Philosophy

Conservatives finally broke the world…

… with help from my mom and dad


So I’m sitting on my balcony with a friend of my friend. The friend of my friend is black, from Jamaica, and looks like he might have some Indian blood mixed in there, too.

It’s an uncomfortable muggy July evening and we’re eating a chickpea stew over couscous from white Dollarama bowls. Our thoughts turn, don’t ask me how or why, to immigration, and this guy, Alex, says to me:

“The refugees get all these beautiful town houses, for free. They get more than you get on benefits.”

And after I mentally rehearse the vomiting up of a full bowl of couscous and chickpeas in spicy tomato sauce then the post-puke dabbing of my lips accompanied by a final, raucous belch, my heart seizes up and falls out of my shirt like a lump of concrete.

I’m thinking, “I’m a sixty-three- no I don’t, do I? year-old white guy and I have to explain to a black guy that refugees do not get all these beautiful town houses for free. I have to explain to a black guy that he’s repeating these fake news stories and urban myths and being racist.”

So that’s why I jumped off the eighth-floor balcony and landed on my feet, crunching my legs right up into my pelvis, which has meant having all my trousers re-hemmed and also turning in all my opera tickets for the COC and exchanging them for supernumerary work any time they stage “Rigoletto.”


I grew up, like any mid-range Boomer, inside a normal, white racist household, with a normal, white racist mom and dad. My mother, who did the talking for both of them, cleaned up nice and, when meeting a new department store charge card, would skip the introductions and press it tearfully to her bosom like Dorothy hugging Toto after his escape from Elvira Gulch’s basket.

I’m not going to even try to list the racist epithets and bons mots, but I do recall, “Barbra Streisand just opens her big J—–h mouth and yells”, an example of WASP musical criticism. Jews, and Italians, who were also Catholics, got kind of lumped together, and these people were not strictly “white” because, you know. Ethnic.

Ethnic meant colorful, so Gary and Adelina, the only Italians in Whitby, served as, you might say, the town throw cushions who lived three blocks down the street, throw cushions in black velvet and gold braiding and “Souvenir of Niagara Falls” stitched on the front. Ethnics were not expected to have or represent good taste, which for WASPS means how many shades of beige and cream can you deploy in one room. You’ll never go wrong with beige, my dear!

So we toddled along, making do with Italians and Jews, maybe the odd Polish Catholic if you were really desperate, in order to discharge our Anglo-Saxon bile and make them be the cause of things, rather than the cause being our obnoxious self-regard and personal manifest destiny.

And then of course came the sixties! Lyndon Johnson and civil rights, and race riots, and MLK Jr, and suddenly my mother and other family members were able to process the dusky Europeans into “white,” and focus on figuring out what to do about these new shiny black people.

We’d literally, in Whitby, Ontario, never seen a black person live. They existed only on American TV and in the pages of my children’s encyclopedia, god help me, where they were called “Negroes,” (the new N-word) and where it was suggested that they were “good at sports and as entertainers, even scientists!”

Well, pick that cotton to a chorus of “Mammy” and stick a jockey on the lawn, who knew?

My parents didn’t really say much that was bad about black people. The whole concept was so fantastically alien it eclipsed any concept of ethnic, leaving most people at a loss for words.

And so we went back to watching Judy Garland singing “Swanee,” her face loaded with more boot-polish than the entire U.S. infantry, in our leafy all-white enclaves, breathing a sigh of relief that we wouldn’t have to deal with integration. We considered black neighbors to be a rare, slightly suspect and peculiarly American custom.

I mean, if they’d just pull themselves up by the bootstraps, maybe they coulda been white? You know?


Thinking more about my mom, which reassures me that she’s still dead, I am reminded yet again about Trump’s comments that “the Squad” should “go back to their own countries.”

My mom did the same thing with sofas. This is a direct analogy. She would invite a sofa into our home — say, in coral silk or blue brocade, cover it in heavy plastic and, for a while, the two would co-exist happily.

This was “the honeymoon.”

Then, of course, as in any relationship, the sofa would begin to get ideas. We’d get up in the morning and the sofa would somehow have thrown off its plastic cover in the night, or it would deliberately heat up when you sat on it, so you’d be sitting in an embarrassing puddle of sweat. The valance on the bottom of the sofa would begin to fray. High and mighty, I call that.

My mother would not stand for any show of sofa independence. Sofas had to know their place: to please her, to be a source of comfort, and above all to exact the high interest rates that would keep her relationship with the Robert Simpson Company well-oiled and meaningful and my father permanently on the road earning too little money.

The day came that she would no longer be speaking to the sofa. This was the contempt period, following, like a case of crab lice follows hooker sex, the last gasp of the honeymoon and the nano-second period of contentment; for my mother was a consuming soul as restless as the westward wind, that wayward wind that’s sure to wander.

I don’t know if my mother ever told a sofa, “Go back where you came from.” But soon after the contempt came the delivery men, rolling their eyes, for this ritual was repeated once, twice, three times per year. My mother would get a full refund and a new sofa, this one more compliant, less uppity, than the one before.

You just have to be absolutely clear who’s boss.


Conservatives, most current among them Donald Trump, the Great Mouth Breather, have finally done it. They’ve finished the work that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and the two Bushes started, not to mention de facto conservatives like Bill Clinton.

They’ve ruined the world, broken the social contract, turned everyone against the people who should be their allies, namely all the other people, and made division an agenda.

Democracy is gone, busted, kaput. There is no longer any representative democracy, because the representatives just want to represent their ideology and redraw the boundaries to ensure their ideology gets woven so tightly into the law that plucking our own eyes out would be easier than unweaving it.

For a liberal, pluralist democracy to exist, we all have to agree on some basic principles: we have to realize that democracy is first and always about human rights, equality, justice and dignity, and we have to agree what this means.

Liberalism is incremental, contextual, progressing slowly as we learn. It’s not black and white, revolutionary or impatient. That’s why “the wheels of justice grind slowly,” and why Trump complains about that very slowness of the legal system. But justice demands time: for gathering evidence, for preparing a defense, for weighing of rights and responsibilities, for understanding mitigating factors. For presumption of innocence.

We have to agree that there is a role for government; that government is the best deliverer of universal services, and that these are not frills, and that to deliver services does not entail “stealing taxes,” but rather creating insurance programs not motivated by profit.

This is because we agree that government is not a business, but a trust representing our ideals in action. That leaders of our countries are not accountants, but visionaries who make us better together than we would be individually.

We have to agree, for example, that health care, and affordable housing, and hospitals and the utilities that consume our country’s resources which we collectively own, and day care for our youngest citizens, and prisons that rehabilitate rather than serve as a vehicle for society’s revenge, that these things exist not for profit for a few, that their role is not to be efficient, but to be redundant; that if they exist it is for the public good.

We have to agree to be there for each other; and that there is a level below which we will not let people sink. This is not pure altruism, pure sacrifice, but an investment in a robust, stable society over the long term.

Extremes of wealth inequality stop democracy from functioning:

  • If your life consists of a struggle to house, clothe and feed yourself and your family, there is no time or energy or will to do anything else. In this sense, democracy is a luxury item.
  • If you can’t afford access to the truth and get your “news” from Facebook, you are a sitting duck for disinformation and will soon end up in a bubble of lies, half-lies, fake “experts” and conspiracy theories; soon no information source is trusted and what you believe is what your fellow bubble-dwellers believe.

But for democracy to function we all need the tools to participate; we have to agree on the truth and know where we have a reasonable chance of finding it.

We have to agree that good government codifies our common belief that everyone deserves a fair start, everyone deserves respect, everyone can fall down but can stand up again, that university or the polytechnic or trades should be an option for everyone who wants this, and that this is not merely an expense but is offset by the productivity of well-paid workers and thinkers and experimenters and artists and plumbers and widget entrepreneurs who emerge from these institutions.

We have to agree, for example, that the effort to treat others with respect and hear their stories of oppression will bring us closer together, and is not “political correctness,” or an act of “white genocide.” We have to agree to have the courage to shut up, listen, think, respond, make reparations as necessary and change.

We have to agree that market competition might work well for selling shoes but has no place in education; that two-tiered systems create first- and second-class citizens.

We have to agree that there is never, ever, anywhere, a “them” and an “us.” We are the saints and the monsters, the successes and failures, the common and the exceptional, we are all of these.

Do we have this agreement? We used to. Somehow the project of turning informed, educated, rational adults into disinformed, confused, panic-stricken children has created a giant playground full of whimpering liberals whose balloons have been popped by the snarky bully conservatives as they scream “Snowflakes!” “Libtards!” “SJW’s!”

And the liberals, believe it or not, actually mind these epithets. Which more or less tells me that conservatives have a point, at least about the snowflake thing, which I would have twisted myself into a pretzel to avoid admitting.


No sooner had we started cooking pad Thai and buying hand-woven rugs at Pier One to show how cosmopolitan we were about the brown people when Reagan and Thatcher and Bush started to cast their evil spell. They convinced us that prosperity was scarce and only available to those rat-like and ruthless enough to win the race.

They proved their point by de-funding the New Deal and the War on Poverty until they didn’t work; preying on Protestant guilt and chastising us for being poor and lazy while they sat around country clubs in Prada sneakers drinking rum that someone once traded for slaves.

They made the effort to lift everyone up, the effort to reconnect the human family, into an evil. By hammering us with the words communism and socialism they planted in our poor heuristically-vulnerable brains the false idea that to offer universal government-delivered health care was akin to denouncing your family to Stalin and sending them to the gulag.

But not for one second did they stop plundering, stealing, making pacts with devils and gradually enriching themselves. The white, male lords of the planet sold us out, distracted us, plagued us with fakery, and created an artificial, ideological concept of scarcity that we still believe.

There is no scarcity. The world is awash with money. Awash with money.

In the world, now, in America and in Canada as well, there are huge numbers of people who will never believe the simple truth of how we’ve been manipulated to arrive at where we are, and who are teaching their children never to believe it. They’ll believe it’s all due to a few thousand refugees seeking asylum.

We, for believe what I will, the confusion will win, we will begin to realize what’s happened only on the day when the drones fly overhead, the levees collapse, the waters rush in, the deserts crack open like desiccated skin and we’re all refugees without a safe haven.

Hear that blast? Look up.

That’s fifty old white guys in a space ship built by Elon Musk, smoking Havana cigars, watching the blue planet glimmer and recede as they voyage to another world conceived and built to their specifications


And my mother, like most people, softened once we’d moved to the city and met black people, homosexuals, including me, and other exotic types. Because you learn tolerance, then acceptance, by being forced by life to rub elbows with humanity.

This is what makes cities the roiling, bustling, all-in-this-together hope for human progress, and rural enclaves the hard, intractable kernels of smug self-satisfaction and hatred.

֍

Advertisements

A Case of Dementia in Squirrels

lost: a few nuts randomly buried under the Statue of Fuckery



WHATEVER YOU POST IN AN INTERNET FORUM, no matter how bat-shit insane or obviously fueled by malice, becomes instantly and indisputably true, provided you make your case with the absolute conviction of a Supreme Court justice and the fire and brimstone of a born-again Christian preaching to the converted. To test my hypothesis, please spread the rumors described below, being careful to follow the instructions and not attempting anything beyond your current skill set. Go on, you know you want to!

Rumor 1

“Hillary is running a child-sex brothel from an apartment on the second floor of the Golden Lemongrass Thai Restaurant, in Pocatello, Idaho, and on weekdays you get two for the price of one! True!”

What is it: Standard Hillary rumor

Where should I spread it: Facebook is the only way to go.

Why: Facebook was never cool and just went downhill from there, giving a Hillary-Facebook profile match of 10/10; Facebook is mainly used by low-income, middle-aged women who find the real news too confusing and who are all related to you, and/or entire developing nations where women are allocated a status just below even-toed ungulates. Delivers more intensity for less effort than standard “Crooked Hillary” models.

Difficulty: Level 1 (suitable for beginners)

Rumor 2

“Alexandria O-C, that crazy humorless Lesbian socialist c**t,¹ is in cahoots with the Palestinians about plans to pelt the Brooklyn Bridge with balls of exploding falafel filled with broken glass and metal screws, and if you survive that, she’s going to raise your taxes to 90% and take away your cow! All so very true!”

What is it: Experimental “Crazy Socialist/Accusatory Anti Semite” combo type (in beta; may not perform as anticipated)

Where should I spread it: YouTube or other video-heavy sites that attract teenagers and angry middle-aged white guys because a. there’s something that moves; and b. they have to take a break from beating off to “barely-legal” teen porn at least one day out of four so the swelling can go down.

Why: This is uncharted territory. Works on the theory that anyone who demands social justice must have had pre-marital sex, gone dancing or lied about getting straight A’s in college at least once, so there’s bound to be something we can nail her with.

Gets you bonus points for reminding us that anyone who dares to question even for one second anything Israel does, or anything done in the name of Zionism, no matter how morally reprehensible, is so beyond the pale they might just as well have put on their souvenir pair of Hitler’s tattered underpants, then shoveled great-grandfather’s ashes out of the incinerator at Auschwitz before using them for fertilizer.

Difficulty: Level 4 (advanced). Requires impeccable insinuation and moral outrage techniques, plus the ability to withstand mockery by twenty-somethings, and Twitter pile-ons of grandstanding goyim who’ve never been closer to anything Jewish than that time they bought a boil-in-the-bag serving of Shopsy’s corned beef.

¹ Backgrounder:

(Yes, one must consider bringing the “c-word” out of retirement, because the usual styling for a strong female, “bitch”, is currently in the private collection of the Speaker, and besides, “bitch” is not even remotely nasty enough for a wee slip of a thing, not yet thirty years old, who speaks her mind, considers herself equal to a man and dares to talk of revolution.

“Bitch” is too light and breezy to convey the impotent rage of the male conservative whose daughter has stayed out all night being a slut when she’d promised to keep her knees together and return home by midnight, full of chaste, dutiful daddy’s-little-girl kisses.

The moribund, flatulent old guard is incredulous at the vigor and righteousness and juiciness of the new. A O-C is impervious to taunts, because she doesn’t give a fuck what you think; she has that Latina warmth and affability and superiority; plus the natural moral high ground of the female deployed with the ardor of a saint. If you’re on her side, she’ll be your ever-faithful pal; if you’re not, her eyes will flash like steel and she’ll cut you down with a well-aimed retort, swift and sharp as a switchblade. Tremble, o fathers, at untamed, untameable womanhood—!)

Rumor 3

“Nancy Pelosi, actually Nadia Pelosinheimer, filthy rich Jewess, together with her latest lover, George Soros, the Antichrist, and her army of bastard Satan-children, is funding a new caravan of out-of-work Central American soap opera actors who will storm The Wall as part of her Communist-Jewish agenda to slice off every remaining piece of foreskin in California. Vile prepuce, be gone!”²

² (The above should be self-explanatory, except please note that in this one we follow the common practice in that you dislike Jews rather than suddenly wanting to stand up for them because it suits your purpose.)

Rumor 4

Have you been getting this down? Have a go at Rumor 4 by yourself. Should be a cinch!

“Global warming and climate change are hoaxes perpetrated by the Chinese so they can destroy our economy. True!

“They are supported in this by an international cabal of renowned scientists who’ve forged all the data, having forgotten that the Earth’s climate goes in cycles—kind of like your clothes dryer at home with the different settings for linen and synthetics, and we’re just stuck on delicates at the moment. One full cap for a dirty load of true!

“Remember how your ancestor from the Holocene period always told you, It’s OK, dude, just take shelter in your cave until the monsoons pass? Well, there you go! That thing! Crack my skull with your caveman club of truth!

“Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s my turn to demonstrate my killer blow-job technique on the CEO of Esso.”


All of these are facts. Cross my heart and hope to die. Let the world know!

Nope. Not facts. Not even factoids. None of that happened. Just random, made-up shit.

But true.

And why the hell not? The actual truth is so plain-Jane and unadorned, it is as a straight-backed Shaker chair to the curvaceous Louis XIV fauteuil of our fakery. The actual truth admits no duty other than to just be, and it will not be gilded or lilied with your agenda. The actual truth lacks efficiency: it does not rouse the base, deflect blame or target a suitably depressed class as “other.”

The actual truth involves getting out of bed and taking a selfie without the Instagram filter that lets you pretend you’re a tiger, or breathing fire, or even Marilyn, even if you’re a guy. The actual truth might not be that pretty.

What are the actual truths?

The actual truth is that men hate women, hate them so much that every fleeting opportunity for rape not taken is cause for regret; the actual truth is that everyone hates Jews and fags and the transgendered and people with non-white skin and immigrants, the actual truth is that we hate in a dizzying infinite regress of Venn diagrams of who’s the hated and who’s the hater, who hates the haters, and who the hated hate in their turn in whatever hateful hierarchy. That’s actual truth.

We didn’t get out of bed this morning and sip our Evian to admit that our bombed and machine-gunned kids, be they in Palestine, Syria or Parkland, are real kids whose flesh shreds to the bone and whose faces melt like sugar as we wage war against them, and we hate them all the more for being so delicate, so trusting and vulnerable; that hurts, doesn’t it? And to that I say: that’s actual truth for ya!


A black woman, a Democratic representative in Congress, is told by the Chair, a white man, that her time is up, she must stop talking about gun control and her fears for her children. He makes the demand in the soft, decorous voice one would use to say, “A spot of tea, Priscilla?”

The woman explodes in anger. “I will NOT!” she bellows.

White men, as always, offer their opinion on Twitter. You would do better to have some decorum. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, Honey. We understand your position, but there’s a time and a place.

I read these Tweets, thinking, “This woman has probably endured in her lifetime insults, injustice and indignity that these men would not put up with for ONE SECOND, were it them—and now they want to take away her RAGE as well?”

Is there no fucking limit to our shamelessness?


We didn’t cast our vote for Trump or Scheer or Harper or Brexit to admit the actual truth: that The Wall can never be built.

Honestly, haven’t you ever wondered why? Why the delays, why the faffing around and procrastinating and backtracking and deal-making?

It’s not like building a wall costs that much, in a nation that allocates half its discretionary spending to defence while kids starve and their parents shoot up Fentanyl, praying for an overdose; it’s not like it’s technically difficult, in a nation that builds a World Trade Center just so the Deep State can knock it over like a juvenile delinquent knocks a tin can off a fence.

(Except that’s just a rumor; the actual truth is that America, read “the West”, is hated by those who’ve endured the West’s greed, insatiable appetite for oil and callous indifference to the misery they’ve inflicted on entire nations, who looked through the windows at the sumptuous banquet and thought, Why not us, too? Why were we not invited? Why is it their oil, not ours?

To the West, those people were nothing but inconveniences, pawns to be hoodwinked and manipulated and shifted on the board. And the bitterness and hatred of entire nations spawned fundamentalism, which in turn triggered the horrified awakening: that Western life is the unholy life of the apostate, that Westerners are infidels who deserve to die, and for all I know, they’re right.

The actual truth is that you might as well have leveled the World Trade Centre yourselves, so inevitable was the disaster that you call 9/11 and that some call sweet and righteous victory. An infinite regress of haters and the hated…)

The Wall can never be built because it was and is and always will be a metaphorical wall, a glorious Fascist symbol, an intangible, enthralling fever dream that has hooked the souls of the lost and angry white overlords who yearn for a Golden Age.

The Wall is Heimweh, nostalgia for the Fatherland, the Ur-Amerika of cotton and tobacco, and horses-and-buggies transporting the exquisite parasol’d daughters to the cotillion Good evenin’, Miss Scarlett! while the family niggers drop dead in the fields.

The Wall is a Jungian vision of the cosmic hymen that will restore Amerika’s virginity and racial purity, and to attempt to build it would be to awaken us, the sleepwalkers, force us to admit that purity is a chimera, a state that never existed and thus can never be restored.

To attempt to build The Wall would force us to admit we are indelibly stained. We long to be pure water again, but we are forever tainted with the blood of those we hate, and to admit that is to admit defeat.

God and Satan and all the legion of the fallen angels help us! when we whose vocation is hate must admit defeat. Except the actual truth is that God doesn’t exist. Ours alone will be all the kingdom and the power and the glory for what we’ve wrought, forever and ever. And that is why we, the haters, hate Him most of all.


Did you know? Squirrels forget where they buried eighty percent of the nuts they harvest.

True.

֍

A Satori

 

If seedlings are waking up in clay pots on my balcony, 
if there are tiny, fragile seedlings 
that despite their tininess and fragility
still manage to express their true nature,
just as distant stars express theirs;

If this expression of stars and seedlings
is inevitable, yet innocent;

And if a seedling, a wisp of green, a mere tendril, 
can heave aside a boulder, its opponent,
which is a crumb of earth, 
And the crumb can’t resist —

If the will to life and its expression are that powerful;

if the force of life animates everything and 
everything will continue in its path 
without regard to me or my existence—

Then I know I am, and will be, safe; 

I know that I need only do the next right thing
and that the next right thing will present itself
and I will recognize it.

And I need only do this next right thing 
as completely 
and with as much sense of inevitability 
and with the same innocence
as do the seedlings in the ground or the distant stars.

This is what I understand we are talking about 

when we talk about god.