Confessions of a Modern American Socialist

This is long, but bear with me, please. It’s a big subject and cannot be treated with sound bites or slogans, but speaks to the very core of our problems. This is something to which I’ve given a lot of thought, more so lately than ever before….
There is once more a debate, but the subject is often too vague and the voices on each side of it are, even among the unified participants within each side, confused and often angry. This is not a new debate in this country… right vs left, conservative vs liberal, but the debate too often rages around the effects rather than the cause of our differences.
Enter Bernie Sanders and the surprisingly popular, if not populist appeal of his socialist ideas…
Perhaps the debate is not about some vague idea of “Conservatism” vs “Liberalism” after all, but speaks instead to something more basic… the economic system under which we live. Perhaps the present, seemingly insoluble crisis is about the failure of an economic system that is, no matter how elegantly you describe it or bend it to heel in academic terms, based upon the base and unsympathetic nature of its driving force, greed… or avarice, if you prefer.
Perhaps, once again, as it has in the past when there is a vast, even incomprehensible inequity between the rich and the poor, the debate comes down to capitalism vs socialism.
“But hasn’t that been tried and didn’t it fail?”
“It’s been tried, Virginia, but never properly achieved. Yes, there are many nations in the world who live under systems of social democracy, but the Soviet experiment that you’re thinking of was not socialism at all, but state controlled capitalism. Social democracies, however, such as we see in the Scandinavian countries are thriving and they are only weak imitations of socialism.”
“But isn’t socialism undemocratic,, even stifling, a kind of dictatorship?”
“Absolutely not. In fact, socialism is an expansion of democracy to the point that every aspect of our lives, including in the workplace where most of us spend most of our waking moments is democratically controlled.”
“Sounds too good to be true. And if it’s so great, why aren’t more people talking about it”
“Simple answer? Socialism is inimical to capitalists and capitalists own almost everything. After World War Two, our government suppressed socialism, even to the point that espousing the idea was criminalized. People lost their jobs, in universities especially, to the point that, even now, the subject is virtually taboo on campuses in America.. Even the word, socialism, was stigmatized… a product of the Cold War.”
Socialism is possible and probable within the lifetime of any generation that loses the fear of cultural, racial, religious, and gender diversity.
With our current generation, we are very nearly there.
When people truly believe in both equality and justice, when equality is inclusive of all people, when the one criteria to fit the definition of “human” is only and merely their humanity alone, we can have a fair and equitable social and political system, one that is as purely democratic as humanly possible under a socialist system.
Is it possible today?
You tell me…
Do you make justice and equality possible?
Or is there some group that you despise?
Can you answer that honestly?
Probably not.
We who call ourselves progressive often cannot converse, much less abide in the same room as those who identify themselves as conservative. Can you look me in the eye and say that you feel equal to someone wearing a red ball cap that bears the statement “Make America Great Again”? Or do you feel that such people are flawed, sensing that your own beliefs and ideals are somehow superior?
If you want to live in a world where justice and equality are the backbone of civilization, do you mean to make it possible by including or eliminating those with whom you disagree? And just how do you plan to eliminate them from your just and equitable world?
Do you see the hypocrisy? Do you sense the self-deceit, the conflict and the inevitable injustice within the perspective of “Us” and “Them”?
Justice and equality will thrive when we begin to put aside our prejudices.
Impossible?
“Nothing is impossible, Virginia.”
“How can you possibly make it happen? Where do you even begin?”
“It starts with you.”

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http://www.dsausa.org/about_dsa

 

New Sun Rising: A charitable anthology is available from Amazon now!

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With a reasonable price of $10.05 and every cent of the profits going to the Japanese Red Cross to assist in continuing efforts at recovery following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, you cannot go wrong in purchasing this brilliant anthology.

With the inclusion of many writers and artists, a total of 60 authors from around the world, New Sun Rising is a wonderful anthology and is a perfect example of literary activism at its best.

Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/New-Sun-Rising-Stories-Japan/dp/0987138316/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353414292&sr=1-5&keywords=new+sun+rising+stories+for+japan

My own short story, On The Train to Otsu Station is included in this anthology and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Eric Hoffer Award winners posted

It’s finally posted, so I can talk about it.  My short story, Knitting the Unraveled Sleeves has been selected for an Editor’s Choice Award in the Eric Hoffer Prose Award competition and will be included in the annual anthology of short prose, Best New Writing 2013.  The book will be available in early October.

Here is the link to the announcement: http://www.hofferaward.com/HAprosewinners.html

And here is the link to order the book: http://www.hopepubs.com/pubbuy.html#BNW

I’m particularly proud of the story and very happy to see it found a proper home.

A new poem up at Tulpendiebe on tumblr

Fascinated by the decadence of pre-war Germany, a frantic epoch frought with passions of social, political and artistic focus, I wrote this poem after watching several old German films.   The poem is posted at Tulpendiebe on tumblr, a site created by Jürgen Fauth, the co-founder of the writer’s site, Fictionaut.  He has also written a novel, titled “Kino.”  My poem, titled, “I see a sea of cinema faces, black and white, black and white, black and white” is my poor attempt to capture something of the decadence and the tone of the era.  You can read it at:

http://tulpendiebe.tumblr.com/post/23918674036/i-see-a-sea-of-cinema-faces-black-and-white-black-and

The tumblr site also has a link to Fauth’s book and in Tulpindiebe, you will find an odd, curious, fascinating collection of works, prose, poems, art, photos that are marvelously tuned to the epoch and to the period in which Fauth’s novel is placed.  It’s a fascinating period.

One of the most memorable film clips from any period is the beer garden scene from Cabaret.  I could describe it, but here’s the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoaeWHwHaW0&feature=related

If you haven’t seen it, you must see it for the full impact.  It condenses the chilling emotions of the time in a way that no words could describe.

My new short story, ‘Waiting for the Wolf’ is now available in Lost In Thought: Issue 2

This remarkable magazine, LOST IN THOUGHT, is published in Canada and is a stunning mix of visual art, poetry and fiction.  One of the finest magazines I’ve ever seen, I am proud to be included in the collection.  Each illustrated story and poem pairs a writer with either a photographer or an illustrator.  The result is singularly arresting and represents a new class of magazine, one that rivals any that you’ve seen before.  

Here is the link to preview and purchase the magazine:   http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/345833