29 november 1940

Sinds gisteren waait er een koude wind en de regen, die wekenlang bijna dagelijks viel, is afgenomen. Ik hoop maar dat de nattigheid voorbijgaat. De hele week al is er vleesgebrek en moeten we zonder zien uit te komen. Vis is buitensporig duur.

Alle Joodse ambtenaren, professoren, leraren et cetera zijn nu ontslagen. Studenten in Delft en Leiden staakten 48 uur. Voor straf werd de universiteit gesloten. Hier was de rector verstandiger en sloot zelf de universiteit omdat het toch per 1 december vakantie zou zijn. Hans heeft nu twee maanden vrij, zal hij verder mogen studeren? Ik ben zo bang dat ook onze meisjes van school moeten. Een moeilijke tijd ligt voor ons, vooral voor ons Joden. Het ligt als een steen op mijn maag, zo bedrukt voel ik me, als een Cassandra zie ik vreselijke dingen die ons kunnen overkomen.

Van mijn familie horen we niets. Rijksduitsers hebben vast en zeker hun woningen gekregen, want de krant schreef dat in de huizen van de 60.000 Joden uit Elzas-Lotharingen 120.000 Rijksduitsers komen. Dat zal ook in de Palts en Baden het geval zijn.
Stateloos, dakloos, verlaten.
Met onze kinderen heb ik zo te doen, welke toekomst staat hun te wachten? Ze zijn zo verwend en Hans is agressief van aard, Inge ook. Zullen ze zich kunnen aanpassen aan de omkering van alle waarden? Hans heeft het er steeds over dat heel wat oud-militairen naar Engeland vluchten. Je schijnt afgehaald te kunnen worden, maar ik wil toch niet hebben dat de jongen domme dingen doet. In uiterste nood kan hij altijd nog weg.
Jonge mensen denken anders. Ze zijn warmbloedig, idealistisch, buigen het hoofd minder makkelijk voor het noodlot dan wij.

Coen, die vroeger zo zuinig was, zegt nu steeds: ‘Geef maar uit, koop maar, wie weet wat er met ons Joden gebeurt, eet zolang je eten kunt krijgen.’ Maar als eenvoudige, degelijke mensen doe je dat toch niet. Ik betaal geen woekerprijzen, koop wel goede, gezonde etenswaren zoals groente, fruit, kaas, worst.

Vandaag of morgen is er collecte voor Winterhulp.Coen heeft gedoneerd, hoewel naar verluidt een deel van het geld voor Duitsland is, maar er wordt zoveel gezegd.

Goed boek deze week gelezen, van Lode Zielens: Op een namiddag in september. Een heel mooi boek met een diepzinnige romantische taal, het beste dat ik tot nog toe van Zielens heb gelezen. Het is vast kort voor de oorlog geschreven. Het is verbitterd over deze wereld. De jonge minnaar van de dochter, een
soldaat, schiet zichzelf dood omdat hij de ellende niet langer kan verdragen. Ze willen er samen een eind aan maken maar hij heeft onvoldoende moed om haar te doden. Hoe zou het met
Lode Zielens zijn? Zal z’n nieuwste boek nog verbitterder zijn, of heeft hij door de oorlog, die maakte dat hij uit Antwerpen moest vluchten, geleerd een nieuwe wereld te zien? Is hij zoals zoveel Vlaamse schrijvers nationaalsocialist geworden? Ik denk van niet, maar ook schrijvers zijn mensen. Vandaag praten ze zus, morgen zo.

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Noam Chomsky: Democratic Party Centrism Risks Handing Election To Trump

As the 2020 election race heats up, U.S. politics, the nation’s political culture as a whole, and even the future of organized human life are at a crossroads. Another four years of Donald Trump would deliver nightmarish blows to democracy and social rights, handing an unthinkable mandate to a president who has become notorious for undermining virtually everything of decent value to humanity.

Yet, the question remains as to whether this dangerous man will actually be defeated in 2020. At the Democratic debate on Wednesday night, we witnessed a cacophony that did little to convey the ideological elements and political values that define the Democratic Party in the age of authoritarian neoliberalism and plutocracy. Intellectual shallowness and opportunism were prevalent throughout the debate. Pete Buttigieg’s meager attempts to parry questions on his lack of support among Black voters attracted the most buzz. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren’s reasonable and anything but radical “wealth tax” proposal received little attention because it remains an anathema to the political establishment of the Democratic Party, as do Bernie Sanders’s universal health care and climate change policies.

Indeed, as evidenced by the lack of a coherent vision on the part of most candidates in Wednesday’s Democratic debate in addressing the real threats and challenges facing the country and the whole planet, the Democratic Party is still unable to get its act together, and, in its apparent determination to kill the left wing, it may very well end up ensuring a Trump electoral victory for a second time.

To discuss what is really at stake in the 2020 presidential election,Truthout’s C.J. Polychroniou interviewed Noam Chomsky, the world’s leading public intellectual and a founder of modern linguistics. Chomsky is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona. He has published more than 120 books, which have appeared in most of the world’s languages, and is the co-author of the forthcoming book with Robert Pollin and C.J. Polychroniou titled, The Political Economy of Climate Change and the Green New Deal (Verso, 2020).

C.J. Polychroniou: The 2020 U.S. presidential election is less than a year from now, and, while most polls seem to indicate that Trump will lose the national vote, the electoral vote is up for grabs. What manner of a democracy is this, and why isn’t there a public outcry in this country about the antiquated institution of the electoral college?

Noam Chomsky: Preliminary comment: I find it psychologically impossible to discuss the 2020 election without emphasizing, as strongly as possible, what is at stake: survival, nothing less.
Four more years of Trump may spell the end of much of life on Earth, including organized human society in any recognizable form. Strong words, but not strong enough.
I would like to repeat the words of Raymond Pierrehumbert, a lead author of the startling [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report of October 2018, since replaced by still more dire warnings: “With regard to the climate crisis, yes, it’s time to panic. We are in deep trouble.” These should be the defining terms of the 2020 election.

Environmental catastrophe is an imminent threat. Much of the world is taking steps to deal with it — inadequate, but at least something. Trump and the political organization he now virtually owns are taking steps too — to exacerbate the crisis. Some may recall [George] W. Bush’s infamous call, “bring it on,” directed to Iraqis preparing to “attack us” (in what happened to be their country, but put that aside). Bush later apologized, with regret, but Trump is proud to outdo him, calling on the rising seas and burning Earth to put an end to the human experiment.

In fairness, we should add that Trump is also pursuing ways to avert the environmental threat — destroy us first by nuclear war. That is the simple logic of his demolition of the Reagan-Gorbachev [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty followed at once by testing of missiles that violate it; the threat to dismantle the (Eisenhower-initiated) Open Skies Treaty, and finally, New START. These final blows to the arms control regime constitute, very simply, a call to other nations to join us in creating new and even more horrendous weapons to destroy us all, to the unrestrained applause of weapons manufacturers.

Those are the highly likely consequences of more of Trump and the party that grovels at his feet, terrified of his adoring base. They provide the essential background for the 2020 elections.

Turning finally to your question, the electoral college is not the most serious anachronism — even worse is the radically undemocratic Senate. These problems are severe, and remediable only by constitutional amendment that is sure to be blocked by the small states. All of this is part of more fundamental problems. A variety of demographic, structural and policy factors are converging to a situation where a small minority — white, rural, Christian, traditional, older, fearful of losing “their America” — will be able to dominate the political system.

These considerations raise further questions about worship of a document from centuries ago that was in some ways progressive by the standards of its day, but would very likely lead to rejection of an appeal for membership in the European Union by a country bound by it.
Read more

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Hunter S. Thompson: His Last Shotgun Art. No More Fear And Loathing In Woody Creek.

Uncleduke

Uncle Duke
From: Gary Trudeau – Doonesbury

Hunter S. Thompson, the counter culture ‘gonzo’ journalist, died on February 20, 2005 by a weapon of his choice. The inventor of Shotgun Art and Shotgun Golf fatally shot himself at his Owl Creek farm in Woody Creek, Colorado. He was 67.
‘Prince of Gonzo’ he called himself, ‘Doctor Gonzo’, ‘Doctor of Journalism’, ‘Outlaw Journalist’, ‘Doc’, ‘The Duke’: Hunter Stockton Thompson (Louisville, Kentucky, 1939).

Rock star of the written word.
And as with rock stars meeting one is never an easy task. But we managed, once, after endless waiting and drinking our way into the local bar, The Woody Creek tavern. The sun was already sinking behind the Rocky Mountains, bathing the area around the Tavern in a chill and cheerless light, when finally the great Doctor made his appearance. Five in the morning would have been a more approriate time.

Word had it that Thompson was burned out. That, battle weary, he’d given up on the Gonzo cause. Gonzo comes from the French-Canadian word gonzeaux which means something along the lines of shining path. Hunter Thompson was that path; the only fully fledged grand master of Gonzo. His Gonzo style was often confused with New Journalism, made famous by Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese. But that is quite incorrect. Wolfe and the like attack the truth with the techniques of the novelist. They lose themselves in the minds of their subjects. Thompson lost himself in his own mind, and traced only his own madcap, hallucinatory journey through the many events in his stories. “It’s essentially a ‘what if’,” as P. J. O’Rourke, another Rolling Stone celebrity, quoted Thompson. Read more

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Decolonising ‘Decolonisation’ With Mphahlele

Es’kia Mphahlele – Ills.: unisa.ac.sa

Es’kia Mphahlele was a writer, activist, organiser and teacher committed to the view that ‘Afrikan humanness’ is the real key to our freedom.
This week marks the 10th anniversary of Es’kia Mphahlele’s death.

Mphahlele (1919-2008) was a writer of fiction, a journalist, a cultural activist, an organiser and, above all, a teacher. The main aim of his fiction and non-fiction work was dealing with what he characterised as the “first exile” – from home culture and ways of understanding the world – from which victims of colonisation suffered. Mphahlele argued that colonised people should begin by overcoming “first exile” if they are to develop decolonising theories and practices. In an era in which the decolonisation of politics and knowledge has captured the imagination of many people, we would do well to recall Mphahlele’s work.

The focus on “first exile” is important because the ultimate aim of colonisation is to separate colonised people from their sources of economic autonomy, ways of understanding the world, and, ultimately, from themselves. The primary “spiritual striving” of victims of colonisation, not just colonialism, is a striving against what the great African-American intellectual WEB du Bois called double consciousness. Similar ideas were developed closer to home. Writing in the 1940s, HIE Dhlomo explained that successfully colonised individuals are ‘neither-nor’ characters who “are neither wholly African nor fully Europeanised”. Dhlomo showed that the double consciousness of these characters was evident in their use of “European measuring rods for success, culture, goodness, greatness”.

In a settler colonial context, the work of colonisation would be achieved when leaders of the colonised people calibrate their demands to Western-style multiparty democracy, civil rights and, therefore, the integration of the elite layer of the colonised people into the historically white world. In such a context, the world and privileges of the settler minority are legitimised and guaranteed, while ‘uncivilised’ people, the majority of the population, continue to exist on the underside of the new society.

When the ‘decolonial’ is fundamentally shaped by the colonial
But not all projects of self-determination take the lived experiences and ideas of this majority seriously. Some are attached to colonialist ideas or obsessed with whiteness, leading to ‘radical’ projects that recenter what they aim to challenge.

In the first case, seemingly decolonial projects repeat colonialist ideas about the inherent differences between black and white; the uniqueness of ‘black culture’ and its supposedly essential traits; and the need to retrieve ‘native’ discourses; forgetting that ‘the native’ comes into being only when the settler arrives and that ‘native’ discourse is constituted by what Congolese philosopher VY Mudimbe calls the “colonial library” – colonial experts of various kinds.

In the second case, the black radical’s ‘colonial mentality’ manifests in projects whose main aim is to shame historical colonisers by constantly repeating anti-black discourses that the black man is not human and cannot coexist with humanity. This trend can be seen in certain strands of Afro-pessimism.

The important point here is that decolonisation often needs to be decolonised itself. In South Africa, no other thinker grappled with this dilemma more than Mphahlele. Read more

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The Life And Times Of Es’kia Mphahlele

A wonderful documentary about one of South Africa’s greatest authors, Es’kia Mphahlele, who was one of the first writers to leave for exile in the 1950s and write about apartheid as it was unfolding in South Africa. His novel “Down Second Avenue” became an international sensation and was based on his personal struggles of being raised in poverty, getting an education and leaving the country. Es’kia eventually returned to South Africa in August 1977, during a tumultuous period one year after the June 16, 1976 Soweto riots and less than a month before the death of Steve Bantu Biko. Despite opposition from the South African government, he was offered a position at the University of Witwatersrand and he became an influential cultural leader, revered for his ideas on education and African Humanism.

Part 2 of a wonderful documentary about one of South Africa’s greatest authors, Es’kia Mphahlele, who was one of the first writers to leave for exile in the 1950s and write about apartheid as it was unfolding in South Africa. His novel “Down Second Avenue” became an international sensation and was based on his personal struggles of being raised in poverty, getting an education and leaving the country. Es’kia eventually returned to South Africa in August 1977, during a tumultuous period one year after the June 16, 1976 Soweto riots and less than a month before the death of Steve Bantu Biko. Despite opposition from the South African government, he was offered a position at the University of Witwatersrand and he became an influential cultural leader, revered for his ideas on education and African Humanism.

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Overtollig

‘Begrijp jij het?’, vraagt H. verbaasd, ‘dat je zo behandeld wordt.’
J. zit verslagen in de stoel bij het raam. Ze slaapt deze dagen slecht, eten lukt niet.
Drieëntwintig jaar heeft H. in een ziekenhuis gewerkt. Op de OK. Drie maanden geleden werd hem verteld dat hij overtollig was. Met onmiddellijke ingang mocht hij vanaf die dag toekijken tijdens operaties. Hij mag niets meer doen, behalve instructies geven aan de verpleegkundigen die zijn werk over moeten nemen. Vaak houdt hij zijn hart vast als hij ziet hoe onhandig ze met de apparatuur omgaan.
Maar wie weet leren ze het. Dat het viezer wordt in de hoekjes van de kamers, ligt niet aan de schoonmakers.

Natuurlijk gingen ze op zoek naar passend werk. Vorige week werd hem een plek aangeboden. Het was jammer dat ze vergeten waren dat hij een handicap heeft, die nou net onhandig is bij die baan. Was personeelszaken even ontschoten.
‘Volgende keer beter.’
En nu zit J. thuis. Vierendertig jaar werkte zij in een ander ziekenhuis. Ze had al een paar keer een grap gemaakt over die mannen die op de afdelingen met een klokje rondliepen en elke handeling minutieus vastlegden.
Twee weken geleden was zij aan de beurt.
Het leek haar een routineklus na al die jaren, dat evaluatiegesprek. Even doornemen hoe alles gaat. Tien minuten later stond ze buiten en mocht ze naar huis. Overtollig.

Het is maar goed dat ze zo verbouwereerd was dat ze de papieren weigerde te ondertekenen.
Ze moest met onmiddellijke ingang de drie vrije maanden opnemen die voor de oude dag gereserveerd waren.
Ze zat een week thuis toen een collega belde.
‘He, ik wist niet dat jij met gehandicapten wilde werken.’
‘Hoe bedoel je?’, had ze verbaasd gevraagd.
‘Dat staat in het personeelsblaadje’, had de collega gemeld.
Een traan biggelt over haar wang als ze het vertelt.
‘Het is nog een troost dat we samen in deze ellende zitten’, zoekt H. naar het halfvolle glas.

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