Tag Archives: France

The end of the long hot summer, repeat ad limine

It was a Frenchman who helped most to found the modern Olympics. He honored Greece and Olympia in particular but he was truly French. His official Olympic brief biography can be linked here. His heart is buried in Olympia, Greece. But of course every good schoolboy knows that France has nothing to do with Greece and Baron de Coubertain was just a phoney making something up. But every good schoolboy is enormously wrong. First because of references to the Olympics in the New Testament most of which are very positive and because of the great role of Christianity in forming France and Europe. Secondly, because  the first Olympic Games were played in 776 B.C and  became a standard way of keeping dates straight in Greece while individual tribes,priestly orders, colonies, kingdoms and dynasties had their own calendars. Olympic dating was being used in France in about 400 B.C. in a significant way. The first Olympic athlete who had been to France was probably not in 1896 but more like in 396 or at the latest 296 B.C. but he was neither a winner nor a real native of the region in all probability. The big sporting nations won all the events and the others were happy just to be there. The primitive lands of the Far West were relegated to the “also ran” class. But the Olympic tradition was alive. The events and memories we celebrate in the upcoming days have a deep rootedness for all of us form Western European roots which has been forgotten but for me especially..

Ad limine, at the threshold of what I define as my most profound heritage the traditions involved are already ancient.  Three thousand years ago, give or take a few centuries when my distant ancestors came to France from Greece they settled mostly on the shores of the familiar Mediterranean Sea. It is hard to say what society may have been like among those early explorers, settlers, guards, diplomats and merchants who formed more of the population than would be the case later on in the history of Hellenes in France. It is hard to say what Agathe was like for example once it was settled when Rome was yet an obscure town and Kingdom under they brief dynasty of Kings of Roman who were half Etruscan and lived under Etruscan rule. The Romans who were far from setting foot in Gaul were part of a less than half Hellenized Etruscan civilization and they had ancestral reasons unique to themselves to want to challenge the Greek civilization which was seen as the unchallenged master of the known world. But they were nothing like the Roman Empire, the Greek civilization was profoundly different than what Rome would become.  To us these times must be framed in terms of what Rome would do and become and what it would do to the Celtic societies in the Far West. But But Agde can be visited today and some artifacts can be viewed. But we know Agathe was Rome was not on the minds of the leaders or the common people of Marseilles and Agde.

As said before it is hard to know what life was like in Agde when it was the Far West of the Far West, but we do know  it was a secondary or second generation Greek colony founded by the Greeks who developed Marseilles or Masilia as it was known. The Greek story in France had begun. For me and a tiny few of us perhaps it has never stopped and we hope it never will. It also continues here in Louisiana. The Phocians were the founders of the Hellenic colonies in France but there were representatives of other tribes with reciprocal rights and treaty obligations in most colonies across the Greek world. This was a very imperfect system but it was a system that can pretty well be understood even where no direct evidence exists. I am sure in my own mind that even in those earliest days when the first Phocian ships landed in Marseilles there were Arcadian connections to the enterprise. By the time Agde was built there was what could be called a minimal Arcadian community which intermingled with the Phocians but which brought some titles and laid some pans from the earliest days. That was the threshold of the Acadian identity.

Ad limine means roughly “at the threshold”. We are on the cusp of along period of the end not at the other end of that long process where cool weather lies just ahead. I am busy working outside, it is hard to stay cool, there are summer storms one day and pure blazing but humid heat with almost no respite at all on the days when it does not rain. For me there are many things to be aware of in August that require some level of emotional, intellectual and financial attention and a few Augusts across my life are more that way than others. This is an especially  challenging August in more ways than it is otherwise special. getting this post together has been a challenge as well. The truth is that there comes a point in almost every life where one realizes that one is simply wearing down too much to bet on one’s capacity to deal with the challenges on which much of one’s earthly happiness and security depend. The Rio Olympic games are assuredly cranking up. The big political conventions are over. The brutal heat of South Louisiana is one of the conditions that wears one down and there are no cheering crowds. the near certainty that thew Zika virus will be here degrades life further in a place much buffeted by the modern world. The preventions and poison will degrade life too, necessary as it may be. So that is the world as I find it this week. I hope to watch a lot of the modern Olympics and I hope to live out this summer as well as I can. But in the heat, the political disappointment and the lack I feel there is not much sense of the great Olympic tradition But it probably is not the first or last time I will get a little boost from the connection to these events.

This is the hot time of year when certain familiar things happen and it is also an Olympiad year and a US Presidential election. There is a great deal to be said about the Olympics and the Presidency but I want to focus on the fact that his is the peak of the gulf coast summer when it is hot and going to be hot and is horribly hot — and yet the slope to cooler days lies just days or weeks away. Soon enough the hottest days will be behind us. I will be glad when it is cooler. But the Summer Olympics will be part of  what is good about this hot

Zika is gaining ground in Florida and will be present in Rio for the Olympics and doubtless it will soon spread here as well. South Louisiana is the kind of place where such a disease will be

I am near the point of admitting that almost nothing I thin most urgent in my life can I reasonably assure.

 

Positioning America for the Future We Face

I have listed, described and written about making very significant changes in America. That is what this series of posts is mostly all about.  There is no realistic reason in the world write all these things but some things are worth doing which are not realistic. We have to look around the world and see how America will fit into the future as it ties into the present. How will we find the world no matter what we do? In addition, in the context of my rather extensive and complex model of change and revolution described here how would America interact with the world after having undergone this transformation?

Anyone who really proposes revolutionary change must propose some things which would not be possible without some kind of revolution. If such a proponent does not then he is really some kind of a looter. The risk of revolution is not worth taking unless the results one needs to achieve are more substantial than can be gotten from ordinary political maneuvering.  I am exhorting America to recommit to a survivable future and one that could lead to what I would consider good places.  The chances of my living to see our society and the world get anything that I would consider a passing grade is almost negligible. However, there is a chance of moving from an almost completely dysfunctional student to one making low D grades and headed towards a B average after some tutoring. That would be a very good result.

I do not think there have been very many societies in history more intrinsically difficult to set on a sustainable path than the United States. On the other hand, besides sustainability there is another measure of a society’s success and viability. That measure is decency and the quality of progress or “progressiveness”.  I think that America is fairly near the top on that second measure of a society’s greatness. There have been many that were more decent and progressive but most of them were small and unambitious. We are one of the most generally decent and progressive  great societies in history. I say that being well aware of many horrors and inhumanities in our past and present.

We have to deal with recent geopolitical changes, with the limits of our own society and culture and also with the enduring and endless problems of  both the Earth and the human condition. That is in a sense a struggle that can never be entirely successful. However, it is true that it makes a great deal of difference whether or not one struggles. The mess we will end up with if we struggle well is much better than the mess we will be in if we struggle poorly or not at all.

If America makes the changes I am suggesting then it will be going down a path which will certainly be lonely at first and may not ever become much less lonely. First of all, many human societies (and most at many times) are fundamentally self-destructive and insane. America will become a society on the path of sanity.  Secondly, America will become even more committed to a moral sensibility. Thirdly, within the context  of sane and avowedly moral societies it will be a modern heir to the traditions of Western civilization in a North American context. Added to all of that, it will remain a great power. We will have to move forward with our own sense of what is real and right. Add to all of that the fact that we have our own dark side which I and others who might become key players would believe we have to deal with and you would surely have a country which nobody can find to be very much like any other country nor any less than a profoundly forward step for this country.

The science of calculating risk is very old and has been approached by many very clever and some very wise people from countless angles over a very long time. Nonetheless it is a vast distance from being perfectly systematized.  Only in formal games can we even get close to showing what would have happened if a set of complicated human decisions and actions had been substituted for another set of complicated decisions and actions. America is living in a world where many bad things and many good things will come its way regardless of whether or not the changes I suggest are made. There is a whole set of possibilities in which the changes would be attempted but basically fail. Then there are unforeseen changes which could come from anywhere and rewrite the course of future events. We face a great deal of possible tragedy that is hard to exactly predict.

I have come to writing these posts after a life in which I have done many active and open things  but in which there are many open and active things that I almost never do.  I am committed to writing for a readership with which I have little organized connection.  I respond to comments that sort of come in over the transom. But this is very different from giving speeches in a public square, leading parades, putting pamphlets out or writing newspaper articles. These are all things that I have done in the past. I do very little now compared to what I would ever have believed I would be doing for such a sustained period of time.  But I believe there is much that I must attempt to do before the worst trends become inevitable. What those trends are has been discussed in earlier posts and will be discussed  in later posts more than it is discussed here.

I personally have had over the years a number of contacts and correspondents both in post-Soviet Russia and in the Soviet Union.  On the other hand I have never been there, do not speak the language and have run into a good number of  Russians in the many places that I have visited and I do not believe our relationship with them is good overall. It has gotten much better but we squandered a very big opportunity during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras. I think that even had Putin become the player he has become he would have been a different Putin had we acted differently. However, while I think Putin is a ruthless, homicidal, devious puppet master (who must prove he was innocent of the blood of the ninety-eight Polish leaders recently killed in the aircraft crash) I think he is basically a good man. Yes, I am serious and not sarcastic. He is willing to be a monster to save Russia from complete collapse but he has shown real interest in being something besides a Monster. He promotes the Russian Orthodox Church, tolerates other Christians, limits antisemitism and maintains a quasi-atheistic secularist power bloc in politics. That is a real work of  religious tolerance. He has invested himself in preserving parliament. If he faced a strong and dangerous President here who might exercise the positive pressures he might still be a better man and leader. However, earlier he might have turned out better. Russia is still devoted to Putin mostly because he is still devoted to Russia. That is how things are supposed to be. We are likely to be adversaries over the medium term but I do not believe that was inevitable.  

Of course one of the things about the system I have outlined (among many things) which is very notable is that  the system is a complex racially aware system and that will certainly complicate many geopolitical relationships.  However our current color blind system and our past of Jim Crow madness complicated foreign relationships as well. I will specifically say that our relationship with India would be among the most problematic.  Indian (not Aboriginal American Indians) would be presumed to be the types of people who live in the Colored Districts of the States or the Mixed Race Districts of the Territories. However, the Racial Codes of each State would need in some way or another to allow Indian families to file a particular form and have it verified that they are consistently and predominantly made up of a lineage of one or more of the following Indian Bloodlines (one form for all admixtures of the three) Moguls, the Old Northeast Asian Colonies of North Indians and Portuguese. Indian families certified as such would be eligible to vote in the North East Asian Districts of the States. America would pursue distinctions like this regardless of how they were received in home countries of populations. Portuguese found to be Portuguese families from India would eligible to choose Northeast Asian or ordinary status. No country will be quite as unique as India but many will have complex issues. 

Relationships with Britain, France and Spain, Mexico, Holland and Russia will be formalized to include their direct participation with areas they colonized. In the case of France, Britain, Mexico and Spain they should have formal relationships with a Compact each which are recognized by the US and limited by the overall society and yet are really direct to the Compacts. All of this will have a cost. These countries will play to their interests in areas we allow. There will be costs with ties to the constituted, armed and territorial Black community in a society that is formally white supremacist. The costs in money and blood are inevitable. But American institutions which are now not allowed to build our society would be given every help in doing so in the future.

The new era would be very difficult and would invest in the future. But not acting somewhere in ways akin to this plan will have serious costs as well.  I am urging us to take the medicines we need to take now and be a little but hopeful that things won’t go completely wrong. We could hope a little bit that hard work and courage will lead to a good result.