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24 June 2015


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William R. Cumming

Fred! Sorry but we don't pay our own bills.

William R. Cumming

Correction: Oldest existing democracy?

William R. Cumming

Thanks for reminding me that the USA should write the Greeks a large check for past performance. And the Germans should pay Greece war reparations.

William R. Cumming

Christianity but no REFORMATION?

William R. Cumming

My parents and a number of ancestors and relatives buried at LAKEWOOD CEMETERY bordering the lake.

William R. Cumming

I note that in the recent Charlie Rose interview of PUTIN the latter announced publicly that in his opinion the Ukraine and Russia were one country.



Long pig! Yum! Come on! Just because you don't like their folkways doesn't mean they don't exist. As I recall the Maori fought several wars against the Anglo invaders before they became the troops in the New Zealand Army that the Germans feared the most. DOL pl



Ethno-geographic culture is not the same as a "national narrative." Southerners; Black, White and Whatever grieve for the nine martyred church people. It is part of the Southern Culture to have that kind of familial feeling. This collective set of feelings has nothing to do with Southerners becoming more like Northerners, nothing whatever. I have said many times that the South owes the North a debt of gratitude for liberation from the history of past race relations. That liberation has allowed the beauty of Southern Culture to flower. That debt is all that the South owes the North. Oh, I forgot, "the love so strong it could not let us go" as Jubal Early called the motive of the North in invading and very nearly destroying the South. I suppose that should be viewed with gratitude. (That was an ironic joke, LeAnder) Walker Percy in "The Thanatos Syndrome" wrote that part of Southern Culture lies in not talking about it. I regret having been forced to do so. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Why do you like Reformation?

It was a disaster, in my view, both short-term and long-term.

Its theoreticians were an anti-semiotic monk in Germany and an Enemy of Humanity in Geneva.

And them million died - and for what?

So that German Princes could dissolve the Holy Roman Empire, Gustav Adolphus try to expand the power of Sweden, and Richelieu waiting in the wings to pounce on this or that juicy morsel?

If the Catholic Church had acted on the criticisms voiced by Dante and his contemporaries, there would have been no Reformation.

David Habakkuk


'I note that in the recent Charlie Rose interview of PUTIN the latter announced publicly that in his opinion the Ukraine and Russia were one country.'

What is the reference for that? I have not had time to view the complete interview, but no such statement appears in the account on the PBS website, or the CBS report of the interview.

The latter's summary suggests that Putin simply repeated the familiar official position of the Russian government, which been consistently opposed to the 'separatist' objective of securing independence from Ukraine. An extract:

'Putin told summit moderator and "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose the world is demanding Russia "influence the situation, but that is not enough."

'The Russian leader said the U.S., Kiev and Europe must "work together" to implement the Minsk Protocol, which he repeatedly accused the central Ukrainian government of violating.

'He said Ukraine's government had agreed in Minsk to grant the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk greater autonomy and new elections, and then implemented laws effectively blocking those measures.'

(See http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/charlie-rose-vladimir-putin-sees-world/ http://www.cbsnews.com/news/putin-charlie-rose-us-meddling-ukraine-rebels-russian-troops-weapons/ .)

cville reader

As a relatively recent transplant from the North to Virginia, I have read your posts about the South with a great deal of interest.

It was very much to my surprise that I found myself considered a Yankee when I moved here. As a Catholic from primarily Irish and German stock and born in a Mid-Atlantic state, I can assure you, that my family never identified itself as such. And, as far as I know, none of my ancestors had any connection to the Civil War.

It is definitely true that the South, at least the parts outside of major metropolitan areas, have a unique sense of place and community. That is a good thing.

Since moving here, I have encounted anti-Yankee sentiments, AND anti-Catholic sentiments. I can truly say that I have seen far less overt hostility to black people, and when I have seen it, it has come from people who are generally considered to be odd.

But not all Northern transplants are the Southerner's enemy, either. Too much love of heritage and place can lead to a harmful insularity.

William R. Cumming

DH! I saw it and heard it but perhaps edited out. Fairly early in the interview. First 20 minutes.



How was the land "theirs", in that case? How does historical relativism advance anything then your own sense of moral preening?

To answer your second question, because emotion based rhetoric is best answered with the same kind of rhetoric blended with dialectic, but its not so much for your erudition (as I have no doubt that nothing I am going to say is going to change your mind) as for people who are reading the argument. Strong words make some people search for a place to faint. So be it.

Why must you post in a smug, condescending tone? It does nothing to advance your arguments and you have proven time and time again it is certainly not beneath you.






I'm still waiting for the Italians to pay me mine, being the descendant of Spartacus that I am.....I wonder if I can get a "Freedom fee" too since I'm descended from those Union Army guys who saved the Republic and freed the salves and all that? Should we go one with the silliness?



In the theme of "HISTORICAL MEMORY OF A NATION" how about this version:
The powerlessness of slavery was only alleviated by a savior figure (Lincoln), liberal white northerners and savage war, followed by a century of powerlessness only alleviated by a savior figure (LBJ/MLK), liberal white northerners, followed by? Well, by that narrative African Americans are really powerless unless the federal government, led by a liberal, steps in; and if you are white but not a liberal, well....


I am pleased to see you can include exceptions to your "Diocletian Rule". ;) But is the Muslim World. But I guess nothing could ever get you to loosen the grip on the cultural split beyond the Turko-Persian sphere as far as Sunnis are concerned? :-)

"I do not think that the Slavic people of the Soviet Union were quite as alien as say the Muslim World had been (and is still so) to the Western people."

Maybe since they had a completely different history as far as "the West" is concerned? If we leave out other worthy remnants of to be integrated into a complete cultural memory?



And the Romans, why fathers could sell their own children into slavery and one of the Emperors forbade freeing more than 500 slaves a year. Shame on them for not being like us! I won't even mention the Pharaohs. Why if only people had had Twitter back then. All it would have taken was a #bringbackmygirls, oops wrong liberation tweet, but you get the drift.

Charles Dekle

Darn it, I meant Tito not Toto. I hate spell check.


"Its theoreticians were an anti-semiotic monk in Germany and an Enemy of Humanity in Geneva."

Apart from the fact that I love anti-semiotic, can we look at it via a slightly wider historical lens?

Do you have evidence that Luther is an exception rather then "a child" of his times as far as "anti-semiotics" are concerned? To what extent would you or possibly could be invited to consider "his antisemitic turn" as result of 15th century political dynamics?

Mind you, his anti-semiotics, once I discovered them quite early kept me in the Catholic church, but nevertheless I found much of his revolt quite fascinating and necessary, and much later was very fascinated by his use of rhetorics at Worms.


Col. Lang -

Could be, wouldn't be the first time. But I still don't understand how areas of the country with different "toolboxes" will react. Or maybe that explains a lot of modern day politics, with political positions merely stalking horses for emotional urges.

In my lifetime I've seen a lot of the homogenization of the US by mass media, but regional differences are still there.

Babak Makkinejad

The simplification of the German orthography, undertaken by NAZIs, was not discarded after the destruction of the Third Reich.

Is it also not a remnant of the past?

David Habakkuk


Apologies for writing another over-long comment, but your response prompted some further thoughts on the relationship between the attitudes of contemporary American elites to the South, and their views of the world beyond the borders of the United States.

Something which I find difficult to understand is the way in which a propensity to see the world in terms of 'good guys' versus 'bad guys' has taken over elites both in your country and mine.

The problem is not simply that, in general, this is a false picture of the world – it is also that the approaches to which it leads commonly, in the long run, do not make much sense, even in terms of the narrow self-interests of those who champion them. (Note – the critical phrase here is 'in the long run'.)

Certainly, the 'good guys' can aspire to crush those they see as the 'bad guys' by physical force, information warfare, etc etc. I don't say these methods can't work. However, an odd lesson of the Soviet experiment is that Orwell's pessimistic vision turned out – in the long run – to be in fundamental respects plain wrong.

It became clear after the Soviet system collapsed that a 'totalitarian' approach had not been very effective in reshaping 'collective memory'. Old identities, it emerged, were actually alive and well – not simply among those who had all along opposed the revolution, but among its offspring.

The fact that Putin, who apparently is the grandson of a man who cooked for Lenin and Stalin, and whose father certainly served in an NKVD sabotage squad in the siege of Leningrad, as it then was, quite patently identifies with the 'white' tradition is only the most conspicuous of many cases in point.

Another experience which inclines me to think that coercion can be a counter-productive way of trying to change 'collective memory' is the war-guilt clause in the Treaty of Versailles. Many people here came to think this had been a mistake, including Sir Edward Grey, who was unrepentant about his – crucial – role in taking Britain into the war.

Putting his argument in terms of the current discussion, it was that, if we wanted to take reparations, we should taken them as spoils of war. To justify doing so by the 'war guilt' clause, in essence coercing Germans into spitting on their own 'collective memory', inevitably had the effect of making it more, rather than less, difficult, for them to think soberly about the extent to which they had brought ruin on themselves.

A rethinking of the German role in bringing about the catastrophe of 1914-18 did happen, but – in large measure – this was only after a second disastrous war had been followed by a peace in which West Germany, at least, was not treated in the punitive manner favoured by the victors in the earlier war.

Without wanting to suggest any close analogies, it seems to me that what I have no doubt is a genuine conviction on the part of many 'progressives' in the United States that Dylann Roof is somehow a natural and inevitable product of 'Confederate' culture, and that the appropriate response is to extirpate this, is causing deep resentment and anger.

It would not seem to me very likely that this is going to be very helpful, in relation to the development of race relations in the U.S., and also other matters.

And that brings me, by a circuitous route, to the remarks of Samantha Power to which 'walrus' linked. If these were not so dangerous, and so detrimental to the interests of the United States and the West, I would find them wildly funny.

Perhaps the most sheerly hilarious aspect is the way in which, in making an argument which swallows the Ukrainian nationalist 'collective memory' whole, she quotes a figure whom she – quite accurately – describes as 'Kyiv's native son': Mikhail Bulgakov. It is rather as though she were to give a speech calling for the outlawing of the 'stars and bars' – quoting William Faulkner.

I am not a Russianist, and have no claims to expertise in that country's language or history, but very many years ago, as a teenager, I chanced upon a radio broadcast of a play Bulgakov wrote about the Russian civil war entitled 'Flight', which left an enduring impression and caused me, later, to read other works of his.

One might have thought that someone in the State Department, before Samantha Power opened her big mouth and put both feet in it, might have had sufficient knowledge of Ukrainian and Russian culture to warn her – perhaps even to get her to spend an hour reading Bulgakov's classic play 'The Days of the Turbins'.

It is the record of his family's experiences in Kiev in the civil wars which followed the First World War – conflicts which make the American Civil War look like a haven of simplicity, sanity, and civility. (There are parallels with the civil wars in Mexico at around the same time.)

What Bulgakov provides is a graphic picture of what it was like to live in the city in the extraordinary period in which it was controlled, in succession, by the Ukrainian nationalists, the Bolsheviks, the Germans, the Ukrainian nationalists, the Whites, the Poles, and finally the Bolsheviks again. Had Samantha Power bothered to read it, she might perhaps have begun to acquire some understanding of why 'collective memory' in Ukraine is so riddled with confusion and contradictions.

The ultimate irony, however, is that Bulgakov really was a 'white guardist' – contemptuous alike of the Bolsheviks and the Ukrainian nationalists. Could his ghost have seen the remains of the 'white' commander Anton Denikin brought back to Moscow, and the grandson of a man who cooked for Lenin and Stalin lay flowers on his grave, I suspect he would have collapsed in laughter, and called for a bottle of first-class champagne.

As to what he would have thought of Samantha Power, his novel of the Stalinist terror – 'The Master and Margarita' – is crammed full of precisely this kind of sanctimonious time-serving propagandists of a bogus ideological dogma in which they see it as being in their interests to profess to believe.

Time again it turns out that those who are determined to persuade others – and themselves – that they are irreproachable models of virtue are actually the real 'bad guys' (or 'bad girls', as Samantha Power quite patently is.)

But that brings one on to another point. We are none of us simply 'good guys'. There is doubtless much in the past of the American South – as in that of the British Empire – which deserves to be repudiated. But, in neither case, is that the whole story. As Bulgakov would have understood, there are no good grounds simply to accept that things we have loved are purely evil.

What Bulgakov however would also have understood is that there is no point in becoming bitter. Sometimes, what is good is simply eradicated and dies. But if those who have loved it fight for what was good – without bitterness, and, preferably, with humour – sometimes it may come back. And having said that, I will drink a – small – glass of vodka to Bulgakov's memory.


Ok, I do need help here:

"The Banned by Barrack anti-flag movement has managed to allow corporate and liberal interests to again collectively win politically over a region of the United States (The South). "

What is happening?

"The Trans-pacific Partnership fast-track power voted down a week ago was just passed in the House and Senate, all before the dead have been buried. We should be recognizing we're burying the American dream for another million or so citizens with this electoral 'victory' but that won't be apparent for a few more years."

I never looked closer into it, but can understand that the core objection is the secrecy around the deal and the fact that if I may put it into exteme language, that it may not be about "American dreamers" but about powerful corporations that may, to the extend I read fears, may get a free ride including their own courts in the context. In other words no space for either European or American dreamers, at least that is the suspicion.

"We haven't escaped from the successful (unlike the Bolshevik) experiment of increased power of the Executive branch, far from it. Sadly the liberals are cheering it on"

Explain, how that would fit into the second paragraph.

Mind you, I appreciated the first, but isn't that what victors do historically? And Wolfowitz, whose suggestion to pay for the war with Iraq oil once it became apparent it might be more expensive then planned, is only outrageous since it deviates from the pattern? Meaning business as usual? Apart from the fact, that it would degrade American soldiers to the status of mercenaries to a much more visible extend then usual in this context?


Ok, I doubt I put it well enough in the last paragraph, maybe even before. But the last one sticks.

I had the meme of bringing freedomm to the Iraqi people in mind, and the PR event to make that visible, the tearing down of the Saddam statue. Back to symbols and heritage.

Now if you suggest a people should pay with oil for your bringing freedom, doesn't that turn your soldiers into mercenaries?

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