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Every dog has his day

10 May 2010

Peruvian neo-liberal economist Hernando de Soto once made a quasi-serious suggestion that in places where people traditionally lived communally, or where there were unclear property lines, the point at which a roof dog starts barking at strangers could be used to define the owner’s property lines.  From his academic perch De Sota was coming up with ways to force people to join the neo-liberal world of private ownership, land as a commodity to be bought and sold, and living at the mercy of credit and banks and become connected to the world financial order… whether they wanted to or not.  Whether it’s a good idea is another discussion, but it did start me thinking about dogs and politics.   At least Mexican dogs and politics.

Looking down on us from above, and obsessed with their own narrow sphere of existence, are roof dogs — fearful or contemptuous of the world around them —   of course, these are the conservatives: PANista pooches.

House dogs, who move in a wider sphere, take an interest in the doings of the world but are beholden to one master … and, whatever the faults that master has, are doggedly loyal.  While the patron may trust his clients (the house dogs) to explore a bit of the outside world, and interact with the rest of doggie-dom, and even slip off their leash when they go out to check the pee-mail, the patron — and the house dogs — fully expect to be watched.  They like the security and regularity of life.  Good PRI-pups.

And then there are the street dogs.  They may have people to whom they give loyalty, but expect that loyalty to be reciprocated.  Some work as free-lance security guards and taco testers, or companions (Canello, a street dog in my old neighborhood, breakfasted outside the local school, spent his afternoons keeping the news vendor company and slept in the corner  pharmacy at night in return for occasional barking to chase off would be burglars) and others are satisfied to spend their days in solidarity with the pack.  The street dog may have loyalties beyond one master… and divided loyalties, including that to his pack…  Perrodistas and Petistas, every one of ’em.

That the street dogs are with the underdogs is not  — it appears — uniquely Mexican.   Kanellos, the Rebel-Dog of Athens (or is it Rebel-dogs?), is not just in the tradition of street dogs… but of the Greeks and of democracy itself.  Let’s remember how Democracy got started.  The rulers tried to screw the ruled … literally.  In 514 B.C., Athens was ruled by the tyrants, Hippias and Hipparchus.  Hipparchus tried to boink working class Harmodius.  Harmodius’ upscale boyfriend, Aristogeiton fought back and organized street demonstrations…  ok, riots… killed  Hippias and Hipparchus and ushered  in the first Democracy.

The screwing over right now is more metaphorical… looking down from the roof are the Central Banks, and the International Monetary Fund which have their own narrow view of the world and their own turf to protect.  The Greeks are a little too close to the house, and need to be barked at… and… if it comes to it, bitten.  Never mind that it was their own financial miscalculations proved wrong, that hasn’t left the Greeks a bone to gnaw on, and is leaving them to for the scraps.  The same thing’s been done to Latin America , and elsewhere time and time again.

The well-fed roof dogs are barking that their house in under attack.  The house dogs are clawing at the windows.  And the street dogs… democracy is ruffffff!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ο Λύκος της Στέππας permalink
    10 May 2010 6:55 am

    Actually this is not Kanellos, this is a heir. Kanellos died a couple of year back. There’s even a song about him by a greek songwriter Stelios Drogosis, with a chorus that goes like: ‘this is a song for Kanellos the dog/that bit me, but I understand him/he suggested passionately/that I lived my life the wrong way’. It actually rhymes in Greek. The footage is Kanellos and co.

  2. 10 May 2010 10:28 am

    A true Greek hero: the apotheosis of Kanellos 🙂

  3. Ο Λύκος της Στέππας permalink
    10 May 2010 11:03 am

    A couple of corrections: “a couple of years”, and the name of the songwriter/singer is in fact Stathis.

    ‘Apotheosis’ it is 😉

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