“Now is the winter of our discontent” – William Shakespeare
“Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home.” – Stanley Diamond
Well, the thaw may be on, but winter in Russia is just getting started! And sleepy Mishka (the Bear; or is it the Tundra Mammoth) is now facing the voice of a people clamoring at his door. Across the globe, the hunter and the hunted are exchanging places. As much as the (generally) Western media likes to portray the recent political demonstrations in Russia as yet another desperate call for real democracy, they may be woefully disappointed and disillusioned. I do not know if the Russians are sick of Putin, or just plain sick of politics as usual and the bureaucratic power hierarchies; perhaps, not unlike their American counterparts. Folks across the globe are tired of being marched around and manhandled by well-entrenched and fortified (well capitalized) elites who really have no more connection to the people than do alien invaders from the distant star – Kepler 22-B.
Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in Moscow on Saturday shouting “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” forcing the Kremlin to confront a level of public discontent that has not been seen here since Vladimir V. Putin first became president 12 years ago.
The crowd overflowed from a central city square, forcing stragglers to climb trees or watch from the opposite riverbank. “We exist!” they chanted. “We exist!”
So here is the bottom line, folks. When will the citizens of America finally awaken from their own entrancing slumber? When will they find a proper voice and the courage to make similar demands of their own selfish oligarchs? When will they go to the streets and vociferously demand the resignation of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Ben Bernake, Timothy Geitner, and the other hooligans lining their pockets and the pockets of their patrons at the expense of our planet and the people? When will they demand imprisonment for the likes of Cheney, Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld and their ilk for crimes against humanity and nature?
There are many in the USA who talk almost mechanically about the repressiveness of the Russian regime, and the lack of free speech in that country; and we Americans, along with our NATO allies, smugly believe we know about what we are talking. But are we fooling ourselves? Perhaps there is more freedom of speech than we realize in Mother Russia. At least the Russians actually have the viscera to go to the streets, stand up, and clearly vocalize their frustrations (as they did precipitously with the fall of the USSR). All the while, we here in the homeland beat our chests and proudly proclaim our freedoms, remaining comfortably ensconced in our fantasy cocoon. Yet, we do not have the guts to demand an end to our own enslavement or the eviction of our slave masters. And perhaps the OWS movement has revealed to us our own weakness as a people — our lack of commitment, or the true freedom to proclaim it — subdued as we are by the mesmerizing enchantment of a cornucopia of commodities and other entertaining distractions.
It seems as though “we, the people,” are incapable of speaking-out or taking any discernibly direct action here in the homeland; we are constrained by the constant flow of propaganda and our own willful compliance in believing it. Too many of us (even the OWSers) assume that what we have is already democracy and freedom of proclamation. We mistakenly assume that our official, as well as the more informal, declarations of independence and equality (i.e., our common suffrage) is a valid stand-in for an egalitarian life. Yet, in fact, those occupying positions of power in the diverse hierarchies that constitute our State – our corporate, political, or religious leaders — are not our equals by any measure; rather, they are our trainers, managers, masters, and avatars.
Meanwhile, these self-styled “masters of the universe” continue to engage in visible acts of terror and genocide out of their lust for control and global dominion. Even, in the homeland, we are witness to broader incursions and greater repression, not only within the private domains of our life — for example with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that Obama will now sign into law, making indefinite military detention of American citizens legal. But, environmentally as well, with increasingly aggressive measures to subdue nature and make the earth stand-and-deliver more energy in order to power this extravagant and domineering lifestyle. All the while, “we, the people,” sheepishly acquiesce.
In addition to the poisonous effects of an unrestrained and maddening rush, fracking for oil, we must also focus on the prospective invasion to our homeland and destruction of our wilderness – financed, lobbied for, and bribed into being by your friends at ExxonMobil – represented by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The environmental terror that this project would unleash upon the homeland should send our threat-level meter off the charts. One of the problems is that most of those holding controlling positions in the power hierarchy have already been bought off by the investment bankers and corporate interests who need more oil at any cost. As well, they need to eek out more profits to keep the empire going and growing, no matter what the fallout. It is truly a case, in their minds, of the ends justifying the means. Again, it is the imperial processes doing what they have done since the dawn of history – “secure luxuries and magical substances or raw materials” (S. Diamond) at the expense and impoverishment of the people and their lands.
Interestingly enough, there has been one group in-country that has been more vociferous than most in trying to derail this gargantuan terrorist threat, potentially the biggest insult to our local environment and our Mother Earth in the modern era.
This Friday, tribal leaders from across the continent will meet for their third summit with the president in Washington, and one of the prime items on the agenda will be the ﬁght against the Keystone Pipeline. They’ll talk about the way both the pipeline and the process of approving it have violated treaties, and they’ll present the president with a copy of the Mother Earth Accord adopted in a special meeting at the Rosebud reservation a few weeks ago. It’s a strong document, full of details about the impacts of tar sands mining and pipeline leaks and carbon emissions — but it also speaks with the real power of the people who’ve lived longest and best on this continent. Indeed, it begins by afﬁrming that “the earth is our true mother, our grandmother who gives birth to us and maintains all life.”In many ways, that’s the most real language anyone’s used in the entire debate. It sums up all the scientiﬁc testimony about parts per million and degrees of temperature rise–and it trumps all the empty nonsense about “energy security” and “pipeline jobs” that turned out, on closer examination, to be so much nonsense. Nonsense that was backed by millions upon millions in lobbying dollars, repeated in endless TV commercials, bandied about by pundits of every stripe. That nonsense may still carry the day — the investment of the oil industry in the tarsands is so large that they will keep at it relentlessly. But at least for the moment, the Indians have carried the day.
Predating, by millennia, even the smallest autonomous villages and communities of the Neolithic, the indigenous soul still leans towards a freedom and sense of participation characterized by more egalitarian relations obtaining in its tribal, pre-civilized roots. But civilization and its hierarchies required a breakup of these earlier forms of village communitas and participatory tribal-egalitarianism; demanding, instead, adherence to imperial process and metropolitan powers.
There is, however, a memory trace of that tribal-egalitarian indigenous soul still resident across the vast geographies and demographics of the great Russian cities, steppe and tundra; as there is among the tribal remnants (descendents) scattered here and there in the homeland. Perhaps it will be necessary for us lily white European transplants to take our guidance and motivation from these more primal elements demonstrating and vocalizing that to which we are currently witness.