Progressive Calendar 10.04.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2009 04:06:41 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   10.04.09

1. Stillwater vigil   10.04 1pm
2. Barter market      10.04 1pm
3. Bob Kuttner        10.04 2:30pm
4. Faith/rights       10.04 2:30pm
5. Kip Sullivan/950AM 10.04 3pm
6. Progressive Mag    10.04 4pm
7. Peace walk         10.04 6pm RiverFalls WI
8. Harvest moon walk  10.04 7pm

9. Palestine          10.05 6:30pm

10. NWN4P vigil       10.06 4:45pm
11. Afghanistan       10.06 6:30pm
12. Brazil/sustain/f  10.06 7pm
13. Amnesty Intl      10.06 7pm StCloud MN
14. Postville raid/f  10.06 7pm

15. Esther Iverem    - Bombing capitalism
16. Russell Mokhiber - Welcome back, Michael Moore
17. Greg Grandin     - There is much to do: an interview with Hugo Chavez
18. Bruce Robbins    - Against literary imperialism: storming the canon
19. ed               - Ha f pric  haikus  (hai u)

--------1 of 19--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 10.04 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------2 of 19--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Barter market 10.04 1pm

The Midway Barter Market, every Sunday, 1-3 pm, boulevard in front of 1724
Englewood Ave.  Barter Market on Wednesdays at SuperUSA are cancelled.

Community Gathering and Exchange at the "Midway Barter Market"!  Bring
something to share if you can; we've seen CSA and urban farm produce, jam,
bread, fruits, homemade candles and soap, jewelry, cassette tapes,
clothes, anything that's in good condition that someone else may want.
Labor exchanges are good too (i.e. I will fix your bike if you make me
lunch).  It's an informal gathering that's lots of fun, and you get to
take home stuff you want that someone else has too much of.  A folding
chair and maybe a folding table are good to bring, or even just a blanket
for the boulevard.  Contact Nine at mightymidway [at] gmail.com or 651.319.2241
with questions, or Kathy at kathysphotos [at] mindspring.com or 651.645.1492.


--------3 of 19--------

From: Shirley Whiting <sgwhitin [at] pressenter.com>
From: Don Fraser <dfled [at] goldengate.net>
Subject: Bob Kuttner 10.04 2:30pm

On Sunday October 4 Bob Kuttner, co-editor of American Prospect, will
speak at the Aloft Hotel, 900 S. Washington Avenue, Minneapolis, at 2:30
p.m.  The speech is free and open to the public.  Kuttner is often seen
and heard on TV and radio.  In Minneapolis, he will give an update on his
2008 book, Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis the Power of a
Transformative Presidency.  Mr. Kuttner's appearance is co-sponsored by
the DFL Education Foundation and Growth & Justice. [Hmmm.. -ed]


--------4 of 19--------

From: Stephanie Bates <Stephanie.Bates [at] americas.org>
Subject: Faith/rights 10.04 2:30pm

Faith Action at Ramsey County Adult Detention Center
October 4, 2009
2:30-3:00 PM
425 Groveland Street
Saint Paul, MN

"A Harvest of Prayers and Statements from our Faith Traditions" for the
detainees and their families for human rights and due process for our
elected officials to end the raids and deportations for just and humane
immigration reform

Faith Actions are planned for the first Sunday of every month at the end
of visiting hours. Faith and community groups are invited to lead or
sponsor a Sunday Faith Actions For more information contact the Interfaith
Coalition on Immigration at interfaithonimmigration [at] gmail.com


--------5 of 19--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: Kip Sullivan/950AM 10.04 3pm

The health of our nation & health care: Where does it stand now and where
do you stand? Is Congress doing its job or is it doing a job on us? What
should we do?

James Mayer Of the People with James Mayer
Sunday at 3:00 P.M.
AM950 KTNF or www.am950ktnf.com

You are cordially invited to direct these and any other questions or ideas
you have to Minnesota health care expert, author, researcher and member of
the Board of Directors for the MN branch of Physicians for a National
Health Program, Kip Sullivan.

Sullivan, the author of The Health Care Mess: How We Got Into It and How
We'll Get Out of It and an authority on the state of health care
legislation nationally and in Minnesota, will be with us to respond to
your questions or ideas tomorrow (or today, depending on when you get
this) on Of the People with James Mayer this Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at
3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF. If out of the broadcast area, you can stream us at
http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen.

Again, locally, you can join us by tuning your radio to 950 on the AM dial
in your car, and in your home, and, again, if you're not local, you can
stream us :http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen (You will be asked to put in a
MN zip code).

Off-air, you can reach us by calling James Mayer at 651-238-3740, by
e-mail at info [at] jamesmayer.org, or by U.S. mail: James Mayer, 970 Raymond
Ave., St. Paul, MN Zip Code 55114.


--------6 of 19--------

From: Tori Johnston <tori_j [at] msn.com>
Subject: Progressive Mag 10.04 4pm

You are cordially invited to celebrate The Progressive Magazine's
100th anniversary with editor Matt Rothschild.

George Mitchie of the Catonsville Nine will speak, as will former FBI
agent Coleen Rowley and Mark Davidov of the Honeywell Project. Mr.
Rothschild will speak starting at 5:30 with a light buffet supper to
follow.

Sunday, October 4, from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.
at the Purcell & Elmslie-designed home of Phil Willkie
2625 Newton Ave. South, Minneapolis 55405
off West Lake of the Isles Parkway - third house on right

Phil has generously offered to match your tax-deductible donation dollar
for dollar. Please RSVP.
Philwillkie [at] earthlink.net<mailto:Philwillkie [at] earthlink.net> 
612-822-0522
Preferred minimum: $50 or $100.

[The PM is "moderate", non-radical, Dem-supporting. Not radical enuf for
me, but perhaps just right for some others. Especially those who can spend
$50-100. -ed]


--------7 of 19--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 10.04 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


--------8 of 19--------

From: Sue Ann <seasnun [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Harvest moon walk 10.04 7pm

Shine On Harvest Full Moon Walk
at Coldwater Spring
Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 7 PM

The annual Sing A-Long harvest moon walk. We provide the song sheets: Shine
On Harvest Moon, Blue Moon, Moon River, Moonlight Bay, and By the Light of
the Silvery Moon.   Traditional group howl!

Directions: Coldwater is south of Minnehaha Park, in Minneapolis. From Hwy
55/Hiawatha, turn East (toward the Mississippi) at 54th Street, take an
immediate right, & drive South on the frontage road for -mile past the
parking meters, through the cul-de-sac & the gates. Follow the curvy road
left & then right down to the pond, next to the great willow tree.

Sunset 6:47 PM-Moonrise 6:35 PM
Info: www.friendsofcoldwater.org


--------9 of 19--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Palestine 10.05 6:30pm

Report Back from Conference: U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Monday, October 5, 6.30 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South (just
south of Riverside on the West Bank), Minneapolis.

Sanna Towns, Elisabeth Geschiere, Susanne Waldorf, and Flo Razowsky of the
Coalition for Palestinian Rights (CPR), Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign
(MN BBC) and the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) attended
the 8th annual U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation conference on
September 12 and 13. These women say, "There were many exciting BDS
proposals passed, many networking opportunities achieved and a new, deeper
understanding offered of Palestinian civil society demands. We want to
share all we learned with you, so please join us for this report back. We
will tell you of what we learned and talk collectively about next steps
for Twin Cities organizing in solidarity with Palestinian civil society."
Endorsed by: WAMM.


--------10 of 19--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P vigil 10.06 4:45pm

NWN4P vigil every Tuesday.
Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM.
All welcome; bring your own or use our signs.


--------11 of 19--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Afghanistan 10.06 6:30pm

Film Screening: "Rethink Afghanistan"
Tuesday, October 6, 6:30 p.m. University of Minnesota, West Bank, Blegen
Hall, Room 105, 269 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

October 7th marks the 8th anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation
of Afghanistan. The U.S. now has 68,000 troops there (up from 34,000 at
the beginning of the year), and the Obama administration is strongly
considering the military's request to send tens of thousands more.
Meanwhile, Afghan civilians continue to be routinely killed by U.S.
airstrikes and U.S. troop casualties in July and August reached their
highest yet. And for what? "Rethink Afghanistan" is a new hour-long
documentary by Robert Greenwald (maker of "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low
Price," "Iraq for Sale," and "Outfoxed") that examines the reality behind
the war in Afghanistan. The six parts of the documentary examine the
impact of military escalation in Afghanistan, the staggering costs of the
war, the horrifying civilian casualties from U.S. and NATO airstrikes, the
war's impact on Afghan women, and the ultimate futility of U.S. war
efforts in Afghanistan, "the graveyard of empires." Sponsored by Socialist
Alternative. Endorsed by: WAMM.


--------12 of 19--------

From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at] tc.umn.edu>
Subject: Brazil/sustain/f 10.06 7pm

Tues Oct 6 7pm at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design,
2501 Stevens Av S
Please come to the first screening in this semester's Celebrate
Sustainability Film Series!

A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil is an
informative, inspirational documentary aimed at sharing ideas to provoke
environment-friendly and cost-effective changes in cities worldwide The
screening begins at 7 p.m. in the College Center, located on the second
floor of MCAD's Main Building.


--------13 of 19--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 10.06 7pm StCloud MN

Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, October 6th, from
7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain,
Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or
jerry.dirks [at] gmail.com.


--------14 of 19--------

From: Stephanie Bates <Stephanie.Bates [at] americas.org>
Subject: Postville raid/f 10.06 7pm

abUSed: The Postville Raid
Minnesota Premier Showing
Tuesday, October 6th
7:00pm
St. Paul JCC
Free and open to the Community

Guatemalan filmmakers Luis Argueta and Vivian Rivas present clips from
their new documentary "abUSed: The Postville Raid" which examines issues
surrounding undocumented workers and the aftermath of the 2008 immigration
raid both in Postville and Guatemala, the home country of many of the
workers.

A panel discussion will follow the filmmakers' presentation

For more information, contact Rabbi Sharon Stiefel, Jewish Education
Director,  at 651-255-4737 or sstiefel [at] stpauljcc.org


--------15 of 19--------

Bombing Capitalism
By Esther Iverem
SeeingBlack.com Editor and Film Critic
Seeing Black
October 2, 2009
http://www.seeingblack.com/article_701.shtml

On a throwback vibe, you could say that "Capitalism: A Love Story" is the
bomb.

By exploring the economic system of capitalism as an evil, Moore sends a
salvo into the heart of America's economic machine. Along the way, he
explodes some serious myths: Myth #1: that the economic system of
capitalism is the same as or tied to the political system of democracy.
Myth #2: That be an American is to be a capitalist and that to be
anti-capitalist is to be anti-American. Myth #3: That poor, people of
color with bad credit, who bought houses that they couldn't afford, caused
the financial meltdown in the United States. Myth #4: That mainly Blacks
and Hispanics are losing their homes to foreclosure.

He also drops other bombshells, such as the internal Citigroup memo
declaring that the United States is no longer a democracy but is, rather,
a plutocracy, where the richest 1 percent of the country is in charge of
the rest of us peasants, and where the system of government have been
warped in the past 30 years to serve the rich. Then there is the
relatively unknown Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur from Ohio - not one of the
usual suspects on talking head news shows - calling the bailout of Wall
Street a financial coup d'etat and telling Americans who have lost their
homes to become a "squatter" in their homes and not leave. There is the
laundry list of Washington insiders who received sweet V.I.P. mortgages
from Countrywide, which was a leader in dispensing high-interest "sub
prime" loans to homeowners. The explosions go on and on.

Moore's documentaries, exposing the smelly underbelly of American society,
have always included poignancy, comedy and a smart-assed attitude. In
"Capitalism: A Love Story," he outdoes all his previous efforts in a
magnum opus that ties together all that he has covered in the past,
beginning with "Roger and Me," a funky exploration of General Motors,
released 20 year ago, followed by documentaries on America's gun culture,
post-9/11 realities and the warped health care system. This exploration of
ideology provides a convenient framework for Moore to organize his
attitudes toward the world and life. So we see those Chicago workers from
Republic Windows and Doors staging the factory takeover that gained
international news. We see again the shameful aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina. We see, most poignantly, the frustration of a nation that helped
to elect a Black man who promised change.

Moore is bold and minces no words in this project. He goes for broke,
betting that he can bring the American public - or at least a sizable
gang-to join him, or to at least stop drinking the fantasy Kool-Aid that
we, too, might make it into realm of the magical 1 percent. His success in
that effort will not change the fact that he has produced his documentary
masterpiece.


--------16 of 19--------

Time to Get Reckless?
Welcome Back, Michael Moore
By RUSSELL MOKHIBER
CounterPunch
October 2-4, 2009

With pictures of Ralph Nader surrounding him, Michael Moore this week
threatened Congressional Democrats with defeat at the polls in 2010.

Moore was a Nader for President supporter in 2000, aiding and abetting the
consumer advocate in his quest for the Presidency.

Moore returned to the Democratic fold in 2004 and 2008 - throwing his
support to John Kerry and Barack Obama.

But earlier this week, Moore returned to Nader territory - the press room
at Public Citizen on DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C. - and with pictures
of the consumer advocate on the wall surrounding him - Moore announced
that he intended to launch a campaign against Congressional Democrats who
didn't at least support a strong public option in the health care
legislation currently barreling through the Congress.

Moore is a supporter of a single payer system but - unlike many in the
single payer movement - he's willing to compromise down to a strong public
option.

But it's clear that Democrats in Congress are in no mood even for a strong
public option.

And Michael is in no mood to compromise further.

"To the Democrats in Congress who don't quite get it, I want to offer a
personal pledge," Moore said. "I - and a lot of other people - have every
intention of removing you from Congress in the next election if you stand
in the way of health care legislation that the people want". "That is not
a hollow or idle threat," Moore said. "We will come to your districts and
work against you. First in the primary. And - if we have to in the general
election. You don't think so? You don't think so? You think we are just
going to go along with you because you are Democrats? You should think
again. We will organize the thousands of people in your district who have
suffered as a result of this cruel health care system we have. We will
organize them. We will come after you and we will remove you from office".

Moore didn't clearly define the standard he would use in deciding whether
to challenge a Democrat.

First he said that he organize against Democrats "who stand in the way of
health care legislation that the people want".

Then he said he would organize against Democrats if they didn't "get
behind the President".

(Question: Michael - You mean get behind the dirty deal Obama cut with the
drug and health insurance industries - Obama takes single payer off the
table and the criminal corporations support Obamacare?)

Then he said that the legislation would have to "at the minimum have a
public option available to all people who can buy into this - at the very
least it has to have this".

Moore then accused the 2000 Naderistas - and by implication himself - of
being activists who are "reckless in politics" who "don't really care".

"Let me just say - there are some people in this room - if you remember
back to the election of 2000 - that are fairly reckless individuals when
it comes to politics," Moore said.

"They don't really care. When they see a hypocrite, when they see somebody
who has turned their back on the people who put them in office, they will
be relentless in working against you. Even if it means that the Democrat
doesn't win."

Even if it means the Democrat doesn't win. [*]

Welcome back Michael.

Onward to single payer.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of Corporate Crime Reporter and founder of
singlepayeraction.org

* [I'll believe it when I see it. Moore has a habit of moving left just
*after* an election, trying to gather followers, and then moving right a
few months *before* an election, and trying to take a large crowd of
progressives with him. Whatever election it is will be "too important" to
"waste your vote on a third party" or to "try to enforce purism in the
most important election of our lifetime". Since each and every election is
"the most important election of our lifetime", it is NEVER the time to
raise the bar on Dems, and the Dems can and will do anything they want to
us. It's not just Moore, it's most of us - we're gutless and lacking in
courage. They will do to us whatever we don't fight and forbid. -ed]


--------17 of 19--------

There Is Much to Do: An Interview With Hugo Chavez
By Greg Grandin
The Nation
September 27, 2009
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20091012/grandin

Three years ago, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez caused a stir when, in a
speech to the United Nations General Assembly, he called then-US President
George W. Bush a "devil." "I can still smell the sulfur," he said,
standing at the same podium where, a day earlier, Bush had given his own
address. Last week, Chavez once again followed a US president in the UN
podium, but this time he caught a whiff of something different - "the
smell of hope." In the following interview - conducted at Venezuela's
mission to the United Nations in New York - Hugo Chavez talks about his
relationship with Barack Obama and what his election could mean for the
United States, as well as about the Honduran crisis, plans to extend the
Pentagon's presence in Colombia, domestic successes and challenges, and
the legacy of Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Greg Grandin: I'd like first to ask you about the Honduran crisis. Manuel
Zelaya - the president overthrown in a coup on June 28 - is currently in
the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, having returned to the country in
secret. What happens next? What can be done to force those who carried out
the coup to negotiate?

Hugo Chavez: It's not for me to decide what the next step is. Zelaya has
called for dialogue. That was the first thing he did as soon as he entered
the Brazilian embassy. The coup-plotters have responded with repression,
death and terror. I believe that the brutal nature of this coup will lead
to its failure.

GG: But how do you explain the intransigence of Roberto Micheletti, the
president installed by the coup? There is about a month to go before the
scheduled November 29 presidential elections, and whether Zelaya is
returned to office or not, we know that one of two candidates from either
the National or Liberal parties - both conservatives - is going to win.
So why wouldn't the de facto government want a negotiated solution,
allowing a symbolic return of Zelaya to the presidency for a short period
in order to legitimate the outcome of the election?

HC: Noam Chomsky has a book, which I read for the first time when I was in
Spain, called Fear of Democracy. There is your answer. Fear of democracy.
In Honduras, they had a sham democracy. It was run by elites, what was
called a liberal democracy but in reality was a false democracy. Honduras
has been governed by a small group that for a long time has been supported
by the United States, which used Honduras as a military base against other
countries of Central America, against Cuba, turning the country into a
colony. Manuel Zelaya came from the ranks of the Liberal Party, he entered
the government as an intelligent young man, breathing in the new winds
blowing from South America, the winds of change, I would say even winds of
revolution. It is different from the revolution of the 1970s. This one is
carried out not with rifles but by a peaceful people, it is a democratic
revolution. Montesquieu said that men needed to be able to ride the wave
of events. And that's what Zelaya did. With his cowboy hat he climbed up
and rode the wave. And as soon as he broached the question of convening a
constitutional assembly to consult with the people about refounding the
republic, the political class that has governed all this time, the
Honduran bourgeoisie, became frightened. That is the fear of democracy.

GG: What is the importance of events in Honduras for the rest of the
continent? There are signs that the right, the transnational right, is
regrouping, and that it sees Honduras as the first battle in a larger
struggle to roll back the left.

HC: They are going to fail. Of course, it is important not to
underestimate the continental right. It has gone on the offensive in many
places. They attacked Venezuela, hard, with the support of Bush, as you
know. They attacked in Brazil, trying to destabilize Lula so the Workers
Party couldn't govern. They failed. They attacked Bolivia, hard, with all
the venom of a serpent, in an effort to overthrow Evo Morales. They
failed. They attacked Ecuador, and Rafael Correa is still there. Then, in
Honduras, they attacked what they believed to be - and in a way was - the
weakest flank. But they were in for a surprise. For three months, the
Honduran people have been in the street, with unprecedented strength.
That's what they found on the supposed weak flank. So I think the
continental right should well consider its next step. They haven't even
been able to consolidate their power in Honduras, notwithstanding that
they enjoy the monolithic unity of the Honduran bourgeoisie and the
support of the military, so if they decide to attack again in South
America, they will fail. It is a battle, a game of chess, that we are
fighting everyday. But the continental right has lost its way, it doesn't
have a project for governance. In the United States, the government is
bailing out banks, intervening in the economy, yet in Latin America, the
right continues to talk about "free markets." It's totally outdated, they
don't have arguments, they don't have any sense.

GG: But they will have seven US military bases in Colombia.

HC: It seems as if there are two Barack Obamas. And hopefully, the Obama
who spoke today at the United Nations will win out in the end. But it was
Obama who also approved the seven military bases in Colombia. Nobody can
think otherwise, because who is the president, who is the
commander-in-chief of the military if not Obama? If Venezuela decided to
send troops to another country, or to set up a military base in Puerto
Rico, it would be me, as president, making the decision. So Obama is full
of contradictions, and hopefully the people of the United States, you, the
thinking public, need to push your president. If I were I New Yorker, I
would say, Mr. President, why are you putting military bases in Colombia?
I said to Obama in Trinidad [at the Summit of the Americas in April] what
I said to Bill Clinton ten years ago - one could at least talk to Clinton
- and the same I told George W. Bush - only one time, because one couldn't
talk about anything with him - "let's look for peace in Colombia."
Hopefully the people of the United States will demand from its president,
and its government, and its congress, to stop with the politics of war
throughout the world. Obama said some troublesome things today, veiled
threats. I have the phrase here, if I am not mistaken, that the US "will
know how to defend the interests of all." Does this mean that tomorrow
Obama is going to be able to say that he has invaded Iran in order to
defend the interests of Venezuela, or of Mexico, or of Algeria? No,
Venezuelan interests are to be defended by Venezuela. The US should defend
the interests of the US. Where are the US people, where are the
intellectuals, who could put limits on their government?

GG: Since President Obama has taken office, has US policy toward Venezuela
changed since the Bush years?

HC: Yes, for the worst.

GG: For the worst?

HC: Yes, for the worst. The seven Colombian military bases. They are a
threat to Venezuela. Why hasn't Obama - and today at the UN he listed all
the steps he has taken [to improve relations with the rest of the
world] - eliminated the Fourth Fleet? It was Bush that re-established the
Fourth Fleet, a threat to all of Latin America, with the commander of the
fleet saying that its purpose was to patrol South America's rivers. We are
all worried about this in Latin America, and each country has expressed
concern in its own way, Venezuela, Bolivia, even Brazil. Now with these
seven military bases, the Colombian conflict is going to be spilling out
across South America. Hopefully Obama will listen to other voices, and not
just repeat what the Pentagon says, those same advisers of Bush, the war
makers.

GG: Do you think it ironic that the Right in the US now uses the same
tactics and rhetoric to attack Obama that the Venezuelan right uses
against your government? Did you follow what happened just two weeks ago,
with Obama's planned address to schoolchildren, when they attacked him in
terms very similar to the criticism used against your education reform?

HC: Ah, yes, I read about that, that it was socialist indoctrination.

GG: Exactly.

HC: If only it were socialism! I believe they are scared. And this fear is
dangerous. Because independent of whatever reasoned criticism we might
have of Obama - such as that concerning the Fourth Fleet, which is an
effort to make his actions be coherent with his words - here within the
United States, the recalcitrant right is scared. And they hate him. First,
because he is black...

GG: This is a debate now within the United States...

HC: Jimmy Carter is saying it. And hopefully Obama won't be assassinated
because of it. But Obama has also taken up the theme of social reform
almost as if it were a point of honor, because he made the pledge during
the campaign. And also, as Obama knows, out of necessity. Everyday there
is more poverty in the United States, everyday there is more uncared-for
people who don't have medicine, doctors, or even education. This country
is eating itself from the inside. What's happening to the American, how do
you say it, Dream [in English]. I believe in the American Dream, but the
dream of Martin Luther King Jr., not the dream of consumerism, unbridled
capitalism or individualism, that craziness, that's not a dream it's a
nightmare. Now, the recalcitrant right attacks Obama hard, calling him a
socialist...

GG: Even a Nazi.

HC: Yes, a Nazi! When we met in Trinidad and shook hands, the right
roasted him here for doing so: "Chavez! Why are you greeting Chavez?!"
Imagine the craziness just for saying hello. It's irrational. The right
here is scared that Obama is awakening a popular current in the people of
the US, and they are trying to stop it. Where it is going to wind up, who
knows? But I have a question, where is the US people? Where are the
people, when their leader tries to propose something in benefit of the
people? The people need to go out into the streets, not just to vote but
to passionately protest, to support the president, so he can fulfill his
promise. Where are the people?

GG: It is the right that is in the street.

HC: Yes, the right has taken over the street. There is much to do. Those
who represent progressive thought - and I include you - need to know that
without the people, there is no democracy. The people of the United States
need to wake up, wake up and help construct a new country, a great nation,
a true democracy. Obama can be an opportunity, and you need to support him
with great force, in order to contain those that ferociously oppose
whatever change. Like in Honduras. It's the same situation. The
progressive community of the United States needs to support Obama to
achieve change, and then it has to demand more change, and more change,
and more change.

GG: There is a sense among progressives in the US that the Bolivarian
Revolution has reached its limits, at least domestically. They have heard
much about your anti-imperialism and your efforts to form a multipolar
world, but they know less about what is happening in the country, the
successes and failures in advancing a "protagonist democracy."

HC: Many political analysts - the majority of them spokespeople for the
right - along with the media - also dominated by the right - go around
creating the idea that the government of the Bolivarian Revolution is on
the point of collapse. The fall of the price of oil affected us in a way,
but not fundamentally, not at the roots or the base of the process. We are
passing through stages. We are starting the second decade of the
revolution, and are now approaching a new political horizon. The communal
councils for example, continue to extend, continue to grow, and they have
evolved into a more ambitious project, a socialist commune. We are leaving
behind - slowly, but steadily, not in a day, a year or five years - oil
dependency, advancing the industrialization of the country. If some people
here believe - people of good faith, readers of The Nation - that the
Bolivarian Revolution is exhausted, tell them that it isn't. You can tell
them to come and see for themselves. Venezuela is of course a country that
has problems, and its revolutionary government has failures, and has made
mistakes, but it is an ongoing process.

GG: Venezuela has impressively reduced poverty, inequality,
unemployment...

HC: We have achieved nearly all of the Millennium Development Goals. I was
here almost ten years ago, in the Millennium Summit, and they even
assigned me the task - I wasn't yet considered the devil, though they were
undoubtedly still evaluating me - to coordinate one of the roundtables. I
was there for a few days, day after day working and talking with Clinton,
Fidel was there too. I remember the day Fidel shook Clinton's hand,
Clinton and Fidel, and I was witness to their short conversation. We had
meetings with delegates from Africa, Asia, from China, Russia. Now, we
proposed some goals [to reduce poverty]. But today, at the global level,
we are poorer than ten years ago. And not only in absolute numbers but
relative numbers. But in Venezuela, poverty continues to go down.
Unemployment continues to go down. The minimum wage is the highest in
Latin America. Social security continues to reach more and more people.
The standard of living has risen in Venezuela and according to the
measures used by the United Nations Development Program we are in the top
rank of human development. We are far from our goals, but we have left the
inferno. Attention to the excluded, literacy, Venezuela is now a territory
free of illiteracy. Poverty has been halved from it was ten years ago,
which was one of the Millennium Goals. Access to potable water, we passed
that Millennium goal a long time ago. In education, we have doubled the
number of children going to school. It is possible to leave poverty, it is
possibly to pull people out of misery. We call this socialism. In Obama's
reflections - the ones I have heard - there are elements of this thought.
We don't call it socialist, but it is a revindication of public policy.

GG: What you have achieved inspires many. But can you talk about the
failures, or the concrete plans you have to address ongoing problems, such
as inflation, crime and insecurity?

HC: On every front, there are failures and still much work to be done.
Right now we are in the process of what we call the three Rs: revision,
rectification and re-starting. In health care, in education, improving
services, correcting mistakes. We are increasing participatory democracy,
protagonist democracy. Delinquency is a global problem, not an exclusive
Venezuelan one. Corruption is hurting us. I believe Obama talked this
morning of the problem of corruption in developing countries. But here, in
the US, there is a lot of corruption. In Europe there is corruption.
Capitalism is the reign of corruption. Everything that happened with the
big corporations, the big banks, the big insurance companies. What is it?
Corruption. Corruption of values, fraud against the people, theft from the
citizenry. Now, when I mentioned earlier about a new stage, 2010 to 2020,
I was talking about above all a project that had to solve these problems,
this weakness.

GG: But how, exactly? Can you give some concrete examples, say, in
reference to violence and public security? One recent report identifies
Caracas - in terms of homicide rates - as the second most violent city in
the world, after Ciudad Jurez.

HC: Ciudad Jurez?

GG: Ciudad Jurez.

HC: I think there are cities in the United States that are more violent. I
don't want to minimize the problem. Look, we are attacking the problem
with a lot of energy, with distinct programs. For example, a little while
ago we enacted legislation restructuring the National Police, because
historically, going back many years, the police department was penetrated
by delinquents. So we are trying to cleanse the police. But at the bottom
of this is a cultural problem. Out-of-control crime, in all these
countries, is part of a moral crisis. Ask yourself, how many children
right at this moment are watching violence on TV, on the Internet? Music
that encourages drug use and irresponsible sex? This is a product of the
capitalist model, the culture of capitalism, hyper-individualism.

It's part of the great crisis of the time. It requires a new world, with
new values. As Jesus Christ says, "love others as yourself." If you love
others as yourself, you are incapable of hurting others.

GG: One last question. Since 2003, the relationship between you and
Brazilian president Luiz Incio Lula da Silva has been fascinating. Working
together in the field of international relations, you have led what some
have described as South America's second independence, or at least have
brought about the end of the Monroe Doctrine. But in about a year, that
relationship is going to end, when Lula's second, and last, presidential
term expires. We are going to be in a "post-Lula" world. Have you given
any thought how this is going to affect your foreign policy, since you
have worked together in a very...

HC: Closely.

GG: Yes, closely.

HC: Coordinated.

GG: Yes, coordinated.

HC: Lula is a great person, a great companero. They tried to create a
rift between us, but it failed. I have the hope that after Lula comes
someone who will continue along the same path. Lula has managed to put his
own stamp on Brazil. Brazil had lost its way, it had fallen into the hands
of, well, neoliberal governments. It lacked leadership. About four or five
years ago, Brazil was at the point of losing its petroleum reserves. But
no longer. Lula rescued [the state oil company] Petrobras, he invested
resources, and recovered the independence of Brazil. The country no longer
depends on the International Monetary Fund. Brazil's monetary reserve has
grown exorbitant due to exports. The attitude of Brazil toward its small
neighbors has greatly changed, toward Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, the
smallest and weakest countries, and above all because of Lula. This is
Lula's great legacy, and it is going to be difficult to change. Many
things will change. Someone will take office with his or her own stamp,
own style. But Brazil is now standing. With Venezuela, there will be
changes, in the relationship we have, in the strategic alliance. But I
have much faith that the person who comes next will be a man or woman of
the left, from the Workers Party, who will continue to try to meet the
challenge presented by Lula at his inauguration.

Remember, the 2002 coup in Venezuela was not just against me but against
Lula, who was a presidential candidate at the time. It was meant as a
demonstration effect. They were telling the Brazilian people, look, if you
elect Lula, this is what could happen to you. So, when Lula was
inaugurated on January 1, 2003, I went. I'll never forget it. We were in a
terrible battle at home, of destabilization, economic and petroleum
sabotage, terrorism, threats of more coups. But I wanted to go to
Brasilia. There, Lula told us that we needed a project that covered all of
South America. He knew that this challenge needed to go beyond Lula,
beyond Chavez, and beyond Evo. When each of us are gone, the people are
left standing, and South America is South America, with its own voice.

Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University, is the
author, most recently, of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's
Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan). He serves on the editorial committee
of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA).


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Against Literary Imperialism: Storming the Barricades of the Canon
Bruce Robbins
Monthly Review
Sept 2009

Bruce Robbins is professor of English and Comparative Literature at
Columbia University and author of The Servant's Hand (1986). This is the
foreword to a new edition of Jonah Raskin's The Mythology of Imperialism:
A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern
Age (Monthly Review Press, 2009).

My copy of The Mythology of Imperialism, the 1973 paperback that sold for
$2.75, has lots of notes in the margins. They're excited notes, not always
comprehensible now, from the first course I ever taught, a small
unofficial seminar on literature and imperialism. I've lost the syllabus,
but I remember that we read Raskin's books: Kipling, Conrad, Forster, and
Orwell. I'm not sure I would have had the idea, or the courage, to follow
that syllabus in my second or third year of graduate school teaching if
The Mythology of Imperialism hadn't made its miraculous, incandescent
appearance. I certainly wouldn't have known which writers to teach, or for
that matter how to start talking about them. This was before Edward W.
Said's Orientalism appeared in 1978, before the academic field of
postcolonial studies had been invented. There must have been more advanced
people out there - it sometimes seemed to me that everybody at Harvard was
more advanced than I was - but if they had figured out why and how
imperialism mattered to us, they weren't raising their hands and making
speeches about it in any of the classes I took.

Many of us students seemed to be leading more or less schizophrenic lives,
marching for civil rights or against the war in Vietnam one day and the
rest of the time dutifully soaking up the books and ideas we were
presented with, more or less in the form in which they were presented. I
for one had not yet imagined that there might be some connection between
the world of books and ideas, on the one hand, and on the other, the
scorching passion my friends and I felt about America's various military
aggressions and its support for the world's petty tyrants and human rights
abusers. Without Jonah Raskin's help, I don't know when or if the
possibility of such a connection might have hit homewhen - or if I would
imagine that it was possible not just to become an academic (which already
seemed a bit of a stretch) but to become that more glorious thing I had
read about in Saul Bellow, an intellectual.

Raskin himself urged his readers to aim higher. In his introduction he
describes the book as "a weapon for the revolution". On the last page he
suggests that the goal is "to be a writer and a political and cultural
revolutionary". What I took from him was a target somewhat more modest,
but only somewhat. To be an intellectual, as I understand it, means to
live the life of the mind as fully as possible in your own historical
moment, and in relation to that moment. It means that when you think, you
are not just thinking about certain concepts or problems or authors, you
are also trying to satisfy the most urgent ethical and political demands
your own historical moment makes upon you. Which means that while you're
reading and thinking, you also have to be listening carefully to your
time. For Raskin, there was no doubt about what the demands of our time
were. The word for our moment was imperialism. "I decided to write about
imperialism," he declares, "because it is the total reality of our time".
Our responsibility was to reconsider everything we knew, or thought we
knew, in the light of that reality.

To call imperialism a total reality, as if there were nothing about
anyone's life that was not permeated by it and given its definitive
meaning by imperialism, was to make a large and, to my mind, controversial
claim. (It suggests that no good thing is untaintedthat - no good thing is
really, finally, good.) But as a first move, it was brilliant. Among the
various names for injustice, were there any that legitimately linked with
so much of the history in play at that moment?  Various movements of
national liberation had of course triumphed by 1971, when the hardback
edition of Raskin's book came out, but others were still ongoing. The
recent emergence of black militancy at home seemed to resonate with
anti-colonial struggles abroad. The United States was still at war in
Vietnam. Behind the excuse of containing communism, it was
enthusiastically supporting military dictatorships, armed insurgencies,
and death squads around the world. It was also arranging, not
coincidentally, for as much as possible of the world's wealth to be
enjoyed within our borders and, as far as possible, for the major
inconveniences of the capitalist system to be experienced at a distance by
non-citizens. In short, the United States was directly and indirectly
responsible, through its policies and through its consumerist life style,
for incalculable human suffering, especially (this was important) outside
its borders. Meanwhile, in the American universities, where the Western
cultural heritage was preserved, transmitted, and interpreted, there had
been little if any systematic re-interpretation of that heritage from the
perspective of a world that was suddenly much larger and less obviously
centered in Europe and the European settler colonies. As Raskin put it,
"To date, literary and cultural historians have not reckoned with
imperialism".

If imperialism is indeed a total reality that touches everything and
contaminates everything it touches, one might imagine that Raskin's
reckoning with it would be utterly merciless. Under inspection, how could
the Western cultural heritage look anything but, well, imperialist?
Cowardly academics could be expected to stop short of this conclusion; by
undermining the customary rationale for preserving and transmitting the
Western cultural heritage, they could risk getting put out of a job.
Raskin, however, sounds happy not to have an academic job. He presents
himself as an escapee from the prison-like classroom who is now
participating enthusiastically in what he calls, after D. H. Lawrence,
"life". He has no institutional motive to pull his punches. And as the
word mythology in the title suggests, he doesn't. All of these writers are
shown in one way or another to have supported the project of imperialism.
Yet for Raskin, that's not the end of the story. Somehow he manages to
make his case without giving up his respect for the Western cultural
heritage. One of the book's many surprises, and a reason why it has stood
up so well over four decades, is the extraordinary generosity shown to the
works discussed.

In his first-edition introduction, titled "Bombard the Critics," Raskin
does just that. He blasts critics like F. R. Leavis and Lionel Trilling
for building modern literature into a great tradition that ignores
imperialism and encourages political passivity. Even Raymond Williams, who
is clearly a more positive inspiration here, is criticized for being too
Eurocentric. But by attacking the critics, Raskin pulls off a neat trick:
he spares the works themselves, or at least deflects political anger away
from them. Thus he can use those same works, or equally canonical ones, to
set up a counter-tradition. Before the period of 1880 to 1920 "the
Victorians were conscious of their empire," but the empire remained
peripheral to the Victorian novel. "In Victorian novels the colonies are
usually places to transfer burned-out characters, or from which to
retrieve characters when they were needed. . . . The plot began - or
flagging interest was revived - when a character returned from abroad, and
the action terminated when the characters left for the colonies. For the
Victorians existence meant existence in England". Raskin observes that
those English writers who did talk about empire, and who are his primary
subjects - Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, E. M. Forster, George Orwell,
and Joyce Cary - did a pretty unsatisfactory job of it. And yet he finds a
good deal to celebrate in what they managed to say.

This is all the more surprising because Raskin's standards of judgment are
very demanding, at least by comparison with the standards that have become
habitual in academic criticism. Since the culture wars of the 1990s,
academic critics have taken a certain amount of flak in the press over
their supposed lack of reverence for the great works of the past. They are
supposed to spend their time brutally interrogating the classics in the
name of recently erected standards of which past authors could have had no
inkling: gender, race, class, and other politically correct
preoccupations. Like so much of what the press says, this turns out not to
be true. Modern university departments don't waterboard their authors. But
Raskin, who is proud to say that his book was written "outside the sterile
atmosphere of academia," takes an even harder line than the one that is
imaginatively projected onto academics today. His book is dedicated to Ho
Chi Minh. The epigraph is from Fidel Castro. What he wants from literature
is solidarity with the Revolution.

Gazing back on 1971 a decade or so into the twenty-first century, this
seems a lot to stipulate. What if the revolutionary movements aren't
there? (I leave aside the tricky but significant question of what
"revolutionary" meant back then - how much overlap there was and was not
between anti-imperialist struggles for national independence and genuine
movements of social revolution.) If the standard is Revolution, then very
little literature would seem to measure up. That includes Raskin's own
favorite writers. He likes Gulley Jimson, protagonist of Joyce Cary's The
Horse's Mouth, a colorful institution-hating anarchist. "But," we are
told, Jimson "is not quite a revolutionary.... Cary's people are cut off
from revolutionary movements". E. M. Forster also fails this test. "It is
Forster's crippling defect," Raskin concludes, "that he is unable to
imagine revolutionary alternatives". The inability to imagine
revolutionary alternatives, at least alternatives that are not subject to
lengthy utopian delay, seems to be a general failing, now as then. The
novel as a genre doesn't much like revolutions. "If Conrad could have
looked ahead a bit further than his own times," Raskin writes, "he would
have seen that Decoud's descendant is Regis Debray.... The alienated
intellectual becomes an engage, an enrage, a guerrilla". Well, okay. But
if Raskin could have looked ahead a bit further, he would have seen
Debray's transformation from a militant Third Worldist to a defender of
the French Republic. Despite the ongoing travails of so much of what used
to be called the Third World, Third Worldism now is not what it was.
That's why Che could become, as he is for many today, an unthreatening
object of nostalgia.

Raskin can be intellectually magnanimous in part because, much as he might
have liked his authors to gaze prophetically beyond their moments, he is
willing to give them credit for merely getting deep into their moments.
Temporarily suspending the standard of revolution, he applies another
criterion that is a bit easier to meet. He asks what these authors managed
to say about the contradictions of their time, including contradictions or
paradoxes they themselves were unable to overcome in their own lives: "The
Conrad paradox is that he detests both empire and revolution".  This
paradoxdetesting - the status quo, but being unready to embrace the
political means necessary to change the status quogoes - to the heart of
Conrad's work, but it also speaks directly to a condition that has
obviously persisted. As does Forster's pithy analysis of his own Victorian
background: "In came the nice fat dividends, up went the lofty thoughts".

Like Forster, Raskin has a great eye for passing instants and tableaux
that suddenly sum up a life or a social situation. In Carlyle, for
example, he discovers the perfect rationale for imperialism in a simple
invocation of Third World raw materials: "noble elements of cinnamon,
sugar, coffee, pepper black and grey, lying all asleep, awaiting the white
enchanter who should say to them, Awake!" On Kipling, he writes: "Every
morning before he awoke his face was shaven clean by an Indian.... Only
the comforting illusion that Indians loved the English could free him from
the continual fear of the barber's razor". Haunted houses in India are
said to contain "the bodies of dead Englishmen murdered by their
servants". The year after I read The Mythology of Imperialism I started
writing my doctoral dissertation, which was about servants in the novel.
My point of departure was a comic passage in Thackeray's Vanity Fair where
a servant, asked to shave his master, thinks for a moment that the master
has gone crazy and wants him to slit his throat. I suppose I'll never know
whether Raskin was the origin of my dissertation, hence of my whole
academic career. It does not seem at all improbable. In those days other
critics were not talking about servants with razors.

Like Raymond Williams in Culture and Society, Raskin arranges his authors
by date of birth and pays loving attention to their biographies. (Though
the book doesn't use footnotes and generally wears its learning lightly,
it knows a lot more than it absolutely needs to. For example, Raskin has
scrutinized the drafts that various works went through, watching as the
politics are pulled in different directions. This is something you don't
bother to do if you are convinced in advance of your political
conclusions.) He makes us see his authors as people in historical context.
But he also admits that in historical context they rarely look very
attractive. Their political opinions, for example, tend to be severely
limited, at least by the standards of the 1970s Left. In order to be
generous to them, Raskin sometimes has to take them out of context again,
to separate the art from the artist. In this he follows the excellent
advice of D. H. Lawrence, one of his favorites: never trust the teller,
trust the tale. As it happens, this is also the advice of the central
tradition of Marxist literary criticism from Marx and Engels through Georg
Lukacs and Fredric Jameson. You can't deduce the politics of a work from
the politics of its author. At the same time, Raskin also implicitly
argues with the Lukacs tradition, which has never accepted that "the
principal contradiction in the world" is, in Raskin's words, the
contradiction "between the revolutionary peoples of Africa, Asia, and
Latin America and the imperial powers". Nor has it asked that writers be
revolutionaries.

Inconsistently but entertainingly, Raskin celebrates D. H. Lawrence for
any number of virtues, some of them personal rather than literary and all
of them falling well short of an ideal solidarity with revolution.
Lawrence is praised for revealing the true chaos that defenders of the
social order try to hide. He is praised for imagining hopefully, sometime
in the future, "a great united Europe of productive working people".  And
he is praised for leaving England in search of something he could not find
there, perhaps the causal link between the deadness of English life and
"life" in the strong sense, as it is lived in Italy or Mexico. Exile, an
important modernist theme, is crucial to Raskin's underlying argument for
his authors. It might look as if the modernists had given up on the
nineteenth-century realist project of bringing out the underlying dynamics
of their society - the project that is astonishingly renewed, for example,
in what Season 2 of the HBO series The Wire says about the history of
Baltimore longshoremen. Marxist criticism has often leveled this charge
against the writers of Raskin's period: too much exploration of
subjectivity, too much art for art's sake, too much exoticism. But for
Raskin, the novelist's personal experience of life outside Europe is one
wayperhaps - even the only way.of giving the novel the materials needed to
focus on the global contradiction between colonized and colonizer. Nothing
that can be said about England itself, not even the most probing
exploration of class conflict, will sufficiently illuminate conflict on
the global scale.

As a big fan of Victorian novels, even the stay-at-home kind, I'm tempted
to object that some of what Raskin says about the Victorians (not all of
which is negative - he does see important virtues in Dickens, Emily
Bronte, and even George Eliot) is tendentiously arranged to make the
contrasting case for the modernists who came afterward. Is there too much
resolution in the endings of Victorian novels?  Well, maybe, but it
depends on how good you are at recognizing loose ends, so to speak, that
carry the logic of the novel beyond its final distribution of reward and
punishment. These novels invest a lot of energy in issues that they cannot
finally resolve, and that they all but admit they cannot resolve. In this
sense, they do what Raskin's book also does: teach readers to recognize
the contradictions in their lives by following out the contradictions
lived by literary characters, even if no one can imagine any immediate or
likely resolution to those contradictions.

The writer Raskin feels closest to is probably Conrad. Conrad "is most
representative of his time," Raskin says, "because he stands in sharpest
opposition to it". But Raskin writes less like the perpetually agonized
Conrad and more like the crowd-pleasing Kipling, perpetually at home with
himself, who "untiringly carved out sharp, broad areas of contrast". There
is something of a tradition here: various figures of the left, from George
Orwell and Edmund Wilson to Edward W. Said, have had admiring things to
say about this active champion of imperialism. Raskin may not quite make
Kipling into a rebel (he tries), but he does have insightful things to say
about him. He places Kim and the lama on the road in the utopian tradition
of cross-racial buddies (Huck and Jim on the raft, Ishmael and Queequeg,
or for that matter, The Wire again). "Kipling arranges the plot so that
there is no conflict between Kim's commitment to imperialism and his love
for the lama".  Freedom in Kim doesn't mean colonial liberation; it means
- wandering - freedom from material things". Nonetheless, there's
something attractive about that freedom. For Raskin as for Said, this
ascetic, all-male, socially utopian freedom seems to transcend the
imperial context in which it emerges. Imperialism has its sneaky backdoor
pleasures.

As it turned out, the writers to whom Raskin is so generous belonged to a
dying canon. It's not that readers have lost interest in them. With the
possible exception of Joyce Cary, these writers have held up quite well.
But for anyone who cares about literature and imperialism, it has become
unthinkable to teach a course (as I did in the 1970s) that deals with
these writers alone. Raskin describes Nazim Hikmet's poem "Pierre Loti,"
which he includes as another epigraph to the book, as "A Voice from the
Third World". The phrase now sounds quaint. In 1971 voices from the Third
World were not yet part of the Euro-American canon. Many of the texts that
are now on the most-taught list of world literature or postcolonial
literature courses in the United States had not yet been written. It is
something of an understatement to say that in the decades that followed,
the canon was dramatically reshaped. Achebe, Soyinka, Mahfouz, Salih,
Djebar, Habibi, Faiz, Rushdie, Naipaul, C. L. R. James, Walcott, Lamming,
Emicheta, Dangarembga, Cesaire, Garcia Marquez, Fuentes, Cortazar - these
are only a few of the dozens and dozens of top-flight writers from former
colonies who were suddenly recognized, in the years after Raskin's book
came out, recognized not only for their literary virtues but as having
something indispensable to say about the meaning of imperialism. From this
point forth it was clear to all concerned that the Third World was now
representing itself. If you teach Conrad's Heart of Darkness today, you
have every reason to pair it with Season of Migration to the North, by the
great Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih, which both mimics and reverses Conrad
by sending its African protagonist up the Thames and into the heart of an
English darkness. Raskin's good guys are writers like George Washington
Cable and D. H. Lawrence: First World authors who did a more respectable
job with racism or colonialism than most of those around them. But now
that white First World authors are no longer being discussed exclusively,
it is not plausible to commend them in quite the same tone. Standards have
changed.

The other great change over the past forty years is of course a change in
the horizon of political expectations. There seemed almost no limit to
those expectations in 1971. Now, ten years into the new millennium, it's
hard to find in our (financially threatened) newspapers news of
flourishing social movements on which hopes like Raskin's could plausibly
alight. "I am writing this now," Raskin says, "with the certainty that the
oppressed will triumph over their oppressors. Imperialism, the American
death machine, will surely die". In the original edition, American was
spelled Amerikan. Readers even then differed over the politics of that k.
So soon after the inauguration of the country's first African-American
president, the gesture seems to have outlived whatever usefulness it once
had. But optimists, which is to say those who have decided to scale back
their hopes, still have some obligation to show that what they are making
their uneasy peace with is something better than a death machine.

George Orwell's failure, Raskin says, was "his failure to become a
rebel.... He, unlike Kipling, knows that the empire is 'despotism with
theft,' but he does not commit his life to toppling the despot from the
throne". Those of us who have not committed our lives to toppling despots
from the throne, despite all we know of despotism, may feel a bit
defensive about the smaller things to which we have committed ourselves.
Thinking back on how I've spent the decades since first reading The
Mythology of Imperialism, I can see it's all too possible to tell a sad
story of institutionalization. In this not unfamiliar telling, the
political energies of the 1960s would have gotten channeled into
universities and other existing institutions which, for all their lofty
humanistic and humanitarian aspirations, are not in the despot-toppling
business, and certainly not in the business of toppling themselves. Still,
there are other stories to tell. What initially turned me on in this book
was the sweet prospect of putting together political commitment with the
life of the mind. Rereading it now makes me feel that this prospect is
still very much alive. Commenting on Heart of Darkness, Raskin finds the
discovery "that behind your affluence lies another man's poverty, that
behind your ease lies another man's exploitation, that behind your life
lies another man's death, that your fate is inextricably connected with
the fate of millions of Black men and women whose existence you had
denied". Thanks to the timely reissue of Jonah Raskin's classic, many new
readers will be encouraged to make this discovery, and discoveries like
it.


--------19 of 19--------

 Factory damaged
 haikus - sixteen syllables -
 yours for half price.


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   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
                     over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02
              please send all messages in plain text no attachments

                          vote third party
                           for president
                           for congress
                          now and forever


                           Socialism YES
                           Capitalism NO


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 --------8 of x--------
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