Social Protest Lit: Lady Wilde’s “Despair”

indexA poem by Lady Wilde entitled “Despair” from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

Before us dies our brother, of starvation;

Around are cries of famine and despair!

Where is hope for us, or comfort or salvation–

Where–oh! where?

If the angels ever hearken, downward bending,

They are weeping, we are sure,

At the litanies of human groans ascending,

From the crushed hearts of the poor.

 

We never knew a childhood’s mirth and gladness,

Nor the proud heart of youth free and brave;

Oh, a death-like dream of wretchedness and sadness

Is life’s weary journey to the grave!

Day by day we lower sink, and lower,

Till the God-like soul within

Falls crushed beneath the fearful demon power

Of poverty and sin.

 

So we toil on, on with fever burning

In heart and brain;

So we toil on, on through bitter scorning,

Want, woe, and pain.

We dare not raise our eyes to the blue heavens

Or the toil must cease–

We dare not breathe the fresh air God has given

One hour in peace.

 

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Freedom Fighter or Terrorist???

Afghan_Muja_crossing_from_Saohol_Sar_pass_in_Durand_border_region_of_Pakistan,_August_1985The aphorism “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is a concept I have been contemplating lately with the violence between Hamas and the IDF raging so rampantly.

To state first and foremost, and this might be an insult to your intelligence, but I do not support terror in the current political climate. I am not here to radicalize you, whatever that means (just check out the confused entry for “radicalization” over at Wikipedia). And I certainly am not here to give you the “Anarchist Cookbook” and say “have at it” in an effort to overthrow the capitalist system. Not at all.

But what is the difference between a “freedom fighter” and a “terrorist?” Over at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary they define a freedom fighter as “a person who is part of an organized group fighting against a cruel and unfair government or system.” Whereas the define a terrorism as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.”

That said, cannot these two be interpreted as the same thing merely based on outlook, subjective interpretation, or even simple opinion? A terrorist can fight in an “organized group” as do freedom fighters, and a freedom fighter, as did the Russian Partisans and the French Resistance, use violent acts to frighten people, namely, the Nazis and their collaborators, as a way of trying to achieve a political goal, namely, the end of the occupation by the Third Reich.

Let us now, though, get down to the utmost glaring classification of a violent group labelled once as freedom fighters, and now as terrorists: Afghanistan’s Mujahedin.

At one time they were championed by the West as freedom fighters following their resistance to the Soviet invasion of 1979. They were portrayed fighting for their national autonomy and reestablishing their religious convictions against the atheistic Red Army. They were even provided military arms by the U.S. Congress. But after their victory in terms of the Soviet retreat in 1989, they established the Taliban as their ruling entity. Then, while America was sleeping, came the bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the 9/11 attacks. And the former (?) Mujahedin-headed terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, was behind the attacks, all the whilst, operating under Taliban rule.

Where were the lauded Mujahedin Fighters then?

One thing I do know is that the ruling powers of the globe all have a common enemy in terrorism/freedom fighting. Why? Because terror/freedom fighting movements are all from below no matter what form or fashion the ruling powers may be constructed in. If you run a liberal democracy, attacks by a people’s fascist-right would be tantamount to terrorism. If you run a Communist regime, a pro-democracy faction’s attacks would be called terrorism. No matter who is in the ruling position, all violent acts from below could be classified as terrorism. Then, following an overthrow in said examples, the terrorists would no longer be “terrorists.” They would have become “Freedom Fighters.”

“One man’s army is another man’s freedom fighter.”

 

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Some Fair Questions About Breaking of Aug. 1 Israel-Palestine Ceasefire

As the Palestinian death toll quickly closes in on 2,000, it would seem the responsibility for which side broke the August 1st ceasefire is still a bit murky.  07ISRAEL1-videoSixteenByNine540-v2

It was initially reported by Israel that Palestinian militants had emerged and opened fire and captured an Israeli soldier when IDF was destroying a tunnel around Rafah.  Two points should be noted here.

First, the Israeli military’s version of events is always taken as gospel by American media while the Palestinian version is typically brushed off by being given a sentence or two most of the time.  Any perusing of articles about the breaking of the ceasefire on Friday would certainly prove that.  But hey, Israel has no interest in giving a biased version of events, do they?

Second, one might ask why it is okay for the Israeli military to continue operations, possibly inside Gaza (most stories took the IDF’s word that the event occurred “around Rafah” but did not further specify), during the ceasefire and destroying the tunnels.  It should be noted the tunnels were largely created because of the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel (an act of war, of course) and were used to transport “building materials, foods, medicines, drugs, and people, accounting for an estimated $700 million per year“.  If Palestinian militants were on Israeli territory blowing up important roads used for transporting weapons and ammunition being resupplied by the U.S., what would the reaction be?

Then there are the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and killing of the IDF soldier.  It would seem exactly how the young man died should be heavily questioned and examined.  Israel claims they recovered evidence to suggest he had died but not a body.  Very little detail is given.  While on the other hand, Hamas claims it lost contact with the militants in the area possibly involved in the battle and suggest they were killed by the Israeli attack on the area after the ceasefire was declared off.

This would beg a couple of important questions: was the Israeli soldier killed by friendly-fire and is this the reason Israel knows he is dead and can’t recover the body?  Was the soldier buried under the rubble of a building Israel destroyed that day?

There doesn’t seem to be much interest in investigating this possibility.  If it were true he was killed by his own military, it would put even more pressure on Israel to explain why it is using such ferocious attacks on a civilian population it has illegally oppressed for so many years.

“Outrage” On Gaza Crisis and Other Issues by Chomsky

noam_chomsky2-620x412Here at STL we have tried to get away from just posting links to and summaries of interesting articles in favor of insight discussions and leave the link sharing to Twitter. But this new discussion piece by “The most important intellectual of our time,” Noam Chomsky , according to the NYT, over at ZNet is just too important for you to miss. Follow the link below:

Outrage

 

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Need To Organize at Work More Now Than Ever!

union_yesI was reading an excerpt from author Marianne Cooper’s book today called “Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times” at Salon.com (According to the Amazon summary, “Cut Adrift makes an important and original contribution to the national conversation about inequality and risk in American society.”) and I began to think about the decline of unions and unionizing in America today.  Part of it reads below:

In this new [employment] environment, unions are struggling. Although manufacturing workers have a long history of labor organizing, service sector workers such as restaurant and retail employees [which makes up 80% of occupations in America today] do not, making it harder for service employee unions to grow. Moreover, globalization, technological changes, and the spread of flexible work arrangements have combined to enable employers to make an end run around unions by moving jobs to countries or parts of the United States where anti-union attitudes and laws predominate. As a consequence of these developments, union membership has steadily declined.

A productive workers’ organization is a must for a good quality working-life. Before unions there were 6-day workweeks, 16-hour days, and unspeakably dangerous conditions. There was no OSHA, no breaks, and you could be fired swiftly and without recourse. And during our darkest days you could be badly beaten, or killed by a group of Pinkerton detectives for even being perceived as organizing. There were even war-like firefights between workers and local deputies hired by boss-capitalists at times like the one during The Battle for Blair Mountain.

This led me to another interesting piece of information I found from February 20, 2014 at the Pew Research Center:

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2013, about half (51%) of Americans said they had favorable opinions of labor unions, versus 42% who said they had unfavorable opinions about them. That was the highest favorability rating since 2007, though still below the 63% who said they were favorably disposed toward unions in 2001. In a separate 2012 survey, 64% of Americans agreed that unions were necessary to protect working people (though 57% also agreed that unions had “too much power”).

So what this tells me is that there is a real, perceived value in union organizing today. But how do we get back there to 1954 when 28% of all workers in the country belonged to unions at it’s peak? I am afraid that I do not have the answer at this moment, nor probably for many afterward. But unionizing is the biggest threat to capitalism as it runs more and more rampant across the globe and almost completely unbridled here in the United States.

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