Thursday, March 04, 2004


Getting down to business

So what is happening with the CORRESPONDANCES PAGE is that it is taking a long time to get started. The reason for this is that I made a change to my filing system a few months ago so as to accommodate a project I am not going to follow up on. The intended project was a simple copying of all of the documents related to my Polish experience so as to make room for different things in its current location. The filing system had to be changed to accommodate accurate dating of the documents. However, upon re-thinking, I realized that many of those documents would have to remain in their original location so as to prove authenticity and so the project was scrapped. So, now unfortunately I have to re-file everything in such a way that I can create the intended overview document(s) I want to print here, and that is a long winded project, hence the delay.

And along these lines, I am thinking that I am going to have to make a general change in the format of these daily writings dealing with mail as well. Perhaps it is because of the volume of mail, or perhaps it is simply that I am not typing as quickly as I used to, but these internet sessions are going on far too long and are becoming too expencive. I am in a very difficult financial situation (as I have said many, many, many times) and I simply cannot justify any extra expenses. So, my thinking at the moment is that I might have to start answering your letters one day late, the extra day used for preparation so I can minimize my internet time. I am without a computer still, there never having been enough money to replace the one stolen from me in Poland, so I am having to do everything at a public internet where the computers are very slow, unreliable, expensive and my time limited. I apologize if I am creating a situation where it seems that I am forgetting people or that I don’t care, it is simply something that is beyond my control. I simply cannot spend money I don’t have.

Uladsimir Valichkin

I have mentioned several times here a friend of mine name Uladsimir Valichkin, and I want to talk a little about what he is ding here again today. Mr. Valichkin works for the Viasna Human rights organization and has done so for several years. The main focus of the Viasna organization is as a human rights watchdog here in Belarus. Political intrigues and suppression so much a part f the Soviet times are still very much a part of the fabric of modern Belarus. Though officially a democratic nation, the government wields an incredible control over the dealings of its citizens. These practices often overrun the boundaries of moral or ethical decency, and Mr Valichkin has made it his profession to both help people who have been run over by the wheels of the machine. Viasna also catalogues the political dealings of the state as they pertain to suppression of free speech, political opposition, unfair and unjust laws and general systemic reform. And it should be stated that Mr Valichkin has paid for his oppositionist stance many times, both in terms of personal penalties and in the government’s control and suppression of his organization. It is indeed an uphill battle, but one Mr. Valichkin has never surrendered. I have wanted to write something about him for several days now. He and his organization is in desperate need of support and sponsorship. They do very good and important work and his effort deserve to be reconciled.

All contact numbers can be found on the Viasna website and I am printing at the bottom of today’s blog some excerpts from Links this months Viasna News letter.

Some thoughts about being a revolutionary.

I have been doing some more thinking about the case of Ms. Tatiana Menaker and her bad luck in being banished from that seething hotbed of political turmoil, San Francisco State University. There have been a few points in Mr. Kaplan’s text that have been sticking in my mind. Firstly, as someone who now inhabits one of the poorest countries in the world, and that was very much an intrical part of the USSR, I couldn’t help thinking of the obviousness of the economic situation of the GUPS organization at state. It occurs to me that the “rooms” made available for on-campus organizations had some monetary and political attachments to go along with them. What I mean is, there must be either a yearly fee to be paid, or the organization competes for the rooms on merit and size of membership- or both. To have achieved the status mentioned in Mr. Kaplan’s article, the GUPS must have demonstrated great wealth in both of these areas to the powers that control such things at State, and to have done so for a long time. Or in other words, they obviously wield great power at state, and are very well organized. And, as with any powerful political organization, they are not interested in being opposed either by physical force (the loud and boisterous GUPS demonstrations show they are physically willing to fight) or by attack on their ideology. No powerful entity ever simply happened spontaneously. And no well craft and successful organization is willing to give up their hard-earned power without a fight.

Though Mr. Kaplan made clear that Ms. Menaker’s problems started when she angered Donna Cunningham, the Officer of Judicial Student Affairs at SF State, with an obvious attempt at negative expository journalism, he also made clear that her doing so also brought the wrath of both the GUPS and the organization down on her. The end result of her attempted journalistic move against the GUPS, though potentially proving collusion, monetary or otherwise between the GUPS and Ms. Cunningham, was the simple dismissal and banishment of herself into off-campus exile. Possibly she will rise to greater power through the underground, but I have my doubts as to whether or not her martyrdom will be strong enough to precipitate a revolution.

The reason I say this is that in every revolutionary action, one needs to understand the results of ones intended actions. Simple harassment certainly could lead to some discord in the ranks of the ruling parties, but without planning for potential counter attacks, these actions sometimes tend only to contribute to the image of weakness on the part of the revolutionary. And in this case, openly attacking an organization that is OPENLY AND OVERTLY PICKING A FIGHT WITH A MINORETY GROUP, one has to be very careful and cautious not to deplete ones ranks unnecessarily.

Ms. Menaker was 35 when she came to the states from Russia. “Refusnick” because of religious affiliation or not, to me what this means is that she certainly must have been taught about, all in great detail, Marxism, Lenin and the history of the October Revolution. And quite a lot about working for a unified cause. She might have made her point about the GUPS through her own writing or through Mr. Kaplan’s article but winning a necessary war against a more powerful group takes a hell of a lot more than getting one's self exiled. Obviously the GUPS is centered on working from and developing “power”. And, they are equally as obviously using and anti-Jewish campaign to bolster its ranks and coffers. Seeing the potential danger to herself and other Jewish students on campus makes for a legitimate cause for action. That was good. Getting herself expelled because of poor planing, disorganization and the poor execution of a rather foolish plan was bad.In other words, running into an administrator’s office and demanding an interview intended as an expository piece against the interviewee is a poorly played game of chess. And not having smilingly accepted the minor penalty only served to take an obviously important lady out of the game entirely.

The Jews have been used as scapegoats for far too many political entities in this world not to understand what the GUPS is doing. We are however, as group, still a minority. Working against a stronger and more established foe, stealth and guile would be much better choices at this stage of the revolution. Rather than a kamikaze attack, perhaps it would be better to organize your constituents a little better. Distribution of propaganda, education- all of the same means being practiced against you now might be far more effective and would also divert some of your opponents energies away from their other businesses. Also, I might point out that allowing her counter-argument to be placed solely on her religious affiliation, though obviously where it is felt the most, is foolish in a broad revolutionary action because it would fail to win similar support amongst non-Jews. Acting against hate in general however, is a much broader and more easily popular ideology under which to organize.

And of course, if a revolution is called for and if you are fighting a short handed fight, guerilla activities like Lenin, Che and Fidelle practiced would certainly be a better choice. Lenein said over and over again that Revolution was as an educational discipline to studied and mastered. He worked his plan for a decade and a half before taking the rains. Be patient. Find the weaknesses. Infiltrate! Plant spies and weed em out one at a time like Stalin did back home. Or find a friend in the state department and catch ‘em on taxes like they got Capone. Fight the fight that is actually available to you. Lenin was followed for being smart and strong of character, remember? Without the power to drop the bomb, the war will not be won in a day. And:

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. The trick is to make some other dumb son-of-a-bitch die for his country."

Patton said that. There must be room for freedom of speech in order for a healthy world to exist. And even more important is for people to have the desire to participate in the governing of their world and to demand to have a voice in it. This is true everywhere. And, we absolutly should join together and rise up as one against the propigation of hate in any form. Or at least begin to learn to see the difference. But I disagree with martyrdom. Finding ways to silence oneself, does nothing but aid those power and hate mongers and opponents of freedom who want nothing better then a clear and unopposed field to play on. The sacrifice of a good revolutionary should not be made so lightly.

Some excepts from the VIASNA February news letter

8. Displays of Anti-Semitism in Belarus
January 14 the Union of Jewish NGOs and Communities of Belarus addressed Prosecutor general Viktar Sheiman with the request to launch proceedings against administration of Orthodox Books bookshop, located in Minsk, and against the Orthodox Initiative company. Jacob Basin, director of the Belarusian office of the Union of Committees of Defense of Jews of the former USSR, there are numerous facts witnessing the above mentioned companies attempted to stir up national hatred. Basin states, the facts are listed in the article "Nice Present from the Orthodox Books", published in November issue of the Aviv newspaper. The article contains evidence that the Orthodox Books and the Orthodox Initiative companies deliberately spread information defaming the Jewish people and its representatives. Jacob Basin pointed out they had informed the Prosecutor’s general office about illegal actions of both companies in October 2003. "However, the Jewish activists, who had sent the letter, did not receive any reaction. First the letter was re-addressed to the office of the borough prosecutor, and later sent to KGB for consideration", -- said Jacob Basin.

On January 14 Jacob Gutman, chair of the World Association of Belarusian Jews, registered in the United States, was detained for unauthorized picketing of the President’s Administration. Jacob Gutman came to the building with a poster, urging President Lukashenka "To Stop Demolition of Jewish sanctuaries, cemeteries, and monuments to Holocaust victims in Belarus". The moment Mr. Gutman tried to unfold the poster, he was detained by police and taken to Minsk city police station for identification and clarification of his motives. The same day Leninski borough court judge Alena Tserashkova tried him and made him an official warning. Jacob Gutman went on hunger strike in protest against displays of state anti-Semitism.

On January 21 Jacob Gutman picketed the presidential administration with a portrait of his grandfather who died in the Second World War. The moment he unfolded the portrait he was approached by police officers. As the result, he got detained again. While the police was drawing up the report, he felt unwell. He was taken to Minsk hospital.
(Links for Jacob Gutman and his organization can be found on the HOMEPAGE)

More tomorrow