Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Parables of Memory

“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God"  (Hebrews 9:14)

Memory is the present act of reconstructing past realities.  Although past experiences may actually register in the synapses of our brains their reactivation and their composition with other registered experiences and with the constraints, impulses and thoughts we harbor is a present act.

The variables affecting the reconstruction of what we call a “memory” are limitless.  The impression made by any given event is not a single experience but a composite of atoms, like the pixels of a picture.  Each of these impression-pixels can itself be associated with some other memory, some other fear or desire, some other concept or judgement.

Let us suppose we have the recent memory of a man smiling. The contour of that smile can, on account of its actual similarity, remind us of another smile we experienced at some earlier time immediately before some traumatic event.  The way is now open to associate the disconnected traumatic event with the memory of the man smiling.

Mis-association is not the only pitfall of memory.  Our memories are also colored by our yearnings to make sense of things, to be validated or to be happy.  We all have had periods in our life which were not happy as we were living them.  And yet, years later, when looking back, we find ourselves saying with a nostalgic fondness, “those were happy years...”
The idea of memory as retrievable hard fact is the by-product of scientific rationalism.  It is correlative to the mantra of recreating an experimental fact as the touchstone of certainty.  

But this is mistaken.  The ancients did not look at memory in such an inflexible and concrete manner. They understood that memory is permeable (in terms of how things are filtered together) and flexible (in terms of how it is either condensed or stretched over time).

When they said something like “God was with us.”  they were saying something about their feeling now, about the past then.  They did not necessarily mean that “god”  as a present object was there.  

Memory is a parable.

We can have good and happy memories; bad and anguished ones. 

Sometimes a bit of both as in Passover.  We were in bondage; but god delivered us.  That is our memory; that is what we commemorate, our freedom now.    Just as we cannot see a light without being aware of the darkness outside the light, we are not remembering bondage but the light of our freedom of which bondage is only the shadow.

The psalms are full of bad memories, of negation, but they usually resolve into a remembered anticipation, an affirmation.

He was laid low but was stood up and shall come again.

Our memories can fill us with fondness and gratitude or they can fill us resentment and revanchism.  How we remember is not only a present act it is an act that defines us as we are now.

The charitable and forgiving person who acts in Christ’s name is living the memory of Christ’s sacrifice.

The ghoulish troop of long faced, weepers who are for ever never-forgetting what they call the unsurpassable horror of the holocaust, always demanding justice and obeisance before the idol of their victimhood,  are also living their memory.    

For the past week every single newspaper has been carrying some story about Auschwitz.  Any angle will do, so long as it recreates the “unspeakable.”  This, of course, is not possible.  Talking about the unspeakable is just a way of festering.

It would be pointless to recite all the titillating, treacly stories and macabre fetishism that has accompanied the memorialization of a complex of events 70 years ago.  Who has stomach, let him read.

But what is the parable being remembered here?   Is the memory a parable of freedom or of bondage?

Never forget!  Yes indeed, not forgetting is usually what memory does.

Man’s inhumanity to man!  We don’t need to remember in order not to forget this; opening our eyes would be sufficient

Never again!  But this is a canard.  Has the memory of past evils ever deferred evils to come?  Remembering the unspeakable horrors of World War I helped us to avoid World War II?   Should we be remembering the 440th anniversary of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre? 

One of the more ridiculous things ever to dribble from an academic is the notion (swallowed and regurgitated without thought) that “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”   Far more cogent to say that how we remember the past is a construct for our future.

Our memories can heal or they can fester and when they fester they only serve to revive that which festers.

The pictures of human suffering under Nazi genocide are truly wretched and awful. But they are not unique.  The mass starvation of the Ukrainian peasants, the slaughters of Armenians, the prisoner of war camps in the American Civil War, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the list of human atrocities is endless and the pictures of human suffering wretched and pathetic.  But of what use is the picture of past suffering arising in our minds or presented to our eyes as a "memory."

If I hold up a picture of my bruised and battered face either to the person who assaulted me or to anyone else I can only be proclaiming my victimization. There is no other purpose to an act which says: look at what was done to me

But for every victim there is a perpetrator; and so the act also becomes an implicit and inescapable accusation leveled not only at the perpetrator but at any one else who did not help or who or is indifferent.  

In this case, memory is simply a parable of guilt and any other rationales for monstrating the picture are tissues of hypocrisy over passive aggression.   The mawkish and maudlin commemorations of “Auschwitz” which litter the pages of the press are a festering fetish which perpetuates guilt and justification without any true redemption. 

But the cheap and cynical game has theological implications which one would do well to consider. What is being foisted in an anti-religion, an inversion, which seeks to supplant the message of eternal  resurrection for all with perpetual remorse for the benefit of a few.

Let us begin with the fact that the human soul abhors despair. All things but stones strive after life, and this includes striving after the life to come.   

Psalm 88 is the perfect song of despair.

Lord, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.

Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,

like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,

But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.

O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?

Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

Psalm 88 cannot be read without us silently crying out for anastasis, “to be stood up again”. 

Thus Psalm 44,

You have rejected us and disgraced us
 and have not gone out with our armies.

You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.

Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

 Rise up; come to our help!
 Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

But we cannot appeal to a stead-past love without remembrance of things to come, Thus Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me ...

You who fear the Lord, praise him!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;

For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

But if He rules  our Deliverance is

Psalm 22 was the prayer spoken by Christ from the Cross and it points to the real difference between true Christians and holocaust remembrancers.

The premise of the memory of the Crucifixion was that a wholly innocent and just man was through equal and perfect injustice done to death and fed to dogs.

Now, one might not believe that Jesus was Christ, and the purpose of this article is not to convince anyone that he was.  We are talking about how we talk about things and what that says about how we think and are.

The Christian memory of the Crucifixion is not only that  Jesus was a wholly just man, he was so just and so pure as to be one with God himself.   Thus, what is told in the story of the Crucifixion is a terrible paradox:  god is so deaf, so mute, so  indifferent, he despised rejected even himself.  And if God rejects himself what possible hope can there be for us?  Everything under the sun and including the sun is utterly hopeless and pointless and dead.

But although the Crucifixion narrative  brings us to that point Psalm 22 does not end there.  It stands us up again with the affirmation that the afflicted shall eat again because God rules... not did or will but now. 

As proof of this affirmation the story offers the memory of Christ’s Anastasis — his being raised up again into life. 

Well that’s a pretty story!  Indeed it is; but here is why it ought to be remembered by believers and forgetters alike.

Let us put aside the scientific question of whether all 9.2 stone of Jesus ascended into the upper stratosphere.  Let us also put aside theories of celestial accounting.  These are peripheral ways of speaking and we are concerned with parables.

No one who reads the Passion can fail to see that it echoes the Passover.  The resurrection is  the story of a new deliverance -- a point underscored in the Apostles Creed by the memory that "He descended into hell; The third day he rose again (anastasis) from the dead; He ascended into Heaven."    

What there is in the “deliverance story,” at the most prosaic level, is a mindfulness that each and all of us have the capacity to transcend — to go beyond — the deaths of memory into the remembrance of life.

This is what St. Paul was saying in his letter to the Hebrews.   St. Paul is primarily known for his insistence that "works of the law"  -- what we today would call "religiosity" -- is a dead end.  But in the quoted portion of his Letter to the Hebrews he was clearly signifying that work of the law which had become The Passover.

At the time of Jesus’s crucifixion, Passover had become a money making cult... the Passover Business. 

There was nothing bad in the memory of deliverance from bondage but that memory of old had been turned into a new bondage ruled over by a caste of priests and bureaucrats and money changers imposing all sorts of burdensome and guilt-based obligations on ordinary, struggling families.

In commemoration of Passover one had to come to Jerusalem; one had to sacrifice at least a dove; and then only  sacrificially pure doves which, (for your shopping convenience), were offered for sale at the Temple, which could only be purchased with ritually pure Temple Money which, (for your traveling convenience), could be exchanged for Roman coins at the Temple...  

It was this Passover Scam that infuriated Jesus. He went on a rampage of vandalism and got himself nailed. 

Now, I personally think that there is a higher spiritual significance to what St. Paul was talking about in his letter to the Hebrews.  But even at the simplest and most secular psychological level, Christ was saying: you don’t have to remember this way.

To which St. Paul added that if you do it is deadly and not living; it is to turn the memory of being freed from bondage into a new bondage.  It festers in the past.

The thing about things that fester is that, in addition to being obsessed and consumed by something that is rotting and without life, there usually is somebody who makes out like a bandit.  In the case of the Passover Scam it was the priesthood and their gaggle of hangers on.  In the case of the “holocaust” it is the State of Israel, which exploits the dead to its own advantage.    It does so by manipulating basic human needs.

As stated, the human soul abhors despair.  So when it comes to the genocide of Jews, the soul asks, where is the anastasis for “those who went down to the pit” at Auschwitz?  For Zionists, the answer is that the raising up from the pit is the State of Israel itself.  

All the  blather in the press — the need to never forget, to recall man’s inhumanity to man — are false conclusions.  Like a song or symphony that ends on a non-resolved note,  the non-resolution of these blabbered reasons for remembering leaves our mind thirsting for the real but unspoken justification which lurks in the wings: Israel.  None of the press stories actually state the Q.E.D. of ergo Israel.  It is done underhandedly and works because all men desire and will fill in a happy ending. 

In and of itself this happy ending is a reasonable hypothesis. As a plain geopolitical decision, an identifiable group which has had its ass severely kicked is warranted in packing its bags and removing to a safer place.   The cheat of the business is not that Nazi genocide did not  provide an arguable reason for the anastasis of a reborn physical Israel. It is rather that “resurrection of Israel” is bought through exacting perpetual guilt and submissive acceptance of Israel’s kingship in the land as well as other  useful political and economic demands.

It is unnecessary to go into all the gambits in which the card is played.   Suffices to note that the self-appointed guardians of this memory,  at Yad Vashem, have decreed that certain non-Jews may be certified as "righteous Gentiles"  if, upon review, it is determined that they undertook certain acts to save Jews with the sole intent and for the sole purpose of saving Jew.

It seems to have escaped notice that the category of a "righteous Gentile" by necessary implication gives rise to the counter-category of an unrighteous one and, since only a select few are deemed worthy enough to be called "righteous," the rest of us are not. 

This unilateral process of selection is an echo of the same differentiating game played by the temple priesthood and Pharisses of yore who, on the basis of various works and criteria, allowed that certain Gentiles (generally referred to as the "unrighteous") were clean enough to be allowed into the company of Jews, into synagogue and the outer court-yard of the Temple it self.  This differentiation imposed on others was as much a vexatious burden as the various strictures imposed by the priesthood on the Jews themselves and the early Christian Movement rejected both. 

Every scam has its sucker and what is being foisted here by way of ostensible "commemoration" is a lot of guilt, remorse and accepted self-negation paving the way for ongoing acquiescence to the Jewish State. 

It is a business which ultra orthodox Jews themselves reject because they consider it blasphemous to write over the name of the Lord with that of Israel.  They would argue that the vindication spoken of Psalm 22 comes from performing Israel’s vows before those who fear Him; that is, from adhering to the Torah.  No less and no more.    They would point out that when the Israelites demanded of Samuel that he give them a “king to rule over us so that we may like unto other nations” they were turning away from the true hope of the covenant.

To this the Zionists answer that the new vow is the State of Israel which offers living works on the corpse of a fully burnt sacrifice.   And it is true certainly true that in 1948, Zionist Jews reclaimed a new life for themselves on land inhabited by others.  Problematic as their territorial claims might be their efforts, as such, to stand themselves up again cannot be gainsaid.  

The orthodox rejection of Israel notwithstanding Auschwitz and the Zionist affirmation of Israel because of Auschwitz  stand in equipoise.  But this equipoise — these alternatives — are not the only choice.  In fact, to a certain extent they present a false dichotomy inasmuch as each, in its own way, perpetuates what might be called the "obligations of self-differentiation."  In contrast, heart of Christianity is that the gift of redemption is free and for all and which "rains on the just and the unjust alike."

What is occurring with the present commemorations -- and what the press unwittingly perpetuates -- is a substitution of Israel for the Lamb of God.  But these two memories — the Zionist and the Christian — are not exchangeable alternatives.

Let us return to pictures. Jesus hanging on the Cross is the very paradigmatic picture of the battered victim. If I were to hold up that picture and say: see what you did to me! I would be engaging in pure passive aggressive guilt peddling, as we have already discussed.  I simply could not be doing anything else.  There is no other point.

But here’s the funny thing about Jesus’ bruised and battered picture: you could say: no, that is me  hanging on the Cross!  And some passerby hearing us both claiming to be the victim in the picture could say: no, you are both wrong it is I who hangs on the Cross.  Before you know it everyone is claiming to be Jesus hanging on the Cross.  It is in this way that the memory of the Crucifixion becomes a parable for all of humanity’s suffering throughout all time.

It is not just that “God” is the “All of Us.”  It is that the all of us together — can't equally be victims and perpetrators without canceling out our debts.  The bottom line becomes that, by being the symbol of all of us, the Son of Man is both all of us and none of us and so “carries away the sins of the world.”

Now this may just be a psychological trick — the mechanics of how transference and scapegoating work.  But in playing the trick, it is important that we choose the right goat — a goat who is neither one nor another, neither one of the “righteous” nor of the “unrighteous” but any and all.

It is in this way that the memory of the Crucifixion is not causative but transformative. Being a sacrifice of one and all, for one and all, it simply blasts away all constraints of justice, fairness, wrong and recompense, in a burst of blinding light.

It is of course absurd to say that God created sin, only to require repayment from himself and thereby undo the effect of sin.  But that kind of logical ridicule misses the point. 

The heart of Christianity is not celestial accounting but rather to remember despair in a way that constitutes hope once and for all.  The logical absurdity of Christianity is a composition of memory that associates and subsumes evil in an all-embracing resurrected good. Forget the past and remember the future. 

In contrast the Auschwitz Passover is not about liberation but about perpetual bondage imposed not only on all the nations and gentiles called “unrighteous”  but, ultimately, in terms of festering obsessions, on Israel itself. 

When liberation is turned into a business, whether the Passover Business, the Indulgences Business, the Televangical Business or the Auschwitz Business, it is perverted and anastasis is laid low.

I say, let the dead bury the dead.

©Woodchipgazette, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Give Us Our SecuriFree !

Massive crowds, estimated at two million people, marched down the streets of Paris on Sunday in solidarity and protest against the Charlie Hebdo murders. The demonstration was led by a coterie of forty presidents and prime ministers reflecting the established Political World Order.  It was all so.... Orwellian.

What was the protest for?  Was it a popular manifestation of shock, revulsion and sadness?  Paris (and other cities across the world) had already seen four days of that.  Was it a protest against an unpopular law or for some economic policy?  No such demands were audible or visible.  If it was a protest against terrorism and fanaticism (and conversely in support of freedom and tolerance) that cri de coeur had also been made.  So what then was the purpose of such a massive demonstration accompanied by an equally massive security operation? 

Cherchez le politicard.

When politicians take to walking down streets, they do so on behalf of an agenda.  What excuses and demagoguery they use to get others out onto the streets is one thing; what they want to achieve by the theatrics is quite another.

Why was Bibi Netanyahu walking one arm-link away from Francois Hollande in centre file?  Is he truly shocked and dismayed at the shooting up of a paper that the CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France) had itself accused of anti-semitism?  Oh please. As we discuss elsewhere, Israel is seeking to turn this tragedy to its own geo-political advantage.  Bibi is pounding the streets of Paris because he wants to insinuate Israel into the concept of “Europe” and wants Europe to adopt Israel’s weltanaschauung.

But what motivates Holland, Merkel and Cameron?  The answer is simple and was stated in advance by Manuel Vals, the Republic’s prime minister,

Nous sommes dans une guerre contre le terrorisme.

Le voilá!

Simply put, the vast manifestation was a grand war whoop,  a demonstration of National Unity in the upcoming war on terrorism.

Upcoming?  Ongoing.  We have seen this before, virtually play by play after 9-11. The only difference is that, since the United States lacks a grand central concourse, its public assembly ends up being a  National Tune-in to some staged event  such as the memorial service at which  George W. Bush intoned,

"War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. ... This is true of a nation as well. Today, we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called, 'the warm courage of national unity.' This is a unity of every faith and every background ...  And this unity against terror is now extending across the world."
It was with these words that Bush launched the First War on Terror.

The whooping today is the same.  In either case “national sentiment” — the sum of individual emotions — is stirred up in favor of girding up and going out against the Them.  Vals could not have been more explicit,

"What do the terrorists aim to achieve?  To create fear, to divide the French against one another.  We need to be stronger than that.   This is a test — which I have no doubt will make us stronger — for France to rise to the challenge.   It will no doubt be necessary to take new measures to respond to the (terrorist) menace."
Meanwhile, it was quietly reported by the Wall Street Journal that the White House had announced it would convene a summit next month “on ways the U.S. and other governments can counter violent extremism and domestic radicalization.”

Indeed, at the very time the crowds were gathering in La Place de la République, U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder was gathering behind closed doors with his counterparts from Canada, Australia and Europe.  

What are they about?   As reported by Deutsche Welle,

"French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Sunday reiterated a call for the European sharing of airline passenger data ...  [T]he dozen EU, US and Canadian ministers who met Sunday at Paris's Elysee Palace, including Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, also called for a strengthening of controls at the EU's external borders - while respecting fundamental rights, to trace extremists returning to Europe from the Middle East.   .. It would go beyond existing arrangements [which] already share PNR data with security forces ... including names, addresses and credit card numbers." 

According to de Maizier the "hour has struck" for ever more comprehensive surveillance measures.  But the proposals include far more than "mere" data mining and air-travel monitoring.   As Vals said, the aim is to take measures against "violent extremism and domestic radicalization.”

The Cheat of Conjunction

As we have pointed out before, whenever hucksters, politicians or lawyers use the word “and” you should know that a fast one is being pulled.  The conjunction serves to unite two things which are not necessarily the same  but which  by virtue of their being conjoined are made to appear in pari materia.   Two things follow.  First,  the second thing appears as conceptually redundant and as a result gets ignored.   Conversely,  justification  for the first thing washes over tacitly justifies the second by mere "association" rather than any logical connection.

Thus, in this case, most people do not hear or think about "domestic radicalization" and what that might mean in and of itself.   At the same time whatever feelings or justifications they attach to "violent extremism" get ported over to "domestic radicalization."   And so, just as we must fight the one, we certainly must fight the other (whatever it is exactly).
But taking measures against “violent extremism” and taking measures against “domestic radicalization” are two different kettles of fish.  The first, as reported, involves security measures such as air-port security, visa-controls, surveillance of suspect groups.   The second, however, entails the government taking measures against designated opinions and attitudes.  It entails interdictions  and counter-measures against opinions and political agendas labelled as “radical.”

Free speech?  Market place of competing ideas?  More like Ministry of Adjustments.  Around the world the press dutifully and stupidly cranked the whole thing up as Liberty and Fraternity gloriously making itself heard and felt.

In fact, the massive farce was utterly transparent: the nations of Europe are being softened up for a Second War on Terrorism.  Those same French masses which oppose military excursions, which are disgusted with Israel’s intransigence and who do not want to live as inmates in a continental prison are induced to swallow their own enslavement.

Charlie lo vult!

It’s an old story.  Freedom is prostituted to fears over security with assurances that Liberty retains her virtue intact.  The poisonous remedies which encompass all are displaced onto the perennial them. Don’t worry, it will not affect you....  Chemotherapy is only directed at the cancer. 

The French and the Germans never understood the first thing about free speech anyways.  It is time they took a page from James Madison

"Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency."  (Federalist Paper No. 10)
Madison’s point, which all too many Americans  are themselves too cowardly to abide, is that liberty entails risks.  You cannot have free speech without giving offense to someone over something.  And if offense is felt deeply enough, as it often is over things of fundamental importance, over-reaction is a foreseeable consequence.

This over-reaction includes lone gunmen as in the case of Charlie Hebdo.  It also includes government acting through the force of alien and sedition laws or laws against “ethnic defamation” or “inciting discredit” and similar labels used to dress up of censorship.

It is too choice for words.  In the name of Charlie Hebdo in sacred memory of “le bête et méchant” (the "dumb and nasty" - Charlie's trademark motto) the governments of the West will now coordinate measures against  "bêtes méchants"  designated as “domestic radicals.”

It is also too hypocritical to stomach.  At the very time the leaders of the "Civilized World" were pounding the pavement on behalf of a free press, Saudi Arabia was inflicting the first 50 of 1,000 lashes on Raif Badawi, a blogger who had dared criticize Islam and who was sentenced to ten years in prison by our ally and oil supplier.    Was anyone chanting Je suis Badawi?  

Give us our Securifree!!!

However, beyond mere hypocrisies, the European power structure is caught in an even greater dichotomy, not simply between its propaganda and its goals but between the goals themselves.

At first, this appears as political dilemma: the political establishment it is being forced into solidarity with the anti-immigrant and anti-Euro right.   In Germany the government is caught between condemning Islamic extremism and denying that Islam presents any threat to social cohesion. In France, Marine Le Pen, head of the National Front, is invited to the presidential mansion but excluded from walking in the national manifestation.

Behind such dilemmas lies the policy contradictions between multi-cultural open immigration and politically correct (i.e. ideologically controlled) national security. 

The warmongering, austerity-imposing ruling class of Europe wants the public to accept open immigration and the concept of a multicultural Europe.   The elites want open immigration primarily because, on various levels, it is the correlative of free-trade in goods and free-flows of capital investment abroad.  They want a so-called multicultural society because that is simply a pretty name for a value-free consumer society without any higher moral, aesthetic or cultural referents.

In a word, the establishment's "all embracing"  liberal cultural values are synchronized with and indeed ensue from its all encompassing (global) economic liberalism.   This is not a question of options but of inevitabilities.

A step back might help to see what is going on.   The so-called multicultural society is the culmination of utilitarian laicisme.  Indeed, in the various Vapeurs du Jour, which filled the air over the weekend, political heads repeatedly talked about vindicating the Spirit of ’89 and the principles of liberal universality.  

Prior to the Revolution, the rule had been eius regio cuios religio.  This was the political formula which ended the disaster of the Reformation War.  It was based on a 17th century species of pan-European multiculturalism, viz.: in each realm, the official and mandatory religion would be that of the realm’s ruler.  Contiguous diversity:  Europe became multi-sectarian on a jurisdictional level. France was Catholic, Saxony was Lutheran, Holland Calvinist, England Anglican, Poland Catholic, Lithuania Lutheran and so on.   This multi-sectarian tableau became the point of departure for modern European national-cultural identities.


The French Revolution sounded the tocsin of egalité and began a convulsive yet consistently coalescive process towards economic integration and cultural homogenization.   This is not to say that unifying principles had not existed before.  Indeed, a unifying ideology is what Christendom was all about.  But 1789 changed  the groundwork.  Liberalism became the new foundation. Religion was tolerated so long as it was  either harmless or served to support the all-sovereign state.

The toleration was not all that deep.  One of the major domestic issues in France in the latter half of the 19th century centered on driving the Church out of education.  During Germany's Kulturkampf Bismarck and the National Liberals (that was the name of the party) sought to drive the Church out of politics altogether.    The secular and capitalist nation-state wanted to "clear the path" that lay before it for something it called "progress and development."

We are acculturated into thinking that liberalization is a good thing; and, up to a certain point, it probably is, even if the draw-backs of social conformism have just as probably been exaggerated.  But all things depend on degree.  There is a difference between liberalism and levelling.

As of  2015, the regents of Europe do not want any religion worth its salt. Such a religion might actually dare to call into question the principles of capitalist plunder and exploitation.  No. The regents want the religion of iClouds and iStuff.  Their fetish idol is the fetish of the commodity, in which people themselves must become commodified labor commodities — that is, units of purchasable labor whose “personal” details are themselves bought bought and sold.


The traditionalist Society of Pius X is the last thing the politicians want.  Even Le Pen does not want it, although she likes to give off an air that perhaps she personally has Tridentine sympathies. Ideological irredentism (of whatever stripe) obstructs the ideal of a "non-judgemental" consumer society based on free-flows of capital and labor.

Multiculturalism is simply the mask worn by an economy that in fact produces global cultural homogenization.  If Marx were alive he would call it the (new)  opiate of the masses.

It is not merely that the political establishment wants only that kind of diversity and free expression which coincides with and promotes the consumer state.  It  is more that a civilization which forsakes any higher referent other than being a secular and neutral mechanism for the pursuit of profit and gratification ultimately will engender a junk culture wrapped in meaningless tolerance.   That is what all the Kumbaya is really about.
In similar fashion, the ruling elites only want that kind of "right of asylum and migration" which serves, without jeopardizing, their economic interests.  The so-called mandate for "open" immigration policies is not a choice made in the abstract.   Just as "multiculturalism" is the dressing for consumption, "immigration" is the dressing for production.  Although it might seem paradoxical, flows of people "in" is the correlative to sourcing jobs "out."  The are both facets of the dynamic of globalization.

Expressed in diplomatic terms: France cannot  maintain "economic relations" with its former African colonies without also maintaining "human relations" (i.e. open migration) with them.  Expressed in military terms:  Europe is pushed into conducting or cooperating in military operations abroad and, by the same token, pulled into protecting itself against blow-back.   

The distilled result of these faceted ruling-class interests is that the multicultural "human right" requirement of open immigration actually reinforces the need for surveillance against undesirables and, as a result, to put all of civil society under surveillance.   Policing the borders and policing inside the borders become coincident objectives.

It is a neat trick. 

It is of course true that most governments have always controlled immigration and have sought to limit or encourage the types of people who were allowed into a country.  The present difficulties arise from the fact that governments are not limiting themselves to filtering out “types” so much as they are seeking to filter attitudes, propensities, thoughts.  This precisely is why politicians speak of “violent terrorism and domestic radicalization.”

It is easy enough to bar entry to a known terrorist or to someone bearing a Kalishnikov under his robes.  It is another matter to allow entry to an ordinary looking Muslim and thereafter monitor his writings, his emails and his contacts to ensure that he is not changing his value-structure by undergoing “radicalization.”


There is nothing wrong and everything right with respecting differences and with recognizing the essential humanity within every hue and every gender.   However, the problem with the whole “diversity” slogan is that it actually states an impossibility when it is applied to any unitary society.  Once again English.

Diversity means "a state of difference; dissimilitude; unlikeness."  It derives from di-versus meaning "in different directions."  How can something be convergent and divergent at the same time?   It cannot.  Multiculturalism is only possible when it is fundamentally meaningless. What the “diversity” banner masks, in social fact, is a reductionism in which cultural and ideological differences are trivialized and replaced by a commonality of fungible "styles." 

Of necessity, economic globalization produces cultural equalization.  This is not a problem in the United States because that country was founded on the principle of a-culturalism,  which is what Puritanism was all about. But it remains an ongoing problem of regret in Europe which has two millenia of identity at its back.
On the other hand,  because economic globalization is based on immigration into first world countries in tandem with economic penetration into third world regions,   Europe of necessity must open itself not only to "differences" but to resentments which flow form its exploitation of other peoples and its  suppression of their cultural identities through the force of economic globalization.

It is this fact which "islamo-terrorists" repeatedly complain of to a tone deaf West which just as repeatedly  ignores its own terror from the skies and ongoing attempts to pilfer resources for itself.  From the highlands of the Andes to the fertile crescent, indigenous people understand very clearly the connection between economy and culture -- between economic penetration and cultural colonialism.

To the Marie-Antoinettes in the First world, the rhetoric from Third sounds retrograde, primitive and brutal.  While that may be true in the abstract, in real terms the Jihadists see more clearly and feel more immediately the West's agenda, double talk and double standards.   

This is not to excuse anyone's barbarities.  Where the human race is concerned there is enough obscenity to go around.  It is to point out that  the converse to the West's colonialist multiculturalism is anti-colonialist fundamentalism.  Each side resorts to that cultural ideology (howsoever labelled or mis-labelled) which suits its geo-political purposes.   If the West were as sincerely multicultural as it claims to be, it would at least acknowledge and address the grievances that lie behind the word "Jihad."  But the power elite of the United States and Europe have no interest in any of that.

Instead,  the European power structure is encouraging the very thing (open multi-ethnic immigration) which is then used as the justification for extending the tentacles of the Orwellian state.   What Manuel Vals calls a "war against terrorism" is more accurately described as a war for colonization and security behind a shield of prettified, politico-cultural homogeneity.   What the neoliberal regimes of the world are actually imposing is austerity and security on colonized and colonizers alike all in the name of "universal human rights."  The whole thing is a canard and it is a dismal sight to see le tout monde walking and  like quacking ducks into the pen.

©WoodchipGazette 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Je Suis Tintin!

Yurp, has been all a-tither over the murder of Stéphane Charbonnier and eight other contributors to the French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo.

Founded in 1969 and resurrected in 1992 by Charbonnier, the magazine was a mostly quip-and-‘toon rag that specialised in being “dumb and nasty” from a leftish point of view.  In fact, bete et méchant was the magazine’s motto cribbed from an early-on outraged letter to the editor.  Precisely!  Oui aux betises!

Charlie Hebdo’s trademark was cartoon covers

 Drawn in the French cartoon style of Asterix

Or Lucky Luke

and designed to give offense.

We chipsters never followed Charlie Hebdo all that much since political satire tends to be specific to its country of origin and, much as we love France, we do not (hélas) live there.
But even if we had we would not have because, on balance, Charlie always struck us as consummately jejune.  This is not to say that its editors were without esprit.  One has to smile at witticisms like Charbonnier’s remark that Charlie’s editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers"  (2010)

But on balance, the magazine reflected (in our view) precisely what is wrong with that mélange that passes for today’s leftish ideology.  Charlie Hebdo was, in two words, trite and superficial. It transposed serious and fundamental issues into the realm of style and “social choices.”

This is not to say that we did not agree with components of left wing pluralism.  It is rather to say that mere agreement is not enough.  Even dogs can agree.

Nevertheless, jejune as Charlie Hebdo may have been,  there can be no excuse or tolerance for the brutal murder of cartoonists.  The multiple-murder was an assault on our precious right to give offence.

But the brouha which has ensued is totally out of proportion to the deed.  From the rassemblements and huff-puffing one would think that France had just experienced another Fronde   Disgusting as the murder was, it did not shake the foundations of the state.   After all, France has seen the like before,

Has anyone noticed the contradictions?

The French government condemns the “assault on free speech” but who who was it that shut down the magazine for “abusing” free speech when, in 1970, Charlie Hebdo (then known as Hebdo Hara-Kiri) spoofed the death of former president Charles De Gaulle.

When, in 2006, Charlie published a cartoon ridiculing  Muslim fundamentalists the magazine was condemned by President Jacques Chirac for engaging in “overt provocations.”

Although the magazine’s editor was acquitted in the ensuing prosecution, he had still been put in jeopardy of a $40.000 fine and/or six months in jail for racial/ethnic “defamation”.

Both French and German law subject listed controversial and/or prohibited issues to heightened judicial scrutiny in a manner which would be considered chilling to free speech under U.S. law.   The condemnations from the political caste ring — if not hollow —  tinny.

The people shout “We are Charlie”  but have they noticed who their shoulder-to-shoulder neighbors are?

The murder has managed an alchemy which was previously thought unachievable: solidarity between the political establishment and the Front National

Across the Rhine, the established, German political class (including the ecclesiastical hierarchies) has arrayed itself against the  cross-spectrum, grass-roots movement known as PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization) which has been protesting the “islamization” of Europe.  “Anti-Fa” counter demonstrations were held by the  muliticultural social left.

PEGIDA demonstration

Overnight, the German political class now finds itself condemning “radical islam” or “islamo-terrorism” while the multicultural, pro-immigrant left is reduced to drawing subtle distinctions.

In a burst of Allahu-Akbar’s and rapid-fire, the gunmen have managed a radicalisation of the West which the anti-immigrant parties by themselves could not have achieved.

But far more threatening to free speech is the penumbral talk about increasing the scope of surveillance under the tried and tried rubric of “insuring that this never happens again.” 

Needless to say, just as it did hours after the 9/11 attacks, Israel has jumped on the bandwagon to identify itself with the victims.  Prime Minister Netanyahoo declared “Israel is being attacked by the very same forces that attack Europe. Israel stands with Europe. Europe must stand with Israel.”

More worrisome than such filched victimhood was his statement that “These extremists are part of a global movement and this necessitates a global response.”

How so exactly?

As we have said many times before, the problem with an amorphous “enemy” — an enemy that could be anyone anywhere — is that it requires an equally amorphous response.  It was precisely the same call  to respond to, to root out and prevent terrorism that led to the U.S. Patriot Act and the establishment of the national security state.

The problem with terrorism has always been that at bottom it is simply a criminal act, like any other criminal act. It consists in some prohibited conduct which could take place anywhere, anytime by anybody.  The blood-bath at Charlie Hebdo was no different from a serial killer shooting from a university tower or any murder in the bedroom.  Such criminal conduct can be punished after the fact once its perpetrators have been chased down and caught.  But it is impossible to prevent it without establishing omnipresent surveillance — which is a nice way of saying “without turning society itself into a vast prison complex.”

If someone had desired to trigger yet further police surveillance in Europe, the Charlie Hebdo massacre would have been the ideal false flag operation.

Europe does face cultural and social problems arising from its immigration policies.  Islam is (proportionally speaking) far more fundamentalist than watered-down and secularized Christianity.  Last but not least, the West can hardly expect to intervene, instigate insurrections,  invade, exploit and oppress Middle Eastern countries without there being predictable blow-back.   Religious slogans have always been used as flags fluttering over other causes and grievances.

But as difficult as these problems might be, Europe now faces the perils that ride upon waves of demagoguery and whipped up indignation.   The first rule of anything is to do no harm and the first rule of doing no harm is to do nothing.

Je suis Tintin!

©Woodchipgazette, 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Empty Manifestations

It is commonly said that the Orthodox celebrate “Christmas” on the 6th of January instead of the 25th December.  Like most commonly said things, that is not quite correct.

Both the Latin and Orthodox traditions commemorate the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December and his “manifestation” (epi-phania) to the world on the 6th of January.  The difference is more in where the beat or accent to a rhythm is placed.  In either tradition, the essence of the matter is to commemorate the divine power shining through the human form, Jesus.

In Mexico, the Epiphany is celebrated by drinking chocolate and eating a rosca.

A rosca is essentially a fruited-brioche

As one might expect, the origins of a “rosca” are in fact pagan, deriving from ancient agricultural fertility rituals in which a bread baked with figs, honey and fruits was returned to Earth as an offering to the spirits of a good yield.  

In the Ibero-American Christian tradition, roscas are also eaten at Easter (Rosca de Pascua) and on the Feast of Corpus Cristi in early June. 

As is well-known, Christianity effected a subtle inversion of pagan orientations.  Instead of offerings from us to a god, the sacrifice was converted into an offering of  the god to us.   But in all events, the rosca embodies some vernacular form of the eating of a “divine bread.”

In Spain and Mexico, the divine substance is underscored by hiding a small figurine of the baby Jesus (or alternately a fava bean) somewhere inside the rosca.

When the rosca is sliced up and parceled out, the person who bites down on the baby Jesus must present the figurine in church on Candlemas Day (Día de la Candelaria) on Feburary 2nd.  In Mexico, this person must also host a dinner of tamales and atole.

Some people, prefer chocolate (again) to atole.

Some people, still, prefer nothing.

Yesterday, some acquaintances of ours posted pictures of themselves eating the “traditional” rosca.  We were struck by the fact that not one of them depicted or mentioned anything of religious significance.  Not even a token.

The entire matter was presented as: on this day we eat cake.

Wow!  Now that is significant! 

Why do you eat cake? And why on this day?  Why not post picture of yourself eating cake on March 23rd or, for that matter, August 6th? 

What the whole thing bakes down to is a self-warranting celebration of national self: this is what we Spaniards, Mexicans or Argentines do on this day as a sign of our Mexican-ness, Argentinian-ness... hispanidad.

Why?  Because.

This demonstrates the bankruptcy of so-called cultural Catholicism or cultural Islam or cultural Jewishness.  It is simply an empty glorification of self without further significance or connection to anything.  It is like eating the corn husks of tamales without the enclosed substance of the tamal. 

It is an empty epiphany.

©WCG, 2015