Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Trumperium: Rummaging in the Ruins of Progressive Politics

We are now entering the "Trumperium" a sinister, unethical and amoral wasteland, where a kleptocrat and his cronies from around the world, will be allowed to cavort among the ruins of every value that progressive politics have always held dear.

Here are two samples of the shocked awakening to what until recently was an unthinkably desolate landscape:
We are not in an ordinary postelection period of national unity and rapprochement. We are facing the potential abrogation of fundamental American ideals. We stand at the precipice, staring into an abyss that grows darker by the day.  Charles Blow - New York Times

This is the most dangerous political period I think the country has entered since probably the Civil War, in that we have a president who from a psychological point of view seems erratic and from a political point of view seems to be authoritarian. And that is a very bad combination. I mean, you could have a kleptocracy in the United States much like you have in Russia(...) Think about this: The Republican Party was worried about Hillary Clinton making $100 million giving speeches and running a foundation. This guy, his family is running a multibillion-dollar conglomerate with no blind trusts to avoid any conflict of interest. His role model seems to be Putin. Van Jones - GQ
The "upside" of all of this, if you could call it that, the "lemonade from lemons", is that progressive Americans now have a chance facing the Trumperium to create a vibrant, "take it to the streets" left like the one that accompanied Martin Luther King and resisted the war in Vietnam, or like the one that energized Roosevelt's New Deal.

The question being, who are going to be the "Freedom Riders", or the Panthers? Who is going to write and sing the fighting songs, now that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize? What will be the "We Shall Overcome" of the anti-Trumperium underground?

A suggestion:

Americans have little experience of being ruled by vindictive, demagogically authoritarian governments filled with generals, union busters, financial tricksters and tacky, neonazi, propaganda machines, however, our southern neighbors from Rio Bravo to Patagonia, do have vast experience in such matters and over the years they have perfected techniques of resistance, techniques which their northern neighbors would do well to study and apply.

Here is a recent example:

One of the problems facing the new anti-Trumperium underground is that the left has been buried under the rubbish that neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism has dumped on it for so long that many people, including (especially?) many people who think of themselves as progressive have forgotten what at bottom the left really is.

This is where poetry can help.


Poetry exists in the place where the heart and the mind speak fluently to each other.

There is a poem by the Cuba's national poet, Nicolás Guillén, which inspired the Chilean resistance to Pinochet. I've translated Guillén's poem into English as best I can, unfortunately in the process I've destroyed the cadences of its beautiful Spanish.  You can get a better idea of its blood stirring beauty by listening to the classic Quilapayún version from Chile. 

Guillén's verses express in a very few words what the left is about: human beings joining together, "united we stand, divided we fall", to defend their humanity and all the simple, humble things that make life human, against the people, things and situations that make being truly, fully human impossible. "Solidarity" is just a clumsy word for brotherhood, as in "liberté, égalité, fraternité".

The song expresses these ideas, but more than anything else it expresses the emotion that is felt when these ideas are put into practice.

The Wall – Nicholas Guillen 
To make this wall, bring me all the hands:  
From the Blacks, their black hands, from the Whites, their white hands.

A wall to go from the sea to the mountains, from the hills to the sea, all the way to the horizon...
- Knock, knock!  
- Who’s there?  
A rose and a carnation ...
- Open the wall!
- Knock, knock!  
- Who’s there?  
The Colonel’s sword ...
- Close the wall!
- Knock, knock!  
- Who’s there? 
The dove and the bay leaf ...
- Open the wall!
- Knock, knock!  
- Who’s there? 
The scorpion and the centipede ...
- Close the wall!

The heart of a friend, opens the wall; 
the poison and the dagger, closes the wall; 
the myrtle and mint, opens the wall; 
the tooth of the serpent, closes the wall; 
the nightingale in the flower, opens the wall ...

Let's raise a wall  joining all our hands; 
The Blacks, their black hands 
The Whites, their white hands.  
A wall to go from the sea to the mountains, from the hills to the sea, all the way to the horizon...
Now the world waits for a US version of these feelings. It could be beautiful moment, its up to all of us to make it so. DS

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