La narrativa de Teresa Porzecanski
Una conversación con la escritora uruguaya.
Teresa Porzecanski (Montevideo, 1945) es escritora, crítica cultural y profesora de antropología de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de Montevideo. Ha publicado ensayos, poesía, colecciones de cuentos y novelas. Entre sus obras, todas ellas publicadas en Montevideo, se destacan: El acertijo y otros cuentos (Arca, 1967); Intacto el corazón (Banda Oriental, 1976); Construcciones (Arca, 1979); Invención de los soles (MZ,1982;); Ciudad impune (Monte Sexto,1986); La respiración es una fragua (Trilce, 1989) y Mesías en Montevideo (Signos, 1989); Perfumes de Cartago (Trilce,1994); La piel del alma (Seix Barral, 1996); Una novela erótica (Planeta, 2000). La entrevista tuvo lugar en su casa en Montevideo, el 12 de octubre del 2000.
MF: No voy a hacerte preguntas sobre cuándo empezaste a escribir, quiénes fueron los autores que más te influyeron, ni cómo nacen tus relatos, pues ya las has contestado en varias entrevistas publicadas. Quisiera hacerte preguntas más específicas sobre tus obras. Empecemos hablando sobre en qué circunstancias escribiste Ciudad impune y Mesías en Montevideo.
TP: Ciudad impune fueron cuentos que fui escribiendo desde el ‘76 al ‘86. Mesías en Montevideo salió en el ‘89, pero fue escrito bajo la dictadura a partir del ‘75. Yo escribía con una sensación de asfixia, con un tema de problematización del lenguaje, con los cuestionamientos inherentes a los alcances del lenguajes y cuáles son las posiblidades de la escritura. La otra problemática era en qué medida el lenguaje usado por el público, la prensa y los medios masivos sufría un desgaste que lo vaciaba de significados. Un poco ese es el ambiente de ambas obras.
MF: Mencionaste la dictadura que tú pasaste en el Uruguay, ¿cómo influyó ésta en tu escritura?
TP: Influyó bastante porque yo estaba en un momento de descubrir un estilo de escritura y no se podían hacer reuniones culturales, uno trabajaba solo. Entonces fue que empecé a problematizar el tema del lenguaje. No quería escribir consignas, quería escribir una literatura más compleja. Todo lo que está en Construcciones fue escrito durante la dictadura o en los años un poco anteriores. Son cuentos sumamente simbólicos, metafóricos, donde se va gestando toda una forma de escribir. No quiere decir que yo me limite ahora en el año 2000 a ese tipo de escritura, la he ido decantando. Sigue siendo una escritura barroca pero más lenta y más filtrada.
MF: ¿Qué significan los títulos de esas dos obras?
TP: En Ciudad impune hay un cuento que me inspiró el título. En éste una mujer es perseguida, encerrada y se enfrenta con el mal. Creo que lo de “impune” tiene que ver con esa sensación de que no eran castigados los delitos. No me refiero sólo al delito político, sino que al delito en general y a las transgresiones. Mesías en Montevideo tiene una relación con los ideales “mesiánicos” de la generación de los ‘60 en el Uruguay. Es decir, con esa idea de transformación demasiado abstracta y poco centrada en la realidad, no teniendo en cuenta los puntos de vista múltiples y los detalles del estilo de vida de la gente real.
MF: ¿Cuando mencionas “ideales mesiánicos” te refieres a la utopía?
TP: Sí, la utopía.
MF: ¿Por qué el ambiente montevideano en tus obras es tan sórdido, centrado en conventillos, pensiones, sótanos en subsuelos poblados de personajes que enfrentan la violencia y la muerte? ¿Hay un intento de reivindicación de estos espacios y personajes?
TP: Hay un intento de darle voz a lo que está en un segundo plano, o sea a personajes que no son protagonistas, que no tienen en sí mismos nada atractivo pero que sobreviven en una ciudad y la recorren en una manera que pasa desapercibida. Además estos personajes tienen sus historias insignificantes en el sentido tradicional pero que a mí como escritora me resultan interesantes y me importa hacerlas visibles.
MF: Me recuerda mucho a (Juan Carlos) Onetti.
TP: Sería una versión femenina a pesar de que yo lo que encuentro en Onetti es un tono general totalmente deprimido. Creo que en mis cuentos hay tristezas, descubrimientos, revelaciones pero que hay también cierta preocupación de esos personajes por recuperar sus identidades, lo cual es un signo positivo de autovaloración.
MF: Estas novelas tienen estructuras fragmentadas y presentan historias alternantes. ¿Por qué elegiste darnos esta perspectiva?
TP: Son varias historias que se alternan y van constituyendo mundos casi autónomos. No puedo construir una novela con una sola historia porque la vida de una persona, si bien puede hacerse más densa, dejaría de interesar cuando está centrada en una o dos peripecias solamente. Se trata de una técnica de construcción de una novela que respeta las intersecciones y cruces de lo que ocurre en diversas historias.
MF: A esta estructura le corresponde una representación fragmentada y oblicua de la realidad y del papel de los personajes en esta realidad. ¿Por qué elegiste esta perspectiva?
TP: Sí, es verdad. Hay una representación fragmentada porque eso es lo que uno puede percibir de los personajes. Es necesario respetar partes siempre invisibles que permanecen dentro de una gran interrogante. No trato de escribir una novela psicológica que desentrañe todos los engranajes y motivos por los que las personas actúan, sino que presento lo que yo pueda percibir permitiendo una parte oculta para que el lector disponga de un espacio para su imaginación. Porque si la narración tuviera en cuenta todo lo que pasa y una continuidad y completud total, el lector vería reducidos sus espacios de interpretación. Nada podría imaginar que no estuviera determinado por la escritura. Lo que yo hago es invitar al lector a escribir mentalmente la historia junto a mí. Creo que cuando se termina de leer cualquiera de mis novelas, el lector duda respecto de lo que pasó realmente, porque lo que pasó dependía de su interpretación. No hay una resolución clara y visible. Entonces aparecen esas estructuras fragmentadas. Porque lo que percibimos de la realidad no viene compaginado. La construccción del significado la hacemos como lectores.
MF: En tu narrativa la fantasía se apropia de la realidad y la transforma. ¿Cómo se estructura la relación entre la realidad y la fantasía y qué función tiene?
TP: En mi escritura, sin habérmelo yo propuesto deliberadamente, resulta que hay algunos momentos de iluminación pero son siempre parciales, son siempre perspectivas. Usar la palabra realismo me parece demasiado fuerte para cualquier tipo de literatura, incluso para aquélla que se ha considerado tradicionalmente literatura “realista.” En mi escritura prevalece una confusión permanente del mundo subjetivo con el “objetivo.” Es decir que la narración pasa a describir los mundos desde diversas perspectivas que se van mezclando. La fantasía en el canon tradicional sería esa parte de la imaginación que no tiene referentes en una realidad consensuada por el grupo social. Pero hay una imaginación colectiva también. Si yo cuento una historia como la que aparece en La piel del alma, en que había un fantasma que aparece en una pensión y todos lo confirman, no se puede hablar de fantasía pues para esos personajes, lo que vieron es ciertamente “real.”
MF: A partir de Mesías en Montevideo el recurso de la genealogía es una constante. ¿Por qué se la usa como obsesión central de los personajes y como eje estructural de las obras?
TP: Primero tomo el tema de la familia en Invención de los soles (1982). Tomo la familia porque me da una perspectiva en el tiempo que me permite entretejer historias. Hay otros escritores que para entretejer historias toman un espacio y no un tiempo. Ese lugar puede ser un hotel o un aeropuerto. Creo que las historias que parten de una genealogía son mucho más apasionantes, ya que todo lo que sea raíces, conexiones, identificaciones y traslocaciones en el tiempo me interesa como material literario.
MF: En Mesías en Montevideo se introduce lo mesiánico que pasa a ser una constante en tu obra. ¿Qué representa lo mesiánico?
TP: Significa el deseo de la imaginación vinculado a un propósito. Creo que el ser humano no se puede divorciar de las utopías. Quiero mostrar que mis personajes que son secundarios o terciarios, que no tienen vidas protagónicas, sin embargo también tienen sus utopías y que esas pequeñas utopías de la ensoñación y del deseo están interfiriendo en su conducta.
MF: La locura tiene un rol prominente en Mesías en Montevideo lo cual se transmuta en las obras siguientes en obsesiones que caracterizan a los personajes, ¿cuál es la función de esta característica?
TP: Es que el trasfondo de racionalidad de la civilización occidental es muy endeble. Los personajes entran y salen de una racionalidad pero no habitan en la racionalidad. Los mueven otras fuerzas que son incontrolables, son las obsesiones, la locura, los miedos, las comunicaciones con otros mundos exteriores o interiores. Aunque otros escritores toman estos elementos como elementos sui generis que pueden hacer interesante una novela, creo que ellos están en la vida misma y no son un producto de la novela en sí. Yo miro a las personas como más complejas de lo que aparecen. En esa complejidad hay varios dobleces y encuentro contradicciones entre esos dobleces. No puedo plantear personajes netamente explicables y comprensibles. Tengo esa debilidad por encontrar aquello que no está clasificado dentro de simples categorías. Inevitablemente los personajes tienen esos sesgos imprevistos, igual que las personas.
MF: Mesías en Montevideo introduce en un primer plano a la mujer, la preñez, el parir, los cuales toman una función central en tus obras. ¿Qué sentido tiene que la mujer y su cuerpo se vuelvan la imagen central y final de tus obras?
TP: Cuando empecé a escribir poesía había un movimiento feminista pero las mujeres poetas no tocaban temas como la menstruación o el embarazo. En Intacto el corazón, mi único libro de poemas, escribí un poema que tenía que ver con los hijos que no nacieron. Después de eso empecé en una manera solitaria a escribir sobre estos temas—sangre, menstruación, embarazo– y hubo mujeres que señalaron que eso a nadie le importaba. A medida que inventaba más personajes, yo sentía que tenían que estar esos elementos y no podría explicar por qué empecé a desarrollarlos. Nadie escribía entonces sobre la corporalidad de la mujer, cómo tenía sus hijos, si la madre disfrutaba o no teniendo un hijo y había todos esos estereotipos que afirmaban que la maternidad era algo que enriquecía a la mujer, lo más importante de su vida. No sólo destruía todo lo que había sido lugar común sino que describía su antítesis y una manera de ser que era diferente a la manera de ser masculina. No era una posición a tener para una escritora que recién empezaba a escribir en el Uruguay.
MF: ¿Y está relacionado este tema de la preñez, el parir y las funciones biológicas con la creación literaria?
TP: Está relacionado porque creo que allí había una confluencia porque yo me planteaba una problematización del lenguaje, que era la problematización de la creación en un mundo donde ya todo estaba creado, donde las posibilidades de hacer algo muy original son realmente muy pocas y eso yo lo planteaba con un paralelismo (en Una novela erótica) con la fertilidad biológica. Me preguntaba si la fertilidad biológica era una rutina que al haber sido rutina por tantos millones de años, ya se volvía automática.
MF: ¿Qué influencia has recibido de las teorías feministas francesas y su énfasis en el cuerpo?
TP: Las leí en los años ’86 u ’87. Incluso en algunas conferencias que di usé textos de Luce Irigaray. Más que un femenismo abstracto, me interesa un feminismo más centrado en la corporalidad, en aceptar el envejecimiento, amar el propio cuerpo. Me interesa estudiar la tensión con la imagen del cuerpo femenino labrada por la publicidad. El tema del cuerpo para mí primero significaba lo biológico, después empezó a significar lo sensual y después la problemática básica de ser mujer pues no es una problemática abstracta, está relacionada con la materia y con las exigencias de lo social sobre el cuerpo femenino que son múltiples y mucho más intensas y opresivas que las que hay sobre el cuerpo masculino.
MF: ¿Cómo fueron recibidos por la crítica y los lectores estas obras que tratan de la muerte, la tortura y los desaparecidos evocando un pasado reciente muy real?
TP: Esos temas no los trato sino de modo tangencial. Por ejemplo en Una novela erótica y en algunos cuentos en la Ciudad impune aparece, pero de manera tangencial. Son siempre alusiones indirectas. Nunca pude escribir sobre el tema de la realidad directamente porque me parece que la literatura es la antítesis de la prensa. En cuanto a cómo fueron recibidas por el público, no hubo particulares comentarios. Una novela erótica fue escrita bajo la dictadura, pero en general los críticos la ven como novela que va más allá de esa circunstancia y la toman como abocada a problemas más amplios. No se me ve como una escritora que haya escrito el análisis literario de la dictadura.
MF: ¿Se te ha criticado por la visión que presentas de los guerrilleros como Caínes que matan en nombre de una causa?
TP: Nunca nadie me ha dicho nada al respecto. Pero además hay también varias líneas ideológicas críticas de la guerrilla y sus estrategias dentro de los círculos intelectuales y universitarios.
MF: ¿Por qué utilizas la intertextualidad dentro de tu obra?
TP: A mí no se me agotan los personajes dentro de una novela, por eso tengo que volver a ellos de una manera referencial ya que no los puedo tomar como protagonistas nuevamente, pero hay cosas que no se terminaron de contar de estos personajes y siguen estando ahí. Hay partes citadas de mis libros anteriores que considero que vinculan todos los libros entre sí. En mi reflexión como escritora problematizo el lenguaje y a través de esto problematizo toda una serie de cosas conectadas con el lenguaje. Entonces necesariamente de un libro al otro hay miradas a veces irónicas mías sobre lo que escribí anteriormente porque era otra etapa de la vida que significaba otras cosas, porque pensé que eran trascendentes y luego se volvieron banales para mí. Incluso hay partes de poemas que escribí en Intacto el corazón que están puestos como prosa en otros libros. La razón es que no puedo construir un libro de cero sino como continuidad de las miradas que ya elaboré y dejé atrás, a veces para deshacerlas y a veces para rehacerlas.
MF: ¿Y la intertextualidad en cuanto a obras de otros autores es un homenaje?
TP: Sí, homenaje a alguna iluminación que tiene que mantener su expresión tal como se escribió por el autor.
MF: Me fascinan tus títulos. ¿Podrías explicarme cómo escoges los títulos de tus obras?
TP: Le busco la sonoridad a la escritura, tanto en el texto como en el título. Además los títulos son generalmente tomados de una porción del texto. Ahora estoy buscándole un título a una novela que estoy escribiendo.
MF: ¿De qué se trata la novela?
TP: Es una novela que ocurre en Montevideo, en los años ‘50, con personajes fuertes de mujeres y algunos personajes masculinos, que tiene inspiración en mi adolescencia.
MF: Pasemos a Perfumes de Cartago (1993). ¿Por qué se trata la dictadura en términos metafóricos/intertextuales?
TP: Me fastidia mucho la escritura lineal, explícita y explicativa y a mí no me interesa hacer una literatura explícita, ni política. Además, al lector hay que acercarles imágenes sugerentes para que sueñe su novela.
MF: Los personajes masculinos con características tradicionales de ambos géneros (como Cusiel en Mesías en Montevideo) son constantes en tu obra. Sin embargo, el personaje de Jeremías Berro resulta ambiguo al combinar características machistas con un lado femenino sensible e idealista al punto que desubica al lector. ¿Por qué le diste estos rasgos?
TP: Depende de dónde se sitúa el lector, porque el personaje de Jeremías es radical también. Sus odios y sus amores son totales. Es una personalidad compleja. Lo bueno es que no se puede llegar a odiarlo del todo y tampoco se puede decir “qué hombre bueno.” Es una virtud construir un personaje frente al que uno se quede con las dudas.
MF: El recurso de la genealogía sufre un cambio al final de la novela. La destrucción de la casa familiar y el hecho que Lunita Mualdeb, la narradora, tire la llave al mar es una ruptura con el pasado familiar descrito en las páginas de la novela. ¿Se trata de una metáfora en cuanto a un pasado irreconocible del país? De lo contrario, ¿por qué no podrían coexistir el pasado familiar y el presente de Lunita?
TP: Lo que coexiste es el recuerdo pero no el pasado, porque éste terminó. Las cosas que se narran son definitivas, esas cosas milagrosas que ocurrieron no podrán volver a ocurrir. La idea de que hay una única vez para las cosas es lo que me interesa y de ahí viene el sufrimiento universal del ser humano. Las cosas no se repiten por más que uno pueda volver a su recuerdo y hacer de su recuerdo algo útil en el presente. La novela gana en ese lado trágico que es un cierto grado de fatalidad de las cosas. Fueron de un cierto modo y esto no se puede cambiar. Pero dejaron una secuencia de riquezas, un deseo de disfrutar de la vida o una sensación de vínculo. Las cosas y personas perdidas, se perdieron—esto es una comprobación de la novela—y al final Lunita sabe que se perdió ese mundo. No sólo lo perdió el personaje sino que también el lector que perdió su propio pasado visto desde la perspectiva de Lunita. Son novelas de pérdida porque la literatura nace del sufrimiento. Quizás se pueda escribir una novela de celebración. Creo que hay pasajes en mi novela que son de celebración, como cuando Jasibe cocina o come. Pero también tanto la celebración como la tragedia son definitivas e irreversibles.
MF:¿Por qué aparece un Mesías ensoñado (por la supuesta preñez de la criada negra, Angela Tejera, a partir de un sueño con Carlos Gardel)?
TP: Todo el cristianismo habla de la preñez de la virgen, que fue una preñez del mismo estilo. Angela Tejera podría ser una virgen negra. Tal vez lo que soñamos nos preña. Lo que soñamos, sea cual fuere ese sueño o esa obsesión, nos deja prennados. El sujeto obsesivo está preñado por su obsesión.
MF: ¿Y por qué se utiliza el personaje ensoñado de Carlos Gardel?
TP: Es el prototipo de una cosa amada en el Uruguay. Representa todo aquello de un juglar que le canta a la mujer, que adora a la mujer, que es buen mozo, que es un hombre no agresivo, ni un dictador, no es un marido, ni un amante, no es un padre tampoco. No tiene todas esas connotaciones que crean problemática ya de por sí.
MF: ¿Cómo surgió la idea del argumento de La piel del alma?
TP: Es la recreación del ambiente de Toledo en el Medioevo y yo quería mostrar un momento de tragedia. Me serví de la historia para mostrar que los sueños no cumplidos pueden cumplirse en otro lugar y en otro tiempo. Un amigo antropólogo brasileño me mandó tres cartas, en español antiguo, que encontró en un viaje de investigación a España. Habían sido escritas por una mujer judía que había vivido en España en 1460 que terminó su vida en un convento, y que había escrito las cartas a un cristiano apóstata, llamado Carlos, que murió de hambre en una ciudad del sur sitiada por los moros. Después de leer las cartas tuve la sensación de que yo realmente la conocía y su contenido me rondaba. En ese momento yo estaba escribiendo esa novela situada en Montevideo hasta que me di cuenta que la historia que estaba escribiendo y la que tenía en la cabeza estaban conectadas. Así surgió la idea y yo escribí esa otra historia inspirada en esas cartas, que quizás nunca hubieron visto la luz si yo no la hubiera escrito. Con la ayuda de la beca Guggenheim estudié la historia del Toledo medieval, desde cómo se vestían hasta cómo parían los bebés, y tuve a mi disposición mucho material histórico de los archivos.
MF: ¿Es Faribe Azulay la Mesías que posee el misterio de la vida y la muerte como lo expresa su amado?
TP: Ese personaje me da esa posibilidad de una utopía en una mujer fracasada, imposibilitada de tomar vuelo.
MF: En esta novela se usa un lenguaje sumamente elaborado y difícil para el lector promedio, en cuanto es una recreación del español sefaradí con su vocabulario antiguo de influencia árabe. Este contrasta con el lunfardo montevideano de algunos personajes. ¿Cómo decidiste usar esta mezcla de lenguajes y qué tuviste que hacer para lograrlo?
TP: El español antiguo proviene de un estudio que hice que me llevó bastante tiempo.Tuve que leer la correspondencia que tenía y mucha más para poder escribir así. La novela me dio un enorme trabajo. Por ejemplo, toda la parte del naufragio del barco fue el resultado de un gran esfuerzo pues tuve que aprender sobre tipos de barcos, sus partes, tipos de navegación y vientos. Pasaba meses estudiando para escribir una página. Consulté a gente que sabe de navegación hasta que no encontraron ningún defecto en mis descripciones. La historia se hubiera podido contar de un modo mucho más general sin entrar en detalles, pero yo necesito de un lenguaje barroco y como lo más importante para mí son los adjetivos y adverbios, sin ellos no puedo escribir.
MF: El marco de Perfumes de Cartago es el carnaval y el de La piel del alma es el Campeonato Mundial de Fútbol. ¿Qué sentido tienen estos marcos que quiebran la rutina y las convenciones sociales?
TP: Son fiestas canónicas del Uruguay. Describo lugares comunes de una manera diferente a cómo fueron canonizados. Yo no hablo del Mundial de Fútbol, sólo escribo el discurso en la voz del relator y cómo se escuchaba por la radio. Eso me ayuda a descanonizar una cosa que está estereotipada por la sociedad, puesta como un mito. Puedo hacer de eso un nuevo material literario.
MF: La piel del alma se desarrolla como una novela policial con su final sorpresivo.
TP: Sí, tiene la estructura de una novela policial porque yo pienso que el género que más le intriga al lector es la novela policial o de terror. Yo tomo la estructura de un género y lo aplico a otro, lo transformo, lo armonizo con una historia que no es policial. La gente entra en la historia porque cree que se trata de una novela policial. En realidad hay también hay un misterio de tipo filosófico más profundo, entonces es también una novela de misterio.
MF: ¿Y qué pasó? ¿Por qué se suicidó la modista que se creía ser víctima de un homicidio? Se plantean varias posibilidades: a) porque la dejó su amante luego de robarle; b) porque ya había alcanzado la felicidad y ahora sólo le queda la soledad y la muerte de las ilusiones; c) porque lo hace a instancias de su “doble” el fantasma de Faride Azulay.
TP: Hay varios finales: el viejo voyeur que mira tiene su versión, lo que se sospecha, lo que pudo haber pasado pero no pasó. Vuelvo a aquello de no explicitar como la condición esencial de la escritura metafórica. No es una novela rosa, ni policial; es una obra literaria.
MF: ¿Cuál es tu novela de más éxito de público?
TP: Perfumes de Cartago porque tiene una historia, ocurre en el Uruguay y le trae recuerdos al lector común. Los que prefieren La piel del alma están interesados en el Renacimiento. Invención de los soles también gustó mucho, sobre todo a los especialistas, profesores y críticos.
MF: Voy a pasar a preguntas más generales sobre tus proyectos literarios y el papel del escritor en la sociedad. Ya me adelantaste algo sobre la novela que estás escribiendo. ¿Qué otros planes literarios tienes para el futuro inmediato?
TP: Parecería que cuentos ya no voy a escribir aunque empecé siendo una escritora de cuentos. Pero ahora me doy cuenta de que el cuento me es insuficiente y que necesito estructuras más amplias, que tengo que poder usar una estructura arborescente que no se cierre como en el cuento. No tengo un plan pues para mí la escritura no es una profesión ya que empezó siendo un hobby.
MF: ¿En tu opinión, qué escritores jóvenes uruguayos constituyen una promesa para el futuro?
TP: Escritores jóvenes como Fernando Buttazoni, Silvia Guerra, Tatiana Oroño, Melba Guariglia.
MF: ¿Es fácil publicar en el Uruguay?
TP: No es fácil.
MF: ¿Cuál es tu papel o responsabilidad como escritora frente a la sociedad?
TP: No asumo el papel de la generación de los ’60 del escritor que se considera que tiene algo para revelar, algo nuevo y mejor, que va a ayudar a transformar algo. No creo que el arte por sí mismo transforme nada y soy muy escéptica con respecto a las posibilidades de la literatura compitiendo con respecto a los nuevos medios informáticos. El libro sigue siendo un artículo de consumo pero mucho menos masivo que lo que puede ser una página Web. La literatura va a seguir para que los que disfruten de la lectura, gocen de un momento de intimidad con el texto en una situación de aislamiento. No me planteo más que inspirar a un lector a hacer su propia novela a partir de mis textos. Si lo consigo ya es un objetivo suficiente.
MF: ¿El escritor tiene una responsabilidad social?
TP: Como cualquier ciudadano tiene una responsabilidad social. No me pongo en la posición de que los escritores somos vanguardia de algo, que tenemos un conocimiento que otros no tienen y que tenemos que despertarles una conciencia a otros. Creo que a los que ya tienen una conciencia las obras de arte u otros discursos los pueden inspirar. Mi responsabilidad social es actuar de manera ética, usar honestamente de los derechos y deberes disponibles para rechazar la injusticia y apoyar a los débiles en todo sentido, y mi responsabilidad como escritora es escribir bien.
MF: Te agradezco por la oportunidad de entrevistarte.
Lewis & Clark College
Espéculo. Revista de estudios literarios. Universidad Complutense de Madrid
El URL de este documento es http://www.ucm.es/info/especulo/numero/.html
A Petra Kelly la asesinaron por su creciente influencia en la opinión pública alemana y su creciente poder político
Una conferencia suya interesante a continuación
Transcripción del video y conferencia
1:17:28 – Abstract | Biography
Bill Wilkins: This lecture is the tenth in our series to honor Ava Helen Pauling and to demonstrate our commitment to peace. Our speaker tonight joins a long list of distinguished people – their names are noted in your program. Although they have come from diverse backgrounds and even different countries, they share one common goal, and that is to achieve a more peaceful world. As your program notes, that was also Ava Helen Pauling’s principle cause. At this point in the previous lectures, it has always been my pleasure to stop and to honor OSU’s most distinguished alumnus, Dr. Linus Pauling. That’s always been one of the real personal benefits to me of having the series and being associated with it. I’m sorry to report that Dr. Pauling is not with us tonight, and will not be able to join us tonight. We are, however, as you will note, videotaping this lecture a number of different places, a number of different ways, and we will be sending that video to Dr. Pauling for him to see. Would you join me, therefore – even though Dr. Pauling is not here – would you join me in giving him a standing ovation. Dr. Pauling.
Thank you so very much. I know he’ll enjoy seeing that. To introduce our speaker, it’s my pleasure to present George Keller, OSU’s vice president for research, graduate studies, and international programs. Dr. Keller.
George Keller: Thank you, Bill. Our speaker this evening comes from Bonn, Germany, and has just arrived here in Corvallis yesterday, and is internationally known for her aggressive position on peace, the environment, and the feminist movement.
In the way of education, her formal education has been at American University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in international relations, and at the University of Amsterdam with a master’s degree in political science.
I want to make one slight correction in your program that Kelly, Petra is the step-daughter of a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. She is definitely a German citizen, and she wants to be remembered and known as that, and I congratulate her for that.
Since 1970, she has been actively involved in the German worldwide anti-nuclear, anti-war, and feminist movements. Early on during this time, she was an administrator at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, dealing with European health and social policy issues. She was the founder and chairperson of the Grace P. Kelly Association for the Support of Cancer Research [for] Children, a European [environmental] citizenship action group, which was founded after the death of her sister. Much of her effort went to studying the relationship between cancer and environmental causes.
In 1979, among other things, NATO’s decision to modernize and nuclearize its alliance prompted the formation of another party in Germany: the Green Party. Our speaker is the co-founder of the Green Party of the Federal Republic of Germany, standing for anti-militarism, ecology, and nonviolence – a grassroots party. She served as a chair[woman] and speaker from 1980 to 1982. In 1983, she initiated and organized the Green International Tribunal Against First Strike and the Mass Destruction Weapons in the West and East. That same year until 1990, she served in the German Bundestag, the national parliament, where she had particular involvement through various committees in such issues as disarmament, human rights, neutrality, and foreign policy. Two terms as a representative of the Green Party in the Bundestag was [unique in] happening because that party was very strong in wanting its representation to change frequently so that they would not forget the roots from which they came – so she served a very unique role for that party.
In 1987, with Gert Bastian, who is here with us this evening, she initiated and organized the first international hearing on Tibet and human rights.
She is the author of numerous articles and books, and has lectured extensively on anti-nuclear, anti-war, and feminist issues around the world. Her efforts over the year have won her much recognition, among which was the Alternative Nobel Prize and the Woman of the Year Award by Women Strike for Peace.
Please welcome Petra Kelly, who will talk to us this evening [on] the subject of “Green Politics in New Europe: Hope for Change.” [5:02]
Petra Kelly: I first have to excuse myself for sitting at the table, but I’ve just out of the hospital and I’m under severe jet lag problems, and I’m very grateful – maybe it’s better to speak, not from the top down, but to just be more equal. And I also would like to thank very much the Pauling Peace Lectureship Committee for having invited me here to Oregon State University. I’ll take some water because I probably will need this after fourteen hours of flying.
I’m very honored to be able to deliver this peace lecture, established by Linus Pauling, former student at Oregon State University, and it’s a great privilege for me to speak in the format of the Ava Helen Pauling Lectureship for World Peace. Ava Helen Pauling is an inspiration to all women working for a sane, safe, more peaceful world.
When talking about Green politics in New Europe, it is almost a race for time, since every single day things are moving so swiftly in Europe, and we are rewriting our geography books almost every hour.
I would like to first speak, first of all, on saving the Earth, for we have inflicted awful wounds on the Earth, and are now caught in the trap of trying to heal these wounds by prescribing more of the same Earth-defying remedies. In the practice, the human spirit has come under constant attack. Many of the intangible values – a sense of community, pride, and serving others, a love of the land, spiritual enrichment – that once provided fulfillment and meaning are increasingly denied to many people on this Earth. I have studied in a book to save the Earth, “It is not just the Earth that has paid the price of our obsessive pursuit of industrial progress, but that fragile part of us that responds to a higher reality than material wealth.” The healing of the Earth and the healing of the human spirit become one and the same. As we struggle with the implications of pollution control, environmentally friendly technologies, green consumerism, or sustainable development, it is that overwhelmingly powerful convergence between our human needs and the needs of the rest of life on Earth that now begins to offer real hope for the future.
From the early 1960s onward, environmentalists and people who are greenly tied have a feeling that time is running out. Some of our gloom messages have been disregarded, have been laughed at under dubious assumptions that for every problem, there is an appropriate solution or technology. But many of the processes we damage, we damage irreparably. At the heart of every ecological problem, there lives a political, economic, or spiritual cause.
I would like to quote, here, my very close friend, his holiness, the Dalai Lama, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. He wrote:
“Our ancestors viewed the Earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustible and sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it. It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past which resulted from ignorance. But today we have access to more information than ever before, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, [and] what we will pass on to coming generations.” [8:50]
Our marvels of science and technology are matched, if not outweighed, by many current tragedies, including human starvation in many parts of the world and the extinction of other life forms. The challenge we face is not just a question of managing the Earth’s resources more efficiently, or to learn to exploit the Earth in a less destructive fashion. Nor, at the same end of the scale, does it entail the outright worship of nature. Somewhere in between lies the recognition of the intrinsic value of life on Earth, the feeling of reverence for its self-renewing complexity and beauty, and that we, in fact, are all, in the end, one.
In the autumn of ’89, we all lived through the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the superpower rivalry, and the cry of freedom came from all many European/East European countries, and the nonviolent and Czech revolutions became a daily experience – soft revolutions for a civil society. But now there is a new wall, not between East and West, but between the industrialized countries of the North and the developing nations of the South – a wall made up of economic defenses against cheap imports from the Third World, psychological defenses against painful reminders of the terrible poverty of the South, and military defenses against the day when they’ve separated each at such a pitch that people simply march on the rich North.
While we are about to face a new year, we must remind ourselves every single day that every year fourteen million children under the age of five die in the developing world. Four million children die of diarrheal disease, mostly from drinking bad, polluted water, five million die of disease such as measles [and] tetanus, which have been brought under control in the west, and a million die of malaria. The rest are struck down by a combination of illnesses, mostly coming from hunger.
UNICEF has stated that the cost of providing vaccination and antibiotics would be around $2.5 [billion] a year, but here we have to provide some chilling comparison. This sum of $2.5 billion a year is equal to a small portion of the Third World’s arms expenditure. It is the cost of five U.S. stealth bombers. It is the annual advertising budget of the U.S. tobacco industry. It is the amount that the Third World pays every single week to service its debts. That is all the amount we need to save children. Like the $20 million for 20 Patriot missiles which could have paid for vaccines to protect all women in Africa from tetanus. Or what about the $450 to pay for one M-16 rifle which could have paid for the training of a primary health care worker?
And for this one amount, one moment let us just imagine if you were to spend $1.2 million a day for 10 years – $1.2 million a day for 10 years – you would spend $44 billion, which is the estimated amount spent on the Gulf War alone – not including the long term costs, of course.
And while talking about that [unjust] and terrible Gulf War, let me remind you that weapons were used that had never been used in combat – still experimental – were rushed to the Gulf to be tested under battlefield conditions. For example, the 2,000 pound bombs that home in on a target, or the fuel-air explosives, which are large bombs filled with highly volatile fuels, or the cluster bomb unit. By the end of the Gulf War, the equivalent of five Hiroshimas was released by the United States. The test of new weapons and the conventional arms race it has now sparked is only the beginning of the Hiroshima analogy. The United States unleashed 85,000 tons of conventional bombs in the Gulf War.
It was not a war about human rights. It was not a war about the preservation of liberty. I believe it was a resources war to control oil, not unlike the war to control the canal that preceded it.
Now that the Cold War is finally over and the Soviet Union has been completely defeated, the question is: “What is next?” Cuba, North Korea, cocaine wars in South America. As Noam Chomsky has put it, “In President Bush’s New World Order and the New World Order also of Europe, the Third World domains must be controlled, sometimes by force.” The task is seen by President Bush as the sole responsibility of the United States. With its economic decline, the others are to pay for it – we in Europe are to pay for that burden. One reaction is that the United States persists in its historic task, while others, as I say, pick up the tab. [13:48]
The newly liberated Europe, instead of turning to a pacifist and demilitarized future, is now wanting to build up European weapon deployment forces under the WEU, build up a European army, send German soldiers to the front lines everywhere, and, in effect, become a second military-economic superpower.
The financial editor of the Chicago Tribune urged the United States to exploit its virtual monopoly in the security market as a lever to gain funds and economic concessions from Germany and Japan, extracting, as he says, “a fair price for our considerable services,” as he called it, the United States being the world’s “rent-a-cop.”
And the British author, Worsthorne, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that with the Cold War over, the new job is “to help build and sustain a world order stable enough to allow the advanced economies of the world to function without interruption and threat from Third World countries,” a task that will require constant “intervention from the advanced nations,” and perhaps, “preemptive action.”
I must be very blunt and honest to you – I’m frightened by this New World Order about the United States enforcing obedience, with the support of an emerging Western European superpower, with a colony called “Eastern Europe.” At home in Europe, we are discussing [how] to create a unified European army, Western European intervention forces, and, as I said, German soldiers to the front on top of all that. We are not discussing the reduction of NATO troops, NATO has, now, a million more soldiers than the Soviet Union, and we’re not discussing the dissolution of NATO, but I feel that must be the answer to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact: NATO must be dissolved. That must be the answer for the European countries.
We have all observed that the dawning of the post-Cold War era and the talk of a reduced arms budget has gotten arms manufacturers scrambling to identify new threats around the globe. One scenario sent shock waves through the diplomatic circles. It identifies India as a future military enemy of the U.S. in a major regional conflict similar to the Gulf War. We all thought we are entering an age of peace in Western Europe, but now we have a terrible and brutal war going on in Yugoslavia, with no end in sight. The military alliance – there was a pact – has dissolved, has crumbled, and yet European and American arms companies churn out new war scenarios day by day for new post-Cold War weapons programs, like General Dynamics, and like many other companies who look at India as a future target. In the absence of a single credible enemy for the United States, defense companies are clearly fumbling around on a minefield of complex regional fields. We are now a unipolar world, and Third World capitals are very afraid because alarm is growing that arms companies are, in fact, aggravating regional conflicts.
And [when] I add about the Gulf War and talk about its implications, let me look also at the impact of any war on the global environment. The Gulf War has shown what eco-war is all about. The White House knew as early as November 1990 that Saddam Hussein had wired the wellheads with explosives, yet U.S. President Bush opted for war despite the potential impact on a whole region that has turned into an environmental disaster. When talking about future resource wars, the U.S. and Europe may fight side by side, so I ask, what, in fact, is enough? Why are we fighting resource wars? How much, in fact, is enough?
Victor LeBow, in a post-World War II area of affluence, has said, “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever-increasing rate.” Since 1950, American consumption, for example – I take this example because I’m here – has soared. Per capita energy has soared 60 percent, car travel doubled, plastics use multiplied 20-fold, air travel jumped 25-fold. American children under the age of 13 have more spending money – $230 a year – than the 300 million poorest people in the world. The richest people in the world have created a form of civilization so acquisitive – and of course I include the Europeans in this, and other industrial countries – and profligate that the planet is in danger. [18:33]
The lifestyle of this top echelon – the car drivers, beef eaters, soda drinkers, and throwaway consumers – constitute an ecological threat unmatched in severity. The wealthiest fifth of humankind pumps out more than half of the greenhouse gases that threaten the Earth’s climate, and ninety-percent of the fluorocarbons that are destroying the Earth’s protective layer.
Of course, there are other forms of extremes to overconsumption: terrible poverty, which is no solution either. Dispossessed peasants have to burn their way into the rain forest, and hungry nomads turn their herds into fragile African rangeland. If environmental decline results when people have either too much or too little, we must ask, “How much is enough, and where is the limit?”
Aristotle declared twenty-three centuries ago that the avarice of humankind is insatiable. And let me cite another example. Indirectly, the meat-eating quarter of humanity consumes almost half of the world’s grain – grain that fattens the livestock they eat. They are also responsible for the environmental strains produced by the present agricultural system, from soil erosion to over-pumping the groundwater. For American beef, one pound, you need five pounds of grain and the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.
If we take the throwaway economy, then packaging is the essence of the product. Seven percent of consumer spending in this country goes into packaging, yet it all ends up in the waste dump. Disposable goods proliferate in America and other industrialized societies. Each year, Japan uses 30 million disposable single-roll cameras, and Americans toss away 18 billion diapers and enough aluminum cans that make 6,000 DC-10 jet airplanes.
When I look at Western wasteful societies, the way we live and work and play, the way we raise our children, I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau, who scribbled in his notebook, “A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to let alone,” and that is the essence, I believe, of Green politics.
We in Europe are copying the American way of life in the negative aspects when it comes to wasting and consuming, and we in the Green parties have had much change in consciousness, but we have not been able to reverse the political decisions.
I was privileged enough to be at a special ecological conference recently in Morelia, Mexico. For the first time, writers, poets, and ecologists and native tribes of North and South America came together. Some of the conclusions we reached were staggering. Twenty-four billion tons of topsoil from cropland are being lost ever year. If deforestation continues at the current rate, the scientists stated that by the end of the decade, the Earth will have no additional farmland, but nearly a billion new mouths to feed. Seventy percent of the world’s population lives within a hundred miles of the sea. The use of fossil fuels is rapidly changing our climate. Experts stress that continued rising sea levels will create global warming even more massively and create millions of new environmental refugees, even on a [more] global scale than at Bangladesh. The nuclear disaster of Chernobyl in ’86, which in varying degrees has subjected 35 million people to radioactive assault, is only one of the hundreds of serious nuclear accidents that happened. Dr. Vladimir Chernousenko, the scientist responsible for the cleanup, stated his belief that at least three more Chernobyls will happen in this decade. We also learned that 20 percent of the world’s population consumes 80 percent of its wealth and is responsible for 75 percent of its pollution, and we know that there is sufficient knowledge and technology to change all of that, if we only begin to think in an ecological and Green-oriented way.
We must demand a general transfer of knowledge and resources from North to South, not the dumping of obsolescent and inefficient highly toxic products and technologies. There must be an end to garbage imperialism, to dropping your toxic wastes in other Third World countries or across the Mexican border.
We must learn that traditional societies are generally the best managers of biodiversity. For the last 500 years, the knowledge and rights of the Native American peoples have been ignored. We believe that respecting the indigenous peoples, both in the Americas and throughout the world, who have become exploited minorities in their own country, is crucial for the preservation of biological and cultural diversity.
We in Germany also exploit native peoples when it comes to low-level flying of German Air Force planes in Goose Bay, Canada, or German uranium companies in Australia.
1992 marks a year, not of celebration, but of mourning for the first peoples of [the] Americas, for a holocaust had taken place. In the 500 years since Columbus arrived, tragedy has taken its toll on the descendants of the continent’s original inhabitants. Indigenous people are among the poorest, achieving the least education. [24:41]
As the environmental issues become increasingly urgent, and as Western models of development become less sustainable, indigenous people, I believe, will come to occupy a position of considerable influence. They are fused in a union of development, and conservation will become even more important.
I was privileged to meet many American Indians, the first people of Hawaii, and the Aboriginals in Australia, and I have learned more from them than from any of my other political encounters. They are truly friends of the Earth.
We, in fact, have not forgotten that superpower rivalry has brought, even to the most remote regions of the Earth, military basis and strategies, whether it’s the arctic homeland of the Inuit, or the draining paths of the Aborigines. Military installations are now in place everywhere where aboriginal people live. Their lands have been misused for bases and military test sites, as for example, the land of the Western Shoshone Nation, which is used as an atomic test site in Nevada, and the developing countries have become killing grounds.
No official economic policy has taken, to date, the global damage resulting from human activity into consideration. We in the Green Party feel that what is ecologically necessary is economically sound. A very respected feminist in India, Vandana Shiva, writes that “Amazonia is disappearing, not because of the local inhabitants, but to supply cheap beef to Northern consumers, and to supply charcoal for smelting iron for export. Southeast Asia’s forests are disappearing to supply tropical hardwood to Europe and Japanese markets, and as commodity prices fall and the debt burdens spiral, the Third World is increasingly trapped in a vicious circle of exporting more to earn less. It is as if the sick and dying are giving blood transfusions to the healthy and rich.”
The German Green Party, which I helped to found in 1979, declared, “A lifestyle and method of production which rely on an endless supply of raw materials and use those materials lavishly furnish the motive for the violent appropriation of raw materials from other countries. In contrast, a responsible use of raw materials is part of an ecologically sound economy and lifestyle. It will reduce the risk that policies of violence will be pursued in our name. The pursuance of these policies is, in fact, the precondition for reduction in tensions.”
When I turn to the urgent issue, now, of changes in Eastern Europe and how they have affected the South, I use an African proverb: “When elephants make war, the grass gets trampled. When elephants make love, the grass gets trampled.” The Third World environment and the Third World communities are the ones who have paid the highest price for our Cold War. Since 1945, two thousand – two hundred, excuse me – wars have been fought in the Third World, and the industrial world now moves from an over-armed peace to a disarmed one, and military producers are going to the Third World to sell their weapons.
New ecological transformation and reconstruction in Eastern Europe is fundamental for a civil society, but I believe it is again the Third World which will have to pay the cost for the new industrialism and new consumerism in the North, including the cost of cleaning up Eastern Europe. Eastern and Western Europe will use the Third World as a dump for hazards and wastes, and when the transport ways are too long to the Third World, the West will use Eastern Europe as its dump. I call this the Latin Americanization of Eastern Europe.
The environmental problems in Eastern Europe are difficult to describe – they are awesome. Bohemian children wear breathing masks to school, rivers serve as open sewers, entire hillsides are deforested, and the cleanup of [the] former GDR will cost $400 billion. We know the reasons for this tragic damage, and East Europe has, in fact, the unique opportunity to leapfrog the West by only implementing those policies which have been successful, and not those which do not work.
But the quick shift to Western market-oriented economies in Eastern Europe did not bring and does not bring the ecological transformation we had hoped for. Western banks, G7, World Bank, [and] Western governments do not learn from their mistakes of the past, and now that we, in fact, with our friends in Eastern Europe, are fighting exactly against those things we have fought for in the West, we’re starting our battles all over again – against nuclear power, against chemical industries, against inefficient energy structures. We need new ecological taxation systems, new ecotaxes, new tax systems in both East and West Europe, and strong regulations on chemicals, and prohibitions on carcinogenic substances. But the political will is missing – the political will is not there – and the German Green Party has now weakened, the Swedish Green Party has weakened, and even the East European Green Parties have become weakened in the process of shifting to market economies. [28:45]
Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union will face, it is estimated, 30-40 million unemployed people in the 1990s in the Soviet Union and 16 million unemployed in Eastern Europe, which means about 60 million unemployed people, which means the motto will become “jobs at any price.”
The soft revolutions did not lead to the ecological and feminist transition. There are now less women in the Eastern European parliaments than there have been before, and, in fact, if there is no feminization of power, I believe there can be no ecological transformation. I believe that feminists and women in the forefront of these revolutions have to have a political voice. Without them, it will be a very poor Europe.
When speaking about rich Western Europe and the colony of Eastern Europe, we must not forget the dispossessed who are waiting outside of our doors, which are about to close down with the coming of the single market in 1992. Today, a staggering 17 million refugees and 30 million more internally displaced people have emerged. Most are in the Third World and their numbers are multiplying. Many arrive having paid their bill, up to $5,000 a head to come to Europe, to traffickers to smuggle them in. This price will probably rise as the rich fortress called Europe from which I come is closing its doors, for plans to open up borders between the easy countries by the end of 1992 will most likely mean hauling up the drawbridge on Third World people.
We face, now, the rise of very ugly right wing political movements in Germany, in Western Europe – racism, fascism – all aimed against people seeking asylum, against foreigners and even against those who’ve lived with us for many years. At the moment, Western governments, including Germany’s, are doing their best – and I say this in the most ironic way – to extinguish the lamp of asylum. We need, in Europe, a highly organized sanctuary movement, like that in the United States, which continues to assist and provide refuge for those who have escaped from war-torn, impoverished countries. In various parts of Europe, there are only a few courageous groups who do this, unfortunately.
We are a planet of immigrants and refugees – as I said, 17 million refugees, at the moment. By the end of this coming year, a razor wire in Strasbourg will prevent people from coming in, to a high security computer that will keep tap on 320 million EC citizens of a frontierless Europe. The aim is to keep the lid on crime, but in fact, the aim is also, through this computer, to keep out millions of desperate refugees queuing up on EC borders, having become refugees due to our exploitive policies. We have made them refugees. It is not their own condition; it is the conditions of the North that have made them into refugees. The EC, as a land of plenty, is turning away from its responsibility.
We witnessed how Italy treated Albanian refugees, how right wing movements grow in Germany and France and Sweden, and how we are unable to stop even the war in Yugoslavia. World War II left 25 million people homeless. The current decay of the Soviet Empire will dislocate 30 million people. The Germans were the first to move: 700,000 from former GDR and other East Europeans who consider themselves German by blood – we have this strange system that Germans are only Germans by blood, which I criticize very much – who are settling in West Germany. And many Jews are leaving the Soviet Union in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Sixteen million Soviet citizens living beyond their ethnic territories are desperately seizing the opportunity to resettle their republics. It seems as if every nationality is rushing about in every direction in Europe. Hungarians flee from Romania. Turks flee from Bulgaria. Roma and Sinti flee from Slovakia. We’re fleeing all from each other. Recently, the Soviet Parliament passed a new law, bringing [complete] freedom of movement to the Soviet citizens. This law is soon to go into effect. It will double the current of immigrants. So it is a very, very sad situation in this present Europe.
In the past few months, also, I have observed that living in Germany has become difficult for me because I’m facing everywhere the ugly German, who is right back again. Germany’s claim that it graciously accepts three to four percent of all applications for asylum loses all relevance. Neo-Nazi and fascist groups and skinheads have set Germany alight with hatred and loathing, and I feel ashamed to say this year I have lived in many other countries in my life, and I have been very sad to be back in Germany at such a period in time. [33:33]
German teenage neo-Nazi groups have not counted on getting so much unqualified support, as they have been getting in the last few months. Every single night in Germany, there are attacks on Romanian, Yugoslavian, Mozambiquan, [and] Vietnamese men, children, and women. As the neo-Nazis scream the most obscene slogans, and while they are pelting the foreign workers’ hostels with Molotov cocktails, stones, and bottles, groups of local German residents and people looking on in East Germany, for example in Hoyerswerda, have screamed, and I quote this, “Get the animals out or we’ll kill you all.”
Foreign men, women, and children have tried to barricade their streets with dustbins to ward off the attacks, but to no avail. Every single day in the past seven months, every single evening the German police [come] too late. When the police arrived in a small town called Hoyerswerda on one Saturday afternoon at night, and also at night, on the sixth consecutive evening of racial attacks in that town, the violence was over – the police caught no one, as usual. Skinheads, neo-Nazis, and the residents of Hoyerswerda were able to claim their own actions as a success, for the German authorities in Saxony in East Germany had already begun busing out the foreign workers and asylum-seekers to undisclosed locations, so the neo-Nazis won the battle. Hoyerswerda is now made asylum-free. There are no foreigners living in Hoyerswerda.
Racial attacks against foreign workers have been mounting throughout Germany since reunification. It’s a West and East German phenomenon. Neo-Nazi arson attacks have increased five-fold in the past four months. Social scientists say it’s due to the theory of the communist education system, the unemployment, and the identity crisis, but I think it’s even far more than that. Der Spiegel made a poll, [an] opinion poll, and said that 34 percent of my people in Germany, Germans, sympathize with the trend toward right wing extremism. Ninety-six percent of Germans say they don’t want any more economic refugees in their country.
At the present time, we in Germany – a country of 80 million Germans, and I think you should never put so many Germans into one state – have 5.3 million immigrants. That is all we have. And in East Germany, there is only one percent foreigners in all of East Germany. We don’t even allow those to live in peace.
We have a liberal lock on our political asylum due to our history, due to our terrible treatment of Jewish people, homosexuals, Roma, and Scinti that is still fresh in the memory, but is not fresh in the memory of our population. Now there are sixty percent that have to be recognized in Germany under the Geneva protocol for refugees, but we are only recognizing five to seven percent of them, and there is a terrible battle going on in Germany and our media and our parliament to change liberal asylum law in Germany, requiring at the moment that we have to allow the asylum people into the country, but we don’t give them any rights or any freedoms. The Green Party has been the only one remaining fervently opposed to such an idea to change the Constitution, and we hope that we will receive more support in our campaign to uphold the liberal asylum law. Of all people, we in Germany have a moral responsibility toward refugees.
I have become very pessimistic watching the violence grow in Germany, seeing how race hate mounts to a fever pitch. Fire bombs and lead weights are thrown through the windows of buildings. Housing asylum seekers and foreign children are nearly burned to death, as recently had happened.
Our own government is not [the] only [government] moving closer to the idea of tightening the asylum laws. All over Western Europe, Europe is closing its borders to keep out the dispossessed – the people, in fact, we of the rich West have dispossessed. The new European house is closing its doors to all those who knock and want to come in, forgetting that it has been responsible, through its most brutal colonial period, but also through its exploitative economic policies, for that very amount of migration. It’s been a very disgusting way, also, of weapons trade, and the way in which we have exploited the Third World for so many centuries. What a terrible European house if we build a fortress around ourselves which will exclude all non-EEC Europeans and all non-Europeans.
Graffiti is appearing all over the European walls in France and Sweden and Germany, with yesterday the Jews, tomorrow the Turks. Whatever happened to soul, to pity, to repentance? Whatever happened to learning from history? Have they been successfully tucked away in both East and West Germany? History haunts even the generations who think they have nothing to do with it, and silence kills; silence betrays. And too many of my German friends in Germany have become so silent. After we were so loud about nuclear power, so loud about nuclear weapons, so loud about chemical pollution, we have now become so silent about our own wealth, unwilling to share it with anyone else. [38:40]
Let me add that there are only 100,000 foreign workers living in East Germany in a region of 18 million inhabitants, and those 100,000 are too many. There are only, as I said, one percent foreigners living in the Eastern part of Germany, yet a daily war is being launched against them.
This also reminds me of another border, but it’s been one not less spectacular and less brutal, but I have to mention it also, torn asunder by economic inequality. On the highly militarized Mexican-U.S. border, tens of thousands of hungry Mexicans and other Latin Americans already run the gauntlet of razor wire, helicopters, and dogs for the dubious sanctuary of the casual labor markets in San Diego and Los Angeles. It is also a problem.
But as one black friend had stated in Germany recently, “My blackness incites violence.” People in the old GDR just don’t realize how mobile the rest of the world is. They were cut off too long, and they take a very simplistic view of who belongs where. It is not 1933; it is 1991.
Germany is unified again, and we, the German Green Party, were against that very speedy reunification. We wanted to have a German confederation. All 80 million citizens in Germany are united, but it isn’t prosperity or happiness that dominates the mood of the moment; it is gloom, anger, desperation, and racial hatred. The time of heartfelt embraces at the Brandenburg Gate and champagne for our brothers and sisters of the Eastern zone is finished. Now we of the West tell them arrogantly to work harder so they could earn more – because we all know how much it is meaning to us to work harder – and to become like us. The people of the GDR and of Eastern Europe really never had a chance to design a new blueprint for their own society. They never had a chance to discuss their society [or] their economy. We urged that reunification should take into account the aims and demands of the autumn and winter ’89 revolution, but that revolution was abruptly cancelled by West German politicians and banks.
There are now only eight independent and Green members of parliament from former GDR and Bonn, and the West German Green who were at nine percent of the vote dropped out altogether from the national parliament last December, a most painful moment in my own life after working toward 12 years of Green Party politics to keep them in parliament. We’re still very active in the local and regional level, sharing two governments, but we are not present at the national level.
I believe that we need policies not only of self-restraint for Western Europe, but policy of self-restraint for Germany. We should have no army. We should have more tolerance. We should have more solidarity. We should have a different economic system. [We should have] an ecological and demilitarized Europe, a pacifist and feminized Europe that is in solidarity with the Third World and that rethinks and redesigns its economic and industrial policies. And we need, as a cornerstone of politics, the respect of individual economic and social human rights. That has been, to me, the most important lesson – that human rights is, in fact, the road to peace. Without human rights policies, you cannot ever have any socially just policies. And I’ve learned that in my dealings with the Tibetan people, who are nonviolent, who for 40 years have fought nonviolently against the Chinese oppressors, but have been ignored by the world because the bombs and the violence of … and even, at times, of the PLO, have spoken louder than nonviolent actions, and yet we always appeal about nonviolence.
As empire fades, separate nation-states emerge everywhere, and everywhere in Europe, old demons, like belligerent nationalism and demagogic populism, creep out of the corners. We are facing rampant anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, where there are programs planned against Jewish people still to this date. As in Hungary, totalitarianism still may be coming in Romania. We are facing the Lebanization of Yugoslavia, a war that is in the middle of Europe, and nobody seems to be very much concerned. The European peace movement has failed completely in the case of Yugoslavia and the politics of playing on discontent all over Europe.
There is a nationalism that does not involve the love of one’s country, the love of one’s people. It’s a nationalism that, again, is the hostility to your neighbors. And it’s very strange that at a time when all the walls have fallen down and the military blocs are dissolving, we are facing new nationalisms of the worst kind.
And yet never before, I believe, in history have conditions been so favorable to replace old thinking with new, brave, and creative new thinking, but only if the old demons in Europe do not escape again.
Thank you. [43:33]
Bill Wilkins: Ms. Kelly has agreed to answer some questions. Given the size of the auditorium, there is a microphone just here. If you’re where you can get to the microphone, we’d urge you to go to the microphone to ask your question. If you’re not, if you will rise and let me recognize you, and then you may have to talk loudly. The methodology we’ll use, if that is the way the question is conveyed, is that I will try to interpret the question fairly back out to the audience, and then Ms. Kelly will undertake to answer.
There is a vicious circle of poverty and militarism. How can that be broken?
Petra Kelly: As I said before, the [Green] policies have been very clear to demilitarize completely. We have, for example, a very famous opinion poll issued in Switzerland, where 40 percent of [all who took it] wanted to get rid of the army. I think that if we get stronger and stronger pressure, especially in industrialized countries, to rid ourselves of arms, of military production, trade unions will have to go along with it, workers will have to start getting much more [radical in where they work], in what they produce. It’s a question of [everyday life], not just a political sphere. It means that we have to radically rethink, and that’s why it’s [a little bit] pessimistic. We have many people who support Green policies, but when it comes to the political will of the government to change these policies, we’ve had very big difficulty.
And, of course, the vicious cycle is that the North is exploiting, to the point of … , the South, and if we don’t start changing that completely in our own industrial policies at home, there’s no chance for the people in the South. It’s already such a crime that if you look at the meetings of the World Bank in Bangkok, the G7, then you can only say it has to be the pressure at home of the minds of the people of the industrial North to [influence the government to change these policies]. That is the only way we have [to bring about change] in those governments – through the vote and through civil disobedience.
Audience Member: I’d like to ask how the Party, the Green Party, defines power and some sense from you of, in parliament in Germany, that rotation of seats and how you…how did you do it? How do you have leadership without leadership and how did you define power so that those rotations would work?
Petra Kelly: Everybody understand the question? We define power – we say power not “over” people, not power to control them; we say shared power – shared power at the grassroots level, nonviolent power – which means that you try to have a non-hierarchical leadership.
In the West German Green Party, we have leadership shared positions over three speakers, fifty percent capacity has to be for women, all candidates, fifty percent women are speakers, fifty percent women, and we also say rotation of such speaker offices [for] long periods of time. The two-year rotation didn’t work. It just did not work. You cannot be in a four-year parliament and leave after two years. It’s completely non-workable if you don’t have people following you step by step to take over your seat. We’re now at the point of having two full periods, and then we’ll take a break – to be speaker for two full periods, then take a break, but not to exchange people within two years. That’s almost impossible. We tried it, we were very hurt by this system, and we’ve learned from it.
But we’re very strong in saying there has to be a quotation of women. Even if men don’t want to give up parliament in a voluntary way, you have to take power, because they’re privileged, they’re overprivileged, and the only way is to get rid of that power by taking it from them and giving women a very fifty percent fair say. [48:29]
Audience Member: On proportional representation in Europe versus the United States, how would you recommend that we go about getting that here?
And a follow-up. Where do you feel capitalism plays a role in this whole lecture that you had this evening?
Bill Wilkins: Two questions: proportional representation – how is it achievable in the United States, and what role does capitalism play in the problems that she discussed in her lecture?
Petra Kelly: Well, on your election system, I think [the] electoral system [is] rather strange anyway. We don’t ever understand it, how you elect Presidents by thirty percent of the vote – only so few people go to vote – and then you have these strange electoral colleges, and it doesn’t seem to give any chance for any small parties. I think that there must be a third environmental, ecological force in the United States. I can’t understand why all these many groups I’ve gotten to know over many years who’ve been very, very good at their local and regional work, why they can’t get together and make a symbolic third candidacy.
I believe that our system, even though we think that five percent of class isn’t fair, we have a representation system where we have lists, whereby you get seats through the list, and you have a direct representation system. So it’s a mixed system. I think it’s a rather good system because small parties are protected – at least you have to get all five percent to be in parliament.
In Great Britain, you have the, not the proportional, you have the direct representation. That’s very difficult. Green parties have gotten 20 percent and have not gotten one seat.
I think that there is a movement, I have been told, in the United States, to change the electoral laws and to change the electoral system, but it is something I can’t advise you on. It’s probably such a long process, but I think locally there is a chance to run candidates for city councils to try to get more of an ecological, let’s say, “list” going. I think that’s possible in this country. It’s a problem once you get to Senate and Congress, if I’m correct, which is still very difficult, but I do hope it can change. We are trying to get a European law for the European elections because we have separate, different electoral laws for the same European parliament, and that’s very unfair, meaning we get into the parliament in Germany, but a Dutch or a British Green party would not get in even if they got twenty percent of the vote.
On capitalism, all I can say is the Green have always tried to go for a third way. That has not ever been practiced because we’re not yet in power anywhere nationally. We don’t believe that world capitalism can replace the very bad and human-alienated state socialism, but we do believe that both systems, socialism and capitalism, have some good and also many bad things, so we felt that ecologically induced economies and lifestyles, that’s a completely different way of thinking. It’s not a class thinking way. It’s saying we’re all together at this point in one boat, and we have to practice a very deep form of solidarity, and the rich have to give up some of their privileges. The rich are causing most of the problems, as we know, on this globe, and capitalism of the world form is now being practiced even in some East European countries, and we feel it’s very difficult to make any change because these countries are at the bottom of the pole. They have very big poverty problems, unemployment rising at a level you can hardly describe, and now they’re looking for simple, “jobs at any price” solutions. That makes it very difficult to talk about qualitative jobs, to tell them to have [an] ecological lifestyle.
Our influence, I have to say very openly, has very much lost impact since the revolutions have taken place. During the revolution, they ask for a different economy, different from capitalism, different from Western Europe, and now the Western banks have put conditions – I’ll give you just one example: Gorbachev had been, in November of last year, he had been in Germany meeting a group of businessmen, and I was also allowed to be at that meeting for the Green Party. We have always [had] a chance to have been present at those meetings because we were in parliament. The German businessmen had a long debate with Gorbachev about investment, and Gorbachev had said, at one point, “Just give us money, and we’ll produce anything you want.” And that sentence is very indicative of the situation. The helplessness and the powerlessness of those economies [and] the great pollution problems make them feel that all they can do is beg, just for anything – beg for anything.
And the G7 countries in London, as you know, are very much not in solidarity with Eastern Europe. They simply want to bring out the most they can, find new markets, but not [invest] ecologically.
So our system of ecological taxation – taxing the air, the water, taxing the companies who produce the pollution – is a very radical idea, so it won’t ever come into existence unless there is political will, and the EC does not have the political will to help Eastern Europe on that. It’s a very bad battle of existence, and I do feel we’re turning Eastern Europe into our own colony – just like Latin America has been turned into a colony of the United States. That is my very clear feeling, looking at the numbers, at the figures, and what kind of investment we are doing. What we, in fact, have stopped in Western Europe – certain companies, certain plants, certain production processes – is now happening in Eastern Europe. We can’t stop it because there’s no way to build such momentous movements [in] such short time. [53:43]
Audience Member: Maybe this could stimulate some discussion on Green politics in this country, but I wanted to let you know and, perhaps more importantly, to let the folks in this room know that there is a new political party in Oregon called the Pacific Party. We embrace Green values and we’re actively seeking ballot access, so I’d like folks on their way out to help sign our petition. There are restrictive ballot access laws in this country. Oregon has one of the more restrictive ones. We need 38,000 signatures of registered voters in order to be on the ballot in 1992 and run candidates.
Audience Member: [I have a question about Germany] and I was wondering how the grassroots peace movement in Germany reacts to the neo-Nazis, and what’s going on?
Petra Kelly: I had mentioned before about silence killing, about silence betraying. Probably the worst is that the peace movement in Germany, as well as in Western Europe, has become very silent. It’s something that, again, has saddened me very much. There are very many local actions, yes, but the major demonstration we’re about to have will be on the ninth of November in Berlin. It’ll be a major demonstration against racism [and] neo-Nazi groups. The problem has been – and it’s very hard to say this – the problem has been the sympathy by many normal, average German citizens to the neo-Nazi attacks, so it’s difficult to get enough public support even to get meetings, and to rallies going. It’s always the same few people that you know they are ready [and] so active, and [they] are overworked. It is not spreading, as we had hoped, into more segments of society.
There’s also very big sympathy within the police force – I have to say this very openly – and it’s been very difficult because the peace movement’s efforts against Pershing or cruise [missiles] had been very clear, very dominant – one weapons system, and we can go against this. The more complex the issues became, even as to the war in Yugoslavia or the terrible hatred against foreigners, the more problematic it became to have a base, a national base. There’s no real coordination anymore. Everybody’s working at a local and regional level, and since the Green have dropped out of parliament in December, the national way to mobilize and to have the means at your disposal and the help through the offices has fallen away, and that has weakened us very much – very, very much.
We hope that maybe 500,000 will turn out in Berlin on [the] ninth of November, but that’s an open question. Up to now, the demonstrations have not been very much at all. There was one in Frankfurt recently, a peace demonstration for tolerance toward the foreign workers to be more in solidarity. Only 2,000 people showed up. And these are very shocking numbers. As you know, we used to have a million people come to demonstrations, and Germany used to be in the forefront of numbers. Now, I believe, [there are] also many people, even within the peace movement, who do not have a clear position as to how Europe should cope and handle the immigrant flow that is happening now.
There are many, many, for me, shocking things that you see happening because people are not quite certain – what do we do? What, in fact, do we do if we have to start using police at our borders? The question of Albanians who came to Italy was a very big question also in Germany. What happens when people ward off these people by violence? What do you do then?
We do create sanctuaries now. As I mentioned before, we’re trying to have a sanctuary movement where some groups are hiding people, are hiding people from being deported before being taken to the plane, but it’s not enough. It is far too little and too few activities, still, in Germany.
Audience Member: What is your position regarding birth control, and estimate of the importance of that issue for the problems of poverty, ecology, and the status of women?
Petra Kelly: Well, first of all, I think we’re not allowed to tell anyone, we women in the North, to tell women in the South how many children to have, but they must have, of course, the access to information about birth control. There must be safe and healthy forms of birth control.
It should not be the women who [are] tested by pharmaceutical companies. We’ve been guinea pigs for many years, I believe, and men have not taken responsibility for birth control. It’s one of the major issues, I believe, in the whole world.
The Catholic church, I believe, has had a very bad influence, because it has not taken up the issue courageously, but I believe that it’s not the problem. I believe the Earth has enough to feed all of its people. [58:35]
I also believe that women decide completely on their own – they have to have the right to decide on their own – how many children they should have. I believe that forced birth control programs are very wrong, the way they have happened in India. They are completely wrong, because women are not allowed to codetermine those policies. United Nations has many programs, and women are not part of those programs. They’re done by men, and that’s completely wrong.
And I also believe that women, now more and more, are being turned into [machines for] producing children. We, for example have, now, a very big debate on [the] genetic industry and of how women are asked to have babies for other women who can’t have babies. There’s even a debate now in Western Europe going on as to are we really producing, just simply as machines, children, and also the genetic examinations now being done – is the child going to be well or not going to be well?
I think these are very ethical questions, but it has to be clear that the woman has to be the sole decider, the sole decision-making person about birth of children because she has the children. And there must be safe and healthy contraceptives and such birth control information, but you cannot force this, and I think that there’s something inherently wrong in the structures where children are meant to be brought to the Earth to simply keep the family alive, as in many poor countries. Of course, there are such terrible injustices, but I think we can never tell people in the Third World about their own birth control. It’s completely, immorally wrong to do that.
Audience Member: Quickly, I wanted to say a word on developing or starting a Green Party in Ithaca, New York in the last four years, and within a year and a half we had two people on the city council out of ten seats, and we may get a third in the next two weeks. So it can happen. A small group of dedicated working people can have it happen.
But also, I had a question, because we in the Green Party there were quite surprised that the German Green Party was not in favor of the GDR joining West Germany, and it seemed, to me anyway, that that would have been a case where you could adopt an ecological disaster and clean it up by incorporating it into a first world country, and perhaps you can answer why that wasn’t.
Bill Wilkins: The question, I think, is, “Why did the Green Party in West Germany not support the unification of Germany, and, therefore, adopt an ‘ecological disaster,’ as it were.
Petra Kelly: Well, we, in fact, you know, we did not – it was very much more differential. We didn’t support Mr. Kohl’s very quick push to, as quickly as possible, make reunification. Maybe he was right in the end, because if you saw the Soviet Union’s developments, they might not have agreed; Gorbachev had agreed. But, for example, we felt a confederation of two German states cooperating together, working together, combining their efforts on ecology, on women, on social policy, that would be all fine, but not to make one centralized German state.
There have been three cases in history where Germany has always been a centralized, unified state, and every time we’ve done it, it’s gone wrong – gone wrong for ourselves, gone wrong for our neighbors. There’s now 17 percent in Austria asking for Anschluss with Germany. That figure is frightening because if Austria has an economic decline, if the EC joins up with Austria, if Austria ends up in the EC, there’s going to be Germany buying up Austria, because we’re buying up Eastern Europe all the time. I think we are “Germanizing,” in fact, Eastern Europe, and we’re supposed to become more European in all of this, but I think we are, in fact, “Germanizing” – and I think that’s a very bad word, but I’m going to use it – Eastern Europe.
And I think that the Greens were very correct in all the warnings we had made and all the warnings about the economic problems, [and] about not solving the ecological problems. Helmut Kohl is no longer, now, the hero he was a year ago because he had promised every East German, “You will be better off. You will never be worse off, but you will definitely be, you know, not having a negative effect in your life if Germany is unified,” but 17 million East Germans are having a negative effect. They are getting the least paid jobs, the worst paid jobs. Women are fired the first; they’re hired last. Pregnant women are fired immediately. The crushers are gone. There are no more provisions for child care. Their lives have been shattered and they have no identity – their identity has been taken away. And you cannot take away 40 years of East German identity. Even if there’s a lot of it bad, they had some good things as well, and West Germany seems to have – I say it very openly – bought East Germany in one act, and Mr. Gorbachev more or less got a lot of money to say yes to this. [1:03:24]
One thing that we agreed very clearly on in the Green Party was we did not want East Germany to become part of NATO, and we never understood or could believe that Mr. Gorbachev agreed, when Mr. Kohl visited him, to let East Germany be part of NATO. We had hoped that this would be the first denuclearized and demilitarized zone in Europe. Begin with East Germany. They didn’t want to have any more soldiers. They didn’t want to have any more troops. There was a moment in time they didn’t want to have any of this, and overnight they were taken into NATO and now we have NATO maneuvers, NATO troops, [and] German soldiers stationed, of course, in East Germany. There are still many weapons – also nuclear weapons, as we are told, in East Germany, from the Soviet side, and there are 400,000 Soviet soldiers, still, in East Germany, who are very badly treated.
The situation, I think, is now very tragic. I mentioned before the embraces and the champagne is finished. We don’t talk about brothers and sisters anymore, and there is now a very big competition to make sure an East German does not get your job, an East German does not get your house or get your flat. The solidarity effect is gone, and I think that is, for me, the frightening point of it.
Reunification was never in the mentality of Germany for the last 40 years. When it finally and quickly happened, we were not ready for it, psychologically. There are many people – the suicide rate, by the way, has risen dramatically, not during the time only when the Wall came down, [but] also now – suicide of elderly people who cannot pay the rent because the rent, as of October, has increased ten-fold for most people, and they cannot pay the rent. They’re out on the streets. People cannot pay their necessities of their daily life. There’s a very big poverty now, and West Germany seems simply to say, “Well, you just have to work as hard as we do.” It’s a very arrogant attitude, and I think that the Green Party, though we were not understood about our criticism, I believe we were very correct, and I also believe that the reunification has brought on this idea of saving yourself and making sure you have your part of society for yourself, and making sure foreigners stay out, and foreigners [are] anybody who’s not German.
And the fact that being German is now something special again is really frightening, because according to our German citizenship law, you can’t really become German easily. You can only become German if you have a German grandfather somewhere in the SS or in the Wehrmacht who was German, then you can become German, but if you are coming from another country and you want to become German, it’s a question almost of folk identity belonging to the German people of blood, and we can’t even get this law changed. The law is completely hideous; it’s medieval. But it also gives a special tendency to say Germans simply have a priority, and that’s a very…. I mean, I am born in ’47. I was not born during the war, but after the war, but I feel that we haven’t learned any of this. The East Germans haven’t learned it under communism. They were forced to be anti-fascistic. They didn’t really believe it; they were forced to be that, and we in West Germany were very apathetic about it. And now it turns out we didn’t learn whatsoever. And that is the frightening part, that 40 years of democracy, imposed, on one hand, on the Western side, but imposed through communism on another – but anyway, it did not help us become aware of our history.
When you have, for example, Ravensbrück, the concentration camp in East Germany, near Brandenburg – it was the concentration camp where many women had been killed and tortured [and] it has a line, a street called “Death Row,” where women were taken to be hung and to be shot – when a supermarket is supposed to be built on the site or near the site of the concentration camp, and East German citizens are blocking the road, not to stop the supermarket, [but] to build the supermarket, then you really begin wondering. And they simply say, “We want to have part of our capitalism, now, finally coming here, so we want a supermarket,” but to put it on a concentration camp site, that is a loss of all sensitivity, and I cannot understand what has happened in those past two years – why we have become so completely ignorant of our own history. And that’s why I think the Greens’ criticism, which was misunderstood, was, in fact, very correct about reunification, and I still would uphold [that] a German confederation, keeping Germans in separate states, is a very good system.
Audience Member: Thank you. I was just wondering – you spoke a little bit about the agricultural problems and practices that cause soil erosion and cause other problems – and I’d like to know a little bit about what agricultural policies the Green Party supports to turn that around, to reduce pesticide use and pollution, and promote safety for farm workers, and farmers themselves.
Petra Kelly: Well, the Green, you know, we have a very strong policy of criticizing the EC agriculture policy. We are looking for organic farming. We have some very good farmers, in fact, who were in the parliamentary group, who practiced organic farming. We have some of them in the European parliamentary factions still today. So we have very good examples, also with the Dutch, on organic farming to keep the soil, to make it healthy – first you have to make it healthy again – to improve the whole way you keep livestock because hens and animals are kept in batteries, as you know, all over the world. [1:08:42]
We have an exploitation because we end up importing grain from Ethiopia. At the height of the hunger crisis, Ethiopia gave grain to the EEC. It’s rather unusual [that from] a country that is starving, we get grain. And also, we end up feeding our livestock with grain imported from poor areas so that people will eat more meat. It’s a very bad and vicious circle, and we have been very much critical of the way the EEC agriculture policy has also driven off the small farmer with his small, overseeable farm, and has made, more or less, agricultural factories – huge centralized factories. Now that problem is of how to make it into different units in Eastern Germany. They have big factories there, agricultural factories, [and] the soil is finished. Ninety percent of the soil is acid, and now they’re looking at how to make small farms work again.
So, in fact, I think in the agricultural area, even our Minister of Agriculture will attest publicly that the Green have the right solution, but he says, of course, the transition is very difficult because everything has been geared toward EC agricultural units, and also the way the subsidies have gone. You know, the subsidy system is completely crazy. You get money for producing too much, which you then destroy. Then you get money again for destroying it. And we have thousands of warehouses of butter, of crops, of vegetables, and we have many periodic times where crops and where vegetables and fruits are being destroyed through subsidies, that are actually being destroyed by machinery because we have produced too much of it. We don’t share to the Third World or with the Third World. It’s a very insane policy to keep the world price level at a stable position.
So our criticism is, rather, from the small unit to the very large EC policy, and I think in this area we have really gotten a lot of support by the small farming community all over Europe. And there are many examples of model farms in Holland, Denmark, in Germany – Southern Germany – and also already, now, in Italy through the Italian Green. So at least, there, there is a real inroad happening.
Audience Member: Hi, I have a question, but first of all, I have a very special letter from a great admirer of you – I leave that with you to read later at your convenience. My question is: I think time is short, concerning the ecology. Perhaps some would say that the catastrophe has finally arrived, and we have to deal with it. What extremes do you advocate to save the planet?
Bill Wilkins: I think the question is, “What are the measures that must be taken in order to stop the environmental – ”
Audience Member: No, a little more than that. What extremes… what… we’ve got to get radical. What do you think we should do?
Petra Kelly: Well, probably one of the most extreme measures would be that you finally have governments practicing nonviolence in politics. That’s probably the most extreme form, because most of our politics practices violent politics, whether it’s your way in which you exploit people through your consumption – I tried to mention some very shocking figures, that if children have more pocket money than 300 million people on the Earth, there is something quite wrong with our distribution system and with our social justice. There is, of course, also much poverty in all of the rich countries that we’re living in.
But I think nonviolent politics is a very big challenge. Mahatma Gandhi tried it. Martin Luther King tried it. Cesar Chavez tried it. Dorothy Day, Linus Pauling – they’ve all tried it. The problem has been that once you empower – and I have even noticed that in the Green Party when they share regional power with regional social democrats in regional governments, they’re very quick to compromise and to forget their radical and extreme, as you say, solutions, and I’ve criticized the Green Party for sometimes very quickly going toward compromising and saying, “Well, once we’re in power and have a ministry, a Green ministry, then we can tell people how to live.” I don’t want an eco-dictatorship either.
On the other hand, I think that being in power in a ministry means nothing unless people, in their daily consuming and buying habits, in their living habits, really take unto themselves to change themselves, which means to me [that] the problem isn’t outside, out there; the problem is in every one of us. That’s a very spiritual question. It really means that if you start to change your own life, if you start to take responsibility for your own actions, if you really do that – and that’s about the only thing you have control over is your own actions – then you can force many things. Consumer campaigns have been done against Nestle, for example. They’re very effective – the Nestle campaign. Consumers have tried very hard against South African fruits and vegetables to try to boycott them. They made some impact. But I think that people are not aware of their own power, and Green politics is really not about telling you, in a blueprint, how to change society. It’s really about telling people how to take control of their own lives and how to live nonviolently. [1:13:32]
And to live nonviolently is probably the biggest challenge we’ve ever come across, because most everything we do is attached to some form of structural violence. And I’ve become, in the past years, also, so much aware about the disparity, about the injustice and the way in which we don’t even realize what injustice we’re perpetuating, that I think the Green Party’s thinking has been correct to say that if we pursue, in our daily life, a way of living nonviolently, if we pursue in our politics, then it has to make an impact if enough people do it. And that has been maybe the big hope in Europe, that Green Parties, third parties, have finally erupted, have finally come upon the scene, and have said, “Enough is enough,” and have asked the question of “How much is enough?” because people seem to live in this endless feeling of wealth, of material being, of “The Earth is not running out of resources.” It’s running out. I think it is five minutes to midnight, and I believe, also that we have very little chance anymore to change it, because even Eastern Europe, though it is liberated, though it is now moving toward democracy, it is again giving its high cost to the Third World. And the more, I guess, you travel in the Third World, you speak to many of the very courageous groups there, the more helpless you feel.
Even if I look at the disaster – you had the Alaskan oil spill, I think, at, I forgot the name… St. Prince or William Sound in Alaska – what did it really change? What did Three Mile Island change in the consciousness of people? What did Chernobyl really change?
In Chernobyl, I have much contact to the doctors there and to the children there, because we have many children treated in Germany. There are 10 million people who are going to be polluted in the coming decades from this nuclear accident – in some form, they’re going to be assaulted by radioactivity. And all it had done is to make Germans say,
“Well, our German reactors don’t do anything like this. They are much safer.” And it makes us, now, sell our reactors to the Soviet Union. That was not the idea; the idea was to stop it altogether, and to find renewable sources of energy. And that’s, to me, one very important example that even though there’s such a tragedy that occurred, the memory of people is so short. They go back to their normal habits.
And we know that we need renewable energy – soft energy. We need to have energies that do not hurt people, that do not get used for building nuclear bombs, and yet we are facing countries who are proliferating from nuclear power and getting bombs in a very short time. And yet, we point at them – we point at Saddam Hussein and all the others – but we have to point at ourselves, because we’re the ones who are living the example. We are showing to people [that] you are not anything unless you have these kind of weapons – you are nothing unless you can deter.
So I think it goes right back to something many people might say is far too spiritual, but I think it goes right back down to: the solution and the problem is in us. It’s not out there anywhere. It’s all in us.
Bill Wilkins: Thank you. It’s been a wonderful addition to our series. This series is made possible by contributions of friends of peace. Please note the back of your program.
Next year’s – let me halt, if I may. Next year’s speaker, just about a year from now will be Dr. Oscar Arias, former President of Costa Rica, who will be here with us. 1993’s speaker has also been selected, and has agreed to come – that’s the Reverend William Sloane Coffin – about two years from tonight.
Thank you so very much for being with us, and we appreciate your wonderful presentation. [1:17:28]
Transcrición de la conferencia:
1:08:27 – Abstract | Biography
Kay Schaeffer: We have brought speakers of international reputation to campus to deliver an annual message of world peace. The lectureship was originally established by the College of Liberal Arts and OSU with the permission of Linus Pauling, the only recipient of two unshared Nobel Peace Prizes, to honor the memory of his wife Ava Helen who was herself an advocate of world peace. It was renamed last year to include Linus Pauling after his death. Both Paulings attended OSU, and so their legacy is special for Oregon State Students. Speakers in this distinguished lectureship have included such prominent leaders for world peace as Linus Pauling himself, who was the very first speaker in the series. Others have included Helen Caldicott, John Kenneth Galbraith, Mark Hatfield, William Sloane Coffin and Arun Gandhi to name a few. Not only was Linus Pauling the first speaker he also donated very generously to help fund this lecture series. Now, continuation of these lectures will depend on contributions from people like you in this audience and those of you at home who are watching on OSU cable TV. Please send contributions, payable to the Pauling Lectureship, OSU Foundation, to the College of Liberal Arts, OSU, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, or please call the College of Liberal Arts if you would like further information. Your contributions are tax-deductible and they will be used to continue this outstanding lecture series.
It’s interesting and appropriate that today is also United Nations Day. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the U.N., and as you may know, Linus Pauling’s work for peace was closely associated with the work of the United Nations. This year’s speaker for the Pauling Memorial Lecture is Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Chomsky is an outspoken activist, an advocate for justice and world peace. His clinical analysis of modern culture and policy always provokes debate about how to promote peace and human progress. I have no doubt, therefore, that Noam Chomsky’s lecture this evening promises to stimulate discussions among OSU students and others about central issues of world peace.
Professor Chomsky received his Ph. D. in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, after four years as a junior fellow at Harvard University. His dissertation was entitled Transformational Analysis, and contained the major theoretical view point which appeared in 1957 in the monograph Syntactic Structure and formed part of the more extensive work, The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory published in 1975. This important work resulted in major changes in the study of language and universal grammar. Professor Chomsky has written and lectured extensively on topics as diverse as knowledge of language, the culture of terrorism, “Rethinking Camelot – JFK and the Vietnam War,” and US political culture. He has delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford, the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lecture at Cambridge and the Nehru lecture in New Delhi, to name just a few. He has received honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science and he is a recipient of the distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association. The title of his lecture tonight is the “Prospects for World Order.” Please welcome the 1995 Pauling Memorial Lecturer, Noam Chomsky. [4:42]
Noam Chomsky: It is, needless to say, an honor and a privilege to be invited to speak in the Pauling Lecture Series, and a particular privilege to be able to do so today, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. As the contours of a new world order were being constructed from the ashes of the most terrible single catastrophe of human history, there were conflicting visions at the time, of what the new world order of the day should be – and they’re still highly relevant. One view was that of the United Nations, which is now possibly facing its demise. The second was a view sometimes called Realism in international relations theory, which was critical of the utopianism that accompanied the founding of the United Nations. The Realist vision was articulated with great clarity fifty years ago by one of the most respected and important statesmen of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill, who was speaking for the victors, one of the big three. He explained, I’m quoting him now, “the government of the world must be entrusted to the satisfied nations who wish nothing more for themselves than what they have. Our power placed us above the rest. We are like rich men dwelling in peace within their habitations and we must keep the hungry nations under control or else there will be danger.” [6:59]
Earlier in the century at the peak of British power, before World War One, Churchill had outlined this Realistic vision more fully, this time in secret in British cabinet meetings. (Records of which have recently been released after quite a few years — apparently considered rather sensitive.) He said, “We are not a young people with an innocent record and a scanty inheritance, we have engrossed to ourselves an altogether disproportionate share of the wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory, but our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force, often seems less reasonable to others than to us.” So, we have to teach them regular lessons in reasonableness, this was part of a call for expanding the military budget. I should say that a sanitized version of that did appear in his writings but with a very different tone. It would be only fair to add that the more humane among the conquerors didn’t find those measures so reasonable. For example, Adam Smith, who bitterly condemned what he called the savage injustice of the Europeans, who he saw very clearly two hundred years ago were brutally creating the First World/Third World divide that is now so dramatic, and was far less so at the time. Well, Adam Smith was a figure of the enlightenment, pre-capitalist, anti-capitalist in fundamental ways. He was also smart enough to detect the fundamental illusions of the Realist picture that Churchill so eloquently articulated. The first is that, contrary to the Churchillian version, the rich man enjoying their ample habitations are never satisfied, rather they will follow what Adam Smith called the vile maxim of the masters of mankind, “all for ourselves and nothing for anyone else.” The second and more crucial point is that the “we,” who are enjoying their vast and splendid possessions, were not the people of England, nor France, nor the United States, nor other imperial powers except occasionally by accident. Rather, continuing in his words, “the principle architects of state policy design it to ensure that their own interests are most peculiarly attended to, however grievous the impact on others, including the people of their own country.” [10:03]
That’s a very valid comment. In his day the principle architects were the merchants and manufacturers of England, as he explained. Today, it’s that huge transnational corporations and financial institutions that dominate the domestic economy, and in fact the international economy and hence its politics as well. To correct the Realist vision with Adam Smith’s insights, it comes out like this, “the rich man of the rich societies will pursue their vile maxim, seeking to expand their vast and splendid possessions that they have gained by violence and hold by force, resorting to savage injustice when necessary. Those who do not will simply fall by the way side. The lot of the vast majority of people, including those of their own countries, is simply to serve and suffer.” Well, that’s the Realist vision. The other vision of world order, the competing one fifty years ago, was the vision of the United Nations, or at least the rhetoric that accompanied its founding, which I won’t review because you’re engulfed in a flood of such pronouncements and it is unnecessary to repeat them. As to which of the conflicting visions prevailed, history has provided a rather clear and unflattering answer. Now there were, and are, of course, plenty of people deeply committed to the rhetoric of the vision that accompanied the United Nations then and now and who sought to make it more than mere rhetoric. That includes, I suppose, the vast majority of the population of the world, which is why reality has to be masked in so much secrecy and deceit. It’s why the occasional honest comment, such as Churchill’s before the first world war, has to be concealed from the population for almost a century, in this case; and I think it will be a long time before they study it in British schools. Those who wanted to make the reality closer to the rhetoric included also prominent individuals – Linus and Ava Helen Pauling ranking high among them. But real power has always resided elsewhere. [12:35]
Well, in the United States attitudes toward the United Nations have oscillated over the years from great praise to utter contempt, I’ll return to that at the end, suggesting a rather simple Realist principle that I think accounts for the variations. But first, let’s look at the failures and flaws of the United Nations that have caused these changes in attitudes towards it. There is a standard version of this, it runs sort of like this: at the beginning there were great hopes, they were dashed by the Cold War. When the Cold War ended around 1989-1990, there was a period of hopefulness and then the hopes were dashed again by the ethnic conflicts that swept the world since. Here are some representative quotes from the most interesting period, 1990, right after the end of the Cold War and before the new catastrophes began. These are from the Washington Post, New York Times and leading columnists and editorialists, but they’re perfectly standard, I’ve actually reviewed a lot of them in print and this is a completely exceptionalist pattern. So, here’s a few: “during the long Cold War years the Soviet veto and the hostility of many Third World nations, made the United Nations an object of scorn to many Americans who were rightly appalled by the sight of grim-faced Soviet ambassadors casting vetoes and shrill anti-western rhetoric from Third World nations.” Although with the end of the Cold War 1988-89, Soviet policy changed bringing about a wondrous sea change in the United Nations, which can finally work the way it was designed to. Well, that’s the picture as of 1990 and then comes the disillusionment, the era of ethnic conflict replaced the Cold War and the U.N. again failed to deal with them, so maybe the time has come to bid it farewell. That’s the capsule form, the story. [14:58]
What I’d like to do now is to look at these two eras, the Cold War and the ethnic conflicts and compare the vision with the reality and also ask what role the U.N. played in this. So, let’s take the Cold War. Well again there is a standard version, I don’t have to waste much time on it, heard it over and over. It was, for example, articulated by President Kennedy who proclaimed that the communist world from Havana to Moscow to Peiping as it was in those days, to Saigon and so on, is a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy planning to take over everything else. His right-hand man, Robert McNamara, announced in his confirmation hearings that Soviet aggression has no historical parallel: its goal is total obliteration, without any hint of moral restraint anywhere to be found in the entire literature of Marxism and so on; that’s the standard version. There is a more sober version of that for example it’s given in scholarship. The most respected American diplomatic historian and is also a major historian of the Cold War, John Lewis Gaddis, he pretty much accepts what’s called the orthodox position, post-revisionist position it’s often called, realistically he traces the Cold War to 1917, agreeing with George Kennan and others. As you know after the Bolshevik takeover in 1917, there was a Western invasion and Gaddis explains the immediate Western invasion as defensive. On the side I should say that this invasion was taken rather seriously. For example, Britain used poison gas, which is the ultimate atrocity in those days, like nuclear weapons after World War II. Usually poison gas in those days was reserved for those who were called recalcitrant Arabs or uncivilized tribes men, among whom it would spread a lively terror. Again quoting Winston Churchill in documents released about fifteen years ago and yet to enter popular consciousness, also worth reading. Well, why was the Western invasion defensive according to Gaddis? Because it was a preemptive strike he explains. It was taken to ward off any potential Soviet actions, in his words, “It was a response to a potentially far reaching intervention by the new Soviet government in the internal affairs, not just of the West, but of virtually every country in the world, namely, the revolution’s challenge to the very survival of the capitalist system.” So, it’s a preemptive strike and therefore justified. [18:10]
What was the challenge? Well, the challenge was obviously not military conquests, certainly not at that time and in fact not at anytime he argues, agreeing with most serious scholarship and in fact with the internal documents. Rather, the potential challenge that was going to come, that justified the defensive invasion, was the demonstration effect of an alternative social development model. That might have appeal in the traditional service areas of the South but even among working people and the poor and the industrial societies themselves. That was a prospect that very much concerned Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, his Secretary of State Robert Lansing and many others. Indeed, that remains the primary concern as far as the documentary record reaches which right now is into the 1960s, right through, that’s the primary concern over the Soviet challenge. For example, when John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister McMillan of England were discussing the Soviet Challenge in the early ’60s that was precisely their concern. It wasn’t just the Soviet Union, the same concerns were voiced with regard to China, Vietnam and many others. In short it was the perceived success of the so called communist model, with nothing to do with communism, but that’s what it’s called. It’s the perceived success of the communist model that was considered the threat and that’s pretty understandable when you look at the situation and the comparable Western domains. I should add that Stalin’s awesome crimes were, of course, well-known but almost totally irrelevant to these calculations. Truman for example, liked and admired Stalin, thought he was honest, said what happened inside the Soviet Union he didn’t care about, he thought it would be a disaster if anything happened to the great man, and his great friend, and said that he could get along fine with Stalin as long as the United States got its way eighty-five percent of the time. Churchill took the same view. (In internal records of course.) As late as early 1945, after Yalta that is, Churchill in internal cabinet records was defending Stalin as honest and trustworthy, he admired him. He spoke in fact very glowingly of him in private meetings. The fact that he was a mass murderer was known, but not relevant. In this respect Stalin falls into a pretty traditional pattern, he falls into a long line of monsters and gangsters including Suharto, who will be visiting in a week or so, Trujillo, Saddam Hussein and a host of other killers and torturers, including that man President Roosevelt called ‘that admirable Italian gentleman’ who had brought fascism to Italy, and even including Hitler well into the late 1930s. [21:22]
The crimes are an irrelevance. What’s problematic is not following orders, that we don’t get our way eighty-five percent of the time or more. History is very clear on that. A few years before the Kennedy-McMillan exchanges that I just mentioned, President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, had highlighted the central issues in private internal discussions that have recently been declassified. They were lamenting the ability of the communists, so-called, to appeal directly to the masses and gain control of mass movement, something we have no capacity to duplicate because the poor people are the ones they appeal to and they have always wanted to plunder the rich, the big problem of world history. And as Eisenhower and Dulles and many others recognized their own position on who should plunder whom, was a pretty hard sell, so the opposition had a kind of an unfair advantage and they were trying to figure out how to deal with this. Well, I am only sampling a rich record which suggests a rather different perspective on the Cold War. That perspective happens to be reinforced quite powerfully I think when you look further, for example, at the quite rich and interesting record of declassified planning documents which stress forcefully and consistently that the major threat to U.S. interests “is radical nationalism that calls for improvement in the low-living standards of the masses and the development for domestic needs based on the principle that the first beneficiaries of the country’s resources should be the people of that country, not foreign investors, a conception that must be destroyed in all its forms,” as the State Department insisted in the Charter for the Americas that it imposed on the Western Hemisphere right in 1945 as the New World Order was being established. Those are the consistent themes that run through the whole record as they do for Britain before us, and though I haven’t looked, I imagine France and Belgium and anybody else you look at. [23:46]
There’s also a public record which is consistent with this. I’ve read some pretty dramatic examples of it. Take one example from a few years ago; you recall about ten years ago, the United States was engaged in what the World Court condemned as the unlawful use of force against Nicaragua. The World Court condemned the United States for its aggression against Nicaragua and it ordered it to desist from its crime as well as the unlawful economic warfare, and of course the U.S. dismissed the judgment without concern. And in fact, Congress voted right after it another $100 million to increase the unlawful use of force against Nicaragua. Well, at that time the selling point, what the Reagan administration used to sell Congress on a need to do this, was the announcement by the government of Nicaragua that they were conducting a revolution without borders, and that became the centerpiece of the U.S. propaganda campaign. It was all over the media, the journals, as I say, it induced Congress, “to step up the war.” The Sandinistas actually announced that they were going to conquer the world, in case you didn’t know it. They were going to carry out a revolution without borders. Well, that’s an interesting case; in fact, it was based on some reality as propaganda usually is. It was based on a speech by a Sandinista leader, Tomas Borje, in which he said “every country has to carry out its own revolution. We can’t interfere with anyone else, but we would like to construct the model that would work so well that others want to follow it.” So in that sense, he says that “our revolution transcends borders.” So in a certain sense, the U.S. propaganda was correct. Again, he was issuing a challenge to others that want to develop a model or follow, and that requires a defense response, namely international terrorism and aggression and terror and torture and so on because after all, we have to defend ourselves from that challenge. So there was something true about the fabrication. Incidentally, the fabrication was perfectly well-known. It was exposed instantly right in the mainstream in the Washington Post within days actually but nobody cared. It was just too useful. So therefore it continued to be reiterated as a Sandinista revolution without borders. It’s kind of an interesting fact about our own intellectual culture that this kind of thing can happen so easily and so often. [26:35]
Another point of view from which you can gain some perspective on the reality of the Cold War, I think, is to carry out the following test, which is indeed useful after any war. It is very interesting to ask after any war is over to ask who’s rejoicing and who’s unhappy. When you carry out that test, it often makes looks rather different than the way it was interpreted. It tells you a lot of what it was really about. So let’s look at the Cold War. Who’s rejoicing and who’s unhappy? Well, in the East, the people who are rejoicing are easy to find, that’s the old communist party leadership. They are rich beyond their wildest dreams, just delighted with everything that’s happened. Obviously, they are victors in the Cold War. They are now managers of the U.S. enterprises being set up there, sort of taking on the role of typical Third World elite – very rich, very powerful, working for the bosses somewhere else, and very well-off, so they are delighted. They are called the capitalist nomenklatura very often. That’s the old Communist party hacks who are now very powerful, very rich, very much beloved by the West so they are the victors. They won the Cold War. So who’s unhappy about the end of the Cold War in the East? Well, there are regular polls now taken by the West about the attitudes in Russia and so on. Western-run polls are pretty accurate. And one of the questions they ask regularly is “what do you think is the best period of Russian history?” The latest one that was taken, two-thirds said the pre-perestroika period, before Gorbachev, that was the best period, that’s up fifty percent in 1992. The optimism about the future has declined. That’s Russia, but the point is it’s rather general through the region. The people are delighted that the tyranny has collapsed but they are less than happy about returning to the third-word status that they had before so they are less than happy about the fact that since 1989, in Russia there has been about a half a million excess deaths resulting from the reforms according to a recent UNESCO study, which indeed approves the reforms but gives the figures. [29:10]
So there are people who won the war in the East and people who lost the war in the East. What about in the West? Well among the people who are rejoicing the end of the Cold War are Western business leaders, for example, the directors of General Motors and Daimler-Benz and Volkswagen and so on. And they’re delighted with reasons that are explained with great clarity in the international business press, for example, the British Financial Times which has been pointing out that the big gains out of the Cold War, a typical example is an article called “Green Shoots and Communism’s Ruins.” It’s all horrible over there but there’s something good, some green shoots. The green shoots are the effect of the capitalist reforms has been to cause tremendous impoverishment and unemployment so it is now possible for Western investors to get “highly trained, skilled, and educated workers for a fraction of the cost of the pampered Western workers,” I’m quoting, “who will have to abandon their luxurious lifestyles,” as Business Week added. So they’re delighted. On the other hand, who’s unhappy in the west? Well among the people who are unhappy are the pampered Western workers who are less than overjoyed about having to give up their luxurious lifestyles. Now that General Motors or Daimler-Benz cannot only threaten and in fact bring down their wages and benefits and increase their working hours and so on by moving or threatening to move to Mexico, but now also to Poland and Slovakia and so on, so they are less than excited. They lost the Cold War. Well, if you look at it this way, there are winners and there are losers. The winners are the Communist party leadership and the Western business leaders. The losers are the people in Eastern Europe and the people in the West. Actually, that’s not uncommon after wars. It relates to Adam Smith’s point about who the “we” are when you talk about “we.” Well that gives you another point of view on it. [31:23]
This alternative and I think more realistic perspective on the Cold war makes even more sense when you look at it from a broader historical perspective. The differentiation of East and Western Europe goes back to the fifteenth century. The last time they looked alike was in the fifteen century. At that point, Western Europe was beginning to develop and Eastern Europe was beginning to turn into its service area. Its Third World, as we would call it now, providing resources, raw materials, cheap labor and investment opportunities and markets and so on. That was beginning around the fifteenth century actually, pre-Columbus on a fault line incidentally that kind of runs through Germany. And that difference continued to deepen right into this century. So, say Russia was becoming relatively impoverished relative to the West, more and more up until the First World War, and for large parts of Eastern Europe, continued up to the Second World War. So the East-West relationship was a First World/Third World relationship, what’s called a North-South relationship these days, one of the euphemisms that’s used for the European conquest of the world. Now, the North-South conflict has a certain logic to it, the logic is that the South, the service areas or the Third World, they are to pursue only what’s called complementary development, complementary to the interests of Western power. They are not supposed to follow these bad ideas about development on the basis of the principle that the beneficiaries of the people’s resources should be the people of that country, got to knock that out of their heads. They are to follow a complementary development which supports the interests of the rich men and the rich societies – a Churchillian Realistic relic – and if they try to pursue a path of independent development, that has got to be stopped. It’s sometimes stopped by violence sometimes in other ways, but it’s got to be stopped. That’s the North-South conflict. [33:45]
There’s another part to it. If that independent development goes on and it begins to look successful, that is, if there is a demonstration effect, then they become what is called in the planning documents, “a rotten apple that might spoil the barrel,” or a virus that might infect others, and obviously you can’t allow a virus to spread so they’ve got to be eliminated. For example, Allende’s Chile was described by Henry Kissinger as a virus that might infect people all the way to Italy, not because Chile was going to conquer Rome but because it might send the wrong message to Italian voters, namely that social-democratic parliamentary procedures can succeed. That’s gotta be stopped so the government was overthrown and the Nazi regime was instituted and supported, and that’s very typical. And that’s very typical. So Problem one is independence, Problem two is the virus effect. That’s the basic logic of the North-South conflict. And if you think about the East-West conflict, a good part of it fits into that framework. There was a big piece of the Third World following a path to independence, and furthermore, it was becoming a virus. It was imposing that challenge that was so threatening from 1917 at least until the 1960’s for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Well, Russia’s not a typical piece of the Third World, it’s not like Grenada. It’s a sixth of the world, even when it was a deeply impoverished Third World country under the czar, it still had a big military force which frightened people and that was even more so in the twentieth century. So this particular aspect of the North-South conflict took on a life of its own and that’s called the Cold War. But basically, a lot of it falls into the traditional North-South framework, I think when you think it through from this point of view, which I think is the accurate one. I should also add that the aftermath of the Cold War is completely intelligible and indeed predictable in these terms. Most of the region is going back to where it was. So the parts that were part of the industrial West like the Czech Republic and Western Poland are again becoming like the Industrial West, and the parts that were deeply impoverished Third World countries are going back to that status; they look more and more like the Third World with the small wealthy elites, the old Communist party to a large extent, and the suffering and impoverishment mass of the population, typical wherever you go in Mexico, the South, Egypt, anywhere. [36:30]
Well, this position is reinforced, I think, when you look at the continuity of policy right through the whole period. So let’s take the period when the Cold War ended in 1989 – it certainly ended by the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. And just look what happened since. We have a huge Pentagon system. So what happened to the Pentagon budget since the end of the Cold War? We needed this huge military system because we had to defend ourselves from the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy. Okay, the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy isn’t there, so what happened to the Pentagon system? The answer is the same. It’s actually higher in real terms rather under the Nixon right now by eighty-five percent after the Cold War average and going up. The current Congress is driving it up. So that obviously couldn’t be the reason. The reason we were told for fifty years can’t be the reason. Actually, there is a new official reason. The reason is now we have to defend ourselves from the technological sophistication of Third World powers. That’s literally the case. It’s not from the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy anymore and that has about as much plausibility as the other one so obviously it’s a different reason and it’s not very hard to figure out. [37:42]
What about other policies? Well, take say Cuba, on the front pages right now. For thirty years, we had to defend ourselves from Cuba. We had to carry out the world’s biggest international terrorist campaign and economic warfare and so on and so forth because we were defending ourselves from the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy. Okay, so the Berlin Wall falls, and we have no monolithic and ruthless conspiracy, so what do we do? We intensify the pressure against Cuba. We make the embargo tighter and now even more so. So something’s got to be wrong with that story. The first event that took place after the fall of the Berlin Wall was the U.S. invasion of Panama a few weeks later. Now that is so typical of an event that it barely merits a footnote in history. It’s the kind of thing that happens over and over. But there was a difference this time. For a long time, every such action was justified by defense against the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy. We had to defend ourselves from the Communists and their revolutions without borders and so on. They were gone, so this time we were defending ourselves from Hispanic narco-traffickers led by the arch-demon Noriega, who was in fact kidnapped, brought here, and tried for crimes that he committed while he was on the CIA payroll. A small point. But that was a difference but not a very significant difference. [39:18]
But at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United Nations was in session. That was their winter session. And there were indeed some Security Council vetoes, three. One Security Council veto was on Israel’s actions in the occupied territories, voted 14 to 1. The United States vetoed it. The other two were condemnations of the U.S. attacks on Panama, both vetoed by the United States. The General Assembly also had some very lop-sided votes, which are similar to vetoes but not technically vetoes. There were two, in fact. One was a resolution condemning the continuation of the unlawful use of force against Nicaragua, voted unanimously, the U.S. and Israel alone against. Another was a resolution condemning Washington’s illegal economic warfare against Nicaragua, again two votes against, United States and Israel, That’s actually one vote when you think about it. It’s like Russia and Ukraine were counted two votes. This incidentally continues. Just recently, there was a vote in the General Assembly resolution condemning the illegal U.S. economic warfare against Cuba, two votes against, United States and Israel. The preceding year, the United States has gotten Romania, but it dropped off. Actually, that’s a very traditional pattern. Recall the standard line about the grim-faced Soviet ambassadors and the Soviet vetoes that were paralyzing the nations. The only thing with that are the facts that are not debatable, perfectly clear and explicit facts. Since the 1960’s, the United States is far in the lead in vetoing Security Council resolutions. In second place is the United Kingdom. France is a distant third, and the Soviet Union is fourth. That’s not controversial, that’s a fact. The same is true for the General Assembly. There are plenty of votes in the General Assembly with numbers like 153 to 1 or 150 to 2 or something like that on a wide range of issues such as aggression, human rights, international law observations, international law of terrorism, and so on. If you look through them, you’ll find consistently the one is the United States with maybe Israel or El Salvador or somebody dragging along. That’s a very consistent pattern since the 1960’s. It’s almost totally suppressed in our free press; not only is it suppressed, but there’s just endless lying about it. The opposite is claimed dramatically different from the easily documentable and uncontroversial facts, which is another interesting fact about our intellectual culture. You can think about it and draw the obvious conclusion. [42:22]
Well let’s put that aside and turn to ethnic conflict. There has definitely been ethnic conflict at the end of the Cold War, namely within the imperial system that collapsed in the Soviet Union. So inside the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, where imperial systems have collapsed, along with ethnic conflict. However, that’s hardly a new phase in history and doesn’t call for any deep thought in leading intellectuals. In fact, it is standard and expected with decline of some system of authority and tyranny. So post-colonial Africa quickly broke into ethnic conflict. Or to take the most recent case prior to the collapse of the Soviet empire, take the Portuguese empire. That’s the last empire that collapsed in 1975. Immediately, that led to violent ethnic conflict in Africa and Southeast Asia where the Portuguese colonies were. The three most important were Mozambique, Angola, and Timor. These are the most dramatic cases of ethnic conflict in the modern era, and they don’t have anything to do with the Cold War – they go back to 1975. With regard to Mozambique and Angola, there isn’t a lot of time, so perhaps I can just quote the eminent British historian Basil Davidson, who says in his words, “Those responsible for the contrasubversions against Mozambique and Angola will be cursed by history for enormous and terrible crimes which will long weigh heavily on the whole of Southern Africa.” He is referring to you and me, incidentally, if it is not obvious, and he is quite right, in fact, too kind. The United Nations Commission on Africa estimates over 1.5 million dead and over sixty billion in damages in the Reagan years alone, 1980 to 1988 by way of South Africa with strong U.S. support. That’s within the framework of what’s called hereby constructive engagement. And in Angola, it continues at a horrible level worse than the Balkans, in fact. Well, that’s two of the ethnic conflicts. The third, Timor, is not a slight matter. It’s the worst slaughter relative to population since the Holocaust, a clear, unambiguous ethnic conflict indeed the worst case in post-war history, outright aggression still continuing. We’re getting to the twentieth anniversary in a few weeks. And it is true that the United Nations failed to stop it, a big failure. So let’s dismantle the United Nations until we look a little more closely. And we find that it is true that the United Nations failed to stop it because the U. S. blocked the United Nations. In the words of our ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the U.S. government wanted things to turn out as they did, “and it was my task,” he writes, “to render the United Nations utterly ineffective in anything it might do to prevent the aggression and I was very successful in this task.” He takes great pride in it, then points out that within a few weeks, about a tenth of the population has been slaughtered; approximately the level of total casualties in Eastern Europe under the Nazi attack, he says, I’m not adding that. Then he goes on to the next sentence. [45:58]
So it’s true that the United Nations was indeed rendered utterly ineffective but is not the problem with the United Nations. As for the attack itself, the U.S.’s role was decisive, not only diplomatically but also militarily. The invading Indonesian army was ninety-percent equipped with American arms under a treaty that required that they can only be used for self-defense. Henry Kissinger, who was then Secretary of State, secretly sent more arms immediately, right after the invasion. A couple years later, the Indonesian army had actually began to run out of arms because of the ferocity of the assault, so President Jimmy Carter took off a little time from sermons about human rights and escalated the flow of arms at the point when the slaughter was really approaching genocide in 1978. There are consequences to this. Ambassador Moynihan, now Senator, is hailed all over the place for his dedication to international law and moralities, lone voice of honor at the United Nations, standing up against all kinds of Third World tyrants, now proclaiming about the United Nations that unless it is able to stop the genocide in Bosnia, it has no right to exist, and so on and so forth. Jimmy Carter, need not mention Kissinger, also giving speeches about the importance of peace-keeping at the United Nations and so on. What about the coverage of all of this here? Well, interestingly the coverage is quite high, pre-1975, in context of concern of the collapsing of the Portuguese empire. When the invasion took place with decisive diplomatic and military support, coverage began to decline. What there was was mostly all, in fact, reiteration of State Department lies or quoting Indonesian generals. By 1978, when the atrocities peaked and new U.S. arms were flowing, coverage reached zero in the United States. Not a word anywhere, also interesting. The story continues. There were changes. By the 1980’s, coverage began, sometimes accurate coverage. But it is interesting in character. The tone of the coverage is given, for example, by a New York Times editorial headed “Shaming of Indonesia.” Well, okay, shaming of Indonesia but what about shaming of the United States or shaming of the New York Times? That’s a perception you’re not allowed to have. Or you read we didn’t do enough, we made a mistake, or we didn’t do enough to stop the carnage and the terror and so on. Well the fact is we did more than enough as Ambassador Moynihan himself written and as the record of military aid shows. It wasn’t that we didn’t do enough – that’s like saying the Russians had said “we didn’t do enough to stop the atrocities in Hungary.” Yeah, that’s not quite the way to put it. [49:20]
In the 1980’s, it has changed. Now there is in fact coverage and some good things have happened. There has been enough popular pressure in the last couple years to induce Congress to put some constraints on U.S. participation in this still-continuing atrocity. That caused the Clinton administration to have to search for devious ways to avoid the Congressional restrictions which indeed it has done. More or less, that’s important; it’s symbolically significant and might even, with enough pressure, lead to Indonesian withdrawal. That’s conceivable. There have also been big changes inside Indonesia that we don’t hear about. Human rights groups, student groups, labor leaders, independent intellectuals and so on have began to speak quite openly, condemning Indonesian invasion of East Timor, and in fact speaking up for human rights and rights to working people and so on. Now in Indonesia, to stand up and talk about these things are not so simple. It’s not like here. Here, you do it and nothing happens to you. In there, you do it and you are a terrorist, a tyrannical and vicious state. But they’re doing it, and that might be another thing called “Shaming of the United States” – not that we don’t report it and support them, but that we don’t do it ourselves. It is certainly a lot easier. [50:46]
Well, the end of Portuguese empire twenty years ago led to ethnic conflict that is far worse than the consequences of ethnic conflict at the end of the Soviet empire. The end of the French empire, a long, slow process, that led to still-worse consequences, the Algerian wars, the wars in Indochina. Our own wars in Indochina led to four million people dead and three countries in total ruin. In this case, the aggressors benefited from impunity within the doctrinal system and these aren’t even called ethnic conflicts because we are one of the participants. But if we used the term in any meaningful sense, these are ethnic conflicts on a huge scale, a dwarfing of anything happened after the fall of the Soviet empire. There was a Cold War element in all of these things but it was very far from the margins when you take a serious look and indeed, that is recognized in internal documents. [51:43]
Well, let’s take a look elsewhere, say the Middle East. There is a symbol of ethnic conflict, namely Lebanon. For quite some time, twenty years, nothing to do with the end of the Cold War, Lebanon occasionally makes it to the front pages here. So for example, after the Oklahoma City bombing, there were big headlines about how Oklahoma City looks like Beirut, a big tragedy, the horrors of Beirut coming right into mainstream America, furthermore, if it turns out that the people who did that horrible atrocity were from the Middle East, we are going to bomb everybody in sight and so on and so forth. Well, that was the reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing and it was not entirely false. Oklahoma City was indeed looking like Beirut. Of course, Beirut has been looking like Beirut for quite some time. For example Beirut has looked like Beirut exactly ten years earlier, almost to the day. That was when the largest car bomb in history went off in Beirut. This was the worst terrorist act in the Middle East at the peak of international concern of terrorism. It was huge car bomb, very much like Oklahoma City. It was set off outside a mosque timed to go off to kill the maximum number of people when they were leaving; it killed mostly women and children, much like Oklahoma City, a huge catastrophe. Now in that case, it is not too difficult to chase the perpetrators to the ends of the Earth, bomb any country that’s harboring them, and so on. At least the U.S. Air Force has the capacity to bomb Washington or California or Texas and so on, with maybe a few extra bombs in London. And the reason is because, as it is perfectly and openly acknowledged, the bombing was carried out by the CIA with the assistance of British Intelligence. So it is true that Oklahoma City was looking like Beirut for good reasons because Beirut looked like Beirut, and there’s no problem finding the perpetrators and punishing them. Just this Sunday, the Clinton administration called upon all the nations of the world to join with us in ending the horror of international terrorism and making sure that any nation that tolerates international terrorists becomes a pariah and is punished and so on. Again, that is easily within our power. But somehow, none of this ever gets discussed. It’s not that the press or intellectuals are unaware of the fact that the Oklahoma City bombing was a virtual replicate of the Beirut bombing ten years earlier – of course they’re aware of it. I know, personally – I brought it to the attention of lots of journalists in the United States and England, if they haven’t been aware of it themselves, which they probably were. But this is un-discussable and un-reportable. Just as you cannot speak of U.S. aggression or ethnic conflict when there’s a conflict between us and people in Indochina that ends up with four million killed and so on. So Lebanon is the very symbol of ethnic conflict and there are some reasons for the problems there. [55:09]
There is also grand success in the Middle East right next door in overcoming ethnic conflict. The success just won a couple of Nobel Peace prizes recently. Oslo II just took place. “It was a day of awe,” as the headlines said, in which we celebrated the U.S. triumph in bringing to an end, or at least close to an end this terrible ethnic conflict between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. Actually, what happened there was a little bit different. There isn’t much time to talk about. In fact, what happened was a most impressive power play by the United States which tells us a lot about the New World Order and the failures of the United Nations. The fact of the matter is that for about twenty-five years, the United States has been rendering the United Nations utterly ineffective in anything it might do to bring about a diplomatic resolution to that conflict. That certainly has been true since February 1971 when Egypt accepted official U.S. policy and called for a full peace treaty with Israel on international borders with all the security guarantees and all the wordings of the resolution. In fact, it is identical to U.S. policy with the support of virtually the entire world. Israel recognized it as a genuine peace offer but rejected it. There was a split in the U.S. government as to whether to continue with the traditional policy or to shift to opposing our traditional policy and to oppose negotiations and diplomatic settlement, and Kissinger won that battle, achieving what he called “stalemate,” meaning no diplomacy. Ever since then, the United States has been opposed to diplomatic settlement. Well that settlement was organized by the United Nations, a U.N. mediator. That’s one time the U.N. was rendered utterly ineffective by a U.S. veto. That became a literal veto a few years later, in January 1976, when the Security Council debated a resolution calling for a political settlement, supported by the entire world, in fact – the Arab States, PLO supported it, Western Europe supported it, non-aligned countries, Eastern Europe. It was vetoed by the United States out of history, like the February ’71 event – that was under Kissinger again. The same thing happened under Carter. The resolution eliminated the Security Council. The issue, therefore, came up regularly in the General Assembly, in fact for every year. The votes were always 150 to 2 and so on. The last of those votes was in December. The last serious vote was in December 1990. That was the last of them in the annual votes – it was a 144 to 2, the usual number. Then what happened after December 1990? Well, right after that came the Gulf War. The Gulf War effectively got the rest of the world to understand – actually George Bush put it rather clearly – that the New World Order was in effect, in his words, “What we say, goes.” Certainly in the Middle East. And the rest of the world just backed off. Europe pulled out of the game, non-aligned countries were out of it, total disarray, the Arab world completely collapsed. At the point, the U.S. rammed through its own completely rejectionist proposal, which involves limited instead of complete withdrawal and no rights at all for the Palestinians. That’s the position the U.S. has upheld to the world for twenty-five years and now was able to ram it through. A genuine peace process could be instituted, as it was immediately at Madrid. It’s genuine because it was under unilateral U.S. control and it followed the U.S. rejectionist position. That’s exactly what has been implemented. In fact, what’s been implemented under Oslo II is harsher than any other proposal that the Israeli government itself had ever made from 1968 right up to the present. So naturally, it is a day of awe. It is another case in which the U.N. failed for reasons worth thinking about. [59:37]
My final comment is going back to the U.N. after fifty years. There is a good deal of self-righteous commentary about its failings. I’ve given some indication of why and where it failed. I think you can check to see if you think this is right. The lion’s share of that responsibility falls not very surprisingly on the world’s most powerful states, and in particular, its most powerful state exactly as any rational person would have expected – the most powerful state has indeed been rendering the United Nations “utterly ineffective” in Ambassador Moynihan’s words, since the 1960’s. When the United Nations fell under what is called here the tyranny of the majority, sometimes known as democracy, and it just stopped following orders – that was one of the consequences of decolonization. The commentary on all of this is quite amazing. I sampled some of it, but the whole story is amazing. Well in the last couple years and increasingly now, the United States is proceeding to dismantle the United Nations. On May 1st, Congress announced radical cuts in U.S. assistance to UNICEF and similar organizations – that was very well-timed. On May 1st, UNICEF had its annual press conference. UNICEF, is of course run by an American, the U.S. insisted on that – Carole Bellamy, and she gave the press conference which wasn’t reported but interesting. UNICEF estimated that the number of children who were dying from easily treatable diseases – meaning you can cure it for a few pennies a day – had risen from eleven million a year to thirteen million a year. That’s what UNICEF was trying to deal with, so on that day, aside from not reporting the UNICEF report, Congress cut aid to UNICEF. In fact, UNICEF will disappear as it has the wrong priorities. The FAO, Food and Agricultural Organization, is also slated for disappearance, as it again also has the wrong priorities, the poor and hungry people around the world. The International Labor Organization, that’s going to go the same way and there’s a reason for that. The ILO deals with worker rights and the U.S. has the worst record in the Western Hemisphere and Europe with the exception of El Salvador and Lithuania, so we’re third actually in ratifying conventions on workers’ rights including child labor and things like that. And furthermore, the ILO committed an additional crime two years ago. It criticized the United States – it very rarely criticizes a rich industrial country, but it broke the pattern and criticized the United States for violating international labor standards by the employment of permanent replacement workers, which is in gross violation of universally accepted international labor standards. So they have to go, they’re obviously not to be allowed, and they’re going to disappear. [1:02:59]
The U.N. Development Agency, same story. The U.S. has sharply cut funding for it and is going to get rid of it, it has the wrong priorities, the vast majority of the world’s population. There used to be a monitoring office just to provide data on trans-national corporations. In fact, it was the only source of information on trans-national corporations. That was killed a couple years ago. It was the wrong information. It was pretty hard to get the information anyway, but you could get it, and now you just can’t. UNESCO has a Third World orientation that is almost dead and will die under a good deal of blatant fraud about a new information order, which the fraud about it was well-documented in scholarly work published by university presses but unreviewable. UNCTAD, the United States Conference on Trade and Development is slated to disappear and its functions will be taken over by the World Trade Organization so it’s irrelevant. For those of you who know these issues, this is total nonsense. The problem with UNCTAD is that it keeps refuting the neo-liberal fundamentalism of the World Trade Organization based on the idea that it’s false and fabricated and so on. They were given the wrong analysis. They’re continually undermining the claims about the wonders of the free world market that are preached by the World Trade Organization, but preached in a very special way. They preach to the poor, abroad and at home. They have to accept market discipline. They are not preached to people like, say Newt Gingrich and his constituency, Cobb County, Georgia, which gets more federal subsidies than any other comparable county in the country because it is represented by the biggest welfare freak in the country. And in fact, quite typically, the wealthy and powerful have never accepted market discipline. They have massive state protection in all sorts of ways, and in our case, the biggest form of subsidy transfer from payments to the rich is the Pentagon, which is why the budget doesn’t go down but in fact, only goes up. So no market discipline for them, but plenty of market discipline for the poor, and UNCTAD makes the mistake of documenting, explaining, and analyzing the consequences of all this so they have to go and be taken over by the World Trade Organization which doesn’t have these defects. [1:05:41]
In fact, the more democratic elements of the United Nations are slated for dismissal, and maybe the whole thing will go. That’s not been passed unnoticed, I should say. The South Commission, which represents the overwhelming majority of the population of the world published an important book a couples ago called The Challenge to the South published by Oxford University Press, which called for a new world order based on justice and freedom, and they explain what’s going on in the world rather well. And they pointed out that the more democratic elements of the U.N. are being dismantled, the parts that have a commitment to the general population than just those who matter. None of this ever gets discussed or reported apart from the margins, just as the actual records of vetoes and General Assembly votes and not much else. Again, these are things that might interest us, it might even concern us, at least for those who has some concern for the nature of our own society and our own culture. [1:06:55]
Well, as to the principle that explains the attitudes towards the United Nations that are articulated by the intellectual culture. I’m afraid the principle is all too simple. Insofar as the United Nations is following the orders of Churchill’s “rich men and the rich societies” – exactly to that extent – it is honored. To the extent it deviates from that, it is condemned. It’s rare in a complicated world for a simple criterion to be such a good predictor, but if you look carefully, you’ll find that this is an extremely good predictor of the whole oscillation, up and back, including the hopefulness in 1990. Well, if Churchillian Realism continues to prevail on the global system, and incidentally increasingly so at home as well because there’s an obvious domestic analogue to all this, if that’s the case, then the future is going to be bleak. But we should remember that these are, by no means, laws of nature nor are they laws of society even if such laws exist, but these are human decisions that can be made differently. Within human institutions that have no particular claim to permanence or legitimacy, as throughout history, all of this can be changed as it has been in the past and in the same ways as in the past, and the age-old struggle for greater justice and freedom can be advanced if we so choose. Thanks. [1:08:27]
Por Stephan A. Hasam
Han transcurrido ya más de cuatro lustros desde que, durante los últimos meses de vida de Gregorio Selser, la socióloga María Novoa comenzara a transcribir a diskettes los miles y miles de fichas de una obra, concebida en cuatro tomos, cuyo título definitivo su autor todavía no definía con exactitud. El entonces director del Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Humanidades (CIIH) de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Pablo González Casanova, había acordado mediante contrato que su Centro proporcionara y colocara una herramienta modernísima en la vivienda de Selser, una flamante computadora de escritorio, y que financiara la trascripción de toda la obra. Selser había puesto como condición que los originales no salieran de casa; éstos los había rescatado Marta Ventura de su apartamento en Argentina en un viaje que realizó desde México, no exento de peligro, en plena dictadura de Jorge Rafael Videla.
Durante años Selser había intentado sin éxito interesar a alguna instancia que estuviera en condiciones de poder financiar, transcribir y publicar esta, su voluminosa obra mayor, en la que había trabajado durante más de treinta años. El pintor Oswaldo Guayasamín, convencido de la importancia de la obra, había ofrecido ilustrar la portada. Quizás fue el impacto causado por el bombardeo high-tech y guerra relámpago estadunidenses contra Panamá el 20 de diciembre de 1989 lo que finalmente ayudaría a empujar la balanza a favor de capturar y, eventualmente, a publicar esa obra.
Después de su muerte, el trabajo de captura de todas las fichas prosiguió bajo la supervisión de Marta Ventura, profesora de artes plásticas, compañera y colaboradora de toda la vida de Selser; la bibliotecaria y creadora del archivo hemerográfico del duo Selser-Ventura, ahora un archivo histórico extraordinario, en el Centro Académico de Memoria de Nuestra América Latina (CAMeNA), de la Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM), conformado por más de dos millones de recortes, (todo hecho con navajas de rasurar recicladas después de las afeitadas y unas tijeras), ahora todos digitalizados para consulta por internet desde cualquier parte del mundo.
Para revisar la captura de las fichas, Marta Ventura aprendió a usar una computadora, obsequio de Carlos Payán, entonces director del diario La Jornada, convirtiéndose en una abuelita cibernética. Cuando la máquina ya no resistió el duro ritmo y la carga de trabajo a los que era sometida por Marta Ventura, Raquel Sosa, profesora-investigadora del Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la UNAM, le obsequió una nueva, más potente. Durante aproximadamente tres lustros, siete días a la semana, pese a problemas de salud, Marta Ventura se ocupó de la supervisión y captura de absolutamente toda la obra periodística y ensayística de Selser; cerca de cien mil folios tiposcritos, ayudada por estudiantes de servicio social de la UNAM y de la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) de Azcapotzalco y de Xochimilco. Pendiente queda la revisión de todo ese material capturado, así como la captura de los más de treinta libros publicados, hoy casi todos rarezas bibliográficas, y varios inéditos; entre éstos, Honduras, república alquilada (Vol. II) y Los otros militares.
El siguiente paso fue encontrar financiamiento y a quien estuviera dispuesto a publicar esa enorme obra en proceso de captura. En particular Adriana Lombardo y Luis Monter de la Universidad Obrera de México asumieron esa búsqueda de manera extraordinariamente intensa. En la co edición del primer tomo (1994)1, participaron el CIIH de la UNAM, la Universidad Obrera de México, la UAM-Azcapotzalco, y la Universidad de Guadalajara. Tres años después, en el segundo tomo (1997)2, ya no participó la Universidad de Guadalajara. (Estos dos tomos aparecieron como cuadernos.) Cuatro años después, del tercer tomo (2001)3 se retiró la UAM-Azcapotzalco. Ante las abrumadoras dificultades editoriales y económicas, fueron los propios trabajadores de la Universidad Obrera de México y el editor Luis Monter, convencidos de la relevancia histórica de la obra que, en recuerdo solidario del “Maestro Selser”, acordaron armar y publicar ese tercer tomo con sus propias manos.
Conseguir y juntar los tres tomos existentes hasta ahora es una tarea casi imposible. Su distribución es inexistente. Dos tomos están agotados y ninguno cuenta con un índice onomástico funcional. La búsqueda de una referencia en esa enorme obra es imposible, sin antes saber la fecha. Adicionalmente, quedó más que evidente que los tres tomos pioneros estaban en urgente necesidad de una revisión minuciosa, integral, idónea, auxiliada por las nuevas herramientas cibernéticas e Internet, disponibles hoy para búsqueda y cotejo de datos, fechas, lugares y nombres. Además, la publicación de la obra completa había quedado truncada, pues faltaba el cuarto tomo.
Plantear en las actuales circunstancias la publicación completa de los cuatro tomos era algo descabellado; que fuera hecha por una universidad pública naciente, estrangulada económicamente por los ataques feroces contra la educación, salud y seguridad públicas, era una locura imposible.
El poeta León Felipe, exiliado en México, escribió alguna vez que en España faltaban locos (como Don Quixote), que todo mundo estaba terriblemente cuerdo, refiriéndose a la vida social en el nacional-catolicismo y fascismo españoles. Este plantel de la UACM es la sede, al menos de dos locuras quixotescas hechas realidad vertiginosamente: CAMeNA-Archivo Selser-Ventura, consultable en línea y conformado según estándares internacionales, y la edición y publicación de la obra completa Cronología de las intervenciones extranjeras (1776-1990) de Gregorio Selser en cuatro tomos. Pero hay dos pequeñas sorpresas más: la publicación de la obra completa en un DVD (Tomo V), lo que permite la consulta y búsqueda electrónicas de cualquier dato, y la puesta en venta de este tomo a bajo costo, accesible a un público interesado inmensamente amplio, incluyendo al estudiantado.
Poco antes de morir, Selser ponderaba finalmente qué título ponerle a la obra que rebasa límites y no cabe estrictamente en género alguno. Era a primera vista una cronología, pero a la vez una enciclopedia. Era una enciclopedia, pero ordenada cronológicamente. Pero era algo más, pues contenía reflexiones, síntesis y contextualizaciones que no corresponden comúnmente ni a una cronología, ni a una enciclopedia. Finalmente Selser había optado por un título fácilmente aprehensible y que, en un primer plano, caracteriza la obra: Cronología de las intervenciones extranjeras en América Latina (1776-1990).
Está dividida en cuatro periodos históricos: desde la fundación de Estados Unidos en 1776 a la guerra contra México de 1848 (Tomo I); de 1849 a la guerra contra España de 1898 (Tomo II); de 1899 al fin de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en 1945 (Tomo III); de 1946, creación del orden imperial de la posguerra, hasta el fin de la Guerra Fría y la invasión contra Panamá del 20 de diciembre de 1989 (Tomo IV).
El autor dejó el Tomo IV inconcluso al morir. Ana María Sacristán, editora responsable del proyecto editorial de CAMeNA y creadora del concepto editorial de la Cronología integral en cinco tomos con nuevos prólogos y herramientas, rescató y reconstruyó los archivos del Tomo IV, capturados años atrás, los limpió de basura cibernética y los ordenó cronológicamente. Guillermo Fernández Ampié, historiador, apoyó con la revisión histórica, corrección y edición. Fue necesario sumergirse en los tres tomos anteriores, revisarlos minuciosamente, corregir infinidad de erratas y adentrarse en la lógica y espíritu del autor, para finalmente volver y concluir la edición del Tomo IV en sintonía con los anteriores, dejándolo tal y como su autor lo había dejado: inconcluso.
Esta voluminosa obra sobre América Latina, cuyo leitmotiv son las intervenciones extra continentales y de Estados Unidos contra ella desde el día en que nació esta potencia hasta el Blitzkrieg contra Panamá el 20 de diciembre de 1989, es única, no sólo por su alcance, sino por su originalidad. Ninguna persona estudiosa de la política internacional hemisférica podrá prescindir de ella por su riqueza enciclopédica, por la manera en que ordena y contextualiza los datos y documentos in extenso reproducidos. Es una obra de consulta invaluable, imprescindible y, a la vez, mucho más que eso: es el museo de las intervenciones extranjeras en América Latina construido paciente y meticulosamente por Selser durante más de treinta años; un museo que esclarece e invita a descubrir y rememorar, y en cada nueva visita a configurar una nueva comprensión, revisión y reinterpretación de los datos, acontecimientos históricos y su interconexión.
Es necesario dejar asentado para el registro histórico que diskettes que contenían un fragmento capturado del Tomo I fueron copiados, y su contenido apareció misteriosamente publicado en bruto, en versión pirata hecha al vapor, plagada de erratas, en Alemania(¡!) con el título de “Enciclopedia”, obra de cuatro (¡!) autores: Gregorio Selser, Klaus Meyer, Bruni Höfer y Alvaro Garcia, Enciclopedia de las intervenciones extranjeras en América Latina, Monimbó, e.V., Dietzenbach, 1992: (ISBN: 9783891441350). Muchas bibliotecas estadunidenses y europeas lo adquirieron y aparece en los acervos.
Igualmente necesario para el registro histórico es dejar asentado que Marta Ventura, al final de la década de los 90, accedió a prestar los originales del cuarto tomo al Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades (CIICH) de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. El Tomo IV desapareció y sigue desaparecido hasta el día de hoy; tanto los originales que tan celosamente cuidaba Selser, como los diskettes. Es sólo gracias a los diskettes de respaldo que Marta Selser había hecho por precaución que fue posible, con mucho trabajo, como ya mencionado, rescatar y reconstruir ese tomo, mas no cotejar, en caso de alguna duda, contra los tiposcritos originales. Sigue abierta la pregunta: ¿Dónde están los papeles originales? ¿Quién se los apropió? Uno o ambos directores de entonces, Pablo González Casanova y su sucesor, Daniel Cazés, en su capacidad de titulares del Centro, le deben hasta el día de hoy una explicación a Marta Ventura y al mundo de las ciencias sociales de América Latina.
Al presentar el Tomo I de la Cronología póstuma de Selser en 1995, Sergio Bagú dijo que era “lo que podríamos llamar una obra magistral” que “quedará como una obra monumental de referencia; una especie de reconstrucción metódica y precisa de la ‘columna vertebral’ de la historia de los pueblos latinoamericanos […] Una obra cuyo valor histórico y cuya proyección en la formación de una conciencia continental son verdaderamente excepcionales4”.
“Lo que quiso Gregorio Selser –acotó Bagú– fue reconstruir un hilo histórico que transcurre a lo largo de más de dos siglos, durante los cuales los países latinoamericanos han debido soportar la intervención directa de potencias extra continentales, europeas, y de Estados Unidos.” En la Cronología de Selser, aseveró Bagú, “está el germen preciso de una historia global de los países latinoamericanos, cuyo nexo de unión está dado en este caso por las invasiones. Aquí América Latina se presenta como una unidad […] como un conjunto de países que tienen algún nexo subterráneo muy estrecho, y una historia que tiene rasgos comunes fundamentales.”
Bagú se preguntó, “¿cómo pudo ser afrontada una obra de esta magnitud por un solo autor? Normalmente esto es una tarea de conjunto, de varios autores, de institutos completos.” Fue posible, contestó, porque Selser contaba con “un orden mental muy riguroso […] orden que tiene que estar apoyado por un archivo que uno llamaría perfecto. Sin ese archivo perfecto de los datos, este intento de cronología se podría haber transformado en un verdadero caos, porque es bastante aventurado querer reconstruir la historia de tantos países latinoamericanos desde el punto de vista de las intervenciones extranjeras a lo largo de más de un siglo, siglo y medio, dos siglos.”
Todos los libros de Selser, sustentados en una cantidad colosal de datos desenterrados por él, buscaban esclarecer el pasado y un presente, en perpetuo flujo e imposible de atrapar, para incidir en el futuro, proporcionando herramientas esclarecedoras a una lucha social emancipadora, sustentada en los derechos humanos universales. Era un proceso dinámico de análisis permanente en al menos dos planos:
1. Sólo al esclarecer el pasado (investigación histórica) era posible echar luz sobre las raíces del devenir del presente. En otras palabras, el conocimiento histórico ilustrado era la premisa sine qua non para intentar esclarecer cualquier acontecimiento en el presente. Cada evento de este acontecer que Selser tomaba para su nota periodística diaria era previamente seleccionado con ojo de historiador, y era ubicado con precisión en su contexto histórico allí mismo, en una nota periodística, o en algún ensayo.
2. Simultáneamente, ante el caos masivo del flujo de los eventos cotidianos, Selser en su función de periodista seleccionaba, identificaba, documentaba y elaboraba aquellos que, desde la perspectiva de colocarse él en la óptica de un historiador viviendo muchas décadas a futuro, pudiera encontrar relevante que hubieran quedado en el registro histórico por su valor esclarecedor.
Mnemósyne (Memoria) es la madre de las musas; entre ellas, Clío. Sin ellas la vida social retorna al estado salvaje. En contra de Memoria y sus hijas civilizadoras aparecieron las musas falsas, las piérides, hijas de Pieros, quienes con su canto obscurecían todo y acabaron convertidas en urracas. La negación de la memoria y del esclarecimiento conduce a una época obscura y de obscurantismo, al salvajismo.
El esclarecimiento que Selser perseguía a través de sus libros y de sus notas periodísticas diarias iluminaba y, por lo tanto, socavaba el manejo obscuro y manipulativo de interpretación de los acontecimientos cotidianos y de la historia por parte de las urracas: los medios masivos de difusión y la historiografía hegemónica obscurecedora, respectivamente, que apuntalaban –y siguen apuntalando– al imperialismo proveniente desde fuera y el interno, el hispanoamericano, consumado por los conquistadores medieval-tridentistas, de cruz y espada, y sus descendientes; el imperialismo guiado por designio de la Providencia y el “conquistismo” mariano con su compulsión irrefrenable de voracidad subyugadora—los dos brazos asimétricos de una pinza de salvajismo depredador insaciable en dinámica interacción (hasta hoy), que permea toda la vida social liberando todas sus pulsiones necrofílicas, ahogándola en un río infinito de atrocidades sin fin. “El Dorado” es la muerte, diría hoy día el sabio Rey Midas, después de haber aprendido su lección.
La publicación de la Cronología completa es un logro editorial de trascendencia histórica para las ciencias sociales en América Latina. Es un sueño hecho realidad gracias a las locuras románticas, quixotescas, de Beatriz Torres, fundadora de CAMeNA, y a la administración de una universidad que se atrevió, presumible y comprensiblemente, no sin temor, no sólo a dar la oportunidad para que ocurrieran estas locuras, sino para financiarlas en tiempos de la mayor adversidad y de urgentes necesidades.
Lo único que los seres humanos le pueden heredar a sus descendientes para ayudarles en el futuro a entender su presente en flujo perpetuo heracliteano, y a encontrar formas de vida social menos salvajes y atroces, es el seguir convirtiendo a las piérides en urracas, a seguir desplazando la obscuridad con esclarecimiento histórico, con la ayuda de Memoria y sus hijas, en particular Clío. Esta edición completa de la Cronología de Selser es una contribución mayor a esa herencia.
Obra completa y DVD: Gregorio Selser, Cronología de las intervenciones extranjeras en América Latina (1776-1990), cinco tomos (incl. DVD); prólogos de Gregorio Selser (Tomo I), Mónica Toussaint (Tomo II), Andrés Kozel (Tomo III) y Pilar Calveiro (Tomo IV); Centro Académico de la Memoria de Nuestra América (CAMeNA), Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM), México, D.F., 2010, ISBN: 978-607-7798-30-9, 1200.00 pesos m.n.
Tomo V y DVD: Gregorio Selser, El Código de la Cronología de las intervenciones extranjeras en América Latina en DVD con la obra completa, presentación de Gregorio Selser, y prólogos generales de Sergio Bagú, Stephen A. Hasam, John Saxe-Fernández y Horacio Cerutti Guldberg, más el manual de usuario; Centro Académico de la Memoria de Nuestra América (CAMeNA), Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM), México, D.F., 2010, ISBN: 978-607-7798-31-6, 130.00 pesos m.n.