OBU Manifesto 19
The movement is the sum of all movements (though it doesn’t yet exist). The movement is the empty space between the movements. The movement is the dark matter that allows all that we see to cohere.
OBU is a gravitational attraction.
OBU is all the people who go from meeting to meeting trying to find the group whose focus corresponds most closely to their own.
OBU is the realization that they will never find it.
And every night and morning, they’ll complain, oh those guys, they don’t know how to organize and those guys, they don’t have any real vision, and those over there, they’re just lobbyists and fundraisers, and those guys don’t know the Democratic Party is bankrupt, and those ones don’t admit that 3rd parties brought us Bush II and Trump, and over there they only think about the narrow interests of organized labor, but over there they don’t realize that without organized labor there is no movement, and those guys are completely clueless about race, and those guys think the whole thing is always about race and get all bent out of shape with everyone else, and those twits are a bunch of old hippie peacenik dimwits, and over there it’s the reality-challenged millennial dopes, and this contingent is so self-righteous they have golden rose stems up their asses, and then there’s those guys that couldn’t get three ten-year olds to march down a street for free ice cream.
OBU is Oxymoronic Balloons Untethered
Face it, OBU concludes, the Left is shot. Every single tiny facet of it is ineffectual, and every facet thinks that every other facet is more ineffectual.
But, then we pulled off those Women’s Marches– 3 million people across the country (just about the number by which Hilary won the election). That was amazing, there’s no getting around it. That was a demonstration. That was a beginning for OBU.
And that is important to remember, is it not? Hilary lost by 60,000 in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, but she won by 3,000,000 in the whole country.
OBU needs never to lose sight of that fact, of that reality. She’s a liberal, globalist, technocrat with close ties to the financial industry. But she’s not a racist or sexist, and she’s not a pathological narcissist and she’s not delusional. Three million more liberal, tolerant, at least somewhat cosmopolitan people voted for her than frightened, angry, variously xenophobic, intolerant people voted for DT.
OBU acknowledges that this fact should give us hope. On the other hand, OBU reasons, let’s say Hilary won… How would we assimilate the fact that 48 or 49% of the electorate voted for Trump? One would feel relieved Hilary won, but not feel a substantial amount of hope. OBU would still be necessary if Hilary had won.
OBU is Oligarchy Busters United, and don’t forget it!
There is no mistaking what is surrounding us. It is very dark. The darkness is not opaque. Objects are more visible than ever. Social forces are vivid, they are not abstract. Never before, OBU remarks, in the lives of the living, have we seen in this country, on this scale, such love of darkness, such mad embrace of the wind’s teeth, the insult, the threat, the love of force.
OBU also recognizes that African Americans may question that assertion… “Never before….????” Well, ok, so now that darkness is more widely visible and more broadly directed; maybe more complicated, its economic components also more exposed. If we weren’t together before, let’s make sure we’re together now.
OBU does not hate hatred. OBU fights hatred.
OBU fights to overcome and defeat hatred at every lattice, tree trunk, construction site, city council meeting, baseball game, tree root, retail outlet, leaf and branch, music practice room, union hall, presidential inauguration, church, temple, mosque, synagogue, park, amber wave of grain, crevice and doorknob. OBU will raise the blinds, it will reason with its interlocutors, it will appeal to the fellow-feeling of intelligent sentient beings, it will shove aside those who will not reason or empathize–get out of the way and let someone with more reason and fellow-feeling come forward!–OBU will defend itself and defend those who are attacked.
OBU wishes the passionate feelings of love to be unrestrained. OBU will carefully monitor the passions that lead toward violence. Once the force of righteous vengeance is set free, it is very difficult to call back. And what vengeance, after all, is not called “righteous”?
OBU is One Big Union
* * *
OBU Manifesto 20
OBU is of the opinion that to have a political opinion at this moment is pretty trivial. We all had plenty of opinions before the election. And now we have pretty much the same ones, except now they’re ALL IN BOLD CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!
BUT, it is also trivial to be ironic–not in the sense in which irony was purportedly “dead” after 9/11–but in that irony is now just another scripted response to the political crisis. Those tempermentally tending toward irony will, naturally, be ironic. Those without irony will still be without irony.
AND to think one knows what TO DO is obviously delusional.
AND to bemoan that one does not know what to do is redundant. A
ND to fulminate is obvious. And to identify the useless self-indulgent hand-wringing and blaming the Left (or the Center) of one’s friends and allies is always tempting, but just as useless. We failed, ok. And we’ve been failing for the past eight years, don’t forget that. We failed in 2010 and 2014. We allowed the Tea Party to come into being unopposed. We allowed racial antagonism and xenophobia to entwine themselves with economic grievances–we saw this and did nothing to disentangle them. This has been the Right Wing/Republican strategy since 1965 and we still have no answer for it.
OBU is Still One Big Union, or aspires to be…
OBU says, how the fuck is this possible?
As previously mentioned, however, to fulminate is obvious.
And OBU is still Oligarchy Busters United (and vibrant fulmination may be a necessary step)
OBU does not believe that the inevitable endgame of this conflict is civil war. OBU acknowledges that the reason for this may be that the Left and liberals simply lack the courage to fight and so the Right will win without fighting. They will win through voter suppression, truth and reality suppression, and the continued convincing of white middle and working classes that they are an oppressed minority (all the while further impoverishing them so that they will resent other races all the more).
* * *
OBU Manifesto 21
We must reimagine ourselves as the makers of our world.
To write a poem means to imagine the person capable of writing that poem. Usually that person isn’t “you” as you currently exist.
OBU does not “currently exist”; and yet these documents affirming it are real. Imagining OBU: If OBU had organs of language and expression, what would it say? If it had sensory organs, what would it see and hear and feel and taste. If it had a mind, what would be the contents of its consciousness? Or of its many consciousnesses?
If it had wheels…
Would it be our grandmother?
Things seem so simple until they’re not. OBU hears, Give everyone a voucher so they can send their kids to a school that doesn’t have unions–and that’s called “choice.” If you pay lower taxes, you imagine you don’t need higher wages. If you buy things cheap at Walmart, well then no worries if you have to work there too. If the problem is the government and its taxes and regulations, will the company keep the air and water clean and the workplace safe? If the problem is the unions, will you trust yourself to the market?
What’s your value, says OBU? What are you worth? When you boldly address the corporation and tell them you are indispensable, what does HR reply to you. When, by yourself, you proudly, individually and autonomously proclaim your worth and demand your recompense and ask really no more than a wage that will let you feed your family, make a car payment, send a kid to college maybe (maybe!?), what will the company say to you?
The market will determine your value, it’s nothing personal that you will have no health insurance or pension, that you can’t afford healthy food, that when you become sick or your car breaks down you lose your dwelling. Can we reimagine ourselves as the makers of our world?
OBU is One Big Union
The heroic entrepreneurs and the great powers of finance are crushing working people into the ground and the reason is simple: because they don’t need them.
“Surplus labor,” OBU observes, has always been a necessary feature of capitalism, a means of coping with the ups and downs of demand and a way to keep wages under control. But now nearly all labor is surplus, from college faculty to health care to manufacturing to clerical work to agriculture to fast food and retail… It’s all, “we’ll call you when we need you.” And everyone is so eager to cooperate: “Yes, yes, please call us, we’ll do whatever you ask for whatever you’ll pay us!! (It’s only our lives that depend on it).”
OBU is Oligarchy Busters United
OBU is the power of each person to reject and resist his market value.
This must be understood by each person individually. But it can only be acted on collectively, for the public must be reclaimed from the private, for not everything has a price and not every value can be expressed in dollars, and we breathe the same air, our bodies have the same pleasures and ailments, our children’s minds have the same curiosity, we share the love of beauty, of humor, of time to relax, of food that tastes good and makes us strong, of open space, of a clean, warm home with food in the fridge and some vodka in the freezer, of work that pays a fair wage and accomplishes something meaningful. We share all these loves and dreams in common. These are public goods. These are for everyone.
Whenever and wherever some people enjoy these public goods and others do not; when some people regard these public goods as their private earnings and entitlements and many, many others possess but a fraction, in these cases we know a crime is being committed. We are witnesses to a crime; and if we do nothing, we are parties to that crime.