The power of words to form and formulate the ideas by which we humans see the world with the taxonomy of our concepts can be disregarded in the same way bad eyesight can be left uncorrected. But the absurdity of the latter in a techno-affluent culture is so patent, even schools now require the regular testing and correction of children’s eyesight. But who tests humans’ mindsight? And who corrects their astigmatism?
Here’s an example of the contemporary pervasiveness of words and their unavoidably persuasive meanings. I say unavoidable because words are like germs. They’re everywhere. And then there’s your verbal immune system — your mind — which is activated and inoculated by exposure to thinking the world.
My father in law recently flipped me his latest copy of a magazine called “Money.” You’ll notice that the magazine isn’t called “Labor Value.” Thus its advice on savings, investment, and retirement techniques doesn’t include the following “value-able” workers’ maxims:
- Always postpone retirement plans for one more year.
- Don’t speculate in foreign currencies acquired from tourists.
- When on outings or vacation, don’t take photos of grandchildren near government facilities.
- Don’t stop to rest on park benches on the way home from parties after midnight in the middle of winter.
This issue of “Money” contains a feature article entitled “The Smartest, Most Interesting Thing Every U.S. President ever said about Money.” The graphics are ridiculous, but the remarks are interesting.
For example, Obama’s “observations” are appropriately socialistic. According to Obama, neither “hero entrepreneurs, [n]or Jeffersonian planters” made or ever will make the American economy. Notice that not just Republicans, but Democrats don’t do anything! Well, then, who makes the economy? “The community.” The community makes America. And why not? “The community” sounds relaxed and happy like a city-wide block party. Think of those funky posters that portray cities as big outdoor happenings. And yet notice how, in current political English, “the community” doesn’t mean a dynamic civil society that’s catallactically formed of self-directing voluntarily organized active citizen individuals. By that standard, “community organizer” is socialist double talk, and “the community” is the euphemism for “the collective.” But “the community” is employed because “the collective” sounds like a place you don’t want to live in, or even visit. Or even fly over! They might shoot you down and hand you a hoe or sickle or something.
The Obama entry continues: “Obama went on to utter a less apt phrase: ‘If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.’” “Less apt” is journalistic politesse for “totally bogus.” Of course, the remark is pure Obama, and is straight out of a Marxist handbook for neighborhood “organization.” But notice that Marx wouldn’t say such a thing. With Marx as his own irresistible example of an idea entrepreneur, Marx appreciated self-directed eponymous work. And as I’ve noted before, revolutionaries are usually bourgeois. Their ambitions are bigger than merely becoming a billionaire. Castro sniffed at the acreage of the family estate. “Dad, really!” Castro wanted an entire country. Si! And Marx wanted the entire world, and history, too! Stimmt!
According to Obama’s street catechism, civilization is the work of the collective people, and private property is public theft. That includes private property of all kinds, even fame. Thus Beethoven didn’t write his symphonies. Vienna did. That’s why Beethoven moved there — to steal the music of the Viennese! Haydn was closer to the people, therefore he contentedly labored for the exploitative Esterhazy out in the sticks. Meanwhile, Mozart would never have done that. Mozart, who played for royalty, would never have consented to stoop so low having already lived so parasitically high. Thus he fled the archbishop’s service. Indeed, Mozart would never have written Mozart — I mean Wienerwolfl — in the boonies, agricultural or religious. Later Haydn had some advanced bourgeois luck, and wrote 12 symphonies for a capital crowd in London. Of course they’re his best symphonies. And so now let us salute the London theatre janitors of 1790 who made Haydn happen. Huzza! And I, too, was once a janitor. For philosophy. Huzza!
None of this is unexpected from our first socialist president. I say “first” socialist president because FDR was too balanced in complexity to be characterized by any one segment of the political spectrum. And his clan cousin, Teddy, was also ampler than a categorical name. Teddy was a hunter and a conservationist, a trust buster and a friend of business. Socialists get very bothered by Teddy’s “inconsistencies,” and call him a traitor to progress as well as other less polite names. Marx could likewise be accused of containing multitudes. Marx was no petty bourgeois revolutionary whose sense of happiness is a chapel despotism. Marx is ampler than a category. But Obama isn’t. Obama can be categorized.
And now listen to what “Money” says about Hoover. “Like many successful people, Hoover may have failed to appreciate how many of his accomplishments were due to tailwinds of favorable circumstances.” The article then goes on to say that Hoover did, however, feed millions after WWI. Huzza! But “Money” forgot to tell us these millions were Soviets starved by themselves. And “Money” also tells us that Hoover started jobs programs during the beginning of the Depression. Huzza! Of course, these programs, like Roosevelt’s, weren’t solutions, but additional problems when they weren’t temporary. A bandage is an admirable first treatment for a cut. But if it isn’t removed when the bleeding stops and the binding starts, the bandage becomes its own additional injury. And notice that Hoover was a Republican. But who would know that by reading “Money”? Nowhere in Hoover’s blurb is there mention of Hoover the engineer: Hoover who went to college, Hoover who earned his degree, Hoover who went to work, Hoover the professional self-made man who made millions as a dedicated and motivated hard-working technician-businessman who also wrote the classic on the great medieval German miners and their technology.
“Money’s” non-description of a businessman-president — a man who’d be a non-person in a socialist state — in fact fits in perfectly with Gramsci’s socialist drill: the one that Obama still pushes. If you can’t overthrow the economy from the outside, rot out the culture from within.
I understand that Obama now resides in Washington. When I was a child, as St. Paul once was, I was mystified that Lincoln was ceremoniously returned to Illinois to be interred. I’m sure Obama would prefer immortality in Washington — with an monument sufficiently significant to attract busloads of school children for socialist pilgrimage field trips. But even Obama probably wouldn’t want those post-apocalyptic Stonehenge piles that monumentalize FDR and his charming co-president, the wife. Actually, I suspect those ruins of being a dialectically unconscious crypto-Hayekian joke about the real productivity of the New Deal and its civilization advancement energies and insights.
But now that I’ve put my taxonomic toys away, I understand why Lincoln was removed from Washington even though he saved it. He was removed precisely because he had saved it! And he did so with the drama of a demigod! All the more reason to move him out.
The presidency is permanently located in Washington, but presidents are temps no matter how good they are. They come from the sovereign states from which they came and to which they shall return. Illini to Illini, Hoosier to Hoosier, Cheesehead to Cheesehead. Presidents aren’t kings — or dukes like the Medici — to be buried in rotundas for marble edification. The Medicis, though, did a swell job on their rotunda. Obama’s unrepublican and centrist action of “retiring” in Washington should be scorned with the ethical ostracism of the Republic’s public opinion until he corrects himself and resides in Illinois. Anything more than that — a Constitutional amendment — would be logistic overkill. Or so it would seem at the beginning.
Meanwhile, think about “Money’s” socialized category attitudes. If the devotees of the free market talk like the friends of socialism, imagine what socialists — especially frustrated socialists — think in their hearts: the righteously resentful will to revenge that fulminates there like a sacred flame! Such a disposition might be appropriate for a doom-and-joy religion, but it isn’t fit for the give-and-take of the Republic. The Republic flourishes on the basis of wins being taken with restrained satisfaction, and of losses being taken with grumbling grace.
Recall what happened in 2001 when Scalia (s)elected the president of the United States. And please notice that the preceding sentence is prophylactically isolated and sanitarily contained in a large number of quarantining quotation marks like the USSR was surrounded by American forces. The psycho-physiological result of the electoral procedure in 2001 at both the state and federal sovereign levels was some very urgent urine control difficulties. But there was no civil war, and there were no assassinations. The umpire made the call, and the game was over.
By the way, are comedic routines of the assassination of governmental officials during a war on terror appropriate freedom-of-speech expressions of ideas politically pertinent for the advancement of liberty in an open republic? I don’t see Lincoln, Wilson, or FDR allowing practice assassinations of themselves pro patria during their wars. Or is all of this just a euphemism, and do these 9/11 terrorist organizations actually consist of oppressed freedom fighters working for difference in diversity?
“The Jane Fonda Women’s Brigade for Universal Liberation is now accepting internationalists for world progress and human liberation. Explode into history now! Bring your burkas! Orthodoxy belts will be provided. Don’t hesitate. Join eternity today!”
In the old days of royalty, to utter an affront at the king’s person was lese majesty, a motion of the mouth that resulted in a very slow afternoon with a very skilled executioner while he slowly deconstructed your person. We don’t do that anymore. We don’t like displays of public gore. And we don’t like the social relations that entertain such displays.
Meanwhile, Trump could be accused of committing the complement or opposite of lese majesty. In his personal twitter attacks on journalists, Trump might be committing lese populus. Maybe he’s affronting the untouchables of the people’s body public. In contrast with Trump, Truman never personally responded to the endlessly ugly, incessantly vicious attacks on him. But Truman also didn’t run for re-election.
Here’s my thought on the twitter attacks. Or are they action tactics? No verbalization is neutral, especially in politics and metaphysics. Fly swatting is unbecoming of the office of the Presidency of the United States. But all Americans have a right to defend their lives, liberty, property — and their reputations. Hot golden showers with Russian honey traps? Really? It’d best if both sides of this present contention would chill out! But I don’t expect that of human nature in the forum of power. Humans are only power polite when they’ve been taught such grace and trained to it at work and play, and shamed when they’re rude. But socialists like Gramsci and Obama teach that shame is bourgeois. Shame is an oppression. Right. Shame is a power oppression of the poor, and a sexual oppression of the oppressors. Right. And squalor is beauty. Right. Therefore my first, best, and last thought today is this: “Play ball!” But I ain’t gonna watch such gladiatorial squalor. Actually, professional wrestling is the closer analogue with its moral choreography of dumb ritualistic moves.
Meanwhile, I find sports to be an exemplary model for the Republic. Of course, professional wrestling isn’t a sport. It’s a morality play with heroes and brutes instead of saints and satans.
Sports have rules. And the rules are enforced evenly — with obvious human error, some narrow wiggle room, and the occasional umpire pay-back. The players play hard. They play to win. And when they win, they say Huzza! as they bound off to the showers to prepare for the next contest. And when they lose, they say Ah-shucks! as they walk off to the showers where they say Awe shucks! more robustly in preparation for the next contest. To win is everything — within the limits of dignity and civilization. And anyone who plays savagely gets evicted from the game.
Elvira: Well, I’m glad that millionaire athletes aren’t allowed to be savages! They’re all such grunting and unrepentant sweaty hot ball artists anyways!
Mildred: Elvira, I thought “savage” was a bad word we’re not supposed to use anymore. It demeans the wild— I mean the noble— I mean— What do I mean, Elvira?
Elvira: Oh, Mildred, don’t be so last millennium! Savage means getting it how you want it. And I know how I want it. Tomahawked with love! Think of those cute little leather loin cloths!
Elvira: Mildred, we must confirm the facts of life, and then we must conform ourselves to them.
Mildred: Well, I never do! But that’s why I like you so much. Your choice of facts is always so — savage! There. I said it. See! But you won’t tell the minister?
Elvira: Or the Bureau of Indian Affairs?
Mildred: Oh, Elvira! I never know when you’re being serious.
And here’s something which my conversational friends, Mildred and Elvira — my Bouvard and Pecuchet without resentment — might have noticed but never observed. In the past, after the European overseas adventurers arrived, the missionaries followed. They did this to save the souls of savages — as they themselves would say, and to construct a cultural superstructure favorable to the power ecology of capitalism — as Marx would say. The West is presently in a structural post-religious period — as Nietzsche would say. Nietzsche recognized that already established fact back in the late 19th century.
But that doesn’t mean the missionaries and savages aren’t out there still. The savages are no longer natives with bows and arrows and buffalo robes and bones in their noses and pendulous breasts dangling to their waists. Therefore, the missionaries have changed accordingly. Just as anthropologists no longer study kinship hierarchies of the Kamtanbu but shanty life in Rio, so modern missionaries no longer wave crucifixes or Bibles around like talismans of eternity. They come with Peace Corps symbols and resources from AID. And they come to convert believers in the animistic past of shaman deities to the future synergies of the unlimted marketplace.
Of course, these monetized missionaries consider their spiritual patients to be people unjustly neglected or oppressed by history. And now they need to be helped to gain their freedom from the remnants of colonialism — just like the missionaries once thought they were saving souls to increase the rolls of heaven. Both views are right in superstructural ways. Meanwhile, you can see Marx grinning with the cunning of Hegelian understanding. For example, by “empowering” tribal women to have businesses their own — for example, authentic native crafts for global sale via the internet — these spiritually simple and secular missionaries are finishing the old colonialists’ brutal work, wiping out what’s left of native cultures with as much ruthless goodwill as the Christian missionaries ever worked with. Indeed, these social missionaries, who so often work with government money and who are “socially conscious,” have all the religiosity of Christianity because they’re actually socialist missionaries. Just peek in the rational processors of their self-perception. “Because freedom is the opposite of capitalism and rightly so, and because capitalism is evil, therefore we are good and just — and nice!” Meanwhile, they don’t know the world name of their righteous employer. As Hegel would say with a spiritual NSA update, their deep boss is history.
Someone might object, “But socialism really is the enemy of capitalism!” Really? Read the Manifesto! In 1848, capitalism is battering down the walls of all ancient civilizations, and it’s inducing all peoples to convert themselves to capitalism — like Japan soon did. Or it’s forcing them to be converted — like Russia, India, and China — with their various often violent resistances. According to Marx, socialism will inherent a totally westernized world, and then it will celebrate the universality of humanity in global liberation: into sameness. After all, that’s what international classlessness means! There’s only one world history and one last liberation! Marx himself would have recommended cultural museums for studies in the satisfaction of the advancement of history. The post-Marx socialists will erect them as crying rooms.
I was pleased to see you refer to Baby Charlie’s parents twice in the plural. I’ve never seen a photo or a video of the affair when the father and mother weren’t together. But then you cheerfully assented to the word “choice.” Since we’re on the subject of formative words, let’s look briefly at that word. I won’t emphasize the extreme euphemistic nature of “choice.” Are we talking about choice at a restaurant? And if you use the phrase “woman’s choice,” is it a menu matter at a meeting of the Red Hat Society?
Indeed, let’s look at just one fact which “choice” refers to.
The procreation of children — hopefully children who are healthy, energetic, alert, intelligent, and intact: like mine and my wife’s are — requires the genetically equal if different input of two adults. It really does still take two to do it. Even “anonymous” sperm bank sales have resulted in paternity lawsuits.
Alright, we have two adults. And in America, we have two adults who are necessarily equal because we’re all equal in America.
Alright, we have two equal adults doing what is done to continue the species if not necessarily with that intent.
Case #1. The woman wants the child and the man does not. The woman bears to term and delivers. And the man is on the hook for two decades of child support. The woman gets her way. And the man gets nothing but a loss.
Case #2. The man wants the child and the woman does not. Without concurrence, consultation, or even notification, the woman has an abortion and kills the man’s child. The woman gets her way. And the man gets nothing but a loss.
Now, of course, in a practical reality before the law, a perfect equality of results isn’t to be expected assuming that’s even coherent. (See Reality 101.) Statistically equal equality is something demanded by socialists and other arithmetically religious types. Meanwhile, O.J. Simpson bought a Dream Team and beat a hundred years of forensic science. But equality before the law can never consist of one social sector always winning its cases, and another sector always losing them. But that’s precisely the situation with abortion in America today. The woman always gets her way — 100%. And the man never gets his — 0%. That’s a monopoly. In Christianity, heaven has a monopoly on love. Hell is for sex. Thus, with retro-recidivism, Goethe decided to save Faust at the end of the second and last volume. Faust was then a civil engineer and needed no saving. But up went Faust anyways, and even then only with a hands-up from woman. No wonder students don’t want to read “classics”! Reproduction in America isn’t a love play. It’s the law and equality and the Constitution.
Meanwhile, some American women will tell us how unfair America is to them. Really? Of course, that’s good rhetoric if you’re trying to grab as much as you can and everything if possible. And that remark isn’t rhetoric. Right now women have everything possible on abortion. They have 100%. But if women wanted equality, they wouldn’t take it all. They’d hand some of it over to men, even if some conceptually silly courts have given them all of it. And women would do this not only for the principle of equality, but because to be a power hog is love-impossible and contrary to their freedom-loving sensibility that all people are equal in love. Or do these women secretly want a vaginocracy as the carnal crotch-crazed feminist insurgents openly say? And notice that I speak Latin here, not for priggish decency, but for “Pussy Riot” forum moderation. Russia has Putin to deal with such irruptions of social unpleasantries. In America we must depend upon ourselves — our civic taste — because we don’t have a Minister of Taste or, indeed, significant religious ministers who command an absolute moral equivalence in the name of the universe.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to see my legally practical and ethically responsible solution to men’s current complete lack of rights concerning abortion, take my medical ethics class sometime.
No, hey, wait a minute. I’ve got a clip right here that’s loaded for that target. How about it? Ready on the right? Ready on the left? Ready in the center?
Case #1. The woman wants the child and the man does not. The man signs away all his rights to the child, leaving the child solely in the legal possession of the woman. Since the man now has no rights to the child, he also has no responsibilities, either. He has no child visitation rights, and he has no child support obligations. He is legally severed from the child forever. The woman gets her child. And the man gets the child’s absence. This is equitable.
Case #2. The man wants the child and the woman does not. The woman signs away all rights to the child while bearing the child to term, whereupon the child becomes the sole legal possession of the man. For the labor of gestation, the woman is paid the going rate for surrogate motherhood as determined by the courts. The man gets his child. And the woman gets the child’s absence. This is equitable.
Of course, an objection might be raised to Case #2. “But the woman’s got to carry the child for nine months. That’s no fair and no fun!” Well, when you operate a motor vehicle, you’re responsible for what it does to other people. If you ruck up, you pay the price. And that can include jail. That’s no fun. My wife once jumped out of the car she was driving to work when the master cylinder failed and let it cross a busy thoroughfare all by itself to crash into a house across the street. We were totally lucky. The car hit no one. And the house was slated for demolition anyway. Unfortunately, because her car’s battery had gone dead overnight, she’d borrowed my car that morning.
Sex works the same way. Adult operators of their genitalia are responsible for their accidents. And if you’re irresponsible, don’t drive! As for those who don’t know any better because they’ve been saturated with female fright propaganda, I’ll note that there are women for whom pregnancy is a nightmare, there are women for whom pregnancy is indifferent, and there are women for whom pregnancy is a delight. I know all three.
I’m pleased and even delighted that you’ve heard Trump speak as a speaker: that you listened to him elocute per se. After reading your post, I soon had the opportunity to hear Trump answering questions to journalists. And I listened to Trump’s speaking abilities. You’re right. He can speak. He was answering questions in a direct fashion that was calm, coherent, balanced, and pleasant in delivery. I also noticed that he has the least distinctive or characteristic voice of all presidents I’ve heard in my lifetime via contemporary technology. And meanwhile, see! Trump hasn’t hidden himself in some Trump tower like Stalin did in a Kremlin tower. Stalin, of course, didn’t do press interviews.
You’ve apparently had the same experience I’ve had with previous presidents as well as other American officials and candidates. They all so often can’t much talk English very too good flowingly.
I don’t expect Americans will ever speak like the English do. And I don’t mean the accent. I mean that Americans will speak in substantive sentences that cohere in rounded and robust paragraphs that energetically express an idea’s narration or the rhetorical equivalent with grace and stateliness. Even national Labor Party politicians in England speak well. They just don’t have an Oxcam accent. Their voices have hints of iron in them.
Meanwhile, Americans speak a scrabble of fractured phrases. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Bush II speak spontaneously. One of his oral efforts is in my critical thinking text. It’s hilarious and pathetic. His typical public speaking style was the equivalent of a retiree with rheumatism trying to negotiate his way across a mine field. The most considerate assessment of him I’ve ever heard concluded that Bush wasn’t as dumb as he sounded — no president could be that dumb probably — therefore he must have a diagnosable condition. Like what? Acquired Intelligence Dysfunction Zoonosis (AIDZ)?
And then there’s Obama whom you have heard. I can’t say how Obama spoke in his first term. I don’t recall, and I didn’t much listen then. Meanwhile, I’m aware of the plaudits and praise he received for his speaking powers during his first campaign. Well, in his second term, I heard quite a bit of him. And not once did I ever hear Obama speak off the cuff — as to reporters — and not sound as if something had gone wrong with his mind just like Bush. I can remember an answer he once gave to a question which took the following form. Consider this an illustrative reconstruction if not the precise content. “Mr. President, what do think a nuclear strike on America by North Korea would mean?” “Well, ah, a nuclear, ah, exchange, ah, would be, ah, a matter, ah, that could be, ah, serious.” We pay Secret Service agents a salary plus benefits to protect and preserve that?
In passing, I might suggest that political tears are for transcendent sermons. To weep for a speech for America is to be susceptible to the same sentiments that built the Temple on the Mall, and which today righteously regulate political speech in the name of unrestricted love.
In contrast, “double speech” doesn’t bother me in presidents, speakers of the House, or any other operators of power. There are many reasons for a politician to say different things on the same topic. One, there’s theory versus practice. Two, there’s reality versus possibility. Three, there’s the launchings of trial balloons. Four, there are warnings to powers which, like the bark of a dog, isn’t meant to be followed by a bite. It’s when the dog snarls that the jaws are on Defcom 1. And, of course, fifth, there’s context and perspective, and faction and interest. And when will those ever be one with the word? (See Reality 101.)
And now consider another concern of yours. Let’s take a present politician. How about Mitch McConnell? The Speaker of the House undoubtedly has political opponents and power antagonists whose names he could rattle off in public but doesn’t. Of course! This is so obvious it seems a silliness to waste a paragraph on. But now describe McConnell’s commonplace political situation with these words: “He has a secret enemies list.” In other words, he has an artefact and an attitude attributed to Nixon. If Nixon actually had a written list, that was silly. Unless he had a bad memory. “Let’s see. Who do I hate? Those [expletives deleted] members of that [expletives deleted] committee! Where’s that [expletives deleted] list? Rose Mary, have you seen my hate list? I can’t remember who to hate. You didn’t erase it, did you?” And if Nixon wrote on top of the list “My Secret List of My Secret Enemies” and then stamped it “Bigot,” well, then, maybe Nixon was a little foolish, and even more than a little paranoid, which is the usual assessment of Nixon’s psychology. Otherwise, the phrase “secret enemies list” is pure rhetoric, and therefore pure domestic political propaganda.
Compare this to something in your last post. You said of Roosevelt’s chats that he was raising awareness, whereas Trump’s tweets rattle away in the ether. Were I to strip these two phraseologies of their political and emotive rhetoric, I’m not sure much if any difference would remain. I won’t insist on asking just what the phrase “raising awareness” or its idiomatic parent “raising consciousness” mean. Raising? In what direction? Where? Up? To heaven? These are obsolete dimensionalities. (See Reality 101.) More pertinent here, when I think of Roosevelt’s communications with the people, the press, and his subordinates — in his mind the latter was everyone — I’ve never seen anything except the most condescending evasions imaginable. The press would regularly complain to him about them with complaisant grins, and Roosevelt would chuckle his way into another evasion. Roosevelt also had the despicable and filthy habit of calling everyone by their first name. Like a king? Though, I’m told by historians, Roosevelt restrained his highnessness with the one exception of General Marshall because of Marshall’s quietly indomitable dignity. Or was it Admiral King because of King’s superbly puissant irascibility? Well, I wouldn’t obnoxiously do that to either man were I President. “General” and “Admiral” would do yeoman service for me and the Republic just fine.
Here’s what I’ve got on Wilson so far. I’m reading around in two anthologies of his political books and papers. I’m avoiding his Complete Works which extends across four shelves in the stacks.
The source of last week’s uncited quotes are from an 1887 paper entitled “Socialism and Democracy.” It was first printed in the Complete Works. The paper could thus be dismissed as a fugitive piece, but I don’t assess it that way. First, it’s well written, and even finished. Second, Wilson may have had no publishing target or intent. Third, just two years later Wilson published his famous textbook, The State, which went through many printings as well as translations into a half dozen languages. “Socialism” isn’t a youthful or immature work like Wilson’s religious enthusiasms from the mid-1870s were. Consider “Christ’s Army” and “Christian Progress.” Those exciting titles explicate their contents almost exhaustively. In contrast, “Socialism” is a mature and studied work.
If I read enough in Wilson’s writings, I might come to a conclusive, comprehensive, and central view of Wilson’s thoughts — assuming such a thing exists, which I doubt. It certainly doesn’t exist for FDR or Lincoln in any known linear logic. The same is true of Nietzsche. But whereas Nietzsche is worth the effort of an organic comprehension — such as in my doctorate dissertation, I don’t find Wilson quite that significant.
For now, consider some of the strange things I’ve found in Wilson so far.
In his famous Congressional Government, Wilson claims that because Congressional committees have representatives from both parties on them, the majority party doesn’t dominate the committees or their reports — unlike the majority-monopolized Parliament committees in England — and therefore Congressional committee work isn’t political but neutral. Huh?
In The State, Wilson lists Aristotle’s three good and three degenerate forms of government. You’ll remember those from my course and my Republic. Under the category of “the many,” Wilson lists “ochlocracy” for the good government — literally “mob rule.” Huh? Mob rule is good? And for the bad form, he lists anarchism. Duh, what? For this he was hired at Princeton? Wilson apparently just made this stuff up. Or maybe he got it from one of those popular 10¢ People’s Home School booklets that were so readily available back then: “Government Made Easy with Reverence to the Classics.”
In a paper entitled “A Calendar of Great Americans,” Wilson seeks to identify the true American traits of true Americans who are truly American. Hamilton and Madison are dismissed as “English.” Jefferson is “French.” Adams is “Puritan.” Calhoun is “provincial.” Emerson could be done by any nationality! What an astonishing exercise the paper is in the attempt to create a great cultural canon of American national manhood.
Finally, one of the editors of those anthologies — M. R. Dinunzio — expressed surprise that in, The State, Wilson doesn’t cite the famous theoreticians from the 17th and 18th century: Locke, Hobbes, Montesquieu, etc. — but instead relies on Aristotle. Well, those guys begin with freedom and nature, and Aristotle starts with the state. When you’re in the Greek state, as we know from Socrates’ trial, there’s no legal, moral or religious escape — ever.
Here’s what I think that all of the above means. Wilson liked the party-central dominance of the British Parliament and its direct, clear, and unconflicted communications to the public. Congress, in contrast he says, is opaque to the public and even to freshmen Congressmen. Nothing new there! Furthermore, Wilson liked a strong national government. And Wilson liked a strong national identity whose citizenship and culture could be nationally and even centrally communicated.
Conclusion: Wilson was a nascent fascist.
And since fascism is socialism — national socialism — this explains Wilson’s equation of democracy and socialism, or freedom in the total state, in his exploratory 1887 paper. Of course, all of this is Rousseau — Rousseau the conceptual founder and godfather of fascism. Or the capo de capos.
Let me note that my first formulation in this matter was that Wilson was a crypto-fascist, by which I didn’t mean he was being secretive, but that he was unknown to himself. Wilson hadn’t arrived to where he was going, and he lacked the telos of an established concept to arrive in his mind before he got there. But “nascent” says it better. And I also liked the bonus beauty of the euphony.
By this identification of Wilson as fascist, I’m not dismissing or condemning Wilson out of hand. But I am making sense of my suspicions. And I’m adding a lighthouse to warn of the reefs and shoals in Wilson.
And notice, as an aperitif aperçu, that in 1916 the United States introduced a new design for the dime. Theodore Roosevelt had initiated a program to redesign all of America’s coinage. When he left office, only two coins were finished. But one of them is the probably greatest American general circulation coin ever minted. Only the Walking Liberty half dollar can challenge it. And then there’s the Oregon commemorative half. Elvira would love the Indian’s décolleté.
Roosevelt had induced the great sculptor, Saint-Gaudens, to design the $20 gold piece — the double eagle. The result is an astonishing work of numismatic art of a kind not seen since the great Hellenic coins. And that’s even when the coin isn’t in the high or ultra high relief versions which proved impractical for both minting and commerce.
The new dime was issued deep in the midst of Wilson’s two-term administration. The dime was and still is popularly called the Mercury dime. This is due to the popular misunderstanding of the winged head on the obverse. Furthermore, Mercury was popular in the 20th century: Mercury Theatre, Mercury automobiles. Of course, the god Mercury had wings — on his sandals. He didn’t wear the Greek equivalent of a propellor beanie! Meanwhile, the official name of the design, “Winged Victory,” isn’t much better. Victories have wings — on their backs! The head on the dime supposedly represents freedom of thought — get it? “Thought takes wing!” In fact, the design is probably iconographically derived from the winged head-only angels — the bodiless putti — which populate so much bloated baroque painting.
The back of the dime is what’s pertinent here. The central emblem consists of a bundle of rods bound with straps through which an axe blade protrudes. It’s an old Roman symbol of state carried by lictors before Roman magistrates as the signifier of state authority. “Clear the way! And don’t touch!” The Romans favored beating the bejeepers out of miscreants with rods, typically to death. Thus the symbol of the axe.
These lethal bundles are called fasces.
Mussolini introduced the fasces into his government as its supreme symbol. And he called his government system fascism.
The essential symbol of fascism appears on the American dime. And it got there before Mussolini arrived.
Imagine if, instead of a fasces, there was a swastika on America’s dime. The swastika, after all, was a popular motif in ancient Rome. The dimes would have all been recalled and melted!
Does that make Wilson a fascista? Again, no. But Wilson was moving in the same direction as much of Europe on total organic statism in the same way Roosevelt, Root and Lodge were moving with the rest of Europe on imperialist land grabs.
In other words, Roosevelt and Wilson were being contemporary with Europe, and degenerate for America.
And now, my last point of this post consists of another observation of words: of words, names, power, nomenclature, and the world. Just the other day I acquired a volume of works by Foucault. I almost didn’t grab the book because I wasn’t sure I didn’t already have many of the included works, or that I had read them already without wanting to own them. After all, the book is called Volume I of “The Essential Works of Foucault.” But since the table of contents included works I’d never seen — college course summaries — I took it. And it was only a $1! But even for free, I don’t want my library cluttered with redundancies or junk.
When I got home and began to consider the volume with a serious leisure and an equal ale —that means I perused the publication and the apparatus pages — I discovered that this book is the first of three volumes selecting from Foucault’s lifetime production of book reviews, interviews, and course descriptions required of the college he taught at. In other words, these three volumes contain his occasional, ephemeral and even fugitive works. And yet they’re called “The Essential Works!”
For any writer or scribe, that’d be a lie.
For Foucault, that’s an irony deluxe beau coup — like Foucault’s discovery that San Francisco was more “advanced” than Paris!
This is a Jox News Alert.
On the same day that I acquired the Foucault, I almost didn’t buy another book entitled Faith in a Seed. You’ll have heard of the author: Henry D. Thoreau. I almost didn’t buy the book because it appeared to be a selection of Thoreau’s endless catalogues of weeds and weather and other ecological ephemera and junk around Walden and other big outbacks of Boston. I was already aware of Thoreau’s tedia in his voluminous Journals. But again I bought the book — and again for the outlay of a $1. And, I should note, this book, like the Foucault, had never been read.
At home, appropriately text-prepared, I discovered that these “weed” writings had indeed been scorned by previous editors of Thoreau as being without conceptual or characteristic interest. Indeed, the main piece — the title piece — was here being published for the first time in 1993. Huh? Thoreau’s complete works weren’t published in 1993? And Wilson’s were? Wow! In fact, the very last volume of the 12 or 15 linear feet of the Wilson books came out in l994.
After sniffing around the intro and the outpages, I opened the book randomly. I often begin sampling the heart of a book from the middle. By then the author has gotten over telling us — and himself — what he plans to do, and gets on with doing it — or not doing it. There’s nowhere hide in the middle of a book with apologies and explanations and plans. They’ve already bulked the beginning of the book. And summaries of the same will later pad the end.
I began randomly reading about the dispersion of dandelion seeds, which, being downy seeds, first appear about May 9. This was typical of Thoreau’s pseudo-scientific factual faux precision.
And then I read.
I couldn’t believe it. Here was a special tonality — a sweet combination of familiar observations of nature, easy allusions to classics, and gentle self-references. I’d only ever heard it before in the American writing of a very narrow period mostly of the middle or late 1950s to the early or middle 1960s such as in the hard-cover magazine, “Horizon,” and in a variety of books on pleasant little things: the months, holidays, roadside plants. “Go camping this summer.” That tone appeared after the traumas of the Depression and the two wars, and with the easy, relaxed and abundant leisure before the next war tore happiness into anger and ecstasy. The tone told of a beautiful bemusement — of a contented and erotic contemplation of the ambient everyday — and the happiness of knowing it.
It reminded me of Horace.
There it was. That sweet transparent tone. And it antedated the one window of felicity I knew by a century. And it was by Thoreau.
Did Thoreau invent the tone? Do the editors of this volume know what they have published? And would Prof-Pres. Wilson admit to a Valhalla of Americans a hut nut with a French name!
Meanwhile, butterflies — cabbage butterflies (Pieris rapae) — are now fluttering around a special weed which I now cultivate in the corner of my largest garden.
A few years back a strange plant started growing there. Since we’ve always had pet plants in our gardens — especially giant pet dandelions, which of course also go into salads — we let this plant grow. And did it gow! The earlier leaves are over a foot long and almost as broad. And when the whole plant is mature, it’s the size of a large bush. And then it blooms — into a thousand thistle-like purple flowers. The bees love them! And so do the smaller butterflies.
I wonder if Thoreau ever met up with my weed when he was on one his wonder walks.
If he did, I’m sure he’d know its name!
But that doesn’t matter in our garden. We know what it is.