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"There followed a series of uncovered plots, some true, others fantastic, some Cheka provocations. Dzerzhinsky was constantly sharpening the weapon of Soviet dictatorship. To Dzerzhinsky was brought the mass of undigested rumours from all parts of Petrograd. With the aid of picked squads of Chekists, Dzerzhinsky undertook to purge the city. Little time was wasted sifting evidence and classifying people rounded up in these night raids. Woe to him who did not disarm all suspicion at once. The prisoners were generally hustled to the old police station not far from the Winter Palace. Here, with or without perfunctory interrogation, they were stood up against the courtyard wall and shot. The staccato sounds of death were muffled by the roar of truck motors kept going for the purpose."
"Dzerzhinsky furnished the instrument for tearing a new society out of the womb of the old -- the instrument of organised, systematic, mass terror. For Dzerzhinsky the class struggle meant exterminating 'the enemies of the working class.' The 'enemies of the working class' were all who opposed the Bolshevik dictatorship."
"At meetings of the Sovnarcom, Lenin often exchanged notes with his colleagues. On one occasion, he sent a note to Dzerzhinsky. 'How many vicious counter-revolutionaries are there in our prisons ?' Dzerzhinsky's reply was: 'About fifteen hundred.' Lenin read it, snorted something to himself, made a cross beside the figure, and returned the note to Dzerzhinsky."
"Dzerzhinsky rose and left the room without a word. No-one paid any attention either to Lenin's note or to Dzerzhinsky's departure. The meeting continued. But the next day there was excited whispering. Dzerzhinsky had ordered the execution of all the fifteen hundred 'vicious counter-revolutionaries' the previous night. He had taken Lenin's cross as a collective death sentence."
"There would have been little comment had Lenin's gesture been meant as an order for wholesale liquidation. But, as Fotieva, Lenin's secretary, explained: 'There was a misunderstanding. Vladimir Ilyich never wanted the executions. Dzerzhinsky did not understand him. Vladimir Ilyich usually puts a cross on memoranda to indicate that he has read them and noted their contents.'"
From computer jottings. Original link 404ed.
Charles William Mitchell -- Hypatia
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at 2:00 am
, Other Writ
Last night I idly considered the tragic life and death of Anna Nicole Smith, and wondered why the keepers of Amerika still have not yet transformed the Statue of Liberty into her likeness --- for that life and death perfectly capture the parallel destiny of the land... A century ago George S. Viereck wrote this predictive fantasy. He was quintessentially an odd bird, and despite some sympathy for his Hohenzollern cousins was rather a teutonophile than in any way royalist, yet his Germanic imagination qualified him as a seer.
THE EMPIRE CITY
HUGE steel-ribbed monsters rise into the air
Her Babylonian towers, while on high
Like gilt-scaled serpents glide the swift trains by,
Or, underfoot, creep to their secret lair.
A thousand lights are jewels in her hair,
The sea her girdle, and her crown the sky,
Her life-blood throbs, the fevered pulses fly,
Immense, defiant, breathless she stands there
And ever listens in the ceaseless din,
Waiting for him, her lover who shall come,
Whose singing lips shall boldly claim their own
And render sonant what in her was dumb:
The splendour and the madness and the sin,
Her dreams in iron and her thoughts of stone.
O NINEVEH, thy realm is set
Upon a base of rock and steel
From where the under-rivers fret
High up to where the planets reel.
Clad in a blazing coat of mail,
Above the gables of the town
Huge dragons with a monstrous trail
Have pillared pathways up and down.
And in the bowels of the deep
Where no man sees the gladdening sun,
All night without the balm of sleep
The human tide rolls on and on.
The Hudson's mighty waters lave
In stern caress thy granite shore,
And to thy port the salt sea wave
Brings oil and wine and precious ore.
Yet if the ocean in its might
Should rise confounding stream and bay,
The stain of one delirious night
Not all the tides can wash away.
Thick pours the smoke of thousand fires,
Life throbs and beats relentlessly ---
But lo, above the stately spires
Two lemans: Death and Leprosy.
What fruit shall spring from such embrace ?
Ah, even thou wouldst quake to hear !
He bends to kiss her loathsome face,
She laughs --- and whispers in his ear.
Sit not too proudly on thy throne,
Think on thy sisters, them that fell;
Not all the hosts of Babylon
Could save her from the jaws of hell.
Through the long alleys of the park
On noiseless wheels and delicate springs,
Glide painted women fair and dark,
Bedecked with silks and jewelled things.
In peacock splendour goes the rout
With shrill, loud laughter of the mad ---
Red lips to suck thy life-blood out,
And eyes too weary to be sad !
Their feet go down to shameful death,
They flaunt the livery of their wrong,
Their beauty is of Ashtoreth,
Her strength it is that makes them strong.
Behold thy virgin daughters, how
They know the smile a wanton wears;
And oh ! on many a boyish brow
The blood-red brand of murder flares.
See, through the crowded streets they fly,
Like doves before the gathering storm.
They cannot rest, for ceaselessly
In every heart there dwells a worm.
They sing in mimic joy, and crown
Their temples to the flutes of sin;
But no sweet noise shall ever drown
The whisper of the worm within.
They revel in the gilded line
Of lamplit halls to charm the night,
But think you that the crimson wine
Can veil the horror from their sight ?
Ah, no --- their staring eyes are led
To where it lurks with hideous leer:
Therefore the women flush so red,
And all the men are white with fear.
As in a mansion vowed to lust,
Where wantons with their guests make free,
'Tis thus thou humblest in the dust
Thy queenly body, Nineveh !
Thy course is downward; 'tis the road
To sins that even where disgrace
And shameful pleasure walk abroad
Dare not unmask their shrouded face !
Surely at last shall come the day
When these that dance so merrily
Shall watch with terrible faces gray
Thy doom draw near, O Nineveh !
I, too, the fatal harvest gained
Of them that sow with seed of fire
In passion's garden --- I have drained
The goblet of thy sick desire.
I from thy love had bitter bliss,
And ever in my memory stir
The after-savours of thy kiss ---
The taste of aloes and of myrrh.
And yet I love thee, love unblessed
The poison of thy wanton's art;
Though thou be sister to the Pest
In thy great hands I lay my heart !
And when thy body Titan-strong
Writhes on its giant couch of sin,
Yea, though upon the trembling throng
The very vault of Heaven fall in;
And though the palace of thy feasts
Sink crumbling in a fiery sea ---
l, like, the last of Baal's priests,
Will share thy doom, O Nineveh.
George Sylvester Viereck : Nineveh
Charles Sheeler -- American Landscape
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The doom of our culture was already well upon it's way by the time of the Second World War --- or War of the Republics as I would prefer it to be known, since this was conducted entirely betwixt differing republican systems, all equally loathsome. Possibly not Japan, I guess, since it was at least nominally a monarchy, although cursory search indicates it was more of a constitutional monarchy. WWII may be summarized as that the nazis were detestable; the western allies despicable; and the communists disgusting.
The Russians had reverted to becoming savages by 1945: the Americans maintained their customary anthropological status as barbarians. Their especially barbaric political system of representative democracy had grave consequence as victors... The very first moralistic theatre was the judicial murder of General Anton Dostler, of which may be read here, written by the son of his American defense counsel. Essentially, 15 American soldiers were captured disguised as Italian civilians, and the --- non-nazi --- General referred the case to Kesselring, who ordered them to be executed. Admittedly Smiling Albert had enough to occupy his mind right then without giving this a great deal of thought, but under the laws of war this was a done deal anyway. It is pointless to object or blame soldiers for disguising; it is equally pointless to object to the consequence --- which procedure is actually there to protect civilians. Thus although guiltless --- neither prosecutor nor defence expected anything except acquittal --- General Dostler was then sentenced to death after new instructions were handed down from Washington in response to the revelation that the prosecution would fail, that is that henceforth in these trials hearsay evidence would be admissible. This was to satisfy the voting constituents. Democracy is awesomely repellent not merely in practice, but still more so in idealist theory...
'Hope to God we never lose a war.' said the prosecutor.
Execution of German General Anton Dostler
Another version, shorter, but with a few more frames
Incidentally, this trial caused the innocent prosecutor to lose his faith in the Rule of Law forever...
Charles Gounod -- Finale of Faust
Unknown -- Constantinos Paleologos at the battlements, Dawn of the 29th May of 1453
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Some serious illness, which alternated between lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and sudden death, but which resolved itself into influenza was followed by a customary melancholy which both intensified the taedium vitae of a depressive and left neither time nor interest in this blog. Possibly things may improve slightly ( although normal pessimism urges caution... ). In the meantime:
Monarchy is first proved to be the true and rightful form of government. Men’s objects are best attained during universal peace: this is possible only under a monarch. And as he is the image of the divine unity, so man is through him made one, and brought most near to God. There must, in every system of forces, be a ‘primum mobile’; to be perfect, every organisation must have a centre, into which all is gathered, by which all is controlled. Justice is best secured by a supreme arbiter of disputes, himself untempted by ambition, since his dominion is already bounded only by ocean. Man is best and happiest when he is most free; to be free is to exist for one’s own sake. To this noblest end does the monarch and he alone guide us; other forms of government are perverted, and exist for the benefit of some class; he seeks the good of all alike, being to that very end appointed.
James Bryce’s summary of Dante’s De Monarchia
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at 3:30 am
, Other Writ
NOT that by this disdain
I am releas'd,
And freed from thy tyrannick chain,
Do I my self think blest;
Nor that thy Flame shall burn
No more; for know
That I shall into ashes turn,
Before this fire doth so.
Nor yet that unconfin'd
I now may rove,
And with new beauties please my mind;
But that thou ne'r didst love:
For since thou hast no part
Felt of this flame,
I onely from thy tyrant heart
Repuls'd, not banish'd am.
To loose what once was mine
Would grieve me more
Then those inconstant sweets of thine
Had pleas'd my soul before.
Now I have not lost the blisse
I ne'r possest;
And spight of fate am blest in this,
That I was never blest.
Sir Thomas Stanley : The Repulse
Ferdinand Hodler --- The Dream
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For those of us without any massive sense of humour the German variety does just fine. One would have idly considered that Charles V HRR could only appear capable of pure fun if compared with his son Philip, but appearances are usually deceptive.
In the heat of the chase Charles V once found himself separated from his suite. He rode through the forest till he saw a wood-cutter who showed him the way to a lonely inn. Hungry and tired he dismounted, tied his horse to a tree, and entered. Inside he found four men who seemed to be asleep. Their appearance was not prepossessing, but he sat down and bade the landlord bring him something to eat and drink. Suddenly one of the men stood up and rubbed his eyes. He strode up to the emperor, snatched away from him his sword, and then said with exaggerated politeness: "Pardon me ! but I have just dreamed that I was to take your sword." The others seized his hat and cloak and had just begun to search his pockets, when some of the emperor's servants appeared. They soon succeeded in overcoming the robbers. When Charles had described his adventure in a few words, he shut his eyes and was silent for a few moments. Then he opened them again and said: "I have just dreamed that I saw four thieves hanged." The villains screamed for mercy, but the emperor remained firm. Four ropes were lent by the landlord, and the emperor's dream was fulfilled.
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As two world-outlooks, two modes of blood-flow in the veins and of thought in the daily being and doing, are interwoven, there arise in the end ( in every Culture ) two sorts of moral, of which each looks down upon the other --- namely, noble custom, and priestly askesis, reciprocally censured as worldly and as servile. It has been shown already how the one proceeds from the castle and the other from the cloister and the minster, the one from full being in the flood of History and the other, aloof therefrom, out of pure waking-consciousness in the ambiance of a God-pervaded nature. The force with which these primary impressions act upon men is something that later periods will be unable even to imagine. The secular and the spiritual class-feeling are starting on their upward career, and cutting out for themselves an ethical class-ideal which is accessible only to the right people, and even to them only by way of long and strict schooling. The great being-stream feels itself as a unit as against the residue of dull, pulseless, and aimless blood. The great mind-community knows itself as a unit as against the residue of uninitiated. These units are the band of heroes and the community of saints.
It will always remain the great merit of Nietzsche that he was the first to recognize the dual nature of all moral. His designations of "master-" and "slave-" moral were inexact, and his presentation of "Christianity" placed it much too definitely on the one side of the dividing line, but at the basis of all his opinions this lies strong and clear, that good and bad are aristocratic, and good and evil priestly, distinctions. Good and bad, which are Totemistic distinctions among primitive groups of men and tribes, describe, not dispositions, but men, and describe them comprehensively in respect of their living-being. The good are the powerful, the rich, the fortunate. Good means strong, brave, thoroughbred, in the idiom of every Springtime. Bad, cheap, wretched, common, in the original sense, are the powerless, propertyless, unfortunate, cowardly, negligible --- the "sons of nobody" as ancient Egypt said. Good and evil, Taboo concepts, assign value to a man according to his perceptions and reason --- that is, his waking disposition and his conscious actions. To offend against love-ethic in the race sense is ungentle, to sin against the Church's love-command is wicked. The noble habit is the perfectly unconscious result of a long and continuous training. It is learned in intercourse and not from books. It is a felt rhythm, and not a notion. But the other moral is enunciated, ordered on the basis of cause and consequence, and therefore learnable and expressive of a conviction.
The one is historical through and through, and recognizes rank-distinctions and privileges as actual and axiomatic. Honour is always class-honour --- there is no such thing as an "honour of humanity." The duel is not an obligation of unfree persons. Every man, be he Bedouin or Samurai or Corsican, peasant or workman, judge or bandit, has his own binding notions of honour, loyalty, courage, revenge, that do not apply to other kinds of life. Every life has custom-ethic --- it is unthinkable without it. Children have it already in their play; they know at once, of themselves, what is fitting. No one has laid down these rules, but they exist. They arise, quite unconsciously, out of the "we" that has formed itself out of the uniform pulse of the group. Here, too, each being is "in form." Every crowd that, under one or another stimulus, has collected in the street has for the moment its own ethic, and anyone who does not absorb it and stand for it as self-evident --- to say "follow it" would presume more rationality in the action than there is --- is a poor, mean creature, an outsider. Uneducated people and children possess an astonishingly fine reactivity to this. Children, however, are also required to learn the Catechism, and in it they hear about the good and evil that are laid down and are any thing rather than self-evident. Custom-ethic is not that which is true, but that which is there; it is a thing of birth and growth, feeling and organic logic. Moral, in contrast to this, is never actuality ( for, if it were, all the world would be saintly ), but an eternal demand hanging over the consciousness and, ex hypothesi, over that of all men alike, irrespective of all differences of actual life and history. And, therefore, all moral is negative and all custom-ethic affirmative. In the latter "devoid of honour" is the worst, in the former "devoid of sin" is the highest, that can be said of anyone.
The basic concept of all living custom-ethic is honour. Everything else --- loyalty, modesty, bravery, chivalry, self-control, resolution is comprised in it. And honour is a matter of the blood and not of the reason. One does not reflect on a point of honour --- that is already dishonour. To lose honour means to be annulled so far as Life and Time and History are concerned. The honour of one's class, one's family, of man and woman, of one's people and one's country, the honour of peasant and soldier and even bandit honour means that the life in a person is something that has worth, historical dignity, delicacy, nobility. It belongs to directional Time, as sin belongs to timeless Space. To have honour in one's body means about the same as to have race. The opposite sort are the Thersites-natures, the mud-souled, the riff-raff, the "kick-me-but-let-me-live's." To submit to insult, to forget a humiliation, to quail before an enemy --- all these are signs of a life become worthless and superfluous. But this is not at all the same thing as priestly moral, for that moral does not cleave to life at any cost of degradation, but rather rejects and abstains from life as such, and therefore incidentally from honour. As has been said already, every moral action is, at the very bottom, a piece of askesis and a killing of being. And eo ipso it stands outside the field of life and the world of history.
Oswald Spengler : The Decline of the West [ Vol II, Chap. 10 ]
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at 6:46 pm
, Manners not Morals
, Other Writ
As a preliminary to the discussion of the problem that concerns the historian, it will possibly serve a purpose to put forward certain general theses relating to the administration of moral judgments in the world at large. Such theses will help to define a mode of approach to this subject and will provide a framework for the argument that is to follow. If they give offence, however, they can be rendered otherwise harmless by the addition of the proviso that even if they fail to secure acceptance — even if a great wind comes to blow them all off the face of the earth — still, so far as I can see, this fact ought not to weaken the main argument which follows them, and to which they serve as a background.
The first point, then, is the belief that to some degree men are responsible for themselves and for their actions ; but that all men are imperfect and that human suffering is greatly increased and multiplied by this general fact.
The second is the thesis that the difference between the wickedness and responsibility of one man and those of another, in the general world of nature ( where it must be recognised that good fortune or adverse conditions play a great but still unmeasured part in the development of human beings ), is so idle a question and so nice a point that it is not worth the wear of our fine intellects to discuss it in any imaginable conjuncture of life or history. Indeed, since human responsibility is so subtle a substance, presenting itself with vividness inside me, but not open to my vision at all inside another man — in other words, since I know that I could have done better than I did do while I can never tell what allowances I ought to make for other people — it is impossible to think one man essentially more wicked than another save as one might say: “All men are sinners and I the chief of them”. It follows from this that moral judgments of actual people cannot defensibly or usefully exist in concrete cases save in the form of self-judgments.
Thirdly, though I, looking to the immediate future, must regard myself as a responsible person who may do things that are moral and immoral, and may follow or betray a law which is written on my conscience or a law that I have imposed upon myself; yet in regard to other people ( who may think earnestly and differ from me about the law itself ) and in regard to other people’s actions once they are done ( so that I cannot now prevent them ), the passing of what purports to be a moral judgment — particularly a judgment which amounts to the assertion that they are worse men than I am — is not merely irrelevant, but actually immoral and harmful, not merely dangerous to my soul but unfitted for producing improvement in human nature anywhere.
Fourthly, granted that the State is under the necessity of punishing crimes, and granted that in the case of crime the offence is not merely technical but has moral implications (though sometimes the implications are not so assured or so direct as the world would like to believe), still we are not justified in expanding a legal verdict into a final judgment on a personality, or in assuming that because our own sins do not happen to have been also technical offences they are less morally blameworthy. If a man is sent to gaol, in fact, both the judge and the gaoler are to be interpreted as saying to him : “Look here, old sport, we know that you may be a better man than we are, but since we can’t tell what to do in order to save society, we have to resort to force”. If it is necessary to hang murderers, we must be sure that we are doing it because of a necessity and not out of moral indignation. And when we have done it we shall do well to reflect sadly on the bitterness of the necessity, and say : “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.
Fifthly, since moral indignation corrupts the agent who possesses it and is not calculated to reform the man who is the object of it, the demand for it — in the politician and in the historian for example — is really a .demand for an illegitimate form of power. The attachment to it is based on its efficacy as a tactical weapon, its ability to rouse irrational fervour and extraordinary malevolence against some enemy. As in such cases its efficacy is not lessened even when it is used unfairly and unscrupulously against those who have done no great harm, the argument for the use of this weapon is valid also for the unscrupulous use of it. The passage from the one to the other is indeed one of the most regular conjuring-tricks in the world.
Finally — so far as these statements of principle are concerned — I should say that, though I assume there are limits, I do not know where to place the limits to the operation of the truth that we condemn where we do not understand. This is tantamount to the assertion that the kind of ethical judgments which historians like Lord Acton have been so anxious to achieve are possible only to God.
Moral Judgements in History
If our Western civilisation were to collapse even more completely than it has done, and I were asked to say upon which of the sins of the world the judgment of God had come in so signal a manner, I should specify, as the most general of existing evils and the most terrifying in its results, human presumption and particularly intellectual arrogance. There is good reason for believing that none of the fields of specialised knowledge is exempt from this fault; and I know of no miracle in the structure of the universe that should make me think even archbishops free of it. But it is the besetting disease of historians, and the effect of an historical education seems very often actually to encourage the evil. The mind sweeps like the mind of God over centuries and continents, churches and cities, Shakespeares and Aristotles, curtly putting everything in its place. Any schoolboy thinks that he can show that Napoleon was foolish as a statesman, and I have seen Bismarck condemned as a mere simpleton in diplomacy by undergraduates who would not have had sufficient diplomacy to wheedle sixpence out of a college porter. I do not know if there is any other field of knowledge which suffers so badly as history from the sheer blind repetitions that occur year after year, and from book to book — theses and statements repeated sometimes out of their proper context, and even sometimes when they have not been correctly understood; and very supple and delicate ones turned by sheer repetition and rigidity of mind into hard dogmatic formulas. I have seen historians condemn the Middle Ages for their blindness in quoting and requoting earlier authorities and so perpetuating an original error; when it was in fact these self-same historians who were doing just that very thing — repeating judgments at second hand — in the very act of stating that particular case. I do not personally feel that in modern times technical history, in spite of all the skill that has gone to making of it, has ever been taken up by a mind that I should call Shakespearean in its depth and scope, save possibly in the remarkable case of Ranke. I think compared with the novelists, the historians have been coarse-fingered and too lacking in subtlety in handling of human nature; so that, if he had only novelists and the historians to judge from, a visitor from another planet would think that they were talking at two different kinds of substance.
The Dangers of History
Herbert Butterfield : History & Human Relations
Temporary ill-health precludes any capacity for thought greater than that which lesser beings need for the selection for their choice of president ( something which in any case is more decided on the grossest sentiment rather than pure reason, of course: otherwise the leading Democrat candidates might not have the appearance of sinister liars, and the leading Republicans --- as they were --- that of shifty dolts ), therefore a short mélange of diverse items stored in draft without any unifying theme....
Thoughts Too Deep For Words Dept.:
A comment recently dropped on a computing blog:
I think christina aggulara is like more of the new version of veronica lake.She is realy insanely beautiful and i myself are doing a biography of Veronica lake.
Let Them Eat Cake:
Wedding Cake of the Gothic Crows
A blog with an amusing satire, Hometown
From the wiki on Turbo-Folk, that relentless mystical musical experience which expresses the yearning for the ideal life as perceived by the ordinary man:
However, turbo-folk was equally popular amongst the South Slavic nations during the brutal wars of the 1990s, reflecting perhaps the common cultural sentiments of the warring sides. When a Muslim market seller in Sarajevo was asked why in the midst of a Serb shelling of the city he illegally sold CDs by turbo-folk superstar Ceca, a wife of the notorious Serbian warlord Arkan, he offered a laconic retort: "Art knows no borders!"
Two by Atomik Harmonik --- for frailer spirits, less is more is something particularly applicable to hearty polkas, but they go nuts on this in the Balkans.
Finally, to combat near delirium, amongst other discoveries of things unknown, I read up on Neodymium Magnets: which are very powerful for their size, and can disrupt floppy disks ( who the hell still uses floppy disks ? ), computer monitors, fingers, credit cards, and heart pacemakers. Jamie is conducting experiments with just one of these listed in unwitting conjunction with an elderly grouch of a neighbour.