Emily Z. sent me an email commenting on my blog, US Foreign Policy, An Incredibly Ironic Piece of Work (Feb, 12, 2011). I present it with her permission.
Okay, the last blog entry i read was about egypt, and what the ‘victory’ had actually accomplished. Your comments on the US and its likely role, and the quotes you used were on the money, but the overall message or tone i have to question. The first thing I thought of was Paulo Freire’s amazing Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire makes a great case for the need for hope in any social revolution or change movement.
“Hope” as defined by my trusty Oxford Dictionary states that it is, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” I do not understand what power “feelings of expectation” possess in terms of some scheme of liberation. Obama pandered to the American people on Hope. Do you remember how unimpressed I was with his prospects before he took office? His predictable failure to give an appropriate return on his promises show how there is always a great disappointment when hope and feelings of expectation fail to materialize. I had glanced at Freier’s book once several years ago, but it didn’t make much of an impact as Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man. That might have because I didn’t a working knowledge of Marxism for it to sink my teeth into Freier’s book. I don’t, in any case or for any reason, see the use of “hope.” It seems to be manipulation on people’s desires.
The line I recall goes something like “Hope is a natural, possible, and necessary impetus in the context of our unfinishedness” […]
I don’t understand why hope is “necessary.” Hope is like wishing, isn’t it? What is the use of wishing?
But I think that if your goal is to inspire action and change whether on a very tiny local scale or a greater world stage, you need to examine the impact of an unrelenting cynical ‘reality’.I was watching Jon whatshisname on with the comedy news show on the comedy show, and he was sort of doing the same thing you were a little more exaggerated and it was good for a couple of genuine brief laughs, but in the long run, what is the message? How can we expect for change movements to happen if we fail to recognize the extraordinary success of a spontaneous populous rebellion such as the one that just took place. or even the one that took place at the polls in this country’s last presidential election.
I didn’t see my blog as “comedy,” nor how I depicted the situation in Egypt as something to laugh about. Am I cynical about the nature of global politics? Oh, definitely. Am I cynical about American involvement in supporting anti-democratic, authoritarians because it suits our own pathological agendas? You bet! I see no “success” in Egypt, as Mubarak left power but held on to the money while turning power over to the military and the former spy chief and torturer. I don’t think that’s the least bit funny. I also don’t think the situation can count as a success because the economic inequalities haven’t changed in the least. I mean, that was the point of the revolt – things in most Egyptians’ lives suck on ice. We will see if there are elections in the fall, but I doubt anything meaningful with come out of it.
If you have read Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I highly recommend you glance at it one day. It’s a seminal work in the education field and an important defense of liberal, radical philosophy in education and change movements.
I will take a look at it and see if a fresh reading will change my opinion. In any case, the latest news has the Egyptian military has been secretly detaining and torturing those it suspects of being involved in pro-democracy protests, according to testimony gathered by the British newspaper the Guardian. Meet the New Boss.
The next thing I have been wanting to address is the subject of equal money. Hell yeah of course i’m in favor of equal money, but what REALLY are you advocating?
I am advocating a system that takes care of us all instead of trying to exploit and kill us.
You say about Egypt they are not ready for equal money because they don’t even know about it, but what exactly is the it, and what is the plan of action to implementing change that will move us from here to there?
Egypt isn’t ready for Equal Money because they would have come to that conclusion on their own already. They aren’t ready because they thought by revolting so much they could get rid of Mubarak and their lives would be better. All they did was turn the army against them and they will justify every crackdown as necessary to keep the country “stable.” Mubarak was only part of the problem, the other parts being a tiny, Arab elite runs all the countries in the Middle East at the expense of the indigenous people, geopolitics and an inequitable money system. They haven’t done squat in those areas, nor have they seemed to organize themselves in any way to address them.
Or is there any plan of action or is it just a slogan?
The plan is to become involved politically. And, it is a slogan.
What brought me to these questions was an earlier blog entry where you referred to Malcolm and Farrakan (sp?) and sort of wrote off the entire population of African Americans with a comment about how black people had always just bought into the whole christian thing as a result of slavery and its debilitating cultural impact.
There is a growing number of black that are rejecting the Jesus doctrine as mind control, and that’s gratifying. But I don’t see where that view you claim I made is misleading or wrong or what you mean by “writing off the entire African-American population.” There is no comparison between Black Muslims in America (I’m speaking of the Nation of Islam) and Black Christians (the high-end of estimates clock in at 50,ooo members).
You didn’t actually say all of that but that’s what I took away from what I read, and correct me if I am wrong. So….what this brought to mind was James Forman’s Black Manifesto. On May 4 of 1969, James Forman, who preceded Stokely Carmichael as Chairman of SNCC, disrupted the Sunday worship service of the Riverside Church of New York City to read the Black Manifesto. Forman’s Manifesto had been adopted on Ap;ril 26, 1969 by the National Black Economic Development Conference which met in Detroit. The Conference was called by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, a coalition of representatives of ten Protestant denominations and some Jewish and Catholic groups that was recently formed to channel funds from the various denominations into poverty projects. The tone was reflective of the Black Power Movement and the text was dead on the money in terms of both demands and vision. And while there was some favorable talk about reparations at that time, the reaction of the churches was unanimously outraged and negative. You can probably google the text, but i’ve reprinted a couple of short paragraphs here:
TO THE WHITE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES AND THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ALL THE OTHER RACIST INSTITUTIONS
We the black people assembled in Detroit Michigan for the National Black Economjic Development Conference are fully aware that we have been forced to come together because racist white America has exploited our resources, our minds, our bodies, our labor. For centuries we have been forced to live as colonized people inside the United States, victimized by the most vicious, racist system in the world. We have helped to build the most industrial country in the world.
We are therefore demandiong of the white Christian Churches and Jewish Synagogues which are part and parcel of the system of capitalism, that they begin to pay reparations to black people in this country. We are demanding $500,000,000 from the Christian white churches and the Jwewish synagogues. This total comes to 15 dollars per nigger. This is a low estimate for we maintain there are probaly more than 30,000,000 black peolple in this country. $15 a nigger is not a large sum of money and we know that the churches and synagogues have a tremendous wealth and its membership, white America, has profited from and still exploits black peolple. We are aalso not unaware that the explointation of colored poeples around the world is aided and abetted by the white Christian churches and synagogues. The demand for $500,000,000 is not an idle resolution or empty words. Fifteen dollars for every black brother and sister in the United States is only a beginning of the reparations due us as people who have been exploited and degraded, brutalized, killed and persecuted. Underneath all of this exploitation, the racism of the country has produced a psychological effect upon us that we are beginning to shake off. We are no longer afraid to demand our full rights as a people in this decadent society.
He goes on to detail how the 500,000,000 will be spent, a list of 12 paragraphs, with the final one reading:
To implement these demands we must have a fearless leadership. We must have a leadership which is willing to batthe the church establishment to implement these demands. To win our demands we will ahve to declare war on the white Christian churches and synagogues and this means that we may have to fight the total government structure of this counttry. Let no one think that these demands will be met by our mere stating them. For the sake of the churches and synagogues, we hope that they have the wisdom to understand that these demands are modest and reasonable. But if the white Christians and Jews are not willing to meet our demands through peace and good will, then we declare war and we are prepared to fight by whatever means necessary….
So…what is the connection to your blog? Well, one, I want to make sure that your sweeping generalizations are actually informed by history and acknowledges the extent of some of the creative tactics and fearlessness of the leaders of the Black Power Movement, despite its complete undoing by the likes of J Edgar and Cointelpro.
But have a look at what happened to the Black Power Movement. Stokely Carmichael left the country to die of prostrate cancer in Guinea, claiming the CIA was somehow responsible. Malcolm and Martin were assassinated, Huey P. Newton was shot to death trying to get some crack, Angela Davis went to teach college, Eldridge Cleaver sold out and became in turns a car theif, a Moonie, a Mormon and a Republican. Bobbly Seale forswore politcal violence and was a Ben & Jerry’s spokesman. They may have been “fearless,” but they all failed by not working within the system to change it. Instead, they became irrelevant. Isn’t that the lesson the Egyptians should take in?
And I am curious as to whether related efforts for social and economic change, such as this one, have been studied for the purpose of informing strategy and implementation of whatever demands are being made in conjunction with the Equal Money campaign.
We have been working on formulating a concise political framework for the past two years and are close to establishing a non-profit called the Equal Life Foundation, which was set up to disseminate the practical points of the EMS, this blog being one of many reaching out over the internet to cause a big enough ripple to be noticed over time. A work in progress, but watch this space.
What are the leaders of the Equal Money Campaign or Movement willing to do to promote their system ( if it is actually a system).
We are willing to get involved politically, as I said. That’s the only way to change the system.
How much sacrifice will be considered okay in the interest of achieving your primary goals and outcomes?
As much as it takes. I have only this life to give. May it be enough.