May 12, 2003
Hardly noticed and harder to fathom, Swans Commentary is entering its eighth year of practically uninterrupted publication on the Web, very much under the radar screen. The last time I thought about this relatively long run (for a fully independent, volunteer-based publication, with no financial backing) was two years ago on Swans' fifth anniversary. I wrote about this proud, though uneventful occasion in Happy Quinquennium.
You may wish to read that article since it remains quite pertinent to our continuing collective work (and says much I won't repeat here). There's been some evolution, however: instead of 35,000 monthly requests the magazine now receives close to 150,000 from over 120 countries; and while a few contributors chose to move on many more new voices have come on board.
Now, let's not make too much of this modest accomplishment. We are still a minuscule publication, hampered by the lack of funds and the frequency of publication (the Web is geared toward daily postings and navel-centered chatterings) as well as, I am often told, an undefined editorial line.
This last point is puzzling to me for we are regularly accused of being radicals, elitists, bourgeois, Marxists, right-wingers, arm-chair revolutionaries, liberals, commies, Libertarians, idiots ("not that there is anything wrong with that"), brain-dead, un-American (a biggie, of late), French (which, I guess, is synonymous with un-American activities), idealists (anything wrong with that?), neo-libs, neo-cons, neo-neos, and the like. I've heard it all!
In other words, what the critiques are telling us is that Swans is nonsectarian!
In 1996, in response to the question, "Why Swans?", I wrote in our no-longer-maintained FAQ:
Many factors led to the creation of Swans. Some are explained in our page "about Swans." Others are more latent, diffuse in the subconsciousness of all of us. For example:
- The urge to raise our voice in the name of reason and against the abysmal condition and deterioration of our social fabric.
- The desire to lift the veil of hypocrisy, which, like a thick and sooty fog, shrouds the collusion of our governing and corporate elites.
- The sense that we, as a society -- indeed as a world, have a long way to go to reach the shores of social justice and human dignity, and hence the call for action.
- The necessity to counter the subliminal messages spread by the main media, themselves an integral part of the powers in place.
- The enjoyment obtained from expressing ourselves in a censorless environment.
- The excitement to be part of a project in the company of fine human beings.
- The pleasure to be creative and write.
- And, as said in our consumerist temple, much more!
[With hindsight, three items should have been included:
- The need to highlight the betrayal of our intellectuals,
- The hope and will to put forth alternatives, and
- The emphasis on solidarity; the obligation to weed out individualism and bring our collective responsibility to the fore.]
So, why do we publish here? Because we can: we can publish without killing trees, without selling our souls to advertisers . . .
Billions of human beings at or under the subsistence level; 1.5 billion people with no access to clean water; eleven million kids dying of hunger or disease each year; an estimated 200 species disappearing daily to sustain human biomass; planet-wise ecological disaster; global warming; increasing ozone layer depletion; plundered natural resources, fast deterioration of infrastructure; rapacious privatization (or "commodityfication," to coin a word) of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we seed; ever-increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots; horrendous poverty; gunboat diplomacy; war without end; international law in shambles; demonization of all dissent; reactionary politics over much of the world, including, especially, the U.S.; religious fundamentalism; nationalism; curtailed civil liberties; slashed social services; fiscal irresponsibility; obscene consumerism; and on and on and on...as the tools that brought us these predicaments in the first place keep being used again and again to find a solution.
When shall we all say collectively, enough is enough?
Aren't you all real tired of churches and altars, from A, B, C, and D? Can't we all start thinking for ourselves?
So, if you are still wondering why Swans?, I'll tell you why, in my own estimation:
The only way not to play a game is to not play it.
· · · · · ·
Gilles d'Aymery is Swans' publisher and co-editor.
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This Week's Internal Links
North Korea And International Law - by Nikhil Shah
Can You Spot The War Crime? - by Gregory Elich
Did We All Do A Clare Short? - by Baffour Ankomah
Maybe It Is Just Bush After All... - by Milo Clark
I Believe - by Scott Orlovsky
Freedom Dollars: Last Frontier for the New Pioneers - by Eli Beckerman
The New America - by Richard Macintosh
Curing The Pro-War Pandemic - by Philip Greenspan
Pledge And Prayer Amendment Threatens Religious Freedom - by Kimberly Blaker
Landing A Campaign Visual - by Deck Deckert
The Mud - by Michael Stowell
Looking For A Leader In 2004 - by Jan Baughman
A Moving Carol - by Alma A. Hromic
Letters to a Young Poet (Letter Four) - by Rainer Maria Rilke
Djinn Rummy Over Baghdad - Poem by Sabina C. Becker
He Who Damns A Lie Will Have To Answer To Me - Poem by Phil Rockstroh