Oct 102016

Written in 1898:

I thought, on the contrary, that a revolutionary paper must be, above all, a record of those symptoms which everywhere announce the coming of a new era, the germination of new forms of social life, the growing revolt against antiquated institutions.  These symptoms should be watched, brought together in their intimate connection, and so grouped as to show to the hesitating minds of the greater number the invisible and often unconscious support which advanced ideas find everywhere, when a revival of thought takes place in society.  To make one feel sympathy with the throbbing of the human heart all over the world, with its revolt against age-long injustice, with its attempts at working out new forms of life,– this should be the chief duty of a revolutionary paper. It is hope, not despair, which makes successful revolutions.” 

            from MEMOIRS OF A REVOLUTIONIST by Peter Kropotkin  (Russia)     From the posting:    2005  . . .  Successful Revolutions


As I survey the landscape of the empire, I see symptoms that should be watched and brought together in their intimate connection to the work by people around the world, for the rescue of just society.

Their intimate connection?   in this time of a revival of thought?

Their stories help shed the propaganda that has shaped our nations,  the myths of the clans or tribes to which we “belong”.   We open ourselves to discovering the path forward. 


I express my gratitude by passing along the work of  3  players in the drama, concluding with the Trump-Clinton duo, their unwitting contribution to the Successful  Revolution.   5 players altogether.


 1.     Viet Thanh Nguyen

(Do a web search.   You will be blown away by what Viet Thanh Nguyen has accomplished  – – a major contributor to the Good of the World.)

2016-10-02 Excerpt from interview with winner of 2016 Pulitzer Prize,  Vietnamese-American author  Viet Thanh Nguyen. his book “The Sympathizer”.

The following is excerpted from the preceding link.   If you have time,  listen to the interview.  Viet Thanh Nguyen’s family became refugees when Saigon fell.   From a young age he lived in the U.S.   He is not without memories of the carnage which in the interview is condensed to   all the stories and  emotions and subjectivities that I was witness to as a kid among the Vietnamese people . . . 

. . .    I also took from it that there was no place in this American imagination, this American memory and history for Vietnamese people like me.  Or that our place was a very problematic place.   It was to be killed or silenced or victimized but in any role we were there simply as a backdrop for an American drama.  This was a very difficult thing to deal with because obviously growing up in a Vietnamese community we were not the backdrop of our own lives.   The war was central to us.

I always knew that this was actually also a crucially important war for us and that all the stories and  emotions and subjectivities that I was witness to as a kid among the Vietnamese people were not being heard or seen or understood by the larger American community.   And how Americans saw this war was also in many ways how the world was seeing it because of the power of American culture and the way that American stories were disseminated because of that power.

Wachtel (interviewer):   Yes because unusually as you point out, here history was written by the losers.

Viet Thanh Nguyen:    Yeah, this is one of the ironies.  I think it has to do with the unique nature of the United States and the wars that it has been fighting since WW2 or the Korean War.

Basically the U.S. is a global power after WW2 and it’s fighting all these wars.   It hasn’t won a war since WW2.

Korean War was a stalemate.

Vietnam war was a defeat.

Every major war since then can hardly be declared as a victory.

What this means is that even if the U.S. doesn’t win wars  its global power, its military power, combined with its economic power and its soft power through Hollywood and the public culture industry means that it can tell its own stories in its own ways and spread them all over the world and everybody all over the world has to confront them because that’s how pervasive American culture is.

Wachtel:  even the naming of the war.   To North Americans it’s called the Vietnam war but in Vietnam it’s often referred to as the American war and you say that both are in fact misnomers.   . . .  (more at  interview, winner of 2016 Pulitzer Prize, Viet Thanh Nguyen.)


Viet Thanh Nguyen tells us important truths about the wars and landscape of the empire.  We cannot stop the mindless death and destruction if our minds are clouded by pervasive myths and propaganda. 

From Walden Bello,  Revisiting the Battle of Seattle (Item #2 below), 

Seattle was what Hegel called a “world-historic event.”   Its enduring lesson is that truth is not just out there, existing objectively and eternally.  Truth is completed, made real, and ratified by action.

Thank-you,  Viet Thanh Nguyen, for helping to complete the truth, make it real and publish it.

I will use your work in the actions to reclaim Mother’s Day, as it was originally intended,  before it was appropriated by commercial interests  – –  a movement to stop the killing of our children.     (2007-05-14 Origin of Mother’s Day, 1870  &   Jezile, Son of Man)

2.   Walden Bello

See   2016-08-25 Revisiting the lessons of the Battle of Seattle and its aftermath, by Walden Bello.   

As mentioned under #1,  Bello tells us that truth is created – – ratified by action.   It seems evident to me that more and more people are truth-telling, whether it be about the absurdities of our economic system, failing regulatory systems, corruption in many quarters,  our role in war (we aren’t saintly peace-keepers or deliverers of democracy)  . . . invisible and often unconscious support  for the successful revolution.  

3.    Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart, author Chinua Achebe. Insights re violence in our communities.  

From the Continent of Africa.   Here’s the thing:  Chinua Achebe  (deceased in 2013)  may be invisible to many of us because he’s African.  But he is widely known internationally.   Africa struggles, but there are large numbers of empowered people because of his work.  We are strongly bonded through Chinua Achebe who offers us the same gifts.

 I selected two points made by him in a 2008 BBC interview.   If memory serves correctly, he talks about denial at one point.   I wonder about our denial, whether about what Viet Thanh Nguyen offers us, or about this from Chinua Achebe:

. . .  actually the story of Okonkwo (Things Fall Apart) is almost like a parallel story to the story of his community.    His community is not very gentle in its behaviour.  The cruelty that we see in Okonkwo is actually a reflection of cruelty in the society itself.    The crimes Okonkwo commits, in the sort of cosmic sense, the crime against women – –  in a way his community is also guilty of this.  It’s not  a question of which one was it that caused the falling apart.  It’s this complex of events.  And then you add onto it the invasion of the community by Europe.  So it’s when you put all this together that you say, this is why things fall apart   . . .

(Viet Thanh Nguyen of a later generation might have said “add onto it the invasion of the community by Europe and then by violent U.S. culture”.

From the Q & A:

QUESTION:   In the final chapter – –  lamenting the plight of the people,  said that things were falling apart because people were turning away from the old ways and were readily accepting the ways of the missionaries.  You recently mentioned that you couldn’t return to Nigeria  because things were getting worse and worse.  And I just wanted to know what you attribute as the reason for things falling apart in present-day Nigeria?

ANSWER:   My analysis is that it’s bad leadership.    By leadership I don’t mean just one person, the president or the prime-minister, but I mean a whole class of leaders,  leaders in different spheres who have fallen short of their responsibility.   If you look at what is going on now in Nigeria I sometimes wonder   Where are the people?  I mean educated people.  Nigeria has the resources, human and material,  to a degree that would make many, many countries envious  and yet   why are they allowing themselves to be bullied,  to be  bullied by one dictator or a bunch of dictators?   I don’t know   I think we have not got it right.

More at   Things Fall Apart.  

4.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton


In the context of unconscious support for successful revolution, who better than presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?   In last night’s debate (2016-10-09)  Trump called out the truth on Clinton and in some instances on himself.  (Example:  loopholes that allow the wealthy, including himself, to not pay income tax.  The laws aren’t changed because the wealthy fund Hillary.  He is an indirect beneficiary.) 

The PBS programme Frontline aired the documentary film  The Choice 2016. 

FRONTLINE goes behind the headlines to investigate what has shaped Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — where they came from, how they lead . . .

Clinton and Trump emerge as powerful Metaphors for what America has become (violent – the dropping of bombs on Libya is Hillary’s doing; a system of political economy in shambles; the subversion of values and the duping by false “celebrity” status).   I thank them for their contributions to the truth-telling work of Viet Thanh Nguyen, Chinua Achebe, Walden Bello and others.

I think  The Choice 2016  is well-done, worth your time to watch.  It discloses information about Trump that is additional disturbance to what I knew (not a lot!  I don’t watch much TV).

To me, Hillary Rodham Clinton has become one of those tragic figures in history.   She started from a place of good intent.  In the end she has been devoured by the events along her path, by her ambition, and by the system.  Most awful is her gleeful reaction, on camera, to the dropping of the bombs on Libya which she orchestrated.   It is clear that Obama bowed to her advice (in her role of Secretary of State) to carry out the bombing.  Power run amok.   Things Fall Apart.

The particular duo slugging it out for the presidency, Trump and Clinton,  are airing the truth about the empire.   People won’t put up with it.  Or, at least they should not.

For the record of those symptoms which everywhere announce the coming of a new era.   /Sandra

– – – – – – – – – – – –

P.S.   As pointed out in the Comments below (thank-you!),  The Choice is not limited to Clinton or Trump.    See  Ralph Nader CBC interview. On ethics of voting for third-party candidate, if polls show Donald Trump might win. Well done!

  4 Responses to “2016-10-05 Surveying the landscape of the empire”

  1. From: Susan
    Sent: October 10, 2016 10:31 PM

    Subject: Re: Surveying the landscape of the empire

    Hello Sandra, thank you for your insights and contributions. Perhaps it is just a whimsy but people forget that other parties are running candidates in the US election, one of which is Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and Johnson of the Libertarian….why do people think they only have the choice of the less of two evils and still vote evil? Social Media could push the Green Party forward if anyone is paying attention and not dumbed down by the DemoRepub debates.

    • From: Sandra
      Sent: October 10, 2016 10:54 PM

      Excellent point Susan.

      Your email caused me to wonder – – I thought I had posted a very good interview with Ralph Nader that addresses that very point. Turns out I had left it in “draft” form, not actually “published”. It is now – – http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=17532

      Thanks for the unintended reminder!!

      • From: Susan
        Sent: October 10, 2016 10:58 PM

        “Breaking through power, it is easier than it looks, ” sounds like a good book and a possible slogan for the upcoming election, I would vote Green for sure. thanks for the article

  2. Hi Sandra:

    What a Great solution, for the US election VOTE GREEN Party. I never thought of this and maybe others haven`t also. How do we get this grand idea out to the US voters?Well we could start with social media! Let`s get started Evie

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>