Three Books That I’ve Read in October

Three Books That I’ve Read in October

This month, Major Styles has read the following books:

All of these were great. With Richard Wagner, we read about a man that rose into greatness: how he overcame a myriad of obstacles on his journey. With PT Barnum, we get advice on financial matters – how to increase your wealth and, subsequently, your life.  And with Marcus Aurelius, we read about the worldview of a famous Roman leader: and we find how his theories are closely related to Buddhism.

What are you reading this month?

See Related Article: Three Books That I’ve read in September

Book Review: 200 Years Together by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Book Review: 200 Years Together by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969. He became a darling of the American conservative party, providing a first-hand account of Communist atrocities in the Soviet Union. His book The Gulag Archipelago became an international best seller and he was widely applauded.

But then he fell out of favor.

solzhi
Solzhenitsyn became a literary hero when he criticized the Russian government.

His 2001 book, 200 Years Together, was a expansive two-volume historical essay, discussing the role of Jews in communist Russia. Immediately, the book was decried as anti-semetic. Moreover, publishing houses in New York would not translate the novel into English.  In short, Solzhenitsyn went from a literary darling to a persona non grata overnight.

So I decided to read the book in question. I’d like to be my own judge on the matter (thank you very much). And after completing the book, I’ve reached a conclusion:

200 Years Together is, arguably, the most accurate description of the Russian-Jewish relationship ever written. Solzhenitsyn’s research is comprehensive. The book is filled with footnotes, specific examples, and a plethora of sources from opposing sides. By doing this, he establishes a convincing case for a controversial claim:

Jewish people were, in part, responsible for mass genocide in the Ukraine during the 1930s; moreover, this atrocity has been downplayed – and often ignored – by the international community.

Here are some of the major points, which lead up to the Ukranian genocide (called the Holodomor).

1.) The Soviet Union Was the Home of the Jewish People for 200 Years

Many people think of Israel when they think of the Jews. Or, they might also think of the United States. However, they overlook the fact that prior to the birth of Israel, the Soviet Union was the home of the Jewish people.

Judging by its stable manner of life, it was in neighboring Poland that the biggest Jewish community emerged, expanded and became strong from the 13th to the 18th century. It formed the basis of the future Russian jewry, which became the most important part of World jewry until the 20th century (p. 9)

This historical background is important. The old saying is true…you can’t know the present unless you know the past. Jewish people have strong historical ties to Russia, and it was their homeland long before Israel became a nation.

Solzhenitsyn continues:

A contemporary Jewish progressive wrote, that ‘Jews, as a nation, do not exist’, that they ‘consider themselves Russians of the Mosaic faith…’‘Jews recognize that their salvation lies in the merging with the Russian people’.” (p. 59)

jews in russia
For 200 years, more Jews lived in Russia than any other country.

Moreover, many Jews considered themselves to be Russian. Many American Jews are unaware of this fact: i.e. the importance of Russia in Jewish history. These histories are glossed over in Hebrew schools, as well as secular American institutions. A Jew might learn about scripture or a variety of stories: i.e. from the Torah, Talmud, etc. Or, he might learn about Israeli history, like as the 7-Day War. But as for Russian history, it’s largely ignored.

2.) Eventually, Jews Became Influential Members of the Communist Party

Solzhenitsyn points out that after the revolution of 1917, the Jews gained more power in Russia.

“Soon after the March Revolution of 1917, everywhere in Petrograd you could see groups of Jews, standing on benches, soap boxes and such, making speeches…. There had been restrictions on the rights of Jews to live in Petrograd, but after the Revolution they came in droves, and the majority of agitators were Jews … they were apostate Jews” (p. 105)

Solzhenitsyn continues:

“Myself, having worked for many years on the “February” press and memoirs…could not fail to notice…in those materials, from the most varied witnesses and participants of those events, there are so many Jewish names, and the Jewish theme is very loud and persistent” (p. 105)

In short, the Russian revolution was, at first, a peasant uprising. However, later the movement was co-opted by Jews. Note that most of these Jews were apostate, meaning they gave up the traditional elements of their culture: i.e. the wearing of the kippah, etc.

marx
Karl Marx was, arguably, the most famous communist Jew that was an apostate. Many more were to follow…

The most famous apostate Jew in Russia was Karl Marx. He did not wear the traditional garb or follow the Hasidic traditions. Yet he was Jewish in this cultural sense: i.e. he was reared in the traditions of that faith.

3.) Jewish Members of the Communist Party Were Guilty of Mass Murder

Nearly 10 million people died in the Holodomor. This was an act of systematic starvation, where the Ukranian farmers were arrested and deported by Joseph Stalin. Soon after, millions of Ukranian peasants would die of starvation. Yet Stalin himself did not organize these actions; instead, he relied on “henchmen”: individuals that he knew would carry out the murders.

LK
Lazar Kaganivich, Stalin’s Jewish brother-in-law, organized the greatest mass murder of the 20th century: the Holodomor.

The most notorious of these mass murderers was Stalin’s brother-in-law, a Jewish man by the name of Lazar Kaganovich. Solzhenitsyn has no kind words for Kaganovich; he indicts him as the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century. Moreover, and he lambastes the Western media for refusing to publicize the genocide.

Editorial note: If we continually hear about the Holocaust, then why don’t we hear about the Holodomor?

holodomor
The photos of the Holodomor resemble those of the Holocaust.

Another Jewish mass murderer was Isai Berg, As it turns out, Berg invented the mobile gas chamber, which he used to murder opponents of the Holodomor.

And from the astonishing disclosure in 1990 we learned that the famous mobile gas chambers were invented, as it turns out, not by Hitler during the World War II, but in the Soviet NKVD in 1937 by Isai Davidovich Berg, the head of the administrative and maintenance section of the NKVD of Moscow Oblast (sure, he was not alone in that enterprise, but he organized the whole business)…the victims were stripped naked, tied, mouths plugged, and thrown into a closed truck, outwardly disguised as a bread truck. On the road the exhaust fumes were redirected into the prisoner-carrying compartment, and by the time the van arrived to the burial ditch, the prisoners were “ready.

gas van
The Jewish man, Isai Berg, invented the first mobile gas chamber. It was used to silence opponents of the Holodomor (Ukrainian genocide).

And there were more culprits:

Molotov delivered the main report on this topic and among the debaters were the murderers of the peasantry — Schlikhter and Yakovlev-Epstein (250)

The death total in the Holodomor is estimated to be 7-10 million. However, these numbers are widely disputed, and it’s believed to be closer to 20 million. In short, genocides are not carried out by one individual. It takes many people, working together, to organize the murders. In the case of the Ukranian Holodomor, many of the culprits were Jewish.

4.) Counterargument: Jews Should Be Forgiven for Any Atrocities Since They Were Persecuted in Russia

I’ve brought this topic up with Jews in the past: i.e. that Jewish individuals were responsible for genocide in the Ukraine. The retort is usually the same:

  • “Yes, that might be true…but Jews were heavily persecuted in the Soviet Union.”

Yes, that’s true to a certain extent. There were pogroms, as well as a variety of discriminatory actions perpetuated against Jews: i.e. the quotas regarding Jewish membership in various arenas, such as colleges or the government. And Russian Jews had every right to feel slighted in this regard.

However, two wrongs don’t make a right. Note that most wars are reprisals of some sort. Hiroshima was a response to Pearl Harbor; the bombing of Dresden, a response to the invasion of Poland, etc. Nearly all murders are retaliatory in nature. Somewhere…somehow…war must end. Somebody must learn to forgive.

But there is a more important point, which almost everyone can agree on – there is no justification for genocide. Even Hitler had legitimate grievances: i.e. the unfair treaties that were signed after World War 1. However, that doesn’t make Auschwitz a good thing.

Conclusion

200 Years Together is a must read. We learn important lessons, many of which are not being taught in Western schools.

  • The Soviet Union Was the Home of the Jewish People for 200 Years
  • Jews Became Influential Members of the Communist Party
  • Jewish Members of the Communist Party Were Guilty of Mass Murder

Why has the Holodomor ignored in history books? And why does Hollywood not  dramatize the event? So much death…so many families destroyed. There are many answers, but I think Solzhenitsyn says it best:

They [the Jews]have forgotten it. They have sincerely and completely forgotten it. Indeed, it is so difficult to remember bad things about yourself. (379)

See Related Article: Article Review: Richard Wagner’s “On Judaism in Music”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judging by its stable manner of life, it was in neighboring Poland that the biggest Jewish community emerged, expanded and became strong from the 13th to the 18th century. It formed the basis of the future Russian jewry, which became the most important part of World jewry until the 20th century (p. 9)

Ivan IV: “We absolutely do not permit the entry of the Jew into my lands, because we do not wish to see evil in our lands, but rather may God grant that the people in my land may have rest from that irritation. And you, our brother, should not write us on account of the jews again,” for they had “alienated the Russians from [G24] Christianity, brought poisonous plants into our lands and done much evil to our lands.”

“When Jews manage to find out about the impending Imperial Manifest about recruit enrollment before it is officially published … all members of Jewish families fit for military service flee from their homes in all directions….” (p. 44)

A contemporary Jewish progressive wrote, that ‘Jews, as a nation, do not exist’, that they ‘consider themselves Russians of the Mosaic faith…’‘Jews recognize that their salvation lies in the merging with the Russian people’.” (p. 59)

We just read in the old Jewish Encyclopedia: in Balta one Jew was killed, and wounded – several. But in the new Jewish Encyclopedia, after a century from the events, we read: in Balta “soldiers joined the pogromists…Several Jews were killed, hundreds wounded, many women were raped.” (p. 79)

“…the Jews did not forgive the Russian Government for these pogroms – and never have since. And although the pogroms originated mainly with the Ukrainian population, the Russians have not been forgiven and the pogroms have always been tied with the name of Russia (p. 89)

“…there arose the alarming connection that together with the increase of Jews among the students, the participation of students in the revolutionary movement noticeably increased” (p. 92)

“Myself, having worked for many years on the “February” press and memoirs…could not fail to notice…in those materials, from the most varied witnesses and participants of those events, there are so many Jewish names, and the Jewish theme is very loud and persistent” (p. 105)

“Soon after the March Revolution of 1917, everywhere in Petrograd you could see groups of Jews, standing on benches, soap boxes and such, making speeches…. There had been restrictions on the rights of Jews to live in Petrograd, but after the Revolution they came in droves, and the majority of agitators were Jews … they were apostate Jews” (p. 105)

 

The February Revolution was carried out by Russian hands and Russian foolishness. Yet at the same time, its ideology was permeated and dominated by the intransigent hostility to the historical Russian state that ordinary Russians didn’t have, but the Jews — had.(p. 107)

This mass departure of Jews from agriculture in the 1920’s and 30’s resembles similar Jewish withdrawal from agricultural colonies in the 19th century, albeit now there were many new occupations available in industry (and in administration, a prohibited field for Jews in Tsarist Russia) (222)

 

By far, the largest figure of Soviet cinematography was Sergei Eisenstein….The worldwide fame of Battleship Potemkin was a battering ram for the purposes of the Soviets and in its irresponsibly falsified history encouraged the Soviet public to further curse Tsarist Russia. Made-up events, such as the “massacre on Odessa Steps” scene and the scene where a crowd of rebellious seamen is covered with tarpaulin for execution, entered the world’s consciousness as if they were facts. First it was necessary to serve Stalin’s totalitarian plans and then his nationalistic idea. Eisenstein was there to help (233)

 

Molotov delivered the main report on this topic and among the debaters were the murderers of the peasantry — Schlikhter and Yakovlev-Epstein (250)

The spirit of the decree was itself an example of nationalist hatred: It was the history and language of the Great Russians that was no longer needed. During the 20’s the very understanding of Russian history was changed — there was none! And the understanding of what a Great Russian is changed — there was no such thing. (238).

  1. Bloom in Moscow Evening could brazenly demand the removal of “history’s garbage from *city+ squares”: to remove Minin-Pozharsky monument from the Red Square, to remove the monument to Russia’s thousand-year anniversary in Novgorod and a statue of St. Vladimir on the hill in Kiev. “Those tons of metal are needed for raw material.”(238)

 

And from the astonishing disclosure in 1990 we learned that the famous mobile gas chambers were invented, as it turns out, not by Hitler during the World War II, but in the Soviet NKVD in 1937 by Isai Davidovich Berg, the head of the administrative and maintenance section of the NKVD of Moscow Oblast (sure, he was not alone in that enterprise, but he organized the whole business). This is why it is also important to know who occupied middle-level posts. It turns out, that I.D. Berg was entrusted with carrying out the sentences of the “troika” of the NKVD of Moscow Oblast; he dutifully performed his mission, which involved shuttling prisoners to the execution place. But when three “troikas” began to work simultaneously in the Moscow Oblast, the executioners became unable to cope with the sheer number of executions. Then they invented a time-saving method: the victims were stripped naked, tied, mouths plugged, and thrown into a closed truck, outwardly disguised as a bread truck. On the road the exhaust fumes were redirected into the prisoner-carrying compartment, and by the time the van arrived to the burial ditch, the prisoners were “ready.” (Well, Berg himself was shot in 1939, not for those evil deeds, of course, but for “the anti-Soviet conspiracy”. In 1956 he was rehabilitated without any problem, though the story of his murderous invention was kept preserved and protected in the records of his case and only recently discovered by journalists) (264)

So, even the purest and most immaculate Russian patriotism has no right to exist – not now, not ever?

Why is it so? And why it is that Russian patriotism is thus singled out?  (274)

Jews were unjustly accused of evasion of military service and in particular, of evasion of front line service.”65 “It was often said about Jews that instead of fighting, they stormed the cities of Alma-Ata and Tashkent.”66 Here is a testimony of a Polish Jew who fought in the Red Army: “In the army, young and old had been trying to convince me that … there was not a single Jew on the front . `We’ve got to fight for them.´ I was told in a `friendly´ manner: `You’re crazy. All your people are safely sitting at home. How come you are here on the front?´”67 I. Arad writes: “Expressions such as `we are at the front, and the Jews are in Tashkent´, `one never sees a Jew at the front line´could be heard among soldiers and civilians alike. (311)

 

Jewish family camps originated among the Jewish masses fleeing into the woods and there “were many thousands of such fugitives.” Purely Jewish armed squads were formed specifically for the protection of these camps. (Weapons were purchased through third parties from German soldiers or policemen.) Yet how to feed them all? The only way was to take food as well as shoes and clothing, both male and female, by force from the peasants of surrounding villages. “The peasant was placed between the hammer and the anvil. If he did not carry out his assigned production minimum, the Germans burned his household and killed him as a `partisan´. On the other hand, guerrillas took from him by force all they needed”159 – and this naturally caused spite among the peasants: they are robbed by Germans and robbed by guerrillas – and now in addition even the Jews rob them? And the Jews even take away clothes from their women? (p. 324)

 

“Zionism is the instrument of the American imperialism.” So the “Jews had to prove their loyalty in one way or other, to somehow convince the people around them that they had no connection to their own Jewishness, especially to Zionism.” (360)

 

Yet why should not the Jewish question exist — the question of the unprecedented threethousand-year-old existence of the nation, scattered all over the Earth, yet spiritulally soldered together despite all notions of the state and territoriality, and at the same time influencing the entire world history in the most lively and powerful way? Why should there not be a “Jewish question” given that all national questions come up at one time or other, even the “Gagauz question” *a small Christian Turkic people, who live in the Balkans and Eastern Europe]? (369)

 

The same was true for Russia too. In pre-revolutionary Russian society, as we saw, it was the omission of the Jewish question that was considered “anti-Semitic.” In fact, in the mind of the Russian public the Jewish question — understood as the question of civil rights or civil equality — developed into perhaps the central question of the whole Russian public life of that period, and certainly into the central node of the conscience of every individual, its acid test.” (369)

 

So when exactly did it happen that the Jews, once such a reliable backbone of the regime, turned into almost its greatest adversary? (371)

 

Here’s Dan Levin, an American intellectual who immigrated to Israel: “It is no accident, that none of the American writers who attempted to describe and explain what happened to Soviet Jewry, has touched this important issue — the [Jewish] responsibility for the communism…. In Russia, the people’s anti-Semitism is largely due to the fact that the Russians perceive the Jews as the cause of all the evil of the revolution. Yet American writers — Jews and ex-Communists … do not want to resurrect the ghosts of the past. However, oblivion is a terrible thing. (374)

 

But today, when it is clear how many Jews were in the iron Bolshevik leadership, and how many more took part in the ideological guidance of a great country to the wrong track — should the question not arise [among modern Jews] as to some sense of responsibility for the actions of those *Jews+? It should be asked in general: shouldn’t there be a kind of moral responsibility — not a joint liability, yet the responsibility to remember and to acknowledge? For example, modern Germans accept liability to Jews directly, both morally and materially, as perpetrators are liable to the victims: for many years they have paid compensation to Israel and personal compensation to surviving victims. (375)

 

They have forgotten it. They have sincerely and completely forgotten it. Indeed, it is so difficult to remember bad things about yourself. (379)

Of course, as is always true for both individuals and nations, it is unreasonable to expect words of remorse from Jews regarding their past involvement. But I absolutely could not expect that the Jews, while deserting Bolshevism, rather than expressing even a sign of repentance or at least some embarrassment, instead angrily turned on the Russian people: it is the Russians who had ruined democracy in Russia (i.e., in February 1917), it is the Russians who are guilty of support of this regime from 1918 on. (382)

 

Let us note that any insulting judgment about the “Russian soul” in general or about the “Russian character” generally does not give rise to the slightest protest or doubt among civilized people. The question “of daring to judge nations as one uniform and faceless whole” does not arise. If someone does not like all things Russian or feels contempt for them, or even expresses in progressive circles the belief that “Russia is a cesspool,” this is no sin in Russia and it does not appear reactionary or backward. And no one immediately appeals to presidents, prime ministers, senators, or members of Congress with a reverent cry, “What do you think of such incitement of ethnic hatred?” We’ve said worse of ourselves since the 19th century and right up to the revolution. We have a rich tradition of this.) (385)

Book Review: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Book Review: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations is—far and away—the most difficult book I’ve read.  The writing is dense and the ideas are complex. The book is a behemoth…a paragon in the Libraries of History.

Smith is a legendary thinker. He covers a wide array of topics, from the Chinese economy to the barter system of Ancient Peru. During the process, we realize that we’re in the presence of a GREAT MAN. He’s an economist, a historian, a philosopher…in short, he’s the Age of Enlightenment personified.

Here’s what I took away from the book:

Agriculture is a Vital Part of a Country’s Economy

Smith believed in agriculture. He points out that a country must—first and foremost—be able to feed itself. It needs to produce bread, rice, etc. And when a country cannot feed itself, it’s an economic liability.

The examples are numerous—just look at the Irish Potato famine. Once they lost the ability to feed themselves, a tragedy ensued. Another example can be seen in modern-day Venezuela, which did away with much of its agriculture. When a financial crisis occurred, the people were lacking in basic food commodities. Just look at how many supermarkets were raided in downtown Caracas.

Paper Money Should Be Connected to a Precious Money

According to Smith, paper money needs to be tied to a precious metal: gold, silver, etc. This prevents the country from printing paper money at will, which leads to inflation. Smith provides numerous examples, going as far back as the Roman Empire’s use of bronze as a way to stabilize its currency.

Needless to say, the United States is currently in this dilemma. Since it left the gold standard, the inflation has slowly been rising. This accounts for the fact that a dinner that once was worth five cents (such as in 1920) is now worth fifteen dollars. If the situation spirals out of control—such as in Venezuela—then the paper money can become pointless. Note how in Caracas, you need a backpack full of money to buy a lunch.

Every Armed Conflict Has an Economic Story

The Wealth of Nations was written in 1776…the year of American independence. Smith goes into great detail about the war. He points to the economic underpinnings of the battle, explaining an angle that’s rarely talked about. Through this lens, the American War of Independence was more than a fight for sovereignty—it’s was an economic battle.

How many wars are fought over money? What’s the real story behind any armed conflict? What about the Syrian battle? The Iraqi invasion? Money plays a huge role in these conflicts. Smith reminds us about the “unspoken cause of war” the conflict that’s always at play—the battle between a creditor and a debtor.

Conclusion

I highly recommend The Wealth of Nations. Regardless of your major, you should read this book. It will bring you up to speed with “the best in what’s been thought and said.” Adam Smith should be on the bookshelf of any self-respecting bibliophile.

Book Review: A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade by Vincent K. Hubbard

Book Review: A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade by Vincent K. Hubbard

The Caribbean has a fascinating history. The glorious events are discussed in A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade by Vincent K. Hubbard. The book is wonderfully comprehensive, starting in the Pre-Colombian era (i.e. before the Spanish arrival) and finishing in the 1990s. Hubbard takes the reader to Indian Wars, sugar plantations, and WW2 battlefronts. It’s a real page turner.

Here’s the rundown from Major Styles…

The Indians of the Caribbean Were a Warlike People

I wrote about Pre-Colombian violence in a recent post. Despite what history teachers have taught us, the Native Americans were not all peaceful. The Caribs were a prime example. They were the dominant tribe when the Spanish arrived (thus the term “Caribbean”). They rose to the top with the Ultra-Violence (to quote Alex the Droog). For them, New Years in Cologne was the work of amateurs.

“…the Caribs had attacked and killed all the Arawak males and taken their women as slaves…During wars there is good evidence that parts of the enemies’ bodies were eaten, the theory being that consuming these parts would impart the courage of the vanquished to the victors,” (p. 11).

So the Caribs committed genocide against the Arawak, ate their bodies, and turned their wives and daughters into sex slaves. Nice…what a group of guys.

Carib
The Caribs engaged in genocide, cannibalism, bridal theft, and rape. Keep moving people…nothing to see here.

I guarantee that you won’t hear that story in your American History class.

As I’ve told you before, America is controlled by Cultural Marxism – the theory of oppressor/oppressed. Historically speaking, this means that every event must have the same conclusion: evil Europeans destroyed the noble, indigenous tribes.  Subsequently, because of Cultural Marxism, your children will never be taught an accurate history in a public school.

St. Kitts Was the Most Valuable Spot on Earth…and it Was All Because of Sugar

We forget the power of sugar; there was a time it was the most valuable product on earth. And little St. Kitts – with a unique soil and climate – was able to produce a high-quantity of sugar. So the battle was on…the country that had St. Kitts would rule the world. And that country was England.

sugar pla
A sugar plantation in St. Kitts from the 1700s. The tiny island was making more money than all of England.

A West Indian sugar planter was rich. No, scratch that…filthy rich:

“At a time when a person in England with an income of 100 a year was considered well off, some of the richest West Indian planters had incomes of thousands of pounds per annum…There was a saying in seventeenth-century England that a wealthy person was ‘As rich as a West Indian Planer’.”

At one point, tiny St. Kitts was generating more cash than all of England. Needless to say, the profits were boosted by slave labor. That’s a story in and of itself (and a brutal one, no doubt).

The Modern World Was Shaped by Geopolitical Treaties

Many of the nations that we currently know were formed via precarious treaties. An example of this was The Treaty of Breda, signed between the warring factions in the Leeward Islands: England, France, the Netherlands and Denmark. What caught my attention was a detail in the treaty, where the future territories were divided:

“In order to regain their half of St. Kitts, the English gave the French all of Nova Scotia in Canada. The Dutch had the choice of keeping either Surinam or New York. They selected Suriname,” (p.50).

What if New York City became a Dutch colony? Would there be a Manhattan? It’s a question worth asking. Clearly, Suriname was never able to achieve economic greatness. And the same can be said for the Dutch nations of Aruba and St. Martin.

manhattan
The Dutch chose Suriname over Manhattan (The Treaty of Bereda). What would have happened if they chose Manhattan instead? Would this have ever existed?

History often hinges in a single event. And millions of people can be affected by the signing of a pen or the casting of a vote.

Summary

I highly recommend A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade. Moreover, I encourage people to read more on the history of the Caribbean. It’s a unique place with a history that’s intriguing and, most importantly, rarely told.

What the Hell Does “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” Mean?

What the Hell Does “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” Mean?

(((Literary critics))) have applauded the poem “Anybody Lived in a Pretty How Town” by E.E. Cummings. The poem is included in most literary anthologies, spreading confusion from Los Angeles to New York. But what does it mean? And what is a “how” town anyway? For years, I tried to make sense of the poem but was unable to; like so many students (as well as teachers), I was clueless about the meaning.

So today, let’s see if we can make up an E.E. Cumming’s poem. I have three to get the ball rolling…

  • Anybody Lived in a Pretty What Village
  • Anybody Lived in a Pretty Where City
  • Anybody Lived in a Pretty When Ghetto

You get the picture…my titles make no sense. And neither does the Cumming’s one. So why is it applauded then?

To understand the Cumming’s poem (and its modern approach) we need to review the history of 19th-century Europe; i.e. to understand an event, you need the study history that proceeded it. So when we review 19th-century European history, we find the ongoing struggle between a Christian majority and a Jewish minority. No book highlights the struggle better than Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together. The cultural battles of the 19th-century bled into the 20th, and that’s when modernism begins.

What is modernism? Simply put, it’s a Jewish attempt to subvert European culture. The point is obvious when you review the originators of modern art. The Jewish goal was to replace the art of European history (pieces that depicted real-life heroes) with ambiguous structures: i.e. a German soldier on a horse was replaced with a shapeless blob. By doing so, Jews could erase the physical reminders of Christian heroes from Europe. Once these images were scrubbed clean, the Christian majority would become more accepting of a Jewish minority; and in turn, more accepting of its transgressions.

So what does “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” mean? Nothing…and that’s the point.

You’re supposed to be confused. You’re supposed to be lost. You’re supposed to be misdirected. It’s an educational red herring, designed to distract you from the history of Christian civilization.

Note that Cummings himself was not Jewish, That being said, he imbibed the cultural sentiments of his time. And in order to become popular, he had to embrace modernism. We can see a similar correlation in America today. If you want to be popular, you have to take a shit on Christian values: i.e. Madonna, Lady Gaga, etc.

What is the purpose of poetry? It should lift you to lofty heights. It’s a wave of pleasure, rolling over your body. It’s the magical power of emotion, brought to life. Poetry is the flower unfolding, the blossom blooming: the beauty of life made available to the world.

Poetry is not E.E. Cummings.

See Related Article: Poetry Review: A Critique on “August 1968” by W.H. Auden

 

Book Review: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Book Review: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell’s book, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy is just what the name implies—a beginner’s guide to economic theory. I found the book to be excellent. I should’ve read it years ago, since it would have peaked my interest in money matters a bit more.

Several quotes stood out:

Speculation is Superior to Gambling

Speculation is often misunderstood as being the same as gambling, when in fact it is the opposite of gambling.  What gambling involves, whether in games of chance or in actions like playing Russian roulette, is creating risk that would otherwise not exist, in order either to profit or to exhibit one’s skill or lack of fear.  What economic speculation involves is coping with an inherent risk in such a way as to minimize it and to leave it to be borne by whoever is best equipped to bear it.

Gambling is like marrying a woman that you’ve known for three months (something the Major has done). Essentially, you’re creating a risk. You’re making a commitment to somebody that’s a virtual stranger. You don’t have the all the information yet; in my case, I found out that my wife was an alcoholic.

We gamble out of stupidity; but also, it’s a “lack of fear” as Sowell points out. We test the natural laws of the universe, believing that our intuition is superior. Occasionally, we get lucky and win. But most of the time we lose.

Conversely, speculation is like marrying a woman that you’ve known for three years. You minimize a risk (AKA, speculate).  Her negative traits have already come to light, but you feel that you can manage them. You’ve seen the worst in her and feel that you can overcome the risk.

Smart people are speculators. They understand that risk is inherent in life, but they learn to manage it. Their good luck appears accidental to those around them: the product of a lucky break or even nepotism. But in reality, they calculated their decisions better. They like to skydive, but they also like parachutes.

The Federal Reserve Has Created More Problems than it Solved

The Federal Reserve system was established in 1914 as a result of fears of such economic consequences as deflation and bank failures.  Yet, the worst bank failures in the country’s history occurred after the Federal Reserve was established (p. 24)

Sowell brings up something that few Americans even question anymore—whether or not the Federal Reserve is a good thing. He believes that it was a bad thing. It’s interesting to note the creation of the Federal Reserve: 1914. This was, of course, at the start of World War 1. Obviously, there were concerns about political stability at the time.

Fifteen years later (1929), the stock market crashed and we had the Great Depression. The Federal Reserve was unable to stop the problem they said they would solve. We’ve had several economic downturns ever since: take 2008, for example, when the housing market collapsed.

It’s a powerful lesson—a time of crisis can lead to bad decision-making. And this bad decision can then become a way of life.

When You Help Someone Economically, You Often Hurt Another Person

Nothing is easier for the media or for politicians than to present “human interest” stories about someone whose family has been farming for generations and who has now been forced out of the kind of life they knew and loved by the impersonal economic forces of the marketplace.  What is forgotten is that these impersonal forces represent benefits to consumers who are just as much persons as the producers who have been arbitrarily selected as the focus of the discussion.  The temptation is always there to try to solve the problem of those whose plight has been singled out for attention, without regard for the effects elsewhere. (p. 27)

That’s the crux of charity: the natural Christian tendency to “help thy neighbor.” Sowell points out how the media will manipulate this altruistic desire, promoting a hard-luck story that’s designed to shift the government coffers in a different direction.

The appeal to pathos is ubiquitous. We saw it before the Affordable Care Act was passed (countless stories about a poor person who  could not afford medical care). Of course, moving money into someone’s pocket is often done by removing it from somebody else’s. This proved to be true with the ACA. The money that was used for people without health insurance was taken from another source – those who actually had insurance. This resulted in higher rates for those who were already covered.

Somebody always has to pay: the question is who.

Summary

Basic Economics is an excellent read. I think should be taught on the high school level; moreover, it would make a good read for Economics 101 courses at the college level. It explains the essential concepts with plain language, simple analogies, and logical organization.

I highly recommend the book.

See Related Article: Adam Smith on the Economic Differences Between Europe and Pre-Colombian America

Book Review: Tai-Pan by James Clavell

Book Review: Tai-Pan by James Clavell

A friend of mine used to say, “New books are better than old ones.” After reading by Tai-Pan by James Clavell, I have to agree. It’s bold, funny, raucous…everything a novel should be. I give it five stars.

The story takes place in China during the 1700’s. We follow Dirk Straun, the English sailor. He’s become a wealthy man by trading opium with the Chinese. Simultaneously, he takes an Asian wife and starts a company called The Noble House. He lives in Hong Kong, a new city in the British Empire (we all know how that turns out, of course).

Dirk is the “Tai-Pan” – it means supreme leader in Chinese. The locals respect and fear him. He rules with an iron hand, learning how to do business in the local way: saving face, calling bluffs, and fighting when need be.

Enter Culum, the son he left behind in England. The book segues into a great father/son tale at that point. Dirk…the man who went to China to make a fortune, yet left a boy in England behind. And Culum…the son who comes looking for a father: hoping to learn from him yet full of resentment. It’s a universal conflict.

I love the story for many reasons, but perhaps most is this…

Deep inside of every man, there lives a Dirk Straun—a man that longs for a life of adventure.

So many of us lead mundane lives, trapped inside a cubicle farm in corporate America. The break room, the bathroom, the freeway…boring. Thankfully, with the help of James Clavell, we can be transported to another place and time. A world of sailors and sword fighting.

I highly recommend this novel—it belongs on the bibliophile’s bookshelf.