html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Exultation

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Exultation

COMRADES! I rejoice to report to you a great and glorious victory for the workers! On this weekend a wrong was righted! On this day, the people have reclaimed what was always rightfully theirs!

Many years ago, a humble daughter of two loyal workers noticed in their backyard a wrought iron plant stand. The plant stand had suffered from rain and rust, but the hardworking girl sanded the plant stand, primed and painted it black, that it might unobtrusively do its job holding plants, because even the lowliest job in the revolution is something to be proud of when done steadfastly and without complaint.

The plant stand served the girl diligently through several college dorm rooms, because the worker’s daughter had decided to learn the ornate and foolish theories of the owner class that she might better refute them when it came time to overthrow the decadent and lazy ruling class. The plant stand was often the only decoration in her small, plain rooms, and although she would have given it gladly to be melted into bullets if those bullets would only bring the agrarian utopia a day closer, in a small worldly corner of her heart she secretly loved the way it held her plants.

Until! One day, the girl was visited by her sister, who (perhaps spoiled by a childhood where she never had to mow the lawn twice a week but instead only had to clean the pool every now and then and it isn’t exactly hot and sweaty work if you can jump in the pool to cool off instead of push a heavy mower for hours) had the greedy eyes of the decadent owners. Sighting the fruits of someone else’s labor, the idle sister naturally coveted it for herself, and took the plant stand back to her mansion where it was lost among all her gilded statuary.

Until today! Comrades! Today the plant stand is returned, as what rightfully belongs to the workers must always be! The will of the people cannot be denied forever! When the workers unite and stand up for themselves, pointing out the unavoidable truths that she painted it in the first place and the sister wasn’t even using it to hold plants right now, and it wasn’t safe for her perfect nephews to climb on it, ‘cause it could tip and hurt someone small and perfect, well then! Then the sister would repent her materialistic grasping ways! Then the sister could deny justice no longer. Then the acquisitive sister would return the plant stand to the industrious sister, and the workers and all the peoples everywhere and our comrades in the fields and factories would sing and dance from joy because BABY’S COME HOME!

23 Comments:

Blogger Megan said...

Now I need more plants.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megan, I understand this was a parody.

But do you realize that this was written in the style of an ideology that motivated the murder of tens of millions of people in the 20th Century?

Would it be funny if I wrote a blog post in the style of a 1930s fascist politician (anti-semitic, anti-gypsy, anti-capitalist, nationalist)?

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Can I smoke what you're smoking?

(Megan that is, not anonymous. I think anonymous got a bad batch.)

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it be funny if I wrote a blog post in the style of a 1930s fascist politician (anti-semitic, anti-gypsy, anti-capitalist, nationalist)?

You presumably wouldn’t find it funny, but many people find Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream funny and/or brilliant. And many think it falls short because he took the concept, Adolf Hitler as a science fiction writer, way past blog post length all the way to novel length.

Bertram

7:53 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

I'll join Greg by adding: Life Is Beautiful (you didn't laugh AND cry?) and while I haven't seen it, I've heard that the original Producers was quite funny. So, well, yeah... it might be.

Were the "originals" funny? Certainly not. But that's not what anyone was suggesting.

Is Megan funny? When she wants to be. (And when her suitors like to "suit" up. That's also pretty funny.)

10:28 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Greg, you're welcome to whatever I'm consuming on any day of the week, but sadly, I wrote that sober. Greg, you would surely offer some of your good stuff to your anonymous friend, right?

Anonymouse 7:10:

Honestly, I don't know if I would recognize a 30's fascist politician language well enough to catch the reference. If it were a very distinctive style, I might copy it. Or I might be offended. I don't know.

Truthfully, when I've read accounts of Maoist China I've been saddened and horrified, but when I'm not recently reminded, those are pretty far deaths for me - geographically, culturally, historically, ethnically. Most of the time, they don't register strongly enough for me to forego a funny post. I'm sorry if it triggered stronger, sadder emotions in you.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Kwindla said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

You mean to keep some of our vegetative brethren captive in this torture device?!? Set my plant-people free!

10:41 PM  
Blogger Kwindla said...

anonymous: I would respectfully suggest that you've pigeon-holed the parody rather differently than other equally passionate, equally moral, equally well-informed folks might.

The tropes of the parody have been part of (and very often leaned on a bit too heavily, which is what makes the parody funny) a cacaphonous, disorganized, self-contradictory, crucial set of conversations that have spanned much of this century. These conversations have departed center stage in recent years only because, I believe, we now take much of their content for granted in moral and political discourse, even in this country, which has been resistant along particular axes (though often only superficially, or as a matter of rhetoric rather than principle or idea) far more than, say, Western Europe.

And this set of conversations, many of the individuals shaped by them, and some of the movements spawned by them, have been absolutely critical to the advance of human freedom and the making available of (more) justice and (some) opportunity to large numbers of people who previously had no such access.

Other individuals and oranizations have, as you say, claimed to be inspired by strands of those same conversations, and have perpretrated murderous and horrible crimes.

One possible conclusion is that human beings seem to find it possible (and are perhaps even eager) to coopt almost any set of available ideas and bend them to almost any purpose. And given that there is no shortage of people in any time and place who are willing to kill and otherwise terribly abuse their fellows, it is not surprising that a set of powerful and flexible ideas, broadly appealing in their historical moment and with both strong moral and novel analytical implications was mis-used as much as they were well-used.

Other conclusions are also possible, of course. Please note, however, that I am not arguing that ideas are unimportant, or equivalent in some relativistic way. In fact, I would argue that the equivalence suggested between socialist rhetoric and fascist rhetoric is misleading exactly because ideologies are constructed (and do operate) differently: that it is important to distinguish between rhetoric -- for we're talking about rhetoric if we're talking about parody -- designed to justify the unjustifiable and rhetoric that is part of a longer, more diverse and more complicated discourse.

I have now commented on two posts here inside of three days, which is clearly over my limit. I will crawl back in my warm, comfortable burrow momentarily, but I'd like to make one more observation first.

I have known a number of people in my life who would, if they were to read the parody at issue, laugh until tears rolled down their faces, and then laugh some more, then take a break to discuss some important (or even more hilariously, some completely unimportant) bit of movement doctrine or pressing practical consideration, and while so doing would make fun of anyone else in the room who lapsed (even slightly) into the style of the parody, especially if said person happened to be themselves, and then laugh again until they were prostrate on the floor and unable to lift an arm even to demand the floor from their comrades.

None of the people I am thinking of had anything to do with the unjustifiable and unforgivable crimes you allude to (though some -- but by no means all -- of them took too long to perceive those crimes as they were occurring, a sin of incomprehension that they tend to be even harder on themselves for than I suspect you could ever be). Many of them are true heroes in the individual and local ways that I tend to think are most important, having devoted large parts of their lives to struggles that are as selfless as any activities of which human beings are capable. Some of them are heroes in very large ways.

It serves no good purpose, to my way of thinking, to lump these people and their works together with dictators and those who do the bidding of dictators. And this is, as you will by now have realized (with some exasperation) a hobby-horse of mine. I believe such lumping allows us (I'm sure not you, anonymous, but "us" as a political collective) to be lazy and naive. That we can so completely have forgotten, in my native and beloved country, for example, how we chose up sides and whose rhetoric supported whose murderousness in Southern Africa, say, between, say, 1950 and 1990, that we allow ourselves to have a Vice President and a senior policy-making staff that was not only murderously wrong but so rigidly, assuredly, ideologically, ahistorically and to this day unapologetically wrong.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Dude!! And then Kwindla comes in and shows us how it is done! Awesome. Your comments are welcome here, mister.

*******
There is another potential tragedy here, and the irony is that it will hit Kwindla the hardest. I can't think of too many more irrigation posts (although I'm still holding upstream and downstream canal control for a special occasion). But! I know people!

So I called my sister, who designs container shipping ports, and asked her if she would do a guest entry? On what, she asked. Anything, I said. How the crane operators work those giant cranes. What the longshoremen are like. How big the ships are. How to keep yourself safe in a trainyard.

Well, she said. They're putting in a new mooring system... And it is cool? I asked. Really cool, she said. So I asked her if she would tell us about it. And now there is some chance she'll be so mad about this post that she won't tell us how the new mooring system works.

I'm sorry for risking that, Kwindla. But we've been fighting over this plant stand for about a decade now.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

Heh, the "suit"or joke was the "best"ial.

As far as communism goes, everything is Not Funny to someone. But I think everything ought to be fair game for humor--not just communism but also fascism, cancer, death, genocide, furries, the works. Humor is one of the ways we process terrible stuff.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Kwindla said...

Okay, so container port design issu . unhhhh ... ... ... what? who? oh, sorry, really sorry. I blacked out a little there, which sometimes happens when I get over-stimulated. Really, how could we go wrong? But, if I may humbly suggest: how about a series of posts on the integration of both mechanical and information technologies designed to make large ports more efficient into the workflow of those ports, the quantitative and qualitative effects of those technologies on the people who work in and on those ports, whether some bottlenecks are harder to eliminate than proponents of said technologies would like to belive, what the most interesting yet-to-be-done work in that area is, and, of course, how we might think in an informed way about the objections that unions tend to have to increased automation.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you have to execute a reverse merger of the plant stand into its former holding company in exchange for shares in the contemplated posts, I, as a highly respected strategic and management consultant specializing in issues of blogosphere/material exchange and attendant regulatory issues would certify for fiduciary and liability (though not tax or copyright) purposes that you are acting in the best interests of both your equity-holders and (this is a bonus, by no means required and in fact you are specifically enjoined by law not to prioritize these benefits though we can all agree that they are of some value) the broader community in which your corporation is headquartered.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Dude, you guys are great and my favorite and everything, but I FINALLY have possession of the plant stand and I am not giving it back so you guys can read about container ports. I've wanted it back for YEARS.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Push a heavy mower for hours? How big was your lawn? I used to mow an acre, with a row of some kind of pine trees along the back, and closely spaced, up and down hills, and around some other trees scattered throughout the yard, and it only took a couple of hours with a push mower when I was 10.

Justin

12:18 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

It was an acres with trees and it took a couple hours to do it all when I was ten.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Just one acre, not plural acres.

12:22 AM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

I'd be interested in reading about how an executive is specifically enjoined by law from prioritizing the interests of the broader community. I can see how some shareholders might not want managers to prioritize that community, but from a social utilitarian POV I can't imagine why we would want to make a law preventing it.

Also, I would like to acquire an equity position in Megan and/or From the Archives. Voting shares, if possible. Perhaps Kwindla could advise on an IPO. Would you accept compensation in weir flow forumulae?

3:54 AM  
Anonymous Gretchen said...

I just want some photos of the plant stand!

5:25 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

So I called my sister, who designs container shipping ports, and asked her if she would do a guest entry? On what, she asked. Anything, I said. How the crane operators work those giant cranes.

The operating engineer's union doesn't want you to know. Unless you pay union dues, that is.


What the longshoremen are like.

They swear a lot.


How big the ships are.

Very, very big.


How to keep yourself safe in a trainyard.

Expect a train in any direction, on any track, at any time. And remember that because you can hear only one train at a time, it's the second one that's likely to run you over.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in reading about how an executive is specifically enjoined by law from prioritizing the interests of the broader community. I can see how some shareholders might not want managers to prioritize that community, but from a social utilitarian POV I can't imagine why we would want to make a law preventing it.
The manager is working for the shareholders to increase the shareholders’ assets and I assume has fiduciary duty them. Just like the trustee for the Rockefeller family trusts can’t give away the trusts money. Corporations often make donations to the general community justified by general good will, but to give substantial amounts the owner has to take the money out and do it themselves like Bill Gates giving his shares to his foundation to sell off.

Also, I would like to acquire an equity position in Megan and/or From the Archives. Voting shares, if possible. Perhaps Kwindla could advise on an IPO. Would you accept compensation in weir flow forumulae?

Megan has expressed a preference for a partnership structure of about 50-50 ownership. I can’t imagine she wants an IPO where all the factions of the Los Osos Service District purchase shares and try to speak at the annual meeting. I suppose she could make the blog a subsidiary coop under the partnership if such a thing as a subsidiary coop is possible.

Bertram

8:36 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Um, Megan is expressing a preference for a flat-out dictatorship.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Noel said...

It certainly isn't her IPO, but I thought the whole point of this blog was to attract suitable investors for an equity stake in the Meg.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

Heh, "suit"able investors?

I think I'm going to be mining that one for a long time. Honestly, though, I like to think that I'd be GGG for a furry-inclined woman, so I feel a little guilty about making the jokes. They're just so much fun to make.

As far as fiduciary duty goes, I think my confusion was this: if the equity holders believe that their interests are the same as those of the broader community, is management still enjoined from prioritizing those?

8:54 PM  

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