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 February 2019

EXISTENTIAL HAMLET PRECEDED ESSENTIAL HAMLET

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To be or not to beis the fundamental philosophical question. It is not only a question of suicide. It is to mediate being, to choose an actual existence. It is to remove oneself from becoming, from the flux of perpetual becoming which has always been non-being. Non-being is as close to a primordial nothingness as anything related to annihilation. Becoming is only non-being in the sense that to be and to become cannot be simultaneously manifest. Hamlet knows what is when it is, understanding too well the mutual and reciprocal epistemological dilemmas inherent from competing a prioriand a posteriorischema in acquiring knowledge, testing knowledge, determining the limits of knowledge and what is knowable.

In order to be, one must choose beingin direct opposite tension with becoming. One does resist the will of one’s plural nature. One must not resist this plural nature by artificially imposing a self to the psychic displacement of every other self that seeks its due on the stage of the many selves Self.  There is harmony that comes out of this seeming chaos of selves. This harmonic Self is not achieved by imposing one self among many to be the one and only. This harmony is achieved by conducting a symphonic coalescence of all of the selves in a Self of many selves macro-cosmic to all exterior being. It is only by being and becoming mutually, sometimes simultaneously, other times successively, yet other times causally.

To be or not to be in the sense that not to be is to become, as it has elsewhere been articulated, is the limits–the beginning and the end–of all existing. One is and one becomes mutually and perpetually. Why then does it puzzle us to work out Hamlet’s most fundamental question, fixing on the idea that the only thing it could be about is suicide–and it might even be about suicide in another way where to exclude, preclude, deny the existence of the many selves self is a form of internal suicide.

To be or not to be is both to be and to become a many selves Self.

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Written by jvr

February 15, 2019 at 11:52 am

THE FALLING LEAF REVIEW, SUMMER 2018, PUBLISHING AND CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, JAY V. RUVOLO

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Written by jvr

February 13, 2019 at 1:10 pm

HARD TIMES FOR HISTORIOGRPAHY

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What do we mean by the  history of history? Is it closer to the history of historiography? The history of history writing is an important history to be told, yet the focus on historiography has often been asserted, in recent decades anyway, to imply (for no inference is clear) that history is only the writing of it (the telling) and that there is no possible objective truth of history, and that there remains a perpetual ambiguity about the past, one that leaves opened for all examiners of the past to chant the more comforting mantra,anyone can say anything? I do understand the idea that all ideas competing for acceptance must have no censor. But is this what we have when everyone everywhere must say something about anything that arises as a trend? It is not only the fact that everyone must form some sound bite bit, in a new social grotesque, for our ears to chew (and yes, our ears do chew up the truths of our history), but that we must entertain whatever inanity exits the mouth of the many who do have nothing to say; that is, if we were to be honest about people’s thoughts and not be bound by a new and psychopathic sense of politeness that forces us to consider things said by others far longer than is necessary.

I remember when some people everywhere would say, Who’s to say? We do love rhetorical questions, and this who’s to say? was set in opposition to just about anything said that required inquiry, examination, research, thought, the tranquility of sober reflection, any of these independently, or all of them collectively. Any or all of them were too much for any of us to think we wanted to devote our time to such matters or manners. The rhetoric was positioned to reinforce anything like the fore mentioned devotion was unnecessary. We had better, yes, more important things to do. Our time was precious, especially when devoted to spinning our wheels.

Who’s to say?was a question posed by those who did not know and had no determination to find out, and so pretended that no one could say anything about what they had no patience to learn. The horror of our existence–one of them, anyway–was that this crept into not just the public schools in matter of teachers teaching–necessitating that the teachers become more bureaucratically correct rather than educated at the university level, actually learning a discipline and knowing something. We had to lower standards in the matters of teacher achievement to include more people who could become teachers. They did not have to know as much in the matters of knowledge, actually qualitatively expressed, and instead only needed to  jump over a few more low standing hurdles in a counting exercise for bureaucrats. Anyone who wanted to be a teacher could have these bureaucratically conceived requirements totaled on a check-list. As the check-list was filled with checks, the final analysis left a person a teacher. A license was offered and the person made bureaucratically correct, verified by addition. This of course was closer to what the Wizard does for the Scarecrow at the end of The Wizard from Oz (itself an anti-intellectual critique). We needed a pedagogy that could align itself with the just add water, just add milk lives we were living. Instant something became instant anything in turn becoming the need for instant everything. Bureaucracy managing everything including our epistemology–the horror.

There were significant and detrimental side effects of our culture persisting in this need for instant gratification, a necessity to undermine values of achievement while insisting on revising standards to include more people in matters considered intellectual and academic, believing all the time that we were spreading democracy more broadly by deflating previously established and unnecessarily elitist standards of intellectual achievement and academic investigation–another form of America’s love affair with anti-intellectualism. The idea that there are no experts spread as people clamored for the attention once denied to them because they in fact did have nothing to say on so much of what they now had an opinion about; and the reason there were no experts was because expertise was lie (itself the greatest lie in our contemporary epistemology), therefore mostly unnecessary to pursue. We could reduce standards of achievement to make lesser minds more comfortable, and anyone was then able to say anything because opinions had only quantity, not quality, something both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis taught the world. We do forget and thus relive the horrors of history.

Repeat any lie enough times and it gains validity, momentum, yes, believability, of course. Something can be valid and not believed. Our media manages to get most people on board with programmatic behavior and thinking in a way the Nazis would have loved to have achieved; that is, the way the media manages both its advertising and its propaganda–and America id rife with propaganda. If anyone gets enough people repeating a lie, it will gain believability faster than if you alone continued to repeat the lie, which of course also gives some validity to the lie, at least from the point of view of how advertising or propaganda works successfully. Revisionism ad nauseumis what we have in the academy, lies and more lies repeated not only about facts from the past which would always need reexamination–and in fact were reexamined throughout successive stages of historiography–but the idea that there is no Truth at all, or that there are no absolute values, or even minor ‘t’ truths is something that has had a profound on our theory of knowledge, of what is knowable.

Of course, what we now have is a new brand of the will to power, and those who go along are carried by the force of the new Truth as power, or by arithmetic, the addition of dollars or of people as popularity. This is the magic additive power that makes mediocrity a success, and transforms ethics into accounting, The rich getting richer is the first and last in our social ethics, espoused by President Obama as he convinced us we had to save the rich to save ourselves. Something like this happened on the Titanic when steerage was told there were no lifeboats for them, and that they should wait patiently to drown in the icy Atlantic waters, comfortable in knowing that societies betters were going to be saved. (Long live the British, and of course this is a prime example of white privilege at work–wait! No. It was a power elite managing the lives and deaths of white Irish in steerage. A Titanic today in the American scheme of things would drown white and black poor and save the white and black rich.)

Social media help reinforce this idea of additive truths amounting to something–or, as has been apparent for sometime, at least over the last quarter century, Truth itself, if ever we see or feel the residue of this upper case Truth, is a matter of a special addition, the kind of facts and figures that get managed by our media or our State Department or Presidents or Governors or Mayors in America–all of these side effects of the bottom line of everything being the bottom line. Could America’s Book of Life be the ledger? Perhaps it will become The Good Book, the only book, keeping accounts is not what history is, but the business of business and how business is managed and recorded has affected what we do with history, to history, for history. Facts, facts and more facts, added, subtracted, kept in lists of facts like numbers entered in a ledger to keep accounts of one’s money, all about accounts payable and receivable–this is all we have of history, facts and dates without articulation, without argument because we believe that facts speak for themselves, that the pursuit and the keeping of facts is an asceticism to be maintained–it will cleanse us. All of us have become Mr Gradgrind.

Written by jvr

February 11, 2019 at 12:18 pm

GOD’S FINGER TO ADAMS

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I

A good degree of what is behaviorally characteristic of the chimpanzee would be relevant to a definition of myself as human if the homo-sapiens were the first, the last and the foremost in my definition of myself.  I am 98% identical in DNA with our primate brothers, the chimps, as are all homo-sapiens. I would mark nothing distinct by being human from being homo-sapiens.  The terms would be synonymous, and with the way our culture  thinks rhetorically today, these synonyms would be interchangeable in all contexts.  What is good for homo-sapiens is good for human, is good for me Chimpanzees are a lot like us and we are like them, but then this has to do with our animal nature–there is a dual nature in us. Do you think all those missionaries who were propagating the missionary position had any idea they were also sponsoring the monkey way? You understand that chimps copulate face to face.

I once saw the Sistine Chapel depiction of the Creation of Adam.  It was a revelation to me in the critical distinction between human nature and homo-sapiens nature.  The homo-sapiens is an evolutionary contingency from the creation of the universe by God, or so I used to think, and I am not so disposed of disposing this notion yet.  The human is a divine modification on this animal, homo-sapiens.  Adam, thus, represents a transformation of the homo-sapiens into that divinely inspired being, the human. There in Michelangelo’s fresco is a wonderful representation in  a Judeo-Christian analogy to what the ancient Greeks meant by enthusiasm, or enthousiasmos, which was a divine malady every poet wished for, being thus infected by the spirit of the muses, leading to creative excellence by them. Il a ete touche par dieux, my maternal grandfather used to say in French whenever he saw someone who was lame or suffering some other physcal or mental malady, the latter of which had visible physical manifestations. He who is touched by God has also been wounded by God. The French blesser means to wound, the past participle blesseis the origin of the English ‘blessed,’ but means ‘wounded.’

The transformation imposed by God from earth or ground, adamahinto man, Adam . . .Adam is infected with the energy of his divinity by the Hebrew God Yaweh, or our humanity is by whatever great divinity has supremacy in the universe of being.  Let all repetition become motif. As we know from above, the word blessedcomes from the French blesser, to wound; thus, to be blessed is to be wounded, for the human to be touched by the divine is to suffer a wound as Christ’s divinity within bears a great wound on his humanity even before his crucifixion. Each to his or her own cross.

II

We do have to draw lines.  We don’t do that anymore.  We erase.  The eraser has failed us even more greatly than the graphite end had for millennia. One hundred and fifty years of using white-out has left the page a mess. We have become enamored with erasing boundaries in an adolescent belief that we were going to make ourselves freer. But this makes liberty by inverse inference license.

With hands, with mind, with heart, or with soul we hold; so then, what is possessed?  To be possessed by means what?  To hold something with the senses as well as with hands; to hold something with the mind.

Allnoumenaas real and tangible as phenomenaare tactile. There is always an element of choice in what we think, how we think.  What does it mean to say element of choice, though, herein I choose what I believe?  Can people switch faith?  As faithless as we live, it should be easier than many think.

Having humanity cannot be equal with the nature of the homo-sapiens; it must be otherwise.  Neither can it be passive.  I am able to breathe not because I choose to.  I drink water and I piss, but I do not piss because I choose to; I might have some choice in where and when, but not in whether I have to or not. I am, though, only able to have humanity because I choose to have it.  I am able to catch cold, but then this virus does not intend to infect me whereby the muses do, as does God in this conception.

We must reconsider the relationship of the human  to the divine.  I do not pretend to resolve the debate that others venture when they consider whether God created humans or human need created God, but here it is asserted that humanity is a choice, one everyone has before him or before her.

III

We must decide how we are going to talk about ourselves as humans. We have to define humanity as something more than simply those factors that determine our status as one of many animals on the planet. Human is human; Homo-Sapiens, Homo-Sapiens. Where do the twain meet, if they do–how? The Homo-sapiens on its own, alone as Homo-sapiens, cannot be human or become human without humane choices. This is clear enough to me and for you to understand. It is the act of choosing that makes us human, for better or for worse, for Good or for Evil.

Evil is the result of human choices in an anti-humane way, thus the person acting accordingly becomes an anti-human. This anti-human is absent of light, that light we have understood as a metaphor for the higher elections necessary for becoming human, and yes, it is a becoming that happens to the Homo-Sapiens when his or her choices are humane, as we have already said. Light remains a valid metaphor for good, for what we might consider in another religious context, divine. What then is Good?

We do not, though, have to enter a discussion of the existence of divinity, or the supernatural. I refuse to get all religiously fanatical or crazy filled with what fills most religious nuts when they talk about humanity and divinity, the former never being too far from being the Ape of God. I am simply taking about the distinctions between human and homo-spaiens, what they stand for and how each of us has this duality in our nature. We are always one-hundred per cent Homo-Sapiens; we are always becoming one or another kind of human.

Now, this fore mentioned anti-human is absent of those attributes we call humane: compassionate, kind and considerate; sympathetic, tolerant and understanding; forgiving, merciful and benevolent; generous, charitable . . . we could go on, but not indefinitely. Acting contrary to these principals is inhumane. Inhumanity is not a sum total; it is always in a context between two human beings, one of them putting that humanity in jeopardy when choices are contrary to humane ones. We are always in conflict with being humane, always one step from being beyond good and evil. The next step can be purely Homo-Sapiens.

IV

What is our prime condition? What is the first and the last of our being? We question and respond to our questions with more questions, other questions, all of them extended as if we could not know, as if there were no answers and only an endless stream of responses. We all of us look to our media to glean facts and present them as knowledge, as if the two were inter-changeble in meaning. Many of us look to television to find out how we should think, what we should do, when we should act and what we are feeling about events that happen to us and around us. We are confused.

Facts, facts and more facts are heaped on us. We are buried under an avalanche of information only intended to keep us weighted down, in position, a way to form us by informing us. We cannot hear ourselves think with all the buzz and chatter around us. We do have the ability to overhear ourselves. Yes, we are able to overhear ourselves. Each of us stands as one–sometimes less than one, fragmented, fractured inn our Selves.

Alone, in isolation, an island in a sea of humanity, each of us. And yet we possess the potential to stand in macrocosmic relationships to the many pluralities of our associations. I am macrocosm to men, to being American and to America, to nation and nationality, to religion and to Catholicism, to gender, sex, sexuality, to job, to place in the cosmos, to my position in any supposedly larger context than my singularity, my simple separateness, allows. I am even macrocosm as a Homo Sapiens to the larger context of the species Homo Sapiens. I must act accordingly with responsibility–obligations ensue.

How could something as common as our species, something as broadly derivative as our kingdom, mammals, be the determining factor in our humanity? I have asked this question before. I always come to the resounding, It cannot! I am human not because I am Homo-sapiens, although it is only because I am Homo-sapiens and not a Chimpanzee that I can become human–God’s finger to Adam, you know. God touches the Homo Sapiens and in this way transforms the ape into Adam.

V

I am pursuing allegory, here. Do you remember the Sistine Chapel, the pane with God reaching his finger out to Adam who reaches to receive the touch by God, and in having received this touch by God, becomes human, no longer simply Homo-Sapiens. Creation is an interruption in evolution. Creation is a mediation. But then to be touched by God is to be wounded; we have to recall the French origin of the English word blessed. Blessed comes from the French word blesser, which translates, to wound. Yes, to be blessed is to be wounded. Remember Francis. Humanity is then a stigma, the stigma of having been touched by God, bearing the responsibility of that mark of divinity. Again, I am speaking allegorically, metaphorically.

Being human could be simplified thus. . . but how then can you simplify humanity? I do not ask, thinking that this question has too many potential essays inquiring, inquiring and inquiring. I think we must reexamine our rhetorical strategies–and they are strategies we adopt whether we are aware they are strategies or not . . . what then must we say about this thing we call humanity, this thing we call being human, and all gerund phrases are things. Loving is a thing we do, a thing we receive, a thing we engage . . . to include anything and all things directly relevant with the species homo-sapiens in our definition of humanity lessens the notion? Am I certain that this kind of addition is in effect a subtraction? I am still acutely aware that I believe in hierarchies.

Being human is . . . all humans, we must remember, would include Nazis, sadists, sociopaths and pedophiles, as a limited set of examples showing who or what is human if the simple and only way to determine our humanity orbiting human was to point to our having been born a Homo-sapiens. Murderers too, if we were to broaden the notion of what it means to be human in the fore mentioned way. I was born; I now must live and choose to be human.

Having humanity in this sense of having it at birth would be a simple thing to possess; one would qualify by living any way he chose and in our current culture’s love affair with solipsism, I’m not so sure we are not far from entrenching this way of thinking. Having been born should guarantee we deserve respect, thus encouraging humanity to grow; but I still must choose to be human, to have humanity, to act humanely–only this way does it grow in me. If I were human by just having been born, then I would have only biology as my chief, if not my exclusive reference for my humanity.

Ethics would not exclude appetite; thus, the ethics of male sexual appetite and how for centuries it has devoured female sexuality, or how it has directly motivated how women and their sexuality are defined by male sexuality, would have persistence, endurance, and be justifiably considered humane, worthy of the human and not something sole reserved for a special speciesism.

VI

Male sexual appetite and the male’s appetite for territory or property as an extension of pituitary sense of territoriality can be justified in this kind of ethics in spite of how strongly contemporary feminists lean toward legislating morality. You know what that means, don’t you? You know what it has meant historically for women, don’t you? Try to take food away from a hungry dog; try to take away the control men have had over the definitions of women. But then contemporary feminists have been equally repressive of themselves. Many of them bear their weight, often in a circumscribed collectivity, on the simple separate woman. Many of them come at the simple separate woman complete with slings and arrows; every overarching definition of who woman is, when she is, where, why and how she is; validating one set of determinisms after another: who she is, what she is, what she should be, must be, would be if not for . . . every woman becomes her own Saint Sebastian.

We have spent a great deal of energy perpetuating one kind of grotesque romanticism set diametrically in counterpoint to each Enlightenment humanism; and there is more than one of everything. Can humanity be framed by the many humanisms we conclude? What is prima facie about our humanity? There is the humanity I have, the humanity I show, yet this must be humane, the only way to be human. In this way then, humanity can only be in those who have this humanity we have here inferred: it exists only in those who show humanity to other human beings; that is, only in those who are humane in their actions toward, and their interactions with, other persons. Whether a person has chosen to be human or remain purely Homo Sapiens is the crux.

I do not have to watch the ball I drop out the window fall to know that it has indeed fallen. But then much of this humanity I am talking about has a lot to do with traditional notions of a pan human experience or experiences–and there are pan human experiences, many rooted in the common Homo Sapiens experiences we can easily delineate. But everything Homo Sapiens has human accoutrements, may or may not be humanized, we could say. So then, how much of what kind of humanism has become part of my idea of humanity, part of the definition of what humanity is? Is there a when for humanity? I do not wish to exhaust this notion, nor am I trying to develop and ethical evolutionary theory of the human.

We do, though, have to categorize the Homo-Sapiens and the Human. Each is distinct, yet related, correlative and contingent as much as they are mutually exclusive in many of their attributes.

Epilogue

I wake reaching out my hand in the dark, extending the index toward something I cannot see but am fairly sure is there, I cannot tell myself why, nor name what I imagine is there, or so I say to others in my head after the fact, after having woken from the dream where I woke reaching out my hand in the dark, extending the index toward something I could not see nor name. I did not and do not ask myself questions about what was there that I could not see. Each time I tell it the something or someone there remains equally indiscernible. I am no closer to knowing who or what was there–perhaps it remains fro me to finish the dream as I would a story; perhaps it is all a story, every dream a kind of fiction or drama or cinematic montage, or all together as one something else.

 

Written by jvr

February 8, 2019 at 11:43 am

FREEDOM IS A SHORT NECK AMONG GIRAFFES

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I have noted with increasing rapidity over the last decade the number of times reasonably educated and liberal-minded people betray a willingness to abandon a traditional commitment to freedom. Any publicly expressed defense of rights is usually met with disinterest or derision from members of whatever crowd I find myself among. Any time an individual openly takes to task a representative of any government bureaucracy, or any individual representative of any institution, for violating one’s rights or conspiring against civil or constitutionally protected liberty, the person taking to task becomes a pariah among others in the vicinity; co-workers will scatter like roaches once this happens in a work place. We must be convinced of the necessity for docility in face of bureaucratic encroachment of our freedoms, or the abuse of authority granted members of city, state or federal police agencies, or in face of the arbitrariness of any bureaucrat anywhere in decision making, and the complete disregard that bureaucracies in general have for the people they pretend to serve, and the maddening diction and rhetoric of evasion that virtually all of them use all the time.  And yes–all of the time here is not hyperbole.

We even say things like the Second amendment has no relevance today, that it is an antiquated remnant of an age that holds little validity for us as a model for faith in the cause of eternal Liberty, or as an example of how to react to a long usurpation of our freedom, and any person’s pursuit of happiness. We no longer warn our leaders that we are a people within whom exists the spirit of resistance. No people can long withstand such usurpation of civil libertiesas we allow today without either exploding in rebellion or being crushed in oppression. And we do allow this usurpation of our liberty, gladly, for a little of what we call peace. The Patriot Act is one such example of how we will barter liberty for what we perceive as peace, security. But again–at what price is this peace paid for? I have to stand with Thomas Paine and what he knew was common sense–although, today, what was common sense to the generation of our founding fathers, yes, fathers, is not all too common now.

Our leaders have become our rulers, letting the rich get richer, at the same time carnival barkers like Obamasell us the idea that rebellion is never necessary, that fierce criticism of the elite is not what we need, but that what we must do is support Wall Street and give them money to save us from being poorer than poor. If we have not come to see that Obama has been the bitch of the bankers then we are blind. I am sorry, but if the President wants to laud former drug dealers in the White House–and herein I have no intention of thinking that I must by some misguided sense of necessity be Christian in my forgiveness–then some of the diction of gangsta rappers is applicable–Obama is the banker’s bitch.

Obama is also an adversary of Truth; he is an adversary of the people and favors all of us becoming state serving publicans. This does not put me in the camp of the Republicans who are able to be as heinous as I perceive them to be only because Democrats like Obama have shifted right of the the metaphysical political center. He is a defender and supporter of the power elite making him thus an adversary of liberty and not a representative of the people. He stands opposed in his deeds to all the founding principles articulated by Jefferson and Madison. Obama is as much an opponent of liberty as Bush or Cheney; he is even a greater threat to the stability and security of the United States and its people. He clearly dropped the ball on ISIS as he had on Benghazi. He is as he has been for the duration of his two terms a foreign policy nightmare. And yet, we believed Obama would stand for the little man, mostly because he was black–another indication of how endemically racist we are as a populous. Perhaps he tried to help the simple separate person more than has been apparent; however, he has been pulled by the strings of the monied elite, and that’s not something we should equivocate about saying just because he is African-American. Our refusal to take him to task is our media’s inability to handle race truthfully and organically, and only symbolically, through media formed signs and media delivered soundbites; the medium does become the message. Not being able to critique Obama appropriately is nearly as racist as if the media said, You can’t let niggers run the show. 

We are in love with flipping coins in America, as much as we are with political and rhetorical ping pong or a game of hop-scotch with Truth. Obama has also been as big an opponent to greater democracy as either Bush junior or Clinton before him, but then the Republicans and their maniacal conservatives are not the answer to Obama; but then, the heinousness of the Republican party aside, I can’t seem to run for cover under the leadership of Obama. Democrats and Republicans both serve power; they both are at the beck and call of the monied elites, at best, before they respond to the people; at worst, they respond to the latter not at all. We assumed Obama was going to defend the common man, that he would champion the everyday citizen, and I do believe he tried more than those who say he did not try at all. We did believe in the Obama hope primarily because he was black. Again, we are endemically racist, only not in the way the media likes to message we are.

In matters of race and all isms related, we can only flip a coin. In the Serengeti of American Politics, Liberty is a short neck among the giraffes.

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Written by jvr

February 4, 2019 at 12:17 pm

INDIVIDUALITY DIVISIBLE

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In America, multiculturalism is only acceptable if it is bourgeois, and “bourgeois” is a credible term used in socio-economic and socio-political analysis for most levels of society delineated by a professional class and an upper middle income to upper income strata.  It is not an age specific reference that has no more import or importance than the slang of your grandfather’s radical youth.  Our degraded college education notwithstanding, what we now deem in our ignorance, pretentious.  Nonetheless, if it is bourgeois, this new mu;ticulturalism, then its political body has been infected by the tapeworm of American Capitalism, a kind of American consumerist parasite internalized by all those from everywhere else in the world. Our worldwide influence everywhere pervasive, invasive, distorting, informing as putting in form through the dissemination of American information.  Even in our academies of higher learning, as long as multiculturalism remains bourgeois liberal and Americanist, it stays acceptable; culture being no more than the dress you wear, the suit you put on, a fake or an artificially theatrical sense of authenticity.

Now, as long as the ledger book rules the minds of our universities, nothing organic in the way of cultural expression will ever be seen on our campuses.  We need truth, a good dose of it; but we have opted for, instead, a debilitating and overly formalized politeness, a sense of decorum and what we name professionalismthat has placed muzzles on our mouths, manacles on our pens, and straight jackets on civil liberty.  There is no mid-level administrator today under forty that has a sense of liberty I had once taken for granted, and will not see his or her participation in the evaporation of the four freedoms, or how his or her actions have helped pave the way toward decreases in civil liberty. Even the left in America has become an enemy of Free Speech.  But then on the opposing side of my argument, at least in rhetorical counterpoint, Jim Crow never saw how his actions or his rhetoric contributed to a society, overall, less than free, thus a society in desperate need of fulfilling its promise to freedom, to its Constitutionally guaranteed four freedoms that it held up to the world as a torch to light the way of liberty through global darkness and oppression.

Big words, weren’t they? The tired and the poor did come here for freedom. We believed the words on the Statue in Upper New York Bay, we understood them, even when we did not always institutionally guarantee them.  We held them up like the pillars of freedom we were taught to be, to expect as an ever present need for each of us.

My father had taught me that freedom only ever exists between two people, and that if it is not there between two people now, then it it is nowhere for any of us, for all of us.  Individuality has not been respected for I can’t say how long; and the increase in disrespect for individuality, even coming from those who think they are expressing their individuality most [pronouncedly, is part of the problem our freedoms face. The erosion of liberty is a problem for any society wishing to uphold anything like the Four Freedoms of the First Amendment;  the Patriot Act is heinous call to fear, a succumbing to the basest instincts of our homo-sapiens’ nature, not much in the way of our humanity which must always remain humane.

The First Amendment is not for the the great social en-masse, if you permit me; it is firstly and lastly for you and for me, but also for him and for her, as it is for everyone, each and every single separate person regardless of race, of color, of ethnicity, of political or religious persuasion, often neither very different form the other.  Although, this unique freedom for everyone not exactly for all has just that, a conundrum; not exactly allbecause all is all, not everyone; everyone and all are distinct, grammatically, thus rhetorically, but also metaphysically.

Politics has a metaphysics, as does freedom.  Now even if the difference is too subtle to grasp on first observation, it will become apparent on further examination: the latter is singular; the former is plural.  Now this plurality has a unique relationship to the individual in the metaphysics of freedom: I am we the people as you are we the people as she is as he is as anyone must be otherwise we the peoplebecomes meaningless.  If I am not we the peoplethen no one is we the people; I am only because everyone else can be too, and is too, each to his own central position in any freedom at all.  If I am not we then we debase the freedoms of the Constitution and make of them something malleable; they become subjected to the rhetoric of numbers, all becomes numerically verifiable.  Our ethics and law become numerical, arithmetic, subject to the whims of addition and subtraction, which is a bourgeois bureaucrats paradise, but a nightmare for a people wanting to live free.

There will always be a sum without a total in the irreducible individual human being, therefore freedom, when subjected to this bureaucratically administered arithmetic, becomes an ever elusive freedom, something that cannot be summed or summarized. We the people is thus never realizable; thus it becomes managed by an oligarchy of economic and power elites as we have today in America, the land of the rich and powerful and millions of people willing to work for half of what anyone in such a country should work for.  We the people is real and tangible in me, but not in the minds of those who administer our livelihoods or our freedoms; freedom exists between you and I, but not in the public domain in practice; we are fast becoming a democracy of silence.  Every you and I that happens to be interactive in the arena of freedom has found that that arena has no longer the spectators it once had, but remains a demonstrably prohibitive freedom.

Nonetheless, irrespective of institutional protection of my freedom, each one of us remains macrocosmic to any sum total of all the rest of us, no matter how many bureaucrats recite the hymns of state by heart, no matter how many of them rationalize to the contrary, or enact policies that put our civil liberties in jeopardy of being taken away by the state.

Individualism, to the contrary, has only increased its ismistic referencing in our rhetorical strategies concerning the package of individuality over the product of individuality, and all to the detriment of the people as an eternal force to counterbalance state.  Individuality has become an abstraction on an abstraction; thus the people have become one kind of public or another depending on what the social context demands.  How can I or anyone hope to understand what individuality means when true political and social individuality is so countermanded by one pluralism after another, one determinism in assault against any or all notions of free-will, an assault backing up these pluralisms. I had a supervisor at an ESOL program in Brooklyn say to me, directly:  There is no Truth; there are no truths, minor or smaller case; there is only what you and I think.

I knew she would never know that she was helping turn American values of justice in a swing toward the will to power; a human societal variation on survival of the fittest.  This will to power traced along lines of fitness will resemble either the strongest in force, whether brutal or otherwise; or strength as richness, richness as moneyed elites taking and exercising oligarchic power over our lives, pulling the strings of those who pull the strings of bureaucracy, but also legislators, even Presidents.  Obama, O bankers!  The Democrats are just as monied, just as powerful as are the Republicans.  When they stand on podiums to tell me they speak for the people, I guess I must be grateful for the lesser of two evils.

The banks got right behind Obama; the same banks that almost plunged us into economic chaos were right there to support him.  But then in a Union dispute with the above mentioned supervisor’s agency, one arbitrated between her organization and my union, one for a violation of contact she had initiated and found backing for by management, cutting hours from my full-time schedule when it had become known  that I was making more money than she was because I had been there several more years than she, she lied and lied again, and again, under oath (but without fear of punishment for perjury) even fabricating memos I had never received, all in an effort to circumnavigate around a contractual agreement protecting workers against the arbitrary infringement from management on their livelihood and the number of hours they worked.

With Ms. X’s adherence to her own solipsistic view of the world over any sense of truth or objectivity, submitting falsified documents under oath was a breeze.  I did, however, win back my job, but I had already begun working elsewhere.  The Jewish Community House for which I worked in had put saving money ahead of truth, but then we will say “whose truth.”  I don’t dispute that I had a slant, that I had a pov unique to the problem at hand, but every contention was not arbitrary in spite of it having been arbitrated; some matters were concrete.  Nonetheless, nevertheless, however which way the winds of fate may blow–is there a thing called fate?  If so, then there would be nemesis and furies and other kinds of mythological retribution and divinely spurred justice.

This distasteful episode in my life aside, let me get back to our Great Leader, President Obama for whom the hopes and aspirations of a new generation of pseudo-liberals hangs.

O bankers! Obama. I succumb to the alliterative impulses of my ear. Obama! O bankers.

Didn’t Obama’s Treasury Secretary Geithner initially have as his four top aids former members of three of the biggest transgressors in our current economic debacle; weren’t they employed by Goldman Sachs, Bank America and HSB?  Am I mistaken?  I really have not come to bury Caesar . . . yet I keep seeing the pen in my hand turn into a shovel . . . sometimes I dream a pen in my hand turns into a dagger, et tu, publius, he says. No, snake-oil salesmen; I am We the People.

All references to President Obama as less than we would like to see him, as less than others have hoped he would be, as many in America might still believe he is . . . any reference to him as less than his smooth oratory and ad-man slickness can sell to the contrary not withstanding, allow me to side step back  into the First Amendment, something along with the Fifth the state has been tightening its grip on.  And I do not see Mr. President doing as much as could be to turn the tide of a state less friendly than it at least once pretended to be, at least believed it had to appear other than. Package, not product. How is it we think that advertising and the ledger book does not inform our ethics, our sense and expectations of and for public service and public servants?

We are the crassest empire in history–if I may be permitted to indulge a penchant I have for hyperbole–and the idea that we are the most free society is also ridiculous. I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean, most free. We are frequently confusing liberty for license, all the time talking beside the point in too many matters of our freedom.

The State here in America only pays lips service to the exercise of freedom, at least the kind of freedom I had once believed was a birth right, had once taken for granted was always going to be present, that being both a little naiev then, but something else entirely now.  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; it’s just we were smarter, more literate, better educated and more willing to commit to social change in a tactile and tangible way.

We have come a long way from the old New Left, even further from the Old Left. You must miss the fact that some the most potent attacks on our freedoms have come from the left. Freedom of Speech is something no one from the left believes in anymore, and like Capitalists who never believed in Free Trade and only ever agreed on the restraint of trade, the new-New Left only agrees that Freedom of Speech should be restrained and that the Bill of Rights needs more topical, temporal and immediate revision.

As far as lip service for freedom, this is for certain when it comes to the people practicing a religion freely. Now freedom of religion is essential to the practice of the other three freedoms in the First Amendment. However, this state, our L’Etat, does little other than market the idea of freedom of religion, setting in place one government advertising campaign or another where saying we have freedom of religion makes it so, and no one has the acumen to judge or to question the validity of the assertion.

We don’t even know how to judge where churches and synagogues abuse their civil liberty to express religious views, where the state and the religious begin and end–no, we do not.  We would need far greater literacy than we teach in our high schools or even at the undergraduate level, especially in the community colleges where most Community College professors are singers of their own praises, each one an academic Babbit of the Sinclair Lewis variety. Lewis’s Babbit is in the line of Dickens’s Mr. Gradgrind, whose determination to teach nothing but facts, facts and more facts, is right alongside everyone who disputes any of Darwin’s hypotheses, no longer hypotheses, and forget that The Earth is flat was once a fact.

So much of our acumen is the acumen of the adolescent; but then, so much of Russian or European acumen is the acumen of the disgruntled old man.  There’s maturity in neither.  Who any of us are can only be answered in relation to a set of neo-stereotypes as facts, those verified anddisseminated, again, by our mass media.  We used to think that the illiterate populations kneeling in the pewes of the cathedrals of western Europe during the middle-ages were no better than bleating sheep; it was not that long ago that we were smug in our self-satisfaction that we were not only an advanced civilization, but that ours, here in this America, was certainly the best of all possible worlds.

This was especially true in the dogmas received in Public School from Old and New Left teachers in the sixties andthe early seventies.  We never considered that any mental or physical malady we uncovered, recognized, found treatments for were maladies we had created by our civilization and its pervasive, if not insidious, mentality.  No!  We were treating sickness that humanity had always suffered from but was not advanced enough to cure.

We are evolving beyond the need for liberty. I once asked this as a question. It is no longer a question; it is what is for those of us who might even recognize the need for some liberty. We are quick to hand over control of our lives to the very people we say are too corrupt to do anything but mismanage our lives, the small part of those lives the State still pretends to be interested in.

We must be convinced of this lack of necessity for liberty because we say things like the Second Amendment has no relevance today, that it is an antiquated remnant of an age that holds little validity for us as model or example, whose leaders have ceased in validity as mentors for anyone today. But wouldn’t that be the expected assertion from those members of the current status quo who don’t or cannot see any relevance beyond their own contemporaneity?

The state and any institution of power or finance or bureaucratically administered state services will always see individuality as something divisible, and certainly without liberty for all.

Written by jvr

February 1, 2019 at 11:56 am

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