"Marat/Sade", "XYZ Unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains!", 01/22/2019, 1789, 1793, Adolf Eichmann, Anarchy, April 1961, Auditions, Bare Theatre Productions, Bay of Pigs, Cold War, Cuba, Disenfranchisement, Fidel Castro, French Revolution, Ko;khoz- USSR Collective Farm, Lenin-Peace Prize, Liberté Égalité Fraternité, Marx and Engels, Niccolò Machiavelli- "The ends justify the means.", Oligarchy, Peter Weiss, Pravda- Truth, Reign of Terror, Revolution, Shiva, Socialism, South Africa- Apartheid, USA, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, War Crimes, Yuri Gagarin
Balancing the seemingly mutually conflicting goals of Justice, Liberty, Equality, Social Contracts, Traditional Values, Progressiveness, Rhetoric and our interpretation and understanding of these Building Blocks of Society has been my focus of late. That, along with Revolution, Anarchy and Socialism, but don’t worry I haven’t gone over to the Dark Side; at least not quite.
No, I’ve been contemplating The French Revolution, the subsequent Reign of Terror and how much evil we perpetrate in our desire to do good. My obsession with Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité is a direct result of Bare Theatre’s January auditions for, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, (Hereafter to be called Marat Sade!) Peter Weiss’ outstanding play.
Marat Sade not only intrigues the bloody thing mesmerizes, and the themes addressed are exactly what make my Boomer Brain swirl, but rather than look at the whole I’m going to focus on two essential elements, Socialism and “Truth.” (Don’t get hung up on the anachronism of using a word that did not exist until Marx and Engels coined it sixty years after Rousseau’s death. We’re dealing with a “higher truth” here.)
Having drawn my first breath the same month Adolf Eichmann’s War Crimes trial began, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth, the UN condemned South Africa’s apartheid, Cuba’s Bay of Pigs had boatloads of undocumented folks arrive unannounced and Fidel Castro received the Lenin-Peace Prize makes me both a Boomer and a Cold War Baby. When I was born Socialism was evil incarnate and the USA stood for pravda! Er, truth.
“Truth” is in ever shorter supply these days as Spin is in and Alt-Facts are the new Crack. Partisanship reigns supreme and the art of rhetoric is used primarily to persuade rather than to inform. Once upon a time we objectively tried to express our subjective realities but that quaint notion is as dead as the USSR’s Kolkhoz. Collectively speaking, here in the Twenty-First the goal is to persuade and Machiavelli is looking down from Heaven with a huge grin on his lips because at last we have seen the true value of ends and means.
The battle cry, “XYZ Unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains!” is an ancient franchise that keeps selling the same stale baguettes. The equation of “Establishment Bad, Revolution Good” inevitably leads us down a road of death and destruction, not because “Establishment Bad” is so untrue but rather because “Revolution Good” is.
I despair at our insistence of embracing saviors in our desire to right wrongs as saviors turn out to be anything but. If we want progress and equality then we gotta work for it. Socialism tells us that the biggest stumbling block to Liberty, Equality and Fraternity is inequality of wealth and the unchecked power that goes hand in hand with wealth disparity. This idea is close to the truth but the real bogeyman isn’t wealth disparity, it’s power.
Proponents of Capitalism love to talk about equal opportunity, rising tides raising all boats and the glories of a free market while ignoring that those with greatest wealth get to make the rules and the rules are designed to benefit those with greatest wealth. Meanwhile, so-called Socialists are insisting that Centralized Power will set us free. Really?
Socialism is neither savior nor Shiva Incarnate. Just because Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov threw off the Czar’s yoke and replaced it with his own doesn’t condemn socialism, it condemns having an oligarchy with overarching power where workers have no rights; a system found to varying degrees throughout the world under various “Team Names.” A carrot and stick approach of reward for achievement and punishment for failure need not be dependent on a work force in fear of survival. People will work when they see their labor as uplifting to self and society and all who participate should profit from the groups’ efforts.
It is we who are the Destroyers of Worlds when we intentionally choose to sell our souls for power. Power that comes with great wealth, unfettered centralized government or acting the part of the Pied Piper by leading the children to their doom with our false flute of rhetoric. And our insistence on simple answers grows to ever rising levels even as the matrix of society becomes more overarching and complex.
Campaign Slogans are great for rousing rabble but anyone who thinks we can solve problems with the sweep of a broom, “Out with the bad, in with the good!” should check what’s in his hookah. Life is not a ballgame where rooting for one side while hissing and booing the other is a (mostly) harmless pastime, regardless of what color jerseys they’re wearing the two-headed, insatiable omnivore of the Twenty-First Century is Oligarchy and Disenfranchisement.
“The truth shall set you free,” “None is so blind as those who will not see,” and “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Nothing that is save Revolutionaries promising us a land flowing with ilk and money, er, milk and honey.