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.

 

Where I Try to Speak to My Unborn Child. In a Letter.

Dearest unborn child,

You and I are in the final home stretch of our journey together as an entity of one. Or one and a half, if you look at my profile.

In about six weeks (or less, if you decide to show up before, which i don’t advise you to do, please keep baking, Mama is not equipped to see you in an incubator), you will hopefully, inshallah, please God (Mama is also superstitious and overly anxious, just so you know where you’re landing), show your little face to the world.

I hardly can believe it, yet can’t wait to meet you. In advance of your great debut as part of humanity, I’d like to apologize for all the throwing up and shaking you I did over these nine months, and while I’m at it, for all the anxiety and stress I put you through. I’m sure that can’t have been too enjoyable for you. Rest assured it wasn’t for me either, but what can you do? we are quite literally in the same boat.

I can’t wait to see what you’ll be like, can’t wait to get to know your character and your quirks and what annoys you and what will make you laugh. It really is as simple as that: somehow I am making a person and I’d really like to meet and greet that person. Your father is as impatient as me, he has a lot to teach you, apparently producing Trotsky Explained to Children books is high up next on his to do list, and I am under the impression that you’ll be the first (last? only?) child benefiting from that collection.

Darling child, Bringing you into this world doesn’t come without a dose of guilt, especially when I look at the current state of the world. We’re bringing you to a place that’s rife with conflict and heartbreak and displacement and violence and inequalities and hatred. Put this way, it seems rather unfair to bring yet another human being in such a mess. Perhaps We were being selfish when we decided to try and have you, but we rationalized it, thinking we might bring another Frida Kahlo or De Beauvoir to this world, or at the very least make the world a little nicer for your mere presence in it. And I truly believe this, although my opinion doesn’t really matter, after all I am your mother, of course my world is going to be brighter because you are in it. We also hoped that we would be able to show you all the glorious and gorgeous beauty in this world, all the solidarity, and courage, and love and friendship and music, smiles and laughters that world can hold.

Will you like me? I mean, you kind of have to like me at first, and your father as well, because we will be the ones caring for you so you won’t really have a choice, it’s either that or no milk, but as you grow up, will you like me, like us? Will you like the people we turned out to be?

There are so many things that I’d like to fight within me to make your life sweeter. I’d like to fight my continuous anxiety to enable you to explore the world with your own antennas, to form your own opinions, to be your own person,to give you enough confidence to know that no matter what, wherever i will be, the only true spot I’ll forever be rooted in is your heart, and that I’ll be safely tucked there as you’re tucked into mine. I’d like to participate in building your confidence in yourself and in others, to be open, and curious, and to questions situations, ideas, things, people. I’d love to help you get a sense of justice, and to teach you to fight for it, with the conscience of your own privileges, without smothering you, without shoving my ideas down your throat, without you feeling that I’m pushing ideas onto you that do not agree with your own conclusions.

Seriously, this parenting thing is a motherfucker. How does one do that?

I’d love for you to be proud of me. We always talk about parents being proud of their children, but honestly, think of how excruciating it would be to have your child look at you with disappointment. I could not hold that gaze. I’ll try my best to remain my own person, to contradict the messages you’ll no doubt hear and maybe pick up from the patriarchal society we live in. I vow to try and show you that a woman doesn’t need to be dependent on anyone, that she can hold her own, that she can dress as she pleases without anyone being entitled to say anything to her or aggravate her, that she is the mistress of her own mind and body, and that courage and strength are not masculine values. Don’t ever let anyone limit you because you’re a girl, or you’re young or whatever. Don’t let anyone limit you and your potential, period. And that includes me.

I hope I’ll be able to wrap you in a blanket of infinite and endless love, so that you’ll always have a place where you’ll feel safe.
I hope you never doubt that I’ve got your back, no matter what.
I hope to meet and greet you in six weeks and start off our journey together, your tiny fist already raised in protest.

Also, if you could be kind and not excruciatingly hurt me during labor, that’d be greatly appreciated.

With love,
Mama

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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How to Live with a Revolutionary (and your family) without losing your head (or defecting to North Korea)

When the Rev entered your life, some time around his Nahda period ( the turn of the 19th century Arab Nahda kind of Nahda not the Tunisian kind if Nahda, whom of course the Rev is highly suspicious of, what with them being an ersatz of the Muslim Brotherhood and what with all their awful neo-liberal policies), you did not think politics would come into play, nor were you much worried about him getting along with your family. I mean, you were young and in love, you did not think of these things.
As it transpired, perhaps you should have.
You see, You have a post Arab nationalist of a father who really, really wanted to believe in Michel Aflaq then got disappointed and who you believe has a secret admiration for Hassan Nasrallah and an apolitical mother for whom nothing and no one really existed after Bashir Gemayel ( I know. I’m not proud either). As for your sister, all she speaks about is refugees, especially children, welling up about them most of the times. As it happens, she barely reaches the Rev’s knees so most of the times he can’t even hear her anyway.
Well, and of course you have the Rev, a proud socialist revolutionary who can quote Comrade Trotsky, Comrade Lenin and Comrade Saïd in one go, muttering endlessly about neo-liberalism and orientalism and its cousin, orientalism in reverse.
When all your loved ones get together, it can indeed, get pretty, er, shall we say, interesting.
While the Rev would companionably sit down and eat my father’s hummus, for every revolutionary has common human needs, your mother would eye him suspiciously. Was he or was he not Christian? As it happens, the Rev is an atheist who only acknowledges the presence of Jesus Christ in the framework of the Theology of the Liberation, when Jesus becomes Comrade JC. You know your mother would ask questions. You know she would not like the answers. You know you want your peace of mind and Comrade JC simply won’t give it to you, so you lunge like Harry Potter reaching for the Snitch, get that piece of kebbe and unceremoniously shove it into the Rev’s face, gluing his lips together, giving you plenty of time to redirect the inquisitive stare of your mother towards you. Well done. Be proud. You’ve avoided the first land mine.
On to coffee, where the second landmine awaits, a much, much bigger one, namely, the revolutions in the Middle East North Africa region. You see, the clue is in the name. The Rev is, well, a revolutionary, who shall defend the legitimacy and righteousness of the revolution until his last breath. Your father is convinced every ills befalling the region is Israel/The US’s fault. The rev will say the revolutions are a product of a long term mass popular mobilization against the growing social inequalities coupled with oppressive, authoritarian states. Your father will say all of this is turning into an Islamist Fest and who does it benefit? Israel and its sinister ally, the US. To which the Rev would try and answer that Palestine is Immortal and that of course Israel is a colonial, oppressive state but that there are materialistic conditions to take into account when analyzing the revolutions. Your father: I’m telling you. It’s a conspiracy. The Americans have a plan. They always have.
To which the Rev usually can not answer much because by that time you’d flung your niece across the stairs just to create a diversion, leaving everyone to gather around her giggling self to make sure she’s ok (you didn’t fling her hard, your sister would rant even more about children).
As it happens, enough sparks of revolutions were emitted from the Rev for your parents to understand who they were dealing with. Your mother now knows he’s an atheist and she calls him every Sunday morning to try and entice him to at least watch the Sunday mass on the Telly. He gently explains to her the Theology of the Liberation, she asks God why she had to have an atheist, leftist Son-in-law while she was such a good Christian and these thins are sent to try us. And the Rev hangs up, watching tele foot (for football is the only acceptable alternative to reading Marx).
– Your mother called, we had a good chat, I think she really is coming around on the Theology of the Liberation.
You pick up the phone, sighing, to assess the damage while he grins at you, blissfully oblivious of the very obvious crisis on your hand. Your mother laughs on the phone. The rev can actually get away with what he wants.
You barricade yourself in your room. I mean. You’re lucky you have me. No one told ME living with a revolutionary was so exhausting.

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.

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.

 

A Day in the Life of The Revolutionary

A day in the life of a Revolutionary

07:30: Alarm rings. The Revolution never sleeps, why should the Rev? And by extension, why should you?

07:31: Opens eyes. Asks you if you’re a socialist revolutionary. You’re a 28 year old highly tired woman who hasn’t had her coffee yet. Your eyes still closed, you say no. You distinctly remember mumbling something along the lines of ‘fuck off, you and the revolution’

07:35: Anguish. He’s married to a bourgeois reactionary. How did that happen?

07:36: No point in dwelling on this, after all, isn’t he supposed to attract people as much as he can to the cause? He shall overcome. Gets out of bed.

07:37: Turns on YouTube. Puts on his playlist ‘Revolutionary Songs for the Revolutionary’.

07:38: L’Internationale blaring from the computer for the whole world to hear. Enters showers. Starts singing.

07:39 – 08:20: Showers, get dressed, while you’re being treated to Bella Ciao, L’Internationale, Na7na El Thawra Wou El Ghadab, complete with his own voice and a little dance routine. Murderous thoughts threaten to choke you.

08:25: Practices mock speeches in front of mirror to other make believe revolutionaries. You tell him he looks like a rambling dictator. Abruptly stops, looking wounded. He has woken you at an ungodly hour to the sound of L’internationale. You consider yourself entitled to hurt him. You have no shame. You live to vex him.

08:30: Asks you again if you’re a socialist revolutionary. Tells you you have the thinking already, and that the step from feminist to socialist revolutionary is really quite minimal.

08:32: Applies band aid to where your shoe hit him.

08:35: Makes you coffee.

08:36: Sits in front of computer for the daily ‘Revue de Presse’.

08:37: You break a glass, cut yourself, noisily look for a pretty band aid, burn yourself with your hair straighteners, call your mother who yells in the phone as if you were in Zimbabwe (while she actually lives 30 minutes away from you). Rev doesn’t budge.

11:00: Finishes reading up daily press round up. Newspapers in English, French and Arabic have been read, shared on Facebook, insipid authors have been duly insulted, inept so-called political leaders (real oppressors, sucking the blood of the people, more like) have been exposed. All geared up for next attack.

11:00-12:30: Updates blogs. Keeps finding new photos, writes new articles. ‘This is the real face of the revolution, not the crap mainstream media is showing! Let Us show the truth’

12:30: Doesn’t eat. Having lunch is for bourgeois capitalist who have the luxury of time. The Revolution can’t wait.

12:35: Calls you. Asks if you’re a socialist revolutionary. You tell him his persistence reminds you of the black days of Stalinism, and would Comrade Trotsky approve of this oppression he’s exerting.

12:36: Whimpers. Did you just call him a STALINIST????

12:36-18:36: Reads.Writes.Researches. Reads. Writes.Researches. Occasionally speaks to self and computer. Reads. Writes.Researches. Reads.Writes.Researches.Sends emails to political groups admonishing them for lack of activism. ‘I want the flyer ready for this Saturday, I insist, we need to spend the afternoon traipsing after people, pressing it on them until they’re too scared to refuse’. ‘Did you do the flyer? Did you?’ ‘Ce n’est pas sérieux!’

19:00: Has dinner with you. Artfully leaves books on the hope that you’ll read them. You toss the anthology of the Bund aside and very purposefully open a stupid novel in front of him.

19:05: Starts actually telling you about the Bund.

19:06: Gently removes your head from the oven, promises he’ll stop, then takes off for Revolutionary meeting.

23:30: Comes back. Wakes you up ‘we’ve had a fantastic idea! We’re gonna do a flash mob, a round table and a demo on Saturday afternoon! yes! At the same time! Yes!’

23:35: Skulk as you told him no one will come to the three at the same time and why does he like waking you up all the time? Why?

23:40: Starts first Skype call of the night with Comrades abroad. Half asleep, you hear some ‘jokes’: ‘And THEN! I Told him he was an entrist! HAHAHAHAHAHA’. You believe you were facepalming in your dream.

02:40: Finally turns off light. Gives you a kiss.

02:41: In the dark. All his blissfully silent.

02:42: Asks you if you’re a socialist revolutionary.

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 Committing His)

Chapter 11: On Ideology (Coming back to Bite The Rev in The Ass)

Essentialism, Definition: Essentialism is a generalization stating that certain properties possessed by a group (e.g. people, things, ideas) are universal, and not dependent on context. Needless to say, Comrade Said and the Revolutionary do not approve.

For those of you who follow the hectic life of the Revolutionary, you already know that it’s difficult keeping up with him. The risks of being contaminated are limitless, and soon enough, you will find yourself talking about essentialism, quoting Comrade Said and Comrade Trotsky right, left and center.

However, beware: this isn’t because you’ve actually cracked under the pressure and gave in and started reading the Bible (last time I explain: by Bible, we here mean the Permanent Revolution by Comrade Trotsky and NOT the religious book). This is merely because the Revolutionary repeats the same concepts and arguments so many times that your poor brain has now integrated them effortlessly, and you now dub anything essentialist, reactionary and/or counter-revolutionary 1) just to shut him up and 2) because now, you can.

The Revolutionary isn’t exactly happy about that.

While his mission is indeed to spread the Gospel of the Revolution (No! Not in a religious way! We are not proselytes! What we’re trying to do here is simply awakening and mobilising the masses!), the Revolutionary would like to see dedicated revolutionaries-to-be using these concepts and gathering people, not his entourage recuperating the much beloved revolutionary discourse to have a good laugh.

No no no, this is absolutely NOT going according to plan! This is simply too much to bear for the revolutionary: on the one hand he has his banker friends using the word “struggle” to explain everything and anything, and on the other hand he’s finding his (working in a bank, Great Apostle of Capitalism) sibling explaining his own version of essentialism. As in:

– Revolutionary: Banks are all looking for their own profits while not giving a damn about people! You can’t talk about ethics in the global financial system! The whole system is corrupt and needs change and reform! See where Money Men like you are driving us!

– Capitalist, remaining calm: Are you generalising on bankers? You can’t do that. This is essentialism.

To which the Revolutionary will choke and suffocate on: is the struggle against essentialism being recuperated and used against the noble quest of equality? But, but this is evil! Damn those reactionary counter-revoltuionary forces! They’ve already recycled the Che for mercantile purposes and now that! Such Utter Disgrace!

Once more, the Rev will find himself struggling.

And it’s not like his hardships and hurdles stop there.

Keen to prove he’s a revolutionary each and every steps of the way, there is no worse insult for the Rev than to imply he might not be. As a feminist, you might point out some patriarchal attitudes that remain in the Rev’s behaviour (after all, he IS a man, and society hasn’t left him out of its share of masculine privilege), to which he’ll object, all indignant: I’m a feminist! I’m a revolutionary! I support all oppressed people in the world! Men, Women, Animal! Gender is a social construct! What else can I say?

You might think that’s nice, but try and endure a whole movie in which the main actress fights against patriarchy with the Rev whispering next to you: See, I’m not like that, I’m there for you, I encourage you, I support you huh? huh? huh?

You however feel for the Revolutionary (well, most of the times): Can you imagine the stress and pressure he’s continuously under?

Beware, people: Ideology kills.

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.