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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dispatch From Colombia: Fear And Greed

Burning U.S. Passport
Image found at nostate.com

[Note: This is a guest post derived from a message I received from my good friend Sylvanus (aka Edgar Cave) Urbanus, triggered by the virally spreading resignation letter by ex-ex director Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs. Click through to read Senor Urbanus' contribution from last fall, Dispatch From Colombia: Another Ex-Pat Speaks Out.]
Sir,

So, Mr. Smith leaves in a flurry hacking at the branches of evil, but does not even come close to striking a single root! The good old "change of heart" that Orwell detested so deeply. What is the root that Mr. Smith missed with his axe, assisted by the NYT? I have a feeling that it is all anchored in fear. Fear of what? The fear of becoming poor. The deep hatred and fear of the poor in America is at the core of its cultural rot. This reality fully came home to me while living in Colombia.
I hate these people staring, make them go away from me.*
One day in particular, I was visiting with my dear friend J______, a famous writer from Bucaramanga, Colombia. As we were talking, I saw a man pulling a heavy cart with little skate board type metal wheels up a street that was slightly uphill. He was struggling under the heavy load of cooking equipment. He was probably around 45 or 50 years old and was as thin as the air. I turned to J______ and stated that in the US, this man would be considered a bum and a loser. He looked at me in complete shock and horror. As his eyes began to show tears, he asked me, "Why do the Americans hate the poor?" I answered that we hate them because we are deeply afraid of them. That we are afraid of becoming one of them. Afraid of being labeled a bum and a loser. Americans only love winners. To be poor in America means not to exist. A life of attacks by the police and used by politicians for political gain. A life inside prisons and the fraudulent justice system as well as in red lined slums and rural hell.

What have I learned from the poor of South America? They know suffering and have risen above it on the whole. It is our time to suffer now. Will we rise above it, or will it destroy us like it did in Weimar Germany? Will a man of action come and make promises? Many Americans of the past generations (especially in the 19th century, not to mention slaves and native peoples) knew suffering and extreme poverty, but they are mostly all gone now.
[Ed. note: I do believe "suffering and extreme poverty" is making a comeback.]

What does this have to do with Mr. [Greg] Smith? I am not sure I know. I have a strong sense that elements within the Occupy Movement are longing for a culture of simplicity. A culture of realness. A culture where it is OK to be poor. A culture that speaks in a clear and honest way. A culture void of phony success and material extremes.

They are no longer buying the lies of Madison Avenue. They are disillusioned by what our country has become. They are coming out of the ocean of lies they have been fed for most of their lives. One can see this urge in the many drum circles within the now-destroyed encampments. One can see this in the well disciplined rap sessions, the use of hand signals instead of yelling and arguing. They want civility, politeness and kindness to be the norm of human interaction. They want all persons to be treated with dignity and compassion. A culture that no longer worships at the alter of greed fed by fear of being poor. A culture void of neo-imperialism/colonialism and of course militarism. I think there are many within and without the movement that are striking at the root instead of the branches. (Arthur Silber, for one, has done a magnificent and heroic job of identifying very clearly the roots that must be struck at every depth.)

The slogan should no longer be, "the poor and destitute, but rather "the wealthy and destitute." The wealthy in America (and Europe, for that matter) are truly the real poor and destitute amongst us. They have a saying in Latin America, that if a man is super rich, he must be a crook! The rich are not celebrities in that culture, and I find that reality quite pleasant. Mr. Smith sermonized us on the proper corporate culture lacking at Goldman. Fuck the whole corporate culture, Mr. Smith. It is rotten to the core and only worthy of death and incineration. Corporate culture is a culture of evil. It dehumanizes all within it, and turns them into "Little Eichmanns."

The road is long and hard. The security organs of the Corporate State are well oiled and loaded for battle. I agree with Chris Hedges that the military detentions law was passed because the Corporate State is fearful that the police will not be able to protect them from what is coming, and they will need the military to crush their enemies, to crush the poor. It is time for us to bear our Cross now. Once we lose fear of it, we will find that it will carry us through it all.
If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.

If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.
~Henry David Thoreau
Loafers and law breakers. The foundation of of a new American culture? Let us hope so with all our might.

Sir, I am your servant in Peace,

Sylvanus Urban

*
The Cure, How Beautiful You Are - Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

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