Thursday, May 31, 2007

Core Things


I just watched Don’t Come Knocking.

Definitely not one of Sam Shepard’s best, but notably, most of it was filmed in picturesque Butte, MT.

And it got me thinking about played-out mining towns, like Butte (and Helena) and about America. You see, it’s only when the ore is played out and the bankers and robber barrons have stolen the “treasure” that you find out what the core of a town, or a country, really is.

What’s left? What’s worth saving? Worth staying for? Going on for, day after day?



People?
History?
Pretty skies?
Beautiful light?
Meadowlarks chirping from perches on telephone poles?

Probably it’s for all of these. But not for what they are but rather for what they are not. And what they are not is fake.

Money is fake. It’s an illusion. It’s a game adults play using colored strips of paper.

But birds
and streams
and blades of grass are the core of this earth.

And whatever we are; whatever complexity we contrive; whatever delusions we drown intellect in; we are still made of core things.

All else is but a stain on this truth.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Predator Needed

Today I wish to restate a compelling book discussion witnessed on McLaughlin One-on-One this morning, aptly titled for Memorial Day, Sands of Empire.

Like it's title, the book appears antithetical to the jingoistic, I'm With Stupid, bumper-sticker (War On Terror) tripe otherwise fouling media this long weekend.

Essentially, author Robert Merry's argument is:
  • That history is cyclical; Empires come and go; and they wax and they wane.

  • That the assumption on the part of the West that Cold War victory represents the End of History is a very, very dangerous fallacy.

  • That the founders of U.S. democracy believed human nature is immutable, and therefore the role of society, and specifically government, should be more to regulate and less to encourage, the Will To Power.

  • That the idea that human nature is mutable - i.e. that society can do more than regulate - that it can perfect the human - is a largely French/Marxist ideal devolving from the canon of French philosophy in the persons of Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau et al.

  • That simply and inevitably, the U.S. is destined to fail as an empire for vainly trying to play God on this planet.

And it just struck me how perfectly Merry's assertions encapsulate the failure of U.S./Western government, social and economic systems to affect real change in Iraq, Darfur and the Balkans as well as government's inability to cope with natural disasters for which billions of dollars are annually spent exactly to prepare for.

And this compels me to interject my own moral and philosphical conclusions:
  • Winning is not synonymous with moral or intellectual superiority. In fact, given human nature, it seems very likely that cheating is involved. And this is why I so vehemently despise capitalism. Unregulated capitalism is simply the decriminalization of the Will To Power. It is no more meritocratic, as its devotees espouse, than Marxism or any other economic philosophy. If capitalism was synonymous with meritocracy, then why isn't our ruling class comprised of Mensa-types with extreme physical/athletic prowess? When in reality, it seems to me that our ruling class is comprised largely of the most ambitious, malleable, attractive and sometimes least ethical members of our species.

  • The solution that makes the largest number of people richest or fattest is not the best solution for all living things. Witness U.S. energy policy. Witness the electric commuter car. I rest my case.

  • The more powerful a human or human organization becomes, the more ripe it is for corruption, stupidity, lethargy and arrogance. This is equally true for individuals, governments or corporations. In short, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is therefore insane to foster systems that encourage hegemony. From Microsoft Windows to U.S. Defense spending, the only logical answers to hegemony are innovation (e.g. Linux), pluralism (e.g. Bill of Rights) and revolution (e.g terrorism).

  • Fully one in five people will simply do whatever they are told by whomever they perceive as an authoritative personality. From the Holocaust to the War on Terror, humanity owes it to humanity to prevent and to offset the inevitable damage wrought by this all-too-human impulse to intellectual retardation.
And so this Memorial Day, I promise to remember to look first and foremost to myself for answers; to espouse and to pursue the anarchistic decentralization (e.g. Internet) of all human organizational schemes - i.e. to something far beyond representative democracy and more closely resembling evolutionary biology; to think harder and to question more, especially in areas where I exhibit a modicum of control.

The rest I will leave to the followers.