Thursday, April 10, 2014

My cynical synopsis of “The After Party”

After Party Logo

A new political party was just launched online yesterday named The After Party. Great name right? I cracked up when I heard it too—it's just too good. In a political landscape dominated by geriatrics, what self-respecting millennial couldn't resist the temptation to become a card-carry member?

After Party is being put together by some veteran organizers from the Occupy Movement and U.S. Uncut. They're good guys who are intelligent and serious. I've even done a few things to help them out, since I love seeing hardworking ambitious people shoot for the moon.

However it fills me with great sorrow to report that The After Party's politics… aren't quite as awesome as the name. They're explicitly populist with a loyalist agenda laden with slave mentality. Their ideology is indistinguishable from the liberal belief politics status quo. These guys are basically clamoring for more of the same.

The only divergence the After Party has with the mainstream left in America, is their emphasis on mutual aid. This ideal manifests in their political strategy to provide Detroit residents with free social services like gardening and cleaning debris. How they intend to gain political power through random acts of charity is beyond me. This sounds like a great way to lose power.

Detroit is 82% black. I'm very interested in seeing how they'll react to busloads white hippie kids invading their neighborhood to do construction work. I'm also interested in knowing how they intend to secure the reciprocity that mutual aid implies. Perhaps they'll win over their hearts and minds with tales of Kropotkin in Siberia discovering the enlightened social darwinism of ant colonies. We cleared your rubble, now you have to be our drones.

After Party Manifesto Screenshot

After Party Manifesto tl;dr


For those of you who don't speak the activist lingo, I'll provide the following translation of the After Party Manifesto.

Each bullet point is a summarization of its corresponding section within the screenshot on the left.
  1. We are helpless
  2. We are exploited
  3. We are entitled
  4. Please don't destroy nature
  5. We don't think straight white men should be in power
  6. We're hippies working within the system for bottom up change
Propaganda like this can only come from the soul of a man who is docile and broken. It's a distant cry from the sort of propaganda I originally tried to weave into Occupy's culture, which was the politics of empowerment through exit & resistance. This stuff is just weak and sad.

After Party Platform tl;dr


The following is my translation of the After Party Platform. Each bullet point contains a letter which corresponds to the section in the screenshot to the right of which it's a summary.
  • R: We believe in republicanism and paying reparations to communities of color.
  • I: We will incentivize third-word emigration to western nations.
  • S: We will increase subsidies to green energy technology manufacturers like GE.
  • E: We will pay for young adults to go to a four year long sex and drinking party before they enter the workforce.
  • U: We believe people have the right to see a doctor when they get sick.
  • P: We will fight corruption.

This isn't a platform, this is a statement of loyalty to the existing state ideology. If this were a European political party, it would also be an endorsement of existing state policy. So the After Party could accurately be described as a loyalist party, or perhaps anti-western liberal conservatism.

Suggestions


People don't want to take a vacation to Detroit so they can become servants to random people they've never met. The poor black people up there also don't need us to come running in and trying to save them; as they're perfectly capable of helping themselves.

If you truly care about helping the communities in Detroit, you would need to become a community there first yourselves. Just pick a neighborhood and start moving your people there. Tulia is telling me that north of MLK Boulevard, houses are going for $35k. Have each of your supporters get a loan to buy a house. Make sure you guys all live within a block of each other and try to stay as tight as possible. Then you can start building your own community and establish a presence.

Now you might be thinking, "but that's gentrification!" You'd be correct, but gentrification itself is actually a good thing. It's not gentrification that radicals oppose, but rather its consequences, such as the displacement of existing communities through market forces. So in order to to prevent yourselves from displacing the black community, you'll need to find a way to prevent your members from becoming bourgeois. I recommend doing this by requiring after partiers to enter a legal agreement that:
  1. Prohibits sale of property to persons outside the movement.
  2. Requires any return on investment from property sale be surrendered to the movement.
  3. Prohibits usufruct.
  4. Prohibits employment with organizations outside the movement.
  5. Requires meals be consumed in community cafeterias.
Once you guys have your own community, own your own land, and are solidly invested in the city—then it'll actually make sense to help the people around you. You'll all have a shared interest in the prosperity of the city.

The investment of each individual also makes sense from a recruiting standpoint. There's a lot of completely insane and toxic people in the activist community who aren't willing to do a bit of work. So if you put the requirement in place that everyone has to buy land in order to participate in your thing, it'll be a great deterrent against the sorts of people you don't want to have around. It also acts as discouragement against those you do recruit from leaving. This is essential for mutual aid to work; since it's irrational to invest in ephemeral social relationships. Nobody is going to invest the time and energy into supporting members of their community, if those members could very well disappear the next day.

Do not provide any sort of aid to people without securing loyalty in exchange. This is the only way to gain political power. One of the mistakes Occupy made, was it just gave everyone free stuff unconditionally. This is bad news, because the natural state of activists is to be disloyal and treacherous. So by providing aid without correcting their behaviors, Occupy basically just leaked power.

I also recommend establishing a solid niche in the ideological space. You're just too much… the same. You lack flavor and excitement. It's good to follow the status quo by default, as a general rule of thumb; but if you don't find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition, then there's no point to your existence. You need to tap into at least one appealing truth that no one else is offering. Something that makes you special and invigorates the passion of your supporters.

Conclusion


The After Party seems to be the latest manifestation of white liberal guilt in America. It's carries with it the pedigree of radical urban leftist politics, inheriting all of its masochism, yet none of its rage. Its propaganda lacks boldness and flavor. Its strategy is indicative of a fundamental misunderstanding of reality. Its beliefs are surprisingly tame.

I think these problems can easily be solved, as the party is still in its beta stages. There's a good chance this might turn into something interesting. I may not believe in beliefs of this organization, but I do believe in the organizers themselves.