Today, in a world of despair and desperation, what’s a half-Hispanic Christian contemplative soil scientist who has taken a journey to garden variety democratic socialism grounded in our soil while living on the unpromising landscape of the Deep South of the U.S. in the early 21st century to say or do? Can one draw a picture from the heart to make things better for anyone other than her or himself? What about writing a pamphlet (Pamphlet No. 1: A Winding Path to Workers’ Gardens/Un camino de bobina a jardines de trabajadores) or plunking out words on a hardly stylish website? Granma is not around to read the pamphlet or these words, and she never got mailed my above art work or the sweet letter I wrote. Based on the traffic at this website, is this, what little I could do, once again wasted effort?
I do not think so. I feel really good about this attempt to make a difference. In my walk on this planet I have found a few humans over the years who might benefit from what I have to say about deep democracy coming from my somewhat exotic background and experiences. In the off chance that there are some more out there who may find their way to this website, I am sending my message in this bottle on the seas of capitalist despair and desperation:
We can try to overcome. Your alienation matters, as does our mutual attempt to alleviate this alienation through the solidarity of helping others. We can see ourselves as species-beings. We can daily try to be active “subjects” in the work of human liberation and reconciliation, despite the fact that we live in a complex world. We can daily try to reject the status foisted upon us as passive “objects” in a capitalist “bread-winning” competition or consumers of products we do not need.
In addition, the food justice, soil science, and human physiological information in the pamphlet’s technical report on nutrient scarcity and soil helps to provide a good basis for “workers’ gardens” and sensible nutrient management by sustainable societies. Workers’ gardens make great sense, and I am glad to try to support their implementation the best way I can. And sustainability is the intelligent and meaningful future for humanity, not exploitation.
Yes, it is meaningful to draw a pretty picture for a lonely person, or to blend together whatever concepts one has to offer humanity, even if they at first seem weirdly juxtaposed. The concepts of family, religion, and alienation, AND nutrient scarcity and soil all matter to humanity. Why not try to integrate them the best one can in loving and open-minded socialism? That is part of what I tried to do in the pamphlet. In fact, in my view, socialists have to do this integration. We cannot expect that profit-driven capitalists will do this. Capitalists are not trying to build just, meaningful, and sustainable societies but to dump excess production on buying units.
Billy Bragg, in this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjLXyqD3lvI (which I also link to on page 3 of the pamphlet), has many subtly moving lines, like “Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted.” Superficially light-hearted, he also speaks of “the Third World [being] just around the corner” and his own struggle for relevance in the struggle: “Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is. I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses, While looking down the corridor, Out to where the van is waiting, I’m looking for the Great Leap Forwards.”
In my pamphlet, I also speak of the third world and my own struggle for relevance in the struggle. Turgenev‘s Virgin Soil, a book I love (as abundantly evidenced in the pamphlet and my fake middle and last names), postulates a necessarily long but daily struggle, which he embodies in the practical, silently eloquent, cooperative-founding socialist engineer Solomin. Neruda in his memoirs, still being written in the awful murderous days shortly before his death (in words which I also quote in the pamphlet), speaks of both the easy temptations and distractions from the struggle and the fact that abbreviation of the struggle by “immediatists” does not work. On this Turgenev and Neruda were in complete agreement in their final major works.
In part because I agree with them, I am a “patient” democratic socialist. But it is important to note that patience is not easy, and for the undernourished, unemployed, and alienated, it is not a reasonable possibility. “The revolution is just a t-shirt away,” Bragg sings bitterly not gleefully. We wish we could do more. We wish the promised land were just around the corner where the third world used to be.
For my entire lifetime, the leadership in Cuba has been trying to build an economically just land using paternal authoritarianism. Not the humiliation of selling t-shirts or songs for them. They built something, dammit. They love the Cuban people and the beautiful land around them. Having gone so far and having sacrificed so much and seen so much and won so many battles in hot war, cold war, and peace, they cannot allow the dream to be scuttled by mere political democracy-lite, so they have settled for a variation of economic democracy under a vanguard party that daily loses credibility with non-party members. In many ways they have done well, not only in surviving–in the mountains and brilliantly defeating Batista and then holding off the U.S.-sponsored invaders and then holding out against the U.S. blockade for now generations, not to mention losing the Soviet Union and its satellites as trading partners–but also in building admirable economic justice and sustainability. They have chosen a remarkably patient version of the impatient, i.e. a revolution of liberation followed by a strategy of clinging to power with good intentions, almost as would a mythical benign monarch of yore who forcefully took over from a wicked despot only to face the constant possibility of failure and to sometimes give in to the temptation of repression.
Their tenacity has borne much good fruit but also some bad and sad fruit too, not all of it their fault. In the pamphlet, among many, many other things, I give my amateur two cents worth as to why Cuba needs to become politically democratic to go with the economic democracy (which also needs to be improved), whereas the U.S. needs to become economically democratic to go with the political democracy (which also needs to be improved).
Meanwhile, as Neil Young said (and I also quote in the pamphlet!), “In the field of opportunity it’s plowin’ time again”–for me at least, living in the Deep South of the U.S. I am not in anyone’s vanguard. No one may give a hoot what I have to say, but I say it anyway, as a global deep democrat. May he or she who has eyes to see find these words. My best creative, peaceful, quiet acts of liberation are now in the hands of … fate?
I need to stop neglecting other things rather than spending my evenin’s and early mornin’s, weekends, and vacation time, and every other minute I can spare pamphlet writing and trying to make this amateur greenie-pinko website as good as I can. Having completed the English and Spanish versions of my pamphlet, I will be doing more of my normal chores of weed pullin’, garden plantin’, compostin’, researchin’, writin’ other major things not for this website, mendin’, washin’, dryin’, foldin’, spindlin’, mutilatin’, splicin’, dicin’, etc.–checking in daily on the website and responding to any comments but not producing any major new content. We shall see what happens … Maybe when I look up again from the rich soil of a workers’ garden I will see that deep democracy has taken root in unexpected places–like your heart and mind (not to be presumptuous). If so, please tell me. And if you, my neighbor, need me, may we always find each other out on the dusty road. I do not want you to be abandoned and in need like Romito 2 (see the pamphlet at page 51).
Onward to deep democracy in constant mutual aid, with solidarity always, I am your
P.S. “If no one seems to understand, Start your own revolution, cut out the middle [hu]man.”