Of “dead communist dictators,” cold sore spit, and Orajel™

This piece was first published on 9/21/15 by Brother Francisco as Galtisalie for the Anti-Capitalist Meetup group at Daily Kos.

Nowheresville, 5:00 pm CT, 9/21/15

TESTIMONIAL OF THE CHASTENED: Hello. Good evening, or good morning to my comrades already suffering under the dreaded would-be communist dictatorship of Corbyn. My name is Francisco, aka Galtisalie, and I approve this message. My most humble thanks to our corporate sponsors at Orajel for

Telling the Difference Between Cold Sores and Canker Sores

These two ailments are commonly confused. Both canker sores and cold sores occur near the same location, share many of the same triggers such as stress, facial trauma, and hormonal changes and can be very painful. But, it is important to distinguish between the two conditions to ensure that you get the best treatment available.

[Because this is a kid-friendly Anti-Capitalist Meetup piece, and last week I showed you an image of Che Guevara getting a colonoscopy, which I intended to be comforting to proponents of a single payer health care system, I will let you click here if you want to see nasty illustrations of the two ailments. Also, because my ACM pieces are becoming increasingly obscure, as the personal contradicts plain-spokenness due to lack of sleep and valuable things to say, I hereby provide an obscure executive summary, to use the jargon of our capitalist betters.]

Executive Summary of this Week’s Anti-Capitalist Meetup Diary

1. Everyday People Everywhere Want Themselves and Others to Have the Things They Truly Need to Live Healthy and Fulfilled Lives. Trust Me on That or See This Wonderful 20-Minute Talk by a Socialist Monk in an Orange Outfit, Who Lives in Venezuela, for More Information:

2. Sometimes Very Caring Revolutionaries Make Mistakes in a Complex Capitalist World: Course Correction Can Be Very Difficult and Elections Can Be Lost.

Fledgling Caring Bolivarian Socialism Facing Fierce Reactionary Opposition and Other Extremely Trying Circumstances, Some of Its Own Making,
Gradually Tempted to Morph into Paternalistic Authoritarianism à la Cuba in Order to Continue Trying to Do Right by Its Poor and Predictably Becoming Less Popular in the Process ≈ Economic Justice with Painful Counter-Productive Anti-Democratic Canker Sores, Non-Contagious, Inflamed by Black-Market Corruption

3. The Very Non-Dude Global Capitalist System Abides: the World’s Oligarchs Get Their Way, and the Everyday People Catch the Cold Sores, Because That’s Just the Way It Is, Like the Rising and Setting of the Sun.

Hegemonic Global Capitalism, Sometimes Masquerading as Democracy and Other Times Not Bothering, Existing by Exploiting the Surplus Army of the Unemployed, Keeping Profits and Resource Rents for the World’s Oligarchs, Demanding Outrageous Inequality as the Price of Progress, and Regularly and Periodically Bringing Crises to the Everyday People, followed by Demands for Austerity for the Everyday People ≈ Massive Oozing Highly Contagious Painful Cold Sores Carried by Bribe-Subsidized Political Spit All around the Burning Big Blue Marble and Placed on the Poor and, to a Varying Lesser Extent, Other Members of the 99%

4. Our Friendly, Personable Corporate Sponsors Put the Hood in Personhood

through Advertising and Hired Politicians, Divide and Rule, Spreading Cold Sores and Trying to Create Demand for Their Own Products, Happy to Provide Temporary Relief for Their Sores and Ours, If You Can Afford the Treatment, and Who Can Afford Not to Afford It?


In my inbox the other day was an interesting email from the candidate I support for the U.S. presidency, but this one wasn’t interesting in a good way. Bernie Sanders was being predictably smeared by another Hillary Clinton surrogate, this one a professional dirty tricks artist operating a pro-Clinton Super PAC. The tactic de jour was a modified version of the Clair McCaskill “s” word reference, in other words, red-baiting, but one with a much more devious and implicitly racist insinuation–Sanders is not really a nice dignified northern European style social democrat after all but an out-and-out BAD and UNDEMOCRATIC extremist kind of socialist because he likes the “far left” Corbyn and both are in bed with very BAD and UNDEMOCRATIC people who want to invade our homeland, blow us up, or in some other way make us unsafe.

I am fine that Sanders was able to fundraise off these despicable lies. Good for the campaign. Raise some dough for the cause. Clinton is awful, what’s new?

What I did not feel comfortable with about Sanders’ response was the very thing that a Daily Kos front-pager liked, which was that he showed he could and would say simpleton sound bite bull shite to shield himself from a red-baiting cold sore loogie. To me it was a missed opportunity to educate both his supporters and potentially the broader public about the need for holistic recognition of the complex factors involved in any fair discussion of Venezuela and other nation states within Latin America and the Caribbean, including the need for a global deeply democratic mass movement if we intend to avoid desperate mass movements of people, the “Continental Drift” Russell Banks described three decades ago.

Except with the ugly delusion of Trumpian neo-fascism, “we” are not alone. We do not actually live by ourselves in the world reserve currency bastion with tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities independent of the nightmares of others. Even if those others are only caricatured in two-dimensional migratory zombie dream states, they prefer to do things like eat wholesome food, drink clean water, and sleep without getting raped, kidnapped, or shot:

Bob [from Catamount, N.H.] determines to try to make a new life for himself – to start again; and one fine day, he abruptly picks up his family and moves to Florida, where he’s soon drawn into partnership with his fast-talking brother, Eddie, and with Ave, a childhood pal who’s making a bundle running drugs.

For Mr. Banks, Florida is what California used to be for Raymond Chandler and Nathanael West – a seedy, dangerous place, a magnet for dreamers, entrepreneurs and people with no place else to go. It’s the final frontier, where all that’s left of the old pioneer spirit is a sort of lawlessness and ”me-first” individualism, where those willing to play fast and dirty can get rich quick but where other, more tentative folk, like Bob Dubois, see their dreams disintegrating in damp, pastel-colored trailer parks. Bob, in fact, discovers that his life has skidded out of control in Florida. By moving there, he hasn’t lassoed the bright future he fantasized about; he’s only succeeded in losing his past – the job, the house, everything that once gave his life a modicum of coherence and meaning.

To refugees from the Caribbean, however, Florida still represents the promised land, the tip of the American dream, its palm trees whispering ”luxury and power.” And in a series of alternating takes that counterpoint the story of Bob Dubois, Mr. Banks tells the tale of a young Haitian woman named Vanise, who literally risks everything to get to Miami. Because Vanise’s inner life is never delineated with the care lavished on Bob’s, the reader sometimes feels the author straining to use her as a metaphor for the yet unspoiled immigrant dream. All the same, the collision between her life and Bob’s is so powerfully orchestrated that it takes on the terrible inevitablity of real life, and it lingers in our mind long after we finish the novel.

Sanders for once rejected the complex, threw out nuance, and upped the ante by suggesting that he thinks the famous dead Venezuelan leftist was as bad if not worse by gosh than the presumably realpolitik BADASS Clinton, the one who voted to go to war in Iraq, does:

Yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent Super PACs attacked our campaign pretty viciously. They suggested I’d be friendly with Middle East terrorist organizations, and even tried to link me to a dead communist dictator.

Even though I will never run for dog-catcher much less president, I know what it is like to go with the path of least resistance because that is the way I was raised. But that is not normally Sanders’ MO. I grew up in a Reagan-loving conservative Christian fundamentalist household where the then-ascendant Republican politicians were rooted for as one would a winning sports team. I abandoned that destiny over a quarter century ago and became a democratic socialist in my heart and a Democratic Party member on my voter registration card.

While I idolize no one, the late Michael Harrington, Sanders, and Cornel West were and are some of my greatest positive influences. As West wrote in Democracy Matters:

[O]ur Socratic questioning must go beyond Socrates. … My own philosophy of democracy that emerges from the nightside of American democracy is rooted in the guttural cries and silent tears of oppressed people. And it has always bothered me that Socrates never cries–he never sheds a tear. His profound yet insufficient rationalism refused to connect noble self-mastery to a heartfelt solidarity with the agony and anguish of oppressed peoples.

I do not get the feeling Senator Sanders shed a tear when he applied the “dead communist dictator” label. But this is not just about the nightmares to the south. Having myself seen the continuing injustice of the Deep South for so long, I view U.S. politics, especially in my repressive region, as so much capitalist cold sore spit that has to be tolerated. At best, after you wipe off the cold sore spit, you can speak some truth until the next loogie gets hocked your way.

I can only imagine what it feels like to be Bernie Sanders right now. I know he is in it to win it, and I feel that he can. Is it then asking too much that, as he is increasingly getting spit on (and it will get much worse) by a primary competitor’s financial capitalist campaign with major league cold sores, as well as by the corporate media, he make things educational? Can he not be allowed to demagogue a dead imperfect socialist now and then, or is he capable of being better than that at this time? Is he capable of running to win while also training democratic revolutionaries to think like democratic revolutionaries as opposed to robots who put on our Orajel™ as instructed.

Can he and we learn to dodge, if not love, the capitalist spit coming our way as the sign of moral corruption that it is? If you are a democratic socialist presidential candidate named Bernie whose hero is Debs you know canker from cold sores. If you weren’t so busy running, while also serving as a U.S. Senator, you are fully capable of tutoring your supporters to understand better the nature of the sores. By studying the sores as a matter of scientific complexity, the observations can allow the more important, deeper definitional constructs that should be, but aren’t, on everyone’s minds to be front and center.

Putting aside the campaign, the definitional construct I foremost want to be on everyone’s mind is, not surprisingly for those who know me, “democratic socialism,” and specifically more radical versions, such as the one in the monk’s PROUT video at the top of this piece. I am fine with social democracy for the U.S. as a major part of the path forward, but other versions exist and may be needed, at least in other places, sooner rather than later. PROUT is a vision of global deeply democratic justice for all which many even in the U.S. could democratically agitate for. Its most “radical” features, such as a cap on income (a “maximum wage” to go with a livable minimum wage), frankly make a lot of sense. So, thank you Hillary Clinton, may I have another?

Chávez supporters in Venezuela paying attention to the cold sores of U.S. politics were justifiably offended, and interestingly referenced the “democratic socialist” nature of Chávez’s “project”:

[S]anders’ distancing from Chávez, labeling him a “dead communist dictator” has caused disenchantment in some circles, who reject what they view as an offensive characterization of the immensely popular, democratically-elected late president, whose socialist government has won eighteen internationally recognized elections since 1998.

“Venezuela has become . . . the bad guy. We’re the villain,” Venezuela’s chargé d’affaires in Washington, Maximilien Sanchez Arvelaiz, told reporters.

In March, President Obama issued an executive order branding Venezuela a “national security threat” and imposing sanctions over unproven allegations of “human rights violations”.

Sanders, who has surpassed Hillary Clinton in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls, has up until recently avoided issuing statements on US foreign policy, preferring to focus on confronting economic inequality.

“For the left, Hugo Chavez is/was a reference,” Sanchez asserted, noting that Jeremy Corbyn recently won a landslide victory notwithstanding his public endorsement of the revolutionary Venezuelan leader and his democratic socialist project.

It has been generations since Reinhold Niebuhr recognized that political democracy tended to be superficial and captive to the oligarchs. We see nothing in the current U.S. system that contradicts this observation from having continuing validity, a point which has become a centerpiece of the Sanders campaign. I do not hesitate to criticize my own national government for failing to respect vital economic and political rights that would make “liberty and justice for all” a reality in the U.S.

I am only a little more hesitant to comment on issues of this nature in other nation states. Although my firsthand knowledge is generally limited to the U.S., I am a committed global deep democrat who believes both economic democracy and political democracy need to be in place everywhere, and that one without the other is doomed to fail. That does not mean that I eschew details, and in fact, quite the opposite, I want to know the details and believe that a holistic approach to facts is necessary.

Literally underlying every comment I make on-line is that I believe in “accepting life’s complexity.” That for me means both a commitment to honesty and a commitment to face tough questions and contradictions head on. For instance, I will not avoid ugly and bleak situations, even ones that might put me in the role of constructive criticism of allies.

That is what that orange-robed socialist monk, who lives in Venezuela, did earlier this year:

We should learn from Chávez’s mistakes as well. Good political policies and poverty reduction are not substitutes for sound economic policies. Both are necessary to have a long term impact.

Chávez also failed to effectively tackle corruption; violent crime rose to dangerous levels during his rule, as well. In his constant preoccupation with votes, he turned a blind eye to evidence of corruption by some influential party leaders; if he had courageously launched popular educational campaigns about ethics in every level of school and in the popular media, and if he had denounced and punished wrongdoers, ending impunity, he would have actually strengthened the Bolivarian Revolution.

Another disappointment is that Chávez did not encourage constructive criticism by his followers, nor did he open channels for respectful dialogue and listening to complaints with members of the opposition; a more inclusive stand, like the Occupy slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” could have won the allegiance of many good people among the middle class.

If Dada Maheshvarananda, a powerless socialist monk living in Venezuela can have the courage to criticize Chávez for his failures, Bernie Sanders can have the fairness to at least point out Chávez’s dedicated work for the poorest in a fundraising email.

The situation in Venezuela is complicated and not easily resolved without acceding to the global reactionary catharsis of abandoning the very people Chávez stood up for like no other person ever did before. Issues like the high inflation in Venezuela are not the simple matters portrayed on the pages of business magazines. Even those business magazines recognize that Latin America in general is hurting enormously right now, and that is not Chávez’s fault. Nor is it Chávez’s fault that the U.S., like Europe, are the profit sinks to which millions of sensible desperate people have no choice but to drift.

I wrote a comment at the time of Sanders’ Chávez bashing:

Clinton is the insurance policy for (14+ / 0-)

Wall Street in case they can’t get a Republican. So she and her allies will say all manner of things Republicans say. That’s the rub.

Meanwhile Sanders will just keep fighting and speaking out for the poor and middle class like he always has done. Meanwhile supporters of Sanders do not have to accept every characterization Sanders makes. We don’t have to be an echo chamber to support him. He’s the left side of the possible not a leftist’s fantasy or pinup. Not all democratic socialists agree on everything.

There’s a democratic left of Sanders in the world and even in the U.S. I’m glad to be part of it. And whether or not Sanders says it, Corbyn is a fine new leader of what was formed as a democratic socialist party and has lost its way under the same third way policies Clinton supports. He’s going to possibly save Labour from irrelevance if not disintegration.

And Chavez was not communist or a dictator. He was a democratically-elected democratic socialist president whom the right wing of his country with tacit support of the U.S. tried to take out through a coup. He responded with measures that were not all a good idea. I’m against any kind of deprivation of civil and political rights as well as violence by either side. But Chaves did a lot of good. He also made a lot of mistakes.

So I will stand with Sanders, but I will also push him too from the left when I disagree with him.

garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life’s complexity|working for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone’s basic needs|being a friend to the weak

I could also have said, “What that honest, fair-minded, and loving socialist monk said.” We won’t get to the promised land in the U.S. by failing to be good species beings to those around the world who are most desperate, and by monolithically disparaging their living and dead defenders. We don’t need no stinking Orajel™. The world is fricking complicated, and even in a rapid response campaign email some of that complexity can be noted.

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