Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fictional Alternatives

I've had revolution on my mind lately, possibly from reading Huey Newton's doctoral dissertation. Well that, and I've been thinking about America Libre by Raul Ramos y Sanchez. I read his novel about a year ago, I don't want to spend too much time on a summary, but it is in general about the Chicano population in the U.S. that faces major oppression, and in turn revolts. It's actually very close to our current reality. It revolves around Manolo, the protagonist who is recruited into a an activist/revolutionary movement-La Defensa del Pueblo. What has my thoughts, is that the movement is funded by Ramon Garcia, a man married to a veteran Hollywood actress and Josefina Herrera, a young Latina who was able to retire wealthy after being successful in some type of digital work (I can't remember the exact details of everything, and I don't have the book nearby). Nonetheless Josefina and Ramon pool together their financial resources to fund La Defensa del Pueblo, providing employment for members through a recycling business, but it's really a front for their revolutionary plans. That right there is what has my thoughts.

I've been thinking about activists, that tend to be all about communism and/or socialism, and feel there should be an equal distribution of wealth etc. etc. However in this novel, we have activists who I want to say concede, but I don't mean concede as in they surrender to capitalism, but they acknowledge and evolve. They are still activists, but they are wealthy activists who choose to use their wealth to fund their cause. It's interesting, because that's what seems to work, understandably it's fiction. But reading history books and what not about activist groups that expound about revolution, and at times even make slight attempts at deconstructing the current structure-- they end up failing. Or they create small pockets of resistance via neighborhood clinics, breakfast programs, or civilian police patrols such as the Brown Berets or Black Panthers. But all of these come and go almost too soon, due to interference by our government via counter intelligence infiltration or lack of upkeep within the organization. However in the novel, Ramon and Josefina seem to adjust, they work within a capitalist structure to create change and have the needs of the local Xicano/a community addressed.

Along the same lines a couple of years back I read WildC.A.T.s 3.0, a 24 issue comic book run written by Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen. He posits a very interesting idea, Jack "Spartan" Marlowe the leader of this team of "superheroes" decides that instead of running around fighting supervillains and aliens, he'll become a CEO of a corporation. He creates a battery that never runs out of energy and sells it to the public. Soon they go from batteries for your discman to car batteries that will never die out. As you can imagine, other U.S. based corporations and the Energizer Bunny lose their shit, because Spartan's company would make all the other company's obsolete, and the end result would be no profit, no money, no wealth. The main character's main interest isn't wealth, it's helping humanity, not through dressing up in spandex and fighting the villain of the month, but through finding genuine ways to help humanity. However, the corporations that oppose Spartan, become the big bad supervillains of the story. I reference this series because again it points to a situation where a character works within capitalism, and tries to create upheaval nearly resulting in a revolution.

Too often I read in history that groups rise up, protest and are then beaten down by the government's personal army, the police force. Too many times a group pulls the trigger literally, lives are lost, and when the group loses now-a-days they are labeled "domestic terrorists" or "cynical militia men/women." Peaceful protesting still leads to loss of life or beatings for the peaceful protesters, just look at the Arab Spring, or Occupy Wall Street. The protestors aren't suppose to defend themselves, they should just take their beating or the bullet in their skull. The Arab Spring has resulted in more success from what it seems, Occupy Wall Street, no so much. I think that to a certain degree, there are Chicano/a Studies programs that created their own separate entity working within the university's structure, they held out and did it their way through all the bureaucratic bullshit thrown at them. However a step seems to be missing, because they then tend to falter. So is the answer to revolution or change to embrace capitalism or the current structure? Well I've read two imaginary examples where this has occurred, and the end result still shows that the powers that be, still try to find some way to maintain the status quo. Even in the imagination of the writers, it is almost impossible to advance change without casualties. And this is in their imagination, where they can make anything occur, but it adds to the reality of the situation.

Characters like Ramon, Josefina, and Spartan, present fascinating alternatives, not as in-"if you can't beat 'em join 'em," that sounds too defeatist, but as in, "if you can't beat 'em with your weapons, beat 'em with their weapons."



  1. All empires end. Our concept of time is warped because we get indoctrinated with the 'greatest nation on earth' shit so much that no one thinks it'll ever end. History tells us otherwise.

    You raise some interesting points. i think some of use have actually tried that strategy but then fell victim to the system in that they get a little clout, a little money and forget what they were doing in the first place.

    The thing with us is, no one is ever happy with what anyone is doing. What some call revolution, others call selling out. And vice-versa. We're in this weird digital age now where no one wants to break any eggs but everyone wants virtual revolution.

    It's really bizarre. I often say that the internet killed the activist. All anyone has to do these days is sign a petition online and you've done your part, soldier!

    The old revolutionaries would either barf or die laughing at this.

    Ask yourself what is the point of revolution. Is it the mere act of resisting that matters most? Or do most people do it with specific goals in mind? I always go back to Zapata and then to Socrates...The un-examined life is not worth living, especially on your knees.

    You might have revolts or revolutions that last for decades or centuries. And some of them never achieve what they set out to do. So why bother?
    Well, because of the knees and the examining of said knees, har har.

    It's a philosophy. The problem today is that most people are too plugged in and brain dead and consume everything like fast food. No one thinks and no one wants to think. Everyone is just doing mental masturbation and then it's on to the next thing.

    Interestingly enough, we're smack dab in the middle of a revolution right now. This blog is revolutionary. So is your writing. The very word 'Xicano' is revolutionary. They are trying to bury us and out history and assimilate their way to Hispanic happiness and glee...

    This is why I publish. Like Tupac, I may not change the world myself but maybe someone, somewhere down the line will...that's my hope any way.

    But yeah, Zapata. Socrates. Knees. Sorry for the rant. Good post.

  2. The post itself stemmed from something I read about the Di Giorgio labor strike from the 1940's.I wanted to use that labor struggle as an example of how many a times capitalism is used as a weapon by those that have the wealth. Di Giorgio filed a $2 million law suit against a union that was striking against it, saying that a film released by them libeled the company. Very shitty and lame. But the company managed to practically bankrupt the union and end the struggle by having it tied up in legal fees and the courts. I forgot to mention that in my post originally. Anyhow it's similar to what's occurring in Arizona and the representatives of the Mexican-American Studies program.

    But yes, people might try working within corporate structures, but they are just eventually corrupted by the power and wealth, or they end up disillusioned like the person I wrote about in a previous post who felt there were less shady dealings in the penitentiary. It seems that only fictional characters can work within the system and not risk losing their original ideology/philosophy when doing so. Maybe it's just in my imagination that there can be a group of individuals who can disrupt and cause upheaval within the corporate structure by using it to their advantage by advancing their ideology that might be more focused toward Xicanos/as.

    I'm also not suggesting people become reformists. As I said, it's about evolving and using certain tools to the advantage of your own cause, so it's reform in a sense, but one in which the original philosophy or end goal is kept. Then again I have a Chinese friend who told me her country has become so flexible that it is no longer necessarily communist, it's very much capitalistic. Which made it hard not to assume they sold out. But according to her they are trying to compete in the world market, which essentially thrives off capitalism. I guess it just comes to show a balance is required, if such a thing can exist.

    Then again, maybe it's just my imagination, because again you're right, all empires fall, but I guess in my mind this should already be occurring. In my imagination, the revolution has at times played out, or it continues to play out, but again that's in my imagination, but the reality is that actual change will take years, years that many of us might not be around to see.

    Anyhow, thanks for the incite you provided.