A MATTER FOR DISCUSSION
I spend way too much time on discussion lists and forums these days. There’s just something I really like about talking to people from all over the world. You talk in one place long enough and you get to know them by what they say, not what they look like or what they do for a living. It’s pure communication really, no preconceptions from physical cues in the uberworld. It’s almost like a perfect first date. You listen with interest but no expectations.
My latest guilty pleasure has been the GNN forums. The registered members come from all over the world, the age range is wide – I’d guess 18-65 – and the politics range the entire gamut from far left to far right.
Guerrilla News Network
My screen name is FLYING HIGH. At 117 posts I have reached the rank of Guerrilla and the entirety are available in the archives. I've been debating the Marxists and the anarchists lately. It's been an interesting discourse.
From the thread Why Communism Fails:
Johnny Galt writes:
What do you think about the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez? It seems to me that he is (or was trying to) "cubanize" his country. Which is not necessarliy a bad thing. However, half the country is against him (capitalist) and the other half loves him. One of the main differences I see in Chavez, with respect to Castro, is that he allows more democracy. According to PBS, the media in Venezuela is run by the wealthy who are extremely anti-chavez. However, Chavez who probably could take over the media, allows free speech. I do not know the whole story in Venezuela, but just wondering what you thought of Chavez?
Sorry it's taken so long for me to get back to this thread and thanks very much everyone for your thoughtful and enlightening answers.
Venezuela is an area of particular interest for me and I'd like to share my thoughts on this.
The idea that Chavez is trying to transform Venezuela into Castro’s Cuba is a fabrication created by the oligarchy and promoted by their main-stream media – owned and operated by these same elite. Venezuela under Chavez is closer to a democracy than the US is at the moment.
Chavez was elected by 80% of the popular vote. His restructuring of the constitution was approved at referendum by 72%. He empowered his people and gave them an avenue of participation in the decision making process of government. He reached into the barrios, shook the hands of his people and created the Bolivarian Circles to give them a voice. He used his military, not for war but sent them out on civic projects. He rebuilt the schools and the children are not only taught but also fed there.
The elite hoard the real estate, 50% of the entire country is unpopulated and unused while the country is forced to import most of it’s food. Chavez distributed land to the landless.
The oligarchs hate him but his people LOVE him. His picture hangs alongside Bolivar at the family altars in every shack in the barrios. He is one of them, a Mestizo, a term sneered in derision by the elite, the 20% of the population of white European descent who control the wealth and power. This is the opposition who claim a popular mandate for their outrageous maneuvers in trying to oust Chavez. They claim a plurality because for them the remaining 80% of the people living in unimaginable poverty, their servant class, simply doesn’t count.
A dark skinned man with indigenous roots and he has the audacity to propose they restructure the economy of the nation in order to more equitably distribute the wealth. The opposition howls communist, dictator and worse, yet he is a democratically elected leader who operates within the laws of his land. It wasn’t until he moved to nationalize the oil industry that the opposition was motivated to take action beyond its ugly little smear campaign.
Thus began the ill-conceived attempt at an economic coup – the so-called strike (read lockout) last December. The conventional wisdom spouted by the pundits was Chavez would be forced to resign within two weeks when they shut down the economy. A cruel strategy employed by a group well prepared to financially withstand it and undertaken in the full knowledge of the hardship it would cause for the majority of the population. But then who would be their maids and gardeners if they gave those people an opportunity to raise themselves from the barrios.
Chavez surprised them all. They had been painting the false picture of Chavez as a bumbling idiot for so long they had come to believe it themselves. He outsmarted and outlasted them. He broke the stranglehold of the old power structure (curiously like the US alleged two party system today) and enacted strong reforms, against a well-financed opposition who had overt US and covert corporate backing and all with a minimum of violence I might add. There is much to be admired in his leadership, and you can’t call it communist as long as he submits to the electorate’s will. I will be interested in what happens in August if the referendum goes forward.
BTW, don’t believe everything you see on PBS either. That special featured a much-discredited mainstream reporter. To balance the picture I suggest you go to http://www.narconews.com/ and punch in Venezuela in the search engine and while you’re at it punch in Forero also.
From the Thread Police: Do We Need Them and Why
(After a spate of bad cop stories and a troll incident):
As far as cops as a group, it's like every other profession. There are good ones and bad ones. I think the problem is more with the laws they are required to enforce, the flawed system they uphold and not so much with the individual cops. Frankly, I've had more unpleasant encounters with private security guards
I don't think we necessarily need cops but we do need an agreed upon code of conduct in order to function as a society. It could be peer enforced certainly but you need a way to enforce it. There is always going to be someone who seeks to expoit weakness in others.
In my personal bad cop story, I was mugged at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Star Community Bar in Little Five Points in Atlanta. A guy grabbed me from behind and held a gun right behind my ear and said, "You know you a fucking bitch".
I leaned into his chest and said, " No I'm not. You got the wrong girl. Don't shoot".
Nothing happened for a long moment. A thousand thoughts went through my mind as I leaned on his shoulder. A passerby might have thought we were embracing. To this day I don't know why he didn't splatter my brains on the asphalt. I was in the center of Little Five. I knew there had to be people on the other side of the buildings. I started to scream repeatedly. Five or six white guys came running down the sidewalk about 50 yards away.
The guys saw us and started hollering stuff like "What's going on mother fucker". The gunman looked at them, let me go and started running in the opposite direction down an alley. As he was running he shot the gun in the air. I thought it should have sounded louder. I never spoke to the guys that saved me. We looked at each other across the wide space and I raised my arms towards them in tribute and walked into the bar where I was meeting a friend. "Give me a double shot of Jameson's," I said "and call the police".
The cops showed up an hour and half later. They didn't listen to a word I said after they heard the guy was tall and black. Yeah, same guy just robbed somebody in the Highlands they told each other and left. It didn't matter to them that the guy had never asked for money. I never heard from them again but I did hear from the community. They organized a watch group in response to the incident, the third time in a month a woman had been assaulted in the neighorhood.
The cops did not make me feel any safer there but my neighbors certainly did.