Tag Archives: United States

All our lives a slave

I have yet to see the movie 12 Years a Slave, mostly because after nearly twenty years in a committed relationship with a “woman of color” I am not sure what feelings the movie will instill in me that I have not already explored during the course of my own experience and studies. An intense sense of outrage, certainly. The shock that comes with witnessing, albeit through the magnifying lens of the camera, the terrible and dehumanizing cruelty that one man can inflict on another. The shame of being associated, if only through the accident of hereditary skin color, with those who perpetuated such acts. But I do not need the spectacle of a movie event to awaken those emotions; I can run the full gamut on any given day by merely opening the newspaper, or reading through the online comments section of any story that has the temerity to discuss the concept of slavery in this so-called post-racial America.
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On War, Part 3

Inarguably, an important part of the study of war is why war in the first place. To this, many explanations have been given over the centuries: religion, power, competition for scarce resources, some inclination to war that is supposedly innate to mankind’s psyche. Yet, beneath all of these lie one common thread: the desire for wealth. To wit: war is almost always a result of the friction between the longing of those who do not have wealth to acquire it, and the need of those who have it to both retain it, and acquire more.
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On War – part 1

The mind, upon processing the guttural vocalization that it verbally identifies with the uniquely human concept of war in our innumerable societies and languages, surfaces many different images. For some of us, the internal visualization of war brings forth the idealized glory of heroism, honor, and valor on the battlefield. For others, it is a reminder of the human costs – the despair, the unforgettable stench of human bodies, mixed with fear and death, the destruction of sometimes centuries of hard sweat and labor in the few moments it takes a bomb to drift down, without mercy, from the sky. And for some, who have never fallen for the grandeur or lived through the fear, the word is merely some abstract concept, like death itself, perhaps – conceptualized by the brain as a placeholder for that which only exists on the periphery, in the realm of stories and images seen while idly surfing through the Internet, until it comes to find them.
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Creating a monster with nothing to fear

Contrary to popular opinion, our moneyed elite has no desire to destroy our democracy. Indeed, why would they? They have been extremely well compensated by being a part of the richest economic system in the history of the world. However, they do like to maintain control, and it seems that the procedure for accomplishing this is relatively straight forward in the U.S. version of a representative democracy, if rather time consuming to implement. To wit:
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Kabuki

The Wikipedia tells me that Kabuki “is a classical Japanese dance-drama” that is “known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.” The three kanji characters the spell out Kabuki in the Japanese language are literally “sing,” “dance,” and “skill.” Or, loosely translated, “the art of singing and dancing.”
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America Your America, Finis

There was a time, not long ago, when the future of America This America seemed poised for a new golden era. The Berlin wall was gone, and with it the cold war hysteria; the tech boom was raising many boats as we all became proud members of the investor class; and the new millennium was promising to unfold in all its hope and splendor. And, despite some Y2K fears that the end was nigh, when the ball dropped on December 31st, 1999, the people of the world released a collective sigh of relief. We had made it. The future was ours.
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America Your America, Part 7

There is little doubt that the greatest casualty of the sustained assault on our democracy over the last thirty years or so has been the American middle class. Suffering through a sustained period of attrition as membership has been pushed both down and out by the relentless efficiency gains and rent seeking imposed by the owners of capital and production, to still find oneself situated between the poor and the rich has darkened from dream to nightmare. But this itself is a mere symptom of an even greater tragedy: the abject loss of faith in the social institutions and rule of law necessary for a healthy representative government.
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America Your America, Part 6

America is two nations on many fronts: The rich America and the poor America; the white America and the America of color; the America of the elite and the common America; the secular America and the America of the devout; and so on. But few parallels are as dangerous as the America of democracy, and the America of those who view representative government as a quaint, outdated concept.
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America Your America, Part 5

Certainly, the twisted knots into which the United States Supreme Court and the Florida electorate tied themselves in order to certify the 2000 election of George W. Bush were an important crossroads in the accelerating decay of America’s governing class. But even that was merely an inflection point in a process that has been unfolding for at least the last fifty years.
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America Your America, Part 4

As I noted before, it is a daunting task indeed to find commonality in a nation of over 300 million souls. After all, the northern, southern, eastern, and western regions all have their distinctive characteristics, and, beneath all that, the rich and the poor. For what can someone who earns $25,000 per year in Louisiana have in common with someone in New York making that sum in an hour? And yet, especially in times of national triumph and tragedy: E pluribus unum – out of many, one.
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