An excerpt from Michaelangelo’s Renaissance: a distillation of the causes of climate change and proposed cures…
– Chapter 63 –
If justice perishes, human life has lost its meaning
– Emmanuel Kant.
My dinner with Ivan, under the circumstances of the recent revelation, was not something that I was looking forward to. I was preoccupied…in an unsettled state of agitation…and probably not very good company. But, out of respect for I-T, I was determined to show up and try to put a good face on. And I was indeed, to be very glad that I did. It would form the foundation for the transfiguration of my very soul. My Great Wake-up.
As we pulled up to Ivan’s home, the sun was slowly creeping toward the cloud shrouded horizon, casting amber shards of sunlight like kleig lights on Cascadia Bay. It somehow seemed to settle me…the magnificence of it made my little problems have less importance. I was overwhelmed with a deep a sense of awe, and yes, gratitude that I lived in a place in the world that was endowed with such natural and diverse beauty, near the sea and the majestic Cascade mountains, the Western Alps with the snow-covered sentinel Mount Baker leaping out of the horizon to the East.
I-T’s home was situated in Fairhaven, one of the oldest parts of town founded in the late 19th century. It sits on a hill with a commanding view of the Bay. It’s a modest but well-maintained classic craftsman bungalow with a vintage covered porch the width of the house with a swing bench seat suspended from above with a chain on each end, just wide enough for two, facing the due West overlooking Cascadia Bay of Puget Sound.
Hawk and I with faithful Oso in tow trudge up the many concrete steps to the classic heavy oak front door with a segmented lights across the top. Immediately the sound of a barking dog inside gets Oso’s attention, and he begins his low muffled barking, his tail waging furiously.
As we step on to the porch, the front door opens to Ivan’s smiling face. There is also a large black muzzle with coal black eyes peering out, connected to large black Labrador, that I swear is smiling…barking unmenacingly, tail wagging being restrained by the collar by Ivan.
“Zelda…cool it! Hey, Mick…Hawk. Who’s this lovely piece of canine with ya?” he says nodding toward Oso.
Oso sidles up to Zelda, dwarfing her, and starts sniffing her muzzle, whereupon she lays down and rolls over on her back totally submissive.
“Hey I-T. Meet Oso…” I say.
“Well now…looks like Oso had Zelda with a ‘wuf’. She’s usually not that uh…easy…looks like she could use some work on her canine comportment.” I-T says smiling.
“Yea…Oso’s kind of used to that…he gets by on his looks, sorta like his ol’ man most of the time.” Hawk says.
“Not to worry I-T…he’s gelded…and harmless around females…like his Uncle Hawk.” I say.
“Geez…you two ever stop pimpin’ each other? Ever think about gettin’ married? Com’mon in…” he says smiling, as he leads us into the comfortably appointed cozy front room with a fireplace with two huge fixed pane windows framing the front door facing the Bay. It’s an old original house probably built in the late 20’s which appears to have been faithfully restored, complete with oak quarter-sawed hardwood floors, beautiful oak architectural details, doors and window trim. It’s full of floor to ceiling oak bookcases loaded with hard-cover books, many with leather bound spines. Permeating the air, the same nostalgic scent of the stacks at the UCB library where I spent many a happy hour listening to classical music while surrounded by the world’s great literary works.
“Here…” I say handing him the bottles of Grey Riesling and Merlot.
“Excellent…white and red…and mit a cork, yet…impressive.” he says placing the wine on the candlelit dining room table already set beautifully for dinner with a large bouquet of yellow and lavender fresh cut tulips.
Zelda and Oso, now cavorting around the front room, are pretty hard to ignore or to talk over.
“I’m going to put the woofs out in the backyard…let ’em get acquainted…so we can talk.” he says walking out toward the kitchen with both dogs rambunctiously following him out the rear door.
I notice that there is a middle aged man and a woman seated in a overstuffed sofa, probably in their late sixties, who are now both standing as Ivan returns to the front room with a stunningly beautiful woman with flawless sable skin, taller than Ivan with long slender graceful arms, and fine, delicate features. Her eyes are wide-set, dark and luminous with a charming slight overbite and luscious lips, framing a smile of pearlescent perfect white teeth set off nicely by large hand-wrought silver hoop earrings. Her ebony hair is long, worn up on top of her head, exposing her long slender nape. She looks like a one of those Kiplingesque East Indian Princess you’d see on the cover of a National Geographic. She’s wearing some kind of brightly colored shift…an ethnic print of warm earth tones, accented with an flowing diaphanous ochre sarong that seems alive with her aura…a feminine shimmering sunrise.
“This is my wife…Sanjana. Sanjana…Mick Kozlov and Hawk Shapiro.” he says.
“Pleasure…Sanjana” I say
Hawk recognizing that Sanjana’s East Indian, being a devout practitioner of Hatha Yoga he places his massive palms together just below his chin, and bows slightly at the waist, “Namaste”
“Namaste” Sanjana says smiling beguilingly returning the salutation to both of us.
“And this is my father and mother…Joseph and Ruth Tarnowski…visiting from New York City. Mom and Dad are giving a talk and a book signing at Village Books in Fairhaven tomorrow night. They’ve just did a book signing to overflow crowds at The Town Hall venue in Seattle yesterday, sponsored by Elliot Bay Books. After here they’re on to Vancouver the next night to a Chapter’s Bookstore in Kitsalano which will complete the Left Coast promotional tour of their book, which they collaborated on…Worker Cooperatives – The Antidote to Capitalism.” Ivan says which no small degree of filial pride.
Guess the radical apples from the Big Apple don’t fall too far from the tree.
“Joseph Tarnowski…from New York City. Growing up I’d heard your name and work mentioned by my father, S. G. Shapiro, many times.” Hawk says.
“Yes…of course. Simon Shapiro…a fellow traveler. I’ve met him, but know him mostly by his tireless work and writings representing the legal rights of the underclass…a fierce advocate for social justice.” Joseph says smiling effusively extending his firm hand to Hawk, then to me.
“Happy to meet you both.” I say nodding to Ruth Tarnowski while shaking Joseph’s hand.
“So you’re going to give a talk tomorrow night at VB?” Hawk says.
“Yes indeed. Apparently because of the large crowd expected, the venue has been moved to the auditorium of the local community college in North county to accommodate the large turnout. It is rumored that some folks from North county…conservatives and Libertarians plan to picket the event and to ‘engage the socialist commies’” he says with air quotes “uh…that would be my wife and I in the Q and A following our presentation.” he says smiling.
“Pop…some of those folks up there in North county are pretty tightly wound…reactionaries…it’s like a 50’s time machine up there…especially the evangelicals and the gun-ho neo-cons in petty coats and leisure suits…some of ’em still fightin’ the Cold War with the Commies.” Ivan says.
“Ah…but where else can you still find a good ol’ boy Saturday Night Tractor Pull?” Hawk says.
“People up there do not eat granola…and do not uh…suffer graciously those who do.” Ivan says
“Not to worry son, your mother and I have dealt with it many times. Should spark some lively debate…always a healthy proposition.” says the smiling socialist gadfly.
“Maybe if you were you show up in some county-chic Oshkosh bib coveralls, you’ll get invited for dinner…and if they really like you…show you their Vintage Tractor collection…” I say.
Joseph Tarnowski is a short compact man, thick in the middle with receding thinning gray hair, gold wire rim glasses framing lively light intelligent coffee eyes with a constant facetious glimmer.
Ruth Tarnowski is almost the same height, attractive, slender and elegantly dressed with modest makeup and understated jewelry. Her hair is professionally colored and coiffed with blond highlights. Manhattan elegance. Her eyes are deep set, inviting, warm and engaging but seem to belie a tough no-nonsense aura just below the surface typically accompanying piercing, unblinking azure eyes.
Both seem very comfortable in their skin which is probably where Ivan got his sang-froid in the face of great adversity that I had witnessed first hand at the student demonstrations at UCB in the sixties…his enormous and unrelenting moral and physical courage in confronting the power structure of ‘the establishment’.
Two young girls, maybe pre-teens emerge from the kitchen. They appear to have acquired the best from both sides of the family tree, tall and slender with a cafe latte complexion, with Ivan’s gray eyes with long thick black lashes and beautiful thick shiny wavy raven hair of their mother.
“These are my girls…Maya, the older…and Monique.” Ivan says proudly.
“Hiya Maya the older and Monique.” I say.
“Hello.” Hawk says.
They smile shyly, nod toward their mother, who nods back, then retreat back to the kitchen to continue helping their mother prepare dinner.
“Real beauties…by the time they’re old enough to date…you’re gonna have your hands full keepin’ the boys in check, Ivan.” Hawk says.
“Got plenty time to perfect my deterrence strategies…since they won’t be allowed to date until they’re…oh…say thirty.” he says with a grin which draws a smile and eye roll from their mother who disappears back into the kitchen.
Sanjana Singh-Tarnowski comes into the front room, and announces, “Dinner is served…please take a seat anywhere .”
“Maya and Monique, please sit between Mick and Hawk…to keep them separated.” says Ivan with his seemingly ever present smile.
We all adjourn to the dining room where we are silently joined by Maya and Monique who are now seated between Hawk and I, making a total of eight.
“So Sanjana, how did you happen to encounter this raving radical Ivan?” I ask.
“Be glad to Mick…but first I’d like to hear about Ivan’s days at UCB…as a revolutionary…” a smiling Sanjana says getting the daughter’s attention.
“Okay…fair enough…Ivan and…” I start to say when I’m interrupted by Ivan, “Mick Kozlov you have the right to remain silent…any thing you say can and will be used against uh…me. And unless you wish to be sharin’ a bowl of Kibbles and Bits with the woofs, for dinner…” Ivan says smiling, making a zipper motion across his mouth with his hand, nodding toward his two daughters who are rapt to hear about their father’s radical past.
“In other words…stifle yourself, Edith…” says Hawk a la perfect Archie Bunker from the 70’s sitcom All in the Family.
“Sanjana, I believe you know my attorney Mr Shapiro here, and having been duly advised of my uh…rights…by counsel, besides of which, I’m very hungry, having caught the delightful aroma of the food, I choose to invoke the Fifth. Maybe sometime when it’s just us adults…” I say in full diplomatic retreat.
“That uh…interesting, eh?” Sanjana says.
“You have no idea…I’ll put this way…he has every bit earned and is fully vested in the nickname Ivan the Terrible.” I say.
“Okay. Maybe another time.” Sanjana says.
“Maybe not…” Ivan says staring at me with a now thin, pasty smile.
The bill of fare is nothing short of spectacular with multiple dishes of exotic ethnic East Indian concoctions, each one more savory than the last, some with curry…others, subtle unrecognizable seasoning on several different kinds of meat and vegetable dishes served with authentic ethnic Indian music, sitar, accompanied by tabla drums barely perceptible in the background with the faint scent of patchouli incense. Obviously Sanjana has taken a great deal of time and care in the preparation. Much to Hawk’s pleasant surprise, without so much as even an errant Tofu.Sure beats the hell out of Kibbles and Bits.
Conversation is lively, punctuated by a toast first to Sanjana for the lovely meal, then to Ruth and Joseph Tarnowski. The wine is flowing and everyone’s enjoying themselves with lots of laughter, good food and good cheer reminiscent of the wonderful Italian dinners my own mother Maria used to throw for our family and friends.
“Sanjana…before we were uh…interrupted…you were going to tell us how you met Ivan the Terrible One…” I say.
“Well…I guess I should probably start with how I ended up here. My mother and father…were refugees from the constant civil wars and strife in India during the conflict for liberation from Colonial English rule in the late 40’s lead by Mahatma Gandhi. My father, a professor at the University, was highly educated in Europe…and London. He was able to secure a visa because he was offered a job with the American government state department in San Francisco, as a translator because of his fluent English, and mastery of many Hindi dialects.
After we relocated, my mother became pregnant with me. He attempted to go back to try to bring some of his family to America, his mother and father and siblings. In the process, sadly he was killed, in one of the riots in New Delhi by the separatists seeking independence from predominantly Hindu India…in what would later become the Muslim state of Pakistan. He was Hindu, and like Gandhi, did not support the partitioning of the Muslim and Hindu states based on religion. I was born here in the U.S. in 1948 in Fremont California just South of the Bay area where there was already a growing East Indian population. I was just a baby and never really knew him.” says Sanjana.
“Even though Sanjana was raised Hindu, after 9-11 many of the shall we say less enlightened…uh…inbred jingoistic patriots” Ivan says barely able to contain his anger, “…just assumed that because she was obviously from South Asia, that she was Muslim which sadly trickled down to our daughters in school, with verbal attacks and insults…so much so that we decided to place them in a private school…Arcadia, where we felt they would be more safe and less distracted.” Ivan says.
“If I may…Maya and Monique…can I ask you how you dealt with the insults?” I say.
“Mr Kozlov…Monique and I were raised by our parents to never retaliate. When Meghan Allison asked me if my mom and dad were terrorist, I admit that I was like really tempted?…to lash out at her…for being so…stu-u-u-PID. I just took a few deep breaths…and stifled my anger…barely…smiled and said, ‘Meghan, when you’re ready to listen…I would be happy to try to clue you in.’ And I was really glad that I hadn’t lashed out at her…because a week later Meghan…her sister McKenzie and her mom Jessica were all killed in the pipeline explosion.“ Maya says with Monique nodding in agreement.
“Well said, Maya…” says the uncharacteristically avuncular Hawk patting Maya’s hand.
“Indeed, Maya. Sorry Sanjana…please go on about how you met Ivan…” I say.
“Thank you Maya…I’m very proud of you both, apane priyajanom ko…sorry, Hindi for my dear ones. So…I was attending graduate school here at Moody University in 1977, majoring in ethnic studies, when President Carter pardoned the draftees that had relocated to Canada. Ivan was on his way back home to America after years of living in asylum from the U.S. Draft, in Vancouver British Columbia. He got off the Greyhound bus to stretch his legs, and somehow found his way to the campus.
I met Ivan one day when he was wandering around the campus of Moody U. He seemed lost. So I asked him if he needed some help in finding his way some place. He said, “Yea now that you mention it, I’ve actually been lost for oh…about the past ten years. And if you’re not too busy at the moment I was wondering if you could like help me find my way back to some semblance of a normal life in America.” As you know, Ivan can be very persuasive.” Sanjana says turning to Ivan, smiling mischievously.
“And the rest is his-tor-ee…as they say…since that day, we’ve never been apart.” Ivan adds reaching over gently placing his hand on top of Sanjana’s his eyes tearing up.
“Sounds like Kismet to me. So how’d you end up in environmental studies Ivan” I say.
“Yeah…well, to be honest, not a terribly high-minded decision on my part. I had just enough undergrad credits from UCB to enter grad school here, so I enrolled in the newly formed College of Ecology, frankly because it was new, had a lot of openings, and it was the only one I could get into that late date.” he says grinning.
“And now?” I say.
“Sanjana is the Dean of the East Asian Studies curriculum here, a tenured professor with a PhD in East Indian Studies and as you know, I’m Dean of Environmental Studies. Sadly, unless in the unlikely event something very cogent dramatically intervenes, my present task is bearing witness and carefully documenting the demise of human civilization…the coming of the 6th Mass Extinction.”
“Jezus Ivan…” Hawk says picking up butter knife “ got anything sharper than a dull butter knife, to like open a vein? Ooops…Sorry man…forgot about the girls here at the table.” Hawk says..
“Not a problem Hawk…they’ve heard it all before…many times.” Ivan says smiling.
I look at the girls who just roll their eyes in unison and smile demurely as Daddy is obviously just starting to tune up…again.
“Despite imperative warnings of 97% of the credible scientific climate community…the merchants of doubt are still winning the debate.
Here’s the reality of betting against the science of climate change. The odds of winning that bet, are just about the same as playing Roulette. Betting the house, the car and the wife and kids…everything you own…and civilization as we know it, on one number and spinning the Roulette wheel. That’s right 37 to 1 odds against, that you’ll win. Redefines a sucker’s bet.
The idiot light on the dashboard is now frantically flashing red, admonishing us to shut down the engine of greenhouse gases…before any more irreparable damage is done. It is the tragic replay of the Greek mythos of Nemesis, Greek…to pay what is due, divine retribution for man’s hubris as he blithely allows the slow systematic Matricide of Gaia…tortured and slowly suffocated by a blanket of CO2 at the hands of her own ungrateful children—a deadly irony—with the same slow irrepressible efficiency of the technology that caused it.” Ivan says.
“Isn’t there anything that can be done to stop it? I mean, there has to be some scientific solution to this.” I say.
“Mick, the problem we are facing has less to do with the science and more to do with the politics…not a climate crisis….but rather a climate of crisis management, rife with non-feasance and malfeasance…shortsighted reactionary ideology…a tragic and I must say potentially terminal crisis in political will and leadership.” Joseph Tarnowski says .
“And as a sociologist slash anthropologist“ adds Ruth Tarnowski “we see that, the geometric evolution of the compression of time has resulted in short term tactical thinking of maybe a seven year horizon, instead of long term strategic thinking, like the early indigenous peoples of seven generations. This shrinking of the human construct of perception of time through technology…has created a pervasive sense of immediacy…a priority of short term gain…of quick profits which through the years has resulted in the systematic attack and successful de-certification of collective bargaining units by the Corpocracy along with the tacit ever-present threat of cheap unregulated labor of Globalism. Workers have been coerced into a perpetual state of fear and anxiety—petrified of taking the risk to confront it for fear of tangible short-term loss for some theoretical long-term gain…to them just an abstraction…for now.”
“So what’s the solution…where do we go from here?” Hawk says.
“The first step toward grappling with such a huge complex problem, is a recognition, as painful as it may be…of the existential, and by extension, political reality. Defining and quantifying the problem and breaking it down into discreet manageable parts. The most problematic and difficult, yet imperative component of all—the politics of a massive shift in the collective consciousness of humanity. In short…from the ME to the WE. And while we’re at it, a repatriation…a resurrection of pre-patriarchal governance…sans testosterone…the only sure way to end all wars. ” says Ruth Tarnowski with a wry smile.
“And just how would you propose to make that happen?” I say.
“Obviously, it’s a political improbability to even try to legislate something even resembling compassion…and an even greater practical impossibility to attempt to enforce make nice.
“So again, how would you suggest we go about that short of becoming a police state…and forcing everybody to make nice…or else…” I say sarcastically.
“Becoming a police state…Ha! It’s already a fait accompli my dear boy. Just wait until the catastrophic consequences of climate change come home to roost. Chaos and anarchy on the streets of the good ol’ U-S of A…the police and the military are already preparing and planning for it…quietly putting infrastructure in place, including the wholesale militarization of local police force assets…subsidized by the Feds…recycling all those hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars of war surplus equipment and ordnance…ultimately to be used against the very people who paid for them. The magnitude of the irony is…well…” Ruth says.
“Hard to get your head around? So what are you saying, Ruth? Time for a massive revolution?” I say.
“I’m afraid the inescapable answer to that is…a categorical Maybe! Not quite yet. It would first have to start with a revolution of consciousness….a revival of the innate sense of humanity and compassion that has been implacably eroding through the monopolization of consciousness by technology…commoditizing everything…even our human interaction and relationships through social networks, that enables the sociopathy of Capitalism…so gradually as to be almost imperceptible.” Ruth says.
“Sounds like a definite Maybe… So do you actually think it’s possible to put the genie of technology back in the bottle?” I say.
“No Mick…I’m not that naïve…nor am I a Luddite. So I’m not saying that there are not some profoundly positive innovations and uses of the Internet. But the technology has evolved at a much, much higher rate than our capacity to deal with it intelligently. Our relatively primitive un-evolved lizard brains still function for the most part at a primal level…seeking pleasure…and the avoidance of pain. Like the Sorcerers Apprentice…possessive of enormous power of technology, but lacking the wisdom to deal with it.
We live in a collective trance…tranquilized by the trivial. The technology appeals to that part of the brain that seeks, and becomes addicted to pleasure…much like a drug…or alcohol. And if we’ve learned anything from the so-called spectacularly failed war on drugs…and don’t even get me started on the Corporate Prison-Industrial complex!…is that the only answer in combating abuse and addiction, is through education and early intervention. So okay…like most addictions, humans over time become inured…or normalized with it…constantly escalating usage to feed a growing addiction.” Ruth says.
“Ya know Ruth…” Hawk says “this whole discussion about the profound influence of technology on the traditional American concept of democracy and capitalism, causes me to imagine what a postcapitalism society might look like. While the neo-liberals…the oligarchs, continue to embrace an increasingly automated production model…to keep costs and therefore prices lower and lower by forcing the workforce to compete with the tireless efficiency of computers and robotics, it seems to me, the great irony is, that they have failed to grasp that it will be technology that will usurp and up-end the traditional free-market capitalist paradigm. Because of the colossal failure of capitalism to deliver a sustainable decent quality of life to the working class majority…the constant grinding of the laissez-faire machine, slashing the workforce, forcing workers to do increasingly menial work that takes no pride in production. Serving only the Deity of Efficiency…undignified work that is essentially without any meaning beyond rate of return for their masters…slave labor paid just enough to survive so they can come to work another day. And for this profound increase in productivity they are rewarded with stagnant wages…treated like indentured servants with disrespect and contempt by their employers. The Neo-Dark Ages…nothing more than a Lord and vassal relationship…with time clocks. But as history has demonstrated with the arrival of the the Renaissance, the universal humanity of man naturally seeks and flourishes in the light of human dignity, mutual respect…egalitarianism. Maybe…just maybe a true democracy will emerge.”
“Why Hawk…well said…spoken like a true revolutionary!” a smiling Ruth says to a blushing Hawk.
“Proving Hawk’s not just another pretty face, Ruth…” I say with a smirk toward Hawk who better than anyone else knows full well that his face could be considered anything but pretty. Masculine yeap…very.
Undaunted by my amiable needling, Hawk continues, “And in this so-called Information Age, of which I have been involved in since its genesis, there is no more of a pure model of democracy than the open source model of information sharing, free and therefore without scarcity, natural or artificially induced. I think it will be the vehicle for the restructuring and reshaping of a new world order. Just consider the launch of Wikipedia, online digital encyclopedia in early 2001. All the information…more importantly knowledge, not the same thing, domiciled there will be easily accessible online, freely distributable with relatively few intellectual property restrictions. It will be publicly subsidized through donations, maintained and curated by volunteers…without compensation. If indeed knowledge is power…as prophetically declared in the 16th century by philosopher Francis Bacon, it will revolutionize, literally, and reconstitute the power structure. The Information Age, eventually will bite the gluttonous hand of the capitalists that have feed it. Because pricing of goods and services is dependent on scarcity, the explosion of an open and free information economy will evolve it away from a classic hierarchical capitalistic model. From the few to many…to the many to many economy.”
“And the natives are getting restless…” Ivan says “The end of capitalism is coming and the Captains of Capitalism are now beginning whiff the putrid scent of discontent. I think the larger question now becomes how will the Ace of Spades…the ultimate dark trump card of the coming catastrophic consequences of unmitigated climate change, redefine the social order…once the collective primal instinct of survival, caused by scarcity is unleashed…with a vengeance. A game changer.”
“Indeed son. In the meantime in the face of knowing what’s coming, we need to plant a tree…to incorporate into the curriculum for our children, at a very early age, how to recognize the limitations of technology…to place the use and our reliance upon it in a proper perspective. Basically, technology and media literacy. At some level, long term, the addiction to dehumanizing technology…our blind reliance on it, as more of an end…than a means, poses a far greater risk to the survival of civilization than say…any existential biological pandemic.” Ruth says.
“Okay Ruth…so what’s your vision on how to accomplish that?” I say.
“Ah…didn’t say I know the how silly boy…” Ruth says playfully slapping my hand, “…that’s a much harder question…that’s your job bubbala!” a smiling Ruth says, “the solution of which will have to come from yours and future generations. But we have little time to waste…as the society is already unwittingly voluntarily, and probably irreversibly on a massive scale, relinquishing and abrogating it’s privacy rights. It’s imperative that we infuse future generations, now…with the moral and legal implications…with a recognition that the rights of the individual, embodied in the Bill of Rights, must remain sovereign. Inevitably the Corporacy…and by extension the state…will insidiously and systematically, through gradual accretion attempt to usurp our right to privacy on the basis of some straw-man overblown argument of security.”
“So Big Brother is already watching?” I say
“Yes, but only to a degree, for now, Mick. But it most probably will not unfold like Orwell’s masterwork, 1984, initially…but rather by slick seduction through propaganda by the Corpocracy, known euphemistically by the innocent and harmless sounding, marketing…of the seek-pleasure-avoid-pain media and technology…as depicted in Aldous Huxley’s incredibly prophetic “Brave New World…written in 1932!” Ruth says.
“So it won’t start out with Big Brother…or the state controlling the message?” I say.
“No…first by the Corporacy…or Little Brother, lead by the Great Profit of the Capitalism…with an F…Monsieur Baron du Bottom-Line…through selective seductive dissembling that will gradually compromise our resistance to give up our personal sovereignty…our privacy aka…liberty. Big Brother will come later after all the heavy lifting has been done. So first be afraid…be very afraid of Little Brother…because the Corpocracy is not bound by as many of those uh…inconvenient Constitutional strictures or prohibitions…as the state is. ” Ruth says.
“So from years of working in I-T,” Hawk says “it’s obvious to me that while we’re being paranoid about Big Brother is watching, Little Brother has been quietly encroaching…infringing on our right to privacy…like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon and social networks like on-line dating, building up massive amounts of linked aggregate metadata at an astonishingly granular level…which by the way, they can sell to third parties without our knowledge or consent…based on our buying habits, our key word searches and links we click, etcetera…even our political proclivities…everything about each one of us that uses the internet…which at that level of linked data collection is tantamount to content. So they don’t even have to have privy to our correspondence.”
“So if I hear you right, Ruth…you’re saying what’s needed is not just a modern day equivalent of a Great Awakening of consciousness…but also A Great Wake-up to the potential pathologies of technology and those who would abuse it for their nefarious self-interest?” I say..
“Precisely!…A Renaissance…a rebirth of sorts…or a Neo-Renaissance if you will…before it’s too late.” she says.
“Well, if what you say is true about the militarization of law enforcement…how could a revolution by…and for the people be successful against such overwhelming military might?” I say.
“Well, to me there seems to be no other viable alternative but to take it to the streets. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said it best, mon ami…’I was not the one to invent lies: they were created in a society divided by class and each of us inherited lies when we were born. It is not by refusing to lie that we will abolish lies: it is by eradicating class by any means necessary’ and I underscore, any.” says Hawk his eyes smoldering with anger, apparently his anger management strategy on temporary sabbatical.
“So you advocate the use of violence to that end, Hawk? So you’re a closet Karl Marx…advocating the violent overthrow of the government?” Ruth says.
“More like a Groucho…” I say, which Hawk now in his heat-seeking missile mode brushes off.
“Hey Mick…mon ami…make like Harpo willya?” he says with zipper mouth motion.
“Geez…what a…what for it…?” I say.
“Dear Ruth…yes, I would…and not necessarily as a last resort which may be too late. I still can recall the words of Malcolm X, in 1965…just before he was assassinated…indelibly burned into my consciousness…when the defenseless Blacks were mercilessly being beaten and slaughtered, ‘We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence…by any means necessary’. It was not until the Blacks began to arm themselves…to fight back in the North…in the Bay area with the Black Power Movement…the Black Panthers…that’s when the White establishment began to sense their vulnerability…that they could not gratuitously inflict violence on Black people with impunity…without Black blow back.” Hawk says.
“And so you think that violence would have expedited the cause of civil rights of the Black people?” Ruth asks.
“I don’t know…but it sure as hell would have caused some folks in the Jim Crow South to take pause…to realize that they could themselves be exposed to physical violence…that some of their lily white asses, literally was in the game.” Hawk says.
“And when the oppressed are so far down…Bob Dylan’s, “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to loose.” I say.
“You’re so far down…that down looks like up. Ruth, as a another Jew, I would think that you, of all people, would realize that the Jews in Germany during Hitler’s reign of terror…millions of our people, men, women and children where exterminated…like vermin. Meekly following like lambs being lead to slaughter during the Holocaust. But had they resisted en masse…by any means necessary, including armed resistance, like the French Resistance…the outcome may have been much different than six million Jews being eradicated…erased like they never existed.” Hawk says.
“I understand…and indeed share your anger, but in your rage, you’re blaming the victim, Hawk. And by the way…remember that historically our people are from the merchant class…not warriors…we finance and supply wars…not fight them, present company excluded.” Ruth says smiling facetiously.
“Yeah…like the Rothschilds, just shopkeepers doing a bisl gesheft …a little business, eh?…finance and supply both sides…so they’re always on a winning side…and if you believe in Karma…well I won’t even go there with the Holocaust. Dammit Ruth…seems to me that having that almost genetic Jewish victim mentality was, and still is large part of the problem. Yeah…I know it’s part of the process…a result of the oppression. But when some of the Blacks had finally had enough, their response to violence was, Yessuh, Massa Whitey, I’ll turn the other cheek…so you can kiss the other cheek…of my black ass. And guess what, some of the Whites suddenly started to get more than a little circumspect about how they treated Blacks…’cause they were scared shitless…why? Because now, they sensed that what was once considered a birthright, could be taken away from them by violence. Now they had something they could lose.” Hawk says still seething.
Ruth says, “In many ways the Blacks, have much the same narrative as the oppressed Jews through the millennia of history…treated like sub-humans…even in literature…the benign but no less pathological stereotypes…going as far back as Shakespeare for the Jews, and even before…just because of their ethnic origin. Okay, so granted, short term, they got the attention of the oppressors. So how, exactly, as a practical matter would you propose that this armed insurrection be implemented…and financed, remember, I am a Jew…” grinning, “…and perpetuated long term, and more importantly what does the end game look like? The streets flowing red with the blood of Americans killing other Americans? Another American civil war? In the end, exactly what did that solve? Just how’d that work out for everybody?” Ruth says.
“Well, I haven’t figured that part out…yet…that’s a much harder question… ”says a sheepishly grinning Hawk with air quotes repeating Ruth’s earlier answer, “but I can tell you this…for me personally?…as Emiliano Zapata said during the Mexican Revolution…I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees…” Hawk says still in anger relapse mode.
“Touche, Hawk.” says an smiling Ruth, “Noble and laudable words, Hawk…I have no doubt as to their sincerity. “
“Don’t know the when…or the how…but inevitably, the world’s headed for a fiery broadside collision on the corner of Main Street…and Wall Street…between regressive Capitalism and Progressivism. And…there will be blood…flowing in the streets….” Hawk says.
“Maybe so. But consider this, my dear enraged gladiator friend. An armed insurrection would be exactly how the government…and the oligarchs would like it to unfold…thereby justifying a full and overwhelming military response. Long term…not a winnable war for the revolutionaries. No…if history tells us anything, including the liberation and decolonization of India from the British lead by Gandhi…and in this country the successful prosecution of civil rights by the Blacks in the 60’s lead by Martin Luther King Jr…it must be through the same massive passive aggressive response, non-violent demonstration and civil disobedience including rolling strikes and boycotts by the workers. But first it will require the complete solidarity and mobilization of many of the workers…committed worker solidarity is the key…the necessary condition precedent.” Ruth says.
“But how do you get all the workers to unite? I mean isn’t that rather idealistic, if not Panglossian to expect that kind of worker unity?” I say.
“My widowed mother…” Sanjana says, “often spoke of the demonstrations by her people in New Delhi…the heroism of the waves of Mahatma Gandhi’s followers, as they stood, totally defenseless, in complete commitment, to Satyagraha….non-violent defiance against the government dragoons. As the soldiers mercilessly beat them…as each wave of the injured were carried off, then replaced by the one behind, each wave heroically stepping up into the breach…knowing that they were going to be brutally beaten. Until finally some of the soldiers became so physically exhausted, their blows no longer had any power…either physical or as intimidation over the protestors. Some of soldiers were so moved by the heroism and self-sacrifice that tears were streaming down their faces…many of them, knowing that they would face harsh disciplinary action themselves, refused to continue beating their fellow citizens.”
“Inspiring Sanjana…I have often wondered if I would be capable of such physical…and moral courage…to take a beating without fighting back.” I say.
“Yes, Mick…that’s what makes it even more remarkable. The protestors had won…without resorting to physical retaliation…creating a tide of massive moral outrage that swept over the country, which inspired even more protestors to join in…until through geometric progression, a tipping point of critical mass was reached. Eventually the sheer magnitude of humanity, willing to sacrifice their bodies, and the international moral outrage, finally overwhelmed the resource…and resolve of the British. It was a noble moment in the history of civilization…and the history of India in particular…liberation from English Colonial rule. And it was accomplished without ostensibly firing a single shot by the dissidents.” Sanjana says.
“Thank you my dear daughter…for that. The eventual triumph through such extraordinary moral and physical courage by just common, but far from ordinary folks, later would serve as a successful model for the non-violent civil rights protests in the Jim Crow South, lead by Gandhi’s disciple, Reverend King. ” Ruth says placing her hand gently on Sanjana’s, her eyes tearing up.
“Heroic indeed, Sanjana. Like the lunch counter sit-ins where the Blacks suffered merciless beatings…for what? merely asking to be served? But do you really think that today’s generation of selfish, relatively affluent people of the West are capable, more to the point, willing to make such selfless sacrifice? I think it was Gandhi, who when asked the question, What do think of Western civilization? replied, I think it would be good idea…” I say.
“Yes…I do, Mick…I believe Civil Rights legislation in the mid 60’s was a direct result of the peaceful non-violent demonstrations by the Blacks in the South lead by Reverend King. And my students are just as committed to righting social wrongs…like gender equality…and for the LGBT community…as our generation during the 60’s against discrimination based on race.” Sanjana says.
“Now that you mention it, of course…I lost a young man who was like a son to me. Trey Mahoney sacrificed his unfinished life…attempting to make them listen. To do the right thing. His only crime was that he was gay…and for following his broken heart as to whom he chose to love, he was assassinated by the establishment.
“And Selma in ’65…and C-Wash…” says Hawk
“Indeed. But for the horrific images coming into the living rooms of Main Street America…via the six o’clock news, of the gratuitous violence and attack of the defenseless, peaceful non-violent demonstrators who were marching from Selma to Montgomery, the capitol of Alabama…no Voter Rights Act of 1965. Hawk and I and of course Ivan, lost one of our dearest, most committed and courageous brothers there, Charles Washington…the ultimate sacrifice…martyred…thank you for reminding me, Sanjana,” my throat tightening up.
“Rest in peace…C-Wash…” Hawk says bowing his massive hairless glistening head deferentially.
“Yes, and RIP brother Mario Savio, taken from us in 1996…at fifty-three. They said it was a heart attack…but I believe it was a broken heart that finally took Mario. Weltschmerz…world pain…or world weariness from the recognition of man’s capacity for inhumanity and lack of compassion for one another.” Ivan says one of Mario Savio’s closest friends…and collaborator in the FSM at UCB.
“Rest in peace…Mario Savio, Charles Washington 1940-1965…at 25, Selma, Alabama and Byron Brawley 1942-1967…at 24, Kontum Province, Vietnam.” I say
“Indeed, Mick. But…again if we look at the history of tectonic social change…general rolling strikes, Syndicalism has been a common union organizing principle in a number of European countries, including France, Spain, and Italy. To be successful, it requires no more than twenty percent of the workforce, in America maybe 40 million of the total 150 million total workforce across the complete spectrum of the production of goods and services to bring the oligarchs to their knees in less than two years…” Ruth says.
“So if the workers are the real producers of wealth for the oligarchs…no producers…no excessive cash flow…no obscene wealth?” I say.
“And no oligarchs…” Hawk adds.
“Ergo bubala… A bloodless reversal of the current slow motion Corporate coupe de etat. From that point on, the tacit ever-present threat of general strikes would force the few remaining oligarchs to deal with the reality that ultimately it is the worker…the producers of goods and services that hold the power.” says Ruth.
“Hmmm…sorry Ruth…but I have to say that this uh…strikes me somewhat as Marxist utopianism…rooted in collectivistic idealism. Can you cite like some big and meaningful example, and I don’t mean some obscure little victory of labor in some banana republic podunk country, where this actually affected a profound and lasting reorganization of a social order?” I say.
“Sure. Thought you’d never ask…big boy.” the affably smiling Ruth Tarnowski says, with her lively penetrating blue eyes dancing, “…the most striking example, no pun intended, of successful non-violent revolution through general strikes was that of 1989…in Poland were part of a revolutionary wave that eventually resulted in the Fall of Communism in the Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe by the end of 1991. Just think of the power of that…all those Trillions with a T, of dollars spent by the USSR and the U.S….on armament over four decades…and in the end it was a civil implosion…ordinary working class people…that was more powerful than the technology of any man-made implosion-type thermonuclear weapon, that ultimately defeated the so-called Red Menace…the fall of the Iron Curtain. So…sometimes for decades and decades…nothing happens, then in few weeks…decades happen. That one big enough for ya miene bubala, Mickey? Hmmm?” says a warmly smiling Ruth Tarnowski.
“Okay, Ruth…ya got me…I can buy that. But look what happened with the power vacuum created by the collapse of Communism. The same oligarchs, the apparatchiks become born-again Capitalist…and ended up with all the marbles…again.” I say.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it… George Santayana…” Joe says, “using the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR as a negative paradigm, this revolution will be forced to heed the harsh lessons of the collapse of Communism…or it too shall fail…just as spectacularly. Which translates into the necessity for bold, visionary…and very vigilant leadership. That’s where the people of your generation come in, Mick…old enough…possessing of institutional memory to remember the past failures and follies of history like the American imperialist interventions…the war in Vietnam, the attempts at the overthrow of the democratically elected socialist governments in Iran 1953, Chile in 1973, Afghanistan in 1979 and Nicaragua starting in 1981 ending with Iran-Contra in 1985, to just name a few of America’s greatest hits…your tax dollars at work…meanwhile back on the home front, a wholesale assault…the deregulation of Capitalism, including the privatization of the vital functions of government. Your generation is still young enough, and energetic with wisdom of life experience to shepherd the process, to mentor the children of our lovely grandchildren’s generation…to keep it from straying off course.” Joseph Tarnowski says.
“So are you sayin’ it’s time to start mobilizing…like yesterday…for a uh…revolution?” I say.
“Yeap…you get it…with a little more re-socialization” she says with air quotes “I just may turn you two schatzi’s into little lefty revolutionaries yet!” Ruth says facetiously with a wicked smile.
“Welcome to my world, boys…” says a grinning Ivan.
“So Ruth…what and when’s the next step?” I say.
“To survive this unprecedented global threat to our very existence will require a radical reordering of civilization’s deeply devolved and perverse priorities. The great tragedy is that the American working class for the most part is ignorant of the fact that they are essentially slaves, wage slaves as Marx put it, to a rigged system where our democracy, or what’s left of it, like a defective gene through incest has run amok…mutated into this obsequious, antithetical servant of Capitalism. I like to quote Harriet Tubman, African-American abolitionist and humanitarian when she said I freed thousands of slaves, but I could have freed thousands more…if only they had known they were slaves. For millions of people with today’s obscene disparity of wealth, poverty is the new slavery.” says Ruth Tarnowski.
“So the answer lies with the media…to sound the alarms…a massive media campaign…a clarion call to action?” I say.
“I’ll let Joe answer that since he’s the economist…besides I’m tired of hearing myself talk.” she says with genuine humility.
“Okay, Ruthy…you can take the rest of night off…save a little of that fire for tomorrow night at the book signing…honey, you’ve more than earned your dinner tonight…” he says with an authentic love and respect, affectionately patting her hand.
“Mick, it was during the 80’s with the Reagan administration, that the war against labor unions, huge tax income tax reductions for the wealthy including inheritance tax, massive deregulation and lax anti-trust regulation and enforcement started in earnest, with mainstream media becoming increasingly concentrated and consolidated in the hands of just a few major corporations, with no efficient competitive alternative.” Joe says.
“Like the one with the biggest…uh…megaphones usually wins the argument…” I say.
“Yea…like here’s ya megaphones…right here…” says the Hawkster turning away from the girls seated next to him in a rare display of decorum, grabbing his genitals, doing a spot-on wiseguy, which draws a snigger from the girls.
“A-hem…uh…correct. The notion that the solution to climate change is through more Capitalism is a naive myth promulgated through the slick dissembling known by the euphemism marketing…essentially propaganda…a society distracted from the crucially important social issues by a constant bombardment of our senses with inane, vulgar minutiae, through technology…social media, electronic gossip mills, the contemporary bread and circus of the Roman Empire…promoted by corporate mainstream media—the sycophantic handmaidens of the Corporacy. As Neil Postman prophetically wrote in 1985, in Amusing Ourselves to Death…echoing Huxley’s Brave New World…the public is more oppressed by their addiction to amusement…pleasure, than in Orwell’s work, 1984…where they were oppressed by state control.” Joe says.
“Yes…I’ve read Postman, Chomsky and Zinn and others, extensively. And I too recognize and have often acknowledged the profound prescience of Huxley’s fictional masterwork. So the system is so broken…so corrupt…that it’s not fixable?” I say
“Yeap….ironically from the third rate actor…like most things Hollywood, pretended president Ronald Reagan’s so-called shining city on a hill…a Potemkin Village” he says with air quotes “…and that old majestic mansion…up on the shining hill that from a distance looks like all it needs is a fresh coat of paint to restore it to it’s original splendor?…belies the reality that it’s been so infested with termites and rats, of the two legged kind…for so long, that it’s rotting from the inside out. And no amount of propping it…mere cosmetic change, is going to save it from eventually collapsing under it’s own weight. And as Ruth says…poverty is the new slavery…and all the tweaking…all the so-called reforms around the edges only serves to lengthens the chains…it does not break them.” says Joe.
“So…time for what…bulldoze the bureaucracy?” Hawk says.
“An apt metaphor, Hawk…yes…and like any other structure that’s in danger of collapse, first it needs to be condemned…then the demolition needs to planned and controlled to prevent a precipitous, chaotic collapse.” Joe says.
“So…doz it all the way down to the foundation…and start over?” I say.
“I’m afraid so…sadly, nothing less will suffice. But if the democratic foundation is solid, and I believe that it is, in time, the process of rebuilding on that foundation can begin.” Joe says.
“Assuming there is the equivalent of a Great Awakening…since there is so much economic inter-connectedness through Globalism, what’s the rest of the world going to be doing…while America is tuning up for American Revolution 2.0?” I say.
“Through Globalism the highly formidable virulent strain of Capitalism, particularly prevalent in America over the past century has now metastasized all over the world, indeed tout le monde…the so-called American Dream has become the World Nightmare…” Joe says.
“Greed…without borders…America’s main export…” interjects Hawk.
“Agreed.” says a smiling Joseph Tarnowski, “so…the old bromide especially in the era of Globalism, when the American economy sneezes…the rest of the world catches a cold, was never more relevant, that is as long as the American dollar is the international primary reserve currency. By the way if that should ever change…the collapse of the dollar would throw the world into a global depression…economic chaos and anarchy. In Europe, for example because it’s so fractured politically, with so many competing issues of inter-state sovereignty…with no true central government or bank, perhaps the potential for a contemporary equivalent of the French Revolution in terms of a bloody violence and anarchy is even greater. Reign of Terror 2.0. And you can be sure that abroad…as well as here…of asymmetrical warfare…by non-state actors, leftovers and dead-enders of the former oligarchy who failed to get the memo, desperately attempting to retain power by exploiting the chaos for financial…and hegemonic gain.” Joe says.
“Yeah…but…” I start to say when I am eerily confronted by a memory seeping in from my past life as an M-F, Yes…exploitation…as Jason Mahoney presciently declared, years ago in the early 80’s while convening and Chairing the Entrepreneurial Corporate Caucus, the ECC with the other plutocratic Masters of the Universe about the coming chaos caused by climate change, ‘… never, ever…let a serious crisis to go to waste. This crisis will provide the opportunity for us, the ruling class to do things that we could not before…’
“Hell-o-o? Earth to Koz-mick…yes, but what, Koz?” Hawks says mercifully interrupting the dark reverie of my past with Captain Ahab which sends a chill down to my toes. Hmmm…what the hell is that about? Some unfinished business…from long ago?
“Uh…sorry…a Proustian moment…Remembrance of Things Past…” I say, “So…you were saying, professor?”
“Sure…” Joe continues, “Mick. So…Capitalism has now devolved into an international Sociopathology, with the disparity of wealth world-wide, rivaling even the excesses of the mythical Gilded Age, when John D. Rockefeller…of Standard Oil…his net worth today adjusted for inflation would be a staggering 340 billion with a B…and in Europe, the notorious war profiteer Nathan Mayer Rothschild, worth about 350 billion.”
“Man…didn’t know there was that many zeros. The Second Gilded Age…redefines disparity of wealth to a whole ‘nuther level.” I say.
“Louis Brandeis—Associate Justice on the Supreme Court summed it up best, We must make our choice. We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. But we can’t have both.” Joe says.
“Jezus…this level of obscene wealth…like, today’s Capitalism is to a democracy…is uh what…pornography is to love? Hawk says.
“And to extend your metaphor professor, in the process of rebuilding, engineer it to withstand the inevitable challenges…of internal political and seismic external hazards, like the social dislocation caused by the calamitous destruction and chaos from climate change.” I say.
“Sadly, climate change for the most part, is a done deal, Mick. We could have largely prevented the catastrophic consequences of it had we only listened to the respected climate scientists like James Hansen of N-O-A-A, as far back as the 80’s.” Ivan interjects.
“So…not exactly a very rosy forecast for the planet…or its inhabitants?” I say.
“Nope…but it’s totally self-inflicted. As the indigenous peoples have known for millennia…Gaia has only rules. She is impartial…She knows no mercy. We knew her rules…yet we continued to disrespect Her. Break Her rules…and you pay. You can pay Her now…or you can pay Her later, but in the end, She always gets paid…like the credit card that’s been maxed out with minimum payments, the principal and interest are now due but with obscene deferred compound interest.” Ivan says.
“I guess in the end, the people get the kind of government…and planet they deserve. ” I say.
“Not much consolation, but yes. Tragically, it is the innocent children, who have inherited a civilization on the verge of collapse. Like one continuous 50 year New Year’s Eve drunken profligate orgy of willful, indeed arrogant ignorance by their hung-over parents, the Biffs and O-blivias…it’s the day after and the kids are stuck with paying the bill for cleaning the big mess up…to hose the place down to make it even liveable. The civilization in some perverse degraded form will survive…it always does. But history, will not be kind to our generation for allowing this totally unnecessary fiasco to happen.” Ivan says.
“So no magic bullet solutions…no last second Hail Mary game-winning pass.” I say
“Hey Hawk…pass me that butter knife, will ya pal.” I say.
“Now, with the inexorable inertia of it, the positive feedback loop of the melting polar caps, glaciers and perma-frost, and the release of methane gas, along with dramatic sea warming, increasing levels, causing more calamitous extreme weather events…well, the only realistic hope is to mitigate it. No one, not the government…not the scientists are willing to publicly admit it for fear of starting a panic stampede for the exits…a mass exodus. We are now entering the adaptive phase of dealing with the inevitable consequences of anthropocentric climate change, including in the not too distant future, by 2050, dramatic increase of sea level and average global temperature, displacing hundreds of millions, with mass migration of the populace of the planet to the Northern latitudes…like the Pacific Northwest…perhaps even in the lifetime of our children, a dystopic diaspora of marauding starving masses of desperate peoples, roaming and foraging to merely subsist. Chaos and anarchy.” says Ivan.
“Jezus…Sounds like it’s time for a Hemlock Happy Hour…” Hawk says.
“Yeah…nice uplifting message, Ivan…so now what?” I say.
“Well guys, most of us with children…and grandchildren will choose not to indulge in Hawk’s…uh…Hemlock Maneuver, as we are now charged with a solemn duty. To prepare ourselves…our families and loved ones to start to form self-sufficient, defensible communities with others who share the same vision and are able…and more importantly, willing and committed to begin preparation for the inevitable. Survival, with some modicum of quality of life, including the preservation of the arts, and culture, will depend on the ability of these enclaves to produce their own food, water and sustainable energy…to be completely self-sustaining…indefinitely. Everything will have to be produced locally…including security, as the government or what’s left of it, may not necessarily have the resources, or the will to protect the populace against the onslaught. Sadly…it will become almost a tribal kind of existence, probably for several decades, at least until the world population through attrition, including starvation, disease, civil strive…and war, becomes viable” Ivan says.
“So what’s your estimate for viable world population?” I ask
“Oh…optimally about three to five billion tops, with zero growth…eventually finding a homeostatic balance of population and resource for the planet to support.” Ivan says with a cavalier, almost clinical insouciance.
“Jezus, Ivan…you’re talking almost a fifty percent reduction of the current levels of world population?” I say.
“Unfortunately…your math is correct, Mick. Vast portions of the planet probably 20, even as much as 30 degress North and South of equator will become essentially uninhabitable. That’s why the revolution must occur first…to form the political infrastructure to try to ameliorate the worldwide chaos and dislocation caused by climate change…to allow in a relatively orderly way, for the regeneration and re-emergence of a new world order. A more egalitarian society, not solely based on acquisitiveness as the main priority, but more on social justice and the universal rights of man.” Ivan says.
“Ivan, I have to say, nice speech, man…but it sounds more than a trifle quixotic, almost naively utopian to me” I say.
“Indeed. But that’s no reason not to strive for it, Mick…at the risk of sounding cliché…to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Ivan says.
“Mick, as Ivan says, the planet…is already pretty much fully cooked…stick a fork in it.” Joe says
“So what you’re saying Joe is…no matter what we do…basically we’re forked, eh?” Hawk says smiling.
“Ha!…” says Joe laughing, “yeah…pretty much…well put Hawk. Even the well-meaning mainstream environmentalist have failed to grasp that the current mutation of Capitalism is as capable of self-reform—as a career crack addict living in daily denial—lacking the political will and courage to deal with climate change. No…Capitalism as it exists today is not the solution…it is the problem.” Joseph Tarnowski says who appears content to have his wife and long time collaborator and equal partner, a highly respected professor of Sociology and Anthropology, unthreatened by the intellectual brilliance and virtuosity in her own right, carry the mantle for social reform in particular as it relates to her area of expertise of the social sciences.
Quite a potent tag-team duo.
“Hmmm…well I didn’t expect to be breaking bread tonight in the presence of revolutionary uh…royalty “ Hawk says with exaggerated air quotes to emphasis the irony “…with contemporary iterations of Rosa Luxemburg…and Karl Marx. Raise your glasses to Ruth and Joe…and to all the fellow travelers for the cause of social justice…of the past, the present and the future…everywhere” says Hawk smiling holding up his glass of wine.
“Here! Here!…well said Hawkster.” I say raising my glass.
“Indeed…” says Ivan raising his glass with Sanjana.
“Why thank you Hawk! We take that as an esteemed compliment…” Ruth says smiling broadly raising her glass.
“Very kind of you…thank you. And here’s to S. G. Shapiro…truly a Sui Generis.” says Joe Tarnowski raising his glass.
“It certainly was intended as such, Ruth…I only wish Papa…uh…S. G. could have been here to join in this discussion with these esteemed fellow travelers.” Hawk says wistfully.
“Uh…don’t wish to sound ignorant…but…uh…” I say
“Dat train dun already left da station…” Hawk interjects always enjoying needling his pal.
“Rosa Luxemburg?” I say throwing Hawk a contrived exaggerated sarcastic smirk.
“A Marxist theorist, economist and revolutionary socialist of Polish-Jewish descent…one of the leaders of the German Revolution of 1918…which essentially ended the First World War after of abdication of the Kaiser…aka Mom.” Ivan Tarnowski says with a proud smile.
“A beautiful as well as brilliant bubba…” Hawk says winking at a blushing Ruth Tarnowski.
“Uh…by the way…she was martyred at the age of 47. Well, folks, on that happy note…this is probably a good place to call it a night. If you want to hear more about the book…the uh…WMD contra the oligarchy by WSDE, Workers Self Directed Enterprises or Worker’s Cooperatives, the rest of this dog and pony show will be appearing at the auditorium of the community college tomorrow night at 7 PM. Might want to get there a little early to get a good ringside seat.” Ivan says only half-jokingly.
So we bid a good evening, thanking Ivan and Sanjana for a lovely dinner and the stimulating thought provoking conversation with Joseph and Ruth Tarnowski.
It is reminiscent of many an evening of long hours of discussion and yes, debate spent…sometimes into sunrise…with Mario Savio, Charles Washington and Byron Brawley at UCB about many of the things discussed tonight…which enlightened and informed my, at the time, jejune world view. Sadly those principles that those young men, the best and the brightest, sacrificed their lives for…I am now profoundly ashamed to confess, that somehow, I allowed to erode…to eventually become dormant. And moi…seduced by the siren call of the Gods of Capitalism…of wealth and luxury, by the Corpocracy. Until now.
So…we collect Oso, who has apparently fallen in deep lust with Zelda, and is reluctant to leave as exhibited by his intense whining all the way home to Chez MAK.
I’ll try to unpack and process all we heard tonight from some very committed, intelligent, and yes inspiring folks, manana, hopefully after a good night’s sleep. Ha!
Tomorrow night, maybe we’ll take in the second act of the Ruth and Joe Road Show if for no other reason than to provide some security backup in case the North county crowd gets a little rowdy.
Still reverberating in my consciousness…
Your generation is still young enough, and energetic with the wisdom of life experience to shepherd the process, to mentor the children…to keep it from straying off course…
Including my own son…Michael…my son!? Jezus.
I finally fall asleep about 3 AM after staring at the ceiling for several hours of counting the knots in the knotty pine ceiling, pondering my past with the diabolical Captain Ahab. Indeed…definitely some unfinished business…from long ago…the brutal murders of Sora Eagle Feather and Marla Dyson. And for El Negrito and J. Murdock Mahoney et al…some Koz-assisted-Karma.
And by the way, make that second term U.S. Senator J. Murdock Mahoney, from the Great Centennial State of Colorado…with the motto Nil Sine Numine…Nothing Without Providence. Here’s ya Providence…right here, Jason…