The Revolution Inside

From Latin American Odyssey, to a profound investigation of the Bolivarian revolution. Hugo Chavez says: Socialism or Death! Leftists rejoice, and Capitalists squeal. But what do the people of Venezuela think about all of this?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Face of the Conqueror

If you´re reading this post in your native language, and your skin is white - like mine - thank you for joining me in this unusual and difficult task of destroying that empire that is partially responsible for our existence. We have a lot of work to do.

Because it´s kind of over - the western powers, the USA/Great Britain corporate axis has largely acheived World Ownership. Our cultures can move vast amounts of resources over great distances in a short period of time. Our governments can pull the strings of nearly any nation - create domestic and global policy to suit "our" interests. And when that doesn´t work, we roll the tanks.

You, if you´re a white English speaker, particularly if you grew up in the US, are on the team with the Highest Score Ever. No matter how vegetarian you are; how much dope you smoke; how sensitive you are or how spiky your hair is... no matter how much you love nature; how easily you are moved to tears at others´suffering; how much you go to church or how often you ride your bike or elect not to shower or plant native plants or have friends from differing cultural backgrounds...

No matter how many of these things you do, if you´re white and speak English and live in the USA, you represent The Conqueror to many, though most won´t use this term.

Even if you don´t think of yourself as the conqueror type - even if you hate America and Freedom (for all the right reasons, too) - on a global scale, you still receive the privileges of the conqueror.

Your passport will take you across just about any border... Of Course! Make sure you have enough dollars to spend. People will marry you just to cross your border. People risk their lives, and lose them, trying to get to your country - even when several members of their family have already died. But you cross this border freely, and they fling open the doors of their shops and their homes and roll out the red carpets (why are they red?) and they will say, "Come in, come in!". But they will cross your border and they will die.

And if they don´t die, you will not offer them a room in your house and wash their laundry and speak their language to them and cook them three meals and take them to the mayor of your town and tell them how amazing they are and ask them how they travelled so far and what their hometown is like. No. You will not.

No. They will be shot at and jailed and made fun of, and live in perpetual fear of deportation. They will pick your strawberries for $15 a day, and send half of that back home. They will live 10 in a one-room apartment with no water. and, they will pay into your social security. When was the last time you thanked an "illegal" immigrant for paying into your social security, for paying taxes in a system from which they, increasingly, will not receive a single benefit?

Most of all, you will find, down here in Latin America - AmerIndia - that all of the sacred sites of indigenous people are a disneyland for gringos. Very few indians left on the sites that proclaim their astounding, and almost completely destroyed, cultures.

And maybe you´ll come with your spiritual leanings or historical interest or anthropological curiosity... or even in penance for the murderous crimes of your forbears. And when you get there, you will see that it is roped off for you now. It´s all yours. Go ahead. Take it.

Stolen, for you, even though you didn´t want it. When you visit the ruins of an indigenous culture, you can ask: do you visit to honor the cultures the conquistadores destroyed; or do you come to pay tacit tribute to the empire whose foundations were set in the blood at these sites?

And maybe you´ll decide it´s just better to not have to ask this question, and stay home.

The Emperor has slain the "heathens" and taken their gold - and now, he offers it to you, to win your affection, to prove his allegiance to you, insouciant child. And if you accept his gifts gladly, you are with the conquerors. If you reject his blood reward, you negate your privilege, but it still exists - you are in denial. If you accept the Man´s gifts while hating the deeds, you are a hypocrite, and a traitor to both sides... an opportunist, a gold-digger.

If, however, you strike out in rage at the man with blood on his hands who dares to act in your name to bring you the spoils of a genocide you never wanted... is there any other way to be human?

This is what I´m experiencing - from Managua, Nicaragua

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A World Without Gringos

It´s been a month now since I quit my job, trying to figure out a way to take this massive privilege and turn it into something useful, for chrissakes. While it wasn´t a surprise, but this whole cross-cultural bridge-building thing has its ups and downs, for sure. I know that we´re developing thick callouses from climbing a pretty steep learning curve.

I just left San Miguel de Allende, an attractive small puebla with a very european seeming center. A european seeming center that, for all practical purposes, is owned by North Americans, whom you will, on occasion, hear referred to as "gringos".

It´s like the globalization of gentrification, and oddly, I had never once considered that gringos might own a whole town. I don´t know why I didn´t... I mean, I´ve thought of N. Americans buying large tracts of land, and I´ve thought of them invading as haplessly destructive tourists...but buying the town?

It has caused me to reflect, more than once, over the four days or so that I was there, that probably just opening up the borders to everyone would have complicated results. I´m not saying I changed my mind or anything.. and I definitely think.. if large companies have a free hand at moving across borders, seeking the cheapest labor market they can find, then certainly people should be able to move across borders... at least level the playing field a bit.

But now I know part of what would happen - gringos by the score - probably artsy or intellectual types who already hate America anyway - would flock to buy the cheap land and set up their little intentional communities. Meanwhile, Mexicans who previously might have died trying to find a better job en el otro lado would suddenly be free to seek work wherever their skills were better valued, and there would be a mad influx of immigrants into theUS.. at least until labor markets restabilized themselves.

And then I think.. if all the gringos left the states, and all the immigrants took over the US, would it be so bad? It probably would, but it would be nice to kick all the gringos out of the US, we don´t want them there, either.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mediacracy: KPUP 100.5 FM - Patagonia

Our first radio station: KPUP in Patagonia, AZ.

Patagonia is an odd little town - about 800 people, maybe, an hour or so southeast of Tucson. Another one of those artsy small communities which are way more common in the US than I ever realized. Kinda progressive - especially for Arizona - and mostly white, just like other "progressive" communities. Although, in many ways, my values match those of what´s considered progressive in the US, I´m starting to develop a critical view of this on racial/cultural grounds. Maybe organic food, collective decision making, and biodiesel powered motorcycles are, you know, the vision of the future society and stuff. But two things are true:

you don´t find marginalized groups subscribing to this value set (except in small ways, when it makes sense for them) - whether in the US, or in other countries.

and you don´t find too many members of marginalized groups hanging around the progressive enclaves... often, the more progressive, the more white.

It makes me think that it just might be more important to figure out how to get right with being white before worrying too much about buying organic plastics. The progressive value set seems to express privilege first (without even trying), before expressing its other values.

right, so I was talking about KPUP in Patagonia. A little one lane town, with a surprisingly decorated pub/nightclub and a sister business, the velvet elvis pizzeria. There´s also an organic cafe and spa type place. Not what I was expecting at all. And now there´s a little radio station too. Wil Hadly is running the joint, and by the time of this writing, should be broadcasting. Wil sent out a cry for help, which is what encouraged me to contact him... but he was looking for some folks more Prometheus style - like engineers. But since we were close anyway, just thought we´d stop by.

a boxy building squatting in the middle of a desert... but they had their board up, and they had made their first successful broadcast, and that made them eligible for FCC license. We took a few photos, and we´ll have them up in a few days. The fellows were friendly, and were open about their perspectives on immigration. KPUP said they were interested in being a sister station with a Latin American station, especially since there are a apparently a lot of spanish speakers around (none of whom I saw), but their main goal is to promote a little bit of that progressive culture in their local town, maybe get a little live music on the air.

I couldn´t find a direct website for them, but there´s plenty of information on the internet if you google KPUP Patagonia.

(written from an internet cafe in Santiago Ixcuintla, Nayarit, Mex)