Welcome to the Resistance by Rotting Corpse
Until recently, I’ve normally keep my politics to myself. There are lots of reasons for this, but the main one is that even among friends, a political discussion is by far the easiest way to start an argument outside of “Who made a better Batman, Keaton or Bale?”
This is particularly true online where the relative anonymity provided creates a false sense of authority and power. Democratized access to an audience via Al Gore’s interwebs has created a culture in which everyone feels duty bound to voice their opinion. Yet after a while it seems every other opinion is wrong unless it’s the one agreed with by whoever is SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS at that time. Arguments start. Counter arguments follow. Eventually, any discussion devolves into name calling and conspiracy theories, and the original point gets lost in all the noise. There are so many voices screaming into the void, I often think it better to just shut up and not get involved.
Also, Keaton made the better Batman. If you think otherwise, you’re a fucking libtard SJW snowflake who’s been duped by the fake media.
I’m not much for labels, but if you talked politics with me for any length of time, you’d likely peg me as some kind of “pinko socialist left-wing beatnik.” While there’s some truth to this, my politics are also informed by a nihilistic view of reality in which I believe the human race’s dominance of this world is finite, and we’re ultimately doomed through either evolution or extinction. (I’m really great with kids too.)
Existential doom scenarios aside, my philosophy regarding democratic government is pretty simple: I believe our institutions and society have a duty to assist the less fortunate among us. Plainly stated, I don’t have kids but I’m happy to have my taxes pay for schools. My house has never been robbed or caught on fire, but I’m happy to make sure my community has well-trained and supplied police and fire departments. I get plenty to eat, but I’m happy to support programs so those who don’t can put food on the table for themselves and their families. I’m healthy, but those who aren’t shouldn’t be in debt for the rest of their lives because of it.
Now, the argument against government providing certain services (particularly those last two) for all its citizens goes something like this, “I work hard for a living, and I don’t want to support people mooching off the system for nothing.” As someone who once tried to apply for unemployment benefits, I can tell you that “mooching” is something of an overstatement. Trust me. To juke the welfare system would be a full time job in and of itself. Paperwork, record keeping, and regular updates are mandatory just to get and maintain welfare benefits when you actually need them. Government assistance takes a level or work and organization that you can only be willing to endure if you’ve exhausted most other options.
But okay. For the sake of argument, let’s say the welfare system is getting abused and you don’t want your tax dollars paying for it. By the same argument, I can say I don’t want my tax dollars paying for another stealth bomber to blow up brown people in some country I can’t pronounce. Uh oh. Look at that. We both can cite examples of our government spending on money things neither of us like. Now what?
“But 9/11, Terrorism, ISIS, Muslims, blah, blah, blah…”
“Yeah, but poverty, racism, Stuart Hall, blah, blah, blah…”
And such is typical political debate on the internet: I’m right, you’re wrong, and any effort to try and find compromise is ridiculed as weakness of thought. To be fair, this political duality isn’t new to the internet era. It has existed in the United States since we were an English colony: loyalist/secessionist, Hamilton/Jefferson, North/South, prohibitionist/progressive, capitalist/socialist, conservative/liberal, and on down the line. It’s as American as apple pie, jazz, and war for profit.
All this brings us to the 45th President of the United States, reality show star and avowed snatch snatcher, Donald J. Trump.
I’m not going to go into why I believe Trump as Chief Executive is dangerous for our country. If you want an inkling of what I think, read this. Or this. Maybe even this. Then there’s this. And this. Oh yeah, and this. Shit, I forgot about this! My cousin Larry did this once.
Any right-winger who’s made it this far is surely pulling out the already tired but very-soon-to-be-invalid comeback of “You lost. Get over it, sore loser!” Even though it’s falling on deaf ears, I think it’s important to explain that this isn’t about Hillary losing the election. (I wasn’t all that crazy about her as a candidate myself, if we’re being honest about it.) Initially after the election, I was like, “Well, will of the people, peaceful transition, and all that jazz. Let’s see how it goes.” Quite a few things happened since November that changed my mind and made me realize that a Trump administration could be extremely dangerous to long term democracy in America. I’m going to mention three.
The first is the serious conflict of interest with Trump’s business dealings and his refusal to acknowledge this. If you’re asking which conflicts I mean, I point you to this Atlantic article. Warning: Its long. That’s how many conflicts of interest this guy has. Look, I’m not one of those anti-capitalist folks. (More on them in a minute.) However, I do believe there’s a lot of corruption in our government due to corporate money being so easily funneled into political campaigns, campaign finance loopholes, and scumbag lobbyists. A guy with this many business interests isn’t going be neutral when it comes to constructing financial policy.
The second, and this was the first that really set me on edge, was when, on January 5, the House GOP voted to reinstate an arcane procedural policy known as the Holman Rule that allows lawmakers to cut the pay of a federal worker to $1. This was followed by a string of proposals on federal hiring and firing rules that basically amounted to a policy where federal workers “could be fired for no reason whatsoever.”
Even in a vacuum, that sounded bad. Coupled with Trump’s coziness with white nationalists, implications of Russian blackmail, obvious cronyism in cabinet choices, an antagonism towards the press that has included outright lies, and a host of other small yet scary things, my wind went way up. It seemed in a Trump administration, only loyalty would be rewarded. It seemed like the kind of thing a Hollywood super-villain might do in a cheesy political thriller. Only this was happening on CNN, not HBO.
The third, the one which struck pure icy terror into my heart, was this picture taken during the #DistuptJ20 protests on January 20 by Devyn Powell.
That, my friends, is how fascism starts – when ordinary citizens align themselves with the authorities against a particular but specific group of people, in this case anti-Trump protesters. It seems almost innocuous in this picture, just a couple of red hat wearing fellows thinking they’re “protecting” the cops from protesters. But make no mistake, it’s a harbinger of darker things possibly to come.
Has fascism, true fascism, finally reared its head here in the U.S.? That I’m even considering this question makes me feel like I’m in some surreal David Lynch fever dream. Yet every time I ask myself this question lately, I see clues pointing toward the affirmative. This is a case where I think I’d rather overreact now and be embarrassingly wrong than do nothing and be fatally wrong.
Others agree. A lot of people marched, protested, and burned trash cans during Trump’s inauguration. It was an amazing amount of resistant energy, and it’s desperately needed right now. Yet even among the unified cause of resisting this strange new order, rifts have arisen. To that end, I’m going to quickly review the three main groups which took center stage during the first weekend of the Trump era.
1.) Anti-Capitalist Anarchists – I’m going to start with these folks because they seem to be causing the most controversy. For the record, I think busting up a Starbucks this early in the game was bad strategy. However, those more moderate protesters shouldn’t simply dismiss the anarchists out of hand. Understand that by definition an ANTI-CAPITALIST ANARCHIST is there to a) cause chaos and b) attack capitalist symbols. Labeling them “thugs,” “bros,” “rioters,” etc delegitimizes their ideology which if you look closely isn’t all that different from that of those opposed to corporate lobbyists influence over elections through campaign donations. #DisruptJ20 was not built on a plan of non-violent protest, but rather a strategy of civil-disobedience. They intended to use any method necessary, legal or not, to infiltrate and disrupt (natch) Trump’s inauguration. Even the misguided property destruction shouldn’t be interpreted as wanton chaos for its own sake. (Even if that’s kind of all it really was.) That said, as much as even the most Zen pacifist took pleasure in watching Neo-Nazi tool Richard Spencer get punched in the face, all violence does at this stage of the game is allow fascists to justify their own later violence. Still, the anti-capitalist anarchists are not the moderates’ enemies. The key will be, of course, to find a way to bring them in under the larger umbrella. (They are after all, anarchists.)
2.) Antifascists (or Antifa for short) – These activists were the true heart of the #DisruptJ20 movement. Originating in the UK, the core philosophy is built upon anti-racism and resisting fascism’s rise nationally by insuring it can’t get a foothold on the local level. They gave some great speeches and calls to action on January 20th, many of which were live streamed. (Just search “Antifa,” “Antifascist,” or “DisruptJ20” on Periscope.) The key word in their label is “anti.” They are not necessarily for anything. They are against fascists. This isn’t just semantics here. Antifa activists actively oppose racists and fascists in their communities. The action they take is less civil disobedience than making sure any organized fascist display or march is met with a counter-protest. Fear and silence is fascism’s greatest ally. The key is to let neither cow you. For more on joining or starting and anti-fascist group in your community check out the Anti-Fascist Network.
3.) Women’s Rights Activists – As far as I’m concerned the core of the new resistance movement was on display January 21st during the Women’s Marches that took place in cities all over the United States and the world. The largest protest in U.S. history was organized by a broad coalition of organizations with varying agendas that all had in common the protection of women’s rights. Leaders from all walks of life spoke; politicians, artists, health providers, and activists all came together to rally against a leader whose policies threaten freedoms for which their mothers and grandmothers fought dearly. More importantly, they gathered women (and male allies) from a wide political spectrum. It’s a very solid foundation from which a resistance can take the next steps. (Some of which they outline on their website.)
And what are those next steps? No matter which of the three former groups you feel most aligned with, there are steps to be taken. Here are a few:
1.) Think local. “All politics are local politics” is the old adage. While large national campaigns should certainly be supported, it’s essential to seek out and find like-minded individuals in your area. Attend your local city and/or county government meetings. Get to know your local elected officials. Meet the leaders in your area already doing activist work within the community. See if there’s anti-capitalist, antifascist, or Women’s Rights organizations in your area doing work that you can join or support. If not, create one. Many national organizations can assist you in forming a local chapter. Again, fascism metastasizes on the local level.
2.) Contact your lawmakers. God help me, I still believe in our system of checks and balances. They haven’t been eradicated yet. There are many politicians on all levels of government fighting for the rights of all Americans. Let them know they have your support (or that they don’t). Put pressure on them to stand up to inequitable policy where they can.
3.) Vote in any and all elections, including primaries. This seems like a no-brainer but people not voting is a large part of what got us into this mess.
4.) Support large scale protests by attending or staging concurrent ones in your community. There are two upcoming opportunities. As a response to the Women’s March, anti-abortion activists are planning protests in support of defunding Planned Parenthood at locations nationwide on February 11, 2017. Counter-protests are an excellent way to reiterate many of the messages seen by the Women’s March. Contact your local Planned Parenthood location to see how best to help them and organize/join a counter protest. Calls have also been made to stage large scale protests for April 15, 2017 as a response to Trump’s announcement that he will not publicly release his tax returns.
5.) Stay informed. Trust me that it’s all too easy to hide your head in the sand and wait to see what happens. Again though, if you’re paying attention, and are any student of history, something seems to be happening now. Study history. Study the world. Read news from other countries. Travel. Understand how others see what’s happening. I lived in Prague for six months and it opened my eyes vastly to the difference between how the world perceives Americans and how we perceive ourselves. Globalism isn’t just something we can turn back the clock on. We’re connected whether we like it or not.
Lastly, but perhaps most important: Don’t ignore the people who disagree with you and with whom you disagree. There are a lot of people who supported Trump because of economic fears. It’s lazy to simply lump them in with the white supremacists. I don’t care what that stupid meme says. Try to talk to those people. Look at that person you emphatically oppose and find something you agree on. Anything. Who made the best Batman is fine. Start there. Try to see that even though Keaton was simply perfect, Bale was pretty badass too. It’s easier to reason with someone you like so find something to like about the people you hate. If not, we really are doomed.
EDITOR’S NOTE: rottingcorpse is Lonnie Martin, an independent filmmaker and DMV native whose latest film ‘The Last of the Manson Girls‘ will hopefully be playing film festivals this year. Unless of course he suddenly goes missing in a “boating accident.”