My column, “Knowledge, ideology, and real socialism in our times,” is written for people who are interested in serious reflection on issues of social justice, involving reading and learning about historic and contemporary unjust global structures, and about the sustained struggles of the colonized peoples of the world for a more just world. And for people who desire to engage in practical reflection on ways to contribute to the creation of a more just world.
As I explain in the April 6, 2021 Preface to the column, my life journey has taken me from the mainstream of American political culture in the early 1960s, to participation in the student anti-war movement in the late 1960s, encounter with black nationalism in the early 1970s, study of the Catholic philosopher Bernard Lonergan in the late 1970s, study of the Marx in the 1980s, and sustained encounter with Latin America from the 1990s to the present, especially the socialist revolution of Cuba. In my journey, I never lost sight of the question, what needs to be done to bring the United States to a more just foreign policy with respect to the neocolonized peoples?
So I have spent many years living among the colonized, formed and cared for by them. But I remained aware that I belong to the world of the colonizer, and it was somehow in that world of the colonizer that my lifework and mission had to be found. The colonized themselves reinforced this orientation. They were not making a constant effort to form and care for me in order that I would become lost among them. I was expected to do something with respect to the world from which I came, which presumably, I know something about.
My journey has given me a unique voice, which may benefit the reader on his or her own journey, because it is a voice that is not heard in the societies of the North, at least not in a consistent and coherent way. It is the voice of the Third World, more particularly, the voice of the exceptional leaders and teachers of the Third World movements for national and social liberation from colonial domination and imperialism. More precisely still, it is an appropriation of those insights from exceptional Third World leaders and teachers that are the most relevant to educating us in the North concerning what we can do with respect to our own dilemmas, adapting them, of course, to our concrete situations.
The content of the commentaries has its own special stamp. There are certain matters that I explain, and to which I repeatedly refer, which are not frequently discussed in the North, even among intellectuals of the Left. For example, the Cuban political process of people’s democracy; and the declarations, historical and contemporary, of the Non-Aligned Movement. And there are certain terms and phraseology that are repeated in my commentaries that do not have wide currency: the core and periphery of the capitalist world-economy; the economic function of the periphery; the neocolonial world-system; the sustained structural crisis of the modern world-system; a new international economic order; and an alternative, more just, democratic, and sustainable world-system. Moreover, the content includes a series of topics, much like a professor were to design an outline for a course: the history of the modern-world system; the colonial foundations of the modern world-system; the resistance of the colonized; the neocolonial structures of the current neocolonial world-system; the importance cases of China, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and the Non-Aligned Movement. But in this course, the reader finds that these topics are interwoven in the bi-weekly commentaries, which discuss current events, critically respond to current analyses, or commemorate anniversaries of significant events and historic persons.
The commentaries are from 1500 to 4000 words, usually around 3000, which is supposed to take the reader about 13 or 14 minutes, according to somebody’s calculation. Since the commentaries arrive in the reader’s Email Inbox twice a week (Tuesday and Friday mornings at 10:00, New York time), you have two or three days to find fifteen minutes or so, and of course you could do it in two or three sessions. I hope that this is not too much for the reader, and it is a good pace for me to write and for us to maintain an ongoing reflection.
The worldview that I am formulating in the commentaries is consistent with what progressive Third World nations plus China are declaring and are implementing in practice, but with special attention to the meaning of these developments for those of us who are citizens of the nations of the North. At the same time, it is an understanding that shares certain principles and values of conservatism, as expressed, surprisingly, by both Third World socialism and American conservatives. These conservative values include the conviction that there is a reasonable process for discerning the true and the right; that citizens are called to personal responsibility toward society, work, and family; and that all citizens, in any nation, ought to have a strong sense of national identity and commitment to the nation’s highest historic foundational values. Although my journey has taken me to commitment to the fundamental principles formulated by Third World socialist revolutions, I remain a patriotic American with certain religious convictions.
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I donate 10% of my earned income from subscriptions to the Cuban Philosophical Society. I have been connected to the Society since my retirement from college teaching in 2011, and the Society has given me the honor of naming me to its Board of Directors. I have played an active role in its annual international meetings. Although its members come from across the island, many of the members of the Society are affiliated, formally or informally, with the School of “Political Science from the South” of the University of Havana, directed by Dr. Thalía Fung. “Political Science from the South” is a transdisciplinary initiative, including scholars in philosophy, political science, economics, history, anthropology, and sociology. It seeks to develop an analysis of human history and political dynamics from the perspective of the global South, endeavoring to develop insights that are relevant to political strategies of the nations and social movements of the Third World.
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Greetings from Havana, the capital of the Latin American anti-imperialist revolution.