Thursday, August 30, 2012

I don't knw why his insightful words on the topic of voting aren't circulating more...

Why I Won't Vote
By W.E.B. Dubois, The Nation, 20 October 1956

On October 20, 1956, W. E. B. Du Bois delivers this eloquent indictment of US politics while explaining to Nation readers why he won't vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Du Bois condemns both Democrats and Republicans for their indifferent positions on the influence of corporate wealth, racial inequality, arms proliferation and unaffordable health care.

Since I was twenty-one in 1889, I have in theory followed the voting plan strongly advocated by Sidney Lens in The Nation of August 4, i.e., voting for a third party even when its chances were hopeless, if the main parties were unsatisfactory; or, in absence of a third choice, voting for the lesser of two evils. My action, however, had to be limited by the candidates' attitude toward Negroes. Of my adult life, I have spent twenty-three years living and teaching in the South, where my voting choice was not asked. I was disfranchised by law or administration. In the North I lived in all thirty-two years, covering eight Presidential elections. In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us. I voted for Norman Thomas and the Socialists, although the Socialists had attempted to Jim Crow Negro members in the South. In 1932 I voted for Franklin Roosevelt, since Hoover was unthinkable and Roosevelt's attitude toward workers most realistic. I was again in the South from 1934 until 1944. Technically I could vote, but the election in which I could vote was a farce. The real election was the White Primary.

Retired "for age" in 1944, I returned to the North and found a party to my liking. In 1948, I voted the Progressive ticket for Henry Wallace and in 1952 for Vincent Hallinan.

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no "two evils" exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a "Socialist" Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by "force and violence." Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called "Communist" and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.'s and "Liberals" are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly.

The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind. Stevenson promises to maintain or increase this effort. The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor. This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth. It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry. Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing. Our crime, especially juvenile crime, is increasing. Its increase is perfectly logical; for a generation we have been teaching our youth to kill, destroy, steal and rape in war; what can we expect in peace? We let men take wealth which is not theirs; if the seizure is "legal" we call it high profits and the profiteers help decide what is legal. If the theft is "illegal" the thief can fight it out in court, with excellent chances to win if he receives the accolade of the right newspapers. Gambling in home, church and on the stock market is increasing and all prices are rising. It costs three times his salary to elect a Senator and many millions to elect a President. This money comes from the very corporations which today are the government. This in a real democracy would be enough to turn the party responsible out of power. Yet this we cannot do.

The "other" party has surrendered all party differences in foreign affairs, and foreign affairs are our most important affairs today and take most of our taxes. Even in domestic affairs how does Stevenson differ from Eisenhower? He uses better English than Dulles, thank God! He has a sly humor, where Eisenhower has none. Beyond this Stevenson stands on the race question in the South not far from where his godfather Adlai stood sixty-three years ago, which reconciles him to the South. He has no clear policy on war or preparation for war; on water and flood control; on reduction of taxation; on the welfare state. He wavers on civil rights and his party blocked civil rights in the Senate until Douglas of Illinois admitted that the Democratic Senate would and could stop even the right of Senators to vote. Douglas had a right to complain. Three million voters sent him to the Senate to speak for them. His voice was drowned and his vote nullified by Eastland, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was elected by 151,000 voters. This is the democracy in the United States which we peddle abroad.

Negroes hope to muster 400,000 votes in 1956. Where will they cast them? What have the Republicans done to enforce the education decision of the Supreme Court? What they advertised as fair employment was exactly nothing, and Nixon was just the man to explain it. What has the Administration done to rescue Negro workers, the most impoverished group in the nation, half of whom receive less than half the median wage of the nation, while the nation sends billions abroad to protect oil investments and help employ slave labor in the Union of South Africa and the Rhodesias? Very well, and will the party of Talmadge, Eastland and Ellender do better than the Republicans if the Negroes return them to office?

I have no advice for others in this election. Are you voting Democratic? Well and good; all I ask is why? Are you voting for Eisenhower and his smooth team of bright ghost writers? Again, why? Will your helpless vote either way support or restore democracy to America?

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest. Yet if we protest, off the nation goes to Russia and China. Fifty-five American ministers and philanthropists are asking the Soviet Union "to face manfully the doubts and promptings of their conscience." Can not these do-gooders face their own consciences? Can they not see that American culture is rotting away: our honesty, our human sympathy; our literature, save what we import from abroad? Our only "review" of literature has wisely dropped "literature" from its name. Our manners are gone and the one thing we want is to be rich--to show off. Success is measured by income. University education is for income, not culture, and is partially supported by private industry. We are not training poets or musicians, but atomic engineers. Business is built on successful lying called advertising. We want money in vast amount, no matter how we get it. So we have it, and what then?

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln,and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let's vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Not that this will really get those who are voting to think but I thought I'd try, anyway...

"The election of Obama was one more triumph of illusion over substance. It was skillfull manipulation and betrayal of the public by a corporate power elite. We mistook style and ethnicity - an advertising tactic pioneered by Calvin Klein and Benetton - for progressive politics and genuine change." In short, they bullshitted a whole population of people with a tried and true marketing tactic and called it "change". Here we are again a few years later, and they're set to do it again. The ironic part is that even the folks who made their careers off deconstructing media, writing and publishing papers that were thought of as critical analysis, who would have recognized and laughed at a Benetton ad, fell for the advertising campaign/brand also known as the obama yes we can "freedom" train. How sad is that? if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ethically, emotionally...poly matures...

I wasn't even thinking about ethics and boundaries in my early and mid twenties when I started wondering about and exploring open relationships, group fucking, having a partner and being up front about desiring other people. I hurt more than a couple of people trying to make space for more love and lust in my life before I even came across the term "poly". Even then, I would have to say that I had the colossal bad luck of encountering a situation that was a lot more hedonistic, see where the cards fall, "and...her clothes were off and so yes, i stood you up but please be happy for me because her and I had lots of fun", than I wanted.

Eventually, some where between hurting good people and being hurt unnecessarily by people who made their decisions with their genitals in ways that left me not feeling the compersion, I started to realize that poly needed to involve a whole lot of levels of consciousness beyond whether I was good with a lover having other lovers, more than just being honest about wanting to fuck, more than everybody being able to force a smile and move on.

Gotten a shit load of attitude, whispers, passive aggressive bullshit, exclusion from some of the poly people I've encountered in meat space for daring to even attempt to articulate some of this. Been cast as insecure, jealous, disgruntled, insecure, mean, controlling among other things for asking to get more out of poly than a grope, cuddle, fun time and popularity.

This piece of writing came to me via facebook this evening and I can't even describe how excited I was to have been able to read these words. It took a lot of bravery to go up against the shaming and silencing that happens whenever someone expresses ideas and beliefs about poly that go against the dominant grain in poly circles.

I'm happy it has been written. Now, given that it is in the world, it will serve as virus/meme forming and transforming part of the collective consciousness of poly people everywhere whether folks agree with it or not. That's more than I could have hoped for. Much, much more.

Please forward this widely and freely. Please quote it to any poly people who you witness attempting to silence dissent and other ways of seeing dominant community ways of managing and discussing poly culture and values. Dissent and differences of opinion, sharing of possible approaches to doing poly that don't always center pleasure and the rights and needs of the individual have been a long time coming.


i don’t give a fuck about how you fuck: or, your hot ass mess is not my revolution

your poly is only politically relevant to me if…
you center respect and love for women and femmes in how you do relationships.
you understand and care about how your actions in relationships are directly connected to the well being of your communities. (y’all know that this shit breaks up friendships and communities all the time.)
you are aware of and work to resist heterosexist and patriarchal notions of love that are grounded in ideas of capitalist property ownership, misogyny, and racism.

you respect any and all of your partners.

you do not pit your partners, hookups, or love interests against each other by being shady and shitty about communication — especially if you are masculine-identified and your partners, hookups, and love interests are women and femmes. *of course, when this happens, it’s “unintentional,” right? but when misogyny structures how we understand and do relationships in such concrete ways, you need to fucking fight as hard as you can to actually BE intentional. being unintentional in the way of, “oh it just happened,” or, “but i didn’t do anything wrong,” when what is naturalized is being careless about the relationships between women and femmes, then not having intentions or thoughts around all that is a problem.

you understand the importance of (and work to center) the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and boundaries of yourself and your partners.

you understand how each of your relationships impacts all of the other ones. and you understand that the way you carry yourself in one relationship will show up in your other relationships.

you do not dismiss your partners’ jealousies, insecurities, or negative feelings as just them being “jealous” or “too emotional” or “not really getting it.” you don’t blame or shame people for their emotions.
you accept full accountability for your actions when you are hurtful, unintentional, or careless in your interactions with others.

you do not dismiss others’ concerns about you being possibly disrespectful or misogynistic as them not being radical or sex-positive enough.

you understand that having the space/freedom to love and fuck however you please does NOT mean that you are operating in a vacuum. you understand that everything you do has consequences - and act with care.
you understand that poly is not about having the freedom to do whatever the fuck you want to. you understand that poly is about having the freedom to pursue your needs and desires openly without shame, and to hold yourself to being intentional and responsible. especially because those needs or desires are about OTHER PEOPLE and OTHER PEOPLE’S BODIES.

you get that you are not entitled to the guarantee that everything you do/want will be okay with all your partners or your communities, esp when your actions will impact them and when people are always operating from different contexts, traumas, desires, needs. (aka, you don’t do disrespectful shit and expect your partners or friends not to respond just because you didn’t mean to hurt anybody.)

you understand the importance of informed consent — meaning, if there are things that are going on that might even possibly make someone reconsider cuddling with you, having sex with you, or being intimate with you, then you need to be open about them.

you don’t take consent for granted. ever.

you know how to set, talk about, and respect boundaries.

you don’t use your “poly” status to be emotionally neglectful and/or abusive to your partners.

you don’t treat people like they are expendable, disposable, or otherwise meaningless, even if it’s a quick fuck or a fling.

you communicate openly and honestly without withholding important information, especially when it’s hard.
the desire to love/fuck lots of people at the same time is not something inherently radical or meaningful. people have always wanted to love/fuck multiple people, whether or not that’s been in accountable ways. basically, if people are side-eying you about how you do poly/relationships it’s not always because they’re just colonized sex negative tools of the state or some shit lol.

(and thanks disorientd, seafoamknife, & lowendtheory for talking/thinking through a lot of this with me. all love. ♥)

if what you're reading here grips you, holds you, fascinates you, provokes you, emboldens you, pushes you, galvanizes you, discomfits you, tickles you, enrages you so much that you find yourself returning again and again...then link me.