A Fool's Hope

How to be hopeful people in this age of deliberate ignorance, empty optimism, lazy cynicism, and manufactured despair. A more useful definition of hope than these false ones we're offered.

A Fool's Hope

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This will be one about hope, though maybe not "hope" as it is usually meant.

Real hope isn't a passive mushy thing, you know; no, hope is a crucial step in the natural progressive process of repair. You can't fix a problem until you have the conviction it should be fixed, and the expectant determination to see it done—and if that doesn't describe hope, I don't know what does. This makes hope a defiant and combative act against those who would sabotage any act of repair, which is exactly what fascism, like all forms of supremacism, always does.

For this reason, hope is what is needed right now.

And hope builds upon the first step in the natural progressive process of repair, which is awareness, so I intend to open with a bit of awareness for all of us by witnessing to clear and ugly truths that are easily observable all around us.

Things look bad, friends. Worse than usual I mean. The last week felt much like the other two events that most advanced American fascism—those being the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Trump election. There's a pervasive and inescapable feeling of dread and despair around, because there is supposed to be; dread and despair being spiritual states that fascists, those American supremacist bullies—who'd like everyone to be either owned by them or dead in the ground—most want us to occupy.

Here's what happened: The fascist majority in the body that for some reason is still allowed to call itself our Supreme Court took the Constitution and American democracy out in the back of the building and shot it in the head. This is exactly what the fascist presidents who appointed them always intended for them to do, exactly the act for which these fascist thugs in robes have been lavishly rewarded ahead of the fact by fascist christian billionaires who intend to control our bodies and lives through punishment and fear.

I should explain christians. There is a rumor that these are people who worship Jesus Christ and follow his example. These types of Christian people do exist, and we're invited to view them as the real christians, but for all practical political purposes in this country, those are not the real christians. No, when it comes to the way power is organized and arrogated in the United States, a real christian is a person who believes that they will very soon be ushered into an eternal gated community paradise because God has specially chosen them for that reward, while everyone else suffers conscious torture forever because they deserve it, and that this will all happen just as soon as the world burns to a crisp, so they're trying to make the world burn to a crisp just as fast as they can, and this is why I'm not capitalizing "christian" in this piece even though religions usually get that honorific, because fuck them.

The supremacist court—I don't think we should call them Supreme—shot the Constitution in the head in the name of defending the Constitution, because fascists, like all supremacists and other types of narcissists, only ever act from the fathomless pit of bad faith they dig for everyone around them to inhabit forever; it's the mass grave they intend to push us all into. Anyway, our bribed fascists in robes made a full course meal of the execution in the last week or so.

What did they do? Well for an aperitif, they made bribing public officials legal, which is handy for them, since "lavish rewards to public officials for acts of corruption" is a pretty good working definition for the crime of bribery, and I think you all understand almost as well as Clarence Thomas does that our judges are eager for American fascism to sprint ahead, but still, if that's going to happen, daddy ought to get a little taste. And you could I suppose point out that its not so bad as I'm putting it, because the supremacist court only made it legal to give public officials gifts after the fact. You could point this out, that is, if you are a fan of complacency, or if you have the native experience of a baby bird new born into the world within the last few hours.

For the appetizer, the Supremacists got something for the whole table, and officially made it a criminal offense to become poor while in possession of a living human body. If you are a fan of complacency, you could say it's not so bad as I'm putting it, because they merely made it legal for local governments to criminalize the act of sleeping outside, but the reality is that if you are unhoused, you are outside, and if you are outside with a human body, then you are going to have to sleep eventually, so the moment you become unhoused in fascist America, your human body becomes a crime that can be punished in I suppose whatever fashion best suits—but in any case, our for-profit prisons certainly have a new greenfield that I'm sure we all hope they can turn into double-digit growth, especially since the same private equity that manages our prisons at profit is making sure that housing becomes less and less affordable, and all the different entities that rely upon prison slave labor for their own operational models will have a fresh free labor pool from which to draw, so the American tradition of cruelty toward those who are being pushed by fascist greed into poverty will continue and I'm sure that christians and capital will be well pleased.

Speaking of things that capital is well pleased by, don't let me forget the main course: the Supreme Court went ahead and seized for the judiciary the right to determine not only the constitutionality of the law, but the right to ignore facts while doing so, or to make up their own facts, and ignore experts who understand how our complex world works and how laws can be applied to achieve their stated ends, which frees judges from "the cult of science," as a semi-prominent American fascist recently put it. This allows any law to mean any thing any judge wants it to mean without having to worry about things like reality, provided that judge is also a fascist, because all non-fascist interpretations will eventually find their way to the supremacist court, which believes that laws should protect corporations from human beings, not the other way around. And if you are a fan of complacent framing, you'll probably say that the ruling only took the interpretation of the law out of the hands of unelected bureaucrats and put it back into the hands of the people—an interpretation that makes perfect sense and only requires that you ignore the fact that the supremacist court was also not elected and was mostly appointed by men who never received the most votes from the people.

And for dessert—an amuse-bouche, really, just a cup of sorbet—the supremacist court went out and coronated any Republican President of the United States as our dictatorial king, announcing that presidents have total immunity for any act that they take as part of the official business of their office. And if you're a fan of complacency, then maybe you'll want to point out that actually they simply said that the president would be immune from official acts, and then left it to the lower courts to decide which acts were official, but if you are being rugged with reality, you will witness to the clear truth: Any judge ruling that a crime committed by a Republican president is prosecutable will eventually find the case appealed back to the supremacist court, who have already ruled that trying to overthrow the U.S. government is not a crime worth pursuing when Republicans do it. The American fascist party leader—who has spent his political career fantasizing about wielding the powers of a dictator—will be allowed to commit any crime he wants, however he wants, whenever he wants, and if he's blocked, he will be able to execute whoever is blocking him, and if anyone refuses any such order, he'll be able to order that person executed as well, and he can use whoever he wants to commit any crime he wants in order to get all that done, and he will be able to use the largest military in the history of the world, for example, to do so.

And so I think I can see the fascist vision of the future for my country. These apocalypse-minded religious creeps and their wealthy backers intend to convert everyone who isn't a mostly white mostly male mostly christian wealthy person into one of the three states they find acceptable for people who aren't them—a servant or a slave or a corpse—and they have our military—including the domestic military we call the police—and our high court in their corner. They've made it so that wealthy people can do whatever the hell they want to other people. They've made it so after wealthy people have done whatever the hell they want to people, those people will have to pay the price for what has been done to them. It's a corruption of ... well, of everything. An abrogation of humanity.

You could call them Nazis, but honestly Republicans and christians may earn a worse name than that before they're done, because we are dancing on the edge of climate catastrophe, and they want to burn the world so they can get their eternal paradise.

I almost forgot the digestif: the supremacist court made bump stocks legal again. These are tools that make massacres as efficient as possible, and they're used primarily by civilian supremacists to murder people they think need murdering, and for the christian billionaires who want to make corpses of a lot of us, having an army of murder-ready civilians with bump-stock-enhanced massacre weapons will be, I'm sure, very useful.

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It must be said, civilian supremacists who believe a lot of their fellow humans need murdering are out and strutting this week. There was an online ethno-nationalist named C. Jay Engel who crowed that next they were going to "repeal the 20th century"—coming after the Civil Rights Act and the New Deal and all that. It's an open declaration that they intend to restore Jim Crow, and robber barons, and other white supremacist structures. It's an open declaration that they intend to suck all the value each person provides society away from them until they are poor, which is now illegal, at which point their victim can choose to either become a prisoner or a corpse.

You could perhaps write this off as the ravings of a random online Nazi, but it's not so easy when you notice how seamlessly the ravings of any random online Nazi match up with the ravings of a top Republican leader such as Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts. The Heritage Foundation, in case you didn't know, is one of the main policy arms for the Republican Party, and the Republican Party, in case you didn't know, is the fascist political party in the United States, very popular with Nazis and christian evangelical denominations and other white supremacist organizations. Anyway, the president of the Heritage Foundation went out to the nearest available fencepost to crow the coming dawn of his new reign of supremacist terror. He said that Project 2025—which is the extraordinarily detailed and intentional Republican plan for total fascist domination of public life next year—"would not be stopped," which is a pretty good indication that they intend to do it whether they win the election or not, and he has reason to be confident that he can say that, because the fascist majority in the supremacist court has indicated that it will not be checked in any way, and there's little reason to think that the Supremacists' brashness last week wasn't their declaration of intent to simply throw out the results of any part of any election that don't suit fascism perfectly.

The president of the Heritage Foundation called all this a "Second American Revolution" which would remain "bloodless if the left allows it to be." It's a clear rationale ahead of the fact to blame an intended mass killing on its victims. It's also an open declaration of a war that Republicans have been waging against the United States for some years now, and a clear warning that the only choices available to the rest of us are to fight fascists or submit to the far greater and indefinite violence of fascist dominion and rule.

Now usually, when there is an open declaration of war against the United States, our journalistic institutions would make it the dominant story from the war's inception to its resolution. However, a far larger story these days is the fact that the current president, who is old, is old, apparently in ways that his fascist challenger, who is roughly the same age, and at least as mentally unfit, is not. And while it's true that the apparent decline of the country's leader is a major story, the fact that the other party's standard bearer is in similar decline does not warrant similar coverage in either volume or tone, and the fact that he is leading a fascist organization in open war against the United States falls below the fold, and he's leading in polls if polls can be trusted, and over time the accumulation of these choices of priority and focus start to seem like a deliberate choice to deliver a specific outcome.

Also usually, when there is an open declaration of war against the United States, the person who has sworn an oath to protect the Constitution—that would be our apparently declining current president—would deploy the military against them. It doesn't seem that this will happen, though; American fascists have spend decades testing the opposition party leadership and have found the tinder damp. Indeed, the supremacist court was so confident that the only opposition they would face would be a limp dissent, they bestowed upon a president they oppose total immunity even for acts like for example assassinating for example judges, knowing that such power would never be tested until it was time to be used by a more suitable party—that is, a Republican. Nor does there seem to be much intention for even less direct confrontations with the party waging war against the U.S. There seems no desire, for example, to expand the courts to overcome the numerical advantage its bribed fascist majority enjoys. Expanding the courts is an act which I'm sure I'll be informed presents some significant obstacles. This is quite true, but the main obstacle appears to be even the desire to do so: The president has indicated that even if he were able to, he wouldn't. And I suppose I must point out that the president does, in fact, now have power that is only constrained by his willingness or unwillingness to use it. It's not a pretty resolution, but it is now an available one.

I must observe that what happens when people with the institutional power to fight evil people don’t fight it, those without institutional power often fall into despair. It turns out that in a war between “evil” and “instinctively capitulating to evil,” evil has a bit of an advantage.

And so there is a lot of despair—this intentionally. Fascists, like all bullies, want us to feel helpless and hopeless. Ignorance is best, because people who are aware are harder to control, so fascists make the cost of awareness as high as possible. Complacency is good; people who lean on an empty optimism, who believe that bad things won't really happen and bad intentions couldn't possibly be that bad, are to fascism like tinder to fire—not totally necessary, perhaps, but a massive time-saver. Cynicism is fine too, because aware people who have stopped believing better things are possible stop trying for them, and people who have stopped trying for better things are, to a fascist, nearly as good as people who don't know that a better thing exists. But for those who are aware of what's wrong and cannot retreat to ignorance or cynicism, fascists most want despair, because despair eventually stops the struggling, and fascism wants to bring an end to human struggle, in the same way that a boa constrictor wants to bring an end to the struggle of say an antelope.

And there's a lot of dread, too—again, intentionally. Fascists, like all bullies, want us to feel dread. Dread makes it less likely that we will oppose them, and fascists, like any bullies, hate being opposed; they love to inflict pain, and hate feeling it themselves. This is why the president of the Heritage Foundation—which is I guess it would be wrong to call a Nazi organization no matter how excited their stated goals and activities cause Nazis to become—tells us that their war against us will be bloodless only if we choose. He wants us to believe that only fools would fight fascists, because fascists promise that fighting them will mean things will turn bloody, confident that we will not see the plain truth hiding behind the threat, that failing to resist them means that it will get even more bloody for everyone—everyone, that is, except for them.

So anyway I was talking about hope—a fool's hope, as fascists like Kevin Roberts or the fascist who lives on your street would have it.

I think it's time for us to start thinking about what hopeful acts look like.

I know some things about hope that people don't usually talk about. The first one I already alluded to: Hope repairs. In fact, hope is repair; an irreducible part of the natural progressive act of repair.

There's another key attribute of hope that doesn't get mentioned much.

Hope fights.

Even when victory seems unlikely—especially then—hope fights.

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The christian fascists claim to worship a Jewish rabbi from antiquity named Jesus. Interesting thing about young Mr. Jesus: He was very sharp-tongued with the politically influential religious hypocrites of his day. There's a whole chapter of him reading them the riot act, calling them whitewashed tombs and broods of vipers and blind guides, and it's a real humdinger that ends with him saying he doesn't really see how any of them are going to escape being condemned to hell, and you should check out the whole thing, but today I just want to think about his opening salvo, which is an amazing tee-shot.

He says you lift up heavy burdens and put them on men's shoulders, but you yourself are not willing to lift one finger to move them, and gott damn if that isn't a perfect encapsulation of American conservatism, that is to say American supremacy, that is to say Republicanism, that is to say white christianity, that is to say modern fascism.

It's an ideology dedicated to unnaturally gathering to themselves all the value human beings generatively create when they exist in society, in order to steal it. They then take all of the natural costs of sustaining society, and all the unnatural unsustainable costs created by their grotesque perversions—not least of which is the blame for the robbery and the damage caused thereby—and tie it up into a massive bundle to put on the backs of the very people they have robbed. As a single proof point out of millions, this is now a country where making somebody homeless is not a crime, but being homeless is. An impossibly cruel and unnatural state of affairs.

So we are a land where things are made very hard for many, and very easy for some. I think this makes a nice fact set for an operational principle with two main rules, and here it is:

1) Hopeful people find people for whom life is made hard and make it easier, by repairing the brokenness that causes the difficulty.

2) Hopeful people find people for whom life is made easy and make it harder, by fighting the unnatural perversions that enable that ease.

Everyone knows somebody who supremacy burdens. And everyone knows somebody who uses supremacy to unburden themselves for profit and identity by burdening others.

Finding people for whom supremacy makes life hard isn't a challenge. Things are getting harder all the time, and for an increasing number of people. If there's something that you can do that will make it easier, do it—and do it not with the supremacist trick of deciding for yourself what is best needed, but rather by listening to them tell you what they need, and giving it to them.

Finding people who ease themselves through supremacy isn't hard at all. Let's be honest: For most of us, we can just go to the nearest mirror. Go look, and think about how to pay costs you aren't paying now, and then pay. Don't seek discomfort for its own sake, but don't run from it when it inevitably comes, and don't make a priority of avoiding the discomfort that attends paying repair's natural costs—including the cost of blame for our association with supremacy. Once we've done that inner work, we'll find it easier to seek those whose lives are harder and make their situations easier without imposing our own will and preference upon our help; we'll find it easier to to do things both simple and complex to minimize damage and maximize repair; and we'll be well equipped to identify open supremacists—that brood of vipers—and discover ways to make it harder for them harder to perform their acts of violence without paying the sort of cost that naturally attends abusing and harming others, by fighting them at their points of abuse.

Repair how? Fight how? Well ... what do you bring to the table? Where are you located? Who are you? What are your abilities and resources?

I like operational principles because they can be applied generally to a wide range of people with a wide variety of circumstances and skills and abilities. Some have cash. Some have the privileges and access that supremacy affords. Some have strategic proximity to the levers of power. Some are big and tough. Some have reputation in the community. Some are sharp-tongued and quick-witted. Some know the law. Some know business. Some know finance. Some have property. Some have intuition. Use what you've got. Make life easier for those who have it hard, make life harder for those who make it easy for themselves on the backs of others.

I don't think there's a more defiant act than that, or a more hopeful one.

Hope does something very foolish: It sees things as they are and doesn't look away; it pays the cost of awareness. It believes that reality can be better tomorrow than it is today, and then it fights to make it so, and pays the costs of the fight. It removes the burden from the shoulders of those overburdened and puts it back on the shoulders of those fascist hypocrites who hope to profit from our communities without lifting a finger. Hope raises the cost of supremacy and its many sabotages of our natural human systems. Hope repairs in the face of those who distain all maintenance and sustainability. Hope fights those who hope to enact violence without bloodying themselves. And so hope is, in the face of Nazis and christians and Republicans and every sort of supremacist fascist, a defiant act.

Let's go out there and be hopeful people.

Wear a hopeful smile on your face for those who suffer, and a hopeful snarl on your face for those who force others to suffer.

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A.R. Moxon is the author of The Revisionaries, which is available in most of the usual places, and some of the unusual places, and the upcoming essay collection Very Fine People, which you can preorder now. He is also co-writer of Sugar Maple, a musical fiction podcast from Osiris Media which goes in your ears. He gets so overwhelmed by olfactory hues.