To some degree ignorance walks hand in hand with youth, but youth makes up for what it lacks in wits with exuberant energy. Therefore youth requires a leader of some sort. Without banks a river spreads out and becomes a swamp, and so we have the expression “channeled”. Although youth tends to find discipline oppressive, they also dislike being aimless, and ambiguously seek the very “channeling” they find oppressive. Parrots need someone to copy, and even lemmings need something to flee.
Before the Floyd protests occurred I expected them, in some form, though I didn’t know what the excuse might be, because there is no way to bottle up youth in the springtime without an outlet. Even dictators use sports to ventilate the stifled. Social isolation also creates a hunger for crowds. Also chanting slogans, at the top of your lungs, blows off steam.
I pay attention to the slogans, as they tend to encapsulate what passes for thought in mob-mentality. In the LA riots of 1968 the motto was, “Burn, Baby, Burn”, and during the riots at the 1968 Democrat convention the motto was “The Whole World Is Watching”. I’m getting to be an old man, and I’ve seen this, and been here, before. History is repeating itself.
The people chanting tend to merely be parrots, but that is an insult to parrots. Parrots may be bird brains, but their eyes are not so vacant as a mob’s. I never liked the protests of the 1960’s, for I felt part of a mindless multitude. I prefer thought. Protests made me feel like the vast suicidal throng all bellowing “Heil Hitler” at Nuremberg, like a vast throng of lemmings all headed to a verge.
The parrots receive the slogan they chant from a slightly more educated parrot which I suppose you might call a puppet, though they were called “outside agitators” in the 1960’s. Such puppets are filled with a grandiose sense of their own significance, and spew the party-line of “outside agitators”. In the comics of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s this sort of person was typified by the Doonesbury character “Megaphone Mark’
As the years went by Megaphone Mark, despite zealously avoiding graduation through a number of ploys, eventually had to get a Real Job, and went to work at NPR.
It is said that “art imitates life”, but sometimes it works the other way around, and, as Oscar Wilde stated, “life imitates art.” For example, all it takes is some pop psychologist to appear on a talk-show and speak of some new “syndrome”, and all of a sudden you’ll notice lots of people suffering from an ailment no one ever heard of before. In any case, far too many people are followers, and don’t use their powers of discernment. “Discrimination” has in some ways become a bad word, yet it is only common sense to “look before you leap”.
We hopefully teach this to our youth, but even in my youth teachers were moving towards a left-wing position wherein they felt they could replace old-fashioned traditions with some new-and-improved “betterment”. As a ridiculously loyal boy (I was even loyal to the sponsors of advertisements during Red Sox games) I can recall being appalled when a teacher questioned the virtue of George Washington “because he had slaves.” I suppose this was meant to stimulate “critical thinking”, but one does not scuttle the ship they are in without another nearby ship (or at least lifeboat) to get into. Therefore one, as a critical thinker, should always ask, “What alternative do you propose?”
Once one has investigated alternatives, the initial conditions often do not appear as intolerable. When I was young I dared to actually test out alternative lifestyles, at times muttering “screw this” and heading off in a huff. I’d abandon ship without even a lifeboat, for I was a good swimmer. However I didn’t demand the ship be sunk, nor that a lifeboat be built for me, (which is what I hear in some of the slogans chanted in current riots). And it turned out to be a good thing I didn’t sink the ship I abandoned, for I had someplace to return to when I got tired of swimming about looking for a better boat.
Jut after World War Two Churchill made a famous statement in the House Of Commons,
“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
One slogan I saw was reported chanted during a recent demonstration was something along the lines of, “Revolution Not Elections Bring Solutions”. This made me wince, hurting me worse than a salted paper-cut. It was obvious the parrots all chanting this slogan hadn’t studied the history of humanity, and what happens when this is tried. Nor have they studied how hard it is to regain the right to vote, once you have lost it.
It seems it is human nature to want a hero, some marvelous father-figure who takes on our responsibilities, and allows us to relax. This is in some ways laziness, and an abdication of personal responsibility. What people eventually learn is that, if you are too lazy to swim, you drown.
This problem is very human, and ancient. Roughly three thousand years ago the Jews were weary of all the responsibility involved with being a free people, and, rather than ruled by their Conscience, wanted to be ruled by a king. The prophet Samuel warned them that along with a big strong king came big-government, and
“This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
It is not clear exactly what form of government existed 3000 years ago, but it clear it wasn’t a central authority. Apparently the Hebrews followed the dictates of their heart, following certain disciplines to make certain their hearts were set on the highest ideals (IE God) and were not darkened by lowering things (IE False Gods, such as opium). In cases where the dictates of two people’s hearts clashed they brought their disputes before elders called “judges”, but most of the time they lived as freely as birds. Sadly, they slacked off in terms of the necessary discipline, and fell from freedom into despotism.
History repeats itself. Freedom isn’t free, for discipline is involved, to make certain the heart is unencumbered by low tendencies that drag one down. Two disciplines involve, first, loving the Truth, and second, loving ones neighbor. Sadly, Truth is increasingly disregarded (IE: “Fake News”) and neighbors are increasingly seen as an enemy unworthy of respect (IE: looting, among other things).
People who succumb to such a failure of discipline often use someone else’s injustice to justify their own. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they feel they are an exception to the rule.
For example, I run an Outdoor Childcare. I basically make an unprofitable farm just barely profitable by babysitting kids as they run around outside and gawk at chickens. There is little status in calling myself a “babysitter”, so the term “Childcare Professional” was invented, yet Childcare Professionals are very poorly paid. If I wanted to get all political I could say it is wrong for society to invest so little in children, and that “for the children”, old-fashioned traditions should be replaced by new and improved “progressive” concepts. (In actual fact I feel blessed, and that romping around outside showing kids the wonders of nature sure beats working on an assembly line, and other jobs I’ve had.)
This is how it begins, with a sense some injustice is involved. However the rewards of Childcare are not measured in coins; a mother does not have coin-slots by her breasts, and babies are not born with wallets. Yet what is basically a matter of the heart is corrupted by the brainy mentality of an accountant, and teachers can even begin to teach children things that are corrosive to a healthy heart. For example, rather than “Honor Thy Mother and Father”, parents can be portrayed as the enemy.
Teachers who succumb to such leftist dogma are well aware what they are doing, but believe it is for the best. The dogma states it takes roughly twenty years to indoctrinate a generation, and if teachers are only patient they will live to see the benefits. What they hope for is honor and fair pay, (which they already receive), but what they are doing is undermining the very society that they are supposedly serving. They feel they are glorious revolutionaries, but they are puppets training children to be parrots, and will not harvest the crop they hope for.
In 1984 Yuri Bezmenov, a former KGB agent who defected to the United States, stated the cruel and brutal Truth this way,
“They are instrumental in the process of subversion only to destabilize a nation,” he said of the academics and activists. “When their job is completed, they are not needed anymore. They know too much. Some of them, when they get disillusioned, when they see that Marxist-Leninists come to power, obviously they get offended. They think that they will come to power. That will never happen, of course. They will be lined up against the wall and shot.”
This is exactly what Mao did to all China’s teachers and professors during his “Cultural Revolution”, and Stalin didn’t merely “purge” educators, but just about every “comrade” who originally supported him. Pol Pot had nearly everyone who could write executed, for if you had a writer’s callus it was a sign you were a capitalist.
History does repeat itself. History is clear as day, if teachers dare to teach the Truth.
Now is not the time to kowtow to politically-correct propaganda. George Washington may have had slaves, but he wasn’t a mass murderer. Rather he was part of a process that furthered freedom, rather than abolishing it. Democracy faces constant problems, but is the best way we have come up with to handle problems. Life has constant problems, but we do not therefore abolish life. That is either murder or suicide. Therefore rather than seeking to abolish the American Constitution teachers should take the time to study it. It is an amazing document, and needs to be taught.
Once again “these are times that try men’s souls.” Either you stand by Truth, or you are against It.
It has occurred to me that age does not merely make us infirm and decrepit. It also has a benefit, in that some of us become, (unlike certain professors), less likely to fall prey to the goofs of youth, chief of which is infatuation. We are less likely to seize upon an answer and think we have found the solution before we have even gotten our feet wet with the actual problem. The escape from infatuation is to know you do not know the answer, and this realization is fundamental to being truly responsive, which is fundamental to being truly loving.
Every dawn is fresh and new. We may think we know what the weather will be, but in fact we don’t. The most fabulous computers our world has seen (so far) have been devoted to telling us what the weather will be when we get out of bed, and we have seen them proved wrong. Before we go to bed we can study the work of brilliant minds, the computer weather-models of Europe, Canada, the USA, Japan, and others, and they may all promise us a sunny day, but when we rise from bed and step outside to sniff the air we hear the roll of morning thunder. Our Creator has his own plan, and does not heed the computer models. So who should you obey? What your government states the weather will be? Or what our Creator states the weather actually is?
I tend to side with the Creator, for He is the Truth. Computer models are but an approximation, sort of like a four-year-old’s drawing of my face, at my Childcare. I don’t scold the child for a lousy drawing, and I don’t suppose God scolds the fellows who devise computer models. But, when push comes to shove, I tend to consult a mirror before a four-year-old, when it comes to how my wrinkled, toothless, old face looks, and, when it comes to the morning’s weather, I prefer to step outside and sniff the air, and trust my nose more than I trust bureaucrats staring at computer read-outs, far away.
When I step outside to sniff the air I can’t tell you how many times the weather has surprised me. This proves I am not in control. Despite all the effort I’ve put into comprehending the complexity of New England weather, I’m still ignorant. I am faced with my own imperfection on a daily basis, but does this make the dawn imperfect? No, for even when the daybreak annoys me with snow I must shovel, it is perfect. I may call it perfectly annoying, but still it is perfect. If there is any imperfection involved, it is in my grouchy responses.
As a child-care-professional I make no claim to be perfect, though the government regulations at times seem to want to demand perfection, and to desire bubble-wrapping childhood so no child’s knee is ever seen with a scab. Instead of pretending perfection, I wear my imperfections as a reason to laugh, like a joker, like the child-care-professional Yorick, the court jester of Hamlet’s father in Shakespeare’s play. Hamlet recalls riding Yorick’s shoulders as a boy, and kissing him, and the way Yorick could make everyone laugh, but Yorick’s single appearance in the play is as a skull.
Facing mortality is a great blow to the optimism and infatuations of youth, which also owns a completely contrary sense of invulnerability. This is what makes Hamlet’s comment to Horatio so timeless:
Mortality is the great equalizer, because the exact same fate that befalls a jester befalls a king, and awaited Stalin and Sennacherib. Physically we are all doomed. But in terms of minds, Stalin and Sennacherib were downright depressing, whereas Isaiah, Shakespeare, and Norman Rockwell were (and remain) lively. The difference seems to be that the tyrant seeks power while the poet seeks love’s joy, and worldly power is perishable, while love is not.
A sort of epiphany occurred to me during the final weeks before our national elections, here in the USA, last November. At that time Alarmists were sticking with their arguments about sea-ice, despite the fact their arguments were utterly refuted. Worse, young and naive voters were convinced by Alarmist’s baldfaced lies. In effect I was zealously informed by youth (who didn’t know penguins don’t live with polar bears) that I knew nothing about arctic sea-ice.
If you look back across five years on this site you will see how I have sought to learn all I could about sea-ice, and to patiently share what I have learned. And yet some loud child, just barely of voting age, presumes to tell me what the Truth is, about sea-ice?
It stopped me in my tracks. Truth is such a beautiful thing, and I wanted so badly to share the joy and laughter, yet ignorance has power, and a virtual entity like “Google”, that exists unseen, can seek to demote me, so I sink twenty pages down on it’s “search engine”, so impatient youth will never “search” long enough to hear the truth I’ve learned about sea-ice. Instead they will just parrot the falsehood they have been indoctrinated with, by the politically-correct, who may not be aware of it, but are behaving in a Maoist manner.
Call me discouraged if you will, but I needed time to think.
It seems to me that, if Truth has the power I claim it has, and the pen has the power I claim it has, then there has been a singular lack of evidence that corroborates my belief. I seem to be standing in the same shoes that the sane people of Hitler’s Germany, of Stalin’s Russia, and of Mao’s China, stood in.
What was the use of telling the Truth? I seemed to be beating my brains against a brick wall.
I have recently finished reading “In The Garden Of The Beasts” by Erik Larson, describing the days leading up to the ugliness of the night Hitler first revealed the capacity of his hate and his inability to love, called, “The Night of the Long Knives,” from the view of the American ambassador and his somewhat randy and rambunctious daughter.
I don’t like that period of history, for I always see how Hitler could have been stopped, but none would heed the sane voices. Yet a fascination drags me to look at what I don’t like, perhaps to see how the sane managed to stay sane.
For example, when I first read “The Last Lion” by William Manchester, I couldn’t comprehend how Churchill stayed sane during the period 1933 to 1939. He could see where Hitler was headed, and what his aim was, and knew that if Hitler wasn’t stopped then war, and the death of millions, would be the result. But Churchill, (who knew first-hand the horrors of the trenches, and who wanted to avoid a major war), was called a “war monger” for stating Hitler must be confronted and stopped with a minor war. How great must have been his level of frustration! To be ignored, year after year, and to have his own imperfections magnified, as Hitler’s were forgiven. How did he manage to keep a shred of sanity, as the politically-correct steered civilization to a holocaust?
He must have had a mystic faith in some higher power, called Truth, which would win in the end. In a speech Churchill stated that if Hitler was not stopped, and achieved his goals, the world would face a new, prolonged dark age, made worse by the powers of modern science, but even that statement hints at an underlying belief in goodness. How? It suggests that even if the darkness is “prolonged”, it must lose eventually to the dawn of enlightenment.
It is ironic that Churchill was seen as a hawk and war monger, when what he desired was to confront Hitler in 1933, when Hitler was still weak, and when confrontation would allow the world to enjoy peace, and avoid the hell of war. He was the opposite of a war-monger. He was a peace-lover. But perhaps “peace”, at that time, was too intellectually attached to a royalty, wealth, and empire which God had decided to hit with His “ax”, because the empire’s rich exploited the empire’s poor, and when a rich man died “vultures would gather”, and that rich man’s “widow would be destitute”. People in power put the wrong things ahead of the right things, and lustful infatuation came before love.
When I read Churchill’s speeches from the 1930’s I have an odd sense the dude wasn’t really a politician. He was a poet. His prose has a cadence that your toes want to tap to, as you listen. There are some things that touch your heart, even as your mind objects. Such things have their origins in Truth, and seem to me evidence Churchill was a man living in proximity-to and association-with Truth.
That being said, it must be admitted Churchill (like all of us) had his weaknesses, one of which was a fierce loyalty in 1936 to the new English king, Edward.
Such respect of royalty may seem odd in Churchill’s case, for Churchill had an American mother, and gladly embraced a family-legend that his mother’s great-grandmother, (who had the wonderful Puritan name “Experience Martin”), had skin darker than her siblings and may have been the result of an indiscretion involving an Iroquois Indian. This would make Churchill a sort of “half breed”. (I should add that I’ve found no documentary evidence the family-legend is true). However it seems Churchill himself didn’t seem to mind the possibility he had some fierce Iroquois warrior blood in his veins. This may have given him reason to dislike Hitler’s emphasis on “racial purity.” If so, it perhaps should have also made him dislike King Edward’s contempt towards “inferior races” as well. Instead, Churchill enacted intense patriotic respect for the monarchy, (which American patriots can’t comprehend, unless they can comprehend that back then badmouthing the British monarchy was the English equivalent of an American spitting on the American flag.)
Edward is an odd character, for, at a time when great men craved power, he wanted to be done with it. Where Stalin and Hitler would kill for power, and Churchill would take the most unpopular stances with bulldog determination seeking to gain power through persuasion, Edward seemingly was more comfortable as an obedient and even subservient follower. Not that he didn’t have some strong opinions.
Edward had reason to hate communists, as his aunt had been murdered along with her husband, (the Russian Czar), and all her four children. Therefore he approved of Hitler’s hatred of communists. He also didn’t mind Hitler’s love of Germans, as he was largely German himself. He shared Hitler’s belief that some races were “inferior”, and in his travels around the British Empire he had little sympathy for his impoverished subjects, tending to see poverty not as a choice, or as a misfortune, but as brought about by the genetically diminished intelligence of an inferior race. Lastly, he didn’t mind Hitler’s autocratic mindset, because democracy had been such a shambles in Germany, which suggested an autocrat was necessary. To Edward the alternative to a fascist tyrant seemed to be a communist tyrant. Europe had seen few examples of revolution having results like America’s; largely European revolution resulted in some sort of “Terror” like France’s, and to resulting in people falling back to the “safety” of some sort of monarch, or a dictator like Napoleon.
One thing that made the royalty and the upper class so despised by communists of that time was that their lifestyle made them dependent on a staff of servants. Royalty were freed from doing their own laundry, which may have given them time to attend to other matters, but meant they were in fact inept, in terms of doing laundry. But some did not see themselves as inept, but rather as “more civilized”. People who lived more minimalist lifestyles, wherein one prepared ones own food, cut ones own firewood, and washed ones own clothes, were sometimes deemed “less civilized”, simply because such minimalists had little free time to sit about discussing politics at cocktail parties. It was not uncommon for the wealthiest English Brahman to not merely have clean clothes laid out twice a day, but to have a servant who dressed them. In some cases the servants were appreciated and well cared-for, (Churchill’s staff were largely devoted to him), but in other cases the staff felt disdained, because their unappreciative bosses looked down their noses and said the “inferior” should “know their place”. This belittling was what the communists most despised, and a servant’s natural dislike of an employer’s unappreciative snobbery was a resentment communists tended to nurture, like a small cut into an abscess, from a pout towards rage and revolution.
In a simplistic manner this tended to divide a nation’s naturally united people into Royalists and Antiroyalists, or the Bourgeoisie and the Prolatariate. To continue this simplistic division, Edward was faced with a choice between Hitler and Stalin, and, because Stalin was on the side that had murdered his Aunt and Uncle and all their children, the choice seemed simple. Though the pictures below are from a year later (1937) they demonstrate a friendliness between Edward and Hitler that likely would have made Churchill cringe. (Between the two pictures Hitler likely gallantly kissed the lady’s hand).
The woman in the above pictures is the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, who the king eventually gave up his throne for. The king was likely warned the relationship with her was unwise, (as “intelligence” [IE: gossip and spies] stated she had not only enjoyed an affair with Hitler’s foreign minister, Ribbentrop, but years earlier had an affair with Mussolini’s son-in-law [while in China, of all places]). However Edward likely knew much about the indiscretions of the upper class, having been a playboy himself, nor was he particularly upset about prewar, (pre-genocide) fascism, having been brought up to believe he was a king and superior to “commoners”, due to his “royal blood” alone. Ms Simpson likely was a person with whom he could be frank, about the foibles of leaders, and was a woman who knew much about the presumptions of the powerful, and with her he likely enjoyed a level of understanding he didn’t find elsewhere, and he fell in love.
Because king Edward had access to “red boxes” holding state secrets, (to keep him abreast of government decisions), and because Mrs.Simpson was suspected of being a spy, some were alarmed by how open he was with her. A private detective was hired to trail them. But in 1936 the upper class were oblivious to the approaching holocaust. Churchill’s deep distrust of Hitler, and of fascism in general, was not a widely held view. Many of England’s upper class, like Edward, felt Hitler was a good opponent for Stalin, and Hitler ought be supported, to stand as a “bulwark” against the rise of communism in Russia, and that Hitler could be controlled. Meanwhile Hitler felt England would eventually side with him, and that Edward could be controlled.
In spiritual terms both royalists and communists (in my view) are birds of a feather, for they both are based on autocratic concepts, and tend to want to be rid of restraints to absolute power, such as “constitutional monarchy” or “democratic socialism.” Royalists and Communists see each other as absolute opposites, and are unaware that, because “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”, they actually create each other, and are dependent on each other, due to the perverse, Karmic nature of hatred. This was about to become horribly clear in the Spanish Civil War, but in 1936 that nightmare hadn’t started yet.
Churchill clearly saw that Hitler could not be controlled by appeasement, and that force would be required, but had a difficult time marshaling public opinion, as the British public loathed the thought of another war. He finally seemed to making some headway in 1936, after Hitler ignored signed treaties and broke trust by marching troops into the demilitarized Rhineland. Hitler himself later stated that, if the French had marched their own troops in to meet him, he would have had to back off, and that his move was a big gamble. Confronting Hitler was exactly what Churchill urged. He was winning support, and at this point, (when reading “The Last Lion“) I feel a surge of hope (even though I know the future), for Churchill’s power-of-persuasion was on the verge of saving Europe from the approaching holocaust. But then, right when an ordinary politician would make sure to keep cultivating a popular position, mincing and smirking towards cameras and the press, Churchill does something in his bulldog manner that was bound to lose votes.
It was right then Edward announced his intent to marry the divorced commoner Ms. Simpson. The public was horrified. The outrage was not so much that Ms. Simpson was a commoner, (or a fascist spy), but that that she was divorced not merely once, but in the process of divorcing a second husband.
It is difficult for people nowadays to understand the shame and disgrace involved back then, when people broke their marriage vows. Not that the upper crust didn’t cheat on each other, but they didn’t divorce. (In fact some upper class marriages involved couples able to have tremendous rows about the affairs they discovered each other were having, who still were able to make-up, and laugh about their moral indiscretions, later in their marriages.) (King Edward VII (Edward’s grandfather) may even have had a door put in at the back of the palace, so Queen Victoria would not see his lovers coming and going, but he would never, never divorce his queen.) In conclusion, while an affair might be dismissed as a “foible”, a divorce was a big deal. In 1935, when Edward had introduced Ms. Simpson to his mother and father (IE “presented her at court”) his father was furious when he discovered she was divorced, for divorced women simply were not allowed in to be present at court. The English church deemed relations with a divorced woman “adultery”. The British press was silent about the kings “affair”, (even as the American press blared the news), hoping that the new king would get over his “infatuation”, and the affair could be discreetly dismissed. The British press imposed this self-censorship for they were well aware of the outrage that would occur if the public was asked to accept such a woman as their queen.
There was a lot of behind-the-scenes speculation about what gave Ms. Simpson her power. Edward seemed “under her thumb” and “to enjoy being ordered about”. Various pseudo-psychological ideas were bandied about, basically involving her being really good in bed, and the king being masochistic, but none of this solved the problem, which was that Edward was smitten. Finally the press couldn’t hide the romance much longer, as the English who visited United States read the great delight the American Press got over the idea of an American queen. Finally Prime Minister Baldwin visited Edward to bring things to a head, basically telling him the English people would not accept Ms. Simpson as their queen.
As this news broke Churchill was immediately loyal to the king, which cost him much of his new-found popularity. It was typical for Churchill to take unpopular stances, but when I read this part of “the Last Lion” I groaned and rolled my eyes. Why should Churchill be loyal? Edward disagreed with Churchill and felt Hitler should be allowed to militarize the Rhineland. He disagreed with Churchill and said the Italians should be allowed to march into Ethiopia. When the Ethiopian king visited England seeking aid, Edward refused to meet him. Yet Churchill remained loyal. Churchill floated the idea of a “morganatic marriage”, where the king could remain king but his wife would not be called “queen”, and it floated like a lead balloon.
Perhaps Churchill’s loyalty was in part due to the fact his own father had married an American, so he was less scandalized by Edward’s choice of a foreign commoner, but it also was founded on an old-fashioned British belief in near-blind loyalty to the king, (as a figurehead, if not in fact). As a rebellious American, I, of course, have problems with such loyalty to any worldly king, preferring a concept, “liberty”, as my ruler, (though that too can be a false god, if “liberty” is anything short of true Truth.)
In some ways the loyalty of those times seems quaint and archaic, though “those times” are relatively recent times. It is an indication of how brutalized ordinary faith has become, that fidelity, whether to a marriage or to a leader, is now something we deem laughable, and even sneer at. However loyalty was in Churchill’s blood, and even when he opposed he was “the loyal opposition”. He would lose all the political capital he had painstakingly gained before he would throw his king under the bus. This made me groan as I read about it, for Hitler marched into the Rhineland unopposed.
This was all the more exasperating because Edward had more compassion towards Hitler than he had towards Churchill. Fascists could be loyal to royalty, while communists killed royalty. Furthermore, if you want to play at being a pseudo-psychologist, Edward preferred heiling someone else, to being a king and shouldering the burden of responsibility. There are embarrassing pictures of him teaching the future queen of England to heil when she was just a child.
There are other pictures of Edward supposedly “heiling” Germans (when he may have been merely waving.)
But then Edward did something that baffled the mind-set of both Hitler and Stalin. He gave up power. For what? For loyalty to a lady he loved, loved more than power. In this manner he was equal to Churchill, (though not in matters of insight and intelligence.)
A picture that chills me is from 1937, which demonstrates Edward’s lack of insight and intelligence and especially foresight. He is inspecting the troops of the cruel and merciless Nazi SS.
One odd thing about this picture is that it may be photo-shopped. I have seen other versions of the same picture, wherein Edward has an arm raised and “heiling”. The question then becomes, which is the photo-shopped photo? Has the above photo been “cleaned up” by monarchists, or was the “heiling” photo “made politically-correct” by communists?
It doesn’t really matter, for both sides are haywire, in my humble opinion, for both sides are autocratic, and therefore cut off from the healing powers of Love. However even as late as 1937 Edward could have thought he was wise and politically-correct to heil the SS, and that Churchill was the naive and foolish poet. (Although Churchill was loyal to Edward, I see little evidence Edward returned the favor.)
The idea at that time was that Hitler could be controlled. By flattering here, and appeasing there, Hitler could be utilized as a useful puppet in the real war, which was against the communists who were determined to murder the upper class. Stalin was the beast, and Hitler was merely beastly.
By 1937 it was clear Hitler was a murderer. He didn’t merely disenfranchise and rob Jews; his insanely patriotic Brown Shirts didn’t merely beat American tourists who didn’t know enough to “heil” passing troops. Hitler himself had Rohm, his good buddy and leader of the “Brown Shirts”, executed, (just as Stalin had his former comrade Trotsky assassinated). Such behavior was definitely not proper among the English upper crust, but, because Hitler respected royalty where Stalin didn’t, Hitler’s atrocities could be winked at. The politically-correct felt Hitler could be cultivated, advised, and used as a useful tool, for Germans would eventually wage war with Russia (as Hitler promised to do in his autobiography). Then, as Germans and Russians slaughtered each other, the English politically-correct could sit back and enjoy the benefits of peace, and of being “better”, like Brahmans served by Untouchables, superior-to and more-civilized-than and intellectually-smarter-than murderous barbarians, like Stalin and Hitler.
In my humble opinion, if, ( and I stress “if”), these smug people, discussing international politics over scotch-and-soda at a cocktail party, actually had the control they imagined they had, then they should be included in the ranks of mass murderers. Of course, they would flatter themselves, and think they were saving the lives of British troops, and it would only be “other” soldiers dying, out of view. They would be deeply offended if I told them they were plotting the murder of millions of Germans and millions of Russians, to preserve their own lives of soft, plush, upper-class luxury. In a sense they were no different than Mao, certain that what was good for them was good for not merely Britain, but the entire World.
Such upper-class intellectuals had no real excuse for their vanity. They had attended the best schools, and had been forced to study dreary poetry, and had seen the work of the poet John Keats, who in fact describes just such hardhearted people as the elite of 1936 became, when describing (In 1818) two brothers who killed their own sister’s lover:
“With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt, Enriched from ancestral merchandize, And for them many a weary hand did swelt In torched mines and noisy factories, And many once proud-quiver’d loins did melt In blood from stinging whip;–with hollow eyes Many all day in dazzling river stood, To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath, And went all naked to the hungry shark; For them his ears gush’d blood; for them in death The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe A thousand men in troubles wide and dark: Half-ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel, That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts Gush’d with more pride than do a wretch’s tears?– Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?– Why were they proud? Because red-lin’d accounts Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?– Why were they proud? again we ask aloud, Why in the name of Glory were they proud?”
What naive fools the politically correct of 1936 turned out to be! But they were sure they had things all figured out. To them politics was like a game of billiards, and they were certain they saw how all the balls lay, and that they had all the shots all figured out and arranged, but then the layout of things changed, because others shot first.
To jump ahead, rather than Germany and Russia exhausting themselves in a war between communists and fascists, in August 1939 Stalin and Hitler, supposedly worst and irreconcilable enemies, agreed to be friends. Who could have ever predicted that? But both evil men stood to gain, as they had agreed to together wipe Poland off the face of the map, dividing the spoils.
Then Stalin got to sit back and laugh, for he likely knew Hitler had been cultivated to destroy him, but, instead of communists being destroyed, he got to to see Hitler turn the full brunt of his military might onto peaceful and unsuspecting non-communists, as for two years communists enjoyed, if not peace and prosperity, at least time to recover from self-destructive purges, and an utterly bungled war with tiny Finland. (Little did Stalin know the enormous price Russia would pay for these two years of peace. It is never a wise thing to feed a mad dog, nor to help a Hitler.)
But now allow me to jump back to 1936, when the politically-correct were completely unaware of what lay ahead. It should have been obvious to these ignoramuses (and was all too painfully obvious to Churchill) that they were making some serious mistakes, (but instead they continued to believe they held the strings and others were the puppets, until they were completely embarrassed by the falling of France, when it started looking like Hitler held the strings, and that they themselves were the puppets, at which point they turned to Churchill, [likely not because they they thought Churchill could bring victory, but because they they themselves wanted to escape the blame of defeat.])
(In actual fact Truth held the strings, but powerful people seldom give credit where credit is due.)
1936 also marked the start of the Spanish Civil War. My take is that the nation was suffering the birth-pains of reform, with the people who desired reform arguing with those who liked the old ways, and, rather than a two-party-system allowing these disagreements to be worked out in a civil manner, things became uncivil. (This is called a “civil” war, though it is the exact opposite of civility.) What is particularly horrible is how outsiders exacerbated the incivility, rather than making peace. Hitler and Mussolini supported the traditionalists, as Stalin supported the reformers, and both sides got to try out their new weapons and their techniques for “controlling the masses”, and in the process did much to destroy both Spanish traditions and reforms. Meanwhile the politically correct of England didn’t lift a finger to help. They had a “hands off” policy, publicly stating the civil war involved the “internal affairs” of Spain, and needed to be resolved by the Spanish, while privately gloating how the Fascists and Communists were spending so much money, as they didn’t spend a dime. I think some patted themselves on the back, seeing Spain’s horrible suffering as proof they were successfully employing Hitler as a “bulwark” against Stalin.
Yet despite the government’s official non-involvement, the Spanish agony touched the hearts of all sorts of young poets. Even when doing so broke certain laws, they rushed to Spain to fight, some for Republican principles, winding up with Stalin’s troops, and some for Jesus and the Church, winding up with Hitler’s troops. Most were profoundly disillusioned by what they went through, and many accurately wrote about the complete inhumanity and stupidity involved. (A good example is Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”) My favorite example of an artist being disillusioned was Eric Arthur Blair, who joined the anti-fascist Republican side, and got shot through the throat by Franco’s fascists, yet, surviving that, also nearly got killed by the side he had joined, as the communists involved felt he should be “purged”.
Most know this poet by his pen name, “George Orwell”, (and whose work I didn’t at all like, when I was forced to read it, [“Animal Farm” and “1984“], in high school English classes, when I was fifteen, for I found his work “depressing”, and utterly unlike what I called “true poetry”, [which “inspired” rather than “depressed]”.) However Eric Arthur Blair’s view of Truth was based on grim, ugly facts, and on what he actually experienced, and he has been rewarded with the adjective, “Orwellian”, which describes how ugly life looks, if politically-correct standards are upheld.
Neither Hitler nor Stalin cared much for the advice of Jesus, but, along those lines, neither did the Catholic Church of Spain. The Spanish Inquisition is a horrendous example of a church disgracing the name of Jesus. And, if Karma is a reality, and if it is true that what goes around comes around, perhaps the Spanish Catholic church was merely reaping what it sowed, when priests, friars and nuns were murdered without trial in the Spanish Civil War. (The Wikipedia figures are: 4,184 priests, 2,365 monks and friars, and 283 nuns.)
However, in terms of propaganda, it doesn’t seem entirely wise for communists to have a picture like the picture below appear in the London Newspaper, the Daily Mail, with the heading “Spanish Reds war on religion.” (The picture below was such bad publicity that the cynic in me thinks it may well have been posed, and be propaganda.)
While it may be a Marxist belief that “religion is the opiate of the masses”, to actually execute Jesus a second time seems like unwise publicity for communists, for many of the proletariat, even when they dislike priests, like to go to the sanctuary of a church and to idealize that a Superior to priests is present on the alter. Therefore it was also bad propaganda to take an alter that looked like this:
And make it look like this:
However the worst publicity the communists could have ever imagined was named Andre Marty, who brought the paranoid insanity of a Stalinist purge to the struggles in Spain. Like Mao he felt it was necessary to “purify”, not by killing the enemy, but by killing soldiers on his own side. He held some title like “Commissar Of Foreign Troops,” which gave him the power to execute, (with only a pretense of a trial), any who begged to differ with him. This might include idealistic young poets who came to Spain to sacrifice their lives fighting Fascism, but who happened to think Trotsky had some good ideas. Rather than fighting a fascist they got killed by a communist. Of the roughly 5000 foreigners who died fighting for the anti-fascist side, only 4500 were killed by fascists, for Andrè Marty rather proudly stated he had executed 500.
But Marty couldn’t kill all the poets, and those he let slip through his nets are not kind to his memory. Hemingway is cruel, describing Andrè Marty, (not even bothering to change his name), in “For Whom The Bell Tolls“. In the case of Eric Arthur Blair, who barely escaped Marty’s purges, Marty (and Stalin) will be immortalized, as long as the book lives, as the evil pig Napoleon in “Animal Farm“.
Eric Arthur Blair had surprising difficulty getting “Animal Farm” published. Even when he found a publisher, the publisher changed his mind after a visit from a prominent member of England’s “Ministry of Information” (who later turned out to be a Stalinist double agent.) Such opposition seems a bit odd, considering Eric’s tale is basically a fairy tale and fable, involving talking animals. However those who read it seemed to know it held dynamite: Truth too true for revelation. (Stalin had become an Allie of England, after being double-crossed by Hitler, when the book was being written, and the book could have been censored then, because war-time censorship ruled, and being “anti-Russia” was unhelpful to the war effort. However, after the war was won, when the publisher initially accepted the book, such censorship should have been relaxed, yet still many of the politically-correct didn’t want to see the fairy tale published, and publishers continued a sort of censorship, taking on the role of “gatekeepers”.) This suppression not only didn’t discourage Eric Arthur Blair; it encouraged him to write “1984“.
However I have leaped ahead of myself. In 1936 the politically-correct had no idea where England would be in ten years, nor that they’d ever have to get Churchill out of power, in an attempt to regain their odd mode of highly hypocritical moral leadership. In 1936 they smugly sat back and watched Spain as fascists butchered communists, and communists butchered fascists, and thought to themselves, “This is how the game is played.”
This is not how the game is played. You are not allowed to sit back, when gifted with power, and to passively observe inhumanity. Sooner or later you will repent your inaction, as the inhumanity rises up to bite you. Yet so many politically-correct people in history believe it is wise to turn a blind eye to immorality, and then over and over are flabbergasted to find their own necks stretched on the guillotine. (The inventor of the guillotine was beheaded by his own invention.)
By 1936 Stalin’s inhumanity was obvious, as was Hitler’s. Stalin was purging many of his best generals, (which may explain why his army was pathetic when it tried to overpower tiny Finland in 1939.) Hitler had purged many of the Brown Shirts who were responsible for bringing him to power. Stalin in fact purged every “founding father” of Russia’s rebellion in 1917, because they were not Stalinist enough, because they were not Stalin. And, in like manner, Andrè Marty was killing the poets who bravely came to Spain to fight fascism. Is it any wonder his side lost?
This is not how the game is played. Killing the people on your own side is distinctly unwise. And, while Stalin and Hitler made this a “sin of commission”, to sit back and smugly watch was a “sin of omission”, (unless you, as an editor, censored or used “gatekeeper” status to silence those poets attempting to be whistle-blowers, in which case you were involved in a sly and subtle “sin of commission”). In all cases such politically-correct behavior will rise up to bite you, history shows.
For the sake of argument I’ll briefly entertain the concept that “desperate times require desperate deeds.” Some will argue that the Republican position in Spain was so perilous that Andrè Marty was justified in hacking off heads, to “discipline” troops.
I will counter by comparing his behavior with the behavior of George Washington, when he was in an equally desperate and perilous situation in December, 1776.
In twelve months Washington had fallen far. He had fallen from marching into Boston victorious, after driving the English out, to being driven from New York City defeated, and getting his army’s butt booted by Cornwallis clear across New Jersey and across the Delaware River, to where some of his his ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-supplied troops wrapped their bootless feet in rags and left bloody footprints in the snow at Valley Forge. People who had praised him twelve months before, stating “We” are winning, were now grumbling that “You” are losing. He desperately needed help but wasn’t getting any. What did he do? Kill people who criticized?
No. Instead he was truthful, and expressed to everyone that he needed support urgently.
First, he told the colonial congress that if they didn’t send food and clothing they soon would have no army. Instead of food they sent four representatives unannounced, and Washington interrupted his busy schedule and showed them the army’s dire need in person, and the representatives got the message loudly and clearly, and brought the message back to Philadelphia, and then supplies-for-troops became a top priority among politicians in Philadelphia, (as did extra pay for the troops).
Second, he was truthful with his troops. He confessed they were in dire straits, and ordered that they fast and pray, for God’s help. He also pleaded for their help. Many had only enlisted for the year 1776, and had every right to to go home to their farms (where they would be warmer and better fed) on January first. Washington begged them to stay just two more weeks, promising them ten dollars extra in their pay, and also explaining that their nation desperately needed them, and that they had a great power and influence, in the present tense, that they might never, never have again. For a moment none of the sullen troops stepped forward, but then, slowly and somewhat reluctantly, most of them did.
Third, on a practical level, he demanded General Charles Lee bring 2000 troops down from the north and Colonel John Cadwalader bring recruits from Philadelphia north (around 1000). He got no response. Just then a letter from Lee to Cadwalader passed through Washington’s camp. In his need to know if reinforcements were coming, Washington opened the letter.
The letter continued an ongoing discussion between the two men about how Washington might not be a general fit for the job of freeing America. Such doubt might be expected from Lee, who had made it fairly obvious that he felt he, and not Washington, should command the Army, but Cadwalader was a friend and confidant of Washington’s, and the exposure of his dwindling faith likely hurt. (Basically the letter wondered if Washington lacked the necessary assertiveness to be decisive, suggesting he was too prone to back off. In essence it stated Washington retreated too much, and didn’t know how to attack.)
Stalin or Hitler or Andrè Marty would have had the two men immediately “purged”. Immediately “Liquidated.” Washington? He apologized for reading their mail, and explained why he had done so.
Washington’s gentleness might not be politically-correct among those of a dog-eat-dog mentality, but I think it was very effective. Honesty always is. At the very least it told both men that Washington respected their exchange of thoughts. How they then felt, I don’t know. However it seems that, rather than executing the two men, Washington took their accidentally revealed “advice” to heart, for he immediately became more decisive, and attacked.
He was helped by two things. First, his troops, who had felt neglected and forgotten, abruptly felt cared for, as Washington’s efforts succeeded in bringing foodstuffs, and perhaps more importantly blankets (which meant more than we can imagine, as the blankets were actually hand-made by supporters), and furthermore brought news that the public was touched by the soldier’s efforts and their suffering. Thomas Paine’s inspiring and poetic broadsheet, “The Crisis”, may even have reached the troops, though it is dated December 23 and they first crossed the Delaware December 25, (and communication was slower before the internet.) “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
Ten days later the situation had radically changed. Washington had crossed the Delaware three times and defeated the English at Trenton, and then stalled Conwallis’s counterattack with delaying skirmishes at Five Mile Run and Shabakunk Creek, and a stand at the bridge in the Battle of Assunpink Creek. Then Washington out-maneuvered Cornwallis, for as night fell Cornwallis drew up his forces and planned to attack across the creek in the morning, certain he was about to “bag the old fox”. Across the creek bright fires burned and the clinking and clanking of picks and shovels made it sound like trenches were being dug and earthworks erected, but the fires and noise was made by a group of men left behind to create the illusion Washington was still there, as he slipped away. These noisy men slipped away as well, in the first dusk of dawn, and when Cornwallis attacked the next day he found no Americans. They were away, winning the Battle of Princeton. At this point the winter was growing harsh, so the British retreated north to await the warmer weather of spring. The Americans also hunkered down to await the spring, but in far more comfortable circumstances, as they had captured all sorts of provisions.
Though seemingly small victories, the news that Washington wasn’t in retreat, but that he had fought back and won, did wonders for American morale. On the streets of New York City, behind enemy lines, the news Washington had captured a thousand Hessian troops was spread by mouth, and the effect was electric.
But their joy is off the point. The point I wish to make is that Washington didn’t need to “purge” a single soul, to turn the tide.
In many senses Washington was down to his last dime; he was very nearly a general without an army, and had to plead with his troops not to abandon him, as so many had only enlisted for 1776, and were free to go home on January first. Yet he never threatened them. They were given a choice. Some did depart on January first, but most chose to stay, and to be part of tiny army that defeated a superpower.
When I compare Washington’s behavior to Andrè Marty’s, I sense I am seeing something missed by those who subscribe to certain unspiritual ideas about power-politics. It seems to be a difference between being crudely politically-correct or having a more high-minded Karmic-Correctness.
Once again the two different ways of behaving basically boils down to the difference between infatuation and love, yet this distinction eludes the logic of many. They cannot see why the American Revolution didn’t result in the “Terror” of the French Revolution, or the dual “Red Terror” and “White Terror” of the Spanish Civil War, or the terrible “Night Of Long Knives” of Hitler’s accent, or the terror of Stalin’s terrible purges or of Mao’s “Proletarian Cultural Revolution”.
If Truth must be known, the American Revolution also had its “terrors.” War is hell, and the American Revolution could well be called “The First American Civil War”. In areas under the Crown’s control Loyalists felt free to dispossess “traitorous” Patriots, (including some men who signed the Declaration of Independence), jailed other Patriots in prisonships so abysmal that many died, and hung some, (like Nathan Hale, a mere school teacher), as spies, but later these same Loyalists found themselves dispossessed of all wealth and property and sent penniless north by the thousands, to trudge to Canada. Yet, as these Loyalists trekked north, many would not have made it to Canada, were it not for the mercy of rural farmers whom they had formerly scorned as “bumpkins,” and had called “enemies of the Crown.” All in all, comparing the American Revolution with other Revolutions in other lands, it was a civil war with far more civility than usual.
To even suggest suggest history holds the fingerprints of anything “High” opens a can of worms, for many find belief difficult when they look at genocides, slaughters, and demoralizing behaviors. They do have a belief, but it is a belief in disbelief. In Truth, they are mistaken, and there is a reason for hope. And I could end this writing with that (but will go on).
As soon as I state, as an American, that the revolution that created the United States had a higher and more ethical side than other civil wars, I fully expect to “catch it from both sides”; for being a mushy dreamer who lacks the spine to take a stand. Why? Because in many situations I feel both sides are wrong. I assert that, unless one prefers to see a revolution and civil war wherein millions die, and wherein both the principles of reform and the principles of tradition are shattered, and wherein humanity degenerates to foulness and lowness, a so-called “centrist” position is desirable. All this means is one listens to others; one respects others; the reformer listens to the traditionalist as the traditionalist listens to the reformer; in other words, a “two-party-system”, where respect and honor and even loving-one’s-enemies are held in high regard, and beheading opponents is regarded with disdain.
People do not become faithless without reason. A baby is born with faith that its cries will be answered, but if left all alone in a cold and dark room it may be deeply scarred. In like manner many young idealists have wild hopes in a compassionate Almighty, and believe they are invulnerable because a kind Deity watches over them, and then, like the youth who dashed off to help “the right side” in the Spanish Civil War, have their faith mangled by the hell of war. They often then bounce from one extreme to the other; from naive faith to fierce atheism. In actual fact faith needs to mature, and become centered.
History demonstrates, over and over, that when a society loses faith in the decency of respect and honor, they in some way become disconnected to the roots of Truth. A withering of the lush, green and vigorous vines springing from love and liberty occurs. Even a “Chosen People” like the Jews can suffer ruinous exile from their capital of Jerusalem, as Jeremiah so poignantly describes in “Lamentations.” Conversely, when a people behave in an opposite manner, they become filled with some sort of sap springing from the roots of Truth, and they prosper and gain powers no one expected.
Allow me briefly sidetrack to an example of how things unexpectedly worked out for George Washington. It involves General Charles Lee, who was not being as helpful as he could have been, and who Stalin would have purged. Lee was taking far longer than he should have taken to bring the 2000 troops he commanded south to help Washington in the time of crisis. It has been suggested he had ulterior motives for his delay, and that either, (when he accused Washington of lacking the courage to battle) he was doing what psychobabble calls, “projecting”, (and he himself feared battle), or that he slyly calculated that if Washington’s troops were decimated as his force remained unscathed he would become de facto commander. He lacked Washington’s commitment to the cause; where Washington served without pay Lee’s letters complain he should be paid more. Then, as if divinity stepped in, Lee was removed, and no “purge” was necessary.
It happened like this: As his troops slowly preceded south Lee decided to forgo the discomfort of winter tents and to spend a night in a comfortable tavern three miles behind the lines. It has been suggested “a lady of the evening” may have been involved. Early the next morning a raiding party of 25 British horsemen, carefully avoiding the 2000 troops, came galloping up to the tavern. Lee hid in his nightgown, but the tavern owner’s wife, fearing her property would be torched, ran outside screaming that she was a Loyalist, and that General Lee had forced her to house him against her will. The English were delighted to capture a general. Then, with Lee out of the picture, the second-in-command led the 2000 troops south to Washington with haste.
(As an aside to an aside, General Lee did not go to a dismal prison-ship, but was housed well in New York City, (because officers treated officers with dignity, back then), and later was returned to Washington in a “prisoner-exchange.” Washington gave him a second chance, because trained generals were in short supply among ragtag troops, but when Lee again refused to follow orders, this time refusing to attack in the heat of a battle and allowing the English to escape a trap, Washington was done with him. And if you wonder how Washington could replace such a skilled person, again divinity seemingly stepped in, for Tadeusz Kościuszko unexpectedly arrived from Poland.)
Call me a dreamer if you will, and dismiss such events as luck and coincidence, but when I see these events sprinkled through history I always shake my head in amazement. It seems to me there is a Power whom the powerful are deaf and blind to, yet Whom the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
The politically-correct, who think they know all there is to know about power, are always blind-sided by this Mystery. This occurs because they see worldly power as an end-all and be-all, when it is actually a byproduct of a greater things: Life, Liberty and Love. Because political power is a byproduct, it actually is a bit like manure. Manure is a byproduct of farming, and valuable for enriching the soil of a garden, but it would be absurd to see manure as being so important that one blew up entire farms for piles of shit. Yet the politically-correct, one way or another, always seem to succumb to this lunacy, and, because they ignore what is important, preferring shit, they are always utterly amazed when power is snatched away and given to those who do not subscribe to their views; consequently they are blind-sided.
For an ancient example, when Genghis Khan was born around 1162 few cared a hoot about a bunch of crazy cowboys riding about and fighting neighboring cowboys on a remote prairie, far from the centers of power. When he died seventy-five years later, Japan, China, Russia, Persia and all of Europe feared him. How the heck did such a rural hick gain such power?
It seems to me that, though people now primarily see Genghis Khan as a mass murderer, he did have some spiritual qualities. He did slaughter large populations who resisted him, but also absorbed people who would work with him. He seemed to have a keen awareness of his own weaknesses, and knew that he needed others. For example, as a nomad he had no idea how to run a city, so he sought people who knew how to run the cities he conquered. Yet he did not always seek such governors from the politically-correct; he would ignore a Brahman of high rank in favor of an Untouchable who had a proven record of getting things done. In like manner, he ignored religious big-shots who thought they were high priests, in favor of humble friars and monks who could simply talk the talk and also walk the walk. This ability to judge men by the quality of their character, rather than the political-correctness of their caste, enabled him to first unite a collection of warring cowboys into a powerful nation, and, second, to unify the peoples he conquered into a religiously tolerant empire, (which was [and is] an unexpected tolerance to see, in one whom many now regard as a mass murderer).
In 1162 the politically-correct in China were likely imagining they had complete control over the Mongol cowboys to their north, and that they were clever and crafty to pit Mongol against Mongol, supporting one group of cowboys one month and another the next. And yes, such diplomacy might wreck havoc among the Mongol tribes, and cause much misery upon those distant steppes, but making misery elsewhere only proved (supposedly) that the Chinese were smarter and superior to northern-barbarian neighbors. When they tricked such loser Mongol tribes into killing each other off, what harm could come of it?
The politically correct of China were completely blind-sided by the Karmic consequences and repercussions. They never saw the Mongol cowboys coming, never envisioned unified hoards galloping south from over the horizon and taking over their entire land, and ruling it. Yet, like the Jews of Jeremiah’s Jerusalem, they got the “ax” they deserved. In fact, they got a worse “ax” than the Jews, for after the Mongols, China saw the invading Manchus of Manchuria, and then got Imperialistic Europeans. But would any of this Karmic backlash have happened, if they had treated Mongols (and other non-Chinese) differently, in the first place?
In like manner, in 1450, who, of all the politically-correct in Europe, as laser-focused (as they were) on the post-Byzantine treachery of the spice-wars between the Ottoman and Venetian Empires, payed any attention to three tiny kingdoms far to the west, at the very periphery of Europe, called Portugal, Aragon, and Castile? Yet, a half century later, the Pope was dividing the entire planet between the Portuguese and Spanish empires. Yet, even as Spain and Portugal gained their power, who was paying attention to the obscure Island to the north, Britain? Who then could dream that, (as I described earlier), Britain would come close to ruling the world? And yet, as the English first felt their power, who paid much attention to their thirteen impoverished colonies clinging to the east coast of North America?
The point I am trying to make is that the politically-correct often don’t see what is coming, even though they often exude a plush assurance that purrs like a sleek cat’s, and radiate confidence that insists they have power, and control. They don’t control, which is shown by how often history demonstrates them being blind-sided by shifts in power. They like to think they see the future and have invested wisely, but often wind up looking like an investor in horses and buggies just before the invention of the car, or an investor in typewriters just before the the invention of the word-processor. Their vision of the future is clouded, because they ignore Truth, and instead are besotted by power. They fail to see the true Source of power, and that power itself is a byproduct like manure. In this manner the politically-correct are worshiping a “false god” and are led by “false prophets.” To be blunt, they worship shit.
Not that there is anything wrong with a byproduct, in and of itself. As a farmer I call manure “brown gold” and recognize its power to be helpful in the nourishment of plants in my garden. But I do not value the shit more than the animals that produce the shit, which is what, in a manner of speaking, the politically-correct seem all too prone to doing. History seems to over and over demonstrate how the politically-correct put shit ahead of what matters more, and how they are then are astonished when their future turns brown and stinks.
In many ways the more wicked of the politically-correct are comical, if one is able to detach oneself from all the unnecessary heartache they cause. Like jealous schoolgirls, anxious to be seen as fashionable, they rush hither and thither from fad to fad, glad to be seen in the right place and in a panic when fashion shifts and what was right becomes wrong. Though pompous and vainglorious, (and highly offended if you equate them with schoolgirls), top-hatted bankers can be a joke. They are full of themselves when stocks soar, and then verge on suicide when markets crash. While money is no more evil than manure, love of money is a madness worthy of laughing at, reminiscent of a gambler’s yo-yoing mood as he makes ten thousand at nine o’clock and has lost it by ten. At nine he is radiant and struts through the casino with a babe on either arm, and at ten he trudges in despair with his complexion green, all alone, as his fair-weather-friends have all fled. Without roots drinking deeply of Truth, people are reduced to being but panicky lemmings dashing back and forth between two cliffs.
Sadly, faith in the Truth has been shattered by horrible amounts of unnecessary heartache. The very people entrusted with the upholding of faith have abused the trust so severely, and been such awful hypocrites, that people have lost faith in faith. Where Washington once ordered his troops to fast and pray, such faithful behavior is now deemed politically-incorrect. To suggest civility might have political benefits tends to be laughed at, in our cynical times. It tends to spoofed, (for example, in Monty Python skits). However even the spoofing of civility has an odd peacemaking power, because it makes people laugh, and it is hard to strike out in rage when you are laughing.
In fact I once knew a cheerful young man at an English public school, (back when corporal punishment was commonplace, and bullying and baiting were the norm), who sailed through many dangerous social-situations and escaped unscathed, simply by pretending to be terribly offended and challenging people twice his size (even teachers) to fisticuffs. In a voice halfway between an English Lord and Foghorn Leghorn’s, he’d shout, “Sir! You have pushed me too far! Honor is at stake, sir, honor! Prepare yourself for a pummeling!” Then he would prance about furiously shadowboxing jabs for one or two seconds with a fierce scowl, before predictably pausing, raising an index finder and one eyebrow, and inquiring in the most polite manner, “Queensbury Rules?” Somehow the way the young fellow’s eyebrows shifted from incivility to civility never failed to win over his enemy, often buckling his foe over at the waist with paroxysms of laughter. He made Foghorn Leghorn look dull.
Of course, certain politically-correct people no more like the humor of cartoons than they like the talking animals of “Animal Farm”. Why? Perhaps the antics of a loudmouthed rooster too closely resembles their own sophism. When a cartoon character expects one result, and another occurs, it too closely copies situations such as the the politically-correct of 1936 feeling smug about arranging things so Hitler would fight Stalin, and then being flabbergasted when Hitler and Stalin signed their non-aggression pact. In the first case it may seem a mere cartoon, with a silly rooster facing a chicken-hawk and/or cat and/or farm-dog and/or sex-crazed hen and/or younger-generation, while in the second case it may seem a deadly serious reality, but I see a similarity in the disapproval of the politically correct, and how they seek to censor not merely a political fable such as “Animal Farm”, but even cartoons.
It is not the soldiers on the battlefields who attempt to banish the slapstick humor of “Tom and Jerry” cartoons, but rather it is the politically-correct. Why are they so offended by a mouse clobbering a cat with an impossibly over-sized hammer? Is it not just a modern version of “Punch and Judy” puppets? Yet with pious expressions they state “Tom and Jerry” “encourages violence”. Encourages violence? Who is encouraging violence? Do they think those soldiers are out on the battlefield getting shot-at and shelled for the fun of it? Do the politically-correct think “Tom and Jerry” cartoons cause war, and war has nothing to do with their own lusts for luxury, privilege, power and sex?
Besides taxing my wallet, the politically-correct tax my patience. They seem to feel they can hold on to all the accouterments of love without the bother of actually loving. For, in Truth, love does tend to make a person rich and gives them power, but another gift is joy, yet the politically-correct have a terrible tendency to frown at laughter, and shame people for joking, and to gain more glee from scolding, than from confessing an embarrassment with a chuckle. They are epitomized by the garlic-faced priest, the dour schoolmarm, the glowering headmaster, and become absolutely furious when you demonstrate that they themselves are the joke.
They don all the trappings of love’s successful bounty, but are like small children dressing up as kings and queens. They flounce about, forgetting love works from dawn to dusk and puts in constant overtime, and instead they desire the harvest without the hard work. Then they become strangely irate when they see joy descend not upon themselves, but upon their servants. I think it makes them honestly angry to see there is more humor in a cottage than a castle, more good-natured hilarity on a noisy factory floor than in the morgue-like mansion the factory supports, and far more laughter in a reeking cannery than among the erudite nibbling pickled herring. Having experienced both sides, I know this to be true, but many poor envy the rich, as many rich resent the poor, because the grass is always greener on the far side of a fence.
In Truth, it is more blessed to give than to receive, and blessed are the poor, which in effect conversely means that the politically-correct are accursed. In their smugness they parody amazing ignorance, and are dunces to such a delightful degree that the heavens shout with laughter at their downfalls, which they richly deserve. However such humor is often hidden, here on earth. It is funny to see another slip and sit down hard on an icy pavement, but not so funny to be the one who falls. The haughty call another’s laughter at their discomfiture politically-incorrect, and even “unspiritual”. Then, when such humor bursts from tightly pressed lips, it appears sardonic or ironic or sarcastic, as a sort of gallows humor. However its persistence is a proof joy cannot be quenched any more than Truth can be destroyed. This is never made more clear than in the humor of poor soldiers suffering the hell of war.
The people who actually suffer on the battlefields, and in the trenches, are living so close to the end of life that they do experience joy in situations where the politically-correct deem it politically-incorrect to laugh. An example of soldier’s humor that struck me as amazingly incorrect, in all polite society, dates from the Korean war. But telling this tale involves explaining a great deal, (perhaps creating a long run for a short slide), because the actors on the stage need a background.
We need to jump ahead 13 years from 1936 to 1949, when Mao moved from doing good to doing bad. He moved from unifying China to attacking people outside his borders. In this manner he was a bit like Hitler. If Hitler had dropped dead in 1938, just after he annexed the “German” part of Czechoslovakia, he might be remembered as the man who unified the German people, and freed them from foreign oppressors. In like manner, if Mao had dropped dead in 1949, he would be remembered as the man who unified China, freeing it from the confusion of divided Chinese warlords, and foreign oppressors, ( non-Han “imperialists” from Manchuria and Europe and Imperial Japan). But no, Mao couldn’t stop at his own borders. Just as Hitler felt compelled to advance his fascist concept of German superiority outside his homeland, Mao felt compelled to advance his communist agenda outside his own borders.
Mao’s aggressiveness is in some ways understandable, if you look at the belittling attitude Europe had towards China during Europe’s most obnoxious and imperialistic period, towards the end of the 1800’s. The Chinese felt they were the most civilized people on earth, and Europeans were just a different form of barbarian, but Europeans felt the Chinese were primitive and in need of Europe’s supposedly-superior and politically-correct intelligence and modernization, and were busily dividing China up into “spheres of economic interest” which Europeans would control (just as India had been subjected to European control.) The Chinese revolted, with the “Boxer’s Rebellion”, which resulted in a humiliating defeat for Chinese patriots, and an increase in the imperialistic powers of foreigners in China.
The patriot who actually began throwing the foreigners out of China was Sun Yat-sen, (who Americans approved-of because he admired George Washington). He devised a uniquely Chinese blend of foreign ideas, using parts of American democracy and parts of European communism, which he called “The Three Principles of the People.”
The first principle is called by some “nationalism” or even “fascism”, but basically stated the Han Chinese should be ruled by the Han Chinese, and not a Manchu royalty. The second principle stated an individual had rights, and was downright American. But the third principle stated the government should be concerned with people’s welfare, and was European and socialistic. These three ideas never had a chance to jell and be properly worked out, as Sun Yat-Sen died in 1923, and no one followed who upheld his sane and “centrist” concepts, and instead things degenerated to a communist dictator on one side and a royalist-fascist dictator on the other, much like the situation in the Spanish Civil War, only in the case of China the communists won. Nor did the communist Mao display the sanity of the fascist Franco. Where Franco was made wise by the civil war that bled Spain dry, and kept Spain out of World War Two, Mao was eager for more bloodshed.
Why? Partly it was because Mao believed communism was good and would sweep over the entire planet like a new religion. He wanted to continue the “good work” he felt he had done in his homeland, extending communism beyond his shores. Second, he wanted to counter the idea that China was a dissolute push-over, and couldn’t fight back. Third, he wanted recognition on the world stage, as he wasn’t yet recognized as the legal government of China by the United Nations, and the defeated Nationalists, (relegated to the island of Taiwan), still held China’s seat on the UN Security Council. Lastly, like Hitler, he desired to conquer (or “gain-influence-in”) neighboring lands for China’s economic benefit, and to have satellite-puppet nations, like Stalin had. This made Mao, the second he stepped beyond his own borders, just as “imperialistic” as the imperialistic nations he so despised, only he saw his own imperialism as something higher and finer, and used double-speak to call it “liberation.”
At this point most in the United States appear gullible and naive. Americans thought war was over and treaties were binding, and that aggression-beyond-one’s-borders was something all had agreed was unwise, and that imperialism was wrong. America was busily (and somewhat proudly) working to grant America’s lone “colony”, (the Philippines), their independence. When Churchill gave his “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946, many Americans distrusted Churchill more than they distrusted Stalin, seeing Russia’s “excesses” (purges) at home, (which most Americans knew very little about), as an unfortunate side of a civil war, similar to brutalities which occurred in America’s Civil War, while seeing Churchill as an old-school 19th century imperialist, primarily focused on propping up the crumbling British Empire. (In fact some American socialists detest Churchill to this day, including a recent American president who had a bust of Churchill removed from the White House.) Churchill didn’t care. He squared his shoulders and, as an old man in his mid-seventies, thrown out of office by the people he had saved, once again expressed an unpopular view, which was poetic because it held Truth. It is well worth rereading, 72 years later, as much he said stands the test of time, and hints the old man may have had some degree of the “gift of prophesy”.
Two sections which strike me as particularly poetic (including the famous “iron curtain” section) are as follows:
” …We cannot be blind to the fact that the liberties enjoyed by individual citizens throughout the United States and throughout the British Empire are not valid in a considerable number of countries, some of which are very powerful. In these States control is enforced upon the common people by various kinds of allembracing police governments to a degree which is overwhelming and contrary to every principle of democracy. The power of the State is exercised without restraint, either by dictators or by compact oligarchies operating through a privileged party and a political police. It is not our duty at this time when difficulties are so numerous to interfere forcibly in the internal affairs of countries which we have not conquered in war, but we must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence… “
“…From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone — Greece with its immortal glories — is free to decide its future at an election under British, American and French observation. The Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon Germany, and mass expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed-of are now taking place. The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, except in Czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy…”
Many in the United States did not want to hear this, in 1946. A huge effort was being made to beat swords back into plowshares. American military expenditures plunged from nearly 40% of the American GNP during World War Two to down around 5% just afterwards. The war had forced America to hugely increase its military from roughly 350,000 to at least 12,000,000 men, (some sources count 16,000,000), and, with roughly 60% of that force comprised of military men who didn’t volunteer and were drafted, huge numbers of men (and some women) wanted out of the military. They wanted to go home, and raise a family. The shift of so many from war-based-employment to the ordinary pursuits of working men made peace as great a shock to the economy as war was. Furthermore, few homes had been built during the Great Depression, and nearly none during the war, and now all the returning soldiers all required housing. People in the United States figured there were problems enough, inherent with facing peace, even in the United States which had no bombed cities, and that places which had seen cities leveled would be even more interested in building. Who in their right mind would desire more war and destruction?
Mao was who. Why? Because for him the war was not over. He must “liberate” Asia and the world from “imperialism”. He consequently brought horror to peaceful lands, certain he was improving society. He was not much different from the Spanish Inquisition believing it was righteous to chop off the hands of Native Americans in Mexico, because they were “heathens” who needed to be brutalized into seeing the Truth. Mao, like Stalin, felt he was pushing mankind to a higher and better level, by being brutal.
Ordinary Americans of that time appear in many ways baffled by the attitude of communists. In 1945 China and Russia were our friends. How could they be shooting at us in 1950, only five years later? Much of the United State’s policy seemed conducted midst bewilderment and confusion. For example, when hostilities resumed in Korea there was a need for Sherman tanks. Where were all the tanks we built to fight Hitler? In city and small town parks, where they had been placed as monuments to World War Two. Just imagine the dismay of peace-loving townsfolk, as mechanics arrived on town commons to rewire engines, and the tanks were then taken off the pedestals and went clanking up onto transport trucks.
Now skip ahead to young soldiers finding themselves yanked from plopping nickles into American jukeboxes and from slurping at ice-cream sodas, to being plunked into hellish battlefields in Korea.
The United Nation’s “police action” in Korea surged from the the 38th parallel to the extreme south, to the extreme north, south again and north again. However I will skip all that, and merely describe American soldiers laughing in a situation which no politically-correct person would think was a scene anyone could even smile about.
Korea has hot summers and frigid winters, and the laughable event occurred during the summer’s heat. The situation was this: After a savage fight, exhausted American troops were slumped in a farmer’s field. It was a period of relative calm which no one would call peace, except a soldier. The summer sun was beating down, and the soldiers were so tired they had not the strength to form a burial party to deal with the corpses of North Korean soldiers bloating all around them. What they desperately needed to do was to drink water and eat some food, but no one had much of an appetite, with not only dead bodies all around, but the hot and humid air thick with the stink of excrement, because Korean farmers fertilized their fields with human feces. The sergeant of this squad had to get his troops nourished so they would have the strength to stand up to an expected counterattack.
Most of the squad were were teenagers, or barely over twenty, (as the draft of that time had a deferment for people who had served in World War Two), but the the sergeant had seen action in the past, and seemed very old to the young men. He was described as a a heavyset man with an square, jutting jaw and a sour expression, stereotypical for a sergeant, but his age wasn’t stated.
If he lied about his age when he joined the army (as was quite common back then) he may have been as young as 28 or as old as 52. If he claimed to be 21 when he was only 17, he might have joined in 1918 (in the great excitement of that time), or in 1939 (to escape Great Depression poverty and unemployment, and also perhaps to escape working for FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corp). In any case he was “an old campaigner” and had experience on the battlefield. Korea was the third ferocious war that the United States had seen in thirty-two years. The sergeant had likely served in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Southern France, and Germany by 1945. He knew it was important to eat, no matter how horrible the restaurant was, so he attempted to set a good example, as the veteran in the situation. Perhaps he berated his squad for complaining, but then sat on some wreckage, stolidly chewing a spam sandwich despite the fact the bloating body of a dead invader lay right in front of him. No matter how disgusted he may have felt inwardly, externally he was stoic, munching with machismo. But just then the dead body in front of him, due to decomposition creating gasses in its guts, produced a long, loud, and bubbling belch. The sergeant’s immediate and involuntary response was to vomit the entire sandwich he had just eaten.
His squad’s reaction was to promptly dissolve into helpless, weeping laughter. After looking around with a wounded expression for a moment, the sergeant began laughing himself. The prolonged laughter was the last thing any of the men expected, and was amazingly relieving and refreshing, and was an event one of the soldiers recalled with vivid clarity years later.
The humor in the situation is not all that different from the humor of seeing a pompous snob slip and fall on ice, the primary difference being that that sergeant was able to laugh at his own discomfiture. What is more surprising to me is that some politically-correct people, sipping drinks far from the battlefield, seem completely unable to get such a joke, and rather look down their noses at the resiliency of the human spirit. They seem to display a dour intellectual skill at downplaying courage, and to instead see joy in grim circumstances as a type of mental illness, as masochism, or sadism, or some other warped behavior, and to justify their disdain with extraordinary psychobabble.
The simple fact of the matter is that suffering cannot kill the Truth, and in fact can make appreciation of Truth keener. Not all hearts are hardened like Stalin’s when broken. Stalin is purported to have stated, regarding his first wife, “She softened my hard heart, and when she died I never again (was soft)”, but the poet John Keats, if anything, grew more tender due to the suffering he experienced nursing first his mother, and later his younger brother, as they died of tuberculosis. His beautiful “Ode to Melancholy” states:
“…Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows, Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave, And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die; And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh, Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips: Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine; His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung.”
In a way Keats is merely speaking a truism commonly expressed as, “You’ve gotta pay the dues if you want to sing the blues.” When the politically-correct seek to avoid suffering they inadvertently deny themselves much that is most beautiful.
An amazing example of a poet finding beauty in hell is the war-poetry of Wilford Owen. Owen seemed a poet specifically born to tell the truth about the trenches of World War One, for fate had him survive, against all odds, until the final week of the war. (His mother received the telegram announcing his death as the church bells rang, celebrating the war’s end.) Various psychobabble tends to degrade the compassion he felt for his comrades-in-arms, (and even for the Germans he killed), as “homoerotic”, when in fact he was a somewhat delicate, prissy poet who adored green fields and flowers, yet was plunged into the exact opposite. The spiritual crisis he went through, and the amazing maturation he displayed, (moving from “songs of innocence” to “songs of experience” like William Blake), deserves admiration and not psychobabble.
Basically he wrote most of his best poetry when in a hospital, before returning to the trenches. We have rough drafts he never had time to fine-tune. In some ways it portrays a mind experiencing flash-backs, (what is now called “post-traumatic-stress” but back then was called “shell shock”). He simply tells the truth. One great poem describes witnessing the death of a fellow soldier who didn’t quite get his gas mask in place in time, and how “as under a green sea, I saw him drowning.” He describes the slow torture of a man gradually dying as lungs fill with blood, and mocks the statement that to die for one’s country is a glorious thing.
However, midst the realism of describing the true hell of war, he also describes the true heroism of the soldiers, and how in that heroism is both beauty and joy. In “Apologia pro Poemate Meo” he begins, “I, too, saw God through mud…” and concludes:
”…I have perceived much beauty In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight; Heard music in the silentness of duty; Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.
Nevertheless, except you share With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell, Whose world is but the trembling of a flare, And heaven but as the highway for a shell,
You shall not hear their mirth: You shall not come to think them well content By any jest of mine. These men are worth Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.”
The above poem, with its echo of “Ode to Melancholy”, does an amazing job of both describing the sheer, unnecessary hell of war, and also the heaven of brotherhood which appears among men in deplorable circumstances, from factory-floor to storm-at-sea to the gruesome landscapes of war. But who is the “you” Owen speaks to, at the end? It seems (to me) to be the politically-correct, who mix the oblivion of ignorance with downright condescending psychobabble. People undergoing shell shock don’t need psychobabble; they likely can only be truly helped by another who has been through similar hell, who has faced the crucifixion of simple men, (and who understands Christ truly did sweat blood before his humiliation, for they have witnessed ordinary soldiers undergoing hematidrosis.)
One mysterious poem among Owen’s notes contains amazing assonance, and also describes meeting a German soldier who he bayoneted the day before, in a dream. He may not have shown the poem to anyone. Reluctance would have been understandable, for one knows what psychobabble would state, about the peculiar “vision” he shared in “Strange Meeting.” In the eyes of many, dreary, so-called pragmatists, “Strange Meeting” is but the raving hallucinations of a shell-shocked madman.
Yet one needs to also ask, what is so sane about war? The First World War was basically a disagreement between Cousin George and Cousin Willy, and began with prancing horses and fancy uniforms. It was suppose to be “over by Christmas,” and there was even a somewhat accidental and unofficial truce in 1914 on Christmas, when the German and English played soccer in No-Man’s-Land.
The soldiers in the above picture faced trouble, for they were “fraternizing with the enemy”, and their starched superiors demanded “discipline”. Not that the men were immediately willing to stop “fraternizing” with their new friends, but when the officers ordered the artillery behind the lines to start firing on Boxing Day the men had to return to their trenches. The killing resumed, and it does not take too long, when friends standing beside you are cut down, before feelings of incidental friendship turn to hate. But I think the episode demonstrates war’s origins lie not among the ordinary soldiers, who the politically-correct like to call “low”, but rather among the “high”, the erudite sophists greedy for power. And perhaps it also explains why poetry gets along so poorly with politics, (unless you include mocking limericks).
I apologize, to those who enjoy my past postings about sea-ice, for my failure to post very often, but various factors have ganged up on me like a bunch of bullies, and I retreated to a sort of Bastogne (See “Battle of the Bulge”) for the Christmas holidays. And there I have stayed. The redoubt seemed cozy. To give all the reasons for my retreat would be exceedingly boring, (except to my own ego), and therefore I will give a greatly simplified excuse for my undone homework. It boils down to two basic points.
1 .) My original reason for studying the sea-ice was poetic. I liked the beautiful ivory and azure views from the many cameras upon the ice. It allowed me to commune with nature without the bother of facing all the mosquitoes and ticks in the woods, and was especially refreshing in hot weather. Also I relished the fact that placing the cameras out on the arctic ice involved men who had the guts to put their lives on the line, facing the dangers of grinding floes and bitter cold and 1500 pound bears, pressing their limits to push forward the frontiers of Truth. Such scientists struck me as being more like Arctic Explorers such as the Vikings and first Eskimos, or Henry Hudson, or Fridtjof Nansen, who had fascinated me since my boyhood. They seemed unlike dweeby nerds who sit behind a computer screen (as I now do.) Sadly, this vanguard of Truth has gone unfunded, as have their cameras. Therefore the very reason that attracted me to sea-ice in the first place no longer exists. What am I watching, with the pictures all gone?
2.) The secondary reason for studying sea-ice involves the pursuit of Truth. Once I started to comment on the poetry of sea-ice, and to comment on the physical poetry of the gutsy arctic explorers who (for various reasons, across the centuries) risked death to form a vanguard and make history, I discovered I was facing a furious Alarmist counter-attack, though I myself never meant to attack anyone, and only to advance what I thought all desired, namely, Truth.
This involved me in the peculiar power-politics of Global Warming, which I have been uncomfortable with from the start, because I have never liked politics. I am possessed by the peculiar belief that poetry is more powerful than power. In fact I recall (as a teenager) being quite angry at the great English Poet, John Milton, for “wasting” his time and talent with the politics of Free Speech, and the politics of the Puritan Revolution against the Catholic monarchy in England, when I felt his time would have been better spent writing “pure” poetry. (Milton likely stirred slightly, in his grave.) I vowed I would never waste my time in such a manner.
Well, that’s yet another vow I’ve gone and broken. Or it seems that way, for, if you go back to the summer of 2013 in the archives of this site, you can see where I was seduced by politics, and sea-ice stopped being a poetic fascination and became more of a battle between truth and propaganda.
At this point I want to embark upon what the Alarmist-vs.-Skeptic political battle has been teaching me about the tension between Truth, in its rarefied, poetic, and pure form, and politics, in its low, crude, prosaic, and selfish form. (Those of you interested in sea-ice alone should skip this post.) The lessons I’ve been learning are every bit as interesting as the motions of ice floes in the arctic. Furthermore it involves me in a sort of psychic brawl, occurring between conservatives and socialists in my homeland, which stains all fabrics of society, and which you can’t even escape if you run away to the North Pole to look at sea-ice. (And a good intellectual brawl can be enjoyable, for an gray-haired man who has gotten to old for the barroom sort.)
The thing I don’t like about politics is that, despite all efforts to be broad-minded, it tends to result in the disintegration of spiritual unity; it cannot help but be one-sided. One hopes that the side one is siding-with is the side of Truth, but an open-minded person is always double-checking, and sincerely examining both their own thoughts, and also their so-called “opponent’s” thoughts, even when the other’s thoughts are contrary. Truth should be the lodestone. (Abraham Lincoln responded to a person who stated, during the Civil War, “I hope God (Truth) is on our side” with, “My hope is that we are on God’s (Truth’s) side.”)
Some then respond, “But what is Truth?” To me that has often seemed a sign of a person who has never taken the time to search their own soul for the bias and blindness bred by selfishness. For example, (as lust has made fools of most of us, at least once in our lives), suppose an old person tells a lusty young person that the Truth is: Lust needs to be in some way checked, or at least channeled, and suppose it then happens that the young person is at that time enjoying the fun of lust and not seeing any consequences; the young person will nearly always reply, “That is your old-person truth; my truth is different.” The elder seems a mere party-poop and spoil-sport. It is only later, after being taught by Professor Sorrow in The School Of Hard Knocks, that the young start to entertain the possibility that some truth (about lust, and many other topics), is more lasting other truths, and there may even be a truth with a capital “T”, “Truth”.
Though some think of art and science as opposites, I think both, at their best, aim at the same higher and universal Truth. Science (at its best) seeks to constantly test every theory for weakness, and tends to be based around physical laws that can be physically measured, while art involves things less easy to measure. For example, what does my life weigh? If I put my deathbed on the most sensitive scale, I doubt my body will be a jot lighter the moment my soul departs, (or a jot heavier, for that matter). Does that mean my life (and everyone’s life) has no weight? Is an unscientific thing? Not to be included in the subject of Truth? No; for life, (and art), simply deals with truths we haven’t learned to materially measure. The pen has a power, but we have no meter to measure it with (besides pentameter and hexameter).
The pen loses its power when it is wielded by a foppish poseur, who only is a copy-cat of fad, fashion and political-correctness. Such concerns seldom stop to focus on Truth, instead swaying to and fro like a pendulum, depending on who is in power, and on stances taken by other foppish poseurs who also scurry back and forth, always eager for acceptance and tidbits of acclaim, irregardless of Truth. The most clever of them do get their tidbits, (some acceptance-in-snobby-circles here, and some five-minutes-of-fame there), (and some money, which they see as a measure of honor), but their pens have no power. Nothing they blather will be long remembered, unless as an example of idiocy. For example, the fops of Rome mocked Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and laughed as they perished, and laughed again as Christians perished before lions in the Roman Colosseum. But now? Are such Roman frops remembered? No. Their names are dust in the wind. Even the name of the Roman emperor they worshiped as a god is seldom remembered. And in Rome? The laughed-at and soon-executed Peter and Paul now have vast structures erected in their name, while the Colosseum is but a ruin, and “Caesar” is but a name we give to our dogs.
The same fate awaits many who think they are now prancing in the glory of the spotlight. The power they seek is fad and fashion and forgotten. They will be forgotten because mistakes are best forgotten. Our modern mistakes will include many publishers and editors, who are “gatekeepers” who think they do good, making certain only a modern “Caesar” is praised. But they invite amnesia upon themselves because they care for power of a shallow sort, avoiding the true wellspring of power, which is Truth.
When I was young and studious I thought the people who would teach me about the real Wellspring of power would be teachers of art, and also history, but such classes usually disappointed me. A good teacher was like an oasis in a desert of dull ones. Most teachers seemed to feel their degree in art or history was pretty much useless in the Real World, and that the only way their education could make money was to hide out in a school and teach a watered-down and enfeebled and “safe” version of art or history. As there were only a limited number of such jobs available, teachers certainly didn’t want to create any competition. Rather than seeking to create proteges, teachers seemed to see their eager and curious students as potential threats.To some students (such as myself) it seemed that the only students they really encouraged were the ones they wanted to sleep with. These teachers failed to see the enormous power Truth holds, or that It was applicable outside of a classroom. Such teachers displayed little faith that the art and history they studied had any real value. Even if they stated their studies had value and power, they couldn’t see how to apply such hypothetical power outside a school in the Real World, (or they would have dared do so), nor even how to apply such hypothetical power to their own insular and rarefied academia. Therefore, when they talked about the Real World, it was usually with the drastic attitude that the Real World needed to be politically restructured so they could become applicable, (as if their ineptitude would vanish if they were promoted, and they became some sort of commissar). To me they seemed cowardly, hiding in musty hallways and clinging to tenure, avoiding their intense insecurity by donning a pretense of smug, intellectual superiority, and displaying their power by flunking students (such as myself) who questioned their wisdom.
Though their names are largely forgotten, and though they never produced memorable art or essays, they felt highly qualified to sneer at those who did produce. For example, a teacher who never wrote a book (that anyone could read) would deem himself an authority on how to write an introductory paragraph, and he’d deride how a writer such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton began a book with, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Besides immediately challenging me (because I was in some ways a punk) to begin my next work with “Once upon a time”, such teachers made me wonder why those who don’t achieve are so critical of those who do, and also why the critisized are memorable while critics aren’t. After all, while the name “Edward Bulwar-Lytton” may not be well known, “It was a dark and stormy night” is known worldwide, as are some other phrases Bulwar-Lytton penned, such as “the almighty dollar”, “the great unwashed”, and my favorite, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”
Does the pen really have such power? Much of my life has been spent doing what those cowering professors never attempted. To find out if the pen (and art, and history,) had any power at all out in the Real World.
I confess I held (and still hold) the (extremely debatable) view that a truly exalted poet like Shakespeare may have displayed an immeasurable power. To me it seems a power beyond the imagination of dreary English Literature professors, when you consider the possible effect he (like the Beatle’s) had on the English people, and upon all who speak English. We say, “He inspired people in the theaters,” as if people were only moved there, and went about their workaday existence the next day unaffected. I think audiences were deeply moved, and he may have empowered the English to rise, and to rise in a way no one expected a backwater island at the very edge of Europe to rise, around 1585, when the young poet came wandering into London, (to perhaps begin by parking horses at a theater). He exalted the language in a way that effects listeners to this day: After being forced, initially against their will and strong objections, to watch a Shakespearean play, I have witnessed schoolboys on a playground wave sticks as make-believe swords and adopt antiquated language and absurdly grandiose exhortations: “Forsooth thou varlet! I shalt not stand for thy knavish insults!”
The youngsters are not forced to do this. They catch it like the ‘flu. I then ask: Is it such a stretch to think the people of Shakespeare’s time were not also infected by the invisible fever of inspiration, in the same manner? I go so far as to suggest that Shakespeare effected the way an entire nation spoke, thought, and even the way they walked: A slouch became a strut, walking developed a swagger, and you can perhaps see his influence in the way Queen Elisabeth spoke to her troops as the Spanish Armada neared her coasts in 1588, and the way the King James Bible was written between 1604 and 1611, and even (perhaps) in the way Hindu speak English in Calcutta, and Chinese speak English in Hong Kong.
What gave this Stratford-Upon-Avon bumpkin’s pen such power? I like to think it was it’s proximity-to and association-with Truth. A moral backbone runs through his plays, wherein even his most evil characters speak to God, in a sense, for they face a day of reckoning wherein their tragic flaw faces them with the bitterness of tragic consequences, and as these characters complain about their fate they are revealed as being so utterly human, and so like the rest of us, that we feel oddly sympathetic, even though we know they are getting what they deserve. Shakespeare uplifts us to an archangel-like level where we are almost eye-level to our Creator, who loves all even though all (except very rare saints) don’t deserve it.
Never for an instant does Shakespeare waver from a firm belief that the wicked will face a day of reckoning, but he also does not waver from a liberal belief that the wicked are human, and are not all that different from you and I. Therefore his wicked characters, his Macbeth, his Iago, his Claudius, are characters we can relate to, who felt emotions we feel, but who chose to go ahead where we (usually) choose to abstain. (We feel much better about abstaining when we see how they suffer). But we feel sorry for them, because we would have chosen as they chose, were we not wimps. (Sometimes, when we say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” we are in effect saying, “Thank you, Oh Creator, for making me a wimp.”)
In essence Shakespeare’s power rests in his ability to show morals and morality exist for a good reason: They are associated with Truth. This association gave the English (and also the English language) an astonishing ability to overpower other peoples (and languages.) The English came close to ruling the entire world, in Queen Victoria’s time. Her grandchildren were to, in 1914, be king of England, be kaiser of Germany, and be wife of the czar of Russia. Outside of Europe they controlled vast areas of Africa, India and Pakistan, Indochina, and Hong Kong. Also Canada and Australia and New Zealand were closely linked as part of the commonwealth, and the United States, as a recalcitrant rebel, was able to obtain commonwealth status if it ever wanted to, and had control over the Philippines and a de facto Monroe-Doctrine ephemeral-control over Central and South America. If sanity had prevailed, world peace and prosperity were possible. But sanity did not prevail. The association with Truth Shakespeare made so clear became clouded. A century of hell has resulted.
Now I am sure some are rolling their eyes when I assert a single poet could have such a huge effect on the history of the planet, but Bartlett’s Book Of Familiar Quotations demonstrates how we quote Shakespeare without even knowing it. Nor were the people of his time aware of the reverberations emanating from a theater in London; his plays were not published until after his death, and likely few outside of London knew much about them. In terms of what politicians of that time surmised influenced the masses, theater didn’t matter much; politicians would have pointed to kings, armies, and the preachers in the pulpits; and many preachers disapproved of plays and wanted the theaters shut down. But few preachers could move people in the manner Shakespeare could; few swagger after hearing a sermon, (though they would, if the Truth was ever adequately explained.)
At this point I should confess that the power of the pen has not been scientifically established. Not that any has taken the time to attach electrodes to my pen, as I write. (They ought at least try. They might be shocked.)
Though the might of the pen has not been established, evil men recognize the power the pen has, and seek to gain its power, without the bother of associating themselves with the morality and Truth involved. This never works. They always wind up a Macbeth, an Iago, a Claudius. But they never stop trying. They who do not study Shakespeare are like those who do not study history: Doomed.
The problem with doomed people is they are like thrashing children throwing a tantrum: They break stuff and hurt innocent bystanders. I do not mean to sound flippant. Hitler’s doomed tantrum killed millions of innocent bystanders, as did Stalin’s. But both men were doomed from the start.
The question always asked by innocent bystanders is, “Why, God? Why?” Not being God, I cannot answer. But I can share an answer I personally got, when I asked the eternal question.
As a very old-fashioned farmer, I prefer hand tools to bulldozers. It brings me closer to the land to cut down a small tree with an ax, rather than to just mush it with a backhoe’s scoop. I prefer swinging a grub-hoe, when I rip up a tree’s roots. Not that I can do it any more, and I will confess I do humble my fat ego, and allow my oldest son to show up in a backhoe and rip up a stump in five minutes that would have taken me five hours, back in the day, but I stubbornly prefer grub-hoes to backhoes. I have my reasons. One is that an ax or grub-hoe is not hard to start on a sub-zero morning (and often work more quickly, when its cold). Another is that backhoes are not mentioned (that I can find) in the Bible, (or ancient scriptures of other lands.) But the ax is mentioned.
As an old-fashioned farmer I have the powers of a micro-creator. I love trees and I love grass, but I have to decide where the trees will grow and where the grass will grow. If you are grass, you call me a cruel creator when I grow a woodlot, but, if you are trees, you call me a cruel creator when I clear a pasture. But I am the boss, and my ax is just a tool.
Therefore my ears perked up with interest when I heard a mighty king described as a mere “ax”. The “ax” was a mighty Assyrian king called Sennacherib, and the fellow who dared call him a mere tool, a mere “ax”, was a poet of Judea called Isaiah. Please notice in the map below that, despite all the expansion of the Assyrian empire, culminating in the might of Sennacherib, Judea persisted as a unconquered land, (yellow in the map below.) This time, when Jerusalem remained unconquered, was a sort of British “Finest Hour” for the Jews.
(This story may seem to have little to do with arctic sea-ice, but give me time. I’ll show you the similarity).
I refer to Isaiah as a “poet” rather than a “prophet” because most of his writing, in the original Hebrew, is amazing poetry. He did not write the drab prose of a tedious historian, but rather employed all sorts of difficult forms, as hard or harder to master than the sonnet form. For example, Hebrew poetry utilizes a form called “Parallelism”, which can be roughly divided into various types, namely Climactic, Synonymous, Antithetic, Emblematic, Synthetic, Composite, and Chiasmus. As you read Isaiah you don’t really notice this highly structured thought (especially in the translation) but you do notice the writing “flows” and “sounds right.”
At this point I suppose a drab historian has every right to complain it is too hard to write history using all sorts of difficult poetic devises, and even to say poets are the tedious ones, with all their rules.
I assert complying with such rules is not difficult, to one gifted with poetic instincts. It may be as unintelligible to those not-gifted as the tug of a dowsing rod is to one who (like myself) is not gifted with the abilities of a dowser, but complying with difficult harmonies is easy, if you have the gift. It is harder not to do it. It would like be asking Bach not to write harmony, and have all his music be in unison.
I furthermore assert the power is not in the poet, but in the Truth they are in touch with. When one is in proximity-to and association-with Truth, a sort of enchantment and rapture occurs, and one simply cannot help but sing. Just as one can’t help but tap their toes to a lively tune, one is carried away by celestial rhythms. One becomes intoxicated by a gigantic harmony and beauty, and, in Isaiah’s case, the proximity-to and association-with Truth extended to an awareness of cause-and-effect that made him a “prophet”. Why? Because Truth follows certain laws, which some call Karma and some call reaping-what-you-sow, and a prophetic poet is able to glimpse inevitable consequences more clearly than most. In a way Isaiah is much like Shakespeare: Never for an instant does he waver from a firm belief that the wicked will face a day of reckoning, but he also does not waver from a liberal belief that the wicked are human, and are not all that different from you and I, and Isaiah has compassion towards them, and wants to see even the evil rescued.
This made Isaiah appear naive to the politically-correct politicians of Judea, 2750 years ago. Isaiah had the simplistic belief that Truth is animate, and if you stand by the Truth then the Truth will stand by you, but the politicians didn’t think that highfalutin attitude was very smart, and instead trusted in all sorts of crafty and worldly alliances to oppose the growing Assyrian menace. All sorts of sneaky and devious arrangements were considered, when Assyria was smaller (the dark green in the above map), involving Syria, Babylonia, Israel, Egypt, Judea and other smaller kingdoms. There was even a plot that pitted Jew against Jew, as the ten tribes of Israel grew impatient with the two tribes of Judea, and thought the way to get Judea to comply was to conquer it with the help of Syria, and then (with Judea forced to be on-board), to turn as a united front to face Assyria. All this political trickery and back-stabbing seemed opposed to Truth, to Isaiah, and he blithely warned that Israel and Syria would come to a bad end, if they followed such a course. He stated they should trust Truth (God) and not their own crafty plots, and they thought he was a naive chump. Isaiah stated that if they didn’t trust God then God would use Assyria as His “ax”, and chop them down, which was exactly what happened. Assyria rose in might and by the time of Sennacherib it seemed nothing could stand in the way of the Assyrian juggernaut.
Not that Judea’s politicians were inclined to abandon the sordid lowness of politics for some air-headed poet’s idealism. I often wonder what in the world Isaiah was doing, bopping around midst the politics of the palace. (My personal experience is that one is likely to get the old heave-ho, if one is too preachy with the politically pragmatic.) But apparently the fellow was literate at a time when most were not, so perhaps he was a “scribe”, and schoolteacher, (and may have even been the Judean King Hezekiah’s tutor.) Also Isaiah might have been the court historian, (for the only non-poetic chapters of the Book of Isaiah are nearly word-for-word-identical to the official Judea history, in the Book of Kings.) Lastly, as a poet he was somewhat respected as possessing prophetic powers, though people were often dubious of the authenticity of such powers back then, (as they are now). He was initially unpopular with the politically-correct, and was pressing his luck, and probably would have been done-away-with, had not a new king, Hezekiah, possessed a mystic streak. Hezekiah rediscovered the old Hebrew scriptures, (perhaps with Isaiah’s help), and was somewhat horrified by how far the Judean politically-correct had strayed from the established law. (Something like what a modern democrat might experience, if they ever bothered to read the US constitution.) He apparently underwent a sort of epiphany, and there is archaeological evidence Hezekiah didn’t just return to “the law” on paper, but tore down some houses of worship that were forbidden according to Jewish Law. In a sense he enacted a jeremiad before Jeremiah, but at the same time remained stuck in the pragmatism of politics.
The sixty-six chapters of The Book Of Isaiah are not arranged in chronological order, but rather are ordered for reasoning I don’t claim to understand. This apparently explains why we see Hezekiah stripping the gold off the temple doorposts to buy time, chapters before we see Hezekiah showing off all his temple’s gold to envoys from Babylonia. In attempting to put things in chronological order, my guess is that Hezekiah was co-regent with his father for a while, which makes their reigns overlap, and things then happened as follows:
Hezekiah became quite ill during the time when the threat was Israel and Syria to the north. Isaiah then came bopping in to the king’s bedroom and said it was wrong to stress politics before God, and that Hezekiah would be punished with death (the king was was in his sickbed at the time). Hezekiah was filled with remorse after Isaiah left, but Isaiah swiftly came bopping back into the king’s bedroom and said God had accepted the king’s apology, and the king wouldn’t die, and Jerusalem wouldn’t be plundered in his lifetime. The king was happy, but I imagine the politicians of the court thought both Hezekiah and Isaiah had both gone bonkers, and that Isaiah was a Rasputin-like bad-influence on their sovereign’s sanity, but they couldn’t say much because the king promptly regained his health.
Next some Babylonian envoys dropped by. After 2750 years the politics are unclear to me, for it seems Babylonia was already a tributary state to Assyria at this point, but from other sources it is apparent the Babylonians detested the Assyrians for wrecking their cities, especially their temples, so perhaps some political skulduggery was afoot. I imagine the politically-correct of Judea would have approved of fomenting some sort of rebellion within Babylonia towards Assyria, for if Assyrians were kept busy at home they wouldn’t bother with Jerusalem. In any case the Babylonians had heard about the king’s miraculous recovery from his death bed, and wanted to learn more about the power of the Hebrew Deity. King Hezekiah was only too glad to show off all the treasures God had blessed Judea with, whereupon Isaiah came bopping by to inform Hezekiah he was putting gold before God, and Jerusalem would be punished, as the Babylonians would remember the treasures, and come back to loot the city at a later date.
Isaiah’s prophesy must have seemed especially incorrect when Babylonia was further crushed, as Assyria began its blitzkrieg in earnest, but by that point the politically-correct were themselves starting to flip-out, for none of their crafty alliances and treaties seemed all that sane, either. Why? Because all the nations they held diplomatic talks with, (learned-diplomat scheming with learned-diplomat), one by one fell before the Assyrian onslaught. All their crafty wheeling and dealing came to naught, because the crafty people they were dealing with simply ceased to be.
I think it is at this is at this point we see Hezekiah stripping the gold off the temple doorposts in a desperate attempt to slow the Assyrian blitzkrieg and buy time. He seemed to want to use the time he bought to seek new allies, (perhaps even the Assyrians themselves). Also Hezekiah used the bought-time to engineer remarkable tunnels through solid stone, in order to channel springs outside Jerusalem to wells within its walls, so the city could withstand the siege Judea apparently knew was coming. Why should they plan for a siege even while making treaties with Sennacherib? Well, why did the British build spitfires, even as Chamberlain signed a treaty guaranteeing “Peace In Our Time” with Hitler? Let us just say that some peace is “uneasy”, and it was apparent to some Jews that Sennacherib, like most dictators, would not be sated by appeasement, and that, in the end, would demand Jerusalem obey his laws, and not their own laws [scriptures].)
Before Sennacherib arrived at the gates of Jerusalem he had kicked the butts of some mighty powerful people. He mocked all who claimed their “gods” could protect them. Babylonia prayed to their gods, and he kicked their butts. Egypt prayed to their gods, and he kicked their butts. Even the Jews of Israel had prayed, and he kicked their butts and sent those ten tribes of Jews off to captivity. Therefore he was feeling cocky when his forces arrived at the gates of Jerusalem. Sennacherib’s representative basically mocked the two remaining tribes of Jews, asking why they should think their God was any mightier than the gods of other nations. The Jewish king Hezekiah was scared right out of his socks, but the poet Isaiah came bopping forward and told the king to tell Sennacherib’s representative to back off, because the Jews of Judea were “not like the others”, and where others worshiped a false truth, Judea worshiped the plain Truth. And the plain Truth had a power you did not want to mess with.
Such confidence must have seemed too cocky, when the vast army of Assyrians arrived at Jerusalem and began to prepare to build ramps to overcome the walls. Although Hezekiah had seen the siege coming, and built amazing tunnels to supply the besieged city with water, things looked hopeless.
At this point history gets interesting, for we have more than one version of what happened next. Sennacherib arrived back at his capital and erected monuments to his own grandeur, bragging about how he trapped Hezekiah like “a bird in a cage,” forced him to pay tribute, and how he seized, and gave away, the people, cattle and lands left outside of Jerusalem, to other kings. He doesn’t bother to mention he never conquered Jerusalem.
The Jewish version is different. According to the Hebrew account, an “angel of the Lord” struck down a huge number of Assyrian soldiers, (roughly 185,000), overnight. The invasion was called off. It was seen as proof of the power of God, that not a single Jewish soldier had to draw a sword to send Sennacherib packing.
There are other versions of this tale as well, for even after 2750 years it riles people up. The statement that an “angel of the Lord” did the slaughtering of Assyrian troops does not sit well with the modern scientific psyche, so various attempts have been made to explain how a ‘flu or plague could have struck so swiftly. Some interesting theories have been put forth suggesting that, with the good springs diverted to within the walls of Jerusalem, the remaining springs were bad and perhaps even poisoned. And of course, there are those who dismiss the entire tale as a myth. (There is even an explanation, which may involve different Assyrian troops down in Egypt, which states a plague of field mice chewed all the Assyrian’s bowstrings.) And some complain about what became of the 185,000 bodies; shouldn’t there be a huge pile of bones somewhere?
When I look through the various versions I cannot help but feel that some historians are betraying their prejudice, despite their best efforts to appear objective and dispassionate. I notice two factors: The first is that some people simply do not like Jews, and the second is that some feel Truth cannot be animate. When faced with the miraculous salvation of Jerusalem, whispered across vast prairies of time, some are irked, and feel a seemingly involuntary urge to disparage, discredit, doubt and deny. They work very hard to either prove it never happened, or that it didn’t happen in the manner the amazed Jews of that time, who actually witnessed the miraculous event, reported.
I think this skepticism occurs because such people unconsciously know that they could be in big trouble, if Truth is not inanimate. They need Truth to be as lifeless as stone, for if it is at all responsive then they are not in control of it. For this reason they tend to adopt a condescending attitude when a poet such as Isaiah utilizes “personification”, and states the moon will be dismayed, or the sun ashamed, or the wilderness rejoice, or the mountains burst into song, or the trees “clap their hands.” They are prone to utilizing psychobabble to dismiss such ecstasy as being hallucination and madness. But, if it is true that a fundamental quality of Truth is that It is Love, then Truth must be animate, and indeed must respond; this may be a bit unnerving to the mindset of a mathematician, seeking a correct answer on the bottom line, for it suggests the Answer might answer them, (and even correct them, if their answer is wrong.)
In the end there seems to be two opposing responses to Truth. The inspired poets get swept up in ecstasy, and utilize rhyme and rhythm in an automatic and involuntary manner, harmonizing with harmony. The cynics, on the other hand, tends to disparage that which is exalted, and in some ways are hateful, or at least bitter, towards Truth.
This at long last returns me to the political struggle between Alarmists and Skeptics, in the debate about Global Warming, (especially as to how it concerns arctic sea-ice).
Initially I felt that Skeptics would be more prone to be cynical, but soon I became aware most Skeptics held Truth in high regard. It was the Alarmists who seemed more prone to resort to propaganda, and to think Truth didn’t matter, because some sort of Socialist “ends” justified the “means”, even if the “means” involved dishonesty.
This dishonesty became apparent because the Skeptics approached the scientific debate in good faith, and, over the last twenty years, have, one by one, defeated most of the Alarmist “Global Warming” arguments.
I was most personally involved in the idea of a so-called “Arctic Death Spiral”, which hypothesized less ice at the Pole would result in less sunlight being reflected away by the high “albedo” of sea-ice, and more sunlight being absorbed by the low “albedo” of dark-blue open water. This idea didn’t work because the open water didn’t appear, each summer, until the sun was sinking back down to the horizon, at which point open water reflected glancing sunlight even if it was dark blue, and could even have a higher albedo than dirty ice. Then, once the sun set, open water lost far more heat than ice-covered water. Also, as year followed year, the sea-ice failed to diminish in an escalating manner, as the “Death Spiral” predicted, and sea-ice actually increased a little. Lastly, it turned out the albedo calculations didn’t include the white snow-cover on land, which was increasing (in the short-term), in the autumn.
The Death Spiral was definitely debunked, but Alarmists refused to admit their ideas had shortcomings. It became increasingly obvious they were not interested in the Truth of science, but rather the politics, and they resorted to some pathetic political ploys to stand their ground. For example, when confronted with the facts, they put on a haughty air that seemed to suggest they didn’t need no stinkin’ facts, for a “consensus” involving “97% of all climate scientists” agreed with them. Nor did it matter that this so-called “consensus” of “97%” was exposed as statistical trickery. They insisted the “debate was over” because “the science was settled”, and no amount of further debate could dissuade them from their obstinate error.
At some point a poet like me slumps in dejection, and understands it is useless being patient and kind with people who argue in such a manner. Such arguing is not true debate, but rather is a ploy. Such Alarmists have no interest in what I am saying. No true conversation is occurring. They have no interest in sharing, and in fact they are only pretending to have a conversation, for they are utterly committed to a forgone conclusion.
It occurred to me that, while certain socialists state religion is “the opiate of the masses”, Alarmists are snorting poppies all their own. Where socialists like to point out historical examples of church intolerance, such as the Spanish Inquisition, Christians freely confess that such intolerance is in violation of Christian commandments to “love thy neighbor”. The Spanish Inquisition was in violation of Christian scriptures, whereas socialist intolerance is written down in their playbook, and intolerance is, in fact, the Marxist “scripture” they follow. Some socialist dogma might as well state, “Be deaf to your neighbor”. While it may sound intolerant to say so, comparing the words of Christ with stated Marxist procedures gives one the distinct impression they oppose Christ, and therefore are an anti-Christ.
How can I say such an intolerant thing? It is because when you really love another you are very interested in their views. But, if you only want to screw another, you only pretend to be interested. You can charm, but it is only to get your way. You are basically a sly rapist; it doesn’t matter if you drape your lust in roses. You are hell-bent to achieve your goal. You can even copy the speech of poets, but a carnal flush burns on your cheeks and glints in your eyes, and, even if such a look only flashes momentarily, a person who truly loves immediately recognizes it, and takes a step back. They understand you are the slave of a forgone conclusion. You are the victim of an infatuation. You are set on a certain goal, and other people are merely what the communists called “useful idiots”, or else an enemy that must be “purged”, (which means killed), or sent away to a “reeducation”, (which is tantamount to mental murder). Opponents are but foolish innocents (“useful idiots”) you exploit, (and you exploit worse than the capitalists you sneer-at do). You are set on your “ends” like a myopic rapist is, and your “means” are nothing but trickery.
The greater poets recognize a distinct difference between love and infatuation. Love is the active and ongoing appreciation of another, whereas infatuation already knows the forgone conclusion. Love has true compassion for another, (even a Macbeth, even an Iago, even a Claudius). Infatuation only pretends to care, while calculating how much they stand to gain from the pretense. When people who love give to charity their wallets become thinner. When infatuation gives to charity their wallets grow plump. The people effected know the difference. When you have been loved you feel uplifted. When you feel screwed, even raped, something different than love is involved. (Ask the people of Haiti how they felt about the United Nations and the Clintons “helping” them. Did they feel uplifted, or feel befouled?)
Love reaches out to understand others, whereas infatuation grasps others to use them. Therefore, if you take the advice of Christ seriously, and humbly serve others to a degree wherein you even “love thy enemy”, you are interested in those who debate you. The Antichrist has no such interest, nor such care for a foe. Even when anti-Christ socialists pretend to be part of a two-party-system, they intend to bump off all opposition as swiftly as possible.
In my youth I was friends with some radical communists. Fifty years ago, (as now), they liked to have a 1930’s communist propaganda-poster on their dorm’s wall. I carefully listened to all their explanations about why they had to murder and maim, “fighting fire with fire” (as they explained it), and learned all of their jargon. I had to do a lot of listening, because they talked so much, but I was a good listener, (while they felt “listening” was “too great a compromise”). One failure in their logic always amazed me.
They seemed to fail to see that, because we mortals are each as different as our fingerprints, a day must come when we will disagree with even our closest friend. On that day, if we don’t own a philosophy that promotes listening, and instead follow a dogma which sees disagreement as opposition, then even our best friend will need to be “purged”, or they will “purge” us. Either they, or we, will require “reeducation”. One of us will be called “counter revolutionary,” and it will not matter a bit how many times we called them “comrade” and embraced them. One of us will need to be erased from the picture.
It doesn’t matter, in such a sinister society, how close and valuable you think you are to your comrade. You can be a dictator’s bosom-buddy, the trusted head of his secret police, but you too can vanish.
As a lover of Truth, I was always perplexed by the effort made by such Antichrists to vanish the fact they fired an employee. Why not just say the employee failed to do the job as you expected, and as you required it be done? I could only suppose they couldn’t face the Truth. They didn’t like being reminded that they had killed a comrade. Truth hurts, and they couldn’t face the pain. Also, people might ask questions, and, if the reason for questions was not in the picture, perhaps no questions would be asked and no honest answer would be required. (As if Truth was not watching!) In conclusion, it was (and is) an attitude based upon the false notion that Truth is an inanimate thing, and instead is made of a malleable material like modeling clay, which you control.
One thing such people do not control, and that is the inevitability of death. They may control the life expectancy of others, but not of themselves. We all must eventually face death, and it is very sad to see a dictator face what he has mocked, flaunted, and postponed. It is then he becomes the Macbeth, the Iago, the Claudius. There is a huge pathos in the ends of those who clutched power with white knuckles, but finally must see it slip away. In the case of the mighty Sennacherib of Assyria, after appointing his younger son heir, he looked up as he worshiped at his place-of-worship and saw his eldest son approaching with a drawn sword and murder in his eye. In the case of the mighty Joseph Stalin, his final days were filled with dread he might see the ones closest to him with murder in their eyes.
Therefore Stalin took precautions. He noted that when older communists died, doctors always seemed to be involved, so he had doctors jailed and interrogated. This was standard communist procedure. After internment, and interrogation including, if necessary, torture, the suspect would “confess” at a soviet “show trial.” The Russian public would be spoon-fed a pablum stating that Stalin was “Uncle Joe”, a lovable character, who evil people (often Jews) were out to betray. Many of Russia’s better doctors ( of whom many were Jewish), found themselves hauled in for questioning for no earthly reason they could think of, as Stalin faced old-age, and death.
Stalin also went out of his way to make sure he could keep his eye on the communist equivalent of “heirs to the throne.” Rather than going about their business, all Russia’s most important leaders had to hang around Stalin’s old-age-home (resort) and endure daily cross-examinations, far from where business was being enacted. One of these individuals may have dared to attempt to hurry Stalin’s demise. It has been suggested that a large dose of blood-thinner was added to to Stalin’s bedtime toddy of watered wine. The hope was that it would cause a stroke that would kill him. Stalin did suffer a stroke that night, but it didn’t kill him.
The main reason to suspect that Stalin’s stroke wasn’t natural is because his servants did not behave naturally, the next morning. Ordinarily, if their master overslept, they would enter the room and raise the curtains in a respectful manner. However not a single servant dared enter the room, on that particular morning. It was as if they somehow knew “something was up.” When someone finally went in, they found Stalin stretched out on the floor, as if the stroke incapacitated him as he left his bed to reach for a water bottle on the dresser. But he wasn’t dead.
At this point a Jewish doctor, an expert in the treatment of strokes, was under the duress of merciless cross-examination in the jails of the secret police. He was being interrogated for some conspiracy Stalin imagined existed, but which the doctor in fact knew nothing about. As these interrogations continued, day after dreary day, the doctor abruptly noticed a bewildering change in the questions he was being asked. They went from, “Do not your Jewish scriptures state that…” to, “When a person has suffered a stroke, is it wise to…” The shift in the questioning was so unexpected the fellow couldn’t help but laugh about it, (though only to himself). Then he was abruptly plucked from jail and whisked to Stalin’s side, and asked to save his oppressor’s life.
If he could have, he didn’t. Stalin’s death was slow and tortuous and took over ten days; he basically slowly turned purple and strangled to death, all the while looking around with bulging eyes at eyes that feared him, but did not much love him (and some eyes were the eyes of those who might have actually poisoned him).
Despite the fact Stalin was portrayed by the state-controlled Russian media as a jovial and huggy “Uncle Joe”, so many millions had died under his despotism, and so many had been sent off to “reeducation” in Siberia, that I can’t help but think Russia breathed a sigh of relief, to have him gone. The following spring must have been hopeful. It seems to show in the May Day propaganda poster for the next “five year plan”, likely painted just after he died.
This poster happens to be one that was on the wall of a hip, radical friend’s dorm, back around 1969, when I was just a teenager. And I must admit it is full of springtime optimism. Nor do I believe it is wrong to propose a five-year-plan that will enrich society, nor to vow to make such a plan a reality. However, even as teen, I knew a vast gulf separated a dream from reality, and a vow from fruition. (My own parents had vowed to be true until death parted them, but the reality was they divorced.) Despite all my youthful idealism and optimism, I had a cynical streak, and tended to poke fun at commercials on TV. Therefore I was not going to join any communist five-year-plan, until I had a few questions answered by my radical friends.
Because I was so young, my questions were rude and irreverent. My young and radical friends were extremely annoyed at my disrespect.
Because I had sex on the brain at that age, I immediately and rudely pointed out the spotlight of light on the blond girl’s left nipple. I wondered, why focus there? And shouldn’t such a star of light be above the forehead of the recently-departed Stalin, now part of a “beloved” quartet-of-lore in the background?
Next I wondered if the artist had paid too much attention to the blond girl’s left breast, for her head was some four inches higher than it should be. Michelangelo would never make a mistake like that.
Then I wondered why the young man in the picture was such a dork. His hair was too short. He was obviously a “square”.
Then I pondered what they were looking up at, so joyously. It wasn’t Stalin, because he was dead, and it couldn’t be God, for communists believed God was also dead. Was it a big copy of the five-year-plan? And shouldn’t you wait until a plan was completed before celebrating? And didn’t their joy now look stupid, (in 1969), because we (in 1969) now knew Russia had failed to achieve their goals, (of 1953), while we Americans looked likely to beat them to the moon?
Carefully examining the eyes of the young man and young woman in the propaganda poster, I stated they were not even looking at the same thing. Whatever it was they were so happy about, it was not something they agreed about.
Around about that time my radical friends would tell me to get the heck out of their dorm, while informing me I was hopelessly brainwashed by capitalist propaganda, and that Russians were richer than Americans, their cities had no slums, and that a Russian and not Thomas Edison had actually invented the light bulb.
As a young cynic I was equally critical of the American dream of a-house-in-the-suburbs. I had watched my own home town turn from a beautiful small town where neighbors knew each other into a sort of ugly suburban sterility where they didn’t, and I had no illusions about money buying happiness. Norman Rockwell painted life as we wanted it to be, more than he painted what actually was, and as a teen I found his work “square” (and even “propaganda”), but it is interesting to compare a work of his from a spring six years before the above poster was painted, with the above poster:
It is striking to me how much humbler the glorification is, and how clear and definite the subject is, though (as with the propaganda poster) much is occurring outside the picture. (It is also interesting to see Stalin’s mortality was discussed six years before he actually died.)
When I think about the difference between the two paintings, I see they both speak of spring and of hope, but the American painting is closer to Truth. Stalinists denied problems under the gloss of propaganda, whereas Norman Rockwell could make us smile (and even feel a mysterious joy), without hiding a problem.
Here’s another example: Builders often neglect to include space for children to play, when rushing to engineer a new neighborhood, whether the housing is part of a five-year-plan or a new suburb popping up in a post-war boom. To criticize a five-year-plan could be death, in Stalin’s Russia, but Rockwell could tell the truth with a picture, in America, during the post-war building boom.
If I imagine Rockwell had been born in Stalinist Russia, I’m tempted to ask myself a few questions: First, would the Commissar Of Daubed Rectangles have issued him any permits for canvas or paint? Second, would Rockwell have dared paint such a picture? Third, would any Russian magazine have dared use it for a cover? Fourth, would Rockwell and the magazine have been punished for the above picture? Lastly, if his picture had somehow been seen by Stalin and Stalin had been moved, or at least amused, would the grim man then have made it mandatory for every Russian neighborhood to include a baseball field, whether people wanted it or not, and whether people even played baseball, or were instead a community of retired stamp collectors?
The problem with any sort of autocratic mortal is that their dislike of opposition causes them to cease to be truly responsive, (if they ever were). Their efforts (if made at all) are clumsy, and once their desire to dominate takes over, they cease to be loving, which cuts them off from a wellspring of benefits. Beautiful benefits. The benefits we call, “Joy”.
The thing that strikes me about a painter like Rockwell is that he is not taking orders from a worldly commissar; he often doesn’t know what his next week’s subject will be; he is waiting to see “what comes to him”, and what his response will be. In other words a good artist tends to be responsive whereas an autocrat is primarily interested in power, and is domineering. It is a difference like the difference between night and day, and can be seen in the results.
The joke of it all is that the autocrat thinks he controls the world, but the world controls him. Conversely the best artists often are poor, powerless, and have little more than a gift; a genius like Bach wore the same humble servant’s garb as a butler. Yet the genius of an artist’s powerlessness opens heaven’s gates, and their influence stretches out across centuries. People still hum Mozart’s melodies. People quote Shakespeare without knowing it. Isaiah’s words uplift even after 2750 years. Yet they wore no crowns on earth; nor did they command armies.
In the end, the power is derived from Truth. And Truth is Love. And Love is responsive.
The dictators of the world like to issue their personal little-red-book rules, motivated by the idea the “masses” (you and me), are better off controlled by rules written on stone. This may have been the case when God wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone with burning brilliance for Moses, but that was only because the people Moses led had hearts hardened like stone, by 400 years of cruel slavery in Egypt. Elsewhere the Bible states the ten commandments are already written, on the hearts of every man, when hearts are created soft and innocent and childlike and new, in the newborn.
In other words we know, deep down, how to behave. We own a thing called a “conscience.” We need no tyrant. We need no big government. We need no welfare and government “benefits”. We need no so-called “charity” which makes the wallets of the so-called “giver” get fatter. All we need is the Truth.
The Truth is different every day. It is something we need to respond to. In order to respond correctly we need to love. Because we have the ten commandments etched on our God-given hearts, we don’t need some Chairman Mao demanding we obey his personal interpretation of a Marxist manifesto based upon distrust, and sadly founded on hate.
The things that upset me about Chairman Mao, and his “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution”, are almost too numerous to mention. The man seemed possessed by a odd belief that the way to be Avant-garde was to absolutely destroy the Status-quo. It was as if, when you chop down a forest, you instantly can harvest a crop of wheat in the wasteland you have created, or as if, when you tear down a slum, there are instantly new buildings for the homeless you have created. He failed to consult farmers, which was odd because he was country boy, and failed to consult builders, which was odd because he so badly wished to build a new China. The results were predictably disastrous. The “Great Leap Forward” may have resulted in the death in as many as 40 million by starvation, (although as many as two million may have had their starvation hastened by being badly beaten for daring to suggest Mao’s five-year-plan had shortcomings.)
The inner circles doing Mao’s “central planning” seem to have imagined they had divine powers, and that, by the wave of a hand, they could make things healed, like Jesus touching a crippled hand and the withered flesh healing and becoming strong right before onlooker’s startled eyes. However they had no such powers, and some of their decisions appear like complete madness. To jerk China into the twentieth century they decided to sharply increase the production of steel, and they ordered entire rural districts to produce steel, and nothing but steel. The picture below was taken out in a rural area at night, as people, desperate to obey, produced not steel, but pig-iron.
With such enormous manpower redirected to making steel others had to grow the food, but farmers were ordered, under penalty of death, to ignore their own wisdom and instead to follow the advise of Trofim Lysenko, a Russian pseudo-scientist who had already contributed to a terrible famine in Russia, and now contributed to a worse famine in China.
In order to hide the resultant crop failures ridiculous propaganda pictures were created. The picture below (from 1959) shows “the wheat was so thick youth could stand on it”.
The absurdity of the above picture is not only that the youths are standing on a hidden bench, but that the wheat was transplanted from where it grew sparsely to create the illusion it grew far more densely than it in fact was growing. It was a lie, justified by the need to “boost morale”.
The problem with this dishonesty was that the central planners were not receiving honest reports. This is a problem created by governments, when the honest are punished for telling the Truth. It was worsened by the fact Mao apparently desired adulation, and was susceptible to flattery. He was taken to see examples of how successful his policies were, in the same manner foreign reporters were taken to see settings that were basically a sham, and nothing like the horrors actually experienced by the poor, starving Chinese people. In order to foster the illusion of bumper crops warehouses brimming with grain were kept locked, because it was important to have warehouses brimming. And sometimes, (because the grain sometimes had to be shipped away for economic and political reasons), the very people who grew the food received none. Mao had the heartlessness of English Lords during the Irish Potato Famine: Despite the starving people dying outside, crying for Mao to save them, the brimming warehouses were not opened for the people who grew the food.
When the nature of the famine became undeniable, rather than the central planners accepting responsibility for the mess they had made, they blamed the weather (which actually was bad at that time). However there was some murmuring among the leaders that Mao’s leadership was not bringing about the prosperity he had promised. Mao felt such murmuring was counter-revolutionary, and represented back-sliding from the true answer to all problems, which was a total break from the past. This was his excuse for what he deemed a “Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, which was essentially mob rule.
Mao felt that what was holding China back was “Old culture, old customs, old habits, and old beliefs.” His solution was to close the schools, and to set the students lose to attack the “revisionist” and “imperialistic” counterrevolutionary forces who would attempt to once again enslave the Chinese. As the civil war between the Communists and Nationalists had been brutal, and memories were relatively recent, (1949 was only 17 years in the past), it was possible to pick scabs and reawaken traumatic memories (focusing on Nationalist atrocities and ignoring Communist atrocities, or describing Communist cruelty as “justified” and “revolutionary”), and to utilize mob violence in an attempt to “cleanse” China of evil and make it sparkling clean.
It didn’t happen. Instead the students, who beyond doubt had experienced oppression under dictatorial rule, unleashed their resentment towards all figures of authority and all symbols of tradition and all fashions that were remotely “western”. They were given the power to accuse teachers, principles and parents, and to interrogate them. They had the power to break into households and conduct searches for evidence of counterrevolutionary thought. Having an old dusty suit of a western fashion in a back closet, or an old keepsake from a grandmother made of gold, or a statue of Buddha or Confucius or a crucifix, or even a haircut deemed too “western”, could result in an interrogation and beating and exile to a place of “reeducation”. National landmarks, old temples hundreds of years old, were trashed. As this chaos descended upon China various units of the Red Guard accused each other of infractions, and gang warfare developed, echoing the warlords of China’s civil war. Industrial production dropped 12% between 1966 and 1968. Rather than sparkling purity and progress, the revolution resembled the Terror of the French Revolution, until even Mao himself felt some sense of threat.
Mao then used the policy of “rustication”, which he had originally begun as a sort of Utopian vision (with the statement, “The countryside is a vast expanse of heaven and earth where we can flourish”), as a way to get the Red Guard off the streets, with his statement, “The intellectual youth must go to the country, and will be educated from living in rural poverty.” A minimum of 16 million youths were sent off to a sort of penal labor, though getting many to give up their power as mini-warlords, and marching them off, wasn’t all that easy. During the Cultural Revolution the Red Guard was responsible for a half million deaths, while the army was responsible for twice as many, many of them members of the Red Guard who resisted army control. In the end the military ruled and China became a police state.
Mao’s claim, (that revolution was beneficial in and of itself), was refuted. If anything he caused China to conclude the exact opposite was true: Power should never be given to the people, especially to the young. But what his tragic example actually proves is that power corrupts leaders, and absolute power corrupts leaders absolutely. His so-called “philosophy” seems partly an old man’s yearning back towards simpler days, when revolution was easier, and the “bad guys” were obvious, (during his “Long March” across China), and it partly seems a desperate grasping to cling to power after the debacle of his “Great Leap Forward.” Above all his vision seems blurred by a dislike for Truth.
What has this to do with sea-ice? It is because, just as Mao had a deep dislike for what Truth was making self-evident, Alarmists have a deep dislike for what Truth is making self-evident, concerning the so-called arctic sea-ice “Death Spiral.” And it is when people see their relationship with Truth sour, that one either becomes humble, or the rot sets in.
Some may call it laughable to call a quibble about the fluctuations in the amount of sea-ice anything like the cruelty enacted by tyrants like Mao, Stalin and Hitler, but it is only a matter of degree. (Nor is it all that small a quibble, when one considers the billions of dollars involved, [dollars I think are wasted, if not completely corrupted into being mere “kick-backs”], in “Global Warming”), (not to mention the possible complete derangement of economies in the future.) Mighty weeds can grow from tiny seeds.
The entire twentieth century involved China in so much calamity it beggars the imagination. Even the death of hundreds of thousands in a terrible flood becomes, through comparison, a “small” event. But among all of China’s misfortunes Mao takes the cake, for the calamity he’s associated with was not nature’s floods, earthquakes or drought-caused famines, nor an invading foreign power, but rather a hell caused by a man who was native-born. Mao had some degree of love for his homeland and his people. How could his leadership go so terribly astray? Why, God, why?
Call me simplistic if you will, but I see Mao as a tragic character like Macbeth, or Iago, or Claudius, who faced the same moral choices we all face, and dared make the wrong choices we all are tempted to make, but seldom dare make, (or seldom make to the incredible degree Mao made them).
He murdered. He deceived on a regular basis, as a matter of political principle, and advocated that others deceive. (“Propaganda”) Much of his emphasis was based on hatred rather than love. (Hatred of the bourgeois, the petite bourgeois, landlords, royalty, wealthy people, western civilization, “revisionists”, “imperialists”, and, (by his end), basically anyone who differed from his warped idealism.) But to me his worst wrong-choice was to terribly misguide the hope of China, which was its youth. To direct the freshness, energy, enthusiasm and optimism of youth into the Red Guard’s atrocities was a child-abuse of unprecedented scale and ugliness, (which is envied and admired by wicked people even to this day).
One of Mao’s greatest hypocrisies was to loath people (other than himself) gifted with power (“bourgeois”) [irregardless if wealth came from privilege and parents, or through hard work], and instead to praise the peasant, (“proletariat”),[irregardless if the peasant worked hard or was slothful], while at the same time redefining himself as an all-powerful demigod, and his personal thoughts as a sort of Chinese Bible. His “little red book” was a sort of gospel of class warfare, based on hatred. It is also an example of a man so overly-proud of his own opinions he cannot hear the cries of others, even of the proletariat he claims to care for. He turned his arrogance into a sort of personality cult, and his “little red book” into a cudgel he used to crush people who dared disagree. Despite all the physical evidence that his policy was causing China harm, both in capitalistic terms and in terms of the physical and spiritual welfare of the Chinese people, he insisted the problem lay in any who dared disagree with him. By his end, it “was all about me”. Of what use were others? In his eighties, ravaged by strokes, an old, drooling, and in many ways demented man, he clung to his insistence that if it wasn’t good for Mao it couldn’t be good for China. Talk about vanity! Talk about a failure to appreciate others! Talk about hate and egotism triumphing over love and selflessness!
Talk about an Antichrist! Where Christ took a minuscule amount of bread and fish to feed 5000 Jews on one occasion and 4000 non-Jews on another, Mao took all the wisdom of China’s farmers and, with the “help” of Lysenko, caused the starvation of millions upon millions of good Chinese people.
It will be hard for China to ever admit how ignorant Mao was. It is hard, when you are brought up to treat “the little red book” as a Bible, to admit the writer wasn’t a Christ, and in fact was in many ways an Antichrist. But China is coming to its senses, (very slowly, it sometimes seems), and confessing that their worship of the “little red book” was as least as stupid as, and perhaps more stupid than, the screaming worship of western imperialist, capitalist, petite-bourgeoisie woman, at the same time, of the Beatles. (Mao was “more stupid”, because, at least, in 1967, the Beatles didn’t murder, and talked a lot about love.) In 1967, in China, the “Beatles”, that the teenage girls went wild about, looked like this:
It is interesting to compare the Maoist propaganda pictures with the Stalinist poster I showed above. Notice how no one smiles in the Chinese propaganda?
I can never look at these propaganda posters without considering the artist who painted them. What pressure was he under, and what was he thinking?
No artist can completely free themselves from Truth, even when they intentionally gird their loins and attempt to mold it into a half-truth. At times Truth leaks into their art in ways they do not intend It to (and which they may even be horrified by.) Sometimes such leakage is completely subconscious, and sometimes it is purposeful and involves daring. It occurs in political art, commercial art, and even when one is simply painting a portrait for an arrogant, paying customer. As hard as one tries to paint a fool looking intelligent, the truth may sometimes leak in around the edges. (If you do it well, the fool cannot see it, and you still get paid.)
For example, (putting on the cynical hat I wore as a teenager), in the above poster the youth holding the little-red-book has his arm in the unnaturally stiff “heil Hitler” salute of a Nazi. (As does the youth below seemingly reaching towards a bayonet.) Accident? Subconscious? We do not know what the painter of this picture underwent, but we do know that students at art schools saw their teachers humiliated and hauled off, and never saw them again. The copies of statues from other lands, including a careful facsimile of Michelangelo’s statue of David, were dragged outside and pulverized with sledge hammers. Who knows what secret feelings lurked in the heart of the painter of the above poster?
Wearing my hat (of a cynical teenager with sex-on-the-brain), I notice the artist certainly didn’t aim to make the women in the poster all that attractive. There is no spotlight on the left nipple. (The left nipple is in fact in shadow, but there is a faint trace of a right nipple, which Sigmund Freud would suggest may indicate the artist still had faint, youthful hopes.) Of course, any sort of mascara or face-powder or eye-shadow was deemed western and decadent, or else, if applied in an oriental manner, was deemed “traditional” and therefore equally decadent, so perhaps the artist was merely painting the truth he witnessed; however make-up is supposed to mimic natural attractiveness, and the artist saw little of that. The women he portrays are not exactly the sort whom a teenager would veer from his ordinary path to chat with.
But what seems oddest to me is at the bottom of the poster, and involves the positioning of the open palm and the bayonet. It may be that, with the art-teacher “liquidated”, the placement of hand and bayonet was merely a matter of poor, uneducated composition, but you could not ask for two more opposite symbols than an open palm (peace) and a bayonet (war), and, even if the bayonet is suppose to be behind the palm, the palm does appear to be reaching towards it. It seems a strange sort of juxtaposition, perhaps hinting at a desire for peace midst Red Guard violence, and, if I was a zealot of the Red Guard, I would have had the artist hauled off for immediate interrogation. (Just as a Freudian psychiatrist sees sexual symbolism everywhere, the Red Guard could see counterrevolution everywhere.)
Even when there isn’t a bullying politician or boss demanding that the artist portray certain things in a certain, inaccurate way, an artist is always struggling with Truth, especially when the artist is young. This occurs because an artist has a preconception of what they want to portray, but an artist also has an inner ear or eye or nose that can tell if the work “looks right” or “sounds right” or “smells right”, and these different factors are seldom in complete agreement. This battle in an artist is the same battle, (a battle between infatuation and love, between a foregone conclusion and ongoing appreciation), that one sees enacted on the bigger stage of world politics.
I first became aware of this battle when I was a young artist, for I had high hopes, and, because art is “self expression”, my high hopes appeared on the page. I would be sketching a boy-meets-girl plot and trying to get it to the boy-gets-girl climax, (the plot of both romance and pornography), and worked hard to write my story to the happy-ever-after ending I craved, but problems would unexpectedly appear. The lovely Susie Creamcheese in my tale would unexpectedly develop an IQ of 160, and become a high-maintenance individual. The story that had seemed so easy to write would grind to a halt, as I suffered what is called “writer’s block”.
In this microcosm I myself was the Mao, attempting to inflict my preconceived five-year-plan, but, within my creation, (far smaller than China), counterrevolutionary forces appeared. Unlike Mao, I stopped in my tracks. I knew intuitively that what I was attempting didn’t “look right” or “sound right” or “smell right”. So I would cross things out, and rewrite. At times I rewrote over, and over, and over, and over again.
Who was the editor that made me rewrite? It wasn’t a fellow mortal. At that time I longed for a worldly editor or agent to give me free advice, (as I had no money), but none were to be found. Instead I faced an editor available to all, who does not charge a penny for good advice, called Truth.
In order to access the free advice of this invaluable Editor all one needs to do be honest. When something doesn’t “sound right” one needs to confess. This confession doesn’t require a Catholic “confessional booth”, or any sort of ritual. All one needs to do is say, “my last effort seems to suck.” This admission of failure is the same for the scientist as it is for the artist. It opens the doors to improvement, and my experience has always been that a sweet breeze immediately refreshes, and also that stubbornly refusing to open the door results in stultifying mustiness.
Any success in life is built on the shoulders of many failures. In fact, when you look at the lives of fellow mortals we admire and call “great”, it is often startling to see what losers they were before they shone. Churchill in many ways was selected to be the individual that saved the world from Hitler, Stalin and even Mao, but what made him the perfect man for the job was a lot of failure beforehand. He was such a loser that the politically-correct called him “finished” in 1938, but a year later he was thrilling all who love freedom with his defiance of despots, leading ordinary people to fight the good fight against evil.
At this point, if you love a good debate, it is useful to point out Hitler was also a longtime-loser, who used failure as a fuel for meteoric (albeit short-term) success. The difference between the two men seems to be that Churchill knew the meaning of “magnanimous”, whereas the frustration of failure was, for Hitler, an excuse for white-hot rage and burning vengeance. (Being thrown-out of power was, for Churchill, a good excuse for champagne during breakfast.) (For Hitler, Stalin and Mao even the suggestion they relinquish power was an excuse to kill.)
Obviously, though it sounds ambiguous, there is great power in being a failure. It has nothing to do with being a quitter, (as Churchill was not a man known for accepting surrender). Rather it is a matter of learning from your mistakes, which is very hard to do if you insist you are correct. It doesn’t matter if your insistence takes the murderous form of a Hitler, Stalin or Mao, or is the merely offensive snobbery of the “politically correct”. If you insist on being called correct, and on being seen with the right people in the right places and never being seen as wrong, then you are a total fool, for you are denying yourself the advice of the Master, the King of kings and Emperor of emperors, called Truth.
Truth has no interest in shaming us, when It corrects us. It only wants to improve our quality of life. Truth wants to help. Shame makes no sense. Shame is the invention of the same idiot who invented war, rage, vengeance, and a lot of other stupid things.
Truth wants to stop the stupidity. In the end, Truth will succeed, because Truth is the stuff we are made of, and Truth is the Creator who made us. To resent the Truth that made us is like resenting the air that we breathe. Only silly people do it.
Why call yourself “correct” when it should be obvious none of us are? Not fully.
Because we are mortal we are imperfect, and because we are imperfect Truth is a standing challenge to our very existence; to our precious egos which are perhaps necessary, but are a necessary evil, for they are shells that make us lumber like a tortoise when we were born to bound like frogs. Truth wants us to shed our shells. Because Truth is Love it does not shame us, but rather wants us to compare our current state with what we might be, to compare our current art with what Truth is. Truth wants us to leave the rough draft behind, and to move on to the second, third, and fourth draft. Is that such a shameful thing?
What has this to do with Arctic Sea Ice? It is because, besides the actual science involved, I see some imbeciles employing Maoist tactics. It is as if the world learned nothing from China’s agony, or Russia’s agony under Stalinism, or Germany’s agony under Hitler. Just as Mao ignored the evidence under his own nose, a half century later certain college professors are blind. The Truth does not matter to such snobs; they think their vainglorious ideology makes them righteous.