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Monday, July 22, 2013

AFTER VIETNAM

robert rauschenberg
 

Vietnam has been an enigma in my lifetime. The communist hysteria, the domino theory, all of it propaganda attempting to make popular a war with the intent of keeping the American economy going, an economy created by the boom of WW2. The Cold War kept economy going pretty good with "defense" contracts, making jets that cost multiple millions unto billions. Vietnam came along to keep economy going. It started with a presidential lie on television to the American people, LBJ, one of the great liars of history. He showed me nothing at all where integrity as a man was concerned. His integrity was to the rich only. His only legacy for me is liar, like Reagan and W Bush. Can't leave out Nixon. I don't understand the present urgency of the right wing being in control. I do not know of a time in my lifetime the right wing was not in control. I found the English even further to the right than USA. I found them in 1972 going through the political agony of adopting a health care system that would benefit working people, everybody, even the poor. No way. That's socialism. How will people have incentive to go to medical school to work in socialism? It was the same as here now, only English style instead of American style. They like their healthcare system now and wouldn't have it back the old way.


robert rauschenberg
 


The propaganda in the time of Vietnam had been anti-communist for at least a decade to the point that even today, half a century later, communism is a loaded word. It could make a fun short documentary film to interview different kinds of people asking them questions about communism and hearing all the different explanations of why communism is evil. Evil is where many of the answers would start. We have not had communism yet. It comes after capitalism. Soviet Union's communism I interpreted militarist socialism. And we do militarist capitalism, fascism. This is what I mean by the right wing control in America is not new. I recall fundamentalist preacher harping about communism, atheism, evil, lake of fire forever and ever, eternal agony for being born into one economic system instead of another. It never made a lick of sense to me. In my childhood I wondered in bed at night how it could be that a kid my age born someplace behind the iron curtain was doomed to hell just by where he was born. I thought of the people in the very remotest parts of the world that never saw a Bible or heard of Jesus. It failed to make sense to me that God, omniscient, the knower of our hearts, made such a crazy rule that anybody dies never having opportunity to get saved automatically goes to hell, mandatory sentencing.

robert rauschenberg

Vietnam brought out love-it-or-leave-it. A lot of people left it. It was also the time of Are you a boy or are you a girl? With yer long blond hair you look like a girl. American establishment is not kind to outsiders. It was the time of white college students discovering marijuana realizing they wanted to live their lives, not go kill gooks and get killed too. The San Francisco sound took pop music to a new level. We had a whole generation of the college age white kids divided over Vietnam. The majority was for it. We saw photographs of demonstrations on big campuses. It looked like a lot of people, but the percentage was low. Most of the people in college in that time did not want to endanger the possibility of a career because their picture might appear in the paper with a demonstration against the war. Too, if a corporation were in somebody's sights, that person is careful not to commit to any cause or controversial point of view. Stay away from the controversial. We knew that in the corporate world, the world we were expected to look to for good-paying jobs, disobedience was not held a virtue. Gotta be squeaky clean to be a corporate somebody. I realized young that I would never succeed in this world.

robert rauschenberg

I will not give up my humanity, no matter how self-defeating it may be, to make big money and have big things. I hear Peggy Lee, If that's all there is, my friend, let's keep on dancing. I won't give up my inalienable basic human rights for a job, position or status. I learned early on that the higher I go on the money ladder the farther away I go from my humanity. No, it doesn't have to be that way. It is not ultimately true that war is a force that gives us meaning, either. But in this world, war is a force that gives us meaning. In the time of Vietnam, to commit to being against the war was the same as being against America to everybody who was not a protester. The protesters knew they were acting out of patriotism. They were saying don't send us to a disastrous war that is about big money for some big corporations at our expense, to end up homeless begging on intersections of American cities to get through the days in our later years, Vietnam vet statistics. I had the personal good fortune to slip under the wire, did the limbo, got out of Navy just in time. The ship's next destination was Vietnam. What a joy in my heart it was to leave that Navy base the last time. Then I watched Vietnam happen on the news and watched a great big split happen in America, a major gap between the older people and the younger people. It seemed that the leftover belief systems since WW2 were laid to rest with Vietnam. It kind of summed up what went before, tied up the loose ends and got on with what was next, destabilizing Latin America

robert rauschenberg
 
 
 
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