07 July 2009

The Authoritarian Temptation(poem)

Originally wrote and posted this to my Facebook Notes last night, and will let the rather long intro and poem speak for themselves here, except to say that I hope you enjoy them and find them to be at least some food for thought.

Be seeing you.

Earlier this evening, I saw, via a link to a friend's FB profile that a friend of hers had posted there, a list of things to do on an anarchist site(what the site's precise orientation in that part of the spectrum I don't know), and, while going down the list, I saw some items there that I thought had at least some merit, but others, including this one, "Don't be afraid to disagree with kindness", that I thought could have been appropriately put on a list entitled, "30 Ways To Be A Complete Arsehole", and, particularly with some of the articles, posts and comments that have seen on-line, especially in recent years, from various parts of the Left, Centre and Right, well, my reaction was to sit down and write out a set of poems heavily lampooning various parts of the American political spectrum, including the Democratic Party, among several others, and even myself, and the authoritarian tendencies I have in my personality.

However, I decided, and yes, am admitting to being a complete chicken-shit here, but I decided not publish them here, because I do have friends who subscribe in one form or another to at least some tenets of the beliefs lampooned in those pieces.

Instead, I decided, while writing this piece, to publish this, the most serious and direct portion of all of the various pieces, because I think that this clearly and directly expresses a lot of the fears, doubts, and mis-givings, as well as my beliefs, about those, including myself at times, who would seek to impose their wills on everyone else around them, regardless of ideology, religion or other motivations.

There's an awful lot of political infantilism being pushed, both on and off the 'Net, right now, these being the hard, uncertain, and, at times, very frightening times, we find ourselves in, it becomes pretty easy to fall for at least one form of it if one's not careful.

It's very easy, if one feels justified enough, and especially if one over-estimates one's own righteousness, intellect and prowess, to advocate practically any course of action, no matter how stupid, criminal or murderous.

The Bolsheviks, Italian Fascists, Nazis, Red Guards, and Khmer Rouge, among many others, including liberal democracies like the US, Great Britain, France and others, believed, as many have before and since, that they were absolutely right, and absolutely justified in everything they said and did, no matter how ugly.

It's a very human failing, and Yours Truly's certainly no exception to this. Self-righteousness is one of the worst drugs I can think of, and practically no one's immune to it, in one form or another. Even libertarian conservatives and libertarian socialists and communists can fall victim to it, if they're aren't careful.

Before saying "I think everyone should...", I think that it might be best to see if one's thought the assumptions and implications of what one's advocating entirely through, because there are always devils in the details and unexpected consequences to one's notions, thoughts and actions.

Yes, one can over-think any given course of action, and end up either hesitating as to what to do until far too late, or not act at all.

But, acting too hastily, especially if one hasn't entirely thought out precisely what one hopes to accomplish, can also be disastrous.

There are no perfect solutions, but there are some that are better and far more equitable and humane than others, in my view.

Even then, there are going to be errors, great and small, made in bringing those about. The trick, so it seems to me, as to make as few as one possibly can, and not to make the same ones twice.

Anyway, have blathered on long enough.

The poem's below, and hope you enjoy it and that it gives at least some food for reflection, thought, and better-applied action.

Here Endeth The Lesson, and Be Seeing You.

Tyranny, no matter the intentions or ideas behind it,/

comes out to being much the same,/

whether by a tyrant ten thousand miles away,/

or ten thousand tyrants not a mile away./

It's the exaltation of power,/

for its own sake,/

wielded by people so caught up in themselves and their ideas/

that they examine their assumptions not./

The impulses towards bigotry, thievery, looting, rapine, /

despoilation, viciousness and genocide./

There are always, always, /

explanations, excuses, and more excuses,/

justification after justification,/

some meek and humbly given,/

others defiant,/

and all far too damned late./

After the thievery,/

the rape,/

and the murdering are over,/

often long since so./

Even the purest, even poets,/

can steal and murder/

with impunity, for a long time,/

and the greatest of glee./

All it takes is a touch of self-righteousness,/

the worst drug of all,/

and a lack of empathy./

All it takes is a will to supreme, absolute, unbridled power,/

and the willingness to use it on others as harshly as can be./

Whether from behind an expensive desk,/

or in the field,/

with a rifle, pistol,/

iron bar or shovel,/

it's easy, so easy, to call for murder of those one hates,/

or at least dis-likes./

It's easy, so easy, to imagine oneself as the heroic victor, the Hero or Heroine of the Revolution,/

the Supreme and Almighty,/

or at least a capable and empowered district officer./

It's quite another/

to imagine oneself/

as the despised,/

the oppressed,/

the robbed,/

the raped,/

murdered and buried like a dog in an un-marked grave./

It's quite another to actually have to live the experience,/

whether as murderer or victim./

Either way,/

it's a bastard, truly and completely so,/

all the way, all the way,/

all the way to Hell on Earth./

Seek not to dominate others, lest you be dominated in turn./

Avoid those who want power, however disguised, for its own sake./

Whatever their intentions and ideas,/

their motives and means,/

whether they truly believe their words,/

or coldly, cynically sell them /

like pills and soap/

pushed in adverts./

Notions are one thing, actions another,/

and those who, whether idealistic or cynical,/

push notions too far when applying them into action,/

are just as blood guilty all the same./

Politics, economics, war and such/

aren't games to be played,/

with people as the pieces to be shoved 'round/

at the players' whims./

They are business,/

the deadliest, most serious kind,/

in which lives, simple, ordinary, even stupid, human lives,/

matter far more than profits, position, or philosophical righteousness./

This isn't a game, nor a drama, in which one plays an assigned part,/

whether “heroic”, “villainous” or merely “supporting”./

This isn't a a yeshiva, seminary or academic debating society,/

where even the most outrageously criminal notions/

can be advanced, refuted, and then left while the contenders grab a bite./

This isn't a dryly academic text nor seminar./

This is reality, often confusing and messy,/

where power, resources, desires and murder oft combine./

It may be great history or fiction to read or see,/

but it's Bloody, literally bloody, Hell to live./

If one wants to see the end results of unthinking militancy and self-righteousness,/

just go and view a murder scene, morgue, or a battlefield after the slaughter's stopped./

There, one will see, wounds, death, stink, rot, and blue-bottle flies and maggots 'round the corpses of the dead, regardless of whichever side they fought.

This is what comes of feelings and prejudices left unexamined,/
notions and ideas unchallenged, especially by oneself,/
and words and actions too carelessly tossed out and inflicted on others./

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,/

Abraham Lincoln said./

He was far more right than he knew when he said that./

Even those who proclaim the loudest about liberty and freedom can be tyrants,/

if they don't check themselves and their appetites./

Even those who proclaim they are for equality for all/

can lord it over others,/

if they let themselves./

Even those who seek righteousness can be sinners,/

if they allow themselves./

Those who would make themselves more than human/

doom themselves to less, far less, than so./

We are human, all too human, as Nietzsche titled one of his books,/

with all the virtues and faults of the race./

We aren't chattels, dummies nor dolls to be used and abused at someone's convienence, then thrown away./

We aren't gods nor devils./

We are merely human, all too human, that is all./

13 May 2009

The Great Hadleyburg Turkey Shoot, Part Two

2010 was the beginning of the four year-long period of Pacifican history known as “The Violent Years”, during which many Pacificans wondered if their country's social order would dissolve.

It started in March of that year, with an attempted secession by some of the inhabitants of a small town in the north-western part of the Department of Agricola, and an attempted coup in New Africa three months later. While both were quickly put down, there would be other out-breaks of violence of various sorts throughout Pacifica in the remainder of 2010.

Hadleyburg, in contrast, seemed to be an island of stability and calm in a sea of turbulence. But, that state was deceptive.

By 2010, Hadleyburg's population had doubled to around 600 inhabitants, both in the town proper and the half-dozen villages and hamlets in its immediate neighbourhood, and officially made its livelihood from the rail-road, motor transport and commercial warehousing industries.

Unofficially, Hadleyburg's real money came from the illicit production of drugs and alcohol. Although the Amalgamation of Communities of Pacifica's national government had legalised the use, production and distribution of narcotics, with the tax monies generated from their sale being devoted to drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programmes, in 2008, there was a loop-hole in the Narcotics Legalisation Act of 2008, that allowed some communities to opt-out of that legalisation. It was both legally and popularly known as “Local Option”, and Hadleyburg, like a number of its neighbours in the Middle Belt, took it.

There were two elements in the coalition that supported Hadleyburg's Local Option, the first of which were the religious and law-and-order elements in the town, most prominently represented by the pastor of the local Church of Joe, a vintage Painted Head GI Joe named Pastor George Hassenfeld, and Hadleyburg's Mayor, a vintage GI Joe Adventure Team Land Adventurer named Oran Speers. Both men, like much of their constituencies, were among Hadleyburg's original settlers,were passionately attached to the idealised vision they had of their home, and were also greatly afraid of the potential impact that the legalised sale and use of drugs and alcohol would have on the town.

The second element of the coalition was far more commercially-minded in its support of Local Option, and was composed of the two gangs that actually controlled much of Hadleyburg's business and politics, the Double-Ought Boys, so-called because of its use of shot-guns in dealing with rivals and opponents, and the Bulleteers.

Founded around 2005, both gangs started out with petty extortion against truck drivers and local merchants, and quickly worked their ways up to controlling the production, distribution and sale of illicit alcohol and drugs in Hadleyburg and its surrounding area. Along the way, they also entwined themselves with the local political establishment, with the Double-Ought Boys allying with Mayor Speers and two out of the four members of Hadleyburg's Town Council, and the Bulleteers supporting another Town Councillor(the fourth Councillor, a Marx Johnny West figure named Wallace Peppard, was considered too personally and politically weak by both gangs to be considered worth bothering with).

The Pacifican-Centralian War of 2007, with the sudden influx of soldiers and refugees that came into Hadleyburg as a result thereof, was taken full advantage of by Double-Ought Boys and Bulleteers alike, and both grew numerically and in the power of their grip on the area's politics and economy.

By October, 2010, there were 50 members of the Double-Ought Boys, and 43 members of the Bulleteers, and both had considerable influence over every institution in Hadleyburg and its out-lying area. Even the town's police chief, another vintage Painted Head Joe named John “Honest John” Patton, was in the pocket of the Double-Ought Boys, although he occasionally flirted with the idea of making a similar arrangement with the Bulleteers.

Both the Double-Ought Boys and the Bulleteers derived a good amount of their income from extortion and “protection” of the Trans-Pacifica Rail-Road's lines and facilities, the various transport and warehousing companies and their employees, and just about every business in the Greater Hadleyburg Area, as well as prostitution. But, the bulk of their money came from illegal drugs and alcohol, which were widely distributed and sold in not only Hadleyburg and its environs, but as far east as the out-lying parts of the Wabash area, and as far west as New Peshtigo.

Both were equally ruthless in buying out or shooting up any potential competitors who popped up, and in sealing up the market for their products, while arranging their respective shares of it between themselves.

But, that arrangement, which had held up for five years, began to break down as the Double-Ought Boys began expanding their trade into the Wabash area, which had previously been the Bulleteers' exclusive territory, and the Bulleteers, in turn, started operating in the areas west of Hadleyburg, which had been the Double-Ought Boys' territory.

Shortly after the break down of the arrangement, a number of small producers and distributors of both gangs' products started either disappearing or turning up quite dead in various places around Hadleyburg, and both gangs started preparing themselves for war.

That war broke out on the night of 10th October, 2010.

03 May 2009

Amigo The Cat, 17th April 2009 Pics

The trio of cat pics below are of my cat Amigo, and were taken on 17th April of this year.

Shot it in the bay window of my bedroom, which is one of his favourite perches.

Hope you enjoy these.

We, The Dead, Salute You

The pics below were shot and edited a week or so ago.

They're, for better or worse, my little commentary on the recent mass shootings that have taken place in the US and Germany in the past few months.

Make of them whatever you wish.

30 April 2009

The Great Hadleyburg Turkey Shoot

This is the first part of a ten-part action figure story that I started to-day.

Hope you enjoy it.

Of all the towns found in the Pacifica Department's Middle Belt, one of the oddest, and certainly the most corrupt, was Hadleyburg.

Located well in between the major cities of New Metropolis and Blackwater, it was settled by a small agricultural colony of vintage GI Joes in 1999, and, prior to Pacifica's independence from Centralia three years later, the settlement eked out a marginal living from raising cabbage, corn and potatoes.

But, after independence, the need to connect the department of New Scandinavia to Pacifica's north with Blackwater, Central City and New Metropolis resulted in the construction of National Routes 4 & 6, which respectively ran from east to west and from north to south, and the east to west Trans-Pacifica Railroad.

Being situated by the proposed lines of all three routes, Hadleyburg was in an ideal position to take full
advantage of its position, and take advantage it did, of the road and rail construction companies, their workers, the Pacifica Department's government, and the Amalgamation of Pacifica itself, for all it was worth, and then some.

There were those individuals, from both in- and outside of Hadleyburg, who raised their voices against the feather-bedding, over-charging, sweetheart deals and out-right theft that went on before, during and after the highways' and rail-road's construction. But, ways of shutting them up, whether through bribery, bullying, blackmail or bashing in of heads, could be and were always found and used.

So much for Hadleyburg's critics.

The town shot up like a weed in a tropical field, and, by the time the Pacifican-Centralian War of 2007 happened, it was a thriving mini-metropolis of some 300-plus souls. During the 10 day-long war, Hadleyburg, like most of its Middle Belt neighbours, suffered little directly from its effects, but was ideally positioned to press its advantages on the armies of soldiers and refugees that passed through or stayed in the area. And yes, take advantage of them, Hadleyburg and its citizens did.

It kept on doing that after the war, with all of the refugees from the devastated towns and cities temporarily settled near Hadleyburg and its neighbours for the several months after the war that reconstruction took.

Like with the highway and rail-road construction, there were voices that protested the various forms of robbery, overt and disguised, inflicted on them by the good citizens of Hadleyburg. But, as before, they were either bought out, beaten up, or broken in one way or another.

A few small-time malefactors were offered up to the departmental and Amalgamated authorities as sacrificial lambs, with much trumpeting and fanfare in the local media.

But, the real villains, and the whole rotten show, went merrily on, even after most of the refugees returned home, and Hadleyburg remained snug, and smug, in its piously hypocritical ways.

In the autumn of 2010, all of that would change in the course of a night.

17 April 2009

The Killing Mood And The Killing Season(poem)

Yet more material prompted by the current malaise that I see on-line, and my own reactions to it.

The sun shines,/

the wind blows,/

and leaves tremble on branches./

These have gone on long before/

we small, poor things began struggling/

underneath them./

Stars, formed long before we came to be,/

send their light outwards to worlds we shall ne'er see,/

and have burnt out, long before what we assume to be/

eternal, solid and ever-lasting, was even an idea./

Kingdoms, republics, constitutions,/

markets, churches, and art/

have come, gone, been revived and faded out,/

over and over again./

Faded out, driven out or burnt out/

because of the killing moods in the minds of men/

made manifest in the killing seasons./

We are filled up,/

and fill ourselves up with/

all manner of notions/

about how the world has been,/

and should be./

It's something we all do,/

for we all have our view-points,/

and only the dead are truly neutral./

It's understandable,/

for we all have our own lives and struggles,/

some better, some worse, than others./

But, it's unforgiveable,/

when we ball up fists, pick up weapons,/

and go forth, like so many Christian, Muslim, Jewish or other soldiers,/

marching, not as to war, but war itself./

It's criminal when, in the name of our god, gods, constitutions or creeds,/

we loot, burn, rape and kill./

It's stupidity itself,/

when we lie to ourselves and others,/

in saying that all is justified and sanctioned,/

even if by the ancient and mere excuse,/

"They had it comin', for being on the wrong side,

wrong place, wrong time, wrong colour,/

when men fell into the killing mood,/

and the killng season began./

If they had it comin',/

so do we all./

For self-sorrow, dis-satifisfaction,/

jealousy, envy and hatred can consume us all,/

if we let them./

Loneliness, frustration and bitterness/

can make the best into beasts,/

and the bestial into far worse./

If we let them./

When we do,/

we've got it comin',/

just as they do,/

and revenge takes its course,/

the bells and gongs sound again,/

'cos of another killing mood,/

another killing season./

Some say that's the cost of freedom,/

and that some principles matter more than life itself./

Maybe so, but they who say such things/

have either never suffered loss at the hands/

of those gripped by a killing mood in the killing season,/

or have grown callous and stupefied by their loss./

It's so easy and cheap to run one's mouth,/

in one's living room, bed-room or bar-room,/

and call for the deaths of others, who one neither knows nor cares about./

It's much harder and dearer to actually do,/

in the killing mood, in the killing season./

Fine speeches,/

full of wonderous, or maybe just ordinary,/

oratory, at funerals and ceremonies,/

are made over bags of dead meat,/

whether freshly-killed or long since dead./

The causes for which they died were always fair and just,/

the deeds they performed heroic, and the dead immortal./

But, this ignores that the causes may have been dubious,/

the dead, when alive, mixes of fairness and failibility, same as anyone else,/

and that the dead are dead and gone, never to return in the state known in life./

Bodies change and transmute,/

shedding flesh and muscle,/

bone and marrow,/

until they become something else entirely./

Don't expect to see them,/

as they were,/

ever again./

Too much damage has been done,/

and too much time passed,/

to un-do the deeds made by men/

gripped by the killing mood/

in the killing season./

Words comfort the living,/

but do nothing for the dead./

Words are for the living,/

not the dead,/

for only the living need comfort,/

however small and dubious./

The dead are beyond such cares and considerations./

The sun rises and sets,/

as our sphere turns 'round it./

The wind gusts and settles,/

and gusts again, as the patterns dictate./

The leaves sprout, flourish, tremble, fade and die,/

and new ones sprout again, as the seasons change./

They go on, and shall until it's their turn to fade and die./

They don't see, hear, think nor feel about/

the stupidites, follies and crimes/

of men gripped by the killng mood in the killing season./

Only men can do those./

Only we poor, stumbling creatures,/

under leaves, wind and sun./

14 April 2009

Showdown At The No-Where Corral(poem)

This has been inspired by what have read about various mass shootings and the like over the years, especially recently, the descriptions of the personalities of their perpetrators that have read in various news accounts, and also a bit of lookin' into myself. Can see where I've a fair degree in common with such folks, the anger, frustration, puzzlement and wondering why am not doing better in the world, feelings of entitlement and self-pity, and so on.

By stating this, does that mean that am going to do of the same??? Hell, no. To the points that have worked it through, the end results don't justify the costs, to others or myself. Rather, am trying to do what the late Yukio Mishima put it, when asked why he wrote his novels, plays, etc, as he did, because he otherwise would have been a mass murderer. Not the most pleasant reason, surely, but it worked for him for a long time. His 1970 suicide doesn't entirely abrogate the logic behind that notion, I think. He did that for a variety of reasons.

As for me, well, suicide, even for political reasons, is a mug's game to me. Sure, you get your name in the media and some people will remember you after you're dead. But, being dead's just that, and there's sweet fuck-all one can do once one's in that state.

We all die at one time or another. But, the important thing is how one lives while one's here. I know, big talk comin' from a poor autie-boy who lives with a cat. Well, even poor autie-boys with cats occasionally get it right.

Enough blather. Let's do it to it, and hope you like this.

The sun beats down, yet another day, on yet another part of the world and the poor creatures under it/

Big city, suburb, small town or village./

The difference matters not./

The sun beats down, like it did on small towns like Tombstone, Bodie, or Lincoln in the Old West./

It beats down, just as it did on Western movie sets, from Bronco Billy Anderson's to Clint Eastwood's./

It beats down, just as it did on places like Austin, Texas, San Diego California, and little towns and villages in Finland and Germany,/

on the days when ill-raised human kittens picked up a weapon or two, or four, or however many to do the job,/

and had themselves a gun-fight at the No-Where Corral./

Picked up a weapon, and were far from the only ones in history to do so,/

to go settle some long-standing disputes they'd with the world,/

bosses, co-workers, school-mates and family,/

and with themselves./

Picked up a gun, knife, or whatever else struck their fancies./

One even used a flame-thrower, made at home with his own two hands./

All to settle some long-held vendetta or blood feud with the world around them./

Not that others haven't ./

Oh, they did, usin' politics, economics, race, religion, whatever, for their reasons,/

to do cheap and nasty deeds in foul and stinking wars, feuds, vendettas and such./

And all of the dead had it comin', but we've all got it comin', dependin' on whom ya talk to./

No-one's immune from hatin' bad enough to kill,/

and no-one's immune from bein' hated bad enough to be killed./

Yet, we're always surprised when Showdowns and Gun-Fights at the No-Where Corral happen./

We're always shocked, shocked, shocked to High Heaven when this happens./

But, we're never shocked enough to do somethin' about it,/

or the poverty, desperation, alienation and loneliness behind it./

Never shocked enough to knock off glorifyin' the shameful./

Never shocked enough to put enough of a check on our assumptions and appetites./

Never shocked enough to really examine ourselves and see the potential mass murderer, serial killer,/

nasty murdering button man inside us./

The part of us that, like a tom-cat killing kittens to bring a queen cat into estrus again,/

can and will use violence if felt necessary or pushed hard enough./

Shocked, my arse, we are, by all this./

We're long past shock and into deep numbness, if not coma./

There is only so much bad news that one can take,/

before we slip into the waking dreams of complacency, fear or anger./

Just as the doers of such deeds live in a waking dream of anger,/





and loneliness./

The long waking dream time born of frustration after frustration,/

failure after failure,/

humilation after humilation,/

all of which builds,/

piece by piece, link by link,/

second after minute after hour after day after month after year after decade,/

until some folks run amok, whether with a kris, pistol or rifle./

The weapon matters not so much, as the result./

Dead and wounded strewn about the field of massacre,/

like so many store dummies scattered by a tornado or hurricane./

Just like when 19th year olds play at armed diplomacy,/

on the orders of older "betters" who never have and never will./

Just like kids shoot each other over slights and insults./

Just like when dealer kills dealer over turf./

Just like when husband beats wife, or wife husband./

Diffferent people, different causes, and same sorry results./

Everyone has their reasons, I've mine, you've yours, he's his and she's hers./

Everyone can kill, man, woman, child, adult and ancient./

Everyone can die for no good reason./

It's what in our heads and the world around us, as much as the instruments at hand,/

that can kill./

It's the voices from inside and outside that we let dictate to us that can kill./

It's the stupid assumptions, pre-conceptions and prejudices we have that can kill./

It's the anger, fear, indifference and self-indulgence we have that can kill./

They are the motive force, the weapons are the instruments,/

of the longing to butcher./

But, this is forgotten, usually, in the debates and dramas that arise in the aftermath./

Debates driven and dominated by monists, some saying it's guns that are responsible, others saying we need more guns in every place and in every hand./

They are both wrong, because in their maniacal monism, they don't see that/

neither unarmed nor armed societies are polite ones, if the ground rules aren't changed./

If more emphasis isn't given to Mercy, Hope, Charity and the better qualities of our nature,/

If people are seen as dolls or objects, and the ethic is what can you do for me,/

If stupid arrogance is given its head,/

there is no meaningful change,/

and no peace, merely truces until the next blood-bath./

Some blame the media and others blame drugs, licit and illicit, and alcohol./

They play their parts, sure./

But, they aren't alone in this./

There is no one sole cause, and no sole solution./

This isn't the movies or a television episode,/

with everything neatly wrapped up by the end of running time./

This is life, as messy and complex as it gets./

This is death, with all its stink and rot,/

and this is what comes of the thought that using a weapon solves all./

There are no quick, easy, simple solutions to this,/

just add water, mix and pop in the oven./

There are no guarantees,/

and if one wants one, better buy a toaster instead./

There are only us poor creatures under the sun,/

that shines down on us all alike,/

on scenes of beauty and horror,/

as it has before we came and will after we've gone./

One day, perhaps, it won't shine down on Showdowns at the No-Where Corral./

But, that's up to us, 'cos the Sun's just a star in the sky,/

and like God In His Heaven, Or the Czar of All The Russias, is very far away.

07 April 2009

For What It's Worth(Yep, am stealing from Buffalo Springfield here)

Have been mentally churning, discussing and debating with myself, about a whole range of topics and how best to present them here and elsewhere on-line over the past few months, weeks and days now.

Really still have no idea of how best to do it without going off onto my usual rambling rants, etc. At the same time, have got to get some of the notions I have out of my head, however imperfectly yet readably.

So, am giving it yet another go here, with a mix of of aphorisms and short phrases. Don't know how successful will be at this, nor if anyone will read any of this.

Still, best to spew this out, before it makes me even more troubled and embittered than already am.

So, here goes.

Mao Ze-Dong was right when he said that revolutions are an act of violence. They can't be done gently nor politely. It means doing whatever it takes to successfully get and hold power, no matter how immoral, amoral, vile or foul.

It also means, especially for the successful revolutionary, having to live with oneself and one's deeds for the rest of one's life, and especially with hard and unpleasant memories.

Forget who said that revolutions devour their own children, but whoever did was also right. Look at the histories of most revolutions, and one finds a particular faction within any revolutionary movement grabbing power from others, and purging their opponents in one way or another. If one goes down the revolutionary path and is successful, best to be prepared to purge or be purged at one time or another.

Revolutions and wars create expectations that, generally speaking, will be dashed in peacetime and reconstruction. High ideals and hopes are necessary to starting and keeping a revolutionary or war effort going, but, especially with the many compromises and hard realities involved in administering and builidng a new society, many of those will either be greatly diminished or set aside.

If one's aiming at seizing and holding power, one had best be prepared to deal with the small, niggling details of governing and administration, as well as with the grand issues of politics. This means worrying as much about the macaroni ration per person, as it does the construction of a new economic order. If one's not prepared to deal with the many small, irritating details and duties that come with political and economic power, one shouldn't aspire to having it.

These are horribly uncertain, anxious times, in which everything seems to be falling apart, with the centre unable to hold. Maybe so. On the other hand, one doesn't have to look that far back into history to see that there have been many such occasions, some of where that perception turned out to be accurate, and others where it wasn't. While perceptions matter, so does truth. That means paying as much as much attention as possible to what's going on around oneself, comparing that with others, especially those who aren't as like-minded as oneself, and always, always, considering the source of whatever information one gets.

Eyes and brains, Watson, as Sherlock Holmes used to say.

Above all, resist the temptations to fall into an anxious, panicked state as much as falling into ones of either fatuous complacency or fatalistic escapism. None of those states do one or others any good at all.

Have trouble with those states myself, so can understand the temptation to go into any one of those and stay there. But, being in a permanent state of alarm, torpor or resignation aren't terribly helpful in solving problems, or even simple survival.

Don't forget to laugh, especially at oneself when one's being silly and taking oneself overly seriously. This has the dual advantage of endearing oneself to others, and, more importantly, keeping a sense of logic and proportion about oneself's and one's abilities.

All of us like to think that we are, in one way or another, the smartest, sexiest, wisest beings who ever lived. That's a quite natural way of perceiving ourselves, really. But, we all do and say silly things from time to time as well. My goodness, we all have to use the toilet, just as our ancestors did, and our descendants will after us. No one is especially dignified in that state, not even, say, George Washington or Simon Bolivar. If they strained while evacuating their bowels, well, so do I, you and everyone else on this planet.

Most of all, don't lie to oneself or say that you can't be suckered, because that's when one really sets oneself up for being suckered very badly and on a grand scale. Will admit, however humiliating it might be to me, to having been suckered many times in the past, and have no doubt that can be suckered now and in the future. The trick is, I think, not to fall for the same kind of con over and over again. There will always be new and different, or at least new variants on older cons, to fall for. Just keep your eyes and brains actively working, and be prepared to admit, cheerfully or not, whenever you're wrong or have been suckered.

As for lying to oneself, well, I think that that's one of the worst sins that one can commit against oneself and others,'cos it creates false expectations and hopes that can't be fulfilled, and, sooner or later, it will be seen for what it is. If one's going to be a bastard, which I don't recommend, at least be an honest bastard, especially with oneself. In the end, that's to whom one really has to answer, most of all.

Personally speaking, there are times I can be intelligent, witty, even charming and kind. But, I can also be angry, bitter, frustrated and greatly disappointed, both in myself and others. I can be quite nasty when I want to be, but also cowardly. I have often engaged in silly, fiery rhetoric on many occasions in my life, and regret having done so. I try not to do so now, but don't always succeed. I can lie to myself and indulge myself in self-pity and fits of pique, the same as anyone else.

I can often despair, both for the state of the world and myself, and feel hard done by. Maybe, in some areas, I have been. But, such feelings can't and won't get things done and make life better, for others nor myself.

Most of all, am no plaster saint. Am a human being, with at least some of the virtues and many of the defects, that all of us have, in one form or another. Haven't read The Lives Of The Saints, but, from little have heard about it, even the many Catholic saints were themselves highly flawed, imperfect, human beings.

Maybe, that's the most important lesson of all from such tales, whether one believes in deities, saints and all the rest of that or not. We are all poor, imperfect creatures struggling under the sun. What matters most are the choices, decisions and actions we make while we are alive and kicking. That goes for me as much as for any of you.

If you should read this, I hope you'll find some, if not all, of what have had to say here to be sound and of some value. If not, well, that's your choice to make, and more power to you. If you do, wonderful, as am just egotistical enough to be flattered whenever someone thinks I've something of value to say or do.

If you've made it all the way through reading this, whether you agree, disagree, or don't care either way, I congratulate you on making the effort, and taking the time to do so.

On that note, I leave you, and, as always, leave you with a line from one of my favourite television shows of all time, "The Prisoner", Be Seeing You.