Thursday, February 23, 2006

Potemkin City Limits of Debate

I recently received this album for my birthday:

I know the picture is teeny, but it's Propagandhi's latest album Potemkin City Limits. I like Propagandhi, a lot, but this album is really disappointing. Not musically, it kicks ass musically. The premise of the album is that folks who work within the system are worse than fools, they're part of the problem. The band specifically calls out the Rock against Bush comps in the ditty "Rock for Sustainable Capitalism," and lays the shit into Fat Mike, who put the comps and subsequent tours together. He also started, which was an attempt to get the notoriously apathetic young set aware and registered to vote.

Of course his (and our) sin was that the choice to vote Bush out meant an implicit vote for John Kerry. A Democrat.

Here's the thing. I don't like the fact that John Kerry was my only real choice in the last election. I realize that in lots of ways he's not that different from George Bush. I know this. But y'know what? In lots of ways he's not. And even if the consequences of those differences are small in theory, in real world terms, they mean huge outcome changes.

Is Kerry that different than Bush on the Palestinian question? Probably not. But I bet he wouldn't stacked FEMA with cronies rendering the agency nothing more than a farm league for political career hacks. Ask the folks in New Orleans if that would have changed the outcome of any recent events.

What about corporate control of the media? C'mon. You know Kerry isn't breaking any new ground there. But he would have raised the minimum wage slightly, and that would have directly benefited millions of people. He probably would have pushed for Medicaid and Medicare to be adequately funded, which has HUGE real world consequences for old and poor people. He might have raised taxes on the wealthiest among us (and by among us I mean secluded in their gated communities and fortressed high-rise condos). He might have protected high-paying jobs, and actually enforced labor laws on employers. He probably wouldn't have been the radical progressive that I am.

I don't like the shit, but the point is that sometimes I eat what's in front of me while recognizing it for what it is and working to change the options. For me to sit on my high and mighty activist throne and throw away an option because it's not the best option isn't just strategically a bad idea (though it is)--it's immoral.

The progressive response to our problems can never be to sit it out.

Ever. Even if your choices suck, which they too frequently do.

The alternative would be something like what these folks are up to. They're not content to sit and take it on the chin over and over again while waiting for some other folks to swoop in and save us. They're doing it on their own, without anyone's permission. Even if they're just expanding the cage that we all live in, we have to recognize that this means better outcomes for people with shitty options in the present.

1 comment:

Mr. Moses said...

I agree with a lot of what you have to say about the new album. I post a lot of crap, er, I mean good stuff, about Propagandhi over at Chronicle Disposition. I don't think that you'll like it but if you feel like pissing away some of your life you can check it out. Cheers.