Socialism (and hope?) Reaches the U.S.: Kshama Sawant

I remember thinking at some point in time, while I wrote or said something in the same way I’m doing it now — off the cuff and improvising most of it — that the political state of things  was changing in real and tangible ways. Whomever I was with at the moment reminded me that I was delusional, or perhaps even drunk, to actually think that the Occupy movement could mean anything significant for the political landscape of the world – least of all in the U.S. of A. I didn’t budge, but I did see his point: the ‘alternatives’ that people, including the ones at Occupy, demanded were never really articulated in a determinant way, that’s at least what we could gather from the news; we always got a version where they were always danced around, and flowered with terms like “social reform,” “bridging the gap between the rich and the poor,” and other pretty but substantially empty phrases.

And while some of the protesters and occasional journalist, did admire the style of the late Bolivarian leader, Hugo Chavez, and  of other of the new-century Revolutionaries spreading through South America like wild-fire (some would say), they did so from a distance, never really wanting to drink the Kool-Aid themselves, but wanting to see what it did to the brave-ish-foolish ones that did. But today I found out that some — at least one — seems to have taken a step further, however brave or foolish it may be.

sawant2

Kshama Sawant, an economics teacher, former Occupy activist and self-denominated Socialist, according to Democracy Now, was elected to the Seattle City Council on Monday, January 6. Some articles on the net are estimating that this is the first Socialist elected to office in over 100 years. Wikipedia — for whatever it may be worth — says Anna Louise Strong, a radical progressive, was the last far-left person to be elected to office in Seattle in 1916 (School Board). I expect I’ll find out a little more when I get a chance to sit down and actually dig into it, because it’s early and I didn’t expect to get into any of this heavy stuff at this time, without at least preparing my nerves or even a morning coffee.

But so be it. It’s very clear to me that whatever this could actually mean in the future, it certainly got the Washington-crowd out of bed with a jolt this morning, like a cattle-prod to the testicles when you least expect it. And I don’t mean just the politicians — because if it is just another smoke-screen after all, as I suspect some others may be suspecting, then that type of human-machine-dog hybrid that inundates Capitol Hill certainly knew about it — but just the good ol’ civilians; the unsuspecting ones (that sounds like a good movie title). And if rednecks keep up with news, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were already up in arms, planning to ‘take back their country from the reds’ — though I would be surprised if they read the news. In any event, the point is that Kshama Sawant, the Seattle City Council wearing “the badge of Socialist with honour,” has certainly raised some eyebrows.

Now, the thing about it being a smoke-screen is not that farfetched, at least to jaded, or perhaps enlightened, or even unstable (depends where you look at it from) people like me. I wouldn’t put it that far past anyone in that state, or even remotely embroiled in politics, to concoct some bizarre plan to distract from the myriad other issues crumbling on top of them like a house of cards made of heavy and jagged marble (high unemployment rates, Guantanamo, drones, scandals, the overall stalemate in Congress, debt in the trillions, etc.). But it’s way too early to seriously assume that. And if I did, I’d be no better than that individual that was telling me Occupy and other such movements didn’t really mean anything.

I’ve met many people like that — hell, most people I meet are like that. At most, they sympathize with some ideas and call them well-intentioned and idealistic, but unrealistic at their core. These, I think, may very well be the same people that equate “conviction” with “stubbornness,” and “neutrality” or “objectivity” or “open mindedness” with being a fart in the wind, carrying the stench of an expulsed gas to whatever corner the stronger winds may carry them. I recall Thompson’s phrase in Fear and Loathing: “All energy flows to the whim of the Great Magnet…” I guess even a fart is energy, and the Great Magnet certainly doesn’t have to be benevolent, and often, as with most Gods in the religious/mystical history of the world, certainly not free of Greed, Insecurity and an ironically misplaced sense of Self-Importance.

In any case, I’ve always refused to be that person, and it’s always taken a bit more than wind to move me, even when it’s towards the warmth it’s moving me. Now it’s time to see what this Kshama Sawant can really do. She ran on a ticket to raise minimum wage to $15/hour, and Democracy Now reports that Seattle Mayor, Ed Murray, is planning to raise city employees’ wages to just that. “Meanwhile, voters in the nearby community of SeaTac recently increased the minimum wage for many local workers to $15,” the article continues. “The vote suffered a setback when a judge ruled last month that the raise does not apply to workers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the area’s largest employer. That ruling has been appealed. Murray and Sawant are being sworn in today with record crowds expected at City Hall.”

In this excerpt from a transcript of the interview with Democracy Now, Sawant captures what I think is the bigger significance of all this to the average person, whatever the emerging truth may be down the road:

Today’s inauguration really is an absolutely historic moment for working-class politics, and to understand—to really feel the moment that this is a turning point in the history of the United States…. this is all an indication that the people in this country are extremely frustrated and angry and outraged at the status quo…the fact that we have been victorious in this grassroots campaign is really an indication that people are ready to start moving forward, moving into struggle. And so, the real question is: How are we, on the left—how are we going to take up this responsibility of organizing the vast numbers of people, especially young people, for whom there is no future? And how are we going to present those alternatives? (emphasis added).

[Democracy Now Interview]

And there it is. Like the old ‘proverb’ says — or perhaps just a dumb saying we say all the time — now we just have to wait. Of course, we won’t do it with our arms crossed or thumbs up whatever orifice we can first find. Hopefully, we will be ‘waiting’ while really we are moving forward with it all: Writing more about it in the mainstream news; exploring what makes the difference between one or another state, or country; supporting and growing grassroots movements; having real discussions, even (and particularly) in newsrooms, about sincerely exploring what results similar domestic and international movements have done and could do, etc. This is no time for being a fart in the wind, but a Bastion of Change!

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THE HARSH REALITY OF OUR IMMINENT DOOM: GOOD FUCKIN’ RIDDANCE!

Walls of Ice

A couple of days ago I heard that the world’s Greenhouse Gases, of which Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most noxious one, have reached an all-time high. It apparently is the first time this has happened in millions of years. In fact, the last time similar levels were seen, according to the news reports, were when the Arctic was entirely ice-free, something like four billion years ago, when sea levels were 40 meters higher than today, and when the world was blanketed by seemingly infinite Savannah.

It worried me greatly to hear this, though it unfortunately also confirmed something of which I’ve been convinced for a long time: that thanks to our selfish, obsessive and institutionalized pursuit of material wealth, we are finally, as Marilyn Manson once said, “on our way down, now…”

The boob-tube rightly pointed to the rise in CO2 levels, which “picked up,” it said, “since industrialization,” as the main cause for this shameful and stupid ‘accomplishment.’ More specifically, it referred to human activity in terms of “burning gas and coal” as the main perpetrator (though not the only one: it also mentioned breathing and when plants died).

Of course, as I said, The Fear was already in me from long before hearing such calamities, though the news had renewed and invigorated it, for I had allowed it to wane in recent months, perhaps blinded by the transient pleasantness of warm, sunny days. Then yesterday, and again today, I saw more reports of natural catastrophes, though one in particular shocked me as much as hearing about our new ‘record.’

I heard about forest fires that consumed nearby neighbourhoods, though that wasn’t new and did not surprise me; it was just another dose of the real-life horror we are now living, and which is surely to blossom into full apocalyptic chaos for the generations unfortunate enough to come after us. But the thing that made my nuts and all the nerves in my body shrink with fear, was seeing a wall of ice about nine meters high, creeping in from the sea, slowly engulfing a tree that stood all by its lonesome self in the middle of a field…almost seeming petrified to move in the face of this roaring, blob of ice.

Today in the morning, I saw another report of a similar case where walls of ice had crept right up to people’s houses, destroying most of the wooden homes as the monster just continued moving ahead.

No Silver-Lining

Over the last decade, but perhaps more consciously over the last five years, I – as many others – have been noticing that our weather patterns grow more and more erratic every year; that the magnitude and type of natural disasters have both increased and varied, accordingly; and I’ve noticed that this doesn’t seem to scare many people.

I guess it makes sense that the world isn’t running around in a panic and crying about their doomed futures…Or does it? Many of the important things in life, I’ve noticed, don’t get done, or don’t get that first impetus, until catastrophe has hit, or until something very ugly has pressed for the necessity to do something. “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it,” has never sounded more appropriate. The only difference is that in that maxim, after you lose it, you gain a new perspective and try to do better next time. In the case of Mother Earth, however, once we lose her…We’re Shit Out of Luck.

Unfortunately, there is no upside here; there is no positive spin I can now write in here. I was thinking of how to follow that last sentence: perhaps, I thought, saying something about how it is in our hands to change it before it’s too late…But the absurdity of that statement hit me like a sack of jagged stones…There is no silver-lining anymore; there is no upside; there is nothing we can, in fact, do to save ourselves anymore. The generations that will come after us, I’m sure, will only inherit a living hell, at least until the species itself can no longer withstand the harsh and unforgiving climates…which of course wouldn’t be a bad thing…perhaps it is time for a renewal…to start from zero…and perhaps without us.

Just Let the Sun In!

When the “scare” about 2012 was still around, it almost became laughable to even suggest that the Mayans were onto something with their prediction. Of course, as with most of the important things in life, the truth of the matter (of their “predictions”) got thwarted and corrupted. In the end, much like it happens when you play “broken telephone,” the original idea had completely gotten lost in translation: the notion of Imminent and Life-Altering Change had been usurped by the stupid rumour of “doomsday.”

But to those who weren’t swept up in the hoopla of rumour, hyperbole or sensationalism, the idea that the Sun was to enter a new phase of expansion was a very real danger, since the science behind it proved that it could have dire repercussions here on Earth.

Mayan predictions have reportedly foreseen the coming of various eras of our time, including our agricultural and industrial revolutions. It wouldn’t be entirely farfetched to think that they had also calculated that the mixture of growing populations and heavier industrialization would lead to high levels of pollution that would, in effect, worsen the effects the Earth would be feeling from the Sun’s fifth phase of expansion. But that is irrelevant. What matters are the facts: that the Sun has, indeed, entered its fifth phase of expansion (confirmed by science), which, among other things, can cause massive solar flares that could reach and penetrate Earth’s very weak ozone layer, which, again, has only been weakened by the CO2 we’ve produced.

Natural disasters are, as we’ve already seen, a reality that continues to assault the world indiscriminately, even in places that traditionally would not see certain types of disasters for this or that reason (not near fault-lines, not appropriate temperatures/climates, etc). As scientists have long been stating, due to the rise in CO2 levels, oceans remain polluted for thousands of years as the CO2 does not simply leave. This changes ecosystems and causes the type of severe and erratic weather patterns I described above.

But the solar flares also have the potential to literally throw us back to the dark ages.

As it already happened in Quebec sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, solar flares, when strong enough, can interfere with our power grids, leaving entire cities without any electricity.

In today’s globalized world (and one where the Market, through places like Wall Street, reigns supreme), the lack of electricity in major cities would be infinitely catastrophic. The collapse of electricity would lead to the collapse of transportation, communications, trading, economics, etc. The entire world would be cut off from itself.

There was a documentary whose title I cannot remember now, which spoke precisely of all these things (I’ll try to find it and post it up). It went into great detail about what would happen if we are thrown in the dark for just a few hours, for a few days and for a few months. The results were globally fatal by the time we reached a few days!

Again, there is no silver-lining to any of this. I think we brought it upon ourselves.

Perhaps the only way to really save our species (not only our kids and their kids – that would be selfish), is to fully abolish our addiction to oil and, more importantly, to consumerism, which is what drives our consumption of oil in the first place. I have even had the fortune of meeting some individuals who do everything in their power to adhere to this philosophy of sustainability, and they’ve made my life that much better. But all my hopes (in regards to the survival of our species in the face of what we’ve done to Mother Nature) are now gone…

And Good Fuckin’ Riddance, too!

******

On a related note, the Canadian government is up in arms, enraged at the EU for even thinking of calling the Tar Sands “Dirty” Oil. They say there is no scientific evidence for it. They swear to start a trade-war over this.

Enough said?

ARTILLERY FOR THE MIND: ON ALIENATION INSIDE THE CORPORATIST-STATE

In the Age of Corporatism, Repression attacks Our Minds First

One of the concluding arguments in Lenin’s “The Revolution Summed Up”, states that “Imperialism – the era of bank capital, the era of gigantic capitalist monopolies, of development of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism – has clearly shown an unprecedented growth in its bureaucratic and military apparatus in connection with the intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat both in the monarchical and in the freest, republican countries” (emphases added).

It is on these conclusions that I want to expand.

We are currently living in a time far past state-monopoly capitalism: a state of such unhinged and unrestricted capitalism, that Business, having gone through such an “unprecedented growth”, has turned to Big Business; that is, into Corporations that have effectively gained the upper-hand (POWER) in the sphere of influence over the government and society. In fact, Corporations – by somehow managing to dupe the legal system and, by extension, the world, into granting them full legal human-status, with all the rights and responsibilities this entails (though the latter is much more dubiously interpreted) – and even with their own “military apparatus” – evidenced by the growing use of Mercenaries in state-wars: privately hired soldiers – have gained all the means with which to both undermine the working class’ interests, and overtake the state in matters of policy-making, most notably today in regards to environmental issues.

We are living in the age of Corporatism.

Lenin mentions the “intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat”. Surely, due to the historical context in which he wrote this, I assume Lenin thought of repressive measures in the sense of military or armed force against the proletariat; he also must’ve included democratic repression in the sense of limiting suffrage, participation, etc., to the higher classes in the regular bourgeoisie-democracy. But I doubt that he or even Marx or Engels could have foreseen the level of mental repression that this system would resort to in order to perpetuate itself.

Today, repressive measures, though still obviously palpable in the regular democratic process through the coveting of influence over policy making, resulting in environmental degradation, economic dominance over weaker countries through free trade zones and the like, the cutting of benefits to injured workers, the precarious pension situation (in many countries of the First World), and in the million of other ways that Corporations influence the government in their own favour – despite all of this abuse inherent in the bourgeoisie-democratic system, today repressive measures can also be witnessed in the type of Social Neglect and Detachment that, while masqueraded as “individualism”, has in actuality alienated human beings from each other through unrealistic portrayals of Fashion and Beauty (aesthetics); through Hollywood and the growing influence of Television over our lives (our critical- and world-view); but, perhaps most effectively and subtly acquired, through the massive expansion of the technological-electronics field.

In the Age of Corporatism, Social Alienation and Detachment Begin at Home

Today, it is almost unnatural for a kid 10 or 11 years old (what we now call a tween), to not have an I-phone, a Tablet or any other such gadget. In fact, some schools in the United States are apparently making it mandatory in every class. The ingenious cunning of the Corporation, of course, is that while this type of gadget alienates the kid from both his nature as a child and from his peers (as I will momentarily describe), it also makes it practically indispensable for the child’s education and culturalization process, as today’s level of “success” is heavily linked to our technological know-how. So while he shouldn’t have it, he should. The news talked not about whether the children should use the Tablets at school or not; they were concerned with how long they should use it for.

Why does a kid that is 10 years old need so many gadgets? With enough lucidity, it can even be argued that adults carry/own too many gadgets that, for the most part, they can do without (as I contend, indeed, but not the focus of this paper). But for a child? Good God, Man!!

Well, now let’s look at reality, and how alienation begins right at home.

As soon as the gadgets become mandatory, every kid demands and “needs” one (yet another example of Manufactured Needs), even those whose parents are “mere” labourers – proletarians  and can therefore barely afford one, if they can at all! This tension, at least in close families, antagonizes the dynamics as the parents either A) have to work longer and harder to make the money to afford the gadget, which leads to physical as well as mental turmoil and which, many times, even leads to fights or discomfort at home; or B) the parents feel impotent as they cannot afford the gadgets, either because they cannot get more hours, or even despite getting them; this type of mental depression, however temporary, afflicts the best of parents as much as if their kid had died.

Class Antagonisms now also become a much more real battle.

Now the kids whose parents can’t afford one are either rejected by their peers, or sneered at, or are simply made fun of, which in any culture demoralizes a young pup. Even the parents who may not be able to afford one for their kids may feel smaller in front of their counterparts. Furthermore, the kids feel a monumental type of social alienation, which, particularly in these countries (First World) is nothing to be sneered at. The type of violent, psychotic crimes (or border-line psychotic), that sees social pariahs raping, mutilating, assassinating, killing in series (serial-killers), sexual predators, and a thousand other such atrocities occurring at an alarming rate in the more developed countries (First World) is no sheer coincidence.

The amount of social neglect kids grow up with at school, as I have just described, is just one way – one of the most “modern” ways. Social Neglect, today, also begins at home, as parents either A) have to both work to support the family and therefore leave the kids alone at home or to grow up with a nanny; B) succumb to divorce – which in these countries, again, not by coincidence, the rate is of over 50%, or one of every two marriages – and therefore become absent parents, letting their kids grow up seeing various “boyfriends” and “girlfriends” come in and out of their lives, particularly in this “modern” world of Internet-Dating; or C) are social pariahs themselves that unfortunately had kids, but to whom they pay no attention at all (if not outright mistreat). The effects on the children’s social lives – even when they don’t culminate in psychotic, violent behaviour – are undeniably monstrous.

The Capitalist Machine – The Corporation, in our time – so cunningly gets us to fight among ourselves, among our family, our friends, our co-workers, and hate or, at the very least, envy those who can afford what we cannot. IT separates and divides us, the masses.

In the Age of Corporatism, The Family has Broken Down

Moreover, the breakdown of the Family – the real collapse of the type of family-values that are expected to be instilled at home to subsequently be expanded onto society – is another grim reality in our modern world of “Individualism” and “Modernity”; in our Age of Technology and Internet.

The “Modern Family” today looks very much like the sketch we saw above: at best, the step-parents are nice, and the new family, with step-children and step-brothers, gets along fine, perhaps even occasionally visiting with the other parent on weekends. In other cases, the single parent is a modern parent, a liberal parent, who dates various people, hoping perhaps to find another “the one”. The parent strives first to be the kid’s friend; then to be his parent.

Meanwhile, the children, at home, are just how society teaches us we are outside of home: by ourselves, on our own. They grow up with nannies, in the best scenarios, and no real parental control (and in this concept is included the type of love, attention and vigilance that parents need to exert over their children). Sometimes, to compensate for their absenteeism, the parents become too lenient, almost embarrassed to tell their kids not to do certain things since they themselves are doing it. Nothing is wrong anymore. Everyone is either a “liberal” or “antiquated”.

Nothing is indecent anymore: some of the “Best T.V.” consists of shows depicting broken families, cheating husbands and wives, young drug-addicts, etc. And anything that can still be deemed “indecent”, perhaps under irrefutable circumstances, can at least be “justified”. Thus, more and more husbands and wives (or boyfriends and girlfriends) cheat on each other, “just to get their attention”, having felt “neglected” or “not loved”. Everything is ok! Nothing is wrong! Morality, Truth, Virtue and Justice are all Subjective. Nothing is absolute. Plus, we see it depicted in every movie, T.V. sitcom and “reality show” as “normal”, as “part of life”, as something to try to avoid individually, but which inevitably exists socially, making it therefore something inescapable.

Another way kids grow up alienated from each other is manifested in their obsession, as we’ve seen, even at an early age, with having/owning tech-toys like Tablets, Cell-phones, I-pads, etc. Thus, children play with their “tech-toys” first, then go outside to play with other children (many times, even while they are hanging out, they are playing on their own individual gadgets).

And thus we see how the Corporation has, from a very early age, taught us dependence, not even on one another, but on a virtual world outside of ourselves. We become experts on using technology practically before we develop the ability to think for ourselves and think critically; the Corporation thus teaches us enough to simply reproduce (not evolve) ourselves and our immediate interests (before, in Marx’s time, Capitalism merely paid us enough); the ‘individual’ thus grows up “barely [casting] [his] goals beyond the day”, as Nietzsche’s Zarathustra puts it, looking only to the most convenient way he can get by, make money and “live well”.

In the Age of Corporatism, the Masses get “Trickled” On

In the Corporatist Society (most notably in the First World), the individual grows up realizing the ease with which he can make fast money. Parents send their kids to work from early on (15 or 16 years old), so that they may “learn the value of money” (I’m not even mentioning the social aspect of “taking away a kid’s youth”, though it is something to talk about). And we do: we grow up learning both how hard it is to make money and how pleasurable it is to spend it – also how good and important “IT” makes us feel, whether in actuality or just in our own perception. Those same parents then push their kids to go to school and “make something of themselves” so that they may become “successful”, which in the coldest fashion, they measure by the amount of money they will make.

We thus grow up adoring money – exulting it – so those of us who choose (or rather who have the means) to go to University prefer to take Finances, International Business and Economics, at least as serious, “hard” majors; we choose Political Science and Literature as “soft” majors, often when we’re “not sure of what we want to do”. Our priorities have switched – our sense of Culture has taken second place, though far, far back, to our Love and Need for Money.

(I’m excluding from this analysis those who choose to go to school and who choose their careers based on Ideology: People who love their field, whatever it may be – Journalism, Medicine, Law, Education, Etc. Reality has shown that this group – in the First World – is the minority.)

Those who don’t go to university or college try to find the best job they can – that is, whatever job pays more money. Thus you see kids that are 19 and 20 years old beginning the long and arduous career in the construction field. As adults, or simply when they’re a little older, though physically exhausted and beaten, many times in unhappy marriages, they still revel in the fact that they can “buy themselves anything they want”: the supposed cornerstone of “Freedom” and “Liberty”.

The Corporation, thus, revels!!! IT wins when we Love Money, because IT knows that we’d do Anything to Get IT (“money makes the world go ‘round”).

And the Human – with inherited Real Human Status, as opposed to granted – is left at the mercy of the Market. If he/she were lucky and studied Finances and Business, or – in the case of other professionals like Journalists or Lawyers or Artists, etc. – if he/she plays by the rules, that is, if he/she doesn’t ask the questions that mustn’t be asked, or rattle the cages that mustn’t be rattled, or express the massive social discontent/alienation through art, music and dance that mustn’t be seen, heard or felt; that is to say, if they adhere to the laws of the game, they will become a “success”.

For the rest – for the Proletariat – for the working class – for the engines of all that production and “success” – for the masses…They’re lucky if they allow themselves to be “Trickled” On

RESPUESTA A LAS MENTIRAS DE LUDMILA VINOGRADOFF SOBRE VENEZUELA

La señora Ludmila Vinogradoff, alguien que funge de “periodista” venezolana (usando el termino muy, pero muy ligeramente), corresponsal del diario ABC de España, había escrito en su blog un artículo titulado “Fascismo puro y duro”, donde supuestamente y según ella, documentaba la “represión” y “violencia” contra el pueblo venezolano por parte del gobierno, al cual ella, como el resto de la oposición derechista nacional e internacional, no reconoce como legítimo. En este artículo, ella se había permitido incluir algunas imágenes de policías/militares que apaleaban/golpeaban a una mujer en el suelo, como obvia evidencia de la “represión” en Venezuela a la que hacía alusión. Mas ocurre que la foto es vieja, y muestra eventos registrados en Egipto.

Esta descarada y falaz mentira, la cual la hubo enmascarado tras el concepto de “periodismo ético”, fue descubierta en Facebook por un grupo no gubernamental que no obstante apoya al gobierno (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151539413853886&set=a.301781968885.147942.294742043885&type=1&theater). La susodicha “periodista” ha eliminado – bajo la presión de la crítica- el artículo de su página, pero en su lugar, escribe uno intitulado, “Represión y cacería de brujas”.

Este nuevo ‘artículo’ – si le cabe la nominación a esta cadena de calumnias, mentiras, suposiciones, especulaciones y rumores no verificados por aquella que dice ser “periodista” – remítase el lector a este sitio: (http://abcblogs.abc.es/bochinche-venezolano/2013/04/19/represion-y-caceria-de-brujas/), es simplemente una repetición de lo anterior, pero esta vez – ojo! – no hay fotos para evidenciar una sola de las “múltiples violaciones” por parte del gobierno, que esta señora describe.

Comienza el artículo diciendo que quiere “rectificar y ofrecer disculpas por la publicación de las fotografías” que presentó tratando de mostrarlas como evidencia; dice que fue un “error no haberlas verificado antes de publicarlas…” Pero, caramba! ¿Se tratará acaso de una “periodista” novicia? ¿O qué, desconoce quizá normativas éticas, morales y profesionales en relación con la elaboración de un artículo o informe de esta naturaleza? ¿No conoce el procedimiento a seguir encaminado a la publicación de un artículo y/o fotografías, especialmente tratándose de un trabajo cuyo contenido se encuentra en la mira de la controversia? O quizá solo atisbó que sus lectores tendríamos el criterio y la capacidad analítica de los borregos y que terminaríamos creyéndolo todo y que no nos importaría verificar la veracidad de lo que escribiera? ¿O, que para cuando alguien al fin descubra su mentira, ya muchos de sus seguidores/lectores le habrán creído y asimilado? Cualquiera sea la respuesta, la verdad inconcusa es que a esta señora, como “periodista”, le falta mucha trayectoria, sobre todo adiestrarse en cuanto a profesionalismo.

Sin embargo, ella continúa su diatriba calumniosa e infundiosa contra el Gobierno Revolucionario y contra el Presidente Maduro, además de otros funcionarios a quienes también injuria y lastima sin documento alguno.

“La práctica de la represión y la cacería de brujas con métodos fascistas contra toda manifestación de protesta y disidencia de la oposición han continuado”, escribe la corresponsal.

Habla de denuncias que “truenan por todo el país”; de grupos universitarios denunciando el aprisionamiento de “jóvenes detenidos por protestar” y quienes “fueron atacados, golpeados y agredidos salvajemente por las fuerzas represivas del Estado’”; cita a un líder de estos grupos diciendo que conocen de “más de 400 compañeros” que han sido “heridos”, y “mas de 150 jóvenes” que han sido detenidos “por ejercer sus derechos”; habla de “supuestas torturas” de jóvenes….

Sin embargo, contrariamente a la manera en que empíricamente expuso sus denuncias previas de “represión” por parte del gobierno -valiéndose de fotografías inexistentes- en su nuevo y desesperado intento, todas estas “evidencias” de violencia, tortura y represión truculentas, presentadas con tal magnitud, no son acompañadas ni respaldadas con una sola foto….

¿Sera que no existen?

Esta “periodista” también tiene el descaro de calificar de ‘pacificas’ las “manifestaciones” que surgieron tras el llamado que Capriles hizo a la gente para ejecutar “protestas de…cacerolas”. Se muestra indignada frente a lo que según ella, estas “manifestaciones pacíficas” han sido objeto de “satanización”. Del mismo modo, tiene la audacia de expresar sus condolencias por las “nuevas” victimas caídas.

No obstante, la “periodista” en cuestión, no hace la menor mención en torno a las ocho muertes que derivaron de esas “protestas pacificas” (http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2013/04/16/violencia-opositora-deja-cuatro-muertos-en-venezuela/; https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151533565953886&set=a.301781968885.147942.294742043885&type=1&theater). No habla del líder del partido del PSUV, José L. Ponce ni de su esposa, quienes fueron asesinados tras el “ataque violento al CDI de Baruta”, o del asesinato de Johny Pacheco, “defensor del CDI…en Baruta” (http://www.aporrea.org/ddhh/n227321.html); tampoco menciona el hecho de que GRUPOS OPOSITORES quemaron viviendas del mismo pueblo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ochNFsQPF6c), y oficinas del Partido PSUV (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151532339318886&set=a.10151532338563886.1073741862.294742043885&type=1&theater). Deliberadamente soslaya las declaraciones del joven que admite haber expuesto viejas fotos de cajas electoras cuando eran quemadas, tratando así de eliminar evidencia de “fraude electoral” de este año (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yr3sGL_g0c); no dice nada en relación con LAS VERDADES que Capriles OMITE cuando habla de “fraude electoral” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjhH6vfGmUI&sns=fb), y nada respecto de los insultantes comentarios que también hizo contra los extranjeros que “están de visita en Venezuela”, exigiendo que “PAGUEN” lo que él cree que le “deben al pueblo Venezolano” (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151539406993886&set=a.301781968885.147942.294742043885&type=1&relevant_count=1).

En otras palabras, esta “periodista” no menciona absolutamente nada que pudiera comprometer, o aún derrotar (en el mejor de los casos) a la oposición. Todos estos videos, fotos y artículos han sido documentados en periódicos públicos en Venezuela; sin embargo, los medios privados no han dicho una sola palabra al respecto.

También quiero poner de relieve un par de “verdades” narradas por la señora, mostrando su buen desempeño periodístico, el mismo que ha estado ausente a lo largo de prácticamente toda su narrativa: Menciona ella la “‘actitud gorila’” que según el diputado de la oposición Andrés Velásquez, se hace manifiesta en el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, Diosdado Cabello, al privar del derecho de hablar en la Asamblea, a los ministros que no reconozcan al presidente Maduro. Hecho claramente plasmado y estipulado en el Artículo 187.10 de la Constitución, mediante el cual la Asamblea Nacional representada por el presidente de esta, tiene potestad de extender “voto de censura…a los Ministros o Ministras.”

Además, verdad de Perogrullo es que si el triunfo hubiera recaído sobre el candidato opositor, a nadie se le habría ocurrido hacer algún llamado al recuento de votos y, consecuentemente habría sido Capriles el “legitimo” presidente. Justamente esto mismo es lo que sucedió cuando Capriles se erigió como gobernador del estado de Miranda con solo 38.000 votos, y entonces muy orondo aceptó la victoria sin interponer disconformidad. Pero como la MINORIA POLITICA -representada por Capriles- no quiere aceptar esos resultados, entonces aducen que no dejarles hablar es “inconstitucional”.

Finalmente – después de haberme entregado a tan ardua tarea como es la de leer toda esa sarta de mendacidades que no habían sido ni siquiera bien formuladas – Vinogradoff cita a la “directora de la ONG Control Ciudadano”, Rocío San Miguel, quien aparentemente anuncia que todo el “aplastamiento” de disidentes y protestantes ha sido “suficientemente documentado”….

Pero está claro, esta “periodista” ni siquiera pretende hacer alución a esa documentación….

Vale seguir???

ARTILLERY FOR THE MIND: ON THE “NEW SYSTEM”

PART I – EYES WIDE OPEN

As it happens, as the days go by and life in every sense of the word – organic, political, biological, cultural, economic, etc. – continues to evolve, our eyes are pried opened wider every minute of every day. At some point I was convinced that we actually had to have the will to not see, in order to fail to recognize the ever-changing truth in front of us. But I understand now that it takes more than a will to be blind, to not see; I see now that it also takes cunning conditioning to convince us that there’s no change. But personally, I love to see and to know and to feel the evolution of our existence as much as it is allowed me by nature, and by God! My eyes are wide open!

It has always been a conviction of mine – as this blog clearly documents – that the best hope for humanity to acquire real social justice is through Socialism. And as I’ve trudged ahead, trying daily to ask more and more questions about how it is that this Socialism is to finally arrive or be, and to understand what it means for me to be a socialist, dealing all along with all the obstacles that living in a capitalist country represents for this kind of research, I’ve always tried to find solid answers; to actually find a practical way to implement a theory that purports to bring real Harmony, Solidarity and Progress to all of mankind, or to the entire population of whatever nation ventures to adopt this system…And now I see, with eyes bulging out of my skull from the excitement of that Eureka moment, that I’ve been looking in the wrong direction, or rather, for the wrong signs: When I’ve been looking for places that have adopted Socialism, I should instead have been looking for the places that are creating Socialism.

It was for a damn good reason that Marx and Engels vehemently stressed the need for a scientific theory – and understanding – of the evolutionary process of everything that can be dubbed a “system” in life (organic, biological, political, social, cultural, etc). As such, Communism was born as the inevitable answer to the rise and prosperity of a Capitalism that ultimately will reach the end of its cycle, battered by its own contradictions. But now I am finally beginning to actually understand the step-by-step process that has to happen, as well as the very real notion that the new system of social organization (in it included our political and economic organization) would indeed have to be Created – Moulded out of the ashes of the fallen tower of Capitalism to rise like the Phoenix.

The cyclical problems of Capitalism, encapsulated in world financial crises and recession, unemployment, inflation, and all those other economic calamities that happen inevitably every certain amount of time, were predicted by Marx. Though defenders of the system claim that with different monetary and economic policies we can at the very least predict the time when a crisis will hit and, as such, also soften its blow, the rhetoric seems to be getting lost in thin air.

The masses that are pushed to the margins of poverty have grown exponentially around the world over the last decade, even in the so-called developed world, and despite the brave face politicians put forward for the public, the objective truth that the economic system has simply failed to do its job, that is, to provide the necessities to survive for everyone, is undeniable, and the masses have noticed.

According to Heinz Dieterich, author of Hugo Chavez and 21st Century Socialism[1], “the economic subsystem of a society has finished its cycle of life when it no longer satisfies the basic necessities of the citizens and turns, therefore, dysfunctional for the maintenance of the system in its whole” (45).

Indeed. Around the world, the system is caving in on itself, unable to allow that massive wealth concentrated at the top to “trickle down” to the people. A brief but sober look at the numerous protests, movements, strikes, bankrupt governments and banks around the world, to me, is evidence of that transition period Marx envisioned would happen, and which Revolutionary Guerrilla Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara described in the 1970s “as a result of the explosive transformation of the capitalist system destroyed by its contradictions.”

Well, all of that I knew…I’ve known it for a long time. But, I must admit, until very recently, I did not understand the very essence of what it meant to solve that precipitous problem through socialism. I knew Cuba had kept the ideology alive in Latin America, and that China and Vietnam and part of Korea were also socialist, though my knowledge of those Asian nations was limited to the skewed information received through the normal channels of communication – through what the mainstream media provided for me.

As such, and with a certain amount of admitted ignorance and disinterest on the matter – I simply believed that it was a matter of institutionalizing some laws, making some policies and implementing them, even taking control of the economy by the state so as to have a control of how the wealth is distributed. The economics themselves of how the prices would be established and all that jazz….fugget ’bout it! I had no goddamn clue how that would be. But, again, I figured it was just a matter of some savvy people coming up with “socialist policies,” implementing them whether people liked it or not, and then wait until everything turns around and bam! Equality begins surging and wealth for everyone! Whether it came through revolution or election, I figured as long as “socialist laws” were implemented, life would turn to be of a “socialist” kind.

However, upon hearing of Chavez and his 21st Century Socialism project, my interest was renewed, for again I admit that my interest and even hope had somewhat wavered, being bombarded daily with “truths” about this system that seemed palpably gloomy (the “Human Rights Abuses”, the “Poverty”, the “Loss of Identity”, the “Lack of Democracy”). After traveling to Venezuela to see it for myself, I came back with a renewed spirit and hope founded on what I saw – on fact and the reality of what was happening in that country.

Yet, the question of why people seemed so resistant to something that is obviously helping the large majority of our impoverished Latin American brothers and sisters, kept gnawing at my brain. Not to mention the haziness in regards to how it is the economy, the politics and the society would simply turn from “capitalist” to “socialist” so as to allow that future Harmony and Solidarity Marx talked about to become a reality.

But now that the magnitude of what these Heroic and Brave countries have ventured to do – to create ­- is more evident, the carnal resistance to this change has become more obvious, if not completely clear.

PART II – REPEAT IT AND YOU WILL BELIEVE IT

Through repetition, any lie becomes truth.

We know this; we even watch shows like Seinfeld where we joke about it: “It’s not a lie…if you believe it,” says George Costanza, the King of Deceit. Now, when something is repeated ad nauseam through every conceivable mode of communication for centuries, generations begin growing up not even questioning the lie, for they don’t even know they’re living it.

When Adam Smith first begins writing down his theories of Capitalism in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, my understanding is that he must’ve taken off from the premise that Human Nature is inherently bad and greedy – self interested – which is why he comes up with a theory that explains that by following our own interests, those of society will also be tended after by that famous “invisible hand.”

I quote from Wikipedia, which itself quotes The Wealth of Nations.

“He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”

Compounded with the advent and fervour of the French Revolution and its ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, Smith’s theories are then put to practice, creating the first Capitalist societies – like Socialism will be – out of the ashes of the old feudal order.

I can understand why coming out of the Feudal Economic Order, his analysis told him that we were inherently selfish creatures, and that the best way to organize ourselves in such a way that we no longer are slaves to feudal masters but, rather, autonomous entities that can choose to follow our own destiny and enrich our own lives, was to create an economic system that feeds off of our self-interest and that in turn provides progress for the rest of society. Then, of course, the system begins producing quantities of wealth never even thought of before, which produces an obvious and undeniable change in quality of life for everyone, even those who get a small piece of the pie.

“Next comes hope,” writes Che in Socialism and Man[2], “and in this, [capitalism] differs from the previous caste regimes that gave no possible out.

“[…]The separation of classes is fatal, but the individuals can get out of the one they belong to through work, initiative, etc.” (Pg. 39).

Of course, Che is talking about the Capitalist Education – the ideas that are moulded in us through time, repetition and even brutal force, as it has been done time and time again in countries belonging to the so-called Third World.

PART III: TEACHING THE LIE

“Capitalism employs force, but it also educates the people in the system,” says Che. “The Direct Propaganda is realized by the ones in charge of explaining the inevitability of a class-regime, be it of divine origin or through nature’s imposition as a mechanical entity. This placates the masses, who see themselves oppressed by a malady which is impossible to fight against.” Then, he says, comes that false hope.

“One can only see the amplitude of a horizon that seems infinite. That is how capitalist life presents it, purporting to extract from Rockefeller’s case – real or not – a lesson about the possibilities of success.”

And up to here reaches the capitalist education. Generations after generations – including my own – have continued to grow up under a system (not in), which tells them that unless they look out for themselves, perhaps their immediate family too, since they are kin after all, no one else will.

We therefore go to work and make as much money as we can so that we can pay the bills that we have amassed, which have in turn been accumulated by all the things that we have bought – shelter, education, healthcare and a lieu of other (often unnecessary) products included in there, too. Our parents say to us, with utter sincerity, that they are now breaking their backs in factories, with an extra job (sometimes two), in the grave-yard shift, so that we can have enough money to pay for school and then become a “success” – be economically stable, making decent amounts of money in a job that doesn’t involve cleaning streets or carrying boxes, and – this is extra, though a nice one – hopefully helping the public while we do it. Janitorial work is for suckers and non-educated people; for the “unsuccessful”.

We grow up in a society that teaches that “individualism” means competing against everyone else to reach that elusive yet apparent wealth just at the tip of the horizon; we are in a race against each other, selling our labour as cheap as possible so that we may get the job rather than the other, so that we may survive. We grow up believing that “being the best we can be” means doing whatever I can to become wealthy and, therefore, economically stable (as well as ensuring survival, for without enough money from a job or even two, we are Shit Out of Luck). Indeed, we grow up believing that since everyone else around is following their own interest – as it is taught from grammar school and much more vehemently in high-school, then even in university – we may as well do so, too, lest we perish.

We are taught to be “industrial” and to have an “entrepreneurial spirit”; to be competitive at every level, and when we win, we are taught not to help bring the “losers” up to the same level, but rather to be “gracious winners”.

The apparent ever-pervading power of the Economy – that massive Pie of Wealth that is presented as the potential of what we can get (most easily seen in the industrial world) – now pervades our lives, too. The Economy is now something that we ­– mankind – must tap into; it is an entity outside of ourselves which we apparently bow down to. The Economy – the entity that must not be disturbed or meddled or intervened with by Politics – becomes the main vehicle of “prosperity”, “opportunity” and “success”. Political Science is seen as the course you take in University when you don’t really know what you want to do; it is what you take if you supposedly want to “cruise by”. Economics, International Finances, Business – these are the heavy-hitting majors, the ones that offer the most “opportunity”.

And, again, through centuries of this kind of “education”, mankind actually begins to believe the lie. In fact, we don’t even question it. We simply assume that, indeed, lest someone else gets a piece of the pie first, I better take it. We grow up believing that our neighbours are people to say “Hi” to in the morning and “Hi” to at night, and nothing else. Our real “interactions” become those engulfed in business transactions or as part of our jobs. Only our family – our home – is the place where we can let loose, where we can really “talk,” where we are no longer thinking of ourselves and everyone and everything else as a “commodity” or, at the very least, as someone or something from where we can extract some benefit.

However, “the misery that needs to be accumulated,” says Che, “for such an example to surge [Rockefeller-style “Success”] and the mounting ruin that a wealth of that magnitude entails, do not appear in the picture, and it isn’t always possible for the [people] to understand these concepts” (36).

In capitalist society, where I now live, we come to be complacent in the exploitation that we now know inevitably happens. We lose that sense that tells us that exploiting this or that person is wrong, simply because we don’t see it. We know factories use cheap labour around the world, extracting natural resources from the so-called Third World at “market prices” and selling them finished goods, also at “market prices”. We know it is wrong, we denounce the exploitation, but we simply believe that there is nothing we can do; that this is life; that it is normal. We donate to charity, to cancer-research, to walk-a-thons, in an effort to placate what I believe is some uneasiness in the back of our mind – something telling us we are part of the fucking problem.

“In any case,” Che continues, “the path painted is one with pitfalls but which, nevertheless, can apparently be superseded by an individual with the necessary qualities to reach the goal. The prize is envisioned in the distance; the path is solitary. Plus, it’s a race of wolves: one can only reach the goal by stepping over the failure of others.”

“This process…must be profoundly hypocritical,” he says. “It is the evidenced interest in making a lie a truth” (39).

PART IV – THE NEW MAN

It is for this reason – due to the fact that our mentality does not, and cannot, allow life to be any other way – that Socialism as the vehicle to take us to Communism must be Created and not Adopted. People are resistant to systemic change; they don’t want to stop doing the things they’ve always done, or acting how they’ve always known is “correct”. Therefore, the first steps – or rather, the ones to be taken concomitantly with the Political-Judicial reforms necessary – involve the creation of a new type of Man…or rather, of a new type of Mentality for Man.

“To construct communism,” says Che, “one must create the new man simultaneously with the material base” (38).

It is taking off from this premise that has garnered criticism from those who dub the idea of creating a new man – a selfless, peaceful, laborious and heroic Man – as utopian and unrealistic, at best, and as brain-washing and loss of identity at its worst. But these criticisms, it is easy to realize, come from the very mouths of those created under the dominant capitalist system; from those who are now convinced that we are indeed selfish, and that any attempt to straighten this skewed behaviour is futile, indeed, unnatural and dogmatic.

But it mustn’t be.

The type of Man and Woman that is to be created in (not under) a socialist system is one that possesses the qualities of a person that feels at every level – spiritually, physically and mentally – as part of a larger unit. And why should that be impossible? We see that spirit all the time, even in capitalist society.

“In Capitalism, it is possible to observe some phenomena of this type when there appear politicians capable of mobilizing the masses,” says Che. “But if it isn’t about an authentic social movement…the movement will live only as long as he who pushes it, or until the end of the people’s illusions, imposed by the rigor of the capitalist society” (36).

We see it when a political leader campaigns through the nation in the running-up to an election, getting people excited with their rhetoric and promises, which culminates in cheers, applauding, even chanting (“U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”); we see it when industry leaders with their own cause rally up people, such as the Komen Foundation and their annual walk-a-thons for cancer research (which in itself is a joke  – a cancer of capitalism, but for another discussion). Evidently the spirit of unison and hope is there to be ‘exploited’. The problem is that, under a capitalist society, it is only summoned at special times – such as during election time, or on scheduled walk-a-thons – and then the spirit itself vanishes as people return to their homes and carry on their daily lives, leaving that impactful feeling of unity with people – nay, with a Cause – relegated to some happy though forgotten corner of their minds.

In the United States, Barack Obama became the symbol for “change” and “progress”, being the first black man to ever be elected president, not to mention the very progressive promises he made (though very seldom kept), such as closing the Guantanamo Prison. The people rallied around him, the world-over also cheered and made noise; Americans were ecstatic about a new direction in the country. But, as we all know, it did not take long for that fervour to evaporate, and in the last elections, he merely squeaked by (with something like 6% difference). What is more, the talk among the population of “change” in the country, of “progress”, of “new hope”, has died, if not receded. Now people don’t talk of change; they now simply hope things don’t get worse.

However, in the creation of the new Man that will, once he is fully self-aware and educated, be the Communist Man, it is precisely this kind of heroic, participatory and fraternal spirit that is to be not only summoned at special and difficult occasions, when it is mostly needed; but rather a pervading quality of man that is to be expressed by his actions, his words, his behaviour and his personal and social priorities, every single day of his life.

Che mentions the beginning stages of the Cuban Revolution, when the masses – the people – were still asleep and had to be mobilized by the Revolutionary Vanguard that were the Guerrilla fighters – “engine of the movement, generator of revolutionary conscience and of combative enthusiasm.”

“Under the frame of the proletarization of our thinking, of the revolution that was operating in our habits, in our minds, the individual was always fundamental”, he says (34). In other words, the beginning processes of the revolution involved infusing the common people with the same type of revolutionary, patriotic and heroic fervour the guerrilla fighters exemplified both during the actual guerrilla-war in the Sierra Maestra and after victory, in their daily lives.

Their first test came during  the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, and the second one in October of 1963, during the Flora Cyclone, which hit the northern part of the island. During these two events, the people – not only the military – proved their heroism, patriotism and, most importantly, their unity when they joined with the armed forces to both keep the American-led invasion out of its doors, and to diminish the impact of the natural disaster on its citizens.

“We saw exceptional acts of valour and sacrifice realized by an entire people,” Che says.

But in the great Socialist Project, as I said, the idea is to harness this kind of overwhelming feeling – that kind of momentum that feels like electricity building up your spine – on a daily basis. To be like that every day, not only during special occasions.

“To find the formula to perpetuate in every-day-life that heroic attitude, is one of our fundamental tasks from the ideological point of view,” says Che (34).

For this new man, life sheds its solitary nature and it no longer seems like a cut-throat competition. Man is part of a society that does not exist to exploit him, but rather to support him and be supported by him. Work ceases to be a burden that we do for survival, and instead it becomes a social duty, performed for no other reason than to see its fruits go back to our society. Shelter, food, education, health – the necessities of life – are provided by the State, which indeed takes its power from the people[3] – and work is therefore not a means to survival, but, as I’ve already said, a social duty.

In this way, the lawyer, the journalist, the constructor, the driver, the house-keeper, the taxi driver, the street cleaner – they are all important parts of a society that not only consumes their labour but appreciates it. Pay doesn’t have to be equal, for the priorities of the new Man do not involve accumulating unnecessary luxury (like two cars for one person, houses bigger than a family needs, summer houses for vacations, shoes that are bought simply because they are on sale, etc., etc.), and the pay/salary workers receive certainly does not dictate their standard of living. The society becomes a breathing organism that is fed by the work of every single person. And Man is therefore not only free to enjoy his labour, but proud to perform it, as he feels himself an important and vital part of society.

And all of that is not impossible. It is just a matter of education. Socialist Education…


[1] The book I have is translated to Spanish, I think from its original German, as the writer sounds German, though I’m just speculating. Thus, the translation from Spanish to English is entirely my own.

[2] Part of the short Anthology: Global Justice: Liberation and Justice

[3] See the other blog I wrote, where I talk a little more about the Participatory Democracy, exemplified through the National Assembly and the Committees of Defence of the Revolution in Insights of an Aspiring Revolutionary: On the “Vanguard”

ARTILLERY FOR THE MIND: ON THE “VANGUARD”

PART I – COMPARING THE GREATEST DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD

This was another thing that until recently simply didn’t click. To be fair, the terms are all better understood when as a base – a foundation – a premise – we consider that the new Socialist State is to be Created. The lack of this understanding is in no small part why some of these concepts, such as ‘The Vanguard’ and especially the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat,’ have been misinterpreted and misunderstood by the general public, myself included, given that the terms are analyzed under the very same framework that is trying to be revolutionized/changed.

If we think of applying these terms utilizing the exact same tools of the previous system – the Bourgeois Democracy, with all its pillars, balances of checks, parliamentary chambers, jargon, etc. – then some of these concepts will understandably be met with resistance, ambivalence and, at the very least, misinterpretation.

As for me, however, now that I’m convinced of this fact – that the new society must be started from anew – the term Vanguard makes a lot more sense.

To explain what I understand by this concept, I think I want to first gloss over – very superficially – the structure of the regular presidential process applied in the United States, supposedly the freest and most democratic country in the world.

Though they do, indeed, hold elections every four years where a new candidate (or incumbent, if it’s his first term) from either of the two parties – Democrats or Republicans – are elected to be president of the country for a maximum of two terms, this fact simply doesn’t seem like a comprehensive enough yard-stick to measure, evaluate and eventually deem a system a Great Democracy. Then to go on and use the same dwarfed yard-stick against countries that don’t have presidential elections, such as Cuba, for instance, and deem them Dictatorships is – it goes without saying – ludicrous.

Let me explain.

The running candidates in the U.S.’ presidential elections always seem to be a rotation of all the former governors, senators, representatives, ambassadors and, at least from what I could tell from these past elections (2012), even leading business men. I think the only position where someone from the “common citizenry” (not a known politician moving up in ranks or being appointed) can aspire to reach is that of mayor. Then, of course, after enough time and with discipline, perseverance and adherence to the rule of law, he/she can aspire to move up in the ranks…or so the story goes. Of course, it is expected, as is anywhere else in the world, that the person who aspires to run for mayor will be someone who has been involved in the community, who knows what the problems are in his community and who has a more or less developed understanding of what it will take to solve said problems…of course, again, so goes the story.

Yet the corruption, mismanagement, discrimination and simply lack of functioning at the mayoral level in most of the major U.S. cities is not something that I am creating because I am against that system; it is a truth that has been documented by the mainstream press time and time again. The fate of the real common citizenry the people: the laborers  the truck drivers, the shop-keepers, the nurses, the factory-workers, the taxi drivers, even the professional/middle classes, who also are suffocating under the pressure of that tiny 1% at the top – it seems is destined to be at the hands of the most savvy businessman that can squeeze his way in.

PART II SHEDDING THE OLD SYSTEM: PARTICIPATORY – NOT REPRESENTATIONAL – DEMOCRACY

In the Creation of the New Socialist State, every remnant of the old system must be shed, or, at least, as much as possible. But this doesn’t mean succumbing to a dictatorship.

As new nations continue to, as Che has written somewhere, “fall off of the weakest branches of the Imperial Tree,” either through Liberation Struggles or Revolutions of a social nature (even if not necessarily of a socialist nature), the movement and the struggle itself is, at all moments – during the actual armed guerrilla war, or the peaceful movement, or even after victory, in the oceanic depths of a nation seemingly isolated from everything, but really only far away from every vestige of the old society as the new society begins its birth – led by a group of people who’ve been ideologically, physically and mentally trained for such a task; they are led by the Vanguard.

While many people understand the concept that the guerrilla war or even the peaceful movement has to indeed be led by a group of people better trained to do so, the thought that the same group should have any influence on the reconstruction of the political, social and economic atmosphere of the nation seems disparate if not entirely backwards to them. But perhaps it isn’t properly understood that after victory, the group, which in the first place was formed by the People, has not a Controlling Role per se, but rather one of Impulse, of Movement, of Pushing the masses forward, or even Pulling them where necessary.

In Cuba, the Guerrilla that began as 80-something men somewhere in Mexico, was formed of people, among them Fidel Castro and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, that had never had any military training prior to the experience. Some of them had fired guns and were avid marksmen, but most were laborers, peasants and even professionals from the common citizenry (Che was a doctor, though Argentinean), that had literally taken up arms to take back their nation from Imperial Domination. Though they received some military training in Mexico, they were leading a fight mostly on Ideology…and a whole bunch of fucking courage, of course!

As the fight went on in the thick jungles of the Sierra Maestra, the Guerrilla that had began as 80-something men started to swell as the fighters began educating the peasants they found isolated and spread throughout the mountain, forgotten – or rather, neglected – by Batista’s Dictatorship, which had funneled the booming economy to the very top, leaving most of the people as forgotten peasants in the mountains and impoverished, illiterate, sick, hungry, nearly zombie-like bodies in the rest of the cities throughout the country. And education, at that time, didn’t necessarily mean in terms of ideology, for the revolution, at that time, still had not taken up Socialism as its goal, though as the fight went on, more communist, socialist, and left-wing groups joined the fighting both in the mountains and the cities. Education was literally Education: peasants in their 40s, 50s, 60s and so on, had, for the first time, learned what their names looked like on paper, and that they themselves could do it. They were taught their own history – that of the Latin American continent – and why their land and family were often abused – in every sense of the word – by thugs from the government.

Well, as the fighting goes on, as the people from the cities and the mountains see the legitimate goal of the revolution and begin joining them, the Vanguard itself begins to expand. At this moment, it still comprises the fighting groups, but after Victory and, more specifically, after Fidel officially announces a year after they’d won, in 1961, that they’d led a Socialist Revolution and were now, in effect, a Socialist State, the group would comprise elements directly from the common citizenry.

Now, it is true that the president – who at least nominally continues to be Fidel Castro – is not elected and that, in fact, the position was simply inherited by his brother, Raul Castro. So it is here that begins what needs explaining, though to most people, entirely convinced of the backwardness of “socialism,” it may sound like justifying. But let me give it a try anyway.

To create a new state, every vestige of the old one must be shed. In the attempt to do so, the Revolutionary Government must, as Castro did, abolish everything and every vehicle through which supporters of the old system could again slither their way in, to infect it from within the political-judicial sphere, like a goddamn cancer. He abolished Congress and did not allow any of the people who had participated in the previous rigged elections to participate in government.

Now, though I’m not 100% knowledgeable of the entire political system in the island, I do know that they have a National Assembly whose 614 members are not only elected by the public, but half of the members are comprised by nominees from youth/student groups, women groups, trade unions and members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, which are a little more than 8 of the 11 million Cubans living there. Then they go on to choose the members of the other legislative/executive bodies, who are in charge of passing/proposing laws, ratifying them, executing them, etc. There is no need, now, to get into the semantics of the political structure itself.

The Vanguard, which as we’ve seen began with the Guerrilla Fighters in the mountains, then grew with the peasants and common citizenry that joined the fighting, now, after Victory, begins looking for more and more people to join it. And how? By looking for the people that are choosing to open their eyes, or people who are legitimately giving themselves willingly (and understanding exactly what it means to do so) to the task of creating a new society. Going into detail would take a lot more analysis, but let’s just look at a couple of ways.

PART III – REAL COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Firstly, with more than 8 of the 11 million citizens voluntarily joining the so-called Committees for the Defense of the Revolution – in every neighborhood of the country  – it is clear that “People Power” is indeed more than just a term. Critics of the system say that this is essentially a “secret police” that monitors every activity, and every minute detail of peoples’ personal lives, tattling on the ones that are plotting against government or who simply are dissidents. This is the loss of freedom they woe. However, the roles of these bodies are much more than simply monitoring, though it has never been denied that one of those is indeed to monitor for counter-revolutionary activities.

Castro himself has been quoted saying of their purpose: That they exist “In the face of Imperial Aggression, we’re going to implement a system of collective vigilance…so that everybody knows who lives on every block, what they do on every block, what relations they have had with the tyranny, in what activities are they involved and with whom do they meet.” (Context is imperative here. The quote comes from CNN, so I will always question its entire veracity, but nevertheless, it does sound like Castro; however, it was said in 1960, at the very top of the tensions between the U.S. and Cuba, and when the former was actively and militarily trying to topple the revolution and infiltrate its ranks. Moreover, also placing this quote in the context of the creation of a new society with a selfless mentality, where we are as much in tune with other people’s lives and needs as we are with our own, this type of “collective vigilance” can be understood as the typical – and necessary – effort to increase community involvement, participation and identity, where neighbors aren’t just individuals living beside each other, alienated from each other’s lives but for a “hi” in the morning and a “hi” at night, but rather they are members of a neighborhood – which itself is a member of a society – where everyone’s efforts affect everyone else.) But there’s more to their purpose, which directly links with the need for a Vanguard and, even more importantly, for the need of specific type of people to join the Vanguard.

The criteria that is looked for in candidates that are nominated to be members of the National Assembly, who in turn will elect, among themselves, members to go on to form the Council of State, is, above all, merit, patriotism, ethical values and revolutionary history. Now, though to some that may sound like a bunch of bull, consider what the 8 million members of these neighborhood committees are involved in doing, most notably in regards to social activities that get people to work together and disaster relief.

From Wikipedia, citing information from National Assembly of People’s Power as well as the above mentioned CNN article:

“Its defenders note that [the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] have other important responsibilities…these include arranging festivals, administrating voluntary community projects, and organizing attendance to mass rallies. Proponents also emphasize that CDR helped to put medical, educational, or other campaigns into national effect and that, being organized on a geographical basis, they also act as centers for many who do not work in farms or factories and hence include a large proportion of female membership. The CDR’s also take an active role in vaccination campaigns, blood banks, recycling, practicing evacuations for hurricanes, and backing up the government in its fight against corruption.”

Indeed. In Global Justice: Liberation and Socialism, which I quote again below, Che describes an occasion at the beginning of the revolution where these type of community efforts were exemplified in the people.

The following passage describes both the type of attitude that is trying to be harnessed in the new society, and the final goal. I quote:

“At other opportunities in our history, the total commitment to the revolutionary cause was repeated. During the October Crisis, on the days of the Floral Cyclone, we saw exceptional acts of valor and sacrifice realized by an entire people. Finding the formula to perpetuate that heroic attitude in every-day life is one of our fundamental tasks from the ideological point of view” (34).

PART III.I – SIDE-NOTE ON DETRACTORS

Just for the sake of some objectivity, I want to very briefly address some points that detractors criticize.

It reads in Wikipedia:

“However, a 2006 Amnesty International report noted CDR involvement in repeated human rights violations that included verbal as well as physical violence.[5] Critics also contend that the CDR’s are a repressive tool, giving the government a heads-up about dissident activities on the micro-local level, by tattling on the non-compliant.[1] They identify CDR’s as “one of the lead entities responsible for the wave of repression sweeping through Cuba,” most recently, the brutal beatings and detention of 75 members of the Ladies in White in Havana in 2011 and 2012.[6][7]

First: Amnesty International is enraged at alleged “verbal as well as physical violence,” and therefore is constantly condemning the “dictatorship” in Cuba and its “human rights abuses.” Yet they say absolutely not one single word when violent attacks by cops towards women, minorities, youth, (peaceful) protesters have been CLEARLY AND EMPIRICALLY DOCUMENTED time and time again in the United States. I do not intend this to be a “if you do it, why can’t we?” argument; I say it simply to point out the illegitimacy and injustice of an international body that claims to be non-partisan while defending human rights, yet turning a blind eye to the obvious abuses in any country that has not rattled the status quo. It is simply a matter of ILLEGITIMACY, HYPOCRISY AND INSINCERITY. Thus, to me, going by the information provided by Amnesty International regarding human rights abuses, is as objective as using the Bible – the very book I question – as empirical/objective evidence of the existence of God.

Second: “Critics say it is a tool for giving a heads up to the government about dissident activities on the micro level by tattling on the non compliant.” Two things to say about this: One is that once it is established that a new society is in creation – that the task has been embarked upon by the masses (MAJORITY) – any non-compliance automatically means the wish/fight to keep the old one alive, therefore being counterrevolutionary, therefore being illegal. Period.

But, second, to those who feel the weight of that sentence to be too heavy, let me just paraphrase what someone else said: The U.S. has the FBI, which is comprised of federal government agents monitoring absolutely every single person’s email, phone calls, etc., with a file on everybody! It is so commonly known, that even in movies and sitcoms, the FBI’s all-seeing-eye is often parodied. Cuba may have something similar, though it is comprised of people – not government officials – who have accepted the new task of creating a new society. Moreover, the CDRs have additional, more important roles, as was mentioned above.

Detractors also mention brutal repression “sweeping through Cuba.” In an article (http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-10-20/ladies-white-cubas-shame-93335), it is written:

“The Ladies in White came about after what’s referred to as Cuba’s Black Spring, those months in 2003, when state security agents descended on dissidents like a series of flash floods. We’d hear the racket in the neighborhood in the wee hours, get up, sneak a peek out the door and see the street blocked; somebody’s house was getting sacked.

“Eventually, the government condemned 75 men and women to sentences that went up to 30 some years, the evidence against them technologies such as computers and cells that weren’t legal on the island then, payments from abroad for articles and interviews, the eyewitness reports of men they’d thought were comrades in arms and turned out to be government spies embedded in their midst.

“One of the condemned men was Hector Maseda, an independent journalist and leader of the unofficial and thus illegal Cuban Liberal Party”

From my point of view, if those certain computers and cells were illegal, then you are committing a crime, right? That’s how it works? When people do something they feel shouldn’t be a crime but get punished – are they being repressed or punished for committing a crime? Here in Canada, recreational weed is illegal, though I, as a chronic user, certainly don’t see why it should be and even advocate for the opposite. However, if I am caught smoking a joint by a cop, whether I believe it unjust or not, the fact remains that I am breaking the law and that I will have to deal with consequences. Period.

“Payments from abroad for articles and interviews”? In a time when it is known that the U.S. is trying to topple the Revolution (which it continues to do)? To “pay” for interviews? What kind of journalist from “abroad” – whatever country that may refer to – pays for interviews and articles? No self-respecting journalist does this. It goes against every ethic of the profession. Plus it is penalized, even here in Canada. In fact, when I read that sentence in the article, something actually clicked: Oh, I thought. So that’s how they get all their “misinformation” which they feed to the American public about the “hardships,” “volatility” and “repression” in Socialist Island: Buying News…

Lastly, someone may argue that the sentences were too long. Too long??! They are counter-revolutionaries trying to undo/undermine/sabotage (through every avenue, even lies/illegal ones) the efforts thus far made at creating a new system in order to return to one which they know kept the majority of the population oppressed, hungry, homeless, illiterate and sick. At the very best, they are simply looking out for their own interests, unable to cope with the social movement in the country and unable to lock arms with the masses that are indeed moving forward; at the very best, in other words, their self-interest causes them to choose to walk alone, away from the masses (the MAJORITY). So, in my opinion, let them rot! Thirty years is not enough! But perhaps that is why I am not the leader of a nation; I may be too harsh; too impulsive; not wise enough; not diplomatic enough, who knows.

Even so, later on, brokered through Cuba’s Catholic archdiocese with the Cuban and Spanish governments, early releases were granted. “Most of the freed men chose to leave the island, to settle in Spain and the U.S. as part of the arrangement.”

What a surprise. Where else would they go??

PART IV – IDEOLOGICALLY ADVANCED

Anyway, back to the Vanguard.

As more people from the common citizenry continue to excel in the previously mentioned camps, namely merit, patriotism, community involvement, heroism, volunteerism and, of course, ideological prowess, as part of their routine life as either members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution or even outside of it (though apparently the majority are in it), the Vanguard continues to grow.

Those more ideologically advanced – the ones that understand the Marxist-Leninist Theories of the Construction of Socialism – as well as the ones that have the more meritorious qualities, such as volunteerism, heroism, community involvement, what have you, are the ones in charge of helping the rest of society reach the same level of culture and to then go on climbing together (note the contrast to competition, where the winner – the more advanced – does not have any obligation to help the “losers” reach the same level). This is part of the Direct Education that Che believes is essential in the formation of the new Man, and calls “Auto-Education.”

I quote from Socialism and Man, itself a part of the short anthology, Global Justice: Liberation and Socialism (Pg. 39).

“In our case, direct education acquires a much greater importance. The explanation is convincing because it is true, not filled with subterfuges. It is exercised through the educative apparatus of the State in terms of general culture, [technique] and ideology, through such organisms as the Ministry of Education and the divulgation apparatus of the State. Education then is absorbed by the masses, and the new type of advocated attitude turns to habit; the masses continue to make it their own, and pressure those who still have not educated themselves. This is the indirect form of educating the masses…

“But the process is conscious; the individual constantly receives the impact of the new social power and perceives that it isn’t totally adequate for him. Under the influence of this indirect education, he tries to accommodate himself to a situation he feels just and whose very own lack of development has impeded him from doing so until now. He auto-educates.

“In this period of construction of socialism, we can appreciate the new man that is being born. His image is not yet finished; it couldn’t be, since the process marches parallel to the development of new economic ways.”

And it is through this socialist education that the new Vanguard swells in numbers of members, pushing forward from behind, and pulling from the front, all of the people who have yet to accept the creation of the new system, or who need help understanding the steps to be taken, or who consciously move forward with them, though still not sure of the final goal. Ultimately, as the numbers continue to increase to engulf the entire population, the Vanguard ceases to exist as every member becomes consciously a New Man. This, of course, is Communism.

I quote again, from page 39 and 40.

“Not counting those whose lack of education makes them opt for the solitary path, towards the auto-satisfaction of their own desires, there exist those who, even inside this new panorama of a unified march, tend to walk isolated from the masses that accompany them. What is important is that they daily go on becoming more and more conscious of the necessity of their incorporation (integration) into society and, at the same time, as engines of the same.

“They no longer march alone, through skewed roads toward distant aspirations. They follow their Vanguard, constituted by the Party, by the leading laborers, by the leading men and women who walk linked to the masses and in tight communion with them. The Vanguard has its view fixed on the future and in its prize, but this isn’t perceived as something individual; the prize is the new society where men and women will have different characteristics: the society of the Communist Man.

“The path is long and full of difficulties. Sometimes, due to taking the wrong route, we’ll have to take steps backwards; other times, due to walking too fast, we’ll lose sight of the masses; on occasions where we go too slow, we’ll feel the breath of those stepping on our heels. In our revolutionary ambitions, we try walking as fast as possible, opening paths, but we know that we must feed from the masses, and that they, in turn, will only be able to advance if we encourage them with our example.

“Notwithstanding the importance given to moral stimuli, the fact that there exists a division between the two principal groups (excluding, of course, the minority fraction of those who do not participate, for whatever reason, in the construction of socialism), indicates the relative lack of development in the social consciousness. The Vanguard group is ideologically more advanced than the masses, who know of the new values, but insufficiently. While in the first group (vanguard), a qualitative change is produced which allows them to sacrifice themselves in their leading roles, the second group (masses) only sees halfway forward, and must therefore be subjected to stimuli and pressures of a certain intensity; it is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat imposing itself not only over the defeated class, but also, individually, over the victorious one.

“All of this begs, for its total success, the necessity of a series of mechanisms – the revolutionary institutions…”