There are people in this world who do not want the systems of dissociation removed, the oligarchs dethroned and the principles that govern us rewritten. Some of those are people who know things are never so bad they can’t get worse. Some do not see the box they are in or a different way of living. Some are those advantaged by the current structure, now or in the recent past.
We can all spot reactionaries when they take the form of extreme nationalists fighting against immigration or against anyone from a different ethnicity, religion, gender or similar, but today the loudest voices calling for revolution are equally reactionary. The very fact that their voices are the loudest under the current system is reason enough that they don’t want to change the paradigm. A longing for tradition and nostalgia for the good old days, advocacy for reform, and focus on issues instead of underlying principles, all indicate the speaker is from a demographic only lately inconvenienced by the system.
Anyone fighting for a reform or a reversal of the current system is a reactionary. Anyone objecting to one bill or victim at a time instead of universal principles is only objecting to one manifestation of a problem and that is the one which affects themselves. The principles we are ruled by were created to advantage an elite few and no matter how far back their effects are rewound, if the principles remain the same the elite few will recur and the ponzi schemes of wealth, celebrity and power will continue. Anyone wanting an effect of the principles reversed but not the principles themselves is asking for a personal exemption to a situation they have no problem seeing others living in. Their objective is to go back far enough that the whole process can continue again in the same way, rewinding only the parts where it became uncomfortable for them. As soon as other people’s problems are mentioned they become ‘realists’ who don’t want to ‘tackle the whole world’ at once (ever) just the part with them in it. They do not want to dismantle the structure or keep the door open, they just want to scuttle in themselves before it shuts.
Those enjoying media spotlight for being questioned at international airports without mentioning the stateless masses in prisons, floating on oceans and being murdered by traffickers and fascists are co-opting and minimizing the global horror of militarized closed borders. US military personnel protesting US military force only when it is used in the streets of the US are saying they fought for their exceptional position in the ponzi scheme and they want to retain it. A US thermidor is far more likely than a US revolution as anyone who has enjoyed the sight of ‘anarchists’ demanding allegiance to their constitution can tell.
Occupy Sandy was a grass roots campaign which many inside the US Occupy movement considered their greatest achievement and many outside considered most illustrative of everything wrong with US Occupy. Sandy was one hurricane, occurring in one region, and US Occupy completely obliterated the voices of those dying in the Caribbean with their pleas for Hallowe’en candy for the children of Manhattan. All efforts to expand the action to include those outside the US with far greater need were ignored or dismissed as unrealistic and not their concern. While regional actions like Opsafewinter are required and have local variants worldwide, to co-opt one issue and section off only the part that concerns your own state is as nationalist and reactionary as any fascist fighting immigration.
The exact same US based social media accounts who built their platforms by appropriating everyone’s protests and revolutions, broadcasting information from others as if it was their own and fundraising to send themselves as war tourists to gain celebrity by broadcasting over top of local voices suddenly went into hard reversal when they had a protest of their own, calling for all of their hugely powerful circle to attack anyone outside the US attempting to discuss ‘their’ protest. The worst backlash was for those who dared compare a struggle in the US with one outside. While every conflict of any kind in the continent of Africa is happily billed by US pundits as ‘the next Rwanda’, pointing out that Israeli trained police were throwing US produced tear gas in the streets of both Palestine and the US was unacceptable co-opting of ‘their’ protest. They have no desire to stop tear gas production or dismantle the US or Israeli military, they simply want their exceptional status back. When they fight against minimum wage, they identify with the workers in Australia, not those in Bangladesh. The policies of trickle down economics they deplore for themselves are what they prescribe for the rest of the world.
Those in Ferguson fighting for the safety of their neighbourhood are part of a global movement against police and military violence worldwide. Those furious that Palestinians have pointed this out are imperialist exceptionalists demanding a global spotlight on them and only them. These are the same people, with the same mindset, who feel that three killed in Boston is worth far more media than thousands in Nigeria, that thousands killed in the US trade towers is worth hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq. Self governance is choosing who and what to amplify. Those demanding or taking greater amplification seek to be part of the oligarchy, not to dismantle it. They are not revolution, they are not resistance, they are simply reaction.
Panelists, the new politicians
The 2012 US NDAA caused an international uproar as exceptional lives used their exceptional media power to convince the world of the importance of this bill, which extended to citizens of the United States the same threat of indefinite detention that had been a fact for all non-citizens of the US since the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001. In a wonderfully ironic twist, a very wealthy caucasian woman from New York (employed by her very wealthy stepfather) gave laughably false testimony that her interview with Guantanamo child detainee Omar Khadr (who she states is a member of al-Qaeda, with no evidence or background knowledge of the case whatsoever) put her at such risk that she refrained from publishing the interview out of fear of the NDAA. Omar Khadr has yet to be interviewed by anyone to this day and she had absolutely no authority over publication or anything else on the site she is claiming to have censored. I was the person fully responsible for all editorial and administrative decisions on the site she references and also for assigning interviews. I actually did censor an explosive interview I conducted around Omar Khadr which had absolutely nothing to do with her. Both Omar Khadr and myself were put at risk eleven years prior by the Patriot Act, and he had spent the last decade in hell due to the fact that this nightmare already existed for everyone but herself and other US citizens. This fact was completely ignored along with all of her other easily disproven false testimony in the hysteria surrounding the NDAA. An exceptional life appropriated the work and position of one and exploited the tragedy of another, both under real threat from the Patriot Act, and used it to wrap themselves in the aura of faux-persecution so essential to a position on the speaking circuit.
The Congolese who died fighting M23 in 2013 had their efforts neatly lifted and sold by the US based NGO Falling Whistles, which told their donors that their Twitter campaign, funded by selling sterling silver whistles, was responsible for reclaiming the areas of the DRC overtaken by a well armed militia that was only eventually countered by UN and state forces combined. In early 2011, I reported a story as it happened involving a Yemeni journalist ordered imprisoned by Obama for publishing the truth about US drone strikes in Yemen. My sources for the story were Amnesty and Yemeni bloggers, all well documenting the case at great personal risk. A year and a half later, Jeremy Scahill published the same story, celebrated by the old boy circle of US journalists as a coup of investigative journalism and an exclusive scoop. Scahill’s Wikipedia page contained almost nothing but this story with no mention that it had been well documented a year and a half earlier. When the earlier stories were pointed out to Greenwald by Wikileaks, he ignored and continued the same ill-placed hype around his friend that had led to his own success. Kony 2012, One Million Rising, and endless other NGOs and Thought Leaders made 2012 a lucrative year for those selling other people’s tragedy and resistance. Other people are simply a product to sell for celebrity, wealth and power, activism is just the all important panel seat.
The NSA is hardly the only intelligence agency spying on The People if The People are the world. Neither are the anti-NSA activists heroes if they are only disclosing that which violates their own privacy and keeping the rest secure in the name of ‘national security’. Anyone supporting ‘national’ security of the corporate empire which terrorizes, murders and enslaves the world is an enemy of the people, not a hero.
People with massive platforms act as gates to keep the real disadvantaged from power instead of bridges to ensure all voices are heard. This appropriation of the voices and stories of others is called assistance but those they assist are really just marketing gimmicks to aid in their own quest for celebrity, power and wealth. This sickness is now spreading to every part of the world as the Great Men reach out to lesser Great Men who fight first for the uniqueness of their group and then beat back their comrades as if they are the only representatives of that uniqueness needed. It is a ponzi scheme, if they rise, the rest will not. Because these people see tragedy and need as a product to feed off of and a highly lucrative path to the all-important panel seat, they compete for causes like old corporate media competes for stories. Victims are hoarded like sources, that so very apt term for the vampire-like tendencies of narcissistic old journalism. More online energy is devoted to wars over who started a hashtag than the problem the hashtag was meant to highlight. Problems cease to be problems when they reach a level the reactionaries are comfortable with. Noam Chomsky introduces the concepts of ‘normal torture’ and ‘serious torture’ and is happy that the levels at Guantanamo have reached normal.
There are no sides, just a top and a bottom. No one on the top is a friend of anyone on the bottom. People from all the right demographics tweet that they are being repressed to scratch their way up onto a panel but once they have themselves firmly planted in a panel seat they will never look at anyone beneath them. They sigh and talk about ‘broke activists’ if confronted with others in need when they are far less broke than all those they claim to represent. If they were looking up before, they will continue their gaze upwards, sitting on panels in suits and starting NGOs and using those below as marketing product. Once they have stolen the voices below them to build their platform, they will defend it as their personal power and use it solely to present the most inoffensive pap to not lose their mainstream acceptance.
Ponzi schemes don’t trickle down, they siphon up.
Anti-imperialism but not really
The global elite cry “We should fix our problems at home!” but empire, communist internationalists and the so-called Islamic State are all borderless. Act local pretends that all goals are the same and what is good for one locality must bring good to others, but the nature of the ponzi scheme ensures that what feeds one, bleeds others. Self-professed ‘anti-imperialists’ pretend the empire starts when bombs start dropping and ignore the bomb manufacturers and the trade economy created to prop up dictators against the people’s will. Global warming and environmental destruction by multi-national corporations don’t know borders but when their victims seek refuge in the states which destroyed their homes they are killed and imprisoned and the reactionary population murmurs completely meaningless phrases like ‘it’s just not feasible’.
Nationalists pretending they are anti-imperialists pretend we live in a bi-polar, left-right world. We have a top down world with a core mafia cartel and outlying splinter mafias. Neutrality, especially by those at the top who are supporting the ponzi scheme, does not just help the oppressor, it is neutrality by the oppressor.
If anti-imperialists are truly anti-imperialist they will empty Coke products which were all violently stolen from others. They will stop Areva, the global blight which destroys Niger to power France. They will block Zim, the Israeli shipping firm allowed to profit off of the US funded Israeli occupation of Palestine, as the true anti-imperialists in the US have done. They will share copyrighted and patented material and dismantle their weapons industry. They will share their megaphone, not to speak for others but to amplify them. Anyone who has an exceptional life they are willing to risk could use it not to collect donations and media attention for themselves to appropriate another’s cause but to attract attention to their cause for them. The international human shields in the Gaza hospital who joined Gazans in solidarity as equals and risked their lives to attract a media spotlight showed international solidarity and respect. A UK livestreamer tastelessly exploiting Gaza tragedy and putting their lives at risk to feed his own celebrity did not.
Action to help people in need in a local neighbourhood is not reactionary until it is silencing others affected by the same problem. OpSafeWinter is not reactionary, it is part of a global autonomous resistance network of similar local initiatives. Occupy Sandy, which took all of the attention from the devastation of one hurricane and pulled the entire spotlight onto those least affected was embarrassingly reactionary. People in the streets of Ferguson and other US cities protesting police violence are acting locally. People in the US calling for the end of US military equipment being used on The People, only themselves, instead of an end to US military being used on any people, are reactionary.
Anyone saying it is not realistic to look at others in a worse position than themselves, or trying to partition the same problem to address only the part which affect themselves, is a reactionary. Even if just in the rhetoric, solidarity with the full problem must be acknowledged and the megaphone must be shared or there is no global solidarity. Instead of expending all their energy fighting to protect their exceptional status they could recognize the common struggle they share with the exact same enemies as everyone else and instead of trying to lower the bar just far enough to get themselves over it they could remove it. The minimum wage workers in the US could recognize their common struggle is not with the minimum wage workers in Australia but those in Bangladesh, and instead of trying to scratch their way to the top of the ponzi scheme they could use their position already near the top to remove support and dismantle it. The massive and disproportional megaphone given to citizens of the US is to be shared. If it is not shared it should be taken.
Endless fights to pass or block laws recognizes the authority of the state and judiciary, exhausts activists and is a losing game. There is no adjustment to a trade economy possible that will not recreate the exact same situation we are in now. There is no master that will be benevolent and no messiah who will save us. Reform is not possible.
To create a new paradigm, we have to start at the bottom. The bottom is where the principles we live under failed first, it is the canary that predicts the future for all. We live in a world where some being delayed at the airport is considered a gross violation of civil liberties but others being tortured and killed so their own elected leaders can use their body parts as a good luck fetish is not a newsworthy topic. Invasion of privacy is a pimple on the face of the beast killing children in ritual murders to bring good luck for heads of state. Both are manifestations of an empire that thinks it owns its citizens, that they are products to be used for whatever whim the powerful choose, from props in weapons advertising to product for the prison industrial complex. Hysterics over the pimple while leaving the dragon intact will obviously lead to more pimples that will offend even the most privileged.