How To Live With a Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (Or Parenting His)

I, The Rev, have become a father.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to appear as if I were in any way supporting the horrid patriarchal system that would ultimately oppress my daughter, but for now there are no other word for it: I am a father.

I keep turning the word around my mouth like a piece of candy. I think I like it almost as much as the word ‘revolution’. If I have to be honest, Karl and Leo and Rosa forgive me, I think I like it even more.

The whole birthing thing was a bit of an ordeal. I mean, Significant Comrade did shout at me a fair bit, especially when I told her that I had to go to another city to pick up Comrade Professor, to bring him to the airport after a conference he gave. In hindsight, perhaps telling her this after her water broke might not have been my best move. Kind of like Che Guevara telling Castro he did not want to be part of the Cuban government and would rather go and ignite revolution focos around the world. This kind of news are best delivered behind a shield.  I believe she might have thrown something at me, yelling that if I went ‘I’d have to bear the consequences’, which I think meant that I probably would not have gotten to be a father after all. So I had to explain things to Comrade Professor, who took it like the Marxist Leninist he is and shared my angst at Significant Comrade’s wrath. And took a taxi to the airport.

To soothe and entertain Significant Comrade, I even made a little joke about being like George Clooney in ER when I donned the full surgeon’s outfit. Significant Comrade was not pleased, and kept shouting abuse at how unfair and sexist nature was, asking everyone why it was women who had to go through all that pain and misery. I was so proud of her: in the middle of giving birth, yet challenging patriarchy and delivering passionate feminist statements right there in the middle of the ward. Keen to help, I looked into the Russian Revolution by Comrade Trotsky, as well as into Das Kapital by our Heavenly Father Marx, and even in La Femme Rompue By Comrade de Beauvoir, and yet I could not find an answer to this question. Significant Comrade seemed rather short tempered with me as I tried to discuss her points with her.

I believe it was the first time that Comrade Trotsky ever failed me. But no matter, Significant Comrade finally gave birth to an out-of-this-world child without killing me so all in all I can’t complain.

As soon as she was born, I knew that Mini Comrade was a Comrade. Her cries in the middle of the night were clearly an articulate critique of the obsolete capitalist system we’re forced to live under. Crying until purple in the face was only her way of rebelling until she could lead demos and write insightful articles and statements.

Mini Comrade’s best friend is a teddy bear wearing a Trotsky t-shirt, a gift from other comrades who felt her innate desire to stare at something beautiful all day long, i.e. the face of our deceased leader. I wanted to explain to her why he died, in the name of the Permanent Revolution, and how that low life Stalin had him executed but Significant Other doesn’t feel like it’s an appropriate story for a three months old.

Lack of sleep and added responsibilities make Significant Comrade rather edgy, I find. Just the other day, when I was dancing with my child to the sound of l’Internationale, I showed my baby’s smiley face to her mother, who just said: ‘That child has already learnt to make fun of you and most importantly, of your voice. Good girl’

I think Significant Comrade is just sore that my child has such a deep connection with the permanent revolution. She is laughing because she feels ineffable joy at listening to revolutionary hymns.

Mini Comrade had her first demo on the 8th of March for International Women’s Day, and while everyone thought she was just sleeping through it, I know she was in fact closing her eyes to take in all the oppression women have to bear on a daily basis and muster all her strength to join forces and voices with the cortege of militants contesting it. You should have seen her raise her little fist, it lasted three seconds but you could see that fist could carry a revolution ila el Nasr! To the victory!

Sometimes I  look at her and I feel that the love might choke me.

Also, imagine if she turns out to be the reincarnation of Clara Zetkin.

‘Get over yourself. She will punish you for shoving all these things down her throat by becoming a neo-liberalism advocate and going to work for the World Economic Forum’, says Significant Comrade in passing.

I would still love her is my answer, feeling like a good parent.

‘Even of she turns into a Stalinist?`

I have not slept in three days at the mere thought. Significant Comrade is just plain mean.

 

How to Live with a Pregnant Comrade Without Losing Your Head (Or Laboring Hers)

 Significant Comrade is pregnant.

 

I, the Rev, am going to become a FATHER! Not that I subscribe to the idiotic, bourgeois, reactionary model of the patriarchal family where the biological male has all the power and the privileges within the family cell and the woman is left as the proletariat of the marriage, as Comrade Engels would say. Because I don’t. Let us be clear about that.

 

If the doctors are to be believed, I’m to ‘have’ a daughter, not that she will ever be my property, not at all, or that she will necessarily identify as a ‘girl’ as portrayed by the heteronormative patriarchal society, gender being a social construct anyway as Comrade Butler explained it. She will be absolutely free to become whatever and whoever she will want to become and I’ll fiercely love her anyway. Although in hindsight, perhaps maybe not if she decides to work for the World Economic Forum or for Morgan Stanley, or if she becomes a right wing militant, or worse, a Stalinist. Imagine that. Sometimes I can’t sleep just thinking about it.

 

Huh. I realise Significant Comrade and myself will have to tread very carefully if we want to transmit our beliefs and values to our child. But then again, is sharing these with her an act of oppression? Will I be crushing her critical thinking and creativity? Have I already started? You know, because I talk to her, and read things to her, things like ‘Marx at the Margins’, the ‘old social classes and the revolutionary movements of Iraq’ and ‘Hezbollah and Hamas: A contemporary study’. I also sing to her sometimes, things like the International in French, English and Arabic, although Significant Comrade’s temper seems to be slightly shorter than usual and I kind of got yelled at. I tried Bella Ciao, thinking it might be better received, but got the Petit Manuel pour En Finir Avec le Capitalisme thrown at my face, by accident I’m sure.

 

I’m kind of getting yelled at, or cried on, quite a bit at the moment. Sometimes, I wish Comrade Trotsky would have been more of a ‘family’ man, instead of running around in Mexico with iconic painters, so he could have written a book in the vein of the Russian Revolution but on how Revolutionaries could better support their comrades during pregnancy and childbirth. Like last time, when I found the Significant Comrade crying her eyes out in front of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which is in itself a very sore subject in our marriage. I hoped she was being tearful because of the stupidity and crass consumerism of it all, but apparently it was because Kourtney was being mean to Kim. Who are these people? Who is Kourtney? Who is Kim? And why are they making my Significant Comrade cry? Sometimes I can’t help but wonder how Comrade Marx managed with Jenny. I mean, she has been pregnant seven times. Seven. Ah but look at Comrade Karl daughters, all socialist activists, translating the works of their daddy! Sometimes I wonder if my daughter shall do the same with me?

 

When I share my concerns with Significant Comrade, it seems to me that she is not quite so keen on discussing these things with me. Something to do about having enough on her own plate and how would I like to weigh a ton and be full of water and having trouble breathing, sleeping and eating? I have to say, that left me speechless. As a revolutionary, I can not speak in lieu of the oppressed, and my Comrade is clearly being oppressed. Also, when I tried and talked to Significant Comrade about the absolute need of trusting our child to make her own experiences in life and not be overly protective of her, Significant Comrade did not seem to share my views either. I believe her exact words were: ‘Listen to me you stupid Rev, are you the one being asked to expel a baby the size of a ginormous turkey from a hole the size of your nostril? HUH? HUH? Nah, I don’t think so, so you shut the fuck up and you leave me to decide when that child will be able to start with her own experiments with life and that is never, or not until she’s 30 anyway, the world is filled with serial killers and sexual predators’. Which I thought was a bit much, in all fairness, but I thought it best not to argue.

Now that I’m about to become a dad, I value my life.

I am nevertheless hoping that the revolution will prevail soon so that patriarchy and neo-liberalism become things of the past and so I’m trying twice as hard to make it happen before she turns 5. Time is running out my Comrades, let us build a whole new world.

 

Sometimes, when I try and lay my plans for the triumph of revolutionary socialism to the Significant Comrade, she just hugs her pregnancy pillow (which she dubbed ‘her new husband, but I am fine with that, as I do not own my Significant Comrade. Also, it’s a pillow) and tells me to shut up and go to sleep. ‘Your child will be a Menchevik anyway’, she said.

 

And here I am, eyes wide open in the dark. What if she is?  

How to Live with a Revolutionary without Losing your Head – Or PhDing His

Over the past few months, the Rev did not disappear. On the contrary, he seemed to be everywhere around you, writing his PhD THESIS. Which for the Rev isn’t much different than his usual state of being, meaning that he was buried deep between two towers of books that pretty much looked the same to you with titles like: ‘Hezbollah, a discourse’, ‘Hezbollah, a discourse within the discourse’ and ‘Hezbollah, why they are not socialist revolutionaries’ with the occasional reference to Hamas thrown in for the fun of it. All attempts made at talking to the Rev were also met with the following: mmmmm? Grunt. What? Grunt. What did you say? Grunt. Followed by some more muttering to himself that seemed to go like: ‘oh no, my thesis is about 150 000 more words it needs to be, I need to cut it, despair, despair’.
You know you shouldn’t have laughed, but truth be told, you could not help but remember when you used to tell the Rev his articles were too long and people did not have the time or energy to read papers before going to bed on a work day. The Rev is a man of many (leftist) words, and somehow that doesn’t seem to have reached the university guidelines.
– Ah well, he says. I’ll just turn the long version into a book.
Oh goody.

Over these past months, the rev also went to conferences.Mostly to scare people off with his rhetoric,but also sometimes to participate and listen. You foolishly went with him (only sometimes, no need to push it), only to be faced with comrades making jokes you don’t understand about Campists (and neither does my word processor who just underlined the very word and wants to replace it by ‘campsite’). Apparently, campism has nothing to do with Comrades going off camping in some nice place like normal people, but refers to a Trotskyist (who the fuck else?) concept of people who either defend Stalinism or capitalism. Needless to say, Comrade Trotsky and his ilk refuse Campism and oppose both.
Or something like that, but it’s entirely possible I misunderstood (mostly because I don’t care), so please do not take my word for it.
Campists or not, you mildly appreciated it when a largely inebriated crowd of comrades sang The International, no sorry, sorry the ENTIRE International below your window at 4 in the morning in a bout of revolutionary fervor during one week end long Summer University. Suddenly, you had very warm feelings towards social democrats. The Rev swears he wasn’t amongst them. You don’t believe him. He’s only saying this so you don’t become a socialist.

The Rev also went to the Grand Mass of Marxism, namely, to Marxism. For those blessed enough not to know, Marxism is a significant conference organised by the Socialist Workers Party in the UK where people like the Rev meet and discuss heatedly the issues of the day like knowing if the USSR was governed by state capitalism or was in fact a degenerated workers states. Basically the Rev’s idea of heaven (that is, if he were religious, which he isn’t, although he respects people who are, as religion fills a certain social need. Or something)The Rev, bless his heart, sent me a text from Marxism telling me: ‘I’m attending a conference on the reasons behind the failing of the Russian Revolution. You’d have loved it’.
To which I answered that I would so totally have loved it, and thanked him profusely for offering me my next Facebook status.
I don’t bite the hand that feeds me.
Plus The Rev came back with gifts: a Rosa Luxembourg T-shirt for you, A ‘Marx was right’ mug for him and a Che Guevara t-shirt for your child. That she’ll be able to wear when she’s about 12 because ‘there was no smaller size and so he bought an S’.

Yes, against your better judgement,you are now in your 6th month of pregnancy with the Rev’s child.
He’s pretty excited about it too: he’s already planning on reading Trotsky to her (to which I have no objection, I’m sure it’ll send that poor kid right off to sleep) (No says the Rev, no! she’ll love it! She won’t be a reactionary like you!)
To prove his point, he started reading out to her ‘Marx at the Margins’. After the first couple of words, she kicked. The Rev thinks it was out of delight, You think she was just attempting at kicking her father, in a desperate attempt at making him stop.

The fact that you’re already planning on raising her as a feminist isn’t remotely the same as the Rev trying to turn her into a socialist revolutionary. You’re doing it to liberate her from the shackles of patriarchal oppression. He’s just doing it to bug you.

In any case, your child will do what children do best: rebel and go against you.
In your case, she’ll probably be working at Wall Street, advocating for more laws and regulations preventing women to have control over their own body.

You obviously can’t wait.

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You Are Not My Comrade

The world social forum is a ginormous gathering of people thinking creatively together and sharing ideas to create a more just, equal world.

Or so they’ll have you believe. Participating in the opening march, I found myself severely thorn. The march was aimed, as all marches, at reclaiming the streets but also , on a more specific level, at demonstrating to governments preaching austerity measures, oppression, discrimination and neo-liberal policies than another world is possible, that standing in solidarity with all people of the world was possible, and that us, the people, were to become one and fight the capital back.

Oh sure, you had more Comrades than your eyes could handle, you had your usual Che Guevara wanna-bes (I almost wrote lookalikes here, but then thought better of it) and you had your various flags and banners, all calling for more solidarity, more self-determination,more peace).
Among which, flags and banners of Pro-Bashar Syria, with pictures of Bashar to match, with ‘we’re all with you’ slogans to boot.
Now Oxfam marching away as if they owned the place (which they probably do, given than they’re one of the main donors of the world social forum, along with the French Institute and Bread for the World (imperialism? Neo-colonialism? What? Where?)) I could probably stomach, regardless of the fact that the irony of the presence of an organization feeding a 100% into the neoliberal paradigm of NGOs slowly taking on the economic and social duties of the state at such a march was apparently lost on them. I could even stomach, albeit with some difficulty, the countless people wearing Hugo Chavez T-shirts and his pictures, calling him Commandante as if he fought alongside Lenin in the Russian Revolution, even if these people seemed totally oblivious that the world social forum was taking place in a region that has direly and is still direly suffering from the catastrophic effects of dictatorships and that aforementioned Commandante was one of the closest and fiercest supporter and friend of Gaddafi and Al Assad. I can understand Venezuelans value Chavez for the improvement of their socio-economic conditions he brought to his country. I do. What I don’t understand is the very basic anti-imperialism rampant in the left that makes every little middle finger extended to the USA and Israel a supreme act of anti-imperialism that deserves reverence by all.
It is this minimal and quite limited understanding of anti-imperialism that leads some leftists to remain staunch supporters of perpetrators of monstrosities such as Gaddafi and Al Assad. I won’t even bother to go into the details of how much considering Al Assad an anti-imperialist is wrong. News update my comrades, imperialism and neo-colonialism can also be performed by other states than the US, and in the case of Syria, I don’t recall Al Assad opposing the imperialist tendencies of Iran and Russia. As for neo-liberal policies, I will only refer you to this article, explaining at great length how much Al Assad’s policies created a greater class divide, how much whatever economic ‘improvement’ and integration within the globalized economy only benefited a small clique of big cities bourgeoisie. Surely that’s not how Comrade Marx intended socialism and communism, am I right?
As of those still living in the delusion that Assad is opposing Zionism and will free Jerusalem, kindly inform me what he has done to free his own territory, the Golan, before he takes on freeing Palestine. Apparently there are plenty of ammunition to kill and slaughter his people but there are none available to free the Golan.

It is for all these reasons that I do not get the enormous pictures of Al Assad within the world social forum March. It is because war crimes are happening, it is because mass slaughters are happening, it is because peaceful resistance and opposition were met with ferocious repression, torture and unlawful use of force that I do not get, my sweet Comrade, how you can smoke your oh so not subversive weed, look me in the eyes, and tell me that we’re all with Assad, the great anti-imperialist.

Surely, my Comrade, this is not how Comrade Marx intended it?

How to Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head: Or Beiruting His

The Rev is back. Not that I had felt his adventures would be gone forever, but at some point you have to evolve past the bourgeois witticism and actually get your hands dirty in the Revolution.
Which I did, but let’s face it, I am worse than useless with an AK-47 and much more apt at sitting on my privileged ass and observe the dynamics propelling the Revolutionary at the heart of the struggle.
While we have been busy with other things, the Rev has been deepening his understanding of The Cause and The Revolution. The Rev has even moved for a while and lived in Beirut for a year. You thought you’d have a year long honeymoon. He thought he could get closer to the centre of the revolutions shaking the Middle East. You thought you’d travel around Lebanon for the scenery and the people. He thought he’s travel around Lebanon to interview trade unions activists and fellow revolutionaries.
Clearly, you had the same expectations. Same wavelength anyone?

The Rev arrived in Beirut a bit worried: I mean, Lebanon really has a long standing tradition of conservatism and a neo-liberal, ugly capitalist economy. Ah but never fear, for historical materialism is applicable everywhere, and Comrade Trotsky would never allow you to despair! Let us be like Comrade Guevara and ignite focos everywhere, even at the heart of the counter-revolution!

Now you have only been once to the Lebanese Amn el 3am, and didn’t like the experience too much. The place could have had TORTURE CENTRAL written all over it, it was so bleak and testosterony and miserable. However, all of a sudden, you started imagining the rev getting arrested, beaten up and locked up in a cell somewhere. I mean, all this bashing of the police and security forces could not possible do him any good: this unit? A sectarian cell! And this one? An even more sectarian institution! Down down with the sectarian system down!

You lost a bit of weight, naturally, from having your stomach knotted in a nice little bow of anxiety, which was only made worse by him insisting he needed to go to Nabatiyeh, Zahleh and other places to interview obscure leaders of obscure factions. But the Rev could not confine himself in Beirut. I mean, Beirut is all well and dandy but there are other fields to discover, other souls to awaken to the wonders of the Permanent Revolution. You let him go, then started worrying after him not calling you. You’d think he was being held, or that he had a car crash on Dahr El Baydar, or worse, that he had finally gave in, joined one faction and started his military training. Eventually, he’d call: ‘Hi! Sorry! I was having such an interesting conversation! Then they kept me for Siyadiyyeh! Then I tried to convince them that Stalinists were an ugly breed and that they needed to join the 4th international’!

The Rev could not be in Lebanon and not go to the Palestinian camps. You went with him once. You wanted to, alternatively, lie down and weep, kill Lebanese authorities, burn dawalib and stomp your feet, screaming it’s not fair! It’s disgusting! Shame on the country who keeps human beings in such a state! Tfouh! Tfeh! Akh! Needless to say, you were utterly useless.
The Rev, however, because he is enlightened by the warmth of the Revolution and inhabited by the spirit of Comrade Trotsky, knew exactly how to behave. In no time, he knew everyone in the camp, played football with kids (whom he annoyed, I mean the kids wanted to play football, he wanted to use football in order to share excerpts of the book he’s working on, Comrade Trotsky at the Kolkhoze, a kind of Children’s book with barn animals except in this one agricultural workers owned their means of production) and was having tea under the flag of the Jabha Sha3biyye, bemoaning the death of Comrade Habash. You know, as you do.

Just a regular day in the life of the Rev.

Now aren’t you happy the rev is back? Stay Tuned, for the Rev had much more adventures in Beirut!

How to Live With A Revolutionary Without Losing Your Head (or P-Diddying His)

Chapter #10: On the Revolutionary’s murky past

The revolutionary would love to believe that he was born with a copy of Das Kapital in the right hand and a copy of the Bible (aka the Permanent Revolution) in the left (what else?) one. Given the present situation of the revolutionary, as in, him living and breathing and talking the Revolution, you would tend to believe it too.

Muhahahaha.

You just could not be more wrong. Being the thorough writer that I am (another myth, perhaps?), I did my very own little research and found out that some God-awful, truly counterrevolutionary actions lie in the realms of the revolutionary murky past. But I’m no one to kiss and tell now am I? Ooooooh right okay, then maybe I am. If he asks, you did not get this from me. I’d probably quite literally never ever hear the end of it. “How could you?!!!! I mean, this has ruined my Rev Cred for life! And by the way, you’re just misinformed, this did not happen this way, nothing is black and white and you can explain my actions through the power struggles over the means of production blah blah blah”.

Brother, you won’t ideologise yourself out of that one.

The revolutionary hasn’t always been a real one. Not if you count working for a bank as an utmost counter revolutionary act anyway. Now the revolutionary will most likely tell you he worked – oh ever so briefly- in a bank to study the evil capitalist system up close. See, to counter the awful oppressive system, you need to know it inside out, he’ll argue. Elaborate your strategy based on a thorough study of your enemy and all that. That what he’ll tell you anyway. Clearly explained as it may, you still have some strong doubts regarding the credibility of these assertions. You’re much more leaning towards a much simpler, much straightforward interpretation: He did it (Oh Forgive him, Comrade Trotsky, for he knew not what he did) for the money and the women. Which he’ll deny, naturally. Don’t be fooled, you’ll have the pictures to prove it anyway.

Wanna be banker is not the only suspicious label that revolutionary sported. Once upon a time, the Rev thought he was P-Diddy (or Puff Daddy, as he was called back in the days), the same way he now thinks he’s Comrade Trotsky. He used to sing along to “I need a girl”, dress in bizarre outfits (baggy sweat pants tucked – er, why?- in a sock, yes, just one, for asymmetry or something), make all sorts of weird hip gestures with his hands and refer to women using interesting slang words that my feminist conscience forbids me to use, overally thinking he was IT. Money and bling do occupy the Revolutionary’s past, much to his desolation and despair, and no matter how passionately he will try and make you think all these things never happened, that he’s a feminist and a humanist, do not believe him. Yes people, the Rev used to be a lost cause, but one day, his path crossed Comrade Said’s, and he was Born Again.

So what happened there? How does one turn from banker/lover to Revolutionary? Was the revolutionary struck by Trotsky lightning one night, making him realise J-Lo and P-Diddy bling was utterly oppressive to the people and he had to lose the gold jewellery, spiky hair and pseudo East Coast codes and replace them with the Bible and a Kuffiyeh? We might never know, but we can always thank Comrade Trotsky for making the revolutionary stop thinking he can rap, thus liberating the people from awful sound pollution. Now he just sings l’Internationale, all signs of complicated hands gestures vanished, his fist pointed to the sky, the sickle and hammer shining in his feverish eyes.

You honestly don’t know what you prefer.