Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

Some had it in mind 234 years ago when they signed that document that some of them should no longer be subjects. They would think of themselves as Citizens from that day on. Some of them, at least. The men. The one's with property. The one's who were not held to be the property of others.

As is likely to happen at such junctures of history, they overstated their intentions; "all men" being understood by them, but not sufficiently defined that others might not hear in those words more than they had meant, as is the way with words. With a long war to keep their minds on, and then the awkward mechanics of governance, when they got around to writing the Constitution, they made pretty much the same mistakes, leaving it full of contradictions that suggested to those not quite as well off that these were planted there to be worked out over time, leading to change after change, and each change fought by those who took those words as inerrant scripture. Making freemen of slaves. Accepting that women as well as men had the right to vote--and after a 150 years or so, conceding that even former slaves had that same right... had it all along in fact.

And they never stopped fighting those changes, insisting the whole was intended (and likely with more than a little justification), that the only rights those documents were meant to uphold were whatever rights the privileged happened to already have in hand.

Sad to say, their persistence wasn't met, but sporadically, with equal force from those who were supposed to have become Citizens, and we never fully realized that we were no longer subjects, and the powerful elite who ran the great corporations, used the constantly renewed threat of poverty and unemployment, and the dangling carrots of stuff, and more stuff, and more stuff yet, to cajole the greater part of the population that we were still subjects--but now of the Great Global Corporate State--and State itself and those who it employed, its servants too, not for our benefit but theirs, top to bottom bought and payed for.

The brutal institution of legal slavery abolished, we all became instead--wage slaves--surrendering our lives for a meal, a place to live... and stuff. So much stuff...

But of course we're not subjects. Not of the Corporations. Or the Queen. Or the Great State that serves its Corporate masters. Though they want us to believe that. So they can use us for their own ends and not our own. The trouble is, we're not even our own subjects... and needing that, feeling our lack--we bow our heads and give away our lives for a wage, a meal, a place to live ... and stuff. More and more stuff.. stuff, stuff... stuff they promise but mostly we will never see, or our children either.

Even though there are no gods... or rather, no gods but of our making, the one great sin for those with religion and those who've grown out of religion alike ... is idol worship. The worship of stuff. Of power perceived to be greater than our own... when there is no power greater than own unless we freely give it away.

BOOM BOOM BOOM we'll hear tonight. Reminder of the wars they'll send us to. The job of killing and being killed for the profit of the few, the wars that never end because they never cease to make a few rich at the expense of many.

I walk up one street and down another and I think... we've spoiled it. We've spoiled everything. Everything. And soon there'll be nothing left for us to spoil.

Happy 4th of July

From Silliman's Blog: Wendell Berry.!


  1. I appreciated that when Mr. Berry had the podium he spoke about the dire effects post-WWII of turning maximum force against our own landscapes for the eradication of weeds, maximizing crops, profits, etc. But why not name names? Where is the courage?

    Mon-san-to. Three syllables. Very easy to enunciate.

    When the name isn't said the issue becomes too amorphous, instead of a specific evil-doing corporation with stock traded on the NYSE, offices in almost as many countries as the U.S. military, and world headquarters in suburban St. Louis, in a place called Creve Coeur to be exact. It's important to be able to put a place and associate a facade with the perpetrators. Everyone knows about the caves of Bora Bora; Creve Couer is the site of corporate ecological, agricultural and economic terrorism and the workplace of those who lead and support those selfsame efforts resulting in the dire effects Mr. Berry was bemoaning.

    When in the mid-1930s Tennessee Williams wrote his play about the blighted social hopes and devastated romantic expectations of four lonely women--A Lovely Sunday in Creve Couer--he could not have anticipated the location of Monsanto's world headquarters. But it's one of those gifts of divination sensitive poets possess. Creve couer, of course, means heartbreak.

    It must be a sign of something, laxness if nothing else, that the Monsanto execs weren't sufficiently troubled by that vibration to plant themselves in a more felicitously-named spot or "suggest" the burb be renamed. It's not too late. Here's a link to an anagram site displaying the results of the letters comprising Agent Orange, an early and durable Monsanto cash crop.

    There are many good ones; maybe Enrage Tango?

  2. Monsanto is one of the great evil forces of our time...

    as for Berry, he's written probably hundreds of essays on these issues, lived since 1965 on his own 125 acre organic farm not far from where he grew up. Spent a life speaking out, and living what he believed... teroir. I would have trouble finding fault with him on questions of courage in living by one's convictions.

  3. We make a good team, don't you think?

  4. Course, for a team, you need one with money, one with brains. Two of the same end up spinning their wheels.

  5. The law of thirds, on the other hand, as pointed out by the Greeks...

    The clown always drops his pants on the third try...

  6. Maybe it's the risible temperature making me prickly and impatient, but send in the effing clowns already, wouldya! There really (and I cannot emphasize this enough) ought to be clowns!

  7. Hey, they run the whole show! ... and it ain't funny