Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Chivalrous Terrorists of Ukraine

Admittedly, it is not easy to explain why a Czech ex-pat after a Russian invasion in 1968 living in Canada would side with Putin on Ukraine. It is not easy to explain for a number of reasons. First, people – even the bright lights - are badly misinformed and lacking factual grounds to make valid calls about what is going on in Eastern Europe.  They fall prey to crude propaganda and make patently false assumptions about the hostilities. Second, and further, it has become a feature of the decline of democracy in the West generally, to take a dissenting political opinion as simply a different approach to problems to be analyzed and critiqued, but as an exhibit of some combination of obtuse incompetence, moral depravity and lunacy.  The political polarization has become so pervasive that it makes a political dialogue impossible, and in fact redundant. Grandstanding and personal attacks have replaced a reasoned debate. In the electoral manipulations, it is not words and meanings that convince the masses. Winning is everything and the winner will be the one who can discredit the opponent(s) better. The style perhaps best exemplified by Ann Coulter and her struggle against the lying Liberals who are traitors to the Republic and who attack her ad-hominem.  Of course, in the logic of this culture of brainless recriminations, a Czech ex-pat of a 1968 Russian invasion who sides with Putin on Ukraine must be an idiot, or a paid agent or a pathological liar. 

It is interesting to observe how the MSM has fixed the naming of the actors and acts on the Ukrainian steppes.  The Kyiv government are the good guys, the underfunded, underequipped underdog fighting Russian invaders.  Kyiv’s paramilitary force is called National Guard. ( A word of explanation is called for here. The Russian and Ukrainian languages distinguish between narodnyi, in the sense of ethnic nation or a people, and natsionalnyi, as in state-national. The Ukrainian National Guard is Natsionalna hvardiya Ukrayiny.  The Russian speaking Ukrainian nationals in revolt against the current regime that seeks to suppress their Russian ethnicity, are called separatists and terrorists.  Russia’s support for the rebellious regions is called mischief, and assault on Ukrainian sovereignity and attempt to bend the Kyiv government to its will.   More than a quarter million Russian-speaking Ukrainian nationals in Russia are now called refugees, but until their numbers swelled in June they were called Moscow’s invention Got that ?  Good.  So let us see how all that works.  

Is the Kyiv government the good guys? Well, it is relative. Are they good guys relative to whom? Putin accuses the Kyiv government of waging war on its own people, which of course has more than a grain of truth in it.  Are they as bad as the Nazis?  That sort of comparison seems to be Putin’s narrative for domestic consumption, and really is counter-productive if he is serious about a political settlement of the conflict. The last thing needed here is more trash talk.  It would be enough to say that the large scale attacks on urban areas by Kyiv forces are unnecessary and shameful, and certainly merit condemnation in the West which roundly criticized Israeli large scale – even if precision – bombing of civilian areas in Gaza.  The added problem with justifying the Donetsk rubble is that there are no missiles flying from there in the direction of Kyiv, Lviv  and Rivne.

The apparently insoluble political conundrum in the Ukraine today arises from a fanatic definition of Ukrainian nationality. The exclusionary, oppressive view of national identity espoused in Kyiv not only flies in the face of an ostensibly multicultural Europe but the very notion of civility in our world. Yulia Tymoshenko’s now infamous histrionic threat of nuking the eight million Russian speakers in Ukraine is descriptive of this ugly phenom even though hers was more an angry blowing of steam rather than a statement of policy.  But still, the post-Maidan Ukrainian politics seem awash in such outbursts of irrationality and ill-will toward Ukrainian Russian speakers. President Poroshenko flew into a rage in the beginning of the month when the Verkhovna Rada (the parliament) refused to pass his bill naming the Luhansk and Donetsk republics “terrorist oranizations”. He called the deputies “fifth column” and dissolving the legislature.  This was posturing but here are of course the real McCoy Nazis in Ukraine who do have influence and do shape public policy whose favours are being curried. One of the most vocal Russophobes is a Svoboda deputy Iryna Farion, who gained notoriety by berating four- and five-year olds in a kindergarten for having Russian first names. Here is how she defended her action in a TV debate.  You don’t need to speak Ukrainian to understand one very important thing about what is going on there – the divisions are deep and hopes for a civilized dialogue slim. One faction's hero is another faction's terrorist. 

Are the Russian militants in the East separatists ?  It is safe to say today that the great majority of the Russian speakers in South-East Ukraine and in refugee camps in Russia do not want anything to do with the new political model of Ukraine which is ostensibly pro-Europe but relies heavily on political support of the fanatically anti-Russian portion of the electorate.  Such union simply is a non-starter. And as the conflict lingers on, chances for even a loose federation with Kyiv vaporize fast even though the rebels called themselves Ukrainian federalists before hostilities started.  The mutual loathing grows rather than diminishes.

As for terrorism, this is a really curious epithet given that not a single act of terror against Ukraine inside or outside the defended regions have been perpetrated by the militias.  I looked hard but I failed to find even a single instance of some brutality against a civilian and political target that could be pinned reliably on the Russian-speaking fighters. That is truly odd – for supposedly terrorist organizations.  Imagine ISIS opening a humanitarian corridor for Assad fighters fleeing Taqba air base.  Kinda’ hard, isn’t it ?  So this Putin kind of terrorism must be some some kind of sinister new brand. It does not use women and kids as hostages (even where going is rough); it flies the stripes of a Christian saint and recognizes chivalry as virtue.   

Oh yeah, the plane, the plane…almost forgot ! The militias shot down a passenger plane or so they are still accused though the findings of the investigators of the destruction of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are now an officially guarded secret. Why would that be ?  Does this make sense in the narrative of the US State Department and the Kyiv government which maintains that the plane was shot down by the rebels ? The Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution condemning the act as terrorism before any forensic evidence was available from the site. Why would Kyiv want to suppress the findings if they confirm the accusation of wholesale murder by the separatist, terrorist, Moskali scum ?  My oh my !  What a strange world we live in !

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beware of the Bear !

It is a sure sign of the times that amid the hopeless and unmanageable mess that the US is fast becoming domestically and the mindless super-shitdisturber is has become in the world, the Dow Jones Industrial Average keeps rising and setting new records.  Amazing, isn't it. The mood is almost as jubilant as Hitler was in his bunker under the Chancellery on learning that FDR was dead. Fuehrer's optimisim was short lived. In less than two weeks Zhukov's shells were exploding overhead and his increasingly insane plans to turn the tide around morphed into a solemn resolve to kill Eva, Blondie and the genius who lay the foundation of the Ten Thousand Year Reich.

     So beware investors ! The Bear is surely coming and the second superpower Granfalloon is following its one-time nemesis to the fast exit from history. It will not be pretty. The US economy lives without a manufacturing base; it has not much to sell as better or cheaper copies of everything are readily available in a free-trade world; it imports energy by hundreds of billions; its Treasury is seventeen trillion dollar in the red and the debt and trade imbalance grow by the day.  So pardon me if I perceive the plan to the re-enact a cold-war victory over Russia to slow things down as a sign of terminal insanity comparable to Hitler's attempting to blitz the Red army away from Berlin.

     Pardon me also for saying that kissing the Saudi ass as a Middle-East policy that trumps a principled political support for Israel as the only democracy in the region, is a sure sign of dementia - not simply incompetence. The US missed two glorious opportunities to deal with the most poisonous oil spill in the world, the creeping medieval scourge of Islamism: first proactively by removing Faisal in 1973 to pre-empt the monstrously skewed "resource-based" world economy, and then reactively, by re-asserting its control over the Saudi oil riches permanently after 9/11, ie by an occupation a la Japan 1945, with an accelerated internal reform toward a Western-style democracy.  This of course would have been the sane and intelligent response to an unprovoked attack on the US that would  have sent chills down the spines of the caliphate-mongers, not to speak of instantly emptying their pockets. Surely, this would have been not just the better course of action, but one that would have been way, way, way more cost effective than going to Iraq and Afghanistan!   But naturally if you are demented why would you wage a short winning war for principle and profit from it, when you have an opportunity to wage two longer ones that are a losing proposition in all respects. 

    Surely, John you are mistaken ! (John Robson, The Ottawa Sun, Myth of 'international community', 28, 2014)  There is an international community and it is watching.  It sees what you see but draws different conclusions than you do. In the case of Hamas , the perception is somewhat complicated since the Obama and EU bureaucrats are hugely anti-Israel. But since they have never been less popular with the electorates, the media's criticism of the IDF shelling is somewhat muted this time around. Most people in the streets around the world want Hamas gone - by and large they are simply shell-shocked by the human cost of the operation.  There is little popular support for Hamas, except among the usual suspects. The ten thousand protesters in London on the last two Saturdays testify far more to the creeping islamization of the city's outer borroughs than a popular sentiment. BBC call-in shows show clearly there is a large sentiment abroad for Israel's plight.

    There is, contrary to what you believe, no big sympathy in the international community for Putin either. In Europe, the situation in the Ukraine is of course seen differently than over here, especially with respect to the hyper-nationalist ideology which threatens to destabilize the whole of Ukraine, not just the East. No European politician would be seen shaking hands with the likes of Dmytro Yarosh (He is now wanted by the Interpol). But Europe is leery of Putin after his repatriating Crimea without blinking an eye. They are afraid of him because he knows what he wants and they don't. Merkel, who holds the EU trump cards, seems hopelessly torn between Bismarckian Realpolitik and the FickendieEUundPutinPolitik on offer by the current breed of geniuses in the State Department who bug her cell phone. She naturally holds to keys in exerting the right kind of pressure on Kiev to come to terms with the East and accede to some form of federal compromise for the country. The place cannot be brought back to normal otherwise. Putin (or for that matter any viable Russian leader) will not allow it. Moscow is the go-to regional power there and cannot abide Ukraine to become a part of a hostile military block. Putin knows better than anyone that the Maidan charade cannot last because essentially Ukraine is politically what Russia was before Putin, a noisy cackle of oligarchs and political operators fighting each other for bigger bowl of kasha and personal fiefdoms while letting the country go to pot.

       So, the problem with Putin appears to be above all that he gets things done where Obama fails miserably.  You may be contemptuous of the "supposedly emerging giant economies" of the newly formed BRICS but it is a formidable achievement (just think of it, bringing China and India together !), and one that may change a lot of things about how the world economy operates.  Most financial experts know this.   And it is not only the strength and sustained growth of the aggregate GDP but above all their combined assets-to-liabilities ratio which will be the telling factor in the competition with the US and Europe. Mythical or not, the international community registers all this.

        Likewise, with the downing of the the MH17 jet.  I am sure many in the body which you deny exists would see through the pathetic straw man of the plane with "preloaded dead bodies". Yes, there are stupid people in Russia who create noise.  But what I find interesting is that you would quickly snatch that in the face the much more plausible conspiracy theory advanced by some senior figures in the Russian military, namely that the plane was brought down not by a surface-to-air missile but a sidewinder weapon fired from a Ukrainian jet. From my vantage point this seems a much more probable "alternative" theory of the plane's demise, given the amount of time a crew of a BUK battery would have to detect and figure the trajectory of the coming plane for the wreckage to end up where it did. (The Donetsk airport control tower is closed btw. It could not have provided infor on the plane's course). You realize of course Russian intelligence listens to everything that is going on in the Ukraine. So when a mysterious Spanish traffic controller tweets that it was a jet belonging not to the military but to the Ukrainian Security, it just might be a way for the Russkis to let you know you are not fooling anyone by that pointing finger. Incidentally, you have noted I am sure that Kiev's military started a new offensive to get control of the crash site the moment the rebels came to an agreement with the Malayisan airline giving the investigators full access and control of the area. Why would they want to do that ?   I am not saying I know I am only saying some myths are evidently more mythical than others.  And the Bear is coming soon,  you can bet on that.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

In Praise of Intelligent Women



There she is: bright, vivacious, gifted, rebellious, coy, untamed. Impossible to fit into any stereotype, including the modern feminist one. How does a women's studies scholar begin to assess a woman who says she wants her lover to be "handsome, ruthless, and stupid" ?  Of course the prof  can identify with the "stupid", and even "handsome" if she hails from the scholarly minority which does not consider heterosex to be a federal crime. But "ruthless" ?  How can any woman joke about violence against women ?  Well, evidently Dorothy Parker did not know about that since that terminus technicus was only born after she left the bar for good. (Best as I could track it, the abominable, ubiquitous libel on men comes from the coterie around Andrea Dworkin, the foul-mouthed former prostitute and dick-hater, who joined NYRF cca 1972). No, Dorothy was not a real feminist, unless of course you are a fan of the femme fatale version of the creed, pioneered by Germaine Greer (whose professed taste in men similar to Dorothy Parker, and to that of Diane Houpfle, a dominatrix character from Thomas Mann's Confessions of Felix Krull...).  In the featured quip above which which belongs to a collection that made Dorothy immortal, she even waxes lyrical about about being date-raped on account of her diminished capacity to resist.
         Times sure have changed from the days of Simone de Beauvoir, who noted that "our species are distinguished by the possibility of a sexual congress with a relatively unexcited female", and that sexual violence, such as it was, was mostly known "in the country and where manners are rough".  
"A man and a woman",  she wrote in The Second Sex, "are intimidated by the fact they are different: he feels pity and concern for her, he feels bound to treat her with courtesy, indulgence, restraint; she respects him and fears him somewhat; each is careful to spare the mysterious other, being uncertain of his or her feelings and reactions. Seems right to me, but then of course, Dorothy and Simone lived in an age when we in the West had a sense of identity in which fairness, justice and civility were the defining elements. They would defeat any sort of exaggerated sense of grievance, or reading of history in which some defining characteristic of one human group, be it professed beliefs, class, race or sex, would triumph over the highest categorical imperative that has guided us through history, namely the necessity to be, and act, human.      

Sunday, April 27, 2014

WaPo's Nazi-free Ukraine

      In one of the ascerbic Serbian political jokes told in Belgrade 1999, Mirjana (wife) wakes up Slobo (Milosevic) in the middle of the night, all panicked: "Wake up, wake up, Slobo, American soldiers are outside the house ! " . "Go back to sleep" ,  Milosevic tells her, annoyed at being awaken for no good reason, "it's our border patrol !". 
     
      Let me attempt to explain the point of the joke for those unfortunate Americans who only speak  English,  have poor memory and not knowing how to google their way to reality in the Internet Tower of Babble, rely on the so-called "mainstream media" (MSM) for the news about the world around them. Of course, the joke would not have made any sense even to Madeleine Albright  or Richard Holbrooke who had their own sources, but that is a somewhat different story.  For the ordinary folk in the land of the free and home of the misinformed, Milosevic of course was an usurper who was striving to create "Greater Serbia", one properly ethnically cleansed of Croats, Gypsies, Shkiptari (Albanians) and whoever else James Rubin (and his wife) cared to declare to be his enemies. Of course, the Serbs had a different perception of Slobo, who lived his dream of Serbia as the Big Brother in the Balkan Brotherhood to his last days in the cell of the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague. His popular image was that of a slippery wheeler-dealer (most Serbs would happily concede he was "dirty") who (by 1999) was badly outmanoeuvred by the lower ranks of the US State Department, dead set to reduce Serbia to either rubble or the size of Luxembourg, or both, if need be.  The joke of course also speaks to Milosevic' acting always - even through his worst bungling - like he was in control. Hence the howler about the border patrol. 

     Reading WaPo, the great bullhorn for whatever bull Secretary Kerry is made to recite thee days by the operations directors of the State (-anarchy-in-progress) Department, one gets the impression the bull in the bullhorn is getting stinkier.  Now of course, the villain today is not some local satrap who happens to be a traditional ally of Russia, as it was during the times of the friendly Boris Yeltsin tottering in the halls of Kremlin. The villain now is the President of the Evil Empire itself who has lulled the West into believing the empire was dead, or at any rate, more concerned in getting Russia catch up to modernity.  The Post editorial board collectively warns us that it is not so:  The Russian ruler [sic] has Euroasian ambitions. Even though Putin has never quite said of what WaPo accuses him of, one should not let the truth get in the way of a really scary story.

     I carefully studied Putin's speech that the editorial references (in translation here). Vladimir Vladimirovich certainly did not articulate a nationalist version of the Brezhnev doctrine. He did call Crimea going to Ukraine an "outrageous historical injustice" but he stressed that he himself concluded the transfer of the peninsula to Ukraine in 2000, and that the issue was "thereby closed".  He also made remarks saying in effect that Russia, and he personally, considered the Crimea and the Sea of Azov deal, an investment of sorts in fostering good relations with Ukraine, a sort of "land for peace" deal. As long as the relationship between Ukraine and Russia remained friendly (and brotherly), Russia would have lived with Crimea under Ukrainian flag. However, we expected Ukraine to remain our good neighbour, we hoped that Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine, especially its south-east and Crimea, would live in a friendly, democratic and civilised state that would protect their rights in line with the norms of international law.  This cannot be read as some universal principle a la Brezhnev doctrine that gives Russia automatically the right to walk in anywhere where Russians live and impose its will.  It does not even sound like Israel's reserving the right to protect Jews from persecution everywhere. It addresses Ukraine specifically, and the issue Putin articulates clearly is this:  "we are against having a military alliance [NATO] making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit Nato sailors". 
   
       The WaPo editorial elders accuse Putin of mendacious charges in saying the provisional government has been hijacked by nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites.  Now who is being mendacious here ?  Not only do the Svoboda and Right Sector party leaders posture and talk in ways (habitually referring to Jews as "kikes" and the Russians by the pejorative 'Moskali') that are deeply embarrassing to their western sponsors but they do so openly without the slightest blush.



       It is really unbelievable that something like the hoax in Donetsk at Passover, seeking to discredit the pro-Russian protesters, can be taken seriously by American legislators even for a minute . But obviously, the likes of John McCain are past caring.  Unfortunately, for the attempts of Washington to re-write the history and the roles in them, the issue of the Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis during WWII. and the recent attempts at rehabilitation of the WWII. nationalist leaders  are impossible to hide. The protagonists are brazenly open and proud about who they are and what they want. 

      An amusing item that "corrects" WaPo's twisted perspetive on Ukraine appeared in the paper last  Thursday.  At issue are leaflets dropped from  a military-style helicopter operated by Ukrainian Security in the East warning the peaceful population against the pro-Russian terrorists and offering guidance how to protect their lives and those close to them. I repeat: it was a military-style helicopter which apperas to have been associated with the Ukrainian government offensive against the insurrection.  The curious item is the instruction number 5., on the list. It reads:

Avoid mass gatherings - there are agents of Russian special services among the demonstrators tasked with physically eliminating (!) all those who openly criticize Russian policies.  They will use you as "human shield"  as the occupiers of the Soviet Union did in the period of 1941-45.

Hmmm....thank you very much Washington Post for offering this curious piece of evidence for the existence of neo-nazi ideology within the current Ukrainian government.  Of course, places like Dniepropetrovsk and Donetsk were part of the industrial heartland of Stalin's Soviet Union (Donetsk was actually called Stalino at the time). They were part of Russia before the Soviet Union came into being.  So, the Soviets were not occupiers there (that despite the crime of Holodomor, which pace Solzhenitsyn was a mass political murder motivated by ideology rather than nationalism: I agree). So this piece of "history" sure will not fly in the Eastern Ukraine, and not just among the Russian speakers. There, like among most WaPo readers, Hitler and his national quislings were enemies not only of the Soviets (bad as they were) but of civilized humanity.
       

Saturday, April 19, 2014

'Rape as Culture' is Feminazi Newspeak

      In today's Ottawa Sun, Anthony Furey ponders the feminazi academic Newspeak of 'Rape Culture' which will bear no dissent.  It appears to him that 'the debate is settled. Even though most people didn't even really know what it is'.  Of course, Furey is right, but unfortunately pleading ignorance has never been a good way to win an argument.

    It has been one of the curious fixtures of recent history that the origins of some of the most powerful political neologism that define our age remain profoundly obscured. The Victorians knew where 'Descent from the Apes' came from. Likewise later, terms like 'class struggle', 'Oedipus complex', 'Iron Curtain', and 'cult of personality' have all had definite and locatable origin.

   With the feminist nomenclatura, we are not so sure.   Conferences are held world over on the subject of 'Violence Against Women'.  The UN Secretary General issues quarterly reports how to combat it.  The US has a federal law (VAWA) against it. But what is it ?  Does an individual act of brutality of one male against one female imply a cultural historical conspiracy of one gender against the other ?  Who confirmed the theoretical framework for this monstrous or inept misapprehension ?  How come internationally acclaimed feminist writers writing before 1970 know nothing about the phenomenon ?  A witness no less authoritative than Simone de Beauvoir noted that sexual violence toward young women most often happened in the country and wherever manners are rough. By deduction then it was rare among urbanites who were well-bred.  In another passage in The Second Sex, analyzing the behaviour of lesbian partners, she notes that unlike hetero situation, the feminine duo is unconcerned with dissimulation and self-control. Hence the couple may end up in remarkably violent scenes.  So, for Simone de Beauvoir, it was not as much  men’s violence against women, as it was the lack of couth that leads to uproar in the house. A man and a woman, she continues, are intimidated by the fact they are different: he feels pity and concern for her; he feels bound to treat her with courtesy, indulgence, restraint; she respects him and fears him somewhat, she endeavours to control herself in his presence; each is careful to spare the mysterious other, being uncertain of his or her feelings and reactions.  No-one else of Simone de Beauvoir's generation knew of this vicious plot against the better half of humanity. There was not a word about Violence Against Women in the final report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada 1967. Not a single word !   How could that be ?

  Simple ! Violence Against Women as a world-wide male conspiracy was not unmasked before early 1970's.  The first use that I have been able to discover comes from pamphlets issued by Andrea Dworkin on behalf of a NYRF (New York Radical Feminist)  workshop in New York.  It bears the unmistakable stamp of Dworkin's penchant for outrageous exaggeration. She claimed also eg. that all sexual intercourse is rape by definition (!),  that nine million women were burned in the Middle Ages as witches (against an estimate of twenty thousand in respectable academia), and that Caesarean Section was a "surgical f*ck" invented by perverted male doctors for their own pleasure and to disfigure women.

It may surprise Anthony Furey but the idea of the "culture of rape" has also an author whose ideas are gospel among feminazi ideologues, gospel obligingly deferred to by people like Alan Rock (now president of Ottawa U) who are liberal to the point of being clueless. Her name is Susan Brownmiller and the thesis has been expounded by her seminal work Against Our Will: Men, Women an Rape. She did not coin the term  "culture of rape" btw, it was first articulated by Wilhelm Reich,  a brilliant pupil of Freud, an inventor of a universal principle of life energy  called orgone who alas ended his days in a lunatic asylum.  The following is my assessment of Brownmiller's scholarly merits.

---   from an unpublished essay The Core Feminist Myth (2001)  ---

Five years after Millett, Susan Brownmiller took upon herself the task to show that patriarchy is a  system which condones and promotes mass rape of women.  In order to manage such a difficult and ambitious argument her book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape  would diligently strip events of their historical contexts and rearrange them in a long streaks of woes on the patriarchal flatlands. In a chapter on war, she sweeps through the Crusades, the American War of Independence (with a single incident of a Washington’s soldier hanged for rape - by mistake - presumably), forward to Kaiser Wilhelm and Stalin’s rapists entering Berlin, and back to biblical Hebrews, and Homeric Greeks molesting women at Troy.  On a fabulously  interesting subject of early Roman times she has this to say: ‘The rape of Sabine women, which supposedly led to the founding of Rome, is another famous example of woman-stealing in war, an event that captured the imagination of artists in later centuries who invariably painted the captured Sabines as full-fleshed and luscious and having a good time’. She condemns  St.Augustine because he called the co-ordinated operation in which women  had been carried off and raped,  nothing more than a dirty trick.  Later in a chapter on the Heroic Rapist  she concludes : ‘Down through the ages, imperial conquest, exploits of valor and expression of love have gone hand in hand with violence to women in thought and in deed. And so it was the poet Ovid, the Roman celebrant of love, who wrote of the rape of the Sabine women  “Grant me such a wage and I will enlist today”, setting a flippant attitude toward rape in war that has persisted for two thousand years’.

Ok, let us straighten a few miniscule problems here: first, the story of Sabines is a myth, not an actual event. The mass abduction did not happen in war but in the story was casus belli itself. The act of women-stealing did not lead to the founding of Rome but the joining of warring tribes inside its walls.  St.Augustine did not condemn women-stealing Romans for mass rape because he spoke decent Latin.¨And last but not least, Ovid, rest assured, was deprived of the sight of the cavorting, luscious bodies being dragged off by macho men in the rich verdure of the Renaissance canvasses.
So, we are dealing not with an actual mass rape but a mythical time of the early years of the rule of Romulus who gathered shepherds and craftsmen for his city but could not find enough women. There was surplus women among the Sabines. The Romans pleaded with the lucky tribesmen to let some of the young women go. When the Sabine men refused, the resourceful Romans set up a ruse in the form of a sporting event.  During the contest  they grabbed the extra fair maidens among the spectators and absconded with their loot toward the walls of their city.  The Sabines  massed an army and began a war against the abductors.  What happened next is related by Livy,  a Roman historian and Ovid’s contemporary.

The captured women, said to be very angry and despondent, were given an oration by Romulus, who apologized to them and said the lawlessness only happened because their fathers refused to negotiate intermarriage between the clans. He implored them not to be overcome by bitterness but give themselves willingly to those ‘whom fate made their masters’. He  guaranteed them citizenship, and civil rights; they would all be married  properly
§ Romulus exhorted the husbands to be the best men they could be to make up for the women’s loss of family and country.   The men then each made their own apology,  pleading the irresistible force of their passion, something, the male sexist pig historian said, had a great appeal, for such is the nature of women.  
 
The war went badly for Rome. In a year the Sabine king Titus Tatius laid a siege to the city.  Then one of  the captured women changed her mind and opened a city gate to the invaders. She was crushed to death instantly by the throng that poured in. Titus Tatius took the citadel. As the final battle flared up, the rest of the Sabine captive women, some clutching their babes, stepped boldly in the middle of the fray with their fathers and brothers on one side and  their husbands on the other.  They shouted, if you want to go on killing, better kill us first, because it us who are the cause of this war, for we have accepted our fate, and our marriage bonds, and we will not betray them as we will not betray our kin. Better for us to be dead than to live as widows and orphans!
The men stopped in their tracks, dumbfounded.  Romulus and Titus Tatius signed a treaty which opened the city for  the Sabines to settle in. Honoring  the fearless women who stopped the war and saved the city founders,  Roman citizens were thereafter called Curites, after the old capital of Sabines (Cures). 
 
 This is more or less what Ovid was alluding to when crooning to Roman matrons. 

The Abduction of Sabines indeed later became ready material for some early erotica in the emerging modern European urban culture re-discovering the beauty of human body.   But there is no evidence that the Sabines were ever, anywhere, apprehended as anything else than the image of desirable womanhood, thought well worth getting into trouble for,  by desirable manhood.
Brownmiller’s impossible mishandling of the Sabines story speaks of a number of things.  In the context of these essays tracking the technological and social elements contributing to the suppression of masculinity in our times, two  are important.
 
One, the fact that books like Millett’s and Brownmiller’s can be passed around as exhibits of learning is a witness of a most serious decline in our academia and a lingering fault in our present-day culture selectors. That such ugly and transparent nonsense can go around unchallenged – unchallenged by men, at any rate - is an important indicator of something really strange and sinister going on. Second, the a-historic, here-and-now cultural bubble that breeds ideas like patriarchy , suggests that feminism is a deep throwback into the times and mores of our distant past when men and women moved around in their biologically spun social cocoons that defined their gender identity, both deeply paranoid and aversive of the other sex, and despairing  to comprehend the roots of the misery of the original sin, which assigned them mutual gender loathing.  In a touch of irony, the mindset that creates the patriarchal monstrosity operates on the psychological principle of female freedom from time and space given by the biological function of attending to immediate human needs. If you nurse babies, make house and mend socks all your life, it does not matter what century it is or whether the males in the place go out to fight Hitler or  warmongering Jewish bankers led by Churchill.  All men are the same, tous les hommes sont pareil, alle Manner sind gleich, vsjakiiie mushchiny rovniie…..


¨ ‘Rapio’ or legally ‘raptus’ means ‘abduction’ in  Latin and in modern European languages, the lawless act is traditionally referred in that manner; i.e. Entfuehrung der Sabine, l’enlĂ©vement des Sabines ,  etc.  Consequently,  the original Latin legal concept, of ‘raptus’ had very little to do with the sexual offence of rape, which the Latins called stuprum , and which was a capital offence. The abduction was not a public wrong but a civil tort against the woman's kin and its male leader under whose protection the woman lived. Blood feud in this case was legitimate if restitution was not offered and accepted. The consent of the woman to the arrangement was essential in the Roman legal code.
§  We should keep in mind the story allegedly happened some eight hundred years before it was told in this manner, but the rights for women, at the time of Ovid and Livy, included separate property in marriage, and divorce.


 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fools and Blowhards

My answer to Charles Krauthammer's op ed of 13 March:

Krauthammer starts from the false premise that Putin has an expansionist agenda. That in itself precludes any intelligent resolution to the Ukrainian crisis. The point is that Putin simply used Crimea as a negotiating chip to make the EU / US stop the support for the Kiev coup d'etat by thoroughly unsavoury characters. Putin hoped to restore the uneasy (but workable) status quo ante by allowing noises in Crimea about separation. The West would not play, thinking perhaps at the start that Putin was bluffing. He was not bluffing and the result of the Sunday's referendum in Simferopol is a foregone conclusion. Crimea will go back to Russia on short order and that's that.. Nothing president Obama can do about it with or without Charles Krauthammer's unsolicited help. The second stage of Putin's plan is open at this point but will not be much different from the first scenario. The West will either abandon doing mischief in Russia's backyard and agree on a mutually acceptable compromise, or Russia will annex the eastern regions of Ukraine. Again, my reading of the Kremlin strategy that this is going to be done swiftly, before anything in a way of an military opposition can be cobbled up to thwart it or make it long and ugly. Russia will swallow the economic consequences which will be harsh but not catastrophic, given that it has now alternative oil and gas markets in the East. Once the carveout is complete, Putin will sit on his hands and let the new bubble burst in Kiev, much like he did with Yuschenko between 2004-2010. Lesson for the fools and blowhards ? Well, Charles will tell you there will be none.

Left - Right Chasm Destroying US Democracy

Americans appear to live in a bubble. As I noted in my first blog here, some things US politicians do are so far in the left field that one would normally inquire about theirr sanity. Carter's mission to save the hostages in Tehran, Reagan's "joke" about outlawing the evil empire, Madeleine Albright's radio appeal in ridiculously accented SerboCroat to the people of Serbia to topple Milosevic, Dick Cheney travelling to Baku to convince Aliev to stop selling oil to Putin,  these are all exhibits, not of simply bad judgment but an astounding lack of  grasp of how the world operates.  There seems to be a large blind spot in the Americans' view of the world (and their own place in it), which sometimes translates into what the British socialist historian E.P. Thompson described as "dangerous craziness".  I am mentioning the political affiliation of the eminent academic to make a point : my best guess is that most Americans would instantly dismiss such a view of themselves as coming from an ideological adversary and/or an avowed America-hater. It is the property of their cultural blind spot that any negative view of America - or aspects of it - can be explained  by envy or a hostile animus to democracy.  There is no valid external view of the US if it is critical.  Write an op-ed piece to NY Times criticizing American "exceptionalism" and you are a KGB thug even though you cried at the funeral of Soviet dissident because you recognized him as a great Russian patriot.

    Problem is, Solzhenitsyn, who defined the archetypical Russian patriot's attitude to communism, distrusted America about as much as Putin does.  Why ?  It is simple.  If you are an American University graduate you would be revolted at a Saudi cleric's green light to marrying off a nine-year old. But you can't understand why the rest of the world is revolted by American politicos with average personal wealth in millions going berserk over a piece of legislation which guarantees that when a person is sick the first concern of a health-care industry would not be the prospect of making money off him or her.  You can't understand the revulsion because you are an American Idiot, who does not grasp the external view of himself.  You can't grasp why caring for the sick and helpless cannot be just another business, the same way a religion-obssessed paedophile can't grasp that a nine year-old is not a piece of ass. 

    There is yet another problem that compounds the issue.  If what passes for the liberal point of view these days had a corrective effect, perhaps there would be hope for America. But it doesn't. All it does is provide an irreconcilable alternative political fantasy. In the US foreign policy this projects as the absurd "humanitarian" wars, in which a part of country can be cleansed ethnically from people falsely accused of practicing ethnic cleansing, or a dictator in a country with a quarter of its population displaced by internal strife, accused of violating laws of war, at a moment he appears to be winning. 

   Domestically, of course, this supplies the run-away political platform which does its part in shredding the political fabric of the country.  For example, it was absolutely unnecessary and politically destructive for an American president to weigh in on one side of issues like gay marriage, the so-called Zero-ground Mosque in New York City,  or even inserting himself into an open judicial process in the trial of a killer of a black teenager. 

  I have attached Robert Reich's "Treason" pamphlet above as an example of the complementing demagoguery.  Note the hyperbolic narrative designed to set off political rage: "a small group of extremely wealthy people [seeking] to systematically destroy the US government",  "finding and bankrolling new candidates",  "intimidating or bribing many...senators and representatives..to block all [sic] proposed legislation",  "taking over state governments",  "running a vast PR campaign..to convince...of certain big lies", "buying up the media, so the public cannot know the truth".  It is not just the conservatives but also the majority of liberals who should be turned off by this inane rhetoric. How is this different from Vyshinski's denunciations during Stalin's Moscow show trials of 1930's ?  The GOP are painted as mad dogs, wreckers, enemies of the people.

   I call Reich's conspiratorial scenario inane because it promises no effect other than fostering a climate of distrust and loathing. It is not that it is completely false view of the political Right in the US, it is just that is articulated in a manner to that it ceases to be a  a political viewpoint within a civilized political dialogue. Instead it becomes an ad-hominem harangue whose sole purpose is to declare a dissenting political platform repugnant and destructive.