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The secret life of Michael Smith

By Michael J. Smith on Sunday March 29, 2009 12:45 PM

mjsoef wrote, in a recent comment:

Senor MJS,

Our social world is emphatically more complicated than good/bad.... Police state bad - but then what?

Perhaps I'm doing mjosef an injustice, but his line of argument here reminds me of an ex-mother-in-law of mine, whose unvarying response to my disparagements of the existing order was, "So what would you do if you were President?"

Naturally, since I'm a big daydreamer, I've thought a lot about this, and I have a shelf full of plans against the day when I am unexpectedly catapulted into the Oval Office. But it seems unlikely that anybody would be interested in hearing about those plans until that happy day arrives. Shelves are cheap, and everybody's got one.

A lot of left discourse amounts to comparing plans for what we'd do when we're president, or (for us old Bolshies) when we and our band of hardened cadre have ridden up the Capitol steps in a tank and proclaimed the Soviet Republic Of North America. My private shorthand for this process is "drafting the constitution of Utopia."

It's not an entirely silly exercise. Thinking through what-if's is part of the critique of what is, and imagining alternatives undermines actuality's claim to inevitability.

But we can't take it too seriously -- and we too often do. It's as if there lurked in a back of our minds an image of the public ready to trade in the old social vehicle and buy a new one, if we could only assemble it and advertise it appealingly.

That's not how these things happen. Positive thinking is overrated, and in the social context constructive criticism is worse than useless. What we need is more negative thinking and some thoroughly destructive criticism. The public won't be ready for a new vehicle until they've gotten so angry at the old one that they set it on fire and push it off a cliff.

So my modest mission is not to design alternatives to (e.g.) the police state, or even to persuade people who like the police state that they shouldn't. My mission is to persuade people who (like me) loathe the police state that they shouldn't waste their time on "progressive" politics, which starts with good intentions and a pure heart and ends up in the pigsty of the Democratic Party.

My theory is they don't need me to tell 'em what to do next. They'll figure it out.

Of course, if there's an empty seat in the Politburo, I'll be happy to fill it. And I do have a few ideas....

Comments (12)

Agreed. The first wave of things-to-do is so simple and obvious, it's painful. The system is a mile wide and very supple, but only an inch deep. A true fracture would produce a volcano of new programs that would require little debate.

The media and the DP are the main obstacles.

La lucha continua!


Hey, your ex-MIL must have been one fun person. Sorry to have evoked that - not sure why...
I was not asking for your fourteen-point plans to clean up the ballfield. In fact, I am sick of them, especially at the end of progressive crapola, especially in the van den Nation, where they've been giving fully ignored positive planning uplift for the past 200 years without a single extra cookie being reserved for them at the Capitol cafeteria.
I was, though, heaping mounds of scorn on your good-bad frantic dualism. You like Chavez, you don't like Uribe - well, what if I don't like Chavez, in some regards, but like him in others, and know that our little oppositions matter only when it comes to actions and influence and decisions, which at the present epochal moment of catastrophic economic and environmental collapse, are made far, far away from who I am, who I couild ever be.
If it helps, I've gotten that kind of comment too, but it can be laughed off. We as short-lived cranial apparatuses have a right to any criticism we want to substantiate, and this website has been brilliant in selecting choice cuts, day after day.


virginia mayo looks much better then that
betty hutton maybe but not virginia mayo

Peter Ward:

I mean, there is merit in both I think. And if for no other reason Utopian dreaming can be a source of insights about hitherto undiscovered defects in the present arrangement. I've found this to be the case re: Michael Albert's work. Besides, we have to keep somewhat fit somehow while waiting for the planets to come into alignment or what ever to enable a revolution and daydreaming is better than so other possibilities. Incidentally, in the case of education I think John Dewey is spot on and his constructive suggests were profitably put into practice, at least according to Deweyite-educated Noam Chomsky.

Anyway, no one really knows what's going to work and not. You chose a doctrine (whether you call it that or not), hopefully not too dogmatically, and act on faith. We're basically practicing alchemy.


Dualism, mjosef? Is it really dualism to say what you're against and what you're for? You can always be against something and recognize that it's not all bad (capitalism gave us the automatic dishwasher). Also you can be for something and recognize that it's not all good -- I'm sure there must be something wrong with Hugo Chavez.

It comes down to "which side are you on?"

You don't always have to take sides -- you don't have to choose between Crips and Bloods, or Republicans and Democrats. There are conflicts that mean something, and conflicts that mean nothing. But when the conflict does mean something, then -- I think -- you gotta choose.

Hooray for Chavez and Palestine, and down with the police state!

Oh, I've been so itching for this one. I've been thinking long and hard about it while sucking down Pacificos and listening to the evening's combo jamming at my favorite beach bar and jazz joint, on this, my last night in Puerto Vallarta after a month. You got those two CounterPunch articles I emailed you, right? They are deliciously subversive, aren't they?

But, aaa-aaanyway, if I were El Presidente. Here goes... (ahem)

1. Track down, detain and publicly execute every Executive and Cabinet official of the past five administrations (including the current one). Yeah, I know; I'm an old hippie, and I've had a previously solid position in opposition to executions, but given the behavior of the Executives and Cabinet officials of the past five administrations, I've come to the conclusion that the only way we're going to have any real change for the better is to get rid of these motherfuckers once and for all, and the only way to be sure of that is to just flat-out remove them from the goddamn' planet. I mean, let's face it; there's some bastards'n'bitches out there who just need killing.

2. Track down, detain and publicly execute every member of the party leadership and Congress/Senate member who's served in the past forty years, for reasons I've named in item no.1. "But, what about Dennis Kucinich? What about Bernie Sanders?" you whine. Huh, name us one favor either of those guys has done us lately. Hell, apparently Kucinich even believes in "chemtrails". Goddamn' granola crunchin' loser. Up against the wall with his ass.

3. Track down, detain and publicly execute every member of the US Armed Forces responsible for every instance of abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib Prison, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, for the reasons mentioned in item no.1. I mean, shit, man; they executed war criminals after Nuremberg, right? Let's get 'em, already.

4. Track down, detain and publicly execute every police officer responsible for the beating of Rodney King, the murder of Amadou Diallo and every other innocent citizen whose name I might have forgotten, and the beating, gassing, tasering and other abuse of citizens exercising their rights to assembly at the Seattle/WTO, A16, the major party conventions of 2000, '04, '08, and pretty much any other public protest in the past decade whose name/venue may have slipped my mind -- along with all those medical marijuana patients -- for the reasons I mentioned in item no.1.

5. Track down, detain and publicly execute the executives of every US corporation -- for the reasons I mentioned in item no.1 -- who helped administer programs or develop products designed to conduct surveillance or otherwise brutalize and tyrannize citizens of the US. Lockheed-Martin, Grumman, Boeing, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo, Google, the RIAA, the MPAA, that bastard who invented the Taser? Here's looking at you, motherfuckers. Oh, and make Steve Ballmer do his famous galumphing Monkey Boy Dance that he did at the '01 Microsoft Developers' Conference before he's stood up and shot (I still love watching that old bootleg video).

4. Immediately release with full amnesty and repatriate with reparations every prisoner of Guantanamo Bay and every other foreign/CIA secret prison on Earth, and, and if any Pentagon brass give me any of the back-sass they gave Obama, detain and publicly execute them, for the reasons I mentioned in item no.1. Then, repopulate those prisons with every stockbroker, mortgage banker and hedge fund manager, along with every mayor and city council member and parking warden and TSA screener and every other goddamn' little tinhorn Caesar who's spent the past eight years making citizens' lives hell on a deep-down personal level with their own special brand of chickenshit petty tyranny. Throw away the key. Fuck 'em.

5. Immediately release with full amnesty and reparations every citizen arrested for non-violent drug crimes since the passage of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Stamp Law.

6. Legalize recreational drugs. That's right, even heroin. It seemed to work for the British; Keith Richard is still alive, isn't he? I rest my case. I'll bet Jerry Garcia would still be alive today if he hadn't been forced to get his dope on the black market.

7. Immediately institute a single-payer non-profit healthcare system. If any corporate healthcare/HMO executives give me a hard way to go, detain and publicly execute them for the reasons I mentioned in item no.1.

8. Strip the assets from every financial corporation, stock brokerage, and bank, and the private assets from every executive of every financial corporation, stock brokerage, and bank, and use the proceeds to start a fund to bail out foreclosed house owners, and laid-off/outsourced workers.

9. Withdraw every soldier, sailor, marine, and airman from every US military base on Earth. Close down the bases. Demilitarize this goddamn' country, already. Shut down the Pentagon and divert the military budget to the house owner/worker bailout program discussed in item no.8. In this case, I'll go on the assumption that any Pentagon brass who back-sassed me on item no.4 have already been detained and publicly executed for the reasons I mentioned in item no.1.

10. Have the ambassador to the UN issue a public apology to the entire planet for US behavior for the past century, and enter into talks to determine the level of reparations. Surrender veto power in the UN Security Council.

11. Abolish the CIA, FBI, TSA, DHS, NSA, DEA, and FCC.

12. Nuke Tel Aviv on live television. Yeah, I know, old hippie, etc., plus the fact that I've tried really hard to distinguish the Israeli people from the Israeli government. However, given the results of the last Israeli "election", I'm figuring: what the hell, why shouldn't they get greased as well? Screw 'em. Arrange for the safe temporary relocation of the Palestinan population, then crater Israel's ass flat.

13. Dismantle all nuclear weapons stockpiles. Now that we've dealt with Israel, we won't need them anymore.

So, that looks good for a start, especially if I want to try and accomplish this shit in my first hundred days...because on the hundred and first day, I'm going to be pretty pooped after all that righteous ass-kicking, and will want to settle back with a cold keg, a couple of fat ones, and some bootleg Dead and old early '60s surf-punk instrumentals on the stereo.


flooogle baby

too good for em

besides what if there's a next world
st peters gonna get tickerd "all these fucking night crawlers at once ...what the fuck's goin on down there .."

i want to put em on a tv show
i'll host

comrade paine's neighbor hood

'won't you be my neighbor'

for to be frightening dah keeeeds

" hello dick how's your electric harness today
.. not too tight ?? the brain wires okay ???

oh now don't groan and flutter your eyeballs

watch i can press this button on my charm box
keeeds and watch mr cheney oh sorry former vice president cheney
dance the boo ga looo
with secretary albright

at the neighborhood reconstruction site
we like to dance don't we madame secretary

szzzzz zzzzing

no no slack not billy jeff
or the were rummy
will eat your other arm today

kids see democrats and republicans
play together dancer together eat together


Scratch a hippie, you find a fascist. At least that's what MJS's multi-point plan reveals.

I actually enjoy this site a lot, but cannot shake the feeling that you folks are just tools for corporate power. Deconstruct the Democratic Party --- or follow through on the tantalizing Lefty's Pledge --- and what do you get? Right-wing populism run amok, or fascism (I promise you, should the revolution come, this land won't become the People's Republic of anything...it will be more like the Fatherland), or good old-fashioned corporate authoritarianism.

Like it or not, lefties, the imperfect, lumpy, too-often-feckless Democratic Party is the only hope for the working man and woman in the USA. It needs continually to be pressured and cajoled to do the right thing, and it usually only half does it. But the alternative would be much, much worse. And that's not a scare tactic --- it's a realistic appraisal of politics in the USA. Give me FDR, LBJ (the butter, not the guns) and BHO anyday over what you folks have in mind.


"Like it or not, lefties, the imperfect, lumpy, too-often-feckless Democratic Party is the only hope for the working man and woman in the USA. It needs continually to be pressured and cajoled to do the right thing, and it usually only half does it. But the alternative would be much, much worse."

for who ???

fatherland for white job smurfs it already is
and the dembobos reinforce this time after time

" straighten up and eat your free spinach"

not exactly the royal road
to wage class action

no wonder atomic answers prevail
one by one palefaces
in suburban log den
after suburban log den
think of reaching for the scatter gun

sounds like a kool kick

has its nurse ratchet

amerikan reich ??

enter the merit ghouls
twisted to perfection
the highest agency
of the jack ass party orthrian core


"Scratch a hippie, you find a fascist "
no a biker or a yuppie
yin yang petty pattern morphs

and back around comes too

scratch a biker and you find a freak

yin yang plebitutde

ah distinctions distinctions distinctions
they can
wreck a nice big lie


scratch a liberal
and you get goo on your fingers


why do people think this place can ever be one country? such diverse and dispersed centers of power. SFO, LA, HOU, MIA, CHI, and NYC, the rest, and MEX for that matter, would be unified under one authoritarian flag? how, because of walmart and osama? "shut up, you, i don't live in dallas, i live in america." yeah.

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