Now Politics: the Political Opinions of Thomas Sarebbenonnato

A Friend of the People Opposing Elites; Social and Political Commentary of Thomas Sarebbenonnato; Publishing and Contributing Editor, Jay V. Ruvolo [Copyright (c) Jay Ruvolo 2018]

Archive for January 2019

HUMANITY

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Humanity is a great story to be told. Humanity is not only full of stories, but is in itself a larger story? a longer story? a more varied and complex story? a story with many more nuances, subtleties, digressions? Versions?

We must learn to listen carefully, that is closely, attentively, to the story of humanity as we think we believe we should to the stories of another––do any of us even listen to his or her own story, have we tried to tell it? Who are we, this we that is huamanity; this humanity that is you and I––all about everything relevant to every other person is right there between you and me.

If we are ever going to learn how to tell it, if we are ever going to learn who we are, what we are, where we have come from, where we are heading, what will become of us, might become of us, could, would and should become of us––and this is that We I mentioned earlier inferring all of us who have ever been and all of us who live now; bu then we start this by listening to each other, one and another and another, each of us is both another and other, a part and apart; you and I then make we as I too am We, all the selves in the Self, anyone’s Self, a plural singularity, as I have said elsewhere, perhaps in more one place, of course, the essays themselves contained and opened, every conclusus a door rather than a wall.

The telling of humanity’s story is something inclusive of history, but must remain categorically greater than the history of humanity, of human life, of human societies, of human anything we can add to the modifier, ‘human.’. This humanity I speak of here is larger than our anthropology, our sociology, our multiplication of Studies programs without discipline, although plenty of undisciplined disciples.

There are questions to be asked and answered. What is humanity? I could ask, but could this be the question, the foremost one, the first and the last in questions to be posed about all of us, every one of us, this one simple separate person here writing and everyone else?

Humanity is a great history to be recorded. Humanity is all the stories never heard, all the stories that have been forgotten, that have been erased. What then is memory, or remembering, or recollecting? What then is historiography? The writing of historical recording having been mistaken for history in itself history. Not so? I am not asking.

History and historiography; I have always understood history to be more than what was recorded, other than what has ben written or told,  which is why we investigate, why we examine and re-examine the texts from the past, searching for unfound texts, perhaps even if searching for a proof of put contemporary convictions. We do search and re-search, as my brother, my likeness, my sameness(?) Herodotus. We do dig as archaeologists do. There is something of archaeology about history, and I do not mean how archaeology aids in historical investigation. How so collectively over time from one place to another do we or they remember?

Humanity is a higher election. It must be chosen; it does not happen passively. We are not human simply because we are born, thus invested with humanity at birth, no. We must nurture humanity, but how? Through the humane, the prime ingredient in being human when human is a choice, when human is other than just having been born a homo-sapiens, something that requires other to respect you as you are required to respect them, thus offering as well as receiving the gift of the humane, the great human humane; but the being of which alone and persistently does not afford the aforementioned giving and choosing.

Humanity is objectivity. Humanity is an infinite subjectivity. Humanity is perpetual subjectivity in interplay with its collective objectivities. Humanity is singular and plural; each separately; both mutually. Humanity is a faith to garner belief. Humanity is a calamity. In face of its calamitous nature, Humanity is love. In support of its penchant for calamity, Humanity is hatred, violence and prejudice. Humanity must be human humane for it to be the Humanity asserted herein as a higher election; yes, it must be humane as the latter has been defined by me in another essay: humanity is, yes, again, as aforementioned, love; love is compassionate, is tolerant, is kind, gentle, generous, strong, meek . . . . The human–or should I say, the Homo-Sapiens–to be human must be humane; only by being humane can the homo-sapiens be said to have humanity. Humanity is the perpetuation of the humane?

Humanity is a trial; humanity is on trial. Humanity must be essayed. How many essays could we write in defense of humanity, in critique of humanity; the apologetics of humanity. Humanity cannot be contained by the narrow spheres of our being, of its being, of time and space in indissoluble unity, how then could it be contained by our writing. Humanity demands a new and larger Humanology; is there a humanography? It is not enough simply to be Homo-Sapiens to qualify as a humane being, what we must reserve for calling someone, anyone, human. Homo-Sapiens and Human do not share complete synonymy, mutually interchangeable in all contexts of use.

If humanity were simply the total number of all the someones here on earth, then arithmetic would be the primary arbiter of our ethics.  I would be human by simply having been born, by my membership in the species, homo-sapiens. The problem with this ethics is that it is arithmetic and not ethics. We have witnessed historically. We witness it again and again around the world decade after decade, just as we will again here at home where freedom wanes more increasingly year by year. I can still hear me saying what I said when I said it whatever it was I had said about this waning light.

To say or not to say must weigh heavily on the human who needs to tell, who wants to tell; telling is what humans do, have done, will do again and again. The need to tell must have no censor. The prescriptions for democracy, for a fullt democratic society are pretty much the guidelines for how to manage this humanity that needs more telling, or perpetual telling and/or re-telling. No censor for all ideas comepting for acceptance in our historiography. What more is there to tell about this thing, this entity, this being we call humanity–humanity does have being. How to adjust our thinking with respect to and for this idea of humanity, a pan humanity, something not only valid for how the image of it in a contained space for a restricted time can be manipulated by the media in the cause of Zionist hegemony, but can be valid for how people are and are seen or present themselves or get to talk about themselves independent of the types and stereotypes created in and presented through the media in America, all serving a particular hegemony that has nothing but the perpetuation of its own power through influence, authority through power garnered through influence managed by each medium it controls itself being the message that informs us–and all informing is putting into and keeping in form; information is always in . . . formation.

What if I were to say that Humanity is woman, or that humanity is man–not quite the same as saying that humanity is a woman–yes, a woman here, a woman now, a woman with me, a woman to love, to be in love with, to be loved by. A woman is humanity not solely because she is human, which she only could be if she were to choose human. Ah! There it is again, as I have said before and will say again (whether it earns a . . . gain or not is not the question).

Yes, Humanity is therefore a choice. Now, one cannot avoid choosing because it is impossible not to choose. Not selecting is a choice. In effect, it is a choice complete with a set of consequences, and not only for the individual who is trying to play hop-scotch with his choices, his options laid out before him, but for humanity, as when the word can be applied to the sum of all the humans or Homo Sapiens on earth.

Once more, as I have said elsewhere, to be human is not something one is or becomes at birth, by having been born, no matter how humane one mother’s and father is or was. Humanity for some is defined as the sum of all the humans on earth. I don’t know about that. What then is inhumanity? How do we speak of inhumanity and not allow this to set the limits and terms for our definition of humanity? If by humanity we are pointing to the great human-humane, then arithmetic cannot be our arbiter.

People everywhere have experienced the historical outcomes when ethics are allowed to become a numerical evaluation, the sum-totaling of book keeping, the ledger, America’s moral code. When we seek to make ethics quantifiable–or simple end up turning them into a quantification rather than a qulification–society is in trouble.

The quantifications of the Bolsheviks and the Nazis, of dictators like Pol Pot,  of the bureaucracies of super states like the United States, or other bourgeois capitalist democracies have weighed heavily on the experience of the human. Inhumanity is a sport bigger than soccer. How many times, how many places, now and then, then and now, I wander every time I wonder. They are related, you know. How could they not be?

If we wanted to expand our notion of humanity in the above fashion, one that leads us away from the ironic outcome of constricting our definition of humanity (by limiting humanity to that which is humane because only the humane has the right to be called human) then we would have to include all the humans who have ever lived on earth.  This subsequent tally of humanity would include every ‘human’ in our evolutionary past; everything relevant to the estimation of the homo-sapiens nature would be valid in an estimation of our human nature.

By the above expansion of our definition, Pithecanthropus Erectus would be as human as you or I, and you may not yet have reason to dispute this. Of course, what that means is that we have spent the greater part of the last one hundred and fifty years avoiding a definition of our humanity in such a way that has led us to over simplify just what the ethical or moral nature of the human is or could be–perish the thought of someone saying should, I have heard others say with the tip of my tongue firmly placed into the soft fleshy spot at the center of a circle I might be able to draw on the inside of my cheek. What then must we do about this thing we call humanity in a world that debases the idea of humanity as it undermines its own notion of the humane, of what we could or should call natural and what we should call civilized, another word undefined by sound bites disseminated in more grotesque forms over social media. The Internet has the potential to be one of the greatest tools for greater democratization or Orwellian control.

There is one should after another in perpetuity for cultivating the humane–here is not where this will be delineated; each should will have to be determined and thus followed by us in common or community, but not without the necessary literacy, I say in complete prejudice for all things written well–something our current pedagogy of failure has mismanaged, almost on purpose.

There is validity for the objective and the subjective views, positions, arguments; each is separate from the other, distinct in its own right, yet mutual and even reciprocal with the other.

There is even validity for a collective understanding of this new or re-newed sense of Humanity.

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Written by jvr

January 30, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Cornerstone of Liberty [a fictional diatribe seized by the verisimilitude of the essay form . . .]

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Education, Madison believed, is the cornerstone of Civil Liberty. But Madison could not have been talking about the kind of education we have in our Public Schools anywhere in America. I do not have to believe in a Golden Age to know that ours just might be the worst of times for literacy and education. Who among our High School teachers, let alone our current graduates in New York City can read Madison with the acumen necessary for a deeper understanding?  And yes, deeper from an acumen that can–that should–be taught, not divined as in so many classrooms where pedagogy is about teaching less to achieve only the end that parents must do more. Why send children to school with how ineffective most classroom teaching has become? And this is not an invitation for reflexive assertions to the contrary, amounting to a ping pong match of I said/you said.

I have met far too many college educated adults for whom re-reading is essential for even an appropriate first read, so why we sponsor the kind of pedagogy of reading that amounts to engaging a text in a way similar to how waiters clear a table of crumbs before bringing the coffee. I am one who asserts that all good reading is re-reading, so the necessity to re-read is not the issue above. But this necessary re-reading is more effective when a more attentive and less perfunctory first reading is achieved. I am referring to the kind of reading that penetrates the text, not just superficially skims the page. Sweeping has nothing in common with reading when reading is performed organically and seriously and not how it has been fostered in our schools. All great writing is multi-layered.

Today, though, among who we call literate, reading amounts to superficially skimming the page as if words were crumbs on the dinner cloth. But then many of the texts chosen in my sons classrooms through Public School were two-dimensional as texts, the kind of writing that defers to the flatness of the page and the words being organized in lines. So then, am I to assume, probably, that the kind of reading that gets fostered by our pedagogy is in line with the kind of writing we find in the kinds of texts that get chosen, or is it that the kind of writing in the texts that get chosen demand a kind of superficial skimming because this skimming is suited to the writing. Good readers can tell bad writing and politically correct hyper-didactic texts are often poorly written.

How can I hope to understand what individuality can mean when true political and social individuality is so countermanded by one kind of pluralism after another, contradicted by one determinism or another in assault against any or all notions of free-will. This assault on free-will is backed up by these aforementioned pluralisms, but fostered by the kind of pedagogy of literacy we have in our schools. Don’t bother to look to education anywhere in America for saving graces in the rituals of freedom; it is in our public schools that the greatest reinforcement for a decrease in civil liberty and social freedom has been maintained.  Current pedagogy has ensured that we will be neither aware enough historically nor literate enough to defend our freedoms.

As insipidly as we support cultural and linguistic awareness, we are not likely to hold onto our best ideals, all in the name of a diversity more diversion than diversification.  Today, our diversity has too little respect for individuality.  Individuality and a respect for it seems past reckoning; individualism has increased its ismistic referencing in our rhetorical strategies concerning the package of individuality over the product of individuality.  Madison Avenue still rules the ritual actions of our mind, the ritualized thoughts behind our actions. It is one of our greatest horrors that we call it Madison Avenue.

Our diversity today is nothing other than a tracing of the veins in a great monolith of marble, or creating new ways of genuflecting before the altars of entertainment. Conformity is America’s greatest dogma; how is it that we have not returned to narrower times?  There was more individuality in the old universality, it seemed to me, so long as the push was not universalism.  Isms are always a reduction of individual will and idea.  Baroque Europe I must remind us did have a greater sense of universality coextensive with its ethnic and national diversities than anything we have today. America today is not as organically diverse as was Europe just at a time they plummeted into the maelstrom of the Thirty Years War. But then we go crouching and crawling and creeping our way out of the 20th Century, best labelled by Camus, The Century of Murder, slouching, Mr. Yeats, yes, slouching, we are.

The old Church liturgy was almost invariably the call of the rock.  By church here I also mean mosque and synagogue, much the way we understand that when Jesus says Be seen not praying in the synagogue, He means churches and mosques, public schools and offices of finance too.  He also means how we tend to blow our own horn, especially in a society as ruled by media and advertising as is contemporary America.  I had been reminded one night by a Hasidic student of mine that stoning is still part of Jewish law, but that they cannot stone anyone in America.  Perhaps this is the progressiveness we should be most proud of; however, we have always preferred ropes to rocks.  Yes, rocks and ropes will harm me, but what of our fear of names and others words? We do believe that words can harm us. Our current politically correct reflexes about speech show us this. It is a grotesque puppet literacy performed in a social Grand Guignol. I do not even want to begin a discussion of how horribly far from an understanding of democracy most of my Muslim women students are–completely baffled, they are, and to me baffling. Nonetheless, I persist in maintaining my commitment to freedom. Even I understand how hokey we have let this statement become–and we do wince when we hear someone say something like the former, “commitment to freedom.” But then who can say in measured articulate paragraphs just what freedom is–and it does need paragraphs, not tweets on our Twitter accounts–social media’s role in declining literacy should be examined, which is not to say that it cannot have a significant role in spreading democracy. One has nothing really to do with the other. Guarding against a decline in literacy, including tracing the lines of influence that social media draw in this decline, while maintaining a broader understanding of social media’s possible role in spreading democracy, are not mutually exclusive in our efforts.

The greatest assaults on the First Amendment in the last thirty years have come from the Left; and this has allowed the right to maintain validity in its ever increasing shift into reactionary lunacy. The shift to the right has been monolithically American, the entire political spectrum as moved to the right. Moreover, I do not see ideological differences between the Democrats or the Republicans, and political space like metaphysical space like physical space is curved, and the further you go in one opposite direction, the closer you come to the other opposite.

Written by jvr

January 28, 2019 at 12:58 pm

HYSTERICAL HISTORICAL

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I

There is no horror from the past we cannot aggrandize in our cultural blindness. I’m not here to insist that Americans are the only blind people in the world. However, knowing that blindness is a pan human condition regardless of the sightedness or lack thereof in any person of any people does not lessen the effects of said blindness. Is there anything knew anywhere; has there ever been at any time in any past, whatever history we examine–really historiography. I’m of the mind that history happens irrespective of who writes the historiography. One is not the other.

I’m not with Hegel entirely. I don’t avoid Hegel because of his subsequent use by Marx and Marxists. I, in fact, avoid entertaining Marx too seriously because of Hegel’s historicism, particularly his making any Constitution an extension of the State rather than that of the people, the latter the one institution that can oppose or counterpose the State, the one institution with enough weight? density? to counterbalance that weight/force the State imposes on the people. States can do this in a number of ways, but the most effective way is for the State to transform the people into a public, always this by choice of the people. The State manages choices, making abdication of one’s people-ness/personhood for the slightly more secure or lucrative membership as one of the public a virtual necessity.

I am not one to believe that the Social Sciences are or can be made like the hard sciences; sociology, political science or the discipline of history is not chemistry or Astrophysics, no matter how deluded practitioners become about how their methodologies are scientific and not artistic. Positivism, for instance is an assertion by philosophers that Philosophy should become more like these social sciences that had convinced themselves they should become more like the hard sciences. This, as I have asserted, is absurd to begin with, but to have been continued and asserted as if true is even more grandiose than the 19th century intellectual declaring the death of religion or that Western Civilization is no longer Christian. Denying the metaphysical hegemony of Christianity, I think, was premature, as premature or immature as declaring the possibility of turning the arts and humanities into sciences.

This belief in the possibility of making philosophy more like science, or to make it a science, is part of the 20th century’s intellectual orgy in anti-humanism–a feeding frenzy by the sharks of cultural iconoclasm? And we do have to see the great currents of anti-humanism along with anti-Christian philosophies on the rise in the twentieth century continuing into the current one –and to better understand where I am getting this notion, let me say that in Italy, for instance, when a man chooses to become/be an Atheist, he becomes one in only the way a former Catholic could be, and to look at Italian communism and how it stood in opposition to Soviet Russian communism, much more savage in its nihilism and anti-Christian atheism, is to understand how the traditional metaphysics of Catholicism permeates Italian mentality even in the minds of criminals. Yes, even the evil in Italy is Catholic. This is why I assert that Catholicism is a civilization, with all a civilizations multiplicity and complexity, both exerting an influence on behavior.

We have to understand how disingenuous the Positivists were, and Wittgenstein applauding Kierkegaard is ironic, because the Great Dane would have abhorred him. Philosophy and political science are as close to science as fucking a groundhog to forecast the weather is. The loss of faith in Humanism and the arts has left us with a dearth of incomprehensible social science even in literature departments; it has also left our human lives at the mercy of one mechanization of living, not in the sense that there are technologies at our disposal or that machines are made to help us, but in helping to shape the mentality of peoples in their attitudes and behavior toward people. Anti-humanism is hand in hand with totalitarian slaughter, totalitarian order, control, brutality, management, ideology . . . what else have we to express just where the over sociologizing of society’s management and administration has left us.

II

History is a river, history is an ocean with tides and currents, history is a cosmos expanding, not into something, but in itself as itself–there is no future place for history to pour itself into. All time is one; all history is one; we perceive history in ages, epochs, centuries, years, as we do time. Past, present and future are illusions and no amount of delusion about them is going to make them scientific. Whether these metaphors are helpful or not, I am not going to decide. I will not herein entertain a definition of history and how it differs from historiography or historicism. History for all people infers recorded time. I posit this simplistic reference with historiography. Again, history is what happens irrespective of who writes history or if the history ever gets written or recorded in some other fashion. So, history may or may not be historiographic, but historiography is linked with history. History has a lot in common with archaeology, which means it cannot dispense with empirically derived conclusions if it is going to maintain the greatest possible veracity in its observations and conclusions, if it is going to maintain itself as good humanism, as a valid and viable expression of humanity as one of the humanities.

With respect for time and its passage in what we call history, let me say that there has never been any generation in our history–America’s history–more contempo-centric than this one. But again, even if there were other ages more contempo-centric than ours, it would not lessen how much so we are currently. The beam in my own eye does not remove the mote in my neighbors eye, or vice-versa. A corrective must be applied. We are in need of a revised vision of our Selves, our society and its position in the world, in history, in the continuum we imagine time to be.

Ours has become virtually the only time, but every age has some sense that its age is the best or the worst of all ages that have ever been. A sense of the past, a sense of proportion about the past has gone the way of believing that we can uncover the truth about things, or that there is a Truth, both transcendent and absolute. We no longer believe in the possibility of objectivity, therefore we only assert one subjectivity after another and another and so on in a petty pace of the solipsist spinning his wheels.

The thing about our age is that we also imagine we are the zenith of forever; that all future ages are dependent on us, and this has arisen simultaneously with a severing from all past contingencies or continuums. We are iconoclastic as we have never been before, while we each discover our own personal Sinai to ascend and descend, complete with each one of us carrying his own tablets, his own commandments.

A new intellectual hegemony has been won by those who have revised the past in order to justify their present, much the way Czar Ivan had chroniclers revise Russian history to justify the Romanov dynasty. This was not new then; it is not new now. Ignorance and degraded literacy has gone a long way to bolstering this tendency. Multiculturalism has not offended less in the ways of its own authoritarian models for reform.

Ignorance is literally to ignore, and no one ignores the past more than we do. There has been no generation in any age more in love with the moment now than ours. Even Whitman seemingly gives credence to this excessive American desire to own the present. Doesn’t he declare that there is no more time than now in Song of Myself. I don’t mean to belittle Whitman; Walt is not reinforcing tempo-centrism any more than Sylvia Plath was romanticizing suicide.

Ours has become the great displacement of the past, and in as much as we are the guardians of the future, we have made the future now. This is interesting from a culture that has abandoned the metaphysics of Truth because it finds the idea of transcendence absurd. The future has become current for us, and believing, for better or for ill, that our choices irrevocably affect all time until the end of time has lead us to a couple of false notions. This belief has brought about for us either castrating fear or a hubris as grandiose as any in antiquity that brought Divine Retribution at the hands of Nemesis. Forgive my preference for literary analogies, they suit me and they do suit word to action and action to word.

Written by jvr

January 25, 2019 at 11:44 am

DOUBLE THINK DOWN THE LEFT

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[A REPRINT OF A FREQUENTLY PUBLISHED POLITICAL TIRADE]

 

The State in America only pays lip service to the exercise of freedom. Presidents in the State of the Union rarely ever serve more than their image.  The State is incapable of respecting in the least the kind of freedom I had once believed was my birth right; I cannot believe anymore in a President of the people.  Perhaps naively in my youth I believed that presidents were capable of what Obama’s most ardent supporters believe him capable of, but doubt of this has begun to supplant confidence. Perhaps my mistake was to have taken freedom for granted; I am beginning to feel like one of Barnum’s suckers.  Washington does seem like the Big Tent; Capitol Hill, the White House, et cetera, other rings.

Will our civil liberties always be present? I know the slogan of the ACLU is Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself.  Good cause, good slogan, the need for vigilence is constant.  But that vigilance must come from the people, not a lazy public looking for men like President Obama to do it for us. We saw Bush II and did not like what we saw; we heard Obama and liked what we heard, but hearing is never listening.  We might as well shake hands with the devil anytime we let leaders in Washington keep vigilance for us.

The sense of vigilance our degraded state sponsored education can imagine is only one that serves the interests of the state; it might be something else entirely now, in that we will not think serving the state against the people is such a bad idea.  The Cave dwellers again rebel against the light of day. We do prefer our shadows to the realities outside our caves. Twitter, Facebook, TV, the mirror, all of them our caves; inside ourselves, solipsists ever.

We have grown too accustomed to a state more increasingly unfriendly, bartering our civil liberties for a false sense of security; states for all times have rewarded publicans and rarely the people. America had once almost become contrary to this.  Advertisements rule our sense of the real; psychologists say that the internet has made us even more self-absorbed, more inside ourselves. Metaphysics by Madison Avenue.

I do believe we were freer at a time before Reagan and Bush and Iraq one and two, and certainly the post 9/11 world; which is not to say that Bush II was worse than Johnson or Nixon. We were smarter, more literate, better educated and more willing to commit to social change in a tactile not only tangible way.  Today, drug dealers, criminals, pop stars all party with the President and we somehow miss what’s happening. We have come a long way from the old New Left, even further from the Old Left, but let’s not lament yet.

It was the old left that informed many of the men I had come to listen to when I was a boy, my first lessons in American Democracy, politics, freedom, the exercise of liberty, which was never license (a confusion I see popularly spreading).  But then my fantasies of the old left might not be as accurately conceived as they should be; among the old left, I include the Teamsters of the thirties and I know too many bosses who deserve the Nietzschean lessons from the Geneology of Morals.

I remember the Revolutionary slogans from the time of our Founding Fathers, whereby one stood out: The Tree of Liberty is Watered with the Blood of Patriots, and if I might add, sometimes that of the moneyed and power elites . . . le sange impur.  But who gets to say when the shooting stops, or how many is enough? What Reign of Terror is next?

What did Jefferson mean about our obligation to liberty when he wrote in “The Declaration of Independence” that a people desiring freedom are obligated to throw of their chains?  What are the inferences to be made in today’s economy and from close examination of power politics? In this America who is there Democracy for? I know that the rich get richer; I know we have a degraded sense of the possibilities of each man’s future riches, mainly because we have confounded possibility and probability. We tolerate the rich because we believe they do something for their money; they are not an idle rich aristocracy, no. But outside of drilling for oil, raping lands, putting protected land at risk of ecological disaster, what then do the rich do? Goldman Sachs was at the head of the 1929 market collapse and was there again in 2008. And they are Obama’s biggest supporters. Obama is likely to bite the hand that feeds him and his pompous forked-tongued wife?

Written by jvr

January 21, 2019 at 12:59 pm

BLACK IS BLACK

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The subtlest way African-Americans have endured racism has been in the traditionally and inescapably framed identification of the people by race and only race, color, if we will, although everyone knows that neither black nor white are colors. Negro, colored, black; all of them have at times been preferable to using the term nigger, unless one were a Klansman or other proponent of Jim Crow, or just downright racist in his heart and/or mind, or just for the moment when not perennially, perpetually. If any one of them, then the unacceptable would always be preferable. Calling oneself African-Americanand not black is an attempt to side step the marker of race, thus asserting an ethnic identification in its place and as the principal means of identifying the people we used to call black.

Black is a term of color, inescapably a racial marker. All markers and markings have too much to do with stigmas; the connotation we give to the word ‘stigma’ herein applies. The practice of branding slaves might come too mind, probably always remains residual in all talk about the blackness of black people, yet there is no organic reason that that should persist. Skin color is nature, not branding–the subtractive connotations that the notion of blackness has inherited are just that, an inheritance, a product of culture and dissemination. Skin color is the human body’s adaptation to ultra violet radiation over time–a long, long time. Darker skinned people when they move to or live northern latitudes have been known to suffer vitamin D deficiency and the ailments related; and light skinned people from northern latitudes when moving to the central latitudes, or within the Tropics, have been known to get skin cancer. Yes, there is an increase of the risk and the incidence of skin cancer.

The term African-American, like the one Italian-American, is an ethnic identifier. Yes, the term African-Amemrican is an ethnic identification as would be Irish-American or Swedish-American. The fore mentioned identities of Italian-American and Irish-American are identities for me to claim, each in variation on the nationality theme, mine principally being American, at least in my home, the way I was raised to identify with my native land more than with the lands of my ancestors–and I am sure there are plenty of Black or African Americans for whom the identity American is principal, when the focus on social issues is not how we are divided racially.

The idea that I was white was something that could only have sustained itself in racist dialogue; in fact, there was very little discussion of whiteness where I grew up that didn’t have something to do with a general or more traditionally framed racist conversation. It is interesting to note that I only became white in a dialogue–or diatribe–that focussed on the divisions or animosities between black and white people. Even if it were not in itself racist, the use was in discussions on racism. Otherwise the focus was on ethnicity, was on personhood, was on human.

The sociology of whiteness in America had little to do with who was or was not caucasian, something we understood as having validity paleontologically, even if it has lost the credibility it once had in academic discourse. This has everything to do with how endemically racist we were, are, continue to be–even to the point that most dialogue from African American communities also cannot escape the endemically racist rhetoric American underbellies have been famous for, and that’s whether black, white, hispanic or other.

Whiteness was not the principal way I identified myself–even at a time of heightened race consciousness in the 70s. The principal way I identified myself was through ethnicity, any one or all of the ethinicites, as we identify them in America, being part of what I called myself–what are you? I’m Italian, Irish, French and Swiss.

Nationality in America’s bureaucratic systematization is a synonym with ethnicity, although we know that these are often not the same. Nonetheless, Ashkenazi from the former republics of the Soviet Union are called Russians, as are many of the non-Russian Russian speakers, no matter how badly they speak Russian. In my place of work, any non-Russian speaker of Russian is called a Russian, and for years this has included many Ukranians, some of whom might actually be ethnic Russians. An African-American most likely identified himself within the notions of blackness he grew up with, unable to escape the markings of race, whether they be of stereotypical blackness, or of the racist’s definitions of blackness, or of how these racistly drawn stereotypes of negative blackness were extrapolated through theme and variation interplay by African-Americans themselves, or how blackness might be positively asserted as in the black Franco-phone socio-political idea of Negritude[please reference Aimee Cesaire].

Blackness also took upon itself a growing militancy in the late sixties; this sense of black power was more assertive, more aggressive, more beligerent, even. One or another or the other or in any combination thereof, these were typically American in our more overtly aggressive and sometimes violent social nature, that is, interactively among ourselves. However blackness was defined, though, identifying oneself racially was significantly other than defining oneself ethnically, defining oneself ethnically significantly different than defining oneself as a human being first and last.  The categories were understood as virtually mutually exclusive; race and ethnicity. They were not always.

The categorical distinction of African American has likeness with that of Italian American and all other ethno-centric, nationality-rooted variations on being American. This idea that a people can manage how racist dialogue affects them by changing the name we use to reference them is not a naive one. It is not that prejudices cannot arise for or about ethnicity, or that a conflation of racist rhetoric and hatred cannot happen to an ethnicity. What is important to note is that by asserting ethnicity as the chief identifying marker, African Americans are mutually identified in a way white people principally identify themselves, lessening the otherness of racial identity either when placed against the traditionally mutually exclusive whiteness or when the ethnic identities of Europeans are placed against, as in counter-distinction with, a mutually exclusive category of blackness.

It is integral to understand that the term African-American is a rhetorical attempt to side-step the rhetoric of racism; in managing the rhetoric of race and racism in such a subtle yet effective way, the psychology of racism is also addressed positively and proactively. The effects on psychology based on language use and choice is tangible and definable.

It is true that the only people who focus on the whiteness of white people are themselves racists, black or white; or are either overtly or inadvertently engaging in racist dialogue. In fact, no one has ever referred to me as white except white people entering or nearing racist argument, or African-Americans, who themselves might not see ethnicity before they see color, that is, race. African-Americans, hoping to side step dialogues or diatribes caught in the vice of race–and yes, race in America is a vice–refuse to call themselves black. Naming themselves black, if not in carefully orchestrated contexts of communication, puts African-Americans in a diametric position with whiteness, which is always in one way or another racistly drawn. I can only be white where someone else is black–we do define principally within a binary frame, diametrically. However, among the many ethnic groups in America, African-American is one; there is inclusion, at least rhetorically. Race just might become incidental if the rhetoric of ethnicity and mutual inclusion among many persists. If incidental, then racial markings (stigmas) cannot remain overarching, either in negative or positive stereotyping, neither of which handles the reality of the simple separate African-American human-being very well whether white people or black people use them. (Do you see how the focus on white and black immediately puts diametrically opposed positions into an arena?)

Written by jvr

January 18, 2019 at 11:47 am

POWER, RACE AND PERSONA

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Western Civilization seems to be in need of defending. There are, as there have been for decades now, enough diatribes and tirades against this Civilization, even to the extent that there have been enough academics who have questioned if there ever was an historical thing called Western Civilization. Western Civilization not only needs a strong defense but deserves a passionate one to address appropriately just how much virulent critical resentment it has received from inside and outside the Academy. Let us make no mistake that there are many in academia who resent the intellectual, artistic and literary traditions of Western Civilization, all in an attempt to wrest hegemony away from what they used to call white male dominance in learning, something they used to assert was the only reason we raised Shakespeare to the heights he had achieved (or was it the heights he had been given?). We are faced with another crisis in civilization, as they have been repeated around the world across time (is that then history?). There is no need to ask me if I think history is progressive; you might as well ask me if I think the ocean is progressive. Neither is. I a also not suggesting that the problems we face socially or the crisis in our civilization today is correlative with critiques for the Western canon in academia; nor am I suggesting that the critique of Shakespeare’s position in the Canon have somehow lead to social unrest. That would be idiotic. I do, though, see that they are associative, although not contingent in the ways others less inclined to agree with me could suggest.

I will not take up the cause of the Western Canon of literature as it seemed I might have by having referred to Shakespeare’s position in the Canon. Any literary review, in both action and spirit, should be a defender of this tradition, a legacy that gives it the intellectual impetus to be the critical journal it is, to levy the critiques it does against the structures and dynamics of power. And it is this critique of power as power in itself power when opposed to the People, and not power as power not multicultural enough, that this review takes seriously and insists is necessary. So, let us not equivocate. There needs to be more literary reviews such as outlined briefly here. This necessity comes from the fact that many from the fore mentioned camps of resentment have lessened or loosened their critiques once they have made headway in the Academy, one of the principal reasons we have assessed in the past that all former criticism of the culture and the civilization from camps of resentment were not based on the necessity for their critical responses but resentment that they were not participating in the hegemony from inside the hierarchy. It never was about democracy, liberty, or addressing power as power, or the extent at which power’s dynamics of control have tentacled their way through our society. The only problem with power as perceived from any of the camps of resentment in the new push toward hegemony was that it was not multicultural. Furthering personal ends more than the ends of the People, or the ends of a segment of the People, seems central to critiques born of this kind of resentment. Let’s not address the social evils of greed, both personal and institutional, but let’s lament that this greed is in fact not more multicultural and diverse. Let us not address the problem of prostitution, but instead let us make sure that prostitution is more diverse, that prostitutes are representative of all ethnicities and races (a problem that does not seem to be real but hypothetical; prostitution exists has existed and will exist everywhere among all peoples). Let’s not address the problems of power as power against the People, only that we need more African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and women in the power structure set against the People. Perhaps African American People will accept a reaming from power if there are enough African Americans in the power elite to bend them over in a familiar way. Everyone to his familiar devil. Satan does not come to a devout Catholic woman in the garb of a Rabbi.

Does anyone imagine that formerly oppressed, repressed or socially excluded people are likely to manage power more even handedly or less corruptly? How could any thinking person imagine such? This is not likely, nor is it consistent with either history or human psychology. This is not a reactionary view insisting on a return to white hegemony, but a critique that power has remained the same, only now it wears different masks. This exchange of the masks that power wears is behind our critiques of the Obama Presidency as an unintended and unwilling form of Minstrel Show. Yes, Obama’s Presidency is the Power Elite wearing black face, making power appear more benign by presenting a face we would not likely suspect was a mask covering the grimace of power. In this way, we are endemically racist, endemically racist in the ways the media manipulates the ideas and images we receive, take in, absorb without question or hesitation. This does mean that everyone African American who advances socially does so for some manipulative purpose by power and for power. It is also not to say that all African Americans should be part of the eternal Left’s critique.

What remains of interest to us is that oftentimes once anyone from any of the fore mentioned groups has received critical attention that used to be reserved only for white males or whites, he or she falls right in line with the power dynamics. Power remains powerful as power has always been managed powerfully against the People; it is now more nearly representative of our ethnic and racial diversity. But power has not changed, and collateral with how more multicultural power has become, our liberties have waned. It seems, for example, the only criticism against Police using power and authority against the people comes not because it is power acting powerfully, but because it is doing so against African-Americans. There is no outrage from the African American community when the police shoot a white man or hispanic or asian in like circumstances when an African American is shot by the police. The police still shoot unarmed white men at a rate greater than they do African Americans and there might be statistics that show something revelatory about comparisons made between when Hispanics are shot and when African Americans are shot. Are African American males between 15 and 25 more likely to commit felonious assault against a police officer than white males of the same age? Are they more likely to flee when put under arrest–and arrest means stop; to be told to stop and freeze is to be put under arrest. Not to comply is a felony. So, felony rules apply to white males, but should not to black males because we must understand that black males have a different reality?????? When the police shoot a white man, is the response from African Americans, perhaps, good? We imagine that most would not, but we imagine that there would have  to be some who would say it. Racism in America can come from any direction and go in any direction.

There is a general assumption that if Eric Garner were white, he would not be dead. We insist that if Eric Garner had been white, the case never would have gone to grand jury, but he still would be dead. If the man in South Carolina had been white, the police officer would not have been charged with murder; but are we to determine unilaterally and without question that if the fleeing man in South Carolina were white, the police officer would not have shot? I know white people who fell he might have shot sooner. The numbers of unarmed white men shot by the police annually might support their feeling, even if they do not prove the hypothesis. These questions are not rhetorically set against the investigations; they are not to assume that there is no reason to investigate the incidents–and do not tell me a video tells everything because it does not. The video from South Carolina picks up in the middle, just as the Eric Garner video did not show that he had already been put under arrest and that the video showing him monologuing only proved he was resisting arrest which is a class six felony. That is all it takes to be considered resisting arrest. This is what we need to learn; the parameters within which the police operate are not understood by a population that has been systematically undereducated and a segment of the population that has been left to the peril of its systematic asocialization. There are still too many in segments of the media and the popular culture who benefit and get filthy rich from selling young black men the idea that America is endemically racist and the only authentic way to be black is to one or another form of gangsta. It does require higher literacy by the people to mange democracy for the people.

We would rather feel than think, emote than reason, accept the framing of sensationalism than discern the facts. Eric garner slapped a police officer’s hand away from him–a felony; yes, that is all that it takes. You cannot address that assault–which is what it was–without affecting all assaults. If a man had slapped his wife in a like manner in an elevator, we would have been outraged. Of course, if she shot him, some would have said, good, most others would have been horrified. No one was then or is now going to say anything we have said here, nor are they going to accept the possible validity of what we have said because the assertions made herein by our staff contradict what people want to feel (not think), what they have been conditioned to feel by the dissemination of images and sound bites through our media. Our assertions are contrary to the reflexes that the mallet of a sensationalizing media elicits.

One of the most reinforced received ideas in our culture perpetuated by the mainstream media is that we are an endemically racist society. Is the question ever asked, Are African-American males between 15 and 25 less likely not to comply with police commands because they might have been raised not to respect the police or the establishment? And every one here at The Falling Leaf Review knows there are many reasons historically evident that support the hesitation African American males feel when considering the response they should have when asked to comply with arrest. My father was a beat cop on Fulton Street in Brooklyn New York and he had pulled his revolver out of its holster only twice in twenty years, neither time firing his weapon. A question we need to ask is, Can a justifiable shoot also be a shoot that did not have to happen? The thing my father was most proud of from his career as a police officer was the fact that he never fired his weapon. Could my father justifiably have fired his weapon the two times he drew his revolver (and you cannot peel off 8 rounds with a revolver the way you can with a 9mm)? The answer is, Yes. If my father had fired his weapon each time, it would have been considered a good shoot. If the perpetrator had died, it would have been justifiable homicide. Why this is not part of the dialogue, I do not know. Perhaps it is. The media prefer another focus.  We seem to be concerned only for the fact that the perpetrators in the incidents were African-American; the perpetrators are the ones the police come to arrest. That is a disservice even to African-Americans who must first and fore mostly be embraced in this for their humanity and not their race primarily, and even when we chant that black is human, that is as far as we go. It is not enough. But then, perhaps we are not literate enough to sustain what it takes to disseminate freedom for all. The focus from the media is off in a way that leads to further manipulative control by the power elite that the media elite share effective influence in. The tribal nature of the critiques that come from anyone who used to be outside the parameters of hegemony or outside the mainstream is an impediment to furthering democracy. It is part of a Machiavellian effect socially. Diversity is a mantra now embraced by power; it has been manipulated by power. What then does diversity mean? Diversity in itself is not the problem, but how it is managed, manipulated, packaged and presented–sold–by the media. How are we not divergent socially? How is it that our cities cannot go up in flames?

 

Written by jvr

January 16, 2019 at 1:03 pm

BEE HIVE NATION

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Reading at an advanced stage of literacy is not a requirement for political participation in America, but then bread and circuses is not new to the American state and governments have supported innumerable variations on representative government without the masses either literate or participating.  The people are taught to read through many of the organs of the state, thereby insuring a level of advanced under eduction at an inflated value. Inflation permeates everything in our lives as soon as we tell ourselves we have to learn to live with economic inflation. Economics hits home too hard not to affect the things we do and the ideas we think day in and day out.

Public education as we have it in New York City is an example of this kind of inflation, but then an inflation that is contingent with the overproduction we have in education where all are special, any can be talented, and semi-literacy meets the demands of a society that produces little of what it consumes, underpays and enforces wage slavery around the world to feed its greed, its tape-worm driven gluttony.  Is there any reason for anyone anywhere in any business or industry to get the annual bonuses that investment bankers on Wall Street get; is there any reason for the CEO of ABC to get 72 million a year? Readers need not apply. Notice, though, that it is Publiceducation. The public are always the people in service of the state. When functioning as a public, which the people must do sometimes, they are not functioning as the people. These are two distinct and categorically separate political entities. They are often mutually exclusive in their functions.

Yes, office cubicles resemble more the cells in a beehive than they do anything else; perfunctory level jobs for life for perfunctory performing drones, all of them increasingly more and more underpaid as top-level executives have become the new oligarchy in America.  Our lifestyle is our hemlock, if any one of us should be brave enough to stand Socratically against our media sophists and the oligarchy of CEOs countrywide.  But then we don’t read anymore, and our knowledge of classical antiquity has evaporated, so any allusion to the terrible forty of Athens or the death of Socrates passes as does a ghost.

Written by jvr

January 14, 2019 at 12:24 pm

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