When people talk about activists and revolutionaries they always make the issue the activist, as if they were born in a vaccum, and little attention is payed to those individuals in there life that help, nurture or support them. In my own life, the one person who played a big role supporting me and making many sacrifices is my mother. i remember my first political arrest, i think I was fifteen at the time, we planned an action and it went to shit, my cohorts escaped and i was running away down Guakel street, being chased by cops, people were cheering , I got thrown down, face smashed against the concrete, cuffed, told to name my accompisses, which i did not thrown into a cell etc. Since I was a young offender I could call a guardian, the person i called was my mom. The action, looking back on it was pretty hairbrained and not that well thought out, not trusting the police phones i told her trust me, ill explain it all when im out, Instead of yelling at me (she said theres enough time for that when you get out) she found one of the best lawyers and made sure i was ok. As soon as i got out, she said so you called yourself a Marxist whats the Labour theory of Value, i spewed some rhetoric and she said Marx says that is ideology is a science not emotion, if you call yourself a Marxist prove it. I got all thre volumes of Das Kapital and a dictionary and after weeks I was able to explain it P=Constant Capital+Fluctuating Capital+Surplus Value, after that she said fine now explain to me why Lenin says Imperialism is the highest stage of Capitalism, so once again with a dictionary in my hand i got Lenins book and I read and studied. Its funny her famous saying always was “I dont want my children to think like me, I just want them to think”.
Growing up in a two bedroom apartment with five brothers and sisters, grandma aunt cousins and anyone from the old country that would visit, we were very poor and overcrowded, yet despite this My mom always made sure we had books to read, trips to museams, lessons etc. She made sure we did not have a TV because she said that tv stops you from thinking and as poor people from another country TV and a;ll these distractions are here to make you stupid and i dont want my children to wash toilets after the rich snobs. The building we were living in was getting gentrified and my family was the one that was refusing to move, and in school when we would get picked on for being poor and I would get into fights she would always be supportive in front of the principle point out the injustice of it all, yet when i would get home she would tell me that fighting with fists is playing into there game, I need to fight with my mind. So i would read, alot, and she would always find me in the washroom with the lights off with a flashlight reading various things way past my bedtime.
i remember getting dragged into the principles office for reading and promting unchristian material, they called my mom in, me instead of denying it took Bakunin’s ‘God and State” and started reading to the principle, making strong arguements against religion and for anarchism (this was before i discovered Marxism) My mother pointed out my high intelligence level, my principle agreed and instead of being given any sort of special tutoring i was given a ball to squeeze whenever i got frustrated or bored. Despite this my mom would make sure out of whatever money we had that me and my brothers and sisters would go to science camps, have music lessons and develop the critical thinking.
When we moved to a poor neighbourhood, and i ran around with all the ruffians raising hell, she would chase the really bad people away with a broom and threaten to shoot them if they got me into drugs etc. (looking back at it, the diffrence between me and alot of my friends who are now in jail for horizontal violence, stabings and other such poor on poor crime, was the fact that i had a mom who loved me). Yet despite this she would feed all the nieghbourhood children, even though we ourselves had little enough.
When i first got political she tried all she could to keep me out of politics, and we would have serious arguements. i remember I went postering and she would follow me and rip down every one of my posters as soon as I would put them up. Finally convinced that I had the political bug and it was not going away she was supportive, and in that period of time when I would get arrested, eventually released on bail, re arrested etc. She would defend me tooth and nail. She would yell at police and say things like You mucha chas think you scare me, my family lived under facist and Russian occupation im not scared of you. Or she would go to the police station and yell such things like “why wont you release my son, because you beat him and your waiting for the bruises to heal”.
on bail many times not being able to leave my house,except to go to school, I would sit and she would tell me stories of my uncle who during the Cuban Missle Crisis got his whole class to sighn up to volunteer to fight against the U$ (they never ended up going), or how he helped organize a protest outside the U$ embassy saying Cuba yes, yankkees no and when they would say no they would throw the brick to smash the windows. Her favorite stories were of 1968 when Ceausecu stood up to the Soviets, refusing to invade Checkoslovakia and stated the five principles. Non intervention in the Soverieghn Affairs of other nations, every Country has the right to develop socialism according to its own principles, No Commuist Party can impose its views on another communist party etc. and the Romanian people were armed to defend against attacks from both the west and the east.
She would also be very honest about the mistakes and problems under Socialism, and was very critical of my “romanitisization” of socialism. To paint her as a communist would be a great disservice to her, she hated all injustice and would get frustrated with my failure to see the flaws or apologize for the mistakes made by commuists. I remember once when I was defending Stalin and saying that even if he killed 20 million at least 15 million people desreved it and the other five were collateral damage, she told me that one should never glory the loss of even one human life.
We would have discussions that would last hours about the problems about socialism and one thing she hated was the opportunists in the party. once frustrated at me she said that in her life she only met three ardent communists and i was one of them. She was proud that she never took one cent from Voice of America or other such groups and while others were making so much money being mouth peices for the west, we were poor, but honest. She would rail against opportunism and would tell stories of the Anti Communist heros today who use to be bootlickers and mouth the Party line before the counter revolution of 1989.
In jail, while i would use the phone and call many people the only two people that ever visited me was my mom and a certain friend. i remember we were smoking a cigerrette roled with bible paper and honey with only a pinch of tobbaco behind the toilet, when the screw called me out, whenever im in i always fight for my rights so i thought i was fucked, instead it was a visit, seeing my mom and my friend i was so happy, and even though it was fucked inside i put on a brave face and said it was all good and ranted for awhile. The fact that my friend visited me is something i will never forget.
All this stuff definatly took a toll on her, and hurt her. i remember after her death finding a poem aout me that she wrote about me being in jail for St. Nicholas and i started to cry, and looking back at the stress i caused her as well as the pain and hardship and suffering, I think she must have been a very strong woman to deal with that, and it really hurts me that i put her through all that, and its funny that even though I was the one who was getting flack from the state it was her who was suffering along side me, always wondering if the knock at the door would be from a cop breaching me, always wondering if i was safe, always worried aout her “beloved son”.
After 2006, when my last charge was dropped and I had some breathing space before my arrest at the G20 for conspiracy we talked about me going to lawschool and other such things, yet despite the fact I was not getting arrested the stress was always there.
Watching her die after my original conspiracy charge was one of the hardest moments of my life, not being able to truley be there for her because of dealing with court and other things really hurt me. To this day people still blame me for her death, and those words wouldnt hurt so much if there wasnt a grain of truth to them. Still on her deathbed she told me that she is proud of me, that i am principled and stand up for what i believe in, and i hold those words deep in my heart.
This mothers day I honor my mother by remembering all that she has done for me, all that she has suffered for my sake and I know that if there is an afterlife , she is watching down and smiling.