Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

a year to remember...


1968 — a year to remember. The doctors had given me massive doses of antibiotics. More than to kill or cure a horse. I had to go back to Europe. Should I stayed in Africa, I would have died.


This was the year of many other events. Like most years, there is always stuff happening to our human historical condition, but we pay more attention to some items of “significance”, such as the death of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, while 3,124,976 other people keeled-over for various reasons — from wars to malaria. I had malaria as well. 

1968 was the year of yet another French “revolution”, this time inspired we are told by students and workers. After years of farting around since, the French are still in the same canoe, as the rest of the Western world, conned by the US empire in charge of paddling in circles.

Apparently, in 1968, a small item to mention here was an off-the-cuff accidental interview of Wilfred Burchett by an ABC crew in Vietnam. As a fired up David Hill, former CEO and former chairman of the ABC, reminded the Friends thereof, at their AGM meeting the other day, the tapes of the Burchett interviews, sent back to Australia, never passed customs and disappeared into the biggest black hole of forgotten journalism. Was it 1968? I don’t really know, but the hearsay that came back to Gus via the ABC news-pigeons, was interpreted as a form of “censorship”… 
The ABC is in for a battle. The defeat of the government in Wentworth would have been delivered due not in a small part to what this CONservative — under Abbott, Turnbull and Scummo — government has tried, is trying and will try to destroy the ABC. People love their ABC — as flawed as it could appear be. 

1968 was also the year of the death of Thomas Merton. We have mentioned him before in a forgotten job lot:  "I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy [Doris] Day and Thomas Merton. This year marks the one hundred and …"   etc… Merton died in unclear circumstances. But his writings still live on and provide a many people some comfort against their misfortune — often brought on by others — but the poor bastards get blamed for not having been sociopathic enough in their own self-defenced survival. On top of this, your social security cheque has been cancelled, because you’ve not been a hard working boy/girl. Crummy.

Here comes a hopeful study of Thomas Merton on OffGuardian:


Then he taught me this, as if he were Socrates asking questions. I paraphrase:

If you were Merton’s “they,” those who rule the American Empire and your oppressed subjects were restless and awakening to their plight, what message would you want to convey to keep the peons from rebelling? What strategies, short of direct violence, would be most effective in rendering even the relatively well-off middle class passive and docile? What, in other words, is the most effective form of social control, outside economic exploitation and fear of penury, in a putative democracy when all the controlling institutions have lost the trust of most of the population?

Then, without skipping a beat, he answered his own questions. You would, he said, tell them that the sky is falling, the empire is collapsing, that the rich rulers are going to get theirs when the system collapses on itself and that this is in the process of happening right now. So sit back and watch the show as it closes down. The end is near.

Then he said he had to go. Lunch was being served at the nearby soup kitchen and if you didn’t get there early, they sometimes ran out of food.

Read more:https://off-guardian.org/2018/10/28/the-apocalypse-not-now/


Thomas Merton was a Catholic monk. Yet he ecumenically embraced many religious paths. Thomas was born in France. His father was a New Zealand painter and his mother was a Quaker from the USA. Merton's messages of peace are still some that should be heard despite being filtered through strong religious beliefs, which he first espoused in Rome, on his second visit to this city. 
But the main error in the discourse above about the collapse of the “system”, is that in reality, the "Rich won’t get theirs” when (if) the system collapses. And the system won’t collapse in the way we could think. And we, oldies, those who mucked up the planet for the benefit of our twittering dumb progeny, might die before that. There’s a good chance of that. The system has strong kidneys and survives only in booms and busts for good reason. Sustainability and balance are dirty words if you’re a capitalist. Yet we, the slaves at the bottom of the cage, still hope for proper adjustments in the system, with peace and equality, rather than self-destruction. We can dream.
Here, we need to make a leap of faith away from faith, into the difficult establishment of ethics, by using our natural strengths of aggressiveness and submissiveness, to weave our relativity of purpose. This purpose is to manage our ecological subsistence (survival) without making godly fools of ourselves, while enjoying the moment, not destroy the planet and inventing better comforts... Life as such is complicated yakka, but enjoyably so. We need to monitor our impacts, personally and globally, on the equations of the natural system which could go arse up way before our own social system fizzles.
Little is said about Merton the monk falling “platonically” in love with his nurse when he was sick somewhere. But this is not a place to tarnish the memory of this man, probably under the spell of morphine, who helped many people towards their own mystical journey of positive survival. The delusion of god is an attractive escape from the grind, though god’s stuff is waning somewhat, under the more rigorous scientific — and dare I say exciting — understanding of our little place in the universe added to our goofy artistic interpretations of this irrelevance. The more we learn, the less we know. Isn’t this goodo? I love it.
In any “system collapse”, it’s mostly the poor and the second class citizens of the middle bourgeois range who suffer. The rich won’t get hurt. They have their escape pods. They have their fortresses and private armies, including lawyers and reserves of supplies. The poor people, us, have been dedicated to work for them-the-rich, under the delusion that our work has an intrinsic value, sometimes given to us as “contributing to society” with many golden valves plugging dark holes on a clarinet. We’re screwed.
Our social contribution is not in relationship with the benefits. 
We work far too hard for peanuts. 
At some stage in the capitalist system, we are encouraged to become sociopaths in order to survive: we’re told to “compete”. Competition is natural, but the way humans take it, from the sports fields to the office, it is a degrading form of grubby prostitution in which we get hurt and punched, unless we punch back necessarily. Thus, delusion in our values under “god”, is a neat trick to soften the blows. 
We should be angry. Really angry. But we are not, because we will get our cheese and our due recognition (possibly our subconscious “revenge”) in the after-life… hum... 
This ain’t going to happen. When we’re dead, we’re dead. Gone, dusted. Kaput. Vanished. Including our lovely delusions that do not go beyond our last breath. 
I know. It’s a harsh reality and most of the rich people have understood this. They decorate their own self-indulgent illusions and abodes with gold leaf and pricey works of art, but they know the limited value of their cash. They will bid against each others for sociopathic fun, while we toil with our bare knuckles, or get arranged on the slave boat of unemployment, awaiting our turn to toil. 
The social systems are built around the value of cash — both at the political and religious levels. Religions are businesses. Should we care that our social connecting networks can spy on us? To be able to sell us something? Or stop us from becoming revolutionaries?
Should we let a nice day be spoilt by our rumblings?… Is hope the best we can do? Should not we be tearing the place down and replace it with “better”? Should not we organise ourselves in phalanges in street revolutions? The only problem is there is no way we can threaten the system from a virtual soapbox. The internet lets off a lot of unusable wasted steam.
The rich are laughing their head off…
We’re screwed. Unless we wait our long-coming turn… In one of his drawings "One-Shot Dept: Vengeance” (Mad magazine #66, October 1961, p. 13), Antonio Prohías  the artists famous for Spy vs Spy cartoons (see at top), introduced an interesting concept:

A caveman kills another caveman with an arrow to the head. The dead body nourishes the living arrow, which grows into a tree. In the modern day, a motorist who resembles the first caveman crashes into the tree.

Lovely sentiment, but this tends to leave us all dead. 
Funny, though we can do better than revenge. We could stop working for the rich and the warmongers.
Gus Leonisky
Mad as Mad...

meanwhile, on a nice day....

On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered the nation’s military group that monitors the South China Sea and Taiwan to “prepare the war,” at a time when tensions between China and the US continue to grow over trade issues and Beijing’s expansion in the Indo-Pacific.

"It's necessary to strengthen the mission […] and concentrate preparations for fighting a war," according to the Chinese president, who was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV on Thursday during an inspection of the Southern Theatre Command (one of the five war zones of China's People's Liberation Army) in Guangdong province. 


Read more:


a nuclear-free world is a step-by-step process...

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council said they believe that achieving a nuclear-free world is a step-by-step process and refused to sign last year's nuclear ban, while reaffirming their commitment to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Russia, Britain, China, the United States, and France noted in a joint statement on Monday that they oppose a nuclear ban treaty and have refused to sign it.

"We firmly believe that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through a gradual process that takes into account the international security environment. This proven approach to nuclear disarmament has produced tangible results, including deep reductions in the global stockpiles of nuclear weapons," the statement reads.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council stressed that the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, which was passed at a major UN conference on July 7, 2017 and has yet to be ratified by the major powers, "fails to address" the key problems standing in the way of lasting nuclear disarmament and contradicts and "risks undermining" the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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Remember Burchett's words:

....He continued, tapping out the words that still haunt to this day: "Hiroshima does not look like a bombed city. It looks as if a monster steamroller has passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts as dispassionately as I can in the hope that they will act as a warning to the world."


Read more:






is today worse than 1968?...

Saturday, in Pittsburgh, a Sabbath celebration at the Tree of Life synagogue became the site of the largest mass murder of Jews in U.S. history. Eleven worshippers were killed by a racist gunman.

Friday, we learned the identity of the crazed criminal who mailed pipe bombs to a dozen leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

From restaurants to Capitol corridors, this campaign season we have seen ugly face-offs between leftist radicals and Republican senators.

Are we more divided than we have ever been? Are our politics more poisoned? Are we living in what Charles Dickens called “the worst of times” in America? Is today worse than 1968?

Certainly, the hatred and hostility, the bile and bitterness of our discourse, seem greater now than 50 years ago. But are the times really worse?

1968 began with one of the greatest humiliations in the history of the American Navy. The U.S. spy ship Pueblo was hijacked in international waters and its crew interned by North Korea.

A week later came the Tet Offensive, where every provincial capital in South Vietnam was attacked. A thousand U.S. troops died in February, 10,000 more through 1968.

On March 14, anti-war Senator Gene McCarthy captured 42 percent of the vote in New Hampshire against President Johnson.

With LBJ wounded, Robert Kennedy leapt into the race, accusing the president who had enacted civil rights of “dividing the country” and removing himself from “the enduring and generous impulses that are the soul of this nation.” Lyndon Johnson, said Kennedy, is “calling upon the darker impulses of the American spirit.”

Today, RFK is remembered as a “uniter.”

With Gov. George Wallace tearing at Johnson from the right and Kennedy and McCarthy attacking from the left — and Nixon having cleared the Republican field with a landslide in New Hampshire — LBJ announced on March 31 he would not run again.

Four days later, Martin Luther King, leading a strike of garbage workers, was assassinated in Memphis. One hundred U.S. cities exploded in looting, arson and riots. The National Guard was called up everywhere and federal troops rushed to protect Washington, D.C., long corridors of which were gutted, not to be rebuilt for a generation.

Before April’s end, Columbia University had exploded in the worst student uprising of the decade. It was put down only after the NYPD was unleashed on the campus.

Nixon called the Columbia takeover by black and white radicals “the first major skirmish in a revolutionary struggle to seize the universities of this country and transform them into sanctuaries for radicals and vehicles for revolutionary political and social goals.” Which many have since become.

In June, Kennedy, after defeating McCarthy in the crucial primary of California, was mortally wounded in the kitchen of the hotel where he had declared victory. He was buried in Arlington beside JFK.


Read more:



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The answer to the title question depends where you lived... If you live in Yemen, Syria, Libya and some oppressed enclave or a refugee camp for example, things are not dependant of the time and date... Day in day out you're stuffed, deaded, tortured or worse — ignored as a human being... Or you could be a polar bear the ice of which is vanishing in the sun. Your entire species is unsurvivable.

Human idiocy has been a multiplying plague on this great little planet, since the invention of the stick...

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