I think my new thing is writing short blogs. It’s never been my style, ever, because most of the shit I ever wanted to write about dealt with labor politics — that required a history lesson to explain how we got here — or sports, which I could just drone on about all day. I’m not past writing about either of those topics in the present day, I just don’t want to.
You know, the reason I never made an honest effort at becoming a writer full-time, which was my goal/dream coming out of high school, is due to the constraints. If I was stationed in an obscure city in the middle of America and had to write about the Clinton Lumberkings, or some reasonable facsimile thereof — I’m pretty sure that specific single-A franchise is now defunct but you know what I’m saying — then that’s what I would be. I would write four or five paragraphs at an eighth grade level and I’d have to include quotes that don’t matter and I wouldn’t be able to say what I want.
I have been very blessed to be surrounded by nice people over the years. These people have taken an interest in me. They might have gotten to know me well enough to know that I am I writer, that I like to write. And they ask what’s stopping me from pursuing a career in writing, even after all these years. I appreciate them so much for caring, and thinking well enough of me and my craft to even suggest such a thing.
But my answer has always been the same. It doesn’t make any sense. The reason I got a job that isn’t very fulfilling, personally or intellectually, in the first place, is because money is the tradeoff. It feels like selling out even though it isn’t. I don’t have to sacrifice my morals to work in a casino. I more or less get to be myself all the time. And I can always come home and write when I feel like it.
These are the bargains almost all of us are forced to make with ourselves; we have our passions, and we do what is necessary to give us the freedom to be able to do those things in our spare time. This is the deal American Capitalism offers to the ninety-nine percenters who have to work for a living: starve for what you love, or kill yourself to make money for somebody else.
In The Permanent Revolution, Trotskyism’s founder, James P. Cannon, lectured on the prospects of Socialism in the United States, that:
Under socialism, all will share in the benefits of abundance, not merely a few at the top. All people will have time and be secure for an ever higher development. All will be artists. All will be workers and students, builders and creators. All will be free and equal. Human solidarity will encircle the globe and conquer it.
We cannot be citizens of the socialist future, except by anticipation. But it is precisely this anticipation, this vision of the future, that fits us for our role as soldiers of the revolution, soldiers of the liberation war of humanity. And that, I think is the highest privilege today. The cause for which we fight has social evolution on its side and is therefore invincible. It will conquer and bring all mankind a new day.
There is something romantic about that idea. And because it is so romantic it’s probably never going to happen. In European countries whenever the government tries to reduce any benefit — reducing paid vacation, raising the retirement age by like one year, whatever — millions of people go to the streets and get what they want. In the United States that rarely happens, and when it does the government doesn’t do anything about it. Here, we bicker amongst ourselves about things that most other advanced countries moved on from decades ago. We are in a bubble.
And I exist in this bubble, knowing the rules of the game, with intentions to win. I can’t rely on my romantic hopes and dreams for a future that doesn’t exist.