Saturday, April 15

21 months and counting ...

We are oft 'encouraged' by a variety of carefully planned means both subtle and crude not to write this blog - or to change its subject matter - or its tone. We will not do so under any circumstances.

Indeed, we are ever more certain that our occasional efforts on these pages matter. While tens of millions are desperate hostages and tens of thousands are tortured captives the least we can do is post an essay every now and then.

Tom Wolfe's latest novel starts with this passage ostensibly describing a young psychologist's work
After Victor Starling removes the amygdala from the brains of some test animals, the cats "veer helplessly from one inappropriate affect to another, boredom where there should be fear, cringing where there should be preening, sexual arousal where there was nothing that would stimulate an intact animal."

After weeks of observing these animals, Starling invites a colleague into his lab, and one cat suddenly starts to thrust violently, sexually, against this newcomer's leather shoe. Just what one would expect -- until the visitor points out that the cat trying to mount his wingtip is one of the normal control animals. At this juncture, the biographical note informs us, Victor Starling makes the discovery that ultimately earns him a Nobel Prize:

"The control cats had been able to watch the amygdalectomized cats from their cages. Over a period of weeks they had become so thoroughly steeped in an environment of hypermanic sexual obsession that behavior induced surgically in the amygdalectomized cats had been induced in the controls without any intervention whatsoever. Starling had discovered that a strong social, or 'cultural' atmosphere, even as abnormal as this one, could in time overwhelm the genetically determined responses of perfectly, normal healthy animals."
Intact human beings should know better than cats but they often don't. This passage describes with remarkable accuracy what two generations of vicious totalitarian zero-sum politics have done to the originally weak and those made weak by circumstance in Ethiopia.

When discussion of politics is a matter of death, betrayal, bribery, submission, intrigue, obsessive schadenfreude, priviledge and insincerity in a world of enforced lies it is no wonder that the morality and culture of cadres spreads like a disease or is kept alive abroad like a cherished tradition.

The opposition leaders in prison, all those in prison camps and millions all over the country have had enough of that essentially corrupt culture of just getting along with power for the sake of flattery, money, property or the simple feeble empowerment of not being in the line of fire.

Andrei Sakharov put it best:
Homo Sovieticus is like the prostitute who believes that all women are whores because she is. Soviet man believes that the whole world is divided into parties and that every man is a member of one party or another, and that there is no real honesty. No one stands for the truth. And if anyone says he is above Party and is trying to speak the truth alone, he is lying.
Like we already said, the least we can do is write.

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