Petition Prepared for Presentation to Nicholas II
January 9(22), 1905
We, workers and inhabitants of the city of St. Petersburg, members of various sosloviia (estates of the realm), our wives, children, and helpless old parents, have come to you, Sovereign, to seek justice and protection. We are impoverished and oppressed, we are burdened with work, and insulted. We are treated not like humans [but] like slaves who must suffer a bitter fate and keep silent. And we have suffered, but we only get pushed deeper and deeper into a gulf of misery, ignorance, and lack of rights. Despotism and arbitrariness are suffocating us, we are gasping for breath. Sovereign, we have no strength left. We have reached the limit of our patience. We have come to that terrible moment when it is better to die than to continue unbearable sufferings.
And so we left our work and declared to our employers that we will not return to work until they meet our demands. We do not ask much; we only want that without which life is hard labor and eternal suffering. Our first request was that our employers discuss our needs together with us. But they refused to do this; they denied us the right to speak about our needs, on the grounds that the law does not provide us with such a right. Also unlawful were our other requests: to reduce the working day to eight hours; for them to set wages together with us and by agreement with us; to examine our disputes with lower-level factory administrators; to increase the wages of unskilled workers and women to one ruble per day; to abolish overtime work; to provide medical care attentively and without insult; to build shops so that it is possible to work there and not face death from the awful drafts, rain and snow. More
I heartily accept the motto,—”That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to
see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which
also I believe,—”That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared
for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an
expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. …
The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their
will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it…. I ask for,
not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what
kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.
After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority
are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule, is not because they are most likely to be in
the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the
strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice,…
…Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but
conscience?—in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is
applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to
the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and
subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. More
On March 1st, the sailors organized a mass meeting in Kronstadt, which was attended also by the Chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, Kalinin (the presiding officer of the Republic of Russia), the Commander of the Kronstadt Fortress, Kuzmin, and the Chairman of the Kronstadt Soviet, Vassiliev. The meeting, held with the knowledge of the Executive Committee of the Kronstadt Soviet, passed a resolution approved by the sailors, the garrison, and the citizens’ meeting of 16,000 persons. Kalinin, Kuzmin, and Vassiliev spoke against the resolution, which later became the basis of the conflict between Kronstadt and the Government. It voiced the popular demand for Soviets elected by the free choice of the, people. It is worth reproducing that document in full, that the reader may be enabled to judge the true character of the Kronstadt demands. The Resolution read:
Having beard the Report of the Representatives sent by the General Meeting of Ship Crews to Petrograd to investigate the situation there, Resolved:
In view of the fact that the present Soviets do not express the will of the workers and the peasants, immediately to hold new elections by secret ballot, the preelection campaign to have full freedom of agitation among the workers and peasants;
To establish freedom of speech and press for workers and peasants, for Anarchists and left Socialist parties;
To secure freedom of assembly for labour unions and peasant organizations;
To call a non-partisan Conference of the workers, Red Army soldiers and sailors of Petrograd, Kronstadt, and of Petrograd Province, no later than March 10, 1921;
To liberate all political prisoners of Socialist parties, as well as all workers, peasants, soldiers, and sailors imprisoned in connection with the labour and peasant movements;
To elect a Commission to review the cases of those held in prisons and concentration camps;
Pre-Christian and Christian times pursue opposite goals; the former wants to idealize the real, the
latter to realize the ideal; the former seeks the “holy spirit,” the latter the “glorified body.” Hence the
former closes with insensitivity to the real, with “contempt for the world”; the latter will end with the
casting off of the ideal, with “contempt for the spirit.”
The opposition of the real and the ideal is an irreconcilable one, and the one can never become the
other: if the ideal became the real, it would no longer be the ideal; and, if the real became the ideal, the
ideal alone would be, but not at all the real. The opposition of the two is not to be vanquished otherwise
than if some one annihilates both. Only in this “some one,” the third party, does the opposition find its
end; otherwise idea and reality will ever fail to coincide. The idea cannot be so realized as to remain
idea, but is realized only when it dies as idea; and it is the same with the real.
But now we have before us in the ancients adherents of the idea, in the moderns adherents of
reality. Neither can get clear of the opposition, and both pine only, the one party for the spirit, and,
when this craving of the ancient world seemed to be satisfied and this spirit to have come, the others
immediately for the secularization of this spirit again, which must forever remain a “pious wish.”
The pious wish of the ancients was sanctity, the pious wish of the moderns is corporeity. But, as
antiquity had to go down if its longing was to be satisfied (for it consisted only in the longing), so
too corporeity can never be attained within the ring of Christianness. As the trait of sanctification or
purification goes through the old world (the washings, etc.), so that of incorporation goes through the
Christian world: God plunges down into this world, becomes flesh, and wants to redeem it, e.g., fill
it with himself; but, since he is “the idea” or “the spirit,” people (e.g. Hegel) in the end introduce the
idea into everything, into the world, and prove “that the idea is, that reason is, in everything.” “Man”
corresponds in the culture of today to what the heathen Stoics set up as “the wise man”; the latter, like
the former, a — fleshless being. The unreal “wise man,” this bodiless “holy one” of the Stoics, became
a real person, a bodily “Holy One,” in God made flesh; the unreal “man,” the bodiless ego, will become
real in the corporeal ego, in me. More
[Speech by Fidel Castro; Havana, Revolucion, Spanish, 9 January 1959]
I beg of you to maintain order. Are they not revolutionaries,
those who are here? Are there not many rebel soldiers here? Are there not
many army men here? Then we must have discipline here, and everyone must
keep silent. It is my duty to speak here tonight. I am faced with one of
the perhaps most difficult of my duties in this long process of struggle
which began in Santiago de Cuba on 30 November 1956. The people are
listening. The revolutionary fighters are listening, and the soldiers of
the army are listening. Their fate is in our hands.
I believe that we are at a crossroads in our history. The tyranny
has been overthrown. The happiness is tremendous, but nonetheless much
remains to be done still. Let us not deceive ourselves in believing that
what lies ahead will all be easy. Perhaps all that lies ahead will be more
To state the truth is the duty of every revolutionary. To deceive
the people, to awaken in them deceitful illusions will always result in the
worst of consequences, and I believe that the people must be warned against
an excess of optimism. How did the rebel army win the war? By telling the
truth. And how did the tyranny lose it? By deceiving the soldiers.
As we were faced with the duty, we made this clear over the Rebel
Radio and warned all the comrades, so that the same would not happen to
them. This was not the case with the army, in which all of the troops fell
into error, because the officers and soldiers were never told the truth,
and this is where I wish to begin. Or rather I wish to continue in this
pattern, that of always telling the people the truth. A period of time has
elapsed, which perhaps will represent a considerable advance. Here we are
in the capital, in Columbia, the revolutionary forces are triumphant. The
government has been established and recognized by many countries in the
world. Seemingly peace has been won, but, however, we should not be
optimistic. As we proceeded here today, while the people laughed and
expressed joy, we were concerned, and the fact that the crowd which
gathered to welcome us was most unusual and the happiness of the people was
so great made our concern the greater, because it made our responsibility
to history and to the people of Cuba the greater.
“The Kharkov comrades, with the heroic personality of Olga Taratuta at their head, had all served the Revolution, fought on its fronts, endured punishment from the Whites, persecution and imprisonment by the Bolsheviki. Nothing had daunted their revolutionary ardour and anarchist faith.” Living My Life, Emma Goldman
Elka Ruvinskaia was born in the village of Novodmitrovka near Kherson in the Ukraine on the 21st January 1876 ( or possibly 1874 or 1878). Her family was Jewish and her father ran a small shop. After her studies she worked as a teacher. She was arrested for “political suspicion” in 1895. In 1897 she joined a Social Democrat group around the brothers A. and I. Grossman (who later became anarchists) in Elizavetgrad, and distributed their propaganda. In 1898-1901 she was a member of the Elizavetgrad committee of the Social-Democratic Party and the South Russian Union of Workers. In 1901 she fled abroad, living in Germany and Switzerland where she met Lenin and Plekhanov and worked for the paper Iskra.
In 1903 In Switzerland she became an anarchist-communist. In 1904 she returned to Odessa and joined the group Without Compromise which was made up of anarchists and disciples of the Polish socialist Machajski. She was arrested in April1904 and in the autumn was freed for lack of evidence. She then joined the Odessa Workers Group of Anarchist Communists which distributed propaganda and organised workers’ circles. She began to acquire a reputation as one of the most outstanding anarchists in Russia. She used the pseudonym Babushka (Granny) – a strange alias considering she was still only around thirty!
At the beginning of October 1905 she was arrested again but was again released with the October amnesty. She joined the Battle Detachment of the South Russian Group of Anarchist Communists which used the tactic of “motiveless terror”- that is attacks on institutions and representatives of the autocratic regime rather than particular targeted individuals . She helped prepare the notorious attack on the Libman café in December 1905. She was arrested and sentenced to17 years imprisonment in 1906 She escaped from prison on 15th December and fled to Moscow. In December 1906 she joined the Moscow anarchist-communist organisation Buntar (Rebel) and agitated in the workplaces. After the arrest of group members in March 1907 she and some others fled to Switzerland where they edited a paper of the same name. More
from Anatoly Vasilievich Lunacharsky’s work ¨Revolutionary Silhouettes¨
I have few personal recollections of Georgii Valentinovich. Our meetings were infrequent, although they were not devoid of significance, and I gladly record my memories of him.
In 1893 I left Russia for Zurich, as I felt that I could only acquire the education I needed by going abroad. My friends the Lindfors gave me a letter of introduction to Pavel Alexandrovich Axelrod.
Axelrod and his family received me with delightful hospitality. By then I was a more or less convinced Marxist and considered myself a member of the Social Democratic party (I was eighteen and had begun work as an agitator and propagandist two years before going abroad). I am very much indebted to Axelrod for my education in socialism and, however far apart he and I may have moved subsequently, I look upon him with gratitude as one of my most influential teachers. Axelrod was full of awe and reverence for Plekhanov and spoke of him with adoration. This, added to the impression of brilliance that I had already gained from reading Our Differences and various other articles by Plekhanov, filled me with an uneasy, disturbing sense of expectation at the prospect of meeting this great man.
At last Plekhanov came from Geneva to Zurich, brought there by a dispute among the Polish socialists on the nationality question. The nationally-minded socialists in Zurich were headed by Jodko. Our future comrades were led by Rosa Luxemburg, then a brilliant student at Zurich University. Plekhanov was to pronounce on the conflict. For some reason his train was late, so that my first sight of Plekhanov was destined to be slightly theatrical. The meeting had already begun; with rather wearisome emphasis Jodko had been defending his viewpoint for half an hour when into the Eintracht Hall strode Plekhanov.
That was twenty-eight years ago. Plekhanov must have been slightly over thirty. He was a well-proportioned rather slim man in an impeccable frock coat, with a handsome face made particularly striking by his brilliant eyes and – his most marked feature – by thick, shaggy eyebrows. Later at the Stuttgart Congress one newspaper spoke of Plekhanov as ‘eine aristokratische Erscheinung’. Indeed in Plekhanov’s appearance, in his diction, his tone of voice and his whole bearing there was the ineradicable stamp of the gentry – he was a gentleman from head to toe. This was apt to offend some people’s proletarian instincts, but when one remembered that this gentleman was an extreme revolutionary and one of the pioneers of the workers’ movement, Plekhanov’s aristocratic air became something impressive and moving: ‘Look what sort of people are on our side.’
THE TRAGIC events in Barcelona at the beginning of May were not caused, as has been claimed, by an outburst of stupidity or an act of collective madness. Events of such magnitude, which threw sizeable masses into struggle, bathed the streets of the Catalan capital in blood and cost the lives of hundreds of men, are not produced by caprice: they were a response to profound and powerful causes.
We leave it to the sentimental petty bourgeois to “lament” what happened without pausing to examine the causes of the events; we leave it to the counter-revolutionaries, whose only concern is to smother the revolution, to condemn the movement. It is the duty of true revolutionaries to examine what caused the events and to draw the necessary lessons.
The Military-Fascist Insurrection
The fascist insurrection of 19 July was not a simple act of rebellion by a few military “traitors”, but the culmination, in an acute and violent form, of the struggle begun in Spain between revolution and counter-revolution. The masses’ democratic illusions had been seriously shaken, but were revived by the victory of the labour-republican bloc in the elections of 16 February and the consequent formation of a government of the Left. The working class soon realised that reaction, despite its defeat at the ballot box, had not disarmed but, on the contrary, was preparing with redoubled ardour to take to the streets intent on blocking the advance of the proletarian revolution and installing a dictatorial regime.
The July insurrection occurred after five months’ experience of a new government that demonstrated the absolute impotence of the petty-bourgeois Left to put an end to the fascist danger, or resolve in a progressive way the many political problems the country faced. It fully confirmed the viewpoint, repeatedly expressed by the POUM, that the new experience of the Left would fail, and that a struggle was posed not between democracy and fascism but between fascism and socialism, that this struggle would take an armed form and could not be resolved in favour of the workers and against fascism except by the victory of proletarian revolution, which would solve the problems of the bourgeois democratic revolution and simultaneously begin the socialist transformation of society.
War and Revolution
Thanks to the splendid heroism of the working class, which was unshakeably determined to fight to the death to prevent the victory of fascism, the military insurrection was crushed on 19 July in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. Thanks to that prodigious heroism in the battlefields by thousands of workers who immediately and enthusiastically joined the militias, Franco was unable to achieve the victory which he thought quick and certain but which, after ten months of civil war, appears less and less likely.
Put on trial for his part in a plot involving the fabrication of counterfeit money, Pablo and his comrades took advantage of the trial and used it as a political forum.
I don’t have a strictly private life. For many years the apartments I’ve lived in with my wife were open to the members of our organization, to our friends and our political sympathizers, to a great number of people. During the war and the Nazi occupation of Europe, Israelites or men of the Resistance of all nationalities hunted by the Nazi services naturally found refuge at our home. When the Algerian revolution began in 1954, and Algerian militants were in turn pitilessly hunted down by the police services and terrorists under the orders of colonialism, my wife and I told the Algerian comrades to do us the honor of considering our home at their entire disposal. It was the same in Amsterdam.
We hope to continue in this way until the end of our days, today aiding our Algerian brothers to the best of our abilities, tomorrow our black brothers of Angola and South Africa, our Indio brothers of Latin America, our brothers from everywhere, oppressed and exploited men fighting for the liberty and dignity of man.
This attitude came to us naturally, and not at all through any special merit. Personally, I always felt myself to simply be a man who had completely made his own the wisdom contained in the verse of our poet of Antiquity, Menander: I am a man, and nothing that is human is foreign to me.
But, during the long life I’ve lived in the organization in which I have the honor of being a member, while trying to dominate the egoistic and narcissistic tendencies of our being, I’ve also learned how to accomplish those things necessary in relation to a political and social goal, and not only those things that were personally agreeable and easy. I at least wanted to act in accordance with that rules of social morality, more or less successfully. I lived the cataclysm of fascism in Germany and Europe of the 1930’s as a militant, and I also lived through the cataclysms of the Second World War as a militant. From all this I drew the conclusion that a certain dose of personal courage, intelligence, and critical spirit is necessary in order for every citizen to have the freedom to live, for the horrors of war to be avoided, so that society not fall under the yoke of privileged bureaucratic minorities. Neither the danger of fascism nor that of war and dictatorship are absent in the current world. This can be clearly seen in what is happening in France, in what’s happening in Africa from Algeria to Angola and South Africa, in what’s happening in Latin America, from Cuba to Chile, in what’s happening with East-West relations, from Laos to Berlin.
M. Thiers, at a private session of the commission on primary education of 1849, said: “I wish to make the influence of the clergy all powerful because I count upon it to propagate that good philosophy which teaches man that he is here below to suffer, and not that other philosophy which on the contrary bids man to enjoy.” M. Thiers was stating the ethics of the capitalist class, whose fierce egoism and narrow intelligence he incarnated.
The Bourgeoisie, when it was struggling against the nobility sustained by the clergy, hoisted the flag of free thought and atheism; but once triumphant, it changed its tone and manner and today it uses religion to support its economic and political supremacy. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it had joyfully taken up the pagan tradition and glorified the flesh and its passions, reproved by Christianity; in our days, gorged with goods and with pleasures, it denies the teachings of its thinkers like Rabelais and Diderot, and preaches abstinence to the wageworkers. Capitalist ethics, a pitiful parody on Christian ethics, strikes with its anathema the flesh of the laborer; its ideal is to reduce the producer to the smallest number of needs, to suppress his joys and his passions and to condemn him to play the part of a machine turning out work without respite and without thanks.
The revolutionary socialists must take up again the battle fought by the philosophers and pamphleteers of the bourgeoisie; they must march up to the assault of the ethics and the social theories of capitalism; they must demolish in the heads of the class which they call to action the prejudices sown in them by the ruling class; they must proclaim in the faces of the hypocrites of all ethical systems that the earth shall cease to be the vale of tears for the laborer; that in the communist society of the future, which we shall establish “peaceably if we may, forcibly if we must,” the impulses of men will be given a free rein, for “all these impulses are by nature good, we have nothing to avoid but their misuse and their excesses,” and they will not be avoided except by their mutual counter-balancing, by the harmonious development of the human organism, for as Dr. Beddoe says, “It is only when a race reaches its maximum of physical development, that it arrives at its highest point of energy and moral vigor.” Such was also the opinion of the great naturalist Charles Darwin.
This refutation of the “Right to Work” which I am republishing with some additional notes appeared in the weekly Egalité, 1880, second series.
An announcement has been placed in Izvestiia and in Pravda which makes known the decision of the Soviet government to seize as hostages SRs [Social Revolutionary party members] from the Savinkov groups, White Guards of the nationalist and tactical center, and Wrangel officers; and, in case of an [assassination] attempt on the leaders of the soviets, to “mercilessly exterminate” these hostages.
Is there really no one around you to remind your comrades and to persuade them that such measures represent a return to the worst period of the Middle Ages and religious wars, and are undeserving of people who have taken it upon themselves to create a future society on communist principles? Whoever holds dear the future of communism cannot embark upon such measures.
It is possible that no one has explained what a hostage really is? A hostage is imprisoned not as punishment for some crime. He is held in order to blackmail the enemy with his death. “If you kill one of ours, we will kill one of yours.” But is this not the same thing as leading a man to the scaffold each morning and taking him back, saying: “Wait awhile, not today…”
And don’t your comrades understand that this is tantamount to a restoration of torture for the hostages and their families.
I hope no one will tell me that people in power also do not lead easy lives. Nowadays even among kings there are those who regard the possibility of assassination as an “occupational hazard.”
And revolutionaries assume the responsibility of defending themselves before a court which threatens their lives. Louise Michele chose this way. Or they refuse to be persecuted, as did Malatesta and Voltairine de Cleyre.
Even kings and popes have rejected such barbaric means of self-defense as the taking of hostages. How can apostles of a new life and architects of a new social order have recourse to such means of defense against enemies?
Won’t this be regarded as a sign that you consider your communist experiment unsuccessufl, and [that] you are not saving the system that is so dear to you but only [saving] yourselves?
Don’t your comrades realize that you, communists (despite the errors you have commutted), are working for the future? And that therefore you must in no case stain your work by acts so close to primitive terror? [You must know] that precisely these acts performed by revolutionaries in the past make the new communist endeavors so difficult.
I believe that for the best of you, the future of communism is more precious than your own lives. And thoughts about this future must compel you to renounce such measures.
Durruti, whom I saw but a month ago, lost his life in the street-battles of Madrid. My previous knowledge of this stormy petrel of the Anarchist and revolutionary movement in Spain was merely from reading about him. On my arrival in Barcelona I learned many fascinating stories of Durruti and his column. They made me eager to go to the Aragon front, where he was the leading spirit of the brave and valiant militias, fighting against fascism.
I arrived at Durruti’s headquarters towards evening, completely exhausted from the long drive over a rough road. A few moments with Durruti was like a strong tonic, refreshing and invigorating. Powerful of body as if hewn from the rocks of Montserrat, Durruti easily represented the most dominating figure among the Anarchists I had met since my arrival in Spain. His terrific energy electrified me as it seemed to effect everyone who came within its radius.
I found Durruti in a veritable beehive of activity. Men came and went, the telephone was constantly calling for Durruti. In addition was the deafening hammering of workers who were constructing a wooden shed for Durruti’s staff. Through all the din and constant call on his time Durruti remained serene and patient. He received me as if he had known me all his life. The graciousness and warmth from a man engaged in a life and death struggle against fascism was something I had hardly expected.
I had heard much about Durruti’s mastery over the column that went by his name. I was curious to learn by what means other than military drive he had succeeded in welding together 10,000 volunteers without previous military training and experience of any sort. Durruti seemed surprised that I, an old Anarchist should even ask such a question.
“I have been an Anarchist all my life,” he replied, “I hope I have remained one. I should consider it very sad indeed, had I to turn into a general and rule the men with a military rod. They have come to me voluntarily, they are ready to stake their lives in our antifascist fight. I believe, as I always have, in freedom. The freedom which rests on the sense of responsibility. I consider discipline indispensable, but it must be inner discipline, motivated by a common purpose and a strong feeling of comradeship.” He had gained the confidence of the men and their affection because he had never played the part of a superior. He was one of them. He ate and slept as simply as they did. Often even denying himself his own portion for one weak or sick, and needing more than he. And he shared their danger in every battle. That was no doubt the secret of Durruti’s success with his column. The men adored him. They not only carried out all his instructions, they were ready to follow him in the most perilous venture to repulse the fascist position.
I had arrived on the eve of an attack Durruti had prepared for the following morning. At daybreak Durruti, like the rest of the militia with his rifle over his shoulder, led the way. Together with them he drove the enemy back four kilometers, and he also succeeded in capturing a considerable amount of arms the enemies had left behind in their flight.
The moral example of simple equality was by no means the only explanation of Durruti’s influence. There was another, his capacity to make the militiamen realize the deeper meaning of the antifascist war–the meaning that had dominated his own life and that he had learned to articulate to the poorest and most undeveloped of the poor.
of capitalist development and revolutionary change.
Published in Telos, Vol. 65, Fall, 1985
Is it possible that the Left has been wrong about capitalist development and revolutionary change? Is it possible that 20th-century capitalism is not “moribund;” that the Russian Revolution did not usher in an “era of wars and revolutions,” as predicted by Lenin; that capitalism does not unfold according to an “immanent” dialectic in which lie the “seeds” of its own destruction? Could it be that we are in a ceaseless “ascending phase” of capitalism?
We grasp at straws — Hungary in 1956, Paris in 1968, Czechoslovakia in 1969, Poland in the early 1980s — for evidence of a revolutionary proletariat without seeing the tragic marginality of these events. We turn to China, Cuba, Southeast Asia, Portugal, and Nicaragua for evidence of a “revolutionary era” or to the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts for evidence of a “war-ridden era” without seeing their nationalist limitations. We try to acknowledge how ambiguous they are in relation to the larger fact of a greatly expanded capitalism, the extent to which the marketplace has deepened its reach into the most intimate aspects of social life, the striking stability of the system as a whole, its chilling technological sophistication that has made meaningless all images of insurrectionary revolutions in the major centers of capitalism.
Nor can we continue to use “betrayals” to explain the failures of the past lour generations. Such a consistent pattern of treachery suggests an internal weakness in the traditional socialist “perspective” of capitalism and revolution that raises more questions than it answers. The socialist project is fragile indeed if betrayal can occur so easily and if “success” yields bureaucratic traits so constrictive and reactionary that history is the better for its failures. The Russian Revolution was a catastrophe whose shadow has cast the entire century into darkness, and lives in our dreams more as a nightmare than a vision of hope.
The answers are not to be found in quietism and defeat. It is not defeatist to acknowledge that our expectations were unwarranted and the analyses that nourished them were equally faulty. Nor is accommodation possible if capitalism remains irrational to the core; that it has always been so (Marx’s arguments about its “progressive role” to the contrary notwithstanding); and that it has always stood at odds with an abiding potential for freedom and ecological balance. But before that potential can be seen and a relevant practice developed from efforts to realize it, we must clear away the ideological fog that obscures our thinking. This fog arises from a conjuncture of forces that has been seriously misjudged by radicals for more than a century and from a misreading of phenomena that span the last four centuries. More
To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue.
… To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured.
That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.
1. The extraordinary fragility of human nature, of civilization. A human being would turn into a beast after three weeks of hard work, cold, starvation and beatings.
2. The cold was the principal means of corrupting the soul; in the Central Asian camps people must have held out longer — it was warmer there.
3. I learned that friendship and solidarity never arise in difficult, truly severe conditions — when life is at stake. Friendship arises in difficult but bearable conditions (in the hospital, but not in the mine).
4. I learned that spite is the last human emotion to survive. A starving man has only enough flesh to feel spite — he is indifferent to everything else.
5. I learned the difference between prison, which strengthens character, and work camps, which corrupt the human soul.
6. I learned that Stalin’s «triumphs» were possible because he slew innocent people: had there been an organized movement, even one-tenth in number, but organized, it would have swept Stalin away in two days.
7. I learned that humans became human because they are physically stronger, tougher than any animal — no horse endures work in the Far North.
8. I saw that the only group that retained a bit of their humanity, despite the starvation and abuse, were the religious, the sectarians, almost all of them — and the majority of the priests.
9. The first ones to be corrupted, the most susceptible, are the party members and military men. More
Almost every day brings news of awful crimes, but some are so heinous, so horrendous and malicious, that they dwarf all else. One of those rare events took place on July 17, when Malaysian Airlines MH17 was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people.
The Guardian of Virtue in the White House denounced it as an “outrage of unspeakable proportions,” which he attributed to “Russian support.” His UN Ambassador thundered that “when 298 civilians are killed” in the “horrific downing” of a civilian plane, “we must stop at nothing to determine who is responsible and to bring them to justice.” She also called on Putin to end his shameful efforts to evade his very clear responsibility.
True, the “irritating little man” with the “ratlike face” (Timothy Garton Ash) had called for an independent investigation, but that could only have been because of sanctions from the one country courageous enough to impose them, the United States, while Europeans had cowered in fear.
On CNN, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor assured the world that the irritating little man “is clearly responsible…for the shoot down of this airliner.” For weeks, lead stories reported on the anguish of the families, the lives of the murdered victims, the international efforts to claim the bodies, the fury over the horrific crime that “stunned the world,” as the press reported daily in grisly detail.
Every literate person, and certainly every editor and commentator, instantly recalled another case when a plane was shot down with comparable loss of life: Iran Air 655 with 290 killed, including 66 children, shot down in Iranian airspace in a clearly identified commercial air route. The crime was not carried out “with U.S. support,” nor has its agent ever been uncertain. It was the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes, operating in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf.
The commander of a nearby U.S. vessel, David Carlson, wrote in the U.S. Naval Proceedings that he “wondered aloud in disbelief” as “’The Vincennes announced her intentions” to attack what was clearly a civilian aircraft. He speculated that “Robo Cruiser,” as the Vincennes was called because of its aggressive behavior, “felt a need to prove the viability of Aegis (the sophisticated anti-aircraft system on the cruiser) in the Persian Gulf, and that they hankered for the opportunity to show their stuff.”
Two years later, the commander of the Vincennes and the officer in charge of anti-air warfare were given the Legion of Merit award for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service” and for the “calm and professional atmosphere” during the period of the destruction of the Iranian Airbus, which was not mentioned in the award.
President Reagan blamed the Iranians and defended the actions of the warship, which “followed standing orders and widely publicized procedures, firing to protect itself against possible attack.” His successor, Bush I, proclaimed that “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”
No evasions of responsibility here, unlike the barbarians in the East.
There was little reaction at the time: no outrage, no desperate search for victims, no passionate denunciations of those responsible, no eloquent laments by the US Ambassador to the UN about the “immense and heart-wrenching loss” when the airliner was downed. Iranian condemnations were occasionally noted, but dismissed as “boilerplate attacks on the United States” (Philip Shenon, New York Times).
Good evening, afternoon, or morning, whichever it may be in your geography, time, and way of being.
Good very early morning.
I would like to ask the compañeras, compañeros and compañeroas of the Sixth who came from other places, especially the compañeros from the independent media, for your patience, tolerance, and understanding for what I am about to say, because these will be the final words that I speak in public before I cease to exist.
I am speaking to you and to those who listen to and look at us through you.
Perhaps at the start, or as these words unfold, the sensation will grow in your heart that something is out of place, that something doesn’t quite fit, as if you were missing one or various pieces that would help make sense of the puzzle that is about to be revealed to you. As if indeed what is missing is still pending.
Maybe later — days, weeks, months, years or decades later — what we are about to say will be understood.
My compañeras and compañeros at all levels of the EZLN do not worry me, because this is indeed our way here: to walk and to struggle, always knowing that what is missing is yet to come.
What’s more, and without meaning to offend anyone, the intelligence of the Zapatista compas is way above average.
In addition, it pleases and fills us with pride that this collective decision will be made known in front of compañeras, compañeros and compañeroas, both of the EZLN and of the Sixth.
And how wonderful that it will be through the free, alternative, and independent media that this archipelago of pain, rage, and dignified struggle — what we call “the Sixth” — will hear what I am about to say, wherever they may be.
If anyone else is interested in knowing what happened today, they will have to go to the independent media to find out.
So, here we go. Welcome to the Zapatista reality (La Realidad).
I. A difficult decision.
When we erupted and interrupted in 1994 with blood and fire, it was not the beginning of war for us as Zapatistas.
The war from above, with its death and destruction, its dispossession and humiliation, its exploitation and the silence it imposed on the defeated, we had been enduring for centuries.
What began for us in 1994 is one of many moments of war by those below against those above, against their world.
This war of resistance is fought day-in and day-out in the streets of any corner of the five continents, in their countrysides and in their mountains.
It was and is ours, as it is of many from below, a war for humanity and against neoliberalism.
Against death, we demand life.
Against silence, we demand the word and respect.
Against oblivion, memory.
Against humiliation and contempt, dignity.
Against oppression, rebellion.
Against slavery, freedom.
Against imposition, democracy.
Against crime, justice.
Who with the least bit of humanity in their veins would or could question these demands?
And many listened to us then.
The war we waged gave us the privilege of arriving to attentive and generous ears and hearts in geographies near and far.
Even lacking what was then lacking, and as of yet missing what is yet to come, we managed to attain the other’s gaze, their ear, and their heart.
It was then that we saw the need to respond to a critical question.
Born on March 5th, 1871 in Zamoshc of Congress Poland, Rosa Luxemburg was born into a Jewish family, the youngest of five children. In 1889, at 18 years old, Luxemburg’s revolutionary agitation forced her to move to Zürich, Switzerland, to escape imprisonment. While in Zürich, Luxemburg continued her revolutionary activities from abroad, while studying political economy and law; receiving her doctorate in 1898. She met with many Russian Social Democrats (at a time before the R.S.D.L.P. split); among them the leading members of the party: Georgy Plekhanov and Pavel Axelrod. It was not long before Luxemburg voiced sharp theoretical differences with the Russian party, primarily over the issue of Polish self-determination: Luxemburg believed that self-determination weakened the international Socialist movement, and helped only the bourgeoisie to strengthen their rule over newly independent nations. Luxemburg split with both the Russian and Polish Socialist Party over this issue, who believed in the rights of Russian national minorities to self-determination. In opposition, Luxemburg helped create the Polish Social Democratic Party.
During this time Luxemburg met her life-long companion Leo Jogiches, who was head of the Polish Socialist Party. While Luxemburg was the speaker and theoretician of the party, Jogiches complimented her as the organiser of the party. The two developed an intense personal and political relationship throughout the rest of their lives.< More
Rogue state is a controversial term applied by some international theorists to states they consider threatening to the world’s peace.The term is used most by the United States, though the US State Department officially quit using the term in 2000. However, it has been applied by other countries as well.
A common presumption applied to rogue states is that they do not necessarily behave rationally or in their own best interests. In political theory it is generally believed that a stable nation, ruled by a leadership that is subject to broad scrutiny (though not necessarily democratic scrutiny), will tend to act in its own best interests and will not take actions that are directly contrary to its own interests, particularly not to its own survival. Rogue states, however, may not be subject to this assumption and, as such, relations with them may be more complicated and unpredictable.
PS. As the U.S. government remains the most active proponent of the “rogue state” expression, the term has received much criticism from those who disagree with U.S. foreign policy. Critics charge that “rogue state” merely means any state that is generally hostile to the U.S., or even one that opposes the U.S. without necessarily posing a wider threat. Some others, such as author William Blum, have written that the term is also applicable to the U.S. and Israel. The concepts of rogue states and the “Axis of Evil” have been criticized by certain scholars, including philosopher Jacques Derrida and linguist Noam Chomsky, who considered it more or less a justification of imperialism and a useful word for propaganda.
In Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, William Blum claims that the United States of America, because of its foreign policy, is itself a rogue state.
warm beer and cold women, I just don’t fit in
every joint I stumbled into tonight
that’s just how it’s been
all these double knit strangers with
gin and vermouth and recycled stories
in the naugahyde booths
with the platinum blondes
and tobacco brunettes
I’ll be drinkin’ to forget you More