Saturday, February 10, 2007


So here I am, back at it and with no idea of where it’s going to go or even if it will at all. (That was a real vote of self-confidence, wasn’t it?)

Since I have been away for a while, I thought I’d ease back in by rehashing some thoughts from when I first started this blog, the better to give some idea of what can be expected here.

In my very first post, I said I was finally moved to start a blog after a phone conversation with a friend
in which the morass in Iraq came up. As such conversations do, this one then veered off in several related directions at once, all revolving around a core of our mutual distaste for George Bush. After a few minutes, my friend sighed and said there was no point getting all worked up about it.

"Yes, there is," I replied. "The truth is, my hope is nearly gone. My anger is the only thing that keeps me going."

So now I have an outlet to express that anger, to discuss what I'm angry about, why I'm angry, and, in my calmer moments, to try to rediscover that hope and offer a different vision of what we as a people, a nation, a culture, might do, might be, might become.
I don’t know how well I succeeded in that latter part, perhaps I’ll do better this time around. It is, in any event, one of the goals. Others include posting on a regular basis (although not necessarily every single day) and writing with enough flair and/or style as to make this blog a good read even when the subject matter is depressing or the anger quotient is high.

In my posts I try to provide enough information so that no one has to actually go to the linked article to understand what I’m talking about. (I get irritated with posts that consist of something like “Oy!” with a link.) At the same time, I try to avoid posts that are essentially just a long quote from another source: If I have nothing to add or contribute, I might as well just link to it with the comment “This is an interesting article on such-and-such.”

Something else I try to avoid is spending a lot of time covering particular items that I think are already being adequately covered in the well-traveled blogs. Again, if I don’t see where I’m actually contributing anything in the way of information or analysis or commentary, why do it? On the other hand, I think at times in the past I have been a source on issues that were not getting enough attention from the most popular blogs, which often enough are too wrapped up in presidential or congressional politicking or some back-and-forth snipe-fest with some conservative writer. I hope to maintain a broad enough view that things that are not immediately relevant to party politics or even the US as a whole do not escape notice. Or maybe that would be better phrased as things that should be relevant but are not necessarily seen as such. Or wait, even better - things that should be relevant to us because of our humanity, not because of our nationality.

Which brings up the question of attitude, of the political orientation you can expect to find here. The subheading of the blog refers to a “nonviolent, radical Left perspective.” (Which should at least do away with any wingers responding to some post by declaring “your view is laid bare for all to see” or some such crap like it was some deep secret that they have brilliantly uncovered.) To flesh that out a bit, I’ll say that
I am, in many ways, a child of "the 60s," having come to political awareness during that brief (and, some would have it, mythical) time marked at one end by the Sgt. Pepper summer and at the other by Altamont - or, politically, by Flower Power and the Days of Rage. Like most (at least male) members of my generation, it was Vietnam that initially drew me beyond vague "concern" into concrete involvement: Even for those of us "safe" with draft deferments, the war was always there, swirling around us like a fog, tugging at us like an undertow, threading in and out of our lives/futures/consciousnesses, ignored only by being repressed. And each "answer" our government offered to the whens, wherefores, and, most importantly, whys of the war seemed to raise at least two new questions.

I had been to that time what I now call a "right wing liberal," that species of American political animal that's clearly liberal on domestic issues and clearly conservative on foreign policy, a type whose philosophy I later summed up as "hooray for justice, beauty, truth, and Kill Commies." But increasing alienation as the war dragged on amid repeated promises that it was, really, already over and mounting evidence of what the governments we supported in South Vietnam were really like eventually prompted me to - very shyly - attend a meeting of a local peace group. That was, if memory serves, in the fall of 1968.

You can relax; it's over now. I've no intention of inflicting my autobiography on you.
But as I said at the time, “knowing the roots of my involvement in the movement may help to explain where I've wound up. ... I am a democratic socialist-feminist with an anarchist bent, a civil liberties absolutist, an environmental advocate who generally agrees with the ecological basis (but despairs at the politics) of bioregionalism, and, at the heart of it all, by both intellectual conviction and moral compulsion, a radical pacifist.”
In doing this column I'll be guided by four editorial principles:

1) "To thine own self be true." (Shakespeare)
2) "The US isn't the worst - but it is the biggest." (Joan Baez)
3) "Sometimes a bit of humor contains more inner truth than the most serious seriousness." (Aron Nimzovich)
4) "No one but no one, no matter their ideology, political perspective, or status as 'left' or 'right,' 'revolutionary' or 'counter-revolutionary' can be by that reason exempt from either criticism or praise." (me)
Welcome to Lotus, Take II.

Footnote: One addition to the what I am list: A few years ago, a co-worker plopped down on the breakroom couch next to me and grinningly asked “Did you used to be a hippie?”

I gave him my best glare and said “What do you mean - used to be?”

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