Rome wasn’t burned in a day: replacing liberal timidity with leftist passion

September 24th, 2011

Published on Intrepid Report, by Phil Rockstroh, Sept. 23, 2011.

Why is it that self-termed progressives are in full retreat (and have been for decades) from the witless army of angry clowns and hack illusionists of the U.S. right wing? … //

… The inspired, enduring (very threatening to some) art, music and political action of the era were not the result of liberal accommodation and compromise. Antithetically, the cause of peace and justice (briefly) made some headway despite liberals not because of them. 

As a famous literary drunk once quipped, “Rome wasn’t burned in a day.” Change will not come with a victim-centered view of the world . . . including viewing the nation’s toxically innocent, economic conscripts as mere victims of circumstance. Yes, young people make stupid choices—but treating them as victims does not serve them or the nation well.

“Liberal compassion” should not be extended to countenancing acts of mass murderer. Time and time again, liberals play into rightist propaganda, by allowing the discussion of U.S. militarism to be framed as exclusively pertaining to the sacrifices of individual soldiers, whose fates, in the larger context of events, have been appropriated a device of imperial plunder. By truckling to this narrative, liberals play into the propaganda of those who prosper by the homicidal designs of the present day U.S. military state.

Instead, let us endeavor to disabuse the culture of the delusion that there exists noble sacrifice in the act of killing and dying for the agendas of empire. When an individual U.S. soldier begins to stagger in the direction of his own humanity (renouncing his complicity in the death-sustained system, as many did during the Vietnam era) then we should open our arms and embrace him with a fierce compassion.

On a personal basis, my family had little money. And I made many self-destructive choices, but I also had tenacious mentors who challenged me . . . called me on my destructive nonsense . . . pointing out the bulwark of denial and hubris that sustained its shabby, ad hoc structure. Making a home in being lost, I took up residence in the enduring structure of poetry, literature and music . . . Whitman, Kerouac, Rilke, Dylan, the Allman Brothers, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer, and others too numerous to name taught me to question, as the expression went, “everything.”

This is not rocket science; this is far more important; this is the essential subject matter that informs the propulsion and guidance systems of the human heart. Withal, instruct the young how to build and inhabit the structure of a cogent argument and to navigate a soul-suffused landscape of poignant verse, lyric, and insight.

To do so, one must not shy away from confrontation. During the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War era, before the left was manipulated into fearing the libido borne of sacred vehemence, stupid opinions were not coddled; they were challenged.

Feelings were hurt. Egos were bruised. But an illegal war was shortened and a number of (long overdue) rights were granted … (full long text).

(Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted here. Visit Phil’s website EBULLIENT SKEPTICISM, and see his page on FaceBook).

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