We Are Winning

Don’t kid yourself – neither your food co-op job nor the time you spend volunteering at the bike co-op will deliver a fatal blow against capitalist exploitation. Not now, not ever. And even if all of the crust punks from here to Chattanooga think your project is rad, if it doesn’t make those bro-dawgs down the street want to kick off the rev, you’re just playing a new version of the same stale subcultural games. 

This isn’t new, you’re just not used to hearing it – there’s a choice at hand: get out or play for keeps. There’s a civil war on; a winner-takes-all struggle that pits us against everyone and everything who wants to extend business as usual. It is our job to make the present state of things impossible. And to do so, we should use any means necessary.

Have you grown so accustomed to losing that you hate how it feels to win? He-who-should-not-be-named calls it the narcissism of lost causes. And there are more than a few narcissists among us. They hate the mainstream merely for being mainstream. Make note of these people, they will fight with their last dying breath to keep your projects from having mass appeal.

This is all to say: Juno and that aryan-looking vampire guy from True Blood are starring in a hollywood movie that rips-off anarchist direct action; and I’m telling you something you don’t want to hear. Enjoy the movie. Really. Engross yourself in it. Show it to all your friends. Fend it off from attacks.

Sure those Axe Anarchy ads are shit. But Brad Pitt was a whole generation’s entree into anarchism regardless of how many refuse to admit that it was Fight Club that first gave them the idea that destruction is sexy. Now Kanye and Jay-Z made a black-bloc video (No Church In The Wild) and designers are doing black bloc chic (Thom Browne FW12, Gerlan SW13, Philip Plein FW13/14 to name a few). Take this as a compliment. They want to be like you. This is what it feels like to win.

Why? Because critique is dead and over (Long live critique!). Today, the best argued film criticism fails to do much. Even worse, critique has a dangerous byproduct: the delusion that ‘critical distance’ authorizes you to take pleasure in what you should really hate. Most fandom begins as a joke, as much experimentation does, only to later become deadly serious. Or to reverse the common phrase, “first time as farce, second time as tragedy.” This is how my friend’s feminist film club became a weekly OC fawn-fest.

But then again, sneak into the movie. By all means, torrent it. And if you think you can do better, make your own DIY version. But for fuck’s sake, learn to take a complement even if it’s coming from something as vile as hollywood.

4 thoughts on “We Are Winning

  1. The work (teaching) I do on an everyday basis makes things worse. After seven years I am absolutely convinced of this. I have no idea what to do, but it is a desperate, soul-sucking feeling to be complicit, to be wracked by guilt, like I am. I have to get out, but the leap (and to where? I don’t know where escape is possible) is financially so perilous (I can’t live outside, I’m too old to survive) that I feel like I’ve been checkmated. I took some vicarious pleasure in this trailer, I guess, when I saw it earlier today, but the lives depicted in it seem so distant. Where are they? I would love to know. (Honest question for any readers.)

    1. There is a strange underside to every place. In small towns or the south, it is often punk or something like it. In bigger cities you have more options, and while the scenes are more porous they’re also more judgmental.

      I would say that there are three main strategies. The first is to experiment with a scene. It requires the least commitment but has the least promise for anything long term. But here is where you can develop your tastes. It could be doing food not bombs or it could be a weekly reading group. The second would be to find a committed organization that has a serious long term goal. These provide an anchor for a way of life but lack the flexibility necessary for serious action. You would help people, but often lack a wide vision. The last option is a last ditch effort – form a commune. This takes time, trust, and heart. You only do this after the first two options are at their end. It begins with maturity and ends in sacrifice. Most people aren’t there, I don’t know if I ever will.

      Send me and email some time. We can talk more frankly.

      1. Just noticing this now — I’m so sorry I didn’t respond earlier. Will send an email soon when I’m in the right state to write, as I was on Friday (usually in the morning, but I try to sleep late on weekends — more like 5 a.m. until noon), so I don’t do as much — or at least, I’m not even remotely coherent.

        Thank you for this and for your help. I’m really grateful.

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