Category Archives: Writings

Abolitionist Poetry

The 1807 abolition of slave relations of production within the British Empire may have been very progressive for its time, but one wonders if these same authors would have been so jovial if they could see the way leading capitalists have lined up to contrast the modern marvel of “free trade and labor” with slavery.

The collection of essays I had the opportunity to read accurately reflects the trends of the British abolitionist movement of the nineteenth century (with all the trappings one would assume), particularly their eloquent use of parody to convey the sufferings of slaves to the public. William Cowper’s Sweet Meat has Sour Sauce is a prime example of this method, whereby a narrator talks to the reader in darkly sarcastic tones. The poem itself comes in a form similar to a bar song, though it graphically discusses torture, whippings and mutilation of “negroes,” each stanza ending with the unsettling refrain, “which nobody can deny,” a line that begins to take on the double meaning—the ‘undeniability’ of the agony of slavery. Meanwhile, Robert Southey’s epic The Sailor, Who Had Served in the Slave Trade keeps to the visceral and rapturous in terms of feeling, but ends up being more ironic than the author perhaps intended. At the end, the narrator (a preacher) tells him that God will forgive his sins if only he prays and asks, in the process giving the sailor a convenient vehicle with which to cope with the continuance of his trade.

The poem hereby implies that the sailor’s religion will be used to encourage, not stop the sailor’s behavior, while at the same time it may be said that the narrator is showing the sailor a new (abolitionist) way free of the sin of slave trading. This odd duality certainly leaves the work open to debate, and shines a light on how traditional doctrines of morality, such as Christianity, can be used to justify both progressive and reactionary forces. Hannah More, on the other hand, throws subtlety to the wind with her work Slavery, a Poem, in which she seems to shout in thunderous language at the very heavens, crying for any force of justice to rain fire down upon this wicked world. Much of the same can be said about Cowper’s other major work in this section, On Slavery. Both simply state in powerful yet plain language the experiences of the abducted and colonized races. In my opinion, by far the most disturbing of the bunch is The Sailor, not only because of its abrupt twist ending but because of its outrageous uncertainty.

Ann Yearsley’s A Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade not only far surpasses its simple title in rich content, but also manages to carve out effective imagery in the text in order to force the reader into the place of an individual slave, making it a personal favorite. Hardly anything is said about the character of Luco as an individual, but the scenes of the mourning of his family at his abduction and his heroism in the face of the horrendous tortures he endures develop his character far more than simple dialogue ever could. When Luco is enraged at being blinded by a whip and kills his master with his hoe—a symbol of his oppression—the reader is made to feel his wrath. When afterwards he faces the fate of burning alive rather than live as an animal or beast, the reader himself is filled with righteous anger. The poem shows above all the millions of individual dramas that lay behind hollow statistics such as tallies of slave figures.

Written in a different style but showcasing the same sort of detached and analytical cynicism, Anna Barbauld’s On the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade is written almost like a letter to William Wilberforce, shows how the ruling class lackeys and the clergy have given the black man false hope that he might be free through peaceful, parliamentary means. Without knowing it, the text reinforces the belief in the utter futility of ruling class politics and implies the only way an enslaved people will be, or has ever been, freed is through armed struggle, such as the slave uprisings that were happening in the British colonies at the time. It also exposes (perhaps meant in a mocking manner) the worship of Wilberforce as the “great man of history,” the white liberal at the head of the abolitionist movement. Throughout, her account of his exploits and ideological fights read like propaganda. One can only hope she meant to display the hypocrisy in placing a white reformist writer (who foolishly sought peaceful means to emancipation) on the grand pedestal of admiration instead of the black slave organizers of revolts themselves, who risked their lives to gain freedom.

Wordsworth’s sonnet To Toussaint Louverture does not have the same intention as Anna Barbauld’s poem—to criticize a figurehead of the abolitionist movement and to undermine his cult of personality or taking of excessive credit—but rather gives focus to a genuine revolutionary hero who was instrumental in a slave uprising. Wordsworth clearly had an admiration for the man, though the poem itself goes into no great detail about why Louverture should be so revered. This is most likely to avoid charges of sedition or treason by the British government, since Louverture was the leader of the Haitian slave uprisings that uprooted the colonialists. Ultimately Wordsworth says that his story will be heard around the globe to inspire other oppressed peoples, though he fails to mention if too much focus on reformism of the Wilberforce type will be promoted by the ruling classes.

The Little Black Boy seems to be one of William Blake’s more “innocent” poems in the Songs of Innocence, disturbingly so. The narrator, the little black boy in question, seems to unhesitatingly absorb what is told to him by the dark figures of authority in the poem, such as his mother or God. It demonstrates the role of the church in the creation of the slave trade by implying that the Jesus figure favors the little white boy. Even his mother seems complicit in the boy’s ultimate fate in becoming a slave, since he is completely dependent on her for information regarding the world. The last stanza is obviously meant to be sarcastic, showing the tendency in society for the lower classes to aspire to and imitate the habits of the higher ones, no matter how reprehensible.

Disturbing Revelation

As a kid, one of my favorite games was Contra for the original Nintendo NES. As an adult, I now know this game was a propaganda effort to raise support for the reactionary Contras in Nicaragua fighting against the Sandinista government.

  • The ending theme of the original game was titled “Sandinista” (サンディニスタ?).
  • You’re known as a “Contra” and you fight against evil aliens called “Red Falcon.”
  • The two main characters were modeled after reactionary action actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
  • They are on a mission from the U.S. imperialists to kill all Red Falcons that are planning “an invasion” of Earth (the U.S.).
  • To make matters worse, in the Japanese version you fight on the fictional Oceania archipelago of “Galuga.”
  • The American NES version takes place in the present (1980’s at the release of the game), in South America. Yes, they were that ballsy.

History

“Contra” literally meant counterrevolutionary for those in Nicaragua. They were fighting against the democratic socialist Sandinistas with help from Ronald Reagan’s cronies. Congress was so horrified by the Contras they even cut off funding in 1985, which led Reagan and the CIA to start covert illegal funding, ergo, the Iran-Contra Affair.

The Contras committed atrocities:

“But despite the efforts of the White House PR machine, the Contras increasingly appeared to be a particularly ruthless and bloodthirsty bunch. Stories of atrocities against civilian noncombatants certainly didn’t help. In the words of human rights group Americas Watch, ‘the Contras systematically engage in violent abuses … so prevalent that these may be said to be their principle means of waging war.’ Another NGO compiled a year’s worth of Contra atrocities, which included murder, rape, torture, maiming children, cutting off arms, cutting out tongues, gouging out eyes, castration, bayoneting pregnant women in the stomach, and amputating genitals.”

Good stuff, eh?

Imagine all the people who donated 53¢ to see people…kill people. For democracy.

President Ronald Reagan explains who is fighting to overthrow the current Nicaraguan regime:

“Thousands who fought with the Sandinistas have taken up arms against them and are now called the Contras. They are freedom fighters.”

President Ronald Reagan attempts to drum up public support for the Contras:

“They are our brothers, these freedom fighters, and we owe them our help. I’ve spoken recently of the freedom fighters of Nicaragua. You know the truth about them. You know who they’re fighting and why. They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance.”

Try saying video games are “class neutral” now, liberals.

Something to Remember when Analyzing Bandera Roja

Alejandro Silva front of Bandera Roja

Bandera Roja is considered a disgrace, a stain on history that is used to attack Marxist-Leninists or to attack the legacy of Enver Hoxha. Bandera Roja openly supported right-wing opponents of Chavez in their native Venezuela (including Manuel Rosales in 2006) and have since lost much political credibility and most of their members, some of whom formed the new ICMLPO party, the PCMLV or Marxist–Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela.

Even though BR does deserve strong criticism for their treacherous actions, it is important to realize that not all blame rests with them in this equation, particularly given the group’s personal history with Hugo Chavez.

Here is a little-talked-about incident in which Hugo Chavez’s first assignment in the army was a counter-insurgency force against leftist guerrillas from BR ala “Plan Columbia.”

Read an external article from a few years ago here:

Bandera Roja, La Masacre de Cantaura and last Sunday’s Elections in Venezuela

Explaining what has happened in Venezuela in the last decade can sometimes be quite a task. People talk about the “opposition” as if it were a homogeneous group with a common ideology. Besides the social-democrats, social christians and socialists, people always stare at me when I describe Bandera Roja, a Marxist/socialist organization that is part of Venezuela’s opposition and a member of the Mesa de Unidad (MUD) which fielded unified candidates in Sunday’s election.

Bandera Roja began as a Maoist guerrilla group. They were in fact, the last guerrilla group to abandon the armed fight and become a political party in 1992, to become the extreme far left [sic] in Venezuela. Despite this, Bandera Roja never backed Hugo Chavez, arguing he was no socialist or marxist, but an opportunist whose only project is his own self-promotion.

In 1982, what was then the Alejandro Silva front of Bandera Roja (picture above), held a meeting in a farm in Cantaura, inviting students that were simpathetic to the movement, many of whom were unarmed. The military somehow found out about it and started a military operation which began by bombing from airplanes in order to disperse those on the ground. As they dispersed, they were met by military ground forces which proceeded to capture many of those present. Reportedly, most were originally captured alive, but were later found dead.

The case was revived during the last few years, as Venezuela’s General Prosecutor’s office exhumed the bodies and began an investigation of the massacre in which a total of 23 people died. In early September, Human Rights organization Provea, denounced the fact that one of those being investigated, was retired General Roger Cordero Lara, one of the leaders of the massacre, who piloted one of the Broncos that led the attack. Provea asked Chavez’ party PSUV to withdraw the candidacy in order to stop the impunity on these cases.

Last Sunday, Roger Cordero Lara was elected as a Deputy for Circuit 2 of Guarico State under the PSUV party and now has immunity from Prosecution, unless the National Assembly and the Venezuelan Supreme Court removes it. This led Proeva to send this letter to Hugo Chavez and his party, noting the incoherence of backing Cordero Lara, as well as the precedent of impunity that this constitutes. Chavista groups have also raised their voices to protest, to no avail.

In the case of the Cantaura massacre, much like in other similar cases, military courts exonerated those involved, including General Cordero Lara in the Cantaura case, but the General Prosecutor has reopened the cases with the Cantaura case, being opened at the request of Hugo Chavez, but has yet to rule on any of them, which Provea suggests is due to the fact that many of those exonerated are pro-Chavez retired high ranking military like Cordero Lara. So much for the caring revolution!

But given that Chavez and PSUV did nothing when they could remove him as a candidate, it is highly unlikely that they would go through the complicated process of removing Cordero Lara’s immunity and impunity on the case will continue to prevail.

So much for the revolution…

Article on “Bandera Roja” translated into English:

Bandera Roja (BR) was a guerrilla group and later a political party in Venezuela. Was led by Gabriel Puerta Aponte. Initially known as Red Flag Movement (MBR), in later years was known as “Red Flag – Front Américo Silva (BR-FAS).” In its early was a Maoist guerrilla movement farmer of revolutionary violence, the main range were among public universities and high schools (secondary education centers) Venezuela.

Red Flag was formed on January 20, 1970 by a breakaway group of anti-revisionist wing of the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), which in turn was a splinter of the Democratic Action party (AD). The latter was the biggest game in votes, which along with COPEI, formed a bipartisan pact of institutional form created through the so-called Pact of Punto Fijo, and the PCV with the MIR were first outlawed and firmly pursued, then the Rafael Caldera’s government were allowed to participate in elections.

In the ideological red flag represents, in its origins, the strongest line of Marxism-Leninism, initially with a common ideology with the Albanian Party of Labor of Enver Hoxha, close to the policies of the late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. His theories and practices after they were placed closer to other groups of extreme left residual Venezuelan armed struggle, as Revolutionary Organization (OR) led by Jorge Rodríguez, Julio Escalona and Marcos Gómez and legal front: the Socialist League and others .

Early career as a guerrilla organization

Red Flag starred in several guerrilla actions against the Army in the East of the country by Guerrilla Front “Antonio José de Sucre” which was a group of about 60 men and women under arms in the mountains and plains of eastern Venezuela (states Monagas and Anzoategui). Its top leaders were Carlos Betancourt, Tito Heredia González, Américo Silva and Gabriel Puerta Aponte.

On January 18, 1975 took place near the PRV-FALN an operation in which through a tunnel of 70 meters and 60 centimeters wide, 23 prisoners escaped politicians from both guerrilla groups that were held at the San Carlos in North Caracas. These accounts included: William José Álvarez Blanco (FALN) Leonardo Araque Carlos Carcamo (BR); Betancourt, Argenis (BR), Carlos Efrain Betancourt (BR), Vicente Antonio Contreras Duque (BR), Marco Tulio Croquer Horace ( BR), Antonio López Chang (BR), Jose Asdrubal Guzman Cordero (BR), Marco Antonio Ludeña Arocha (BR), Jesus Arnaldo Romero Marrero (BR), Ramon Morales Elías Rossi (FALN), Quentin Ramón Sánchez Moya (FALN); among others.

First Division

The Organization had a first division in March 1976 and losing the Guerrilla Front Command was divided leaving Puerta Aponte and Tito Gonzalez with the game itself and the neighborhood and labor fronts and Carlos Betancourt exclusively with the armed wing and created a parallel movement called Red Flag – Marxist-Leninist “whose initials were BR-ML and was short-lived as it dissolved itself following the partial dismantling suffered by Venezuela’s intelligence police, DISIP.

BR rebuilt the military and founded the guerrilla “Americo Silva” whose first operation was the release of several military cadres prisoners in the jail of La Pica in August 1977.

Slaughter of Cantaura

In early 1982, the Guerrilla Front was in a state of euphoria, came to get several military victories, including the taking of San Antonio de Maturin, San Félix de Caicara, the Excise of Santa Maria de Ipire (January 1982). At that time, FAS, he gave to the armed struggle eminently violent. For example, in dealing with barbecues where it caused several casualties to the army killed and wounded and a DISIP agent who was captured and later released. Making the people of Santa Ines and Brig sample was available for the control of that group.

By the end of September 1982, the guerrillas set out in the camp where the confrontation occurred later, was the same site used years ago as a refuge for escapees from the San Carlos headquarters.

The action began at 5:45 am on October 4, 1982. The State Security Forces were operating a classic purse in action combined land and air. Once located the guerrillas placed in strategic sites around, ambushes distributed in a semi-moon, forming several rings, then began the attack with the air force with planes bombing and strafing with Canberra aircraft OV-10 Bronco observation intensively. In this first assault, suffered six wounded face death without any fighter.

During two days of fighting guerrilla ambushes in ten falls, leaving 23 dead and several minor injuries and is permanently divided into three groups, each of which tries to break the siege by different routes. The group that breaks the siege led by Alirio Quintero Paredes and another group led by Alejandro Velasquez Guerra succeed.

Escaped nearly a dozen guerrillas, of which very few wanted to rebuild the Guerrilla Front later. All the bulk of the Front Command was killed in the clash. The commanders and fighters were killed in Cantaura: Roberto Antonio Rincon Cabrera (aka Sergio and The Catire, first commander), Enrique Jose Marquez Velasquez (aka Florencio, Deputy Commander); Empress Cordero Guzman (alias Sonia, or hump, Third Commander) ; Sister Fanny Alfonzo Salazar (aka Patricia and Pat, a member of the Command), Carlos Jesus Arzola Hernández, José Miguel Nunez (aka Rivas and Spaniard), Mauricio Tejada Carmen Rosa Garcia, (aka Rosie); Ildemar Lawrence Morillo, Carlos Sambrano Alberto Mira, María Luisa Arranz Estevez (aka Natalia) Antonio Maria Echegarreta Hernandez, Beatriz del Carmen Jimenez (alias Maira); Baudilio Veracierto Valdemar Herrera, Jorge Luis Becerra Navarro (aka Gilbert); Eumennedis Ysoida Gutiérrez Rojas (alias Heydy), Diego Alfredo Alfonso Carrasquel, José Luis Gómez, Eusebio Martel Daza (aka Sunday), Ruben Castro Alfredo Batista, Nelson Antonio Pacin Collaso, Julio César Farías Zerpa Ysidro Mejias and José Colina.

Recent years as a guerrilla

In the years after Red Flag was a self-truce, its existence being limited to universities and colleges of Education Media, rebuilding the Front “Americo Silva” only to provide training to its members, no other post operative function, and concentrating pro organizations forces the freedom of political prisoners, legal and facades dissolve the Committees of Popular Struggle (CLP) and professional bodies such as the Regional Federation of Secondary Education (FREM) from Caracas.

Finally in May 1994, the National Red Flag decided to disband the guerrilla fronts and a score of former guerrillas came down from the mountain as a symbolic surrender their weapons and pacified despite not having carried out armed actions in more than ten years . At this time, Red Flag emphasizes its political work in its two legal fronts, which used to attract cadres and members, were these the Revolutionary Youth Union (UJR) and the Movement for Popular Democracy (MDP). Of these walls came the second division of Red Flag 1992 when a lot of his paintings defected to the Revolutionary National Coordinator (CNR), whose student wing, the Youth Movement Ezequiel Zamora (MJEZ) Red Flag came to represent the high schools middle school and was totally lost. The people who comprise this division are the principal subsequently joined the Movimiento V Republica (MVR) and support the government of Hugo Chávez, unlike the Red Flag which is opposite to that government.

Red Flag supported both coups occurred in 1992 against then President Carlos Andrés Pérez and the coup of 11 April 2002 against President Hugo Chávez.

Conformation as a legal political party

His first record as a legal party is its emergence as Democratic Movement in the 1993 presidential election, when the candidacy of Gabriel Puerta Aponte by MDP card received 3,746 votes (0.07%).

In the 1989 election takes the form of legal political group and decide to participate with your card supporting the candidate Gabriel Puerta Aponte. Red flag while maintaining its socialist ideology, opposed from the outset the Chavez government (which has consistently held to be socialist), joined the opposition coalition called the Democratic Coordinator, participating in political actions opposing the party of Hugo Chávez. In this sense, the organization said that the drive to social sectors is due to consider Chavez a communist false and misleading the people of Venezuela.

In August 2006, the organization announced for the presidential elections on 3 December his apoyo1 Manuel Rosales (Social Democratic Party leader Un Nuevo Tiempo, and Zulia state governor) who was the candidate for much of the opposition parties, but not could prevent the reelection of Chávez.

Most of the historical ex-members organized around a new organization called the Popular Vanguard detached from the Venezuelan opposition trying to recover political presence in the capital and the east.

In the last parliamentary elections, held in September 2010, Red Flag, won 67,563 votes, representing 0.60% of the vote and it the fifteenth most votes Venezuelan party, yet it the eleventh game of the MUD opposition coalition, to grab the 1.26% of the votes of misma.

Bandera Roja says Chavez Frias has dragged left-wing banners into the mire

Celebrating 34 years of existence, Bandera Roja (BR) leader, Gabriel Puerta Aponte comments that Venezuela’s last guerrilla group is fighting the damage and mud-raking that the Chavez Frias administration has thrown over the traditional banners of the Left through the President’s demagogy … “what’s required now is not a left-wing, radical or revolutionary government ( that will come later) but a government that can get us out the crisis as soon as possible.”

In the company of BR general secretariat members, Armando Diaz, Rafael Venegas and Pedro Veliz Acuna, Puerta rejects accusations that BR is sharing policies with its traditional adversaries: Accion Democratica (AD) and the Christian Socialists (COPEI) as a compliment and says it shows political maturity … “if we speak about reconciliation, this is the best way to show that BR is not full of hatred … if we don’t show our sincerity, we would be like those taking about plurality, integration, unity but who want to hog everything when it comes to electoral processes.”

BR considers the unity factor as the Coordinadora Democratica’s biggest challenge and calls on would-be breakaway parties, Primero Justicia (PJ), Proyecto Venezuela (PV) and Causa R to sit down and discuss matters inside CD with transparency and responsibility.

There can be no return to the past, Puerto points out … ” the past is represented by a practice and conduct vis-a-vis power … before it was AD and COPEI … now it’s Movimiento Quinta Republica (MVR) and allies … Chavez Frias represents the past and continues the old practices of political cronyism, corruption, political segregation and treating the country like a feudal lord.”

“Chavez Frias has not approved a single measure that has annoyed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and foreign capital has been the greatest beneficiary with this government.”

BR now sees itself as attempting to consolidate a center-left tendency in Venezuela along with other parties, preparing for any pendulum political movement that could produce a right-wing government, unwilling to facilitate change in Venezuela.

Provide the PSUV and the slaughter of Cantaura

The NGO reports that an official candidate to the NA is one of the perpetrators of the deadly incident in 1982

The NGO Venezuelan Program of Action and Education (Give), reported on Thursday Queuña National Assembly candidate for the State of Guarico, Lara Roger Lamb is an author known for the slaughter of Cantaura. Here Provide the full statement:

One of the authors recognized the Slaughter of Cantaura today is PSUV candidate for Guarico. His name is Roger Cordero Lara. It will be recalled 28 years ago was an attack by armed forces against a concentration of guerrillas of Americo Silva, armed against the Red Flag Party, which was planning a military operation Cantaura policy, Anzoátegui state. Such an event happened to the pages of the Venezuelan political history as “The Slaughter of Cantaura.” 23 guerrillas were killed, 14 of them captured alive and finished by officials of the DISIP, the DIM and the elite troops of the battalions of hunters, constituting a severe violation of human rights at the time.

The then Lieutenant Roger Cordero Lara piloting one of the Broncos who bombed in Cantaura, as websites even claim near the Venezuelan government (http://www.revolucionbolivariana.es.tl/REVOLUCION-AL-DIA/index-1. htm). 24 years later became Major General and Commander in Chief of Aviation of the Bolivarian government, praised by President Chavez as a “true revolutionary general.” The day of his nomination as candidate for the State of Guarico, which was held on 03.05.1910, Cordero Lara said: “I constituted loyal supporter of the National Simon Bolivar Project. All must be loyal to this project that is beneficial to the group, which is why I show my full willingness and I become the basis for instrument approaches lead to the National Assembly. ” The nomination was accepted by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), so that the perpetrator of the Slaughter of Cantaura is running for circuit 2 of the entity, with Altuve Lidice, Oscar Figuera, General Secretary of Communist Party Venezuela-Jesus Cepeda and Alfredo Ureña.

Cordero Lara’s bid for the PSUV is inconsistent with the Government’s words against impunity in the so-called massacres of the Fourth Republic. ” The tolerance in this situation is an incentive to abuse of power and in fact dismisses the plight of the family to achieve justice in the case, and is an example of the inefficiency of the Attorney General’s Office, Luisa Ortega Diaz, who on October 27, 2009 reaffirmed its “commitment to solving the case”

Slice-of-Life, “Self-Indulgence” & Reaction

Amateur chauvinist critics nowadays label entertainment without plot to be “self-indulgent.” What they are referring to here is the “slice of life” story, universally met with knee-jerk attacks from our young, impatient reviewers. It is hardly ever analyzed by these people whether or not the lack of plot is due to a lack of talent on behalf of the writer, or a tremendous swelling of talent in his or her endeavors to make the story as mundane and everyday as possible. They are too busy foaming at the mouth with hatred.

Instead, there is merely a smug assumption that no plot equals incompetence or metaphysical forgetfulness, as if the author merely “forgot” to include one in his/her eternally befuddled manner, the silly and stupid befuddled manner which critics frequently assume writers must all posses by nature of seeking the approval of magazines which advertise for phone sex lines.

If these critics had not had their eyes cursed by the sight of such a “boring” and “plotless” work, or better yet been gifted with a better writer to formulate said work, surely then, a plot would have manifested, since as we all know, a lack of plot can by no means be included as part of the overall experience of the work—such a thing is not humanly possible or imaginable.

In between advocating the abortion known as modern art and taking a defibrillator to reactionary art movements such as Surrealism and Cubism (both of which plotted a decades-long coup d’état against Realism for being too proletarian), our young critics managed to skip a generation and “no plot” became a synonym for “bad” in precisely 100% of known cases of the phrase appearing.

The Japanese mastered the “slice of life” story, so did the Irish, but we Americans refused because of these chattering parrots of the free press who were too busy labeling art that the masses do not care for as “abstract” and abducting it for the urban students and petty-bourgeoisie. Realism is too “dirty,” too “low class and depressing” and too “everyday” for the petty-bourgeoisie, after all. So is the “slice of life,” albeit in the opposite form, being described as “too boring” and (irony of all ironies coming from students and petty-bourgeoisie) “self-indulgent!”

Apparently, this is meant to be a criticism of writers.

J.D. Salinger comes to mind as the “original” man who wrote a book with no plot—“Catcher in the Rye”—although that book still has too far much plot for your author’s tastes. For once, the critical reception was good for the work, although his later works such as “Franny and Zooey” were met with public outrage.

An example of this American disdain for story-less stories is The Wall Street Journal’s article by Adam Kirsch, which claims that Salinger’s later work seemed “to become not a way of exploring reality, but a substitute for it” and even worse “more like the gratuitous, self-delighting detail children use when inventing fantasy worlds.”

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703389004575033192658885922.html?mod=WSJ_Books_LS_Books_5

This is an odd accusation. If Kirsch finds the less-than-heavily-plotted works of Salinger so objectionable, wouldn’t it be a positive turn in his opinion to have him “invent fantasy worlds?” The natural conclusion of this statement is that invention of a world, otherwise known as writing [!] is shallow imitation.

In other words, Kirsch finds imagination to be intolerable and more than that, impossible, and therefore declares war on those on daring to create it—quite a sad and stuffy conclusion. I can only guess that Kirsch’s own life is not filled with imagination or “self-indulgence” and has a definite scope and shape (plot), so he doesn’t desire to be bothered by directionless stories, else I risk accusing Kirsch of having a postmodern existential crisis in the process of his reading (dear lord, would I do that?!).

Since that surely cannot be the case, on the flip side maybe his life is filled with universe-destroying adventures that make his life less “self-indulgent.” He is more than free to write an autobiography that might not be as “gratuitous” as Salinger’s work, although in reality he would be hard-pressed to finish a product not identical to Salinger’s, at least if he is honest.

The real source of this is that “slice of life” is fresh and enchanting with no sense of duty, and views life the way a child might, for lack of a better phrase; precisely what they actually find objectionable. Randomness and rambling musings—the sheer effrontery boggles the mind. The idea of the everyday as marvelous is threatening to reactionaries. Unable to shake off some onion layers, I reckon.

Grover Furr on the Solidarność Counterrevolution in Poland.

Solidarność, in English “Solidarity,” was a reactionary Polish organization that led the counterrevolution against the revisionist government of Poland. Here is Grover Furr’s excellent, well-cited and and concise work on the organization.

(Originally published in Comment [Montclair State College, NJ], vol. 1, nos. 2 (Spring, 1982), pp. 31-34.

View the PDF here.

The AFT, the CIA, and Solidarność

by Grover C. Furr
English Department, Montclair State College

In its issue of Sept. 29, 1981, the Wall Street Journal, not noted for being “pro-labor,” published an interesting editorial in favor of the Polish Solidarność (Solidarity) union. The WSJ attacked those forces that, it said, questioned the connection between the AFL-CIO and Solidarity. It showed particular irritation over claims that, through the AFL-CIO, the U. S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as undertaking to manipulate Solidarity:

How easy it is to make lists of the CIA connections [with the AFL-CIO]; the parallel aims, the instances of collaboration, the communications and shared acquaintanceships. How easy to use the list to try to discredit the AFL-CIO enterprise in Poland, and more important, to try to expunge the colossal embarrassment Solidarity represents to worldwide communism.

The WSJ editorial does not, interestingly, deny the AFL-CIO/CIA /Solidarity connection at all. Rather, it warns that any publicity given this connection tends to “tarnish” or “delegitimitize” Solidarity and the AFL-CIO, and so to play into the hands of the Soviet Union. Correct, no doubt; and Counterspy magazine, the one singled out for special criticism by the WSJ editorial, is ideologically allied with the Soviets, frequently publishing articles by members of the Communist Party USA. But, what is the truth of these charges?

Continue reading

Nepal’s Maoists: Surrender is “Undogmatic”

CHITWAN, Nepal — In a major step forward in Nepal’s tortured peace process, Maoist political leaders on Saturday formally relinquished control of their 19,000-member army to a special governmental committee.

At a ceremony held about 110 miles from the capital, Katmandu, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a statement with the country’s caretaker interim prime minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal. Then the prime minister raised the national flag over a gathering of former Maoist fighters.

“It is a positive development,” said Samuel Tamrat, a senior United Nations official. “It shows the parties are keen to move forward and take responsibility.”

The unresolved status of the Maoist combatants had been a constant concern since Maoist leaders signed an agreement in 2006 ending their decade-old guerrilla war and allowing the Maoists to form a political party that would participate in writing a new constitution.

But Maoist leaders and Nepal’s other political parties bickered for almost five years over how to reintegrate the fighters, essentially leaving the Maoist army intact and outside the government’s authority.

Their presence has deadlocked the broader effort to write the new constitution. And for the past six months, Nepal has had a caretaker government as the parties have been unable to agree on a prime minister. Even with the handover complete, the terms of how the fighters will be returned to society or blended into security forces are still being negotiated. The government has a deadline to finish that work, choose a new prime minister and complete a constitution by the end of May.

“I want the integration and rehabilitation of all the Maoist combatants to happen as soon as possible,” said one of the fighters, Sarjan Bk, 27. “We have been staying here for more than four years.”

Kiran Chapagain reported from Chitwan, and Jim Yardley from New Delhi.

Thoughts on the DPRK

It is a well-known fact that there has not been any famine in North Korea since 1997, and that the famine that did exist was mostly the result of serious natural disasters and leftover destruction from the Korean War, not mismanagement. The videos repeatedly shown today as starving North Koreans are all from pre-1997. The US invaded North Korea on June 25, 1950 to consume it in the Syngman Rhee dictatorship that ruled in the South. In 1949 alone, there were 2,913 such incidents, some with thousands of troops. Finally, the North responded with a full invasion of the South. This is what the US government means when it says the North “started the war.”

Why is Revisionism the Enemy?

Recently a group of revisionists tried to liquidate your author’s arguments and activism by bringing up his past history of being in a variety of revisionist parties and over time changing his ideology. It is precisely because I was a member of these revisionist groups that I see revisionism for what it is. I was personally shown the ropes. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t buy Trotskyism or Maoism, I couldn’t follow the liberal line, and eventually saw they were all hot air and no substance.

The propagation of revisionist theories is the advocacy of bringing knives to a gunfight. It revises fundamental principles of the theory and advocates for our slaughter. Liberalized “anti-dogmatism” in the vein of the Kasamaites, Titoites, Brezhnevites and Maoists doesn’t have the strength to stop an international genocide. The reason we have to combat revisionism is for the success of revolution, and the reason we must succeed is to stop what can only be described as a genocide.

All one has to do is think of one case of suffering, and then try to imagine it multiplied exponentially. The utter depravity of what world capitalism brings about is enough to make one physically sick. Revisionists advocate peaceful co-existance and collaboration with the forces responsible for this state of affairs. This is the hallmark of all revisionists from Tito to Kautsky to Kasama Project.

The Quest for “Authenticity” in Art

“Authenticity” as preached by today’s critics is an idealist concept. The concept of “art” is an era of mechanical, industrial production frequently comes under fire by critics, who insist that the “passion” and “talent” of the art of old is all but lost on today’s youth culture, that Shakespeare is somehow more worthy of praise than modern writers, that the Rolling Stones had more “depth” and “character” than modern bands. While this notion may in some ways be right, it is wrong about quite a few of its major accounts.

The critics’ reactions to changes in the production of art-such as the fact that Van Gogh’s starry night piece now adorns many bedrooms throughout the US-are quite typical of intellectuals seeking the “real” in all things art-related. It makes me wonder how these same intellectuals feel about their books and essays being continuously reproduced, cited and read the world over due to the means of production-the publishing company-upon which they are dependant. Does that fact undermine their work’s “realness?” Does the mechanically reproduced plethora of copies diminish the “aura” of an original work of art, or do they increase it? Familiarity with copies of a painting will enhance response to the original when it is finally encountered. The work’s uniqueness is emphasized by reproduction. The only way this does not happen is if some of the original work’s revolutionary fervor is watered down by the other, copying works, in which case it is not the original work at all.

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Modernism

The word “modernism” is intentionally ambiguous, and perhaps without realizing it is a fitting term for such a literary movement. In the most common usage it refers to the twentieth-century movement that began with the concept of the “modern” (obviously, since without this word how could one have modern-ism?) and ended up being a collection of authors and works characterized by efforts by the individual character and author to remold and reshape reality while reflecting its social ills. This is quite a simplistic analysis of an entire movement, but I will go into greater detail below.

Modernism took elements from realist literature in that it sought to realistically portray the growing social isolation and alienation of individuals caused by industrial capitalism. Characters are almost always withdrawn, and the entirety of the work contains a bitter cynicism bordering on absolute nihilistic despair. The main geographic sites for this movement were England and America post-Industrial Revolution, blooming during the periods between World War I and World War II, the main places where this system had taken hold. These first few decades of the new century begin with writers such as Joyce, Eliot, Pound D.H. Lawrence, who all stepped forward onto the literary scene by creating texts that were called highly experimental on content rather than merely form. This is the movement we now call “modernism,” though I don’t mean to use it in a reductive sense to imply that outside of these few head writers there exist no modernist movement.

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A Nice Cup of Coffee

[An article I wrote on Dec. 22, 2009]

If one looks up volumes written on the subject of coffee, most likely they will take the form of table books or cookbooks with very little instruction, aside from a few attractive pictures of the drink, and perhaps some rudimentary tours of its various flavors, coupled with only a very few frustrating teasers of tips on how to make it. It is difficult to find any detailed exploration of coffee. In addition, aside from books totally centered on the subject, even the best breakfast books contain no explanation of the flavors of various types of coffee, nor do they explain the exact difference between espresso and cappuccino, brewed coffee or French press, or what are the costs and benefits of a Turkish grind.

This is very odd, seeing as how not only has coffee been one of the foundations of global civilization and trade as we know it, but also given the fact that the method of making coffee is the center of many disputes.

In Europe and America it has only a few hundred years of history, contrasted with hundreds of thousands in Africa, and yet as a worldwide commodity coffee is on the level of cereal grains and crude oil. Most of the modern workforce cannot start the day unless they have a cup of coffee. Indonesian students rise in the wee hours to have breakfast consisting of boiled bananas and coffee even from the age of eight. The coffee industry currently employs millions. All this, and yet finding information about it is still a matter of trial and error. When looking through my head for the recipe for my perfect cup of coffee, I find many points which I have had to acquire myself over years of consumption.

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Crisis & Capital In Wuthering Heights

The majority of Victorian literature is the product of the petty-bourgeois class, and Wuthering Heights is no different. The tumultuous ideological storms contained within demonstrate a crisis in the ideology of the 19th century Victorian petty-bourgeois class to which Emily Bronte was born. Frequently, novelists and intellectuals have a reflective role to play at a point of history where a crisis has impacted the prevailing base and has thereby begun the upward quake to the very spires of the ideological superstructure. The crises in the areas of estate, racial tensions and the family unit are all explored, but more than anything else, Wuthering Heights marks the crisis of individuality versus custom, since the contradiction between the social expectations of class privilege and the selfhood advocated by the rising neo-liberal capitalist system is the very essence of Victorian bourgeois consciousness.

From the start, Bronte seems more interested in showing the reader a world that is beset by the same conflicts as her own rather than an escapist daydream. Terry Eagleton says that “Wuthering Heights is […] an apparently timeless, highly integrated, mysteriously autonomous symbolic universe” (1), which utterly defies the prevailing methodology of fiction literature to remove the reader from the discord of his existence. Most fiction novels come close to portraying what we would call “myths,” that is, the illusory resolutions of real contradictions within society for the purpose of the story in such a way as to validate ideology and the societal status quo. Although it is inherent to fairy tales and children’s stories that the hermetically-sealed bubble of this world never be burst, oftentimes with adult novels this purpose is stricken by strains in achieving its “proper” ideological closure. Indeed, the novel itself loyally reproduces the various disasters assaulting Europe, manifested in individual characters.

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Content is Chief, Form is Chaff?

The form of a poem or story (as opposed to its content) is not merely ornamental or window-dressing, nor is it merely “fleshing out” the content. It has its own life within the text, and forms as simple as the note arrangements of classical music or the rhyming pattern (or lack thereof) of a piece of poetry can better expose the need that the production of the work fills. Take-for a ready example-the lines of the Devil in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. When Satan speaks, the parameters of the rhyming schemes seem to melt away, replaced by whatever the character seems to want to say instead of what the syllable count allows. The flow of the poem is thus disrupted greatly by his presence. He ends every line with a violent or intense word, appropriately as he speaks of “dripping poison” into other’s lives to make up for his own bitterness at his inability to experience “sweet interchange.” In this way, the formlessness of those verses showcase the character’s desire for chaos and destruction, in this case of the poem structure, and his intense hatred for all things orderly and peaceful with the enjambment of each line.

The Concept of the “Other” in Kim

Kipling seems to fancy himself as the first Eric Schlosser. In his story Kim, the presence of the concept of the “other” is scarce, even nonexistent, to the point of a noticeable, glaring omission. British, Indian and Tibetan cultures have minor contradictions with each other, but none is presented as particularly “domineering” over one another even within the context of colonial relations. No one is demonized; no one is more advanced or nobler than the other. Whatever ideologies might justify it, there is no particularly sharp mention of the destruction of previous forms of social organization (symbolized by characters such as the Lama), which seem merely dizzied rather than lost. Without realizing it himself, since this is the nature of ideology to fill the gaps and to consist on what the text hides, Kipling has constructed here a highly differentiated examination of pre-globalization before such a term existed. One cannot separate the full explanation of imperialism from late nineteenth-century colonialism and the necessary spread of capitalist production that comes from those particular stages. Such a spread, such as that from Britain to India, is globalizing, and imperialism has the ability to hide cultural and ethnic conflicts as much as it has the power to aggravate them for monetary and political gain. This is what we see a slice of in Kim.

William Blake’s “Nurse’s Songs”

In order to grasp their meanings, the two versions of the “Nurse’s Song” in both William Blake’s the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience are to be read not through what they show literally, nor even what they appear to mean (the obvious “red herring” interpretation), but rather what they hide. At their joined ideological base, both works reveal a stunning critique of the bourgeois and feudal culture. Ultimately Blake resists the dominant ideology, first by opposing it, albeit unintentionally, then by strongly affirming it in a satirical manner. All of this is accomplished through the actions and the shifts in perspective of the unnamed nurse character, which in the end reveal the true purpose of the two works.

Much like the two volumes in which they are contained, the two “Nurse’s Songs” seem at first to be examinations of human development and mental stages of life. The poem features children at play in the hills while their elder nurse watches over them. Eventually she bids them to come back inside when the daylight begins to die. The youths, of course, then plead for the right to stay out for as long as the smallest amount of light exists. Immediately, a few subtleties jump out at the reader.

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