Wednesday, October 13, 2010

che guevera reader: writings on politics & revolution pgs. 72-73

Revolution, in history, is like the doctor assisting at the birth of a new life, who will not use forceps unless necessary, but who will use them unhesitatingly every time labor requires them. It is a labor bringing the hope of a better life to the enslaved and exploited masses.

In many Latin American countries revolution is inevitable. This fact is not determined by the will of any person. It is determined by the horrifying conditions of exploitation under which the Latin American people life, the development of a revolutionary consciousness in the masses, the worldwide crisis of imperialism and the universal liberation movements of the subjugated nations. - from the Second Declaration of Havana (1962)

"We shall begin from this basis to analyze the whole matter of guerilla warfare in Latin America.

We have already established that it is a means of struggle to attain an end. First, our concern is to analyze the end in order to determine whether the winning of power in Latin America can be achieved in ways other than armed struggle.

Peaceful struggle can be carried out through mass movements that compel - in special situations of crisis - governments to yield; thus, the popular forces would eventually take over and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat. Theoretically this is correct. When analyzing this in the Latin American context, we must reach the following conclusions: Generally on this continent objective conditions exist that propel the masses to violent action against their bourgeois and landholding governments. In many countries there are crises of power and also some subjective conditions necessary for revolution. It is clear, of course, that in those countries where all of these conditions are found, it would be criminal not to act to seize power. In other countries where these conditions do not occur, it is right that different alternatives will appear and out of theoretical discussions the tactic suitable to each country should emerge. The only thing history does not allow is that the analysts and executors of proletariat politics be mistaken.

No-one can solicit the role of vanguard party as if it were a diploma given by a university. To be the vanguard party means to be at the forefront of the working class through the struggle for achieving power. It means to know how to guide this fight through shortcuts to victory. This is the mission of our revolutionary parties and the analysis must be profound and exhaustive so that there will be no mistakes." (pgs. 72-73)

How does one integrate "revolution" into pacifism, i.e., at what intersections do Che and Jesus meet together? Furthermore, what does the outworking of this hybrid of passion look like in regards to this relationship?

Recently I've been stirred by the writings and ideology of 'Che' Guevera as is sampled in the above section from the Che Guevera Reader and as a result my conclusions about the medium(s) of liberation are being challenged. I am not saying I choose to adopt violence, per se, but I am interested in the emotion and commitment that compel such physical force.

For the past few years I have been persuaded by a pacifist disposition based on scripture and theology and now I am feeling some of its structural columns begin to shake as I listen to a man who believed more so in the immortality of a cause than his own mortality. Sound familiar?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Coffee Talk

I'm thinking of the book In Over Our Heads by Robert Kegan (while simultaneously thinking about Ernesto 'Che' Guevera for some reason, but) where Kegan talks about levels of thinking which define how and why the individual reacts a particular way within a conversation. For example, I might be listening to you talk about Pizza Hut and I become so angry because you like deep dish pizza and I don't, and this is not just angry...I start spitting and berating you because you won't stop saying "mmmm" while describing their parmesan covered breadsticks!

This conversation illustrates level 2 thinking where there are only 2 immovable participators. 1) Me and 2) You; and both of us are not able to transcend into higher levels of thinking, therefore, we become threatened and angry when our "positions" are different.

Level 3 thinking (and there are at least 4 higher levels) is an interesting transition from level 2 thinking. Back to the Pizza Hut conversation...Let's say every time I think of eating Pizza Hut I get sick. You come to me with a supreme personal pan pizza and start eating it in front of me while asking questions about the ingredients. Instead of remaining in level two thinking and getting agitated and angry, I metaphorically rise up from my position that stands in direct contrast to yours and begin to hover over the conversation as if I'm looking down on myself talking to you. Here, in this level 3 thinking I can detach from my own likes/dislikes and begin to observe and talk about mine and yours from a higher perspective that is not so "stuck" in level 2.

Simply put, level 3 thinking frees up people, groups, organizations, etc., to not feel threatened and pushed around when confronted with differing opinions. Not only is the impending threat abolished but there is also an ability present to engage the likes/dislikes of the "other" without having to change any previous convictions. So, why is this important? Well it relates directly to religion, politics, education, business, and anything else that can become divisive and hurtful. The pervasive amount of pain and suffering felt on behalf of the persons/organizations who are located only in level 2 thinking needs to be addressed and relieved by pulling ideologies out of the trench.

Next time you (and me) are in a conversation and buttons begin to be pushed, detach from simple, emotional reaction and rise above into a fuller understanding of oneself and the other. Be at peace knowing you are not threatened by dialogue and there is distance between a conversation and related convictions. Furthermore, take time to experience the "other" perspective in a way that engages your own in a positive way...allow your conviction(s) to be challenged, questioned, and refined.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"The Future of Creation"

I've been reading from Moltmann's work The Future of Creation and have been challenged by his understanding of what exactly "future" is and is not. In brief, a transcendent future is that which qualitatively changes the crises of "history." What Moltmann means by this is that if we should look around in our experiences of life and locate the suffering, oppression, and negativity currently happening in the world (literal and non-literal), we are presented with a choice. Either we try and manage these situations through a variety of ways, e.g., politics, appeasement, control, self-abnegation, etc., or we can move toward abolishing these very "sufferings" by working towards changing the essence, the quality of the situation.

Moltmann writes, "In what sense, then, can 'future' become a new pattern of transcendence? Only when it becomes the embodiment of the transcending of present conflict and lack of freedom in something qualitatively new. The magic of true transcendence is inherent in the future if that future promises something qualitatively new, which stimulates people to change the 'system' of the present radically; and if in this future something different can be expected which will lead to the altering of the foundations of the present, antagonistic conditions of immanence."

I think it is our job, all of us, to begin taking change seriously. To look at our communities and take seriously ourselves and others who are under oppression whether it be socially, economically, personally, and spiritually and start coming together and working towards "freedom;" a qualitatively new freedom, i.e., transcendent future.

I am reminded of Christoph Blumhardts assertion which, related to this proposition, might read "It's easy to believe in God but to make things different, to walk in freedom, requires a serious commitment." It is risky. It will require sacrifice. We may not know what this looks like right now but we can put the proposition in the hands of those who are suffering and listen to what this transcendent future might look like from a different perspective.