The old Gladstone Hotel was happily packed and it took me a while to locate missnegativity, who had a table with the new issue of her zine, Ye Drunken Sailor, now with a colour cover and coming out of a real print-shop, rather than a Kinko's. We exchanged promises (to go drinking one of these days - I'll be holding you to that, young lady!) and money (for the magazine). I have only paged through it at this point, but it is clearly a lot more about politics than it is about drinking or sailors.
Still, as has been my wont of late when in a crowd, I was not terribly socialable. I made a round of the tables, picked up some promising-looking reading material, then hopped on the machine and pedalled for home, eschewing a compulsive stop in at the Cadillac Lounge.
Still, I'm glad I went. A body needs to be reminded from time to time, that there are still people out there who have not been beaten down, but who are following their own visions and putting out work, no matter that the likelihood of financial return is small indeed. Acts of creation are acts of hope, cries of defiance in the face of a world it would be easy to see as headed for the kind of collective madness that snuffed out the lives of a hundred million people - or, probably, more - during the 20th century, and left billions struggling just to survive.
When Junior Bush and John Kerry's final "debate" comes down to two schoolboys each insisting the other is a liar; when Kerry's "solution" to the war in Iraq is to do what Bush proposes - er, but better; when our own government, led by the apparently intelligent but clearly gutless Paul Martin, seems set on joining in with the US on "Star Wars"; when Israel and Russia continue to slaughter civilians in their respective "trouble-spots"; and when even liberal Iraqis are turning to fundamentalist monsters to fight the invaders, Young Geoffrey feels the dark night of cynical despair descending upon him.
When even Noam Chompsky, despite his own analysis, signs a petition encouraging Americans in "swing states" to hold their noses and vote for Kerry, rather than Nader, I can't help but wonder if all hope is lost.
I am not, thank god (if my Gentle US Readers will forgive an apostate's appropriation of that term), so my analysis of the upcoming election is relatively free of concerns about what a 2nd Bush mandate will mean for the US internally. At the risk of sounding like something out of the Red Brigades, having Bush reveal the jackboots beneath his tailored suit might make for a good wake-up call for the perpetually dozing American people.
By size, the American Empire puts the British imperium to shame. Spanning the Globe, the Pax Americana has bases and troops in 144 (if memory serves) countries around the world. And yet, it is an empire without a name; the American people see themselves as peace-loving folk and are baffled that so many foreigners seems to think of them as bullies.
How can it be that Noam Chomsky, of all people, believes that voting for Tweedle Dum, rather than Tweedle Dee? Does he really believe one would be a significant improvement over the other?
Clearly, he does, but I can't see that it will make much of a difference.
- Kerry is as beholden to the corporate hegemony that has (almost completely) hijacked the American experiment;
- Kerry has said his administration will continue the war in (on) Iraq, but believes he will be able to do it more effectively than Bush. He will continue the "War on Terror", "modernize" the US military to continue its role as global policeman, and, er, "... free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil." Well, by tapping American ingenuity," that's how.
At best, a Kerry government will slow down the kleptocracy that has used American imperialism as a private bank - the Haliburtons of the United States will likely receive a little less in the way of unearned money, but not much. Though his website says
We must always remember that terrorists do not just target our lives - they target our way of life. John Kerry and John Edwards believe in an America that is safe and free, and they will protect our personal liberties as well as our personal security
his website, on quick perusal, didn't promise to revoke the Patriot Act. Rather, it talked about beefing up counter-intelligence and other security measures. Nothing about getting at the cause of the problems in the first place.
And so, were I a Yank, I would vote for Nader. Because whichever of the two "real" candidates wins, nothing much will change and I would prefer to be able to tell myself I didn't support the lesser of two evils.
The first quarter of the 21st century isn't going to be a lot of fun, folks.
The corporate mask will continue to loosen, showing its facist fangs; the Moslem world, whose savage governments are mostly supported by the powers-that-be in Washington, will get ever more desperate and savage in turn.
Those countries, like North Korea and (especially) Iran - where there was a strong movement against its religious, fundamentalist rulers only a couple of years ago, have learned the lesson of Afghanistan and Iraq: one's rule is only safe if one has the Bomb.
My predictions for the near-term:
- Whoever wins, the war against Iraq will continue. The US will suffer 10,000 casualties (the Iraqis 200,000) before pulling out, shortly before 2010. The puppet regime they leave in "charge" won't last a year;
- Iran will announce it has nuclear weapons by early 2006;
- by the end of this decade, the US people will look back on the stagflation of the '70s as a golden age; and
- Someone, somewhere, will use nuclear weapons by 2015 - if we're lucky, they'll be small ones. If I'm lucky, they won't fall anywhere too close by.
Well. So much for my intention to get all mushy about the lovely night and part of a day I spent with Laura, or what fun we had at Second City.
I'm going to order a pizza, smoke a bowl, watch the Simpsons then go to sleep in preparations for distraction at the Bill Bolton Arena.
But be of good cheer, Gentle Readers. This too shall pass.