A Caverna

Esta é a caverna, quando a caverna nos é negada/Estas páginas são as paredes da antiga caverna de novo entre nós/A nova antiga caverna/Antiga na sua primordialidade/no seu sentido essencial/ali onde nossos antepassados sentavam a volta da fogueira/Aqui os que passam se encontram nos versos de outros/os meus versos são teus/os teus meus/os eus meus teus /aqui somos todos outros/e sendo outros não somos sós/sendo outros somos nós/somos irmandade/humanidade/vamos passando/lendo os outros em nós mesmos/e cada um que passa se deixa/essa vontade de não morrer/de seguir/de tocar/de comunicar/estamos sós entre nós mesmos/a palavra é a busca de sentido/busca pelo outro/busca do irmão/busca de algo além/quiçá um deus/a busca do amor/busca do nada e do tudo/qualquer busca que seja ou apenas o caminho/ o que podemos oferecer uns aos outros a não ser nosso eu mesmo esmo de si?/o que oferecer além do nosso não saber?/nossa solidão?/somos sós no silêncio, mas não na caverna/ cada um que passa pinta a parede desta caverna com seus símbolos/como as portas de um banheiro metafísico/este blog é metáfora da caverna de novo entre nós/uma porta de banheiro/onde cada outro/na sua solidão multidão/inscreve pedaços de alma na forma de qualquer coisa/versos/desenhos/fotos/arte/literatura/anti-literatura/desregramento/inventando/inversando reversamento mundo afora dentro de versos reversos solitários de si mesmos/fotografias da alma/deixem suas almas por aqui/ao fim destas frases terei morrido um pouco/mas como diria o poeta, ninguém é pai de um poema sem morrer antes

Jean Louis Battre, 2010

31 de agosto de 2011

Tô cansado

Tô cansado do meu cabelo
Tô cansado da minha cara
Tô cansado de coisa vulgar
Tô cansado de coisa rara
Tô cansado
Tô cansado
Tô cansado de me dar mal
Tô cansado de ser igual
Tô cansado de moralismo
Tô cansado de bacanal
Tô cansado
Tô cansado
Tô cansado de trabalhar
Tô cansado de me ferrar
Tô cansado de me cansar
Tô cansado de descansar
Tô cansado
Tô cansado

Branco Mello e Arnaldo Antunes

Tudo já foi dito

A palavra já cansada cansa
Cansa de sí mesma
Cansa a vista
já cansada do cansaço de cansar

Quem alcança o cansaço disto tudo?

Tudo já foi dito
Todas as palavras mortas
Queria as palavras exatas
nos espaços vazios do papel

As palavras certas são as erradas

Se não se sente o que um dia se sentiu

Estamos sem sentidos no sentir

A meta é a meta

E após o pós-moderno?
O pós-pós moderno?
ou será que era eterno?

Salvador Passos



Paulo Leminski

25 de agosto de 2011

Dom Quixote

A vida é um moinho
É um sonho o caminho
É do Sancho, o Quixote
Chupando chiclete
O Sancho tem chance
E a chance é o chicote
É o vento e a morte
Mascando o Quixote
Chicote no Sancho
Moinho sem vinho
Não corra me puxe
Meu vinho meu crush
Que triste caminho
Sem Sancho ou Quixote
Sua chance em chicote
Sua vida na morte
Vem devagar
Dia há de chegar
E a vida há de parar
Para o Sancho descer
E os jornais todos a anunciar
Dulcinéia que vai se casar
Vê, vê que tudo mudou
Vê, o comércio fechou
Vê e o menino morreu
E os jornais todos a anunciar
Armadura e espada a rifar
Dom Quixote cantar na TV
Vai cantar pra subir

Os Mutantes
Composição: Rita Lee/ Arnaldo Baptista

19 de agosto de 2011

A vida é o que fazemos dela

A vida é o que fazemos dela.
As viagens são os viajantes.

O que vemos não é o que vemos, senão o que somos.

Bernardo Soares
(O livro do Desassossego)

18 de agosto de 2011


antes do não fazer que é o talvez, há um disperso sentir, um disperso ar, de uma dispersada intenção, e um senão, que é a potencialidade, um silêncio equivalente ao das manhãs, um talvez que é equivalente aos dias e tardes da infância, um sentir que tudo ainda está por vir, um sonhar com tudo o que um dia será, e uma saudade de ainda não ser

Raimundo Beato

Vai e vai

Faz dias
que faz noites

que faz noites
que faz dias.

Um segundo de cegueira sob a luz em movimento.

Que faz noites
que faz dias

que faz noites
que faz dias.

Paulo Eduardo de Freitas Maciel de Souza y Gonçalves

Do blog:

14 de agosto de 2011

Darcus Howe on BBC- Have some respect!

Darcus Howe (born 1943) is a British broadcaster, columnist, and civil liberties campaigner. Originally from Trinidad, he moved to America in the 1960s, then arrived in England intending to study law, where he joined the British Black Panthers, the first such branch of the organization outside the United States.[1] He came to public attention in 1970 as one of the Mangrove Nine, when he marched to the police station in Notting Hill, London, to protest against police raids of the Mangrove restaurant, and again in 1981 when he organized a 20,000-strong "Black People's March" in protest at the handling of the investigation into the New Cross Fire, in which 13 black teenagers died.[2]

He is a former editor of Race Today, and former chair of the Notting Hill Carnival. He is best known in the UK for his "Black on Black" series on Channel 4; his current affairs programme, Devil's Advocate; and his work with Tariq Ali on Bandung File. His television work also includes White Tribe (2000), a look at modern Britain and its loss of "Englishness"; Slave Nation (2001); and "Who You Callin' a Nigger?" (2004).[3] He writes columns for New Statesman and The Voice.

13 de agosto de 2011

The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy

August 13-16, 1965, the blacks of Los Angeles revolted. An incident between traffic police and pedestrians developed into two days of spontaneous riots. Despite increasing reinforcements, the forces of order were unable to regain control of the streets. By the third day the blacks had armed themselves by looting accessible gun stores, enabling them to fire even on police helicopters. It took thousands of police and soldiers, including an entire infantry division supported by tanks, to confine the riot to the Watts area, and several more days of street fighting to finally bring it under control. Stores were massively plundered and many were burned. Official sources listed 32 dead (including 27 blacks), more than 800 wounded and 3000 arrests.

Reactions from all sides were most revealing: a revolutionary event, by bringing existing problems into the open, provokes its opponents into an inhabitual lucidity. Police Chief William Parker, for example, rejected all the major black organizations’ offers of mediation, correctly asserting: “These rioters don’t have any leaders.” Since the blacks no longer had any leaders, it was the moment of truth for both sides. What did one of those unemployed leaders, NAACP general secretary Roy Wilkins, have to say? He declared that the riot “should be put down with all necessary force.” And Los Angeles Cardinal McIntyre, who protested loudly, did not protest against the violence of the repression, which one might have supposed the most tactful policy at a time when the Roman Church is modernizing its image; he denounced “this premeditated revolt against the rights of one’s neighbor and against respect for law and order,” calling on Catholics to oppose the looting and “this violence without any apparent justification.” And all those who went so far as to recognize the “apparent justifications” of the rage of the Los Angeles blacks (but never the real ones), all the ideologists and “spokesmen” of the vacuous international Left, deplored the irresponsibility, the disorder, the looting (especially the fact that arms and alcohol were the first targets) and the 2000 fires with which the blacks lit up their battle and their ball. But who has defended the Los Angeles rioters in the terms they deserve?

We will. Let the economists fret over the $27 million lost, and the city planners sigh over one of their most beautiful supermarkets gone up in smoke, and McIntyre blubber over his slain deputy sheriff. Let the sociologists bemoan the absurdity and intoxication of this rebellion. The role of a revolutionary publication is not only to justify the Los Angeles insurgents, but to help elucidate their perspectives, to explain theoretically the truth for which such practical action expresses the search.

In Algiers in July 1965, following Boumédienne’s coup d’état, the situationists issued an Address to the Algerians and to revolutionaries all over the world which interpreted conditions in Algeria and the rest of the world as a whole. Among other examples we mentioned the movement of the American blacks, stating that if it could “assert itself incisively” it would unmask the contradictions of the most advanced capitalist system. Five weeks later this incisiveness was in the streets. Modern theoretical criticism of modern society and criticism in acts of the same society already coexist; still separated but both advancing toward the same realities, both talking about the same thing. These two critiques are mutually explanatory, and neither can be understood without the other. Our theory of “survival” and of “the spectacle” is illuminated and verified by these actions which are so incomprehensible to American false consciousness. One day these actions will in turn be illuminated by this theory.

Until the Watts explosion, black civil rights demonstrations had been kept by their leaders within the limits of a legal system that tolerates the most appalling violence on the part of the police and the racists — as in last March’s march on Montgomery, Alabama. Even after the latter scandal, a discreet agreement between the federal government, Governor Wallace and Martin Luther King led the Selma marchers on March 10 to stand back at the first police warning, in dignity and prayer. The confrontation expected by the demonstrators was reduced to a mere spectacle of a potential confrontation. In that moment nonviolence reached the pitiful limit of its courage: first you expose yourself to the enemy’s blows, then you push your moral nobility to the point of sparing him the trouble of using any more force. But the main point is that the civil rights movement only addressed legal problems by legal means. It is logical to make legal appeals regarding legal questions. What is irrational is to appeal legally against a blatant illegality as if it was a mere oversight that would be corrected if pointed out. It is obvious that the crude and glaring illegality from which blacks still suffer in many American states has its roots in a socioeconomic contradiction that is not within the scope of existing laws, and that no future judicial law will be able to get rid of this contradiction in the face of the more fundamental laws of this society. What American blacks are really daring to demand is the right to really live, and in the final analysis this requires nothing less than the total subversion of this society. This becomes increasingly evident as blacks in their everyday lives find themselves forced to use increasingly subversive methods. The issue is no longer the condition of American blacks, but the condition of America, which merely happens to find its first expression among the blacks. The Watts riot was not a racial conflict: the rioters left alone the whites who were in their path, attacking only the white policemen, while on the other hand black solidarity did not extend to black store-owners or even to black car-drivers. Martin Luther King himself had to admit that the revolt went beyond the limits of his specialty. Speaking in Paris last October, he said: “This was not a race riot. It was a class riot.”

The Los Angeles rebellion was a rebellion against the commodity, against the world of the commodity in which worker-consumers are hierarchically subordinated to commodity standards. Like the young delinquents of all the advanced countries, but more radically because they are part of a class without a future, a sector of the proletariat unable to believe in any significant chance of integration or promotion, the Los Angeles blacks take modern capitalist propaganda, its publicity of abundance, literally. They want to possess now all the objects shown and abstractly accessible, because they want to use them. In this way they are challenging their exchange-value, the commodity reality which molds them and marshals them to its own ends, and which has preselected everything. Through theft and gift they rediscover a use that immediately refutes the oppressive rationality of the commodity, revealing its relations and even its production to be arbitrary and unnecessary. The looting of the Watts district was the most direct realization of the distorted principle: “To each according to their false needs” — needs determined and produced by the economic system which the very act of looting rejects. But once the vaunted abundance is taken at face value and directly seized, instead of being eternally pursued in the rat-race of alienated labor and increasing unmet social needs, real desires begin to be expressed in festive celebration, in playful self-assertion, in the potlatch of destruction. People who destroy commodities show their human superiority over commodities. They stop submitting to the arbitrary forms that distortedly reflect their real needs. The flames of Watts consummated the system of consumption. The theft of large refrigerators by people with no electricity, or with their electricity cut off, is the best image of the lie of affluence transformed into a truth in play. Once it is no longer bought, the commodity lies open to criticism and alteration, whatever particular form it may take. Only when it is paid for with money is it respected as an admirable fetish, as a symbol of status within the world of survival.

Looting is a natural response to the unnatural and inhuman society of commodity abundance. It instantly undermines the commodity as such, and it also exposes what the commodity ultimately implies: the army, the police and the other specialized detachments of the state’s monopoly of armed violence. What is a policeman? He is the active servant of the commodity, the man in complete submission to the commodity, whose job is to ensure that a given product of human labor remains a commodity, with the magical property of having to be paid for, instead of becoming a mere refrigerator or rifle — a passive, inanimate object, subject to anyone who comes along to make use of it. In rejecting the humiliation of being subject to police, the blacks are at the same time rejecting the humiliation of being subject to commodities. The Watts youth, having no future in market terms, grasped another quality of the present, and that quality was so incontestable and irresistible that it drew in the whole population — women, children, and even sociologists who happened to be on the scene. Bobbi Hollon, a young black sociologist of the neighborhood, had this to say to the Herald Tribune in October: “Before, people were ashamed to say they came from Watts. They’d mumble it. Now they say it with pride. Boys who used to go around with their shirts open to the waist, and who’d have cut you to pieces in half a second, showed up here every morning at seven o’clock to organize the distribution of food. Of course, it’s no use pretending that food wasn’t looted. . . . All that Christian blah has been used too long against blacks. These people could loot for ten years and they wouldn’t get back half the money those stores have stolen from them over all these years. . . . Me, I’m only a little black girl.” Bobbi Hollon, who has sworn never to wash off the blood that splashed on her sandals during the rioting, adds: “Now the whole world is watching Watts.”

How do people make history under conditions designed to dissuade them from intervening in it? Los Angeles blacks are better paid than any others in the United States, but they are also the most separated from the California superopulence that is flaunted all around them. Hollywood, the pole of the global spectacle, is right next door. They are promised that, with patience, they will join in America’s prosperity, but they come to see that this prosperity is not a fixed state but an endless ladder. The higher they climb, the farther they get from the top, because they start off disadvantaged, because they are less qualified and thus more numerous among the unemployed, and finally because the hierarchy that crushes them is not based on economic buying power alone: they are also treated as inherently inferior in every area of daily life by the customs and prejudices of a society in which all human power is based on buying power. Just as the human riches of the American blacks are despised and treated as criminal, monetary riches will never make them completely acceptable in America’s alienated society: individual wealth will only make a rich nigger because blacks as a whole must represent poverty in a society of hierarchized wealth. Every witness noted the cry proclaiming the global significance of the uprising: “This is a black revolution and we want the world to know it!” Freedom Now is the password of all the revolutions of history, but now for the first time the problem is not to overcome scarcity, but to master material abundance according to new principles. Mastering abundance is not just changing the way it is shared out, but totally reorienting it. This is the first step of a vast, all-embracing struggle.

The blacks are not alone in their struggle, because a new proletarian consciousness (the consciousness that they are not at all the masters of their own activities, of their own lives) is developing in America among strata which in their rejection of modern capitalism resemble the blacks. It was, in fact, the first phase of the black struggle which happened to be the signal for the more general movement of contestation that is now spreading. In December 1964 the students of Berkeley, harassed for their participation in the civil rights movement, initiated a strike(1) challenging the functioning of California’s “multiversity” and ultimately calling into question the entire American social system in which they are being programmed to play such a passive role. The spectacle promptly responded with exposés of widespread student drinking, drug use and sexual immorality — the same activities for which blacks have long been reproached. This generation of students has gone on to invent a new form of struggle against the dominant spectacle, the teach-in, a form taken up October 20 in Great Britain at the University of Edinburgh during the Rhodesian crisis. This obviously primitive and imperfect form represents the stage at which people refuse to confine their discussion of problems within academic limits or fixed time periods; the stage when they strive to pursue issues to their ultimate consequences and are thus led to practical activity. The same month tens of thousands of anti-Vietnam war demonstrators appeared in the streets of Berkeley and New York, their cries echoing those of the Watts rioters: “Get out of our district and out of Vietnam!” Becoming more radical, many of the whites are finally going outside the law: “courses” are given on how to hoodwink army recruiting boards (Le Monde, 19 October 1965) and draft cards are burned in front of television cameras. In the affluent society disgust is being expressed for this affluence and for its price. The spectacle is being spat on by an advanced sector whose autonomous activity denies its values. The classical proletariat, to the very extent to which it had been provisionally integrated into the capitalist system, had itself failed to integrate the blacks (several Los Angeles unions refused blacks until 1959); now the blacks are the rallying point for all those who refuse the logic of this integration into capitalism, which is all that the promise of racial integration amounts to. Comfort will never be comfortable enough for those who seek what is not on the market, what in fact the market specifically eliminates. The level attained by the technology of the most privileged becomes an insult, and one more easily grasped and resented than is that most fundamental insult: reification. The Los Angeles rebellion is the first in history to justify itself with the argument that there was no air conditioning during a heat wave.

The American blacks have their own particular spectacle, their own black newspapers, magazines and stars, and if they are rejecting it in disgust as a fraud and as an expression of their humiliation, it is because they see it as a minority spectacle, a mere appendage of a general spectacle. Recognizing that their own spectacle of desirable consumption is a colony of the white one enables them to see more quickly through the falsehood of the whole economic-cultural spectacle. By wanting to participate really and immediately in the affluence that is the official value of every American, they are really demanding the egalitarian actualization of the American spectacle of everyday life — they are demanding that the half-heavenly, half-earthly values of the spectacle be put to the test. But it is in the nature of the spectacle that it cannot be actualized either immediately or equally, not even for the whites. (The blacks in fact function as a perfect spectacular object-lesson: the threat of falling into such wretchedness spurs others on in the rat-race.) In taking the capitalist spectacle at its face value, the blacks are already rejecting the spectacle itself. The spectacle is a drug for slaves. It is designed not to be taken literally, but to be followed from just out of reach; when this separation is eliminated, the hoax is revealed. In the United States today the whites are enslaved to the commodity while the blacks are negating it. The blacks are asking for more than the whites — this is the core of a problem that has no solution except the dissolution of the white social system. This is why those whites who want to escape their own slavery must first of all rally to the black revolt — not, obviously, in racial solidarity, but in a joint global rejection of the commodity and of the state. The economic and psychological distance between blacks and whites enables blacks to see white consumers for what they are, and their justified contempt for whites develops into a contempt for passive consumers in general. The whites who reject this role have no chance unless they link their struggle more and more to that of the blacks, uncovering its most fundamental implications and supporting them all the way. If, with the radicalization of the struggle, such a convergence is not achieved, black nationalist tendencies will be reinforced, leading to the futile interethnic antagonism so characteristic of the old society. Mutual slaughter is the other possible outcome of the present situation, once resignation is no longer viable.

The attempts to build a separatist or pro-African black nationalism are dreams giving no answer to the real oppression. The American blacks have no fatherland. They are in their own country and they are alienated. So are the rest of the population, but the blacks are aware of it. In this sense they are not the most backward sector of American society, but the most advanced. They are the negation at work, “the bad side that makes history by provoking struggles” (The Poverty of Philosophy). Africa has no special monopoly on that.

The American blacks are a product of modern industry, just like electronics or advertising or the cyclotron. And they embody its contradictions. They are the people whom the spectacle paradise must simultaneously integrate and reject, with the result that the antagonism between the spectacle and human activity is totally revealed through them. The spectacle is universal, it pervades the globe just as the commodity does. But since the world of the commodity is based on class conflict, the commodity itself is hierarchical. The necessity for the commodity (and hence for the spectacle, whose role is to inform the commodity world) to be both universal and hierarchical leads to a universal hierarchization. But because this hierarchization must remain unavowed, it is expressed in the form of unavowable, because irrational, hierarchical value judgments in a world of irrational rationalization. It is this hierarchization that creates racisms everywhere. The British Labour government has come to the point of restricting nonwhite immigration, while the industrially advanced countries of Europe are once again becoming racist as they import their subproletariat from the Mediterranean area, developing a colonial exploitation within their own borders. And if Russia continues to be anti-Semitic it is because it continues to be a hierarchical society in which labor must be bought and sold as a commodity. The commodity is constantly extending its domain and engendering new forms of hierarchy, whether between labor leader and worker or between two car-owners with artificially distinguished models. This is the original flaw in commodity rationality, the sickness of bourgeois reason, a sickness which has been inherited by the bureaucratic class. But the repulsive absurdity of certain hierarchies, and the fact that the entire commodity world is directed blindly and automatically to their protection, leads people to see — the moment they engage in a negating practice — that every hierarchy is absurd.

The rational world produced by the Industrial Revolution has rationally liberated individuals from their local and national limitations and linked them on a global scale; but it irrationally separates them once again, in accordance with a hidden logic that finds its expression in insane ideas and grotesque values. Estranged from their own world, people are everywhere surrounded by strangers. The barbarians are no longer at the ends of the earth, they are among the general population, made into barbarians by their forced participation in the worldwide system of hierarchical consumption. The veneer of humanism that camouflages all this is inhuman, it is the negation of human activities and desires; it is the humanism of the commodity, the solicitous care of the parasitical commodity for its human host. For those who reduce people to objects, objects seem to acquire human qualities and truly human manifestations appear as unconscious “animal behavior.” Thus the chief humanist of Los Angeles, William Parker, could say: “They started acting like a bunch of monkeys in a zoo.”

When California authorities declared a “state of insurrection,” the insurance companies recalled that they do not cover risks at that level — they guarantee nothing beyond survival. The American blacks can rest assured that as long as they keep quiet they will in most cases be allowed to survive. Capitalism has become sufficiently concentrated and interlinked with the state to distribute “welfare” to the poorest. But by the very fact that they lag behind in the advance of socially organized survival, the blacks pose the problems of life; what they are really demanding is not to survive but to live. The blacks have nothing of their own to insure; their mission is to destroy all previous forms of private insurance and security. They appear as what they really are: the irreconcilable enemies, not of the great majority of Americans, but of the alienated way of life of the entire modern society. The most industrially advanced country only shows us the road that will be followed everywhere unless the system is overthrown.

Certain black nationalist extremists, to show why they can accept nothing less than a separate nation, have argued that even if American society someday concedes total civil and economic equality, it will never, on a personal level, come around to accepting interracial marriage. That is why this American society itself must disappear — in America and everywhere else in the world. The end of all racial prejudice, like the end of so many other prejudices related to sexual inhibitions, can only lie beyond “marriage” itself, that is, beyond the bourgeois family (which has largely fallen apart among American blacks) — the bourgeois family which prevails as much in Russia as in the United States, both as a model of hierarchical relations and as a structure for a stable inheritance of power (whether in the form of money or of social-bureaucratic status). It is now often said that American youth, after thirty years of silence, are rising again as a force of contestation, and that the black revolt is their Spanish Civil War. This time their “Lincoln Brigades” must understand the full significance of the struggle in which they are engaging and totally support its universal aspects. The Watts “excesses” are no more a political error in the black revolt than the POUM’s May 1937 armed resistance in Barcelona was a betrayal of the anti-Franco war.(2) A revolt against the spectacle — even if limited to a single district such as Watts — calls everything into question because it is a human protest against a dehumanized life, a protest of real individuals against their separation from a community that could fulfill their true human and social nature and transcend the spectacle.


December 1965


12 de agosto de 2011

London Calling

The Clash - London Calling from Jordan Rachev on Vimeo.

London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared, and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look to us
Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, you can go it alone
London calling to the zombies of death
Quit holding out, and draw another breath
London calling, and I don't wanna shout
But while we were talking, I saw you nodding out
London calling, see we ain't got no high
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river

Now get this

London calling, yes, I was there, too
An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
After all this, won't you give me a smile?
London calling

I never felt so much alike alike alike alike

8 de agosto de 2011

Goals and Visions

Goals and Visions

In referring to goals and visions, I have in mind a practical rather than a very principled distinction. As is usual in human affairs, it is the practical perspective that matters most. Such theoretical understanding as we have is far too thin to carry much weight.

By visions, I mean the conception of a future society that animates what we actually do, a society in which a decent human being might want to live. By goals, I mean the choices and tasks that are within reach, that we will pursue one way or another guided by a vision that may be distant and hazy.

An animating vision must rest on some conception of human nature, of what's good for people, of their needs and rights, of the aspects of their nature that should be nurtured, encouraged and permitted to flourish for their benefit and that of others. The concept of human nature that underlies our visions is usually tacit and inchoate, but it is always there, perhaps implicitly, whether one chooses to leave things as they are and cultivate one's own garden, or to work for small changes, or for revolutionary ones.

This much, at least, is true of people who regard themselves as moral agents, not monsters -- who care about the effects of what they do or fail to do.

On all such matters, our knowledge and understanding are shallow; as in virtually every area of human life, we proceed on the basis of intuition and experience, hopes and fears. Goals involve hard choices with very serious human consequences. We adopt them on the basis of imperfect evidence and limited understanding, and though our visions can and should be a guide, they are at best a very partial one. They are not clear, nor are they stable, at least for people who care about the consequences of their acts. Sensible people will look forward to a clearer articulation of their animating visions and to the critical evaluation of them in the light of reason and experience. So far, the substance is pretty meager, and there are no signs of any change in that state of affairs. Slogans are easy, but not very helpful when real choices have to be made.

Goals versus Visions

Goals and visions can appear to be in conflict, and often are. There's no contradiction in that, as I think we all know from ordinary experience. Let me take my own case, to illustrate what I have in mind.

My personal visions are fairly traditional anarchist ones, with origins in the Enlightenment and classical liberalism. Before proceeding, I have to clarify what I mean by that. I do not mean the version of classical liberalism that has been reconstructed for ideological purposes, but the original, before it was broken on the rocks of rising industrial capitalism, as Rudolf Rocker put it in his work on anarchosyndicalism 60 years ago -- rather accurately, I think.

As state capitalism developed into the modern era, economic, political and ideological systems have increasingly been taken over by vast institutions of private tyranny that are about as close to the totalitarian ideal as any that humans have so far constructed. "Within the corporation," political economist Robert Brady wrote half a century ago, "all policies emanate from the control above. In the union of this power to determine policy with the execution thereof, all authority necessarily proceeds from the top to the bottom and all responsibility from the bottom to the top. This is, of course, the inverse of 'democratic' control; it follows the structural conditions of dictatorial power."

[. . .]

When I speak of classical liberalism, I mean the ideas that were swept away, in considerable measure, by the rising tide of state capitalist autocracy. These ideas survived (or were re-invented) in various forms in the culture of resistance to new forms of oppression, serving as an animating vision for popular struggles that have considerably expanded the scope of freedom, justice, and rights. They were also taken up, adapted, and developed within libertarian left currents. According to this anarchist vision, any structure of hierarchy and authority carries a heavy burden of justification, whether it involves personal relations or a larger social order. If it cannot bear that burden -- and it sometimes can -- then it is illegitimate and should be dismantled. When honestly posed and squarely faced, that challenge can rarely be sustained. Genuine libertarians have their work cut out for them.

State power and private tyranny are prime examples at the outer limits, but the issues arise pretty much across the board: in relations among parents and children, teachers and students, men and women, those now alive and future generations that will be compelled to live with the results of what we do, indeed just about everywhere. In particular, the anarchist vision, in almost every variety, has looked forward to the dismantling of state power. Personally, I share that vision, though it seems to run counter to my goals. Hence the tension to which I referred.

My short-term goals are to defend and even strengthen elements of state authority which, though illegitimate in fundamental ways, are critically necessary right now to impede the dedicated efforts to "roll back" the progress that has been achieved in extending democracy and human rights. State authority is now under severe attack in the more democratic societies, but not because it conflicts with the libertarian vision. Rather the opposite: because it offers (weak) protection to some aspects of that vision.

Democracy and Markets in the New World Order

A good place to start is in Washington, right now. The standard picture is that a "historic political realignment" took place in the congressional elections of 1994 that swept Newt Gingrich and his army into power in a landslide victory, a "triumph of conservatism" that reflects the continuing "drift to the right." With their "overwhelming popular mandate," the Gingrich army will fulfil the promises of the Contract with America. They will "get government off our backs" so that we can return to the happy days when the free market reigned and restore "family values," ridding us of "the excesses of the welfare state" and the other residues of the failed "big government" policies of New Deal liberalism and the "Great Society." By dismantling the "nanny state," they will be able to "create jobs for Americans" and win security and freedom for the "middle class." And they will take over and successfully lead the crusade to establish the American Dream of free market democracy, worldwide.

That's the basic story. It has a familiar ring.

Ten years before, Ronald Reagan was re-elected in the second "conservative landslide" in four years. In the first, in 1980, Reagan won a bare majority of the popular vote and 28 percent of the electorate. Exit polls showed that the vote was not "for Reagan" but "against Carter" -- who had in fact initiated the policies that the Reaganites took up and implemented, with the general support of congressional Democrats: accelerated military spending (the state sector of the economy) and cutbacks in programs that serve the vast majority. Polls in 1980 revealed that 11 percent of Reagan voters chose him because "he's a real conservative" -- whatever that term is supposed to mean.

In 1984, there were great efforts to get out the vote, and they worked: it increased by 1 percent. The number of voters who supported Reagan as a "real conservative" dropped to 4 percent. A considerable majority of those who voted hoped that Reaganite legislative programs would not be enacted. Public opinion studies showed a continuation of the steady drift towards a kind of New Deal-style welfare state liberalism.

Why the votes? The concerns and desires of the public are not articulated in the political system -- one reason why voting is so sharply skewed towards privileged sectors.

When the interests of the privileged and powerful are the guiding commitment of both political factions, people who do not share these interests tend to stay home. William Dean Burnham, a leading specialist on electoral politics, pointed out that the class pattern of abstention "seems inseparably linked to another crucial comparative peculiarity of the American political system: the total absence of a socialist or laborite party as an organized competitor in the electoral market." That was fifteen years ago, and it has only become more pronounced as civil society has been even more effectively dismantled: unions, political organizations, and so on.

In the United States, "the interests of the bottom three-fifths of society" are not represented in the political system, political commentator Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post pointed out a decade ago, referring to the Reagan elections. There are many consequences apart from the highly skewed voting pattern. One is that half the population thinks that both parties should be disbanded. Over 80 percent regard the economic system as "inherently unfair" and the government "run for the benefit of the few and the special interests, not the people" (up from a steady 50 percent for a similarly worded question in the pre-Reagan years) -- though what people might mean by "special interests" is another question. The same proportion think that workers have too little influence -- though only 20 percent feel that way about unions and 40 percent consider them too influential, another sign of the effects of the propaganda system in inducing confusion, if not in changing attitudes.

That brings us to 1994, the next in the series of "conservative landslides." Of the 38 percent of the electorate who took part, a bare majority voted Republican. "Republicans claimed about 52 percent of all votes cast for candidates in contested House seats, slightly better than a two-point improvement from 1992," when the Democrats won, the polling director of the Washington Post reported. One out of six voters described the outcome as "an affirmation of the Republican agenda." A "more conservative Congress" was considered an issue by a rousing 12 percent of the voters. An overwhelming majority had never heard of Gingrich's Contract with America, which articulated the Republican agenda and has since been relentlessly implemented, with much fanfare about the popular will, and less said about the fact that it is the first contract in history with only one party signing, and the other scarcely knowing of its existence.

When asked about the central components of the Contract, large majorities opposed almost all, notably the central one: large cuts in social spending. Over 60 percent of the population wanted to see such spending increased at the time of the elections. Gingrich himself was highly unpopular, even more than Clinton, whose ratings are very low; and that distaste has only persisted as the program has been implemented.

There was plenty of opposition to Democrats; the election was a "vote against." But it was nuanced. Clinton-style "New Democrats" -- in effect, moderate Republicans -- lost heavily, but not those who kept to the traditional liberal agenda and tried to activate the old Democratic coalition: the majority of the population who see themselves, correctly, as effectively disenfranchised.

Voting was even more heavily skewed toward the wealthy and privileged than before. Democrats were heavily preferred by those who earn less than $30,000 a year (about the median) and ran even with Republicans in the $30,000-$50,000 range. The opinion profiles of non-voters were similar on major issues to those who voted the Democratic ticket. Voters who sensed a decline in their standard of living chose Republican -- or more accurately, opposed incumbent Democrats close to two to one. Most are white males with very uncertain economic futures, just the people who would have been part of a left-populist coalition committed to equitable economic growth and political democracy, were such an option to intrude into the business-run political arena. In its absence, many are turning to religious fanaticism, cults of every imaginable kind, paramilitary organizations ("militias"), and other forms of irrationality, an ominous development, with precedents that we remember, and that now concern even the corporate executives who applaud the actions of the Gingrich army in its dedicated service to the most rich and privileged.

Nevertheless, despite the propaganda onslaught of the last half century, the general population has somehow maintained social democratic attitudes. Substantial majorities believe the government should assist people in need, and favor spending for health, education, help for the poor, and protection of the environment. As I've already mentioned, they also approve of foreign aid for the needy and peacekeeping operations. But policy follows a radically different course.

Noam Chomsky

Excerpted from Powers and Prospects, 1996

2 de agosto de 2011

O amém nosso de cada utopia

Pai nosso de cada dia que estais longe
Santificado seja o vosso sonho
Venha à sós sem vosso reino
Venha vós não vossos donos
Aqui agora como depois
e só agora sem não mas pois

O refrão nosso de cada santo
não mais hoje
alimenta as nossas descrenças
o chão nosso de cada dia
nos dai hoje
Pai nosso de cada dia
e o pão nosso de cada depois?
não dais hoje?
o pão nosso de cada dia
alimenta àqueles que nos tem oprimido
assim na guerra como na paz

o amém nosso de cada hora
nos traí hoje
perdoai à quem nos tem esquecido
Assim agora como depois

Pai nosso de cada dia
Mãe nossa de cada noite
usaram teus nomes com todo desdém
usaram teus nomes como ninguém
Assim agora como depois

Pai nosso de cada dia
Mãe nossa de cada dia
Mãe nossa de cada pai
com o pão vosso de cada depois
alimentaram os ódios de cada agora
oh pai nosso, que estais fora
vem agora

pai nosso de cada dia
porque choras?
não te culpes
não te culpo
nos roubaram
o pai nosso que está no céu
pai nosso que está no céu

nos roubaram
agora e na hora de nossa morte
o além

pai nosso de cada dia
pai nosso de cada pai
dia nosso de cada pai
mãe nossa de cada pai
mãe nossa de cada mãe
perdoaí aqueles que os têm denegrido

agora e na hora da liberdade
agora e na hora de toda a verdade
agora e na hora de toda morte
um nascer

nascer nosso de cada dia
o abrir nosso de cada olho
o olho por olho de cada olho
não mais fure
o amor nosso de cada noite
o beijo nosso de cada madrugada

pai nosso que estás no céu
são tantos filhos de um só pai
tantos filhos pra um só pai?
os pais são muitos
as mães são muitas
os homens tantos
e o amor um só

amor nosso de cada pai
não nos deixais cair sem liberdade
amor nosso de cada mãe
a verdade é teu mais belo mandamento
o lutar nosso de cada dia
o pão nosso de cada utopia
é nosso amém
é nosso além
aquém nosso de cada além
não nos deixai acreditar em qualquer nome
agora e na hora de nossa morte

Raimundo Beato