Ted Rall and the Rude Pundit Talk Revolution, Part 1 (We've Been Here Before):
"[T]he shape and extent of whatever violence may come is not in the hands of people like
myself, but in the hands of the American people, who are at present among the most dishonorable and violent people in the world. I am merely trying to face certain blunt, human facts...People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned." That was not written or spoken by Osama bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Nope.
That's from one of the most celebrated writers in American literature, James Baldwin. There's a good chance that in high school or college you read his short story "Sonny's Blues" or his 1953 novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. In 2004, Baldwin was honored with a stamp. In the press release announcing it, the U.S. Postal Service said, "His writings are a demonstration of his love for all of us."
They probably weren't thinking of those lines at the top, which come from his 1972 non-fiction book No Name in the Street, where he also said, "There will be bloody holding actions all over the world, for years to come: but the Western party is over, and the white man's sun has set. Period."
It used to be understood on the left, back in the 1960s and 1970s, that you talked about revolution, even if it involved violence as a last resort, in order to achieve leftist goals. But now such talk is seen as madness from liberals. Our goals are only to be accomplished through the niceties of the electoral process and the hope that some yahoo from Kentucky won't just block shit in order to be an asshole.
When cartoonist and writer Ted Rall, who has put his ass on the front line in Afghanistan in order to report on what's happening there, appeared on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show to discuss his new book The Anti-American Manifesto, what was most startling was that the host took Rall seriously because Rall makes a rational case for the possibility of violent revolution in the United States. Yes, if neocons can seemingly rationally talk about the good of bombing Iran and be treated as respected authorities on shit, then leftists can rationally discuss other kinds of violence. Of course, the interview pissed off people on the right. And, in a not-as-shocking-as-it-ought-to-be response, people who are ostensibly Democrats or liberals were shitting themselves over it, too (or just ignoring it).
"I think it's really funny coming from the right, who loves their guns, who says we're gonna kick their ass...all that John Wayne shit. God forbid anyone on the left should say it. Then they're all 'Kumbaya,'" Rall said when he and the Rude Pundit met at a very un-revolutionary bourgeois bistro on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (although it was French).
Tomorrow, the Rude Pundit will tell you a great deal more of the conversation, which veered from when violence becomes necessary to the reticence of the left to talk revolution to how the Tea Party might be onto something (just not what you think). For now, here's one more quote from Baldwin: "Whoever is part of whatever civilization helplessly loves some aspects of it, and some of the people in it. A person does not lightly elect to oppose his society."