Water Man Spouts

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Grass Roots Soliloquy


"In the beginning, seeing, they saw amiss,
and hearing, heard not, but like phantoms huddled
In dreams, the perplexed story of their days
-- Aeschylus; Prometheus Bound

What is congress? Is the House of Representatives a collection of individuals? Individuals advocating for their constituents? Upholding that Constitution? Or is it the bee-hive, an entity that transcends the individual representative, with a life of its own?

Is the Senate like a brain, with two separate, conflicting hemispheres? Are conservative republicans other than the reptilian complex that inspire the darker impulses of our society? Was there a lobotomy that disconnected our senators’ awareness of the Constitution?

Is this a bad dream? Is congress asleep on the job? Or is it as Erich Fromm noted, that a lack of sleep has resulted in their temporary regress into "a primitive animal-like unreasonable state of mind?"

Would the current congress be cause for Carl Sagan to add another chapter to "The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence"?


"The royal palace of Belgium is still what it has been for fourteen years, the den of a wild beast, King Leopold II, who for money’s sake mutilates, murders and starves half a million of friendless and helpless poor natives in the Congo State every year, and does it by the silent consent of all the Christian powers except England, none of them lifting a hand or a voice to stop these atrocities …. In fourteen years Leopold has deliberately destroyed more lives than have suffered death on all the battlefields of this planet for the past thousand years. …. It is curious that the most advanced and most enlightened century of all centuries the sun has looked upon should have the ghastly distinction of having produced this moldy and piety-mouthing hypocrite, this bloody monster whose mate is not findable in human history anywhere, and whose personality will surely shame hell itself when he arrives there ….."
--Mark Twain; Mark Twain Himself; page 256

Oh, that Mark Twain. When I think of him, I am reminded of his speaking of "the Gilded Age." This followed the Golden Age of the US Senate, when there were outstanding leaders. Those leaders were human, and had warts and other imperfections, but they tried to honor the US Constitution.

After the Civil War, things changed. Rather than honoring the Constitution, many elected leaders went whoring after other gods. Many of them would betray the Constitution for 30 pieces of silver. Some were willing to sell their souls.

Are we entering another Golden Age? A Gilded Age paid for by increasing the national debt? Or has the congress paying for previous greed, by being reduced to something akin to a high school student council? Is it possible that we are watching High School Musical III ? How will the student council deal with King Leopold?


"A military station in the desert.
Can we resolve the past.
Lurking jaws, joints of time?
To come of age in a dry place,
Holes and caves."
--Jim Morrison; To Come of Age

The Cheney administration is a tumor on our body politic. It is threatening the life of the Bill of Rights today. The best medical text book that we have recommends removing such tumors by an operation known as "impeachment." But some of our family is too upset by the reality of the tumor. They begin to recite the reasons to avoid the unpleasant surgery.

"Doesn’t the medical text merely list surgery as an option? What if we don’t get the whole tumor? Isn’t it better to wait, and see if the tumor just disappears in 2008? And what will the tobacco industry say? It’s not that we’re against surgery; we just want more tests."

There are reasons that many of us are convinced that we do not have the luxury of dilly-dallying.

Act IV

"I remember sitting down to Christmas dinner eighteen years ago in a communal house in Portland, Oregon, with about twelve others my own age, all of whom had no place they wished to go home to. That house was my first discovery of harmony and community with fellow beings. This has been the experience of hundreds of thousands of men and women since the end of World War II …. Hence the talk about the growth of a ‘new society’."
--Gary Snyder; Earth House Hold

About a month ago, watching a documentary ("Commune") on the Sundance Channel, I couldn’t help but think of progressive internet communities. The film was about a commune of hippies, called the Black Bear Ranch, in California. In the turmoil of the 1960s, there were many similar communities across the country. They were trying to create that "new society."

The people at Black Bear Ranch were doing pretty well, until a quasi-cult came to visit. These were a group of people who called themselves the Shiva Lila. The Shiva Lila were not cops or narcs or Young Republicans. Rather, they were intelligent people, who wanted to be hippies, but who had such severe personality pathology that they disrupted the commune. The good folks at the Black Bear Ranch eventually found it necessary to ask the Shiva Lila to pack their bags.

Within the progressive communes on the internet today, there are similar things taking place. This is related to, but yet distinct, from the normal give-and-take that can and should be found on sites that feature discussions about progressive political/social issues. Debate is good; disruptions are not.

The internet allows people, including those that Gary Snyder spoke of, to sit down together in another type of communal house. It presents the opportunity to discuss and debate important issues, to harness our energies and coordinate our efforts to create that new society. An electronic neocortex of sorts.


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