Revolutionaries or Surly Gophers?

Fernando Buen Abad

Just as reason assists us, so joy does too. If we are full-time militants, as we should be, then the good sense of good ideas we trust encourages us because we know them and can perfect them via the rhythm of struggle and the rigor of science. Which is also a joy. Pessimism is a purgatory that people in decay want to impose on us.

To be militant, full of enthusiasm and joy, does not mean forgetting the pains and anxieties with which capitalism marks our lives every day. It implies developing a proactive outlook and helping our minds and hearts mature the energy of struggle that magnetizes bonds and engenders trust. Quite the opposite of that bitter posture of some know-alls who, even to people on our side, pontificate like pall bearers about powerful but coarsely shrouded ideas. Such bores abound…! They think exhibiting oneself as an anguished soul or a victim of misfortune convinces people more than offering a frank smile, intelligent humor and fresh ideas offered so as to motivate everyone’s enthusiasm for the work in hand.

We have suffered enough of the histrionic arsenal of people who are despondent. Their form is also their substance. And the problem is not just one of style, the problem is the strategic fraud involved in telling the story of revolutionary hope as if they were at a funeral service.

The issue is one of over-cautious stereotypes dealing in postures of pain and difficulty and omitting the best arguments for emancipation. This problem is the large number of people who have distanced themselves from the revolutionary practice needed to break the hegemony of our oppressors, a distance resulting from badly prepared (or perhaps just deformed) militants in the skirmishes of revolutionary communication, which is in fact the very network of links necessary for class unity.

And it is not that everything should be dealt with lightly or in a clownish way. There are hard subjects and painful situations that do not allow for clowning around or for ethically impoverished humor, yet, even when our work agendas pass through pain, fear, anguish or depression… a militant must study their communication strategy unless they want to look ridiculous, or become irrelevant, condemned to be silenced into oblivion. Communication also means building community and this is a subject that is generally forgotten or underestimated in almost all political formations and in almost every strategy of education for working as militants.

For this, and many other reasons, the subject of communication continues to be one of our weakest areas. Not only because we have not been able to arm ourselves against the attacks of the bourgeoisie but because we have not been able to deploy, either in quality or quantity, the revolutionary communication we need to help each other in the battle to defeat capitalism, which is not only an economic system but also a system of ideas, values, beliefs and culture all impregnated by the perversity of seizing all wealth. Don’t be fooled, the bourgeois ideological objective is that you thank them for exploiting and plundering you, that you applaud them when they humiliate you, and that you acknowledge they have always been right. Then, they want you to take that all to heart, cherish it and pass it on as your children’s most important inheritance.

Part of any serious militant’s job is to understand tactics of good humor and the strategy of political narrative. Studying and training the emphasis, accents, diction and legitimacy of your proposals. A militant must not only be a master of adjectives, but a transmission belt between the consensus-based grassroots movement that will enable us to defeat capitalism and the many comrades who, to varying degrees, constitute essential links in the unity we need for victory. Neglecting this meticulous and transcendental work tends to produce militants with great and good transformative arguments but who in their narratives are tedious, pretentious or insufferable… individuals whose communication deficiencies prevent them from grasping the arrogance of their inability to communicate. And their fellow interlocutors resent this but do not always say so. There is nothing more regrettable than great achievements in theory or in practice being expressed with poor, indifferent vocabularies or narrative. It is annoying.

This is not about rhetorical exquisiteness or about cultural artifice or about verbal virtuosity… nothing of the sort. It is about effectiveness and efficiency, breadth and depth of communication capable of weaving together the compelling revolutionary arguments that can help us destroy the most criminal system humanity has ever endured. At the same time, it is about establishing the superior morality and thinking which every new stage needs in order to open up its way ahead. It is about trustworthy communication (or language) based on facts and on bonds of respect and unfailing solidarity. It is about consolidating the arsenals we need to be able to express ourselves clearly but also with depth and human warmth. Being like the simplest of people, always with a smile and ready affection, and resolutely contributing to look at our struggle objectively, with its challenges and limitations… with its virtues and revolutionary emotions. In other words, seeking the highest level of humanity.

It is not with shouts and ridiculous overstatements, nor with histrionics and theatrical exaggeration, nor with showing off  that the content and spirit of revolutionary struggle is best communicated. Just as reason assists us, so joy does too. If we are full-time militants, as it should be, we are encouraged by the good sense of good ideas we trust because we know them and we perfect them via the rhythm of struggle and the rigor of science. Which is also a joy. Pessimism is the purgatory that people in decay want to impose on us.

To be militant, full of enthusiasm and joy, does not mean forgetting the pains and anxieties with which capitalism marks our lives every day. It implies developing a proactive attitude and helping mature in our minds and hearts that energy of struggle that magnetizes bonds and engenders trust. Quite the opposite of that bitter posture of some know-it-all who, even in among the ranks of people on our side pontificate in a funereal tone about powerful but coarsely shrouded ideas. And there are plenty of such bores…! They think exhibiting oneself as anguished souls or victims of misfortune convinces people more than a frank smile, intelligent humor and ideas offered as fresh sources to motivate everyone’s enthusiasm for the work in hand.

We have suffered enough of the histrionic arsenal of the downcast. Its form is also its content. And the problem is not just the style, the problem is the strategic fraud involved in telling the story of revolutionary hope as if it were a mass for the dead.

The issue is the over-cautious stereotypes dealing in postures of pain and difficulty that exclude the best arguments for emancipation. This problem is down to the number of people who have distanced themselves from revolutionary practice needed to break the hegemony of our oppressors, a distance resulting from some badly prepared (or perhaps just deformed) militants in the skirmishes of revolutionary communication, which is in fact the very network of links necessary for class unity.

And it is not that everything should dealt with lightly or as a display of clowning, there are hard subjects and painful situations that do not allow for clowning around or for ethically impoverished humor yet, even when our work agendas pass through pain, fear, anguish or depression… a militant must study their communications strategy unless they want to look ridiculous, or be beside the point, condemned to be silenced into oblivion. Communication also means building community and this is a subject that is generally forgotten or underestimated in almost all political formations and in almost every strategy of education for working as militants.

For this, and many other reasons, the subject of communication continues to be one of our weakest areas. Not only because we have not been able to arm ourselves against the attacks of the bourgeoisie but because we have not been able to deploy, either in quality or quantity, the revolutionary communication we need to help each other in the battle to defeat capitalism, which is not only an economic system but also a system of ideas, values, beliefs and culture impregnated by the perversity of seizing all wealth. Don’t be fooled, the bourgeois ideological objective is that you thank them for exploiting and plundering you, that you applaud them when they humiliate you, and that you acknowledge they have always been right. Then, they want you to put all that together, cherish it and turn it into your children’s most important inheritance.

Part of any serious militant’s job is to understand tactics of good humor and the strategy of political narrative. Studying and training the emphasis, accents, diction and legitimacy of your proposals. A militant must not only be a master of adjectives, but a transmission belt between the consensus-based grassroots movement that will enable us to defeat capitalism and the many comrades who, to varying degrees, constitute essential links in the unity we need for victory. Neglecting this meticulous and transcendental work tends to produce militants with great and good transformative arguments but who in their narratives are tedious, pretentious or insufferable… individuals whose communication deficiencies prevent them from grasping the arrogance of their inability to communicate. And their fellow interlocutors resent this but do not always say so. There is nothing more regrettable than great achievements in theory or in practice being expressed with poor, indifferent vocabularies or narrative. It is annoying.

This is not about rhetorical exquisiteness or about cultural artifice or about verbal virtuosity… nothing of the sort. It is about effectiveness and efficiency, breadth and depth of communication capable of weaving together the compelling revolutionary arguments that can help us destroy the most criminal system humanity has ever endured. At the same time, it is about establishing the superior morality and thinking which any new stage needs in order to open up its way ahead. It is about trustworthy communication (or language) based on facts and based on bonds of respect and unfailing solidarity. It is about consolidating the arsenals we need to be able to express ourselves clearly but also with depth and human warmth. Being like the simplest of people, always with a smile and ready affection, and resolutely contributing to look at our struggle objectively, with its challenges and limitations… with its virtues and revolutionary emotions. In other words, seeking the highest level of humanity.

It is not with shouts and ridiculous overstatements, nor with histrionics, theatrical exaggeration, nor with showing off  that the content and spirit of revolutionary struggle is best communicated, nor with either refinement or vulgarity. We’ve had enough of all that. The general impoverishment capitalism imposes on us, also imposes the impoverishment of culture, communication and language. We are all victims of its ravages, its vices and its desperate mania. That is why it is fundamental to break with cloistered obsessions and the pseudo-didactic tones of the “enlightened”, perched on the summits of mediocrity, who adamantly preach to those who they think they need to “educate”. They are doing a great disservice to working class struggle and to people on all fronts longing for a better world with better relations among human beings. So a dose of fraternal, but corrective, self-criticism is timely for all of us so we can design a new, fresh, proactive and enthusiastic program of militant communication to facilitate the organization and unity of all our forces, conscious of the immediate need to transform the world. This will put us all in a good mood, beginning with the surly gophers, old and new.

Translation by Tortilla Con Sal