Saturday, January 06, 2007

Calling out Speakingcorpse (and, likely, Scats) 

I think there's fundamental disagreement here about the nature of government and the governed.

speakingcorpse writes:

"but the idea that this [First Amendment] freedom, . . . [is] the sacred gift of the US constitution--that's what's incorrect."

Try walking into a real federal court when your real rights are at stake and saying that. You'll get a lesson in positivism. As a matter of fact and law, your First Amendment freedoms are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. As a matter of intellectual history, you may say the Constitution is a mundane document that didn't really break new ground. But to say that is to ignore the very relevant fact that the Constitution is a legally operative document, which has real world consequences. For you -- and many others.

speakingcorpse writes:

"when americans say they'll die for the constitution, they're making a banal and, at this late historical date, absurdly cliched, nationalist affirmation . . . ."

Condescending stuff. The not-so implicit premise is that Americans are too stupid and uneducated to appreciate that the Constitution represents their freedoms. Your claim is that Americans who claim they'll die for the Constitution are always merely doing the verbal equivalent of putting the yellow ribbon on their cars. The riff-raff, you claim, obviously don't understand the real deal.

Granted, the people who literally risk their lives to -- as a matter of law -- defend the Constitution may not all be constitutional scholars or write fancy papers to publish in academic journals. And, yes, there are many morons and bigots in the ranks. But to conclude that their dedication is merely nationalistic, and doesn't embrace any of the ideas animating the Constitution -- to conclude this as a matter of type -- is absurd. What could be more illiberal, anti-progressive? You're one mugging away from saying the negros have started a crime wave.

Give up the broad stokes, bra. Makes your kung-fu look weak.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

a POW in the War on Cliche 

So I'd heard about Saddam, but it wasn't until today, sitting in a bar with the TV on, that I saw the snuff film.

What a fucking shit-show. Has this been televised in the US? Extensively? What the fuck?

Moving on...

So the Intergalactica ended yesterday. Mercifully. Not that it was that bad in general, but...well personally I didn't have the best time.

We got in to Oventik the morning of the first day. Oventik is the second of five Zapatista "Caracoles", which are their largest organizational unit. The town is at the end of an hour long drive from San Cristobal de las Casas. The drive takes you high up into the mountains, and when you pass a village named "Tivo" (I shit you not.), you know you're close.

The first time I was in Oventik was the 22nd of December for the Oaxaca Solidarity Rally. We drove in on a winding two-lane mountain road with no guardrails in an '85 Camry with no seatbelts. Our driver seemed to feel that he was being judged on time and that having someone in front of us in our lane was an impermissible evil. So white knuckles were the order of the day. It also continually damaged my calm that he would periodically cross himself, although I later learned that he did this whenever passing a church and not because of the repeated successful tests of his savior's beneficence.

We finally arrived in a community that was as poor, but much more orderly and less squalid as the ones outside of Zapatista territory. There were unarmed guards at the gate who directed us into a small wood building with some other officials who told us to go to another building. This was the Junta de Bon Gobierno (Good Government Council), the highest Zapatista civilian governing body, and had five or so council members inside. We were asked to state our business and fill out an entry in a notebook, and then given a chance to make a statement. We didn't have much to say except, "thanks for having us." so they told us that we were free to roam around, but not to take pictures until they told us we could.

Zapatistas wear ski masks, they call them 'pasamontanas' or 'mountain passes'. They wear bandannas too, but mostly ski-masks. They say that they were faceless before they rebelled, and that the only way that society would recognize that they even had faces was to put masks over them. When the government told them to take off their masks, they refused. They told the government that after 500 years, you only care what we look like because we put a mask on, but now its too late.

They don't wear the masks all the time however, only when dealing with non-Zapatistas. So for the whole day of the 22nd they walked around the caracol without their masks on, which was why I was forbidden to take pictures. This posed a unique cinematic problem that I was unable to solve.

The 22nd was uneventful, so I'll skip it. On the first day of the Intergalactica however everyone was masked up. There were several thousand foreigners with cameras in attendance. We stopped in to the "Che Guevara Collective General Store" and had a quesadilla. Oddly, you can buy Coca-Cola and other Coke products at the Che Guevara. Mexico has the highest per-capita Coca-cola and soda consumption of any country in the world, including the US. So to them perhaps, its not so weird. I found out later that they were planning on phasing it out.

You can get Coke, but not booze. Zapatistas don't drink or smoke cigarettes. Under Zapatista Revolutionary Law women have full rights. A few years ago they were fed up with the problem of domestic violence and decided to block every decision in council until they got a no-booze rule passed. So there's no drinking, but there's less women getting beaten.

We went down to the parade ground/pavilion to watch the opening ceremonies. A few EZLN Comandantes and Comandantas took the stage as did several JBG councilmembers, two bands, and many Zapatistas in traditional indigenous clothing. They all saluted, with the left hand, as the color guard came out. They sang the Mexican National Anthem, made a speech, said a few "Vivas!" and sang the Zapatista Hymn as the color guard retired. The bands started playing frenetic Mexican folk music. Everyone went to lunch.

I skipped lunch as my stomach wasn't feeling too well. Seems that the quesadilla did not agree with me. I realize I'm conceding a tactical defeat in the War Against Cliche by recounting this, but it really happened. After being in the country for almost two months I got a bug. Turned out to be the usual Revenge with a little something extra, maybe Montezuma's Plus. The bonus was vomiting.

Not that I was vomiting right away. It took a few hours to work up to that, although on the positive side it did afford me an exclusive inside tour of the Oventik health clinic.

The only other scheduled event that day was a panel discussion on Zapatista life. This took place in a large wooden building with a corrugated tin roof and a floor covered in fresh pine needles. On a platform was the panel, consisting of JBG council-members, in the audience was everyone else. Each panel member had some time to speak, then the MC read submitted questions from the audience. After the Q&A the floor was open to anyone in the audience who had anything to say vaguely relating to the topic at hand.

So the movement that is dedicated to remaking a new world in the shell of the old has demonstrated that it can have boring professional conventions like everyone else. All of the panels were structured this way and were held on various topics throughout the conference: women, eductation, commerce, art/media/culture, and a few others. As I suppose is normal at these types of things it seemed most of the interesting stuff was going on in between the meetings.

Actually that´s not quite fair. I got bored fairly quickly, partly because I was mostly focusing on internal orifice security measures and partly because my Spanish is middling to poor. Probably when I have the tapes translated it will be more informative.

Eventually the sun went down. It got very cold. The nausea increased. The talking did not end.

So ended the first day. I took a bus back to town and proceeded to puke quite a lot. Spent the next day, New Year's Eve, in bed. I rang in the New Year by myself, watching a crappy bootleg of the Animatrix dubbed into Spanish.

next: days three and four

a little soapboxing 

The Intergalactica is over. I'm going to work up a post about it tonight. In the meantime, here's something I came across that seemed relevant to the previous discussion of armies and cops:

The globalization of markets erases borders for speculation and crime and multiplies them for human beings. Countries are obliged to erase their national borders for money to circulate, but to multiply their internal borders.

doesn't turn many countries into one country; it turns each country into many countries.
The lie of unipolarity and internationalization turns itself into a nightmare of war, a fragmented war, again and again, so many times that nations are pulverized. In this world, Power globalizes to overcome the obstacles to its war of conquest. National governments are turned into the military underlings of a new world war against humanity.

From the stupid course of nuclear armament--destined to annihilate humanity in one blow--it has turned to the absurd militarization of every aspect in the life of national societies--a militarization destined to annihilate humanity in many blows, in many places, and in many ways. What were formerly known as "national armies" are turning into mere units of a greater army, one that neoliberalism arms to lead against humanity. The end of the so-called Cold War didn't stop the global arms race, it only change the model for the merchandising of mortality: weapons of all kinds and sizes for all kinds of criminal tastes. More and more, not only are the so-called institutional armies armed, but also the armies' drug-trafficking builds up to ensure its reign. More or less reapidly, national societies are being militarized, and armies--supposedly created to protect their borders from foreign enemies--are turning their cannons and rifles around and aiming them inward.

It is not possible for neoliberalism to become the world's reality without the argument of death served up by instituitional and private armies, without the gag served up by prisons, without the blows and assassinations served up by the military and police. National repression is a necessary premise of the globalization neoliberalism imposes.

The more neoliberalism advances as a global system, the more numerous grow the weapons and the ranks of the armies and national police. The numbers of the imprisoned, the disappeared, and the assassinated in different countries also grows.

-- Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Closing remarks at the First Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and against Neoliberalism
August 3, 1996

from Our Word is Our Weapon


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