How to Live with a Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (Or Becoming His)

You’re not sure. The symptoms are creeping up on you, taking you off guard. You’re not sure but you might very well be, gasp, in the process of becoming a revolutionary.
Needless to say, it kind of shook you.
The first time you saw it happen, you watched it from afar, like someone watching a train wreckage, fascinated yet unable to do anything about it. It was when the Rev was virulently criticizing the muslim brotherhood, stating they were not socio-democrats, making a parallel with Kerensky: Kerensky! That traitor! They are not like Kerensky ! We shall boycott the referendum in Egypt! Let us not legitimize something that can never be legitimized! And instead of pinching him and reminding him he was NOT Egyptian and therefore had little to say in the matter, let alone actually vote on it, you surprised yourself by thinking: ah Kerensky, that Menshevik. How did you know he was a Menshevik? At the time you didn’t really pay attention to it, thinking that you went to university after all and might actually remember a thing of two. When you shared your concerns with the Rev about your sense of impeding doom, he called knowing your Mensheviks from your Bolsheviks ‘the basics’ and seemed utterly unimpressed.
But the dread stayed with you.
You soon came to realized you knew the lyrics of l’Internationale. Not that you actually liked it, but still, you knew it nonetheless. Then the symptoms started piling up at an alarming rate, without you always noticing. You started having nervous fits causing you to insult the TV and throw things at it, frothing at the mouth, every time you saw Marine Le Pen on the news, while the Rev was explaining how much of a myth it was that workers voted for the far right in France and that there was a need to deconstruct this myth and make it appear that it was indeed that evil class, the petit-bourgeois, these reactionary heretics, that were to blame.
You started humming to Bella Ciao at unexpected times.
You went to a Revolutionaries meeting, and actually participated instead of rolling your eyes so far back into your head they did a 360. You did realize it was in a God Forsaken basement with a dreadful lamp giving the room a depressing light making your skin look gray and under normal circumstances, the bourgeois spoilt brat that you are would have laughed and belted it to some cozy café (Note: NOT Starbucks. Never Starbucks. You’re not that bad), but this time you stayed and actually gave some input.
At the end, the Rev, the Chair if the meeting (what else?) warmly congratulated you. The happy look on his face was the seal that translated your lingering anxiety into something articulable: you. were.on.a.slippery slope. You tried poking fun at him but your heart wasn’t in it, you had other things to worry about. What if it were irreversible and you were stuck in a state of permanent revolution, starting boring people into a stupor each time you would meet them, arguing until the Rapture about the difficult position of the left vis à vis the Syrian crisis?
As usually happens, Beirut saved you. Following four hours of flight and incessant infant screaming, you were in a right mind to 1) force feed Xanax to the next child you saw and 2) give a lecture to inapt parents about telling your child off when said four year old child was screaming for the sake of it, just to test his voice or something. The Rev, always the humanist, was playing with the kids, spotted an elderly couple and helped them with their luggage. Sneering, you spat: what now Abouna Rev, shall we wait to help more people with their children/luggage/life?
You had made fun of him AND you had called him Abouna, which is not as bad as being called a Stalinist but is still a religious title nonetheless, and we all know what the Rev thinks about organized religion.
You were back.

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How To Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head, Or Co-opting His

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The Revolutionary has been following this column with ever increasing concern now. ‘What are you saying about me again? Please make sure the facts are accurate, you never know, we might recruit more people through your series’. Needless to say, the Rev has not understood the very concept of fiction (although sometimes I wish the content of my column was fiction), and needless to say, the Rev is delusional. I’m not recruiting anyone; I’m giving out hope to fellow people living with revolutionaries. We shall overcome.

The Rev has friends. Well, he has friends and he has comrades. See, they’re not the same. Friends are long term acquaintances the Rev met when he was still debating what his ideology of choice would be, at a time when he had elected his thought leader would be Zinedine Zidane. The Rev’s friends are usually bankers or real estate brokers or other nasty uber-capitalistic specie whose eyes glaze over whenever the Rev desperately tries to make them turn to the dark revolutionary side where the cookies are fair-trade and organic (such neo-liberal terms, pah, ‘Fair Trade’ another marketing ploy to try and make people forget about the dire oppression of Southern farmers and workers). And herein lies one of the great tragedies of the Revolutionary’s life: How could he ever reconcile his beliefs with the decadent bourgeois lifestyle and belief of his long term friends? They’re his friends, he’s very loyal and he’s nothing but a humanist, I mean, he should be able to make them see the light radiating from the permanent revolution. Such an existentialist conundrum.

As it happens, the Rev’s friends flaunt their paychecks to his face before starting their brand new BMW with a bang with manic laughter, such a graze to his poor heart. They shall never understand the beauty of equality. Sadly for him, the Rev shall never give up on turning friends into Comrades. You have not yet shared with them the ultimate way to get the Rev off your back, which is to call him an oppressive Stalinist. You’re mean.

With a sigh, the Rev therefore goes to his Comrades to find solace. Comrades are people who know their Posadists from their Entrists and who can exactly pinpoint on how many levels Leon Blum was wrong. They can meet up, discuss wildly for hours why the Permanent Revolution is the best socio-political book that was ever written, like, EVER, and agree that mainstream capitalistic thought has infected the heart and minds of potential revolutionaries. They can sing l’Internationale together , translate each other’s work and share the dame sense of humour, giving out hearty guffaws and making thigh-slapping jokes you do not understand: ‘ And then he said, THIS is the real Super-Structure HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

You love the comrades. How could you not? They’re so afraid they might be accused or actually found guilty of sexism they treat you like a prized egg. Which is in itself sexism. You tell them so. You have no shame. As previously mentioned, you’re mean.

You have become highly reluctant to introduce anyone to the Rev, for after thorough assessment, more often than not, he is likely to put on a frown and close up. What’s up, you’ll ask, he’s a liberal, he’ll mumble, and manage to make it sound like an insult. No, you have understood a long time ago that being called a liberal is only third to being called a Stalinist and a social-democrat in the insult scale of the Rev. You thus hide your liberal friends for fear of him trying to ‘recruit’ them.

Recruititis: the uncontrollable compulsion to recruit people to the Party. Starts innocently enough with questions that are actually traps (Do you know where all your social rights come from? The struggle of the left, that’s where they originated from my dear fellow), then it kind of takes a life of its own with the Rev repeating self-fulfilling prophecies with the fervor of an Ayatollah on Ashoura, gently cajoling you: you’re a Comrade now, yes you are, you’re a comrade now, until you actually believe you are indeed a Comrade, without you knowing how it happened.

You could try and come to the rescue of the cornered poor soul and free him from the ever seducing claws of the Rev, only it’s decidedly too funny when it’s not happening to you.

Yes.

You’re mean.