Well, now I’ve done it.
My last article was quite a hit over on Facebook.
Unfortunately, I’ve gone and offended some Stalinists.
(I sincerely apologize, comrades. I’ll try to be better, going forward.)
In all seriousness, though, it would appear that some local apologists for genocide have hurt feelings – and it’s my fault. They don’t like me referencing Solzhenitsyn, and they think I’m a terrible writer because they disagree with me. Not that they have a counter argument. They just disagree.
Oh well, even Shakespeare had haters. I’ll certainly manage.
So with that in mind, let’s talk politics.
Can we abandon the left-right thing already?
I’ve mentioned before that the left-right spectrum of political belief doesn’t do much for me.
And I’ll keep saying that until (self-proclaimed) leftists stop defending totalitarian police states.
In the past few years, I’ve watched things like “free speech” go from being an idea cherished by the left to being a talking point for right-wing conspiracy nuts.
And I’ve watched a ton of champagne socialists become willing shills for big pharma – the same pharma companies who they considered to be a huge part of the problem just a few months ago, when they wanted to talk about universal healthcare.
I’ve watched otherwise intelligent people flip-flop overnight on a number of issues – mostly depending on whether or not ol’ Donald Trump was for or against.
And they don’t even realize they’re flip-flopping!
They’re just parroting the current party dogma – and obviously, they can’t admit that their party dogma is just being made up as they go along.
They have to pretend that they’ve always believed this week’s fashionable thing – and they’ve always despised people who aren’t quite as enlightened.
In short, they’re political zombies.
It all leads me to believe that “left” and “right” don’t mean much of anything, even to most people who identify with them as labels. More often than not, it seems like people just want to stick with their tribe.
And it turns out that checking a box on a ballot is an easy way to grab hold of a pre-fab identity, so you don’t have to think too hard and form your own opinions about things.
About that: I became a “leftist” in high school, I suppose, because in my town there were mostly two types of teenagers: “evangelical Christians” and “miscellaneous / other”.
I wasn’t an evangelical Christian – actually, I started calling myself a Buddhist around that time – and I enjoyed listening to loud rock music.
That made me miscellaneous / other, and the Christians were total dicks to me about it.
Wearing a black t-shirt was enough to get you a bad reputation where I grew up. And having hair three inches long (as a guy), or listening to Nirvana – well, you might as well just start sacrificing chickens to Satan!
Yes, I was literally accused of being a Satan-worshipper by some people, because I didn’t fit into the evangelical mold. I’m not exaggerating. Actually, my nickname sophomore year was “Satan”. Because, you know, I worshipped him – allegedly.
Later, when I started growing my hair out, I had to physically fight about a dozen different people who tried to cut it off me by force.
And my teachers weren’t much better. They mostly wanted me to sit still and be bored to tears all day, at which point I was expected to go home and do homework – read: continue being bored long into the night. The fact that I had my own personality and interests was actively punished.
So, surrounded by judgemental puritan assholes and with nothing better to do out in the middle of the desert (sex and drugs being still a few years in my future, but not available to me at the time) I did one of the things that I do best – I figured out new and exciting ways to offend people.
What can I say? I guess I just don’t like bullies.
Soon, I had all kinds of fashionable leftist beliefs, much to the chagrin of the local conservative “establishment” – an establishment mostly made up of other kids, parents, and teachers at my school.
This was the 90s, of course, so I guess we “leftists” were complaining about NAFTA and the World Bank and consumerism and the sudden proliferation of Starbucks all over the country. Globalization bad!
Suddenly, though, I found that I wasn’t “miscellaneous / other” anymore. I had an actual identity…
I was a young Marxist!
(Why Marxist? Simple: at that time, it seemed like the ideology that was most likely to piss off the my teachers.)
I printed out a copy of The Communist Manifesto from the computer lab and read it in algebra class. I developed a suitable level of disdain for the bourgeoisie. I bought a hammer and sickle t-shirt online.
You know. Things one does, when one is a 17-year-old rebel / douche.
Notice, by the way, that most of this required very little independent thought on my part at all.
I grabbed a pre-fab identity and went H.A.M. on those kids from the Young Republicans, and on my parents, and on my teachers… on everybody, in other words, who wanted to bully me into living life according to their made-up rules.
Of course, all this was more than 20 years ago.
And a lot’s happened in the meantime.
My Marxism didn’t last long – and if you’re a neo-Stalinist you’d better start clutching at your pearls about now – because the more I read about Marxist theory the more it started to seem like TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT.
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles?”
Uh, no it’s not. Go read a goddamn history book.
We just need to create a “dictatorship of the proletariat”, and then we’ll all be free and happy in Utopia?
No fuckin’ way, bro!
Oh yeah, and then there’s Solzhenitsyn. But not just Solzhenitsyn. There is, in fact, a large body of empirical evidence that communism is a terrible idea – and not just the Soviet kind. Read about Pol Pot sometime. Or the Chinese “Cultural Revolution”. Or… I could go on.
But fuck it. If you’re willing to defend genocide because you approve of the motives behind it, you’re beyond hope and I have no reason to talk to you.
Anyway, back to those political zombies…
I’m still a rebel. But these days, it’s the self-identified leftists who are the judgemental puritans.
They’re the ones who throw a hissy-fit if anyone disagrees with their dogma. The ones demanding censorship of “dangerous” ideas. The ones who just parrot whatever their preferred media outlet tells them and (apparently) have no interest in forming their own opinions.
And a lot of reasonable people stay quiet about it, just to avoid an argument with some fanatic.
But in the words of the famous anti-Stalinist George Orwell, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
And so I shall – and I encourage others to do the same.
Our freedom has taken a lot of hits over the past couple of years, what with all the pandemic drama.
Well, here’s the thing: I’ve lost several people from my circle of friends and family to Covid. And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM would have wanted me to speak up in favor of freedom. Now and always.
My grandparents didn’t fight fascism in the 1940s in hopes that I’d someday lose my basic human rights because of a virus. Did yours?
So, here’s an idea for something you can write on my tombstone, someday:
Here lies Mr Chorizo. Excellent writer. Wine enthusiast. Defended freedom, even when it was unpopular.
That’s all I’ve got for now.
Time to go outside and breathe that fresh, clean air.
The pandemic is over. Have a nice day.
Daniel AKA Mr Chorizo.
P.S. That word “freedom” is another one that some people are trying to turn into a right-wing talking point these days. But guess what? If you don’t defend others’ freedom now, they’re not going to defend yours later. So be careful. The road to hell is paved with good intentions – and so is the road to totalitarianism. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.