FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Meridia Manifesto

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

The undersigned, university professors from different Latin American countries and participants in the First Latin American Colloquium on Interpretive Systemology carried out in M?rida Venezuela (October 1-4, 2001), consider of primal importance to let know systems thinkers in particular and the public in general, the following reflections on the current world crisis.

In the last four days, participants in the Colloquium have presented their research projects on and debated about a number of Latin American organizational and institutional problems related to: education, justice, social welfare, community organizations, poverty, technology and society, cultural diversity in peasant communities, managerial technologies and organizational phenomena.

Beyond the obvious underlying and connecting theme ?the systems approach as applied to institutional problems-another theme emerged that gathered our thought and reflections in this Colloquium. It has become clear at the end of our meetings that a crucial problem unfolded by our research is the growing devastation brought about by several anti-cultural forms that high modernity (or postmodernity) has made possible.

These anti-cultural forms -which are present in such areas as the ontological ground of technology, the media, the lack of an authentic education, organizational phenomena, neo-liberalism, and in the strong sway that the market and the instrumental rationality of our time holds over our lives- pose a serious threat to the basic cultural practices (proper of a culture in “good condition”) of nursing, raising and caring.

The violent devastation of cultural soils that we are experiencing in the present, as the result of the widespread of these anti-cultural forms, is leading to a meaningless world; a world under the serious threat of various forms of nihilism and violence; a world subjected to a deep and growing process of desolation.

A clear manifestation of this process is the response given by the governments of so called “developed world”, led by the United States, to the tragic events that took place in New York and Washington last September 11.

In this context, and bearing in mind the anti-cultural phenomena previously mentioned, the undersigned systems thinkers want to make public the following manifesto:
The Merida Manifesto

1. We add our name to the large list of peoples that condemn the terrorist attack which regrettably took the lives of thousands of human beings last September 11. It is a defining feature of our humanity to be able to empathize with other fellow humans (i.e. to have the ability to put oneself in the position of other human being) and thus experience something close to the grief and sorrow they may be undergoing in the United States. Nonetheless, we must also add our name to two other lists. These, unlike the first are, perhaps, much shorter.

2. We join the short list of those who clearly and strongly condemn the international behaviour of the United States government and other imperialist states in the last century and the beginnings of the twenty first. As a matter of fact, such unjustified behaviour has been, directly or indirectly, the cause of the death of millions of children and innocent people in general. We do not have to go too far in this history of State violence to see its real proportions. Just recall the criminal behaviour of the United States government at the end of the Second World War when the murder of hundreds of thousands of people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima was perpetrated. Examples of similar behaviour in Latin America abound. We recall for instance the death of more than seven thousand people in Panam? as a result of the illegal military invasion carried out by the USA army to capture General Noriega, a man that had previously worked very closely with the CIA. Let us recall also the bloody dictatorships set up by the USA government in Chile and Argentina during the seventies and eighties. Another example of the criminal foreign policy of USA is the long embargo this government has led against Iraq and which has resulted in the death of more than five hundred thousand Iraqi children. These examples are but a few of the many outrages and great injustices perpetrated by the USA government around the world, the proof of which are nowadays even provided by the CIA itself! It is clear then, that such a State violence -which is conducted with the active involvement of other governments such as Britain- is breeding violence all over the world. This is not to say that we justify in any way the violent events that took place in New York and Washington last September 11. However, we equally disapprove the violent and murderous response of the USA government against the people of Afghanistan (regretfully with the support of the majority of world governments). Therefore, we must add our name to a third list.

3. This list is formed by those people who reject and condemn the brutal retaliation carried out by the USA government -joined in this irrational and inhuman task by its allies- as a response to the aforementioned events of September 11. It is brutal because it rallies a coalition of the most powerful armies of the world to bombard Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged war-torn nations of the earth. Millions of Afghans are fleeing their country at this very moment, seeking refuge and starving in the process. The response is brutal also because as one can see from declarations of the White House and other government officials, they reveal a flagrant contradiction of the most cherished principles and ideals which constitute the legitimating foundation of the power of a modern democratic State, as the governments of the USA and their allies are supposed to represent. These ideals are none other than those of justice, democracy and freedom!

According to those principles, these governments led by the USA should seek and bring to justice, to a fair trial in an international court of justice, those who committed the murderous attacks of September 11. However, in order to accomplish this task, they ought not launch a war to massacre innocent people, as they are doing it right now, and risk the lives of millions more (including those of their own people) who inevitably will be dragged into this war.

We must also denounce the unfair and quite disproportionate significance given to the terrorist attack of September 11 by comparison with many other terrorist acts carried out around the world -many of them performed by the US government. Let us imagine this attack had been launched against Bolivia, Nicaragua or Iraq rather than to the USA. It is not hard to see that the response of the developed nations and their friends would have been completely different. Another example of such unfairness is the fact that on September 11, the very same day of the terrorist attack -and something similar can be said of any other day- according to statistics offered by international organizations, thousands of children died of starvation in so called underdeveloped countries, in some cases as the direct result of economic policies enforced by the USA government through the IMF and the World Bank. Should not we regret with equal sorrow the unjustified dead of these human beings? Yet there were neither special 24 hour editions of CNN for several days lamenting this tragedy nor marches in several cities showing their solidarity with the families of the victims, much less a minute of silence in Wall Street for them. How come? Why the billions of dollars being spent in the bloody revenge of the USA government against Afghanistan and other countries are not destined to feed and take care of millions of starving children in this world? Is it not here, in such a great unbalances, the key to find a peaceful solution to world terrorism?

We hope these reflections will make clear why we add our names to three lists which most people would consider incompatible. Their common thread is their underlying notion of justice and the perhaps more and more uncommon ability nowadays to empathize with the grief and suffering of other human beings, regardless of whether they are US citizens, Colombians or Chinese, or whether they are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or simply atheists.

Jorge D?vila (Venezuela),
Jos? Daniel Cabrera (Colombia),
Rams?s Fuenmayor (Venezuela),
Lilia G?lvez (Colombia),
Eduardo Ibarra (M?xico),
Jorge Ishizawa (Per?),
Bruno Jerardino (Chile),
Edmundo Leiva (Chile),
Hern?n L?pez Garay (Venezuela),
Hugo Marroqu?n (Per?),
Alejandro Ochoa (Venezuela),
Mar?a Teresa Santander (Chile),
Ricardo Sotaquir? (Colombia),
Roldan T. Su?rez (Venezuela),
Miriam Villarreal (Venezuela).

Professors from different Latin American universities and speakers in the First Latin American Colloquium on Interpretive Systemology, M?rida, October, 2001

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail