A Family at War

10 Jul
 On the bucolic Waccamaw River the Union gunboat trawled slowly upstream passing miles of rice fields, most with poorly maintained workings and piers. The drowsy crew of raw recruits were mainly New England boys wilting under the South Carolina low country heat.
    
 At the bridge Captain Ellis muttered, “I would like to put a ball through the roof.”, nodding towards a sprawling plantation house they were passing.” That old doctor that owns it has two sons in the Reb army.”
    
 If the Captain had been able to see beyond the mansion to the slave quarters his cannon would have been firing repeatedly. That old doctor being referenced was the owner of at least two thriving rice and indigo plantations along the river.  He was known locally as the most notorious abuser of his hundreds of slaves.  Column inches in newspapers and in broad sheets advertised constantly for information of, and rewards for, runaways. His farms had the dubious distinction of constant slave exitings that had only increased during the chaotic wartime atmosphere.
     As the war dragged on live stock on the plantations was in shorter supply every day. Horses and mules were conscripted into military service until few were left behind.  For the task at hand the two remaining draft horses and two coach animals were sufficient.  
    Big Sam was a constant runaway and had been recently returned by the slave catchers. The tendon on his right heel had been severed in the past as punishment for running but did little to quell his desire for freedom. The other residents of the bleak slave quarters were summoned to witness the punishment designed to make a graphic example of poor Sam who now lay on his back quaking in terror.
     The onlookers had witnessed punishments repeatedly in the past. This was different. They gasped and cried out as the spectacle unfolded.  A dappled gray plow horse was led into place and Sam’s right leg with the dangling foot was secured with a stout rope to the horse.  His other  limbs were swiftly secured in a like fashion, each to a horse. The doctor looked ashen as his driver finished the last knot and snarled at the onlookers, “Next one of you leaves here it’ll be in pieces!” A single stroke on the rump was sufficient to have all four horses bolt forward wildly.
      As the last car cleared the railroad trestle the battered engine creaked to a stop and a contingent of nervous soldiers piled out. They constantly glanced westward over the narrow river as they gathered piles of brush and with several gallons of precious coal oil kindled a hearty blaze that began to engulf the trestle pilings.  In a few hours thirty feet of the railroad bridge collapsed into a pile of carbonized rubble and twisted tracks. Shouts and a few ineffective shots erupted from the opposite shore as a party of Union calvary arrived too late to intercept the train.
“Let’s see if Sherman’s blue bellies kin walk on water!’, shouted a rebel sergeant, with a defiant gesture as the train began to inch forward.    
      Aboard the train, another old man was engaged in a different task. While his cousin the doctor was invoking grotesque discipline back on his Waccamaw plantation, this man took a deep breath and sighed. The narrow escape from the pursuers assured his mission would likely be accomplished.  Aboard the barely serviceable steam train his sad cargo, at least the ones in a position to observe the action at the bridge, had other feelings.
      He was a Confederate Surgeon charged with transporting a thousand Union prisoners from the hell of Andersonville military prison to a more secure prison before Sherman’s forces could free them.   
     The Surgeon had been on active duty since early in the war. His latest posting to the Andersonville stockade was the most stressful and demoralizing experience of his long medical career.  Having performed numerous operations and emergency treatments after major battles, the hopeless conditions he had experienced in the stockade had added to his own personal infirmities.  As grim as battle hospital conditions were in this war, as well as those he remembered from the Seminole War, Andersonville was countless factors worse in terms of death and disease and dispair.    
     The young Colonel languished in his tent alternately freezing and sweating from the ravages of another Malarial attack.  The phantom pain was at him again in the stump at the shoulder of his missing right arm. The regiment was proceeding across north Florida to join up with the main army in Georgia that would then continue on to North Carolina.
      An earlier malarial seizure had prevented him from seeing the Surgeon, his father, at the battle of Ocean Pond in Florida. He had long regretted not being appointed to the post at Andersonville now held by Captain Henry Wurz.  It would have been a last chance to have seen his father. 
   
       Albert was almost twelve.  A tall, slim, heavily tanned lad, he was reluctant to mingle with others of his age in the small Hudson River village where he now found himself after a harrowing trip through enemy lines with his mother and the younger children.  His heavy southern accent was a burden as the war was still being waged.
      When pressed by his peers he would solemnly state; “Pap, died in a Yankee prison camp”. This became a mantra to hold the most vicious reb haters at bay.  The dying part was true but then, his  ‘Pap’ was an officer at the camp for Union prisoners in South Carolina where he had delivered his charges and soon after perished of prison diseases.
     The family had been refugees since Atlanta fell to the Union forces. His older step-brother, the Colonel, commanded a regiment and was on active duty until losing an arm at the battle of Sharpesville, called Antietam in the North.  After a period in the Invalid Corp during which he tried unsuccessfully to get the post at the prison camp being established near Andersonville, Ga. 
      Apparently, the powers in Richmond were not interested in posting an officer who was married to a northern woman and who’s deceased mother was also from the North. They ignored the fact that the Colonel was a graduate of the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel. That he had distinguished himself in the War with Mexico as Quartermaster of the 3rd Dragoons. Who, since that war ended, had organized the Police Force of Savannah Georgia and the Mounted Police of Charleston, SC., and was commandant of the Georgia Military Institute prior to the outbreak of the war. They preferred a non-entity who could be molded to their use.
     The Colonel was fortunate to have been passed over for that posting considering the fate, on the gallows, of Captain Henry Wurz who did get the job.
    
      Margaret had endured with equanimity the loss of her home near Atlanta and the refugee status of herself and her young ones. A few months of relative normalcy with relatives near Athens, Ga. were interrupted by the arrival of horsemen at the farm home. 
     This band of Sherman’s ‘bummers’ were confronted on the front porch by an angry women who turned out to be a fellow northerner.  They demanded all weapons on the premises. She presented a small quail gun owned by her step-son and pleaded for its return. “Naw,'”said a trooper, “This could kill a Yankee as easy as a bird.” With that he smashed the small gun into pieces.
    
     The looters discovered the one remaining horse that Albert and an old slave, Daddy Tate, had secreted in a cane break.  They stormed into the barn and strewed about and spoiled all the corn  and provisions the family was depending on for survival. Margaret was desperately trying to salvage what she could of the provisions when a messenger arrived. 
    
      A few elderly men, her children and female relatives, along with old Daddy Tate, saw the Surgeon interred in a quiet ceremony near the University of Georgia. Margaret had not seen her husband in many months and quietly told the children their father died of the same illnesses he was trying to ease in others.  Her resolve quickened at that point to petition General Sherman, still in the vicinity, for safe conduct to her childhood home among the Hudson River Dutch in New York. 
     
      A laborious trip to one military camp in South Georgia was a waste of time, provisions and firewood as that stockage was already bulging with Union prisoners.  The Surgeon was advised to continue north to Florence, South Carolina where a prison camp was expanding.  Acquiring food for all those emaciated prisoners, many of whom were subsisting on nothing heavier than thin gruel, plus potable water in sufficient quantity, all of this compounded by the absence of good sanitary facilities made the journey daunting.  After an agonizingly slow passage, complete with firewood and boiler water shortages, Charleston was in sight.  The stockade at Florence would be reached and the prisoners landed. The harrowing trip caused the Surgeon to go into rapid decline and he soon perished from the same prison diseases that felled so many others.  .
     “There were piles this high.” Albert indicated with his arms at chest level. “Legs, arms, feet, I dunno what all. And the blood… everywhere!”  His status amonst his  local peers improved greatly having actually witnessed the war.  This survival mechanism would help the boy live, uneasily, in enemy territory as an intruder from the hated seccessionist South.
“Me and old Daddy Tate,” (no mention of Tate’s slave status) ” found this real fine cavalry hoss with a saber slash on him.  We fixed him up good and were ready to plow him when the looters got him.”  No mention that the looters were from General Sherman’s command.
     Albert’s defensive use of historical facts and perhaps necessary distortions of truth would remain part of his psychic inventory unto his advanced years.  His  descendents would
come to know family history through a prism which bent the facts to Albert’s boyhood distortions..
     The Emancipation Proclamation teamed with several Union gunboats in the region caused a mass exodus of slaves from the plantations.  The doctor confined himself to his medical practice in Charleston and the farms were idle.  It was not until after the cessation of hostilities that his returning sons attempted to restart rice farming.  Two growing seasons with reluctant hired help and poor crops that came in grassy was sufficient to throw the lot into bankruptcy and the properties were lost to the family.
After his surrender along with Johnson’s Army of Tennessee to Sherman in North Carolina the Colonel rejoined his family and in time located to Jacksonville, FL.  He was simultaneously a Justice of the Peace, Inspector of Fertilizers (in Florida that meant phosphate mining) and had orange groves south of the city at Fruit Cove on the St. John’s River. Conditions in north Florida were much warmer then and citrus growing had thrived for years.  The weather changed permanently, however, and in 1895 all the trees were killed by frost. 
Albert’s lifetime saga of having pestered his father to please, please take me with you was possibly true. But whether or not the Surgeon actually took the boy to a battlefield hospital is unknown. His graphic tales of seeing all the severed limbs and oceans of blood did have a profound effect on his descendents for generations. Few became physicians. 

 

A Discrete Patch on the Tush

16 Jun

The discrete patch of bare skin that covers a chimpanzee or a bonobo’s butt has, in humans, morphed to cover us almost totally.  Of course our bare-all-over, not just the tush reality, does have decidedly positive aspects. Being hairless was an enormous leg-up in mastering fire and then with fire we dominated all the fierce beasts, the dark and the cold.  Therein lies a problem. All that erotic display and our tactile epidermal playground helped greatly with increasing our numbers early on but lately the numbers seem threatening to our survival as a species.
 
Mix in roughly six thousand years of progressively worsening behavior on the part of our people and the prospects seem bleak.  Our tribe is blessed with special intelligence, an erotic playground to frolic in and dominance over most of the beastly competition but despite all the advantages, we have become lethal!
 Our behavior is reprehensible. Every passing century is worse than the last in human carnage and destruction.  Each generation develops more sophisticated means of killing each other and an accompanying catechism of why it must be so.  Race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, economic proclivities and geography dominate the liturgy justifying the slaughter.
 
The human cultures that are the most favored by nature and geography are invariably the ones who prey on the others who have less.  There seems to be a gene for this perversity that is dominant in groups that have the most of life’s goodies.  Having a lot seems to preclude sharing and prompt an itch for a lot more.
 
Seven billion of any large demanding animals might give nature reason to consider her future welfare but our seven billion naked apes with big machines, bigger appetites and little regard for her precious bounty might cause nature to deem us expendable.
 
As this phenomenon continues I suspect we will repeat, as the nation continues to fail, the atrocities committed as it grew.  A country as uniquely founded on genocide as ours was starting off, can be expected to repeat this going down.  Ditto chattel slavery again in some yet to be determined form, sectional strife leading to mass murder again and probable armed conflict with our closest neighbors north and south, again. We don’t have a good track record.
 
Most higher species demonstrate a sort of partnership between the sexes. Odds are mankind once possessed this trait. It’s difficult to imagine a million years of successful evolution without benign sharing of some sort.  Something happened about six millennium ago and the partnership model was abandoned.
 
Perhaps the success of agricultural in providing surplus food and an easier life was a factor. Perhaps two or three warlike tribes tipped the scale towards violence and we are living(sic) with the consequences. A one gender dominant, monolithic approach to life and the future of our kind dominates the entire planet. Are we certain this singular, seemingly short-sighted, very aggressive world vision is even life affirming? Do we risk everything in permitting one gender to be dominant? Will we continue with this perilous course to the end of days? Or…
 
  We have carefully selected jingoes in high places who direct us in the glorious ways of “manufactured consent”. This has been so effective for so many years it is difficult to find any American free of the taint. ” We jes’ cain’t think so good, no more.”  The best among us are rapidly dying off or lurk on the web unable to give voice in major media which is fully corporate and establishment friendly.
 
 As positive energy erodes from our American way of life, the horror show unfolds. The excesses we are currently dealing with such as NSA intrusions designed to spy on us, loss of jobs leading to serfdom for millions and the bloodshed we exact on others abroad and at home, could prove fatal to our existence if they continue.
wikipedia

Dollar Store is Not For You

7 Jun
If more proof is needed that everything is stacked against the poor and under classes in this country consider:

 Dollar stores, the real kind where everything sells for ONE DOLLAR, not the others with Dollar on the sign but prices like Walmart, are never located within reach of lower class neighborhoods! That is a sorry fact in all the areas I’m familiar with.

 
Check around where you live and see if this is not so.  Remember, we’re talking about stores where every item is one dollar or less.
 
Why is this, do you suppose? Well, maybe it’s because the poor don’t have many dollars to spend? But, aha,  the middle classes still have a few so that’s where the stores are. The poor use food stamps at much higher priced outlets, so in effect the government is subsidizing Kroger and Walmart and over-priced neighborhood shops. That’s not the sort of economy shopping the poor desperately need.
 
The irony of this is apparent.  A system that in a real sense prevents the underprivileged from being in close proximity to possible remedy of their status is devastatingly cynical.
Unfortunately, far from being a wilful design this situation is simply the norm.  The investments go where the possibilities are greatest.
 
I live on the West Coast of Florida. Shopping in an actual ONE DOLLAR, dollar store near me, I recently purchased the following:
1. Electric Toothbrush. Battery operated. Equal to one I own which cost about twenty dollars.
2. Stainless Steel two blade pocket knife w/ corkscrew, nail file and bottle opener. Elsewhere:
    Seven to twelve dollars.
3. Two foot extension device for picking up objects remotely. Elsewhere: four to fifteen dollars.
 
I gleefully parted with a buck for each of those treasures.
 
All of these items originated in Asia. They were transported somehow to a port in British Columbia, Canada. Thence by some, unfathomable to me route, made their way to sunny Florida. In all these thousands of miles of freighted travel they gained not one cent in price! Still a buck.
 
Customers I’ve observed in these stores don’t appear to be shopping there as a last resort. All those I’ve seen appear to be folks who one would not be surprised to accost in any major shopping mall. The demographic of the store locations is heavily tilted to the middle part of the economic spectrum and away from the needy lower part. This results in mostly middle income patronage of these shops for the bargain prices.
 
I’m reminded of this quote by historian Brooks Adams:
 
 “All civilization is centralization. All centralization is economy. Under economical centralization, Asia is cheaper than Europe. The world tends toward economic centralization. Therefore Asia tends to survive and Europe to fail.”
 
and this too,
 
“Ultimately, that is why we were in Vietnam”
Gore Vidal
 
Again, the irony.  Even with Asia cranking out goods that could improve the lives of the poorest among us, our system works to keep them from the very assistance this affordable largesse could provide. If Brooks Adams were writing that quote today, America would likely be cited for tending towards failure along with Europe. The die is cast?
 
 
 

Infantilization anyone?/

18 May
O Tempore, O mores

 

We live in interesting times. Consider:
 
*Middle age women fancy teenage boys
*Young woman and girls covet the Barbie Doll look. All top, no bottom.
*Grown men fancy toddlers.
*Priests fancy young boys; seldom young girls or women.
*Mohels and Rabbis render the first blow job. Sometimes favor the honoree with herpes.
*Any young person with computer savvy has unlimited access to graphic adult pornography. A single touch to a classmate, however, can be a police issue.
 
**The penalty for conviction any of the above is a lifetime of civic ostracization as Sexual Predator without chance of commutation and a half-mile separation from all temptation despite the circumstance.
 
“Specific laws against piracy, slavery, infanticide, sedition and ground and air pollution and smoking reveal the antisocial activities likely to attract a reckless, greedy, frightened, mentally disturbed, or merely weak man or women of a specific era.  Until the modern, post industrial era, there have been very few laws against pedophilia”. Russell Banks. “Lost Memories of Skin”
O Tempore, O Mores
 
To visit a similar era we travel back to another failing Empire and observe the mores extant in old Rome.  In the first century BCE, on the island of Capri, Emperor Tiberius, out of favor in Rome and skulking in luxury until things cooled off, reveled as hordes of naked kiddies awaited his pleasure.
 
Women and girls, some men as well, emulated their version of Barbie by defoliating and depilating rigorously all those signs of maturity below the toga belt line.
 
Many posh villas featured graphic mural depictions of pornography of all sorts as wall paper.
 
Roman men made love to boys and other men but only to slaves and inferiors.
 
Perhaps what is astir now is, as it was then in old Rome, an unconscious flight from bleak reality into the envied bliss of the infant. Infantilization by large segments of society as reaction to sensed imminent collapse may be what is presenting now. The history of other failing states could be helpful to us now but the mendacity of the ruling classes prevent a realistic discussion of our future and dooms us to unconsciously covet or mimic the innocence of childhood as we slide past viability as a culture.

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The War on Sanity/

16 May

 

USA vs Reason
 
 
Noam Chomsky,” We must bear in mind that the US is a very fundamentalist society, perhaps more than any other society in the world – even more fundamentalist than Saudi Arabia or the Taliban. That’s very surprising.”
 
 (Early in the Twentieth Century  fledgling Divines and the Dons at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey brought forth the concept of Fundamentalism. The creators were ambitious and zealous: to defend orthodox Protestant Christianity against the perceived threat of Darwinism and liberal theology.)
 
 “Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the U.S., in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” – Woodrow Wilson, from his book entitled The New Freedom (1913).
 
 Americans began to think seriously with Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth century but we gave it up and the meme died young. Since that era fifteen or sixteen decades of philosophical dark ages have been endured. Generations of charismatics, behaviorists, pragmatists and tinkers with serious thought have appeared and faded out. Jung and Freud sailed here together a hundred years ago with bad news for us yokels about the Nation’s soul and sailed away with even more misgivings. Jung waxed at length about the ‘American Complex’ that defied proscription. It defies still.
 
 Witch hunts in 1650 were echoed again in 1950 with more of the same intent; routing out of dissent and apostasy. America had become a fertile arena for bizarre sects featuring plural marriage, celibacy, co-opted psychoanalysis or witnessing and proselytizing. Many communities flourished, for the most part briefly, during outbursts of religious fervor called ‘awakenings’ or in times like the 1960’s, of social strife. Today eight out of ten Americans say they believe in angels. UFO’s anyone?
 
 Drums of War
* 1947.  National Security State Established. “Scare the hell out of them”. Sen. Vandenberg to  Truman. Decades of warlike rhetoric and ‘manufactured consent’ ensued. Each succeeding generation less equipped to think beyond the national charade than the last.
 
 War Department renamed Department of Defensive.  Massive buildup of aggressive military begins. Hundreds of overseas military bases established. Fewer and fewer questions asked.
 
 “The Russians are Coming was the cry.  Never mind they were a second rate power; lost 20 million people defeating the Nazi armies. An enemy was needed and one was produced. We believed that at any moment H-Bombs would fall on us.
AND they wanted to take away our money! So another Red Scare shook the folks. Communists!
All around. In our schools and universities. In Hollywood. State Department. Everywhere! In the Army. Oops…big mistake. Wrong target…our heroes.  Okay. It’s over. For now. Until we need them again, those *^&#@ Commies.
 
 Got a great replacement for the Reds. Yeah.  Even better. Terror. Can’t miss with this one. Could be anyone, anything, anywhere. Neat.  Start writing those DOD checks. Bonanza!
American psychologists involved in torture of terrorist suspects.  Science uber alles.
 
 A vast section of the American public cherry picks science.   It’s okay to ride around in space ships or split atoms to boil water or feed antibiotics to the chickens but whoa! … watch those soft sciences. Biology, fuggedabout it.  No monkeys in my family.  Anthropology, nix. Ditto carbon-dating, global warming, NDA testing, psychology and sociology, they’re all taboo.  Bible stories, now you’re talking!
 
2 einstein
 Sorties
Revolution in Cuba.  What’s this? The guy with the beard taking our stuff. And the mob’s stuff. So what if he gave up his own family’s estates, he’s another *&^#@ Commie. Off to the Everglades! Train some fighters. Get some boats and go down there and shoot things up. We can’t seem to kill the beard so we’ll invade. Sort of. Uh…oh.
 
 Cuba Again, again. Missiles, from those Russkies. What to do?  WWlll, nah. Well, maybe. If they don’t take them back. What if we do have missiles all around the Soviet Union, we’re special. See
 
 Skirmishes
* Gaddafi hanging in Chad, scooping up uranium? Ronnie says, “Okay, Libya. Bombs away”.
* Grenada:  Communists again! Cuban workers seen on the island. Reagan freaks out. Invasion.
* Panama: Noriega, former US asset loses favor; country invaded, asset in prison.
 *Bill Clinton bombs Sudan. Many aspirins destroyed.
* Clinton again. Bombs Kosovo. Can’t permit a successful socialist state to exist. No way.
 
 Battles
* 1950/1953  Commies again! Jet planes and tanks clash in Korea.  Major War. We call it  a “Police Action”. China and Russia get involved. TRUCE.
 
* 1990/2015  The incursions in Middle-East are primarily Police Actions but we call it ” War”.  Rowdy bunch there, so we leave. Come back. Leave?
 
* 1990  Iraq lured into invading Kuwait. Iraq invaded.
 
* 2001 Nineteen jihadists, most from Saudi Arabia attack US. Afganistan invaded. Oh, everybody does that. For the poppies, you know. Take a number. Wait your turn.
 
 Armagddon
Now we’re broke. Owe everybody on earth. What happened? Had the best system ever seen. Made tons of money. But those foreigners wanted more…they wanted our gold instead of our beautiful greenbacks. What gall! We fixed them. Instead of gold you now get the”full faith and credit of the United States government”.  That shut them up from ’72 to ’86, alas, that’s when we became a debtor nation. Now we can’t get a moments’ peace. Money, money, money. There’s no money. What to do? Credit. Lots of it. That’s it. Print more money! Charge it. The kids will pay. Right? Sure.

[ Safe Inside the Establishment Vivarium ] or/

20 Apr
Why The Extreme Center Cannot Hold

 

“We have seen the development of a form of government I call the extreme centre, which currently rules over large tracts of Europe and includes left, centre left, centre right and centre parties.”  (Tariq Ali, writer, journalist, filmmaker.)
 
Although Ali bemoans this situation throughout Europe, it behooves Americans to insist upon ownership and originality. We invented it: we live it, perhaps we have exported it abroad but above all, it’s part of our “exceptionalism”.  Give us our due! “Engineering consent” was born here and morphed into “manufacturing consent”, the matured production of a century of effort. We must not be denied our handiwork.
 
It is now embedded in our very DNA. The last time there was even a slight lapse was during those awful sixties. You remember: sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Tune in and drop out.  Off the pigs! Love Ins. Black Panthers. Weathermen.  Well, that’s all gone for good. We have our ways of dealing and they work. Left wing-nuts, peace liberals, “Nelson Rockefeller” conservatives, and old style mugwumps are now safely maintained within the Establishment Vivarium.
 
Establishment; (ecology) the process by which a plant or animal becomes established in a new habitat.
Vivarium; (Zoology) a place where live animals are kept under natural conditions for study, research, etc.  The Free Dictionary
 
Within this virtual vivarium the inhabitants embrace fondly the extreme centre.  In the following Tariq Ali references Europeans, but substituting Americans is easily warranted:
 
” A whole swathe of the electorate, young people in particular, feels that voting makes no difference at all, given the political parties we have. The extreme centre wages wars, either on its own account or on behalf of the United States; it backs austerity measures; it defends surveillance as absolutely necessary to defeat terrorism, without ever asking why this terrorism is happening – to question this is almost to be a terrorist
oneself. “
 
A byproduct of that busy century of  engineering and manufacturing consent is the corruption of language that accompanied a synchronized effort to sell soap and ideas with the same tools. An early casualty: the word war: as in war on poverty, drugs, cancer and the latest victim, war on terror.
 orwellOrwell
Where did that last one come from? Not from history, apparently.  We considered our Indian foes as warriors. We fought the Red Coats from behind trees as militias or irregulars.  Campaigned against guerilla fighters in this Continent and elsewhere.  Now any perceived enemy, anywhere, even at home is a terrorist. A meaningless, catch-all phrase.  Tagging a shoe bomber as equal to an army in uniform, with a flag, representing a State such as ISIS, is nonsense. We’re still trying to tag the Russian Federation with that amorphous label.
 
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” George Orwell.
 
And that is why the Orwellian concept ‘double speak’ has settled in our fair land. Losing or relinquishing precise meanings of words renders clear thinking impossible. If a conversation or dialogue, at best difficult to successfully accomplish, has a corrupt element in language, all meaning is suspect. Laws, treaties and contracts and intentions are subject to suspicion.
 
Here again Tariq Ali focuses on the conduct of various governments as proponents of extreme centre activities and attitudes.: 
” Why do the terrorists do it? Are they unhinged? Is it something that emerges from deep inside their religion? These questions are counterproductive and useless. If you ask whether American imperial policy or British or French foreign policy is in any way responsible, you’re attacked. But of course the intelligence agencies and security services know perfectly well that the reason for people going crazy – and it is a form of craziness – is that they are driven not by religion but by what they see.”
 
 These clandestine operators are quite skilled in keeping us from understanding what the others see and perhaps doing something about it.  What may be overlooked is that to a degree all of the above players are democracies, at least in form.  So their policies must be at least token representation of the various peoples’ tacit approval.
 
Can we expect anything different to arise from such a base? Is this not the essence of what “consent of the governed ” professes to mean? Have not the governments gotten their fondest wishes by manufacturing that consent?  Have we not created the very people who now huddle for safety in the bosom of the extreme centre but are perhaps incapable of understanding the price they have paid to embrace that centre? 

 

The Little Cult That Could…

9 Apr
 (Apologies to Watty Piper. ‘The Little Engine That Could’)
 
After the birth of the new Judaic messianic/resurrection cult, a faithful band of zealots and seekers languished in the desert for decades until a stroke (un-stroke?) of genius courtesy of Saul of Tarsus. In a flash of insight or bad nerves on a desert road, Saul discerned what was needed for recruitment beyond the believing few was to eliminate male circumcision as a requirement for membership. The movement speedily metastasized.

 
With the removal of this hurdle all sorts of pagans, barbarians and converts are gathered into the flock. Even a few… (whisper) females.
 
I think I can – I think I can –  I think I can – I think I can puffed Saul, now called Paul, as he thundered about the countryside with his pious little engine called ‘The Proselytizer’.  As Paul, his zeal for the new sect ablaze; his former orthodoxy and persecution of those filthy apostates abandoned, he rides the crest of his new found cause.
2 paul 
“I am a very important engine indeed. I won’t carry the likes of you!” cried the Apostle.  Summarily dismissed from the pilgrim train were women who refused to submit to the authority of their husbands.
 
Along with the other acolytes Paul spread the word from city to city throughout the Hellenized portion of the Roman Empire as far as Eastern Africa and South Asia. By the end of the first century over forty church communities were established as distant as Italy, Greece and India.
 

In an historical blink of an eye, actually in 392 AD,  Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. I thought I could! I thought I could! I thought I Could! I thought I Could!

In the seventh century another group of descendents of Abraham wrote large on the desert sands. These fellow travelers look to Genesis and Ishmael, his oldest son for kinship. Islam views the others as “People of the Book” but insist on following the ancient founder in his surgical requirement for membership, unlike Saul’s carnal apostasy.

The folks were thriving and prospering steadily but one day in 1054 there was a spiritual train wreck. Things came apart and remain that way still. The Church of Rome and the Eastern Church were rent asunder by power struggles and the role of the Pope.

The Little Cult That Could blossomed in time into a universal phenomenon with millions of faithful as did the other; the followers of the Prophet.  Alas, in less then five decades another spiritual derailing.  The First Crusade. This was followed by two hundred years of on and off slaughter attempting to gain sovereignty in the Holy Land.

Almost a millennium fast forward.  The Sons Of Isaac are ensorcelled in the Holy Land doing a year round Masada Pageant.  The Sons Of Ishmael are at each others throats again, all over the place. Legions of understudies wait quietly in the wings for the principals to fail. Hushed strains in the far background whisper I really thought I could-I really thought I could- I really thought I could…I

End


 

 

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