Since the first appearance of the online version of our journal in January 2000, many things have happened. Little Elián González has returned to Cuba, in the care of his father, decency having finally won the day against the hate-filled passion of the Miami opponents of the Cuban Revolution.
In Yugoslavia, following the infrastructural damages and economic penury brought about by the NATO bombings during the Kosovo war, the people mobilized for change. Even more than the enemy NATO, the people held Slobodan Milosevic particularly responsible for their predicaments. They overthrew him in October 2000, although they associated themselves in the process (at least at the level of the logistical help the opposition received from the Americans during the presidential elections) with the very forces which had contributed to the gradual destruction of the Yugoslav Federal State.
In Palestine, a new Intifada has erupted following years of deception nourished by the Oslo accords. In Jerusalem on 28 September 2000, escorted by more than a thousand of heavily armed policemen, Ariel Sharon found it politically profitable to violate one of the most sacred of the Palestinian’s holy sites; thus inciting the anger of the Palestinians. Far from condemning Sharon as an irresponsible warmonger, the Labor Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, played instead the nationalist card and ordered his army and police to shoot at Palestinian demonstrators. This provocation has so far cost the lives of hundreds of people, including children, teenagers and old people.
Naturally, the violence has been used by both sides, the Palestinians attacking as they see fit, including civilians, generally with rocks, sometimes with bombs or machine-guns. Still this “war” is an unequal one: a powerful occupying army against an occupied nation; roughly for each ten Israelis killed, one hundred Palestinian counterparts. Not including, for the occupied Palestinians, other “collateral consequences” like forced unemployment or illness.
It was bad enough to see Israel launch another war against the Palestinians, but seeing Ariel Sharon not only elected prime minister of Israel, but also depicted as a respectable “Statesman” for his overtures to the Labor party, is frankly disgusting; for us it is the lowest of perfidies.
In the US, following the initial confusion over the identity of the winner of the presidential elections of 2000, George W. Bush was finally declared president due to the Federal Supreme Court decision to annul the recount order given by the Florida Supreme Court. Many people saw in that decision a real coup d’Etat à l’américaine, although camouflaged under the guise of the letter of the law.
One should say that the same anti-people logic, which established the Electoral College institution, in the first place (essentially as a shield against an anticipated popular dissent) eventually got the upper hand. Despite Al Gore’s majority in the popular vote nationally, and possibly in the Electoral College as well if all voters who voted for him in Florida were counted, the Vice-President was at the end sacrificed by the system on the alter of its stability. And he had no choice but to accept his fate, given his loyalty to the system.
Indeed, shocking the established understanding and expectation of how things normally function seems to be the order of the day. Almost everywhere and in every thing, a new paradigm is taking shape where the dual transposition of what is real or simulated, actual or virtual, imaged or authenticated is repeated endlessly until it becomes a kind of new natural law.
Aristide has been reelected president of Haiti after five years of “warming the presidential chair” by René Préval, the outgoing president. Far from helping defuse the crisis as some expected, the municipal and legislative elections of May 2000 had worsened it, the opposition (a mosaic of antagonistic political tendencies) accusing Aristide’s party of plotting a new dictatorship, amidst allegations of electoral fraud committed by the Lavalas party during the elections. Still it was bizarre seeing the word “dictator” attached to the name of Aristide, the former priest of “deliverance parole” from the Saint Jean Bosco Church. [Read Tontongi’s article on the Haitian conjuncture—in French].
Although the Haitian people want a solution of the crisis based on the priority of saving the country from the abyss, it was rather discomforting to see the name Marc Bazin among the members of the new Aristide government. Looking at it deeper, in light of Aristide’s past flirtations with the imperialists of Washington during the Clinton Administration, it was somewhat logical to see him in tandem with the duvalieristo-liberal bourgeoisie of which Bazin is the most eloquent representative. Still, denouncing Aristide as the Devil himself, as his rightist opposition has done, is very disingenuous.
Back in the USA, Jesse Jackson, the disciple of Martin Luther King who devoted his entire teenage and adult life to the cause of American civil rights, has today been “exposed” by the US media as a libertinal animal that has copulated with a female and bred an offspring outside the commandment of marriage. Some would probably ask, Of what crime has he been found guilty? In any case, the charm was broken, as they say in French: The reverend reveals himself to be just a man, a man with perhaps an empathic political consciousness, but still a man with an active libido. Naturally, the poor people from the ghettoes couldn’t care less, in fact they saw in the whole thing the hand of the enemy…
In truth, there is nothing new under the sun. The alterity between the noble and the ignoble, more precisely the change from the hero to the anti-hero has existed since the beginning of the polis in human society. The overnight dismantlement of Stalin by Kruschev in 1956 was a famed example. Later, Mikhail Gorbatchev, once celebrated as champion of the Socialist Enlightenment, has radically changed to being the grave-digger of not only an obsolete political system, as its enemies wanted, but of the soviet’s ideal of being itself, which not totally a bad thing. Gorby has finally become a rootless man.
Our magazine aims to be the voice of the beautiful and the daring, questioning everything, including all supreme beings and the official truths. In our pages poetry will continue to flourish with altogether its cries, tears rage, beauty, laughter and the hope of living in a liberated land.
—Tanbou March 2001