Do as I Say, Not as I Do

“Do as I say, not as I do”, an old parental refrain we kids hated.  I assume kids still do although they seem so much different than we were.  Of course, Plato made the same refrain two and a half millennia ago.

It’s a pretty day high in the central range of the Colombian Andes from which I view ugly developments far way, but which may all too soon impact us all.  The situation today is not the result of sudden, unpredictable events.  Rather, it’s as though the Trojan seeress Cassandra had returned to once again prophecy while no one cared or listened.  The mad leading the mad to our mutual perdition.  Kind of like what Simon and Garfunkel described when they recorded Ian Campbell’s desperately beautiful but horribly sad song, “The Sun is Burning”:

The sun is burning in the sky; strands of clouds go slowly drifting by; in the park the lazy bees are joining in the flowers among the trees; and the sun burns in the sky. 

Now the sun is in the West; little kids go home to take their rest; and the couples in the park are holding hands and waiting for the dark.  And the sun is in the West. 

Now the sun is sinking low; children playing know it’s time to go.  High above a spot appears, a little blossom blooms and then draws near.  And the sun is sinking low.

Now the sun has come to earth.  Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death.  Death comes in a blinding flash of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash.  And the sun has come to earth.

Now the sun has disappeared.  All is darkness, anger, pain and fear. Twisted sightless wrecks of men go groping on their knees and cry in pain.  And the sun has disappeared

Since the overthrow of progressives and liberals in the Democratic Party as a result of the Clinton coup of 1992, and the resulting consolidation of the neoconservative-neoliberal Deep State in the United States, the European Union and NATO (now spread substantially outside of its original borders and actively engaged in offensive rather than defensive operations), a number of countries have been dismembered by that unholy alliance.  They include Palestine, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria, while others have been invaded and conquered totally (Iraq and Afghanistan), at least temporarily.  In the case of both Iraq and Afghanistan, involuntary dismemberment were seriously considered.  In addition, the Soviet Union was, of course, dismembered, but with a promise that NATO would not move in to fill the vacuum, a vacuous promise.  Each such disaster involved serious violations of international law, which was shown to be little more than an aspiration and the United Nations Charter just an illusion. 

The shoe now seems snuggly ensconced on the other foot, something totally predictable based on the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” school of geopolitics.

One wonders why it is almost always the Democratic Party in the United States that leads us into major wars (major characterized by tens of thousands of United States casualties):  World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam?  And also into other wars, wars that while to us may not seem major, to the countries we’ve destroyed are devastating, wars like the “interventions into Libya and Syria.  Not that they’re not backed by the GOP (although it is frequently the GOP that inherits the aftermath).  And that of course does not include countless coups throughout the Western Hemisphere, Middle East and Africa orchestrated by the boys from the “Company” (as some call the Central Intelligence Agency and its myriad progeny).  Today, it seems that we in what we call “the West” are being led by two stooges the Keystone Cops would not accept, the United States’ Joe Biden and the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson, but there are plenty of bit players in the European Union as well.  And of course, there’s the Ukraine’s own autocrat, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  On the other side sits Vladimir Putin, apparently holding all the cards and playing chess while Biden, Johnson et. al., play checkers.  And on the other side of the world, with another deck of cards at the ready, sits Xi Jinping.

This morning a close and admired friend and Citadel classmate posted a message on Facebook comparing the Russian recognition of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics to Hitler’s forays into formerly German territories lost as a result of the Entente’s victory in World War I, a resemblance which, as a very loyal member of the United States’ Democratic Party, he has not noted with respect to the comparable, earlier situations described above.  Of course, not all actions that bear some aspects in common are analogous.  Hmmm, unless maybe they are.

A bit of context:

The situation in the Ukraine did not start yesterday but rather in 2014 when the United States, the European Union and NATO orchestrate a coup d’état in the Ukraine, overthrowing a democratically elected pro-Russian president and installing a puppet government tied to their interests, ironically, in the name of democracy and the elimination of corruption.  If that was the goal, it’s been an utter failure.  Autocracy rather than democracy remains the rule in the Ukraine with opposition media shut down and opposition leaders imprisoned.  On the other hand (think sleight of hand) corruption, always endemic in the Ukraine, is at least now shared with the families of Western leaders (think Hunter Biden).  The 2014 Ukrainian coup d’état was rejected in the Crimea and in the eastern parts of the Ukraine bordering the Russian federation.  There, two regions declared independence, the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics.  After a plebiscite overwhelmingly in favor of union with the Russian Federation, the Crimea returned to the status it held prior to its administrative separation from Russia during the middle of the last century.  The situations in the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics, however, were not so easily resolved.

Until yesterday, the declarations of independence by the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics were not formally recognized anywhere.  One wonders what the United States’ founding fathers would think of that, especially Thomas Jefferson, author of the former British colonies’ declaration of independence.  The Russian Federation, until yesterday, insisted that the controversy be settled through negotiation and implementation of settlement proposals agreed to by the Ukraine and the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics in 2015 under the mediation of France, Germany and the Russian Federation, the so called Minsk Agreements.  However, rather than implementing such agreements (which called for a Ukrainian federation with autonomy for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions), Ukrainian government forces, supplemented by highly armed semi-independent anti-Russian militias, have occupied a majority of the disputed territories from which constant low key attacks have been continuously launched against the separatist forces and their civilian populations.  No military forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics have engaged in military activities outside the borders of such regions although they frequently exchange fire with occupying Ukrainian and militia forces.

During the current domestic political crisis being suffered by the administrations in power in the United States and the United Kingdom, Ukrainian forces and the related semi-independent anti-Russian militias have been reinforced with substantial military armaments through NATO, the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, and such armaments have been supplemented by a constant barrage of anti-Russian propaganda to the effect that the Russian Federation was about to invade and conquer the Ukraine and murder and imprison its anti-Russian leaders.  Apparently it was hoped that an international crisis could ameliorate the tenuous domestic political climate in both countries, and it certainly would not hurt Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron’s prospects in the pending French presidential election.  In the Ukraine itself, the situation was mare tenuous and confusing.  On the one hand, the Ukrainian government sought to distance itself from such propaganda, while on the other, the semi-independent anti-Russian militias fully bought into it and this past week dramatically increased their military activities against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics. 

The consequences have proven completely predictable.  Baiting the bear on a consistent basis and crying wolf incessantly led to a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The Russian Federation has, following in a very limited manner the example set by the United States and NATO in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics and entered into related mutual defense treaties.  Unlike NATO in the former Yugoslavia however, it is not bombarding Kiev and the other parts of the Ukraine, but that may occur in the not too distant future, depending on how carefully reactions are measured.  While the world’s financial markets are generally down, armament industry stocks and gold are flying high, as are oil futures.

The echoes of the summer of 2014 sound all too clearly and things may quickly spiral out of hand, especially given the stupidity and cupidity of the current power mad United States administration and its puppets in Europe.  There is a worst case scenario that I hope is improbable.  But as in the tumbling dominos of the myriad military alliances that characterized Europe at the beginning of the First World War (some secret and some open), our world presents a bizarre mirror image of that sad season.  One mostly orchestrated by the United States which continuously forms alliances and understanding with a large number of countries (against the wishes of most of their citizens) seeking to contain the Russian Federation and the Peoples’ Republic of China, such alliances now supplemented by de facto economic warfare through “economic sanctions” against a host of countries deemed “enemies”.  In addition to the two super powers referenced above, such “enemies” include the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.  It reminds me of a clumsy waiter trying to bring a huge pile of dishes to the kitchen, while snickering customers stretch their legs to try and trip her.  Only we’re the plates.

Prospects for another world war, to some extent, depend on a mirror image situation on the other side of the planet, the unresolved issue of the estranged Chinese province of Taiwan.  That issue is always threatening to blossom into an inferno, more so now that the United States deems the Peoples’ Republic as serious a threat to its economic primacy as the Russian Federation poses to hegemony in Europe, but it is only simmering at present.  That could change very quickly and that, in my opinion, depends on whether or not the Peoples’ Republic of China, the Russian Federation’s de facto ally, recognizes the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics and then, whether in retaliation, the United States and its allies recognize the independence of Taiwan.  That would almost certainly lead to an invasion of Taiwan by the Peoples’ Republic forcefully reintegrating Taiwan into the Chinese state, somewhat the opposite of what is occurring in the Ukraine.

One would assume Western leaders would not be so abysmally stupid as to make that scenario possible but the hubris of current leaders may be worse than that of Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas, H. H. Asquith, Raymond Poincaré and, of course, the duplicitous Woodrow Wilson. 

The situation in the Ukraine is regretful on many fronts, all instigated by the unholy alliance of the governments of the United States, the European Union and NATO (much to the detriment of their people and to the people of the Ukraine).  These include the 2014 Maiden Coup, the refusal of the Ukraine to implement the Minsk Agreements, the abuse of economic sanctions against the Russia Federation and other countries outlawed under the Charter of the United Nations, their constant penchant for foreign intervention and NATO’s disregard for promises made to the Soviet Union with respect to German unification and NATO expansion when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved.  They have brought us to the brink of disaster.  That is as obvious today as the then pending disaster should have been in the summer of 2014, but perhaps nothing was really learned from the War to End all Wars and its sequel, the Second World War, and its sequel, the Cold War, and its sequel, the War on Terror, and its sequel, the Second Cold War, other than perhaps, how to utterly and constantly distort the truth and to pervert journalism, and how to make trillions of dollars for the military industrial complex against which Ike warned us almost sixty-two years ago.

So, here we are, nervously listening to shoes dropping, geese berating ganders and immature adults crying wolf, as the world turns.  Not a very comfortable place in which to find ourselves.  “The Sun is Burning” is a beautiful song with horrifying lyrics.  The same year that it was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel, 1964, the Democratic Party’s National Committee, on behalf of the Lyndon Johnson presidential campaign, produced and played, on one occasion, a political advertisement perhaps inspired by that song, the so called daisy girl ad[1].  It featured a little girl playing with a daisy in a field, then suddenly consumed in a nuclear explosion.  The ad was massively successful and changed advertising history.  Unfortunately, it was utterly hypocritical as the Johnson administration shortly thereafter orchestrated the infamous Vietnam War. 

Perhaps it’s time to take Pete Seeger’s anthem, “When Will they ever Learn” (also known as “Where Have all the Flowers Gone) and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” seriously.  Perhaps it’s time to change the bellicose world order before we, as humans, are unable to change anything again.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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] See the following Wikipedia article on point at Daisy (advertisement) – Wikipedia.

Why Cats?

An Abominable Abrahamic Allegory

Not many knew where the Garden had been relocated, or when, or what for.  But a few did, a very few.  Of course, most people know why.  One “being” had been trapped there ever since, well, you know, ever since its gates had been locked and sealed.  On this particular day, the one there confined was having a very friendly chat (under the circumstances) with the only son of He who had restrained him.

The day was warm, with cooling zephyrs playing tag, but all the animals and fish and avians seem to have, at some point, disappeared.  The flora remained (for the most part) although not in the bright shades of green mixed with myriad colors it had once worn, now, yellows and browns seemed to predominate.  Flying insects on the other hand seemed omnipresent. 

One of the two there on this particular occasion, the Son, was lying on the grass with his back resting on the trunk of one of two enormous trees, each the focal point of concentric circles.  The other, the very first eupodophis, was resting in the branches of the other tree.  Neither tree bore any fruit although myth has it that in the past, things were otherwise. 

“Past”!  Perhaps that requires an explanation.  Time doesn’t exist in Divine realms, rather, everything that ever was, is or will be occurred simultaneously (which can be confusing).  So “past is really just a place in the Divine continuum.  The problem, however, is that without time there can be no motion, and without motion, how does one go from place to place, how does one find anything?  One can’t really move to get anywhere.  Not even to scratch an insect bite.  That may be why the Divine (who some call Dad and others the Big Guy, among other things) has non-Divine realms with other rules: “physics some call them”, others call them “magic.  But the Garden is a sort of halfway house set firmly amidst the battling shadows cast by Chaos and the echoes of Order.

Like most children (relatively and figuratively and perhaps even literally speaking), the Son (Nachash always called him Yesh although his name was Yeshua) was very curious and loved to visit and chat with the sole remaining denizen of the Garden, Nachash (sometimes referred to as the Serpent who could not be charmed).  Yesh especially enjoyed asking about his family, small though it was (just three, and one, the Spook, was not really corporeal, although every once in a great while, he or she, its gender was never really clear, liked to appear as a white dove).  Nachash was a primordial creature both in and out of time and had apparently been coexistent with various alleged demiurges so had quite a store of tales to tell.  For example: although Yesh referred to the Big Guy as “Dad” and knew him as YHWH, Nachash had once explained that he’d not always had a “name”.  For a time (which meant in the temporal realm), in dealing with his creations in the temporal realms, He’d played with the idea of calling himself “I am that which was before Alpha and will be after Omega”, but that seemed a bit long and tedious, and anyway, on one particularly annoying occasion, when he’d been asked for his name repeatedly and insistently by an impudent nebbish, He’d blurted out, in anger, to stifle further inquiry, “I am who I am”, and the foolish male biped who’d been nagging him and who had a very limited vocabulary just assumed that was a name.  “YHWH” (יהוה pronounced yodh, he, waw, and he) in his primitive linear language, and so YHWH it became, but that purported name was never to be pronounced for some unfathomable reason, something about a ‘Tetragrammaton’.  How confusing is that?”

Nachash recalled that someone had once written a somewhat sacrilegious and hence fun ditty that YHWH for some reason found amusing.  It ran something like “I am what I am and that’s all that I am”.  Then went on to deal with something to do with semen (or seaman) and spinach.  Olive oil was in there too somewhere.  Hmm, semen and olive oil sounds sort of kinky.  Why the Big Guy unexpectedly found the whole thing amusing is curious but with Him one could never tell, … which is the way He liked it.

Anyway …

On this particular morning Yesh was wondering why the two trees he and Nachash were sort of occupying no longer bore any fruit, or for that matter, any leaves.  Just an enormous quantity of interlocking branches heavy with thorns.

“Funny story there” said Nachash.  It has to do with the aftermath of the saga of Adam, Eve and the apple.  I get a very bum rap there.  Your Dad decided that incident involved an experiment he’d rather not repeat and thus, except for me and a few guys guarding the gate, this Garden has been virtually abandoned for ages upon ages, thus, … no gardeners.

“Yeah, I’ve heard ‘that’ story a gazillion times, but never understood the thing about the apple, … Why an apple”?  “Why was the whole thing such a big deal anyway?”

“Ahhhh, uttered Nachash, “there lies a tale” (albeit not a tail).

A semidry stream of sorts waddled lazily nearby and Nachash wondered if he could somehow manipulate Yesh into turning some of it into wine, but, the water was pretty fetid.  Plus it was hard to get Yesh to do anything that wasn´t his own idea.  Still, … maybe later.

“Actually”, continued Nachash, “it wasn’t the big deal those stupid supposed seers who keep claiming that they’d written the revealed word of He whose name may not be uttered, claimed that it was.  Like most everything they said (and which was later mangled in transcription and translation), it was either the result of too much fermented fruit juice or else, just highly ‘creative’ writing to justify the ineffably unjustifiable.  But then, I’m a victim of their exaggeration so may not be totally objective. 

“It just started out as a wager.”

“The Big Guy loves to gamble but hates to lose; and He has a temper, oy vey iz mir, does He have a temper!  Ask the Edomites or the Sodomites (if you can find any; which you can’t), or the Gomorrahites.  Why is there so little made of the Gomorrahites nowadays?  Sodomy has made a big comeback lately but I don’t know of anything associated with Gomorrah.”

“Or the Nephilim” noted Yesh.  Or poor Lot!  I know, I know”.

“Yeah, poor Lot!  Another series of wagers we made.  He won the first part but He always seems to lose when it comes to women and curiosity.  Poor Ado, and after she put up with so much crap while the Big Guy and I were betting on whether or not Lot was really a straight up sort of guy.  I don’t think He’s ever really understood women.  I remember Lilith.  Man did she ever piss Him off!”

“Anyway, about apples, they’ve always been trouble when women are involved” observed Nachash, “look at what happened to that schmuck Paris in Asia Minor”.

“That wasn’t us though” noted Yesh, “Dad had nothing to do with that.  Eris and Apollo orchestrated that little “incident” and because Cassandra wouldn’t, … you know, … accommodate Apollo, he’d added a bit of oil to the fire.  Ten years and then, those jokes about the stuffed horse: ‘the gift that kept on giving’ (at least briefly); and then, ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’.”

“Yeah, .. accommodate, good choice of words Yesh.  Apollo can be a schmuck when he doesn’t get his way.  Hmmm, so, … speaking of accommodations, any truth to the rumors of you and that chick from Magdala?”

Yesh blushed and didn’t answer, at least not right away.  Then he explained that “Miriam was really into salted fish, her Dad’s business I think.  I really disliked the smell, it reminded me too much of Ado, so, … no, and anyway, you know, my “immanence” and all that didn’t exactly give us much hope for a future together.”

Nachash and Yesh grew quiet, both seemingly daydreaming, recalling things that had yet to happen, time being somewhat confusing and confused in the Garden.  After a while Nachash stirred and asked:  “So what did you do to get the Big Guy so damned pissed at you?  You don’t gamble do you?  I know you drink and like card tricks and prestidigitation, but ….?  I thought you knew better than to ‘cross’ Him (pardon the pun).”

“Not sure” answered Yesh.  Probably a generational thing.  He sent me down to the temporal realm; you know, to get the lay of the land but without ever getting laid, and to report back to him on my impressions.  Boy did I get impressed, all over my head, in my hands, on my feet, in my ribs.  He did not care for my reports, not at all.”

“I thought he was a bit too much of a stickler for rules that didn’t make any sense.  I mean, … no lobster?  He especially hated my emphasis on forgiveness and turning the other cheek rather than poking out someone’s eyes.  He might have been happier with Moe, Larry and Curly as his progeny.  But anyway, after three Hellish days, we were cool.”

“Yeah, he has a soft spot for you!  Not for me though.  Look at what he’s done to my limbs; and you know what happened to Luci and his friends, and to poor Cain and his parents.  And to the predeluvianites.”

“Luci” …, murmured Nachash ruminating.  You know, when Luci was reassigned to the role of Shaitan after the unpleasant episode upstairs he became the very first lawyer, the prototype, the archetype as old Joe Campbell will one day say.  Talk about curses all around!  The King of loopholes, the Prince of Lies but who never quite lies himself.  He doesn’t have to; he just confuses the Hell out of everyone.  Kind of like a politician.”

Yesh nodded, agreeing, but noticed that his stomach was rumbling.  He was apparently a bit hungry but knew better that to seek anything to eat in the Garden.  Anyway, he was enjoying the conversation, it was filling in some holes in his memory, or perhaps things he’d never understood, or perhaps, things he’d never known despite his derivative blend of omniscience and prescience.  Or perhaps it was all just a load of, … fascinating fiction.

Anyway (again) ….

“Did Luci have anything to do with that thing with the apples and the trees” he asked Nachash?  I was pretty young back then (comparatively speaking), and mainly hung around with the Spook.  Dad was distant in those timeless days, but then, that’s always been his nature, notwithstanding his omnipresence.  He and that fellow who keeps track of things for St. Nick.

“Oh yeah” replied Nachash, “the Yule voyeur.” 

“Better not to get into that, it makes me squeamish” observed Yesh (surreptitiously glancing around).  “So, how did the two of you get into gaming anyway?  I assume there were rules blocking some of Dad’s divine attributes.”

“Well, first of all, Luci was just learning the ropes way back then so he wasn’t involved, although he did play an indirect role.  And yes, your Dad promised to suspend both omniscience and omnipresence.  Of course, I had to rely on His good faith and the fact that His supposed omnibenevolence would keep him from cheating.  Anyway, the Big Guy had done a pretty thorough job evicting Luci and his friends, and the celestial havens were sort of void.  Not that He noticed.  He was entranced with His new toys, well, at least after he’d replaced Lilith with Eve.  He was sure He’d finally gotten everything under control and seemed to have gotten over that debacle with Luci.  I just wanted to make things interesting.  Things were boring with most of the fun guys gone.  So I bet the Big Guy that His new toys wouldn`t be able to resist His ‘you can have anything but some fruit or other but I won’t tell you why’ gambit.  You know Him better than anyone, which may not be saying much.  I think He’s also omni-inscrutable.  But despite all of his power, He has some blind spots, one being that He can’t conceive that He doesn’t always have total control over everything.”

“Well maybe except for cats,” observed Yesh.  “He likes cats even if they refuse to acknowledge Him.  Free will he calls it, … but only for cats.  That’s what humans have never understood.”

“Man was He pissed when he lost” laughed Nachash, “He wasn’t supposed to take it out on me but He did, even if He claimed it was just evolution at work.  You know He doesn’t really believe in evolution, He calls it ‘intelligent design’, rules don’t apply to Him, no matter what old Noah believes.

“But why cats” wondered Yesh? “And apples.”

Grinning, Nachash added “why not bananas or mushrooms or cucumbers?”

Yesh didn’t get it.  After all, his conception had been immaculate.  As he left, Yesh could hear Nachash softly singing: something that sounded like “… blasphemy, is getting the best of me, there goes my eyeball, into a highball, …” to the tune of a song that would someday be entitled, Jealousy.
_________

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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.

Of Happy Days, Intellectual Property and Real Choices

As we watch endless reruns on cable, I wonder how they’re selected.  The choices get worse every year.  For some time, television for me has been pretty much limited to news and sports, well, what passes for “news” and after the recent NFL Pro Bowl, something all too similar is happening to sports.  Perhaps this is how “dark ages” start.

Of course, our travails with entertainment are the least of our problems.  Today’s problems seem not only existentially dangerous but seemingly irresolvable.  Plato thought pretty much the same two and a half millennia ago.  “The more things change, the more they stay the same”, but do they have to?  Let’s start on a light and superficial note, but one that illustrates our quandary.

To many of us, today’s television programs and movies are insipid, politically motivated, politically correct drivel, but, omnipresent insipid, politically motivated, politically correct drivel.  Choice, other than abstention, is pretty much non-existent despite the vast quantities of great material produced during the second half of the 20th century.  How many of us would love to binge watch “All in the Family” or “Sanford & Son” or “Welcome Back Kotter” or “Different Strokes” or “Happy Days” or “Whats Happening” or “WKRP in Cincinnati” or “The Jeffersons” or “Night Court” or “Julia” or “The Wonder Years” or “The Jamie Fox Show” or “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” or “Martin”?  And going back even further, “The Ozzie and Harriet Show” or “I love Lucy” or “Amos and Andy” or “Father Knows Best” or “My Three Sons”.  The examples are legion!

Admittedly, sitcoms are not a high art form but the programs cited and many others were entertaining and a relief from the stress of daily life rather than superficially disguised demands that we criticize ourselves and our ancestors into oblivion for not having been born perfect.  Damn Eve and her apples (hmmm, that may be resundant)!  We enjoyed those old sitcoms and would enjoy them still, if we could, if they were available.  But as in politics, our choices are all too few; filtered for us for incomprehensible purposes other than that perhaps, entertainment is not about our own preferences but an effective behavioral means of manipulation.  Initially to sell products but now, for social control.

A primary tool for the exercise of social as well as economic and political control is the abuse of intellectual property rights.  The concept of intellectual property is sound (albeit ironically totally contrary to capitalist theory).  Its purported goal is to reward creators for their efforts and thus incentivize innovation.  Of course, the “benefits generally go to investors and corporate executives rather than to creators.  In any event, the “warehousing” of intellectual property, whether in the field of entertainment or other fields (such as technology, energy, transportation, etc.) has exactly the opposite effect.  Indeed, the abuse of intellectual property rights forces consumers to acquire inferior products at inflated prices, all too frequently designed for accelerated obsolescence.

How can something so antisocial exist in a democracy?

Well, the truth is that it couldn’t, and there’s the rub. 

The concept of democracy (like the concept of capitalism where the market purportedly makes the decisions) is a ruse and exists in name only.  It is no more than a way to placate us and to fool us into thinking that we have control over our own lives when, to an objective observer, it would be obvious that we don’t.  Just as government supported monopolies deprive us of choice in all markets, political parties (political monopolies) filter out the leaders we deserve and would chose if given the chance at least as efficiently as do autocratic dictatorships, something a student in a Comparative Politics class I taught once pointed out to me when we were covering governance in contemporary Iran.  Constitutions should be the vehicles that resolve the tensions between liberty, democracy and minority rights but instead, they create the organic anomalies that protect the ability of elites to govern us all, as though they possessed Sauron’s One Ring. 

Perhaps they do.  I can almost hear the echoes of “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them; in the Land of Mordor where the shadows lie.”

How is it that nowhere (other than perhaps tiny Iceland and once upon a short time ago, some of the Nordic countries) is there a country where the citizenry takes its political obligations (not political rights) seriously enough to have a serious shot at attaining (rather than fruitlessly pursuing) happiness?  How is it that being able to control the right of others to make their own decisions became a higher priority for us collectively than enjoying our individual autonomy?  Is there no way out of the incoherent social mess we’ve permitted others to force us to endure?

Strange that the foregoing is so aptly illustrated by the entertainment we watch, not having a viable option to enjoy the entertainment we would prefer, had we the option.  The reality is that there are numerous answers to all the socioeconomic problems that we face: to inequity, inequality, injustice, impunity, poverty, etc., had we the collective will to demand their selection and to participate in their implementation.  Instead, we seemingly live in a world as controlled and manipulated as the one presented in the Matrix series of movies; and most of us know it, at least most of the time.  Unfortunately we tend to forget all semblance of reality during electoral cycles when most of us apparently lose our collective minds under an avalanche of electoral posters, electoral ads and dire warnings of existentially greater evils.  And we do so time after time after time, ad nauseaum

If only the fury and disdain for our political, social and economic leaders that we feel during the years in which elections are not held could be preserved, then we could make make a difference, ….

We do have effective options, elections may be one, although there are serious doubts as to whether legitimate elections are still a viable option, but there are always mass boycotts.  Boycotts of all products sold directly and indirectly by mass media advertisers, whether in print, through social media, on television, etc.  Interestingly, in response to a question from a former student as to how to identify corrupt politicians during an electoral cycle I replied that those with the most posters and most commercials were in all likely hood, the most corrupt.  The same seems true of most advertisers.  How much more productive would it be for us, and for our communities if we prioritized local purchasing from family businesses?

Ahhh …. Oh Happy Days!
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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.

Reflections on our Tortured Political Realities

It’s 2022.  February. 

The world is (as has come to be the norm) on the brink of war, with many small conflagrations keeping munitions industry investors busy counting their profits.  Massive demonstrations lauded by the corporate media from January of 2017 until January of 2021 are now anathema, despicable and unjustifiable traitorous insurrections.  Those who believe that abortion is a right because our bodies are ours to do with as we will now demand that others consume medications they oppose, … well, just because.  Political incoherence reigns; truth is irrelevant, hypocrisy has become an art form.  In the United States we are more polarized than at any time since the Civil War.  The Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” is clearly in place.

But: … who are we and how did we get where we find ourselves?  Who or what is responsible?  How likely are we to survive as a civil society?

A fundamental analysis may be a good place to start answering these existential questions.  As a political analyst, writer, academic and historian, it seems to me that a starting point is exploring the fundamental philosophical tensions that impact our sociopolitical decision making process and that starts with the dual nature each of us shares: we are both individuals and members of concentric rings of collectives, and the stress we place on one or the other of such natures is a dividing point.  It seems obvious that reconciliation of both aspects of our nature, when possible, is the best policy.  Both our autonomy as individuals and the collaboration required to participate in groups need to be respected in order for collaborative concepts such as the economy, the family, government, religion, education, etc. to function.  But what happens when one or the other aspects of our nature conflict in a manner that cannot be resolved and one has to be prioritized over the other?

To collectivists on what has arbitrarily come to be defined as the left wing of the political spectrum, as the fictional character Spock noted, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few); individualists on the right disagree by favoring individual rights.  Of course, there are those who react rather than philosophize and to whom logical consistency is irrelevant.  Some of those can be classified as a center comprised of a conglomeration of the apathetic and those who have no fixed values but are conflict averse (a good thing).  Unfortunately; a dangerous second group, a tiny minority, is comprised of a non-ideological but immensely powerful social cancer that has come to be referred to as a Deep State. 

One form of Deep State or another exists everywhere and has probably always existed.  There is a political theory that posits that humans are always ruled by an elite minority.  Elite theory is superficially dealt with in Wikipedia where, in very general terms, it is defined as: “… a theory of the state that … posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power—and that this power is independent of democratic elections.”  As with most articles in Wikipedia, it is subject to manipulation and its accuracy is not assured, but as a broad outline and starting point for research, it is at least adequate.  In essence, Elite Theory claims that democracy is at best an illusion and a tool used by elites to manipulate the vast majority into actions of benefit primarily to the small group of dedicated individuals, families and professions who have attained and will not relinquish economic, social and political power.  That certainly seems to the society in which we find ourselves; however, because it is so one sided that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is increasing exponentially (see Piketty, Tomas [2013, English translation 2014], “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674430006), a populist counter reaction has been building and had a very direct impact on the United States presidential election in 2016, from both the left (the Democratic Party’s so called Sanderistas) and on the right (the GOP’s Tea Party).  The right wing populist victory threw the Deep State into a panic, forcing it to reveal itself in order to stage a “soft coup” with the assistance of the Democratic Party, traditionalist Republicans, the corporate media and the newly emergent elite controlled social media platforms, and to impose authoritarian methods in the United States and elsewhere, including large scale censorship in order to prevent a recurrence.  Left wing populists, led, in the Democratic Party by Tulsi Gabbard, were successfully contained with the assistance of perceived populist leaders like Bernie sanders and Elizabeth Warren who proved all too willing to work with Deep State elites to derail their own populist revolt.

With the essential assistance of the corporate media and social media platform censorship, Deep State elitists were able to manipulate the Covid 19 pandemic to assume unprecedented control by strategically sabotaging the world economy through socioeconomic lockdowns and medical mandates as well as by divisive social polarization that set the population to bickering over historical events rather than populist solutions to current socioeconomic crises, with race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and religion all used to distract the electorate while concurrently, protecting elite investments in the profitable armaments industry by aggravating international tensions keeping the world on the brink of war, both is a series of local conflicts and the threat of major power nuclear confrontation.  But right wing populist resistance, overcome in the United States through media control and electoral gimmicks during the 2018 and 2020 elections, seems to have recovered enough to significantly impact United States congressional elections set for November of this year.  Left wing populists, on the other hand, with the exception of followers of Tulsi Gabbard and perhaps Dennis Kucinich, seem quiescent, and are being driven by elitist manipulation into support of the Deep State, of censorship and of restraints on civil liberties, all policies which they have traditionally opposed and abhorred.  They are now the “woke”, Cancel Culture warriors, the thought police of whom George Orwell wrote in the late 1940s.  Ironically, the elites’ best friends.

It remains to be seen whether those on the “center” will prove as gullible as those on the populist left, as gullible as Abraham Lincoln once noted when he reflected that “you can fool all of the People some of the time and some of the People all of the time” or, whether even the apathetic center is fed up enough to bring the third part of that quotation into play: “but you can’t fool all of the People all of the time”.

It is interesting that right wing and left wing populists, while disagreeing as to policies, have a great deal in common and have usually been able to coexist, with the assistance of the apathetic and disinterested center.  But not now, not today.  Not when orchestrated polarization by Deep State elites have manipulated them into dysfunction through use of illusory issues, especially abortion and gun control now supplemented by racism, xenophobia and misogyny, issues not meant to be solved but rather, exacerbated for fun and profit.  That is where we stand today, a day in February 2022. 

Assuming that the electoral process has not been completely compromised through legislation and rules designed to facilitate electoral fraud, perhaps we may once again catch a glimpse of a populist wave this November.  Unfortunately, one thing seems sure, elitist Deep Staters will not just sit back and watch, and in the long term, their faith in the usual disinterest of the vast majority of the citizenry in political matters which keeps them from participating as candidates and from even voting, is likely to return the elites to power (should it again be temporarily wrested from them), keeping the rest of us in chains, sometimes velvet but all too often in shades of stainless steel. 

Exactly what happened with the socioeconomic revolts in 1776, 1789, 1848 and of course, in the nineteen-sixties!

Most children have beautiful smiles, at least until they are taught to hate.  I wonder what kind of people the children born since 2019 will grow into given that hate has been converted into a virtue, given that they have experienced their socially formative years, in large part, in politically imposed isolation, with education limited, with playgrounds closed?

Children tend to be resilient, after all, they survive, even in Yemen and Afghanistan, at least if they’re not killed by drones.  Will humankind perhaps have learned that calumny and ridicule and censorship do not change hearts, by the time they’re grown?
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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

Unrequiteable

The unique resonance one soul feels for another now tinged with pain. 

A strange blend. 

Not altogether unpleasant. 

Perhaps like shadows and light or sweet and sour, or the odor of perspiration during intimacy, but distant, unattainable, as though alpha was enamored of omega, infinitely apart yet only a shadow away. 

A romance that never really started but whose echoes can never end.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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.

Of Circles and Singularities and Love and Life

Circles, in some aspects, seem the perfect shape, but they also represent closed systems, at least when considered alone.  Spheres add dimension.  And groups of spheres, almost infinite groups of spheres, well that is a very different thing.  Groups of spheres seem to surround us, from micro, sub atomic structures to the shapes of ever expanding universes.  We humans, and perhaps other biological entities, seem trapped in the middle, although, the gift of volition would seem to impact the concept of a closed system, a flaw in the predestination that geometry and mathematics and physics seem to imply.  It is interesting to speculate on whether or not there was any volition inherent in the transition from singularity into everything which eventually evolved.  That might, to some extent, explain the imperfections in that first great conflagration.  Of course, that could imply a demiurge and, to be honest, demiurges are currently out of fashion.

Circes are symbols as well as archetypes, especially when configured in groups.  And while the potential configuration of circles is infinite the classification of their configurations are not.  They can be singularities (theoretically), solitary circles, groups of solitaries, concentric, overlapping, intersecting, and combinations of the foregoing.  As combinations they represent the fascinating possibilities inherent in chaos where all that can be, “is”, and is simultaneously notwithstanding inherent contradictions.

As archetypes, concentric circles represent hierarchies, authoritarian systems, each level encompassing a prior level around a singularity in the middle.  Overlapping circles represent interactions among some groups of circles without a hierarchy and without a centric singularity, and, intersecting circles represent interaction among all members of a group, without a hierarchy but with a common nucleus: circles interacting around a central axis with a portion of their circumferences overlaying, generating a small shared area, one that they occupy in common while the rest reflects a sort of independence.  The latter variant represents very special things to me on a number of levels.  The ideal blend of intimacy and independence in intimate interpersonal relationships, or the ideal relationship among social groups with shared values but also, with treasured differences; the antithesis of the revered melting pot concept much more accurately reflecting the ideal in a multicultural society and a multinational state.  No one’s values superimposed over those of others even as important values are shared.

Ideals are such frustrating things though, they posit idealized solutions to intractable problems: unstoppable forces crashing into immovable objects, but with the hope that faith can indeed move mountains.  Somewhere in chaos, in the multiverse posited by the variant of string theory that encompasses eleven, rather than ten dimensions, where everything that can happen happens somewhere or some-when, idealized solutions function but not here, not now.

It is very sad that in today’s polarized world where purported progressives have exchanged almost all of their values in a quest for perpetual power, the balance in my vision of intersecting circles is being brutalized and the quest for individuality, for harmonious liberty, for tolerance and mutual respect is being savaged.  It’s as though an intellectual pandemic infected many of the people who once shared my values and my goals and turned them into negative mirror images of what they once were.  Inexplicably, at least to me, metaphorically their quest seems to involve converting intersecting circles into concentric circles, and then, into singularities, reversing the tolerance-for-difference humankind once seemed determined to attain into Orwellian conformism.

I recall the hope and love inherent during the chaotic nineteen-sixties, a blend of incoherent emotions demanding change, demanding an end to bellicosity at every level; and end to war; an end to racism, xenophobia and misogyny; an end to intolerance; an end to inequity and injustice, but endings to be attained through empathy and love rather than conflict, conquest and suppression.  We lost our way though, and flower children became politicians and entrepreneurs and journalists, and instead of great writers, many became great publicists, enamored with the apparent magic of the tools behavioral psychology made available, tools that, like the mythical philosopher’s stone, permitted almost total manipulation of feelings and beliefs.  And truth became irrelevant, a merely relative concept; and rhetoric became a divinity at whose feet, amidst the sounds of silence, we became that against which we once railed.

As we changed we propagated and, under the leadership and guidance of many us who for diverse reasons, like Luke Skywalker, aka Darth Vader turned to the dark side, much of our progeny became more and more incoherent, incongruent, vitriolic, violent and intolerant.  Slogans replaced goals and to them, the changes in the present we so need, required that the historical past be destroyed and replaced: in essence, that our historical mirrors be exchanged for discordant pseudo-art: visual as well as vocal, cinematographic, etc.  To them, censorship, rather than the evil we once believed it to be, ought to be imposed in the name of security from discordant opinions, as though rather than the music of the orbs, only a single unending, unwavering, invariable note should be permitted to exist, and that what it lacked in terms of diversity, should be replaced with volume.

In essence, in this temporal instant, in this corner of the multiverse, we are experiencing a battle of discordant circular configurations, perhaps a battle between the armies of chaos (intersecting and overlapping circles, the good guys) and the armies of the concentric circles seeking the singularity we once were, singularity which provides security through the absence of choices and the absence of opinions but which, in the end, crushes us all.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; 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.