Essay

Anonymously Speaking [a short story]

 

Anonymopusly speaking, Ginny, Ginny, come out of your dark room, deny your doctors and refuse that glass of milk.

What if, Anonymous said, if this were an untitled manuscript by an anonymous author found on the D Train in the New York City Subway one afternoon? What if I were that person who found this text, and what if I were the person who was presenting here in its entirety without editing, and with only a very modest introduction, which this could function as for the piece I am actually presenting to you? But then who this “I” that is saying (?), writing (?) these words here for you to read–and that is the actual in-the-world reader that you are when you read, but then what is it that you become when you do,  someone other than you were before when you were not reading thus not the reader?

Herein, though, are the opinions of an anonymous writer (me) as they were found in typed pages on the New York City Subway . . . how then am I writing this if I am the one who lost them . . . but then you are confusing the narrator/expositor (for every narrator does not always and only narrate; sometimes he expositates, says in expository prose what he wishes to provide in exposition . . .) for the author. There is an author behind this, behind me, as you should know, should be able to understand by any one of the several if X then Ys that extend in the logic of the text. Yes, this text is left here for your perusal and conclusion, whatever that might be. What your opinions should be or should not be I will not venture here, nor will the author, who is there first and the last of this text, but is not the first and the last of interpretation. Author intent is quite useless in criticism.

So, let me say, Let us say that Anonymous begins  here. . .

Live Free or Die is the motto of New Hampshire, on every license plate you see, definitely unspoken in the character of a people far, far removed from the understanding of too many of the people I live among in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, too many people who have suffered one or another form of repression, for certain, oppression, it can be assumed, as it has been historically verified in some cases. I have lived among many people from various and varied places within the Soviet Union and The People’s Republic of China. What I have seen first hand, experienced myself in company and in other forms of social interaction is clear: No one from any Totalitarian Communist society has escaped the formative effects of that totalitarian enculturation, assimilation, indoctrination. There was state manufactured and delivered dogma to be swallowed, either whole, or chewed and digested. There were those who delightfully chewed and digested their State dogma, feeding themselves and nourishing their minds with propaganda and ideology . . . not so unlike those living under Totalitarian Western Bourgeois Capitalism . . . and do not tell me that you imagine that Western Bourgeois Capitalism is not totalitarian in parallel with any totalitarian communist societies, or totalitarian fascist ones. In the ways these parallels can be drawn, the United Sates, France, the Soviet Union and Nazis Germany are all of a piece; in many, many other ways, they are each quite distinct, as the United Staes in many of its own ways is distinct from every other–any other society. The complexities we are talking of here, socially, economically, politically, governmentally, ideologically are . . . perhaps swallowing dogma whole only leaves one with a socio-political gastro-intestinal distress, as if there is an analogy for gastro-intestinal processes or disruptions in what we can call the political mind; but then we do speak of the body politic, don’t we? In my understanding, from what I see, what I hear, what I personally experience in my neighborhood and other neighborhoods around the city, there are far too many people from the former republics of the Soviet Union or from mainland China who were either members of the Communist Parties in their respective countries, or have assimilated the manners of operating within such a system. Yet, all forms of totalitarian control . . . western or eastern, bourgeois capitalist or bourgeois communist (and you do know what I am saying . . .) have their own set of appropriate and in appropriate manners and  behavior. Political Correctness in the forms familiar to us in the United States actually have their first imprinting in the factory made citizens of the Soviet Union. This is not to say that political correctness has not always been the marker of social or political advance if not just economic prosperity in all societies for all time. What is politically or socially or economically excommunicate and anathema has always been codified and enforced one way or another in every society. We are though talking about totalitarian societies. We are also talking about how much dissent is allowed, tolerated and to what extent this is used either in the cause of freedom and democracy, or as a method of controlling liberty and choice. We are thus talking of how full of shit a society purporting to be democratic actually is with respect for how much freedom is actually accessible . . . and access is the key because the rights of freedom are inherent to our humanity; it is not the law that gives us our rights. The law can impede access and the free exercise thereof our rights.

Adapting to a totalitarian social schema designed to keep everyone on his toes, walking on egg shells, and participating in small or slightly larger degrees in the repression that was wide spread became as natural–if we can speak of the nature of a society–as leaves growing on trees. The horror of all totalitarian oppression is that everyone participates in larger or lesser degrees, no one is exempt, and the repressive actions become collective. One such reflex that I have both noted myself and have been told by former citizens of such societies, and over the number of years living next to, across from and among people from the former republics of the Soviet Union and China, is the penchant for–or at least the motivation toward–character assassination. There is an ease and sometimes a visible, although albeit unconscious, glee that comes over the face when saying something defamatory about another. The legal distinction of defamation of character seems lost on those I have witnessed engaging in such displays of micro-Stalinist or micro-Maoist activity. Do we imagine that our say something if you see something is not also part of this, even if it is also linked with good sense? Defamation of character is a sport among too many from either country, it is fast becoming the norm from Americans  too; and the ease with which some people from either country can perform on the stage of informing is astounding to me, but then I am astounded the way most managers and administrators in the workplaces I have been in perform their tasks of order and control.

The character of the informer is a role too many have played for the purposes of social advancement through the decline of another’s reputation. I have known those who have experienced the same from Americans in the City University of New York, a place where you might expect better ethics, but then you would be mistaken. Primo Levi noted the actions and reflexes from”society’s betters” when put against in comparison with those of “society’s alleged underbelly.” It was astounding the human and humane responses from criminals, drunks, prostitutes the working poor when compared with the inhumane responses and reflexes from doctors, lawyers, teachers financiers and university professors, and just how easily it came to the later group to betray one another to the Nazis. Societies such as Communist China or the Soviet Union were all too ready and willing to accept such information, either anonymously or not. Often, to settle petty scores, or at other times just to get a leg up on someone in either a real or an imagined pecking order, informing as a method of character assassination was the way. We become more like the former Soviet Union in our social manners and behavior.

This has been attested to by more than just a few people I have known over the years from either country, more specifically the Soviet Union, and not because it happened there more often but because I have found Russians more critical of the Soviet Union than I have found Chinese to be critical of Communist China, and I have found them less xenophobic and a lot less racist or anti-American than I have the Chinese I engage daily in Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst Brooklyn, particularly when they do not know that I am an ESOL teacher that can help them advance socially. When they discover this, all changes, and from either Russian speakers from the former republics of the Soviet Union or Chinese from mainland China, I am received with a complete and visible transformation of character.

It is not exactly disturbing to me how personal conflicts, when some people were concerned, were managed by going to the authorities with something damaging about another person–it is just all too human. But it was also all too Russian and certainly all too Chinese. “I thought I heard someone listening to the radio last night. I think I heard English. It wasn’t Russian.” I am certain there is a variation of this for Chinese.

Now in societies set up to do nothing else but to manage their populations through manipulation, propaganda, fear, coercion, force and/or investigation, telling tales about someone is useful and even encouraged. It did not matter to the authorities, for the most part, if what was said were true–the authorities in China and the Soviet Union themselves often fabricated false reports to coerce and control. Any excuse to investigate was seized with delight. Gleeful were the Communist authorities who had patriotic citizens who were concerned enough to say something if they thought they saw something or heard something, or just were bold enough to fabricate something, perhaps for something as petty as a personal slight. Virtual paranoia was the norm.You can almost feel it, it is sometimes palpable when in proximity to some people from these societies. It is sometimes almost the same as when engaging socially with Arab muslim women who have just arrived within the last year or two . . . and do I need to tell us that there is an endemic misogyny that accompanies any society that claims to be traditional to support the idea that it is okay to be medieval in its attitudes toward women–or shouldI say, behind the times, if you prefer cliches.

It is unfortunate when this kind of mentality–one I repeat that I see growing among Americans in their most fervent anti-American attitudes and reflexes–yes, this mentality affects the psychology of individuals operating here in the United States–and it does when people of this kind find themselves in positions of petty authority here in the City of New York, as I have on a number of occasions confronted one or another of these former communists from China or the Soviet Union because one thing a former member of any communist party does not do is sit home and sip his coffee leisurely over his morning paper.

I have experienced this myself first hand, from students and colleagues; the extent some people from either country are willing to lie, to distort, or to imagine without evidence that they have enough to testify to what they are saying is amazing to me. There is nothing in any of these instances I am alluding to that I understand to be American or democratic in any way, or anything fostered by a living, breathing understanding of the First Amendment or the Fifth. I have never wondered why fish cannot swim in the air.

But then after the Patriot Act, these individuals are now at a premium. Former communists, or just simple separate former citizens of China or the Soviet Union who had been fully assimilated into being good citizens in either form of Totalitarianism, are a perfect match for the kind of state bred paranoia Real Power in America wants. And as I mentioned above, former communists in either country are not the kind of people who will just sit back and relax and enjoy themselves–they will seek positions, particularly of petty authority, where they will–and do–operate within the former mentality of their former assimilation. But then States and bureaucracies have more in common with each other universally internationally than they do with the people they allegedly serve, no? Former German Nazis operated very well in the United States and the Soviet Union. Gestapo helped build the East German State Police. Nazis science gave us the steroid monstrosities of the East German Women’s Olympic Swim Team in the 70s. Alien mentalities operating at the level of any petty authority, particularly when Totalitarian Communist, are the greatest threat to the security of the United States, or more specifically, the freedom of its People. Do we really want to become more like China or the Soviet Union in any way? Why then allow former communists to lie to us about how they were coerced into being members of the Communist Party. Having been a member of the Communist Party to get a better paying job has become the joke of refugees from China or the republics of the Soviet Union.

Putin’s Russia has its young Russian adherents, I guess as did Franco in Spain, Pinochet in Chile, Mussolini in Italy, et cetera et cetera. With China leading the world in sexual slavery, female suicide (an average of 500 women per day) and suicide in general, I guess repression is custom; it might have become for some, as Chinese as Tao or Confucianism. We must not forget the forced abortions in China when the fetus is female. Forced abortions are as oppressive to a woman and her right to choose as would be the unavailability to have an abortion here in the states–a repressive current from the lunatic wing of the Republican Party seeking to manifest itself in law. And we still tend to think that Muslim societies lead the way in the world in the matter of misogyny; but the time has not yet come to revise entirely our attitudes toward the treatment of women in some west African Muslim societies, nor should we turn a blind eye on systemic violence and atrocities perpetrated by Muslim fundamentalist groups against Christians because President Obama chooses to do so.

I am not joking when I say that you must beware of the totalitarian mind–it is as un-American as Satanism is anathema to a mono-theist. My friends–be very, very wary. But do understand that every individual has the potential to be either exception to, or example of, the rule.

Now Live Free or Die, I understand–what I do understand better is that we must live Free the American way and any alien mentality in the mind of our democratic body politic, contrary to the best impulses of American freedom, should die, simply by us not fostering or nurturing this alien mind. This, of course, must come from a higher calling or election, if you will, in literacy. American democracy is able to manage the best impulses of the human humane, not as the totalitarian which manages the pettiest drives and impulses of the vengeful and vindictive mind. All personal violent impulses under totalitarianism are channeled into State oppression. It can also happen here if we allow it.

There is a crisis in civilization at hand, my friends, and we are not exactly prepared to defend democracy and freedom the way we need to, which is what allows the lunatic fringes of our politics to assert themselves more loudly and boldly, to the detriment of the freedom they purportedly are defending. Yet I find many of America’s liberals as scary and as stupid (not quite as semi-literate) as are America’s conservatives.

All enemies foreign and domestic, but now the foreign is domestic. The Constitution needs defending, but the literacy sponsored in our Public Schools mismanages that. We have to oppose totalitarian communist mentality as we need to oppose, for example, any imposition of Sharia Law. Sharia Law used to enforce misogyny cannot be permitted under the pretext of religious freedom. Misogyny is not a First Amendment right. Totalitarian Communist mentality is not an alternative for American democracy. The Constitution of the United States must remain above Sharia law; it is above, before and after Sharia law in all matters social and political. If someone wants to keep it in his living-room, okay; but as soon as he leaves his home, he must abide the laws of American democratic society, which extends to teaching his children not to chase and taunt western women for how they dress, which too many Pakistani parents do not do in the building complex I live in in Brooklyn. I see too many times, Pakistani Muslim children running after women as they walk taunting them for how they dress–I have to say something because this is not a Muslim theocracy, nor is it Pakistan where it seems virtually acceptable for a brother to kill his sister for eloping–these are all of piece. This is the United States of America, and neither Muslims nor Communists have very much, if anything at all, to teach us about freedom and democracy. We are the last best hope for human kind, and unless we understand what this means and the responsibilities inherent, we are going to fail at advancing civilization.

The Soviet Union was not a half dozen of whatever donuts you like while America was six of the same. If we sponsored the kind of literacy that went into writing and creating the Constitution, we might actually read it and understand it and be better able to defend it, but we do not, unfortunately. And again, I see this particularly in how we do not confront some Muslims for what amounts to misogynist behavior and attitudes. Do I need say nothing when confronted with the Arab Muslims in my neighborhood voting for measures to turn back the clock on Roe versus Wade?

Let me just say again that neither the Soviet Union nor China has anything to teach us in the matters and manners of democracy and freedom–and this is not a recurrence of American Know-Nothing politics. This is simply stated,without hyperbole. It is a truth I take to be self-evident; therefore it is not a matter for debate. I do not have to embrace the devil to prove Christian principles.

Live free or die–another to be or not? I know where I stand; I know how I have to stand opposed to any threat to the Constitution of the United States.

We need not die to live free–why leave ourselves opened to the disease contracted under the epidemics of totalitarianism . . . what do I need to do to prove I am good–turn the other cheek to Satan.

Yes, defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, but with intelligence, advanced literacy, reason, rationality and sobriety . . . a tall order, of course, but the last best hope for civilization is a great demand, one we can answer, if prepared–what is any of this supposed to mean. It’s coming off a bit trite in places, no? The effects of too much media bombardment by facts facts and more facts themselves confused for the data, data, date we have been inundated by . . . statistics are in themselves not facts and facts in themselves are not knowledge and knowledge in itself is never wisdom and wisdom turned into the gray of theory is not wisdom lived in the green of life.

Anonymity, Virginia Woolf inferred (and I am not quoting), has been the foremost condition of woman throughout history.

 

 

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