In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen celebrates Fat History Month.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
In a dreamlike if not nightmarish image, a Croatian war criminal, during his sentencing at The Hague, killed himself by drinking a little bottle of poison. The US Senate passed a tax "deform" bill designed to injure if not destroy a majority of citizens while giving a tax break to private jet owners. And to twist the blade in our angst, President Hemorrhoid Hoover tweeted a trilogy of the British right wing's Islamophobic version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Each day brings a new travesty. That's the hallmark of the Donald Dump era. There are certainly more important issues to focus on than the daily atrocity he commits against logic and language. But it's all right, sometimes, to examine the daily dung and our consequent feelings of disgust. It can be instructive. It can even bring us together. As a people. A people disgusted.
I don't always wake up late, but even when I mistakenly wake up early, it takes me a while to catch up with the rest of you. Depression and apathy, aggravated by the itchy burning of President Hemorrhoid, weighs me down. Upon waking, I find that my head is encased in a gelatinous cube of despair. On the very rare mornings I start perusing social media especially early, at, say, 5 am, nothing actually registers for the first few hours. I'm like a mature sunflower, head in the shadows, seeds falling out of my heavy face, absorbing nothing. Well, maybe not seeds falling out of my face. Unless they're seeds of incomprehension. But incomprehension isn't a seed-bearing plant. It's a legume. And why out of my face? Why "out" at all?
Leave me alone, it's early.
Living in the Pacific time zone, I get going, if you can call it "going," three hours later than the folks on the East Coast, so they're even farther ahead of me than my fellow Pacific Rimmers. Simply put, in the continental USA, I'm not going to be catching any early worms. By the time I finally come out of the fog and realize I'm on Twitter or Facebook, every news item is long buried under several layers of mockery, parody, and meme-age. But I've become pretty good at digging through the bemusement and bile of others to the inciting incident.
I'm concerned that white people didn't quite get what happened when the Navajo Code Talkers visited Resident Dump in the White Witch Satanic Christmas House. Not that the situation had been parodied to death, but it had... read more
Peter is author of Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America from The New Press.
Unicorn Riot released a documentary on the Stand Rock / Dakota Access Pilpeline protoests, Black Snake Killaz: A #NoDAPL Story.
Dean wrote the op-ed #RichPeopleNeedTaxCuts: The Republican Tax Plan for Truthout.
Anna is author of Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WWI to the Streets of Today from Verso Books.
Paul wrote the essay "Anti-Imperialism as a Way of Life: Emancipatory Internationalism and the Black Radical Tradition in the Americas" in the collection Futures of Black Radicalism from Verso.
If you have to @ someone about this, please @jdorchen.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
The Tragedies teach us that people have flaws, and those flaws cause suffering. The Comedies teach us that people have flaws, and those flaws cause mirth. Didactic theater teaches us that slightly flawed people are impressed into tragic interaction with others by systems that exploit their flaws, systems in which even the beasts at the top of the food chain are trapped, unable to resist their basest desires and fears, causing them to rationalize their own cruel behavior. And depending on how the story is told, it can be either tragic or comic, or both in varying degrees.
Some folks have flaws that cause them to amass or retain wealth. Some have flaws that cause them to alienate friends. Some have flaws that cause them to sacrifice their own needs in deference to others'. Some have flaws that cause them to descend into misery. Some have flaws that cause them to descend into penury.
Nietzsche called those with flaws that got them into positions of control over resources at the expense of others, "the strong." Everyone under their control he called "the weak." He called the rhetorical idea that such control was immoral, "slave morality," a trick the weak played to gain leverage over the strong. Pretty clever of the weak, he allowed.
Nietzsche was brilliant and funny and tragic, but his opinions about strength and weakness miss the point of economy. An economy seeks to provide for needs and to channel abilities. That's what it's always been, I argue, in my new essay. This one. I'm defining economy as an emergent behavior of a social group, not as some top-down design. The chief of a tribe didn't design their economy. Kings didn't design their economies. Prefects and mayors don't design their economies. They do all use their positions in the social hierarchy to influence the rules of the economy in their favor. The communist governments of Russia and China attempted in the most obnoxious way to force top-down design, which led to deprivation, cruelty, and crime.
To this day, economies are deformed by the coercing, twisting, bending, torqueing tendencies of elites to try to enrich themselves, and, under capitalism, those elites are not solely governmental. Not by a long shot, chump. Private corporations and financial organizations are able to deform the goals of the economy just as easily if not more so, sometimes using government and sometimes ignoring... read more
Andrea is author of the book The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy from Cambridge University Press.
Silvio is Berta's nephew, and the director of bertacaceres.org.
Jennifer wrote the Baffler article How Education Reform Ate the Democratic Party.
Suzy is author of Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Gaye and Alex edited and contributed to the essay collection Futures of Black Radicalism from Verso.
Yanis is author of Adults in the Room: My Battle with the European and American Deep Establishment from MacMillan.
Brian recently wrote the article The State of the Brazilian Left: Analysis from an American in Brazil for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
I thought of a funny character name: Dag Nabakov. It's a cross between the old coot's interjection "dag nabbit," Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld, and the author of Lolita and Pale Fire, Vlad Nabakov. Or NaBAKov, as people I disagree with about pronunciations mispronounce it. Dag Nabakov is an old southern novelist who moved to Russia and wrote about an old foreigner who falls in love with an underage Russian because she represents everything he idealizes about the brutish freedom of his adopted country. When Shelly Winters kills herself, he plays a hilarious cat-and-mouse game with Peter Sellers until he's finally brought to tears or justice or something. And the Swedish part of the author is, he loves lingonberries, and dies in a plane crash.
A friend of mine was talking about Donald Dump's recent reaction to the recent incident of terrorist automobile violence in New York. My friend's an adoptive New Yorker, and he said, and I paraphrase freely, "New York doesn't need his anti-immigrant BS. He's always on about immigrants, hating on immigrants, but this is New York, which is immigrant central. It's a city of immigrants, like no other city. I'd just like to see some New Yorkers, grieving about this incident, but then Dump spouting his anti-immigrant BS, and these New Yorkers just beating the crap out of him. That's not how you sympathize with New Yorkers about something like this. It's not an invasion of aliens. It's them. It's one of them like that Las Vegas shooter was one of the white people. New Yorkers know what their city means, and it doesn't mean xenophobic racist real estate pricks who don't pay their contractors."
It got me thinking about how people become racist. They say no one's born racist. Then they did an experiment with rats that showed rats were racist, so now they're not so sure. People might be born racist. Mammals have cultures, though, even rats. Maybe there's some learned racism among rats. And human culture is ridiculously overwhelming, and many of its effects are creepy and insidious.
I knew a white guy who worked in the projects in a social-worker-ish capacity, and he was beaten up quite severely by some black teens, and it seemed after that he decided, "What am I not being racist for? What's the point?" And he became a big ol' macho racist.
How he came by his feelings made sense to me,... read more