While Mr. Wisdom and I were suspended in eternity, I've apparently gotten a reputation on a certain social network for being a cognitively inferior bully who beats up anyone who uses the term, "socialist" or "socialism." It's true I participated in a poorly executed conversation wherein I was trying to point out that when individuals make statements like, "Capitalism is Corrupt to the Core," it's possible that people who consider themselves capitalists (because they are entrepreneurs or feel tied to the Eisenhower era or whatever) will be offended. It doesn't really matter whether or not Marx himself would consider that person a capitalist. What matters is the perception of the individual hearing the statement. Granted, I had personal issues with the individual who made the statement in the first place, and I was cranky because there have been layoffs at work, I'm sort of homeless as of 5/31 and Velvet has somehow gotten the idea that putting dirty dishes in the sink is the same as washing the dishes.
But the point I was trying to make, albeit awkwardly, was that anyone who wants to gain support for his ideas might take a moment to consider the implications of his slogans even in chat rooms where the members are generally like minded. To me, saying Capitalism is Corrupt to the Core could easily be interpreted to mean that my dad is corrupt. I have a few dear friends whose fathers were executive VPs for oil companies when we were all in high school, and while there's no denying oil companies had a hand in destroying the planet, those dads were nice guys at home, dedicated fathers who listened to their daughters and eventually gave money to Greenpeace because listening with love caused a little shift in the executive consciousness.
A thoughtful and committed Socialist said that my dad was a worker like all of us, which was a good point well taken - but by the time he came along, I was more concerned with the way conversations are used by some people in order to establish dominance. Deborah Tannen describes this phenomenon at length in her book, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.
The situation deteriorated when I said that Monsanto has contaminated the food chain and BP has destroyed the Gulf while so much radiation has been leaking from Japan that Godzilla will surely rise out of the ocean - and it really doesn't matter what Marx had to say.
I understand that Marx had plenty to say about plenty of shit. Woody has bored me into a coma with all his talk about the importance of Marx. There seems to be a general consensus in certain circles that Marxism provides an excellent framework for understanding capitalist society - in particular socioeconomic class in a capitalist society. I never denied that for an instant, even though I have no more intention of reading Das Kapital than I have of reading DeTocqueville's Democracy in America. I'm reading Tom Robbin's Jitterbug Perfume.
Honestly, when Woody says that socialism would be the best system of economics and government because people don't have to struggle for food, shelter, clothing, health care, education - et cetera, et cetera, et cetera - I believe him because he has an informed, considered opinion when it comes to theories and philosophies and stuff. But when people in an internet chat room start calling me ignorant and misguided because I feel like they're not going to stop yammering on about the benefits of socialism until PENolan admits once and for all that Socialism is the best of all possible worlds - I feel like nobody is talking about Socialism anymore. Somebody just wants to be the Big Dog. That's where Deborah Tannen comes in. Sadly, I am now an example of bourgeois stupidity all across the internet.
I'm still observing May Day because what Pinko the Bear said about all of us being workers no matter where we work is true - but I knew that long before the Koch Brothers hired Scott Walker to launch a union busting campaign bent on blaming teachers for ruining the economy. And I knew Jay Gould said he could hire half the working class to kill off the other half without ever reading Marx. I'm pretty sure there are plenty of people who ride the bus down Broadway who inherently understand they are being exploited by rich white guys on Wall Street even if they've never heard of Occupy Wall Street. As it happens, I knew all that stuff because I read Vonnegut and because my parents raised me to pay attention to the world around me.
I'm not a happy camper, marching in the street under a banner reading Workers of the World Unite, because when somebody starts shoving his or her ideas down your throat without taking a moment to find out where you're coming from, it feels a lot like date rape to me. I've been date raped enough times to know that sometimes you have to stand up and defend yourself. That day on the internet, I was defending my right to make my own decisions about how to spend my time and energy. It's my right to leave the theoretical discussions to people who care about that in order to focus on healing the sense of isolation that has developed largely because the propaganda machine we call the Mainstream Media has so successfully divided workers from each other that we remain conquered. Sisyphus might have gotten that boulder up the hill if he's have had some help - a few people pushing just as hard but a little farther to the left or to the right.
Now that I'm thinking about it, though, I might go to work and be with my kids after all. It's always safe in my classroom - and I'm happy to say that it's safe with Mr. Wisdom too. But it's not safe out there in the big, wild world or in internet chat rooms either.