Polish-Canadians, Searching for a Voice (part 2)

Polish_Canadian_op_735x669

Polish-Canadians, Searching for a Voice (part 2) 

Mark Wegierski continues his analysis

Despite the fact that there are over a million persons of Polish descent in Canada, the community appears to have had very little impact on the political, social, and cultural life of Canada as a whole.

During May 10 — May 13, 2012, I attended the conference “Creative Writing in the 21st Century: Research and Practice” at Humber College, Lakeshore Campus in Toronto, in Etobicoke, a western suburb of Toronto. Located among many acres of green space near Lake Ontario, that campus is especially lovely in the late spring/early summer. Most of the sessions of the conference took place in a large, brand new building that has just been raised on the grounds of what was previously (many years ago) a major psychiatric facility. Several, very solidly built, red brick “cottages” on the site have also been refurbished into school buildings. The campus also includes an old teacher’s college building towards the west, to which new additions and a large students’ residence complex, have been added.

The conference was organized by the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP – or “quip”). One of the sessions was entitled “Writing Eastern Europe: Invisibility, Myths, and the Canadian Perspective”. The three panelists were Andrew J. Borkowski, author of the short story collection Copernicus Avenue, a slightly fictionalized version of Roncesvalles Avenue in west-end Toronto which won the 2012 Toronto Book Award; Eva Stachniak, the author of (most recently) a work of historical fiction about Catherine the Great of Russia that is charting on the bestseller lists; and Antanas Sileika, the author of, amongst other works, the novel Underground about the anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania, who is the Director of the Humber School for Writers, and who was one of the main organizers of the conference. All three authors presented highly insightful ideas about Eastern Europeans and their place in Canada. One thing noted was the great sense of tragedy in that part of Europe – where “death was ever present”. And death in fact extended to virtually all groups in those societies. Another point was that most Canadians knew virtually nothing about Eastern Europe. (Although some Poles prefer to say they are from Central Europe, or East-Central Europe, the term Eastern Europe has persisted, especially in some Canadian milieu.) A third major point was that Eastern Europeans had produced very few writers in the general tapestry of “CanLit”. While South Asian and East Asian writing had definitely emerged in Canada, where was the writing by persons of Eastern European descent? My long-standing notions about the lack of saliency of Polish-Canadians in Canada were certainly confirmed by the esteemed panelists.

 Andrew J Borkowski

Andrew J Borkowski

Professor Eva Stachniak is probably the most prominent writer of Polish descent in Canada – having achieved considerable success in “CanLit” – and now more generally also in America and Britain. She arrived in Canada in 1981. She completed her doctoral thesis in English literature at McGill in 1988, on the positive philosophy of exile in Stefan Themerson’s fiction. Themerson wrote mostly in English after settling in Britain after World War II. Stachniak published her first English-language short story, “Marble Heroes”, in the Maritimes-based Canadian literary magazine Antigonish Review, in 1994. Her first published novel Necessary Lies (2000) won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award. It was a somewhat angst-filled look at the heritage of Wroclaw.

Stachniak’s second novel, Garden of Venus (2005) is about the extraordinary eighteenth-century woman who, from humble Greek origins, became Countess Sophie Potocka. This is one of those amazing real-life stories that would seem improbable if it were fiction. The book has appeared in translation in a number of languages, including Polish. Stachniak’s more recent book is The Winter Palace (2012) – a vivid portrait of Catherine the Great – which has received high accolades, and has been charting on the bestseller lists. Professor Stachniak spent many years of research to get the historical details just right. Her second novel on Catherine the Great, The Empress of the Night, was released in 2014.

While stylistically brilliant and superbly researched, one could say that Eva Stachniak’s writing is not too heavily “engaged” in the current-day Polish cultural struggle. The infelicitous context today is of tendencies ever more hostile to traditional Polish understandings – even in Poland itself – let alone in Western Europe and North America. Could it be hoped that this might create a sense of urgency among at least some Polish writers? I also do realize that if Professor Stachniak were to become too heavily “engaged”  she would likely become less welcome in “CanLit”. It should be noted that some of the English-language interviews she has conducted (and subsequently published) – for example, the one with Andrew J. Borkowski – have been tremendously insightful and helpful.

Professor Stachniak had difficulty publishing her historical novel about the exiled Polish Romantic poet Zygmunt Krasinski (a contemporary of Mickiewicz, Slowacki, and Norwid) and two women in his life, Delfina Potocka and Eliza Krasinska, which she originally wrote in English. So she was able to have it translated into Polish, and it appeared with relative success in Poland, under the title “Dysonans” (Dissonance, 2009). I think, however, that the portrait of Krasinski in the novel is none too flattering.

Eva Stachniak has received a Turzanski Foundation literary award, for the years 2011-2012, but, unfortunately for Polish-Canadian writing endeavours, those were (as of Spring 2015) actually the last years in which the awards have been given. After my query, the President of the Turzanski Foundation informed me in an e-mail in the spring of 2015 that there is currently a hiatus in the giving out of the awards. I would guess that this is because of financial difficulties at the Foundation.

While attending the conference in May 2012, I met (amongst others) the noted research scientist Beverly Akerman, the author of The Meaning of Children. I told her about my unpublished science fiction, alternative-history short story titled “Blueprint Retro”, whose premise was “Hitler thwarted earlier”. As a trained historian, I was hopefully able to plausibly construct that alternative-history. We noted in conversation that that historical outcome would have been good for Poland – and not just for Poland.

Now that immigration from Poland has shrunk to a trickle, the Polish-Canadian community is set to become an ever-thinner slice of the Canadian population, while so-called visible minorities are likely to become an even larger percentage. The fact is that, for the vast majority of persons of Polish descent, the “affect” of their putative identity is far less than for those other groups. An increase in the number of Polish-Canadian authors in “CanLit” – or in English-language literature in general – could perhaps alter that.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and historical researcher. He was born in Toronto of Polish immigrant parents

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Two poems by Liam Guilar

Two Poems by Liam Guilar 

Merlin to the Lady of the Lake

And so it happed him to com to the roche theras the Lady of the Lake had put Merlyon undir the stone, and there he herde hym make a great dole. (Malory)

lake bala

Loneliness is its own acoustic,
a sealed cave beneath the riven self
where the mind turned chief inquisitor,
probes the flayed nerve,
as though a scream
authenticates an answer.

Is any Helen worth her Troy,
or Guinevere a Camelot? Ask
the hacked knights cluttering
the fields round Camlann.
They’ll say I was an old man
drooling for a leggy blonde.
What’s age to do with it?
Lust’s a straight line;
love’s confusion.

I accepted my infatuation
refused the self-protective lie,
admitted just how much and how
I wanted you. Yes, yes, I
risked being one more clichéd fool
against the baffling possibility
of happiness with you. But each day
face to face with your indifference?

        ********** 

Monologue For Two Voices

Voice 1 is alive Now. Voice 2 is an officer on Sir John Franklin’s final expedition in 1845. Sometimes alternating, sometimes sharing lines, each thinks he is the only speaker and at no point does one address the other.

arctic ice

The way she turned to go then paused,
rearranged the way I thought of her,
the way the wind reshuffles a reflection on the water.
I wanted to run after her, but was afraid.
The moon was full behind the clouds, the day you left the country.

In the devastating aftermath of that encounter,
shipwrecked by her sudden absence,
I scavenged in the wreckage, searching
for anything to prove a lack of common sense.
I kept warm by burning the ship’s fittings
and in the darkest hours, began to eat myself.

I leapt the months to your return: ignored the pacing moon
then marked time while the slow nights closed the distance.
This morning there were 20 emails waiting to be read.
Not one was yours; the name that trips the pulse.
The smoothest dancer falters in the dance,
if he can’t predict his partner’s moves.

Our orders were to winter in the ice:
waste land, frozen sea, and months of darkness.
In my mind I was already anchored in the roads,
naked, lying by your side, nose touching nose,
smelt the spices in the off-shore breeze
felt the heft of money bags and bullion:
a dead man with frost bitten fingers, clutching air.

Ships trapped, shore parties struggled to make camp.
We are dwarfed by time, lost in white space,
but we own our misery which no perspective mitigates.

The Admiral listens to his scouting parties:
their future’s a frail line scratched on a blank.
If I confessed how much I love you,
would you laugh or run away?
I could turn back. Avoid this terror.
No one would be the wiser, no one
would know how close I came
to altering the universe.

Each day we send a man aloft.
He slithers up the ice-draped shrouds
to look for signs of open water to the west.
Our maps can only tell us where we’ve been.

Do not let me falter. If the moment comes,
give me the courage or stupidity
to roll the dice: find out how far is far enough,
and then continue ‘til I wreck at Furthest Out.
Conventional wisdom whispers in the head wind
that still shakes the ice from frozen rigging:
You should not want this: this is not for you.
Go home, your family waits around the china tea set.
Let them say: look! Here comes that good, sane man:
Alexander the Competent.
Self-appointed judges who’d legislate the wind.
Who gave them ringside seats; solicited their opinion?

The hanging lamp cast shadows that began to move.
The ship, locked for so long, began to shift and roll.
Did I invent the Northwest Passage,
to feed ambition something greater than the day allows?
Do desire and loneliness, flowing into absence, seize on any object?

The day of your return, another full moon
blazing the glass of the high rise, flaming
the treetops. Gaining momentum
it rose, and paled, and the landscape
became familiar blocks of darkness.
Weeks later you wrote a pleasant little note.

There is no Northwest Passage, no easy route
to dreamt of glory and if there were, that final harbor
could never be the homecoming we dreamed.

The ships were breaking up; there was no thaw.
We loaded the whaleboat with trash we could not eat or burn.
I heard my own voice asking, why not ditch it all?
Move quickly, lightly, going fast and far, free of impediments?
Time will sift the rag and bone man’s discards. I cannot keep myself
from turning back and looking at the wreckage of the fleet:
the main mast, still above the ice, where common sense went down.
Ahead, white silent emptiness. Nothing but emptiness and nothing
and nothing that will mark the journey done. Only the journey forward
into white silent emptiness and behind, the misery of time
debating how to play a scene, deleted unperformed.
You will not find the wreckage. I doubt you even know I’m lost.

LIAM GUILAR lives in Australia where he teaches English. He studied Medieval Literature first as an undergraduate at Birmingham University and then as a post graduate at the University of Queensland in Australia. He spent several decades searching for wild rivers in remote parts of the world. He has had four collections of poems published; the most recent Rough Spun to Close Weave, is published by Ginninderra press http://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/poetry.html He runs a blog at http://ladygodivaandme.blogspot.com.au and in 2013 was the proud winner of the Australian Bad Joyce Award: http://www.johnbutleryeatsseminar.com/home/bad_joyce_essay

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Bistro by Shot

21

Bistro by Shot

28 Parsons Green Lane, London SW6 4HS
020 7371 7533

Bistro by Shot is rather discreetly tucked away on Parsons Green Lane, with just a distinctive red logo sign and open door to announce its presence. Inside, all is clean Scandinavian style – white stone tables; wooden floors, benches and bar. The walls are pure white, with some wooden panelling in the little snug area (a covetable table but alas, not where we were seated), and lighting hangs quirkily from wires above the bench seating (with bulbs redolent of Edison’s designs) and in wooden framed boxes over the bar. Bottles are set on clean white shelves behind the bar and a glass display offers a tempting array of truffles and cheesecakes, while an impressive-looking coffee machine sits on the end of the bar. The only other colour in the room, apart from the light pine and the stark white, is a dark grey, which flanks both ends of the bar and the entrance end of the room, and in which window and door frames are painted.

The seating is rather cafe-style, with the bench seating facing the bar, and just the table and opposing chairs intervening, and as a result, feels just slightly temporary. The ambience and feeling is certainly more of a cafe than a restaurant. This is exacerbated by the fact that tables are undressed, yet they feature tumblers for water, proper wine glasses, respectable linen napkins, decent cutlery and a tea light in a glass. Irritating popular music was playing when we visited, but thankfully so low that it was drowned out once there were a few other patrons in.

The staff are friendly and professional; kind and thoughtful. Water is offered at once (Italian mineral water), and bread follows shortly, still slightly warm from the oven. This was worryingly moreish – crusty and extremely fresh, slightly salty white bread, served along with butter and a dab of sea salt on a slate. A good start to the meal.

The evening menu and wine list are both fairly short, and the wine list doesn’t mention countries of origin, although it does, pleasingly, have brief and informal descriptions. The menu starts with some rather sophisticated “snacks” (such as burrata) and then contains around six to eight starters and main courses, with a few sides (including chips cooked in duck fat, which we only just managed to resist).

To drink, I choose the Barbera D’Asti 2012 “Il Casconone” from Italy: a very understated, elegant bottle at once boded well, and we weren’t disappointed with the contents. Dark in colour and blackly fruity on the nose, the palate was full of woodland tastes – dark brambles and blackberries and currants, with some tar and ash on the finish and a sweetly tempering hint of liquorice. Baby Tristan’s apple juice was squeezed there and then on the spot and so had a frothy cap of bits of apple, with the clear, sweet juice beneath. This was surely the freshest and most delicious apple juice I have ever tasted (and, yes, Tristan did get to drink of some of it – and loved it as well!) – just gloriously appley.

I started with the ham hock terrine, which was served with toast and a buttery sauce. This, a nice great thick slab of terrine, was beautifully moist and extremely flavoursome, with the salty ham hock interlaced with sweeter onion for extra flavour. I found it quite delicious and extremely moreish – the perfect starter.

My husband’s pea and bacon soup was more of a velouté featuring a small number of bacon lardons, rather than a soup. It was extraordinarily fresh and bursting with essence of pea; sweet and rich; and a generous portion to boot. The only quibble about this was the spoon that accompanied it – it wasn’t a proper soup-spoon, but rather more of a large dessert spoon in terms of shape and depth. This forced my husband to eat the soup like a savage, which was distressing for him (if not for me and other diners!).

We then shared a huge dish of braised shoulder of lamb, which came on its own board, with a small jug of gravy, a bowl of slightly crunchy Jersey Royals and kale. The lamb itself was beautifully tender – literally falling off the bone and with a full and rich flavour, and it was well matched by its accompaniments (although I found the potatoes a little on the hard side). We also ordered broccoli with almonds – this was absolutely delicious – sweet tender-stem broccoli cooked perfectly in salty butter with crunchy almonds providing a contrast of texture and flavour. The staff also kindly and thoughtfully (and completely spontaneously) brought a bowl of sweet potato mash for Tristan (who was otherwise just sharing parts of our meal), which he greatly enjoyed and appreciated.

51

The dessert menu included ice cream made by Bistro by Shot’s sister branch, Valrhona chocolate fondant (again, difficult to resist) and dessert wines. Mr Marshall-Luck and Tristan shared the panacotta, which came nicely presented in a glass jar with a topping of strawberry jelly / jam. The panacotta itself was creamy yet light – not too rich or heavy, and the shortbread biscuits which accompanied it were also gorgeously light and crumbly. By contrast, my chocolate truffles were immensely dark and rich – full of bitter chocolate and dusted with cocoa and some of these were immediately appropriated by Tristan. Just as well that the staff had provided a generous number for my enjoyment!

On the whole, we found this a delightful dining experience, with rather superb food and excellent service. I did, however, feel that we would have preferred to have been in a space that better fitted the excellence of the food with more elegant, lavish and refined surroundings, as there could be no doubt that the cafe-style dining accommodation didn’t match food that I would without doubt call “fine cuisine”. But do not let this put you off; if you find yourself in the Chiswick area, you know where to go.

Em Marshall-Luck is QR’s Restaurant and Wine Critic

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Polish Higher Education Today

Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun

Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun

Polish Higher Education Today

Mark Wegierski makes some telling observations 

The Nicolaus Copernicus University (Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika – UMK), was founded in 1945 in the wake of the Second World War in Torun, with many professors and researchers fleeing from the former Stefan Batory University in Wilno (Vilnius) – that area being swallowed into the Soviet Union, with the Stalin-mandated boundary shifts. The official date of the university’s founding is August 24, 1945, exactly 70 years ago this day.

There was a few years respite until the late 1940s, when Stalinism became ever more tightly enforced in Polish academic institutions, and in Polish society as a whole. It was only as a result of “The Thaw” after late 1956 (also sometimes called “the Polish October”) under the leadership of Wladyslaw Gomulka, that Stalinism was finally relaxed, and the Communist regime could be considered as “polonized”. While certain topics and themes were clearly “taboo”, the academic system was not harsh and grinding in the enforcement of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy, as during the Stalinist period.

The crises of 1968-1970 profoundly affected the universities, but the Communist system was able to stabilize with the coming to power of Edward Gierek. Indeed, he inaugurated an era of “can do” spirit and relative prosperity. By the late 1970s, however, the situation had soured. During the Solidarity period of 1980-1981, there was a flowering of Polish academic and cultural life, with almost no one believing in Soviet Communism anymore. Indeed, it had to be enforced on Poland at the point of a gun (Communist General Jaruzelski’s declaration of martial law on December 13, 1981). 1989 was clearly another watershed, and, in the 1990s, there was an incredible expansion of higher education in Poland.

Indeed, the number of students attending public and private universities and colleges in Poland has been reaching ever-higher levels with every year. There has been an unprecedented boom in private colleges since the 1990s. Also, numerous State Higher Schools of Vocational Learning have been established. However, the ever-higher tuition costs for some studies (as well as the high costs of living in the major university towns), and high levels of poverty in Poland, may mean that above-average but not stellar students, from less affluent families, may not get the chance to attend university. There is also a major trend to “political correctness” and probably too much emphasis on E.U. guidelines in some institutions of higher learning, resulting in less and less Polish patriotic spirit. A parallel trend is the excessive stress on career-related business and technical studies, rather than on what could be seen as a better-rounded education in liberal arts such as philosophy, history, and literature (at least for part of one’s pre-professional studies).

I recall that on Friday, September 27, 2002, I had travelled with my female relative from Ciechocinek, the spa and resort town at which I was staying during the late summer and early autumn of 2002, southwestward to Lodz, the second-largest city in Poland. She drove a compact yet elegant Peugeot 206. Ciechocinek lies about two hundred kilometers northwest of Warsaw. She was going to pick up the formal graduation papers associated with the Master’s degree she had just completed, at the Wojskowa Akademia Medyczna (Military Medical Academy) in Lodz. There was some urgency to the matter, as the WAM was merging with another institution to become the Uniwersytet Medyczny (Medical University) in Lodz. The WAM had been open to civilian students for a number a years, and my relative had completed a Master’s in Public Health on a part-time basis. As we sat in the car in front of the guard-house entrance to the university, I recalled her complaints, in earlier telephone conversations, about the long trips to classes she had to take from the environs of Ciechocinek, where she lives, to Lodz, often in inclement weather.

The WAM campus consisted of several large buildings constructed in what I thought to be a 1920s, Neoclassical style. I still remember the pleasant sunshine and warm weather at the time of our trip there, on that day in September.

Among her other studies, my relative has completed a Licentiate (the Polish equivalent of a B.A.) in Cosmetology, at the “Rydygier” Medical Academy in Bydgoszcz, Poland. There was some controversy when that Medical Academy proposed to merge with UMK in Torun – since the city administration of Bydgoszcz had hoped that the “Rydygier” Medical Academy could have become part of a major new university in Bydgoszcz itself. Indeed, the “Rydygier” Medical Academy became the UMK’s Medical College. Nevertheless, a few years later, there was a major university established in Bydgoszcz – Uniwersytet Kazimierza Wielkiego (UKW) (University of King Casimir the Great).

Having reached Lodz, we then continued southward to Czestochowa, where most of my relative’s immediate family – including her mother, sister, and brother – live, in a fairly big house with a large yard, on the city’s outskirts. Driving around Czestochowa, we noticed the large, elegant building of the Akademia Polonijna (Polonia University), a major new private college, which is very well-regarded – as seen, for example, in its high place in the annual college rankings put out jointly by the large-circulation newspaper, Rzeczpospolita (The Republic) and Perspektywy (Perspectives), a major magazine for students. The Akademia Polonijna has set, as one of its missions, extensive cultural and scholarly interaction with persons of Polish descent living abroad, as well as documentation of the various cultural and patriotic achievements of the various “Polonia” communities. (“Polonia” is the term often used in the Polish language to describe Polish communities outside of Poland.)

Since we had arrived unannounced at her family’s house, we decided to go for supper to Zornica, an elegant restaurant (and inn) on the southern outskirts of Czestochowa, built in the style of the Goral (Polish Mountaineer) architecture. Although, at six P.M., the place was rather empty, my dish was nevertheless tasty, consisting of pork medallions baked with mountaineer cheese and mushrooms, along with spicy roast potatoes, on a bed of sauerkraut.

Zornica Restaurant

Zornica Restaurant

We went back to the house for tea and cake, and then started the long trip back to Ciechocinek at about 8 P.M. In a feat of driving I thought incredible, we got back to Ciechocinek somewhere after midnight.

Many young people (as well as some persons in middle age) in Poland today, face the problem that, although they may in fact have very good training in a technical or business field, jobs for them simply don’t exist. The unemployed graduate of Management and Marketing studies in Poland is a virtual cliché. The nationwide average of unemployment was for many years around twenty percent, and was actually considerably higher for young people, and in certain regions, such as the southeast. And, in fact, two to three million Poles (especially younger people), have actually left since 2004, emigrating mostly to Great Britain, Ireland, and other E.U. countries. Those Polish politicians who can somehow improve the employment situation in Poland, in a way that will be sustainable over the long run, can expect to receive major support from the people of Poland.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and historical researcher

 

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“Motormouth” Megyn Meets her Match

MegynKelly 2

“Motormouth” Megyn Meets her Match

Ilana Mercer reflects on the slugfest in Cleveland

It’s “R & R for Megyn Kelly,” the Fox News channel announced last week on its website, followed by a gooey note from Kelly herself. Why was FNC broadcasting the vacation schedule of the Golden Goose that henpecked Donald Trump? Had Kelly been licked into shape by Trump? Was she off to lick her wounds?

Since the testy exchange between Trump and Kelly, at the first prime-time Republican debate, in Cleveland, Ohio, the anchor’s eponymous TV show, “The Kelly File,” has covered the meteoric rise of Mr. Trump sparingly. Perhaps Kelly has come to view herself as a kingmaker. Perhaps she thinks that should she choose not to report about a newsmaker; he’ll somehow fade into obscurity.

Full disclosure: at first blush, I was impressed by the quality of Fox News’ journalism in Cleveland, writing too exuberantly that “the true stars of the debate were the ruthless, impartial, analytical” reporters. Better that Kelly be the one to ask foolish, fem-oriented questions of The Donald than future Dem moderators. It neutralizes the latter. Or so I reasoned.

Moreover, it’s indisputable that compared to previous presidential debates overrun as they were by Democrat journos—Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace did a good job.

No presidential debate should, however, be gauged by how it departs from debates in which questions such as these are posed:

“Senator Obama, how do you address those who say you’re not authentically black enough?”

“Senator Dodd, you’ve been in Congress more than 30 years. Can you honestly say you’re any different?”

“Congressman Kucinich, your supporters certainly say you are different. Even your critics would certainly say you are different … What do you have that Senators Clinton and Obama do not have?” [Wait a sec. I know the answer: a trophy wife.]

And how about this intellectually nimble follow-up?

“Senator Clinton, you were involved in that [how-am-I-different] question. I want to give you a chance to respond [to that how-am-I-different question].”

“Senator Obama, you were also involved in that [how-am-I-different] question, as well. Please respond.”

The final crushingly stupid question to the 1-trick donkeys debating, in the 2007 CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate, was this:

“Who was your favorite teacher and why, Senator Gravel?”

The “journalist” pounding the presidential candidates was jackass Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Before she beat a retreat, Kelly had assembled a studio audience of Republican establishmentarian, to whom she directed another leading question: she herself knew nobody who’d call a woman a pig or a dog. Could they say the same? Kelly was alluding to the litany she had directed at Trump during her Cleveland performance (where she had cast herself as leading lady).

Kelly: “You’ve called women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.”

Trump [in good humor]: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”

Megyn [bare-fanged]: “No it wasn’t. For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell. Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”

Still under the brain-addling spell of the Cooper-Candy-Crowley brain trust, I thought no less of Kelly for that dumbest of questions. Her anti-individualist, collectivist feminism is news to her fans, but not to me. Kelly’s vocabulary is of a piece with the nauseating vocabulary of third-wave feminism.

More irksome was the allusion to the dignity of The Office. A while ago, fancy pants Kelly joined Don Lemon (CNN), Cooper and Rachel Mad Cow to editorialize angrily at Obama for damaging the dignity of The Office. These celebrity journos were, in fact, green with envy over GloZell Green, a YouTube sensation to whom president Obama granted an interview. Good for him.

Our TV narcissists—they live not for the truth, but for a seat at the Annual White House Sycophant’s Supper, or alongside the smarmy Jon Stewart (or his unfunny South African replacement), or next to the titillaters of “The View,” or on the late-night shows—were jealous. Dented was the vanity of the egos in the anchor’s chair.

Besides which the American presidency was pimped out a longtime ago—well before the current POTUS and FLOTUS held soirees sporting disco balls and the half-nude, pelvis-grinding Beyoncé.

Kelly herself has fast succumbed to the female instinct to show-off, bare skin, flirt and wink. She now also regularly motormouths it over the occasional smart guest she entertains (correction: the one smart guest, Ann Coulter). At the same time, Kelly has dignified the tinnitus named Dana Perino with a daily slot as Delphic oracle.

Trump, on the other hand, has proven he can be trusted to beat up on the right women.

Exhibit A is Elizabeth Beck, a multitasking “attorney,” who once deposed Donald Trump while also waving her breast pump in his face, demanding to break for a breast-pumping session.

“You’re disgusting. You’re disgusting,” the busy billionaire blurted in disbelief. And she was. Still is. Accoutered for battle, Beck recently did the rounds on the networks. In addition to a mad glint in the eye, Beck brought to each broadcast a big bag packed with milking paraphernalia.

Had she cared about boundaries and propriety, Kelly would have asked Trump how he kept his cool during a legal deposition, with an (ostensible) professional, who insisted on bringing attention to her lactating breasts.

Writes Fred Reed, who regularly tracks our malevolent matriarchy’s “poor sense of social boundaries”:

“The United States has embarked, or been embarked, on a headlong rush into matriarchy, something never before attempted in a major country. Men remain numerically dominant in positions of power, yes, but their behavior and freedom are ever more constrained by the wishes of hostile women. The effects have been disastrous. They are likely to be more so. The control, or near control, extends all through society. Politicians are terrified of women. … The pathological egalitarianism of the age makes it career-ending to mention that women in fact are neither equal nor identical to men.”

Not quite in the league of Elizabeth Beck yet, Megyn Kelly was, nevertheless, in need of a dressing-down and a time-out.

Ilana Mercer is a paleolibertarian writer, based in the U.S.  She pens WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, “Return to Reason.” She is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. Her latest book is “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com.  She blogs at  www.barelyablog.com   Follow her on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/IlanaMercer “Friend” her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilanamercer.libertarian

 

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ENDNOTES, 21st August 2015

Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic Photo by Chris Christodoulou

Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic
Photo by Chris Christodoulou

ENDNOTES, 21st August 2015

Five important 20th-century works at the Proms

The 121st season of Henry Wood Promenade concerts continues its onward stride, with large audiences attracted almost every night by that potent combination of innovation, presentation of the great classics, and appearances by many outstanding artists from Britain and abroad – not to mention the unique atmosphere of the Royal Albert Hall (an atmosphere enhanced by the time-honoured rituals of Promming and the Promenaders). The Quarterly Review has been in attendance at two significant Proms this month: the BBC Philharmonic’s visit from Manchester, at which the ensemble under conductor, Juanjo Mena, performed Messiaen’s massive and mystical Turangalila Symphony, written during 1946 and 48 (and revised as recently as 1990 – two years before the composer’s death); and a rendition by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sibelius specialist, Osmo Vanska, of that composer’s last three completed symphonies – 5, 6 and 7. (An eighth symphony was sketched out by the great Finnish musical magus, but was apparently destroyed by his own hand.) Firstly, the Messiaen, played at a Prom on the 13th August.

Olivier Messiaen was a French composer who seemed to belong to no particular school or ethos, save for his own intense affiliation to his Catholic beliefs, and desire to celebrate the divine spirit – and the spirit of Nature (especially bird-song and birds), which represented for him a sense of the free soul, or as music-writer Malcolm Hayes put it: “The resurrected soul in flight”. The Turangalila Symphony is heavily influenced by Eastern mysticism, and by Sanskrit in particular – the name ‘Turangalila’ meaning: Time (Turanga) and Play or Love (Lila). There is also a nod to the ancient Tristan legend – the work having several sections which share a sensuous unity with some themes and ideas in Wagner: Tristan, of course, but also the enchanted flower garden in the second act of his Grail opera, Parsifal.

Steven Osborne Photo by Chris Christodoulou

Steven Osborne
Photo by Chris Christodoulou

Messiaen’s symphony consists of ten movements, and he employs a massive array of percussion, which suggests Gamelan music, and a definite – but not syrupy or false –orientalism. A piano soloist is also required (in this Proms performance, Steven Osborne) and the player of a most unusual device, the ondes martenot – an electronic musical instrument, operated by a keyboard player (Valerie Hartmann-Claverie), which produces a futuristic array of mainly high-pitched waves; an owl-like woooo sound which strongly conjures a sense of floating in space, or levitating into a vast unknown realm. In the movement – the fifth – entitled Joie du sang des etoiles (Joy of the Blood of the Stars), the combination of all the forces on stage leads to a monumental peroration of unbridled power, as if Wagner, Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy, and Mahler’s Seventh Symphony have all been harnessed together and unleashed into a new age.

The following movement, ‘Garden of the Sleep of Love’, attains an almost narcotic quality; as if night and dreams are actually manifesting themselves – like a mist, haze, or rolling fog filling the hall. The work may have some meandering moments, but the more one listens to Messiaen, the more the listener can grasp a sense of gathering energy; of strength being stored and saved for movement No. 10 – ‘Final’. Here, the augmented BBC Philharmonic played with titanic power and beautifully-shaped eloquence, Juanjo Mena emerging as a very fine conducting talent, handling enormous quantities of musical electricity and vitality. Little wonder that he is now in demand as a major international artist. But I honestly doubt if the brass and percussion of either the Berlin Philharmonic (with which Mena will soon make his debut) or Royal Concertgebouw* orchestras could have matched the BBC Philharmonic that night.

The programme began, again in Eastern mood, with the Three Mantras by an English composer, sometimes described as a maverick, John Foulds (1880-1939) – a man who was truly ahead of his time. A British Messiaen, perhaps, but most definitely the original developer of “world music”, Foulds sought a fusion of East and West, and even went to India in search of this nirvana – organising along the way the musical forces of Indian radio. Foulds is, perhaps, best known for his international cry for peace after the Great War, A World Requiem, and for a moving, intricate and richly-coloured evocation of our native land, an “impression of time and place” entitled, April-England.

Yet the Three Mantras are very much of another time and place, and are all that remains, or so it seems, of a large-scale Hindu-inspired opera planned by this ambitious figure. The three orchestral tone-paintings convey primal energy and – with the appearance of a chorus of women’s voices (from the London Symphony Chorus) – a sense of seduction, magic and (like Neptune from Holst’s The Planets) a gentle summoning into another world.

Northern lights

On Monday 17th August it was the turn of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, often described as the backbone of the Proms, and the ensemble which acts as the Corporation’s international flagship orchestra (notwithstanding the great leaps and bounds made by their Manchester-based colleagues of the Philharmonic, who also have a worldwide profile). Founded in 1930 by Sir Adrian Boult, the BBC SO has always been at the vanguard of 20th-century music, and it worth remembering that it was Sir Henry Wood in the early days of the Proms who championed many of the then “new” composers, such as Sibelius, Rachmaninov and Debussy. Sibelius’s symphonies stand like great statues in music; islands, perhaps, all with very different characters, but forming an archipelago – suffused by all the drama and majesty of Northern landscapes and folklore which (even if not entirely programmatic) slip into the music.

The Fifth began the symphonic saga – the Finnish maestro, Osmo Vanska, directing a clear, impassioned performance. Yet he revealed and delighted in the detail of the work, such as the stark, knotted, almost atonal bassoon writing halfway through the complicated first movement, and other woodwind passages which are often obscured by the glow of more romantically-inclined performances – now sharp and dancing in “clear air”. The Fifth Symphony comes from the years of the First World War, begun in 1915 and revised the following year, and again in 1919. There is occasionally gloom, sometimes claustrophobia, and a cold nobility about the music; and much attention is always drawn to the great flowing, arching theme which is said to evoke swans in flight – Sibelius, like Messiaen, finding huge spiritual joy in the sight of birds on the wing. But the work succeeds in creating a deep sense of affirmation and resolution; the last minutes of the first movement, and the final movement, rushing forward in thrilling, forthright motion.

The horn section of the BBC Symphony Orchestra produced a powerful sound – a feeling of sunlight or clouds moving across great peaks; with orchestra leader, Stephen Bryant, and his large violin contingent playing with a silvery, tense and tender tone.

And an ethereal string tone is certainly needed for the Sixth Symphony, a work which has little of the elemental drive of its predecessor, but instead a more concentrated chamber-like drama; fleeting, elusive ideas which belong very much to the style of the composer’s music for a production of The Tempest, which comes from the same general period, the early to mid-1920s. The initial stages of the first movement suggest a yearning, but give way to a more vigorous, serious-toned and confident, onward-flowing passage. Dance-like motifs in the third movement, marked Poco vivace, bring relief and lightness into play, before we meet a solemn, sad theme in the finale.

The Seventh Symphony from 1924 is the summation of Sibelius’s life: a work that is neither grim, nor self-torturing or indulgently introspective, but emerges as the eloquent last will and testament of a bard – happy to follow the course of destiny and of Nature, and to share his emotions freely and easily with us all. The piece is barely over 20 minutes in length, and yet manages to express (what seem like) much lengthier ideas. The tone-poem, The Oceanides, from ten years earlier, might sit very effectively in a concert with the Seventh Symphony – both works achieving an emotional impact far beyond the usual Mahlerian timescales which we often feel “make” for a fulfilling, all-encompassing symphonic piece.

The Seventh ends abruptly, and seems to be the logical consequence of the journey through the Fifth and Sixth: a neat chapter ending, with nothing too overstated or rehashed, or missed out. For Osmo Vanska, his fellow countryman Sibelius is possibly the ultimate challenge for a recording artist and interpreter, the conductor making many CDs of his work (including the original version of the Fifth – a surprising contrast to what we know as Symphony No. 5). In the 17th August Prom, he showed us why a conductor is needed; how vital it is to control or accentuate the pulse of the music. Vanska’s conducting enthralled the Proms audience, making this a very significant evening, and one that will be remembered for many years to come.

Stuart Millson is the Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review

* Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony can be enjoyed on a first-class CD from Decca, performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam, conducted by Riccardo Chailly.

The Proms performances of the Messiaen and Sibelius will be available via the BBC Radio 3 website until the middle of September. (Please see the website for exact details: www.bbc.co.uk/radio3)

 

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Acton Lane Remembered

Acton Lane Power Station

Acton Lane Power Station

Acton Lane Remembered

Bill Hartley speaks truth to power

The Green Revolution in Britain is sustained by coal. Last year the country imported over 41,000,000 tonnes. The Port of Tyne that used to ship the stuff out has never been busier bringing it in: coals to Newcastle and much of this goes into our power stations.

The late Keith Waterhouse once described his home town of Leeds as the ‘city of dreaming cooling towers’. Leeds Power Station was said to be the filthiest in the country and wind in the wrong direction could ruin a line of washing. Back then electricity generation was local. Any reasonably sized town or city had cooling towers on the horizon. Today the power station is mostly remote: confined to the flatlands of Yorkshire or housed in those sinister coastal buildings where the fuel source is nuclear.

In the 1970s the network was still a nationalised industry and the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) had a couple of stations left working in London. Battersea was the best known but out in NW10 near the old Guinness Brewery at Park Royal was Acton Lane. This was a site dating back to the 1890s and the dawn of electricity generating.

The station had been a source of wonder when it opened in the early 1950s. Engineers came from all over Europe to marvel at the mighty turbines with a combined output of 150 mega watts and wondered if they would remain secured to the floor. By the early seventies though, Acton Lane was on its last legs. Technology had moved on and a station of enormous capacity back in the fifties had become a minnow. Acton Lane was now reduced to a back up role and curiously this meant it was a more hard worked station than those remote giants which now generate most of our electricity. The way to run such huge stations economically is to keep them on base load generating round the clock and shutting down only for essential maintenance. In contrast the workers at Acton Lane might expect to shut down and start up on a daily basis when the national grid needed extra power. And it wasn’t a push button operation. The conductors of this particular orchestra were the turbine drivers, the elite of generating staff. They controlled a workforce on three levels and due to the deafening roar communication was via sign language. Down in the basement were the humble plant attendants whose job it was to control the water supply. They roamed a level the size of a football field amidst a jungle of pipes leading to huge pumps that required regular inspection and lubrication. During those final years the pipe work was poorly maintained and an attendant might be obscured in dense clouds of drifting steam. His attention was attracted from the mezzanine above by striking the metal railings with a spanner. Essentially the turbine driver was signalling to report progress on raising revolutions. Were he to get it wrong then instead of superheated steam, water would enter the turbines and the effect on the blades would resemble a paddle steamer going down the Mississippi.

The turbine driver also managed the efforts of the men who ensured the boilers were kept fed. A conveyor belt of coal crushed to fine powder was fed into the furnaces and calories blasted from it with an induced draught. They were no mere factory boilers but monsters nearly ninety feet high. Climb vertiginous ladders to the top of these things and you entered a world where the air shimmered. Riyadh at noon would have seemed cool by comparison. It was an eerie place seldom visited. Beneath the catwalk, boilers literally groaned with the pent up pressure designed to turn water into superheated steam. Viewed from this vantage point it was easy to appreciate the alchemy of coal, fire and water, contained then harnessed by heavy engineering and transformed into electricity.

The process of going ‘on load’ could last for most of an eight hour shift until the control room signalled that the power had been accepted onto the grid. Then with the deafening roar of turbines making conversation impossible the order might come through to start the process of shutting down. It was difficult to imagine that anything worthwhile had been achieved but that was the role of Acton Lane in its dying days: topping up the grid, just in case the big stations were unable to fulfil the nation’s requirements.

The men who did this work had mostly begun their employment when the station opened. Like the plant they were reaching the end of their working lives. This was a breed of Londoner now all but extinct. They had been through the war, some as members of the Auxiliary Fire Service during the blitz. Others had seen service overseas and all had been glad to find work at the new power station. Back then London was still a place of manufacturing and this particular corner of the capital looked no different to any northern city. The Park Royal brewery was eventually to go however and with it most other industries. Acton Lane as their one time power source was just holding on.

During a stand down phase that could last for days at a time, only a handful of people were required to keep the plant ticking over. Everything slipped into slow motion: the bare minimum of coal being fed into the furnaces. The CEGB had an agreement with the unions whereby the workforce could be deployed on any duties during such periods. Several jobs might need to be done. For example if the flow of water from the nearby Grand Union Canal essential for cooling the feed pumps became reduced, then the reason was a blockage and workers were required to go out in a boat to investigate. Doubtless Health and Safety would these days have something to say about two men in a flimsy boat using rakes to recover a sodden mattress or occasionally something rather more ghastly.

A more sought after role was in the coal yard. Connected to the London- Birmingham main line Acton Lane got its fuel the old fashioned way and hauled it to the station using the last working steam locomotive in the capital. Little Barford as it was named can still be found chugging away on the North Norfolk Railway. It gave power station workers the occasional chance to play on their own railway for a day, learning how to uncouple coal wagons using a shunter’s hook. Get that wrong and a back sprain was the likely outcome.

The cooling towers of Acton Lane were one of the last landmarks of industrial North London. Unlike Battersea where the design meant there was a desire to save the building, nothing of the station remains following closure in the early eighties. The generating hall did live on for a few years though. You may even have seen it. The interior of the space freighter in Alien was in fact Acton Lane as was the Anvil Chemical works in the first Batman picture.

We hear much talk these days of renewable energy such as wind power. Renewables though can be unreliable and coal is still needed when those windmills are standing idle. Because a thermal power station cannot be switched on and off as required, coal has to be burned around the clock to make alternative energy sources possible. Like Acton Lane the traditional power station is still the back up.

BILL HARTLEY is a freelance writer from Yorkshire

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Polish Canadians, Searching for a Voice

Polish_Canadian_op_735x669

Polish Canadians, Searching for a Voice 

Mark Wegierski describes an attenuated sub-culture

Today in Canada, there are no journalists on any major newspaper, and very few comparatively well-known authors of books of English-language literary fiction, genre fiction, or works of social, political, or cultural commentary, who belong to the Polish-Canadian community. Until a few years ago, a person well-acquainted with this community could probably only think of Eva Stachniak and Irene Tomaszewski, and perhaps K. G. E. (Chuck) Konkel (author of two, police-procedural-type novels, set in non-Polish locales – Hong Kong and Mexico).

However, in the last few years, a number of new authors have emerged – Andrew J. Borkowski, author of the short story collection, Copernicus Avenue, which won the 2012 Toronto Book Award; Aga Maksimowska, whose book Giant was nominated for the 2013 Toronto Book Award; Jowita Bydlowska, author of Drunk Mom; and Ania Szado, author of Beginning of Was, and Studio St-Ex (about Antoine St. Exupery). Of these new authors, the books of Borkowski and Maksimowska and, to a lesser extent, Szado’s first novel, are the only ones that appear to have major Polish and Polish-Canadian content. However, Maksimowska’s novel has elements of some current-day “politically-correct” stereotypes about Poles, something that Borkowski, also, does not entirely avoid.

The endeavours of Professor Tamara Trojanowska in the Polish Language and Literature program at the University of Toronto have been felicitous (such as organizing a major international conference on Polish themes at the University of Toronto in February 2006). On the other hand, Professor Piotr Wrobel, who currently holds the Chair of Polish History at the University of Toronto, is considered by some to be rather cool towards the Polish-Canadian community and its core concerns.

Thanks to the isolated, idealistic efforts of Professor Kazimierz Patalas of the Freshwater Institute in Manitoba, and Professor Zbigniew Izydorczyk at the University of Winnipeg, the book Providence Watching: Journeys from Wartorn Poland to the Canadian Prairies (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2003) has appeared. This was an English translation of a work which Professor Patalas put together with considerable effort, “Przez boje, przez znoje, przez trud: Kombatanckie losy” (Through battles, privations, and hardship: The fate of Polish soldiers) (Winnipeg: Polish Combatants’ Association – Group 13, 1996). Professors Patalas and Izydorczyk doubtless undertook a supreme effort to bring the book to fruition in English. It is quite clear that in today’s climate, the publishing of a book friendly to the Polish cause, by a recognized Canadian publisher, requires a huge personal effort and well-established professional contacts. In this case, Professor Daniel Stone, who teaches Polish and East European history at the University of Winnipeg, wrote a lucid introduction to the book.

Another isolated but no less idealistic endeavour was High Park Magazine, edited by Piotr Manycz, of which twenty-five magnificent issues appeared between 1992 and 1998. The quality of the publication was amazing – and it had articles in both Polish and English. Had it continued, it could have perhaps become a nucleus for a far more lively Polish impression on the Canadian literary landscape. A further example is furnished by “Poland in the Rockies.” This is a summer seminar in a natural setting, with lectures and informal talks by such luminaries as Professor Norman Davies that offers a sense of community and networking, mainly to young Polish-Canadian and Polish-American university and college students. Such a sense of community is reassuring to young people, who not infrequently have to sharply defend Polishness in today’s North American social and cultural climate. After a hiatus of some years, the seminar was revived in 2014, but I am unable to ascertain through various Internet searches, whether it is happening in 2015. Another helpful initiative is the Quo Vadis series of conferences.

In the main English-language Canadian press and publications, the presence of articles and books that treat Polish and Polish-Canadian themes and issues in a comparatively sympathetic light, appears to be infrequent. In fact, such themes and issues are rarely discussed at all. It might be concluded from this that, insofar as the Polish-Canadian community might wish to have articles in English that represent it effectively to Canadian society, they can probably only appear in Polonia publications.

However, most newspapers and magazines of Canadian Polonia have usually been closed to publishing articles in English. It is also highly unfortunate that the annual scholarly journal of the Polish Library in Montreal and the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada (PIASC) has suspended publication as of the two-year, 2007-2008 issue.

Such articles in English can also speak to persons of Polish descent who have a middling or weaker command of the Polish language, but would appreciate their heritage being effectively represented in English. This writer has waited for years (if not decades) for a Canadian Polonia newspaper that would frequently publish articles in English.

Indeed, it is probably only through the medium of the English language that a more effective, intermediary, Polish and Canadian identity, which might be able to endure, can somehow be worked out, even at this very late date.

Most newspapers of Canadian Polonia have usually been oriented towards “Poles living in Canada” (that is, immigrants from Poland) – as opposed to persons of Polish descent born in Canada. Given the ever-diminishing numbers of new immigrants from Poland, increasing attention must come to be paid to the generations born in Canada.

The Krakowiak

The Krakowiak

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and historical researcher. He was born in Toronto of Polish immigrant parents

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Spengler’s Russia

 Russian landscape

 Spengler’s Russia

K R Bolton looks to the East for a renewal of Civilisation

It would be easy to regard Oswald Spengler, author of the epochal Decline of The West (volume one was published in the Summer of 1918) as a Russophobe. In so doing the role of Russia in the unfolding of history from this era onward could be easily dismissed, opposed or ridiculed by proponents of Spengler, while in Russia his insights into culture-morphology would be understandably unwelcome as being from an Slavophobic German nationalist. However, while Spengler, like many others of the time in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, regarded – partially – Russia as the Asianised leader of a ‘coloured revolution’ against the white world, he also considered other possibilities.

Russia’s ‘Soul’

Spengler considered the Russians as formed by the vastness of the land-plain, as innately antagonistic to the Machine, as rooted in the soil, as irrepressibly peasant, religious, and ‘primitive’. However, when Spengler wrote of these Russian characteristics he was referencing the Russians as a still youthful people in contrast to the senile West. Hence the ‘primitive’ Russian is not synonymous with ‘primitivity’ as popularly understood at that time in regard to ‘primitive’ tribal peoples. Nor was it to be confounded with the Hitlerite perception of the ‘primitive Slav’ incapable of building his own State.

To Spengler, the ‘primitive peasant’ is the well-spring from which a race draws its healthiest elements during its epochs of cultural vigour. Agriculture is the foundation of a High Culture, enabling stable communities to diversify labour into the specialisms from which Civilisation proceeds.

According to Spengler, each people has its own soul, a German conception derived from the Idealism of Herder, Fichte et al. A High Culture reflects that soul, whether in its mathematics, music, architecture; both in the arts and the physical sciences. The Russian soul is not the same as the Western Faustian, as Spengler called it, or the ‘Magian’ of the Arabian civilisation, or the Classical of the Hellenes and Romans. The Western Culture that was imposed on Russia by Peter the Great, which Spengler called Petrinism, is but a veneer.

The basis of the Russian soul is not infinite space – as in the West’s Faustian (Spengler, 1971, I, 183) imperative, but is ‘the plain without limit’. (Spengler, 1971, I, 201) The Russian soul expresses its own type of infinity, albeit not that of the Western which becomes even enslaved by its own technics at the end of its life-cycle. (Spengler, 1971, II, 502) (Although it could be argued that Sovietism enslaved man to machine, a Spenglerian would cite this as an example of Petrinism). However, Civilisations follow their life’s course, and one cannot see Spengler’s descriptions as moral judgements but as observations. The finale for Western Civilisation according to Spengler cannot be to create further great forms of art and music, which belong to the youthful or ‘spring’ epoch of a civilisation, but to dominate the world under a technocratic-military dispensation, before declining into oblivion like prior world civilisations. It is after this Western decline that Spengler alluded to the next world civilisation being that of Russia.

Russian Orthodox architecture does not represent the infinity towards space that is symbolised by the Western high culture’s Gothic Cathedral spire, nor the enclosed space of the Mosque of the Magian Culture, (Spengler, 1971, I, 183-216) but the impression of sitting upon a horizon. Spengler considered that this Russian architecture is ‘not yet a style, only the promise of a style that will awaken when the real Russian religion awakens’. (Spengler, 1971, I, p. 201) Spengler was writing of the Russian culture as an outsider, and by his own reckoning must have realised the limitations of that. It is therefore useful to compare his thoughts on Russia with those of Russians of note.

Nikolai Berdyaev in The Russian Idea affirms what Spengler describes:

There is that in the Russian soul which corresponds to the immensity, the vagueness, the infinitude of the Russian land, spiritual geography corresponds with physical. In the Russian soul there is a sort of immensity, a vagueness, a predilection for the infinite, such as is suggested by the great plain of Russia. (Berdyaev, 1).

‘Russian Socialism’

Concerning the Russian soul, the ego/vanity of the Western culture-man is missing; the persona seeks impersonal growth in service, ‘in the brother-world of the plain’. Orthodox Christianity condemns the ‘I’ as ‘sin’. (Spengler, 1971, I, 309) The Russian concept of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’, and of impersonal service to the expanse of one’s land implies another form of socialism distinct from Marxism. It is perhaps in this sense that Stalinism proceeded along lines often antithetical to the Bolshevism envisaged by Trotsky et al.. (Trotsky, 1936)

A comment by an American visitor to Russia, Barbara J. Brothers, part of a scientific delegation, states something akin to Spengler’s observation:

The Russians have a sense of connectedness to themselves and to other human beings that is just not a part of American reality. It isn’t that competitiveness does not exist; it is just that there always seems to be more consideration and respect for others in any given situation.

Of the Russian traditional ethos, intrinsically antithetical to Western individualism, including that of property relations, Berdyaev wrote:

Of all peoples in the world the Russians have the community spirit; in the highest degree the Russian way of life and Russian manners, are of that kind. Russian hospitality is an indication of this sense of community. (Berdyaev, 97-98)

Taras Bulba

Russian National Literature starting from the 1840s began to consciously express the Russian soul. Firstly Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol’s Taras Bulba, which along with the poetry of Pushkin, founded a Russian literary tradition; that is to say, truly Russian, and distinct from the previous literature based on German, French and English. John Cournos states of this in his introduction to Taras Bulba:

The spoken word, born of the people, gave soul and wing to literature; only by coming to earth, the native earth, was it enabled to soar. Coming up from Little Russia, the Ukraine, with Cossack blood in his veins, Gogol injected his own healthy virus into an effete body, blew his own virile spirit, the spirit of his race, into its nostrils, and gave the Russian novel its direction to this very day.

Taras Bulba is a tale on the formation of the Cossack folk. In this folk-formation the outer enemy plays a crucial role. The Russian has been formed largely as the result of battling over centuries with Tartars, Muslims and Mongols.

Their society and nationality were defined by religiosity, as was the West’s by Gothic Christianity during its ‘Spring’ epoch, in Spenglerian terms. The newcomer to a Setch, or permanent village, was greeted by the Chief as a Christian and as a warrior: ‘Welcome! Do you believe in Christ?’ —‘I do’, replied the new-comer. ‘And do you believe in the Holy Trinity?’— ‘I do’.—‘And do you go to church?’—‘I do.’ ‘Now cross yourself’. (Gogol, III)

Gogol depicts the scorn in which trade is held, and when commerce has entered among Russians, rather than being confined to non-Russians associated with trade, it is regarded as a symptom of decadence:

I know that baseness has now made its way into our land. Men care only to have their ricks of grain and hay, and their droves of horses, and that their mead may be safe in their cellars; they adopt, the devil only knows what Mussulman customs. They speak scornfully with their tongues. They care not to speak their real thoughts with their own countrymen. They sell their own things to their own comrades, like soulless creatures in the market-place…. . Let them know what brotherhood means on Russian soil! (Spengler, 1971, II, 113)

Here we might see a Russian socialism that is a world away from the dialectical materialism adumbrated by Marx, the mystic we-feeling forged by the vastness of the plains and the imperative for brotherhood above economics, imposed by that landscape. Russia’s feeling of world-mission has its own form of messianism, whether expressed through Christian Orthodoxy or the non-Marxian form of ‘world revolution’ under Stalin, or both in combination, as suggested by the later rapport between Stalinism and the Church from 1943 with the creation of the Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs. (Chumachenko, 2002) In both senses and even in the embryonic forms taking place under Putin, Russia is conscious of a world-mission, expressed today as Russia’s role in forging a multipolar world, with Russia as being pivotal in resisting unipolarism

Commerce is the concern of foreigners, and the intrusions bring with them the corruption of the Russian soul and culture in general: in speech, social interaction, servility, undermining Russian ‘brotherhood’, the Russian ‘we’ feeling that Spengler described. (Spengler 1971, I, 309)

The Cossack brotherhood is portrayed by Gogol as the formative process in the building up of the Russian people. This process is not one of biology but of spirit, even transcending the family bond. Spengler likewise treated the matter of race as that of soul rather than of zoology. (Spengler, 1971, II, 113-155) To Spengler landscape was crucial in determining what becomes ‘race’, and the duration of families grouped in a particular landscape – including nomads who have a defined range of wandering – form ‘a character of duration’, which was Spengler’s definition of ‘race’. (Spengler, Vol. II, 113) Gogol describes this ‘race’ forming process among the Russians. So far from being an aggressive race nationalism it is an expanding mystic brotherhood under God:

The father loves his children, the mother loves her children, the children love their father and mother; but this is not like that, brothers. The wild beast also loves its young. But a man can be related only by similarity of mind and not of blood. There have been brotherhoods in other lands, but never any such brotherhoods as on our Russian soil. (Gogol, IX)

The Russian soul is born in suffering. The Russian accepts the fate of life in service to God and to his Motherland. Russia and faith are inseparable. When the elderly warrior Bovdug is mortally struck by a Turkish bullet his final words are exhortations on the nobility of suffering, after which his spirit soars to join his ancestors. (Gogol, IX) The mystique of death and suffering for the Motherland is described in the death of Taras Bulba when he is captured and executed, his final words being ones of resurrection:

Wait, the time will come when ye shall learn what the orthodox Russian faith is! Already the people scent it far and near. A czar shall arise from Russian soil, and there shall not be a power in the world which shall not submit to him!’. (Gogol, XII)

Pseudomorphosis

A significant element of Spengler’s culture morphology is ‘Historic Pseudomorphosis’. Spengler drew an analogy from geology. When crystals of a mineral are embedded in a rock-stratum, where ‘clefts and cracks occur, water filters in, and the crystals are gradually washed out so that in due course only their hollow mould remains’. (Spengler, II, 89)

By the term ‘historical pseudomorphosis’ I propose to designate those cases in which an older alien Culture lies so massively over the land that a young Culture, born in this land, cannot get its breath and fails not only to achieve pure and specific expression-forms, but even to develop its own fully self-consciousness. All that wells up from the depths of the young soul is cast in the old moulds, young feelings stiffen in senile works, and instead of rearing itself up in its own creative power, it can only hate the distant power with a hate that grows to be monstrous. (Ibid.)

A dichotomy has existed for centuries, starting with Peter the Great, of attempts to impose a Western veneer over Russia. This is called Petrinism. The resistance of those attempts is what Spengler called ‘Old Russia’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 192) Spengler too described this dichotomy.

Nikolai Berdyaev wrote in terms similar to Spengler’s: ‘Russia is a complete section of the world, a colossal East-West. It unites two worlds, and within the Russian soul two principles are always engaged in strife – the Eastern and the Western’. (Berdyaev, 1).

With the orientation of Russian policy towards the West, ‘Old Russia’ was ‘forced into a false and artificial history’. (Spengler, II, 193) Spengler thought that Russia had become dominated by Late Western culture:

Late-period arts and sciences, enlightenment, social ethics, the materialism of world-cities, were introduced, although in this pre-cultural time religion was the only language in which man understood himself and the world. (Spengler, 1971, II, 193)

In 1863, writing to Dostoyevski, Ivan Sergyeyevich Aksakov (founder of the anti-Petrinist ‘Slavophil’ group) noted that ‘The first condition of emancipation for the Russian soul is that it should hate Petersburg with all this might and all its soul’. Moscow is holy, Petersburg Satanic. A widespread popular legend presents Peter the Great as Antichrist.

The hatred of the ‘West’ and of ‘Europe’ is the hatred for a Civilisation that had already reached an advanced state of decay into materialism and sought to impose its primacy by cultural subversion rather than by combat, with its City-based and money-based outlook, ‘poisoning the unborn culture in the womb of the land’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 194) Russia was still a land where there were no bourgeoisie and no true class system but only lord and peasant, a view confirmed by Berdyaev, writing: ‘The various lines of social demarcation did not exist in Russia; there were no pronounced classes. Russia was never an aristocratic country in the Western sense, and equally there was no bourgeoisie’. (Berdyaev, 1)

The cities that emerged threw up an intelligentsia, copying the intelligentsia of Late Westerndom, ‘bent on discovering problems and conflicts, and below, an uprooted peasantry, with all the metaphysical gloom, anxiety … perpetually homesick for the open land and bitterly hating the stony grey world into which the Antichrist had tempted them. Moscow had no proper soul’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 194) Berdyaev likewise remarks of the Petrinism of the upper class that ‘Russian history was a struggle between East and West within the Russian soul’. (Berdyaev, 15)

Russian Messianism

Berdyaev also states that while Petrinism introduced an epoch of cultural dynamism, it also placed a heavy burden upon Russia, and a disunity of spirit. (Ibid.) However, Russia has her own religious sense of Mission, which is as universal as the Vatican’s. Spengler quotes Dostoyevski who wrote in 1878 that ‘all men must become Russian, first and foremost Russian. If general humanity is the Russian ideal, then everyone must first of all become a Russian’. (Spengler, 1963, 63n) The Russian Messianic idea found a forceful expression in Dostoyevski’s The Possessed, where, in a conversation with Stavrogin, Shatov states:

Reduce God to the attribute of nationality?…On the contrary, I elevate the nation to God…The people is the body of God. Every nation is a nation only so long as it has its own particular God, excluding all other gods on earth without any possible reconciliation, so long as it believes that by its own God it will conquer and drive all other gods off the face of the earth. …The sole ‘God bearing’ nation is the Russian nation… .(Dostoyevski, 1992, Part II: I: 7, 265-266)

Spengler saw Russia as outside of Europe, and even as ‘Asian’. He even saw a Western rebirth vis-à-vis opposition to Russia, which he regarded as leading the ‘coloured world’ against the whites, under the mantle of Bolshevism. Yet there were also other destinies that Spengler saw over the horizon, which had been predicted by Dostoyevski.

Once Russia had overthrown its alien intrusions, it could look with another perspective upon the world, and reconsider Europe not with hatred and vengeance but in kinship. Spengler wrote that while Tolstoi, the Petrinist, whose doctrine was the precursor of Bolshevism, was ‘the former Russia’, Dostoyevski was ‘the coming Russia’. Dostoyevski as the representative of the ‘coming Russia’ ‘does not know’ the hatred of Russia for the West. Dostoyevski and the old Russia are transcendent. ‘His passionate power of living is comprehensive enough to embrace all things Western as well’. Spengler quotes Dostoyevski again: ‘I have two fatherlands, Russia and Europe’. Dostoyevski as the harbinger of a Russian high culture ‘has passed beyond both Petrinism and revolution, and from his future he looks back over them as from afar. His soul is apocalyptic, yearning, desperate, but of this future he is certain’. (Spengler, 1971, II, 194)

To the ‘Slavophile’, of which Dostoyevski was one, Europe is precious. The Slavophile appreciates the richness of European high culture while realising that Europe is in a state of decay. Berdyaev discussed what he regarded as an inconsistency in Dostoyevski and the Slavophiles towards Europe, yet one that is comprehensible when we consider Spengler’s crucial differentiation between Culture and Civilisation:

Dostoyevsky calls himself a Slavophil. He thought, as did also a large number of thinkers on the theme of Russia and Europe, that he knew decay was setting in, but that a great past exists in her, and that she has made contributions of great value to the history of mankind. (Berdyaev, 70)

It is noteworthy that while this differentiation between Kultur and Zivilisation is ascribed to a particularly German philosophical tradition, Berdyaev comments that it was present among the Russians ‘long before Spengler’, although deriving from German sources:

It is to be noted that long before Spengler, the Russians drew the distinction between ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’, that they attacked ‘civilization’ even when they remained supporters of ‘culture’. This distinction in actual fact, although expressed in a different phraseology, was to be found among the Slavophils. (Ibid.)

Dostoyevski was indifferent to the Late West, while Tolstoi was a product of it, the Russian Rousseau. Imbued with ideas from the Late West, the Marxists sought to replace one Petrine ruling class with another. Neither represented the soul of Russia. Spengler observed: ‘The real Russian is the disciple of Dostoyevski, even though he might not have read Dostoyevski, or anyone else, nay, perhaps because he cannot read, he is himself Dostoyevski in substance’. The intelligentsia hates, the peasant does not. (Ibid.) He would eventually overthrow Bolshevism and any other form of Petrinism. Here we see Spengler unequivocally stating that the post-Western civilisation will be Russian:

For what this townless people yearns for is its own life-form, its own religion, its own history. Tolstoi’s Christianity was a misunderstanding. He spoke of Christ and he meant Marx. But to Dostoyevski’s Christianity, the next thousand years will belong. (Ibid.)

Apropos the true Russia, as Dostoyevski expressed it, ‘not a single nation has ever been founded on principles of science or reason’. (Dostoyevski, 1872, II: I: VII)

By the time Spengler published The Hour of Decision in 1934 he concluded that Russia had overthrown Petrinism and the trappings of the Late West, and while he called the new orientation of Russia ‘Asian’, he said that it was ‘a new Idea, and an idea with a future too’. (Spengler, 1963, 60) To clarify, Russia looks towards the ‘East’, but while the Westerner assumes that ‘Asia’ and East are synonymous with Mongol, the etymology of the word ‘Asia’ comes from Greek Aσία, ca. 440 BC, referring to all regions east of Greece. (Ibid., 61) During his time Spengler saw that in Russia,

Race, language, popular customs, religion, in their present form… all or any of them can and will be fundamentally transformed. What we see today then is simply the new kind of life which a vast land has conceived and will presently bring forth. It is not definable in words, nor is its bearer aware of it. Those who attempt to define, establish, lay down a program, are confusing life with a phrase, as does the ruling Bolshevism, which is not sufficiently conscious of its own West-European, Rationalistic and cosmopolitan origin. (Ibid.)

Of Russia Spengler already saw in 1934 that ‘of genuine Marxism there is very little except in names and programs’. He doubted that the Communist programme is ‘really still taken seriously’. He saw the possibility of the vestiges of Petrine Bolshevism being overthrown, to be replaced by a ‘nationalistic’ Eastern type which would reach ‘gigantic proportions unchecked’. (Spengler, 1963, 63) Spengler also referred to Russia as paradoxically the country ‘least troubled by Bolshevism’, (Ibid.,182) and suggested that the ‘Marxian face [was] only worn for the benefit of the outside world’. (Ibid., 212) A decade after Spengler’s death the direction of Russia under Stalin had pursued clearer definitions, and Petrine Bolshevism had been transformed in the way Spengler foresaw. (Brandenberger, 2002)

Conclusion

As in Spengler’s time, as centuries before, there continued to exist two tendencies in Russia: the Old Russian and the Petrine. Neither one nor the other spirit is presently dominant, although under Putin Old Russia struggles for resurgence. Spengler in a published lecture to the Rheinish-Westphalian Business Convention in 1922 referred to the ‘ancient, instinctive, unclear, unconscious, and subliminal drive that is present in every Russian, no matter how thoroughly westernised his conscious life may be – a mystical yearning for the South, for Constantinople and Jerusalem, a genuine crusading spirit similar to the spirit our Gothic forebears had in their blood but which we can hardly appreciated today’. (Spengler, 1922)

Bolshevism replaced one form of Petrinism with another form, clearing the way ‘for a new culture that will some day arise between Europe and East Asia. It is more a beginning than an end’. The peasantry ‘will some day become conscious of its own will, which points in a wholly different direction’. ‘The peasantry is the true Russian people of the future. It will not allow itself to be perverted or suffocated’. (Ibid.).

Spengler, the arch-Conservative anti-Marxist, in keeping with the German tradition of realpolitik, considered the possibility of a Russo-German alliance in his 1922 speech, the Treaty of Rapallo being a reflection of that tradition. ‘A new type of leader’ would be awakened in adversity, to ‘new crusades and legendary conquests’. The rest of the world, filled with religious yearning but falling on infertile ground, is ‘torn and tired enough to allow it suddenly to take on a new character under the proper circumstances’. Spengler suggested that ‘perhaps Bolshevism itself will change in this way under new leaders’. ‘But the silent, deeper Russia,’ would turn its attention towards the Near and East Asia, as a people of ‘great inland expanses’. (Ibid.)

While Spengler postulated the organic cycles of a High Culture going through the life-phases of birth, youthful vigour, maturity, old age and death, it should be kept in mind that a life-cycle can be disrupted, aborted, murdered or struck by disease, at any time, and end without fulfilling itself. Each has its analogy in politics, and there are plenty of Russophobes eager to stunt Russia’s destiny with political, economic and cultural contagion. The Soviet bloc fell through inner and outer contagion.

What Spengler foresaw for the possibilities of Russia, yet to fulfil its historic mission, messianic and of world-scope, might now be unfolding if Russia eschews pressures from within and without. The invigoration of Orthodoxy is part of this process, as is the leadership style of Putin, as distinct from a Yeltsin, for example. Whatever Russia is called outwardly, whether, monarchical, Bolshevik or democratic, there is an inner – eternal – Russia that endures and awaits its time on the world historical stage.

Umilenie_Uspenskiy

References

Nikolai Berdyaev, The Russian Idea, MacMillan Co., New York, 1948

D Brandenberger, National Bolshevism: Stalinist culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity 1931-1956. Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, 2002

T A Chumachenko, Church and State in Soviet Russia, M. E. Sharpe Inc., New York, 2002

H Cournos,‘ Introduction’, N V Gogol, Taras Bulba & Other Tales, 1842, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1197/1197-h/1197-h.htm

Dostoyevski, The Brothers Karamazov, 1880

Dostoyevski, The Possessed, Oxford University Press, 1992

Spengler, Prussianism and Socialism, 1919

Spengler, ‘The Two Faces of Russia and Germany’s Eastern Problems’, Politische Schriften, Munich, 14 February, 1922

Spengler, The Hour of Decision, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1963

Spengler, The Decline of The West, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1971

Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed: what is the Soviet Union and where is it going?, 1936

K R Bolton is a Fellow of the ‘World Institute for Scientific Exploration’. He is a contributing writer for Foreign Policy Journal. His articles have been published in the Journal of Social, Political and Economic StudiesGeopolitica (Moscow State University); India QuarterlyInternational Journal of Russian StudiesInternational Journal of Social EconomicsInstanbul Literary ReviewIrish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies (Trinity College), etc. His books include: Babel Inc.; Perón and PeronismThe Psychotic LeftArtists of the RightGeopolitics of the Indo-PacificThe Parihaka CultRevolution from AboveThe Banking Swindle

 

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Trump, the Party Pooper

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Trump, the Party Pooper

Ilana Mercer descants on the difference between political and economic power

Working people warm to Donald Trump. He appeals to a good segment of real Americans. The circle jerk of power brokers that is American media, however, lacks the depth and understanding to grasp the fellow-feeling Trump engenders in his fans.

THE MEDIA STRUMPETS

Amid sneers about Trump’s “crazy, entertaining, simplistic talk,” the none-too bright Joan Walsh, Salon editor-in-chief, proclaimed (MSNBC): “I look at those people and I feel sad. That is really such a low common denominator. They’re all Republicans … they really don’t have a firm grasp on reality.”

For failing to foresee Trump’s staying power, smarmy Michael Smerconish (CNN) scolded himself adoringly. He was what “Mr. Trump would call ‘a loser.’” Smerconish’s admission was a way of copping to his superiority. From such vertiginous intellectual heights, Smerconish was incapable of fathoming the atavistic instincts elicited by the candidate. Nevertheless, the broadcaster “quadrupled down.” The country would be delivered from Donald by Mexican drug lord El Chapo, who’d scare Trump away.

Campbell Brown, another banal bloviator, ventured that Trump resonates with a fringe and was fast approaching a time when he would, like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, “max-out the craziness” quotient.

Trump supporters were simply enamored of his vibe, said a dismissive Ellis Henican.

As derisive, another Fox News commentator spoke about the “meat and potatoes” for which Trump cheerleaders hanker. I suspect he meant “red meat.”

National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein divined his own taxonomy of the Republican Beast: the “upscale Republicans and the blue-collar Republicans.” The group of toothless rube-hicks Brownstein places in Trump’s camp.

Pollster Frank Luntz provides his own brand of asphyxiating agitprop: the little people want to elect someone they’d have a beer with.

A British late night anchor—a CNN hire!—offered this non sequitur: Trump painting himself as anti-establishment and, at the same time, owning hotels: this was a contradiction. In the mind of this asinine liberal, only a Smelly Rally like “Occupy Wall Street” instantiates the stuff of rebellion and individualism. (Never mind that the Occupy Crowds were walking ads for the bounty business provides. The clothes they wore, the devices they used to transmit their sub-intelligent message; the food they bought cheaply at the corner stand to sustain their efforts—these were all produced, or brought to market by the invisible hand of the despised John Galts and the derided working people.)

I know not what exactly the oracular Krauthammer said to anger Trump, but it was worth it: “Charles Krauthammer is a totally overrated person … I’ve never met him … He’s a totally overrated guy, doesn’t know what he’s doing. He was totally in favor of the war in Iraq. He wanted to go into Iraq and he wanted to stay there forever. These are totally overrated people.”

Even media mogul Rupert Murdoch moved in on Trump, calling him an embarrassment to his friends and to the country.

Inadvertently, one media strumpet came close to coming clean about the serial failures of analysis among her kind. Wonkette, or Wonkette Emerita, aka Ana Marie Cox, spoke of “the superfluousness of the media’s predictions and its inability to perform the service of making sense of events.” Like Smerconish, Cox is hoping against hope that the little people are having fun at her expense and “are in some way in on the joke” that is Trump.

POLITICAL POWER versus ECONOMIC POWER

To understand why his campaign has legs, it is necessary to grasp the difference between The Donald and The Career Politician. Why so? Because although his supporters can ill articulate these differences, they live them and feel them viscerally. Their reaction to Mr. Trump is informed by a sense of Trump the private citizen, the businessman, the anti-politician. As such, they grasp that Trump’s reality, incentives and motives sharply diverge from those of the professional politician. His reasons for doing what he’s doing are different.

Differently put: a successful politician and a successful businessman represent two solitudes, never the twain shall meet—except when the capitalist must curry favor with the politician so as to further his business interests, a reality brought about by corrupt politics. Trump’s donations to both parties fit a pattern forced by the regulatory state, whereby, in order to keep doing business, business is compelled to buy-off politicians.

“What, then, is the difference between economic power and political power?”

Capitalism.org supplies a succinct reply: “The difference between political and economic power is the difference between plunder and production, between punishment and reward, between destruction and trade. Plunder, punishment, and destruction belong to the political realm; production, reward, and trade belong to the economic realm.”

By definition, a professional politician is opportunistic and parasitic. For his survival, he must feed off his hosts. To convince the host to let him hook on and drain his lifeblood, the political hookworm must persuade enough of them to believe his deception. The energies of this political confidence trickster are thus focused on gaining voter confidence by promising what will never be delivered and what is impossible to deliver.

The methods of politics, encapsulated in the title of broadcaster Mark Levin’s latest book, are deceit and plunder, in that order. (And no, Mr. Levin, electing a conservative will not transform this modus operandi.) The machinery of politics is coercion and force. If elected, a politician gains power over those who did not support him as well as over those who supported him. Once in power, and backed by police power, he revels in the right to legislate and regulate vast areas in the lives of people.

Conversely, to succeed, a man in the private economy must deliver on his promises. If he doesn’t fulfill his promises, he loses his shirt. He goes belly up.

Whereas success in politics depends on intellectual deceit and economic plunder; success in the private economy indicates that an individual has delivered on his promises: he has provided goods and services people want, built buildings and resorts they inhabit and frequent, provided his investors with a return on their investment.

And he has done so using the peaceful, voluntary means of free-market capitalism. He has not passed an individual mandate to compel any and all to patronize his buildings, businesses or buy his products.

Flawed though he most certainly is—Donald Trump belongs to the category of Americans who wield economic power.

Trump has had moral and business failings aplenty. He has taken risks for which he has paid with his capital and good name. (He certainly owes recompense to the Scottish farmers of Aberdeenshire, whose lives he upended with his development.) Not given to the contemplative life, Trump is a pragmatist. He has waded into some very polluted waters. But he swims. He doesn’t drown.

To that people relate.

RAPING REALITY WITH POLITICAL THEORY

For his credibility, the politician cloaks himself in the raiment of political theory, cobbled up by liberal academics. Theory that controverts reality is his stock-in-trade. And so the politician, Democrat and Republican, will conjure “ideas”—delusional ideation really—that flout reason, the nature of man, and the natural laws of justice and economics. People, however, are smart. They sense the discrepancy between contrived political theory and reality; between conceptual frameworks that do not reflect reality, but rape it.

Examples:

The macroeconomics parroted by Democrats and Republicans dictate that economic recessions and depressions must be cured by increasing the availability of easy credit so that more spending can take place. People know this is bogus. They know they cannot “deficit” spend themselves into prosperity. Why, then, would the “country” manage to disregard the immutable laws of economics?

From the safety and comfort of rarefied zip codes, open-border theorists tutor the little people in the positive economic effects of, say, high population density on productivity and economic growth. But regular folks don’t have to travel to Cairo or Karachi to discover that this urban theory is an urban myth.

The same sort of thing happens in the hearts and minds of ordinary working men and women when Trump says Crimea is Europe’s problem. Yes, let a regional power like Germany police that neighborhood.

Or, when Trump reveals that he pays as little tax as he can. “I hate what our country does with our taxes.” A noble sentiment, because true.

Libertarian theorist Wendy McElroy explains why certain verities are second-nature: “The more basic the political issue or principle, the more likely it is to be understood by most people and to appeal to their interests.”

For example, despite pronouncements from up high that “the common man should not be allowed to judge the law” because he lacks intellectual sophistication, “the trial by jury lauded by Lysander Spooner was meant to place community opinion as a safeguard between the individual and the State. As Spooner explained, ‘The trial by jury is a trial by the country – that is, by the people – as distinguished from a trial by the government … The object … is to guard against every species of oppression by the government.’”

PARTY POOPER

That Trump is no “GOP loyalist” hardly disqualifies him from representing the Republican base, which the GOP habitually misrepresents. Given the GOP’s record; a failure to swear fealty to the Republican Party is an award-worthy failing.

On the topic of awards, James Webb, the decorated Marine who served as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the navy is no GOP loyalist, either. Webb, indisputably the last salt-of-the-earth Democrat, is considering a bid for president as a … Democrat.

Trump would do well to triangulate à la Bill Clinton, and place the talented Mr. Webb on the Trump ticket. Then, make immigration a central theme in the campaign, advance a principled, major, pro-black policy by speaking to the legalization or decriminalizing of drug use and sale—and Trump will have secured the vote of blacks, white southern Democrats and other Reagan Democrats. Like no other, drug legalization is a proxy black issue, worthy of the endorsement of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

A ticket sporting two Alpha Males, moreover, is likely to infuriate the Alpha females of media (including those with the Y chromosome).

NOBLESSE OBLIGE

In an interview with NBC, Trump explained the difference between the politicians running and a businessman like himself: He has a lot to lose. They have nothing to lose.

As a longtime observer and analyst writing in opposition to the state and the political process, I find the specter of the anti-politician—the rugged, unrefined, cowboy individualist—fascinating, certainly worthy of tracking, and quintessentially American.

Among America’s great industrialists and capitalists there has always been a long history of noblesse oblige the notion that wealth, power and prestige carry responsibilities. Public service to the American Founders meant that men put their own fortunes and sacred honor on the line. Their lives too.

Ilana Mercer is a paleolibertarian writer, based in the U.S.  She pens WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, “Return to Reason.” She is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. Her latest book is “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com.  She blogs at  www.barelyablog.com   Follow her on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/IlanaMercer “Friend” her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilanamercer.libertarian

 

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