Thursday, October 19, 2006

What Could Make a Privileged Idealist Take Up Arms?

I don't like the me I can become sometimes, the hyper-passionate, extremist, militant, scary me, the monstrous me I've shamefully let some see all too often before; yet a part of me I can't deny and sometimes even embrace; the part of me that could drive me to do those ominous things I've suggested before. This is the me who considers and investigates such things as revolutionary tactics and explores leaderless resistance movements, who entertains the very real possibility of dropping out of/getting expelled from college and becoming a militant activist/agitator/"terrorist" just like those bourgeois al-Qaida militants. Perhaps, as Gore Vidal said of that racist, indiscriminate, insane fucker Timothy McVeigh, I also need "a self-consuming cause to define" myself.

I can't deny any of this, but there is a crucial difference between me (even the me I just spoke of) and those terrorists such as al-Qaida and McVeigh, and it is imperative that anyone who knows me and is put off by my apparent militant extremism recognize and understand the difference absolutely. It has to do with motivations, outcomes and context. It is empathy and the raised moral bar before which the ends can justify the means in my eyes. I understand that riot cop could just as easily be someone like my father, or yours; that soldier could just as easily be numerous buddies of mine, or either of my grandfathers; but whatever human back-story they have ceases to exist, as does mine, the moment we associate ourselves with ideals; when we clash in an absolutely justified, valid battle of incompatible ideologies. We cease to be human first and beliefs second and become representatives of our ideologies, and when the stakes are high enough and the battle is justified enough, sometimes conflict is the only option. When all other legitimate avenues have been exhausted, when moderation and diplomacy fail AND when the cause is just, violence in socio-political affairs is justified.

I realize this could be construed as undermining my opposition of our invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. It doesn't. It could also be construed as supportive of the insurgency. You have to examine every scenario on a case-by-case basis (this is where the contextual part comes in). I would support the American Revolution. I would support the Russian Revolution. In certain situations, confronted with certain things, with certain motivations behind me, I would absolutely fight. I wouldn't murder, maim or rape innocents or children in the name of any cause, as Winston reluctantly agrees to do in Orwell's 1984 (a hypocritical betrayal of the very objective morality and humanism he wants to fight for, which eventually undermines and helps destroy him), but I would absolutely travel to Catalonia as Orwell did to take up arms against fascists in the Spanish Civil War. And, for perhaps the first time since WWII, I believe we are facing such a grave, justified cause: Pax Americana.

But with the one-party rule that's mutilated our country for the past four years looking set to collapse in a mere 19 days, maybe I shouldn't get so worked up.

Go vote, fuckers.