New post. I went to bed last night thinking Sarah Palin was the Head of the VA...she still may be, and that will make for some fun writing for us...she understands Vets, her son came home and threatened his girlfriend with a gun. Yeah...Vote Vets is actually about to go psycho about this one...
He begins to sense the walls closing in, his options limited, his power constrained. He wants to fly in his own jet and discovers that after January 20, that just isn’t going to happen. How can he be expected to fly in an airplane where his bathroom doesn’t have gold fixtures? He is no longer important; his office lends him what importance he has. It’s a different kettle of foie gras…
If you're not familiar with Masha Gessen and you're interested in Russia and how autocracy works, you should be. She's a great writer and journalist. A Russian Jew and dual American citizen, she's lived much of her life in Russia, working as as journalist through the fall of the Soviet Union through Yeltsin and the rise of Putin and the Oligarachs. Her work appears in the Times, the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the Daily Beat, the Atlantic and any place intelligent people argue about exactly how the world is ending, fire or water. She's written about Putin based on both her journalistic reporting and one hell of scaring paternalistic intervention into her career; about Pussy Riot and the band's meaning; about the Boston Bombing and aftermath; and a recent book about a well-meaning Stalinist attempt to resettle Jews in Siberia. She's a talented, brave and uncompromising talent and spokesperson.
1.Believe the Autocrat. A more elegant writer than I, she doesn't put it this way but -- No matter how completely the statement uttered as policy is illiterate, ill considered, at odds with the facts on the ground and the general laws of god, nature, physics, mathematics and aesthetics, doesn't mean the rabid wombat who has taken control doesn't fully intend to do it. Think Mao deciding to make everybody build small blast furnaces in the courtyards of their buildings and thus triple the output of steel overnight...or Stalin, deciding to imprison or execute everybody in the senior ranks of the Army because he had a bad dream and figured he'd let the dialectic sort out the sheep from the goats. Or Trump saying he doesn't want to live in the White House...Fifth Avenue is going to never be the same. I'm not sure where Trump is going to rank on the lunatic-sociopath-psychopath-schizophrenic-bi-polar autocrat scale. I'm thinking of equating him with God in the theory that God is 80% malevolent but only 20% effective.
New Vets News Network Today Post. -- Lots of music ranging from a Ani di Franco Cover of Woodie Guthrie to Steve Earle and Dukes and Duchesses doing Hillbilly Highway to Gary Allan's remaster Juarez...to the horns of Hattin and the palisade at the Alamo...
Congratulations Crispin. Truth, justice and the American way triumph...understand you can say whatever you want to now about whatever you want to say, so long as it is in classic Greek with stones in your mouth. Way to go...
As Guy Clark wrote in The South Coast of Texas, “Living on the edge of the waters of the world calls for the dignity of whooping cranes and the likes of Gilbert Roland.” Instead, we’re offered the mortgage broker who lost his license and runs Hispanics for Trump and his concerns about Taco Trucks, and pigeons. (I feel compelled to state almost unequivocally, that there is no truth to the assertion that the meat in Trump Towers Chicken Taco Salad is a mix of pigeon and sea gull, any more than the beef taco is rat.)
We've always been a nation of barkers, self-promoters, embezzlers, yappers, scandal-ridden celebrities, Ponzi schemers, flamboyant junkies, throat-slitters, preachers of the prosperity gospel, liars, absconders, and bloated corpses. Finally, we have a politics worthy of our aspirations as a people.
concentrating on david walker and frederick douglass's american defiance. also: why w.e.b. dubois is overrated.
nice thumbnail! my insane look. let me elaborate on a couple of things. walker is a protestant individualist of the same sort as william lloyd garrison or lucretia mott is (or, in a secularized version, thoreau). what he asserts in the first passage i quote is that to claim to be the master of a human being is to usurp the prerogative of god: it is blasphemous among other things. he asserts that human beings have only one master, only one ruler. many of these figures held that the political state is a form of slavery, by the way.
on dubois. his best writing is in the souls of black folk. getting out into his literary material is really a slog through some terribly over-written stuff that doesn't really amount to a clear point of view. his early essay 'on the conservation of the races' takes race differences and race destinies extremely seriously in the 19th-century german mode, even if it emphasizes the positive aspects of blackness. douglass and many others are so much better in that they attack race itself as a self-serving ideology, not a basic human reality that cosmically drives history. dubois is characteristically back-and-forth and characteristically woolly at key junctures, often substituting mediocre poetry for definite assertion.
when garvey accused dubois of running the naacp at the behest of white liberals, he had a point, even if his statements were too emphatic. and there is an element of 'natural aristocracy' or enthusiasm for hierarchy (implicitly correlated with skin tone) in duboisian notions like 'the talented tenth,' which i regard as extremely unfortunate. his later pan-africanism and marxism took him in more radical directions, but didn't basically solve the intellectual problems or improve the writing.
however, his early sociological work, such as 'the philadelphia negro,' is excellent and important.
republican candidates had an argument that trump would never be the nominee: the voters are really smart; i have faith in the american people, etc. so i wonder whether these bozos are teachable? admittedly, the whole thing was the most boilerplatish pandering horseshit. but i pray they have lost the faith they never had. in fact, they believed that the american people are incredibly easily manipulated by emitting little catch-phrases, or engaging in diabolical yet idiotic strategic communications. the clintons are going the same way now: the american people are too good, too wise; i trust the american people. lord knows whether they've ever met any american people. but they sure do recite their little cliches mindlessly, which perhaps shows that they are themselves american people.
He admitted that he lived in Nashville because that was where the work was for him, but he as Texan as you can be, and all in a good way. Work hard, drink some whiskey, sit around with friends and talk shit while passing the IW Dance and a guitar. Be tolerant, kind, and take no shit. He was a frequent visitor to the "Guitar Pulls" at Johnny Cash's home. People would show up, play their stuff, and pick and grin and bullshit. Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Rodney Crowell, John Anderson, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris,Bobby Bare and whomever else was around would show up. Showcase their new stuff casually -- somewhere between "I've been working on this one" and "networking." Get ideas, add and steal licks, sing some harmony and learn from each other how their music could sound.
what this theory of communication which everyone appears to share (that communication is manipulation or propaganda in every case) has led to politically is this: a completely incoherent set of political positions on which people seem to be unanimously agreed in their demographic. so, the whole left since marx has been dedicated to achieving egalitarianism through maximum inequality of power. marxism is the most extreme and insane version of this, but no egalitarian can consistently be a statist, bro. indeed, the whole american left will end up voting straightforwardly for oligarchy, motivated essentially by vilification and dehumanization of their opponents.
on the other hand, watch the thrashing about right now about who is really a 'conservative' etc. now, is right-wing foreign policy militarist or isolationist? trump will run 'to hillary's left' on military interventions, etc. that doesn't mean anything, because 'right' and 'left' don't mean anything. do right-wingers want minimal government, or do they want laws telling people what bathroom to use (next: laws telling them how to poop, etc)? no idea bro, because 'the right' makes no sense.
every day i watch and am just stunned that people are throwing around these terms (left, right, progressive, conservative, etc) when they obviously have no idea of what they mean whatsoever. they don't even notice. that's because they are not trying to say or advocate the truth, but only to form up groups against one another. nothing could be more obvious, all the damn time. that is some sad sad shit.
total pacifism and resulting anarchism from william lloyd garrison:
We cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human government; neither can we oppose any such government by a resort to physical force. We recognize but one King and Lawgiver, one Judge and Ruler of mankind. We are bound by the laws of a kingdom which is not of this world, the subjects of which are forbidden to fight; which has no state lines, no national partitions, no geographical boundaries; in which there is no distinction of rank, or division of caste, or inequality of sex; and which is destined to break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms.
i'll just remark again that no matter who drew the conclusion (tolstoy, for example) or who did not, anti-statism follows obviously from pacifism, because the political state rests on force.
garrison was a big hero of my step-father, richard abell, who was a beloved teacher at sidwell friends in dc and walt whitman in montgomery county, md. of granite new hampshire stock, like nathaniel rogers, he was a quaker on and off, a conscientious objector in world war 2, and a draft counselor during vietnam. during his co service, he contracted polio and used a wheelchair after that. also, like garrison, he was a free speech fundamentalist: a lifetime supporter of the aclu, among other causes.
[richard and my son samuel abell sartwell, rolling around the farm in rappahannock county, va on the 'richmobile'. a handicapped-accessible organic vegetable farm. my mom still lives there.]
he took me to a few quaker meetings. silence is hard when you're 14 and known informally as 'the mouth.' well, 50 minutes of silence is still hard for me as an adult. i've had some influxes of spirit, though, in such circumstances. one thing that's helping in my time of trial is the beautiful quaker document a testament of devotion, by thomas r. kelly.
Who are the white people that we should fear them? They cannot run fast, and are good marks to shoot at. They are only men; our fathers have killed many of them. We are not squaws, and we will stain the earth red with blood.
In short, as a snow-drift is formed where there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an institution springs up. But the truth blows right on over it, nevertheless, and at length blows it down.
I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks and permit us to stand upright on that ground which God designed us to occupy.
the essay by douglass, "The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered," given as a commencement address at Western Reserve College in 1854 (!) - is one of a number of little-known treasures.
The relation subsisting between the white and black people of this country is the vital question of the age. In the solution of this question, the scholars of America will have an important and controlling part. This is the moral battlefield to which their country and their God now call them. In the eye of both, the neutral scholar is an ignoble man. Here, a man must be hot, or be accounted cold. The lukewarm and cowardly will be rejected by earnest men on either side of the controversy. The cunning man who avoids it, to gain the favor of both parties, will be regarded with scorn; and the timid man who shrinks from it, for fear of offending either party, will be despised. He that is not for us, is against us.
my next self-publishing project will be an anthology of american anti-authoritarian writings from the 17th through the 19th century. a number of fundamental texts here are far-too-little known and not widely enough available. many of them are quite unimaginably defiant. here is the toc, still subject to alteration:
Trial and Interrogation of Anne Hutchinson (1637)
Roger Williams, "A Plea for Religious Liberty" (1644)
John Woolman, "A Plea for the Poor, or a Word of Remembrance and Caution to the Rich" (1764)
Anti-Federalist Papers (1787)
Samuel Bryan, Centinel 1
Robert Yates, Brutus 3
Robert Yates, Brutus 6
James Madison, "The Virginia Resolutions" (1798)
Letter to Governor Harrison (1810)
Speech to the Osages (1812)
John Taylor of Caroline, "Authority" (1814)
David Walker, "Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World" (Preamble and Article 1, 1830)
Sarah Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (selections, 1838)
William Lloyd Garrison, "Declaration of Sentiments Adopted by the Peace Convention" (1838)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nathaniel Peabody Rogers
"Reply to a Correspondent" (1846)
Josiah Warren, Equitable Commerce (1846)
Henry David Thoreau
"Civil Disobedience" (1849)
"Life Without Principle (1863)
Lucretia Mott, "The Laws in Relation to Women" (1853)
Frederick Douglass, "The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered" (1854)
Angela Heywood, "Human Sex Power - Fleshed Realism"
Responding to the idea that God the Father demands capital punishment, Rogers writes as follows.
What would one of these fathers, here on earth, think of his family of children, who should set up such an institution, out of his door-yard where they go to play, and should string up little Charley or Anna or whoever by the neck, for some childish misdemeanor, done without permission of the majority of them? How would he feel - the depraved old gentleman - coming out, some time, to enjoy the glee of the young ones, to find one of them dangling by the neck, and older brother Sam, or Jim, standing dismally by, as Chaplain? And then Jim or Sam roll up the white of their eyes, and charge him with having ordained what they had been about.
If the family are of a gibbety temper and character, why let them have gibbets and be hanged to them. And if they don't hate one another quite bad enough for that, and do, for shutting up in dungeons for life or for years - let them have dungeons. Or fine or whip or crop ears, or whatever the family are malignant and hateful enough, to do. When they come to love one another, they will leave it off. Cross children will snap at each other and quarrel. Deprave them sufficiently, make them bad enough, and they will strangle one another.
as i've often said, i think that american transcendentalism is ineptly named; i'd prefer an antonym, actually, such as 'immanentalism.' now i think the canon needs expanding, and i think the narrative according to which transcendentalism was superseded by pragmatism is simplistic.
so, if i were assembling a set of transcendentalist essays, i might start with rogers. i would certainly include essays by voltairine de cleyre, perhaps 'the dominant idea' and 'crime and punishment.' and i might fetch up with zora neale hurston: i am straight up asserting that zora is an american transcendentalist in the thoreau mould. a volume focusing exclusively on her essays is long overdue.
in the hands of lit and phil profs, the transcendentalists have sunk into quaint american fossils, groovy proto-hippie nature children, with an embarrassing political individualism that no one can believe anymore, or that must be attenuated or vitiated under interpretation. but a good part of the whole thrust is political from the outset in rogers, emerson, thoreau: a radical anti-authoritarianism. and they have a beautiful individualism that is also not at all about economic self-seeking, but derives from protestant notions like the quaker inner light of god in each person. also, this individualism is a radical egalitarianism, as you see in rogers, in voltairine, in hurston. and it is an individualism that connects with the natural world in much the way many had previously connected to god, and then seeks to place us each as an individuals - not as races, not genders, not parties, not classes, not general wills - into the same shared world.
19th-century whiteness studies, from 'rhose island meeting':
rhode island was proposing a new constitution with a color qualification for voting.
To make it go down with the people, the pitiful creatures inserted a color qualification. They must put in white - the color of the gulls you see winging their uncouth flight up and down the harbor - to shut out three or four hundred colored people, who otherwise might, - when they get money enough, go to the free and equal polls, to choose their masters. The patron of the new Constitution had assumed the name of the "Free Suffrage party."
Their freedom showed itself in making a man's hue the test of his rights. They felt free to enslave a man if he was not white as a diaper. One or two of their demagogues came into the meeting. One was a Dr. Brown, a steam doctor, whose political morality seemed about as high as that of a railroad engine with a Jim Crow car to it; or a church with a "nigger pew." The Doctor gave us an exposè of his white ethics. It seemed he wanted to get suffrage for the white folks, in order, by and by to extend it to the black. [But getting the vote] would not have any tendency to help the colored people out. It would prove a worthless boon in their hands. The white folks would not acknowledge them as equals if they were nominally voters. They never would consent to their being candidates for any thing. They would treat them as "niggers" still.
i'm telling you this is a discovery: someone's going to have to convince me that a more important straight-to-e book has been published.
A great and almost unknown American writer from New Hampshire, Nathaniel Peabody Rogers (1794-1846) was the most radical American political voice of the antebellum period. He is also an undiscovered American Transcendentalist, at his best comparable to Emerson and Thoreau. Both men acknowledged Rogers' influence on them, and Thoreau published one of his first essays - collected here - on Rogers' work, recognizing his excellence as both a political and a nature writer. Anti-slavery drove all his thought, and as an abolitionist writer, only Frederick Douglass and Wendell Phillips are his rivals. Rogers was an anarchist, a pacifist, a feminist, an environmentalist, a religious heretic, an individualist, an anti-capitalist and an advocate of animal rights.
His writings are collected here for the first time since 1849, along with Thoreau's essay "Herald of Freedom" and other materials about Rogers and American radicalism of the early 19th century.
nathaniel rogers was an amazing radical and an amazing writer, and if you want to see someone in 1840 who speaks up for animal rights, against capital punishment, against slavery, against the state, for environmentalism as that came much later to be understood, for indian rights, and so on, and did so with extreme clarity, creativity and vigor, you've got to check this out. he was a decade emerson's senior, and he is a fundamental american transcendentalist.
my case should unite anarchists and tea partiers. they always should have been united. so perhaps, left anarchists, you think the advocacy of gun rights in country music is disgusting. well, over and over, the gun is wielded in country music and elsewhere in rural rightwingy culture, as a symbol of resistance to state power. maybe you favor black brigades rolling with rocks and molotov cocktail, but the damn impulse is the same, and even the motivation: the way people are being dominated and impoverished. so get over your little demographic fealty and reach across.