FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Do You Tell a Bolivian Indian from an Ordinary American?

 

What is the difference between an Inca Indian in Bolivia, and a middle-class wage-earner in America?

Answer: The Inca Indian knows where her or his interests lie, recognizes that the leading political parties are thieves and agents of international and domestic corporate interests out to rob them, and joins with thousands of like-minded comrades to take to the streets and drive the crooks and charlatans from power, using everything from sticks to sticks of dynamite. The American, in contrast, is easily snookered by politicians who use “wedge issues” like abortion, gay marriage, defense against “terror,” or posting of the 10 Commandments on public buildings to get her or him to vote against her or his own real interests.

Result: Bolivia has just seen a corrupt president driven from power and his would be successors deterred (so far) from replacing him, and is on the edge of a possible revolutionary transformation, all over the issue of whether the country’s sizeable natural gas reserves should be opened to plunder by international oil companies. The U.S. meanwhile, has recently opened fragile artic wilderness (and native lands) to drilling, and continues to despoil other ecologically fragile areas, particularly in coastal waters, is about to approve yet another “free trade” pact that will massively shift jobs out of the country, and is robbing workers of pension benefits while simultaneously planning the gutting of the public Social Security system–all with scarcely an organized protest from the public. Congress even passed a repeal of the estate tax, which only fell on people with assets of over $1.6 million ($3.2 for a family)! And the public cheers.

What explains this huge difference in political awareness and political action in the face of clear threats by the rich and powerful to the welfare of the majority?

I would suggest that it is the collapse of community in the U.S.

In Bolivia, as in many developing countries, the ordinary people, often without even access to televisions, have a strong sense of community. They meet routinely and naturally in social settings-street markets, plazas, churches, and at festivals-where their common experiences and concerns are discussed.

Americans are increasingly atomized and connected to each other only through the mediation of mass electronic entertainment vehicles, which convey the official version of reality. We travel to and from our places of work in isolated automobiles, from inside which we view other vehicles and their drivers primarily as obstacles and rivals whose only significance to us is that they interfere with our ability to get to our destination. At work, we operate in neofeudal settings that discourage open discourse and that punish free speech, and that have attacked and largely destroyed any sense of collective action by virtually legislating trade unions out of existence.

Meanwhile in our communities, most of us live in single-home isolation, with green barriers or even high fences separating us from our neighbors, attending churches that, while providing some limited sense of community, at the same time increasingly act more to divide us–one church from the other (or from non-churchgoers)-than they do to unite us. In those few settings were we might be in close contact with others-at the supermarket or the gym-we plug earphones in our ears and tune in the radio or our ipods so we don’t need to relate to others except for commercial transactions.

Little wonder that we are all strangers in our own neighborhoods, and that we are all fighting–and mostly losing–our individual struggles for survival while Bolivia’s Incas are marching enmasse to defend their rights.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail