Interlude Before Series 2: Elsewhere

The most success I have had on this site has been with my recent Elsewhere series, six parts about the rest of the world outside of the United States.  This makes sense, of course, as the shift in my audience, even prior to that series, has been very international.  At present, over the past few weeks, the United States has been my number two as far as the number of ‘clicks,’ far behind India.  I thank India greatly for this.  As a matter of fact, India inspired the whole Elsewhere series, my ambition to reach–at least on a slightly personal level–those who are far more numerous than the hovering crowd I already intimately know.  The first piece I wrote was about India.


And yet there are so many other places in the world to discuss, as well as numerous conversations necessary to have about every other civilization that thrives or fails.  Of course as I go across continents, places like Australia are a single nation.  There are numerous issues to discuss in that vast, glorious place..  But I will need to incorporate several independent or colonially maintained islands and smaller nations within the scale of their nearby continents (New Zealand cannot help but come to mind.)


And so, starting Monday, Elsewhere 2 will begin.  Tomorrow, Sunday, 3/24/19, will be a day off, without even a reprint of an older piece.  My son has baseball try-outs and we must work to get him back up to speed.  The job of parenting, you know.


And so, with this preliminary out of the way, I hopefully encourage you to check out some of my older pieces, and hope that I know what I’m talking about when covering controversial nations, war torn chaos, and the joys people find in being anything other than American.


Thank you all.


A Tutorial in Self-Absorption



Sometimes I take time off from political and social problems to blather about myself.  I suppose everyone does this in one way or another.  After all, even the most kindhearted and charitable among us sometimes like to boast about how much they are helping the world.  If any of you have followed these posts (even just recently–thank you thank you thank you!) then you have probably noticed that the word ‘I’ shows up even in stories that have absolutely nothing to do with me.  I suppose this is protection.  After all, with all these claims of ‘fake news,’ and the increasing free speech challenges in court, I do not wish to be sued for saying something that is not exactly true about another person.  This is why I call this site Recording Editorial History.  Besides my more serious intentions, literally to be a historian of what people have believed, rightly or wrongly, throughout human history, I can also preface some nasty statement with “I believe,” or “Some people are saying–” any of those vague cop outs to take the pressure off myself.  “Some people are saying” is an excellent one.  Who are these people?  Why are they saying this?  Do they actually believe what they are saying?  If so, how can I be to blame for “recording” them?


Okay, there is an idea of strategic promotion, so now I will continue to the larger point:


I am presently writing a very serious and professional biography on one of the most fascinating people I have ever met (if not the most fascinating).  Currently I am deep into the interview process, talking with their friends and with family, several of whom have long since had a falling out with the subject.  But unlike the present tone, me talking about what I am doing, I have to acknowledge that the story I wish to tell is not about me at all.  And while there is a brief interlude, long before the book deal was ever considered, when I intersected with this person’s life (more than twenty years ago), even that can only label me anonymous.  All of this is why it was so easy to write the preface to the book, outlining my personal experiences with them.  It is so much easier to write and talk about ourselves than to completely submerge into another person’s point of view, even for those of us who prefer to lie, or exaggerate, or simply wish to cover up the shame of our past.  We can always find something to say about what we think or what we have done (read a bunch of blogs to justify this.  I will promote one, in particular: https://essayswsa.com/).


But this is my job–it is not about me, it is not about me, it is not about me!  This mantra must be repeated prior to every writing session or interview I undertake.  Thankfully, because my life has been filled with so much disappointment and rage against uncertain, shadowy entities that–even if they exist!–could not care less about anything I have to say–I am very willing to sink into a fly-on-the-wall status that is needed to be a proper reporter.  The only way I might engage in the conversation is by saying something that I know is wrong, then sit quietly through whomever I speak with as they correct me with varying degrees of amusement or rage.


And yet, while I stare here and think about this project, which will consume at the very least the next year of my life (I have been told, more likely, 18 months to the completion of the text), I cannot help being self-reflective and wondering how I can benefit personally by chronicling another person’s life.  I mean, I like this individual.  We might even be considered friends, although from a distance, living in far off places from one another.  I am here right now writing about my own experiences subsuming my identity in order to understand another’s, and this is the hardest part of the project.  It is no doubt why I sometimes compose pieces like this, self-therapy, vomiting up all the bile and self-doubt I suffer with everyday (the picture I have selected to represent me, an old woodcut about excessive drinking, defines this motive pretty well.)


And this is what I ultimately mean about ‘self-absorption,’ those misdirected thoughts we so often have, entirely pointing at yourself when we should be engaged in the wider world outside of our own biases and doubts.  It is about living in the ‘real world’ (whatever that means to each of us, individually.)  Without the ability to see outside of ourselves, we can never progress as either people or a civilization.  We can only muck along selfishly, as humanity has always been prone to do.  If we hate ourselves, if the deepest root cause of all our anger is merely a reflection of what we cannot stand about who we have become, then we are lost in a projectile world, blaming everyone for everything we cannot help.


I wish to engage with this other person’s life.  I seek to suppress all my own doubtful, negative motives, and enter into the core of another person’s life, complete with all their own self-obsessive quirks, and their disengagement from every world outside of their own perception.  It is, I believe, the only hope we have for continuing as a species in such an angry world.


Farther to the Right–An American Fairy Tale


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Once upon a time race was mistaken for ideology.  Of course there were still racists, or at least by flat definition.  There were those folks who could not stand the sight or smell or sound of the black/white/brown/red/yellow people throughout the world.  But as time moved forward and there were many other things to hate, race, at least for some, lost its meaning.  It was all about what someone believed.  After all, weren’t there ‘good ones’ of every stripe?


Linwood Marcus had been a Republican since college.  Once politically indifferent, it was the staunch liberalism of the whining suburban brats that turned him off.  White kids, all of them, protesting everything from racism to the number of flavors of vegan ice cream offered in the cafeteria.  They protested everything with the same intensity.  Linwood, every bit a member of his generation, came to his opposition with the same blind intensity.


Because he was African-American people had different expectations from Linwood.  Because he came from the city they expected him to be the sort of person he had spent his whole life trying to avoid.  And yet he was every bit as angry as some oppressed person shouting about how unfair it was that the government didn’t pay his way for everything.  Linwood had been taught the lesson of hard work.  His father had worked himself into an early grave–he had only been thirty-seven years old, working two jobs, the janitor at school, and then janitor on the third shift at some overnight meat-packing plant.  He had worked sixteen hours a day, six or seven days a week, because he knew that he had to take care of his family.


Linwood’s mother was of a different sort, no less honorable, no less hard-working, but far more religious than his father had been.  In fact, after his father had died, that was the moment that his mother found Jesus.  Linwood was only eight years old at the time (his older brother and sister no longer lived at home), and was immediately thrust into the hope of the word of God.  He had taken to it like a fish, swimming deep into an evangelical pond.  He would look at his mother, a suddenly aging, dark skinned woman, walking around in her Sunday church hat, with pursed, judgmental lips, really another stereotype, Linwood thought in his nagging moments of doubt.  She was just another black woman nodding her head and not really listening, mumbling out the occasional approving or disapproving “Mmmm-hmmm.”


Linwood excelled at school.  All he did was work and work hard, understanding that he was, perhaps, less talented or intellectually advanced than many of the other students–lazy, broken, high all the time–but that he was more interested in his future and was therefore among the teachers’ favorites.


Of course being as self-righteous as he was, Linwood sometimes found himself running afoul of his classmates.  He really didn’t have many friends, only a handful of other geeky losers (this was the white term for what his classmates actually called him, which was “faggot-assed nigga!”), and was frequently the target of bullies who would either be in prison or dead, he assumed, by the age of nineteen.


Once he graduated from high school Linwood thought that he would be the sort of person the make the black race proud, one of those foundational leaders who could advance mankind past its cruel history of racism.  He was always polite, always well spoken.  He went out of his way to fulfill yet another stereotype, that of the respectable African-American male, the sort of person that the police would apologize for stopping  in his Mercedes-Benz.


It was in college that Linwood’s dreams of being the new Martin Luther King soured.  The more he read about Dr. King, the more disillusioned he became with his message.  It did not help that all those white kids would rally around campus protesting racism, every bit as Communist as King apparently was.  Probably even worse.  At least Reverend King had God in his life.


The day that Linwood decided that the Republicans were the only true Americans was when one of the white protesters (and there was always a protest–didn’t these fools ever go to class?) called him an “Uncle Tom.”  Linwood had recently read Uncle Tom’s Cabin in his American Literature 2 class, and had no idea why this should be taken as an insult.  Yes, Uncle Tom certainly bowed beneath the pressures of slavery, but his internal decency, his willingness to sacrifice himself for the salvation of others was positively Christ-like.  Uncle Tom was not a shameful character.  He was a martyr in the fight for equality.  And yet when he tried to explain this to the person–a tall, thin white guy in a filthy tie-died T-shirt, grubby jeans and dredlocks that looked so out of place that it was impossible to take him seriously–the kid called him a race-traitor.  Him.  A race-traitor, when all he had ever done was to try and do his people proud.


Well, Linwood went out of his way to offend the obnoxious liberals after that, the black ones even more than the white ones.  He joined the campus Young Republicans, and a Christian Conservative group that would have silent, candle-light vigils protesting the radical protesters every Saturday night, the night when all of those goons took off to engage in whatever sinful behavior struck their fancy.  Linwood was the token black person in each of these groups, but he came to be respected internally for his sincerity towards the message and the goal.  Even the most racist members broke down and started honoring Linwood.  After all, the fact that he was even there was a public relations coup.


Linwood continued engaging deeper and deeper in farther and farther right wing politics until he finished school, got his certification, and became a social studies teacher in the city high school he had attended.  Several of the students were actually the children of those people he’d hated, and failing them was an ideal revenge.


Mr. Marcus was known as ‘a hard-ass.’  None of the students liked him, and neither did most of the staff.  He had no sense of humor, was unbearably strict, and took everything personally.  A student forgetting to do their homework (or not bothering, which was more likely) was in for a very hard day, one filled with personal insults and the sort of unforgivable words that were once so extreme they drove an unhappy child to suicide.  Mr. Marcus would ask his classes “Do you want to just be another stupid nigger who never does anything with his life?”  He would say this with frustrated rage after the highest grade on a unit test would be a 72%.  He was trying to teach them American history, about the glories and triumphs of the greatest nation in the history of the world, and all he could see were shameful brats who could only make a world a worse place.  After the one student had killed themselves, Linwood snorted in the teacher’s lounge, while some of the more emotional teachers were even going as far as crying.  He said, “It’s no great loss.  I bet that kid would have robbed a pizza delivery guy before the year was out.”  All he got were glares.


It was a nightmare for most of the staff five years later when Linwood became the principal of the school.  He had worked very hard all those years and had aced his administrative exams.  He had strong beliefs and ideas, and the way he promoted himself with the school district during his interview was as the sort of man who could get things done.  The blaring corporate mentality of the public school system did not consider the still growing extremism of Linwood’s personal politics.  They did not ask him about this, despite the fact that numerous people throughout the years had complained about his biased accounts of history in the classroom.  He had been assigned to teach two courses on Black History, one of the core curriculum classes, and he rebelled against this by refusing to call it by its name, and making the entire lesson a military recounting of every major battle of the Civil War.  He rarely touched on slavery.  And when some of the students asked about this Linwood would shut them down: “People talk about race too much.  If you lazy punks would just live up to your responsibilities then it wouldn’t be a problem.”


By the time Donald Trump was running for President Linwood, married for the past fourteen years to a woman who resembled his mother, with three children, Aaron, Mary and Carl, subdued and studious all of them, had graduated into the role of a right-wing fanatic.  He went to numerous rallies for Mr. Trump, even once being pointed at by the new messiah and spoken to: “Look at my black guy!  Do you see him?  Look at my black guy!”  Linwood was heartily cheered.  And despite the fact that on his way back out to the parking lot he was accosted by two men, both who shoved him and asked “What’re you doin’ here?  Nigger.”  The other one asked him if he was a spy for Crooked Hilary.  Linwood was lightly bruised by the encounter, but he managed to retain his dignity.  He even understood why this had happened.  Poor white folks like that had never had a reason to trust a black person, he told himself.


Eventually Linwood was challenged by one of the union leaders at the high school.  She stood up, this time a very well put together, conservative looking (but not thinking) black woman named Rashonda Mitchell.  She said during an open staff meeting, “I just don’t understand you, Mr. Marcus.  I mean, you have a Trump/Pence sticker on the back of your car!  How could you?  You’re a black man!  Don’t you get it?”


The staff, mostly a group of black and white liberals, needed some schooling.  The handful of Republicans hovering in the background, almost exclusively middle-aged white men who taught Math and shop classes, and coached a variety of sports, narrowed their gaze and glared at their principal.  Clearly they believed that he would somehow betray them, would betray himself, and prove himself as just another black guy who thought only about himself and his own race.  But they did not know Linwood Marcus.  He exploded:


“First of all, Ms. Mitchell, you have no right to question my beliefs.  The fact that you do this in front of the whole school only betrays the flaws within yourself.”  There was an audible gasp and Rashonda was one the verge of responding.  Linwood continued.


“The fact that you think you have the right to tell me what to believe makes me doubt your qualifications as a teacher.  What are you teaching these children?  What makes you think your opinions matter to anyone other than yourself?”  There was an increasing murmur among the staff, and that was when Jim Dooley, a young teach-for-America convert, stood up.


“You can’t say that,” Mr. Dooley said.  “You have no right to tell Ms. Mitchell–”


“Sit down, Mr. Dooley.”  Jim did so.  There was another hush in the room.  Linwood turned back to Rashona.  “I am your boss, Ms. Mitchell.  I was given this job partly as a maneuver to diversify the opinions among the administration of our school district.  Most of you are liberals.  I understand that.  I do not accept your beliefs, but I realize that you have the right to hold them, no matter how ignorant they may be.  But that does not change the fact that this is my school, and I will run it however I see fit.”  He paused, hesitated, then shook his head.


“These kids need structure.  Most of them come from broken homes, or their mama’s on crack or Daddy’s in jail or their grandma is raising them because there’s no one else left.  A lot of them get beaten and most of them come to school high.  They have not been taught to believe either what you guys do, or what I do.  They’ve been taught nothing, not even anarchy.  They live in an endless world of hopelessness and failure.  They don’t have Jesus in their lives and too many of them become Muslims–”


This was too much for Eshaal Ali, an orthodox Muslim woman who wore her hijab and veiled her face.  Linwood had never liked her and the feeling was clearly mutual.  She stood up and pointed her finger.  She shouted one word.  “Racist!” she said.  Linwood’s face was blank as a low laughter spread.


“What’re you–”


“Islamaphobe!” she continued, and now a few other people stood up.


“You’re a racist, Mr. Marcus,” one of the white teachers said, followed by four more.  Then the black teachers got into it–nearly all of them.  One of them sat down at her laptop and began composing a letter to the superintendent, exaggerating the incident.  She wrote, “And then Mr. Marcus told Mrs. Ali that she could lose her job if she didn’t get out of ‘her wool sack.’  He told her that she was going to Hell if she didn’t change her ways.”


This incident exploded into the news, the press relieved to finally have a black person to condemn.  It evened things out, they believed.  There were so many white people to condemn–legitimately too–that it was time to prove once again that all humanity was flawed.


Linwood lost his job.  He tried suing the school, and was given a six-figure settlement then ordered to remain silent.  Instead he went on social media and began talking about conservative voices being censored.  He called out the liberal media, was attacked by numerous voices on Facebook and Twitter, and responded, frequently, with racial slurs.  When Twitter finally banned him, Linwood increased his rage against the “fake news liberal media.”  He said that he and other patriots were being silenced.  He proclaimed that he had done nothing wrong.  He talked only about his politics, and never his behavior.  He declared that he was further to the right than Genghis Khan, and invited all of his people to join him in a crusade to save the United States of America from the liberal poison that was destroying the nation at her very root.


Why Won’t You Love Me?


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Before you get the wrong idea, this piece is about sociology and politics.  Or, more specifically, it is about the empty vacuum that is the soul of modern humanity, so desperate not even for adulation, but merely a strong reaction.  We seem willing go to any lengths, promise anything, or support ideas that offend nearly everyone just so long as you’re still thinking about us.


Yes, Donald Trump will be the inevitable focus of this piece, but that has much more to do with the present tense (and, I suppose, the relative obviousness of his desperation) than with something particularly unique about him.  We can pick any world leader apart for the same issue.  Here: take the 13th US President Millard Fillmore, Related image who is, to this point in our history anyway, the only President we could outright state was a traitor to the nation he once led.


Fillmore, after shamefully leaving office through his “Know-Nothing” administration, angrily grumbled throughout the rest of his life.  He resented Americans, resented the trends of youth.  He did not especially care about slavery–saw no benefit, nor evil in the practice.  He fundamentally did not care.  But he was so bitter, so bitter.  The American public had rejected him.  Wasn’t he worthy of their love?


Fillmore went on to side with the Confederacy during the Civil War, purely out of spite.  The America that once rejected me, he thought, now I, from my still slightly elevated platform, I reject you.  Let us form a new nation, one more in line with my emotional wreckage.  Maybe–who knows?–maybe I’ll get to be President again and gain the respect I’ve never gotten, but have always deserved.


The comparisons with President Trump to this ruined emotional state are baffling, if we choose to consider them.  Donald Trump is a void of character, empty of concern for everything outside of his immediate desires.  He is a glutton, a selfish little boy who always explodes when given the answer ‘No.’  Think about how people raise their children today.  Think about the valid criticisms so many of us have about those weak-willed parents who call their children “buddy,” or allow them to get away with everything.  Who give them anything they want.  Who have never taught them the meaning of the word ‘no.’  There is your President.  For all of the weakness dedicated supporters supply to their political and social opposition, for every stereotype they apply to them without knowing anything about different ways of life, they still fail to see that Donald Trump is the product of the same failed moral guidance–a monstrous spoiled brat who holds his breath and stomps up and down until getting what he wants.


Can you imagine one of those horrible children given enough power and influence to rule the world, to make changes that inadvertently affect everyone on the planet?  Of course you can.  We are living in that moment.  And when they talk about Trump’s ‘lack of empathy,’ this is a far more serious problem than even the whining left give it credit for.  The fact that the President of the United States is incapable of caring about the many horrible tragedies that befall mankind is incredibly dangerous.  If you notice the smugness and aloof randomness of his choice of communication, you will find that he makes personal attacks instead of conciliatory statements about everything. (and Twitter, itself, as influential as it has become, is a sewer of loathing; on a personal note, I have been ‘banned’ from Twitter for quite some time now.  It was once my primary advertising venue, before my wonderful real advertisers came along to make me the slightest of profits.  And in contradiction to the conspiratorial ideas about Facebook and Twitter and other social media venues banning people of a particular political bent, I can prove that this is not true.  The only people banned are like me, not specifically aligned with any political agenda or ideology.  We’re just rude assholes, attacking people on grounds each outlet declares against their rules of social conduct.  So right-wing motherfuckers, and your left-wing brethren: it is not intentionally silencing your political views.  It is your and my own fault, ultimately, because we either believe in absolute freedom of speech, or we’re simply hateful pieces of shit who mock people for small and petty reasons with irrational outrage.)  If Donald Trump were not President of the United States, he too would be banned.


In the past most leaders at least used to pretend that they were stricken by the various horrors that plagued the world.  Some of them, I have no doubt, truly did care about the misery others and their own actions caused (Jimmy Carter, for example).  But not Trump.


The key here, I believe, has to do with an ability to love and be loved.  Barrack Obama, for example, say what you will about his policies and politics–even apply those conspiracy theories so many people like to proclaim without ever attempting to prove (yes, the same goes for Trump.  And Clinton.  Bush/Bush, Reagan, and on and on and on back through LBJ and JFK and FDR and TR, McKinley, Garfield, Lincoln, even back to the founding fathers)–despite all of these biases and disputes, I doubt anyone thinks that Barrack Obama has never been loved, or loved anyone, in his life.  As for Donald Trump. . . a case could certainly be made.


As stated previously (and in earlier essays), Donald Trump grew up a mercilessly spoiled child who was never taught the value of hard work (regardless of how hard he pretends he is working).  He was bought off and dismissed.  Nothing he ever did was good enough to prove himself to his father, who cared far more for his work than his family.  No one ever expressed affection for little Donnie.  It is doubtful that his parents even loved him.  They barely tolerated him.  And he does not love his own children.  He hates his namesake Junior so much that he allows him to declare the most ignorant statements in daddy’s favorite forum, Twitter, consistently making a public fool of himself.  Considering that the President seems compelled to comment on literally everything, the fact that he never acknowledges his son’s increasingly desperate attempts to get his father’s attention makes these efforts all the more pathetic.  Don Jr. cries out, “Daddy!  Look at me!  I hate people every bit as much as you do!”  The poor child (and he is a child, a cheap imitation of his father, flailing mindlessly in the swamp of a ravenous world he has never had the to need to consume) is lost.  He has no actual reason for being.


The considered daughter, Ivanka, comes across more like a showpiece than anything Donald Trump truly cares about.  She is perfectly coiffed, was given a decent education with, no doubt, instruction in eloquence and lessons in manners, like some 19th century heiress .  But he does not love her.  All he can say is how beautiful she is, his only sense of pride.  He  made that thing.  She is beautiful because of him.  She is an object, just another Trump-branded possession.  She was probably not allowed to take her husband’s name, even if she wanted to.


When a world leader is incapable of feeling sympathy or affection for anyone or anything; when a world leader is trapped in the endless present tense, wondering what the world can offer him, this will spread and rub off on all the people nominally under their control.  And this is far from an isolated incident.  Numerous leaders both past and present have been such hollow sociopaths, or merely self-directed assholes.  Selfish, greedy and preponderantly ignorant as a result of their lack of interest in anything outside of their momentary interest.  The individuals who support such empty shells cannot help but lose their souls, forgetting that we are all a part of the same dependency on living.  The opposition, for their part, become similar monsters by staring too long into that abyss of indifference.  Hatred is what blooms from such fallow soil.  And people on every side of every issue find it much easier to hate than accept and forgive.  Everything becomes a blame game, and it is the lost childhood activity once called ‘whisper-down-the-lane.’  That was a game where one person starts with a statement and, as the next person whispers a repeat to the one beside them, we chronicle just how much the statement changes when it reaches the end.  It is always rather drastic, not even considering the smug jerks in the middle who maliciously change the meaning.  And this is how blame works–it starts off directed at one person, or group, or even your own fault, and transforms into another reality at the end of the line.


People are so angry, so resentful, everywhere in the world, and this is because they cannot understand why nobody truly loves them.  It is a world desperately lacking love and simply consideration.  The new idea of love has more to do with possession–with ownership.  It is about cutting one’s self off from anything else that may matter, and holing inside, paranoid, peering through the cracks to see what the other people, every bit as frightened by the world, might be plotting against them.  Yet there isn’t even time to consider other people.  It is a lost, intolerable place, darkly shivering within your temporary shelter.  And then someone shoots up the place, or sets off a bomb, or drives into a crowd, or joins a fanatical organization with the goal of eliminating everything that is not their own.


Why won’t you love me, we selfish creatures ask the world that we despise.  Why won’t you realize that I am the only one deserving such praise?


America and The Coming Civil War


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If you listen to mindless assholes, you would think that the United States of America is already gone.  The real problem is that these useless imbeciles are getting closer and closer to becoming prophets.  I am truly concerned about the future of the land of my birth.


Now we can take a step back–I plead with you, let us step back!–and we can wonder how things have gotten so petty and gone so far wrong.  But they have, and no matter the liberal explanation or conservative justifications, looking forward to such a jagged future does no one any good.


We have a president–an actual national leader, or overlord, or whatever we are supposed to call him in this sagging tabloid era, far too busy watching TV to gauge accurately how people are covering his thin-skinned immorality.   He seems blind to the fact that our national dissatisfaction is reaching an anger we haven’t felt since 1857, when Dred Scott was wrongfully condemned, and two years later, John Brown lost his mind.  Or maybe Donald Trump simply does not care.  Does he actually support this terminal divide in national consensus?  Who does a civil war benefit?  Historically, what sort of leaders led, or supported, their nation going to war with itself?  This is something that should be considered before assigning absolute blame to Trump, to one of the political parties–even to ourselves.  What has American society become that has opened the door to such outrage?


We begin with the six hundred on and off years of what is known as The Roman Civil Wars.  These began as slave revolts, the majority of the weak, sick and hungry population deciding that the handful of centurions, heavily armed, and the barbaric monarchs who kept them in such a state of desperation, had to fall.  None of these conflicts lasted particularly long, although they continued to simmer for years in the resentment of the survivors, their children often raised with the inspiration of the idea of  revolution.


These civil wars kept going on and on, mostly between rival emperors, or wannabe rulers who had enough followers to try and kill the king.  Throughout the entire first century BC conflicts such as this raged: Lucius Cornelius Sulla’s faction versus Gaius Marius’.  Both were skillful generals, although Sulla was far more decorated.  There was undoubtedly palace conflict between the two, Sulla, militaristic, taking the side of whatever broken Constitution was then ruling the state, versus Marius’ manipulations and intrigues.  This conflict flared up after the Social War of 91-88 BC.  This was led by numerous generals and was about the further expansion of the Roman Empire throughout the entirety of Italy.  It was never a fair fight.  The Romans massacred the peasants, enslaving them, going on raping sprees, and stealing whatever they could.  In many ways this is the model for modern day African Civil Wars, the faction with the best weapons slaughtering everyone who gets in their way, recruiting children too young to take sides, and plundering the world into a state of terror and absolute chaos.


Rome finished that last century before Christ watching wars break out between different leaders of the Roman Senate, and the numerous battles both during and after the reign of Julius Caesar, all of which were explosions of hatred over differences in political ideology.  Caesar’s legions were attacked by the Optimates, which was the more conservative party that had been increasingly getting blocked out of the Senate, likely, at least in part, due to both Caesar’s popularity and his absolute power, able to control the outcome of elections.


Caesar’s chief rival was Pompey, an astute politician with a great talent for leading his movement.  He eventually led the Senate to vote against Caesar, demanding that he relinquish control of the army to the Senate.  When Caesar refused he performed the unprecedented act of having his army, which was intensely loyal to him since his successful leadership in the Gallic Wars (against primitive British, Scottish and Welsh tribes), march on Rome itself, conquering every quarter of the growing empire.  Those rivals who were not killed fled throughout the empire, to Egypt, Greece and Hispania.  From there the battles went back and forth, the Republicans (seriously–the defenders of the so-called Republic) sometimes winning until Caesar managed to organize his forces into the final triumph at the Battle of Munda.  It was after this that Caesar became the absolute ruler–the emperor for life (“Dictator perpetuo.”)


Caesar’s civil wars of course led to centuries of conflict, Rome no longer a republic, and all power fully vested in the emperor, the entire senate filled with either lackeys or those too frightened to speak an angry word against the king.  But, inevitably, Caesar was assassinated, which set off endless, barbaric struggles, culminating, shortly before the birth of Christ, in the Jewish Revolt of Judea.


This was the first true holy war, one that was rapidly suppressed, but which led to the fanaticism that gave birth to the coming Messiah.  The Jews saw their struggle with the Romans and their desperate attempt to be free as an apocalyptic battle, reading into it signs from the Torah that would eventually lead to the stories collected in the New Testament.


The Jews needed this motivation, and it helped to radicalize them–a new religion born out of the struggle.  Jesus Christ entered the scene as the leader of the slave rebellion, someone so charming and eloquent, a man with ideas about how to create a new and better world (someone we might call a cult leader today, as the Romans did in theirs).  Jesus was an easy figure to elevate to the crown (King of the Jews, a political designation as opposed to religious).  This is the nature of a civil war, finding a new leader to promote your different way of thinking, and then fighting in their name in order to achieve your desired way of life.  Of course this ended in a crushing defeat, in the horror of watching Christ starve to death in agony, hammered into a post, being spit upon and laughed at by those who fought against him.  Eventually the resentful Jewish people formed their new faith around Christ, elevating this hero to the singular son of their God (despite the fact that Jesus preached that all people were the children of God.)


By 66 AD the Jews had organized an army in Jerusalem.  These generations later had developed a pure fanaticism that we rarely see today, the new faith growing increasingly mythologized, with thousands of stories being told throughout the communities about the legends of the past–Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Judas, Mary Magdalene–all of the great characters of the new testament, and many others, later suppressed, after Christianity conquered Rome in 313 AD.


Anyway, this first Jewish Civil War was an especially brutal conflict, the true believers in Jerusalem watching their most holy temple (The Temple of David) burn to the ground.  The outrage over this was unfathomable, creating an everlasting hatred of the Jews and early Christians (really one and the same, other than a singular belief) for the Roman Empire.  The empire, of course, either killed or re-enslaved everyone they came into contact with, sacking the city, conquering it, and holding up Roman Jerusalem as a warning of what would happen if any other cult dared to challenge their supremacy.


There was essentially non-stop warfare between the opposing sides within the empire after this, ending, finally, in 476 AD when the recently formed Catholic Church managed to conquer and suppress everything that came within their grasp.  Not only did they consume the empire, but expanded upon it.  They were far better educated and ultimately far more brutal, demanding submission to their way of thinking.  Civil wars became less about living the way one desired, free from oppression, and were now focused almost entirely on accepting beliefs that most of the world found objectionable.


We can cut through the numerous civil wars that occurred everywhere else in the world, throughout Asia and Africa and elsewhere in Europe, out of the reach of Rome, because they all came down to the same thing: My God is better than your God.  This is perhaps best exemplified by the numerous Fitnas from 656 to 1031 AD.  These were the first Islamic holy wars, ultimately no different than the early Jewish/Christian holy wars.


Islam became the most rapidly expanding religion in the history of the world in its first twenty-five years (as it remains to this day).  Desperate people everywhere around the middle eastern region outside of Israel began seeing no future in Christ.  After all, weren’t their oppressors leaders of the church that insisted they the only way to salvation?  No, another new faith was required to organize the slaves and help them to overthrow the burdens they suffered.


Islam was a far more warlike faith, ultimately fed up with the offers of peace and hope of the old ways.  They never seemed to work, looking at history.  Every holy battle ended in some sort of genocide.  Islam developed with the times, the people constantly under siege, parents and children killed by roving Christian fanatics demanding submission in a language they did not understand.  Islam was born in rage, born from the fires of war, and was influenced, without question, by the mystical fairy tales of the region, The Arabian Nights ( https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=&an=bennett%20cerf&tn=arabian%20nights%20entertainments%20book%20thousand&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ats-_-used).  Those tales of vengeful spirits and demonic powers being triumphed by the loyalty and morality of ordinary men and women served as an eloquent background for Muhammad and his followers.  By the time the wars broke out, it was less about fighting the Christians, whom they had always managed to deflect with increasing ferocity, and more internalized, slightly different views on the magic of faith leading to battles of supremacy.  These wars are still being staged to this day, Sunni versus Shia.


We cannot escape the nature of “holy war” as we close in on the future of human conflict.  By 1562 Catholics and Protestants had finally had enough of one another’s mild disagreements in France.  This led to thirty-six years of conflict, killing more than three million people.  This mostly grew out of disgust over the standard corruption of both of these churches, as well as the rise of puritan Calvinism, which saw the whole world as damned.  This was a conflict with no resolution, and it spread across Europe with no end in sight.


In 1639 England, Ireland and Scotland went to war with each other, and among themselves, England ultimately suppressing these nations under a United Kingdom.  There was a territorial civil war in French Canada in the 1640s, the protectorates of different regions deciding that each wanted all.  The so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 was the direct attempt by one member of the royal family trying to overthrow another, dividing the nation once more into warring sides.  Eventually we come to the American Revolutionary War, the first significant attempt of a far off land attempting to achieve its liberty from a foreign crown.


If we come into more modern times, those before the American Civil War , we can study prison rebellions with inmates overthrowing their captors and attempting to claim the land as their own, the War of 1812, a reigniting of the American Revolution which ended in the true establishment of the United States as a world power, the Haitian Revolution, Zulu wars, Greek, Portuguese, Chilean, Brazilian, Spanish, New Zealand, Chinese, Australian, Mexican, and on and on and on civil wars, each inspired, at least in part, by both the American and French Revolutions, smaller groups of ideologically based warriors demanding their way of life be taken as an absolute.


The American Civil War, of course, is among the most studied wars in history.  As a brief summary this was about the idea of slavery, southern states demanding, more as a matter of business and pride than any disregard for the reality of its evil, to keep their way of life intact.  Abraham Lincoln, upon reconsideration, probably wanted this war–engineered this war with his own absolutism, which we can take as right and moral (as I certainly believe it to be), but still, given the context, this was simply another war between fanatical sides.  Bitter, stubborn people, convinced of the supremacy of their own lives, went to war and killed their families because they all refused to compromise, refused to seek a better way towards freedom, and sank themselves into a mire of hatred that has only gotten deeper as time has gone by.


After the American Civil War more conflicts shattered the world, those in Japan, Argentina, all throughout Central America, new uprisings in Brazil, China, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia, Iran, Iraq (between the leadership and the Kurdish freedom fighters), finally in Russia, the Communist ideology overthrowing the ways of the old world.


In fact, World War I was a series of massive civil wars, the people everywhere across the globe finally having had enough of monarchy and fighting to overthrow their kings and queens by any means necessary.  This drastically changed everything, struggling new governments attempting to control themselves.  Russia serves as a fine example of what most of these efforts sank into, into a new sort of monarchy, an absolute leader demanding everything from their people.


These wars continued, again ideologically tinged, Communism spreading like Islam twelve hundred years before.  The radicals of this faith overthrew their nations with such brutality that the cowed people who remained accepted what was thrust upon them with very little complaint.  They were happy to still be alive.  They were pleased that at least one of their children remained.


Should we get into truly modern times, World War II led to the division of Europe and Asia between Communist and Democratic empires, the Nazis more of a frightful distraction.  Some divided people battled so fiercely that nations were ripped in half–East and West Berlin, North and South Korea, the obliteration of Vietnam, all throughout Africa and Central America, petty strongmen of either left or right wing fanaticism suppressing all opposition which followed their own triumphant civil wars.  This is the era of rising insanity, of resentments so profound that absolutism becomes less based upon religion and more about uncontrolled rage lashing out at anything and everything people find objectionable in others (perhaps the Nazis were less a distraction, and more the model for a new way of thinking).


Take the Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, which overthrew one of the final vestiges of monarchy, replacing it with fanatical faith, with a moral reckoning that demanded complete submission to the ancient scriptures that defined their only reason for being.  This has spread among deeply oppressed and unfortunate people who, as has always been the case, can only find hope in someone else’s beliefs.  To me this was the start of World War III, a dark holy war that will use all of the foul technology we have developed in the time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rendering our world into a potentially steaming ash heap, devoid of mankind.


With all of the other civil wars still ongoing–in Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Libya, Sudan, throughout the Congo, Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq–among all of the recently conquered nations, gangs like the Taliban and Isis insisting on their permanence, and the increasingly fanatical response to fanaticism–we can see the brewing trouble in most other places in the world.


In the United States, as well as most other Western Democracies, political factionalism–tribalism this has fairly been labeled–has turned ideological parties into new age religions, the same sort of absolutist demands about imposing variations of morality on every other person soon to be under their command.  There are movements to outlaw nearly everything, to suppress choice, to censor speech, to impose educational limitations, and to force all citizens to believe the same things.  This would be Orwellian if the slow creeping towards this terror weren’t so goddamn natural, our short-attention spans and easy dismissal of those we disagree with creating a state of humanity that does not mind being told what to do.


There is a coming social collapse.  I do not pretend to know what the outcome of this event might be, but I must remain hopeful.  I must revert back to these historical lessons.  I must see . . . must see . . . oh . . . shit . . . nothing ever works out the way we wanted it to, does it?  If we refuse to learn anything else from the history of humanity, this should be the lesson that lingers.