Thursday, October 27, 2011

October, 1917

Too few are being taught. Idolisation is not teaching. Statements are important, but simple assertion isn't fact. If I were young today, chances are I would be caught up in the web of what passes for education. When I was young, one of the features of my bedroom was the built-in bookshelves of the family's books. Everything, from Asimov to Wagner was in those shelves. Including an edition of Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia.

I had a grandmother who would send me books for Christmas. Not exciting, but because of her, I had books like Bruce Catton's "The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (1960)." I was a child of both, North and South. On one side of my grandmother's family, is an uncle who was buried on Island Number Ten. On the other, was a family who grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma, raised on Southern values of courtesy, grace and charm. Reading Catton was, for a young boy, a look at the fury of the years from 1861 to 1865. In 1965 I was lucky enough to visit the battlefield of Gettysburg. On that trip, I walked the Freedom Walk in Boston. I listened to a concert at Lincoln Center. I watched the dancers at Radio City Music Hall.

Gettysburg was different. My father had been involved with Columbia Records. And the visit to the New York office of Columbia Records is a memory. But my dad and I had different beginning and ending points. (Someday, maybe, my son will post this part of the family 8mm film to utube. If he does, I'll provide you a link.) I really don't know why he took this trip. What drove him to New York. (I have my thoughts.) Thankfully, as a ten year-old, my consciousness didn't allow for a lot of externalities. On this trip, through North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ontario and Quebec, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma (where I had my first tornado) the lasting memories were divided by my time at the New York World's Fair, and my time at Gettysburg.

Gettysburg. The final battle in the War Between the States.

Compared to Gettysburg, every subsequent confrontation between the North and South were conditioned by Gettysburg. Sherman's "March to the Sea" would not have been possible without Gettysburg. History has a way of teaching, if you choose to read books. My books, when ten, were encyclopedias and Bruce Catton. As I grew older, again I turned to Bruce Catton and his trilogy on the Civil War. I read others, of course, and studied American History in college, with some magnificent professors. Constitutional Law. Philosophy. Several law courses on the First Amendment. Oh, Russian History, too.

After my Freshman year, I decided that K-12 Education wouldn't be too much of a fit. Did you ever take Psych 201? I mean, fergawdsakes, what kind of duncity must one bridle before one asks, "are you sure?" Instead I took after more amenable pursuits. I didn't mind the incoherence of certain subjects. I read Sartre, Rousseau, Kant, Freud, Mann, Jung, Campbell (of course), Madison, Smith, Hume, Yeats, Hemingway and lots of other dopes. For a while I was an Honor's student. I couldn't stand being a part of the "elite."

(h/t Ace.)

The "elite" are populated by persons who hold intensely personal beliefs. Not generally accepted beliefs. Things like treat your neighbor decently. Keep you nose out of other people's business. No. The social restraints of minding your own business are not the hallmarks of a member of the Elite. Now, it may be posited, that I view myself as a member of a certain elite. I'm well educated, I read difficult books, I have my own business. I can do a lot of the math. I know what is a standard deviation.

I also believe that you have as much political right to express your views as I have. No more, and no less. And, I believe that your right to express your views are as important as is my liberty to express mine. But what I'm seeing now, what we're experiencing now in our government, exceed pure political expression. Our government is now moving against us, in ways that are seemingly without limit.

Let me borrow a few words from an alert I received through one of the trade associations I belong to;

"New Workplace Posting Requirements"

"The new rule, which takes effect on November 14, 2011, requires employers to post an 11-by-17-inch notice in all places where other personnel notices are typically posted. In addition, employers who customarily communicate with employees about personnel rules or policies on intranet or internet sites must also post the required notice on those sites. The rule sets forth the content of the required notice, including information about employees' rights to form, join, or assist a union; to bargain collectively; to join in other concerted activities; and to refrain from such activities. The notice must be posted in a foreign language where 20 percent or more of an employer's workforce is not proficient in English."

In a footnote to the memorandum is this:

"Generally, the NLRA covers most private sector employers that engage in interstate commerce above certain de minimis levels. The NLRB has set revenue-based jurisdictional limits that vary among categories of employers' industries. These limits include, for example, $100,000 for office buildings and shopping centers, $250,000 for law firms, and $1 million forcolleges, universities, and other private schools (the highest revenue limit listed in the jurisdictional standards). If no specific revenue-based jurisdictional standard is listed in the regulation, the NLRB generally applies a $50,000 threshold before asserting jurisdiction over an entity engaged in interstate commerce. In addition, there are several employer categories over which the NLRB asserts jurisdiction regardless of revenue levels, including, notably, enterprises in the District of Columbia, financial information organizations, accounting firms, professional sports, and stock brokerage firms."

This over the posting of an 11-by-17-inch poster. And the size of the poster is important. One can't simple download the poster and post it on an 8 by 11-1/2 inch sheet of paper. That would be too easy.

I spent too much time today, reviewing the Youtube postings of the Occupy Portland crowd. Are there anarchists? Yes. Are there Socialists? Yes. Are there Communists? Yes.

There was a time when teaching our children meant giving them the tools to think critically for themselves. In our public schools, that time has long passed. Teachers teach to give themselves authority and paychecks. They envision themselves as part of the "elite" described above.

Gettysburg. The last great battle of the South. When you walk the battlefield, you see the field where Pickett's Charge occurred. You see the Devil's Den. You stand in the Devil's Den. You see the impossibility of the moment.

So, the impossibility of the moment.

October, 1917.

Forces from around the world flocked to partake in the moment that was the Russian Revolution. Earlier that year, Oregon had defeated Pennsylvania in the 3rd Rose Bowl. (14-0) Woodrow Wilson begins his second term. Within months, the United States decided it was in the national interest to send troops to occupy Arkangelsk. Inside Moscow, agitators of all sorts had descended. Emma Goldman. John Reed (from Portland.) The first Progressives had all the thematic and intellectual strength of that we currently perceive of the OWS movement. Everyone has an idea, and no one has any basis in any type of definable system of thought, whether ontological, metaphysical or epistemological, to make any coherent statement.

You cannot debunk the Brownian motion of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Which was the place Moscow found itself, following the Revolution of 1917.

We can kill the Tsar. And then, we can declare victory and begin to kill the useful idiots.

What we cannot do, is ever return to the moment when the South declared independence from the nation. If we give up our Constitutional form of government, which seems to be the process that our President is taking us through, if the Courts decide that outcomes are more important than the words on a document, then the nation is theirs for the taking. Our nation is one of law, not of men.

Today, the Administration is taking great strides in establishing a form of government that exceeds the boundaries of our Constitution. There are men and women, in the House, and in the Senate, who are attempting to retain for us our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and liberties. There are propagandists in the media who view themselves as members of an elite caste of citizen, for whom the rules of individual rights and responsibilities no longer applies. The Fourth Estate has become co-opted by the forces of entitlement and avarice. Oh, and a certain, dull stupidity. Why worry about a Fifth Column, when the Fourth Estate is willing to do the job, itself?

The whole thing is too reminiscent of the writings of contemporary authors of the Russian Revolution. Yeah, I know that turn-of-the-century history isn't important. Because it was so long ago, and no longer relevant. But imagine, if you had a library, where you could find books of critics of the Russian Revolution, free to you, to peruse. But we're burning books. We're looking to close libraries. We're going to become a Kindle-World, where only the books offered on our Kindles will be the books we read.

It's like burning the Library of Alexandria. (Which you've never heard of.)

Do you know why the Communist Party of the United Socialist Soviet States of Russia was originally called the Bolshevik Party?


MAX Redline said...

Do you know why the Communist Party of the United Socialist Soviet States of Russia was originally called the Bolshevik Party?

It is what John Stuart Mill and others cautioned against. It is why our country is not a democracy, but a representative republic.

I had a grandmother who would send me books for Christmas.

As did I.

ZZMike said...

"After my Freshman year, I decided that K-12 Education wouldn't be too much of a fit."

Our church organist (and pianist, flautist, tenor, and counter-tenor) is going for a teaching degree. He told me that there are required "diversity" courses he has to take. One of the professors, a black woman, failed everybody in a test in one class. Minorities also seemed, for some unfathomable reason, to get better grades.

"...originally called the Bolshevik Party?"

Because the other one was the Menshevik. Bolshevik, from the same root as "Bolshoi Ballet" ("big")

The "elites" are the quintessential Ph.D.s - they know more and more about less and less, eventually knowing everything about nothing.

"Library of Alexandria. (Which you've never heard of.)"

Of course I've heard of it. There's one at 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA. No record of a fire, though. I did hear mention of a small fire in the Greek Collection, though.

There is a subtle difference between the streets of Moscow in 1916-7 and the streets of Portland, New York, L.A., ...: The police aren't riding through shooting.

"Today, the Administration is taking great strides in establishing a form of government that exceeds the boundaries of our Constitution."

You've probably seen this post by your colleague, Max:

Redifining Transparency

"The proposed rule directs federal law enforcement agencies, ..., to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests "as if the excluded records did not exist."

They call it "transparency". We call it "lie".