The Sentiment Market and Killing It

After a little way’s into USA network’s premier of Mr. Robot in 2015, the feeling began to crystallize for me and probably others.

I just began restarting a personal blog. My political tendencies were taking shape around my commitment to Internet freedom and the greater hacker community influenced by the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Scared shitless that copyright goons would seize my parents’ router, I immersed myself deeper in the culture to build up a pseudo-militant persona.

I got the first four episodes after an Internet friend kept pressuring me. Before that I only saw one image, later to be seen on different cringe threads. “OUR DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN HACKED,” superimposed over Rami Malek’s hooded face.

Not long after walking away having enjoyed it well enough, I published the first real article on the blog. It seemed like a cozy blend of opposition to intellectual property cut with an acceptance of money being a concrete social thing, simply declaring that media isn’t a tangible item to be commodified. It can’t work. This made me feel steadfast and edgy but grounded and practical, probably engineered to take solace in being looked at seriously enough by everyday people, not needing to engage in significant explanations.

That was my mindset for a while, in that light of Pirate Party support and free culture vigilance. Of course, I grew to see why things I love are being threatened: Why open content and the desire and tools to expand it was scaring the shit out of the entertainment industry, weaponizing their dollars. The problem was the whole structure, the whole interwoven combinations, as well as the narrative of protecting them and ensuring their appeasement.

But looking back on that brief stint of not fully knowing where I stood economically, nor having a conception of a social stance being integral to an economic one, it brought back memories of what was dispensed my way. In them, I found an uneasiness distinct in the artificial tones playing out casually; like they couldn’t afford to pretend anymore, so they needed to adapt themselves by wearing plastic sentiments.

Mr. Robot did so by sprinkling a Fight Club rewrite with cult jargon about onion routing, GNOME, KDE and “hacking”, with a layer of corporate critical, post-Snowden conspiracy fantasy and a slice of appealing to those with emotional problems. Basically all the qualities of the cyberpunk communities I would frequent.

The conversation it must have taken beforehand seems obvious. “That linux-hacker computer-thing has a pretty sizable community online. Lets tap into it by making a TV show about hacking, evil businessmen and social anxiety.”

Immediately, its easy to know what I’m talking about in total, but it seems like this particular feature has more depth to it. There is a sincerity in things like Mr. Robot and countless other media, normally when dealing with trends or niches. But its not an advocacy of the content, instead its a mesh of (plastic) sentiments as a vehicle for richness, of allure when the intensity in scenarios is coated with a positive or heroic representation of the protagonists. The intent is normally for the same reasons as any TV or film undertaking, using these subcultures for spectacle.

However, it also attempts to sabotage the potential in politically-oriented subcultures by using their dialog and ideals for the reverse purposes. And indeed they accomplish them when million dollar documentaries about whistleblowers make their budget back, or when coverage of outcry sends ratings into the stratosphere. When it isn’t the hacker or the guerrilla fighter depicted as heartless and chaotic, their heroism is livened to such a proportion that it accomplishes a mutually opposing interest in the real world.

We can boil down the marketing of sentiments, isolated from the total spectacle, by its power in subtlety. You won’t find intimately relatable people on any TV network or social media anymore, since their only role is distraction. A break from the busy mind. But when the distraction becomes toxic complacency, and those who acknowledge it want a feeling of rejuvenating empowerment like the young beginners of social awareness and political identity, you can find little bursts anywhere that reconcile two halves which ultimately serve one. The Market, then the sentiment: the illusion of a message.

This is one of advertising’s basic survival mechanisms. People won’t care about whats being offered if it feels disconnected from their own world, so it targets as many specific types of people it can for net turnout. It used to be that popular behaviors were copied, or even lived by advertisers, and rewritten to sell. But now they’ve infiltrated deeper, attaching as many timely embellishments as possible, applying research on general social dissatisfaction within these subcultures. All to sell not only representation, but commonality, which is consequentially monopolized.

What makes the end result so plastic is how impersonal the words and images are. For things so integral to personalities, they are shouted off from unfamiliar places and meant to entice those who recognize them. For those observant of this process, it has an Uncanny Valley effect: Relatively agreeable dialogs or situations depicted in contrived environments, rather than playing out in our most familiar collectives, muddles the original texture. For others, when facing the monopoly on cultural representation, there is little choice but to consume its products and enjoy the most of the stories possible, instead of feeling right about the representation in equal measure. To watch yourself be played out by another instead of grasping the actions yourself.

To put it all together, the traits of socially relevant subcultures are accounted for and implemented into commodities and advertisements, which have a corrupted similarity to their source material. We are subjected to deeply engineered versions of our own passions. This is probably why those who enter into a subculture through the contrived channels experience higher fascination when entering the personal spaces, even experiencing feelings of inadequacy, limited belonging.

Inversion of the market by some degree of non-profit causes are not exempt from this. They have the same stench, coming from the same batch of trendy gloss. The framing is distinctly impersonal, held at a distance between viewer and speaker with a long cord of familiarity traveling the length.

The adverts by TruthOrange made it perfectly clear to me. I knew of the typical picture of suits in a boardroom calculating loss and subdividing, but their anti-smoking ads made up entirely of twenty-year olds and Trap music in the background allowed me to peer into those rooms and almost taste the words on their lips. Beat for beat, I knew the formula at the first second.

“If we make our characters young, black, sassy and loud about social issues, talking about ‘recent studies’ and ‘the supreme court’, we can hook onto that burgeoning niche with an appeal to realness.”

It becomes obvious that its not a matter of changing the approach to creating media “for” or “about” such interests. There is not any adequate means of offering groups what they want that can’t generate plastic sentimentality. Its a consequence of market necessities mass filtering socially relevant passions and dispensing hollow spectacles. The sentiments must be well earned, derived from the groups alone.

The gap between the continuation of hierarchies and people’s needs and desires soon becomes marketed. Something new becomes obvious, so they bank on it — possibly a quelling tactic. Resistance itself, the concept, is now a casualty to advertising and plastic moving images, totally displaced from intimately building transformation on a given scale. In its place are those plastic tones in the form of hashtags and mass produced protest signs. Now they’ve run their course for so long, that we begin living them.

You see democrats calling for “resistance” to Trump, but in the fashion of Love not Hate without any praxis whatsoever.

You see people in the streets demonstrating for minimum wage increases with an attitude only suitable for toppling the wage system entirely.

You see clenched fists implemented in political parties and safe, impersonal non-profits.

Of course, its foolish to suggest that large scale, genuine sentiments can break through under capitalism. Its for that reason that “indie” media or other highly contained items are distinguished from all the rest, always proving the model of the adorable little hundred dollar movie that tried. From this, we can derive that fully realized passions not debased by market intrusion is tightly bound up in social revolution.

For gaining the strength to build a true, militant culture free of interference, my hopes are in the inner-city apartment blocks. In the neighborhoods behind the construction sites. In the rural clusters of homes in Appalachia. Where material sorrows exist, there is a young person working to relay anarchy to the dejected. Where there are obscure inclinations toward a better personal network, there is a community who shares them. There is no place or people where trust is stronger, where faith in self-determination and actualization is more defined, and certainly more plausible.

The act of uprooting planned culture through self-organized media outlets, cultural hubs and social structures in the present is probably the right start for revolt entirely. Not simply to keep it healthy for a time, but also to nourish its roots now so they can grow deeper when the scorched earth is removed. And even then, it certainly goes a little deeper as I see it.

People actually building a society within the current one with its own priorities and decisions, negating the ones issued to them, is the general direction. I think people should get to a point where they aren’t working jobs or paying rent or bills or taxes pertaining to the outer, private and public society, but pursuing their existence contextual to what communities they themselves have erected. If they can fend off repression and infiltration sufficiently, they can grow out and revitalize what they keep from the old world.

Among their defense networks and coordination assemblies, there are well-earned, non-contrivedsentiments springing from people’s intimately connected expressions in the pursuit of autonomy. They become the social vessel for what is being enlarged by the voices in the streets. The voices are critical and hopeful, the adapted essence of the situationists for what they themselves adapted to.

Our challenge, this particular one, is in the monopoly on commonality. The brands, TV and Internet markets hold the reigns of trust, given total guidance over our passions (themselves not in our control) or warping what we’re slowly realizing. Meanwhile, we distrust those who most deeply share the ills of class society or the significant issues in a common area.

The continual pressure doesn’t offer many options without dressing up the same melancholy. We wallow in the romantic misery of being oneself in a society of strangers who walk and talk kind of like us, inventing a new pride in being the real thing. Or, we dethrone the channels of impersonal adaption which alienate our passions and aspirations from ourselves and our experiences in the hope of total self-determination.

The Sentiment Market and Killing It

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community

Our communication avenues are killing us, and we’ve turned them on ourselves. In this sense, I mean that the foundational object for communicating between each other in leftist and anarchist spaces is becoming a mere excuse to make inter-community conflict the primary engagement.

This isn’t to suggest that people only use politics for an excuse to participate in drama nowadays, but our sense of importance in specific things oscillates in a terrible and counter-productive way that maintains a loose connection with our politics to justify itself. The lines between a minor schism and the fate of our persuasions blur, speedily producing a community hysteria that is fully realized when our comrades become estranged in the fractures of the situation when it reaches critical mass.

In the events leading up to late last year, online leftist communities did a very good job of stoking its flames to burn themselves to the ground in hopes of building themselves up.

The frustration against the dominant political and social hierarchies tends to create an inner and outward act of aggression. This means that in the process of attacking one’s enemies, the allies — the comrades, are also significantly harmed or indistinguishable. The body of power-wielders executes decisions in such a careless and frantic manner that all are caught in the crossfire.

The socialism subreddit (/r/socialism) made a perfect example of this in late 2016. Through top-down word policing that included paternalizing the health and conduct of neurodivergent and disabled people, they managed to become a sort of online DPRK, interestingly. By squeezing language and conduct so tight that nobody could clench their anus wrong without receiving a ban, they closed themselves off from the very source of their purpose and did an outstanding job of ensuring that nobody will want to participate there again.

The model of decentralized pockets of speech and assembly is the ideal and perhaps essential approach of self-organized communities. This counters the notion of free speech everywhere, which even ardent advocates would be horrified to see realized.The actions of /r/socialism, however, were hopelessly irresponsible for such a model.

For one thing, in the present hierarchies, people are generally familiar with a sort of wide-open “market” of communities, for lack of better words, wherein different sections offer different things, but within the general market there is a custom of “people can say what they want.” While in this custom, there is a crucial period of weening people away from an all-encompassing obligation to servicing everyone’s ideas, and bringing them to an important suggestion: “would you allow anyone at all to say anything at all at your own party or gathering? If not, thats exactly what we’re doing here.”

This is crucial because it really changes what curious newcomers thought about discussion. It easily shows that yes, you wouldn’t like someone with opposing ideas always allowed to badger you and your friends who think differently. This is not to say that you would never debate that person or step outside your own community, but you would default to doing so in a place that explicitly facilitates or welcomes such activity. Always being welcome to do that anywhere is simply annoying.

How we coordinate this in vision and fact is to think of it as an actual community, and to take it seriously as such. The way to make this work on mainstream platforms is to use moderation and administration roles in the same rotating, limited and retractable ways as delegation in physical assemblies. This way we can enforce the agreed, democratically managed statutes of the community through trusted members occupying a subsection of the total membership, and not a specialized tier of managers.

This is where /r/socialism failed. They’ve always appeared to operate on a sort of vanguardism that made party-like tiers and higher sections necessary. It was relatively tolerable, however, until new moderators came aboard and began enforcing strict and ridiculous rules regarding ableism and catgirlswithout community clearance, essentially alienating contributors from overseers. This put everyone in an awkward and uncomfortable place. Neurodivergent people like myself, who were pressured into conforming to the speech mandate, became so stressed over the change in environment that the expressed idea to be welcoming became an inverted, bastardized idea of what doing good looked like. “Just change who you push away and everything will be fine.” Even though you’re just shuffling which disabled people you’re kicking out.

This is precisely why feedback needs to be continuous between participants and those entrusted with certain positions like administrators and moderators. And sadly, if not a sweeping act of frantic autocracy, we end up manufacturing multiple frenzies that interlock and build a multifaceted body of decay. A kind of microscopic shredder for a once good community overtaken by whatever everyone is screaming about, influencing a migration or even a dropout from the total cause.

This is probably the most unfortunate fact of the Internet. With so much possibility, it doesn’t always work in our favor, often pushing us into awkward positions. But if anyone knows anything about me, they know this is all to say that our direction is tremendously off course, not that we should abandon platforms on the Internet.

The problem as it seems to me is that we’ve centered our hope in the Internet following the changes in our world, which is an awful tactic for such a massive social vision as anarchism or leftism to adopt. The Internet, as both an advantage and a detriment, is fundamentally separate from human nuances. To think for a moment that we can exchange ideas sufficiently through dehumanized arrangements of letters is absurd, let alone manage an effective movement.

Communication online is a convenient yet faulty device for our language, and language, words, are somewhat disconnected from overall communication. With real and genuine conversations, we find essential indicators of tone, gesture, emotion and fixed context that make one sentence or phrase mean totally different things under minuscule differences. This is the disparity between online and physical interaction that cannot be rightfully fixed under the current direction. Online communication is the provisional answer to distance and language barriers, yet the eventual gain in numbers and actions demands a physical realization of what we’ve developed over the Internet.

From this approach, if we want to escape our problem, we require the use of online spaces to act as an extension to a greater center of engagement, rather than the Internet being that greater center while physical engagement is the extension; a reversal. I suppose I could dial this back as well. If using them in tandem becomes too difficult or just devolves back into the same problem, we could consider using them reciprocally. What was left undone in one sphere is noted and completed in the other.

Ultimately, we need to reclaim a self-discipline of what is functionally important to the cause of anarchism and anarchist communities, and what is merely inconsequential and sometimes destructive quarreling over something disconnected. The discipline needs to take place in getting a hold of ourselves: not to close off discussions for change, but to get face-to-face with them, thoroughly measure whats going on, and not just initiate a referendum out of custom. To limit what enters our directing community sectors like the decision-making process or the general assembly based on the situation and the number of perspectives on it. Sometimes a disagreement is just that, and needs no such advancement into a rule of the association. Acting in this way is the best bet for creating new conflicts and tangles to resolve later.

This involves distinguishing the levels of overall community action on an issue, leaving certain scopes of engagement up to individuals alone, and actually utilizing our commitment to non-hierarchy even in services that run on hierarchical features, such as forums, group chat platforms and social media (don’t use those top-down features. Ever.)

At this point we start to see a need to reevaluate our self-governance. The issue is not just the vehicle for our communication and its downfalls, but our own downfalls too. We acknowledge oppression and trade methods of combating its appearance in our communities, but we often fix those methods to inflexible actions propped up by the dehumanized face of digitalized language. A whack-a-mole of moderation. In the pursuit of adjusting ourselves for others, we end up swapping out who is disadvantaged rather that making balanced compromises.

Call-out culture just makes our own brand of coercion to act proper before peers instead of actually learning from mistakes and feeling comfortable in what we do. If we’re to look at the minor blunders of comrades and resolve them while staying friends, we need to take on a smart approach to making a solution essential to the problem. Disciplinary solutions in their scope and aggression need to be proportional to the offense given, not a fixed action.

The call-out only appears to be effective, or at least justified, if we’re dealing with someone in power or someone expressly bigoted. In simpler terms, you have to know who your friends are. Who you can tap on the shoulder, talk to in a heart-to-heart way and point something out; a call-in. And then there’s knowing who aren’t your friends: who you can loudly condemn to the same extent they’ve caused harm; calling them out. You simply have to make those distinctions and really look at the offense to determine what is the right action. To quote Asam Ahmad:

Paying attention to these other contexts will mean refusing to unleash all of our very real trauma onto the psyches of those we imagine represent the systems that oppress us. Given the nature of online social networks, call-outs are not going away any time soon. But reminding ourselves of what a call-out is meant to accomplish will go a long way toward creating the kinds of substantial, material changes in people’s behaviour — and in community dynamics — that we envision and need.

Default aggression only fosters the strain and friction later to come, and in a way it is privileged in of itself. People who have real issues with communication (on top of speaking on the Internet) often seek human connections and validation online, where they feel safe and can adequately make friends. Here, their impairment can still slip through and create a misunderstanding. Things like these are important to keep in mind when finding something objectionable, as well as the context which can indicate if the offense is intentional or a mistake. Again, this is where calling in is useful.

To encourage mindful evaluations of certain speech and ideas, be conscious of context and actively oppose unilateral policing is how we create not only the ideas but also the facts of our future. To reiterate, this is not the approach to everything. People still have a fundamental right to dismantle grossly bigoted or authoritarian speech as the need arises, but to suggest that such aggression and vigilance is required all the time is what creates the tensions that scare away honest comrades who are capable of the same mistakes we all are.

To do all this that does justice to our tendency, we need to exercise this power in a horizontal, flexible manner.

Its all our cross to bare. No single class of admins or mods can be blamed, we all need to take initiative and be the change. Afterall, we did all this. We built the communities, shared the ideas, brought people in. We let it fall into disrepair, inverted what we preached, let irresponsible people take central power.

Its our choice, we must decide if we’re up for idiotic schisms to fragment us until our only option is resetting or death, or if we want to approach issues and the very nature of our engagement differently, humanely; and quite possibly save ourselves and the world in the process.

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community

Making the Best of Better

Along the [ongoing] process of figuring myself out, that is, gaining the existential foothold to work through life in what comes natural, I figured out that I took a lot of direction from the people who lived bits and pieces of what I was encountering. They more or less built their observations on a similar problem that could be applied to something I was mulling over or struggling with, and finished with a grinning, careless retraction back into the tornado. I could never tell if that attitude was the signature of experience and bravado, or a defeated scoff of “I’m already dead, but I may as well keep going.”

Very quickly it became apparent, in a curious and morbid coincidence that always frightened those whom I told, that those who I found most humanity and sincerity in where those who truly gave it their all, and immediately afterward, through whatever circumstances — emotional, mental, legal, financial, — found it prudent to take their own lives right at the end of their peak or the middle of their downward spiral.

I have an odd relationship with the sentiment of suicide much more than the act. The act is a functional taboo, but the sentiment is a vast and rich ocean of reasons because it underpins all we do — even the disdain of it means something. The awful, mournful turn in our stomach connects to the cruelties we strain ourselve to ignore which caused a death, instead encouraging people to talk about their problems which have no words to satisfy one faction in the no-win situation of simply being done.

Its only right that we don’t leave it to one hypothetical factor, that the possibilities and torments could have been plenty and overlapped significantly for those who did it. We can never properly appraise if it worked or not. But my approximation is that all these factors could have been under one emotion or sense of the change in the wind that influenced a finishing of both their life and work as one.

Let’s imagine something. What different outcome of his life could we derive if Di Vinci’s best work wasn’t lost in any great fire in Florence, but was displayed perfectly all through the world and simply invalidated; rejected? What would be worse for him and better for us?

The sheer energy from all human reserves can only churn out so much, and only so much can exist in the social and spiritual fabric of each other’s collective web of purpose, meaning, whatever… to comply with the point, the germ, the seed of the creation from those human reserves. The creator works in hopeful blindness, without clear reason or measure. Above all, overarching those factors was the noncompliance of the social fabric with the human output. That your work was unrequited or made for the entirely wrong audience.

So if you made the best thing for the right audience, but it was all lost to the flames, is that really so much a loss compared to your own personal masterpiece, with all the right combination of words and aphorisms to save the world a thousand times over, written in your own language separate from any other human tongue? Imagine coming up with a cure for cancer in the stone age and try keeping any hope.

It became clear after years of sleepless nights and aching, dark-eyed mornings that its a lie and a curse to be any kind of “best.” I never strove to be a best, and I think I’m still working to justify both why I can’t be one and why thats the best thing to settle for. For one thing, “best” is effortlessly subjective. Your best is not Tom in Ohio’s best or Linda in New Mexico’s best. And if its not someone else who you imbued with being the best, its yourself. Setting the goal for yourself to be the best, or a best, is how you guarantee failure in yourself and corruption in your work. The drive clouds the input and perpetuates that for everyone else, making a fickle social fabric that only the worst people will benefit from. The reason for this still perplexes me, but my best answer for now is that most people just have terrible taste and judgement.

Now, don’t get the idea that you should set out to fail in order to succeed, because reverse engineering the cycle won’t work. You won’t reach your destination by driving in the wrong lane. Its apparent that valid participation requires playing by the same rules that contradict what we intend to get out. The only road to travel on to the only destination claims so much from our work along the way. To accomplish what I want, the solution is to change course.

By saying that, I’ve been invalidated, outed from everyone else. Creative people and communities strive to be the best at the same time and its just one race without a finishing line. Any other model is a fantasy to them. Institutions, jobs and coevals all have a winning and loosing spectrum that basically defeats the validity of people being themselves for being the best.

But even if you get to that in some way, the title invalidates any substance and contradicts a “best”. Even if you’re the most honest and substantive figure in a field, you’re still only seen as the best and not the most substantive person. Rank defeats merit always. The way things are set up won’t settle for less than a rigorous passion to what you do. Anything else makes it a mere “hobby”, simply because the quota for dedication and procedure wasn’t met.

Best only finds a way to kill itself. Best doesn’t last, a new one comes along and it happens so easily that you’d think its programmed to do that. So my goal became to subvert the robotic instruction of catching fire and being rained on. To become a different element that can withstand, but also be relevant on my own terms.

I simply want to act in what capacities I presently have, and make the most of what I can produce. To matter because of what I can easily do to with a clear, working mind; and for the content to stay fresh with time and comply with the social and spiritual fabric of our various sense of meaning.

Its probably impossible to separate this particular angle in my own conscience from different issues, but since my developments in looking at social systems generally, my contention stays the same in all matters, including how content and merit flows: That there isn’t a vertical structure of bests and mediocre types, but a level playing field of autonomous and unique entities sharing their anti-best sentiments in harmony.

Coffeeshop open mic nights and workshop readings are probably the best places to see this play out. Theres real community there, real mutual appreciation and security because there is no best or competition in sight. Contrast this with the unspoken bonds of writing on a certain subject among ten or fifty other people, or trying to become poetic in a new way.

But it isn’t out of any romanticized vision of the underdog that leads me in this direction as much as a desire to have my cake and eat it too. To be a sort of Wallace or Swartz or Thompson, and the suicide is instead a peaceful retreat in my confinement where best doesn’t have power, ideas can traffic in and out of me, and leaving that place lets me know that we’re all just creating and sharing like an infinite commune of doers according to our ability with every bit being important.

Call it a cheap study in mediocrity or a disgruntled young creator among a thousand other hapless fucks rushing to the next unclaimed special point in culture, but it all comes from appraising what the cycle is for me: what drives me to do—and what I do to put back in it. If I could formulate any meaningful change, it would be where the ambition and the content bounce off each other instead of content alone being the gamble. People won’t evolve to read minds or archive the emotions of the guy who wrote his seminal novel, but they can value the best of all the individual puts in, than appeasing a best within the whole. Where everyone can become better, and not the best.

My guess at the end of all this is that those creators who took their lives were experiencing the realization against bests and greats as a component of the social and spiritual fabric, but also an impossibility in reconciling a substitute form of expressing ambition. Additionally, with the other problems they were confronted with, having the projected meaning of their life and work as nothing important or valid to the public, they caught that infamous train we’re all compelled to by being revolted by it.

Existential crises, creative insecurity, conformity and invisibility. They mix and build the worst barriers between an idea and breaking through. Instead of driving through those barriers and failing when you’re killed in the crash, let’s just go around them. Let’s be better, and avoid best.

Making the Best of Better

A brief, opinionated overview of Democracy and Anarchy

I use the phrase democracy, when describing an alternative social assortment, to refer to people managing themselves on a shared horizontal basis. Doing this is rather controversial in anarchist discussion, because there are recent critiques on the role, meaning and consequences of what has historically been attributed to ‘democracy’. Especially, when considering the different implications raised in advocating an apparently fixed system while affiliating with those opposed to hierarchy and imposed order.

The debate around ‘democracy’ in anarchist circles comes down mainly to semantics and practice. The former covers the abstractness of the word, including the perspective that it has historically developed into a sort of facade to entice the masses into an incorporated tyranny that imposes the will of the majority on the minority, instead of consolidating voices and meeting them equally. With this in mind, there is an idea that it can only be exercised along these lines. The latter questions the positioning of a process once defined: if such a process is central and overarching to all portions of a society like in nation-states, or if its freely carried out by the agreement of individual groups.

The first step is to express the actual nuance of what I mean. For starters, I don’t argue for a definite political shape, but I do advocate definite principles by which something might take one. I don’t even argue for voting toward a majority [by default] (I think in the worst-case scenario, its necessary for resolving a severe dispute), but I do encourage a mix of valuing our concerns equally through consensus with an understanding that we know when to consent to entrusting temporary power to someone on our immediate behalf when a situation calls for it.

The second is to emphasize not a defense of democracy as any system but as a descriptor. It is used to condense an idea of participatory politics that is bound to emerge in people not alienated by status or privilege. We can easily imagine ‘democracy’ stripped down to its core idea separate from the historical corrupted practice. Does it really matter if the origin of democracy, the idea that people can rule themselves, is one of contradiction and folly? Does it matter with any idea that became a basis for politics in the future? We don’t seem to mind that a lot of the forerunners of anarchism had various contradictions of opinion because of the time in which they wrote, and so it doesn’t add up to me to apply this concern then to a label for some sort of self-direction, even if an imperfect one. I don’t think it hurts to repurpose the face of a clear idea that hardly ever had its time in the sun because the guy who happened to introduced it first acted on it in terrible, oppressive ways.

There are infinite ways to approach and define democracy in the same sense there are ways to define and approach anarchy/ism. We’re talking about a notion of how things interrelate, or should, and the outline of accomplishing something around that. This often doesn’t come with a prescribed set traits that the pillars of action need, taking for instance how leftism doesn’t narrow to one or two schools. We’re left to expand these notions as we go along with action, and with continuous action comes the changed impression of it, such as an interpretation of democracy.

We can probably spend days on end taking one feature used in a political program, dissecting its aim, history, causes and effects and relaying it to the present aim we’re invested in. We can do that to anything. We can take self-determination and turn it into a fascist concept because Hitler advocated a sort of nationalist, white self-determination. In the same way, we already know how bastardized ‘freedom’ has become thanks to the capitalist, patriarchal narratives of the United States. What matters is using terms and ideas in a general proximity to our actual aim through context and elaboration. No one idea is ours or the enemy’s, but its up to us to give it an alternative practice.

We’ve simply arrived at one set of analyses that sees democracy as a holistic product of the nation-state which gravitates toward being an overarching, unportable mode of tyranny in the pursuit of deciding on an action via majority. The problem is that me and those who think this way have been talking about the same thing.

I can and will contend that democracy in the forms people are most acquainted with developed out of a softening of protecting tyranny on other fronts. It didn’t develop out of liberation, but as a way to make control more appealing and imbued with the social romance of participation, and it certainly didn’t take into account a fundamental emphasis on communal autonomy that we desire now. It stemmed from monarchy and oligarchy and thus inherited a good deal of those undertones, which is seen in the credence of majority-rule. But my defense isn’t really about defending democracy, if that makes any sense. Its about defending a way to explain a complex approach in one analogous word or comparison.

Additionally to this is the adjective direct. Direct democracy is another example under this; there is the Swiss quasi-direct democratic model (in which citizens partly take the place of representatives) that is championed by various progressives in American politics, and there is the kind of direct that is theorized, and even practiced, but not the staple of ideal democracy as a diverse body. One that strives for consensus and cooperation rather than a chattering box of winners and loosers. One that is unmitigated and spontaneous in it being compelled only by the result of a freely taken participation. One which makes a viable case that the anarchist objections to so-called ‘democracy’ are actually objections to oligarchy and opportunism, and not what was actually stolen from us by these barriers.

I am, of course, referring to the deliberative and federal structures that existed in the social revolutionary experimentations of different areas in the world at one point or other. Direct takes on a different form in this sense. It departs from a suggestion in the word alone that the workers directlyengage in a competitive environment of how they ought to do things without representation; a glamorized distancing from solidarity. Instead it envisions that we are directly connected to, and responsible for, the situations we find ourselves in and the steps we take to accomplish things, thus sustaining the reciprocal autonomy of the collective and the individual. Direct suggests the residents, the workers: the anarchist conception of the demos (everyone), are the direct cause and effect of collective action; that there is no fixed destination to strive for as the intermediary, but a goal constantly evolving with the actions of those taking part.

The social vision remains precisely the same while the use of terms contrast. It can never be guaranteed if we mean the same thing when our preferences for words are so diverse.

Probably the most popular contrast I’ve encountered is that we should not have democracy, but anarchy. And while this is completely true for the overarching condition where free decision-making can flourish, we are still subject to define some practices inside the existence of real possibility. We are referring to the existence of any decision-making practice under anarchy. Its through democracy, any process of shared self-management, that anarchy is given meaning and the actual channels to exercise itself. In this sense, when one advocates a direct form of democracy they are necessarily advocating the enveloping condition of anarchy. But the need for anarchy is satisfied through more than just that. Its accomplished by the existence of varied and decentralized methods. Moreover, there cannot be anarchy without an association to confirm that suggestion for themselves.

If someone is looking for a home, that is the guiding condition which will be satisfied by the acquisition of one. But they cannot have acquired a house without it possessing some property of color, shape or size. They then become in possession of a home as the satisfaction of the need, but there is a set of other characteristics that becomes part of the scenario. This is what I’m talking about when I mean democracy. Its the adjective to first describe the closest familiar type of a just arrangement of affairs, and then an extended guiding principle from that understanding to avoid accidentally describing central, enveloping democracy rather than anarchy with autonomous structures under it.

People right now happen to think in terms of Democracy or Dictatorship. That doesn’t mean I reduce my own language and understanding for their sake, but I do place self-management to what its closest to when having to describe anarchist principles to everyday people. Thats how I got where I am, and I have a habit of passing on the same thing when I have the chance to inform people. Again, what matters most is elaborating your use of terms in hopes to disarm conflicts of connotations.

I think we’re simply facing a tangle in deconstructing everything, meanwhile people like me have grasped what they meant before anything was said. It seems the no-democracy types are addressing the liberal idea of more citizen-participation in the state instead of a situation where individuals, free of class and social authority, are the cause of organizations and decisions directly. But there is a tendency for dialogs to recurse and inadvertently become a critique of its own idea utilizing sometimes confusing points which we already sympathized with.

If we need to level with each other, fine: I’m not defending democracy. Certainly not the state attempt at it, the majority-only approach, the replacement for individual autonomy or the liberal direct concept. But I am defending the use of it as a vehicle to convey our proposed modes of organizing and acting. Democracy is overall a figure of language. Its pliable and abstract, something no term is free of. But knowing this, we should not distance from it. We should acknowledge it’s use to explain similar principles that the anarchists take into deeper consideration. It just so happens that there are different historical and political tragedies that we share in being connected to the principles done differently. We share this issue in our conceptions of freedom, equality and liberation that differ from other philosophies, and simply put: it doesn’t seem reasonable to hold contempt for an impression of a concept we are otherwise tied to as anarchists.

If democracy is a word anarchists are uncomfortable with, they are welcome to harp on about autonomy, horizontality and self-determination ‘only’, and while those are the exact principles I advocate through a popular figure of language, they shouldn’t expect newcomers to be too open and patient with them when they feel like someone is speaking an entirely different language to them. And thats really all this comes down to. Its not about advocating democracy or autonomy, its about the two being synonymous in a certain context, and unfortunately about people wasting their breath when they could just use one word.

A brief, opinionated overview of Democracy and Anarchy

Who are the real “Cucks”?

Perhaps a slightly dated subject considering its assimilation into expectation, but certainly overdue in the wake of recent events, the components that make up the discourse around the Trump presidency, its offspring movements and the resistance to them are new instances of how overall society views existing power and notions of counterpower.

In sum, we are talking about the competition between contentions, and the nature of why people hold them. All past decades have experienced this same thing, even past centuries. The only questions are whether the closest thing to a side’s demand is reached, or if the spectacle itself will shift society onto a different course. Right now is the specific debate around who is more justified to oppose a contention that opposes something relating to the first opposition in question; e.g., anti-fascism.

In conjunction is the present nature of the means to carry on this conversation, specifically, of course, the way its carried on through the Internet. At this point, we’re all familiar with the Internet’s historical and often times much needed cynicism towards big ideas and pandering. This attitude has often been responsible for more good than harm as seen in pre-2010 mobilization against private malice (the occupy movement) and secretive institutions ruining people’s lives (Scientology).

This cynicism was used with a goal, normally with an idea of correcting a specific institutional wrong, in mind. It wasn’t a set of full-fledged social justice causes, but simple action against blatant assholes getting away with whatever they were doing. A yearning among teens and young adults to make a difference and organize over the Internet became a force no longer scoffed at as it was before web 2.0 was effectively in place. People were taking on activities that people across the moderate political spectrum could unite on, and in a sense this moderate normalization set the stage for what was to come when we reached the mid to late 2010s.

A considerable portion of online communities, mainly those who grossed over 10,000 active participants, have at that time been farther right than center-right at worst, farther left than center-left at best. Niche corners of full right and left-wing could be unearthed with a little effort in finding them, but they wouldn’t be discovered right away. Eventually one side (invested in broader social justice) showed their colors in proposals to explicitly tackle bigotry, universally crude behavior and economic inequality for the betterment of all. This was met with reaction by those committed to the moderate section of online politics as they jumped to the other side in an effort to balance the scales, seeing it as a departure from centrism and moreover an attack on those a little more to the right.

Without completely rehashing the story everyone’s already seen play out, this festered and grew into the present centrist outcry against a principled and detailed political fort, and because it was the left that spoke up first, to balance those imaginary scales, they allied with the enemy of the newly found enemy. In the name of that moderate section — in the neo-classical liberal fashion, they sided with the right against the evil left, who apparently sought to take away straight, white men’s free speech and oust them from society.

This raged on for a short while. Gamergate, safe spaces, video essay battles, “alt” online communities, Terabytes worth of twitter arguments and people monetizing the whole show were logs on the fire. It was the left versus the right, with centrist Rationals™️ backing the right and so the two blurred together. As they saw it, the right was the victim: If the left had simply stayed complacent with everyone being committed to non-involvement in substantive issues beyond what they were used to, everyone would be happy. If they had sat quietly as prejudice and wage slavery was as casual an occurrence online as in everyday life, everything would be just fine. Dissent was okay; as long as it was an approved sort of dissent.

And in time, Trump happened. It was probably the succession of what the online conflict had been building up to, no doubt influencing the outcome, but more so it was confirmation of a fearful reactionary response to impotent liberal ventures. The delirium among tragically deluded working class white men angry at basically nothing propelled itself, or provided a reason to keep going. For a response to further drive the cycle. If only we had known what it was at the time; we may have been relieved of that fad before it came to this.

Enter the “cuck”, derived from cuckold, wherein one remains committed to a promiscuous lover. Although in Internet socio-political banter, it’s used to illustrate one who sacrifices all self-respect in the name of a political ideal and its related tendencies. It had been formed prior to Trump in the reactions to isolated cases of left activity, eventually becoming a mainstay in the “alt-right” cadre that took form in the midst of the 2016 election.

The phrase is used as a sort of intellectual weapon with the intent to weaken the drive behind an argument. In its use against the left, it asserts that the person speaking is simply whoring himself out to a cause which would satisfy him emotionally through a commitment to an idea of justice and equality, even if it means his own destruction. Stripping this down more simply, it refers to any individual with a sophisticated involvement in a set of ideas and practices.

What ignites the cuck argument is the proportion between the wellness of the individual and the wellness of the cause: to the rightist, the leftist is destroying himself to raise up the minority, the migrant, etc., and while he is being destroyed (by what they think is white genocide, degeneracy and so on), he will still be emotionally satisfied because that idea of justice was realized.

It becomes apparent that the end is self-sacrifice for an idea, or that the idea demands it. This state of affairs, it seems, cannot be set out solely on reason, but requires an emotional push to make it possible. To enable the passion and sense of meaning in the individual and make the goal viable. But when approached from this angle, we already know that the right isn’t except from this. We understand that all political contentions have varied measures of reason and emotion to build their character.

Due to the history of the right, their emotional push is self-approved as opposed to ethically approved. There was only its own set of institutions to approve anything. Being the political alignment associated with historically imposing power and economic arrangements, their reactions are mechanisms for defending what is and has been the dominant features of society, and not for any seriously needed relief from oppression. The opposition has merely shown themselves, which alone offended the dominant character of society who immediately declared war on an army without soldiers, initiating the aforementioned chain of events.

The right’s commonest insult to the left is that they pursue ideas with only “feelings” driving them. No acknowledgement of oppression based on race, gender and sexuality being integral to class struggle (our boldest concern). No mention of any elementary concepts in social theory (and even when there is mention, its reduced to it being incomprehensible or just not true). No mention of inclusion in building organizations to be what makes them sizable and effective. No distinction between liberal and leftist (which is always amusing). Simply feelings, as abstract as that is.

The ideas that the right uphold have already been applied and studied — maybe more than they should have. All their principles have been taken into account, what they advocate has not only been heard but has played out in the world for well over several centuries. There is no more room for us to debate “fairly”, their argument has already won before two sides could even meet.

Because the ideas that begot the present structures have been around long enough to study a hundred times over, we have deduced that they are not only inefficient, malicious and coercive, but obsolete. The dogma behind them has been proven to be composed of emotion, myth, speculation. The very properties they assert the left of having, all which serves emotion than practical human needs and capacity.

The arbitrary ownership over private property around which hierarchy is created. The downfall of economic competition that drives the ecosystem into disrepair and workers into perpetual servitude. The existence of police forces imbued with protecting the people while simultaneously protecting the property relations which enslave them. All this follows down to nothing. There is no end to one component that hands off to another.

How this cluster is sustained relies solely on who perpetuates it. There really is no viable justification for capitalism or state-society any longer, and whatever is done to support it is done through people continually insisting that anything else is not an option, in the name of the ingrained fantasy.

There is only a large bundle of logical facades for the comfort of the people who are born into them, and die by them. It’s what leftism serves to correct; to make a coherent body of political practice that exists only to nourish free will and well-being as one. The one tragedy is the stigma fastened to such an idea by the ruling class.

By being chained to baseless feelings, and furthermore defending baseless notions of property rights and always letting anyone say anything they want (without actually doing so), they are acting out the very thing they warn against. In this ideological relationship, there is nothing to gain but their own emotional satisfaction. Their success in making these ideas rule can only build the prison for them. For the pro-capitalist worker, to do one of two things: to build a life as an exploited pawn, or to create the property-hoarding ruling class to steal into; the so-called American dream. For the white supremacist, to forfeit limitless community and mutual cooperation for abstract ideas of racial purity, nationhood and a totalitarian apparatus to impose theses fanciful passions.

Lets not confuse ourselves here. It isn’t any passion that deludes an individual, but it rests on the passion to highlight the depth and structure to give it purpose. When an idea encompasses an individual, that will determine what actions the person takes and what they accomplish. If there is no depth, and no end to tie into another idea (to operate on a step-by-step function), the idea is simply conjecture without conclusion.

With the rightists, because it’s what they’re used to, there is no conclusion. There was never anything to strive for other than to keep the tradition and the fantasies valid in the public eye. It paid lip service to reason with such big ideas as fostering innovation, keeping the family together and obeying a deity, but it couldn’t promise any of this and indeed failed the majority when the economy tanked, drowned everyone in poverty and there was no god to save them. The only semblance of a goal then is to guard the status quo with the empires they inherited, and continue reciting the litanies of capital.

It’s through this delusion, this incoherent fantasy that oppression has been exercised. In the name of institutions that manufacture success for the boss and plastic, paper hope for working people, precious moments of our lives have been dissolved for a magnificent charade of opportunity and what they call “freedom”. Lives and dignities are tarnished for the traditional feelings of the champions of such institutions, and the ingraining of subservience and desperation into daily life has brought all these tragedies home into one reality.

Because of all this, looking at who is responsible for it and who protects it, an enemy of liberty has been defined. We are breaking down and dying because of the empty passions of a collective class of forces, and to resist them is to pursue survival.

By identifying as a rightist, [white] nationalist, capitalist or liberal sympathetic to the guardians of the status quo, one is giving consent to regular beatings from the workers: those who built the very platform from which their enemies shout off the dialog of exploitation. It’s by logical succession, in defending the cohorts of political fantasy, that they are declaring to the world that the meek and the innocents deserve to whither and die for the sake of fantasies. In this, they will get what they give.

By adhering to the narratives which casually perpetuate social hierarchy, they are agreeing to killing themselves, their class, and their own potential for the sake of the father-figure bosses whom they will never be, and the cops who keep a gun to their heads at all times, “just in case”.

Both sides can’t pursue survival when only one is in chains. When one moves, the other counters it. Conflict becomes inevitable as one force fights against the other.

The feeling is mutual, and the radical left knows this. We understand that by adhering to an idea of disjointing social coercion and moving toward united, self-managed communities as the only reality, we are painting the target on our chests. We’re on watchlists of some sort right now because we vocally advocate coordinated insurrection against state-society, the capitalist market economy and the diverse enslavement that fuels it all. We are in favor of destroying everything that intelligence agencies exist to defend, as well as subverting their grasp in the here and now. This doesn’t deter me from following this, and I don’t expect it to be different for fascists in their own goals.

With this made clear, I am not here to submit to the Rationals® by humoring their idea of balanced discussion in the name of coming to a middle point of nothingness. I am not here to respect assholes’ feelings at the expense of institutionally oppressed people. I am here to dismantle your warped idea of private property and civility, and physically transform the relations between person and society. I am here to fuck up everything you love which has caused me pain and wasted precious moments of my life and the lives of my comrades.

So I ask sincerely who we should consider the ones destroying themselves for an idea driven by emotions. Do we mock and scold the movements fighting for their lives after centuries under the boot of violent fantasy? Or do we beckon the right to explain why I and billions more must agree to feeble conventions for their passion from nowhere?

Who is really committing self-sacrifice when it’s the left who have had limits for destruction imposedon them, while all stops have been pulled out for the imposer?

Who are the real “Cucks”?

The Responsibility of The General Strike: A January 20th Manifesto

Friction is the byproduct of all social systems. The infinite forms of individuals in a shared region will always come together in a disproportionate cluster of tangles which has equal parts the ability to define or confine us. This is the ends of people and not systems. What counts above all is that our relations are disarmed of any potential to oppress if our system is a parameter to secure our own well-being and free will, and not one for imposing direction.

But never in the longest stretches of human history up until the last one thousand years have we experienced a time where friction becomes competition between classes, and where competition is funneled into a system of oligarchy which is in turn used to sustain profitable inequity defended by political litanies and cultural reinforcement. Where our system is a parameter against case-by-case needs, and moreover a broad apparatus for the elite at the expense of the many.

For the masses of people who work in full for less than half, and those among them who suffer the ills resulting from the historical inequity, their struggle is aimed at, if nothing else specifically, the possibility of freedom and livelihood.

Present society continues what has been done for centuries, only with a new face and refurbished bolsters for the bosses. In regard to the mechanics, we are not different from the serfs of the dark ages, but merely given appeasement in pay for our continued servitude. The institutions connect inward to sustain, in varying ways, the end result of wage labor and exclusive property rights, all which require a workforce not emancipated but not strictly in chains, rather coerced by dominant economic structures protected by the state. This is our current system.

As of writing, tomorrow we will ceremonially patronize a new national headmaster who will be the same bullhorn for profit and enforcement as the last forty or so in the United States. Except now it seems those at the top of the political process have made more than a Freudian slip, but a free declaration of their logical destinations.

“Ban all Muslims.” “Torture even if it doesn’t work.” “Build a massive wall on the US-Mexico border. Because, afterall, they’re rapists, they’re criminals. Some of them might be good people, but nonetheless.” The overlap in the institutions and discrimination has become undeniable, even to the ruling class, and having this realized they will make a last effort to fix their weapons on the working class with a smile. All this suppressed with appeasement, with sensation and with just enough of a supportive demographic to signal those “objective” types to try to fight fairly in an artificially unfair world.

In a way, suppressing the population has a way of destroying itself. Along with incinerating the ecosystem and driving the workforce and consumers into suicide and extinction (as an outcome of anti-democratic practices everywhere), it takes only one person to draw out the inequalities into attainable ideas to light a flame under the workers until they boil over. This manifests, among other ways, as a general strike.

For joint agreement among the working class to protest en mass the injustice that characterizes the system which sustains their exploitation and continual desperation; that is the force behind the general strike. To accomplish an idea where workers halt all service to all employers, both as a means to identify the lifeblood of a society, and to emphasize what happens when that is abused and broken beyond repair.

Historically, on both intellectual and physical battlegrounds, the general strike is a show of force, but it also contains a demonstration of capital’s consequences. It seems to bring into reality for everyone that the boss is an arbitrary formality, while the real power rests with those who perform the jobs. Even the defenders of the bosses cannot adequately shrug off the workers’ efforts. The bosses alone are the crumbled mortar of a vibrant architectural work. They must simply be outraged at the audacity of the workers for addressing their own power.

This further supports that workers are better suited to run themselves democratically. If not practically, at least logically. Though the strike is not self-management, it reflects the capacity of it. Alienation by designated, central leadership is totally absent, instead directed through free groups of the proletariat acting on group-by-group agreement. In this, we find an organic and free expression of demands, all connecting each other and effectively coordinating what has been composed in libertarian socialism.

Hoisting the bisected black and red flag over the angry masses is many things. It is a symbol of unity in anger and hope. It is a call to defiance against tyranny. It represents the revolutionary Syndicalist tradition. It is the greatest threat to the absentee owners of capital. Perhaps more importantly above all, it is a call to reorganize; a call for revolution beyond designated political and economic structures — a call for social revolution.

In dissolving the exclusive rights over production and management through organized expropriation, we dissolve the resulting imbalances that are the base of capitalism and the labor market. We restructure all of the social and cultural products under an equal arrangement by simply acknowledging from where their ills originate, and acting to repurpose what the capitalists have utilized.

The general strike is the clamor for this realization, a foretaste of it in the streets. Its various nature depends on the event or condition which inspired it. In this present case, it’s something of a unique happening. Before now, the past strikes have been solely class-oriented or politically-specific, but we seem to have combined multiple points of discourse stemming from popular outcry rooted in liberal politics, introducing the general strike idea to what can be called “the mainstream.”

Class struggle entails a greater cooperation with differently oppressed groups, as history has shown and discriminatory policy has proven. This is not a new revelation, but it is a factor that has primarily been exercised in the radical labor movement instead of liberalism. Bigotry and greed being connected, their grasp on social conditions intersects and injures everyone. The oppression of the worker affects the minority, and the oppression of the minority affects solidarity. One is not separate from the other, as struggles under capitalism come from the same place.

Class awareness has seemingly reached an all-time low in the United States, but is reaching an upswing. While liberalism dispels class anger in favor of reform, its use in channeling more radical messages cannot be overlooked, especially now. This, of course, is not to say that we should join the liberal side, but to incorporate agitation and organization wherever possible; particularly where the greatest number of people are listening.

In the wake of Trump, instead of individual legislation for progressives to rally against, they’ve found a single figure who resembles all that is loathed in the left. It’s almost comical how much Trump embodies the dominant American values that make up its political caricature, which is what liberals default to instead of class analysis, and so there is an immediate guarantee of where attention will be focused. There is undeniable potential for ideas in the current generation to be taken further in regard to where the root of these problems really are. There is a real, shared desire for potent organization and a substantive exchange of ideas beyond involvement in representative politics. An interest in alternative modes of community and economic structures, and consequently a cautiously optimistic gravitation toward social revolution which must be fostered and amplified fully.

This entire collision between a solid continuation of class struggle history and the mainstream being seized into a joint strike against fascism rests on the crossroads between success in an uprising and another lobotomized political period. A responsibility becomes too apparent.

The responsibility is a lost one — a stolen one. If any circumstantial honor among people had ever been, it was to join arms with those who are exactly like you in every way of condition and dependence. Every person already invested in a leftist perspective will need to take on a careful role of condensing the ideas and pairing them with all-too familiar experiences among liberal or apolitical workers. The stigma against a workers’ revolution must be fought continually, citing the inequities in private property, enforcement of profit by the state, the mutual relationship of greed and bigotry and the methods of anarchist democracy.

The strike must be universal. It must belong to everyone, but at the same time be united under a basic demand for social revolution. Not enriched appeasement made the basis for the same political structure, but for self-management and autonomy to surpass any limitation; to outdo what anything else could ever try. To reinvest power in those who upheld their own slavery.

Socialism or Barbarism is the evident truth. For us to meaningfully oppose Trump, we must reconcile all of our issues: those of working people, women, ethnic minorities, immigrants and LGBTQ people, under the banner of class struggle through revolutionary tactics. The state can do no justice but for the built-in protection of exploitation and alienation, for the frictions between people made a component of the system.

For freedom to be realized, we must consolidate individual freedom into collectively managed, horizontal portions of society and base our relations on trust and mutual aid. For the health of the planet, the security of our friends, family and ourselves, we must pursue and bottom-up rearrangement of society, and it starts with a General Strike.

The Responsibility of The General Strike: A January 20th Manifesto

Annual Discontent

My first hours into the New Year, 2017… I hate writing these kinds of things, because for one thing its an incredibly cheap and easy topic for any writer. Any moron with a language to work with can start one of these things and get attention for it. Secondly, I know that halfway through the year, when everything will either turn out worse than expected or take on a totally different nature (rendering prediction and analysis mere egostroking) I will feel like I wasted my energy on hope and idealism than using it for real-time commentary. However, all this considered, I didn’t do any preparation for the turn of the year, being emotionally scattered and indifferent, and so I think that gives me a better look at how things might go in the sense of just riding it through, than going into it with a set list of expectations and things to compare it to that will add insincerity to the experience.

I awoke this afternoon from sorrow the night before, and into the common bustle and noise of this place, but enveloped in a new foreboding. Even now as I write, I was totally unaware of any breaking news or trends, save some drama over Mariah Carey botching a performance somewhere. The only thing I could guarantee was changed was the 6 to 7, and the annoyance of needing to ingrain that in my mind when filling out a date field in a document. I climbed out of bed carefully, like in a new place altogether, got my coffee and sort of just shut myself out of Twitter or any other source of news, contemplating what stood before me and how I would communicate that to prose.

Lets take a second to acknowledge two concrete factors of being: 1, We don’t ask to be here, alive, in general. And 2, every person deals with that fact in vastly different ways. In the existential, adolescent sense, we sometimes make that blindingly clear to our parents when the world becomes too much. In the middle-years of adulthood, a time for reassessment of everything you got involved with as a younger person becomes unavoidable. The outlooks are bound to shift as experiences and reactions do, forming long-term conditions and emotions as we keep moving, nonetheless they are still the mechanisms for dealing with what we didn’t ask for.

In my case, every person is a representative of some company that is trying to sell me a product, and every moment consists of them telling me that with enough work, with enough effort, with enough ritualistic motivation and a healthy approach to it all, this product (life) can work out great for me. But who wants a product that you need to take constant care of, especially at this point in time? Do you want a device or an appliance that requires insane amounts of maintenance and responsibility, where all that effort takes over from the enjoyment or use? Of course not. Why then is life exempt from this standard? Is it because we fail to quantify what we can control of it, and so we surrender to inevitability and prescribe methods of dealing with that? Can we just not be bothered to change immediate and artificial difficulties, because apparently they make us stronger even when they just kill us? I have to deal with what I didn’t ask for, and when the collective attitude for dealing with a burden is more burdens, it defeats itself and then some.

All this restarts with full stamina after New Year’s eve. Both the question of what I will make out of this year, and the understanding that the time and place to make something good are totally arbitrary, collide and, if nothing else, emphasize the inescapable difficulties that we are thrust into. Its all going too fast as it is. I need a minute. Let me just breathe and hope to god the shit from last year doesn’t carry over and take shape again.

I chose to go in blind, because I think learning of yet another beloved musician’s or actor’s death or a story of the new president-elect will conjure up the bias of “here we go again” in that vein sense. So while I’m somewhat uncorrupted with whatever is currently happening, if I can convey a general sense of what I think should be the case for this new start prior to the year filling itself with continued drama, I think I can get through this well enough.

Every year I can’t help but think of the desperation and bickering that must go on in the media companies and figures responsible for providing the cultural condition of a step in time. The friction and combination of ideas in an effort to appear viable and worthy of the stature they have, to give to those waiting the attitude to follow or the new human clay to mold something out of. Their desperation, the newly found stress of this generation that haunts every one in their time in the sun, is bleeding through when the pressures on every side close in. This does two things: renders the previous product obsolete or at least dated, and gives the idea for the next. A statement or movement runs its course and lays the way for its inheritor.

I have some issues with this model. Although I generally approach problems in a linear manner, the linear order of finding the new approach is just that; the new approach… for the next approach. The distraction on itself takes over any attempt at bettering social life.

What good are new developments in anything if they’ll simply become part of the zeitgeist, and dismantled in a few decade’s time? Why do we pursue things we’ll just get tired of before we have time to rejoice? If we can’t make up our minds on principles which will remain and adapt to every smaller development throughout time, what good is there in rewinding our anger to redo what could have been done and over with a century ago?

The process is one of passion, not urgency. Each generation hates itself for being socially stagnant or sedated by individual comforts as injustice continues unscathed. But its action is simply for action alone than for urgency: the historical obligation to find something to be angry about and develop new ideas to follow, because their parents and grandparents did the same, so consequently so must they. Expand or die is the implication: manufactured and forced, blindly hurried to the next checkpoint. If these people truly care about doing things differently and expanding reality, why don’t they consider the very framework in which they do things? Why don’t we consider when or if we will be able to stop and actually be satisfied?

This is not to say there is no urgency now, but for me the actions I want to take need to be universally encompassing changes, changes that will settle into our social framework and guide every individual shift for as long as we uphold it. A great and socially omnipotent simplicity that enables more complex things under it. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to actively desire a situation where we will need to do things over and over again, opposite to a single massive reconfiguration to take place that will conform to and welcome the smaller, decentralized changes in perspective and association. The opposite seems to be the case for most people, where they desire many small changes in an effort to satisfy a benign, almost nonexistent encompassing configuration. Tiny organic units instead of organic universality to be the mode of life. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of both the exploiters and the tail-chasing opportunism of those against them to a point where the two blur and mesh into a new oppression; an oppression of direction. Do you or do you not want a better order of life? Than stop pussyfooting around and make direct change on something. Alas, with this new step in time, we will only find what cultural product will lay way to the next.

For half of last year, it took me a lot of agonizing thinking, more fittingly called mind-consuming depression, over what I believe and feel, what those who are striving toward what I seek think and feel as well as if they would agree with me, to come to any sort of conclusion on my own direction. At this point, I’m not certain if it won’t be something I will think about forever until the gland in the human anatomy which produces the feeling called anxiety can no longer take it.

I think if there is a meaning or an aim in what I do, it is to come to a point where people can do and be as they want while all the functions of social life are in a state of respectful indifference or mutual support of it, no more and no less. Everything before that is a struggle to overcome the structures rooted in one side against that idea to continue its domination. Be it a condition of socialism, an equitable reconfiguration of present society, whatever. If you can be you and I can be me, and there has been an effective elimination of institutional exploitation, artificial complications and desperation as a result, I can’t help but feel that my work in that range is arguably finished, and that I can begin work elsewhere from what that has left. I don’t see any current means of convincing me otherwise that that idea is the enveloping change which I desire, and possibly what every person who shares my political alignment seeks when boiled down to its essence.

And maybe these New Years are outer layers of the same mindless cultural production. They repeat themselves until we acknowledge the broken record and actually initiate change instead of just suggesting the idea, reformatted to look and sound new and interesting, to make the best of the crumbling relationship hanging by a few threads. Otherwise, it isn’t the fault of causes but life itself. Just another thing we didn’t ask for but have to deal with. Ride it through without expectations that make it feel insincere.

Annual Discontent