How to Live With a Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (Or Muting His)

Chapter #9: On Fashion and Entertainment 

The revolutionary keeps saying it: you need to get to the people. The people! Ah, the revolutionary gets such a rush at this word! It’s almost as if Comrade Trotsky was rising up from his ashes. But not quite, let’s not get carried away.

In order to get to the people, you of course need to go where they are. That could be a mosque, a church, or any other public space where the people are many and, according to what the Revolutionary believes, impatiently waiting to be saved by the Gospel (By Gospel, we mean: The Communist Manifesto, the Permanent Revolution and he would even throw something from Nietzsche if you show enough aptitudes).

This is why, in order to expand his constituency – sorry, silly me, his membership of brave Comrades- the revolutionary will need to get out and visit people in their places of worships, mostly bars and clubs and pubs. The revolutionary would of course rather, in order of preference: 1) be held by secret services while trying to go through the Rafah crossing (Amazing! such close encounter with the conservative oppressive forces! Such proof that the revolution is what we need!), 2) Stand on a picket line with his Comrades by minus 14 in London,  occupying some university or other and 3)Stay at home with Comrade Trotsky, Comrade Marx, Comrade Said and Comrade Achkar, a poster of El Hakim hanging in front of him.

In any case, if no police brutality or demonstration is in sight, the revolutionary will put on his best attire just up and get out in the glittery bourgeois wilderness. This is how it would usually go: by best attire, the revolutionary will mean his uniform. A pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The t-shirt can not be turquoise or mauve or green. Such bourgeois colors. Only utilitarian colors shall be admitted.: black, white. brown. Even gray is questionable. The revolutionary doesn’t care much about fashion, takes “fashion-impaired” (something you call him quite often) as a compliment, and thinks Anna Wintour is, well, he doesn’t give her much thought anyway, she hasn’t written anything worthy and was Rosa Luxembourg’s companion? No?.

No.

So there he goes, all decked out in his finest stakhanovist clothes, oblivious of your pleading: Let me iron it! No! You don’t have to! I’m not a bourgeois chauvinist pig! Tayb iron it yourself! No! Waste of time! Fashion is the biggest form of oppression anyway! HUGE impacts on body image! Loads of work force that are exploited throughout the world! How can you sleep at night? No need to tell him you don’t really, you hit your head on the corner of the bloody Russian revolution last night and it nearly gave you a concussion. 

The revolutionary therefore finds himself in a bar: scenario 1: he’s with Comrades. The evening flows on pleasantly, you know the usual, Trotsky is God, how can you say that, God is dead, Nietszche killed him, and don’t be a reactionary, and everything is imperialism and everyone is an essentialist anyway. 

Scenario 2: The revolutionary is among regular people, for whom the Bible is thet history of that old bearded guy (NO! NOT HIM!) and for whom Trotsky is a not particularly liked old remnant of high school. The revolutionary therefore sees the opportunity for sharing the Gospel. He will approach, dancing in a way that resembles your father’s (you KNOW what I mean, arms astretch, hand in fists, pounding the air thinking he’s IT)  (the revolutionary only dances well the Dabke, taught to him by Palestinian Comrades somewhere between a refugee camp in Nablus and Gaza). He’ll then start talking: slowly, people will turn green, then grey, then blue. Whispers of “make it stop” and “shut him up” might hit your ears. You think you’ve overheard a guy screaming: Aboussss allah wlak SKOT!!!!! (that might be one of his friend, a Rafeeq perhaps)

At the end of the evening, some might even mention razor blades, to kill themselves or him, you do not know. 

The revolutionary will go home, happy to have shared yet a part of the progressive wisdom and imparted positive change on this world. He’ll turn on his music, not the savage music he’s just spent the evening enduring, but normal music, like Comrade Ziad and Comrade Marcel and the Jabha (cha3biyeh) finest.

You’ll just look at him, decked out in your finest late of fashion peg pants and 12 cm heels. Strangely proud of his integrity. Pathetic. 

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