Archive for ‘October, 2010’
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF CONVERSATION
Oct. 20, 2010
Participants: Victoria Guinea Pig, Kranti and Javier
Kranti: I’m willing to do *anything* to save the planet. But nothing works. The system keeps winning.
Victoria Guinea Pig: Failure is not an option. The system can not be permitted to kill the planet. You must stop it.
Kranti: But everything we try to do is ineffective.
Victoria Guinea Pig: Well. To be effective, you start with a goal. You have that already: save the planet. What is your overall strategy?
(Kranti and Javier look at each other, blankly).
Victoria Guinea Pig: How do you think the planet can be saved?
Kranti: By smashing capitalism. Duh.
Victoria Guinea Pig: How do you think you can defeat a whole global economic system? A system with a monopoly on laws, police, armies, wealth, productive capacity, as well as cultural and political institutions?
Kranti: Um… we keep attacking it from all sides until it falls to its knees, cries like a baby and surrenders?
Javier: All by ourselves? We can’t do it alone, Kranti.
Kranti: Plenty of people all over the world are doing it. Look at MEND. They’re small but managed to force a 40% reduction in oil production in Nigeria. Look at the Greek anarchists. The revolution in Nepal. The Naxalites in India. Look at… um. There are a lot we don’t even know about.
Javier: But in the US there are too few. To attack from within the center of the Empire, we need some kind of movement here. Without at least some public support, we’re toast.
Kranti: Let someone else organize it. I hate working with people. Everyone’s stupid! They think politicians will listen to them. They think it makes a difference if they drive a hybrid car or use Sierra Club-endorsed bleach. They believe we’ll invent magical technology that will use no energy, sequester CO2 and bring everyone extinct back to life while still keeping all the air conditioners running. I don’t want to waste my time with the ideologically challenged.
Victoria Guinea Pig: People are not stupid. Propaganda has brainwashed them. After armed forces, culture and information are two of the system’s most effective weapons. People’s thinking is shaped by whatever system they live under.
Javier: We could start a study group…
Kranti: Please don’t ask me to embark on a long-term educational campaign. The planet doesn’t have time. Also: booor-ing!
Victoria Guinea Pig: Fortunately reality has a way of asserting itself. Especially in times of crisis. Many people are searching for real answers and ways to act effectively. Like you.
Kranti: So what should we target next? Something that will put a stop to commerce! Oil is the blood of the economy… how about we take out an oil pipeline? Are there any around here? There have to be! But to find out, we’d have to search online, and then they could track our searches and know who did it…
Javier: Wait –
Victoria Guinea Pig: You’re getting way ahead of yourself. I understand the urgency of the situation and your frustration. But you’re running ahead without a strategy. You can’t make a plan without a strategy. And you can’t decide on tactics before you even have a plan!
Kranti: I have passion! I don’t need anything else.
Javier: Passion wasn’t enough for the Red Army Faction. It wasn’t enough for the Weather Underground. It won’t be enough for you.
Kranti: I hate that.
Javier: When I disagree with you?
Kranti: When you’re right.
Victoria Guinea Pig: A strategy is determined by the goal. You want to stop the destruction of the planet.
Victoria Guinea Pig: You conclude that capitalism is responsible for its destruction.
Kranti: Anyone with eyes can see that.
Javier: Actually, a lot of people think that capitalism can *solve* environmental destruction, that the free market will spur the development of technological solutions to global warming….um…I mean…
Kranti: Javier. Are you kidding me? Are these words really coming out of your mouth?
Javier: I’m not saying *I* believe that. I just want to start with the basics…
Kranti: I don’t think we have to start with “Why Capitalism Is Bad 101” here. We have big wet mushy organs called brains. If preserving the Earth was profitable, they would have done it already. They wouldn’t be killing it in the first place. You can’t have an economy based on growth on a finite planet. It has to go. It’s simple, logical reality. Why do I even need to say this to you?
Victoria Guinea Pig: Actually, we do need to start with “Why Capitalism is Bad 101.” (She hands them each a book). Read chapter four.
Kranti (examining the book’s cover): “Heads Will Roll.” Hey. I didn’t know you wrote a book.
Victoria Guinea Pig: There’s much about me that you don’t know.
Javier: Victoria has many secrets.
(Victoria and Kranti stare at Javier).
Victoria: The first principle of war is to know your enemy. How well do you really understand capitalism?
Kranti: Enough to know it’s my enemy.
Victoria: But if you understand all its mechanisms, you can understand its weak points. From there, you can figure out a strategy. Take the books with you. We’ll discuss that chapter next week.
A cartoonist in Bangladesh, Arifur Rahman (age 23), is in trouble with religious extremists for drawing a child naming his cat Muhammad. Conservative Madrassa clerics led demonstrations against him, claiming that naming an animal for the Prophet insulted Islam. He (not the demonstrations) were declared a threat to public safety. He was thrown in jail for several months, and lost his job at the popular daily newspaper “Prothom-Alo.” His continuing legal battle has been expensive, and he has faced this problem nearly alone.
Now his situation has turned even worse. His mother has been hospitalized with damaged kidneys. Now on dialysis, she requires a kidney transplant. This would cost $5000 in Bangladesh, but the death rate there from post-op infections is high. The nearest safe place to bring her for the surgery is India, where it would cost about $22,000.
Here is the controversial cartoon with a translation at Cartoonists Rights Network International: http://cartoonistrights.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=52&Itemid=51
From Arif’s blog (translated from Bangla): http://cartoonist.amarblog.com/posts/116439
“I heard from my granny that my mother was married when she was only 12/13 years old. I was born only year and half after her marriage. When I was only 12/13 and my only sister was 2/3 years old; my dad divorced my mom and there after he did not bother to care about us for a bit. My mom took us to our grandparents home and raised us with great care under extreme hardship.
“When I was in jail in 2007 it was very difficult for her to visit me. She used to send her affectionate letter for me by hiding inside the rice cake for me. From the village, she came to visit me in Dhaka city for the first time of her life, but could not visit for the first time. Then she succeeded after a great difficulty. I still could see the tears running out of my eyes after realizing her irresistible love and affection for me.
“Today she is seriously ill, both of her kidneys were damaged. She must need kidney transplantation, and by that needs dialysis twice a week, with expensive medications. I am trying my best to treat her, though it is beyond my imagination to think about all of the costs associated with the treatment. I only can rely upon God, and the well wishers.”
If you can help Arif, please send funds through the Cartoonist Rights Network. 100% of all donations will be directly tranfserred to Arif.
Checks can be sent here (please earmark for Arifur Rahman):
Robert Russell, Executive Director
10600 Alison Drive
Burke, VA 22015
Online donations can be made to CRNI through their fiscal sponsor, The New York Foundation for the Arts, here: http://www.nycharities.org/donate/c_donate_nyfa.asp?CharityCode=1285. Type “CRNI – for Arifur Rahman” in the Emerging Organization field.
There is also a Facebook page, “A Mother Needs Children,” here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=150532911652011