0

Anti-Capitalist Cuba Chat: Support and Recruitment for Granma’s Next Voyage

Why I Write Personally and Plainly About Democratic Socialism

Note: This is an excerpt of a lengthy essay on Cuba I wrote around eighteen months ago when, without my knowledge, the U.S. and Cuba entered secret negotiations to reestablish relations. It was part of my political coming of age pamphlet I published later that summer, which can be obtained in English or Spanish at gardenvarietydemocraticsocialist.com. (To read about my Cuban American ancestors, including my radical ancestor tío Pancho and his sobrina, my very own wonderful Cuban American Granma, mi abuela Laura, please go to the pamphlet!) I republish now the parts of the essay that most relate to Cuba’s future and the future of socialism–in celebration of this historic moment, and also in hope that the future will not be an end to the socialist revolution, much less a capitalist takeover, but a new glorious phase in Cuba’s history that can be an example of deep democracy to the entire world. I dedicate this republication to the revolution my Cuban American ancestors dreamed of, and helped pay for twice, and to my dear close Cuban-born friend mentioned in the essay.

The Granma was invincible, like the spirit that moved within its deck! There were forces at work in addition to purely physical ones, and they too withstood the storms and drove the boat onward to its destination. One thought, one common ideal, one single desire, was projected in a single direction: the soil of the enslaved homeland.

Pérez, F.

I have no doubt that the voyage of that nearly sinking yacht, grossly overloaded with filthy and seasick would-be liberators, represented the dream for Cuba of my ancestors and hundreds of other forgotten families like them who came to the U.S. during the 19th century to provide workers for the newly-established domestic cigar industry. That is why the year before the voyage Fidel Castro came to Hillsborough County, Florida for several days to raise money. By then most of my West Tampa ancestors were only in the memory of mi abuela and a few other scattered relatives, their gravesites long since placed beneath a highway by the City of Tampa. All Granma-related propaganda and superstition aside, it is nice to think that they were part of a universal spirit of deep democracy that “moved within its deck!”

As we cautiously begin to improvise the next voyage of our Granma, this one to provide deep democracy to the whole earth, it is important to search for this spirit. One way to find it is to remember that the roots of the Cuban revolution extended beneath the Florida Straits to poor Cuban-American working families who were socialized to believe that they were part of something that included more than them and their own serious crises. They were militant labor people, and many of them were also socialists, communists, anarchists, and various mixed versions of these uniting in anti-capitalist views.

Their dream was not the hollow U.S. corporate version of freedom still ruling Cuba when the 82 revolutionaries set their feet on Cuban soil. That version of freedom had repressed them just as it continued to repress those in Cuba when Castro and his comrades came ashore. That version of freedom, in typical reckless boom-and-bust circumstances discussed by Marx generations before, had caused the Depression that variously put them out of work. Then that version of freedom became cozy with Franco. When Castro came to town, that version of freedom was Batista’s. Thus, by the time Castro got there to solicit funds, generations of cigar workers and their families in West Tampa and Ybor City had never hesitated to collect from what little they had in mutual aid to each other and to the causes of true freedom in Cuba and Spain.

Some of my family probably walked to and from the factory not only dreaming of a better day but also whistling the Internationale. Over a century of demagoguery and repression in the U.S. repels most of its inhabitants at the mere mention of the name Karl Marx. Capitalists who Marx aptly described snicker at their own cleverness. They thank mammon that Stalin, Mao, and other exemplars of totalitarianism practiced their inhumanity as “communists” and “socialists” with some words twisted from Marx and inverted to their own ends. I do not agree with some of the things I have learned about Marx’s beliefs, and he certainly failed to work out a mature system for socialism. But he was a humanitarian and not a promoter of cruelty or totalitarianism.

Under the combined daily influences of the corporate media, the pressures of consumerism, and a host of opiates, literal and figurative, good people can be unconsciously converted into forces of reaction. They are kept in debt, in fear of layoffs, and quick to consciously or unconsciously do their masters’ bidding—which include avoiding any rational discussion of the pros and cons of capitalism, socialism, or some reasonable blend thereof. The daily pornography of giveaways to transnational corporations, global financial gamesmanship, economic injustice, the defense industrial complex, cow-towing to dictators who control dwindling supplies of irreplaceable resources, and global warming escape notice.

In the streets of West Tampa and Ybor City beginning more than a hundred years ago, the working people were taking keen note of the world near and far and were not repelled by Marx or other leftist intellectuals. They were politically-oriented, actively participated in electioneering when political institutions were open to them, and wanted to learn the alternatives to capital exploitation. They saw capitalism as a system that potentially fed them but also one of racism, oppression, and imminent abandonment, the deeply flawed heir to imperialism.

Capitalism wanted to treat them like things—just like other things such as Cuban tobacco, but ideally more expendable. Tobacco leaves were not hated, beaten, and fired for striking. Tobacco was a valuable commodity always desired. Skilled cigar makers had some clout for a time, but this only incited greater rage on behalf of the capitalists who hated having to treat workers as human beings. Always vulnerable to oppression, unredeemable union people to the end, by the 1930’s many of them were out-of-work and completely destitute, forced to piece together one meal at time before moving on, if they were lucky, to low paying jobs outside the cigar industry, locally or in other cities like New York, or in the case of mi abuela, Miami. Vicious anti-labor firings and repression, machine production of cigars, consumer shifts to smoking cigarettes, and for the lectors, replacement by radios emitting non-confrontational advertising-fueled pablum—all of these contributed to the end of a now forgotten major portion of Florida history. This history was a major part of the great labor struggle in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries, which for the most part capital won, using any means necessary.

In the early 21st century and still in the southeastern U.S., at least one of the descendants of the losing side is now a socialist. I have learned of and will not forget their lives and values—and the U.S. roots of the Cuban revolution, which is in turn a continuing inspiration to the desperate throughout Latin America and the world. Continue reading

0

“Tough S*** [Racist Epithet Deleted]”: Lawandorder, Lake County, Florida, 1972/U.S.A., Today

Surely, great racial progress has been made in the U.S. since 1972. After all, the racial epithet is now deleted. Just looksee above. So, I get some credit, right?

Indeed, some of us grow as human beings, and that is to be valued and encouraged. In 1972 living in Lake County, Florida, raised to be an unquestioning Preacher’s Kid who considered conservative Republican politics to be synonymous with morality, and unquestioningly accepted that Richard M. Nixon, the One, was right on Vietnam and everything else, I never would have imagined that I would eventually grow to reject nearly everything I had been taught. Even my fundamentalist dad has grown, thanks in part to learning to accept the true selves of my lesbian little sister and her partner, although telling him I had become a Democrat a quarter century ago seemed like it would give him a heart attack. He even expressed some remorse last month with the prospect of voting for Rick Scott a second time, although I am so glad to still have him around and talking again (after thinking early this year that he was gone to us for good) that I can forgive him for his long-established rote voting pattern.

Certainly, when he reflects back on his ministry today, my dad expresses greatest remorse for the Southern Baptist church’s reactionary positions and actions on the matter of race. So, forgiveness is in order. And please dear Jesus, don’t let Dad find out that I am a frigging democratic socialist, that truly would kill him, especially with the Dolphins certain to not make the playoffs when they almost certainly lose to the Patriots later today. In our family, the only thing we loved more than conservative Republican politics was the Dolphins, so obsessively following the football team is the one theoretically enjoyable pastime we all still have in common. So, uh, Fins up, even though the 1972 “Perfect Season” seems not only long ago but also ironic given what was happening to the north of Miami in Lake County at the time.

Willis V. McCall, after 28 years of racist treachery, union busting, and anti-commie/liberal demagoguery as the lawandorder sheriff of Lake County, Florida, where I spent grades 7-9, did not grow as a human being. In 1972, he still had time in office to kick and beat to death in a Tavares jail cell Tommie J. Vickers, an intellectually-disabled African American prisoner who made the mistake of not having the self-control to avoid smarting off to a real southern lawandorder man.

The remains of Mr. Vickers, who apparently had roots in Georgia just like my “white” mother, lie forgotten in a historic cemetery affiliated with an African American version of the supposedly Christ-like fundamentalist denomination I was raised in. He would not have been at all welcome in the church my dad pastored in Leesburg in the early 1970’s.

The Dixiecrat Sheriff McCall was soon to be suspended by the progressive Democratic Florida Governor Reubin Askew. Meanwhile, between the time he was suspended and would lose reelection on the same day Nixon, the One, won big time over that hippie-loving McGovern, he would remain de facto in control. The evil man’s banality in the same county commission meeting that announced “Letter from Frank X. Gliozzo, Attorney, concerning the claim in regard to Tommie Vickers was referred to [the county attorney]” made it difficult to tell whether it was the acting or the suspended sheriff’s requests that were being respectfully rubber-stamped:

Sheriff Meech and a representative of Motorola were present and informed the Board the radio equipment in the Sheriff’s Department tis [sic] antiquated. Mr. Meech advised suspended Sheriff McCall had instituted a study of needed equipment, and the study had been completed. The Motorola representative described the necessary equipment including two closed circuit television cameras at a cost of $21,412 with 6 to 8 weeks delivery. Chairman Windram said this will be considered when the budget is finalized. The Sheriff also recommended that a security screen be installed over the windows in the Jail and requested permission to obtain a price for same. Request was granted.

I never knew Mr. Vickers or learned about his death. I doubt we would have prayed for his mourning family, although I can find no record that the matter of his unfortunate “passing” for the act of dissing the sheriff ever made it into the Leesburg Daily Commercial. But, that’s all in the past, right? Continue reading

2

“I Live in Fear”: When the “Rule of Law” Is Not the Point, Mr. President

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And so, we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.

President Obama, 11/24/14, Transcript.

Thus President Obama began his “few words suggesting how we might move forward” after the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision. I believe that this “first and foremost” ranking and associated word choices have seriously harmful cultural resonance, and I hope that he abandons them immediately when referring to the nationwide crisis centered upon Ferguson. Although the president quickly, but somewhat superficially, shifted the focus onto the wishes of the Brown family, a giant opportunity was missed to acknowledge at the outset the core principle involved, which was and is not the “rule of law” but “freedom from fear.”

Now more than ever we must begin to know and insist upon our rights as human beings, U.S. “rule of law” be damned. Where human rights are not being protected, as they were not on the streets of Ferguson when Michael Brown was slaughtered, and as law enforcement in the U.S. has shown no propensity to do, suggesting that the rule of law is the defining principle is inaccurate. The rule of law is to avoid compelling human beings as a last resort to rebel against oppression, not to mask barbarous acts of oppression.

While the president is famous for slow starts and strong finishes, now is not the time for a slow start, much less a chide. And, sadly, chide is what he did. Undoubtedly he would have been called a white-hating Kenyan dictator had he begun with the truth, but, as we have learned, he will be called that anyway.

Rather than first voicing the primary need at this time for solidarity with those who have been and are harmed and threatened by police brutality–a fact that President Obama certainly knows based on his own life experiences and years as president responding to repeat instances of law enforcement violence against African Americans–he began with a chide to those who recognize this so-called “rule of law” for the hypocritical mask of oppression that it is.

It was as if the most important message at the time was the need to prevent the breaking of windows, so apparently hallowed under the rule of law and much more important under our system of government than preventing police and police wannabes from killing young African American men. The latter must grin and bear the constant unequal risk that they will be stopped, frisked, and even shot by “demonizing” white cops. But we here in the U.S. of A. expect our cops are going to protect those Swisher Sweets, priority number one.

The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights voices a much more candid message about the pitfalls of proffering a hollow rule of law that does not prevent oppression:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

FDR captured this through the “freedom from fear” concept in the Four freedoms speech, which made it into the preamble:

The ideas enunciated in the Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms were the foundational principles that evolved into the Atlantic Charter declared by Winston Churchill and FDR in August 1941; the United Nations Declaration of January 1, 1942; President Roosevelt’s vision for an international organization that became the United Nations after his death; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 through the work of Eleanor Roosevelt.

While President Roosevelt on January 6, 1941 in his state of the union speech was focused on a world at war and accordingly “translated” the concept “into world terms,” freedom from fear definitely applies at the individual “neighbor” level as well as at the international level.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception—the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change—in a perpetual peaceful revolution—a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions—without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

Freedom from fear properly was cast in moral terms, so that, by implication, denying the Brown family and other African American families freedom from fear is itself immoral and outside the intent of having a so-called rule of law. Thus, any rule of law that exacerbates the Browns’ fear and the fear of millions of more families like the Browns is not worthy of respect and we need not and indeed MUST NOT “ACCEPT” IT. So no Mr. President, we do not “accept” the outcome of that grand jury. Continue reading

1

Illusions and “the Least of These” in the Japanese and Wholly Walton Empires

I am republishing a new version of this diary, first published last Sunday night for Anti-Capitalist Meetup before it was ready to see the world. I have extensively rewritten it in light of the pointed feminist left analysis of Geminijen. She was right–I was inconsistent in simultaneously empathizing with the victims of the Japanese “comfort women” mass crime while mentioning the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal without acknowledging the associated dynamic of workplace exploitation–and the emerging horrific decades-long Bill Cosby workplace scandal just makes that more apparent. Exploitation of women, in its many shameful forms, is a huge part of human injustice to the vulnerable that should never be overlooked or minimized. The very point of my diary is to pull back layers of illusion in our society. I hope I have now done the topic greater justice.

In the late 1960’s, when I was in about the fourth grade in South Florida, one Sunday night a Japanese “foreign missionary” named Shoji Honda came to speak at the Southern Baptist Church where my conservative Hispanic dad was pastor. Long before the cars with that last name became commonplace on U.S. streets, I knew about the motorcycles. Meeting this friendly and intelligent young man was about the most interesting thing that had happened in my life up to that point in time.

Shoji taught me and the other kids how to sing “Jesus Loves Me” in Japanese and Spanish. If we met again I would like to ask him if Jesus loved the “comfort women” the imperial Japanese Army forced into sexual slavery during and after WWII or the undocumented Latin American families who are trying to feed and house themselves in the town in the Deep South where I live today. As a leftist who also happens to be Christian, if there is anything that keeps me loving my version of Jesus (liberating socialist) it is that the answer in both instances would be yes. But by the example of many conservative religious people of yesterday and today in Japan and the U.S., the answers would be “What comfort women?” and a spittle-flaked “Hell no.”

Many of the Christians in my town still are part of the tarnished Tea Party set spouting about the imminent Stalinist state that soon will be in control in the good ole U.S. of A. (The thought that President Obama now is allowing some of the poor brown workers we see every day to become documented and remain here with their families has them in a reactionary tizzy.) I am tempted to tell them that they have it about half right. Arguably a variation on a creeping dictatorship is increasingly in place in the U.S. It is not state capitalist but late market capitalist in nature, and its dictator is not Barack Obama (an empathetic human being of humble beginnings and a big heart with whom I, as a democratic socialist, disagree on many things), nor even one person, elected or otherwise, but the system itself, currently archetypically embodied in the Tea Party’s own funders. But, bad as the Koch Brothers are, it is never good to bandy about comparisons to “Stalin” or that other person whose name is usually mentioned by the Tea Partiers in the same breath. And the Koch Brothers are by no means the only powerful plutocrats in the U.S., although they are among those spending the most to control U.S. politics. They are major multi-tenacled suppliers in chains driven to maintain capitalist exploitation for as long as natural resources last. You and I have roles too–most prominently as wasteful followers of mass-marketed taste, “consumers” in the Wholly Walton Empire. Continue reading

0

Make No Mistake, There Will Be Trouble Down at the Hamster Wheel

I guarantee it. I am that trouble. I am making that trouble. And so should you.

I feel our pain. I am sorry. It was sad. We try so hard. The deck is stacked. Turnout so low. Lies are told. Again and again. Commercials bombard us. Messaging is targeted. Divide and rule. Impeccably done.

Thank you for fighting. The goals are just. The punishment is not. Mid-term blues hurt. Real people are hurting. We won’t deny it. Two years of garbage. Triumphal reactionaries.

So it really happened. And it will keep on happening.

We must change the system. While working tactically to make the best sausage, we must also think strategically. We must also have a second set of simultaneous tactics. We must figure out ways to take that frigging sausage grinder and break it into pieces.

The system we have inherited is rigged. So, at least some of OUR focus should be on OUR need to change THEIR system to OUR system. Participatory self-rule by the masses of the workplaces, of the planet, of the spaces, high and low, where we have to survive, if we are to live, much less thrive. Continue reading

0

Capitalist “Skin and Beat ‘Em” Tactics Against Students and Teachers in Mexico

Mexico has a lot more to be fearful of than its rural educators and those rural young people who try to make the best of things and both learn and fight to make a just society where students do not have to fight over bones with other students. However, to capitalists, naturally when a poor Latin American country is being destroyed by the capitalist drug war, after being weakened to the point of desperation by capitalist neoliberalism, after being exploited for nearly two centuries by the big neighbor to the north for purposes of capital accumulation, it is time to start changing the subject. Because, after all, Mexico’s problems, as we all know, emanate from the failure of its public school system. That darn Mexican public school system is slow to emulate the wise and knowing educational plans cooked up in conservative Washington think tanks to distract U.S. residents from their own systemic problems, which, among other things, create massive amounts of insecurity and stress which drive demand for legal and illegal hard drugs among U.S. residents, which provides the irrational rationale for the never ending, never succeeding drug war.

Capitalists are so darn smart, handsome, cuddly, and good (except when they get to murderin’ and such) that the Washington Consensus keeps rearing its dapper head–even if it means Mexican teenagers must now lose theirs, and faces too, after standing in solidarity with poor teachers who stand in solidarity with Mexico’s poor. But first, the U.S. Presidential Campaign of 1848 in a nutshell:

Henry Clay, frustrated by Taylor’s popularity as Old “Rough and Ready,” the war hero of Buena Vista, sighed: “I wish I could slay a Mexican.” Don’t sell yourself short dear Henry dear Henry. The U.S. is the gift that keeps on giving–Freeeeeeeedom!

Ah yes, who can forget the son of Freeeeeeeedom, Zachary Taylor, Rumadum Dum? “He’s the boy can skin and beat ‘em. … Everybody!” Sounds vaguely familiar, if you are the parent of a missing Mexican college student.

And who can forget the need for the accumulation of U.S. capital (why did Rosa Luxemburg have to go and talk about that?) in our neighbor to the south (which led to all that debt, which led to the Washington Consensus to get debtor nations out of debt so they can incur more debt), which led to resentment by Mexican landed gentry and capitalists, so that, to this day, the Mexican people totter between exploitation by foreign and domestic capitalists–when they are not dodging bullets, heh heh.

I digress (or do I?):
◾”Crisis in Mexico: Could Forty-Three Missing Students Spark a Revolution?” Well, yes, they could. But let’s consider the dry kindling to which the spark has been applied, shall we? Continue reading

0

In Our Hearts AND on the Ground: International Solidarity with the Deep Democrats of Rojava

The most compelling socialist message is how we live our lives. In many places, such as the so-called “free” U.S., repression against socialists often effectively prevents us from coming out of the closet. We know each other by pseudonyms if at all. The credit to our cause for much of our efforts may be lost and actions misunderstood as advancement of one volunteer cause or another, mere do-goodism–not as revolutionary acts intended to promote change from the world neoliberal system that causes unjust conditions to begin with.

Hardly woe is me however; in Syrian Kurdistan, our sisters and brothers die every day for the crime of living out loving egalitarian solidarity. In truth, woe is “we.” To Islamic State (IS) and its direct enablers in the governments of Turkey and oil-generating Middle East “friends of the U.S.”–making the U.S. in essence the biggest enabler of IS– stateless anarcho-socialism in Rojava is a cause worthy of rape and other torture followed by cruel death.

“We” can come to the aid of the deep democrats of Rojava or watch as our comrades are slaughtered. It is as simple as that. Continue reading

0

you are not a piece of crap, and your solidarity work matters

[This cross-posted piece is by Brother Francisco writing as Galtisalie for Anti-Capitalist Meetup at Daily Kos.]

 

“Resist much, obey little.”

hello cruel world. take that. and that. and that. leftists look injustice in the eye then look for a stick to poke it with, find lonely leaves of grass, and injustice blinks or maybe winks.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”

by the end of 1877’s Virgin Soil, Turgenev’s sixth, final, and longest novel, Nejdanov has taken his own life, unwilling to go to prison in Siberia for a cause that has taken everything from him and will not, in his own mind, accept his desire for the beautiful, culminating, like Whitman, in a desire to write poems. ironically, by dying, his most stalwart comrade, the hopelessly in love Mashurina, is deprived of the one thing, Nejdanov, to which she is devoted other than the revolution. desperate for any remembrance of Nejdanov, Mashurina spends a few moments at the end with the blowhard but equally lonely socialist hanger-on Paklin. Paklin, desperate for conversation and relevance, tosses out stupid questions. Mashurina slams the door:

Paklin pulled himself up.
“Why, of course … do have some more tea.”
But Mashurina fixed her dark eyes upon him and said pensively:
“You don’t happen to have any letter of Nejdanov’s … or his photograph?”
“I have a photograph and quite a good one too. I believe it’s in the table drawer. I’ll get it in a minute.”
He began rummaging about in the drawer, while Snandulia went up to Mashurina and with a long, intent look full of sympathy, clasped her hand like a comrade.
“Here it is!” Paklin exclaimed and handed her the photograph.
Mashurina thrust it into her pocket quickly, scarcely glancing at it, and without a word of thanks, flushing bright red, she put on her hat and made for the door.
“Are you going?” Paklin asked. “Where do you live? You might tell me that at any rate.”
“Wherever I happen to be.”
“I understand. You don’t want me to know. Tell me at least, are you still working under Vassily Nikolaevitch?”
“What does it matter to you?” “Or someone else, perhaps Sidor Sidoritch?” Mashurina did not reply.
“Or is your director some anonymous person?” Mashurina had already stepped across the threshold. “Perhaps it is someone anonymous!”
She slammed the door.
Paklin stood for a long time motionless before this closed door.
“Anonymous Russia!” he said at last.

in some ways, we all have had the door slammed in our face and are left anonymous. more sadly than Mashurina, who at least was on the clearly ascending side of history, we are more like the pathetic Paklin, trying to piece together our own relevance. the oppressors are desperate too, to make us feel that we are on the descending side of history, and oh how it feels that they are right when that door slams yet again. Continue reading

0

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Evo Morales, “Live Well” vs “Live Better”

[This is a cross-post of a wonderful diary by UnaSpenser published by Anti-Capitalist Meetup at Daily Kos. I am proud that it is the first ever post at this humble website by someone other than me! It discusses a subject of great importance to all of humanity, Evo Morales’ “Vivir Bien” strategy for Bolivia, which I think holds great promise as a model for our world. By the way, I have benefited enormously by participating in Anti-Capitalist Meetup. The group “meets,” virtually that is, every Sunday at 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time. Ya’ll come. Solidarity, Brother Francisco]

It can be very disheartening to contemplate the state of the world, these days. Climate change, growing wealth inequality, civil rights erosion, violence, violence and more violence. As a practitioner of bearing witness, it all gets overwhelming and can lead to despair, unless I find beacons of light. One of the beacons I’ve found is Evo Morales of Bolivia.

If you’re not aware of him, he is the first indigenous president of Bolivia. That would be notable, in and of itself, but he has represented so much more than a demographic token. He’s now a leading voice in a worldwide coalition for a sustainable future. Something he calls “Vivir Bien.”

The concept of vivir bien (live well) defines the current climate change movement in Bolivia. The concept is usually contrasted with the capitalist entreaty to vivir mejor (live better). Proponents argue that living well means having all basic needs met while existing in harmony with the natural world; living better seeks to constantly amass materials goods at the expense of the environment.

This isn’t just a vague “feel good” philosophy. It is a set of principles to live by and guide public policy. Let’s take a look at what those principles are, how they’ve been applied in Bolivia and how they are being adopted beyond Bolivia, along with some of President Morales’ personal background. Continue reading

2

Gramsci and Gaza: Getting Palestinians Into Our Inner Space

[First published by Brother Francisco writing as Galtisalie for Anti-Capitalist Meetup at Daily Kos.]

“We were talking about the space between us all”
George Harrison

“It’s always the same story. For a fact that interests us, touches us, it is necessary that it becomes part of our inner life, it is necessary that it does not originate far from us, that is the people we know, people who belong to the circle of our human space.”
Antonio Gramsci

“Hasta allí Gramsci. Siempre un adelantado. Siempre con los que sufren.”
Osvaldo Bayer

We all need justice and safety, none more than Jews in the wake of the Holocaust. But apparently those “filthy Arabs” are humans too. An artificial redefinition of space known as “a new nation” can be founded for ostensibly “humane” reasons but use patently inhumane means of achievement.

I thought in a “constitutional” “democracy” we were supposed to all agree on certain basic organic principles (not including freedom from want and fear, of course) and then work out the details with voting?–unless, of course, we are Native Peoples, African Americans, or European Americans who happened to be poor in the temperate Atlantic region of North America in the late 1700’s. What could possibly go wrong? For a contemporary answer to this non-academic question, so dependent on militarization and deception, look to the southeastern side of the Mediterranean Sea.

The mad, unjust, and unsafe Zionist experiment we now know as Israel has commonly exercised cultural hegemony over U.S. society in relation to the Arab people of Palestine (which includes in my definition what we now call “Israel”). A U.S. President is expected to declare himself (or, perhaps one day soon, herself) “a Zionist” and profess allegiance to Israel’s “right” not merely to exist but to exist “as a Jewish state,” even though this implies sanctioning ethnic cleansing and other forms of oppression in the past and in the future. I hereby call bullshit on this. I am putting down my sitar and typing this post in solidarity with all of the people of Palestine.

Typing, and talking and singing, about the space between us all can be part of the foundation for ending this cultural hegemony. Doing other things positive about the physical hegemony of Israel over Palestine may be the result. But let us not neglect the inner geographical challenge. If the suffering of people in distant lands does not even lead to our mourning their suffering, I think that Gramsci and Bayer would say that our typing, talking, and singing is superficial and that we are not really “with those who suffer.” We have not humanized those whom we do not mourn upon their suffering.

This is not picking on Israel. Dehumanization is the tactic upon which the U.S. was established. It is the tactic upon which capitalism rules the world. Where I live, in the Deep South, “Whites” were quite comfortable singing praises to Jesus while killing and taking the “Indians'” land and killing and exploiting “Blacks” (I’ve not, of course, used the racist terms commonly used by “White” “Christians” for Native Peoples and African Americans back in “the day,” which still exists in much of the Deep South) to fuel “our” (how sweet!) economy, and after that for a hundred years after the Constitution was rewritten, to continue to deny “Blacks” living in what the founding racist fathers decided to call “the United States of America” the basic rights of all human beings. So we are damn good at dehumanization, in the U.S. and all around the world. It may be our most well-developed mass skill.

The question is, how do we end this endless oppressive inhumane rut of dehumanization? We have a Humane Society for Animals but for some reason do not think we should have a Humane Society for Humans. When my dog dies I cry, but when and if I learn that a Palestinian is hit by an Israeli bomb paid for by the U.S. I am supposed to thank the Good Lord that Armageddon is upon us. Continue reading