2004: Another Best and Worst Year

by Joe Davison


December 13, 2004   


(Swans - December 13, 2004)   2004 is another year in which the best and worst of humanity continued a struggle in the Middle East for the future of our planet.

Forget a US Presidential election to determine which of two rich white men would man the tiller of US imperialism around the globe, the real power struggle continues in Iraq between those intent on global domination and those struggling to maintain the ideals of self determination, without which human dignity and freedom are impossible.

Unlike many on the left in the U.S., I believe Bush's reelection to be a positive thing in the long run -- for the purposes of clarity, if not sanity. Kerry's candidacy (remember him? the man who proclaimed his fitness to occupy the White House with one metaphorical foot resting, John Wayne style, on the dead bodies of Vietnamese peasants) was a chimera at best, yet one nonetheless that succeeded in sucking up so many desperate for a messiah to lead them out of Bush's America and who willingly ran in to the arms of a false prophet as a consequence.

You see? Even committed atheists like me are turning to the biblical reference in this epoch of Old Testament and Torah absolutes.

But back to Bush.

The mere mention of the name brings out a collective dread, fear, and psychotic anger. 2004 was a year in which we witnessed the near disintegration of what was left of the US Left as a result, the sad demise of so many who, before the era of Bush, proudly counted themselves members of the conscious segment of the working class, oppressed and/or progressive communities. Tailing the Democrats, they allowed themselves to be sucked into a futile vortex of what can only be described as anti-Bush neurosis.

Fed by liberal commentators like Michael Moore (great film notwithstanding), Noam Chomsky (ah, blasphemy, how dare I!), Tariq Ali, the entire Pacifica Network, and others I'm just too depressed to name, the presidential election failed to be about the root cause of the continuing war on the poor at home and abroad, namely unfettered Capitalism, and instead became a pissing contest between our guy and their guy -- a kind of modern reenactment of the Roman civil war between Caesar and Pompey, both members of the same patrician class representing their own particular faction of that class.

That said, and despite the continued degeneration of the US Left, there is much to warm the heart when casting our glance further a field. The Cuban Revolution continues in the face of the usual American intimidation and intervention as a beacon of hope and inspiration for poor people around the world. In Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolutionary process was further validated by the latest failure of the Washington-sanctioned opposition to bring it down in a referendum and return the country to the control of oligarchs and their international puppet masters.

Both the Cuban and Venezuelan peoples deserve our gratitude for showing us that another way is possible.

Indeed, could it be that in South and Central America in general a shift to the left in 2004 is underway, providing evidence of a resurgence of those much maligned but indomitable values of human solidarity and progress over those of human greed, misery and war?

Alas, however, the Haitian people, unique as the only people in human history to forge a free and independent nation from a state of slavery, continue to experience the sharp end of the white man's notion of democracy and freedom. However, if a proud history of defiance, struggle and courage is anything to go by, they shall, I am confident, one day prevail and reassert their rightful place as a free people.

Economically, US hegemony is under a gathering threat as central banks from Moscow to Caracas and Tehran, not to mention Havana, Cuba, began a process of de-dollarization. Hopefully, their example will lead to others following suit and, in my wildest dreams, lead to the complete economic collapse of the United States of America leading to revolution and...

...sorry, got a wee bit carried away there.

In Europe the Spanish people were forced to pay a heavy price for their previous government's treachery in entering into an imperialist alliance with Bush and Blair against the people of Iraq. The Madrid bombing killed 200 and, in response, the Spanish people, reminding warmongers in London and Washington DC that true power resides with the people, quickly ousted Aznar's pro-business, pro-neoliberal government for Zapatero and thus affected the immediate withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq.

Tony Blair, that savage and racist English colonizer in the tradition of a long line of scurrilous knaves to hold the same title -- Drake, Rhodes, Curzon, Churchill, Thatcher etc. -- continued to play with zeal his part as second fiddle to Dubya. There he was with Bush, at press conference after press conference, all toothy grin and privileged inch of him, competing with his partner in international crime to see who could most effectively spin a war of plunder and annihilation as a moral and beneficent crusade. Should we be surprised though? After all, Her Majesty's Government continues to occupy six counties of Ireland using the same language of moral rectitude and divine right perfected throughout that nation's long and savage history of colonialism.

Finally, back to the Middle East, where the Iraqi and Palestinian people continue to hold the line against militarism and imperialism. Up to this year, when contemplating the US occupation of Iraq, I was often reminded of the words of Tacitus, which he attributed to the barbarian chieftain, Calgacus -- "robbers of the world...they make a desert and call it peace" -- words that have inspired generation after generation of those struggling for self determination, freedom and social and economic justice in every part of the globe.

Well, this year another word has been added to our global lexicon of resistance. This is, I am sure, a word that will be uttered and produce the same sense of defiance and courage in generations to come as those of Tacitus.

The word?


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America the 'beautiful' on Swans


Joe Davison, originally from Scotland, where he was a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, has lived in the U.S. for 5 years. He continues to be active in left wing politics. He currently is a member of the IRSM (Irish Republican Socialist Movement), and has been an organiser in the anti-war movement. Davison wrote this piece struck by the fact that everything happening today in Iraq and around the world, namely the march of one power as it attempts to dominate the globe culturally, economically, politically, and militarily, finds its antecedent in history.

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This Week's Internal Links

2004: A Case Study In Forensic Irony - by Phil Rockstroh

2004: Diary Of A Man In Despair - by Michael Doliner

Empire Of Amnesia, 2004 - by John Steppling

2004: Reality in Perspective - by Jan Baughman

2004: The Lost Year - by Eli Beckerman

2004: Perspectives And Opportunities - by Louis Proyect

2004: The Insurgent Word - by Gerard Donnelly Smith

Retrospective On 2004, Or Why I Need More Sleep - by Joel Wendland

Beyond The Beyond: Reflections on a November Visited Upon us . . . Again - by Milo Clark

2004: We Could Use Some People Power In The U.S. - by Frank Wycoff

2004: The Superpower Kept Sinking - by Philip Greenspan

The Message Of 2004 - by Charles Marowitz

2004: A Year Of Frightening Regression - by Edward S. Herman

2004: The Year Of Disillusion - by Manuel García, Jr.

Death Genes: The Second Coming - Book Excerpt by Walker Percy

Libertad Bajo Palabra - Poem by Octavio Paz (also in French and in English)

Plantation Politics? Mimes, Minstrels And Miscalculation - by S. Jeffrey Jones

Blips #8 - From the Editor's desk

Letters to the Editor


Published November 29, 2004
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