How a Jacobin Ends | Opinion

If you have read any of my columns, I hope you enjoyed them. I hope you felt personally addressed by them. I imagine you as I wish you to be: happy and constantly learning.

As for me ... well, the revolutionary is a doomed man. Robespierre, the original Jacobin, was guillotined by his followers. Trotsky suffered an icepick to the back of the head whilst in exile. Huey P. Newton was shot with a pistol after leaving a crackhouse in Oakland. Only six people attended Thomas Paine’s funeral, despite his pamphlets being hailed as the sword of the American Revolution.

I love – and desperately hate – my upper-middle class origins and authority. I am graduating debt-free, and yet everywhere I see chains. I am graduating with a law degree, but there are so many laws worth breaking. I love learning and academia, but hate the University and intellectualism.

By this stage, you may be wondering whether I am crazy. I have wondered this too. After getting a few professional opinions, however, it turns out I am sane. The society around me is crazy, and I am just a part of it.

New Zealand society is as backwards as the landscape is beautiful. Isolation and complacency dominate in a world of pending climate turmoil and outrageous inequality. The privilege of backwardness, however – and yes, such a privilege exists – compels our adoption of whatever idea happens to be “ready” at the time, skipping over any intermediate stages.

It has been a long time since New Zealanders themselves advanced. Instead, we beta-test. Whether it be EFTPOS, neoliberal policy, or Google’s “Loon,” we are not simply safe and willing subjects, but are seemingly proud of being subjects.

No revolution is predictable, just as the best strikes are always wildcats. Something entirely exceptional, independent of me or any group, will bring catastrophe to our doors. The masses do not initiate the catastrophe with some social project in mind, only the sharp feeling they cannot endure the old system. I cannot stand it already.
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2013.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 6th October 2013 by Jacobin.