Briefly, briefly. I’ve been watching a horror movie this weekend; it’s called the World Series and I don’t know if I can watch anymore, but I will. For some reason everything I hate about the Yankees seems to be summed up in the revelation that Alex Rodriguez sleeps below a painting of himself depicted as a centaur. The very notion of a jerk just got a whole lot jerkier.
The wars now raging in South Asia look set to rage further. “Karzai Declared Elected Leader” was the headline in the news all over today. I’m wondering if the tension between “declared” and “elected” was a conscious editorial irony. Though Karzai’s next term goes in the history books with an asterisk bigger than Barry Bond’s the United States have been waiting for the “election” to legitimize the soon to be announced escalation and now they have their manufactured green light. The United States’ concern for democracy has always been hollow. They would have preferred fraud a little less transparent, but they will take what they can get. Still, I’m sure they are on the look out for a better stooge. A good Quisling is so hard to find these days. Karzai uses American bodyguards because he can’t trust the Afghan ones (bad sign for a President of the Afghans), if I were him I’d watch out for the American ones too.
I’ve got Volume 42 (Letters 1864-68) of the Works next to my bed these days. It was a frantic period: Capital finally got finished, the Austro-Prussian war began and the American Civil War ended, The Fenians and the founding of the International, etc. Even a quick glance could quickly turn into an hours long adventure of cross-referencing and document hunting for the so inclined. One of the many, many wonderful things about reading through the letters of Marx and Engels are the words you learn. Between them they must have been proficient in thirty languages and expert in the literature of half those, but it was German words that caught my eye last night.
In a letter to his daughter Jenny, on a trip to Hanover to publish his opus, Marx describes one Mme. Tenge (“not so beautiful in reality as her shadow indicates”), the daughter of the educated aristocratic bourgeoisie, as free of fake learning (“flasche Bildung”) and, though she is a musician, doesn’t “kill one with Kunstgeschwätz.” Now that’s a word! It means to chatter endlessly about art. I’ve had need of such a word my entire life. I’m going to use it the next time I’m in a room full of such talk. It can’t help but be taken offensively. Thanks Karl.
The day after it became clear that the United Auto Workers latest concessionary contract with Ford was rejected (a first for a generation) by the rank and file word comes in of Ford’s quarterly profits. Turns out they made almost a billion take home. The biggest in four years. One wonders if the report came out last week instead of this week if the results would have been 90+% against rather than the 70+% against. Either way the workers have put their collective foot down and the rest of US workers should clasp their hand with a hearty “well done”, and I would add “what took you so long!” Where the rebellion goes from here is all about leadership. Let’s hope it’s a turning point.
One of the many downsides of the Lisbon Treaty getting though in Ireland after the second try was the possibility of Lord Blair Kut al-Amara becoming the appointed President of the Europe Union (they just appoint directly rather than the circular Afghan route). Now Tony Blair is easily one of my least favorite people ever and the prospect of having to listen to him speak on the public stage (beyond my opposition to the (neo) liberal imperialism he encapsulates) filled me with horror. His schmaltzy English sentimentalism parading as earnestness and his language of lawyers tricks is torture (something he knows about) to listen to. Blair is one of those assholes who has to be in charge no matter where he’s at. He should be in charge of making big rocks into little rocks somewhere in the Iraqi desert in my humble opinion. Thankfully, Europe has passed on a President Blair. Madam Miaow has similar thoughts.
And finally, I’ve been sitting in history classes at a working class public university for years now and I am constantly aghast at how little is actually understood or known about where we, as a society, come from. Here is a fascinating group of talks by historian David Blight and a bunch of others called “Birth and Rebirth of a Nation” given recently at The New School on the changing ways that the Civil War and Reconstruction have been remembered (or not), from DW Griffith’s abominable movie on. How we remember and understand the Second American Revolution says plenty about where we’re at now; whether we know where we are at now or not. Good stuff.