July 17th, 2011 16:53 EST
Slavery is Alive and Well in America and All Over The Globe
What are the particulates of arrogance? Damned if I know, but I`m sure they`re not the stuff of which democracies should be built.
What possessed the European pillagers to consider themselves so superior to the pre-Columbians? Were they measuring their weapons against those of the native inhabitants, their books, their ships? How could they not have witnessed the breathtaking reverence of the original Americans for the land, for the climate, which our television stations now turn into soap opera? Were they so limited intellectually and emotionally that they could manage nothing but one-for-one comparisons, weapon to weapon, ship to canoe? What possessed them in their arrogance? Whatever it was, it still possesses us today.
How could the Germans have concluded they were superior to the Slaves or the Jews, who had produced so much in science and art and literature and music? Was it their industrial prowess that imbued them with such hubris?
Or was it in every case a cynical idea that might makes right? The Spanish were never the engineers the Incas were, nor were they the engineers their previous occupiers, the Arabs, had been. Indeed we see the glories of Arab architecture and water engineering in our own Southwest today. But the Conquistadors were able to overcome the Incas and so they considered their superiority proven, demonstrable by force of arms, no matter how pathetically obvious it should be that arms are only one measure of a culture. How sure can Americans be today that their own misguided sense of superiority doesn`t rest entirely on feats of arms? And what about the whole squalid idea of superiority itself?
The towering arrogance of the Conquistadors and the North Europeans who conquered North America pales in comparison to the arrogance of corporations that today regard human beings as consumer bots, units in a cruel calculus. And yet the U.S. Supreme Court, a measure all by itself of national hubris, has concluded that a corporation is a person and therefore has license to use its money to corrupt the electoral process.
I can grasp the arrogance of nations only as a measure of hypocrisy and cynicism, and yet I know there were Germans who sincerely and fervidly believed Nazi doctrine, idiotic as it was, and I know there are Americans who today believe, against all evidence and common sense, that by enriching corporations further we will best serve the interests of the people.
Some who professed to believe in Nazism, like some who now profess to believe in enlightened selfishness and corporate welfare, were cynics and hypocrites, but not all, not by a long shot. So are the particulates of arrogance based in true belief? I suspect anger and fear are among them. I have always believed 20th Century states` rightism is based in race hatred and that the myth of the Confederacy having so chivalrously fought for states` rights a clever-by-half cover-up of the real reason, which was to perpetuate a slave economy.
Nor do I think the slavery issue was settled by the Emancipation, not for a minute. There are many kinds of slavery. Throughout the world women and children are oppressed and exploited. How is this not slavery? And now comes corporate globalism to exploit every square inch of the surface of the earth and to dehumanize us in the name of profit. Profit for whom? Not the masses, not even a majority, but rather a small predator class. How is this not a form of slavery? Slavery was not about the color of one`s skin alone, it was about a culture of contempt for human life and dignity. How can we say we have shed it?
My sense is that the campaign underway to diminish the middle class, reduce corporate responsibility for supporting society and dismantle social programs is less fiscal conservatism and more a slavish ass-kissing of their corporate masters by political lackeys. And arrogance is the perfect cover-up for such squalid behavior, just as the best defense is an offense. We know better, we are better, etc, etc. Better than whom? The poor, the immigrant, the disabled, the damaged veteran, the jobless, the oppressed homeowner? Who is this pandering sub-class better than? Certainly not the predator class, that master race to which they toady.
If we were having a national discourse on the nature of arrogance we would be closer to improving the condition of the people than bathing in gutter trash about Sarah Palin, Anthony Weiner, Newt Gingrich`s jewelry account, and keeping everybody scared about bogeymen. The Christian Right has had a great deal to say about our national affairs, far too much in a country that prides itself in its separation of church and state, but what does it say about arrogance and greed? What does it say about the revolutionary ideas that got Jesus killed? The Christian right sounds far more like the Pharisees than the incendiary and subversive apostles. At its heart Christianity is subversive, standing for what our corporatist culture most detests.
The predicament of the church is like the predicament of the news organizations: it depends on support from corporados, and consequently we no more have a free church than we have a free press. And because of this we have no discourse about a head-spinning array of subjects, not the least of which is the bullsh*t quotient in our politics.
Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, was published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com