Van Jones' Exit from Eden

This morning, I woke up to several friends’ Facebook statuses or posted links telling me that Van Jones, Obama’s Green Jobs “czar” (I need to make an aside here, to say how thoroughly I detest that ridiculous job title… what the fuck are we doing, borrowing that from the Romonovs, the Kaisers, and Roman Emperors from Augustus onwards?), has resigned under fire from right wing bozos.

Okay. To tell the truth, I lead a sheltered life vis-à-vis the American media. I am not a TV snob, per se, but I pretty much stopped watching TV around about the beginning of the second war in Iraq… I was at home, those nights, watching the US bombing of Baghdad, and it sickened me to such an extent that I had to stop watching the news, and then TV in general.

I never really got back to it, and Netflix and the internet are so ubiquitous now that I mostly get my news from a) The Guardian.UK online; b) Livejournal; c) Facebook links; d) Wikipedia. These sources only glancingly reveal refracted views of stuff like FoxNews and the various talking head shows. I don’t know from right wing pundits, honestly. In fact, I absolutely shocked my ex this summer by not knowing who Glenn Beck was. So, now I know what an asshole Glenn Beck is. Fine. But how do such idiotic wingnuts manage to shape loud (if not majoritarian) public opinion via their cretinous radio shows etc?

I have seen clips of the Town Hall meetings and lunatics denouncing socialistic single payer health care. And Obama retreats from his extremely watered down position in the face of their frothing at the mouth, though likely more from the unrelenting pressure of Big Pharma lobby cartels. I mean, Obama does seem to actually know what socialist economic theory and leftist debate IS (cf. pp. 100-101, and elsewhere, in Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father, which yes, I have read), though I imagine Bill Clinton didn’t remain ignorant of them in college either.

But Obama’s politics are no closer to socialism of any stripe than Clinton’s were. I’m not saying that anyone on the Left is laboring under that delusion, by the way, just marveling at the depth of complete ignorance on the crazy Right.

(It’s interesting to me that Clinton allowed two black women to be forced off the gangplank of his administration – Lani Guinear and Joycelyn Elders [see note at bottom] – while Obama is taking fire for, and refusing to return fire on behalf of, men – Van Jones, Bill Ayers, and Reverend Wright.)

Neither Clinton nor Obama could claim their ground enough to ignore these attacks. I don’t believe that FDR would have allowed his administrative picks to be witch-hunted in the same way. It’s a measure of how weak and centrist the Democrats have become that they cannot weather the tiny storm in a teacup that calling Republicans “assholes” is.

The LA Times piously pointed to Van Jones’ remarks in Berkeley in which he used “… a reference to a lower anatomical orifice to describe Republicans”. Shocking, I declare. I watched the clip. Jones also deliberately protected Obama from the taint of assholishness, while admitting that he, himself, could be an asshole, and saying that that attitude has its uses. You know, I can easily imagine Andrew Jackson using exactly this political rhetoric on the stump.

Anyway, that, plus a description of Bush as a petroleum (crack) addict, plus some kind of odd position on 9/11 from a hastily signed letter five years ago… those are the basis on which a howling pack of wingnut media curs called for Jones’ dismissal. The more staid media are not very far behind – the LA Times describes Jones as a “onetime Marxist” and the New York Times damningly quoted the STORM post-mortem’s self description as “an anti-capitalist, antiwar organization committed to achieving “solidarity among all oppressed peoples” with “direct militant action.” Oh, horrors!

Kasama’s Mike Ely has already made the main point for us as socialists, which is the clear lessons we can continue to draw on the severe limitations progressives have if they choose to participate in Democratic Party structures or administrations. Read his piece on their blog for a great analysis.

The question that is related is one I am thinking about – and which has gotten some play here in the webzine recently – how do we start engaging with activists who were energized by the “Yes We Can” campaign for change last Fall, who are beginning to feel defensive and embattled as Obama fulfills his promises of extending the war in Afghanistan, and of further dismantling PUBLIC education in favor of charter schools, breaking teachers’ unions, dividing and conquering states by linking acceptance of merit pay for teachers to some federal funds, and enthroning standardized tests and standardized curricula? Not to mention abandoning his lukewarm overtures to healthcare reform.

We don’t want to be shrill, told-you-so, sectarian assholes (we can use these terms without being fired for it… thank Darwin, or whomever). We want to continue to recognize the historic importance of the moment of electing Barack Obama as president. Yet we want to firmly point out the inherent logic in his positions. We want to build a visionary, creative, empowered movement of independent activists who can see that electoral politics in either of the two main parties is a dead end.

For myself, I live in the bubble that is the Bay Area, and far from the Florida mother who was told last year that if her daughter stayed home to watch the Inauguration it would be considered an “unexcused absence”, MY County Superintendent of Education, Sheila Jordan (speaking of former radicals and socialists) sent out an edict that all teachers should try to show Obama’s Address on Education to every single student in Alameda County on Tuesday morning. I’m glad to do that. What Obama represents as a symbol to my students – let alone an excellent model of rhetoric and public speaking – is extremely important.

NOTE: Lani Guinear was Clinton’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, whose nomination was withdrawn because she was associated in the media with affirmative action and quotas; Joycelyn Elders was Clinton’s Surgeon General, who was canned because she spoke publicly in favor of masturbation and was in favor of contraception being available in schools.

"Skinny" or "Rockin' the Beer Gut"

In these days of incessant scare mongering around ‘the obesity epidemic’, I have been wanting to write about how I experience fat activism. Like my earlier involvement with nonmonogamy, it has been a little hard for me to figure out how to integrate my lived experience as a socialist with my very embodied experience of being a fat woman.

It took me even longer to become conscious of fat acceptance and fat activism and fat politics as liberatory than it did for me to figure out how feminism and socialism jibed, or could jibe. In some ways, being fat, a woman, and a revolutionary socialist (and viewing each and all of those experiences as political positions) feels slightly easier than trying to articulate how sleeping with more than one person at a time worked with being a socialist. I am still not entirely sure why that is the case, since gender identity(ies) and being genderqueer, and sexuality all seem highly political lived experiences.

Somehow, I was never convinced for myself (and CERTAINLY never managed to convince anyone else, or at least anyone socialist) that nonmonogamy (which I prefer to the term polyamory) was in and of itself a political stance. I can think of people who DO live it that way, consciously and politically, and I admire them. But I can’t feel it that way for myself.

Being fat, though, and trying to love myself that way and vigorously assert myself, and refuse to accept limitations that society or popular culture seems to endlessly want to impose on me… that does feel political, in the way that resisting oppression based on any group identification that imposes negative stereotypes and cruelties feels political. There is a lot of overlap, also, with the disability (or differently-abled) rights movement.

So. One way that I work at expanding the cultural space I feel I can take up is by finding art and music that celebrates different sizes. Um, and porn, too. Fat burlesque. Bellydancing. Fat pin-up girls. Musically, I have a playlist that at this point, has twenty songs on it. Until last week, it only had 18 songs, but then a comrade sent me two more, and I was hella happy. I am going to write about those two songs, and maybe some of the other songs from the list, and then I want to solicit a) discussion on this topic, and b) CONTRIBUTIONS to this playlist! Come on, collectivize your musical knowledge about songs that celebrate difference in beauty, attraction, desire, and size.

Now, obviously none of these songs exists in some pure socialist-feminist utopia — many of their lyrics are problematic, but I don’t give a good goddamn; the celebration is rare enough that I will happily accept some objectification in the enjoyment.

Okay — any list of big girl appreciation music probably has to either begin with Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” or with Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. Like many songs of this type, they do both glorify the hourglass shape — in fact, I cannot think of one of these songs (that has been popular at any rate) that does not celebrate the supersized, outsized, exaggerated hourglass figure. I am not blind to those attractions, myself, I assure you. But okay, it’s a bit limiting. Still, particularly Sir Mix-a-Lot’s lyrics have a lot of enjoyable imagery in them: “gimme a sister, I can’t resist her, red beans and rice didn’t miss her” and ” When it comes to females, Cosmo ain’t got a thing to do with my selection”.

One song — the one that started my playlist, in fact, moves me mostly because of its accompanying video is “Skinny” by Lo-rider. The sexiness of that video was, by itself, a revelation to me. The tongue-in-cheek presentation of these gloriously large women enacting HOUSEHOLD CHORES while dressed in revealing and very confining lingerie, with sly ad copy from the domestic products — all of it made me forgive the techno beat, and even like it. It would be fun to dance to this. The women are so clearly reveling in their hotness, and enjoying the ridiculousness of the vignettes that it is impossible not to adore this song and the images.

A different pair of songs appeal to me because they’re *by* women — “Big Boned Gal” by k. d. lang, and “Big Fat Mamas are Back in Style” by Candye Kane, a burlesque dancer and blues singer. In the former, the very frequent trope of “the club” is introduced. Many of these songs feature appreciation of a larger woman dancing enthusiastically. Candye Kane’s lyrics are actually from the point of view of a self-identified fat and sexy mama, who is confidently proclaiming her own attractions.

And finally there are the pair of songs my comrade sent me this week: “Rockin’ the Beer Gut”, by some country group I’ve never heard of, the Trailer Choir, and “Beautiful” by Akon (an “associate of T-Pain”), which is fascinating to me because of the disputed lyrics… and also because it sounds very like a synth band from Madrid in the 1980s, Mecano. Strange, that. I don’t think he’s sampling… The country entry is kind of fucking adorable. The singer — again in the context of watching a woman in a club — raves about “a five-foot something cherry bomb, she had everythin’ goin’ on; the first thing that caught my eye — she was rockin’ the beer gut, and I love the way she’s not ashamed, rockin’ the beer gut, well, it’s just some extra love around her waist… with her blue jeans a little tight around her butt, rockin’ the beer gut…” Okay, I forgive the fact that at the beginning of the song, she was sippin’ a Bud, which is surely the wretchedest beer possible.

As for Akon’s “Beautiful,” this lyric is audible in there, though no one who writes out the lyrics appears to admit that: “You’re so beautiful/where’d you come from/you’re out of this world to me/you’re a symbol of what a big beautiful woman should be…” Guess which word disappears in all the written versions I’ve seen? It’s not like he emphasizes it; if anything, it is a little swallowed. But I swear to god it’s there. Certainly he is not singing “every” as many of the fan-transcribed lyrics would have it.

Akon’s song is also set in a club, and he tries to skirt an interesting line between admiration of a woman who is “independent”, at whom guys are trying to holla, and whom, for that reason, he doesn’t want to “bother” — but then, he can’t resist her after all, and goes on crooning how beautiful she is. (I also have to say, one of Akon’s collaborators — either Colby O’Donis or Kardinal Offishall — gives the madonna/whore dichotomy a somewhat hilarious workout, with the line, about an imagined future where this beautiful woman comes home with him from the club, and he promises to spend thousands of dollars on her, once she undresses “not like a hooker, but like a priestess”).

Okay. Those are the songs that make me feel strong, and happy, and sexy, and active. If Emma Goldman really said that she wasn’t interested in a revolution that didn’t involve dancing, then I think she’d support my position. If people have suggestions of other songs, I really hope they’ll post them. I may, in the comments, post my playlist as it exists so far.

Socialist Futurism: Sci-Fi for Reds and Greens

A lot of socialists have a yen for science fiction. I mean, apart from the fact that we are often geeks anyway, science fiction almost always tries to imagine an alternate future. It extrapolates from current situations, social and technological, and tries to predict what could be.

That’s REALLY useful, because honestly, since Marx, socialists haven’t been very good at actually describing what a socialist future could be like, except in terms of negatives: there won’t be sexism, there won’t be oppression based on race, or sexuality, or ethnicity or culture. There won’t be material inequality: the productive means of the world will be carefully organized so that everyone has a decent material existence that also works with what is sustainable on this earth.

But that is a pretty amorphous description. How will the economy be organized? How will people live together? What new technologies will exist? Really, wouldn’t it be easier to recruit if we had something to point to as a model?

Marx, when asked something of the sort, said (according to International Socialist Review associate editor, Joel Geier; he once looked it up for me in Marx’s very voluminous correspondence), “we cannot make the recipes of the future until we are in the kitchen of the future” – which is as awesome a gendered Marx quote as I have ever come across.

So we tend to hopefully look at science fiction as one place one might see glimpses of these future recipes. I know that I liked most versions of Star Trek for that reason (never mind the military organization of it – shhh!)

But what science fiction does NOT do, which we as socialists are better at, is describe how our current society gets from here to there. That period of transition is left very vague, almost always. Edward Bellamy, in writing his classic Looking Backward, referred glancingly to riots following an economic crisis. He was an early socialist and a utopian, so he at least felt some responsibility to hint at an explanation for his re-awakened 19th century protagonist.

Most science fiction authors don’t. For many of them, the invention of technologies themselves somehow solve the problems of capitalist social relations, or else they are out and out libertarians who revel in how the future will have even more atomized individualism and MORE unfettered capitalism (I’m looking at you, Robert Heinlein, and sometimes, much though I like him, John Varley). Socialists are better at describing what conditions might lead to a revolutionary crisis and a new world built on the ashes of the old. We have long arguments about it and whole schools of theory erected to it. And we love those debates.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Well, so does Kim Stanley Robinson. Here is finally an author who not only imagines alternate futures (and an alternate past, too, see more below) but who also describes the How To Get There. Not only does he write the most realistic description of what a revolution might be like that I’ve ever read, but he even counterposes two trilogies – one could be stated as Revolution, and the other, Reform.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a self-described “green socialist” who admires Noam Chomsky. Thanks, Wikipedia. I would have guessed both of those things anyway, from his writing. There is a healthy tinge of the sort of affinity group anarchism of the late 1990s and early 2000s in his writing.

He is an extremely prolific author: three trilogies, several freestanding books, and many, many short stories. Most of his novels develop themes that resonate with socialists: what possible futures exist for our current environmentally precarious capitalist, crisis-ridden society? What, very concretely, can we as humans do, with science, technology, and political and social creativity to stop and reverse the destruction of earth’s ecosystem? What can we do to bring about egalitarian relations between humans? Robinson brings these questions alive.

The Mars Trilogy

In his most well-known work, the Mars Trilogy, published between 1992 and 1996, Robinson imagines an alternate future where the invention of medical longevity treatments allows characters to live through the colonization and contested terraforming of Mars. His initial scientist-settlers are a mixed crew of Russians and Americans – there is something about former Soviet citizens that has really spoken to socialist science fiction authors (cf. Ken MacLeod). They successfully land on Mars and establish a settlement, but then a debate emerges about whether to try and preserve Mars’ environment as it is, sans breathable air or free water, or whether to use science to dramatically change the planet – to “areoform” it, as a parallel to the notion of terraforming Earth.

There are two revolutions in the course of Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, and both are described in minute detail. Unlike any revolutions I have ever seen elsewhere in fiction, these consist in large part of long, long, long meetings, and votes, and countermotions, and impassioned arguments.

There are some rifles, too, but really, the meetings have the most impact. They are very inclusive – instead of a vanguard model, they very clearly reflect the sort of spokescircle arrangement common in the anti-globalization movement and in parts of the 2003 antiwar movement. Very “Direct Action To Stop the Corporations and Areoformers.”

Robinson manages to make these very specifically rendered and nearly endless meetings fascinating, though possibly that has something to do with my red diaper childhood growing up in the movement. I’m pretty inured to long meetings. But they are fascinating, really. And realistic.

The Mars colonists do break their ties with the statified transnational corporations of earth, and they work out compromises among their differing viewpoints of what to do with Mars’ um, areology.

Science in the Capital Trilogy

His third and most recent trilogy, apparently known as Science in the Capital, is different in some major ways, and particularly timely given the resent US presidential election.

In Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, and Sixty Days and Counting, Robinson takes on more directly the question of global warming and eco-catastrophe. The extremely detailed revolutionary planning sessions of his Mars trilogy are here replaced with extremely detailed descriptions of grant writing and grant granting, by the National Science Foundation. Again, this was pretty fascinating to me – in part because the ways and means that humans have already developed that COULD BE deployed to help arrest climate change are so convincing.

The science is at least hopeful, like that one single slide in Al Gore’s powerpoint presentation, er, I mean, movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which showed concrete solutions and how much restoration of the atmosphere would result from each.

But this trilogy presents Reform, rather than Revolution. The Masses in this book are popular scientists and the liberal policy wonks of Washington. The heroes are in one case, Buddhist monks from a microstate facing extinction due to rising ocean levels, or a Democratic presidential candidate who runs on a Fix the Earth platform.

I had this fantasy when I was eight. Why couldn’t we groom and run a socialist revolutionary as a “Democrat” and then UNMASK him or her after the election?! My father took me seriously and explained that unless there had been a long period of radicalization and independent political victories alongside this submarine candidate, the electoral and Congressional system was designed to restrict such a victory of just the executive. Okay, he didn’t use that language, but I got the point.

The secondary plot, about an NSF scientist who falls for a black ops National Security Agency employee who is trying to combat her rogue Total Surveillance operative husband, is kind of ridiculous, and more limited in its social/gender creativity than Robinson’s Mars trilogy characters were, though to be fair, it’s not his main strength as a science fiction author. For that sort of thing, Marge Piercy is a much better option.

Nevertheless, it is well worth reading, for the science, and the potentials and limitations on electoral reform as a solution to anthropogenic climate change.

One more plug: normally, I am not keen on alternate histories, but Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt poses a fascinating question, whether you agree with his answers or not: what would world history have been like if the Bubonic Plague had killed 95 to 99% of Europe’s population instead of the 30% it actually did kill? No significant Christianity or European expansion. Imagine it, and then, seriously, go read the book. Robinson takes the same characters through ten historical generations by means of Buddhist reincarnation of a jati of related souls, whose different incarnations can be identified by their first initials, so you’ll learn a little comparative religion, too, something we socialists would do well not to ignore.

YouTube: Race, Gender, and Imperialism in Iraq

Check out this YouTube click of an American army officer [transcribed below] as he harangues an Iraqi police patrol, telling them they’re “acting like a bunch of fucking women”. They’re “pussies”. They need to “man up”. They are “too much of a fucking woman” to patrol.

And, finally, their own nationalism is at fault, obviously, because he doesn’t see them “in [his] hometown.” That part made me LOL. We don’t see Iraqi military occupiers in American towns. Nope.

This is a rarity, since the official military policy was changed two years ago to ban soldiers from uploading video or blogging about their tours. How it got out, I am not sure. The gendered aspects are not surprising, of course, but it is still instructive.

“We’re going to talk a little bit about how you are conducting yourself as Iraqi police. Raise your hand if you are in the Mahdi Militia. Let’s see it. Who’s in the militia? Who has militia ties? Which ones of you are more loyal to the militia than you are to your own country?

None of you!? Bullshit! Some of you in this formation are fucking lying right now. You know why I’m pissed of? I come down here with my soldiers, trying to train you, and you’re trying to fucking kill Americans, you’re trying to kill your fellow fucking Iraqis, ‘cuz you got no fucking backbone.

You want everything from me. You want weapons and ammunition, you want fuel, you want trucks… but you’re too fucking pussy to go three kilometers down the fucking road and go get the people who are tearing this fucking town apart. That’s pure fucking cowardice. I’ll take three goddamn trucks down the road any fucking day! You think this is funny? You fucking – you want to call me out? You think it’s fucking funny? Why don’t I take your ass out back and kick your little fucking ass? You better shut the fuck up and fucking pay attention!

I got no problem with beating any one of your asses. Not one. Because I don’t give a fuck. Because you’re acting like a bunch of fucking women. Shut up while I’m talking! Shut your fucking mouth. I’m not going to come down here and waste my fucking time, or my soldiers’ lives, because you don’t want to do shit. You guys better figure out where your loyalties lie. Are you loyal to Iraq? Shi’a? Sunni? What is it? You wanna fight for your country, or are you better off having me die for your country because you’re too much of a fucking woman to do it yourself? You love seeing Americans die for your country but you won’t die for it yourselves. I don’t see your ass in my hometown.

And you fucking leaders better get your heads out of your asses too. Lead from the fucking front. When’s the last time you led a patrol? Probably never. When’s the last time you led these guys down al-Lej, when did you take ‘em down to al-Lej and fucking lead ‘em on a fucking patrol? You never did, did you, ‘cuz you’re too chickenshit.

Figure out what the fuck you want out of us or I’m going to stop coming down here. And when the Sunnis from fucking al-Lej come down here and cut your fucking legs off, I’m not going to do a god damned thing about it. I’m going to let them bomb your fucking ass into oblivion with their fucking mortars, because you will not do shit about it. I will not help people who do not help themselves.

So get your heads out of this fucking bullshit Mahdi Militia, and start fighting for Iraq. What do you want? Questions.

[An Iraqi Police Officer asks question in Arabic]

You want to fix your image? Fuck your stupid checkpoints, they’re worthless. Get all your weapons, get together, and start marching South, towards the river. I guarantee you’ll get into a gunfight and I guarantee you’ll fuck some people up. Get down there and kick some ass! Walk! You don’t need trucks. Take some water. Hey, quick making fucking excuses! Don’t talk about US patrols! I never saw your ass down in fucking al-Lej, where were you? I never saw you in Qanassa, Derayah, so shut the fuck up! Until you manage to man up, you shut the fuck up. You guys wanna be men, you go down there and fucking start beating some people’s asses. You’re supposed to be Iraqi police, why don’t you start acting like it? You sit here with your thumb up your ass ‘cuz you’re too fucking scared to do your jobs.”

The War(s) at Home: the Iraq War in movies

I teach in a working class suburb, not too far from Oakland, whose political character is very, very different from that in the city itself. Many of my current students have relatives who are in the military (which, despite the economic draft, had not been true in West Oakland, while I worked there). My school says the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, which sends shudders up my spine, and I am grateful that I’ve never yet been observed not leading it. Few of my fellow teachers have any trouble with the Pledge, for example. Some of them are Republican, even, which is fairly unusual in the greater Bay Area, and among teachers.

This Fall, I read one book and watched four films and discussed them with fellow teachers in some cases, and one or two students, in others. I watched, in order: Jarhead, In the Valley of Elah, Control Room, and Stop-Loss. I read The Road to Ar Ramadi by Camilo Mejia.

Jarhead


Jarhead is the movie adaptation of Anthony Swofford’s memoir of his involvement with the Gulf War in 1991. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the main character who joins the Marines and is pretty much the equivalent of Charlie Sheen’s character in Platoon, or Tim O’Brien’s literary self in The Things They Carried, by which I mean he is an Intellectual, and a Sensitive, Thinking soldier who does not fit into the gung ho tradition of the Marines but suffers through a dehumanizing boot camp à la Full Metal Jacket to emerge as a trained killer whose rifle is “part of him”.

One thing the movie does extremely well is record the very strange history of Desert Storm; I’d forgotten that the troop build-up in Saudi Arabia took so very long, and that units were there for months and months, more and more of them, before the actual, brief and overwhelming air war of January 1991.

Thus, the movie concentrates on the creation of killing specialists and their unreleased tension, where a better movie, Three Kings focuses on the absurdist aftermath of these brief, completely out-of-scale hostilities, where American military might dwarfed anything in the region, and reduced most Americans’ perception of the war to an elaborate video game.

The lack of a political pronouncement on the war was quoted in lots of reviews in one line: “Fuck politics. We’re here. The rest is bullshit.” Weirdly, that was the sentiment I ran into over and over again in 2003, once the war began despite the global protests of millions. Teacher after teacher told me: “Well, I was against the war before it began; I demonstrated… but now we’re there, and we have to do it right and get the job done.” The pathos and tragedy in that phrase is tremendous, five years later.

In the Valley of Elah


The second movie I watched was about this Iraq War, though it concentrated on the brutalizing effect of the war on a regular infantry soldier. In the Valley of Elah was recommended to me by one of my fellow teachers who has multiple family members in the military, whose family is Republican, whose cultural context is one in which the military is an honorable choice. But she told me about the film with her voice shaking, almost in tears. The simple symbolism of the American flag in the movie, charted through how Tommy Lee Jones explains how an immigrant custodian should never let it touch the ground, and raise it right side up — that reversing it has a very specific meaning — that symbolism affected her deeply, as well as other people I talked to who saw the movie.

Roger Ebert says that In the Valley of Elah is not a movie against the war in Iraq. I respect him all to hell, but I disagree. It’s more a movie against WAR, period, and against the dehumanizing and brutally gender-linked effects of war, but it is also a movie whose brutalities are based in the war we are currently in, and that’s the war in Iraq. Also the war in Afghanistan, but more on that in a minute. If you haven’t seen In the Valley of Elah, you really, really should. Apart from anything else, it could spark a discussion about how war and gender roles are related.

Control Room


After those two movies, I needed something that was very, very different. No one recommended this documentary to me, but I remembered my former student’s faith in the news, and decided to rent Control Room. It’s a long series of linked interviews with employees — technicians and journalists and the managers and proxy owners — of Al Jazeera, the independent 24 hour Arabic news channel based in Qatar. Rumsfeld decried this station as lying pro-Iraqi propaganda, but one of the central moments in the film is when Al Jazeera’s cameras pull back in downtown Baghdad to show the staged fakery of a small group of Arab men (“who don’t even have Iraqi accents” one journalist explains furiously) pulling down that famed statue of Saddam Hussein. No one else is present in the square. It is an entirely falsified bit of “history”, created by the American military.

One of the fascinating parts of this documentary was the transformation in one of CentCom’s (Central Command; the unified western military command in Iraq) main press liaisons, Lt. Josh Rushing. At first, he clearly believes his mission, and his clear-eyed full-faith honest responses to Al Jazeera interviews is something amazing to see. Over the course of the documentary, it is somewhat astonishing that he is able to listen to what these Arab journalists say to him — they make no pretense at being “objective”, instead insisting that there are different perspectives and all should be heard, not just the American point of view — and that he begins to doubt. After the completion of the film, Rushing was ordered by the Marines not to comment, ever. He abandoned a sixteen year military career and became an English-language reporter for Al Jazeera.

Stop Loss and The Road to Ar Ramadi

Finally, I watched Stop-Loss, which seems a bit like a dramatized and fictionalized movie version of the reality documented so movingly by Camilo Mejia in his memoir The Road to Ar Ramadi. The two are very different — Mejia was political from the start; his parents were Sandinistas and he had doubts early on — but the protagonists in both stories are caught in this dreadful political and military reality which is the Stop-Loss provision passed by Congress once it became clear that an all-volunteer military with limited enlistments could not provide enough bodies for the war.

When soldiers join any branch of the military now, their enlistment of four or six years is not the actual term they commit to, contractually. Because of “stop-loss”, they are liable to be recalled to service, against their will. It is entirely unclear what the limitations are to the length of time one can be involuntarily retained in active service. I know personally at least two servicemen who separated from service — whose enlistment periods were completed — who have been called up for further tours of duty to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. It is an extremely common maneuver, along with the use abroad of National Guards units more normally serving only in the United States, to shore up the exhausted and depleted numbers of military personnel on active duty in combat zones. Iraq Veterans Against the War has been very active in protesting these policies, which amount to the reimposition of the Draft under another name, but a Draft which disproportionately affects underemployed youth of color.

Students in my school engage with this movie the most. Many of them have older brothers and sisters or cousins who are in the military now. Many of them are terrified of what could happen to their relatives. Four years ago when I first started working there, I saw car after car with yellow ribbon sticker decals, saying Support Our Troops. I couldn’t go into a local coffee shop without hearing mothers discussing their children’s military careers. Talking about the war at school was a chancy subject, one that I had to approach very tentatively. Now families seem worn out. They want their children back.

My students are ardent Obama supporters — we have a Student Council election this coming Tuesday, November 4th, and there is a mock Presidential election on the ballot as well, though only featuring the Democratic and Republican candidates, along with two of the major California propositions: Prop 8, Yes on which will ban gay marriage, and Prop 4, Yes on which will require parental notification for abortion. I have no doubt about the outcome of the mock presidential ballot, but consciousness is uneven to say the least, so I am very curious about how the propositions will come out — IF the administration does not intervene to quash the ballots. The teacher who organized this did it somewhat in stealth mode.

Over all, what I think is useful and important with these films and others is to watch them and engage with people about them, where they are. Someone who is affected by the transformation in In the Valley of Elah is someone whose politics are in motion. Someone outraged by Stop-Loss is someone who may be able to move towards anti-war activism. Organizing tactics like house meetings centered on a movie showing can be very effective — not too demanding to start with, but mobilizing nevertheless.

(I hesitated about titling this review of four movies. First of all, I’m not a well-versed film critic or anything. Second of all, I feel that the plural “wars” OUGHT to include Afghanistan, but the titles I plan to concentrate on do not. Therefore the plural refers to the first Gulf War, and this one. I also be detoured into a few other films and books. There, caveats duly noted.)

Bollywood: Song, Dance, and Worker Insurgency

Almost two years ago, I met somebody at a club, and when he told me what he did for a living, I nearly dropped my frou-frou drink. I think it was a tequila sunrise. That or a margarita. Something brightly colored and with a lot of sugar.

He was in the Air Force. More, he was learning Pashto, and therefore pretty much directly participating in the war in Afghanistan. After I stopped laughing slightly hysterically for three minutes (I was laughing because it was ridiculous how much I liked this guy; he looked very confused by my reaction) I told him I could speak some Farsi (which is related) and recited: Kargarun jahun hambastand az dast heche bejoz zangiraton, which means “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.” I learned that when I was thirteen. I used to know how to say it (thanks to international delegations who came to the Socialist Workers Party summer conventions in Oberlin) in: Spanish, French, Danish, German, Italian, and, well, Farsi. I only remember the Farsi for sure. If there are any Farsi speakers who want to correct my 13-year-old’s memory of this phrase, please, feel free. You can never know how to recite “Workers of the world…” in too many languages, that’s my credo. One of them.

Anyway, this guy is very smart, and my rattling off a classic socialist slogan in Farsi may have pointed the way to a potential mutual interest. He unwittingly turned the key to my heart by revealing to me the wonder that is Bollywood. I think, in fact, that because of the movie I am about to review for your pleasure, we ended up a couple for a long time.

Bollywood. You’d think that Bollywood wasn’t particularly political. It’s very glittery and gaudy (both things which, by themselves, recommend it to me anyway) and melodramatic and over-the-top. I’ve heard people who haven’t seen it describe it as soft core porn (without any kissing), and it’s true that there are a lot of tight saris, often drenched in monsoon rain. Also a lot of amorous rolling in conveniently ubiquitous hay. And it’s true that everything is a musical. I have with my own eyes seen musical numbers which use the Indian Army as the dance corps. Even the prolific ‘terrorist movie’ subgenre has plentiful “item numbers” — and the mandatory wedding sequence. So how can Bollywood be POLITICAL?

My expert informant told me about a movie that is a little hard to procure, these days. It is, however, worth it. Please try to get your hands on a copy of Coolie, with Amitabh Bachchan, from 1983.

Coolie is a convoluted tale of a father killed by rapacious capitalist lust and greed, a mother separated from her son and rendered amnesiac*, by that same embodied capitalist lust and greed, and a son who grows up as the protege of a unionized coolie, or train porter. The adult Iqbal Khan (Amitabh Bachchan, the most revered romantic and action hero of 1970s Bollywood film, and still a reigning actor and Star) is the leader of the train porters, with their jaunty red tunics and brass tie-on number plates. He leaps to the defense of a coolie who is knocked over and jeered at by the pampered son of a Railroad Board executive, and is arrested for his heroism.



The whole brotherhood of train porters do satyagraha for him and go on strike, leaving the helpless travellers to stagger along under their OWN luggage. The strike culminates with the coolies lying down, en masse, across the tracks. Iqbal is released for negotiations with the Railroad Board, and in a great scene, gatecrashes a party at the rich executive board member’s mansion, union mates in tow. The snotty son tries to eject him using force, and — wait for it — Iqbal picks up a hammer and sickle to fight him. It is a truly awesome piece of homage and fine, fine cinema.

Another bonus of the gatecrashing scene is the direct action looting that Iqbal leads the workers to. It is heartwarming to see him break apart a hideously tasteless “gold” chandelier so that its component parts can fit into the miniature model house that the executive’s son sneeringly offers him when Iqbal protests the impossibly priced new workers’ housing.

The movie also contains the regulation romantic subplot and comic relief (if the hammer and sickle was not comic enough for you), with one of my favorite scenes ever, of the rich executive’s niece, who has been kidnapped by Iqbal as negotiating leverage. She is handcuffed to his fold down bunk, in his trackside hovel, while he is whistling and preparing to make her an omelette on his butane one-burner stove. He’s listening to a radio cooking program and trying to follow the directions as he goes. Every time his back is turned, she switches the station, with her toes, I think — to a yoga program, whose instructions Iqbal continues to try and follow. It is brilliant comedy, and comedy does not always translate well.

Personally, I tend to recruit to Bollywood (more easily than I recruit to socialism, really), and agree with friends (and recruits) who tell me that a Bollywood blockbuster like the recent Om Shanti Om is analogous to an injection of liquid antidepressant. It IS. If you need some cheer and joy to put new heart in you for the struggle, watch a Bollywood film. It will do the trick, I promise you.

Also, I (think that I have) learned how to say “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains” in Hindi**:

Duniyake mazdoor ek ho! Khone ke liye zanjeeren hain

*This is actually the plot of 90% of Bollywood movies in the 1970s.

** I can also say it in Pashto now, as that was a Valentine’s Day present of a year ago.

Oh, and finally, another political plug for a much more recent movie: Rang de Basanti, which is a melodramatic indictment of corruption in modern India and a celebration of non-pacifist nationalism in 1930s India. Rang de Basanti, with Aamir Khan, shows Indian revolutionaries reading Lenin in their cells, while awaiting execution. Not Gandhi, not at all.

Revolution, love, and nonmonogamy

Looking backward: The following piece is from almost five years ago, and my own views continue to evolve. Sometimes I feel like they devolve. However, I think that the subject is worth Left discussion and commentary, because, as my friend A. says, why don’t lefties fucking GET personal politics? We can rag on “social conservatives”, but often our own views come off as some kind of queasily tolerant personal-as-political Not In My Back Yard. So I am posting this, and will rebut it in the comments, and hope other people will chime in, too.

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“Coming Out” as Poly?

I think I used to romanticize the notion of “coming out”, the same way that I romanticized the notion of being an armed rebel in the IRA or the FSLN or the FMLN or the Spanish Civil War. In my mind it was dangerous, heroic, exciting, adrenaline-filled, brave, proud, and sort of gloriously STUBBORN. All of those characteristics appealed to me. I’d known best friends and relatives who came out, in fact, and it was like that for them. I didn’t actually KNOW any IRA members, etc., though I’d met relatives of the Hunger Strikers and active service members of the IRA, and political refugees whose pasts were probably linked to armed struggle of various kinds. But “coming out”, if by that one means coming out as interested in or identifying as “polyamorous”… that’s not romantic. So far, I’d say it’s much more nerve-wracking, embarrassing, and just filled with social discomfort. It’s productive of long, awkward silences. It provokes throat-clearing and bitten lips and sideways glances and overly hearty “Really?”s And it has succeeded in being the only thing I can ever imagine doing that might, in fact, have shocked my family.

My family is three generations of atheists and two generations of revolutionary marxists. There have been (closeted) queers in every generation I can find, and openly gay men and dykes in the last two generations. No one has ever been shunned for their sexuality in my family, on either my mother’s or my father’s side. People might have politely ignored the implications of certain behaviors, in the 1920s or 1930s, but it’s hard to imagine no one knew. In some cases it is clear that EVERYONE knew. And then, the politics. It’s hard to shock the older generation when the older generation was on the barricades (figuratively speaking) and being arrested for Civil Rights marches and antiwar demonstrations (literally) before you were born. Oh, I guess I could shock them by losing my mind and becoming a Republican. Or, worse, a Democrat. But short of becoming suddenly stupid, there was never much of an opportunity for me to rebel. I sometimes wonder if I am doomed to perennial immaturity because I have NOT gone through the stage of rebelling against my parents.

I couldn’t even rebel via drugs, because my folks both smoked weed most evenings, watching Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. And I lay quaking in bed, imagining the cops bursting through the front door to arrest them. When my dad OFFERED me a toke -I was fourteen, at a party of grownup Socialist Workers Party opposition members I wasn’t interested in the least … (as I recall, we were all intently discussing whether the hijab and veil could EVER have any progressive character, and the position of women in the Iranian Revolution… but this was BEFORE the Embassy takeover…) And they didn’t care if I drank on the weekends, as long as I didn’t go too far. There wasn’t much left to rebel against, you know?

My sister managed. As she decided to pursue spirituality -not Christianity, though our great aunt was a nun, but sort of New Age crystals and affirmations. Stuff I had enormous contempt for at age 20, when she got into it (which should imply that I don’t have as much automatic contempt, now, having lived in the Bay Area for years). And she was a pacifist, too, which was kind of beyond the pale for our revolutionary family. She may even once have flirted with voting Democrat, though I think she remained pure even in the voting booth. But when she came out as a dyke (twice: once in high school and once in college) no one flickered an eyelid. My GRANDMOTHER told her “I’ve always thought that was a reasonable option.” My father did wistfully say, once in a while, that he thought it might just be a stage. And at the same time, he looked at me, wondering, unsure of MY sexuality, despite my sleeping with various men on his damn SOFA. He’s always kind of found me hard to define.

Well, now I’m even harder for him to define. And telling my father, stepmother, mother, and various comrades and friends that I am interested in the idea of polyamory… huh. I’ve finally had my own coming out experience. As I said, it hasn’t been particularly romantic or brave or glorious or adrenaline-filled. I don’t have any barricades to storm. I feel kind of foolish and exposed. I see the reactions of political comrades and just fellow union activists – and it follows that sequence described above. Blankness in the face. Shifting eyes, from the sign I carried to my face to the ground, back up to the sign, back down to my face, then off to the side. There are long gaps in the conversation. They don’t know what to say. In the Bay Area, few people are going to criticize anyone’s personal choice about his or her sex life, love life, sexual orientation, or lifestyle. But people (in my limited experience, so far) find it hard to know what to say.

For me, it’s been interesting. In January of 2003, an anarchist date mentioned two books to me, Deborah Anapol’s Polyamory, the New Love Without Limits, and Catherine Liszt and Dossie Easton’s The Ethical Slut. The first one didn’t light my fire, particularly. But the second one… the second one was like coming home, somehow. Finally there was a language to explain how I’d experienced my own early sexuality and the reflowering I’ve been having more recently. So much in that book was recognizable. Things I’d argued with my family members about years before suddenly resurfaced -for instance, one reason some of them seemed tempted to think that I was a dyke or at least bi was simply that I argued in favor of women claiming their sexuality and being full of sexual appetite and desire and lust and pure enjoyment. They could NOT get their heads around that notion. Not with a heterosexual woman. Or maybe, to be fair, not with a young heterosexual female relative, in a drunken conversation. But for them, I think that sex is part of an economy of scarcity, which is a notion I don’t understand at all, and a notion I have NEVER understood, from childhood. To that extent, and in that way, The Ethical Slut struck sounding chords in me, chords that had been muffled for too long. Joy and openness and multiplicity in sex, in human connection? That should be revolutionary. That should be part of sexual politics. That should be part of progressivism and the Left. That should be a pretty damn glorious Coming Out, in fact.

Michael Albert's Parecon

So… I’ve been mulling over my reaction to this book by Michael Albert, Parecon. Friends on a blogging engine, LiveJournal, directed my attention toward it. I read it with very close attention. Herewith is my response, finally.

A decade ago, I would have tossed this book aside in contempt for one reason only: it gave up the linguistic battle (well… it does that in a few ways, but hold on) over the traditional language of the left. Michael Albert won’t use the word socialism. He thinks that socialism, as a word and a concept and a political and economic system, is so thoroughly befouled by the lived experience of the Soviet Union and every other attempted revolution, especially including Cuba, that it is not recuperable. His word for these societies is “coordinatorist”. No, I’m not making that hideous word up, it’s his coinage. Coordinatorist, so-called for the layer of bureaucrats and technocrats whose “expertise” actually informs (if not really MAKING) the economic and pretty much thus the political decisions of those states.

However, I clenched (or maybe UNclenched) my jaw and decided to read on, despite this heresy. I wanted to get beyond my knee-jerk reactions to that dismissal of a whole tradition that I don’t think Albert understands very well, however long his history of participation in the quasi-anarchist left.

And here’s the thing. Albert (and the other people he worked this shit out with) are actually doing something. I can see the critiques. I can criticize the language he invents and uses (and he’s not blind to that criticism; he’s well aware of his weakness as a writer.) But thinking that ideas are cloaked in verbal sludge DOES NOT (unless you are closeminded and an idiot) invalidate the ideas. It makes them harder to approach and appreciate, perhaps. But it doesn’t make them less important.

Parecon is the latest and most nitty gritty version of Albert et al’s attempt to work out a post-capitalist economic (and social) framework. In itself, that is something to be fucking LAUDED. How often do socialists do that? I’ll tell you how often. Fucking never. Utopian authors do it, or have done it, often in the guise of science fiction. Socialists since Marx have not done it. Marx’s five-million-times-quoted “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, write Capital at five past nine” shit DOES NOT COUNT. The only other references I’m aware of are from his Correspondence and involve a semi-coy and quite amusingly gendered remark that “you can’t make the recipes of the future until you’re in the kitchen of the future”. Well, Betty Crocker and Nixon and Khruschev my ass, is that so? (Sorry; that’s a reference to a hilarious postcard I once saw of Nixon and Khruschev at a model homes show, peering into the Kitchen of the Future — and yes, Khruschev was wearing unmatching black socks; I looked. The “Kitchen Debates”.)


Bryan, Bellamy… Albert?

Albert is wanting (well, now, after the WTO and Seattle, he is wanting; I think his attempts predate that, though) to create an economic theory and practical model for the antiglobalists to seize on. He’s wanting to be the new Edward Bellamy (oh, VERY MUCH that) and the new William Jennings Bryan and, hell, the new Charlotte Perkins Gilman, too for all I know — she tried this sort of ex-nihilo economic analysis too, in Women and Economics, as well, of course, as trying her hand at a gender utopia and gender critique in Herland.

Frankly, that’s fucking EXCELLENT. We NEED a new Edward Bellamy et al. Noam Chomsky’s great (except for his fucking groveling Kerryism) and all, but he critiques without a recipe, too.

So. Participatory Economics. That’s what Albert theorizes. A way of running an economy that celebrates and prioritizes five key values (sounds like the Greens, here): equity, participatory self-management, diversity, solidarity, and efficiency. I think Albert added “sustainability” as an afterthought, too. I asked someone on my LJ what they thought Doug Henwood’s reaction to Albert’s work was, and this person said that Doug Henwood said, as far as they remembered, “Too many meetings.”

Well, yeah, in his future there will be a lot of meetings. But even the socialist science fiction I read these days features mindboggling numbers of meetings (cf. Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.) I think that maybe we’re just going to have to accept that the price of a participatory democracy is a lot more fucking meetings and a lot more fucking votes and referenda. As Albert points out, it’s not like they don’t happen anyway — in corporations and billions of office jobs every day — without any real voice in the decision-making process. Wouldn’t it be better to have way too fucking many meetings that actually meant something concrete instead of the Dilbert-deal meeting?

I’m not going to summarize the whole argument, because I think people should check out the book, wade past the writing and didactic tone, and read it themselves. I will say a few things, though.

The first section is basically a breakdown of what an economy is and what it does; a demystification, especially because many socialists only really understand the marxist CRITIQUE of capitalism, rather than your basic Econ 101 supply-’n-demand shit. God knows that’s my situation. But despite the breakdown method, it’s neither patronizing (or not much; I’m pretty sensitive to patronizing work) nor too technical. I think the most technical he gets is the idea of input/output. And maybe production versus allocation of goods.

The second bit is his justification of some of the values he cites. He doesn’t spend much time on what he thinks his readers probably agree on (diversity gets a nod; we all agree racism is bad, right? it’s not so clear exactly how this system does away with it, though… and a lot of the links between this economic idea/method and the politics he feels it will automatically produce are similarly reductionist… quite familiar for a marxist — the political superstructure that will arise because of THESE particular relations of production as a base will be diverse, will privilege equity and solidarity and feminism and queer liberation because it is nonhierarchical ITSELF — and that’s as far as he goes.


“So, what about th’ question of renumeration?”

I guess there will be HELLA meetings if anything falls short in those areas). He spends more time on the places he thinks that critics of rapacious capitalism might carp at. In other words, on the question of remuneration. Actually, maybe he’s aiming that at the frequenters of sports bars (which is supposedly where he thinks people should test out this theory and recruit to it). Americans care about what they’re paid and why they’re paid what they’re paid. They also care about how much control they have over how they do their work.

(Anyone who doubts this, and who wonders what it has to do with class identification and politics should go read this and this follow up, both from gordonzola’s livejournal.)

Therefore a large part of the second section of his book is about remuneration, and how people will get paid what they’re paid. He shifts the classic marxist “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” to “from each according to his ability to each according to his sacrifice and effort”. There’s room for need, if someone cannot put in the effort or make the sacrifice. But his idea of remuneration (which borrows AN AWFUL LOT from Edward Bellamy, author in 1888 of the “utopian” novel Looking Backward) is more that people’s effort, particularly in what are now thankless jobs, and their sacrifice should be compensated. The less control you have over the conditions of your work, the less enjoyable and intrinsically rewarding it is, the more you ought to get for it. The classic marxist answer was always that a socialist society would automate all that shit. Or that cleanup of shit. I’ve always had some trouble with that: first, can it ALL be automated? Second, how does automating everything unpleasant and routine fit with the question of sustainability? Third, that was some asshole male socialists’ answer to feminism, too: automate the housework, and then you whining women won’t have anything to get on our back about.

So I have some sympathy with the rejection of the “simple” socialist answer. Too, Albert’s real point isn’t that a ditchdigger or a garbage collector should get paid more than a doctor. His REAL point is that everyone’s jobs should contain some mix of the enjoyable, the rewarding, and the fucking boring shitwork that has to get done. I’m down with that. He calls it a “balanced job complex”. Okay. Whatever. His language is ugly as hell, I said that already. (I mean, come on PARECON? That’s like, bad in a SovWord and/or Orwellian sense… it recalls the Comintern, double plus ungood think, agitprop… EWWW. However, as I said, the sludgy nature of the prose is no excuse not to look at the ideas.)

After justifying his ideas about remuneration, Albert does a little magic — he ends capitalism by simply saying that with the parecon system, the only shift that will have to occur mentally is the abolition of private PRODUCTIVE property — of ownership of the means of production. Every privately held enterprise will now belong to all people in the society, whether that’s accomplished by bits of paper called “stock” ownership (which would be meaningless, since control of “stock” would not be how investment of inputs would be decided) or by fiat by the national council or whatever. People will still have private personal property, though how much more private consumption they will do from the moment parecons dominate society will depend on their remuneration and on what they vote at several levels of consumer councils. Obviously, one thing it won’t be is centrally controlled by the State, and particularly not a management committee of experts.

He spends the rest of the book detailing how production units which are parecons will create an economy which values mass participatory democratic decision making about both HOW something gets made (the workers) and WHETHER it should get made (the workers and the consumers). Frankly, meetings included, it’s fascinating. In fact, his long section on decision making and how to be flexible about different forms of decision making (one-person/one-vote AND consensus, not OR) has been very helpful to me in a few discussions already. Again and again, bits of this book have forced their way to the front of my brain and mouth in conversation with people. I really do think that people should go out and read it and think about it themselves. What OTHER post-capitalist blueprints do we have to discuss, after all?

The last thing I’ll say about this whole deal is that there was a debate between Michael Albert and Alan Maass of the International Socialist Organization.

I waited a long time between finishing Parecon and reading this debate. I wanted to have my own reactions to the book without what I suspected would be a fairly familiar critique of it, by socialists I consider comrades. I’m glad I waited. First of all, it wasn’t really over the ideas in this book, but over Albert’s once-upon-a-time allegiance to an “unorthodox marxism” and over his abandonment of the “marxist conceptual toolbox”. In the end, I don’t think that they were having a debate, though you can read it yourself. I think Albert was debating some fucking shibboleths of Marxist-Leninism that I don’t know where he picked that crap up, or who believes it anymore, and I think Maass was just exegetically cherry-picking some nice quotes from the Masters and belaying them about Albert’s head. I don’t think he engaged with Albert’s IDEAS at all. I think everything Alan Maass said could be right (especially about Albert’s class analysis and the weirdness of calling these “coordinators” a class), and it STILL wouldn’t have engaged with the ideas presented for a post-capitalist economy.

I wish someone would have a real debate with Albert, and a debate about the ideas of a “pareconish enterprise” or, just as importantly, how he sees people getting there. That, of course, is where we almost all fall down. Socialists are a bit better than utopianists at imagining a revolutionary moment, though it’s hard to see one even over the horizon, right now. But in general, the What Is to be Done question lingers.

If you don’t want to read Albert’s whole book, check out the video… Ahh, YouTube.