Nellie Olsen grows up….to become a socialist

There are two deep, implicit beliefs that all socialists and progressives share:

  • I’m smarter|wiser|more compassionate than most people AND THEREFORE everyone would be better off doing what I say. I’ll call this the Nellie Olsen Principle.
  • Unless smarter|wiser|more compassionate people impose order on society, society will be a disorganized mess. I’ll call this the Adam Who? Principle.

I have many friends who define themselves as liberal|Progressive. I don’t have any friends who call themselves socialists,  since I consider self-proclaimed socialists to be fair game like self-proclaimed racists. Pretty much, if you proclaim you’re a socialist or a racist, I flip the bozo bit on you.

My l|P friends are perfectly nice people. Like Obama. You get the sense he’s a pretty nice guy, even a little hen-pecked. I’m probably being a little not-nice, comparing them to Nellie Olsen. It’s something of a caricature, like comparing conservatives to Scrooge.

These nice l|P people don’t end up in control of other people–the Nellie Olsen’s they empower do. Like Nancy Pelolsen.

Ok, I’m going to try to stop being bitchy for a microsecond and be really mean and say what I really think about all my nice l|P friends.

On some level, either they never grew up, or more often, they’re afraid that most other people didn’t. They need rules and order and teacher telling them to “use their words.” They’re not really about the Nellie Olsen Principle, that was just me being snarky, but they’re all about the Adam Who? (Smith, by the way) Principle. They distrusted the Schumpeter-ian chaos that ensued whenever the teacher left the room. I think this is an unrealistic attitude and shows how they don’t apply the lessons of ecology to political economy and social order.

Then again, I’m not particularly realistic. When the teacher left the room in 4th grade, I went up and wrote on the blackboard (yes, blackboard, with chalk, that’s how goddamn old I am), “Miss Smith is a nut, she has a rubber butt, and every time she turns around, she goes putt putt.” (Yes, that’s how goddamn old I am, spinster teachers were called Miss, not Ms.) I was shocked, shocked when a classmate turned me in. I thought I was the Huey Long of the 4th grade.

My point here is that where you land politically has a lot to do with how you were when you were a kid. What scared you? What outraged you? Who did you side with? What did you resist? When did you submit? Who did you despise? Who despised you? What did you retreat to? Who did you hurt? Who hurt you? Who would you love to have a second chance with (to apologize, to confront, to get an apology)? How did you treat adults? What did you think of them? Which adults did you despise? Pity? Want to be like?

I don’t think many people have a consistent record on any of this, but there is always a thread. I think I’m going to start talking more to my l|P friends about this kind of stuff because I’d really like to understand and I think they might understand me better too.

For myself, for every  “Miss Smith is a nut…” moment, I had 50 knuckle-under moments. But I’d have that hard-hitting telling-limericks-to-power moment now and then…

There was this juvenile delinquent in my 8th grade class. He was 16 and used to punch me and protect me a lot. And cheat off me. Forcibly. He ended up in prison by his early 20’s. I’d say his name, but I had a crush on his little sister, and I don’t want to embarrass her.

As long as I got him through academically, I was roughly protected. I’d get arm-bruises, but nobody else was allowed to hit me. I was his bitch. One day, I lost it. I told him to lick his own fucking test, or something like that. When you’re in the 8th grade, swearing is Tourette-ish at best.

Then came PE, next period. We were playing football. He was quarterback, since he was 2 feet taller than anyone else. He was in the end zone. Tall doesn’t necessarily mean smart. Me, still angry beyond all reason that day, I rushed him with everything I had and put him into the pricker bushes behind the end zone. I must have been going 130 mph of pure pissed off 90 lb nerd to launch him like that. Then I ran like hell the other way. I had a good 300 yard start on him before he extricated himself bleeding from a thousand pricks. So it was no problem for me to make it behind a locked door and let the teachers dart him.

Next day…   nothing. He didn’t punch me or cheat off me or hit me and I tutored him after that. I got a little respect from other kids for that sack, but not much. Had I not hidden behind a locked door and tried to climb through the acoustical ceiling in case he made it through, maybe I would have gotten more respect. Pissing myself probably didn’t help either.

He didn’t stop bullying everyone else, but something changed between us. He wasn’t broken–he was still a terror, but I was exempt and he wasn’t seeking revenge for his humiliation either. He never hit me again, never demanded test answers, and we were actually friends. It was very complex, way too complex for an 8th grader to figure out. I was sad when I found out that he fulfilled his destiny and went to jail for a long time.  And none of this ever got me near his hot sister. That’s the worst part.

There are lots of things that go on when we are kids that are hugely significant. We don’t have the ability to process them at the time, and it’s hard to process them later. So here’s my start. What the hell was that all about?

One thing I do know–that event has a lot to do with me thinking the only hope for the Muslim world is if we knock them into the pricker bushes.

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