This personally important diary was originally published by Francisco Nejdanov Solomin at his Galtisalie blog at Daily Kos. It is republished here in full.
Ah yes, how us repressed masses just love us some “filth.” Okay, I have little sense of humor these days. But to save someone the trouble of putting the famous “Help! I’m being repressed” video in the comments, I got it covered. Because I was a teenager in 1975 when the movie was released, I would never dispute the almost biblical inerrancy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (I missed the road show of Spamalot at the local community college thee-ayter, but heard it was good.) So, at the outset, please let’s have a good laugh. And truly, I am a fortunate son. I have nothing personally to complain about regarding the treatment of me by and for our world’s 85 wealthiest kings and their noblemen. Everything is just great. If I could just keep my mouth shut about the real exploitation, oppression, and repression that goes on every day in our world, I probably would never have to worry about me experiencing direct repression.
Problem is, I can’t keep my mouth shut. And, if I open my biiiiiiig mouth and say what I am convicted to say, that means very real repression of not only me but also my family and friends. And all of us have to eat and work and have bills to pay.
Importantly, I can’t really choose my words carefully enough and still have them be my cause’s message. You see, I am a deeply committed socialist, just like George Orwell. (Also just like Orwell, I am a deeply committed democrat too. You are allowed to be both. They don’t tell you that in school. In my view and Orwell’s, and many other good folks’ opinions, the two belong together.) Have been one in my heart for over 25 years, but just last year decided to make it official with myself, and, in small relatively safe ways, with our world. I’m still a hardworking Democratic Party member, and expect I will always be, but also now I proudly associate with all manner of pinks and reds, provided they support democracy and civil rights. I challenge anyone who excuses plutocracy, regardless of its label, whether it purports to be “communist,” like North Korea, “market,” like the U.S. and Russia, some combination of “communist” and “market,” like China, or “religious”/”royal” like Saudi Arabia. I also urge Latin American and Caribbean countries on the left to reject authoritarianism, but I recognize that this can be challenging in the face of U.S. neocolonialism and dirty tricks, so I also take on U.S. neocolonialism and dirty tricks.
If one looks back through my diaries, one sees me stumbling, correcting, growing, and hopefully seeking the truth even if I do not always find it. In short, I am receiving a free-thinking intellectual education I did not receive growing up. For this opportunity, I am grateful to Daily Kos. To me, it is the best place I have found for broad-spectrum Socratic dialogue with the aim of making a better world. Moreover, recently I began to get involved with a handful of groups at Daily Kos to develop a more in-depth understanding in areas of particular interest. Importantly also, Daily Kos, for us pseudonymous bloggers at least, is relatively “safe.” That is important to me at the present time.
Speaking of the U.S., the plutocrats usually live in multiple splendid palaces all around the world, but they know that the Deep South of the U.S. is their Bastille. Not in the sense of a fortress, but in the sense of a penitentiary, in a regional economic, political, and social form that does not need bars, bricks, and wire. For, in the Deep South, where low-wage “right to work” only begins to describe the true state of affairs, we are only as economically free as the plutocrats allow us to be, and the social and political institutions are rigged to keep it that way.
What the plutocrats most fear is that the left will become democratically empowered. If that happens, it is highly likely, among other things, to result in the dramatic curtailment of income inequality, not just an occasional nip at the margins. But for that to happen, the Bastille will have to fall, and they are determined to not let that happen. They know President Obama is not really on the left, although they repeat that refrain constantly (not to mention “Stalinist,” “Führer,” etc.). I cannot rationalize President Obama NOT pressing the case for addressing income inequality vigorously. When he expects zero cooperation from Congress anyway, except possibly on immigration, why not blast away? In any event, as Charles Blow observed about the recent State of the Union address:
There was only one line devoted to fixing our “upside-down tax code” for individuals, and that was in reference to the retirement account. Gone were the appeals to get Congress to have the wealthy pay their fair share.
How would or at least should a socialist be communicating under these circumstances? Let’s look at Orwell on that. The plutocrats and their mercenaries selectively quote and misapply to President Obama’s wildest dreams of some mildly redistributionist policy Orwell when he correctly pointed his fingers at the Animal Farm of totalitarianism. But they overlook that Orwell himself proposed such things as:
1. Nationalization of land, mines, railways, banks and major industries.
2. Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than ten to one.
3. Reform of the educational system along democratic lines.
Being a socialist to me comes with certain responsibilities. You can have your own definitions, but my definition of a “capitalist” begins with, “One having a high tolerance for other people’s pain …” So, no matter where I live, I can’t very well do what I accuse the capitalists of doing. I must “feel your pain,” as another U.S. “centrist liberal” (of yeah, who growing up in the U.S. would know that liberal in a fair evaluation is actually centrist, not left-wing?) who became president was known for doing when he wasn’t triangulating and you know … other stuff that was Hillary’s fault.
And being a socialist to me also means getting off my bottom and raising hell to change the structures that are based on ignoring the plights of others, especially those who are weak. At a minimum this means using you know words, but words alone are not enough. As Gerrard Winstanley of the Digger or True Leveller movement wrote in 1649:
Then I was made to write a little book called, The new Law of righteousnesse, and therein I declared it; yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts run in me that words and writing were all nothing and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou does not act, thou dost nothing.
Pretty important point coming from the leader of “the first organized anti-capitalist movement in history.” However, without words and writing, no coordinated action will happen. So, I want to do both the word stuff and the action stuff. Hopefully most of it will not be in anger, but for justice in the service of love.
Yet I do have strong things to say that I think need to be said. Such as:
Damn right you rich jerks, your filthy riches need to be expropriated. If the 85 richest people gave up their wealth (as Jesus would have them do, by the way) half the world’s population, i.e., the 3.5 billion poorest people, could have twice what they currently do. Sounds like justice not injustice to me. Let’s subject it to a worldwide democratic vote, and grant the left in all countries true freedom of speech, and see how it turns out.
This is not a message I have ever in my lifetime heard screamed from the back of a pickup truck. I live in Nowheresville, Deep South, where we actually do not express glee at the sight of “filth,” may be female or male, may have any skin pigmentation or shape of nose resulting from natural selection, may be GLBT or straight, and, most surprisingly, somehow someway may not have turned out to be reactionary. I cannot blame major metro liberals (whether their city is in the north, west, or south) with their fancy po-litical ideas for sometimes ignoring or even belittling our region because indeed, many of us are reactionaries, and, as Democrats, the broader “we” has elections to win in winnable districts and states. But, let’s all agree on one thing, we down heuh were not born that way. When we left our mommas, whether as First Peoples, African American, Scotch-Irish American, Hispanic American, Asian American, some other ethnicity, or a mixture like me (half Hispanic American and half Scotch-Irish American), we were bent on justice and equality.
What the hell happened? Our region’s hyper-individualist Walmart-greeting belle-icose po-litical power is making the world more miserable and poor, so you have the need to know. As fundamental as is “race” to understanding the Deep South, I think there is something even deeper going on down heuh relating to mo-rality. Because, after all, what would make a human being think another human being was not a human being based on skin color or facial features? We are not born making such idiotic distinctions. We have to be taught them. And why would anyone teach anyone such rubbish? Could it have something to do with the distribution of “property,” in its real, personal, mixed, and human forms, deemed most beneficial to the interests of the predecessors of the current 1%? Could they have been willing to inculcate “the violence inherent in the system” that would go so far as to ethnically cleanse an entire region and then reintroduce the enslaved “other” to raise cotton, tobacco, sugar, indigo and rice? Yes and yes, and I think it did, and still does, have a lot to do with mo-rality.
But where does mo-rality come from? I think the answer is right before our eyes, or more accurately, a short distance above, behind, and below them. We here in Nowheresville, unless we are a woman, minority, GLBT, or immigrant, as farmers, plumbers, and teachers, parents, deputies, and preachers, largely do not think much less talk deeply about “justice” and even “equality,” and to the extent we talk about them, we use white-washed definitions given to us by the kings. The ultimate reason we do that IMHO? One word–plasti … no … repression. If there ever were a region in the world that should be having an ongoing conversation about THE CLASS STRUGGLE, it is the Deep South. But, sadly, we do not–at all. I am here to report that the reason is that repression always has been and is alive and well in the Deep South of the U.S. For it is only through repression in one form or another that most “white” parents and preachers in the Deep South do not have the goddamn good sense, human dignity, and grace to teach the “white” children under their care to love even each other much less all children, not only in the nursery and school but also throughout life, and to act accordingly, instead of segregating and viciously “competing” throughout life in the frigid bread wars and literal wars around the world waged at the instance of the 1%, in which, at any moment, anyone can be left out in the cold or blown to bits. In one form or another, repression by and for the 1% is the means for constantly shutting out from the cultural conversation attentiveness, compassion, and solidarity and constantly whipping up corn-syrup slurping obliviousness, self-centeredness, and ethnic hatred. So, at the risk of guffaws, I want to talk about, and personally stand up in a small way to, the pervasive state of repression in the Deep South against the left, the guardians of justice and equality, by and for the 1%. That is what happened. In fact, it happened among my own left-wing Cuban American ancestors, most notably around 110 years ago.
I will discuss this “What the hell happened?” hypothesis below the fold, both from a general perspective and a personal perspective. If you have had enough of my lefty cultural theory, and don’t want to see evidence I can document and vouch for, you may bug out now without me throwing rocks at anyone’s MINI Cooper or even snarling at $4 lattes. Have a nice class struggle!🙂 But in case you are interested, in addition to continuing with the reading of my words, perhaps look up some of the groups at Daily Kos I am now in, with true comrades if you will. We can struggle on without you, but we and the desperate workers of the world, and the out-of-balance world itself, really could use your help.
If the left cannot be outspoken with their views in the Deep South without fear of repression, the conversation suffers, and beautiful innocent children who happen to be “white” are gradually transformed into racist, nativist, and often sexist and homophobic, political Neanderthals. The calculated cradle-to-grave ostracizing of the left creates an “extreme low pressure zone” in the Deep South, with no resistance to the right wing. Financial desperation created by capitalism’s failures creates its own feedback loop of un-rebutted support for hyper-individualism. As we saw with the “grassroots” Tea Party, the right wing cynically fills the anxiety gaps with hate, fomenting crypto-fascism in the U.S.
The repression I am focusing on is primarily what I will call “soft” repression, often indirect in the form of a “chilling effect,” and not the “hard” often physical oppression still experienced by many women, minorities, GLBT, and immigrants, as such, when they, the continuing “other,” try to drive the streets and walk the sidewalks of the Deep South. Gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality-based discrimination are each serious continuing problems in their own right, of course, and do often end in physical violence directed against the continuing “other.” Nor is what I am focusing on predominately the hard often physical repression experienced by labor that would dare to organize and stand up for itself in this country and around the world.
But, make not mistake, the soft repression of which I speak does have its roots in and continuing relation to the repression directed against the various civil rights movements and the labor movement. It is all about the 1% and their mercenaries intentionally creating a widespread empathy deficit disorder by dominating the culture with reactionary thoughts and intimidating anyone from expressing other views. What I am focusing on is directly related to and in some ways no less sinister than “hard” oppression and repression because it prevents the left from having any chance to win “the hearts and minds” of the politically dominant part of the Deep South population. Although soft, it is still quite real and extremely damaging to the political dialogue in the U.S., just as the 1% and their mercenaries intend it to be.
Capitalism survives by perpetuating the culture of the bully. Who dares to rise to the rescue of the beaten when by doing so they will get their share too? The purpose of fomenting both discrimination against “the other” and harsh treatment of the uppity worker is to divide-and-conquer, which is the means to avoid human solidarity. Human solidarity is the quickest way to an insurmountable democratic majority to end the power of the 1%, so we can’t be having that.
Bullying by and for the 1%, not to mention graft to benefit the 1% and their underlords, is still ongoing and moreover in some areas intensifying as the 1% buys up state legislatures, privatizes prisons and social services, and passes harsh anti-union legislation in former union strongholds. Although the right is losing some battles over discrimination, as cultural attitudes shift, most notably in the area of GLBT rights, it is still callously attacking reproductive freedom and opportunistically fostering good old-fashioned discrimination, as we saw with the Trayvon Martin case and as we see with voter suppression. It is critical to keeping most white southern workers in the Republican Party for the 1% to ensure that from an early age, day in and day out, they hear only one side on most issues. More important than even commercial and other telecommunications outlets (i.e., Fox and all manner of other blatantly economically-conservative TV, right wing radio, the internet, and social media) is what they get from the people closest to them they trust and see every week: papas and mammas, coaches and preachers. They are continuously personally exposed to a superficially “comforting” but actually grotesquely fearful culture centered on the moral inadequacies of “the other.” At church this is buttressed by express mo-ralizing and selective reading of portions of the Bible and with the aid and support of reactionary clergy. As a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid from the Deep South, whose dad has mellowed significantly in his old age and whom I love dearly, I know of what I speak. The most significant things directly or indirectly trickling down in these personal exchanges and sermons are salvation/heaven/hell/End Times fixation; U.S. exceptionalism and the Founding Fathers’ intent for the U.S. to be a Christian nation; to conform to capitalist authority and accept unquestioningly the competition paradigm; demonization of Democrats, the U.N., and “one world government”; to isolate oneself within the fundamentalist subculture to the extent the culture cannot be made to conform to the subculture; and relatedly to beware of being like the “other,” i.e., those who look differently, think differently, love differently, have different body parts, or are poor or unemployed with their “laziness” contagion, all of which is pretty much the opposite of Christianity as I feel it in my lefty contemplative heart.
The precipitating event for my writing is billionaire Tom Perkins’ recent temper tantrum inversion about the 1% being oppressed. The fact that he was using the most ill-conceived of analogies to Nazi Germany is simply extremely sickening icing on a very rotten cake. I agree with Josh Marshall and Paul Krugman that the 1% are not in imminent “danger” of being coerced into being good human beings by being forced to disgorge the bulk of “their” wealth. Unlike many centrist liberals, however, I see that as an unequivocally bad thing.
I am not worried about hurting the feelings, vaults, and balances in hidden accounts of Mr. Perkins. The 1% certainly are dishing it out all around the world on a daily basis, and nightly retreating to their neocolonial castles. What we have here is the class struggle. The reasons many centrist liberals do not label it accordingly is that to do so is not accepted in polite company because it is a socialist concept. So perhaps we should hear from the filthy socialists on the issue to fill the vacuum? Oh no! To discuss “class struggle,” except as an idea demeaned, is to elicit stunned jaw-dropping silence and retribution. Thus, although this feeling of “paranoia” on the part of most of the super-rich is a reaction to one phase in the class struggle that really should end up democratically “expropriating” the riches of the 1%, it will not do so any time soon.
To me the ultimate question worth asking is, “What peacefully can be done to coerce the return of the stolen property as quickly as possible and to ensure the end of the unsustainable global thievery while meeting everyone’s basic needs?” So, while I think the paranoid twit Perkins is involved in something the psychologists call projection, he also is correctly perceiving that an ill-wind really is blowing the 1%’s way in the U.S. and all around the world–except for the Deep South of the U.S., so they will double down on that region. At any rate, we really should be out to get not the 1% as people but “their” riches, which, in our view, never should have been theirs in the first place. As “just” compensation for the “taking” we offer entry into the good graces of the human race.
Even beyond the Deep South, that there might be a major chilling effect intentionally imposed on the left by widespread capitalist-orchestrated “soft” cultural repression is rarely acknowledged. Even in a new era of outspoken protest, principally including OWS and whatever comes next, it is usually presumed that when it is repressed the left is probably getting what it deserves because occasionally some anarchist rowdies wearing black attending events break windows and such. Of course, while some “window-breaking” is simply stupid and inexcusable, let us not rule out that some can be born of sheer desperation because of the very fact that, from the cradle to the grave, the left is not really freely permitted to engage in speaking the truth as it knows it. “The rock” becomes a proxy for a lifetime of repressed speech. In any event, I and the vast majority of the left are not at all rock throwers, so please put that red herring back in your pocket Rushbo. We respect democracy, we just wish there were a lot more of it.
By right-wing design, the left is not supposed to exist in the U.S., the better to crush the centrists and to work the corporate media ref Wolfbos and Joebos. And in the unlikely event someone on the left manages to grow up in Bugtussle, Siler City, Petticoat Junction, or Hooterville, he or she is supposed to move to the big city or suffer in silence the day-to-day repression by and for the 1%. For after all, we are not supposed to rock the boat of capitalism, which so graciously provides an ever-declining percentage of us with jobs of one sort or another until a lower-waged worker or ideally a robot can take over.
No matter how peaceful and democratic we are, because we want a return of stolen property and a more fair system of political economy we are anachronistic “bloodthirsty Bolsheviks” in their eyes and in the bought-and-paid for eyes of their mercenaries, including most of the corporate media.
Certainly my personal situation is an infinitesimally tiny fraction of miniscule compared to the least incident of repression documented in Hellraisers Journal. But I think it is illustrative of a serious issue that is rarely talked about in polite company in the U.S., conveniently tied, of course, to the total conflation of democracy with capitalism.
There really is no good way to write about this I have been able to think of that does not invite upon myself the very repression of which I write. In my favorite book, Turgenev’s Virgin Soil, published in 1877, some of the young would-be revolutionaries in Czarist Russia are at a loss of what to do to make a better world. In frustration, they occasionally do “rash” things, like talk to peasants about the need for revolution. Most of these rash things wind up also looking “foolish” and certainly causing themselves and others they care about a lot of trouble.
The point I think Turgenev wants us to take from it is that meaningful revolution in Russia (which did in fact occur a few decades later), if it were to come at all, could not be rushed, no matter how much one may want it to be. We cannot ponder our way out of it or even foment our way out of it:
Nejdanov spoke about the antagonism between Heine and Borne, Proudhon, and realism in art. Solomin alone sat listening and reflecting, the smile never
leaving his lips. Without having uttered a single word, he seemed to understand better than the others where the essential difficulty lay.
Turgenev, I.S., 1877. Virgin Soil.
In a way, Gramsci in the 1930s said the same thing in a different context when he addressed directly the issue of cultural hegemony. (Please see northsylvania’s eloquent diary, “Beginning Gramsci.”) In the meantime, Turgenev also strongly implies, one should render all the thoughtful mutual aid one can to humanity, while continuing to plant and daily water all “the seeds” one can for a new tomorrow.
I am no longer young, and I do not want to be rash or foolish. But, it seems to me that by definition, in standing up to repression, even if only with words and not rocks, sometimes one invites further repression, which when experienced always winds up feeling like one behaved rashly and foolishly. Perhaps it is tempting to go back to merely pondering “the antagonism between Heine and Borne, Proudhon, and realism in art.” Following the Gramscian approach, you and I nonetheless try to do our bit to change our culture in a way that will promote justice for all coming one day. Given the sorry state of political democracy in the U.S., and the undemocratic transnational corporation-orchestrated global neoliberalism, that day may be far into the future.
However, we will keep trying, and the 1% and their mercenaries will keep trying to discourage us from even trying by all manner of threats and intimidation.
I joyously look forward to the day when the powerful capitalists are democratically “coerced” into being good citizens of our planet, to use the word aptly chosen by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
So I say, Mr. Perkins and the rest of the 1%, “Welcome to the class struggle, which is real, and which may one day not work out in your favor.” It is where the poor and weak and their allies already live. The current 1% and their predecessors created this world as we know it for their own enjoyment. If political democracy were working properly, the 1% should not be enjoying things. But it is ironic that they sense, or say that they sense, their party coming to an end sometime in the near future. I, sadly, do not.
The 1% have mastered government corruption and divide-and-conquer to such a high degree that, for the foreseeable future, they have nothing to worry about. I look around and see extension of the 1%’s visions all around the world. The 1% have set up for themselves a nearly unified neoliberal global economy that is based on economic exploitation, recklessness, and unsustainable resource depletion every bit as real as colonialism.
In addition, they repress day and night anyone who would dare speak up about anything they find inconvenient.
This is nothing new. For centuries now, with the weakening of the privileges of “royalty” and the ascendance of capitalism, the new 1% has been exploiting, harassing, discarding, and if necessary beating and killing workers (and their families) who would dare to organize effectively to end the power of the 1%, which is now the ultra-elite of the capitalist class and no longer a feudal class expressly based on lineage. Now the 1% are in the advanced stages of crippling if not destroying government programs and unions that provide the workers a small measure of justice. Those government programs and unions were born on the left, not in some centrist think tank. To disengage the left from the cultural dialogue may work for individual still-employed workers, but it is eventual economic suicide for the mass of workers, poor, and needy who rely on government programs and unions for some small measure of justice.
I am more than a little happy to say that cultural dialogue and education of the workers to be their own intellectuals is part of my family heritage in the cigar industry. Here is a photograph of my grandmother’s very own tío Pancho, better known as Francisco Milián, a radical leader of labor in turn-of-the-century Hillsborough County, Florida.
Florida was firmly ensconced in the Jim Crow Deep South. Forced immigrants from Africa had provided the slave labor and later sharecropper labor for much of Florida’s agriculture. When Florida began trying to industrialize, it was brown and black immigrant artesanal labor from Cuba and their descendants that powered Florida’s first and by far largest industry for several decades. And they were uppity, really uppity, as in anarchist, communist, and/or socialist uppity.
None was more uppity than Pancho. He was so uppity that late one day Tampa Police outside their jurisdiction on their night jobs as hooded KKK mercenaries kidnapped him as he left the city hall of West Tampa, where he was the duly-elected mayor, stripped him, beat him, and at gunpoint forced him onto a ship to go back to Cuba. If you read Hellraisers Journal, you quickly come to realize that back then, as today, deportation, even of perfectly legal immigrants, was a major tactic of repression against uppity labor. I speculate that Mayor Milián and my other relatives were considered to be in some sense legal immigrants because of their value as wage slaves to the cigar industry and significant political participation, but as a matter of mo-rality, anyone who provides labor here should be entitled to the rights of citizenship. In any event, Pancho rejected their barbarian ploy by getting off in Key West and returning to a hero’s welcome of thousands of cigar workers. Oh by the way, his crime: reading “Marxist and other anti-capitalist viewpoints” to the cigar workers in his day job as lector. (Online sources referencing Francisco Milián and the semi-famous Milián incident can be found various places, including here, here, and here.)
Over a century later, Pancho has a great great nephew somewhat carrying on the family tradition of radicalism in the Deep South, but in a far more sheepish way. I am particularly proud to be in the Hellraisers Journal group at Daily Kos in honor of Pancho and the many others who sacrificed for the cause of the worker. As JayRaye beautifully wrote, “We never forget” about the Ludlow Massacre. Each day, Hellraisers Journal works to document hundreds of other incidents in the U.S. alone where labor has suffered viciously in ways that the 1% never will. (Similarly, I am proud to be in In Support of Labor and Unions to support the cause of the worker in the present time.) We do not wish upon the 1% what their predecessors did to the workers and their families either, for as Mother Jones taught, one should have “a high sense of justice for all mankind-malice toward none.”
I am also in two expressly “anti-capitalist” groups at Daily Kos of which I feel sure Pancho would have approved. It has been a long slow winding path for me to come to socialism. When I was asking tough questions about Marx to scholars who read Daily Kos, I rhetorically posed the questions to Uncle Francisco too. I am now what I like to call a “garden variety” democratic socialist. Although I do not consider myself a Marxist per se, I, unlike apparently Pope Francis, have a great deal of respect for many of Marx’s writings, to the extent I have read and understood them, and, like Pope Francis, now know many good people who are unquestionably Marxists trying to make our world better, and with whom I am pleased to be in solidarity. Same goes for many others on the left who go by various other names, including anarchists, communists, and socialists. Same goes also for many social democrats, who certainly lie left of center but also certainly to my right.
I think that over time, we on the left are learning to learn from each other rather than to promote division and purity. All have good points to make which are worth considering and which should be heard, and which are not generally heard in the current day U.S. cultural conversation. I borrow ideas from all of them in forming my personal eclectic “multi-tendency” democratic socialism, and it is because I have sought out multiple vantage points on the left that I think I am able to recognize in all of them strengths that should be part of the global movement to justice and the better world to come.
A lot remains to be done before we will see that better world. And we are up against scurrilous magnates and their mercenaries who largely control the varying systems of government, down even to the local level in the Deep South. During the Depression, when Pancho’s grave and that of other members of our family, as well as dozens of other cigar workers and their families, were in the way of the annexing City of Tampa’s plans to put in a highway, their bodies were callously disinterred with no effort to keep them separated and then dumped into a common grave out of the highway’s way, where they still lie, without even a historical marker in their honor. (I hope to do a detailed diary on this sorry tale at some point in the future for Hellraisers Journal.)
Again, while violence against labor in the U.S. has receded, nothing much has changed in terms of the ultimate dynamics of repression by the 1%. If you want to make a living, you have to keep your mouth shut and do what the 1% and their mercenaries say. Forget about free speech. There is no free speech in the U.S., unless you take your chances and do it pseudonymously at a place like Daily Kos. To openly declare yourself as even a mild-mannered democratic socialist in the Deep South, where I live, is to make great difficulty for you and those related to you.
Let me illustrate what I am talking about. Several years ago, when I was still trying to make a living as an environmental lawyer representing citizens against big polluters in the Deep South, I was in a videotaped deposition where a corporate polluter attorney grilled our expert witness about an article the expert had once written in the well-regarded magazine Dissent. The corporate bully repeatedly pointed to the part of the article where a membership announcement for “Democratic Socialists of America” was printed. He dwelled on it endlessly, not because that part of the article, or any part of the article for that matter, was particularly relevant to the case, but merely so that it would be clear to the jury later that this expert was a political deviant. Not only did that potentially taint that highly competent expert in our case, but it also potentially harmed his ability to find future work to support his family. After all, what lawyer in the Deep South would not think twice about hiring an expert for a trial in the Deep South who can be insinuated to be a socialist. Perhaps also next time that wonderful man would not dare publish something in that magazine.
Because of concern about repression against my own family and friends (who have absolutely nothing to do with my political views and activism, and do not even know about my socialism), several months ago when, in my spare time, I started a humble little democratic socialist-focused website supporting what I believe are undeniably good things (with a humanitarian motto hopefully most people would agree with: “accepting life’s complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone’s basic needs|being a friend to the weak”) I had to use a pseudonym. But I could not even feel comfortable using my Daily Kos pseudonym because various people know who the real person is behind my Daily Kos pseudonym. So I felt I had to create a second pseudonym. In addition, rather than proudly rolling out my little website for the world, or at least for my peers at Daily Kos, I felt I had to lay low. Since then, when I have wanted to share any of the ideas from my own website at Daily Kos, I have felt I should so by quoting my other pseudonymous self rather than simply admitting that I was that other person, that outwardly declared “socialist.” This made for some ugly looking diaries with ridiculously long blocked quotes by some “other” guy with a weird name who is also just plain little old me.
I am not going to do this ridiculousness any longer. In honor of the class struggle, I hereby say, get lost Mr. Perkins, et al. and your repression, I am a democratic socialist, hear me roar. In the long run, it probably wouldn’t do me much good anyway to try to keep a second layer of anonymity. If some mercenary cares enough to figure out who I really am, I am sure it can be easily done. Again, throwing caution to the wind, I even have joined a couple of truly “left”/anti-capitalist groups at Daily Kos, where I can learn and discuss issues with kindred spirits in promoting a better world through democracy not only of political relations but also of the economy.
If you want to find out about my website, you can now find it referenced in my profile, where I am also telling Daily Kos and the world that Galtisalie is “Francisco Nejdanov Solomin,” neither of which is actually my real name because, after all, in a nation of repression, socialists need not apply and might as well say bye-bye. I am proud of what I do to make the world a better place in my spare time. I am proud to be a socialist in the Deep Dad-gum South. You do not have to agree with me, but please do not harass those who know and love me because of what I believe in with all my heart. That is what is known as hostage-taking, which the right wing has become quite good at in various forms.
Peace, justice, and deep democracy for all,
Galtisalie a/k/a Francisco Nejdanov Solomin