[Marxism] On Bush's reaction to Nuestro Himno

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sat Apr 29 12:34:00 MDT 2006

Jeffrey Thomas Piercy, talking about Bush's reaction to Nuestro Himno, says,
"If the vast majority of people aren't disgusted by this, I give up on

I think there's more than meets the eye here. "Nuestro Himno" has been
soft-pedaled in the way its been presented by its originators, but in
essence, if you understand that Americanism=white/Anglo supremacy, then this
is a direct assault on everything the U.S. flag and national anthem stand
for today, a very surprising development in a way because it is a challenge
not even on a logical or ideological level, but on a cultural, musical,
aesthetic, psychological, even subconscious level. 

It is a symptom of a profound social movement, one with potentially
history-altering consequences, that it challenges not just the ruling
class's policies or even its overall political domination, but also its
ideological, cultural, psychological *hegemony.* This immigrant rights
movement has directly challenged the ruling class's control over the U.S.
flag as a symbol, what it stands for, and now its taken on the national

That masses of people and artists and so on suddenly start doing these
things, even without being fully conscious of the implications and with all
sorts of contradictory elements of consciousness and motives, is an
indication in my view that there has been a profound social rupture at a
very core level. The unchallenged, unconscious assumptions of what this
society is and should be, the "common sense" limits to cultural and
political discourse, suddenly are thrown into question. 

That immigrant workers fighting for their rights against U.S. imperialism
within the United States, have as much or MORE right to claim as their own
the star spangled banner, an artifact handed down from the days when the
young U.S. Republic was fighting British colonialism, that was UNTHINKABLE
two months ago. That is a fact. And the artists involved have said where is
came from: the monster huge nationwide protests on April 10. It was the
interaction of their sensibilities and the changing zeitgeist under the
impact of huge social forces IN MOTION which are destabilizing social
"normalcy" and throwing all kinds of things up for grabs.

If so, Bush's collapse in the polls may have a much deeper meaning,
especially in light of the Democrat's inability to come up with any
alternatives besides a pro-war, pro-border wall Bush lite in Hillary.

It's been the ruling class's inability to RULE on the question of
immigration that's created the opening, the political space for this
movement to emerge.

Six months ago a protest like that projected for May Day would have been
ignored by the radio DJ's and all the news articles: "yeah, sure, a mass
national Latino boycott. Give me some of what you've been smoking, dude." 

Now you've got a half dozen top artists getting together and releasing an
anthem for the movement just four days before the big day, when it will have
maximum impact.

If my hypothesis on the depth of the rupture in ruling class hegemony is
correct, Bush's reaction is exactly right. Much or most of what's going on
has to be declared beyond the pale, too bizarre and offensive to even
mention on the air. They've got to put the lid back on this, not just
politically but socially, culturally, psychologically.

They tried in terms of psychology with the mass deportation raids in a dozen
or two dozen cities a week and a half ago, and it backfired. Yes some
people, many people are scared, they feel vulnerable, especially at
workplaces which by their very nature are enemy territory. But increasingly
that fear is turning into rage, and on Monday we're going to hear it: "We're
mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."

The "backlash" against Nuestro Himno was the instinctive reaction of all the
right-wingers and politiqueros without even hearing the song or realizing
just how truly it is the U.S. national anthem TRANSFORMED into the anthem of
the immigrant rights movement, they're going crazy just from the pure
affront of having people put it into Spanish under these sorts of

How far this can all go is hard to say because it is just in one sector and
because it is quite obvious that it's an extension to the U.S. of a
breakdown in the hegemony of the Washington Consensus around neoliberal
globalization in Latin America that has swept pretty much the entire
Spanish-speaking countries of the continent. And it shows us that
yanquilandia has within it and against it another one of those countries.
And it is also a very direct reaction of the entire Latino community to the
racist proposals of the nativist, know-nothing faction of the Republican
Party, which actually moved before the community did in responding to the
opening created by the ruling class paralysis on immigration policy.

Neither of these affect other sectors of the working people in-country as
directly as it does the Latinos. But there have been other shocks just as
deep, notably Katrina, that have impacted the Black community. Yet whether
other social sectors within the U.S. will ALSO go into motion on anything
like this sort of scale in the short term is open to question, in fact it
isn't even clear in my mind that it is even an open question. 

I hope, I see signs all the time, talk to Black folks and it is quite
evident this has lifted their spirits, reawakened their hopes, even those
who are all confused about the economics of immigration and the policy
proposals will express their admiration for this movement, for it recalls
their own history of struggle, and ir reminds them not just of how hard it
was to come this far, but how far they still they have to go. And it puts
into their mind the most subversive of ideas, the one that's dominated all
these protests in the last month and a half, "Sí se puede." Yes, it can be

It is hard to imagine this level of mobilization having been maintained even
as long as its already been, which is what suggests to me that we've not yet
understood the DEPTH of the movement,  because everything points to May Day
being the biggest actions yet.

But while it is going on the ruling class needs Bush --and all its
politicians-- to at least try to set limits, to contain it, to try to divide
it. So Nuestro Himno has to be crushed. And so does the general strike in
all but name. So the NY Times editorial today and all sorts of "moderate"
vendidos and pitiyanquis are trying to play the role of the firehose, saying
demonstrate, march, do anything, just don't walk out.

When social forces on this sort of scale start going into motion, EVERYTHING
CHANGES. Society is thrown out of equilibrium. Bush isn't being vicious or
stupid nor anything like that, he's doing what he HAS to do to try to
contain this movement and stop its spread. And all the Anglo papers and TV
stations are going to back him on this. That won't really tell us much about
the rest of the U.S. working people because they've not yet awakened,
they're not in motion. 


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