The Assumed Role of Literature in Revolution

The act of reading and writing, as with many actions one can take, is a form of resistance, an active political tool of reassessment. What you read, choose to profess and would deem worth “your time” all influence many parts of you - from how you engage people to what time you end up going to sleep. It’s not necessarily trapped to a particular genre, we see effectively bored white men rehash their opinions of hegemonic violence in their many collections of patriot fiction or third-person accounting of events of foreign invasions described as “righteous war”. We have activists retelling their times of imprisonment for demanding less than the bare minimum from an establishment dedicating to making life a reminder of the violence that’s been become "normal" to lands for hundreds of years. And on the same hand, some of the most infamous names in history hadn’t the ability to do either - they communicated clearly and had trusted folks that did the writing and reading they needed as they focused on their own works. In reading works from people of many backgrounds and walks of life, one can be reminded of their placement among them, as nothing happens in a vacuum; despite what media and plutocratic society tells us via their paid spokespeople and eager parrots.

I am afraid. I do not believe that the idea of this violence is made clear, nor is it of immediate concern, even to some of those holding strong sentiments for community well-being and development. Even the case of book banning within the United States, a now-trivialized situation by mainstream media of authors having their visibility in their intended place of reading, does not focus enough on how this is an extension of the general nature of the United States’ need to maintain a state of both disillusion and lack of self-guided intellect. Additionally, according to mainstream media, there’s no clear interest in longer and more insightful discussions between representatives, not even on a hyper-local level, when news stations were once more willing to report on these things - in part of commercial social networking’s ability to create spaces of aggressive thought collapse. Tying that with the nature of language as a tool of both oppression and maintenance, there’s little reason to expect people to stumble upon concepts that lead them to truth, there isn’t enough capital that can be made from that (whereas masculinity and its tendrils intertwined with capitalism tend to be, by design and shaping by the market’s directors). These things, the inability to acknowledge the role of book banning in maintaining a populace of disillusioned and disinterested people, the lack of open debate and discussion free of the corporate and professional class of “political commentators” (a substitute for the direct voice and direct words of the people) and now the inability for people to directly understand and parse what impact local laws that are both illegible to the public like Florida State Bill 256 in 2023 or more encompassing and equally illegible like Presidential Policy Directive 20 are tools of weapons against the people who reside within the United States. Despite what the media industry has repeated on behalf of the government, national security does not mean the security of life and stability for those outside of the realm of the political industry, but more on the ability of a nation to maintain its ability to continue its behavior with no restraint.

What does one do to combat this (can we truly)? The most immediate answer under capitalistic society is to produce even more material - but this is shortsighted as the material has to be engaged with, discussed and provide actionable output lest it becomes what James Baldwin had described (in references to books) as a meal for “the affluent populations". These people (which is us), "which should have been their [poor working class people] help, didn’t, as far as could be discovered, read, either - they merely bought books and devoured them, but not in order to learn: in order to learn new attitudes”. We are crafting new ways to cope with the new middle class's uncomfortable place in society, providing these people with new language to further entrench themselves as the “new” lords and aristocrats. Obtaining awards to address but never directly challenge, to critique but never truly attack, from the same institutions of violence does nothing but provide a yet another opinion into the void of toothless insurgent actions. These eagerness to run to these behaviors are as strong as the notion that voting makes a difference in a country where the people, places and roles that need elections are inaccessible, invisible and non-controllable by the American public. We have to push harder than dancing around topics and return to rooting ourselves in what “action” means. Wikipedia defines action from the lens of philosophy as “an event that an agent performs for a purpose, that is, guided by the person’s intention”. We work within a world of many performers whose intentions tend to centralize around extraction, coercion and demolition of the meanings of humanity. We collectively accept the concept of inaction, the opposite of what Max Weber would define of social action to be “the subjective meaning [of action] tak[ing into] account the behavior of others”. Inaction can be seen as a choice of indifference, especially when it comes from those who have the most freedoms to engage in such behavior. By choosing not to engage people who’ve spent time doing the work to interrogate, demand and produce action, one can slide into silent and passive acceptance of the hegemonic violence that we currently see rampaging Syria and the south side of Chicago, under the rule of Modhi and Macon, the intertwining nature of violence of Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden as agents of the spectacle and its child, terrorism. We won’t see it as any more than an “issue in a foreign land”, something to comment about on our neocolonialist devices of communication from our places of comfort within the belly of the beast. If we choose to do anything, the very least we should do is choose to listen to the people who our leaders are willing to print money to kill. Read and understand what they're saying and do everything you can to prevent their actions from being in vain.

“For if they find their state intolerable, but are too heavily oppressed to change it, they are simply pawns in the hands of larger powers, which, in such a context, are always unscrupulous, and when, eventually, they do change their situation [sic], we are menaced more than ever, by the vacuum that succeeds all violent upheavals,” by James Baldwin from The Fire Next Time.

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