Click here to go to the Home Page Rosa Luxemburg: What Say the Citizens of This Business as Usual Narrative of Change? - Represent Our Resistance - By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD - BC Editorial Board

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To the struggle! There is a world to win and a world to defeat.

- Rosa Luxemburg, �What Does the Spartacus League Want�

He is �incomplete,� and by his own admission, �deformed.� A believer in democracy, he is not! Brother to King Edward, and to George, Duke of Clarence, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, is ambitious. He wants to be king!

The �winter of discontent� is his winter of discontent, with very political and public implications. The war between the Yorks and the Lancasters [1] is over, and King Edward is attempting to broker a �peace!� Peace, mind you! The Duke of Gloucester is not content with the prospect of peace. �I am determined to prove a villain/And hate the idle pleasures of these days.� [2]

The Duke of Gloucester is at war! He is at war among those members of his family; he is at war with fellow citizens of the world. �-instead of mounting barbed steeds/To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,� the King and the state of England are silent on the world stage.

The Duke wants no part of peace! How could �peace� possibly profit him who wants power?

American actors, in Al Pacino�s 1996 docu-drama, Looking for Richard, ask themselves how they as Americans produce a Shakespearian drama for an American audience. How do they make this Shakespearian drama relevant for today�s America?

Interestingly British actor Derek Jacoby assures them that Shakespeare, and particular The Life and Death of King Richard III, would resonate with an American audience.

And, he is right.

The American actors struggle to make sense of the play. Among themselves they discuss and argue; they ask advice and opinions from British and U.S. citizens; they confer with academic and Shakespearian �experts� all the while the Duke of Gloucester, scheming with an imaginary audience, decides to have King Edward imprison their brother, George, and in due time, he dispatches killers, hit men, to kill the imprisoned brother.

Soon after, King Edward dies. The rightful heir to the throne is the older of Edward�s two sons, both children. Richard will see to it that they never reach the castle where their mother awaits them. He has Buckingham kidnap them, and they are imprisoned in a tower on route to the castle where Richard plans to execute them after his coronation but not before turning the lords and dukes against King Edward�s closest friend and the most respected of the King�s court, Lord Hastings. Like the King�s widow, dismissed as a hysterical woman, Hastings knows proper court procedure. So he must be executed.

What principles motivate this man Richard? But before Hastings can answer his own question for the benefit of the lords and dukes, Richard charges him with disloyalty.

Follow me, if you love me! Or be an enemy to the state!

As for the obvious reality of two sons of King Edward - a solution! They are bastards - not true inheritors. Lucky for England and the people, Richard discovered this treachery and potential corruption in time! And Richard�s sidekick, Lord Buckingham winks and relays this narrative to �the people.� Let�s thank the Duke of Gloucester - and better yet, crown him King!

This production is a documentary, the production of a play on film, and so Pacino, the actor says: �The path is clear for Buckingham and Richard� All that is left is to win the people.�

What say the citizens, asks Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, played by actor Al Pacino.

Did you tell the citizens of Richard�s bastard children?

�� [W]hen my oratory drew toward end/I bid them that did love their country�s good/Cry, God save Richard, England�s royal king!�

And did they, the impatient Duke wants to know. The actor Kevin Spacey says to Pacino as they rehearse the scene: You would expect �boisterous� outburst and �rallies� but no!

Buckingham: The citizens �spake not a word/But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,/Star�d each on other, and look�d deadly pale.�

�Whatever their reaction, it didn�t matter. We had this plan,� says the actor Spacey. He continues: �So they are told right before your very eyes that here is the man who will make it better.� Then we see, Spacey�s Buckingham on the balcony of the castle shouting to the people below. Your man is Richard, the royal Duke, and out comes Richard, humbly agreeing to take on �the burden� of King!

And so with good conscious, the newly crowned King, Richard III orders the execution of the former King�s sons - by Buckingham�s hands! But the latter dares to tell King Richard that he needs to think on it! When he returns to the King and receives a chilling response, he knows he needs to escape the kingdom with his head still on his body. The deed will get done, by another �hit man.� There is always someone willing to sell their soul.

�I am so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin,� says the King, speaking into the camera.

But to war! He instigates conflict with Richmond (Lancaster), deploying lies in the mouths of his emissaries. And, of course, it works. All is well in the world, once again! Men will fight and more blood will spill.

Citizens, particularly some in the U.S. would think it tragic that these folks did not have access to cable news or to the Internet! There are no landlines, cell phones or telegraphs or modern-day postal service; nonetheless, the people received news from their government - directly from their government! In this case, news is disseminated by Buckingham, a �Secretary of State.� And the two �thugs� Gloucester and Buckingham, as one of the actors acknowledges, create a narrative of lies that needs the silence of easily influenced lords and dukes as well as the people. Even when people have access to news other than the State, they seem to prefer the State news disseminated on cable television or at �public� television and radio.

Kevin Spacey�s response to his character Buckingham is insightful: �Every time there�s an election in this country, whether it�s for mayor, president, or city council, it is always that the people are sick and tired of the way it�s been and they just want change.�

But, as Pacino observes, �the politicians offer complete lies and innuendos. It�s an act these people buy it. It�s a complete lie.�

The British actress Vanessa Redgraves captures what the American actors have come to learn in their journey: The �truth beneath all this is also the opposite� of whatever those in power say or do. �The Truth is that those in power have total contempt for everything they promise, everything they pledge�That�s really what Shakespeare is all about.�

The American, Fred Kimball, one of the writers and producers along with Pacino, speaking to Pacino, sums up:

I heard you talking about Richard as a man who cannot find love. A person in the final scene knows that he does not have his own humanity. That he�s lost it. That he has let the pursuit of power totally corrupt him and that he�s alienated from his own body and his own self.

King Richard is killed in battle. The war is over and �peace lives again.�

We hear at the beginning of Looking for Richard and here again, while the closing credits roll: Our revels, now are ended. These our actors/As I foretold you, were all spirits, and/Are melted into air�� [3]

�Except we in the U.S., in the Empire, are left with a vision that is not limited to a fictional kingdom, king, or politicians. For the U.S. is nothing if not an imperialist state, �so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin,� and the idea of �peace� is akin to the Duke of Gloucester�s �winter of discontent.�

What do people do with the contempt hurled against them?

It is here when a fellow citizens offers a soliloquy. My younger cat let me know someone was standing outside my door. I leave the computer to see through the peephole a man, a white man, not a tenant but with a clipboard and he is writing as he looks at my door. I open it, and he begins his soliloquy as if speaking to a camera just to the side of my face. �Gov. Walker�� Then �registered to vote�� and see here �Barrett�� And he pauses. He offers me a flyer with Tim Barrett, the alternative!

The poster quickly returns to the clipboard when I do not reach out for the flyer. What�s the problem here? But he cannot say this and looks around, starts to move away. Not the electoral process, again! Come or go? And me: Do I close my door?

He does not want to know.

As an American, it is a good chance he believes in the narrative, weaned, as most American citizens are, on patriotic, flag-waving loyalty to an image of democracy, and produced 24/7 by corporate-owned media.

But as a liberal, he will not want war either. He is a die-hard Democrat, his work, saving democracy against the treachery of the Republicans - and never mind that I feel, at this moment, in this democracy, that the Gestapo has appeared at my door, and the surveillance apparatus enhanced by the current president at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., prevents me from declaring my determination to see true democracy rise from the grassroots citizenry in America.

He will not want drones flying over Afghanistan or Pakistan or the Midwest, deployed by local police working with Homeland Security and the CIA, but he supports the Democrats, who along with the Republicans, support the private towers that house to profit from discarded humanity.

He will recognize the unquenchable greed of the corporate-capitalist rulers, but believe there are good guys and gals in blue who can work the system for him and his fellow �little people.� While all the while ignoring how blue hats and red hats crisscross the congressional aisle and that only the greenbacks in the hats matter and those greenbacks are not for the �little people.�

He will believe that the alternative to the domestic and international �economic� crisis is to seat more blue hats in positions of power because he and his fellow citizens are powerless against the blue and red hats� batons, tasers, tear gas, bullets.

�What is the alternative?�

And his representatives in power wine and dine. Hearty laughs around the table.

�Mitchell is Black!� And now he offers a flyer with the face of a Black candidate running for Lieutenant Governor.

So much contempt!

Buckinghams dispatched to spew a narrative of harmonious contempt. The unions, outraged, organize the citizens over the threat of cuts to union dues while Mayor Tim Barrett, (D. Milwaukee), runs against Walker, with the centerpiece of his campaign crime prevention! Even the neighborhood lawns are organized to provide news of the battle, with signs labeled �Tim Barrett� now out-numbering those initial cardboard �troops� labeled �Recall Gov. Walker.�

The lesser of the two evils is winning!

What say the citizens of this business as usual narrative of change?

No challenge!

The citizens �spake not a word/But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,/Star�d each on other, and look�d deadly pale.�

In just under a minute, my fellow citizen�s voice has snapped, and he sees me now and those eyes no longer colorblind, see, for a moment, no longer the �fanatic� but the runaway, the escaped, and his feet move backward. 1964 has come and gone, but it�s been replaced with the anger. He has opinions! And a right to them! �Don�t I? Don�t I?� Just read this! I am not the bowing �Black� Buckingham, honored to be recognized by the Kingdom. Corporate ruler, you have been granted personhood! I have no soliloquy for your representative at my door, but your soliloquy seems to have faltered, however briefly and unprepared I am at the moment.


Our corporate rulers today are as cunning as the Duke of Gloucester. �All ruling classes,� writes Rosa Luxemburg, �fought to the end, with tenacious energy, to preserve their privileges� (�What Does the Spartacus League Want?�). [4] As �a theoretician, journalist, teacher, politician, and revolutionary,� [5] the Marxist scholar traced the evolution of historical ruling classes. Luxemburg continues:

The Roman patricians and the medieval feudal barons alike, the English cavaliers and the American slaveholders, the Walachian boyars and the Lyonnais silk manufactures - they all shed streams of blood, they all marched over corpses, murder, and arson, instigated civil war and treason, in order to defend their privileges and their power.

As a class, the capitalist are imperialists, �offspring of the caste of exploiters,� in fact, Luxemburg argues, this class �outdoes all its predecessors in brutality, in open cynicism and treachery.�

We are not now talking about the old days of the Duke of Gloucester, Richard III, or monarchies, but so-called democratic, modern-era civilizations in which the capitalist regime will defend �its profits and its privileges� to exploit anywhere in the world �with methods of cold evil� demonstrated by its �colonial politics� and �in the recent World War.� Here she means WWI, but we have witnessed the war to end all wars, the Korean and Vietnam wars, invasions of so-called �un-democratic� countries in Latin America and in Arab and Muslim lands, as well as CIA-backed regime overthrows of uncooperative CIA-puppet-overseers.

Of course, Luxemburg writes, such a determined, �cold evil,� contempt, will �mobilize� populations of �peasants against the cities, the backward strata of the working class against the socialist vanguard.� It will use whatever means necessary, including the �use of officers to instigate atrocities.� It will try to �paralyze� resistance no matter how �peaceful,� until it �turns the country into a smoking heap of rubble rather than voluntarily give up wage slavery.�

A challenge to imperialism must be done �step by step,� with an �iron fist and ruthless energy.�

The imperialists� emissaries, modern-day Buckinghams, what Luxemburg calls the obstructionists �maneuvers� the bourgeoisie, but the masses of citizens and soldiers must unite.

In this battle is the fight for humanity! For Mother Earth! Therefore, the �the fight for socialism is the mightiest civil war in world history, and the proletarian revolution must procure the necessary tools for this civil war; it must learn to use them - to struggle and to win.�

In this battle, citizens must not remain as silent as �dumb statues� or �breathing stones,� while the anointed Kings of today in �democratic� states, call for wars and more wars.

In this battle, citizens cannot allow the further abuse of their bodies and labor to become the mouthpiece and plastered billboards, rattling off state news as if it were the narrative of their liberation.

In this battle, the �wage slave� does not �sit next to the capitalist,� nor does the �rural proletarian� next to the Junker� in fraudulent equality to engage in parliamentary debate over questions of life and death.�

In this battle, the goal of citizens, poor and working class, is to seize �the entire power of the state in its calloused fist... using it to smash the head of the ruling classes.��That alone,� Luxemburg writes,� is democracy�!

�That alone is not a betrayal of the people.�

The business of these rulers cannot become a distraction, but let them serve as a jolt to return us to our work!

Leave �parlimentarism,� as Rosa Luxemburg would say, to the bourgeois class. It is their game - supporting �the well-known illusions of current opportunism as we have come to know it� (�Organizational Question of Russian Social Democracy�).

Let us not be fooled by �the ambitious castaways from the bourgeoisie� who offer to lead the people to a new and better world!

What do people do with the contempt hurled against them?

Occupy! Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.

[1] War of the Roses

[2] The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Gramercy Books, 1997.

[3] A speech by Prospero from The Tempest

[4] First published in Die Rote Fahne, December 14, 1918, reprint, The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, editors

Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson, 2004).

[5] Annelies Laschitza, Introduction by the Editor of the German Edition,� The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, editors, Georg Adler, Peter Hudis, Annelies Laschitza, 2011.

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