Capitalist workaholic cultures in the non-profit industrial complex

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My alleged career in public health, social services, and education in various North American cities has spanned almost a decade and a half. If you take into account work that I did in India prior to and alongside that career in the States and Canada, then that’s a good two decades of labor in these sectors that I can claim as a badge of honor and failure in equal proportion. Essentially this was work in various organizations that exist within what INCITE! brilliantly classified as the non-profit industrial complex.

From anecdotal evidence it feels safe to say that a lot, likely the majority, of social justice activist-type people tend to find paid work in social services, health, education, or some combination thereof. Many, like me, thus end up building low-wage careers in the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC from here on out), which for me includes both public and private organizations and those pain-in-the-butt, dual ones. And like me, many also build these careers kicking and screaming because really what other choice is there for so many of us in a capitalist economy?

For the most part we do this to the detriment of our health and personal lives…all in the name of finding a job that at least partially enriches our souls.

I am of the opinion that the major reason for this hit on our well-being is the shitty, pro-capitalist, Jesus-complex-bearing, workaholic culture that exists within vast parts of the NPIC.

This is not nurturing for our society and communities.

Now make no mistake, I’m not dissing the work done by many of the organizations within the NPIC. There is genuinely good work happening with quite a few of these non-profits, whether in subversive manners or not.

But why oh why can’t this good work be done without adopting oppressive work cultures?

It is so very rare to find a non-profit that adheres to the simple truth that having a nurturing, caring, anti-capitalist, and anti-perfectionist work culture – based on building egalitarian communities – will in reality benefit the cause in the long run.

I will say this though. I do believe that this self-aggrandizing, oppressive, workaholic mentality is a manifestation of settler-colonial patriarchy. Not only are we better of without it, we must actively fight it for the sake of our children, families, and communities.

Because it’s the people we love who suffer the most when we’re forced to spend the overwhelming majority of our waking hours selling our labor for sustenance.

I have said it before and will say it again:

Fuck capitalism.

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9 scary reasons Donald Trump can become president in November

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Ok, I’m going to come right out and stake my claim on this prediction – it’s one with a very small chance of actually coming true (but I think that “small chance” is getting bigger by the day):

Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States.

Please note that it is Friday, May 27, 2016 – over five months away from us actually finding out whether or not this prediction comes true.

I’m not saying that this is a good thing, if it comes true that is. Not by any stretch of imagination. I’m just saying that it’s going to happen. And I’ve been feeling like this for quite a few months now. (Bless the intrepid soul of my long-suffering soulmate and life partner who has to hear my incessant geopolitical monologues.)

And here are 9 really scary and true reasons why this is going to happen:

1. The alternative is a neocolonial, predatory capitalist, Wall Street puppet: Hillary Clinton is exactly that. She charges $250,000 for speeches sallivating over Wall Street, the transcripts of which she’s likely embarrassed and/or scared to release. She’s the scion of one of the richest dynasties in America. She oozes elitist, 1%, white privilege. She has been mongering after that power for decades now, and had to wait for her husband to get his scummy hands all over the presidency first – because even among the elitist, privileged white one percenters of the world, patriarchy still holds bloody true. As does the fact that…

2. The US is ripe for a new age fascist movement: The demographics make for quite the possibility of a neo-fascist, American nationalist movement, even multiple regional ones. The fact that the US is quite rapidly un-whitening is making a lot of white people angry (it’s actually expanded upon as one of my points below – I am nothing if not repetitive). Not to mention rising tensions in some of the larger urban sprawls with what is, in effect, a police state. Authoritarianism, power, profiteering, militarism and demagoguery are celebrated with fear and nationalism. A large section of the Republicans and right-wing independents are cashing in, and probably going to regret it in the years to come (but that’s another story). Even so, they are helped by the candidate they have to face in the general elections, I mean…

3. Hillary is just pathetic. And so is Bill: Hillary and her god-awful husband are just so uninspiring and soulless, history will never forgive them (did folks catch his condescending engagement with the Black Lives Matter activists?) They seem to operate the Democratic Party like it’s their own personal fiefdom – I mean, what the fuck are these super delegates all about for crying out loud, and why are they all going for the Clintons when it seems like the actual voters are pretty evenly split between Bernie and Hillary? The Clintons are one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest reason for Trump getting into the White House. Because Bernie would have wiped the floor with Trump in a general election – but Hillary and Bubba just had to have it their way or the high way. And speaking of pathetic…

4. So is the Democratic Party as a whole: Seriously, America deserves Trump if the majority of the people aren’t capable of moving beyond fascism and fascism light in terms of political parties to choose from (especially if we go old-school for this point with our definition of fascism – as the complete merger of private mega corporations and the state). The Democratic Party defines spinelessness. And worse, they are probably less democratic than even the Republicans (hell, even Hitler was elected democratically, remember). It is quite possible that had the Democrats been forced into accepting the people’s verdict – which like it or not is what the crazy right-wingers over on the Republican side did – Bernie would be the nominee and, I repeat, would have wiped the floor with the Teflon Don come November. But it’s not just the political system…

5. US pop culture is addictive, mind-controlling, garbage: There is no way that a candidate like Donald Trump could come anywhere close to this kind of power unless it was in a country where vapid pop culture ruled the senses. From American Idol to American Sniper to American Pie and everything in between – US pop culture is the Great Population Mind Control Experiment of the 20th and 21st centuries, even threatening to take over the hyper democracy of the internet with viral videos and target tweets. Critical thinking, argumentative discussion, constant questioning, democratic thought, and free speech all take a back seat to pure, unadulterated sensory excitement. Half the country is voting for an orange haired, virulent buffoon who also happens to be a misogynistic, capitalist thug – and they celebrate that shit! How the hell can it happen without American pop culture?

And speaking of pop culture, it’s really when you peruse the comments of news sites online do you realize that…

6. Angry white people are still the majority of the country (and they are getting angrier by the day): I love it when people say white people are going to be a minority in the US in 2050 or something. I mean, even if people of color end up as more than 50% of the population, white folk are still the largest demographic, i.e. still in the majority (unless you think Blacks, Latinos, East Asians, South Asians and Native Americans are all one demographic – and if you do then you might want to read, like, a book or at the very least a Wikipedia article or something.) Those white folk who don’t like seeing the un-whitening of America are angry and getting angrier still, despite having it better than well over 90% of the world’s population. Can you imagine how they will feel when shit starts actually unraveling economically, environmentally, and politically? (I can hear the collective shudder of millions of bleeding heart liberals as we speak.)

And just in case you were wondering if I was only picking on right-wingers, fear not, for I do believe a major reason for the upsurge of right-wing populism under the likes of Trump is also because…

7. Progressives are yet to, en masse, support movements like Black Lives Matter: Yeah, until white progressives and male progressives learn to abandon the Democratic party and the liberal elite (not to mention white privilege and patriarchy), and cede total control and leadership of the progressive movement to women of color and trans people of color, including radical, groundbreaking movements like Black Lives Matter, we’re going to be dealing with human refuse like the Trumps and Clintons of the world for a while to come. And…

8. Frankly, if it doesn’t happen now, it’s going to happen some time soon: Seriously folks, America has been heading in this direction for a while. I think a bunch of people were a little taken aback by all the hope that a highly gifted, dignified, and honorable black president gave us, especially when history had just been made and the speeches were just so very mesmerizing. But then more black people got incarcerated in the years to come. More undocumented immigrants got deported under cruel circumstances. And many of us realized that, no matter how talented and egalitarian a person might be occupying that office, it’s still the office of a brutal imperialist power.

But the real cherry on top of this prediction cake is that…

9. The betting houses just lowered the odds on a Trump presidency: Always a useful bellwether to pay attention to.

The bookies, man, the bookies.

So come November, don’t say I didn’t warn you lovelies.

(Methinks I’ll keep my Canadian passport nice and not-expired…just in case.)

If we have to sell our labor, let’s find ways to make it more tolerable

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I hate the fact that I have to sell my labor in alienating, stressful ways in order to help sustain myself and my loved ones. I’ve been doing it for well over a decade, and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment, seeing as we all exist in a colonial, capitalist world mired in patriarchy.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a good job working as a trauma therapist in a community health centre, and am certainly very grateful that it pays for life in general.

But that still doesn’t deny the fact that there are at least a hundred other things I would rather be doing. Topmost on that list is hanging out with my pregnant partner, our cats, and our burgeoning community. It is so very painful to say goodbye to her every weekday morning before we both head to our respective workplaces. It hurts deep in my gut to spend so much time away from her and our loved ones, human and non-human.

But we all need sustenance.

For me sustenance is healthy food, clothing, and shelter, as well as the security that it will be there for the perceivable future. In an ideal world, we’d all be living in intentional communities comprising of friends and loved ones, sustaining and caring for each other, wherein the labor involved in feeding, clothing and sheltering ourselves would’t have to be so onerous and might even be fun because it’s done alongside people we love, minus alienation and insularity.

I hope we never stop fighting for this ideal world. Because capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy should never be taken as a given. They are socioeconomic systems that suck the life force out of human beings. Love and joy are afterthoughts, while stress and suffering are seen as normal. And that’s simply unacceptable.

But we can’t just fight, can we? We actually have to sustain ourselves while fighting this good fight (quite possibly for a victory only to be tasted many generations from now). Intimate partners work for the sustenance of each other. Parents work for the sustenance of their children. Community members work for the sustenance of their loved ones.

And this sustenance almost always involves selling our labor in one way or the other, often with dollops of tension and strain. So how the hell do we make it more tolerable?

Some thoughts on the matter follow. For starters…

Let love be the primary driver for going to work (not career advancement): In my line of work, burnout is common. Because banks tend to be quite unsympathetic when the mortgage payments aren’t made on time, and landlords don’t hesitate to kick someone out when the rent isn’t there on the first of the month, it means that there are times when I have to keep working even when burnt out. During those moments, it is only love that keeps me going. I literally visualize what my salary helps pay for – the sustenance of loved ones – and it helps no end. My partner, our little one, and our community of humans and non-humans. I see them, and the pain goes away.

When I’m running on nothing but fumes, love fuels me in a way nothing else does. Neither money, status, or acclaim can come anywhere close as a motivating factor when the stress levels rise and burnout is imminent, if not well and truly complete. Love does indeed move mountains, and it also gets me the hell up on god-awfully painful Monday mornings.

But then there’s the stress of the job itself. For that, among other things, I suggest we strive to…

Build community and friendship on the job (even if it’s via the whole misery-loving-company thing): This is tougher than it sounds, but it’s so very important. I’ve written about this before, and I do believe it’s one of those things that really sticks it to the man, so to speak, because it goes against the very essence of alienated labor in a capitalist society. We’re supposed to erect barriers around us, become productive professionalized automatons, and not share friendship or solidarity with the people we share a good portion of our waking lives with.

That’s bullshit.

Making friends, even one or two, and building a caring community, no matter how small, is really important if you don’t want to feel like absolute crap going to work. You can have each other’s back and share in each other’s pain. You might even have a person or two whom you actually look forward to seeing when you get to work, which makes it slightly easier to endure the pain of leaving your loved ones in order to sell your labor. The friendship and solidarity has to supersede the work however, in order for it to be truly nurturing. You can’t compete with each other or try to outdo one another or have trust issues and still be friends.

But friendships are hard to come by in capitalist, colonial societies. They can take time, and can often be frustrating (even if ultimately rewarding) endeavors. So, during the day-to-day, when you have no one to rely on but yourself, don’t forget to…

Find ways to “zone out” and de-stress while on the job (maybe even find ways to relax): Do not be a workaholic. Do what you need to do, but don’t go overboard. There’s a really messed up pedestal that workaholism is placed on in our society, and that pedestal is emblazoned with the words “Maximum Productivity To The Point Of Ulcers And Break Down”. Don’t fall for that crap. It’s more important to play the long game. If you have family and community whose sustenance you are committed to, then it’s equally important to remember that this sustenance needs to take place over the long term. And that means you have to find ways to de-stress, zone out, and yes, even relax, while on the job so you live to fight another day. If this is impossible in your job, then seek one where there are greater opportunities for this. It’s worth the effort to prioritize low stress levels in any job search, even if it comes at the cost of some money.

Ways to make the job more tolerable is one thing. But the stresses tend to follow you home. No matter how many platitudes we might hear of “leaving your work stress at work” it hardly happens that way. Stress is stress. It’s not an on-off button. If it were, life would be the easiest thing.

But there are ways to handle the stress that we take home with us. Love plays an important role here too. So remember, next time you get back home from work (and in an adequately relaxed state of mind)…

Talk about the stresses of the job with your loved ones (rather than bottling them up to the point of frustration): Verbose as I am, my motor mouth tends to vacillate between silly buffoonery and deep political anger (picture an obnoxious clown wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt). I often make the mistake of bottling up my day-to-day stresses. Sometimes the more overwhelming it gets, the more I bottle up, until I have some kind of break down. It happens subconsciously. I feel it’s some deep-rooted sexist crap around, ironically enough, not wanting to seem weak or vulnerable. Indeed, It’s safe to say that the vast majority of my mental health issues and negative behaviors is due to my internalized patriarchy. (Dudes are so messed up.)

But without fail, each and every time I have a heart-to-heart with Sus about the stresses I’m feeling, I am better off for it. She helps me get a better grip, do away with the stresses that aren’t worth stressing about, and get a healthier perspective on life. I still instinctively bottle up my stresses (like I said, dudes are messed up), but it’s now at a point where I just feel stupid when I catch myself doing that because there’s such an easy, healthy way to de-stress.

This then helps us…

Ensure that unhealthy ways of relaxing are only done with loved ones (and in moderation of course): Booze and greasy food are topmost on my list of unhealthy relaxation methods. Binge-watching television shows on my laptop hovers up there too (though I do believe there can be a healthy side to it, especially if it helps one get the necessary mental break to rest and heal from trauma, anxiety, and depression – if that’s you, then binge-watch away my friend).

I always find methods of relaxation that don’t exactly scream “clean living” are best done with loved ones. They are far more relaxing, and they don’t end up being a crutch to hold on to when the stress is overwhelming. As someone who fought off serious alcohol abuse following the loss of my younger brother over a decade ago, I know what such a crutch looks like and it’s a constant struggle, with varying degrees of success, to prevent myself from going back there. Ensuring that the dopey buzz of beer and the salty fat of takeout is only during fun social occasions with loved ones makes that struggle way easier. Even binge-watching television has a far more salubrious effect when actively done with a loved one (it’s one of the excuses I make anyway for Sus and I indulging in so much of it).

There is another side to the relaxation coin however, which shouldn’t be neglected. It’s not just unhealthy ways of relaxation that need to be engaged with. So while you have that occasional evening of drunken, gut-busting revelry, don’t forget to…

Make a long list of the healthiest ways you can relax and de-stress (and actually follow it): For me this includes regular exercise (even if just 5-10 minutes a day), long walks where I can daydream (and imagine myself as a brooding superhero in an alternate universe), writing and blogging (not to mention the occasional shitty podcast), music (listening, learning, and criticizing), television (especially stuff that makes Sus and I laugh or think, but mostly laugh), a little martial arts here and there (nothing macho, just fun stuff), hanging out with friends and loved ones (even the occasionally irritating ones), invoking the divine feminine whenever down (the whole liberated spirituality thing), erring on the side of joy and laughter (I mean, why the hell not?), cooking loads of really good, delicious food (taste in no way needs to compete with health – humanity would probably have died off a long time ago if so), receiving wise counsel from our cats (their fail-safe solution for de-stressing me is to have their bellies rubbed and their daily quota of cuddles met), and finally, lots of sugary, milky, black tea (the tea is just an excuse to get a sugar high – just ask any South Asian surreptitiously adding that extra spoonful.)

Remember to always privilege love and joy, my friends. The job is just a means to that end and nothing more.

Now go have some adequately debauched fun with a person you love.

 

There is a sickness running through our society

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We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

There is a sickness running through our society – and we need to heal from it with love even if we have to go through some pain in order to do so. The sooner we begin, the better. Some of us have already begun, or at least we think we have. The problem is that our society, for the most part, doesn’t realize that it has this deeply malevolent sickness. And that’s because it’s currently being held at bay. The symptoms are being managed, so to speak.

This sickness is currently being held at bay via a heady and mind-numbing mixture of patriarchy, nationalism, and colonial entitlement.

But the true insidiousness of this sickness is that it’s being held at bay by the very entities causing it in the first place. They cannot afford to let the sickness erupt and thus manage its symptoms. By doing that they ensure we as a society never realize we’re suffering from this sickness and prevent us from finding ways of healing from it.

The symptom-management drugs are prescribed and handed out for free by the powers-that-be.

(I swear, I didn’t really intend for that to rhyme, because if I did I should be slapped in the face).

Seriously though. Just check out any commercial brand name, 24-hour “news” program, or vapid entertainment show that essentially keeps stating over and over, in a myriad different ways and with only so much audacity:

“Our Western society is the pinnacle of mankind and we are the greatest people on earth!”

It’s good prescription crack, no? Just hearing that must make any member of Western society positively giddy with all that artificial dopamine (especially those who can really claim nationalistic and, dare I say it, racial membership in that society).

The idea that we in the West – the US, Canada, Western Europe, Israel, Australia, what have you – are more civilized, more peace loving, and more free, than the rest of the world is such a powerful, heady drug that it could provide an artificial escape from the most insidious trauma and cruelty.

And make no mistake, my siblings wherever you may find yourself free and loved on the gender spectrum – there are vast, deep-rooted, and vicious forms of trauma and cruelty across the length and breadth of our glorious West, our Great Global North, our politely civilized society. No less than any other part of the world. Of course, there will be enough to show that we have it way better than others (you know, after stealing all their shit, but who needs those mundane details, right?) And if you’re talking wealth and entitlement, we’re certainly number one in that regard.

But get this – despite growing up in a so-called Third World country and immigrating to a so-called First World country, I see no less trauma and pain in the US or Canada than I saw growing up in India.

It’s just better hidden and more efficiently sterilized in the West, is all.

Yeah, we need to throw that shitty prescription crack away, and smoke up some regular ol’ natural, honest-to-goodness, anti-oppressive, freedom fighting, weed grown straight out of our beautiful, soul-nourishing, life-force-giving mother earth.

Of course, the weed I’m talking about is the metaphorical kind – wink, wink, nudge, nudge and all…

So, friends, comrades, loved ones, lend me your metaphorical lungs, for it might just be time to light up.

It might just help us see the sickness in our society.

And it might just get us going on the healing process.

Make note of these 6 types of condescending co-workers and reject their snot by laughing at them behind their backs

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going to clown college

As this Anti Oppressive Healing series has evolved over the last few weeks, it has been an absolute blessing to be noshed on by the ever-benevolent writing bug. From a goal of two posts a month when this series first started in March 2015, and the hope of getting to three posts a month in about six months of posting; I am now very fortuitous to be averaging a post a week for the last five weeks and I hope to keep up with this new pace of writing and publishing. It’s been such a lovely learning experience and it helps me remain committed to improving by doing. After many years of having a bloated, taking-my-writing-way-too-seriously ego getting thankfully deflated, I feel grateful to be in this liberated head space. It helps me clear away the haze and do my level best to keep producing work that tries to remove the “wannabe” in my self-imposed identity of a “wannabe healer, writer, and mama elephant.”

Long may this writing bug sink its emboldening fangs into my hitherto oafish brain so it may shake those verbiage-plodding neurons free from their privileged priapean perturbation.

(May it also always make me re-read jargony crap constructed utilizing nothing but an online thesaurus and a prayer.)

Now, I do believe the reason I am in this liberated head space is partly because of blogging.

Blogging, with it’s potential for free expression, limitless creative possibilities, and liberated thought- not to mention unfettered consumption and distribution – is tailor made for a wannabe healer-writer (healter? heriter? hwriter with a silent h?) trying to get some much needed improvement for his craft, as well as write and publish as much as he can without worrying about getting paid for it.

I feel compelled to mention that I am of the inviolable belief that all artistes need to get paid for their work, and I will always fight for everyone to get a fair wage for their creative/artistic work, but I’m privileged to have a life where I can exercise the option of writing and publishing for free consumption/distribution, without worrying about making a living from it because it’s what I need right now to get better. So I just plan on attempting a steady assembly line of posts for anyone out there who’s interested, and for as long as I can. As of now they will all come under the umbrella series, and focus, of Anti Oppressive Healing, but I’m sure that will evolve too.

Ok then. Enough navel-gazing and product-peddling. If you’ve stuck it out thus far with this post, please know that I appreciate you bearing with me as I gazed unabashedly into my unflattering and very-much-not-follicly-challenged belly button while sheepishly pointing you in the vague direction of other posts I have on this blog (sidebar to your left, b t dubs).

On that rather pleasant note…

This post continues in the Healing from Work vein of articles within the series. Only this time it’s trying to reject the hurtful actions of condescending co-workers utilizing that defiant cynical side of ours.

Now, obviously it’s based on condescending co-workers I have interacted with in previous workplaces or continue to interact with in my current workplace. But for obvious reasons I will not give away names or markers of any sort, suffice to say these generic types of condescending co-workers will be recognized by many of you.

And how best to deal with such cosmic ass-warts?

I believe the best way is to mentally reject them. I don’t mean cease interaction, for that might not be a luxury all of us have. What I do mean is that we reject the condescension of these co-workers in our hearts and minds, and commit to not being defeated by it. I’ve already written about investing as little of our souls as we can when selling our labor to capitalism for our sustenance, so I won’t repeat those points.

With this post, all we’re doing is coming up with a list of identifiers that mark out condescending co-workers who need to be rejected in our heads so we can then heal by laughing about them behind their backs.

Before we do that though, our generic colleagues are going to need generic names (and this article needs, you know, a thing). You need these names and many, many more you should strive to come up with on your own. They are your tools of resiliency to deal with those officious office  mates of yours. So let’s discuss a couple of options to get the juices flowing.

Perhaps Sanctimonious Sam? Could that be one of them?

Or if that’s a bit too meh, maybe Sydney Self-Righteousness? It certainly has a certain oomph to that surname.

But if that’s too many syllables for you, you really can’t go wrong with the delicate flow of Peyton Pomposity though now can you?

(See, I gotta be honest, all I did right now was a google search for synonyms of the word ‘sanctimonious’ and vaguely gender-neutral christian names on the net and strung a few of those bad boys with the same starting letters together. I’m going to follow that as an m.o. for this article fyi. I’m also going to take the opportunity, in this particular parenthetical segue, to finally admit that I am a pathetic con job of a writer. Hell, the only reason I even come out of this hack artiste closet is so I can then seek lazy refuge in meta humor as opposed to actually trying to be a better writer. Whatever. It’s therapeutic. Plus, when hipsters do it, no one complains, and most of those assholes have trust funds, so bite me.)

Ok, that was cleansing – and probably disturbing. I’m not sure. Lets just quickly move on to the six common types of condescending co-workers before I go postal with a BB gun in a Kensington Market coffee shop.

For instance…

  • You know that Goody-two-shoes Gabriel, the sniveling little suck-up, who never fails to note down all the times you went on vacation or took time off? Ol’ Gugga will never fail to bring it up in the snarkiest way possible when you return to work, which is the real kicker. (“Oh, hi there! Haven’t seen you in a looong time. Wish I could take time off like that too. Forgot you even worked here for a while. Lucky for you your supervisor’s office is all the way on the other side of the building, am I right? By the way, how did it go last week, you know, with the birth of your first child and all?”)
  • Ahem, simultaneously we don’t want to forget how Bobby Bootlicker – that giant pile of priggish pus who never fails to highlight their work, occasionally repeating a project or two from a couple of different angles, almost always at all-staff meetings and only when the bosses are present. Usually this is done by raising a hand during Q&A, and providing a surreptitious, albeit astoundingly detailed, reconstruction of all the work Bobo did as a lead up to asking a question. They will then conveniently forego asking a question but they will crack a dainty little joke about being a hopeless workaholic. (You can then feel the earth’s axial tilt shift ever so faintly as every eyeball in the room rolls upward in remarkable, albeit exasperated, unison. The goddesses in the sky look down in sympathy as a collective sigh of indignation then descends upon the meeting when Bobo flashes that impossible smile – impossible because it’s being performed by lips vacuum-sealed on the ass of a program director.)
  • But heavens forbid we forget that slimeball, Pharisaical Fadnavis. The duplicitous drool of that duplicitous drooler can be smelt a mile away. P-Fad will always be a picture of politeness with you. Always “on” 24/7, this source of angst will display a propriety that would make Martha Stewart’s heart glow like black granite in the prairie sunshine. P-Fad bustles with a bumblebee earnestness and buzzes, martyr-like, about how helpful they are to everyone around them, though the jury is still out on who exactly “everyone” is. Like Bobo though, rest assured the tone gets positively joanofarcian in those preciously public all-staff meetings with all the bosses present.
  • Ok, enough of that, because now it’s time get really filthy, like bottom of the barrel type stuff, when we recount that slice of smarm, Wheedling Waleed Bin Talal? (More like Wheedling Wally B Buttwipe, am I right?) Now there’s a walking ball of brown-nosing bullshit. Seriously, how can so much of that brown gold be slung with the bosses with nary a stain nor stench? Wally B knows how, let me tell you. Those laboriously shined shoes and immaculately creased trousers will not allow it any other way.
  • Wally B induces the nausea, but can I have a “fuck me, not this asshole again” for Unctuous Ulysses? That Jesus-Loves Me-bracelet-wearing, beatific jive joker – always fresh faced, well hydrated, and with a gleaming smile. Unfortunately for the rest of us this smile emanates from the face of a person who’s ego isn’t healthy enough to attempt moderation when applying that tempting teeth-whitener the previous night. He doesn’t talk about his pompous piety. This literal leap of faith doesn’t need to. It blooms from his being, radiating outward, washing over us like the healing aromas emanating from a landfill. He jades and jehovizes those of us going to hell, making our souls impatient to get there just a little bit sooner so we don’t have to smell his eau de parfum.
  • And finally, can we ever conceive of a list of condescending co-workers without referencing the one we all love to hate the most, your favorite office pest, Vainglorious Venkatanarasimharaju? This is the one who thinks that the office would fall apart without him, yet even a friendly query on what exactly he does in order to keep this office so brilliantly functioning will be met with the kind of exasperation that you do not want to be facing from The V2 Rocket. Nothing more needs to be said about this puddle of piss – primarily because I’m running out of steam thinking about these people and doing google searches for adjectives describing their sorry asses so I can hack out this post.

I think it’s best now for all of us for me to sign off with this very simple mantra…

Remember to never allow the insecurity and inadequacies of your condescending co-workers defeat you.

Your best bet would be to look at your work life via the lens of an over-the-hill but well-adjusted Looney Toons character who doesn’t take their work too seriously and possesses enough cynical zeal to treat some of your more cloying colleagues with the intentionally cartoonish disdain they deserve.

Now, seriously, don’t forget to clock the fuck out before 5pm and go have fun with your loved ones.

And do give a big smile to Paulus Publius Pecksniffian Poopy Pants on your way out.

A bowel in humanity’s digestive tract: Fascists and the characteristics unifying them in fecal harmony (Part 1)

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Introduction:

There is a reason for this article being titled the way it is and the reason, as most reasons tend to be, is personal. A little while back I participated in a Palestine-solidarity event at the University of Toronto. Someone extremely dear to me was one of the main organizers of the event, which was a launch for the Graduate Students Union campaign to divest from three companies benefiting from the continued Israeli occupation, apartheid, and colonization of Palestinians. It was rather violently disrupted by this group calling itself the Jewish Defense League who, with their penchant for dehumanizing themselves, proceeded to use their usual cache of racist, Islamophobic, and misogynistic expletives. Campus police, instead of throwing them out, decided to cancel the event (apparently they were ordered to by the administration, something that happens regularly to Palestine-solidarity events on university campuses). This got the resolute organizers to merely shift the event to another location and keep on trucking.

Interestingly enough, I saw this entire episode as a positive thing. It was ultimately an example of the increasing fear and frustration felt by Zionists as their virulent project slowly comes apart at the seams due to the indomitable Palestinian liberation struggle and those in solidarity with them. When fascists fight you, you know you’re on the right track. During the disruption, I was advised, in the loudest way possible, by various JDL activists to blow myself up, behead someone, ride a camel, fuck a goat, and go back to my “Muslim shithole country in fucking Iran or whatever…”

I hail from a rather benign Hindu family in Southern India, but that’s unimportant. The one thing I am grateful to dehumanizing bigots for is always reminding me that, for better or for worse, those of us facing and/or resisting dehumanization need to stick together…preferably with sufficient quantities of herb to go around (helps deal with the rage).

As they displayed their very focused misanthropy, in my head I went, “Wow…these people really are pieces of shit…” which is an oft-used and admittedly crude paraphrase for people we find odious, but also a useful one on occasion. You see, something happened when those words formed in my head – a crystal clear realization that summed up everything about the virulence of those Jewish fascists and that of their counterparts in other religions, nationalities, and ethnicities:

These people really are the refuse of humanity.

This helped a great deal, because picturing them as walking turds did wonders for my soul, which has been in a permanent state of stress after what we’ve seen this year.

Two momentous geopolitical events occurred in 2014 that much of the world might not be attuned to or care about, but both impacted me quite significantly, in a muscle-seizing, aneurism-inducing, rage-unshackling kind of way.

In July we witnessed the brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza by Israel to the macabre cheering and posturing by right-wing Zionists, who seem to now be an ascendant majority in Israeli society. They’re also forcing moderates within the Jewish community worldwide to choose between justice and Israel…two entities that have stayed away from each other for a long, long time now. Only a couple of months earlier we saw the gleeful acceptance of and applause for the newly minted fascist-in-chief by large sections of the upwardly mobile classes of India, who for the most part are upwardly mobile, upper-caste Hindus, many of whom have turned into Hindu fascists, either ideological or by default due to their love affair with predatory capitalism. Their diasporic members seem to be following the playbook of their Jewish counterparts in riding the coattails of imperialism. (If you are unaware of what I mean by the “fascist-in-chief” in India, it will be explained soon enough…but feel free to let your imagination go wild.)

These two events are of course joined by the ever-present and continued brutality of the American empire buttressed by the All-White, All-American, Flag-Waving, Christian Right and the latest mutation of this multi-headed hydra in the form of the astoundingly cruel and morbidly brutal Islamic State (which seems to want their membership resembling the caricaturized villains of a Chuck Norris movie). While acknowledging vast power differences locally and globally, all these examples ultimately crystallize into one inviolable truism that all of us know only too well: fascist scum are all the same (certainly for the purposes of poking fun at them).

Thus, I have decided to vent my helpless horror and tragically disillusioned anger with some rambling, self-indulgent, bellyaching, and no small amount of cynical sermonizing (aided by some images from the web with captions in italics to keep it interesting). I do this in the form of a Cracked style list article (one likely too lefty for their site) that provides a very cursory glance at fascism across the globe.

(To those who actually give a shit about copyright issues with images lifted from the web for an article on a freely available blog post read by, with luck, a dozen people, I have the following disclaimer:

All pictures are used under the Fair Use Doctrine as well as the doctrine of go fuck yourself.)

I dedicate this 2-part article to fascists – religious, ethnic, national or otherwise – wherever they may be. Know this – No matter how many people you kill, marginalize, brutalize, convince and/or brainwash with your virulence, you are and always will be a bowel in humanity’s digestive tract…one movement away from being flushed down history’s toilet bowl.

The newly elected fascist-in-chief in India and the new Nazis of Israel:

Recently, on May 16th this year, in the world’s largest elections, India elected this man to be their Prime Minister.

“The eye of Sauron was modelled after my left one”

 

His name is Narendra Modi. Now, traditionally the leaders of India have generally portrayed a rather beatific, kinda pacifist (i.e. boring as fuck) image to the world…quite possibly due to the ever-present Gandhian hangover. For instance, check out the virile pomp and chutzpah projected below by the faces of Messrs Manmohan Singh and A.B. Vajpayee, the two previous Prime Ministers of India. In the picture, Mr. Singh is presenting a bouquet of delicately arranged red roses to Mr. Vajpayee on the latter’s 82nd birthday…which is a sentence I bet the overwhelming majority of you didn’t imagine reading in this article.

“I hate your guts, but my wife will kill me if I don’t do this”

 

Regardless of where you might stand on their politics, I’m sure we can agree that they’re not likely to appeal to much of the lay public that has been culturally hegemonized to admire hyper-masculine world leaders. Them former premieres of India don’t exactly evoke much aggressive fear or manly awe which, for some inexplicable reason, is a trait many people would like to see in their leaders. I’m not one of those people, primarily because I’d prefer that elected officials not scare the crap out of their citizenry, and also because uber-masculine men at the helm of affairs hasn’t exactly worked wonders for humanity.

Putin didn’t know this but the photographer was actually shooting for a very tastefully produced gay porno.

 

Now, India has never had anyone with even the slightest claims to badassery, at the helm of affairs. Corrupt? Yes. Starkly lacking in charisma and most scientifically proven signs of life? Most definitely. But never badass or openly malevolent towards a large swathe of the Indian population. It’s different now. Despite a vaguely Santa Clausian countenance and a curiously stoner-like smile (see picture of Mr. Modi above for further reference), make no mistake…the current Indian Prime Minister is a very evil, dangerous man. Like, genocidey (genocidesque?) evil and dangerous. You see, over a dozen years ago in 2002 when he was just a mere Chief Minister of this north Indian state called Gujarat (in India, the Prime Minister has powers akin to the President of the US, while the Chief Minister is like a Governor), Mr. Modi orchestrated a Hindu fascist pogrom of Muslim and Christian minorities in Gujarat that left thousands dead or maimed, and many more brutally suppressed.

He is now one of the most powerful men in the world, heading the 4th largest, nuclear-armed military.

One of the most revealing responses to Modi being elected came from Mr. Netanyahu, the head of very, very fascist Israel and bum-chum of American Empire. Speaking in dangerously ethnocentric terms and happy at the apparent landslide victory of the Hindu nationalists (which, in a gargantuan parliamentary democracy like India, requires around 35% of the popular vote) Netanyahu along with other leaders of Israel, including even more virulent right-wingers like Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennet, tumbled over each other to court their new transnational, ethno-fascist, best bud.

This is independent of, but remarkably consistent with, the rapidly rising culture of right-wing, anti-Arab, fascist hate brewing in Israel…to the point where they’re alienating and scaring even hardcore, pro-Israeli folk who might be just a little less overtly fascist, such as liberal Zionists (which is kinda like saying “moderate Nazis” or “feminist Boko Haram members” but whatever…).

Among the multitude of examples of this latest culture of hatred embedding itself in Israeli society include mobs of right-wing Israelis laughing and chanting that there wasn’t a need for schools in Gaza anymore since there weren’t any children there (you know, because out of the 2000+ Palestinians massacred in Gaza recently, over 500 were children…and that’s a good thing to them), or Netanyahu (ably supported by the entire US political elite, including Democratic Party stalwarts like Hillary Clinton) lamenting about the “telegenically dead” children in Gaza being shown in the world media, that was just such a pesky distraction from celebrating Israel’s existence. Netanyahu and his party btw can be considered moderate compared to the fast-rising Yisrael Beiteinu or The Jewish Home party, both of whom advocate even more vociferously for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and whose respective leaders currently hold ministerial positions just below that of the Prime Minister. Avigdor Liebrman is the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Naftali Bennet holds the twin positions of Minister of Economy and Minister of Religious Services (go figure). Bennet was quoted last year saying: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life and there’s no problem with that.

Subtlety or refinement is not exactly a forte for most fascists. You remember the JDL I spoke of earlier? Below is some of their artwork in Palestine (where they, alongside other Zionist groups, routinely harass, intimidate, even kill Palestinian men, women and children…usually during breaks from building settlements and pushing Israel ever further towards naked fascism and military brutality against Palestinians).

“We must never forget what the Nazis did to us!”

 

*Sigh* We live in difficult times…which is something everyone across time has probably said about the times they lived in. But one thing that is rather unique about the times we live in is the amazing access that people, middle-class people at least, have to voluminous amounts of information, all readily available with nary a click of yet another link online. This presents itself as useful and useless at the same time. As a form of political masochism and insanity-inducement (not to mention time-wasting), during breaks in my day-job I tend to peruse articles about fascism, religious fundamentalism, and right-wing nationalism. I also peruse articles and papers about a variety of other topics too, but fascism is of particular interest to me because apparently it’s fascinating to bang your head against a wall wondering how so many people can so passionately and so fervently believe in so much shit. It’s kind of a hobby of mine, in a let-me-count-the-ways-animals-are-better-than-humans kind of way. From right-wing Christian fundamentalist or ethno-fascist movements in the West, to Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and South Asia, to the afore mentioned Hindu fascism in India, and Jewish fascism in Israel and America, even Buddhist fascism in places like Sri Lanka (no kidding).

So I thought I’d write about the commonalities in this 2-part article. For instance, almost all fascist movements…

  • Tend to either be religious or nationalist or a combination of both: We’ve all heard about some fascist movement or the other, and by fascist I mean the way the term is generally used in this day and age; i.e. an oppressive, tyrannical movement/government of a far-right-wing ideological persuasion, usually based on religious fundamentalism, ethnocentric nationalism, racism, or some combination thereof (as opposed to the way the term was conceived of originally to mean the complete merger of the state and hegemonic private corporations which we now tend to think of as corporatism or Texas). At the very least we might remember the Nazi regime, white supremacy in the United States, and the apartheid regime in South Africa. Most of us know that pretty much every religious practice and form of nationalism has its fascist underbelly, some might even say fascist core. This isn’t surprising when you think about it. Getting people riled up over an exclusive identity tends to be faster than getting people to support a program that provides grounded, incremental, positive change. Shouting “India is for Hindus!” or “America is a Christian country!” or “All non-Muslims are infidels!” or “Jewish people are the chosen ones!” or some such counter-humanist catchphrase from a community’s socio-cultural rooftops can become far more impassioned rallying cries than, say, your local social democrat stating, with rigorous reason and admirable equanimity, something like: “You know, one of the root causes for hatred and violence is social marginalization and poverty so we really should be advocating for secure jobs with proper labour rights and a strong system of social assistance as a safety net in addition to social programs that ensure everyone’s basic human rights are protected.”

 

“Care to sign a petition? It’s for poor, brown kids in some poor, brown part of the world. The petition magically makes you believe that you care about them.”

 

Most would tune out by the time the words “root cause” were uttered and get back to their beer pong and pay-per-view porn (because I apparently hold discussions on these issues in local frat houses). Thus it becomes substantially easier to rally people based on an exclusive identity. And religious, nationalist, and ethnic identities tend to be the ones most easily combustible in terms of fostering divisions and rallying people with fiery rhetoric, ultimately resulting in the dehumanization of others who are considered a threat to that identity. But how does said dehumanization happen? Humans aren’t born to hate each other. We’re born to depend on each other for survival, sustenance, and care, very occasionally leading to a wholesome, loving, and completely liberating orgy. We learn to dehumanize one another from our socialization. And one of the ways in which fascists are able to inculcate the dehumanization of another community into a society’s DNA is to…

  • Play up their own community’s victimhood: It is possible that, upon starting this article, among the many analytical critiques and rational thoughts that swirled around in your head when you first read the term “Hindu fascism” was: 

“Eh?”

(Unless you’re South Asian of course.)

I don’t blame you, generic person I made up in order to contrive a kooky way to start this point. Yes, a Hindu fascist movement. The same body of philosophy and faith that gave the world a certain someone by the name of Gandhi and produced those beatific-looking, orange-robed “Hare Krishna” chanters in San Francisco communes, has a homegrown fascist movement (one of the largest in the world) that is now heading the fucking Government of India. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise, not because Indians are any more or less prone to becoming right-wing nut jobs than the rest of humanity, but because Indians are just as gullible. The way fascists gain power, quite possibly the single biggest reason is playing up the victimhood of their own community, which is almost always a community that generally tends to have the odds in their favor, with exceptions of course, over other more historically oppressed communities.

“I’m a middle-class, straight white man…it’s time to stop those damn illegals and welfare queens from getting all the benefits”

 

That last bit is crucial because they prey on the fears of traditionally more privileged communities (such as Jews in Israel, upper-caste Hindus in India, white Christians in the US, Shia Muslims in Iran, Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, upper-class Han Chinese in China etc…maybe Mormons in Utah and Red Sox fans in Boston too, who the fuck knows). And they do this in order to sell themselves as the saviors of that community. Thus the Hindu fascists in India sell themselves as the saviors of Hindus from being victimized by, first and foremost, Muslims (because, well, who doesn’t hate the Muslims these days), followed by Christians, Communists, Socialists, Feminists, and progressive Hindus who don’t buy into their bullshit. This is not unlike other fascist movements – from the NPD in Germany and Golden Dawn in Greece to the afore mentioned Israel Beiteinu and Jewish Home in Israel or the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and various Tea Party stars across our land, and countless others across the globe. Because when you successfully play up your own false victimhood, you can then move on to the next step which is to…

  • Have an “other” as an enemy: Quick…imagine someone selling themselves as the savior of, well, you.

 “We have cake at our church. It’s our prophet’s personal recipe.”

 

Maybe you’re really, really lonely, or maybe you’re just having one of those days when you feel like you need a good savin’, so you actually decide to consider this person’s offer. In that case, first off, please accept a remote hug from me, and secondly my hope is that at some point in time you would feel the need to ask said savior what or who exactly you need to be saved from.

That is where the “other” comes in. Fascists prey on the baser instincts of humanity, and one of the ways to do that is to have some clearly demarcated community as the enemy…whether it’s African immigrants in current day Greece and Russia, or Jews in Nazi Germany, Shia Muslims in the territories controlled by Islamic State, or Palestinians in Israel, far-right wing extremists have always needed a well-defined “other” to fear, hate, and eventually kill. Of course, this is accompanied by a wilful whitewashing of all the horrible things that are done in mongering that fear and hatred. For instance, one of the favorite lines of the fascist acolytes of the aforementioned Modi is for the rest of us to “move on” from the brutality of Gujarat 2002, in the interests of India’s economic development (you know, why bring up pesky little market-downers like human rights and restorative justice). Yet, we are told not to forget the Muslim Mughal empire that destroyed Hindu temples and oppressed many Hindu communities in the subcontinent, 500 years ago, which is the basis for Muslim-hatred among the Hindu fascists.

In fact, I wonder why they don’t just go a step further and blame the Africans for everything since Africa was the cradle of humanity tens of thousands of years ago…or better yet, blame the protozoa from whence we were forged millions of years ago.

 “Single-celled organisms are a drain on the system, kick ’em out for ‘murica!”

 

Please note: I don’t for a second believe that past historical oppressions should ever be forgotten. Let me repeat that because whenever someone starts a sentence with “Please note” it bears reiteration to wriggle oneself out of a potential ideologically defensive corner those two words can put one in. So here goes: I don’t for a second believe that past historical oppressions should ever be forgotten. But there is a difference between genuine claims for restorative justice (such as reparations for slavery, or getting back land stolen by a military occupation or historical colonialism) and an already privileged community claiming victimhood from a highly oppressed community (Muslims in India are discriminated in every way possible and rank among the lowest in Human Development Indices among the various demographic groups in India, primarily due to rampant discrimination and bigotry)…and oppressing an already oppressed community tends to be the case with pretty much every other fascist movement across the globe. They do this because they can then…

  • Use fear, anger and hatred (often in that order) to evoke support: In general people get riled up faster with negative emotions and feelings than positive ones. Like other tricks in the fascist playbook, it works only for a relatively short period of time, but for that time it can work quite devastatingly. Take the afore mentioned fascists in Israel as an example. Pretty much all the political parties that are in the ascendancy there are using the kind of rhetoric that evokes fear, anger and hatred (in fact, occasionally skipping the fear part…because what the fuck do you need to be scared about when you are an imperialism-supported, technologically advanced, nuclear armed military and your “enemy” consists of a ragtag bunch of freedom fighters with rusty Kalashnikovs and rocket-launchers). 

One of the main reasons they’re doing this, apart from ideological motivations, is that it actually works. To be openly anti-Zionist in Israel, for instance, is utter social, economic, and political suicide. However, being bloodthirsty is apparently quite alright, even if you’re an MP. In fact  it might just be quite a positive check mark to have on your CV. Witness the cold shark eyes beset in the Este Lauder face of Ayelet Shaked.

Stare at her eyes for more than 5 seconds and your brain slowly but surely starts liquefying.

 

Ms. Shaked had no problem posting this quote on her facebook page: “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

She also happens to be one of Israel’s rising political stars (of none other than the Jewish Home Party, you know, led by the dude who’s just fine and dandy with slaughtering Arabs). Contrary to what people might think, this is actually quite normal in a state and society where fascism has taken over. The reason it might seem abnormal to most Western eyes and ears is likely because of grand narratives of Israel’s spurious claims to democracy and human rights. Akin to many other political movements, fascists are interested in gaining power. Negative feelings like fear, anger, and hatred are often very successful motivators for people to support fascist or right-wing political movements.

We have experienced this all too well, in a different kind of way, in this part of the world during the presidential elections in 2008, when we all realized that America was actually ready for a black man to be president, (a man blessed, anointed, and made ready by the capitalist elite to “lead” America, no doubt, but a chunk of the public still kinda, sorta had to be ok with it). Nevertheless, there was a whole host of far right-wing nut jobs who went absolutely ballistic. Many Republicans used fear, anger, and outright racist hate when the possibility of Obama becoming President emerged as a very real possibility and more than just the wishful glint in a guilty white liberal’s eye.

I feel compelled to clarify that by no means am I suggesting that the Republican party is homogenously fascist. Not by any stretch. Indeed, I think it is lazy politics and useless polemic to do what many progressives do, which is to label all right-wingers as fascists. I think the Republican party has many racists in it (by admission of their own members no less), as does the Democratic party, but the Republican party itself is not wholly fascist, at least not quite yet. Fascism, the way I deploy the term here, is a specific, far-right ideological persuasion based on a hyper-aggressive religious, ethnocentric or nationalist fundamentalism. It is an extreme version of right-wing politics. There are many people holding conservative positions that are based on –and I have to really psych myself up to say this while preventing the gag reflex – rational thought and reason. I might not agree with them, but an intelligent, judicious conversation can be had, and we can agree to disagree, following which we can partake in intellectual activities that really matter such as figuring out the best beer chaser after a shot of Jack or discerning the best fried food to satisfy the munchies. I have had conversations in grad school (often drunk and high) with neoclassical economists for instance that were quite productive and in no way exhibiting dehumanizing hatred.

Because I think dehumanizing hatred needs something else. It’s got to do with dicks. More precisely it’s about the hell brought about by a sub-section of humanity possessing them. And we’ll explore that delightful topic and others in Part 2 of this article. Stay tuned and all…

On this Pride Month 2014…

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…as a queer, South Asian, immigrant man of color residing in Toronto, I hope that there will come a time when the armed mercenaries of the state (aka the police and military), and the predatory capitalists they serve are booted out of celebrations of LGBTQ+ pride and liberation…