[Marxism] "Abrasive"--to whom?--poemics
JCraven at clark.edu
Thu Jan 5 08:56:35 MST 2006
"Not being a communist is no crime, but calling onself one and not being
one is." Michael Zweig, then of the RCP, URPE Conference 1974 at
"To speak of atrocious crimes in mild language is treason to virtue."
"I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is
there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth,and as
uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think,or
speak,or write with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on
fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife
from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate
her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use
moderation in a cause like the present. I am in ernest-- I will not
equivocate--I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch--and I
will be heard.
(William Lloyd Garrison, 1831, Abolitionist Leader)
No one knows where Norma Guillam's body is right now; some say it is
being held by the Feds purporting to investigate her death as a murder
rather than an "accident". Others say she was simply buried and
Norma Guillam was a Blackfoot woman from the Amskapipiikani (Blackfeet)
Reservation in Browning. She had studied law and passed the bar in
Arizona, but fell in with a bad crowd led by her husband with the result
that she was jailed and disbarred for drug use. After coming out of
prison, she returned to Browning where she took a job as a bookkeeper
and as head of the computer services at the Blackfeet Community College.
She worked quietly but little by little contacted activists about some
serious corruption going on at the Blackfeet Community College (BCC).
Being very expert with computers, she lifted some files that others
thought had been destroyed and reconstructed them. She apparently found
something quite significant, because a week before her death, she
contacted an activist at Browning and told this person that she had
found something important and had to see this person off the Rez. Sadly,
she never made her appointment.
While driving outside of Browning, almost two years ago now, the only
"witness" to Norma's death, a major cocaine dealer at Browning and
someone totally protected by the Tribal powers-that-be, claimed that
"out of nowhere" suddenly her gas tank started leaking, "out of nowhere"
suddenly her car blew up, "out of nowwhere" suddenly her seatbelt
appeared to be jammed, and "out of nowhere" suddenly the car went into a
secondary explosion with the result that her body was blown into pieces.
Numerous people at the Rez protested that she had been murdered although
the initial finding was death by "accident".
I don't know if Norma ever read any Marx or whomever. I know that she
was instinctively an anti-authoritarian and anti-corruption. But she
labored quietly, patiently and methodically, putting her life on the
line and paying with her life for her struggle to clean-up corruption at
Browning. Many thought she had been tamed by prison and was just looking
for a quiet niche and job (she never went to demonstrations or meetings
about corruption). Her death spurred others to stand up, put down their
justifiable fears and join-in the movement in Blackfoot Country to
eliminate corruption, sell-out Indians in power and the whole
exploitative "trustee" relationship between the U.S. and Canadian
governments and the various Indian bands and nations.
Norma never made the news--even her death was considered inconsequential
by the local and state media. But she made a difference and ignited a
spark that is setting more fires than are going on in Wyoming and the
other states; a corrupt Tribal Council--actually several--are under
seige, hundreds have been radicalized to take a stand, and there is a
whole paper trail exposing in very concrete terms, the collaboration
with and-- facilitation of--wholesale corruption and genocide by the
BIA, DIA (in Canada), the FBI, the RCMP and other agencies of the U.S.
and Canadian States.
BTW, Mr. Stan Spotted Wolfe, formerly of the BIA and until recently Head
of Social Services at Browning, accused of serial molestation of many
young girls in a recent letter posted on this list as "Primary Research"
has been removed from his position; sadly, another job has been arranged
for him in Great Falls and the Tribal Council at Browning wanted no
mention made of the allegations against him. Activists at Browning are
collecting documentation to see to it that his accusers have their
accusations fully and publicly heard and that he is properly dealt with
This is more than reformism. Courage brings in numbers, and numbers may
help others stand up and demonstrate their own courage. In this sense
and in other senses, demonstrations are important and can be and often
are vehicles for consciousness raising. But the blood of activists and
non-activists who may be "collateral damage" is precious and must never
be wasted with simple-minded, ill-thought-out, theatrical, narcissistic
and infantile adventurism masquerading as "activism" or "propaganda of
Absolutely there are many errors, sins and outright crimes that have
taken place under the banner of "Marxism" or "Marxism-Leninism."; the
same can be said about a whole lot of other "isms". But before we write
off the left or summarily--and arrogantly--declare the left or Marxism
dead, based on the numbers of listees on various "radical lists", it is
important to note that all over the world are some laboring very
quietly, risking their career and lives to expose and combat the forms
of corruption and genocide that flow inexorably from the inner and
defining features and "logic" of capitalism; some might not even
explicitly call themselves "anti-capitalist" or Marxists, but they are
helping to expose the system and its ugly and inexorable features and
Prior to our Blackfoot Tribunal, I was tasked by the leadership to
investigate the backgrounds of several non-Indians who had made
inquiries seeking to attend (the sensitive nature of the testimonies and
the extent of intimidation by the State made this necessary; and it is
routine for all dealings with Indians and non-Indians alike.) In a
couple of cases, all I could come up with, via the moccasin telegraph
service, was that so and so was at such and such demonstration and said
such and such there; perhaps was even a keynote speaker. One of our
Elders said me: "So what? We have spies and sell-outs mingled-in at all
of our demonstrations; the RCMP are also at all of our demonstrations
and actions...What has this person actually DONE over time with those we
can trust and who have good reason to vouch for him or her..." It was
very wise counsel from someone who no doubt has never read Marx or Lenin
Finally, as an anthem for some of the more theatrical, adventuristic and
just plain infantile anarchists, I nominate Queen's "I Want It All and I
Want It Now."
About fifteen minutes ago or so, I just arrived from Vancouver, BC and
as I walked into my apartment, the phone rang. It was someone from
Browning informing me that my dear friend and comrade in arms, Kathleen
Fleurry, had been found hanged in a closet in her house in Helena; she
had been dead for about a week.
Kathleen, a proud and determined Native woman, from the Turtle Mountain
Band of the Chippewa, had been a tribal lawyer for the Blackfeet Tribe
in Browning who had been driven out of her position at Browning, out of
standing in the Montana Bar and out of Browning after she refused to do
corruption, had exposed corruption and those who sought to make her a
part of it. Kathleen would work pro bono for the poorest of the poor
often taking flack from other Tribal "lawyers" who were corrupt for her
work with and for the poor.
Kathleen's ex-husband is a white lawyer for the Crowley Law Firm one of
the most powerful in Montana; a law firm from which the U.S. Attorneys
and Judges in Montana routinely come. Kathleen had alleged that her
children had been abused by her ex-husband in various ways, and having
shared custody of her children, when the children allegedly expressed
fear of returning to their father, Kathleen took them across the
Canadian Border to Saskatchewan; she was subsequently charged with
kidnapping her own children (later changed to custodial interference)
and despite pleas by the children that they not be returned, and without
investigating the claims of Kathleen and her children, Kathleen became a
fugitive which gave the Blackfeet Tribe all the excuse they needed to
fire her and marginalize/demonize her. I arranged for a place for her to
stay in Vancouver, BC so that she could prepare her defense and hide
from further retaliation; she stayed there for about four months until
she was grabbed and returned to Montana. Seeing all of the shit that
would come out about her ex-husband, a plea agreement further reduced
the charges against her and she was given a suspension from law practice
but not loss of license. She felt that given the power and influence of
her ex-husband's law firm she had no chance at anything resembling a
fair trial in Montana.
I guess it could have been suicide but I'm not buying it as although she
had been depressed, she was back practicing law and her punishments had
been completed. Further, she left a box of documents about the Blackfeet
Tribe and certain individuals in power in it hidden and told me that if
she was ever found dead, to get that box of documents and begin to work
with the documents in it; this I plan to do immediately. As of yet, her
death has not been ruled suicide and it should be noted that several
other activists or people with "dangerous knowledge" at Browning were
also found hanged, made to look like they had committed suicide, and
where later litigation revealed that they were murdered and it was made
to look like suicide.
The world just lost a courageous activist, a true freedom fighter, a
kind and compassionate person and a proud Chippewa woman. I just lost a
dear friend and comrade in arms and I will not forget it or rest until
the real reasons and sources of her death are exposed along with the
documents she left to be carried on.
Her death was truly "weightier than Mount Tai". Please remember her.
Apolitical Intellectuals [and House Radicals]
Otto Rene Castillo
of my country
will be interrogated
by the simplest
of our people.
They will be asked
what they did
when their nation died out
like a sweet fire
small and alone.
No one will ask them
about their dress,
their long siestas
no one will want to know
about their sterile combats
with "the idea
of the nothing"
no one will care about
their higher financial learning.
They won't be questioned
on Greek mythology,
or regarding their self-disgust
when someone within them
begins to die
the coward's death.
They'll be asked nothing
about their absurd
born in the shadow
of the total life.
On that day
the simple people will come.
Those who had no place
in the books and poems
of the apolitical intellectuals,
but daily delivered
their bread and milk,
their tortillas and eggs,
those who drove their cars,
who cared for their dogs and gardens
and worked for them,
and they'll ask:
"What did you do when the poor
suffered, when tenderness
burned out of them?"
of my sweet country,
you will not be able to answer.
A vulture of silence
will eat your gut.
Your own misery
will pick at your soul.
And you will be mute in your shame.
Otto Rene Castillo, born 1936, was a Guatemalan revolutionary, a
guerrilla fighter, and a poet. Following the 1954 CIA-sponsored coup
that overthrew the democratic Arbenz government, Castillo went into
exile in El Salvador, where he met Roque Dalton and other writers who
helped him publish his early works. When the dictator Armas died in 1957
he returned to Guatemala and in 1959 went to the German Democratic
Republic to study, where he received a Masters degree. Castillo returned
to Guatemala in 1964 and became active in the Workers Party, founded the
Experimental Theater of the Capital City Municipality, and wrote and
published numerous poems. That same year, he was arrested but managed to
escape, going into exile once again, this time in Europe. Later that
year he went back to Guatemala secretly and joined one of the armed
guerilla movements operating in the Zacapa mountains. In 1967, Castillo
and other revolutionary fighters were captured; he, along with his
comrades and some local campesinos, were brutally tortured and then
James M. Craven
Blackfoot Name: Omahkohkiaayo-i'poyi
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