Saturday, January 20, 2007

S.A.M. ... sudden art malaise?

Here's what they've done to my backyard. I'm not thrilled about it. Yeah, yeah at least not another 10-story condo but still. An eraser?!

Seattle Art Museum Sculpture Park

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jesus, the Communist! (Like the musical only with more red)

About three months ago I saw an ad for an anti-Bush/anti-war group meeting. The Seattle chapter of the World Can't Wait had about a dozen members, including a half dozen core members. WCW was mostly middle-aged women and a smattering of idealistic, twenty something college guys. You know the kind -- they make their own punk clothes, are vegan, and write poetry worse than mine when they aren't reading Abbie Hoffman.

The big rally happened right after that first meeting on Oct. 5th. The WCW paid for a permit to meet in a Capital Hill park, had a string of not-terribly-good guest speakers and then we marched downtown. By the time we got downtown, there were about 1,000 people in the group. It was a gorgeous day and the whole thing was fairly successful; aside with WCW being a little pushy with the collection buckets at the rally in the park. They had me and several others wander through the crowd three times to beg for money presumably so WCW could pay for the rally. At least I think that's what the money was for. I've never heard a solid figure on how much was raised that day or what the total cost of the event was.

Afterwards, I went to their weekly meetings every Sunday in a very pretty and very drafty church in Ballard. They were usually two-hour bitchfests about the Bush Regime. Later, I went out in storms to put fliers up on phone poles, light poles, bulletin boards, etc.

The group got some members to fork over for some orange jumpsuits ala Gitmo style and started doing Thursday night vigils in the brutal cold in downtown Seattle. We were there to remind the holiday shoppers that hundreds of foreign nationals were being held illegally in Guantanamo by the Bush Regime and that the Military Commissions Act was an illegal trick that defied every known international law. Fair enough. I went to one of those and held a sign with a 70-year-old woman who had left another activist group because she said: "They were just all about the salmon and protecting the salmon habitat and I was just sick of fish activism." She was a nice lady but I'm not sure she should have been standing outside in the cold when she looked frail enough to blow away.

Things started to get weird. First I had to listen to a very authoritarian twenty something member scold myself and another meeting attendee for 'showing up late'. Well, shit. It's Sunday. It's awful weather out and we're here. (Citizen Alert was always grateful when anybody showed up.)

Then I found out that most of the 'core members' were also communists. That's fine. But they're members of a national organization called the Revolutionary Communist Party. I did a little reading on this group -- and it wasn't easy finding anything on them. The covertness of the RCP weirded me out to no end. I'd met tons of socialists when I was in the UK and especially Australia. Their socialist leanings were no big secret. They wanted national healthcare (the continuation of it) and more corporate accountability. What's wrong with that?!

Every time I asked one of the RCP members what they were about, why they were in WCW, I ran head first into the dreaded Smug Smile. If you've never experienced this, you've never been anywhere near Utah where the Mormons invented and perfected the Smug Smile. The Smug Smile basically sez: "You're wrong, I'm right. You're a sad, misguided unbeliever and you're going to hell. I, however, am going to heaven when I die. My own, personal heaven ... since we've already got most of Idaho by proxy."

I was getting that vibe from the RCP. So I did more reading and finally stumbled upon some truly creepy stuff. Like, for example, the RCP has founded numerous anti-war/anti-establishment groups since the 1980s. Most of these groups steam along for a few years and then just cease to exist. The websites come down, the meetings stop. No explanation. Coming from an environmentalist background I was shocked. The group I was in off and on from 1992-2002, had been in around since the late 1970s when it was founded to stop the MX missile system from being brought into Nevada by the Reagan administration.

I asked a couple of the 'core members' of the RCP what they were doing in the WCW. They assured me that they weren't looking for fresh communist recruits and that they only wanted to work with democrats, republicans, whoever to stop the Bush regime. But every single time I asked them WHAT their best-case scenario was they got cagey. I'd get the Smug Smile. What did the RCP want? A multi-party system? An abolishment of the electoral college? A few seats along side some libertarians and greens in the Senate? They always got super vague and would say things like 'well, that's the first step'. First step to what?

In December I went to a WCW meeting and one of the 'core group' (and RCP member!) announced that he was starting a Seattle chapter of a communist youth brigade. He was looking for members. He was doing exactly what the other RCP folks had told me they would never, do -- using WCW as a place to fish for new members for the RCP. This terribly idealistic kid wanted myself and the half dozen present to start working on fund raising so he and some other 'core group' members (RCP members too!) could fly to NYC and attend a meeting at WCW's national headquarters. I'm just wondering how close the WCW's New York office is to the RCP's national office ...?

I visited the website this guy had put up for the little youth brigade. It has rifles and bayonets as part of the motif.

Because politics -- any version of it -- always has a complicated history, I did a little more research. I learned that Mao, the former 'benevolent dictator' of communist China, was one of the RCP's favorite philosophers and they quote him a lot. I also learned he killed an estimated 15 million Chinese during his Great Upward Movement which was basically a food-for-bombs exchange with the Soviet Union. Chinese starved to death so Mao could arm his 'People's Army' against any real or imagined internal threats ... to him. Like Tibet, for example. A country where today it's illegal to teach the Tibetan language, they have 60% unemployment, thousands of ethnic Chinese were forced to moved there in the 70s and take over Tibetan farms and businesses. Oh yeah, and under Mao, hundreds of thousands of Tibetan Buddhists were executed or imprisoned because 'religion is poison.' And this guy is their rock star.

Then I discovered that the RCP has also founded NION (Not In Our Name), and they've been linked to ANSWER (Act Now Stop War End Racism). So why so many anti-war groups? Why can't the RCP just march under their own banner?

I learned RCP was founded by a 70s activist, Bob Avakian, who has been 'in exile' from the U.S. for decades and gives lectures on the pros of communism via an undisclosed location ala Cheney. He's supposedly an eloquent speaker. Personally, I can barely sit through a six minute lecture let alone a six hour DVD of one. If Mao is the Old Testament god to the RCP, then Avakian is their Jesus Christ. When they talk about him their eyes get real glassy and they get dreamy little grins. (Imagine that politics is your poison ... err drug.)

Finally, I found a couple of websites alleging that the RCP is the only communist party in America that continues to call for the 'violent over throw of the government.' That's right. Rifles and bayonets! Molotov cocktails hitting cop cars. They don't want any seats in Congress. They want to burn Congress to the ground.

Some would argue they're not above using scapegoats to get what they want. What's especially alarming about the RCP is that other, extreme Leftist groups are afraid of them. Anarchists hate the RCP and any of it's off shoots like the WCW with a purple passion. I've had several tell me that the RCP 'sets them up' at protests to get 'taken down by the cops.' An event some what like this occurred on Oct. 5th right here in Rain City. I wrote angry letters to feckless TV reporters over it because of their shoddy coverage of it. Afterwards, I read in a local weekly newspaper that the cops 'received an anonymous tip' that Anarchists were going to be joining the Oct. 5th rally. Hmmm ... wonder who called them???

So I'm done with the World Can't Wait, comrades. I'm all for the removal of the zit that is BushCo from America's ass but I support our democracy, however shabby it's looking, because I am a member of a democracy-by-representation society, not a displaced worker from the Hunan Province looking to re-educate my wayward Tibetan neighbors by forcing them to read the Little Red Book at gunpoint.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Heureux Nouveau Année ... eh?

Maybe it's because I'm stuck on the Dole while I'm waiting for my worker retraining classes to kick in, but I've been staring a lot more wistfully north these days. I don't know ... is the moss really greener on the other side?

I've just got this nagging curiousity about Our Neighbors to the North, those Molson Drinkers ...