Channeling the destructive impulse

Some days, I really just want to watch the world burn.

Irresponsible, you might say.  Given the typical American method of carrying out such an impulse, like the bombing of the Boston Marathon, I’d have to agree that it can be an issue.

We can’t shake the fact though, that sometimes our entire environment feels hostile to us.  It’s the whole world’s fault.  The fact that we have pain or anger does not necessarily help us identify what, precisely, deserves our backlash.  We just feel a heavy pressure coming down on us from the outside, and we want to push back, in every direction.

Given that Marx basically defined being a member of the working class as suffering crushing alienation, I think even “responsible, respectable” radicals (seriously, fuck you) should agree that this isn’t totally off base, and it might explain why a very good book was written linking work under capitalism, Reaganism, and school/workplace shootings.  It’s easy to understand the Christopher Dorner insurrection-of-one, especially when the media glorifies violent, individual solutions in pretty much every action movie and news report.

So how do we take this negative energy and make it work for something good, or at least, something that’s not a felony?  Well, for one thing I don’t think it needs to be converted but only properly aimed.  I think that besides promotion of socialism, there also needs to be a lot of verbal and printed criticism of capitalism, the people who run it, and the people who profit from it.  So some of your venom can be spent mouthing off about them.

It’s true that we need to build institutions, we need to build power, but personally for me I see this as a great outlet for my negative energy.  When I’m putting together a coalition or team that really energizes and empowers the people in it, I’m not just happy I built something.  I feel that this sort of activity, appearing constructive on the surface, is really a knock in the face of the ruling class – especially if it contributes to a really huge protest.

Protest movements are similar in that they are really a collective criticism of the way things are, embodied in person.  They help build our side and subvert the power structure.  When I’m part of a really big protest, something nationally organized with bus contingents, or something going viral everywhere, I feel like I’m tapping into a collective stream of anger running through the entire population.  I’m standing there with my sign for the people who couldn’t show up, so their hate is with me.

When all else fails, riots work.

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