By Gaither Stewart
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 5, 2007, 00:47
A book by the dean of Argentine writers, the 96-year old
Ernesto Sabato, bears the title, La Resistencia, though the word
Resistance itself is used sparingly in his 150-page book-essay. Yet, his
message is clear: man must resist against injustice. I began this essay from
Resistance begins in doubt. Then it grows into the
adolescence of skepticism and matures into defiance, confrontation and
struggle. Resistance is above all the determination to say, no. No! to
euphemism and deceit. No! to falsehood and lie. No! to promises of comfort and
ease and assurances that ours is the right way of life.
Resistance is real life as opposed
to virtual life. Resistance is the precise opposite of acceptance of what
society offers and the resulting retreat into comfort and ease, into the
assurances that your lifestyle is the right one, that your way of life is the
right way of life. Resistance is the rejection of Power�s version of life. It
is rejection of wide-eyed acquiescence to Power�s lure.
Dostoevsky�s Grand Inquisitor points out that man
usually chooses submission. Dostoevsky believed that man prefers comfort, or
even death, to the freedom of choice. Man only wants to be happy. He wants
earthly bread. And that, his Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov
tells Christ-God returned to earth, is the Church�s job, that is Power�s job:
man�s happiness on earth.
The Church, that is Power, the Grand Inquisitor claims,
loves man more than does the creator who placed on man�s shoulders a burden too
heavy for him to bear. Christ-God overestimated the strength of his creation
when he gave him the freedom of choice: "You acted without pity for him,
you demanded too much from him." Religion (or Power), the old Inquisitor
claims, must be on the side of the masses. It must comfort all, the ignorant
and the weak and the mean and the sick. It must be vulgar. Instead of the
uncertainty and spiritual suffering of the freedom of choice, Power offers happiness. Since the weak and hungry and mean
masses are not interested in heavenly bread, Power promises earthly bread.
The Grand Inquisitor and his Church opt for man. The earth
is thus the reign of mediocre happiness. None of your great spiritual aspirations!
Oh yes, men will have to work, he says, as modern Power continues to say, but
for men�s leisure time Power will organize their lives like a game, with
childish songs and dancing, SUVs and TV and Sunday football. Power even lets
them sin a bit.
Dostoevsky thus describes the tragedies of the human
condition. In his revolutionary attack, he attacks the Grand Inquisitors (that
is, Power) in every church, in every state, in every time. He dealt with the
universal truth that most people do not want freedom. Most are afraid of
freedom. The limit of freedom is the drive �to be happy.� In American society,
it is �the American way of life� that is to guarantee the mysterious object
that is happiness. But since happiness is forever ambivalent, elusive, vague
and subjective, the result is fear of not achieving it, which means failure.
Fear is thus a symptom of our times. Fear of nonachievement.
And today, it refers also to artificial fears such as the fear of terrorism,
ironically, of terrorist acts executed by ourselves against ourselves. Does one
not talk openly today about the next institutionally organized terrorist act
permitting the arrival of martial law in the land? All talk of the threat to
the �future of our children� terrorizes American nights.
Resistance requires company. It requires companions in order
not to be alone. Otherwise, fear wins out. But once you are on the inside of
resistance, once you are involved and committed, each step becomes easier, your
step becomes lighter. Resistance gradually comes to feel normal. You are
not crazy; society is.
Unfortunately those who arrive at even the entrance door to
the world of resistance are few. Most stand outside the door. Worse, many
believe they are inside what is considered �real life� without realizing that
they are outside of life; that they are walking on air. They are tamed by
obedience to a way of life that does not respect human beings. Power says it is
better not to get involved, better not to commit yourself; that anyway everyone
and everything is corrupt.
Resignation is the result.
Resignation is more than just acceptance. Resignation, as
Sabato notes, is �cowardly, the sentiment (born from fear) that justifies the
abandonment of that for which one should struggle.�
We have to resist. It is not necessary to be a hero to
resist. It can be much less than throwing Molotov cocktails at Power, or going
to prison. It is smaller than that. But resistance is counter-current. It is
easy to look around and pinpoint where to resist in everyday life. A first step
is to abandon the Wal-Martian massification of society that �they� want to keep
us in. Not to buy a SUV from a General Motors that marks a turnover 20 times
the GNP of the country of El Salvador should not be seen as revolutionary. But
it is! It is resistance. To demand decent public transportation instead of more
SUVs and an efficient national health service for all is resistance. To reject
programs based on assurances of comfort and ease, of our way of life, of the
future of our children and the promises of the good for mankind of
globalization is a program of resistance.
The initial step is refusal to be a tool in the lurid
machine of �their� assurances that we are �happy.� Resistance is to refuse to
be a cogwheel in the great machine of Power.
A possible second step is to abandon concepts of American
and European centrism, which is no less than the view that the real world
begins and ends in the United States of America or in Europe. We know
that the USA and Europe are a small part of planet earth. But we easily forget.
The reality is, the rest of the world is out there.
quoted in articles about Latin America the progressive French sociologist Alain
Tourraine, a specialist on Latin American affairs. By one of the coincidences
that occur in my life with increasing frequency, I recently saw and followed on
Buenos Aires television an hour-long meeting with Tourraine, whom I had never
Tourraine says the same as Ernesto Sabato: fundamental
resistance must be directed again globalization and its gobbledygook language
and to the inequalities it creates in the world at large.
Resistance is thus counter-globalization.
Such thinking, resistance thinking, leads you in unexpected
directions. For example one grasps that the opposite of peace is not
necessarily war; the opposite of peace is also the abundance of social
inequalities, the lack of respect for fundamental rights; it is all the
situations of injustice; it is everything that widens the abyss between rich
and poor, whether nations or individuals.
Resistance is counter-globalization because globalization is
a �culture of exclusion,� eliminating jobs universally, instead of creating
them, especially in the world of the have-nots. Resistance is directed at
market economy thinking and globalization that have threatened the planetary
economy since the Industrial Revolution: it then took the advent of US
Imperialism after the fall of Communism and the technological revolution to
The economist Joseph Schumpeter defined the technological
revolution as �creative destruction� and in a like manner equated it with
globalization. Tourraine -- who notes that the majority of people in the world
are saying, �I want to be respected, I want to be recognized� -- equates
globalization with the bourgeoisie, that old name for the capitalist exploiting
class. Globalization is a plot of capitalism.
The symbiosis of technological revolution, free market
ideology and the expansion of US imperialism has created and fomented the
�culture of exclusion� and its gradual and massive death toll among a great
part of human society, a culture defined by free market exponents with the
glowing term of globalization.
Here again, as the antithesis of Marx�s dialectical process,
appears the word resistance. The antithesis to exclusion must perforce be the
reappearance of neo-socialists or some kind of neo-socialist thinking. Am I
wrong, or is that long-banned and politically incorrect word not appearing more
and more in public in the USA? Is Socialism not again becoming salonf�hig? Socialism and other forms of
resistance such as genuine modernity of thinking also provoke the rabid
reactions of neo-religious fundamentalists with their culture of fear and
death, a most dangerous ally for exponents of globalization who hopefully will
soon have to pay up.
Resistance to injustice should not be seen as revolutionary.
But it is! Yet, as a rule, resistance to injustices does not have to mean to
block the efficient uses of national resources of any country or to limit
individual freedoms. It doesn�t even have to mean support for Socialism. But in
my opinion resistance does mean rejection of savage capitalism that worships
the market as an absolute, as if it were the end goal of human behavior and
By pure chance, sitting in a Buenos Aires caf�, I read in an
article in the conservative daily, La Naci�n, about the visit to
Argentina of Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty of the existence of �subaltern
studies� at the University of Chicago, of which the Indian scholar is a
professor. The professor�s book, Rethinking Working Class History: Bengal,
1840-1940, is described as a
history of the margins of history, a history from and for the periphery, a
rethinking of universal terms such as democracy, capitalism, equality, human
rights, social justice and globalization, which, in Chakrabarty�s words is the
residue of colonialism. The US invasion of Iraq is the clearest example.
A few days ago I was again disconcerted, though not unduly
surprised, by the views on globalization of an educated Argentinian from a rich
landholding family, back in Argentina after 20 years on Wall Street. His
definitions of globalization were reduced to matters like the bothersome fact
that international travel is not what it used to be, now that airplanes are
packed and that everybody can travel around the world. In the final
analysis he equated the equal chance to travel of a still small minority of the
world population to globalization, as if globalization had nothing to do with
the methodical destruction of national industries in the margins, in the huge
peripheries, all across the subaltern world.
Stewart, writer and journalist, is originally from Asheville, NC. After studies
at the University of California at Berkeley and other American universities, he
has lived his adult life abroad, first in Germany, then in Italy, alternated
with long residences in The Netherlands, France, Mexico and Russia. After a
career in journalism as the Italian correspondent for the Rotterdam daily newspaper, Algemeen
Dagblad, and contributor to
the press, radio and TV in various European countries, he writes fiction
full-time. His books of fiction, "Icy Current Compulsive Course,
To Be A Stranger" and "Once In Berlin" are
published by Wind River Press. His
new novel, "Asheville," is published by www.Wastelandrunes.com He lives with
his wife, Milena, in Rome, Italy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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