Environmentalism, Maslow Needs and Civilization’s Power Cycle

“The relationship between society and nature and the need to provide a decent standard of living for every human being under conditions of nonstop population growth present themselves as quandaries defying pat responses.” (Louis Proyect, “The Life, Loves, Wars and Foibles of Edward Abbey,” http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/15/the-life-loves-wars-and-foibles-of-edward-abbey/)

Louis Proyect’s article is very good because it is so thoughtful, rather than polemical, in presenting the conundrum of achieving naturally sustainable prosperity and advanced social development worldwide. Among the conflicting attitudes he points out are that between anarchist “Abbeyists” (after Edward Abbey) intent to prevent the industrialized exploitation of the wilderness lands of the American West (e.g., by sabotaging road building and logging equipment, and protesting dam construction) versus the zeal for rapid economic growth through gargantuan projects (e.g., hydroelectric dams, mines, metal refining plants, atomic power) in the New Deal ideology of socially regulated capitalism during the Franklin Roosevelt administration, as well as under the Stalinist Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in Russia (the Soviet Union), and the Communist Party in China to this very day.

How do we strike a balance between the elevation of impoverished masses versus the despoliation of vast wilderness?; the satisfying of dire human needs and enduring popular desires versus preserving an abundance of unaltered nature for future appreciation?

Can we better understand the concern by any person or group for preserving the environment and regulating, transforming (to “green”), reducing or even eliminating industrialization (a.k.a. “development”) so as to preserve wilderness and minimize further global warming, by seeking to locate their concerns within Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? Let’s try.

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) devised a hierarchical classification of human needs, which can be summarized by the following five tiers, from most basic to most elevated:

1. Physiological
Meeting the physical requirements allowing the human body to function and human life to survive.

2. Safety
Having personal security, good health and well-being, financial security, and social security and insurance against accidents, illness, ill fortune and traumas.

3. Love and belonging
Belonging to and being accepted by a social group: an intimately bonded pair, a family, friendships, worker solidarity crews, religious groups, professional organizations, sports and enthusiast associations, gangs.

4. Esteem
Possessing two levels of esteem: first, that achieved by being held in high regard by others generally, or at least being respected or recognized for having gained social status, fame or notoriety; and, secondly, self-respect achieved by having met the challenges of one’s personal life — experience.

5. Self-actualization
The desire to become all that one believes one could be, and the desire to understand all that one believes one could know. Ultimately, this is self-transcendence, the giving of oneself into a higher goal, purpose, state-of-being or consciousness.

Human beings are sufficiently complex that most of these five types of needs are being addressed simultaneously in every individual at every stage of their lives, and regardless of their culture. However, the stage of one’s development (e.g., infancy, childhood, the teens, maturity, old age) as well as one’s culture and external circumstances (e.g., prosperity and peace, devastation and war) will strongly influence the weighting each of the five needs receives in any individual’s psychological processing of the moment.

People who live close to the land and which may be threatened by immediate despoliation, such as Amazonians witnessing clear-cutting of their tropical forests, and river pollution caused by the dumping of wastes from mines, drill sites for fossil fuel extraction, and industrialized meat-producing farms, would have an environmentalism grounded in Maslow’s basement tier of the physiological need for survival.

People in the poorer urban and rural neighborhoods of the developed world who are concerned about their exposure to dumped toxic chemicals, such as in the notorious Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, in the 1970s, and the many rural areas in Appalachia poisoned by toxic mine wastes, and American communities today dealing with the poisoning of their water supplies by the dumped effluents from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) wells for the extraction of geologically trapped natural gas, will have an environmentalism based on Maslow’s second tier, the need to achieve personal security and ensure personal good health and well-being, and avoid experiencing catastrophic ill fortune through illness and financial ruin (as with the collapse of property values).

Some environmentalists whose personal circumstances leave them secure as regards Maslow’s physiological and safety needs are motivated by a need for inclusion in a supportive social group, and they participate in organized environmental activism. Their roles in such groups might be quite low-profile and ordinary, but they are rewarded by a sense of worthy purpose and the camaraderie of others similarly dedicated.

For some secure individuals (regrading the first three levels of needs) environmental activism is a way to achieve esteem in the eyes of the larger society. Such individuals might be scientists, academics, authors, celebrities and policy-makers who work to inform, alert and motivate larger public audiences to the immediate moral imperatives and more distant social benefits of a concerted national effort to preserve environments, stop antiquated though still profitable (and/or subsidized) extractive industries and industrialized carbon-dioxide producing practices, and to begin now to transform the entire paradigm of how humanity concentrates and uses energy. It is a simple fact of human nature that being seen as a hero is a very strong motivator, even among people who seek that recognition in work for the public good.

A higher level of esteem-fulfillment is achieved by individuals whose environmental activism becomes a personal challenge through which they seek to fully develop their own potential as creative and productive individuals, in a way that maximizes their personal contributions to the public good. The need fulfilled here is that of gaining a self-respect that withstands critical self-scrutiny.

The first four levels of needs as defined by Maslow are called “deficiency needs” because if they are not met the individual will feel anxious and tense — their experience of life will be deficient. Once the deficiency needs are satisfied, the individual will be psychologically freed to focus on the highest level need, which is for self-actualization.

Self-actualization is a need that is beyond any concern of gaining esteem in the eyes of society, or even of emerging triumphantly from rigorous self-criticism. This is a self-respect beyond ego-gratification, gained through the knowledge that one has made good use of the unique opportunities life has offered you, with results that have made a positive difference whether such an effect is noticed in your lifetime or not. Self-actualization is the transcendence of consciousness beyond the stratum of social convention and ego — spirituality if you will — in this case achieved though a dedication to environmentalism.

It is easy to see that when lower tier needs are unfulfilled it is difficult if not impossible to focus on higher tier needs. The mental tranquility of self-actualization is more easily achieved in a safe place and with a full stomach.

A broad environmental movement would include a wide variety of people, from those close to the land and in poverty, to the bureaucrats, consumers, careerists and celebrities of the movement, and on up to the spiritual environmentalists. A successful movement will include a wide spectrum of personal motivations that all focus on a unified social purpose.

Louis Proyect describes three other examples of clashes between human needs (pursued traditionally) and modern environmentalism. The subjects of these clashes are poverty relief financed by oil revenues, whaling, and undocumented Mexican immigration into the U.S.

The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela is banking on the country’s vast oil reserves to pay for popular economic and social uplift, and this scheme is currently weakened by low prices on the global oil market. Northern Hemisphere environmentalists (in secure personal circumstances) would prefer Venezuela to formulate development plans not based on oil extraction, but it is economically and psychologically impossible for a conscientious nation with many poor people to cease exploiting a toxic resource it has in abundance and which the rest of the world lusts for, regardless of the environmental consequences. This is a clash between tier 1 and 2 needs in Venezuela, and the upper tier needs of environmentalists from the wealth zones of the Northern Hemisphere.

It is obvious that industrialized whaling (today by Japan, Norway and Iceland) has been economically unnecessary for over a century, and is morally and environmentally indefensible now. Its perpetrators claim they are preserving cultural and occupational traditions, but all industrialized nations are sufficiently advanced and sufficiently wealthy to quickly end the practice and occupationally rehabilitate, or pension off, their whalers, without damage to their national economies. Basically, the appeal to “tradition” is an excuse without merit. Whaling is part of a past that industrialized humanity has evolved far beyond.

However, it might seem unkind to oppose the whaling from long canoes and small boats by the 1,200 member Makah Indian band of Washington State, who kill their whales with hand-launched harpoons followed by rifle shots. The Makah’s whaling is a kinship ritual of ancient tradition, the whale meat being shared out in a communal ceremony, a potlatch.

The first whaling clash here is between environmentalists from some of the Northern wealth zones who are operating from their upper tier needs, and non-environmentalists from different Northern wealth zones who are fanatically focused (as in Santayana’s epigram) on their mid-tier needs for belonging and esteem, which they cannot imagine achieving in new non-whaling ways.

The second whaling clash here is between environmentalists from the Northern wealth zones who are operating from their higher tier needs, and impoverished North American survivalists (81% of Makah live on a reservation with 51% unemployment) who are operating from their mid-tier needs for belonging and esteem, which they wish to continue finding through ancient traditional practices of communal labor-intensive whaling and the dividing of the spoils.

Industrialized (commercial high-tech high-power artillery) whaling is completely inexcusable and we should ban it without further consideration. What about Makah whaling? I would end this practice also.

One can and should have sympathy for American Indians and other aboriginal people whose populations and cultures were destroyed, or severely eroded, by colonialism and expansionism (e.g., Manifest Destiny). The enlightened attitude toward such cultures today is to allow them to organize their own affairs on the lands they retain, and to exercise their cultural practices with minimal interference. That said, I do not believe that an appeal to tradition, as a sacrosanct form of social inertia, is justified as an excuse to resist transitioning to healthier and more intelligent social norms. All human societies have evolved as they have gained more knowledge about the workings of their environments, and all the human societies of today have moved beyond many of their ancient practices, some of which were barbaric. There is no reason why the Makah cannot devise a communal labor-intensive activity that produces an abundance of food without killing a whale, for a special occasion in which it is shared out. They can continue affirming their cultural ties of belonging and mutual esteem by evolving their communal ritual to fit the expanded environmental understanding humanity now has globally. A living culture evolves in response to environmental change and increased knowledge.

Some American environmentalists are opposed to the large influx of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Latin American, and they advocate for effective barriers to illegal border crossings, because they see this human tidal wave as a social phenomenon that degrades the quality of the environment in the American Southwest. The combination of masses of people tramping through fragile desert terrain, the accumulation of garbage dropped by migrants, and the increased vehicular and air traffic associated with border patrol operations, all degrade the wilderness areas of the American Southwest. The migrants are simply desperate to walk out of a failed economy and into relatively better circumstances, and then to be able to wire money back home to their families. The impact on the environment of this mass migration is just collateral damage in a class and cultural war for economic survival. Anti-immigrant American environmentalists are operating from their upper tier needs, in opposition to the migrants who are operating from their basement needs.

Everything is intertwined in the real world, and it will never be possible to solve one problem, such as “climate change” or “environmental degradation,” in isolation from all the other factors that combine to produce the cycle that powers civilization. The four grand links of that cycle are: economics, environmental stewardship, energy development, and industrialization.

Economics: the personal need by billions of laboring people for economic security.

Environmental stewardship: the preservation or degradation of natural environments, sustaining habitability and harvesting resources.

Energy Development: how energy is extracted from nature and made available for powering civilization: electricity and fuel.

Industrialization: how the work performed by industrialized civilization meets the economic needs of humanity’s billions (and so on around the cycle).

“Fixing” an environmental problem (like global warming) is impossible without making adjustments in economics, energy development, and industrialization (energy use and political economy); you have to straighten out the whole wheel.

Problems in the economic dimension, such as poverty and mass illegal immigration, are linked to choices made about energy development, such as the burning of fossil fuels which causes global warming and in turn leads to the problem of degraded environments desperate migrants flee from; and those economic problems are also linked to choices made about how the benefits of industrialization are to be shared out with the laboring masses: politics.

It is much easier for activists to think one-dimensionally about the link in civilization’s power cycle that is their special concern, such as environmentalism, and to hammer away at society on that note. But, the nature of our world is such that enduring improvements along any one of civilization’s four fundamental dimensions will result from a linked evolution of all of them.

Those activists who seek to advance their vision of society multi-dimensionally, though their particular concerns are narrowly focused (such as in environmentalism), will have a more complicated job of advocacy, but the results of their work are less likely to be futile.


The following two web-links lead to articles that contain the technical “back story” to what I call “civilization’s power cycle.”

The Economic Function Of Energy
27 February 2012

Closing the Cycle: Energy and Climate Change
25 January 2014


Piel Canela — Español-English

Piel Canela is a popular song for dancing to, written before 1952 by Félix Manuel Rodríguez Capó (January 1, 1922 – December 18, 1989), a Puerto Rican singer and songwriter who had a long and fruitful career under the name of Bobby Capó. He was a prolific songwriter and very popular crooner with a mellifluous voice and elegant style of singing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Cap%C3%B3

Piel Canela was first recorded when Bobby Capó was the singer with the legendary Cuban band Sonora Matancera, in Havana. Rogelio Martínez, the bandleader of Sonora Matancera, had chosen Piel Canela for recording from out of numerous unpublished songs Capó had shown him (in 1952).

The story of Bobby Capó, in Spanish, is given at the following web page.

Bobby Capó, “El Ruiseñor de Borinquen”
(la historia de su vida, en español)

Piel Canela
[Bobby Capó]

—> [instrumental breve]

Que se quede el infinito sin estrellas
O que pierda el ancho mar su inmensidad
Pero el negro de tus ojos que no muera
Y el canela de tu piel se quede igual

Si perdiera el arco iris su belleza
Y las flores su perfume y su color
No seria tan inmensa mi tristeza
Como aquella de quedarme sin tu amor

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú
Y solamente tú
Y tú y tú

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú [coro]

Y nadie mas que tú

Ojos negros piel canela
Que me llegan a desesperar

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú
Y solamente tú
Y tú y tú

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú [coro]

Y nadie mas que tú

—> [instrumental]

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú
Y solamente tú
Y tú y tú

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú [coro]

Y nadie mas que tú

Ojos negros piel canela
Que me llegan a desesperar

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú
Y solamente tú
Y tú y tú

Me importas tú
Y tú y tú [coro]

Y nadie mas que tuuuuuú


Cinnamon Skin
[a translation of the lyrics sung by Bobby Capó]

—> [brief instrumental]

Let the infinite sky lose all of its star-shine
And the oceans wide lose all their immensity
But that gleam in your black eyes must always cheat time
As that cinnamon in your skin should always be

If the rainbow were to lose all of its beauty
And the flowers all of their perfume and color
Though sad I would find each a minor tragedy
Compared to that of never being your lover

I care for you
for you, for you
So totally for you
for you, for you

I care for you
for you, for you [chorus]

And no one else but you.

Your black eyes and cinnamon skin
Drive the desperation that I’m in.

I care for you
for you, for you
So totally for you
for you, for you

I care for you
for you, for you [chorus]

And no one else but you.

—> [instrumental]

I care for you
for you, for you
So totally for you
for you, for you

I care for you
for you, for you [chorus]

And no one else but you.

Your black eyes and cinnamon skin
Drive the desperation that I’m in.

I care for you
for you, for you
So totally for you
for you, for you

I care for you
for you, for you [chorus]

And no one else but youuuuuu.


Piel Canela

Bobby Capó
[The songwriter singing his song, a recording both of its time and for the ages. Bobby Capó’s singing was so velvety smooth, caressingly warm, and yet so clear, fluid and briskly paced; this is a recording of his sound in the early 1950s.]

Eydie Gormé y Trio Los Panchos
[The wonderful Eydie with Los Panchos in a meltingly happy rendition, both bright and elegant, from 1964.]

Natalia y La Forquetina
[A little girl voice and a band with sci-fi spacey electronic sounds hip-hopping through Piel Canela in 2005. Massively popular. Great songs live through every generation’s stylings because they are pure at heart.]

Bobby Capó canta Piel Canela con la Sonora Matancera
[Bobby Capó at an outdoor concert celebrating the long life of Sonora Matancera, this being 1989 and their 65th year. Bobby Capó remained the smooth elegant crooner to the end.]

La Sonora Matancera (65 aniversario, concierto completo)
[This video with a playing time of 1:45:15 shows the complete 65th anniversary concert by Sonora Matancera with many singers in New York City’s Central Park in the spring of 1989. Bobby Capó’s entrance to the stage begins at 1:11:27 and his set ends at 1:19:00. Daniel Santos follows and continues till 1:27:14, then Celia Cruz powers through to the finish. Rogelio Martínez had joined the band in 1926 and became its director in the 1930s. For traditionalists, Rogelio Martínez’s death in 2001 marked the end of the band, as few of its musicians from the 1950s remained. Javier Vásquez, who had joined Sonora Matancera in 1957, carried on with a younger group in Las Vegas, Nevada, continuing with the name “Sonora Matancera.”]

Linda Ronstadt
[Linda Ronstadt does a lovely job with Piel Canela in 1992, with a very polished big band.]

Manny Manuel
[A stylish reimagining of a dance club of the late 1940s and early 1950s with a performance of Piel Canela, for Puerto Rican TV in 1997. This video is just one segment of an entire program of Bobby Capó music, called “Siempre Piel Canela – La Musica de Bobby Capó.” Totalmente borinqueño.]


What I Have Learned

What I Have Learned

Thinking is freedom,
Self respect is strength,
Letting go is liberty,
Character is fulfillment.
Life is a gift,
Love is all giving.

Don’t rush,
Don’t get greedy,
Don’t get angry,
Don’t expect courtesy or appreciation.
Be peaceful,
Be happy.

Life is a gift to you,
Love is your gift to others.
Life may reward your love given,
but who knows?


Obsesión — Español-English

Pedro Flores (March 9, 1894 – July 14, 1979) was one Puerto Rico’s best known composers of ballads and boleros. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Flores_%28composer%29

Pedro Flores’ song “Obsesión” was written before 1935, the date of its recording for Columbia Records. This is a male’s love song in the ancient tradition of declaring love and pledging fidelity by showing passion, “obsession,” in an effort to win the affections of a wisely playing-hard-to-get female. Such songs come out of times and cultures where decorum was expected and practiced, so the obsession being displayed here was understood to be only a sincere amorous expression that was uninhibited in relation to antique social norms. It was not intended to be anything like the psychotic behaviors we are now accustomed to seeing erupt unhappily, and too often, in our mad modern hyperactive inattentive mind-numbed zeitgeist. “Obsesión” soon became very popular and many women singers, also, have made it their own since its early years. This song translation is poetic, not literal.

(Pedro Flores, letras según la grabación de “Como Es El Amor” por Panchito Riset y Daniel Sanchez con Pedro Flores, 1935)

—> (instrumental)

Por alto está el cielo en el mundo,
por hondo que sea el mar profundo,
no habrá una barrera en el mundo
que un amor profundo
no pueda rompér.

Amor es el pan de la vida,
amor es la copa divina,
amor es un algo sin nombre
que obsesiona a un hombre
con una mujér.

Yo estoy obsesionado contigo
y el mundo es testigo
de mí frenesí,
y por más que se oponga el destino
serás para mí(ííí). (1)

Por alto está el cielo en el mundo,
por hondo que sea el mar profundo,
no habrá una barrera en el mundo
que un amor profundo
no rompa por tí.

—> (instrumental)

Yo estoy obsesionado contigo
y el mundo es testigo
de mí frenesí,
y por más que se oponga el destino
serás para mí(ííí). (1)

Por alto está el cielo en el mundo,
por hondo que sea el mar profundo,
no habrá una barrera en el mundo
que un amor profundo
no – rompa – por – tí(ííí). (2)

1. se extiende el “í” de “mí.”

2. Rallentando, se extiende el “í” de “tí.”


(Pedro Flores, lyrics following the recording of “How Love Is” by Panchito Riset and Daniel Sanchez with Pedro Flores, 1935)

—> (instrumental)

As high as the sky is above us,
as deep as the ocean’s cold darkness,
never will barriers between us
stand fast against my focus
unbroken by love.

Love’s the bread of every soul’s lifetime,
love’s the cup of fulfillment divine,
for love is that something so nameless,
a swirling where one man obsesses
on one woman’s love.

I am so completely obsessed to love you,
this world is just background in view
of my frenzied mind,
and even if destiny opposes, it’s true
you have to be mine –. (3)

As high as the sky is above us,
as deep as the ocean’s cold darkness,
never will barriers between us
stand fast against my focus,
I’ll break them in time.

—> (instrumental)

I am so completely obsessed to love you,
this world is just background in view
of my frenzied mind,
and even if destiny opposes, it’s true
you have to be mine –. (3)

As high as the sky is above us,
as deep as the ocean’s cold darkness,
never will barriers between us
stand fast against my focus,
I’ll – break – them – in – time –. (4)


3. The “i” of “mine” is extended.

4. Rallentando, the “i” of “time” is extended.


Panchito Riset y Daniel Sanchez con Pedro Flores – Como Es El Amor (Obsesión)
[The original, the year is 1935, music from Puerto Rico.]

Barrio Boyzz
[Jazz a cappella quartet in concert; both crisp and honeyed. 1996]

Suzzette Ortiz
[Suzzette plays the piano and sings, both with great sensitivity; live. A touching performance giving the song a woman’s voice. 2010.]

Daniel Santos & La Sonora Matancera
[Puerto Rico’s great singer with Cuba’s great band, a recording from probably the late 1940s.]

The Latin Jazz Coalition
[A Latin Jazz band in a live outdoor performance in Queens, New York City; the Afro-Cuban Currents Concert, 2006.]

Irene Atienza & Douglas Lora
[A Brazilian duo perform live; Irene sings, Douglas plays classical guitar. Intimate and nice. “Amor es un tango sin nombre que obsesiona un hombre por una mujér.” 2013.]

Beny More y Pedro Vargas
[A duet with Beny More and Pedro Vargas. 1950s.]

[Japanese instrumental trio: flute, guitar, conga; wonderful live performance. 2010.]

Virginia Lopez y Trio Imperio
[Light soprano voice of the 1950s, very atmospheric of its time. Virginia, a Puertorriqueña, was born in New York City’s West Side.]

Guasabara Cuarteto
[Potent Puerto Rican jazz combo and singer propel this bolero through their own extended and modernized version; studio live. 2013.]

Placido Domingo & Maggie Carles – Perdon & Obsesión
[A medley of “Perdon” and “Obsesión” as duets in concert; big voices. “Obsesión” begins at 3:33. 2009.]


Cardo o Ceniza — Español-English

María Isabel Granda Larco (3 September 1920, Cotabambas, Apurímac, Peru — 8 March 1983, Miami, United States), better known as Chabuca Granda, was a Peruvian singer and composer. She created and interpreted a vast number of Criollo waltzes with Afro-Peruvian rhythms. Her best known song is “La flor de la canela” (The Cinnamon Flower). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chabuca_Granda

I have taken greater poetic liberties for my English translation of “Cardo o Ceniza” than has been the case with my previous translations of Spanish songs. I see this song as a male fantasy of female orgasm, as that fantasy is imagined by a female (the songwriter and all the subsequent female singers). I have chosen to present these orgasmic lyrics in more poetically florid English than I would normally use, since the only other alternative I could think of was a clinical explicitness that risked making a mockery of the sentiment. As is always the case, poetry and song lyrics are best in their original languages.

If this song did not resonate with so much of the sexual fantasy life of males worldwide, it would not be so popular. Without such resonance this song would be like so much of feminist literature, which can be quite explicit and yet attract little male interest. The song is basically a lament about a woman’s inability to find partnership despite being generous and passionate in the giving of her love. We assume the wayward lover is male, but the lyrics are general enough to allow for a lesbian interpretation. The sexual yearning of the female voicing this lament, her submissiveness to the longed-for lover, and the obvious power he holds over her despite her misgivings and prior disappointments at being used, are all very popular male fantasies even as a number of them are thoroughly dishonorable. That resonance with the male id, along with the identification many women will have with the substance of the lament, all make for a universally popular song.

The music of the song is quite nice, always necessary for making a song popular with foreign audiences who do not understand the lyrics.

Cardo o Ceniza
(Chabuca Granda 1920-1983)

¿Como será mi piel
junto a tu piel?,
¿Como será mi piel
junto a tu piel?,
¿Cardo, cenizas,
como será?

¿Si he de fundir mi espacio
frente al tuyo?
¿Como será tu cuerpo
al recorrerme,
y como mi corazón
si estoy de muerte,
mi corazón
si estoy de muerte?

Se quebrara mi voz
cuando se apague,
de no poderte hablar
en el oido.
Y quemará mi boca
de la sed que me queme
si me besas,
de la sed que me queme
si me besas.

¿Como será el gemido
y como el grito
al escapar mi vida
entre la tuya?
¿Y como el letargo
al que me entregue
cuando adormezca el sueño
entre tus sueños?

Han de ser breves
mis siestas.
Mis esteros despiertan
con tus rios. (1)

¿Pero, pero como serán
mis despertares?
¿Pero como serán
mis despertares?
¿Pero como serán
mis despertares,
cada vez que despierte
cada vez que despierte

Tanto amor
y avergonzada,
tanto amor (tanto amor)
y avergonzada.

Thistle or Ash
(a translation of Chabuca Granda’s “Cardo o Ceniza”)

How will my skin feel
pressed to your skin?
How will my skin feel
pressed to your skin?
Thistle or ashes,
how will it feel?

Should I open myself to you?,
open myself for you?
How will your body feel as you
drape me completely?
Will it make me come alive
or will it feel deadly?
Will it make me come alive
or will it feel deadly?

My voice will fade away
silenced by the rush,
with no whispered sighs to hear,
no breaths in your ear.
My mouth will wet ravening,
burning for love,
fired by every kiss
thirsting for love,
fired by every kiss
thirsting for love.

How will I whimper to your love
and cry out as mine comes?,
to escape into your life
as now both take flight.
What of the sweet surrender,
the sinking of let down?
Dreams fade in sleep so tender,
will you remember?

My times of peace
are all too brief.
What love I can give is freed
from love received. (1)

Tell me, tell me, how will it be
the morning after?
Tell me, how will it be
the morning after?
Tell me, how will it be
the morning after?
Every time I wake alone
with all my shame,
every time I wake alone
with all my shame.

I love so much
and end so shamefully,
I love so (very very) much
and end so shamefully.

Note #1. Literally: “my estuaries awaken with your rivers.”


Chabuca Granda – Cardo o ceniza
[Modern (<1983) folk-style popular music from Peru; the original version of this song.]

Pamela Rodriguez – Cardo o Ceniza
[Current youth-oriented Latin-American popular music, a cover more popular than the original, “the hit.”]

Niyireth Alarcón – Cardo o ceniza
[An elegant current version from Colombia.]


Haunted by the Vietnam War

Perhaps the period in my life during which I experienced the greatest amount of dread were the years 1968-1969, when I was being called by my draft board to be inducted into the United States military for service in the Vietnam War. Ultimately, that never occurred and I have no dramatic stories to tell, either of suffering and heroism or criminality under fire, or of stirring anti-war resistance and subversion. But, I have vivid memories of that time and believe my dread of the Vietnam War has cast a long shadow onto my consciousness. Whenever I hear or read about people in their later years saying about the disinterest by current youth in the formative experiences of these elders “you have no idea what it was like in those times,” I now understand what they are feeling, based on my own relatively easy survival of the Vietnam War, and the ease with which I am taken as obsolete today.

War is horrible, obviously, and to be avoided at almost any cost. I say “almost” because I have reluctantly come to believe that in rare circumstances the necessity to prosecute a war can arise. The difficulty here is in choosing when a situation truly deserves to be recognized as one of those rare occasions that is worthy of justifying war. There is no formula nor algorithm for making such determinations, the justification for going to war is beyond pure logic. Such justification must not only be seen intellectually as rigorous, but emotionally as essential to the self-definition of the people going to war, both as a society and as individuals. Such a broad and deep consensus could only arise in reaction to the most dire of existential threats, which I can only imagine to be truly rare. When greed, ego, religious fanaticism and lust-for-power are denied protection by military force, then no problem of popular freedom and resource allocation is beyond negotiated settlement. We can live without war if we cast away the irrational absolutes that drive us to it.

Unfortunately in our world today, it is still possible for one group of people to face the hostility of another group of people motivated so viciously by their irrational absolutes that the effort required for a necessary defense amounts to a war. The dreadful work of prosecuting such a war inevitably falls on the young and strong members of a society, despite the fact that the policy imperatives and political disputes precipitating the war were carried out by the older, more prosperous and most secure members of that society. How can the sacrifices of war be justified to its young warriors?

I can think of only two justifications: the war is necessary for the survival and self-respect of the society, and the society is worthy enough to merit the sacrifices made by its warriors for its continuation.

I do not believe that either of these conditions were met in regard to the Vietnam War. Yes, I am not very “patriotic.”

But what about today, with crises in the Middle East, and the threat of “terrorism?” The discussion of war becomes murky when we begin considering militarized police actions in response to terrorist attacks, bombings and massacres carried out by non-state gangs operating internationally. The militarized policing forces called upon to hunt down and eliminate such gangs would be (or should be) troops of highly trained professional soldiers-agents with extensive technical support, not masses of conscript soldiers. A “people’s army” is what you call upon to save an entire society under existential threat; a group of professionals – volunteers well-trained and reasonably subsidized by society like King Louis XIII’s Musketeers – is what you call upon to counter violent threats to social peace and tranquility that rise above the level of common criminality. But even though such professional soldiers are volunteers who may be called upon to earn their socially subsidized living by occasionally confronting danger, they are still our brothers and sisters, and our society must never be hasty or casual about sending them into harm’s way.

So, the two justifications for war remain: is the situation truly such a threat to the survival of our society and our worthy concepts of ourselves that it requires an armed response?, and does our society deserve the inevitable sacrifices of our warriors?

What do I mean by “worthy concepts of ourselves?” Primarily, our vision of a free and equitable society, and a solidarity with people in other nations regarding basic human rights. Again, this is a topic that can be made as murky as one wants, but the fundamental point about solidarity here is that: “to maintain my self-respect, I see it in my interest that people elsewhere be free from threats to their lives, dignity and freedom, and I would wish that they could feel the same toward us.”

Of course, the devil-in-the-details with “solidarity” is in what practical steps one society takes in response to the problems of another. Again, the judgments here go beyond logic and rest upon who we think we are, or want to be. As one specific example consider Cuba’s military response to the threats to Angolan and Namibian independence in the 1980s, and its medical response to the threat of the Ebola epidemic in Africa in 2014-2015.

As always, the enemy in our minds is humanity’s various irrational absolutes. “In politics the choice is never between good and evil but between the preferable and the detestable” (Raymond Aron). Does our society deserve the sacrifices required by this war? “This war” is whatever war is now being promoted. Any call to war, on terror, drugs or whatever, should be taken as a call to thoroughly examine American society and rectify its many glaring inequities, to make this society much more deserving of the sacrifices of its potential future warriors. Americans who might be sent out to fight and die for their country in future wars must be given a justification sufficient for their sacrifices, a justification which can be experienced daily as the living reality of our society. This goes far beyond the superficiality and commercialism of our time, and which even the word “socialism” cannot illuminate sufficiently in our imaginations.

What follows are my notes about the Vietnam War, which was frothed up in my memory by several recent encounters and e-mail messages. There is nothing earth-shaking here, just my own thoughts that echo the title of Staughton Lynd’s recent fine article:

Haunted by Vietnam

Beware, there will be a great deal of hype later this spring about the 40th anniversary of the “end” of the Vietnam War, with the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. Don’t fall for the phony patriotism, instead ask for a transformative politics making this a much more deserving nation. There are still many people living with their personal consequences of the Vietnam War. The movie Same Same But Different (more below) is all about that. Not thinking about it is not an end.

My notes, referred to above, were originally sent out as e-mail, and now follow.

15 February 2015 [Presidents’ Day weekend]


I can’t help sending out this broadcast message, as I have been moved to think back to the time of the Vietnam War. I myself was not in it, by the luck of the draft lottery of December 1, 1969, and prior lucky bureaucratic congestion from early 1968.

The most important part of this message is for you to see this one hour documentary about American veterans of that war, who returned to Vietnam to work on constructive and humanitarian projects. In the documentary, they tell why they have chosen to do this. Watch, and listen carefully.


Same Same But Different


I am grateful to Louis Proyect (http://louisproyect.org/) for bringing this film to my attention. You can read his commentary about this film (see it first!) at his blog, at this webpage:

Two Documentaries on Vietnam

Louis’ blog entry has embedded trailer videos of the documentaries he comments on, and soon leads to his complete commentary article at Counterpunch, here:

The Mirror of Vietnam

The second documentary Louis comments on is “Last Days in Vietnam” by Rory Kennedy, the youngest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, and her documentary has been nominated for Best Documentary in the upcoming Academy Awards. Don’t see this, it’s a piece of shit aimed at the head-up-the-ass stupidity that swallows garbage like “American Sniper” with reverential awe.

To see real heroes, see Same Same But Different.

My daughter, Ella, had asked me about my recollections of the times of the Vietnam War, for a high school project, and while I told her about my own slight experiences of that time, I could see that any real transmission of the living experience was impossible. Seeing Same Same But Different is perhaps the best I could offer her, now, to answer her questions most usefully (for her own future).

Another prod to my recollections of the times of the Vietnam War was a group e-mail I received last Christmas, about “remembering those [US soldiers] who served” and died. I reproduce that e-mail (names deleted) and my response to it, down below, to add to my overall comments about this topic today.

By chance, there are some other articles on the Vietnam War in this weekend’s edition of Counterpunch:

Vietnam: Some Real History

Revising the Meaning of the Vietnam War
[A critical review of “Last Days in Vietnam,” by a Vietnam War veteran.]

Michael Uhl is a writer associated with Vietnam Full Disclosure, a website dedicated to publicizing truthful history about the Vietnam War (Pentagon-produced history is unreliable in this regard), and produced by a group of veterans of that war (including a woman nurse who treated combat wounded). See that site for many articles and commentaries:

Vietnam Full Disclosure

Robert S. McNamara (Kennedy and Johnson Administrations’ Secretary of Defense) had publicly estimated that 3.5 million people, from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, died as a result of the American prosecution of the war in Southeast Asia.

If any of you still enjoy reading books (as in paper), you can learn the historical background to the Vietnam War from

The Untold History of the United States
[A good library or bookstore can get a copy for you.]

Oliver Stone, the filmmaker, is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

The most complete detailed [and truthful] history of the Vietnam War is

Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience
[Kolko, a Canadian and historian, interviewed leading figures in the war during its course, in the U.S., South Vietnam and North Vietnam.]

A recent book on the nature of American military operations in Vietnam (a.k.a. war crimes) is

Kill Anything That Moves

I say more about Nick Turse’s book in the appended e-mail commentary, down below.

An incredible 1971 book of photographs of the war, which was republished in 2001 by Phaidon Press is

Vietnam, Inc.

I think Philip Jones Griffiths’ book ranks with Euripides’ “Trojan Women.”

One of the most affecting books I have ever read was Noam Chomsky’s deeply moral intellectual protest of 1970, against the aggregated atrocities we now label as the Vietnam War, and is

At War With Asia

This book is specifically about the American bombing of Laos (the country that has suffered the highest amount of bombing per capita, ever, and also subjected to defoliant chemical warfare by the U.S.). One of my best blog entries is about this book, its sources, and its effect on me.

On Reading “At War With Asia,” by Noam Chomsky

For Ella’s benefit:

The way I “remember” the Vietnam War today, and “honor those who served” is to buy you-know-who a chocolate milkshake every now and then, and to try to get us out into the country with him for a plant-identification ramble on some summer day.

I remember the story our friend told me about his time during the First Battle of Khe Sanh (the “Hill Fights” of 1967). The Marines were under such intense shelling for so long that they were starving (being cut off from resupply), and conditions in the camp were horrible because of the destruction, carnage (piles of dead) and the tropical rain turning ground into mud. He says he lost count of the barrages after about seventy-something, and the many concussions he experienced made him deaf in one ear. After a long stretch of this punishment, a brief and welcome relief came in the form of some hours of clear sunny weather without any shelling. As he sat in his spot, he noticed that a grasshopper had alighted near him, probably also seeking relief in sunshine without explosions. In an instant, he flashed out his arm, grasped the grasshopper, popped it into his mouth whole, crunched and swallowed. That was food. He told me he had done this without any thought whatever, and afterwards he realized what amazing things we can do when motivated by starvation. From what he’s told me, I have been able to identify the battle he was in as that for Hill 881, the First Battle of Khe Sanh (articles below).

Battle of Hill 881

Battle of Khe Sanh

The Hill Fights: The First Battle of Khe Sanh

About E. F. Murphy’s book:
“While the seventy-seven-day siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968 remains one of the most highly publicized clashes of the Vietnam War, scant attention has been paid to the first battle of Khe Sanh, also known as “the Hill Fights.” Although this harrowing combat in the spring of 1967 provided a grisly preview of the carnage to come at Khe Sanh, few are aware of the significance of the battles, or even their existence. For more than thirty years, virtually the only people who knew about the Hill Fights were the Marines who fought them. Now, for the first time, the full story has been pieced together by acclaimed Vietnam War historian Edward F. Murphy.”


My wife chides me about “old man ranting,” which is to say complaining angrily, or at all, about the political and social stupidities of our time. Who cares what I think?, nothing is going to change, and if there is any slight change it will not be because of anything I have said or written. True enough, amen. So, I don’t plan to write any more in this vein. But, every now and then I have to let out some steam, and this whole “remember the Vietnam War” meme is one, of I hope very few, such occasions. MG,Jr.


XXXXXXXX sometimes sends me items from “right wing news” sites, and the item below about the Black Wall is one such message. My response to it, on “remembering” Vietnam War veterans, is further below.


On Dec 27, 2014, XXXXXXXX wrote:

At this Christmas time, I thought we should take a bit of our time to remember those who never made it back from Vietnam, those men and women who should never be forgotten. Merry Christmas to one and all…….

The Wall

A little history most people will never know.

Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 57 years since the first casualty.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

8,283 were just 19 years old.

The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.

12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia. I wonder why so many from one school.

8 Women are on the Wall, Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

The Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. In the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales – were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

Please pass this on to those who served during this time, and those who DO Care.

I’ve also sent this to those I KNOW do care very much, and I thank you for caring as you do.


MG,Jr. response to XXXXXXXX

Here are 2 of my (MG,Jr.’s) articles on history, which each describe many overall facts about the Vietnam War. I registered for the draft the day after Lyndon Johnson’s “I will not run” speech, and I was drafted in late ’68 and 1A all through 1969. In December 1969, I was finally released from the call-up (because of the first draft lottery). The entire experience formed much of my thinking about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” since.

A good friend of mine here is a 1966-1968 ex-Marine, who survived 3 helicopter shoot-downs (surviving 1 was unusual), and a siege at Khe Sanh (there was more than one). He lost hearing in one ear due to concussions sustained by the constant artillery barrages he had to hunker down under (which cut off food and ammunition resupply by land, and made it infrequent, inadequate and inaccurate by air). A Puerto Rican veteran of the Vietnam War [a different Marine from the previous one], who I met in college in 1970-1971, told me how the platoon commanders would send the Puerto Ricans (or “Mexicans”) out “on point” for the patrols. By 1968, half of US casualties (ground troops) were Black and Latino (“Hispanic”). After that the US military made an effort to balance out the hazardous duty, so by the end of the war the casualties fell in close to the proportions of ethnicities/race as they occur in the general US population. In 1968 I was convinced that had I been inducted (as an 18 year old) I’d never get to be 21, and I’m still convinced that was most likely.

Much of the reason the Nixon Administration decided to pull the US ground troops out of the Vietnam War was that by 1969 mutinies were routine (disregard of orders, such as to go out on patrol, and massive drug use, even though the military did give pilots amphetamines to pump them up for missions; also “fragging” was frequent). There were major mutinies of career military officers – whole squadrons of Navy fighter pilots (launching off carriers), and B-52 (Air Force pilots) – in 1972, and entire operations had to be scrubbed as an alternative to mass courts martial. Books have been written about that, as well as the “Winter Soldier” movie (where veterans share their stories, mainly about seeing and participating in atrocities).

A very recent book on the war is Kill Anything That Moves (by Nick Turse) and it draws its material from the “war crimes” files from the US military (which kept track of such things to quash potential prosecutions — Colin Powell was largely responsible for limiting the exposure of the My Lai story — saving the asses of Lt. Calley’s superiors right up to the Pentagon — and its much larger potential fallout: most operations were similar), which are stored at the US Archives (Wash. DC). Nick Turse (researching other history) was shown the material by an archivist, who noted that few people (historians) had bothered to look into it since the ‘60s; every effort had been made by the US military to bury it, and that effort has been a success.

People of my time and age, who were drawn into the War to one degree or another, knew about the things described in Turse’s book, but such stories were not widely reported by the mainstream media; and official government policy coupled with much popular sentiment was to bury the truth. My buddy, the ex-Marine (helicopter gunner) even had to fight to get his veteran’s benefits. A records center in Kansas City had burned and the paperwork about many vets’ service records was destroyed. The government had hired people to interview veterans claiming benefits, but those interviewers were charged with doing their utmost to deny such benefits. My pal had to point out names on the Black Wall and describe in detail where those individuals had been “in country” and how they had actually died (the reports made to families back home were often sanitized). My buddy obviously knew too many “classified” details not to be who he said he was, and to have experienced what he said he had. He told me these interviewers would try to “mess with your mind” to make you hysterical and go away, like “you just killed people, don’t you feel guilty?” My buddy’s wife (who was present as she herself told me, and is part American Indian) screamed at this interviewer and showed sufficient intent to “escalate” her intervention that the guy gave in and approved my buddy’s status as a veteran. My pal had described missions and deployments of specific units at specific times and places that were still officially denied by the USG. So, the combination of factual (and officially embarrassing) testimony, as well as the interviewer’s fear of probably being scalped otherwise, got my buddy recognized as a vet of the unit he had served in (during the years 1966-1968).

My own articles are straightforward history taken from public sources; though I remember the events very well as “news” and “current events” from those times, which I was focused on.

The U.S. may have lost the Vietnam War, but its war criminals got away with it.

My ex-Marine buddy is (now) recognized by the Marine Corps as a member on permanent disability. He spends some of his time helping out other old guys who are on downhill slides to their final exits. He saw many of his contemporaries (including best friends) fall in the war, and numerous others survive the war to get “screwed by the system” and then disappear in one way or another from the good life “back home” (saving tax dollars, I guess). Like my godfather, who was a veteran of the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944, my ex-Marine buddy does not tell war stories, nor does he see “war” and “action” movies, nor go to museums with “Vietnam War” exhibits. It’s best not to trigger dreams. He’s a happy fun-loving guy (like my godfather) because he’s happy to be alive, every day. He’s also a peacenik, and since the war has become an expert botanist. He has lots of metal plates, bolts and rivets in his body, as well a many healed fractures (including spinal) and replacement joints, and a permanent set of aches and pains.

Fifty-Year Look Back 1963-2013, Part I: 1963-1968
18 November 2013

Fifty-Year Look Back 1963-2013, Part II: 1968-2013
4 December 2013

Kind regards.

22 February 2015, George Washington’s 283rd birthday.


ADDENDUM, 17 March 2015

The My Lai massacre occurred 47 years ago, on March 16, 1968.

My Lai (massacre)

Hugh Thompson, Jr., 47 years ago

Hugh Thompson, Jr., 47 years ago

Hugh Thompson, Jr., with the help of his crewmen Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn, were responsible for limiting the extent of the massacre (to 504) by landing their helicopter between advancing US troops and fleeing Vietnamese villagers, with Thompson ordering Andreotta and Colburn (manning the helicopter’s machine gun) to shoot the advancing Americans if they attempted to kill any of the fleeing civilians.

“Initially, three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and rescue the hiding civilians were shunned, and even denounced as traitors by several U.S. Congressmen, including Mendel Rivers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Only after thirty years were they recognized and decorated, one posthumously, by the U.S. Army for shielding non-combatants from harm in a war zone.”

I still cry when I read the wikipedia article on Hugh Thompson. I did just now, again.

Hugh Thompson, Jr.

Ron Ridenhour, a US soldier in Vietnam, heard about the massacre from his acquaintances who participated in it, investigated it on his own while still on active duty, and on being discharged from the Army began a letter-writing campaign in 1969 to have the US Congress open an investigation. It was through Ridenhour’s efforts that independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh learned of the event, and eventually broke the Mỹ Lai story to the public on November 12, 1969.

Ron Ridenhour

Ron Ridenhour’s letter
to congressional representatives, begging for an investigation of “Pinkville.”


Four Hours in My Lai (1989)

This one hour documentary by Kevin Sim and Michael Bilton can be seen as a sequence of seven video segments, listed below. Note that in segment 4 Hugh Thompson, Jr. and Lawrence Colburn describe their actions to stop the My Lai massacre by aiming their own weapons at the rampaging American troops of Charlie Company, to protect a group of Vietnamese villagers. In segment 6, Ron Ridenhour (1946-1998) describes his own discovery of the event, months later, and his subsequent letter to Congress as an act of moral outrage.

The Hugh Thompson, Jr. (1943-2006) and Lawrence Colburn seen in this documentary were men who had yet to receive any public recognition of a positive nature for their actions on March 16, 1968, and subsequently. This documentary, which went on to win a British Academy Award and an International Emmy in 1989, began to change that. Sim and Bilton continued researching the story and conducted further interviews with Thompson and Colburn. They published a book in 1992, “Four Hours in My Lai,” based on the totality of the documentary material they had gathered. It was this book that sparked both public and official interest in honoring Thompson and Colburn. The third member of Thompson’s helicopter crew, Glenn Andreotta had died during military action in Vietnam in 1968. “Exactly 30 years after the massacre, Thompson, Andreotta, and Colburn were awarded the Soldier’s Medal (Andreotta posthumously), the United States Army’s highest award for bravery not involving direct contact with the enemy.”

Four Hours in My Lai 1/7
(60 minute video in 7 segments)

Four Hours in My Lai 2/7

Four Hours in My Lai 3/7

Four Hours in My Lai 4/7
(Hugh Thompson, Jr.)

Four Hours in My Lai 5/7

Four Hours in My Lai 6/7
(Ron Ridenhour)

Four Hours in My Lai 7/7


Hugh Thompson, Jr. (1943-2006)
(hughthompson.org is the foundation organized by Larry Colburn to honor the memory of Hugh Thompson by addressing his chief concerns.)

“Hugh Thompson’s courage and integrity brought the My Lai massacre to a halt. Today he remains a true inspiration for young people everywhere but especially those in the military. Hugh was living proof that doing what is right, without weighing up the personal cost, is the hallmark of great nobility.” – Michael Bilton, author of Four Hours in My Lai

To Swing Wide the Gates of Mercy (~2002)
(Hugh Thompson, Jr. and Lawrence Colburn, together before students)

BBC interviews Hugh Thompson Jr.

American Experience My Lai PBS Documentary (2010)
(Good presentation of the Army’s coverup and Nixon’s political undermining of justice.)


The Scene of the Crime
A reporter’s journey to My Lai and the secrets of the past.
By Seymour M. Hersh
March 30, 2015 issue of The New Yorker


The Virus of Cruelty in American Democracy

“Men are always the same – fear makes them cruel.”
— W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

Ignorance is lack of awareness, information and knowledge.

Ignorance can be overcome with personal effort.
Reducing ignorance is work, remaining ignorant is easy.

Stupidity is the defense of ignorance.

Stupidity is lazy and cowardly.

Stupidity shields religious belief from questioning,
and bigotry from exposure and eradication.

The imperative for greed arises out of the fear
of being excluded from the ranks of the secure.

The Republican Party is a conspiracy for theft.
It is a political virus finely tuned to exploit the national weakness of popular stupidity.

Just as lying is the sound of theft, so is hypocrisy the signature of the Republican Party.

The greed imperatives aggregated as the Republican Party
react to humanity with xenophobia and otherization, expressed as:
– racial and ethnic prejudices
– misogynist sexism
– sociopathic attitudes towards wage earners, the poor and the destitute
– homophobia
– pedophobia (as with the destruction of public education).

How can the Republican Party gain votes (ballots, as opposed to dues) for a program that aims to disenfranchise otherized populations, subjugate women, and impoverish most of the public?

You would have to be stupid to vote for that.


Hence, Republican Party efforts to manage the public focus on capturing the DNA of popular stupidity, by injecting viral control directives into the nucleus of public attention, to effect the auto-enslavement of the vast majority of the nation.

The attack on science and the coddling of religion are all part of the strategy
to strengthen the force of stupidity and expand popular ignorance.

Your stupidity is your enslavement, and their triumph.