Black lives matter, and my blog comments really don’t; neither do everyone else’s, to be honest. But I’ll say this on the quarrel in Seattle: If it takes two young women disrupting one event to derail the Sanders campaign, his campaign wasn’t worth anything in the first place. If a (not so much) lefty presidential candidate is so weak to choke on such a harmless action, maybe it’s better for him to check his retirement plan. People who have been blabbering about Autonomia for years, idolizing it, now are now putting two young girls who dared to interrupt a senator from Vermont under scrutiny, for they didn’t play realpolitik enough.
Yes, is pretty odious to watch Hillary Clinton bragging, uninterrupted, about her street cred, taking selfies with Kim&Kanye, while her conventions are fortresses protected by hundreds of cops. Yes, here are many weird details surrounding the action in Seattle: People who come out of nowhere, wreck an organization, spout a lot of ultra rhetoric, and then want Sanders to be more like Obama. The #BowDownBernie hashtag, as inspired by the Beyoncé “Bow Down” song, smells like brand-awareness rather than grassroots. Yes, if we want to really change things, every movement must be held accountable for its actions. But BLM is the closest thing to Italian Autonomia I have seen in the United States since I moved here in 2011; de-structured, horizontal, spontaneous.
Back in 1970s Italian communists accused radicals to be ‘divisive’ and on the paycheck of intelligence/ secret agents, so to destroy the alliance between the PCI and the working class. Things definitely didn’t work out for Autonomia back then. But we can’t be nostalgic about the times of widespread grassroots politics, and then be unforgiving and patronizing towards young people who have truly disrupted mainstream politics for the first time in 40 years. Bernie Sanders is no salvation: his vote for the extradition of Assata Shakur, on Palestine, against the legalization of pot and his take on immigration show he’s not a Tupamaro fighter, either. I personally think he can be a carrier of good ideas, cause trouble to HRC and set the ground for a long-term platform. His limits are the limits of a system characterized by corruption and rot. To all my liberal friends I’d like to say, attributing our problems to “outsiders” hardly recognizes the inherent problems we have.
At the same time, I think the real limits of today’s militancy are, if at all, mostly existential. Four years ago, we all know the Occupy was a mostly white, peaceful, marxist and anarchic movement, who had pretty much clear in mind who the enemy was, and yet it didn’t last very long. What embraces the majority of American radicals, in my view, is the plague of depression, isolation and mental exhaustion. Say what you want about social media emancipation, but I still think the daily routine of many professionals of call-out is a pretty detrimental one. In big cities the only religion is Work, cost of living so unbearable, and those who don’t run fast enough get trampled on, and no one really cares. This is to say that, at one point, Occupy camps became large mental health wards across the country. Such is life on the margins these days in the USA.
In conclusion, we must all embrace #BlackLiveMatter first and foremost because they don’t give a shit, and they don’t own us anything. We can’t ask them realpolitik; their spontaneity and contradictions can walk back to back with ambition and discipline. They’re the best we can have, and their mere existence is a positive sign.