I grew up with certain ideas. These were in the air. It made an impression. There was the idea ... "if you don't protect your freedom, you are going to lose it."
As a Jew kid whose parents were more or less still scared of Nazis this was kind of impressed, or embedded, into me. It was not formalized as a conceptual system or theory. Nevertheless it makes sense, and you can glimpse what the theory would look like, were it put more formally. There are ideas there. It was presented in a casual way I suppose. But the idea(s) make(s) sense. There is a whole theory...
It's pretty simple, really. The bad is out there. It's gonna come in. You have to keep your guard out. Or up I mean.
You have to be constantly doing something, constantly defending it. The society.
So — Um, that is why there is the ACLU, right? I used to think so! It turns out they are maybe flawed. But at any rate my impression at that time was of there being some persons who protect our rights. They are out there, no? Maybe there was a highly-educated member, on the Supreme Court. Or a couple of senators, a few Congressmen, something like that, and these were a few persons with standards, who knew what they were doing. And they were, at that time, just always dedicated to going around protecting everybody. I still believe this.
Oh, right. Weren't there people like that? They were not the majority, but there might have been a few such persons. A few "selves"— indeed. They are a few "selves" (in this selfish world) who are activists, whose job is to keep us from getting put in camps again. This means all of us, I don't think it just means some of us. Seems like "all of us" is what is probably meant here. That seems more correct.
Those who did this would need to be educated and they would need to be active. They would need to be plugged-in, active. There are such persons, these ideas existed; I absorbed the ideas myself.
Well I've got news for you, it's over. Chicago Mayor Emmanuel — or somebody/anybody — who cares who — has officially suspended our Constitutional guarantees. I think that this was on behalf of the important (to some) G8 or IMF thing — whatever the thing is. This is upcoming, pretty soon — the "important people" of the global system are going to have a sit-down so they can talk frankly.
But you aren't allowed to protest? Not only. The paper this morning (I saw it in the box and I read the headlines) says something to the effect that these restrictions coming into force are going to be in force permanently. Oh. Great. They aren't going away. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/
It's all over, baby. (And for the billionth time, I iterate Bob Dylan by accident. HINT: "It's all over now...")
When one of this small group of the few responsible persons we have in the society who are defending what we call human rights is acting he or she is not just defending the rights of his or her self. In this tradition, and in this world we live in, or lived in, until it failed this morning, such defense of human rights is not the defense of the rights of some. One is defending all the rights of all persons. It does not matter if they are your friend or your enemy.
It. Does. Not. Mat. Ter. This is our tradition, this is what you have to defend if you want to live in this society, according to the way of life which we have known, and this is true even if it has been only upheld and actively defended by a few.
From what I have seen of the human race, in my life, or in my experience of it? ---I do not particularly from what I've seen think any of you deserve right number one. Maybe some of you care about one another. I cannot say about that. I have never seen anyone care much about me.
But that doesn't have anything to do with it does it? If I don't defend all of you, who do I defend? Just my family? But I notice there are some, like Herman Cain, who say "self" a lot. Or: "self-interest."
I am not the so-called "CEO of Self." That is what Herman Cain seems to call himself based on what I read in the NYRB. That reading is how I know but when I check Google it seems he has written four or five separate books one of which has that name, "CEO of Self." (I have never seen it in a newspaper.)
The phrase seems to refer to anyone in the company and he seems to be saying that the individuals working for X company should be all be very independent themselves, thus "CEO of Self." [The NYRB article, or review, when reviewed later, was revealed to be biased. This bias is unnecessary. It buys perfectly into what Cain is saying about the way the liberals treat him. In the ensuing confusion I composed the following material (diabolically insering the dick word only afterwards)]:
What a rascal. But he's honest. The rascal expresses "self" — very clearly. His penultimate idea (preliminary to becoming president!) or master dick stroke is to draw a line — between his own "self" --- and everyone else's.
[Now I see that my impression was not entirely correct. I did not realize it but what I was reading in NYRB was slanted. I thought NYRB was a legitimate publication. My mistake. Nevertheless, I will stick with what I wrote yesterday, with the one alteration that it is not so much about Mr. Cain as it is about, Well....somebody anyways]:
First, jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the mentally retarded. Next come the Poles and Slavs. Then we bomb the British. Pretty French girls like Coco Chanel get to live. Japanese? — No problem. But I don't want to hear any of that "plantation" (1) stuff.
Get it? It all depends on who you are and where you are.
As for American justice — and goodness — and freedom — this looks like "fantasy." It functions on the level of fantasy today, in one's head, that's all. That's the same place where drugs go when you take 'em. Freedom for these people is light-headed, it is like a helium-filled balloon or a candy cane. It's funny, but that's alright, I mean as a literary device it works. "Fiction," a literary point of view.
And Americans love their fic. But it reduces real life to nothing much at all. What is left of freedom, then? This head-oriented, fictive version of it is what I see around me constantly, wherever I go, all the time. This is all that's left of freedom in their minds. The "fruit" of freedom today is to turn the idea into something insubstantial — blather, or chatter, or, insubstantial lather. This is what came of the idea.
Candy Cane freedom for its own sake is all well, as said; it is just fine. Many careers have been built on it --- on such freedom. That is just what Cain's freedom is based on, I should think, meaning on his own personal freedom. It isn't based on the struggle against slavery.
Songs are written about fluffy candy cane freedom. The difficulty comes down to the fact that, as Orlando Patterson observes, the original idea occurring in history, may occur in relation to what it is not. Freedom is an old idea in the West but its real context is freedom from something else, which usually seems to mean bondage to others. There is something else, that freedom is supposed to protect you from.
Fantasies by nature are ephemeral; fantasy does not protect anybody. To turn freedom into a fantasy is too easy and it deprives the concept of its original context, that of protecting something. It protected the members of a nation. It is not for one's mere business concern; but, rather, for the community, or, for the world. In this nation Americans have stopped conceptualizing, and no longer exercise, the freedom that originally intended as the meaning of freedom. That freedom was designed to protect --- against something else. That protection could only come through interaction and cooperation between members of a free society. The original concept promoted the desires of a particular group of persons. Who was that group? I think the founders --- of the United States of America, who were agitating for their freedom — but this is not freedom for the "self." In the historical context, the idea of freedom for the self is absurd.
If this was only individual freedom, no one would have needed such a concept. No one would have had any use for the concept as it manifests in history — in the historical case. But history is exactly what the Americans today no longer care about. Americans today with their exuberant, fluffy version of freedom. And their Apples, and pink buttocks tights. The way Americans today believe in freedom comes with a consequence: you are going to end up destroying each one of the 200 million "selves" that you think each exist in an essentially masturbatory vacuum.
So, best of luck with that one Mr. Cain — but, I don't think it is gonna work.
Now, regarding the Chanel bit. OK, here is a review; so we can look at the contrast of a real review and the Cain review. Unlike the NYRB review, this review receives my recommendation. I think so. http://www.tnr.com/book/review/the-stench-perfume
(1) As the NYRB documents, Cain, a hard-core conservative rightist, plays on the social debates to make clever use of the word "planation."