There’s an uncanny moment in Alphaville when “Alpha 60,” the computer that controls this “city of the future” (that looks exactly like the Paris of 1965, the year the film was made) declares “We are totally alone.”
This remark, quite offhand, comes in the course of a longer speech in which “Alpha 60″ (speaking with the voice of man whose vocal chords had been severely damaged in World War II) has been describing itself and the world as it sees it, somewhat in the manner of a neo-Sartrean existentialist: “No one lived in the past, no one will live in the future.” But unlike philosophers (save perhaps Heidegger), “Alpha 60″ has actual life and death power of the society which it rules. And while in no way asking for sympathy its solitude suggests an evocation of pathos. But it’s a pathos that reveberates within this culture which demands we all see ourselves as “totally alone” as this computer lest solidarity among the discontent breed social revolt.
I thought of this in reading Doug Ireland’s extremely thoughtful piece on Gay Marriage, wherein he notes —
“When, last month, Democratic consultant Paul Yandura sent a memo to Democratic leaders criticizing the party’s do-nothing attitude in the face of the Republican’s anti-gay marriage strategy, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean responded by firing Yandura’s domestic partner, Donald Hitchcock, the DNC’s gay liaison. Yandura called Dean’s action “retaliation, pure and simple.” A few weeks later, Dean came in for renewed criticism for appearing on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” TV show and proclaiming that the Democratic platform defined marriage as “between a man and a woman”—a total misrepresentation of the party’s official position which gays saw as pandering to a religious-right extremist. (In fact, the platform says the issue should be up to states to resolve, and is agnostic on the question of marriage equality for gay people—and Dean was forced to apologize in public for his extraordinary gaffe.)”
A Democrat appearing on “The 700 Club” is more than a “gaffe,” it’s a disgrace — a disgrace compounded by lying about the very party he supposedly represents. But this in turn only serves to underscroe the optional nature of said party’s regard for the glbt Americans who imagine it cares for them. As Doug goes on —
“In defense of their do-nothing attitude, some Democratic leaders have thrown the question back in the face of the gay community, saying it’s up to gays to come up with a strategy on gay marriage that works.”
In short the Demoractic party is quite frank about the fact that it has nothing to offer. And that’s the way it’s always been with the gay rights movement — we are totally alone.
Consider the liberal Eric Alterman who, only a few days ago, informed a gay reader —
“I know what I know. And therefore I like to think, I know what I don’t know. And I don’t know this stuff and so I tend to keep (mostly) quiet about it, though yes, I’m a pretty old fashioned liberal and put economic issues before social issues whenever possible. I do, however, recommend Paul Berman’s essay on the history of the gay rights movement in “A Tale of Two Utopias.”
Far be it from Alterman to reccomend, much less read, the work of Michael Bronski, Michael Warner, Jonathan “Ned” Katz, Michelangelo Signorile, Martin Duberman, Leo Bersani, Jim Kepner, Larry Gross, Dennis Altman rather than the Beyond Clueless Berman. He knows what he knows, which ain’t much, but since he’s got heterosexual privilege to burn, that’s all that really matters to those that count — none of whom are gay.
Make no mistake, this was never a mass movement. Gay Liberation was always the province of the few, the proud, the bohemian. Stonewall was from the streets, not the suites — where today you’ll find the less-than-useless likes of the HRC and NLGTF.
“The history of the struggle for black civil rights demonstrates that only when political leaders actually lead do they begin to help change attitudes. If poll-driven Democratic politicians run away from the issue of full equality before the law for lesbians and gays—including equal rights for their committed couples—they will be retarding social advancement of the
goal of full human freedom for all—an integral part of America’s promise. And, as the famous slogan rightly puts it, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
Very 60’s of you to say so, Doug.
“Only when the Democrats convince voters that they stand for a real alternative to the Republicans on everything from Bushonomics to Iraq will the anti-gay marriage issue lose its electoral power to determine who wins elections.”
An event sure to follow the day when the Bluebird of Happiness flies out of the testosterone-engorged neck of The Creature From the Blog Lagoon.
And now to sum up where we all really stand, a song by John LaTouche, music by Duke Ellington, from Beggar’s Holiday:
“When your flights of fancy start to crack up
And your light of love begins to pack up
And reality cuts you down to your size
Don’t cling to your illusions — get wise
There’s only one who’s really for you
Who’ll never bore you — who’ll always adore you
Times are tough, the going’s rough
Still I’m able to rise above it
Cause I’ve got me
Can’t depend, upon a friend
Still I travel alone and love it
Cause I’ve got me
I’ve learned most people are awful cranky
They take your heart, and they don’t say “Thankee”
Now I’m the shy type, the passin’ by type
Since I found out — I was my type
Got no yen to love again
Want no two-timin’ guy to greet me, my mind is free
I’ll never leave me
I won’t deceive me
Oh peace, it’s marvelous
Cause I’ve got me!”