Viva La Huelga
“I won’t Play the Sap for you”—Sam Spade
Reports from Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, require a strong stomach. After four years, Obama’s campaign for hope and change has turned into ashes. The chief executive draws up his “kill lists” behind closed doors and releases angry viruses against Iranian centrifuges–conducting warfare they way thirteen year old boys target the bullies in school, while playing video games.
The loyal opposition in the republican party has angrily denounced the President’s imperial initiatives above as political and attacked social initiatives: supporting children of illegal immigrants, dreamers, who would become citizens and marriage for same sex couples. But cultural claims and conflict about “dreamers” and “marriage” only divert attention from the economic system.
The bankers have stolen, according to reports, not billions, but trillion of dollars, while sitting on the boards of the Federal Reserve banks wherein they received guarantees for their own banks based on the full faith and credit of the 99%.
The growing power of the imperial executive in Washington D.C., promulgated by the growth of the national security state, aims to confine dissent to outliers and rag tag occupiers. Bash their heads if they prove too noisy. The real aim of imperial power means turning citizens at home into frightened sheep. The fusion of the FBI, CIA, NSA, state and local police departments, who share information across jurisdictions confirms that privacy and dissent are being commodified and criminalized.
A belief in democracy and representative government today “might” be considered a terrorist principle by the national security state tomorrow. The cops work for the corporate and community beneficiaries of Citizens United, a U.S. Supreme Court case that grants billionaires the power in the battle of words against reality. Woe unto the peacemakers.
We have slipped down the slope into democratic fascism and voting is a charade maintained by the elites for the sake of traditional liberals and customary conservatives, who still believe the U.S. Constitution is in effect. The current presidential campaign is full of sound and fury but means little in terms of outcome. Corporations and Congress have colluded and conspired to offer voters—the 99%–false choices–one group of elites v. the other elites, who seek control over the spoils.
American citizens, mostly a nation of consumers, are experiencing politics as the theatre of the absurd, not unlike Europeans during the post WWII era. Literary lights like Albert Camus and Eugene Ionesco recognized the empty nature of political-social life. Today nothing means much of anything in the present tense, hence the fascination with the past—nostalgia–or the focus on the future as hope?
The most sensible citizens are the disciples of Voltaire, the Constant Gardeners, aka Candide, who tend to the vegetable patch. The wise ones plays defense like the Akido masters and withdraw. To abjure consumerism except for necessities that maintain the body and spirit, a roof, fresh fruit or art and literature, even pop culture, seems like a more propitious way to combat capitalism. Call it the Tao of “The General Strike” : nonviolent and unannounced resistance.
Any political history of Taos from the age of the Anasazi to Blood and Thunder to the latest battles about acequias would focus on the way citizens ignore the law (but ask for forgiveness). Think of the pre-Hispanic Indian wars or the age of Spanish and American conquest from the 16th to 20th Centuries. Violent tumult arose as outsiders and insiders, outlaws, raiders, and slaveholders of the 19th Century settled their claims, first with weapons then in the courts—an extension of violence by other means. In the 20th Century, swindlers like Manby corrupted willing politicos, who, in turn customized FDR’s social programs to benefit their constituencies and their own power.
As the fugitives from mainstream America–social rejects and dropouts, artists, hippies, realtors, and second homers or slackers–have learned, you must pay to play in a political system wherein la familia competes for the spoils and retaliates against the naysayers. The “accidental” ascendancy of Anglo candidates in the recent election merely confirms the point. Vote splitting by native majorities is merely temporary.
If you can get along with your neighbors, you can ignore politics altogether—like the denizens of Two Peaks, west of the Gorge. Just don’t try to change the name of your road or call attention to corrupt practices, lest you become a target of the Mayor–like the sign man. (Or like the wandering cow, you could get killed by the brave WarChief.)
As alternative to the U.S. Constitution, you might find solace in the American contribution to world literature–the moral realism of the hard-boiled detective novel, wherein the detective recognizes the corrupt nature of society but maintains an individual code. When Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon tells Brigid O’Shaughnessy, “I won’t play the sap for you,” he lists about seven elements of the code, a code that can be interpreted, rightfully understood, as loyalty, honor, and duty. Call it existential self-sufficiency.
Similarly, the code born of experience is a mainstay of westerns like Shane, The Wild Bunch, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, or in the heroic hard-boiled versions of Raymond Chandler’s novels, like the famed Bogart vehicle, wherein The Big Sleep is our reward.
Viva La Huelga!