Tag Archives: Russia

When Murder is just Tough Love: the Culture and Practical Reason of Terrorism after the Quatorze Juliet

A close friend sent me a cute French electronic card for Bastille Day 2016.   And what a Bastille Day it turned out to be, eh?  Think about it!!! A third massive attack on the French people in about a year… But… Cui Bono? What is an attack but an invitation to a counterattack? So if you’re going to start a war, your attack should always be something that weakens the enemy in some regard, right? But NONE of these stupid Muzzies seem to get that, do they? They always attack innocent civilians—everywhere they go, or at the most they attack government bureaucrats….What kind of logic is that? You attack people to prod them into attacking you, but all of your attacks seem carefully designed to arouse ire and anger among the populace while leaving the infrastructure of war that will be used against you completely intact and untouched. Is it just me or is there something wrong with this picture? It’s almost like the people making the attacks ONLY want to make the people MORE willing to counter-attack them back? How is that logical?

Holidays are very important, especially those with fireworks.  I have never lived in France or Quebec, but by the time I was 18 I had lived in London, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Honduras, and whether it’s New Years’ Eve, Guy Fawkes’ Day, the Fourth of July, the 15th of September, or the Queen’s Birthday, fireworks celebrations are really great.  So I try to imagine what would have happened if there had been a bombing during one of those holidays in any of the places I ever habituated…. and what would have been the purpose.  

And what of the Quatorze Julliet?  My grandmother was a Francophone and Francophile native of Louisiana and my Texas-born grandfather’s life took him from Galveston to “the City” on a regular basis, plus I took French in High School and College, and several of my professors were Francophones and Francophiles at Tulane and during those years—including  Archaeologists Harvey Bricker and Cynthia Irwin-Williams who had both studied under Hallam Movius, and from them all, I obtained a love for and habit of celebrating July 14, Bastille Day.

Terrorism, traditionally understood, is a species of poor-man’s war or revolution.  As such, it is inherently secretive and illegal.  War is open and honest: Austria declared war on Serbia, so Russia declared war on Austria, Germany was required by treaty to go to war with Russia to defend Austria, Britain was required by treaty, etc., and so the Great War of 1914-1918 began.  BUT EVERYBODY KNEW IT.

When terrorist organizations claim responsibility after the fact for their crimes… they are doing just that, they are claiming criminal responsibility… and when criminals claim responsibility for anything, you have to wonder: why?

And so I think to myself, what do the April 1995 Bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, 9/11/01 in New York City and Washington, 7/7/05 in London, Dylan Storm Roof’s murderous assault in Charleston last June 17, Charlie Hebdo in France, and now this latest atrocity in Nice all have in common?  

Well, they neither advance any coherent revolutionary plan, nor weaken the countries they attack.  They all happen either on days with interesting numbers or anniversaries.   But the truck bombing that took out 84 yesterday, including two American tourists apparently, just “takes the cake” on Bastille Day—which now joins Guy Fawkes Day and 9/11, 7/7 and 6/17/15 anniversary of the collapse of Denmark Vesey’s 1822 slave uprising in Charleston as “false flag” or stage events of terrorism.

Bastille Day was already a slightly fictitious holiday because, as Louis XVI wrote in his diary, on 14 July 1789, “Nothing Important Happened.”  A mob knocked down an old prison with one prisoner, but the embattled King with a short life-expectancy didn’t even notice, under his peculiar circumstances.  As my son likes to say—the 14th of July was really a tragedy for the future of French Tourism—the Bastille, Mediaeval relic fortress that it was, would have been a major attraction had it survived…  But the French know how to make a good party out of a bad deal—and very few American Fourth of July Cookouts EVER equal the average 14 July party in France or among Francophile/Francophones worldwide… the comparison of the food and wine alone…. oh well, never mind.

But I keep trying to think to myself: if I were an Islamic Freedom-Fighter or would-be Caliph, would attacking innocent people over and over again at random make any sense?  What would I be hoping to accomplish?  What would be my goals?  What good TO ME AND MY CAUSE could possibly inure from committing such crimes?

A sophisticated and coordinated attack in the United States followed by a similar attack in London, and then a decade later two similarly “low tech” attacks in France, and a bunch of random attacks in the meantime… scattered around the world.  Shootings at Fort Hood in Texas, connected or not?  Who knows?  The Boston Marathon whatever it was, connected or not?  Who knows?  The Chattanooga, TN veteran shooting, connected or not?  Who knows?

What is absolutely certain is that SOMEONE wants to create the image of Islamic terror as a world-wide phenomenon that requires  coordinated security and response.  If I were an Islamic Freedom-Fighter or would-be Caliph, would this kind of premonitory strategy seem like a good idea to me?   The answer is NO.

Revolutionary terrorism needs to be targeted on ONE government, one regime, one power structure—and it needs to be consistent and persistent enough to destabilize a society or at least an elite.  The pattern of Islamic Terror since the original 1993 World Trade Center bombing is NOT THAT.   The movement around the map, the focus on NON-STRATEGIC, NON-MILITARY, NON-INFRASTRUCTURE targets is very consistent.

The murder of innocent people was an integral part of Timothy McVeigh’s and Dylan Storm Roof’s approach in distinctly non-Islamic terrorist events in the United States—and their two attacks had no more coordinated relationship to any ideological goals than the long line of supposed Islamic terrorist events.  Even my dearly departed, mild mannered, deeply religious late mother said, way back in April 1995, “if they call themselves Patriots and wanted to make a meaningful statement, they really should have bombed the IRS.”  And if Dylan Storm Roof were really a racist White Supremacist, the LAST associations he would have wanted to make were the killing of elderly black people during a prayer meeting at a conservative African Methodist Episcopal Church on the 193rd anniversary of the Suppression of one of the most famous Slave Rebellions in U.S. History: this sort of symbolism all plays for the OTHER side—and so does bombing the French Riviera during Bastille Day celebrations.  

IF you want to make sure to build your enemies’  anger and take every step possible to ensure that NOBODY has any sympathy for your cause, (a) make sure nobody knows what your cause is and (b) do things in random places but on important days to make sure people remember the randomness.

In short, to my mind, there is absolutely ZERO chance that the Nice attack on Bastille Day was organized by anyone sincerely to advance the Islamist cause.   You want to bomb a target on a holiday?  If you’re a real revolutionary, you seek a target like an electrical power plant or water pumping station or even a sewerage processing plant where you can disable your opponents entire city and infrastructure in some really inconvenient and expensive way.  Osama bin Laden was a structural engineer and IF he had been in charge of 9-11, as a plot against the United States, I’ve always said his targets of choice would have been the undefended dams along the Colorado River, in order to cutoff the water supply to evil sinful cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and the California “Inland Empire.”

So none of these attacks, my friends, are about an Islamic agenda for World Domination or even in revenge for the (indisputable) wrongs suffered by the Arab and Islamic people generally at British, French, and most recently American Imperialist hands….

WHO WANTS TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER THROUGH TERROR?  The Radical Islamic World?  Or Powers, Princes and Potentates MUCH Closer to Home!

All these attacks, in my opinion, reflect a “tough love” strategy of the United States, French, and British Governments to “soften up” the people and by long-term repetitive pseudo-Pavlovian conditioning make them (i.e. US, the free and responsible people of America and Europe) willing to accept an all-encompassing, eternal “Thousand Year” Police State—exactly what Strom Thurmond predicted was the goal in his “Dixiecrat” Platform of 1948.  They want to impose the police state for our own good and our own protection, don’t you understand?  That’s why modern government false-flag murder is just TOUGH LOVE.  And if you don’t like it, well, tough s__t, you know, my fellow Americans: “We have to break a few eggs here and there to prepare for you our New World Order of Omelette—-they’re all for you, you know!  But we know you’re too stupid to want this wonderful highly organized Police State where we can organize and regulate all of your lives, so we have to scare you into it.”  

In other words: Tales of Terrorism function for the modern media  motivated masses exactly the way Perrault’s or Grimm’s Fairy tales did in days of yore…. scary stories are INSTRUCTIONAL!  You need to scare the children by telling them about the BIG BAD WOLF and what he did to Little Red Riding Hood, or about what the Witch did to Hansel & Gretel with her candy house, so that they will live in constant fear of strangers and of attempting to strike out on their own.  FEAR!  FEAR!  FEAR!  “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, it’s got to be taught from year-to-year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

DALLAS WAS JUST PERFECT!

The Dallas Police Murders last week, which suspiciously took place on the now recurring date of 7/7, were not Islamic either, but they served the fear purpose and the “Divide and Conquer” purpose to a degree unmatched in any other attack.  Black people killing black cops—a recipe made by Machiavelli in Hell….

Peaceful black protesters complaining about police brutality were forced to hide behind the police lines when one or more black gunmen murdered 5 and injured 7 more.  DID THIS ADVANCE THE CAUSE OF “BLACK LIVES MATTER”?  No, but it was a boon for American Renaissance (and I write this as a regular reader  of and a subscriber to AmRen).

To feed the ignorant white suburban paranoia of blacks attacking whites was a simple stroke of Genius on the part of the Obama administration—all of a sudden, we have forced a portion of the black population into making a choice: either they act out the worst fears of the white middle class suburbanites or they support the Police.  Obama, as usual, was totally two-faced, but two-faced is how the supporters of the police state need to be: they need to FOMENT inter-racial violence on the one hand and then condemn murder on the other, because THIS STRATEGY SUPPORTS INCREASING THE POWER AND THE EFFICACY OF THE STATE.

The way to satisfy the Black Lives Matter movement is to suppress white-conservative expression and culture and desires to be left alone in an essentially segregated society.  To satisfy the White AND Black Middle and Upper Classes, the government must enlarge (a better word might be to engorge) the police state and enhance the power of the police to protect them from the rising black tide.

Now I read AmRen and similar publications and websites because I support what I perceive as their key long-term goals, namely segregation of the races to maintain cultural continuity.  Strangely enough, many black civil rights advocates share these goals, and I wholeheartedly support those who do.  BUT I HATE INJUSTICE, UNFAIRNESS, and  OPPRESSION and the way the POLICE STATE MAXIMIZES all three.  And the only thing that all the terrorist murders of the past 21 years since Oklahoma really have in common is: they justify oppressive measures and unfair oppression.

I totally disagree, then, with the advocacy of increased police power and authority which the reaction to Dallas has engendered both among the White and Black Middle Class.   Whites may believe that the police are on their side, but my experience in life is quite the opposite.  The calibre and IQ of men (and women) who opt for a career in law enforcement are not the highest, and police ONLY support the “side” that pays them directly (namely the State and City power structures, and the banks and other large institutions who support those) AGAINST ALL THE PEOPLE, REGARDLESS OF RACE CREED, OR COLOR.

One feature of modern society that deeply distresses me is the increasingly lack of respect among people.  The police do not respect anyone’s rights, as can be seen from countless examples in various fields of law enforcement, from domestic relations to enforcement of judicial foreclosures.  But ordinary people, too, do not respect each other’s rights, space or property, and depend for all protection on the police or state power generally as arbiters of everything.  Individuals need to take responsibility for all things, including their own protection and that of their loved ones and property.

Concern over lack of respect is, I think, a unifying theme in both the radical White and radical Black Lives Matter movements.  

Quatorze Juillet  (Edith Piaf)

Il me vient par la fenêtre
Des musiques de la rue.
Chaque estrade a son orchestre.
Chaque bal a sa cohue.
Ces gens-là m’ont pris ma fête.
Je ne la reconnais plus.

Dans ma chambre, je me chante
L’air que nous avons valsé.
Je regarde la toquarde
Où tes doigts se sont posés.

Tu m’as dit : “Tu es si belle.”
Et tu as, l’instant d’après,
Ajouté : “La vie est bête.”.
J’ai compris que tu partais.
Si tu ne reviens jamais,
Il n’y aura plus de quatorze juillet.

Il me vient par la fenêtre
Un murmure qui s’éteint,
Les chansons d’une jeunesse
Attardée dans le matin.
N’allez pas troubler mon rêve.
Allez rire un peu plus loin.

Que m’apporte, que m’apporte
Cette joie de quelques heures ?
Je suis morte, je suis morte
Et je t’ai déjà rejoint
Et mon corps est près du tien
Mais personne n’en sait rien…

The 14th of July

He comes to my window
The music in the street
Each stage has its orchestra
Each dance has its crowd
These people took my celebration
I don’t recognize it anymore

In my room, I sing to myself
The air that we waltzed in
I watch the infatuation
Where your fingers encountered mine

You tell me “you are so beautiful”
And you after a moment
Added “life is stupid”
I understood that you left
If you never come back
There will not be another 14th of July

He came to my window
A murmur that has extinguished
The songs of youth
Lingering in the morning
Don’t go troubling my dream
Laughing one step further away

That brings me, that brings me
The joy of a few hours
I’m dead, I’m dead
And I already reached you
And my body is close to yours
But nobody knows anything…

The Forgotten Murderous History of Communism: Ten Years & Six Months Ago Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Last Book Broke the Last Taboo of the Revolution

On July 11, 2013, we are all getting ready for Bastille Day in New Orleans—224 years since the Great Prison, symbolic of an imprisoned French People, came down.  The French Revolution was unquestionably French—the only “foreign influence” detectable in the events of 1789-1815 was that of English Radicals and American Republican Revolutionaries like Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, and Benjamin Franklin.  But was the Russian Revolution genuinely Russian?  Was it really an uprising of the “Bolshevik” of Russians (the word “Bolshevik” means “Majority” in Russian)?  Or was that a lie, among the many lies of Communism?  Is Communism itself one gigantic lie and deception, conceived by a tiny elite to spread its power and enslave the world?  Are Modern America and Europe under the sway of that minority?  Can we call that tiny elite by the names “Bilderbergers”, “Council on Foreign Relations?”, “Trilateral Commission”?, or are there other, more common names?  I do not even pretend to know the answer, but I know that when I was 11-12, reading “the Gulag Archipelago” had a profound impact on my psyche.  I had grown up with my grandparents’ (Texas charter member John Birchers, both of them) conversations about the evils of Communism, and how the Communists of Russia and China had killed many times more people in Peacetime than Adolph Hitler had done during World War II.  But the stark reality of what Solzhenitsyn described was so much worse than mere statistics.  

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/jan/25/russia.books

Solzhenitsyn breaks last taboo of the revolution

Nobel laureate under fire for new book on the role of Jews in Soviet-era repression

 in Moscow

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who first exposed the horrors of the Stalinist gulag, is now attempting to tackle one of the most sensitive topics of his writing career – the role of the Jews in the Bolshevik revolution and Soviet purges.

In his latest book Solzhenitsyn, 84, deals with one of the last taboos of the communist revolution: that Jews were as much perpetrators of the repression as its victims. Two Hundred Years Together – a reference to the 1772 partial annexation of Poland and Russia which greatly increased the Russian Jewish population – contains three chapters discussing the Jewish role in the revolutionary genocide and secret police purges of Soviet Russia.

But Jewish leaders and some historians have reacted furiously to the book, and questioned Solzhenitsyn’s motives in writing it, accusing him of factual inaccuracies and of fanning the flames of anti-semitism in Russia.

Solzhenitsyn argues that some Jewish satire of the revolutionary period “consciously or unconsciously descends on the Russians” as being behind the genocide. But he states that all the nation’s ethnic groups must share the blame, and that people shy away from speaking the truth about the Jewish experience.

In one remark which infuriated Russian Jews, he wrote: “If I would care to generalise, and to say that the life of the Jews in the camps was especially hard, I could, and would not face reproach for an unjust national generalisation. But in the camps where I was kept, it was different. The Jews whose experience I saw – their life was softer than that of others.”

Yet he added: “But it is impossible to find the answer to the eternal question: who is to be blamed, who led us to our death? To explain the actions of the Kiev cheka [secret police] only by the fact that two thirds were Jews, is certainly incorrect.”

Solzhenitsyn, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, spent much of his life in Soviet prison camps, enduring persecution when he wrote about his experiences. He is currently in frail health, but in an interview given last month he said that Russia must come to terms with the Stalinist and revolutionary genocides – and that its Jewish population should be as offended at their own role in the purges as they are at the Soviet power that also persecuted them.

“My book was directed to empathise with the thoughts, feelings and the psychology of the Jews – their spiritual component,” he said. “I have never made general conclusions about a people. I will always differentiate between layers of Jews. One layer rushed headfirst to the revolution. Another, to the contrary, was trying to stand back. The Jewish subject for a long time was considered prohibited. Zhabotinsky [a Jewish writer] once said that the best service our Russian friends give to us is never to speak aloud about us.”

But Solzhenitsyn’s book has caused controversy in Russia, where one Jewish leader said it was “not of any merit”.

“This is a mistake, but even geniuses make mistakes,” said Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Russian Jewish Congress. “Richard Wagner did not like the Jews, but was a great composer. Dostoyevsky was a great Russian writer, but had a very sceptical attitude towards the Jews.

“This is not a book about how the Jews and Russians lived together for 200 years, but one about how they lived apart after finding themselves on the same territory. This book is a weak one professionally. Factually, it is so bad as to be beyond criticism. As literature, it is not of any merit.”

But DM Thomas, one of Solzhenitsyn’s biographers, said that he did not think the book was fuelled by anti-semitism. “I would not doubt his sincerity. He says that he firmly supports the state of Israel. In his fiction and factual writing there are Jewish characters that he writes about who are bright, decent, anti-Stalinist people.”

Professor Robert Service of Oxford University, an expert on 20th century Russian history, said that from what he had read about the book, Solzhenitsyn was “absolutely right”.

Researching a book on Lenin, Prof Service came across details of how Trotsky, who was of Jewish origin, asked the politburo in 1919 to ensure that Jews were enrolled in the Red army. Trotsky said that Jews were disproportionately represented in the Soviet civil bureaucracy, including the cheka.

“Trotsky’s idea was that the spread of anti-semitism was [partly down to] objections about their entrance into the civil service. There is something in this; that they were not just passive spectators of the revolution. They were part-victims and part-perpetrators.

“It is not a question that anyone can write about without a huge amount of bravery, and [it] needs doing in Russia because the Jews are quite often written about by fanatics. Mr Solzhenitsyn’s book seems much more measured than that.”

Yet others failed to see the need for Solzhenitsyn’s pursuit of this particular subject at present. Vassili Berezhkov, a retired KGB colonel and historian of the secret services and the NKVD (the precursor of the KGB), said: “The question of ethnicity did not have any importance either in the revolution or the story of the NKVD. This was a social revolution and those who served in the NKVD and cheka were serving ideas of social change.

“If Solzhenitsyn writes that there were many Jews in the NKVD, it will increase the passions of anti-semitism, which has deep roots in Russian history. I think it is better not to discuss such a question now.”

Are the Human Races a valuable element of Diversity? If so, they should be preserved and fostered, protected and endowed as a matter of right, with the encouraging impetus to further diversity

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/opinion/ecology-lessons-from-the-cold-war.html?nl=opinion&emc=edit_ty_20130530&_r=0
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Ecology Lessons From the Cold War

By JACOB DARWIN HAMBLIN
Published: May 29, 2013

CORVALLIS, Ore. — TODAY the effort to preserve the planet’s biodiversity is often seen as a campaign to save the whales for their own sake, or to give polar bears a few more winters on the Arctic ice. But in the 1950s, when the concept was first discussed, it was understood that far more was at stake. The “conservation of variety,” as it was called during the early years of the cold war, was no less than a strategy of human survival.

Golden Cosmos

At that time, American military leaders and scientists were contemplating the possibility of total war with the Soviet Union, with not only civilians, but plants, animals and entire ecosystems as fair game. The war planners imagined a brave new world in which biological and radiological weapons would be considered side by side with crop destruction, huge fires, artificial earthquakes, tsunamis, ocean current manipulation, sea-level tinkering and even weather control.

Numerous approaches seemed feasible then: melting polar ice by blackening it with soot, seeding clouds with chemicals to harass an enemy with rain and mud, killing life-sustaining crops with deadly cereal rust spores or radioactive contamination. Entire forests might be set ablaze by the thermal radiation of a high-altitude nuclear blast. Well-placed detonations might unleash the energy of the earth’s crust, oceans or weather systems. During the Korean War, Representative Albert Gore Sr. went so far as to urge President Harry S. Truman to contaminate an enormous strip of territory across the Korean Peninsula with radioactive waste from plutonium processing, hoping the poisonous landscape would deter Communist troops from moving south.

By the early 1960s, NATO was calling these approaches “environmental warfare.” One of the important considerations in the calculus, not surprisingly, was self-preservation. War planning would include figuring out how to keep people alive beyond the initial devastation. The best approach, scientists concluded, was coming up with ways to protect ecosystems.

Today we call it biodiversity. One of its principal advocates was the Oxford ecologist Charles Elton, whose book “The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants,” argued that simplifying landscapes with weedkillers, or planting single crop species over large areas made a recipe for disaster. The best defense from diseases, other species or natural catastrophes, he said, was to conserve as much biological variety as possible in the fields and hedges of the countryside to counterbalance any threat. In his book he called it the conservation of variety.

Elton’s approach not only inspired Rachel Carson to write “Silent Spring,” about the harm done by insecticides, it also resonated among scientists in the defense establishment. Fantasizing about environmental warfare in the early 1960s, NATO scientists tried to imagine which links in ecosystems were vulnerable to manipulation. Studies had recently shown radioactive fallout infiltrating reindeer meat, a crucial part of Eskimos’ diets. It was a revelation to think that such a connection in the food chain was now targetable. But the reverse was also true, and underscored Elton’s point: the complexity of an ecosystem made any particular “link” less important, making the system less vulnerable.

This was the lesson defense planners took to heart. They decided that a robust peacetime market economy provided variety, and thus security in peace and war. If nuclear war ever came, a decentralized, diversified society would be in better shape than a centrally planned one like the Soviet Union’s. The same logic applied to biological variety. That is why strategic stockpiles of Western nations during the cold war did not collect enormous stores of favorite foods but samples of the widest range of species imaginable.

In the face of natural disasters, such diversity seemed to be the West’s ace in the hole. The variety of agricultural products in the United States far outpaced those of the Soviet Union, and is a reason that C.I.A. analysts predicted in the 1980s that global climate change would cause more harm to Russia than to the United States.

We managed to survive the cold war, but the challenges to our environmental security remain. We need to stop treating the idea of biodiversity as a philosophical preference and embrace it as a strategy of survival, just as it was for those who, more than a half-century ago, planned for a calamitous total war.

Jacob Darwin Hamblin is an associate professor of history at Oregon State University and the author of “Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism.”

St. George the Anarchist? Adolf the Good Shepherd? St. George of Lydda was not a Good Shepherd, but on AH’s 124th birthday we might well reflect whether Der Fuhrer appealed to the sincere craving most people have for a Good Shepherd, a true leader: meditations at the Cusp of Aries & Taurus: April 20-23, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Today is St. George’s Day, the national day of England, Aragon & Portugal, Greece, and Russia (literally the Four Corners of Europe).  The real dragon that the historical St. George slew was not a scaly monster with wings but (in effect) the last gasp of Pagan imperialism and imperial taxation for the ancient Gods in Rome.  He was a nobleman who died a noble death for the highest of all causes: preservation of his own faith, morals, philosophy, and religion.  

George’s father, Gerontios, was a Greek, from Cappadocia, Asia Minor, a high officer in the Roman army of the Eastern Empire and his mother, Polychronia, was a Greek from the city Lydda, Palestine.  George’s parents were both pre-Nicene, pre-Imperial adoption Roman Christians and from noble families of Anici, so their child was raised with Christian beliefs, although it is probably fair to say that Christian beliefs of the late 3rd century might have included a lot of what we now consider “Gnostic” and other heresies.  His parents decided to call the future saint by a rather humble name: Georgios, which in Greek means “earth-worker” or “farmer”.  

No records attest or even suggest St. George’s birthdate or exact age, but “as a young man,” sometime in his early-to-mid twenties, before A.D. 302, George traveled to Nicomedia (now Turkish “Izmit” by the Sea of Marmara), the imperial city of the Eastern Roman Empire (from 284-324, just until the foundation of Constantinople).  There in what was then the Primary Center of the collapsing Roman Empire, George offered his services to the Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian and applied for a commission in the Roman Army, specifically the late imperial version of the Praetorian Guard. Diocletian welcomed this young nobleman, apparently quite warmly, as the Imperator had known George’s father, Gerontius — one of his finest soldiers.  By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

In the year AD 302, Diocletian (following his junior imperial co-regent Emperor Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice (tax or offering of some sort) to the ancient Roman gods still prominent at the time.  A Christian himself, George son of Gerontius objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler.   Roman Emperors, presumably, did not much like their edicts to be questioned, since their edicts were law.  (The current President of the United States feels much the same way).  

George’s actions put Diocletian in a pickle, however.  George was either his best or one of his best tribunes and the son of either his best or one of his best officials, Gerontius.

In what can only be called an act of Anarchism and Defiance of Leadership, George loudly renounced the Emperor’s edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ.  Diocletian sought to convert George, to “save” him as it were for Apollo, Jupiter, Juno, and Zeus, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if George would bow down and sacrifice to the Roman gods.  The Emperor essentially offered George massive and generous bribes and benefits, which the saintly young Christian never accepted.

Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to haveGeorge executed for his defiance.  But, just to make the Emperor’s situation worse, before his execution George gave all his not inconsiderable wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords from which George survived three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia’s city wall, on April 23, 303.

A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. George’s body was returned to Lydda in Palestine for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.  So the Dragon that George slew in fact was the dragon of obedience in violation of his faith, of his God and of his Truth.  St. George was a nobleman who followed no leader but Jesus Christ, although he might have been close in wealth to the Emperor had he consented to the bribery and pressure.   So let us feast today in memory of St. George the Anarchist, whose defiant death as an Imperial Tribune, so close to the emperor, brought the triumph of Christianity in Rome one major step closer.  

For all these reasons St. George was truly heroic and a model for our time, and his inheritance of the Ancient Indo-European mythic status as Dragon Slayer is altogether appropriate and fitting (see Calvert Watkins: How to Kill a Dragon Oxford University Press).  It seems particularly appropriate to celebrate St. George one week after April 15, in honor and memory of all who in adherence to their faith in freedom and the Constitution to defy the illegal taxes and sacrifices required of them in these United States today.  

In following Jesus Christ, St. George in fact died more as a Dragon himself than as a sheep—he died with full knowledge of the earthly riches and power he could have possessed, if only he had abandoned his Lord for his earthly leader.  

And all of this happened on the Cusp of Aries & Taurus (Does History Make Myth or does Myth Make History?): Does the following astrological characterization (“randomly” selected not by me but by Google as the first listed) seem at all appropriate for a week commemorating Adolf Hitler, Cannabis sativa L., Earth Day, Good Shepherd Sunday, and St. George’s Day?:

“Often times referred to as the as the “cusp of power”, the Aries/Taurus combination is one you do not want to fight against. I say this because you may never win; a fire/earth combination is never easy to beat. Aries is a fiery and impulsive sign.  They charge forward even where angels fear to tread and have no problem doing what needs to be done to obtain their objective. The Taurus part of this combination grounds the impulsiveness and provides an air of practicality and endurance. It is like a tug of war and the feel of both involved is set in concrete.
The Aries Taurus combination is truly dominant and capable of being a force you cannot control. Make no doubt, they will be a leader wherever they end up being and you will do their bidding. At home or even at work, they are the established principal and do not like submitting to someone else’s authority. At the same time, all of this ‘being the alpha’ of the group can also overwhelm them causing them to lose their drive or ambition. They begin to question if it is worth all their effort and skill. But for as strong as these two signs are, they are also very, very dangerous.
They are the first signs of the zodiac as well as their element and quality. Like many first signs you will always have a fight for lead position. They surround themselves with people who are not afraid to go toe to toe with them and don’t mind going that extra mile. They enjoy a challenge and love to be intellectually stimulated. As someone who loves an Aries Taurus cusp, you will need to be patient with them as they can be quarrelsome and changeable at the best of times, especially if you have their heart. You will get the brunt end of many aggressions because again, they expect you to be able to take it. If you can remember that they are likely to follow their instincts rather than rules, it might help you two get along better.  As a person living within this cusp, you are a bundle of energy at the best of times. The Aries in you is ready to take on the world while the Taurus in you thinks great idea but let’s sit down and plan strategy before you attack. If you are unable to find your own personal balance you are left restless and stressed. Finding the proper balance takes time, trial and error. You have to find your own path, one where you can let your aggressive nature out to play while keeping certain things in life stable and relaxed.”

(http://xstrologyscopes.com/articles/aries/aries-taurus-cusp)

We’ll see what happens today, but so far Sunday, April 21 has been the most dramatic day of this “Cusp” for me, mostly because of what happened at Church.  It was the Fourth Sunday of Easter and “Good Shepherd Sunday”—due to my own schedule and whereabouts on Sunday I ended up going to the evening service at the Trinity Church Chapel on Jackson Street instead of my usual trip to “Real Presence” at the Cathedral.  The 6:00 pm service at Trinity is much more conservative and traditional than the radically “avant guarde” event at the same time at Christ Church on St. Charles.  

The drama started immediately when the opening hymn was (Episcopal) 1982 Hymnal: 522 (Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken–http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/EH1982/522).  The words are almost irrelevant: the tune, the music, is Franz Joseph Haydn Opus 76, no. 3: the world knows this as Deutschland über Alles.  Interesting choice the day after Hitler’s birthday, don’t you think?  To aggravate the complexity of the thought, and the coincidence.  Father Henry Hudon’s sermon concerned “Leadership” concluding “the Good Shepherd is the one who leads his flock, whom his flock will follow willingly.”   The Psalm was 23 of course:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: 
He leadeth me beside the still waters. 
He restoreth my soul: 
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; 
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: 
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: 
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Historically speaking, Adolf Hitler was not a “Good Shepherd” for Germany or the world.  He did not lead them to green pastures or still waters but led Germany into near total self-anihilation by fighting a war that should never have been fought.  Even if we consider that Hitler had been a Good Shepherd for Germany right up until September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland ultimately led to the cancellation of any good thing he or his regime had ever done.  Hitler did indeed lead the world into the valley of the shadow of death where everyone, both Germans and non-Germans, had much to fear in those days.  Goodness and mercy were not notable features either of the Third Reich nor the World War, nor of the Allied Occupation of Germany which followed.   The War Crimes Trials held in 1946-49 (and sporadically thereafter) are among the greatest mockeries of justice in history.

But none of this changes the fact that Hitler operated as a remarkably “Good Shepherd” in the sense of a persuasive leader—a man whom his people followed.  Many in the Patriot movement criticize Americans for being “Sheeple”—and yet our religion, or symbolism, everything in Christianity teaches us that the Lamb of God should be the leader of all the sheep.  The Gospel on Sunday was John 10:22-30 “My sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them from out of my hand.  What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.”  

One of Hitler’s Harvard-educated followers Ernst Hanfstaengl once rhapsodized about the Nazi leader, “What Hitler was able to do to a crowd in 2½ hours will never be repeated in 10,000 years,” Hanfstaengl said. “Because of his miraculous throat construction, he was able to create a rhapsody of hysteria. In time, he became the living unknown soldier of Germany.”  Hitler’s sheep knew his voice, but perhaps he did not know them.  Hitler not only gave an early death rather than eternal life to a huge number of his people, especially a near generation and a half of the good-looking young German men pictured in film-clip after film-clip from the 1930s shouting “Sieg Heil.”  What could be more ironic?  Hitler’s personality followed very closely to the Aries-Taurus cusp described above.  Was it written with Hitler in mind?

And herein is the deep and troubling problem: people crave leadership.  They long for a “Good Shepherd.”  This is not merely a feature of the German people at all.  The Americans since at least 2000 have recently been led down several paths by two good and persuasive leaders whom they did not question.  The paths on which the United States of America has walked since 2000 are clearly paths to tyranny, despotic dictatorship, and one form or another of Socialism or Communism which will be utterly incompatible with the Constitution of 1787, or its ten 1791 Amendments known as “the Bill of Rights.”  

The comparisons between Bush, Hitler, and Obama may get tiresome, but they are not pointless.  Very few people in the world are actually capable of living as true leaderless “anarchists.”  I fancy that I am one of the few who can manage, in large part because I am my grandparents’ grandson, and I know a few other true “anarchists”, but most people long to be told what to do.  While teaching I learned this: most students hate a professor who encourages them to go their own way and be creative.  They want strict instructions and stricter guidelines.

Prior to the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, I had spent parts of Saturday meditating as I always do on the horrible incongruity of 420 being Adolf Hitler’s birthday and International Marijuana-Pot, “Cannabis sativa culture” day.  I don’t smoke pot anymore (never did very much) but almost everyone else in the world does or seems to.  I last smoked in July 1991, right here in New Orleans in fact at a party my wife Elena and I threw in the Mary Martin suite at the Pontchartrain Hotel, within a few blocks of where I’m sitting writing this in fact.   Elena’s little sister Alex and a bunch of Maya archaeological luminaries attending the International Congress of Americanists including Clemency Chase Coggins, Merle Greene Robertson, David H. Kelley, Edward B. Kurjack, Norman Hammond, and Harriot Topsey, were having a great time lighting up in one of the rooms while others were sitting “talking shop” in another.  Elena made a gigantic scene when she found her (underage) sister smoking in a room full of adults and told everyone the horrible study of her brother George and his decline due to drug addiction (he died nine years later in January 2010, at the ripe old age of 51).  It was the beginning of the end for me and Elena but it was absolutely the last time I ever touched Pot.  

Still, as an anarchist I believe in Freedom and the right of each individual to choose his way, and for that reason I support the 420 movement to the extent that it proposes an abolition of all government interference with both the production, sale, and distribution of whatever people really want, even if they are led to destructive habits by bad shepherds….. Yes, I do think part of freedom is the freedom to follow even Bush, even Hitler, even Obama, even Stalin, but it is the duty of every Anarchist to try to turn sheep into wolves…..

Earth Day has never been that “big” a day in my life.  I was President of the Environmental Law Society at the University of Chicago and have always fancied myself an environmentalist.  But in recent years, I have become extremely uncomfortable with the Environmental Movement largely because of its alliance with “Agenda 21” and what Obama Czar “Cass Sunstein” (my former professor for both Environmental and Administrative Law at the University of Chicago) calls “Command and Control” state action.  “Command and Control” over the economy under PRETEXT of environmentalism is to my mind, totally wrong.  

I submit that sound money is the best guarantor of sound economic policy.  But for ludicrously extravagant government expenditures in the 1920s-1930s, none of the gigantic dams could ever have been built along the Colorado River and, without that hideous diversion of water, the ecological fiasco known as Southern California suburbia could NEVER have come into existence.  Los Angeles might have remained a small railroad town.  Although, pushing the model back further, the great railways of the 1860s-1890s which created (among other things) Los Angeles and Pasadena, would likewise never have happened if government had stayed limited and constrained by sound monetary policy and the Constitution of 1787, limited by the Bill of Rights.  Dams are the greatest ecological and environmental curses known to the Planet, yet they provide short term comforts which people love.  As I have often written, Dams are just the latest manifestation of “Oriental Despotism” which is the original form of state-based welfare, the original basis for welfare-based “command and control” over large populations.  Ecologically speaking, NOTHING is more wasteful, destructive, and against nature than the water-redistributive policies which have transformed Southern California, Southern Nevada, and most of Central and Southern Arizona into suburban wastelands.  Abolish the free credit easy money economy, restore gold and silver as the only lawful currency, and the dams will soon cease to function, have to be torn down, and the Southwestern Deserts will reclaim the suburbs, slowly but surely.  That is MY dream for Earth Day.

But finally, will it take a real St. George to achieve such an ecological turn around?  A modern St. George might well be the man who dismantles the dams.   St. George, the Patron Saint of England, Greece, Aragon (Catalonia), Egypt, Lithuania, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia.   St. George, by all accounts, was a leaderless Anarchist.  He was NOT a Good Shepherd.  He apparently did not lead people at all, but acted alone and set an example.  I think this is why St. George is such an appropriate Patron Saint for England, and Americans would do well to think more of his example as well.  

Oz: Mythic Power in the Power of Mythic Deception

Ok, my not so amazing prediction: “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” will not be nominated for any academy awards next year.  The new Oz comes out just over 11 and under 12 months after The Hunger Games (premiered March 23 2012) which is its ideological opposite: Hunger Games is a movie of the people against the government crowds are shown, but closeups of faces in the crowd are not cartoon snapshots of stereotypes—in the new Oz, all the common people are cartoon snapshots). 

Oz is a movie which not only glorifies but presumes that monarchical government and autocracy, a government of “Archons” is both natural and essential.  In Oz: the Great and Powerful, we see only the cartoonish choice between good dictators/kings and bad dictators/kings (reminiscent of the 1939 Glinda’s question to Dorothy: “are you a good witch or a bad witch?”)

“Oz, the Great and Powerful,” may neither be certainly a great or powerful cinematic event, but it is not a bad movie.  It is more than worth seeing and thinking about.  As a statement of political power mythology, it is closest (but superior both as a movie and as a dramatic contribution to mythic evolution) to “Batman, Dark Knight Rises”.   

As a Disney Production and product of the Magic Kingdom, Oz finds pro-monarchist, elitist ideological common ground with The Lion King (June 15, 1994).  But whereas world of Simba and Mufassa was elegantly pure Dumézilian structuralist mythology in support of the absolute monarchy of the lions, Oz merely celebrates Bush-Cheney-Obama low-brow dictatorship by deceit.  

Fair to say I enjoyed Oz: the Great and Powerful more than I thought I would given the almost universally disappointed/disappointing reviews.  It is true that the three witches are pretty much flat, two dimensional, and on the dull side even if they are more conventionally attractive than even Glinda was in the 1939 Classic and each is more beautiful possessing more sex appeal than Elphaba in “Wicked.”  But Elphaba is a MUCH more interesting character, developed with oh so much more depth and dimensions.

“Wicked” has ten to a hundred times more lasting mythological power as a post-modern statement of relativism than anything in “Oz, the Great and Powerful.”   But on the other hand, James Franco’s Oz is more realistic as a portrayal of conservative, monarchical values than Batman or Bruce Wayne was in the last installment of the Dark Knight Trilogy.  Oscar Diggs is not exactly Scar from the Lion King either.  He is really closest to any of the past four U.S. Presidents Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama.  His personality comes nowhere close to as engaging as Ronald Reagan or as articulate and humble as Carter.

There are really only three ways to portray political power in a story:  (1) as natural and necessary—so that the struggle is between good and bad “rulers”, (2) unnatural and not only unnecessary but oppressive and therefore evil—so that the struggle is between the people and the power structure, and (3) natural or at least “a given” —“always with us” (kind of like “the poor”) but essentially trivial and irrelevant.

Movies of the third type used to be fairly common in the American cinematic repertoire, but they have all but vanished in modern times.  The third type of movie was the “heroes ride off into the sunset” variety of “Western” or “rugged individualist” myth embodied and exemplified seriously as in (1) Casablanca, (2) High Noon, and (3)  The African Queen or comically as in (4) Cat Ballou.  

Recent years have seen Hunger Games and Serenity in the “Government is the Enemy” category pitted against Batman: Dark Knight and now Oz: the Great and Powerful.  Oz and Batman presume the paradoxical necessity of autocratic rule in society, with “Good” Autocrats guaranteeing “Freedom & Justice” while “Bad” Autocrats are just like the Good Autocrats only “Bad.”   Television series such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,”, “Angel”, and “Dexter” tend to vacillate between “Government as the Enemy” and “Government is always there but Irrelevant.”  

In “Oz: the Great and Powerful”, we see a very specific “real world” dramatic retelling of the story of the disembodied leader becoming more powerful after death, as an Icon and a Myth, than he ever could have been as an earthly individual.  The Character of the Wizard Oscar Diggs is not even “intriguingly” Banal and Ordinary.  He is really kind of uninspiringly banal and ordinary—much like the real life Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.   Like George W. Bush, Diggs is a master of illusion and deceit, and that is his primary qualification as a leader.  Like Clinton, Oscar Diggs’ “Oz” is attractive to the ladies and that makes the movie at least somewhat pleasant to watch.  But as with last year’s somewhat deadly dud “Dark Shadows” with Johnny Depp, stories involving beautiful but jealous witches are really so awfully unoriginal as to be boring—and I’ve not only watched too many I’ve lived the story in real life just several too many times….ahem, but I digress…

Unlike the stories of both Dorothy Gale (or her as yet cinematically almost unknown friend and colleague in adventure in most of L. Frank Baum’s later stories, “Ozma”) and Elphaba, there is hardly a hint of feminism or “girl power” in any of the three witches.  (No “Buffy” or “Willow” or even “Anya” on the scenes of this Oz).   Even Glinda (Michelle Williams) is at best a kind of exquisitely delicate, weak, very pretty and attractive but only marginally talented “second rate” witch outshown and outperformed by Oz’ mechanical illusions which ultimately succeed in vanquishing and exiling the evil sisters to the East and West of the Emerald City.  [It made sense to see Oz on St. Patrick’s Day weekend since Oz, like Ireland and Ancient Maya Yucatán, is a magic land divided into four color-coded cardinal direction (NSEW) quarters of the world with Green at the Center—the Emerald City = the Yaxché at the Center of the Maya universe and Tara at the cosmic and ritual center of the Emerald Isle itself].  

[The beautiful witch who turns green and ugly (the future W.W. West, Mila Kunis) reminds me ever so much of my own former wife Elena K….. beautiful and ambitious in the beginning, looked really good in red, but ultimately deadly and green   for all the wrong reasons (Elphaba was green for “good” reasons).]

What are interesting from the standpoint of mythic deconstruction in “Oz, the Great and Powerful” are Oz’ assertions that he is more powerful as a disembodied image than as a man, that illusion is more powerful than reality.  This IS a valid post-modern deconstruction of the American Presidency, and of Institutional “Corporate” government and economy in general.

Does the generalization apply to the life of Julius Caesar, or merely to the post-mortem TITLE of Caesar, which endured for a thousand years as the Supreme Emblem of “Imperial” Authority in the non-Latin monarchs (Kaisers & Tsars) of Germany, Austria, and Russia?  

A certain kind of post-modern deconstructionalist will tell you that Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar both planned their deaths for the purpose of Apotheosis and Institutionalization of Power.  This is exactly what Oscar Diggs does in “Oz: the Great and Powerful.”  

Power by deception and illusion is the political science of Machiavelli’s Il Principe and Cardinal Richelieu’s dictum “to dissemble is to rule” as well as the apparent embodiment of the theory underlying American foreign policy probably since the sinking of the Battleship Maine. Power by deception and illusion is a very anti-democratic theory of the origin and nature of power, totally opposed to the Katniss Everdeen or Buffy Summers schools of “Divine Kingship through Combat and Sacrifice.”  Katniss and Buffy were both pitted against dictatorships built on bloody lies and concealment of the truth, as were the “Wild West” type heroes on the Crew of “Serenity” (paired with Buffy and Angel, also by Joss Whedon).  As I have been writing for more than ten years, Buffy Summers’ death in Season Five of her series was a classic “Golden Bough” moment, though after Buffy’s resurrection in Season Six she was not quite “divine” after all.  Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in Hunger Games together played the game of the Rex Nemorensis in Diana’s Wood at Aricia very well as a team (a wonderful team unprecedented in history or myth).

Essentially, the lesson we should learn from “Oz: the Great and Powerful” is that all institutional (aka “Corporate” = permanent but impersonal, perpetual) government originates in and works best when founded on lies. In this political theory, lies and falsehood and illusion are sources of strength, and the secrets must be kept by those in the “inner circle” of government, even by China Dolls….(a reference to the “Dainty China Doll” in L. Frank Baum’s original book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” which did not make it into the 1939 Judy Garland “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” musical movie).

Batman: Dark Knight surely reflects the same ideology, but never states it quite so bluntly.   So Oz now joins with certain deconstructionist interpretations of the lives of Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy…. in articulation the rule by deception explanation of the origin and nature of political power.  I can only pray for the ultimate triumph of the poor man’s “Divine Kingship” model of weak government, an essentially anarchical theory of government as a model of or metaphor for nature red in tooth and claw…. wherein the King (or Queen) is normally only a symbol of nature rather than an actual wielder of power.  

In which connexion, long live Buffy Summer & Katniss Everdeen.

May the Fourth be with You (and with thy Spirit)…. May 3rd was Day of the Holy Cross (in the Old BCP anyhow); Warnings from History about the Coming Dark Age: May 3 is also Polish Constitution of 1791 Day, and the 60th Anniversary of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company Petition for Certiorari

Yes, May the Fourth is international Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with You”—but watch out for the “Revenge of the Fifth”), and yesterday, all over Western Christendom, is or at least used to be called “the Day of the Holy Cross” (this construction of the Calendar is sometimes said to be a “Gallican” custom, involving the mixture of Celtic rites of Beltane [May Day] with Christianity, in the time of Saint Gregory of Tours and other such French sources predating the time of Charlamagne*, but even as a 20th century Anglican/Episcopalian, I grew up thinking that Constantine’s Mother the Empress Helen**  went to Jerusalem and found the “true Cross” fragments on May 3, and when I started traveling to and living in Mexico I found that the Mexicans [in “Veracruz” and elsewhere] still celebrate the 3rd, notwithstanding anything Pope John XXIII did the year I was born [1960], and the Maya of Yucatán—see my birthday greetings for Pedro Un Cen on May 1—still celebrate May 3 as the day that the Chaacs (the Ancient Maya Raingods) return to the land from the East to start the beginning of the rainy season, but Last things first:

POLISH CONSTITUTION OF 1791 Day: A Warning for our Time

Most Americans have heard of American Revolutionary War hero General  Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko (at least by the shorter version of his name: Tadeusz Kosciuszko).  He came to the United States to assist in the War of Independence for no reason other than he thought it was the right thing to do.  He was a volunteer Patriot in Founding a country 1/3 of the way around the world from his homeland.  

I have the feeling that Kosciuszko lived to feel even more defeated than John W. Davis….(see my adjoining post on the 60th Anniversary of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Petition for Writ of Certiorari) possibly more like Jefferson Davis must have felt…..  

Kosciuszko lived long enough after the American Revolution to see first the French Revolution, then the final partition of his own homeland by three of the major powers OPPOSED to the French Revolution, the restoration of the core of his homeland (briefly) between 1807 and 1815, and then the final re-annexation of Poland by Russia after the Congress of Vienna in 1815—a situation which would endure for another 104 years….

After helping launch the American nation, with a career comparable and in some ways parallel to the actions of the Marquis de Lafayette in France, Kosciuszko went back to his native Poland where he tried to rebuild and save his own nation, and modernize its constitution in light of what he had learned and seen in America. I have previously, on this blog, mentioned the wonderful Polish Professor Wiktor Osiatynski under whom I was privileged to study at the University of Chicago 1990-1991 and my fascination with the Polish nation and constitutional history has never ceased since then.  Poland is a Phoenix-like nation having been consumed by fire into ashes and portioned by its neighbors Germany and Russia at least twice (and Austria once).  The metaphoric image of the mythical Phoenix arising from its flames parallels takes on added and appropriate meaning given Poland’s association with the City and University of Chicago, not least since Chicago is the largest Polish-speaking urban area anywhere outside of Poland and the City itself has at least once or twice in history arisen from the flames (after the Great Fire of 1871, but arguably again after the riots of 1968 also…).  

On May 3, Poland celebrated the 221st anniversary of the Constitution of 1791, the last Constitution before the two final (18th century) partitions of Poland 1793-1795.   The Twentieth Century Partition of Poland, between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia was in a thousand ways much worse, more brutal, more destructive, but also much shorter in duration.  The 18th Century Partitions of Poland were reversed by the Emperor Napoleon I Bonaparte in 1807 as he vainly tried to restrict and limit the power of Prussia.  The Von Ribbentrop-Molotov (aka “Stalin-Hitler”) Pact of 1941 was reversed a mere four years later, but not before Poland had not only been savaged by Nazi occupation but by the Stalinist reprisal which, in terms of meaningful reality, involved much vaster forced migrations than any that history had ever seen, and comparable only to the forced internal migrations (poorly documented though they are) which took place in Maoist China during the “Cultural Revolution”.  

Now you might ask, why should an American care about learning the details of Polish Constitutional History?  As Professor Wiktor Osiatynski made us all aware in the two courses he taught that year at the University of Chicago, Poland’s constitutional history was a major source of its downfall.  Prior to meeting and studying with Wiktor, my primary familiarity with recent modern Poland had been a vague knowledge of the partitions of the late 18th century, the fact that Napoleon I had created the Duchy of Warsaw, and that Chopin and many other 19th century artists had gained fame for the culture of Poland and quietly advocated the restoration of Polish Sovereignty and Nationality.

Of course, I had also been very generally aware from a lifetime obsession with historical cartography, I was aware that Poland had once been the largest nation in Europe—a fact, again, which probably very few Americans must know.***  Yes, the combination of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland once not merely “dominated” but in effect “was” all of Eastern Europe—controlling during most of the 15th-early 18th Centuries all of the territory from the Baltic to the Black Seas, dwarfing “barbarous” Russian during most of that time, although Russia started climbing out of an inferior position in the 16th century, though it did not achieve “world nation” status until the 18th under Peter and Catherine the Great.  

But indeed, the Constitutional History of Poland and Lithuania together is very interesting, and historically relevant for Americans, especially in this day and age.  Lithuania, so it was forced to ally more closely with Poland, uniting with its western neighbor as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Commonwealth of Two Nations) in the Union of Lublin of 1569. According to the Union many of the territories formerly controlled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were transferred to the Crown of the Polish Kingdom, while the gradual process of Polonization slowly drew Lithuania itself under Polish domination. The Grand Duchy retained many rights in the federation (including a separate government, treasury and army) until the May 3 Constitution of Poland was passed in 1791. 

I submit to you, “my fellow Americans” that we today are much like Poland—because of the abrogation of our traditional Federal Union into a centralized dictatorship, we are weak and face extinction, division, and perhaps even partition between, say, China, Mexico, and a resurgent Europe.  

* Pope Adrian I between 784 and 791 sent Charlemagne, at the King of the Franks’ personal request, a copy of what was considered to be the Sacramentary of Saint Gregory, which certainly represented the Western Roman “Early Dark Ages” use of the end of the eighth century.  This book, far from complete, was edited and supplemented by the addition of a large amount of matter derived from the Gallican books and from the Roman book known as the Gelasian Sacramentary, which had been gradually supplanting the Gallican. The editor may well have been Charlemagne’s principal liturgical advisor, the  Englishman Alcuin. Copies were distributed throughout Charlemagne’s empire, and this “composite liturgy”, as Duchesne says, “from its source in the Imperial chapel spread throughout all the churches of the Frankish Empire and at length, finding its way to Rome gradually supplanted there the ancient use”. More than half a century later, when Charles the Bald wished to see what the ancient Gallican Rite had been like, it was necessary to import Hispanic priests to celebrate it in his presence, because the Gallican rite took root firmly in Toledo, Viscaya, Aragon, Catalunia, and elsewhere in the land of the Christian Visigoths of Hispania before the arrival of the Moors (and survived there ever after, even during the Caliphate of Cordoba—which resilience explains why May 3 remains the Day of the Holy Cross everywhere in Latin America).

The Luxeuil Lectionary, the Gothicum and Gallicum Missals, and the Gallican adaptations of the Hieronymian Martyrology are the chief authorities on this point, and to these may be added some information to be gathered from the regulations of the Councils of Agde (506), Orléans (541),Tours (567), and Mâcon (581), and from the “Historia Francorum” of St. Gregory of Tours, as to the Gallican practice in the sixth century.

** Constantine’s Mother the Empress Helen did a lot of traveling and established a lot of Churches.  Named after Helen of Troy, Empress Helen kept the name alive and popular among the Christians, and it was the Empress Helen, I am told, after whom were named both my Louisiana-born grandmother who raised me with love and my Greek-born wife who razed me with something else.

***For my lifelong obsession with maps, I have mostly my mother to blame, because she bought me so many Atlases–Shepard’s Historical Atlas, Oxford Historical Atlas, just for starters–when I was very small and for some reason decorated my boyhood room with a collection historical individually framed maps of almost every county in England, Wales, & Scotland—this led to my grandparents, somewhat later, always putting me in charge of studying the maps when we traveled and making reports on local geography as we did—Baedeker was almost like a family friend, and sometimes AAA and National Geographic.