REALITY HAS AN ANTI-AMERICAN BIAS:
I don’t know much about Lincoln or the Secession War. Although I confess that I certainly know more that American college graduates. While I admit that this is nothing glorious, it’s enough to say plenty, in a grand American tradition of knowing it all, that I will denigrate, later in this essay.
Propelled by the momentum acquired by watching the excellent “Django Unchained”, I went on with doing my duty, and watching “Lincoln”. This movie frenzy started with “Life of Pi” watched with my three year old daughter. She is familiar with natural food procurement processes unfolding in nature documentaries. So she did not mind that the tiger killed the hyena. What scared her more were the waves, a healthy fear to have.
I heard that Obama liked the “Life of Pi”, while he did not like as much the Spielberg movie, “Lincoln”. I could guess why: “Lincoln” the movie had got to be boring for those not anxious to boast that they are intellectually inclined. The movies reminded me of a shallow version of one of my own essays, spread over three hours.
The movie depicts the last 4 months or so in Lincoln’s life. The Confederacy is running out of steam and men. The Civil War is finishing, but the mass dying on the battlefields is in no way abating. A butchery without compare in the history of the West. Lincoln is trying to use the momentum of his re-election and battlefield victories to abolish slavery. (As it was, slavery was finally outlawed after Lincoln’s assassination, in December 1865.)
Contemporary citizens of the USA can only find that picture uncomfortable. Is that all what the great USA was about? Buying people? what sort of city on the hill was that? what sort of example for humanity? And it was a scandal not being able to buy people anymore? Was slavery the greatest cause worth dying for?
The movies is thus somewhat anti-American, as it shows too much reality, the incredible trash that political life was in the USA at the time. OK, sorry about discriminating against that particular period. it’s still trashy today, one could even say trashier than ever. After all, courtesans in Washington are trying to kill the planet.
I saw a picture of Obama shooting a gun today (OK, that was an appropriate gun, so gigantic it was not conducive to mass shooting). Apparently to show he still loved guns, in spite of all the little children dying, pierced with bullets. Is this was the presidential moral fiber has come down to? Salute the shooting of the children by the shooting of the guns? Should have Lincoln tried to seduce his opposition too? Will I have dreams of Lincoln passing by, pulled by with powerful black men chained to his chariot, he whips softly?
If Obama had been in the White House instead of Lincoln, in 1865, would he have had photographers immortalize him, whipping up a slave, to show to the slave lobby that he, Obama loved slaves too?
Obama could point out that gun totting Americans shooting down gun totting Americans is not as big a problem as Americans buying Americans. Right. Especially in Washington: is it not the essence of the place?
However Americans shooting down their own families (according to statistics, that’s the most marking activities of those with guns) is only a psychological hook: something very small, very hard, with lots of consequences.
If Americans are obsessive about shooting other Americans, should we be surprised that they don’t mind thinking exactly what they masters told them to think, and shooting the biosphere down too? Something about the rage inside rather that the speech outside. A complementary principle. obama is often too subtle by half, and gets played instead of being the one playing.
Strictly from statistics, the USA is the only developed country where most of the war dead happened during a Civil War (the losses were close to one million, the latest scholarship shows: about 3% of the population).
HIS DARK SIDE WAS BIGGER THAN YOURS:
“Lincoln” the movies, shows that Lincoln, the president, had to buy his way out of slavery. Lincoln used whatever it took. Big difference with the not-doing-anything-much president.
Obama and his plutocratic demoncratic Congress (yes: demon-cratic) did not put much pressure on banks, health providers and corporations. According to Obama, these problems do not compare with slavery.
But Obama is wrong. Slavery was a joke. A very very very bad joke, but still a joke. They might as well have sold human meat at the market. Actually that’s what they did. But it went against the flow of civilization. The Romans themselves would have been shocked by American racism. American slavery was that weird. That full of hatred and greed.
The problem with the present atmospheric crisis is that it is doing judo with civilization; it’s using the very momentum of civilization, to trip it. The present crisis goes with the flow, and was never seen before.
The worst scandal being the USA-led total absence of any serious efforts to stop the climate catastrophe.
In all these things Obama did not exert presidential powers, contrarily to what many of his predecessors did, and Lincoln did, first of all. Obama was opposed within his own party on cap and trade, and, instead of threatening to destroy his opponents, small hurtful piece by small hurtful piece, he made clear he did not want to fight.
A commander in chief who can’t fight? A commander in chief who thinks it is wiser to not engage in battle? What a bizarre notion. It’s the symptom of someone who did not read the job’s description.
I suspect that Obama, who tries to ride Lincoln as he were a horse, has reason to feel diminished by the 16th president. Obama goes around writing on official documents, that he is black. And Obama went all out to kill Bin Laden. And Obama went all too much out ordering extrajudicial killings and drone madness. True. But all this is Mickey Mouse style Dark Side.
The real, the glorious Dark Side is about shock and awe, not popularity, but fear, and justice. The real Dark Side, the useful Dark Side, the honorable Dark Side, is about doing what is necessary for the highest moral purposes. All has, always will be.
Obama’s Mickey Mouse Dark Side is a smokescreen that should not fool those who are real tough. When he had to be really tough with financiers, corporations, the fossil fuel lobbies, gun lobby, military (Afghanistan), and the for profit health care lobby Obama just meowed, and purred.
In other words, when Obama had to be real tough to the modern slave masters, he just folded. Lincoln did not fold. That’s why he has a big statue in Washington standing in a silent judgment on those of his successors who just aspire to free rent, girls, bodyguards, and lots of money, a la Bill Clinton, the president of the Degenerate State of America.
(Or Utterly Stupid America? It’s Clinton and his minions who empowered financiers, by diverting most money creation towards financial derivatives, and the likes of Enron. To this day, the fact that the Demoncratic Party is full of Romneys escapes the little minds.)
Lincoln had to use the Dark Side, for the triumph of goodness, big time, because George Washington had not had the moral courage to do his job. Lincoln went, well, all out. This is mentioned in the movies during an exchange Lincoln has with the commander of the US Army Ulysses Grant (himself president later).
SLAVERY IS NOT EASY TO QUIT:
Lincoln, as president, using his considerable war powers, had made an Emancipation Declaration, January 1, 1863. It freed the slaves over which the Union had no power (!)
The Emancipation was not a law passed by Congress. But by Lincoln’s personal “war powers” as a modern Caesar.
Caesar himself indeed used similar war powers during the Roman civil war, as Consul, and, or, elected Dictator; that’s where this is all coming from, through the Franks, and, in particular, through Consul Clovis who had to knock some sense in his Franks, that, from now on, the fascist Roman model of war would rule (incident of the Vase de Soisson!).
As Lincoln explains in the movie, that Emancipation Declaration was full of contradiction, because it recognized slaves as property confiscated from the enemy. Except Lincoln did not want to recognize the South’s rebels as enemy, as that would recognize them as an independent nation. Nor did Lincoln want to recognize slaves as property, because, when the war was over, logically the owners would be able to recover their property.
So Lincoln wanted to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the USA, which recognized explicitly that people could not be owned, or forced to work, except if they had been convicted of a crime through due process. In other words, no more slavery.
Some claimed that the amendment would entice the Confederacy to fight to the bitter end. But that was nothing the military could not fix. The bitter end was at hand, thanks to Sherman’s March to the Sea. The best way to handle terrorists is to destroy them, as president Hollande pointed out, in connection with Mali.
The various quandaries encountered in abrogating slavery were nothing new. Bathilde, an English slave, escaped an abusive plutocrat, who had her recaptured. But she caught the eye of the Prince, who bought her, freed her, married her, and engrossed her. Then he became king and promptly died.
The Franks, as all Germans, had arisen, long ago as independent farmers, and hated slavery. However they encountered Greco-Roman civilization, more advanced in many ways, but also pervaded by fascism, slavery and militarism. The Germans learned from their Roman masters, but both their implementation of fascism and slavery was unenthusiastic. However the Gallo-Roman aristocracy had become entangled with the Christian Church, who claimed to be very good, although Christ never said (supposing he really said anything at all), against slavery.
But there it was, a queen of the Franks, who had been a rebellious slave, a few years before. Her government and the regency council agreed to do away with slavery, but Bathilde had it less easy than Lincoln: there was no civil war with enslaving rebels. Bathilde’s government could not just expropriate bishops. Bishops, being scions of the plutocracy, had often armies of slaves.
So Bathilde had to be subtle. She outlawed SLAVE TRADING within the Merovingian empire. That was as good as outlawing the slave trade outright. That was in 658 CE.
This prohibition was later extended to the even more gigantic Carolingian empire that surfaced within a generation. (That Venice made lots of money trading non Frankish slaves with the Islamists is irrelevant, except in that it created a conceptual pattern that would allow to authorize slavery in the colonies.)
Fast forward 1207 years, it’s 1865, and the USA, institutionally, militarily and historically a Franco-British colony, is trying to finally outlaw slavery, as Lafayette had urged relentlessly his good friend George Washington to do. Lafayette was a French military man, and he knew all too well what a monstrosity slavery was.
All over Europe, but for the vast areas controlled by the Muslim Turks, and the wilds of Russia, thanks to Bathilde, slavery was unlawful.
Lafayette entreaties were unsuccessful. Washington congratulated his friend about his humanity, but obstinately refused to do anything positive. Jefferson (3rd president and a babble box) was pretty much the same.
Arrives Lincoln. Lincoln, you see, is courageous. Instead of going around with armies of bodyguards, he goes around pretty much unprotected.
President Hollande made a visite éclaire to Timbuktu, 5 days after the sacred city fell to the French Guerre Éclaire. (Contrarily to Anglo-Saxon-Wall Street French bashing legend, it’s French generals who invented the concept of Blitzkrieg, and cleverly published it, in 1932, teaching Nazis something!).
Hollande’s visit was courageous. So did Lincoln’s 15 battlefield visits during the Civil War, oceans of bodies still writhing on the ground, a general holding a pistol cocked up, just behind him, lest one of the Confederate soldiers was not completely dead.
Armies of bodyguards is no new trick. One of Caesar’s generals used to always go around with such an army, Caesar contemptfully observed in his memoirs. The fact that the underling survived (with wounds) an assassination attempt, did not impress Caesar very much.
Caesar himself refused even the accompaniment of Marc Anthony, a superlative special force brute, to go to the Senate, although he had been warned of an assassination plot that day. What was Caesar’s point? Well, he did not run a dictatorship, he governed with the approbation of the Populus (funny for someone who had made himself “dictator for life”, but the word “dictator” became pejorative only after Caesar’s assassination!). In the Senate, pierced by dozens of knife wounds, Caesar found out that he did not govern with the assent of the plutocrats.
Lincoln did not run a dictatorship, either. He wanted to make that very clear. At the battle of Appomatox, the army of the chief of the Confederate Army, Lee was surrounded on three sides. After 700 casualties, Lee surrendered. 29,000 Confederate soldiers were paroled. Lincoln wanted, and had ordered, generalized forgiveness.
Caesar and Lincoln died, when they were still on the verge of attempting great things (Caesar by putting an end to the Persian-German problem in one stroke, Abraham Lincoln by freeing colored people from all those other chains that still held them, such as no right to vote, or no right to marry out of their “race”, etc.)
THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW SHOULD LEARN, INSTEAD OF BARKING OUT ORDERS:
Are there lessons, within Lincoln wondrous adventure, to be drawn for the world today?
Something striking about the USA, is the tendency to give lessons to everybody, as if the USA invented civilization. Now, OK, slavery was still lawful in Turkey in 1865. But there was no slavery in most states, worldwide. In 1865. The USA was a glaring exception. Can one be that primitive, and still give lessons about how to live, as the USA does to the planet, year after year? Yes, sure, Jihadists do that every day.
What is striking, in the politics of the USA is the absence of towering intellectual figures dominating the debate. No Montaigne, no Montesquieu, no Voltaire, there. Instead, mongrels are disputing in front an electorate of the gullible what god wanted, while filling up their pockets.
In Antiquity, even a fascist philosopher such as Aristotle had to make excuses to justify slavery. He knew he had to. That was from a tiny city, Athens. In the gigantic USA of 1865, no philosopher dominates the landscape, except, well, for the philosopher president, Lincoln himself. A philosopher among mice is still a philosopher, I guess.
Aristotle whined they, his kind, the slave masters, had no machines, so they needed slaves. However that means Aristotle had the concept of machine. Aristotle knew that there were machines. The Greeks had just made no effort to develop them, and the Romans were going to become even more lazy.
Because there were machines: slavery just looked more convenient, thus machines were not deployed.
IT’S WORSE TO ENSLAVE THE PLANET THAN TO ENSLAVE MAN:
Just like now. But now is worse. Combining the oxygen we breathe with 450 million years of poisonous, flammable rocks and rotten fluids, looks more convenient to the monsters who lead us to oblivion, than deploying the new energy sources we have at the ready. While there is still time.
Slavery was convenient, until Bathilde outlawed it. Then there was no choice. The machines that had been waiting in the wings were deployed., and animals were bioengineered. It took Papin 1,000 years more to introduce a perfectly functioning steam boat, but Papin’s steam engine was the logical evolution of centuries of metal works and engineering. The Cathedrals could be constructed only because of hydraulic hammers, to bend the enormous steel girders.
In another gloomy perspective Dr. Chu, the Energy Secretary a Nobel Prize winner in physics resigned. Under Chu a form of Cobertism was practiced: encouraging some industries by direct financing, That’s one pillar, but, to make something a stable sustainable switch, two more pillars were needed: making fossil fuels pay for their true cost (in other words a carbon tax, thus making better energy sustainable), and massive fundamental research.
Quoting Michelangelo, Chu said: “‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.’”
President Washington obstinately refused to see that slavery was a mortal moral danger. He had set his mark too low. Similarly, when Obama, as the biosphere faces the worst crisis in 65 million years, informs us that problems in the USA are not as severe as in Lincoln’s times, he sets his eyes too low, somewhere by his feet.
Chu pointed out that burning fossils and their gases is economically viable in some sense: “Our ability to find and extract fossil fuels continues to improve, and economically recoverable reser-voirs around the world are likely to keep pace with the rising demand for decades. As the saying goes, the Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones; we transitioned to better solutions.”
Our ability to find and kill innocent victims continues to improve, too. But that does not mean we should do it. The Slave Age in the USA did not end because it ran out of slaves, but because a better solution was imposed onto the slave masters, by force. Lincoln was force. Slavery was outlawed.
Combining all our oxygen with fossilized carbon should also be outlawed. An Emancipation Declaration of oxygen, using war powers, should be made.
Chu used the old tried and true: “There is an ancient Native American saying: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” A few short decades later, we don’t want our children to ask, “What were our parents thinking? Didn’t they care about us?””
The Natives did not inherit the air from their ancestors, either. Air is the fundamental human right, a right that cannot be let to expire for a minute.
So it’s not just about the poorest and the unborn. There is much more than that. It’s about us, too. Why did Lincoln destroy slavery? Lincoln destroyed slavery, not because he was “black”, and not to save his children (one of his sons died in the unCivil War).
No, much more simply, Lincoln destroyed slavery because Lincoln was a good man and he found slavery abhorrent.
Show me what you hate, and I will tell you how good you are.
It’s worse to enslave the planet than to enslave man. Make a note of it. Too bad there is no Lincoln around today to save the planet, but only the greedy to lead the needy.