(February 27, 2012)
[Please include your first and last names, and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]
The Demise of the Eurozone and Europe
To the Editor:
While agreeing with Darrell Johnson (Swans Letters to the Editor, Feb. 13) that Europe is in one hell of a mess, it is much worse than insular to suggest that the USA or any other country should simply ignore that situation. It is a significant outcome of the crisis of capitalism, a global phenomenon that affects us all. I expect Mr. Johnson considers himself to be a progressive, otherwise he would not read Swans, but to state that Germany (that is, their right-wing government) has the right policy is anything but progressive or shows little knowledge of the European Union project (a Union of Capital I called it, Swans, Nov. 29, 2010). The dominance of Germany in Europe is export driven and depends a lot on the grip they have kept on workers wages, helped by the collaboration of workers' "leaders" pretending they are properly consulted by capitalist managements (and incidentally fooling some leftists in other countries into admiring them). If you wish to have some hard data on stagnation of wages in Germany for the last decade it is available -- e.g., Ian Bruff, "The Stability of Obsession," Red Pepper, Feb/March 2012). This is often excused as fear of inflation and memories of the 1920s, but, of course, it is in the interest of capitalists and the corporate media always to blame inflation on workers demanding better wages.
Cambridge, England, UK - February 13, 2012
[ed. Mr. Johnson is a hard-core libertarian who does happen to read Swans Commentary.]
Fabulous Book: Jonah Raskin's Jack London In Black And White
To the Editor:
I was pleased to read Jonah Raskin's review of Jack London's photographs, which I much appreciated. It is a fabulous book which I read as part of my research in preparing an audio book recording of The Cruise of the Snark. The crispness of the images is outstanding and certainly serves as a portrait of the world at that time. Thanks for the review. I also appreciate Sonoma State. When we were touring colleges for my son, we toured Sonoma and liked it very much, particularly the names of the dorms. I have a picture of my son and me at Wolf House.
PS: If he'd like to hear a few samples of the final audio book, it is on line at Listen2read.com and can be cheaply downloaded at Audible.com, or if he'd like a free CD copy for any further research he is doing just drop me a note at AS@listen2read.com.
Los Angeles, California, USA - February 13, 2012
[ed. According to listen2read.com, Andre Stojka "has been a major voice over actor for over 30 years. His voice is heard in motion pictures, television, radio, videos, commercials and recorded books."]
Voting Affirmatively: Manuel García's Voting For Ron Paul Is Stupid For Leftists
To the Editor:
I agree about affirmative voting as the answer. I once blogged thus: If we all began to vote for what we wanted, regardless of whether we thought we would get it any time soon, we would soon begin to get some of it. The first election, we would put the fear of God, the Deity being in this case the electorate, into the politicians. By the second election the parties would be in full realignment mode, trying to figure out how to look like they cared what we thought, without of course changing the system in any important ways. So what about the third election? If we did this three times in a row, we would own the system the way the right wing of the Republican Party owns it now, and we'd be more likely to hold it because there are more of us. The Populists tried this route in the late nineteenth century and nearly succeeded, but they couldn't maintain the push quite long enough, or put another way, the opposition succeeded in blunting the attack slightly before the attack became irresistible. What's the difference now? In human terms, the main difference is clearer recognition based on one more century's experience. In other terms, we have better tools. How are you reading this? How quickly could you pass it on if you chose to? The issue in sum is that the American populace would have to keep an idea in mind for 49 months, which seems likely to require dire necessity.
Thanks for the continuing viewpoints and wisdom!
San Francisco, California, USA - February 13, 2012
Ignoring the Limitations of the US Presidency: Manuel García's Voting For Ron Paul Is Stupid For Leftists
To the Editor:
I read Manuel García, Jr.'s opinion piece. It was mostly well reasoned, but he is wrong about what Ron Paul could do as president and he overlooked what most libertarians consider the core argument of libertarianism. Rick Santorum actually addressed the issue of whether Ron Paul could be an effective president in the debates. He came to the opposite conclusion of Manuel García. He said the only thing Ron Paul can do as president is draw down the military and bring the troops home -- all the rest of his agenda could be overruled by Congress. He could also prevent Medical Marijuana prosecutions. Santorum pointed out this is exactly the outcome desired by the left. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLdF7hFhkcA
The other issue is that most libertarians consider the core principle to be not to initiate the use of physical force against another person. Force should only be used in defense of person or property. The greater well being through lower taxation and more self-sufficiency is an important argument, but it is only half.
Singapore (Chicago native) - February 13, 2012
Acknowledging Real Heroes: Gilles d'Aymery's Martin Murie (1925-2012)
To the Editor:
That was a moving tribute for Mr. Martin Murie. My first exposure to Mr. Murie's passion for nature was in June of 2009, when, as a result of inter-contributor polemics on the subject of nature and war, I happened to read his articles: Empires Always Die, Murder From Above, The Great Chasm, and others, and submitted my own The Innate Nature of War. He had relentlessly espoused peace, and the preservation of our natural heritage, and lived that life. Mr. Murie lived the life I had dreamed of, his ideals were found in his actions, which is a rarity these days. People talk a good game, but live something else... but Mr. Murie said and lived the same. That is quite an accomplishment. This man was our hero... and, how is it that we always realize who our heroes and benefactors are, well after they have departed?
Des Plaines, Illinois, USA - February 14, 2012
The Inherent Value of Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Lily Clark's letter to the editor in Swans of Feb. 13 argues that letters are passé. In fact she proves their value. For here I am, after thinking about hers for a couple of days, answering it. If I'd read her comment on a blog, I'd have fired off a two-line rejoinder, with a flat wisecrack, probably offensive, and signed off with some unfunny pseudonym. For the rest of the day I'd regret having wasted my time, not really said anything, and pitying the one or two innocent words I'd mutilated.
"Interaction" is the buzzword of the moment. The sleazier as well as more decent commercial interests have taken it up as the latest "breakthrough." But the exchange between writer and reader is as old as print. The only difference is that it used to start in the reader's head. He would consider awhile whether his reaction was valid and only then write it down. Nothing could be farther from most on-line comment, which recalls teenagers in their first car speeding down Main Street shouting naughty words at pedestrians.
Specialized blogs and more serious on-line periodicals can evoke enlightened comment and useful information. Too often, however, it gets lost amid triviality, the grunts and groans of "self-expression," and the "participation" of the "nothing-to-say-but-I'm-saying-it" rabble. To call that democracy demonstrates just how dumbed down we have become.
Ms. Clark promises that life is infused in a "site" by comments that are "anonymous, poorly spelled, aggressive, and mostly stupid." She's right, but it's the life of a freak show or a rumble in a bar late Saturday night. To my mind, Swans' ambition isn't to be a dispenser of that kind of excitement. It wants to be a vehicle for good, non-commodified writing that to be excited by demands more than a split second's thought. To saddle Swans with the snake oil salesman's dilemma of "livelihood or purity" is a sad reflection on how Ms. Clark's society has impoverished her view of life's possibilities.
Lecce, Italy - February 14, 2012
We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, enter in the subject line of your e-mail "letter to the editor," and specify the article or the subject you are commenting on at the beginning of your e-mail. Also, ***PLEASE,*** sign your e-mail with your name ***AND*** add your city, state, country, address, and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. Send your comments to the Editor. (Letters may be shortened and edited.)