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Venezuela has changed forever… (Hugo Chavez)
“Whoever coined the phrase ‘you don’t know what you got until its gone’ was talking about toilet paper, probably” (Anonymous)
A beautiful country holding the world’s largest oil reserves, once known as the Paris of South America, which benefited from foreign investments, and strong influx of immigrants from Europe, has now become a source of media jokes and similar puns pertaining to their “crappy economy”. The reason for this unwelcome attention is that Venezuela is running out of toilet paper. A shortage of this most basic necessity is being blamed on “excessive demand” and “anti-Bolivarian conspiracy”. Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming addressed this crisis by announcing that “the revolution will bring the country the equivalent of 50 million rolls of toilet paper”. “We are going to saturate the market so that our people calm down.” His strategy is unlikely to work since his numbers are 40 million short of the country’s normal consumption of toilet paper which runs about 125 million rolls.
As urgent as this current crisis may seem, the ongoing situation also involves shortages of food, clothing and other commodities with a bottom line reality that the entire Venezuelan economy is in the tank. Economic policies of the late President Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution have been called “unorthodox”. The controversial dictator picked fights with trading partners, mandated his own time zone and enforced strict currency and price controls .These state controlled prices set below market clearing profits always result in shortages. With toilet paper, for example, if the government says a roll should cost 50 cents, but supplies and labor cost 52 cents, local producers simply stop producing, with an always predictable result of scarcity. (Daniel Gross, “ The Crappiest Economy”, The Daily Beast, 2013/05/16)
And, of course, a serious lack of toilet paper is not only a problem but an attention grabbing symptom of ever increasing crises with rampant inflation adding to the misery of overcrowding, a drastic rise in violence, rolling blackouts, blood soaked protests against human rights abuses, poverty, corruption, drug addiction, trafficking and political oppression.
Decades of government mismanagement have resulted in a self-imposed curfew which is now a fact of life in what has become one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Only the brave walk the streets after sundown, when cautious residents seek refuge indoors, the wealthy retreat behind their lavish, gated enclaves. In wealthy Country Club neighborhoods, sturdy walls, barbed wire and electric fences now block the view of homes and gardens once visible from the street. In one gated community, north of the capital, residents installed a mechanism that scans visitor’s ID numbers, resulting in a seemingly interminable queue of vehicles waiting each day for permission to enter. Even the windows of high rise buildings have been fenced off with metal bars, like tightly clenched teeth bearing down upon the city. Meanwhile, legions of poor bolt the doors to their interminable clusters of makeshift, redbrick and zinc roofed dwellings. This “architecture of fear ” affects all classes, in different ways, and still fear affects everybody. (Sofia Barbararani, ukguardian. March 1, 2017)
A lethal combination of poverty, corruption, and illegal firearms has peppered the capital with a pervasive infestation of malandros (thugs) willing to express kidnap for ransom, or even kill to acquire a car, phone or absolutely anything of potential value. With Chavez successor and marginally elected President Nicolas Maduro continuing a policy of state controlled prices, along with the rumored presence of Cuban torturers, this situation is likely to remain volatile. Market stalls have sprung up, here and there, selling black market, staple necessities at exorbitant prices and shortages of desperately needed medical supplies continue to generate a humanitarian crisis.
It has been several years now since I have been to Venezuela and I have no immediate plans to return and still I greatly value that opportunity to visit as well as my often surprising experiences there. At the time of my Political Trauma seminar, Mr. Chavez was still in charge and I find it interesting that his daughter Maria Gabriela ,socialist- socialite, bon vivant, Pomeranian enthusiast, Instagram troll, as well as, reportedly, her father’s consentida, is now allegedly worth at least 4.5 billion dollars in assets held in American and Aruban banks (ukdaily mail.com, August 10,2015)
Even then, among my seminar participants, gathered within a seemingly secure venue, there was a palpable sense that much of their population was living with a constant, all pervasive feeling of threat which I soon began to experience, as well. Looking back to those times with a view from our recent election of Donald Trump here in the USA, I see similarities in the false promises of authoritarian populism. As Venezuelan economist Andres Miguel Rondon makes clear, the recipe for authoritarian populism is universal. Find a wound common to many, someone to blame for it, make up a good story around this and mix it all together. Tell the wounded that you understand how they feel and that you have found the bad guys and label them. Minorities, politicians, immigrants, dissidents, “outside agitators”, sexual deviants and so on, and caricature them as evil, vermin, masterminds, traitors and losers.
Next, paint yourself as a savior and capture the people’s imagination with rapturous tales of patriotism and then vengeance. No need for policies and plans, your appeal to vengeance will launch and even sustain your movement, at least for awhile, for this brand of populism can only survive amid polarization. If there is any encouraging news, it may be that as history has shown, extreme polarities have a tendency to swing into their opposite pole in an effort to achieve at least some measure of balance. (Washington Post, January 27, 2017 )
Also, from a systemic perspective, it is important to understand the many layers of complexity that have shaped Venezuelan history. Along with many other parts of Central and South America, many levels of this multi-racial society cannot be understood apart from the ongoing legacies of Colonialism. A thorough account of this historical reality is available in Eduardo Galleano’s, now classic Open Veins of LatinAmerica, who understood that specific personalities and political leaders are not the problem, but rather symptoms of deeper underlying problems. This is difficult to accept for those who wish to place singular blame on one particular leader or political party, without reflecting upon the converging situations that brought them into positions of power.
Soon after I returned to Argentina, I received a remarkable letter from an 11 year old boy, identified himself as an Indigo child, who had insisted on attending my event. Joseph was the first such child that I encountered during my travels and meeting him opened my awareness to the presence of many others. He began by thanking me for being willing to come to Caracas and overcoming my reluctance to address the topic of political trauma. He then continued on to share his own perspective on a remedy for ongoing violence in Venezuela which is here translated from the Spanish:
Do you know what is needed in each Venezuelan home? Even if it seems simple…a pleasant space inside the dwelling where pastel colors show the colors of our ancestors, a nice “taparita” (colored gourd) decorated with the savors of a fruit, a rain forest tree stick to honor the indigenous, a Spanish mantilla in the drawers of women to honor the Spaniards, to also wear some pearls, place a drum, and wooden tray to honor our African slaves, so that our homes would have the balance of truth with joy. We need to forgo the proclaiming of our patriotic souls and devote ourselves rather to the soul of being human, honor our Creator and avoid religious images that call upon pain and darkness.
Then, in short, this is a call for every home to become a “temple of peace”. Whether or not one believes in the existence of the Indigos, this “child’s” letter offers much for reflection.
They have just found where the monarch butterflies go in autumn
Those red gold drifters edged in black
That blow like leaves but never coming to rest
Always fluttering out of reach and disappearing…
Speed 14 miles an hour on a 3000 mile course to Mexico…
What a way to go; you make it or you don’t
Or the winds snatch you away….
(Loren Eisley, 1975)
“Now I wonder, am I a man dreaming I was a butterfly,
Or, whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I was a man…”
(Zhuangzu, 4th Century B.C.)
On November 1st, when Mexicans celebrate their Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the return of the monarch butterflies, which they believe also carry returning souls of their deceased loved ones. In 2013, however, for the first time in recent memory, they didn’t arrive and some experts fear that their epic migration, during which they can travel from 50 to 100 miles in a single day, is near to collapse. A week or so later they began to slowly straggle in, in record low numbers into their Central Mexican sanctuary in highland oyamel fir forests from November until mid-March. In spring, they begin their northward return while breeding along the way and many die, within a cycle that takes three or four generations to complete. No individual butterfly completes a round trip and only their great-grandchildren return to their colony’s starting point. Known as El Rosario Mexican Butterfly Sanctuary, 3 hours NW of Mexico City, in the state of Michoacan, near the town of Angangueo, it has now become an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monarch’s ability to navigate an extraordinary and perilous journey, with pinpoint accuracy, to such a secluded place where they have never been remains a mystery.
The path of their unknown homing instinct was beautifully filmed in 3D in a Canadian IMAX documentary: Flight of the Butterflies, (2012).
The mystery of their wintering habitat was solved by the University of Toronto’s Fred Urquhart, who studied them for over forty years. He knew that they migrated because he didn’t see them after a certain time of year. His plan was to put a label on each monarch that he found containing his name, address and a request to return each one that was found. And indeed, people from all over North America began returning the butterflies and since the southernmost area from which they came was Mexico, he traveled there through jungles and forests. In talking with people along the way, he was told of a place west of Mexico City where many had been spotted. Eventually he found millions gathered within their seasonal habitat. (Urquhart, Fred A., “Found At Last: the monarch’s winter home”, National Geographic, August 1976).
For filmmaker Ali Alvarez, returning to Mexico long after her mother’s death, the monarchs inspired her documentary about bereavement: Meurte Es Vida, which took top honors during the2016AnnualInternational Wildlife Film Festival held in Missoula, Montana. While she initially set out to make a film about butterflies, her project evolved into a documentary about death in a beautiful and gentle way and that beauty can arise from loss. Her family left Mexico for Los Angeles when she was six and her mother died while she was still a child. During a rare sabbatical from art school, Alvarez climbed a mountain in Central Mexico, and in a sunlit glade discovered thousands of brilliant orange monarchs…migrants like her. As she began researching this phenomenon and discovered stories of people seeing monarchs when a loved one passed away – as well as ancient and contemporary beliefs that butterflies represent the human soul and spirit set free. Late-medieval butterfly fanciers saw a Christian morality tale in their life cycle from greedy, industrious caterpillars, doomed to toil on this Earth but each has a chance to transform itself into a butterfly soul, ascending up into heaven. In 17th century Ireland butterflies were seen as souls of children. In 20th century China, butterflies were discovered in the cells of executed convicts who had recently converted to Buddhism.
Alvarez’s film feature’s people who found solace through their encounters with butterflies, including two young sisters who were given a monarch caterpillar, by their kindergarten teacher, shortly before their older brother died. The children enjoyed watching their caterpillar banded with yellow, black and white stripes, grow and create a beautiful blue-green chrysalis. Their brother died and the day of his funeral, they watched as their monarch flew free of its chrysalis (UK Guardian, October, 2016). Perhaps you may also remember the touching scene from the 1998 Patch Adams film starring Robin Williams, when he is out in a wilderness, standing on a cliff, agonizing in grief and despair over the loss of a dear friend recently and brutally murdered. Seemingly out of nowhere, a single monarch glides into view, gently alights on his briefcase and then allows him to hold it for a brief moment as his sense of hope and purpose returns.
Scientists speculate that recent deforestation, and illegal logging operations within the monarch’s overwintering habitat, has led to a drastic reduction in their population since these oyamel trees serve both as blankets and umbrellas for protection. Illegal logging continues to remain an ongoing threat. Just recently, authorities detained a truck driver carrying a load of huge tree trunks out of the butterfly reserve, while presenting falsified papers asserting that these trees were diseased and needed to be removed to reduce risk. Investigators soon discovered that all of the harvested trees had been quite healthy.
While there was a time when monarch wings covered over 50 acres of fir forest, with as many as 15 million on a single branch, these delicate creatures now occupy an area of less than 29.6 acres (12 hectares). Climate change, as well as changes in agricultural practice and land use in the USA, and Mexico involving GMO corn and soy crops that have proven deadly using glyphosate herbicide (Montsanto’s Roundup); are believed to be contributing factors to disturbingly dwindling numbers. While there has been no mention of ongoing and increasing levels of ionizing radiation now streaming throughout our entire northern hemisphere, this presents a likely and ultimately lethal factor, as well. Omar Vidal, head of the Mexican Office of The World Wildlife Fund calls for close collaboration of the three countries, Canada, USA and Mexico to ensure the safety and protection the monarch’s, breeding, feeding and migratory routes. (Jim Robbins, “The Year the Monarchs Didn’t Appear”, NY Times, November 22, 2013 and U.K.Guardian, February, 2017).
Some hold that the monarch was so named because of its size and the fact that it exists over a large domain. Another theory suggests that since this name was first published as such in 1874, in honor of English King William III, these butterflies were also called “King Billies”. Well known by their scientific name Danaus plexippus in the family Nymphalidae; the migration pattern of the monarch provides a leitmotif for Barbara Kingsolver’s 7th novel Conducta migratoria (2012).Here we find that the primary focus is on climate change, which the author, who is also a biologist, refers to as “global weirding”. Her novel is set deep within the rural mountains of Appalachia, in a conservative, evangelical, emotionally stifling and depressed town in her native state of Tennessee. Locals and farming folk in particular have noticed a shift in their weather which she describes as “Summer heat never really arrived, nor the cold in turn, and everything living now seemed to yearn for sun with the anguish of the unloved”. This beautifully written story about Nature, as well as human nature, unfolds with an unexpected arrival of 15 million shimmering orange monarchs, in a silent forest area, which creates an illusion of a seemingly Biblical “valley of fire”. The monarch’s atypical flight behavior serves as cause for concern for visiting entomologists, as well as a powerful catalyst for social change within individual lives, families and the community at large.
On a recent visit to Mexico City’s Museum of Archeology, I discovered that the beauty of their country’s iconic monarch butterflies is celebrated by the design team of art historian Cristine Pineda and textile engineer Ricardo Covalin; who founded their studio in 1996. As a onetime, now retired, art historian myself, I can appreciate the enormous energy, quality and depth that has contributed to their research. Considered by many as the “Hermes of Mexico”, the stated mission of Pineda Covalin’s designs,is to preserve a collective memory of Mexico’s pre-Columbian, modern folkloric and country-wide abundance of natural beauty. Within their preferred medium of highest quality silk, these innovative designers have beautifully captured the exquisite, stained glass, shimmering luminosity of the monarch’s tawny reddish-gold colors outlined with tracery patterns in black with delicate points of white. Among many others concerned with preserving both the beauty and survival of our magnificent monarchs we have monarchwatch.org which can serve as a useful entry point for those willing to share both resources and concerns. If you have a yard or land anywhere between Mexico and Canada, you can help. Monarchs seek to lay their eggs on common milkweed, a summer blooming perennial so named for a toxic sticky white sap which renders butterflies toxic to predators. Simply Google “free milkweed seeds” and plant a few to provide a resting place for them to lay their eggs during their migrations.
“Canada is not a melting pot. Canada is an association of people who have, and cherish, great differences but who work together because they can respect themselves and each other”. (Vincent Massey)
“Culture is a fluid thing, and as history has shown, attempts to define an airtight cultural character are usually projects of delusion and denial.” (Murtaza Hussain, Toronto)
On my way North to spend the New Year’s holiday with friends and colleagues in Canada, images from Michael Moore’s 1995 American comedy film, Canadian Bacon, satirizing international relations along our shared borderland territories, came to mind. The plot revolves around an American president’s need to boost his popularity by launching a cold war with our neighbors: Operation Canadian Bacon: A Line in theSnow. A newscaster appears early on with a map of the United States with maple syrup dripping down over Minnesota and Montana as evidence of the evil seeping across our border, along with dark speculation as to how their metric system is actually a conspiracy designed to undermine and destroy our way of life. The familiar Canadian moniker “Canucks” was conflated to imply something like “sinister commie”.
My favorite scene is probably one where a bumbling American sheriff, on his way to Toronto, which he mistakenly believes to be the country’s capital, is stopped by an overly polite policeman who noticed the graffiti on the sheriff’s truck “Canucks are dog meat”. This, the policeman observes, is against the law since Canada is officially bi-lingual and therefore all graffiti and other slogans must be printed in both French and English. In reality, of course, there is no border war and Americans leaving Calgary will discover a fully operational USA customs service right there on Canadian soil. As far as I am aware, we have no such arrangements with Mexico.
While there is no cold war up there it was definitely a cold winter with average daily temperatures far below zero. For Americans visiting Canada for the first time, it can be a somewhat confusing place. While their citizens both look and sound much like we do, there are important differences; including differences about those differences. While it seems that Americans will tell all the ways in which we are similar to our northern cousins on the other side of the 49th parallel, they will likely tell all of the ways that they are different. Canada is a monarchy and citizens have the option to use their government services in either English or French and; they have far fewer enemies than our ever expanding, militaristic, global empire. We also tend to differ along certain political topics, such as gun control, abortion, death penalty, religion and universal health care.
Yet, for me as a visitor to the Great White North, I was soon aware of how very different we are in our respective attitudes toward the subject of immigration. This is an ongoing, highly flammable topic here in Arizona, given that we are a southwestern border state; as well as a deeply divisive issue throughout our nationwide mainstream and alternative media outlets. Overall, the tendency here seems to be of an increasing xenophobia along with calls for draconian measures, such as rounding up illegals, massive deportations, a mandatory Muslim registry and confinement camps for suspicious and unwanted “others”. Some Americans fear that our political dissidents, and others critical of the current regime will be labeled as “domestic terrorists” and possibly faced with charges of treason. Small wonder then, that the Canadian, Citizen and Immigration web-site, received a sudden influx of visitors during our 2016 election night, causing their overwhelmed system to temporarily crash.
In contrast to our harsh stances, with talk of building walls and defending borders, the mood in Canada is much less fear based, with a greater sense of interpersonal trust and an almost cheerful commitment to tolerance and inclusion. In contrast to the rising, angry anti-immigration political parties in the US and Europe, Canada may be one of the last immigrant nations left standing. The government and a majority of citizens firmly believe in the value of immigration. In the city of Toronto, for example, now among the most diverse cities on the planet, over half of its residents were born outside of the country, and Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa are not far behind.
Among the practical reasons for Canada keeping the doors open, is low fertility and an aging population; and as their statistics confirm, diversity aids prosperity. Theirs is an ongoing experiment in filling a continent-wide, mostly empty landmass, with the diversity of the world’s cultures, who must learn to survive and thrive amid multiple identities and allegiances. (Charles Foran, https://www.theguardian.com/us, January 4, 2017).
While one could say that this experiment is incomplete, Canada still offers a haven of opportunity for many, and at this time all that is asked of newcomers is social amiability, respect for their laws and institutions and contribution, maintenance and improvements in public life. In some provinces Muslim women were welcomed with the message: “We don’t care what is on your head, we care what’s in it”. Given that Canadians believe that immigration creates jobs rather than stealing them, instances of immigrant doctors and engineers driving taxis are the exception rather than the rule, and Chinese surgeons and Syrian architects are not waiting tables. Even those who don’t welcome immigration mostly accept it as a fact of life.
No human society is perfect, and racism remains as a significant thread throughout Canada’s history, and as has been the case with all white colonial settlers, the indigenous peoples suffered greatly at the hands of the newcomers. Not until the nineteen seventies, were policies formalized to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. While racism has not completely disappeared, progress was initiated during the nineteen-sixties, as Canada began accepting increasing numbers of non-white immigrants and many previous policies of racial discrimination were rescinded; and since the nineteen-seventies the majority of immigrants are of non-European ancestry.
For now, at least, our northern neighbor’s strong capacity for mutual accommodation bodes well and offers a sane and sustainable model for social-cultural strength and stability, in our increasingly stressed and overcrowded world. Canada’s ability to collaborate with others, with flexibility in the face of complex situations, will likely serve them well as climate changes indicate that they will soon be surrounded by three oceans.
“Thanksgiving celebrates all that we have and the genocide it took to get it” (Irwin Osborne, historian)
“When all the trees have been cut down, when all of the animals have been hunted, when all the waters have been polluted, when the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover that you cannot eat money”. (Cree Prophesy)
While most experienced professionals who work with individual and collective traumas, as well as others who are seriously engaged with overwhelming life events are aware that these events often occur on the anniversary of previous and unresolved traumas, as well as other iconic dates and holidays. Terrorists, politicians, novelists and our corporate-controlled media make use of this knowledge according to their own overt or covert agendas. In 2012 I wrote an entire book about this phenomenon: Trauma: Time, Space and Fractals, whichincluded a measure of speculation as to why some events continue to replicate and re-enact throughout time and space, often for generations. As a result of my own experiences as both historian and clinician, I have come to understand that self-replicating traumatic patterns tend to originate and then continue indefinitely when something of importance has remained unacknowledged, lied about, covered up, denied or minimalized through some version of media-spin. As a result, through the reality of what might be understood as the timeless informational field; that which is unresolved will continue to manifest; often on iconic dates and holidays such as Thanksgiving.
From this perspective, current events taking place in North Dakota, now highlighted by the media during our Thanksgiving holiday season, serve to reveal a long standing, self-replicating historical fractal still in search of resolution. As Americans gather for family dinners and communal blessings, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, together with over 300 representatives from other tribes, and their non-native supporters, were brutally attacked by law enforcement and militarized protectors of the energy industries. Rubber bullets, volleys of tear gas, batons, beanbag rounds, high pitched sound generators, concussion grenades, police dogs and high pressure water cannons laced with pepper spray, in sub-freezing temperatures, were unleashed upon this peaceful gathering of unarmed citizens. In addition, these peaceful defenders were subjected to mass arrests, strip-searches and felony charges levied against photographers and journalists covering the ongoing events.
These “water protectors” gathered in order to protest the final portion of a 3.7 billion dollar Dakota Access Pipeline which would span four states, and cross hundred of waterways and wetlands. Nevertheless, the government maintains that this is the safest and most efficient method for transport of filthy, hydro-fracked, crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois, and destined for export to China. However, the Native Americans are objecting on the grounds that this oil-mongering “Black Snake “would cut under the Missouri River, the longest on our continent, within a mile of their reservation, disrupting sacred sites, contaminating the local tribes’ fresh water source. According to Lakota prophecy, if the Black Snake crosses the river into the land, the waters will be poisoned and it will mark off the end of the world. This pipeline proposal is also in violation of a government treaty that set this land aside for them in 1851. Beginning on December 4th, over a thousand military veterans from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard plan to gather in support of the water protectors. One of their main organizers is Wes Clark, son of Four Star General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Europe (S.H.A.P.E)
In a gesture of support and in keeping with the holiday spirit, Navajo chef Brian Yazzie gathered donations of food for the Standing Rock Water Protectors where he prepared three meals a day for 3,000-4,000 folks. Being aware of the historical trauma, Chef Yazzie focused on indigenous foods in keeping with his belief that re-introducing an indigenous diet helps by feeding the people and keeping them healthy. While the gesture was appreciated among the indigenous, Thanksgiving holiday is not a cause for celebration given the long legacy of abuse and disempowerment as Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924 and many were taken away from families and forced to live in government boarding schools.
Along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the American myth of pious pilgrims and native Wampanoags sharing a harvest meal together with brotherly love and appreciation, still persists with school and local community pageants along this sanitized theme. Perhaps you remember the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians”, the Pocahontas love story, the term “Indian Giver”; and those Hollywood Westerns where heroic, gun slinging, always handsome cowboys saved our country from hostile savages? A reality check reveals that Native Americans do not accept these stories and for many of them Thanksgiving is a day of mourning which some refer to as “Thankstaking”. On Thanksgiving day in 1970, on the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, a descendant of the Wampanoags spoke:
“Today is a day of celebration for you, a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebration for me. It is with heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my people. When the Pilgrims arrived, we Wampanoags welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. Before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoags would no longer be a tribe. and that we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is just as human as the white people”. (Irwin Oborne, wakeupworld.com, November 25, 2016.)
For the go-along to get-along majority, the issues at stake at Standing Rock are not on the radar, especially for those who do not want to complicate their lives with concerns for human dignity, human rights or survival. Yet, for the awake and aware, Standing Rock represents the epicenter of the attempt to save our ecosystem from the fossil-fuel industries and the hegemonic powers of the trans-national corporations. This conflict is likely to escalate under the Trump administration, especially given that the President elect owns 2 million dollars worth of shares in this pipeline project. (R.F. Kennedy Jr. RT, November 16, 2016) As they continue to expand, events at Standing Rock have come to represent something much larger than a struggle between a disenfranchised people and a government that backs gazillion-dollar corporations. This is a battle to save humanity from itself, and winter is coming. (Adam Lindman, taskandpurpose.com, November 21, 2016).
“Sometimes its better to watch the mob rather than to try and reason with it “. (Commenticus )
“I have a bad feeling about this”. (Harrison Ford)
Its October again, and our nights are drawing in, shadows lengthen, early mornings are darker and the trees are slipping into their autumn colors. Halloween is coming right up as we near the nightmare end of this beyond freakish, dark carnival that has been America’s 2016 Presidential election season. It appears that the Deep State social engineers who use fear for social, economic and political gain, that use our compliant media to continually bombard us with alarm stimulants, have gone overboard this year with claims that our country is being menaced by an epidemic of killer clown sightings. And no, I am not making this up. This latest psy-ops divide and conquer, strategy of tension was likely launched with confidence that panic and paranoia would soon ensue following mass media reports of scary clowns jumping out of bushes to abduct children and terrify ordinary citizens. Better still, multiple, moronic ,copy-cat incidents of prowling clowns would surely follow.
As predicted, uproar ensued and along with a “public safety crisis” generated by multiple clown sightings, which in turn gave rise to a sinister clown jamboree of clown- related threats gone viral on social media sites. While there was some concern expressed that this new threat of “clownism” was just another case of easily terrified middle-class white people getting all worked up over the fear of anyone or anything that is not a middle class white person, school districts announced lock downs, closings and concerned parents kept their children at home. Some schools, now moving beyond those good old fashioned bomb threat scenarios, and being determined to remain open, have nevertheless, called upon police in order to make sure that their “perimeters were secured” = (clown-free ) Yes, really.
Throughout the country, sheriffs’ departments talk of canceling Halloween during this clown generated “stranger-danger ” previously presented in the guise of razor blades in apples ,poison candy and LSD laced cartoon stickers handed out to young children. Never mind there have been no verified cases of any such nefarious activities. Draconian anti-holiday measures are strongly supported by legions of backwoods evangelicals who believe that all costumed merrymakers are rightly and surely destined for Hell. As a result of these multiple concerns, many schools, churches and communities have banned clown- wear along with scary- vampire, witches, demons, and evil space-alien outfits for festivities surrounding October 31st.
At this point, one wonders if this matrix generated mass hysteria is nothing more than a pile of steaming click bait or if there might actually be some reality to this Killer Clown phenomenon. A much needed reality check with the Center for Disease Control provides us with the following facts concerning the leading causes of death in the USA.: ( Rachel Vorona Cote, jezelbel.com)
Heart disease: 614,348
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease: 147,101
Accidents: (unintentional injuries) 136,053
Stroke: (Cerebral vascular Disease)133,103
Alzheimer’s Disease: 93,541
So, what’s really going on with this current outbreak of Coulrophobia (fear of clowns)? As you may well imagine the ongoing spate of Killer Clown articles, popping up throughout mainstream media, has provoked something like a riot in the comment sections. Here at last, some truth may be found in the near consensus among multi-national contributors that this phenomenon has something to do with our current presidential election. These perceptive readers maintain that there is, in fact, a boorish, crypto-fascist clown in orange face paint and fright wig comb-over, menacing America, who seems to be everywhere on TV. This observation makes real sense since politicians are viewed by many as clowns wearing disguises, while displaying artificial emotions that likely hide their true feelings and you can’t tell who they really are and what all that means behind the mask. (Rami Nader, NBC news, com, April 20, 2012)
In all fairness to Mr. Trump, who has opened the door for many other clowns to take center stage in politics, the dangerous clown is an ages-old figure dating back to the jester, fool and more sinister trickster figures. Our contemporary Evil Clown archetype came to the fore during the 1980s, popularized by Stephen King’s novel IT, in which a terrifying demon attacks in the guise of Pennywise the clown. This now classic horror was perhaps inspired by the infamous real life case of serial killer John Wayne Gacy (1942-1994) dubbed ” The Killer Clown”, a genuine registered clown, who entertained under the name Pogo. King’s novel was soon followed by “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” (1988) as well as the Joker character in a Batman movie representing a terrifying force of unpredictable anarchy. The Simpson’s TV episode ” I Can’t Sleep. The Clown Will Eat Me” also gained popularity. Web sites dedicated to evil clowns began to appear during the 1990s and then appeared a cult horror film “Clownhouse” featuring escaped mental patients masquerading as circus clowns. (smithsonian.com, July)
At this stage of life, clowns now count among the fears that I don’t have, and rumors of clowns kidnapping children fail to convince; given that anyone intent on abducting children is not likely to do so wearing something as conspicuous as a colorful clown costume. And yet, upon reflection it has been my experience that there may be risks in getting too close to a clown since they have been known to sport water spouting artificial flowers and may be armed with paint ball ammunition. Custard pies are out of fashion. Logic suggests that in the event that you are actually attacked by a clown, you should immediately go for the juggler. However, personal safety experts advise that your best option is to simply run away, since clowns cannot run very fast in those floppy shoes and their vehicular reliability is not the best. Bonus tip: concerned citizens should carry a bag of banana skins, just in case, and just to be sure you can also carry one of those giant cork guns that when you pull the trigger, shoots out a small flag with the words “Bang! ” written on it. Bear in mind that this news is not all bad, and there are always those who will profit from crises. Vulture capitalists might take note that if these evil clown concerns continue there will likely be a lucrative market for expensive, defensive “clown spray”, although consumers might soon realize that generic seltzer water works just as well, at least until a mandatory anti-clown vaccine is ready for market.
Hyperventilating conspiracy theorists, probably driven mad by loud calliope music, together with distant honking sounds, fear that this rampant clownism may be only Phase II of Mc Donald’s world domination project. While concerned citizens have called upon Federal Agents, and local police have been dispatched to investigate phantom clown sightings, their searches for clown-related evidence report no real red rubber noses left behind at the scene; nor were their oversize footprints, over sized shoes, silly string or buckets of rainbow glitter, for their forensic teams to analyze. (Kali Holloway, alternet.org, October 10, 2016).
Nevertheless, a number of community organizers, and neighborhood action groups , not reassured by these lack of findings, are demanding legislation to round up all suspected, potential and actual clowns, their family members and accomplices for deportation. In the interim, measures should be taken to build a wall around their tents for which the circus is made to pay.
These are tough times for bewildered and upset clowns and these highly skilled performers and inheritors of a time honored profession are asking “Why do they hate our troupes?” As one disheartened professional explained: “It’s not easy being a clown. You get kicked by kids, bit by dogs and only admired by the dyspeptic elderly”. This sad plight has touched the hearts of sympathizers and pro-clown activists in Tucson, Arizona, who have organized a “Clown Lives Matter”, October march where participants are encouraged to dress in circus costumes , meet a clown , get a hug and the message that clowns are people of all colors, and these harmless fun-loving entertainers are not monsters to be feared. (azcentral.com).
All in all, it is likely that this Halloween season hysteria will pass, and clown costumes will soon become passé. After November, Brown Shirts will be the new now, while those wearing bed sheets and burning crosses will retain their timeless appeal. Enough for now and I will probably continue to sleep with the light on, at least until this election is over.
“Man is part of a wholeness. He is a unity of body, mind and soul. In addition he belongs to his family of origin, to his people, to mankind to Nature, Mother Earth and the Universe. Every problem, every crisis, every illness reminds us that we are not yet whole”. (Dr. med. Karl-Heinz Rauscher, The Principle of Unity , 2015)
Human beings have always looked to Nature and the complex surroundings of our physical world in search of meaningful patterns, and early on discovered many overhead designs within the apparent chaos of our gloriously star-filled, night-sky firmament. From ancient times forward, astrological observers, astronomers and medicine-people have discerned archetypal images and patterns within the movements and star pattern constellations, which may reveal the deep, hidden orders of our world. Some believe that movements of these celestial patterns might even control our individual and collective destinty. From primordial times onward, we have observed and recorded the rising and setting of our Sun, phases of our Moon, and turning of the seasons; in an attempt to understand, predict and quantify the elusive nature of time.
Despite our various linear attempts to measure and divide time into Earthbound clocks and calendars (Chronos); we have eventually found our way back around to the ancient wisdom-keepers’ understanding that, in essence, Cheiros or Sacred Time, is something immutable and infinite that one cannot measure or divide. While we may intuit interconnections between chronological time and sacred time, it is not always obvious exactly how, why and/or when this comes about. At this stage of understanding, I have come to believe that among the many potential containers and opportunities for the intersection of Chronos and Cheiros, we find both systemic constellation work and sacred ceremony which can and do sometimes overlap.
As both trauma specialist and cultural historian, my own fascination with pattern was one of the many reasons that drew me to systemic constellation work. Bert Hellinger’s first visit to the USA in Boulder, Colorado in 1997, was a life changing event for me personally and also for my work; as I immediately realized that he was actively working in concert with something that had long been a missing piece for me: a timeless, sacred, informational field. At that time, I still understood the Hellinger vision to be simply an innovative method of Family Constellation Work, and as such, was just beginning to understand individual trauma work, within a larger family and trans-generation context.
Nevertheless, a profound shift gradually occurred during a series of discussions about the nature of trauma and the future of Family Constellation Work with my German colleague Dr. med. Karl-Heinz Rauscher, who was well into the process of exploring a potential for systemic work beyond the boundaries of family issues. He was already entertaining a concept that “ trauma and relationship ” also extends into the broken connections to our collective humanity, as well as our responsibility to all other life forms; Mother Earth and her place within a mysterious and infinite cosmos, all of which have been ages-old concerns intrinsic to universal, shamanic and indigenous medicine traditions.
Some years later, Karl-Heinz gave me a German language transcript of a constellation that he had done involving a Medicine Wheel installation which had been carefully laid out on the ground by German shaman Tacansina, who has a Native American great-grandfather and practices within the Native American tradition. At that time, in my own work, I was just coming to understand that underlying the seeming chaos of traumatic events involving both single persons and groups, one could often observe self-similar repetitive patterns.
It was also becoming increasingly evident that these patterns can manifest throughout many layers of family and social systems over time. While I read through Dr. Rauscher’s account with interest and sensed that it was very important, I had no idea at that early time why this was true. As he had then explained, at the end of a training group for Systemic Constellation Work, Karl-Heinz felt called upon to set up a constellation within this Medicine Wheelstone-circle. And, as he further explained at that time, his intention was to simply listen deeply to what the various qualities incorporated by the stones might be willing to say to us now; as humans. “What might we learn from the Medicine Wheel for a better and wiser life? ”
The term Medicine Wheel has many meanings as well as many different manifestations; and perhaps some close and also distant cosmic connections with pattern-oriented Navajo and Tibetan Mandala Sand-Paintings, African, Asian and Pre-Colombian rituals, and so on throughout our imperfect and still incomplete understanding of our complex human history.
According to the Mayan calendar, Mankind now finds itself in the beginning of another long-count cycle which stretches ahead some 26,000 years. Looking back now on these patterns of circles and cycles, I wonder if our ancestors, without access to computers, did somehow intuit the self-replicating manifestations of both sacred and profane fractal-realities. For those who have the will to see, these universal patterns are evident throughout our own bodies, our natural world and our Universe as well.
In Blackfoot Physics, David Peat explains that the Medicine Wheel is more than just a pattern of rocks, it is rather a representation of the relationship between the Earth and the Cosmos … a circular movement and process of healing, ceremony and teaching .A Medicine Wheel pattern looks something like a wagon wheel lying on its side and is often constructed by laying stone patterns on the ground. Originally a Native American tradition, this construct has been more recently employed in sacred technologies throughout the world. Medicine Wheels can represent the Sacred Circle of Life; four cardinal directions with elements and animal totems, serving as guardians. These four directions can be said to represent the cardinal points on the compass, as well as the seasons, colors, and animating spirits or energies that bring about maturity, continuation, renewal and refreshment; and also seem to have the power to concentrate and bring focus.
Within the Medicine Wheel constellation set up by Dr. Rauscher and his training group, a figure representing Man enters as an embodiment of our species which exists beyond the dictates of race, tribe, politics or religion. Man’s entrance into this circular configuration signals a dawn of our new anthropocene era. As a newly arrived creature, he appears to be overwhelmed by his task at hand, which might be briefly described as accepting the embodiment and responsibilities of both finding and taking his place within a larger pattern. When asked by the Creator if he agrees to engage, Man answers in the affirmative. While his spirit foresees the coming pain of this Earthly world, he feels unable to accomplish anything by himself and feels the deepest wells of grief, helplessness and sorrow. A measure of relief appears with a representative for Love; a very touching moment for him and others within this constellation, but even this is not enough. Man also realizes that he does not know or understand love. And although it is clear that Man is loved by Nature and Spirit, he himself needs to learn how to love. Yet, he remains blind to seeing this as necessary medicine.
Father Sun, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, the totem animals of Bison, Eagle, Coyote, and Grizzly Bear; together with representatives for other qualities of support; both observe and comment. A number of the elements within the Medicine Wheel also recognize that Humans are still missing a respect for Mother Earth and that this still arrogant, self-serving species is only one part of the greater whole. Humans lack humility, gratitude and modesty. As guardians and other elements offer wisdom, caution and advice, Man’s inherent imperfections render it difficult to accept their well-intended messages. As this sacred circle moves toward closure, it becomes clear that Man is in need of more wisdom and less arrogance in order to transform himself ”. The message is clear: “ Mankind, turn around and find the new way, otherwise you will vanish from this Earth ”. The Creator says: “ Raise your hearts”. This is the final word.
In a way, the Medicine Wheel Constellation ceremony stands as a many-layered , timeless template within which anyone can explore the ways toward a new beginning of relationship to self, others and beyond. And now, some decades after the original installation, Karl-Heinz and I decided to have another look into this Medicine Wheel constellation ceremony; as we are now beginning another cycle of our systemically oriented trauma and relationship work. During this process I noticed an absolutely key element that I had previously overlooked: the prescient choice of a date for this constellation inquiry: September 1st, 2001. He felt moved to set up this constellation of inquiry just 10 days before the events of 9/11 when the specter of abrupt change was already present in the global Informational Field. With this in mind, the statement of Element Fire during this constellation, at this time, draws special attention: “ It will still take awhile for purification of Earth and of Man, probably by fire.”
In retrospect, we can now see that indeed, at the time of this sacred ceremony, a cataclysmic change was about to close one era and begin another of crisis; from which we have yet to emerge - and the message of the stones still resonates. This now totemic date, marks the inception of our third millennium. September 11, 2001, which has also been dubbed, “the day the world changed”, is also the most recent iteration of long historical September 11th fractal having to do with conflict and “clash of civilizations ” which I set forth in some detail in: A Question of Balance (2008). In our post 9/11 world, we have yet to recover from the shock , spiritual disarray and deep damage to the fabric of American life; as well as the unfortunate and ongoing conflict and destruction generated throughout other parts of our world. This new cycle of endless wars has overridden human and environmental concerns, contributed to climate change; and deeply disrupted the interrelationships within our delicate web of life. The lingering miasma of our so-called “war on terror”, continues to justify and promulgate the draconian policies of an oppressive and increasingly intrusive global surveillance state.
Moreover, the hubris of our technological misadventures have launched a second crisis point. In March 2011 a combination of natural and man-made disasters resulted in an ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan, involving three reactors in meltdown, which are currently poisoning the Pacific Ocean and our entire Northern hemisphere. Scientists warn that we are now in the midst of a sixth extinction. If there is any good news in that, it might be that abundant life has survived and thrived after the previous five extinctions. And, while we are on the subject of extinction, Sir Martin Reese, Britain’s most distinguished theoretical astrophysicist has made clear that we live in a Universe teeming with supernova gamma rays, cannibal galaxies, rogue asteroids and other cosmological events far beyond our control. His last estimate is that the chances of current human civilization coming to an end at about 50-50. Nevertheless, this is also a special time when we still have an opportunity to enact life-positive changes to ourselves and to our planetary home world.
During these admittedly dark and turbulent times, a healing image comes to mind as offered by Francesca Mason Boring in Connecting to Our Ancestral Past (2012). In her most recent book she contemplates End of the Trail, an iconic sculpture by James Earle Fraser (1876-1953), which depicts a Native American man, bent over on his horse; exhausted and beaten, which has come to represent the destruction of native peoples in the United States. As a young woman, Francesca remembers being saddened by this image, yet in time, she came to see that this man was not defeated. He was tired, he and his horse were stopped and they were waiting. Looking again, she could see that he was listening. He could hear the voices of his ancestors singing to him and giving him strength. And while he sat upon his horse, he knew that if he listened to his ancestors, he would be able to continue. To this vision one might add a hope and prayer that this man, as well as all of humankind, will listen and heed the urgent and very timely message from the sacred stones: Mankind must change his ways or vanish from the Earth.
“The problem with rape groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape”. (Kurt Cobain)
“Collective fear stimulates the herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd”. (Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays)
“ … when you take fright and add to it ignorance, you get hatred. That‘s a very unattractive equation”. (Ann M. Martin, Here Today)
Earlier in the week I received an email link to a segment from an Andre Rieu concert on youtube which came highly recommended as “hilarious“. From time to time I have enjoyed his music, often accompanied by extravagant spectacles for global, overflow audiences, now in the millions. This Dutch virtuoso violinist and the conductor of his “Johann Strauss orchestra”, has been criticized as a feel-good populist who mixes classical music with modern song; which doesn’t concern me as a non-musician, and I applaud his commitment to featuring extraordinary, young, as-yet unknown talent.
As it turned out, this segment filmed in November 2015, featured a Spanish theme “Espana cani”, meaning Gypsy Spain. Soon after the orchestra struck up the famous, if not iconic, Paso Doble instrumental piece by Pascual Marquina Narro (1873-1943) c.1921 – also known as “Spanish Gypsy Dance”, two players in a bull costume appeared and jauntily danced their way down an aisle toward the stage. In Spanish culture, the bull has been long revered as a symbol of a fierce power, stability, courage and the ability to fight; as well the essence of potent male fertility. While the concert crowd warmed to the appearance of the bull and his gentle antics, nuzzling a lady here and there…the energies soon changed as he spied a well-fed lady, wearing a flowing ensemble in flaming red chiffon.
This “lady in red”, (a well paid actress), pantomimed a response of shock and fear as the bull approached, gestured a helpless shriek, then turned and ran, arms and legs flailing, on up the aisle toward an exit with the bull in avid pursuit . Amid riotous laughter, the pair soon re-appeared upon a bullring stage set behind the orchestra while the “terrified” lady in red dashed for safety into a darkened arch of a bullring portal … Soon thereafter, the festive bull gaily emerged, cavorting about while sporting her bright red bra dangling from one of his horns …which clearly implied : rape. The beast’s shamelessly satisfied, pleased with himself and triumphant display, evoked more laughter and applause…all in good fun in this carnival atmosphere. And yet, for me, as a social traumatologist, the image of her trophy-bra dangling from his horn, struck a very deep nerve, especially in view of recent events in Europe where the subject of rape is definitely up, and not without controversy.
As a cultural historian, I have been long familiar with the importance of bull imagery in Western art and culture from classical times up to and beyond Picasso’s Tauromachia (Bullfight series) and his sexually explicit, often ambiguously complex, erotic depictions of woman and bull; provocative, angry and tender. Yet, upon seeing this rather burlesque episode at the Rieu concert, the image that flashed forward into my mind was not Picasso, as I might have expected, but rather Titian’s timeless masterpiece: “The Rape of Europa” (1560-1562) .
The 16th century Venetian artist drew upon this long-standing theme in Western art, which dates back to classical times as described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses where the lustful Zeus, in the guise of a bull, abducts Princess Europa in a manner which celebrates aggressive force in pursuit of erotic fulfillment. In Titian’s bold diagonal composition, Europa is depicted in a posture of near abandon. Her disordered drapery, rendered in vibrant colors as though painted with fingers rather than brush strokes, shimmers and swirls just above her opening thighs and the bull’s long and quivery tail extends, in reference to the sexual violence to come. Interestingly, the myth of the Rape of Europa has been adopted by the European Union and the image has become a semi-official symbol of the institution, and a supranational personification of the European region. (Charles Fitzroy, The Rape of Europa, 2015).
Although the Rieu concert triggered some nearly timeless rape imagery, with or without the bull, it’s not so surprising that Titian’s masterpiece came to mind in light of the quasi-apocalyptic hysteria sweeping the continent with fears of a Europe-wide “epidemic of rape”. While this subject had been in the air since the recent arrival of huge numbers of immigrants and refugees from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, along with fears of disease, displacement, political and economic stability; the events that erupted on New Year’s Eve in the west German city of Cologne brought fears of rape and sexual assault to a new level of crisis. According to Der Spiegel, a lot happened on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, much of it contradictory, much of it real – both exaggerated and horrifying.
Politicians, community leaders and the media, fearful of igniting anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiment, were accused of first ignoring and then downplaying an ethnically, racially and ideologically motivated, mass sexual assault upon hundreds of women by a mob of nearly a thousand North African and Arab men.; including three alleged rapes specifically designed to terrorize. Adding to the confusion, German police were apparently and inexplicably powerless in the midst of these massive violations.
This picture is further complicated by the fact that there was an explosion of violence that same night in five countries and a dozen cities, which opens the way to speculation that these attacks were coordinated. If so by whom and to what end ? Suspicion abounds that right wing, and neo- Nazi populist elements may have been involved, at least at some level, in an effort to discredit foreigners and strengthen their agenda for stronger police and government controls against unwanted non-European “invaders”. This bears some consideration given media reports of the behavior of several “attackers” that seems consistent with professional agent-provocateurs. In one instance an Arab man allegedly waved asylum papers in front of police and then tore them up while taunting that he could just get new ones tomorrow. Others supposedly shouted things like, “You can’t touch us. Mother Merkel invited us here” and, “We’re Syrian and so you have to be nice to us.” Indeed, many Syrian refugees have reported that others were claiming to be Syrian in order to gain certain privileges.
Feminist reactions to the New Year’s Eve attacks were mixed and somewhat contradictory. While some have remained silent about Islamic provocations out of fear of being seen as racist, others call out the massive hypocrisy of such public concern, given that sexual violence against women was a long standing problem before the refugees arrived. Other concerned citizens wonder if there might be a contrived over-reaction by the media and others, in the guise of a concern for women’s safety, that conceals their underlying racism.
Given Germany’s and the Germanic people’s long history of threat from Islamic invaders dating at least as far back as 17th century, with battles between the forces of the Christian West and the Islamic Ottoman Empire; it is not surprising that many are experiencing this current influx of refugees from Islamic countries as yet another invasion of the West. From time immemorial, rape and sexual humiliation have been a feared and fearful weapon of invaders everywhere as a tool of domination.
In Germany, there are many who still remember the multiple horrors brought by the “hoards from the East”, towards the end of World War II, when battle-crazed Russian soldiers overran the country and raped thousands of German women.
Adding to this unspeakable nightmare was the humiliation of men who could not protect their women as well as a targeted humiliation of Third Reich racial hygiene laws which legislated Slavs as sub-human, inferior races not fit to breed or sexually engage with Aryans in any way whatsoever.
Whatever the facts of what exactly did or did not happen on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other European cities, there remains an urgent reality that there are vast cross-cultural and potentially painful differences between immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and their host countries; especially in regard to men, women, sexuality and the law. This potentially explosive state of affairs must be immediately and compassionately addressed in the interest and safety of all concerned.
“There is nothing more terrible in all the world, than ignorance in action.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
“Fascism is a religious concept”. (Benito Mussolini)
“Fascism is like a hydra – you can cut off its head in the Germany of the 30’s and 40’s, but it will turn up on your back doorstep in a slightly altered guise”. (Alan Moore, V for Vendetta)
On January 8th 2016, a controversial and critical German-language edition of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle), immediately sold out with orders received for four times the print run after becoming available in German bookstores for the first time in 70 years. Long regarded as one of Nazism’s major propaganda tools, this exposition of murderous ideology was written in 1923 while the Austrian-born socialist was imprisoned as a firebrand, following his ignominious Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler was released in 1924 and his first volume was published in 1925 and the second in 1926. Now in 2016, this two-volume, 1,948 page, annotated, academic edition, contains a side-by-side commentary on Hitler’s prose, and over three thousand footnotes. As soon as the copyright expired, Mein Kampf was published by the Munich Institute of Contemporary History over objections that it would be offensive to Jewish groups as well as feed the flames of rising right-wing extremist groups. (telegraph, uk, January 10, 2016), I applaud this courageous decision, given my conviction that censorship has no place within a free and open society.
With all the excitement and various and incendiary controversies surrounding this publishing event, we might now expect a renewed interest in the contents of Adolf Hitler’s lesser known, second book. While there had been rumors that such a work existed (at least in manuscript form), emanating from several sources including a former employee of the Nazi party’s publishing house.He recalled a manuscript on foreign policy that Hitler had dictated in 1928, just prior to his rise to power, but never published. Hitler himself also mentioned this in 1942. And still, there was no confirmation until German-born Jewish refugee and American historian, Gerhard Weinberg, discovered a mislabeled folder. His workplace was a post-war, remodeled building that had been a torpedo factory, along the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. There were stored thousands and thousands of linear feet of confiscated documents from the Third Reich, considered to be just as incendiary as their other weapons.
Then, on an average day during the summer of 1958, while looking through his files, Weinberg opened a thick folder erroneously labeled as a partial draft for Mein Kampf. As he carefully read the opening lines … “Politics is history in the making. History itself represents the progression of a people’s struggle for survival”. Weinberg recognized the twisted logic of the writer but not of this document. As Weinberg recognized that this manuscript was not Mein Kampf, he followed along as the author continued on with his argument that foreign policy helps a people’s struggle preserve itself; self-preservation requires war. The text continued on with explicit warnings as to exactly what the world could expect from Der Führer. While there were the familiar accusations of Jewish conspiracies, there were also new elements, such as early predictions of an eventual war with the USA .
In an interesting synchronicity, Weinberg soon thereafter received a communication from Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History wanting to know if he had knowledge of a sequel to Mein Kampf. He wrote them back and told them “Yes, and I just found it !”. The Institute of Contemporary History then published the “Zweites Buch” (Second Book) in 1961, along with Weinberg’s commentary. Then while he was showing this manuscript to academic publishers in the USA, an unofficial pirated edition appeared with a dubious translation; and after this he was turned down. At that time, “nobody wanted to be Hitler’s publisher”.In this respect the history of the “Second Book” parallels that of Mein Kampf. Nazi copyrights were seized by the USA in 1945 and then quickly reverted back to the government of Bavaria.
In keeping with the policies of post-war “de-nazification”, Mein Kampf was kept strictly out of print, as this work was considered too dangerous for the general public.
As Weinberg points out, the problem with this approach, was that millions of copies of this now forbidden book already existed in 1945. What was needed therefore, was a copy that provided both context and commentary that a critical edition could provide. In his introduction to Hitler’s Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Main Kampf,which was finally published in 2003, Weinberg wrote, “Germany and the rest of the world have not yet come close to coming to terms with Hitler as a person, as leader of a great nation, and as a symbol.” Banning and refusing to publish Hitler’s books did little to prevent people from accessing his ideas. It served only to prevent historians from contributing to an understanding of how these books are to be remembered. Despite the claims of Holocaust deniers that any book involving Jewish authors or translators cannot be trusted and is not worth reading, Dr. Weinberg’s new edition provides a valuable reference for any serious student of modern European history, the Third Reich, World War II and the Holocaust. (Daniel A. Gross, “A Historian Who Fled the Nazis and Still Wants Us To Read Hitler, NewYorker, December 30, 2015).
While Hitler may be long dead, fascist ideology is alive and well throughout our modern world. Only the naive would continue to believe that this was some German aberration. Here in America we have the sad and increasingly grotesque spectacle of our own right wing, racist and war mongering presidential candidates advocating a national registry for Muslims along with internment camps; and who knows what else they have in mind. How many honestly say, here and elsewhere: “It can’t happen here”?
“Great is the truth, but from a practical point of view, still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth” .
“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
“If one’s different, one is bound to be lonely … Well, I’d rather be unhappy than have the false happiness you were having here”.
(Aldous Huxley, Brave New World)
On January 12th, President Barack Obama, considered by pollsters to be the most polarizing Chief Executive in recent history, delivered his sixth and final, State of the Union Address, which by tradition is delivered to a joint session of the United States Congress. Perhaps you can understand that many who voted for him as the candidate for “Hope and Change”, were soon confronted with the reality of “more of the same”; and even worse, as well as a stark realization that even with a change of personalities or even political parties, the overall agenda remains the same. Even the mainstream Boston Globe has acknowledged this reality: “Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change”. (October 19, 2014). At the beginning of this new year I don’t need to tune into to President Obama in order to know the state of our union … All is not well, the state of our union is not good and is unlikely to improve any time soon. While the same could be said for the state of our war ravaged planet; and increasingly endangered biosphere, for now my focus will remain on our situation here in 21st century America.
Isaac Asimov(1920-1980), former Professor of Biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine, and the author of 212 books on mostly scientific subjects, maintained that there has always been, among our many other challenges, a cult of ignorance in the United States; and that this strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life.It has been nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”. (http://media.aphelis.net).
In “The Great Forgetting”, prize winning journalist Chris Hedges sees this as one among other causes for our current situation given that ignorance and illiteracy come at a cost; as does obsequious worship of technology, hedonism, and power, as well as the primacy of emotion and spectacle over wisdom and rational thought. Hedges laments that a decades-long assault on the arts, humanities, journalism and civic literacy, that once helped us to interpret who we were, and are, and our place in the world, have been either corrupted or relegated to the margins. As a result we have surrendered judgment for prejudice and created a binary universe of “good us versus evil others”. Hedges continues to lament our surrender of judgment for prejudice as we have unleashed our colossal capacity for violence around the globe and into the city streets of our own poorest communities. Moreover, he warns, any marriage of ignorance and force always generates unfathomable evil; unseen by perpetrators who mistake their own stupidity for blindness and innocence. (opednews.com, January 11, 2016).
Stanford University science historian Robert Proctor, delivers a similar message. “We live in a world of radical ignorance and the marvel is that any kind of truth cuts through the noise.” Even though knowledge is accessible, it doesn’t mean that it is accessed. As he was delving into the practices of the tobacco industry and how they spread confusion about the carcinogenic and other lethal potentials of their products, Proctor created a neo-logism for the study of the deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology. Derived from agnosis, the neo-classical Greek word for ignorance or not knowing, and ontology, a branch of metaphysics which concerns the nature of being. So, agnotology is now understood as “the study of willful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or to win favor”. Ignorance is power, Proctor explains, and agnotology is about the deliberate creation of ignorance; and also a political ploy by powerful entities who want us “not to know”.
As an example of agnotology in action, Proctor offers the issue of climate change. The fight, he maintains, is not over the existence of climate change but whether God has created the Earth for us to exploit, whether government has the right to regulate industry, whether environmentalists should be empowered or imprisoned and so on. This fight is not just about the facts but rather what is imagined to flow from and into such facts. As Proctor and others have clearly discerned, deceit and deception is rampant throughout both sides and even the middle of our political spectrum and this reality portends a very tumultuous year ahead. (BBC Future: January 6, 2016).