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(DV) Petras: The Ghosts of the Past -- Repented Leftists Revisited







The Ghosts of the Past: Repented Leftists Revisited 
by James Petras
January 21, 2007

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Act 1 scene 1  Cemeteries of the world are filled with ghosts meeting and discussing; ghosts in sheets of red, ghosts in black and red; some with gaping wounds, others without limbs, some beheaded and blinded. Some came from forgotten weed patches, others from under monumental tombstones. Some speak loud and clear, other curse under their breath -- but all are filled with angry indignation.

From near and far they all declare:

All:          Revenge!

To those who betrayed our trust, our fight, our sacrifice,

even as they dare to praise or speak

               in our name and of our death.

               We say a curse on all your kind,

               we shall visit

               and you shall hear our voices

               amplified by the millions

               and through the many languages

               will be conveyed

               our message:

               Traitors do not tread upon our graves

               Lest you lose your treasures

               And more yet

               your unholy alliance with all those

               whose power tyrannize

               our people

               And makes a mockery of our sacrifice.


And so speak the assembly of the ghosts of the past

addressing the rulers of the present,

former comrades

who have taken up the cudgels

of their former enemies.

They travel far and wide

to Central and South America,

to the Middle East,

Asia, Europe and

North America.

Neither color or gender

are forgotten,

or forgiven.

All those who forsake

their class are to be visited…


Act 1 scene 2

(Midday in Managua in the Presidential Palace, the ghosts of the past stare at the ex-guerrilla President.)


Ghost: Do you know what it cost for you to become President?


President: What’s it to you,

who are dead,

the past,


Times have changed.

Time to move on…


Ghost: Drop the clichés -

the election campaign is over. 

I want an accounting. 

I will remind you everyday

in everyway.


President: I don’t keep books

… Maybe millions

from bankers, entrepreneurs

everyone regressive

has to be ‘progressive’

for funding me.


Ghost: (loud prolonged laughter, followed by a cold stern straight ahead look) 

That’s all known, your new allies:

the Archbishop, who blessed the mercenaries,

the bankers, who bought the guns,

who murdered our schoolteachers,

the entrepreneurs, who closed the factories

and took their money to Florida. 

I’m talking about your former comrades,

who fought and died,

whose blood and courage

freed the country of the tyranny:

fifty-thousand of the best and most beautiful,

under the earth,

feeding the worms…


President: We tried the revolutionary way. 

It didn’t work. 

Times have changed,

we had to try

a new way. 

We were successful,

the proof is that I am President today!


Ghost: You in the tyrant’s palace

with your millionaire commanders and partners in crime

incestuous lovers,

criminals and swindlers all!

Who cringe and crawl

Before the emperor

we dared defy.


President: (screams)

You dare repeat

the outrageous lies, those obscene stories of forbidden love

to me-the-President-elect? 

You miserable ghost!  (He pulls a revolver out of his desk drawer and waves it around in the empty air)


Ghost: We’ll have no more of your empty gestures,

your feigned indignation. 

Face reality:

You cannot kill the past,

it lives in the streets and hovels,

the heroes who hop on stumps,

the fighters who sell trinkets in the street,

the boldest taking flight to other lands,

and others still

taking up arms to traffic in drugs and contraband,

to guard the mansions of their former foes  -- 

landowners, bankers, the crap of old.


President: Ghost, guerrilla, comrade or foe. 

You must know

that this catastrophe was not of my choice.

It was the Empire

which left us so.


Ghost: No double discourse, Sr. Presidente. 

For while you speak in here of the criminal emperor,

out there you are with bended knee: 

Austerity for the poor and incentives for the rich. 

You open the door and with a deep bow, your forehead touching the floor,

you say ‘Welcome plunderers, pillage to your hearts’ content…

and leave it to me to corrupt the willing

and repress the poor.’


President: (rises and strides toward the door) 

I have no bad conscience. 

I never regret of fighting and forgetting: 

I have made new friends and abandoned the old. 

For that I am now el Presidente! 


Ghost: I take leave today. 

But I will be back everyday.  When you speak,

I will tie your tongue. 

When you walk,

I will crowd your way. 

When you embrace the Archbishop,

I will raise a bloody fetus to your sight,

product of your heinous legislation.  

You will rule from the palace,

but the streets will remain our domain.


Act 1 scene 3

(Senate chambers of a South American State)

Ghost hovers over a Senator in conversation with a General

Senator: The best is to forget the past,

we both believed sincerely

In our cause,

we guerrillas fought and lost,

but now we are allies in democracy.


General: I look forward to your collaboration

in the name of God, Family and Nation. 

You can start by striking down our common enemy  -- 

those who would incite the rancor of the past,

rake up tales of death of torture

long past…

and best forgotten.


Senator: I have spoken once and will speak again. 

to forget the past,

revenge speaks not to justice

but to chaos,

vindictive families fail to realize

we cannot raise the dead.


Ghost: We have risen,

you Senator of Perversion. 

My former Commander who sent me into combat

on a hopeless mission,


I spent days and nights on the rack,

to save your skin…


Senator: (aggressively self-righteous) 

It was right to send you into combat then

and it is right today for me to be with your former torturer  -- 

a General essential to our defense.


General: (perplexed by seeming monologue of the Senator)

Senator, its time for me to go. 

We shall continue some

other time. 

( Musing to himself, “Must be a habit from his long stay in solitary”    

He laughs as he walks away.)


Ghost: You’re sitting pretty now, Senator. 

It was a long and arduous climb.

Over the corpses of so many comrades,

so many of our suicides, exiles, mentally disturbed. 

The tragedy are those militants who build the movements,

some of whom receive the crumbs

of your largesse as Senator.

Most, however, worry about tomorrow’s meal,

struggle with a subsistence pension,

while your new affluent colleagues drink champagne

instead of maté,

celebrating power over solidarity.


Senator:  I don’t need your lectures. 

I did my time. 

(He begins to pace back and forth, six steps in each direction, the size of his former prison cell)

Ten years in prison,

nine years in solitary,

six years underground,

without light. 

I never talked.


Ghost: True. But now you are making up for lost time. 

Your frequent press conferences

in favor of imperial bases,

investments and contamination

makes a mockery of your party’s name  --  National Liberation. 

Better call it  ‘National Defamation.’ 

You live off our past. 

You piss on our graves and call it ‘holy water.’ 

Holy hypocrite.


Senator: We honor your memory each year. 

We celebrate our roots,

commemorate our movement,

our fallen militants.


Ghost: Yes, I recall the day and time: 

between bending over to be buggered

by the imperial military consul,

and debauching with the bankers.


Look at yourself


In the Senate.

On your knees before the powerful

At the throats of the poor.

Look in the mirror!

A traitor

Is a traitor

With and without a shave.


Act 1 scene 4


Ghost: Where did you get the design for this Wall?

From Warsaw?

Your memory of the ghetto

Allows you to recreate another…

As curator,


of the Holocaust Memory Industry.

Your testimonials

Serve as the foundation

For a living ghetto.

Traps a million Palestinians.

Extract a billion from the brethren

far and near.


Joshua(looks up)  I am a survivor…


Ghost: Of sorts… your Aunt Lina died in a camp,

while you, a baby born in


claimed her memory

and are generously compensated.


Joshua:  …who educates the world

on the greatest crime in history,

against a uniquely suffering people…


Ghost: Yes they are all

all suffering people. 

The Russian Oligarchs, the Israeli death squads,

And the squalid lawyer exploiters

of our people’s past misfortunes…


Joshua: We share a common past. 

Two thousand years of anti-Semitism

by the Gentile assassins

who laid waste our dreams

and still would,

if they had half a chance.


Ghost: The millions flow to your pots of gold

from the wealthy brethren,

Who are the richest among the rich,

a power among the powerful

In the land of the Gentiles.

You speak to no fool

We knew you kind and kin:

Swindlers and frauds, we called you ‘kapos’

In the Warsaw ghetto.


Joshua: You smell of the anti-Semite,

speaking not in Hebrew

but in a foreign language…


Ghost: Yiddish. 

Bundist Socialist

and fighter  -- 

That’s me.

We beat in our tombs,

Knowing of your crimes: 

Everything we suffered from our enemies

You practice in this stolen land.

After Deir Yassin,

came Sabra and Shatila and Jenin

we became a ghost brigade

After the Wall, Lebanon and that roofless prison,


We met in a grand assembly

And voted to disown you,

our descendents  --

We despise your beliefs,

Charlatans’ claims

to be a Superior Race

Begotten by the Aryan disgrace.


Joshua: Self-hating Jew!!

Who respects nothing we hold sacred

Our Memory, our Treasury

Our holocaust!

Your claims of battles past

Were lost!

So dare you not deface

Our military State

Which has never

Lost battles

with our inferior foes.


Ghost: Hearts we share

With the resistance

To your oppression

To your wall.

Poorly armed resistance

To your military juggernaut,

Evokes painful memories

of our Warsaw street-fighting days.

Courage we share

With the Intifada

(so like our own uprising)

that denies your



and affirms

their humanity.


Joshua: Your are not a real Jew

And anti-Semitism is your sport.


Ghost: Rabble and swine,

do not speak our name in vain.

Time will come

when in greed you’ll fail.

Returnees will claim their homes, their land, their olive trees.

Will you be ready to share and

Till the land? 

Earn your keep with the sweat of your brow?

Or will you traipse on back to Gentile land

And plead as a ‘refugee’

from the Promised Land?


Act 1 scene 5

(A feast of billionaires, CEOs, top Party officials at a 30-course Mandarin dinner)


Ghost: Quite a banquet of the rich and powerful. 

Very different from the old days

in the cafeterias of the communes and factories

with soup and rice and a chicken bone.


Hu Dung Chi: (President and Secretary General of the Party, Commander in Chief of the Army and Pater familia of several tycoons) 

Quite in line with the Marxist-Leninist-Dungist Philosophy:

‘What’s good for the wealthy is good for China’!


Ghost: Let me remind you

the rich went not on the Long March to Yenan

in the Thirties  --  they collaborated

with the Japanese and Kuo Ming Tang.

In the Fifties they did not fight or die

on the frozen fields of North Korea.

They did not build dams, roads, industries, hospitals and schools

Which your greedy colleagues (do you still call each other ‘comrade’?) have

Seized --

excuse me -- privatized --

and exploited with imperial partners.


Hu Dung: (Very cool and nonchalant) 

If you were truly a MARXIST-LENINIST you would know

that equality and social justice was an early stage of building socialism,

what MARX called ‘primitive accumulation.’ 

Today we are in the advanced period

of the six ‘C’ principles:

Concentration, Centralization, Conspicuous consumption, Corruption, and Concupiscence.

The mature state will lead to Equality, Fraternity and Liberty.


Ghost: There are 700 million peasants who liberated and defended the nation

Who now live without pensions, public clinics and schools.

The elders are paupers.

The parents cannot pay school fees for their children.

Millions die at the doors of private clinics or sell

their last pig to see a doctor

or their last chicken to see a nurse.

Your state mature

Is worse than manure

It smells the same

But provides no future

For the millions of poor.

The wealthy prosper

The peasants

Are paupers.

The Party celebrates

The economy grows

Only the people suffer.


Hu Dung: You are spreading anti-state lies  -- 

If you were not spiritual

You would spend time in prison

And I would not have to listen

To your ghostly fabrications.


Ghost: In our assembly of one billion ghosts

Who in time past fought and lost limbs and eyes  -- 

Even our babies ended their lives

At the ends of Japanese knives

Find your wealth  --  obscene. 

Your pillage

Of our wealth is treason. 

Your justifications without reason. 

For now we ghosts stand as your opposition

Because today’s fighters are in prison.


Hu Dung: I have no time to discuss with invisible foes.

Forsooth seek out Mao,

Ho or some other ghost

Who shares your outmoded ideals and dreams. 

For me there are reams of contracts to be signed,

Several agitators to consign

To prison.  For me

Material reality is the only ‘truth.’


Ghost: So easy do you forget the hundred million

Workers and peasants dispossessed

To ape the new billionaires

Of East and West: 

Your son included

with his chauffeured limousine,

his empire of office towers,

factories and banks,

to keep his concubines

in palatial mansions

and pay his progeny’s foreign education. 

There is no better proof than your family,

millionaires form a new class

of exploiters

of exporters

and rentiers. 

Put a mirror to your clan,

your family

and all those who lead

and follow your command. 

Traitors all! 

The poor whisper as they recall

the loss of dignity and land

so too will come your judgment day.


Hu Dung: The aromas of the thirty fine dishes

beckon me on. 

The shine of the billionaire’s fortune,

the pot of gold

is the light to follow. 

I dare look back

only to bellow to the Army

to cover my ass

and slaughter the mass

that dares disturb

the banquet of the billionaires.


Ghost: I will follow you to the table

to remind you of who

is not there

and to cause you indigestion.


Hu Dung: Remember I was called a ‘capitalist roader’

in the days of Mao’s infamy! 

I am protected in History

by a mountain of tales

about the horrors of the past. 

I read them not

but I urge on the scribes. 

They protect me from indigestion

and dysfunctional erection.


Ghost: Your army of scribblers,

who write your speeches

in Chinese character

and flatter your reforms

in English letters,

cannot abolish

the memory of

the hundreds of millions of

workers and peasants

whose factories and lands were sold for a pittance

to speculators and investors

who paid your cadres

to beat the militants,

frighten their sympathizers

and isolate the rest.


Hu Dung(presiding at the banquet) 

A toast to the best and brightest: 

Long live Socialism! 

Long live Capitalism! 

Long live Peace and Friendship between

the Ruling Classes of the World!


Ghost: So many sacrifices produce such gaseous expressions. 

Tis the hot sauce and dollar signs that inspire your speeches. 

Tis your ass which speaks as your mouth knows better.


Hu Dung(Annoyed by the Ghost’s intervention) 

Get thee to a factory! 

This is no place for old militants. 

Militants out!  (He shouts) 

(The billionaires raise their heads in shock:

“Too much to drink”, 

“Has he lost his mind?”,

“Is it a joke to titillate the CEOs”?)


Oligarch(Raising his glass to toast the party) 

To the militants: 

Tycoons and billionaires! 

The vanguard of the New China! 

The Leaders of our Superpower!


Act Two, Scene 1   Denial

(A meeting of all former revolutionaries who occupy positions of power in the New World Order.)


Hu Dung: We gather because

we have all suffered

visits from the ghosts of the past

who complain and whine

‘that we have forgotten the masses

and created new classes of predators and exploiters.’ 

Though their threats are immaterial

yet they have spoken

and we should seek

a collective  --  no, no  -- 

a forthright repudiation

of their blood libel fabrications.


Senator: Let us first admit that we made mistakes

in the past. 

We failed to understand

the magic of the marketplace. 

So we led some astray

and now they come back

to haunt us. 

Let us say

that we admit the errors of our past,

and affirm that now

we have found

our way to prosperity.


Joshua: The Chosen Way


Hu Dung: Not for me. 

We were right in the past

and we are right today. 

The reason is found

in the changing times

in the different stages

in the dialectical logic. 

We are always on top

and the bottom is on the bottom

as it always will be.


President: If the dialectics is not

your kettle of fish,

there is still cocaine

and an orgy

each day

to keep the ghosts away.


Act Two, Scene 2


Hu Dung: We must not distain

the old leaders

and militants

who in their day

were stepping stones

to our glorious future.


President: Yes, les construct monuments

and mausoleums. 

Honor their past

in order to transcend

them today.


Joshua: Lets honor our martyrs

and charge admission

for a visit

to our Remembrance Museums.


Senators: Lets even sing the International

while we reap the profits

of global integration. 

(Together they sing a single verse of the International  --  and stop for loss of memory, some, while continuing,  sing ‘arise ye stock markets of the world’ in place of ‘arise ye wretched of the earth.)


Act Two, Scene 3


Senator: Methinks we fear too much the ghosts of the past,

the voices of the dead. 

After all we are all honorable men

and our works will live

long after the ghosts have been forgotten. 

We should celebrate the free market

and free elections. 

Break out the champagne! 

Bring on the caviar! 

The lambs on the spit…

let the good times flow!


Hu Dung: Democracy and Prosperity with Chinese Characters! 

Don’t cower,

Asia is the Emerging Superpower.


Joshua: Let’s celebrate and cheer,

but keep me clear

of pork and shrimp

to keep my body clean

and my conscience free.


President: Let’s play some music

and invite our muses. 

Tickets only for millionaires and bankers.


Hu Dung: Only Billionaires  for us,

we are now a World Power,

extracting wealth

and killing miners. 

But who cares? 

Its all part of History

And our growing maturity.

(Hu Dung starts to dance with the First Lady Billionaire)

(The President escorts an ex-Dictator’s mistress).

(The Senator paces the floor looking for the General’s daughter)

(Joshua beckons a ‘billion-dollar babe’ from the Diaspora).


Joshua: We have to tell our story. 

Our History will refute

the ghastly lies

that cover us with blood

\and gore. 

We are founders of a State

of refugees, settlers, squatters

and mega-crooks

who have great fortunes founded. 

We sheltered them all,

even our brethren,

the Russian oligarchs  -- 

we sheltered their treasures too!


Hu Dung: We started poor

and fought and struggled

for what we got. 

So why shouldn’t we enjoy

our fortune and… pleasure too?


Senator: The ghosts are jealous because we survived

while in ill fortune they perished. 

We dodged the bullets

and shells

while they lay dead and heard not the calls

of collaboration and reconciliation. 

Now they speak

of those who want

what we got

without our struggle

and sacrifice. 

Let the text books show

that we,

the survivors and victors,

are generous

to our former adversaries,

even the billionaires,

while we scorn those

who prattle on

of a class struggle of the past

long gone.


Act Three Scene 1  (A Grand Council of Ghosts from the marked and unmarked graves of revolutionary fighters.)


Ghosts from Central America(With great indignation)

There is nothing

we share in common

with our former comrades. 

Neither memory nor suffering moves them. 

They are lost to appeals

to conscience. 

Only action

by a new generation

will move

and unseat them.


Ghosts from China: They sing and whore

over our graves. 

Even when we berate

their lies,

their degenerate souls,

we see no remorse. 

We warn  --  lest they forget

that one Cultural Revolution

does not preclude another. 

So we look and hope

for the dispossessed

to repossess their land

from the predators. 

We look to the workers,

who shoulder the architecture

of this emerging world,

to stretch their arms

and bring it down. 

March the billionaires

in their dunce caps

through the streets

of the common whores,

down the alleys

of the drug fixes. 

We will reach the tallest towers

where the worshipers of the Golden Calf

design the Sweatshops of the World. 

And send them flying

down the stairs or out the window  -- 

it’s quicker that way.


Ghost From the Warsaw Ghetto: I fear that little is left

of rebels from the Ghetto

except the commercial enterprise. 

So we look to our Semitic brothers

enclosed in walls

and like us suffering

collective punishment and dispossession

who share our fighting spirit. 

I found a future


as a Palestinian.


South African Ghost: The most we can do

to be true to our memory:

Clear the debris

of history,

dissociate the dead

from the degenerate living. 

Bring together

the remaining few,

true to the cause of Liberation

with the new generation. 

Free the past of the hucksters,

Presidents, Senators and

the black bourgeoisie

who falsely claim to be the righteous

heirs of our struggles.


All Ghosts: What is to be done? 

We ask the New Generation on the barricades

in struggle: They tell us

the answers are coming,

the voices are rising

from the jungles of Colombia

and the slums of Caracas,

the millions in the factories and villages of China,

the mines and the shanties of South Africa. 

We can hear the crackle of its guns

in the hands

of the streets fighters of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. 

Putting fire to the ample haunches

of the billionaires,

owners of the Empire!  


James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is, The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu.


Other Articles by James Petras


* Who Rules America?
* Why Condemning Israel and the Zionist Lobby is So Important
* The US and Latin America: Overview for 2006, Perspectives for 2007
* The US and the Middle East: A “Grand Settlement” Versus the Jewish Lobby
* Economic Empire Building: The Centrality of Corruption
* An Open Letter to the People and Government of the US (And a Reply to the FARC)
* US-Latin American Relations: Ruptures, Reaction and the Illusion of Times Past
* Texas vs. Tel Aviv: US Policy in the Middle East
* Challenging the Power of the Jewish Lobby: What Should Be Done?
* Israeli-US Strategy: Lebanon and Iran
* Economic Empire Building and Domestic Decay
* The Lobby and the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon: Their Facts and Ours
* The Liquid Bomb Hoax: The Larger Implications
* International Immigration and Imperial-Centered Accumulation
* Crisis of US Capitalism or the Crisis of the US Wage and Salaried Worker?
* Latin America, the EU and the US: The New Polarities
* ALBA: Proposals for the New Social, Economic and Cultural Order
* AIPAC: Lobbies and Whistleblowers Yes!, Spies No!