New Cellphone-Friendly Format; New Approach; My Promise I'll No Longer Resist Writing About Politics
13 May 2023
FIRST, MY APOLOGY FOR AN UNAPOLOGETIC CONCLUSION: As regular readers know, I have struggled for some time – years, actually – with my desire to move this blog “beyond” politics, with the explanation for my sarcasm quotes in this passage's concluding paragraph. I was motivated by the psychological nausea inflicted by the fact today’s politics are overwhelmingly those of the relentless capitalism-inflicted apocalypse, utterly hopeless and therefore infinitely depressing, a condition for which I had hoped to evolve textual and photographic antidotes for myself that would also serve those of you who regularly read this blog.
But now at long last I realize there are three reasons I cannot – indeed could never – do as I wanted. Each is existential. One is that a political journalist – no more, no less – is what I am. As a member of the working press, politics was what I thought about and wrote about most often. Two is that in the privacy of my own thoughts, and sometimes in revealing conversations with lovers or closest friends, I admitted I conceived of politics in the broadest possible socioeconomic sense, as for viewing crime as the consequences both of our national ethos of self-obsessed of moral imbecility and of the desperate poverty resulting from the deliberately murderous systemic malfeasance that ultimately defines capitalism as a form of nazism. By my late 20s I had come to recognize capitalism as the direct offspring of patriarchy, which in turn I had come to recognize as our species’ methodically ecogenocidal war against our Mother Earth, thus a suicide pact – and thus too an ultimately unnatural act, the one truly mortal sin that not only dooms us all but seeks to exterminate all other life (and even the possibility of life) as well. Three – of course (and with heartfelt thanks both to my Marxian father and the maternal aunt who was mindful both spiritually and intellectually) – is that I was long ago awakened to the necessity of not just socioeconomic revolution but metaphysical and aesthetic revolution as well. Though as a member of the working press what I most often wrote about was not the disease of patriarchy but immediate examples of its diverse symptoms, I realize now I have somehow been granted the freedom to do both simultaneously -- that is, to put the symptoms in their proper context (which was the ultimate purpose of the photographic and textual revelations of anti-patriarchal rebellion that were the conceptual backbone of the burned and forever-lost “Glimpses of a Pale Dancer”) -- and that I have been working toward an analogous clarification-of-post-fire-purpose throughout a retirement that at age 83 has already extended, seemingly as if by magick, far longer than ever I expected to live.
While the thinking outlined above began in my childhood, its present form owes a great deal to the Gaia Hypothesis, which restates in scientific terms the core belief of our pre-patriarchal ancestors and cousins, amongst them the First Nations peoples, that our planet is herself a living being, “conscious and self-regulating.” Thus I have come to recognize patriarchy as total war against all being and the present USian plague of mass shootings not only as a microcosm of the Empire’s definitively nazi policy of massive retaliation, but – exactly as in Islamic suicide bombings – a microcosmic fulfillment of patriarchy’s terminal misogyny, its intent to assert its alleged supremacy of male over female by literally destroying anything and everything born of Nature. Indeed, the patriarchal intent of destroying the planet to “save” it is ever-more-evident in our Masters’ refusal to act against self-induced terminal climate change.
Which brings us to my promised explanation of the sarcasm quotes around “beyond”: in this darkest of all human ages, there is literally nothing for us, whether as individuals or as a species, “beyond” the mandate for responding to the apocalyptic threat posed by patriarchy. Since politics is either the mechanism by which we rescue ourselves and ensure our species’ survival or the weapon by which we destroy all that is within reach – the notion of anything “beyond” politics is as absurd as the medieval notion of transforming lead into gold. More to the point, now that mere survival has thus become a form of revolutionary defiance, politics is the pivot upon which we live or die, about which I shall henceforth write without apology for anything save the limitations of my own vision.
FORMAT NOTE: I have used Typepad’s catalogue of formats to redesign Dispatches to accommodate reception by cell-phone users. This will transform previously published headlines into text that sometimes either overflows its original spacing or leaves great voids in it and does likewise with previously published photographs, flaws that are anathema to me as a former (award-winning) news-and-picture editor, though after a long delay I have come to accept the resultant graphic ugliness as an unavoidable surrender to present-day technology essential for increased readership.
THREE COMMENT-THREAD POSTS FROM OTHER WEBSITES:
On the debt-limit crisis (and why I am so utterly terrified of its looming consequences): We should fear a “compromise” that sells out seniors, kids, and the disabled.
I am 83 years old, a mostly retired, sometimes award-winning print journalist whose newspaper career began at age 16 in 1956. Since the economic debacle of 2008-2009, which cost me nearly 70 percent of my annual income and forced me into bankruptcy, my sole source of pay has been Social Security.
The most telling lesson of my career is therefore the certain knowledge all USian politicians -- whether members of the "Democratic" (sic) Party or of the "Republican" (sic) Christonazi/Neoconfederate Party -- are slavishly obedient puppets of the plutocracy, wholly owned and controlled by that tiny cabal of obscenely wealthy, fanatically neoliberal aristocrats who rule the United States and its global Empire with the same morally imbecilic omnipotence that hitherto defined only history's most notorious tyrants.
Their core principle -- here stated in the English translation of its original assertion in Hitler's Mein Kampf -- is that anyone too impoverished or disabled to thrive under capitalism is "life unworthy of life." Thus the only real distinction between the Democrats and the Republicans is the extent to which the former are infinitely more skilled at deceiving the Moronic Majority that functions as the national electorate. Thus too neoliberal "austerity," the slow-motion genocide by which our Masters have replaced death camps.
In fact the present crisis is but a repetition of recent history. Barack the Betrayer -- who campaigned successfully on "change we can believe in," the most ruinously brazen lie ever fed the Moronic Majority -- conspired with the Republicans to savage food stamps in 2011, using a carefully choreographed debt-limit fight to disguise the treachery of the "Democratic" (sic) Party, afterward lying to the public he had "saved" food stamps even as he radically cut food stamps for singles and elderly people, slashing my monthly allocation from $130 to $16.
Today's bitterly damning truth is the Democrats refused to raise the debt limit when they had the votes to do so. In other words. they deliberately engineered the present crisis by handing the Christonazis and Neoconfederates the tools to compel whatever socioeconomic savagery our Masters mandate. Despite his lies, Biden the Beguiler is obviously using the same strategy and tactics his predecessor the Betrayer employed.
Thus the political harlots who cater to our Masters' every plutocratic whim cunningly facilitate ever-worsening tyranny even as they dupe the Moronic Majority by preserving the Big Lie -- and that is precisely what it is -- of a troubled but nevertheless still functional democratic republic.
While I have no idea how deliberately murderous the looming socioeconomic savagery will be, experience tells me it will indeed be another step in the .01 Percent's effort to reduce the numbers of the 99.9 Percent, which means it will be as genocidal as our Masters believe they can achieve without sparking actual revolution.
Meanwhile my gratitude to Mr. Eskow for daring tell the truth, and my thanks to LAP for daring publish it.
Ukrainian attack on Kremlin is a criminal provocation
Whether the drone-bombing of the Kremlin is as claimed by the Ukrainians or the Russians, its ultimate message is, again, that the global ruling class believes itself well-enough bunkered to survive not only a chemical, biological and thermonuclear apocalypse but the decade or so of nuclear winter that's bound to follow it.
And given the ongoing ruling-class refusal to take meaningful action against global warming, it is entirely possible our Masters see nuclear winter as the final solution to that problem too.
Meanwhile turncoat Putin's restoration of Russian Orthodoxy is methodically returning the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to Tsarist tyranny, even as the USian Empire -- no doubt following the advice of the legions of Original (N.S.D.A.P.) Nazi war criminals it embraced as comrades-at-arms during and after the final year of World War II -- employs a Jewish puppet to re-nazify the Ukraine.
Exactly as Comrade Zaremba says in her comment, "This attack could get us all killed" -- as in the extermination of the entire global working class and the destruction of Earth as a habitable planet.
Forest Defenders Appear For Preliminary Hearings
Actually -- this in supportive response to mwildfire -- Atlanta is infinitely more malevolent (and therefore infinitely more terrifying) than "an outpost of the Third Reich"; it is instead an embryo of the de facto Fourth Reich, the USian Empire, advised into being c. 1944-1968 by the legions of Nazi war criminals gleefully adopted from the defeated Third Reich and secretly resurrected to far greater ecogenocidal murderousness by the United States government and its capitalist owners.
So advised, the Empire's owners and their governmental vassals have since granted themselves irreversible omnipotence by fully weaponizing technology to fulfill their intent of "full-spectrum dominance" -- conquest of the entire world followed by universal zero-tolerance tyranny enforced by inescapable total surveillance. Their ethos is bottomless sadism and smirking moral imbecility. They will co-opt and exploit all human knowledge, either to fulfill Hitler's dream of subjugating all the peoples of the world or to fulfill the global version of Hitler's final stated wish, for which google Hitler's Nero decree and last will. Thus -- proclaiming of our world as they did of a village in Vietnam, "we had to destroy it to save it" -- they will exterminate our species and reduce our Mother Earth back to a bug planet rather than suffer genuine defeat.
That, my comrades, is the true unmitigated horror of our present circumstances, and that is what the "full-spectrum dominance" of the oppression that is ever-more-appallingly evident in Atlanta should be telling us. But -- alas and to our eventual doom -- far too many of us yet have our heads up that dark and smelly place I dast not mention lest this entire comment be censored.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE: The New York Times Publishes My Correction:
For those who’ve already spent their non-subscriber limit of 10 stories per month or otherwise cannot get past the NYT paywall:
All the four questions are from multiple-choice eighth-grade history tests. The question I addressed is, “Which of the following changes took place in Southern states immediately after the Civil War?”
The choices are:
(1)-Access to education became more available to African American people.
(2)-Most African Americans quickly switched from agricultural work to employment in manufacturing.
(3)-African American women were given the right to vote.
(4)-State governments were required to have African American people in legislative and executive offices.
Though I recognized options 1 and 4 were each correct, I answered option 4 as the more important – and my answer was marked wrong. According to The Times, the only correct answer was option 1.
Hence my comment and the comment in response:
Given my background in history -- a near-lifelong interest and a major part of my interdisciplinary BA -- I would debate the stated correct answer on the history question about the results of the Civil War. While it is indeed true the end of slavery enabled African-Americans legal access to education, it is also true the presence of federal troops throughout the secessionist states compelled the acceptance of African-Americans elected to local, state and federal government. (And of course it is equally true that by withdrawing federal troops in 1877, the U.S. government tacitly endorsed the re-emergence of the genocidal white supremacy that methodically purged African-Americans from the political system and radically curtailed their access to education.)
Loren Bliss (Tacoma, May 3)
@Loren Bliss my first thought was where were these black children going to school in 1866. My own state of Florida had no constitutional requirement for providing education until 1868 and we didn’t fully integrate until 1970. We did have black representation in congress during reconstruction though.
Alexander (Sunshine State, May 3)
As one of my Tacoma comrades said in response, “Good show! No wonder most USians are so ignorant about history. The media continues to peddle fables.”
FICTION, MAYBE AS PROPHECY, working-titled “A Thing So Simple and So Huge,” a first draft of something, of course subject to constant revision:
Source of title:
And when the sand was gone and the time arrived
In the naked dawn only a few survived
And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge
Believed that they were meant to live after the deluge
– Jackson Browne, “Before the Deluge”
THE STORY-KEEPER was awakened by a frighteningly improbable clamor of ravens. His name was Matthew Drusillason; he was a black-bearded, brown-skinned, olive-eyed schoolteacher, a student of theocracy-forbidden subjects, a refugee from the religious wars that yet raged beyond the Dead Lands. Three years ago he had been the sole survivor of a badly crewed sailing vessel fatally overcrowded with desperately hopeful emigrant escapees, a leaky, rot-weakened coaster storm-sunk amidst the always-treacherous rip-tides of the Sailish Sea. The Potlatch People had found him dying on Sanamo Island's Eastward Beach, and when he confessed to them his bewildered astonishment at having been borne to the shallows by a pod of dolphins, they had nursed him back to health with their native medicines and afterward, relishing his unapologetically truthful stories of the tyrannies that characterized Before, they had adopted him both as a tribal member and as the keeper of the newest episodes of their struggle for survival in the relentlessly deadly wake of the Before's attempted murder of the formerly vengeful but now-gradually recovering Mother Earth. His adoption was 14 moons ago; since then, guided by Potlatch teachers, he had learned much of the locale's plants and animals, and for a moment or two, knowing ravens do not ordinarily transform the late-night skies with cacophonies of rage, he thought he was dreaming. But now he realized he was fully awake and the avian uproar he first believed imaginary was in fact happening in reality, and it was occurring at such uncanny loudness it seemed each of the thousand or so ravens he knew dwelt in the island's coniferous forest had taken wing in gratingly loquacious protest. Perhaps he had slept through an earthquake. Perhaps a quake was looming. Perhaps the volcano they called KomaKulsh was again erupting or was about to explode as she was said to have done three decades past. Perhaps a giant tsunami had flooded past the Sailish Sea's mountainous barriers and was coming to drown Sanamo and obliterate all traces of its residents’ already unlikely survival. Ravens, he had learned, are magickal; they are also among the Earth Mother's chosen messengers; they would know of such events long before humans awakened to the dangers. Troubled by an ever-more-compelling sense of incipient disaster, a seasoned veteran of many post-Before horrors and thus haunted by a looming sense of more potentially terminal possibilities than he could envision, Matthew rolled out of his bed, silently cursed the surprising coldness of the early-autumn air, rebuked himself for not having fed an overnight-sized log into the stone fireplace, seized one of the three cherished red wool Before blankets that had warmed his slumber, wrapped his naked flesh against the now-presumed chill of the Fifth Hinge, stepped barefoot onto the stones of the cabin porch and thence into the yet chillier dew-damp grass as the corvid clamor continued and yes grew louder, more insistent, more alarmed and therefore more alarming. The swooping, soaring birds had risen in such numbers they reduced the overhead starlight to fast flickers and darted ominously eerie black silhouettes across the round yellow face of the Three Sisters Moon seasonably low and already sinking beyond her eighth-lunation zenith in the southern sky. He had never seen its like, not even in the vast regional musterings of carrion birds that cleansed the post-apocalyptic battlefields of their reeking gore and stripped to bare-bone heaps of weathering skulls the mounds of severed heads that marked the territorial borders of the warring states beyond the Dead Lands.
Fifty yards from the closely adzed and gray-mud-chinked cedar-log walls of Matthew’s cabin and the clustered, nearly identical dwellings of his immediate neighbors, his fellow Sanamo dwellers were hastily gathering in the village Round, children, adolescents and adults alike, most of the adolescents and adults already visibly armed, all gazing skyward in fearful bewilderment, their upturned faces dimly silhouetted against the slowly waning flicker of the Thanksfire they had kindled to greet the rising moon seven sand-glasses earlier. The Three-Sisters Harvest would begin at dawn today; that’s why the celebration had not continued until sunrise. But why these outraged ravens? What was so dreadfully amiss? No doubt gray-haired Wanda Wolfwise, the Potlatch People’s eldest teacher and the leader of this small band of racially indistinct human survivors, would soon arrive to interpret the ravens' message and – or so Matthew and his gathered neighbors dearly hoped – help them all discern their best options. Now knowing his presence both as story-keeper and warrior was essential, he hastened back inside, exchanged blanket for early-autumn buckskins and elk-hide moccasins, belted on pistols and throwing axe, shrugged into his boomer’s bag, grasped the ancient but meticulously cared-for Before rifle he had been given by the elders as an adoption gift, lifted it off its wooden bedside pegs, donned his woven-reed hat and strode to join his neighbors at the Round. By now nearly everyone of fighting age who dwelt on the island, 203 adults and adolescents, had mustered, bringing their younger children to the safety of the cedar-log parenting hall as the caw, caw, caw continued to fill the night sky, seeming even louder and more grating than before, its alarm so intrusive Wanda had brought a hastily improvised birch-bark megaphone to make herself heard above the din.
“It’s an invasion by rats,” she shouted. "Legions of rats swimming up from the south. Rats riding clusters of flotsam at least as wide as three adult armspans. The rats aboard the debris pushed toward us by as many more rats swimming. And when these rats exhaust themselves in the water, only a few drown; the rest change places with the riding rats. The South Shore Kayak Patrol spotted them, sent a lantern signal to the Shore Watchers, who sent a rider to me. Then the ravens started up. But the rats are still a glass away, which means thanks to our warriors and the ravens, we’ve just enough time to organize a defense. Everybody and all our dogs to the Southward Beach. Get ready to ignite the fire boats. Goddess knows what sickness these rats carry. Goddess help us keep them off our island.”
The ravens continued their enraged denunciations; the Potlatchers did as Wanda directed. Eleven family groups of five or six boomers and as many as 12 archers jogged along the packed-earth trail out past the seasonably red-leafed vine maples that grew like natural hedges around the village with its familial clusters of log cabins and its broad surrounding span of black-soil communal gardens bountifully pregnant with harvest-ready corn, beans and pumpkins. Moccasined feet padded a soft rhythm not unlike that of the previous evening's ceremonial drums. Then the joggers slowed to a quieter, more erratic pace, hiking with carefully placed feet down the trail's abruptly steep and hazardously rocky slope through an agedly high-branched stand of Douglas Fir to the Southward Beach, the boomers laden with spare ammunition for flintlock rifles already primed and loaded with trade-powder and bear-greased projectiles of scavenged lead home-cast from cherished Before molds and dependably deadly out to 300 yards, the archers laden with bundles of goose-feather-fletched, salvaged-iron-bladed arrows for their recurve bows, which were effective to only half the rifles' range but able to loose as many as 10 arrows to every boomer’s one painstakingly loaded round of powder and conical ball. The tide was in; small waves lapped softly on wetly gleaming moonlit pebbles; above the incessantly ranting riot of ravens the night sky suddenly flared with serpentine bands of bright green light; the Spirit Dance was reaching way further south than usual; another omen; the Dancers' message yet to be determined. Matthew was momentarily entranced, already thinking how he might describe what he was hearing and seeing and feeling, how he might later record the details of the astounding strangeness that had already occurred, how he might document it with his newly learned expertise in the Potlatchers' traditional mnemonic shorthand, blackberry ink on tanned buckskin...
(To [maybe] be continued, Muse inspiring. )
LB/12 May 2023
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