Manuel Valenzuela: The Other Superpower
The Other Superpower: Fraternity, Solidarity and the World's People
By Manuel Valenzuela
Feb 18, 2004, 01:25
A year ago I was in Barcelona, Spain, participating in the February 15th worldwide march protesting against what was to be the coming American invasion of Iraq. There I was, one of one and a half million people, out of a metropolitan population of four million, marching through Barcelona's beautiful and vibrant streets that were suddenly transformed into rivers of humanity, overflowing as if hit by a giant flood of energized Mediterranean water. We were all witness to a systemic metamorphosis of asphalt to flesh, millions standing shoulder to shoulder, squeezed as tight as a can of sardines, under the control of one collective movement that guided us all to our final destination.
It was unlike anything I have ever experienced, one of those life events that both humbles and inspires. The sheer awesomeness of being placed in the middle of 1.5 million people glued together in a confined place still sends shivers down my spine. From one-month old babies clinging to their mothers to ninety-year old couples experiencing yet one more wonder in their life journeys, from anarchists to capitalists, Catholics to atheists, rich to poor, Catalans to Spaniards, Arabs to Americans, we all stood together in fraternity and solidarity, demonstrating our opposition to what we knew would be an unjust war concocted through unjust lies and deceptions.
Throughout the long march traversing Barcelona's many streets not one police officer could be seen, not one act of disobedience spotted. Flowers and placards trumpeted our mood, our only weapons fighting the system. The menacing black armored riot police prevalent throughout the United States every time a hundred people decide to protest was nonexistent. So too was the virtual police state accompanying such fascist tactics. One and a half million people marched unobstructed and peacefully through the lazy yet majestic Saturday afternoon, absorbing surreal Gaudi architecture and stunning European medieval and modern construction throughout the route, jumping from warm spots of sunlight into cold sections of shadows.
Whistles and drums, singing and chants, posters and giant puppets, the atmosphere resembled a merry carnival of days long gone, a symphony of spirit and energy that reverberated throughout the cosmopolitan city sending waves of liveliness swirling into the dark mystery that is the universe. Friendship and brotherhood abounded, if only for some hours, combining in an amalgam of human greatness.
Everybody became one, every separate being became a complete whole as the giant mass of human flesh gushed out into the streets from the vast underground tunnel network of subways, proclaiming a message of peace and human rights, of solidarity with those who would soon die and those who would suffer heinous maimings and injuries at the hands of American fighter jets, bullets and tanks. In a country where 80 to 90 percent of the population was against the actions of the US and their own government, it was refreshing to see millions leave their homes and march in unison at the gross and nefarious injustices that were about to be committed.
United we stood, not an inch separating one from the next, protesting injustice and corruption, unmoral leaders and greed-infected exploiters. The anger and feeling of impotence had been transformed to action; the knowledge that the will of the great majority meant nothing and was being ignored did not dissipate. Yet there we stood, a mass of humanity, expropriating entire streets, boulevards and plazas away from the state, reclaiming them for humankind, making a statement that the will of the masses could not be silenced. In one loud, fused voice Barcelona made herself known, proclaiming her displeasure at the direction the powerful were leading the entire globe into.
Similarly, mass demonstrations and marches were conducted throughout Europe, indeed, throughout the world. Tens of millions exploded in a never before seen show of solidarity, from Latin America to Africa to Asia, from all walks of life, of all religions, colors and creeds, walking and chanting in opposition to Bush's warmongering and imperial aspirations. Never in the history of the world had so many joined hands in such a show of fraternity, manifesting a powerful message that resonated in Washington and London, Madrid and Paris. A new movement had been born, resurrecting voices long since dead, spreading worldwide and touching millions upon millions of human energies. The rise of the second superpower had commenced.
It is obvious what the first superpower is. The United States stands unchallenged among the brotherhood of nations. It is simply the most powerful state entity, economically and militarily, that the world has ever known. At present it has no rivals, no challengers. It stands alone among world nations in sheer power, able to dominate world decisions, regions and nations. No other political superpower exists.
To Noam Chomsky, however, a second superpower has emerged that may soon rival the United States. He is not referring to any one state or nation, though, which is still some years away from rivaling the US (think China). This new superpower is the growing fraternity and solidarity among the people’s of the world that are uniting in pursuit of justice, equality, nonviolence and human rights. This power is all of us, six billion humans, from all continents and walks of life, of all shades of the mutated human skin pigmentation phenomenon, having the joint potential of the greatest energy the world has ever witnessed.
We are too many, too important, too powerful. As individuals we are but mere plebeians, impotent to affect much of what goes on in the world. Fused together, however, we become that most powerful of armies that produces and consumes, that decides elections and fights in wars. We are the tools the elite and powerful need in order to continue subjugating and exploiting us. We are the battery that keeps thieves and murderers prospering. We are the bread that sustains them and the slaves that enrich them. So many of us and so few of them, yet we allow the scum of the Earth, the lowest common denominator to dictate what was, what is and what will become. Without us they become us.
The moment we decide to act is the moment we begin deciding our own fates. Millions upon millions morphed as one are the engine that runs the second superpower, the only rival to those who run and manage the United States and its many viceroys, proctors and puppets that control the nations of the world. February 15th 2004 was our first birthday, our awakening and our realization that tens of millions organizing, marching and protesting can make a difference in a world where that goal becomes harder with each passing day. On that day the peoples of the world allowed a hiccup that was not supposed to exist to become a thunderous rumble. A movement became a reality and our rulers trembled at the thought of more manifestations involving an ever-growing number of millions.
With the evolution of our civilization we are becoming more aware of and receptive to the concept of human rights and respect for nonviolence. Humanity has reached a point where, thanks to technology and communication, the planet is becoming a village, opening up the evils of ignorance and indifference to an understanding of the fascinating diversity that comprises our species. With an acceptance and familiarity of our many faces and colors we are defeating the fear that flourishes with ignorance. We fear what we do not know but once we know what we once feared our fear gives way to bravery in confronting that which is different to us. Security and comfort soon follow.
The inevitable amalgamation of the human species is proceeding accordingly, from the time we left the forests and caves to the technologically sophisticated civilization of the present. As our world shrinks we are becoming ever more aware of the plight of billions who have been rotting away their existence in large part because of the policies of our rich nations and the exploitations of the few elite. As a society many of us are becoming empathetic creatures of altruistic motivation, concerned for our fellow man both at home and in “third world” shantytowns, reservations and hellholes. It is because of this that the other superpower is slowly growing up.
In Iraq we saw the unfairness, the lies and deceptions, the way Bush bullied an entire planet to quench his appetite for Iraqi blood and oil. Millions not privy to the American propaganda machine saw a reality that failed to yield the moral high ground. Millions who were not brainwashed or conditioned realized the putrid stench that was the case for invasion and occupation emanating from the White House. It was those people throughout the globe that gave life to the other superpower.
Seventy to ninety percent of citizens in most nations of all continents were opposed to war, except in the US. Could the incessant propaganda spawned by both government and corporate media be the culprit? Without a doubt. In the aftermath of 9/11 it was impossible to protest anything the Bush administration did. To do so was to be labeled unpatriotic and treasonous, sympathetic to the terrorists. This was not done by accident, thus hindering dissent, protest and discussion. When February 15, 2003 came along, only the bravest took to the streets. As a result, the number of people marching in solidarity with the world was minimal, and the US population was made ignorant to the great movement that had just taken place. To the rest of the planet, the day of fraternity was a monument to humanity and a realization that together millions could cause a minor ripple to become a colossal tidal wave.
Today, the few elites and their puppet leaders are dictating the present and future course of events, bringing us perilously close to jeopardizing our species’ future. Our planet is reeling, our civilization is destroying billions of lives through its vicious circle of birth, death and its in-between methodical caste system that is laying waste to billions of souls. Billions are being exploited, their talent and potential eviscerated, struggling to survive from meal to meal, day to day. Misery and dehumanization
affecting billions is to them the normal course of human existence, the only experience in their daily lives.
While the peoples of the rich north bask in the glories of superfluous excessiveness, rendering Earth a future wasteland through vastly disproportionate exploitation of both land and man, those of the south suffer the consequences of their indigent lives, struggling to feed, clothe and shelter themselves in the face of indelible and inescapable environments that rob them of a life worth living and a chance to experience the same privileged life of their brothers and sisters of the north.
As months turn into years and we become aware of the plight of those that through no fault of their own live in perpetual squalor a solidarity begins to emerge thanks to the visual and written imagery of a more open world that creates sympathy and understanding for our fellow humans. Combining resources, intellect and commonalities the other superpower begins to breathe. With time we realize that we have more in common with each other than we previously believed. After all, we are all humans. We begin to comprehend that our rulers and elected leaders do nothing with our best intentions in mind. Rather, as Bush proves again and again, the common man is but a hindrance to the real interests at play, namely, those of the emerging behemoth, the Corporate Leviathan and its slimy network of oligarchs.
In time we find that we are all in the same boat, whether we live in the rich north or the poor south. It does not matter, a war is being waged against us all, clandestinely and with our unknowing support. We are but pawns in the system, the cogs that help the economic engine run by our conditioned need to produce and consume while becoming obedient drones of sequestered thought. Whether we live in cardboard boxes or in cookie cutter four bedroom homes the reality remains that we are exploitable beings harvested to enrich the oligarchy, whether through slave wages or slave hours, through wars costing life or limb, through consumption costing lungs and arteries.
The other superpower is opening its eyes, becoming aware of what those who lead are doing to our world and our lives. The peoples’ voice is being ignored, drowned out even when we express ourselves in one united scream. What we say no longer matters; our impotence grows more pervasive with each new leach we elect to office. Lies, distortions and deceptions, propaganda, brainwashing and manipulation, we have become the marionettes of the powerful, the tools by which our rulers subvert our democracy, liberties and freedoms. These most cherished institutions have themselves become nothing but a farce.
Only as the second superpower can we survive, growing to rival what the debauched leaders of the US have become. Millions upon millions rising like a mighty ball of fire can make a difference, demanding change in our leaders and in a failing society that leaves billions in the dustbins of history. Indeed, we must make a difference. Like February 15, 2003, we can mobilize and organize, march and peacefully protest. We can change the system from within, at work, at play and at the ballot box. We are the many, we are the nectar that the powerful need to live. The power lies with us, the other superpower. Like a snowball effect the movement will grow, helping build the flake that will launch the avalanche down the mountain of change.
Millions marching down streets is a beautiful and powerful sight to behold. It is the spectacle of all things great about our species. It is us united, at peace and at work. It is a beast that rumbles forward, demanding change and true democracy, sending tremors throughout the halls of power, creating solidarity and fraternity among peoples. The other superpower has arrived, our time has come. To march with the rest of humanity in unbridled peace and harmony is to experience an energy that the few cannot halt or dare squash. It is to send a message that we are not happy with the present course of events. Our discontent must be heard, our peaceful manifestations seen, if we are to survive this latest scourge, then united we must be. Boston in July and New York City in September, the other superpower awaits thee.
© Copyright 2004 by AxisofLogic.com
Manuel Valenzuela is social
critic and commentator, activist, writer and author of
Echoes in the Wind, a novel to be published in Spring of
2004. His articles appear weekly on axisoflogic.com where he
is also contributing editor. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes
comments and can be reached at email@example.com