There was a fantastic review of Ursula K. Le Guin’s ouvre in the summer edition of Dissent by Sarah Jones. This was by no means the first time the author’s name has come up for me. She has been in the background of my political consciousness for some time, peeking out most recently with this piece and and the interview of Kim Stanley Robinson that was on the antifada earlier this year.
So, I was excited to dig into a copy of The Dispossessed, Le Guin’s 1974 SciFi classic last weekend after wrapping up the sometimes sentimental collection of short stories by Toshio Mori in Yokohama, California. It is always reassuring to me to be reminded that brilliant artists such as Le Guin have always been wrestling with ideas like the abolition of state-violence, sexual liberation, and radical forms of education and government. I expect to continue being inspired by what has started off as a genre-defying bit of genre-fiction.
Le Guin’s work is distinctive not only because it is imaginative, or because it is political, but because she thought so deeply about the work of building a future worth living.
What better way to celebrate the ongoing criminal investigations of the Trump Administration (now with Congressional support! wow!) than by registering to vote/ updating my address for voting by mail?
One of the most encouraging facts I’ve absorbed recently about the charred and broken American political system is that the number of actual voters is increasing. Obviously voting alone is not going to get us out of the mess we’re in, but it helps. And voting by mail increases the likelihood that your ballot will actually be counted properly, since paper ballots cannot be hacked or otherwise altered without leaving some concrete evidence behind.
So, in addition to supporting your local labor union, joining a wildcat strike, worker action, be sure to register to vote and vote.
I am just beginning to dive in to some of the details of this ongoing series of actions in Hong Kong. But I am excited to have been able to use a bilingual interview with an activist (Agnes Chow Ting) spokesperson for the “Scholarism” group in Hong Kong for one of my English expression classes. Scholarism eventually merged into the Demosisto group which is I believe at the center of the current actions. It was a bit of a sensitive issue in class because there is one student who is Chinese in that class and I wasn’t sure how she would react. Japanese media (and as a result, my students) tend to focus on the unrest as a means to criticize the Chinese government in a kind of superior jingoistic fashion. And my Chinese student has often But I think I made it clear that the reason why I brought this text into the class was out of respect for the Chinese student activists and their connecting politics with their education in a meaningful and powerful way.
Exactly what is the connection between education and radical politics in this situation is still something I want to investigate. Obviously the connection that this NYTimes headline suggests of a 1-to-1 process of “radicalization,” doesn’t ring true because it ignores the underlying contexts of that education as it takes place. Anyway, more soon…
August 6— It’s an overcast and windy morning. There was an occasional drizzle on my way into work. The school and the city just observed the anniversary of the first nuclear carpet bombing. 74 years ago today this city was reduced to smoldering, irradiated rubble in carpet-bombing targeting civilians, designed to strike terror and hopelessness into the hearts of the Japanese population and win the Pacific War ahead of a Russian invasion of the Japanese mainland. It was a unique bombing only in terms of the type of weapon used. Otherwise, it is I think fair to say that bombings like these continue into the present day, initiated by the American Executive, left unchecked by the Congress and largely ignored by the American populace. These bombings still target civilians and kill tens of thousands of innocent people every year in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. End the American Capitalist Death Cult!
Portrait of Sadako Sasaki – a young girl who became the symbol of the innocent lives lost in the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and to the brutalities of World War II. Artwork by Joëlle Jones. From Red Flag Magazine: https://redflag.org/magazine/issue-6/wish-upon-a-crane/
This piece I found on consortiumnews.com was written in June by William J. Astore. It’s a great summary of America’s obsession with “air supremacy.” Astore calls the American Military Industrial Complex a “cult,” as do the authors of the “Eyes Left” podcast, which I highly recommend.
Densho is a great organization engaged in archival work and political activism around the World War II Era Japanese-American concentration camps in the Western United States. It’s based out of Seattle, where they have frequent events. I look forward to learning more about this important organization and hopefully even using some of their archival materials on a future history of education project.
Another Japanese incarceration lead that I just became aware of is this novel, No No Boy by John Okada (Charles E. Tuttle, 1957). Unfortunately I had to find out about this in a NYTimes article this week describing a copyright dispute between the Okada family and Penguin Books, who apparently treated it as part of the public domain when they published the latest edition (pictured below).
This is a really important piece by Kate Aronoff about the political situation in Europe from the point of view of the left in the U.S., whose political push for policies to address environmental and economic justice (i.e. the so-called Green New Deal) continues to face resistance within the Democratic party. The punchline, paraphrasing this month’s Dissent Magazine subtitle: “The Neo-liberal center cannot hold!”
Particularly disturbing are the French Neo-Fascists’ fingering “borders” as a way forward on climate? WTF? Identity politics and individual consumer choices are not a solution to climate crisis. This problem demands systemic change and the dismantling of the nationally sanctioned corporate hegemony, which is the source of the vast vast majority of pollution in the world.
Found these next quotes in a Free Will Astrology weekly horoscope mailing:
I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE SOIL
Poet Gary Snyder wrote:
“I pledge allegiance to the soil
under the sun
with joyful interpenetration for all.”
Environmentalist Edward Abbey said, “My loyalties will not be bound by
national borders . . . or limited in the spiritual dimension by one language
or culture. I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my
everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to
the singing stars, to the very end of space and time.”
In *Moby Dick*, Herman Melville suggested that ideally a person should
be a “patriot to heaven.”
North Carolina’s voter ID and income tax rate constitutional amendments were thrown out by a Wake County Superior Court judge who said the General Assembly is unconstitutionally elected due to gerrymandering.
Twitter Version: If you’re not an “activist” judge, you’re not doing it right.
Kudos to NC’s Liberal Establishment for answering the legislature’s nonsense from last session. The framing of this as a “democracy” issue by the chief justice is really wise and will hopefully be an important signal for other citizen activists and politicians in Raleigh who can hopefully free the current government from the thrall of capital.
This is the best new podcast I heard in 2018, and I didn’t catch it until the very end of the year, after one of its creators appeared on another show I love called, The Antifada.
I have gotten a lot of guff from my fellow lefties in the past about my pacifist views– pacifism is naive, it’s too idealistic, what about Hitler, Pearl Harbor, blah blah blah. . . or more compellingly, recently what about antifa– how can I square my desire to punch a white supremacist with avowed pacifism? The creators of “Eyes Left” have done an excellent job of helping me think through these issues, by making some of the philosophical and historical underpinnings and context of socialist anti-war thinking available in convenient, timely audio packets.
I have now listened through their entire back catalog, and it is all superb– their voices are those of authentic, insiders. But while they often specifically address their podcast to a military audience and don’t shy away from jargon, they give explanations when necessary and explicitly reject the macho bullshit veneer of the military.
Spenser Rapone, one-time West Point cadet, now “Other-than-Honorably-Discharged” podcaster. Solidarity!