6/1/14

Hi, I'd like to sign up for the revolution please


- Hi, I'd like to sign up for the revolution please.

- Okay, let me see... are you an aspiring Marxist, Marxist-Leninist, Trotskyist, Stalinist, Maoist, Socialist, Socialist Nationalist, Kurdish-Socialist, Alevi-Socialist, Democratic Socialist, Social Democrat, Communist, Anarchist, Anarcho-Syndicalist, Structuralist Marxist...

- I'm, uh... I don't know, what's trending right now?

- Well, it depends who you ask

- Right, obviously... let's just go with straight up Marxist.

- Oh, really? That's kind of old fashioned and intellectualist. Can I at least suggest Marxist-Leninist? It's still intellectualist but a little more practical.

- Okay, fine. I take it you're a Marxist-Leninist?

- Yes, but that's not why I'm...

- Right sure, okay, that's fine. Sign me up for that. Wait, you mentioned Stalinism. There are Stalinist parties?

- Yeah well, there's parties with known Stalinists. They don't like to say they're Stalinists, it's not exactly a popular ism.

- I can guess. And the Trotskyists? What are they about?

- Um, nobody really ever remembers. It's pretty much the opposite of Stalinism I guess. You just have to look out for ice picks.

- What?

- That's just an inside joke.

- The anarchists sound pretty cool, what about their party?

- They don't really have a party, obviously. Organization isn't their thing, they just be anarchist.

- They look pretty cool though, all those black hoodies and red masks and stuff. Like jedis or something.

- Yeah, I'll admit, they look good, but that's only when they're rioting. Otherwise you have to walk around with lots of piercings and ripped pants and weird hairstyles all the time, even when you're at the store buying milk. It gets tiring.

- Okay then, for now let's just go with the Marxist-Leninist party.

- Good choice. Which one? There are fifty eight Marxist Leninist parties. Look, here's the list.

- Oh wow, that's a long list. I don't know, which is the biggest?

- This one, it has hundreds of members. That's the one I'm in.

- Sure, sign me up.

- Okey dokey... So you're set, comrade.

- Great, what do I do?

- Well, to start off with, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with Marxist-Leninist dogma. Are you familiar with that jargon?

- Kind of.

- Also, can you play guitar badly and sing Commandante Che Guevara in really bad Spanish?

- I can play Hotel California on guitar, is that okay?

- No no no, that is NOT okay. Do not ever sing that bourgeois shit. Learn the Comandante Che Guevara song. It's real simple, there's like five words. And learn the jargon too. Let's start with the basics: just call the police and politicians "fascists" all the time and raise your left fist every time you chant something with your fellow party members. Things you don't like are always "bourgeois" and the people being oppressed are always the "proletariat". Plus, history is always and only about class conflict. Got it? Start with that, and you can work up from there.

- Okay, simple enough.

- Oh and you might want to pick a pet topic to be nitpicky about when you encounter other Marxist-Leninists or Socialists. Maybe debate whether the Marxist dialectical materialist teleology is still relevant today, or whether latter day structuralists like say Althusser or Poulantzas had a better grasp of...

- Wait, what? What are you talking about?

- I know I know, none of this is really relevant to anything or has any practical meaning to anybody's life, but I suggest you really memorize some of the main points of contention, pick a side, and defend it furiously without any compromise to look especially revolutionary, committed, intellectual and, most importantly, attractive to the ladies.

- I do want to look attractive to the ladies.

- Sure you do. We all do. Why do you think I always have this solemn semi-heroic expression on my face? Why do you think I wear this Che Guevara shirt and act like I'm fighting the world?

- That's Che Guevara? I thought it was Planet of the Apes.

- No, it's not Planet of the Apes. This isn't a Sci-Fi convention. This is a globally recognized iconic image. This is THE famed revolutionary Che Guevara gazing heroically into the distance from t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, mouse pads and other paraphernalia all around the world. You can even find these shirts at Target now. By the way, you're going to have to change the way you dress. Are those loafers?

- Yeah yeah, I know, I'm going to start dressing really drab

- Good, yes. Wear gray, black, lots of red, and some camo green. Also wear boots. Never wear clothes with logos, obviously. You should also maybe consider sporting a big bushy Marx-like beard, growing your hair out, getting some communist iconography going, hammers and sickles, red stars, etc. Also some of those leather wrist bands, maybe some leather necklaces, earrings. Think Jimi Hendrix crossed with Johnny Depp. That means lots of accessories. Also look into red scarves and Palestinian shawls, that's part of the kit. You don't want to be too ambitious, though, and go for the Subcomandante Marcos look. Everybody at some point thinks they want that look, but trust me, it's no good. You have to keep a balaklava on at all times and have a pipe in your mouth. Not practical. A cotton balaklava against your mouth all day is a hygiene nightmare. I know, because I tried it. The balaklava eventually smells like a sock.

- I've already got some fashion ideas I'm looking into. I was thinking of going for the slick shaved head, black turtleneck, Doc Martins...

- Whoa whoa, you just described Michel Foucault. Do you want to be a postmodernist? You signed up for Marxism-Leninism, remember? If you want to be a postmodernist you can go teach cultural studies at a private university.

- Yuck, no, I don't want that.

- Exactly. You do NOT want that. Postmodernists don't get to storm barricades and engage in romantic revolutionary struggles and fight cops and pretend they're struggling to change the world. Postmodernists just wade in a tepid pool of relativism. They fuck their students and collect art.

- Okay, scrap that then. I'll go for the Marxist-Leninist look. By the way, when do I actually get to go out and, you know...

- You're going to ask when the next protests are, right? You're going to ask when you get to riot?

- Yep.

- That's why they all join. Wanna throw some Molotov cocktails and "fight the system"?

- Yeah, all that revolutionary stuff. I wanna do that.

- I'll bet you do. And at the end of all the danger and fighting and camaraderie as we struggle against the blackguards, you want to fall in love with some female revolutionaries, some fiery young idealist girls you just fought alongside, and you want them to gaze in your eyes and fall in love with your courage, commitment, idealism, and your gorgeous revolutionary heroic good looks, and then you want to have sex with all of them and have them stroke an AK-47 tattoo on your chest, correct?

- Yes, exactly! When does that stuff get to happen?

- Pretty much never. We all think it will, and that's the main reason we go through all this, but the free-love communist thing is a myth. We don't go around having orgies and sharing our men and women who are supposedly always up for having sex with their fellow wild romantic revolutionary comrades. Communist men are just as jealous and possessive as any other men and socialist women are just as picky about who they sleep with. Sorry to burst that little bubble.

- Right, okay, whatever. I'm still up for it though.

- Good, because it's still a lot of self-important, self-satisfying fun. You really feel like a revolutionary, like a warrior, like you're changing the world. But don't worry, it's not really revolutionary.

- What do you mean?

- Come on. I know we say we're populists and that we represent the people and the working classes and revolution and all that, but we're really just a bunch of young idealists who get off on being morally superior and combative. None of this will bring about any real change. We actually like it like that, because that means we get to keep on fighting heroically forever without the chance of it ever actually achieving its goals. It's perfect.

- Right, yeah, I figured that.

- When the people and the so-called working class at home turn the TV on and see red flags and people chanting Marxist-Leninist slogans and hurling Molotov cocktails, they don't identify with any of this. It's just us university students from bourgeois families being populist and pro-worker for ourselves. It's basically just rebellious sloganeering. We get off on feeling like we're actually fighting a fight with a goal toward revolution, but really it's just a periodic pantomime where we chant the usual chants and break the usual windows and bust the usual ATMs, and hurl the usual Molotov cocktails, while they chase us and spray water cannons and shoot gas canisters. It's all part of a well-rehearsed show. The police and state and the bourgeoisie believe they're defending their country against internal enemies, and we believe we're fighting for the people to bring about a revolution against the reigning fascists. Everybody else just watches it all on TV with absolute indifference. Then when it's all over we get to walk around singing Spanish socialist chants, dressing like Jimi Hend... I mean Che Guevara, having serious and pointless conversations about dialectical materialism, and pretending we're the saviors of the world

- Okay... so we're kind of actually just...

- Wankers, yes.

- Hmmm, fuck it. It all still sounds worth it. It's either this or I become a nihilist... or worse, a headbanger.

- Ugh, definitely this. Then when  you get older and rich and work in some shitty profiteering capitalist pig corporation, which we all do eventually by the way, you can justify it by saying "I used to be a socialist". That's a good card to have in your hand when you're a sellout in your forties. You can't say "I used to be a headbanger" and sound cool, that just sounds like you were a loser. And nihilists... well, they don't get laid much. Not that we do either, but at least we're around girls a lot and there's the possibility of it happening.

- True.

- So then, welcome on board! Lesson one: how to dismantle cobblestones and hurl them at bank windows in between spray-painting signposts. Ready?

- You bet!