File spoon-archives/marxism-general.archive/marxism-general_1997/marxism-general.9707, message 94


Date: Fri, 11 Jul 1997 01:46:58 -0400
Subject: M-G: Long Letter to Malecki and reply!


1. Long Letter to Malecki and reply!
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Mr. Malecki:

	I'm 24 years old and presently reside in New Jersey.  For years I've been
trying to make sense of the 1960's - not the packaged, tie-die and Grateful
Dead 60s, as much as the central idea that you can change society.
	It may be hard for you to understand how...I don't know the
word...cinematic, the 1960's seems to my generation.  I was born in 1972,
and I'm too young to remember Watergate, or the fall of Saigon, or any of
that.  All I've got is stories.  And books.  And movies.
	Everything seems so carved in stone to me - and to many others in this sad
generation, which has been appropriately labeled Generation X.  All of what
I read of your story, of the story of the SDS and the Port Huron Statement,
of the civil rights movement -- all of these things seem like something
which happen only on movie screens.
	It seems as if everything is entrenched, and static;  that things cannot
change.  Bill Clinton is a corrupt son of a bitch - but people have excused
every single one of his alleged transgressions because, "all politicians do
those things."  I'm sure the Nixon campaign wasn't the first to illicitly
spy on the opposition, but that does not excuse his actions whatsoever --
just as Dow chemical is not blameless merely because other governments and
corporations made horrible weapons before them. 
	 My situation is especially unique.  I am not a member of the
revolutionary working class, nor am I an aliented white middle class
student with sympathies to the struggle of the working people of the world.
 No - I work a non-unionized 9 to 5 job by choice, and in appearance you
would never pick me out as someone who would be fascinated with your story.
 The most radical cause I've ever been involved with is Amnesty
International.
	I graduated in 1994 from Rutgers University with a BA in political
science, ultimately disgusted with the leftist professors at my school.  As
I am not, as I mentioned, a sympathizer of left-wing causes (mainstream or
radical), there was little for me to respect about my teachers.  They
talked, and talked, and talked about how horrible things are in the world
and then drove home in their BMWs.  They were not men of action.  With one
notable acception: Jose Soler, "the only Red in the labor department," as
he was fond of saying, with a pride in his party affiliation that I was not
used to seeing.  It's easy to be a socialist, or communist, or anarchist,
or labor populist when you're attending the national convention of the
CPUSA, but maybe it's not so simple to say this to a class of mostly middle
and upper-middle class white kids in the 1990's - especially when the word
"communist" immediately evokes thoughts of the collapsed "Evil Empire"; the
USSR.
	I was - and am - a libertarian, and Mr. Soler (who was a labor organizer
in Puerto Rico) and I established an interesting relationship.  Despite our
seemingly diametrically opposed worldviews, we had much in common.  Both of
us were willing to take unpopular stands on principle alone (something I am
sure you are familiar with), and both of us were interested in hearing each
others stories, more than stuffing our viewpoints down each others'
throats.  I learned a great deal from Mr. Soler.  
	Ironically, I knew more about labor history and the labor movement(s) than
just about anyone else in the class.  I brought in the Woody Guthrie
recordings to be played in class; I knew all of the words to the
Internationale, which surprised the hell out of Mr. Soler.  I had not come
to libertarianism by way of crass redneck greed; I had come there after
reading and considering Marx, Marcuse, and all of the other thinkers
popular with the collegiate left.  I had also dismissed most of what the
conservatives were saying, as their track record and lack of principle
showed them to be corrupt, insincere, and oftentimes, a hell of a lot
worse.  I didn't want politics to ever be some high-minded crap that people
sit around in dorm rooms discussing.  At the end of any political system
are real people and their sweat and blood and heritage - and in the end,
politics is more than a fashionable coat to wear in college.  People DIE
from politics.  People STARVE from politics.  Civilizations are built and
collapse from politics.  People can be empowered from politics - delivered
into, or out of slavery from politics.
	This is difficult for most of my generation to understand.  As I was
saying before, politics is "cinematic", alien, distant.  It is something
that happens in Washington and life for the average American never seems to
change.  But I have studied history and the world enough to know that
things change.  Civilizations rise and fall, countries collapse,
revolutions take root.  
	I do not apologize for the reprehensible behavior of the
military-industrial complex (whose existence I acknowledge, which is more
than I can say for most advocates of free market economics).  I would have
actively opposed US intervention in all of Southeast Asia, but I would not
have aided the North Vietnamese, either.  Clearly, in hindsight, the
intervention of Western nations in Asia, Central & South America, and
Africa has left chaos, blood, and poverty in its wake.  I can admit this
and even feel and express indignation about it without being a socialist. 
It is hard for many on the Left to understand; they have stereotyped
libertarians in the same way as the conservative have stereotyped all of
the left "Stalinists."   Libertarians, socialists, and conservatives all
have their views on Capitalism, but all define "Capitalism" differently. 
Coercive corporatism, sending troops to the middle east to die for oil and
defense countries, employing slave and child labor - these are things I
would stand against with the same virulence as yourself.  Do not call me an
apologist for these activities - many in America are.  I am not.  
	I was listening to a CD I picked up by Phil Ochs, and I began to gain
perspective of what it must be like to be a principled leftist (sorry to
keep using the term leftist - I don't know what else to use for the purpose
of this letter) in an environment of mainstream, middle class bourgeois
liberals.  I have always considered myself closer in spirit to principled,
activist leftists than libertarians who identified themselves as such for
purpose of pragmatism, convenience, or otherwise.  My politics have always
been a matter of moral principle.  I am not rich; I live from paycheck to
paycheck.  I have been "exploited" in previous jobs in almost textbook
cases from Marx's Capital (I used to fix computers for $10 an hour, while
my boss would charge $75 an hour, for an example).  I have made funnel
cakes (fried dough) in a 120 degree, non-air conditioned food stand for 8
or 10 hours at a time with no breaks - for $5 an hour.  
	This being the case, it would piss me off to no end if someone sent me off
to some foreign country to die for rich defense contractors.  The
complaints of the working class are not lost on me.  I am no longer one of
them, but I can remember, and I cannot imagine working in such conditions
for an entire lifetime.
	My father is considered a Vietnam Vet for paperwork purposes, but he
worked fueling planes in the Phillipines in the very early 1960's, during
the Kennedy administration and the very beginning of the Johnson
administration.  Both of my parents are Republican, from working class
stock (my father was the son of a coal miner in Pittston, PA), who worked
their way through college and into white collar jobs.  They only faintly
remember the name Medgar Evers, they've never been politically active, and
in general I know more about the events of the 60s and 70s than they do,
which is, perhaps, sad.   I remember one conversation in particular when I
was schooling *them* on the civil rights movement.  I should not have to do
this.
	I guess the interest in all of this started when I found - still in the
plastic - Bob Dylan's "Bringing it All Back Home" in my father's record
collection.  He had never opened it, never listened to it (he was, at the
time, primarily a country & western fan).  I listened to songs like "Gates
of Eden" and "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding."  This was when I was 13,
back in 1985 in an era of bright colors and "Don't worry - be happy"
thinking.  I remember thinking to myself, "What the fuck is all of this
about?"  It was serious, focused, had something to say.
	Thankfully, it resulted in research of the era.  I think that younger
people are acutely aware that *something* happened before they were born,
but in general, unfortunately, they don't understand (or care) too much
about it.  The 60s and 70s are retro fashions, waiting to be repackaged
(music and fashion) and that's about it.  Personally I couldn't give a shit
about Flower Power and the goofy excesses of that era.  What interests me
most is that we had an era where people put their asses on the line, from
the appropriately arrogant Port Huron Statement, to what you did, to the
thousands of lives lost in Vietnam.  I don't know why I cried at the
Vietnam War Memorial in Washington.  No one in my family died in that war. 
It wasn't even my generation.  Maybe it was because deep down, I know that
it can happen again.  I know that the same type of people are still in
Washington, and if we didn't have such a technological advantage, it might
have happened again in the deserts of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  Still,
innocent people died there as a result of the United States' rush to
protect an oil magnate and dictator.  To protect a country that routinely
oppresses minorities and women.  
	When Nixon died, I was appalled by all of the positive things said by
people who rightly, in the past, condemned him.  I was glad to see him
gone.  When McNamara's book came out and I heard it being discussed on a
PBS news show, all I could do was laugh.  No one in the room with me even
knew who McNamara's book was.  But I wanted to hit him.  I kept thinking
about all of the vets in wheelchairs, tears streaming down their face, and
the uneasy, sad silence down at the war memorial.   It is too bad that you
cannot come to America to see the memorial.  Usually, memorials strike me
as phony or cheauvanistic - this memorial, in its simplicity, is different.
 It is quiet and solemn there, and not so much because it's allegedly a
sore spot with Americans that "we lost a war" - but because you see all of
these names, and little cards, letters, and flowers that people leave at
the base of the wall, and you think - even if we won, even if we beat the
North Vietnamese and Viet Cong into submission - would all of these deaths
have been worth it?  Would the burning of villages, the maiming and murder
of women and children whether deliberately or by indiscriminate gunfire and
bombing - have been worth it?  
	The answer came from a young child who was standing there a little bit
confused, holding his mother's hand.  He said, "Mommy - what's Vietnam?"  I
doubt the majority of young Americans today could even find the country on
the map.  Vietnam is as insignificant to American life - in practical terms
- as a single grain of sand lying on a South Pacific beach.  And yet we
crassly wasted lives, souls, and money for it.  We fought (allegedly) for a
bunch of people who had already lost the will to fight.  I don't feel
pretentious about having an opinion on Vietnam.  Many people seem to
suggest that I'm not qualified to, since the war did not directly touch me
as it touched others.    As human beings we all have the capacity for
empathy - and while it's impossible for someone raised in relative safety
and comfort to ever understand what it must be like to see the kinds of
things you saw over there - one can, at least, begin to imagine the horror
and sadness.  I saw it in the eyes of the people at the Memorial.  
	Ultimately, I fear for my generation.  If I look at the things targeted at
and consumed by Generation X, I am a bit ashamed.  Ashamed of the
depression, disgust, and sadness you can hear in the music.  I'm ashamed at
the fatalism, at the idea that things can never change, that Washington
controls everything and all we can do is sit back and watch the carnage.  I
don't think we have the right to be this way.  We haven't earned it.  We've
dismissed the world as hopeless, as if it can't be changed.

	We haven't even fucking tried.  

	We accepted the attitude of our parents who, while perhaps once active and
passionate and principled and moral, have assimilated and submitted to the
onset of Age.  Their bodies are not old, by any standard, but their minds
are.  They have become cynical, obsessed with stupid and pointless and
irrelevent concerns like refinancing their mortgages and what time their
favorite TV show is on.

	This generation never really had the courage to rebel against it.  Many of
us identify ourselves as non-conformists, revolutionaries, etc.  But
revolution in 1997 is writing a letter to the local paper protesting the
killing whales.  We've inhertited and accepted the sad mental state of our
parents.

	Your story - which I am not yet finished reading - fascinates me because
your exile has not faded with the passing of the era.  Vietnam has not
ended for you.      Really, things have not changed extensively in the
world - there are still extrajudicial killings, torture, arrests,
disappearances and executions.  There are still political prisoners in
America (you are one,  in exile).  But we've accepted that for granted and
that just isn't right.

	Which brings me to my point.

	I would like to edit and republish your book electronically.  I noticed
that there are several errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  I
have the skill set to correct those - if you wish.  I would like to "clean
it up" and distribute it under the name of my e-zine, "Frost Warnings".  It
is a non-profit publication, and I have been searching for worthwhile
material to publish and distribute.  Your story far exceeds the importance
of anything I have yet received.

	Each article, story, etc. is published autonomously.  Which means that it
is not couched between other articles.  Each "file" is released on its own
with my header and footer.  Everything I release is first, translated into
pure ASCII at 65 columns (so that it can be read on any computer made after
1971, text pagers, fax machines, or read aloud for visually impaired people
using a simple screen reader.  It can also be easily cut and pasted to web
sites, newsgroups, or e-mail while retaining the original formatting).   
The only appended information is contact information for my publication
(web site, e-mail, and distribution sites) and your name, contact info for
you, a short bio, and date of publication.

	I think it would be worthwhile, because my zine is targeted toward a
subculture which ordinarily might never stumble across your page.  A
younger "cyberpunk" audience as it were.  We will soon inherit the reins of
government.  Getting your story out to younger people is important, if
repeating the sins of the past worries you as it does me.  

	Anything I would edit, I would submit back to you for approval, and you
would of course retain the copyright and so forth.  My purpose is getting
people to think and consider; there is no profit involved, no political
viewpoint specifically advocated, no ulterior motives.  I just think that
your story should be heard by a much wider audience, and by publishing in
my format, it is likely that your book will circulate around the internet
for potentially hundreds of years to come, if we last that long.

	If you reject this proposal, I understand fully - I can imagine that your
book has a very special personal value to you.  I just feel that it will be
more accesible and more widely available if I publish it as a "Frost
Warning."

	I'm just getting started with this project; you can check it out at
( address removed for security) if you want to take a look at what I'm
trying to do.  I think that, by publishing your story as Frost Warning #1,
it will set a high standard for what I publish in the future.  And you
story should be heard.  That I firmly believe.  You can take the finished
draft and make it downloadable from your web site, if you choose.  I can
also put a pointer back to Cockroach in the header, if you want.

	Whatever you decide, as an American (fuck it, as a human being), allow me
to express my respect, my regret, my condolences, and my sincere hope that
you will one day be able to return to this country.

					In respect,

					R. 

Dear R.,

Thanks for the very nice long letter. 

Sure! Please feel free to use and edit my book. Naturally if you can edit 
the book without removing the fundemental feelings and style involved would 
be of great help. Another thing is that I certainly would like to see the 
book in print someday and not just online. So if you have any ideas or 
friends who think this would be a good idea then this would be helpful 
also.Keep me informed on your progress and naturally I wish you luck in your 
endeavors.

Warm Regards 
Bob Malecki
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Check Out My HomePage where you can,

Read the book! Ha Ha Ha McNamara,
Vietnam-My Bellybutton is my Crystalball!

Or Get The Latest Issue of,

COCKROACH, a zine for poor and working-class people

http://www.algonet.se/~malecki

Back issues of Cockroach and my book at 
http://www.kmf.org/malecki/

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