Based on Pagan mythos, Halloween happens today, paralleling the marking of the first day of the winter season in many ancient traditions, while throughout the nations of the world, many people celebrate World Savings Day, and cognizant others commemorate Seven Billions Day, in recognition of the recent expansion of the human population to that number; during a siege of Mecca in the civil wars that followed Mohammad’s death, one thousand three hundred thirty-three years ago, Islam’s holiest temple, the Kaaba, partially burned down; just a year less than twelve decades thereafter, in 802, the reputedly treacherous and scheming queen of Byzantium, Irene, faced banishment to the island of Lesbos; four hundred ninety-nine years prior to the present pass, Martin Luther posted his theses at Wittenberg that in many ways marked the initiation of the Protestant Reformation; seven decades beyond that conjunction, in 1587, other Germans with the general interest of humanity at heart opened the doors of the magnificent Leiden University Library; two hundred twenty-one years back, the male infant who wrote verses as John Keats was born; five and a half decades beyond that, in 1860, another fortuitous entry into our midst took place when the baby girl opened her eyes who would rise as the founder of the Girl Scouts Juliette Gordon Low; a thousand sixty-five days hence past that, in 1863, other Englishmen carried out a more nefarious operation in instigating war against indigenous New Zealanders, during the Invasion of the Waikato and the inception of the Maori Wars; a single cycle of the sun further in the direction of today, in 1864, a different sort of birth took place with the entry of Nevada as the thirty-sixth U.S. State; fifteen years more in the direction of today, in 1879, the General who encouraged women to follow his soldiers and provide services Joseph Hooker took a final breath before he exited; a dozen years subsequently, in 1891, a different sort of all-American passage unfolded in the coal fields of East Tennessee when plundering plutocratic mineowners received their comeuppance from miners who surrounded leased-convict strikebreakers, freed some, and sent the remainder on trains from Knoxville from whence they’d come; twenty-two years even nearer to the here-and-now, in 1913, the first transcontinental highway paved for automobiles opened, and a bitter strike afflicted Indianapolis’s street car business, followed by riots; a full nine yaers afterward, in 1922, across the wide Atlantic and through a portion of the Mediterranean, Benito Mussolini ushered in the fascist epoch, which some mot altogether insane observers would indicate is still ongoing when he managed through skullduggery to have himself appointed Prime Minister of Italy; a four-year dance forward in time from that conjunction, in 1926, back in the United States, Harry Houdini suffered one of the grotesque insults of pre-modern medicine after his appendix had
burst, dying in agony of gangrene and peritonitis; half a decade precisely past that tragic misfortune, in 1931, across the continent in the vicinity of Seattle, benighted and oppressed workers and unemployed people inaugurated a movement to ‘occupy Seattle,’ constructing the country’s first ‘Hooverville’ that eventually housed as many as 1,000 homeless citizens, and the child who grew up to become broadcast journalist Dan Rather came into the world Southwest of Houston; six years yet later on, in 1937, the baby boy who would write and sing as Tom Paxton was born; an additional year on time’s relentless march, in 1938, the fiscal and financial powers-that-be sought to bolster sagging stock prices nine years after Black Friday by instituting reforms that would make ‘investing’ more transparent and reliable; three years past that vain exercise, in 1941, sculptors completed their monumental work at Mt. Rushmore; just a tiny bit less then nine years subsequent to that monumental moment, in 1950, the baby girl who grew up to write as journalist Jane Pauley was born; five years even closer to the current context, the female infant who matured into writer Susan Orlean came into the world; another full circle of the sun past that, in 1956, England and France began bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal; eleven years henceforth, in 1967, the male child shouted out who would mature as the thinker and rapper and producer Vanilla Ice; another year later still, in 1968, in an ‘October Surprise’ immediately prior to Presidential elections, Lyndon Johnson announced pending breakthroughs in negotiations with the North Vietnamese, and a cessation of U.S. bombing as of November first; sixteen years still more proximate to the present pass, in 1984, Indira Gandhi died at the hands of assassins who were members of the Sikh minority in India; a thousand four hundred sixty-one days further down the pike, in 1988, noted producer, performer, and creator of films scripts John Houseman shot his final frame; another five years in the future from that juncture, in 1993, acclaimed Italian screenwriter and director Federico Fellini died; seven years more along the temporal arc, in 2000, a Russian space launch sent the first crew to the International Space Station, which has operated under human oversight ever since, and well-respected writer and humorist Ring Lardner passed away; another year toward today’s light and air, in 2001, ‘terrorists’ succeeded in bringing about the death from anthrax of two postal workers, after exposing several other innocent victims to the deadly spores via mailed samples of the pathogen that originated at the army’s biological warfare facility in Maryland; an additional year onward and upward in 2002, the United States indicted a single former Enron employee for the fraud and racketeering that afflicted much of the capitalist system and definitely destroyed whatever value existed in the energy giant
itself; another three hundred sixty-five days further along, in 2003, estimable establishment historian Richard Neustadt died; five years after that terminal passage, in 2008, beloved documentarian and author Studs Terkel lived out his final scene; three years afterward, and five years back, in 2011, the world’s seven billionth human was born.
MAN-BOOKER PRIZE TO AN AMERICAN FOR TOUR-DE-FORCE http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/business/media/paul-beatty-wins-man-booker-prize-with-the-sellout.html
An incisive briefing from the Times about the unprecedented, not to mention unanimous, Man-Booker Prize win by Paul Beatty for his skewering indictment of ‘race relations’ in The Sellout, a first-time American instance of garnering the award, and for an obviously brilliant and yet nonetheless challenging narrative at that, an eventuality that today’s edition of The Conversation examined in terms of the impacts of celebrity success on scribes and how Beatty might have the temperament to weather such storms inasmuch as he’s aware of their lurking presence, advice and counsel that, should they be so lucky, scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens might put to good use.
This Day in History
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, today is a moment to remember a Day of the Establishment of an Independent Czecho-Slovak State, and all over the globe is also International Animation Day; duringthe Battle of Milvian Bridge, seventeen hundred and four years back, the emperor Constantine’s armies defeated Maxentius, thus becoming the sole Roman emperor of the West; one hundred forty-four years after that illustrious moment in time, in 456, the Visigoths brutally sacked the Suebi’s capital of what is now known as Portugal; MORE HERE
A Thought for the Day
While every language, unavoidably and by the nature of its operation as a way of representing an underlying existence, depends on figurative speech, elliptical suggestions of reality that evoke in listeners and users what the actual meaning is that words hope to convey, perhaps no tongue so boldly and bounteously embodies as does the Bard’s the idea that “the key to English is metaphor, calling things what they are not in order to depict or understand what they are,” a pattern that extends to the very roots of words themselves, where for example prefixes that speak to space purvey terms about movement and energy, and sentences and paragraphs and passages follow threads that their creators seem to have woven from a single fabric that the cosmos itself, rather than linguistic construction, has stitched together in a warp and woof as natural as the eruption of volcanoes or the passage of the spheres through all the distances that yield all the happenstances of all that is, the ultimate subject matter for all that we would spin into yarn about the world and our place in it.
Quote of the Day
Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence. Abigail Adams
Doc of the Day
“I AM indebted to many friends — old and new British, American and Mexican — for their abundant kindness to me in London, New York, Washington and Mexico. They provided me with a sequence of delightful introductions, entertained me in their homes, helped plan my journeys, talked to me very freely of their particular problems; but this is an occasion, I believe, where gratitude is best expressed by silence. The appearance of their names here could only be an embarrassment to them. I formed my opinions in their company, but none of them will agree with all I have written, some of them with none of it. It would be idle to pretend that a visit to Mexico, at the present moment, can be wholly agreeable; MORE HERE from Evelyn Waugh, Robbery Under Law: The Mexican Object Lesson
cfr OR "council on foreign relations" OR "bilderberg group" OR davos "monopoly media" OR "corporate media" control OR "interlocking directorates" manipulation OR propaganda OR "half truth" OR "hidden agendas" "public relations" OR "manufacturing consent" bernays OR "father of PR" = 4,710 Linkages.
A POPULAR THINKER, ACTIVIST, & GRASSROOTS POLITICIAN
In relation to a prominent thinker and writer, an acclaimed activist and strategist, and a more or less authentic grassroots politician, an account from TruthDig about the just passed Tom Hayden, whose work with Students for a Democratic Society constituted a signature moment in regard to heralded 1960’s student, antiwar, and human rights activities, which took tangible form in the event in the Port Huron Statement, a new version of which is part of this article–part of an outpouring of encomium and memorialization for Hayden and his work, such as a Consortium News brief that focuses on his courageous stand for peace, or a Portside piece that passes on a Nation Magazine text that emphasizes the ‘work-in-progress’ nature of America’s vaunted ‘democracy,’ or another TruthDig bit that contextualizes immigration issues; material that parallels various more standard obituaries, such as this one from LA Progressive
MEDIA MANIPULATION TRICKS THAT WOULD FRIGHTEN EVEN BERNAYS
In contemporary environs in which vast majorities of the individuals who comprise the populace of public opinion have zero direct access either to experience or knowledge about crucial events and decisions, a to-say-the-least troubling report from Waking Times about various aspects of convincing people of untrue representations and manipulated events, the upshot of which comes in the form of a briefing from a company, the Woolshed Group, that has pulled the wool over the eyes of hundreds of millions of viewers of eight faked viral videos, and additional elements of which look at techniques that permit complete faking of actual speakers’ and actors’ filmed words and actions so as to transform the impact of the original images on viewers, and more such instantiation of the warning to watchers to be wary of what they ‘see with their own two eyes,’ manifestations of the present pass that meld with such persuasive magic as a recent short about how one can ‘ethically’ use the psychology of what convinces people to say ‘yes’ in order to sell them whatever one wants to purvey, an arena of pushing people around perfectly congruent with what more corrupt and corporate mediation induces constantly, as a lengthier investigation of the influence, some would say imprimatur, that groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations have on the messages that meander onto our screens, the propaganda that the ‘networks’ and other media monopolies propagate on a daily basis—all of which adds up to a dire call to scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens to attend carefully indeed the advice of the passionate proponents of social justice and human freedom at Storm Clouds Gathering, who say that the background of Edwin Bernays and his ilk, and even earlier theorists of mass psychology, informs every component of the current scene, from virtual reality to printed matter that comes through the mails, and that we’d better get a sense of our own interests and our own stories if we don’t want to end up buying in to agendas that will definitely bring us gloom, and that could spell our doom.
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A Portside repostlook at some Southern bands to look out for if one cares about the state of the world and where our creative minds stand on important issues: “From police treatment of African-Americans to the current presidential election, the issues roiling America today have led the Truckers to drill down on the topic that has preoccupied them for 20 years – the South – while bringing a relatively unheard perspective to pop music’s discourse: that of the progressive white Southerner.
And they aren’t alone: A few other white Southern groups, like the country-folk duo Shovels & Rope and the soul revivalists St. Paul & the Broken Bones, have started releasing overtly political music that stands with movements like Black Lives Matter.”
A great guide to all scrappy scribes who wish to see all the words that it is possible to see: “Green’s Dictionary of Slang is the largest historical dictionary of English slang. Written by Jonathon Green over 17 years from 1993, it reached the printed page in 2010 in a three-volume set containing nearly 100,000 entries supported by over 400,000 citations from c. ad 1000 to the present day. The main focus of the dictionary is the coverage of over 500 years of slang from c. 1500 onwards.”
A Tikkun appreciation and defense of Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize, both from an artistic standpoint as from being an important voice for an entire movement: “Dylan’s strange surrealist lyrics were new to rock and had roots in poetry we both loved – in Rimbaud, but also Eliot. Like Eliot in “The Waste Land” or Rimbaud in his Illuminations, Dylan suggested entire worlds in just a few lines in songs like “Desolation Row” “The Gates of Eden” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” Rimbaud had shown me the magical world after the deluge. Eliot, the disintegration of old beliefs. That strange new broken world terrified Eliot but exhilarated Dylan and me. Unlike Eliot and the other so-called modernists who hated everything we loved about modernity, Dylan and I were marching on the same side.”
A Citiscope article that discusses a future meeting of 140 countries who seek to lay out a unified agenda for sustainable urban existence for future generations: “The future of cities will be shaped this week high in the Andes mountains, as nearly 50,000 people converge for a summit aimed at adopting a new global vision on how to plan, build and run cities equitably and sustainably….
By the end of the conference, national governments will adopt a voluntary, non-binding agreement known as the New Urban Agenda. The document, which was finalized in September following four months of negotiation, is an urbanization strategy designed to guide national policies and local priorities over the next 20 years.”
An Atlantic look at a recent unfortunate development in academic spaces of protecting students against what they purportedly don’t want to hear, and that speculates possible consequences of the trend: “The dangers that these trends pose to scholarship and to the quality of American universities are significant; we could write a whole essay detailing them. But in this essay we focus on a different question: What are the effects of this new protectiveness on the students themselves? Does it benefit the people it is supposed to help? What exactly are students learning when they spend four years or more in a community that polices unintentional slights, places warning labels on works of classic literature, and in many other ways conveys the sense that words can be forms of violence that require strict control by campus authorities, who are expected to act as both protectors and prosecutors?”
A POPULAR THINKER, ACTIVIST, & GRASSROOTS POLITICIAN
In relation to a prominent thinker and writer, an acclaimed activist and strategist, and a more or less authentic grassroots politician, an account from TruthDig about the just passed Tom Hayden, whose work with Students for a Democratic Society constituted a signature moment in regard to heralded 1960’s student, antiwar, and human rights activities, which took tangible form in the event in the Port Huron Statement, a new version of which is part of this article–part of an outpouring of encomium and memorialization for Hayden and his work, such as a Consortium News brief that focuses on his courageous stand for peace, or a Portside piece that passes on a Nation Magazine text that emphasizes the ‘work-in-progress’ nature of America’s vaunted ‘democracy,’ or another TruthDig bit that contextualizes immigration issues; material that parallels various more standard obituaries, such as this one from LA Progressive, this one from our ‘paper of record’ in New York, and this one, about his transformative impact, from Capital & Main; and insights that meld well with videos such as this short splice from Democracy Now! via TruthOut, and this archival portrayal that TruthDig also passes along, which also describes this interview that the alternative outlet makes available from a profferal of Cuban Jewish mediation, Juventude Rebelde, the sum total of all of which ought to interest scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens alike in these crazy days and troubled times that pass in a flash right now: “Tom Hayden, a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), took the lead in drafting ‘The Port Huron Statement,’ the manifesto of the SDS and a handbook for a generation of student activists. As a student at the University of Michigan, Hayden believed that apathy bred by middle-class comfort was a major obstacle to social justice for the oppressed. The Port Huron Statement called on students to leave the ivory tower and seek that justice through direct participatory democracy. The document also railed against the military industrial complex, racial bigotry, and the spread of nuclear weapons.
… Rachel Corrie, I believe, would have been a Students for a Democratic Society activist 50 years ago. The spirit of my Port Huron generation certainly lived in her as she was crushed by an American-made Israeli bulldozer while bearing witness to injustice against Palestinians in 2003. I say this because I believe it to be true, but also to call up the real meaning of the Port Huron statement from the cobwebs of time. I do so with urgency because there are forces today that want to blur Rachel Corrie’s moral example by shutting down a play based on her diaries in New York City at this moment. I protest before their cultural bulldozer.
Those who want to censor Rachel Corrie’s voice today remind me of those who tried to censor the voices of my generation long ago. Then, as now, they said morality was complex, not simple, that context was overriding, that if we stood against racial injustice in Mississippi it would be exploited by Communists in other lands. That racism and brutality in America, however regrettable, could never be considered equivalent to racism and brutality in other, more sinister, places. That there was no moral equivalence between American killing and Communist killing. And so we had to bury our own dead who were dredged out of a Mississippi swamp while their families wept angry tears.
(In relation to what we might view as the ‘Port Huron Project), (s)ome wish that our legacy be washed out with the refuse in th(e) pipes that drain into the Great Lake where we met). Out of sight, out of mind. For the conservative icon Robert Bork, the Port Huron Statement (PHS) was ‘a document of ominous mood and aspiration,’ because of his fixed certainty that utopian movements, by misreading human nature, turn out badly. David Horowitz, a former ‘60s radical who turned to the hard-core right, dismisses the PHS as a ‘self-conscious effort to rescue the communist project from its Soviet fate.’ Another ex-leftist, Christopher Hitchens, sees in its pages a conservative reaction to ‘bigness and anonymity and urbanization,’ even linking its vision to the Unabomber! More progressive writers, such as Garry Wills, E.J. Dionne and Paul Berman, see the PHS as a bright moment of reformist vision that withered due to the impatience and extremism of the young. Excerpts of the PHS have been published in numerous textbooks, and an Internet search returns huge numbers of references to ‘participatory democracy,’ its central philosophic theme. Grass-roots movements in today’s Argentina and Venezuela use ‘participatory democracy’ to describe their popular assemblies and factory takeovers. The historian Thomas Cahill writes that the Greek ekklesia was ‘the world’s first participatory democracy’ and the model for the early Catholic Church, which ‘permitted no restrictions on participation: no citizens and non-citizens, no greeks and nongreeks, no patriarchs and submissive females.’ In modern popular culture, authorship of the PHS has been claimed by the stoned hippie played by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski.
The vision grew from a concrete generational experience. Rarely if ever had students thought of themselves as a force in history or, as we phrased it, an ‘agency of social change.’ We were rebelling against the experience of apathy, not against a single specific oppression. We were moved by the heroic example of black youth in the South, whose rebellion taught us the fundamental importance of race. We could not vote ourselves, and were treated legally as wards under our universities’ paternal care, but as young men we could be conscripted to fight in places we dimly understood, like Vietnam and Laos. The nation’s priorities were frozen by the Cold War: a permanent nuclear arms race benefiting what President Eisenhower had called ‘the military-industrial complex,’ whose appetite absorbed the resources that we believed were necessary to address the crises of civil rights and poverty, or what John Kenneth Galbraith termed squalor in the midst of affluence.’ Apathy, we came to suspect, was what the administrators and power technicians actually desired. Apathy was not our fault, not an accident, but the result of social engineering by those who ran the institutions that taught us, employed us, entertained us, drafted us, bored us, controlled us, wanted us to accept the absolute impossibility of another way of being.”TruthDig, Port Huron
“An activist, political theorist, organizer, writer, speaker and teacher, Hayden was a Freedom Rider in the South during the 1960s; a founder of Students for a Democratic Society; a leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement; a community organizer; a negotiator of a gang truce in Venice, California; the author of more than 19 books; and an elected official in California for nearly two decades. ‘Tom made important contributions as a writer and a political leader, but his greatest strength was as a visionary strategist,’ said Bill Zimmerman, who worked with Hayden in the Indochina Peace Campaign and later managed his 1976 U.S. Senate campaign. ‘Tom was able to see far over the political horizon, and was then able to create and lead political movements that were often ahead of their time. Whether it was radical opposition to war or mainstream support for candidates, progressive ballot initiatives and necessary legislation, he was a true leader, clay feet and all.’
Hayden was steadfast in his opposition to the Vietnam War. He made several trips to North Vietnam, calling attention to the U.S. bombing of civilians. On one trip, at the request of the North Vietnamese government, Hayden returned to the U.S. with American prisoners of war. Since the U.S. government refused to recognize the government in Hanoi, the Vietnamese would only release the prisoners to Americans in the anti-war movement. …A transformative event in Hayden’s life occurred in 1960 when he was a college student. He interviewed Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on a picket line outside the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. The picket demanded that the Democratic Party include a strong commitment to civil rights in its platform. King told Hayden, ‘Ultimately, you have to take a stand with your life.’ Hayden took King’s exhortation to heart, dedicating his life to the struggles for peace, freedom, justice and equality.
(In addition to Students for a Democratic Society and its Port Huron Statement, Hayden worked tirelessly in community organizing). After Hayden moved to Newark, New Jersey, in 1964 to be a community organizer, he did not escape the notice of local FBI agents, who sought increased surveillance of Hayden. They wrote, ‘In view of the fact that Hayden is an effective speaker who appeals to intellectual groups and has also worked with and supported the Negro people in their program in Newark, it is recommended that he be placed on the Rabble Rouser Index.’ Hayden’s effectiveness was also noticed by J. Edgar Hoover, the notorious director of the FBI. Hoover once wrote in a memo, ‘One of your prime objectives should be to neutralize [Hayden] in the New Left movement.’ Hoover’s objective was never realized. Hayden continued to serve as a bulwark of the Left.
Elected to the California State Assembly in 1982 and the state Senate in 1992, Hayden was dubbed ‘the conscience of the Senate’ by the Sacramento Bee. He sponsored or co-sponsored 100 pieces of legislation, including laws to lower college tuition costs, prevent discrimination in hiring, and attach safety controls to guns. In 1993, he sponsored a bill to require electric-vehicle-charging stations and legislation to require the state to find alternatives to refrigerants that destroy the ozone layer.
(In addition to his tireless and capacious participation in the struggle to kick-start a modern peace movement, Hayden wrote prolifically). Hayden’s many books also include Radical Nomad (1964), Irish Hunger (1968), Rebellion and Repression (1969), Trial (1970), Tom Hayden: An Activist Life(1981), Irish on the Inside (2001), The Zapatista Reader (2002), Street Wars(2004), Ending the War in Iraq (2007), Writings for a Democratic Society(2008), The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama (2009), and Listen Yankee: Why Cuba Matters (2015). His final book, Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement, will be published posthumously by Yale University Press in March 2017. As we face the daunting challenges of U.S. militarism abroad, militarization of the police at home, and persistent economic and racial inequality, the absence of Tom Hayden is an incalculable loss.”—Consortium News
“Though an irreplaceable voice for peace has been silenced, there will be one more reminder of Hayden’s unsurpassed ability for making readers understand what it takes to hold the powerful to account. Next spring, Yale University Press will publish Hayden’s final book, Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement. For now, here is a sampling of some of the important work Hayden published in our pages (of Nation Magazine).
A month after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as president, Hayden wrote a cover story titled ‘The Future Politics of Liberalism’ (February 21, 1981), which showed that there was much more to his vision of the United States that the limited set of issues that usually falls under the rubric of politics:
‘We need more than ever a participatory society in which persons of all life styles believe that they matter, instead of the escapist culture that absorbs millions in irrelevance. We cannot contend with the coming of external limits unless we delve more into our rich inner potentials.
It comes down to moving from a wasteful, privately oriented, self-indulgent existence to a more conserving, caring and disciplined life style. The cornerstone has to be a renewal of self-reliance, not the outmoded frontier fantasy of the Republican philosophers, but the reassertion of personal responsibility in everything from conserving resources to decentralizing services to keeping ourselves well through self-care to practicing a ‘right livelihood’ in business. It is a change from planned obsolescence to the production of useful goods that last, from consumer madness to the achievement of inner satisfactions, from the opulence of Jay Gatsby to the frugal self-assurance of Henry David Thoreau.
More important than money and technique in elections is the factor of motivation and vision. The Democrats (or someone else) will return to national leadership when they are inspired again.'”—Portside
“(Hayden marched in support of indigenous and immigrants’ rights all along, including at a massive 2006 rally just after Evo Morales helped to nationalize Bolivia’s hydrocarbon resources). (He wrote), a frightening gap (exists) between the white perception of this 50-year trauma of deportation and the experience of Mexicans and other immigrants, like the Salvadorans who were driven here by the U.S.-backed civil wars of the 1970s. Somewhere between amnesia and a self-induced lobotomy, the gap needs to be closed in the dialogue that may come of these historic protests. The mere passage of time may erase white memories and guilt, and induce acceptance among Mexicans, but it does not legitimize the occupation itself. The wound will not disappear under American flags, searchlights and border walls.
The fundamental issue still shaping attitudes down to the present is this: Either the Mexicans (and other Latinos) are immigrants to a country called the United States or the U.S. is a Machiavellian power that denies occupying one-half of Mexico for 156 years. During the 1846-48 war against Mexico, at least 50,000 Mexicans died. The fighting took place across many cities considered pure-bred American today; in Los Angeles, a revolt temporarily drove out the U.S. Army. Guerrilla resistance by Mexican fighters left a mythic legacy of those like Joaquin Murrieta and Tiburcio Vasquez, names still alive among Mexican-American students today. Meanwhile, The New York Times was declaring in 1860: ‘The Mexicans, ignorant and degraded as they are, [should welcome a system] founded on free trade and the right of colonization so that, after a few years of pupilege, the Mexican state would be incorporated into the Union under the same conditions as the original colonies.
Today’s demonstrations are not demanding implementation of the (never respected) Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Modern Mexican-Americans have made the legalization of undocumented workers as United States citizens their consensus demand. But there remains an unspoken difference between two states of mind regarding the meaning of the border. In every generation, immigrant workers and youth have claimed their American rights without abandoning the memory of their deeper historical ones. A significant number of white Americans, especially among the elites, still hold to nativist definitions of American identity, in contrast to those multinational corporations that tend to be more interested in cheap foreign labor than in keeping American white.
No one lends an Ivy League luster to the Minuteman Mentality more than Harvard University professor Samuel Huntington. A proud ‘Anglo-Protestant,’ Huntington previously advocated the ‘forced urbanization’ of the Vietnamese peasantry into a ‘Honda culture’ as a formula for ending the nationalist uprising. In the ’70s, he complained that an ‘excess of democracy’ threatened Western authorities. More recently, he formulated the strident doctrine of ‘the clash of civilizations,’ decreeing that Islamic culture is incompatible with democratic civilization. Finally, he has weighed in on ‘The Hispanic Challenge,’ arguing that Latino immigration is ‘a major potential threat to the cultural and possibly political integrity of the United States’ (in Foreign Policy, March-April 2006). Huntington argues that Mexican-Americans are too close to their traditional culture to become assimilated as patriotic Americans. By this he means, of course, that they cannot become imitation WASPs, whose identity he sees as basic to the American nation. For Huntington, assimilation seems to mean submission and disappearance into the master culture, a viewpoint still held by many. We defeated you, and now you should become like us.
But the U.S. has historically been the destabilizing force in Mexico, most recently with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has flooded the country with corn and other products and replaced indigenous manufacturing with the maquiladora economy, thus displacing at least hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, many of whom seek survival in el norte. Perpetuating the cycle is absolutely crucial to neo-liberal economics. But it also perpetually stimulates rebelliousness, in fact and memory, among those who take to U.S. streets today, and who shortly will be the urban majority in a new America. As people of color, mainly immigrants, edge closer to majority status in key states, their relatives to the south are becoming nationalist, populist majorities in country after country, with interests that sharply conflict with the disintegrating U.S. Monroe Doctrine of 1823. If the populist mayor of Mexico City is elected president of Mexico this fall, NAFTA itself will die or be re-negotiated. This is the first time in many decades that the interests of Latinos in the U.S. are closely converging with the governments and people of the nations of the south. As seen even in the recent international baseball championships, the willingness of America’s major league Latino players to join the lineups of their homelands shows the fluid nature of borders and solidarity. A policy beyond the Monroe Doctrine will have to be crafted for the United States, with Latinos in the lead. As Evo Morales of Bolivia is suggesting, ‘another annexation is possible,’ the annexation of the United States into peaceful coexistence with Latin America.”—TruthDig, Immigration
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, today is a moment to remember a Day of the Establishment of an Independent Czecho-Slovak State, and all over the globe is also International Animation Day; duringthe Battle of Milvian Bridge, seventeen hundred and four years back, the emperor Constantine’s armies defeated Maxentius, thus becoming the sole Roman emperor of the West; one hundred forty-four years after that illustrious moment in time, in 456, the Visigoths brutally sacked the Suebi’s capital of what is now known as Portugal;Byzantine forces one thousand forty-seven years ago captured the outlying fortifications around Antioch, at the border of modern Syria and Turkey, in preparation for occupying the city three days hence; six hundred seventy-two years before the here and now, in another wave of such contention and conflict, Crusaders captured Smyrna, in what is now Turkey; three quarters of a century and one year henceforth, in 1420, Beijing became the Ming Dynasty capitol, more or less simultaneously as Ming builders completed the construction of the Forbidden City there as a seat of government; boats under the command of Christopher Columbus just two years beyond seven decades later, in 1492, first happened upon the islands of Cuba; five centuries ahead of today, Turkish forces under the Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha defeated the Mamluks near Gaza; the first institution of higher learning in the Western Hemisphere opened four hundred seventy-eight years prior to the present pass on the Island that now includes the Dominican Republic and Haiti; nine decades subsequently, in 1628, Huguenots surrendered to French Catholic forces at New Rochelle; eight years thereafter, in 1636, across the Atlantic, Massachusetts Court officials acceded to the founding of the college that became Harvard; sixty-seven years henceforth, the English mathematician and cryptographer popped his clogs; three centuries and twelve years ahead of today, John Locke breathed his last; two hundred forty-one years back, as the American British colonies slid toward open war, England’s military orders forbade residents from leaving Boston; thirty-three years later on, 1818, Abigail Adams, wife of the second President, died;one hundred eighty-one years before this point in time, Maori indigenous people in New Zealand declared their ‘nationhood,’ impelled by British diplomatic efforts to freeze out French incursions; the first Spanish railroad, with its terminus in Barcelona, started operations during the revolutionary year that took place thirteen years further on, in 1848; in New York Harbor a hundred thirty years back, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty; the premier
performance of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique symphony took place seven years afterward, in 1893, in St. Petersburg, only nine days before the composer took his own life; another six years closer to the current context, in 1899, the inventor of the media-and-news-transforming linotype machine, Ottmar Merganthaler, ended his days; four years still nearer to the present day, in 1903, the infant boy who grew up to become writer and critic Evelyn Waugh uttered his first cry; eleven years subsequent to that moment, in 1914, the biologist Jonas Salk, responsible for vacine inventions, met his end; three hundred sixty-five years still further down the line, in 1915, Richard Strauss conducted the first performance of his tone poem Eine Alpensinfonie in Berlin; three years subsequent to that instant, in 1918, Czechoslovakia stood on its own on the same day that Poland assumed command of Western Galicia; a single year following that, in 1919, Congress overrode Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the legislation that initiated Prohibition; three years further on, in 1922, Benito Mussolini marched at the head of a fascist mob that took over Italy’s government; seven years still further on, in 1929, Black Monday, a day that saw major stock upheaval in a prelude to the Great Depression, took place; seven years still further on, in 1936, the baby boy destined to become Charlie Daniels, the celebrated singer-songwriter and guitarist, first cried out; two years later still, in 1938, the Liberian journalist who founded The Daily Observer was born; a Swiss chemist sixty-eight
years ago received the Nobel Prize for his promulgation of DDT as a pesticide; sixty-five years back, the baby boy first cried out on his way to becoming Peter Hitchens, English journalist and author; five years later, in 1951, Elvis Presley received a polio vaccination on national TV in an attempt to legitimize vaccination to the general public; the Cuban missile crisis ended fifty-four years in advance of today’s light and air, when Premier Khrushchev ordered the dismantling and removal of missiles from Cuba; two years later, in 1964, the U.S. denied involvement in bombing North Vietnam, a lie; a year still closer to today, in 1965, Missouri’s Gateway Arch was completed after two and a half years, without the loss of a single worker; one year beyond that juncture, in 1966, Pope Paul VI signed a proclamation that forsook holding Jews responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion; sixteen years after that, in 1982, the Spanish government came under the sway of the first socialist party in the modern era, as the Socialist Workers Party took control; eighteen years before today, (1998) the husband of Sylvia Plath, the poet Ted Hughes, drew his last breath; four years closer to now, in 2002, Margaret Booth, the American screenwriter, died; three years still closer to now, in 2005, Vice President’s Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff was indicted in the Valerie Plume case and resigned the same day; one year more proximate to the present day, in 2006, Ukrainians commemorated the deaths of their forebears at the hands of Soviet executioners outside Kiev; Kristina Kirchner a year subsequently, in 2007, became Argentina’s first female President, a post that she continues to hold till the results of the current election are sure, and the iconic country music star, Porter Wagoner of Grand Old Opry fame, sang his swan song.
“I AM indebted to many friends — old and new British, American and Mexican — for their abundant kindness to me in London, New York, Washington and Mexico. They provided me with a sequence of delightful introductions, entertained me in their homes, helped plan my journeys, talked to me very freely of their particular problems; but this is an occasion, I believe, where gratitude is best expressed by silence. The appearance of their names here could only be an embarrassment to them. I formed my opinions in their company, but none of them will agree with all I have written, some of them with none of it. It would be idle to pretend that a visit to Mexico, at the present moment, can be wholly agreeable; the pervading atmosphere ranges from vexation to despair, and only the most obtuse traveller could escape infection. That, in spite of the present gloomy spectacle and the still gloomier prospect of the future, there were more good hours than bad for me in Mexico, is entirely due to these friends. If they come to read this I should like them to know that I am sincerely grateful; in particular to two, an Englishman and a Mexican, one of whom, harassed by personal worries, took all mine into his charge; the other who was my constant companion in all my movements. I remember with delight the days at Orizaba and Cuernavaca, a bottle of magnificent claret in Mexico City, the trip down the railway, away from newspapers and wireless, during the European September crisis, the good company in the Ritz bar, the trust with which members of the Catholic laity accepted me. I am sorry that these happy episodes shall have so little reflection in the fol- lowing pages, but, as my friends know better than I, there is at the moment no opportunity for solid happiness in Mexico. Stinchcombe, 1939 . E. W. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION THIS is a political book ; the sketch of a foreign country where I spent a day or so under two months ; of a country which has already provoked a huge number of books, many of them by residents of life-long experience. I do not see how it is possible to escape the imputation of presumption. ‘ The fellow mugs up a few facts in the London Library, comes out here for a week or two with a bare smattering of the language, hangs about bothering us all with a lot of questions, and then proceeds to make money by telling us all our own business.’ It is a charge to which professional writers are commonly exposed and I know no answer except the truth : that this, in fact, is our professional habit. Superficial acquaintance is one of the materials of our trade. Other professions are equally culpable ; the barrister spends an evening or two studying his brief, pleads in court as though he had never had any other interest in life than the welfare of the litigants, and, over his luncheon, forgets their names, their faces and everything about them. The medical specialist gives his diagnosis in an hour on a patient he has never seen in health and of whose life history he knows no more than a few routine questions will elicit. Compared with them a journalist is less presumptuous. His trade is to observe, record and interpret. He does not claim that in a month or two of sight- seeing he has made himself an expert on local history and archaeology ; still less that he has fitted himself for the post of benevolent dictator who can put right troubles which perplex the statesmen. His hope is to notice things which the better experienced accept as commonplace and to convey to a distant public some idea of the aspect and feel of a place which hitherto has been merely a geographical or political term, so that subsequent events reported thence in the newspapers — events which in the vagaries of contemporary history may quite suddenly have a rude impact on their own livelihood and lives — may have more interest and actuality. For this purpose even a few weeks may sometimes be too long. How many travel books open vividly and end in a mere catalogue of transport difficulties! The truthful travel book rarely works to a climax ; the climax is sometimes the moment of disembarkation and everything beyond it an attempt to revive artificially, under the iron lung of rhythmic, day to day observations, the revelation of first acquaintance. I went to Mexico in order to write a book about it; in order to verify and reconsider impressions formed at a distance. To have travelled a lot, to have spent, as I had done, the first twelve years of adult life intermittently on the move, is to this extent a disadvantage that one’s mind falls into the habit of recognizing similarities rather than differences. At the age of thirty-five one needs to go to the moon, or some such place, to recapture the excitement with which one first landed at Calais. For many people Mexico has, in the past, had this lunar character. Lunar it still remains, but in no poetic sense. It is waste land, part of a dead or, at any rate, a dying planet. Politics, everywhere destructive, have here dried up the place, frozen it, cracked it and powdered it to dust. Is civilization, like a leper, beginning to rot at its extremities? In the sixteenth century human life was disordered and talent stultified by the obsession of theology; today we are plague- stricken by politics. It is a fact; distressing for us, dull for our descendents, but inescapable. This is a political book ; its aim, roughly, is to examine a single problem ; why it was that last summer a small and almost friendless republic jubilantly recalled its Minister from London, and, more important, why people in England thought about this event as they did ; why, for instance, patriotic feeling burst into indignation whenever a freight ship — British only in name, trading in defiance of official advice — was sunk in Spanish waters, and remained indifferent when a rich and essential British industry was openly stolen in time of peace. If one could understand that problem one would come very near to understanding all the problems that vex us today, for it has at its origin the universal, deliberately fostered anarchy of public relations and private opinions that is rapidly making the world uninhabitable. The succeeding pages are notes on anarchy. Travellers from New York to Mexico have a choice of route ; they may take either the weekly steamship for Vera Cruz or the faster, more costly, daily train. The inexperienced and economical, of whom I was one, prefer the former ; inexperienced, for I was thinking of trains in un-American terms. New York was in the depth of a heat-wave ; one stepped right down into it, as into a bath, from the gangway of the liner. Those who have been in New York at such a time — if such a time has ever occurred before, which the daily papers and one’s own sense of probability made one doubt — will understand what it means ; to those who have not, words are useless. It is enough to say that it seemed inconceivable that anyone could hesitate between a week at sea, with fresh breezes and shady decks, and four days cramped in a sleeper, rattling into the tropics through the burning plains of Texas and St. Luis Potosi. Now I know better. There are a number of objections which the jealous European may make to American trains — as that they are slow, that one is knocked off one’s feet whenever they stop and start, that one has no assurance of fermented liquor with one’s food — but, when all is said, it remains true that they are the most comfortable means of getting across country yet devised by man. I did not know that at the time ; nor did I know what to expect on board the steamship. Half the polite letters of the world take the form of contrasting expectation with realization. I had formed an image of what the S.S. Siboney would be like. I saw her — Heaven knows why, except that the fare was cheap — as a cargo vessel carrying a few heterogeneous passengers in rough and homely comfort ; a ship something like the coasters of the Gulf of Corinth, full of traders and prospectors and nondescript adventurers whose table talk would supplement my meagre and purely academic acquaintance with the country to which we were travelling. But the Siboney is purely and simply a tourist service, gallantly attempting to reproduce a luxury cruise at cut-price rates ; admirable for its purpose, but no manner of use to a writer in search of local colour. The ship was fairly full, of women, mostly, who were on their way to Mexico to have a good time.
Mexico is a long way from England, and you do not meet a great many Englishmen who have been there; it is next door to the U.S.A. and holiday- makers swarm across the border like ants. Tourist traffic was down last year, like every Mexican business, but it is still large and the depreciation of the peso has done a good deal to counteract the — at the moment quite groundless — apprehensions about personal safety. It is doubly important, in Mexico because anything that brings foreign currency into the republic is desperately needed ; in U.S.A. because anything which helps to form American public opinion about its dangerous little neighbour, is, at the moment, of disproportionate interest. As far as Mexico is concerned the tourists are not popular ; I doubt whether they are anywhere in the world except at sea-side resorts and in Norway. It is a long abandoned belief that tourism, like competitive athletics, makes for international friendship. The three most hated peoples in the world — Germans, Americans and British — are the keenest sight-seers. There are very few English villagers who have seen an Egyptian ; very few Egyptian villagers who have not seen an Englishman ; the result is that the English generally are well disposed towards Egypt, while the Egyptians detest us. Sympathy for foreigners varies directly with their remoteness. We were prepared to love the Abyssinians ; Italians, for most of us, meant a customs official we had fallen out with, or an avaricious cab-driver. Moreover a race who stay at home and are visited extensively from abroad fall into the error of supposing all foreigners to be very rich and very frivolous. Few Mexicans ever saw a poor Englishman or American ; it is not unnatural that they get an impression that they are having the worst of the international deal and are being mulcted. (Twenty years ago, of course, the Monagasques had never seen a poor Mexican, but that is distant history.) Not that the American tourists are big spenders. Mexico is for those who cannot afford the Grand Tour to Europe. They buy round tickets and except for getting a few execrable objects as presents for those at home, they do not want to spend any more ; tips and guides are included in their fare. They have a national abhorrence of beggars. The profits are carefully calculated and not much slips into general circulation. It can well be argued, in general terms, that a country is happier without tourists, but Mexico is in no position to be fas- tidious about its sources of revenue. It values the tourist trade and would feel the loss if the frontier were closed. It has laid out a lot of money in roads and hotels and has even, in late years, modi- fied some of its more conspicuous abuses in deference to tourists’ protests ; in particular the loot and destruction of Spanish-Colonial art treasures and the persecution of the clergy. Some of the Mexicans in the government party have realized that the tourists do not come simply to exercise their motor cars or, now that Prohibition is more or less over, to drink imported whiskey ; that seventeenth century silver-ware is more valuable in its existing shape than melted into a lump ; that if you want some proofed canvas to patch a roof it is cheaper in the long run to buy a piece, than to clamber onto the altar of the village church and cut a Cabrera out of the reredos ; the enlightenment comes late but it is something gained, and some- thing for which, indirectly, we may thank the jolly young women of the S.S. Siboney. Americans undoubtedly feel a sense of responsibility towards Mexico. Later, on my homeward journey, I fell into conversation with an insurance agent returning across the border from a ‘ con- vention ’ of fellow insurance men who were having a corporate jaunt together twenty strong. He told me in full detail about the prosperity of his business and the terms of affectionate subservience on which he lived with his wife. I asked him after a time if he knew England. No, he said, he had never been abroad. After two months in Mexico that came as a surprise, for I could conceive of no two countries more foreign to one another than his and the one he had just been visiting. It is true, of course, that he had travelled in an American built, air-condi- tioned coach, that he had found ice-water and American cereals on the breakfast table at his hotel, hall porters and barmen who understood his English, and what was in intention and origin, if not in effect, American plumbing, but he could not long have been taken in by these things. It was not so much kinship as proprietorship that he felt. His was the attitude of the nineteenth century Englishman towards Ireland. He saw Mexico as backward and deficient in many of the advantages of the northern system. In particular he was impressed by the physical dirt ; food being exposed for sale without its decent wrapping of cellophane shocked his sense of propriety ; the place needed taking in hand ; the people should be taught industrious and hygienic habits. Labour had got a bit out of hand lately ; well, they had had a raw deal before, now they were getting a bit of their own back ; it would all even up soon and better relations be established. The Church had had too much money and they spent it all on extravagant building instead of teaching the people ; most of those big buildings were schools ? He hadn’t understood that from the guide — but, anyhow, what did they teach ? Only a lot of Latin and stuff. The landowners ill-treated the peasants and lived in Biarritz ; pity the peasants were worse off now than they were before, but that would come right when they’d been taught modern methods ; pity the Government took away Americans’ estates, too, but they had said they would pay for them one day. He knew that historically and economically the Government was dependent on his ; he thought it a pity that the frontier should have been drawn where it had been ; Mexico was a projection of California and Texas ; it needed no violent imperialism ; clean it up a bit and it would come into the Federation on its own account. Like the nineteenth century Englishman in Ireland, he overlooked the one vital difference — that Mexico was a foreign country. His attitude, I think, is still in the main that of the State Department at Washington. In contrast to this type of transitory visitor there are a large number of Americans who find, or profess to find in Mexico a spiritual home. These are the painters and writers who make such a large and charming section of the English speaking colony. Here in the hills they find an antidote for all the ills of their native civilization. Although, almost all of them, dependent on invested capital for their livelihood, they express generous sympathy with General Cardenas’s socialist regime. They see Mexico as they were first taught to see it by the travel-agencies’ folders, as a country of sunny, indolent peasantry, ancient domes and patios, local feasts that are spontaneous and traditional — a happy change from the more organized junketings of Elks and Shriners in their own home towns ; they see a land where ambition, and particularly financial ambition, is not the dominant passion. Though they would vehemently disclaim it, the truth is that they are in love with Europe ; they are nostalgic for the Classical-Christian culture from which they remotely spring, which they can find transplanted, transformed in part, but still recognizable in Mexico. They see it, as Dr. Munthe saw San Michele, and it is largely due to their sentimental vision, that the legend has spread and earned credence, of the parasitic white tyrant and the patient savage. The new mood in the Mexican governing clique is destructive of all they value but few of them seem to recognise this ; quite soon they may have a rude shock but at the moment they are happy with their tropical plants, collections of bric-a-brac, and albums of Diego Rivera. Their books are published in large quanti- ties in the United States ; in England seekers of the picturesque have a wider scope and the writer who has given most people their ideas about Mexico is D. H. Lawrence ; and he hated it. He was taken in by a great many things, but never by the San Michele view of Mexico. He came there hoping for an antidote to the poison of industrialism and he left in disgust ; he never forgot it. Every traveller to Mexico must read the Plumed Serpent ; at any rate the opening chapters. The early, satirical passages about Mexico City — the bull fight, the tea party … ‘ all jade is bright green ’ • • • — are superb. Then his loneliness and lack of humour and his restless, neurotic imagination combine to make one of the silliest stories in recent literature. I defy anyone who has not been hypnotised by Lawrence’s reputation to read the account of Kate’s marriage — the corpulent, middle- aged Irish woman waddling out into the rain in her homespun shift ; the swarthy little bridegroom trotting beside her in his bedraggled white pants ; the words of the ceremony, ‘ This man is my rain from heaven ’, the rubbing of the roots of her hair and the soles of her feet with salad oil — without being inevitably reminded of ‘ Beachcomber’s ’ column in the Daily Express and the account of the bogus paganism is sillier, if less funny ; when Lawrence describes the secession to it of many of the local clergy — who have been unjustly accused of many defects but never of lack of tenacity in their faith — he passes beyond Mexico into a world of stark nonsense. Nevertheless, for all its folly, the Plumed Serpent is a better guide to Mexico than Mr. Philip Terry. His is the standard work ; it was on sale on board the Siboney and in every bookshop in Mexico City. In appearance it has some superficial likenesses to the works of Baedeker … I could write at length on my horror of Terry’s Guide ; enough to say that it says nothing that could offend any local sentiment, nor could interest any serious traveller, but is well suited to the requirements of most of the S.S. Siboney round-tour passengers, who like their accommodation the better for seeing it extravagantly praised in print and have too much on their hands, anyway, to mind missing the more unobtrusive sights which it is the primary duty of a guide book to mention. Besides the holidaymakers and the sentimentalists there is a third rapidly increasing group of foreign visitors to Mexico. These are the ideologues ; first in Moscow, then in Barcelona, now in Mexico these credulous pilgrims pursue their quest for the promised land ; constantly disap- pointed, never disillusioned, ever thirsty for the phrases in which they find refreshment. They have flocked to Mexico in the last few months for the present rulers have picked up a Marxist vocabulary so that, from being proverbial for misgovernment, the republic, now at its nadir of internal happiness and external importance, greatly to the surprise of its citizens, has achieved the oddest of reputations — that of ‘ contemporary signi- ficance ’. But there were no recognizable ideologues on board the Siboney — and they are usually recognizable. On the eve of our arrival in Mexican waters we were summoned to the lounge to hear an address from the purser on our behaviour in a foreign country. Curiosity and the lack of alternative occupation provided a large attendance. Just outside the door was a tank of iced drinking-water and a column of cardboard cups. As the passengers assembled they paused at this national monument and drank ; it was like a congregation coming into church passing the stoop of holy water. When they were all refreshed and settled the purser entered. He was a personable, rather grim fellow in whom the distaste for passengers, endemic in all good seamen, seemed tempered by compassion. His speech, presumably, was the same every sailing ; I wish I had been able to record it verbatim for it was a model of what such speeches should be. First he explained the arrangements for disembarkation and the requirements of customs and immigration officials ; he told them to us succinctly, in detail, more than once, with a tolerant acceptance of our intellectual limitations, like a very patient and experienced schoolmaster. One would have thought he had made himself plain ; one would have been wrong as was evident, at the end, when he invited questions . . . “ We have to take charge of our own tourist cards ? ” ; “ Yes ” ; “ You mean when we go ashore we carry them with us ? ” ; “ Yes ” ; “ Is this what you call a tourist card ? ” ; “ Yes ” ; “ We can’t leave them on the ship ? ” ; “ No ” ; “ Which of these is my tourist card ? ” ; “ Is this my tourist card ? ” ; “ Is this my tourist card ? ” ; “ Is this my tourist card?” . . . When that was over he admonished us about our behaviour . . . Most of you have never been out of your own country before,” he said. “Well, you mustn’t expect to find things exactly the same as they are back home.” The Mexican, he said, was a charming fellow if you treated him right. He was out to give us a good time ; we must do our share too. We wanted a good time ; the company wanted us to have a good time ; he spoke for the officers, the crew and the staff when he said we ought to have a good time. Well the secret of that was to make up our minds to have a good time. If we didn’t complain of the Mexican, he wouldn’t get sore with us and then we should not have so much to complain of. The Mexican was very proud. We must remember it was his country. If we had any criticisms we had better wait till we were back home and make them there. We might see a lot of things in Mexico that seemed strange to us. We mustn’t expect things to be the same as they were back home. “ Don’t go taking pictures of the poor.” There were plenty of things to take pic- tures of if we wanted to take pictures ; but not the poor. “ We’ve got our breadlines back home. We shouldn’t like it if anyone took pictures of them . . . Don’t start any arguments about religion or politics. The Mexicans are doing their best and they like to think they are being appreciated, same as we do . . .” It was very sound advice, and it provoked reflection. What exactly is the proper mood in which to approach a foreign country in these days? It is an important point, particularly to Americans and English for we are the great travel- ling race in whose interest all the tourist bureaux of the world are organized. It is interesting to read the travel books of fifty years ago and notice their air of tolerant or intolerant superiority. Perhaps at the time there was some justification for it ; now there is very little. The words progressive and backward have become confused in their meanings. The old idea was of universal, inevitable progress ; the nations were like horses at ‘ Minaroo ’, moving at varying speeds towards the same object ; sometimes one nation would have a run of luck, sometimes another. Britain at the moment was leading ; other races, like us in ambition, but lacking our courage, integrity and good sense, were just behind ; others, such as the hottentots, had barely started ; others, such as the Spanish and Chinese, had made fly-away starts but failed to hold the pace. Certain defects, in particular, held people back from success — aristocratic or autocratic forms of government, the Church of Rome, etc. All that they needed was revolution, capitalization and education. It was the duty of the more prosperous nations to lead and to lend . . . Alas, recent history has made it impossible for a thoughtful European to view the world with the same easy assurance. We have seen devils driven out and replaced by worse. Free Trade and the system of mobile financial credits scarcely exist ; representative institutions survive precariously only in the countries of their origin. And as for moral superiority . . . how about ourselves? What were the grounds on which we were used to censure the backward Latin-American republics? They neglected to pay their public debts; what European country can afford to be censorious about that today? A political career, in those dissolute communities, more often ended in murder than in a peerage and a pension; Dollfuss? Sotelo? Matteotti? the Romanoffs? Schleicher? the early Bolshevists and the early Nazis? Did a British Prime-Minister not win an election with the promise to hang the Kaiser? They neglected their legacy of art and archi- tecture ; how about England? Which is worse, the destruction that comes of poverty, or of riches? Bandits were still at large ; St. Valentine’s day in Chicago? The people were credulous and superstitious; what popular English paper can dispense with its astrological column? Education was a monopoly of the Church; which is the sounder, the catechism, or the race-mythology taught in half the schools of Europe today ? No, we must leave our superiority in bond when we cross the frontier ; it is no longer for importation to foreign countries. And there is another form of priggishness, too, with which we can dispense — the humbug of being unbiased. No one can grow to adult age without forming a set of opinions ; heredity, environment, education and experience all condition us ; the happiest are those who have allowed their opinions and beliefs to grow naturally ; the unhappy are those who accept intellectually a system with which they are out of sympathy. When we go abroad we take our opinions with us ; it is useless to pretend, as many writers do, that they arrive with minds wholly innocent of other experience ; are born anew into each new world. Nor do our readers desire it. There is nothing more repugnant to the English reader than to be obliged to form his own judgment afresh with each book he takes up. Indeed readers, bored with the privilege of a free press, have lately imposed on themselves a voluntary censorship ; they have banded themselves into Book Clubs so that they may be perfectly confident that whatever they read will be written with the intention of confirming their existing opinions. Let me, then, warn the reader that I was a Conservative when I went to Mexico and that everything I saw there strengthened my opinions. I believe that man is, by nature, an exile and will never be self-sufficient or complete on this earth ; that his chances of happiness and virtue, here, remain more or less constant through the centuries and, generally speaking, are not much affected by the political and economic conditions in which he lives ; that the balance of good and ill tends to revert to a norm ; that sudden changes of physical condition are usually ill, and are advocated by the wrong people for the wrong reasons ; that the intellectual communists of today have personal, irrelevant grounds for their antagonism to society, which they are trying to exploit. I believe in government ; that men cannot live together with- out rules but that these should be kept at the bare minimum of safety ; that there is no form of government ordained from God as being better than any other ; that the anarchic elements in society are so strong that it is a whole-time task to keep the peace. I believe that inequalities of wealth and position are inevitable and that it is therefore meaningless to discuss the advantages of their elimination ; that men naturally arrange themselves in a system of classes ; that such a system is necessary for any form of co-operative work, more particularly the work of keeping a nation together. I believe in nationality ; not in terms of race or of divine commissions for world conquest, but simply this : mankind inevitably organises itself into communities according to its geographical distribution ; these communities by sharing a common history develop common characteristics and inspire a local loyalty ; the individual family develops most happily and fully when it accepts these natural limits. I do not think that British prosperity must necessarily be inimical to anyone else, but if, on occasions, it is, I want Britain to prosper and not her rivals. I believe that war and conquest are inevitable ; that is how history has been made and that is how it will develop. I believe that Art is a natural function of man ; it so happens that most of the greatest art has appeared under systems of political tyranny, but I do not think it has a connection with any particular system, least of all with repre- sentative government, as nowadays in England, America and France it seems popular to believe ; artists have always spent some of their spare time in flattering the governments under whom they live, so it is natural that, at the moment, English, American and French artists should be volubly democratic. Having read this brief summary of the political opinions I took with me to Mexico, the reader who finds it unsympathetic may send the book back to her library and apply for something more soothing. Heaven knows, she will find plenty there. … WE are justly suspicious of people who see the world in terms of the single problem in which they have a personal interest and specialized knowledge. We saw too many of them in the post-Versailles period, people who espoused the cause of neglected minorities or became obsessed by cartographical slips. Their foibles seemed innocent enough, but the result of them has been a series of incongruous alliances which has aggravated every political situation. Thus Catholic anti- semites in France have found themselves defying the Pope and pleading the cause of Semitic Arabs against Christian rule, liberal Parliamentarians found themselves identifying the autocratic- imperialist rule of the Amharas with the cause of Democracy, champions of Basque nationalism were allied with international communism. Such are the confusions that arise through a piecemeal view of politics. At the beginning of this book I suggested that the present condition of Mexico had a world wide significance. In sub- sequent chapters I have tried to sketch the condi- tions. So what ? Why should any ordinary American, still less a European, be interested ? First there is Mexico’s geographical position, lying across the continent of North America separating the United States from the Panama Canal and sharing with her an immense, arbi- trarily defined frontier which has been the scene, on both sides of it, of a long succession of bloody outrages. Internal disorder in Mexico has always constituted, and will always constitute, a lively physical danger to the United States citizens living near the border. Hundreds of men are still living who followed Villa in his raids into the United States. Secondly there is her financial position. She bears debts of the New and Old world which she will never be able to pay. She is feverishly aug- menting them by confiscations. She has great mineral wealth, notably in petroleum, for which the world has a use and which it will use one way or another. Thirdly there is her political condition. For a generation there has been anarchy which has made it clear to herself and to outside observers that she has not the aptitude for the particular kind of individualist representative government which, it was assumed, would afford an eventual solution to her troubles. To President Wilson her only problem was to elect good men ; at his time there seemed only two kinds of government, one of which was discredited in 1918 ; there was democracy, as it was understood in France, England and the United States — government by rich men competing against one another for popular favour — and hereditary’ monarchy. Since then two forms of proletarian rule have appeared, Nazism and Communism. Mexico is at present enjoying an uneasy compromise between the two. Her adoption of either, or the outbreak of a civil war between them, would be an acute embarrassment to the United States.
Nor does the danger remain local. The Monroe doctrine is being challenged by Germany all over South America. Its peaceful acceptance in the first place by Europe was due to two main con- siderations. Communications across the Atlantic made a campaign there intolerably expensive and precarious, and, at the end of the last century, Europe was too busy parcelling up Africa to think about South and Central America. Since then an American army has fought in France. South America has become accessible as a battle-ground while at every point the German-Japanese alliance threatens vital American interests. An anti- Cardenas coup, which his policy increasingly pro- vokes, might well result in Mexico joining the anti-Comintern Pact. She is exactly the kind of country where Nazi methods of government and industrial organization might be expected to bring substantial results. Germany and Japan know this ; so do the United States ; so do a few Mexicans. It is in small countries, not in large ones, that world wars start ; particularly in heterogeneous states like Mexico. But, the reader may object, when there are so many causes for alarm, everywhere, what is the good of multiplying them with purely hypothetical dangers? Because the ordinary news services of paper and wireless bulletins have not the time to keep the public informed of anything beyond day to day news. When a crisis is announced we hastily turn to our atlases and look out the new danger spot. We feel that these sudden explosions of international enmity, first in one part of the world, then another, are as wantonly strewn about the map as the bombs of the I.R.A. We have not the time to watch them as historical events in a series of cause and effect. If we have not heard of the problem before, we see it as unimportant ; the result of some purely irresponsible and malicious agency. The truth is that, at this moment, when the papers are full of other things, Mexico is as dangerous to us as any part of the world. And secondly, there is the simple cautionary tale of the origin and consequences of Mexico’s decadence. Every state has something to learn from that. We were most of us brought up on the historical theory of recurrent waves of civilization which lasted a few centuries, built massive cities and tombs and were literally buried in the sands ; an ebbing and flowing tide, city-desert, city-desert, to which, presumably, our own culture would one day be subject, but at a date so distant that it need no more be considered in practical calculation than the Last Judgment. We were educated in the assump- tion that things would not only remain satisfactory without our effort but would with the very minimum of exertion on our part become unrecognizably better. The elimination of physical pain and privation was assumed not only by buoyant characters like Mr. H. G. Wells but by Mr. Aldous Huxley, who limited his apprehensions to pointing out that a life without pain and privation might be compensatingly dreary. Even at the time of writing when tempers are gloomier, the air is one of nervous vexation that progress should be checked by malicious intervention ; progress is still regarded as normal, decay as abnormal. The history of Mexico runs clean against these assumptions. We see in it the story of a people whom no great external disaster has overwhelmed. Things have gone wrong with them, as they went right with us, as though by a natural process. There is no distress of theirs to which we might not be equally subject. Some try to comfort themselves by supposing that the difference of races put Mexico at an initial disadvantage, but, in fact, it is difficult to find any stage at which this was decisive. The white Spaniards interbred freely with the Indians and the prestige and advantages attaching to white blood were little, if at all, more than those attaching to noble and gentle blood in contemporary Europe. As purely heraldic standards of eminence began to decline in Europe, so did those of racial purity in Spanish America. For the last hundred years Mexican leaders of all opinions have been white, Indian and mixed without distinction. Americans and British who see the colour question as vital to Mexico are arguing in terms of their own country and colonies. Nor has there been any lack of what are generally spoken of as ‘ enlightened ideas ’. Almost ever)’ unhappy figure, from Iturbide to Cardenas, who has appeared as a leader of the country, has spoken in the phrases of contemporary advanced thought. The country has known, in form at least, Napoleonic-masonic monarchy, liberal-representative democracy, German-enlightened-constitutional monarchy, international-individualist-capitalism, socialism, dictatorship of the proletariat, and, it seems probable, will shortly develop a species of Hitlerism. There is no question of Mexico decaying, as have other civilizations, by reason of a rigid system that has proved itself inadequate to changing needs. Every marked step in her decline, in fact, has corresponded with an experiment towards * the Left ’.
The reasons for her decline have been primarily moral ; the majority of her rulers have not been men of goodwill and their aims have been purely material ; if one starts by assuming that the only real good of which man is capable is the enjoyment of consumable goods — and that has been the assumption of the ‘ Left ’ for a hundred years it is a very easy step — logically an inevitable step — to accumulate the goods exclusively for oneself. Altruism does not flourish long without religion. The rulers of Mexico have almost all started by denying the primary hypothesis of just government. Secondly, in the political sphere, there has been no true conservatism in Mexico. There have been rival politicians appealing to the interests of rival groups. A conservative is not merely an obstructionist who wishes to resist the introduction of novelties ; nor is he, as was assumed by most nineteenth century parliamentarians, a brake to frivolous experiment. He has positive work to do, whose value is particularly emphasized by the plight of Mexico. Civilization has no force of its own beyond what is given it from within. It is under constant assault and it takes most of the energies of civilized man to keep going at all. There are criminal ideas and a criminal class in every nation and the first action of every revolution, figuratively and literally, is to open the prisons. Barbarism is never finally defeated ; given propitious circum- stances, men and women who seem quite orderly, will commit every conceivable atrocity. The danger does not come merely from habitual hooligans ; we are all potential recruits for anarchy. Unremitting effort is needed to keep men living together at peace ; there is only a margin of energy left over for experiment however beneficent. Once the prisons of the mind have been opened, the orgy is on. There is no more agreeable position than that of dissident from a stable society. Theirs are all the solid advantages of other people’s creation and preservation, and all the fun of detecting hypocrisies and inconsistencies. There are times when dis- sidents are not only enviable but valuable. The work of preserving society is sometimes onerous, sometimes almost effortless. The more elaborate the society, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and the more complete its collapse in case of defeat. At a time like the present it is notably precarious. If it falls we shall see not merely the dissolution of a few joint-stock corporations, but of the spiritual and material achievements of our history. There is nothing, except ourselves, to stop our own countries becoming like Mexico. That is the moral, for us, of her decay. ” Evelyn Waugh, Robbery Under Law: The Mexican Object Lesson; Preface, Introduction, & Postscript
Just as the presumption that sex approximates rape becomes more prevalent in American culture–between teens, for instance, or if anyone’s been drinking or tripping or otherwise indulging, if an encounter takes place between unequal partners or is in any way transactional–and so too the presumption of innocence for accused rapists has started to seem out of date and is definitely out of fashion among many who would hold themselves up as outstanding feminists, an account from Poynter.org about Rolling Stone‘s travails in its libel trial with a University of Virginia administrator whom a now (in)famous article from just under two years ago portrayed as something akin to callously insensitive to the so-called ‘rape victim’ from the article, “A Rape on Campus,” a piece of faux journalism that the magazine retracted and the Columbia Journalism Reviewstringently criticized in Spring, 2015, altogether a case of a cultural geist that ruins both the topic under consideration–human sexuality–and makes for bizarre and fantastical forays into reportage that can often assassinate any hope of consciousness or knowledge more generally, in the event a matter that local outlets are covering on a regular basis in the Virginia courthouse where the trial is ongoing, a now little noted comeuppance for mediated insistence on a ‘rape culture’ that can only yield travesties of justice for both actual rape victims and the hapless participants in the dallying dance of erotic energy who end up accused or in jail or both, components of a sociocultural cesspool to which scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens should pay attention if they value either their liberty or their pleasure, advice that blends in interesting fashion with a new video–available through Rolling Stone–-from “Pussy Riot” about the primacy of vaginas; a look at an all-too-often overlooked nook of the present pass, the courtroom dramas that unfold all about us, that in an entirely different vein is visible in a new Atlantic briefing that details the legal and electoral woes of Arizona’s fascist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who seems likely to lose his current race and possibly face prison thereafter for a charge of felony Contempt of a Federal Court Order.
This Day in History
Today is the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage; in a crowning moment for the entire fate of Christianity and Western Civilization, one thousand seven hundred four years ago, Constantine the Great supposedly received his famous Vision of the Cross; thirteen hundred six years back, Sardinia faced an invasion by Saracens from across the Mediterranean; the City of Amsterdam marks today as the seven hundred forty-first anniversary of its founding; five hundred thirty-one years behind us, the Dutch philosopher, poet, and educator Rodolphus Agricola, wrote his last verse; MORE HERE
A Thought for the Day
Each extension of ourselves, without exception, stems from the trunk of our actual transit through the universe’s manifestation of matter and space, whether such growth expresses fruition or truncation in a given instance a matter of interlocking aspects of fortune and capacity and cooperation, with friends and from the cosmos; an often overlooked or unknown conclusion from this truism of ‘personal development’ emanates from a wise acceptance of the multiplicity and variety that always call to anyone who opens eyes and mind and heart to what is possible, to wit that to suggest that a single branch of any life’s journey should merit total, or even primary, attention makes no more sense than insisting, or even merely hoping, that existence might ever remain a bright and brisk and cheery morning, when nothing whatsoever could occur that might uproot or prune the otherwise direct rising of leaf and twig to sunny ray and breezy breath of windy day.
development OR growth OR evolution transition OR transformation OR reform necessary OR requisite OR essential luck OR chance OR fortune sop OR elites OR "ruling class" OR establishment resistance OR rejection manipulation OR propaganda analysis OR explication history critique marxist OR radical = 2,580,000 Connections.
TODAY’S HEART, SOUL, & AWARENESS VIDEO
CLIMBING CLIFFS OF DISREGARD, JILL STEIN REACHES FOR THE REAL
As the protean proliferation of horseshit predominates all corporate mediation, replete with the chimera of choice that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton represent, a representation of manure as chocolate pie by the bye that both rational actors and random bypassers recognize implicitly, so that they reject the ReDemoPubliCratiCan candidacies handed to them on a manipulated plastic platter in unprecedented numbers, a lovely profferal from Mint Press News, two hours with Dr. Jill Stein in which, offering rejoinder to the third so-called debate, she shows that something other than bullshit is possible to present, an interlude that at once manifests real analysis and plans that regular people need and critiques and rebuts the combination of nonsense and vitriol that prevails from the fake candidates who are the ‘choices’ that we have in the fake Presidential contest, material to which scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens might readily add by referring to an hour-long segment from Dr. Stein that responded to the faux candidates’ second pretend debate, or by examining last Friday’s hour with The Young Turks, when Jill answered real questions from real people before both a live audience and plus or minus a million people on social media, or by hearkening back to the longer segment that C-SPAN made available to introduce third-party candidates, in the event both Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajama Baraka, a collection of viewing opportunities that not only ought scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens make mandatory, at the top of their queues, but also that they should find a way to act on and share widely enough to cause the sort of groundswell that is necessary to pull our asses from the fires of various hellish scenes that await us just ahead otherwise.
compensation: Pay is per project and is flat fee based, quoted ahead of time.
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Writing great autoresponder emails for law firms and attorney clients. Job requires you to interface with attorneys over the phone, and write the copy in their voice.
A Naked Capitalism repost of a blog by an insightful researcher who looks at the dire economic realities behind some folks economic ascent and others’ constant emiseration: ““The traditional approach says that educational attainment is a consequence of parental investment,” says Darity, “but it doesn’t explain how parents can feasibly make those investments.” The explanation he puts forth is a blow to the long-cherished view of America as a land of equal opportunity, where it’s not supposed to matter who your parents and grandparents are or how much money they have.
But that, says Darity, is the key. In his view, the capacity of parents and grandparents to invest in their children is contingent on their wealth position.”
A Farnam Street posting that looks at cognitive and learning processes that can be invaluable to scrappy scribes: “Do you want to come up with more imaginative ideas? Do you stumble with complicated problems? Do you want to find new ways to confront challenges?
Of course you do. So do I.
But when is the last time you thought about how you think?”
A Bloomberg article that looks at the dire straits that major tech and media companies are facing, in a climate that increasingly, along with everything else, becomes more hostile and untenable: “Things were different in Silicon Valley in the distant year of 2012, when iPhone sales were skyrocketing and you could still buy a house in Palo Alto for less than $2 million. Back then, most restaurants had menus, not tasting menus. Chief executive officers could say something grandiose at a tech conference without worrying about getting mocked on HBO six months later by the Beavis and Butt-head guy. And a talented entrepreneur could walk into a venture capitalist’s office, say his startup was a mobile-first solution for pretty much any problem (payments! photos! blogging!), and walk out with a good-size seed investment. “That pitch was enough to get going,” says Roelof Botha, a partner with VC firm Sequoia Capital. “It’s not enough anymore.””
A Defend Democracy Press analysis of the still volatile situation in Turkey that could easily lead to more instability soon on its way, due to more imperialistic intervention: “But Rubin’s “prophecies” may not ne just “prophecies”. They constitute also an indirect, still clear threat. Rubin and the AEI are anything but innocent observers. The same author has already written about the possibility of a coup in Turkey in March 2016, encouraging the Turkish army to go on with it. He was subsequently quoted by a relevant article by Peter Korzun, in May 2016. Finally, the “predicted” coup took place in July 2016!”
A Medium post that asks people to dare to imagine a greater future is possible, even in the face of insurmaountable dissappointment and darkness: “At its heart, cynicism is the belief that everyone is motivated by ill intentions, and by their own self-interest. It is the failure to believe in the empathy or goodwill of those around you.
But it’s greater than that. Cynicism is a trump card. It shuts down any and all conversation. It is the absence of a solution. It is the rejection of nuance. It’s essentially giving up, and I don’t like to give up. Especially not when there will be work to be done no matter the result this cycle.
“Father Daniel J. Berrigan, S.J., hero of the peace movement and award winning poet and writer, died April 30, 2016. From our archives we share an extended conversation with the priest about pacifism.Berrigan touched off a storm of controversy ln 1973 when, in an address to the Association of Arab University Graduates, he denounced the state of Israel as a “nightmare military-industrial complex . . . the creation of millionaires, generals, and entrepreneurs.” Berrigan’s remarks were, in turn, denounced by some of his former associates in the peace movement; Rabbi Arthur Herzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress, said the priest was guilty of “old-fashioned theological anti-Semitism.”
Early in January 1974, Father Berrigan took part in a discussion of his speech on New York City’s educational television station, WNET. Other participants were Professor Hans Morgenthau of the City University of New York, like Berrigan a prominent and steadfast opponent of American involvement in Vietnam, and John H. Hamilton, moderator of the WNET program “The Fifty-first State.” What follows is a slightly abridged transcript.—THE EDITORS
BERRIGAN: One reason that speech, famous or infamous as it may be, aroused so much controversy and so much really deep opposition, was that I was trying to raise some questions that are forbidden in the American community. Among those questions I would put first the uses and misuses of violence by any state Then I had to be willing to swallow hard and take on some of the tremendous difficulties of talking about Israel, knowing as I did the bloody history of the Jewish people and the bloody history of the state of Israel itself, and knowing the profound feeling of the American Jewish community with regard to Israel.
I didn’t do this thing lightly. And I tried my best to raise questions that would help both the Jewish and the non-Jewish community in what I considered to be a desperate breach of our country, and of Israel too.
HAMILTON: Father Berrigan, you not only raised some questions, but you made some statements. You called Israel “an imperial nation embarked on an imperial adventure.” Do you still stick by that statement?
BERRIGAN: In context, yes.
MORGENTHAU: It is one thing to raise certain questions in the abstract—especially theological, ethical questions—and it is quite something else to raise the same questions in the concrete context of a particular political and military situation. You start from the assumption, which the Judaic-Christian tradition shares, that the world is evil, that violence is evil. But you then pick out the particular evil—that evil which you see in Israel—and equate it with evil as such. And here, I think, lies an injustice, an ethical deficiency: If you were raising that question as I think it ought to be raised in justice, you would have to compare the evil you see in Israel with the evil you see elsewhere—more particularly, around Israel—and then arrive at a conclusion which the church fathers call a Conclusion of Prudence. But you focus upon one little spot, Israel, and you forget about all the rest. And this, I think, is dangerous.
My second point is that you haven’t got your facts straight. You are making statements which are demon.strably not correct. To call Israel a “monstrous military machine” is, I think, an injustice, and incorrect empir.ically. The ethos of the Old Testament is certainly very much alive in Israel. If you look at the social and eco.nomic innovations in the form of the kibbutzim, you see an attempt to realize at least a modicum of justice in a world which is by its very nature evil.
You argue from your Vietnam experience, and from my Vietnam experience, where the evil of violence was virtually unmitigated. Generally violence in human history has a certain justification. Sometimes it is an invalid justification, sometimes it is a valid one. It is the senselessness of the slaughter of Vietnam that outraged you, as it outraged me.
BERRIGAN: These are also very serious points with me, I assure you. First, it seems to me that one can’t really have a grab-bag of causes. There are causes, which are related to one’s immediate life and there are causes which are out there in the great world, and one obviously can’t take up everything. The question of Israel was a very important one for me because of my own background, because of my own training, because of my own meditation, my own knowledge of the Old Testament. And because in my active life as a priest, I had been close, extremely close, to the intellectual and religious community of the Jews in America.
Politically speaking, I felt that it was not in the best interests of Israel to pursue this Nixonian ethos, this Nixonian lying in the world, and to join with other countries as a kind of ring of control dreamed up by Kissinger and Nixon. So, I felt it was time for me to speak about Israel.
About violence—my experience and yours in the 1960s leads me to believe that if we are to err as Americans on any side in our critique of other countries, it should be in the direction of being skeptical and suspicious about the claims of violence. We have seen what violence does. I do not see an essential difference between the death of a Vietnamese and the death of an Israeli. I think slaughter is indivisible in its horror. I think I am justified in saying, “Stop here!”
MORGENTHAU: You don’t, then, deny the Catholic doctrine of just war?
BERRIGAN: I deny it entirely, as indeed the Vatican Council has denied it, and returned us to the gospel of nonviolence.
MORGENTHAU: Of absolute nonviolence?
BERRIGAN: Pope John said there is no circumstance in modern life in which war can be looked upon as a just resolution of human conflict. I start there.
MORGENTHAU : But then, what would the Pope counsel a country surrounded by other countries that are resolved to destroy it? Are you going to use no violence, are you going to sit, are you going to join the six million dead and say, “There are two million more dead for your disposal”? How do you deal with this problem practically? Put yourself in the position of an Israeli.
BERRIGAN: I’m trying to. It seems to me that if anything has been made clear since 1967, it is that the continuation of the death game is useless except to multiply the dead on both sides. As those who are not immediately involved, our best service is to counsel a third way, and to get some sort of accommodation going on both sides.
MORGENTHAU: But, of course, the question is what is the third way when you have on the one side the remnant of a nation that refuses to die, and on the other side a large mass of people who, under the guise of justice and restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, really are resolved to destroy Israel.
BERRIGAN: I’m not sure that that resolution is so firm.
MORGENTHAU: There is very little doubt that this is what the leaders of the Arab world have in mind. Take the statement of the Egyptian foreign minister that Israel doesn’t belong in the Middle East. Where is it going to go? This is the question that really led to the creation of Israel after World War II, when the remnants of those six million, those who happened to survive the slaughter, were packed into ships which went from port to port, and nobody wanted them.
BERRIGAN: I know, I know. . . .
MORGENTHAU: They were human garbage, as it were, and they were smuggled into Palestine because that was the only place they could go. And aside from the moral and enormously strong allegiance of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the Promised Land. . . .
HAMILTON : Father Berrigan, the Jewish anti-war movement and the Jewish members of this movement were among your strongest allies when you were protesting the Vietnam war. Do you understand how some of them now could feel that you have turned against them?
BERRIGAN: Well, I understand all kinds of feelings because I’ve shared them, at least to a degree. Certainly in the 1960s I had a very harsh taste of what it was to be a minority figure and what it was to be hunted and to be in jail and to be in courts. I’m not altogether apart from that experience. My feeling is, though, that I should not be the issue. It was not the point of helping me, as though I were somebody off on a drug trip or somebody in need of mental care. I was trying to put my life somewhere. And if the Jewish communities, among other communities, joined me, that was an effort to humanize themselves as well.
I reject utterly the idea that one has to go from protest against the Vietnam war to a kind of automatic acceptance of other points of view—that if one was against the Vietnam war he must be pro-abortion and pro-Israel and pro-this, and so on. I don’t think it’s that easy.
MORGENTHAU: I fully agree with you.
BERRIGAN: And I’m really trying to invite the Jewish community to a deeper integration of consciousness— as well as my own community, as well as all America.
HAMILTON: Professor Morgenthau, I believe you fled Nazi Germany. . . .
MORGENTHAU: I didn’t really flee it. I anticipated it and I left the year before Hitler came to power.
HAMILTON: So you know something about the arrogance of power and violence that Father Berrigan is. . . .
MORGENTHAU: But you see, we are talking about violence as some kind of abstraction. There are all kinds of violence. God asked Abraham to slaughter his son, which is violence. You made the point that present Israel betrays the prophetic tradition. But the prophets operated within a more or less secure political and military framework. And the Old Testament is full of victories over the Philistines and the Moabites and other people around. So, the idea that all of a sudden you can ask Israelis, of all people, to be the first to establish the Kingdom of God without violence, is a counsel for suicide. It is impractical, and I find it unworthy of your intellectual acumen.
BERRIGAN: I might respond that the present course which you are advocating is equally suicidal and perhaps, politically speaking, even more so. I don’t see how a long, endless series of armed clashes between these two peoples is going to guarantee life, borders, wellbeing for any side.
MORGENTHAU: With this I would most certainly agree.
BERRIGAN: And I am urging peace-making on both sides.
MORGENTHAU: But to say this is one thing and to attack Israel for taking care of its political and military security is quite another. We leave Israel standing there naked, in military and political terms. Certainly Israel has the same right as any other country, in this evil world of violence, to arm itself with those instruments of violence which it thinks necessary to defend itself.
BERRIGAN: As in the case of the United States, any country is probably a poor judge in its own case, and outside critique in times of conflict is desperately necessary. No one is asking Israel to go naked. I am really seeking a mitigation of violence on both sides by the understanding, maybe within Israel, that there are friends around the world who believe there are other ways than killing—and thereby, it seems to me, reinforcing the life-giving energies of Israel itself. I don’t believe that General Dayan speaks for the true tradition of Israel.
MORGENTHAU: Well, what you are saying now you did not say in that speech.
BERRIGAN : Well, I say it now.
MORGENTHAU : I think you could have avoided a lot of misunderstanding and resentment if you had said then what you said just now.
There is another point, coming back to the problem of evil which you see in Israel: Look at the evil which the Arabs did to the Jews before 1967, when Jordan occupied East Jerusalem. The synagogues were destroyed or transformed into comfort stations. The ancient Jewish cemeteries were destroyed and the stones were used to pave roads. Which bishop protested against this? Which Protestant minister found this intolerable? But when the Jews, the Israelis, try to defend themselves, this is an outrage.
There is an element of anti-Semitism here in which it is not the individual Jew who is pointed at, but in which a whole people composed of Jews is pointed at as a kind of outcast, a kind of outlaw who does terrible things that no other nation is doing. This is a fantasy, and anti-Semitism is based on certain pseudo-religious fantasies.
HAMILTON: Father Berrigan, you have been accused by some of making anti-Semitic statements. Do you consider yourself anti-Semitic?
BERRIGAN: NO. I am about as anti-Semitic as I am anti-Catholic. This is a very cruel epithet to have hurled at one—probably the worst that could be hurled at me, and quite wounding.
It seems to me that Professor Morgenthau’s remarks about the horrors perpetrated on Israelis by the Arabs reinforce what we already know in another context— that war is man at his very worst, at his most horrifying, at his most brutal, and that this will always be true. As technology grants us more ways of doing this, we’ll do it more horribly than before. But to talk of belligerence here and horror there doesn’t really shed much light; we’re required to get beyond that and suggest how else we can act, especially in circumstances of great conflict. That is our office, the one that I am trying to exercise.
HAMILTON: Father Berrigan, you have been quoted as having accused the Israelis of adopting, in effect, the racist ideology of the Nazis against the Arabs.
BERRIGAN: The word “Nazi” was never used. I can’t think of the exact quote, but there have been words used by Israelis about Arabs that are racist. I don’t find anything spectacular in that. In war, the first casualty is the truth about the other side.
HAMILTON : You did accuse the Israelis of racist ideology?
BERRIGAN: Yes, racist language—
HAMILTON: DO you think you went too far or were too harsh in that regard?
BERRIGAN : No.
MORGENTHAU: If you had to make that speech again, would you make it the way you made it, or have you learned something from the experience?
BERRIGAN: I’ve learned a great deal, not merely about myself but about the community—and, specifically, the American Jewish community—that has made me very sober about the whole question. I can think of nothing, essentially, that I would want to retract, but I would want to add something: I don’t think I conveyed my sense of love for Israel and for the Jewish people, which is very deep. I did say at one point that my speech was an act of love, of outraged love, but I should have developed that more. And I should have spoken more about my admiration for the social achievements and the agricultural and industrial achievements of Israel, especially in those early years when it was so difficult.
MORGENTHAU: And you might have said something about the Palestinian refugees who have been kept artificially in the status of refugees for political reasons. Imagine, for a moment, that the West German government had, in the late 1940s, put all the refugees from the East into camps and said, “We don’t care about them. We will wait until their legitimate rights are restored. Let the United Nations give them subsistence.” And imagine that this would have gone on for twenty-five years. What would we have said of the ethics of the West German government? Yet this is what the Arab governments have done, though they are swimming in money and have enormous territories. They have done it brutally for only one purpose—-to have a dagger with which to stab at the heart of Israel.
BERRIGAN: I think, again, you simplify a question that has implications for Israel as well, but. . . .
HAMILTON: YOU have mentioned the reaction to the speech you made. What has it taught you?
BERRIGAN: In my worst moments, I think a great deal of this hate mail has to do with an effort to warn me and others to keep quiet and keep off the subject. I don’t want to discount the fact that with more or less deliberation I stepped in where it was forbidden to step in. I took a chance, you know. But, on the other hand, I don’t think it’s a rational response for people to say that this man is functioning suddenly out of hatred, or irrationality, or anti-Semitism, or insanity. think the supposition about someone like myself ought to be, “Well, he certainly irritated us, and he probably was wrong on a lot of points, but maybe he’s worth listening to.”
Today is the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage; in a crowning moment for the entire fate of Christianity and Western Civilization, one thousand seven hundred four years ago, Constantine the Great supposedly received his famous Vision of the Cross; thirteen hundred six years back, Sardinia faced an invasion by Saracens from across the Mediterranean; the City of Amsterdam marks today as the seven hundred forty-first anniversary of its founding; five hundred thirty-one years behind us, the Dutch philosopher, poet, and educator Rodolphus Agricola, wrote his last verse; not always a venue noted for tolerance, Geneva four hundred sixty-three years before the here-and-now burned scientist, humanist, and polymath Michael Servetus at the stake for the unforgiveable crime of study and knowledge; Philadelphia came into existence a hundred twenty-nine years later, in 1682, across the Atlantic in England’s Pennsylvania colony; two hundred twenty-one years ahead of today, the young United States and Spain signed a treaty in Madrid to establish borders between the U.S. and Spanish colonies; fifteen years further on, in 1810, the U.S. annexed West Florida; a hundred seventy-eight years prior to the present pass, Missouri’s Governor issued an extermination order which threatened to murder all Mormons who did not leave the State; six years hence, in 1844, a baby boy came into the world on his way to becoming Klas Pontus Arnoldson, the Nobel Prize laureate and celebrated journalist and politician; at the battle of Metz twenty-six years afterward, in 1870, nearly 150,000 French soldiers surrendered to German armies in France’s greatest defeat of the Franco Prussian War; one hundred twelve years ago, the first New York transit line that ran underground opened to riders; almost a decade subsequent to that juncture, in 1913, a male infant came into the world who would grow up as the Crow, Indian thinker and leader, Joe Medicine Crow; three hundred sixty-five days hence precisely, in 1914, the baby boy who matured into poet Dylan Thomas was born; half a dozen years after that, in 1920, Philadelphia textile companies fired upwards of 40,000 workers whom they accused of ‘radicalism,’ an act perfectly in tune with Federal policy of Palmer raids and other attacks at the same time; Rhodesia two years henceforth, in 1922, rejected a union with South Africa, and the baby girl was born who would mature as the iconic singer, thinker, poet, and activist, Ruby Dee; eight years beyond that juncture, in 1930, negotiators for five major capitalist powers ‘agreed’ to ‘limit’ naval arms developments; seven hundred thirty-one days thereafter, in 1932, the infant female who wrote the chilling poetry of Sylvia Plath uttered her first cry; four years closer to the current context, in 1936, a male child gave a first cry en route to journalistic prominece—helping to publish the Pentagon Papers—as Neal Sheehan; three years still closer to now, in 1939, a baby boy bounced into the world on his way to becoming brilliant writer, comedian, actor, screenwriter, and producer who became famous for co-creating Monty Python’s Flying Circus, John Cleese; one more year along the temporal path, in 1940, a female infant took a first breath on her way to prolific output as writer and essayist Maxine Hong Kingston; two years henceforth, in 1942, the estimable German fascist resistor Helmuth Hubener met his untimely end at the hands of Nazis; three years more proximate to today, in 1945, an infant first cried out whose destiny it was to become the politician and future Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; three years after that point in time, in 1948, Leopold Senghor assumed leadership of Senegal with a doctrine that he and others developed as Negritude; three years yet more proximate to the present instant, in 1951, Black leaders in Cincinnati formed the National Negro Labor Council in order to challenge the discrimination and White Supremacy that characterized both the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations; a single year further along, in 1952, the boy infant who became philosopher and teacher Francis Fukuyama and predicted ‘history’s end’ was born, as was the Italian baby who would become the beloved filmmaker and screenwriter Roberto Benigni; only a year after that, in 1953, England conducted its second nuclear weapons test in Australia; five years still closer to today’s light and air, in 1958, the first president of Pakistan was deposed in a bloodless coup; three years hence, meanwhile, in 1961, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration carried out its first launch of a Saturn Rocket; a year later on the dot, in 1962, while flying a U-2 spy plane over Cuba during the Missile Crisis, a U.S. pilot died when a surface to air missile destroyed his aircraft; just two years subsequently, in 1964, Ronald Reagan launched his political career with a speech that extolled Republican Presidential aspirant Barry Goldwater; two years still nearer to now, in 1966, the baby male entered the world in standard fashion who would eventually rock the blogosphere as conservative writer and gadfly, Matt Drudge; just one year onward, in 1967, Daniel Berrigan led a group of four protesters to pour blood on Selective Service records in Baltimore; eight years beyond that, in 1975, the popular American detective novelist Rex Stout breathed his last; thirty-five years prior to the present pass; a Soviet submarine ran aground off Sweden; regulators in London eleven years past that day, in 1986, radically deregulated financial markets, foretelling several decades of amplified financialization and volatility in the monopoly money arena; Ronald Reagan, toward the end of his second Presidency, two single years later on, in 1988, ordered the razing of the U.S.’s Moscow embassy because of listening devices implanted in its walls; five years hence, in 1993, a gay military radio operator died at the hands of a homophobic comrade, a brutal murder the upshot of which was the policy of “don’t-ask, don’t-tell” in the armed services; four years ahead of that, in 1997, the stock markets around the world crashed due to fears of a global meltdown; eleven years back, riots erupted in Paris to protest the killing by police of two Muslim youth; five years ago, famed critic and psychologist James Hillman came to his end; two years later, in 2013, iconic singer-songwriter Lou Reed breathed his last.