Welcome to the Machine
by Andre Vltchek
Nothing frightens fascism and its older brother imperialism more than real people and their honest stories.
It is because ordinary stories of ordinary people are so genuine and so accurately reflect authentic human fears, desires and dreams that the ideologues and propagandists of the Western regime, which is supported by unnatural hyper-pseudo-reality, feel, for their survival, that it is essential to annihilate those stories, to wipe them from the surface of earth, even to erase them from our memories.
Real human feelings get in the way; they still resist, block the path to the total commercialization of life and the full implementation of the perverse concepts introduced by the Empire. Such resistance is described and glorified in real stories, making them ‘extremely dangerous’ and potentially fatal to the regime.
Human nature is fundamentally optimistic and kind; it is mostly evenhanded and sharing. If it is not grossly manipulated, fooled, even conned; it generally puts the life of others well above cold profit. It is disposed to be compassionate, forgiving and accepting. It is not perfect, far from it, but as the French philosopher and writer Albert Camus declared at the end of his brilliant novel “The Plague”: “there is more to admire than to despise in humans”.
That is all very bad news for market fundamentalism and for the masters of the world. They need to ensure that the majority of the human race consists of greedy individuals, aggressive people, people who do not think or feel but consume, and, if they do think, about how to amass more, consume more; definitely not about how to build a decent and egalitarian society.
* * *
Each human life is made up of stories, of true and sincere stories. Some stories are ‘common’ and can occur, with certain variations, in any part of the world.
A boy meets a girl, and their love is ‘forbidden’, because they belong to a different class, ethnicity, or religion. They fight for their future together, against all oppressive customs and taboos, and they win or they fall. But after their epic struggle for happiness, their village, or their clan, will never be the same.
A son of rich man walks down the road in a miserable village, right near his mansion. He meets an old man or a woman. They sit for a while and talk.
Poor peasant conveys a message to a young feudal lord. Later this provokes questions, doubts and thoughts; he studies. One decade later he joins the revolution, to overthrow his own class. Almost all men and women of the revolution lived through that moment when they were told the truth on some dusty country road: Che, Lenin, Engels, Marx, Mao, Fidel, Chavez.
Some stories are extremely unique and powerful:
As documented in a great book written by Ron Ridenour “Backfire”, several Cuban men and women are approached by the CIA and asked to destroy their own country, to kill innocent people, to cause explosions on board civilian airliners in the middle of the flight, to assassinate Cuban leaders, to poison humans and crops with chemicals. They accept; they take money. Then they immediately join the Cuban intelligence and for years work as ‘double agents’, to protect, to save their beloved Cuba. There is not one moment of hesitation. Fatherland is not some commodity; it is not for sale! The Personal lives of some of them are ruined in the process. They keep no money for themselves. They give their entire CIA pay to their country, to buy medicine and other necessities. They feed North Americans with false information. Eventually the story is made public. They save Cuba.
Such are the great stories of decency, of courage, of progress.
“My life is my story”, once uttered a brilliant German film director, Wim Wenders. The identity of each person, no matter how rich or poor, educated or simple, consists of memories and dreams, and of extremely complex and fascinating webs of stories.
Most ‘real’ stories are wise, and they contain unmistakable sparks of humanism. Many of them are also aiming at something that we are all secretly longing for from the bottom of our hearts: something very positive, warm, compassionate and tender. They are yearning for good conclusions, not for some toxic and pinkish Disney or Hollywood-style ‘happy ending’, but for solid, just, and decent finales.
That is exactly why real stories’ are becoming targets of hit men hired by the Empire.
In order to plunder unopposed, to control, and to manipulate, the Western Empire assumed that it has to give legitimacy to its own acts of terror. Those acts have to be elevated to the highest moral ground.
To do so, traditional logical and philosophical thinking has to be decomposed, then ‘new thinking’ introduced. A thoroughly new breed of stories must emerge, and even how stories are told must change.
Some would ask: ‘How could crime be packaged as altruism’?
It can, of course, in those societies that perceive ‘reality’ after getting stoned on huge daily doses of advertisement and propaganda, two sides of the same coin, two synonyms of lie and deception.
In order for the brutal Empire to pose and to be considered as the savior of the world, first the analytical thinking of people has to be damaged, their ability to think has to be sharply reduced. The stories they are told have to become ‘light’, ‘entertaining’, extremely far from the reality.
The human spirit has to be broken, human nature reshaped.
Then all that is real and decent and pure in people has to be dragged through a muddy and nontransparent bath of nihilism. Things that used to be sacred have to be spat on, optimism humiliated, and ordinary kindness and warmth killed.
Instead, substitutes have to be injected, if needed, by force.
It is because the acts of imperialism, like constant plunder and the commodification of life itself, are grotesquely unnatural occurrences; they are morbid and pathological. And the only way they can be accepted is if the reality is canceled, and then substituted by a ‘new’, gruesome and irrational pseudo-reality.
* * *
If in thousands of brainless Hollywood films, millions of people continuously vanish, victims of mutants, robots, terrorists, giant insects or microorganisms invading the earth, then the public becomes hardened, and ‘well prepared for the worst’. Compared to those horrors of pseudo-reality, the real agony of millions of men, women and children in places like Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan appear to be quite insignificant.
“Their children get cancer from depleted uranium coming from our bombs, or they get simply torn to pieces… well, guess what: our children are eaten by monstrous tarantulas or murdered by Arab terrorists…” Those words are not pronounced, of course. The monologue takes place in the subconscious realm.
If a false giant shark begins stuffing itself with the actors depicting defenseless swimmers on a picture-perfect resort beach, such fictitious terror shocks more viewers and at much greater extend than some real violence unleashed against the prisoners at the US torture and detention centers like those at Abu Graib or Guantanamo.
Pseudo-reality is designed to dwarf reality.
Using the same concept, the viewers tend to feel much greater shock when California keeps falling off the cliff to Pacific Ocean, in one of those disaster movies, than when they read about dozens of real and decent governments all over the world being overthrown by the Empire for simply being ‘too decent’, even when millions of real people perish in the process.
Psychologically, for many people there is no border between reality and pseudo-reality, anymore. Consumers of blockbuster movies and the mass media were made immune to the real terror the Empire is spreading all over the world, because they have already seen ‘much more frightening’ stuff beaming from the box.
Simultaneously, indoctrination gets encoded permanently in people’s brains; they cannot make the distinction, anymore, between some outright BBC propaganda against China or Cuba and the reality they encounter when they visit those two countries.
Some now judge the world and make political and other decisions strictly based on that hybrid of reality and pseudo-reality: “Chinese murdered brutally several thousands of people when they torpedoed some fictional ship, as we witnessed in the latest Hollywood blockbuster, therefore we have to finance their ‘opposition’ and send our battle ships to East China Sea, to deter the potential expansion plotted by Beijing.”
And if our film studios and pop writers keep demonizing Chinese people, South Americans, Russians, Arabs, Iranians, North Koreans and many others, the imaginary threat, in some very twisted but well calculated and effective way, suddenly begins to justify real and countless aggressions by the military forces of the Empire.
* * *
The Empire that consists of Western fascist regimes that call themselves ‘democratic’ and ‘free’, have already murdered several hundreds of millions of human beings on all continents. They dropped mountains of bombs and biological weapons on countless countries; they have experimented on people, and overthrew most of the governments that were determined to serve their own people. They murdered Presidents and trained gangsters, whom they elevated to the ranks of top military brass, as happened in Indonesia, Chile, Egypt, El Salvador and in many other places. These gangster-soldiers were then given training, on Western military bases, in the ‘art’ of interrogation, torture and punitive rape, as well as ‘disappearance’ of the opposition.
No other system spilled more blood; no other system plundered more resources and enslaved more people, than the one we are told to describe by lofty and benign terms like ‘Western parliamentary democracy’ or ‘Western constitutional monarchy’.
But the writers of ‘new stories’ and manufacturers of pseudo-reality do their absolute best to block this line of thinking. There is no discussion about the fact that the world is now fully enslaved by Western neo-colonialism, that it is controlled and oppressed to the greatest possible degree.
The past is already fully changed and re-written, with collaborators coming from the ranks of both academia and so called ‘liberal’ and ‘creative elites’. Grotesque lies are thousands of times repeated and therefore, as was suggested by the chief ideologist of Nazi Germany, they became truth. As Joseph Goebbels so correctly observed, many decades ago: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”
The lies are retold about China, the Soviet Union, Latin America, about Western colonialism, and neo-colonialism, the Cold War, Afghanistan, and so many other essential places and events. Almost all related stories, except those that were pre-selected, approved, and useful for the propaganda, had been successfully eradicated, muted, or at least ridiculed.
Inside the Empire itself, almost nobody is protesting, except when it comes to demands for higher wages and better benefits. The Western masses became the most complacent, uncritical group of people anywhere in the world. It is obvious from the art they are producing and consuming, from their political affiliations, from their aspirations.
An amazing paradox has developed, without being noticed or commented on: ‘the system, which has been professing both individual choice and extreme self-centeredness, actually managed to reduce a substantial part of the human race to an obedient, thoughtless, submissive, and frightened mass of uniformed beings convinced about their own superiority.
The individuality of people almost entirely vanished. Their identity is now closely linked and fully dependent on the manufactured identity of television stars, pop musicians and footballers.
* * *
It is logical and essential that the Empire tries to make sure that the real stories get discredited, destroyed, wiped out from the face of the earth; in order to prevent lapses, in order to make sure that human brains stop doubting and accept what they are being served.
Even the closest historic allies of real stories have been kidnapped, corrupted, and forced against them: books, films, music, and theatres, even fairytales.
But to the dismay of their tormentors, while in terrible pain, abandoned and endlessly sad, the stories do not seem to yield. It is because they are brave and proud, as human beings essentially are, and they know that so much depends on them – they are holding one of the last lines of defense against the capitalist genocide, against commercialization of life itself, against the attempt to exterminate human species as we know it.
As a storyteller I know all this, because they, the stories, are always talking to me. I also know that we will hold that imaginary defense line until the very end, together, come what way, with others who are still capable of thinking and hoping, and dreaming.
We will never cease telling the stories, real stories, because that is what human beings have been doing for centuries and millennia; telling stories, listening, learning, reading, moving forward, reluctantly, stumbling but moving nevertheless. We will be holding the line of defense against cultural fascism, because to succumb would simply be like betraying everything that makes life worth living.
For centuries and millennia people were dreaming about justice and kindness, they were fighting for better world where everyone has roof over the head, and food, free education and medical care, where there is no fear and no danger coming from beastly and greedy usurpers.
The ‘real’ stories were carrying such dreams, in their core.
Several years ago I sat in an old Café Brasilero in Montevideo, Uruguay, with one of the greatest Latin American writers, Eduardo Galeano, a man who wrote some of the most magical and powerful stories in the 20th century.
Before we parted, he said:
“I am a hunter of stories; I listen to the stories, then I give this back to the people after putting the stories through a creative process. My position is always that in order not to be mute, one shouldn’t be deaf. One has to be able to listen in order to speak. I am a passionate listener. I listen to reality. Reality is a magic lady, sometimes very mysterious. To me she is very passionate. She is real not only when she is awake, walking down the streets, but also at night when she is dreaming or when she is having nightmares. When I am writing, I am always paying tribute to her – to that lady called Reality. I am trying not to fail her.”
If the regime decides to starve us, real storytellers, we will, as in the marvelous story of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “No One Writes To the Colonel”, rather “eat shit”, than to betray that magic lady called Reality. The stories, the reality is not for sale, as the truth itself is not for sale.
* * *
At the last page of an old copy of the novel “River of Fire”, written by Qurratulain Hyder, there are letters and numbers entered with a simple pencil: D.K. 30-9-99 24036
I don’t remember how I obtained that book, and I don’t know what these numbers really mean. The handwriting is unfamiliar. But they certainly mean something; something very significant, one more story, a symbol penciled into one of the greatest tales ever written in India. Both ‘River of Fire’ and the penciled note make one dream and to use imagination – to be alive.
As pornography could not be defined as love, the ‘new stories’ that shape our worldview and penetrate our psyche, are actually not true stories at all. They are substitutes that were implanted in order to replace permanently the real thing.
They kill life itself in the real living beings.
Those endless car chases, meaningless slaughters of thousands of humans in almost every film, never-ending computer generated disasters and horror scenarios, all have very little to do with real life.
The ‘new stories’ are more like some addictive substance, narcotics, cigarettes stuffed with chemicals, or very bad booze.
All over the world, billions of hooked viewers, adult and children, women and men, even elderly, are now watching the same rubbish, consisting of computer-generated plots and images, phantasmagoric scenarios.
As was the case with the CIA-run Paris Review, the storytellers have been encouraged to elevate form over substance. We are expected to ‘become daring’ by showing as many female genitals in our art, describing as many mind-blowing situations, inventing ‘personal dramas’ and epic quests for ‘self-fulfillment’.
All calls for egalitarian society, for rebellion, revolution, for the end of neo-colonialism, of state terror, of propaganda, were turned to absolute taboo.
‘Politics are boring’ is one of the main massages we are encouraged to spread around.
Because people are not expected to mingle in ‘what is not their business’. Ruling the world is reserved for the corporations and few gangsters with excellent PR. The voters are there only to give legitimacy to the entire charade. And if they don’t, they get slaughtered like in that brilliant novel called “Seeing” by Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago.
Or as in real life, Europeans were massacred in France, Italy and Germany after the WWII, when they were going to vote Communists into power, but instead were confronted by old Nazis who were put to work by Western allies, concretely by the US and UK, to murder the leaders and supporters of the Left. Successful Nazis were then shipped, discreetly and with all that loot from Jewish victims, to distant South America, where I met and interviewed some of them and their children – in Paraguay, Chile, and Peru.
But don’t you even think about writing stories about it.
“Colonia Dignidad!” I was then told by one of the editors of major German Magazine Der Stern, when I presented him with damning photos and true stories about the murderous German colony in Southern Chile. At one point he burst laughing: “Never again!”
Real stories have been ridiculing such arrangement of the world. True stories were always ‘political’, because everything that matters is actually ‘political’. Education and medical care are political and so are housing, city planning, green areas, corruption, arts, religiousness or secularism, and therefore even love and how it can or cannot be expressed.
Great novels have always been political, and what we see now, their de-politicizing, is abnormal, even perverse, fabricated. Many great songs used to be political, and they still are – in Latin America, in Russia, or in China.
Even Hollywood used to go political in some of its greatest films like “All President’s Men”, “Marathon Runner”, “They Also Kill Horses”, “The Way We Were”, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”, to name just a few.
The French cinema was political almost by definition and so was almost everything great coming from Latin American and Italian studious, directly or indirectly. And Soviets were telling their stories about saving the world from fascism, and about their attempt to build a classless society.
All that had to be stopped, by every means.
Lenin very correctly pointed out that film is the most important art form that can influence the masses. He knew it and spoke about it, but the Western regime made perfect use of that fact.
To make the world fragmented, to control it easily, the Empire made sure that intellectual exchange between the continents was decisively disrupted. Everything had to be rerouted through ‘hubs’, where the information and messages could be monitored, selected and finally modified. Such hubs were New York, London, Los Angeles, Miami; all depending on what parts of the world were to be influenced, and through what media.
Los Angeles is the center for visual indoctrinating and de-intellectualization, while Miami is, among other things, the center for extracting teeth and turning into brainless pop the most political music form on earth, salsa, which originally came from Cuba and the rest of Caribbean isles.
If not directly destroyed, most of the great mainstay stories from different parts of the world had to be thoroughly ‘retold’, and only then be re-distributed widely all over the world, in their shiny, new and useless form.
The punch lines of Russian, Japanese and French film masterpieces have been amputated by pathetic Hollywood remakes.
Anglo-Saxons were now the only ones allowed to present their version of the stories to the whole world. And they truly perfected that brainwashing, indoctrinating narrative for instant consumption by, by now, fully uniformed viewers all over the world.
The main goal is clear: to make sure that people would not think. They should not think when they read, when they listen to music, when they watch films. They should not think much at all: just to study their specialized fields, work for companies, consume, vote as they are told, and obey. Or else!
Now people worldwide have been fed by the same doctrines, as they were fed the same products. An entire new religion of ‘coolness’ and ‘stigmas’ was born, propagated by electronic and social media, in turn fueled by the major multi-nationals.
To be ‘cool’ was turned to very opposite of what it used to be for centuries. Now it meant not to think, to be like the others, to be ‘light’, to chat, to exchange meaningless messages and information, to desire the same products, to look the same, to accept what the Empire and market-fundamentalism were professing. Those few thinking beings were booed and expelled to the margins, since the very young age; they were humiliated and at the end forced to join the ranks.
The concept was simple: “we will make you stupid, uniformed, uninformed, unimaginative. Then, we will give you free choice, and it is likely that you will demand even more empty entertainment, more uniformity, more social media, more chemical dreams. You will not protest, you will not demand the change of system. You will work hard to make elites richer, and consume what you are told you should find desirable. Amen.
We – your regime and you – will then be locked in one perfect symbiosis”.
It went further. At some point, the Western ideologues and their media outlets awarded themselves exclusive rights to judge, to erect moral concepts.
It is as if a gang of bandits invades some frontier town, kills hundreds of men, rapes women, and robs the bank. The next day, members of the gang catch some miserable bicycle thief who took advantage of the chaos. The thief gets tried and condemned to several years in prison for his ‘terrible crime’. The bandits pose as heroes and saviors.
This, actually, would be an extremely good story to tell. The whole charade is so ridiculous, so transparent. But, shockingly, nobody is laughing, definitely almost nobody is laughing in the West!
* * *
One of the greatest films ever made – Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” – got swiftly overshadowed by a Hollywood remake, the “Magnificent Seven”, because it had to be the American cowboys, not Japanese samurais, who had the right to demonstrate a true moral standard to the world.
Of course, Kurosawa was a socialist realist, and his early scripts were totally unacceptable to the Western regime. It is also important to recall that Kurosawa, after the war, was busy searching for ways to avoid the censorship imposed on Japanese art and media by the US occupation administration.
Like films, also all those brilliant fairytales from all over the world had to be kidnapped, recycled, their teeth extracted, their social message reduced to zero. Disney had repackaged those mighty as well tiny creatures from all corners of the planet, into a horrid, fast food-concept of fairytales; it destroyed and humiliated them, turned them into pinkish and yellowish kitsch.
Even in those countries with ancient cultures and folklore, like Thailand and Indonesia, there is hardly anything left of the original legends: children are growing up fully dependent on mass-produced toys designed in computer workshops in the United States, instead of relying on their own storytellers and wonderful legends. It is the same as with the junk food, and later, cigarettes.
All identity is wiped out, all creativity and originality destroyed. Even original lullabies are now disappearing from many parts of the world.
* * *
Writers, thinkers, journalists, filmmakers – most of them, gradually – became obedient propagandists of the regime.
Thus the horrid prophecy of Orwell and Huxley materialized, quietly, without any major dramas or ‘significant events’. Of course true drama – the slaughter of hundreds of millions of innocent men, women and children in all corners of the world – has been ongoing for centuries. But the victims were, as Orwell called them, un-people, so nobody cared.
Then suddenly, everything became constrained. The flow of stories virtually stopped. We don’t know when exactly it happened. Nobody does.
* * *
I often think about true stories in these dark days of the Western talibanisation of the planet. I draw inspiration and optimism from them.
Not too long ago, just some twenty years back, in the early 1990s, I was just a kid, a young reporter, covering the South American continent.
I will never forget dynamism, zeal and courage of the people I encountered in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Colombia. My novel, my rebellious Point of No Return that is just now being re-introduced to English readers after being fully re-edited, was greatly influenced by those years spent in Latin America.
Chile and Argentina were just waking up from their terrible nightmares, from brutal dictatorships supported by the West. Both countries were trying to come to terms with their past, to rebuild their societies.
Peru was still consumed by a brutal ‘dirty war’.
The stories were everywhere; they were searching for storytellers, competing for our attention, chasing us.
I was still based in New York then, where I knew dozens of aspiring writers and filmmakers, many of them continuously lamenting about ‘not knowing what to write’.
These were the post-Reagan days, New York was atomized, fragmented, with miserable slums and homeless people everywhere; people rotting at the entrances to subways, men and women dying lonely deaths, abandoned by their families and society. But writers took the luxury of not knowing what to say!
This was the era when the Empire was consolidating its power abroad, from south and Central Africa to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The Soviet Union, country where I was born, was decomposing after the Afghanistan trap, under the terrible reign of one naïve nitwit, and then under another one, a brutal notorious alcoholic and protégé of the West.
I was shuttling between awakening in Latin America and absolute stagnation in the West, where the writers were too busy suffering from identity crises to notice what was happening in the world!
* * *
I remember how ecstatic I felt high in the Andes. Of course, not because of the war, but thanks to the stories, an incredible amount of them, of which almost all were genuine.
There, the air was thin and so was Anglo-American propaganda. There, the stories were firmly in control of life.
People talked. I listened. It was how it always was, for millennia, and it all felt right. I learned how to tell the stories in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. I learned how to listen. Sometimes it took the entire night to hear one simple and short tale in a clay hut, but it was always worth it.
One night my English photographer and I left the city of Ayacucho in the middle of the night, both of us shaken to the core.
Just two days earlier we were stopped by the Shining Path, Sendero Luminoso, hastily tried at the side of the road, and then condemned to death. True, we managed to talk ourselves out of execution, explaining, honestly, our distaste for both the President Fujimori and Yankee imperialism. But we were still in shock, as our young lives could have just ended there, at the curb, in one instance.
Ayacucho means ‘corner of death’, it is a beautiful but cursed place high in the mountains, very indigenous and battered by centuries of colonialism and consequent feudal mores.
It was pitch dark, and we turned all beams of our Land Rover on, shaking from altitude sickness, driving fast in order to ‘fly over’ an uneven dirt road. We were on assignment for a big news magazine, and we were young, and definitely not quitters.
At one turn, an indigenous woman dashed under our wheels. She jumped, then knelt, begging. I slammed the brakes. This could have been a typical trap; and it could have been our end. But the woman was crying, in pain, she was heavily pregnant, indicating that she was entering labor. Then she joined her hands in one powerful plea.
We stopped. We had no clue what to do. Two hardened war reporters with a big car and all that equipment inside, totally helpless, clumsy, stupid when faced with new life that was demanding our assistance.
We literally carried her to the car, put her on the back seat and played, just to do something, some Chilean ballads from car stereo. We tried to make her feel better.
What followed was a mess, a total mess! And from that mess a child was born. A girl. She was born alive and she survived; we all made sure that she survived. And two of us, two not so tidy young men who were cracking terrible jokes just a few minutes before, while our eyes were glued to the dusty road at some 4.000 meters altitude, searching for deadly military patrols, were now jumping around that good-natured indigenous matron with red cheeks, cleaning sweat from her forehead, trying to be at least somehow useful.
Eventually we drove both of them – mother and her tiny daughter – to the next village, where we found a willing midwife. As birth-assistants we absolutely failed, but for weeks we felt endlessly proud and the girl – the baby girl – still lives in my memory – as the most beautiful, the dearest child.
That was one of the greatest stories I ever encountered, simple and pure as a creek, back there, high in the mountains.
Later I saw similar scenes in the movies. The men helping were always sensible, comical, and absolutely unrealistic.
We were not really sensible at all. It was a war, a brutal war, and it was cold and a woman was probably abandoned by her man; kicked out from her house… It was not a happy story, but it was human and at the end, a good story, and it probably made both of us better men.
After that, I saw death on many, too many occasions, and it was necessary to see it. I don’t regret seeing death, because that is how this world is arranged, and I can’t write about things I have never witnessed.
Everyone who went to war knows that how it is shown in most of Hollywood films is simply a lie. I described the war in my Point of No Return, and I am describing it again, now, in detail, in my latest 1.000 page novel.
It is important to write about the war, about the stories that one experiences during the battle and in ravished cities and villages. Because almost all wars in the modern history are caused, are triggered by us, by the West. Because our ‘culture’, our brutality, our greed, caused hundreds of millions of lives to be lost, all over the world.
Our ‘real’ wars now became ‘remote’. We invented carpet-bombing, we dropped an A-Bomb; we killed millions of men, women and children in Indochina. We killed them mostly with our flying monsters, dropping millions of tons of steel on poor hamlets and villages full of people who just wanted to be truly free – free from our dictates and from our terror.
And now we use drones. We don’t even dare to fly that heavy metal shit, anymore.
All this, because we are cowards, and our culture is both that of despots and weaklings. And to realize it, the only way to understand it, is to read and to watch real stories of those whom we have been brutalizing and torturing.
But we don’t want to. We close our ears with the palms of our hands. We refuse to hear them speak and laugh, we make sure not to hear them cry and scream. We are killing them, but we are doing it ‘surgically’, long-distance, while watching on television sets tarantulas consuming our cities, while stuffing ourselves on pre-fabricated food and buying toys for tiny children – toys that have no heart and no soul, anymore.
We have turned into total idiots, and we even kill like idiots.
Oliver Stone made films about how we ‘fought’ the wars. That was the closest to reality. It was also an exception, and many people did not like what they saw.
The Soviet people fought real war and they saved our planet. They also helped to liberate dozens of countries from Western colonialism. Without them, there would be no freedom in Africa, Middle East and most parts of Asia. But those facts are oppressed and can’t be mentioned.
What also can’t be mentioned is the heroic, and at the same time humble, involvement of Cuban people in the African liberation struggle.
Soviets also made great films about fighting and wining the war, and about saving us from fascism. “The Cranes Are Flying”, “The Ballad of Soldier”, “The Dawns Are Quiet Here”, to name just some.
Those wonderful Russian stories are completely unknown, from films to modern novels, even those brilliant cartoons they made for children.
The West which, at the beginning, fought half-heartedly the German Nazis while simultaneously committing crimes against humanity in Africa, Middle East and Oceania, made sure that everything connected with heroic struggle of Soviet Russia was dragged through dirt, and later has been using the same tactics again China and Latin America, particularly Cuba.
Cuba is the greatest enemy, a country the West demonized and tried to destroy by chemical warfare, terrorism and relentless propaganda.
Why Cuba? Because Cuba has three things that Western regime does not have: it has heart, it has humanism, and it has guts.
* * *
Is there any true opposition, or even self-criticism in the West? Or is the West really increasingly resembling its ally from the old days – the Taliban?
No films depict the open racism of Winston Churchill and his theories regarding “the beastly lesser races”, or many other colonial monsters like British PM David Lloyd George, who, while his country was bombing Iraqi civilians in the mid-1920s, killed an international proposal to ban aerial bombarding with the phrase “We have to reserve the right to bomb the niggers.” Hardly any stories unveiling terror unleashed against the colonies, in practical terms against the entire world, are being allowed to domesticate in the psyche of Europeans and North Americans.
Busts and monuments to the worst racists and criminals are now decorating London and all major British cities, as are the statues of Belgian King Leopold II, a mass murderer responsible for the slaughter of 10 million Congolese people and for the chopping of hands of those who did not work fast enough to fill up his coffers, now scattered all over Brussels.
The greatest and the most frightening story, that of enslaving of the world by European and later North American tyrants, was never told. The stories of resistance against this unprecedented and ongoing terror are perpetually suppressed.
* * *
So here I am again, in Egypt.
One ugly armored vehicle is moving its cannon from left to right, as if searching for something, for someone. It passed me and I could clearly see the inside of its muzzle. It did not stop; it ignored me, as I was not the one it was searching for.
I keep working, unhurriedly, photographing and filming, then photographing again. I work monotonously, each move calculated.
Then something hits my chest. I do not feel almost any pain, not much pain at all, just some.
I thought it was a bullet; they say one does not feel much pain in the first instances, during few seconds after being hit. I did not want to look down, because if I was hit by a bullet through the chest, it would be all over very soon: my insane life, all those adventures and battles I lived almost since I was a child. And so I kept working, by inertia.
There was disgusting smoke all over the street and soon I realized that I was not hit by a bullet, but by an empty teargas canister.
I was alive, and suddenly, as if to celebrate that fact, that miracle, my brain recalled the handwriting penciled into the last page of The River of Fire.
And I recalled the face of a girl, a maid called Ratan, from The Postmaster, the first of Three Daughters trilogy directed by one of the most brilliant filmmakers of all times – Satyajit Ray. I recalled her story, originally written by Tagore:
A new postmaster comes from Kolkata to a small village. Ratan, a maid, an orphan, is ‘given to him’. He is kind to her; he does not beat her as the previous ‘owner’ did. But he is bored in the village. He begins to teach her how to read and write. He talks to her. They are scared of terrible storm, together. He falls ill. She moves to his house; she stays next to him, day and night, awake, and saves his life. She falls in love with him, although not one intimate word is uttered. He recovers. He decides to leave. A new postmaster arrives. She meets her love, on an empty road, as he is departing. She looks at him, for the last time. He stops, and then moves on. This, outside of India almost unknown frame, is one of the most beautiful moments in the world cinema.
‘What a story’, I think. ‘What a tremendous story!’
The smoke was now covering entire surface of the avenue. “What am I doing here?” I thought, just for a fraction of a second.
But subconsciously I knew: I was at the frontline, for years, fighting for survival of real stories. Those that are all around us: small but deep, frightened and humiliated by multi-million productions coming from Hollywood and Disney, with all their false pathos and noise, and lies.
As I watched the cannon, I thought that philosophers, not only storytellers, were ‘out of vogue’. Both were assigned the identity of wooden toys, made with love but now obsolete, pushed to oblivion by hyper reality, by electronic media, which reduced emotions and human interaction to just a few abbreviated incoherent barks.
I pushed the shutter. My heavy professional still camera recorded a moment – a tiny girl clinging to her mom, teargas burning her eyes. But her story, her tiny and real story: how could it compete with some giant insects invading the earth; how could it compete with the horror of entire California falling of the cliff in those doomsday Hollywood movies.
What I was actually doing here was desperately trying to record last glimpses of humanity. The real pain, real longing, hope and yes, love.
In order to record all those disappearing stories, I kept moving in geographical extremes, in some of the most inaccessible parts of the world, in conflict and war zones. I was propelled by thorough spite for virtual reality, which was attempting to murder compassion, hopes, dreams, even love. And it went without saying that the virtual reality felt absolute spite for people like me.
I straightened my filthy shirt and checked my lenses. They were intact. Cameras were working. My body was working. The name of the girl in Ray’s film was Ratan. The handwriting at the end of the River of Fire said: D.K. 30-9-99 24036. Whatever it meant.
The gun moved again, this time from right to the left. Again it did not stop. I was alive. And my heart was still on the left, where it belonged, and it was beating regularly, pushing red blood through my veins. And I was not going to stop telling ‘real’ stories, for as long as there was that naturally left-centered movement inside my swelling chest.