I was going to bitch and moan about how the waning sunlight is causing my body to enter hibernation mode (in other words, I’m pretty sure I have seasonal affective disorder) and how I can’t get up in the morning to save my life, but, who cares. Oh well.
Today I finished Revolt of the Cockroach People by Oscar Zeta Acosta, who was a zealous Chicano attorney who defended a lot of political cases, who ran for L.A. County Sheriff in the ‘60’s, and who subpoenaed every single judge in the State of California, essentially stating that they were all racist, especially with regards to choosing grand juries. (This happened when a prominent Chicano leader, Corky Gonzales, was on trial for conspiracy to incite a riot, which happened in the aftermath of the killing of a Chicano journalist, Ruben Salazar.) Zeta is actually the inspiration from which Hunter S. Thompson created Dr. Gonzo, a character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
But it is a deep, deep book, and reading it really helps in making sense of L.A.(not to claim that I have any sense of it, though I have to say, I know more than I did before) and history in general, and I cannot hope to do justice to it in the space of a pathetic little blog entry, but I will pull out snippets of what touched me.
La vida no es la que vivimos, la vida es el honor y el recuerdo. Por eso mas vale morir con el pueblo vivo, y no vivir con el pueblo muerto. Life is not as it seems, life is pride and personal history. Thus it is better that one die and that the people should live, rather than one live and the people die.) – A sign hanging by the door in the chapel in Delano in which Cesar Chavez fasted, originally from an inscription marking where Lopitos was assassinated outside of Acapulco.
It is strange to live in a land of deep history, California, Aztlan, and yet have this history denied and erased. And yet, though I’m not Chicano, it resonates. Because Filipinos worked (and some still work) the fields of the Central Valley, too. Delano is where Agbayani Village is. And Filipinos also had the land stolen from underneath them by America and our own sellout leaders. The Philippines had its history denied and erased as well. And as Subcommander Marcos has pointed out, the final struggle (Dubya and his crusade against terrorism notwithstanding) will be against globalization, regardless of the color of your skin. Cockroaches of the world unite.
…he knows the mistrust one Chicano has for another. He understands the fear in the room toward a leader from another barrio, suspicion of a strange leader because… because Santa Anna sold us out to the gringos… because Juarez did nothing about it… because Montezuma was a fag and a mystic who had the fear of the Lord for Cortez… because anybody who has so little is afraid to lose what he just barely has got, saith the Lord.
Just replace “Chicano” with “Filipino” and change the names around—plug in Aguinaldo, Quezon, Lakandula, Legazpi willy-nilly—and you’ve got a good summary of both the Spanish conquest and American conquest of the Philippines as well. It’s not just a coincidence. The puti has quite mastered the art of “divide and conquer,” and it’s kind of disturbing that we fall for it again and again. But then again, as Zeta says, it’s exactly because “anybody has so little is afraid to lose what he just barely has got.” So revolutions start precisely when there is nothing left to lose—advice to the conqueror and the conquered both.
Mabuhay ang Himagsikan
Now I know J.R.R. Tolkien despised allegory, but I just realized that the War of the Ring is a perfect metaphor for the Revolution. (SPOILER WARNING–Read The Lord of the Rings ASAP) The Ring is a relic that will give the wielder supreme power, but all the “good guys” are afraid to use it because it will just turn them into a “bad guy.” The old cliche of “power corrupts.” So the war they fight is not to defeat the old power and replace it with a new power, but a war to tear down the old order completely and start all over, with no one having that much power ever again. This is, in my interpretation, exactly what Marx, the anarchists, the technocratic utopians, even the psycho-ultra-libertarians with their xenophobic tendencies have been saying. The Last Revolution is the war that will destroy all existing power hierarchies, finally flattening everything. Sure, it won’t create a perfectly equal, perfectly harmonious society, sure, people will still be able to kill each other, rich and poor will still exist, but I’m positive it will be better. No one person, no one madman, will ever have the power to disrupt the lives of billions like you can today. Right now, all the president has to do is touch a button, and the whole world disappears in a big, old mushroom cloud. All some sicko has to do is put some white powder in an envelope (there are far more deadly things than anthrax) and the corpses will be filling the rivers. But if you flatten the power structure, if you give everyone the capabilities to defend themselves (meaning more than just weapons, but education, community, the basics of life), then it becomes harder to clap chains around ankles. Like Neal Stephenson’s HEAP (Holocaust Education and Avoidance Pod. Read Necronomicon to see what I mean.) The conquered ought not become the conquerors themselves. Ironically, it must be the conquered’s responsibility to preserve humanity, because the conquerors aren’t doing a very good job.