Monday, December 24, 2007

The News of the World On Christmas Eve from a Jolly Somewhat Subjective Marxist Perspective

For PA blog readers I thought that I would look over the news of the
world on Christmas Eve. Don't expect a Wonderful Life. Don't expect
St. Karl in his Red Suit coming down your chimney with gifts of the
Marxist classics wrapped in the Peoples Weekly World. Don't even
expect Christian Dior gowns(given the anti-working class policies of
the Sarkozy government, there are stories, perhaps apocryphal, that
Bush is negotiating with Sarkozy to have Christian Dior put out a new
line of J. Edgar Hoover unisex gowns, perfect for interrogators
engaging in waterboarding at selected prison camps this Christmas) but
here is the news of the world.

First I came across a TV ad from the Christian Broadcasting
Network(Pat Robertson's old outfit) asking viewers to send in money to
support food, education, housing, employment training, for the very
poor people of the world, all of which are admirable policies, but
policies that should be the work of international agencies and
governments, not private charities.

The commercial, after citing all of these positive goals, said that
"most importantly" the contributions would help "bring the Gospel to
people living in darkness." I swear. This old 19th century
imperialist term that Mark Twain made fun of more than a century ago
in opposing the U.S. annexation of the Philippines. This term that
brings back such bad memories for the people of Africa, Asia, the
colonial regions of the world, where the missionaries followed and
blessed the gunboats in order to bring civilization, progress, free
trade, and the Gospel to the people living in darkness(Mark Twain saw
some bitter humor in the policy of shooting and killing them and
burning them out of their villages as the way to bring the Light to

Rudyard Kipling, the Irving Berlin of popular imperialist writing, in
what was perhaps his greatest hit, "the White Man's Burden," did call
upon the soldiers of the Empire to "fill full the mouth of hunger and
bid the sickness cease." My Christmas message to Pat, Rudyard et al,
and especially to the exploited and the oppressed of the world would
by an oldy and a goody(which I am paraphrasing) When I gave food to
the poor the called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were
hungry, they called me a Communist.

If "faith" to play a role in solving the problems of the world it must
be rooted in the material world, connected to policy, and broad
enough to respond and adjust to empirical realities. The name of that
materialist belief system, whom the capitalist world declares smugly
to be dead(more smugly by the way than any atheist declares God to be
dead) is socialism, and it offers not a better life in the next world,
but the possibility of living a productive one(life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness as a famous document stated two hundred and
thirty one years ago) for all people. That would be my holiday message
for all holidays.

Marxists reject anarchism of course as a very impractical policy to
end capitalist exploitation however well intentioned individual
anarchists may be, but "anarchists" are in the news in connection
with Christmas shopping. Anti-advertisers(I have known and worked
with student groups like this at Rutgers and have a good deal of
respect and affection for them) are engaging in anti-consumerist
guerrilla theater against the commercialization and commodification of
all areas of life, which reaches its symbolic peak in Christmas

These activists have been dropping T shirts, canned goods, Cd's, and
other commodities with "subversive" anti-consumerist commercials of
their own. Like the IWW, who a century ago were often in competition
with the Salvation Army(Joe Hill's most famous song, "The Preacher and
the Slave," was initially written as an anti-Salvation Army satire)
these "infiltrators" of discount houses, book stores, and department
stores have been in competition with religionists, particularly
rightwing fundamentalists, who do things like dropping religious
pamphlets into literature aimed at Gay and Lesbian readers. In one
book store, the anti-consumerists have switched the religious
literature to the science fiction section.

Spokespeople for Target and other stores are up in arm about this(I am
a lot more angry about the large amounts of money the owners of Target
and like minded realtors selling products made with cheap labor from
abroad give to the Republican party) But I have one Marxist complaint
on this Christmas eve. One of the teeshirts that that has been
"infiltrated" into stores has Marx, Che Guavera, and the 19th century
anarchist Mikhail Bakunin as the Three Wise Men with the caption
"Peace on Earth. After We Overthrow Capitalism." I have no quarrel
with the sentiment and the aspiration, but Bakunin, whom Marx saw as
an enemy(and he was) isn't the best Christmas fit, at least for
non-Anarchists. Another Russkie, Vladimir Lenin, belongs with Marx
and Che, since he led the first socialist revolution in history and
also, unlike Bakunin, was committed to replacing capitalism with

Also, as evidence that advanced technology does not in itself lead to
modern political forms, Queen Elizabeth has inaugurated a new
channel, the Royal Channel, on You Tube, where videos of anything and
everything is posted. She will present her annual Christmas message
on the new Royal Channel of You Tube along with her broadcast in
regular television. If she were wise, or wished really to change the
image of the monarchy with youth, she would say to the You Tube
audience, "Peace on Earth, After we Overthrow Capitalism," but I doubt
it. That might create something of a crisis inside the Church of
England of which she is the head, although it would probably lead
former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the Labor Party(which he helped to
make the former Labor Party) more certain that his recent conversion
to Catholicism was the right thing to do.
There are less pleasant albeit predictable stories, from the Pakistani
dictatorship continuing to play the U.S., using billions in aid to
fight "terrorists" for its military provocations of India, to
Christmas bailouts for the Wall Street Scrooges(whom the Bush
administration equates with tiny Tim) but Merry Christmas to all and
Peace on Earth(maybe) after we abolish capitalism and establish
Norman Markowitz


James said...

Interesting short clips there. I've always found the Guevara t-shirts kinda funny. The capitalists are selling us communist propaganda. Sure, it might be a fashion statement driven out of 'trendyness' without regards to politics, but maybe some will get interested in Guevara or communism because of it.

What's that old saying... "Capitalism creates its own grave-diggers"?

normandmarkowitz said...

there is another quote, often attributed to Lenin(it may not be acccurate, but it is funny) that the capitalist would sell the rope used to hang him.