All your favorite holiday specials are anti-capitalist

A Christmas Carol

Scrooge is a capitalist. He is the type of person who would be called a "job creator" today. He makes a ton of money and he hoards it. He's basically a caricature of an Ayn Rand character (because Ayn Rand's characters totally aren't caricatures already), written 62 years before she was even born. He's so rapaciously capitalist that it was probably inevitable that Disney turned him into a hero.

After Scrooge has been haunted by the ghosts of Christmas Present, Past, and Future, what does he suddenly become concerned in? Higher workers wages. Healthcare for the families of his employees. Giving out free meals to the poor. In essence, Socialism*. God would bless us, every one, if God wasn't a creation of the bourgeoisie to keep the proletariat in check, Tiny Tim.

*You could, theoretically, make the argument that Scrooge is not so much a socialist as a sudden convert to trickle-down economics.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

This anarcho-Christian fable shows children acting like rapacious capitalists. Sally wants "tens and twenties" for Christmas. Lucy wants "real estate." As Charlie Brown and Linus leave the school play to shop for Christmas trees, everyone demands fake, gaudy aluminum trees. This line even gets busted out:

Linus, the story's left-wing hero, explains that "Christmas has not only gotten too commercial, it's gotten too dangerous." He then gives a speech about the true meaning of Christmas. This shouldn't be called A Charlie Brown Christmas. It should be called The Kingdom of God is Within You, Charlie Brown!

It's a Wonderful Life

I mean, the main villain is a capitalist banker who is trying to destroy the protagonist's dream of building a housing project. Next.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

We all know the Dr. Suess was a treehugging commie, right? The Lorax is an insidious attempt at subliminally turning all of our children into virulent anti-capitalists, and Yertle the Turtle was actually used as anti-fascist propaganda in the Second World War.

The Grinch has become the second most-cited Christmastime villain, along with that other great capitalist, Scrooge. The Grinch, a small-hearted furry who lives in a swanky mountain mansion above Whoville, despises their hand-holding, peacenik communitarianism, and looks to cure them of it by depriving them of material goods. But what the Grinch learns is that the heart of the revolution comes from its people, and that impoverishing them will only make them stronger. The revolution is coming. It cannot be stopped.

Home Alone & Home Alone 2

Far be it from me to suggest that these movies are one and the same in terms of structure or plot, but they both carry the same message: adults - i.e. "the man" or "the system" - are incompetent, dumb, or criminal, and children - i.e. anarchy and chaos - will inevitably win the day.

A Christmas Story

One of the most chilling anti-capitalist fables is A Christmas Story, a cautionary tale in which a middle class family's constant grasping for material things - leg lamps, Zeppelins, Red Rider BB Guns - is disrupted by their lower class neighbors starving dogs. The allegories in this movie just keep coming: Santa - the capitalist symbol of Christmas - is portrayed as demonic and uncaring. The Father futilely grasps at a higher standing in life, not recognizing that his status symbol, the leg lamp, is gaudy and obnoxious, and was doomed from the beginning. Ralphie is conned into believing that his mindless radio entertainment was ever anything more than just a cynical attempt to sell him Ovaltine. A grim reminder if there ever was one that underneath the shiny facade of capitalist society lies a dangerous, violent world of bullying, greed, and shattered dreams.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

A more lighthearted communist tale, Rudolph admits that sure, materialism is nice, but it deftly points out that those outside or beneath the capitalist system are callously cast aside to the so-called "Island of Misfit Toys." Those misfits (shall we call them a "vanguard"?) then save the day when a climate related disaster of excessive fog causes the fragile, materialistic holiday to collapse. Is it a coincidence that Rudolph's nose is red? You be the judge.

The US overthrew a government because bananas!

There is a dark, secret organization at the uppermost echelons of American government that is tasked with the job of protecting America’s most important values while the rest of us live our lives in blissful ignorance. They are the CIA. The CIA’s deepest, darkest secret is not the Bay of Pigs or the identities of countless agents in the field, but what, in fact, America’s most important values actually are. Sure, you’re familiar with the standard ones: Freedom, equality, justice for all. What you are notfamiliar with is the most important American value. The one that takes precedence over all others. The one that we will do literally anything for:

Poop regularity.

You may laugh, but a simple examination of American language shows that it has seeped into our everyday speech.

Bumper stickers shout, “These colors don’t run.

One who is considered to be upstanding has “moral fiber.”

During the Cold War, Soviet citizens who escaped to the United States were casually referred to as “defectors,” which was a shortening of the word “defecator,” which had been a secret title used for identifying other Revolutionaries in 18th Century America. “United States of America,” of course, is an anagram of “It defecates to a anus rim.”1

All of this is important context for understanding what would otherwise be one of the United States’ most absurd, morally bankrupt interventions in history: the 1954 overthrow of the Democratically elected Guatemalan government by the CIA and the United Fruit Company, now known as Chiquita.

You know, mostly guilt-free. Photo: Dawn Huczek

You know, mostly guilt-free. Photo: Dawn Huczek

In the 1930’s, the United States let it’s second most important value (“freedom”) take a back seat when it supported the installation of brutal Guatemalan dictator, General Jorge Ubico. In return, Ubico gave significant tracts of land to the United Fruit Company, and allowed abusive labor practices that gave UFC significant profit margins. But the Guatemalan people — who presumably also value poop regularity — overthrew Ubico in 1944 to prevent the mass export of all of their high-in-fiber bananas to the United States, and less importantly, to end his fascist and kleptocratic policies of forced labor, police state violence against dissidents, and institutionalized racism against the indigenous peoples.

For the next ten years, Guatemala was run by democratically elected leftists, who instituted labor laws, land reforms, literacy programs, and granted voting rights to nearly everyone. But the land reforms involved the seizure of land that hadn’t been cultivated by the UFC (by which I mean the United Fruit Company, not the Ultimate Fighting Champ, though that would also make an interesting story), so the UFC asked the United State government to orchestrate a coup against the second elected leader, Jacobo Arbenz.

Normally the United States would say, “No, that’s ridiculous. Countries can do what they like with their land and grow the fuck up,” but United Fruit had two advantages: the first was that Americans would stop pooping properly if deprived of cheap, moral-fiber-rich bananas, which the US government could not allow, and the second, much less important point was that John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State, and his brother Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA, had been receiving money from the United Fruit Company for decades after doing legal work for them prior to their government positions. Normally, this would have been a horrifying conflict of interest, but a country that poops together stays together, so any moral dilemmas were superseded in the interest of America’s bowel well-being.

The overthrow of Arbenz was followed by 42 years of brutal right-wing dictatorships and civil war, including a massive genocide of indigenous peoples by the military and a total of nearly 200,000 dead. The overthrow of Arbenz was also what radicalized Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, who is credited with pushing Fidel Castro from being a simple Cuban nationalist to being a full-blown Marxist.

All of this would have been a stain on the history and integrity of the United States if the prevention of a nationwide constipatory crisis wasn’t of the utmost importance. I mean, without poop, this entirely story would be absurd.

1. I swear to god, everything after “it defecates a anus rim” in this article is true. I mean, “it defecates a anus rim,” is actually an anagram of “United States of America,” but I don’t have any conclusive proof which one followed the other.

Victory in Europe

Today was Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, which is when the Allied forces finally defeated the Germans in World War II.  I spent my day, rather fittingly, touring the beaches of Normandy, where the Allied invasion of France – the one that resulted, ultimately, in the defeat of the Nazis – began.

I have the same basic feelings about war as I have about getting my asshole waxed.  I don’t really want the experience, but I want to see what it feels like afterwards.  I usually think of myself as a lovable coward, but it’s hard to know what I’m really like in extreme situations because I generally go out of my way to avoid them.

But today, I stood at the edge of the tide on Omaha Beach.  The beach is shallow, so while at high tide, the waterline is up by the dunes, at low tide, it’s several hundred yards out.  That space is flat and featureless, and on the hills above, you can see the cement remains of gun pillboxes pointing down at the beach.  Those pillboxes would be a very good place to shoot little pieces of hot metal out of in a menacing manner.

Standing at the edge of the tide, I thought, “Yup, I’m a coward.”  Throughout the day, me and my Dad would trade facts we knew about D-Day, and the rest of my family and I had long discussions about the nature of war, whether a war could be just, and where, possibly, they might sell good cheese sandwiches.

Part of me wished that, while I was standing on the beach, I could slip through a wormhole and onto that beachhead nearly 70 years ago, under (and possibly on) fire.  I’d like to see if I would shit my pants.  I’m pretty sure I would, even allowing for a moment of orientation after my time travel.

I’ve thought excessively about war, and about what causes I’d be willing to fight and die for.  I would not be willing to fight and die blindly for my country, as the title of my blog might suggest.  I do have a lifelong love of supporting underdogs, though, so I can see myself as being quite amenable to fighting fascists to the death.  Whether I could do so without soiling my pants is another matter.

Another thing I noticed about Normandy was that most of the American graves were crosses, except for the few with the Star of David.  There weren’t any other types of graves, which I’d assume accounted for the general lack of Muslims in the armed forces at the time, but I was expecting a few non-crosses, non-stars for the nonbelievers.  There HAD to be some killed at Normandy.  If it were only Christians and Jews killed in World War II, if all the atheists got off the hook, I would think it would sow a bit more doubt into the hearts of the believers.

My point is that the assumption that they died for their country – as the memorials all said – seemed a bit presumptuous.  I wouldn’t die for my country, but I’d fight with it if it were fighting fascists thugs, if I believed it was going to do the fight right.  And why wouldn’t that earn me my own type of tombstone?

Normandy is beautiful, for those who are thinking of coming.  If you go with your family, you can talk about war one moment and then giggle about how your little sister actually says “Hiccup” when she hiccups, and how your Mom, despite the fact that she is over half a century old, still cannot even think of the word “fart” without laughing.

It’s pleasant.

Happy Victory in Europe day, everyone.  Here’s to the memory of the people who fought for reasons we know nothing about.  Here’s to the memory of the people who died for reasons we know even less about.  Here’s to fighting fascists.

“What shall we drink to, sir?”

“Down with Hitler.”

“All the way down, sir.”

Stop talking in dumb aphorisms

An “aphorism,” according to my computer’s dictionary, is a “pithy observation that contains a general truth.”

My computer’s dictionary is fucking wrong.  An aphorism is a jumble of words designed to make you feel better about the stupid things you believe.  Often, you’ll affix a famous person to the end of your dumb word jumble to give it more authority.  Here’s my least favorite aphorism.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Whoever first said this was teased as a kid, was mentally incapable of coming up with a retort, so instead went down the route of moral reproval.  This person was an ignoramus and, quite likely, an ideal candidate for the clergy.  Some of the best things you can say are not nice things.  Here are some not nice things you can and totally should call someone, if you get the chance:

  • Fuckface
  • Wankstain
  • Butthead
  • Douchenozzle
  • Republican

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately where more and more people are cobbling together life philosophies from quotes, song lyrics, and useless aphorisms that they heard on cable news.  I think I could probably blame Facebook, but I won’t, because I spend a lot of time on Facebook and I don’t feel like being a hypocrite today.

Anyway, for the sake of putting off doing my final essay for my human rights class, I’m going to do some aphoristic debunkification.  Please pay attention.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

-James Dean

James Dean was the 1950’s token angsty teenage hearththrob.  Imagine Edward Cullen, if the sparkly vampire thought he was a poet.  He’s often mentioned in the same breath as Ginsberg and Kerouac as a symbol of the times, but this is only because he died in a fiery car wreck.  While I’d like to wish this on Edward Cullen, it would mean his legacy would last about a century longer.  Him staying alive means he’ll be about as memorable Nick Carter is now.

“Who?” you ask?

Exactly.

Anyway, aside from James Dean being kinda shitty period, this is a dumb quote.  If you dream like you’ll live forever, you’re not going to have BIG dreams, like he’s implying, you’re going to have MASSIVE dreams that you’re going to put off because you’ll be busy drinking heavily and snorting coke out of hooker’s buttcracks, because why wouldn’t you, if you’re going to die today?

Also, living like you’ll die today means you’re more likely to die today.  Say, in a fiery car wreck.

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

-Marilyn Monroe

If you have this in your profile “quotes” section, thank you.  It is a canary in the coal mine.  This immediately tells me, “This girl is awful, virtually illiterate, and devoid of any original thought.  Avoid her.”  I say “girl,” because I have yet to see a guy use it, but I would pretty much discard the guy as well.  We all have a bit of crazy in us, I get that.  But this quote is like saying, “BURN YOURSELF TO PROVE YOU LOVE ME!”

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

-Ghandi

This is actually a brilliant quote, but HIS FUCKING NAME IS SPELLED GANDHI.  Christ, you suck.

“You can’t fall off a mountain!”

-Jack Kerouac

I’ve never actually seen this in a profile, I just remember reading it in The Dharma Bums, and thinking, yes, you abso-effing-lutely can.

“Travelling makes a man wiser, but less happy.”

-Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson never went to a Greek hostel over spring break.  And please, don’t make the distinction between “traveller” and “tourist.”  This is what pretentious people tell themselves when they go on a poverty tour after a night of drinking fishbowls in the posh part of town.  This is a better replacement quote:

“Travel makes a wise man better, and a fool worse.”

-Thomas Fuller

Worst quote ever:

“Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

Love Story

Hmm?  What?  No.  That’s sociopathy.  Now, moving on to more mainstream, not quote-y aphorisms:

“Ask and you shall receive.”

Hey, could I have a job?

“Carpe diem!”

Seize the carp!

“You can’t unscramble an egg.”

But you can turn it into poop.

“You can’t take it with you.”

Yeah, but you’re not going anywhere.  You’re dead.

“There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Tell that to the shrinking penguin population.  Also, a lot of those fish have shitty attitudes.

“A leopard can’t change its spots.”

No, but its hairdresser can.

“Never say die.”

Die.

“Keep your nose to the grindstone.”

But only if you don’t like your nose.

“When it rains, it pours.”

Come to London and live in drizzle, idiot.

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

Idle hands are the best thing ever.  They can make sandwiches, have sexy time, or learn to play mariachi guitar.

“Grin and bear it.”

Frown and bitch about it.  Nobody likes happiness.

I have to pee now, and that is about as good a reason for finishing this blog as I had for starting it.  Stop thinking in quotes, it makes you dumb and boring.

Misanthropy and poop coffee in a Belgian train station

There’s a coffee in this cafe I’m at that I’ve only heard whispers of.  Kopi Luwak.  It’s a famous delicacy in southeast Asia, and is notoriously hard to make and expensive.  I’ve spent all of my Euros before leaving Europe tonight back to the UK, so I can’t shell out the 25 for a cup.  I mean, I probably wouldn’t anyway, but I love dare food.

It’s poop coffee.  Seriously.  There’s like, a ferret or something that eats the coffee beans and then craps it out, and it does something to the flavor of the coffee (aside from making it actually taste like shit, supposedly) that makes it gut-wrenchingly good.  Supposedly.

Truth be told, the trip has only been a marginal success.  I’ve lost my ability to travel with open eyes and an open heart, which, for the most part, is awesome.  I hate having an open heart.  Like, today, there were these little kids running around the terminal giggling, and the girl in front of me stopped with this smitten look on her face, thinking, probably in French, “I’m seeing the true beauty of blissful innocence, le sigh,” or something like that, and I’m sitting there thinking:

a) If I miss my train because of these little fucks, I’m coming back here and I’m gonna try and see how many I can knee in the face before people realize it’s not an accident, and

b) Stop smiling, woman.  That 10-year-old in the corner is shining a laser pointer on your crotch.  

I try to mask a scowl while I skirt around the kids.  The laser pointer bugs me not because it’s immature, but because I want to be able to still do that in public, and if I do, I’ll be arrested.

That said, the burdens of cynicism and misanthropy weigh heavily on the travel writer.  One becomes less interested in discovering the beauty of the locale and more interested in finding flaws in them.  And the world needs another misanthropic writer like it needs people.  On top of that, I’ve become incredibly self-centered with my travel.  It’s become mostly about seeing a sight or two, which I’ll stare at for the requisite 20 minutes, and then I’ll walk around and instead of taking it in, I’ll wonder if I’m far enough ahead of the couple walking behind me to fart.  Then I wonder, suddenly paranoid, if the weather’s cold enough for my fart to give off steam, like when you breath out into cold air.  Can they see what I’m doing across the square? I duck into an alley and let loose, trying to look at my butt while I do so, but I can’t see anything.  I walk out of the alley, looking around to see if anyone’s noticed, and I try to find a cafe.

At the cafes, I’ll have a coffee if it’s before noon, and an overpriced beer if it’s after noon (which sounds alcoholic, but the sun sets here at four, so really I’m just having an evening drink), pausing occasionally to look up at the waiter, who is clearly pissed at me for spending 2 Euro and then sitting there for 2 hours, or to try and come up with a description of the je ne sais quoi of Belgian beers, but I feel like I’ve heard fermented donkey piss somewhere before, so I give up and go back to Trainspotting, in a scene where a guy asks his friend why he loves heroin so much.

“Ah don’t really know, Tam, ah jist dinnae.  It kinday makes things seem mair real tae us.  Life’s boring and futile.  We start oaf wi high hopes, then we bottle it.  We realise that we’re aw gaunnae die, withoot really findin oot the big answers.  We develop aw they long-winded ideas which jist interpret the reality ay oor lives in different ways, withoot really extending oor body ay worthwhile knowledge, about the big things, the real things.  Basically, we live a short, disappointing life; and then we die.  We fill up oor lives wi shite, things like careers and relationships tae delude oorsels that it isnae aw totally pointless… Ma problem is, whenever ah sense the possibility, or realise the actuality ay attaining something that ah thought ah wanted, be it girlfriend, flat, job, education, money and so on, it jist seems so dull and sterile, that ah cannae value it any mair.  Junk’s different though.”

-Trainspotting, pages 37-38.

EXACTLY! I find myself thinking.  Then:  oh fuck, I might have a problem.  I may be turning into a horrible person, and I have absolutely no excuse for it.  I mean, I don’t have an addiction to keep me entertained.  That night I’ll finish the book while sitting alone at my hostel bar, trying as many different beers as I can.  I’m pissed by the end of the book (in the British sense of the word “pissed,” not angry), and I realize alcoholism’s not going to work for me.  I can’t take the hangovers.  This beer is fermented donkey piss, I can TASTE the impurities, so I’m gonna wake up with a raging hangover in the morning.

I do, and I walk more through Bruges, which is quite pretty, but after noshing a schnitzel and sitting at another cafe, I realize I need to leave this fucking city sharpish.  I’ll catch the slow train to Brussels, where my return train to London waits, leaving 10 hours from now.  Maybe I’ll meet a French girl on the train like in Before Sunrise, and we’ll fall in love and she’ll infuse some meaning into my life.

I don’t meet a French girl.  Instead, I try and sleep while a 40something manchild eyefucks me in the seat across from me.  I wonder how to shout, “CALL THE POLICE!” In Flemish, but then I wonder if I’ve crossed into Wallonia, where they speak French.  Great, I think, I’m gonna end up some creep’s dress because I’m monolingual.  The train stops and he follows me off, but I hide in a newspaper kiosk and double back in the other direction.

I think of buying 12x18 flags for Belgium and Luxembourg when I get home.  I do it for every country I go to.  Then I realize this is kind of pointless, as my dorm doesn’t allow wall hangings.  And besides, Belgium’s barely a country anyway.  It has two different languages that are drawn along a fairly solid geographic line, and it doesn’t have an actual government.  It’s common identity is so divided that the only common ground is just a love of waffles and chocolates, which, to be honest, is fairly indisputable territory anyway.  Then I start thinking about how most countries are really just arbitrary borders set by treaties or thousands of tiny historical skirmishes, rather than set by a common national identity.  Apparently, Michigan once fought a war with Ohio over Toledo.  They can fucking keep it, I think, but I doubt anyone wants Toledo anymore.

I can’t separate my opinions on a country from my mood anymore.  I’m tired and blue in Belgium, and it’s cold and rainy.  This country’s got worse weather than Britain, I find myself thinking at one point, failing to take responsibility for visiting in December.  Then I find myself railing against the total absence of free public bathrooms.  You’re supposed to be EUROPEANS, I think, you’re supposed to have a healthy skepticism of total privatization.  I throw 40p in a tray when I go into take a leak, and the woman sitting there collecting wants to hand me 5 cents change.  ”No thanks,” I say.  Statistically speaking, someone who has touched the coins they’ve handed you today has had genital herpes.  They can’t POSSIBLY be making enough money to recoup the expense of having you sitting here getting fingerherp all day long, I think, so basically they’re just charging to spite us.  ”Yeah, you can piss here.  But I want you to dance around with your legs crossed, trying to hold it in, while you root through your pockets for exact change.”

Fucking country, I think.

Really.  Belgium’s a beautiful place.  People are friendly, everywhere smells nice, they just aren’t connecting with me like the morose resignation to a life of labor and rain and drink of the English.

Oh well, what the hell, I think.  Traveling on my own might not be a good thing to do anymore.  I can still do it with friends, but on my own, I’m a miserable shite.  Now if you’ll pardon me, the coffee has worked its way through my system, and I have to find 35p for a toilet or else convince these baristas that they can sell what I’m about to do for 25 Euro a cup.