Friday, May 28, 2004

An American Story 

Democratic Underground published my new essay today. Here's the link, and a short excerpt:

The America I Know
By Violet Lake

"My mother and father chose to pursue the promise of a better life, in exchange for living our lives among our extended family. I'm sure it's one of the most difficult choices they've ever made. Remarkably, the majority of families are here as a consequence of the same choice. We are essentially a nation of immigrants, culled from humanity according to a distinct combination of character traits: a tendency to favor idealism, a fondness for adventure, the ability to adapt, and a willingness to work hard. This progressive collection of traits forms the basis of the celebrated 'American character.'"

Thursday, May 20, 2004

A "Culture War" Battleground 

If you're interested in checking out one of the most vicious battlegrounds in the "culture war," visit Abuzz.com.

This isn't a call to arms or an advertisement for Abuzz, but I am recommending a visit--if you want to see how an unmediated free-for-all plays out in this toxic political environment. In my opinion, it's the only consistently interesting forum on the web--other than the Democratic Underground. Before you go, I'd like to give you a little info and share a few observations to help you get the most out of your visit.

One of the first things you'll notice is that Abuzz is a service of the New York Times. Because of its pedigree, Abuzz has registered over a million members, although most have been driven away by the unrelenting politically motivated combat. Predictably, some of the dedicated combatants are vocal opponents of the NYT and the "liberal media."

A few years ago, Abuzz was a thriving forum, living up to its promise as a "knowledge sharing community" for "knowledgeable, intelligent people." Due to financial considerations motivated by the dot-com bust, the NYT all but abandoned Abuzz. Operational control was turned over to Boston.com, and the management team was practically eliminated. In the absence of reliable mediation, Abuzz gradually degenerated into a no-holds-barred ideological slugfest.

On top of the unavoidable verbal abuse, Abuzz's software has a noteworthy flaw that allows member names to be duplicated. As you can imagine, this flaw is exploited mercilessly by a few individuals with malformed scruples. Fortunately, every account has a unique identification number, and a core group of dedicated members do their best to "out" imposters--and add an air of sanity to an otherwise surreal demonstration of the First Amendment.

In addition to stolen aliases, the mal-scrupled use spamming to great effect. They have refined it to a thread-trashing science. Amazingly, with just a few responses, virgin threads are victimized with vulgar invective--deviously formatted to make the thread nearly impossible to scroll through. If you're shocked by what you read on right-wing sites, you'll be thoroughly appalled by the right-wingers on Abuzz. But don't be surprised if you find yourself dismayed with the behavior of a few of the progressives.

On the positive side, there are several interesting threads every day, some of which turn into fascinating debates and discussions. Many of the members are exceptional people.

Again, I'm only suggesting that you have a look. The best way to start is to click on "New Interactions," and look through a few pages of thread headers. Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Predator's Revolution 

The object of humanity is to transcend the animal within. Evolution has gradually equipped us physically to accomplish the feat. The history of civilization is the record of our progress. We are the latest incarnations.

Despite the countless warnings recorded in the lives of our predecessors, we still conceive and practice philosophies that give primacy to--or mystify the nature of our relationship with--the animal within. Consider the words of John Kenneth Galbraith:

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

It is true that predators come in many guises, but modern conservatism is essentially a predatory ideology--and a natural fit for the animal's acolytes, apologists, and appeasers. When it became the de facto ideology of power, "conservatism" united the predators under its banner. Now, after four years of assaulting modern civilization, it has become clear that they are engaged in nothing short of a revolution.

Welcome to the predator's revolution; a revolution engineered by, and fought for the benefit of the powerful. Of course, most revolutions are engineered by, and fought for the benefit of the powerless--usually in pursuit of greater liberties. Not this time...

Although this inverted revolution will inevitably yield additional tragedy, it can be interpreted as a positive sign regarding humanity's progress. It indicates that civilization has become a threat to predators, and humanity has reached a milestone in its struggle to transcend the animal within. Perhaps it also signals the end of an era--and a new beginning.

Civilization cannot allow the predator to prevail. Humanity is already intimately familiar with a world dominated by animals. We are made for better things. Not only do we have the unique ability to go against our animal nature; we also have a mandate written in blood.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The course is a curse, of course, of course... 

As a consequence of their savage wisdom, the neoconservatives have maneuvered themselves into having to pretend to be the champions of liberal internationalism. The problem is that they know less about internationalism than they do about liberalism, and they demonstrate equal contempt for both. If the consequences of their actions were not tragic, it would be pleasing to contemplate such a magnificent irony.

They have the option to admit failure and call for help. Or, they can "stay the course."

I would bet that they'll "stay the course," because they have too much invested in the "course." And of course, getting off the "course" entails accepting responsibility for their failures. Unfortunately, their failures include a collection of acts that are criminal by almost every standard. Because of this, they'll let the "course" lure them to the precipice--where it ends naturally.

Let's hope they don't drag us all over the edge.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The Liberal Renaissance 

For America's liberals, this has also been a golden opportunity to show what they're made of. Unfortunately, in addition to being at a distinct disadvantage politically, liberals are also undergoing a crisis of identity, which compounds the difficulty of their position. Fortunately, after witnessing--and enduring--4 years of right wing outrages, liberals are finally beginning to realize the nature of their mission.

Honorable people are also easy to spot in situations that favor killers.

Crisis and chaos are the only reliable means for testing--and exposing--the quality of individuals. Thanks to the neocons, we have chaos and crisis of sufficiently threatening proportions. It's show time for the people who love life, value honesty, and believe in human decency.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

When in Iraq, do as the Iraqis do. 

When visiting less civilized nations, the vast majority of Americans are quietly appalled at the human condition they witness. Their discomfort is amplified by the very human guilt they feel--merely for being powerless in the presence of cruel injustices. For these good folks, the experience refines their sense of empathy, and imparts a deeper appreciation for what they have at home.

On the other hand, there are Americans who readily adapt to an environment of cruel injustices. They comfortably assume a privileged status and proceed to explore the darker side of human nature. One man's tragedy becomes another man's entertainment and ego gratification.

Some people are natural killers. They're not hard to spot--in situations that favor killers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Anthropophobia (fear of people or society) 

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
-John F. Kennedy

From Kennedy's time to the present, the conservative movement in America has defined itself as a reaction against the humanist liberal revolution in American society that Kennedy himself ushered in. He gave conservatives the first clear glimpse of a future where their kind will be relegated to the status of anachronistic oddities. He gave them a glimpse of an evolving reality that--at best--can only be postponed temporarily.

Rather than allow the new liberalism to be judged in the open market--which presumably will inevitably lead to their obsolescence, conservatives have fought to undermine it. Fueled by an inexhaustible supply of boundless pragmatism, over the years their mission mutated to become the antithesis of the vision for America that Kennedy championed. Somewhere along the way, a strategy to undermine became an imperative to annihilate what was once grudgingly accepted--by more sober minds--to be the natural and logical evolution of the principles that the U.S. government was founded on. By crossing this line, 21st century American conservatives have effectively declared war on the very society that produced them. They have willingly assumed the roles of villains in history's never-ending reality show.

"Neoconservatism" is an uber-fascist ideology, couched in the language of America's liberal democratic tradition. History teaches modern tyrants to disguise their intentions--preferably in the language that most people are suckers for: the language of freedom. By destroying the line between truth and falsehood, they have cynically manipulated their nation to fear its people. And now they have the monopoly on power that they always craved.

This has been their golden opportunity to show what they're made of. After 3+ years of fearmongering, staggering incompetence, and lies, it's becoming clear to a majority of Americans that neoconservatism has few--if any--redeeming qualities.

One positive thing that can be said about America's predicament is that the nature of its illness is becoming apparent.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Operation Iraqi Abuse 

"Leadership is not manifested by coercion, even against the resented. Greatness is not manifested by unlimited pragmatism, which places such a high premium on the end justifying any means and any measures."
-Margaret Chase Smith

The armchair surgeons of world "liberation" are learning the meaning of the word "reality." When plotting the mendacious course that brought us to this point in history, they never imagined that their unlimited pragmatism would bear such a bitter fruit.

They underestimated the power of the exquisitely evolving liberalism that drives modern Western civilization. They underestimated the power of the will of the Iraqi people to resist domination. And they underestimated the power of the information revolution.

Revelation by revelation, our "leaders" are being exposed as frauds, and their actions recognized as the predictable machinations of moral savages and intellectual midgets. They are history's latest antagonists. It sobers the modern mind to realize that--once again--they're running the show.

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