08 April 2006

The Cheat tirades about anarquistas in Barcelona, begging to know what the hell it is they're on about. Should we start a "Spain Expat Liberation Front"?

Once upon a time I was a turbulent young art student waging a bitter war against the forces of mediocrity and bullshit.  It was the early 90’s, and everywhere I looked I saw pasty middle-aged men in $100 department store trench coats beating their way to work in the recession.  I saw the rampant commercialism of MTV and its zombie following of teenagers mopping up whatever tripe the glossy people told them was cool, wondering “where are the intellectuals of my generation?”  Together with my artsy friends we bashed our heads together searching the past and other cultures for answers to the burning questions of our age: Now that Communism has collapsed, what will fill the void?  How will our generation finance growth now that the post-war boom is truly over and society can no longer support the social welfare system?  Does Kurt Cobain lip-synch?

Yes, my friend, it was a time of great challenges.  We all thought we had the right wavelength to deal with the system, and that everybody else was stupid.  Sure, they had money and a new Chrysler mini van but that’s because they were either sellouts or too thick to see what was really important, like going to the Sex and Violence Cartoon Festival in a damp downtown Toronto basement.  Looking back, this stuff was hardly worthy of a political uprising.  In fact it was downright anonymous and harmless.

Now its 2006, and I am a small business owner in a foreign country.  No worries though, I’m still bucking the system.  Couple of months as an illegal alien, eating lentils from a can and living in a draughty student apartment keep me from conforming.  Its not easy, but I am steadily building a self-sustaining livelihood that I hope will keep any future family and myself fed and happy.  It’s a simple dream to be sure, but an honest living.

So what the hell are all these anarquistas about?  I walk through Barcelona every day, confronted by the disgruntled youth of my city and have to wonder.  They look like 70’s punks wearing names of bands dead 10 years before these dudes were born, adopting for their iconography the images of Lenin, Che Guevara and (my favourite) Bob Marley.  The Socialist revolutionaries I sort of understand, at least they acted on their ideological principles, but Marley?  A spoiled brat son of a middle class plantation manager, he was a lifelong wasteoid and inventor of Rastafarianism, a hokey religion that ultimately killed him when he refused to let doctors amputate a cancerous toe…great idol, guys. 

Look, aside from the fact that none of these kids ever witnessed the horrors of real Communism, like massive corruption, random imprisonment and state sponsored death squads (to say nothing of the total lack of individual freedom or equality that they are championing for) they squat in abandoned buildings then demand compensation and a free livelihood.  We were an angry, emotional bunch too with our own demands, but we never defaced, stole or invaded other people’s property and we certainly knew what Communism was good for.  If you don’t believe me, go visit Slovakia or Bulgaria and ask some of the older folks about “heroes of the people” like Stalin, Erich Honecker, or Nicolae Ceausescu.  Then go read Animal Farm by George Orwell.  He saw.

Look man, I want change too, but read something and come up with positive ideas, instead of drinking beer on the steps of a church with your dog and attitude.  Pumping your fist in the air and screaming shit at normal folks about a failed social experiment that is responsible for killing more people than the Nazis isn’t making a good case to the powers that be in “the system”.  You want to present a dialogue; us old farts in the trench coat brigade are listening.  But you might want to take a shower and get a job first.  I know it sucks, but that hot water mom uses to wash your Che T-shirt comes from somewhere.  If it were otherwise, I’d be leading the “Spain Expat Liberation Front” to Madrid demanding free ocean-front apartments and German beer on tap at every bar, because if putting up with Estrella isn’t oppression, I don’t know what is.

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