A space for open discussion and blogging among communists and radicals.
Glenn to Lenin: My Transformation
From my Blog: The Queer Gathering
While at this point the entry is somewhat out of date I thought I would share it with comrades here and maybe hear if comrades have any idea on how my experiences fit into the wider task of radicalization and recruitment, of striking through bourgeois ideology.
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Did you know I used to be a fascist? Well, perhaps not fascist exactly but pretty damn close. Yeah, before I became ‘right with the left’ (notice the religious hyperbole) I believed some crazy shit and spewed even crazier shit. Anyway, not everything is set in stone. No, I changed and know everyone else can change as well assuming the person in question opens their mind and thinks independently. Had I never broken away from the radical right I wouldn’t be who I am today nor would I have abandoned my asinine beliefs, sought out knowledge which was than exotic, or evolved into the humanist I am today.
Evolution is a fitting term for no other word in the English language can accurately describe my transformation. Indeed, for ‘once upon a time’ I was a Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh loving American ultra- nationalist. Young and naïve I believed every inch of their nonsense. Eventually I would even take their ideology further and come to believe that they didn’t go far enough in their quest to protect America from the coming communist threat.
I first started watching Glenn Beck when I was stuck in the quagmire of early adolescence. Perhaps 13 was the first moment when I watched Glenn on, than, CNN. In those early days, when he could still perhaps be called a ‘moderate,’ I watched him at first for two reasons: 1) Because I was bored and thought viewing political stories might make the day slightly more interesting and 2) Because back than he made sense.
I continued watching his show in the coming years and began to view it nearly every day. I hung on what he said and fumed when I heard the travesties he reported on. The more and more he talked the more I was sure that the American nation was going to collapse without a strong radical force taking control and purging it of the conspiratorial left- wing infiltrators.
Illegal immigrants taking jobs from hard working Americans, a government soft on terrorism that refused to invade Iran, a president which lacked the spine necessary to build a border fence, and the constant attacks against the undersupplied military were all major concerns of mine. Also high on the list was the stunning accepting atmosphere that the evil progressives held. Something needed to give. I knew that the ideas put forth from Glenn’s line of thinking would prevail if given the chance.
As I continued watching his program and sunk deeper and deeper into his web of fantasy I gradually developed my own chain of extremist thinking; a variant which radicalized Glenn’s thoughts and brought his vision for America into the reality which would overcome the agenda put forth by the liberals and progressives.
My new train of thought was sociopathic… to put it lightly. Among the vast amounts of ultra-reactionary gems were: A massive militarized border wall needed to be built (10 feet high and lined with watch towers and armed guards) straight across from one side of the southern and northern border, mandatory citizenry background checks for all employees (Private and public sector), a massively increased military budget (one which would be capable of occupying several more nations if need be) with a massively increased standing army (a million or so just wasn’t large enough for me), a suspension of freedom of the press, speech and assembly until the left-wing menace was wiped out, a massive crackdown (i.e. arrests) of all perceived radical Muslim leaders and prohibition of worship in such mosques, and, if need be, a massive nuclear bombing campaign directed at most if Asia and the Middle East.
Since I had lost faith in the republicans to accomplish such things, and didn’t know of the existence of any other political parties, I created my own ideal group (all in my head, of course). This new group would be the catalyst, the vessel in which America was restored to its former glory! Dubbed ‘The American Imperial Party,’ this new power would cast aside all the Marxist ranting riddled in contemporary American culture and impose strict new laws which would never harm corporations or say to a capitalists that they ‘made too much money.’
While such a creation was merely the brainchild of an angsty teenager it is nonetheless important to note that I earnestly believed such dribble with an ironclad will. I grew upset, angry and confused when those around me couldn’t see the injustices raining down from the courts and government. I was incapable of comprehending why others tolerated such leftist talk when it was all lies. The more I resented those around me the more I succumb to the venom of the extreme right.
Change wouldn’t come for a number of years and when it did it was certainly draped in the power of my own odd desire to understand the world. While during such times I resented the revolutionary left, often conflating it with the run-of-the mill progressives, I would nonetheless be interested in who they were as people.
I remember the first event that displayed my desire to learn, this was also the first noticeable tract of time when I sought out knowledge which was in opposition to my own so it is important to note. I was watching Glenn Beck (surprise, surprise!) and he was ranting on about how an educators march for better benefits was actually a far- left orchestration. To prove this he scrolled a long list of organizations involved in the march. Among the vast amounts of groups were many progressive and left- wing groups. Among the list of groups, however, one stood out among all others: Youth for Socialist Action. It showed only briefly but I was instantly taken aback by them and had the impulse to write down their name. Why I wanted to write this group down among all others I didn’t know; perhaps it had to do with the youth aspect since it only seemed naturally about why young people would accept such a barbaric ideology.
Months later I finally had the opportunity to search for the group I had written down. We had just discovered our landlords had a wireless connection (prior to my only access to the world was through the television) so I was able to access the internet via my PlayStation 3. In Google I typed in the words “Youth for Socialist Action.” I found my group quickly and was immediately repelled and fascinated. The pictures of young socialists testifying why they were against capitalism, the historical quotes from Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and others, and the links upon progressive links astounded me. I was disgusted by their animation of a cartoon character holding a sign that said “Capitalism sucks” yet as the same time intrigued by the reality facet; that actual young people organized their social lives around such ideas.
In the coming months I would occasionally pop in on the site. More just to relive the feelings than anything actual but it was a starting point. The next major event would take place sometime later, perhaps as much as a year later when I was about 17. I was posting on a site for queer teenagers when one of the newbies introduced himself as a socialist. My exact words fail me but I and he quickly took to arguing. Eventually, after a pointless back and forth, he linked me to Revleft and said that they would be able to answer my questions/accusations far better than what he was capable of doing.
I could have ignored the site and never bothered to follow the link… I could have deleted the message and went back to the Satanist forum that had piqued my interest recently, but I didn’t. Maybe it was my sense of ‘honor’ but I told myself, “Fine, I will go on there and read some things, do a bit of posting then go back to that unpatriotic asshole and tell him off knowing that I gave his traitor site a chance.” Oh how things turned out!
My first moments on the site were awkward. Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of members (I had previously only been on very low member forums), topics, and ideology I lost my way quickly and ended up more in the learning forum as my exclusive place of residence. Not even knowing about an introduction forum I gave my intro in the same post I asked questions on. Known back then as Wanderer I asked the typical newcomer queries: What is the difference between socialism and communism, what is socialism, what is [X] tendency and so on. As a ultra-nationalist I defended absurd positions (such as support for the nuclear bombings in the second world war) but never carried on lengthy debates (as I saw my presence there as a strictly learning oriented one) for I was still frustrated by all the leftist concepts that my all mighty Beck never mentioned: the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex (seriously, how many complexes are there?!… I said to myself), planned economies, the intent of Marx and so forth. Oddly enough I was never restricted.
My transformation, however, was not by any means instant. It took months of considerations and learning before I finally decided I was a socialist and it took even longer before I began to defend my positions on other sites. I manually copied down lengthy manifestos and seriously studied leftist topics. I was extremely weary when others used the terms “Imperialist, bourgeois, and proletariat,” and I often felt out of place in such an alien world. However, not all were bad. When I discovered Revleft’s myriad user groups I felt some hope: I saw that leftist had an interest in video games, movies, space exploration, writing, sports- I saw that they were human and not a cult. It was an odd realization for someone who had assumed that every leftist was a hardcore activist that did nothing else but antagonize hard working business men. I felt more secure and at ease.
Revleft served as my learning zone. And difficult learning was for amid all the clashing definitions I routinely had headaches trying to understand how each tendency interacted with on another. As I learned more I lost sight of my old views. Reading, discovering the leftist perspective to history, and contemplating how the world should be run gradually led to massive change. I had dropped each of my reactionary views and adopted progressive ones. Beliefs which I once held as dogma gradually faded into the background as forgotten lore.
My political transformation signaled a new step when after talking with a comrade I finally decided to join the youth branch of Socialist Action (the aforementioned “Youth for Socialist Action); the oddities of enlisting with the very group which first brought me over to my first legitimate leftist spectacle was not lost on me. Though I do not believe in any superstition it is nonetheless amazing when such events transpire.
Today I am a Pan-Leftist who believes that there is no “right way” to bring about revolution; I am a fierce advocate for the queer struggle, a tireless writer and theorist, a dedicated activist, and a loyal solider in the fight against capitalism. I triumphed over my time in the far- right, learned the nuances of the left and now am the only thing a decent, well politicked human can be: A socialist.