LE PENNISM, ANARCHISM AND THE VOTE

 

Since his wife died – a socialist who still held him in check – my French neighbour and friend in our very small hamlet has refused to vote. In his eyes all politicians are robber barons and cheats.

 

Now that the battle for the French presidency between Macron and Le Pen is on, I listen to his same old song, this time with some cute different little lyrics: Choosing between these two – so he says – is ‘voting for either the pest or for the cholera’. The difference – my neighbour and friend then adds, this for my pleasure – is that the cholera at least has some antidote.

 

But voting he won’t.

 

When still in the Netherlands I pondered the same question, even though with us it is not the presidency which was at stake, but the size of political fractions in parliament and the possible participation of a party in a coalition government. A few months long I claimed not to go and vote. In the end I did.

 

Abstentionism, if I may coin that word, always favours the wrong guys. The Brexit Referendum is a perfect example. So many young people whose interest it is to stay in Europe did not put their fiches into the urns. Also the cheating of those into voting wrongly will be sourly remembered. In the Netherlands it is that silly man with his platinum-whitened hair who seduces the fools, together with some other nationalist intellectuals.

 

 

 

Now, the interesting thing about France this Sunday is the still great contrast between La France Profonde – farmers’ territory – and the towns. France has always known a strong anarcho-syndicalist movement. And anarchism in whatever shade tends to be against parliamentarism.

 

Enzensberger – in his fine book on Spanish anarchism The Short Summer of Anarchy – argues convincingly that this anarchism is the result of the existence of a vast labour force that is or not all too long ago has been made up of agricultural workers. Anarchists always splinter and by not voting they let right-wing forces come into governmental power.

 

Such traditions have a long life and extent into  the present. This tradition holds that power should be ‘with the people’, that no hierarchy or parties should be organized. Action now and here is their motto.

 

So, with this anarchist mood in Deep France still very much present, one may expect that Le Pen gets more votes than might first be expected from the results in the first round. Many of those in the campagne who voted for left-wingers the first time, will now follow their root instinct and probably abstain.

 

One does not choose between the pest and the cholera – their alibi.

 

6.5/2017 La Roche

 

 

 

 

THE TRUMP SPLIT

Any serious visitor to the latest USA President finds himself in a real dilemma if not in a pragmatic paradox: Knowing that you are sitting at the table with a clown, though having to act as if you’re talking to the director of the circus.

Observe, if you can, the pictures of Pokerface Shinzo Abe during that open discussion of the Korean missile test at the dinner table in one of Trump’s vulgar restaurants…

[In parentheses: I wrote ‘the latest USA President…’; you’ve got to be fast, because The Trump may be out of office before you even bought tickets to his show.]

 

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At the same time The Donald himself is in a quandary. He is but a puppet on a string. Worse: A puppet on multiple strings, pulled by different marionette players. In the White House, at least according to insiders, different parties are trying to tow this doll in different directions.

Because Trump himself is ultra stupid –so at least it seems – unavoidably he has become the slave of his advisers. Slave to more masters – the Bannons and the Millers and the Priebussen and (until recently) the infamous Flynns.

Such a jam does make of one a slave torn. In case you are also a thoroughbred narcissist, it’s is bad eating cherries with one’s other self.

Moreover, Trump has all but the right figure to be a true marionette. Kleist once sang the praise of the finger-puppet as being man’s ideal state: Slim, lightly floating, a head full of beautiful and higher ideas, feet never really touching this planet.

Even suspended from so many strings Walrus Trump constantly bangs into the ground.

We are waiting for his final fall.

Sierksma 16/02/17

SWASTIKA OVER TIME

Snow on the ground! In The Netherlands by now something of a spectacle – lately, winters haven’t been good to us.

So out there and enjoying the fairy tale of a dirty world covered in a bridal gown. As if all woman are virgins, whatever their age, and as if metamorphosis is not reserved for butterflies.

 

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Even what already in mid-summer was enchanting acquires that extra touch of the improbable and, why not, of the sublime. What is normally the dome of a bandstand in Haarlem Wood, a look-through perspex roof, has now become opaque, however not loosing its charm but adding to it.

 

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Even big chunks of rotting wood are covered in this white powdered shroud. They become vital and vibrant again, loosing their normal tinge of death which they normally exude. Like a gathering of friends, ready to party.

When young, and thus infantile, I refused to wear my glasses, spectacles which I needed badly to survive the then already threatening traffic. After all, myopia of minus 10 is something to be, what!

I repeatedly told my mother that in this way I was allowed to enjoy the world without its dirt and its squalor. What’s more: Not having to look at the faces of all those other people whom I experienced as rather frightening.

My world without spectacles was a wintery world, kind of glaucoma in early life. My world was a world of books and vague views. I was a young man gazing, certainly not observing and watching

Now, this wintery miracle all around takes me back in time. This time it is sheer make belief, as by now I have plastic lenses implanted in the middle of my irises. The snow however is a good kind of swindle.

I’ve also grown up – more or less. So I have come to know what shock is. I know by now what it is to have your ideals bang, time and again, onto the dirt of reality. Yet, this was indeed a shock, late last night suddenly face to face with the windscreen of the car parked in front of our house.

 

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I am quite convinced this ugly writing in de snow was done by some adolescent kids. I do not of a sudden expect real fascist thugs around the corner of my street. But Christ – what a blow this was.

It is also a shock as far as historical consciousness is concerned. These stupid kids are living in a world of the Kadhafi’s, the Trumps, the Father Le Pens and others – so what’s a Hitler more or less? At most perhaps a figure of fun to, an icon to be used as provocation.

Over time history fades. It is not surprising when your children won’t participate in the May memorial gathering, remembering the Dead of World War II. I understand that. A little history education, though, seems advisable…

Youth, generally speaking, does not want to be reminded that what they do has already been done before, that what is happening now often looks very much like what has happened earlier – that they have parents and a past. Naturally youth considers itself the beginning, youth wants to be the origin of THE NEW. The clock starts running NOW!

Chance has it that in the middle of beautiful Haarlem Wood there is a statue of Nicolaas Beets alias Hildebrand, the man who wrote a fairy tale book on the first half of the Dutch 19th century. It is called Camera Obscura.

 

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So, good for you, Hildebrand, this magic snow on your high head and shoulders

 

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The Camera Obscura was written in 1839, just before notions of ethnic differences really turned nasty and became transformed in outright racism. What for instance in Beet’s time was still ‘anti-Judaism’ – chiefly inspired by Roman-Catholicism and the Middle Age myth of the Jews killing Christ and murdering Christian children for ritual purpose – by 1850 had become the racism and anti-Semitism advocated by the likes of Gobineau.

That man wrote his essay on the inequality of races, published in the year 1853 as Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines. One may date the beginning of that awful and also weird wave of anti-Semitism as racism in this year.

Snow all over The Netherlands… It has covered this dirty world. I can imagine myself for a wile not wearing spectacles. For a day one may bathe in the illusion of the pursuit of happiness and the reign of equality, wiling away all nastiness. So one thinks.

Then stepping out of the house at night and saying good bye to the family who came to enjoy your anniversary, there it is: An ugly swastika celebrating that ugly man’s Christian name.

Sierksma 2.2.17

BETSY DEVOS – NOT CONVINCING BUT VERY CONVINCED

The famous apple never falls far from that well-known tree, even if the apple falls in Michigan or Washington while the tree was planted in far away Holland.

Yesterday Betsy DeVos was appointed as Minister of Education of the United States of America. She is an uptight and stiff convinced branch on the Reformed Church tree, so sure of everyone’s always already given qualities.

Whether you’re a loser or a millionaire (like DeVos herself). After all, it is God’s will, who saw to it already an eternity ago. Predestination, in short.

Therefore: do not give an extra push in life to children with a start in life worse than Betsy’s. God indeed wanted it thus. Black and poor – too bad, but you must just have had the good luck to be born white and rich in God’s name and in God’s Own Country.

Now and then, of course, God has predestined a black kid to be clever. God is not a racist, what! So the couple of clever ones among American ‘coloured people’ can use their Betsy-voucher to go to a private school. All those other losers may continue to spend their predestined youth in their predestined public schools. These public schools will of course have to spend less money – as predestined by Betsy DeVos.

And let this woman be appointed now with just her toes over the dirty Senate’s ditch, thanks to the extravagant vote of Vice President Mike Pence. That man already thanked his own predestined election as an assistant to Trump to His Amazing Grace.

Pence may be more Catholic than the Pope, in terms of religious interpretation he differs very little from his own elect: Betsy DeVos. During her interrogation by the Senate this rich lass seemed to have not the slightest idea of the USA educational system – well, no point. That the changes in the educational system of Michigan, enforced by Betsy, made her state plunge into the depth of America educational quality – no point.

How these anthroposophists and other species of sophist will be rubbing their hands! Betsy will make way for nonsense courses in nonsense ‘free schools’, that is: schools without interference from the State as a century ago Rudolf Steiner so neatly defined them. Everyone his own type of school.

Sovereignty in Ones’ Own Social Sphere, as the Dutch Calvinist Abraham Kuyper conceived it in the 19th century. I was writing on apples and trees. Betsy DeVos is an apple on the tree of educational segregation planted so long ago – not a Daughter of the Revolution, but a Calvin’s daughter.

No coincidence that educational segregation and racial segregation go together so well.

Sierksma 9.2.17

BLACK BLOOD

The plebeian Trump truly reinforced his reputation when entering the inaugurational pulpit on Capitol Hill. Right throughout history authoritarian leaders have excelled in the falsification of history. Trump was merely trumping his colleagues.

He was appealing to the ‘American People’ – that spurious entity – embracing a prized saying among soldiers: “Whether you’re black, yellow or white, you’re all bleeding red.”

Well then – this is either a knockdown, even in the literal sense of the word, or it is a historical lie. Coming from Trump it is a lie plus ideological claptrap.

In the great conflicts after the Second World War – Vietnam and Iraq – much more American blacks were axed than white folks. Bush the Younger is the example of the rich whity who managed to get out of military service. He was registered as a ‘soldier’ but had a sinecure somewhere in the far north, within the borders of the States.

In these wars there flowed much more black blood than white blood, the poor bleeding much more richly than the rich.

America First! That is: First Trump; then American capital investments; then nothing else for a long time. And perhaps, a few years later, his followers may speed with 100 miles/hour over the improved roads of the country. Only though, if they can afford an expensive car.

Spooky acceptance speech it was, out there in the drizzle of Washington.

Sierksma 22/01/17

DESERT TRIAL [2]

My mother was not obedient to history, so she was punished.

Tatiana, in John le Carré’s Smiley’s People

______

 

Only the Israeli managed to ‘tame the desert’, not however on an all too large scale and basically for politico-economic reasons. All over the world where the desert is gaining terrain – from Spain to the Chinese Gobi – man has given up, knowing all too well that he is confronted with powers that should not meddled with. Covering the Moroccan desert with hundreds of thousands sun panels for tapping energy is of course the mere use of that desert, precisely for the very reason that makes its actual taming impossible: solar heat.

 

So Paustovsky and his friend Yablonski, discussing ‘the taming of the desert’, were a bit befuddled by Soviet technocratic ideology which dominated the first decades of that system. Perhaps that writer should have listened more to the ‘natives’ and not, ironically so, criticize them for their lack of semantic knowledge. I quote again from The Restless Years, a passage in which Paustovsky describes his travels in an old bus through deserty areas, driven by a chauffeur who, so he was told, ‘knows everything’:

 

– ‘Is this a mirage?’ I asked the driver.

    – He looked puzzled. He did not, I discovered, know the word ‘mirage’.

    – ‘No’ he said. ‘It’s just the steppe showing you tricks. This is nothing!’

 

Reading this it sang through my head: ‘Let the desert play her tricks which make us dream; let the icy poles in peace, exuding their incredible silences. Why tame them, when already so much of nature is ruined!’

 

Anyway, this was not the manner of thinking in those soviet decades. The period was infused with a ‘will to tame’, the socialist version of Nietzsche’s Will to Power.

 

As incidentally was the ideology of the United States. The first half of the 20th century was dominated by a technocratic belief in almighty man. And if a pious Yank considered this a little too blasphemous, he added to his technocratism a pinch of Creationist salt – an attack on Darwinism. Even if man is all powerful, master of the earth only because God created him to be so, he does not rule the universe. The paradox of those Destined to be Free Americans.

 

In the Soviet Union a different version of anti-Darwinism came in ideological fashion. Darwin’s theory of natural selection of what is ‘best’ was considered anathema. After all, such ‘bourgeois science’ only sanctioned the bourgeoisie as the ‘ruling class’, of necessity superior to the workers. By contrast, Trofim Lyssenko and other biologists created a ‘proletarian science’, based on Lamarck’s conviction that not only genetic feature but also acquired traits are hereditary. The felicitous idea was blessed by Pope Stalin himself.

 

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Trofim Lyssenko 

Lyssenko also wanted to tame that other Soviet desert – the tundra’s in the North, most of the year an icy universe covered with permafrost. A disgrace, so to say – after all ‘a country cannot afford to have deserts…’ as Paustovsky pointedly noted.

 

Lyssenko’s solution was rather unique. Betraying Darwin, he decided to have millions of forest trees shoots planted out there, this in bunches, ‘nested’ as it were, a practice based on the ‘theory’ that in this manner quite a few trees would survive the stern Siberian winters, simply because they would be ‘group-wise protected by one another’. And why not call this The Socialism of Life…

 

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Althusser wrote a preface to Dominique Lecourt’s 1979 book Lyssenko.  According to him that ludicrous socio-biological theory and its disastrous practice are not our primary interest. What should be analysed first of all is the manner in which an authoritarian system handles its errors. In short: The cocktail of Stalinism en Lyssenkoïsm.

 

Ideology is ‘lived reality’. The Soviet scientists lived the reality in which they could but think that they were true scientists, many of whom in fact were not. However they were not cheating, they were simply ‘there’ and believed in what they were doing… Why not call this Political Pseudologia Fantastica.

 

If real scientists would have handled such ‘experiments’, these would have been terminated pretty fast. A scientific experiment after all is theory-informed, intended to be defeated – it concerns trial and error, though hedged by former findings and their theory. Science is not a matter of Wild west tryouts.

 

When, however, the Soviet State is the motor behind such costly and foolish experiments – thus Althusser – it tends to be silent about failures and this for a very long time, thus prolonging and intensifying these errors. The famous soviet couple ‘Criticism and Self-criticism’, at the time practiced in every communist party in the world, functioned in fact only to criticise the critics of the regime.

 

So, even a great writer like Paustovsky was but a child of his times. He praised the soviet leaders as he praised Soviet Russia. However, in what superb language!

 

I cannot suppress my urge to add a personal note to all this. Your chronicler of lyricism and disaster was once and a long time ago, this for more than five years, a member of the Dutch Communist Party now defunct. Terrible years.

 

Just one anecdote to indicate the predicament of the critical intellectual who joins a club like that from idealistic, though very befuddled motives. At my very first meeting of the ‘cell’ I intended not to say a word, something difficult for one who loves conversation and debate.

 

At the end of the session the chairman, being polite methinks, asked the newcomer whether he would like to contribute something to the evening. Before going there I had read my evening paper, at the time the best journal in The Netherlands. So I said, using the phraseology of the party:

 

‘What does The Party think of the strikes of Rumanian miners which we are now witnessing?’

 

‘Which strikes? You must be mistaken. There is nó such thing happening in Rumania!’

 

‘But only an hour ago I read this in the NRC…’

 

‘And you believe what this outright bourgeois journal is telling you? You must be kidding! Read in our own newspaper the truth.’

 

Which is, quite significantly, also the name of that paper: De WaarheidThe Truth. Now also defunct.

 

Sierksma, 11.11/2016

TRUMP’S CHILD ABUSE

It may not be a scoop, but it sure is something new to put on the record, that Trump’s craziness is worse than we thought: He abused his own child.

Apart from the shameless content of his acceptance speech in front of his underlings – by a man who has scoffed every single minority in The States, a man who will say anything in order to sell one of his penthouses or get his hand in a pantyhose – nobody who watched it can have missed that his little son next to him was almost tumbling from the podium as a result of exhaustion, having the greatest difficulty to keep his eyes open and his little body in balance. Poor boy.

However, the soon mightiest man of the USA wanted that son close to him. It was the upbeat for a new political dynasty, something in which Republicans are pretty good. Think of the family Bush.

In the tycoon family of the Trumps The Donald was already Trump II. Now his poor boy was positioned to become Trump III. ‘Ruthlessness’ is the key word. ‘Political pedophilia’ a second best.

The name of the Republican Party is but a joke. The USA, originating in a populist fear of, and disgust in European kings and aristocrats prefer already for some time an ultimate royalism.

Also funny is that other outright perversion of the notion of populism. It has now been shown that rather a lot of white men voting for Trump have what is called ‘a higher education’. The same is true for the supporters of populist parties in for instance France and The Netherlands. So one pleads the case of ‘the people’, but one is supported by an intellectual ‘elite’.

This amounts to on the one side a rancorous popular elite, the ones with the lesser brain, going against on the other side, their more clever counterparts. It is like a new Civil War, one within the ‘elite’. Just imagine that!

Words, as the philosopher Althusser phrased it, words are never innocent. However, since his times things have grown worse: Words are becoming meaningless very fast nowadays.

Sierksma 10.11.16