The Year In Review: 20 Questions for 2009

Each December, a quiz makes the rounds on the facebook-twitter-blog circuit. Last year, we wrote a Year in Review as a response to that quiz. So here it is again: our second annual—20 questions for 2009!

1. Did anyone close to you die?

Michael Jackson. Mary Travers. Crystal Lee Sutton, the real life Norma Rae. Juan Almeida. Dr. George Tiller. Mercedes Sosa. Dr. Alan Berkman. Ronald Takaki. Mario Benedetti. Augusto Boal. John Hughes. Richard Aoki. Robert Robideau. Our comrade, Susan Friedman.

And those that are so far but who we hold so close: the untold thousands that our empire killed, from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine to Honduras. People gunned down or killed in the street by cops or reactionaries.

Universal health care.

And then there are the deaths that get us by: hasta la vista, Bob Novak and Oral Roberts.

2. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

Troops out, single payer health care, Employee Free Choice Act, free and accessible education, real transformation to stop climate change, prosecution of war criminals, freedom for Palestine…a revolutionary party…y’all know…

3. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

It’s not a good sign when it takes so long to remember, but we can think of a few…students trapping University of California regents in their meeting hall; the big victory against Russell athletics waged by United Students Against Sweatshops in the US and union activists in Honduras; same-sex marriage rights in DC

4. Whose behavior merited celebration?

So many, too many: the masses make history, and triumph and resistance across Latin America and the Middle East inspire us. Somali pirates. Students across California and the rest of US rising up against budget cuts. People who occupy Joe Lieberman’s offices. Will Phillips, the 10 year old who won’t say the pledge until we stop discriminating against LGBTQ people. The revolutionary movement in Nepal. The uprising in Iran.

5. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

This year was tough—if not inspiring—but a lot of people depressed us and appalled us. The White House, for one. The Israeli apartheid state. Tea Partiers. Glenn Beck.

6. Where did most of your money go?

To Afghanistan and Iraq, and what was left over was used for the stimulus. Sure as hell it’s not going to keep people from getting sick, to rebuild the Gulf Coast, to give us jobs and education, or to pay our ecological debt and reparations.

7. Compared to this time last year, are you richer or poorer?

Last year’s questionnaire answered this question: “Plummeting wages and wholesale layoffs? I’d say we’re poorer.” And how! Plus public services are drying up leaving us to foot the bill more and more for ourselves.

8. What did you wish you’d done more of?

Putting politics in command and organizing for a revolutionary movement…shouldn’t we always be doing more of that?

9. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Getting tired and getting lazy. Letting bourgeois culture and win out and staying home to watch Biggest Loser.

10. What was the best book you read?

Solidarity Divided for building a working class social justice labor movement. And we revisited Kjersti Ericsson’s Sisters, Comrades!

11. What did you want and get?

Victories for the left in El Salvador, Bolivia, and Uruguay. A woman of color on the Supreme Court.

12. What did you want and not get?

Troops out. Universal single payer health care. Employee Free Choice Act. The DREAM Act. Defeat of the coup regime in Honduras. Withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestine. State power!

13. What was your favorite film of the year?

Capitalism: A Love Story. Where the Wild Things Are. The People Speak (okay, it was on the History Channel, but so?)

14. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Getting what we wanted.

15. What kept you sane?

Latin America. Dialectical historical materialism.

16. Who did you miss?

See above. Revolutionary ancestors, ¡presente!

17. Did you know anybody who got married?

We were too busy being cynical about our society’s criminalization of queer people’s choice to get one to notice—though we celebrate the first “gay” marriages in Vermont and the victory in DC.

18. Did you move anywhere?

Capitalism controls where we’re at in a lot of ways: if we can or can’t afford to live somewhere, if we’re driven from our homes by natural or economic or social disaster, if we have a job or don’t have a job. So we saw many people come and go—and stay—this year, and thought each time of how in a different world saying goodbye wouldn’t be so hard.

19. What pop culture event will you remember 2009 by?

Jack-o’s death. Duh. And: “I’m gonna let you finish, but…”

20. Quote a song lyric that sums up 2009.

“Well ya ain’t done nothing
if ya ain’t been called a Red.
If you marched or agitated,
then you’re bound to hear it said.
So you might as well ignore it
or love the word instead.
Cuz ya ain’t been doing nothing
if ya ain’t been called a Red.”

—Faith Petric, “Ya Ain’t Done Nothing If Ya Ain’t Been Called a Red”

Norman Rae is young, broke, and a member of Freedom Road from Tennessee who works and lives in its mountain foothills struggling to reclaim the term Red Neck. He was a student living wage and anti-war activist and now does rank-and-file work and community-labor organizing.

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