By Bryer Sousa
Within the confines of preparation surrounding the development of a hopefully crisp, concise, and thoughtful series of regular columns and commentaries for Ideas & Action, I intend to focus my literary efforts upon the way, in which, the working-class is purposely set against one another at home and abroad. Due to the fact that the US is a Really Existing Capitalist Democracy (RECD), or RECD society (1,2), whereas the globalized neoliberal (3) forces that of the world-over compliment an international plutocracy (4) various modes of thought ought to be considered if one hopes to garner a coherent as well as entire deconstruction of the current atmosphere of hopelessness, despair, and atomization that has decimated worker-solidarity (5).
More specifically, the modes that are also centrally concerned with the medium of worker self-managed struggle will be explored throughout the duration of this series of commentaries. In other words, an anarcho-syndicalist (6) and libertarian socialist (7,8) based critique will, in many cases, remain implicit, while the material will be explicitly considered. In the tradition of transparency and clarity, the positioning of the global labor-force will be thoroughly considered. However, to begin, let us delve into our own social, political, and economic, impurities.
An Electoral Extravaganza
From the age that we are old enough to do so, we are told to vote, for “freedom isn’t free” and so forth. Yet, underpinning said ideological clap-trap of the fashionable American partisan ambiance exists the unspoken supposition that what is meant by “go vote” is exclusively fretful with the US Presidential Election – the most alien form of civic commitment that we “democratically” attend to as a constituency.
In other words, the zealous flag swaying that ever more resembles theological techniques every four years via a national election is treated as though it is the sole activity one should consider if they care about having their declarations accounted for. Instead of fostering a sense of community within our youth, and young adults – the authors of this piece not excluded – we are teased with an “I voted” decal and to return to normality after the Presidential Inauguration.
To evoke the radical spirit of historian Howard Zinn, let us recall that “voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.”
The notion that “our vote counts” is also espoused by those in positions of power. But does it? Does it count if we vote and we have no idea why or for who? To reiterate, does it count if we vote based solely off of the information we are fed by the mass media, popular news stations and podcasts discussing everything but the issues that need changing, the progression that needs a swift kick into motion and instead, on the personal lives and affairs of the individuals running?
To answer such a profound question, we could easily turn to Professor Noam Chomsky and Professor Edward S. Herman (9) as a means of highlighting the arrangement and undercurrents of the way in which propaganda, or commercialized as well as state-sanctioned illusions are used to pacify the American populace. Of greater historical interest, we could even tend to the anarchist thinker Emma Goldman, who keenly observed that “the right to vote, or equal civil rights, may be good demands, but true emancipation begins neither at the polls nor in courts,” (10).
In any case, the exploration conjured herein ought not be interpreted such that a complete sense of apathy towards civic engagement necessarily follows. Rather, we so direly need to think deeply in regards to the forms of political activity that we dedicate our limited time towards and evaluate its impact. Instead of countlessly rehashing a presidential election, which is staged by the same public relations firms that sell cars and laundry (11), we should survey the local landscape, tend to matters of town and regional politics, where small collections of concerned individuals can work to garner true change from the bottom-up.
There is indeed a level of hopelessness and discouragement going into this election knowing that the last hasn’t worked the way most millennials had thought it would and the country has not made the progress that we have all dreamed of.
By way of returning to Zinn, note that “what matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but ‘who is sitting in’ — and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”
(1) Bryer Sousa, “An Exploration of Anarcho-syndicalism as an Environmentally Sustainable Solution to the Current Anthropogenic Ecological Crisis,” Maine Sustainability & Water Conference, 2015.
(2) Noam Chomsky, “Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?”
(3) Wendy Larner, “Neo-liberalism: Policy, Ideology, Governmentality,” Studies in Political Economy, 2000.
(4) “Plutocracy,” Wikipedia.
(5) George Monbiot, “Neoliberalism is Creating Loneliness. That’s what’s Wrenching Society Apart,” The Guardian, 2016.
(6) Rudolf Rocker, “Anarchosyndicalism.”
(7) Daniel Guérin, “Anarchism.”
(8) Peter Marshall, “Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism,” PM Press, 1992.
(9) Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” 2002.
(10) Emma Goldman, “Anarchism and Other Essays,” 1911.
(11) Matthew Creamer, “Obama Wins! … Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year,” Ad Age, 2008.