(December 13, 2004)
Resistance and Dissent
To the Editor:
I am writing your E mag one more time to encourage you and all who see the danger, and oppression, both subtle and not so subtle, of our government to keep writing and stirring the pot of dissent, as we must bring this administration's rape of our rights, the butchering of human beings with weapons so inhumane, you wonder who or what these people are, to a stop. I'll answer my own statement, it is probable that they used napalm in Iraq, that they use depleted uranium, with serious consequences for all exposed, that they have killed a million plus with sanctions, a possible 100,000 during the present abomination tells us exactly what and who these people are, anathema. Here in America, as farfetched as it might seem to some, the comparison to Nazi Germany, and other forms of totalitarian governance is inescapable. We don't necessarily notice the slow abrogation of our rights, the dismantling of all that is positive in our infrastructure, so we can pay for war and dominance in the world. Our government is too ignorant, provincial, and xenophobic to be a student of history, where, if they were but to look, would find that any country or government attempting to control the world militarily or economically, has failed, utterly, and brought about their own destruction, every time. Their mindlessness is frightening, and very, very dangerous and they must be stopped.
Keep up the pressure, an oxymoron at this point, we are like an ant trying to fuck an elephant, maybe not quite the correct use of the word but you get the point. There are millions, sitting on the fence, with vague feelings of unease, who will follow with a little nudge, correct information, truth, maybe an occasional hammer on the head. We can insert our view in the mainstream, one way or another, we can and must fight the likes of Rupert Murdoch's, and others', stranglehold on media. One way to fight is to use the government's disastrous policies against them, i.e., they are going about hoisting their very selves on numerous petards that their spin cannot twirl away, their negative actions can and should be used against them, as often as, and intensely as it is possible to do, in any venue available. I might add for those who think a change in party would be efficacious, don't fool yourselves, what I am talking about is endemic, the two party system is terminal and must be revamped to the point that it truly represents a totally free society, where 2% of the people do not control 95% of its wealth, where decisions to go to war are not made by a few dried up soulless men, with no physical risk to their person, at the expense of great danger, and death to thousands of young men and women.
This is possible to do, the wave of revulsion can turn into a tsunami of resistance and change, we can, and must prevail. Ad hoc publicity campaigns, guerrilla information dissemination, circumvention of normal protocol, we don't need to disobey laws we can operate around their rules of law guerrilla style, use their propaganda to our advantage.
For the first time in a while I have some small hope, that this is possible, and your E mag is a part of that possibility.
Bend, Oregon, USA - December 9, 2004
John Steppling's Review of Swans' November 29 Edition
To the Editor:
Milo Clark does a cool cogent take on Pentagon-speak -- via Tom Barnett's new book. The functioning core and non-integrating gap reminds me of Rosa Luxembourg's formula for center and periphery...though I doubt Barnett was thinking much of Rosa. I have only a small nit to pick here...and that is about democratizing Iraq, which Milo says was the right idea, but wrong execution. Uh...well, it might be worth taking a moment to reflect on what one means by democratize. What do we mean by "democracy?" In a class based society? In a country one is invading? Bourgeois democracy exported like cigarettes to a Muslim nation where we propped up a dictator for twelve years? This word has lost all meaning, and it seems we are all guilty of tossing it around pretty carelessly. Now I know Milo knows all this, was mostly using this gambit as part of a pretty funny piece on the Pentagon style thought process. Still, it seems a worthy question to ask. What is democracy anyway? (See Brian Cloughley's article.)
Phil Rockstroh's uncanny sense of the moment finds Thelonious Monk a good tonic for the brain-searing psychosis of the Holiday season. Monk is one of America's real geniuses, a composer and player so weird almost nobody knew how to play with him (except Charlie Rouse, and he couldn't play with anyone else). I always forget Monk myself, probably for the reasons a lot of jazz aficionados do, and that's because he's just too difficult. Maybe difficult is the wrong word, maybe clear, yeah, too clear. Not L. Ron Hubbard clear, but Blaise Pascal clear, or Eakins clear, or Bach clear. It's hard to write about clear, I think. Monk is the counter intuitive expression of pure alienation. The strange anti-mystical mystic who created his own vocabulary for piano, Monk is also, for me anyway, quintessentially American. He is the hip version of Charles Ives (not that Ives wasn't hip, and Ives also had my favorite critique of Mozart...."too effeminate") or the jazz version of Grandma Moses. Phil also reaches for some Ornette and some Trane. Yeah, that was a great era for jazz. What happened? Maybe when it started getting taught in universities, it all went pear-shaped, I don't know. Certainly mainstream white America took a hold of chunks of it and tried to render it non-revolutionary. Maybe they succeeded more than I want to believe.
Charles Marowitz has a take on what war does to those young people who must fight it. Interesting that this topic is so infrequently addressed. Refuse to educate the young (at least the poor young) and then ship them off to fight colonial wars, and then bring them back even more de-socialized and adrenaline addicted. The American obsession with violence, especially from a distance or on TV, is so total at this point that I fear the coming generations may simply lack all ability for compassion and empathy. Marowitz looks at the hidden psychic wounds that may well come to haunt the soldier's home country. My only question is about what Charles calls moral wars, which he cites as 1861 and 1941. This is probably too big a question for this review, but I would argue -- let's take 1941 -- that an awful lot of sidebar issues get put away when we refer to WWII as moral and just. Wars are fought for profit in almost all cases...and sometimes that coincides with beating off fascists...but one better examine from whence those fascists came and how and with whose help. Still, this is a very solid and useful piece of writing.
Our fearless leader has a fine blips rant in this issue. Yeah, Salinas closes its last public library. In Los Angeles, my old hometown, they just closed the King/Drew trauma center, in south central L.A., the poorest area in the city. No books, no medical help, the great Empire lurches on. And thanks to Gilles for pointing, again, to a couple of Clinton bills now helping with the loss of essential rights. I really DO NOT want to hear about Democrats anymore, not Clinton, not Kerry, not Barama, not Hillary, not any of them...because they are just exactly the same as the Republicans -- except for style. They don't have those funny blow-dry haircuts (Bill Frist style...or Gingrich). What is it with Republican hair anyway? To be a good Christian you have to have this weird hair? I actually think this hair speaks of a sexual dysfunction -- I mean I have no proof, you know, but that's my guess.
Jan Baughman's piece on marketing is excellent. I guess in a sense her observations are obvious, or should be. A lot of us write about this stuff again and again, maybe because it's so hard to really believe. Jan, however, compiles the essentials and gets to the core realities of our age of advertising. She also nicely touches on the "Support Our Troops" refrain that seems the fall-back position for both liberals and conservatives alike. The military is now almost totally made up of working class kids who have no other options than joining up...but a blanket bromide of support is the wrong analysis. Support our troops even when they are engaged in a war of Imperialism, even when they shoot civilians and children, even when they use Napalm (now called something else...but essentially it's the same old stuff) and even when they torture their prisoners. Where are some of those who refused to do this stuff? In the brig no doubt... Well, that's who I support, whoever they are. Support all those refuse. (On this, read this Lefthook briefing.)
Manual García's article leaves me in a sort of state of non-functional brain freeze. Any article that starts with "we have to lose a war" is probably going to cause me some form of meltdown. We quickly move on to the mention of tearing down "the wall" (Berlin) which is -- assuming I am following any of this -- really reductive and superficial. The forces at work by the time the wall came down -- make that "the wall" -- had little to do with the theatre of climbing atop said wall and wielding a sledgehammer. I fear García, like so many, has a tendency to buy into the "theatre" of public events. The toppling of Saddam's statue or Jessica Lynch are recent examples of pure theatre. Oh, not to mention the crowds of orange scarf wearing democrats in Kiev (whose leader is the former head of the National Bank of the Ukraine!) who are being helped along with bags of money from George Soros, the NED, et al. I guess it could be I am missing the point. I do that often enough -- although I suspect there is something disjointed in the reasoning of this piece, and I am wondering if maybe there is no point to miss.
In Poland the selling of Christmas is starting earlier than ever. The Krakow Christmas market, in the Rynek (town square) is increasingly for tourists (meaning rich Westerners) and not for average Poles. It's a sad sight, actually. Prices keep going up and fewer and fewer working class Poles bother to come to old town anymore. The snow is gone...it's pretty warm by Polish standards, around 2 deg. C. Boris likes his new home though...he chases ducks on the river but only barks at the passing seminarians. That's my boy!
Krakow, Poland - November 24, 2004
[ed. Steppling is a LA playwright (Rockefeller fellow, NEA recipient, and PEN-West winner) and screenwriter (most recent was Animal Factory directed by Steve Buscemi). He is currently living in Poland where he teaches at the National Film School in Lodz.]
Strategically Styled American World Democracy, as Viewed from Down Under
To the Editor,
For decades the United States has brazenly & systematically intervened in the political affairs of most countries in the world that are at variance with espoused American political & economic agenda. Particular attention being paid to various regions if perchance oil & or mineral deposits can be exploited without exception.
America has created circumstances globally thus for divide & rule, order out of chaos dictate to prosper & proliferate. Military, monetary, scheming, judicial, bribery, corruption, duplicity are instruments of compulsory persuasion. Please refer to: "The Grand Chessboard," by Zbigniew Brzezinski; PNAC document; Patriot Act II; "Sorrows of Empire," by Emeritus Professor Chalmers Johnson.
The US economy is basically totally reliant on success of I-M C thus to maintain promoted vigorous excessive sales & or transfers of weapons etc. to all & sundry friend or foe alike, with credit deals if so required. The superiority of US military authority plus complicity of all Presidents has demonstrably aided imperialistic ideals without question. Political & corporate corruption knows no bounds with added assistance of numerous military contracts now conveniently privatised. Conflict of interest is rife & remains basically unchecked without exception.
With the Presidency of # 43 it is quite apparent that agenda is in escalation mode. Also the recent funding of new nuclear program is rather disturbing information indeed for peace in future times. War & turmoil produce nothing save: massive expense, excessive debt, causalities, death, additional taxes, destruction & abject misery, thus for posterity.
The economy at home is in serious decline & in desperate need of monetary assisted planning however receives little or no positive professional correction. Catastrophic dollar amounts in unfunded future liabilities being somewhat unmentionable. Code orange.
Whilst America attempts further to dominate planet militarily with somewhat declining authority & in particular diminishing moral support. The U.S. burns whilst this psychopathic divinely guided war emperor fiddles with destiny of our planet, fuelled with demonic puissance to martial tune of The New World Order. The terrorists reside within White House, credibility, accountability, morality, patriotism, integrity, truth & honour does not exist.
The demise of the U.S. as a dominant world superpower has commenced forthwith accelerated by presidential incumbent. "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. etc." Marcus T. Cicero.
Sydney, NSW, Australia - December 9, 2004
Music to our ears: Phil Rockstroh's Dying Empire Bebop: The Sedition Of Ecstatic NoveltyTo the Editor:
Someone has finally gotten the message, Phil Rockstroh must have read my thoughts...
I think, personally, that John Coltrane is God in disguise, and Thelonious sits on his right and together with the arc angels of bop they make the heavens sing. I was very stoned the other night listening to John play Stardust and swore I was listening to God.
Those ugly, moral?, gray, dried up people who claim to have spoken with God must surely be mistaken, if they had, what they are doing now would not be possible.
How can one listen to John Coltrane and start a war? I have a feeling they might be from the lower realms of Dante's Inferno, there be no music there, no laughter, no joy, only ugliness and ignorance. Let us send them home where they belong and celebrate all that is beautiful, play on John, Make those 88's sing in dissonance Thelonious.
One other thing, if it is in bad taste to mention being stoned then I am bad taste all over, come and take me away motherfuckers.
Wherever music is I is.
Bend, Oregon, USA - December 1, 2004
Deported for a DUI: Gilles d'Aymery Blips #7To the Editor:
Hello, I need to know some information on where to get help on reinstating a friend of mine who was deported because of DUI. He was a permanent resident of Tucson, AZ, since the age of 1.5 and was deported to Mexico at the age of 38 -- for nothing more than a DUI... Do you have any suggestion on where to start to get someone to hear his case and get him reinstated? He was sent over there not even knowing the language or any immediate family... He had a US social security number, lived and work for 37 years. We need help... Can you help with where and who to plea with?
Mesa, Arizona, USA - December 3, 2004
I love Swans.
Swans brings hope and inspiration at a time when many feel alone, depressed and devastated.
Each month I re-post your web site on all the listservs that I am part of. As you may have experienced, progressive views are not always welcome. However Swans continues to inspire.
Otherwise, as part of an effort to increase the exposure of the Latino left I have put together two small web sites listed below. In that regard I would like your permission to add a link to the Swans website.
Again, thanks for being there.
Ricardo E. Gonsalves, Ed.D.
Harvard University, http://ricardox.com/
Cambridge, Massachussetts, USA - November 29, 2004
How dare we condemn commercialism! See Swans' About PageTo the Editor:
My Name is Dejan N. Grubor and I am a designer from Serbia. I randomly pounced on your Web site and I like the ideas you provide there. :) And then I notice your post: "Swans refuses advertising and condemns the commercialization of the Web," and I was pretty shocked. You shatter my spars of desire to do and believe in such thing as design is. To believe in a needful aspects of design and his revolutionary and missionary strength, with the spirit of renaissance and with nobility sword. Of course that sword is also a killing machine, but just like the other tools, you can use it for a good purpose or for the evil. In the end, if you want to fight with them it is a very wrong way to do such paradox to yourself and leave such a good tool in the hands of those who only knows how to abuse all that. So if you are interested in the words I just said I'd like to give you a gift from me and to build you a Web site with design like I see him to convince you in those my beliefs. Sorry for my ugly English...
Dejan N. Grubor
Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia - November 30, 2004
[ed. No thanks -- we like our simple design as it is. But feel free to send us a gift, or volunteer to help index our articles (see the notice at the bottom of the front page.) BTW, your English is better than many Americans'!]
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