New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


From Occupation to Liberation

October 19, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

Seeing and Believing in the Power to Change the World — and Ourselves

by Randall Amster

Words matter, especially in our mediated world where the resonance of language is greatly amplified. In this spirit, among some sectors that are otherwise sympathetic with and supportive of the overall aims of the Occupy Movement, there has been an important critique advanced about the nature of “occupation” as an operative premise, oftentimes seeking to deconstruct the racialized character of the concept as it applies to the legacy of occupiers and the makeup of the movement in its present form.

This critical perspective highlights the fact that Wall Street has always been “occupied territory,” tracing to its earliest days when an actual wall was erected, and even further back when the entire continent itself was taken by an occupying force that failed to recognize the humanity and validity of the original inhabitants. Most of us comprehend this reality — namely that we largely exist on thoroughly occupied land — even as we sometimes forget that for many of us working to #Occupy the centers of power, we ourselves are the beneficiaries of an ongoing and unremediated occupation. (more…)

Writing Instruction as Social Practice

August 16, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Diane Lefer

What I Did (and Learned) in Barrancabermeja, Colombia

by Diane Lefer

Friends and family expressed concern when I said I was going to Colombia. Isn’t it dangerous? So I got a kick out of the tourism video Avianca showed en route: Colombia! The risk is that you won’t want to leave!

Apparently something of the sort happened to Yolanda Consejo Vargas, dancer and theatre artist born in Mexico, and her husband Italian-born director Guido Ripamonti when they found themselves in 2007 in Barrancabermeja, specifically in Comuna 7, which began as a neighborhood of squatters–people who’d been driven out of the countryside by violence, had landed in the city and were struggling to get by. The area was controlled by the guerrilla forces of the ELN. Then rightwing paramilitary death squads swept in, disrupting a Mothers Day celebration in 1998, killing and disappearing civilians, including children, while the Colombian military failed to intervene. The people of Comuna 7 organized, intent on reweaving the social fabric and creating a culture of peace. (more…)

Deciphering Political Language

June 22, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ahmed Afzaal, Culture, Politics

Finding Genuine “Peace, Stability, and Security”

by Ahmed Afzaal

(Editor’s Note: This week on NCV, as part of a thematic series, we are featuring articles focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict and attendant issues, hoping to stimulate a dialogue and suggest potential ways forward.)

For many Americans, the Israeli-Palestinian issue has become an unfathomable mystery enveloped in a dense fog of confusion. In order to clear some of the fog, I would like to enlist the help of a particular expert. The person I have in mind is George Orwell (1903-1950), the English author and journalist best known for his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948).

Why should we make Orwell our guide? One reason for choosing Orwell is that his writings offer one of the most enduring lessons for democratic citizenship, a lesson that many of us are in the process of forgetting. Orwell would tell us that an attitude of suspicion towards those in power, especially the politicians and the news media, is nothing short of a civic virtue. The citizens’ refusal to take the claims of the powerful at face value is a sign that democracy is alive and well. (more…)

Beyond Belief

May 26, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Finding Common Ground on Climate Change

by Rick Chamberlin

“They loved each other beyond belief; She was a strumpet, he was a thief.” — Henrich Heine, “New Poems,” 1797-1856

The vocabulary of religion is not serving us well when it comes to battling — or even discussing — climate change.

Recently a friend sent me a link to a video of Karen Armstrong accepting the TED prize in 2008. In her speech the former nun turned world-renowned scholar and author had this to say:

“Belief is only a very recent religious enthusiasm. It surfaced only in the West in about the 17th century. The word ‘belief’ itself originally meant to love, to prize, to hold dear. In the 17th century, it narrowed its focus … to include, to mean, an intellectual assent to a set of propositions. Credo, ‘I believe,’ … did not mean ‘I accept certain credal articles of faith’. It meant ‘I commit myself. I engage myself’…. So if religion is not about believing things, what is it about? What I’ve found across the board is that religion is about behaving differently. Instead of deciding whether or not you believe in God, first you do something, you behave in a committed way, and then you begin to understand the truths….” (more…)