2012 Election’s War on Women

“Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.” – Frank Zappa

There is a dust cloud on the road and I can hear truck wheels agrinding. This can only mean one thing: the carnival is back in town! Every four years the branding changes a little, but never the discourse. One common feature during election season in democratic America is the “hot-button issue”—a relatively high stakes issue that the two ruling capitalist parties take sides on. This tactic is used to displace popular focus onto a single issue that the system can resolve while drawing attention away from the flaws inherent in the system itself.
How does this politic tactic work? First a group is defined and the disciplined by legislation, which seeks ultimately to control their bodies and freedom in society. The hot-button issue must be too important to ignore the legislation on it (like with marijuana) and too localized to actually deconstruct the power relations in our society. As the issue is debated around and legislated on, the group in power that does the legislating (the US government in this case) becomes legitimated and leads the discourse.
Russia was able to pull this diversionary strategy during WW2, focusing the major battle of the Russian front in and around the frontier city of Stalingrad. The capital city, Moscow, the center of Bolshevik power, was thus saved from total destruction and the Nazi’s were eventually defeated. In light of this model, it becomes clear that the current electoral discourse is preventing an overthrow of systematic exploitation and oppression as the people scramble for a token victory in mediated civil rights. In the 2012, it is women, their bodies, and the rights and laws around them that are at embattled.
The political focus on women’s bodies and rights has a twofold purpose. The first is to allow politicians cloud over other socio-political issues that may enter the election discourse—especially one’s critiquing violent, industrial capitalism. They generate the perception that voting is effective in securing rights, thus misdirect people’s energy from fighting for greater systematic change. The second is to make visceral the social control over the female body, to enforce that control through a discourse of power that always poses a woman as an object. This enforces an oppressive hegemony that frustrates any effort to deconstruct the power structure that marginalizes and disciplines.
We saw this during the 2008 elections with the countless pro and anti-marriage equality movements across the US. The anti-marriage equality referendum Prop 8 was proposed in California and Utah, forcing the public to fight back against legislative victory. Because all current liberation struggle in the US have been reduced an endless line up of “special interests” alienated from the communities they claim to represent, beholden to bureaucracy, gay rights was able to surface as a centralized discourse. And everyone was able to form an opinion about it. Radical queer people and allies found themselves embattled on all angles: running from body-controlling Republicans and avoiding the lure of Democratic faux-populism that would support marriage equality in name, while never pursuing positive legislation.
At the end of the day, Prop 8 was passed, then eventually repealed. Some state/capitalism-friendly gays found themselves a little more empowered. But most LGBTIQ people people didn’t find themselves more free, only poorer thanks to the economic measures of the gay rights-friendly politicians. Discrimination based on (both perceived and asserted) sexuality remains at large in America, both culturally and institutionally, but at least a gay soldier can now call themselves gay. Thus the queer body is legislated over and disciplined to accept that legislation as legitimate. Our energy for effective social change has been against thwarted: co-opted into farcical reformism.
This year its women’s rights on the proverbial chopping block. The climax of the toxic discourse so far has been Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” (an absurdly misogynistic belief that over a hundred elected Republicans subscribe to as well), and the CNN article about menstruation cycles and marital status affecting women’s voting habits (which was removed from cnn.com within two hours of being posted by a known misogynist).
Backgrounding these outrageous instances of openly anti-woman propaganda are a string of legal changes that affect women’s bodies. Various states have passed laws further regulating abortion and birth control availability. One Arizona law proposed that female-assigned employees who use company health insurance to obtain birth control must prove that it is required for non-contraceptive purposes.
It is pretty clear that women’s rights has become the hot-button issue used to bait the public this election season and that women are the enemies in the eternal war waged by hegemony. The point of these spectacle is not to progress these issues to new heights of social freedom. It is to engage the energy of the American public in an issue that is non-threatening to the expansion of corporate power and the security state. Women have been defined as a special interest group and disciplined through legislation. When this legislation is threatened by reactionary forces, the medium of the vote is posed as a legitimate source of power for the people to defend their rights. No matter who wins the 2012 election or how women’s rights are legislated on, the US will remain a belligerent neo-imperial surveillance state.
Vote in the election if you think it will help, certainly women’s rights are worth defending by any means necessary, even those mediated by state power. This is not a call to silence the struggles of a marginalized groups in favor of some greater revolution in the way that cultural nationalism did in the 1960s. But, beyond individual beliefs and the institution of the state, a cultural change is possible. Talk to the people around you about the issues and develop a dialogue in favor of autonomy. This is where the true power of the people lays.

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Boy of Iron

I was a boy made of iron,
Standing lone on a starry hill
Watching a night city
Of diamonds and gold
And scratching my iron eyes
Against the cold, dry wind,
And I cried little iron tears

I was a boy made of iron,
Who wore an effigy
Of a thousand years past
On my tattered sleeve
In an ashen house
On an ashen street,
And I cried little iron tears

I was a boy made of iron,
Never having felt
The rust grow slowly over my skin
To scab over the wounds
Laid on the table
Tilting dangerously in front of me,
And I cried little iron tears

I was a boy made of iron,
Locked in by the sky
And with a burning in my ears
Of words and words
In a field full of doubts
Ripened bitter in the sand,
And I cried little iron tears

I was a boy made of iron,
With my lungs imploded,
Choking eyes in solemn destitute
Rocking back and away
To those grinning statues
And columns that threaten to topple,
And I cried little iron tears

I was a boy made of iron,
Who tasted the specks of dust
Coating the dashboard
Of this run-aground dreamship
Rolling into the waves
And collapsing in on myself,
And I cried little iron tears

I was a boy made of iron,
And the sun shone over my head
Pricking away at my shoulder straps
So I walked and felt the wind
I walked and felt the warm wind
Move the rows of trees,
And I cried little iron tears

I was a boy made of iron,
And so it came to pass
That the arms around my neck
Sent me melting to the grass.
And when my senses came to
In a shade of memories past
My eyes would no longer give,
Have I really ever cried before?
I simply can’t remember any more.

– Michaël Veremans, 2005

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A Dump Fulla Bums

A system of successive
waiting cells
where we stand and breath
recycled air

That shoots through
a wormhole
in the time of your life
spent drunk
on transport,
puking on mesh seats

While over there
a civilian gets shot
in the cold
sit down
and let the train
take you away

To your cell
in a concrete box
on top of
what was once a hill
once a swamp
now’s a dump
fulla bums
like me and you.

– Michael Veremans

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Tea House Union Statement on the 9/20/12 Police Shooting on 14th and Mission

We are the Tea House Union, recently formed by the workers of Om Shan Tea under the umbrella of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). We work on this corner every day and have experienced numerous manifestations of violence from gang antagonisms to overwhelming police force.

On 9/20 around 9 pm a plainclothes cop rolled up on a guy standing near 14th and Mission in San Francisco and shot him two times in the back as he ran away. He was hospitalized with supposedly non-lethal wounds and is facing time behind bars. We don’t need the cops to shoot up our corner in the name of justice, we need community justice!

Therefore, we, the workers officially condemn the violence of last night and stand in solidarity with the victim’s family. We recognize that the “bad guys” are not the sisters or brothers on the block, but rather the oppressive system that is tightening the vice around our autonomous freedom and sustainability.

The historical moment is on us to triumph over alienation and locate the real enemy of the people—the corrupt and kleptocratic state and its agents of physical and cultural violence. Don’t fight each other, fight together.

Stop broke on broke crime and start a struggling class solidarity front!

– Tea Workers

You drink the tea, we do the dishes.

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A popular trashpile on every block

The notes of this accordion—
the loco squeak and wheeze—
won’t bring back my love—
Listen to this drug addicto beg and plead:
This is my sad triste song,
If you have a corazon quebrado
You can sing along.

What is the half life on these words on paper,
the words scrawled on walls?
Will they decay or ferment
or spend the day checkin stalls
trying to score yay
and voting their lives away
in a carnival election
that’s already been paid.
The cool kids don’t know what they were doing
They just chill, smoke pot and fuck—
(it’s) not candles they gather around
a popular trashpile on every block.

Once was a poet
now am a fighter
I used to use my pen
but now I reach for my lighter.
For what is a life passed in nostalgia’s embrace?
When the past was a warzone
and the future, the future ablaze,
is heading blunt force this way.

But it smells like some kind of smoke again.
And all of us just got left out here
like a cooked up rock.
Like blunt guts on the metro floor—
a popular trashpile on every block.

– Photos and Glitter by Eydie McConnell Words by Michaël Veremans

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A Toast!

To my gunsmoke night
choking and coughing sulfur and lead,
To my grey looming dawn
heralding fire on the horizon,
To my mucus filled gutter
highways that never end,
To the 20 dollar bills that float free with the wind
and the bullet in the back of my head:

To the opium wars abroad
and the coke wars at home,
To the power structures you buy into
when actually, they buy into you,
To my beloved family
who will all die before their time
To the murdered gangster laying on the corner
victim to a fuckin pig’s nine..

To the anguish of algebraic love
and a punch with a kid skin glove,
To all the crooked and queer
forever lost and forever finding the way,
To the last of the pure pebble shores
that disappeared before I was born,
To all the people who no one has ever cared about
I don’t care about you either, but who cares?

And if your drink hasn’t soured by now
you’ve likely never slept on the ground
Under rain imagining yourself
a dead image projected across the world.
But reality must somewhere thrive
and when I wake up I’ll find
Two new drinks, one for my dreams
and one to fill the hole left by the past.

To all the slumlords sleeping on tempurpedic
and all the tenants a paycheck away from the street,
To the patience with clipped wings
and the silence that burns holes in my skin,
To everyone drugged up and kept in boxes
and to the wardens and accountants that put them there,
To you and me as we plan our escape
to the place where the sweet water flows.

And finally,
To all the soldiers with ticks
down for any battle except the last,
To all the yuppies crying
and the opium addicts lying,
To socialized medicine
and all the countries that are medical experiments,
To Robin Hood, the 40 Thieves
and the pirates of the anarchist seas.

Let’s not fuel the system that is
with the power of our speech,
It’s not hard to win a revolution
All power
to what could be!

–Michaël Veremans!

Featured in the premier San Francisco print creative arts periodical Synergy Zine.

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The Struggle of the Democratic Class

Dead Forms of Democracy
        Disfigured Bureaucracy
              And the Demise of Dreams
As we sweep our feet of labored dust
Ancestries of slaveries swallow
Our good intentions,
Bodies Combust
Combative minds lose trust 
in their own wisdom,
We’re left with only an ability to choose
The types of liberties to lose
Dead Forms of Democracy
         Vote for each Breath
             The Drilling Demise of Dreams
Wet with struggle
Blood, sweat, tears,
Mystics hide in bottles of distilled agave and beer
Who can help the trend of silence?
The public fills the streets to peer through
Gun barrels and blood stained sheets
Dead Forms of Democracy
        Indebted till Death
           There lies your American Dream
Smog that seeps into blackened lungs
Hearts that pump liquid as hot as
A combusting Sun
Reverence and eloquence in words withdrawl
As actions become more than painted verbs on a wall,
The scene of an all out brawl
Between an unarmed crowd and a unwritten law.
Dead Forms of Democracy.

– Angel Rodriquez, somewhere in Mexico.

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