By Anonymous on November 07, 2008

Once in office, will Obama prove that his bellicose threats against Iran and Pakistan were just words spoken to lure in a certain category of voter during the election? Let’s hope so. And let’s hope he isn’t for a moment tempted to repeat the exploits of George W. Bush. After all, Obama had the dignity to oppose the war in Iraq while the Republican and Democratic parties cheered the announcement of this bloodbath.

During his campaign, “leadership” was the most frequently used word in Obama’s speeches.

As President, will he continue to believe that his country was chosen to save the world, a toxic idea that he shares with almost all of his colleagues? Will he continue to assert that the U.S. is the leader of the world and believe in its messianic mission to command?

Let’s hope that the current crisis, which is shaking the imperial foundations, will at least serve to provide the incoming government with a healthy dose of realism and humility.

Will Obama accept that racism is permissible when practiced against countries that his country invades? Is it not racism to meticulously tally the deaths of the invaders of Iraq while ignoring with Olympian arrogance the far larger number of Iraqi dead? Isn’t it racist that the world has first, second, and third class citizens and first, second, and third class dead?

Obama’s victory was universally celebrated as a victory in the battle against racism. Let us hope that from his first acts as President he accepts and lives up to this beautiful responsibility.

Will the Obama Administration confirm yet again that Democrat and Republican are two names for the same party?

Let us hope that the will for change that these elections have consecrated is more than just a promise and a hope. May the new Administration have the courage to break with the tradition of the single party disguised as two that at the hour of truth behave almost identically while they pretend to be fighting one another.

Will Obama make good on his promise to close the sinister prison at Guantánamo?

Let us hope so, and that he will end the sinister blockade of Cuba.

Will Obama continue to believe that it is a good idea to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep Mexicans from crossing into the US., while vast sums of money move across without ever showing a passport?

During the campaign Obama never candidly discussed the subject of immigration. Let us hope that from today on, no longer having to worry about losing votes, he will be able and willing to abandon this idea of the wall—which would be far longer and more shameful than the Berlin Wall—and indeed all walls that violate people’s freedom of movement.

Once President, will Obama, who supported the recent gift of $700 billion to the banking industry, continue the usual practice of privatizing profits while socializing losses?

I fear that he will, though I hope that he won’t.

Will Obama sign and abide by the Kyoto agreement, or will he continue to allow the biggest polluter on the planet to pollute with impunity? Will he govern for people, or for automobiles? Will he shift the devastating course of a way of life in which the few steal the destiny of the many?

I fear he won’t, though I hope he will.

Will Obama, the first black President of the United States, realize the dream of Martin Luther King, or the nightmare of Condoleezza Rice?

This White House, which is now his house, was built with the labor of black slaves. Let’s hope he never forgets that.

Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan writer and journalist, is author of ‘‘The Open Veins of Latin America’’ and ‘‘Memories of Fire.”

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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