas is important (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    this just in, jessical, arizonablue

    although for me it's unclear that writing a column elsewhere using my DK web address has enough gravitas (yet)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 12:15:40 PM PDT

    •  I don't do gravitas :} (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But then you knew that.  I just want more individual stories and less cheerleading and analysis, generally.  Or maybe I just woke up and read something hideous and had a fit.  

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 02:59:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If this was at all true, we wouldn't live in this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, arizonablue

    land of unfathomable riches surrounded by crushing desperation and inequity.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:50:22 PM PDT

    •  But we do move forward (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have seen the way people step up as allies in every walk of life.  We've seen great social changes, for all the falling back.

      I'm not sure what you think I was saying.  Just because your opponents espouse a hideous ideology does not mean they are all immune to the truth or that the ideology can't be shattered.  People turn to ideologies for all sorts of reasons I think, from outright greed and rottenness to a genuine need for the story that the ideology tells.  And truth has power, and I wish we spent more time there, and time we spend cheering our team is time in some ways time gone.   I wasn't trying to say more than that, and probably didn't succeed in that much.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 04:13:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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