Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Isn't it ironic...

While making the latest BEING HAD Times, I couldn't help noticing that we are on the road to a global nuclear holocaust.

Hey, how is that for a first sentence. Kinda catchy, isn't it?

Unfortunately, I am not entirely joking.

One of the biggest news stories is Venezuela's Hugo Chavez following George Bush around Central America and trying to undo any "good" that the American president might have wanted. Where George W might speak of democracy and personal freedoms, right there after him was Chavez speaking to the masses with a Marxist message that it is actually socialism that allows for the freedom from the rich oppressors, of which Bush himself is of course a relative poster boy.

Now I know we could say that Fidel Castro has always been a great hero for Latin America. And of course Che Guevara. And because of this, there is ripe soil for the planting of these new/old ideas. Washington of course shrugs this all off to activities of a rogue government, an insignificant blip on the current "capitalism is king" radar. But in fact, this is in no way an isolated event.

At the end of last year, and I am speaking of course about the time before Russia drop-kicked Belarus and stole all of its oil refining business (and 20% of all of its money). At the time there were polls taken throughout the former USSR and the results showed that far better than 50% of everybody wanted to return to some sort of brotherhood union. Certainly Lukashenka was at the forefront of such thought as he chaired meetings of the CIS and spoke with great enthusiasm about establishing a new center of power to combat America and Europe's economic strength.

Most all of these arguments had great on-the-ground support amongst the populace. There was a great deal of hope that, building upon the relative prosperity of the previous two years, the people were on their way to a golden era full of some of the more positive aspects of the old days such as public order, peace, family values and a sense of togetherness. There was an opposing argument from Europe that said this was only the sentiment of the pensioners; the old timers were the only one's voting, the idea went, and therefore this, like the elections was a stilted idea. But nevertheless, I believed in this idea as well.

From my perspective, from inside of Belarus, I see that young people here are not really of the mind to enter into a lifelong fight for material wealth. Rather, they, like their parents think more in terms of security; they want simply to have enough, to have a good job that they can rely on and a nice place to live. To them this is what it means to live normally. And I believe they think this way because they are not oblivious to the fact that their own happiness might rely on interaction with other happy people, i.e., their community. Not islands unto themselves, individuals aware that they are a part of a group.

But then there was the Russian New Year. Right in the middle of a genuine swell in hope that there just might be a peaceful future, Putin simply pulled the plug out of the bathwater, blinked a few times as if he didn't recognize anyone and went back into the house alone.

This change of heart might just be the greatest irony of the 20th century. Controlling the market for its natural resources has elevated the country into something resembling a functioning entity. This is not a bad thing. But if I am not mistaken, it was Russia who was at the very forefront of communal thought from the beginning of the 20th century. It was Russia who gave birth to serious Marxist thought. It was Russia who gave us all of these big black Lenin statues which populate the squares of every town big enough to support a post office. It was Russia who killed some legitimate percentage of its own people just to make sure that this sort of thinking became grounded so deeply in the consciousness of its people that the idea could survive even a decade and a half of starvation.

I hear Alinis Morrisette singing: "Isn't it ironic?"

Now, my good though short memory'd friend Bob Mayer taught me about an index by which we could judge the actual strength of a country. His point was that the percentage of money paid into the national coffers via taxes is stronger indication of national strength that that which comes from the exploitation of natural resources. In this model of course Chavez and Putin, are riding a false high because they are pulling their power from the earth and not from the earnings of their people. The best opposing model is Japan who is exemplary because they have almost no resources but for their labors and yet do very well.

But this thought only registers in theory, and certainly does not compute with the guys who actually have the money. In the case of Chavez, though he walks the walk and talks the talk, it is the money that fills the house and brings on the Ole's, or whatever they yell at him when he gives Bush the finger. He may be dealing from a false strength, but at least he IS walking the walk and talking the talk that all of the money is for the whole of the population and not just for those at the top. Putin on the other hand seems to think that really, in fact it was that Euro disco that was really worth fighting for. It was decadence and power and the ability to trample one's fellow man was what he always wanted. He doesn't want a return to the old soviet days of equality, shared wealth and brotherhood unions; he only wants to go back to the days when he had a longer ballistic missile than the American president. Or at least one that had the same power to turn off the lights on a whim.

It is a great irony that he does this DESPITE the groundswell of democratic interest going the other way, DESPITE actually being in a position that might allow for a chance to satisfy his people, AND DEPSITE that the west likes it better this way.

To me this whole situation is so ass-backwards that the only viable conclusion to this mess that I can see is a final f-ck it finger push; turn out the lights, the party is over and let's all sit down and watch Terminator 4 for the rest of our short, scorched lives.

What I mean to say is that they had it! They had the resources to do what they had been dreaming of for 15 years, what they had built upon for 70. They had it here and they had it in South America and they even had a common enemy to unite around. All they needed was for Putin the practice what has been preached, to do what was expected of him; just do what Lukashenka said he would do if he was in the driver's seat. (You think that that Lukashenka for president of Russia is a joke? Think again.)

I know people hate it when I talk like this but I am one who agrees that there does indeed need to be that opposing party, that socialist thought that keeps capitalism in check. America is right; we do need at least a second party. It is not that Communism failed, it is that the great shark hunt is destroying the planet. We need to find a medium, a compromise between that which is for the self and that which is for the community. And if the only way to do this is by there being two polar opposites, then this is what must be. The real dictator is the one who rules unopposed; i.e., the guy in the White House, not the guy in Minsk.

So as I say, the future is not looking good for this theory. These are not prosperous times for all. Lukashenka is playing the glad handing Happy Jack trying to find fools to invest in his national money losers. Putin is partying all night with his coke/ecstasy friends, playing live action Clue (I say Mr. Green killed the journalist by throwing him out of the pantry window) while rape porn featuring Belarus, Ukraine and all of the former USSR runs on the DVD. Only Chavez seems to remember that the revolution was built on power to the people. Only he is really still standing up and offering the opposing voice.

The game right now in Russia, Europe, America, the Middle East, India, China is about nuclear buildup. Why? Why this must be I can never imagine. But the result of all of this discord, of all of this greed cannot be peace. Two rabbits coming together do not a bear make; you can't make orange juice from lemons. We, WE, are looking for trouble.

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for liars and hypocrites and selfish con men who only wish to live above the law. And believe me, if they don't care about you while they are alive, for sure they won't have a problem taking you with them to their death.

As in…boom.

More soon…