80: Revolution

The good revolutionaries are all dead— dead or, having won, become as rotten as those they once opposed. Musicians and poets, if they intend to be understood, write only about love, nature, and matters of opinion. They don’t destroy our painful sleep with brutal recognitions and idealistic agendas. Color has left our public places— students no longer shout at entry ways; no longer can crimes be justified by strong feelings. People are different now only for difference sake. Long hair is merely a fashion statement, no longer a sign of political opinion, no longer a sign of intellectual commitment. Debate is part of the process and deviations from the process result in punishable crimes—conspiracy, inciting riot, disrupting the peace, resisting authority. Violence safely rests in the hands of professionals— CIA, FBI, army, air force, navy, marines, national guard, drug and alcohol enforcement, state troupers, highway patrol, sheriffs, police, security guards. In response to violence, to the threat of violence, or to conditions that foster violence, a government must be violent, and violence has its desired effect. Only terrorists, dictators, and democrats— vicious losers and compromised winners— are left. Instead of bombs— banks go bankrupt; a market drops. Instead of protests— send in your board-member proxies. Instead of boycotts— refuse to vote. Instead of destroying property— buy a competitor’s product. Revolution has been co-opted; change is now a matter of good business— making or losing money on the turnover. The interests of the people and the interests of the state are the same. It would be romantic to think otherwise, and romantics are poor revolutionaries. If the people have complaints against their chosen leader, it is not from a nobler ideal. Although the state is imperfect in practice, it constantly renews itself to work for ideals it will never realize. Meanwhile, the good revolutionaries are dead and buried, buried under the burdensome opportunity for success. We might as well forget them. They represent another age, an age of innocence shocked by unacceptable and unimaginable conditions— and we’ll never be that innocent again.

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