Thomas Piketty

Secession lagniappe

From Office of Hawaiian Affairs Kamana’opono Crabbe’s remarks at a press conference on Monday:

A second reason for my questions to Secretary Kerry stems from our Hawaiian community. My staff and I have held some 30 community meetings in the past two months regarding our proposed process to rebuild our nation. In that same period we also held two governance summits with key community leaders. At these gatherings, and in other virtual contexts, we heard repeatedly concerns about engaging in a process of rebuilding a nation when-following the research of many legal, historical, and political experts-our nation continues to exist in the context of international law.

Such concerns have led our community to request more time in the nation rebuilding process to have questions– such as I raised with Secretary Kerry– fully explored and shared with our people so that they can make well-informed decisions throughout the process.

The Hawaiian community needed to know that I was inquiring about the very matters they sought to bring forward. And this is the reason I felt it was imperative not only that I ask the questions but that the community be aware of the inquiry.

However, recognizing the gravity of the questions posed, I met with Chair Machado before making the letter public. I explained that my questions were a matter of due diligence and risk management to avoid OHA missteps in its nation rebuilding facilitation. I believed I had her consent to proceed with sharing publicly my letter to Secretary Kerry. Unfortunately, it is now apparent that we walked away from that meeting with a misunderstanding and misinformation.

Despite disagreements that will need to be worked out between myself and OHA’s trustees, I am certain that the Board and I stand firmly together in our commitment to do all that we appropriately can to reestablish a Hawaiian nation. I look forward to engaging with the trustees in the ho’oponopono, which Chair Machado graciously suggested, so that we can work collectively to Ho’oulu Uihui Aloha, to Rebuild a Beloved Nation.

We must succeed in our efforts for the good of our lahui, our community, and our families for generations to come.

Chairwoman Machado disputes that he consulted with her before sending the letter. The OHA trustees had a very interesting meeting on Thursday, with a big crowd supporting Crabbe. Related: The militarized Pacific.

From one of the translated letters of Tibetan prisoner Goshul Lobsang, written in prison, September 2012. He died on March 19:

I have no regrets, although all of a sudden, I may be compelled to separate from the path of life that [I have been treading along] with my beloved mother, siblings, wife and children. I may have to depart with [feelings] of cold, heavy sadness, but I have no sense of guilt in my heart.
My clear conscience is my only asset in this world. I don’t possess anything other than this, and I don’t need anything other than this.
[But] my only regret that weighs heavily on my heart is the lack of profound sense of solidarity among our people, because of which we are unable to achieve a strong unified stand.


In the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday, a letter to the editor written by a Republican name-checks Lincoln and asks:

The right-wing fanatics who would have the federal government hand over all public lands in Utah, Nevada, etc., remind me of the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. When would they like to hold the referendum on secession from the United States?

Chris Roth says the Cliven Bundy standoff is the harbinger of a new “silly season.” State legislators from a number of states are getting involved, including Matt Shea:

Four more county committees forming for the Jefferson statehood effort, one is working with Tea Party Patriots.


Nationalia looks at Yorkshire autonomy, the Bavarian Party’s attempt to get a representative in the European Parliament, and the Occitan Nation Party’s pro-stateless peoples (and pro-EU) message.

Ukrainian oligarch says no to secession.

Timothy Snyder and Leon Wieseltier are in Kiev this weekend.

Scottish Tory MEP says in an address supporting a Spanish unionist MEP that Scottish independence “would trigger a wave of secessionist movements across the EU.”

Israel clears up a rumor that they were going to transfer sovereignty of the tomb of David and the Cenacle to the Vatican.


Adam Gurri, “The Morality of Futility“:

 Our moral sphere should not be stretched beyond the scale appropriate for an individual human life. That does not mean that we are indifferent to suffering outside that scale, nor that there’s something wrong with giving to charity or volunteering. Telescopic as an adjective is meant more pejoratively than categorically; to reject telescopic morality is not to say that our concern for far matters should be reduced to zero, just as rejecting gluttony does not mean that we should stop eating entirely.

Nevertheless, I am very pessimistic about our ability to have a non-negligible impact on large scale and distant matters.

First Things on Quebec:

While generations of Québécois had felt estranged from a spiritually apostate France after the 1789 Revolution, this antirevolutionary ethos vanished during the 1960s. The French Revolution had begun when Louis XVI had convoked the Estates General. Shortly thereafter, the Third Estate, consisting of commoners, rose up and abolished the first two estates, representing the clergy and nobility, declaring itself l’Assemblée nationale, that is, the National Assembly.

In 1968, in an eerie echo of the events of nearly two centuries earlier, Québec similarly abolished the upper chamber of its provincial legislature, le Conseil legislatif, while the lower chamber, l’Assemblée legislative, changed its name to – you guessed it – l’Assemblée nationale! The French Revolution had finally caught up with La Belle Province. That same year saw the formation of the Parti québécois, which sought a wholly French-speaking nation separate from Canada.

David Harvey is extremely skeptical of Thomas Piketty’s Capital.

Trotskyite blames Indian communist parties for Modi’s election.

D.G. Hart on Ulster Presbyterians and protestant radicalism:

Political philosophers and historians have given lots of attention to Calvinism as an engine of modern liberal (read constitutional) politics. Whether it’s resistance theory, the Dutch rebellion, or the so-called Presbyterian revolution of the British colonies in North America, students of Calvinism believe they have a firm read on Reformed Protestant politics as an inherently rebellious outlook, one that won’t let any human authority encroach on the Lordship of Christ. (Why we didn’t celebrate 1861 along with 1776, 1689, and 1567 prior to getting right with race is a bit of an inconsistency.)

That sounds good in theory, and it certainly turns out Calvinist (New, Neo, or Denominational) in large numbers for Fox News. But it doesn’t make sense of history where context matters.

Justin Raimondo on the NSA:

The NSA’s “new collection posture,” as shown in the NSA documents reproduced in Greenwald’s book, is: “Sniff it all, know it all, collect it all, process it all, exploit it all, partner it all.” In short, they aim to abolish the concept of privacy – and if they are now targeting political “radicalizers,” as one of their documents puts it – not Al Qaeda, but American political dissidents – then our old republic is no more. The Constitution means nothing: the Bill of Rights is abolished, and we are living under a de facto “democratic” dictatorship. …

As it stands … anyone in America who has ever expressed a “radical” idea is now a potential target.

Nothing short of a revolution is going to reverse this monstrous reality. Whether it comes in a peaceful form – perhaps some combination of electoral and legislative action – in which the warlords of Washington are thrown out on their ears, or some other way is not for me to say. No one can know the future. What I do know, however, is this: one way or another, the monster must be slain.

Mark Meckler on the John Doe raids in Wisconsin:

… a partisan prosecutor launched “secret John Doe” investigations to terrify the entire conservative community and to remove them from the political conversation. Even though these Wisconsinites have been charged with nothing, they’ve been subjected to pre-dawn raids, warrants, subpoenas, and other harassment.

Of time bandits and the river

Joel Achenbach didn’t want to come back from his Iberian vacation:

Time used to be something we used to our advantage. … We revered our elders and put them at the zenith of our culture. The sun rose and the sun set, and the stars wheeled across the heavens at night in a clockwork universe. We could feel the seasons in our bones. We were masters of time. Then someone invented a sundial, and it’s been all downhill ever since.

Everyone I know is too busy and too rushed. If we ever do feel completely serene, centered and at peace with the world we know, that’s a harbinger of certain doom. It’s not simply that we have too much to do, it’s that we are expected to produce at an extraordinary pace. … Your “spare time” has become a slush fund for those who wish to extract from you ever more units of production.

He goes on to quote an older, rather luddite-ish column of his about the “paradox” of technology making us more productive. It’s the sort of complaint that Thomas Piketty dismisses as the “caprices of technology” in the new book Achenbach’s peers can’t stop raving about.

It’s a common misconception but in general, libertarians’ answer to the accusation (yes that’s what it is) of rising inequality is ‘bring it on, it’s not like anybody’s living in a Victorian rookery anymore,’ not ‘no it isn’t.’ Or eat more beans. And they’re right, to a point. Whether technological progress keeps pace with capital accumulation is the least of our worries.

To my ear, Achenbach’s complaint is the sound of the bourgeois newspaperman realizing that his profession — and his country — is slipping away from him, and that time is just a town in Illinois.

One could go on about Marshall McLuhan, Burroughs’ word virus, and Jacques Attali — or the odd pedagogical techniques of the former CCRU — but Thomas Wolfe said it better anyway:

‘Summer has come and gone, has come and gone. And now –?’ But they will say no more, they will have no more to say; they will wait listening, silent and brooding as the frost, to time, strange ticking time, dark time that haunts us with the briefness of our days. They will think of men long dead, of men now buried in the earth, of frost and silence long ago, of a forgotten face and moment of lost time, and they will think of things they have no words to utter.

“And in the night, in the dark, in the living sleeping silence of the towns, the million streets, they will hear the thunder of the fast express, the whistles of great ships upon the river.

“What will they say then? What will they say?”

Only the darkness moved about him as he lay there thinking, feeling in the darkness: a door creaked softly in the house.

“October is the season for returning: the bowels of youth are yearning with lost love. Their mouths are dry and bitter with desire: their hearts are torn with the thorns of spring. For lovely April, cruel and flowerful, will tear them with sharp joy and wordless lust. Spring has no language but a cry; but crueller than April is the asp of time.

So happy spring, and if you’re into sharp joy and wordless lust, you have a week. The bit above is from Of Time and the River, book three, Telemachus, in which the young man returns from Harvard to find his father dead.

Reading the Odyssey growing up the character after whom the book is named was one I’d always identified with. I had naval officers for parents, and the sense that the only wars worth fighting had already been fought. We even lived in Ithaca for a while.

Anyway, we’ll never know how or if the Homeric character ruled, since what we know of the Telegony is extremely limited. But he made peace with the man who killed his father, his half-brother, and they went on to marry each other’s mothers.

Despite the undeniable sense that we live in a city of Buck Mulligans, I’ve always thought the character was a decent representation of some of Washington’s pathologies as well. Telemachus got his licks in slaughtering his mother’s suitors; politicians expropriate and transfer for The Cause, an NGO globocrat might dig a well in Africa. The most representative person in the swamp we call home is not a corrupt politician, but the unpaid intern who thinks “you haven’t really lived unless you’ve traveled” and is moved by The Perks of Being a Wallflower. We are strong, naive, dependent on our patrimony, and not fighting the real battle. Imagine Odysseus in the Joseph Brodsky poem spoken by Donald Rumsfeld to a young Republican national security analyst, and you’ll get a sense of what I mean.

These are all fine people, of course, they know not what they do. After all, “violence lays its ponderous paw not every day and not on every shoulder. It demands from us only obedience to lies and daily participation in lies.” And Solzhenitsyn is fine, but Emily Dickinson, on our own river, is better:

If pride shall be in Paradise
I never can decide;
Of their imperial conduct,
No person testified.

Average ages of Capitol Hill staffers continue to drop, while the administrative state, America’s true sovereign, harasses political opponents and claims the authority to kill citizens without meaningful judicial oversight. Politics is something inconsequential people do while daddy’s off fighting wars.

If that’s too pessimistic a picture for you, try Reagan’s tribute to the eponymous martyr on for size. At the National Prayer Breakfast 1984:

[A]s the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena. Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, “In the name of Christ, stop.” And they thought it was part of the entertainment, and at first they were amused. But then, when they realized it wasn’t, they grew belligerent and angry. And as he was pleading with the gladiators, “In the name of Christ, stop,” one of them plunged his sword into his body. And as he fell to the sand of the arena in death, his last words were, “In the name of Christ, stop.”

And suddenly, a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand. A silence fell over the Colosseum. And then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow. And in the dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum. That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again did anyone kill or did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.

Assume for a moment that Frank Zappa is right, and government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex, then this is quite the rich little tale as well.

For the time being, the crowd is as bloodthirsty as ever, and as journalists are quick to point out, no shortage of targets for their satisfaction. Yet the unease of the progressive pundit class over Brendan Eich’s purging was palpable — Andrew Sullivan came out swinging, and Bill Maher even used the phrase “gay mafia.” John Aravosis, while pointing out that the bastard deserved it because he also donated to the “anti-everything bigot” Pat Buchanan (and Ron Paul), seems to think he may find himself in the Colosseum someday:

[T]he problem isn’t just limited to [Suey] Park.  Anyone who works in progressive politics is familiar with the never-ending (and of-late growing) Twitter mobs accusing them of being racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, ableist, and my personal favorite from just last year: that I apparently hate all animals, especially cats…

Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius.

Two of the best conservative writers working today have built careers on the premise that it’s possible to go home, to reject the preening Internet puritans and build a life of meaningful connection; Rod Dreher and Bill Kauffman. It’s a vision that holds a lot of appeal, but for a person who grew up in the loving arms of the U.S. Navy before settling in DC, strikes me as rather unrealistic. The desolating lesson of Wolfe and Homer is there’s no going back (and not just them either). “‘Past orientation’ is an impressively defensible value,” Nick Land says, “Retro-directed action, in contrast, is sheer error.” “Home also I cannot go,” as Joyce put it.

But we live in an age when it’s not easy to tell what’s past orientation and what’s “retro-directed action.” Narendra Modi or the Benedict Option seem to qualify as both. A Marxist would probably say — and in fact has said — charter cities are the latter. (This piece was my attempt to deal with the problem.)

What seems clear is the creeping fear that the “mobs” of Aravosis’ nightmares are after “no less a work than the overthrowing of Creation itself” will continue to grow:

Just in case you missed it, the line from Benson before he’s turned into a dog is “We can make beans into peas!” So far Cowen has only been pepper-sprayed for his legume-related lack of vision, but clearly we’re dealing with unstable people here, and his status in the Koch-funded impediment to Democracy makes him a target. We already know inter-species transformation cannot be ruled out.

But I’ve gone on too long already. Welcome to the new blog. I dedicate it to the “bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins.” Expect it to be about this digressive.