The Washington Socialist <> November 8 Update 2019
By Kam W
Upon a barren land stands and moves a great multicolored mass. Individual members compose its form, but one cannot see where one body ends and another begins. Connected across one polychromatic congregation, their incessant movements flow like an entropic wave over the landscape. And that landscape is dry, cracked, and chaffed by a wind as unrelenting as contortions of the intertwined crowd. Against this wind, no topsoil can settle to nurture new life upon the earth.
A rageful gust sweeps black dirt across an oaken platform elevated above a throng of movement. The wind-blown soil, born of volcanic destruction, contains a promise of verdant life should the breeze ever subside. What is left on the ground is cracked and dull like a Kalaharian plain. Should the air calm again and let the soil settle, the land is sure to produce anew.
From the roiling mass, two figures step to the platform, taking shape as they ascend. Bodies separating and solidifying from the shapeless ooze. The one appeared, gray, wizened by time but triumphant, all the wiser. The other appeared, crimson, triumphant in stance but deceitful and more dire. They stand atop the stage and speak in unison: “We must face the gusts if we are to farm again!”
The gray one offered peace to the great movement that extended as far as the eye could. For it was explained that the movement itself caused the wind, and the movement was in turn caused by an incessant swinging to grasp as much soil from the air as one could hold. The wise voice spoke: “Look around and find someone unknown to you, gaze upon their desperation and know it is yours and yours theirs. If we work together, we can bring calm to ourselves and our neighbors!” As darting eyes began to focus and airy ears began to listen, a third, pale-blue form took anthropomorphic shape; the more youthful vigor of its wanton thrashing and crashing attracted both gaze and ear from all around.
This wild azure form exclaimed with chaotic passion that the wind was not a problem. For how could it exist when it had so much of the fertile soil in hand? To prove the thesis, the swirling blue form then produced two handfuls of soil, black as the Marianas depths and just as full of life. With a tornadic stretch, another, deeper blue form rose from the mass with two dirt-filled hands; its claim: the wind did not even exist! In a similar manner, yet another appeared, a deep navy hue with arms filled with black earth. This one said that the wind did exist, was good, and to not say likewise would be blasphemous!
Leering eyes all turned toward the wizened gray one, as more and more of the angry torrents appeared from the mass. Wind became a hurricane, sound an indistinct roar, and their movements an accusatory mosh. The gray one’s mouth opened and closed, with lips moving in turn. If it produced speech, none could tell. For only the wrathful clutching and scraping and blowing could be heard in the twirling rage of those soil-secure few.
With sanguine blast, the red one, formed from deceit and grime, rose tall above the writhing fray to exclaim, “This wind that tears at your land, I feel it! Where there were fertile fields, only carnage remains! Let us, together, cover ourselves in a dome high above. Only then, under its shielding embrace, shall the soil fall to earth and we shall be free again!”
To this, part of mass, rose shades upon their multicolors, separated from the rest and began erecting the dome around the wooden stage. Taller and taller it grew, until those on the outside could not see in, nor might those inside see out. The higher it went, the larger a shadow it cast, until only a small circle of light remained around the old first and the sinister second and those hand-filled few who, hands overflowing, continued their dance. As the sun-lit circle became a narrow ray, those who danced in denial of the wind slowed as darkness enveloped them.
Only then, in the stillness of the lonely ray of sun, could it be seen how the creator of the dome stood upon ruined bodies of the mass itself. Tired, drooping, pitiful they were under the weight. In the horror of the scene, with final sight gone in eternal night, the collective minds realized the maddening truth: They had purchased calm soil with daylight. The new growth and crops they had sought never came.
The above perhaps heavy-handed metaphor highlights a major concern that is facing the Sanders campaign: the united attacks from both middle-class Twitter slacktivists and corporate media spin crafters. Echoes of this same combined assault reverberate from 2016 primaries, where, infamously, the Washington Post ran 16 negative stories on the Sanders campaign in 16 hours and DNC-fabricated “Bernie Bro” memes took on a life of their own on liberal social media. From the amorphous masses, these tornadoes of nonsense surface again to sling dirt about.
To face these attacks, Senator Sanders must toughen up his defense and his campaign must move to a more offensive stance. Meek movements, as admitted “unthinkable [and] highly unrespectable critique(s)” fall like swords, will not effectively shield the Sanders campaign. Senator Sanders has the most racially diverse and working class-supported campaign of all the Democratic candidates, and the working class will not wait for someone unwilling to fight. Luckily, Sanders still has favorability, but he is losing ground to Senator Warren in various polls, displaying that his ascension to the White House will not be an easy climb.
First, the corporate media will always despise Sanders as long as they remain staffed by the likes of political dynasts and funded by big capital. They should be overtly dismissed by candidate Sanders, demonstrating that he is above petty attacks. Luckily, he seems to have read my mind. Senator Sanders has, in the face of the media’s focus on his heart attack, boldly stated that “there are advantages to being old.” Unlike Secretary Clinton’s flaccid attempts to downplay her public collapse, which were easily framed as untrustworthy denials of legitimate health questions, Sanders’ strong stance against similar questions is a more effective strategy.
Secondly, the political Twitter mob is an untameable maelstrom that is dominated by “chronically online” shut-ins and upper-middle-class “ blue checks.” They, like the earthen-handed denizens from the mass, are driven by irreducibly individualist interests. Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man is hardly a valid historicist text, but it does describe well the motivations of the upper-middle-class “Struggle for Recognition,” as first articulated by the German philosopher Hegel. They are engaged in a fierce struggle for recognition to climb atop the post-modern obelisk of bourgeois cultural battles. Their interests lie in gaining prestige within atomized groups, which may place them within grasping range of professional employment as a writer, influencer, or commentator, claws raking about in an opportunist’s dance. In this way, they try to scrape off a piece of the economic surplus without no coherent contemplation on how the surplus was accumulated in the first place.
A recent criminal justice reform Democratic townhall in South Carolina provides an interesting example. Senator Sanders was asked this very difficult question by a black university student: “If I were your son, what advice would you give to me the next time I’m pulled over by a police officer?” Sanders gave this frank answer: “Identify who the police officer is – and I would respect what they are doing so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head.” Critics have pounced on this answer, and particularly the use of the word “respect,” deeming it “problematic” and “unprepared.” The fact is that the question was a targeted one of practicality in an encounter, not a question on the moral correctness or incorrectness of the policing system as it exists. Need I remind you of the attacks Sanders endured when he gave moral answers to practical questions related to race in the last primary? This time, Sanders answers the questions asked and owns those answers afterward, parlaying it into his moral message post-hoc. As an American of African descent who grew up in the deep South, I support Sander’s change of strategy; this display of progressive strength will pay electoral dividends.
To win, Bernie should continue and enhance his strategy. Putting aside my not-insignificant disagreements with the other Democratic candidates, their electability versus Trump is highly questionable. Senator Warren’s recent love from billionaires can’t erase her disastrous intuition in responding to Trump’s ad hominem volleys. Although, oddly, the latest polls still show Vice President Biden in first place, he seems to have lost much of the mental alacrity that he used to humiliate Paul Ryan. As the black dome rises to blot out the light, the electoral choice is either a Sanders win or a Democratic loss.
*edits added 11/9/2019 per author