Superiority Isms

How different are American Exceptionalism (think both Barack Obama and Donald Trump), Black Power, Gray Power, Feminism, Transgenderism, Nationalism, Chosen People-ism or Only True Religion-ism from White Supremacism?  They all involve group elitism without regard to individual effort.  It seems obvious, as an empirical fact, that members of different groups either enjoy disproportionate benefits or suffer disproportionate detriments because, whether voluntarily or through accidents of birth, they find themselves members of such groups, and that as a memeplex, the group as a whole usually strives to improve its posture, whether through fair means or foul.  Sometimes groups, especially in societies characterized by ethnic transitions (such as flow-of-diverse-immigrant-group societies), pass through stages were, originating at society’s nadir they eventually attain its summit, but even within such societies, some groups, usually because of racial or caste differences, remain immobile.  When the latter occurs, the reality is that everyone suffers to some extent.

It instinctively strikes me that we are either all inherently equal, albeit individually capable of improving, or we’re not, and that if any group has a “right” to consider itself “inherently” superior to any other, all “inherent” groups (equality being at least somewhat relevant) are entitled to the same right?  That they may all be wrong seems irrelevant from a progressive perspective where liberty and freedom of opinion, belief and expression are sacred and censorship is anathema.  But as in the case of the term “liberal”, the term “progressive” is losing any real meaning, having been usurped by political movements with no interest at all in the premises involved.  Of course, that is also true of the terms “conservative” and “democratic”.  The age of “relative truth” is destroying language as well as integrity.

As I indicated above, I personally believe that we are all “inherently” equal and that “inherency-supremacists” of any ilk seeking to preserve their advantage by depriving competing groups of the capacity for upward mobility are wrong, and further, that such beliefs make collectivist goals such as those purportedly espoused by universalist religions such as Christianity much more difficult.  But I also acknowledge that as individuals, and even groups, we can make decisions that improve us and permit us to excel over others. 

That is certainly how I feel about my education and my experiences as an educator, as an entrepreneur, as a constitutional scholar and as a civic activist.  Many, perhaps most people have accomplishments that justify a belief that they have improved over the attributes with which they were endowed at birth.  Sometimes those improvements are earned while at other times they were merely the luck of the draw, and sometimes the equality we should have enjoyed at birth was diluted by ethnic, racial, gender, socioeconomic and religious factors which make it unfairly difficult for us to succeed in comparison with those more fortunate.  And sometimes those entropic attributes are unfairly spread among a group.  When that occurs, society as a whole is worse off, especially if those handicaps and negative prejudices are not eliminated.  We all suffer when some of us fail, for whatever reason, to attain our highest potential (the ancient Greek’s concept of justice).

It strikes me that despite superficial similarities, there is a huge difference between the conception that a group is inherently inferior and the reality that because of education, socioeconomic factors or inherited cultural self-discipline, some groups really do enjoy justifiable superior benefits at birth, making success among their members more likely.  But does the answer to the resulting inequality and inequity require a handicapper general such as the one Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., posited in his dystopic novel Harrison Bergeron?  Given that every single member of society benefits when each individual attains his or her full potential, isn’t the answer in the direction of improving everyone’s lot rather than tearing everyone down to the lowest possible denominator (as the purportedly “woke” seem Hell bent on doing[1])?  And if we do what the “woke” demand, will elitism disappear, increase, or become individualized (we refer to the latter, when not used in a pejorative sense as “meritocracy”, or at least we used to when truth and language had meaning).

The difference between the “isms” initially referenced and a meritocracy is in the statically inherent nature of the benefits or detriments we attribute to groups.  Where the potential for upward mobility is not the rule, society stagnates, fragments more and more, and tends to degenerate into a polarized cast system.  That may be where we find ourselves today.  But how can this situation be remedied.  Is the solution a dictate under force of law from those who consider themselves morally superior, or is it a wave of enlightened self-interest based on examples percolating from below, an evolutionary, social rather than legal, norm, one that changes souls as well as minds rather than mandating conduct and thus becomes self-actuating rather than imposed?  One purports to work immediately but usually fails and the other requires patience and understanding rather than ridicule and punishment and takes a while.

The truth is that none of us can guarantee an answer although most of us recognize the problem, at least in some aspects.  Those less experienced and less patient believe that we can tear down the society we’ve inherited over many millennia and start anew with a clean slate on which we can draw our version of perfection.  That solution is of course, totalitarian and tends to the dystopic rather than the utopic but it is proposed in the name of democracy and liberty.  Many just prefer to do nothing and see what happens, a solution Albert Einstein, by analogy, once referred to as the definition of insanity.  Perhaps nature’s evolution through trial and error provides the best option, after all, notwithstanding the opinion of the purportedly woke, humans are also nature’s children.

If evolution through experimentation and trial and error is the most promising path to attaining equity and justice and the greater good, then the tension between liberty and inherent fundamental rights and collectivist goals needs to be respected.  Intolerance with respect to contrary opinions may be the worst supremacism of all and it’s a slippery slope down which we’ve been sliding for centuries. 

Something to ponder on as we stray further and further from common goals while seeking universal solutions, if not universal truths.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.


[1] The fascination of the purportedly woke with cinema dealing with zombie and vampire revolutions may provide interesting insights.  I prefer the latter and disdain the former which may something about me as well.

Marina and Teddy and Mom and Pop: a Christmas Carol of Our Own

The aroma of melancholy and nostalgia subtly scent the air and echoes faintly sing as memories flow.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas when it was Teddy, Marina and me (in inverse chronological order), and, of course, Mom and Pop.  “Pop” was my stepfather with whom I lived from ages six through fifteen (when he and my mother separated).  Nonetheless, he remained in our lives until he passed away suddenly when I was a few months shy of twenty-six.  He was about to turn sixty I think.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas especially in New York; especially during the morning watching the Macy’s Christmas Parade on our small black and white television set with Santa bringing up the rear and sometimes, if it had snowed, I remember making angels’ wings on a common lawn in our small apartment in Queens Village (overlooking Hillside Boulevard).  It was on 215th street as I recall.  I was happy there, at least for a bit; good friends quickly made, especially Bobby, the Italian kid from across the street, then all too quickly gone, as usual.  We moved a lot.  But back then there was always my sister Marina and my brother Teddy, and my Mom and Pop and me.

I remember Thanksgiving as the start of a special season, one featuring various festivals of light, a season which was, then, for me, flavored with introspection and speculation on the nature of the Prince of Peace, the one I so loved and admired way back then.  Then, when I was so blissfully innocent (at least some of the time).  And I remember optimism and hope, and a general feeling of delightful wellbeing, not realizing that we were not all that well off but feeling that we were.  We were all together then; but not for long. 

Those days, like so much else, lasted until about 1961 when the world changed.  The Pope, Pius X I think, purportedly read the last Fatima prophecy and I went off to boarding school (I don’t think the two events were connected, although, who knows), a military prep school, a wonderful place in its own light, and many new adventures began, not all happy but rarely sad.  I remember the gloomy thanksgiving in 1963, when for a second, the world was united in shock, but then, a few months later, the 1964 World’s Fair, and the 20th anniversary of D Day, and then, college, but a very different college experience than most.

And of course, the “police action in Vietnam.  Wars are bad so we didn’t have them after World War II, just like we’ve had a Defense Department rather than a Department of War since 1947.  I recall Simon and Garfunkel’s devastating version of Silent Night; actually, devastation was everywhere but so was change and optimism, even in the face of the Democratic Party’s display of fascism, American style in 1968.  Flower power, and love-ins, and miniskirts and long, long legs slowly fading into the same old us.

Months have merged into years and years into decades.  I’ve met so many people and been so many places.  Made so many mistakes but learned from most.  It’s been a very full and very complex life, one with numerous starts after barely realized ends, as though I’ve been at least five or six very different people, each living in different epochs, in different contexts with different settings and different casts.  Social changes accelerated at a dizzying pace in some aspects but not at all in others.  Some changes were essential and positive but too many now seem just illusory, ugly, even malign.  Right became wrong and then right again, and then, … who knows.  I’ve seen a country that adopted me as I did it dissolve into bickering, polarized factions with the wealthiest, even more that usually, astronomically increasing what they have at the expense of the impoverished many.  I’ve seen our bravest and most noble destroyed in useless foreign adventures and then, all too often, cast aside when some managed to return home.  I’ve seen hope replaced by resignation, but with all that and through it all, I’ve seen a beautiful People still prepared to give thanks for whatever they have.  In fact, those with the least are often the ones who most sincerely continue to believe in the magic season at the end of the year.

Today, I think of a marriage once so bright gone bad and miss Billy and Alex and Edward, now living lives of their own without me but at least together.  And I think of all the wonderful women I’ve known intimately but who just didn’t work out, and as always, I wish most of them the best.  I recall a dazzlingly beautiful young woman who once introduced herself to me as “Diana, as in the goddess, not Diane” and I remember the lyrics “all day, all night Marianne, down by the seashore, sifting sand” and I’m grateful and amazed that some of us are, from a distance, somehow still in touch and every once in a while, still speculating about might have beens.

Places as well as people have treasured places in my heart.  I think of Miami and Miami Beach and of Central Beach Elementary and Biscayne Elementary and of Hellen Mansfield and Maryanne Bass.  I think of Charlotte and Wesley Heights Elementary, an awesome place with great friends, albeit, as usual, only for a season or two.  And then I think of New York and Charleston and then, New York again; and of Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Ocala.  All among the too many places I’ve called home.  I miss them all, now back in Manizales where I began, but I sometimes wonder for how long.  This holiday season marks the start of my 15th year here.

I’ve attended almost too many schools to count, usually briefly, until that fateful 1961 when I enrolled in the Eastern Military Academy college preparatory school, a fabulous castle where I’d spend almost twelve years, first as a student but eventually as a faculty member too.  And of course, the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, is emblazoned in my soul, I think of it daily and even after more than half a century, interact with beloved former classmates and friends, and fellow alumni.

Even before those halcyon days in New York though, before the good old USA, I remember how once upon a time, in another continent to the South, one I now once again call home, my grandmother and my two aunts, and an all too interesting uncle remained, at least for a while. 

What a ride life’s been and it still has such a long way to go.  A seventh version of me now cohabits with Natalia and sometimes with Dalia and Maia, her teenage daughters, and with Maria Elena her mother, and with Caro her sister and Jose Jesus her father and Edwin and Odair, her brothers, and with all my Mahe cousins and with all the friends and colleagues and students I’ve made during the past fourteen years. 

During this season I nostalgically recall Jimmy Stewart at Christmas reevaluating his values and Ingrid Bergman as a Christmas story nun, and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on the road, and Abbot and Costello, and the Three Stooges with Officer Joe Bolton (before police officers were perceived of as swine) and I recall meeting Perry Cuomo at Eddie Kowalski’s house where his pretty cousin Bonnie, now gone, enthralled us all. 

But I come back to Marina and Teddy, and Pop and Mom. And a very young and optimistic version of me delighting in white Christmases and decorations and Christmas carols, and even in ghosts of Christmases past and present and future, and of Tiny Tim (the original one, not the one tripping through the tulips with a ukulele) wishing us a Merry Christmas,

One and all.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Not as much for which to be Thankful as One Might Hope

A Real Progressives Dilemma

It is amazing how, in just eleven months, the Democratic Party has managed to utterly demolish the prospect for attainment of progressive causes such as racial, religious, ethnic and gender tolerance and acceptance, for minimizing discrimination, for more humane and effective criminal justice policies geared towards redemption, for international peace and collaboration, for a more equitable sharing of our economic bounty.  Of course, that Deep State tool could not have accomplished such disasters for real progressives without the idiotic “woke”, without Identity Politics and of course, without the decrepit but hypocritical corporate media. 

No conservatives could have done as much harm to the popular attitudes and perceptions towards progressive causes than what’s been done by ludicrous pseudo-liberals-in-name only demanding ludicrously incongruous and unworkable policies; policies such as supporting looting and arson and mayhem and murder for its own sake, just for the fun of it; trying to make heroes of the worst our minorities have to offer while seeking to erase historical memorials from which we might have learned; and, attacking and prosecuting real political protest from people who honestly believe, whether they’re right or wrong, that the last federal elections were “stolen” (and this after their Russiagate fraud).

During the American Revolution, there was a show tune popular among the British troops fighting in the “colonies” which was played by military bands at their surrender at Yorktown.  It was appropriately entitled “The World Turned Upside Down”.  That is the Bizarro World in which we live and if current trends are any sign, the next elections at all levels will set progressive causes such as publicly financed health care and education for all, a real welfare system (you know, as in “Provide for the Common Welfare” as promised by those rabidly socialist Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention), a non-politicized judiciary, reasonable regulation of firearms, etc., back at least a decade. 

It is no wonder Tulsi Gabbard, the only decent major Democratic Party figure, is so often beside herself bemoaning the insanity of her political party.  It is a price we will all pay, but most especially the most vulnerable among us, those most in need of our wisdom and understanding and of a world were equity, justice and equality reign and where corruption and impunity are anathema …. rather than the rule.

Our Deep State masters are obviously beside themselves with joy. 

That’s all they really wanted.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Superciliously Serendipity or Serendipitously Supercilious

“What a world, what a world” cried the twin witches of East and West as, soaked in a transparent liquid that may have been water (but smelled a bit like a cheap American vodka knock-off), they melted.  Melted in a land other than Oz.  And of course, wicked though they might have been (and that’s debatable), they were certainly right.  That their viewpoints were otherwise quite different didn’t matter, didn’t matter at all.

Glenda?  She was oblivious, enamored of her reflection in a borrowed magic mirror and Dorothy, well, she was not really what she seemed.  The stories Toto could have told if only we’d understood what he was trying to say.  And of course, the Wizard was not a wizard at all.  Just a tool, a tool like most of us, singing of scarecrows, tin men and cowardly lions, ….

Oh my!

A question or a query or perhaps, an inquisition of sorts?  From the Bizzaro world on the other side of the looking glass, the one from which Alice, now safe with her Cheshire cat and “haberdashered” rabbit, had fled for a second time (after a much regretted but highly publicized return). Evidently a very powerful country was split into at least seventeen furious factions and all they could agree on was that the others were viciously vile, deliberately so, not merely mistaken, but evil, and deceptively so.

To wit, a casual neutral observer, could one be found, might ponder, and verily so.  Images in a purloined crystal ball come into focus, perhaps in a Palantir.  Very hazy images, very difficult to comprehend, not because of their different dictions or registers or accents, but because the cacophony in which they were emerged was so lacking in coherence and logic, so internally contradictory.  The scene becomes wavy the way dream sequences appeared in old black and white television programs, someone from another dimension, perhaps a comic book dimension, apparently a journalist, but a real journalist, not one of the professional entertainers charged with weaving narratives, although ….; anyway, he (or she, or it, gender seems hard to define) seems to be trying to make sense of what is happening, but not all that successfully.  The journalist is observing an apparently sane person separating rival mobs.  And we listen in.

Soooo ….

….  Just how different is believing that judicial investigations into allegations of electoral fraud were conducted improperly from believing that a criminal trial was conducted inappropriately? The truth is that the electoral and judicial systems, like almost all of our governmental institutions, are dysfunctional at best.  The truth is that they have become politicized, as have our means of mass communication.  Perhaps they always were.  Actually, no perhaps about it and such developments are neither accidental not natural but rather carefully and artfully orchestrated by those whom we’ve permitted to attain almost complete control over our lives.  A feat possible only because they’ve become so expert at dividing us and keeping us divided.  Perhaps that’s the real meaning of the allegorical Tower of Babel myth.

We, as a species, tend to be reactive rather than proactive and that makes it easy for those among us willing to plan and to strategize, to develop and implement tactics and then to wait patiently as they take root enabling “them” (the elusive but ubiquitous “they”) to successfully manipulate us.  When their fields have been prepared and carefully planted and nurtured, like good strategists, they cultivate the harvests that most benefit them, usually to our detriment.  Actually, we are those harvests, we are the fruit and grains that they reap, the cattle that they milk and then slaughter.  And like the “good” (a relative concept) domesticated comestibles that we are, we permit ourselves to be herded to our doom while we bicker among ourselves and chew our metaphorical cud

As in the case of any great lie, grains of truth as seasoning are essentials.  Those whose goal is our manipulation first find real social issues that require attention, issues such as racism, xenophobia, misogyny, the environment, inequality, inequity, injustice, corruption and impunity and then, rather than offer us solutions, they rub salt into every fissure to set us against each other while assuring that none of such issues are resolved.  The United States Civil War is a great example.  Elimination of slavery was never the issue, only its transformation and expansion into a caste system of serfs who believed themselves free, set against working stiffs who believed themselves free but somehow superior, all opposed to the huddled masses yearning to be free who invaded our shining shores, to then be en-serfed in their turn, all endowed with illusory rights, especially the right to believe that they controlled their own destinies.  And it all worked just fine, and will keep working as long as most of us never realize that we have other options, as long as we can be kept bickering and polarized and furious.

Racism and xenophobia and misogyny will never be eliminated by seeking to humiliate and ridicule others or by destroying the markers and mementos of our sorry history.  Mirages are not real and neither are sirens (except on police cars and firetrucks and ambulances).  Delusion, whether self-imposed, self-maintained or artificially orchestrated will not solve problems any more than we can successfully groom ourselves by looking at pictures of attractive people and wishing we were they, but then, solutions are not the goal, control is, and emotional manipulation works just fine for that.  Neither inequity nor inequality nor injustice can be minimized by self-delusion.  Nor can corruption nor impunity.  They’ll keep doing just fine in an information sharing system where misdirection is the key.  While Kant’s nightmare, perpetual war, is also key, it is war on every level that counts, not just war against other countries: gender wars and racial wars and religious wars and class wars and cultural wars; each works just fine, even wars against recreational drugs and poverty.  Poor Kant.

Poorer us.

Anyone who seriously believes that elections in the United States have ever been free of fraud is delusional and those who most vehemently insist that is the case are in all probability the ones who most carefully, studiously and assiduously orchestrate electoral fraud (while screaming that what they do is designed to assure that electoral participation is facilitated, common sense be damned, it’s always been overrated).  The same is true of anyone who believes that the criminal justice system actually functions in our best interests, or that the civil justice system will protect the righteous poor from the villainously powerful. 

Only relative power matters. 

But the delusional are many and very thoroughly convinced of their cognitive and moral superiority, whichever side they’re on.  Which is just fine for those who are really “woke”.  No, not the silly, self-centered, self-lauding, something-or-other-wannabes, but rather, their shepherds (and not in a positive sense).  We are imprisoned in cells of our own design, tightly clutching the keys than can set us free, but utterly convinced that to use them is not in our best interest.  That opening our cell doors to other perspectives will taint us and destroy that which we value.  We have been accustomed and acculturated to believe that the illusory security of the static is essential and that change in our perspectives is anathematic treason.  Treason to our masters who protect us from the others, the “others” who are a bit more evil than are they. 

An open mind is a terrible thing, an abomination.

We are a stupid species, let’s admit it!  And the universe might be well rid of us.  Our planet certainly would be.

*                             *                             *

Hmmm, the old fashioned television program again becomes wavy, the color returns, the journalist shakes his head and smiles ruefully at his audience, a perplexed, almost extinct species of fictitious flying simian warriors, now gainfully unemployed.

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Oh We of Little Faith

This morning, RT News published an article concerning Protests throughout Europe against Covid 19 Vaccine Mandates and Caitlin Johnstone wrote an article addressing them that reflected my perspectives as well.  I am not personally against taking one of the related injections but realize most are not vaccines but RNA memory modifiers, a variant on the alteration of DNA which the medical profession has criticized as unethical when it comes to genetic modification.  Caitlin noted that if the vaccines were truly effective in preventing either the spread of the vaccine or the disease without a serious threat of side effects, mandates might be justified, but that not being the case, mandates were not defensible in this instance.  She has a point.  She did not touch on the related corruption, i.e., that the vaccines were developed using public financing but have been privatized and that the recipients of such largess, pharmaceuticals, are sharing it massively with the elected political leaders who are curtailing our liberty as a means of generating the illicit profits. 

In a radio interview yesterday on a local Colombian radio station I made those same points and when the interviewer, long time Colombian journalist Dario Sanín, observed that seemingly the public had no choice other than to obey or be sanctioned, and perhaps, pray, I responded that if voters took their political responsibilities (which I asserted were not mere rights) seriously, we would not be in this mess.  That if we voted in favor of who and what we believed rather than against manufactured bogeys, most of our problems would me much less serious and we would not be so polarized.  And I reminded him that as in the United States, Colombian elections were around the corner.

The world is in a sorry state I admitted, but the fault is not that of the putrid villains who lead us but of We the voters who elect them, permitting ourselves to be consistently manipulated, deceived and divided.  We the voters who refuse to accept that educated political participation is a duty rather than a right and that refusing to comply with such duty has serious consequences for us all; perhaps fatal consequences.  Certainly fatal consequences for our liberties and for the Common Welfare which the United States Constitution was purportedly promulgated to provide.

Oh We of little faith, …

In Ourselves. 

Unfortunately, as a collective, We deserve what We get.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

On the Massive Difference between Leftist Sounding Rhetoric and Real Leftist Ideals

This morning, I posted a comment on an op-ed article in RT News entitled “America’s most anxious city revealed by data. It should have been painfully obvious” to the effect that “Conflating … Democrats with the left is a mistake. Showboating, virtue signaling, hypocritical and inept idiots do not represent the real left, which is about solving problems rather than exacerbating them”. Two negative responses to that observation led to the following expression of my perspectives on point.  The responses, and I quote, were: “Dream on. Nice attempt to strip the Left of all of its natural stink and decay in order to leave nothing but a fictitious sweet smelling rose. It’s like an abused wife telling someone about only the good aspects of her abusive husband”; and, “Should I believe my eyes or you?”

Sooo, this is my answer which I believe to be important:

People who claim to share leftist values include many who consider themselves liberal or progressives and articulate goals shared by “real leftists” but way too many, including almost all of the ones who call the Democratic Party their home, differ drastically in their conduct and methodology from those of us on the “real left”, most of whom owe allegiance to no political party at present.  Too many of the former seem to be involved in political and civic activities for show, to demonstrate their virtue rather than to get anything done.  To them demonstrations and ridicule and comradery seem the real goals.  They are extremely counterproductive.  Indeed, it seems their only use is to polarize and divide us for the benefit of the elites who run the Deep State and who are the primary obstacles to attaining the world real leftists strive to achieve. 

The real left is not about using rhetorical devices to win arguments, or to win arguments at all.  We are about laying the groundwork to lead by example, to educate by example, to keep our minds open to the views of others and to thereby both continue to grow and learn and to thereby understand the views of those who oppose our goals even when such opposition is against their best interests. The real left, including real democratic socialists, understand that the manner in which the tensions between our individual and collective natures are perceived is what separates us from other honestly held philosophies, most specifically libertarians with whom we probably share many values.  We believe that conflicts between the individual and the collectives of which the individual is a part should, whenever possible and to the extent possible, be reconciled, but that when reconciliation is not possible, as Star Trek’s Spock lectured us, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.  Libertarians hold the opposite perspective.  But we true leftist are not out to destroy individuality and individual rights any more than libertarians are anarchists, and we can usually work things out because we both resort to reason and persuasion rather than ridicule and government imposed compulsions which almost always pave the way to authoritarianism at best and totalitarianism at worst.  Neither of us believes that the two major parties have our interests at heart thus we both tend to be populist, i.e., we reject governmental institutions and traditions that provide only the illusion of democracy, or of liberty, or of equality, or of equity or of justice, and would prefer to do away with political parties altogether and instead concentrate on the qualities and nature of candidates, to vote in favor of that in which we believe rather than against “greater evils”.  We share with libertarians much more than that which divides us.

Real leftists despise the United States Democratic Party because of its dishonesty and hypocrisy in espousing our views while doing everything possible to obstruct their realization.  Republican policies all too frequently oppose the policies we espouse, but do so honestly, so that we both know where we stand.  However, lately, traditionalist Republicans like the Bush Family and their followers, have, like the Democratic Party, become tools of the Deep State’s anti-Kantian philosophy espousing the economic benefits of perpetual war.  Real leftists and libertarians are non-interventionist-pacifists but if legitimate defense is required, we expect to engage on the front lines ourselves rather than sending other people’s fathers and sons and mothers and daughters off to do the dirty work.

Unfortunately, the faux-woke, self-aggrandizing, attention seeking, unproductive but very loud and very active people who claim to be leftist and liberal and progressive, apparently having a great deal of free time in which to riot and loot and burn and ridicule and put others down, are likely to succeed in preventing implementation adoption and popular acceptance of the goals they claim are theirs, and only theirs.  Goals which real leftists really treasure such as a real end to racism and xenophobia and misogyny because we have convinced people, in their hearts and in their souls, that we are all brothers and sisters and that, as Martin Luther King, Jr., frequently and passionately expressed “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.  Goals such as real equity, equality of opportunity and justice, where impunity and corruption are anathema.  The real left seeks to persuade through example and illustration and realizes that a great deal of patience is required, we know that actions, for good or ill, speak louder than words or pictures or slogans.  We understand that real change is not attained without popular support and certainly that it is not attained through abuse of the government monopoly on the use of force through imposition of coercive sanctions that only alienate and divide.

Thus, the worst enemies of real leftist are not those who do not share our goals and values but those who claim that they do but who by their conduct make them impossible to attain.

Something to consider.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com

Wither Go We: A diatribe

Identity politics, the purportedly “woke”, the destruction of historical monuments, the illusory #MeToo movement, all addressing real problems but apparently making them worse, continue unabated and uncontrolled.  Reality seems illusory and illusions reality as slogans by those most responsible for the ills of which they complain flood our senses.  Authoritarianism in the name of liberty and censorship in the name of freedom of expression are as omnipresent as are demands to eliminate safeguards against electoral fraud in the name of free elections.  It’s as though all that is required of great poetry is rhythmic sounds without meaning or context and all that is required of transcendental philosophy is that it be confusing.  That seems to be world in which we find ourselves, one where cognitively dissonant entertainment (some labeled news) seeks to mold us into something, but perhaps no one is sure just what.

Perhaps we need some articulate parables and metaphors to clear our minds.  Perhaps a contrast of opposites can bring us together, at least briefly, at least for an instant.  Perhaps something as negatively perceived as cancer can help.  Cancer is not necessarily a negative concept, rather, it involves an anomaly growing in an uncontrollable manner within an incompatible host.  As with so many processes that we as humans denominate “diseases”, cancer is merely an independent biochemical process seeking its own destiny, although when it attains victory over its hosts, its own self-destruction is assured.  In that sense, a metaphorical cancer seems to have evolved in our species.

Or perhaps it’s not really metaphorical.  Perhaps it’s been growing for a long time.  Perhaps it’s always been among us but is now making itself much more manifest, secure in the conviction that its time has come.  Perhaps a societal cancer, one composed of memes rather than genes, has reached the point in its growth where it is impelled to destroy that which we’ve been without concern for what we’ll become.  Its goals would seem subject to differing interpretations depending on whether one viewed as malign or benign.  In one sense, one might perceive it as a lemming-like compulsion to species suicide but in another, as a necessary evolutive climax; back towards nature’s testing, questing formulae of trial and error and perhaps, back towards survival of the fittest; or else towards extinction, which is what happens to evolution’s failures. 

The cancer within our society manifests as a complex of chaotically contrarian groups, each furiously seeking change but unable to agree as to who or what we should become.  It feels like an instinctive compulsion away from something but not necessarily towards anything.  Perhaps, many within its vocal subgroups (where clamor and uproar seem to amplify their numbers and their impact) don’t really care about consequences, the urge towards species suicide being much too strong among them; their self-hate as strong as their disdain for tradition.  And perhaps such self-hate is justified. 

Some such subgroups have a clear perspective of the aberrations we desperately need to discard in our societal and social makeup in order to attain the ideals we’ve created, aberrations such as elitism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, inequity, inequality, injustice.  Some even have cogent ideas about how to attain such goal but too few have the talent necessary to attain the better world for which they aspire through voluntary means and instead, seek to use the purported monopoly the legal use of force enjoyed (but all too often abused) by government to force compliance with their perspectives, rendering them as destructive to popular welfare as are the concepts they believe that they oppose.  Thus, much of the evolutionary cancer that infects us, for good or ill, seems delusional and generates popular resistance. A sort of counterrevolution led by our societal white cells under multicolored populist banners.

The metaphor of cancer is relevant because cancer, as a medical malady, may be misunderstood.  Perhaps it is nature’s way of forcing us to return to an evolutionary process that we’ve insisted on stalling (if not abandoning), misdirecting it through artificial means which our cognitive breakthroughs have made possible; an aberration accomplished through invention of counterintuitive (at least to nature) ethics and morals that reject the fundamental premises involved in survival of the fittest and which place our human wisdom above that of nature.  It would seem an abomination for those who insist on protecting the environment to eventually come to the conclusion that those deemed most evil among us, villains such as Hitler and his Nazis, agreed with them, but we’re protected against such heresy by a beneficent logical incoherence.  One to which we turn as we struggle with concepts such as good and evil, concepts as alien to nature and perhaps even to nature’s god (if one exists) as they were to those members of our species whose values and conclusions we’ve purportedly rejected, at least superficially, albeit perhaps hypocritically.  A beneficent logical incoherence whose postulates have become so powerful a part of who we claim to be that failing to abide by them is anathema.  Postulates such as the sanctity of life, the importance of honesty, the inhumanity of brutality, and of course, concepts such as equity and equality and justice.

As a species, we are an amalgam of incoherently complex contradictions and perceptions, inconsistency, inconstancy and hypocrisy being the rule rather than the exception.  It’s a wonder we’ve survived, at least until now.  In the future, the forces of evolutionary and social entropy may impose a convergence of our most treasured spiritual values with those of nature and render us once again no more but no less than animals, mere cogs in nature’s unplanned plans, reacting rather than planning, thinking and aspiring.  Herded rather than herding.  Perhaps that’s why so many within the metaphorical societal cancer with which I began this diatribe only sense the need to destroy who and what we’ve been without a firm and coherent idea of who or what we should or will become.  And perhaps its nature’s will that they prevail. 

Perhaps trying to make sense of and alleviate our current polarization is a counterproductive exercise and we should just sit back and let the experience flow over us, slumbering into the future while forgetting the past until neither is relevant and only a brief now exists.  Perhaps that’s the most logical way to face our own extinction, letting bygones be bygones, releasing our inhibitions as we fade away in shades of gray.  The favorite color of the stones we’re destined to join in our planet’s journey towards eternity and humanity’s demise.  It’s been an interesting ride but perhaps all things really must end and who are we to think otherwise. 

On the other hand, perhaps as a species we really are special, and unique, and perhaps there’s a purpose to our lives, and perhaps values are real and truth exists, and perhaps there’s a reason for what we experience, and perhaps its’s even a benevolent reason.  After all, at the crossroads of infinity and eternity, anything and everything is possible.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Only Beans Count

The 2021 Yankees made clear to me what many others already knew, and which I certainly suspected.  Most winners in sports have soul, it’s more than a mere business, and leadership starts, … well; that’s a good question.  Since the end of the Georgian era in Yankees baseball the Yankees have been led through a lowest common denominator leadership style, one where rather than use subjective factors to make decisions (instincts, hunches, a sense of fairness), only objective criteria matter, objective in the sense that decisions are pretty much automatic.  No extensions, self-imposed spending caps, and analytics, even if those charged with using them don’t really understand them. 

While the Yankees in the post Georgian era have been full of stars on the field, or at least former stars, management has sought to shift the spotlight unto its own, principally onto near-do-well general manager Brian Cashman, a man who apparently seeks to steal the spotlight while micromanaging Yankees coaches, Yankees coaches top to bottom whose primary attribute is obedience; yes men for the most part.  And it renders on the field talent less than potent, it ruins intriguing talent arriving from the minor leagues.  The mania for waiting out opposing pitchers by taking pitches is maddening, disheartening, depressing and de-energizing. 

Cashman’s strategy, supported whole heartedly by a managing general partner too timid to do anything but count beans, seems to be to field a team almost good enough to succeed, one that can be defended in the media so that memorabilia and brand products continue to sell, but not one with real heart.  Not that another World Series pennant wouldn’t be welcome, only that notwithstanding the slogans, it is not really the ultimate goal, at least for the team’s administrators.  And that attitude breaks and demoralizes the players, who, frustrated by the absence of real leadership, underperform. 

Cashman is the antithesis of George Steinbrenner and Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neil and David Cone and Jorge Posada and Andy Pettit and Mariano River, etc., the men Gorge led to championship after championship.  And son Hal, who deprecates his father’s style, is the poster boy for happy mediocrity.  Failure doesn’t really bother him and it certainly doesn’t bother Brian.  Aaron Boone is their ideal manager.  But the Yankees, to many of us, are much more than this team, much more than the mediocre product of the Hal and Brian era.  They are a long chain akin to the long grey lines at the Citadel and VMI and West Point, where pride and tradition and a special ethic keep generating a very special product.

They represent a spirit we love where Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio and Mantle and Berra and Ford and so many, many others watch over their successors demanding that once pinstripes are donned, the best the players wearing ever had becomes the norm.  But Hal and Brian and now Aaron Boone have managed to dampen that energy for every year in this millennium but one.  And apparently, given Hal’s indifference, there’s nothing to be done. 

What a shame!!!  But then, shame has no impact on them, only beans count.

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Tenebrously Yours

Somewhere, some-when, someone whom I’ve never met and will probably never meet understands me, shares my values and has aspirations that coincide with mine, knows that I exist without having any idea of who I am and knowing that, derives support from me and I from him or her.  Because of that, neither of us is ever alone, is ever without an ally when times are bleak.  Neither time nor space are barriers because the connection is as ephemeral as it is ubiquitous.  It just is, and being, creates a bond that may well transcend that with those we most love and most trust in our more immediate lives.  It is what I understand Freud meant when he wrote, “in darker days there lived a man who thought as you did”.  A source of solace when one most needs it.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Just Wondering on a Morning in Late October

He wondered what color “clean slates” were and just how clean most of them were, and just where one might acquire a “clean slate”?  Evidently there was a huge market in “fake clean slates”, but where could one find a real one, a legitimately “clean” slate.  And then he wondered whether it was possible to actually keep a clean slate, once acquired, clean.  Probably not, he decided, possibly impossible, which explained why they were so hard to find.  A used market in clean slates seemed oxymoronic, or perhaps just moronic.  If at all, one had to make them oneself.  But out of what he wondered?  Then he wondered if any enterprising self-help guru had ever written a treatise on the construction, care and maintenance of clean slates. 

Hmmm, there were self-help books on just about anything so why not this he wondered.  Of course, most self-help books were little more than dribble: aphorisms mixed with clichés and old wives tails in pretty packages.  He recalled the only honest self-help book he’d ever read, a tiny pamphlet really, one page long; actually, one conclusory sentence without much of a preface and absolutely no afterword.  He wondered if a pamphlet, as a literary form or genre, could be that short.  It dealt with the easiest way the author knew of to make a fortune.  His answer was: to write and successfully market a self-help book on the “Easiest Way to Make a Fortune”.  Whether or not it had any validity was of course irrelevant, which was the essential nature of self-help books.  So, … about clean slates?

Tabulas razas he supposed.

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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.