by Michael W. Stowell

March 3, 2003


As we grow closer to the inevitable demise of capitalism and other hierarchal systems of order, do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation or you will miss seeing the humorous hornpipe of hopelessness and its perpetual exchange of dance partners. The U.S., U.K. and Italy are now swapping tirades with Russia, Germany and France about who will call the reels on that oily pile of sand, that most important of all imperialist dance floors, Iraq. This is about more than who controls the oil, you know, or whose currency will rule the world, or whose economy gets inflated. We are nearing the end of the evening and the last dance is about to begin.

I'm reminded of late nights in "meat-market" bars with garage-bands playing old rock and roll. Drunk and desperate, it's "last-call," and someone's goin' home alone.

This is about tradition, damn it! It's about blue-suede shoes and corvettes, class rings and going steady. The whole of human culture and mom and pop and apple pie are on the line here. It's about the jobs at the mill in the morning and that paycheck on Friday. It's about beer and football, hunting and fishing, and everything civilized. It's about your old truck, damn it!

Forget about the people who live in Iraq, or the safety and health of the land itself, this is about survival of the fittest; it is the oldest game in the book and damn the rules, times a-wastin'. To hell with global warming, to hell with the starving rabble, to hell with babbling peasants and their diseases and desperation, to hell with wild animals -- the very life and honor of GOD, the LORD God of our ancestors is on the line here, as well as the money.

And what about the "Good Book?" The immaculate and irrefutable reputation of the BIBLE is at stake! Don't you know we are in the "end times?"

...I will assume that most of us who read Swans realize that this is an old dance to an even older tune. The rage we now see in the international showground, as well as in the national and local arenas, has intensified and will continue to do so as global capitalism nears implosion. I think it best that we all keep a sense of sardonic humor about us, and a clear perspective.

Many of you probably read as much or more than I do, so I need not go into details of what floats in the mainstream media or of what comes down the Internet list-serve pipes. Suffice it to say, the news these days is generally not good, or worse, for anyone who values life and dignity. So, what gives you perspective and allows you to let go of the day-to-day tragedy of, say, Palestine, or Iraq? I am not entertained much anymore, I do not enjoy fiction as I used to, and the only self-help books I read are seed catalogues.

However, I have found solace at Swans and with great history books, "A People's History of the American Revolution" by Ray Raphael and "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn are two of my favorites.

It is somehow comforting to know that we are not living in a time when imperialism is new, or even improved. I feel less sense of tragedy knowing that the "Founding Fathers" of this country were looking out for their own interests and only threw a few crumbs to the "rabble" to keep them somewhat pacified. My mind is also eased by the knowledge that racism is primarily the tool of terrorists who would divide the exploited classes; it is not necessarily inherent in human character. I like to contemplate the essence of hierarchal culture and the direction in which it is headed.

I was 'educated' in American public schools and taught patriotism through history courses, at least that was the intent of my schoolmasters. I had some difficulty reconciling the accounts I found in those primary history books, though. When Columbus came to this continent to prove that the world was not flat, he encountered Indians who were very friendly. When the first pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving dinner, they shared it with their Indian neighbors, who were quite generous. So what happened? Why did the Indians become "savages?"

These kinds of questions perplex those dancing the imperialist dance. Lied to, and they have a sense of it, but many still hide from the truth; seems they have no love for it. Therein is the puzzle. Why do some people realize the human race is destroying itself and the planet, and others do not? Is it simply a matter of education? I do not think so.

I know that when I am struggling with a shortcoming I have a tendency to try to justify my actions and myself. If my partner is willing, I can carry on for quite some time with very imaginative rationalizations. If she argues with me, I might get angry with her, or at least frustrated. If she refuses to participate in my little game of 'hide the truth,' I end up alone with my conscience and myself. It is in that place that I find my own truth and, though I may argue with it for a while, my conscience will give me no rest until I admit to my shortcomings.

Sometimes it is better to just state the truth, as you know it, let it rest, and walk away from an argument. If we all did that, there would not be any leaders or elitists speaking for us, many voices could be heard and none would be repetitious. I know I get tired of hearing the same people making the same arguments and accusations all the time, whether I agree with them or not.

When I was young, two slightly older aunts taught me to dance; the dances had very specific steps and were quite simple. You know, the man always leads and the lady always follows. My partner, Robin, is a "free-style" dancer. There is really no way to teach free-style dancing, so what I am doing is unlearning the dancing I was taught years ago. In a way, it is not easy...but it is the easiest and freest thing I have ever done.

I cannot teach you free-style, no one can, I can only assure you that it is the most natural thing you will ever do.

There are no rules.

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Resources and Related Internal Links

"Biocracy," by Michael W. Stowell

The Ishmael Community

Beyond Civilization, by Daniel Quinn


Michael W. Stowell is a local activist in Northern California.

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Published March 3, 2003
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