Pankaj Mishra shows that today is yesterday in “Age of Anger”. Leaders in America, China, India, and Russia return their countries to the ritual of nationalism, i.e., societies’ position of “all against all”. Mishra’s observations imply either enlightenment is nigh, or an end is coming. The most recent example of course is Russia’s retaliatory bombing and missile strikes in Ukraine.
To some, covid-19 heightens belief that an end is coming. A view of history suggests that is nonsense.
Today’s tribalist anger (aka extreme nationalism) carries the imprimatur of an overheated world from the threat of covid-19, a nuclear holocaust, and climate change.
This is not a new “Age of Anger”. It is the same anger from the same origin. Its origin is human ignorance; i.e. an ignorance existing from the beginning of time.
It is revivified by Mishra’s recount of violence between and among competing cultures.
Mishra focuses on the origin of anger in the world. He offers examples written in the blood of all nations at different times in history. India, China, Japan, Russia, Great Britain, South Africa, America, and other nations with different governments, different religions, and different cultural norms create ages of anger. It is an anger inherent in humankind. Mishra argues that anger is revealed by science and exposed in philosophy.
This anger is not only between nations but within nations. Most recently in America, domestic evidence of the “Age of Anger” are senseless mass shootings that have taken the lives of 19 children, their teacher at a grade school, and a grandmother in Texas, a doctor and 3 hospital workers in Oklahoma, and three adults at a Tennessee nightclub.
It is as though America wants to turn back to the wild west to settle disagreements and act-out at every frustration or depressive circumstance of their lives. The public acts with anger and violence that is made deadlier by weapons of war designed only to murder.
Mishra suggests the “Age of Anger” is reinforced when philosophical interpretation distorts facts (aka Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts). The distortion of facts by Trump’s early comments on the Covid-19 pandemic exemplify origins of the “Age of Anger”.
Mishra offers an example of how lies of those in power and influence magnify the “Age of Anger”. Science can be distorted by philosophical interpretation, e.g., Herbert Spencer captures Darwin’s theory and falsely interprets it as a social construct.
Spenser argues that society evolves and advances because of “survival of the fittest”. He implies it is the same mechanism described in Darwin’s “…Origin of Species”. Darwin’s research and theory of evolution are distorted by Spencer.
Spenser creates alternative facts. Spenser argues that progressive development of society is dependent on ethics, religions, economics, political theories, philosophies, and sciences that are the fittest to survive. Spenser infers survival is the only criteria of what is good for humankind. To Spenser, life is a competition for “all against all”.
Darwin’s theory of evolution has little to do with survival of the fittest. Extinction or perpetuation of an evolutionary line is a matter of happenstance; not fitness for survival. (Hairlessness does not make humankind more fit for survival; i.e. it makes the human body more environmentally vulnerable.)
Mishra explains how concepts of materialism and well-being are interpreted within and among nation-states. As materialism becomes a measure of well-being–money, power, and prestige set a precedent for valuing human existence in a Spenserian creed of “all against all”.
Mishra reviews the beliefs of Voltaire, Nietzsche, and Kant to show how materialism, supermen, and human perception control the course of history. Voltaire ranks wealth; Nietzsche ranks power, and Kant ranks perception as measures of human worth.
Mishra suggests anger has risen through generations, within and among nations, that explain world wars, genocidal acts, and atrocities beyond imagining. That anger exhibited itself in the murder of an innocent woman in Valle Verde Park, California in April of 2019.
Our former President exacerbates American anger that is exhibited by extremists who attack Asian Americans because of an ignorant belief that China purposely introduced Covid19 to the world. If all Americans are not ashamed, they should be.
Extremists embarrass themselves and America by believing Q Anon conspiracy theories.
Pittsburgh Synagogue Murders (11 Dead, 6 wounded in October 2018.)
Poway, Valle Verde Park, CA Synagogue–murder of one and injury to three in April 2019.
It is fair to say that there have been respites from this cycle of violence. But, unless or until human beings see themselves as part of the same society, the world will end in the Armageddon of biblical imagination.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
Written by: Candace Fleming
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr and Others
Candace Fleming offers an intimate look at the life and death of the last royal family of the Czarist empire. The intimacy of the profile is reinforced by personal letters, contemporary literature, and historical accounts of the 1917 Russian revolution. Fleming reaches back to the beginning of Czar Nicholas’s reign 23 years earlier and ends with the families slaughter in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg, Russia. East of Moscow and southeast of St. Petersburg.
The ignominious death of the last Czarist family is confirmed by DNA analysis of the remains of the family in 1992. Two of the children are missing in the first discovered grave site; e.g. the son Alexei and a daughter thought initially to be Marie, but later found to be Anastasia. The mystery of the two missing children is solved when a nearby grave is found in 2007. Through further DNA analysis, Alexei’s and Anastasia’s remains are confirmed.
The entire Romanov family is guarded by the Red Guard, a rag tag military force, made of workers, peasants, Cossacks, and former soldiers. This unconventional troop is under the influence of Bolshevik revolutionaries; recruited at Vladimir Lenin’s direction. This rag tag troop is replaced later by war hardened soldiers commanded by Yakov Mikhailovich Yurosky.
Fleming notes that Yurosky’s family had been victims of Nicholas II’s feckless reign. Undocumented orders are given to Yurosky to murder the royal family and their servants. Fleming suggests the impetus for Yurosky’s orders is the White Guard (an anti-communist force opposing Lenin’s Bolsheviks) nearing Yekaterinburg. No written record is discovered showing Lenin or any particular Bolshevik leader directed the murders. However, Lenin approves of the murders after the fact.
Fleming describes the preparation of a basement room in the Ipatiev House for the murders. All furniture is removed. The family and their servants are awakened in the middle of the night, taken to the basement, and shot like horses in a slaughter-house.
The first shot, fired by Yurosky, kills the Czar. Soldiers empty their rifles on the remaining family and servants. The children are wearing clothes that are secretly lined with jewelry which initially act like bullet proof vests. Shots ricochet around the room and the children must be shot again to end their lives. A truck is waiting outside the house. The bodies are thrown into the truck and taken to a dense forest where they are buried.
Days later the White Guard arrives. They find the house in anticipation of a rescue but find the house empty. They search each room and find evidence of the royal family and finally reach the basement. It has been cleaned but blood stains can still be seen on the baseboards and floor.
Fleming describes the 300 year (1613-1917) Romanov family as privileged, rich, and powerful. Privilege, wealth, and power diminishes in equal measure as Czar Nicholas II inherits the throne. Nicholas II’s father is characterized as a bull of a man who brooks no disagreement from either his family or the Russian people. At 6’ 3”, Alexander III dwarfs his son who is 5’ 7”.
In complete contrast to Alexander, Nicholas is characterized by Fleming as effete and non-confrontational. He both reveres and fears his father. When the Russian poor challenge Alexander, after Nicholas’s grandfather’s more accommodating rule, Alexander III reacts to revolts with bullets and blood; i.e. any resistance to autocracy is crushed by Alexander III.
When Alexander dies, Nicholas attempts to emulate his father’s autocratic rule but carries none of his father’s physical or mental toughness. Nicholas rarely acts as a leader and only commends surrogate actions taken by subordinates. When his ministers shoot unarmed civilians on their own volition, Nicholas commends them for their prompt action in defending the throne.
Fleming gives the example of the 1905 Russian revolution when the poor attempt to meet with the Czar but are repelled by the Czar’s guard. Many peasants are murdered. The peasant’s intent is only to meet to discuss what can be done to raise wages and improve their lives. The Czar chooses to commend his guard for their violent response without considering the legitimacy of the peasants demands. Nicholas only cheers other’s actions that protect his rule. Nicholas never directs actions of subordinates; he never leads.
Nicholas’s lack of leadership is compounded by a marriage to Maria Feodorovna. Maria becomes Nicholas’s enabler. She supports his style of non-decision decision-making. Maria is a devout mystic that believes all things that happen are by the grace of God. When something goes wrong, it is the will of God. Not only does Nicholas rely on his wife’s counsel but Maria’s belief in mysticism opens the door to one who says he is God’s messenger. Such a one comes to the aid of Maria. His name is Grigori Rasputin.
Fleming notes that the Czar and Maria are anxious to have a boy child to ensure succession to the throne. They have four girls before Alexi is born. The birth of Alexi is attributed to a mystic, before Rasputin, that convinces Maria she will have a boy child. When Alexi is born, Maria’s belief in messenger’s from God becomes unshakable. Sadly, Alexi is found to have hemophilia.
The die is cast. Rasputin and the support he receives from the royal family tarnish the god-like image of the Romanovs.
As WWI begins, the fall of the Romanovs is assured. When Russia most needed a strong decisive leader, they had an inept and weak Czar. The support of the people diminished with the progress of the war. The leadership vacuum is filled by Vladimir Lenin and a mythic communist philosophy of power to the people. With promises to peasants and workmen that live under the thumb of an aristocratic totalitarian system, Lenin justifies another kind of totalitarian system. Fleming implies that Lenin may have softened terrorist communism if he had lived but Stalin took the reins after Lenin’s death. The rest is a history of the worst mass murderer of the twentieth century.
Fleming offers an interesting and intimate view of the last Czar’s family. It is not laudatory but one comes away from the story feeling that the death of Nicholas and his family, like Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, were the result of changing times; not their ineffective, injudicious rule. They deserved to be dethroned but not murdered. Money, power, and prestige corrupts all human beings–rich, poor, religious, and secular. Democratic regulation, not violence; social justice, not vigilantism; peace, not war are the needs of humankind.
“The Wright Brothers” must have wondered—Birds fly, so why can’t I? David McCullough writes and narrates a memoir of the Wright Brothers that perfectly turns wonder into reality. Orville and Wilbur Wright are the first to design, build, and fly an airplane that demonstrates human control of flight. They were not the first humans to fly, but they were the first to fly like birds; i.e. with nature and intent. Before the Wright brothers, flying is left to man’s faith in God and luck; after the Wright brothers, flying is firmly within the grasp of humanity.
Two farm boys are raised in a family of seven (a mother, father, sister, and two brothers). Neither Orville, or Wilbur are college educated. Both are born to a mother who graduates from Hartford College, as the top mathematician in her class; a woman who became a housewife to an ordained minister, and an example to her children. Through nature and nurture, Orville and Wilbur become the talk of Dayton, Ohio, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Paris, Washington DC, and, eventually, the wide world.
Wilbur is a student athlete and scholar in high school. He goes to Hartford College, like his mother, but (unlike his mother) never graduates. Orville is the younger of the two by 4 years. Orville never finishes high school. McCullough describes the boys as tinkerers with ambition and a burning desire to understand how birds fly. With extraordinary observational skill, hard work, and persistence, Orville and Wilbur observe birds in flight, build and tinker with flying machines, and meticulously repeat experiments in human flight.
With income from a bicycle business they start in Dayton, Ohio, they begin designing their first glider. After completing their design, they make parts and assemble their air vehicles at the bicycle shop. They search for an area of the country that has the wind and landing characteristics they need to test their glider. They are invited to an area of North Carolina because of the wind and sand characteristics of the area. Their first flight is on October 5, 1900 near Kitty Hawk but it is flown more as a kite; without a pilot. After the first experiment, Wilbur takes flight as a pilot, while helpers tether the glider from the ground. These first flights lead the brothers back to the drawing board for control-feature re-design.
The brothers return in 1901, with a new glider. The new design, allows the ribs of the wings to flex to allow adjustments in flight. They find the flexing refines control of the glider in their Dayton shop where the re-design and reassembly occur. They create a wind tunnel to help with a re-design of glider controls. They add a rear rudder to improve the steering capability of the flyer. At this point, McCullough explains that the brothers begin flying in earnest to improve their skill in maneuvering the glider. Orville and Wilbur realize earlier failures, by themselves and others, will be repeated by pilots without extensive experience with aircraft controls. McCullough reinforces the historic truth of the Wright brothers’ invention of the first airplane. Without the brother’s creative control features, airplanes would be too dangerous to fly.
Once the aerodynamics of flight are understood, the Wright brothers turn to the idea of a motor to complete their vision of human flight. Searching the nation for a light weight engine to power their glider, they find no engine fits the bill. By good fortune, the Wright brothers become friends with Charles Taylor. Taylor takes over management of their bicycle shop while they are refining their gliders. Taylor happens to be a master mechanic. He hand-builds an engine to power the first airplane motor by boring a block of aluminum for pistons to provide 12 horsepower to the Wright’s first airplane. On December 17, 1903, the first flight of a motorized airplane (an airplane with directional controls) takes place at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
McCullough notes that neither Orville or Wilbur ever marry. They are a close family, raised by a loving father who is often absent because of his Bishopric duties and a mother who surprises local residents with her ability to manage the household, repair broken tools, and raise such self-reliant children. The brother’s sister, Katharine Wright is the only child to graduate from college. She becomes the boy’s surrogate mother when their birth-mother is invalided in 1886 and dies in 1889. Katherine becomes the first woman to fly as a passenger with Wilbur in Paris.
In the many flights that Orville and Wilbur take, there are several crashes. The worst crash is when Orville is demonstrating their latest airplane to the Army. According to McCullough, the crash is caused by a mechanical failure that kills an Army Lieutenant as a passenger on Orville’s flight. Orville is nearly killed but is nursed back to health by Katharine.
In most of Orville’s and Wilbur’s flights, they fly separately to assure the continuation of their company should one or the other be killed. As fate would have it, Wilbur dies from typhoid in 1912. Orville lives until 1948. They created a company in 1909 that sold planes to the U. S. Army and a French syndicate. Orville sells the company in 1915 but stays involved in aeronautics for the remainder of his life. He became a member of the Board of Directors for NASA.
Several lawsuits were brought to challenge patents created by the Wright brothers on their airplane designs; none of the challenges succeeded. McCullough implies “The Wright Brothers” story is proof of the truth of the American Dream. With hard work, persistence, and intelligence, success is every American’s opportunity. In recent years, ghosts of past and present, challenge that belief. But, for white Americans in the early twentieth century, the dream is made real by McCullough’s entertaining and informative story about the Wright family.
America is on the threshold of the largest tax change since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. If past is prologue, trickle down economics will not work, the deficit will rise, and the poorest will be victimized. The genesis of the delusion of trickle down economics comes from interpretations of a modern Machiavelli.
Ludwig von Mises is a twentieth century Machiavelli. This near 48-hour audio book details a theory of economics that will offend modern liberals, expose weakness of libertarians, and vilify the new American President’s nationalist policies. The venality of treating government as a business is a mistake of monumental proportion.
Approaching von Mises as a devil incarnate is unfair. His beliefs are pilloried by today’s liberals as loudly as aristocrats and rulers vilified Machiavelli in the 16th century. Like Machiavelli, von Mises looks at the world as it is; not as it ought to be. His observations cut at modern liberal, as well as anarchic, views of highly regarded liberals like Ralph Nader, Martin Luther King, Norm Chomsky, and alleged conservatives-like President Trump.
In von Mises book, Roosevelt’s New Deal is vilified. Additionally, von Mises vociferously disagrees with the liberal John Maynard Keynes’s
economic interventionist creed. Ironically, Donald Trump may be the most interventionist President since FDR with a scatter brained economic plan that von Mises would equally vilify.
Von Mises observations have historical credibility. What they do not have is social conscience. In fact, he suggests social conscience is a fiction perpetrated by populists to distort the value of capitalist economies. Like Machiavelli, von Mises observes the nature of human beings, and recognizes their inherent irrationality and moral weakness. Von Mises illustrates numerous examples of human irrationality; beginning with market consumption, and ending with entrepreneurial ambition. Donald Trump exemplifies von Mises argument that humans are irrational, greedy, power-hungry, and vain. For President Trump to believe taxing imports by 20% makes Mexico pay for a useless five-billion-dollar wall is absurd. The American consumer will pay for that wall in increased cost of Mexican produce and manufactured goods.
Von Mises criticizes famous economists like David Ricardo for introducing politics into economics. Von Mises argues that the drive for money, power, and prestige are inherent in an entrepreneurial capitalist system. Von Mises argues that government officials who profess social conscience distort free enterprise by picking winners and losers. When politicians pass legislation that aids one entrepreneur over another, it distorts the driving force of capitalist economies. He equally vilifies government leaders who impose tariffs on international trade. Von Mises explains that the fallacy of government leaders who pass favoring legislation is that the real mover of the economy is the consumer; not the producer.
The logical extension of von Mises’ theory is that any government planning or action that affects an entrepreneur’s willingness to take a risk to produce product, or service a customer’s perceived needs, is bad for society. To von Mises, efforts to organize labor is an interference with capitalist entrepreneurs because labor is not taking a risk. Von Mises argues that labor costs will find its own level by being an automated tool of the entrepreneur; subject to hunger and deprivation if they choose not to participate. Von Mises point is that the entrepreneur will pay what he/she must to have labor available, but no more than what the end-product consumer is willing to pay. Von Mises believes labor has a choice. They can work for low wages or remain idle. The fallacy of that argument is the inherent unfairness of not having enough income to live creates revolutionary discontent.
Unions offer a vehicle for leveling the power between businesses and labor. To not allow unionization is tantamount to favoring businesses that are no longer competitive but are today recognized as an economic equivalent of individuals. Not to give unions a place “at the table” is morally, ethically, and economically unfair; particularly in industries that are no longer entrepreneurial.
Another von Mises’ observational theory is that government policy should have no role in subsidizing new inventions, new drugs, the ecology of the world, or the elimination of slavery because such policies interfere with pure capitalism. This reinforces absurdist arguments of libertarians.
American creativity has historically been benefited by government subsidization of technological advances. (President Putin noted in a 60 Minutes’ interview that creativity is his most admired quality in the American economy.) The speed of improvements in health, education, and welfare historically increased with government subsidization of drug research, public education, and the energy industry.
The fallacy of von Mises’ theory lies in the framework of theorists. It ignores human existence by hiding behind the unquantifiable nature of society. One may argue that America’s Civil War had nothing to do with the elimination of slavery. (Von Mises suggests that slavery was abolished because it became too expensive; not because it was morally and ethically reprehensible.) One may argue that Roosevelt’s New Deal was a failure. One may argue that the Marshall Plan after WWII rewarded failed nations. One may argue that George Bush’s and Barrack Obama’s decisions to bail out the American economy interfered with pure capitalism. History suggests von Mises is wrong. Government intervention can be good as well as bad. (Bush unilaterally agreed to lend $17.4 billion of taxpayers’ money to General Motors and Chrysler, of which $13.4 billion was to be extended immediately.)
Von Mises lived into the 1970 s. How could he ignore the moral and ethical iniquity of slavery, the value of the Marshall Plan, government subsidization of the American banking system, financial incentives for the energy industry, and the billions spent to advance technological inventions? Those are good examples of government intervention. On the other hand, building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and levying a 20% import tax is a bad government intervention.
American capitalism works because of the checks and balances written in the Constitution. Von Mises theory is based on valid observations but social conscience, whether statistically measurable or not, must be a part of decisions that affect the lives of millions. Mistakes will be made, and have been made, but economic statistics cannot be substituted for pragmatism.
If there is a “Cromwell” in Trump’s administration, he/she should appraise King Henry and his emphasis on loyalty of class. King Henry, like Trump, seems to care little about commoners; except as they benefit his wealth, power, and prestige.
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant
Written by: Tracy Borman
Narrated by: Julian Elfer
TRACY BORMAN (AUTHOR, BRITISH HISTORIAN)
HILIARY MANTEL (ENGLISH AUTHOR OF “WOLF HALL” AND “BRING UP THE BODIES”)
While Hilary Mantel wets American appetites for Thomas Cromwell with “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies”, Tracy Borman offers a more British perspective.
“Thomas Cromwell” is shown by Mantel and Borman to be a commoner with an uncommon intelligence. He rises from a blacksmith’s son to become among the most powerful government administrator of the 16th century. Cromwell is the consummate power behind the throne of King Henry VIII. He manages to reform the Roman Catholic church in England, the power of aristocratic government, and the wealth of the British throne; all the while placating a volatile and often shallow King.
THOMAS CROMWELL AT ESTIMATED AGE IN HIS 40S
In the 21st century, one wonders if there is an American equivalent to Thomas Cromwell in President Trump’s administration. Was it John F. Kelly, his former Chief of Staff? Whether there is a person behind Trump’s erratic pronouncements, Borman shows that a modern American Cromwell is a mixed blessing.
Borman characterizes King Henry as one who seeks wealth, power, and prestige in every government policy and action.
Wealth is drawn from confiscation of Roman Catholic Church’ land and wealth. Power is taken with the King’s appointment as head of a newly formed Church of England. Prestige is pursued with King Henry’s six marriages–meant to preserve his royal lineage. It is Borman’s contention that each of these pursuits are largely accomplished through the machination and administration of Thomas Cromwell.
As a commoner, Cromwell is a consummate go-between. With Cromwell’s personal experience and innate intelligence, he caters to aristocracy while placating, and sometimes aiding English commoners. Cromwell is tutored by Cardinal Wolsey, King Henry’s former administrator who is also a commoner. Wolsey is a trusted aide and Roman Church Cardinal who acts as a go-between for the Roman Catholic Church and the King.
Wolsey sets the table for Cromwell’s rise to power as King Henry becomes disenchanted with Wolsey’s failure to convince the Pope to annul Henry’s first marriage. Though Cromwell does his best to protect Wolsey from the King, Wolsey loses his position, and dies on his way to the Tower of London.
Cromwell hugely increases the wealth and power of King Henry
The King becomes the Catholic Church’s sole leader in England. With that religious schism, the reformation of Catholicism begins.
Cromwell cleverly maneuvers his way into the King’s grace by creating a legal justification for the creation of the Church of England.
On the one hand, Cromwell exhibits the quality of a true believer in denying the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church; on the other, he hugely increases the wealth and power of King Henry. Henry can have his first marriage annulled. He marries Anne Boleyn and becomes one of the wealthiest monarchs in the world. As reward, Cromwell not only becomes wealthy, he is given license to reform English Catholicism.
Cromwell is shown to be enlightened and parochially narrow-minded at the same time. Cromwell believes the bible should be available to all. He endorses Tyndales’s New Testament as the first printed edition of the scripture in the English language. Cromwell disavowed Roman Catholic Church indulgences that imply followers may buy their way into heaven. At the same time, Cromwell believes torture reveals the truth and uses it to convict innocent citizens who justify government policies desired by King Henry. Anne Boleyn is beheaded based on torture induced confessions and false testimony. Through Cromwell’s catalogue of lies, King Henry is able to divorce Boleyn and marry for a third time.
However, Borman notes that Cromwell is a protector of women even though he is the perpetrator of injustice to Boleyn. Borman recounts letters of appeal that acknowledge help given by Cromwell to women abused by men, or left poor by death or divorce of their husbands.
With the death of Henry’s third wife, Cromwell arranges a marriage for the King to a German Princess, Anne of Cleaves. This becomes, in Borman’s history, the beginning of the end for Cromwell’s tenure as the force behind the throne. King Henry is no longer young, and his physical being has diminished by less exercise and greater weight. His new queen is not to his liking. Though there may have been some political value to the marriage, there is no physical attraction. These negatives are compounded by evidence that Queen Anne had been married before and her former husband is killed to facilitate her marriage to Henry. Cromwell is alleged to have knowledge of the previous betrothal before Anne’s marriage to Henry.
THOMAS HOWARD (3RD DUKE OF NORFOLK, UNCLE OF ANNE BOLEYN)
King Henry becomes enamored with a potential fifth wife, Catherine Howard, who is the niece of the Duke of Norfolk. The Duke of Norfolk is a bitter enemy of Cromwell. Though King Henry soon divorces Catherine Howard (she is beheaded for adultery), the Duke of Norfolk begins a campaign to unseat Cromwell from his favored position with the King. Though not mentioned by Borman, Henry marries for a sixth time but dies before finding cause to pursue a seventh wife.
In Borman’s final assessment, Cromwell is convicted of treason for failing to protect the King from his marriage to Anne of Cleaves. However, Borman suggests the underlying cause for Cromwell’s demise is that he was a commoner among aristocrats who resented his power. In an epilogue Borman notes that history has pictured Thomas Cromwell as villain and savior in different eras. He is a villain for destroying the power of the Roman Catholic Church. He is a savior for reforming the transgressions of the church.
THOMAS CROMWELL (1485-1540) DIED AT THE AGE OF 55
Borman’s history of Cromwell resonates to some because it reminds one of Trump’s ascension to President of the United States. Though Trump is no King, he is an aristocrat of wealth surrounded by many billionaires of the same aristocracy. Trump seems to have some of the same shallow characteristics of King Henry. If there is a “Cromwell” in Trump’s administration, he/she should appraise King Henry and his emphasis on loyalty of class. King Henry, like Trump, seems to care little about commoners; except as they benefit his wealth, power, and prestige.
As Mark Twain said–“Historydoesn‘trepeat itself, but it often rhymes.”
The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 2, Fredericksburg to Meridian
Written by: Shelby Foote
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
“America’s Civil War”
SHELBY FOOTE (AUTHOR AND HISTORIAN)
Shelby Foote’s history of America’s Civil War is a classic for all who wish to understand the culture and strength of American democracy. America, like most nations, is a diverse country. Societal differences make the United States both strong and weak. Strength comes from limited freedom within a government of checks and balances. Weakness comes from the nature of human beings who violate moral and ethical standards defined by society.
ROY MOORE (DEFEATED IN RECENT ALABAMA ELECTION BASED ON ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT.) The norms of society are shaped by human experience. Religion, money, power, and prestige drive Americans to achieve fame and success; as well as infamy and failure.
Foote recounts the interplay between civilian and military leaders in America’s civil war who show how these drives shape American society. The evil of slavery tangles itself into the Civil War’s human experience. Slavery is reviled by some; while fully endorsed by others.
Generals, political leaders, and soldier/citizens on both sides of the Civil War demonstrate various levels of good and bad behavior. Some vie for the money, power, and prestige of command. Some fight for the glory of God whom they feel is on their side. Some fight because they are paid to fight. Some fight because they can exercise power over another. Some fight for the spoils of war. Some fight to win the accolade of those who follow their lead. Others vie for nothing more than the desire to win against an opposing force.
There are heroes and villains in this Civil War. Foote tells the story of America’s Civil War from his voluminous research and personal perspective.
Foote offers facts that show both sides of the conflict have honorable and flawed leaders. He, like all human beings, does not escape his own prejudices. There seem hints of Southern sympathy and ethnic prejudice. Even the best historians are human; neither omnipresent or omniscient.
The listener/reader judges for themselves based on their own beliefs and experience. Lincoln, Davis, Stanton, Halleck, McClellan, Mead, Rosencrans, Lee, Grant, Sherman, Longstreet, and Stonewall Jackson are heroes with flaws. Each chose their path which leaves them to historian’s and reader/listener’s judgement.
All of us are shaped by heritage and experience. All desire a degree of money, power, and/or prestige.
Jack Holland (Irish writer, Born 1947, Died 2004.)
This quarters’ “Foreign Affairs” argues misogyny is rising in the world with newly elected autocrats. It cites rising misogyny in Brazil, India, Poland, Honduras, Mexico, Turkey, and the U.S. in a lean toward authoritarian and antidemocratic policies. “Foreign Affairs” leading article suggests “…women’s political and economic empowerment is now stalling or declining around the world”.
Undoubtedly, sexual depredation began before recorded time, but misogyny became institutionalized with the written word.
The mystery is what has taken so long for American misogyny to be recognized. The mystery is explained in Jack Holland’s “Misogyny, The World’s Oldest Prejudice”. Misogyny appears when history is first recorded. Misogyny is perpetuated by religion, society, and government.
From men who are Presidents to business moguls to famous newscasters, misogyny grows like a cancer.
(Past accusers of President Trump.)
E. Jean Carroll–Latest accuser of President Trump’s past behavior.
A woman’s rights have been a moving target since the beginning of time; or at least since the beginning of recorded “history”. Jack Holland tracks “The World’s Oldest Prejudice”, misogyny.
Holland’s conflation of Nazism with societal misogyny seems misplaced except in comparison to Nazism’s institutionalization of discrimination. The evidence and truth of women’s domination, abuse, and murder by men is solid. Holland recounts government practices, religious doctrines, philosophical treatises, science errors, and corroborated historical events that confirm institutionalization of misogyny.
Misogyny is in the news today with accusations against Presidents, several newscasters, aspiring and existing politicians, film producers, and business leaders.
As far back as the oldest laws of government written by a Sumerian King in 2,050 BC, women have been singled out with human rights’ violations. An example is the King’s law that particularly applies to women who speak insolently. They are to have their mouths scoured with salt; i.e. a law applying only to women slaves. Of course the law begs the question of why women are slaves.
All major religions are patriarchal. Each has a history of misogyny that lives through to today.
Beginning with the book of Genesis in the Christian Bible, women come from man; not as a singular human being but as an adjunct of man, a mere rib. In Genesis 3:16, women are burdened and subservient to men from the beginning. “Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”.
In the Ten Commandments, wives are treated as property to men. Holland cites Apostle Paul as a harbinger of doom for women. His doctrinal preaching perpetuates misogyny. Apostle Paul implies women are seductresses because of men’s earthly desires.
Men are advised to focus on the spiritual to avoid sin and assure their passage to heaven. By separating humanity and spirituality, Holland argues Apostle Paul implies women and bodily pleasure are a principal source of sin. Female genital mutilation is condoned in this view of human sin.
Holland notes that in the Torah (Jewish doctrine), women are unclean twice as long for birthing daughters rather than sons. Further, the Torah explains that women who are raped in the city should be stoned to death, and if raped in the country, required to marry their rapist. The fault for being raped is assigned to women rather than men. Some conservative Jewish sects pray to God that they are not given daughters; additionally, they thank God for not being born a woman.
(Exodus 21:3-4 Says that if a male slave is given a wife by his master (regardless of how long they are wed, how much they love each other or if they have kids) he can not leave servanthood with his wife or children. The woman and children are merely property of the master and their personal happiness or sanctity of family doesn’t matter.)
In the Qur’an (Islam’s holy book), women are less valuable and inferior to men. In paragraph 4:34 “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other.” In Islam’s Sharia law, women are generally guilty of their own rape and are to be stoned to death or immolated. There are exceptions but proof is an onerous exercise in futility. As witnesses to rape, Holland notes a victim must find 4 men to corroborate a woman’s testimony or she is considered untruthful, guilty, and subject to punishment or death.
Holland argues that Sharia law denies women the right to an education. (Islamic scholars disagree.) If true, just as the American south feared education of slaves, the Islamic religion fears the education of women. With education, women are bound to seek a better life with more freedom and less domination.
Holland reaches back to ancient Greek philosophers to note that both Plato and Aristotle believe women are afflicted with natural defectiveness. To Plato, that defect is implied in “The Republic” when children are to be taken from their mothers to be educated by the state; independent of a mother’s influence. To Aristotle, women’s defect is in his concept of forms. Women either have no soul or essence that allows for perfect form. Women are mere vessels for the birth of children that come from an essence provided by the sperm of men. Aristotle argues women are subject to men and are, at best, “deformed males”.
Holland notes later philosophers like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche carry misogyny forward. Schopenhauer argues that women have meager reasoning ability. To Schopenhauer, women’s lack of reason and abundant sensuality cause chaos and disruption. Nietzsche has a similar view of women. Nietzsche views women as vixens that need to be controlled; not helpmates, independent humans, or equals to men.
Science luminaries also feed the misogynist credo. Darwin suggests women are not as fully evolved as men. Freud creates myths of penis envy and mental dysfunction from normal female physiological conditions. Holland also addresses the misconception of the “blank slate” in science as noted by Stephen Pinker, a modern-day psychologist.
As Pinker notes, fifty percent of who we are, male or female, is determined by genetics. We are not blank slates. There are common genetic inheritances that interact with the environment as we mature. However, each human reacts to incidents in the world in their own unique way. Human beings, whether male or female, react differently to the same incidents based, in part, on their genetic inheritance.
Women and men are different but equal based on a combination of nature and nurture. A truth in science is that the energy producers of life (mitochondrial DNA) come solely from mothers, not fathers. This is quite a contrast to Aristotle’s theory of women as mere vessels of birth. It is a surprise that there are not more misandrists than misogynists.
Holland recounts several horrific misogynistic events from history and modern times. A major event in the 15th to 18th century were the witch trials. Tens of thousands of accused witches were tortured and burned at the stake in Europe. The most famous in America were the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. An estimated 80 women were tried in New England with 20 executed and 5 who die in prison.
A NYT’s headline on 3.17.21 shows a Turkish woman battered by her husband. Misogyny is not unique to any country, culture, or religion. Misogyny is a world-wide heart rending tragedy.
Though witch trials and executions are in the past, modern-day Middle East and Eastern countries have trials for women that are raped, tortured, and mutilated for failing to follow religious and cultural norms established by male dominated governments.
Holland delves into the rise of Nazism and suggests the idea of the super race are contributors to misogynist beliefs. To some extent that may be true but Hitler’s primary objective is to create a straw man for the ills of Germany. The straw man became the Jews; i.e. the alleged source of all that is wrong with the world. Nazism had much less to do with belief that women are the inferior of men. As Holland points out, Hitler was widely supported by German women.
Hitler’s asexual revolution had little to do with the degradation of women but more to do with the myth of the “other” that is meant to roil and consolidate the masses in defense of a new order. Sexual allure and male domination of women is the least of Hitler’s interests. Experiments on women in concentration camps is a predilection of demented interests of Nazi doctors; not because of belief in misogyny, but belief in a final solution that will create a super race.
Hitler’s relevance to the subject of misogyny is in the creation of an “other”. To a misogynist, the “other” is women for men who succumb to the fiction of male superiority. To the misogynist, women become the source of men’s problems rather than their helpmates or equals.
Misogyny is a cancer in the world’s body politic. Regulated freedom and equal opportunity are its cure. The diversity of human life demands equal opportunity for all. This does not mean everyone is equal but that each should be able to achieve what they are capable of achieving. Regulated freedom is a necessity because all human beings are motivated by money, power, and prestige; each of which can lead to greed, corruption, and hubris. All human beings are subject to the same vices. All men and women should have an equal right to say yes or no to greed, corruption, and hubris. Holland’s point is that women do not have the same rights as men because of centuries of cultural bias.
John A. Farell (Author, former White House correspondent and Washington editor for The Boston Globe.).
“So different and so alike” is what comes to mind in listening to John Farrell’s biography of Richard Nixon. President Nixon is characterized as thin-skinned, vindictive, and dissembling; a description echoed by today’s President. Both make comments reflecting ethnic racism with reprehensible private comments. Both attack news publishers; particularly the Washington Post and New York Times.
However, Farrell shows Nixon to be clearly unlike Trump. Nixon understands political reality while Trump clings to a skewed personal reality.
Nixon and Trump appear both misogynistic, and anti-intellectual. Both viscerally react to perceived slights. Both have morally corrupt views of society.
One uses the FBI and former CIA spies to discredit political’ opposition; the other demands loyalty more than truth from national security agencies.
Nixon avoids unfavorable publicity while Trump manufactures it. Nixon exemplifies international, geo-political, and professional foreign policy while Trump follows an amateurish parochial isolationist foreign policy. Nixon operates from a perspective of power-hungry self-interest, while Trump operates from a “monied” self-interest.
Trump bullies the President of Montenegro.
Nixon is surreptitiously thuggish, while Trump is outwardly thuggish.
Farrell recounts Nixon’s early years of overt and benign support of McCarthyism. Nixon justifies his penchant for exposing communist sympathizers with his successful prosecution of Alger Hiss. (Ironically, Hiss is convicted for a cover-up rather than espionage; just as Nixon is impeached for a cover-up rather than a burglary.)
HENRY KISSINGER (FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & NAT. SECURITY ADVISER FOR NIXON AND FORD, WINNER OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE)
Nixon and Trump have little respect for experts. Nixon demeans Henry Kissinger, a Harvard educated intellectual, who became Nixon’s Secretary of State and a principal in the negotiation for the first SALT agreement with Russia and the opening of Communist China.
Nixon fires a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate burglary. Trump, according to the Mueller report, orders the same action regarding Robert Mueller.
The only difference appears to have been–members of Trump’s administration refuse to follow orders.
Front page of the Mueller report-text following:
Trump demeans the scientific community by denying global warming and removing America from the Paris Climate Accord.
On balance, Nixon is shown by Farrell to be much more presidential than Trump but the perspective of history weighs heavily on that assessment.
Ending Vietnam at the expense of South Vietnamese is a mixed blessing but Nixon stopped the carnage. Opening China to the world is a great American accomplishment which history fairly attributes to Nixon and Kissinger.
Nixon, like all human beings, is flawed. He is not the first President to lie. He is not the first President to kill innocents. Only time will tell if Trump is more than what he seems.
Revisionist history always raises the specter of truth or fiction. Some histories report Ulysses Grant as a drunk, a failed farmer, a mediocre student of West Point, an uncaring General of soldier’s slaughter, and an inept President of the United States.
Ronald White tells a different story. He implies Grant is one of the three greatest leaders in American history. White ranks Grant with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
As may not be widely known, Grant chose to resign from the army in 1854 because of a threat of court martial from a commanding officer. The commanding officer alleges Grant is too drunk to carry out his duty as a ranking officer at his post. White explains Grant’s choice to resign as a defense against the stigma of trial.
Based on research, White suggests Grant fears embarrassment for his wife and family with a public trial. After leaving the Army, Grant tries his hand at farming and finds he cannot make it profitable.
He sells his farm interest and carries its debt until paid in full. Grant asks his father to allow him to work for him in his tanning business as a salesman. When civil war is declared, Grant requests return to the Army as a Union officer. As a graduate of West Point, his request is granted; partly for military necessity, but certainly with knowledge of a mark against his character.
Grant is shown to make his mark in history at the Battle of Vicksburg. Beginning as a frontal assault that changes into a siege, Grant confirms his reputation as a master strategist and winning union general. To many, Vicksburg is the turning point in America’s civil war.
It is unquestioned by White that many Union soldiers die under Grant’s command, but Grant is the first Union officer to fight and win battles. Grant is soon promoted to Brigadier General. Grant is shown to be a quick study who makes strategic mistakes but learns to assess and manage fellow officers who battle and beat Confederate armies.
Grant at Cold Harbor
White reports that Grant is deeply affected by loss of close friends and soldiers. However, Grant retains a fierce determination to win reunification of the States.
Grant is strongly supported by Abraham Lincoln who reveres and respects Grant’s hard-won battles against the Confederacy.
Grant abhors slavery and fully endorses freedom for slaves and enlistment of the freed into the Union Army. White reflects on the character of Grant by noting that he is a self-effacing leader who supports and rewards successful subordinates while serving as a fierce fighter for unionization and the equality of all human beings.
CIVIL WAR RECRUITS (OVER 180,000 BLACK MEN FOUGHT FOR THE UNION ARMY DURING THE CIVIL WAR.)
ANDREW JOHNSON (17TH PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. 1865-1869) After Lincoln’s assassination, White reveals the contentious time and inept handling of the government by Andrew Johnson. Johnson is impeached. He is accused in eleven articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives.
(Legislation of that time forbade the President from discharging cabinet members without approval of Congress.) Grant privately, and later publicly, opposed Johnson’s actions as President. White also notes that Grant argues against Johnson’s attempts to return the South to slavery by allowing state governments to continue discrimination against Blacks.
Grant argues for military intervention in southern state governments when they discriminate against minorities. This remains an unresolved issue until Grant becomes President, after Johnson’s completed term.
ULYSSES GRANT POLITICAL CARTOON REGARDING CORRUPTION IN HIS ADMINISTRATION.
White completes Grant’s biography by noting that the “Gilded Age” (a title coined by Mark Twain) smudges Grant’s reputation because of the greed of a few men who knew Grant and tried to take advantage of their association. Some were members of Grant’s administration, but White argues that none of them included Grant in their sordid schemes.
White infers a naivete in Grant because he views others as he views himself. Once one gathers Grant’s confidence, White implies Grant loses his objectivity. White illustrates Grant’s credulity in having joined a Ponzi scheme that nearly bankrupts his family. This credulity is further explained by White in the story of Grant’s personally written biography of the war. Mark Twain protects Grant from making a huge financial mistake in how his memoirs are to be published.
Truth is left to historians, and society’s judgement.
Trump’s second impeachment–what is society’s and the Republican party’s judgement?
Is White’s revisionist history truth or fiction? One draws their own conclusion, but few human beings are untouched by the seduction of money, power, and prestige. White’s story of Ulysses Grant suggests he is among the untouched few. White makes a compelling and interesting case for Grant’s place in American history.
Truth is left to historians, and society’s judgement. Who knows; e.g. Ulysses Grant had his critics but time has revised his place in history. What awaits today’s American President in histories’ and societies’ judgement?