Posts Tagged ‘Socialism for fun and profit’

This machine kills fascists, or your money back.

May 1, 2009

Today has been May Day, the international day to celebrate the labour movement. This morning, out of sheer lack of anything better to do, I decided to start posting suggestions for how to celebrate May Day to Twitter. I started out with one of my favourites, carolling. A simple joke, based on the idea that The Red Flag is often set to O Tannenbaum.

I kept this up for a bit, suggesting a number of activities that might be a suitable way to celebrate the achievements of the labour movement. Some were meant to be a bit humorous, but at their core was support for a more socialist outlook.

Over the day, one or two of them were retweeted around the place. And I picked up one or two new followers as a result. Some of the new followers, however, seemed to be a bit odd.

One of my suggestions that I was a bit uncertain of was Number 9. Basically, I suggested that people organise rallies like the recent April 15th “Tea Parties” in the US, and demand higher taxes. I was worried that some of the people I regularly interact with online might misunderstand me and think I somehow supported the recent protests.

It was after this tweet that I picked up a couple of new followers: a conservative blogger, and the Twitter account for the 912 DC movement – a group who intend to protest against the Obama administration’s tax plan on the 12th of September (on the grounds that the administration’s tax plan is a national tragedy on a par with the destruction of the World Trade Centre). This is not a group that I would normally wish to associate with. It seems I was right that some people might misinterpret my intentions of Suggestion 9.

During the day, I also kept track of Tweets tagged #Mayday, as I had done, to see what else was going on. It was here I found out another group associated with the Tea Party movement had retweeted Suggestion 9. However, after checking their feed, it became apparent they were using an automatic filter to find the phrase “tea party” and retweet everything it found, as it had picked up someone’s comment about a basketball game (which had initially been filtered through yet another auto-retweeter with no attribution to the original poster).

Anyway, now I have this new audience, I’m not sure what I should try to do. Do I attempt to make it clear to them that I’m not the person they’re looking for, or do I try to string them along, and attempt subversion of their movement? Sod it, that involves far too much work. Plus when I post this, Twitter will pick it up and they’ll read it.

In case they do: Look guys, no hard feelings? But if you think the biggest middle class tax cut since the depression means Obama is a socialist menace who must be stopped, you really need to get out and meet some real socialists. Also, you should probably have someone actually read the stuff you retweet to check it’s actually relevant.

Anyway, happy May Day to all.

Socialist Shmocialist.

April 21, 2009

As an Australian, I’ve been following the recent political discourse in the US with the sort of detachment one might expect. I mean, just because US politics affects most of the rest of the world is no reason to get involved. Plus, we don’t like it when they get involved in our politics, so I feel it only fair that we should stay out of theirs.

Still, I find it hard to stay out when I see people referring to the US President as a socialist. I don’t want to get into the political reasoning behind such claims, but I feel it is more to do with who he is and what he represents rather than any actual political ideology he might hold.

Anyway, listening to such claims reminds me of rather unpleasant events in my childhood. As a child growing up in Queensland during the 70s with fair skin and red hair, I was often criticised for not fitting into the “Bronzed Aussie” stereotype. One of the most scathing criticisms levelled at me was that I was an “Albino”.

This accusation bothered me a great deal. It was meant as an insult, and it was effective. I hated being called an albino. Not so much from any feeling that albinos are inferior, but more simply because it just wasn’t true. Even as a young boy I knew that albinism meant a deficiency in pigmentation resulting in pale skin, white hair, and pink irises. I had red hair and hazel eyes (I still do for that matter) so I clearly wasn’t an albino. I didn’t like being called something I wasn’t.

Now I’ve matured somewhat, it occurs to me that even more terrifying than being called an albino when I wasn’t is the idea that being called an albino is an insult. I mean, albinos have enough problems with being prone to skin cancer, poor eyesight, and all the other complications that Michael Moorcock forgot to mention. Being reduced to a schoolyard insult is just rubbing it in.

Anyway, to wander back to my point, I feel much the same about the accusations of socialism levelled at Barack Obama. I’m not entirely sure which is worse, from my point of view. That he is being called a socialist when he very clearly is not, or the idea that being a socialist is a bad thing.

Socialism has gotten a lot of bad press over the years. I’m not going to say it’s a perfect system, but I do feel that the almost Pavlovian reaction the word generates in some circles is disturbing. I don’t really want to get into a detailed discussion of comparative economics, but I do wonder, for all the alleged failures of socialism, why we still cling to a capitalist system that seems designed to completely collapse once every twenty years or so.

Anyway, Obama is not a socialist. He might be a liberal, but of course that’s lost its sting since the left in the US embraced the term. Then again, with the economy the way it is, maybe a real socialist is just what the US needs. Shame you don’t seem to have one.