I wrote a few days ago about “Liberation Day” and the debt that has been formed because of it, and how that debt has come to take over so much of Chamorro history and consciousness. It has trapped the Chamorro in a particular context, in a particular relationship to the United States and therefore has forged a rude and taihinasso disconnect from the rest of the world. The debt creates intense and violent feelings of guilt. It structures your relations, within and without. If you move towards that structure, accept it and live within it, the guilt lessens, but you lose yourself in the process. If you try to emerge from it, to leave it behind, it stretches your subjectivity and gives the feeling of being ideologically torn apart. It is no wonder that Chamorros become so obsessed with patriotism, appearing patriotic and not appearing to be unpatriotic, even to the point of celebrating empty and almost mocking holidays such as “Independence Day” every July. Even if it makes no sense, even if it requires giving up everything, selling yourself off, there is still a soothing, that you are following the rules of your debt, you accept its power over you, that you must remain loyal to it, even to the point of ridiculousness, even to the point of your own evaporation and masumai-mu. If we think about the way in which the feeling of indebtedness to the United States pushed Chamorros to strip away so much of themselves, to give things up, their connection to the land, their language, we can see how dangerous that weight has been.
I am thinking of this today because I have long felt it is ludicrous for Chamorros to celebrate Independence Day, but also because of this passage below, from a recent issue of Adbusters:
Debt controls you.
If you finish university in debt, your must accept the first paid position offered in order to honor your debt.
If you bought an apartment with a mortgage, you must be sure not to lose your job or take a vacation or a study leave from work.
The effect of debt, like that of the work ethic, is to keep your nose to the grindstone.
Whereas the work ethic is born within the subject, debt begins as an external constraint but soon worms its way inside.
Debt wields a moral power whose primary weapons are responsibility and guilt, which can quickly become objects of obsession.
You are responsible for your debts and guilt for the difficulties they create in your life.
The indebted is an unhappy consciousness that makes guilt a form of life.
Little by little, the pleasures of activity and creation are transformed into a nightmare for those who do not possess the means to enjoy their lives,
…Life has been sold to the enemy.