Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rivers of blood

War, dreadful war, and Tiber flood
I see incarnadined with blood.
-- the Sibyl


As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much blood".
-- Enoch Powell


Whether Powell was just a racist dickhead or some dude with ears licked clean by the temple snakes, he and many others were, are, and always will be justifiably afraid of the consequences of smashing established social institutions.

Arguably, the Late Unpleasantness didn't turn out well for a lot of folks, though it freed some People of Color from at least one form of slavery, and if you're reading this, you've probably reaped a few benefits from that little tea party that some of our ancestors threw, even though it didn't turn out so well for a number of other groups.

On a lesser scale...

Several people died in the Haymarket Riot, a handful of anarchists were later executed [or committed suicide], and the cause for which the tens of thousands of workers were demonstrating -- shortening the work day to 8 hours -- wasn't immediately instituted by management, but an awful lot of workers since then are indebted to those early labor activists.

More recently, in fact mere weeks after Powell's speech, rioting in France at first only hardened the hearts of the morally conservative, authoritarian government,

 

but now, 40 years later,



France is a liberal, egalitarian society with perhaps the finest, or at least the most coveted, health care system in the world.

In light of all this, I have a modest proposal for you. Instead of working to heal the rift in the Democratic Party, now is the ideal time to part ways with the centrists and form the NFP -- National Feminist Party -- because NWP is already taken, plus there's that unfortunate W that we'd be better off without.

We'll ask Hillary to run as our first Presidential candidate for 2008, right after -- or perhaps right before would be better -- the Democratic Party Coronation of Obama, be it May 31, June 3, or the upcoming contretemps in Denver. She's got the chops, she's got the following, we'll just need to convice her to break with her centrist past and adopt a slightly more socialist [single-payer national health insurance] and populist [rescind corporate personhood] platform, but that might not be too difficult once she's no longer bound to the DLC.

Rather than the bland, homogenized, post-racial, post-feminist ideal of the Obamaites, I envision a possibly unruly but mostly like-minded assemblage of ovarians and penisians who will all be able to profess outright admiration or even envy of each others' melanin status. And while we won't have to go back to square one, the first thing I'd like to see is passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, with updates and improvements, of course.

The danger is that we'd be very unlikely to take the Presidency in 2008. Hillary's got roughly half the Democrats in the country rooting for her, but given the chance to jump off the cliff, a fair number of them will opt for safety and go with Obama. And while there's a good chance that splitting the erstwhile Democratic Party in two could leave McCain with the lion's share of votes, it's entirely possible that once a third -- and demonstrably leftist -- party is available for a yardstick to measure the other two against, many more Republicans will be comforted by, and will likely vote for, Obama's evident centrism.

History warns us that if we're the bleeding edge, the instigators of radical change, we'll be the ones to take the biggest hit, and we might even have to wait a generation or two before we become acceptable and unremarkable and society at large incorporates some of our goals. It's worth trying though, and no time like the present, and all that jazz.


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original photo

39 comments:

Michael said...

Starting a new party is a major undertaking. What's wrong with the Green party if you cannot support the Democratic nominee?

hipparchia said...

you're absolutely right, it is a major undertaking, and frankly, i don't expect it to happen.

the green party? i'm an environmentalist, i thought about joining that one for a long time. and i like cynthia mckinney. if she's on my ballot, i might consider voting for her.

but mostly i've come to the conclusion that [1] the 2-party system isn't working so hot, and [2] if we're going to multiple parties of approximately equal strength/numbers, then each party is probably going to be better served by narrowing its base.

greens = environmentalists
republicans = robber barons
democrats = used to be moderate republicans
nfp [or pumas] = women
etc...

Michael said...

The PUMAs don't seem very feminist to me. They seem like a just-created Republican front group trying to stir up trouble. Their domain name was just registered on June 3.

hipparchia said...

the idea grew out of a conversation at a pro-hillary blog june 1. it's always possible that a republican agitaor jumped in, impersonated one/some of the known liberals at the site, and grabbed it and and with it, i suppose, but my guess is it's legit.

but yeah, they're kinda angry. can't say i blame them. she got half the popular vote, lots of people would like to have her for their president.

and there are lots of women in this world who aren't as rabidly feminist as i am.

Michael said...

She got a lot of votes and she got a lot of disrespect from the media.

I wouldn't have supported her if she'd gotten the nomination, though. I would have opposed McCain, and continued to advocate against voting Republican, but I would have had to abstain in November because I did not trust her.

I also think Barack Obama has some faults, and I don't insist that everyone who opposes Republican rule must vote for him.

Michael said...

By the way, there are a fair number of Republican feminists. My cousin, for instance. She is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican but hinted she was supporting Hillary Clinton. I like liberal feminism, but she isn't one.

Michael said...

Should that be progressive feminism?

Anyhow, my point is that I don't think that all women are for social justice in any general sense, but want a seat in the boardroom. I'm not disrespecting this, nor do I disrespect successful Republican women for their successes, but I don't support the Republican party.

hipparchia said...

i see both clinton and obama as republicans, nice, moderate, centrist, have some liberal leanings republicans.

i don't trust either of them, nor do i really trust any politician.

i would of course prefer that everyone in the country be both liberal and feminist.

but yeah, most of my family is republican, and most of the women are feminists. a number of the women in my family are nominally whatever political party their husbands are, but still to the left of the men in their lives.

Michael said...

You make good points, both of them are center right, and neither was my first choice. But I do believe that Barack Obama is generally sincere in what he says, but sometimes I think he is wrong, and he has made stupid gaffes that make trust more difficult for women especially, calling a woman reporter "sweetie" wasn't a very good move.

As for his judgment, he was against the Iraq war before it began. That's something. I believe he wants to end the war in Iraq. He seems to be willing to end the war on medical patients. For me, that's a matter of whether I live in freedom or not.

Bryan said...

The media refuse to allow a liberal or progressive to get started. Any coverage will be relegated to "Off Beat" rather than "Politics".

They subject liberals to ridicule, the same way they subjected women to ridicule during the suffrage movement.

The Greens are all well and good in their area of concern, but they don't seem interested in expanding their platform.

I hear a lot of talk about the Supreme Court and possible openings, but what I haven't heard is anything that would make me believe that Obama wouldn't appoint a Richard Posner to the Court.

There are too many open questions, and too much "trust me".

I stopped trusting politicians in 1965 after voting for LBJ, and have never had reason to doubt the wisdom of that decision.

Michael said...

Insofar as Richard Posner is pro-torture, I don't see him being nominated.

Bryan said...

That you wouldn't do it tells me nothing about Obama. Posner is a University of Chicago law professor and a Federal Appeals Court judge who would be well known to Obama's senior advisors. The fact that he has a rather twisted concept of the Bill of Rights, IMHO, is a reason I wouldn't appoint him, but no one has shown me anything that makes me believe that Obama won't.

Michael said...

I can see no basis to believe that Barack Obama would appoint Richard Posner. Nobody has shown me anything that makes me believe you have any basis for making such a ridiculous association.

As for who John McCain would appoint...

Michael said...

FWIW, I think there's a good chance that Barack Obama would nominate Larry Lessig for a SCOTUS vacancy. If we're going to discuss realistic nominations, what's your opinion?

Bryan said...

Oh, I see, he would never appoint Posner, but has no problem with one of Posner's and Scalia's law clerks, because Lessig's a reformed Republican, a libertarian, and likes the Internet.

Larry Lessig is not your friend, nor my friend, has no judicial experience, and damn little trial experience, but he's a "star".

The problem is that Obama gives no indication if he has any core values, which is a pretty standard stand for machine politicians. Everything I've heard turns out to be an interpretation of what someone thinks Obama might do in a given situation, but no hard evidence of what he will do. There is no there there.

hipparchia said...

As for his judgment, he was against the Iraq war before it began. That's something. I believe he wants to end the war in Iraq. He seems to be willing to end the war on medical patients. For me, that's a matter of whether I live in freedom or not.

the war, meh. he spoke out against it early on, but voted to keep funding it every time a bill came up once he was in the senate. he later expressed support [tepidly] for the war, or at least for bush's handling of it at the time. he wants to increase the size of the military by 100,000 troops. he has said he's willing to talk to iran without any preconditions, but he's also said he won't rule out a strike on iran.

the war on medical patients, i think of you every time the issue of health care comes up. it's true that he's better than mccain on this, though where adults are concerned, it would seem that obama only marginally cares about us. he's got until november to convince me to vote for him, and a move far enough to the left on health care would do it.

hipparchia said...

Larry Lessig is not your friend, nor my friend, has no judicial experience, and damn little trial experience, but he's a "star".

austan goolsbee is a 'star.' samantha power [no longer on the team, but who knows what later might bring?] is a 'star.' cass sunstein is apparently a 'star.' i think there are others, but i can't come up with any more names off the top of my head right now. but libertarianish and hawkish, all of them, as i recall.

Steve Bates said...

hipparchia, I have read your post twice through, and watched the videos in an attempt to understand some history I do not know, and I admit that what you appear to propose bothers me a lot. FWIW, my discomfort has nothing to do with my scant support for the current sorry state of the Democratic Party.

I understand that people don't ask permission to start revolutions, but what you are proposing is a sort of revolution, and the time frame in which you propose to sacrifice the next few presidential cycles as a sort of darkness before the dawn happens to be the likely last one or two decades of my life. If implementing your plan requires that my golden years be shit-brown instead, you do not have my permission... which I've already admitted you do not need, so let's say instead that you do not have my support.

Michael said...

Bryan, Larry Lessig is generally favorable towards free and open source and has a relatively good understanding of the internet ecology. He is not defined by who he clerked for, and as you said he is a reformed libertarian. Maybe his experience isn't sufficient for SCOTUS, though.

Who would you like to see nominated for SCOTUS, Bryan?

Michael said...

Hipparchia, I'm speaking also of the war on medical marijuana patients. John McCain would put me in jail.

hipparchia said...

John McCain would put me in jail.

ah, yes. you're right. i missed that. thanks for the correction.

Bryan said...

He's a reformed Republican, but still a libertarian, Michael.

The purpose of the process is to hire someone to deal with these problems. If I have to make all of the decisions I want the $400K, etc. and the four-year contract. No one has given me a reason to vote "for" anyone, all you get, from either side is reasons to vote against the other side.

My basic problem is that the country is in a mess and we need a leader, but no one running is a leader.

Jimmy Carter showed us how to break the energy habit, and Bill Clinton showed people how to balance a budget, but the current "party" ignores them.

No one is leading and nothing is going to change - we are screwed.

Michael said...

No, Bryan, he's a reformed libertarian as well. He's said as much. He was a Republican at one time and made an ideological conversion over time. He'd be better for the ninth circuit than SCOTUS, though, you're probably right about that.

And basically you're saying you refuse to do anything to help America unless you're paid, and you'll badmouth those of us who are. Nice to know.

hipparchia said...

steve,

since you took the time to read it twice, you definitely deserve a substantive reply. i'll try.

the first prophesy [the sibyl's] of rivers of blood turned out to be all too true, epic literature practically requiring wars on a grand scale, but the second one [enoch's] was mostly the boy crying wolf, since integration of the races didn't bring about all that much bloodshed.

somewhere in between those two extremes, all my examples fall, although the only violence over suffrage was the arrest and jailing of some of the women [at least, i don't think anyone was killed].

i originally posted this over at corrente, to mixed reviews, most of them like yours. this comment stated perfectly one of the points i was hoping to make:

If you’re going to start some radical movement, even a non-violent one, it’s best to presume blood might flow - your own.

you can look at each one of those examples i used and interpret them a number of ways.

the one that seems to be most popular is that i'm calling for bloody revolution [either literal or metaphorical], and that i see such means as the only way to achieve my desired end.

or from the other side, if you stomp on the downtrodden long enough and hard enough, they'll eventually give up on more peaceful methods, throw caution to the winds, and rip your face off [did i use enough bad cliches?]

bdblue [the commenter i quoted above] picked up on one that i felt was important: advocates for big changes don't always come out of those changes unscathed. or even alive. takes more than a dash of courage [or stupidity!] to go ahead and do it anyway.

even so, the end result was worth it, for most folks. france got a less authoritarian govt, laborers got better working conditions, women got the vote, colonists threw off england's oppression [didn't work out real well for some africans and for some native americans, i admit].

i seriously doubt that hillary would head up a 3rd party, and nobody else right now has the following that she's got, so even if there were a willing 3rd party candidate, that party would never get off the ground.

i'm planning to post on it in a bit more detail in the next few days, but a preview [cf 1992]: i think hillary could easily head up a national feminist party, split off 20% of the vote in november, which is not enough to win but quite possibly enough to establish the beginnings of a new party, and that even with that margin taken away from the democrats, obama would still win. the republican party is going down and obama is diligently wooing all but their most wingnutty wingnuts.

i'm thinking we're mostly in we have nothing to fear but fear itself territory on this. and yes, the fact that i've come to know and like a few people [you and michael chief among them] who stand to lose a lot if i'm wrong is a paralyzing thought for me.

Michael said...

I just read my last comment back and it looks like I suggested that I'm being paid. Certainly, I am not. I just wanted to make that clear.

Michael said...

Hipparchia, thank you for your concern for my well being, and by no means can I ask you to sacrifice your well being for mine. There will be times when differences of perspective lead us in different directions, by necessity. I do think that Barack Obama is going to win in a landslide in November and I even made a donation yesterday. I'm sorry that he's not perfect, but from my perspective he's the best candidate in my lifetime, and for all that some people see him as only a lesser evil, I would not have made a donation if I thought so. I think he's basically good.

So anyhow, if you need to abstain or vote third party or work outside the two parties to build a new movement, then I'm not against it. Your vote is yours, and you owe it to nobody.

Steve Bates said...

hipparchia, I identify most with the following commenter over on CorrenteWire:

"No third party for me this cycle, thanks anyway; too much at stake. If you want to start one up after the election, I’ll listen; a more inclusive name would help." - bringiton

Not to say I'd end up joining; there is much yet to be specified about the platform. But it might be possible after this election, as it is impossible right now. You know I do not idolize Obama... I disagreed this very day with his advocacy of ethanol as one "solution" to the energy problem... but after eight years of Bush/Cheney, we must stave off a McCain presidency or see our nation literally go to ground. I agree that your issues are of highest priority once survival is dealt with.

I also agree with bringiton that a party with "Feminist" in its name is certain to drive away men who would otherwise support its aims. (Yes, I understand the verbal distinction you made in your reply.) That doesn't mean you shouldn't stick with that name, only that you can reasonably expect many men, including me, to stay away because of the name alone.

And there is still the issue that a new party that draws away 20 percent of the progressive electorate, leading to a McCain victory, is pretty certain to spoil the American scene for the rest of my natural life, and maybe for decades after that. If I saw such a party as likely to achieve your goals, it might be worth it to me. But I don't. It seems likely to me to fail to achieve genuine gender equality AND to trash my retirement years. Look how well things worked out for Nader and the Greens.

Michael said...

I try to be a feminist ally, myself. Women need men to stand with them against oppression. I'm not automatically supportive of a politician because she's a woman, but as far as I'm concerned it does put a thumb on the scale in her favor, because women are less well represented than they ought to be.

I'm not sure whether I'm truly a feminist, though. I cannot follow identity politics beyond a certain point.

I think a Feminist party is a bad idea only if you want to be viable, it would by necessity be a fringe kind of thing. We don't have Identity parties in America much.

hipparchia said...

most of us can't follow identity politics beyond a certain point. allies are good. and thumb on the scale is fine, whether we're talking about sex or skin color, or even religion. doesn't have to be exact representation, we just have to make extra efforts in that direction.

women got the vote by forming the national woman's party and focusing their energies very narrowly for several years. once they got the vote, they turned to the equal rights amendment, which almost got passed.

a natural progression from there, had they got era ratified, would have been to branch out and become the social justice party, or something along those lines, fighting racism and poverty, taking on prison reform, etc.

hipparchia said...

steve, i'm still not convinced you can blame nader. two things: you don't know if all those people would have turned out to vote if nader hadn't been in the race, and they really should have done a full and complete recount of the florida votes. that 537 margin is probably scurrilous.

as for feminist in the name, keeping men away might not be all bad, at least at the start. good chance they'd want to derail [expand] the purpose of the party to other things. happens a lot to women's issues.

1992: ross perot got 19% of the popular vote, bill clinton 43%, and that republican dude 37%. electoral college went 60+ for clinton [bill], with the remainder for bush1. not a single ec vote for perot, in spite of his getting nearly 20% of the popular vote.

my guess is that hillary clinton at the head of a party with feminist or women would get somehwere between 10 and 20% of the popular vote. unlike bryan, and a lot of others, i really don't think mccain has got a snowflake's chance in texas of winning.

Michael said...

hipparchia, a third party with a narrow focus may have a significant effect on the major parties, so apart from the unrealistic objective of electing a candidate from a Feminist party, it can still do a lot of good.

The ERA still needs to be passed, for one thing.

Steve Bates said...

"steve, i'm still not convinced you can blame nader."

Watch me. I already have, and I do.

"as for feminist in the name, keeping men away might not be all bad, at least at the start. good chance they'd want to derail [expand] the purpose of the party to other things. happens a lot to women's issues."

Every single-issue activist could say the same thing about her or his issue. But if there is no nation, you and other activists have no leverage in an election year (or any other year) to pursue your various single-issue agendas. Anarchy is not a basis for feminism or anything else. I do not wish to derail anyone's legitimate agenda; indeed, I agree (see above) that your issue is of the highest priority, after national survival. I just want America to survive the next four years... and yes, things are that critical. This is not the year for single-issue voting, if that voting leads to a McCain victory. Nader and his folk back in 2000 said "it has to get worse before it can get better." That was eight years ago, and in essence you're saying the same thing now. So... when does it get better?

Michael said...

Steve, I agree with hipparchia that they should have done a full and complete recount of Florida in 2000, because Gore won.

hipparchia said...

i agree with you, michael, that a third-party candidate would be exceedingly unlikely to get elected this time round, and that the utility here would be [1] establishing a viable party, and [2] the hopefully leftward effect it could [and should] have on the two main parties.

era. it seemed like such a simple thing to ask for.

Michael said...

As far as establishing a viable party, I still don't see why you aren't just supporting Cynthia McKinney. The Green party isn't an Identity Feminist party but it is definitely pro-feminist.

If this is just about Hillary Clinton, and no other woman could be your leader, then I don't know what to say, because she's endorsed Barack Obama and there is no chance she will defect from the Democratic party certainly before November, probably ever.

hipparchia said...

Watch me. I already have, and I do.

heh. i stand corrected. you have, and you do. :)

i was just saying to nick [the beer post] that if i won the lottery, i'd spend the money on traveling, but if the winnings were big enough, i'd pay to have a full recount of the florida votes first. just to set the record straight.

-----------------------

so, when does it get better? i don't know, steve. i really don't. i don't agree wholeheartedly with nader about the have to part, but sometimes i do fear that maybe everyone really will wait until we're in another great depression before doing something constructive, that the lessons of history are only going to sink in at that moment that history repeats itself.

i most fervently hope it does not come to that, nor do i [most of the time] actually want to hasten things and bring us to that point. speaking of which...

anarchy.

it's not quite the same thing as chaos, though the two often go hand in hand, and people use the words interchangeably. brief period of anarchy [= no government] does not necessarily have to bring with it a full state of chaos [= breakdown of society].

i admit i haven't studied the aftermath of my french example as well as i ought to have, so i haven't got a good idea of the timeline, but in the main, french society survived [and even prospered], and the government was restored [and in a better form than it had been].

the civil war here in the u.s. however, was chock full of government, both northern and southern versions, but produced untold chaos in the lives of very many people. rebuilding society after that was protracted and painful.

overall, no i don't want to live through either one, anarchy or chaos, because i expect it would go rather badly for me personally. nor do i wish to visit it on my friends and family, i really do like y'all a lot.

otoh, just because there are some scary possibilities doesn't mean i'm going to take that option off the table, but it's got to be there in case of dire straits... something like the present administration imposing martial law either just before the election or just before the inauguration might qualify as dire.

the splitting off of a progressive wing of the democatic party to form a third [progressive!] party would cause some dismay and some political disarray, but i fully believe it could be done without plunging us into any doomsday scenarios.

mostly i'm going to wait and see what comes of the two conventions, particularly the final vp choices.

hipparchia said...

i do like cynthia mckinney. and i like the greens philosophy, but i think part of their problem is that their focus has become too diffuse. they're too small to carry off what they're after. if they'd stayed just an environmentalist party, i'd probably have been a greenie for the past couple of decades.

right now, though, hillary clinton is the only woman with enough power and connections, and a large enough voter base, to actually pull off a viable third party. and while i'd like it to be feminist to start with, her present following make up a broad enough base to expand fairly quickly into human rights, or social justice, or ....

Steve Bates said...

Excuse me, but you've now said twice that the Greens are, or should be, the environmentalist party. That will never work in real life.

A few years ago, quite independent of my partisan politics, I served on the executive committee and the political committee of the Houston group of a large, well-known environmentalist organization. In the latter capacity, I had occasion to interview all sorts of local candidates for office who sought endorsements from this major org. In the course of those interviews, I found local Greens to have their hearts in the right place but their heads, often enough, totally empty of actual specific information on local environmental issues. I am not an expert in any specific aspect of environmental science, and my knowledge of environmental political action is strictly amateur... but I knew more than those people did, often a great deal more.

Here, at least, the Greens simply do not live up to their reputation when it comes to environmental work, if that work requires even minimal research and domain-specific knowledge. The Greens could probably have had me as a member if they had known squat about their purported primary issues. But they didn't.

hipparchia said...

i had the [possibly dubious] good fortune to fall in with some greens who did actually know a bit about environmental issues, and some others whose hearts were in the right place and knew which experts to go to for technical advice.

but yes, a lot of greenies like the warm fuzzies they get when talking about saving the environment, but actually have no clue beyond that. nice to have that kind of energy and passion waiting to be harnessed and directed.

and even worse, yes, evil-doers have funded green candidates with the intent of harming progressive causes.