Democracy is how human dignity is preserved institutionally. Socialism can only be brought about by individual commitment and effort, not by top-down political mandate. Capitalism is the economic face of fascism, and the sociological face of settler-colonialism and its imposition of slavery — and of genocide.
The most important struggle in the world today is that between Democracy and Fascism. This is more important than the struggle between Socialism and Capitalism because until the world is democratic it cannot achieve socialism, and without World Socialism no effective counteraction and adaptation to Climate Change can be implemented. A human civilization that would perish by Climate Change would necessarily have to be fascist, and a human civilization that would prevail against the existential threats of Climate Change would necessarily have to be democratic and socialist.
Fascism has many varieties but all are easy to recognize: wherever human dignity and democracy are suppressed, that is where fascism rules. While it is easy to see that potentates and the wealthy are fascist because that is the ideology that sustains their privileged positions and schemes of self-aggrandizing and exploitative inequality, it can seem paradoxical that working-class people would willingly choose to act as functionaries in the enforcement and bureaucratic mechanisms of fascism’s machinery, until you realize that human weakness and lack of moral character and a lack of a sense of honor are common.
Patriotism is a hoax, the only values worth fighting and dying for are: family and honor. And World Socialism means including all peoples and their communities within your allegiances to “family” and “honor” — just as those people would, in that ideal, include your family and your right to dignified living, within their allegiances to “family” and “honor.”
We humans are only as good as our willingness to take care of each other. It is very easy to see our deficiencies in this regard, but it is better to try overcoming them. That effort will be as eternal as the continuation of our species, and the mark of its success will not be the eventual achievement of some perfected societal advancement, but that at any moment a serious effort continues in that direction.
It is not possible to achieve that success for the world if the preservation of your uninterrupted comfort is paramount. There is no blame in being annoyed if such interruptions must happen, but there is no honor, and there is great shame, in seeking to avoid such annoying inconveniences by making excuses justifying the sacrifices of the lives and liberties, cultures and independence of other peoples, just to preserve your material comforts and ego.
So: am I an idealist and a romantic? Yes.
Have I judged people harshly based on their responses, or lack of them, to the Russian-Ukrainian War? Yes.
Do I worry this might reduce the number of my friendships, and perhaps significantly? No.
Most friendships are quite superficial, and I have learned not to expect too much from “friends,” because most people just want you to play a supporting role in their own dramas of receiving attention, and for that they often want you to compromise your ideas and principles so as to harmonize with theirs.
For everybody, the first step toward World Socialism is the development of a well-integrated and principled moral character. The chasm, between the sordid reality of “now” and the projected idealization of the desired “then,” is never a justification for surrendering to defeatism. We are only as good as we do.
I seek to be truthful, not popular. I aspire to be worthy, not acclaimed nor egotistical, even knowing how socially challenging and personally difficult achieving that can be. I cannot think of a better way to make an anonymous life significant, and fulfilling.
The Ukrainians are fighting for their lives, families, culture, personal honor and national independence, and we support them because their struggle is one of the sharpest points of conflict in the world today that is also for the defense of democracy, and of our own morally humane honor.
Frédéric Moreau, at “Madame Dambreuse’s house for one of her regular evening receptions” falls into conversation with a typical group of men of substance:
“Most of the men there had served at least four governments; and they would have sold France or the whole human race to safeguard their fortunes, to spare themselves the least twinge of discomfort or embarrassment, or simply out of mere servility and an instinctive worship of power.”
This last quote has stood out for me as perhaps the finest gem in Gustave Flaubert’s 1869 novel, ’Sentimental Education,’ a novel that is filled with literary gems. This characterization of self-interest by men of substance, members of the bourgeoisie, strikes me as timeless and absolutely true of such a large portion of the people of my time — male and female — in my American society, and across the entire political spectrum. That one phrase, about people being led, “simply out of mere servility and an instinctive worship of power” says it all about self-interest as pursued by moral cowards of shallow intellectual depth. And doesn’t our society reflect just that?
’Sentimental Education’ was, supposedly, Franz Kafka’s favorite novel. If so I can easily see why. Thinking about it always draws me deep in contemplation about my own emotional — “sentimental” — course through life.
Who am I? I cycle through each character in ‘Sentimental Education,’ though never quite fully in each case, vaguer, more tentative, more naïvely pathetic at times. Maybe that is good, and maybe unimportant.
I was an Arnoux, but never with sufficient confidence to be so flamboyantly foolish, my joys in beauty quieter and not philandering, my affections while Arnoux more guarded. But like Arnoux, I love my children with that same fatherly abundance of affection, which was also true of Dick Diver, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ’Tender is the Night.’
I was a Frédéric, but not so inconsistent, alternating between childish sentimentality and self-pity, and cynicism of hollow bravado, between fear of lack of acceptance locking him in lonely isolation, and fear of exposure to ridicule when displaying for public attention. I accept that one must make emotional commitments and maintain them if one is to have any hope of securing some personal stability, some personal peace. But one cannot expect too much from others, as all are overwhelmed by the dramas and trivialities of their own lives.
And for some years I was a Deslauriers, absolutely certain of his political acumen and of the ignorant injustice of the world to that amorphous anonymity of social clay called “the people,” and with intent to himself, though this is also so much envy railing out of frustration at the personal failure to stumble onto the good luck conveying one into the ranks of the perpetually rewarded and exclusively immunized.
I lack the stubbornness to entrench myself in bitter unawareness, so I will always fail to be an ideologue, as Sénécal was, that ultra-leftist extreme of Deslauriers’s mushy self-centered liberalism. Sénécals I know of: people of iron certainty, which they imagine — if even they do that — that such purity of conviction gives them a soul, but are absolutely devoid of human-heartedness. Though none of the Sénécals I know, or have ever known, have any physical courage to be little Stalins, all their iron is in words, all their actions less vaporous than electronic noise. The self-defense of an irrelevant ego’s self-righteousness can be so pathetic. I leave to all today’s Sénécals their clamor of competitive hungers for acclaim by the vacuous herds they aspire to lead.
And to have a Madame Arnoux, why conceive such an impossible dream?, of a barely older woman of compassionate maturity to mother over all your little boy insecurities, and elevate your self-respect by your possession of her exclusive devotion.
Much easier to find a girl as light-minded and youthfully gay as Rosanette, to grow into a reliably steady partner in a mundane joint life of pedestrian conformity — assuming she does not later deteriorate into borderline personality disorder as a luxury indulgence to compensate for aging, for out of such conventional joint lives are children most easily — and kindly — raised. And of such children it is the odd ones — not many — who can break free of the dullness they incubated in, to take flight in their own independence.
Love is pure tragedy for those who only want it to be pure sunshine.
“The trouble with ‘Sentimental Education’,” said Massingill, “is that you have to know so damn much in order to enjoy it.” “Do you think that novels should be devoid of historical facts, and cast off references?” “Absolutely!,” he replied, “a successful novelist knows how to write entertainment for completely empty minds. Anything else is a profitless pretension, that you would probably call art, in what is always a purely commercial enterprise: the selling of bound paper smudged with printed words.” I could see why Massingill was such a successful book publisher. I did not submit my manuscript.
In many ways I see similarities between F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘Tender is the Night’ and Gustave Flaubert’s ‘Sentimental Education.’ Both are about inner conflicts and inconsistencies about “love,” and both have richly detailed prose while also being “realistic.” For me, both are affecting and both are timeless.
Look into that lovely face, and imagine being Frédéric Moreau or Richard “Dick” Diver.
People believe what they want to believe so they can feel how they want to feel. Emotional reactivity is quick, and judging is easy. Rational deliberation is slow, and thinking is hard. So, the former is the instinctive and popular choice for seeking a favorable outcome in response to a present difficulty. The use of rational analysis by logical thinking based on objective data to understand reality is not the popular choice. Using the rational method to seek universally equitable moral outcomes, in terms of individually experienced benefits and individually assumed responsibilities, is the least popular use of the rational method of engagement with reality. The elimination of existential threats of global scope, or the most effective responses to attenuate them, can only be realized by the universal acceptance of the rational method guided by an equalizing morality. The quality of an individual’s moral character, and of a collective’s politics, can be determined by which of these factors dominate its composition. — And, from all of this we generate our futures.
I never thought that such a large proportion of people who call themselves “leftists,” and “socialists,” and “anti-imperialists” could be so inhumanly ideological, where their good opinions of themselves as morally superior beings could be automatically justified by the wars and mass murders inflicted on civilian populations by neo-fascist dictators and other imperialist regimes designated as opponents of “US hegemony” also “NATO expansionism,” by the ignorant magical thinking of these self-satisfied ideologues. I admit to being totally flabbergasted by this realization, made vivid in all the blathering broadcast about the war in Ukraine. What an incredibly inhuman bottom line: those civilians being oppressed, tortured, disappeared, gassed and bombarded, “deserve it,” because they stand in the way of the retention and expansion of power by those “opponents of US hegemony,” who are “defending themselves” (from US hegemony and NATO, of course) by doing all that oppressing, torturing, disappearing of “enemy” prisoners, gas bombing, artillery and aerial bombing, and military invasions of victimized civilian populations, and that “US hegemony” is THE ONLY and FUNDAMENTAL problem deserving of any opprobrium in the world. WOW!, talk about being brainwashed! Such ideologues are really “mental imperialists,” recreational leftists heartlessly consuming inconvenient foreign civilian populations so as to maintain the “exceptionalism” of their overweening self-regard: it is the self-righteousness of utter fools, and craven cowards. My pal and Vietnam War veteran, Stan, had told me: “There are some people you would want in your foxhole, and some you don’t.” If survival ever got that desperate for me, I would be sure not to have any of these ideological pseudo-“anti-imperialist” fools in my foxhole. But at least now I know much better where I stand with regard to everyone.
I grieve with you. And I grieve with you, Ukrainian widows and widowers and orphans and heartbroken lovers dropping your tears in the cold dusty blackened ruins of your invaded cities, towns and villages.
It is reported here, in the United States of America, that at least 7,000 to as many as 14,000 Russian soldiers have been killed during this first month (24 February – 24 March, 2022) of Russia’s — Vladimir Putin’s — invasion of Ukraine. So, sadly, there are now up to 14,000 more Russian families with new widows and newly heartbroken lovers grieving for their young men sacrificed in a war as the blood lubrication for the gears of the ponderous and plodding machinery tracking your would-be emperor’s ambitions of conquest and power into the fields and streets of Ukraine. And now all your young newly widowed Russian women, and newly bereft Russian mothers, are reliving the anguish and grief suffered by an older generation of Russian women whose young men were taken by the tragically disastrous Russian war in Afghanistan forty years ago, and many of those women may have been robbed of their chances to become happy grandmothers.
Who can doubt that on 24 February 2022, many Poles instantly thought of 1 September 1939, and 17 September 1939; and that many Danes, Norwegians, Belgians, Dutch and French instantly thought of April and May 1940; and that many Russians, along with Belarusians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, and Ukrainians instantly thought of 22 June 1941?
The trauma of a heartless dictator’s destructive invasion of your country to subjugate it as an exploitable colony and then carry out a campaign of continuous mass murder, is not soon dissipated from the historical memory of succeeding generations of those previously conquered nations, and the hollow feeling of seeing this happen again, two to three generations later during their young and modern 21st century lives, quickly steels the youth of those countries today into a resolve to fight off the invader and preserve their national independence, and national honor, and national pride. And such resolve can make them fight to the death because they feel sanctified by history and by the truest morality that every human of any age instinctively understands.
So your poor Russian soldiers are here at a great disadvantage, because as they awaken to any degree of the truth of their situation, they will know that they can not be justified and ennobled by any moral principles, they are just being used as expendable tools to perpetrate war crimes at the service of your Caesar, Putin’s imperial ambitions.
And I grieve with you because all the foreigners sympathetic to the plight of the Ukrainians, either because of resonant echoes of painful memories from their own national histories, or from simple emotional reactions against the outrageous injustices being inflicted on Ukraine, will contribute to efforts to resupply, rearm, fortify and accept refugees from Ukraine so it can continue, and hopefully win, its defensive war against the Russian military, and against Vladimir Putin’s inhuman ideology.
And I, too, am sympathetic to the Ukrainian cause. But this then means that my sympathy, along with many others whose sympathy is expressed as military assistance, will necessarily kill more Russian soldiers and create more Russian widows, and more bereft Russian mothers, fathers, and lovers. And I grieve that such increased pain to the Russian people is impossible to avoid with any effort to relieve the massive injustice and massive pain being inflicted on the Ukrainian people. I grieve that in being sympathetic to a people afflicted with a cruel and unjust invasive war, I am inextricably guilty of adding to the increasing grief of the Russian people whose young men are being consumed in that war.
During my youthful adult years, the United States was prosecuting its own massively unjust imperialistic war — against “communism” — in Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia. The Vietnamese simply wanted to unify their country, which was briefly liberated from both the French colonizers and Japanese imperialists during 1945, and continue as an independent nation free to use its natural resources and peasant agricultural economy for the well-being of its own people, and to be free to have their own Vietnamese rulers, both the honest ones and the pocket-lining corrupt ones as exist in every government, and to fashion their nation as a “communist” one, that is to say with some degree of beneficial collectivization, and some degree of insulated hierarchical power, which power and patronage pyramids are blemishes (or gaping sores) of every government everywhere, whether it calls itself “capitalist,” “democratic,” “socialist,” or “communist.”
My country, the United States, sent a Marine invasion in 1965 to prosecute a massive land war, and helicopter war, and aerial bombardment war in Vietnam till late 1972, which was continued by the Vietnamese troops of the South Vietnamese puppet government till it collapsed in April 1975. During the 13 years or so of direct U.S. military involvement in Vietnam (1962-1975, previously the U.S. had funded the French war to recolonize Vietnam, 1946-1954, after its liberation with the defeat of Japan in August 1945), the U.S. military sent in about 1 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and women nurses, whose collective work resulted in perhaps 2.5-3 million Vietnamese killed, and perhaps up to 3.5-4 million people killed in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, as sections of the latter two nations were also heavily bombarded and chemically defoliated).
Of those approximately 1 million U.S. military personnel that passed through Southeast Asia during the American war there, just over 58,000 of them were killed, and many thousands more suffered debilitating physical and psychological wounds that lasted, and are lasting, till their deaths.
The Vietnamese Communist Party, which was conducting its war of national liberation, and defensive war against American aggression against their unified communist national aspirations, was desperate to receive whatever foreign assistance it could get in the way of arms and humanitarian supplies to combat such an awesome enemy. It was “communist” Russia and “communist” China that supplied the better arms the Communist Party of Vietnam acquired to fight the Americans. The governments of Russia and China did this in part because of “communist solidarity,” but also in large part out of “superpower” — that is to say, imperialist — rivalry with the alternative capitalist empire of the Americans and their associated Western Allies.
I say “alternative capitalist empire” because both Russia and China were also basically capitalist but in the form of state-monopolized top-down command capitalism, instead of the American form of lightly regulated largely disorganized privatized capitalism that bought self-aggrandizing government influence and insulation from public responsibility and popular democracy. America’s “colonies” are foreign zones of extractive economic exploitation. The colonies of Russia’s empire — its zones of extractive economic exploitation by Kremlin leaders — were the captive nations within the U.S.S.R. (like Ukraine) as well as the captive nations within the East Bloc, behind what Winston Churchill called the “Iron Curtain.”
The Communist Party of China (its exclusive power and patronage pyramid and nomenklatura), like Russia, envisioned itself as an insular empire with internal colonies, stretching in the west from Xinjiang (with the oppressed Uyghurs, a Turkic and Islamic people) and Tibet (annexed by China in 1951, and Tibetans are a different ethnicity than the dominant Han Chinese) in Central Asia, east to the Pacific Ocean, north from what used to be called Manchuria (north of the Korean peninsula) to south with Hainan island in the South China Sea, and out to the still independent and very western-style capitalist Chinese island nation of Taiwan.
In the extremity of their situation during their thirty years of wars of national independence (1945-1975), the Communist Party of Vietnam could not concern itself with the multipolar superpower rivalries between the Chinese (whom they traditionally hated from previous centuries of conquests and oppression), the Russians who were using them as proxies to bleed the Americans in their Russian-American “Cold War,” and their own very immediate and massively destructive American invaders trying to force them to be “capitalists.” They took what arms and supplies and money they could get from sympathetic foreigners to keep their struggle for independence alive.
And such is the situation of the Ukrainians today, as it was for the Afghans during the 1980s when the United States supplied the Afghan Mujahideen with shoulder-fired anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile weapons, as the Americans sought revenge against the Russians for the very useful help (as with anti-aircraft missile systems) the Russians had rendered the Vietnamese Communists during the 1960s and early 1970s.
That United States policy for Afghanistan was initiated as a covert action by a Polish-American government official, Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928-2017), who was born in Warsaw and left Poland in 1938 as a 10 year old boy with his family when his Polish diplomat father was posted to Montreal, Canada. Brzezinski was obviously motivated by his memory of Stalin’s ravaging of his homeland, and not just by a desire to be of foreign policy service to the 1978 American government he had become a part of.
So from Stalin’s Red Army and NKVD in Poland in 1939, to Lyndon Johnson’s and Richard Nixon’s (and Henry Kissinger’s) U.S. military in Vietnam in 1962-1975, to Leonid Brezhnev’s and the Kremlin’s Russian military in Afghanistan during its war there from 1979 to 1989 (when the Berlin Wall fell), to now with the Russian-Ukrainian War, it has been tit-for-tat bleeding of each other by rival superpowers (that is to say, nuclear armed empires) using the wars of small nations struggling desperately to gain their freedom and independence. And it is the freedom and independence of those small nations that are the only morally justifiable aspects of this chained cycle of superpower vengeance by proxy, through wars of independence so cruelly destructive of and callously inflicted on the small nations that have to wage them.
While eventually the small nations, invaded and crushed by the murderous onslaughts of the huge wars prosecuted by the major world powers during the 20th century, gained varying degrees of freedom, independence, stability and prosperity, the one universal outcome of all those wars was the creation of many millions of dead, many millions of physically and mentally traumatized, and many millions of surviving widows, orphans, widowers, and bereft lovers.
That truth has been captured in many mournful songs of lament, and one that especially affects me is “High Germany” as sung by my younger daughter. Of course, it is the personal effect of hearing her lovely voice, besides just the sentiment of that Celtic ballad, that makes for such an emotional effect on me. Over a century ago, young men from Scotland, a Celtic nation conquered and absorbed by England in 1651 (and formally incorporated into the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707) were drafted into the English Army to go fight Germany during World War I. Young men from other Celtic territories earlier captured by the English (Wales, Cornwall, the Northern Counties of Ireland) were also sent a-soldiering for the British Crown. And 895,000 of those, mostly young men, from the United Kingdom died in WWI. As we know, there were also many wounded and traumatized veterans, and many grieving families and lovers of those lost, in fact a “Lost Generation.” It is the lingering heartbreak of such grief by the survivors of the powerless people sent to fight those wars by their imperial masters, that is the essence of that song.
And today those powerless pawns sent to bleed and die for their national Caesar’s ambition to reconstitute a rump insular neo-Stalinist empire by recapturing Ukraine (independent from 1991), are Russian soldiers, who like their American counterparts today are most likely in the military because of a paucity of decent good-paying civilian jobs.
The command structure of your Russian military is more attuned to Putin’s imperialistic ambitions, because like the American military command structure during the 1960s, they are careerists and have a triumphalist attitude gained by their facility at massively bombing unarmed and barely-armed civilian populations: Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian for the Americans, while Chechen and Syrian for the Russians.
Stopping these predatory wars by superpowers is so difficult because the perpetrating governments are largely immune from civilian humanitarian sentiments and popular democracy (naturally, they are empires), and only military mutinies and revolutionary changes of government can really stop their nation’s wars. Was this not so with the Russian Revolution in 1917?, and with the escalating military mutinies by U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen between about 1969 through 1972? Thoughtful Americans today are proud of their war resistors and protestors of the 1960s and 1970s, just as your thoughtful Russians will be proud in years to come of your brave war resistors and protestors today. If only such civilian resistance to their nation’s wars of choice were more effective at preventing and stopping them; and if only a greater portion of the militaries of our nations would revolt against prosecuting such wars of choice, and thus render the greatest service soldiers can render their nations’s people — the actual people.
But as with you in Russia, we here in the United States also have our thoughtless and inhuman people who define their allegiances not with humanity and its sufferings anywhere, but with their own selfish careerist ambitions couched as principled concerns for supra-human and exclusionary ideological political abstractions, which they like to imagine elevate their intellectual pretensions and ennoble their moral characters.
So among your Russians you have those who follow Vladimir Putin canard of seeking to “de-nazify” Ukraine, despite “the Putin regime’s own record of collaboration with far-right extremists. Even as Russian diplomats condemned ‘fascists’ in the Baltic states and Kremlin propagandists railed against imaginary ‘Ukronazis’ in power in Kyiv, the Russian state was cultivating its own homegrown Nazis” —
And we here in the United States have allies of that oligarchic-authoritarian anti-feminist, homophobic, White Supremacist ideology, and who have no sincere sympathy for Ukraine under attack, such as Donald Trump — our sociopathic narcissistic previous president who lauds Vladimir Putin whom he sees as mirroring his own ambitions — and the entirety of our Republic Party (and Abraham Lincoln would weep to see what has become of the party he was the first US president of).
But we here in the United States also have “leftists”and declared “socialists” who have no sincere sympathy with the Ukrainian people, because they are wrapped up in their self-delusions of themselves as highly enlightened anti-nazis, and “anti-imperialists,” by which they mean anti-US imperialism only, and that includes in their minds their idea of “NATO expansionism.” For them any “enemy of US imperialism and NATO expansion,” however despicable and murderously dictatorial they may be to their own people, such as Muammar Gaddafi was and Bashar al-Assad is, are worthy of their consideration and defense, because for them thwarting US imperialism (both actual and imagined) is always more important than forthrightly helping to relieve actual terrorized people of their murderous oppression by their tyrannical rulers.
Such ideological and thus effectively inhuman leftists myopically, and really narcissistically, see themselves as having a “higher purpose” like the journalist “Frank Pitcairn” who was a propaganda agent for Stalin during the Spanish Civil War and wrote dispatches for the Irish press that were pure lies intended to further Stalin’s campaign to betray the Socialist Revolution in Spain during 1937 in his effort to have his Communist cadres gain complete control of the Spanish Republican government. That cynical campaign by Stalin resulted in the tortures and murders by the NKVD of socialists and anarchists in Spain not controlled by Stalin, and thus sapped the strongest moral force fighting against Francisco Franco’s fascist revolt against the democratically elected Spanish Republican government.
Franco was backed militarily by Hitler and Mussolini, and economically by Great Britain. The Spanish proletarians who manned the most effective and motivated anti-fascist forces were organized as the Socialist and Anarchist militias fighting for proletarian dignity and economic independence within a projected Socialist Spain. Once the socialist national dream for Spain was violently quashed in May 1937 by the combined forces of Stalin’s organs of repression and Spanish Communist troops directed from the Kremlin, and the military forces of the anti-Francoist Spanish bourgeoisie, the spirit animating the defense of the Spanish Republic dissipated and the war ended in a terrible defeat in 1939, followed by almost four decades of Francoist dictatorship during which more Spanish anarchists, socialists, communists and republicans were executed than had been killed during the Civil War itself.
I had a grand-uncle who was a violinist with a pre-war Spanish symphony orchestra, who was jailed for a time by Franco after 1939 for being an opponent of the regime — a classical violinist! So, I have an animus to the “Frank Pitcairn” types, the self-declared and comfortable Western leftists who defend rather than decry tyrants who oppress, torture, disappear, gas and bomb their unarmed civilian populations seeking reforms against their government’s oligarchic corruption, and for their own democratic participation in charting their nation’s course, because those Frank Pitcairn types are consumed with approval-seeking (from Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s, and from like-minded internet audiences today) and burnishing their own self-delusions of having superior worthiness as politically advanced and thus presumably morally elevated “US-only anti-imperialists.” Their lovingly satisfying gazing into their own self-referential mirrors are not to be interrupted by any concerns for the sufferings of actual people being killed by dictators and regimes nominally opposed to “US imperialism,” and so those oppressed populations, by “anti-imperialist” ideologically necessary definition, “deserve it” because they are Nazis in Ukraine, and al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria.
All the arguments by these “anti-imperialists” boil down to a defense of how they wish to think of themselves, regardless of how many foreign civilians have to be murdered (by approved of foreign “anti-imperialist” potentates) to preserve that self-image. And Vladimir Putin’s organs of disinformation and propaganda gleefully use these Western “anti-imperialist” poseurs to help perpetrate his many war crimes since 2000, when he gained power, and most recently in Syria and Ukraine.
So I now find that I am more isolated politically than I used to believe was possible, because the “leftist community” that I identified with and once imagined was at least unified by some wonderful human-centered principles of solidarity by class — the “working class,” “the proletariate,” “the voters,” “the people,” as opposed to the wealth and power classes of oligarchs and “capitalists” and corporations and “nomenklatura type” politicians — a human-centered solidarity that cut across national boundaries and ethnic differences, has been vividly exposed by the war in Ukraine to be irredeemably fractured between Frank Pitcairn type rigid ideologues of very selective anti-imperialism and of inconsistent sympathy with oppressed populations, and George Orwell type inconsistent ideologues for anti-imperialism, with consistent sympathy for oppressed populations. The essence here is whether one identifies with one or another of the power pyramids engaged in the “multipolar” (one of Putin’s favorite words in his apologetics of his imperialism) rivalry between the major power pyramids, or “superpowers,” vying for greater control of world populations and their economics, or whether one identifies indiscriminately with “the workers” and the actual “ordinary” people of the world, who universally want safe, secure, decently prosperous and not exploited lives for themselves and their families in stable democratic non-contending nation-states.
What we really need in the world today is for NATO to expand globally to encompass EVERY country on Earth: every nation pledged to come to the immediate aid and defense of any nation that happens to experience a crisis or catastrophe, be it of political origins like a military invasion or a civil war brought on my dictatorial megalomania, or a catastrophe of natural origins like a tsunami, an earthquake, floods, crop failures and famine, or Climate Change.
Global Warming Climate Change (GWCC) is a pernicious geophysical positive feedback loop of negative consequences for planetary habitability, being a human caused and accelerated effect driven by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (primarily methane) exhausted from the burning of fossil fuels used to generate the heat-energy that powers so much of “our” capitalist and militarist and imperialist ambitions. The only way GWCC can be slowed and eventually stopped before it makes organized human life — human civilization — impossible because of the heat-induced onslaught of many irreversible and catastrophic environmental changes, is for an internationally cooperative and unified and permanently sustained maximum effort to quickly abandon the use of fossil fuels everywhere, and to power all human activities from naturally sustainable sources such as by solar, wind, hydrological and geothermal power.
Such an internationally integrated worldwide anti-GWCC effort would necessarily define a new reality of World Socialism: “all for one and one for all.” The transformation of one’s own country for a Post-Carbon World, along with its assistance offered to and cooperation given with other countries engaged in their own self-transformations to the post-carbon paradigm, would necessarily be leveling socialist economic revolutions nationally and globally. Both the “communist” labeled command-capitalist oligarchies and the “capitalist” labeled corporate “free market” oligarchies would have had to fall away in favor of a broad socialism centered on meeting the human needs of Earth’s people, for a planetary anti-GWCC effort to be able to be mounted and to succeed.
And it is because I now see the emergence of such a planetary anti-GWCC world socialism as impossible that I also grieve. That “impossibility” solely exists because of the obduracy and pettiness of a vast portion of humanity’s minds, even among minds in our communities of supposedly most politically enlightened people (according to themselves): our socialists, and safely comfortable Western recreational “leftists,” people who cannot bring themselves to support the assistance — from whatever quarter possible even NATO — to small national populations struggling desperately against murderous onslaughts from their dictatorial rulers like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and from invasive imperialistic foreign juggernauts like Vladimir Putin in Syria and in Ukraine.
If we cannot all see the moral universality of human struggles against anti-democratic oppression and against the losing of personal freedoms, of national independence, and of life itself for so many, then we will never be able to prevent our fractious selves from destroying our planet’s habitability through our competitively myopic escalation of Anthropogenic Climate Change.
So I grieve for the human pawns being sacrificed to advance tyrannical and imperial ambitions, for the many widows, orphans, widowers and bereft lovers who survive, for a while, those human pawns sacrificed on the chess boards of ambitious narcissistic potentates, and I grieve for my lost illusions about leftist communities and socialist potentialities, and I grieve for a world I think is hopelessly beyond salvation — by choice.
Believe me, I fervently wish history would prove me wrong, and soon.
And I hope Ukraine wins its defensive war, soon.
And ideology be damned: human solidarity is everything.
It is essential reading to understand what is going on today — everywhere but especially in Eastern Europe (and Ukraine in late February 2022). Also essential to help one overcome the tendency to become a robotic mindless “anti American imperialist” who is quite happy to “virtue signal” their ideological purity and supposedly higher moral standards (from the comfort and safety of our First World ‘homelands’) by acceding to the sacrifice of any victim population (Ukrainians, Syrians, Palestinians, Libyans, Uyghurs…) that any tin pot dictator, autocrat or “power pentagon,” who promotes himself/itself as “socialist” and a stalwart fighting against “American imperialism,” wants to conquer, crush, displace and enslave economically (and even worse).
Certainly being against imperialism — American or otherwise — is to the good, but we Western safely anti-imperialists must absolutely never accept the sacrifice of another people’s right to safe national independence, in order to signal our anti-imperialist “moral purity.” NATO has expanded into Eastern Europe precisely because Eastern Europeans vividly remember how much their nations suffered under the Russians (for about a century most recently), and they want insurance policies against such catastrophes in the future, even if the insurance company selling those policies — NATO — is itself far from perfect, or “socialist” or “enlightened.”
The essential and fundamental point is to honor and protect the right of all people to safe lives within independent states of THEIR OWN choosing.
“The lands of today’s Ukraine were the center of both Stalinist and Nazi killing policies throughout the era of mass killings. Some 3.5 million people fell victim to Stalinist killing policies between 1933 and 1938, and then another 3.5 million to German killing policies between 1941 and 1944. Perhaps three million more inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine died in combat or as an indirect consequence of the war.” — [Timothy Snyder, ‘Bloodlands’, p404] — The 1939 population of the Ukraine was 32,425,000 [total morality over 11 years = 31%].
The biggest neo-nazi center in Eastern Europe today is actually Putin and his band of oligarchs, who want to recreate the Tsarist/Stalinist Russian Empire. Don’t let yourself become a useful idiot to them and others like them because you want to unintelligently and reflexively preen your “leftist” anti-capitalist, anti-imperialism-by-the-U.S., and anti-NATOism ideological purity for your own self-satisfaction. Camus said to identify with the victims, not the perpetrators, and that is the best guide to your allegiances with humanity.
27 February 2022
ON DELUSIONAL “LEFTISTS” (not the real ones like Louis Proyect):
“I really don’t understand ‘leftists’ who dance around the fact that Putin is a dangerous kleptocratic goon. Makes no sense to me. They act like what he’s doing isn’t equivalent to other imperialistic incursions.” — [my friend E.]
They are stuck in their self-regard as “anti-imperialists”, and feel “brave” because they oppose US war-making and imperialism (as am I: opposed not brave), and so reflexively “pro-Russian” (pro-Soviet) as a mental inertia from the glory days of the Russian Revolution (1917-1922, the euphoria of John Reed’s ‘Ten Days That Shook The World’ — a great book), and for the worst of them (the most pathetic) as a lingering unthinking indoctrination to Stalinism.
“To believe that great suffering must be associated with great progress is to accept a kind of hermetic masochism: the presence of pain is a sign of some immanent or emergent good. To advance this sort of reasoning oneself is hermetic sadism: if I caused pain, it was because there was a higher purpose, known to me. Because Stalin represented the politburo which represented the central committee which represented the party which represented the working class which represented history, he had a special claim to speak for what was historically necessary. Such a claim allowed him to absolve himself of all responsibility, and to place the blame for his failings upon others.” — [Snyder, ‘BLOODLANDS’, p401]
The “most pathetic” include the lunkheads who gained instantaneous engineering-physics PhD’s watching the flaming NYC Twin Towers collapse on TV (11 September 2001) and within milliseconds knew that G.W.Bush and Dick Cheney had tiptoed up and down staircases in the World Trade Center buildings the weekend before, planting cakes of C4 timed to go off (forget the planes) and let them go on to conquer the world. The “most pathetic” also include the equally turgid-minded pseudo leftists who, in the comfort of their own safe First World consumerist-internet lives, swell with righteous pride by thrilling to the rush of their inner Stalin, as above, in accepting the pain of remote anonymous “others” because there is a higher purpose known to them as vanguards of the working class, which represents history, so these cadres have a special claim (within their own minds) “to speak for what was historically necessary” and absolve themselves of all responsibility, placing the blame for the obvious failings of their delusions upon others.
In pointing all this out I am sincerely trying to be a good friend (like when calling a cab at 1 AM to prevent a buddy from driving home drunk from the bar you both favor). But, I am forthright about stating what I see as true, because otherwise I would not be a good friend. Since that independence is important to me, I accept becoming friendless, and being “unfriended.” Substance over superficiality, always.
Let me tell you something. You may have a wife, or husband, or somebody you’re legally married to, and maybe also parents, and children, or family people you have dependent on you, and you fret, you worry, and anticipate that they may tangle you up in another drama or crisis or legal or emotional mess, and it may drag on and on and on, and weigh you down, and suck up your time, and drain your bank account, and eat up your paychecks, and gobble up you house, and you just want to figure out how to plan for a smooth getaway without sacrificing your love of your needing ones or making you feel guilty about betraying them, and no government, or bank, or church, or relatives, or EMTs, or hospital, or friends, which don’t actually exist, are going to land johnny-on-the-spot like Superman or Batman and rescue you when the disaster finally strikes and knocks you flat, because everybody else is in the same suspended hazard as you are and has no slack in their lives to worry about anybody else, or they are filthy rich and making book on the general misery so no way are going to be sympathetic to nobodies like you, and so you ask yourself: will I and my people be okay?, will we make it smoothly all the way?, can I just get a clear sign not to worry?, can I know that all will be safe?, can I be sure that they won’t wig out? So, let me tell you the truth: everybody — is — fucking — nuts. Count on it. Best you can do is be ready to jump to it when the shit hits the fan, and to dance with the disaster without freaking out, and let go of what you’ll need to accept is being ripped off from you, and forget having anyone care about your personal emotional drama on it all, or about getting the right mood pills and needles to cocoon you in evaporating amnesias, because there’s no out from the zone for you however much you would like to think there is, and you’ll need to do all that letting go so you can keep going on and keep as much of your sanity as you can manage, without giving up. So that’s the truth: there’s no hope and don’t give up. Maybe you’ll win life’s lottery and all will be fine, just don’t plan on it. Maybe it’s all part of God’s Plan for you to bring you a deeper truth out of a world of pain, well that’s all bullshit for suckers so forget it: nothing good comes out of pain and suffering, at best there is only relief if and when it stops. And after that, recovery?, well that’s just good luck; bad luck is called “relapse,” end of parole, back in the slammer, yeah you were framed, wasn’t everybody? But aren’t some people guilty because they’re stupid? Yeah well, everybody’s stupid to some degree or other, and face it we have all decided that we have to die way sooner than we really have to because we have to stay stupid, we must, because that is who we are. We call that freedom, rights, comfort, even religion. See what I mean: stupid. So there you have it: everybody’s fucking nuts, you live in their insane asylum, there’s no way out and we’re all going to die alone together from now until the cows come home. There’s no hope, just don’t let it get you down, and don’t give up. Might as well enjoy the show. Now, can I get an “amen?” Oh, and don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe”!
White Supremacy will end with human extinction. The angry rage of conservatives and fundamentalists, in the face of godless skepticism, is really an anguished cry of: “don’t make us question our bigotry!” For working class people who can’t think better, White Supremacy is a psychological compensation for an inferiority complex. That complex is learned from infected parents, and indoctrinated into one by a capitalist class society intent to exploit and enslave people by controlling their minds with a programming for obedience to higher authority, a sense of inadequacy and neediness, and with race- and ethnicity-based prejudice, to cause disunity among the great mass of the working class. Working class white supremacists are simply abused children passing on their abuse to younger generations and lower seniority workers and employees: ignorant slaves seeking to compensate for their hidden lack of self-respect by trying to depreciate and enslave others “below them”. The capitalist upper class propagates this mass psychology illness of low self-esteem, neediness and bigotry, because it is the method by which the union of the rich few control the disunion of the poor many. “Divide and conquer” was how the Roman Empire was ruled, and so with America today. Ending White Supremacy before human extinction occurs would require a Marxist Revolution to full Communism. A first step to that political goal is Labor Union organizing so the Labor Union Movement expands to the point of controlling the national economy. Then a Social Revolution can occur, which ends all interpersonal prejudices. Such a political-social progression is the only way militarism-imperialism can be overcome, and Climate Change finally seriously confronted. Such a Paradigm Shift is deemed “impossible” by capitalist indoctrination in the Slave Mind. And it may be unlikely in your lifetime, but that does not prevent you from working toward that Paradigm Shift — The Revolution — beginning with your own transformation out of Slave Mind, and then with the activism and organizing you may choose to do. The Revolution is not merely a desired socio-political event at some time in the future during the course of human history, it is a living process carried within the individual lives of people who have freed themselves from Slave Mind, and by their living examples push back against the oppressors’s imposition of Slave Mind and its White Supremacy illness, even onto the last day of human existence if that is to be our collective fate. Be joyful in your freedom.
Quantum mechanics is the condensation of existence out of nothingness, which statistics coalesce into continuity and causality, to roil as an ocean of heat that expands into entropy dissipating all memory into a fathomless frigidity of unbeing. God is in the hopes and hubris of man, Goddess is in the anxieties and emergent life by woman, the Afterlife is the Afterdeath of Consciousness dissolved and reabsorbed. Humanity will flourish to the extent it is generous, and it will perish to the extent that it is selfish, enlightenment is to know, salvation is to do, every Heaven is ringed by its necessary Hell of exclusion. Your only glory can be to light a brief candle in the eternal dark, whose afterglow carried in your heart would be your peace on sinking back into the emptiness. Reincarnation is the eruption of knowing from unknowning, the birth of future and past embraced, to diverge on each side of present until they merge once again into the embrace of nonexistence. Wisdom is the glare of sunlight streaming through a rain-bejewelled forest onto the eyes of dreamers lost in their shimmering illusions, moonlight shattered into sparkling ripples on the dark sea of night breathing silence, the entwined songs of life eddying and cascading, rivers to the sea, rains to the mountains, I am all that can be: a moment of the fountain.
We are fleshy knots of emotion peppered with thought all woven into the great web of life connecting each to all even in their loneliness of free will to be enthralled by the illusion of gaining isolated protective power by saying yes to the extinction of others without ever letting that mirage evaporate to reveal ourselves as those others. Perhaps it is best to let everyone spin in their self-referential bubbles of dramatic trivialities designed to produce personal destinies of terminations in helpless surprise, if for all our deepest commitments are to avoid knowing ourselves in reality so as to hide from responsibility for not acting to stop destroying our world by that willful unknowing. So, I am silent. Life has no purpose if it has no end, but we would have no grace if we ended life by clinging to our delusions as purposes. So once awakened we go on through life’s void of meaning till that end is imposed on us because to stop before then is to defeat ourselves by letting that void rob us of the only purposes we could ever possibly have in reality: honor with compassion, beauty with truth, adventure with love. And in that way we achieve meaning in our own times, being passing grace notes in the eternal void.