Saturday, February 28, 2015

CPAC is wall to wall:

"Do unto others as you'd never want them to do unto you." 

"Nuke your enemies and pray that they'll go to hell."

"If you have money lend it to people at usurious rates so you can take them for everything they've got and will ever have."

"Blasted are the poor."

"Blasted are the peace makers."

"Make the little children suffer so we can make money off of their incarceration."

"That which you do unto the least among you had better be as bad as you can make it." Etc.

CPAC is the embodiment of the anti-Christ 

we wish to be just as it pleased our Creator to have made us, and no avaricious and unmerciful wretches, have any business to make slaves of or hold us in slavery

It has been typical up till now to see a white face on the abolitionist movement, as if those held in slavery and who were in danger of being abducted into slavery had only a supporting role to play in resisting the institution they were the primary victims of.  That is one of the things I hope will be corrected as more primary source material becomes available online.  There must be be huge numbers of documents, written by slaves, former slaves, family and friends of slaves, black ministers, that could tell us a lot about how the most crucial obstacle to resistance to slavery was broken and the slaves, themselves, risked everything to free themselves and others held in slavery.    Here's part of one thing I've found,  from David Walker's 1829 Appeal
Oh! pity us we pray thee, Lord Jesus, Master.—Has Mr. Jefferson declared to the world, that we are inferior to the whites, both in the endowments of our bodies and of minds? It is indeed surprising, that a man of such great learning, combined with such excellent natural parts, should speak so of a set of men in chains. I do not know what to compare it to, unless, like putting one wild deer in an iron cage, where it will be secured, and hold another by the side of the same, then let it go, and expect the one in the cage to run as fast as the one at liberty. So far, my brethren, were the Egyptians from heaping these insults upon their slaves, that Pharaoh's daughter took Moses, a son of Israel, for her own, as will appear by the following.
"And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, [Moses' mother] take this child away, and nurse it for me and I will pay thee thy wages. And the woman took the child [Moses] and nursed it.
"And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said because I drew him out of the water."
In all probability, Moses would have become Prince Regent to the throne, and no doubt, in process of time but he would have been seated on the throne of Egypt. But he had rather suffer shame, with the people of God, than to enjoy pleasures with that wicked people for a season. O! that the colored people were long since of Moses' excellent disposition, instead of courting favor with, and telling news and lies to our natural enemies, against each other—aiding them to keep their hellish chains of slavery upon us. Would we not long before this time, have been respectable men, instead of such wretched victims of oppression as we are? Would they be able to drag our mothers, our fathers, our wives, our children and ourselves, around the world in chains and hand-cuffs as they do, to dig up gold and silver for them and theirs? This question, my brethren, I leave for you to digest; and may God Almighty force it home to your hearts. Remember that unless you are united, keeping your tongues within your teeth, you will be afraid to trust your secrets to each other, and thus perpetuate our miseries under the christians!!!!! ☞ Addition,—Remember, also to lay humble at the feet of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, with prayers and fastings. Let our enemies go on with their butcheries, and at once fill up their cup. Never make an attempt to gain our freedom or natural right, from under our cruel oppressors and murderers, until you see your way clear; when that hour arrives and you move, be not afraid or dismayed; for be you assured that Jesus Christ the king of heaven and of earth who is the God of justice and of armies, will surely go before you. And those enemies who have for hundreds of years stolen our rights, and kept us ignorant of Him and His divine worship, he will remove. Millions of whom, are this day, so ignorant and avaricious, that they cannot conceive how God can have an attribute of justice, and show mercy to us because it pleased Him to make us black—which color, Mr. Jefferson calls unfortunate!!!!!! As though we are not as thankful to our God for having made us as it pleased himself, as they (the whites) are for having made them white. They think because they hold us in their infernal chains of slavery that we wish to be white, or of their color—but they are dreadfully deceived—we wish to be just as it pleased our Creator to have made us, and no avaricious and unmerciful wretches, have any business to make slaves of or hold us in slavery. How would they like for us to make slaves of, or hold them in cruel slavery, and murder them as they do us? But is Mr. Jefferson's assertion true? viz. "that it is unfortunate for us that our Creator has been pleased to make us black." We will not take his say so, for the fact. The world will have an opportunity to see whether it is unfortunate for us, that our Creator has made us darker than the whites.
Fear not the number and education of our enemies, against whom we shall have to contend for our lawful right; guaranteed to us by our Maker; for why should we be afraid, when God is, and will [pg 23]continue (if we continue humble) to be on our side?
The man who would not fight under our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in the glorious and heavenly cause of freedom and of God—to be delivered from the most wretched, abject and servile slavery, that ever a people was afflicted with since the foundation of the world, to the present day—ought to be kept with all of his children or family, in slavery, or in chains, to be butchered by his cruel enemies. ☜
I saw a paragraph, a few years since, in a South Carolina paper, which, speaking of the barbarity of the Turks it said: "The Turks are the most barbarous people in the world—they treat the Greeks more likebrutes than human beings." And in the same paper was an advertisement, which said: "Eight well built Virginia and Maryland Negro fellows and four wenches will positively be sold this day to the highest bidder!" And what astonished me still more was, to see in this same humane paper!! the cuts of three men, with clubs and budgets on their backs, and an advertisement offering a considerable sum of money for their apprehension and delivery. I declare it is really so funny to hear the Southerners and Westerners of this country talk about barbarity, that it is positively, enough to make a man smile.

he typical use that David Walker's words would be put to, today, is to use his attempt to shame Christians to act as the words of the Gospel command them to do to discredit the very arguments he was making.  To expropriate his weapons against slavery for ends he never intended.  Walker was calling on slave holders  to do justice, equally and impartially to treat those they held in slavery as they would have themselves treated, using the Exodus narrative to point out the especially barbaric nature of American slavery.  To reduce his criticism of Christians who were not acting according to the teachings of Jesus into a weapon to attack Christianity would be to negate his attack on slavery.

I used to have an irrational and unfounded faith that the good things that happened in history, especially such rare hard things as the formal abolition of slavery, just, somehow happened and that, as Jurgen Habermas implied, they can happen without regard for the particular means by which they happened in history, in the places those happened.   That was a faith founded merely on a generalized sense of fairness - the idea that it could have happened anywhere if it occurred to the people, since we are all equal and a superficial knowledge of how the anti-slavery struggle happened.  But reading more of the primary material left by those who struggled and, against enormous interests, habits and even such scientific thinking as Jefferson was considered to practice, I think that the sources of their inspiration and, especially, what fueled their resolve to make the enormous sacrifice and effort cannot be pushed aside to make up some generalized assertion that those are unimportant.

I have, a number of times, pointed to the counter document to this one and all of the others I've been presenting this month, the 1865 essay written just as the forces of reaction against emancipation were gathering, by the eminent scientist and Charles Darwin's right hand man and enforcer, Thomas Huxley, in which he asserts, on the basis of natural selection, that abolition would deprive slaves of the protection of those with a financial interest in them and in a modern struggle for existence, based on brain power, they were doomed.   That argument was not a one-off, it became commonly believed in science through those promoting natural selection and its entirely accepted logical conclusion, eugenics, which early became and remained mainstream science.   The eugenics campaigns had some of their greatest successes in ending the lines of members of racial minorities, even, as I've documented, in such places as Vermont, places which, now, are entirely unaware of what was done there in the name of science, modernism and even with the pose of scientific humanism, and that it continues far after that.   I think the idea that we have outgrown the arguments that were effective in forcing legal equality in even the limited way that abolition turned out to be is grotesquely premature and uninformed.   When science can reestablish the worst of racism as it did in the late 19th and 20th centuries, when, even in the post war period, such eminent, post-Nazi era scientists as Francis Crick could campaign for legally enforced racism, calling for inequality in fact and action, we're not safe from that kind of thing.

Note:  I'm considering extending my series about eugenics into the post-war period but it's going to be a major effort and as still living people will be named it's a bit more complex than dealing with those who are safely dead and beyond legal threatening.   Reading Crick going on in letters about how reading Karl Pearson on Francis Galton was inspirational to him, in the 1970s, as he was advocating scientific racism and being lauded as a great humanist is pretty scary. Racism, inequality, is not in the past, it just changed its vocabulary and forms.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lost World: I Love Clifford Simak's Humane Science Fiction

I recommend the Simak story, A Death In The House on page 84.  Humane science fiction.  Having old magazines from my childhood online reminds me of what the mind of people who grew up reading instead of watching TV was like.

Hate Mail File

Apparently it's forbidden to point out that 83 year old men who are really sick sometimes die, especially when they have a terminal illness.   Geesh, who knew?   When is it permitted to point that out?  When they're 103? 

Leonard Nimoy's Mameloshn: A Yiddish Story

Good Lord, He was 83 And Suffering With COPD

Oh, I have a feeling Leonard Nimoy is doing just fine in the afterlife.  It's pretty funny that people don't realize he was very serious about his religion, I mean, he didn't make any secret of it.   I expect he's telling Roddenberry, I told you so. 

No one lives forever, he had a good life and did lots of good.  

Update:  The way people are going on about it.  It reminds me of the old lady who lived in her old house, her daughter wanted her to move to a retirement place and she wanted to stay in her house.

"But something might happen,"  her daughter said.

"Something always does happen," she sensibly pointed out. 

Our Radical Past Buried Alive - The Great Lane Theological Seminary Debates On Abolition

It is one of the worst parts of the collective, received amnesia Americans have about our real radical history that so little is known about the part that the Protestant mainstream churches, especially the Calvinists played in that history of real and productive radicalism.  I think it is a real radical legacy that would find more fertile ground in the United States than the romantic, when not fictitious left I've been dealing with earlier this week.  Religion is an ongoing concern in the United States, even the abducted and disappeared liberal protestant tradition that's supposed to be on life support to have the power cut any time now.  Oh, yeah, it's an ongoing concern in the way that Marxism, anarchism, various other would be radical isms, are not and have never been.

It is a real shame that no transcript of the epic debate over slavery, abolition and colonization of slaves to Liberia was kept.  Considering the massive scope of the debate, the incredible effort involved and the fact that it took place in what was, in 1834, the sticks, on the very frontier between free soil and slave power the effort is astonishing.  I would like to know of any similar effort being undertaken by college students today.  It is certainly one of the key events in the history of American abolitionism, little known today, which led, among other things, to the establishment of Oberlin College as a hotbed of abolitionism and an early center of equal education.   Here, from a pamphlet containing the speech of one of the participants, a divinity student, son of a slave owner, James A. Thome of Kentucky, with a description of the debates and other material is a description of the format of the debates.


Lane Seminary, Walnut Hill, near Cincinnati, Ohio, March 10, 1334. 

Brother Leavitt — Many of your readers are undoubtedly interested in whatever concerns this rising institution. Therefore, I send you the following. Slavery and its proposed remedies — immediate abolition and colonization, have been subjects of occasional remark among the students, since the commencement of the late term (June). A flourishing Colonization Society has existed among us almost from the foundation of the institution. Our interest in these topics increased gradually until about the first of February, when it was resolved that we discuss publicly the merits of the colonization and abolition schemes. At this time, there were but few decided abolitionists in the Seminary. The two following questions were discussed, separately : 

1st. " Ought the people of the Slaveholding States to abolish Slavery immediately?" 

2d. '"Are the doctrines, tendencies, and measures of the American Colonization Society, and the influence of its principal supporters, such as render it worthy of the patronage of the Christian public?" 

Our respected faculty, fearing the effect the discussion would have upon the prosperity of the Seminary, formally advised, that it should be postponed indefinitely. But the students, feeling great anxiety that it should proceed, and being persuaded from the state of feeling among them, that it would be conducted in a manner becoming young men looking forward to the ministry of the gospel of reconciliation, resolved to go on. The President, and the members of the faculty, with one exception, were present during parts of the discussion. 

Each question was debated nine evenings of two hours and a half each ; making forty-five hours of solid debate. We possessed some facilities for discussing both these questions intelligently. We are situated within one mile of a slaveholding State; eleven of our number were born and brought up in slave States, seven of whom were sons of slaveholders, and one of them was himself a slaveholder, till recently ; one of us had been a slave, and had bought his freedom, " with a great sum," which his own hands had earned ; ten others had lived more or less in slave States, besides several who had traveled in the midst of slavery, making inquiries and searching after truth. 

We possessed all the numbers of the African Repository, from its commencement, nearly all the Annual Reports of the Colonization Society, and the prominent documents of the Anti-Slavery Society. In addition to the above, our kind friends in the city, furnished us with Colonization pamphlets in profusion. Dr. Shane, a young gentleman of Cincinnati, who had been out to Liberia, with a load of emigrants, as an agent of the Colonization Society, furnished us with a long statement concerning the colony ; and a distinguished instructress, recently of Hartford, Connecticut, now of Cincinnati, sent us a communication from her hand, which attempted to prove, that Colonizationists and Abolitionists ought to unite their efforts, and not contend against one another. — 
These were our materials. And, sir, it was emphatically a discussion of facts, facts, FACTS. 

So, you can see, it was no "Oxford style debate" for the entertainment of the participants but a long, concerted effort by seminary students to find The Truth that would set people free.  I can't imagine the attention span of today's "reality community" extending for the first two hours.   Few facts would be involved, soundbites, factoids and slogans of common received non-wisdom would take the place of those.  It would be Stephen Fry level erudition.

The results were conclusive, almost all of the those who took part in or heard the debate came down for abolition of slavery as the only moral course to take.  They formed an anti-slavery society, the trustees of the Lane Theological Seminary cracked down, fearing a loss of financial support and involving the institution in the hottest political and financial controversy at the time - choosing the world over the soul of the institution - and about 75 our of 100 students left, a large part of them going over to Oberlin College and continuing to struggle against slavery.

I would encourage you to make you way through the pamphlet because it really is remarkable to read what the sons of slave owners concluded, obviously to their own financial disadvantage because they believed they were religiously required to take an active part in opposing slavery.  From the little I've been able to look at, the material that needs to be brought out and made known to reclaim our real radical heritage is overwhelming.  Here is a site of links to resources just for this one incident.  A few of the links don't work but most of them do.

Update:  "So the Triumph of Expediency over Right May Soon Terminate"

from  "Statement of Reasons," to which fifty-one students attached their signatures.

"Finally, we would respectfully remind the trustees, that even though students of a theological seminary, we should be treated as men—that men, destined for the service of the world, need, above all things in such an age an this, the pure and impartial, the disinterested and magnanimous, the uncompromising and fearless—in combination with the gentle and tender spirit and example of Christ; not parleying with wrong, but calling it to repentance; not flattering the proud, but pleading the cause of the poor. And we record the hope that the glorious stand taken upon the subject of discussion, and up to the close of the last session, maintained by the institution may be early resumed, that so the triumph of expediency over right may soon terminate, and Lane Seminary be again restored to the glory of its beginning.

"CINCINNATI, Dec. 15, 1834."

The Genealogy of Neo-Liberalism

The line leading from the lunatic anarchism of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman back to Friedrich Nietzsche led to me reading through some of him again, some of which I haven't looked at for decades.  It also led me to consider how many of the various "leftists" of the past century* shared an admiration for Nietzsche's insane thinking with those on the right, up to and including Mussolini, Alfred Rosenberg and other fascists and Nazis.  Clearly it isn't the logical coherence of his thinking that attracted them,  nor is there anything logical in the range of his admirerers and users,  any "feminist" who could think Nietzsche has anything good to offer to women probably hasn't read him, something that would seem to be common to many of today's lefty admirers of the barm pot.

I think the real motive for all of them was a hatred of Christianity, his declaration of the death of God and his rejection of morality - something that is congenial to a fascist or Nazi rightist but is certainly a fatal flaw in anyone's program for the left.  It is certainly what motivated that Goldman rant about morality I linked to yesterday.

In thinking more about it, I think that the writing of Friedrich Nietzsche is far less a philosophy than it is a virology work up of a diseased mind and the spread of its pathology into other people and the general world.  I would like to be able to study the idea more to see how far it holds that anyone promoted as being a figure of the left who builds on, depends on or holds up the writing of Nietzsche will turn out to have been and, so, can be expected to be a disaster for the real left.  As a specimen, here's another passage from Beyond Good and Evil.  Note this declaration, in particular.  " Indeed, with the help of a religion which has humoured and flattered the sublimest desires of the herding-animal, things have reached such a point that we always find a more visible expression of this morality even in political and social arrangements: the DEMOCRATIC movement is the inheritance of the Christian movement. "

As noted here earlier this week, Habermas  also noticed the geneology of democracy as a Christian heritage, though he sees democracy as a good thing.   Not Nietzsche, though.

202. Let us at once say again what we have already said a hundred times, for people's ears nowadays are unwilling to hear such truths—OUR truths. We know well enough how offensive it sounds when any one plainly, and without metaphor, counts man among the animals, but it will be accounted to us almost a CRIME, that it is precisely in respect to men of "modern ideas" that we have constantly applied the terms "herd," "herd-instincts," and such like expressions. What avail is it? We cannot do otherwise, for it is precisely here that our new insight is. We have found that in all the principal moral judgments, Europe has become unanimous, including likewise the countries where European influence prevails in Europe people evidently KNOW what Socrates thought he did not know, and what the famous serpent of old once promised to teach—they "know" today what is good and evil. It must then sound hard and be distasteful to the ear, when we always insist that that which here thinks it knows, that which here glorifies itself with praise and blame, and calls itself good, is the instinct of the herding human animal, the instinct which has come and is ever coming more and more to the front, to preponderance and supremacy over other instincts, according to the increasing physiological approximation and resemblance of which it is the symptom. MORALITY IN EUROPE AT PRESENT IS HERDING-ANIMAL MORALITY, and therefore, as we understand the matter, only one kind of human morality, beside which, before which, and after which many other moralities, and above all HIGHER moralities, are or should be possible. Against such a "possibility," against such a "should be," however, this morality defends itself with all its strength, it says obstinately and inexorably "I am morality itself and nothing else is morality!" Indeed, with the help of a religion which has humoured and flattered the sublimest desires of the herding-animal, things have reached such a point that we always find a more visible expression of this morality even in political and social arrangements: the DEMOCRATIC movement is the inheritance of the Christian movement. That its TEMPO, however, is much too slow and sleepy for the more impatient ones, for those who are sick and distracted by the herding-instinct, is indicated by the increasingly furious howling, and always less disguised teeth-gnashing of the anarchist dogs, who are now roving through the highways of European culture. Apparently in opposition to the peacefully industrious democrats and Revolution-ideologues, and still more so to the awkward philosophasters and fraternity-visionaries who call themselves Socialists and want a "free society," those are really at one with them all in their thorough and instinctive hostility to every form of society other than that of the AUTONOMOUS herd (to the extent even of repudiating the notions "master" and "servant"—ni dieu ni maitre, says a socialist formula); at one in their tenacious opposition to every special claim, every special right and privilege (this means ultimately opposition to EVERY right, for when all are equal, no one needs "rights" any longer); at one in their distrust of punitive justice (as though it were a violation of the weak, unfair to the NECESSARY consequences of all former society); but equally at one in their religion of sympathy, in their compassion for all that feels, lives, and suffers (down to the very animals, up even to "God"—the extravagance of "sympathy for God" belongs to a democratic age); altogether at one in the cry and impatience of their sympathy, in their deadly hatred of suffering generally, in their almost feminine incapacity for witnessing it or ALLOWING it; at one in their involuntary beglooming and heart-softening, under the spell of which Europe seems to be threatened with a new Buddhism; at one in their belief in the morality of MUTUAL sympathy, as though it were morality in itself, the climax, the ATTAINED climax of mankind, the sole hope of the future, the consolation of the present, the great discharge from all the obligations of the past; altogether at one in their belief in the community as the DELIVERER, in the herd, and therefore in "themselves."

Any "anarchist" any alleged alternative to fascism, Nazism, laissez-faire capitalism, any alleged alternative to any system founded in grinding inequalty, who could take that as a serious diagnosis or prescription for society and progress is no real left, it's fascism with a few different dance steps.   Any, good, upstanding academic who pretends it isn't a total disaster is a fool and a liar.   Fascism is exciting and exhilarating for the predator, the few, the elite, the Supermen, and that is what modernism is all about, the excitement, titillation and pleasure of an elite few over the majority, it is anti-democratic no matter how many pledges of fidelity to democracy, Jefferson and even the tattered and upsupported safety net are made.

The intellectual class that has not entirely rejected Nietzschean ideas, the fascism that is their natural result, and tolerates them as respectable in the world of scholarship is a totally undependable source for a real, effective and potent left. Only a left that really, truly believes that egalitarian democracy is the only goal and its achievement is a moral obligation will work.  Even Nietzsche would have seen the one we have today for the contented cattle in a feed lot of fascism that it is.

* As with the proto-Nazism of Ernst Haeckel (Stephen Jay Gould said it before I did) so too are the thoughts of Friedrich Nietzsche represented in the atheist-"leftist" tracts of the Little Blue Book series.

#11 A Guide to Nietzsche
#11 How To Understand the Philosophy of Nietzsche
#19 Nietzsche: Who He Was and What He Stood For
#19 The Story of Friedrich Nietzsche's Philosophy
#890 Epigrams of Nietzsche

 I've sort of developed the habit of checking out their publications list as well as the catalogue of its successor, the atheist version of Regnery publications, Prometheus, to see the extent to which materialists are comfortable with proto-fascist and even rather developed fascist ideas.  Eugenics, another sure sign of an elitist "leftism" which will turn out to be more cosy with fascism than you'd like to imagine is another of those diagnostic markers to look for.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prokofiev - Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, Op. 83 - Sviatoslav Richter

Prokofiev had Richter play the premier of this piece.   There's a widespread claim that he learned it in four days.  Richter's supernatural memory is famous, not only for music but for other things as well.  His playing is the highest level, he's one of the few pianists who you can't imagine possibly being better than he was.

Emma Goldman Suffers So Much When Read In The Original

I have pointed out before what a radical opportunity the internet has been for people to read the actual, unedited, unselected, unmitigaged writings of famous people who had been available primarily in selected, edited excerpts of their work or through the interested representations of them in secondary resources, either from those who had a partisan interest in presenting them in the most appealing light possible or, on the other hand, those who had as interested a motive in presenting them as an easily dismissed cartoon devil.   Reading large parts of what someone actually wrote, reading those who knew a person intimately, has been rather shocking in a number of instances.   I don't think there is anyone who has undergone a more radical fall by their own hand in that regard, for me, than Emma Goldman.

The common view of her is as the martyr of the Palmer era red purges, the champion of the worker, firebrand and idealist who, nonetheless, didn't want to be part of a revolution if it meant she couldn't dance.  I bought that view of her, largely through the excerpted passages and tightly clipped slogans ready made for posters and tee shirts.  Only that's nothing like the person revealed in reading her full length pieces.

She was popular for her ability to rile up an audience but never did much else.
Even in her more valuable work, such as her documentation of the disaster that the early years of the Russian Revolution were, the flakes of gold are mixed with so much dross it's tough going to find them.

Her epic impracticality, her utter and complete devotion to her hatreds and bigotries were not matched by her devotion to workers - her developing contempt for "the masses" is striking, especially as they refused to follow her and adopt her ideological obsession in a psychotic fantasy of some anarchist paradise of the future.  An anarchism, by the way, ruled by Nietzchean principles that, for the life of me, don't look that much different from those of some of Ayn Rand's more insane inconsistencies, is what you find by reading her.  Goldman was a huge promoter of Nietzsche's books and ideas, even turning his epic misogyny into its opposite, since the real thing was inconveniently there.  Her treatment of his infamous advice to take your whip when you went to a woman is just stunning in its incoherence and hatred, not to mention her clear hatred of and contempt for the thoughts of women.

Nietzsche's memorable maxim, "When you go to woman, take the whip along," is considered very brutal, yet Nietzsche expressed in one sentence the attitude of woman towards her gods.

Religion, especially the Christian religion, has condemned woman to the life of an inferior, a slave. It has thwarted her nature and fettered her soul, yet the Christian religion has no greater supporter, none more devout, than woman. Indeed, it is safe to say that religion would have long ceased to be a factor in the lives of the people, if it were not for the support it receives from woman. The most ardent churchworkers, the most tireless missionaries the world over, are women, always sacrificing on the altar of the gods that have chained her spirit and enslaved her body.

The insatiable monster, war, robs woman of all that is dear and precious to her. It exacts her brothers, lovers, sons, and in return gives her a life of loneliness and despair. Yet the greatest supporter and worshiper of war is woman. She it is who instills the love of conquest and power into her children; she it is who whispers the glories of war into the ears of her little ones, and who rocks her baby to sleep with the tunes of trumpets and the noise of guns. It is woman, too, who crowns the victor on his return from the battlefield. Yes, it is woman who pays the highest price to that insatiable monster, war.

Really, just to point out one thing, didn't she read anything the nut case said about war, warriors and women in that book?  Like this well known passage?

"Much hath Zarathustra spoken also to us women, but never spake he unto us concerning woman."
And I answered her: "Concerning woman, one should only talk unto men."
"Talk also unto me of woman," said she; "I am old enough to forget it presently."
And I obliged the old woman and spake thus unto her:
Everything in woman is a riddle, and everything in woman hath one solution—it is called pregnancy.
Man is for woman a means: the purpose is always the child. But what is woman for man?
Two different things wanteth the true man: danger and diversion. Therefore wanteth he woman, as the most dangerous plaything.
Man shall be trained for war, and woman for the recreation of the warrior: all else is folly.

Oh, and, yeah, somehow, his insane amoral Superman libertarianism was supposed to also be compatible with Kropotkin's Mutual Aid model of community life.  If you want just an example of how unhinged she was, you can read the entire diatribe that the following is sometimes excerpted from, oh, yeah, brought to you by "Positive Atheism".

"Morality has no terrors for her who has risen beyond good and evil. And though Morality may continue to devour its victims, it is utterly powerless in the face of the modern spirit, that shines in all its glory upon the brow of man and woman, liberated and unafraid."

Just what she thought workers rights, womens' rights, etc. were based in if not in morality, would be interesting to know.

I've always said that anyone who had ever been in a situation in which civil authority broke down or was nonexistent would learn just what anarchism would mean, before the gangsters and organized criminals, the real life Übermenschen, not the fantasy kind, imposed an uncivil order.  I don't quite get how Emma didn't understand that for someone to be uber, a lot of other people had to be unter, it's as if she didn't know the first thing about people and society, something that seems to be a common trait among anarchists.

The more I read of her the more of a total flake she seems to me.   And her stuff, unedited, reads a lot more tedious than it might have seemed while she was raving it from a platform.  Compared to Lincoln or Fredrick Douglass, her words are wooden and absurd on the page, incoherent and more than just a bit condescending.  Odd for an anarchist, she was a raging snob and narcissist.

UPDATE;  As to Goldman's devotion to Nietzsche and her anarchism, consider this passage from one of his major works which she refers to in that passage, Beyond Good and Evil:

On the other hand, the gregarious European man nowadays assumes an air as if he were the only kind of man that is allowable, he glorifies his qualities, such as public spirit, kindness, deference, industry, temperance, modesty, indulgence, sympathy, by virtue of which he is gentle, endurable, and useful to the herd, as the peculiarly human virtues. In cases, however, where it is believed that the leader and bell-wether cannot be dispensed with, attempt after attempt is made nowadays to replace commanders by the summing together of clever gregarious men all representative constitutions, for example, are of this origin. In spite of all, what a blessing, what a deliverance from a weight becoming unendurable, is the appearance of an absolute ruler for these gregarious Europeans—of this fact the effect of the appearance of Napoleon was the last great proof the history of the influence of Napoleon is almost the history of the higher happiness to which the entire century has attained in its worthiest individuals and periods.

I would refer you, as well, to #260 of that book for his developed ideas of "master" vs. "slave" morality.

The Soul Stirrers Feat. R.H. Harris - Feel Like My Time Ain't Long

Hate Mail File - The Rubbish Heap of History

" you take after your grandfather, Joe McCarthy"

Oh, how clever, you watch American Experience on PBS, or something and know the name.  Only my grandfather McCarthy was a factory worker and dirt farmer who was a life long Democrat, who voted for every Democrat from Al Smith to Lyndon Johnson and who, in the angriest thing I ever heard him say, wished that Jack Ruby could shoot Lee Harvey Oswald through an eternity in hell,  right after we all were appalled to see, live, the mob hit on him while in police custody.  Grandpa was probably the most conservative member of my family, all of whom were strong union people when possible, and Grandpa would be considered on the far-left of 2015, farther than that as he actually believed the point was to change laws to make life better, not to preen in his superiority.

Anyone who is deputed to be on the left who in 2015 is holding a torch for the communists, especially the Communist Party of the United States or of any country, with the piles of bodies that communists ruling in many lands have piled up, is the moral equivalent of a member of the American Nazi Party.   In the past I would have pointed to the total and absolutely counterproductive futility of the Communists, the communists, the anarchists, and all but a hand full of American socialists - who, unlike all of the others, actually managed to win office and, you know, DO SOMETHING, but I've decided that isn't the most imperative thing to point out about them.

One of the few British radical journalists for whom I retain any respect or affection was Alexander Cockburn and he lost a lot of my respect along the way.  In one of his Beat The Devil columns in The Nation I remember he pointed out that while Hitler was murdering Jews, Jews were fighting as honored members of the Soviet military.  His point was that while you couldn't be a Nazi without being an antisemite, a racist and a genocidalist, there was nothing in even Stalinism that held those as founding dogmas, certainly not in Marxism.   But, much as I might have liked Cockburn, that is grotesquely dishonest argument and dishonest in the most repulsive way imaginable.

The dogmas, claims and words that constituted the formal statements of Marx, Engels, etc. are just words on pages and in the mouths of ideologues, the acts are the real substance of those political ideologies, what people do, what they are allowed to do while remaining within the bounds of those words.   On what has been traditionally taken for the left, what I now call the pseudo-left, that has been practiced on both the most petty stage of mythologizing the bumble squad of ideologues in New York,  Chicago,  San Francisco,  Seattle, etc. and up to covering up the many scores of murders committed by regimes which had and still retain the support and nostalgic affection of that pseudo-left.  The tactics used in that cover up are not morally different from the ones the Nazis used when they set up Theresienstadt.  Only it's easier because you just have to ignore what really happened and put up a wall of words.

I won't practice the vulgar and amoral mathematics of the Communists in which twenty-five million of THEIR corpses count but scores of millions of OUR corpses are just the price of economic and social progress.  The Nazis said EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS THEIR REASON FOR MURDERING PEOPLE.   The Communists, the communists, the anarchists, and any others who anyone wants to claim belongs on the left disqualify themselves by doing what the more genteel supporters of fascism do in that regard.

And I don't care who the alleged leftist is, if they wrote for The Nation, or The Progressive or got nailed by HUAC or couldn't get work in Hollywood, the victims of the regimes and political ideologies they supported got an even harder break in life.  I don't even care if Warren Beatty made a movie about them and Maureen Stapleton turned them into a likable character which they reportedly weren't in real life.  I don't owe those people anything except to tell the truth about them and the primary people owed that aren't them but those whose murders they ignored, covered up or supported.   Anyone of them who owned up to their actions, that deserves to be told too.

I won't maintain the myths of one of the hugest moral catastrophes AND CRIMES in history as well as a total botch in politics to spare the tender feelings of the lefty desk set of today. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Jindrich Feld - Four Pieces For Flute Alone - Fenwick Smith

Great flute player, the best.

Prokofiev Flute Sonata: Emmanuel Pahud/Stephen Kovacevich

First Movement

Second Movement

Third Movement

Fourth Movement 

The only comparable performance I've ever heard of this was by the great flute player Fenwick Smith.  

The Street That Wasn't There by Clifford D. Simak

A scary story to listen to on a longish late winter evening.

Jürgen Habermas Gives Neo-Atheists A Headache

Several years ago there was a minor kerfuffle on some of the upper mid-brow atheist websites over a widely spread misquotation by the German atheist philosopher Jürgen Habermas.   Other than it being rather charming to find that people who would normally have dismissed the entire field of philosophy as an archaic and irrelevant hangover from the medieval university were straining at gnats to make the thing go away, the most important thing about it was that even when they cleaned it up, what Habermas said wasn't congenial to the current program of the neo-atheists.  Yes, someone mentioned it the other day, which is why I'm writing it out.

I first heard anything of it while listening to a lecture, in English, by the Oxford professor of Mathematics and Christian apologist,  John Lennox.  I don't remember the form of the quote he gave, though, since I've also listened to him give lectures at a rather sophisticated level in an academic setting in German,  something I doubt most of the atheist bloggers could do, I would be surprised if it wasn't one of those claimed to have been close to the original German.  So I don't know if the version given as a misquote is what he gave.  It is given, on the  Habermas Forum , clearly anxious for its adherence to atheist decorum, as:

Christianity, and nothing else is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [to Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.

Which, I will point out, I'm not posting here as a quote because the Forum website says it was actually Sandro Magister's summary of what he heard Habermas say in an interview he conducted with him.  If there is a tape of the interview or if he wrote it from his notes, I don't know, I don't know if Magister and Habermas were speaking a language they both were fluent in. I've listened to Habermas in English on this topic and it is rough going, so I don't know how accurate a summary of what he said in the interview it might be.  Interestingly, in that tape, Habermas attributes the quote in question to an interview he did with a professor whose name I can't catch but he clearly says "It is a quotation from an interview I did with Professor...." so the Forum's "The genealogy of a misquote" has problems, as well.   I can't hear that Habermas  disowned the quotation on that recording.

You can see why today's atheists would have a problem with such a prominent atheist and eminent academic saying such a thing.  And, clearly, he really did say the substance of that, more than once, even the Forum is able to present what it says is the accurate quote:

"Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an auonomous [autonomous?] conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct heir of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk (p. 150f)."

Egalitarian universalism, equality springing from ideas of freedom and social solidarity, etc.  all attributed to Judaism and Christianity, it's a neo-atheist nightmare that entirely undermines the entire neo-atheist genealogy of morals.  And worse, he notes that it was appropriated - I assume by secularists, such as Habermas - and there is continuing value in it as "we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage".   It's a far cry from the "Death to Christianity" that is the substance of 99.94/100% of the neo-atheists.

In the Forum article they are anxious to distance Habermas from his atheist apostasy by noting his claims that in the modern world those values derived from the metaphysical moral commandments from the Hebrew religious tradition are safely de-metaphysicalized in modern secular society where they can be transmitted among atheists and, the implication is, that religion is no longer required, though in no where did I see where Habermas favored the end of religion.

In a recent comment Habermas has emphasized that his intention was to say that moral universalism - at least in our Occidental world - has its source in Jewish and Christian monotheism.  At a public lecture a student asked Habermas about his remark on Christianity, and Habermas's reply can be heard here:  

According to Habermas human rights today are neither religious nor metaphysical "founded" or "grounded" on any specific religion, ideology or culture. In the same interview he says: "Notwithstanding their European origins, human rights today represent the universal language in which global relations can be normatively regulated" (p. 155).

The recording linked to resulted in a dead link so I can't check to see if it says what the Forum says it did.  I will point out that the stipulation "at least in our Occidental world"  is rather odd, since in the quote they give right after that Habermas explicitly attributes them to,  "their European origin".   And so inescapably the product of a culture saturated in Christian moral teachings, if not always Christian practice, ideals inescapably originating in the minds of those formed through Christian belief.

As to the claims that, in today's secular age, they can be sustained,  I am a total skeptic because I see any secular retention of those values cut off from their religious origin as being adrift at best.  It is hard enough for Christians and Jews to follow them, believing that they are commanded by God, I doubt that others who deny that and merely follow them out of commonly shared cultural habits will more successfully practice them.

I think an atheist majority society, especially one governed by what scientists claim about human behavior based on natural selection, will gradually abandon those values, especially in the political expression of them.  I think that is what has happened here, in the United States, as the origins of liberalism in Christian religions has given way to "science" and the attractions of modernism and consumerism.  I don't see them taking root securely anywhere else in the world without that metaphysical - religious foundation.  Most of the non-Western democracies I see are formally democratic while being oligarchic, plutocratic or various power centers fighting for control using the forms of democracy as tools, at least temporarily.   Much like happens here, increasingly, as we, as well, reject that moral heritage.  As the Republican right shows, you can even reject the teachings of The Prophets, including Jesus, while still propping up the trappings of Christianity.   When it comes to making those values real in society and in political action, the trappings aren't enough, you really, really have to believe you are required to DO THEM.

Update:  Damn I Forgot I Typed That Out

When I decided to write about this,  in response to the claim that Habermas was being hijacked and abused by "the right and Christians,"  I looked to see if that was true.   I mean, equality, universal rights, the rest of the virtues Habermas attributed to the Hebrew religious tradition aren't unwelcomed by liberals as they comprise the very substance of the American liberal position and are hardly welcomed by the right.  Here's someone who is an undisputed champion of liberalism and not a Christian,  Eric Alterman.

For the purposes of defining liberalism today, the most common objection to the Rawlsian pardigm comes from the communitarians, who borrow considerably from the same republican precepts of America's founders that come into conflict with the more liberal ideas popular at the time of America's origins more than two hundred years ago.  To what degree, asks the political philosopher Michael Sandel, are our liberal virtues fashioned in relative isolation, and to what extent can they be found embedded in relations with others?   Are we, ultimately, atomistic, individual beings or members of various interlocking communities?   "Rawlsian liberalism defines certain actions as beyond the bounds of a decent society,"  Sandel complains, "but wherein lies its commitment to the good, the noble of purpose, the meaning, as it were, of life?"

For guidance in these intractable liberal positions,  the historian James T. Kloppenberg suggests we turn to one of civilizations oldest moral traditions, and one whose roots are shared by most Americans:  Christianity.  Conceptually,  Kloppenberg notes, the central virtues of liberalism descend directly from the cardinal virtues of early Christianity:  "prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice."   He adds that "the liberal virtues of tolerance, respect, generosity, and benevolence likewise extend St. Paul's admonition to the Colossians that they should practice forbearance, patience, kindness and charity." 

This view is reinforced by the arguments of Jurgen Habermas, post war Europe's most significant liberal philosopher and perhaps the last great voice of the once preeminent (and neo-Marxist) Frankfurt School. "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultiimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civiliaztion,"  Habermas told then cardinal Joseph Ratinger, now Pope Benedict, during a January 2004 conversation,  "To this day, we have no other option [than Christianity].  We continue to nourish ourselves from this source.  Everything else is postmodern chatter."  No one understood this better than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   Asked by a reporter about his political philosophy,  FDR replied, "Philosophy?  I am a Christian and a Democrat -  that is all."

Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America
 By Eric Alterman

Alterman goes on to note that in addition to the irony of liberalism being directly the result of taking the virtues of Christianity seriously, something that the "Christian" right certainly doesn't, he goes on to note that they also misrepresent Adam Smith whose idea of a good society includes economic equality, the right of a worker to the product of their labor, a society in which no one is destitute or kept in the miserable subsistence level that is characteristic of British liberalism and even socialism [For details of which, of course, you can read Marilynne Robinson, Mother Country].

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Because Someone Wanted To Get Into A Fight Over The Hawking Movie That's Out Right Now

In this very brief history of modern cosmological physics, the laws of quantum and relativistic physics represent things to be wondered at but widely accepted: just like biblical miracles. M-theory invokes something different: a prime mover, a begetter, a creative force that is everywhere and nowhere. This force cannot be identified by instruments or examined by comprehensible mathematical prediction, and yet it contains all possibilities. It incorporates omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence, and it's a big mystery. Remind you of Anybody?

Tim Radford:  Review of Hawking's The Grand Design

Salon, Alternet Style Hate Talk Promotes Facism: Your Provocative Idea for Tuesday

Salon's Jeffrey Tayler seems to be in some kind of competition to out-hate the other atheist hate-talkers who regularly appear there.   His current screed of hate up at Salon now says:  "We must offend religion more: Islam, Christianity and our tolerance for ancient myths, harmful ideas".   Considering the recent execution style slaughter of three students, obviously because they were Muslims by someone whose online activity would seem to fit right in on a Salon comment thread, Tayler could well have been among those who inspired that act.   His hate screed is exactly of the kind that Christopher Hitchens spouted as part of the Bush II sales pitch for the invasion of Iraq for which the costs include the empowerment of ISIS and hundreds of thousands of lives as well as the empowerment of theocratic governments and movements in Iraq and the entire region.

In many ways the atheist war against religion we're seeing in America is a continuation of the old line bigotry that has blighted our history.  In its anti-Islamic form - it seems so long ago when the God-haters were feigning disapproval of Islamophbia a week ago - it is clearly racist and imperialist, in its anti-Catholic form it is old line British religio-ethnic hatred and its American nativist form.   In the minstrel dialect "Jeebus" jive talk so common among atheists online, it is clearly old fashioned white racist sterotyping of black people.   All of it feeds exactly the same kind of discrimination and division and increased hatred that eventually leads to violence and away from democracy.

Tayler and his fans tout their "enlightenment" from a demonstrated and total ignorance of the "enlightenment" and its far from enlightened history.  As I have been demonstrating this week, while such heroes of the enlightenment as Jefferson, Madison, Washington, even Franklin were keeping black people as slaves, in Jefferson's case raping and bearing children with one young enough to be his young daughter, it was religious people, very serious Christians, who were calling for the abolition of slavery, something Christians had been doing since at least the fourth century.   They had actually raised the status of women from their position in pagan societies and certainly children, especially female children who were routinely killed in pagan societies.

Most absurdly one of the main points in Tayler's screed is his praise for the loony attention-seeking of "Femen" the topless pseudo-feminist group who, like Tayler and the rest of the professional haters, gets attention for themselves by being anti-religious.   That is in keeping with the decay of the real feminism of the second-wave into the pornographic freak show of "sex-pos" feminism, the product of the promotion of the porn-prostitution industries,  which promote a fictional, phony view of one of the most oppressive and woman destroying industries in history.   It is an industry that promotes a view of women not that much different from the one ISIS clearly holds, of women as chattels to be abducted and sold by men, kept as slaves for sex and other purposes.  Something which is certainly not in keeping with the Koran but which is promoted in much of the online porn which is championed by such publications as Salon and Alternet as an expression of enlightened thought.

I don't think a society which feeds on hate talk can maintain civil peace. Societies saturated in hate can't  avoid the hateful violence that is the product of hate talk. The secure myth that the haters can avoid retaliation is clearly wrong, note Charlie Hebdo and the shoot up in Denmark which Tayler uses to further his hate talk, inspired by previous hate talk.  With the increase in violence the spiral of that will, eventually, become so intolerable that it can't be allowed to continue without some disaster for democracy, either the suppression of one side or the continual violence of the kind that plagued Northern Ireland for so long.  If such a society will sacrifice everything else, many other rights, including that to life and equality, in favor of the perpetuation of hate talk is the only question.  Hate talk is a potent tool of every fascist regime, as FOX and the other venues of right-wing hate talk prove, it is a potent weapon against egalitarian democracy even under the free speech absolutism that permits it here.  The choice is between suppressing hate talk and democracy, in the end.  I think that it is a choice America can't continue to avoid, I just hope we don't fall for the slogans and lose far more in the process.  I'm not optimistic.  Needless to say, the results will be benighted, not enlightened.

I have a feeling the atheists are counting on provoking a violent reaction from the majority of Americans, a variation on the old Marxist dialectical dream of making things so bad that they'll, magically, get their way.  They've been pushing that nonsense since Marx adopted Hegel's silly idea of the imaginary force behind history.  If you want to see how well that works, look at that experiment that was held in Russia in the past century, we get the kind of thing that Pussy Riot became famous for protesting.   This wave of atheist hate talk will lead farther into the nightmare, not out of one.

Monday, February 23, 2015

James Day Interviews I.F. Stone

To back up the point that Stone was able to tell the truth because he was his own boss:

Note how uncynical I.F. Stone was about the people he notes are driven by the institutions they work in and even run, something I doubt anyone would dare to say today.  Of course he was talking about the 1970s press, which has devolved into the standards of the worst of 1920s newspapers, I think he'd say things a bit differently about today's corporate media.   What he had to say about the duties of the press, under the First Amendment is certainly out of style these days.

I really miss Stone.

Update:  For anyone who never saw one of Stone's Weekly newsletters, all of them are available for download here from 1953-1971.

Since you're likely in any Google Search of Stone to run across the campaign of Ronald Radosh and others on the right to slander him as a Soviet agent, here's an especially revealing number from July 2, 1956 - quoted by Radosh for other purposes - in which he slams the Rosenberg defenders, especially the Communists, for their hypocrisy and double standards about Soviet standards of justice.  From everything for calling out the Rosenberg side for refusing to acknowledge the evidence against them, the hypocrisies of them ignoring the victims of Stalin's murder campaigns, Bertrand Russell and Paul Satre for their absurd comments....  I can't imagine any contemporary blogger being so brutally honest without getting major blog assaults launched against him from both the "left" and the right.   It was the left who was able to take full strength Stone who led to the 1960s left, today's couldn't take that level of honesty, which is probably another reason it fails so regularly.

Read on page 3, also, his account of Arthur Miller's testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee.   His noting the clownishness of the Committee Council, though Ahern's level of idiocy would probably get him called an intellectual in today's TV-infotainment saturated world.

The 1688 Germantown Quaker Meeting Minute Against Slavery: The Earliest English Language Abolitionist Document in America

It is significant that the earliest known document against slavery in English, in North America was written by people who spoke very little English.   They were Germans who had originally been Mennonites but who converted to Quakerism, that accounts for some of the obscurity of the document but which might, also account for why those people and not people whose native language was English have the honor of having been the first.  Though, I will point out, the writing of Bartolomeo de las Casas and the various encyclicals and theologians I've mentioned in this series of posts were far earlier.   The English abolitionists, though there are those who seem to think they are the only ones who matter, came relatively late to the cause.   

Garret henderich, derick up de graeff, Francis daniell Pastorius, and Abraham up Den graef.
A Minute Against Slavery, Addressed to Germantown Monthly Meeting, 1688.
This is to ye Monthly Meeting held at Richard Worrell's.

These are the reasons why we are against the traffick of men-body, as foloweth. Is there any that would be done or handled at this manner? viz., to be sold or made a slave for all the time of his life? How fearful and faint-hearted are many on sea, when they see a strange vessel, - being afraid it should be a Turk, and they should be taken, and sold for slaves into Turkey. Now what is this better done, as Turks doe? Yea, rather it is worse for them, which say they are Christians; for we hear that yemost part of such negers are brought hither against their will and consent,and that many of them are stolen. Now, tho they are black, we can not conceive there is more liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones. There is a saying that we shall doe to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are. And those who steal or robb men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alike? Here is liberty of conscience wch is right and reasonable; here ought to be liberty of ye body, except of evil-doers,wch is an other case. But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against. In Europe there are many oppressed for conscience sake; and here there are those oppressed wh are of a black colour. And we who know than men must not comitt adultery, - some do committ adultery, in separating wives from their husbands and giving them to others; and some sell the children of these poor creatures to other men. Ah! doe consider will this thing, you who doe it, if you would be done at this manner? And if it is done according to Christianity? You surpass Holland and Germany in this thing. This makes an ill report in all those countries of Europe, where they hear of, that ye Quakers doe here handel men as they handel there ye cattle. And for that reason some have no mind or inclination to come hither. And who shall maintain this your cause, or pleid for it. Truly we can not do so, except you shall inform us better hereof, viz., that Christians have liberty to practise these things. Pray, what thing in the world can be done worse towards us, than if men should rob or steal us away, and sell us for slaves to strange countries; separating husbands from their wives and children. Being now that this is not done in the manner we would be done at therefore we contradict and are against this traffic of men-body. And we who profess that is is not lawful to steal, must, likewise, avoid to purchase such things as are stolen, but rather help to stop this robbing and stealing if possible. And such men ought to be delivered out of ye hands of ye robbers,and set free as well as in Europe. Then is Pennsylvania to have a good report, instead it hath now a bad one for this sake in other countries. Especially whereas ye Europeans are desirous to know in what manner ye Quakers doe rule in their province; - and most of them doe look upon us with an envious eye. But if this is done well, what shall we say is done evil?

If once these slaves (wch they say are so wicked and stubbern men) should join themselves, - fight for their freedom, - and handel their masters and mastrisses as they did handel them before; will these masters and mastrisses take the sword at hand and warr against these poor slaves, licke, we are able to believe, some will not refuse to doe; or have these negers not as much right to fight for their freedom, as you have to keep them slaves?

Now consider will this thing, if it is good or bad? And in case you find it to be good to handle these blacks at that manner, we desire and require you hereby lovingly, that you may inform us herein, which at this time never was done, viz., that Christians have such a liberty to do so. To the end we shall be be satisfied in this point, and satisfie likewise our good friends and acquaintances in our natif country, to whose it is a terror, or fairful thing, that men should be handeld so in Pennsylvania.

This is from our meeting at Germantown, held ye18 of the 2 month, 1688, to be delivered to the Monthly Meeting at Richard Worrell's.

Garret henderichderick up de graeff
Francis daniell Pastorius
Abraham up Den graef. 

Though the various meetings the document was sent to didn't do much to address it, much to the disappointment of the authors, its place in the eventual decision by Quakers to forbid slavery is probably more significant than we can know about.  The act, itself, is worth noting, as the arguments it used are, clearly based on the moral reciprocity of the commandments, to do unto others as you would have done unto you and to love your neighbor as yourself.   Also significant is the prediction that holding black people in slavery would eventually lead to significant bloodshed, of the violence of slavery leading to violence.  Something that so many of the racists then and now can't conceive of happening, something that still blights and confuses Americans in dealing with "the other" in other places as well as here.

What I Did Over My Lost Weekend

One of the resolutions I once made and never kept was to read Finnegan's Wake, the notoriously obscure book by James Joyce.  I have read long passages from the book, if "read" means silently and mentally translating letters on a page into a mental sound track because discerning meaning from what I've read of it isn't what happened.  Finnegan's Wake is one of those rare iconic works of which a number of brave academic writers and critics have admitted suspecting to be either a hoax, meaningless or proof of mental incapacity.  In the end, I doubt I'll ever get the book or try to get through it.  I suspect it is a book written for one person to comprehend, James Joyce, and I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't as at sea writing it as readers of it have been.   On the other hand, I got through Ulysses and liked it enough to go back on occasion and read passages, other than the longest "yes" in literature.

Another infamously hard book I've never read, mostly because I never heard of it till last week, was e.e. cumming's poetic-travel book Eimi: A Journey Through Soviet Russia which, through the nonmiracle of Google Books what I find there begins:

SHUT seems to be The Verb:gent of lower (" ça ne vous fait rien si je me déshabille?")whose baggage strangles a sickly neatness of deuxième coffin Shut the window(don't you think we'll have too much smoke?) and tactfully funeral director,upon glimpsing milord today drowsing after cakes & ale by mister mome,Shut our door(this morning I was throughly amazed:met,en route to breakfast,Fresh Air! - in a troisième common grave)

You might not be surprised to find that at the time it was published in 1933 it was commonly deemed to be unreadable.  By comparison the famous beginning of Finnegan's wake is relatively straight forward.

Riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

I mean,  you can identify a subject whereas I can't find the subject of the predicate in Cummings' passage.   I'm assuming that predicate is "strangles" in which case the direct object is "a sickly neatness of deuxième coffin"  though it's possible that Cummings was dispensing with those grammatical categories.   Though Joyce might have the chronological precedent if it's true he'd begun Finnegan's Wake in the late 1920s,  Cummings got Eimi into print six years earlier and lacking the romantic continental associations of Joyce he didn't have the advantage of that weird prejudice of the American scribbling class against Americans and the bias for of anything from across the Atlantic.   Even Cummings French didn't inoculate it against bad reviews.

The most informative and fun to read of the ones I did read was by his fellow poet and sometimes publisher,  Marianne Moore.  She proves in it that she can discern meaning from the words that I think would largely elude me.  Though she also identified another reason why the book not only met with incomprehension but hostility, it was one of the very early critiques of the Soviet Union in the early years of Stalin, accurately identifying it as a total disaster even as it was fashionable to pretend otherwise.

Out of "plain downright honest curiosity: that very greatest of all the virtues", a penguin-Dante visits Moscow—"panacea Negation haven of all (in life's name) Deathworshippers"—and has written a droll book. In his "enormous dream" about the proletarian fable, the main proficiency is the spry-slow suave quaintly-toddling selfsufficient imperviousness to weather.

Everything I've read about this says that when he went to see what all excitement about what was happening in the Communist paradise was all about, Cummings was entirely apolitical and extremely naive, a product of Harvard and the Boston area Unitarian - Brahmin - Harvard establishment in its decadent phase, the class who had, in its most notable political act,  railroaded and electrocuted Sacco and Vanzetti four years earlier.  Though Cummings Greenwich Village life and career was a rebellion against the personal confines of that milieu, I don't think he was ever anything like a real opponent of it in any kind of moral sense.  From what I've read about his horrified reaction to seeing the Soviet Union was to move to the political far-right, a Republican, an opponent of FDR and the New Deal and, eventually, a supporter of Joseph McCarthy, though it's hard to discern, online.  While wrong, domestically, in the over-reaction that was typical of the anti-communists and Republicans here, he was far more right about the Soviet Union than was fashionable.  He wrote one of the angrier poems about the Soviet crackdown in Hungary in 1956*.

If I had time to do the background I'd look and compare the more informed reaction of Max Eastman to later events in the Soviet Union which led him to the far right, in a similar kind of over-reaction.  Interestingly, one of Max Eastman's obcessions was in proving that Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty of the murder they were convicted of,  though I don't know how anyone can possibly make anything out of the morass of claims after the fact about the case.  Though one thing is clear, the judge, Webster Thayer, was so obviously and publicly biased, his decisions during the case, in court and outside of it, is a guarantee that the trial was invalid and it couldn't possibly have yielded a reliable verdict.  The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, as well, were guilty of upholding the interests in killing Sacco and Vanzetti as well as protecting the members of the establishment from the justified accusation of its committing a clear injustice in the case.  And, considering the various members of committees, including the presidents of Harvard and MIT, Abbott Lawrence Lowell and Samuel Wesley Stratton, the entire Harvard - Ivy - WASP establishment had a deeply embedded and clear interest in upholding the actions of that establishment, then and up till today.  Though it's the American right that has largely taken up that cause.  And I'm not at all convinced that the two were innocent, just that the trial was clearly illegitimate.  Both were advocates of the insanely immoral and politically disastrous anarchist cult of "propaganda of the deed" which would have advocated and justified exactly the kind of act they were convicted of committing.  Threats of revenge of that kind were issued from them and their colleagues in the aftermath of them being railroaded, nothing that would have made their defense by responsible people any easier.


One of the things I've thought about in reading through all of this stuff as I've been laid up with sciatica has been the relationship of modernism in the arts and literature with the political right,  including fascism, something which I'm more and more convinced isn't a mere coincidence but a necessary consequence of the rejection of morality.   I think, also, that it's not unrelated to the fact that the materialist left of that time and today will justify acts as terrible as those of the far right and, even among the very best, muddle their thinking and actions.  What Marianne Moore identified as Cummings conclusions about why Stalinism was bad was just that kind of thing

Yes, "the tragedy of life always hasn't been and . . . isn't that some people are poor and others rich, some hungry and others not hungry, some weak and others strong. The tragedy is and always will be that most people are unable to express themselves."

Which is a self-absorbed modernist idea that is quite compatible with fascism and even with American Republicanism, assuming the modernist has an elite status or one that can be attached to an elite, why so many affluent modernists were able to admire fascism if not adopt it, themselves, leaving the warrioring and toiling and struggling to others as they enjoyed the life they wouldn't be deprived of by it.  Ezra Pound was another of those who found Eimi congenial, even as others in the literary and publishing establishment were angered by its criticism of the Soviet Union which was in vogue in those circles.   Cummings had trouble getting published in the years after the book came out,  a sort of leftist blacklisting which might be interesting to consider as the baggage of the 20th century can be looked at more for what we can learn from it than as an aspect of current struggle.   Needless to say, if those literary and publishing lights were living under the Soviet government they championed instead of the corrupt American capitalism of the Hoover years, they might have found their style a bit cramped as well.  At least the naive and rather foolish Cummings saw that much of it.

Though in some cases, when the leftist holds some values higher than style and their own, personal liberty and privilege, they can overcome that.  I wish I could go into more detail, and might, but this piece is getting to be very long and complicated as it is and I'm going to start sounding like Eimi if I don't conclude it.

But, reading about this, I remembered a piece that I. F. Stone wrote The Legacy of Stalin, **a hard hitting critique of Stalin and the Soviet Union which lost him about 400 subscribers to his Weekly.   No doubt those 400, stalwart opponents of blacklists, depending.  And Stone would have been able to anticipate that significant loss to his income in a period when $2,000 was real money to someone in his position.

Since I. F. Stone is one of my enduring heroes, though one who made some enormous mistakes in his career and who I think was wrong about some extremely important things, I was fascinated by his piece which was written as a result of his trip to the Soviet Union.  Stone published several pieces about that trip in the spring of 1956, well before the attempted Hungarian revolt against Soviet domination and the brutal suppression of that in the fall.  Well before that event that made many leftists a "no more since Hungary" communist, Stone told the truth about what he saw with far more sophistication and insight than the naive Cummings did - though Cummings told the truth even as the younger Stone was still buying the propaganda.    In the piece he committed heresy against the prevailing leftist establishment by noting the crimes and lies of the communists in the Soviet Union, pointing out that they weren't aberrations but the result of Marxism.

In that piece I think I see Stone liberating himself from the confines of the official left in order to tell the truth about something he saw, first hand.  I think his decades as a journalist REPORTER prepared him to come out of that encounter better than the Harvard literary guy did, though you have to admit he wasn't willing to buy a convenient lie that would have probably gotten Cummings farther in American belles-lettres than he got by telling the truth, however opaquely.  I suspect if I. F. Stone hadn't been a totally independent journalist, his own boss at what was the greatest and earliest blog, he'd have found it harder to tell the truth as freely as he did.  I doubt he'd have gotten it published in a leftist magazine of the left published by someone else in 1956 or in the 1930s.

I will probably be writing more about these things when I've had more time to read more and think about them.

a monstering horror swallows
this unworld me by you
as the god of our fathers' father bows
to a which that walks like a who

but the voice-with-a-smile of democracy
announces night & day
"all poor little peoples that want to be free
just trust in the u s a"

suddenly uprose hungary
and she gave a terrible cry
"no slave's unlife shall murder me
for i will freely die"

she cried so high thermopylae
heard her and marathon
and all prehuman history
and finally The UN

"be quiet little hungary
and do as you are bid
a good kind bear is angary
we fear for the quo pro quid"

uncle sam shrugs his pretty
pink shoulders you know how
and he twitches a liberal titty
and lisps "i'm busy right now"

so rah-rah-rah democracy
let's all be as thankful as hell
and bury the statue of liberty
(because it begins to smell)

Just what he expected the United States to do about it wasn't clear.   The prospect of World War III with atomic and nuclear weapons pretty much ruled out any military response.  Not to mention that the United States and Europe were still paying for the enormous effort of the last war that had proven to be such an opportunity for the Soviet Union, in the end.

**  You can find the piece and many others in this memorial book  generously provided online by the official I. F. Stone website.  Stone was one of the giants of journalism of any kind and one of the greatest and most admirable of leftists, though I would certainly not endorse everything he said or thought.  For example, his reaction to the early months of FDR's administration was similar to Cummings, including accusations that Roosevelt was trying to establish himself as a fascist ruler, parroting the lines of the Communist Party's perennial presidential candidate William Foster, which was bizarre, in itself, because at the time Stone was a member of the Trotskyite Socialist Party, not the Stalinist Communist Party.  The four months when Stone flirted with Communism as "Abelard Stone" written about at the last link is fascinating in that it, as the entire muddled and sordid history of American communism-socialism-anarchism, was as damaging to the American left as anything the capitalist establishment did to it.  While there's little question as to which side produced more heroes and the right which produced more villains, both sides are most useful to us now as examples of what not to do than as icons to emulate.  There were others on the left who avoided those materialist cults who are far more useful in that regard.

Update:  The charge that I. F. Stone was a Soviet Agent, other than being ridiculous for the content of what Stone wrote in the period when he had any influence to attract spies, is discredited by the nature of the  sources of the accusation.

Update 2:  I just noticed that in 1956 the yearly subscription price for Stone's Weekly was $4 and not 5 as it was later, which would make the loss of 400 subscribers still significant in 1956 incomes and dollars.