I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
September 11th is now, of course, remembered chiefly for Al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Centre. Which, whatever evils the US government may have committed, and whatever horrors global capitalism has perpetrated, was still the killing over several thousand civilians. And not all of them rich banking civilians, as the stereotype sometimes goes. A year after I visited a friend in a largely black, poor neighbourhood in Brooklyn who described how a number of the children he taught in a local school had lost parents and other relatives – the cleaners, doormen, secretaries and other low-paid staff who service the big beasts of global capital.
But before I’ve even started I’ve already digressed. Because before the Twin Towers there was already a 9/11 – and today is its 40th anniversary. It was, of course, the date on which a US-sponsored military coup overthrew a democratically elected Socialist government in Chile. Under the shelling and aerial bombardment of La Moneda Palace, the president of that government, Salvador Allende, ultimately died, probably by his own hand.
I had the honour of being the main member of the editorial panel of Pluto’s Revolutionary Lives series to work on Victor Figueroa Clark’s new biography of Allende, which has just come out. It’s a great example of what we set out to do with this series – to tell the stories of figures who on one hand have inspired and energised their comrades, but were also ordinary human beings with all their beauty and flaws.
There’s more about the book on the series website, and on Twitter, and Victor has been/is speaking at a number of events around the UK to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first 9/11 and examine its legacy in the contemporary Latin American left. And here’s a video of Victor talking about Allende and the book: