Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

of words: narrative, film and non-fiction

Life in a country of air-quotes: On the steps of the “Parliament” of the “German” “Democratic” “Republic”

This was a few months after the opening of the wall. Certainly not before, - I can't imagine sitting on the steps of the East German Parliament grinning luridly in my weird 1990s jeans. That just was not done.

This was a few months after the opening of the wall. Certainly not before – I can’t imagine sitting on the steps of the East German Parliament grinning luridly in my weird 1990s jeans anytime before that. That just was not done.

German? Well, I suppose so, but really an extension of the Soviet Union. And Republic? That implies sovereignty, in a place fully occupied by the Soviet Union. But Democratic least of all. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seemed self-evident that there were no democratic institutions such as councils, advisory boards or community groups (other than the Lutheran Church) that were not overtly controlled by members of the SED, the East German Communist Party. Fear was so great that the only people who dared speak at any public meeting, no matter how small or local, were those ambitious SOBs who took the opportunity to kiss the asses of the party leadership. These were the people who succeeded in East Germany, the people willing to humiliate themselves with verbally talented fealty to the party elders. It was a gerontocracy with a backward looking dynamic with little space for new ideas. Inevitably, it was the Lutheran Church, the only independent institution, that became the forum for regime-change in 1989.


November 10, 2014 Posted by | politics, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

To not be divided or to not be defeated: That is the question, people.

At the Occupy Wall Street demonstration on Wednesday, October 5, 2011, I was heartened by the incredibly large number of young people out in the streets taking part in their democratic rights in ways that their textbooks, teachers and parents have been mostly silent about. They were marching for their rights…  doing something that until now was only being modeled by a fringe group of right wing bullies called the tea party. In so doing, they are creating for themselves a culture of participation that has been so desperately lacking in America ever since the sold out greed of the Me generation of politics: Ronald Reagan and his ilk.

Because of this gap in people’s movement, there is a need for us all to reconnect on a cultural level. For older people to drop their elitist laziness (I’ve been there, done that… I was out on the street before they were born…) and to get back in the street (because obviously, we weren’t spectacularly successful the first time around). Even more important is for young people to learn about the experiences of our older generation, the success, and especially the ways we went wrong… because they are the ones that must take us forward from here. And there were many mistakes: the surrender to drugs which flooded our movement in a fairly orchestrated way, the flirtation with divisive bolshevik ideologies which sought to create change by destroying America and sending people through even more misery in order to wake them up – the heartless Stalinist approach.

And along the way, they will enjoy the knowledge that they are part of a historical movement that transcends generations, languages, cultures and societies. That’s why I was so upset when I heard a young woman chanting on Wednesday:

The people!


Will never be divided!

It was like fingernails on the blackboard. I corrected her, by shouting The People! United! Will never be DEFEATED! Then when I saw the embarrassment on her face, I felt conflicted, wondering if it was really necessary to correct people when they are expressing themselves… Was I just being a curmudgeonly old school teacher.

So I reflected on it. And came up with some reasons why I stand by my action. First of all, never being defeated is more important than never being divided. There may be issues that divide us, things that we have to work out, and that is fine. But we should be ready to put that all aside when our existence and the strength of our movement is in danger. Divide if you must, people, but please, never be defeated!

And also, it is advisable to remember our history, something that my generation could have done much better. This slogan sounds nice with the “divided” ending because then it rhymes. The original doesn’t rhyme because the original is a translation from the Spanish, which does rhyme:

El Pueblo!


Jamás será vencido!

And it comes from the Allende Revolution in Chile, the progressive movement that managed to gain control of the government of that country, only to see it all crushed under the CIA backed coup d’etat of General Pinochet. The wikipedia entry on this slogan goes as far back as a song by the group Quilapayún, a Chilean folk lore group closely associated with the Allende movement. Let’s not forget Chile, a country which has suffered from some of the worst excesses of U.S. interventionism in Latin America in recent decades. They are way beyond that history, and so are we, thank God, but it is important to know that although the present protest, no matter where or when, may be suppressed temporarily, we will always be remembered and our voices will ring out across the years, from land to land. El Pueblo!

October 7, 2011 Posted by | happenings, politics | , , , | 2 Comments