Saturday, October 30, 2010
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/30/10
In a very short time the U.S. may have to choose between the UN and Israel. It could be the beginning of the end for the UN.
Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are moving inevitably toward collapse, says John Bolton, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In an Oct. 20th op-ed in the WSJ he said the Palestinian Authority (PA) fully understands that the talks—and the "two state solution"—will fail. Several ideas are circulating to skip negotiations with Israel and move immediately to Palestinian "statehood."
The PA could persuade the United States to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The other option would have the United Nations Security Council call upon U.N. members to recognize "Palestine" within those lines. Critical to this second tactic is a U.S. commitment either to support such a Security Council resolution or, at a minimum, not to veto it.
President Obama has a jaundiced view of Israel, says Bolton, but actual recognition of "Palestine" seems remote. A more indirect but still effective course is to let statehood emerge through a Security Council resolution: “Israel would then confront a dramatic change in its international posture, facing a political equivalency with the new state of Palestine.”
“A Security Council resolution fixing the 1967 lines as borders would call into question even Israel's legitimacy, dramatically undercutting prospects for security and defensibility,” says Bolton.
Bolton’s thinking has resonated in the past week. If America joined the world in opposition to Israel it would not hinder Israel’s progress in the world. It would however, leave the UN jaundiced in the eyes of Americans, 8 out of 10 who feel kindly toward Israel, and it would nurture the UN’s advanced state of irrelevancy.
But Roger Cohen writes in the NYTs a week after Bolton’s piece: President Barack Obama has to overcome that [Israeli] skepticism if his words to the United Nations General Assembly five weeks ago are not to be added to the long list of well-meaning Middle East blather. Those words were: ‘When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.’
“I don’t believe Israel has yet got to where the world is: the inevitability of a Palestinian state,” writes Cohen.
That is exactly the issue; the advanced Woodstock Nation model of world peace - the illusion of global American cultural conquest. But “we are the world” only in hippie law. The “rest of the world” does not have an absolute or even perhaps relevant voice in the internal affairs of Israel any more than it does in South Boston or (“Come and take it.”) Texas. And the President of the United States does not speak for “the rest of the world” in opposition to Israel or in opposition to the United States.
Probably more pertinent to the moment is another essay Cohen wrote the day after Bolton’s piece appeared. “Among the minor fiascoes of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, the rapid White House-to-wipe-out course of Middle Eastern diplomacy in recent weeks rates high. . . No U.S. president should invest his personal capital by inaugurating direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders when those talks are set to abort weeks later over an issue — Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank — that’s long been sitting there like a big truck on the road.”
This is the work of an amateurish state department which tweets sardonic birthday wishes to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is the fault specifically of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is the fault primarily of President Obama.
Friday, October 29, 2010
by Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/29/10
The telling moment was a year last in Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr.’s kerfuffle with Sgt. James Crowley. Obama unfortunately appeared to reflexively weigh in on behalf of Harvard Yard instead of Fenway Park. Obama is without question Harvard’s current favorite. Indeed, the idolatry of Mile High Stadium which is waned in the world at large still reigns at cloistered Harvard. And those little “I miss Bill” bumper stickers of Harvard’s dowagers are beginning to peel off.
But this is breaking the Democrats in half. The Clintons do not like Obama. They think they should be speaking to the minions at Mile High stadium. Now Harvard’s James Kloppenberg tells the NYTs that there is a primal difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Kloppenberg disparages the “vulgar pragmatism” of that hunka hunka burnin’ love that is Bill. He praises Obama’s “philosophical pragmatism.”
It is pretentious, but probably correct. Obama, like JFK, is high minded and I think there will be more to him next year with Elizabeth Warren on board, especially if he brings in Arnold Schwarzenegger after December. And they will need a new trickster. Arnold, in a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, seemed to want to go. Clinton is vulgar and a vulgarian with 50 gold watches has populist cache, in the tradition of the old Irish pols of Brooklyn and Southie with drink and cigar in hand, diamond tie pins and a new Cadillac every year. That is one of the things his followers liked about him.
I have never liked Bill Clinton not because he is vulgar, but because I thought he could be dangerously unstable and dangerously irresponsible. This week, it is reported that Bill Clinton pushed black Democrat Kendrick Meek to quit his race against independent Charlie Crist in Florida, when Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were stumping for Meek just a week before. And so many of Bill’s stops this cycle are at regimes which voted for Hillary in 2008 that it is being called a “revenge” tour. This seems in context with the Clinton tradition. There is still time for the Clintons to destroy the Democratic Party and in such a volatile political environment, there is potentially time for them to destroy the post-war political system.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/27/10
For well more than a century, Americans have had the choice like that in an old general store I used to go to in rural West Virginia with a swinging sign that read, “ice cream, guns and ammo.” The ice cream came in two flavors, vanilla and chocolate. That has been our choice in political parties as well. As of November 2, there will be a new flavor: Libertarian. It is already there. It has fully metabolized into the mainstream. Although not a Libertarian, Sarah Palin is the La Passionara of this new awakening and Ron Paul, banned from the discussion in 2008, the Gray Champion. At first, that is when she was being called a slut by David Letterman and regularly mocked by Tina Fey, the eagle-eyed op-ed writers of the NYTs sounded a clarion. One of their most capable, the one who lives abroad, said it recalled to him those bad days when the broody earth spirits began to arise in the gnostic German heart. I am sure he was not talking about the Moravians. But today, in only two years, we are merely considered “extremists.” Now that is pilgrim’s progress.
I think psychiatrists call this binary state “undifferentiated.” It is like the first division of an embryo: Ford and Chevy. I think it represents the most generic form of the creation or an early form which will eventually evolve and become multifaceted and full like the rest of the world and the people will become whole. Two cars, Ford and Chevy, two ice creams. Two political parties. Those were your choices. And they were both more or less the same. Back then you couldn’t find a pizza anywhere in North Carolina outside of Chapel Hill. And shrimp with lobster sauce in a Chinese restaurant in Milledgeville, Georgia, home town of Flannery O’Connor, consisted of chipped beef on Rice Krispies. Now you could probably get sushi and study Aikido there. There are all kinds of cars, foods and ice cream today, but politics is still vanilla and chocolate, Democrat and Republican. Next week brings the end of two flavor politics.
The NYTs foreign correspondent was right to see this as a heartland uprising or awakening. He was wrong to instinctively see Americans who farm for a living as incipient fascists but I doubt he has ever visited the American heartland. His instinct did however suggest the alienation between the urban east and the heartland that has occurred. Gone are the days when the great writers and editors of NY like Harold T.P. Hayes and Willie Morris came from the rural South. Gone as well with them are the days of prose like Willa Cather’s and Truman Capote’s. Editors come now from Ivy League schools, and that brings an added dimension of class alienation.
They are not really snobs, as they are now being called. They are protecting their territory and their territory is their generation and its icons, ideas and avatars. And the generation has ended. All that is left of it is Keith Richards and his narcotic dream of his mother killing his cat. And Hillary, but there will always be Hillary. Blame it on the London School of Economics-educated economist Mick Jagger, who first introduced us to Friedrich Hayek.
This must be the way the world ends when it ends badly; in a dream of a dead cat.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
John Thune, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Black Elk: The pig is dead
The great anthropologist Joseph Campbell said one of the legendary moments in the spirit life of America was when the Lakota shaman, Black Elk, turning and pointing north to northwest, said to the poet Flaming Rainbow, “There is the center of the world.” Then he said, “but wherever you are is the center of the world.” He might have been right the first time, because Black Elk’s Dakotas are awakening. Just as the rest of us up here in the northeast seem to be falling into a deep post-industrial slumber.
This current recession in no way resembles the Great Depression when “world economy” basically consisted of England, Germany and the U.S. as historian Niall Ferguson has been saying. Much of the world is not in recession and they will grow at the disadvantage of others. Germany is doing well and Brazil is at 7%. China and Germany are creditor nations and as Jim Rogers says, the U.S. is now the “greatest debtor nation in history.” But for our purposes here in the Land of the Free, we can see that the U.S. economy is REGIONALIZING in this recession. The red states are bountiful with commodities and agricultural products and are generally very healthy. There is, says Rogers, “a definite shift from financial centers to the producers of real goods.” One size government no longer fits all in politics and in economy. In a word, blue is on the wane, red is on the rise. And the post-industrial urban blue asks – demands – a pension from the rural and agricultural red.
“If you look at current unemployment rates by state, it appears that Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota have the lowest unemployment rates in the country,” says Laura Ebke, editor of Red State Eclectic. “Those three states, of course, depend very little on industrial/manufacturing employment, and significantly on agriculture related business. Iowa and Kansas also have comparatively low rates.” While The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that industrial and post-industrial states like California at 12.4, Rhode Island at 11.5 and Michigan at 13.0 are among the highest.
And creative business is heading to places like South Dakota, ranked one of the best pro-business states by Ronald Pollina’s Corporate Top 10, fleeing CA. Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri are also ranked in the top ten, while California finishes last for the seventh straight year. They can and should protect and advance their resources. Possibly Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who grows more impressive, should take command as their representative figure. He brings charisma to politics and cache to the heartland.
Some of the ideas I and others were writing about to a few hundred in Libertarian journals just five years ago were considered quaint but dangerous and even treasonous, but it was okay so long as we remained in our crates. Now we hear Judge Andrew Napolitano talking to millions about these same ideas every day. As The Hill columnist Dick Morris writes this week, “The Tea Party has made the Republican Party safe for libertarians.” This will change everything. As Morris points out, it is no longer about cultural issues, but about economics.
Something else: The pig is dead. For decades now each political party has run a deficit so deep that when the opposition came to power any new deficit spending would break the bank. The only variation of this theme was when the most naïve of presidents, Bill Clinton, inexplicably hired the primo Republican trickster, who advised him to kill the deficit, so the Republican who followed could spend again, which they indeed did. Today, neither party can bring home the pork, The pig is butchered, baked, barbecued and eaten and there is no pork left.
Friday, October 22, 2010
by Bernie Quigley
for The Hill on 10/22/10
In Peggy Noonan’s excellent column at the WSJ this morning she writes that “ . . . the tea party is not a ‘threat’ to the Republican Party, the tea party ‘saved’ the Republican Party.” As far as saving the party, she can thank Sarah Palin for that as it was she who single-handedly folded the funky and the grass roots in with the mainstream, exactly as she said at the first must be done, and only she could have done it. As Palin said, and as Noonan said today in her column, had the Tea Party formed a third path it would have split the conservative vote. Instead, it brought “high spiritedness,” energy and earnestness, rescuing the Republican Party from the “fat, unhappy, querulous creature it had become.”
It did, but it may be killing the Republican Party as well. Can the unhappy, musty, querulous, old and staid really accommodate Jack London’s wild spirit of the north woods and the Jacksonian heart that is Palin and family riding 100 miles an hour into the snowy night on a tweaked-out Arctic Cat? Can staid and stultified New England Protestants like the Bushes really accommodate the secessionists, nullifiers and Tenth Amendment callers that formed the backbone of this movement? Can the traditional Republican party really be the party of “Hell, no!” Hell no.
What the Republicans get with the Tea Party is Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. He is all over the place today; the new “man at the center.” But he is not in the first draft of the Tea Party. He is the one honest man who first steps forth to turn the tide. He is Alpha Dog in the tradition and the Republicans are lucky to have him.
The Tea Party movement became a vague cultural zeitgeist the moment it was adopted by Glenn Beck and Fox News. As the Libertarian writer Nelson Hultberg said just before the Beck rally in Washington, D.C.: “Neo-cons like Newt Gingrich and pseudo-conservatives like Dick Armey have moved their organizations to co-opt the Tea Party revolutionaries into the Republican Party. This is the kiss of death. Gingrich, Armey and their cohorts are the epitome of what is wrong with the conservative movement in America. They pay only lip service to freedom's ideals.”
If the Republicans continue on the path of Beck, and bring in more amateurs and incompetents like Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle they run the risk of become as puerile and banal and stupid as the ‘80s rock music they play for background in grocery stores. Beck will be a generational theme; the party’s half-assed Keith Richards, and we will look forward to his gritty and squalid memoirs years to come with baited breath.
The best and brightest will migrate elsewhere and the survival of America will demand that they do. They will come from New York and LA, the Rome and Athens of the American condition. Thus, the call this week to Mike Bloomberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger to step forward.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
by Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/21/10
America’s new place in the world is in the center, like the egg in the center of a nest. Seen better in a sports model: Two billion people on the edges place soccer. 80 million in the egg watch football. The temperament between egg and nest has changed. Since Elizabeth I and before the Anglo/Americans have moved outward, across the continents to Iwo Jima and Vietnam. As Walt Whitman said, across the universe to Sirius, Jupiter and beyond. That has now stopped. They don’t listen to us now because we are no longer the source of cash or karma. We are wu chi, the unhatched egg. But the potential is unlimited.
Israel can go ahead with the settlements at four times faster than the last two years because the current state department can be easily out maneuvered. We have no state department, says one retired state staffer off the record. Germany goes alone, the first to defy Obama and Geithner on the antiquated Keynes model. And what is interesting is that this week England follows Germany’s initiative, breaking off from its archaic American subculture status which put it firmly and decidedly under our thumb since Anthony Eden. China is the world’s capital supplier and will do what she wants. We don’t have a say. Israel, Germany, England, China; our friends ignore us. Russia, our enemy, does as well. And even Brazil is booming at 7% annually while America languishes and descends deeper into debt.
We can no longer expand outward in the way that we have done since Teddy Roosevelt. To prosper we will have to learn to live within our boundaries. This should be seen as a beginning, the rest so far as prelude. And it should make no difference to the egg what happens in the rest of the nest. We Americans are free now from the youthful delusion of globalization and the delirious conviction that the rest of the world wants us to conquer it.
First thing for the egg, I see us developing as an East/West country instead of a North/South country. An Atlantic and Pacific country is maybe a better phrase. New century, new world, demands new people, new parties, new everything. Mike Bloomberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger could have a role in this. And they should, because this is a time of awakening and it could easily go astray.
by Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/21/10
Charlie Gasparino, commentator for Fox Business, reports today that his Wall St. sources say they want Mike Bloomberg, mayor of NY, to run for President in 2012 and Bloomberg is considering it.
“He’s not saying no. He’s leaving the door open,” Gasparino said this afternoon on Fox Business.
Gasparino said in his book, “Bought and Paid for: The Unholy Alliance Between Barack Obama and Wall Street” that many on Wall St. supported Barack Obama in 2008 but have since become disillusioned and are turning to Bloomberg.
It was suggested in this column in August that Bloomberg offered potential for a new political party with his pal Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California: “Bloomberg/Arnold could change the political dynamic in this country to one of temperament rather than economic outlook. My local paper here in the mountains tells us today that the ‘widening consensus’ is that the U.S. economy has ‘slowed to a crawl’ and the federal government is out of options. That means that the traditional Democratic Party is out of options as well, as it put all of its chits on the Roosevelt paradigm and the Marx/Keynes hybrid. This at a time when Hayek’s classic ‘The Road to Serfdom’ finds its way to the bestseller lists at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. . . We need New York and we need L.A., but they are crumbling under the paralysis of political tradition and orthodoxy. We need, primarily, imagination, and Arnold and Bloomberg bring it. Let’s see what they have to say.”
Monday, October 18, 2010
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/18/10
You can now remove the buzz words “diversity and globalization” from the phrase book, just as James A. Baker banned the use of the phrase “leadership and excellence” when he took charge for George H.W. Bush. The age is over. We are going to need new buzz words. That is the message beneath the message of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s declaration that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had “utterly failed.” Two things are coming to clash here; the primal need for a uniform regional culture to connect the people to the earth, to the universe, to time past and the future – that is, the need for a soul – and the accommodation of the steel and glass zeitgeist that knew no boundaries which was the American spirit of capitalism in the post-war period.
Merkel has already been marked as a dangerous, rising Destructicon by President Obama’s key Transformer, Paul “Feel my wrath” Krugman, when she refused to follow orders on the global bailouts last year, citing Germany’s experience in the 1920s and 1930s. Remember that? The end of the world? Declaring in fact that she, Germany, would go alone.
And to paraphrase Lincoln Steffens, Merkel has seen the millennium, and it works. Today Germany and China are the creditor nations and America and England are the debtor nations. But how to get from here to the millennium is a different story.
As the AP’s Melissa Eddy reports, “Merkel acknowledged in her Saturday comments that then-West Germany in the 1960s opened its doors to Turkish laborers who helped the nation rebuild from the ruins of World War II. Yet German politicians believed those laborers would eventually return home. Instead, many have stayed and their children's children are now starting families here.”
As they should. They that build the nation will inherit the nation and this time around, the Turks built Germany. As it was here in New England when the Puritans took it from the Indians, then the Anglicans took it from the Puritans, then the Irish came and took it again from the Anglicans, each building a bigger church than the last. I’m sure we are all glad to be here now although some have moved to Texas, where I sense they are not really wanted.
Friday, October 15, 2010
by Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/15/10
When they send their best people after you – Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and David Letterman – and it turns out they’re all stand-up comics, the age has turned. Even Lady Gaga can’t help. Or that guy who sells Chevy trucks at NFL football games who they want to be senator. Get it? Because he drives a truck. Like Scott Brown. So in that regard it is not the most importance thing that conservatives win every race in November – against Barney Frank, Barbara Boxer – but engage long-term the turning ahead. Because this is not a typical political turning. This is different.
The California senate race between Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer is, as Fred Barnes says in the Weekly Standard, the most important race of 2010. And if Fiorina beats Boxer, liberalism will suffer a “grievous defeat.”
“Fiorina, 56, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, articulates the free-market alternative to liberal, statist economic policies better than any candidate I’ve seen this year. Her experience as a highly visible corporate executive in Silicon Valley has made her a poised candidate, a natural, though it’s her first run for office,” writes Barnes.
But whether she wins or not in November, those same qualities make her a real-life candidate for president in 2012. Other times might require a Grant, a Roosevelt or an Obama. Our times, which suddenly find us to be in investor Jim Rogers’ phrase, “the greater debtor nation in the history of the world” require a CEO.
The change we face ahead is historic, not cyclical. President Obama brings completion of a historic cycle. But history moves on. In hindsight it can be observed that when the period’s avatar dies the movement dies shortly thereafter. And as it was with Jefferson and Victoria so it will be with the death of Ted Kennedy. New generations come. New ideas take hold and we have seen rise here since February, 2009, some brand new thinking. New ideas and new generations need new people. And it is futile but inevitable for the nostalgic impulse to take hold and call for a return of a Bush, a Clinton, another Kennedy relative or another Cuomo. And it drags the region and the party back to the past and inhibits the new awakening.
Roosevelt liberalism and any other Keynes/Marx hybrid impulse are finished with this president. Conservatives should look to the “creative conflict” in their own ranks which started last year in NY 23 when Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman challenged the mainstream candidates. A call from the wild first came from Sarah Palin to support the new approach and right there with her was former NY governor George Pataki, soon to be followed by governors Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry. The pragmatic old-schoolers, led by Newt Gingrich, fell in line behind the traditional party candidate.
This new division grew all year and was particularly noticeable in the Texas gubernatorial primary in which the old school favorites including Karl Rove, George H.W. Bush, Karen Hughes as a proxy for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and others lined up behind Kay Bailey Hutchinson in opposition to incumbent Rick Perry. Rick Perry had only the support of Sarah Palin but won in a landslide.
This intramural division among conservatives and not that between Republican and Democrat, is the most relevant division in American politics today and the century ahead depends on its outcome.
It will begin to play out in the Republican primary for 2012. I hope Sarah Palin, the catalyst for the new outlook, runs. I hope Pataki, who puts boots on the ground to oppose Obamacare when others just give speeches, runs as well. And Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal who both belong to the new thinking. But I hope Fiorina runs as well, as she, more than anyone, might be the one to bring forth from this creative and still amorphous awakening, a new political paradigm and a new America.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/12/10
Obama hopes to bring the dead to life. All of the old American cities from the industrial period left barren and empty, but surrounded by prosperous rings. They were never really cities. Most of them – long dead - were ad hoc industrial zones. He wants to kill the prosperous rings that have grown around them in the past 30 years and awaken the dead centers. His plan to rebuild 150,000 miles of roads, “enough to circle the world six times” is the Keynes/Marx hybrid on steroids. It is preposterous. Rhetoric as tall and empty as those absurd, towering statues of Kim Jong-il. The strategy today is that if the approach failed in the first two years, pitch it again, only louder. This president has no experience whatsoever outside the hallowed halls of academia and on the basketball court. He has no judgment whatsoever and has left America today dangerously vulnerable. And Sarah Palin could probably challenge him on the basketball court, one on one.
Possibly we were great before we were good. Like Brett Favre, last night at the Meadowlands. And Randy Moss. Both born great but like last night again, not good. And possibly on the verge of implosion.
At an event at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, last Sunday, author, traveler and legendary investor Jim Rogers said the United States has had two central banks prior to the Federal Reserve and that they both disappeared. He said he fully expected the same thing to happen to the Federal Reserve. He charged that Ben Bernanke at the Fed only knows how to print money, and that this money printing policy of the Fed will cause it to collapse from within.
He said that the Great Britain was the world power of the 19th century, the United States the power of the 20th century and that China will be the world power of 21st century.
In the world-without-walls defined by the rise of American capital in the post-war period, money talks and rhetoric, even the Mile High Obama kind, soon yields to reality. Them that’s got shall get, them that’s not shall lose. And as Rogers said on Eric Bolling’s “Money Rocks” show, America is the greatest debtor nation “in the history of the world.”
A point approached at the meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington where the NYTs reports, world leaders broadly agreed “that for the global economy to be more stable, imbalances between creditor countries like China and Germany and debtor countries like the United States and Britain have to be fixed.”
China and Germany are the creditor countries. The United States and England the debtor countries. How does that sound to the Churchill/Roosevelt nostalgicos in Washington, some of them pathologically yearning for “big war” like in World War II to boost the economy and make America united again. The place for these is D.C. jail, general population or psychiatric prison.
We are in an elemental way the opposite of China, our generous sponsor nation. China has a method for slow and prosperous growth: Confucius. And they have a method for slow and prosperous decline: Lao Tzu (and his student Sun Tzu, “The Art of War.”). We have dynamic strategies for growth as well. But our path of retreat is “crash and burn.” So it is hard for us to see a path ahead.
But Obama’s method; repeat the past, is even worse. When we fail we don’t start again with a clean slate. We start with an ungodly burden.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The world is made of paper
The “river running red" was a dream of his patients seen by C.G. Jung as a harbinger of the world wars just ahead and the death of Europe. The Irish poet Maud Gonne, Yeats’ muse, saw the same. It seems particularly foreboding in a river as ancient to human consciousness as the Danube.
At a time when the world is made of paper, we feel particularly vulnerable. Since Copenhagen, maybe, at the UN Climate Conference last winter, where the holy ones saw that squiggly thing in the sky as “Eye of God” and like the river runnng ired, a sign of something. As it happened there below on earth, China in plain sight established a new global paradigm which more or less excluded America. It was, in hindsight, the turning point. The decoupling of the global illusion & the shattering of the global village – always an abstraction, made up by some guy in Canada; not a real place. Only the Israelis seemed to grasp what was happening right away.
Decentralization is the theme now in the U.S., Europe and Israel. As the Book of Common Prayer calls for a “returning” - “By returning and rest we shall be saved.” - we begin an unraveling and decoupling of all which has gathered moss since Yalta. The period of post-war can be seen in hindsight as "pleroma" described in Jung’s Red Book – on the New York Times best seller list (17th) this year - as “nothing and everything.” To the Gnostics, “The pleroma is the beginning and the end of created beings.” The space between the end of the last world and the beginning of the next world. A time marked by “no heaven . . . no country, no religion too" – last public utterances of the bard born 70 years ago this weekend. The time when the differentiated world becomes undifferentiated and waits again for new division to arise from the soup. From wu chi to tai chi. Beginning again the ten thousand things.
But instead we get more paper. Quantitative Easing, say Federal Reserve officials. Some say it is just money printing. And Jim Grant of Grants Interest Rates Observer says: “The great Frederick Hayek called this the ‘pretense of knowledge.’ Whereas we in Brooklyn say, ‘Hahh?!! Oh yeah?!? You can do that!!???’”
America is a farm, vast and rich as far as the eye can see and should do pretty well. But a world made of paper is a temporary one; one where the MSM is parlor servant to power and children are prepared for something which will no longer exist by the time they get to it.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
The phrase "imagine there's no heaven . . .no country, no religion too" describes the post-war period governed by the participation mystique in which the entire world blended into one soup. This is the time between worlds: the wu chi; the undifferentiated world awaiting again the yin and the yang and the ten thousand things. This essay from Quigley in Exile. Lennon marks the turning of the age from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.
On the 25th Anniversary of His Death
"The crosses are all full," said the lay brother.
"Then we must make another cross. If we do not make an end of him another will, for who can eat and sleep in peace while men like him are going about the world?" - "The Crucifixion of the Outcast," Celtic tale retold by William Butler Yeats in Mythologies
"Zen demands intelligence and will-power, as do all the greater things which desire to become real." These are the words of C. G. Jung in the introduction to D.T. Suzuki’s An Introduction to Zen Buddhism. Jung’s words and observations would win him a place top row center, right next to Edgar Allen Poe, on the cover of Sgt. Peppers. In the 1950s Suzuki was always referred to as Dr. Suzuki – much as Richard Gere is referred to as only Richard today by Tibetan Buddhists. It is kind of an honorarium, a title. Dr. Suzuki was a solid forefather on the path East and one of the very first learned Masters to come from
In the 1950s he taught at
Dr. Suzuki talked straight: personal experience is everything in Zen. The purpose of life is love. I’m not sure if John Lennon read these words but perhaps his wife, Yoko Ono, did. She was a key figure in the avant garde art scene in
The art students were always the first to catch on, and John Lennon and his friend Stu Sutcliffe were the art students who started The Beatles. They were like pilot fish for the rest of us who were born at the end of the war and it was quite a large school of fish. 40 million people. All our fathers had been warriors. We were all the same age and born within months of one another, conceived by men who had been a long time without women, directly on return from war in Asia and
For us it was a bristling, exciting respite between childhood and adulthood and we were interested in new things. There were no teachers around to deflect our learning, no priests to lead us astray. For the briefest period, all of the shields were down. Other voices would come shortly. Swami Yogananda, who wrote The Autobiography of a Yogi, would become very popular for awhile. John said he read about half of it, which I thought was pretty good, as I’d only managed about 80 pages. Later, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Tolstoy. But Suzuki’s message entered the river of our generation at the same time as John entered our river. At first much of the Zen around
John is said to have started The Beatles to have something to do with Stu. When McCartney entered the group he drove them to become more serious and businesslike. But at first it was always John and Stu. Stu had the artist’s eye for style – naming the group The Beatles after seeing Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones. Lee Marvin’s motorcycle gang was called The Beetles. Stu always attracted the coolest people as well. And when they went to Berlin before the group was fully formed he attracted the beautiful photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who would become an anima figure – a muse – to the group and open them up in the mind in new ways and awaken new music and images.
An avante garde photographer in
Personal experience would guide the fledgling poet as well, and like many ordinary men before him, Lennon became great when someone he loved died. He would remember them all. And he would remember Stu, who never returned to
I know I’ll always feel affection, for people and things that went before. I know I’ll always think about them.
But it was different with Stu.
In my life, I loved you more.
This requiem, this love song, is considered today to be one of the greatest songs ever written. It is the beginning of the artist’s journey for John Lennon.
The Sixties was a cacophony of a million sounds and smells and voices and music and colors and textures, but especially music. The electric guitar was like a key; an ancient iron ornamented key to a mediaeval dream door that would open to an age.
Every age, be it short or long, has a beginning, a middle and an end, like a person’s life, and this age was no exception. This age, someone pointed out, came with its own sound track. And it rose and fell rather quickly.
At the center was The Beatles and the Sixties rose and fell with the fate of the Beatles. And at dead center, the man in the center of the Beatles was John Lennon.
From beginning to end The Beatles was about John Lennon. He was not the most important innovator or instigator of the period, except perhaps in music, but the music would eventually become secondary to his life, as literature had become secondary to Tolstoy.
He was one of us, common and working class, but of course, more gifted. And the transformation he made, we made. Eventually he left The Beatles behind to complete the passage himself. He was the Man at the Center who made passage with us and for us and completed the journey on our behalf. And I don’t think we could have or would have completed passage without him.
The remaining Beatles say they were transformed by Bob Dylan like the rest of us were. John was as well. It shows in his pictures. It shows in his clothes and in music like Norwegian Wood, a folksy, spare song inspired by the folk scene, written when the Beatles would begin to rise to a higher artistic level. John, they say, wanted to conquer the world, which The Beatles did with ease. Then, when they heard Bob Dylan, they aspired to be artists.
Dylan opened the gate and performed the Rite of Entry to the age with his soulful cohort Joan Baez, and the age rose to the center when The Beatles reached their artistic apex. Then followed the rite of exit with Joni Mitchell and the howling animal cries of Neil Young, mourning the passing of the brief and sacred moment.
The Beatles, at the top of their creative arc -- that would be somewhere within the Sgt. Peppers area -- brought the defining moment to a generation. Some 30 years later, in January, 2001, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd contrasted the generation with George Bush, Jr., who last week threatened to cast the first veto of this presidency to overthrow Congress’s attempt to ban his policy of allowing the torture of military prisoners.
In his first month in office she wrote, “He said he never liked the Beatles after they got into that ‘kind of a weird psychedelic period.’” One either crossed the river or did not, and those who did not, struggled to create a counter-force. (Ten weeks into his presidency Dowd reported going hungry for a shred of modernity. “Bush II has reeled backward so fast, economically, environmentally, globally, culturally, it’s redolent of Dorothy clicking her way from the shimmering spires of Oz to a depressed black-and-white
Not unlike George Bush, John Lennon was preoccupied with Jesus. You could see it early on with the trouble he got into when the Beatles were first big. Fans would crowd them and overwhelm them and once John said to a crowd of reporters, “We’re more popular than Jesus.” There was no arrogance to it, but subtle awareness. The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Yet Bush and Lennon couldn’t be more far apart in their quests.
In The Tao of Jung, psychiatrist and Jung scholar David H. Rosen discusses C.G. Jung’s decent into the shadowy world of the collective unconscious, the world beyond the conscious ego. On the way into the “cave” of the unconscious stood a dwarf with a leathery skin, as if he were mummified, which Jung squeezed past. Rosen explains this in terms of Indian mythology: “Shiva steps on a dwarf that represents the ego when this deity does its creative dance of death and rebirth.”
Likewise with the Beatles. When they began their real creative work, they left behind the casings of their early ego identity, pictured as four mop-top wax dummies in early Beatles suits at what appears to be a burial on the cover of the Sgt. Peppers album, while the “new” Beatles appeared above like butterflies just left the cocoon in brightly colored satins and playful epaulets.
At the building vortex of their work, John went through a classic shaman’s arc, the same as the one described by Dante in The Divine Comedy; the same ascribed to Jesus by his followers thus, “. . .he descended into hell the third day . . . . he ascended into heaven.” (As E.C. Krupp writes that Santa Claus, an archaic remnant of a Norse shaman, enters the subtle realms of the archetypal shamanic journey by descending the chimney to the Underworld and flying through the Cosmic Heavens with magical reindeer.)
This is the classic pattern of the journey of the shaman described by anthropologists and it occurred with John as the Beatles rose to the top of their creative arc. IN this kind of psychological transformation, the man or woman who is about to enter into Unconscious falls, out of nowhere and against his or her will, into a funk. He falls into a torpor, a sickness of the mind and heart and feels a worthlessness to his life. He goes through a period of spiritual death and descends deep into the earth. Afterwards, he ascends and rises into heaven. Finally he emerges transfigured and enlightened god king, leaves the celestial place and comes out, usually down from a mountain, with a simple transforming idea for the tribe, a gift from the Land of the Dead.
Lennon went through such a transformation, falling into a psychological funk and getting fat and afraid at the peak of the Beatles initial popularity (“Help,” he sang. “I’m a loser, and I’m not what I appear to be.”) Then at the Revolver album, something new began to happen. Suddenly there is a sense of entering the river, an image which occurs in dreams at times of birth or death (“turn off your mind, relax and float downstream,”) and at times of psychological transformation. In Buddhism and Taoism, it is the sign of a new awakening.
He sang a second song on the same album about floating downstream in a transcendent, blissful sleep, while everyone thinks he is just lazy, (but “I don’t mind,” he sings, “I think they’re crazy”). Some say I’m Only Sleeping is aesthetically the best song he ever composed.
In terms of anthropology, this is the first orientation of an earth shaman finding his feet in the Underworld – the creative unconscious – the world under the earth, where he will take you down with him into the density of the earth, but this is the Subtle Realm of the earth, the Underworld, where “nothing is real” in Strawberry Fields.
And there he finds clarity and confidence, but in a new world, the world of the Unconscious where there is understanding of all you see with eyes closed, and the old world becomes a shell, a mere caricature of psychic life.
The shaman then ascends out of the earth and into the sky, like Jesus rising out of the tomb and entering heaven. John and the Beatles rise then to the very height of their work in Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. And here at their best work is the shaman’s archetypal journey to the heavens in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Like the Underworld of Strawberry Fields, the Astral Heavens also have otherworldly features, like newspaper taxies and magical rivers with tangerine trees and marmalade skies (like the tree “showered with reddish blossoms” blazed in light, a cosmic vision Jung had – a “vision of unearthly beauty” which oddly enough, took place in Liverpool, home of the Fab Four. Lennon’s dream vision in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds also echo’s Dante’s, looking upon the stars from above, in Paradise: “I saw light in the shape of a river/Flashing golden between two banks/Tinted in colors of marvelous spring./Out of the stream came living sparks/Which settled on the flowers on every side/Like rubies ringed with gold . . .”).
At the peak, John wrote a song called I am the Walrus in which he invoked the Upanishads, which along with The Autobiography of a Yogi was very popular back in those days. John wrote, “I am he,” about the swimming together of all of us at the peak of the Sixties, and “we are all together.” “I am the Eggman,” he sang, with his characteristic
Lennon’s favorite book was Alice in Wonderland and the Abbey Road album contained a snippet of Lewis Carroll's prose. He may have drawn on Lewis Carroll’s wise Walrus, who would fit right in on Sgt. Peppers, holding forth on cabbages and kings to a horde of oysters.
It is all comic and hidden, but it reflects an awareness he had about being a man at the center of a world in transformation. The words, “I am he,” are from the core of Eastern spirituality and are well known to its practitioners. Shimon Malin’s recent book Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and Reality, a Western Perspective offers an explanation from science: He writes, “Erwin Schrödinger had the experience of finding the soul of the universe within himself, as his own ultimate identity. He expressed his finding as follows: Inconceivable as it seems to ordinary reason, you – and all other conscious beings as such – are all in all. Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is, in a certain sense, the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in the sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: Tat twam asi, this is you [or I am he or this is that]. Or, again, in such words as ‘I am in the east and in the west, I am above and below, I am this whole world’.”
Malin writes that Wolfgang Pauli, when asked if he believed in a personal God, responded with an answer that suggests a mandala: “May I rephrase your question? I myself should prefer the following formulation: Can you, or anyone else, reach the central order of things or events, whose existence seems beyond doubt, as directly as you can reach the soul of another human being? I am using the term “soul” quite deliberately so as not to be misunderstood. If you put your question like that, I would say yes.”
This expression reflects the sentiment of the Upanishads in which the Atman (the Eggman) or the individual soul, finds itself at one with another individual soul, then another, then the whole soul, the world soul, the God consciousness, the Brahmin (the Walrus). It is what Jesus had become after he had gone through the Transfiguration, referring to himself as at one with the God force, at One with the Father. This is the Brahma consciousness.
The Beatles were at their peak with Sergeant Peppers. There John would find fulfillment, anthropologically speaking. Then he would journey to the East, although Paul and Ringo were bored, and find the mystic Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a father figure to him, but a Great Father, a spiritual father, not an earthly father.
The shaman’s work is essentially over by then, except to bring the gift idea to the community. The shaman has brought the tribe with him through the transformation of the Unconscious. It is up to us after that.
Yet some of the Beatles greatest work would come as they traveled down the back side of the mountain. The White Album is still a favorite to fans. One song, I’m So Tired, wonderfully reflects the rite of exit of the exhausted artist that comes at the end of the transformational passage, balancing the liberating I’m Only Sleeping, at the rite of entry.
It is characteristic of the dark side of the passage that the archetypes reverse themselves and show themselves not as they are in the holistic form of the inner life, but just the opposite, shattered in the outside world, reflecting that the center has been passed through and we have once again entered the flat consciousness of the everyday world. And in this instance, it was a hostile world at war in
“Can one live with a shattered glass?” the guru classically asks a Tibetan monk who has just found Enlightenment.
And here – classically - the Beatles reject their psychological god-king, the Maharishi, and even publicly denounce him. Here John sings, “My mother is of the sky.” Lucy is of the sky, his anima, his female counterpart whom he found in transcendent journey. Mother is of the earth. And the tricksters continue their playful treachery, fooling their audience and keeping them off guard with pranks like this one: “ . . . here’s another clue for you all. The Walrus was Paul.”
The Walrus, of course, was John.
Coming off the backside of the mountain – and on return form
The full text is, “Jesus said to them:/When you make the two one,/and make the inside like the outside,/and the outside like the inside,/and the upper side like the under side,/and (in such a way) that you make the man/(with) the woman a single one,/in order that the man is not man and the/woman is not woman; when you make eyes in place of an eye,/and a hand in place of a hand,/and a foot in place of a foot,/an image in place of an image;/then you will go into [the kingdom].” – from The Gospel of Thomas.
This preoccupation with Jesus appears again and again. “Christ, you know it ain’t easy,” he sang in one of his last songs, suggesting in The Ballad of John and Yoko that he, like Jesus, would be crucified.
Certainly Lennon made himself look like Jesus at the end of the Beatles. On their last album cover, Abbey Road, he is dressed all in white, like Jesus after the Transfiguration, with the Beatles trailing him across the road, like the Three Celestial Ones (see this blog in January, 2006 for the Three Celestial Ones), following in his wake. (And cultism would abound in the Beatle myth. The old Catholic myth about the three secrets revealed to the children at
Even later, at the very end of his life Jesus is suggested. All through the most creative period, the shaman’s journey from Sgt. Peppers to the end of
At the end of the Beatles period John continued in a prophet’s journey. Like Moses and the Bodhisattva, he returns from a celestial vision on top of the mountain with a simple transforming idea, as Moses did with the tablets.
It is the same idea that has occurred throughout the century but is new to our century here in the West. It is Emerson’s message and here it is again expressed ten years before the Beatles by C.G. Jung: “Our world has shrunk, and it is dawning on us that humanity is one, with one psyche. Humanity is a not inconsiderable virtue which should prompt Christians, for the sake of charity – the greatest of all virtues – to set a good example and acknowledge that though there is only one truth it speaks in many tongues, and that if we still cannot see this it is simply due to lack of understanding. No one is so godlike that he alone knows the true word.” As
It is the same idea that Leo Tolstoy, a Great Father figure to the non-violence movement of the Sixties, had brought to the world after his night of the dark soul when he went through a religious transformation.
Lennon, with his wife Yoko Ono, entered the peace movement when he left the Beatles, and like Tolstoy later in life, attempted to apply his natural gifts didactically to public purpose. He is said to have been reading Tolstoy’s late non-fiction work on religion and non-violence as many were in the late 1960s, and his final word, the simple transforming idea he brought down from the mountain is precisely the same thought as Tolstoy’s: Imagine there’s no country, it isn’t hard to do. . . Imagine all the people living life in peace.
Tolstoy claimed that there was one singular thought in Christ’s work and that was do not return violence with violence. On this he built the doctrine that would inspire Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the anti-war activists of the 1960s. Furthermore, in Patriotism and Government, Tolstoy wrote that patriotism was a practicable solution for nations early in their development, but it was time now to abandon national prejudices. Even Ghandi, who he corresponded with and who admired Tolstoy enormously, had failed in this, he said. The non-violent approach was the right approach, but, said Tolstoy, declaring the nation to be Hindu, “ruins everything.”
It was time for the removal of all barriers. No country, and no religion, too. This would be Lennon’s final impression on the people: Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you can, no hell below us, a brotherhood of man.
This is precisely Tolstoy’s religious conviction at the end of his life. He advocated abandoning identity with a particular prophet as one would abandon nationalism.
In one of his last writings on the subject Tolstoy clearly states his opinion: “Attributing a prophetic mission peculiar to certain beings such as Moses, Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad, Baha’u’llah as well as several others is one of the major causes of division and hatred between men.”
John’s swan song, Imagine, reflects timeless Buddhist sentiment like that presented in What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula, which had gained popularity in the Sixties. And is likely an intentional reconstruction of Tolstoyan philosophy which was deeply influenced by Buddhism and Taoism. Intended or not, it completes the shaman’s journey and begins the transformation of the group.
Imagine also bears a relationship to The Gospel of Thomas. Elaine Pagel's book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, states that in Thomas’s account, Jesus challenges those who mistake the kingdom of God for an otherworldly place or a future event: Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, Look, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will get there before you . . .” In a word, Imagine there’s no heaven.
William Butler Yeats writes: “What portion in the world can the artist have/Who has awakened from the common dream/But dissipation and despair?” Such was the lot of John Lennon.One of his biographers writes that he was never happy again after the Sgt. Peppers period. The pictures show it. He never smiled again for the camera after he returned from
Friday, October 08, 2010
The Vermont gubernatorial debate last night could be considered modestly historic as for the first time in our era it featured a secession candidate. In fact, there were two candidates who stressed state sovereignty over federal dominance. These debates always feature a mainstream Democrat and Republican, sometimes exceptional individuals like Madeline M. Kunin and Howard Dean, with several motley and home-grown independent candidates tagging along. As long as I can remember and before that there has been a classic world socialist candidate and there was one again last night. But this time he seemed strangely out of place and irrelevant as he and his era had been superseded by a new generation of radicals.
According to Rasmussen’s polling, the Vermont governor’s race is a tossup between Republican Brian Dubie and Democrat Peter Shumlin, but Dubie and Independent Dennis Steele dominated the discussion. Dubie is a colonel in the USAF Reserve and serves in the Vermont Air National Guard. Dennis Steele, the candidate endorsed by the Second Vermont Republic, which seeks Vermont secession, kept referring to him as “Colonel Dubie.”
It was an interesting debate in that Dubie and Steele appeared to be most relevant to Vermont’s traditions. There was a time, before the hippies and before Howard Dean, when Vermont was known as the citadel of rural Yankee know-how. It was reflected in Mad Men last week when one of the executives in suit and tie could quickly reassure a tire company that he knew how to handle tools because he was “from Vermont.” Dubie is once again that Vermont.
Steele, a veteran and a hunter who processes his own meat, is a handsome and rustic small businessman from the Northeast Kingdom. He was well prepared with facts and information and proposed that the governor of the state could affect federal and foreign policy. The Second Vermont Republic was the first group to oppose the war on Iraq from a state sovereignty position (full disclosure: I helped). The Democratic candidate said he likewise opposed the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and if he were governor he would tell the president he opposed these policies. It had the effect of highlighting Steele’s more committed and creative position and illustrated the impotence of partisan state politicians in global adventures.
Ron Paul was the Secret Santa in this debate. Ideas of the independent candidates such as a sovereign currency for Vermont, secession – they are using the phrase “liberation” now - to “control our own destiny” and a governor who could stand heroically against foreign policy are not radically new anymore although they shocked the locals up here five years ago. We hear ideas like this regularly today on Fox Business and elsewhere.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 10/07/10
It is increasingly clear now that the American anti-president simply doesn’t understand that governance is not a world soccer match in which everyone gets a little trophy from their mother; that when he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and a bunch of degenerate rock stars in opposition to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, he is building a global coalition to war against an American state; that when he listens to the ignorant, criminal, drug-induced and woman-hating lyrics of Lil Wayne and Jay-Z (“. . . get a crate, some crack and some house slippers . . .”) on his IPod he is endorsing and advancing to the most viral form of nihilism post-war has yet seen and it is destroying black America. That he simply doesn’t understand his job when Texas Governor Rick Perry, in the war with Mexico which has just claimed another American life, says: "Frankly, these two presidents (Calderon and President Barack Obama) need to get together with their secretaries of state and say, 'What are we going to do about this?'" That he simply would not know the right thing to do and so will do nothing. Then he will give a speech.
It is increasing clear that we are coming to the end of it. And so it comes as no surprise that The Hill/ANGA poll reports that a majority of voters in key battleground districts favor repeal of the legislative overhaul Congress passed this year.
It means the realities of the new century are beginning to set in. It means Americans are not sheep and the age of Roosevelt has past. America is a vital, complex, responsive and diverse group in a varied work force from coast to coast and not the compliant, dependent and uniform “huddled masses”; the European immigrant horde of the factory floors of a few northeastern cities waiting for guidance as the nostalgicos in power today wish it to be again.
As John Fund of the Wall Street Journal writes yesterday, the real historic parallel may by 1894 when Republicans took 100 seats. Obama is America’s Grover Cleveland; the still sea between a gone era and century and the awakening of the American century. As you recall, McKinley was just ahead, prelude to Teddy Roosevelt, and rise of the power paradigm that created the modern world. We are at such a turning today. The century ahead will find prelude in November and begin to awaken in 2012 and 2016. This is the critical fourth-generational turning which will form our century and it will be marked by internal growth and strengths and regional circles of responsibilities. It will awaken in the red states where the soldiers are as soldiers and veterans engage and engineer every historic turning. ‘Twas ever thus. Call it the new federalism.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
It means the realities of the new century are beginning to set in. It means Americans are not sheep and the age of Roosevelt has past. America is a vital, complex, responsive and diverse group in a varied work force from coast to coast and not the compliant and uniform “huddled masses” of the factory floors of a few northeastern cities waiting for guidance from the Master as the nostalgicos in power today wish it to be. As John Fund of the Wall Street Journal writes this morning, the real historic parallel may by 1894 when Republicans took 100 seats. As you recall, McKinley was just ahead, prelude to Teddy Roosevelt, and rise of the power paradigm that created the modern world. We are at such a turning again. The century ahead will find prelude in November and begin to awaken in 2012 and 2016. This is the critical fourth-generational turning which will form our century and it will be marked by internal growth and strengthenings and regional circles of responsibilities. It will awaken in the red states where the soldiers are as soldiers and veterans engage and engineer every historic turning. ‘Twas ever thus. Call it the new federalism.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 9/5/10
It is not inconceivable that any form and vision of globalization – Marx’s, Hamilton’s, the Democrats’, the Republicans’, Obama’s, Clinton’s, Bono’s, Lady Gaga’s, Osama Bin Laden’s and the churches of Paul, John Paul and John, Paul, George and Ringo – will be considered totalitarian in the millennium ahead. It has been my creeping awareness in almost seven decade’s application to life as soldier, writer, farmer, stone wall builder, husband to one and father to four. Sometimes the priest, like Bono, accompanies the conquistadors. Sometimes the conquistadors follow the priests. The mad obsessions to conquer the world this time around only started some five hundred years ago when they discovered the big gaping, empty space between Europe and China. But we could well be at a turning. We had seen at my birth the death of the world. But this year I am seeing the world begin again in Israel. And Israel asks only for a small place, not everyplace.
Change that: She will no longer ask. There is no one left to ask. She will demand it. She will take it.
These past weeks the veil has lifted. It came as no surprise to anyone that the phony peace talks failed. Success was never an option. ‘Twas all a drama. A single line on the three-by-five cards they gave to Hillary and Obama when they dressed them up and pushed them onto the stage. You will need to get the Middle East Peace Talks merit badge if you want to go on to be President or President of Harvard. It makes no difference if you fail or succeed. We’ve not judgmental like that.
But it matters this time in Israel, especially to the dynamic youth movement known as Kumah and the aliyah revolution. It matters this time because the old generation is finally finished with its failed and faithless drama. The new generation can finally rise to the world.
As one writes on Kumah’s web site on September 26, 2010 at the end of “the Prime Minister’s appeasement campaign”: “Tonight is the end of the Judea and Samaria building freeze . . . For 10 months, the Prime Minister of Israel subjected the 250,000 tax-paying professionals and residents of Judea and Samaria to an unconscionable and humiliating freeze of their rights. . . And tonight, we celebrate the un-freeze of building as a sort of achievement. As if we were entitled to anything less. . . . As I was driving home from a wonderful Shabbat in a Judean town, it occurred to me that tonight’s building (yes, people are getting started the minute the building prohibition goes out of effect) is properly juxtaposed to a night of destruction which took place so many years ago. In memory of the destruction of Jewish life and surge of fear which was indelibly etched in our minds as Krystallnacht (lehavdil), I dub this night Bauennacht – Building Night. May we never know shame or fear again. And may we all grow accustomed to the good life, in the good land.”
I am not a Jew and do not belong to any religion. In my life the most significant observation arrived from the singular British bard who imagined there to be no heaven, no country, and no religion too. It has usually been interpreted as anarchistic or nihilistic by the poisonous bitch culture of the kind which trails poets. I’d say it speaks to what Taoists call the “wu chi” – the undifferentiated state which comes at the end of the world and the beginning, the gap between worlds we have traversed since the 1930s. From the wu chi comes the tai chi, the yin and the yang, and from the tai chi come the ten thousand things which make the world again.
People my age were born at the end of the world. It is possible now to sense the beginning. And not for the first time, the world begins again in Israel.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
The Washington Post’s Anne E. Kornblut says President Obama’s new man, Pete “The Fixer” Rouse was once described by Obama as “completely ego-free.” Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary, is already ego-free. Or he appears to be. Better than being weak, malleable and fawning. I’m not sure they really understand what “ego free” means. Possibly they think of Rahm Emanuel as “egotistical” and Rouse the Fixer as the opposite or the anti-Emanuel. Emanuel is not egotistical. He is brash and aggressive. “Pushy” as Executive Secretary Ida Blankenship said last week before she died. It is different. But the choice to replace him with Rouse presents a flawed management model.
A secondary dog is not really “ego less” or should not be. Such a person would be mud. They are or should be keen of wit; sensory. Probably introverted and sensory. They are inner guide and shaman to the Extrovert as Tonto is to the Lone Ranger or Merlin is to Arthur. Or the Irish gardener in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” (Don Knotts stared in the 1966 classic. The quiet advisor is classically portrayed in American folk lore as an Irish gardener or an angel.) The one sees in, the other sees out. Thus they need each other. But Obama is no Arthur. He himself prefers quiet and would probably be a good Merlin to Colin Powell if he were president or Elizabeth Warren if she were president or Rahm Emanuel if he were mayor of Chicago. That is why Obama prefers the quiet pretention of Harvard Yard to the brawling shirt sleeves of Fenway Park and doesn’t understand why it makes ordinary people so mad, so he thinks common people are boorish.
Emmanuel might be a good mayor for Chicago. He was a bad fit for this White House as he was Alpha Dog without a pack. The only thing they all had in common was that they were all from Chicago. Which doesn’t work outside Chicago. (Like Tim Hortens coffee shops outside of Canada.) I know Chicago. I like it. It costs five dollars to fix a ticket where the same bride will cost $150 in Boston.
There is a neurosis in the White House. What you want is an Arthur/Merlin relationship. The naturally aggressive chief executive out front and the quiet introvert advising. If you don’t have it you get the “Mr. Chicken complex” (which I made up) in which leadership is a ghost. Meaning the movie, not the excellent restaurants with the big chicken statues in Ohio. But Emmanuel was the aggressive executive, and Obama the introspective and pensive professor. What he could do for Emanuel in Chicago is write those great speeches that he gives. It is Merlin’s job. Obama would be the perfect advisor to Emanuel in the Chicago job.
As far as personality type and management models go, they had been getting it backwards. Now it will be worse with Rouse, but as is suggested in the Kornblut piece, it looks like a temporary deal. If Obama/Emanuel was a backwards Merlin/Arthur Introvert/Extrovert management model with the Introvert dominating, you could call Obama/Rouse a Merlin/Merlin model. Two (or more) small dogs and no big dog. Colleges are like that.
But that Obama with Emanuel saw his sidekick instead of himself as the aggressor is not good. And he sees that in Elizabeth Warren as well.