Protest and Survive
Ihave come to the view that a general nuclear war is not only possible but probable, and that its probability is increasing…. I do not argue from this local episode or that: what happened yesterday in Afghanistan and what is happening now in Pakistan or North Yemen. I argue from a general and sustained historical process, an accumulative logic, of a kind made familiar to me in the study of history. The episodes lead in this direction or that, but the general logic of process is always toward nuclear war.
The local crises are survived, and it seems as if the decisive moment–either of war or of peacemaking and reconciliation–has been postponed and pushed forward into the future. But what has been pushed forward is always worse…. All moves on its degenerative course, as if the outcome of civilization was as determined as is the outcome of this sentence: in a full stop….
If my arguments are correct, then we cannot put off the matter any longer. We must throw whatever resources still exist in human culture across the path of this degenerative logic. We must protest if we are to survive. Protest is the only realistic form of civil defense.
–E.P. Thompson, January 23, 1981
Perhaps because he is a Southerner, there lives in Carter still–I think–an ability to be tormented…. If he can still be tormented, he can be made to pause–the machinery can be made to pause–and we will have to find a way to use that pause.
–James Baldwin, “Notes on the House of Bondage,” in advance of the Carter-Reagan election, November 1, 1980
In The Crack-Up, Fitzgerald…wrote: “It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory.” America has found its past again; the sadness will come.
–Richard Lingeman, “The Hollow Man,” on the election of Ronald Reagan, November 15, 1980
The Church Revolutionary in Latin America
“We have confidence that the revolutionary process will be something original, creative, profoundly national…. With the majority of Nicaraguans, what we aim for is a process that will lead firmly toward a fully and authentically noncapitalist Nicaragua, neither dependent nor totalitarian,”[said Nicaragua’s bishops in their Pastoral Letter on socialism]….
A young guerrilla on the barricades of Estelí put it another way. “Look at this cross,” he shouted at a foreign journalist, waving a revolver with one hand and holding up the cross hanging from his neck with the other. “I am not a Communist, as Somoza calls all who fight against his Government. I am a Catholic and a Sandinist!”
–Penny Lernoux, May 24, 1980
The Road to Reaction in El Salvador
At 5 each morning and afternoon in San Salvador, precisely at 5, thousands of tiny green parrots flock over the city, screaming and crying. They light on fountains, on the green statues of generals, on walls imbedded with jagged glass. Called los pericos, they are so mysteriously punctual that the old people tell time by their passing.