You Say You Want a Revolution….

February 14, 2007

Chris Bowers of MyDD:

Throughout most of my life, I have been enamored by the idea of movements and revolutions. During the decade I spent studying literature, I was always most excited by experimental, avant-grade [sic] work that took place during times of political and social upheaval (you can never read enough early twentieth century artistic manifestoes–fortunately, there is no shortage of them). When I studied critical theory and philosophy, I was always most interested in work that challenged established norms of government, the self, perception and knowledge with radical, but rigorous, new ideas (I was obsessed with Michel Foucault at multiple times during my career in academia). History has always been a favorite hobby of mine, and my favorite topics are invariably revolutions: American, French, Russian, Irish, Indian, Cuban, Eastern European–you name it. Also, no matter how many presidential candidates, members of congress, Democratic Party leaders, or other national figures I meet and talk with, my favorite moments in political campaigns are always large rallies (preferably those organized by volunteers, or those convened to celebrate an electoral victory). I want to be there at the moment when history happens, when the world changes, when consciousness shifts, and when the people rise up and throw off the shackles of the elite, the status quo, and the comfortable. I have wanted that for a long time. Before that happens, I want to be an active member of the small clique, coterie or circle that identified the possibility for massive change and precipitated its manifestation. Whether it is a revolution of the sort Ben Franklin or Tristan Tzara would identify, I want in. As William Wordsworth wrote in The Prelude about witnessing the world change up close during the French Revolution “bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.” Man, do I ever envy young Wordsworth. I want working for a candidate to give me a taste of the revolutionary feeling for which I long, and I want my regular job to do the same thing. For a long time, artistic and intellectual endeavors provided me with that spark, but when they ceased doing so I moved onto a career where that feeling was quickly re-establishing itself: online progressive activism. If I am willing to upend my entire life to search for that feeling, the least I should expect from the candidates I support most fervently is that working for them will allow me to sense it.

Excellent satire – a perfect depiction of the naive, self-obsessed young poseur who thinks that revolution is “way kewl”, a big rush, kind of like extreme snowboarding, except with power so you can boss people around (being in a “small clique” in charge of everything – how kewl is that??), and he’s qualified – nay, entitled – to take some of the fun and games for his ownself.  Grab that brass ring, dude!  To the barricades!  But first let’s stop at a Starbucks and pick up a couple Double Shot Espressos – we need the buzz, man, it’s all about the feelings, the sensation….

The style is right on target, too – all the leaden narcissism of a college application essay.  A brilliant stroke by the author.

And this is a scream:

(I was obsessed with Michel Foucault at multiple times during my career in academia)

A little overboard with the stereotype here, but it’s so hilarious, it’s OK.

Too bad this piece is for real.

As the fabulous IOZ writes, accompanied by an aptly chosen historical photo:

The dork wants power, and he wants to ride a wave of popular whoop-dee-doo into a office with a view, a satellite feed, and two secretaries. Fuck the revolution, kiddo; work on your resume.

Yes, the dork wants power, but he also wants thrills.  He’s clear about the fact that he doesn’t really care what the principles are behind “movements and revolutions” – he just likes ’em!  Loves ’em, in fact! 

I find it dismaying that snools like this are in the vanguard of the “netroots” and so-called “people-powered politics”.



  1. Stalinism with sprinkles on top!

  2. [snerk] I especially like that Bowers is from the same (metaphoric) family that routinely lectures people like me. You know, about how our dangerous habit of voting 3rd Party is going to bring down the Godzilla of Fascism down to Destroy America And Then I’ll Be Sorry.

    So if he loves revolution so much, shouldn’t he be encouraging me to summon Godzilla so he can get his warm fuzzies pretending that he’s battling to save the city ? (Even though he’ll just be taking pomo notes on his Bluetooth while everyone else does the risky heavy lifting ?)

    Color me perplexed.

  3. i knew where those mydd boys were right after y1kos last year, when after matt stoller discussed an incredibly impassioned plea for net neutrality on a panel, he went ahead and took ad revenue for a blogad on mydd from the very people who were campaigning against it.

    when i asked him about it in several email exchanges, he eventually got down to the nitty gritty: it’s all about the money.

  4. As Bower’s connection to reality becomes more and more tenuous his writing gets funnier and funnier. I couldn’t makeup something this unintentionally hilarious if I tried.

  5. It’s so bad it’s good! Well – entertaining, anyway!

  6. At least he’s read Foucault.


    The Renaissance attitude towards the artist’s individuality conflated an epic perception which derived from the already archaic form of the medieval hero with the Greek themes of the initiatory cycle, and at their boundary appeared the ambiguous and overdetermined structures of enigma and discovery, of the intoxicating force of illusion, of a return to nature that is basically other, and of an access to new lands revealed as the same. The artist was able to emerge from the age-old anonymity of epic singers only by usurping the power and meaning of the same epic values. The heroic dimension passed from the hero to the one whose task it had been to represent him at a time when Western culture itself became a world of representations. A work no longer achieved its sole meaning as a monument, a memory engraved in stone which was capable of surviving the ravages of time; it now belonged to the legend it had once commemorated; it became in itself an “exploit” because it conferred eternal truth upon men and upon their ephemeral actions and also because it referred to the marvellous realm of the artist’s life as its “natural” birthplace. The painter was the first subjective inflection of the hero. His self-portrait was no longer merely a marginal sign of the artist’s furtive participation in the scene being represented, as a figure hidden at the comer of the canvas; it became, at the very center of the work, the totality of the painting where the beginning joins the ending in the absolute heroic transformation of the creator of heroes.

    *tap tap tap*


  7. lovely lovely lovely post

    you dream gal you

    but whats with the raves about the mcat and uzz fuzz

    hey what’s my writing …..chopped liver

  8. talk about a walter mitty imagination…

    “I want working for a candidate to give me a taste of the revolutionary feeling for which I long..”

    that’s worthy of a five year old buck a rooo
    riding the strip mall’s plastic quarter horse

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