Thoughts on the Election

Your father is clearly a master poet, @JDockus—more potent and to the point than I!

I tried writing something this morning with the image central—Wherefore the turkey heart, digesting in your hand?

It failed, though.

I suppose there’s nothing like being there.

Well anyway, here was the beginning of my whatever, which at first was just meant to be a sort of fun holiday missive, then became a ‘poem’ and lost its way…


Happy post-Thanksgiving-day, @everybody
AKA the ‘holy day’ of Black Friday—
when sacrificial lambs are on firesale for 33.333% off

Oil is down at $47.13 a gallon
the Dollar is rallying against the Euro & the Yen
& the water cannons are let loose again

Homo economicus exhales…
It’s a good time to remember everything we resent.
All we spent (w/ free shipping) in our exile….

Such as: God is hate —and— Trust your fear.
And— If you see something, say something.

You may register your resistance with
the picture of a cat

ETC. & so on & so forth…


We need more substantial thoughts on the election. I mean, global crisis. If the shit’s really about to hit the fan, what’s not yet being understood or seen or revealed?

My Dad a master poet? Ha ha! I see where you’re going with the morbid humor: he bypassed all metaphors, mimesis and representation, and went straight to the source of life, plucking it out of the body, drying it off, and tossing it to me. Call us a couple of savages. Maybe he and I will come back reincarnated as a couple of turkeys.

You’re right about the need for more substantive thought about the coming Trump presidency, Marco, what the probabilities are in the coming years, and what one might do on a personal level to resist mob impulses and giving in to the fascist within. One way or another this is going to weave its way into many discussions, whether pushed underground or brought into the open. It’s unavoidable. I agree with Brian George’s remarkable analysis here. A Seer such as he is an illuminating source in these dark times. I’m so glad for his presence in the world. I myself have been reading articles from various places, soaking up different viewpoints and analyses, behaving somewhat like a chipmunk gathering acorns. Maybe there’s a hangover period being gone through now. Many may not be ready to begin speaking head on and more substantially about the Political landscape. I personally feel on Trump overload, close to burnt out with the initial shock of his election to U.S. president. Without completely veering off topic, this is why I added a little dark and satiric humor here to decorate this comment board. I myself am still trying to absorb and process the shock of what is happening, to shake myself out of stupefaction. I think of the idea of the filibuster, where one must keep talking to obstruct entrance of something bad. Something of this is in my present attitude. It’s important to remind each other that we’re here, alive and kicking in our sloppy and mysterious humanity, non-deducible, and not give in to despair. Any offering - even dark humor - is welcome. I think really disturbing content is often more successfully approached and gained entrance to indirectly.

This is remarkable. The following prediction in 1997 by philosopher Richard Rorty is making the rounds.

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I cannot agree more with Brian George’s excellent op-ed piece here, especially with his “deepest intuitions” which I share. Au fond, the election campaign taken as a whole indicates that business-as-usual cannot resonate with the American public if it doesn’t generate a certain level of economic security (its own can of “how sustainable is growth” worms). Beyond this, however, American political theater itself has essentially been a very expensive distraction for a very long time and I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
What to do? ‘Think globally, act locally.’ A cliché to be sure, but one no less true for its banality. A single individual can only do so much, but that should not stay one’s hand when a drop of positive energy can be added to the bucket. Researching and donating to charities is only part of what I mean here. Turn off a light not being used - for that matter even better turn off the TV! After a controlled daily dose of information, reduce the carbon footprint and get out amongst people for a reminder that demonic others are actually quite rare. Hold a door for some stranger with eye-contact and a hearty wish for a good day. Not advocating a sand-bath for the head here, because there are times which demand speaking out, but it can be so easy to forget to act in the everyday when submerged in a media-fueled climate of fear and despair.

Indeed! “Only a fool fights in a burning house.” Even Klingons get it. LOL

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Great pleasure to meet you here, T J Williams. In relation to the charismatically narcissistic and sociopathic power now looming over us, masquerading as genuinely concerned and good for the American People (a crock of shit), I think one of the greatest dangers on a personal level is being pulled under, into muteness of despair, which through time, under the radar, if one doesn’t resist by random acts of kindness as you suggest, or by robust displays of satire directed at dehumanizing targets, or by any genuine creative activity, will slowly but surely erode one within to the point of lethargic resignation. It’s in that zombie state that one is in real danger of finally giving in and becoming an irrational worshipper and unquestioning agent of the conman who would have everyone believe he’s an incarnation of God come to lead us out of darkness and poverty to a new golden age of prosperity.

This is a time for artists to get busy. The fascist tendency wants to eradicate all difference and complexity, to boil it all down, purging what it considers “impurities”, concocting something utterly simplistic and hatefully narrow, an Army of the Dead rallying behind stupefying slogans and occult banners. Art produced to counter this and challenge it doesn’t need to be overtly political. There just needs to be a productive use of energy which pushes back toward our humanity, in all of its wonderful difference and complexity, and doesn’t let us forget it.

P.S. I speak of actual concrete individualism, not to the blending-to-mud ideology of multiculturalism. There is something to be said for all the criticism floating around presently of liberal elitism. There are many traps in identity politics, actually feeding right into the fascist tendency. This could be an entire discussion.

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Our “information diet” (“us,” generally speaking—but of course the “us” is generally problematic)—seems to be a big part of the problem. I know it is for me; something I struggle with and against. I don’t know who or what to trust: what’s “nutritious” and what’s poison. I’ve come to feel that entire dimensions of the noosphere are toxic, laced with deliriants, tranquilizers, nerve gas. Social media is some kind of date rape drug. We wander around dazed in the nuclear blast zone, nibbling hungrily on irradiated rations. It’s all search engine optimized.

This is a deliberate effect, I’m coming to believe. At the very least, it’s a useful one. It’s not a matter of ‘fake news’ vs ‘real news.’ (It’s funny how occult a word for ‘the plural new’ might be.) It’s utter disorientation regarding fundamental ontological distinctions. A state of stupefaction. Psy-ops reality. The invasion is already well-underway.

What antidotes do we have? What good, healthy victuals might embolden us to create the future again? Or, is it the case, as it’s been said: the poison is the gift? To this, I would only reply, dosage is everything.

At the same time, no one said ‘waking up’ wouldn’t hurt.

@JDockus and @patanswer, I think you’re right to point to art and the primacy of immediate experience (i.e., everyday human reality, in the analog mode) as good medicine. At some point, we just have to snap out it. Get back to ourselves. Get out!

“Only a fool fights in a burning house.”

But then, in my view, we need to regroup—realize what’s hit us, study the situation with due sobriety, and take appropriate action.

This is a time for artists to get busy. […] There just needs to be a productive use of energy which pushes back toward our humanity […] I speak of actual concrete individualism…

Indeed, this could be an entire discussion. ‘Who am I?’ is still a darn good inquiry. Regarding the politics, I would say it’s not identities that are ever threatened, or that need to be protected, or that need promotion. It’s actual people, both individuals and groups of people, their cultural knowledge and social practices, art and ritual, the wholeness and integrity of the human. For example, at Standing Rock, it’s not ‘identities’ that are opposing the pipeline: the battle lines go so much deeper…to the very nature of our relations.

Oddly enough, ‘actual concrete individualism’ may require a new tribalism of anti-identityism, lest we allow ourselves to be atomized into a thousand narrow conceptual categories.

Marketers are very interested in our identity. Political operatives want to know our every belief and predilection. The state is especially interested in questions of identification. (We are likely already, most of us, ridiculously detailed in various centralized databases, involving highly accurate facial recognition, etc.) This is all said and done; well and good. It just tells me we need new ways of encoding our communications and constituting culture.

Me here at my computer on a Sunday morning, before dawn, spitting into the hurricane.

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Regarding left and right, there was an article in the Economist before the election with this graphic (markup mine).

The binary for me that I’ve been focussing on over the past couple years has been:

0 - closed to protect
1 - open to learn

From a quick google search this idea might have originated with the Course in Miracles. Whatever its source, I think it covers a lot of ground and I use it often when faced with daily challenges.

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Following on from Brian’s suggestion that something deeper than facile reasons or explicable tendencies, reactions or resentments are adequate to explain this extraordinary collapse of rationality, I do share his view of the deeper tide that takes all with it.

I sense some contributing elements:

The polarization post sixties between the love-in, new agey, know where it’s at society that has imposed a laissez faire morality, laissez faire acceptance of injustices that ignored real injury and the death of hope, and sought to suggest that everything could be cured by right thought. Increasingly right thought wore boots, and the gait of the stormtrooper.

That tramp is now incessant, it governs every aspect of acceptable conduct and acceptable opinion. One can hardly risk recognition that Muslims were responsible for the whole scale grooming of under-age rape victims in Rotherham, England; even the police turned a blind eye to the need to publicize this, because once accused of insttutionalised racism.

If Trump expressed anything it was his contempt for this, and that echoed long and loud in his followers. The hypocrisy of political correctness has become an incessant itch. He scratched it, and satisfied. The fact that whole arenas, women, Latinos, who should have been outraged, cheered, must indicate that a deeper need had been fed- to escape the pretense that had stifled for so long.

There is something of pantomime dame about Trump, anyone attending a pantomime is expected to hiss and boo, it is part of the performance. Whether he understands that is hard to decipher. But there is a kind of catharsis in drawing out the hissing painlessly.

In this week’s Spectator there is an article by Rod Liddle in response to the overweaning appeal that Britain must do more to make its prisons better. Instead he suggests they should be made much worse. The 85%? recidivism would be cut instantly if the relatively luxury recently exposed ( steak and chips on order by mobile and drugs delivered by drone) were replaced by hard labour and tedium. He quotes Carlyle’s descriptions of the worst inmates of a reformed prison, as being beyond reclaim " Miserable distorted blockheads, the generality: ape faces, imp faces, angry dog faces, heavy sullen ox faces, degraded underfoot perverse creatures, sons of indocility, greedy mutinous darkness and in one word, of stupidity, which is the general mother of such. Stupidity intellectual, and stupidity moral…had borne this progeny’

This now seems shocking for we have been innoculated against such uncompromising clarity. We run from admitting that we rejoice that someone can still express such views. Whether we admit to sharing them is not the point, but another humane prison doctor Theodore Dalrymple said much the same kind of thing after a lifetime saving the lives or treating those who simply exploited every kindness offered.

The Spectator is probably the most liberal right wing journal, allowing as it always does totally conflicting opinions about everything.

Another inclusion is an article by Melanie Philips suggesting that left wingers demonise Donald Trump despite sharing his views on almost everything from anti globalisation, protectionism, outsourcing jobs, re-nationalisation, isolationism, anti-Nato. and pro Putin. Perhaps the dark and the self styled light ( a la Corbyn and extreme left wing neo- sovietism) can no longer distinguish themselves from one another? THAT is a frightening truth. Could it mark the beginning of recognising that fascism wears only one face: Thought control? Language control? Words? The tramp of the storm trooper sounds the same whoever is wearing those boots.

I should have added that surely the purpose of communication is to tailor language to be appropriate to the listener. No good threatening Jihadis with death when martyrdom is the ultimate goal, or with publicity when the afflatus of publicity is their raison d’etre! No baby rapist (posting a video of the act) will be persuaded to steady employment and education. What I was inching towards was perhaps the use of intelligence rather than ‘ought’ thinking masquerading as morality!

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A most appropriate myth, visualised with huge humour and accuracy John. How DO you file such apposite offerings? I recall but never find!.

Open to learn; closed to protect.

I like this a lot. It’s simple tao. Middle way. Not too hard, not too soft; just right.

Also, it’s life-based, reality-based. Common sense. With this one thought, it seems to me, you could heal the so-called political divide.

In the meantime, however, it appears we have the opposite principle in ascendency, something more like, ‘open to exploit / closed to forget.’

Can this change? IMO, as we said re: Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s about hearts and minds.

But I also think “open to learn; closed to protect” points to a general design principle. It’s something a healthy organism (including a social organism), which is interdependent with other organisms, and is constantly interacting with its environment, must do—failing which it will cease to exist.

Perhaps ‘open to learn; closed to protect’ could be a social meditation of sorts. A heuristic koan, sublingual, suggesting common ground for how boundary-level decisions are arrived at.

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One curious thing about the psychology of Trump is that it is known that Norman Vincent Peale was a major influence on him- the Trump family regularly attended his church services during his upbringing. I’ve wondered if this is why, whenever he was criticized about something on the campaign trail, we would see him doubling down instead of backing down. Even when people would joke about something like the small size of his hands, he would fire back about how his hands were actually quite large, steady, etc. I’ve wondered if, beyond his typically-cited masculine insecurity, he was also applying positive thinking to a toxic degree, twisting any and all criticism into personal affirmation. His lies, embellishments, and braggings have the hallmarks of someone trying to command reality to obey them.

Good to see more voices. Pleased to meet you, Brad Sayers. I was gonna reply to your comment for more explanation of what you mean, then Marco breathed life into it. He did a helluva job. Pleased to meet you too, Uel. I think what you write is true. Trump’s is “positive thinking” on steroids. If he were a professional athlete, he’d fail a test for doping. You know something shadowy is going on. He has his legal team working every angle and loophole to keep him in the game, even though he cheats and plays dirty, anything to have an edge on anyone who challenges him. Anything to win. That’s what appears to be most important to him. He gets up on stage in his posing strap, flexing, every muscle of his machismo rippling.

Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


Marco, I’m deeply impressed by the consideration, human feeling and good sense of all your responses. I find your words nourishing. I wonder how or if you’ll be able to keep it up. I know you’re first and foremost, in your creative desire, a poet. It’s very important for you to set aside some time for working on your own poetry. I can see you devoting so much of yourself to trying to make this community creative project gain traction and finally take on a life of its own. At any rate, please keep spitting into the hurricane! I’ll certainly join you. Wearing baggy flag-pants or superhero capes which are flags, we can each catch hold of a flagpole, hanging on for dear life in the hurricane winds, and while our legs flop around horizontally, our shoes flying off while straining to hold on, race each other to the top!

P.S. These words of yours really jump out at me - so well put and extremely relevant: "Regarding the politics, I would say it’s not identities that are ever threatened, or that need to be protected, or that need promotion. It’s actual people, both individuals and groups of people, their cultural knowledge and social practices, art and ritual, the wholeness and integrity of the human. For example, at Standing Rock, it’s not ‘identities’ that are opposing the pipeline: the battle lines go so much deeper…to the very nature of our relations.” My own attention is riveted by what’s going on at Standing Rock. I was going to mention it before you did. What’s happening there, that David versus Goliath showdown, is a glimpse of what’s in store in the coming years with Trump at the helm.

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Nice to meet you John and I agree, Marco’s contributions are key to this community project.

I completely track with what Marco pointed out regarding the binary being a general design principle that applies to our boundaried experience.

The open / closed dynamic is happening all the time - the mix / ratio has been different at various stages of development. In 2016, with our present level of technology putting us into a planetary level of experience, it becomes harder than ever to know when to be open and when to be closed. There are 7 billion people living in a ‘single information space’. This is one key reality most of us contend with on a daily basis. Anthony Giddens from LSE coined that phrase probably 20 years ago when almost every academic saw only the good side of globalization.

The entire globalization project is now being freshly criticized for all the right reasons and mostly because of its lopsidedness. For example, from a recent article:

As French political philosopher Pierre Manent explains in an important interview translated in First Things, European elite culture is committed to a view of the world that abstracts from particular attachments — national attachments, ethnic attachments, religious attachments — and treats individuals as perfectly equal and interchangeable exemplars of capital-H Humanity. A Catholic Frenchman is just a human being. A secular German is just a human being. A devout Muslim refugee from the Syrian civil war is just a human being. Place of origin is politically irrelevant. So is religious affiliation. And age. And gender. The only form of belonging that matters is to the placeless human species.

Because of modern technology, we must all navigate many local and global realities all the time. Knowing the appropriateness of when to open and when to close requires real eyes to see and ears to hear, which is always a challenge! A good principle to always have in mind is the fact that we are all connected and share the same planet, then work backwards from that truth as we collectively try to make the boundary level decisions. It’s very messy and difficult, and that’s exactly what politics is - this search for authoritative values. An open / free speech mechanism and mindset is absolutely essential here.

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I have a bit of trouble with the open to learn, close to protect. If you are in a simple, stable system, with clear operational closure, that might be an adequate principle to follow. It seems to presuppose a clear subject /object arrangement. Seems too simple, however, if you are in complex, unstable system, to regulate anything that way.

We can experience openness for a variety of reasons and we can be closed for a variety of reasons. Without constraints of traffic signals I would not be able to travel safely. Without rules of grammar I could not form a communicable sentence. If we keep all our options open we will miss opportunities to learn anything at all. If the singer want to sing the song as it was written the singer’s artistry may develop, if the singer sings behind the music, not in front of it. Or she improvise, you may not know if it is any good unless you pay attention to the field.

… If we step on the brake and push the gas pedal to the floor we will burn out the vehicle real fast so I believe we need to figure out how to accelerate and slow down at the same time as we watch the rear view mirror and have a sense of what other drivers are up to. Then we stop the car, when we have reached our destination, and lock the door. We are engaged in hugely complex behaviors that have less to do with on/off and more to do with thresholds. When we cross certain thresholds we are no longer certain of boundaries at all, and this can be ecstatic and terrifying at the same time.

If you are protecting those you love you appreciate that you may need to let them go for their on going development. Love is not just a feel good feeling but a skill. Seems life is a lot like that. Politics, as life itself, pivots around gesture, affect, tone, momentum and we need to add intensity when we sense we are moving towards a threshold. We are starting to wobble before the big crash and burn. But the phoenix wont rise from the ashes if we try to stop the dynamic while it is happening. We need motifs from the old setup in order to endure the pressure as we morph into the new cosmology. Chaos if we embrace it will re-arrange us. We can look back when it is over and be grateful. Not too loose, not too tight, just the way you hold a little bird.

Loving the discussion here. I’d like to contribute with this Letter to the Editor published in my school paper, at SUNY Buffalo, titled “Understanding the Election”:

My aim is to explain how Donald Trump won the presidency, how anyone can feel happy about this election, and strategies going forth to hold the most powerful man in the world accountable.

So, first off, Trump did not win – Hillary lost. Hillary Clinton received six million less votes than Barack Obama did in 2012. Her voter turnout was abysmal, and Trump received less votes than Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008.

Donald Trump won the election because of three states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Rust-belt populism, the kind of populism that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment alienated beyond repair, came out and voted for a man they did not trust or understand.

Only 1 in 3 voters said that Trump was trustworthy. Only 4 in 10 had a favorable opinion of him. What does that say?

Americans opted to hit the EXIT button with reckless abandon. Earlier this year, after the similarly populist Brexit, the elites lectured the working class about how they ‘voted wrong’. After Trump, the elites, no doubt, will also lecture the working class, and particularly white voters, for their sins. But this tactic of condescension, a tacit belief that American oligarchy is perfectly acceptable, is one of the least effective political pitches on Earth.

The entire liberal press tried to drive voter turnout by lecturing voters on their privilege and demanding them to act in favor of evil, the technocratic corrupt war-mongering Wall Street-funded campaign of Hillary Clinton. The entire liberal press, dead wrong and discredited, drove voters away, not toward them. They drove voters toward Trump because, as Thomas Frank brilliantly puts it, “they wanted to bring a sledgehammer to the machine”.

This election was a resounding rejection of the political class and its false pretense of innocence, its sham respectability, its eternal tone-deaf insistence that the mediocre continuation of the norm was worth voting for. It was not. This was the year to break the stranglehold of entrenched political dynasties on the electoral system. The Bush/Clinton enterprise was soundly rejected. The Democrats, who rigged their own democratic primary to undermine Bernie Sanders, made this bed and they lay in it. Only the worst political candidate of modern times could possibly lose to Donald Trump. And she failed spectacularly.

It is vital, absolutely vital, that the left learns its lessons from this election. Hating the white working class, and equating Trump supporters to Nazis, is a doomed strategy that will prevent the possibility of any future progressive movement. How many anti-establishment rust belt voters would have picked Bernie Sanders’ ideas, a modern New Deal, over the Trumpism they barely trust? The answer to this question is the answer to midterm elections in 2018 and the resurgence to come in 2020.

Right now, protesting the very existence of Donald Trump accomplishes nothing. We need to protest specific policies and ensure that the constitution and the rights of the marginalized are protected. We need to push him on his campaign promises, to make sure he rejects the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rejects wars in the Middle East, rejects a new Cold War with Russia, and make sure he knows that policies like the Muslim ban, mass deportation, and punishing women for abortions would destroy his legacy and make him a villain to the entire world.

We need to push him on specific issues while simultaneously gearing up for a populist movement in 2020 that will sweep the white working class out from under him and unify those disenchanted voters with the diverse coalition of black, Hispanic, gay and Muslim Americans who traditionally support Democrats. That synthesis of two Americas will be the return of the Republic we yearn for.

It’s time to stop taking politics for granted. It will take organization, precise goals, and a positive philosophy of taking back the country from corporate power. The good news is that Trump has proven how ready Americans are for substantial change. Let’s create something worth fighting for.

(For anyone interested, I also run a podcast here, “The Trumpland Podcast”: https://soundcloud.com/user-302994535/alex-blum-podcast-1-trump-is-now-the-establishment)

My angle is that of a young leftist trying to point out political realities, failures in the left, and how the left can fix its messaging and stop losing elections.

That’s beautiful how you ended that, Johnny. Afterall, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Thanks too, Brad, for more elucidation. I kind of get it now. It seems to understand your take on ‘open to learn; closed to protect", one must see from a great distance, contemplating in the mind’s eye high above and scanning the landscape, seeing occurrences on planet earth in terms of years, centuries, whereas Johnny took it down for hypothetical testing and questioning in the personal realm. Funny, or not so funny, when I was half into reading your comment for the first time, seeing the word “globalization”, as you wrote “freshly criticized for all the right reasons”, I envisioned the planet earth in dark space, suddenly popping like a balloon. Perhaps how Marco put it is the bridge in the understanding: "Perhaps ‘open to learn; closed to protect’ could be a social meditation of sorts. A heuristic koan, sublingual, suggesting common ground for how boundary-level decisions are arrived at.”

Something to think about. Really I think “open to learn; closed to protect” is as natural as breathing in and out, or closing one’s hand into a fist to strike someone or opening it to pat or rub someone on the back, or picking up a tool to either destroy or create something. It’s something already practiced, whether one is aware of it or not. To reach your understanding of it, Brad, maybe it’s only a matter of increasing awareness. Wedding what already naturally occurs to awareness, and then while increasing awareness, expanding it to embrace the cosmos, directing activity in this awareness. It’s a way of saying, “No more blind leading the blind. Let us see.”

That pipeline which snakes its way through the earth and has come to a halt for the standoff at Standing Rock I see as a varicose vein.

————

I posted that Goebbels quote above, and reading around after I posted it, I discovered that it’s a misquote or wrongly attributed to Goebbels. It floats around in popular consciousness and has even found its way into academia. So there I was, a sucker too, posting it without first checking to see if it’s valid. Anyway, I still think the thought in the quote, wherever it originally came from, is rather true. The Big Lie if one doesn’t crack and holds to it with a poker face will in time gather its own dark force and cause many to submit to it and begin repeating it.

————

Just yesterday a new article by Chris Hedges was posted at Truthdig, entitled “Waiting for the Barbarians.” I feel deeply moved and called by the last paragraph:

"There will be rebels. They will live in the shadows. They will be the renegade painters, sculptors, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, dancers, organizers, activists, mystics, intellectuals and other outcasts who are willing to accept personal sacrifice. They will not surrender their integrity, creativity, independence and finally their souls. They will speak the truth. The state will have little tolerance of them. They will be poor. The wider society will be conditioned by mass propaganda to write them off as parasites or traitors. They will keep alive what is left of dignity and freedom. Perhaps one day they will rise up and triumph. But one does not live in poverty and on the margins of society because of the certainty of success. One lives like that because to collaborate with radical evil is to betray all that is good and beautiful. It is to become a captive. It is to give up the moral autonomy that makes us human. The rebels will be our hope.”

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What’s up, Alex Blum. You’re a young fella, no? I’m 47 but still young in spirit, though I have my gravitas, and increasing aches and pains. But not so bad yet. Stray hairs too, in the unlikeliest places. Occasionally some rebel eyebrow hairs declare independence from the others, a couple going crazy; or I find a hair jutting long and simple out of the lobe or rim of one of my ears, all by its lonesome there, staking its claim as if the first man on the moon. I can’t stand such insolence: I fetch the tweezers. Indulge me and allow me to imagine you as younger than you probably are, in your early twenties, or even younger, and imagine me as older than I actually am, gray hair and wrinkles. (For fun imagine me with a southern drawl, with a pot belly, wearing blue jean overalls, a big straw hat, and picking my teeth with a toothpick between every few sentences.) Really glad for your contribution here. I heartily agree with the words you posted here. I hope what’s happening now scares the bejesus out of migratory Dems, flyin’ half-hearted and drowsily, wings grown so heavy, and sends 'em spiraling back down to the grassroots. The focus should be on plain economics and issues which revolve around making lives better (living wage, affordable housing, medical coverage, a clean and healthy environment) regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion. That shit always distracts attention from the real issues which most everyone experiences and cares about in their concrete everyday lives.

I think many people, scared, confused and desperate, when in such a state, are easily stirred up by demagogic personalities and manipulated by them, falling prey to their self-serving schemes and empty promises. I feel both terrified for our country and very sad. There’s this saying, never trust someone over 30. Now that I’m up at my age, I kinda understand what that means. Many up in years turn into crusty old fuckers, miserly and mean. No wonder here because everything is so ass-backwards. In America there’s a culture of perpetual youth, the reality of death, in the mainstream anyway, kept out of the public eye, and not much reverence for old age.

I sincerely hope and even have confidence in the freshness, natural curiosity and daring of youth, in youth’s hearty goodwill and ability still to imagine for the common good. I also have this deep longing for the emergence and embodiment of the wise old man, and wise old woman archetype. I wish I saw and felt more of it in our leaders.


Barack Obama is 55 years old. Hillary Clinton is 69 years old. Bernie Sanders is 75 years old. Donald Trump is 70 years old. This has turned into a little contemplation on age and the virtues and vices of each stage of life.

It brings to mind Francis Bacon’s marvelous short essay (I love these essays and how they’re written. When I was younger I used to carry a copy around with me in my deep coat pocket):

XLII. Of Youth and Age. Essays, Civil and Moral. (d.1597)

A MAN that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost no time. But that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first cogitations, not so wise as the second. For there is a youth in thoughts, as well as in ages. And yet the invention of young men is more lively than that of old; and imaginations stream into their minds better, and as it were more divinely. Natures that have much heat and great and violent desires and perturbations are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their years; as it was with Julius Cæsar and Septimius Severus. Of the latter of whom it is said, Juventutem egit erroribus, imo furoribus, plenam [He passed a youth full of errors, yea of madnesses]. And yet he was the ablest emperor, almost, of all the list. But reposed natures may do well in youth. As it is seen in Augustus Cæsar, Cosmus Duke of Florence, Gaston de Foix, and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity in age is an excellent composition for business. Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business. For the experience of age, in things that fall within the compass of it, directeth them; but in new things, abuseth them. The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount but to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold; stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end, without consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon absurdly; care not to innovate, which draws unknown inconveniences; use extreme remedies at first; and that which doubleth all errors will not acknowledge or retract them; like an unready horse, that will neither stop nor turn. Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success. Certainly it is good to compound employments of both; for that will be good for the present, because the virtues of either age may correct the defects of both; and good for succession, that young men may be learners, while men in age are actors; and, lastly, good for extern accidents, because authority followeth old men, and favor and popularity youth. But for the moral part, perhaps youth will have the pre-eminence, as age hath for the politic. A certain rabbin, upon the text, Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, inferreth that young men are admitted nearer to God than old, because vision is a clearer revelation than a dream. And certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world, the more it intoxicateth; and age doth profit rather in the powers of understanding, than in the virtues of the will and affections. There be some have an over-early ripeness in their years, which fadeth betimes. These are, first, such as have brittle wits, the edge whereof is soon turned; such as was Hermogenes the rhetorician, whose books are exceeding subtle; who afterwards waxed stupid. A second sort is of those that have some natural dispositions which have better grace in youth than in age; such as is a fluent and luxuriant speech; which becomes youth well, but not age: so Tully saith of Hortensius, Idem manebat, neque idem decebat [He continued the same, when the same was not becoming]. The third is of such as take too high a strain at the first, and are magnanimous more than tract of years can uphold. As was Scipio Africanus, of whom Livy saith in effect, Ultima primis cedebant [His last actions were not equal to his first].

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Hi John, I totally agree, the idea of being 70+ years old and running for a position of ultimate power strikes me as quite odd! Depending on Bernie Sanders just wasn’t enough, and now my generation is going to have to find itself, in the annals of art, journalism, philosophy, commentary, and even running for political office. Hopefully locally. I think local office is the only realistic place to change the Democrats from within, to make them responsive, to give them a wake-up call! Chris Hedges is one of my favorite journalists and certainly a defining spiritual influence. I love his take on morality and Christianity, as the true Christian is the outcast who takes an unpopular moral stance and reaps the consequences from the powers that be. Perhaps its a victim complex at its worst, but at its best, its a power that no authoritarian system can crush. The hope now is that the youth will keep its fire, and stay serious and unwilling to conform well into adulthood. I feel like there’s a good chance there, only problem is that the climate clock and the nuclear clock are both ticking…

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The following two live readings of poems by Amiri Baraka have in them the energy of what I feel in my raw core. I’m not sure where I should post this, here or at the posting at this site of “Agonistic Cooperation as Mind Jazz”, introduced by Brian George.

One thinks when this begins, “This is kinda funny. Like playin’ with a baby to make it smile, mimicking first words, Oo, Oo. Climbin’ out of primordial sludge, makin’ jungle sounds, the primal ‘Om’, turning monkey into man, skirtin’ the racist stereotype, but tappin’ into the fact, Jack. Is it going to be standup comedy, a joke?” Then when Amiri Baraka begins speaking one thinks, “Oh no, here comes slam poetry, the worst that it has to offer, self-indulgent and self-righteous sounding off without substance”, but instead what comes jazzes and blacks and blues you, one might say reverse hustlin’, street preachin’ which reaches down deep and lifts up the heart, performing exorcism. This is some good shit, man, prime Dope not shot up but purged out of the system.

I can’t get enough of this, ah-Wow. I’m totally feelin’ the rage, the roaring sarcasm, the volcanic disgust, the middle finger comin’ like the smokestack of a freight train, ah-Wow, Wow. It must be the Devil.

Bah Dee dah

I haven’t read (yet) all the replies, but I wanted to put 2cents in @ the request of Marco, immediately, as I’m 90k words into a book I’m writing about this event. So briefly: Trump won because that’s what he does-win. He has a philosophy and a worldview, an ethos, that was perfectly suited for the times. One could say, “Everything happens for a reason, and if it didn’t happen (Bernie or Hillary winning); it wasn’t meant to be.” The elites, to include the main stream media, did not, and do not, understand Trump - they decided early on he was a joke. They were wrong. He is anything but a joke. He’s a very serious man who has fun. He laid out his philosophy in his 1987 memoir, “the Art of the Deal.” apparently, no one read it, or if they did, they didn’t get it. It’s all there. That’s what he did, what he’s doing, and what he will do. “They” fed you a false narrative from the beginning and then doubled & tripled down because they’ve been humiliated. “They” are the experts and he proved them “stupid”; and they can’t stand that.

Trump is none of the things “they” defined him as. So, in short, don’t worry - it’ll be fine - great in fact. If, big if, you all will get behind him and let “Trump be Trump.” He understands people better than all the experts. He understands that at “our” core - we all want the same thing - to be loved and love. To be respected and valued. (except for a rare few sickos.) Everything “they”'ve told you about him is untrue. “They” hate him, but you don’t have to. Don’t let others lead you down the path of bitterness and despair. It’s the Law of Attraction, folks. Trump gets it.

“actual concrete individualism” Marco, that is Trump. Think about what he did, what he has done, and then maybe, what he might be able to do - bring peace to the planet. He’s a mutant.