Monday, August 29, 2011

Political Education

You want real fucking power? You want to feel something that Bonapartes and Kings and Mussolinis felt? You want to be Lenin, leaning conversationally from that hazily painted platform? You want to make men weep and women nod in agreement?

Then talk to people.

Can you find a group of people that wouldn't normally listen? Sure you can; the world's hostile. Go out and find them. Go, find them, and talk to them.

The more pathetic, the better. Don't go speak truth to power. Chomsky's right: the powerful know the truth! They just don't care. So go speak truth to powerless. See how you do.

Go to the parts of town where your friend of a friend buys weed. Go down to the bus station. Go down to the jail, or the detox center. Ask to speak at a local church.

Maybe you'll want to do your research first. Check it out for some time. See what the school board actually talks about. Maybe your dream isn't suited to their brains just yet. Maybe you'll realize that what you want to say, that your brilliant speech, your amazing insight into What Really Is... Just ain't interesting to a bunch of mosquito-bitten alcoholics meeting in an AC-less shack, joking about the rat who's running the walls. Maybe you'll listen first, if you're smart, and figure out how to bridge what you want to have heard and what they want to hear. I can't imagine a terrific talker who's not skilled in listening.

So go find that tough crowd. Go find that unforgiving audience. And try out your material. Maybe you'll learn that the material ain't the biggest deal. Maybe you'll learn that people really want a tone and a face that say "I'm not full of myself" and "I'm not trying to sell you the moon." Maybe you'll learn something about most people.

Maybe you'll be challenged, and you'll either fold or you'll roll with it. And they feel good; the former because it won't be as bad as you feared and the latter because you'll taste, if only momentarily, real human power. But you'd better remember the feeling. That's all power is when you're working from the bottom. The taste of recognition, the sight of nodding in a crowd, the feeling that you're not telling these people how to be but that you are reminding them of what they already are. We cannot afford any messiahs. Much less can we tolerate any more tin-eared, would-be saviors.

I may not be a messiah but I can teach a messiah all the same. Practice your material. Drown your babies. If your cure doesn't sell to the sick, then maybe you're not the healer you thought you were.


  1. Hey I think there's some truth in there! Maybe more than some! Maybe a lot!

  2. Aw, thank you. It was a rehash of some things I've already said, but I felt it, so...