NGO VAN : On Third World Struggles
WARD KELLEY : Trying Not to Splash
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GAS & OIL On Third World Struggles Trying Not to Splash  
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a faded white & red Esso sign hanging from chains on a rusted pole sent me back to my childhood when Dad, would come home late, weary, smelling of gas & oil -- a smell so strong that as I drove along in this quiet town I rolled the window down, closed my eyes to try & tell if the smell was only in my mind.
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GAS & OIL On Third World Struggles Trying Not to Splash  
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NGO VAN [1968]
On Third World Struggles

What does “national liberation” mean for workers and peasants? The imperialist powers speak of “the right of peoples to self-determination,” and this phrase is adopted by the parties striving for power in colonial and semicolonial countries. We propose to banish the word “people” from our vocabulary: it implies an equality of right between the exploiting classes and the exploited masses. Who “self-determines” whom in the new national “peasant” states? In countries within the Western sphere of influence, national independence hands power over to the local bourgeoisie, which exploits the proletariat, and to the landowning class, which exploits the peasantry; in countries within the so-called “Communist” bloc, the state-capitalist bureaucracy exploits proletariat and peasantry alike. For workers and peasants, national liberation means nothing more than a change of masters.

Needless to say, in countries like India, where imperialism has handed power over to the local bourgeoisie, peasants die of hunger or live on the verge of starvation, at the mercy of greedy landowners. In countries where immense peasant uprisings have brought “Communist” parties to power, bureaucratic-military states have emerged that have introduced agrarian reform for their own ends: they abolish land ownership, eliminate the landowning classes, and redistribute land to the peasants in order to secure their support during the initial phase of their rule; but once state capitalism is established, the superexploitation of the peasants forms the basis of primitive accumulation for industrialization.

We live in an era of permanent war. The major powers confront each other, either directly or through the states under their dominion, and, as in the past, they each lay the responsibility on the other side.

Whatever the country, the victims are always the workers and peasants. “A people that oppresses another people is itself oppressed.” We have no country to defend, even if that country claims to be “communist.” For all the exploited, the struggle for self-emancipation means the duty to fight against their own exploiters, and war is nothing other than the most extreme form of that exploitation. The peace or war promoted by our masters, be they bourgeois, landowners, generals or “Communist” bureaucrats, is no concern of ours. We have no interest in the defense of the “Free World” or the defense of a “workers’ and peasants’ government.” No matter where we live, we must struggle directly against those who send us to slaughter by refusing to manufacture or to bear arms; and that struggle is an integral part of our struggle for self-emancipation, across all borders.

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GAS & OIL On Third World Struggles Trying Not to Splash  
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Trying Not to Splash
I ease myself into the river, never comfortable with the warm waters that cause my breathing to waver . . . on the far shore is an egret, watching me with one eye, head askance, beak opening and closing as though in prayer . . . nearly across I feel something bump my leg, some snout, some probing hunger, and I quickly unsheathe my dagger then spin around in the water, trying not to splash. The egret shrieks, and I oddly, in the face of danger, think my skin has grown accustomed to the waters. I cannot locate my underwater assailant, then soon begin to wonder if a branch or fish had touched my leg; the egret walks away, down the bank, shaking its head awkwardly. I reach shore then stand to walk from the waters, slowly, purposefully showing no fear, for what is a man but an exclamation of purpose in a random world? Standing on sand, I turn back to the river, then spy the croc floating passively in the middle; I see its whale eyes.
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You Take Advantage of My Good Mood TOP  GAS & OIL ©  MICHAEL ESTABROOK  .comment1
On Third World Struggles MID   On Third World Struggles ©  NGO VAN  ."Sur la réforme agraire" originally appeared in Cahiers de discussion sur le Socialisme de conseils #8 (Paris, April 1968). This translation by Ken Knabb is from Ngo Van's book In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary (AK Press, 2010). JH This work investigates the independence movements (against France and others) prior to the Stalinist Communism , the Viet Cong, and Ho Chi Minh. The book in English is available at The Bureau of Public Secrets. http://www.bopsecrets.org/vietnam/index.htm
Trying Not to Splash] BTM  Trying Not to Splash ©  WARD KELLEY  . This poem by Indiana poet Ward Kelley previously appeared in poetryrepairs.com 01.04:041