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HOUDINI Magazine

Erik Houdini

The Stakes of the Game We Play

Being a socialist isn't a passive ideological stance. It's not about floating on a cloud of theories, dissecting Marx's ideas with academic precision, or engaging in endless debates on internet forums. To be a socialist means to be an active participant in your community, to foster a sense of collective responsibility and engagement. It means helping at local libraries, volunteering at soup kitchens, or initiating a neighborhood clean-up. It means rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty, for the betterment of your world.

Why, you may ask? Because you can't build a better world without actively improving your corner of it. The foundation of socialism lies in direct action, community organization, and in raising our collective voice against injustices. It's about daring to win, daring to dream of a better world, and, more importantly, daring to work towards it.

However, let's not be naïve. Individual action alone cannot fix systemic issues. As a socialist, Marxist, or a member of any other social justice oriented ideology, it's not only about doing good on a local scale. It's about educating, organizing, and spreading the word to confront systemic issues on a grand scale. Theory only gets you so far; you have to do the work too. A comrade who has read the basics of theory and actively participates in their community is a much more valuable asset than an armchair revolutionary immersed in theory but disconnected from the real world.

As we speak, it's 2023, and we have 15 years, tops, to avert the unrelenting brutality of climate change. The clock is ticking, and the stakes are escalating.The urgency of our predicament is only amplified when you consider the arguably conservative stance of organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Backed by corporations and often leaning towards publishing the most optimistic work—which scientists, many also corporate-backed, agree upon—it is likely that the actual state of our climate crisis is far worse than publicly acknowledged. The leadership of such organizations doesn't inspire confidence either, with this year's IPCC helmed by a Saudi oil magnate.

This puts our timeframe in a grim perspective. Optimistically, we have 15 years, realistically, we have approximately seven years to halt the destructive tide of the global capitalist system before the point of no return. It's a daunting task, but it's either revolution or certain death, and when given this choice, we believe people will opt for revolution.

Another disturbing fact is the rapidly depleting biosphere. A recent report indicates that we've lost two-thirds of our wildlife in the last 50 years, a testament to the severity of our impact on the natural world. If this trend continues, we risk leaving nothing behind for future generations to inherit. The existential threat that climate collapse poses to humanity is unprecedented; even towering figures of socio-political theory like Lenin didn't have to contend with such an impending catastrophe.

In the global political arena, the United States is a dominant force. Should a socialist revolution ignite in France or elsewhere, the potential for American intervention — as history suggests — is palpable, likely to snuff out the nascent uprising. Consequently, any substantive upheaval against the reigning neoliberal order must start within America. This proposition, however, presents a plethora of challenges given the deeply ingrained culture of hyper-capitalist "rugged individualism," a mentality that has been hammered into the public consciousness and fortified by decades of Red Scare propaganda.

Nevertheless, not all hope is lost. Trends indicate a leftward tilt among younger generations; words like "socialist" and "Marxist" are shedding their historical stigma and are becoming accepted, even embraced, among the reasonable. As the contradictions of capitalism become more glaring and its facade crumbles, the slide toward fascism accelerates. However, with this societal decay, the seeds of revolution start to germinate.

As conditions deteriorate, as basic rights are stripped away, as state-sponsored violence escalates, a revolutionary mindset begins to take root. Each rejection of democratic principles, every breach of the social contract, each new person cast out into the streets, and every blatant attempt to manufacture consent serves only to fuel the flames of revolutionary thought.

The task at hand is undeniably daunting, yet I firmly believe that a socialist America is not just possible, but inevitable, in my lifetime. Should this not come to pass, the alternate future is bleak, with climate change ruthlessly cutting our lives short, and dooming the people of the future. Thus, it's not simply a matter of ideological victory, but a battle for survival. In this context, the question isn't whether we can afford to pursue this path, but whether we can afford not to.

We're fighting against a ticking clock and the sheer magnitude of systemic issues. However, the key to eliciting change doesn't lie in grand, sweeping gestures, but rather in the power of collective, decentralized organization. Smaller neighborhood groups, a grassroots "evangelical" style spreading of the movement, are the bedrock of this strategy. Knowing your neighbors, attempting to unionize your workplace, discussing socialism with your family and friends – these are all critical starting points. Just as Lenin emphasized the necessity of educating the working class on their reality, we too need to take up the mantle of education and organization. Like Sisyphus, we have to keep pushing the boulder up the hill, even under the scorching heat of adversity.

Revolution is often portrayed as a violent, armed struggle, but in reality, it's 90% logistics. It's about planning, organization, resource management, communication, and most importantly, it's about hearts and minds.

We must look beyond traditional solutions and consider every belief system and structure as tools for revolutionary change. We may not be able to alter the system from within, but we can certainly disrupt and subvert it using its own beliefs and constructs. A post-postmodern approach, akin to the Ouroboros, is necessary; using the system's own ideologies as the catalyst for its subversion.

Every belief system becomes a tool in our arsenal for revolutionary disruption and transformation. It might sound absurd, but if arguing about Pluto being a planet furthers our cause, then it's a debate worth having. This method embraces the complex, fragmented reality we live in, characterized by an overflow of disinformation and propaganda. By adopting multiple personas and engaging with a wider audience, we can influence diverse belief systems at a subversive level, making it hard for the opposition to directly counter.

The matter of leadership also requires attention. Real, lasting societal change can't be driven by a single hero; this isn't an Ayn Rand novel. It's a collective endeavor. Any leader who emerges is invariably killed by the US (as we've seen with MLK, Hampton, Sankara, and countless others). We have about 15 years, more realistically only seven, to radically dismantle the global capitalist system.

Addressing internal challenges is equally crucial. The possibility of internal disputes within the leftist movements can hinder the rise of influential figures who can guide the collective. However, it's vital to note that while leaders are necessary, we shouldn't put all our hopes on a single central figure or succumb to hero worship.

The idea isn't to find one person who will lead us to utopia but to encourage multiple leaders to step forward - thinkers, pioneers, individuals who are ready to march forward. These are the people who will inevitably rise and, ideally, they should form a collaborative group, providing direction and unity without compromising the decentralization of power.

It's high time we set aside our differences and petty conflicts and focus on our shared objective: a sustainable, equitable future for all. This is the ultimate goal, and achieving it requires daring to win, persevering against all odds, and rising above infighting to strive for unity. There's no room for divisiveness in the fight for a better world.

In this game we play, the stakes are no less than our survival and the future of our planet. Remember, it's not just about understanding the rules but stepping onto the field and playing with all we've got. The struggle for a better world is here, and it begins with us.