Thursday, January 13, 2011
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Réponse du cinéaste Jean-Pierre Bekolo au President Wade
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Le Manifeste du Parti Culturel - La Coalition des Talents
LA COALITION DES TALENTS
Ce document définit l’idée essentielle qui constitue la base sur laquelle nous nous regroupons pour fonder une organisation dont le but est de mettre en place La République Culturelle.
C’est un “manifeste”, qui résume l’esprit et les émotions qui nous animent. Il s’agit de l’esprit qui nous permet de dégager une vision et une stratégie pour une société différente, dans laquelle la Culture est au centre du Développement.
En 2010, la plupart des artistes camerounais sont obligés de s’expatrier pour vivre dignement de leur métier, ce n’est pas acceptable !
Le moment est donc venu d’agir. Le Cameroun a besoin de stratégies adéquates pour créer les dispositifs et programmes dont la culture a besoin pour contribuer, non seulement à la croissance économique, mais aussi au bien-être des populations, au partage de leurs expressions artistiques et donc à la diversité.
Nous cinéastes par exemple revendiquons le droit d’exercer notre métier dans un pays où :
· Il n’y a plus de salles de cinéma pour diffuser les films.
· La télévision nationale n’achète ni ne produit des films camerounais.
· La commission gérant la subvention du compte d’affectation spécial de la culture ne siège plus.
Pourtant, le secteur de la culture contient des gisements inexplorés de valeur.
La politique culturelle, étant l'une des principales composantes d'une politique de développement endogène et durable, elle devrait être mise en œuvre en coordination avec d'autres domaines sociaux dans une approche intégrée. Les professionnels attendent de participer, à l’avènement d’une société marquée par la création et la diversité.
Y a-t-il besoin encore d’expliquer que la production d’un bien ou d’un service culturel fait utiliser des biens intermédiaires ? Il en est ainsi des fournitures et des équipements issus de la production d’autres secteurs de l’économie.
La croissance du secteur culturel entraîne celle d’autres secteurs par la demande en biens intermédiaires qu’elle induit. Par exemple, l’industrie du livre utilise du papier, la production d’un film nécessite de nombreux services liés à la communication, au transport, aux services financiers. Le multiplicateur mesure l’augmentation du PIB liée à celle d’une unité de production dans un secteur donné.
Nous constatons qu’il y a un tel abandon de la culture dans ce pays qu’il faudrait que les artistes, intellectuels et créateurs prennent eux-mêmes les choses en main.
Il n’est pas normal qu’un pan entier de la population que sont les artistes ne puisse pas exercer leurs métiers chez eux, parce que l’administration est soit incapable d’organiser le pays soit n’a pas la volonté de le faire. Au Cameroun les 4/5 des musiciens qui travaillent sont obligés de quitter le Cameroun pour vivre. Est-ce normal ? Si l’administration locale est incapable d’imaginer un modèle économique viable pour ses artistes et autres talents elle ne mérite pas de continuer à avoir cette responsabilité.
De même est-il normal qu’en 2010, malgré tous les talents camerounais, le Cameroun n’ait aucun projet national d’envergure de production et d’exportation de la culture ?
Non, il n’est pas normal que l’Etat ne dispose pas d’un système organisé et lisible qui récompense, valorise, reconnaisse et promeut le talent, l’intelligence, l’inventivité, la créativité et le mérite.
La Coalition des Talents – Talents Coalition voudrait fédérer tous ceux qui ne peuvent pas exercer leur métier dans leur pays, afin qu’ils travaillent pour que les prochaines générations d’artistes et autres créateurs n’aient pas à être des réfugiés économiques.
La Coalition des Talents a pour objectif de construire une nouvelle société inspirée par les talents des individus, la création, l’intelligence, la culture et l’inventivité sous toutes ses formes en Afrique et dans le monde. Elle voudrait contribuer en étant une force de proposition et d’action dans un esprit de progrès, de justice sociale d’humanisme et d’hospitalité qui utilise le talent, l’invention, l’intelligence, la culture et la créativité pour résoudre les problèmes qui se posent à l’Homme. Elle rejette toute forme d’exploitation, d’oppression et d’aliénation, qu’elles soient économiques, sociales, écologiques, idéologiques ou culturelles.
Pour cela, elle réunit les personnes qui recherchent une plateforme de réflexion et d’action permettant d'atteindre ces objectifs.
Si nous ne pouvons faire notre métier dans notre pays, alors nous ferons le métier de ceux qui devraient organiser le pays afin que les artistes puissent vivre en exerçant leur métier ; c'est-à-dire de la politique. Oui, la politique pour s’assurer de mettre au pouvoir un gouvernement qui satisfasse notre besoin de travailler.
Puisque nous n’avons plus rien à faire, faisons la politique! Ayons des candidats dans toutes les élections y compris présidentielles pour défendre nos droits. Pourquoi certains auraient-ils plus le droit d’exercer leur métier que nous artistes ?
Au Plan Economique
L’histoire et l’identité culturelle d’un territoire sont des moyens de reconversion de l’économie locale. Ils font émerger des activités entièrement nouvelles pour les populations.
La culture, vecteur de développement, intégrée aux politiques territoriales constitue donc un outil d’innovation et de reconversion des activités économiques. Elle permet d’associer la culture à diverses politiques sectorielles. Elle est aussi porteuse de l’identité d’un territoire,
Depuis 2000, le commerce international des produits culturels augmente à un taux annuel moyen de 7%. Les innovations technologiques et la diminution des barrières commerciales contribuent à ce dynamisme. Il est désormais possible de reproduire et de transporter rapidement la production de biens culturels à moindre coût et en grandes quantités. A titre d’exemple, les exportations de biens et services culturels se sont élevées en 2005 à 424,4 milliards USD avec une croissance annuelle moyenne de 6,4% depuis 1996.
L’Etat, la télévision nationale, la justice, les députés, le secteur privé, en l’état actuel ne jouaient pas leur rôles. Ni pour voter une loi de politique culturelle, ni pour sévir contre la piraterie, ni pour investir dans le secteur, ni pour commander ou acheter les films, ni pour subventionner la production …
On ne peut pas non plus abandonner aux seuls sponsors le financement de la culture !
Ceux qui disent que la Culture n’est pas une priorité, qu’ils laissent donc le peuple décider par leur vote qu’il ne veut pas de cinéma ni de musique, c’est l’approche démocratique.
Notre pays le Cameroun, comme de nombreux pays Africains n’a pas initialement été pensé par nous. Si l’indépendance nous a libéré du principe de l’exploitation par des pays colonisateurs notamment La France et la Grande Bretagne avec la bénédiction des Nations Unies parce que ex-colonie allemande, nous n’avons jamais pensé quel pays nous voulions pour nous mêmes. Les projets exogènes à notre idée de développent et de progrès ont immédiatement succédés au colonialisme; par exemple le conflit Est-Ouest puis ce fut le vent de l’Est, puis la mondialisation tous imposés de l’extérieur. Pourtant à l’intérieur de notre pays et d’autres pays africains, des hommes et des femmes exprimaient ce qu’ils voulaient pour eux-mêmes sans que personne ne les entendent, le pouvoir hérité du colon ne permettait pas qu’ils soient entendus, l’organisation de l’Etat ne leur permettaient pas de pouvoir exister et vivre dignement dans leur pays libre. Ils avaient été disqualifiés à jamais dans le projet de construction de l’édifice national. Ils étaient les parias d’une société où seuls pouvaient vivre de leurs métiers les fonctionnaires formés à l’école néocoloniale pour « commander » leurs compatriotes. Ceux là c’étaient des artistes et autres talents.
Pourquoi Nous avons le devoir d’agir ?
Etre un artiste ou un inventeur dans de nombreux pays africains comme le Cameroun est synonyme d’être un déséquilibré. Pourtant nul ne peut contester par exemple que c’est un artiste qui le premier a dénoncé la corruption dans l’Etat postcolonial, cet artiste FELA a été mis en prison pour sa vision qui aujourd’hui est reprise par toutes les organisations internationales et ce même Etat qui l’a mis en prison.
Les artistes et d’autres talents ont individuellement réussi là où de nombreux Etats ont échoués, ils arrivent tout seuls, sans l’appui de leur Etat à faire connaître positivement nos pays à l’étranger.
Après 50 ans, Il est temps qu’on confie le pays aux artistes afin qu’ils aient aussi l’opportunité de proposer leur projet à leur pays et à l’Afrique !
Nous pouvons affirmer que nous avons confiés nos pays aux fonctionnaires nous avons vu ce que cela a donné : la corruption, nous avons confiés nos pays aux capitalistes nous avons vu ce que cela a donné, la misère et le pillage, nous avons confié nos pays aux militaires, nous avons vu ce que ça donné : les guerres et les assassinats, nous avons donné les pays aux intellectuels nous avons vu ce que cela a donné, les discours sans action.
Que Propose la Coalition des Talents ?
La Coalition des Talents voudrait mettre la culture à sa place légitime, c'est-à-dire au centre du développement de notre pays, défendre le patrimoine, la créativité et les ressources camerounaises contre le pillage et l’exploitation sans bénéfice pour les camerounais.
La Coalition des Talents veut œuvrer à doter le Cameroun d’une capacité durable de produire ses propres œuvres, des œuvres qui contribuent à la dynamique sociale, culturelle, politique et économiques renforçant l'identité culturelle et proposant à l'échelle nationale et internationale, la parole des peuples et la création des artistes
La Coalition des Talents voudrait défendre une politique qui permet d’assurer un marché effectif aux œuvres camerounaises et leurs contenus, c'est-à-dire leur diffusion au plan national, régional et international, parce que la création et la commercialisation d’images sont des domaines privilégiés de la croissance économique.
La Coalition des Talents s’inscrit dans le cadre des différents projets internationaux de coopération culturelle dont de la Convention de l’UNESCO sur la protection et la promotion de la Diversité des expressions culturelles de 2005, les accords signé avec l’Union Européenne (Lomé 1984-1989, Cotonou 2000), le Plan d'action de Dakar sur la promotion des cultures ACP et des industries culturelles de 2003, le Consensus européen sur le développement 2005, sur l’Agenda européen de la culture à l’ère de la mondialisation de 2007, l’Accord de partenariat économique (APE), de la Déclaration de Bruxelles 2009 .
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Global Hospitality became clearly the frame within which I would produce the wording, the discourse and also the frame I would use “to dramatize the issue” to quote John Lewis. The is no doubt that in the actual global context there is a serious regression in the quality of human relationships, at an individual level as well as at an organizations level. That gap is a threat to peace and to humanity. That’s the reason why it’s time to address the question of hospitality at a global level.
I am conscious that hospitality in a leadership context could be assimilated with Affirmative Action but this is relies more on goodwill even if we consider it a moral duty in relation to the “other”.
Is it still possible to imagine a world where we can only live with our piers, our clan our family, people who look like us, live like us in other words, ourselves? Is sustainable to only use “others” when we need them and go back to our secluded world? Enjoying the benefits of the efforts, the traditions, the experiences, the work of the “others” by despising them? What kind of world is it a world where being a foreigner is becoming the most humiliating experience when we know we are all foreigners somewhere? How acceptable the notions of tourism are becoming if we are developing that kind of hostility against the “other”? How acceptable is business when people are seeing the products of their land being sold at the lowest price, suffering from hunger and poverty for the benefits of others. How acceptable is the labor produced a worker at such a low price that he can’t even survive with his family?
When a corporation goes to a country to do business, it’s a duty for that corporation to share life with the people who have welcomed them in their country. They should be sharing the neighborhood, the food, the culture, the problems, the joy, the revenues and the efforts. That’s what Global Hospitality is about.
If we don’t accept all that we have to join the idea that we have a duty towards the “other” that is not me. That duty is about “hospitality”. That other doesn’t have to be my neighbor, that other is any human being I connect with directly or indirectly. Just by sharing the air we breath, there is a duty of in hospitality to make sure that that air is breathable by the “other” that is not “me”.
This philosophy of Global Hospitality will make it possible to call upon all of us who are willing to give a helping hand to the “other” that is not us. And also to challenge those who need that helping end to live up to that gesture that redefines what we are and the type of interactions we want among all of us.
I had to reframe my initial project as we now live in a Global world because there is a risk that a discourse focusing on Africa only could be incomplete and leaving out all human beings whose life is devastated daily by the “narcissism of identity”. The divide is getting bigger
Global Hospitality is about giving a helping hand to the “other” - this could actually be a powerful visual symbol – the Tutsi giving a helping hand to the Hutu in Rwanda, Whites giving a helping hand to Blacks in America, White French giving a helping hand to Africans and Arab French in France etc. This a philosophy that can in my belief help to address issues of conflicts in general either they are interpersonal or intrapersonal, health, family, political, economical, social, cultural, religious related.
On another angle I need to clarify the very notion of Hospitality on a philosophical and religious stand point with the help of Marko Zlomislic’s article on Conflict, Tolerance and Hospitality.
In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophic Sketch, Immanuel Kant states that, 'the law of world citizenship shall be limited to conditions a universal hospitality'. Kant recognizes that hospitality is something grave, that it to say urgent and not just an inscription on the innkeepers door upon which a burial ground was painted. Hospitality for Kant means, ... the right of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he arrives in the land of another. One may refuse to receive him when this can be done without causing his destruction; but, so long as he peacefully occupies his place, one may not treat him with hostility.
Kant goes on to write that hospitality is: ... not the right to be a permanent visitor... a special beneficent agreement would be needed in order to give an outsider a right to become a fellow inhabitant for a certain length of time. It is only a right of temporary sojourn, a right to associate, which all men have. They have it by virtue of their common possession of the surface of the earth, where, as a globe, they cannot infinitely disperse and hence must tolerate the presence of each other.
Kant's notion that the human race can gradually be brought closer to a constitution establishing world citizenship is admirable, yet Kant ends his essay with the words, 'one cannot flatter oneself into believing one can approach this peace except under the conditions outlined here'. We can see that this statement is a call to further conflict because it does not treat hospitality in a radical manner.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition there is a commandment to be hospitable to strangers since one has been a stranger before. Deuteronomy 5 tells the Israelites to remember that they were slaves in the land of Egypt and therefore should accept those that come to them as guests in an unconditional way.
The second notion of hospitality comes from the prophets who urged a general openness to be shown to widow, orphan and alien. In Jewish families a place is kept free for Elijah who may or may not come. Hospitality keeps an empty space, an openness is open to the radically Other. In the New Testament letter to the Hebrews 13:2 there is a commandment on hospitality. 'Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it'.
While these notions of hospitality are admirable and are admired by Derrida they still do not go far enough in the direction of the aporia. For Derrida hospitality has to do with responsibility towards the Other in their individuality and singularity. Derrida argues that we have to reconcile the demand for equality with the demand for singularity. This is an aporia. The question is how can we at the same time, take into account the equality of everyone and respect the heterogeneous singularity of everyone?
This is the main question of conflict resolution. We cannot content ourselves with applying existing norms or rules but must make an absolute risk in every singular instant as if it were being made for the first time. These aporias or paradoxes are difficult to integrate into practice but responsibility, decision and hospitality cannot exist without them. The ancient and modern traditions have proceeded from the position of assured knowledge that has often been euphoric, free of contradiction and without aporia. Such assured knowledge is calculated and calculating. It is like a machine without responsibility and without ethics. For Derrida there is no decision, no responsibility and no hospitality without the test of the aporia or undecidability.
This 'impossible' of which Derrida speaks is inseparable from the thinking of justice and from the unconditional hospitality that is required of us. Hospitality focuses on what is most urgent today and the most proper for the articulation of a political ethics of conflict resolution. The unconditional injunction for conflict resolution is: 'I have to welcome the Other' - whoever 'the Other' is, and unconditionally. For Derrida this means, without asking for a document, a name, a context or a passport. I have to open myself to the Other. I have to open my doors, my house, my home, my language, my culture, my nation, my state and myself.
Derrida unconditional hospitality is frightening and transgressive, but it takes us beyond the Judeo-Christian understanding of hospitality where we are hospitable because we may be entertaining Elijah or Angels or serving Jesus or dogmatically serving our parishioners. It takes us beyond Kant with his notion of restricted hospitality that says we should welcome the stranger or the foreigner to the extent that they are citizens of another country.
Kant's concept of hospitality remains merely political in its reference to the state, the authority of the state, to citizenship and to the control of residency. If we decide that everyone will be able to enter my space, my home, my city, my country, my language then there is a chance that the worst may happen. Yes. But we must be open to the best and to the worst in other words to the human animal, or our hospitality will no longer be an unconditional injunction based on justice but a legal formulation. The aporia of hospitality says that we have to welcome the Other, the orphan, the widow, the alien. Without this there would be no hospitality. We must welcome without assimilation. To offer hospitality is to be aware that the other may ruin my space. Hospitality is therefore a risk which has to be negotiated at every instant.
The decisions for hospitality or the best rules to follow have to be invented at every second with all the risks that this involves. Hospitality is the name for our relation to the Other. It is the very principle of ethics. It is and always has been grave and urgent. Seen in this manner conflict can be resolved if the Other is in his own home in the home of the Other ( chez lui chez l'autre).
My leadership philosophy has to do with knowledge of history as a guide in the actions to be taken and hospitality goes beyond a historical invitation between me and the other. With invitation we expect a guest to arrive without surprise. Hospitality requires absolute surprise. We are unprepared or prepared to be unprepared, for the unexpected arrival of any Other. Hospitality is the receiving or welcoming which has no power, protocol or law. It is an opening without the horizon of expectation where peace can be found beyond the confines of conflict.
PUBLIC DIALOGUE IN HELENA
One of the things I would like to know it’s if there are some people in Helena who feel today the same way people felt a long time ago. I have found some lyrics by Muddy Waters a bluesman.
If I feel tomorrow, the way I feel today,
I’m gonna pack my bags and make my getaway.”
When he was asked after he left he would ever go back to the Delta, he said “ Go back? What I want to go back for?”
Another bluesman talking about the Mississippi Delta felt:
Goin’ no higher;
Goin’no lower down.
Gonna stay right here,
Gonna stay right here,
‘Til they close me down.
I can’t imagine the facilitation without the bluesman figure; his perspective should be part of everything that is happening in the Delta. The bluesman is a mythological figure that carries the real soul of that place.
I could just imagine a bluesman appearing during the facilitation and raising all these issues. I think he would have changed the whole framework, starting with time. I am wondering what our response would have been, if we were even prepared to deal with him without shutting him off. This is the reason why we needed content; we needed an insight in the Delta culture and history because the bluesman posture is a response to that history. By lacking that background as facilitators, we would have ended up going back to process which would have made us shift to a computer mode and maybe the bluesman might have been questioning that facilitation mode by challenging it. Because for the bluesman lack of content is already content.
That is maybe the reason why in those days, the bluesman had to break the frame by creating “new forms of self-conception.” Instead of being told “you are this”, he was saying “I am that”.
‘The blues was the most highly personalized, indeed, the first almost completely personalized music that Afro-Americans developed. Bluesmen performed solo singing in the first person of his own experiences, suffering, and dreams and receiving a collective acknowledgment from an audience that had shared many of these feelings and experiences. Whereas others described the blues in terms of matter-of-factness about suffering and social injustices, William Barlow found a spirit of rebellion in the blues, arguing that blues musicians presented a “ground-level view of southern society” and insisting that both their behavior and the content of their music represented a rejection of the values of the dominant white culture.”
That’s the encounter I wish would have happened, an encounter between a bluesman and a white southerner from the Delta. I think a facilitation process should happen at that mythological level to capture the spirit of the people and the place to be able to move any further.
For example many of the participants mentioned the racial divide but I think the process got on the way and I wonder how the process wasn’t by itself part of the dialogue. Knowing that the medium is the message, our position as facilitators from the Clinton School of Public Service would have been conveying a message to the people of Helena we didn’t intend to communicate. I am wondering how this perception could have conditioned the behavior of people of Helena and with the name of president Clinton attached, how manipulative and long lasting it would have been.
Maybe I was just missing the voice of the bluesman. Just Imagine the respond of the bluesman to our facilitation question:
If the unified city of Helena West Helena created the ideal community for you, what would it be like for you?
Imagine the bluesman answer in regard of what Cobbs says. “Instead of an overt protest, however, the blues offered an alternative lifestyle in which rambling, hedonism, aggressive sexuality, and a general disregard for authority was the norm. Barlow sensed within the blues “an ethos of revolt” that he attributed to “the emerging consciousness of a young generation seeking personal freedom, social mobility, and better compensation for their labor.” He insisted that the blues were “not the result of a few isolated incidents of individual genius, but rather a broadly based cultural movement occupying the time and energy of large numbers of black agricultural workers in the South’s cotton belt.”
I am just wondering if in Helena we had some bluesman figures we didn’t hear. Maybe it was the process who didn’t allow it. Maybe we missed a real dialogue.
If I have to recall what happened during that facilitation process, I don’t think we had a “dialogue”. I didn’t have a sense that a dialogue did happen. People didn’t much respond to each others. And the dialogue I thought should have taken place because it is a problem at the very heart of what the Delta is all the about; a dialogue between whites and blacks. I don’t if in a dialogue we can make hierarchies by saying this question have to come after this one. But based on what I know of the history of the Mississippi Delta it seems that the first dialogue should be that one. Without it, there are some risks to turn the dialogue into a monologue. Not because of the people but because of the process. It is like a game where the referee is so present that there is no game at all. I am wondering if the facilitator shouldn’t be almost invisible like a good referee that favors a game with all the human dimension, engaged, passionate, sensitive...
Maybe it’s just because I am missing the bluesman’s voice.
I can hear the bluesman singing a song about misery and poverty, a music that will sell for billions of dollars worldwide; the blues. That’s the bluesman answer to the issue. I don’t have to imagine the bluesman responding to the question of laziness. His answer: “A black man if he didn’t work out in the fields, he was called lazy, no good. But who was he working for? You figure out who the lazy one was!”
Another problem I have found is that in all the efforts of lifting Helena out of poverty, there is there are many assumptions that are a concern, like this one. If you give a white person’s life to a black person he would have become successful. But the bluesman had already designed a totally different life pattern to himself defying the reasoning of “black follow white”. This raises a question of defining an identity for oneself beyond of being defined as poor, uneducated, unhealthy etc.
Even assumptions should be defined by the facilitation itself. This is the reason I would need to have a symbolic pair of the bluesman and the southerner white to have a dialogue in the Delta.
The Delta region didn’t only create black bluesmen, it also generate great white writers and these writers like the bluesman had a posture too; they produced a white response to the context. “By the end of the 1940s, the region could claim not only William Alexander Percy and David L. Cohn but Hodding Carter, Start Young… Shelby Foote… Elisabeth Spencer. The Delta had seemed a most unlikely literary oasis at the end of the 1940s. A late-emerging society and subculture, the Delta rapidly relieved much of the South’s past in full view of a curious and often critical audience of non-southerners and southerners as well. In a sense, the Delta’s experience was comparable to the meteoric rise of Wilbur J. Cash’s “stout young Irishman” or Faulkner’s devil-planter parvenu Thomas Sutpen, whose immorality and greed was too blatant for the tastes of a society where the passage of a little time had subordinated the memories of the brutal conquest of the frontier to a more appealing notion of civility and noblesse oblige. A number of writers have noted the “terrific compression” of human experience that occurred in the Delta…Shelby Foote remarked that one could see “a hundred years of history in twenty years in the Delta.” Ellen Douglas saw the Delta as both a physical and philosophical frontier, one had moved “from the state of innocence to the state of corruption in a very short time.”
As you can see here, the bluesman now has a counter part. And a dialogue is now possible. In fact blues did meet literature like in Faulkner’s short story “That Evening Sun” where “fusion of music and poetry accomplished at very high emotional temperature.” A homicidal black male “Jesus”, a stereotypical blues-style rounder – appeared to revenge his wife’s suspected infidelity, which he described in typical blues double entendre: “I can’t hang around white man’s kitchen… But white man can hang around mine.” White southern literature do give us the paradigm white were operating on. “For a numbers of years, upper-class whites in the Delta had considered themselves benefactors and defenders rather than exploiters of the huge black population on whose labor they depended.. In “Hold On” Ellen Douglas used the story of a Delta white woman’s struggle to save her black maid from drowning to raise questions about white guilt and black suffering…Critics have scored Percy another famous Delta writer for his racism, citing his condescending view of blacks as childlike, frivolous characters who were perpetually in need of guidance and oversight of whites. Percy’s view of blacks as “younger brothers” and of whites, at least whites of his class, as benevolent paternalists, as well as his admiration of the “manners” or behavioral style that kept a potentially explosive biracial society operating relatively smoothly, seem all too typical of the short-sightedness of the Delta’s white aristocracy.”
I feel that with the two cultural elements of the black blues and the white literature in the Delta, I have a grasp on the people that will be facilitating. This could be a stating point to design a facilitation process that goes with the history of the people and the place. Because the place itself has its influence, “the Delta tantalized its writers and artists with an almost irresistible physical and human panorama. The Delta was the land of excess. The hot sun, the torrential rains, the savage caprices of the unpredictable river. The fecund earth, the startling rapid growth of vegetation, the illimitable flat plains, and the vast dome of heaven arching over them: all these environmental influences seemed to breed in the people a tendency towards excessive. Artist Byron Burford commented on the richness and diversity of life in the Delta that was influenced profoundly and perpetually by a river that, in addition to providing its own innately fascinating presence, brought showboats, circuses, and a host of émigrés from around the world. In the Delta, Syrian and Jews, Chinese and Italian, and Black and white mingled and/or remained apart in ways that gave the region both a stratified and a fluid society, one simultaneously provincial and cosmopolitan.”
In conclusion, I would like as a human agent involved in the facilitation of Helena West Helena to use cultural elements to design the process itself. A process that will be made of stories; stories coming from the blues, Delta literature, history, storytelling etc. A want to play a role as human using what makes all of us including the two parties and the facilitators the same thing: human beings.
THE PATRIMONY RIGHT ACT
With the market economy in place, the descendents of the people whose life produced that content don’t see any benefit from the realizations of their ancestors; in fact, they only inherit the burdens and the injustices- not the fruits of their experience.
The Mississippi Delta remains poor. It shouldn’t depend on the good will of businesses. It’s not a favor to give Black people of the Mississippi Delta a share in the flourishing industry generated by the’ blues’; it’s a right.
It is a new right beyond civil rights, a moral right as well as an economic right that makes it impossible to separate the community with its content--like a child from her mother. With the economic exploitation of that content, the ‘blues’ should benefit the community.
This content right or patrimony right should be universal about all human beings.
For example a musician who goes to South America and records Indian tribal music, and the music later get played by commercial broadcasters and sold by stores. That Indian community deserves to get some share in the financial exchanges being made. Another example the starving child in Africa who makes the cover of all the magazines and television news deserves a share in all the revenues generated in sales and advertising by that picture.
Even further, a community living on a land from which resources are being taken to be used and consumed deserves a share in the financial exchanges taking place.
This patrimony right is inalienable to an individual and a community. Nobody including a State can take it away from an individual or a community.
The marginalization of black people in a place like the Mississippi Delta that generated the ‘Blues’ music in the middle of the slavery system raises some questions about how the fairness of the retribution of that historical content benefits in the capitalistic economy. Because of the historical empiricism or the pragmatism reasoning in connection with the capitalistic nature of slavery, it has been difficult to rethink in legal terms new rights that could compensate poor black people in that specific context for the product of their life.
We will see how the birth of the figure of the lazy ‘bluesman’ represents the social change response to the oppression. In addition we will analyze why his posture carries the solution to any alienating job for any human being in a market economy.
The first Negroes landed on the shores of this nation in 1619, one year ahead of the Pilgrim Fathers. They were brought here from Africa; and unlike the Pilgrim, they were brought against their will as slaves. Throughout the era of slavery the Negro was treated in inhuman fashion. He was considered a thing to be used, not a person to be respected. He was merely a depersonalized cog in a vast plantation machine. The famous Dred Scott decision of 1857 well illustrates his status during slavery. In this decision the Supreme Court of the United States said, in substance, that the Negro is not a citizen of the United States; he is merely a property subject to the dictates of his owner. M.L. King A
Testament of Hope 5-6.
The very idea of slavery where some people - even though black people weren’t considered human beings by white – could work for others for free had a pragmatic reasoning of doing what works for me and produces measurable results for me. Empiricism reasoning, which comes before pragmatism, is about “repeating facts already past therefore makes no place for liberty.” We would hope that pragmatics which is for James empiricism pushed to its legitimate conclusions would be emancipator for black people under slavery and post-slavery work conditions.
If we take pragmatism in the way John Dewey defines it as “the rules of art and technique which are based on experience and are applicable to experience,” we can say that because the black experience is different from white experience, the white southerner who makes a decisions according to what works – for him - and what works is to have a slave or a low paid worker. It is clear that his reasoning doesn’t works for blacks. The black condition is what works for him, because the black is literally working for him.
Why would he be willing to change that situation? That’s why pragmatism reasoning which produces measurable results could be a burden for the black condition. The other perspective the black will also make sure he does what works for him. What works for him in this context is to free himself from that condition. His measurable result will be the amelioration of his life which means freedom.
After his emancipation in 1863, the Negro still confronted oppression and inequality. It is true that for a time, while the army of occupation remained in the South and Reconstruction ruled, he had a brief period of eminence and political power. But he was quickly overwhelmed by the white majority. Then in 1896 through the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, a new kind of slavery came into being. In this decision the Supreme Court of the nation established the doctrine of “separate but equal” as the law of the land. Very soon it was discovered that the concrete result of this doctrine was strict enforcement of the “separate,” without the slightest intention to abide by the “equal.” So the Plessy doctrine ended up plunging the Negro into the abyss of exploitation where he experienced the bleakness of nagging injustice. M.L. King A Testament of Hope 6.
“Frustrated, humiliated, and unenthusiastic about farm work, young Johnson finally ran away from home and stayed gone for approximately six months.” He knows that he lives only to increase the capital of his bourgeois master turned boss as Marx would put it. The only way to turn that around is revolution.
“He surfaced again one evening when House and Brown were playing, a guitar swung over his back.” The ‘blues’ was not just the escape but the response. The blues singer incarnated that revolution in some ways as he felt the alienation in his black body. “The bluesman, a rounder, drifter, drinker, and womanizer who disdained work and any restrains on his morality or behavior, was the antithesis of what Delta whites wanted their black worker to be. It was not just the music but also the lifestyle of the blues musician that presented a problem for the white power structure.”
The ‘bluesman’ recalls that primitive state where “he could be free doing the only work necessary to his survival.” “Refusal to work for the white man could be evidence of laziness, or it could suggest rebellion.” Work itself has created the apparition of class enemies. To those who would be telling him “don’t get on the way,” the ‘bluesman’ would answer with John Lewis that “he is looking for a way to get in the way” of the alienating work system of slavery. Change, as I learned back when I was growing up, was not something my parents were ever very comfortable with. And who could blame them? They, like hundreds of thousands – no millions – of black men and women of their generation, worked harder than seemed humanly possible, under circumstances more difficult than most Americans today could possibly imagine, carving out a life for themselves and their children in a society that saw them as less than fully human… There was a little room of change in the world my parents knew, and what change was usually for the worse. It’s not hard to understand at all the mixture of fear and concern they both felt as they watched me walk out into the world as a young man and join a movement aimed, in essence, at turning the world they knew upside down.” John Lewis. Walking with the Wind. 9.
The pragmatic selfish white view and the pragmatic selfish black view polarize the behavior in conflicting interests. Each party has this idea of being on the side of truth, as each one can envision tangible benefits they enjoy and can verify. Here time is frozen; the past and the future have been, are and will be the same. Truth is immutable, as faith is. This is what makes pragmatism dangerous as it assimilates with religion even though it is very rooted in materialism as it seeks verifiability to keep proving itself. Pragmatism is a God we can see.
Pierce’s theory opposes the idea of “achievement of a particular end, and still more to a personal aim.” It’s selfish and short sighted; he is against the idea that “reason or thought should be reduced to being a servant of any interest which is pecuniary narrow.”
How do we expand pragmatism here beyond white interest? Pierce says that “the object of philosophy would be rather to give a fixed meaning to the universe by formulas which correspond to our attitudes or our most general habits of response to the environment; and this generality depends on the extension of the applicability of these formulas to specific future events.” Pierce by saying this is expanding the white southerner pragmatism in terms of what works for him should also work for blacks. So that whatever formula he will come up with will be true for both of them as part of the universe dynamic with the others and agents. But that approach should take into account that the black is under the white power; therefore, the white will make sure that power structure doesn’t change so that he has a bargaining power to make sure he will minimize what works for blacks.
There is an obvious conflict of interest in the pragmatic reasoning that is also practical in some ways as it is related to black labor force. We shouldn’t forget like Piece says that “beliefs are really rules for action, and the whole function of thinking is but one step in the production of habits of action.” This is why as he continues, we have to make sure of “the greatest possible application of the rule, or the habit of conduct – its extension to universality.” Finding the appropriate humanist response to segregation was the most important “I grew up seeing injustice and it is so deep a part of my life. This town is unfair, has been unfair… But I had an anger that was ineffective. So that had to be channeled into a new way.” Mack McCarter .
This is where the ‘Bluesman’ approach is remarkable and it the perfect pragmatic response in the sense of what works for him in that context.
The Bluesman has developed his own pragmatic reasoning that worked for him and has produced measurable results from him by giving himself free time; the time of laziness is his measurable result.
Let’s talk about The History of Black laziness in western economy. Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s study of the history of the African stereotypical “image gained currency in the colonial situation was that of the lazy native.” Early in the nineteenth century the profile of the simple good savage out of the repertory of the Romantics still ran as follows:
“Gifted with a carelessness which is totally unique, with an extreme agility, indolence, sloth and great sobriety, the negro exists on his native soil, in the sweetest apathy, unconscious of want or pain or privation, tormented neither with the cares of ambition, nor with the devouring ardor of desire. To him the necessary and indispensable articles of life are reduced to a very small number; and those endless wants, which torment Europeans, are not known amongst the Negroes or Africa.” (Golbéry, 1803).
The poet J. Montgomery mused in 1807:
“Is the Negro blest? His generous soilwith harvest plenty crowns his simple toilmore than his wants his flocks and fields afford...”
The very qualities which at the start of the century evoked images of paradise were revaluated by the latter part of the century, in conjunction with industrialization, neo-Puritanism and the Protestant ethic in Europe, and colonialism in Africa, to give rise to the image of the lazy native, indolent and without ambition in the midst of tropical plenty. Emptiness had become a curse. That these images were both devoid of reality is not the issue here: they served as echoes of alternate desires and strivings of occidental culture. They helped shape Europe's regime of truth. The stereotype of the lazy native was inherent in colonialism and not specific to Africa. American images were the lazy ‘Injun’ and the slumbering Mexican. Surinamese Bush Negroes were described thus in 1883:”In general they are inert and lazy and onk when they are compelled by necessity...” (Oostindie en Maduro, 23). Cf. Alatas, The myth of the lazy native, 1977).
The stereotype of the lazy native correlated with the expansion of capitalism served as an alibi for forced labor and exploitation, and thus formed a lucrative component of the civilizing mission. Marx referred to the creation of “universal industriousness” as one aspect of “the great civilizing influence of capital” (Marx, Grundrisse, 1973, pp. 325-6, 409-10). The formulation is also a reaction, not without irony, to the complaint of a
Jamaican planter, in the vein of Carlyle's Nigger Question.).
The image of the lazy native performed yet another function to justify colonialism. Back in the eighteenth century the philosophy had been formulated that the possession of foreign land by Europeans was rightful if it was unoccupied, so-called empty land or terra nullius, which was defined as uncultivated. (Emer de Vattel (1714-1767), 1758. Cf. Curtin, 1971, pp. 42-5). The claim of native laziness therefore was simultaneously a claim to the rightfulness of colonialism. In another fashion the endlessly reproduced images of natives as hunters, in decorative poses with rustic arms, spear and bow and arrow, carry as a subtext that the “peoples were only hunters” and not cultivators, again
an implicit endorsement of European colonialism bringing native lands to fruition.
The Leitmotiv of colonial propaganda was economic gain. The favorite image of the colony in the home country was that of a place that was being made productive through European discipline and ingenuity, where under European management natural resources were being exploited, where order reigned so that labor could be productive. “Useful products” and (cheap) labor therefore play an important part in colonial iconography. The cheerful image of productive colonies was disseminated by means of postcards, advertising and packaging of colonial products. As an Englishman remembered his youth in the thirties:” Empire was all around us, celebrated on our biscuit tins, chronicled on our cigarette cards, part of the fabric or our lives. We were all imperialists then” (John Julius Norwich in MacKenzie, Introduction, 1986, p. 8).
We see laziness has been used to justify slavery. As slavery became unacceptable, laziness got also used to justify exploitation of black workers. The definition of laziness is according to the work that benefits the whites, the bourgeoisie for Marx. The works that serves other human beings not ourselves -not nature, not our spiritual and physical beings is alienating. Marx even wonders why we can’t be doing be doing all these activities we are interested in, improving ourselves in a field that interest us, why the system of production doesn’t allow us to be a fisherman today, a farmer tomorrow, a critic in the morning and a hunter in the afternoon? Therefore we will no longer have painters but people who paint in the middle of other things.
Another way to defy pragmatism reasoning was also consciously or unconsciously not measurable results not verifiable through the ‘Blues’ informal economy and its myths that produced long terms and long lasting results.
Marx says that market economy pushes the consumer to individualism. Therefore “The mobile of the person that practices exchanges is not humanity but egoism. In place of all the physical and intellectual senses… has appeared a new sense, the sense of having.” Marx vision is not very far from the ‘Bluesman’ posture when he imagines a society without private property where senses will be free and therefore humans. Need would
have lost its selfish nature and nature its pure and simple usefulness.
Black people’s experience of work has been nothing else than alienation of their being.
“One bluesman asked, a black man if he didn’t work out in the fields, he was called lazy, no good. But who was he working for? You figure out who the lazy one was!”
Pierre Sansot asserts “the right for every one of us to live moments that aren’t controlled by any given finality.”
The notion of work has lost its energy we find in physics. It has been replaced by the ’job’. The job is this almost a static posture that lacks energy but which only dynamic is the pay. When the blues musician sings, he works even if he doesn’t have a job. A woman who takes care of her children at home works even if she doesn’t have a job. The job is in some sense an alienation of the human being itself in regards of money. The ultimate goal of a ’jobber’ is a lazy source of income that will free him from that work they are only doing, because they are seeking a sort of freedom. There are many lazy sources of income out there: investment, inheritance, rights from creative work etc.
Because freedom is at stake, each individual goal here is get to a point where he doesn’t have to work to live. This is where the black aspiration to freedom in a post-slavery capitalistic society meets all the ‘jobbers’ aspirations of a lazy source of income.
That lazy source of income for the blues musician is doing the work he wants to do without it being working in a constrained system of production with exclusive activities for each person and without it being for other human being measurable selfish benefits.
Denis Grozdanovitch says that “The real lazy people are in fact very active, it’s just impossible for them to do what they have being told to do”
Laziness could be joyful, contemplative or contesting. It shakes the logic of the economy and the leisure free time. Through its inactivity and void, it favors self-reconquest. It’s at the same time an act of resistance and the path to wisdom.
The laziness posture has also been a way to reaffirm one fundamental right, the right of owning oneself, which a country with a slavery historical background really needs because how the system went from slavery to capitalism is not very different for blacks.
Our Patrimony Right Act is a necessary adjustment, because the post-slavery model in place has made insignificant adjustments that perpetuate the pattern set from the beginning.
It seems as if the failure of the communist model has even contributed to even reinforce more of pragmatic reasoning of “what works” and spread it globally without asking the question of “what works for whom?”
Pragmatism has been reinforcing the marginalization of blacks in America as it perpetuates the old stereotypes. While back then “refusal to work for the white man could be evidence of laziness.”
Today the rhetoric of jobs and education is present in every attempt to lift a black community such as the Mississippi Delta one from poverty, but it doesn’t take into account the historical relation black people have with work. Thus, either we rethink the nature of property itself and devise forms that combine private ownership with a high level of social participation and control, or we decide to live in the world of Richards Weaver’s “moral idiots” – a world comfortable for some or even many and brutal beyond description for the rest. This is the reason why we think it is about time to reintegrate black people’s history of slavery in the capitalistic economy of property that used that same historical content products being ‘Blues’ or something else.
“We have been enmeshed in endless arguments between the two options of the “command economy” of state-directed socialist systems, and the “market economy” of world capitalism. The failures of both systems, cry out for something new. What could it be? Perhaps the new concept we are searching for is best described as a “community economy.”…I want to ask what shifts in our economy ethics, assumptions, and ways of thinking are now required. Jim Wallis. The Soul of Politics.
The Patrimony Rights Act will also redefine the way we do politics; the democratic
power game and the political system of representation at a local, national and international level.
The individual and the community could mandate an organization to represent them in dealing with a third party. But that representation right is backed by a deseizure right. It’s a natural right in the sense of Hobbes where the individual gives up his rights to a State for example, but at the same time he could at any given moment withdraw from that contract without having to explain the reason. But the natural reason will be when the individual or the community will have a sense that its interests are not being served, and here the interest is first survival. Any life threatening or life confinement like prison could bring an individual or a community to withdraw from that contract of representation. This will generate competition among the potential representatives of individuals and communities; therefore, an ideal of the democratic society will be at work.
Hobbes deseizure right is key in changing the actual model of representation that carries an important contradiction. Let’s take the case of a black prisoner. The state has taken his freedom from him, he looses his right to vote therefore he can’t have any representation, he is denied the right to be an individual or to be part of any community while he is still an active human being in a society. This seems unfair according to Thomas Hobbes who states that if a sovereign - The State – is unable to provide security to a person, that person has the right to disease the sovereign from the right he has given to him to represent him and go seek his security somewhere else. If we apply that idea to a black prisoner in a post-slavery America, we can say that first it is his natural right to do everything it’s his right to do everything he can to recover his freedom. We can also say that it’s his right to withdraw from the representation contract he has with the State.
We can also take the example of a young African who lives under dictatorship where the sovereign benefits alone from the natural resources of a community soil in a deal with an international corporation. By giving him and his community the right to withdraw from the representation contract that ties him with his sovereign, we actually empower him and his community in the very nature of the exchanges that need to be redefined when they are happening between a private entity like a corporation and a state that represents individual and communities. It also puts community and individual survival at the very center of the democratic representation system as well as in the business exchanges and transactions.
The question is where do the African child whose picture has been shown all over the world in mall the media go for compensation? The answer is to the media. How could she do that? By given her representation right to a local political leader, Ms. Odwowun who herself will mandate a non-profit organization we will call here the The World Individual and Community Rights Society. WICRS represents communities and individuals in front of global Medias. The WICRS work consist of monitoring media content worldwide and making sure the media pay a fee to the community or the individual in the content used. The fee or percentage will have to be defining through negotiations. We could envision in the future media joining the WICRS to become an Individual and Community Right Media; a Media that pays back to communities a content fee which might be politically correct. Then the monitoring will just be a formality as the media will be declaring themselves the content they are distributing and broadcasting. “The basic problem of the multinationals is not that they are hierarchical cruel, or ill intentioned, however much they may be charged on all counts. Rather, it is that they are literally irresponsible. They operate under few if any moral constraints and can, with formal justification; claim not to be responsible for the creeping genocide in America or the savaging of the Third World, or the moral degeneracy of modern life.
The world is caught up in a cycle of production – consumption – jobs, because we didn’t find anything else. But if we can’t create revenues for people who just take care of life we will slow down the cycle that is becoming even more threatening for nature, resources and the economical system itself as India and China are joining the club.
A black community like the Mississippi Delta needs this new right, the patrimony right some critics may call the ‘laziness right’. But in fact it’s a moral right that preserves the very essential of our individual and community being and experience as an economic agent in a market economy where job are alienating. “It should not be surprising that the strength of community life has declined in America. This decline has occurred not despite liberal principles, but because of them. This suggests that no fundamental strengthening of community life will be possible unless individuals give back certain of their rights to communities, and accept the return of certain historical forms of intolerance. Francis Fukuyama p. 98 Properties and Power
Black experience in America has created an identity that paved the road through incarnated resistance figures such as bluesmen in the Mississippi Delta in an established white slavery and post-slavery dominant capitalistic society. The ‘Bluesman’ posture and behavior is a pragmatic surviving response to the alienating machine he permanently seeks ways to subvert. Spinoza says that “the effort to preserve one is the first and unique foundation of virtue” As this response is rooted in his brain; the ‘bluesman’ has created what I call the black ‘mentalis’ that produces the behavior that makes his unique identity that has been able to generate the blues as a response to the alienating system. That behavior is an asset and shouldn’t only produce prisoners and homeless. The Black Mentalis is the conscience of America. That’s why the bluesman is a “behaviorist” as his brain has “developed effecting appropriate motor responses. On the basis of the theory of evolution it is maintained that the analysis of intelligence and of its operations should be compatible with the order of known biological facts.” Damasio defines consciousness as the rite of passage which allows an organism armed with the ability to regulate its metabolism, with innate reflexes, and with the form of learning known as conditioning to become a minded organism. We become conscious when the organism’s representation devices exhibit a specific kind of wordless knowledge.
Consciousness begins as the feeling of what happens when we see or hear or touch… It is the feeling that accompanies the making of any kind of image – visual, auditory, tactile, and visceral – within our living organisms. Consciousness is Knowledge. Knowledge is consciousness. A the consciousness developed in the bluesman brain is what is called Black consciousness. Black consciousness is behaviorist universal pattern because it’s an evolution response to any alienating system of human beings as living organism developing “the art of life”. The true language of the brain is music – frequencies – not language. Who else than the bluesman can agree with the fact that “consciousness begins when brains acquires the power of telling a story without words”. The stories black leaders such as M.L.King could word out better than anyone else to making black consciousness not just an American consciousness but the consciousness of the poor. That the ambition of the Patrimony Right Act.
“Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people, individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively, that means all of us together, collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? … The Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all the export of the United States. That’s power right here if we know how to pool it. Martin Luther King p.282-283 I See the Promised Land.
M.L. King A Testament of Hope
John Lewis Walking with the Wind, A Harvest Book Harcourt Brace & Company 1998
Mack McCarter Building Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal: “Restoring Community through Christian Love” Kennedy School of Government
J.N. Pieterse, White on Black: images of Africa and blacks in western popular culture, Yale UP, 1992
« Eloge de la paresse» Magazine littéraire n°433 Juillet-août 2004
Jacques Attali, Karl Marx l’esprit du monde Fayard 2005.
Jim Wallis p.1997 The Soul of Politics A Harvest Book Harcourt Brace & Company
Thomas Hobbes Le Leviathan Editions Gallimard 2000.
John Dewey The Development of American Pragmatism.
Antonio. Damasio The Feeling of What Happens. A Harvest Book Harcourt, Inc. 1999 .
Eugene D. Genovese The Southern Traditions