Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reflections: History 101

All those who start hurling epithets and talking about "tinfoil hats" as soon as someone suggests a possible conspiracy to explain the how and why of some current event should stop and consider that history--except where it records "acts of God"--is nothing other than a transcript of the enactments and aftermaths of conspiracies, all readily accepted as such when seen as sufficiently distant past events.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rants: My Political Ultimatum

There are two priority issues for me:

1) End the Perpetual War;
2) Single-payer health care.

No politician who does not have these issues at the core of their agenda has any hope of getting my vote. No party that does not have these two issues at the top of its platform has any hope of getting my support. I'm through fucking around. I've had it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Readings: How We Need to View our "Problem" with Refugees & Immigrants

In an essay* written in London in the last months of her too-brief life, Simone Weil presents very concisely in the following brief paragraph why "obligation" must be understood to belong to a higher order than "rights," despite the obsession with the latter that has dominated such Western thought as has come down to us from the Roman Empire: 

"Whoever has his attention and love turned in fact towards that reality outside the world** recognizes at the same time that he is bound, in both public and private life, by the unique and perpetual obligation, according to his responsibilities and to the extent of his power, to alleviate all those privations of the soul and the body capable of destroying or mutilating the earthly life of a human being whoever he may be." [italics added]

*Ercits de Londres et dernieres lettres
**i.e.,  "absolute Goodness" or "God"

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Readings: Classical Greek Thought in The White Rose and Simone Weil

The last two non-fiction works I have recently read (Sophie Scholl & The White Rose by A. Dumbach and J. Newborn, and Simone Weil--Waiting on Truth by J. P. Little) show how both the young German pamphleteers of The White Rose and French philosopher, Simone Weil, turned to classical Greek models in their writings in response to, and against, the Nazi oppression of their respective societies.

In the third of six pamphlets written and distributed by The White Rose before Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and several other members of their inner circle were arrested, tried, and executed by the Nazis in 1943, Aristotle’s Politics, is thus quoted:

“Further…[a tyrant] should also endeavor to know what each of his subjects says or does, and should employ spies everywhere…and further, to create disunity and division in the population to set friend against friend, the common people against the notables, and the wealthy among themselves. Also he should impoverish his subjects; the maintenance of guards and soldiers is thus paid for by the people, who are forced to work hard and have neither the time nor the opportunity to conspire against him…Another practice of tyrants is to increase taxes, after the manner of Dionysius at Syracuse, who contrived that his subjects paid all their wealth into the treasury within five years. The tyrant is also inclined to engage in constant warfare in order to occupy and distract his subjects.”

In his study of the life and thought of Simone Weil, J.P. Little shows how Weil used the writings of Plato to describe the workings of a totalitarian regime:

“[…] Simone Weil turns…to the Greek world, to Plato’s image of society as ‘the Great Beast’…whom his masters (society’s leaders) try to tame by studying his moods and habits.

“[…] The Beast represents for her the elevation of society into an absolute, which is then judged without reference to anything exterior, so that in a very real sense nothing but the collective  exists. This is the characteristic of what Simone Weil calls totalitarianism, and here of course her usage is in line with what we have become accustomed to designate by that term. The Beast represents the totality of collective values and the destruction of the individual. Its main concern is existence, and since the existence of anything else is intolerable to it, its own existence involves infinite expansion, a total hold over the lives of its subjects.”

As it was in ancient Greece, so it was in World War II-era Europe; and as it is again (or still) now.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Reflections: What It Will Take for Us to Repair the Damage

Although there are still 40-some pages of appendices to be read, I have just now finished reading the main text of Sophie Scholl & The White Rose. I want here to share this emotionally stirring book's closing paragraph:

"The impact of the White Rose cannot be measured in tyrants destroyed, regimes overthrown, justice restored. A scale with another dimension is needed, and then their significance is deeper; it goes even beyond the Third Reich, beyond Germany: if people like those who formed the White Rose can exist, believe as they believed, act as they acted, maybe it means that this weary, corrupted, and extremely endangered species we belong to has a right to survive, and to keep on trying."

That's a big "maybe" -- but it's all we've got.

I find myself in love with a German girl who died four years before I was born.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Reflections: Yeah, sure...

The two most dismissive words currently in vogue:  "Get help."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Reflections: Who Was It That Died?

I'm like a ghost, haunting my own space.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Rants: It's the DNC, Stupid!

Wouldn't we do better to worry about the fact that those damning emails were written and sent in the first place, rather than obsessing over the possibility that it was Russian hackers who made them public?
I've seen no claim that the emails released were not genuine. So the disgusting attitudes and disgraceful behavior of the top DNC operatives revealed by those emails WAS genuine. That's what should worry American citizens who desire an honest election process and resulting representative government.
Fuck a bunch of Russians. It's corrupt Americans that I want to see purged from the system. They're in the toilet--let's flush it!