From email@example.com Mon Feb 14 12:54:07 2000
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 23:04:24 -0600 (CST)
From: Michael Eisenscher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: On the Decline of Civilization in the Name of Its Progress
This is from Charles Buffalo's site, an article written by our friend and subscriber, Richard Manning in 1994:
EXPATRIATE LETTERS ©
Thank you for the London ‘Daily Mail’ article describing the spiritual regression and corruption at the heart of the UK. Certainly UK is not alone but it does seem the Anglo-American ethos is leading the West in this latest decline and fall of what we've egocentrically labeled advanced civilization. Actually Robert Louis Stevenson quite aptly and succinctly summed up Western ways over a century ago,
OUR CIVILIZATION IS A DINGY UNGENTLEMANLY BUSINESS; IT DROPS SO MUCH OUT OF A MAN.
And within the two hundred years or so before Stevenson tried out America, many native Chiefs of powerful tribes commented upon European claims of cultural superiority : in 1744 the Iroquois - who in the 1470's formed the first democracy in the Americas, The Five Nations, a matriarchal society—(political principles of which were used by America's founding fathers) refused invitations to send more of their braves to the famous William and Mary College, with these words,
...they were instructed in all your Sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad Runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods ...neither fit for Hunters, Warriors nor Counsellors, they were totally good for nothing.... We are, however, not the least oblig'd by your kind Offer... and to show our grateful Sense of it, if the Gentlemen of Virginia will send us a Dozen of their Sons, we will take Care of their Education, instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them.
And Adario a 17th century Huron chief who fought in Frontenac's
War (1689-97), having a reputation for bravery, sagacity, diplomacy
and peacemaking, noted his wide travels with Europeans,
been to France, New York and Quebec, where I studied the Customs and
Doctrines of the English and French. Then when Baron de Lahontan,
explorer and Lord Lieutenant of the French colony in Newfoundland,
explained to Adario that without punishing the wicked and rewarding
the good, murder and robbery would spread everywhere and the white man
would soon be the most miserable people upon the earth..., Adario
answered with his interpretation and understanding of the white
Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love? Why will you destroy us who supply you with food? What can you get by war? We can hide our provisions and run into the woods; then you will starve for wronging your friends. Why are you jealous of us? Take away your guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy, or you may all die in the same manner.
And the wise spiritual leader Chief Red Jacket said in 1824 of the Christian moral doctrines,
The white people were not content with the wrongs they had done the Indian, but wanted to cram their doctrines down their throats. They do us no good. If they (doctrines) are not useful to the white people and do them no good, why do they send them among the Indians? The white men are surely bad enough to need the labor of everyone who can make them better... we believe they make their book talk to suit themselves... the black coats talk to the Great Spirit and ask for light that we may see as they do... when they are blind themselves and quarrel about the light that guides them... They tell us to work and raise corn; they do nothing themselves and would starve to death if someone did not feed them, why do they beg from us and from the white people? The Red men knew nothing of (this) trouble until it came from the white men; as soon as they crossed the ocean they wanted our country, and in return have always been ready to teach us to quarrel about their religion.
And the renowned Teton Sioux warrior Sitting Bull summed up the white man's economics (shortly before guards murdered him),
...the love of possession is a disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break but the poor may not. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule... they claim our land..., to deface our mother with their buildings and their refuse.
And other chiefs added about the white men,
... they lie, steal and destroy..., they are not men, they have no honesty...; The spirit of the land hates them, everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore.
Anyway, the eloquence and prescience of sundry other Indian observations have been now noted by historians and well proven by clear evidence in the cities of the US; significantly, these maladies are spreading. The Indians principally blamed the White man's bad faith on his hypocritical religious teaching and his unjust laws, both elements UK and the US share in common. Now, after the Reagan/Thatcher love affair, UK seems to be copying all the worst of Amerika. Of course, John, you'll never match the US Savings and Loan scams, 500 billion $ being too hefty a fraud for UK; or for the Channel Islands to wash as thoroughly as the Cayman Islands and Panama. And who can match that con-job called the Gulf War? ...rescuing America's biggest arms buyer and PAC contributor, the Saudis, while destroying and using-up more armaments, had the Japanese coughing all the way to the bank. A war to support the US defense industry and oil profits, paid for by other countries ...and, lo and behold, blessed by our holy Chaplains and ignored by our cowardly journalists, it ended the ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ ...Bush said so, so it must be true. UK could never pull-off that level trick, even in the Falklands ‘crisis'. America killed some 300,000 people and made a profit on the deal, all while believing they were rescuing a country. As Bush's contributors, friends and sons went out the banks’ back doors.
A more contemporary man of comparative cultures and Letters, of great
and humane insight, the First World War badly wounded, writer/poet
Robert Graves (who lived much of his later life between a Mallorcan
backwater and Oxford) said of our violence to each other, ...our wars
holocausts of young men.
So, you are right, John, on your telephone comments today regarding American v. Western v. Oriental cultures; especially that 1993 comparison between 58 gun deaths in all of UK and over 53,000 in the USA). Of course there is much further history—and others like Hesse, Malraux and Huxley—to support a special Asian spirit (from which American Indian spiritualism began) : one of fatalism, of calmness and unconcern for the worldly pursuits keeping most men chained to mere objects; a value system from which nature guards a smile and security in one's spirit..., regardless of changing outward conditions. It is these same oriental values which have allowed such a gypsy as I to maintain my soul's balance while escaping from Amerika these twenty-six years : a most interesting and learning Odyssey after the CIA ejecting me from our war in Vietnam. Fortunately, though, the gods did not finally support America's ego invasion of the East as Zeus did the Acheans of Troy. So my path, unlike Odysseus, was wisely not back to the West but away from my mythical suitors of false nurturing, away from an emasculating economic system, away from an ethos of superiority : thusly, my expatriatism. Stevenson, wiser than Paris in culture if not women, would understand.
Or as another Vet-Poet, Al Hubbard, wounded in the war, and by America, in Vietnam, concluded :
Before the napalm-scorched earth
consumes the blood
mothers on the run.
See what you've become,
There are some fine people in the USA but the spiritually and
physically unhealthy system condemns many to a deadening pragmatism,
defined by a vacuous ratiocination in pursuit of the
The USA is a country founded and created on basically the same
genocide, lies, frauds, greed and Christian hypocrisy which also
planned and perpetrated the terrorizing of Indochina and other
countries. So, it's an old, evil penumbra hanging over our heads,
with people TV star-gazing as their institutions and civility are
debased further and further.
Much life here concerns today and tomorrow, the future being the next quarter, finally only spiritualized by fears for individual heavenly salvation. The past only goes as far back as sentimental acts and nostalgia, recent emotions and past birthday parties, with history considered the last quarterly statistics. So, for instance, most Americans have little knowledge or caring for the fact that THEIR system paid for, caused and/or directed the murder of at least 6,000,000 Indochinese from 1945 to 1985. That's a heavy Karma to carry, to pass to your children, even for a people who ignore history..., their leaders distract them by creating new enemies, left and right, like Castro, Allande, Noriega, Sandanistas, Khomeni, Saddam, etc., to keep narcissist and aggressive public minds otherwise preoccupied.
Sad and depressing naivete, yes? Except Alexis de Tocqueville warned us sharply over 150 years ago and de Saint-Exupery achieved a more jocular, just as realistic, rendition of poor Western values in one of my favorite short stories, The Little Prince. But it's hard to hear wise men when people are promised a heavenly democracy on earth and Paradise afterwards merely for saluting their President now and their divinities in myth, ...regardless of how stupidly and malevolently these icons perform.
Obviously, many have justly questioned what has happened to America post WW II as the Vietnam vet Hubbard did. If we're nostalgic for a vision of a happier, less violent, more virtuous frontier model, that sentiment which periodically overcomes American reminiscences and good sense, we can elect more men like Reagan and Bush, dreaming their way through presidencies with secret programs, shell companies and numbered Swiss accounts while their brain-controllers run the country by malfeasance and defalcations of hundreds of billions of dollars : into Guinness record-level criminality and debt, into a ubiquitously English style class structure of have and have-nots.
We thusly dream away the reality before our eyes, partially by disregarding foreign cultures and peoples we conclude are inferiors: like Native Americans commenting on Western morals and ethics, and Ho Chi Minh's petitioning Roosevelt in 1943 to stop the French colonialists returning to Vietnam, and Chinese and Cuban revolutionaries asking for help against their corrupt dictators. But if we wish, a bit longer perhaps, to continue forgetting our historical racism and disregard those lessons, at least let's consider the observations of one of our most intelligent, perceptive founding statesmen, Ben Franklin. What he said on May 9, 1753 reflected those Indian views down into America's present institutional pathologies and violent way of life. Might it not give us a true, real hard clue as to what is wrong with America today?:
Benjamin Franklin wondered how it was that,
... when an Indian Child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and takes one Indian Ramble with them, there is no perswading him ever to return. [But] when white persons of either sex have been taken prisoners by the Indians, and lived awhile among them, tho ransomed by their Friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a Short time they become disgusted with our manner of life, and the care and pains that are necessary to support it, and take the first good Opportunity of escaping again to he Woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them.
Might we compare what we did to the Native Americans, with how five-foot browned-skinned slanty-eyed skinny men in black pajamas and tire sandals—from a tropical cottage-industry agrarian non-materialist country with no stock exchange few engineers and no psychiatrists, family and nature loving rather than feudally corporate controlled—ran down never-ending malaria infested jungle trails popping fish-soaked rice balls, without drugs, prostitutes, movies, R & R, PXs..., just how did runty pagans like that actually beat Admiral Perry's blond, blue-eyed, weight-lifting giants?—that same Perry progeny who heroically beat the entire Japanese Imperial Army out of its East-Asian Co-prosperity Sphere adventure—impossibly grandiose godly giants beaten by mere unbaptized Vietnamese? Christians loving life beaten by Heathens devaluing life? Perhaps corruption explains both events.
Japanese tourists especially will love that history and the accompanying healthy food, natural beauty and, of course, the most delicately curved females in Asia. And will the females be relieved from being kindly polite after 120 years of patronized kicking by large, often gross, smelly-perspiring white men fantasizing about subservient brown delicacies? Or will the Japanese continue to fail to learn they've copied Western values too mechanically and meticulously? ...therefore continue treating fellow Asians with attitudes of condescending superiority and suppressed violence? Or will Hirohito's grandsons truly become brotherly co-conspirators in Co-Prosperity to finally put the white man in his place in the sun? Asia for the Asians! Finally? The Japanese won, finally?
Attuned to all this is an excellent six page Tokyo magazine article
The New Masculine, an erudite summary, by a lawyer,
non-the-less, named Kimbrell on the unhealthy, hypocritical, unhappy
and unnatural status into which Western religions, economics and
politics (Christ, Adam Smith and John Wayne) have chained the modern
male. And on the negative oppressions which thereby descend upon women
and children. My fax is in my computer so it must be sent by
post. Sorry you had to try faxing me several times, usually my modem
works properly if its given five minutes advance notice to prepare
itself for fresh insights.
In Democracy in America (1839) historian Count Alexis de Tocqueville, after travelling extensively throughout America studying its institutions, noted that he knew of no other country where there was so much talk of God, where there were so many churches and yet where there was so little true religion to be found. And, he added, where people valued money so highly. Could his observations still be so relevant, right into the Vietnam era?, or is America's ‘loss' over there simply attributable to Eisenhower's ignored warning about our Military-Industrial Complex? Is that warning now home to haunt us?.... Or, maybe, have we met face-to-face a much greater ignorance than the so-called Pagan societies ever possessed, that primary foundation of our Military Industrial. and Intelligence evils—our worst possible enemy : an Un-godly A-religious Materialistic Hubris. Is this, our society's ignored enemy, The Enemy. Is it US?
John, maybe Rousseau's commiserations with the Natives did have more merit than we've been led to believe, more than Cartesian dualism. In any event, and meanwhile to all that, reflect also on any cooperative ideas for activities in Asia. They'll be seriously, loyally considered as I'm not going back to security consulting, and have thought about returning to some aspect of my other experience, Tourist projects. No doubt Indochina will become the next ‘IN’ location, particularly for the Japanese who will be curious to learn just how insignificant, colonized yellow-raced men managed to dramatically and decisively beat Europe's greatest cultural Ego in Indochina War I and the World's greatest economic & ideological Ego in Indochina Wars I and II.
And Etsu-shi's Japanese half also prefers to return to the Orient, though not necessarily Japan. As noted, this morning on the way to school we were discussing where to go, and just how much longer we can take it in the USA. Though he has tested as a Gifted Child (top one-percent of US students), and physically is rapidly becoming another Bruce Lee as he continues his Karate training..., his soul has the spiritual values of a Tai Chi Chuan adherent—therefore feeling estranged from high school's penchant for directing students NOT towards being culturally educated humans but towards money, another cog in a military based industrial feudalism. Such school objectives and the relative values of most of his teenage friends reflect the social ethos of American society. Clearly it is American values defining negative or vacuous adulthood roles which hold little interest for him.
It's amazing considering the many reputable universities (getting richer and richer), with sophisticated, intelligent and open-minded auras hanging heavily over them, just how much discontent, confusion, ignorance and soul-searching one can see and feel around here, ...needless to mention savage places like NYC, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, et. al. So many cities in America are clearly sad places, inundated with negative vibes, ubiquitous mistrust and selfish actions. Paradoxically the ideals are still present in the religious and political creeds, constantly verbalized as de Tocqueville noted, but the deeds fall far short. A narcissist competition for individual material and spiritual possessions distorts the souls, as our commonweal fades into the subconscious—or, rather, remains beclouded to the bewitched majority as they anxiously anticipate their personal god's promised heavenly salvation.
As possessions and worry accumulate so does insidious propaganda, selfishness or cowardice control many communicators. From obsequious lawyers to insipid moralists to tenured teachers and salesmen to ubiquitous security forces and agencies (our dead civilian army, replaced by a mercenary military), everywhere : weak apparatchik creating and enforcing increasing rules and statutes defining the social ‘good’ by Heavenly creeds and legal punishments. Such is how America defines and disciplines itself while unequaled mistrust and fear degrade personal responsibility and community. Adario, and others, accurately described the planting of a hypocritical, sick 17th century European morality, and since then an historical record of unparralled criminality bears witness to the fruit harvested.
Good to have your thoughts. Sorry to return a didactic monologue on contemporary deceptions in the Land of the Big PX. But beware! Now that American righteousness has ‘defeated’ Soviet evil there is no devil to clearly question Abraham's savage covenant, particularly that neo covenant between God and America's Capitalism. Creeds, the ideal, still rings loud and clear from Wall Street to Washington, bounced off every Church. But Amerikan goodness, as measured by real deeds, is also spreading. As far away as Russia.
As always, best regards and hope to be seeing you soon, richard Cambridge, 1994 (c) r.t. manning