Guns, Nukes, and Other Forms of Nonviolent Marxist Protest

[Fred, through a mutual friend, meets Juan to get a first hand view of Latin American Philosophy.]

Fred: Hola! ¿Fred? Yo te quiero hablar acerca de la filosofia latinoamericana-

Juan: -Che loco! ¿Como te va?

Fred: Ando re-bien. ¿Y vos?

Juan: Bien. bien. ¿De donde sos vos?

Fred: ¿Yo? Yo soy de norteamerica.

Juan: ¿Norteamerica? Yo pensè que - you were Hispanic. American, eh. I guess you'll want me to speak English to you. All you self-centered Americans are destroying our Latin culture.

Fred: Pero, ¿Por què no podemos hablar el castellano? Me encanta hablar así.

Juan: Yeah, but my English is a lot better than your Spanish.

Fred: Pero, ¿como voy a mejorar mi castellano si no hablo?

Juan: How I did it! Brute force. You guys just think your society is better than ours. Well, I have news for you. I'm perfectly fluent in your language, AND my language. My whole family is Argentine, but we've also lived in your country a goo d number of years. I've learned both languages.

Fred: ¡Que bueno! Esto te va a ayudar mucho. Vas a poder encontrar muchos trabajos que no podieras haber encontrado si no supieras el castellano y el ingles.

Juan: Yeah, but look at my last name: Hernandez. It just has Mexican written all over it. And I'm not even Mexican! By golly, I'm white! Sure, I have dark skin, but blonde hair, light brown eyes; I have almost pure European ancestry. I 'm even more European than a lot of the people in North America. Why do they discriminate just because of the last name?

Fred: It's all right Juan. Calm down a little. You know your first name is pretty darn Mexican sounding, too. All right. All right. I'll end that subject. But hey, we're supposed to be talking about Latin American philosophy here. Not just the culture.

Juan: But don't you see? The culture is the very factor that inhibits the development of a distinct Latin American philosophy! We Latinos are just plain vagos. We're lazy bums! We'll never be able to have our distinct philosophy for tha t very reason. Haven't you ever hear that joke down in Argentina. It talks about all the greatest and perfection God created in Argentina: the Iguazu falls, the mountains of Mendoza, the beauty of Bariloche, etc. Then one remarks about something so per fect. Such a great country. How could something so perfect be here on earth. Well, He saw that too, and for thus created Argentines.

Fred: Hmm. I think I've heard that one before. But, it would sound a lot better if you actually told it instead of simply telling me about it. You know, you Latinos, are usually great story-tellers.

Juan: There you are again. Over-generalizing. Saying things like "You Latinos" You're lumping me together with those nasty Mexicans again. Well I have news for you, I have about as much in common with Mexicans as you have with Jamaicans! Mayb e we share a few common idiomatic threads; but we do not belong to the same culture. Argentines are much more advanced. We're closer to 1st world than any other Latin American country.

Fred: But what does that have to do with philosophy?

Juan: Well it has a lot to do with our Latin American Ideology. That's the layman's equivalent of philosophy, ¿no? Anyway. We're relaxed creatures. We don't like it when people start to make a big fuss about nothing. Look at you North America ns: Always talking about junk like animal rights, racism, etc. Honestly, why do you bother worrying about animal's rights when you have millions of people living in the streets? At least here they have houses. But you guys go by condemning and destroyi ng the poor-man's house.

Fred: But you have some of biggest problems with racism down there -

Juan: Us, racist? Hah! You're the racists. Look at you guys you have Asians, Morochos, blacks, and whites that wont even touch each other! We're much more open.

Fred: But you hardly even have black people there!

Juan: You wanna know why? Check out the basketball players that come from the U.S. They come, play a little basketball, try to pick up a chick or two. Then, bam, she's pregnant, and they're married. Is she a black girl? Of course not. Usuall y, she comes from among the blondest. Their son is now only half-black. Within a couple of generations, the kids might even make it back to the blonde realm. We don't have to worry about racism because we're homogeneous.

Fred: So you would like that your daughter marry a black man?

Juan: Heck no! I don't want my daughter going anywhere near those guys.

Fred: But didn't you just say that that's what you did to eliminate racism in your country?

Juan: Sure, that's what the country does - usually the lower-class types. However, I, as one of the higher members of society cannot permit it to happen. Just think of the stigma attached to a brown baby. I almost had to disown my son after he married that Indian woman. Luckily, their first daughter had my eyes. Still, it's a grand risk.

Fred: Sounds like you really do have a grand problem with racism.

Juan: No. You have a problem with racism. We just keep with common sense. If you're Jew, marry a Jew; if you're Muslim, marry a Muslim. Not a whole lot of problems here.

Fred: But didn't you just say that you eliminated racism by cross-cultural marriages?

Juan: Sure. Sometimes people can marry in different cultures. However, that happens more often in the underclasses - those that have nothing to lose. In my class, we need to keep our blood running pure. The important thing is that the socie ty does not directly impede the cross-cultural marriage. You guys couldn't even go near someone of a different race. However, we do have the freedom. However, I, personally prefer to stay within my own race.

Fred: But doesn't that make you racist?

Juan: I don't see you going out and marrying a black chick. You North Americans wont even think about touching people just because they have a Spanish last name. However, we Latin Americans much more freely make the jump to marry Italians, Germa ns, and more. Love is the most important attribute. However, love for the family is also very important. If I had two girlfriends, one Argentine, and one Ethiopian, I would chose to marry the Argentine because that would make my family happier. You Am ericans, however, have no ties to your family. Just check out your television shows. You destroy the family.-

Fred: -American television shows do not represent the American public - they just represent the warped views of a few deranged producers and writers.... In fact, I would say that your Argentine shows are a lot better than our American productions . I love how they take place outdoors, and seem to be more in the open air, and more realistic. Also, they tend to have great soundtracks; and, the Argentine girls - wow! they just can't be beat. Those beautiful bodies, those eyes - I love the clear b rown---

Juan: We do have the worlds best looking girls! I'm glad someone appreciates the Argentine TV. It seems a great number of our own people go on badmouthing the national art while praising the American trash. It must just be a ploy by North Ameri ca to take over this part of the world. But it wont work! You Americans just think you can go in and inflict your ideas all around the world! You think you have a patent on the truth. Well, I have news for you! You don't ! You can just take your Ter minator 2, your Guns 'n Roses, your snickers, and all your darn American stuff back home.

Fred: Dude, chill! I was just mentioning what I liked about your country! In fact, I like your country a lot better than I like it up here.

Juan: Really? Well, I guess you can only go so long without dulce de leche, mate, and alfajores. And here, we do have some of the best land, the best food. If only we weren't such slaves to the rest of the world. We don't have to be. We have a great history, a great liberator in San Martin, and so much greatness. Why do we have to have sop many problems? Why can't he have a stable government with plenty of jobs and low inflation?

Fred: That has been a problem throughout Latin America. One day there's a stable economy. One day there's no inflation. One day there's democracy. One day the economy is growing with jobs for all. However everything never seems to last togeth er for a long time.

Juan: Why the big deal with democracy? Just because it worked well for you Americans doesn't mean that its the best thing for everyone in the world.

Fred: Well it has worked well in the U.S. and Europe. Communism has failed miserably in Russia and Europe, and the remaining communist strongholds are extremely week.

Juan: But look at capitalism - it seems to do nothing but help the rich to get richer while the poor are getting abused. The Lenin brand of Communism that we had in the world was so heavily removed from the true version that Marx had in mind when we wrote the Communist Manifesto.

Fred: Don't tell me you actually read that stuff.

Juan: Why of course!

Fred: Marx was full of it. Capitalism is the way to go.

Juan: Have you ever read Marx?

Fred: No

Juan: Well, then, how can you rag on him like that? Actually every capitalist should read Marx.

Fred: Why should we bother if we already know we don't like it.

Juan: How do you know you don't like it.

Fred: Well, it's quite obvious. Just look at what communism has caused. Look at Castro in Cuba. Look at the oppressive societies that have formed using communism as their base. I don't have to read Marx to know he was nothing more than an agit ated old man with boils on his butt.

Juan: You sure are a testy one. But hey, I guess it comes with your national origin. The British were always the uptight snobby ones.

Fred: And the Spanish were always lazy bums.

Juan: All right dude. Chill out. You know, if you capitalists would just read Marx, it would help you out a lot! Look at all his critiques of capitalism. If you could just find a way to correct them, you could probably stall the inevitable com mencement of communism that you so deeply fear. However, it appears that you just are not willing to take upon yourself anything remotely intellectually challenging or stimulating. But, hey, your just a North American. You're already right.

Fred: I never said I was perfect.

Juan: But you did say you were too good to read Marx.

Fred: I just said I've never read him, and that I never want to. I'm convinced that capitalism is the way to go.

Juan: You need to check out what you're saying. Look at all the evils capitalism has caused. Look at the heavily divided class-based society that it has created. Now, even when we have supposed economic upturns, it is solely the upper class tha t benefits. The poor just stay poorer. In fact, if you would read Marx, you would realize that the only way for a capitalistic society to function is for it continually invert more capital, and the only way to invest more capital is to create it, and the only way to create more capital is by increasing the profit on the goods sold, and the only way to do that is by either raising prices or cutting costs. And, because of competition, it is impossible to raise prices. Thus, capitalists are for ced to cut costs. And, since all costs of production, either directly or indirectly, are derived from costs of labor, the only way to cut costs is to cut wages. Thus, in a capitalist society, wages are continually cut while production is cont inually increased. Now, what happens when production is increased while purchasing power is decreased? It doesn't take a Harvard MBA to figure that one out. Inventories will rise. Companies will go out of business. Capitalism is doomed to self-des truct.-

Fred: -Now wait a second. Look at the USA - Production has increased. Worker's income has increased. The entire economy has improved.-

Juan: -WAIT! I'm not finished with my lecture. Now on to the good part - the launching of communism. Eventually, capitalism will self-destruct. However, in the process it has brought much technology to the labor force. Thus, just about anyone can pick to work in what they want. In this state, the entire class-based society can be overthrown. People can engage in the activities that they desire. They can enjoy the pleasure of work, instead of the drudgery of being forced to do someth ing that they don't want to do. Production of all required goods will be abundant. People will be content with what they have. They will be doing work they enjoy, they will be able to take of all their necessities from the production pool. There will be no necessity of government, laws, or money. Everyone will be happy because they choose to do so. We'll live in a kind of Utopia.

Fred: That sure isn't what happened in Cuba or Russia.

Juan: Their communism had so many perversions from the true Marxist version that you can hardly call it communism. If you would just open your mind and read the opposition literature you would know that....-

Fred: -I'll cut you a deal. I'll read Marx if you check out some of Keynes' work. You can see by his economics that the exchange is the true important element for economic growth. Thus with the constant reinvestment of capital, the entir e economy grows and consumer purchasing power increases.

Juan: Yikes. I never thought of that perspective. However, it does seem to be just a temporary increase that does nothing more than stall the inevitable collapse of the capitalist institution. Check out the reality in Latin America. Here in Ar gentina we have now established our most democratic, capitalistic regime. We have had 3 free elections in a row for the first time in who knows how long. We have liberated many of the once government hold institutions such as railroads and telephones, a nd sold them to private sector interests. We have grown to become one of the most capitalist states. Perhaps even more free-market oriented than the United States. We even have a stable currency worth just a bit more than the dollar. However, with all these 'great' capitalistic inroads, where are we know? We're in the middle of one of our biggest recessions. We're suffering from huge unemployment. Our workers are being exploited. It is not a pretty situation.

Fred: Just give it time and patience. Eventually capitalism will work.

Juan: Maybe, but I doubt out. I think our officials are just a little bit full of this 'capitalism is great' rhetoric. Capitalism has done absolutely nothing for Latin America.

Fred: Don't be so harsh. I'm sure it's done plenty.

Juan: Sure. It's done plenty. It's made the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Fred: O.K. You seem to have a much different perspective than I do. Are you going to take me up on my offer.

Juan: Sure. Marx's writings will sure enlighten your thought processes. But, read him with an open mind.

Fred: O.K. Will do. And you?

Juan: Sure. Will do. If you'll excuse me now, I need to meet my wife for a special date tonight.

Fred: But wait! What about Latin American Philosophy? We haven't even touched on Liberation Theology, Objectivism, Positivism -

Juan: -Oh well. I doubt even 10% of us Argentines even know what those words mean. But it doesn't matter. We're too preoccupied with our own basic necessities to worry about Positivism. And hey, did you see the religion section last Saturday? The priests are getting further and further away from politics. Liberation Theology as we know it is changing. But hey, right now, must of us are so worried about finding a job and getting food on the table, that we really don't have any time to delve into esoteric philosophies. We care about the results. It doesn't really matter where the idea comes from. We just want action. Even the best philosophy is totally useless for us if it doesn't produce results. Maybe you North Americans have the free time to worry about philosophy for philosophy's sake. But for us, we have much more important matters at hand. Besides, my wife has never seen Les Miserables before. I've got to go.

Fred: Oh well. Have a great date. Now-

Juan: -Chau. Nos vemos. [He goes to meet his wife]

Fred: Hold it! What are your opinions on Latin American Philosophy? When can I talk to you? I need to get this done. Oh no. What am I to do. I wonder what alfajores taste like. Maybe I should check out some Latin American music. Hmmm. Oh well. [Yelling to Juan] Adios. Hasta luego.

-[For Latin American Philosophy Class (Dr. Pappas) 11 DEC 1995]