Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"America" is Not Evil

The U.S. is definitely dysfunctional! However, I can't go so far as to use the word "evil." What a tricky word! In particular, it seems precarious to try to personify "America" by qualifying it as "sick" or "evil." I cringe at the thought of the potential faces one puts on the idea of "America" when personifying it--especially when one holds it to be "evil."

For one thing, I am an American. I am not proud of my government. I disdain patriotism. Likewise, I loath its symbols and myths that misdirect and misinform. I do not, and will likely never, say the Pledge of Allegiance. I am a teacher, and I would never teach my students with the objective of making them patriots. I teach them to think critically of their reality. I teach them to assess their own crimes, misdeeds, etc. and to take responsibility for them. I teach them to set for themselves higher standards then they set for others. I teach them to see the interconnection of our entire globe.

However, that said, I am quite proud of many aspects of American culture and history. For example, I am proud of my fellow workers that have suffered –yet struggled against—the wrath of the employing class throughout American history. I am proud of the struggles of oppressed races, genders and sexual orientations. Therefore, if I were asked to personify "America" and put a face on it, I suppose I'd opt for the working class, American Indians, etc. Quite clearly, this face should not be seen as "evil" or "sick."

One of the things I respect about Fidel Castro--despite some obvious flaws--is that he has always been clear to distinguish between "America" and the "U.S. Government." Hugo Chavez seems to be embracing a similar pattern. This is important when discussing this North American empire. As a member of the working class, I see quite clearly that I have nothing in common with the employing class. Since the U.S. Government is beholden to the elite employing class, it represents as much of an obstacle to achieving true freedom and dignity to the American working class as it does to the working class around the world. Therefore, my common ground is with the global working class, the poor, the oppressed, etc.

On another level, "America" as an identifier is additionally tricky because it includes North America, Central America and South America. Perhaps we should reclaim the understanding that we are all Americans. Por eso, me gusta como actualmente el mundo hispano-parlante se está distinguiendo a los habitantes del imperio como "estadounidenses" en vez de "americanos." Todos somos americanos: peruanos, guatemaltecos, mexicanos, canadienses, etc. Al mismo tiempo, cuando uno quiere destacar un aspecto negativo, o un comportamiento feo ("malo" o "enfermo") cometido por unos estadounidenses, uno debe agruparles como "yanquis." No soy ni "yanqui" ni “gringo” ni “gabacho,” pero sí soy americano al mismo tiempo que soy un estadounidense…y sí hablo español. [Translation: "For that matter, I like how the contemporary Spanish-speaking world distinguishes the inhabitants of the empire as "United Statesians" instead of "Americans." We are all Americans: Peruvians, Guatemalans, Mexicans, Canadians, etc. At the same time, if one wants to highlight a negative aspect or some ugly behavior ("evil" or "sick") committed by a "United Statesian," one should call that person a "Yankee." I am not a "yankee," nor a "gringo," nor a "gabacho," but I am an American as well as a "United Statesian"...and yes, I speak Spanish."]

I do not believe “America” is something “to be got rid of." The U.S. government, perhaps! But better yet, let’s look at the system that precedes the thinking that one might—for lack of a better word—call “sick.” If there exists a system—a superstructure—that pervades every aspect of our lives (Mexican, Angolan, and American alike) especially the formulation of our thinking, what hope is there that we will ever “get rid of” any of the dysfunctional effects by calling them “evil.” It isn’t the effects that are “evil” or even dysfunctional, but the cause. That cause is a system that divides, oppresses, and has an insatiable appetite for profit over people. That system is capitalism. It isn’t the “Americanization” of the world one should fear, but the “Coca-Cola-ization” or “McDonaldsization” of the world! Resist branding by corporations! Resist corporate globalization! Resist capitalism! Resist orthodoxies como el fin de la historia!

4 comments:

GraemeAnfinson said...

Right on. Cheers!

Pocho said...

Nope, "evil god dam mad dog live" reads the same forward and backword, and that proves it.

littlebitofsonshine said...

I persionaly like your post AND God bless the World doggoneit.Nice blog By the way.Be safe walk in Peace Allways

Anonymous said...

I agree with your post.


Long live Che Guevara.

Peace.
SF, CA