[Marxism] Camp Casey and the ISO literature table

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Aug 22 12:48:31 MDT 2005

Counterpunch, August 22, 2005
Raw Talk Revival
The Listening Post at Camp Casey Two


If by socialism you mean the kind of world that officers' kids enjoy, then 
I'm pretty much for it. It's the kind of world I grew up in. Free health 
care, pretty good job security, cheap movies (that I could afford to attend 
every night in a row), swimming pools, bowling alleys, shooting ranges, 
craft shops, safe streets, and no private property to speak of. The 
toughest day on base was the day you "cleared quarters", when a soldier 
with clipboard would come to your house and tell you whether you had to 
spend another day scrubbing the most out-of-way corners of your home so 
that it could be turned over to the next family. Of course, if you passed 
that dreaded inspection, you were off to see the world, living somewhere 
far away in quarters recently cleared.

So I have spent the better part of a day trying to figure out what is 
making me feel so anxious throughout my body as I think about the day the 
socialists got kicked out of Camp Casey Two, arrested actually for the 
crime of not having better relations with the camp's organizers. Like me, 
some of these camp organizers have learned their socialism in ordinary 
places and have fully enjoyed the writings of great socialist thinkers such 
as Karl Marx.

In fact, the first place I found "the best of Karl Marx" was on my 
grandfather's very short bookshelf, in his study at the back of that 
beloved home in Highland Park, Texas. His name was Russell Moses and I was 
named after him, although from an early age everybody decided it would be 
better if people used my middle name so as not to confuse me with him. But 
like I say, the bookshelf was very short, and right beside the Reader's 
Digest anthologies, grandpa kept an anthology of Marx.

I don't know how America got to be so juvenile since then, but there was a 
time when a Southern boy with one glass eye could go to West Point, get a 
good job in the Army, retire as a Colonel, dedicate his retirement to 
teaching, vote as a Lincoln Republican, and die in East Texas with a mind 
open enough to see that Marx is simply one of the best reads going. I mean, 
even if your only interest is quality writing, why would you not have some 
affection for good ol' Karl right next to (because it's never in) the best 
of Reader's Digest. Too bad grandpa died before I finally re-read Marx more 
thoroughly. We might have had a quite wonderful chat about that. In terms 
of pure writing, I'd have asked grandpa if he'd ever read Adorno.

 From the very beginning of the post 9/11 debacle, socialists have been 
quite reliable opponents of the Bush juggernaut. They predicted more or 
less where this was all heading, and they hit the streets early hollering 
about it. Some of my best sources of news these past years have come from 
lists organized by socialists. Moms of dead or endangered soldiers might 
find out they have more in common with socialists than they would otherwise 
think. So I hope the parties work something out. In terms of world history, 
America is sadly missing out on the great secret that socialism is a 
mainstream movement, adopted by base commanders everywhere as the best way 
for officer's kids to be raised. Not to mention land grant universities 
such as my alma mater, Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, when Cindy Sheehan attempted to re-center herself at ground zero 
of a peace tornado that blew up overnight over the Texas prairie, she 
pointed our browsers to lewrockwell.com, which is not socialist but 
libertarian. In Texas, if a libertarian stands a far better chance than 
does a socialist of coming out and not getting beat up, it has nothing to 
do with anyone's considered opinion of the issues. It's just the way our 
contradictions work down here. But libertarians also have been pretty 
reliable opponents of the so-called war on terror and right up until 
Saturday, even in Texas, the libertarians and socialists have stood in 
solidarity against the extremist initiatives of the Bush administration. 
Now is not the time for either side to provoke a sectarian sideshow.

If the ISO would consider it, a simple compromise may be possible. Do your 
tabling on the county road at Camp Casey One. It is public property. You 
have as much right as anyone else to be there. Even libertarians must agree 
with that. Plus, you've worked as hard against the war as anyone and for 
just as long if not longer. Showcase your own veterans. If PETA could work 
something out in the middle of all these meat farms; then it can be done. 
And if you need a volunteer next weekend, give me a call and a ride from 
Austin. I'm not (nor have I ever been) a member of the ISO, but I've always 
enjoyed your book tables.

Now if you'll just bear with me for another 860 words, I'd like to tell you 
about Saturday night under the big tent. The libertarians were there of 
course, and the Democrats, the carnivores and the vegans, I can't imagine 
that some Republicans didn't sneak their way in to find out how to keep 
their kids and partners from being killed. And if we must know, the 
radicals were there too, even long after the arrests, even if they were not 
pushing those sectarian newspapers that you see at nearly every public 
rally these days, yes Virginia, even in Texas.

Our homespun sage Steve Earle said at the end of the evening (and this much 
has been previously reported) that we have to do two things: proceed with 
respect for others, that's number one. And second, we have to respect our 
own views of things by refusing to self-censor. In this age of emerging 
transparency, nobody hides for very long anyway. Why get caught trying?

And I think this need for raw honesty was the artistic motivation for why 
James McMurtry played his Oklahoma tom-tom song (the same one covered so 
well, so well on Ray Wylie Hubbard's new CD). This just ain't the time to 
sing like we're living in Disneyland. Just as slick talk and censorship got 
us into this godawful butchery, raw talk is going to cut the path that gets 
us out. Under the listening tent, we have to put it just the way we feel.

On stage Saturday night under the listening tent, although I can't find 
news of it anywhere, not even in the so-called alternative press, there was 
a long line of emissaries from military families, including Iraq veterans 
themselves, all of them bringing open messages from within the ranks of the 
military. Fight like hell to end this war! That's what they want us to do 
for them. That's what we have to do anyway. So there are a lot of people, 
them and us included, who we cannot afford to let down.

My personal favorite was Eddie Boyd who on Friday flew all the way down 
from Baltimore and who Sunday would be flying all the way back in order to 
try and keep his job. When they asked if anybody wanted to speak from stage 
he said hell yes I do, and he said it plain. He said:

"I was one of those guys who fell for the con. I was one of those guys who 
believed we were out to defend democracy and bring freedom to Iraq. Besides 
in the neighborhood where I come from, there were not too many options. 
Eight out of ten of my best friends back home died from a life of crime." 
(Back in his neighborhood, kids weren't treated like officer's kids.) Eddie 
was at Camp Casey to support Sister Sheehan and he wanted us to know that 
there are lots of honest, hard working people who feel this war is insane.

"And do you want to know what terrorism is?" asked Eddie. "Terrorism is 
being the richest nation on earth and letting 43 million people go without 
health care. Terrorism is giving money to large corporations for contracts 
in Iraq while refusing to put money into schools and hospitals. In 
Baltimore cameras are watching you 24 hours a day, and they say they are 
protecting our rights. They say they're fighting for your right to speak. 
But ever since this war started I got less and less rights. I'm pissed off 
at this administration."

"Right over there," says Eddie pointing next door. "Is a president on 
Va-Ca-Tion! We've got wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the 
Philippines and other places. And this man," says Eddie pointing, "decides 
to go on vacation! Today the line must be drawn."

"When I came back from Iraq my mom could not understand where I was. Yes, 
physically I was all right. But mentally and spiritually I was dead. If we 
love our kids so much why don't we keep them from putting on uniforms?"

"And what about the female soldiers who get into the military and face 
sexual harassment and assault. Don't they too deserve every right to live 
in peace? If you want to find a terrorist, look at 1600 Pennsylvania 
Avenue, that's where the terrorist lives! And we need to do something about 
it!" As I scribble to keep up best I can, I think, Eddie Boyd has earned 
the right to say these things, and he has already paid too high a price. 
Will he be able to keep his job after all in the land of the free?

I take notes on sheets of paper folded into eight squares, which is sixteen 
squares of notes per sheet, if you count both sides. What I have just 
reported from Eddie Boyd is three and a half squares of notes from a 
24-square evening of speeches. And I'm not finding any of this stuff 
online. Socialists looking for something to do? Why not come here and 
listen? With all due respect for those who bring literature, there is a 
crying need in the world today to get the words spoken from this tent out. 
What do you think Marx would be doing out here? Reading or writing?

Greg Moses is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of 
Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of 
Nonviolence. His chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush appears in 
Dime's Worth of Difference, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. 
Clair. He can be reached at: gmosesx at prodigy.net



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