Rapallo, Italy 15 August, 2004
To: Nick B., Los Angeles, CA
Thank you for your very kind note and I miss you too.
I very much appreciate that you feel that I should return because the country needs people like Kris and I at this difficult time. Sadly, I must disagree.
I think you know that the United States has not wanted people like me for a very long time. I know you keep holding up the Democratic Party as something that still offers a counter to Bush because you have faith. I do not.
First, both parties are not interested in dissent and demand loyalty over conscience, which, you know, I abhor. I find it counter-productive to ‘goosestep’ to anyone’s march if that means I must forfeit an open and questioning mind. If you will recall it was ‘liberals’, in the previous election, who worked very hard at not allowing Nader to speak at the debates. It would appear that all sides have a bit of totalitarianism in them. You speak to me that compromise is not a bad thing and I agree but I believe that you and many Americans have confused betrayal with compromise. One of the reasons that the country finds itself in the position its in is partly because of Mr. Clinton in the same way the left in France was responsible for Le Pen.
President Clinton could not get national health through but he could take one million poor children off of assistance. He could not drop the embargo with Cuba but could pardon a millionaire criminal and promote, with great enthusiasm, a globalization that sent millions of jobs overseas and allowed corporations to run roughshod over governments.
He could talk endlessly about economics but lost both houses and presided over an economy predicated on false numbers and stock market tricks and this in turn allowed the Ken Lays of the world to later destroy thousands of lives, and when there was much to be done he acted recklessly and had his presidency neutralized by his enemies so I am curious as to what your definition of success is.
The great crime that Bush has committed has been to act overtly the way the country has been acting covertly, under a variety of administrations, for years, with all of its arrogance, criminality and brutality. He has shown the ugly face of America that has always been there and that others around the world have been subjected to but that we, the public, mostly rationalized and ignored. As long as we did not have to see its rawness we could put it away and live with it. Bush, unknowingly, obliterated the myth and made us see our darker selves. One does not have to be a Ph.D. to understand this. Just go to Chile and ask men of a certain age to tell you what their lives were like prior and following, America’s intervention into their country or go to Greece and inquire about the colonels and the misery and death that followed. Go to Iran but don’t mention that we wish to assist them in Democracy because they will then bring up the names Mosadeq and Kermit Rooosevelt the CIA and British Petroleum and you will have to explain why, when they had a beginning Democracy, we took it away. We are still paying for that one as the recent September 11 report shows.
I have been asking questions around the world for a long time now and I have found that we have been laying the groundwork for the hate now directed our way for years. As you will recall I talked about this in your living room over 15 years ago but Americans did not want to hear it. I remember you said something about me having to dark a picture of the United States and that other countries were just jealous of our success. And you are a very intelligent life long Democrat but where were the Democrats then? Where were they with Vietnam and Nicaragua and where are they now? As I recall a majority of them voted for the Iraq war when they should have been asking difficult questions. And now there is a new political messiah (Kerry) about to be anointed by the Democrats. They forgive that he voted for the war and they hypocritically find ways around campaign finance reform so as to collect millions from some of the same corporations who pay off the Republicans (La Stessa Minestra). The Democrats say there is a difference and they say ‘trust me.’ Do you really trust them Nick?
I read in the Herald Tribune recently that at the Democratic convention Gore scolded those who had supported Nader. How dare he behave as the ‘man who would be king’. But this is the problem is it not? Parties and political people believe that the ‘people’ are there to serve and help them win. Winning is after-all the American deity second only to money.
You struggle to convince me to believe in something and I do. I believe that people are basically kind and decent but as to my country I know that we have lost our way. I believe that we are at the end of empire now and surprisingly, I am sad about it. I thought we might have had more time, learning from histories past mistakes and abuses and evolving into something remarkable.
As all of the celebrities and political types gather in Boston and go to expensive parties and talk of defeating Bush and what positions would be given out for what political favors, my friend J sits in Iraq. He is a National Guardsman who is a graphic designer. A small life perhaps in the considerations of the big plans by the Republicans and Democrats but a life worthy of consideration none the less. I have heard none of them speak of such people or concerns. So much for a ‘Tribune’ of the people. It’s all big picture and non-specifics. The politicians (Democrats and Republicans) sent a graphic designer from the Guard, to Iraq where he sits in a trailer day after day and does not know when he can go home or how long he may be there. In all of these Democratic and Republican festivities about high-minded plans and strategies to win, I suspect the fate of one young man far away does not carry much weight but it does for me.
You tell me to believe but I don’t know what you want me to believe in. From your statements you seem to feel that winning in itself achieves something monumental but unless the victory has substance then we are merely talking about football, and I have never really enjoyed the ‘game’.
With respect and love my old friend,