Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Manifesto as masterpiece

Not since Thoreau have we had a thinker and writer as lucid and honest as Chris Hedges.  Whoever stops here, please take the time to read the link below.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Truth from a Founding Father

"Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies;  from these proceed debts and taxes;  and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.  In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended;  its influence in dealing out offices,, honors and emoluments is multiplied;  and all the means of seducing the minds,are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.  The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both.  No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare....War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.  In war, a physical force is to be created;  and it is the executive will, which is to direct it.  In war, the public treasuries are to be unlocked;  and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them.  In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied;  and it is the executive brow they are to encircle.  The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."

By James Madison, from "Political Observations," April 20, 1795.

Many of the Founders wrote in opposition to America having a 'standing army.'  This is one of my favorites.  I bet this isn't taught in our schools any more.
Madison sounds like a prophet.  He has described the United States of today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Read any Karl Shapiro lately?

"The entire world has become aware of the pervasiveness of American violence.  The Americans were the last to discover it.  This is as it should be.  A betrayed husband is the last to know his situation.  America is shocked at itself;  someone has handed it a mirror.  Instead of the young and handsome heir of all the ages, with his bathing-beauty consort, winners of Olympic games, we see the soft and rotten killer (almost Hemingway style) with his call-girl WASP girlfriend,wearing a tiny crucifix between her scientifically measured bosoms.  Wars are staged and televised on the battlefield;  all sports are openly and avowedly big business;  all books sell according to the amount of money deposited for advertising;  countries are bought and sold in the stock market like cattle.  Not that any of this is particularly new.  What is new is that it is all now public knowledge.  And what is awesome is that nobody cares.  Everyone wants a share of the rot, the faisandage.  Ours is a gamy culture from top to bottom.  Books about the gaminess are best-sellers." (p 14)

"America is the child society par excellence, and possibly the only one ever politically arrived at.  It is the society of all rights and no obligations, the society of deliberate wreckage and waste, the only society that ever raised gangsterism to the status of myth, and murder to the status of tragedy or politics.  The American adulation of the child mentality leads to an industrialized hedonism, on the one hand, and a chauvinistic psychology of greed, on the other.  In advertising, anyone over the age of twenty-one or twenty-five is portrayed as an idiot who has got behind in the science and commerce of rejuvenation." (p 21)

From the book To Abolish Children and Other Essays, by Karl Shapiro.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wendell Berry on faith

Fearnside: You’re a Christian.

Berry: I’m a subscriber to the Gospels; you could put it that way.

Fearnside: You strike me as being both devout and skeptical; firm in your faith, yet willing to question it. Do you see skepticism as something that nurtures your faith?

Berry: Faith implies skepticism. It implies doubt. Faith is not knowledge. It’s not the result of an empirical study. So I would think that people of faith would always be involved in some kind of maintenance to shore it up. Sometimes it’s easy to have faith, and sometimes it isn’t. Maybe if you’re in a monastery it’s easier, because everything there is established for the purpose of preserving your faith. The world, as it operates today, isn’t made to preserve it.

From Sun magazine interview.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Something to think about

  • Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
  • Chalmers Johnson summarized the intent of Blowback in the final chapter of Nemesis.
    "In Blowback, I set out to explain why we are hated around the world. The concept "blowback" does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to and in foreign countries. It refers to retaliation for the numerous illegal operations we have carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public. This means that when the retaliation comes – as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 – the American public is unable to put the events in context. So they tend to support acts intended to lash out against the perpetrators, thereby most commonly preparing the ground for yet another cycle of blowback. In the first book in this trilogy, I tried to provide some of the historical background for understanding the dilemmas we as a nation confront today, although I focused more on Asia – the area of my academic training – than on the Middle East."[10]

    Obama meets the Pope

    After the meeting between President Obama and the pope, there was a press conference where the President made a distinction between his work as a political leader and the pope's as a moral authority.  "His job is a little more elevated.  We're down on the ground dealing with the often profane, and he's dealing with higher powers."
    Such cheap patronizing.  Such a shallow superficial speaker.  This President, like his predecessor, is an embarassment.