Skip to main content

Buy the Print Edition of Radical Second Things!

Pope Francis, Barack Obama And Buying In To Power

What makes a radical? What makes someone give up on moderation, stick to their principles and tell the world to get with it or fuck off?

I have been involved with Gonzo Times and the community around it since roughly 2010. It's been five years of arguing and brotherly bonds. I ran Gonzo Times for a brief time before giving it back to the founder, Punk Johnny Cash, earlier this year.

I think that the members of the Gonzo community have as many disagreements as agreements. I have disagreed with Josh over gun control - although he has made me come around to seeing disarming the police as a prerequisite that is necessary before private citizens are ever disarmed. I have disagreed with Luis about prescription drugs for behavioral disorders.

What is the unitary thing? I noticed, bizarrely, that almost every single member of the Gonzo community had, once upon a time, been a conservative or libertarian. I don't think there are actually exceptions to that.

Libertarianism and conservatism, while the former tries to be sexy and iconoclastic and the latter masked by religion and tribalism, pretty much sell the same thing - a defense of class establishments. People who attract to conservatism and libertarianism and leave that world are often pretty angry and feel a great deal of hate for America. Josh, Luis and I, despite our differences all share a disgust for the system and ideas we defended. Many, like Luis and me, thought we were actually being rebellious. When you go as far as I did, eventually interning at the Heritage Foundation, it's hard to be anything but radical. You've seen and heard the ugly and stupid nonsense that conservatism is really about.

I think this is important to think of when considering today's world leaders. President Barack Obama started out "a pretty radical guy" although he "clearly isn't that person anymore," as my editor Colin Jenkins said to me. What changed?

Whatever radicalism Obama may once have had, capitalism and the American power structure worked for him. He was able to succeed through Ivy League universities, raise millions of dollars through the most commercial election process on the planet and effectively become a trademarked icon. He tasted power and apparently liked it quite a bit. Some of his recent interviews seem to show that he has taken an approach in which the system is actually working despite the chaos we have been seeing in the news and in race relations.

Juxtapose this with Pope Francis, who apparently had an instrumental role in improving American relations with Cuba, a policy shift that may end up being one of the [few] lasting positive changes of the Obama era.

Francis is 78 years old. He has been in the Catholic Church for a very, very long time - long enough to have seen the horror of the far right up close and personal.  He has pulled no punches with his radicalism - going so far as to say the Vatican itself is sick with greed and lust for power, something that sounds quite plausible.

The right promises things the left doesn't and can't - wealth, superiority, prestige and power. Even if those things are false, it promises those things to its adherents while the Left demands sacrifice. People become most susceptible to their talk when they have not been exposed to it fully before. This may explain why many liberal politicians become susceptible to Washington D.C.'s national security community, buying in to the money that comes along with vouching for the military industrial complex even if, years before, they would have looked down on the campus ROTC.

Francis has seen enough to know what the Right really promises and to know both how critical the Left has been to Latin America and how to appeal to them. I have my doubts that the breakthrough with Cuba would have happened if he had not made the reported "personal appeals" that he did, although Obama has made progress on his own with Iran.


Popular posts from this blog

"Life is Much More Than Bratwurst:" A Chat With Rummelsnuff

A note - Blogging isn't free. Right now I provide gifts to my writers as a way of thanking people for writing. I would like to be able to afford to give them some sort of renumeration, even if it is small, for making this blog what it is. I'm in talks with a friend who may be able to help connect this blog, which has been in existence for one year now, with more religious communities dedicated to interfaith dialogue. Your donation will do a lot toward making that happen.

Rummelsnuff is awesome. If you don't know, he is Roger Baptist - a bodybuilding German singer who has toured abundantly in support of his music - an unusual composite of German industrial, drinking songs and electronica. Roger was nice enough to do an interview with me and took the time to answer in English, not his first language. Thanks so much, Roger!

First off, you have quite the physique? Can you tell us about your diet, your regimen, etc.?

Maybe I am lucky to like exactly the stuff, which is good for mu…

Eagles of Death Metal Go Alt Right

Hey all - remember writing is not free! If you want to see more of this, be sure to donate.

Back in 2010, I, along with my friend Alex Knepper, wrote about the prospective rise of the Alternative Right movement – a political organization of well dressed and well presented white supremacist who bring all of the hate, free of swastikas, shaved heads or all the usual turn offs of that ideology.
Alex’s article is up still at Frum Forum, a website of former Bush advisor David Frum. As one friend told me, I not only was right but more right than I thought I’d be about all of this. The world is changing very fast and it would take a profound change in human nature for the response to that change not to include a bit of reaction.
It’s much worse that I thought it would ever be. The forthcoming nominee of the Republican party blatantly flirts with white nationalists on his Twitter account, retweeting their material with abandon and refusing to condemn when pressed on it. Jesse Hughes, the lead …

"Proud Boys" and the Alt Right in the Bay Area

Now that NBC News picked up the Proud Boys story, here is something I wrote for a local Bay Area newspaper about them earlier in the fall. The newspaper was hesitant to write about the subject, as seems to happen when I want to write about the Alt Right. I interviewed Paul Bazille, a member of the Proud Boys group and everything. If the headline on the story seems different than this link, that's because I've changed it from what the newspaper wanted to one more appropriate for the story. Writing about this is frustrating - I'm torn between wanting to accurately portray the source, who put trust in me, and not wanting to seem sympathetic to the Alt Right, which I am certainly not. What that frustration turns in to is just not writing about it at all. The picture I took is from an anti-Alt Right protest in Berkeley.

Could a replay of Charlottesville occur here? The Bay Area has many of its own icons of a racist past that may be ripe for removal. UC Berkeley’s Barrows Hall, …

RST on Facebook

About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

© 2017 Radical Second Things