0

A Pseudonymous Requiem for Yesterday in My Radical Life

[Cross-posted from Anti-Capitalist Chat at Daily Kos]

I thought I should pay a tiny tribute and wave goodbye to yesterday. I think that is something important for me to do. We have to know when to fight and when to retreat and redeploy. We have to constantly marshal our force of one to use it most effectively.

Yesterday began with a notification from WordPress.com wishing my hobby website a Happy One Year Anniversary! (I won’t provide the link for fear that the thousands who would click it would cause a crash.) My ultimate “hobby,” by the way, is the core of my existence. Like most of the other 1,054,220 people at Daily Kos, I want to do my best to help to try to save the world. That is my life; that is our life. As an anti-capitalist democratic internationalist on the ever-shifting left wing of the possible, I believe in working with a wide swath of people, including “liberals” as they are called in the U.S., because I think that we all have important roles to play.

I am grateful (no sarcasm) to Daily Kos for providing a big tent that allows us dirty democratic radicals (I am quite proud of the dirt although I prefer to think of it as soil) inside and for doing an excellent job as the true organization of the practical opposition to the right wing in the U.S. Kudos to Markos and all those at the masthead for the work that you do. I know that you know much more about the day-to-day political battlefront in the U.S. than I do. But I know that the U.S. and the world need the “serious left” too, and that is where I take my stand. No disrespect but in the end compromise liberal positions will not get us where we need to go as humanity. But in its own way, your work is dirty, and very necessary, too, and I appreciate it. So, from the radical fringe, a sincere thank you.

I appreciate the message from WordPress.com as a reminder of all that I have accomplished in my own personal reformation in the last year. I do not count it as spam, not that I am desperate or anything. It is true that, other than a few pity comments from a dear brave high school friend, I have basically received no comments at gardenvarietydemocraticsocialist.com in the year of its existence. That is just fine with me. I want people like me on the left (“people with both a global and a local outlook who may or may not be religious and who are (1) unwilling to accept that unsustainable capitalism is the best humanity has to offer, (2) sense the need to be to the left of capitalism-accepting ‘liberal,’ and (3) have a serious interest in, but no false expectations of, socialism”) who are in search of support to read the stuff, and I know that a few people have.

That is all the comfort I need for the effort. Comments, on the other hand, by people at a leftist political website may expose them to trouble in their daily lives, and that is not something I want to cause. In fact, in addition to my original Galtisalie fake name at Daily Kos, I operate with the pseudonym Francisco Nejdanov Solomin at my website because I do not want those who love me to suffer for my socialist activism. I do not believe that there is anything wrong with hiding our identity in doing radical work for the good. In due course many of us will out ourselves as leftists in our local communities or be out-ed, suffer, and maybe even pay the ultimate sacrifice. But for now, for me at least, best as a socialist living in Nowheresville, Deep South to stay on the political down low.

Yesterday I also had to tell my clients in a major public interest environmental law battle in the southeast that we lost on summary judgment before the trial court and need to decide very soon whether to appeal. I handled the lawsuit pro bono and will handle the appeal pro bono too, if there is one. For several years now I have not been a practicing environmental lawyer, but once in a while I follow my instincts and take on a good legal cause in my spare time. I dare not tell you about the lawsuit because that would expose that lawyer “so and so” is also Galtisalie/Francisco Nejdanov Solomin, democratic socialist.

I am proud that of the over quarter-century I practiced environmental law full-time in the U.S. that all but the first three years were representing causes for the people and against the corporations. But that is largely now a closed chapter of my life. I am still deep green but my hands are even deeper in the soil these days. Being half-Hispanic and descended from cigar workers, my skin is brown, and I am in my totality a political shade of reddish pink these days, just like they were. I do not feel that I should spend most of my time casting enviro-pearls before Republican judges in the U.S. Best to try to change the global system on a fundamental level. Yet we need to continue to agitate on the judicial front when the opportunity arises just like we need to continue to agitate on the parliamentary front. Don’t cede any battlefield to the bad guys but steward your seed to the most promising soil (yes, I mix metaphors–a lot–so sue me).

We have a lot of repression against socialists in the U.S., and we have to conduct ourselves accordingly. I now realize that the repression is because they are so afraid of our solidarity message, the message of true freedom for the workers of the world.

So I say goodbye to yesterday, and the last year that ended with yesterday. I kicked some ass when I could, got my ass handed to me quite a bit, and lived to fight on.

May the force be with us.

0

Part 2 on the Need for Anti-Capitalist Democratic Internationalism

[Cross-posted from Anti-Capitalist Meetup at Daily Kos. Here's the link to Part 1 of this series.]

Things are certainly going to crapola for many poor Central American children these days. But at least they are not having their lives ruined by elected socialists. Barbarism is so much better. Somalian freedom anyone? Where, oh where, have I read about this before? Some murdered democratic revolutionary internationalist perhaps.

 

The Political-Economic Basis For Anti-Capitalist Democratic Internationalism

We must refuse to separate morality from economics, to ignore the historical and political dimensions of economic justice, and to narrowly define “justice” as the head-in-the-sand enforcement of U.S. laws. (According to a good Jesuit who mourned for those dying in Central America, including his owns priests, justice should be in the service of love.) For instance, when we receive reports about Latin American children in flight to the U.S., we must be mindful that the U.S. has spent generations undermining Latin America efforts to achieve economic justice. Continue reading

0

“Waiting for the Signal” to Revolt in the late 1890s

[Cross-posted from Hellraisers Journal at Daily Kos.]

This diary is dedicated to JayRaye, who has rediscovered so many Hellraisers, including Henry O. Morris, radical labor journalist, see, e.g., Hellraisers Journal: Tear-stained Women…Besieged the Bull Pens in Cripple Creek and Victor. JayRaye wrote me a message about Mr. Morris’s novel. The book is available as a free e-book here, except for missing page 17 and the corresponding illustration, which I will give you down below. She thought that as a socialist and a Christian, I might find Morris and his novel worthy of more detailed study. After I started reading it, I thought it would make a good diary, and JayRaye agreed. JayRaye loves it when her research leads to other research. Morris himself remains something of a mystery, as with many labor heroes. His reporting is an important part of the historical record. But it’s also time we pay attention to his fictional hellraising, which we could use more of if we are to get more of the non-fictional type. Our minds may yet be motivated by creative acts.

This is what the opposite of Atlas Shrugged looked like in the late 1890s:

The winter of 1898-‘9 has passed and May day has come. …
Oh, Mr. Plutocrat, this first day of May has been a long time coming, but it has dawned at last–the day is here.
As people begin to throng the streets their eyes are greeted on every hand with a mystic symbol …
As the morning drags along the Associated Press bureau begins to receive messages asking if New York can explain the meaning of the sign. Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore are among the first to ask for information, their questions mingling with telephone calls from Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken, Harlem–all on the same subject.
As the day grows older queries came in rapid succession from Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Denver, New Orleans and all the Southern cities. This announcement comes from San Francisco:

“This city flooded with a peculiar symbol chalked on the sidewalks and printed on billboards. Advices from all over the State say that every town and village is filled with them, every cross-road fence has one or more placards. What do they mean?”

To which New York replies:
“We do not know. New York is also covered with them.” …
[W]hen the grand council of the revolutionists conceived the idea of this symbol, as a means of notifying its members of the day and the hour of the beginning of the conquest, it was considered very improbable that any person outside the revolutionary order could translate the sign, and so far as literal translation went their judgment was correct. But, mingling with this heterogeneous mob of wildly excited people was one who, by a chance begotten of inspiration, solved it. True, only a portion of it, but that portion contained its primary meaning. This individual was not a learned judge, a lynx-eyed detective, nor an alert reporter; but a creature of less than ordinary intelligence–an old woman almost in her dotage. This chance interpreter came shuffling up, elbowing her way to the bulletin board which bore, together with the bulletins, the strange device. Mumbling and grumbling, she wiped her watery eyes with her soiled apron, peered long and earnestly at the inscription, then, turning to the gaping crowd, she burst out into wild shrieks of hysterical laughter:
“Ha! ha! ho! Hooray! The devil fiddles for his imps to dance. It’s sweet music when old Nick plays. Ha, ha! Oho! Hee, hee! Say yer prayers, ye wicked sinners–this means Revolution! Revolution, I say! D’ye hear me?” …

Morris, Henry O. Waiting for the Signal, Ch. XXVI. Chicago: The Schulte Publishing Co. (published 1898, copywright 1897).

Myths can be powerful stuff. During these latest dark days for the worker in the U.S., we logically need to recapture some of the earlier mythic force. But we need to do this mindfully.

The other side is wickedly but brilliantly using populist “outsider” and even anti-banker rhetoric to manipulate fearful “white” workers. They do so to energize their own selfish cause, including right wing GOTV, but also to divert a large segment of the masses from fighting for constructive deep economic change. Although we can debate how to define “the workers,” on some level the true outsiders are everyone who is not part of the 1%. By diverting attention from our commonality as workers, the plutocrats defeat solidarity.

Updating myths to grim facts on the ground may need to begin with revisiting key dreams large numbers of workers at one time carried in our hearts and minds, and which some still do. After all, we need to always remember that under capitalism, things have generally been hard times for the workers. Political power always has been more wishful thinking than achieved, even under FDR. All of these earlier myths were imperfect and even the best of our myths are in constant need of improvement. Some of the myths of the past were rough, embarrassing, unwise, or even partly wrong, but they were real too, because they fictionally responded, however imperfectly, to shared tangible material conditions, in a way that the other side can only dream. Real people are not perfect. Sometimes they share poorly in their desperation. Coping strategies are not pretty. It is hard when your family is hungry to be your brother or sister’s keeper, especially when they look differently. Solidarity knows no boundaries, yet it is difficult to rearrange much less overturn capitalist conditions in a single valley much less a nation state or the world. The plutocrats don’t want us to even try. Alas, sadly when we do try we often carry around prejudices that the universal “wecannot tolerate, but which “we” must acknowledge in order to address the very real faults without losing the potential for solidarity. Continue reading

0

Part 1 on the Need for Anti-Capitalist Democratic Internationalism

[Note: This is my version of light summer reading (but my nickname's not "Buzzkill" for nothing). Hey, I'm even breaking this diary into two parts. It's not healthy to read while you eat but if you do, have a nice sandwich (better make that two), chew slowly, and by the time you're to the pickle, maybe you'll be done. I want to present in bite-size easily digestible pizzas my vision of a peaceful deep democratic revolution. I'm not there yet. I enjoy all the rabbit trails that make up the whole too much and mixing metaphors like a ... concrete mixer. (Do similes count?--see, I do know the difference.) Below all bad writing is my own and unintentional.]

No pressure, but in late 2012 Kyle Thompson at The Other Spiral wrote:

I think the most important thing at this point in time is for the left to reclaim three areas: 1) Internationalism 2) The vision of the future and 3) Economic legitimacy. Without internationalism each struggle feels isolated and localism will never be anything more than localism. … Similarly the left needs to reclaim the future. If all we can imagine for the future is dystopia we will never be motivated enough to build socialism. This is basically the work of artists, conjuring up an image of what might be …. Finally the left must fight to achieve at least a niche of respectability in economic discourse.

I’ll up the ante and say that together we must constantly work to combine all three into a new praxis, one that learns from the past but also is willing to modify or even Jetson imagery that unnecessarily divides us. But, we’ve caught a break: in case you haven’t noticed, a lot of capitalist imagery has worn thin. Ecology and unemployment are biting capitalism on the buttock, just as our side predicted. When I was a kid, I was counting on one of those glass-topped space sedans to zip me around town one day. I’m beginning to doubt that’s going to happen. The caution yellow Pinto with shag carpeting on the dash that zipped me to my first job has long since finished rusting to nothingness, and only the bondo I liberally applied during those bong-heady times remains at the bottom of some landfill.

The future is with us, and that’s scaring the bondo out of the oligarchy, but our side’s still dazed and confused, and the oligarchy wants to keep its party going until the polar ice cap has gone and every last carbon chain has been broken to fuel the Pintos of the 21st century we will purchase to drive to the jobs we won’t have. I’m no artist and have no credentials for economic discourse. That leaves me with a possible niche of utility if not respectability researching internationalism. But since I’m writing from the Deep South of the U.S., home of a widely-held theory about the U.N. involving the mark of the Beast, I’d better toss in some revolutionary ever-modern art to get things started, and, in Part 2, follow-up with Luxemburg, who gives the political-economic basis for anti-capitalist democratic internationalism. If Rosa’s not respectable and respectful enough for the dismal scientists they can kiss my grits. 

Continue reading

0

Taking the Kid Gloves Off With Francis’s Street Cred: Poetic Justice

So much depends on true democracy being allowed to broaden, deepen, and flourish in the economic sphere. That is one of the things that concerns me about Pope Francis, whom I admire in many ways. He shows great concern for the poor but does not link this with how laws currently pass or don’t pass, the role of the unelected judiciary that keeps constitutional interpretation in the U.S. locked in the past and doing the bidding of capital, and the lack of a democratic global institution accessible directly by the people in search of rights. I published this post earlier this week at my Galtisalie blog at Daily Kos because of these concerns, as well as emerging events in Spain threatening women’s right to control their own bodies. I hope that it is taken for the constructive criticism in the spirit of George Orwell in which it is intended. It was written not to insult Pope Francis but to hold him to the highest standard, which he should demand from himself on behalf of the one he follows. This standard is more exacting than promotion of the interests of any institution, including the so-called “Church.” If the Church is “the body of Christ” comprised of “Christians,” that body should be willing to sacrifice itself to create “earth as it is in heaven” and trust that it will be resurrected to the greater glory.

Sincerely,

Brother Francisco

*************************************

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. (Luke 12:48, NRSVCE)

I’m glad a global wealth tax has Jesus’s endorsement. But that is just for starters. Jesus reportedly was so socio-economically demanding that his most renowned sermon, on the mount, is some debatable combination of hyperbolic and literal impossible challenges but most certainly liberating and a rejection of any unjust status quo. If it is intended to put pressure on the low and unholy, take me for instance, how much more is expected from someone whose followers claim him to be Vicarius Christi. I am both a struggling Christian contemplative by intuitive spiritual necessity fitfully pursuing a quiet interior life and a leftist who, to use Thomas Merton’s words (Seeds of Destruction, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1964) feels obliged to make himself part of the sacrificing “we”–“We must dare to pay the dolorous price of change, to grow into a new society. Nothing else will suffice!”–but scratches his head how to do this but has to try the best he can anyway. As much as I want inner peace my confused interior life is no more important than my confused exterior life. I am responsible for my action and inaction each day within a given capitalist context I seek to change for the betterment of all, if I can figure out how, and meanwhile I am trying to at least take a spoonful of this or that to the poor and their allies in the global pit of human despair, aka, hell on earth, aka, the OPPOSITE of “earth as it is in heaven.” Would that I could move mountains, or at least a Congressional vote or two, that would be love that counts, the greatest of all of these Christian notions. (Meanwhile, why did I grow up in Christian fundamentalism where not cussing, not lusting, and especially not lusting after someone of the same gender, and “patriotism” seemed to be the paramount goals? What “Christian” leaders allowed that to happen? What are the roots of this navel gazing, private part fixation, and Constantinianism?) Continue reading

0

Mother’s Day and Humane Cat Herding–Know Our Rights and Fights!

“Happy Mother’s Day” in many countries in the world. Hopefully you did not have to prepare a hormone-laden turkey dinner for eleven as in Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” painting. I’m not an art critic, so no problem with his Thomas Kinkade style, but I never liked the composition of the painting, and now I pretty much hate it–it’s unchallenging paternalism, the grins, particularly of the younger men, the bourgeois crystal, linen, “silvah,” and china, unh-unh–it did not strike me as, shall we say, reflective of the seriousness of the challenge of resolving hunger in most of the world, or even of “coming out of” the Depression in the U.S. with a fledgling of a welfare state. What an incredible cultural missed opportunity to educate Amurrricans. On the other hand, we have to know our fights, and “our” rights will be met or unmet on tables both alike and unlike this one, and maybe we should suppose that those young men might indeed be overjoyed with the first feast they have had ever or in a long time. IMHO, best not to get too picky with our potential political allies in such matters. So, Norman, if you’re up there, hope you don’t mind my imaginative doctorin'; you did some good popularizing work on human decency, but in this case, thanks for nothing. I sort of love that, according to the most trusted name in news, in 1948 you voted for another Norman, Thomas, but you soon fell off that wagon (and by voting for him you in a tiny way almost helped throw the election to another Thomas, Dewey, and because I am a pragmatist on the left wing of the possible, I would not have liked to see that happen). I will not be holding any candles in your late afternoon-glow honor.

I will try to be at least a little more pro-system change in this diary than a Rockwell painting. This has turned into a socialized Mother’s Day wish directed equally to men and women–not to deprive mothers of deserved praise but in hope of one day achieving a world that will bring all women, and children and men too, freedom from want and fear, if not an occasional huge Butterball. If we want to achieve such a world we must first recognize the clear moral justification for it, something Rockwell completely missed, undoubtedly on purpose, and for that he is morally accountable in my accounting. This moral justification is the underpinning for “rights,” not hoped-for Thanksgiving Day bounty. However, “visualizing” our rights to freedom from want and fear, while incredibly important, is obviously not the same thing as “achieving” it. This diary is also about pursuing the most efficient and peaceful path to such a world. To be as efficient and peaceful as possible on the journey to a just and loving world, we need to know our fights as well as our rights. As many people as possible need to learn about humane “cat herding.” Continue reading

4

“Those hundred lovers are asleep forever.”

So ends De Profundis (Tom Clark’s English translation), a short simple poem by Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca.

The rest of the poem:

Those hundred lovers
are asleep forever
beneath the dry earth.
Andalusia has
long, red-colored roads.
Córdoba, green olive trees
for placing a hundred crosses
to remember them.

I realize that in some ways my timing is off. In the Christian liturgical tradition, Psalm 130, the first De Profundis, came last week, in the fifth week of Lent. And García Lorca did not die this same day one hundred years ago today. He died in 1936, wiki-portedly on August 19, although his body has never been found, and the exact circumstances of his death are unknown.

And life lost another lover yesterday, another leftist García in fact. And reportedly, two thousand years ago, give or take, another outspoken leftist lover of sorts also died today, as observed in some religious traditions, which have a follow-up more optimistic observance still to come.

I bring up García Lorca today because, for my Holy Week, I have been reading his three tragedies, and last night I finished reading the last one.

 

He wrote The House of Bernarda Alba, audaciously, in that same 1936. It was his last completed play. Every word of the play is a poke in the eye of the dishonest rightwing hatred that was coming to ugly fruition all around him.

In these days, let us be so bold as to follow the example of those who have come before us who have dared to say the inconvenient truths and to stand up for the outcast. That is a far better tribute than going to church today or Sunday, to be followed by a plate of ham. Continue reading

0

An Evolving Secular Palm Sunday Sermonette: Direct action is an obligation

purposely made difficult. (Here’s the Wikipedia discussion of “direct action.”) Young people, the worker, and the poor correctly sense the sickness of our world, purposely made to seem invincible. We “expect” them to work when there are no jobs and deal with contradictions and injustice with superhuman self-discipline Jesus Christ would not expect them to marshal. They are made of flesh and blood. They do not like the crap sandwiches we feed them. They sometimes seize temporary escapes or feed on each other. Who can say that is not purposeful too? … but not by them. Every addict, teenager, and petty thief is a revolutionary could-a-been, not to mention a potential profit center. Much better to keep them scrambling for self-medication and blaming each other than to allow them to band together in human solidarity. By all means, keep them from voting. Screw democracy, we’ve got a global economy to run. [Continued from this "top of the blog" video of The Clash's Ghetto Defendant:]

But who are “we”? Which side are “we” on? Why should “we” reflect the interests of the powerful and not the powerless? Just “because”? Who is chained here? Not just the powerless but also the comfortable. The comfortable are chained by their desire for comfort. The powerful dole out comfort. Unless we are willing, as individuals, to lose things the powerful have that make us comfortable, we not only cannot challenge the status quo but are the very instruments of the status quo. And the status quo is a material disbursement of resources. And unfair material disbursement of resources is not God-ordained. Remember the part about “on earth as it is in heaven.” “God,” according to the above-mentioned Jesus Christ, is materially, not just spiritually, on the side of “them,” not the comfortable “we.” A fair distribution of the things that humans need is a moral issue. But, to side with the poor and the weak is to require some of that superhuman self-discipline we cannot expect others, including the poor and the weak to have, which is itself a contradiction that the powerful have on their side. Continue reading

0

Final Cuba Jeopardy Answer–“The Emergence of Marxist Holism”

Sven. Who is Chris Farley?
No, I am sorry that is not correct. Your wager, your guaranteed minimum Celebrity Jeopardy $1,000, takes you down to 0.

Pendejo. I’m a gay pirate from Cuba. I’m sorry, you once again failed to put your response in the form of a question, such as where do you come up with this stuff? With your wager of $1,000, you are also at 0.

Richard. Why to the capitalist overlords Cuba must fail and for the rest of us Cuba “must” succeed? Yes, you placed it in the form of question, with the correct question word at that. You succinctly hit themes of your obscure 2008 India-published book, Talking About Trees: Science, Ecology and Agriculture in Cuba . You even subtly changed prepositions to connote the not fully recognized nature of Cuba’s importance to humanity’s future and added appropriate quotation mark qualifiers recognizing the pivotal role that Cuba could play but implying the stubborn persistence of socialism even if Cuba goes the way of the Soviet Union or China. But don’t get fatheaded elitist. A portion of your winnings is being expropriated for Obamacare! And you’ll be coming back tomorrow to battle the SuperTeachers, beginning with “The Embargo” for $100 on an original reason for the embargo was when Castro declared Cuba a _________ state. If all this musical, graphical, and intellectual stimulation makes you nauseous, go back to Hahvard professor.

Nananana nanana, nananana Na nanananana, nananananananana, Na nanana, na, na, na, pum pum. Continue reading

0

Coping Strategies of Poor Women in the Deep South

I will be brief: A humane society does not effectively force segments of its population to engage in dehumanizing coping strategies under the guise of picking one up by one’s bootstraps.

What leads me to write this diary are the faces and plights of three women in the Deep South whom I have come to know in the last week alone. One is a middle-aged African-American woman who prostitutes for a living, desperately wants to be drug-free but just failed a stupid drug test administered for no good reason by a state engaged in fighting the immoral Drug War, which treats economic, medical, and social problems as criminal matters, so that now she can go back to jail and leave her children to cope without her. Another is an early twenties “white” woman who was neglected by her drug addicted mother as a child, was given the great opportunity of going to a charter school where the county now shuttles its low income problem students, dropped out of school, and who, for a time, found promising work in the exciting career of removing her clothes for and rubbing against the groins of ogling drunk men, but who now, about to give birth to her first child in the county jail, where she was placed after being picked up for an old violation of probation relating to petty theft, is “out of work” and has lost the only thing she owns, a 1999 Jeep Cherokee. [UPDATE: The petty theft charge is interesting. A couple years ago, she attempted to steal from a Walmart $50.52 in children's clothes and $6.00 worth of children's cupcakes to give to a destitute friend who had nothing for her own child's birthday party.] Another is an early twenties African-American woman who no longer is able to strip for a living in the Deep South at another nearby club because she got into a fight with another stripper and lost her job, for which she now sits in jail on a battery charge. What a shame to give up such a promising career in a moment of reckless temper tantrum-ing. She should have kept her cool and put in perhaps another ten or fifteen years in this promising career before the ogling fine Christian “white” drunk men would no longer pay her for just dancing and lap dances. Continue reading