Stop Being a Stupid Liberal Part 6: On Singing

By David Boehnke

Today, Wednesday the 20th, has been a day of songs. I sang Jewish songs of freedom and gratitude to God as I walked to school; an uncomprehended language speaking strongly in my ears, and lungs and walk.
Later, in the upstairs of Weyerhauser, I sang “Macalester is anti-war, oh how I long to be in that number, Macalester is anti-war, go Mac!” smiling to the various higher-ups whose heads peaked out from their offices, or to the associate deans of students who for whatever reason felt the need to be unrequested chaperones.
And we don’t need chaperones or rulers or war, but we do need singing. I think of the Kantian enlightenment in which our staff and faculty and presidents and parents live their lives—think whatever you want but obey.
And that is not what we live for. We don’t live our lives to be thinking robots, to think different but be same all the same, trapped and broken as we are, whether we’re buttered up with health care or bags of cash, or left counting on luck to avoid dying uncared for in a hospital lobby.

And we don’t live only to be what the world needs, or what our families need, or what our parents in the law or the kind, sickening bureaucrats and the smiling-corporate-fucks tell us we need to become.
And there is too much of that on this campus. Too much heaviness in our steps and goals and souls and bodies. God damnit people, learn from the motherfucking hippies! Shit. Perhaps I swear so much because I’m talking to myself, or because so much and so little has changed since a time when I wasn’t alive and because it is important to remember and distinguish those similarities and differences. Or perhaps it is because of this obscene out-of-body-egoism that seems to be the only form of freedom left, a horrible falseness where one’s image substitutes itself for one’s life and livings… individually and institutionally.
In singing we use our voices, and in singing together, in screaming what democracy looks like, we can recreate it. And that’s why we need new songs to go with the old ones, and new projects to go with the songs, and “Hey you! You should teach an EXCO class, the priority deadline is April 6. Check it out at www.EXCOtc.org”.
And the Summer of Love didn’t get it right; neither did the May of 1968. And perhaps history will tell us we didn’t get it right, but it is up to us to get it done…and by that I mean the revolution.
Small goals, mind you, small goals!—making up new songs and making revolution. And you should know that I’m serious about all this; I’ve talked to two experts about it this week, one radical and one professional nonprofiteer no less, and both tell me that my plans are realistic.
And why not? We’re here. There’s rocks, there’s trees, there’s birds, there’s squirrels. Come on, we’ll bless them all until we get vashnigyered [drunk]!—or until the State or capital decides that they know what democracy looks like…us bleeding in the road.

Welcome to the ending chapters of seven part series entitled Stop Being a Stupid Liberal. I hope you enjoy it…I wouldn’t be writing it without you. I committed to such a thing because I am pleased that most of you find politics dispiriting and still have hatred for being forced to act like what we say when applying for jobs, or college.
This is, however, precisely what we enforce as appropriate, normal, even moral, when we refuse to have a position.
This series then is a challenge to you. A challenge to have a position—not my position but a position—a challenge to understand that your life is already that position, and to act and be and feel and reach towards your desires for all of us.
If in this analysis many of us find that we have begun from a position that is both empty and determined in the last analysis by historical and petty selfishness let us enjoy the fact that despite our thorough determination, we escape; and let us celebrate our attempts to create—in this life—a world that is determined by our practice of freedom.

The Final Topic: On New Beginnings