My Blog Week: September 8 to September 14
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A Word on the Week
Bewitched and Bothered
Something reprehensible this way came, during this week’s Democratic candidate debate (but they say only on the Sinclair arm of the ABC network). A Republican political action committee paid to show some dog-whistlin’ imagery, using the face of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, skulls, and other hoodoo…
And all one can say, is, “Why, you naughty little coven of witches.”
Yes, these worshipers of Satan wish to mix some eye of newt and toe of frog with exploitation of human tragedy, to lay a spell on the word “socialist”, causing their followers to respond violently, and with unthinking obedience, to the utterance of it.
Alert! The foregoing comment is satirical.
However. In the region I have spent most of my life, there has always been that capacity for taking the notion of covens in the hills, satanists becursing the locals, carving pentagrams on rocks…
As though such things could exist on Planet Earth.
Now, I realize people style and pretend. People read novels and watch TV shows. They play a game of casting spells, and chanting incantations; they conflate fantasy characters with oppressed minorities and want to identify with them. Or as them. They may call themselves witches. They may try to stir trouble by claiming their Church of the Devil has the right to put up a holiday display outside City Hall.
Believing in human foolishness is not quite the same thing as believing in magic. Supposing we define magic (we confidently do) as a wishful purpose whose manifestation must defy every scientific principle, and which has never been credibly reported.
In another shady practice, well within the scope of human endeavor, i.e., propaganda, we see a certain tactic. I call this one, “Them, Not Us.” The Republican party, in its current weirdness, has furnished several examples, mostly vis-à-vis their white supremacist friends. Such as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign reference to “the second amendment people.” Them Not Us always says, basically, “We’re good people, but we can’t control those others…”
Those extremists in the party, those uneducated people who live “out there”, those more emotional members of the group, those students, those voters, whomever. Worry about them. When I say something, I don’t mean a thing by it.
All of which brings us to the anti-socialist hexing. I’m currently reading Secret Servant, by Ilya Dzhirkvelov, a former KGB officer (Harper and Row, 1987), a memoir in which he recounts his career. The Communist Central Committee ran a school, as the book explains, to teach chosen enrollees the principles of Marxism and Leninism. One of which was that all capitalist nations would become socialist in time; that capitalism must inevitably fail. It was this type of thing—but bear in mind, whispered in Washington corridors to susceptible elected officials, who found themselves superiorly possessed of Great Secrets (and therefore, couldn’t bring themselves to keep that one)—that made socialism such a dirty word.
Capitalism’s suicide march is not the subject of this essay. What we need to recognize is that there never has been any such world as that adulated by older Boomers. America boomed economically in the 50s and 60s because Europe had been destroyed by WWII. That set of conditions was not normal to the course of history; it was not a benchmark we can reasonably hope to “return” to.
Retailing is not undergoing an apocalypse, due to the internet: the small city of Boomer youth didn’t have a mall, or strip, sporting one example of every fast food chain and box store. Retail in the 80s-90s grew too big too fast, and couldn’t feed itself.
The U.S. population in 1960 was 180.7 million. We have expanded by about 147 million people since. We have mined things out of the ground that we can’t put back. We have cut down forests that won’t regrow in our lifetimes.
Thus in the coming times, climate sovereignty will be a thing. Countries in a position to put the squeeze on others who pollute their air and water will do it. And the social welfare state will be unavoidable, with the earth’s population still growing, and the environment in (possibly irreversible) crisis. I’ve said it in an earlier essay, that health care, retirement (and/or basic universal income), fair housing, education…when under the aegis of the state, benefit both companies and individuals.
Unions and labor advocates should be pleased to not contend over these issues. Higher wages, as near impeccable as can be workplace safety, and the great cultural overhaul needed—bullying out, opportunities equal—gives us plenty of work to do in the workplace.
Monday, a new episode of Yoharie, Val thinking about Trevor’s conspiracies. In Tuesday’s Impresario, Pierre describes his master’s underhanded absolutions. Wednesday, another Jumping Off poem, “World On”. Thursday’s Catastrophe began a recounting of Mount Pelée’s 1851 eruption. Friday, a new episode of Celebrated, in which Petra tells Tom the ending she preferred for The Lost Man. Saturday, a reissue from The Nutshell Hatches, “Purpose No Secret”.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: September 8 to September 14
Yoharie: Existence (part three)
The Impresario (part six)
YouTube: Rebecca St. James, “More Than the Watchmen”
World On (poem)
Poetry Foundation: Louise Erdrich, “That Pull from the Left”
La Catastrophe de la Martinique: seventy-three
Celebrated (part twenty)
Purpose No Secret (poem)
Poetry Foundation, Christina Rossetti, “Winter: My Secret”