Postcards from Ecotopia

old new lefty

old new lefty
alienation, discontent
September 16
Making trouble whenever possible
virgin novelist, middle school teacher for the morally handicapped, government bureaucrat, most famous unknown photographer in LA, PhD dropout, coat hanger sorter, presidential campaign worker, sewer worker, and retired guy -- but not in that order.


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MARCH 31, 2012 7:38AM

A Parable for the Future

Rate: 14 Flag

Lawrence of Arabia in the 1920s as a Royal Air Force mechanic

I've always been a sucker for Lawrence of Arabia.  Maybe because I was at an impressionable age at that time, and maybe  it's because I saw one of the greatest and most influential movies in history.  But  Thomas Edward Lawrence has always been a talisman for me. He played a critical role in freeing Arabs from the dominance of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, but his aspirations for true Arab freedom were betrayed by the machinations of the Versailles Conference where Lawrence's idealism (and insanity) ran into the buzzsaw of practical European politics.

 Most interesting about Lawrence was the fact that he gave up worldwide fame to become an obscure aircraft repairman in the Royal Air Force under an assumed name in the 1920s.  I never figured out why this happened, and my wife gave me a novel about Lawrence entitled The Waters of Babylon: A Novel About Lawrence After Arabia by David Stevens.

 Frankly, I wasn't totally into it until he wrote his chapters about Afghanistan. Then I was pretty much gobsmacked, because guess what?  The Afghanistan he described then is exactly the Afghanistan that NATO forces are in today!  And why should the Americans think that they'll do any better at stabilizing that godforsaken country than Alexander the Great and whatever other "conquerers" that followed him for 2500 years?

But I'm not writing about Afghanistan in this blog.  I'm writing about the United States of America.  I'm going to give you an excerpt from this book that describes  an attempted radical makeover of that country by the .00056% of the elite.  I don't even know whether this is fact or fiction, but it seems totally appropriate for the times we're living in now, particularly if the Supreme Court overrules the Affordable Care Act.

Every day, it seemed, brought a new and ever more dangerous decree. Amanullah's photograph was to be hung in public buildings, which was as blasphemy to the funadmentalists.  No one was required to kiss the amir's ring, which was shocking to the traditional families, an affront to their own authority.  The veil was no longer required of women, and girls were ordered to attend school.  Polygamy, sanctioned by the holy book, the Koran, was forbidden to government officials.  The Sabbath was to be celebrated on Thursday, not Holy Friday.  The mullahs, the fount of all religious teaching, the Keepers of the faith, were stripped of their positions of power and packed off to remote monasteries.  Even the atheist Russian ambasssador, a hard-liner when it came to social reform, was shocked by the audacity and range of the social changes and cautioned his government against too much generosity to the amir.

"It must explode," Sir Francis told Constance, "All it needs is a match to light the fuse. "

The fuse was lit, but it was a slow one.

And in America, we've seen a Supreme Court ignore total sections of the Constitution to select George W. Bush as president.  We've seen the 1% get richer and richer in this recession / depression, while the 99% have seen their income drop.  Citizens United v. FEC was a license for the ultrarich to buy and sell democracy at will, and now we're waiting to see what parts of health care will be denied to 40,000,000 Americans after Congress and the executive branch put forward a flawed  but viable compromise that would actually do something about an ever growing social and economic problem.

Boys and girls, it's not necessary for me to advocate the violent overthrow of the United States government and the destruction of the middle class.  The Koch brothers, the lobbyists, the shills bought and paid for by the Federalist Society, and the con boys of the Supreme Court (among others) are doing a perfectly adequate job of this, and we're all just along for the show as passive observers and commentators.



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Apt and relevant in these times Lefty.
As long as there are only passive commentators, pissed off or otherwise, nothing will change.
thanks . . . To: old new lefty

Keeper . . . thanks for parables.
Parables are written to reveal.
Parables hides and can conceal.
Parables can reveal. ay Beauty.
Abel's Bride - Denise Levertov
Woman fears for men, he goes
out alone to his labors, No mirror
nest in his pocket.His face
opens and shuts with his hopes.
His sex hangs unbidden
or rises before him
blind and questing.

She thinks herself
lucky. But sad. When she goes out
she looks in the glass, she remembers
herself. Stones, coal,
the hiss of water upon the kindled
branches - her being
is a cave, there are bones at the hearth.
Thanks for news through your eyesight.
The sold-out media-scribes bewilder me.
If I sense delusion and falsehood I groan.
Lefty...meaningful thinking and work...Me too..."a sucker for Lawrence of Arabia'...Me..."just along for the show as passive observer and commentator.."

You...excellent thinking and writing..I couldn't agree more with Jan also.. "As long as there are only passive commentators, pissed off or otherwise, nothing will change"..Said it all...but with what strength to fight ..when we try to find the strength of just,simρle being..

Rated with best regards and wishes..A needed article..
So how do we change a system so seriously rigged against us? We've let the fox run the henhouse for too long and believed the flimflam artist when he said it was to our benefit. And there are still too many people who refuse to admit that our government doesn't care about them at all. It's nice that hope springs eternal, but whatever happened to working for the common good?
I always want to rate the relevance of the comments Lefty.
These are all good ones on this.

Jan, you got this quote of the day:
As long as there are PASSIVE commentators...100%
I always want to rate the relevance of the comments Lefty.
These are all good ones on this.

Jan, you got this quote of the day:
As long as there are PASSIVE commentators...100%
Anybody who cares for his chickens doesn't try to persuade foxes. As much as I like wild animals I would have to resort to more forceful techniques to protect chickens.
Hopefully everyone is not a "passive commentator".
Well, as a longtime TEL fan (hence my screen name, which comes from that Brough Superior he's on), I might quibble with the "insanity" assessment, but I won't: He was somewhat unhinged by the betrayals. Check out the post I wrote about him a couple of years ago if you've a mind to.

I'd be interested in reading a novelisation of his life though, so maybe I'll look that one out. I've read and re-read all the non-fiction I can get my hands on, including his own -- and especially "The Mint".

As for Afghanistan, nothing has changed since Alexander's time, as the Brits found out in the 19th century and we're finding out now. Belatedly.
Here's to Afghanistan, graveyard of empires...
Let's try and be positive here, okay? At least we've all got front row seats.
Lawrence of Arabia is a great tale. And what Jan Sand said. Excellent piece, L. R
First, if your party has a sitting president, you don't need veto proof majorities. Second, the Democrats didn't have veto proof majorities; had a Republican been in the White House, he would have been able to veto; a veto proof majority is over a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress.

The Democrats did not even have a safe majority in the Senate. The 6oth Senator, Al Franken, wasn't seated until July 2009. Kennedy died late Aug. 2009. Plus there were blue dogs and holdouts like Ben Nelson to contend with. Apparently the Republican party authoritarian regime used to force lock-step compliance from it's obedient soldiers eliminates the problem of reps with a tendency to think for themselves.

Too bad; if some of them had been free human beings rather than slaves to party orthodoxy they could have exercised the intelligence to realize, as Romney did while governor of Massachussetts that Obamacare was a reasonable compromise that did not unnecessarily change the existing markets, and it could have had reasonable bi-partisan support, as it was designed to do.

What would your plan have been to transition the private health insurance industry to....nothing? Do you know what the costs would have been, and how many employees would have been laid off? How long would it have taken? Well...I didn't think so.

The structure of Obamacare was an inclusive consensus on what was practical economically and politically. It solves many important problems, and, regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, it is clearly constitutional and only controversial because people don't understand it. The right wing are effective propagandists, aka liars (not hard when you have a huge captive audience that has been brainwashed into believing that the only truth to be found is on FOX.)

There are scenarios where Obamacare could transition us slowly to a single payer system. For example, if later a public option is instituted to compete with the private insurers on the exchanges, and if the employer provided insurance starts to transition to individual insurance on the exchanges, then if the public option is a successful single payer "startup" that gradually takes over a large portion of market share on the exchanges, we would only be a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from single payer insurance.
no violence is really needed.
just a "soft revolution".
of all damn places, i got this phrase from an (ancient) Doors lp
cover. Insinuate.
Good sense. Decency. The clearing.

The clearing is the Heideggarian term for the Place of being.

Where the I meets a Thou, not an It.


Passivity pursued to absurdity is what Socrates would prescribe.

Bring back Socrates.

If that guy Jesus hadn't imitated him by getting executed
(in a much more garish way)
we would be worshipping

that method...

he went after the "youth", tried to change their heads.

parable from the past:
his life ..

"Oh dear Pan and all the other Gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him.
Socrates' prayer, Phaedrus, 279
[r] well said, as usual.

In some countries drones ZAP people instantly to red mist and bombs THUNDER AND RUIN AND KILL, A-K47s and oozies shove up against the citizenry to threaten or kill them straight away or chemicals and mines linger to kill incrementally, especially children. Rapes. Starvation. Displacement. Innocents or vile people of conscience are spirited away to be tortured and detained forever or long enough to cause serious psychological damage, horror to the spirit. Violent intimidation and murder gets the point across, removes a current, former internationally sovereign, regime, with lots of dead or surviving traumatized bodies and spirits. MERCILESS AND BLOODY SHOCK AND AWE OPPRESSION.

American citizenry just clicks on the tube to have its spirit and its democracy snuffed out.

How tidy for the cannibal kleptocrats.

best, libby
The concept that the maniacs in charge of the world and almost all that is valuable within it can be gently led into peaceful oblivion is one of the most idiotic illusions now prevalent. Their daily appetite for obliterating even the mildest hints of stunting their voracious appetites for wealth and control is observable in even the most moderate observations of the rapes and murders and all sorts of mayhem on helpless victims reported in perverted ways as the battles for decency and freedom screamed raucously in all the tightly controlled media. These maniacs have to be forcibly expelled as the human excrement they are and that type of action can, in no way, be gentle.
I don't ordinarily agree with Jan but I do on this. You can't have a functioning country when a few people have all the money, which is exactly where we're going, faster and faster. Just like Third World countries - completely polarized wealth.

What I didn't get until recently was something Paul Krugman pointed out. I thought that Republicans were, at least nominally, against interference in private lives. I had it very wrong. It isn't the interference that bothers them, it's that the Government is involved in it. They're perfectly happy with interference as long as it's privatized, at which point it becomes infinitely more dangerous because, with the private sector, we don't have recourse. The military, the prison system, we're watching as more of these functions become privatized, at which point the name of the game will be to defend the profits generated by these at all costs, even if it means imprisoning most of America. That's where we're going.
we're changing things...I have to believe it! I'm so glad to read you again Lefty ~
I was always a bit of a "sucker" for "el Aurens" myself. Read Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in college and was fascinated how this introvert nevertheless held power over others. I was intrigued by Lawrence's alienation from his own society and infatuation with another. The chapter "Myself" was particularly interesting as a window into that alienation. Lawrence always seemed caught between worlds -- whether between English and Arab societies, or between his desire for fame and involvement at the same time that he was temperamentally isolated from his fellow human beings. That explains why he spent so much of his life as a recluse, perhaps the price he had to pay for the fame he could not handle and never should have sought given the kind of personality he was.