Letters to the Editor

(December 15, 2008)


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Obamamania in Quiet Perspective: Gilles d'Aymery's Remaining Silent About Obama

To the Editor:

This was so beautifully written, and with such clarity. I can't find the words to say how much the article impressed me. I am e-mailing it to everyone I know that will be receptive. I bookmarked the site so I can follow your input. Thank you very much!

Judi Mills
Minden, Nevada, USA - December 1, 2008


Obamamania from a Skeptic View: Gilles d'Aymery's Remaining Silent About Obama

To the Editor:

Skepticism? Only time will tell... While the election of a bi-racial president signifies change, look who Obama has decided to surround and align himself with. The deceit faced by the population of this country in regard to hope, change, the election of a bi-racial president, is reflected in the choices of the new administration. I see no change in anything but personnel, and we've been there. The power of domination and control is evident in the substance of "Brand Obama," his corporate voting record, (FISA, bailout, retroactive pardoning for the telecommunications industry, continued involvements in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, AND Iraq), and there is more to come. So much for democracy? Baa, Baa, for now.

Tim Matthews
Blue Lake, California, USA - December 1, 2008


More Skepticism: Gilles d'Aymery's Remaining Silent About Obama

To the Editor:

While I appreciate and understand Gilles d'Aymery's position and those of other white folks who are keeping their mouths shut about Obama's traditional choices for his cabinet and economic advisors primarily because he is black and they aren't, I must strongly disagree.

Apart from the fact that he is to be the president for all Americans, it is as much due to the historical circumstances of Obama's election, the hopes of African-Americans he embodied, whose votes carried him to victory and who he is in the process of throwing under the bus, as he did Reverend Wright, that obliges every individual, regardless of their color and who hasn't jettisoned his or her critical faculties to speak up when virtually every one of Obama's actions since Nov. 4 has contradicted the promise he made repeatedly to all the American people and to the world, that he would produce "change we can believe in." What we have gotten so far, as they say on the street, is "chump change" and the prospect is for more to come. At what point will you speak up? Yes, you can!

Jeff Blankfort
Ukiah, California, USA - December 1, 2008


Short and Long Terms: Michael Barker's "Progressive Social Change In The 'Ivory Tower'?"

To the Editor:

Michael Barker's well-reasoned, amply documented and convincing article of December 1 has given me pause ("Progressive Social Change In The 'Ivory Tower'?"). Am I wrong in Italy to go around to the local soup kitchen and lend a hand cutting up bread? The organization has been set up by a church that is certainly bent on reinforcing the status quo with a whole lot of Vatican flying buttresses. It was the same in the Middle-East. Each time some horribly mutilated beggar shamed me into coughing up small change, I strengthened a very unenlightened capitalism. (The only guiltless contribution these days must be one to Swans Commentary.) Barker refers to Jane Addams whom he seems to admire but has to dismiss as having been financed by upper class women with a wealthy-lady agenda. I couldn't help but think of some disorientated immigrant in the Chicago of 1890 who found a new life when he walked into Hull House. He wouldn't have been put off by the old girls' world view. No more than the hungry who dip my bread in their evening soup would have any such worry. Barker is surely right in the (very) long perspective. He points out two paths for teachers employed in the present universities. The first, which is to keep their job, would surely appeal to their families. They can "bore from within" as Senator Joe McCarthy used to say. But that's Barker's advice only for the short term. In the long term, teachers should work in universities still to be created that will be completely outside the present system and its unacceptable aims. It's an inspiring program, long term. What a pity that teaching stiffs, along with the hungry and the crippled, are stuck in the short term of three score and whatever the statisticians now grant them.

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - December 4, 2008


Divided Leftists and Hopeful Financial Contributors, if ever, if any, if whatever, always, of course, in "the future"

Dear Monsieur d'Aymery,

I value your bi-weekly and related efforts a very great deal. My limited budget affords me a subscription to the New Left Review, the physical appearance of which pleases me greatly six times a year. I might be able to offer something small to Swans in the future, but something small by way of a first child is coming my way soon, so even my sole subscription prospects have become slimmer. C'est la vie, indeed.

Anyway, you seem to have a conspicuous distance from those at the World Socialist Website. Would you explain this? Did you have a personal break there, or is it more ideological?

Yours truly,

Nathan Johnson
Budapest, Hungry - December 2, 2008

[ed. Gilles d'Aymery keeps a "conspicuous distance" with everybody, including the WSWS, notwithstanding his thinking that they, as other outfits, do an outstanding job within the realm of their concerns. He has been aware for over 10 years that well-meaning people wanted to help Swans financially...in the future. For some twisted reasons, however, the future does not translate into the present.]

[ed. Following my response, Mr. Johnson had this to say:
Thank you for the artful response. I had less desire to be printed in your Letters to the Editor than I did to hear back personally regarding what exactly are the differences between Swans and those working at WSWS. I had even less desire to be reminded in such a clever way that feedback is of lesser value than currency.

But, in all seriousness, I love the work that you do and I hope to be able to contribute in however a small way in the not-so-distant future.

I spent this last weekend in Transylvania (Erdelyi) among ethnic Hungarians living in Romania. My wife and I visited a school stuck up in the middle of nowhere, and we talked with the teachers, and we talked with the kids as best we could. I just think that when we all go into our place of need, it's good to have another place to go, which is why I'm sending a picture of a couple of kids there. Take a moment to think about them.

All my best,


Jean-Pierre Depétris on the Bureau of Public Secrets Web site

"Ken Knabb, the Situationist International, and the American Counterculture"

This article by French writer Jean-Pierre Depétris presents some provocative observations on the similarities and differences between "the two most significant intellectual adventures of the sixties" -- the Situationist International and the American counterculture -- along with some generous remarks about how yours truly has interacted with both of them.

Ken Knabb
"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
Berkeley, California, USA - December 3, 2008


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Published December 15, 2008
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