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You May Not Be Interested in Politics, But Politics Is Interested in You

The title of this post comes from a saying attributed to Leon Trotsky, the Russian Bolshevik revolutionary and military commander. Only, he said that something called “the dialectic” was taking interest in “you,” a remarkable feat for an abstract philosophical concept that formed the basis for Karl Marx’s ideas but itself had no basis in reality, which goes some way to explaining why Marxism holds so little validity. Politics, however, is all too real in its consequences, especially in an age like ours when “populist nationalist” politicians, aka MAGAs, aka fascists, are very interested indeed in controlling both your body and your mind—all in the interest of “freedom,” of course, by which they mean their freedom to dominate you.

Non-totalitarian Americans greatly outnumber the MAGAs, but a large number of us are disengaged from, disenchanted with, or openly hostile to politics, considering it to be the domain of the powerful and corrupt. A different strain of this same cynicism fuels MAGA; people on that side buy Trump’s claim to be an FDR-like “traitor to his class,” when in fact he is their loyal tribune, and/or that he is “not a politician” but a man unafraid to speak unvarnished truths, when what he actually expresses openly is powerful and deep-seated hatreds. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, just over two in three American voters bothered to cast a vote in 2020 after four years of Trump’s depredations, an unusually high proportion by American standards but one that still means that one-third of Americans are so disengaged, they didn’t even think voting a mentally disturbed would-be dictator out of office was worth the trouble.

Here’s the thing we have to help these people understand. Politics is no more and no less than an ongoing discussion about the distribution of power and money in a society. It is so obviously true as to be a banality that those who already have power and wealth have a huge advantage in this discussion, in all societies at all times in history. In a democracy, though, a united majority can counter this unfair advantage, which explains why men of property and power have feared and resisted this method of government throughout history, even in earlier periods before universal adult suffrage. When they cannot avert democracy entirely, these elites will always seek to corrupt it, and unfortunately in America they have the powerful weapon of “White” racism to help them; large numbers of American “White” people of modest means can always be convinced that scary “Black” people are coming to steal their possessions, their women, and their lives, and can thereby be tricked into defending the interests of the moneyed and powerful elite. It is the perverse genius of that elite in this age to have branded their twisted political movement as populist and anti-elite. Combine that with the so-called Prosperity Gospel and other distortions of the Christian faith, and you get the fascist MAGA movement, powered by rage and fanaticism. The apathetic must be made to understand that this movement will take away their property and their rights, and endanger their very lives, the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade being just the first step in imposing totalitarian social controls.

“Don’t vote,” the cynical American aphorism runs, “it only encourages them.” That this piece of folk wisdom was dead wrong has been proven over and over again by the relentless MAGA Republican assault on voting rights; why would they bother if the franchise was worthless? Impatient with the slowness of that process, they have now decided to short circuit it altogether by declaring free and fair elections “rigged” and illegitimate. Just like their fascist, Nazi and Communist forebears, they declare the tyranny they are trying to impose on everybody else to be “true democracy.” The Nowhere Man and the Nowhere Woman need to grasp that while they may not be interested in politics, this totalitarian politics is interested in them in the worst possible sense, and that they must finally break free of their apathy to help the rest of us stop it.


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