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It is in blood that empires, like humans, are born, it is in blood that they die (reprint)

2012 March 11
by Ian Welsh

Photo by Chris Hondros, RIP

I think we all remember the year before the Iraq war, the drumbeat of propaganda, the horrible certainty that nothing we could do would stop George Bush’s messianic belief that he must have a war with Iraq because he was ordained by God, and all the great presidents were war presidents. We argued at the time that there is no decision a politician can make which he or she should think on harder than going to war.

The reason should be obvious. In war bad things happen. Wars are always sold as if they are going to be brief, as if only the “bad guys” will be killed, as if “precision munitions” have made horrors a thing of the past. They are sold as easy, and glorious. And they almost never are. War is the archetype of “rubber hits the road”, of a situation you can’t control. They have a way of turning into messes we never intended.

World War I was supposed to be brief. So was the Iraq war. A quick march in, lots of flowers, rework Iraq into a libertarian paradise by applying Republican economic and social dogma, then on to Tehran!

We could run through the numbers of dead, of maimed, of orphaned, but I think this story from the San Antonio Express-News speaks more directly to what happens in war. Some time ago some US soldiers raped an Iraqi girl repeatedly, then tried to conceal the crime by burning the corpse and killing her family.

Iraqis were outraged, and later some soldiers were captured. And for four months they were tortured. The antiseptic language in the article is somehow worse than saying it outright: “foot bones detached from commingled remains of Fouty and Jimenez, and finger bones wrapped in a blanket. Part of a pair of handcuffs was found.” And a broken nose that had healed.

The men were kept alive, in other words, and tortured. They were probably cut up while still alive.

You can’t control war. Even the best disciplined army in the world (and the American is not even close to being that) will kill people it shouldn’t. Rapes will occur, they do in every war. Brutality and torture are almost certain to occur, even if the army tries to avoid it, rather than institutionalizing it. War, by its nature, requires making the enemy into something less than human, so you don’t mind shooting them. It almost always spills over onto the locals, who likewise are viewed as animals by occupiers or invaders and treated as such by many of them.

War, then, is hell. This isn’t news, everyone knows it. But as with most of what everyone “knows” they don’t really get it, because most people don’t get things that have never effected them or people they love. And if you’re in Congress, well, with very few exceptions, no one you care about is going to fight, no one you know is going to risk their life and maybe even get captured and tortured. The same is true of most people serving in the administration.

That boy being tortured, that girl being raped. All the deaths, murder, rapes, torture, were inevitable. You go to war with the army you have, and the president you have, but even if Jimmy Carter had been in charge there would have been murder, rapes, torture—just less of them. But “less” doesn’t matter much when it’s your daughter who was raped repeatedly at gunpoint; your son who was cut into pieces over a period of months.

And so we come back to the heart of the war. We rarely talk about it anymore, but it’s simple enough. All those people who supported the war, and most especially all those who voted for it, bear the moral responsibility for the results of the war. At least 100,000 dead Iraqis (and probably closer to a million). 4,000 and rising dead US soldiers. Rape. Murder. Torture. Orphans who got to watch their parents being killed. Husbands who saw their wives die, or wives who watched their husbands gunned down or blown into bloody carrion. Families who have buried multiple children.

All because members of Congress didn’t care and because they were gutless. Because they though to themselves “I might have to face attack ads if I vote against this war.” Can you think of anything more weak, anything more pathetically evil, than to care more about your reelection than about thousands dying? Than about the certainty that from your vote will come rape and torture and murder?

And can you think of anything more pathetic, more redolent of bad judgment than to say “but I didn’t know. I trusted George Bush?”

As far as I am concerned most of Congress doesn’t just have blood on their hands, they are in it up to their chins. Their gutlessness, cupidity and selfishness is such that most of them, in a just world, would be preparing their defenses for a Nuremburg trial. They attacked a country which had not attacked the US, based on lies that were debunked at the time, for petty personal reasons of political ambition or cowardice.

We all know that won’t happen, but what I will tell you is this. Without the Iraq war, the financial crisis happening right now either wouldn’t be, or would be much less harsh. It is quite likely that Iraq is the last mistake of the American century and marks the end of America as a superpower.

This is only fitting. Those who have proven they cannot be trusted with power must have that power taken away. America had its chance, in 2004, to take that power away from the worst of its elites. It didn’t. For an outsider, whether the election was stolen in 2004 or not is irrelevant, all that matters was the lesson of the result—that Americans are no longer capable of disciplining their own elites.

American hegemony rose out of the ashes of WWII. World War II was an unprovoked war. Germany attacked those that did not threaten it. At Nuremburg Americans hung Nazis who had not been involved in the Holocaust, for no crime other than unprovoked war, declaring that it was a capital offense. Out of that war, and out of Nuremburg, America was born as the leader of the free world. Not just the mightiest, but the nation that said “never again”.

It is fitting then that an unprovoked war is what is bringing an end to America’s leadership of the free world, to its economic and military hegemony. Having done what it once condemned, having proven unwilling or unable to correct itself, America has reaped what it sowed.

Alas that a young man had to be chopped into bits; a young girl raped repeatedly, as part of the process—that hundreds of thousands had to be killed.

It is in blood that empires, like humans, are born.

It is in blood that they die.

(Originally posted October 5th, 2008)

85 Responses
  1. thelaughingdairyfarmer permalink
    March 11, 2012

    American soldier just snapped today in Afghanistan and killed around 10 civilians, including women and children. It’s over. It’s been over for a long time. Only sociopaths, neoliberal/neocon Obamabot scum, and neofascists think we should stay.

  2. thelaughingdairyfarmer permalink
    March 11, 2012

    One thing Ian, I would also add that all those who continue to support the wars, like Obamabot scum, have that blood up to their shoulders as well.

  3. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 11, 2012

    Or cause others to die. Needs be added to your title. Al Jazeera reports:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/03/201231163054684909.html

    US soldier opens fire on Afghan civilians
    At least 17 killed in shooting spree outside military base in southern Kandahar province, officials say.

    It does seem little is changed since you first wrote the post, only the murder in chief.

  4. Bernard permalink
    March 11, 2012

    2008, when you wrote this post. and nothing changes, except more people dying for the Elites.

  5. March 11, 2012

    And yet Obama and Hillary were listed as the most admired American man and woman, respectively in a recent public opinion poll.

    Since it is a given that few, if any, Chimpy Bush supporters named them in the poll, it just goes to show you just how far gone this country really is.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-12-27/most-admired-people-2011/52243574/1

  6. March 11, 2012

    “All because members of Congress didn’t care and because they were gutless. Because they though to themselves “I might have to face attack ads if I vote against this war.” Can you think of anything more weak, anything more pathetically evil, than to care more about your reelection than about thousands dying? ”

    Nope, I can’t. Which is also a pretty good argument for why Obama and his democrat colleagues are even worse than the Republicans (for anyone who believes Obama wouldn’t have been front and center of the bipartisanship for war effort, eat shit and die). At least the Republicans are honest about it. The god of the new testament would vomit these lukewarm democrats to the lowest circle of hell.

    “Out of that war, and out of Nuremburg, America was born as the leader of the free world. Not just the mightiest, but the nation that said “never again”.”

    I thought that never again shit belonged to Israel. Nevermind. Same difference.

  7. Growth Factor permalink
    March 11, 2012

    The photograph accompanying this post is one of the most powerful that I saw come out of the Iraq war. It was taken by Chris Hondros, a truly great wartime photographer from Fayetteville, NC. He was recently killed by an RPG in Libya. He was a man of great talent, wisdom and bravery. He is truly missed by his friends and family here in NC.

  8. Ian Welsh permalink*
    March 11, 2012

    Thanks GF, added.

  9. March 11, 2012

    Trouble is, too many empires have an annoying tendency to endure long past their pull date.

    Seems that if enough people are comfortable under imperial sway, empires can go on in some form or another indefinitely.

    The saving grace, if there is one, is that though the USA was born with the intention to become a domestic/continental empire, it has never done overseas empire well. In fact, the US sucks at it. The NATO/US imperial adventures the last few years have sucked extra hard, demonstrating — as if anybody was wondering — that even those European (former) Imperial dynamos don’t know how to do it either.

    So they’ll toy with Greece, I guess, until they can figure out how to do it “right” or it all blows up in their face.

  10. jcapan permalink
    March 11, 2012

    For the record, “The Greatest Generation” did some vile shit during WWII, often against the very people they were ostensibly helping.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/mar/27/thesecretwar

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8084210.stm

  11. Celsius 233 permalink
    March 12, 2012

    And then there was; No Gun Ri in Korea:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Gun_Ri
    And; My Lai:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre

    We’ve been living these lies since 1492/1620; and that’s just America…
    We so, don’t get it, and seemingly never will…

  12. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 12, 2012

    Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 [sic - ©1987] is a fair synopsis of modern era history as it relates to economics and military hegemony of world empires. Each power sought and attained empire (economic wealth) and also failed through the military demands of providing security and maintenance of that empire, creating unsustainable debts for whatever ruling elite. The “American Empire”, exceptional as it is, is no exception to this trajectory. These words fall on deaf ears, ruled by closed minds. Enjoy the spectacle, you are paying for it, with your future.

  13. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 12, 2012

    Another history by Eugene Rogan The Arabs, A History (ISBN 978-0-141-02469-1) also details the rise of the Ottoman Empire, its wealth and its sources, and how it was dismembered by European powers through a combination of created financial debt and military means used to collect debt. Debt made the Ottoman Empire the “sick man of Europe” well before its ultimate collapse during the Great War. Again an empire’s requirement for security and maintenance created unsustainable debt and its eventual end. This is a song that is sung so repeatedly that the tune and lyrics are no longer heard.

  14. someofparts permalink
    March 12, 2012

    Well, that perspective makes sense looking at it from the inside too. Being in this country and seeing what we do and concern ourselves with every day, this is clearly not a population able or willing to do anything sane or functional. It feels like living in communities run by children who forgot to take their meds. A website that lists the weekly actions of our state legislature reads like it was written by the damn Onion. Confederacy II, the Sequel.

  15. Celsius 233 permalink
    March 12, 2012

    someofparts
    March 12, 2012
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Your post brings to mind a quote from Tennessee Williams in his, “Suddenly Last Summer”;

    ‘We’re all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying to spell God’s name with the wrong alphabet blocks!

    That pretty well sums it up, IMO. Cheers.

  16. Celsius 233 permalink
    March 12, 2012

    ^ I should add that the above has also been attributed to Edwin Arlington Robinson; who is the original one I got this from. I haven’t been able to sort it…

  17. March 12, 2012

    Ian, I guess you know that the San Antonio newspaper link is broken. I’ve been looking for a cached version of it all over the web, so far with no luck. Even blogs and other sites that re-posted it now have broken links. Don’t know if it was considered too graphic and family members requested it be scrubbed or what.

    Here’s the closest cached link I can find:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:NXFjbmm77zUJ:story.texasguardian.com/index.php/ct/9/cid/42acbe017a594c30/id/18361910/+%22family+fears+son+knew+real+horror+of+war%22&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

  18. tom allen permalink
    March 12, 2012

    Holy shit, Growth Factor. Wow. Hondros was like … my brother’s age. Shit.

  19. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 12, 2012

    The third history is Edmund De Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes, A Hidden Inheritance (ISBN 978-0-099-53955-1). This is a multi-generational story of a remarkable family’s journey through history told by an heir who fleshes out the bones of his ancestors, their lives, their times (worth reading just for that) and ultimately how fragile the hold is, despite wealth and power, when faced with inevitable change when empires fall.

    The first History was an overview of the raise and fall of power from the inception of the modern era, relating both power and wealth to the success then failure of the empires the wealth and power spawned.

    The second History is a narrowed focus on the Ottoman Empire that became hegemonic to the spread of Islam by the Arabic peoples, and notably how that empire was dismembered piece by piece by European powers. The austerity being imposed on Greece is just a continuation of devices used to render the Ottoman Empire’s resources to European possession.

    The third History is sharply focused on one banking family with the background of 19th and 20th century Europe and the waltzes and collapse of empires contained, how wealth and power become ephemeral at the end of the day.

    Together these Histories mark out a process, and provide a loci which has utility in facing the modern urgencies and pressing demands being faced in today’s crisis world. Not only is the reading rewarding in itself, the substance of these books provides a wealth of information about the past but most importantly it preserves an unparalleled example of the human experience.

  20. dougR permalink
    March 12, 2012

    More on Chris Hondros: I attended the Broadway production of Donald Margulies’ play “Time Stands Still,” about a fictional photographer injured by an explosion while covering the war in Iraq. Chris was part of a “talkback” after the play, one of three freelance photojournalists who discussed their work. He was funny, self-deprecating, very smart and genuine, and very wise about his work, and I was very sad to learn (last week) of his death in 2011. In the discussion, he tended to downplay the bravery required to take the kinds of pictures he took, but his courage makes the current crop of warhawks look like feckless, soulless sub-kindergarten bullies. His website, http://www.chrishondros.com, has a selection of his photographs that indelibly convey the true “glories” of war, and I wish they were more widely seen.

  21. bob mcmanus permalink
    March 12, 2012

    Understanding that by “Empire” I don’t mean a national or American empire but an international collation of Oligarchs with most but not all enduring families serviced by a technocratic elite…what would it look like when Empire wins? Forever? When resistance is not merely futile, but barely thinkable?

    Bacevich was over at FDL a while, talking about the “American decline” and I’m thinking over my lifetime, what, America, as in the ruling economic elites, have so much LESS power and influence than they had 1965-1975? Nixon could not and would not, have invaded Iraq in 1973. WTF is Bacevich looking at?

    A successful Empire will look like Peace. There will be no need of an army because the provinces will be quiescent. The difference this time is that are no more barbarians at gates, no more “outside.” (This is why I am studying the Shogunate)

    I doubt that we will love it near the beginning, but maybe we will learn to love it.

  22. QQwerty permalink
    March 12, 2012

    Bacevich was over at FDL a while, talking about the “American decline” and I’m thinking over my lifetime, what, America, as in the ruling economic elites, have so much LESS power and influence than they had 1965-1975? Nixon could not and would not, have invaded Iraq in 1973. WTF is Bacevich looking at?

    Sandbagging, we’ve been getting a non-stop barrage of it since 2001. Why resist an empire if it doesn’t exist? Go back to sleep…go back to sleep…

  23. Ian Welsh permalink*
    March 13, 2012

    Thanks Lisa.

  24. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 13, 2012

    bob mcmanus, excellent points, and I agree. Many delude themselves into believing that if “America” the Empire can be stopped and/or eliminated, the world will live in peace, or at least be more peaceful. I don’t think that’s any more valid than the Nazis belief that a world without Jews and Jewry would be an Aryan Shangri-La.

    “America” itself is only one part of a much larger problem. “America”, as well as other nation-states, is just one tool in the tool chest of the Plutocracy that reigns supreme. I think many affix their gaze on “America” because it is the latest label fitted to death and destruction, and because it is the devil they know. The Plutocrats want nothing more than the proles not only destroying each other, but calling and clamoring for that destruction. The economic persecution of the great throng of Masses everywhere results in the further concentration of the Plutocracy’s wealth and position. And the Darren Browns of propaganda have otherwise well-meaning people advocating for this persecution and all its noxious consequences and implications. That’s what Death To America will come to mean, and once again, as it’s always been, like the perpetual game of whack-a-mole that it is, the Plutocracy will pop right up out of another hole in perpetuity, until everyone everywhere recognizes what’s truly at the root of this pestilence that has a firm, vice-like death grip on us.

  25. David Kowalski permalink
    March 13, 2012

    It’s just another case of history repeating.

    The run-up to the Spanish-American War bears an eerie parallel to the current period. We had a long period of a stagnant economy, what Krugman calls the Long Recession (1873-1897) capped by a five year slump of double digit unemployment (the Panic of 1893). It was a period when the rich were excessive and overbearing and a Democratic President (Cleveland) called in federal troops to put down strikers.

    Add a war started on false interpretation of a disaster (the sinking of the Maine, 9/11) drummed up by a jingoistic media (hearst’s “yellow press”. Fox News) and an out of touch President who was a tool of corporate bullies (McKinley/Mark Hanna, Bush/Rove) .

    People at the time needed change but trusted neither political party and punished the party in power severely. The election of 1894 turned over a net of 125 out of 357 House seats. When McKinley was elected in 1896, corporate money ran wild to the tune of an unheard of $8 million (vs. $500,000 for Bryant.

    Oh, yes, the “Hollywood” of the day was anti-war . See Mark Twain’s “To the Heathen Sittting in Darkness.” Twain observed IIRC “we will Christianize with dynamite and civilize with the sword.”

  26. guest permalink
    March 13, 2012

    This is my new Standard.

  27. Celsius 233 permalink
    March 15, 2012

    It is in blood that empires, like humans, are born, it is in blood that they die (reprint)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I am reading The Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. My sister brought over the first four books last year, which comprise about 3,300 pages of reading (so far). Books in English are hard to find here; so I tend to read whatever is available. After 100+ pages I finally got “into it” and it has been interesting if not rewarding.
    It highlights our human condition, which we like to elevate to sophisticated levels of understanding and acumen. But, which ultimately fails the definition of “civilized”, and attains the level of barbarism which we have never quite left behind.
    In his first book “The Game of Thrones”, he highlights duplicity, deceit, lies, ego, power, and betrayal.
    I think when all is said and done; it wouldn’t hurt the more thoughtful of us to reflect on our actual behavior. Not the behavior we claim to value and practice, but our actual behavior.
    To claim we hold these values, but our leader do not, is the weakest, lamest, and most dishonest argument we could make. This false claim highlights our true denial and irresponsibility.
    We in fact have the very reality we have asked for; that we have acted towards and voted for, in our individual failures as responsible citizens. It is after all, our duty to be informed; but it is this very duty in which we have failed.
    Martin uses time to distance us from today; but it is/could be, a primer for today.
    Damn, I wish (got to stop that) we could be different; but we’re not; all things must flow from that.

  28. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 15, 2012

    But, which ultimately fails the definition of “civilized”, and attains the level of barbarism which we have never quite left behind.

    Horse Manure. Yet again “Civilization” is let off the hook and a scapegoat is found for its follies and foibles. Civilization is what we are observing and commenting about here. This is it, in all its infinite glory. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. This is as good as it gets for “Civilization.” Quit blaming Barbarism and Human Nature. Start blaming the system referred to as “Civilization.” It’s a crappy system. Humans need a new way. “Civilization” is not the way. It is the end of us as a species if we keep on with it until our last dying breath.

  29. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 15, 2012

    Horse Manure. Yet again “Civilization” is let off the hook and a scapegoat is found for its follies and foibles. Civilization is what we are observing and commenting about here. This is it, in all its infinite glory. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. This is as good as it gets for “Civilization.” Quit blaming Barbarism and Human Nature. Start blaming the system referred to as “Civilization.” It’s a crappy system. Humans need a new way. “Civilization” is not the way. It is the end of us as a species if we keep on with it until our last dying breath.

    The Lord of the Flies has opined

  30. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 15, 2012

    FTB prefers that some poor slob(s) toil in the mud so that he can enjoy his philosophy handed down through the ages. It’s not an acceptable tradeoff. It’s not a tolerable tradeoff. In a proper system, it wouldn’t be a tradeoff.

    I know, I know, it’s more complicated than that, and so back to the drawing board they go, forever divining clever new rationalizations and justifications for the perpetuation of the mess that is “Civilization.”

  31. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 15, 2012

    I love this headline from Bloomberg. It intimates/implies that an Obama second term is a fait accompli. It’s been ordained from on high. The campaign is a Freak Show for the mass-produced potato heads.

    Obama’s Second Term To-Do List Positioned to Out-Regulate Bush

    HaHa, out-regulate Bush. Bush was such a regulator, how could anyone out-regulate the ultimate regulator? Of course, it’s us Little People who will be regulated, because we all know, when it comes to regulation, Corporations are conveniently no longer people.

  32. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 15, 2012

    Morocco Bama PERMALINK
    March 15, 2012
    FTB prefers that some poor slob(s) toil in the mud so that he can enjoy his philosophy handed down through the ages. It’s not an acceptable tradeoff. It’s not a tolerable tradeoff. In a proper system, it wouldn’t be a tradeoff.

    Hey jackass, please link to where you can quote me saying what you allege. You can’t, can you jackass. All you can do is leave a trail of cheeto dust after you, jackass. Bray away, jackass.

  33. Celsius 233 permalink
    March 15, 2012

    Formerly T-Bear
    March 15, 2012
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Almost 2 days with no posts; yet within 1 hour of my posting, the other is hot on it with his gibberish.
    Apparently he is the new mod here, setting the standards for spewing garbage and other assorted rubbish.
    I like jackasses; they are amazing animals; please don’t slight them. Cheers.

  34. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 16, 2012

    AN ACT OF WAR

    Crucial payment hub severs ties with Tehran

    Financial group vital for oil transactions makes unprecedented move to disconnect Iranian banks blacklisted by EU.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/03/2012315174035470434.html

    The EU, has just declared war on Iran. Blockade is an act of war. Economic blockade is no different.

    When one cannot solve the internal problems, create external ones instead. (governance 101)

  35. Celsius 233 permalink
    March 16, 2012

    “Blockade is an act of war. Economic blockade is no different.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The lead-up to the war with Japan was not greatly different.
    We do seem to have a penchant for crafting paths to war…

  36. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 16, 2012

    When one cannot solve the internal problems, create external ones instead.

    “Cannot” is not even up for consideration. The appropriate word is “won’t.” The discussion should center around why “one” won’t. There appears to be no intention whatsoever of solving the “internal problems” and maybe that’s because in certain circles, they’re not problems at all. In those circles the perspective may be, and most likely is, quite different from our limited perspective based off of limited information.

  37. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 16, 2012

    Yeah, because Japan was just this innocent little island country that just wanted to be left alone, and we forced it to attack us. I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that, and comparing the current conflict brewing with Iran to the conflict brewing with Japan is not an adequate or fair comparison. For starters, Iran, to me at least, doesn’t have Imperialistic aspirations. That is quite distinct from Japan prior to World War II. I’m not disputing the strong possibility that the U.S. gave Japan that nudge it needed to attack the U.S., but let’s face it, Japan was a rabid dog ready to suck everything up in its path, the U.S. included if it got in its way.

  38. Celsius 233 permalink
    March 16, 2012

    Morocco Bama PERMALINK
    March 16, 2012
    Yeah, because Japan was just this innocent little island country that just wanted to be left alone, and we forced it to attack us.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    First; I didn’t say that or anything close to that!
    You would be well served to stop acting/replying emotionally. If you did a modicum of research; it might wash away your arrogance of thinking you know.
    You petulant child! I’ll never reply to another of your irrational rants; you have proved your worth…

  39. March 16, 2012

    @Morocco – seriously, you have good things to say. For example, I agree what you said above about the fallacy of “civilization.”

    But then you have to go and couch it in a language that amounts to an emotional non sequitar. Inflaming memories of battles past.

  40. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 16, 2012

    Petro, show me where I called anyone a name. On the contrary, I’ve been called a jackass, a petulant child and worthless, and you now have the gall to call me out? Unlike the other two, I addressed their comments and elaborated. There is nothing emotional in my comments. The reaction to them is what’s emotional, so point the finger elsewhere.

    So tell me, Petro, you would have it as a rule that we can’t disagree with someone’s comments? When I responded to the other two, I addressed their comments. I thought that one sentence of Celsius’ was horse manure, so I called it that. I didn’t call Celsius horse manure. Would you have Ian tone himself down and refrain from hyperbole? I would hope not. I love it when Ian calls things and people out, and he doesn’t couch it. If he did, I would probably have never given his site another look, because he would melt into the blogpaper. As it is, he stands out precisely because he doesn’t pull any punches. I couldn’t care less about any “past battles.” I respond to what is written, not to who writes it. The other two are personalizing it. Perhaps they shouldn’t.

    Who’s moderating who?

  41. March 16, 2012

    MB – you just disagreed with me without saying a single offensive thing towards me (and it is appreciated). So, I know you can do it.

    Pointing at others’ misbehavior in order to justify one’s own is pretty weak, and you know it. I’m not about to become the thread’s “scold troll,” anyway. Please take it as a compliment (and signal of affection) that I (reluctantly) mentioned it to you.

  42. March 16, 2012

    To deliberately distract from my unfortunate foray into Ms. Manners-dom, allow me to blog-whore. From my poetic, neo-Colombian ex-pat friend (regarding the recent Goldman-Sachs kerfluffle):

    So, Mr. Smith leaves in a flurry hacking at the branches of evil, but does not even come close to striking a single root! The good old “change of heart” that Orwell detested so deeply. What is the root that Mr. Smith missed with his axe, assisted by the NYT?… This reality fully came home to me while living in Colombia…

    …I saw a man pulling a heavy cart with little skate board type metal wheels up a street that was slightly uphill. He was struggling under the heavy load of cooking equipment. He was probably around 45 or 50 years old and was as thin as the air. I turned to Joaquin and stated that in the US, this man would be considered a bum and a loser. He looked at me in complete shock and horror. As his eyes began to show tears, he asked me, “Why do the Americans hate the poor?” I answered that we hate them because we are deeply afraid of them. That we are afraid of becoming one of them. Afraid of being labeled a bum and a loser. Americans only love winners. To be poor in America means not to exist. A life of attacks by the police and used by politicians for political gain. A life inside prisons and the fraudulent justice system as well as in red lined slums and rural hell.

    Dispatch From Colombia: Fear And Greed

  43. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    March 16, 2012

    Nice try Jackass, you still have not linked to where you identify my saying what you allege I said. You are nothing but a juvenile jackass and you will remain so all your life. Nothing you have ever said comes from yourself, it is always purloined, the work and words of others, that makes you a thief as well. Might as well throw in dishonest, with yourself as with others. About the only thing that will possibly be said about you is that somehow you discovered the springs of eternal youth, you never matriculated to 8th grade level of maturity. If you don’t want to be considered a jackass, it is simple. don’t be one – grow up.

  44. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 16, 2012

    Nice try Jackass, you still have not linked to where you identify my saying what you allege I said.

    I never alleged anything. I merely extrapolated based off of your representation here. If the extrapolation is incorrect, please correct it, rather than flogging the air as you are apt to do.

    You are nothing but a juvenile jackass and you will remain so all your life.

    Empowerment’s obviously not your strong suit.

    Nothing you have ever said comes from yourself, it is always purloined, the work and words of others, that makes you a thief as well.

    I think the same could be said of anyone who thinks deeply about matters and conveys that thinking. It’s all borrowed in some sense. It does reflect your authoritarianism though. That’s the problem with autodidacts like yourself. It’s difficult for them to think on their own. They must bury themselves in their books and quote them, and link to them, incessantly, because they’re incapable of thinking for themselves. They can’t grasp that people can arrive at the same point independently in the thought process, and so they must accuse others of thievery, when in actuality, the paths to that point were mutually exclusive if you rule out the Jungian Collective Unconscious.

    you never matriculated to 8th grade level of maturity

    I’m curious. Why did you choose 8th grade? Seriously, you could have chosen any number of grades, yet you chose 8th…instead of say, 1st grade. In that sense, you’re being quite generous. I always knew there was a soft side to you…hence the T-Bear reference.

    grow up.

    Never.

    You are cute, T-Bear, especially when your angry. I love you, and I enjoy our limited time together here.

  45. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 16, 2012

    Petro, thanks for that link. I share his sentiments and thought the same thing when I saw that latest Goldman Employee piece permeating the blogosphere.

    I know it was a compliment, Petro. I like you and respect you…because it’s a mutual respect. You’ve always been respectful to me, but please, feel free to call something I write horse manure if you’re compelled to…..it’s just thoughts and ideas. I wouldn’t consider you being disrespectful if you didn’t agree with what I wrote, so long as you elaborated on your disagreement.

  46. Ian Welsh permalink*
    March 17, 2012

    Let’s keep it to a dull roar, folks. I really don’t want to have start moderating.

  47. groo permalink
    March 17, 2012


    It is in blood that empires, like humans, are BORN.
    It is in blood that they DIE.

    Ian.
    …It is in blood that empires, like humans, are born.
    It is in blood that they die.

    Beware of false anologies.

    Do’nt want to educate You, far from that.
    You are a most intelligent person.

    But:
    Nearly everything I want to bring to attendance of my son, is:
    WE THINK AND LIVE BY ANALOGIES/METAPHORS.
    There is nearly nothing else.

    It is only good versus bad metaphors we live by embodying them.

    Thank You.

  48. groo permalink
    March 17, 2012

    sorry, double quote.
    Wish there was an edit button somewhere.
    Anyway.

  49. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 17, 2012

    groo, it’s like the fox said, “chaos reigns.”

  50. March 17, 2012

    WE THINK AND LIVE BY ANALOGIES/METAPHORS.
    There is nearly nothing else.

    Interesting that you said “nearly.” I wonder what you meant by that, groo.

    In any case, I’d like to refine that point a bit. I’d say we articulate what we perceive in metaphors. To further complicate things, what we perceive is affected by the metaphors that we have internalized (our world-view.) But there is that state, when we are not “talking” to ourselves (thinking), when we can live outside the metaphor(s).

    The age-old dilemma is, that the result of that can never be articulated, without once again distilling the truth with yet another metaphor.

  51. groo permalink
    March 17, 2012

    Petro,

    my caveat is quite physically grounded.

    What physically hurts ‘me’ is not metaphoric.

    Or say it the other way round:
    If somebody tells you,. that the physical is just a metaphor, it is just like:
    “Do You believe what I say ,or your lying eyes”
    Which is a deep puzzle, invented by the Marx-Brothers.

    Obviously some -ahem- beings- have convinced us, that the physical -as said- is equivalent to the metaphorical, and not that the One builds upon the Other.
    (Just think of the different manifestations of “money”.)

    Sorry.
    This is a difficult matter, and I probably miss a lot of important points.

  52. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 17, 2012

    Well, it’s at the heart of the process of how we synthesize new information. We compare it to what we already know…..what we’ve observed, experienced and/or encoded up to that point. The benchmarks we use are not always adequate, as groo has noted, and hence our perception and perspective is skewed as a result. We are seemingly awash in a sea of misperception, and maybe that’s all reality is, afterall. It doesn’t exist except for our feeble perception of it. It’s a blank canvas, much like Obama, onto which we project our pathetic grasping.

  53. groo permalink
    March 17, 2012

    Morocco Bama,
    what I think is this:
    we have to be acutelely aware of the ‘basic needs’, according to Maslov and Peter Corning.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Corning.

    Corning acutely elborated on the implications of the basic-needs-approach, which btw is part of the declaration of human rights of the Un-charta.

    Corning is one of the most insightful persons I can think of.
    I myself come from a similar background, which is second order biological cybernetics.
    But never mind. Corning says it all.
    It is a pity that Corning is getting old. Must be over 80 now. Which gives me a heart-hurt.
    And nobody carries the torch.

  54. March 17, 2012

    Thanks, groo – it was an honest question, and your answer was clarifying.

  55. March 18, 2012

    Peter Corning disentangling empathy and fairness:

    Peter Corning Replies to “Limits of Empathy” By David Brooks, NY Times: Interview by Edwin Rutsch (Oct. 2011)

  56. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 18, 2012

    Here’s a link to something he wrote about the recent Goldman drama per the NYT. Something doesn’t smell right about this. It’s almost as though it’s controlled negative publicity in order to avert even more uncontrollable negative publicity, and if that’s the case, Corning is complicit in it, wittingly or unwittingly. Either way, he’s ultimately an apologist for this system and he appears to want to salvage it through rehabilitation by harkening back to some mythical point in the past when things were more fair and empathic. I find this astonishing considering this individual has been involved in Systems Theory. Notice that he harps on about how fair the markets used to be and he conjures Adam Smith. There is no possible way we can get to that point, and considering the energy and effort that would be required, that energy and effort would better be used to rid ourselves of this current system and move on with another, or else we will just set ourselves for more of the same…meaning the ultimate failure of the species.

    http://www.thefairsociety.net/2012/03/and-moral-ismorals-matter.html

    Once upon a time, fair dealing and serving the interests of your clients/customers was the guiding moral principle on Wall Street, even though it was sometimes abused……..

    So, the way out of the woods for Wall Street seems clear. The principle of honest dealing and fiduciary responsibility must be reinstated as a basic moral standard that everyone should adhere to, and this must be backed by tougher and more zealously enforced rules. As Adam Smith himself warned in his earlier work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, everything in a free market depends on a moral foundation of trust and “justice” (not doing “injury” to others). As a Stoic and Christian, he stressed that “There can be no proper motive for hurting our neighbor.”

    Keep in mind, from a systems perspective, this system created this predicament. It’s a rotten system. This is its outcome, and has been its outcome throughout the history of Civilization.

  57. March 18, 2012

    “what would it look like when Empire wins? Forever?”

    Probably a lot like China. Could be worse.

  58. March 18, 2012

    MB – funny, I got the same sense of “good-old-days-ism” in the YouTube interview with Corning I posted, above. (Thanks for your link, BTW.) He actually invoked “the 50′s” as a time of more “fairness” – as a social convention. I understand and agree somewhat with his contention that rules of social conduct that enforce fairness not only do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to a more just society, but also foster an environment where empathetic behavior becomes a more rational, and hence ubiquitous, choice. But in his emphasis on rules – inherently authoritarian at the end of the day – makes him sound more aligned than not with the David Brooks argument he is ostensibly criticizing.

    Not to mention the classic failure that people make when invoking post-WWII prosperity in forgetting the swath of society – women and minorities – that didn’t exactly participate in those salad days in quite the same way…

    While his research and theory is invaluable input if one is to thing about these things seriously, I’m still inclined towards the “moon-batty” idea of promoting empathy as a prime mover, myself. New consciousness and all.

  59. March 18, 2012

    …*think about these things seriously…

  60. groo permalink
    March 21, 2012


    It is in blood that empires, like humans, are born, it is in blood that they die

    This sounds like a universal law.

    But beware!
    It tries to bind via analogy birth and death of individuals to that of empires.
    Now the blood at birth is that of the mother.
    So far so good.
    Maybe the analogy still holds.
    But the mother normally survives and takes care of the child.
    Birth is a cooperative process.

    The death of an individual must not be bloody, right?
    More often than not we die a peaceful death, and not in a fight, right?

    On the side of empires, there is no law of necessity either.
    Two recent examples:
    a) the British Empire had a slow demise.
    b) the Soviet Union did not end in blood, but by decisions of Gorbachev.

    Because of the potential power of the metaphoric connection, morphing into kind of a law, we should be careful.

    As a law of history, it is incorrect.

    In the tedious process we call history, it is predominantly the leaders, and the selection process, how they got there, which determine the fate of empires.

    After the fact, as much as possible of the blame is rolled over to the footsoldiers, in case of a negative outcome.
    Which does not always succeed.

    So what are we talking about?

  61. Ian Welsh permalink*
    March 21, 2012

    WWI and II were decisive in the destruction of the British Empire. Afghanistan played a huge role in the end of the USSR. Next.

  62. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 22, 2012

    Well, they were more like the final acts in those Empire’s grand plays. Both were in their death knells before those conflicts and those conflicts sealed their already determined fate. The problem with both is that they weren’t annihilated like Germany in WWII. They weren’t proper defeats, and so like an old overgrown forest that can no longer renew itself, its last breaths, its last death rattles, malinger for what seems an eternity, wallowing in dull, unabashed mediocrity until one day, like the Roman Empire, it exists no longer, but because the process was so uneventfully belabored, no one noticed, and history cannot record a definitive time stamp for its ultimate demise.

    Sure, Empires live and die, some deaths more prolonged, and some more pronounced, but Empire lives on because like Poa Annua it spreads its infinite supply of seeds seemingly everywhere, so that when it appears to be killed off in one place, it simply rises in another, and yet, the seeds rarely, if ever, get noticed, and so on it goes until Humankind exists no more and the multiverse is spared……for now.

  63. groo permalink
    March 22, 2012

    Ok, I try to elaborate.

    What an empire is, has a definitional aspect, and a post-factum-aspect, amongst some others.

    One central definition is: -dominance over the known world-.
    This may have applied to Alexander the Great,
    The Roman Empire,
    ancient Chinese Empire,
    South American Aztecs (strictly confined to South-America),
    the British,
    the US-Americans.

    Most of those ‘empires’ had an antagonist.

    So the question could be:
    Do ‘empires’ with necessity ‘die’ fighting, with streams of blood?
    No. Typically not.

    Forget Hitler and Nazi-Germany, where the leaders actually decided to die in blood.
    But this is an atypical case.

    ‘Empires’ typically die of exhaustion, –see the British debt-problem in the 1930s — and one could with equal right argue, that ‘empires’ die by surrender to a parasite –the terrorists–, or simply by its inner contradictions, eg the predatory class, which lost the cause.

    Amen.

  64. March 22, 2012

    The meditation on Empire that this thread has become compels me to point out that John Michael Greer of The Archdruid Report is in the midst of some essays on this very subject. I’m enjoying them, so I thought I’d share (links below).

    I agree with JMG, where he posits that empires decline when the cost of maintaining it’s peripheral presence outstrips the wealth being extracted (if I may so crudely distill a point of his). Tainter says it happens when a key resource is exhausted… which, to me, is really another way of saying the same thing.

    The goods:

    The Nature of Empire (2012/02/15)
    The Structure of Empires (2012/02/22)
    The Trajectory of Empires (2012/02/29)
    America: Origins of an Empire (2012/02/07)
    America: Modes of Expansion (2012/02/14)
    America: Crossing the Line (2012/02/21)
    series to continue…

  65. groo permalink
    March 23, 2012

    Ian’s ‘reprint’ made me thinking.

    Not so much about empires, but about power structures in small or medium sized countries.
    North-Korea. Well. Iran. Well.
    An interesting case is Myanmar, and Luc Besson’s film about Aung San Suu Kyi, the dissident woman, who would be president of the state, if the will of the people were respected.
    Besson’s film is ‘The Lady’, and hits a nerve.

    The interesting aspect is, that it tells us something about power-structures and its opposition.
    a) a military junta, backed a peer: here: China
    b) the will of the people, which scatters on a spectrum of sympathy/aversion, where ‘sympathy’ can be bought, aversion NOT.
    c) (b)’s manifestation in opposing leadership figures

    This can be generalized by slight variations.
    The ingredients are:
    - a fear of loss (both parties)
    - a sense of power (both parties)
    - a belief system

    Which have to be shaped by the PTB, as well as by +the opposition.

    Now neither Myanmar nor North Korea nor Iran are empire-like.
    In Toynbees words they are inbreededing societies, basically self-content.

    Outbreeding societies qualify as ‘empire’.
    The US, Britain, 16th century Spain, Nazi-Germany.
    In different mixtures.
    (For Toynbee ancient Egypt was the archetypal inbreeding society, which upon closer look it was not. But the basic picture holds. Ancient Egypt was centered on the Nile, because their belief-system constrained them on this life-stream. This is different from eg the Greek or the Romans, who had a totally different view of land and sea.)

    Eg Nazi-Germany had a substantial inbreeding aspect, which was racial purity , and the outbreeding component was ‘Lebensraum’, or ‘Volk ohne Raum’ (a people without space).
    This is enforced by a BELIEF-SYSTEM, which is carefully honed by the PTB.

    Contemporary US has a strange DNA, which is the belief, that it is the New Jerusalem, which is relabelled by its NATO-allies as promoting ‘democracy’.
    This is the common ‘belief’.

    You people here are insightful enough, that I must not elaborate on the consequences.

  66. Ian Welsh permalink*
    March 23, 2012

    Yes Petro empires tend to end when they can’t support the costs of empire. However, there is almost always a war that pushes things over the edge. Not always, but very very often. A sharp shock to the system reveals that the empire is hollow and poor, not rich. Absent those pushes, they can go on for a loooongggg time even though hollow.

    I certainly don’t disagree that nations rot from inside. I simply make the point that there is often a sharp push that comes near or at the end.

    There are exceptions. Sometimes barbarians just overrun a nation which was still pretty tough. The Mongols are a good example, some of the nations they destroyed were not weak or poor. (Mongols, in their heyday, moved far faster than WWII tank columns with far less supply requirements and engaged in coordinated offensives over hundreds of miles. There has probably never been a more dominant army in it’s own time. The German High Command studied them when developing Blitzkrieg, actually.)

    The US is no longer capable of a WWII style push, because it no longer has the rivers of black gold required, and it is, deliberately, no longer a mobilization society. Republics with mercenary armies never stay republics for all that long, and the US has been no exception.

  67. March 23, 2012

    And directly to your point, Ian – my “prediction” is that if we take the bait and actually engage Iran, that will be the “sharp shock to the system” that will do it for us, IMO.

  68. groo permalink
    March 24, 2012

    well, Ian, somehow we seem to converge on the issue.

    It is not that empires are some bloodthirsty entities, which ultimately have to swallow their own medicine, but that there are several factions:

    a) the leaders who invent and cultivate a doctrine of power
    b) the soldiers/followers who swallow the doctrine and physically execute it.

    Interestingly enough, physical involvement of the leaders in battles existed in the past, but not in the last 100 years anymore.
    At least one remotely can believe in such a leader is long past, that his physical existence is, where his mouth/belief -however strange, to be sure- is.

    Religious leaders are more reluctant still.
    This is known for thousands of years.
    Mohammed maybe has been the last one, who was physically involved.
    The popes never did.

    About the worldly leaders:
    Think of Homer’s Iliad. It basically says it all.
    They typically hide behind the scene, and Achill and Hector did the -ahem- dirty work of dying, whereas the leaders hide behind a veil of intrigancy.

    So what to do?
    Expose the myth.
    Which only appeals to the already intellectually inclined.
    For the rest this is futile, because they do not understand the nature of the ‘game’.

    We -the thinking lot- can only shift the weights a tiny bit.

    Is it worth the effort?
    Should we engage in more harsh measures?

    I do’nt know.

  69. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 24, 2012

    groo, your last post is why I have said that allowing children to form themselves in appropriate conditions and an appropriate environment that is as free from indoctrination as is possible, is key to any meaningful change short of an annihilating catastrophe that wipes the slate clean.

  70. groo permalink
    March 24, 2012

    Morocco Bama,

    yes, this is a generational isssue.

    I’m afraid we ultimately lost.
    This game of win-some-loose-some went on for so long.

    What we feel now in our bones, is, that this whole thing blows up in a (hyper?-) exponential manner.

    We physically are not used to coping with such a dynamic.

    I even dare not to discuss this with my son, because this would mean immediate capitulation from both sides.
    Which I do’nt want, because his freedom is, to choose the possibilities he sees.

    If I say, that there are none, I keep my mouth shut.
    Quite possibly I’m wrong, because the socalled ‘facts’ are simply that: SILLY INVENTIONS.

  71. groo permalink
    March 24, 2012

    This is a strange song by the Black Keys.
    The question I ask: how the hell do they ‘know’ this?
    Or: how does knowledge connect to feeling?
    I suppose, that they are existentially touched.
    You can easily dismiss the existential essence of this song.
    So let’s hear:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrmy_Yjc4Ik
    ###########

    Alright
    Yeah
    Well now
    I must admit
    I cant explain
    Any of these thoughts
    Racing through my brain
    Its true
    Baby Im howlin for you
    Alright
    There’s something wrong
    With this plot
    The actors here
    Have not got
    A clue
    Baby Im howlin for you
    Da da da da
    Mocking Bird
    Can’t you see?
    Little girls
    Gotta hold on me
    Like glue
    Baby Im howlin for you
    Yeah
    Throw the ball
    To the stick
    Swing and miss
    And catchers mitt
    Strike Two
    Baby Im howlin for you
    Yeah

    ——-
    because of a lack of another term I call this diffuse semantics, which means, that something is expressed in an imprecise context, or web of meanings.
    We are all mired into that.
    We cannot express exactly what this is all about.
    If we could, we probably would be dead.

  72. groo permalink
    March 24, 2012

    This is Ani DiFranco:
    “Which side are You on?”

    it’s a Pete Seeger song, but goes back to Florence Reece , in the 1930s.

    What a woman!

    Enjoy
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzQ-n4RLMC4

  73. groo permalink
    March 24, 2012

    This is Patti Smith: ‘Radio Baghdad’
    One other admirable woman.

    “WE INVENTED THE ZERO, THE PERFECT NUMBER, BUT WE MEAN NOTHING TO YOU”
    Here she gets quite angry. Rightly so.

    But as the the poet she is, she does not recognize the power structure underlying mesopotamian culture, which was the same as it ever was.

    Sadly, the song is not available in the net. It is impressive and deeply humanistic, but historically wrong.
    But, in a metaphorical sense it is correct.

  74. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 26, 2012

    Excellent analysis here about the true state of affairs of the economy as viewed through the lens of unemployment.

    http://danielamerman.com/articles/2012/WorkC.html

  75. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 29, 2012

    Juxtapose the analysis I linked to in the previous post with this obvious propaganda from Bloomberg. Lying with impunity. It’s Pravda with Bells and Whistles.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-29/u-s-jobless-claims-fell-last-week-to-lowest-since-april-2008.html

    The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in almost four years, adding to evidence of an improving U.S. labor market.

    Initial jobless claims fell 5,000 in the week ended March 24 to 359,000, the lowest since April 2008, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for 350,000 claims. With the report, the government data also contain revisions dating back to 2007.

    Companies are retaining workers and hiring as sales pick up along with confidence in the expansion. The pace of employment has gained momentum in the past three months, helping drive income growth that may ease the strain of higher gasoline prices.

    This is sickening and an insult to all the people who can’t find work and who continue to lose jobs at an ever increasing rate. Not to mention the strain on those who still have jobs. Many of my family members who possess mid-level positions are being crushed with a workload they cannot possibly complete. I believe it will kill my older brother. He is already unhealthy, and no doubt, Walmart will push him over the edge. I’m sure they have dead peasant insurance on him. I can’t even talk to my brothers and sisters any longer. They have no time, and when you do talk, they are so frantic and fraught with anxiety, it’s as though they’re insane. They can’t handle any little thing in their personal lives because they’re giving everything to corporations who dump them in the gutter when they’ve sucked their souls dry. You think they would have learned from my father, and our oldest sister….and from me, a middle child, what the corporate world will do to you, and why you should not give it one ounce of your lifeblood.

  76. March 29, 2012

    …what the corporate world will do to you, and why you should not give it one ounce of your lifeblood.

    Amen, brother.

  77. groo permalink
    March 30, 2012

    Petro, Morocco Bama,

    Just a question:
    Is there anybody as satirical and sharp nowadays like George Carlin?

    I do not mean the likes of Bill Maher or Jon Stewart.
    Those are media clowns.

    Phil Rockstroh comes to mind. but he is far out on the fringe.
    I mean. REAL dissidents, who are widely heard?

    And please not Dylan. The more I here him, the more I suspect, that its dubiuos, what he is all about.

    Just asking.

  78. Morocco Bama permalink
    March 30, 2012

    groo, Lewis Black had promise, but I don’t believe he’s living up to his potential. Carlin seemed more politically neutral than Black. I believe Carlin had more Libertarian leanings, whereas, Black is an obvious Liberal. However, Black can’t touch Carlin, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m hard-pressed to find someone with the satirical wit of Carlin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mCDZMWVWuc

    I hear you about Dylan. He proved himself with this commercial. I showed it to one of his fans on another forum and they rationalized it by saying “artists have to eat.” Whatever!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRT7EFoWpZ4

  79. March 30, 2012

    Lewis Black almost gets there, but I’ve seen him in dialectical situations and, frankly, he’s not all that bright.

    Definitely Carlin has a libertarian streak, and while most of (highly intelligent) banter rings true, even he gets it wrong sometimes:

    George Carlin on The Environment

    (While I agree with his “we-are-a-pimple-on-a-gnat-in-the-universe” point, which he ultimately pins the above routine on, he’s just a little too glibly dismissive of the responsibility to care for our habitat.)

    MB – That Dylan commercial was repugnant. Woody Guthrie turns in his grave.

  80. March 30, 2012

    (I suppose I should be, um, using the past tense with Carlin.)

  81. groo permalink
    March 31, 2012

    Petro,

    this link You provided
    ‘George Carlin on The Environment’
    Is clearly disturbing.
    To his rescue I would argue that he is ambivalent here.
    Not that he is a libertarian ignorant, but a critic.
    But maybe I miss the point.

    The american belief-system, at least as I see it, easily separates the wellbeing of nature from individualistic ‘pursuit of happiness, and puts it into the baby seat.
    Nature is a bitch, –do’nt know whether Francis Bacon said actually said that or not, and bore more fruit in the home of the brave than in the motherland.

    As to the cynical dissidents, I remembered Mencken, who was possibly as detrimental to the American mind as Ayn Rand.
    There were times I found him enlightening, but read that:
    “Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking.”

    Which is, psychologically spoken, correct, but a wise man would not say that, but knows, that this has some truth in it, and work against it, without ever speaking it out loud.

    Maybe Carlin said that also, but with another tone and intention.
    It is the context, which sets the tone.

    Maybe we lost the art of the mere hinting to the truth through sarcasm, irony, cynicism, whatever, and have to take the bull by its horns.
    Nietzsche was one of those. But was he right?
    Getting older, I more and more doubt it, and wish that he more applied the art of hinting than the sword of accusation.

    It depends on the time, I suppose.
    There are times of subtlety, and times of brutality.

    Just thinking.

  82. groo permalink
    March 31, 2012

    I watched
    George Carlin on ‘Religion and God’

    The framers of the constitution would have had a good laugh, right?

    But the contemporary Santorum’s and Romney’s would not!
    Now is this progress or regress?
    The simple argument to decide upon that would be -well- logic.

    What the american people decided upon, is plain and simple:
    Abandon logic , because this affords them for a short period of time to maintain their dangerous illusion of superiority.

    Because of what?
    An accumulation of deadly weapons, which allows them to maintain them their delusions for a limitid time.

    A colleague of mine, who regularly visits Arizona, because he goes to LBT at Mount Graham, tells me horror stories of fat people down in Tucson at the Wal-Mart there.
    So what does this tell us?
    Nothing at first.
    You have to decode it.
    How did those people get there in the first place?
    2nd. How do they rationalize their condition?
    Well. ‘Fox News’ is their first media outlet, to rationalize why they are what they are. Nothing new here. This is completely consistent.

    Ofcourse this is a metaphor, and it is NOT about fat people at all, but the conditions, a sick society constructs, to make itself self-defeating, which it does not intentionally, but ultimately does, without being aware.
    And one wonders about this: How can a society knowingly self-destruct?
    The puzzle can be resolved by the introduction of a second level, which is, depending on your perspective, an illusion of self-assertment. Anyway. It has the quality of an illusion of grandeur. This illusion is nourished by thy PTB, which conveniently hides behind this carefully crafted illusion, to maintain their castles in the cloud.
    These castles (in the sand, sky, whatever) can only be maintained by the belief of the rest of us.

    OK
    ———–
    Please argue against that.
    I try to counter Your arguments.

  83. March 31, 2012

    groo -

    Well in all fairness Carlin was a comedian, an entertainer who, coming up in the ’60′s and ’70′s with the likes of Bruce, Pryor & Martin when it was considered de rigueur to do sharp political and social commentary. He was one of the smartest, but criticism leveled from that format requires drawing with some pretty fat crayons in order to make a living at it.

    Your question about whether we’ve come to a point where “hinting” and making oblique feints at our ills is effective is an interesting one. I’m not sure if that form really works at all unless a population is relatively content and is willing to take a few barbs for laughs -and even then I doubt if it effective at anything other than filling seats. I don’t take that to mean that the “sword of accusation” would be more helpful.

    Perhaps the whole technique of placing oneself above what one criticizes is bankrupt. I think that this framing has more of a message than what is being said – the audience likes to be transported to that place and laugh and point along with the critic/comic. It never translates into self-reflection after they file out and make their ways home.

    The only effective question is “What is wrong with me?” – and that don’t sell tickets.

    So, not to belabor the point, but these smart Bill Maher and Joe Rogan types are, with little or no self-awareness, catapulting an individualistic/superiority meme that drowns out the very astute observations that they make.

  84. March 31, 2012

    As for the framers of the constitution and the question of progress/regress – I’ve come to believe that the firewall that they put up against a true democracy (representative Republic), and the encoding of private property into our charter was a bigger poison pill than perhaps they realized. It is the doom of this country – Manifest Destiny, imperialistic pursuits, capitalism itself – these all spring from those enabling facts. So I would call it progress – as in coming-home-to-roost progress.

  85. March 31, 2012

    On Wal-Mart Nation: Reality is hard for these people that mentally reside in the hologram of television and popular culture. You can just see them occasionally peeping out, and upon catching a glimpse of the approaching tsunami you can hardly blame them for switching back to Sports Center and cranking up the volume a little bit more.

    I guess I’m not in the best of moods today. I was “treated” to dinner last night, at one of those phony theme-based bar/restaurants with no less than twenty big-screen televisions encircling the patio where we ate (a lovely Phoenix evening), all waving and shouting for my attention. While I could barely choke down my tacos, I could still feel the siren song of escape… if only I could just quit being so serious and just enjoy it, just fall back into the hologram… it’s pretty and shiny…

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