Note from the Editor

Speaking today from Thailand, with whom "we share a belief in democracy and human rights and ethnic and religious tolerance," Mr. Bush posited that "We're threatened by ruthless enemies unlike others we have faced."...."To win the war on terror, we must hunt a scattered and resourceful enemy in dark corners around the world." With enemies lurking around every corner and behind every shadow, we are left with little regard for democracy, human rights and tolerance of any sort and an insatiable appetite for vilification and revenge. Diana Johnstone deconstructs the furor fed by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, among others, over America's enemy du jour: France. It's difficult to fathom the lengths to which we go to maintain an unsettled populace, but as Phil Rockstroh aptly describes, without the enemy, we lack moral clarity and meaning in our incomprehensible and mundane existence. There are, however, alternatives to the Industry of Evil if we are willing to embrace them. Michael Stowell shares his experience with living on the edge of civilization, far from the notion of "enemy," and Vanessa Raney, in what we can only hope is the voice of a new generation, advocates her choice -- a choice we all can make -- to value the humanness of every human being. (As an accompaniment, we are republishing a 1996 article on all those qualifying-adjective Americans.)

Unfortunately, the choices are not simple in an environment in which politicians and celebrities, from Condoleezza Rice to Rush Limbaugh, bombard us with distortions and lies that are mostly swallowed without question. We can all benefit from heeding Richard Macintosh's advice to understand our own values before accepting the lies and following our cultural icons down the path of their own agendas. It would certainly help to see through the spin if politicians economized on their discourse and flushed all ambiguity down the toilet, a hope creatively posed by Gerard Donnelly Smith. With that future still to unfold, Philip Greenspan analyzes the lies and the actions used by past and present elite to employ the masses and influence governments.

The impact of the masses on the government is explored in B. Traven's The Jungle Novels, set in Chiapas, Mexico. In a powerful book review Louis Proyect examines three of the novels and the struggles of the exploited Indians who are the subjects of Traven's work. We end in Vietnam with a poignant poem by Manuel García, and the Letters to the Editor regarding the Greens, conspiracy theories, Israel/Palestine, and, to put it mildly, a rather disturbing message.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans. It's your voice that makes ours grow.


Friends, Allies & Enemies

Diana Johnstone:  French Common Sense And The Furia Friedmania

The United States' voracious demand for enemies chronically exceeds the supply. Responding to the law of supply and demand, New York Times foreign-affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman has aligned with Fox News and the Congressional potato patriots by designating France as "our enemy."   More...


Phil Rockstroh:  Excerpts From A Love Letter To My Enemy

Personal ad posted in the Zeitgeist: "Young, mixed race nation seeks enemy -- preferably with dark skin and swarthy features and fundamentalist superstitions similar to my own (but foreign enough to seem menacing) for a long term relationship based on a mutual need for a permanent commitment to war so that we may be distracted from the existential dread inherent in human existence."   More...


Michael W. Stowell:  Time Cycles Through Eternity

I must admit that since I left civilization I have acquired a more coherent perspective of my life, the ground I live on, the biosphere in which I live, and of activities within the confines of geo-political boundaries.   More...


Vanessa Raney:  What It Means To Be Human: Race And Choice

Don't know why, but I choose to see human beings. Maybe I see other things, too, but later, if I've had a conversation with someone, I remember more about what was said than the person with whom I spoke. Okay, so my ears vibe at the variation of how the things were said: the proud stresses of the Bostonian, the sibilant echoes of the African, the brogue of the Scot, etc.   More...


Patterns which Connect

Richard Macintosh:  Recognition

Recognition of Self is a requisite for completeness, although it does not necessarily bring happiness. It may be accompanied by surprise, shock, dismay and foreboding. Oedipus comes to mind, as does Faust. It is an essential theme in Greek tragedy and serious drama right down to this day.   More...


Gerard Donnelly Smith:  The Word Economy Of Political Discourse

What does the word shit mean? Does it describe the picture of shit in your mind? What other words can you think of for the word shit? Who made up those words? Why? Do they describe the picture of shit in your mind?   More...


America: Myths and Realities

Philip Greenspan:  How Elites Employ Governments To Justify Their Crimes

Since ancient times elite groups have pursued their interests by employing the masses. Utilizing governmental authority is extremely effective since governments create and administer laws that affect the lives, fortunes, and destinies of all who are subject to their jurisdiction.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Louis Proyect:  B. Traven's The Jungle Novels

Most people get their first exposure to B. Traven indirectly through the film "Treasure of the Sierra Madre," which was based on one of his early novels. If the time were ever ripe for a B. Traven revival, it is now.   More...


Humor with a Zest

Gilles d'Aymery:  Is There an American Out There?

[Note: This piece, published on October 25, 1996, is part of our "Oldies but Goodies" collection; it complements Vanessa Raney's essay.]

In a small movie from Yaoundé, Cameroon, in West Africa, two actors exchange the following lines en français (in French):

- Les Noirs en Amérique... (The Blacks in America...)
- Y'a pas de Noirs en Amérique... (There are no Blacks in America...)   More...



Manuel García, Jr.:  Waking The Dead, Redeeming The Living

Noam Chomsky,
Christopher Hitchens,
Robert Bly,
Thich Nhat Hanh.

From the exact to the sublime,
the timely to the timeless,
the perceptive to the transcendent,
my mind begins to awaken to the magnitude of the crime,
my mind begins to open to my complicity in the evil —
Vietnam...   More...


Letters to the Editor


On the Greens, conspiracy theories, Israel and Palestine, and a dreadful message of hate.   More...



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Created: October 28, 2003