Twenty-Minute Lies

Talking to an ideologue is like talking to a friend who’s moved to the suburbs about how long it takes to get downtown. They invariably give you a ridiculously optimistic estimate. Sure you can get downtown in 20 minutes, if you’re speeding like a demon, on empty roads, in the middle of a cloudless summer night. But I don’t wanna hear about how well your plan works in ideal circumstances, I wanna know how well it works in this broken and burning world we call home. How long does it usually take to get downtown? How long can it take if there’s traffic?

flag_of_mozambique-svgI grew up hearing again and again from all the old communists and socialists in Verdun and The Point that none of the supposedly communist countries were actually communist, and none of the supposedly socialist countries were actually socialist: “We’ve never really tried communism!”—they’d say, before pounding a fist into the table, and taking another swig of beer. There’s some truth to claims like this. After all, we live in a complicated world wherein all theoretical constructs are forced to fall from grace when they’re put into practice. So there has never been, nor will there ever be, a perfectly communist society or a perfectly capitalist society. But does this mean that every system must be judged only with reference to its pristine Platonic ideal?

%d0%b0%d0%ba-47The AK-47 (Kalashnikov) is the revolutionary’s gun of choice the world over, not because it’s a particularly precise instrument, but rather because it’s unbelievably reliable in less than ideal circumstances. The AK-47 can fire when it’s wet, dirty, rusty, bent. Seriously, it’s an amazing tool: one of the only guns to actually make it onto a country’s flag (Mozambique). If your proposed political program can’t function in this broken and burning world we live in, if it’s not at least as reliable as an AK-47, I call bullshit. Because we have to be able to judge how things function in the messy real world we live in. Besides, there’s something vaguely sleazy about constantly placing your proposed system beyond reproach.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2016)

About John Faithful Hamer

John Faithful Hamer is a college professor who still can't swim, drive, or pay his bills on time. His sense of direction is notoriously unreliable, yet he'd love to tell you where to go. His lack of practical skills is astounding, and his inability to fix things is renowned, yet he'd love to tell you what to do. His mismanagement of time is legendary, as is his inability to remember appointments, yet he fancies himself a philosopher and would love to tell you how to live. He wouldn't survive in a state of nature, of that we can be sure; but he's doing quite well in the big city, which has always been a refuge for the ridiculous, a haven for the helpless, and a friend to the frivolous.

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