Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On the Passing of Hugo Chavez

On this day, the world has lost one of the giant figures of our time.  Hugo Chavez is a man who wasn't supposed to be in the position he was in.  He wasn't supposed to become the president of Venezuela.  He was an outsider.  He didn't represent the political classes which have dominated politics on the behalf of the oligarchs, the big capitalists.  He didn't view people as they did.  He didn't ask to be entrusted with the presidency of his country so that he could continue down the path that too many have called "democracy".  No, he represented something else, something empowering, something much closer to what people would understand to be true democracy.

For Hugo Chavez, empowering his countrymen, the masses of ignored people, the players in a game run by elites both Venezuelan and foreign, was the beginning of a revolution.  A revolution which was fought in the political arena of the enemies' of true democracy.  Although that arena and its rules were stacked in favor of the elites, it had a fatal flaw.  That flaw was that the desires of the forgotten masses could not be contained forever and their awakening, the election of Chavez became a reality.

I remember watching the news the day of the coup against him.  The news was upsetting.  Flashes of historical leaders being forced from power against the will of the people came to mind and for a little while I thought that the "champions of democracy" had been successful once again at destroying it.  But they weren't.  The Venezuelan people were alert and came out in support of their president and against the corrupt plotters and within a short period of time their democracy was restored.  The people had won again.

Pay attention to the people who so easily label Chavez a "dictator".  Pay attention to who they are.  Take note of the fact that their use of the word "dictator" is as slanderous as their use of the word "democracy".  When these people who attempt to portray the way things are in a way that just doesn't match how they really are, they are either inventing a new language or just plain liars.  Our societies are filled with people like this.

We must understand that these people cannot be trusted.  Leaders of the most advanced nations are most often nothing more than hypocrites.  They are more than willing to deal with real dictators and not only deal with them, but enable them, support them.  The only requisite to be on the good side of the leaders and "champions of democracy" is that one's interests must be aligned with theirs.  One can squash protests, teargas the public, disappear individuals, or even inherit a kingdom and not even recognize even the slightest appearance of a democratic mechanism.  There exist too many excuses why this is the case for us to believe such incoherence.

What is even more inspiring than just the awakening of the Venezuelan people and the multiple elections won by Chavez is that they aren't alone in their awakening.  More "dictators" were elected by the people in country after country in Latin America.  More elites were rejected by the populations that they had suffocated.  Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, all in their own way found ways to use their deformed democratic institutions to do the unlikely.  They have all chosen paths much different, to varying degrees, than the one prescribed by international bankers and multinational corporations.  Many have earned the label "dictator" and given its new meaning are proud of the paths they've chosen.  Much of this may not have happened if it hadn't been for the revolutionary Hugo Chavez.

Revolting means causing revulsion, nauseating, disgust.  Revolting is how the actions of men like Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, Fidel Castro can be described if we take in to consideration the reactions of the spoiled elites who feel as if it is only their right, a right of that arrogant minority, to run the affairs of a nation or the world.  But revolution is itself a liberating feeling to those masses who are carrying out the process of taking a rotten system and replacing it with one based on principles of fairness and justice.

So let those undeserving leaders dripping in hypocrisy and arrogance feel revulsion.  Let the people yearning for justice feel liberated from the ignorance and arrogance.

There is no end of history.  There always is the desire to fight for and feel dignified.  Hugo Chavez passed away because his is human.  But what he embodied was the struggle of a people.  With his passing, it is no doubt a sad day.  But his passing doesn't mean that people will give up their struggle.  He represented not only his people, but all people who strive to create a better world.  He will be missed but what he left behind is a people much greater, much stronger, much more conscious, and much more determined than most elected leaders can claim.

Hugo Chavez, thank you for inspiring a continent and beyond.  Comandante Chavez can rest in peace knowing that millions of people are doing the work that he believed they are capable of.  Hugo Chavez is a true champion of democracy.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Until When?

To the American people of all political stripes.

  When will we realize that we need to get our act together and  recognize what's going on?  Earlier today, I was reading something Albert Einstein wrote decades ago.  I'm sure we can agree that he was no fool.  What he wrote was the following:

"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."

He wrote these words in 1949.  The situation was clear to the genius then and if it wasn't yet clear to most people then, it should be more than clear by now.

Under the guise of "freedom of speech", money has been allowed to enter our political system recently in the most obnoxious way thanks to a group of political appointees who are unchecked by the public and face no consequences of their decisions.  We are left to deal with the consequences of the decisions of the Supreme Court.  Only nature followed by more political appointments can change the make up of this body of "justices".  How discouraging it is to know that those people who make the appointments are only to become even more corrupted by the outrageous amounts of money that got them their jobs.  What a terrible situation we are facing thanks to being distracted and divided by such strange issues.  Until when will we allow this detestable group of liars and wolves in sheeps' clothing to make promises with phrases so carefully worded that they lack the meaning that we hope they contain?

We workers have had our taxes raised and that's after we bailed out a group of capitalists who are responsible for not only the current crisis that we are in, but the conditions leading up to the crisis which left us weaker and worse off with every adventure that they had "our" politicians allow them to embark upon. Adding insult to injury, these capitalist corporations have found ways to avoid paying taxes in many cases, and in some have even gotten tax refunds.  Of course they have found these "loopholes" since they are the ones who influenced the authors of the loopholes, "our" politicians.  The same groups have entered us in to trade deals which send our jobs away in search for cheap labor which in most cases is as unprotected as the laborers in our country a century ago!

We have been bombarded by and conditioned by "news" which mostly comes from giant corporations.  We have been convinced of the sanctity of private property and the wonders of the "free market".  So much so that we've almost forgotten that the "free market" is actually a market which is governed by a set of rules put in place by people we elect and that we do have the right to have people of our choosing decide the rules by which the market can function.  We have either forgotten or been unaware that the oil and natural resources that are extracted often times from public lands leased to the corporations......who get enormous wealth while paying almost nothing for exploiting our commons.  We have squandered our airwaves as we've leased them to media corporations who then sell our air time to advertisers like pharmaceutical companies who benefit from our tax dollars so that they can research drugs to then sell us....wait, they have money to advertise but need money for research?  See what kind of nonsense we accept?

We are not beyond repair, but we have yet to try anything more than placing our hopes in someone with a nice smile, words that sound too good to be true, and excuses for why they can't deliver.  As Einstein suggested, it is extremely difficult to make use of political rights, but if we don't face the fact that those people to who we have ceded political power are not and will not act in our interest, we will continue in our frustration.  We must look for alternatives other than the two parties who are taken for granted as our only viable options.  They have proven not to be viable options and not fit to represent us.  They have proven to be more than willing to represent those forces which are actually detrimental to our nation and society.  We must move beyond the Democrat or Republican debate.  If we don't, we have already seen what is in store for our future.  Degradation of our environment, insufficient wages, an ineffective healthcare system, an uneven under-performing education system, wars which cannot be rationalized, and a parasitic class which loves to complain about "parasites".

With such glaring contradictions between what we have been told to believe and what is actually occurring, there has never been a time so ripe for our discontent to be used in powerful ways to reject the current system and create an alternative together, for the benefit of the masses of people who have been abused and manipulated under the current social relations.