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August 01, 1986 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1986-08-01

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FORUM
Friday, August 1, 1986

Page 8

The Michigan Daily

Left and Right, questioned and examined

By Bob Black
In astronomy, "revolution" refers'
to a return to the same place. For the
left it seems to mean about the
same. Leftism is literally reac-
tionary. Just as generals prepare to
fight the last war, leftists incite the
last revolution. They welcome it
because they know it failed. They're
vanguards because they're always
behind the times. Like all leaders, lef-
tists are least obnoxious when
following their following, but in cer-
tain crises they step to the fore to
make the system work. In the
left/right metaphor has any meaning,
it can only be that the left is to the left
of the same-thing the right is to the
right of. But what if revolution means
stepping Out of line?
If there were no right, the left would
have to invent it - and it often has.

follow, outside righto-leftist dogma, Reichstag fire which will consume its ism: everything but leftism) is devoid against revolt.
that employment is a good thing. It parties and unions along with the cor- of all humor and imagination: hence
isn't. The "right to work," arguably porations and armies and churches it can stage only coups, not
an appropriate slogan in 1848, is ob- currently controlled by its ostensible revolutions, which change lies but not
solete in 1986. People don't need work. opposite; life. But the urge to create is also a Bob Black is a former con-
What we need is satisfaction of sub-' Nowadays you have to be odd to get destructive urge. One more effort, tributor to the Daily who currently
sistence requirements, on the one even. Greylife leftism, with its leftists, if you would be writes for Popular Reality. Black
hand, and opportunities for checklists of obligatory antagonisms revolutionaries! If you're not revolt-
creative, convivial, educative, diver- (to this-ism, that-ism and the other- ing against work, you're working graduatedfrom LSA in 1973.
se, passionate activity on the other.
Twenty-five years ago the Goodman d
brothers guessed that 5% of the labor
then expended would meet minimum W DW ~oDN oTi
survival needs, a figure which must
be lower today; obviously entire so-TS
called industries serve nothing but OF YOu DRu& TETh.
the predatory purposes of commerce OTWIN& YOUR $TSO$S
and coercion. That's an ample in-
frastructure to play with in creating a
world of freedom, community and -
pleasure where "production" of use--
values is "consumption" of free s ' -
gratifying activity. Transforming
work into play is a project for a
proletariat that refuses that con- M ;_

'What we need is satisfaction of sub-
sistence requirements, on the one hand,
and opportunities for creative, convival,
educative, diverse, passionate activity on
the other.'
(Examples: Calculated hysteria over dition, not for leftists left with nothing
Nazis and KKK which awards these to lead.
wimpy slugs the notoriety they need; Pragmatism, as is obvious from a
or lowest-common-denunciation of glance at its works, is a deluxe snare.
the Moral Majority, obviating un- Utopia is sheer common sense. The
mannerly attacks on the real sources choice between "full employment"
of moralist tyranny - the family, and unemployment - the choice that
religion in general, and the work- left and right collaborate to confine us
ethnic espoused by leftists and to - is the choice between the Gulag
Christians alike.) The right likewise and the gutter. No wonder that after
needs the left: its operational all these years a stifled and suffering
definition is always anti-communism, populace is weary of the democratic
variously drecked-out. Thus left and lie. There are less and less people who
right presupposes and recreate each want to work, even among those who
other. rightly fear unemployment, and more
One bad thing about bad times is and more people who want to work
that they make opposition too easy, as wonders. By all means let's agitate
(for instance? every economic crisis for handouts, tax cuts, freebies, bread
gets shoehorned into archaic Marxist, and circuses - why not bite the hand
populist or syndicated categories. that feeds you? The flavor is excellent
The left thereby positions itself to - but without illusions.
fulfill its historic role as reformer of The (sur)rational kernel of truth in
those incidental (albeit agonizing) the mystical Marxist shell is this: the
evils which, properly attended to, "working class" is the legendary
conceal the system's essential "revolutionary agent": but only if, by
inequities: hierarchy, moralism, not working, it abolishes class.
bureaucracy, wage-labor, Perennial "organizers," leftists don't
monogamy, government, money. understand that the' workers have
(How can Marxism ever be more than already been definitely organized by,
capital's most sophistciated way of and can only be organized for their
thinking about itself?) bosses. "Activism" is idiocy if it
Consider the acknowledged epicen- enriches and empowers our enemies.
ter of economic crisis: work. Unem- Leftism, that parasite for sore I's,
ployment is a bad thing. But it doesn't dreads the outbreak of a Wilhelm

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