Hiroshima is a book written by a man by the name of John Hersey. Mr. Hersey was born in Tientsin, China in 1914. My guess is that John Hersey is no longer with us - if he is ... you have my apologies John.
Mr. Hersey has written a good number of books - and I have read none of them other than this one; sorry John but, as you must know/have known - there are so many books and so little time.
This book is a short book, only 152 pages. Yet it has taken me a very long time to complete. I think I have been working on it for over a year now. The problem is not that it has been boring. The problem is that every time I finish a paragraph, I set the book down in my lap and start meditating on what I have just read.
The book covers the lives of six “hibakusha” - A-bomb survivors. It covers their lives from the day the bomb hit them until …?
In this updated version of the book, Mr. Hersey returns to the lives of his main characters forty years after the original publication of the book and gives a follow-up.
I really don’t know what to say about this book. On the front cover it states - “Everyone able to read should read it.” I disagree. No one should read this book; or should I say - No one should ever had have to read this book. This book should never have been born. This event should never have happened. This is a true life horror story - depicting, vividly, fleshless faces and living, walking, talking human animals whose very eyeballs have been melted in their sockets and the liquid from their once eyes, running down their charred skulls. This book, if it were not true, would be considered too ridiculous to consider.
The characters lives are at the same time courageous, sad, useless, poignant, compelling, pitiable and insignificant. But what do you say?
What point did Mr. Hersey have in mind in writing such a book, I ask myself? What lesson is to be learned from reading such a book?
When I finished reading another controversial book years ago, Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, I asked myself the same question. I said to myself - if the lessons learned from reading that book could be condensed into one sentence what would it be? I think my conclusion satisfies both these books. I decided on the following: When you hear men talking of War as if it is a positive experience - beware.
Pliny (23-79 AD.) “If a man makes water upon a dog’s urine he will become disinclined to copulation.” (Yeah, but what about the Dog?) He also suggests that; “If a woman’s loins are rubbed with blood taken from the ticks upon the back of a black wild bull, she will be inspired with an aversion to sexual intercourse. (Yes, and so too, the tick gatherer, and tick blood spreader - I would imagine.)
ibnal Baytar (Thirteen centuries later): “If a woman urinates in the urine of a wolf, she will never be with child (Of course, and not to mention, “with friends”, either)
Dioscorides: “The menstrual blood of a woman appears to prevent conception when they spread themselves with it.” (I should certainly think so. It would definitely slow me down.) He also suggested eating the kidney of a mule. (He suggested this on his TV show “Dioscorides Live” which was seen nationwide at the time.)
Aetios of Amida (sixth century): Advised woman to wear cat liver in a tube on the left foot or wear the testicles of a cat in a tube around the umbilicus, or carry, as an amulet around the anus - the tooth of a child; or wrap in stag skin the seed of henbane deluded in the milk of a mare nourishing a mule, carry it on her left arm - and don’t drop it! (This has worked for almost all women other than Sophia Loren.)
Albertus Magnus: “The ancients say that if a woman hangs about her neck the finger and the anus of a dead fetus she will not conceive while they are there.” (True, but her house will more than likely be blown up by Right to Life advocates of whom Albertus Magnus was their first champion.)
Shen Nung, Chinese Emperor (273 7-2696), he advised men to have sex often but don’t ejaculate. He wasn’t so concerned with controlling the birth rate as he was in producing sons. This technique returned sperm to the brain and made it stronger. It was later called Coitus Reservatus, (even later to be known as Spermus Backeruptus, the leading cause of fidgeting, nocturnal emissions, the electrolux syndrome and acne in teenage boys.) He also suggests that if your wife persisted in having girl babies, drowned them.
This practice is not to be confused with Cloitus Interruptus, more commonly described by clerics and rabbis as “plowing in the garden and emptying upon the dunghill.” This practice was condemned by Thomas Aquinas to the many thanks of housewives all over America.
Soranus (98-138 A.D.) He suggests that immediately after the man ejaculates the woman ought to ... “get up and sit down with bent knees, and in this position, provoke sneezes.” And Rhazes a thousand years later offered that ... “immediately after ejaculation, let the two come apart and let the woman rise roughly, sneeze and blow her nose several times, and call out in a loud voice, and jump violently backwards seven to nine paces and squeeze her naval with her thumb.” (And the male should lie on his back and light up a Lucky Strike. Hey, come on, sex should be fun for everybody, not just the girls.)
This book The Pill by Bernard Asbell besides being full of useful and energizing information is more than interesting. It is a social as well as a religious experience. One thing is for certain - trying not to have babies has been going on for centuries; thank God.
Hangin’ Out by R. E. Noble It was a long, long time ... a long, long time that we were all just one of the guys just hangin’ out, sittin’ up on the wall. Just hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out! Sometimes we were just there. Sometimes it was a ball. Now I’m older and that’s all the past. Often I wonder if it’s my memory’s lapse, Or did I really know any of those guys. We’re they really pals, buddies, friends? Their memory gets fuzzy. I tell myself that there’s only today. They never knew me, and I never knew them. They’re just a bunch of ghosts in my memory’s way. But then when I’m huddled in one of those lonely corners with all the dark shadows, hard knuckles and calloused hearts, I hear a sigh, a creek, a crack, a cry, And then there’s a tear in my eye. I see a laughing face, then feel a slap on my back. It could be Tom, or Dutch, Chucky or Jack. And all of a sudden, I’m up on the Corner. I’m on the wall. I’m hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out. I’m on the corner; I’m in Costy’s yard. I’m down at Nel’s; or in Meachaou’s back seat. I’m up Joe’s cellar; or behind the Social - a little stick ball, or down the beach. I’m just standin’ on the Corner or in the middle of Lawrence Street. I’m hangin’ out ma. I’m just hangin’ out with my friends, my buddies. Up on the corner. Hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out. I’m up the Corner. I’m on that old bench. Hangin’ Out. I with my old buddies. I’m hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out ... I’m just hangin’ out.
Hitler believes in God. He believes that God is manifested through Nature. By observing Nature and Her goals and methods we come to an understanding of God. God is cruel. God is powerful. God is without mercy but the Truth and purpose of His ways and methods, though apparently reason-less and haphazard, are truly methodical, plainly obvious and can not be denied. We can verify this by simply looking at our lives, our history, and the natural processes of all living things. The first principle of Adolf’s God is death and/or killing. God kills all living things. God is the creator of death and the apparent murderer of all mankind and creation. With life comes death. But in death we find God’s purpose. God’s reasons in killing and destroying all living things are for the promotion of perfection. God’s goal in creating species is their eventual perfection. The human species, as with all living species, is being guided by the hand of Providence towards perfection. Perfection will eventually be achieved by the survival of the fittest. The ‘fittest’ of whatever species will conquer and destroy the unfit, and eventually dominate and bring the species to its natural objective ... perfection. This is the Will of God. This is the plan of God. And if one looks at Nature closely, through all of Her cruelties, be they flood, famine, disease, pestilence or War, one sees the Hand of God at work. It then logically follows that to assist God in His goal of the eventual perfection of all species, one should actively participate in His plan. To do the work of God on earth is to promote the perfection of the species and this is most easily and directly accomplished by eliminating, destroying, exterminating and killing the inferior. The superior should be breed and promoted and the inferior should be killed and destroyed. To participate in the achievement of these goals is to act virtuously, and in accordance with the principles of Nature and the Will of God. What we, as humans, have interpreted as Evil, is really the Hand of God working in its cruel, but necessary, way to promote its goal of the perfection of the species. Interfering in the work of God, by encouraging inferiority, of whatever breed or species, is the true nature of Evil. Protecting the sick, diseased, inflicted and dying is Evil. Compensating for the weak, the unproductive, the mistakes of Nature, is evil. To be a positive participant in attacking true evil is not only virtuous but courageous, even if at this moment in time it may seems murderous or cruel. To do the work of Evil is to promote the survival of the inferior. To do the work of God is to destroy the inferior. The conundrum of the philosophies of ‘God’ has forever been the justification of good and evil. Adolf justifies, or rectifies Evil, and the cruelties of life, by creating a finite God who is seeking perfection through the processes of natural and social evolution. God, acting through Nature, and the processes of natural selection and natural destruction, and adhering to the basic principle of the survival of the fittest, is leading the world and its creatures through Divine Providence, to its eventual heavenly goal of PERFECTION.
[This is my personal interpretation, based on incites from my studies of the work Mein Kampf.]
They tell me that Albert Einstein is the modern day father of a new concept of the Universe. I am told that Albert has said that the Universe is ‘finite’ but yet ‘unbounded’. This supposedly means that the Universe is limited in the amount of matter (planets, stars etc.) but, because space is curved, you can take off in any supposed direction and never fall off or come to the end. Space is curved, it seems, because of the basic properties of matter, Gravity, Electromagnetism, the Weak forces, and the Strong forces. The problem with this theory, my interest in philosophy tells me, is the notion that in this theory Space is considered to be ‘nothing’ or a non-entity. Space according to Einstein’s theory has no attributes other than those donated to it by matter. In other words, if we can imagine removing all of the matter (stars, planets and whatever) from the heavens, the heavens will disappear also, and we will then have “nothing”. If we put all of the matter in the Universe into one spot, as it is proposed in the Big Bang theory, what happens to the Strong Forces, the Weak Forces, Electromagnetism, and Gravity? Since there is no other matter for the Big-Bang-matter to interact with then the forces that comprise ‘Space’ no longer are, and Space should have disappeared, and if there is no ‘Space’ then where is the Big bang matter that now comprises the Universe? (Carl Sagan’s answer: “It is everywhere.” ?) What happens to ‘motion’? What happens to whatever is surrounding the tiny ball which is to be the predecessor of the next Big Bang? Is this ball of matter stationary or in motion? If it is stationary, what is it stationary in? And if it is moving, what is it moving in? What keeps it functioning wherever and however it might be? If it is everywhere, what keeps it there? Space, it seems, has no discernible effect on matter, and as of yet has not been detected by any of man’s science, but yet it has to be, for without it matter can not function, or exist. My mind can conjure Space without Matter, but it cannot conjure Matter without Space. Space may not be aether as once thought, but it does seem to me that it must be more than just a phenomenon or attribute of Matter. It may not figure mathematically, or as a part of the study of physics but it certainly must be considered conceptually, and metaphysically. Space, I think, must be considered something in and of itself, philosophically, but what it is, I have no idea. But THAT it is, seems to me to be unquestionable, and objective and not subjective as Sartre and others contend.
Oradour-sur-Glane “War for an Afternoon” by Jens Kruuse
by Richard E. Noble
Oradour is a very small town in southwestern France. It is the scene of a World War II atrocity. The German SS in an act of reprisal against acts of ‘terrorism” wiped out the whole village.
Shirtless bakers and farmers in rolled up work sleeves, women, and a young school teacher with her whole class of little children in their little wooden shoes were paced off to a horrible death. Approximately 680 men, women and children were executed.
The males were separated from the females and children. With the women and children safely sequestered in the local church, the men were then brought to their knees with machine guns. They were shot in the legs, so as not to die immediately. The SS soldiers then covered all of the victims with brush and straw and set them on fire. Their screams could be heard far and wide.
Next the SS soldiers went to the church where a similar execution was repeated with the women and children. Low machine gun fire cutting them to their knees, followed by incineration of the moaning, crying, pleading victims. By one miracle or another several of the town’s people escaped. They told their stories of brutal German soldiers murdering their loved ones. Shooting old woman and men, who were too sick to rise, in their beds; busting open heads with their gun butts, booting and kicking women and children who were moving too slow or protesting, and in several instances the soldiers were laughing and joking while in the act.
After the war an attempt was made to round up the German SS who participated in that slaughter and bring them to justice. Twenty-one German soldiers were apprehended. All pee-ons, no officers or generals could be found or apprehended. The authorities had sixty-five names. Of the sixty-five, fourteen were actually Frenchmen who were fighting on the side of the Germans. Only seven Germans were caught, the rest were acknowledged to be in hiding.
The first challenge was to the court itself. The laws dealing with international war were limited. Was this court illegal and attempting to enforce laws made “after the fact”? Second, could any soldier on either side be charged with a crime for simply doing his duty?
In all countries, including our own, a soldier’s duty is to do or die, not to reason why. A soldier is given an order by a superior.
He must obey, or suffer consequences ranging from death to imprisonment. He must obey even if this law be criminal in nature. He can lodge a protest later. The soldiers further claimed that their sensitivity towards murder and/or killing and the morality of individual conscience was drummed out of them as a matter of course in their military basic training. Military officers make the same claim - only doubly true. They must be the example to their men. In effect, all officers and soldiers are free in time of war by the catch 22 of the code of military structures all over the world. As soldiers bound to duty they are charged to operate without conscience. They are no longer morally or legally responsible for their actions. An officer may be responsible for giving the order but he is relieved of the burden of his decision by the law in many countries and the Declaration on Human Rights made by the United Nations that no person can be punished for a crime that he, himself, did not commit. At Nuremberg a new international standard was attempted under the charge of “Crimes Committed against Humanity”.
Whether this new standard of humanitarianism was actually achieved or not is still debated.
The French soldiers further contended that when their country surrendered to the Germans, they in effect, abandoned them and the lives of their families to the enemy, and that this new French government had no claim to be punishing anybody. All of the consequences were initiated, first of all, by the French government’s own treason or cowardice.
Many of the French defendants had fought on both sides during the War. A good many were from the Alsace or Lorraine area and were impressed into the German military as young teenagers after their area was occupied. They claimed that their lives and the lives of their families back home were under constant threat of death from the German regulars and authorities. This trial was tearing the French public apart, but it continued.
Finally the government declared an amnesty for all soldiers who fought in the war on either side. But the judge refused to release any of the prisoners, most of whom had now been under custody awaiting trail for eight years or more. He said that this case had nothing to do with Military Law or any codes dealing with collective guilt. This was a “good old penal code” violation. Certain individuals had been accused of killing over six hundred individuals and burning down an entire town. The trial would continue and the defendants would be judged on an individual basis.
The opposition to the arguments of the defendants was clear and simple. Thousands upon thousands of honorable brave Frenchmen had stood up to this exact challenge by the occupying enemy and been executed. Many of their families were also
executed. Many of these people were tortured and then executed. The soldiers who committed the atrocities at Oradour were nothing more than cowardly traitors to themselves and their country. They did have a choice, no matter what they claim. They could have stood up to the German Terrorists and died in front of a firing squad, rather than becoming cowardly terrorists themselves.
The trail continued and decisions were made. The verdicts ranged from the death penalty to two years in prison. But this did not stem the public upheaval. Each side was outraged by the decisions. One side claiming that the penalties were too severe and the other saying that all of the traitors should have been shot. The streets all over France were erupting in violence, the legislature stepped in. In a very heated debate it was decided to let the verdict stand as declared, but the penalties not enforced. All of the defendants were secreted out of town and back to their individual communities.
The mayor of Oradour removed the Croix de guerre that had been awarded by the state from the town hall and personally handed it back to the representative of the state.
The Legion d’honneur given to the families of the victims was returned in a similar manner.
A monument that had been built to honor the victims and provide a place for their bodies was left empty, and is still empty today.
Two new monuments were erected at the town of Oradour. One exhibiting the names and addresses of the Alsatian SS men. On the other the names of the 319 deputies who had voted for their amnesty. By 1966 these monuments had also been removed.
“War for an Afternoon” by Jens Kruuse is the book describing this story. It is quite a read; a real life adventure in the morality and ethics of everyday war.
This is one of those stories that is supposed to make you cry. If you read it and you don’t cry, you’re a better man than I am, Charlie Brown! This is a short story, but it tags all the bases. It deals with the “big stuff’. It deals with life, love, morality, sex, death, religion, friendship, boys and girls, growing up, home, neighborhood and country. For me it is a trip down memory lane. It’s the old days, the old places and the old “gang”. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, it is a story of memories, youth and laughter. I feel like a scientist observing the universe in this book. I can tell you about the planets and the stars. I can theorize and analyze. I can tell you a lot of things. I can explain to you a lot of stuff. I can describe events in detail. I can tell you how. I can tell you where. I can tell you when. But I can’t tell you why. When I was young, I thought of love as a passion. It was a drive, a compulsion, even, in some strange ways, a duty. Now that I am old, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why it is. I observe it once again like the scientist observing the planets. I don’t know why it happens. I don’t know where it comes from. I have no explanation for “that” look in a girl or boy’s eye; for all those mysterious feelings. I once thought that it was all about hormones. All my hormones have pretty much dried up and have now turned into liver spots; yet I still love. I still have love. I realize now that life is, as the philosophers say, a phenomenon. Death is the same. I recently read a book by a man who had lived through both World Wars. He saw a lot of men and women executed. He wrote a section on observing how they reacted to the experience. How some went off kicking and screaming; how some were defiant; how some fell to their knees and begged. Instead of naming this book, “A Summer with Charlie”, it could just as well have been called, “Watching Charlie Die”. In my life, I have watched a lot of friends, relatives and loved ones die. I have witnessed them turn like the leaves of autumn. I have seen them change from living, laughing, vibrant things, into cold, lifeless phenomena. It is a sad thing, but a happenstance that we will each experience very personally. Once again, I can describe the how, the where, and the when, but I can not tell you why. And if the truth be known, nobody can. Not your priest, not your rabbi, not your preacher. They have been trying for centuries. They are all guessing. No matter how confident they may seem, it is all conjecture. No one knows why. Maybe there is no why. In fact, there is no science that deals with the why of anything. We don’t know why the tree, the bug, the ant, the human, the universe. We can only deal with the how, the when and the where of it all. Ever since it happened, I promised myself that I would write this story if I ever had the time, the money and, hopefully, the talent. Well, I’ve found the time and the money; the talent has been illusive. I finally had to give up waiting for it to come and take matters into my own hands. This story is a description of the time ... my time; the place ... my place, my hometown, my growing up; and events - the events of my life and those of some of my buddies. It is what happened. I hope you all enjoy this book. And strangely enough, I hope that it makes you cry. I hope it makes you laugh also. This is not a new story. People have been dying for a long, long time; even youngsters like Charlie. You may not be planning for it right at this moment, but your plans could be interrupted; mine also. Death is not something that we like to dwell upon but it does one well to think about it every now and then. What makes this story unique is that it happened to me and some of my teenage friends. It was an experience that affected all of us, and for the rest of our lives. None of us would ever be the same. Each of us was marked and bound together. The memory of our experience with Charlie that summer would be forever a part of our being. Charlie was one of us. He was one of the guys, one of the old gang. He was our buddy. He wasn’t old enough to be dying. But he did ... and we watched. Charlie said that he didn’t know how. He didn’t know how to die. We all watched Charlie die and we learned how to do it with grace and style. I can only hope to do it as well myself when my turn comes along.
[For more information about my books “A Summer with Charlie” and “Hobo-ing America” e-mail me!]
by Richard E. Noble I’m getting a little confused as to who Adolf is talking to. He is certainly no longer talking to the poor, homeless, huddled masses. He seems now to be talking exclusively to the elitist class - the bourgeoisie; or at least to those individuals of whatever class that are of the opinion that they are better than those they find around them. So, in effect, he is talking to a part of all of us, isn’t he? Adolf is an elitist, monarchist, man of the people - if that is a rational possibility - a critic of all authority; a man who is able to put himself above all the institutions of his society, and yet maintain a simplistic evaluation of the way things should be. A man very much concerned with the ‘how’ of things and very little concerned about the ‘why’; and not at all, it seems as to who or what is right or wrong. He has no analysis of why World War I came about, as we find in the accounts of Winston Churchill. What were its causes? The only concern is with how we can re-establish ourselves and win next time. An example of pure competitive instinct. The world is a game to be conquered or dominated in whatever way one can figure out, and to the victor belongs the spoils. Chapter four is entitled Munich. In this chapter we learn Adolf’s concept of God and His Will. God is the all powerful creator of this universe and nature is one of His regulatory tools. God controls, defines, and purifies the human species through his tools of nature. Nature (and God) is cruel and hard, often merciless. But He does what must be done to promote the survival of the fittest. Of course if promoting the survival of the fittest was God’s intention, why didn’t He simply create the fittest from the very beginning? Why did he create so many unfit species, and then find it necessary to destroy them? It seems that God didn’t know what He was doing and then had to use cruelty to establish His true intentions. Too bad that God wasn’t a little brighter right from the beginning. Adolf looks upon Mother Nature and her proliferation of storms, disasters, and disease, as God’s Will and His Divine Plan - which is, of course, the purification of the human species. And, it almost goes without saying that the best and most perfect example of the human species is Adolf, himself, and his “chosen” people. Adolf, the Moses of the Germanic tribe, is taking up the banner and going to lead his people to the Land of Perfection. It is going to be a rough trip to the Land of Perfection, and it is going to take a lot of blood letting. But killing is the way of God. Death is of the Divine Will. And the fact of this is obvious, for does not God kill us one and all, indiscriminately and at his whim? Adolf has a unique understanding of population control, and, of course, it is all a part of God’s plan. “...One could follow the French example, artificially restrict the increase of births and thus avoid overpopulation…” But, of course using one’s brain and mentality to control Nature (The Will of God) would be ... ‘unnatural’. So let’s do it God’s way. “... Nature, herself, in times of great distress or bad climatic conditions, or where the yields of the soil are poor, steps in by restricting the population of certain countries, or races; this however is a method that is as wise as it is ruthless. She does not restrict the procreative faculty as such, but the conservation of the propagated, by subjecting them to such severe trials and deprivations that all less strong and healthy are forced to return to the bosom of the eternally Unknown. What she allows to endure beyond the inclemency of existence is tested in a thousand ways, hard and well suited to continue to procreate, so that thoroughgoing selection may start again from the beginning. Thus, by acting brutally against the individual and calling him back to herself the moment he is not equal to weather the storms of life, she conserves the strength of the race and the species itself and even spurs it towards the highest achievements …” Well, in one way, this almost sounds too stupid to believe, but in another he is almost a purest in traditional religious thinking. What God has created let no man put asunder. God is obviously a cold, hard, cruel, vicious thing. He has set up His system. We can observe this system from observing Nature. Nature leads its beasts to procreation. This is natural, and shouldn’t be interfered with. This is kind of the old male chauvinist attitude to pregnancy. “Well, doctor, I know that this is her twenty third baby in twenty three years of marriage, but if she dies, she dies.” Adolf certainly seems to have his Roman Catholic attitudes toward birth control in tact here. Don’t interrupt the act of propagation, let God pick and choose those that he wants to live or die. Keep on screwing and let God pick those who “will return to the bosom of the eternally Unknown.” Adolf is not the first to advance the notion that War, pestilence, disease, and famine are God’s built in methods of birth control and population control. I have heard this from Christian and non-Christian alike for as long as I can remember. I consider such reasoning as not only an insult to the intellect of man but also as an insult to the intellect of God. Marx, in response to Malthus on this subject, said that this attitude was a slander to the dignity of Mankind. But one must remember that almost all Religions believe that this life and its cruelties are a condemnation put upon mankind by God because of the failure of our free will. That our life on this planet is a trial of our character (remember Job), and a purging of our soul. God put us here to be punished, and Adolf has no problem with this whatsoever. Not only is he willing to be punished, himself; he is perfectly willing to punish others on behalf of God and Nature. Again we see Adolf the evangelist; the interpreter of God’s plan; the man with a spiritual vision for the eventual purification of the human race - which is the intended goal of God and Nature anyway. So why shouldn’t he, and great men of God like himself, encourage this process in any way they can? We could only hope that Adolf's mother could have been as farsighted as her son. Adolf, without any doubt, is a man who internalized death and destruction. Witnessing the death of his mother and father and thousands and thousands of his comrades in World War I, did not stifle his Faith. Faith that there is a meaning and a touch of the Divine in all that happens. He finds in the cruelty and injustice of this existence, a Divine Plan. He has no problem in accepting death, disease, and destruction, even terror and wholesale slaughter. This is all a part of a plan “that is as wise as it is ruthless”. Adolf actually takes religious thought to a logical conclusion. Religions agree that life is a cruel and torturous punishment, but this is to be endured for a reason, the attainment of ultimate purification in a life beyond. Most religions along with their optimistic view of eternal purification, though, inject an attribute of kindness and love. God wants us to learn the lesson of love, they tell us. And we learn this through kindness towards one another and charity towards the less fortunate. But this is where Adolf differs with conventional religious thought. “...Because, once propagation as such has been limited and the number of births reduced, the natural struggle for existence, that allows only the very strongest and healthiest to survive, is replaced by the natural urge to ‘save’ at any price also the weakest and even sickest, thus planting the germ for a succession that is bound to become more and more miserable the longer this derision of Nature and of her will is continued ...“ So Adolf does believe that there are parts of our human nature, or natural ‘urge’ that should be overcome. The urge to reproduce should not be overcome; the urge to cruelty and torture should not be overcome; because these are, in effect, correct inclinations as can easily be observed in the Natural processes. What should be overcome in the Human natural inclination is the tendency towards kindness. Those feelings that lead one to protect the weak and inferior should be guarded against. Because if allowed to dominate the thinking of a nation, these feeling of sympathy and compassion will lead to the nations eventual extermination. The dictates of nature will see to it. Again, we could only wish that Adolf''s mother and father were aware of these natural imperfections on the part of their human nature. For when they gave birth to helpless little Adolf and realized his helplessness, and his inability to survive without constantly looking to them, they should have simply hit his head on the corner of the kitchen table, and kept screwing until they gave birth to a child that sprung from the womb performing hand sprints, and was fully capable of sustaining its own existence.
[This is a part – entry # 6 - of a continuing series analyzing Adolf Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf on this blog. Click on Search This Blog for previous entries.]
By Richard E. Noble I was watching “Book Notes” and this famous author was talking about the fact that as a youth he was forced, as were all grade-schoolers of his day, to read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. He hated it, the book being so “dull, pompous and laden with platitudes”, he said. I’ve just finished reading the Autobiography of Ben Franklin, and I have gotten a belly laugh out of just about every chapter. The man is hilarious. I really haven’t decided whether the whole book is an outright tongue-in-cheek put-on, or that old Ben is just such a practical, unemotional fellow, that his guidelines for living a virtuous life sound like a biology professor trying to explain to a slow student how to rationally distinguish his left hand from his right. The story of his courtship with “Miss Read”, his eventual wife, I’m sure, is not something that “Miss Read” cut out of her husband’s book and hid away in a trunk of loving memorabilia in an upstairs attic, along with her first love poem and a piece of her wedding cake. She was “deserving ... pitiable and a good and faithful helpmate”, says Ben. And, believe it or not, she nearly lost Ben’s attentions by her inability to get her parents to cough up one hundred pounds as her dowry. In fact, she did loose Ben for a good period during the negotiations, and in the interim Ben being left hot to trot explains that; “In the meantime, that hard to be governed passion of youth had harried me frequently into intrigues with low woman that fell in my way.” He goes on to explain his thankfulness at not catching “distemper” or something worse. His battle with being a perfect, virtuous individual he compares with a man attempting to buy a shinny ax. After a few hours and some time at the hard work of turning the wheel for the blacksmith who is trying to get the man’s desired ax to shine, the customer decides that a speckled ax will do just fine. This becomes even funnier when you remember that Ben is talking about his own moral character here. So when put next to the hard work of becoming moral and virtuous, Ben’s decision is that he would just as soon have a speckled soul to carry to his Maker. Oh, my goodness! And this has got to be the best one of all. Ben is going into his shop on Craven Street one morning where upon he finds a “poor ... very pale and feeble” sickly woman, sweeping the walk in front of his door. He asks her who hired her to sweep his walk and she replies; “Nobody; but I am poor and in distress, and I sweeps before gentle folks’ doors and hopes they will give me something.” Oh, my, doesn’t that nearly break your heart? So what does old compassionate Ben do? Why he offers the feeble, poor, pale, very sickly woman a shilling to sweep the whole darn street. When she comes for her shilling he presumes that a woman in her obviously poor condition couldn’t have done a very good job, so he sends his servant, out to check her work. Jeeves reports that the poor, dying, old lady has really done an excellent job - so what does Ben conclude? - that she deserves, possibly, a permanent, full-time job back at the Franklin plantation or something of the like? Not quite: “I then judged that if that feeble woman could sweep such a street in three hours, a strong, active man might have done it in half the time.” Ben Franklin, the grandfather of compassionate conservatism - and possibly several illegitimate children - so, what’s new.
William Z. Foster 1881 – 1961 “Pages from a Worker’s Life”
by Richard E. Noble
Who the heck is William Z. Foster? I had never heard of the gentleman and my guess is - neither have most of you. I have recently been acquainted with Mr. Foster through his book, “Pages From a Worker’s Life”. I have also come to find out that this is not the only book that Mr. Foster has written. He has been quite prolific, and is very, very well known in certain circles. J. Edgar Hoover, I have no doubt, had a very extensive file on William Z. Foster. Mr. Hoover, I’m sure, has Mr. Foster listed as a top ten American Scumbag of all time. But in reading the biography of the now deceased J. Edgar Hoover, I find that it becomes more difficult determining top American Scumbags as the years roll by. Yesterday’s hero may be today scumbag and yesterday scumbag may become one of today’s heroes. From what I have read so far on these two men, I am more attracted to Mr. Foster than to Mr. Hoover. “Pages from a Worker’s Life” was great. There is no doubt about it; Mr. Foster was an American Workingman. The man lived quite a life. He belonged to the Bulldog’s gang in the infamous four corners section of New York - recently made into a big movie. He worked the turpentine plantations in Northern Florida in the “peonage” days, as he calls it. Peonage is a fancy word for slavery. I’ve heard it referred to as “wage slavery”, but as Mr. Foster’s describes it, there really wasn’t much “wage” connected with it. Foster was a miner, a railroad worker, a factory worker, a homesteader, worked the carnivals; told of a very interesting experience in a fertilizer factory - which sounded like it could have been a chapter in Upton Sinclair’s “the Jungle” (he worked as a meat packer too). He was even a shepherd. He sailed around the world, before the Mast, like William Henry Dana. His tale was not as “sophisticated” and well spoken as Mr. Dana’s, but, I’m sure, much closer to truth and reality - the uncut version, I would say. Mr. Foster was not the son of a wealthy ship owner and he harbored no future plans of attending Harvard when his trip was over. He was also not overly concerned about who might be offended by what he had to say. Then came his life as a Hobo. If you hold any glamorous notions about the Hobo-ing life, “beat” your way over the “big Hump” (Rocky Mountains) riding the “rods” under some boxcar with Mr. Foster, going West in the dead of winter. Not very romantic, let me tell you. He nearly had his toes frozen off. 1 Then follow Billy the Bum as one of the “floating workers” army of the I.W.W. - (Wobblees/Industrial Workers of the World). It was somewhere around this point in his life that J. Edgar probably became aware of Mr. Foster’s personage - Mr. Hoover being then very active in A. Mitchell Palmer’s army and actively promoting the Red-Scare of that era, post World War I. Mr. Foster’s association with the Wobblees got him to Germany, France, Italy, England and Russia as an American Union worker representative. As a hobo and a sailor he had already been to Central and South America. All of this was somehow accomplished with very little money - almost nothing. He tells of being in Germany attending some big international union gathering and being arrested that evening as a vagrant which could have gotten him a number of years in a foreign prison. Mister Foster becomes an active participant in the worker revolution of the period. Many people today don’t know that there ever was a worker revolution in the U.S.A. - or any place else in the world for that matter. He is at one point or another a Wobbly, a syndicalist, a socialist, an anarchist, and finally starts his own group. A group well known today as the American Communist Party. It is difficult to be an American and think of a Communist as anything but a bad person. But in the early days of the radical labor movement, the American Communist Party was one of the most active, most idealistic, and socially inclusive of all the radical labor groups. Mr. Foster was a zealous adherent of the Marxist communist philosophy. He thought the Russian Revolution to be the greatest step ever taken in history on behalf of the workingman. He thought Lenin was the berries and Uncle Joe Stalin, a Russian and world hero. He was in Russia at the time of the Revolution. He listened to Lenin and Stalin speak. He talks glowingly of the early achievements of the Russian Revolutionary experiment. He gives a vivid description of the early poverty, starvation and general squalor; the intensive opposition - the sabotage and foreign inspired intervention. “In years to come the Soviet’s winning of the Arctic will probably be considered the most important economic development of this period,” says Mr. Foster. “It is the completion of man’s conquest of the globe ... In the summer of 1935, I saw some of this vast Arctic development via the new Stalin Baltic-White Sea Canal.” The “what" canal? Have you ever heard of that one? Well, William claims that it was an even greater achievement than the Panama Canal - and it didn’t take so long. And he goes on: “The new Stalin Constitution is by far the most democratic in the world, guaranteeing the people political freedom, religious liberty, the right to work, the right of the worker to his product and the farmer to his land, the right to organize, the right to education, the right to full medical care, the right to rest and recreation, and the most complete system of social security to be found anywhere. Old Russia, the home of hunger, misery, ignorance and oppression, has now become a land of song, laughter, culture, hope and happiness. The accomplishments of the Soviet government are so huge and unmistakable that all the world is being compelled to recognize that the new socialist system is a success.” Well? Very interesting. Mr. Foster wrote this in 1939. He closed his book with an update of the Russian accomplishments in World War II - which are equally spectacular - and much closer to the truth. I must admit that my reading of the achievements of Joseph Stalin are not quite so glowing as Mr. Foster’s who died in 1961. I seem to remember something about purges and gulags and then there were all those Polish generals and those ten to twenty million missing Russian peasant farmers. Let’s see, who shall I choose as my hero, Joseph Stalin or J. P. Morgan? ... William Z. Foster or J. Edgar Hoover? I really enjoyed Mr. Foster’s book. He was a worker;I have no doubt - he was in the mold of the zealous true believer. None of his contemporaries have anything but praise for his abilities, his temperament and his ideals. I feel pretty confident that he was probably a nice guy. I’m not so sure about J. Edgar Hoover or Herbert Hoover for that matter. Joseph Stalin? I really and truly have my doubts. F.D.R. thought that he could work with the man. Winston Churchill thought that Uncle Joe was a better choice than Adolf Hitler - but that still leaves us a lot of room for consideration. I mean, if my wife said of her relationship with me - “I have been able to work with the man and he is a nicer man than Adolf Hitler,” I don’t know if I would find that, all that complimentary.
“Chicken Wars” by Jack & Anne Rudloe Book Review by Richard E. Noble
Well, if you are anything like me, you have been asking yourself for decades when - oh please God when - will somebody come along who will stand up for the rights of the American processing chicken? Finally ... finally, at long last, a book is here for all of us chicken lovers and we owe it all to the very creative and imaginative efforts of Jack and Anne Rudloe - our well known and well documented panhandle resident biologists. What a book! I loved it. Anne and Jack truly take up the cause of chickenhood everywhere. Superchicken has arrived and he is armed and dangerous - and very funny. Superchicken, Augustus Herkissing (formerly, in a previous life - Henry Kissinger) the champion of chickens everywhere, has been sent to our present day world via a heavenly council. He has been sent to earth to free the chickens and lead them to the Promised Land. Kissinger - I mean Herkissing is at first appalled at the thought of being reincarnated as a chicken, but after getting his feathers he takes up the role courageously. He is found floating down the Lockaloukee River by adorable little Jennifer and her chicken rancher daddy. The brave little Herkissing gets the country folks attention by standing up to a menacing hawk. At this point the initial conflict begins. Tenderbird, the chicken processing giant, does not tolerate their chicken farmers or members of their families harboring any pet chickens. And from this point onward the story evolves into a classic tale of adventure, culminating in a massive nationwide chicken revolution. I am not going to tell you the whole story - it will be a lot more fun for you to read it yourself. On the serious side, the book points out and graphically describes the true and horribly inhumane state of affairs that exists all over America and, I dare say, the world with regards to present day civilization’s methods of rendering what were once barnyard livestock into food for the masses. Since my wife and I were both one time chicken factory employees - Carol in hearts and livers and Richard snipping gizzards - we know the story first hand. We have seen it all up close and personal. What the Rudloes describe is no exaggeration, no far-flung “humaniac” melodramatic fabrications. So if you would like to know “the other side of the story” or garner a more insightful view of the evolution of the grocery store chicken or the boneless, skinless chicken breast that you have grown to know and love from watching the Galloping Chef on the cooking channel, pick up a copy of “Chicken Wars” by Anne and Jack Rudloe. It’s an eye-opener, besides being a hen house full of fun. In addition, this book is packed full of information about the local outdoors - the birds, the bees, the katydids, the cicadas etc. It is not the conventional philosophy of the tree-hugging humaniac. There is even a defense of Cock Fighting, not to mention the heavenly glory of the backyard chicken bar-be-que and chicken eating in general. It is the work of two very practical minded animal lovers. The whole point of the book is that the human race has lost its contact with the Great Agreement. Like Rousseau’s Social Contract this is a supposed agreement between animals and man that took place when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. It was a simple Agreement in which some of the animals decided to join domestically with the humans while the others, less trusting of human nature, decided to weather the perils of the wild. In the Agreement humans agreed to love the animals and treat them with decency and respect, in return for their fellowship and contributions to their food supply. Of course, Mankind via Agribiz has grossly violated this Agreement - thus the necessity for a Divinely inspired Super Chicken. This is a fascinating book - great for the kids; great for the adults; and a laugh a minute for the intellectually inclined. You can purchase this book on line for $14.95 at www.gulfspecimen.org/chicken.html or pick up a copy at the following locations: Downtown Books in Apalachicola, Tattered Pages in Crawfordville, Borders Bookstore in Tallahassee (Apalachee Parkway) and, if you take a trip over to The Gulf Marine Laboratory in Panacea, Jack and Anne will be more than happy to autograph a copy for you.
Understanding the last hundred years, takes us back almost two hundred years. The key to the last hundred years, I think, begins with the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial revolution changes the whole political, economic, and social structure of the world. It shatters previous economic and social systems and establishes a counter elite to challenge and rival the old Aristocracy. Along with this new Aristocracy a whole new population of poverty stricken are born and concentrated in the new manufacturing centers called, cities.
The social outrages caused by competition and over production produce organized labor and Utopian solutions to people problems in the form of Socialism and Communism.
Socialism, Communism and organized labor in opposition to monopolized Capital, lead to protests, riots, strikes, and social disorganization in general. Social disorganization and general discontent, lead to a first hemorrhage in the form of World War I.
World War I does not serve to stem the tide of social discontent but intensifies it until a socialist/communist world wide revolution begins.
The Russians are the first to crack. They walk off the battlefield in 1917 and into a civil war and socialist/communist revolution at home. Wilson stems the tide of socialist/communist agitation in the U.S by entering the War in Europe.
The German, French, and English Governments were all on the verge of collapse. Soldiers had turned their guns around in the trenches and were shooting their own officers. Wholesale desertion was rampant. Civil war and socialist/communist revolution intensified in the German homeland until their government, as with the Russian government, also collapsed. Post War socialist/communist anti-capitalist agitation in England, France, and the U.S., and the “successful” Russian Revolution led to free world capitalist fear and paranoia. Capitalist fear and paranoia led to big money investments in any anti-socialist/communist government and especially in any governments counter to the principles advocated and demonstrated in the New Russia.
This economic capitalist backing leads to the prosperity of European dictators, and the collapse of the economies of warbling socialist agitated democracies - the Depression.
A second hemorrhage occurs with the eruption of World War II. World War II stems the tide of unemployment and economic collapse in the Democracies. Capitalist investment flows back into Democracies to counter dictatorships that had grown out of control by previous anti-Russian western Capitalistic investment. With the Defeat of Germany in World War II, the capitalist intramural war ended between the democracies and the anti-Russian dictatorships and the original Capitalist anti-Russian economic policy was re-established with the Cold War and Capitalist re-investment in non Russian Communist Europe via the Marshall Plan.
The Cold War divided the world into two major camps, and competition between these two camps has been the story up until the recent Russian collapse.
The world is now under the dominance of one major superpower. World history is at a cross roads. The future will be determined by either positive investment and shared international development to increase prosperity and meet new world population demands, or old antagonism and conflict/destructive investment ... maintaining status quo and reducing new population growth through war.
[ This piece was written in the 1980s with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.]
Private Property My zone, your zone, our zone and the ozone.
by Richard E. Noble
We hold sacred the Right to Private Property here in the United States. But this Right has not been without controversy. This notion once included the right to buy and sell other human beings and their children. It was also used by industrialist and Robber Barons alike to shoot their disgruntled workers and to deny them the right to organize and to bargain collectively for better working conditions and higher wages.
At one point in our history it applied to women and children. A man once owned his wife and children.
This Right to Private Property has also conflicted with the State and the Federal Government - Public Domain, Eminent Domain, National and State parks, National and State forests - roads, highways, interstate, damns, reservoirs etc.
On the international level, Private Ownership has been the divisive issue of the last two centuries. We define our current political systems by it:
Capitalism = Democracy + Private ownership
Socialism = Democracy + Public Ownership
Fascism = Dictatorship + Private Ownership
Communism = Dictatorship + Public Ownership
Conflicts with regards to public and private ownership are all around us today because of zoning laws and building codes and, of course, taxes. I’ve often wondered at what dollar amount a property tax turns into a rent. And considering the above definitions, when and if a property tax becomes so large that it is considered a rent; does Capitalism then evolve into Socialism? But even more interesting than that is the question of the basis and foundation of Private Property.
Private Property is based on a principle that, I think, no American would accept as fair, just, or even reasonable today.
Property has always been gained, from the beginnings of mankind’s times, through power, force and military might. The borders of countries have, for the most part, always been determined by conquests, invasions and war. Kings and power lords conquered and doled out property to their favorites. If there were people living on the property, they went with it. If you owned the property, you owned the people who lived on it also.
In the establishment of the American Colonies, we had what were called Patroons. The Patroons owned vast estates that were given to them by charters or grants or purchased from the Crown or others or that they finagled by deceit or fraud. It wasn’t until 1839 in New York that this manorial system was seriously challenged by the tenants who lived on and farmed the land. The land barons were forced by the revolt of the people and the New York Legislature in 1846 to sell off their estates in small farms to the people who lived and worked them. Of course, they sold off these vast estates at exorbitant prices, but nevertheless the tradition of small, individual, property ownership was enhanced.
Then the big money moved to the city. It was here that men like John Jacob Astor and industrialists like William “Billy” Wood and Andrew Carnegie, Pullman and bankers, like J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller Jr., turned the development of cities into their personal gold mines. Tenement housing, an apparent monetary triviality, turned into multi-million and billion dollar opportunities for their investment capital. While Astor, and those of his unscrupulous agents and middlemen, got richer and richer, they turned the tenement factory worker communities into death traps for the poor and hard working. Diseases like typhoid fever, tuberculosis, cholera and others spread rapidly throughout the tenement communities. But the millions of dollars rolled in over the bodies of the poor until once again, as the rural tenant farmers had exploded in 1839; rebellion rankled in the streets and the tenement neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The disgruntled and downtrodden, brought to the end of their faith in tolerance and acceptance, were finally motivated to risk their lives in the streets and back alleys. Somehow their protests were finally able to rouse the politicians, and laws began to evolve to protect the health and well being of the families living in these pits of American industrial revolutional squalor.
Astor and his super-wealthy friends then decided that it was time to give or dump the tenements onto the masses. The investment brokers would liquefy their assets. They sold their uncared for, unhealthy, vermin and rat invested, tenement disease incubators, before laws could be promoted requiring the landlords to spend some of their acquired millions to clean them up. It was a good business move. But once again, through a dark backdoor, the cause of individual ownership and private property was extended.
The prices of the tenements were high and exploitative, but somehow many hard working laboring families were able to become property owners - participants in the prized evolution of the propertied class.
Adolf Hitler dealt with the historical right to national territory and property rights - by way of Power and Might - extensively in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.
Adolf could not accept that a great nation, like his own, could be, cramped in such a tiny space in central Europe, while a much inferior nation like Russia had such a vast expanse of land to the west. He used the history of mankind to make his claim that the borders of any country are determined by the will of their peoples. Those with the will and the power, take; and those without the will and power are destroyed. To Adolf this was the fundamental principle of Civilization and an undeniable law of Nature - the survival of the fittest.
Russia and a good many other nations of the world disagreed. A catchy phrase of the period was - Might does not make Right. As far as I know, nobody wrote a book explaining why Might did not make Right but many people felt that the notion had merit - even if they didn’t know why. Adolf went ahead and tried to prove his point, but failed. At least he failed to prove that his people and his nation had the will and the power to establish their Might as Right. Whether or not Might actually does make Right still remains questionable, but, by no means, absolutely without foundation.
During a period called the Enlightenment, the world seemed to go through a sort of introspection and soul searching. Philosophers, social thinkers, economists, political reformers and the like all began to question the right of Private Property along with a good many other long established notions. William Godwin wrote a book, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice in 1793, and in the Colonies a controversial pamphleteer, Thomas Paine, wrote a piece that he entitled Agrarian Justice. Godwin questioned the whole idea of Private Property and Paine, accepting that Private Property was a basic injustice, went on to devise an accommodation for property-less individuals.
An economist, Richard Ricardo, challenged property owners and the negative influence of their rents on the economy and wrote a book, Principles of Political Economy, challenging their moral and economic right to do so. He threw his support behind the new moneyed industrialist, entrepreneur and business community - he was a stockbroker by trade - and against the old, established class of property owner. He fought against the protective Corn Laws that were making land owners wealthy, claiming that these laws only served to increase wages, raise prices and create what is now called inflation. Ricardo, unintentionally, plants the first seeds of the class warfare which followed in later generations.
John S. Mill in his Political Economy - accepting Paine’s notion of the injustice of the un-propertied - tried to devise another solution. Paine had suggested that a tax should be placed on the propertied and that at the age of maturity every man without property would receive a cash inheritance as compensation. Mill suggested that the state would buy back from individuals all property and from then on, property would be rented or leased by the State. Henry George later expanded this idea into his Single Tax notion - but with no buy-back from the present property holders.
Then came Karl Marx and Frederick Engels who espoused an evolutionary theory of property that brought things back to Godwin. Their original idea was that private property would simply dissolve into an egalitarian utopia due to the inevitable collapse of Capitalism which would be prompted by the evolutionary destruction of monopolization. Lenin and others believed that this utopia was truly evolutional and inevitable, but evolution was just too slow. Lenin, and those who believed similarly, decided that the historical evolution of a classless, egalitarian economy needed the prodding of a benevolent dictator. True believing followers, like Joseph Stalin felt that benevolence was over-rated.
We no longer discuss the rights of the un-propertied or the moral justice of inheriting property, or people having too much property. We seem to have come to the notion that as long as a majority of individuals have the opportunity to work, save money, and buy their own piece of the planet - this is fair and just enough. The negative historical roots have all been put to the side, as beyond reclamation and practical justification.
Nevertheless, in recent years a return to introspection and moral and Agrarian Justice and soul searching has been revived. The exploitation and pollution of property and the planet has been suggested as morally unjust. There is now an argument between the property owner and the long term interests of random mankind.
Teddy Roosevelt had his preservation and set-aside notions which have given us our National Parks, forests and monuments. Today, we are now considering morally, environmentally and economically the use of an individual’s or developer’s property in relation to his neighbors - his community, his state, his country, the world - to future generations. It is the tree huggers against the libertarians.
Some go so far as to call this a revolution. The Green Revolution it is called. Peace and goodwill to man via clean water, clean air and socially correct balanced growth. The libertarians say these tree lovers are fanatics who care more about woodpeckers and brown-speckled, sap-sucking, bank climbing beetles than they do people. These people (tree huggers) hold Walt Disney as a god and fantasyland and Disney World in Orlando as a real possibility for the future of mankind and community development – these Libertarians say. And sometimes it is difficult to see if these Green revolutionaries are trying to make the world safer for people or fire ants.
On the other hand, if the libertarian has his way there may not be any more fire ants or people. We could revert back to cesspools of congested living, and rivers, lakes and oceans filled with green dyes, mercury, toxic chemicals and non-edible, deformed, dying and disappearing sea creatures - not to mention, people (including Americans).
The “History of the Great American Fortunes” by Gustavus Myers was used in this essay – a very interesting Radical analysis of this accepted American Right.
I imagine that the only immediate value of my keeping a journal will be the fact that I will be forced to record the date each time I make an entry. This will help to keep me abreast of where I am in terms of the present century. A journal is traditionally a record of ones personal opinions; but I am truly bored sick with my own opinions. I know pretty well what I think about most things at this stage of my life and I have also learned that most other people could care less what I think about anything. So, the bottom line is, I guess, that this will be practice for the improvement of my punctuation and spelling along with forcing me to keep track of the day, month and current year. I am now a journalist, I’ll have you know. A journalist, I am being taught, is a person who writes without revealing his personal opinions. My editor wants me to write in this manner, primarily, because he does not like my personal opinions. I have recently met more journalist than ever before in my life. I don’t know why people aspire to becoming journalists. Obviously, they must make more money at it than I am currently earning. In any case, I feel that writing for my present generation or the contemporary world is not sufficiently inspiring, so I think that I will try to write to a world 100 years from today. First of all, that would put me in a more positive frame of mind. The very fact that I think that there will be a world 100 years from today, is a positive step in itself. Also, I can talk to a future population who will look at what I’m saying, hopefully, with objectivity - or at least with historical curiosity - rather than with contemporary confusion, and political prejudice. Right at this very moment my country, the United States of America, is waging two minor wars simultaneously. I am not going to get into the justification of these wars other than to express the hope that you people of 100 years from today, have gotten over this phenomenon. It is sad to say but we, the human race, began another century with yet another war. Our last five or six wars; in fact, all of our wars for the previous century, have been of a political nature. These latest two wars seem to be a return to “the good old days of yesteryear”. We are once again, it seems, fighting over religion. Religion has to do with the concept of God, the creation of the universe, and social and sexual practices, prohibitions and mores. I only make this explanation in case you folks have somehow gotten past this point of controversy also. Yesterday, I turned on the TV and a preacher by the name of Pat Robertson was lecturing to his listening audience. Pat Robertson is like Billy Sunday or Father Coughlin, or Cotton Mather - if you happen to be a history buff. I guess you would say that he is in the historical tradition of the type of preacher who is more concerned with socialism than with soul-shall-ism. In any case, Pat Robertson - this man also ran for the president of the United States at one point in his career - was advocating that the U.S. government assassinate a leader of a foreign state in South America - the new dictator, or president of Venezuela. He claimed that this man was evil and that he was jeopardizing oil flow to our country. He then conducted an instruction course on the history of the process of judicial review in our Supreme Court - which he followed with a prayer session. He closed his eyes, took the hand of his secretary - a lovely looking black lady - and asked the home audience to join him in a sincere prayer. In this prayer he asked God to please make some vacancies on the present Supreme Court and fill those vacancies with judges who were inclined to believe similarly to him on these legal issues. So first, he asked the president of the United States to kill - covertly - the evil leader of another country and then he asked God to make some “vacancies” on the Supreme Court. With regards to the former suggestion, Mr. Robertson suggested that removing an evil dictator by CIA covert (secretive) action, we could save 200 billion dollars, since this is the amount that it had cost us taxpayers so far to remove another evil dictator in another country, far, far away. Although Pat made no mention of all the lives, American and otherwise, that have also been lost thus far, I am sure that it was not just the 200 billion that had him so upset. I’m sure that he mentioned the 200 billion and not the lives that have been lost, only because he was at that particular moment in an economic frame of mind; much as a bereaved might inadvertently mention the price of the coffin or casket at the funeral of a spouse or son-in-law, for example. Nevertheless, I thought this was questionable behavior on the part of Mr. Robertson. Even if I reversed the order of his requests and prayed that the president kill, covertly, some members of the Supreme Court and that God make a “vacancy” in the leadership of the country of Venezuela - it still didn’t sound all that good - especially for a preacher. I wondered what the reverend Pat Robertson would have thought if a large group of seemingly normal people, but of an opposing religious conviction, appeared on his front lawn or on another TV network; closed their eyes and prayed that God would make Pat Robertson vacant and replace him with someone whose beliefs were more in tune with their own. Then Mr. Robertson “journalized” a documentary on a loving missionary husband and wife team. This couple had gone on a mission to Iraq. Their goal being to convert the poor misguided Muslim people of that war torn country to the truth of the Christian Gospels. They were machine-gunned at a downtown street corner in Baghdad. There were five missionaries in their vehicle. Only the one lady survived. Her husband and all of her friends died from their wounds. This woman was then asked how she could find it in her heart to ever forgive these horrible, brutal Muslim terrorists who had slaughtered her husband and friends in downtown Baghdad. They were missionaries and they were simply going about the holy and proper business of trying to save the souls of these misguided Iraqi people - who were obviously lost in the poverty and ignorance of some pagan belief. They simply wanted to introduce them to the truth of the Christian Gospel. Well, she told Pat, that it was not easy, but that her and her husband truly loved these Iraqi religious indigents and that Christ had taught her to forgive. The woman who had only a piece of her left hand remaining, along with a small portion of one lung, did not say when or if she would be going back to Iraq to continue her mission, but I for one wish her god-speed and the best of luck. Pat then held hands with his lovely ebony secretary and prayed that all people of the world would be endowed with the spirit of this kindly woman who clearly possessed an over abundance of “Christ’s forgiving legacy”. He prayed that we should all be willing to turn the other cheek and forgive our enemies because this was the true message of Jesus, the Christ and Savior. At this point in Pat’s monologue there was no mention of the suggested assassination of the new (or old?) president of Venezuela or the prayed for “vacancies” on the future Supreme Court. What a show - the greatest show on earth - one might say, with apologies to Barnum and Bailey, of course.
by Richard E. Noble The laborer’s condition in the original Colonies was not a happy one. The vast majority of the original settlers were not laborers. Upwards of 80% of the early Colonialists were Artisans, Craftsmen, Merchants, and Farmers. They were the propertied class. The actual laboring class amounted to between 14 and 17 percent of the entire white population.¹ Blacks were for the most part slaves. Two thirds of the white laboring class were contracted or indentured servants. In the Southern colonies this group was virtually indistinguishable from the black slave community. They could be bought, sold, beaten and killed. On the average, one in ten survived their typical seven year contract or indenture in Southern colonies. Immigrants came to the colonies as a result of false advertisements directed towards the gullible and discontented.² These ads proclaimed a better, more prosperous existence in the colonies. Some came in an attempt to escape debt or debtor’s prison, or as a part of early release prison programs. In these times the working classes were, to say the least, not respected in British society. A person, adult or child, could be executed for any one of five hundred different felonies. In the Northern colonies conditions were somewhat better, but not by a great margin. As we approach the year 1776, and the war of Revolution, things gradually improve for the working class. Laborers, journeymen and apprentices become more and more scarce. In 1774 the British go so far as to enact a law limiting immigration. The industrial revolution is burgeoning and the British need all the unskilled and semi-skilled labor they can find. In the colonies demand for labor is high. Even though in many colonies there are laws limiting wages, they are impossible to enforce. Not only can free laborers move from town to town or from colony to colony, they can also move out into the wilderness; trap, hunt and settle free, “unoccupied” land. All they had to do was beat off the Indians. Which was often easier than beating off their masters, it seems. Consequently at the time of the American Revolution, common laborers, journeymen and apprentices were enjoying a heyday. Wages were 30 to 100 percent higher than in jolly old England. But the tradition of discontent and worker rebellion goes way back in America. As early as 1636 John Winter, an overseer in Maine, was complaining about workers who struck in illegal consortship. For workers to unite in combination for the purposes of improving wages or working conditions was traditionally illegal. This notion went all the way back to the English Tudor Industrial Code. Wage and price limitations were the standards of the day. Maximum wages were traditionally set. Prices were not set, but the concept of a “just” price was understood. If a businessman raised his price above what was considered “just” by the community, he could suffer serious repercussions. Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” wasn’t published until 1776. Supply and demand and the self regulating market were not the rule of the day. In the year 1644, in Boston, Massachusetts, Robert Kaeyne was undergoing a trial for avarice. He had made over sixpence profit on the shilling. This was shameful. Other things that were considered shameful at the time: that a man might sell as dear as he can, and buy as cheap as he can; that if a man lose by casualty of sea etc., in some of his commodities, he may raise the price of the rest; that he may sell as he bought, though he paid too dear. A merchant who sold his product over what the community considered a “just” price could have his business ransacked; or could be tarred and feathered and run out of town. Business was regulated by tradition and authority. The rules of price and wage were set by law, social custom and community morality, not the Laws of Supply and Demand. The first piece of legislation passed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was that skilled workers would not be paid more than two shillings per day. In 1741, New York City Bakers struck and were prosecuted for a criminal conspiracy, but no action was taken. In 1746 House Carpenters went on strike in Savannah, Georgia. In England, they were tried, condemned and fined, but here in the colonies, no action was taken. Finally in 1806 in Philadelphia a group of journeymen boot and shoe makers were tried for joining together in a conspiracy and acting in an illegal manner in the restraint of the trade of their employers. They were found guilty of forming a combination to raise their wages. They were fined eight dollars each and court costs. They were to be held in jail until their debt was paid. This decision by the courts was basically the law of the land until 1842 when a Massachusetts court reinterpreted the doctrine of criminal conspiracy. Chief Justice Shaw in the case of Commonwealth v. Hunt defined a conspiracy as a combination of two or more persons acting in a concerted action to accomplish some criminal or unlawful purpose, or to accomplish some purpose not in itself criminal or unlawful, by criminal or unlawful means. As applied to workers, this meant that workers activities are criminal if their aims are illegal or if the methods that they use to attain their purposes are illegal. The General Law on collective action is a part of the common law and contains two main principles; the doctrine of conspiracy and the doctrine of restraint of trade. The conspiracy doctrine or law of combinations stems from a statute passed by the English Parliament about 1350. The Black Death had greatly reduced the size of the British working population. As a consequence, the wages of working folks went up. The first statute that was passed demanded that wages be “just” and not excessive. Then in 1800 an Anti-Combination Act was passed making it a criminal offense for laborers to combine together for the purpose of raising their wages or improving their working conditions. As stated above this was the law until 1842. None of this proved to be very helpful. Although employer’s rights were established, what rights workers had was still to be determined. Unions and labor organizations had the right to join together for fraternal or benevolent purposes. They could accept or reject the wage offerings of their employers. If they rejected the wage offered, they could quit, find another job, or pack up and head West. Up until 1842 anything in excess of these options was illegal. They interfered with the constitutional rights of the employer, his property rights, or his right to conduct business.
1 “A History of American Labor”, Joseph G. Rayback. 2 Ibid 3“The Worldly Philosophers”, Robert L. Heilbroner. 4“Labor Problems in American Industry”, Carroll R. Dougherty. 5 used in this essay include; “The Worldly Philosophers”, Robert L. Heilbroner; “Labor Problems in American Industry”, Carroll R. Dougherty; “The History of American Labor”, Joseph G. Rayback: “The Annals of America Vol. 4, 1797-1820; Tom Paine and Revolutionary America”, Eric Foner; “The Story of American Freedom”, Eric Foner.
Karen Armstrong was, at one time, a Roman Catholic nun. She left the nunnery behind in 1969 but not her search for God. This is a good book.
Her book deals primarily with God in the Judeo-Christian theologies; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She gives a good criticism and analysis from atheism to mysticism. She goes through each of the religions and the evolution of their thought. I suppose that the word “evolution” would not be proper because there is no actual progression of thought culminating in a final conclusion. It is a comparative analysis, exploring all the tangential pathways engaged in by all three of the theologies. The point is made that all three theologies have shared all of the various pathways in seeking a God. Each group has had its radicals, its rationales, its fundamentalists and it mystics.
I would not classify Karen as an atheist or even an agnostic. I would place her into the category of the want-to-believer. Her problem, as a want-to-believer, in dealing with conventional religious thought with regards to the concept of God, is that, unfortunately, she is too smart. She defeats all of the conventional and conservative logic with regards to God, but yet is still left with the desire to have a God to believe in. I suppose that this would be considered the Kantian point of view.
Mankind needs to have some kind of a belief in some sort of God. Why? Because the pit and depression that comes with an empty eternity is not conducive to the hopeful human spirit. There is this notion that this “feeling” stems so far back into the psychology of man that it is not only necessary but instinctive.
I don’t know why oblivion would be or must be considered a “hopeless, depressing, pit” - certainly an eternity of hell is even more depressing. If you don’t exist, you wouldn’t even know that you were hopeless or in a pit. You couldn’t despair either. And just because an idea goes back into time with a seeming endlessness, that doesn’t mean that it is instinctive. It could just be traditional ignorance. Like; the world is flat; the earth is the center of the universe; fire is the addition of something called phlogiston; and, all woman look the same upside-down
On the practical side, at least at this point in man’s evolution, no atheistic notions have been capable of transforming established thought on the matter of God. God has been transformed over the centuries but only by means of reform. The old God must be replaced by a new God who is transformed to conform to the times. So you don’t want to tell people that God is dead or that He is impossible, you want to explain to them how God has been misinterpreted by the current established order; or how a belief about God that was once held in the past is more accurate than any going around at the present. In other words, if you want change, you must invent a new God or re-establish an old one. But the logic and arguments against the God notion have become so substantial and sophisticated that the above proposition becomes more and more difficult - whether the gods are old or new. Karen is clearly leaning toward a mystical God.
Karen establishes that the whole God-thing started with the notion that there must be a Creator or a First Cause to all things. This notion got muddled, and in all of the three theologies there came about a desire to prove the existence of this Creator, rationally. This caused a good deal of debating and argument - for centuries.
Karen agrees that all of the arguments proving the existence of God failed or were eventually defeated. What resulted was a new group of Godless atheists who contended that God couldn’t be proven or verified rationally and was therefore an impossibility; and another group who agreed with the atheists that God could not be proven a reality but that He was valid nevertheless. The fact that you could not prove the existence of God simply made God all the more “mysterious” - thus evolved a group called Mystics. Most believers are at heart Mystics - no amount of logic or reason can convince a believer that God does not exist.
God was initially the creator of all things. Unfortunately, someone had to ask: If God is the creator of all things, from what did He create all these things that are?
He created all the things that are, from all the formless stuff that was floating around Him, said some. Then, of course, somebody else said; There was stuff floating around God? - stuff that existed eternally, and simultaneously with God, for ever and ever? Then there must be two Gods - the eternal God that is just Stuff and the other God that is ... what? What is God made/composed of anyway?
This problem led some to conclude that God and the Stuff that was floating around the Universe were actually One. So, God was the Stuff of the Universe. If God was the Stuff of the Universe then it must be that God created the Universe from Himself If God created all the things that are, from Himself - then everything in the Universe must be divine. Then - we are all God.
There were many who accepted this notion that everything was a part of God, but there were others who didn’t like the idea. So, they said that God did not create the Universe from Himself. He didn’t create it from any stuff that was floating around, either. He actually created the Universe out of nothing. But how can something come from nothing? Ex-nihilo.
It was magic. It was a miracle.
Okay, if God created the Universe from nothing, what is God? Is He something or is He nothing?
God is nothing, too. Where does He live? He lives nowhere. Is He tall or is He short? He is both tall and short. Is He male or female? He is male, female, animal and mineral. He is all things and He is no thing. He is at the same time nothing and something. He is one and He is many. He is single and individual, yet, at the same time multiple and diverse. He lives beyond the boundaries of the universe. He transcends both space and time. He is faster than a speeding bullet and can leap tall building in a single bound. He’s … he’s ... whatever you would like Him to be.
If you have no trouble following this type of thinking, then, you are a mystic. Mysticism seems to be the last refuge for the struggling want-to-believer from the pits of despair and atheism.
Karen also points out that there has been an unfortunate return to Fundamentalism. In the West and in the United States it is fundamentalist Christians, in the mid-East it is fundamentalist Muslims; in Israel it is fundamentalist Jews.
A fundamentalist usually has some basic “truth” that he clings to. It might be a book or a notion. He believes wholly in this notion and feels that all others should believe it as well. Karen feels that Fundamentalism is a backward step in mankind’s progress toward an understandable or, at least, acceptable God.
Karen thinks that it is time that the world created a new God. She suggests a mystical God of some kind. Unfortunately, a mystical God is an UN-reasonable God. The trouble with UN-reasonable Gods is just that. A God that is not subject to reason can certainly evolve into something just as tyrannical as the “One True” God of the fundamentalists. Gods that come from “nothing” and find their being in “non-existence” are simply and purely double-talk. The problem here has to do with the philosophical definition of nothing.
Religious thinkers, along with many philosophers, keep attempting to make nothing into something. I have even read some who claim that nothing is simply the absence of something and that something is simply the absence of nothing.
Nothing is not the absence of something; nothing is the absence of all things. Something is not the absence of nothing; something is the absence of all things but one - that one thing that it is.
This “Nothingness” business is confusing. It is attempting to make nothing into a quantity like zero in mathematics. A thing or amount that can be added and subtracted. Nothing is a concept not a precept. It describes the imagined state or condition of non-being - that state of no innate potential to be actualized and no innate tendencies to actualize itself. Nothing is what isn’t and consequently what can never be in and of itself - what can not become. Ontologically, it has no being and no potential for being. To say that something can come from nothing is simply a contradiction in terms.
Something is also a concept but it is used to describe things that exist - things that are perceived - something is a universal description of things that are things that have being in themselves - being in-itself; being that transcends phenomenon and appearance and is, in and of itself. It is a thing; it is something. Ontologically speaking something describes things that are - a thing that is - has being in-itself- not in the imagination but in reality.
Parmenides had it correct - That which is, is and that which is not, is not and can never be.
So when the mystic says that God is Nothing, he is saying that God does not exist and He can not come into existence. With this I would agree, but when the mystic goes on to state that it is from this state of Nothingness that all things have come into existence, he is simply babbling non-sensical gibberish.
Karen, in my opinion, falls into this trap of thinking Nothing to actually be something with the potential for existence - by the very definition of the word nothing, this is not possible.
I certainly agree with Karen the world needs a new God, but I have no suggestions. I liked it a lot better when people kept there Gods to themselves. It was a much better world when believers were less demonstrative and less sure. Many of today’s believers and want-to-believers border on the repulsive and the obnoxious. I consider them all to be psychotic, possible schizophrenic, and without doubt - dangerous.
“A History of God” by Karen Armstrong is, to say the least, educated, informative and well-researched. I’ve been reading about the gods and Gods now for over fifty years. Karen’s survey gave me more information than I personally felt necessary. But, I like that. I feel I got my money’s worth.
On the down side, she can get a bit confusing. She skims on many traditional explanations, presuming that you, the reader, are already familiar with such notions or that they are not that important; but then goes on extensively in areas of lesser importance - or where “more” is hardly necessary.
Karen spends a good deal of time on mystical notions, for example. It is plain that she finds some sort of ‘hope” in that brand of foolishness. She also spends very little time on the idea that nothingness is impossible. She is more into the confusing school of Martin Heidegger who it seems tries to prove that nothing is really something.
If one can somehow contemplate the notion that God could have emerged from nothing into something; or that nothing preceded something, or that something and nothing are two interchangeable quantities; or that God who is Himself nothing, could have created the universe from a nothing that was separate and distinct from His own brand of Nothingness - then I suppose that Mysticism becomes some sort of possibility. Actually, if nothingness can truly be found to be something-ness then, of course, anything becomes a possibility.
I think this is getting us into Wittgenstein here. If nothing can be something then we are obviously lost in semantics and have stopped dealing with reason, logic, or science.
The mystic is, in my opinion, a person who begins his inquiry into God’s possible existence, with the assumption or positive notion that God is a reality. Now, all that he has to do is defeat any arguments to the contrary. This course has left him in a never-never land where nothing and something both have a reality; where the universe and all that is - really isn’t; where rational thinking is a trick; where scientific inquiry is a deception; where everything that is, is only part of the story; where the unreasonable becomes the reasonable; where there are places beyond all places and things beyond all things; where God can exist beyond existence - beyond time and space (St. Augustine).
It is one thing to say that proving the existence of God is impossible and therefore one must rely on faith to accept such a proposition, but to build on this “faith” in an Unconfirmed Suspicion, a set of rules, laws, commandments, principles - even books supposedly written or dictated by this Unconfirmed Suspicion should be a little much, to say the least, for any sane human being.
I enjoyed Karen’s book, nevertheless. Karen’s notion that the impossible could become more acceptable if it is blanketed in the mystically paradoxical is not an answer that I can accept, but it is more than possible that mankind, in general, could find it temporarily sustainable. I feel that this would only bring the human race out of the frying pan and into the fire. Fundamentalism is certainly a step backward, but mysticism is no step forward.
I personally feel that in her quest for God she has one final step to take, but is afraid to take it for the fear of that “pit of despair and hopelessness” that she mentioned in her book. Kierkegard had a similar problem. He chose to “leap into the absurd”.
Books by Richard Edward Noble. Click on covers below for more info and purchasing instructions.
Classic Tragic Novel
Bloggin' Be My Life
"Bloggin' be My Life" contains a selection of some of my more popular Hobo Philosopher blogs.If you enjoy reading this blog, you should love Bloggin' Be My Life.
It's All About Love
It's All About Love is ... all about love. This is the 2nd book of poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford off Arlington. Every poem in this book comes with a prose introduction. If you enjoy poetry this is a simple choice. Have fun!
A Little Something
Traditional poetry from The Bard From Chelmsford Off Arlington with some poignant prose introductions. If you enjoy any type of poetry, you will enjoy this volume. Thanks.
Bits and Pieces
The Hobo Philosopher - My first book using the Hobo Philosopher brand. Featuring a variety of writing styles and ideas. Look for the Thoughtful Hobo on the cover.
A Baker's Dozen
The Hobo Philosopher: My Second book of Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction and Short Stories. All varieties of short stories - lots of laughs!
Cat Point - and Them Dang Oyster People
Cat Point is the sequel to "The Eastpointer." Both books contain humorous tales about life in a fishing community on the Florida Panhandle. Lots of laughs.
Won 1st Place award for humor in 2007 from Florida Press Association. More wit, wisdom and humor from the yet to be world famous author, R.E. Noble
A Summer with Charlie - Lawrence
Fiction - Salisbury Beach, Lawrence, Mass. Featured in Merrimack Valley Magazine July /Aug. issue 2010
Travel, Humor, Commentary on migrant farm work and illegal immigration still very pertinent today.
"Just Hangin' Out Ma"
Thank God for the Street Corners of Lawrence, Mass. Anecdotes and humorous escapades about growing up in an industrial mill town in the 40s,50s and 60s.
This is the sequel to "Just Hangin' Out, Ma"
That Old Gang of Mine
This is # 3 in my Lawrence Hometown series. The series is about growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's in an industrial mill town. Sorta like a Huck Finn goes to vist Uncle Ralph, the bus driver, who lives in a big, rundown city. Lots of fun.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Classic tragic novel written from child's perspective. Deals with abuse, poverty, unemployment. Pulls no punches.
Noble Notes on Famous Folks
Humorous, satirical notes on everybody from Constantine to Bill Clinton. Inspiration: Willy Cuppy.
America on Strike
History - documented survey of labor strikes in America
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One
Who are the American Nazis - the Liberals or the Conservatives?
MY NAME IS RICHARD EDWARD NOBLE. I AM A FREELANCE WRITER AND I HAVE PUBLISHED 12 BOOKS:"THE EASTPOINTER" - SELECTIONS FROM AWARD WINNING NEWSPAPER COLUMN - "A LITTLE SOMETHING" - POETRY WITH PROSE -"HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER" - A NOVEL ABOUT GROWING UP IN THE NEW ENGLAND MILL TOWN OF LAWRENCE, MASS, "HOBO-ING AMERICA" - A WORKINGMAN'S TOUR OF THE U.S.A. - "A SUMMER WITH CHARLIE" - THE STORY OF A YOUNG SAILOR'S LAST DAYS AT SALISBURY BEACH, "NOBLE NOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS" - HUMOROUS ANECDOTES ON FAMOUS FOLKS IN HISTORY,
"AMERICA ON STRIKE" HISTORY BOOK - A SURVEY OF LABOR STRIKES IN AMERICA; "A BAKER'S DOZEN" A BOOK OF HUMOROUS SHORT STORIES; "JUST HANGIN' OUT, MA" - GROWING UP IN THE 40'S, 50'S AND 60'S IN LAWRENCE, MY HOMETOWN, "TENEMENT DWELLERS" - SEQUEL TO JUST HANGIN OUT, MA; MEIN KAMPF - ANALYSIS OF BOOK ONE - HISTORY. CAT POINT - AND THEM DANG OYSTER PEOPLE - SEQUEL TO THE EASTPOINTER
All 12 BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND OTHER INTERNET SOURCES OR FROM NOBLE PUBLISHING. ALL 12 OF MY BOOKS ARE NOW ON KINDLE AT BARGAIN PRICES TOO. IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS E-MAIL ME. MY EMAIL IS ON MY PROFILE PAGE.