". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

David Simon on Capitalism, Alterman on Torture & Fidel on the Summit

Tipped to me by Renegade Eye: Bill Moyers talks with David Simon about The Wire speaking truth to power in the so-called drug war bs, the poor and capitalism. It's a brilliant companion piece to the bs the Obama people are spewing that we should just move on from the overwhelming facts that this nation legalized torture and used it indescriminately as well, and not a single person is being held accountable -- except Lynndie England -- a poor, uneducated, jobless woman. This interview shows, if you ever needed convincing (Ha!) how well prepared Simon is to take on post-failure of the levees' New Orleans and make Tremé.

Obama, intelligent as he is, educated as he is, married to a health professional, must know that we the people CANNOT 'just move on' from something as traumatic to our national body politic as breaking the law and shredding the Constitution, as committing torture, anymore than an affair is something the betrayed marriage partner can just move on from productively without the faithless partner having been held to account at the very least, with real remorse and apology and change of behavior from the faithless partner -- which in the case of the body politic is all our of perverted and corrupted institutions and those who run and staff them.

All mental health professionals say this. Thus the Truth and Reconciliation movement in South Africa, for example. This nation can't be even as honest as South Africa was -- and truly, in New Orleans and Louisiana, it's been an apartheid system forever. The Civil War didn't change that because the Reconstruction military got driven out in a coup and the nation did nothing about it -- did not want to do anything about it, just like now with torture, stealing elections and creating an evil war and destroying the national and global economy. Louisiana re-established that apartheid system very quickly in every part of the state's institutions, and it wasn't even challenged again until the Civil Rights era. The destruction of New Orleans's poor is part of the new re-establishment of Louisiana apartheid.

The Obama response to everything, including what the U.S. has done for two centuries in South America and the Caribbean, "we can't look back, we must move forward," is his verision of Fukuyama's 1992 The End of History. We know how intelligent that was, how productive for the future that worked out.'Moving forward' cannot take place when all the structures, forms and even the actual personages are all still in place. It's same with those who have created that "perspective of some," that Obama labeled it, that the U.S. is a military bully operating for U.S. and multi-national corps' interests, first-second-third-and-only, that tortures, that commits and supports massacres as in Guatamala -- or that we regard and treat 15% of nation as disposable, that torture is something we don't do, but we did, but we don't, and nobody is responsible for it.

That's not a perspective. That is truth. That is history. History that hasn't ended. Not as long as the same institutions, personages, objectives and desires remain in place without any accountability.

Eric Alterman's Altercation & The Nation regarding Pres. O's determination not to give us trials of torturers:

[ "Hey, Mr. President. Put these barbarians on trial and watch me. I'll be the guy out in front of the courtroom with a lawn chair, some sandwiches, and a cooler of fine beer. I'll be the guy who hires the brass band to serenade these criminal bastards on their way off to the big house. I'll be the one who shows up at every one of their probation hearings with a copy of the Constitution, the way crime victims show up at the parole board when their attacker comes up for release. I'll declare a national holiday -- Victory Over Torture Day -- and lead the parade right up whatever gated street it is that Cheney lives on these days. Trust me, Mr. President. I can take it." ]

In Counterpunch, "The Secret Summit" by Fidel Castro:

[ "Neither represented nor excommunicated, only today could I learn what was discussed at the Summit of Port of Spain. They led us all to entertain hopes that the meeting would not be secret, but those running the show deprived us of such an interesting intellectual exercise. We shall get to know the substance but not the tone of voice, the look in the eyes or the facial look that can be a reflection of a person's ideas, ethic and character. A Secret Summit is worse than a silent movie. For a few minutes the television showed some images. There was a gentleman on Obama's left whom I could not identify clearly as he laid his hand on Obama's shoulder, like an eight-year-old boy on a classmate in the front row. Then, another member of his entourage standing beside him interrupted the president of the United States for a dialogue; those coming up to address him had the appearance of an oligarchy that never knew what hunger is and who expect to find in Obama's powerful nation the shield that will protect the system from the fearsome social changes." ]


Renegade Eye said...

Really good post.

Obama from the Latin America meeting to his decision on torture, couldn't be anymore weasel like or maybe cynical. He never will make the decisive moves that you want.

The economy is another reputiation of The End of History. The neoconservatives were based on empire abroad and a shining economy at home. Capitalism isn't like capitalism at the founding of this country when its ideas were progressive. Now we are living in the end of history, philosophy (postmodernism) and the end of ideology.

Foxessa said...

Vaquero sent the Moyers-Simon interview out to his list. So thanks again, Ren, for the tip.

A companion to this is from the NY Observer:

[ "Walter Benn Michaels, the punchy professor of American literature and theory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, came to New York last week and delivered an emphatic message to novelists: Please start writing more about class issues and the social order of contemporary life! It was a rainy evening, and Mr. Michaels spoke as part of a panel at the New York Public Library. At the center of the evening’s discussion was a brief, polemical essay that Mr. Michaels had recently published in BookForum in which he argued that the leading voices in American letters had, in their work, rendered “the reality of our social arrangements invisible.”

In his essay, Mr. Michaels implicated three groups of writers
In his essay, Mr. Michaels implicated three groups of writers: those who traffic narcissistically in memoir and self-examination; those who write fiction about past horrors like the Holocaust and slavery; and those who focus in their work on the tribulations of individual characters while ignoring the societal pressures that determine those characters’ lives.
" ]

I strongly disagree with him concerning fiction written about the past -- the historical novel is my most dearly beloved, and I consider such fictions portals into history for all kinds of readers, particularly young adults and kids. But when it comes to your typical lit novel coming from U.S. writers these days, yes, indeed.

Crime fiction has been doing very well what he's suggesting. Which is WHY The Wire is so good. David Simon and that huge stable of writers that includes Richard Price and Lahane and Pellicanos and others, unlike so many novelists and people in television, radio, journalism et al., can see entire worlds beyond the ends of their own noses. Who else than Simon ever came to television from being a working investigative beat reporter in a black city?

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

Could lit prof Michaels seriously believe that Toni Morrison shouldn't have written Beloved for instance? Or Marlon James's brilliant, though in places iffy, The Book of Night Women(which also is the only interesting novel I've read this year so far, and the only one I've actually read from first page to last page, i.e. finished). But when it comes to your typical lit novel coming from U.S. writers these days, or just about any fiction that comes out of the so-called 'white' experience, it's hard not to agree with Michaels.

His arguments are another illustration of how little real culture this nation has outside of our African American and immigrant cultures.

At least now, at the End of History.

I gew up within a real culture, even if I didn't necessarily like it, or all of it -- but it was a culture and community, with roots and meaning. However, I've seen how my sister and brother have been lost since leaving it. They haven't found anything to substitute, but they're no longer a part of it either. Howling at televised or even real world sports events just doesn't make for a 'culture.'

Considering how good our crime fiction writers are, some of our spec fic writers are, maybe Michaels, like the writers he's criticizing, should get out more.

Love, C.

Renegade Eye said...

I don't read as much into what Michaels said as you.

There is a tendency to take on great subjects in historical fiction, but reduce the theme to being a statement about an individual's character.

Even if what I said in the last paragraph is true, it doesn't negate good or great historical fiction.

Considering how good our crime fiction writers are, some of our spec fic writers are, maybe Michaels, like the writers he's criticizing, should get out more.LOL

Renegade Eye said...

OT: The Indian police say that there is not evidence the father was selling Slumdog Kid.

Foxessa said...

I hope so!

If was, the publicity put a stop to that.

Whatever. If not her, then another -- nay, thousands and thousands of little girls are subject to that kind of hideous treatment.

The proof is that little girls in India, as in so many other parts of the world, are terribly exposed to abuse and exploitation of every kind from their families.

Going by what I so tragically know for fact in this country and everywhere else, I will never think it's out of the world to believe that a girl's male relatives will do anything to her, do anything to exploit her -- and that all too often due to their own abuse and / or powerlessness mothers go along with it.

Love, c.

Foxessa said...

Recall too, that those who ordered the torture say that torture never happened and we needed to torture.

Keep your eyes on everybody.

That scenario of selling off the virginity to the highest bidder of a girl in that Oscar winning movie is just what does happen.

Hey, it even happens here! Look at movie history. And the history of the music biz, and so much else.

Love, C.