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Greg Grandin reviews ‘Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War’ by Tanya Harmer · LRB 19 July 2012
"Harmer dispatches two myths favoured by those who blame the coup on Allende himself. The first is that his commitment to democracy was opportunistic and would soon have been abandoned. ‘One might even,’ Falcoff writes, ‘credit the Nixon administration with preventing the consolidation of Allende’s “totalitarian project”’. The second is that even if Allende wasn’t a fraud he was a fool, unleashing forces he could not control – for example, the left wing of Popular Unity, and the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria, which was further to the left of Allende’s coalition and drew inspiration from the Cuban Revolution, Cuba conceived here as a proxy for Moscow.

Harmer shows that Allende was a pacifist, a democrat and a socialist by conviction not convenience. He had an ‘unbending commitment to constitutional government’ and refused in the face of an ‘externally funded’ opposition ‘to take a different non-democratic or violent road’. He invoked history to insist that democracy and socialism were compatible, yet he knew that Chile’s experience was exceptional. During the two decades before his election, military coups had overthrown governments in 12 countries: Cuba in 1952; Guatemala and Paraguay in 1954; Argentina and Peru in 1962; Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and again Guatemala in 1963; Brazil and Bolivia in 1964; and Argentina once more in 1966. Many of these coups were encouraged and sanctioned by Washington and involved subverting exactly the kind of civil-society pluralism – of the press, political parties and unions – that Allende promoted. So he was sympathetic to the Cuban Revolution and respected Castro, especially after he survived the CIA’s Bay of Pigs exploit in 1961. And when Allende won the presidency, he relied on Cuban advisers for personal security and intelligence operations.

But Cuba’s turn to one-party authoritarianism only deepened Allende’s faith in the durability of Chilean democracy. Socialism could be won, he insisted, through procedures and institutions – the ballot, the legislature, the courts and the media – that historically had been dominated by those classes most opposed to it. Castro warned him that the military wouldn’t abide by the constitution. Until at least early 1973 Allende believed otherwise. His revolution would not be confronted with the choice that had been forced on Castro: suspend democracy or perish. But by mid-1973, events were escaping Allende’s command. On 11 September he took his own life, probably with a gun Castro gave him as a gift. The left in the years after the coup developed its own critique of Allende: that, as the crisis hurtled toward its conclusion, he proved indecisive, failing to arm his supporters and train resistance militias, failing to shut down congress and failing to defend the revolution the way Castro defended his. Harmer presents these as conscious decisions, stemming from Allende’s insistence that neither one-party rule nor civil war was an acceptable alternative to defeat.

A photograph of Allende taken during his last hours shows him leaving the presidential palace, pistol in hand and helmet on head, flanked by bodyguards and looking up at the sky, watching for the bombs. The image is powerful yet deceptive, giving the impression that Allende had been at the palace when the coup started, and was beginning to organise resistance to it. But Allende wasn’t trapped in his office. He’d gone there earlier that morning, despite being advised not to, when he heard that his generals had rebelled. The Cubans were ready to arm and train a Chilean resistance and, Harmer writes, ‘to fight and die alongside Allende and Chilean left-wing forces in a prolonged struggle to defend the country’s revolutionary process’. But Allende ordered them not to put their plans into operation, and they listened: ‘The Chilean president,’ Harmer says, ‘was therefore far more in control of Cuba’s involvement in his country than previously thought.’ He also rejected the idea of retreating to the outskirts of Santiago and leading an armed resistance: in Harmer’s assessment, he committed suicide rather than give up his commitment to non-violent revolution.

Many, in Chile and elsewhere, refused to believe that Allende had killed himself. The story had to be that he was executed, like Zapata, Sandino, Guevara and others who died at the hands of traitors. Che fought to the end and had no illusions about the bourgeoisie and its democratic credentials. Allende’s legacy is more ambiguous, especially for today’s revived Latin American left, which despite its remarkable electoral success in recent decades still struggles to tame the market forces set free after the Chilean coup. In 2009 in Honduras, for instance, and last month in Paraguay, democratically elected presidents were unseated by ‘constitutional coups’. In both countries, their opponents dressed up what were classic putsches in the garb of democratic proceduralism, taking advantage of vague impeachment mechanisms to restore the status quo ante.

For Brazil’s Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), founded in 1980 by militant trade unionists including the future president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the coup in Chile reinforced the need to work with centrist parties to restore constitutional rule. Social issues weren’t completely sidelined, but attaining stability took precedence over class struggle; for the first time in Latin American history, a major left-wing party found itself fighting for political democracy as a value in itself, not as part of a broader campaign for social rights. ‘I thought a lot about what happened with Allende in Chile,’ Lula once said, referring to the polarisation that followed the 1970 election, when the Popular Unity coalition won with only a bit more than a third of the vote. That’s why he agreed to set the bar high for a PT win. During the Constituent Assembly debates leading up to the promulgation of Brazil’s 1988 post-dictatorship constitution, Lula insisted that if no one candidate received a majority in the first round of a presidential election, a run-off had to be held between the top two contenders, which would both give the winner more legitimacy and force him or her to reach out beyond the party base. Like Allende, Lula stood for president three times before winning at his fourth attempt. Unlike Allende, though, each time Lula ran and lost and ran again, he gave up a little bit more of the PT’s founding principles, so that the party went from pledging to overturn neoliberalism to promising to administer it more effectively.

In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez drew a different lesson from the defeat of the Popular Unity government. Soon after he was elected president in 1998, before coming out as a confrontationalist, indeed before he even identified himself as a socialist, Chávez began to compare himself to Allende. Wealthy Venezuelans were mobilising against even the mildest economic reforms, as their Chilean predecessors had done, taking to the streets, banging their pots and pans, attacking the government through their family-owned TV stations and newspapers, beating a path to the US embassy to complain, and taking money from Washington to fund their anti-government activities. In response, Chávez began to talk about 1973. ‘Like Allende, we are pacifists,’ he said of his supporters, including those in the military. ‘And like Allende, we are democrats. Unlike Allende, we are armed.’ The situation got worse and worse, culminating in the coup of April 2002 which, though unsuccessful, looked very like the coup against Allende. Chávez found himself trapped in the national palace speaking to Castro on the phone, telling him he was ready to die for the cause. Ever the pragmatist, Castro urged him to live to fight another day: ‘Don’t do what Allende did!’"
greggrandin  salvadorallende  history  marxism  socialism  democracy  2012  tanyaharmer  venezuela  economics  inequality  class  pacifism  cuba  fidelcastro  brazil  brasil  lula  luladasilva  latinamerica  us  richardnixon  intervention  revolution  government  argentina  honduras  guatemala  paraguay  perú  bolivia  hugochávez  pinochet  chile  henrykissinger  tanyharmer  coldwar  markfalcoff  dilmarousseff  authoritarianism  dictatorship 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Episode 906:The Chicago Boys, Part II : Planet Money : NPR
[This two-parter is, overall, super light-handed on the coup and doesn't investigate enough how Allende's policies were sabotaged by the US and thus the state of the Chilean economy in 1973 was not an indication of their effectiveness, but leaving it here for future reference.]

"This is the second part in our series on Marxism and capitalism in Chile. You can find the first episode here. [https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/10/711918772/episode-905-the-chicago-boys-part-i ]

In the early seventies, Chile, under Marxist President Salvador Allende, was plagued by inflation, shortages, and a crushing deficit. After a violent coup in 1973, the economy became the military's problem.

Led by Augusto Pinochet, the military assigned a group of economists to help turn around Chile's economy. They had trained at the University of Chicago. They came to be known as the Chicago Boys.

Today's show is about the economic "shock treatment" they launched. It eventually set Chile on a path to prosperity, but it did so at an incredible human cost. One that Chileans are still grappling with today."

["#905: The Chicago Boys, Part I" description:

"Chile is one of the wealthiest, most stable economies in South America. But to understand how Chile got here--how it became the envy of neighboring countries --you have to know the story of a group of Chilean students who came to study economics at the University of Chicago. A group that came to be known as the Chicago Boys.

In the 1960s, their country was embracing socialism. But the Chicago Boys would take the economic ideas they had learned at Chicago and turn them into policies in Chile. They ended up on the front lines of a bloody battle between Marxism and capitalism, democracy and dictatorship."]

[via: "Detainees would be electrocuted, water boarded, had their heads forced into buckets of urine and excrement, suffocated with bags, hanged by their feet or hands and beaten. Many women were raped and for some detainees, punishment was death." https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/1118167201846968320

who also points to the source of that quote: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/09/life-under-pinochet-they-were-taking-turns-electrocute-us-one-after-other/ ]
chile  chicagoboys  economics  policy  politics  2019  history  pinochet  salvadorallende  miltonfriedman  dictatorship  coup  democracy  capitalism  socialism  authoritarianism  noelking  jasminegarsd  cia  us  intervention  propaganda  marxism  cuba  fidelcastro  cubanrevolution  neoliberalism  freemarketcapitalism  cuotas  finance  financialization  wealth 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Harvest of Empire – Harvest of Empire
[Available on YouTube, for now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyncOYTZfHE ]

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_of_Empire:_A_History_of_Latinos_in_America ]

"The Untold Story of Latinos in America

“We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies 
are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.”
Juan González, Harvest of Empire

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Onyx Films is proud to present Harvest of Empire, a feature-length documentary that reveals the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S.

As Juan González says at the beginning of the film “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.”

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists María Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada."
film  documentary  us  history  immigration  latinamerica  puertorico  mexico  guatemala  honduras  juangonzález  cuba  nicaragua  elsalvador  rigobertamenchú  jessejackson  anthonyromero  junotdíaz  lorenzomeyer  maríahinojosa  geraldorivera  2011  martínespada  luisenrique  dominicanrepublic  latinos  imperialism  politics  policy  foreignpolicy  braceros  wwii  ww2  civilrights  race  racism  migration  communism  redscare  centralamerica  caribbean  colonialism  socialism  capitalism  fidelcastro  rafaeltrujillo  spanish-americanwar  inequality  exploitation  sugar  cotton  revolution  resistance  fulgenciobatista  dictatorships  oppression  deportation  texas  california  newmexico  arizona  mexican-americanwar  nevada  colorado  florida  nyc  óscarromero  harrytruman  democracy  jacoboárbenz  unitedfruitcompany  eisenhower  cia  intervention  maya  ethniccleansing  land  ownership  civilwar  iran-contraaffair  ronaldreagan  sandinistas  contras  war  bayofpigs  refugees  marielboatlift  1980  jimmycarter  language  spanish  español  miami  joaquínbalaguer  hectortruji 
july 2018 by robertogreco
mordeaux🌹 on Twitter: "Who can forget the rallying cry of the Paris Commune: “To the barricades comrades! And once there we will remember to be realistic about our demands!”"
"Who can forget the rallying cry of the Paris Commune: “To the barricades comrades! And once there we will remember to be realistic about our demands!”

And of course the closing line of the Communist Manifesto: “Workers of the world unite with the progressive elements of the bourgeoisie, you have nothing to lose but your chains and a world to incrementally gain over time so long as it does not disrupt the market”

As the preamble to the IWW constitution says: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common, except for a genuine desire to make capitalism more humane.”

As Lenin said in 1917: “A fair and reasonable amount of power to the Soviets!”

In the words of Rosa Luxemburg: “Concessions or barbarism!”

The great Fred Hampton: “You can kill a revolutionary, and you probably should unless you want bad news coverage for your movement.”

James Connolly: “The Irish people will only be free, when they can affordably rent everything from the plough to the stars.”

Most importantly Eugene V. Debs: “I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I will be careful talking openly about prison abolition.”

Thomas Sankara: “We must dare to somewhat improve the future!”

A great one from Fidel Castro: “I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating... because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition. But hey, what are ya gonna do? They have drones now 🤷‍♀️”

In the words of Ho Chi Minh: “The Vietnamese people deeply love independence, freedom and peace. But in the face of United States aggression they have strategically gained a few non-reformist reforms and that’s really all they can hope for.”

Mao: “All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality, they are made of paper so we have to be very gentle with them and not upset them too much.”

A poignant point from Hugo Chavez: “We must reduce all the emissions that are destroying the planet. However, that requires a change in lifestyle, a change in the economic model: We must go from capitalism to a free market solution that will encourage new efficient technology”

A personal favorite from Assata Shakur: “Everybody in the world, everybody in history, has always gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”

Patrice Lumumba: “The only thing which we wanted for our country is the right to a worthy life, to dignity without pretence, to independence without restrictions. This was never the desire of the Belgian colonialists and their Western allies and it’s important to hear both sides”

Angela Davis: “As a black woman, my politics and political affiliation are bound up with and flow from participation in my people's struggle for liberation, and with the fight of oppressed people all over the world against Bernie bros”

Big Bill Haywood: “If one man has a dollar he didn't work for, some other man worked and received a fair market rate for his time.”

Karl Marx: “The executive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for fairly balancing the interests of labor against the realities of the market”"
humor  socialism  communism  capitalism  centrism  politics  democrats  mikemordowanec  vi:justincharles  karlmarx  markets  labor  work  rosaluxemburg  eugenedebs  fredhampton  thomassankara  lenin  iww  hochiminh  assatashakur  patricelumumba  angeladavis  billhaywood  fidelcastro  maozedong  vladimirlenin  hugochávez 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Joamette Kills on Twitter: "Fidel Castro is dead and I am full of emotions."
"Fidel Castro is dead and I am full of emotions.

Disclaimer before I even talk: if you're not Cuban, I don't give a fuck what you think about what I'm about to say.

I found out he was dead when I woke up this morning. I have no comparison for everything I felt at that moment. It was too much.

Fidel is a man who lived 90 miles away from me, who everyone in my family wished was dead, vocally, for as long as I can remember.

Fidel was a man who unwittingly lead to my existence: my parents met as teens in the Miami exile community.

It's a strange feeling when a man you've never known played a pivotal role in your conception - then he dies. Mirrors my actual father.

This moment is also strange for me as a bi-racial Cuban. There are very few Afro-Cubans in Miami. There's a reason.

Cuba became a much Blacker nation after several waves of exiles left. Most exiles were white and white-ish Cubans. They could afford to go.

The first wave of exiles where the wealthiest. Many already had property in Miami they could move into.

That was slightly before the revolution was won. A little after, people began to deport their children en masse to avoid indoctrination.

My family arrived in the last of the great waves of Cuban immigration to the US, broke into Peru's embassy, claimed asylum.

My skinny little mother, 12 years old in 1980, crushed in a tiny boat sent over from Florida, made her way with abuela and 2 brothers to US.

Ultimately, America's promise of capitalist mobility did not pay off for us. Do not scoff at free healthcare and education. Don't scoff -

- at my family's suffering under US capitalism.

The US education system failed my Black immigrant mother. The healthcare system has failed her sick body and ailing mind.

No, Cuba is not a utopia. Yes, it is a dictatorship, with or without Fidel. Yes, the US kills dissidents, too, abroad moreso than at home.

No, it's not justified to limit the freedom of speech and association of your people. No, it's not justified to claim absolute power.

Yet my stomach rolls over looking at the photos from Miami right now. Light-skinned Cubans mourning the privilege that was ripped from them.

Light-skinned Cubans celebrating in the streets because the man that stole their mansions to create housing for the poor is DEAD.

I can oppose so much of what Castro did without feeling glee over his death nor solidarity with the white Cuban elite who ALSO voted Trump.

Being a Cuban right now is way more complicated if you would have been just as poor before Castro as you would have been after.

The popular opinion right now in Cuba is torn. Younger folks don't really a give a shit that he's dead. Folks in their 50s mourning the -

- person that fed them, housed them, when elite ran away and took all their money with them.

My greatest wish for Cuba is greater personal liberties, civil rights, mainly freedom of speech and the press.

I want democracy in Cuba. What I fear now is corporate oligarchy gaining a foothold on the island. No matter what you think about all -

- this, one thing is 100% fucking true: capitalism is a poison."
joamettekills  fidelcastro  cuba  2016  history  race  racism  capitalism  dictatorships  nuance  housing  inequality  oligarchy  healthcare  education  afro-cubans 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Ejike 🇳🇬 on Twitter: "To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823"
[Thread]

"Viva Fidel. Your revolutionary courage & your commitment to fighting for the self-determination of the Cuban people will never be forgotten

[URL bookmarked] To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823

It's important to note that the US in the early 19th century wasn't strong enough to stop Europe from colonizing Latin America... not yet

That ended in the late 1800s. Look up the Cuban War of Independence where the Cuban people had been whooping the Spanish colonial government

As Cuba was on the verge of liberating itself from Spanish control America intervened in what is shamefully dubbed the Spanish-American war

In 1898 the US intervened in order to "liberate" Cuba frm its humanitarian crisis which was a cover to prevent Cuba frm becoming independent

From 1898 Cuba practically served as an agricultural-colonial plantation for the United States up until Fidel Castro in 1959

In other words, the "Spanish-American war" was really a fight for who got to control Cuba & its resources. America consolidating its empire

I'm not sorry for giving a quick history lesson bc you cannot understand Fidel Castro if you don't understand America as an empire

Fidel Castro with his brilliant use of guerrilla tactics beat the Cuban army over and over again with only a few hundred soldiers

After Fidel Castro overthrew the undemocratic Batista government in 1959, the US in fearing is declining control went berserk!!!

People who talk about Cuba's problems conveniently leave out 58 years of economic blockade, invasion, assassination by the US

Never mind the 630 some assassination attempts made on Fidel Castro the sanctions & absolute terrorism on the Cuban people is reprehensible

The US embargo is literally anything to destroy Cuba's economy. And guess who started this war on Cuba… Your Democratic president JFK

For 9 administrations in a row the US has done everything in its power to destroy Cuba & every time they have failed thanks to Fidel Castro

I don't think there is a country that has been invaded and exposed to more terror by the US in the Western Hemisphere

The literacy rate of Cuba is at 99.8% which is higher than both the US and the UK thanks to Fidel Castro

The infant mortality rate is lower in Cuba than it is in the United States thanks to Fidel Castro

Cuba after being a country in 3rd world conditions now enjoys one of the highest life expectancy's in the world thanks to Fidel Castro

When Nelson Mandela was released one of the first places he went was Havana bc Cuba played one of the biggest roles in ending apartheid

Thanks to Fidel Castro Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors to patients anywhere else in the world in fact Cuba's biggest export is doctors

Thanks to Fidel Castro education in Cuba from kindergarten all the way up to the PhD level is FREE no exceptions

Thanks to Fidel Castro healthcare in Cuba is not a privilege determined by economic status but a human right given to ALL free of charge

Thanks to Fidel Castro, even with the vicious sanctions by the US, Cuba has managed to almost totally eliminate homelessness

To people who want to be critical of Fidel Castro I ask you what would've become of Cuba if the US did not issue its devastating sanctions

The economic strangulation that the US has been engaged in towards Cuba are so SEVERE that they can be considered an act of aggression

The angry Cubans in Florida that you here chastise Fidel Castro are all mysteriously neoliberal capitalists. That should raise red flags

Yes that little socialist island of Cuba has made mistakes but I would've made mistakes too if the US tried to assassinate me over 600 times

Y'all should RT all of these tweets to let everybody know that the US propaganda machine is wrong about Cuba and wrong about Fidel Castro

That Cubans can even provide basic services to its ppl despite being terrorized by the biggest bully in the world 90 miles away...

I love how everybody who is critiquing Fidel Castro sounds just like FOXNews right now. That's great

I REST MY CASE!!!Ejike 🇳🇬 added, RT: "Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Fidel Castro is dead!" https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/802499192237080576

Trump and Fox News is celebrating the death of Fidel Castro and that still doesn't make people take pause

Every leader who defies US power is deemed a mass murderer and a threat to humanity

Every deficiency in Cuba can seriously be traced back to the economic warfare, subversion, assassination and invasion attempts by the US

Assata Shakur, a courageous revolutionary black woman, was granted political asylum from the US by which country... Cuba

I find it fascinating that the US wants Cuba to know the US is a friend when it still hasn't lifted the embargo RT: "Obama's statement on Castro [image] https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/nov/26/fidel-castro-death-cuban-leader-live-updates " https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/802533786739216384

The US embargo has cost Cuba $753.69 billion. Don't forget to mention that when you're talking about the lack of pristine services in Cuba

#FidelCastro overthrew a dictatorship and then was besieged by the strongest military power in the history of the world. Start there

Look at some the absurd ways the United States tried to assassinate #FidelCastro http://www.vox.com/2016/11/26/13752514/us-fidel-castro-assassination "
fidelcastro  us  cuba  history  2016  monroedoctrine  imperialism  communism  socialism  nelsonmandela  apartheid  latinamerica  healthcare  education  literacy  homelessness  economics  subversion  assassination  invasion  spanish-americanwar  blockade  assatashakur  donaldtrump  barackobama  jfk  johnfkennedy 
november 2016 by robertogreco
"A Talk to Teachers" James Baldwin, 1963
"Since I am talking to schoolteachers and I am not a teacher myself, and in some ways am fairly easily intimidated, I beg you to let me leave that and go back to what I think to be the entire purpose of education in the first place. It would seem to me that when a child is born, if I’m the child’s parent, it is my obligation and my high duty to civilize that child. Man is a social animal. He cannot exist without a society. A society, in turn, depends on certain things which everyone within that society takes for granted. Now the crucial paradox which confronts us here is that the whole process of education occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of society. Thus, for example, the boys and girls who were born during the era of the Third Reich, when educated to the purposes of the Third Reich, became barbarians. The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around. What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeeds in this, that society is about to perish. The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it – at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.


Now, if what I have tried to sketch has any validity, it becomes thoroughly clear, at least to me, that any Negro who is born in this country and undergoes the American educational system runs the risk of becoming schizophrenic. On the one hand he is born in the shadow of the stars and stripes and he is assured it represents a nation which has never lost a war. He pledges allegiance to that flag which guarantees “liberty and justice for all.” He is part of a country in which anyone can become president, and so forth. But on the other hand he is also assured by his country and his countrymen that he has never contributed anything to civilization – that his past is nothing more than a record of humiliations gladly endured. He is assumed by the republic that he, his father, his mother, and his ancestors were happy, shiftless, watermelon-eating darkies who loved Mr. Charlie and Miss Ann, that the value he has as a black man is proven by one thing only – his devotion to white people. If you think I am exaggerating, examine the myths which proliferate in this country about Negroes.

All this enters the child’s consciousness much sooner than we as adults would like to think it does. As adults, we are easily fooled because we are so anxious to be fooled. But children are very different. Children, not yet aware that it is dangerous to look too deeply at anything, look at everything, look at each other, and draw their own conclusions. They don’t have the vocabulary to express what they see, and we, their elders, know how to intimidate them very easily and very soon. But a black child, looking at the world around him, though he cannot know quite what to make of it, is aware that there is a reason why his mother works so hard, why his father is always on edge. He is aware that there is some reason why, if he sits down in the front of the bus, his father or mother slaps him and drags him to the back of the bus. He is aware that there is some terrible weight on his parents’ shoulders which menaces him. And it isn’t long – in fact it begins when he is in school – before he discovers the shape of his oppression."



"What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s heroic ancestors. It’s astounding to me, for example, that so many people really appear to believe that the country was founded by a band of heroes who wanted to be free. That happens not to be true. What happened was that some people left Europe because they couldn’t stay there any longer and had to go someplace else to make it. That’s all. They were hungry, they were poor, they were convicts. Those who were making it in England, for example, did not get on the Mayflower. That’s how the country was settled. Not by Gary Cooper. Yet we have a whole race of people, a whole republic, who believe the myths to the point where even today they select political representatives, as far as I can tell, by how closely they resemble Gary Cooper. Now this is dangerously infantile, and it shows in every level of national life. When I was living in Europe, for example, one of the worst revelations to me was the way Americans walked around Europe buying this and buying that and insulting everybody – not even out of malice, just because they didn’t know any better. Well, that is the way they have always treated me. They weren’t cruel; they just didn’t know you were alive. They didn’t know you had any feelings.

What I am trying to suggest here is that in the doing of all this for 100 years or more, it is the American white man who has long since lost his grip on reality. In some peculiar way, having created this myth about Negroes, and the myth about his own history, he created myths about the world so that, for example, he was astounded that some people could prefer Castro, astounded that there are people in the world who don’t go into hiding when they hear the word “Communism,” astounded that Communism is one of the realities of the twentieth century which we will not overcome by pretending that it does not exist. The political level in this country now, on the part of people who should know better, is abysmal.

The Bible says somewhere that where there is no vision the people perish. I don’t think anyone can doubt that in this country today we are menaced – intolerably menaced – by a lack of vision.

It is inconceivable that a sovereign people should continue, as we do so abjectly, to say, “I can’t do anything about it. It’s the government.” The government is the creation of the people. It is responsible to the people. And the people are responsible for it. No American has the right to allow the present government to say, when Negro children are being bombed and hosed and shot and beaten all over the Deep South, that there is nothing we can do about it. There must have been a day in this country’s life when the bombing of the children in Sunday School would have created a public uproar and endangered the life of a Governor Wallace. It happened here and there was no public uproar.

I began by saying that one of the paradoxes of education was that precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person. And on the basis of the evidence – the moral and political evidence – one is compelled to say that this is a backward society. Now if I were a teacher in this school, or any Negro school, and I was dealing with Negro children, who were in my care only a few hours of every day and would then return to their homes and to the streets, children who have an apprehension of their future which with every hour grows grimmer and darker, I would try to teach them - I would try to make them know – that those streets, those houses, those dangers, those agonies by which they are surrounded, are criminal. I would try to make each child know that these things are the result of a criminal conspiracy to destroy him. I would teach him that if he intends to get to be a man, he must at once decide that his is stronger than this conspiracy and they he must never make his peace with it. And that one of his weapons for refusing to make his peace with it and for destroying it depends on what he decides he is worth. I would teach him that there are currently very few standards in this country which are worth a man’s respect. That it is up to him to change these standards for the sake of the life and the health of the country. I would suggest to him that the popular culture – as represented, for example, on television and in comic books and in movies – is based on fantasies created by very ill people, and he must be aware that these are fantasies that have nothing to do with reality. I would teach him that the press he reads is not as free as it says it is – and that he can do something about that, too. I would try to make him know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger – and that it belongs to him. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediencies of any given administration, any given policy, any given morality; that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything. I would try to show him that one has not learned anything about Castro when one says, “He is a Communist.” This is a way of his not learning something about Castro, something about Cuba, something, in time, about the world. I would suggest to him that his is living, at the moment, in an enormous province. America is not the world and if America is going to become a nation, she must find a way – and this child must help her to find a way to use the tremendous potential and tremendous energy which this child represents. If this country does not find a way to use that energy, it will be destroyed by that energy… [more]
jamesbaldwin  via:aworkinglibrary  neoliberalism  education  politics  race  1963  teaching  howweteach  racism  society  change  oppression  children  us  publicschools  history  government  policy  democracy  agency  communism  fidelcastro  cuba 
september 2016 by robertogreco
A New ‘Wrinkle in Time’ - WSJ
[Document viewer: http://graphics.wsj.com/documents/doc-cloud-embedder/?sidebar=1#1881486-a-wrinkle-in-time-excerpt

PDF of the document: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1881486/a-wrinkle-in-time-excerpt.pdf ]

"Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has sold 14 million copies since its publication in 1962. Now, a never-before-seen passage cut from an early draft is shedding surprising light on the author’s political philosophy"

"Madeleine L’Engle, the author of “A Wrinkle in Time,” resisted labels. Her books weren’t for children, she said. They were for people. Devoted to religious study, she bristled when called a Christian writer. And though some of her books had political themes, she wasn’t known to write overtly about politics. That is, until her granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, came across an unknown three-page passage that was cut before publication.

The passage, which Ms. Voiklis shared with The Wall Street Journal so it could be published for the first time, sheds new light on one of the most beloved and best-selling young-adult books in American literature. Published in 1962, “A Wrinkle in Time” has sold 14 million copies and inspired a TV-movie adaptation, a graphic novel, and an opera. Meg Murry, the novel’s strong-willed misfit heroine, has been a role model for generations of children, especially girls. Now, Jennifer Lee, the co-writer and co-director of the Oscar-winning animated film, “Frozen,” is writing a film adaptation for Disney.

A witches’ brew of science fiction and fantasy, Christian theology and a hint of politics, “A Wrinkle in Time” has long been considered influenced by the Cold War. It explores the dangers of conformity, and presents evil as a world whose inhabitants’ thoughts and actions are controlled by a sinister, disembodied brain.

Many readers, then and now, have understood the book’s dark planet Camazotz—a regimented place in which mothers in unison call their children in for dinner—to represent the Soviet Union. But the passage discovered by L’Engle’s granddaughter presents a more nuanced worldview.

In it, Meg has just made a narrow escape from Camazotz. As Meg’s father massages her limbs, which are frozen from a jarring trip through space and time, she asks: “But Father, how did the Black Thing—how did it capture Camazotz?” Her father proceeds to lay out the political philosophy behind the book in much starker terms than are apparent in the final version.

He says that yes, totalitarianism can lead to this kind of evil. (The author calls out examples by name, including Hitler, Mussolini and Khrushchev.) But it can also happen in a democracy that places too much value on security, Mr. Murry says. “Security is a most seductive thing,” he tells his daughter. “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.”

Ms. Voiklis said she wanted readers to know the book wasn’t a simple allegory of communism. Instead, it’s about the risk of any country—including a democracy—placing too much value on security. The tension between safety and personal freedom is an idea that resonates in today’s politics.

“It’s normal to be afraid,” said Ms. Voiklis, who manages her late grandmother’s estate full-time in New York. “But you can’t let the fear control your decisions. Otherwise, you risk becoming like Camazotz.”

Ms. Voiklis found the excerpt a few years ago, as she was doing research for the release of the book’s 50th-anniversary edition. It was part of the earliest surviving typewritten manuscript, which for years was stored in L’Engle’s home and later moved to storage.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a cultural touchstone. The Newbery Medal-winner was the first of five books in L’Engle’s so-called Time Quintet. On “Lost,” the television series whose cult following dissected its frequent literary references, the bookworm Sawyer reads a copy of “A Wrinkle in Time.”

The novel inspired author Rebecca Stead to write her own Newbery Medal-winning book, “When You Reach Me,” whose protagonist, Miranda, reads “A Wrinkle in Time.” L’Engle’s works have also sparked the interest of scholars in the U.S. and abroad. In 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published an oral history titled “Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices,” by literary historian and biographer Leonard S. Marcus.

A three-hour live-action television adaptation, originally conceived as a miniseries, was broadcast on ABC in 2004 and released on DVD. Distributed by Disney, the production didn’t impress L’Engle. “I expected it to be bad, and it is,” she told Newsweek.

L’Engle’s publisher, Macmillan, which in March released a paperback version of the graphic novel, said it has no plans to include the deleted passage in new editions.

Ms. Voiklis has shared the passage with Catherine Hand, a producer on the film adaptation in development by Walt Disney Pictures. It isn’t clear whether Ms. Lee will direct the film, and casting hasn’t been announced. Ms. Hand said it was too early to comment on the project.

“As an 11-year-old, I read ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and spent many a daydream and sleepless night imagining what it would be like to break free from the limitations of time,” Ms. Lee wrote last fall in a short piece for WSJ. Magazine, which invited her to write on the subject of the future.

Readers love the novel’s band of oddball characters: math-whiz Meg, who is miserable at school; her precocious, telepathic brother, Charles Wallace; Meg’s budding love-interest, Calvin; and a wacky trio of shape-shifting women —witches? angels?—who guide them on their dangerous journey.

“A wonderful aspect of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is its celebration of the different,” author Katherine Paterson wrote in the introduction to the 50th-anniversary edition. “In fact, hell, as it is embodied on Camazotz, is being exactly like everyone else.”

Scholars invited by the Journal to review the new passage say it offers a window into L’Engle’s thinking. The excerpt is the most direct discussion of politics in her writing, the scholars said, offering a richer explanation of the author’s political views.

They agreed with Ms. Voiklis that cutting it was the right decision, one which strengthened the narrative. The section was too didactic, and would have dated the book, some said. Suzanne Bray, a L’Engle scholar who teaches at Université Catholique de Lille in France, said the section likely was cut precisely because it was “too political, or too obviously political”—something the author generally avoided in her writing.

In the passage, Meg pushes back against her father’s argument about the dangers of fixating on security:

“Well—but I want to be secure, Father. I hate feeling insecure.”

“But you don’t love security enough so that you guide your life by it, Meg. You weren’t thinking of security when you came to rescue me with Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which.”

Naomi Wood, an associate professor at Kansas State University who has studied L’Engle, said she was intrigued by the conversation between Meg and her father. “It does confirm that L’Engle had the democratic, capitalist U.S. in mind as well as the autocratic, communist U.S.S.R.,” she said.

L’Engle was born in New York City in 1918. When she was 12 years old, her parents dropped her off without warning at a boarding school in Switzerland. It was a traumatic and isolating experience. She attended Smith College and was working as a novelist and theater understudy in New York when she fell in love with a fellow actor, Hugh Franklin.

After their first child, Ms. Voiklis’s mother, was born, they abandoned their theater careers and moved to rural Connecticut, where they ran a general store. L’Engle was restless there. Grappling with existential questions, she turned, by chance, to the writings of Albert Einstein and other physicists.

The names Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which popped into her head as she and her family drove through Arizona’s Painted Desert on a camping trip in the spring of 1959.

At the heart of the book is Meg, a temper-prone teen struggling to harness her intellectual gifts. She, Charles Wallace and Calvin travel through time and space to rescue Mr. Murry, a scientist who has gone missing on a secret assignment for the U.S. government.

Publishers didn’t know what to make of it and one after another rejected the manuscript.

“Today I am crawling around in the depths of gloom,” the author confided to her journal on Sept. 17, 1960, after a rejection from a publisher who suggested it be cut in half. “I’m willing to rewrite, to rewrite extensively, to cut as much as necessary; but I am not willing to mutilate, to destroy the essence of the book.”

L’Engle finally found a collaborator in John Farrar of Farrar, Straus and Co. (known today as Farrar, Straus and Giroux). But even he had misgivings. He took her to lunch with Hal Vursell, who would edit the book.

“They warned me, ‘Now, dear, we don’t want you to be disappointed, but this book is not going to sell. It’s much too difficult for children,’” L’Engle recalled in a foreword to the 25th-anniversary edition.

“The problem wasn’t that it was too difficult for children,” she wrote. “It was too difficult for adults.”

There is no known correspondence between L’Engle and her editor discussing the changes they made to “A Wrinkle in Time,” and the author’s journals don’t offer any clues, Ms. Voiklis said. So it isn’t clear whether Mr. Vursell proposed cutting the passage or the author decided to on her own. The various drafts aren’t dated or numbered, though Ms. Voiklis has assembled them in roughly chronological order.

Even without the new passage, the danger of conformity remained a strong theme in “A Wrinkle in Time”—and not just in the scenes on the dark planet Camazotz. Meg chafes… [more]
madeleinel'engle  awrinkleintime  security  totalitarianism  democracy  charlottejonesvoiklis  philosophy  politics  2015  sovietunion  jenniferlee  camazotz  rebeccastead  catherinehand  suzannebray  naomiwood  johnfarrar  farrarstrauss  benfritz  1960  hitler  mussolini  khrushchev  fidelcastro  maotsetung  franco 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Unfinished Spaces - 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival
"In 1961, in the heady first days of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro asked three visionary architects to build the Cuban National Arts Schools on what had been the golf course of a country club. Before construction was completed, the Revolution became Sovietized, and suddenly the project was denounced as bourgeoise and counter-revolutionary. The story has many more fascinating twists and turns, as these radical, magnificent buildings become a prism through which we see the turbulent, ever-shifting history of Castro's Cuba and follow the fates of the three architects, now in their 80s, who would get a second chance to revitalize their utopian project."
architecture  arts  cuba  via:javierarbona  history  fidelcastro  education 
may 2011 by robertogreco

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