EXTREMA RATIO DELLA RIVOLUZIONE DI RENZI: UN 25 APRILE PORTOGHESE CONTRO IL VECCHIO

Il 25 Aprile giusto -cioè non ideologico/settario, non vestito di paramenti gappisti, non comico in quanto fatto di Bella Ciao intonate da cleptocrati e portaborse- lo festeggiò il Portogallo: lo meriteremmo anche noi. Il 25 aprile 1974 gli ufficiali giustizialisti presero il potere a Lisbona e nel paese intero. Senza bagni di sangue, però grazie alla salutare minaccia di usare le armi. Non avessero rotto la legalità, governerebbero ancora i pronipoti di Carmona, Salazar e Caetano. Il governo del paese, per un po’ anche delle grosse colonie africane, passò alla giunta di generali portata sugli scudi dal ‘Movimento dei capitani’, cioè dai quadri giovani delle forze armate che avevano voluto la Rivoluzione dei garofani.

Una volta tanto le sinistre di tutto il mondo ebbero ragione a inneggiare: i militari non erano -e non sono- obbligatori arnesi della reazione legittimista. In Portogallo furono l’esatto contrario. Sostenuti anche dai comunisti di Cunhal, imposero con le spicce nazionalizzazioni e contenute misure socializzanti.

Ma quella del 1974 non fu una novità. Molte delle rivolte che per un secolo movimentarono il regno lusitano, a partire dalla restaurazione dei Braganza detronizzati da Napoleone, poi dalla loro trasformazione in monarchi costituzionali, furono opera degli ufficiali ‘liberali’ (così si chiamavano allora nella penisola iberica i progressisti, generalmente laici e perfino massoni). La Repubblica non sarebbe nata a Lisbona (1910) senza l’iniziativa militare. Nel 1926 gli ufficiali parteciparono all’avvento della Dittatura, intesa come bonificatrice, degenerata sei anni dopo nel regime autoritario-clericale di Salazar (il quale peraltro, autorevole accademico, aveva salvato l’economia). In Spagna l’intero Ottocento e il primo trentennio del Novecento videro il ruolo decisivo degli ufficiali progressisti -l’ultimo e il più efficiente dei quali fu il generale-dittatore filosocialista Miguel Primo de Rivera. Anche nella Guerra civile agirono gli ufficiali di sinistra, soprattutto nel campo repubblicano ma qualcuno in quello opposto.

Non occorre aggiungere altro a quanto sappiamo sul giustizialismo/progressismo della maggior parte dei militari in politica nel Terzo Mondo, da Ataturk a Peron a Sukarno a Nasser agli altri. Oggi buona parte del pianeta sarebbe molto più arretrato se i militari (in quanto detentori delle armi ma anche, più spesso che no, in quanto portatori di istanze di modernità e giustizia sociale) non avessero soppiantato le caste feudali/tribali e i collaborazionisti dei dominatori coloniali.

Tutto ciò, per dire cosa? Questo: Portogallo Spagna Turchia Terzo Mondo insegnano che, oltre ai militari reazionari, o semplicemente servizievoli verso il potere come sono stati i nostri, esistono e hanno agito i militari di segno opposto, quasi sempre in ruoli positivi raffrontati al vecchio dei notabili tradizionali. E per dire che un ruolo decisivo potranno svolgere nell’Italia posseduta dalla casta cleptocratica, ove le grandi riforme di Renzi falliranno e se l’eventuale ripresa non creerà abbastanza occupazione. A quel punto risulterà conclamata l’impossibilità di riformare dall’interno e legalmente un assetto pessimo come il nostro. La legalità repubblicana difende un esistente sinistro. Lungi dall’essere un capolavoro di diritto e di socialità, la Carta dei Padrigni costituenti è una gabbia di ferro a protezione di privilegi, ingiustizie e ruberie (il furto è la struttura portante del regime che attende il maglio demolitore). La Costituzione del 1948 va sventrata.

Matteo Renzi, oltre ad azzerare i bilanci militari orientati alla guerra, cioè all’atlantismo imposto dagli Stati Uniti, dovrebbe riconsiderare fuori dell’ideologia tradizionale il ruolo civico di quel settore del mondo militare che chiamiamo giustizialista. Perché non dovremmo avere un nostro 25 Aprile dei capitani e di qualche generale monostella non-conformista? Potrebbe annientare il sabotaggio delle riforme.

Ci pensi il Premier, visto che sulla distanza potrà risultare sconfitto dalla coalizione di tutti i conservatori sinistra/destra. Scandagli il mondo dei militari. Individui i nuclei meno solidali coll’esistente. Si faccia amici un pugno di ufficiali di fegato, all’occorrenza disposti a cancellare la Casta invece che ubbidirle. Il Vecchio Ordine non merita di farcela una volta di più.

A.M.C.

LA SPAGNA APPROVO’ NEGLI ANNI VENTI L’ANTIPOLITICA DI MIGUEL PRIMO DE RIVERA

In una fase italiana segnata da due opposte posizioni, la denuncia di una deriva verso l’autoritarismo e il tedio della democrazia partitico-parlamentare, consideriamo utile far conoscere i giudizi di un importante storico britannico, Raymond Carr cattedratico a Oxford, su quello che fu negli Anni Venti l’esperimento in Spagna di un regime autoritario, non fascista e amico del popolo, agli inizi favorito dalla monarchia e dalle destre, sei anni dopo fatto cadere da queste ultime e da un sovrano, Alfonso XIII, che tentava di salvare la corona.

Fu la ‘Dictadura’ del generale Miguel Primo de Rivera, che il 12 settembre 1923 prese il potere con un colpo di stato militare attuato da Barcellona, dove comandava le truppe della Catalogna. Il Putsch fu fulmineo, incruento e accolto con netto sollievo da un paese che si sentiva sull’orlo del baratro. Il sistema politico della Spagna era allo stremo: una guerra disastrosa in Marocco, un conflitto sociale straordinariamente grave, frequenti conati insurrezionali soprattutto del movimento anarchico, il più agguerrito del mondo data la miseria delle masse, specialmente quelle contadine. Nel quinquennio che precedette il 1923 si erano contati poco meno di 1300 attentati. L’anno prima, 429 scioperi politici o quasi politici. Un conflitto sindacale nel maggio-giugno aveva fatto 22 morti.

Il colpo di stato venne realizzato con tale efficienza che non ci furono resistenze e non si sparse sangue. Le istituzioni parlamentari crollarono: la Costituzione del 1876 cestinata, gli oligarchi e i notabili della classe politica sostituiti da amministratori militari (successivamente sorsero tecnocrati e intendenti civili, alcuni dei quali molto provetti). Il Paese espresse un consenso per alcuni anni larghissimo. Il regime si chiuse nel gennaio 1930 con le spontanee dimissioni del Dictador. Morì pochi mesi dopo a Parigi.

La traduzione spagnola della IX edizione del classico di Raymond Carr (Spain 1808-1975) -di cui riportiamo per brevi estratti la parte riguardante Primo de Rivera- addita le contraddizioni, le ingenuità, gli errori, gli insuccessi, le circostanze generali (tra le quali gli inizi della Grande Depressione mondiale) che condannarono la gestione del Dictador. Al tempo stesso l’opera di Carr registra le opere compiute in oltre sei anni. Le più importanti delle quali furono l’apertura della modernizzazione (qui il Vecchio Ordine e l’Ottocento finirono nel 1923) e la creazione del primo Welfare. Se oggi la Spagna ha un’economia efficiente lo deve in primis alle iniziative del Dictador. E se è socialmente avanzata, l’avvio fu dato dal fermo impulso del generale alle prime conquiste moderne dei lavoratori. Primo de Rivera era marchese e Grande di Spagna ma parteggiava per il popolo.

Furono gli agrari aristocratici, i finanzieri , gli altri capitalisti, non le sinistre, che sconfissero Primo de Rivera: perchè li aveva combattuti. Non per niente il Dittatore si era fatto consigliare e affiancare dal capo dei sindacati, Francisco Largo Caballero, un avversario delle destre talmente combattivo che qualche anno dopo sarebbe stato chiamato ‘il Lenin spagnolo’. Nel 1937, in piena Guerra Civile, Largo Caballero divenne capo del governo repubblicano che lottava contro Franco.

L’unica forza politica e sociale riconosciuta e appoggiata dal Dittatore fu il Partito socialista saldato alla UGT, la centrale dei sindacati. Tutto ciò risulta dalle analisi del maggiore storico accademico britannico della Spagna.

A.M.C.

 

RAYMOND CARR, STORICO DI OXFORD, SULLA “DICTADURA FILOSOCIALISTA”

El pensamiento politico de Primo de Rivera era primitivo, personal y ingenuo. La medula (sostanza) de su personalidad politica estaba hecha (fatta) de un odio obsesivo a la politica y a los politicos. Una ‘casta politica’, a través de la farsa de las elecciones, habìa aislado

(isolato) al gobierno del pueblo; el, en cambio, podìa entrar en un contacto mas directo y personal con el pueblo, devolviendo (restituendo) al gobierno su espiritu democratico.

Su preocupacion paternalista por la nacion bordeaba (rasentava) la excentricidad. El primer superàvit del presupuesto (avanzo di bilancio) se dedicò a redimir las sàbanas (tovaglie) empegnadas por los pobres de Madrid. Esta diversidad de intereses, que incluìa el entusiasmo por los derechos de la mujer, le proporcionò (guadagnò) al principio el carigno (affezione) del publico. El odio hacia (verso) los politicos se racionalizò convirtiéndose en una teoria politica antiparlamentaria que decìa ser (essere) mas autenticamente democratica que el liberalismo parlamentario.

La dictadura de Primo de Rivera no era fascista. Su teoria de la soberanìa como amalgama de las entidades sociales autonomas se emparentaba mas con la escolàstica aristotelica que con el totalitarismo. Joaquin Costa, el regenerador radical, fue el Bautista que precediò al dictador, profetizando la venida de un “cirujano de hierro” (chirurgo di ferro). En Ortega y Gasset el general tenìa un intelectual que habia argumentado en favor de una minoria selecta y que rechazaba (rifiutava) “el falso supuesto de una igualdad real entre los hombres”. Ortega era un liberal desencantado y en Espagna sus famosos ataques a la vieja politica se convirtieron (divennero) en textos sagrados, siempre en boca de los partidarios (seguaci) de Primo de Rivera.

El decia preocuparse por el bienestar material de los obreros y por las pretensiones (rivendicazioni) laborales. Proporcionò (elargì) casas baratas (economiche), un servicio medico y, sobre todo, una maquinaria (meccanismo) de arbitraje (arbitrato) laboral que los dirigentes socialistas aceptaron y dominaron. La relacion del régimen con los sindicatos se formalizò en el Codigo del trabajo de Aunòs (1926). Su principal caracteristica la constituìan los comités paritarios, con represesentacion igual de patronos y obreros, comités a los que se asignò la solucion de las disputas salariales. Este aparato no fue una importacion fascista, pues (dato che) en Espagna tenìa una larga historia.

En su calidad de miembros del comité, los delegados de la UGT (centrale sindacale) se convirtieron en burocratas pagados por el Estado. Los dirigentes de la UGT consideraban que la cooperacion con la dictadura les darìa la posibilidad de aumentar el poder de la unica organizacion obrera efectiva. Parece que en 1924 Largo Caballero (il capo della UGT) examinò la posibilidad de unificar la UGT y el partido socialista en un partido laborista reformista dentro del régimen. Los dirigentes de la UGT no podian compartir (condividere) el horror de los politicos ante el repudio del sistema parlamentario caro a los politicos burgueses.

 

La autentica democracia se reconoce hoy (oggi) por la distribucion de la imposicion publica, no por una constitucion politica formal. El gobierno, pese a todo (però), no se atreviò (azzardò) a unir a las masas contra las clases posesoras; cediò ante una enconada (accanita) campagna de prensa dirigida por la aristocracia bancaria.

Las obras publicas de Primo de Rivera, sus carreteras (strade) y embalses (dighe) se consideran a veces como un caso de keynesianismo prematuro. La economia cayò en manos de comités que regulaban todo. La intervencion y el control eran criticados por los grupos que los padecìan (subivano). A pesar de los defectos de su politica, los tecnocratas del dictador llevaron a cabo (portarono avanti) un notabilisimo intento de modernizacion, que suele estimarse en menos de lo que vale; el incremento en la construccion de carreteras y en la electrificacion rural fue algo espectacular; el hierro (ferro) y el acero se desarrollaron; el comercio exterior aumentò en un 300%; los ferrocarriles (ferrovie) fueron modernizados. Las Confederaciones Hidrograficas agrupaban los intereses diversos en el intento de racionalizar la explotacion de los grandes sistemas fluviales del Duero y del Ebro. Entre 1906 el Estado gastò (spese) 162 milliones de pesetas para el riego (trasformazione irrigua) de 16.000 hectàreas; entre 1926 y 1931 se gastaron 160 milliones en planes de irrigacion de 175.000 hectàreas.

La dictadura tenìa un aire de expansion y de prosperidad que mirado retrospectivamente ha cobrado (assunto) todo el aspecto de una edad de oro. La modernizacion y la prosperidad no fueron del todo ‘falsas’, como afirmaba la oposicion, ni fueron tampoco simple reflejo de la expansion internacional. Ese régimen puede ser criticado por no haber sabido (saputo) como llevar a la practica (attuare) la reforma agraria, aunque (benché) los proyectos agrarios de Primo de Rivera eran mas ambiciosos que todas las realizaciones previas.

Mientras perdurò la expansion, la dictadura se beneficiò politicamente. Sin embargo (tuttavia) no fue el colapso de la prosperidad lo que en 1929 produjo la caida del régimen: el fracaso fundamental fue politico. El règimen no podìa hacerse (farsi) aceptable para las fuerzas que pesaban en la sociedad espagnola. Primo de Rivera infravalorò (sottovalutò) hasta (fino) el fin las fuerzas que estaban en contra. Puso su fe (aveva fede) en la masa. “El mayor, tal vez el unico sosten de mi gobierno lo constituyen mujeres y trabajadores.” Pero en 1929 ‘los intereses’ (gruppi d’interesse), el Ejercito y la Corona miraban hacìa (verso) otra parte.

Fue esta desaparicion (sparizione) del apoyo a su derecha lo que condenò el régimen. Las clases conservadoras optaron por considerarse amenazadas por un Estado corporativo gobernado en el interes de los trabajadores. La Iglesia desconfiaba (diffidava) del regalismo benigno de Primo de Rivera; los banqueros, de su interferencia en la autonomia de los grandes bancos; los industriales no favorecidos, de su intervencionismo. La corte e la aristocracia detestaban al dictador.

(estratti da Raymond Carr)

THE GREAT HOAX

“You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.”  Abraham Lincoln

A young professional athlete just got his first contract: 144 million dollars for 6 years! I did some calculating. That’s 24 million dollars a year, or 65,000 dollars a day, every day, for 2,109 days. A high school teacher, on the other hand, if well-paid, might make 65,000 per year. In a little over one month this athlete will have earned more than the teacher would have earned in 35 years of teaching. His salary would support 2215 teachers! Our society has gone mad.

This is the great hoax and it is we ourselves who perpetuate it. Nothing could be more absurd to any rational human being than the paying out of such exorbitant sums…to an athlete of all people, whose value to a society at any time in history, realistically speaking,  is only a little more than that of a fevered gambler.

It is one of the ironies of history that those who contribute the least to society earn the most. And those who contribute the most—nurses, teachers, care-givers, foster parents, writers, artists, poets—these all too often have to scrape up odds and ends of a living even though they are our society’s engine, and the source of all that is good.

Ask yourselves this: Your loved one is in the hospital gravely ill. Do you call up a rich athlete for help? The question answers itself. You rely on nurses and other care-givers; into their hands you entrust your loved ones. This single test tells us whose value is greater. Yet who makes more money? Who is more esteemed? And for what? What do athletes contribute to the advancement and welfare of society? Absolutely NOTHING.  They play games—sometimes painful games, but games all the same. And that’s it. That’s their total contribution. Nothing shows more clearly than this just how wrong-headed are the values of our society.

It’s all a big hoax. We have been brainwashed by those who benefit from sports—the owners first and foremost, then the athletes, the advertisers, the media, etc.—into thinking that sports are important, that athletes are special.

More repugnantly, education at the high school and collegiate levels is all too often twisted and defiled just to accommodate an athlete. Recently on the Internet there was a piece about the University of North Carolina, a top university, which had created non-existent classes just for its athletes to take and to receive an “A” from. An entire university twisted and bent into lying and deception solely on behalf of its athletes! Our society’s most important institution abused for the sake of sports. Plagiarism is a capital offence at universities—but lying and cheating on behalf of athletes is OK! Nothing shows more clearly, more emphatically, how off the mark our modern society is. Sports—to coin a phrase—are  just sports, nothing more.

The big hoax is that we’ve been brainwashed into thinking otherwise.

Len Sive Jr

OBAMA GUERRAFONDAIO ALLA POINCARE’?

Cento anni fa di questi giorni Raymond Poincaré, presidente della Francia e inconsueto egemone della sua politica estera/militare, faceva il molto che poteva perché scoppiasse una Grande Guerra da 10 milioni di morti. Era odiosamente bravo: un solo anno da uno dei tanti presidenti del consiglio e nel 1913 entrava all’Eliseo come il più illustre dei francesi. Nel dopoguerra fu a capo di cinque governi, e tra l’altro salvò il franco. Aiutato persino dal fatto d’essere cugino del massimo matematico di Francia, Poincaré realizzò l’ambizione della sua vita: la Revanche sulla Germania che nel 1870 aveva umiliato il più potente esercito d’Europa e strappato l’Alsazia e mezza Lorena. Nessuno fu più efficace del Grande Revanscista nell’istigare Sergej Sazonov, padrone della volontà dello Zar, al mostruoso conflitto che avrebbe distrutto l’impero dei Romanov, generato la Rivoluzione e ucciso l’imperatore con tutta la sua famiglia. Ma Poincaré non seppe prevedere che un ventennio dopo Versailles il Terzo Reich avrebbe annientato per sempre la grandezza della Francia.

Se il Nostro fu individualmente il più guerrafondaio tra gli statisti del 1914, è ovvio che i responsabili della più criminale mattanza della storia composero un grosso plotone cui meno di un anno dopo si sarebbero uniti i nostri geniali Salandra, Sonnino, il Re Soldato e l’Insuperabile -sul serio- tra i nostri poeti.

Ciò premesso, che gioco sta facendo l’uomo che dalla Casa Bianca ha cercato di camuffare il fallimento nell’Afghanistan scagliando droni assassini sui pakistani? Magari, ricordando d’avere ricevuto, Dio sa perché, un premio Nobel per la pace, Obama non fa sul serio con le sue minacce (la Russia che ha schernito come “potenza regionale” saprebbe usare i propri missili micidialmente). Tuttavia è oggettivo: l’Uomo dei droni si comporta da nemico dei disoccupati e di tutti i poveri quando rampogna quei governi europei che meditano -un quarto di secolo dopo la caduta del Muro- di ridurre le spese militari. L’Obama che proclama “l’Europa è unita agli USA” impone una leadership che i diplomatici con la feluca hanno scritto nei loro trattati chiffons de papier, ma che i popoli sempre più detestano. Gli italiani gli spagnoli i francesi i greci non hanno più né motivo né vero obbligo di restare coatti nella Nato.

I trattati si possono, in certe circostanze si devono, stracciare. Così pure le commesse militari: per punirci d’averlo ipoteticamente fatto il Pentagono dovrebbe mettere in campo gruppi di armate, flotte navali e aeree, logistiche talmente smisurate da non potersele permettere. Come guerrieri gli americani hanno dimostrato d’essere tra i meno efficienti. In un pezzo recente (“Molti nemici ci minacciano ma Giorgio è War President come G W Bush”) abbiamo ricordato che per espugnare l’isola nipponica di Kiushu gli Stati Uniti impiegarono una settantina tra portaerei e navi da battaglia, più il decuplo di altre unità, più il centuplo di aerei. L’avere sganciato sull’Indocina più bombe che nell’ultimo conflitto mondiale non salvò gli USA dalla sconfitta più ignominiosa.

Nessuno crede che Obama cerchi veramente di chiamare alle armi l’Europa contro Putin, tanto folle sarebbe. Però le pressioni che Foggy Bottom (il Dipartimento di Stato) esercita su

quasi tutti i governi del pianeta perché si dissanguino comprando materiale bellico soprattutto made in USA sono intollerabili. L’Italia con altri satelliti dovrebbe rifiutarsi, uscire dall’Alleanza Atlantica. L’Obama che contro i tagli sui bilanci militari proclama “la libertà non ha prezzo” dice una menzogna pari a quelle di Goebbels e del primo ministro gen. Hideki Tojo, che gli americani impiccarono. Tra l’altro, quando Washington era onnipotente, le armi le dava gratis ai satelliti. Oggi esige che, in tempi di recessione e di spending review, gli acquisti dei satelliti sostengano il Pil del paese più militarista della storia.

Dall’ex-stalinista arroccato nel Quirinale, come in passato dai Prodi e dai D’Alema, il padrone americano ottiene ancora obbedienza e ordinativi: questo un giorno contribuirà alla débacle degli ex-stalinisti, e pure di Matteo Renzi se non dirà no a Obama. E’ incerto che all’Uomo dei droni vada altrettanto bene con governi amici meno condizionati del nostro dall’inclinazione a servire indistintamente tutti.

A.M.Calderazzi

THE EXXON/MOBIL FRACKING HYPOCRISY

“This type of dysfunctional regulation [of fracking] is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness.”  Rex Tillerson, CEO, Exxon/Mobil, 2012

“I don’t care about what’s good for America. I care only about what’s good for Exxon/Mobil.”  Rex Tillerson, CEO, Exxon/Mobil

“Do as I say and not as I do.” (The hypocrite’s word of wisdom.)

“Poetic justice: An outcome in which vice is punished and virtue rewarded usually in a manner peculiarly or ironically appropriate.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Rex Tillerson has recently joined an anti-fracking law-suit which seeks to stop fracking near his Texas home on the grounds it lowers property values. Many see (long overdue) poetic justice in his joining a lawsuit to stop fracking near his house.

What is so interesting here is that he has been denying this affect on property values up to now in order to go fracking in anyone’s backyard whenever he desires to. His anger at regulating fracking when it involves your house or mine is reflected in the above quotation of Tillerson’s of 2012. As is so typical of corporations (ie, of their CEOs), they never tell the truth—certainly not the whole truth. He knew fracking was bad for property values, but that was never publically acknowledged  in order for Exxon to go fracking wherever it pleased.  Truth and Corporations never were on good terms. But now that fracking is scheduled to start near his house—well, that’s a horse of a different color. The hypocrisy here is incredible. But what is even more so is the rueful fact that no one is calling him on it. In vain do we search for an intrepid reporter to lock horns with him on this.

And no one is connecting the dots here, either. This is how corporations operate; it’s their modus operandi, their method of operation. In vain will you search the operations of your typical big corporation and see transparency, honesty, ethical behavior, and concern for the public and its welfare. Tillerson’s comment that he doesn’t care about America is crucial here to understand the mindset of a (especially large) corporation. It’s not just rhetoric for Tillerson. He’s deadly serious about that. And Americans praise corporate CEOs like Tillerson? Corporations are like a kingdom within a kingdom—with this qualification: they are often stronger than the country they reside in. FDR found out that many Fortune 500 companies were helping the Nazis DURING the war, but was powerless to stop them. THAT’S why large corporations are so dangerous: they are a law unto themselves. Tillerson’s credo: “I don’t care about America, only about Exxon.” Let Americans remember that the next time we hear the media—or Republicans—praising corporations and how important they are to our country.

 Len Sive Jr.

REFLECTIONS ON A WORLD GONE MAD (Issue no. 1)

1. Now that Obama has hit Russia with sanctions, we can see how “free enterprise” works in Russia’s  so-called democracy: If you are fortunate to be a friend of Putin’s, then you will find yourself owning, or the CEO, of one of Russia’s financial/banking sectors or of one of its  industrial, mining, or gas/oil  sectors. Putin’s multi-billionaire friends are everywhere to be found, his enemies, impoverished, cowed and/or jailed by Putin,  are nowhere to be found—at least not owning or heading any important parts of Russia’s economy, or wielding any significant political opposition to Putin himself. In Russia, Putin is all in all. He reigns over a comradeship of thieves, stealing the wealth of Russia and concentrating it in his own hands as well as those of his closest friends and allies.

This authoritarian government, run by and for Putin and his friends as if they themselves held land-title to all of Russia, was run the same way under Communism. Then, communist leaders and their friends, and other important officials, all became exceedingly rich, while the average (proletarian) Russian suffered the indignities of a cruel, unpredictable dictatorship heaped upon bone-chilling poverty and inadequate health care. These Communist leaders of the Proletariat were regal in all but name—just as now under (Czar) Putin.  Forget free enterprise, forget democracy, forget human rights. Putin, like Stalin, has in his political vocabulary only three (five-letter) words, whether in affairs at home or abroad: might, power, and force. That’s his escutcheon, which is also a summation of his personality. He’s an insecure, egocentric psychopath, hence he brooks no opposition, no contrary views. Ice-water runs in his veins. He’s a little man with a big swagger, rough talking and rough acting. He believes in, exalts, and worships violence. Reason, debate, inquiry are for him dead letters. Faith as the true guide to practical living he utterly rejects. Such is the present leader of Russia, a great country but ever in tears of sorrow and anguish, from Peter the Great up to the present day. For in Russia, there exists no clock: the past is the present, and the present is the past, and both are prologue to the future.

2. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, a six-grader saved a fellow student from serious injury when she saw him cutting his wrist with a razor and rushed over to him, grabbing the razor and throwing it away. For her swift, meritorious conduct—for the love of her fellow human being—what reward did she get?—suspension from school, and possible termination!

But the one person who clearly needs to be terminated is not our young heroine but the principalherself, for such an egregious decision of the first order. Since when do we punish noble acts? Where are our values? our commonsense? our fellow-feeling?  our kindness? Are we become so vicious, so right-wing a nation, so dumb of heart and mind that this little girl’s courageous, noble, and Christian act brings only official reprisals, and condemnation heaped upon her head? O America, America, for thee I do weep.

Len Sive Jr.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: THE PARTY OF WOOLY MAMMOTHS AND NEANDERTHALS

“At every crossway on the road that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past.” (Maeterlinck)

      “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” (Voltaire)

It is absolutely stunning that in the 21st century we have people who hold great power, many of whom also aspire to the highest office in the land, who are themselves intellectual, spiritual and moral throwbacks to the Wooly Mammoths and Neanderthals. To use another image, they are “flat-earthers;” and no amount of science is able to get them to see the earth as a “sphere rushing through space around the sun.” For them the earth is flat, the sun travels around the earth, and the earth is 5000 years old—and nothing, least of all science, can change a “flat-earther’s” mind!

Armed with an amendment sponsored by Republican Rep. Max Teeters, the Wyoming Republican Governor Matt Mead has just signed into law  a bill that prohibits state funding for the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS)—an attempt by states to have uniform science standards nation-wide—because it accepts as facts both human-induced global warming and evolution. Does one weep—or laugh hysterically? Or perhaps both: first laughter at such insanity, then tears over such implacable, ideological ignorance as not even a lunatic would rejoice in. It is shameful beyond all reckoning, and shows just how ignorant and benighted are Republicans who hold political office.

Opposition to human-induced climate change has come from ( inter alia) the coal, auto, and oil industries, which have given hundreds of millions of dollars to fight controls on greenhouse gas emissions by secretly funneling money (for example) through (Republican) Think Tanks and other conservative organizations so as to give, deceptively, the appearance of intellectual inquiry, rigor, and debate on this issue. But it is all an elaborate charade. Yet again we witness how the wealthy and corporations diabolically influence public opinion in order to further their single-minded goal of unlimited profit and power—and the public weal, indeed the entire globe—be damned.

The NRA wrote and lobbied for and pushed through, thanks to overwhelming support by Republicans, a bill allowing guns on college campuses in Colorado. Never mind that unanimous opposition exists among police chiefs, professors, college presidents, and others directly affected by this bill. The NRA made sure that the bill, in the House, would pass over any and all objections. That’s what deep-pockets buy—unhindered influence. And that why lobbying as a source of influence, and the NRA, which uses lobbying to push it narrow objectives while ignoring the larger issue of public safety, are together America’s Public Enemy No. One.

The Right-wing speaks of “big government” and how it is taking over control of our lives. But the truth is, it’s big corporations, and organizations like the NRA, The (Right-wing) Enterprise Institute, and other ideological, conservative groups, that increasingly threaten the safety, health, and welfare of both our individual and communal lives—whose sole purpose is to increase corporate wealth and power.

Corporations far outstrip the government in reach and power, and thus are the real threat to our constitutional way of life—indeed, the danger of big government, by comparison, pales into insignificance. When year after year, now, the weather has become more bizarre and fantastically dangerous, not just in the US, either, but around the globe; and every credible scientific community unanimously cites human-caused greenhouse gases as the culprit—the super-rich and corporations still refuse to acknowledge the evidence because it would mean added costs on their part to lower such human-caused greenhouse gases. Forget what’s good for America or for the world; money is all their god—which is exactly why they are so dangerous.

If America is to move forward—and not backward; if it is to enter the 20th century (let alone the 21st) and provide affordable, and multiple, mass transportation systems for the whole nation (as ALL other industrialized nations have); if it is to stop human-caused greenhouse gases, and instead develop safe, renewable and sustainable sources of energy (and to hell with the auto/oil/gas/coal industries self-interested opposition); if  we are to have sane gun laws that make our nation safer rather than more dangerous (and to hell with the devilish NRA); if we are to focus once again on family, church, local (well-paying) jobs, education, and a rich and varied local communal life where small is decidedly better (and to hell with globalization, and bigness, and “made in China”—if we are to do these commonsensical things, then our great nation may once again thrive; but if we do not, it will surely die—slowly, painfully, and tragically.

Len Sive Jr.

ECONOMICS TRUMPS POLITICS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Great Britain and Germany both refuse to isolate Russia or to boycott her exports: Germany needs her gas and oil, and German companies have invested 22 billion in Russia; and England wants her cash for its financial markets. Putin sees this economic opening and, utilizing it, is now pushing for a referendum in Crimea in 10 days’ time with which to cement his grip on power there and, with Russian troops still in Crimea, to continue pressuring the Ukrainians to abandon their drive for closer ties with the EU and US. Despite Kerry’s refusal to believe it, this is indeed a zero-sum game.

Interestingly, perhaps now the NSA’s interception of the German Chancellor’s phone calls, and the monitoring of Russia’s, wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Certainly Snowden’s aiding Russia by disclosing the reach of the NSA has made the world, as we have seen in the Crimea, a much less safer place now than before. And Snowden’s new friends (Russia and China) have revealed themselves to be far less concerned about human rights than the country which he forsook, indeed, to be eminently authoritarian and militaristic, with no respect for human rights. (China seized Tibet and committed, and still commits, grave human rights violations there; and both China and Russia freely commit abuses daily against ethnic minorities and political opponents.) The only country able to stand up to them, the US, Snowden has irrevocably weakened, making the world after his disclosures a much more dangerous place indeed. Edward’s vainglory and hubris blinded him as to who the real enemies are. Does he really believe that the US is a greater threat to world peace than either China or Russia? Edward forgot something very elementary about life: without prudence, one finds “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Again we see in world history how economics trumps politics: what ought to be done by the EU isn’t being done; and as a result Putin knows there is a breach in the wall of diplomatic sanctions for him to escape through. What might have forced him to withdraw due to the unyielding unanimity of the EU, he can now more safely afford to ignore given the disunity within EU’s ranks, and hence the lower level of sanctions threatened. The West has lost this crucial battle with a dictator who is no respecter of nations or of laws; and that will only embolden him further, and give sustenance to China’s hegemonic desires as well.

The world thinks in enlightenment terms; that is, that man’s sinfulness is an outmoded concept, a leftover of a bygone theological era; that one need only tie countries closer together economically, and eternal peace and prosperity must and will be the inevitable result. No: a leopard can wear a Brooks Brothers suit, but underneath, like it or not, it remains a leopard still. Russia has (and has always had) an authoritarian leader.  To appease such usually ushers in greater trouble later. Putin wants the power of the former Soviet Union redivivus. Great Britain and Germany have unwittingly aided him in his power quest, and in the process sacrificed the territorial integrity of The Ukraine—and shown Putin all too clearly that, so far at least, he has nothing to fear from the EU, which up till now has shown itself to be a weak and vacillatory body with no stomach for confrontation when and where it counts.

 Len Sive Jr.

THE INFERNO: ABANDON ALL HOPE ALL YE WHO SUPPORT THE NRA

The NRA (The National Rifle Association), after close council with Mephistophiles, and after rejecting out of hand Gabriel’s prudential warnings on behalf of the Lord, has lobbied the House to pass legislation allowing guns on college campuses. A more sinister, godless, diabolical bill could hardly be imagined. To allow 18 year olds the right to carry weapons, let alone on college campuses, is beyond all sane imaginings and is further proof, if ever one needed it, that the NRA is the devil’s own progeny and seeks to work his will of injury, terror, suffering, chaos, sorrow, and death whenever and wherever possible.

The NRA has long been the handmaid of the devil; it’s just that conservative Christians think about the devil only in ways suited to extend their narrow theological/political agenda; and liberal Christians don’t much believe in ontological evil. But evil surely exists. The NRA is proof, had we needed any.

The NRA—and its devilish supporters, including weapons manufacturers (like Remington Arms)—wants you to think of these issues of carrying weapons in political terms that obscure the larger religious dimension involved. What else would we expect from the Father of Lies? Under pretence of the 2nd Amendment, Satan hisses out his defense of weapons, which only cause 50,000 deaths a year (!); and when the NRA sees England’s negligible number of deaths each year due to strict gun control laws, the devil bristles and spews out irrelevant, sinister arguments. (Why is it that there is no general outrage over the huge number of gun-related deaths—in ten years 500,000 deaths! That’s the carnage of 10 Vietnam wars! But where is the outrage? Where?)

It is Dante’s Inferno, however, which brings home the fruit of the NRA’s satanic actions. For who in their right mind would give a weapon to an adolescent who may, and probably will at some point, abuse drugs and/or alcohol? Truly only Satan himself could conceive of something so diabolical, so sure to cost precious young lives on the threshold of adulthood. The Inferno would surely be the appropriate punishment for sowing so great a societal evil. Violence is not the path to the Kingdom of God. Christians are adjured to turn swords into ploughshares as the one true path to God. Weapons disbursed societally among our young, immature, often reckless youth is indeed Satan’s own plan to increase sorrow and the pain of shattered lives and families.

Profit über Alles again proves the surest path to Hell.

Len Sive Jr.

RUSSIA: SAME COUNTRY, CZARIST, COMMUNIST, OR “DEMOCRACY”

If  there had been any doubt—and I for one had never bought the idea that the Cold War was over—that doubt has been brutally confirmed. A tiger does not give up its stripes just on its (cunning) say so. Russia has never in its history been different from what it is today (save for that brief period in the early ‘90’s when Communism lay in tatters) :  a cold, anti-democratic, anti-free speech, anti-human rights dictatorship. (Putin’s symbolic democracy is just that. There is only one authority allowed in Russia, and that’s Putin’s iron fist.)

What to do now? Russia should be kicked out of its place with the EU and US. Trade agreements should be nullified. But more than that The West has few non-military options, and sending in troops is not an option.

Russia’s main source of income is its natural gas pipeline to Europe. Here again we see how the oil industry fuels wars.  They have bought off so many politicians that trying to develop non-oil/gas alternatives has largely failed, which failure has then led us into war after war in the Middle East, and renders any economic sanctions against Russia unimportant.

China is in the same position as Russia is. Thanks to Corporate Capitalism China has reached a position where it will assert its dominance in the region more and more. When business people make foreign policy rather than experts, so that profit and not prudence rules the agenda, then we see what happens, now in the Ukraine, or the Middle East, or in Asia.

The world experiences this over and over again. Journalists like Anthony Summers have exposed how capitalists like JP Morgan and Rockefeller put Lenin in power; and Henry Ford built for Stalin his first automated (car) factory.  (McCarthy and his thugs graciously ignored these and other facts of Communist/capitalist collusion when they began their anti-Communist witch hunts. As always, the rich and powerful, who create these international crises, escape intact.)

We saw the same Corporate collusion with the Nazis, both in the years leading up to WWII, and infamously even during it (Roosevelt was incensed, but even his hands were tied due to their wealth and power), and ignobly after the war. The grandfather of President Bush was a party to all this as well, in cooperation with the OSS, the fore-runner of the CIA, which absorbed thousands of SS Nazis.

When you have the rich rule, whose interests do we believe they will serve?—the poor? the sick? the elderly? the powerless?

When the rich, vested interests rule, misrule, corruption, and war are the inevitable results.

Len Sive Jr.

SICK UNTO DEATH: REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS

Yet another Republican presidential hopeful, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, has a staff (we are asked to believe) that without his knowledge or consent was engaged in criminal political activity, including his deputy chief of staff and a chief of staff. A criminal investigation has shown how personal laptops, private email accounts, other computer networks, etc., were utilized in an elaborate scheme to conceal illegal campaign work done on county time. Like his political comrade, Republican Governor Chris Christie, Walker denies having any knowledge of his staff’s criminal activities. (Is there any Republican presidential hopeful who is aware of what his staff is up to?) But is any of this at all credible?

Is it at all believable that campaign work can be conceived, planned, and executed on behalf of a public official by his own staff, without his knowledge or consent? If so, what does this say about Republican governors, their leadership abilities and judgment of character, that their own staff, right under their noses, acts systematically, arbitrarily, and criminally without their knowledge? Supposing this (frankly impossibility) to be true, we may then fairly ask, Would you feel safe and secure having a public official represent you whose own hand-picked staff systematically operates outside the law, without his knowledge?

Of course, that’s a rhetorical question. While the governors are wilely enough to engage in such activity without an overt connection to themselves (or so they believe), it strains one’s credulity to the breaking point to think that their tight inner circle could, or would, engage in any meaningful political or campaign activity, let alone criminal activity, without the express approval of the person on whose behalf they are acting, and without him ever catching wind of it. To believe otherwise, let’s face it, is to believe in fairies, goblins, and witches on broomsticks.

The next time these ignoramuses say ‘I had no idea what my chief of staff was up to’, let us retort: Show me the broomstick, and then I’ll believe!

“ …while the remark of one of the founders of our government, that the whole art of politics    consists in being honest, is an overstatement, it remains true that absolute honesty is what Cromwell would have called a fundamental of healthy political life.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

Clearly, among Republican presidential aspirants—Ted Cruz, Paul Rand, Chris Christie, and now Scott Walker—honesty is what we don’t have, which is why our political life is sick unto death.

Len Sive Jr.

CONSERVATIVES DECRY “LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS”: HOW MONEY AND POWER CANCEL OUT THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for the Washington Post, has decried the “liberal media bias” in its reporting of the Christie scandals swirling, like a deadly hurricane, around the New Jersey Republican governor. Tellingly, she doesn’t even address the scandals themselves—the likelihood of their having happened, or what these scandals say about Christie’s character—he, a presidential hopeful—no, she has not a single word of condemnation of Christie, only criticism of the “liberal” media for “hyping” (my word) the scandals.

It’s a combination of “hate and vilify the messenger” approach to unwelcome news, a tactic as old as western civilization itself; and, when you can’t defend against an accusation, create a diversion and hope that your audience won’t notice this sleight of hand trick where the topic has been changed and a red herring thrown into the arena of controversy in hopes of misleading the audience.

This has been the Republican response—there is only concern about whether Christie can ride out the storm and emerge a still-viable presidential candidate; but of Truth, there is not a single Republican concerned about Christie’s character. Why? Because money and power are the real goals of politics—truth, let alone character, means absolutely nothing. These become issues only if the public focuses on them; otherwise, they are completely extraneous and irrelevant.

This typifies the spiritual malaise of the Republican Party; it is the party of despair, of nihilism, of an inner rottenness that brings decay and death to everything it touches. It is the direct result of worshiping money and power rather than the God of Truth, Justice, and Goodness. It is the party of idolatry and, consequently, the evil idolatry subserves. It worships realpolitik  à la Machiavelli,  abjuring the ethical, the religious, and the spiritual. Hence the Republicans’ lack of concern about Christie’s character.  “Is he still a viable candidate” is all that Republicans care about, that and the oft-used red herring of a “liberal bias” in the press. But of Truth itself–God’s truth–not a single Republican defender can be found.  “People are just sick of politicians. And they are looking…for just an honest man.”  (Robert F. Kennedy)

Len Sive Jr

BOEING’S GAIN IS AMERICA’S LOSS

It was a day of mourning, and a day of shame. Using the sword of fear, Boeing’s CEO Jim McNerney, threatening to move Boeing if the machinist’s union didn’t ratify their new contract, successfully won the union vote, barely—51% to 49%. Clearly, the fear factor was the decisive edge: No one wanted to see Boeing leave Seattle—that was the sword of Damocles hanging over their collective necks. But for their (understandable) capitulation, they now lose their pensions. They are also forbidden to strike for ten years. It is a bitter pill indeed. This is yet another example of how  Corporate America, which is almost entirely Republican, has been ruining America, and continues to do so.

Once we were a great nation with a vision of life that thrilled the rest of the civilized world: “Give me  your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” But today, with Corporate America  re-making America along strictly class lines, with the 1% richest at the top, and 85% of the country  at the bottom of the pyramid , with a middle-class shrinking by the hour, we are entering  our own Dark Age, where money alone —and all the power, persuasion, and predominance money can buy—rules in the place of our older, formerly much-cherished, noble ideals of equality, prudence, compassion,  initiative, and opportunity.

Republicans, especially Tea Party people, like to liberally sprinkle their political discourse with “self-made man” images when in reality they neither assist those same “self-made men and women” on their assault up the fortified mountain of financial success nor aid them when they are forced to abandon their goal, by personal or family illness or tragedy, or being laid off, or seeing their factory move to China,  destructive weather, and other conditions or events beyond their control. Where then are these talkers of the glory of “the self-made”? The rich help the rich,  but no one helps the middle or lower classes.

McNerney has proven yet again that when the rich rule (with only a few exceptions like the Kennedys), they care only about themselves. Boeing’s workers must now pay more for health care as well as start all over again in saving a pension—while McNerney has had to live on a oh so meager 22 million dollars this past year! O How the rich they do suffer…!

In this particular series of pitched battles, once again the 1% have won handily,  with their war cry “Your pension or your job” striking  fear into the hearts of workers,  and paralyzing just enough machinists to win the voting  battle. But Boeing’s gain is America’s loss. Our once-heralded  country  of opportunity, unique in history, has become a nation like all the other nations, where only money, and not initiative or ability, rules. Like India, we now have our own caste system. America requiescat in pace.

Len Sive Jr.

LIARS, CHEATS, THIEVES, AND THUGS: THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS SPIRITUALLY DEAD

“This is what separated us from you; we made demands. You were satisfied to serve the power of your nation and we dreamed of giving ours her truth.”  

Albert Camus

Today, Rep. Michael Grimm (R., NY), a former Marine and FBI agent, threatened to kill Michael Scotto, a news reporter for NY1, for his choice of questions during an on-camera interview. Scotto brought up the on-going federal investigation into the financial contributions of Grimm’s 2010 political campaign. This so angered Rep. Grimm that he threatened to break Scotto in two and throw him over the balcony (in the Capitol dome, where the interview was taking place). Although a popular member of the house, at bottom it turns out that Grimm is nothing but a thug. (Interestingly, he also opened a restaurant with a known associate of the Gambino mafia family.)

This isn’t the first time Grimm has “lost it”, either. While in the FBI, he had an altercation with a patron at a night club. He lied about being attacked by the patron, called in the FBI and NYPD, and waving his pistol wildly in the air, shouted out to those in the club that “All the white people could leave” (so he could deal with the patron and his friends).  We can now add racism to Grimm’s rap sheet. And he is a “representative” of the people?

Then we have New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, whose staff gets involved in “dirty political tricks” and intimidation—with Christie’s personal involvement here all but a certainty, though of course he denies all knowledge of any wrongdoing. But the Hoboken, N.J., mayor whom he tried to intimidate makes a very believable, and therefore formidable, witness against him. And his high school friend and former appointee to the Port Authority, David Wilderstein, one of several taking the blame for the bridge closing, after he was fired said that he has proof that Christie knew all along about the bridge closings, despite his denials to the contrary. That Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Kelly, was a player in all this, reveals another side of Christie—whom he befriends and picks to be his closest political associates.

This all has a rancid “Nixon odor” about it, as when HL Hunt and Gordon Liddy (among many others) did Nixon’s bidding at the Watergate break-in (one among many “dirty tricks”), but who were also goons associated with the CIA (as Grimm was with the FBI). If nothing else, we catch a glimpse of the kinds of people hired, then under Nixon and now, by two of the most powerful government agencies in Washington. Clearly, a lack of moral character appears to be no handicap in finding employment with either the CIA or the FBI.

Then we have Republican intimidation on a grand scale—THE SHUTDOWN, engineered by Republican Congressman Ted Cruz, with the full support of his fellow house members, which caused several billion dollars worth of damage to an already fragile economy, hurt millions of Americans in the process, all in trying to kill Obamacare—already the law of the land—whose chief purpose is to provide affordable healthcare to every American. In other word, it’s one more battle in the on-going war of the super-rich against the faded middle-class and burgeoning lower class. We have nothing less than class warfare being waged. Republicans have their anti-liberal agenda which they are going to implement “come hell or high water” and the 50% of Americans who disagree with their “Everything for the rich and nothing for the poor” ideology can “just go to hell”. In their greed, inflexibility, class warfare, and hubris, Republicans remind me of the kind of intransigence and bitter enmity the senatorial class displayed which led to the downfall of the Roman Republic through two civil wars.

This on-going struggle against the middle- and lower-classes also mirrors, in a history closer to home, the ideological Ante-Bellum (pre-Civil War) mindset, of white versus black.  Today’s ideological Republicans fail, collectively and individually, to understand that the sick, the poor, the immigrant, and the elderly are an important part of our nation—not just the rich who are the face of the Republican Party. These ideological Republicans divide our one nation into two adversarial parts, Them and Us. And for our “One nation under God, indivisible” that spells death to our Republic—and a farewell to our sacred Founding and history.

The Republican Party is not only the party of the rich (whose one goal is to acquire absolute power in all three branches of government, both on the state and federal level, to enable them to become even richer), it is the party of dissolution and disillusion. But in the end such becomes merely nihilism. And then you can only attract to your party thugs like the Grimms, the Christies, and the Cruzes, among many others.

As it says in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint.” The Republican Party has cast off all restraint, as we can see by how its members act and who they care about. For they have no prophetic vision…They are blind, stumbling in the dark. Their one god is wealth and the power wealth confers. But spiritually, inwardly, they are dead.

Len Sive Jr.

MATTEO RENZI SARA’ IL SUAREZ ITALIANO?

Se al dinamico Fiorentino (precisiamo: del gennaio 2014) le cose continueranno a riuscirgli, il destino potrà portarlo a grandi cose. Per esempio a diventare l’Adolfo Suarez dello Stivale. Se i più giovani chiederanno “Suarez chi?” sbaglieranno.

Suarez non fu un titano, ma tra il 1976 e l’81 fu il più brillante tra i politici iberici, alcuni dei quali molto più autorevoli di lui. Morto Francisco Franco c’era il Regime da smantellare, e Suarez fu alla testa dell’opera. Fu l’artefice principale della Transicion alla democrazia (diverso, da fare a parte, il discorso se la democrazia importata, di matrice italiana, è oppure no il meglio che poteva capitare agli spagnoli).

Scomparso Franco, nessuno tra i suoi Grandi, cominciando da Manuel Fraga Iribarne, riuscì a imporsi per il ruolo di capo dell’esecutivo. Per qualche mese il presidente del Governo Arias Navarro, fedelissimo del Caudillo, provò a gestire un suo passaggio a una democrazia semifranchista. Poi il re giovane Juan Carlos, sempre più deciso ad allineare la politica spagnola a quelle dell’Occidente e forte dell’appoggio dell’opinione pubblica, licenziò Arias Navarro. A Fraga Iribarne e agli altri aspiranti diadochi preferì un Suarez, suo coetaneo e amico ma ai più sconosciuto. “Tiene caracter” spiegò ai confidenti il sovrano fresco di vernice. Sembra chiaro che anche Matteo Renzi tiene caracter.

In un contesto ancora condizionato dalla tragedia della Guerra civile, Suarez aveva una carta importante, era centrista, quanto ci voleva per facilitare la riconciliazione tra le estreme che nel 1936 si erano contrapposte crudelmente. In più era giovane, garantiva discontinuità. Sapeva piacere, prima di tutto al Re (in privato gli dava del tu); aveva radici cattoliche; appariva capace di decisioni rapide; non era inceppato da ideologie. Tratti che ricordano Renzi o no?

Suarez non fu una meteora: un quinquennio al potere. In una lunga prima fase riuscì in quasi tutte le opere che gli competevano. Occorreva convertire alla libertà i duri del franchismo,  ne fu capace anche perché era stato alto gerarca franchista (prima direttore della radio-televisione, poi ministro del Movimiento). Occorreva ammansire quei guerrieri dell’antifascismo che credevano arrivata l’ora della vendetta: Suarez addomesticò anche loro. Così in breve tempo si innalzò l’edificio parlamentare e partitico, con una Costituzione (1978) che codificava un assetto all’italiana (anche quanto a corruzione dei politici e dei potenti: oggi c’è persino un’Infanta sotto processo) però più stabile. Successi spettacolari, altro che Suarez chi?

Tuttavia: poco dopo aver vinto le elezioni  generali del 1979, la stella del presidente Suarez tramontò altrettanto velocemente quanto era ascesa. Naturale usura del potere e, più ancora, le “limitaciones” dell’uomo. Come insiste lo storico Javier Tusell, egli “non poteva stare all’altezza della cultura e dell’intelligenza di un Fraga Iribarne”, come di altri personaggi che liberalizzarono il regime vivo il Caudillo. Suarez si dimise improvvisamente il 29 gennaio 1981. Gli succedette Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, figlio di un fratello del “Protomàrtir de la Guerra civil”. I generali si sollevarono cinque giorni dopo l’assassinio di José Calvo Sotelo ad opera non del solito anarchico, ma di una squadra di poliziotti sinistristi della Repubblica.

Come la maggior parte dei primi ministri dei Borboni, Suarez fu fatto duca e Grande di Spagna (il suo successore, per brevità della carica ed esilità dei meriti, divenne solo marchese; marchese come Arias Navarro e come Joaquin Rodrigo, lo struggente, inimitabile musicista cieco). Alla fine, anno 2003, la fortuna voltò le spalle a Suarez: Alzheimer.

Le notizie qui alla svelta riferite danno un’idea delle somiglianze tra il Renzi degli esordi fulminanti e Suarez.  Se il Fiorentino farà tesoro degli insegnamenti del Nostro, Fortuna permettendo ascenderà come lui. Quasi inevitabilmente, anche tramonterà.

Anthony Cobeinsy

WE ARE KNOWN BY OUR FRIENDS; OR, BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER—WHAT CHRISTIE’S STAFF REVEALS ABOUT CHRISTIE

Gov. Christie of New Jersey is under suspicion of ordering a “political payback” to the mayor of a N.J. city for not supporting him in his bid for governor. Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, along with Christie’s man at the Port Authority, David Wildstein, set in motion a diabolical plot to close down The George Washington Bridge by closing several access roads, thereby causing a monumental, and dangerous, shutdown of the bridge for several days. The big question is, How could that have happened without Christie’s prior knowledge and consent? Is it believable that his deputy chief of staff on her own authority would, or could, perpetrate such a horrific offence, knowing full well that the truth might well come out later? Would she—could she—have acted on her own authority?—If so, many very troubling questions naturally come to mind.

First, what does it say about Christie’s managerial style that a horrific, and extremely dangerous act of sabotage by his own staff, putting hundreds of thousands of commuters in a complete tie-up, with all the risks of “road rage,” children not being picked up, doctors’ appointments missed, emergency responders brought to a standstill, etc., could happen without his knowledge?  Is it even credible that with such certain consequences attendant to a complete traffic standstill, Christie’s deputy chief of staff would have conceived and executed this “payback” all by herself? But even if we find out that, yes, she did indeed plot the whole thing, then Christie should still step down for hiring such diabolical people to help him run his governorship. His lack of good judgment here, if this is the case, is both stunning, reprehensible, and extremely dangerous. It is tantamount to having a mad man as governor—like “Mad Ludwig” of Bavaria, who was drowned while bathing in order to save the state from more of his irrational schemes. Just think: What would Christie—or his staff—do with all the power of the presidency? Order break-ins like Nixon, tamper with evidence, harm political opponents, etc?  If the rule of law can be so cavalierly dispensed with on the state level, just think what he or his staff could do on the federal level. One crazy “Rob Ford” on the continent is more than enough, I should think.

Second, adding to the suspicion that Christie, despite his denials, himself authored this ‘traffic bomb’ is the accusation of the Hoboken mayor that funds for Sandy’s victims would be withheld unless she allowed the Rockefeller Group to develop property in Hoboken. One act of intimidation/retaliation raises suspicions—but two?

A person is known by the friends/associates whom he chooses as his intimate companions. They reveal well a person’s character. Christie has unequivocally revealed who he likes to employ and to hang out with (for these were his friends too). As Aristotle well said, “Birds of a feather flock together.” In this instance, we should revise it to “vultures of equal rapacity and immorality flock and fly together.”

Len Sive Jr.

CHRIS CHISTIE: CORRUPTION, INTIMIDATION, PAY-BACK—STAPLES OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

“Our ideal of America is a nation in which justice is done; and therefore the continued existence of injustice, of unnecessary inexcusable poverty in this most favored of nations—this knowledge erodes our ideal of America, our basic sense of who and what we are. It is, in the deepest sense of the word, demoralizing—to all of us.” Robert F. Kennedy

Republicans in Congress are, most of them, skilled not in statecraft, or the subtleties of governing a pluralistic country (Republicans on the whole care nothing about pluralism). They are skilled only in aiding the rich in becoming richer. That is their raison d’etre. They are in office for no other reason than to serve their financial puppet masters—for which loyal service they can expect to receive due compensation, and not a few perquisites distributed along the way.

Chris Christie is a perfect illustration of this pragmatic service to his real, behind the stage political “handlers”. His office received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal emergency (FEMA) funds to help those hurt by the unprecedented, gigantic storm, Sandy. But first, Christie tells a few of his would-be recipients, “they must allow the Rockefeller Group [inter alia, a real estate investment corporation] into their city to develop various properties—and then, but only then, will their city receive their much-needed, and long-awaited for, Sandy funds. Don’t allow Rockefeller in and you won’t get your funds.” (This is a paraphrase of what Christie [and his office] is reputed to have said.)

Here is intimidation at its cruelest: people who are still struggling to get their lives back on track after Hurricane Sandy have their funds withheld in—let us call it like it is—a blackmail scheme, while Christie and his henchmen obsequiously court the interests of the super-rich. But the urgent needs of the poor, the suffering, and the displaced victims of hurricane Sandy—these take a back seat to the unfeeling rich.

Or failing verbal intimidation—this never works on high-minded people like the Hoboken mayor who resisted Christie’s threats—you can always engage in “dirty tricks,” in this case political revenge, a time-honored Republican habit of subverting the rule of law, here by illegally closing lanes that feed onto the George Washington Bridge, thereby causing a monumental tie-up for the town of the N.J. mayor who refused to support Christie for governor (and with good reason we now see!) This high-minded act of political statesmanship by Christie and his staff not only

caused a traffic fiasco of gargantuan proportions, adversely affecting hundreds of thousands of people, it also put at risk the lives of sick citizens who might have needed to go to the hospital.

But isn’t this just the sort of thing the Mafia routinely does? Or what one would expect of (neo-Czar) Putin and his FSB henchmen? But, no, these are not totalitarian Russians, they’re home-grown right-wing Republicans, for whom “legality” is a decidedly relative matter: It’s legal if the Republicans themselves distort, or even trample upon, the Constitution, but illegal if a Democrat should try, out of Christian compassion, to assist the elderly, the young, the sick, the impoverished, the helpless and the hopeless. Then it’s called red herring names like “Big Government” or “Big Brother” or “socialism.” That 50% of Americans fall for this political charade is even more shocking and disturbing.

Democracy in America is emphatically not working. It’s been co-opted by the super-rich, like the Rockefeller Group, so that they can become even richer (and they do). Chris Christie shows us all very clearly that, after all is said and done, unlike in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the Bailey Savings and Loan does indeed finally lose out to Potter, and with it goes the end of the Middle-Class. (Only in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life does America still “have” a middle class.)

So, welcome to Pottersville, the ghetto formed by rapacious, uncaring, and unchristian rich Republicans, for the poor, the sick, and the suffering—that being out of sight they might also be out of mind.

Len Sive Jr

NSA ONLY?

HOW ABOUT BUSINESSES AND ADVERTISERS? WHO IS MONITORING THEM MONITORING US?

It would be comical if it weren’t so frightening how eight key Internet providers (Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, et. al.) have petitioned the White House to do something about the NSA’s spying while failing to mention that they themselves are either spying on Internet users or else allowing others to do so—companies like Doubleclick, an advertising company, or QuestionMarket, a company that collects  data for example on your purchases, which may include your name and phone number, etc. Yet do we hear even a peep of concern over this ubiquitous spying by businesses?—Not a word!

And not one word either from Mr. Anti-Spying himself—Edward Snowden.  Are we to assume that  he knows all about government spying but nothing at all about businesses spying? Or does he feel that a government collecting personal and confidential information is one thing, while  a business doing it  is something else altogether.  If the latter, Is he so naïve as to believe that businesses are inherently virtuous and would never at some time in the future misuse our data? (After the recent  bank, real estate, stock brokerage , et. al., unprecedented  fraud that took the world to the very doorstep of another Great Depression,  one would have to be blind indeed to think that businesses  are more virtuous than governments.)  In light of Snowden’s continuous revelations about the NSA, his silence about Internet spying by the business world is most puzzling indeed.

The question we need to ask is: Are we to have merely “relative privacy”—privacy from government  spying but not from businesses spying? Are we comfortable with Google knowing, and  showing, not only where we live but which Internet sites we visit, when,  what we do there, what we buy, how much we spend, etc.?

“Privacy” (here defined as everything about ourselves: how we spend our money, who or what we visit, etc.) is a virtual absolute; it is either present or it’s not. There is no such thing as “relative privacy.”  Privacy is an either/or, not a both/and. It either is or it isn’t.—And unfortunately it isn’t! (I say “virtual” because with a court order, on a suspicion of a crime, etc, the interests of the state at that moment override the absolute privacy of an individual.)

So to watch this group of Internet providers wringing their hands in despair over the NSA’s spying  was comical, since each knows only too well that every Internet user is tracked if at all possible—yet not one word was raised by them against this practice. Why not?—Money. Profit. millions of dollars is at stake, that’s why. And uniquely in the US, profit habitually trumps virtue and morality, by the right-wing as well as by the left-.

And where, one may ask, is the public’s outcry in all this?

“ He who ceases to be vigilant will in time lose all his liberties.” So said Wendell Phillips, wisely.  Are we so engrossed in our little self-absorbed world of cell-phone texting, activities, and games that no one really cares if on the Internet someone watches, and notes, our every move?

Len Sive Jr.

INTERNET PRIVACY: THE TABOO TOPIC OF NSA CRITICS

We have a problem no one wants to talk about—a BIG problem! Everywhere we turn, Internet companies, or companies using the Internet, are tracking us: our stops, our viewings, our buys; you-name-it, they’re collecting it. But who is angry? Who is even talking about it?

I subscribe to the New York Times: They informed me in December that I visited the Opinion pages 28 times, the World 24 times, the US 13 times, and so on. They know my most viewed and my most recently viewed…And this is the very same NYT that published several of Snowden’s NSA exposés, presumably because they saw in them the hand of Big Brother—and yet they too are collecting personal data on us, every day, every hour, every time we visit their web site. They’re collecting data and storing it. And if the NYT is doing it, rest assured other newspapers, TV stations, etc,  are also doing it—as well as allowing it to be done. Yet I don’t hear a whimper of protest from either the Liberal Left or the Radical Right. Why is that?

I’ll tell you why—money…profit, with a capital P.  Companies can make lots of money tracking and collecting your data and then selling it. But is Big Brother any less frightening if it’s a corporation? Even to get new downloads, for example from Adobe, I had to sign an agreement in which I consented to having Adobe  collect data on me; so if I wanted the latest download I had no choice but to agree to their terms. This is pure extortion: my data for their most recent downloads!

Later as I was viewing Amazon’s books, Amazon “helpfully” told me which books I had recently viewed and gave me the name of some others that I might like. But how did they get their information? By tracking me, of course, and keeping a file of my habits and reading proclivities. Why are these trackings OK to the otherwise virulently anti-spying, anti-NSA crowd but phone collection isn’t? Isn’t data collection data collection? To my mind tracking is tracking, no matter who does it! So where are our liberal and conservative congressmen and senators on this hushed-up issue?…Or have the “campaign contributions” (aka The Bribe) already paid for our representatives to “look the other way”?

Let’s take a moment and put all this into a down-to-earth, commonsense perspective to see how truly disturbing such tracking is. You’re out shopping. Unbeknownst to you there is someone looking over your shoulder writing down where you shop, what you look at, what you buy, how much you spend, your phone number, address, bank, etc.  Frightening? You bet! Big Brother isn’t coming: He’s already here! But do we care?

The price of liberty—lest we forget—is eternal vigilance. And just how much do we prize our liberty?

Len Sive Jr.

THE NRA HOLDS A GUN TO AMERICA’S HEAD. PROUDLY.

There is nothing in our history quite as bizarre as the continuing influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association) despite one  gun-related tragedy after another, at home, at school, in shopping malls, bars, sporting events, political rallies, churches, airports—everywhere people gather together.  More Americans die each year from gun-related incidents than were killed during our entire involvement in Vietnam! If there is one group that we can single out for its depraved influence on American life: in expertly leading gullible folk away from facts to emotional, spurious constitutional gun arguments: whose policies and lobbying practices have resulted in making gun-buying an all-too-simple process: who oppose all background checks of prospective gun-buyers, including those who are mentally unstable: who want even assault weapons to be sold and bought—the NRA has no rival. If ever Mephistopheles sought out a partner to bring terror and violence to the American way of life, it would surely be an unholy alliance with the NRA.

What’s the NRA’s typical response to any and every incident of gun violence?—If everyone had been armed there would have been no incident in the first place! Now if their retort weren’t so very dangerous, it would be simply laughable—laughably stupid. But the steady, seemingly unstoppable stream of gun violence now defiling our land is certainly no topic for laughter.

Behind the NRA lies the gun manufacturers and their owners, like the notorious rich and powerful DuPont family, originally made rich by selling shoddy, substandard goods to our troops in various wars (like the Civil War) and owner of Remington Arms, as well as longtime backer of many right-wing extremist groups like the KKK, the Minutemen, and the John Birch Society. Their politics is determined solely by financial considerations masquerading as politics. What care they who die by the gun so long as they can hear the ‘klink’ of the cash register for yet another gun sale?

Of course, to any half-normal mind our gun laws are completely insane. There is no clearer proof of the dangers of lobbyists, to my mind, than the example of the NRA. Not the common weal is under consideration by congressmen and women when they pass gun laws that (however unintentionally) make mass killings possible, even inevitable, but simply the wealth and power of gun manufacturers and their owners. But let’s call a spade a spade: lobbyists give money as BRIBES. It’s unethical and decidedly unchristian. They buy votes—and what ought to be done gets buried under so many handfuls of cash. The word “Lobbyist” comes straight from the devil’s own dictionary, to obscure truth and to make evil easier to get away with.

The Constitution’s phrase, “The right to bear arms,” was intended for militiamen in a country that at that time had no standing army. (Our Founding Fathers would never have been so insane as to allow, e.g., assault weapons in the hands of anyone, including the mentally unstable.) But that was then. Times have changed. We have an army now, and so we don’t need militiamen—or their weapons.

Moreover, many laws enacted during our colonial period (like proslavery legislation) are today seen for the insane laws that they were all along. But people were blinded by self-interest. And such will future generations view today’s gun laws—they were insane all along, but were supported by those whom the NRA bribed, so that a congressman’s self-interest, and not the concern for the common weal, alone motivated their votes on all gun legislation.

The NRA has an assault rifle pointed directly at America’s head—and, incredibly, the majority of Americans don’t even seem to care.

Len Sive Jr.

CHINA: FROM VICTIM TO VICTIMIZER

China in the 18th and 19th centuries was largely a victim of various colonial powers and the US, which pent-up resentment finally resulted in the nationalistic Boxer Rebellion—which China lost handily and suffered greatly for as a result. In those days China was a rural nation, economically undeveloped, and, militarily speaking, of no significance as compared with the US and other colonial powers.

But that was then.  China has gone from victim to victimizer: continuing to suppress human rights in its own nation (a legacy going back to Chairman Mao and the so-called People’s Revolution) and now venturing for the first time into spaces outside of China as well, claiming as Chinese territory the South China Sea, heedless of the claims of other nations to that same area. Indeed, its military has declared that certain areas in international waters/air-space are now under Chinese sovereignty, and Japan, the US, Philippines, South Korea, Viet Nam, et. al. be damned.

What is particularly galling about China’s rise to the front rank of military powers is that the West, and the US in particular, has made her military prowess possible by having Corporate America relocate industry after industry to China, with China then copying (or stealing) manufacturing secrets and setting up its own industry as a result. We also have educated countless Chinese in US universities, mathematicians, physicists, engineers, computer specialists, et. al. professions vital to their military-industrial complex and the  development of new weapons, jets, ships, etc. being unveiled. China is already rivaling the US in developing stealth ships, aircraft, drones, submarines, computer technology (including a virus that destroys a computer if downloaded), and nuclear weapons—and they spend only about one-fifth of what we outlay for the military!

China is now flexing its military muscles. It does not take a great imagination to see that a war in Asia could easily rsult. And we have only ourselves to blame—I mean Corporate America, which made this now full-grown tiger possible through their amoral lust for more and more profit heedless of any and all consequences. Stamped on the backside of every armament in China’s  arsenal is “Thank you Corporate America. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

Len Sive Jr.

DISINCANTO DEL PATRIOTTISMO SPAGNOLO

Dopo esserci stata padrona per un po’ di secoli (a Milano quasi tre, a Napoli e a Cagliari quasi quattro, a Palermo oltre cinque), morto il Caudillo la Spagna ritrovatasi democratica si cercò un modello politico-ideale aggiornato: e scelse lo Stivale. Noi avevamo cambiato padrone già nel 1945, trovando la felicità trent’anni prima che a sud dei Pirenei. Nell’ottobre 1982 gli spagnoli completano il corso d’apprendimento: danno il potere al ‘socialista’ Felipe Gonzales ed entrano anch’essi nell’età craxiana: soldi a debito per tutti, industrializzazione e grandi opere al galoppo, ottimismo della volontà, tangenti come via maestra. Oggi le cronache del malaffare democratico sono, da Pamplona a Valencia alle Canarie, indistinguibili dalle nostre (v. in Internauta “La Spagna dall’orgoglio del Cid all’Infanta indagata e alle tangenti”; “Hispania felix anche senza crescita (ma politici ladri come i nostri”).

Allora la Spagna fattasi da magistra alunna non ha molto da insegnarci. Resta tuttavia una pietra di paragone. Per questo vi sunteggiamo qui le riflessioni su “la hora del desencanto” di tre reputati storici accademici, Fernando Garcia de Cortàzar, Josep Fontana allievo di Jaume Vicens Vives e Juan Pablo Fusi.  I motivi più immediati per ragionare di disincanto sono, com’è ovvio, la crisi economica e il separatismo catalano e basco. “E’ il nostro inverno morale” constata Garcia de Cortàzar, che è un cattedratico e un gesuita. “Si mette in discussione persino il riuscito passaggio dal franchismo alla democrazia. E’ evidente l’insuccesso degli  sforzi per difenderci dalle minacce dei nazionalismi antispagnoli, sorti nel secolo XIX con connotazioni romantiche e ultraconservatrici. Mi colpisce una frase, ‘rispetto delle autonomie regionali’ che sentiamo continuamente in questi anni di crisi brutale. Significa che quando avevamo soldi potevamo permetterci impunemente di sperperare, di sovrapporre le giurisdizioni ? Oggi la Spagna nazione  è contestata come non mai, e non è solo colpa dei particolarismi periferici. La sinistra per esempio, un tempo difendeva l’unità, oggi  si apre ai suoi nemici: curiosamente non in nome della lotta di classe o del paradiso proletario, bensì per assecondare gli orizzonti egoistici  delle oligarchie regionali. La Spagna unita è un’eredità che abbiamo ricevuto ed é un progetto per il futuro. Il mondo non ci accetterà mai se non ci impegneremo a credere in noi stessi. La nostra tolleranza è stata presa come mancanza di principi, la nostra prudenza come impotenza”.

Non era questo che speravamo dalla democrazia, ammette Josep Fontana, un professore emerito che fu militante comunista durante il franchismo; ha soprattutto studiato la finanza pubblica nell’Ottocento. Cita quel verso di Gil de  Biedma che chiama triste la storia di Spagna  ‘porque siempre termina mal’. Per lui “la crisis del proyecto nacional espagnol està directamente relacionado con la crisis del Estado”. Una indipendenza della Catalogna non è inconcepibile “si es realizable sin dagno para nadie”. Fontana sottolinea gli aspetti negativi di certi sviluppi ottocenteschi: “Le grandi fortune riuscirono a sfuggire agli obblighi fiscali loro spettanti: allora erano agrari, oggi sono finanzieri. Una delle conseguenze fu l’estrema debolezza della scuola pubblica. Negli altri paesi europei la scuola fu un fattore decisivo di amalgamazione nazionale. In Spagna non ha contribuito abbastanza alla crescita dei sentimenti unitari”.

Anche Juan Pablo Fusi addita la vulnerabilità del Paese di fronte alla sfida dei separatisti. Peraltro la decentralizzazione è stata un impegno intenso e finora efficace per valorizzare le risorse regionali: “No recuerdo en ningùn otro pais un esfuerzo como el registrado en Espagna. No es facil ir mas allà”. Non deve sorprendere, aggiunge Fusi. che la ricca Catalogna sia tentata di voltare le spalle alla patria: lo fanno anche gli indipendentisti del Quebec, i fiamminghi belgi, in Gran Bretagna gli irlandesi ed ora gli scozzesi. La crisi generale -non solo economica, anche istituzionale e politica- fa lievitare lo scissionismo: “Los continuos escandalos de corrupcion”, l’assenza di leadership, la disoccupazione accentuano le difficoltà dei paesi. Da noi risuona ancor oggi l’amara constatazione di Antonio Cànovas del Castillo, il governante che rimettendo sul trono i Borboni riuscì a chiudere le guerre carliste e a stabilizzare l’assetto politico: “Es espagnol el que no puede ser otra cosa”.

Enric Gonzàles, che ha raccolto le non ottimistiche riflessioni dei tre storici per conto di ‘El Mundo’ – quotidiano che da venticinque anni dà voce al capitalismo liberale moderno (una specie di ‘Repubblica’ di destra, risposta al progressismo di ‘El Pais’) richiama un pensiero di José Ortega y Gasset: “La convivenza dei nazionalismi è difficile, non impossibile”.

A.M.C.

FROM CHRISTIAN LOVE TO COMMERCIALIZATION: THE CHANGING TIDES OF HOLIDAY CHEER

When I was a boy, many a holiday season ago, there was a palpable sense of “holiday cheer” from Thanksgiving to Christmas through to the New Year: people smiled and laughed;  opened doors for one another and helped people cross the street; greeted strangers with a warm smile and a wave; kept the elevator door open for that slow moving senior citizen; always tipped lavishly; and made church services an integral part of the  holiday season—joyously and gratefully, as people counted their several  blessings throughout the holiday season.

Thanksgiving was, uniquely, its own deeply memorable holiday as well as the forerunner to Christmas—a harbinger of Christmas, so to speak. For us, the focus on Thanksgiving was family and friends. And our family’s best friends, the Craigs, usually  joined us (or we them)—which trebled our joy, for Pete and Virginia were wonderfully urbane, contagiously witty, warm, caring,  kind, and just plain fun to be around.

People—friends, family— dominated the holiday. We watched no TV. We sat and talked for hours—first over mountains of roast Turkey, stuffing (‘wet and dry’), cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn bread freshly baked, and pumpkin pie. Then when dinner was over we reassembled in the living room for more conversation, in the enjoyment of each other.  For us—and for me— this was heaven itself: People loving people.

Christmas was more strictly a family affair (the Craigs usually visited us on the 26th  or thereabouts). It began with a midnight church service on Christmas Eve, then the Christmas Day service, and, in our church, properly ended with The Boar’s Head Festival days later—a huge, magnificent and unforgettable costume-and-carol pageant (copied from England) celebrating the Christ infant’s coming to bring light and joy to a dark and sinful world—which was put on, properly, after Christmas and before the celebration of the New Year.

Christmas gifts were not just received with joy but given with joy; old animosities and hurts were entirely forgotten if not forgiven; and though Santa had, once again, managed somehow to work his way down then up again in our old chimney in the bringing of gifts—it was the birth of the Christ child, the symbol of love and forgiveness and goodness for all mankind, which ran like a golden thread all through the holiday season, reinforced by sermon and carol and liturgy. In short, it was a blessed holiday, whose effects outlasted the holiday itself.  Yes, for one brief shining moment during the year, the cosmos radiated love, and forgiveness, and good cheer…We all genuinely felt better, more humane, happier, more content.

Then in the 60’s began the slow commercialization—the corporatization—of the holidays, aided by TV with its hugely profitable advertising. With what societal result? Thanksgiving and Christmas, once beacons of love and joy, have become subservient to holiday sporting affairs; the underlying religious basis for the holidays has been transmogrified in a larger realm of commercial activity whose end is profit–and more profit. Even the symbols of Christmas—the crèche, the Christ infant, the three Wise men—in many cases have been outlawed on public property. Conversation and deep, meaningful dialogue  have devolved into a mere collective rooting for one’s team to win; and Christian love into the camaraderie of ‘high-fiving’ over a big play. The Christ child, in short, has been smuggled out of the season altogether by Corporate America.

Again, with what general societal result? People now regularly get into fights , and even killed, at sporting events; one’s personality—and especially one’s free time—and the very clothing on one’s back—are now tied to a sport’s team or a specific player. Women, I remember, used to dress and act like women. Now they dress and act like male athletes. People’s attire—and identity— are tied, if not to sports then to a corporate Logos. And to add insult to injury we are obsessed with (media-created) celebrity, which is nothing but the cooked-up hype of Corporate America given as pablum to a mindless and de-spiritualized society.  We have seen a tectonic shift away from spiritual inwardness to mere showy outwardness, from Love to Thingness.

“Celebrity” is nothing but the advertising of a person: the media create celebrity, hype it, and control it—in order to sell things to a public only too willing to buy. What great deed did Paris Hilton do to result in all that media attention?—Nothing. But it certainly made the Rupert Murdochs of the media world richer.

Today, to state the obvious, technology is in the ascendant. People have a text conversation while ignoring the person they are sitting with! Game-playing takes precedence over thinking and dialoging. Cell phones and gaming both have left society stupider and shallower.

So, we have in only a few decades gone from deep spiritual significance in the meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas to the worship of meaningless sporting events in our new cathedral called the stadium, with its high priest the coach and its apostles the players. Our identity and personality used to have some inner meaning and value, and bring real joy. Now it’s all outward glitter and inward emptiness—texting with nothing to say; game-addiction with nothing to show for the hours and years wasted.

Corporate America, in its single-minded, all-consuming drive for more and more profit, has led us all astray, like a Pied Piper—and we, like the silly children in the story, have followed this Piper even to our own intellectual and spiritual degradation.

Len Sive Jr