"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Nov 2, 2011


Intransigence is not a contemptible trait.  

The middle class, and its college educated managerial all stars, would do well to remember who paid the price for their captive commons, their enduring institutions, and their wholly owned regulatory agencies. They would do well to remember who the various iterations of the state work so hard to contain - hint, they almost never look like the face a middler sees in his Tarjay mirror -, and who they buy up with goodies, tax write offs and public services. They would do well to remember to which class's support staff they actually belong. And why it is the actually poor mistrust them.

Intransigence is not a contemptible trait.

It was intransigent people who bought the middle class its breathing space, though they were aiming for something else. They were people who were willing to go up against their class enemies. Red Emma Goldman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Joe Ettore, Johann Most, Mother Mary Harris Jones, Big Bill Haywood and the countless workers, strikers and saboteurs who have no names recorded in the history books  - these were intransigent people. They were, for the most part, without the sanction of credentials. They were unsafe. They knew the score, and who was always winning.

Intransigence is not a contemptible trait.

Just ask the Black Panthers, what's left of them. Intransigence cost them, surely. The response to the Panthers, by those with political and economic power, should tell all you need to know about the potency of intransigence. To this day, the idea that they might re-form and rise up again is enough to send the middlings into shivers.

Intransigence is not a contemptible trait.

The Fabian experiment failed. Because the state always belongs to those with the wealth. The ruled don't get the government they deserve. The wealthy get the state they've purchased, a state which exists to protect their...property. Because those who own the world are, surprise fucking surprise, intransigent about relinquishing it. They aren't going to be persuaded with polite laws and peaceful protest. These they tolerate, because every fool with a placard or a hotline to the next election is already half in the bag for another set of compromises...

If you're worried about what happens when people think in terms of class enmity, about what happens to all the middling managers, the clerks, the professors of ruling class literature, the people with debt-homes and the lifestyle to which service to the wealthy has made you accustomed - perhaps you know in your heart what side you're really on. Perhaps your liberalism, your adherence to progressive "reform" and your willingness to submit go hand in hand. No doubt you might even accompany your good liberalism with a sneer for those who haven't been so lucky. All under the guise of saving them, of course. That's why you teach the destitute and poor -er, whoops. You don't. You're a more than comfortable professor, or an administrator. You don't understand why the stupidheads aren't agitating for universal university education. I mean like, isn't that just the pinnacle of good living - the security-prurity of academia? It must be because they're all too dumb and ill-fashioned to have your taste in books and the good life. They lack your cultivated aloofness, the silly dears. They have strong needs, instead of a lifestyle.

Perhaps this is all too unforgiving, harsh and intransigent of me. You love the poor and the dirty, surely - from a safe distance. You don't really have a problem with soup kitchens. You might even volunteer at one.

But, doing what it takes to make sure there's no need for soup kitchens? That smells of violence, risk, and the opportunity to lose your good liberal life, doesn't it? And besides, what would you do if you didn't have good little middle class students to teach?

Because, maybe, you're not intransigent. This is your life, right? It's your set of compromises. Nobody should fault you for sticking to them. Honestly. Sincerely. But you're not an improvement upon the human norm. You're just compromised. And being less-compromised isn't an improvement either, for what it's worth. It just sucks more. Poverty sucks. That's why people stress it. It's why we suffer it. It's killing us. It's killing those of us who are actually poor.

It makes you intransigent, living from hand to mouth. It rends you, and renders you.

The problem with the compromisers isn't that they've compromised. It's that their view of the end game is insufficient. It ends up with everyone complicit.


Taking a knee to avoid the ramifications of actual resistance, safely ensconced in academia, prideful of the number of books about which opinions have been offered, dripping with scorn for those who don't embody or need to apologize for a gambler's debt of affiliations to the status quo, wagging an unscarred, unburned, uncalloused finger at the first indication that actually poor people might visit the middle class with the hatred and disregard due the clerks and condottieri of the too-distant lords of all creation - those are contemptible traits.

Intransigence is not contemptible.

It's what's going to get the rest of us through.

If you don't like that, kindly pick your side already. And stick to it.

* - and before another fuckwit argues that the possession of internet access makes a person an inhabitant of the compromised middle class, we live on less than $23k a year. It's been a decade since we made anything approaching the money which might allow us to do more than just survive. And it's worth mentioning that once a man has been out of work for more than a year, he becomes less and less "viable" as an employee. There are so many others, especially the shits with useless degrees, vying for the same jobs...and they don't have children's schedules around which work time must be fit.


Mark S said...

How the hell else does the Overton Window ever budge, if not at the hands of intransigents working its edges?

Anatole David said...

(Reposted from end of "Chomsky's Agonistes" thread with a tiny addition)

It's never about Purity. The focus is realism.

Critique is easily ignored, or even subsumed. Capital only respects force. Thereby I, once again, stress Chomsky's anachronism. He's fighting "The Battel of the Bookes" in the 21st Century.

The physical resistance of the Vietnamese ended the Vietnam war--not pronouncements from Chomsky arguing Buckley on TV to gratify the hearts of "purist" Liberals. In fact, the purity test always surface against those who demand concrete results! Liberalism's way of raging against the Light they're warmed by. How dare those who resist continue to live and sustain healthy, joyful life?

Fuck the purity argument. It inoculates any effort to produce change in horror of upsetting treasured comforts. It values the comforting illusions of the ideological rebel while never daring to encroach upon privileged repose.

Soma said...

Well, if other people are willing to compromise you anyway, intransigence is a necessity.

DPirate said...

There's always someone poorer than you. So what! You remind me of my aunts making me judge which was the fattest. You people need to get over your narcissistic credentializing.

Jack Crow said...




I'm wary of the Democratic Party Values and netrootsia which come attached to the "Overton Window," but I think I get your point?


Yes. That. "Purity" is another way to keep the gate.



Mark S said...


The window is what you make it. I think it still holds that moving ahead and staking out strong positions opens up new territory, creating positions that are more tenable for more timid souls to move into and hold. At Shift for instance I've been watching and working at an Overton window as regards perceptions of autism. If the netroots (and Glen Beck!) have jumped on the bandwagon, that just indicates to me that they sense it's a dynamic that's in their interests to obfuscate and neutralize.

Implicitly though, without naming it as such, haven't conservatives been working an Overton window for a few decades now, with the Republicans staking out the strong positions, and the Dems following right behind, moving into territory that used to be right-of-center, but which has been made to appear centrist because more extreme right positions are being staked out?

Maybe I'm missing something, but this is one reason I value what you're doing -- you're staking strong positions that may well seem unreasonable, and you're willing to take the heat for doing so, even when it comes from would-be allies, folks nearby within the window. I don't see a lot of that going on; it's much of the reason I'm here.

Jack Crow said...

Aye, Mark - the ratchet effect. I'm not sure I'm personally working against the gear on that one. I just sort of type what I think and don't try to self-edit my emotions when doing it.

Mark S said...

Miss17 has recently introduced her mother and I to the audiobook of Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men, where (besides being shot through with the word "Aye" spoken in Scottish dialect) one of the lines is, "Ach! What people mean to do, and what is done, are two different things."

Aye, the ratchet effect. By function, perhaps, if not by intent.