by Gilles d'Aymery
"Party is the madness of many for the gain of a few."
—Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects, 1711
(Swans - July 16, 2007) THE KUCINICH CONUNDRUM: The other day, I visited Dennis Kucinich's 2008 Web site. The Webmaster had posted an appeal to the Kucinichphiles to go on MoveOn.Org -- a Clintonian-DLC operation par excellence -- and sign up for a "Virtual Town Hall meeting on the Climate Crisis tonight, July 7, in conjunction with the Live Earth concerts." In other words, the Kucinich gang is going green through MoveOn.org and Al Gore's latest corporate extravaganza. It reminded me of the 2004 campaign when Kucinich ended up delivering his delegates to John Kerry. I wonder whether consciously or not the Kucinich campaign is geared toward keeping dissenters in line to ultimately feed their votes to the eventual Democratic nominee. The sadness here is that so many youngsters, who volunteer their time with much idealism, buy into the scheme unconsciously. There is no due consideration to the damage Kucinich creates time and again for the genuine dissenters. In the backrooms, where the corporate board members operate and the dictates are issued, Kucinich must be seen as a godsend. He is a political veterinarian, specializing in neutering the opposition and delivering his followers to the big boys and gals.
DON'T MISCONSTRUE my opinion though. Much of Kucinich's positions are laudable. Were it not for his exasperating new millennium religiosity that he wears high on his sleeves and his Paul Ray-like (of Cultural Creatives fame) oratory, I could even like the man -- and you do not have to be fond of a candidate to support his platform anyway. It's the issues that count, not whether the chap is charismatic and likable. Actually, thinking of charisma, I wholeheartedly support Ralph Nader, who's not particularly famous for his magnetism! So, undoubtedly, religiosity and pomposity aside, I could easily support Kucinich's campaign. He's correct on many issues. Furthermore, I'd much rather see him elected the next president of the USA than Hillary, Barack, or John, et al., (with the exception of Mike Gravel and, of course, Ralph Nader). So, if he publicly pledges that should he lose the nomination of the Democratic Party he will release his delegates from voting for the nominee, let his supporters vote according to their conscience, and do not campaign for the pro-war candidate I'll be glad to back his campaign; but, to this day, he has refused to do so. In other words, he puts party before policies, hence losing his independence, and ending up working against the very principles he upholds. I find it hard to support him under such conditions.
IT MUST BE EMPHASIZED that the Democratic front-runners take the constituencies Kucinich represents for granted. The Democratic strategists have long figured out that the Kucinichphiles have nowhere to go but back to the big tent. Hence they exert no influence on the direction taken by the party, which has been moving further to the right for at least the past 30 years. On voting day these constituencies walk to the polls, a clothespin firmly clasped on their noses, and vote for a pro-war, pro-corporate, and anti-worker candidate in the name of lesser-evilism. So long as the party does not feel a real threat -- the risk of watching these voters stay home or preferably defect to a third party -- the game will remain rigged, as the recent little exchange between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton amply demonstrated. Accordingly, Kucinich should not pledge his constituencies to whichever right-wing Democrat is nominated. Policy positions, political convictions, and principles are more important than party affiliation.
GO ONE STEP FURTHER. The Democratic Party will nominate its candidate by February or March of 2008. It will leave Kucinich plenty of time to take his supporters with him and run as a third-party candidate or join a third-party ticket. After all, if the corporate candidates can strategize among themselves at his expense, he too ought to strategize at their expense. Enough lesser evil. We have higher expectations. We want the real thing.
BACK TO GORE AND THE LIVE EARTH CONCERTS -- or blips on the radar screen: Eight cities around the world held a live concert to save the world from global warming. Hamburg, Johannesburg, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Shanghai, and Tokyo were sites of a big, though short, buzz for the future of the earth -- that is, the future of the human species, which is all we really care about. Fat Al Gore was the initiator. He launched the extravaganza with a seven-step pledge. As an exemplary American, he began with his country and went on to advance "free market," corporate-driven solutions. Here is an example of his undertaking: "I pledge to demand that my country join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth. I pledge to take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution and offsetting the rest to become carbon neutral. I pledge to fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without safely trapping and storing the CO2." Gore kept pledging all the way to his bank account.
CONCERTS DO SAVE THE WORLD, don't they? If memory serves, the first one took place in the 1980s. "We are the world," sang the stars of that time. I don't remember what the show was all about...except that the Coca Cola Company sponsored it. Great song though... Since then, we've had concerts by Bono and other luminaries to feed the poor and eradicate AIDS in Africa. Have you, dear readers, taken the time to find out about the present situation in sub-Sahara Africa? Simply put, if the 1980s befell a basket case, then the 2000s have become a hell hole. Check the CIA World Factbook at your own leisure. Try to ignore the ideological bias and look at the facts. Start with Zimbabwe: a country that has suffered economic sanctions, governmental mismanagement and, more importantly, years of drought. (Humanitarians beware: In comparison to Zimbabwe's displaced people, Darfur looks like the Garden of Eden...) Then browse through the bordering countries, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana (viewed as a "success" by the CIA folks). Have a few more minutes? Check the entire African continent, especially the oil-producing countries like Nigeria. Check the stats carefully and ponder the usefulness of the feel-good concerts in the First World. If "we are the world," what does it say? Just ponder.
SO, AL GORE came up with the same concert gimmick to promote "awareness" in regard to the environment. Seems to me that in light of the musical brouhaha in the name of African poor-beings that has resulted to naught, it is safe to predict that Al Gore's scheme will match the former exercises. A few people will enrich themselves in the meantime; the famine-stricken many will keep dying.
TOTALLY IRREVERENT BUT RELEVANT QUESTION: Will Al Gore ever decide to live in a 2,000 square-foot house? Want to change the paradigm? Consume less. Share more. Anything you do not understand in those last two clauses? Oh, and don't forget to visit Live Earth to buy T-Shirts or carbon offsets. All proceeds go to Humanity!
A READER WRITES: "You should check your dictionary. The word you coined, studentry, does not exist. You should have used student body instead." Well, dear reader, co-editor Jan Baughman raised that issue too. However, like Mr. Bush, I answer to a higher authority, in this case the Third Edition of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (1979). In White's introduction, page XV,
[William Strunk] had a number of like and dislikes that were as whimsical as the choice of a necktie, yet he made them seem utterly convincing. He disliked the word forceful and advised us to use forcible instead. He felt that the word clever was greatly overused: "It is best restricted to ingenuity displayed in small matters." He despised the expression student body, which he termed gruesome, and made a special trip downtown to the Alumni News office one day to protest the expression and suggest that studentry be substituted -- a coinage of his own, which he felt was similar to citizenry. I am told that the News editor was so charmed by the visit, if not by the word, that he ordered the student body buried, never to rise again. Studentry has taken its place. It's not much of an improvement, but he does sound less cadaverous, and it made Will Strunk quite happy.
HENCE, I did not coin the word -- and you can corroborate the above citation: The full text is posted on line at orwell.ru/library/others/style/e/ein_01.htm. Here's a little secret. Whereas Mr. Bush is reportedly keeping a copy of the bible on his nightstand, so do I; but mine is a copy of The Elements of Style, not that bogus, brain-washing book filled with blood-wrenching and punishing tales of salvation. I also keep a copy in that little room where even kings and VIPs are left alone, and once a day, I read a few paragraphs in the august position I hold on the famed throne. I'm refreshing myself top and bottom, in one way and out the other! Wished all contributors and letter writers used that little book to their benefit. They would not need our Guidelines (which are poorly followed anyway...).
KEEPING YOUNG AND KICKING: Phil Greenspan writes:
Hi Gilles and Jan,
Thanks to the warm weather a couple of our activist friends have planned parties so that we can socialize and enjoy the outdoors. Last week we attended the first. Its theme was Cuba and since it was an ideal day the event took place on beautiful grounds that overlooked the Hudson River in the background. Yesterday was the second -- a small potluck affair attended by several close friends of the hostess. The background again was The Hudson, but this time from the west side of the river on an out-door porch high up on a mountain. Next Saturday it will be a cookout for our members of our weekly antiwar vigils that our host sets up every year.
I don't know the age of our host and hostess who gave the first party, but I presume they are well into their eighties. Yesterday's hostess is 93. And next week's host is 92. Maybe activism tends to keep one alive and kicking!
Kindest regards from Fran and Phil.
IT'S THIS KIND OF MESSAGE, filled with optimism, and the regular contributions of the older folks I look up to time and again, that help me keep going with Swans in spite of deep anxieties about a work I do that too often looks like a dead end. Many thanks to all.
. . . . .
Ç'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can.the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.