Good Morning, Brazil! And to all of you watching us from afar in this special day. Yes, today (October 28th, 2018) is election day down here… and the front runner is the kind of person that would make you think: “Ah, good thing it’s 2018 and we don’t need to deal with this kind of shit anymore”. Then you realize the shit is here, now, your heart drops to the floor, and you start stressing about your own safety and that of your loved ones.
Good Morning, Brazil! And to all of you watching us from afar in this special day. Yes, today (October 28th, 2018) is election day down here… and the front runner is the kind of person that would make you think: “Ah, good thing it’s 2018 and we don’t need to deal with this kind of shit anymore”. Then you realize the shit is here, now, your heart drops to the floor, and you start stressing about your own safety and that of your loved ones.
People are so stressed that even anarchists are talking about voting and doing the “lesser-evil” thing. But what will voting actually do? I have some scenarios in mind:
-J.B. wins and he actually does all the absurd things he claimed to want to do. This is less likely because, let’s be honest, when does a candidate actually follow through on a promise? Kill poor people, don’t allow an inch of land to indigenous and quilombist peoples, completely neglect public education and affirmative action, condone hate crimes!, militarize whatever necessary, and so on… In this scenario, he would simply be the irrigation of the already existing and thriving crop.
-J.B. wins and he doesn’t do anything (as usual). We just continue to live in a country where we need to hear his voice, and we pity ourselves for having the ability to discern meaning out of those inhuman screeches.
-Haddad wins, J.B. rallies his troops and his repulsive minions to take power by force. Democracy is certifiably over, we can finally stop pretending!
-Haddad wins, nothing changes, and we are left in bliss. The bliss of what could have been not… being; finally free from all of our most apocalyptic predictions. We’ll continue to kill poor people, not grant land to indigenous and quilombist peoples, completely neglect public education and affirmative action, condone hate crimes, militarize whatever necessary, and so on…- but Diet.
In any case, comes summer and we’ll still know who did what this spring. Families will never be the same, no more guilt driven polite interactions at major holidays. Hopefully. And not too shabby is the memory of when virtually no one on the left shied away from using the word Fascist, shouting together knowing we don’t mean it figuratively.
For any case, I prepare, and wait for the day to pass, for us to stop occupying our minds with the absurd words of a bigot, and to get back to work. The truth is we are pretty much fucked either way, and the ballot is not what’s gonna get us out of it.
Update: The result is out
Brazil elected Jair Messias Bolsonaro as president. Since the “Messias” emerged, we began to see the masks falling.
Now, all the atrocities that have already been taking place, have been legitimized and will become even more visible. Kill the poor, as a solution to the crisis of Capitalism. Kill LGBTQI+ as a solution to the “crisis” of the traditional family. Kill black, kill Indigenous peoples, kill women .. and destroy the minimal achievements of many years of struggle.
We give up certain principles because of fear. Because crumbs are better than nothing. This strengthens the hegemony, while it accumulates and wastes sadistically. Fascism, which had hitherto been veiled, is now uncomfortably exposed. Now we’ll drown on Genocidal Patriotism.
Yesterday, October 28, 2018, shortly after confirmation of the election results, a woman was beaten by a Military Police officer in the state capital that voted least for Bolsonaro; Salvador.
She wore a red t-shirt with Lula’s face on it, and her unconscious face bled. The fear that we, marginalized, already felt on the streets, was only exacerbated.
Being marginal is not a crime, it’s being excluded.
Mirna Wabi-Sabi and Jam Costa
is co-editor of Gods&Radicals, and writes about decoloniality, feminism, and anti-capitalism.
“Muitos, na verdade, a maioria dos partidos políticos, especialmente na metrópole, tornaram-se servos abertos do capital e, portanto, competem, nem mesmo fingindo representar o povo, mas a serviço da riqueza.
Os partidos políticos, além de serem mecanismos para acumular riqueza pessoal, são máquinas para dar às pessoas a ilusão da democracia “.
Bom dia Brasil! E para todos vocês nos assistindo de longe neste dia especial. Sim, hoje (28 de outubro de 2018) é dia de eleição aqui… e o candidato favorito é o tipo de pessoa que faria você pensar: “Ah, que bom que é 2018 e não precisamos mais lidar com esse tipo de merda”. Aí você percebe que a merda está aqui, agora, seu coração cai no chão, e você começa a se preocupar com a sua própria segurança e a de seus entes queridos.
As pessoas estão tão estressadas que até os anarquistas estão falando sobre votar e fazer a coisa do “menos-mal”. Mas o que a votação realmente fará? Eu tenho alguns cenários em mente:
-O coiso ganha e realmente faz todas as coisas absurdas que ele pretende fazer. Isso é menos provável porque, sejamos honestos, quando um candidato realmente faz o que promete? Matar pessoas pobres, não permitir um centímetro de terra para povos indígenas e quilombolas, negligenciar completamente a educação pública e cotas, defender crimes de ódio, militarizar o que for necessário, e assim por diante… Neste cenário, ele seria simplesmente a irrigação de uma plantação já existente e próspera.
-O coiso vence e não faz nada (como de costume). Nós apenas continuamos a viver em um país onde precisamos ouvir a voz dele, e temos pena de nós mesmos e mesmas por ter a capacidade de discernir o significado desses berros desumanos.
-Haddad vence, o coiso reúne suas tropas e seus asseclas repulsivos para tomar o poder à força. A democracia está comprovadamente acabada, podemos finalmente parar de fingir.
-Haddad vence, nada muda e ficamos felizes. A felicidade do que poderia ter sido… não ser; finalmente livre de todas as nossas previsões apocalípticas. Continuaremos a matar pessoas pobres, não concederemos terras a povos indígenas e quilombolas, negligenciaremos completamente a educação pública e as cotas, não condenaremos crimes de ódio, militarizaremos o que for necessário, e assim por diante…- mas versão Diet.
De qualquer forma, chega o verão e ainda vamos saber quem fez o que esta primavera. As famílias nunca serão as mesmas, não haverá interações educadas baseadas em culpa nos principais feriados. Espero. E gostosa é a lembrança de quando praticamente ninguém da esquerda se esquivou de usar a palavra Fascista, gritando juntos, sabendo que não a usamos figurativamente.
Para qualquer dos casos, eu me preparo, e estou louca para que esse dia passe, para que paremos de ocupar nossas mentes com as palavras absurdas de um intolerante, e voltemos ao trabalho. A verdade é que estamos basicamente fodidos de qualquer forma, e a maquininha não é o que vai nos protejer disso.
Update: O resultado saiu
Brasil elegeu Jair Messias Bolsonaro como presidente. Desde que o “Messias” emergiu, começamos a ver as mascaras caindo.
Agora, todas as atrocidades que já aconteciam, foram legitimadas e se tornarão ainda mais visíveis. Matar o pobre, como solução para a crise do Capitalismo. Matar LGBTQI+, como solução para a “crise” da familia tradicional. Matar preto, matar Indígena, matar mulheres… e a destruição das mínimas conquistas de muitos anos de luta.
Abrimos mão de princípios por medo. Porque migalhas são melhores do que nada. O que fortalece a hegemonia, enquanto ela acumula e desperdiça sadicamente. O Fascismo que até então era velado, se escancarou. Agora seremos afogados e afogadas nesse Patriotismo Genocida.
Ontem, dia 28 de Outubro de 2018, logo após a confirmação dos resultados eleitorais, uma mulher foi agredida por um PM na capital do estado que menos votou pro Bolsonaro; Salvador.
Ela usava uma camisa vermelha com o rosto do Lula, e seu rosto inconsciente sangrou. O medo que nós marginalizados e marginalizadas já sentíamos nas ruas, só foi exacerbado.
Ser marginal não é crime, é ser excluido e excluída.
Mirna Wabi-Sabi e Jam Costa
é editora de Gods and Radicals, escreve sobre decolonialidade, feminismo, e anti-capitalismo.
A Copa do Mundo terminou, depois de termos politicado incessantemente os atletas e os países que essas equipes representavam. Havia algo suspeitamente conveniente em lembrar do colonialismo francês agora, mas esquecer da corrupção e da opressão da FIFA. Desta forma, podemos ficar colados na T.V. sem perder “pontos de militância”.
O movimento de resistência contra a FIFA em 2013 e 2014 não é coisa do passado. Os pretextos que transformaram movimentos sociais em organizações terroristas são, até hoje, responsáveis pela criminalização do ativismo político no nosso pais. Isso resultou em 23 presos políticos com sentenças entre 5 e 13 anos, alguns ainda sendo processados agora. Pessoas morreram e muitas mais perderam suas casas. Mas o que discutimos é como torcer para o México é uma mensagem anti-Trump, e como a equipe alemã está de alguma forma (simbolicamente) relacionada com a política sobre refugiados de Merkel.
Estamos testemunhando a fachada do estilo estadouniense de Democracia se desintegrando, revelando o fascismo de um Estado Imperializado que encarcera em massa e mata pessoas pobres, negras, trans e mulheres. Além disso, um Estado que usa uma corporação para distrair as massas com esportes nacionalistas, enquanto criminaliza dissidência política.
Anarquistas e Maoistas estão sendo igualmente criminalizados por dissidência capaz de prejudicar a capacidade do governo de funcionar. A OATL (Organização Anarquista Terra e Liberdade) e o MEPR (Movimento Estudantil Popular Revolucionário) foram recentemente colocados como frentes de iniciativas de atos violentos em 2013.
“Membros da OATL e MEPR planejavam lançar coquetéis molotovs e rojões contra a policia durante passeatas contra a copa do mundo” (Folha de Sāo Paulo, 17 de Julho 2018)
Mesmo com todas as nossas divergências ideológicas; particularmente em relação ao uso idolátrico de liderança, e o interesse na reconstrução de um Estado que sustentará a ditadura do proletariado; concordamos que o Estado em qual vivemos agora, e seu sistema eleitoral, deve ser derrubado. A re-centralização de poder econômico e estrutural num Governo comunista não é nem um pouco atraente pra nós anarquistas. E vemos que, apesar de eficiente em curto prazo, o culto de personalidade de líderes não é só contraditório aos nossos princípios de horizontalidade. É também insustentável, já que até agora revoluções morreram com seus lideres.
Nosso terreno comum é a ideia de que a dicotomia entre esquerda e direita no campo eleitoral é reformista/reacionária, e não revolucionária, já que visa representação em, e consequentemente validação do, sistema partidário. Até os candidatos de mais extrema esquerda como Boulos, mesmo com sua retórica de defesa do povo pobre por políticas contra a especulação imobiliária e etc., visa a reconstrução da fé do povo Brasileiro no sistema. Isso só atrasa a revolução. Sabemos que o candidato não vai ganhar, se ganhar não vai fazer o que fala, e se tentar fazer o que fala vai ser impeached, preso, ou morto (como já vimos acontecer tantas vezes antes).
A estratégia de usar a plataforma partidária sustentada pela “Democracia” (Estilo estadounidense) pra divulgar ideias revolucionárias é como transar pela virgindade, validando no processo a própria coisa que estamos tentando invalidar. A necessidade imediata do povo que mais precisa dessa revolução não pode ser saciada com migalhas. É nossa responsabilidade como militantes não criar dependência do próprio Governo que visamos derrubar, e lutar para suprir essas necessidades imediatas como uma comunidade; um Movimento.
“Há apenas a preocupação de se jogar migalha na boca escancarada da fome, talvez para que nos deixem em paz…” – Maria Lacerda de Moura
Do dia 11 a 15 de Julho, estudantes de pedagogia de todo o Brasil se encontraram em União dos Palmares, Alagoas, para discutir métodos de combate aos ataques do Estado contra a educação e os direitos do povo dentro e fora da esfera acadêmica no nosso pais.
Este foi o 38o ENEPe (Encontro Nacional de Estudantes de Pedagogia), e sua 1a edição Marxista-Leninista-Maoista.
A realização deste evento marcante na história da ENEPe não foi possível sem a superação de sérios obstáculos. Houve um rompimento entre estudantes de esquerda, resultando em dois eventos diferentes sendo realizados: este organizado pela ExNEPe (Executiva Nacional de Estudantes de Pedagogia) com presença predominante do MEPR, e outro evento com presença predominante do MEPe (Movimento Estudantil de Pedagogia) e movimentos estundatis ligados à UNE (União Nacional dos Estudantes).
Essa divergência ideológica entre os estudantes “de esquerda” é baseada no partidarismo. O MEPR reivindica a independência política, o boicote ao voto, e a completa rejeição da dependência financeira em, ou campanha de, partidos. Além disso, eles e elas também visam manter esse evento aberto a estudantes de outras áreas e a quem não é estudante.
Para muitos, o boicote ao voto significa uma brecha para a direita se fortalecer, ou até mesmo uma direita disfarçada. Os da MEPe, que não estavam a bordo com os posicionamentos da MEPR, não só fizeram seu próprio evento em outra data e local, mas também sabotaram a iniciativa de organização e promoção do evento de seus semelhantes. Cartazes promovendo a 38o ENEPe em União dos Palmares foram removidos ou danificados de alguma forma pelo país inteiro.
Nos palcos do primeiro dia, 11 de Julho, houve uma fala de forte crítica Marxista ao PT, introduções das delegações de cada região, fala da LCP (Liga de Camponeses Pobres), apresentação de dança do Quilombo, poesia, teatro, e até rock. Os espaços entre cada foram preenchidos por palavras de ordem e punhos levantados. “Resistir, lutar, pra cultura popular”, entre muitas outras.
A grande maioria das aproximadamente 400 pessoas presentes, tiveram que superar múltiplos obstáculos financeiros e burocráticos, além da sabotagem de outros alunos, para comparecer no evento aquela semana. Portanto, a presença de cada um, de cada região, segurava o peso da dedicação à militância, e o entusiasmo de uma juventude com fé na revolução.
Na mesa do 2o dia afirmaram que a independência do eleitoralismo é essencial na luta pela gratuidade educacional. A formação pedagógica ainda visa o treinamento de mão de obra barata, e Lula não foi melhor que FHC no combate a isso; cotas e bolsas só atrasam a revolução. Enquanto as reitorias agem como o Estado dentro da universidade, não ha como a universidade enfrentar o Estado. O papel do pedagogo e da pedagoga é fundamental pra formação da sociedade, e não deverá ser usado para servir um Estado.
A logística do evento foi discutida com todos e todas presentes. A comida, a limpeza, o transporte e a convivência em geral. Considerando que foi um evento realizado com completa autonomia financeira, sem apoio de partidos ou outras instituições, houve um processo de adaptação para os que não estavam acostumados.
Uma proposta essencial que foi aplicada durante o evento foi a criação de creches nas universidades. A creche representa a luta de inclusão da mulher na esfera política, acadêmica e profissional, com apoio da comunidade como um todo. Portando, a presença de crianças e bebês foi responsabilidade de todos e todas nós, e também simbólico para a estruturação de um movimento revolucionário onde esse papel não poderá ser só da mãe.
No último dia do encontro, o MFP (Movimento Feminino Popular) se apresentou como Marxista-Leninista-Maoista, abraçando a causa das mulheres que são alunas, professoras, operárias e camponesas, e afirmando que a mulher latifundiária é inimiga. O Movimento visa combater o trabalho doméstico não pago, a servitude de empregadas domesticas às suas empregadoras burguesas, e a ideia de que existe alguma diferença inata ente homens e mulheres.
A monogamia da família tradicional também deve ser combatida, pois nasceu com o conceito de propriedade privada para assegurar a transferência de bens por herança. Afirmaram também que não existe a cultura do estupro, existe o Patriarcado e o Capitalismo. Portanto, não se destrói a cultura do estupro com leis, se destrói o patriarcado capitalista com a revolução. O problema não é o homem, é o Estado. E acima de tudo, o propósito da organização é “despertar a fúria revolucionaria nas mulheres.”
Uma camarada da ExNEPe, Tarsila Pereira, foi proibida de comparecer a aulas como ouvinte na UFAL (Universidade Federal de Alagoas), por militar e promover este evento. A tentativa de abaixo assinado pra expulsar Tarsila acabou virando um abaixo assinado pra ela ficar, e o professor se recusou a expulsa-lá, falando que ele não é polícia, e na aula dele entra quem quer aprender. Felizmente, o processo que visava “restaurar a paz” nas salas de aula falhou, e hoje ela é uma aluna matriculada.
Sexta-feira, dia 13 de Julho, em Maceió, foi realizada uma manifestação em defesa de Tarsila na UFAL; contra o fascismo que infiltra a academia Brasileira; contra a intervenção militar e o oportunismo da Escola Sem Partido; contra a privatização das universidades e a regularização da profissão de pedagogos e pedagogas; e contra o imperialismo genocida no Oriente Médio.
Depois da manifestação, a organização do evento mostrou de forma impactante como a Cultura Popular é resistência. Uma apresentação de dança típica Alagoana abriu uma série de apresentações culturais de cada delegação presente. Ficou claro que “cada região é um País”, como falou uma das alunas assistindo. Foi emocionante presenciar como extrema diversidade pode sim significar uma completa união e solidariedade. Diversas danças, músicas, histórias, e linguagens foram apresentadas, destacando como a hegemonia violentamente invisibiliza expressões culturas belas e valiosas no Brasil.
Sábado, dia 14 de Julho, participantes foram divididos em três grupos, um deles destinado ao museu do Quilombo dos Palmares. A viajem no ônibus escolar amarelo foi uma celebração, ele ainda estava enfeitado da festa junina, e todos alternavam entre cantar techno brega e palavras de ordem. Na Serra da Barriga, região do Zumbi dos Palmares, chacoalhávamos na estrada de terra, subindo e descendo montanhas de mata baixa, com ocasionais coqueiros sendo saudados por urubus.
Foi inevitável sentir o poder daquele espaço, mesmo que agora esteja estruturado um pouco como um parque temático. Cada passo parecia levantar uma memória centenária combativa, como se fosse uma poeira que ao invés de ofuscar, tornava ainda mais nítido nosso propósito politico. A vista do alto a serra chegava quase a nos colocar no corpo dos homens e mulheres que se estabeleceram lá 400 anos atras, e na consciência estratégica de poder ver inimigos de longe sem ser visto.
No fim da visita, muitos de nós até nadamos na pequena lagoa verde pastel onde quilombolas “alimentavam suas almas”.
Quando voltamos pra universidade em União dos Palmares, assistimos apresentações de trabalhos, dos quais alguns seriam premiados. Um deles abordava a importância de educação sexual na escola, pra alunos entre 11 e 15 anos de idade. Interesses das crianças giravam em torno dos temas de masturbação, puberdade e menstruação. A apresentadora mostrou que sexo ainda é um tabu entre professores e reitorias, e a importância de derrubar esse tabu e abordar esse tema é de extrema urgência, quando se vê como é comum a gravidez de meninas de 13 a 15 anos e idade.
A importância da História foi enfatizada quando reconhecemos que o Brasil tem um problema de memória. Um trabalho sobre a Guerrilha do Araguaia trouxe pra mesa de debate a perpetuação da violência, décadas depois da batalha, quando crimes da resistência são judicialmente equiparados com os dos opressores. Trouxe também o tema das particularidades femininas na tortura durante a ditadura, e a questão do uso do termo “ditadura” em si, como um termo usado pela democracia burguesa pra defender suas políticas ditatoriais contemporâneas.
Em geral, houve muita repetição de termos como “pós-modernista”, “oportunista”, “imobilista” e Marxismo cientifico, sem finas definições e contextualizações. Isso alienou certos alunos que não se reivindicam Marxistas, e deu pouca abertura pra participantes apresentarem divergências. Até as votações finais foram bizarramente homogêneas, talvez não só porque houve consensus, mas também porque ir contra seria intimidador.
Para o burguês e pequeno burguês, a inacessibilidade é o charme. Com eles e elas não há diálogo, há combate. Combater a ideia de que ”uma mentira falada mil vezes vira verdade” (Goebbels) significa também reconhecer que existe diferentes perspectivas sobre a realidade, e não só uma verdade que pertence aos socialistas científicos. Ocasionais falhas em reconhecer isso resultou em certas infelizes falas, como uma sobre o misticismo de comunidades “primitivas”, e abordagens superficiais e desnecessárias do materialismo dialético.
Mesmo assim, foi afirmado que a ciência que vemos hoje na academia serve o Capital. O conhecimento científico do povo, seja ele indígena, negro ou camponês, é apropriado pelas classes dominantes e patenteado. Temos que trazer a ciência de volta para o povo, preservando a educação tradicional indígena, por exemplo. Para uma das palestrantes, o problema “do índio” é o problema de classe, e não da supremacia branca; É uma luta pela terra e pela sobrevivência. Seria interessante a presença de mais grupos Indígenas e Quilombolas nos próximos eventos, tanto que foi decidido que o tema do 23o FoNEPe (Fórum Nacional de Entidades de Pedagogia) será “educação que sirva o povo indígena, camponês e Quilombola”, ano que vem em Juazeiro.
No fim as despedidas foram calorosas, já que durante a semana cultivamos imenso carinho uns pelos outros. Havia espaço pra autocrítica e crescimento, e o potencial socio-politico do evento é inegável. Estamos todos e todas animadas pro próximo ENEPe (39o) que acontecerá em Guarulhos, com o tema de “defesa da escola pública, contra a privatização e fechamento de escolas públicas”.
“Se você paga,
não é mercadoria”
editora do site Gods&Radicals, escritora e professora.
The Common Ground Between Anarchists and Maoists
The World Cup ended, after we incessantly politicized athletes and the countries those teams were representing. There was something suspiciously convenient about remembering French colonialism now, but forgetting FIFA’s corruption and oppression. This way we can stay glued to the T.V. without losing any “woke points”.
Brazil’s uprising against FIFA in 2013 and 2014 is not a thing of the past. The pretexts that turned social movements into terrorist organizations are to this day responsible for the criminalization of political activism. This resulted in 23 political prisoners with sentences between 5 and 13 years, some still being prosecuted now. People have died, and many more lost their homes. But what we talk about is how cheering for Mexico is an anti-Trump statement, and that the German team is somehow related (symbolically) to Merkel’s refugee policy.
We are witnessing the facade of U.S. American style Democracy crumbing down, revealing the Fascism of an Imperialized State that mass incarcerates and kills poor people of color, trans people, and women. Moreover, a State that uses a corporation to distract the masses with nationalistic sports, while it criminalizes political dissent.
Brazilian Anarchists and Maoists are both being criminalized for dissent that could undermine the government’s ability to function. The OATL (Anarchist Organization of Land and Liberty) and the MEPR (Popular Revolutionary Student Movement) have recently been denominated initiators of violent protest acts in 2013.
“OATL and MEPR members planned to launch Molotov cocktails and other flaming objects at the police during marches against the world cup” – (Folha de São Paulo, July 17th 2018)
Even with all our ideological differences; particularly in relation to the idolatrous use of leadership, and the interest in rebuilding a state that will sustain the dictatorship of the proletariat; we agree that the state we live in now, and its electoral system, must be overthrown. The re-centralization of economic and structural power in a communist government is not at all attractive to us anarchists. And we see that, although efficient in the short run, the personality cult of leaders is not only contradictory to our principles of horizontality. It is also unsustainable, since up to now revolutions have died with their leaders.
Our common ground is the idea that the dichotomy between left and right in the electoral field is reformist / reactionary rather than revolutionary, since it seeks representation in, and consequently validation of, the system. Even the most far-left candidates like Guilherme Boulos (PSOL), with his rhetoric of defending the poor with policies against real estate speculation and so on, aim at rebuilding the faith of the Brazilian people in the system. This only slows down the revolution. We know that the candidate will not win, if he wins he will not do what he says, and if he tries to do what he says he will be impeached, imprisoned, or killed (as we have seen so many times before).
The strategy of using the partisan platform supported by the U.S. American Style Democracy to spread revolutionary ideas is like fucking for virginity, validating in the process the very thing we are trying to invalidate. The immediate needs of the people who most need this revolution can not be satiated with crumbs. It is our responsibility as militants to not create dependence on the very Government we aim to overthrow, and strive to meet these immediate needs as a community; a Movement.
“There is only the concern of throwing crumbs at the gaping mouth of hunger, perhaps so that they leave us alone …” (Maria Lacerda de Moura)
From 11 to 15 July, pedagogy students from all over Brazil met at União dos Palmares, Alagoas, to discuss methods of combating State attacks against education, and the rights of the people inside and outside the academic sphere in our country.
This was the 38th ENEPe (National Meeting of Students of Pedagogy), and its 1st Marxist-Leninist-Maoist edition.
The realization of this groundbreaking event in the history of ENEPe was not possible without overcoming serious obstacles. There was a rupture between leftist students, resulting in two different events being held: this one organized by ExNEPe (National Executive of Students of Pedagogy) with predominant presence of the MEPR, and another event with predominant presence of MEPe (Student Movement of Pedagogy) and student movements linked to UNE (National Union of Students).
This ideological divergence among “leftist” students is based on partisanship. The MEPR claims political independence, a vote boycott, and a complete rejection of financial dependence on, or campaigning for, political parties. In addition, they also aim to keep this event open to students from other academic fields and to non-students.
For many, the boycott of the vote means a breach for the right to strengthen, or even a right in disguise (like blaming 3rd party voters for Trump). Those of the MEPe, who were not on board with MEPR rhetoric, not only made their own event at another date and place, but also sabotaged the initiative and promotion of their peers’ event. Posters promoting the 38th ENEPe in União dos Palmares were removed or damaged in some way throughout the country.
The vast majority of the approximately 400 people present had to overcome multiple financial and bureaucratic obstacles, as well as the sabotage of other students, to attend the event that week. Therefore, the presence of each one, from each region, held the weight of dedication to militancy, and the enthusiasm of a youth with faith in the revolution.
On the last day of the meeting, the MFP (Popular Women’s Movement) presented itself as a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, embracing the cause of women who are students, teachers, workers and peasants, and stating that the landowning (bourgois) woman is an enemy. The Movement aims to combat unpaid domestic work, the servitude of maids to their bourgeois employers, and the idea that there is some innate difference between men and women.
We must also overcome the monogamy of traditional families, because it was born with the concept of private property to ensure the transfer of assets by inheritance. They also affirmed that there is no rape culture, there is the Patriarchy and Capitalism. Therefore, one does not destroy rape culture with laws, one destroys capitalist patriarchy with a revolution. The problem is not the man, it is the State. And above all, the purpose of the organization is “to awaken revolutionary fury in women.”
The event showed beautifully how Popular Culture is resistance. A typical Alagoan dance performance opened a series of cultural presentations of each delegation present. It became clear that “each Brazilian region is a Country”, as one of the students observed. It was exciting to witness how extreme diversity can mean full union and solidarity. Several dances, songs, stories, and languages were presented, highlighting how the hegemony violently invisibilizes valuable cultural expressions in Brazil (we are much more than just Rio and São Paulo).
On Saturday, July 14th, participants were divided into three groups, one of them destined to the historical site of Quilombo dos Palmares. This is the most famous settlement of runaway enslaved Africans in resistance to Portuguese and Dutch occupation. The trip in the yellow school bus was a celebration, everyone alternated between singing tacky songs and chanting political slogans. In Serra da Barriga, in the region of Zumbi dos Palmares (the a most famous abolitionist leader of the Quilombo), we rattled on the dirt road, up and down mountains of low vegetation, with occasional coconut trees being greeted by vultures.
It was inevitable to feel the power of that land, even though it is now structured somewhat like a theme park. Each step seemed to lift a centuries-old combative memory, as if it were dust that instead of obfuscating, made our political purpose even clearer. The sight from above the mountain almost placed us in the bodies of the men and women who settled there 400 years ago, and in the strategic awareness of being able to see enemies from afar without being seen.
At the end of the visit, many of us swam in the small pastel green lagoon where Quilombolas “fed their souls”.
When we returned to the university in União dos Palmares, we attended presentations of works, some of which would later be awarded. One of them addressed the importance of sex education in schools for students between 11 and 15 years of age. The interests of the children revolved around the themes of masturbation, puberty and menstruation. The presenter showed that sex is still a taboo between teachers and principals. When we see how common it is for 13 to 15 year old girls to become pregnant, the importance of overcoming this taboo and addressing this issue is revealed as undeniably urgent.
The importance of history was emphasized when we recognized that Brazil has a memory problem. A presentation on the Araguaia Guerrilla discussed the perpetuation of violence, decades after the battle, when the crimes of the resistance are judicially equated with those of the oppressors. She also brought up the subject of female particularities when it comes to the practice of torture during the Brazilian “dictatorship” (Military regime of 1964-1985), and the question of using the term “dictatorship” as it is used by the bourgeois democracy to defend its contemporary dictatorial policies.
In general, there was a lot of repetition of terms such as “postmodernist,” “opportunistic,” “immobilist,” and scientific Marxism, without refined definitions and contextualizations. This alienated certain students who did not identify as Marxist, and gave little opening for participants to disagree. Even the final votes were bizarrely homogeneous, perhaps not only because there was consensus, but also because going against the group would be intimidating.
For the bourgeoisie and petit bourgeoisie, inaccessibility is the charm. With them there is no dialogue, there is combat. Fighting the idea that “a lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” (Goebbels) also means recognizing that there are different perspectives on reality, and not just a truth that belongs to scientific socialists. Occasional failures to recognize this have resulted in certain unfortunate affirmations, such as one on the mysticism of “primitive” communities, and superficial and unnecessary approaches towards dialectical materialism.
Even so, it was stated that the science we see today in the academy serves the Capital. Scientific knowledge of the people, be it indigenous, black or peasant, is appropriated by the ruling class and patented. We have to bring science back to the people, by preserving traditional indigenous education, for example. To one of the speakers, the “Indigenous problem” is a class problem, not a white supremacy problem; It is a struggle for land and survival. It would be interesting to have more Indigenous and Quilombola groups in the coming events, so much so that it was decided that the theme of the 23rd FoNEPe (National Forum of Pedagogical Entities) will be “education that serves indigenous, peasant and Quilombola communities”, next year in Juazeiro, Bahia.
At the end, the farewells were warm, since during the week we cultivated great affection for each other. There was room for self-criticism and growth, and the socio-political potential of the event is undeniable. We are all excited about the next ENEPe (39th) that will take place in Guarulhos, São Paulo, with the theme “defending the public school against privatization.”
is co-editor of Gods&Radicals, and writes about decoloniality and anti-capitalism.
First, they came for the elections, but we grew up hearing that “voting doesn’t matter.” A slow boil of district manipulation and a thinning pool of viable candidates bore that out, but turnout was dismal, and symbols are important. Every election since the turn of the century has revealed more systemic corruption. We have lost a little more hope and a little more will to command our “leaders” with our voices with each lap around the ballot box. Long gone are the days when we could trust the word spoken from a podium. We had a glimpse of another way, but he showed up with a mysterious bruise and got quiet pretty fast after that.
The cabals, cartels, and corporations that put most candidates on the stage are not interested in our will. This time we would have been screwed either way, but with this administration has dissolved the facade of eligibility. Now the idea is out there that any asshole can hold an office, and it seems that any useful bastard will. A certain pall fell over the world on Election Night. It felt like a tectonic shift, or something happening in an invisible dimension. It was as if some significant changing of the guard had taken place at a level that even silenced Congress. Half the nation reeled with disgust and anxiety and the other shot off fireworks and felt empowered to out themselves as demons. Everybody got duped. Some got evil.
Next, they yanked the reigns of the media. The big networks danced to the tune of their sponsors and partner agencies. The internet gave us grassroots reporting, but the corporate bullhorn blasted from all sides the idea that dissent and conversation about corruption are “fake news” now. The division is everywhere because it is the priority and the agenda. Now is the moment where we are just about ready to tear down the last shreds of the veil, thus the efforts to keep us apart and at each other’s throats are mounting. The TV, radio, and print that used to deliver at least a degree of truth sold out to shareholders years ago. This legacy media (for with alt-this and post-that on every corner there is no actual main stream anymore) are purging the web of independent voices along with the snake oil, psychological operations, and doom dealers. Hijacking online conversations is a growth industry, employing perhaps thousands of human trolls and perhaps millions of tireless “bots” to control the narrative.
Weaving spiders are busy indeed. The alphabet agencies, be they spies or corporate mouthpieces or Google itself, tell us who to trust and who to scoff at, and we let them. We haven’t had to do real research since these little portals arrived in our pockets. Taking blue pills was easier than looking for ourselves. After generations of learning to look to Big Daddy for answers, it was child’s play to pull the wool over our eyes. Then the tools of research became the means of censorship. The big bang of available data that happened when the Internet went live is slowing down, and attempts are being made to reverse its flow so that it can be contained and controlled for good. Leaks continue. We can hope that stubborn defenders of truth will continue to burn holes in the dragnet and allow the flow of uncollared information.
Then Congress rolled back progressive laws but told us that only hurt “snowflakes.” We figured hate crimes and transphobia and racism were overblown. We didn’t think the Klan was even really a thing. It seemed like a joke or anachronism. How wrong we were, and how lucky we were to have such delusions as others watched their backs for lifetimes. Local governments are busy shadowboxing with political theater for the benefit of their base. Politicians treat bathroom laws and other rollbacks of LGBTQ rights as a priority to impress the evangelical voters. Nevermind what those same creeps get up to in bathrooms and hotels off the clock.
Meanwhile, real issues like infrastructure, education, safety and economic security are passed to the next official to deal with, if at all. The hollow men in expensive suits wrap themselves in the flag, drop crocodile tears paired with cherry-picked Bible fragments, and utterly ignore all requests to join the rest of the world in the 21st century. As long as they keep getting paid for their votes and avoid each other’s deep-dirt blackmail schemes, the circus goes on as it always has, and we get fed to the lions when we demand bread.
Then they began to shut the gates. In a brief but ominous symbol, the Statue of Liberty was unlit for a time. Only a few noticed enough to ask why, but it had a dark resonance. Fear had trumped love, and our nation of immigrants started turning people away as if that would affect a trend toward homegrown, often white terrorism. After decades of war, thousands have nowhere to go, and years of conditioning have made us associate the wrong countries with terrorism and job stealing. Our “job creators” are the ones moving all the work offshore to their tax havens and secret banks. Our “protectors” are the ones starting fires all over the world.
However we may live as individuals, America knows in our gut that we have become everything we once opposed. But no one can handle that, and many can’t even recognize it, so the masquerade goes on. A war on terror never ends, it just ramps up and creates an endless cycle of blood for money. See also the wars on drugs, crime, poverty, and so on. Like cancer, there’s more money in research and feel-good branding than a cure. The institutions of these troubled times work to entrench and preserve themselves rather than solving the problems that were their reason for existing.
Meanwhile, the growing police state has started stopping people on planes and stranding them in airports. They started making lists of “bad” nationalities. Men in brown with dogs and guns are at the borders asking for papers. We know where that leads. The mask is slipping, and the face is all too familiar. How long now? Do we need to endure this again? What lesson have we ignored that demands a retread of humanity’s most famous dark night of the soul?
The military is becoming the corporate police, leaving endless streams of well-meaning youth to return home as shattered shells of themselves with no structure of psyche repair in place. The beat cop is a dying breed. City police are militarizing and in some districts are goaded into procedural racism, thrill-kills and property theft which they can practice with impunity and even reward. Private mercenaries are being hired to destroy dissent to environmental and social abuse. Every peaceful protest attracts provocateurs in anarchist drag who come to break windows for the camera and frame organizations that seek reclamation of peace and justice for the people. “See, these people are out of control!”
Then the tear gas and rubber bullets can fly. Soon the privatized prisons will be full of stoners, activists, and people of color, as was the intention in ’68. First we had “Free Speech Zones,” then they started criminalizing protests, but we assumed the stories we heard about these movements were true tales of violent mob rule. We figured we had nothing to shout about until we did. So now what?
It’s too late to put flowers in gun barrels, but there is another way to invert our predicament. Turn inward and to each other now. These are the times we expected. Cross the artificial divides and build bridges where you may. Resist the death grip of the old institutions as we quietly make them irrelevant. Authority was never the friend of the people, and the pretense is finally falling away. The Germans lost the war, but plenty of Nazis got new jobs and learned to take new shapes. They won, in their way, and you can see it in the way things have gone with the Allies. History repeats and mutates.
Here we all are, and it is up to us to awaken and stop the historical cycles of abuse. This time of fear porn and hate bait is the moment for vigilance and courage, self-empowerment and cooperative subversion. The human race is on the table, about to have its organs harvested. The anesthesia needle floats just above the skin. We have excused our complacency for too long. We kept our noses in the arsenic lace of the virtual world when our duty was always to direct experience and action. Now is the time to RISE: resist, inquire, subvert, and engage. I leave it to you to choose your path.
Jonathan Ray is a writer, father, mystic, and musician working out of Tucson, Arizona. Driven to uncover, understand, and heal, he thinks of himself as a “conspiracy therapist.” Exploring the connections between the visible and the invisible and helping others to rediscover and empower the parts of themselves which have numb in our collective switch to survival mode is his life’s calling and the theme of his works.
Jonathan’s writing and music can be seen at apocalypsefatigue.org, named for the stage between the revelations of the world’s woes and the inspiration to embody solutions through action.
After a longstanding stranglehold on the political system, the two major parties are quickly disintegrating. Arising from those ruins are three presidential candidates:
A charismatic far-right candidate, originally thought to be a long shot before gaining huge support by openly espousing fascist ideals and consistently dog-whistling to racists and nationalists,
A centrist candidate, trying desperately (but failing) to downplay various ties and allegiances to the current system,
A leftist candidate, first thought to have no chance whatsoever, who ‘out of nowhere’ has inspired a huge movement of followers, whose sudden surge in the polls, threatens the chances of the centrist (who was thought to be a shoo-in.)
It sounds like the United States in the summer of 2016. And it is, for the most part, save for the fact that Bernie Sanders is only really a “leftist” by American standards. But what I am describing above isn’t the United States last summer, but instead what is happening in France on the eve of the first round of the 2017 French presidential elections.
The similarities between the two scenarios are striking, but what is also just as striking are the differences.
* * * * *
Similar to the American system, the French political system is often referred to as a “two-party” system; unlike in the United States, the parties in France have gone through various manifestations, alliances, and name changes. But for many decades now, the winner of Presidential elections in France have come from either the Republican Party (the dominant center-right party) or the Socialist Party (the dominant center-left party).
While the American political system (both in terms of structure as well as maneuvering on the part of the corporate powers that control it) allows little to no power or voice for any other than the two major parties, France uses a parliamentary system in which power-sharing is built into the structure, allowing smaller parties with much less power to also participate.
This is evident in the composition of the legislatures in the two countries, but in light of the current presidential election cycle in France and the presidential election cycle that recently concluded in the United States, it’s also important to note how this manifests in the participation in presidential debates.
In the United States, any third-party candidate who wishes to participate in presidential debates faces many barriers. Over the years, numerous third-party candidates have been excluded from the presidential debates on account of not polling at high enough numbers to qualify. Last summer, once the major candidates were decided through the primary system, the presidential debates only included the candidates from the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Green Parties, despite the fact that there were nearly two dozen candidates running for President of the United States.
On the other hand, in the French presidential debate held last week, otherwise known as Le Grand Débat, there were eleven candidates on stage debating each other in front of a national audience. Of those eleven candidates, three of them were overtly anti-capitalist. The candidates were as follows:
Emmanuel Macron, from En Marche! (On the Move), a centrist party founded by Macron which claims to represent ideas from both the Left and Right.
Marine Le Pen, from the Front National, a far-right party founded four decades ago by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Benoît Hamon, from the Parti Socialiste, the center-left party of France’s current President, François Hollande.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from La France Insourmise (Unsubmissive France), a new left party founded by Mélenchon last year, formerly of the Parti de Gauche, which was also founded by Mélenchon nearly a decade earlier.
Nicholas Dupont-Aignan, from Debout la France (Arise France), a right-wing party which he founded in 1999.
Nathalie Arthaud, of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), a Trotskyist party that traces its roots back to 1939.
François Asselineau, of the Union Populaire Républicaine, a right-wing nationalist party that advocates a strong anti-EU stance and was founded by Asselineau in 2009.
Jean Lassalle, of Resistons!, a centrist party that he founded last year which concentrates on rural issues.
As an American, it is inconceivable to me that we would ever witness a presidential debate in which not only one, but three separate candidates were not only avowed anti-capitalists but openly identified as Marxists or Communists. And yet, in France, such a scenario is de rigueur.
* * * * *
Unlike American elections, there are potentially two rounds of voting in the French presidential elections. In the first round, voters have a choice between all listed candidates. Assuming that no single candidate accumulates more than 50% of the total vote, the top two candidates then face off in a second round of voting a few weeks later. This year, the first round of elections is being held on April 23rd, and the second round will take place on May 7.
Under this structure, voters are free to vote for the candidate that they actually prefer, as opposed to being stuck in the ethical quandary that so many American voters find themselves in, such as in the last election where “a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Trump.” And historically, once the first round is over, the supporters as well as the parties of the candidates that do not advance align with each other as a coalition in order to defeat the candidate which poses the greatest threat to their beliefs and positions.
While political commentators and the public alike have assumed for months that no candidate would amass 50% of the vote and that the runoff would consist of Marine Le Pen versus either François Fillon or Emmanuel Macron, in the past few weeks the popularity and accompanying polling numbers of Jean-Luc Mélenchon have surged. This is in large part to the effects of Le Grand Débat, where Mélenchon arguably outperformed all of the other candidates while Le Pen, Fillon, and Macron were seen as performing poorly.
Similar to the rise of Bernie Sanders in the American primaries during the summer of 2016, the supporters of Jean-Luc Mélenchon are quickly mobilizing with the realization that their candidate has a chance to pull an upset. But unlike in the American system, the major parties in France do not have the opportunity or ability to suppress that surge.
Adding to the chances of Mélenchon’s success is the fact that France has strict broadcast rules requiring that equal time be given to all candidates and all views. While such laws exist in theory in the United States, in reality there are so many exceptions that the law holds no real strength. However, in France, where the law is strictly enforced to the point where dozens of government employees monitor all television stations and measure the amount of time given to each candidate to the second, the equal time law has allowed Mélenchon to reach a national audience in a manner that a candidate like Bernie Sanders could have only dreamed of.
Marine Le Pen
The candidate that has gotten the most attention by far, both in France as well as internationally, is Marine Le Pen, who within the course of a few years has transformed the Front National from a formerly fringe party into a mainstream contender.
The Front National (FN), founded in 1972 by Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, is rooted mainly in a rejection in the values of the French Revolution and a deep anger over Charles de Gaulle granting independence to Algeria after the conclusion of the Algerian War, in which Le Pen was directly involved. Throughout most of its history, the FN has been openly anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, fascist, anti-immigrant, and isolationist. In the nearly forty years in which Jean-Marie Le Pen ran the FN, he was prosecuted several times by both French and German courts for Holocaust denial, incitement of hatred against Muslims, and a physical assault against Socialist presidential candidate Annette Peulvast-Bergeal in 1997.
When Le Pen stepped down from FN leadership in 2011, his daughter Marine was elected as FN’s new leader. Marine Le Pen quickly began to soften the image of the FN, obscuring the far-right views that were a hallmark of the FN in more neutral rhetoric in order to garner greater public support. This strategy culminated in her expelling her own father from the party in the fall of 2015 after further controversial statements regarding WWII. Since the expulsion of her father, Marine Le Pen’s popularity and her public profile has greatly increased.
Marine Le Pen’s strategy closely echoed the same strategy that the Republican Party of the United States embarked upon four decades earlier, cloaking its formerly overt racist rhetoric and reframing those views into policy positions that had the same effect in practice but on the surface were racially neutral. And the effects of those strategies mirror each other in the present day, where the mainstream success and support of such positions is in large part dependent on the ability to deny the inherent racism.
Le Pen’s FN is also quickly filling a vacuum created by the simultaneous crises that have befallen the mainstream political parties. France’s current president, François Hollande of the Socialist Party, is the first president in the history of the Fifth Republic to not seek a second term. Hollande’s popularity has plummeted in the past few years, in part due to the fallout from the intensely unpopular labor reforms (Loi travail) that he attempted to push through the French legislature last year, which was perceived as a massive betrayal of the leftist base that was responsible for his victory in 2012. By the end of 2016, with an approval rating hovering around 4%, he announced that he would not seek re-election, and Benoît Hamon nabbed the nomination a few months later after defeating current Prime Minister Manuel Valls in the primaries, whose popularity also greatly suffered in the aftermath of the Loi travail.
Even by French standards, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s platform and proposals are somewhat radical. He is calling for a 100% income tax on those who make more than 360,000€ a year, an expansion of the already generous French welfare state, a reduction of the work-week to 32 hours from its current 35 hours, a withdrawal from NATO, and a voter referendum on France’s membership in the European Union.
And perhaps his most radical proposal of them all, Mélenchon is calling to abolish the Fifth Republic altogether, on the grounds that it is inherently corrupt beyond repair, and to start anew with a Sixth Republic founded on principals much more reflective of Marxism and direct democracy.
Another of Mélenchon’s more striking proposals is a proposition to establish a maximum wage scenario. From Mélenchon’s website (translated):
“I propose to do away with these indecent “rewards”! For this, I propose to act and not just wait for self-limitation and other well-known ethical codes! How? By fixing by law a maximum wage. That is to say, a maximum difference between the lowest wage and the highest wage in a company. I propose to fix this maximum difference at twenty times the lowest salary. This measure was implemented in Ecuador by President Correa. I mention that in France, in the social and solidarity economy, such a principle already exists and allows only a gap of one to seven. But note the arrogance of the caste which overwhelms those who demand a raise of the SMIC (minimum wage) while defending its own. For the powerful, the wages of the young are always too high.
So I suggest beating them at their own game and returning the argument to them. With my proposal for a maximum salary, if Carlos Ghosn wants to earn 7.2 million euros for his role as CEO of Renault, he will be able to. But on one condition: he must increase the employees of Renault so that the least paid makes 360,000 euros per year or 30,000 euros per month! If Carlos Tavares wants to earn 5.2 million euros a year, the board of directors will be able to decide this way. Provided that the lowest paid employee of PSA is paid 260,000 euros per year or 21,000 euros per month!”
* * * * *
While Jean-Luc Mélenchon has surged post-debates, the mainstream candidates have stumbled. Marine Le Pen found herself the subject of great controversy last week after publicly stating that the French were “not responsible” for the infamous ‘Velodrome d’Hiver’ deportation of 1942 in which French police rounded up approximately 13,000 Jews in and around Paris, the vast majority of whom were then sent to Auschwitz and murdered in the camp. The comments were widely interpreted as echoes of the FN’s stance during her father’s reign, and signaled to many that the FN has not distanced itself from such beliefs nearly as much as Le Pen has tried to portray.
Meanwhile, François Fillon has been mired in controversy over multiple financial scandals, both allegedly misusing public funds to pay his wife and daughter as government employees, as well as for failing to disclose a 50,000€ loan in violation of French law. And last month, Emmanuel Macron, who has been trying desperately to appeal to both the left and right as a centrist candidate, managed to alienate many supporters on both sides within a matter of days. He infuriated much of his right-wing base by publicly proclaiming that he believed France’s colonial rule in Algeria to be a “crime against humanity,” and then offended many on the left after voicing support for those opposed to gay marriage.
As it stands at this moment, it’s truly anyone’s election. And regardless of how it plays out in the end, the results will likely shake up France to the core and reverberate for years to come.
Alley Valkyrie is an writer, artist, and spirit worker currently living in Rennes, France. She is one of the co-founders of Gods&Radicals and has been interacting with a wide assortment of both gods and radicals for nearly twenty years now. When she’s not talking to rivers and cats or ranting about capitalism, she is usually engaged in a variety of other projects. She can also be supported on Patreon.
In January, I stood behind some 30 or so people full of hopes, dreams, fantasies, and faith. I was waiting to buy a pack of cigarettes; they, on the other hand, were buying lottery tickets. One of the largest prizes the United States had ever seen was on offer, 1.6 billion dollars. For a few dollars, each of the people in front of me would receive a piece of paper with numbers proving they’d participated.
A few days later, a public ritual would divine a set of numbers, and if those numbers matched what was printed on the tickets, the bearer of that receipt would win and become unfathomably wealthy.
As I watched the slow procession of the devoted waiting their turn at the register, it was hard not to think about other public rituals I’d witnessed. Add some incense and black clothing, and the counter could easily be a communion rail, the white slips of paper the sacred host conveying a chance at divine blessing. It also felt a bit like election day, each lottery participant registering their preference and performing a civic duty, compelled by their fear of poverty and their hopes for a better world.
It was difficult to ignore the emotions of those around me, their hearts swelling with possibility. No more worries. No more trudging to work each morning after waking the kids for school, coming home tired to make dinner and scrape some moment of their own out of the evening before the cycle began again. Their kids could go to college. They could move somewhere better, help their mother get that surgery she needed, put their grandfather in a better hospice. Life might finally change. Freedom from fear and struggle. Travel, luxury, a good life.
No spiritually-minded person can miss the metaphysical aspects of a lottery. Each person certainly had their heart and mind full of intention, millions of people holding images of what-might-be as they handed over their last $5 in exchange for symbols and ciphers on slips of paper. Though each had probably heard the odds (292 million, or a little less than the population of the United States, to 1), each nonetheless held a faith that they might be unique, be chosen, and receive the power to manifest their will.
Watching them, feeling the pressure of their process, I found myself thinking of my own hopes, what I might do with that much money. The commercial slogan of many state lotteries resounded in my head, echoed verbally by the people in front of me:
“You can’t win if you don’t play”
Wasn’t I being foolish to spend money on cigarettes instead of a chance to change my life? Wasn’t my abstention from the collective fantasy an empty protest and a self-defeating prophesy? I wouldn’t win one and a half billion dollars, because I wouldn’t buy a ticket. I couldn’t, because I wouldn’t play.
When it was finally my turn at the counter, I bought my pack of cigarettes, rode my bike back to my sister’s place, and chain-smoked by a fire pit the rest of the night, contemplating my stubborn refusal to participate in a rigged system.
It’s election season in the United States, a period which began a full year-and-a-half ago, one that will start again two-and-a-half years from now. Millions of people will be casting their ballots on paper or automated machines, registering their hopes and fears and awaiting the pronouncements of the civic oracles.
I don’t vote in national elections. I’m one of those people, the stubborn cynics who refuse to participate no matter the stakes. I’m told the stakes for this election are higher than they’ve ever been, not 1.6 billion dollars, but the fate of America, of women and minorities, of peace and prosperity. My own fate as a queer leftist, the fate of my Black lover (who likewise doesn’t vote), the fates of all my women and trans friends. Healthcare, foreign war, domestic security, and global warming all hang in the balance.
But all I can do is shake my head and shrug.
I wasn’t always so cynical about American elections. In 2000, I gave a lot of my time to the campaign of Ralph Nader, helping to disrupt a rally by Al Gore with a group of other queers. Al Gore opposed equal rights for gays, opposed marriage equality, and was greenwashing capitalism. Despite the fact that the other major party’s candidate scared me dreadfully, I decided I was too young to be ruled by fear and coerced into voting against my conscience.
Four years later, I participated in the caucuses and attended rallies for Howard Dean, whose campaign was suddenly obliterated by the strangest logic I’d ever heard. “Kerry is Electable,” went the party-line at the caucus, uttered by the well-dressed upper-class whites who looked at the rest of us as unruly, unrealistic dreamers. Embittered at the Democratic Party machine, I voted for Róger Calero, the Socialist Worker’s Party candidate–technically ineligible because he’s Nicaraguan.
2008 brought a fresh slate, and what felt like a breath of fresh air. Eight years of George W. Bush were over, and there was a Black candidate running for office! Everyone was so excited, as was I. I’d never gotten to vote for a Black presidential candidate before!
No way was I going to miss such a historic opportunity, so I voted for Cynthia McKinney.
Obama won instead. Black, but male. Still, lots of amazing promises, like shutting down Guantanamo Bay and getting US soldiers out of the Middle East. At last check, Guantanamo Bay still exists (but has solar power now!), and, well, you probably know how the Middle East is going.
I didn’t vote in 2012, and I won’t in 2016, either. I won’t be voting for either of the two major party candidates, nor for any of the 29 other candidates running for president.
I won’t be voting at all.
Lots of people have lots of arguments why such a position is wrong. Some suggest it’s a sign of my ‘privilege’ to abstain. Some have told me it’s anti-feminist not to vote for the Democratic candidate, or that immigrants will destroy America if I don’t vote for the Republican candidate, or if I vote for no-one I’m ‘wasting my vote,’ or that by not voting I’m giving tacit consent to evil.
And, like every four years, the tired argument is pulled out that if ‘you don’t vote, you can’t complain.’ It’s not much different from the lottery argument: If you don’t play, you can’t win. Just like the lottery, though, what isn’t said is that even if you do play, you and millions of other people will lose anyway.
Nation-States are mythic constructs which hold the power of life and death over the people they rule. Born at the same time as capitalism and private-property, rising from the ashes of the theocratic power of the Church, the Nation holds the same sway over our souls and bodies as did once Priest and King. Liberal Democracy puts a fascinating facade over the Nation’s power. Rather than unelected Monarchs we have elected Presidents, rather than a community of believers we have a faceless mass of fellow citizens who, like us, supposedly give our consent to be ruled.
I never consented.
I signed no documents, made no verbal agreements, and never once stated I’d like a rich person to make decisions which determine where I can go in the world, how I subsist, whom I love, and how I and others might die. Undoubtedly, none of the recently murdered Blacks gave their consent to be sacrificed on the altars of American Capitalism, none of the indigenous people whose ancestral lands are destroyed for pipelines said ‘yes, please’ to the government who approved their displacement.
Likewise, the land under us never asked to be raped to make way for highways and landfills, there’s no record of rivers and lakes agreeing to be poisoned for the greater good, to sate the extractive lust of the United States and all it claims to represent.
To demand my vote is to demand my consent for the horror that America does in my name, be that the imprisonment of millions for property and drug crimes here or the obliteration of children to get at the oil they’re living atop in the Middle East. Insisting I must ‘play’ in order to ‘win’ is a sick joke at best when the jackpot is only the hope of less slaughter of others and a little less poverty for myself. At worse, it’s the language of the abuser and the rapist. If you don’t say no, it means yes–yet even if you do say no, it still means yes because they have power.
The mass ritual of voting for who will be the new face of the Leviathan sucks everyone into a vortex of celebrity-worship, displacing radical political actions onto candidates resembling our hopes and dreams. Meanwhile, some get richer, drowning in revenue from campaign advertisements, just as State coffers swell with sales from lottery tickets. That the same massive media corporations who shape our perception of the world and the urgency of our vote make the most money from the election frenzy is hardly accidental.
At the end of August, the two major presidential candidates raised over $708 million dollars. By November, this figure may approach $1 billion, not quite as much as the lottery in January but certainly enough to convince millions of people to line up in a massive public ritual.
In the end, the juggernaut of America lurches on, fed by blood of dark-skinned people and black coal and oil. No vote to end the American nightmare will ever be on the ballot, no tick-box asking me if I’d like to end capitalism will ever be available to check.
At the end of this upcoming election night, as the Diviners pronounce to the world who ‘won,’ I’ll be sitting in front of that fire pit again, thinking about the lottery, about the myth of the Nation, and wondering if we’ll ever realize that the world we want isn’t something we can ever vote for.
Rhyd is the co-founder and Managing Editor of Gods&Radicals.