“Love It or Leave It” – Full Circle!

November 19, 2012


There has been a lot of discussion about the surprise, even shock, felt by ‘conservatives’ at the failure of Romney to win the presidency.  Some of it, such as this article in the NYTimes today, has focused on the discomfort of right-wingers with the ‘new’ America.

Well, during the Vietnam War protest era, there was a popular bumper sticker directed at those dissidents:  America-Love It or Leave It!  Now, what goes around has come around, and I say to those guys in Montana and Wyoming who just can’t see where they fit into the new multi-cultural, irreligious, liberal-welfare-state Democratic America:  Love it or leave it, and I’d prefer that you just get up and leave, period!

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Phil Ochs redux

April 10, 2010

In an earlier post, I mentioned how Phil Och’s ‘prophecy’ fell flat, but at a tribute concert to him tonight, I was struck by this lyric from the Power and the Glory:

But our land is still troubled by men who have to hate
They twist away our freedom & they twist away our fate
Fear is their weapon and treason is their cry
We can stop them if we try

Fear is their weapon, and treason is their cry…  I was thinking about Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, featured in Gail Collins’ column today.  Those words certainly apply and could have been written about American politics today, but Phil Ochs is not here to sing about it.  He foresaw that too:

And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

Oh yeah, I guess we should change it to men and women, or people who hate…


Violence – exemplary and otherwise

February 25, 2010

The brilliant Professor Wanowsky weighs in on the most crucial political question:  evolution or revolution?

My previous post on the film, La cérémonie, evoked some comments on class conflict and violence.  This is an issue that has interested me for some time:  both the serious questions about whether or when violence is justified, or even practical;  and the way that violence is romanticized by political types of various stripes.  I consider the Left and the Right, the bolshevik and the fascist attachment to violence to be romantic, overtly so in the case of most fascists, especially the Italians, and covertly so among the devotees of the cult of terror in revolutionary Russia.  (They liked to think they were always being scientific.)

Pancime’s comment on that post got me thinking once again of an old comic by Robert Crumb – click on the image to see the entire rant by Professor Wanowsky (my italics):

Reading Sartre, Foucault, Ranciere, and current school texts and academic works in this country – all of which celebrate or promote violence – leads me to believe that there is a violent strain of the revolutionist left that is still strong and seeks to depose by violence whoever it constructs as its enemy. In this country that enemy is despised in part merely for its commitment to peaceful change.

Ah yes, the eternal argument between the “candy-assed liberals” and the real radicals committed to change.  The good Professor captures the tone of that split so well!

Pancime also pointed me to the Papin sisters, who were an inspiration to many French intellectuals (what is the matter with those guys…and gals?) and certainly to Claude Chabrol.  Two maids who maimed and killed their employers and were found huddled together in bed in 1933.  For some, there was clearly a ideological frisson to be had if you could stomach the bloodshed.

“In its broad outline, the tragedy of the Papin sisters was immediately clear to us. . .One must accuse their childhood orphanage, their serfdom, the whole hideous system set up by decent people for the production of madmen, assassins and monsters. The horror of this all-consuming machine could only be rightfully denounced by an exemplary act of horror: the two sisters had made themselves the instruments and martyrs of a sombre form of justice… For two bourgeois women hacked to pieces, a bloody atonement was required.   The killer wasn’t judged.  He acted as a scapegoat…” (my italics)

Simone Beauvoir in La Force de l’âge

This intellectual romanticizing of violence, often dissembled as hard-nosed realism, is not foreign to America:

In America all too few blows are struck into flesh. We kill the spirit here, we are experts at that. We use psychic bullets and kill each other cell by cell.

Norman Mailer

Moving along to the right, we have the oft-quoted Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who put his aesthetic into practice and  became an early supporter of Italian fascism:

War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns.

And finally, Lenin, in a rare moment of intellectual undress:

I know of nothing better than the Appassionata and could listen to it every day. What astonishing, superhuman music! It always makes me proud, perhaps with a childish naiveté, to think that people can work such miracles! … But I can’t listen to music very often, it affects my nerves. I want to say sweet, silly things, and pat the little heads of people who, living in a filthy hell, can create such beauty. These days, one can’t pat anyone on the head nowadays, they might bite your hand off. Hence, you have to beat people’s little heads, beat mercilessly, although ideally we are against doing any violence to people. Hm – what a devillishly difficult job!

This quote was spoken in full by the heroic Soviet figure skater man-of-ice while Melina, the hot socialist babe, is trying to get him to warm up to her in the fantastic film WR:  Mysteries of the Organism.


Oh, that stupid Bush!

January 4, 2009

bush_stupid2

Yes, I am getting a bit tired of all this Bush-bashing.  Frank Rich’s column in the NYTimes today is a good example.  I agree with everything in it, but really, what’s the point?  Here’s the opening, emphasis added:

WE like our failed presidents to be Shakespearean, or at least large enough to inspire Oscar-worthy performances from magnificent tragedians like Frank Langella. So here, too, George W. Bush has let us down. Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat. He’s the reckless Yalie Tom Buchanan, not Gatsby. He is smaller than life.

Uh…I’m not sure I get the logic of that clever allusion to Hannah Arendt, but I”m sure Rich’s smart fans do.  Or think they do.  And his references to all of us leads to the old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto:  “What you mean “we” white-man?”  Behind it all, Rich is separating himself and reaping satisfaction with his “I told you so’s” heaped on the Republican right.

Well, if he is going to say “We like …,” he ought to face up to the unpleasant fact that we elected him.  Yes, even those of us who didn’t vote for him!  We live here.  We aren’t renouncing our citizenship.  It’s our country, our society, and it made a big mistake.  If you want to talk about our country in the collective, you have to own up to its failures, too.  It’s like being in a family – the sins of the wayward are, in some sense, your burden, if you are truly a family.

Intellectuals like to harbor the secret thought that if everyone were just smart enough to listen to them, the one’s who are really smart, everything would go fine, but it never works that way.  People are just too…well, let’s say it, dumb! (Or are they not dumb enough?)

Rich isn’t talking about all of us, he’s talking about himself and his friends.  I happen to agree with him completely, but those yahoos who supported Bush aren’t going away, and neither am I.  We’re just going to have to find a way to exist together.


Paranoia strikes deep…

October 23, 2008
Un-American Activities Committee

Un-American Activities Committee

C’mon you Baby Boomers, sing along…”into your life it will creep…”  Well, to paraphrase Eldridge Cleaver, Un-American activities, or the alleging thereof, are as American as apple pie.

Now we have Representative Robin Hayes saying

“…liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.”

Not to mention Michele Bachmann of Minnesota who suggested that the news media should:

“…[ investigate] the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America.”

Gee, how would you know?  Funny, also, that she thinks the media, that supine tool of the Liberal Elite would do a decent job of digging out the truth.

Yep, it’s getting pretty nasty as the right wing is backed into a corner with nothing to declare but its stupidity.  And just in case you thought that this is a recent phenomenon, check out this classic essay by Richard Hofstadter on the Paranoid Style in American Politics.

This really is a right-wing thing, too.  When have you heard liberals talking about how conservatives like McCain “hate America?”  We just think he’s a jerk.