I have been working on a political cartoon that would portray, in a picture, the sheer ignorance of certain “political correctness” and “virtue signalling.”
I use the word “ignorance” because it is the most spiritual way of stating another brother or sister doesn’t know what the -bleep- they are talking about. It is better to call a politician “ignorant” than a “liar”, when they promise everyone free cheese mined from the moon.
Truth is beauty, but ignorance is the lack of Truth, and tends to create ugly consequences. The way to solve problems is through Truth, albeit often solutions appear in a slower and more painstaking manner. Ignorant promises of quick-fixes may draw a crowd, but the happy crowd becomes an unruly mob when the promises are revealed to be lies. Then the ugly mob requires policing, and all too often what began as benevolent promises deteriorates into brutal oppression. (For example, Venezuela.)
When one has been sold a shadowy snake-oil, there is a sad moment when one realizes the stuff doesn’t work. It is during such times Truth may be called “cruel.” Also there may be a period when one undergoes disbelief and denial. During such times ignorance takes on a life of its own, fighting for its very existence, like a shadow attempting to avoid vanishing in a beam of light. Ignorance can then become dangerous, like a cornered rat, but also comical, for there is something humorous about the sight of a person attempting to cling to a shadow.
For example, when I have studied long and hard to glean some tidbit of Truth, (for example about Arctic Sea-Ice), I find it comical when some young whippersnapper, who knows nothing about the topic, acts as if they know more, and furthermore claims I should be censored. In some ways they work harder to censor Truth than to know Truth. Such behavior deserves a cartoon.
In order draw out the humor and create a cartoon one needs to adjust the contrast, placing events together in a way that reduces ignorance to absurdity. While I haven’t worked out the details, I have been toying with the idea of comparing the 1968 Democrat Convention with the 2020 Democrat Convention, and guessing what young Democrats outside the convention might protest about, concerning the politics of Democrat higher-ups, inside the convention.
In 1968 Democrat policy had us in the Vietnam War, but the young Democrats, who faced being drafted and being forced to fight and perhaps die, were demanding a reason to die, and refusing to fight without reason, but rather than reason they were attacked by the police of the Democrat mayor of Chicago, whereupon the youth began chanting, “The whole world is watching.”
In 2020 Democrat policy seems at least as ignorant as 1968’s, and it occurred to me young Democrats might be equally frustrated, but have a different chant outside the Democrat convention. This time it might be, “The whole world is laughing.”
(For in my eyes the lack of Truth involved among Democrats makes much, spoken as gospel by the “Politically correct”, appear so ignorant it sounds like the soliloquies of Shakespeare’s fools. But modern youth are not always the fools their brain-washers assume, and already bristle at some of the ignorant suggestions they are asked to swallow, if they are to be “Politically Correct”.).
My personal cartoon of this situation would have 1968 and “The whole world is watching” on a first frame and 2000 and “The whole world is laughing” on the second, but lots needs to be worked out. I’m not sure I’ll ever get the details of the picture right.
Therefore I was glad to see a fellow did get a lot right, and displayed, in a different way, the joke of “Political Correct Ignorance”, at least in part:
I have lost a lot of my interest in the arctic, because the nameless “left” has largely retreated from that battle. Not that they have surrendered, and confessed that their “Global Warming” panic was merely a political creation. In the last month one young Democrat running for president (in 2028) has claimed the world will end in 12 years “if we don’t do something” about Global Warming. Not to be outdone, a second Democrat candidate (for 2020) claimed the world would end in only 10 years, “if we don’t do something.” The political posturing gets far more attention than any actual facts about sea-ice, which makes truly interesting science hard to find.
Unfortunately (for such candidates) the public is growing jaded. The situation is like being long ago told, by a commercial, “Buy Now! The sale ends at midnight!” The ploy might have worked the first time, but a lot of midnights have passed since then, and yet the same inane advertisement keeps running. The public has realized the sale really doesn’t end at midnight, and all further exclaiming about such an “end” looks increasingly insincere, if not silly. No one is buying it…….or are they?
I find myself studying the delusion and the deluded more than the actual sea-ice. The arctic sea-ice was suppose to be gone by now. We’ve been hearing the Alarmist guff about an ice-free Pole for at least thirteen years. (I first heard an earlier hippy-version way back in 1971, back when we used to sit around deciding how the world was going to end, so we wouldn’t have to get a Real Job.) This headline’s from 2008:
The only way politicians can continue to repeat such refuted claims, without understanding it makes them look stupid, is because they have been educated that making such refuted claims makes them look wise. Not only have they been spoon-fed untruths, but they have not been taught to analyze and correct. They have “drunk the Kool-aid,” ingesting the poison of false values while blithely thinking it is virtuous to do so. I am turning into an old crank, for while my own children seem to have grown up with brains that function, young politicians make me feel that beyond my walls we have raised a generation of imbeciles.
While I do not like the word “reeducation”, (due to its association with communist atrocities and brutality), it seems to me these brainwashed people need to be awoken to the fact they have been lied to. Not that I advocate any sort of forced “deprogramming”, but mistaken people need to see their mistakes. But such persuasion is never easy, for a number of reasons.
First, the human ego never likes being told it is wrong. Being wrong involves crumpling up neatly-drawn plans and throwing stuff away and going back to the drawing board, which is work. In the game of “snakes and ladders”, facing-a-mistake is a snake, and people prefer ladders. People prefer progress, however, as engineers know, it is far better to face mistakes early, before you build, than to build and then have a building come crashing down. (“Global Warming” may be now be facing a political version of the latter.)
Second, young people have an innocent trust that their teachers know what they are talking about. Some teachers don’t, and only repeat what they see in books, in a robotic manner. It hurts young idealists to have their trust in teachers broken, and to understand some teachers define “teaching” as being more like a parrot, than as being a person who truly understands the subject they are talking about.
Third, people find it hard to believe that their fellow man could lie to their face, willingly and willfully, and with full knowledge they are perpetuating a deceit. One might expect such evil behavior in a “bad guy” with a black hat and twirled mustache who snickers “Nyah-ha-ha” in a movie, but not in someone they feel is a friend. To realize another is treating you as a sucker admits you have been, to some degree, a sucker, (up to that point, at least), and no one likes admitting they’ve been a fool.
The above difficulties are exacerbated when false values include making-money and/or gaining-awards and/or basking-in-the-flattery-of-social-prestige. We tend to prefer employment to being unemployed, financial security to anxiety, acceptance to rejection, and acclaim to being ostracized. Because we cannot get everything we desire, we must at times compromise and, sad to say, some of our compromises are mistakes. For money we compromise when we shouldn’t, for acceptance we compromise when we shouldn’t, for peace we compromise when we shouldn’t, and so on.
In the case of Global Warming the exacerbation was extreme because literally trillions of dollars were involved. In attempting to seek out the origins of the fallacy, one suspects some very rich people had to be at Global Warming’s roots.
For this reason some suspect the very wealthy members of the “Club Of Rome”, (formed over a half century ago in 1968), have been behind much of the Global Warming advocacy. They announced, (in “The Limits To Growth“, published in 1972), that mankind was running out of resources and time. Because they had so much money and power, they seemed to feel God had placed them in the position to save mankind from a disaster, which they felt was sure to come if populations kept increasing as resources ran out. They gloomily foresaw the degradation of the environment to a degree where the entire planet would become an overgrazed, industrial wasteland and desert, (and they based their ideas on computer models, even back when only very rich men could afford computers). In 1970 they foresaw the disaster would be upon us by 1990.
Others pointed out, and continue to point out, that their computer models contained some underlying assumptions that were very pessimistic, and which over the past half-century have proven untrue. Robert Solow, winner of the Noble prize for Economics, described the Club of Rome’s ideas as “amateurish” and “simplistic”. The Club Of Rome in fact didn’t see how innovative humanity can be, when faced with problems. (This has not discouraged the Club Of Rome from continuing to forecast doom, and their computer models continue to foresee the collapse of civilization, now confidently expected to occur in the middle of the 21st century.)
The Club of Rome likely does not stand alone on the pedestal of blame, but they publish their ideas, and therefore are more exposed. After the Soviet Union fell on Christmas, 1991, they didn’t rejoice at the end of the Cold War, but instead worried that mankind would lack an enemy to fight, stating, in The First Global Revolution, “Every state has been so used to classifying its neighbours as friend or foe, that the sudden absence of traditional adversaries has left governments and public opinion with a great void to fill. New enemies have to be identified, new strategies imagined, and new weapons devised.”
Particularly cynical (to me) is the statement by King & Schneider, “In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself.”
This gloomy view of mankind and its future seemed to generate a need to create a scapegoat for man to fight, and furthermore to encourage a sort of “ends-justify-the-means” mentality wherein it was acceptable to lie, in the process of creating the scapegoat humanity could rally around fighting. I don’t know why they didn’t feel they could just tell the truth, but I imagine an element of condescending snobbishness was involved, wherein they felt humanity was just too stupid to be told the truth. In truth they themselves were the stupid ones, for in the end Highest Truth inevitably works its way to the surface, and it is then that liars have egg on their face.
In a sense we are now seeing that Abraham Lincoln spoke truth when he stated, “You cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” but Lincoln began that statement with, “You can fool some of the people all of the time”, and that is what we are now dealing with: A sort of residue of trusting people, brought up to see “carbon” as a scapegoat, and as a foe.
Some describe these trusting people as “sheeple”, which seems a bit snide and condescending to me. I actually find trusting people far easier to work with. But a problem occurs when it dawns on them they can’t trust. An entire range of reactions is then possible, from apathy to panic to fury to humor to a white-hot determination to stand for Truth. History demonstrates that when faced with such duress some nations crumble, while others experience a “Finest Hour”.
It seems plain to me the United States has arrived at such a tipping point. I have no idea how things will turn out, but do know that at such times every voice matters. While it can be difficult and even dangerous to speak the voice of reason among the raging, often such a voice can turn the tide, and has great influence among the silent even if the speaker is shown the door. The “left” has been all too willing to utilize this “voice” in a shrieking and impolite manner, protesting as conservatives attempt to speak, but conservatives must persist, (hopefully in more soothing tones), if the United States is to remain a two-party-system where Freedom, especially Freedom Of Speech, is a way of life.
Therefore, yawning slightly, I will again debunk what has already been debunked. And that is the idea that the sea-ice over the North Pole is in a “Death Spiral”, and also that, if the sea-ice ever did melt completely away, it would have terrible consequences. While debunking I’ll also point out some attributes of the strange mental state called “Alarmism”.
The “Death Spiral” idea is silly because the sea-ice has melted away in the recent past, without terrible consequences, (and in fact likely with pleasant consequences, in many northern lands).
The evidence is there, but there has been an effort to hide it. I know this sounds a bit paranoid and crazy, but in order to create a “narrative” wherein people could become bug-eyed about sea-ice melting, one had to “erase” the fact it has happened before. The most notable incident involved a scientist being told “we have to erase the Medieval Warm Period”. However the effort to “erase” evidence that disproves the so-called “narrative” has been far more widespread and absurd. Because so much money has been involved, it has pulled the strings of weak people who allowed themselves become puppets for the production of propaganda. Meanwhile such manipulation of monies completely baffled the honest scientists, who care far more about science than “propaganda”, even to a degree where they forget to deposit their paychecks at the bank, until the bank (or their wife) complains.
I wish I had the time to entertain you with all the examples of this silliness I have witnessed. The book would be hilarious, were it not for the fact some very decent and honest scientists have abruptly seen their funding denied, because their honesty clashed with the “narrative”.
I don’t have the time, and instead will merely mention the funding dried up, all of a sudden, when it came to placing cameras on the sea-ice on the Arctic Sea. Where we once could see what was going on up there, a sort of iron curtain has fallen. Only four years ago there were, at one point, eight functioning cameras sending us pictures. Now there are none. What happened?
I’ll give you my take, which is that initially the pictures supported the “narrative”, but then slowly such images began to undermine the “narrative”, at which point the pictures were no longer welcome. I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it just seems odd that, even as it became far cheaper to place such cameras, suddenly there was no money available to do so.
Initially the cameras supported the “narrative” because they showed sea-ice melting in the summer. In actual fact, the sea-ice had always melted in the summer, but normal people didn’t know this. (I myself didn’t know this, back when I was normal.)
In fact, the sun never sets for six months, at the Pole. There is no “cool of the evening” because there is no evening. The sun just rides around the horizon, around and around, higher and higher, so of course temperatures rise. Temperatures commonly rise above freezing in May and then, on average, remain above freezing day after day, week after week, all the way to August. So is it any wonder the sea-ice melts?
This has nothing to do with Global Warming. It has been happening for millennium. But the cameras allowed us to see what only a few hundred arctic explorers had ever seen before. It was wonderful! It was beautiful! But I’m afraid it failed to be alarming enough.
Not that they didn’t try. The cameras showed the melt-water pools that form on the sea-ice during the summer, and sensationalist headlines made it sound like such pools were a new thing. But then a cantankerous old coot like myself would point out such pools were described by arctic explorers clear back to Henry Hudson in the 1600’s, and also that, when a crack formed in the ice, the water typically drained down and the pool vanished. This could result in embarrassment for Alarmists. For example, in 2013 they dubbed one such pool “Lake North Pole”, claiming it signified the beginning of The End, but no sooner had they drawn everyone’s attention to that camera’s view, when the pool drained and vanished, and instead the camera showed a view of a midsummer snow on polished sea-ice.
The fact the cameras at times embarrassed Alarmists, showing freezing where Satellites indicated thaw, or snowfalls at the peak of the melt-season, or waters clotted with sea-ice in a location other “official” maps showed open water, made them seem unhelpful, to those most interested in the “narrative”. The cameras, initially supportive to the “narrative”, had become a liability. As a cynical old coot, I feel it is no great wonder that the funding dried up.
Nor is it a great wonder to me that richer Alarmists no longer invested in other arctic endeavors. We used to be able to get pictures from all sorts of crazy dudes who planned to prove how bad Global Warming was by being the first to row to the Pole in a bathtub. Or, well, maybe not a bathtub, but in other inadequate craft.
What amazed me most about such young adventurers was: They always got funded. The money was flowing like rivers, but now it has dried up. I think they tended to show too much sea-ice and not enough melting, and failed to support the “narrative.”
I was sad to see that, for the first time in years, there was no “Barneo” base at the Pole this April. Many tourists were willing to fork out $20,000 to ski at the Pole, but there was apparently not enough extra “science money” to make the truly marvelous event, (which even included a yearly marathon), worth the organizers getting over various political differences.
Officially the 2019 Barneo base didn’t happen because of bickering between Russia and Ukraine, but in the past such bickering was lubricated out of existence by a surging inflow of money. Now the money has dried up. Forgive me if I sound overly suspicious, but I think Barneo was also unhelpful to the “narrative”. There was something about the sight of jets landing on the ice (to unload wealthy tourists) that failed to support the idea the Pole would soon be an open ocean.
To me this seems to demonstrate how, as soon as you agree you must “erase” some element of Truth to promote your “narrative”, you have become compromised. Some idealism has egged-you-on into a predicament where you will wind up with egg-on-your-face.
This is not to say that the people who promoted the “narrative” didn’t mean well. They deemed their lies “white lies”. However when they had money and power they could seduce all sorts of people to do what they wanted, and to be at their beck and call. Sad to say, but many scientists, faced with a choice between working in the field they went to college to study, or flipping burgers in a fast-food joint, will chose to work in the field of science, even if it requires some compromise. Some “white lies.”
Nearly every job I’ve ever worked has involved putting up with stuff I’d rather not put-up-with. Compromise is part of life. But it should not involve too great a disregard of Truth.
I’ve worked for employers who demanded discipline. For example, I worked for a place where you could be fired if you “punched in” one second late. This seemed ridiculous to me, because some people tended to sit around the time-clock shooting the bull and drinking coffee for a half hour after they punched-in, while other got right to work. The Truth was that the time-stamp on the time-clock’s punch-card didn’t indicate how hard a man worked. But the boss didn’t want to hear my debate, so I compromised, for a while, and made sure to never be one second late. Eventually I would refuse to obey such discipline, and got fired, but I knew I deserved it. However I knew I could just go get another job. If I left a job in a factory I could go work in a cannery.
I think it isn’t so easy for scientists. It is harder for them to just go get another job. Albert Einstein did need to flee fascism and Germany, but if he had been driven to get a job running a fork lift, I shudder to think of the complete disaster which might have ensued. (To be honest, I didn’t always do so hot myself, as a poet operating a forklift.) (Cue sound-effect of much breaking glass.)
It seems a bit sad to me that funding is no longer flowing like wine, to study melting-at-the-Pole, because I know there are certain scientists who were hired, and asked to compromise a great deal, to make that subject their specialty. Employers shouldn’t just cut the funding for such faithful slaves. Sadly, whoever is funding the Global Warming idea is now treating some scientists like industrialists once treated coal miners, once the miners got old and were no longer useful. This is unwise. Kipling stated there is no fury like the fury of a woman scorned, but I think the fury of an abandoned slave may be as bad. When you deny a man all income, honor, and dignity, despite loyal service, a mere mouse may become a cornered rat.
Fortunately I don’t need to worry about losing income, honor and dignity, concerning sea-ice, because such study is only my hobby. True, due to some stuff I don’t understand concerning “search-engines”, my old posts about sea-ice used to get me over 700 views, and this post will likely get only 40, but this will not effect my income. Or my honor and dignity. After all, sea-ice is just my frickin’ hobby, and I’ll do it even if nobody “views.” The best things in life are free, but sometimes you are the only viewer. For example: That sunrise you saw, a while back. You might have wished there was someone you could share it with, but there wasn’t, yet it was majestic all the same. It was a joy just for you, and all your own (nor were you truly alone, in a spiritual sense).
Some Alarmists lack such joy, and sadly are lodged in unhappiness. They are unhappy because the sea-ice refuses to obey them. Here is the latest evidence:
The sea-ice “extent” graph seems to show a “recovery”. Rather than the “accelerating decline” predicted by “Death Spiral” theory, we are above the depths reached during the low-ice years in 2007 and 2012. The recent “maximum” was higher than last year’s, and, despite great excitement by Alarmists about a recent dip in “extent”, we are not in any way, shape or form headed towards an ice-free summer, this year.
As I look at the above graph, it with an awareness Alarmists seem to lack, concerning the past. I can only suppose it is because, where they must “erase” for the sake of a “narrative”, I simply accept history as it is.
And even most-recent history shows April cannot predict September’s minimum. In 2006 the extent in April was one of the lowest, in recent history, but by September the 2006 minimum was one of the highest, yet this highness, while making 2007 far higher than 2006 the next April, didn’t keep 2007 from having a September minimum which was the second lowest, in recent memory. Obviously the situation in April means little. If it meant much, 2006’s minimum would be lower than 2007’s, in September. In actual fact 2006 is one of the highest recent September extents, as 2007 is one of the lowest. April’s extent, in and of itself, is a lousy predictor.
Because I know recent history, I had a hard time getting all bent out of shape by a recent dip in the above “extent graph”, which some Alarmists claimed was proof all Capitalists should become Communists. Yes, you heard me right. They did claim such a preposterous thing. Look at the small downward blip in the graph, and imagine the leap of faith required to conclude it had such a huge political significance.
Forgive me, but I didn’t even want to join the discussion.
Such discussion has always repelled me. This is a bit of a side track, but I think my dislike was formed by a mildly traumatic event at the end of my boyhood. Back when I was a grubby little boy some elders felt I might be improved by cleaning up what I wore, or having my hair cut more often, but I always found such fussing annoying. I had better things to do, and preferred hiking and fishing to being neat and tidy.
My slovenliness reached a peak around 1965, when, as youngest in my class, I was the last to show any sign of growing pubic hair, in the showers after gym class. I was the last true boy, and got in trouble with authorities by being grubby and careless, and wearing jeans to school ( illegal, back then) and having hair over the tops of my ears (also illegal) or wearing tattered sneakers, (you were suppose to wear shoes). I didn’t mean to rebel; I simply was neglectful. Meanwhile my pals were hit by hormones and abruptly became insanely interested in fashion and females. They got in different trouble by daring to wear fashionable clothing, which broke certain school dress-codes. Their jet-black pants were too tight and too short; so tight about their ankles they could barely get them over their feet when they put them on, and they wore expensive footwear called “Beatle Boots” which the grown-ups banned because they were boots and not shoes. None of this made a lick of sense to me, for, after all, I was still a boy. What made sense was hiking and fishing.
I think the experience shaped me. Because I was youngest I saw, like the child seeing the Emperor had no clothes, that what was politically correct in 1965 was silly. My mind was impressed, and my thought was shaped in a way which saw the “fashion” others desired was actually repellent.
Therefore, when hormones hit me only a year later, I had no desire the wear pants tight around the ankle and Beatle-boots, because that seemed silly. Rather I would do what was not silly. Quite accidentally I was seeking an “alternative lifestyle”. And what was the alternative? At that time it was to remain a child, a Huckleberry Finn, and to continue hiking and fishing, but to do so with the fever of an adolescent rather than the quietude of a boy. I learned to have a (nearly) complete disregard for fashion and political correctness. I had no idea this made me more adult than many adults. I was merely “thinking for myself”.
I think by 1967 the fashions of the politically correct became so shameful that many men have zealously burned all evidence, and developed amnesia. It was a fashion called “mod”. Men wore polka dots. I remember it quite clearly: Absurd, brightly colored polka dots. Not just ties, but sport coats. But nearly all evidence has been erased, like the Medieval Warm Period. What man would confess to being such a fool of fashion?
There was no way you were going to get me to dress in polka dots. Sorry, but even the slight chance, (very slight), that I could seduce a babe couldn’t trick me into wearing such peacock buffoonery. I stuck with my dirty jeans, and stuck with neglecting to get my hair cut until my shaggy locks got me rebuked by the school principle, and I stuck with hiking and fishing.
Then, in 1969, to my complete astonishment, dirty jeans and shaggy locks became fashionable and politically correct. As the youngest senior in my class I was abruptly the guy who was ahead of the curve, the guy who saw what was hip before all others, the guru of fashion.
I won’t pretend the flattery didn’t sway me. Every dog has his day. But, as fashion moved on to “disco”, I was like a guru wistfully watching all his disciples rush off to John Travolta.
Forgive me if I am belaboring my point, but it has been the experience of my life that a large part of “political correctness” is superficiality. It has next to nothing to do with the underlying Truth. At best “political correctness” is a dirty reflection through a warped mirror of what is actually occurring in the honest foundations of society, and at worst it is a complete misrepresentation.
There is much in my life I am not proud about, but one thing that makes me smile is that I still walk about in dirty jeans. I am what I am. I have been spared a great deal of bother and nuisance, by skipping fashion (most of the time) and instead focusing on work, and skipping political correctness, and instead focusing on Truth.
The Truth is that we are not threatened by the melting of arctic ice. The Truth also is we would be better off if the sea-ice totally melted. If it melted, we might return to climatic periods described as “Optimums”. If the sea-ice utterly melted northern climates under “arctic regimes” might instead experience “maritime regimes”.
In terms of Greenland, replacing the current “arctic regime” with a “maritime regime” would have a huge benefit. Permafrost would fade away, so you could dig a grave, as the Vikings once did. You could raise fodder, and deliver midwinter water, to 100,000 sheep and goats and 2000 cattle, as the Vikings once did. On good summers you could grow barley for beer, as the Vikings once did.
But some assume such evidence must be erased, along with other proof the Medieval Warm Period was warmer. What perverse ideology can be so stupid? Why erase what actually happened? Why erase actual experience which provides science with data, and which then corrects our past mistakes and furthers our future’s thought?
Who would do this? It is at this point my sense of humor kicks in, and I remember the persons who felt it was so dreadfully important to dress in “mod” fashions in 1967. I always wondered how the minds of such people work. What are you telling yourself when you don a ridiculous polka-dot outfit? For that matter, what was Abraham Lincoln telling himself when he donned his stove-pipe hat? (I like to believe he was muttering curses under his breath, the way I did when my mother made me dress in a suit and go to dancing school, when I’d rather be fishing.)
And why did George Washington wear that silly wig? Oh…wait…..he didn’t wear a wig. That was his natural hair, (though he may have powdered it.) Wigs were for people who went prematurely bald, especially when they went bald as teenagers.
Why should you go bald at such an early age? It was a side-effect of a revenge Native Americans had upon Europeans. (No, not the addiction to tobacco.) The revenge was a sexually transmitted disease which Columbus (or his crew) brought back to Spain, and which swept through Europe as the worst epidemic since the Black Plague. To abruptly go bald (often in a patchy manner) as a teenager became a sign you had not been chaste, and to hide from the shame (made so blatant by the abrupt, patchy baldness), people wore wigs, if they could afford them. (Even a cheap wig cost a week’s wages), (but a side-effect was that wigs helped people avoid the annoyance of lice. They shaved what hair they had left, and if lice got in their wig they could just boil the wig. Problem solved). But, as wigs were expensive, they became status symbols, and the rich bought and wore amazingly tall and curly and flowing wigs, whereupon they were called “bigwigs”.
The irony is, of course, that wearing such a wig would not fool the wise, who would know you wore wear the hairpiece because you had been immoral and contracted a SID which might (before antibiotics) eventually rot your brain and cause tragic insanity.
But, to the simple, a bigwig is impressive. The wigs in the above painting may have costed more than a layman could make in half a year. (Isn’t it odd how people can turn hiding shame into a status symbol)?
In my humble opinion “Global Warming” is a sort of polka-dotted “bigwig” that silly people use to impress other silly people with. Alarmist dogma has little to do with virtue, just as contracting syphilis has little to do with virtue, but the dogma becomes a sort of “bigwig” that intellectually bald people use to hide their intellectual shame. In actual fact they may be as weakened and clipped as Samson was after Delilah was done with him, but, (by virtue signaling), the politically-correct state, “Look at me! I have more hair than Samson had, at his most mighty!”
I wonder if they think they are fooling themselves. After all, at some point men took off their “mod” suits, and they did not put those absurd outfits in the closet, and wait for such bizarre garb to come back into fashion. They threw the polka-dot suits into the rubbish, (or perhaps burned them), to destroy all evidence they had ever been so ridiculous.
In like manner Alarmists are backpedaling from their fashionable statements, regarding the Arctic being in a “Death-Spiral”.
One last-ditch effort to prove there was less ice, even when the “extent” increased, involved stating that, while the “extent” might have increased, the expanding ice was thinner and had become something they dubbed “rotten ice.” What mattered was suddenly not “extent”, but “volume”.
Of course measuring the “volume” was very difficult, and involved variables and margins-of-error much greater than measuring “extent”, (and indeed the best-science involving volume-measurement may be worse than the best-science is regarding what the weather will be ten days from now), but, for what it was worth, the “volume” graph was going down, even as the “extent” went flat and even rose slightly. “Volume” became the new talking-point, and the new proof the “Death-spiral” was ongoing.
But drat! Wouldn’t you just know it? Just as “Lake North Pole” vanished as soon as they got people looking at it, as soon as they got people looking at the “Volume” graph, it shot upwards last winter. Don’t you just hate it, when that happens?
I myself figured the sea-ice volume grew because last year a sort of “Wrong-way-flow” prevented sea-ice from being flushed south through Fram Strait in the more usual manner. At times these wrong-way winds even pushed the ordinarily-piled-up sea-ice away from Greenland’s north coast. ( Sensationalist Headline: “Open Water North Of Greenland Proves Sea-ice Is About To Vanish. Polar Bears Will Drown”). This year has seen the wrong-way winds quit, and lots of sea-ice has been flushed south through Fram Strait to cool the Atlantic. As such sea-ice melts its “volume” drops to zero, and is subtracted from the total, so I expected the “Volume” graph to fall. Surprisingly, it hasn’t (so far):
If you are actually interested in arctic sea-ice, the refusal of “volume” to diminish is a fascinating development. But if you are interested in promoting a “narrative” it is incredibly annoying. This is one heck of a way to run a “Death Spiral”.
In fact, where we formally saw an attempt to “erase the Medieval War Period”, we may now be seeing an attempt to “erase the Death Spiral”.
I can’t say I blame whosoever may be involved. It is darned embarrassing to be predicting a sort of end-to-the-World, (though I reiterate that I think an ice-free Arctic Ocean would be a good thing), but then to, year after year, have your prediction be proven wrong. It seems quite normal and natural to change the subject. In a way it seems like burning an old, “mod” suit with blaring polka dots. Some things are best forgotten.
The problem is, we are not talking about mere silly outfits people chose to wear. We are talking about trillions of tax-dollars, the sweat of hard-working taxpayers, and how such dollars are spent. Are they spent wisely, or are they wasted on polka-dots?
With funding for cameras, and crazy adventurers, and the Barneo blue-ice jetport, all mysteriously vanished, just about the only pictures of sea-ice I can observe come from postings on the small-town websites of little communities in Alaska and Canada, who sit by the sea and have to deal with sea-ice, as it clogs their harbors every winter. Often the ice can keep boats from bringing fresh groceries, and the local people must either hunker down and subsist on stored-up blubber and canned goods, or rely on icebreakers and airlifted goods.
On Labrador Island they rely on icebreakers and ferries with strengthened bows, but there were shortages last winter. There is always a struggle to get supplies across the Strait Of Belle Isle, due to sea-ice.
(First, I should note that, if the “Death Spiral” is real, that ice shouldn’t even be there. Last winter it was described as “the worst in thirty years”. But never mind that.)
Second, with all the advancements in technology, surely last winter should have seen more fresh vegetables than ever, out on the island.
The lady in the picture has been running her market forty years, and she stated last winter was the worst, in terms of getting fresh vegetables.
How is it possible that 40 years ago, way back in 1978, the Canadians who lived back then could do a better job delivering groceries than the modern generation of politically-correct idealists can do?
Attempting to poke into the details, I had to descend into the bizarre world of Canadian politics, which currently involves lots of polka-dots, and not much sanity. Apparently they replaced an old, tired, but adequate ferry called the “Apollo” with a ferry that butchers the English language with the ungrammatical name, “Qajaq”.
As a boy I learned it was very bad luck to ever use the letter “Q” without the letter “U” after it. (After all, look what happened to Iraq). (Also, if I wrote “Q” without “U”, I might be kept after school, which was very bad luck). No good could possibly come of naming a ship “Qajaq”, but for Canadians it has become very stylish to write “Q” without a “U”, as doing so is apparently a sort of virtue-signaling, indicative of “sensitivity” towards “indigenous peoples.” (I’m not sure how sensitive naming a ferry “Qajaq” actually is, for I think in Inuit “qajaq” is the plural of “qyaq”, which is a skinny little kayak; in any case, an odd name for a car-carrying ferry.)
Qajaq lived up to my superstitions. Even with the help of ice-breakers, it could not deliver the groceries, and for weeks couldn’t even leave port. The people who live out on the island, and the truck-drivers dependent on the ferry to earn their living, grew scornful of the politicians who had mismanaged. After around a month the coast guard used ice-breakers to barge a minimum of groceries out to Labrador Island, but the ships were not designed for cargo and many groceries froze solid and had to be returned.
I learned all sorts of bits about the Canadian government, eavesdropping in small town chat-rooms. Apparently a large amount of money was squandered on “cronies” who built a road to the ferry terminal, but not enough money was spent on the ferry itself. Also, although the politicians were very proud of the Qajaq, because it had only half the “carbon footprint” of the Apollo, the local people scornfully stated this goal was achieved only by having a puny engine, merely half as strong as Apollo’s, which meant that, even with a reinforced bow, that the Qajaq couldn’t push through sea-ice the Apollo had once shouldered through.
I bit my tongue, for it is not my place to butt into a neighbor’s business, but I did want to mention that their politicians seemed to spend far too much time being “sensitive” about naming their ships, and far too little time being “sensible” about shipping.
The way to avoid mismanagement is to hire sensible managers, and the way to be sensible is to take a hard look at facts. It is distinctly unhelpful to “erase” the facts, yet much political-correctness seems aimed at not-allowing certain facts to be faced. Certain subjects must not be broached, certain realities must be avoided, certain sleeping-dogs must not be disturbed even with a ten-foot-pole, until one is reduced to mincing about on eggs, more focused on polka-dots and big-wigs than what really matters. It is only then that politicians cease being helpful and begin to be hazards, more concerned with genuflecting than with making sure groceries are delivered. Even the most garrulous old store-owner knows there comes a time to “stop talking and to start stocking” (the shelves). When a politician can’t see this, and becomes more busy erasing things such as the Medieval Warm Period than with delivering the goods, then troubles arise. It is when shelves are empty that people tend to dust off an old Winston Churchill quote:
“The loyalties which center upon (the leader) are enormous. If he trips he must be sustained. If he makes mistakes they must be covered. If he sleeps he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good he must be pole-axed…”
This was what got Donald Trump elected. People were sick of mismanagement. The politically-correct were horrified, and attempted to pole-ax Trump even before he took office, which demonstrates they did not read the rest of the Churchill quote:
“…But this last extreme process cannot be carried out every day; and certainly not in the days after (the leader) has been chosen.”
The simple fact of the matter is that what matters is not polka-dots, nor how big your wig is, but how you manage the cards dealt out to you. There are people dealt nothing but deuces who amaze all with their success, and there are those who are dealt aces who fall flat on their faces. (Hmm. Might be a poem in that.)
Some people, though seemingly dealt only deuces, Become locomotives and never cabooses. Other elite ones are dealt only aces Yet traipse into trouble and fall on their faces.
It is true that a lot depends on your teammates; a fantastic soccer player will never be a winner if his goal-tender takes his eye off the ball to admire a blond babe in the stands; a great quarterback will have trouble completing a pass if his blockers are spineless and his coach is the moronic relative of a moronic owner. However some, even when dealt the worst hands, still manage to manage. There are ordinary people you meet every day who only manage to be ordinary by defying incredible odds. Conversely, there are pompous bigwigs who think their feces smell better than everyone else’s, utterly oblivious to an impending pole-ax.
The nice thing about a two-party system is that no actual pole-ax is involved. No guillotine is rolled out to chop off your head. There is no “Terror”, no Stalinist purges, no horrible Maoist “Cultural Revolution”, no “Night Of The Long Knives” where Hitler assassinated his best-friend Brown-Shirts although they had lifted him to power. Instead, in a two-party system, you are subjected to what the sports-world calls “being benched.” You are not kicked off the team, but you are told to go sit down and think about how you contributed to the fact the team lost the last game.
A problem arises when one wants so badly to have star-status they cannot abide even the thought of any sort of demotion. Their mother told them they were wonderful, and it hurts them tremendously when they find out they are merely ordinary. They received a trophy in school, (sometimes a “participation trophy” for doing nothing beyond showing up), and they expect life to give them another. They feel “entitled”, and feel they should be quarterback even if not gifted in that regard. Even if they are five-foot-two and can’t throw, they feel some “injustice” is involved if the best way they can help the team is to sell hot-dogs in the stands. They have lost the ability to see the facts a good manager sees, preferring to “erase” certain aspects of Truth, and to live in a rosy dream-world that can only remain rosy if reality doesn’t rear its head with ugly repercussions.
If one erases things such as the “Medieval Warm Period”, one eventually winds up with a so-called “false narrative” one is dependent upon, and then one becomes overly focused on things such as naming a boat, or “carbon emissions”, and the repercussions are empty shelves. Karma then tends to be ruthless. What goes around comes around.
In a way it is amusing, for often a reason some get sidetracked is because they feel “life isn’t fair”, and then, after their sidetrack leads them deep into a forest of buffoonery involving polka-dots and big-wigs and other forms of virtue-signaling political-correctness, they become extremely indignant when it turns out life is fair, after all.
It is difficult to explain the unfairness of life, for God’s Creation involves a vast, intricate complexity beyond the capacity of the human psyche to completely comprehend. Why are some born rich and some born poor, some born beautiful and some born ugly, some born sharp and some born dull? Is it due to the Karma of past lives? Is it due to evil White Men exploiting? Is it due to carbon emissions? Is it due to eating too much beef and not enough kale? Or is it merely a given in life, called “troubles?”
Having spent most of my life attempting to avoid trouble but getting into plenty, I tend to feel troubles are part of life, (and that, in fact, life would be boring without them).
If anyone was going to successfully avoid trouble, I would think it would be a man with super-powers, who could walk on water, and raise the dead, and give sight to the blind, such as Jesus is believed by some to have been. But even Jesus didn’t seem to avoid trouble, nor promise his followers an easy road: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This is not to say that some elements of truthfully facing-trouble don’t defy basic mathematics:
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.“Truly I tell you,”he said,“this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”
To people only focused on the mathematics of money, and not the entirety of Truth, this statement made by Jesus is illogical. Their minds, in over-focusing on money, have “erased” other things that matter.
I seem to see, in history, a rising and falling of people nearly as predictable as the rising and falling of tides. Initially people focus on Truth in its vast and incomprehensible entirety, and are made swiftly aware of their inabilities and mistakes, but are equally swift to respond to Truth’s corrections. People call Truth inanimate, but Truth does give people a swift boot in the posterior if they neglect to factor-in certain elements. Call it “Divine Intervention” or call it “Murphy’s Law”, Truth is swift to correct and discipline those people humble enough to admit their mistakes, and who eagerly learn from them. Because they are swift to learn they rise on a tide of Truth, and often gain prosperity, popularity, and power.
But then the rot sets in. People enjoy prosperity, popularity and power, and these three things are seen as being worthwhile in and of themselves, even to the point where Truth slips from the center of people’s attention. The “erasure” is slight at first, but the addiction is insidious, and slowly makes inroads upon the initial, steadfast focus on Truth. The tide is falling, though the people heading down often think they are richer, more famous, and more powerful than ever. Towards the end they become the butts of jokes, utterly focused on polka-dots and big-wigs, and amazingly blind to the Truth that brought about prosperity, popularity and power in the first place. This downfall is described by some as “being given to sin.”
This realization has been an unexpected side-effect of studying sea-ice. It has occurred because one cannot talk about what the sea-ice is actually doing, in actual terms, without at some point treading upon the vast and duck-like flat-feet of Alarmists, and being exposed to the sputtering bombast of their wrath.
(Pause, if you will, and reflect back upon the painting of the pompous “bigwigs” I portrayed earlier in this post. Better yet, go back and look at the picture, and imagine telling those gentlemen about the real reason they wore their wigs. Do you think they’d be nice, hearing your words?)
In other words, even if you want to talk about sea-ice and sea-ice alone, there are individuals who change the subject. They seem to prefer to distract one’s focus away from the Truth about sea-ice, and instead towards their personal ire. Their logic smells of red herrings. They don’t want Truth to be the center of attention, preferring that they themselves be the center. Have pity on them. They are very needy fellows, because they need help.
As interested as I am in sea-ice, I feel Alarmist’s cries for help must be respected. That is why I go on such long side-tracks, attempting to explain the antics of my fellow man, when sea-ice is often more interesting. To walk heedlessly past a person dressed in polka-dots and big-wigs, when they are crying out for help, is in some ways like walking past a person sinking in quicksand.
Of course, they are unaware they are crying out for help. Part of their derangement is that they think I am treading on their vast toes. Which is why solving their silly problem is taking so much longer than it should.
It is a pity Alarmists are so needy and require so much pampering, because there is actually some interesting stuff going on at the Pole. With the “Death Spiral” now a dogma undergoing what seems to require an erasure much like the “Medieval Warm Period’s”, there are far fewer pictures to look at, so we aren’t able to closely examine the changes we dimly see in other data.
What are the changes?
There was a shift in weather patterns that led to fewer charges of Atlantic air north over the Pole, especially in Fram Strait. But on the Pacific side there was a push of sea-ice north through Being Strait. If I had time I’d love to study this shifting pattern in greater detail, (rather than deal with the denials of those who, for over a decade, have called me “a denier. “)
The air was a little milder than normal over the Pole, when compared against thirty-year-norms, last winter, yet it was far colder than most recent winters.
Notice how the red line actually dipped below the green line twice during the depth of winter, which hasn’t happened since 2015. Also the “peaks” above normal were far more modest. Compare the warm surges last winter (above) with the warm surges the prior winter (below).
If you add up the area of the space between the red lines and green lines you get a rough estimate of the amount of chill the sea-ice was exposed to, which can allow you to make a guess at how much thicker the ice got. However the milder air also tends to lead to more snow, which further insulates the ice from chill, and may further decrease the thickness of the ice. Therefore, because last winter had colder temperatures, and likely less snow, the ice may have thickened more, which may partially explain the failure of volume to decrease, despite more sea-ice being exported south through Fram Strait.
However less snow may have a contrary effect, now that the sun has risen north of the Arctic Circle. The snow has the ability, due to its high albedo, to delay the melting. Less-deep snow may mean an earlier start to the formation of melt-water pools. (And here is where cameras would be such a help.)
Despite the fact temperatures (and likely humidity) have been above normal during recent winters, this has changed, year after year, during the month of May. Often May has seen the first below-normal temperatures in many months, and quite often temperatures have remained more often below-normal than above-normal through much of the following summer. I’ll be interested to see if it happens again this year.
The fact summer temperatures are below-normal tends to suggest the sunshine is weaker. The so-called “Quiet Sun” may be showing its effect. Oddly, the “Quiet Sun” may also be showing its effect even when it doesn’t shine at the Pole, during the winter, and may be causing the warmer winters at the Pole.
This is utterly contrary to ordinary thought. How could a weaker sun make it warmer?
Warming might happen because the sun’s energy does not merely manifest in a way measured by thermometers, but also as energy measured by anemometers. A weaker sun might lead to weaker winds. If those weaker winds happened to be Trade Winds, the result would be less up-welling of cold waters to the west of continents down towards the equator. Less cold water at the equator would allow there to be more warm water (an El Nino rather than a La Nina), and this leads to warmer and more-moist air heading north to the Pole.
The arctic is in many respects a desert, with air that is very cold and very dry. The introduction of even a slight amount of moisture can have a huge effect in terms of temperature. The same amount of evaporated moisture which would result in a very small temperature rise at the equator, (and might even lower temperatures if a thunderstorm resulted), can result in a spike of winter temperatures at the Pole of over twenty degrees, (still below freezing). It is therefore wrong to give arctic temperatures the same “weight” as tropical temperatures.
In fact, if you give arctic temperatures the same “weight” as tropical temperatures, and created an “average” between the two, you might even create a statistical error, wherein the increase at the Pole would have the effect of “masking” a growing decrease elsewhere. A slight amount of mere moisture, at the Pole, could consequently corrupt the “Global Average Temperature”, which some politicians place so much importance upon.
I wish I had time to continue. I have only brought up two lovely variables which thermometers don’t measure, namely Trade Winds and humidity at the Pole. Truth is far more complex and beautiful, and includes far more subtlety than temperature, humidity and wind-speed. It is for the best, if we wish to be good stewards of the gift we call “our planet”, to remain humble, concerning our relationship with Truth. We must be constantly ready to be corrected.
The alternative seems to me to be an arrogant refusal to accept correction, and a behavior which seems basically adolescent. It seems but an immature, audacious certainty that “the science is settled”, and that Truth has nothing more it can teach us. It is the ossified enunciation of paralyzed thinking, addicted to polka-dots and enamored of big-wigs, and the great irony is that, in seeking to avoid correction, it invites more and greater corrections. In the end such Alarmism is simply a way of cruising for a bruising.
One impulse I’ve often been embarrassed by in my life has been the urge to pop victims right in the snoot. This is especially embarrassing because I strive to be a spiritual person. But one time, when young, I was saying peace and love were desirable, and another person sneered I only said that because I was a gutless wimp who couldn’t fight. So I punched him. It shamed me because my reaction was so obviously not peaceful and not loving.
Victims tend to especially draw this out of me when they become militant. Even when I start out sympathetic they lose my sympathy. For example, when I lived in New Mexico I was friends with many Latinos and was in sympathy, but La Raza does not touch my heart with warm feelings of love.
The problem with getting mad about being a victim is that it can make people react in a way that victimizes you and perpetuates your victim-hood. If La Raza starts a war there will indeed be victims, rather than an end to victimization. If they “win” the war then they will merely move from being the oppressed to being the oppressor. Then a new people can get mad about being a victim.
It can be very hard to remain calm. For example, when people in Europe were attempting to have a debate titled, “Blasphemy – crime or freedom of expression,” some militant feminists decided to debate in a way all their own.
The priest did rather well, quietly praying as the ladies doused him with water and raged, and then, after “security” had ushered the women out, (when the priest noticed the water bottles were in the shape of the Virgin Mary), picking a bottle off the floor and kissing it.
I’m not sure I would have done so well. I can’t say how I might have reacted. Attempted to give the girls a spanking? Gotten beat up? It probably would have been a shambles.
I tend to avoid rallies and crowds, as I am too easily provoked. And it has become clear that some are out to provoke. Even in Berkeley, once a center of free speech, Antifa appeared to use fascist techniques in what it claimed was anti-fascism.
One starts to wonder exactly who is the victim and who is doing the victimizing.
Some claim it would be good to “bring things to a head” and that they want “blood in the streets”, but to me it seems anti-American to destroy our ability to discuss differences in a sane and civil manner. I am starting to really be touched by any group which includes many races and nationalities, cooperating and harmonizing, because it defies the entire separative ideology that at times it seems the media supports, and desires to make rampant.
How can I say the media supports such a thing? Because the media has sought so hard to preserve its status as “the voice of freedom” that it blackballs other voices, attempting to make people who are not fascists appear to be fascists. For example, an effort was made to never show any pictures of Blacks, Latinos, or Asians supporting President Trump. A more honest press would have felt more free to report the diversity of America’s views. Here are some minsters meeting the President (which got little press):
What I see is two forces at work in America. The powers of division, and the powers of unity. The powers of hate, and the powers of love. If we are divided we will fall. If we remain united we will stand. If we are victims, we are victims of our own separative exclusiveness.
Only one thing can save us, and that is the Personification of Love.
One small child has the weight of an army If God is in all, for in that small one Is the same pure, stunning Infinity Marching hoards are led by. The same warm sun Shines on and out-of rich and poor alike. The widow’s farthing means more than Miser’s million When Love prompts her; for pride is a dike Holding refreshment from sands parched by a sun Which wants to be kind but must be cruel Without water. If you compare your lot With others, and sneer and resent, Poor Fool, You are missing what you’ve already got, For God’s in all, and you don’t have to wait. See that and your aching will evaporate.
One of the best Easters I ever enjoyed had nothing to do with the real Sacrifice the holiday is all about. It was 1969, and I was sixteen, and had an intuitive interest in the Almighty, but no interest whatsoever in church. Church, in my eyes, was a ridiculous waste of time. School was a stifling of my spirit for five days a week, and to accept any further stifling during the scarce two days I had free each week (Saturday and Sunday) seemed a stupid suggestion. Fortunately I was a Unitarian, and one good thing about being a Unitarian was that we didn’t have to go to church unless we felt like it, which, as I recall, amounted to a total of ten times, by the time I was sixteen. (I wish my parents were alive, so I could ask them what prompted them to go to church those ten times. It was an odd thing to do, and I recall being somewhat awed by the weirdness of it all).
In any case, I not only had no idea of who Jesus was, or what Easter celebrated, but also I had no idea of the deep thought behind Unitarianism, (which tends to be skeptical and scientific and to doubt miracles are real ). Unitarians failed to educate their youth, in my case, I suppose. The result was I enjoyed a permissiveness and lack of discipline that left me free as a bird.
But, because my brain is bigger than a bird’s, I did a lot of wondering. In school this was a problem and was seen as a failure to pay attention to the blackboard. I daydreamed a lot, knew such thinking was illegal, and became an artful dodger, when it came to avoiding drawing attention to myself. Self-promotion was not a thing I desired, and if I had any talent in that regard it atrophied like an unused muscle, because my main aim in school was to escape punishment by going unnoticed.
My thoughts existed in a sort of Underground. There were a few mean and repressive people in my childhood who I suppose I could blame for stunting my growth, but still it seems odd to me that I was so reclusive. For the most part my life was good, but still I withdrew as if Nazis might come down on me, if I thought out loud. Due to this fearful reaction, (and fear must have been involved, to keep a blabbermouth like myself so silent), I became, at a young age, very aware of what a wasteland the mind can be, without the introduction of ideas outside of your own capacity to “think-up”.
Sometimes my daydreaming would leave me totally dissatisfied. Although I did delight in staying in bed late on Saturday and Sunday mornings, enjoying my slumbering thoughts, by noon the thoughts were becoming irksome. I had to get up. I had to get out. I had to find some other minds.
To some degree I could find the other minds in books. But even books grew irksome after a while, and then I was confronted by the fact I chronically avoided involvement in school. I had few friends. I was the youngest in my grade, in some cases by more than a year, which in some cases put me at a great disadvantage, but in one case was a great blessing.
The blessing occurred because I remained a boy as my classmates became adolescents. This was painfully obvious in the showers after “Gym” class, where I could see I had no pubic hair and nearly everyone else did. It was also obvious at school dances, where I was usually a foot shorter than the girls. This resulted in some situations that seemed tragic at the time, but seem funny to me now. If I digress into the details I will write a short novel, but you should be asking yourself, “How could such a situation be a blessing?”
It was a blessing because I could witness what idiots my peers were becoming as the hormones hit, when I was still free of such madness. It altered my mind, so that when the hormones finally did hit me, only a year later, I rocketed off in a direction all my own.
Only a few years later I was six feet tall, and the fellows who had bullied me backed off. I was still a dreamer, but a big one. I still liked to sleep late, but also was propelled by a strange desire to escape my home town, and escape the school where both teachers and peers didn’t think much of me. One form of escape was to hitchhike.
I should underscore how much safer hitchhiking was back then. Not that I didn’t meet a few perverts, but perverts were far politer back then. Once you explained you were not interested in their particular perversion, they’d be very understanding. I’d apologize for not being perverted and they’d apologize for asking if I was, and they’d drop me off at the place where I wanted. Except, in a few cases, we had to sit together for a while longer, before I got dropped off, and there were awkward silences. I never liked awkward silences, so I’d get an interesting conversation going about perversion, before I got dropped off.
In 1967 I began hitchhiking home from school, and the rides were short and the talks brief, mostly with suburban fathers on their way home from work. But some of the same fathers picked me up over and over. But I wanted adventure, and in 1968 I ventured farther afield, down to Cape Cod and out to Nantucket, and then from a friend’s summerhouse on Mohegan Island in Maine to a family gathering east of Toronto, spending a night in the YMCA in Montreal on the way. I was fifteen years old.
Let me repeat that. I was fifteen years old. That is how safe the world was, back then. I kept careful records of my adventures, and in my diary noted every ride, and what I observed in the kind people who picked me up. I was not a dirty hippy at that time, but a smooth-faced youth with short hair and idealistic eyes. Families driving loaded station-wagons full of children would swerve to the side of interstate highways to pick me up, so I must have looked wholesome and innocent. I did my best to totally charm my benefactors, and I seldom waited long for a ride.
One ironic event was that I got picked up by a reporter for a small town newspaper just as it was getting dark, and, (after he asked his wife permission, and she (and two small children) scanned me from head to toe), I was allowed to sleep on his screened-in front porch. I wrote about him in my diary even as he wrote about me at his typewriter. Because I was quite close to the place in Ontario where the family-gathering I was heading-towards was held, his article was seen and clipped from a paper by a family friend, and I actually eventually had a copy sent to me. What is ironic was that he seemed to envy me for being on an adventure, even as I envied him for having a woman who loved him, (and for getting paid for his writing).
When I got back home there were no articles in my hometown paper admiring and envying me. I was back to being just a nerd in a school of snobs. I loathed school more than ever, but God was kind, as 1968 turned into 1969. That winter saw stupendous snowstorms in February which, along with the February vacation, meant that I only had to go to school something like four days the entire month.
March brought the ordinary routine back, and I swiftly was very sick of it. I wanted to stay in bed and not deal with how shrunken and humiliated high-school made me feel, but rampaging hormones made me also want to flee. I had developed a new habit of impulsively blurting stuff, turning from an introvert into a braggart, and, even though I was (mostly) a quiet introvert at school, when I arrived home I talked big. One afternoon I stated I had to write a Social Studies report (untrue) about “researching America”, (untrue), so I was going to hitchhike down to my grandparents in Florida in order to “gather interviews”. (Largely bullshit; I actually planned to spend Easter Vacation sleeping late.)
My home-life was chaos at that point, as my mother had remarried an old, rich Harvard Law School professor the prior May, and the poor fellow, nearly seventy, got hit by such terrible disrespect, (I am one of six children), that he had a heart attack. I felt slightly guilty as he recovered, though I confess I continued to refer to him as “The fossil”. I just figured he was an old sleaze-bag and my mother was a money-grubber willing to degrade herself and become a “trophy wife”, which may explain part of my desire to leave town, but the old geezer surprised me by actually seeming to care about me. How he survived that first year I’ll never know, but when he died nine years later I knew I’d lost one of those rare friends you don’t deserve, but who sometimes unexpectedly appear in your life right out of the blue.
In any case, I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously when I said I would hitchhike to my grandparents in Florida, in order to get good grades. It was only one idea out of a whole lot of other ideas I blurted out, when I got home from school. I probably also said I’d get to the moon before both the Americans and Russians. It shocked my socks off when my stepfather thought it was a good idea.
In 1969 Easter occurred on April 6, days before “Easter Vacation” actually started. There was no attempt on my stepfather’s part to subject me to church, but he did subject me to some tradition of his own, some egg-hunt his family always held, and which now involved his grandchildren and not his children. I was annoyed, as it was beneath my sixteen-year-old dignity to hunt eggs. How dare this fossil (who was saving my family from poverty) ask me to attend a stupid egg hunt? Did this silly business of hunting eggs end the Vietnam War? Did it end poverty in the inner cities? With the sneering scorn only a sixteen-year-old virgin can glower, I did attend the egg hunt, but I was not helpful.
As I stood disapproving of children hunting Easter eggs, I could not help but eavesdrop on what the “grownups” were discussing. I was taken aback when one topic was “my trip to Florida”. One grownup was saying, “But what if the police think he is running away from home?” My stepfather stated, “My stepson will produce proof of my permission, with a permission slip, written on Harvard Law School stationary.”
To be honest, my response was to silently think, “Oh, shit”.
It is one thing to just blather on and on about political manure, but quite another when you actually have to shovel the shit.
One part of my sixteen-year-old diary makes me chuckle. It admits what I really wanted to do over Easter Vacation was to sleep late, and wonders why on earth I was getting up early the next day to hitchhike to Florida.
I am so glad I did it. It opened my eyes to the sort of Americans who care enough to pull over for a sixteen-year-old kid hanging his thumb out on the side of a highway. All I can say now, a full fifty later, is, “God bless them, bless them, and bless them again.”
It took me some three days and thirty rides to get from Massachusetts to Florida. For some bizarre reason I calculated my miles-per-hour, as a hitchhiker, and it was nearly sixty mph the first day. But back in 1969 Interstate 95 quit in the Carolina’s, and a hitchhiker had to go slower, hitchhiking smaller highways through swamps where Spanish Moss hung from every branch of every tree, and sharecroppers still plowed fields with mules.
My grandmother very much wanted to see my Social Studies report after I wrote it, which was very embarrassing because I’d made the “assignment” up, as an excuse for my wanderlust. She kept asking to see it, even years later. Now I am thinking perhaps I’ll write it, fifty years later. I still have the old diary, with every ride carefully listed.
I have one paragraph completed in my head, a sort of statement I’ve spoken so many times that my kids roll their eyes slightly when they hear me again becoming garrulous. I just say how kind all the people were, and how they advised me to be wary of other people who might be dangerous. I say, “Northerners told me to watch out for southerners, and southerners told me to watch out for northerners. Whites told me to watch out for blacks and blacks told me to watch out for whites. Absolutely everyone told me to watch out for the Georgia police, and the Georgia police told me to watch out for absolutely everyone. And everyone was beautiful and kind.”
Something odd was occurring in 1969 that many recall. It was called “The Summer Of Love”, which seems a bit odd considering there were anti-war riots and drug overdoses and bad trips, and over the years I’ve heard many do their best to belittle the rare mood which flavored pretty much everything. But no amount of denial can completely erase how special it was, even though it is nearly impossible to describe.
In the Bible there is something called a “Jubilee” that occurs every fifty years or so, where all your debts are forgiven. In Hinduism there is something called a “Darshan” where God or a saint reveals divinity to the ignorant and undeserving. Something along those lines occurred in 1969. In the strangest manner I could see God in every person I met. I got a glimpse how beautiful this world could be.
How far we have fallen. I can sink into a dismal mood nowadays, where it seems everyone is whining, and claiming they are a victim, and blaming everyone else. Rather than God I see a jerk in everyone. I yearn to go back to 1969, when everyone shone with a beautiful light.
Another year’s under my belly’s belt And another spring startles with warm wind. I wonder if I’ll feel as I once felt, Or did last winter make me so thick-skinned That I can’t smile. Bitter men own logic That pounds its points with harsh effectiveness Even through healing palms. And so sly, so slick Is this sick debate that one avoids the mess By washing ones hands. Why try? And why get Mixed up with the doomed? I don’t even want To turn on my radio. No saint breaks a sweat Striving, for it’s easier to taunt, Yet my heart knows Christ saved fools who had sinned, And it’s then spring startles with warm, washing wind.
I fell into a sort of sulk last November, due to shrill Democrats winning the House of Representatives here in the United States, and also because I became aware my blog was being censored in certain search-engines due to the fact I am a “Denier”, regarding Global Warming. I felt a divisive and even fascist power was arising and oddly accusing everyone else of being fascist. It felt totally different from 1969, when people sung, “everyone is beautiful, in their own way.” I just wanted to turn away from it all, but that just made me feel marginalized and alone.
It was then I discovered the #WalkAway videos on YouTube. Apparently I was not the only one who felt as I felt. Although the videos are political, (in that they are people who are “walking away” from the Democrat party), they also had the feel of a support-group, wherein one becomes aware one is not alone. It is a relief to see others feel the way you feel, even when they are from very different backgrounds, of different religions and nationalities and age-groups. Men and woman, whites and blacks and Asians and Latinos, young and old, all disliked the division. None liked being told they should hate fellow Americans. All preferred a unity, and felt “all men are created equal”.
It gave me the strange feeling I was sixteen and hitchhiking again, and a stranger’s car had stopped to pick me up, and that for a short while I sat beside a new and interesting friend.
Psychobabble often operates using the premise that, under a thin veneer of civilization, we humans are all savage brutes: We are nothing but easily enraged gorillas controlled by animal appetites. This low opinion of humanity is quite contrary to the concept that God is in everyone. It also runs counter to the observation that small, cheerful children, while selfish, and while at times devious and dishonest when asked simple questions, are very honest about their frustration when desires are thwarted. Yet children are also quick to accept limits when such limits are presented as inflexible, and, after the initial tantrum, quite cheerfully adapt to such limits. Small children swear to hate you forever at nine o’clock, yet walk holding your hand five minutes later. It takes persistent lack of love, either blunt trauma or else cold neglect of some sort (including sparing the “rod”), to truly spoil a child. Even then God still lies within them, albeit God buried very deeply, in some cases.
Which returns me to the subject of Stalin, who, after coming to power, is purported to have asked his elderly mother, “Why did you beat me so hard?” to which she supposedly responded, “That is why you turned out so well.” His lack of compassion is legendary, and is often taken as a proof God does not exist in everyone, and even that God does not exist at all. To Stalin are attributed some amazingly chilling statements, including, “The death of one is a tragedy; the death of a million is a statistic” (called by Wikipedia a misattribution, but reported by both Churchill’s aid and Churchill’s daughter, albeit placed on differing occasions.) Most chilling of all (to me) is a statement of Stalin’s cold scorn of thanksgiving, “Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.”
The very existence of such a hard-bitten and cruel man is a standing challenge to everything I have been claiming about the power of Truth. Stalin would likely deem me a naive chump, and he did wonder about the sanity of the English political system. In fact Churchill reported that Stalin inquired, during a moment of blunt honesty, why on earth the English put up with a troublemaker like Gandhi in their colony of India; why didn’t they just have Gandhi “liquidated?” Churchill states that he replied to Stalin in some lordly manner, such as, “That is not how the English conduct business”, but Churchill didn’t seem to properly pursue the matter, and explain to Stalin why bumping people off when they disagree with you is a bad idea. I feel this is a great pity, for Churchill seemed to glimpse what made the British Empire last so much longer than Hitler’s Third Reich or the Soviet Union. (It involves respecting those you oppose, and the wealthy respecting their servants, and basically attempts to enact the mystical, spiritual premise that you are expanding your consciousness when you love your enemies.) (Where in other lands an Untouchable could never aspire to be a Brahman, England somehow allowed a boatswain like Francis Drake to become an admiral and National Hero.) However when I have asked Englishmen what gave them their power, rather than speaking of meritocracy they seem to have little idea, and simply sing “The English Are Best.”
In some ways I think the only reason the English Empire lost its grip on power was because they forgot what made them great. While I have remarked earlier that the English king Edward VIII favored fascism, it should be noted that his grandfather, Edward VII, while touring India, stated, “Because a man has a black face and a different religion from our own, there is no reason why he should be treated as a brute,” and that his criticism actually resulted in a high ranking official in India being replaced. Mind you, the official was not “purged”. He was merely subjected to critical analysis, and then a decision was made. Such genteel politics was something Stalin could not comprehend.
If I had lived in Russia during Stalin’s time, I do not doubt my life expectancy would have been very limited. But, because I truly believe that one should love their enemy, I have felt compelled to lovingly inquire of communists, (who are so obviously deeply dedicated to their ideas), what exactly they see as beautiful and poetic about their dogma. After all, when one states “The ends justify the means,” and “the means” involve some drastic, ugly and basically inhumane deeds, the “ends” must be some wonderful thing. So I asked a simple question, to understand my enemy. What exactly were the “ends”? What was the heaven-on-earth communism strove to make real?
Allow me to attempt explain the mad faith of communism, as I understand it. It revolves around the concept that, if you can destroy a certain sort of “capital”, you will see the dawn of a newer and better way. Unlike ordinary revolution, which involves the oppressed “Have-nots” becoming furious at the “Haves”, (when the “Haves” become especially ungrateful and oppressive to their own employees), communism seeks to solve all problems (and end all revolutions), by removing all “Haves” forever. “Haves” are theoretically to be removed irregardless of whether they are ungrateful or are grateful, and irregardless of whether they oppressively exploit or kindly assist their employees. The communist concept seems to be that, if nobody is a “Have”, everyone will be happy. If no one is a “Have”, the ugliness of greed will vanish from the human experience.
Elementary spirituality tends to agree generosity is superior to greed, and generosity leads to a more loving society. But what “means” shall reform society? I feel that the conversion to a “better way” involves persuasion rather than coercion; one is moved because one is touched; a poem works better than a club; you cannot legislate spirituality. Communists beg to differ. They feel we are midst a sort of social evolution, moving from serfdom through capitalism to communism, and that by forcibly removing vestiges of the “old” we will arrive at the “new”. Society as a whole must undergo a sort of boot camp, wherein a sort of drill sergeant kicks everyone into shape.
I feel I need to look at two major concepts when I hear this idea. The first is the concept of “social evolution” and the second is the concept of “boot camp.”
The concept of “social evolution” is debatable, as I personally like the old-fashioned farms more than modern agribusiness. I see much good in the past, and glimpse beautiful things in the rear-view-mirror which it seems sad that we left behind. But there also has been progress, and much good exists in the present. Rather than calling society “evolving” I think it is likely better to call it “ongoing”. Society shifts its position like a sleeping person in a bed, seeking comfort first one way and then another way. No particular position is more “evolved” than another.
To fully discuss “social evolution” would involve discussing each step: The good and bad of the medieval manors with serfs; the good and bad of capitalistic factories with sweating workers; and the good and bad of communism’s attempts to create so-called “collectives”. For the time being I’ll put those discussions aside, and focus on the concept of a “boot camp”, that will jerk society up by its bootstraps to achieve a better way.
I see two immediate problems with this boot-camp concept. The first is that, as every soldier knows, boot camp’s discipline may whip one into shape, but it tends to be followed by a “leave” wherein one cuts loose, and is far less disciplined, and may to a degree “backslide” and do the exact sort of things that gets one “out-of-shape”. (In fact some addicts go through “detox” and “rehab” merely to get back-in-shape, so they can better enjoy the next binge.) But when a person truly changes, it involves a change of heart, more than being a matter of will.
The second problem is that (I believe) people do not excel because of greed. People excel because they are gifted. This is a huge distinction. Why? Because, if it is true a person does well because they are gifted, then when they succeed they are being generous and sharing their gift. Their success is not being greedy at all. Often, when sharing their gift, they are happily expressing themselves, and become absorbed and engrossed in the process of giving, and are quite self-forgetful, which is very different from being selfish.
When one fails to credit humanity with having this good side, one becomes too focused on what is low; it is like stating lust and only lust is the reason men and women marry. To say greed and only greed is the reason some are successful and become “Haves” is a denial of the Truth of gifted people, which is a denial of That which is lovely. And to then say that the byproduct of giving your gift, (which sometimes [but not always] includes wealth), is a byproduct that automatically make you a bad person, is unequivocally nuts.
But some ( perhaps enviously) say being gifted is evil. Why? Because, if your gift is song, and you sing well, you gain some form of applause, and some call this applause a form of “capital”, or “means of production”, which is a bad thing, in their eyes. If you sing well and people applaud you have gained “capital” and are a capitalist, and to be a capitalist is a step backwards in social evolution. Or so I understand one of the foundational premises of communism to be.
In a sense communism shames people for excelling. Doing so is as silly as scolding Mozart for making music, only the absurdity is less obvious when, rather than a non-physical thing like music, it involves the production of physical grain. (This involves me, as a small farmer of sorts.) Farming is hard work. To me, scolding a successful producer seems more like envy on the part of the critic, than greed on the part of the criticized producer.
I consider myself a successful farmer, for I figured out a way how to wrestle a living from hardscrabble dirt that hadn’t produced a profit since the 1950’s. Not that I made much money raising food; rather I turned the farm into a farm-Childcare, and raised children, while also raising crops and livestock, using my unprofitable farm to show children how things grow. However, because my farm, (without the Childcare), was not profitable, even when I worked my butt off to make it succeed and produce a profit, I demonstrated I do know a thing or two about how very hard it is to produce a bumper crop. (At best I’ve paid for the seeds and tools, and fed the labor, but lacked the money for property taxes.) I’ve been made painfully aware how often things go wrong, and that farming doesn’t involve much greed, (unless one includes being a glutton for punishment.)
Instead of greed it seems (to me) that farming involves a love of the land; not land in general, but a love of a particular plot of land one is in a sense married to. In my case it is a hardscrabble plot, but I wouldn’t trade it for better land. It is more than mere land. It is my homeland, just as my wife is “my” wife. It might make a sort of sense to the heartless, if I traded my wife in, for some ignorant, young and physically gorgeous floozy, and it might make sense to the hardhearted to call my love of a plot of hardscrabble dirt, and my refusal to abandon it, an example of my “greed” and “possessiveness.” To me this simply demonstrates that the hardhearted do not understand love.
The Bible is quite clear about greed being a bad thing and generosity being better, and some even state the first Christians were the first communists, for the Book of Acts describes how the first Christians shared every iota of their personal property to help the community as a whole. Some go so far as to state that the first “purge” involved Ananias and Sapphira, who only pretended to share their all, but kept a little “capital” back for themselves, and were instantly shocked dead for lying to God. However communists don’t believe in God, and can’t fully understand the electric “Spirit” that joined the early believers and made them “one in heart and mind” and able to perform some amazing (and, to communists, unbelievable) deeds.
Nor did the first Christians seem to lose ownership of their possessions; they simply did not call things “their own” selfishly, and freely shared what they “owned”. The concept of “ownership”, and of rewards for hard work, was never disparaged to the degree communism disparages. Saint Paul stated, “If you don’t work you don’t eat”, which seems very greedy and unfair to some young socialists, as it allows the unemployed to go hungry, (yet ambiguously Christianity feeds the hungry, but only after they “reap” the hunger they “sow”). Jesus himself seems to suggest “ownership” has value, when he states the hired man will run away when a wolf threatens the sheep, but the shepherd will lay his life down for his sheep. Why? It involves the mystery of love. When one truly loves another, one “owns” them in a way that greed cannot comprehend.
This somewhat simple reality concerning the power of love is never more obvious than among small farmers. Back when farming was more common (before farming became agribusiness) it was quite clear that hard work pays off, whereas laziness gets you in trouble. If two farmers lived side by side, on equally rich land, the hard-working farmer would wind up with more cows than the lazy farmer. However having six fat cows when your neighbor has only two skinny cows is a very evil thing, according to communist dogma, because the six cows are “capital”. “Capital” is a bad word, among communists. The six cows are “accumulated wealth”, and “means of production” and divorce you from the ordinary “proletariat”, and make you a member of the “petite bourgeois”. You need to be “reeducated” so that you can confess your success has nothing to do with really caring. The six cows should be forcibly taken from you and “shared”. Wealth should be “collective.” Once society removes rich and selfish farmers (like you) from the equation, the Age Of Greedy Capitalism will end, and a glorious new age will dawn.
I explain this to show you I have listened, while loving my enemy, and do comprehend the heaven-on-earth communists envision. It is poppycock, but I understand it. However I know why it will never work, because I have been a lazy farmer, in my time. Such things happen, when you don’t weed because you want to write a poem. Poets face a choice: If they weed they may be a good farmer but their poetry suffers, but if they write poetry they earn a crop of weeds. (It is no coincidence that good poets often go hungry.)
I liked the example of Robert Frost, who was a poet and also a farmer (for a while), and seems proof one can do both things. One thing I have attempted to do in my life is to show that a poet doesn’t need to be a hapless and useless drone, incapable of raising crops or children. This involves a precarious balance between weeding and writing. It involves spending a lot of time being very defensive about how weedy your garden is, while at the same time having to defend yourself from other poets, who ask you why the heck you even bother with a garden (or family). Looking back, the struggle has been great fun; life would have been a drag if I hadn’t made it so difficult. Also it had an unexpected benefit: I know communism preaches poppycock, because I have made a scientific study of the absolute minimum of hard work you can get away with, and still grow broccoli.
It seems fairly obvious that if you punish society’s hard workers you will wind up with lazy workers, and fewer fat cows, and perhaps only skinny cows. If society punishes more successful farmers then society will end up promoting less successful farmers, and might even experience a scarcity of food. Yet, when communism was first being tried out, as an experiment, people who believed it would have glorious results had a mad faith that all that was needed, to end poverty, was to punish the successful. This faith seems to have been just as unshakable as the faith of Christians facing lions, but makes even the most irrational Christian seem sane. Where Saint Paul stated, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”, communism stated that if you became an “activist”, busily dispossessing the hard-working farmers who succeeded, (never farming yourself because you were too busy with your “activism” to actually act), the poor would not go hungry.
How this played out under Stalin was a nightmare that in some ways makes Hitler look tame. It was the Russian equivalent of Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”, and equally disastrous, and was a slight degree worse than Hitler because it didn’t hate a “differing” religion or nationality, but fostered hate and division between farmers of the “same” religion and nationality, in the same town, driving a wedge between farmers who were poor and farmers who were slightly better off, (but by no means rich). Where Hitler promoted hating “foreigners”, Stalin promoted hating neighbors, and even brothers.
The result was that the hard-working and successful farmers, (called “Kulaks”), were “liquidated”, and, rather than prosperity, famine was the consequence, (perhaps predictably.)
Before I go into the details of this horrific fiasco, I need to describe the situations it intended to “improve upon”. This will involve several long sidetracks into anecdotes of history, with a focus on the more interesting times, which catch my eye because they stand out either by being particularly hellish or particularly heavenly. Hopefully I will be forgiven if I dwell a lot on small farmers. This involve something a surprising number of modern youth don’t know: Without farmers we all starve. It also involves something all too many leaders forget: People will put up with a lot of excess and extravagance in their leaders, until they get hungry. Then, watch out.
The American “populist” Bryan stated, in a famous speech in 1896, “Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms, and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”
In a sense this is a warning to the “elite” which occurs again and again, across the expanses of time. It basically warns the elite, “do not bite the hand that feeds you”. The average man is willing to put up with surprising disparities in wealth, as long as his own lot in life is happy, but once suffering enters his picture the foundations of wealth and privilege quake. The poor riot and the authorities react by oppressing, and the rot sets in.
There are all sorts of intellectual explanations for why disparities in wealth exist, and when I look through them all, I am reminded of children at my Childcare all whining, “He got more than me! It’s not fair!” The standard answer is, “Life isn’t fair.”
The spiritual answer is that everyone is blessed with gifts, some which are very obvious and some which are blessings in disguise. (Some who have employed me have suggested my blessings are very, very disguised.) (It can be dangerous to have a dreamy young poet operate a forklift in a warehouse containing great numbers of glass bottles.) Individuality involves gifts as varied as people’s fingerprints, and one gift is to be a motivator and leader of others. When one gazes back through the rises and falls of peoples, across the expanses of time called “history”, it is like looking across mountain ranges of many hues at sunset. Some mountains are ugly, blackened by the vomit of volcanic turmoil, while others are sweet like sunny uplands with patches of pines. A trait of the better societies is a respect people have for each other; a king or boss may be stern and demand respect, but he does not lord it over others in a haughty manner, and is actually respectful and always on the lookout for talent. Far, far back in history, even before the first farm, the massive, muscular chief of meat-eating Neanderthals might spot, in a skinny, nearsighted fellow who was useless on a hunt, a latent skill at making flint spear-points. Bingo! Useless hunter becomes a man whom hunters value.
The difference in how individuals are gifted leads quite naturally to what economists call the “division of labor”, and this process occurs because when you are good at something you tend to succeed at it. The cream rises to the top. This brings me back to the difference between the hard working farmer and the lazy farmer. The hard working farmer will tend to have wealth and acquire more land, as the lazy farmer loses his land and becomes a worker, or else loses ownership of his land and works the same farm as a tenant. Or I should say this process would occur in a time of peace. In a time of war even a hard working farmer can lose ownership of his land because his society loses a war. The Babylonians march into Jerusalem, or the Manchu into China, or the Rus into Russia, and, because the ability to conquer is also a “gift”, the conqueror gets all the stress, and all the care, and all the bother, of having to run all the farms of the all farmers they have conquered. (Yikes! As if running a single farm isn’t trouble enough! Conquest seems a fate worse than Solomon having 600 wives!)
Conquest was never as easy as it might seem. It might seem an invader only needs to yell, “Grow food and make it snappy, or I’ll lop off your head”, but that has been tried and it never works. Dispirited workers produce poorly. Terror is indeed a form of motivation, but fails to bring out the latent gifts people inwardly own, in the manner love does, and merciless conquerors soon discover the land isn’t producing the wealth they expected. Therefore, like it or not, they are faced with finding a better form of motivation.
It is actually quite fascinating to look back across time and see how some conquest resulted in kingdoms that endured, and some conquest (like Hitler’s) resulted in complete flops. There are plenty of examples to study, as our planet has not been known for its lack of wars.
To return to the example of Genghis Khan, we are faced with a paradox, for he was undoubtedly brutal, but created an empire that endured. The explanation is that he used brutality as one of several forms of motivation. If you resisted him, and you killed his beloved soldiers, he would show you little mercy. He slaughtered not just every soldier, but every person in entire cities, and tore those cities down, even to the degree some cities ceased to be, and are only heaps of rubble in the steppes to this day. While it is to a degree unwise to put too much stock in quotes that are 700 years old, when leading the population of one of the first cities he vanquished outside the gates to all be beheaded, he is purported to have informed them, “I am the flail of God. Had you not created great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”
If this quote is true, it would indicate Genghis had some sense that he was an “ax” of God. If you wonder what joy could be found in such a gift, so do I. However he did experience pleasure, if the the following statement, that he is said to have made, is also true: “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”
It does make a sort of sense to utterly exterminate a foe who has had the courage to stand up to you, because otherwise you are in the shoes of a hunter who has not shot to kill, and has a wounded beast on his hands. (Jefferson described slavery as “having the wolf by the ear”.) The lick-spittle of vengeance has an amazingly long memory; and history shows many conquered people who arose from ashes to burn the capitals of their conquerors, as the Babylonians did to the Assyrians. The Mongols themselves were a people who arose from ashes all their own.
(Before Christians get too haughty about such behavior being ungodly, they should look at the Book of Joshua, and read how it was not merely the soldiers of Jericho who were slaughtered, but also the women and children and even the livestock, Christians should read how anything that could be burned was burned. Only metal was allowed to be saved from Jericho, and not as loot, but to be put in the temple treasury, for God. Any infractions to this decree were severely punished, yet, of course, people did covet certain objects, and did show mercy to particularly beautiful women, and trouble always came of it. One example was: Mercy was shown to the Agagites. Then these people, rather than gratitude, bore a lick-spittle grudge across centuries. Eventually, when the Jews were captives in Babylonia, an Agagite named Haman came up with the solution many have come up with over the millennium: The total extermination of the Jews. Read The Book of Esther for the exciting climax. [Spoiler alert: The Jews weren’t exterminated.])
In conclusion, mercy has not been a strong suit among conquerors. In the case of Genghis Khan his reputation for being merciless did motivate some strongholds to open their gates and offer no resistance, and such cities tended to fare better, receiving what could be called “mercy”, considering the alternative. They then had a chance of witnessing Genghis’s ability to see talent. For example, Mongols, as a people on horseback, had no idea how to conduct a siege and storm a castle’s walls. Genghis learned such things from Chinese, and later Persian, captives. Even in cases where populations were slaughtered he made exceptions for people who had gifts, men who made actual things that could be used, blacksmiths and potters and other artisans, who tended to be shipped home as useful slaves. He seemingly governed by principles of meritocracy, and appreciated people who were not cowed by his power and answered him honestly. He lacked much of the megalomania often seen in tyrants: While he might confidently call himself the “flail” of God, he didn’t allow statues and portraits of himself to be made. In fact the more I study the man, the more I realize there were reasons his influence endured.
Not that he doesn’t qualify as a mass murderer. When he invaded northern China the local northern population plunged from something like 40 million to 5 million, (from the last Chinese census to the first Mongol census). (There may have been a mass exodus of refugees, as well as slaughter.) (Also the Medieval Warm Period crashed into the Little Ice Age.) But, to get back to my original point, it was not an easy thing to be a small farmer, minding your own business, in those times.
Looking back, it seems that because even peace-loving farmers were subject to invaders, (outlaws, if not armies) they came to desire protection (sheriffs, if not dictators with armies). Society became divided between protectors and the protected. Some worked as farmers as some worked as soldier-protectors. Farmers tended to be smaller men and soldiers be bigger men. In societies where this division became hereditary, the size-difference could be surprising. Why? Because the same child, fed only grain, may grow to be a foot shorter than the same child would be, if fed beef. (This is trivia, but when the meat-eating Americans occupied rice-eating Japan after World War Two, the children of Japan became significantly taller than their parents.) The divisions in ancient societies trended towards big knights and small serfs. But this was a division all agreed upon, and, in societies where people cared for each other, it worked surprisingly well. (Of course, because this system involved soldiers, it also tended to perpetuate war).
In the Bible there is an interesting story regarding farmers needing a defender, (found in the eighth chapter of the first Book of Samuel.) Basically the farmers want a defender, and God tells them He is their defender, but they insist God isn’t good enough; they want a big, strong, human king. Then God (through Samuel) tells them what to expect, if they have a human king. It makes good reading, three millennium later:
This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “Nay; but we will have a king over us;20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles”.
In other words, the Jews of that time could have stood for Truth and seen that Truth stood by them, but would rather be slaves to big government. They should have known better, because they were “God’s Chosen” and got good advice most of us never get, (such as the prophet Samuel’s), but perhaps there is a bit of the lazy farmer in all of us, that wants to shrug responsibility off to someone else. We desire to sit at home and write lovely poems, as someone else bleeds and dies fighting the enemy. According to the ancient prophet Samuel, this choice will not give us the freedom to write poems, but rather will make us slaves.
I have seen this true in my own life, (where I have been the slave of many bosses who couldn’t care less for my poetry), (or anyone else’s), but in terms of World History some bosses redeemed the tyranny of power, likely because they felt the influence of love, as displayed by the Christ. In the social structure called the “medieval manor system”, the primitive society could be hell, but could also sometimes be very loving and wonderful. On such rare occasions the “Medieval Manor System” was heavenly Christianity in a worldly form, for it was a “body” with all the “parts” working in harmony, and an individual’s “gifts” were allowed free expression.
Many of the Medieval Manor System’s concepts seem loathsome to us, and we are repelled from the very idea of their servitude, which approached slavery’s. But apparently the master of the manor could sometimes prefer to oversee happy serfs. (Such oddness even occurred in America, midst the undeniable horrors of American slavery: Rare, scattered plantations allowed slaves to plant their own gardens and even own rifles to hunt with, to create their own churches and schools, with some slave-owners even granting their best slaves their freedom, as a reward.)
Not that I would ever want to be a slave, or a serf. Serfs were not allowed to marry without their lord’s permission, and were bound to the soil they worked. Rather than own their land, their land owned them. They had to stay in town, and were denied freedom of movement, but the benefit to this limitation was that they also could not be thrown off their land. If their lord went bankrupt and lost his land, they went along with the land to the new owner. Also, though they didn’t own their land, they were allowed to keep some of what it produced. (In some ways that is not all that different from my own government, which allows me to keep some of my paycheck.) Serfs were slaves, in that they had to work for the lord, in “his” fields and fixing “his” roads, but, though I smugly think I own “my” land, I do pay property taxes, which in a sense means I am renting my farm from the government. When I struggle to make the money to pay those taxes I am in a sense a serf, (though my taxes pay others to fix the roads, and I don’t have to [thank God] fix them myself).
In some places the lord of the manor found the serfs were quite productive during their free time, both as farmers and as artisans, and that the wealth of the manor as a whole increased the more free time serfs got. If you consider the time serfs had to work for the manor was a sort of “tax”, the tax was reduced, but rather than less income, the lord of the manor strangely got richer, for the consequence of asking serfs for less was that they became more productive. In some way I don’t understand, [when Satan wasn’t looking], a sort of golden age occurred in Central Europe.
I long to know more. How the exposure to an apparent mass murderer like Genghis Khan, and the nightmarish pandemic called The Black Death, could have had such unexpected positive consequences makes me wonder. But the history startles, and states this: In parts of Poland around the year 1370, some serfs were only required to work for their lord two days a year. That is a very small tax. When I total up all my taxes, I see I spend half my time working for the government, or 130 days a year (subtracting weekends.) So who is the slave? Me, or those long-ago Polish serfs, who only worked for their government 2 days a year?
One effect of the plague called the “Black Death” may have been to make a serf more valuable. There was just as much land, but in places only half as many people. Unless depopulated fields were abandoned (which did happen), you, as a surviving lord, had to make the best use of your remaining servants and, unless you could afford seeing your income cut in half, you had to ask them to work twice as hard. Meanwhile, in the next manor over, your neighbor was facing the same problem, and might be tempted to lure some of your more footloose serfs to break their bond with your soil and come to his land (offering higher pay, or perhaps lower “taxes”). Your serfs gained power. But this is just a guess on my part, with me plopping modern concepts of “supply and demand” onto a situation I only dimly glimpse through mists of time.
One problem with trying to see into the mists of medieval Central Europe is that the landscape was constantly overrun by invaders. Genghis Khan was proceeded by Attila the Hun, and by Rus and Visgoths and Magyars and Saxons and others, and followed by further churnings of the landscape, culminating in the mind-boggling tank-battles between Hitler and Stalin. Not only did these invasions tend to burn down existing libraries, but each conqueror tended to rewrite history, with the revisionist-version portraying the new conqueror as the hero, and his foes as barely human.
A brutal way to erase the past was to simply burn parchments, but parchment (basically carefully-prepared animal hides) was valuable and scarce, so another approach was to scrape the ink off the parchment and start over. A recent development has been for historians to radiocarbon-date parchments and also their ink, and if the parchment is significantly older than the ink, to scrutinize the parchment for traces of what was written before, (able to be brought-out by modern science using x-rays or ultraviolet light or some such magic). This has brought back writings that were thought destroyed. However, to the north, parchment is more likely to rot. Much we have to go on is legend and lore, handed down largely by word of mouth, and only written down centuries later. For example, it is possible to get a glimpse of where Genghis Khan was most brutal by where he is, (to this day), most hated, (parts of China, and Persia [modern Iran]), whereas he appears surprisingly beneficent in the lore of other lands, and is a hero in Mongolia. We also have bits of history in libraries far from the steppes, (often not original documents but handwritten copies, or copies of copies), which have escaped such ravages. However much of my sense of there being a golden period in Central Europe I glean through inference, which arises from incidental behavior which seems out-of-character for the time, in comparison to the brutality elsewhere.
For example, I recall reading of a princess of Central Europe whose father was king of one land and whose uncle was king of another land, who, because her uncle died childless the same year as her father died, became queen of both lands. This created an immediate crisis, as the the two nationalities did not get along. (Hungarians and Poles?) Anywhere else there would have inevitably been a war, but the queen did the sane and smart thing, which was to give up her claim to one of the lands, and simply hand the bother of ruling that land off to some relative.
The fact there may have been a golden age and renaissance in Central Europe is inconvenient to those who prefer to rewrite history to show a “societal evolution”. The concept of “evolution” tends to be linear, and tends to succumb to the temptation to make oneself the pinnacle and to reduce those who came before oneself to the status of less-evolved Neanderthals. Even when a golden past is honored, one sees oneself as that golden past’s progressive heir. (Hence some Romanians see themselves as improved Romans.)
The communist version of “societal evolution” tends to focus on material byproducts of Truth, such as power (“Church versus State”) and money (“Guns versus Butter”) and is blind to factors outside the box it creates for itself; a cramping crate it disciplines itself to adhere to being boxed-in by. This blindness fails to see what moves humanity is often a politically-incorrect discipline that comes from outside-the-box. Communism itself was originally outside-the-box, in its dismissal of religion as an “opiate”, yet communism fails to see that Christianity also was originally outside-the-box, and not at all associated with the rich, powerful, and politically-correct people of its time.
From the moment the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and became a “defender of the faith”, political power threatened to turn spirituality into a box, limiting the human spirit. With power comes the temptation to abuse it. Not that reform cannot originate from the throne, but (turning to Tolkien’s fantasy) often only a humble hobbit like Bilbo or Frodo can resist the evil of the “Ring of Power”. Power tends to increasingly be something clung to, rather than a thing used wisely, and then it ceases to be something that comes from Truth outside-the-box, and exists in growing mustiness, in which case the fresh, outside-the-box breezes tend to take the form of invaders. Once Christianity began to stultify, challenges shocked it from its torpor, pagan Visgoths sacking Rome and pagan Huns flooding Europe, Vikings from the north and Islam from the south and Genghis Khan from the east.
People have an unease regarding bright times of good fortune, and tend to worry the light will be taken away. Even a most glorious party must come to an end. A sunny dawn gives way to evening’s long shadows. Life leads to death. Perhaps this vague sense of shadow, lurking in even the best and happiest life, sometimes creates a defensiveness, even a paranoia, and people build structures hoping to wall out shade, but the walls become prisons in and of themselves. One cannot defeat a shadow with a wall; it takes a light.
There is much talk about how, to be free, one must stay on their toes and must not slack off. “The condition upon which God has given liberty to man is eternal vigilance”, (John Philpot Curran; 1790); “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few,” (Wendell Phillips; 1854); [perhaps even, “Rust never sleeps”, (Neil Young; 1979)]). However one of the most fascinating qualities of liberty is that it cannot be grasped. Attempt to grab it, and it slips away. Try to pen it with laws and rules, and it immediately manifests as “the exception to the rule.” Perhaps this is what Saint Paul was attempting to describe in Galatians, 2000 years ago, when he stated, “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.“
In terms of simplistic “societal evolution” the “medieval manor system” atrophied into a stratified society, partly because the cream rises to the top, and partly because the conquerors ruled the conquered (for example, in Russia a Rus nobility ruled Slav serfs.) In this system the serfs grew the food, protected by the lord of the manor, and groups of manors were protected by a duke, and groups of dukes were protected by the king, and kings were under the jurisdiction of the Pope. When serfs had squabbles they brought them to the lord; when lords had squabbles they brought them to the duke; when dukes had squabbles they brought them to the king, and when kings had squabbles they brought them to the Pope, and because everyone was a good Christian, meek and mild, everything worked out. This occurred during the mild winter of the year 926, in the dead of night, between the hours of 2:52 and 3:09 AM. The rest of the time things weren’t quite so peaceful. Even in the Vatican problems occurred, involving a schism that resulted in there being three Popes at the same time.
I would not like to be in the shoes of any Pope dealing with all the quarrelsome kings of Christendom. (Not that the College of Cardinals is considering me. “If elected I will not serve.”) However I do have many of the skills required of a Pope. After all, I run a Childcare. And I have some powers Popes never dreamed of having, for I’m more than twice as tall and weigh more than four times as much as my subjects. One quarrel I always find myself dealing with is expressed by the words, “He started it!”
The “start of war” is an interesting thing to study, for it seems to me that, without a “start” there would be no need for soldier-protectors, and farmers could farm in peace. Soldier-protectors would be out of a job, and would have to go back to farming. Looking back in time, few seemed to really desire that. The problem seemed to be that hoeing corn got a bit boring, after the first decade or two.
It is all well and good to adopt some hippy slogan such as, “Wars will cease when men refuse to fight,” but that simply doesn’t deal with the fact that, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Life simply gets boring without something to battle. Therefore it seems to me that the problem a Pope is faced with is: Getting people to realize the fiercest and most interesting battle there is to fight is not with people over the border, but within one’s self. That would mean Popes would have to first look hard in the mirror, and, as Pope of a Childcare, I understand that is the last thing one is prone to do, when things are getting out of hand and spiraling out of control.
One thing I’ve noticed at my Childcare is that children seem to spend half of every ballgame arguing. I often don’t step in and interfere, (unless things get drastic), for I understand this is how we mortals learn the art of diplomacy.
One mistake students of “societal evolution” tend to make is to over-emphasis the domineering, and ignore the quieter peacemakers. An interesting example of this involves the etymology of the word “slave”. It comes from the word “Slav”, who were a people constantly overrun by outsiders, farmers who fed their masters and often only earned scorn for it. But what does the word “Slav” actually mean? Apparently it is an ancient word with deep Indo-European roots, and has a somewhat ambiguous meaning, as it seems to mean both “listen” and “speak the truth.” Perhaps the best translation is “heed.” (Definitely not a blabbermouth, especially when the lord has a sharp sword, but “silent waters run deep.”) And one thing about the Slavs is that they have endured where their masters have not. Who speaks of the Scythians in a modern context? Not that the Slavs didn’t learn a great deal from their masters, but in the end their masters were the ones who converted.
Gazing back into the mists of time I am always interested in seeing how missionaries converted fierce, pagan warriors to Christianity. They often couldn’t convert with the sword, for often the pagans were better warriors, and had superior weapons. When the English had a huge advantage in Western Europe because their longbows could shoot farthest, in Eastern Europe the Mongol bows of horn and wood could shoot even further, and pierce armor even better than English arrows. And long before the Mongols, the Scythians in a sense had the first RVs, and it was difficult to counterattack their villages, as they were basically covered wagons on wheels, and hard to locate. Nor were such nomadic people stupid and without skill. Here is a Scythian necklace from 400 BC:
In a sense it seems crazy to leave a secure castle and head out as a missionary into dangerous steppes, yet people did it. I wish I could wiretap time and listen-in on the conversations between Christians and Pagans. They did not always end well.
People are not always welcoming when you arrive at their front door like a salesman and tell them you have a deal they can’t refuse. One of my favorite stories about such a “deal” involves the English arriving in Bombay harbor in the early 1600’s, and telling the Indian king they could supply really wonderful goods, if he allowed them to build a trading post in his harbor, protected by cannons. The king asked the English if he also would be allowed to build a trading post, on the river Thames in London, protected by his cannons. The English left and didn’t return for 200 years.
While peering about in the mists of the past, looking for sunny uplands, I chanced upon some dark deeds. Apparently the East Saxons (who “evolved” into the Prussians) didn’t like the deal missionaries were offering. A pagan priest had the missionary bishop Alderbert of Prague murdered on the Baltic coast of Poland in 997, and the missionary archbishop Bruno of Querfurt was beheaded by Saxons (and most of his 18 followers hung) in 1006. Yet midst these black shadows are strange ghosts of gray; the martyred missionaries were so venerated that their corpses were bought: Bruno’s by a Duke of Poland, Boleslaw the Great, and Alderbert’s, (for its weight in gold), by the king of Poland, Boleslaus I. And then, as I poke through the strange, dark fog further, some of the ghosts resolve into beams of light.
Some of this history is found in a copy of a history written in the early 1000’s called the “Annals of Quedlinburg”, which quirked my eyebrow as it was likely written by a woman, at a sort of college for women within the abbey of St. Servatius Church. This immediately piqued my interest, as it suggested women had a status I didn’t imagine existed in medieval times. Poking further, I discovered this school was founded by Matilda of Ringelheim in 932.
Matlda is a person who strikes me as a crossroads of many forks, or perhaps a star of many rays, for whichever which way one turns one sees a fascinating avenue one can wander down and become lost upon. For example, (don’t get lost), her great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was Widukind, a fierce, pagan Saxon king at the time the Frankish Charlemagne was attempting to convert Saxons to Christianity with his sword. Around the year 772 Charlemagne cut down a sacred-to-pagans grove of trees, which did not bring about peace, but rather nearly two decades of warfare. Around 785 Widukind converted, not due to losing a battle, but rather due to a vision. It was a rather interesting vision, but if I go any farther down this avenue we’ll get lost. So let’s back up to Matilda.
All five of her children gained great power. Her eldest daughter was married to the count of Paris and became the mother of Hugh Capet, first king of the West Franks. Her oldest son became Holy Roman Emperor in 962. Her second daughter eventually became the queen of King Louis IV of France. Her second son became Duke of Bavaria. And her third son became both an Archbishop and a Duke, and his court was the intellectual center of Germany.
I suppose communists would suggest this shows how the bourgeois intrigue and plot to hog all the power to themselves, but this fails to consider what is done with such power. Matilda was the sort of person who would slip from her husband’s bed in the dead of night to go to the castle chapel and pray. She apparently dismayed the court accountants by spending far too much of her husband’s money on charity. These are not the deeds of a hog. The simple act of starting a school to educate women is more of an act that spreads the wealth of knowledge, even if the women who attended the school were all upper class. Women in other lands were not writing histories, which brings me back to the “Annals of Quedinburg.”
In this history we find the first mention of a Baltic tribe called the “Lithuanians”, (midst describing when the martyred Bruno was beheaded in 1009). There was little indication at the time that these pagan people would someday challenge communist dogma, concerning “societal evolution”.
Lithuania was luckily located, just northeast of the maximum Mongol expansion, (but close enough for contact), and just east of the worst Saxon warfare and west of the various Viking wars that led to the beginnings of Russia. It’s lowlands were a bit swampy and highlands a bit sandy, so the land wasn’t coveted by outsiders, but it was fertile enough, especially in the warmth of the Medieval Warm Period. It was one of those places out on the fringe of civilization which happily escapes notice. It gradually prospered, and after a couple centuries became the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, an entity that persisted five hundred more years, and at one point reached from the Black Sea to the Baltic and was the largest nation in Europe. But what is most upsetting to the communist dogma about “societal evolution” was that Lithuania didn’t concentrate wealth and “the means of production” in the hands of a king, but rather developed democracy.
In all its long history, Lithuania only had a single “king”. Back in its beginnings, it was basically a conglomeration of tribal chieftains, (although they are called “dukes” in the old histories). Rome saw them as “pagans”, as did Constantinople, and Orthodox missionaries from the east and Catholic missionaries from the west aimed to convert them. The missionaries from Rome reached the levels of a crusade, involving armed knights and groups such as the Teutonic Knights, (centered in Jerusalem but with a branch in the Baltic), converting with such zeal that they threatened to erase the cultures they converted. It was at this point one chieftain, named Mindaugas, grins out from the mists of history as a particularly crafty guy. Despite the fact the chiefs of his own land, often his own relatives, restlessly kept his land in a state of civil war, he manipulated circumstances to an advantage where Lithuania not only wasn’t erased, but expanded. At one point he converted to Christianity, and there was joy in Rome, and Lithuania was marked down as a victory for Christ, but apparently Mindaugus only did this to get the Teutonic Knights working for him. Later, when circumstances changed, he caused frowning in Rome, as it looked to them like he went back to his pagan ways, though he may have renounced Rome more than he renounced Christ. But most interesting to me is something which appears, in the written history of the steppes, not in Lithuania but in what became Belarus, during the time Mindaugus ruled. This fragment states Belarus became part of Lithuania, but not, according to the Belorussians, because Lithuanians marched in and sacked their small cities; but rather because the Lithuanians were “invited” in. Details are lacking, but the very idea of Lithuania expanding, not due to invasion, but through invitation, hints at a reality not much discussed, in tomes about “societal evolution.”
Initially Lithuanians formed more than 80% of the population of their homeland on the coast of the Baltic, but as they expanded over the steppes to the Black Sea, including Poland, Belarus and the Ukraine, they became a minority of the duchy, only 12% of the total population. The simple fact a people can be so outnumbered and yet never be slaughtered, not for only a few decades but for five hundred years, suggests a level of civilization rarely seen in Europe. However what is most fascinating to me is the democracy they developed. After Mindaugas they had no “king”, but rather had a sort of gathering of chieftains, which became a parliament which decided policy through discussions and by vote. They did not seem to feel the slightest bit compelled, as the rest of Europe did, to concentrate the “means of production” in the personage of a single, absolute monarch, but rather went merrily on their way, defying “societal evolution”, (which likely would have annoyed the heck out Marxists, had any existed). Instead they delighted in freedom. Apparently they could do this without asking outsiders for permission. Of course their democracy’s “voters” were only the “royalty”, but membership in the “royalty” expanded until it involved more than 10% of the population.
When I gaze across the landscape of history, seeking a cause for such a growth of liberty, I think to myself one factor might have been the sheer enormity of the steppes. The steppes have a vastness approaching the ocean’s, which may have been what attracted the Vikings, however the freedom which the steppes encourage is very different from what the fenceless sea encourages.
The sea knows no walls, but sailors are confined within the gunnels of a ship, which tends to develop character-traits that keep men from going for each other’s throats, (which is what you feel like doing, when you are confined with someone aboard a ship for a long period of time.) Not that mutiny never happened on ships, but among sailors it was seen as the worsts of sins. Out of this came loyalty seldom seen in other cultures. While a Viking could be heartless and deadly if you didn’t know him, if he gave you “his word” and you clasped hands, you could be sure he felt “honor bound” to “keep his word”. Meanwhile in Constantinople the measure of manhood was not loyalty, but rather Byzantine slyness. Therefore the Byzantine emperor did not trust his palace guard to Byzantines, but instead chose Vikings from Russia, called Varangians.
The steppes, however, knew no gunnels, and, where a mortal cannot walk on water, the steppes were dry land, and if a man truly couldn’t stand his master he could just take a hike towards the endless horizons. This vastness even imprinted steppe laws: While Slavs were tied to their Manor and not suppose to leave town, the law stated that, if a runaway remained free for more than a year, the lord had to give up and stop trying to recapture him. Therefore at the edge of the civilized parts of the steppes there tended to be a fringe of free Slavs, in some senses like American pioneers at the edge of the wilderness. Rather than Indians they faced Tartars.
The “Tartar” were what the Mongols became after they intermarried with the local Turkic populations. Initially tolerant of all religions, they eventually became Muslim. Their primary weakness was fighting among themselves, and divided they fell, but only after a long and illustrious time controlling the steppes all the way to China. Among the Tartar slavery was legal, but one Tartar leader was disgusted when he saw his poor paying bills by selling their children, so he made slavery illegal among his own people, which was very bad news for the Slavs. The Tartar developed the bad habit of paying their bills by raiding westward into Slav villages, killing the elders and scooping up the young and strong, herding them south, and selling them to Arabs and the Ottoman Empire. It is estimated that an average raid captured between one and two thousand Slavs, but one raid apparently herded 20,000 Slavs south. It was at this time the word “Slav” became synonymous with “slave”.
It was nearly impossible to stop these raids, for the Tartar could ride faster than word-of-mouth could spread (and the internet hadn’t been invented). Some raids didn’t merely cross borders, but crossed entire nations into adjoining nations. Also the raiding parties succeeded because they were much larger than the meager militia of Slav villages. Lastly the Tartar would raid new areas each time, allowing enough time between raids for the local population to recover, (which was also just enough time [one generation] for the local population to become careless). However the success of such slave-raids weakened Tartar society, I think, because it was easier to make money raiding, than by developing Tartar farms or Tartar industry, and slowly the Russians came to have more advanced weapons.
These Tartar raids went on not for a short time, but for centuries, and I’ve seen the total given, for the number of Slavs captured, enslaved, and shipped south by the Tartar, as being between a half million and three million. And looking south, to where the slaves wound up, one sees that at one point there were over a million white slaves in predominately Muslim lands in Europe. (It would be interesting to do genetic studies of Arab lands now; they may have more Slav blood than they care to admit, [added to Visgoth blood in North Africa.]) (Also, if America must pay reparations for once having black slaves as employees, must oil-rich Islam pay reparations to Belarus, Poland, and the Ukraine ?)
In any case, it can be seen why Slavs preferred Lithuanians to the Tartar. It also can be seen it took a lot of guts to be a free Slav, at the edge of the wilderness. Lastly, it can be seen why the steppes remained so depopulated.
Because it was dangerous, due to the Tartar, to settle and farm on the steppes, some of the free Slavs lived elusive, nomadic lives hunting and fishing. They also studied their oppressors, and learned to form their own bands of fierce men on horseback. These became the Cossack, who enacted a sort of Karmic revenge on the Tartar lands as Russia expanded east as the United States expanded west, in an uncanny way preforming the role the US cavalry played against the American Indians. (The Cossack also happened to be a people who practiced a basically democratic form of government).
When I gaze out over the steppes in my mind’s eye I am in awe of the enormity, both in terms of time and of space. It seems a landscape where our Creator used his broadest brush. Yet it barely seems noticed, in discussions of human liberty and “societal evolution”, beyond a paragraph or two written in fine-point. In fact the Slavs were considered “backwards”, at an early stage of “societal evolution”, by the early thinkers of the Enlightenment. Yet Slavs had a fascinating government that worked quietly out on the farms, (without the Lord of the manor needing to pay it much mind), called the “commune”. For centuries, perhaps even millenniums, they did very successfully what American hippies attempted very poorly, and what Marx and Engels felt was a new idea, and what Stalin and Mao utterly botched.
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.