Hope Springs Infernal
A Lexington man is accused trying to use a fake $1 million bill to pay for his purchases at a Walmart.
Michael Anthony Fuller, 53, of 3 Parker St., walked into the Walmart on Lowes Boulevard in Lexington on Nov. 17. He shopped for a while, picking up a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other merchandise, totaling $476, an arrest warrant says.
When he got to the register, Fuller gave the cashier the phony bill, saying that it was real.
Store staff called police. — Winston-Salem Journal, December 31, 2011
Now, there’s a fellow who decided to start the new year in an optimistic frame of mind. For the rest of us, Kali, goddess of time, has simply turned the page and started a new chapter of this ongoing farce we call ‘life’.
So, where do we stand at the dawn of 2012? Well, Saudi Arabian lingerie shops are to employ women. Fabulous news for the hardline Islamic clerics who abhor the thought of women buying anything from male sales-clerks…or so you’d think; but you’d be wrong. The Islamo-nutcases still aren’t happy.
According to Saudi’s Arabia’s most senior cleric, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh:
“The employment of women in stores that sell female apparel and a woman standing face to face with a man selling to him without modesty or shame can lead to wrongdoing, of which the burden of this will fall on the owners of the stores,” he said.
Further, there’s good news for British men who felt that they were losing out in the exotica stakes: A Swiss genetics company has claimed that up to 70 per cent of British men are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
Not such good news for Norwegians in the northerly district of Nordreisa: they woke up the other morning to find 20 tons of dead herring on the beach. That’s a lot of kippers.
Nor was there good news for THIS GUY, winner of the 2011 Darwin Award. You have to watch this 40 second video: you’ll laugh; then you’ll feel guilty; then you’ll shrug and laugh again.
In politics, all is gloom and foreboding. We are governed by thugs, buffoons, charlatans and crooks. Inevitably, they all bleat about the joys of ‘democracy’, for all the world as though the game wasn’t rigged.
Obama’s latest enormity, the signing into law of the National Defense Authorization Act , allowing indefinite detention to be codified into law, is just the latest contemptuous spit in liberty’s face from a Wall St. lackey.
His excuse (the same excuse that Bush and Cheney used to enact the Patriot Act, which trampled the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into the dirt) was, inevitably, security: terrorism, a straw-man so huge that one could burn an infinity of Edward Woodwards in it.
Here in the UK, Cameron and Osborne lie and lie while enacting gratuitously cruel legislation and our lapdog media allows them to get away with it.
The real problem was lucidly set out by Rudolf Rocker almost 70 years ago:
“Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are, rather, forced upon parliaments from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security.
Just as the employers always try to nullify every concession they had made to labour as soon as opportunity offered, as soon as any signs of weakness were observable in the workers’ organizations, so governments also are always inclined to restrict or to abrogate completely rights and freedoms that have been achieved if they imagine that the people will put up no resistance.
Even in those countries where such things as freedom of the press, right of assembly, right of combination, and the like have long existed, governments are constantly trying to restrict those rights or to reinterpret them by juridical hair-splitting.
Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace . Where this is not the case, there is no help in any parliamentary Opposition or any Platonic appeals to the constitution.”
– Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory & Practice, 1947
Personally, I believe that the general populace–‘doped with religion and sex and TV’ in John Lennon’s words–have lost Rocker’s ‘in-grown habit’ of liberty. Witness the ease with which the New Labour chipped away at civil liberties with hardly a peep out of the general populace. As G.B. Shaw once wrote:
…if Despotism failed only for want of a capable benevolent despot, what chance has Democracy, which requires a whole population of capable voters: that is, of political critics who, if they cannot govern in person for lack of spare energy or specific talent for administration, can at least recognize and appreciate capacity and benevolence in others, and so govern through capably benevolent representatives? Where are such voters to be found to-day? Nowhere.
– G.B. Shaw in the Preface to Man and Superman (1903)
Goebbel’s ‘big lie’ is as effective today as it ever was: tell the people they’re under some terrible threat, frighten them enough and watch how fast they knuckle under to a suspension of habeus corpus, how quickly they turn informer and spy, how rapidly they come to hate the ‘other’, the ‘stranger’ in their midst. As Charles Mackay put it in his indispensable Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841):
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”
Of course, in the age of nuclear weapons, people might not have the luxury of ‘recovering their senses slowly, one by one‘.
That’s why the charlatans and shills like Cameron and Obama are a menace, as mediocre as they are: they peddle a lie, a lie that seeks to lull people into bovine acquiescence, dull-eyed and ready for the slaughter.
Benign governments and ethical corporations, the toxic neo-liberal fantasy: fuck that for a lark.
I suppose we must take what comfort and consolation we can in poetry.
“The mind has added nothing to nature. It is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation, and that, no doubt, is why the expression of it, the sound of its words, helps us to live our lives.”
– Wallace Stevens, from “The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words” (a lecture given at Princeton University in 1941)
Here’s to ‘helping us save our lives’ over the coming year. I don’t suppose this will help but one has to start somewhere:
Slithering through the splintered past,
the ancestors come calling;
ditch the buggers, ditch them fast:
their manners are appalling.
Tamp them down,
stamp them down,
plant the bastards underground;
sink them in the briny deep:
their secrets are their own to keep.
Over memory’s broken wall,
the old ones hop and bound and crawl;
trip them, block them, watch them fall,
they’ve got no common-sense at all.
Slow them up,
blow them up,
clamp their mouths and sew them up;
shovel them back in their graves:
for we all know that Jesus saves.
The past is dead, let’s keep it so,
there’s things that we don’t need to know,
the present’s hard enough to bear:
the future? Hell, let’s not go there.
Knock them out,
block them out,
the ghosts are dead so lock them out;
stop the clocks and burn the books:
the past’s all lies writ down by crooks.