Thursday 3 October 2013

The Michael Jackson Strategy.

"Keep your distance, Chewie, but don't look like you are keeping your distance". Han Solo to Chewbacca.

Consider this situation: blacks and other ethnic/religious minorities are discriminated against in mostly white European/North American countries. For some reason, white people in these countries feel a deep, automatic and irrational aversion towards people who look differently.

If you faced that problem, what should you do?

Simple! Bleach your skin and hair, go to a plastic surgeon; dress like everybody else. All this should make you look less different, and, hence, more acceptable.

In other words, you do like Michael Jackson did: you give up being black and become white.


Although this may be just wishful thinking, I hope most readers would find the previous suggestion lies somewhere between the "obviously ridiculous" end, and the "just plain offensive" end: after all, if one's mere existence disgusts someone else, surely, the solution cannot be to change one's appearance or habits?


In a way, something similar happens to Marxists. I'm sure the reader has witnessed this: someone mentions the words "Marx", "Marxism", "socialism"; in an almost Pavlovian reaction, all sorts of disparaging comments pop up: the bell sounds and the dogs start barking.

So, what should socialists do?

For one, there is the democratic solution: to defend, argue and reason one's position, hoping -- perhaps against all hope -- that someone will believe the truth. It's not an easy solution. In fact, it sucks: it requires patience, courage and dignity; it's hard, it's tiresome and, at times, maddening. And, in spite of all your efforts, you may still fail. But that's how democracy is supposed to work.

Is there another solution? I can see none; but then, maybe I'm not clever enough.

Some disagree. There is an easier solution, they say, and propose this:
"However the fact of the matter is that Marxism, like Anarchism and even Socialism, are tainted words in the minds of the electorate. Those terms will have to be abandoned.
"A clear win for the PR machine of Corporatism indeed, but that's the dirty fight we are in."
(Neil Wilson, see comments here)

So, no, according to Wilson, you don't need to defend your position. You don't argue or reason, either. You just shut up. This much is clear: that's a much easier task.

In the spirit of Han Solo's quote, deep inside you could even remain a socialist; the only thing required is not to look like one.

Above all, you don't use those "tainted" words, ever; never mind that by doing so you proclaim victorious "the PR machine of Corporatism".

In other words, you follow the Michael Jackson strategy: you accept and internalize repression and play by its rules. You give up looking black and try to look white; not out of being ashamed of being black, but to bamboozle the racists into accepting you.

Likewise, as a socialist (indeed, a cryto-socialist), you give up even the word "socialism"; but you do this for a higher purpose: to lay the foundations of socialism.

Ingenious, isn't it? (!?).

And you pray you fool those around you, because, hey, that worked out very well with Michael. And you become a mainstream politician, the kind who lies and makes of the word democracy a bad joke. 


It's a sad day when cowardice, madness and self-inflicted repression is seen as wisdom and realism.