Category Archives: Poetry

Pio Baroja

Where’s this guy been all my life? The name sounds familiar, but I didn’t really know anything about him. Another Generation of ’98 writer who barely made it through the Spanish Civil War.

Federico Garcia Lorca, the doomed gay poet, one of the finest poets of the 20th Century, of course was assassinated in this war, but he was from the next generation of Spanish writers, the Generation of ’27. They were much more avant garde than the ’98’ers.

The Generation of ’98 were a whole new crop of Spanish writers who popped up at the turn of the century in Spain. Spain was still a monarchy back then and these were times of fervent. The monarchy was trying to balance between the desire of the people to modernize the humanize their country and the desires of the Church conservatives to keep things as static as they were.

At the same time, in 1898, Spain was reeling from its defeat in several wars around the globe. Thousands of Spaniards were dead, and Spain lost all of its colonies. This was a time of great upheaval in Spain. The ’98’ers attacked traditional culture and the monarchy which they say as conformist and undemocratic. In this sense, they were like the liberal protest movements that arose in Germany after World War 1 who attacked German culture and ways of thinking in the light of their painful defeat in the war.

These liberal movements were met with a conservative backlash or mostly demobbed soldiers who formed gangs called the Brownshirts who fought socialists and communists in the streets of Germany. These conservatives felt that the liberals had “stabbed the country in the back” and been traitorous during the war, leading to the nation’s defeat. One of these demobbed soldiers was an angry, wounded soldier named Adolf Hitler and it was from this Right vs Left firestorm in the streets that the Nazi God of Destruction arose a decade later. The Phoenix rising from the ashes, the regeneration of the illustrious nation of blood and soul, which is fascism in a nutshell. Fascism can best be seen as palingetic revolution of the Right. The word palingetic brings to mind the Phoenix rises to glory from the ashes of defeat.

Baroja was a liberal like most of that generation. He grew up in the Basque Country. He wrote a number of trilogies, including The Sea, The Cities, The Struggle for Life, The Basque Country and a few others. The Struggle for Life is a gritty, harsh trilogy about life in the slums of Madrid. John Dos Passos was very fond of this series. Probably his most famous book is The Tree of Knowledge. Baroja was a pessimist and a nihilist who soured on life at a young age.

I do not mind reading downbeat authors though, even if I am an optimist. Really the optimistic and pessimistic views of life are both true and equally valid.

Baroja was influenced by Nietzsche, but below almost looks like Heidegger. I like the elaborate, ornate, very descriptive prose of the 19th Century. I love the long, fancy sentences where the tail of the sentence almost seems to be the head. I don’t mind getting to the end of a Henry James sentence, commas and all, and then wondering what the start of the sentence was about. It’s fun to decipher fancy writing. People don’t write like this much anymore as it is considered to be too elaborate and difficult for its own sake. I believe some of the finest writing in English was done in the 19th Century though. I can’t get enough of those $64,000 sentences. They’re so good you could almost take them to the bank.

Most of Baroja has not yet been translated into English, though he has been famous in Spain for a century.  Hemingway was heavily influenced by Baroja, although this fact is little known.

Isn’t that some fine writing?

The individual is the only real thing in nature and in life. Neither the species, the genus, nor the race, actually exists; they are abstractions, terminologies, scientific devices, useful as syntheses but not entirely exact. By means of these devices we can discuss and compare; they constitute a measure for our minds to use, but have no external reality. Only the individual exists through himself and for himself. I am, I live, is the sole thing a man can affirm.

The categories and divisions arranged for classification are like the series of squares an artist places over a drawing to copy it by. The lines of the squares may cut the lines of the sketch; but they will cut them, not in reality but only in the artist’s eye. In humanity, as in all of nature, the individual is the one thing. Only individuality exists in the realm of life and in the realm of spirit.

Pio Baroja, Caesar or Nothing, 1903

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Filed under Art, Catholicism, Christianity, Conservatism, Culture, Europe, European, Fascism, Germany, History, Liberalism, Literature, National Socialism, Nazism, Novel, Philosophy, Poetry, Political Science, Regional, Religion, Spain, War, World War 1

Reading List (Anyone Else Read Like This)?

I am a voracious reader, and lately at least, I am often reading between 20-40 books all at once. I pick up one, read 20 pages or so, and put it down. Then I pick up another one, read another 20 pages or so, and put it down too. It’s not really a problem for most nonfiction books and it works fine for books of essays and short stories. The poetry I read is often long narrative poetry where you have a single poem that goes on for an entire book of 200-300 pages. This method works well for these poetry books.

It is a bit of a problem with novels. I will admit it. You do tend to lose your place a bit and sometimes I just have to go back and start all the way over again. I think I am going to need to restart War and Peace and the Brothers Karamazov because I forgot what I read.

I do not know if this way of reading is stupid and sensible. It’s just the way I do it. It’s actually rather fun to read this way.

The list:

Total

  1. 33 books

Novels

  1. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  2. Feodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  3. Robert Stone, A Flag for Sunrise
  4. Joyce Carol Oates, Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart
  5. Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
  6. Tom Robbins, Still Live with Woodpecker
  7. John Rechy, Bodies and Souls
  8. John Updike, Until the End of Time
  9. Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
  10. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  11.  Chuck Pahalunik, Invisible Monsters
  12.  Franz Kafka, The Trial
  13. John Irving, Son of the Circus
  14. James Joyce, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

Short Stories

  1.  Joyce Carol Oates, Night-Side
  2.  Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness
  3.  Ernest Hemingway, The Complete Stories of Ernest Hemingway
  4. Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
  5. Daniel Francis Howard, The Western Tradition: An Anthology of Short Stories

Poetry

  1. John Milton, Paradise Lost
  2. Steven St. Vincent Benet, Western Star

Essays

  1. Loren Eisley, Night Country (science)
  2. Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire (nature)
  3. Edward Abbey, Down the River (nature)
  4. Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon
  5. Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tuscon
  6. Doug Peacock, Grizzly Years (nature)
  7. Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (cognitive science)

Unclassified Nonfiction

  1. Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or (philosophy)
  2. Showan Khurshid, Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics (political science)
  3. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (philosophy)
  4. John Colapinto, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl (gender studies)
  5. John C. Greene, The Death of Adam: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought (science)

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Love and Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy of course is the great Victorian novelist, short story writer and lately appreciated poet. Many of his works deal with men and women and their love affairs. If you have never checked him out, I urge you to do so. He is well worth it. He was admired by writers like D. H. Lawrence (who wrote a book about it), the great John Cowper Powys, W.Somerset Maugham, and the great misanthropic poet Philip Larkin. He was a follower of the Naturalist School made famous by Emile Zola.

The Naturalists were a follow-on to the Realists such as Gustave Flaubert (proto-realist) and Anthony Trollope (classic realist). It was supposed to be an improvement upon realism, but I am not sure how. Both of these were reactions against the overly florid, unrealistic and overwrought stories of the time. Zola in particular sought to be almost scientific in his descriptions of the people in his books. Both sought to simply portray characters, humans and scenes as they actually are and let readers draw their own didactic or moralistic conclusions if they so wished.

As far as Hardy himself in love, he was famously married a couple of times. He was described as an unhappy husband. When his second wife died in 1912 after they were estranged for over 20 years, nevertheless, Hardy become a distraught widower and produced some of his finest poetry in Satires of Circumstance published two years later. These are considered to be some of the saddest, most powerful and finest poems about death ever written in English.

And so we have Thomas Hardy:

  • Unhappy husband, and then
  • Distraught widower

He was miserable while he was married to her, but he was even more miserable when she was dead. There is a lesson in here somewhere, maybe:

  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, or simply
  • People are never happy

I prefer the latter.

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Filed under Literature, Novel, Poetry, Psychology, Romantic Relationships

Good, Evil and the Inferno

Below, Anonymous (he is actually a friend of mine in disguise) has some interesting comments about Dante’s Inferno, one of the greatest books ever written. There are many translations available, but I recommend the one by John Ciardi, who is Italian himself by the way. Dante himself was a rather nasty man, extremely puritanical almost like a Christian version of the Saudi religious police. He used to stand outside and rail at the neighbors, calling them sinners. They probably were, at least in his book, but who likes a prig. He was also a stern, grim and rather mean-spirited fellow who seemed to regard most of his fellow humans with contempt as he felt they were “fallen.”

But then Shakespeare was a cheapskate, tightwad, penny-pinching, greedy bastard, litigiously fond of suing his neighbors for small amounts of cash. His own wife and children were said to not care for him too much.

But when I told my mother this, she got annoyed and basically said, “So what?” He pointed out that we do not remember Shakespeare because he was basically a bastard in day to day life with his fellow humans. We remember him for his greatest achievement, his plays with not only withstood the test of mine but possibly have not yet been surpassed or possibly even equaled.

You can make a good case that he is the greatest English writer of all time. His artistic achievement was so great that it surely outweighed his antisocial behavior in day to day life, although you might have a hard time convincing those who knew him well and suffered through his insufferable behavior of that.

Dante is similar. As a human, he was a pretty lousy. But so what? He is surely the greatest writer of the Italian language ever, surpassing even Boccaccio, and he is up there with Shakespeare with the greatest writers period of all time. He wrote in the 1300’s, but it could have been yesterday.

PS if you have not read the Inferno, you need to go read that book right now, dammit, unless you are one of those who I discussed in my piece who spends their life running from bad things. In that case, you will not enjoy this nasty little book, which is fascinating for its nine circles of Hell descending from the least sinful on the outskirts of Hell to the worst of all frying away for eternity in the boiling black heart of the first circle of Hell.

In limbo, the ninth circle, those who frittered and wasted away their lives for no reason (like me) are condemned to float in the air endlessly like a spaceman drifting about in zero gravity space. They’re the “floaters.” As the sins get worse and worse, so do the glorious punishments! It is ingenious the nasty punishments he comes up to torture these sinners for all of time. This delightful little book should be read with a wicked little glimmer in one’s eye. Be prepared to let your inner sadist out of his cell to romp around a bit as you read this nasty gem of a book. If you have the tiniest bit of cruelty in your heart, this book is plenty enough to sate your appetite for sadistic pleasure.

Purgatorio, the second book of the great Divine Comedy, is also awesome, unless you hate Catholics for their nasty little innovation, in which case, don’t bother.

Purgatory is for those who were not evil enough to be sent to Hell but nevertheless were pretty darn bad, not good enough to go to Heaven so they have to be sent to the way station between Heaven and Hell, Mount Purgatory, where they “work off their sins” in the most horrible of ways for a very long time with the slight solace that once they get through this 14th Century Auschwitz and work off their sins enough to satisfy God, they can at long last be admitted to Heaven. Purgatorio is not quite as good as the Inferno, but it is nevertheless excellent. I highly recommend it.

I have not read Paradiso. It is said to be the weakest of the three, but even a weak book by Dante is still better than 99% of the dreck floating around out there in Literary Limbo.

PS. He comments on “looking at life in the way that is described in the post. The main thrust of the post was supposed to be my idea that an intelligent Hell would be much superior than an insipid Heaven. I also discussed how most people spend their whole lives running from their pain, their painful history, their possibly painful futures and the painful world that surrounds us all.

While it makes sense to be an optimist, I personally have nothing against thinking about lousy things that have happened to me, are happening to me, or are happening around me because first of all, that’s how life is (Buddhists say “all of life is suffering”) so there is no sense running from 50% of the universe, and also because I have either made my peace with most awful things (especially those in my past) so it doesn’t really bother me or upset me too much to think about them.

I then point out that even lousy experiences, of which life has a ton, can at the very least be seen as a learning experience or an interesting bit of life if you want to step back, detach and be a bit analytical and philosophical about things, which isn’t as Aspie as it sounds. Sure life is painful, but it ought to also be numbing. That’s how you toughen up after all. You get a bit hard. And so what? That’s called “getting it done.”

Anonymous writes:

Inferno is a very interesting book, Dante uses symbols, metaphors, and allusions for pretty much every aspect of Hell. I thought this epic (I believe that’s its classification, since it’s poetic). But, despite this coping mechanism he uses to help liberate himself from depression, I don’t believe he ever got “better”.

On another note, would you call Dante hypocritical? Yes, his Hell did feature political rivals and other assholes that deserved their punishments. But, Dante himself, was not perfect (I am referring to his rumored love affair with Beatrice). Even his Hell is contradictory: his map of Hell is based off of the Heliocentric Theory, yet he sticks with the more conservative view that those who are not Christian stay in Hell (reason for Virgil being there).

So, what I am trying to “get at” is why is it okay to view yourself as good and others as evil. I think it’s okay to view yourself as innocent, but is it okay to view yourself as good…? Good and innocent are often associated with each other, but good is an adjective that describes character, while innocent is an adjective that can also describe an action. So, while a person can be innocent, they may not necessarily be good.

Don’t get me wrong: it is tempting to look at life in the way that’s described in this blog post. But, I keep feeling like there should be a grey, in-between area because I don’t want commit hypocrisy.

Maybe I misunderstood what was typed…but…

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Filed under Literature, Philosophy, Poetry, Theater

“Latin America Has to Fight and Win!” by Andre Vitchek

If you want to know what is going on in Latin America right now, this is all you have to read. What’s funny is that I have been telling the truth about Latin America for some time now, and I still have commenters that come here and recite the same old lies about the Left regimes in Latin America.

For instance, our media lies and tells you that all of those shortages in Venezuela are due to the inept socialist system they have. But guess what? The economy is nearly 100% capitalist! The capitalists run the show in Venezuela. They provide nearly all of the products that you see in the stores.

Honestly, in a free market economy, you should never have shortages of any legal product. Think about it – it goes against the logical of laissez-faire free market theory. If there is more demand for a product than supply, sure prices go up, but also the capitalists frantically try to buy more of the product to fulfill the extreme need.

There’s no way you can possibly have a product shortage in a capitalist economy. Can you tell me how you can possibly have a product shortage of a highly in demand product with a plentiful wholesale supply in a capitalist economy? If you can, I am all ears. Also the ghosts of Adam Smith and David Ricardo would like to have a word with you.

So that is a question I am throwing up to the Latin American Left haters on this board: Please explain to me how you can possibly have a shortage of a highly in demand with a huge supply available outside the local economy product in a capitalist society. I want to hear this. I am all ears.

Latin America Has to Fight and Win!

by Andre Vitchek

America latina

For now, Argentina is lost and Venezuela is deeply wounded, divided and frustrated. Virtually everywhere in socialist Latin America, well-orchestrated and angry protests are taking place, accusing our left-wing governments of mismanagement and corruption.

What was gained during those years of hard work and sacrifices, is suddenly evaporating in front of our eyes. And there seems to be no way to stop the trend in the foreseeable future. Whatever magnificent work our governments have done have been smeared. Western propaganda and its local serfs belittle the achievements of our people. In several countries, revolutionary zeal has almost entirely vanished.

*

It is clear, even with an unarmed eye that great progress had been made. Those of us who knew Ecuador two decades ago, (then a depressing country, humiliated and torn by disparities and racism), are now impressed by its wonderful social services, free culture and modern infrastructure.

Indigenous people of Bolivia are proudly in possession of their own land.

Venezuela has been inspiring the entire Latin America and the world by its internationalism and determined struggle against Western imperialism.

Chile, step by small step, has been dismantling the grotesque legacy of Pinochet’s dictatorship, moving firmly towards socialism.

There are hundreds of great and inspiring examples, all over the continent.

In less than two decades, Latin America converted itself from one of the most depressing parts of the world, to the most progressive one.

A few years ago, it really seemed that the Empire had finally lost. There was no way that South Americans would want to go back to the days of darkness. The achievements of socialism were too obvious, too marvelous. Who would want to go back to the gloomy nihilism, depressing feudal structures and the fascist client-state arrangements?

Then the Empire re-grouped. It gathered its local lieutenants, its lackeys, and began striking back with deadly force.

All the means of imperialist propaganda were applied. The goal was to convince people that what they see is not actually real. Another objective was to subvert, to torpedo most of the achievements.

*

We lost elections? What nonsense!

It was clean economic and political terror unleashed against us, and it was the most vicious propaganda, which began forcing out the left wing governments of Latin America from power!

The world was watching, still demanding more Western-style “democracy”, more concessions. The West administered a “Fifth Column” that damaged Latin American revolutions, after infiltrating both media and brains in Caracas, Buenos Aires, even Quito. It consisted especially of the liberals and those so-called ‘progressive forces’; the same people who tried to bury the Cuban revolution after the Soviet Union had been destroyed by Western imperialism. The same people actually who were cheering the demolition of the Soviet Union itself.

They kept pushing for anarchism and for some formulae of “participatory economy”, in fact for their own concepts, for Western, white concepts, for something that most of Latin American people who fought and won their revolutions never asked for!

Jealous and petty, they hate the true powerhouses of resistance against Western imperialism: Russia, China, Iran or South Africa and in fact, even Latin America itself.

Latin American people have always been intuitively longing for big, strong governments, like those in Cuba and those that lately emerged in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. And their natural allies should have been those countries from other, non-Western parts of the world, with powerful people-oriented leadership, not some European and North American individuals representing grotesque and defunct movements and “intellectual” concepts.

In several countries, Latin America lost its way and again got derailed by Western demagoguery. Suddenly there was almost nothing left here of Chinese or Russian or Vietnamese ideas, nothing of internationalism, only Western soft liberal egotists and countless irrelevant marginal groups.

History was forgotten. It was simple, decisive and powerful action by China that single-handedly saved Cuba, when the island-nation was hit by the Gorbachev and Yeltsin disasters. I wrote about it a lot, and Fidel quoted me, agreeing in his “Reflections”.

It was the Soviet Union that stood in solidarity with almost all revolutionary movements of Latin America throughout the 20thcentury. And it was Russia that was backing Chávez during the countless Western attempts to overthrow his government.

*

Playing with anarchism, liberalism and Euro-socialist concepts brought several Latin American revolutions to the brink of absolute calamity.

South America is at the frontline. It is under attack. There is no time for the flowery theories.

I know Latin American revolutionaries. I have met many, from Eduardo Galeano to several Cuban and Sandinista leaders.

I also met many of the South American ‘elites’.

One day, not long after Evo Morales came to power in Bolivia, I spoke to a man, a member of one of the ‘leading’ families, which has in its ranks Senators, owners of mass media outlets, as well as captains of local industry.

“We will get rid of Morales”, he told me, openly. “Because he is a dirty Indian, and because we will not tolerate lefties in this part of the world.”

He was not hiding his plans – he was extremely confident.

We don’t care how much money we have to spend; we have plenty of money. And we have plenty of time. We will use our media and we will create food and consumer goods deficits. Once there is nothing to eat, once there are food lines in all the major cities, as well as great insecurity and violence, people will vote him out of power.

It was clearly the concept used by the Chilean fascist economic and political right wing thugs, before the 1973 US-backed coup against President Salvador Allende. “Uncertainty, shortages”, and if everything failed – then a brutal military coup.

In Bolivia the “elites” tried and tried, but they were not successful, because there was great solidarity with the government of Evo Morales, coming from socialist countries like Brazil and Venezuela.

When the Right tried to break the country to pieces, pushing for the independence of the richest, “white” province of Santa Cruz, Brazilian President Lula declared that he was going to send the mightiest army in the South American continent and “defend the integrity of the neighboring country”.

It is beasts, and actually extremely powerful beasts, who are heading the “opposition” in South America.

And to be frank, we can hardly speak about an “opposition”. These are oligarchs, landowners, Christian (many from the Opus Dei) demagogues and military leaders. In many ways they are still the true rulers of the continent.

Nothing except brute force can stop them. They have unlimited financial resources, they have a propaganda machine at their disposal, and they can always count on the Empire to back them up. In fact it is the Empire that is encouraging, training and sustaining them.

*

“Violations of democracy and human rights!” the “opposition” yells, whenever our governments decide to hit back. It is not that we are lately hitting back really hard, but any retaliation is packaged as “brutal”.

What do we in fact do? We arrest just a few of the most outrageous terrorists – those who are openly trying to overthrow or destabilize the state.

But when they, the ‘elites’ and their armies, came to power, they cut open people’s stomachs, and threw them from helicopters straight into the sea.

Their death squads violate children in front of their parents. Female prisoners are raped by specially trained German shepherds dogs, and tubes with starved rats are inserted into their vaginas.

Entire movements and parties are liquidated by fascist South American battalions of death (some of them trained in the United States), but we must use some nice and clean tactics and “democratic means” to prevent them from grabbing power again?

The white, racist, colonialist Christian implants from Europe have been forming so-called South American ‘elites’. They are actually some of the cruelest human beings on Earth. Thanks to them, before our latest wave of Revolutions, Latin America suffered from the greatest disparities on earth.

Tens of millions of its people were murdered. It was racially divided. It was plundered. Its veins were, and to a great extent still are, open – to borrow from the terminology of the great storyteller Eduardo Galeano.

My friend Noam Chomsky wrote about it extensively. I wrote about it in several chapters of my two latest books: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. Others have as well.

How can people still listen to those mass murderers, with a straight face?

*

One thing cannot be disputed: only a big and powerful government and its army could now defend its people. Latin American revolutionary leaders were given a mandate by the people, and they have no right to back up, to betray.

Indecisiveness could prove lethal.

Referendum after referendum, people expressed their support for the revolutionary Proceso, in Venezuela and elsewhere. Year after year the fascist “opposition” has been showing spite for the voices of the people, the same spite it has demonstrated for centuries.

Sabotage after sabotage was administered, one treasonous act after another committed. As was promised by the Bolivian ‘elites’, the Venezuelan capitalist bandits paralyzed their country by shortages. Even rolls of toilet paper became ‘a deficit’. All too familiar… Like in Chile before 1973!

The message is clear: “you want to be able to wipe your ass after shitting, then betray socialism!” Or: “You want to eat? Then down with the legacy of Chávez!”

The will of the people is being humiliated. The elites are spitting straight into the faces of the majority.

Some citizens are now voting for the right, simply because they are exhausted, because they are scared, because they see no solution. They are voting against their own will (as they used to in Nicaragua during the reign of Aleman), because if they vote for their own candidates, they would be made to eat shit, literally.

But solutions are there! They are available.

Instead of listening to some Eurocentric gurus from Slovenia or New England, the Latin American governments should ask for help and lean on such countries as Russia and China, immediately joining alternative financial institutions, forging defense treaties, working on energy and other deals with those who are actually standing up against Western imperialism.

Latin America should never lose its independence. But with proven good friends and true powerful alliances, independence is never lost.

Our leaders should shed their dependency on the Western Left. Mainly because the Western Left does not exist anymore, with some tiny, miniscule exceptions that proves the rule. What remain are a huge army of “liberals”, and then a tremendous multitude of selfish beings defending their own interests and concepts.

They are horrified of those who are truly fighting and winning; therefore they openly hate Russia, China and other non-Western nations. Frankly, they are racist. Such people cannot inspire or impress anybody, and so they are trying their luck at the distant shores, diluting determination and perverting the essence of the South American revolutions.

This is the time to be focused. South America should fight, with all its might. It is not easy, but its treasonous families, those who are destroying the precious lives of tens of millions of human beings, should be identified, arrested and tried. It should be done immediately!

What many of them are actually doing is not “being in opposition”. They are interrupting the democratic process in their own countries, selling their homelands once again to foreign powers and international capital.

*

Mass media outlets that are spreading misinformation, lies and foreign propaganda should also be immediately identified. They should be exposed, confronted, and if their goal is to destroy the socialist fatherland, shut down. Again, this is no time for liberal niceties.

Freedom of expression has nothing to do with the freedom of using newspapers and television stations to spread fabrications, fear and uncertainty, or to call for the direct overthrow of democratically elected governments.

And in South America, entire huge international newspaper and television syndicates have been working for years and decades for one single and deadly goal – to smear and liquidate the Left, and to deliver the entire continent back to the racist, fascist foreign imperialist rulers.

It has all gone too far, and it has to stop.

A few months ago, I was riding on the impressive Sao Paulo metro system, together with my Cuban friend.

“It is much better than any public transportation network that I have seen in Europe or in the United States”, I exclaimed.

“But people in Brazil think that it is total shit”, commented my friend, laconically.

“How come?” I was shocked.

“Because they are told so on the television, and because they read it in the newspapers”.

Yes, that’s how it is! Free art, including opera, given to the Brazilian public, is nothing more than crap, if one reads the mainstream Brazilian press. Free medical care, no matter how (still) imperfect it is, is not even worth praising. Free education in so many South American countries …

New transportation networks, free or heavily subsidized books, brilliant parks with brand new libraries that are mushrooming in Chile and Ecuador… Financial support for the poor, the fight to keep children in school, the fight to save the environment, countless programs to protect indigenous communities…

Nothing, nothing, and absolutely nothing is positive in the eyes of the pro-Western South American propagandists!

This has become one huge counter-process, financed from foreign and local sources, aimed at discrediting all those great achievements.

*

Corruption!!! That is the new battle cry of the elites and their lackeys. Accusations of corruption are fabricated or inflated against all governments of the left: Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, even Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Cristina Kirchner’s back was almost broken by constant corruption charges.

But how on earth could anyone take such accusations seriously, if they are coming from those who have been plundering, for over 500 years, their own continent on behalf of Europe and then the United States and multi-national corporations?

Like locusts, the right-wing families have been looting all the natural resources, while forcing people into near slave labor. Under horrendous feudal and fascist rulers, Latin America was converted into the pinnacle of corruption – moral and economic.

Nothing was left intact, and nothing remained pure. In order to survive in such a vile system, people had to bend, twist, and maneuver.

Now these same bandit clans that have been destroying the continent are smearing, pointing fingers at the governments that are, step by step, trying to reverse the trend and serve the people.

The same bastards that were bombing restaurants and hotels in their own countries, planting bombs on passenger airliners, and assassinating thousands of innocent people, are talking about morality.

Are our people, our governments, expected to reach, to achieve total purity in just one or two decades, after the entire continent had been functioning for over 500 years as a bordello of Western colonialism and imperialism?

Are we going to allow ourselves to be on the defensive when facing those who robbed and raped almost everything and everybody in Latin America?

*

Yes, the people of Latin America were brutalized for several long centuries. They went through unimaginable suffering. They lost everything. But they never gave up. Since the holocaust performed by Spanish, Portuguese and other European barbaric conquerors, they have been rising, rebelling and fighting for their scarred land.

Pablo Neruda wrote a tremendous poem “Heights of Machu Picchu.” Eduardo Galeano wrote “Open Veins of Latin America”. It is all there, in those two tremendous works.

The fight goes on, to this very moment.

Most of the power is now, finally, in the hands of those who are determined to fight for the interests of their people.

We have no right to be defeated. If we do, hundreds of millions will lose their future and their hope.

Such an opportunity would not come back. It is here, for the first time in 500 years! Millions died to bring it here. If the Revolution is crashed now, it may not return in full force for who knows how many years. In simple terms it means that several more generations would be lost!

We have to counterattack now. What are we waiting for? Of what are we afraid? That the biggest terrorist on Earth – the West – would brand us as undemocratic? That the same West that has, for centuries, overthrown our governments, murdered our leaders as well as simple men, women and children would not give us its stamp of approval? That we would be criticized by those countries, which are still looting, violating, lying and ruining?

Our friends, our allies are not in the West. We all know how lukewarm was the support given to Venezuela, Cuba or Ecuador in Europe and North America by those “progressive forces”, and how hostile was the mainstream. We have to wake up and join forces with those who are now standing proudly and with great determination against Western imperialism and market fundamentalism.

There is no time for experiments. This is the fight for our survival!

As I wrote earlier, in order for the Revolutions to continue, we need big governments, determined cadres, loyal armies and mighty allies. We also need huge Latin American solidarity, true unity and integration. One monolithic South American block in fraternal embrace with other truly independent countries.

This is an extremely serious moment, Comrades! This is damn serious.

Anarchism and the concepts of the factories administered by workers will not save us right now.

Argentina has fallen, but Venezuela is still standing. Each creek, each boulder has now to be defended, be it in Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua or Cuba.

We have to be tough, we have to be alert, and we cannot do it alone!

Venceremos nuevamente, camaradas!

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Filed under Americas, Argentina, Asia, Brazil, Capitalism, Caribbean, Chile, China, Christianity, Colonialism, Corruption, Cuba, Economics, Ecuador, Eurasia, Europe, Fascism, Government, Imperialism, Internationalism, Iran, Journalism, Latin America, Latin American Right, Left, Liberalism, Literature, Poetry, Political Science, Politics, Racism, Regional, Religion, Revolution, Russia, Socialism, South Africa, South America, Uruguay, USA, USSR, Venezuela

My State Is Ablaze

This site has some extremely cool photos and commentary of the California drought and wildfires currently ravaging our state.

There is also commentary on the insanity of California towns and cities which insist on adding more and more new homes when they have no idea if there is enough water for the new residents. It is in areas like this that capitalism fails most miserably and government in capitalist countries never seems to step up to the plate. Capitalist countries seem determined to suicidally “grow themselves to death.” It is like they are making a rope made up of twine from shredded up dollar bills and hanging themselves with it. With all the other awful things about greed, it is starting to become obvious to me that greed is also outright suicidal, an analysis that I have not seen much about.

Speaking of suicidal, the farmers in the Central Valley continue to over-pump groundwater like mad. The state previously had no regulations whatsoever on groundwater and was unique among Western states in that regard. Even ultraright states like Idaho and Utah have better groundwater regulations than we do! Governor Brown just signed a new groundwater bill but it is truly pitiful in that it doesn’t go nearly far enough to regulate groundwater in this lunatic state.

Apparently farmers are suicidal too. These crazy farmers will keep pumping that groundwater until there’s not a drop left and then the whole valley will dry up. Then the farmers will bitch and scream and demand to suck every river in the state dry. These farmers here are some of the stupidest and most reactionary and evil farmers in the US, and I am certain that they could easily commit agricultural suicide by draining the groundwater.

Over on the East Side, the land is sinking as much as 2 inches per month. Excuse me, but that is absolutely insane.

Here is a comment on the article:

Nin, It’s that terrible spectre, Growth. It’s had the whole planet under its spell so long that this self-created tyranny no longer discloses its true face, all we get to see is the frenetic race to doom, the spread of the contagion, business as usual.

John Keats, who had had medical training, had watched his mother and younger brother die of t.b., knew its course all too intimately, and was probably already aware of its symptomatic approach by this time, third week of April 1819. He asked of poetry that it be “felt on the pulse”. The pulse by this time is weakening, erratic, feverish. The production mills of the market are squirreling away their nuts, yet here he is, fading, failing, distracted, falling out of the busy world’s getting & spending picture —

On the cold hill’s side.
And this is why I sojourn here…

I saw those vacationers with their beach gear at dry, growth-choked Folsom Lake as today’s recreational sojourners, the consumption component in the economic cycle, sojourners, insatiable, passing through and using up but not staying long enough to check out the devastation endured by the doomed natives of the island.

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Filed under Agricutlure, California, Capitalism, Economics, Fires, Government, Law, Literature, Local, Mother Nature, Poetry, Regional, USA, West

Robert Burns, “Tam O Shanter”

This poem was written in and is being read in a language called Scots, which is not a dialect of English as many people think. Scots split off from English in ~1500, or 500 years ago. This is approximately what two languages sound like when they have been split apart for 500 years. I listened to this, although I can make out some words and even phrases here and there, honestly, I do not have the faintest idea what he is talking about, and I am missing most of this language. I can hear ~25% of it, if that.  However, a good friend of mine from England listened to it and she said she could make out ~70%. So there you go. See if you can make heads or tails of this stuff.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, Germanic, Indo-European, Language Families, Linguistics, Literature, Poetry, Scots

Keats

Do any of you like John Keats? Famous English Romantic poet who lived in the Romantic Era. Born 1795, died young of tuberculosis in 1821 at age 25. He led a pretty sad life. Other Romantic poets were Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sidney Lamb, Thomas Carlyle and William Wordsworth. There sure was a lot of great poetry around back in those days. Except for the tuberculosis and doctors who tried to cure you via blood loss, it was probably a great time to be alive.

I have wandered through quite a few of Keats’ poems, but that doesn’t mean that I understood what was going on in all of them. Keats’ poems are often hard to understand. But even if can’t figure out what the poem is about, they often feel real nice to read due to the beauty of the language. However, Ode to a Nightingale seems pretty straightforward to me. It’s beautiful stuff!

Ode to a Nightingale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

One minute last, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,

But being too happy in thine happiness,

That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,

In some melodious plot

Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,

Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

 

O for a draught of vintage! That hath been

Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,

Tasting of Floa and the country-green,

Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!

O for a beaker full of the warm South!

Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,

With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,

And purple-stained mouth,

That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the forest dim-

 

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

What thou among the leaves hast never known,

The weariness the fever and the fret

Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,

Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;

Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

And leaden-eyed despairs;

Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,

Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

 

Away! Away! For I will fly to thee,

Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,

But on the viewless wings of Poesy,

Though the dull brain perplexes and retards.

Already with thee! Tender is the night,

Clustered around by all her starry Fays;

But here there is no light,

Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown

Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

 

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,

Nor what soft incense hands upon the boughs,

But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet

Wherewith the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild –

White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;

Fast fading violets covered up in leaves;

And mid-May’s eldest child,

The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,

The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

 

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time

I have been half in love with easeful Death,

Called hi soft names in many a mused rhyme,

To take into the air my quiet breath;

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,

To cease upon the midnight with no pain,

While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad

In such an ecstasy!

Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain –

To thy high requiem become a sod.

 

Thou wast born for death, immortal Bird!

No hungry generations tread thee down;

The voice I hear this passing night was heard

In ancient days by emperor and clown:

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

The same that oft-times hath

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam

Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

 

Forlorn! The very word is like a bell

To toll me back from thee to my sole self!

Adieu! The fancy cannot cheat so well

As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.

Adieu! Adieu! Thy plaintive anthem fades

Past the near-meadows, over the still stream,

Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep

In the next valley-glades:

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?

Fled is that music – Do I wake or sleep?

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Filed under Literature, Poetry

Try Until You Die

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

– Robert Browning

That’s right. Never give up. Never stop trying. Never say uncle. Never say never. Keep on keeping on. Carry on, carry on. Get up and do it again. Nobody likes a quitter.

P.S. Browning is a really great 19th Century poet. You might want to check him out.

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Filed under Literature, Philosophy, Poetry

The Hell with Quiet Desperation

Carpe diem!

One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honour or observation. – Sir Walter Scott

“And then I can die happy.” That is one of my favorite saying. Not that I want to die now, but considering how I have lived my life, nothing much could happen between now and death in the next 30 years, and I could still die happy. That’s how fun my past was. Of course I want the present and future to be just as fun, but it doesn’t have to be. If I never have sex again, I can still die happy. I’ve had my fun.

PS Do you any of you like Scott? It is fashionable to hate him as some sort of a hack, but I am reading some of his poetry now (he wrote book-length poems) and I must say, it is pretty awesome.

In recent years, Scott has come somewhat back into favor as the academy has found some grounds for appreciating him. About time.

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Filed under Literature, Philosophy, Poetry