Overweening Generalist

Friday, November 18, 2011

Language and Class Warfare, and a Poet

Demanding that the tax rate for the richest return to 1999 levels: "class warfare."
Those working on behalf of the richest wanting to slash Medicare and Social Security: "reform."

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass (rhymes with "grass"), reading his poem "The Problem of Describing Color" (He announces it as "difficulty" but in his book Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005 it appears as "problem," page 9.) 84 seconds long. Do you have 84 seconds for poetry?:


On November 10, when UC Berkeley students peacefully protested Occupy-style, Hass, 70 years old, was holding hands with people on both sides of him and campus police jabbed him in the ribs with a baton. As far as I know, he's okay, physically.

What was that line from Orwell? Something like "When I see the police beating a man on the ground, I don't have to ask what side I'm on."

Speaking of which: video of an Iraq war vet being beaten by police in Oakland on November 2nd.

Watching Occupy-like actions from Madrid on YouTube, police rioting, beating protesters indiscriminately, a colleague noted something a commenter wrote below:

"Class warfare: the rich are now rich enough to pay half the population to kill the other half of the population."

Addendum: Hass recently published an I Was There editorial in the NYT, HERE.

6 comments:

Annabel Lee said...

The quiet irony, which has barely been touched on by the media, but did get some Maddow treatment, was the location of where the UC Berkeley police beatings took place. The protestors were standing along the railing beside the Mario Savio stairs.

The irony of the situation being that Savio was protesting for free speech on campus in the 1960s, and for police to attack peaceful students for exercising that same freedom of speech at the same location as 40-some years ago.

Perhaps it's just one of those minor things that doesn't add much to the story as a whole, but it does really serve as a wake-up call that things aren't always the way they seem, and can change in an instant without any warning or justification.

michael said...

The irony of being clubbed by campus goon cops where Mario Savio helped set off the FSM in 1964 is painfully obvious to my crowd. The last time I felt something like this, vis a vis symbolic statements and their physical location in space/time was when Glenn Beck held his rally at the MLK memorial site.

The banality of Glenn Beck and his followers, the UCB Board of Regents and their goon squad? A billionaire named Bloomberg being the head honcho responsible for book burning all the while insisting he's a staunch First Amendment guy? I don't need to watch horror films. The horror of vicious, programmed robotic behavior by supposedly conscious humans is creepy enough for me, thankyouverymuch.

Anonymous said...

It was ironic to realize that the destruction of the world would not be the work of Machiavelli, but of Sancho Panza.
The same abuses, the same police state. Chronic apathy and confusion. Define the patriotic necessity. Create the framed reference quickly and don't surrender.
Mike W.

michael said...

@Anon/Mike W: Aye! Define the patriotic necessity, create the framed reference quickly, never surrender, then beat the traffic home in time for a juicy steak. Or a Waldorf Salad.

Do we bleed any less due to Sancho y no Niccolo?

Could it be that this was the best we could do? If so, how did we let it happen? (A: It was the best we could do!) I must take some small part of responsibility. L'Etat c'est us! Fuck the environment! Who cares about rising seas and ever-violent storms! It's the local economy, stupid!...Yep: we evolved and got these huge brains and never really learned how to use them optimally. Maybe we needed more time? The sand is running out. Can we get a do-over? How about No One Ever Owns the Land, Anywhere? How did we come to accept that some people can just OWN THE LAND? It seems crazy to me. Most people I talk to think I'm crazy for even bringing it up. A neglected/marginalized/discarded person named Henry George said a simple tax on land ownership wd solve our problems. Was he nutz?

Mike: We love America. We want to save it from rapacity, and capitalism needs rules if it's going to work. We ask more, but if this is all we ask, it's okay for now? Re-Regulate the banks! Money out of politics! Everyone who qualifies for the ballot gets to be in every debate and everyone gets free and equal access on TV/radio/etc: We the People own the airwaves! If the neo-Nazis have a candidate, let's hear his ideas. Same with the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Labor Party, the Discordian Party, etc...I am adamantly for these ideas, but if you don't like 'em I have more...

Anonymous said...

How about just abolishing property tax? Nobody really owns the land anyway after five years of not giving the local Nottingham it's due. The airwaves... monitored by the NSA, owned by the ministry of truth and influenced by the porn industry. We've come a long way baby. A California wish list in a bankrupt state. Fire congress, dismantle the fed, give up worldwide peacekeeping. Maybe then we could dance a little jig and have a beer.

michael said...

Re: property tax: the utter untouchability of Howard Jarvis's 1978 Prop 13 in CA seems a hardcore social fact. Some intellectuals talk about the devastation in its wake, but when was the last time you heard a politician even bring it up? Everyone probably presumes it's a sure way to get shot by a "Lone Nut."

I think NSA and the entire national surveillance state apparatus could still do their thing while We the People bought airtime at reduced prices and had publicly financed elections. There's a ton of good stuff out there on this by far finer minds than mine, and sure, it's a sea-change, hopefully into something rich but not that strange, and do-able.

What? Are you knocking porn? It has driven every new form of media!

Re: fire congress. I'd get rid of - vote out, if I had some SuperWand (porn again?) about about 515 of the 535 in the House/Senate. Ain't gonna happen. That's why we need publicly financed elections.

Dismantle the Fed: the factions I've run into at Occupy events that talk about the problems with the Federal Reserve system are, without fail, the most interesting to listen to. As I understand it, there is not enough gold in the world to support the debt we now have, so the most radical schemes have problems. But breaking up the Fed and other ideas like getting rid of fractional reserve, etc...interesting and mentally challenging stuff. The 19th and early 20th century decentralizers come into strong play here, seems to me.

Worldwide peacekeeping: For every 10 people who know about this, at least 8 are with you on this, in my experience.

Oh fuck it: let's do a little jig and have a beer anyway!