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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Buffaloes and Flies in the South China Sea

As published at OpEd News, Smirking Chimp, Unz Review, CounterCurrents, LewRockwell and Information Clearing House, 6/4/15:

Ignorance is renewed with each newborn, and by the time any man figures out anything, he can almost feel the mortician leaning over his stiff face. Though all lessons are embalmed within history, few care to explore that infinite corpse. Lewis Mumford, “So far from being overwhelmed by the accumulations of history, the fact is that mankind has never consciously carried enough of its past along with it. Hence a tendency to stereotype a few sorry moments of the past, instead of perpetually re-thinking it, re-valuating it, re-living it in the mind.”

Far from learning from history, people tend to distort it to their own ends, and thus during the last commemoration of Russia’s defeat of Germany in World War II, many commentators conveniently forgot that those two countries had collaborated to start the war in the first place. After the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, while Soviet Russia poured troops into Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the eastern portion of Romania. Russians massacred 22,000 Poles at Katyn alone, imprisoned 100,000 and deported 1,200,000 to Siberia, Kazakhstan and other places within the Soviet Union. More than half would die.

In the Polish city of Brest-Litovsk, conquering German and Russian troops paraded together on September 22, 1939. On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded Russia itself, however, thus ending that evil alliance. Working from London, what’s left of the Polish government arranged for its citizens in Siberia to be transferred to British controlled Iran, and from there, many of the surviving Polish children could finally consign to posterity their horrific experiences of the Russian Socialist Paradise. In 1981, Irena and Jan Tomasz Gross published a selection of these accounts in their book, War Through Children’s Eyes. Here are three:

PGC/Box 119
TADEUSZ S. Born 1927
Wilejka county
Wilno voivodeship

When the Soviets invaded us Mommy became frightened daddy was taken into captivity after a sickness lasting a month my mother died When they had made themselves at home in Poland they began to destroy statues crosses and they ordered the people to pray to the rifle because that is also a tool of death. on February 10 1940 at 2 in the morning they came to our apartment and they took us at the point of a rifle they took us without any reason and took us to Russia in the train it was crowded cold people were dying from hunger and cold. at the settlement we worked in the mines 12 hours a day at the mines there was water the clothes we had all rotted in a week after a 12-hour workday we had to stand in line another 12 barefoot in the cold. in the barracks there were bedbugs cockroaches and vermin of all sorts the stoves were busted. After such work people turned into skeletons and when we got the amnesty the people scattered to various places and I with my family went to a kolkhoz at the kolkhoz we worked day and night because it was very hot they gave us practically no food only what we could gather in the fields. with such a diet my brother died with no one to bury him so I buried him myself without a coffin even without a suit because we had only one for the two of us. after such suffering we escaped with my sister because daddy went into the Polish army which was forming then we walked for 200 kilometers on foot through the mountains of course barefoot over sharp stones in 40 degree [Celcius] heat and without water. At the station as we waited for a train we were robbed of everything so that all we had left was a can where there had been milk which we found in the garbage and which we used as a drinking cup.

Baranowicze county
Nowogrod voivodeship

My Life in Russia

We were deported to Russia on February 10, 1940. When we arrived we were given very poor housing. There were many bedbugs, lice, and fleas. After a few days they sent the children to school and the older people to work. Children were forced to go to school, and whoever refused was imprisoned in the bathhouse and denied food. When we first got to school we were mocked and beaten—if a Pole said there was a God he was beaten up. Father had to work very hard to earn enough to support the whole family, and not only my father but so did all the Poles who were deported to Russia. For two years we lived in that awful, poor, stupid Russia. After two years the Poles started leaving Russia. Polish people had to get a pass to leave Russia. The trip South was awful. People died of hunger in the train cars and their corpses were thrown out the window along the way. We came to Vologda and were issued food ration cards and bread for the trip. My father was walking toward the car with his bread when a prisoner tried to steal his bread. Fortunately, the police arrested the prisoner and took him away. They would throw the corpses out of the cars and the train would grind the bodies apart on the tracks. From Vologda we left to Chkalov. There, the Polish outpost gave us food and we went all the way to the harbor in pahlevi. The end.

PGC/Box 120
Baranowicze county
Nowogrod voivodeship

It took place in February. The Russians came and did a house search. They were looking for weapons. They took us to the station in country wagons. There were very many people in our freight car. It was cramped and stuffy. When the train started we cried that we would never see our home again. We traveled for four days and nights. They didn't give food we used snow to make water. In Siberia the barracks were cramped again. I was going to school. They taught us that there was not God. Once I spoke up in Polish and our teacher sent me to the supervisor and he yelled at me. They drilled two holes in the ceiling. The commander would say into one: "Boh, Boh daj pieroh" [God, God, give a dumpling] and nothing would happen. To the other hole he said: Soviet, Soviet daj kanfiet [Soviet, Soviet, give a candy] and candies would fall down. He would laugh that God gave nothing. The Polish children ran away. Dad died of hunger. He swelled up. They wrapped him up in a sheet and threw him into the ground. My brother didn't have shoes and didn't go to work they took him to prison for two months. Over thirty people died at the settlement. We would stand on a line for bread from evening till morning. More than once we didn't have bread for two days in a row. We waited for our pay for a long time, because the paymaster wasn't there and there was nothing to buy bread with. At first we sold clothes in Russian villages to get bread, but then we ran out of clothes.

Grade 2B.
I am 13.

Poland was occupied by both Germans and Russians, then just Germans, then just Russians. To a Pole, this plot is all too familiar, for in 1772, Germans and Russians also carved up Poland. Swallowed up by Tsarist Russia, Prussia and Hapsburg Austria, Poland would not regain independence for 123 years. With such a history, Poles are understandably leery of Russia, but according to Russian Andre Vltchek, a prominent voice among the American left, Poles and other Eastern Europeans are nothing but ingrates for turning their backs on Russia, “Many countries that Russia had liberated, betrayed her in the most vulgar manner […] Czechs and Poles desecrated monuments to its soldiers.”

When the Soviet Union collapsed, “the oppressed of the world lost their most powerful guardian,” according to Vltchek, and “‘Russian’ is not only a nationality; it is a verb. It means: to stand against oppression, against Western imperialism, to be building bridges between the countries that are resisting Western imperialist terror.” Think about that for a minute, Russian as a verb meaning to liberate all of the world’s oppressed. Such evangelical fervor is matched only by the American rhetoric of being the shining city on a hill for all of mankind.

Just as each man must look out for number one, so must each nation, and each will disguise its ugliest, most selfish moments with twisted self justification, if not lofty, altruistic language. No one ever invades, massacres or rapes, but intervenes, rescues or most reluctantly reacts in self defense. No one destroys another culture, but only saves it from itself. Had Poland been more dominant than Russia, it might have been the one to kick its neighbor around. From 1605 until 1618, Polish troops made several forays into Russia and even occupied Moscow for two years. A teenaged Polish prince was declared Tsar. When Polish troops swarmed into Smolensk after a 20-month siege, 3,000 Russian soldiers blew themselves up in its cathedral to avoid capture.

While laying waste to much of Asia during World War II, Japan created the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Like other murderous and plundering nations before and since, Japan depicted itself as a savior, but instead of rescuing the other yellow peoples from colonial whites, it killed, starved, tortured and raped them. Beware, I say, of all countries blaring a messianic mission, for beneath their uplifting banner of universal brotherhood, freedom, democracy or international socialism, etc., one will find a rapist of the first order.

Never colonized by whites, Japan even defeated Russia in 1905, so it did serve as a model in East Asia. Many Chinese and Vietnamese nationalists went to Japan to study. A major funder of Japan’s war against Russia was Jacob Schiff, a Jewish banker in New York, and Schiff was also a patron of Leon Trotsky. Hating how Tsarist Russia treated Jews, Schiff was willing to do anything to destroy it. Never leave out race as a factor, for though often disguised, it colors all human actions. The only ones who insist that race doesn’t exist are either so racially smug or so racially threatened, though in the second case, they’re hysterically lying.

When Jews had no homeland, many of them spoke of universal brotherhood and such, but as soon as they had Israel, they started to act as tribally and racist as everybody else. Tribalism or nationalism is still the dominant factor in war and politics, and not ideology, but within this, you also have greedy individuals who are just looting and hoarding for themselves. As soon as the Vietnam War was over, the Vietnamese fought Cambodia then China, two foes they’d gone to war against repeatedly. It didn’t matter that they were all “Communist” on paper. There is no universal anything, just thousands of tribes and hundreds of nations trying to survive. The Vietnamese don’t care for International Communism any more than the Amish or the Jews.

The new rising power in Asia is not Japan but China, and to her citizens, the Middle Kingdom is only regaining her rightful place on the world stage. After being misruled by the feeble Qing Dynasty, drugged and pillaged by the British, carved up by other Western powers and Japan, raped by Japan then subjected to decades of terror by Mao and his gang, the mainland Chinese are finally allowed to catch up with their overseas brethren. With their intelligence, diligence and commercial prowess, the Chinese can succeed anywhere when not held back by an asphyxiating system.

Writing in 1911, Edward Alsworth Ross observed, “It is rash […] to take the observed sterility of the Celestial mind during the period of intercourse with the West as proof of race deficiency. Chinese culture is undergoing a breaking-up process which will release powerful individualities from the spell of the past and of numbers, and stimulate them to high personal achievement. In the Malay States, where the Chinese escape the lifeless atmosphere and the confining social organization of their own land, their ingenuity is already such that unprejudiced white men have come to regard them as our intellectual peers.”

Feeling ever more confident, China is ready to shove a weakening United States from its own back yard, and that’s why it’s laying claim to an increasing portion of the Western Pacific. Doing so, it has also come into conflict with Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Gaining access to oil, natural gas and fishing rights has been cited as the rationale for China’s behavior, but the Chinese are also keenly aware that those who control sea lanes control energy supplies, and the United States is still the preeminent naval power. With its ability to disrupt shipping through the Strait of Hormuz or Malacca, the US can certainly cripple any adversary. To gain leverage of its own, China is building a canal in Nicaragua to connect the Pacific with Atlantic, and a Chinese company is also managing the container terminals at both ends of the American-built Panama Canal.

Most opponents of the American Empire are cheering for China in the South China Sea faceoff, but Vietnam, the only country to have fought and defeated outright this empire, is forging closer military ties with the United States, all because of China. To a Vietnamese, the white man will come and go, but China is an eternal shadow menacing his identity and existence. From 111BC to 938AD, China occupied Vietnam almost continuously, with only two breaks, of three and 58 years. To gain final independence, Vietnam defeated China in 938 at the Battle of Bach Dang. After planting steel tipped stakes in the river, the Vietnamese lured Chinese boats over this watery trap, and at low tide, these boats were pierced and their soldiers killed. In 1288, the Vietnamese repeated the same trick, at the same river, to vanquish the Mongols. One ignores history at one’s peril.

Ngo Quyen and Tran Hung Dao were the leaders of those two battles, and there is hardly a Vietnamese town without streets and schools named after them, and by the Saigon River, there’s a statue of Tran Hung Dao. Every so often, I’m harranged by a Westerner about my flawed reading of Vietnamese history, though his knowledge of the subject doesn’t extend beyond Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnam War. Beyond the racial chauvinism that comes from several centuries of being on top of the world, this attitude also betrays the progressive bias that deems much the past as simply a repository of absurd habits, mistakes and superstitions. Mumford calls it “anti-historic nihilism.” Writing in 1944, he comments, “During the last generation, particularly in the United States, it became popular to say that only contemporary history was important; whereas the truth is that all of history is important because it is contemporary and nothing is perhaps more so than those hidden parts of the past that still survive without our being aware of their daily impact. He who knows only the events of the last generation or the last century knows less than nothing about what is actually happening now or what is about to take place.” In this age of geriatric sex change, Kim Kardashian’s bulbous buttocks and endless porn for everyone, including nuns and tots, your average American doesn’t remember what he half read half an hour ago, much less know anything from another century. He wouldn’t be surprised to be informed that this big, beautiful orb of polluted dirt he’s standing on is only a few thousand years old. Wow, that old?!

While most Americans are only becoming aware of the tension in the South China Sea, Vietnamese know that the trouble started in 1974, when China wrested control of the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam. In that one-day battle, 74 Vietnamese and 18 Chinese died. Though the US 7th Fleet was in the area, it did nothing to intervene and even refused to rescue South Vietnamese sailors. Nixon had visited China in 1972, and so Vietnam, all of it, was becoming superfluous to Uncle Sam. In 1988, China attacked a Vietnamese garrison in the Spratly Islands, and in that one-day battle, 64 Vietnamese and six Chinese died. In the last two years, Chinese ships have rammed Vietnamese ships just off the coast of Vietnam, and they have also rammed Filipino fishing boats or used water canons against them. Boarding some boats, the Chinese have tossed their catch overboard.

On November 1, 2014, there was an official ceremony in Hanoi to honor the 74 South Vietnamese soldiers who died defending the Paracel Islands, and this is remarkable because it’s the only time the Communist government has acknowledged its former South Vietnamese foes as nationalists in any way. As fate would have it, the colonel of the capsized ship is named Ngụy, the same word used to denigrate South Vietnamese troops as “fake.” Equally weird, the site of the most horrific American atrocity against Vietnamese civilians, Mỹ Lai, means “Half American.” The gods are sick.

Odds are high fighting will break out again in the South China Sea. Pushing weapons of mass destruction, Uncle Sam rakes in many coins from all crises, so he has billions of reasons to stoke the flame, but it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll risk his turkey neck when the missiles fly. Though America needs to defend its ebbing hegemony, its manufacturing base has been mostly relocated to China, and China is its biggest creditor. In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet clipped an American spy plane near Hainan Island, and its pilot, Wang Wei, was killed. Forced to land in Hainan, 24 Americans were kept for ten days, then released after the US agreed to a letter expressing “regret and sorrow.” A Chinese demand for a token million dollars in compensation was ignored. Hardly any American remembers this incident, but the Chinese haven’t forgotten, and the next time planes collide, expect a much bigger explosion. In 2014, a Chinese jet swerved within 30 feet of another American spy plane.

All sides in this brewing fiasco have reasons to act the way they are, and though each will cite law or logic to defend their actions, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, only what the winner, if any, can get away with. The Vietnamese have a saying, Nine men, ten opinions. And also, When buffaloes collide, flies die. While leaning militarily on an unreliable United States, East Asian countries continue to be integrated into China’s (and Russia’s) economic sphere. Perhaps they will take their losses and accept being lesser partners in this new world order. As a castrated ex champion, the United States might have to do the same. It’s a good bet, though, she won’t go down so quietly.



Dizzguzzded said...

Every sentence conveying crucial hidden history.
The Nazis and Soviets collaborated in the murder/torture/rape of tens of millions of peasants in eastern Europe. In the Ukraine alone it's estimated the engineered famines during the 1930s killed ten million by the historian Timothy D. Snyder in his study >Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin<.
The Mumford quote on the eternality of historical experience is outstanding.
So who was directing the collaboration of the exterminating Nazis and Soviets? Why did all those peasants have to die?'s all too sickeningly clear 'why' those peasants had to die.
So many holocaust narratives yet only one is ever examined, over, and over, and over, and over, again.

Linh Dinh said...

Thank you for your comment.

I've been so nauseated by Andre Vltchek's gross dishonesty, and it's sickening to read his commentary on Pol Pot and North Korea. Chomsky and Vltchek wrote a book together, and Vltchek is a darling of the American left. It's no wonder it has little credibility left.

Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: Your role (Mission) -- a very noble one -- is to inform, educate, enlighten and inspire people. In contrast, Andre Vltchek is one reason why Americans who might find themselves leaning toward Left or Progressive causes (and history) get turned off to politics altogether. Indeed, the "U.S won't go down easy" in its zeal for assuming total Asian power, and as you also wisely asserted, "Beware, I say, of all countries blaring a messianic message."

I did not know My Lai means "Half American," and indeed, "the gods are sick,"-- it's either that, Linh, or they're also "praying to rifles."

Thank you very much for the unforgettable gift of "War Through Children's Eyes." This past Christmas, knowing she had little opportunity to attend any school, I read mother-in-law Florence (87) a passage from "Document No. 33." Settled in Novograd, Zlota Gora, Wladyseaw M. wrote, "I went to school in Russia. The teacher Aleksandra Palovna always used to say: you must forget about Poland, you will never go back, only in Poland were you well but in the country you don't know, you were taught wrongly (we were almost all from the countryside or from settlements like me) there is no God, we Bolsheviks live without god and nobody took our country away from us as they did to you Poles. Sign up to be Soviet citizens and you will be better off, because only soviet tanks, locomotives, ships are strong and one should never even have the thought the enemy should come close to the frontiers."

Florence sighed, chuckled a little, and said, "Aleksandra (the teacher)would have made a good cabinet member for W. Bush's "No Child left Behind." This beautiful and wise lady always shies away from noticing when stinky Democrat "buffaloes collide," horse flies cling to them too... and I let Flo be. Thank you! .

Anonymous said...

you are just butt-hurt that China helped North Vietnam to win. your side lost
and because your folks were collaborators to the US imperialists,
they had to pack their shit and flee to the US. that is why u still hold a grudge.
the only dishonest one is you.
no matter, when the Chinese take over America, it will "lights out" for u.

one cockroach less.

Linh Dinh said...

Dear Anonymous,

I marvel at your fine, subtle thinking and deft usage of the English language.


Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: At my old job, I had a Branch Manager, a brainy tyrant, who successfully branded me a snitch, a coward, a slacker, and a thief. He seems to have a lot in common with "Anonymous" above, except for the fact that my Branch Manager could write better. Our country is crazier, deceived, and meaner than I can imagine, and I am completely comfortable and grateful for being hassled by MANY troubled know-it-alls who think they are "lights on" when they're actually "lights out."

To commemorate my Favorite Tyrant, I wrote a poem in his honor, titled "The Corporate Kapo" which long ago you placed on "Detainees."

Wish you good evening -- Hazleton or Bust!

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Chuck,

Sneering, juvenile hostility must feel empowering to these people, and there are so many of them.


Linh Dinh said...

A reader just emailed me below, and I'm sharing it to stress that the majority of my readers are smart and civil people, not illiterate louts who fling mud anonymously.

Hello Mr. Dinh,

What a terrific essay! I immediately read the other two you’ve penned for Lew, both excellent as well, and now I’ll order your novel. Alas, since I am about to leave Budapest your photos will have to wait until next week when I have time to really look at them closely.

I read history at university (Russian and European,) an increasingly vanishing subject. Consequently, your thoughtful essay today immediately won my heart.

All the best to you,



Anonymous said...

an ad hominen attack on me and the need to counter my accusations
with support letters by some fools. basically, you confirmed TWICE that
whatever i wrote is 100% truth.

love it.

Linh Dinh said...

Dear Anonymous,

Please keep talking so people can see more of your lovely character and temperament. You call people cockroaches and fools yet whine that you're being attacked ad hominen. Sadly, you are the perfect mascot for the putrefaction of American culture. Do keep talking.


Linh Dinh said...

An email:

Lenin said, Give me a child until age six and it is mine forever. In 1839 America began the public education system based on the Prussian model. The goal was to teach children how to obey authority and worship the State. We are all Lenin's children now. All conservative radio talk show hosts are propagandists for the State without knowing it. Each host will say, I am a student of History. But they are victims of what I call "institutional propaganda". They wouldn't know real History if it bit them.

Orwell feared that we would be ruled by what we hate; Huxley by what we love. Huxley was right.




Chuck Olroski said...

Very thoughtful email, Paul, especially the part about American public education (1839) being based upon the Prussian model. I actually know zilch about the "Prussian model," but it sounds quire regimented? However, as a bewildered parent since 1991, and an awed school bus driver now, I tend to think that U.S. public school students are currently on the Ritalin/Play Station model.
What do you think, Anonymous? F.Y.I., I've advocated victory for Jocelyn Elders masturbation classes in secondary schools, and lo & behold, conservative prudes shot Clinton's tower-of-power program down! Seriously, don't go away, Anonymous, this Blog is a "Big Tent" ..., so please let me know what you think, and don't let me down?

Also, Paul, I think the most successful Radio Talk Show hosts, both conservative & liberal, cunningly steer away from real history because telling truth would ground their careers into hamburger. Thank you very much, Paul!

Linh Dinh said...

Hi all,

A reader pointed out a factual mistake in my piece. I attributed Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, when in fact it happened six months before, as a result of the Munich Agreement. I feel pretty dumb about it, but it was an honest mistake. The wrong fact has been deleted.


Elizabeth said...

Linh: Oh, that poor baby anonymous. You were mean to him, and he cannot for the life of him figure out why.

Chuck: the Prussian model of education: it brought us degrees, deep hierarchies, kindergarten, discipline-discipline-discipline, emphasis on the useless, and products who would run out to a battlefield screaming "yah! yah! yah!" with no idea of why. Great stuff. It was quite instrumental in getting Germany unified and readying the way for the WWs. See any parallels? The Pentagon would like forced state preschool, someone informed me.

Linh, I was looking through your latest poetry collection for that one about the Fischer-Price baby seats that force the infants to stare at a screen. I got lost for a while. Care to pull up some relevant lines?

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I can't think of the poem. I've forgotten most of my poems, and can't even recall them in vague outlines.


x larry said...

excellent piece. i've wanted you to comment on vltchek for some time, for his feel good style has roped me in many times--he writes it seems as a russia/china/cuba propagandist, very over the top. but again, wanting to have SOME hope, he has sort of capitalized on that and won me over, especially regarding cuba, about which even tonight i mentioned his name (he wrote two or three very seductive articles about this paradise on earth within the past two years or so, read at the dread counterpunch). but also his pieces on indonesia i've paraphrased to many as they made me so sick.
in the end, it seems there is little hope for our insane, mean, lecherous, sadistic species. very sad, devastating.
i much appreciate your history lessons esp. regarding vietnam and the east.

x larry said...

also linh,
i wonder what your thoughts might be on wilhelm reich, who i mentioned to you a while back. his offer of hope for humanity is that back into pre history, with all of humanity (it is presumed) being matriarchal, war was unknown and life was a joy. since then, about seven or eight thousand years ago, mankind (though what's kind about it i can't see) has been diseased and sick and twisted, what reich calls the emotional plague.
i'm less of a reich enthusiast of late, as i see the pitfalls of being anyone's or any theory's enthusiast, and as people often strike me as so unloveable, myself included, that i can't fathom seeing it much differently. the only examples i've found of happy peoples that have survived into say the mid twentieth century are indeed tribal peoples--the trobriand islanders and the south american tribe written of in a childrearing book called the continuum concept are two examples. that book's author, by the way, seems to me someone one should be wary of. she was it seems very elitist, and was good friends with two brothers, goldsmith i think, who were or perhaps still are very powerful jews. once more i must wonder, what's the agenda?

Gary Corseri said...

An e-friend sent me your blog, "Buffaloes and Flies in the South China Sea." His tag line was: "An utterly depressing, cynical view of human history." With that sort of tag, and knowing enough of your work to know that it is invariably provocative and informative, with scintillating writing, I ferried onward.

I raced thru the article because it has a compelling momentum. Only fools would be unimpressed by the breadth of your knowledge of history and your insights into the foibles of human character. (I could race thru the first reading, because it is one of the few articles I'd feel good about saving to my "Favorites" for future, deeper reading.)

Briefly, about the comments: the rogue who whinnies his ad hominems, then signs off as "Anonymous" obviously deserves little or no attention.

More note to some of the issues you raise: "Mankind cannot stand too much reality," Eliot wrote, and your brief, but pointed, overview is bound to rankle quite a few! I very much agree with you and Mumford that past history is not dead history, that we are embroiled in history--and we've scant claim to awareness without that realization. And, of course, hypocrisy has been a major aspect of human history and human psychology going back to Cain and Abel or Cro Magnon (pick your metaphor). Gullibility also seems to be in our genes--for far too many-- and the combo of hypocrisy, gullibility, innate violence and territorialism has been combustible and lethal for generations.

Now, here's something to wonder about: Are we approaching a "singularity" (as futurologist Ray Kurzweil puts it)--a time so "singular" that it cannot be compared to any other in human history and can scarcely be imagined? (Kurzweil suggests this will take place around 2030-- a merger of homo habilis and his tools/machines/drones/androids/computers/smart phones/techno-world etc.)

How does this reality impact us now? What, if anything, can we do about it? Are there positive aspects about these coming changes--new developments in genetics, robotics, nano-tech?

Yeah, we have a long history of violence and stupidity. We also have a long history of some incredible people struggling against such.

Are there positive signs leading to a better world now? Global Climate Change impacts us all... and the fact that people everywhere can communicate about that on their computers or their smart phones also impacts us all. The fact that radical Socialist, female candidates were just elected mayors of Barcelona and Madrid Spain underlines the fact that we now have the ability to communicate person-to-person across the oceans and the continents as "we the people" have never had before.

I am not pollyannish. In fact, I'm rather pessimistic--based on past human history. Let us be aware, let us be informed about our past failings and gross misdeeds. Flies die when buffaloes collide, but fireflies may keep some small lights burning.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Daniel and Gary,

Many thanks for your thought provoking comments. It will take me a while to digest them.

Within my limits, I write what I can, and all I want to do is to offer a slightly different perspective on an issue. With this piece, my basic aim is to provide a larger context to what's happening in the South China Sea. Over at Information Clearing House, however, my piece has provoked almost no discussion but only a series of the most underhanded attacks on me as an American stooge and even CIA asset. I'm called a dim wit and a coward. Though the Russian government has confirmed several times that Russia did commit the Katyn Massacre in which 22,000 Poles died, a ICH reader mocked me for repeating "Cold War propaganda." Though I sometimes get my facts wrong, I never willfully ignore or distort them to make a political point, but I've seen people do it repeatedly even after they've been called out. Honor is a lost concept. A discussion in good faith is becoming extremely rare.

Irritated and saddened, I wrote this afternoon to Elizabeth Hayes, "Most Americans don't want a discussion, they just want to be right, so if you say anything that challenges their world view, they just ratchet up their rage. In this piece, I introduced a Vietnamese saying, Nine men, ten opinions, and I did it not just to point out that people disagree, but that the Vietnamese are realistic enough to realize this, and they've done it with humor. That said, there are plenty of insane Vietnamese dogmatists too."

Unless I'm misinterpreting you, Gary, I think you're suggesting that a new harmony is possible in the near future? Frankly, I just don't see it happening. The last century and a half has seen not just unprecedented warfare but also unmatched prosperity for many people across the globe, and that's why our population has exploded and we have so many toys and gadgets, such as this laptop I'm typing on right now. The age of oil is coming to a close, however, and other resources are also becoming scarce. In spite of all this talk about the US becoming the new Saudi Arabia, it is a net IMPORTER of oil, to the tune of 5 million barrels PER DAY, and this in spite of our lower industrial consumption, with most of our industries having been moved overseas. Fracking is a financial bubble that's being punctured. It's also an environmental disaster.

With resources being drawn down, people and countries will become increasingly savage towards each other. Resource wars will break out all over. In spite of all the trouble spots around the world, I see this moment as a calm before the storm. We will see many more refugees fleeing many more places in the years ahead.

It is interesting that as a handful of “smart cities” are being built around the world, many Americans are losing even the most basic modern necessities, such as running water and electricity. Many more don’t have internet service. Instead of smart cities proliferating, tent cities and darkened slums will become common, and as life gets harder, people will become angrier and nastier.


Linh Dinh said...

Elizabeth Hayes:

"For a while, freshman English was a place where students could get at least a little taste of how to argue with grace and rationality, but my boss last year decided there's no more room for that, that the kiddos are incapable. I don't think they are incapable: in some classes I could manage to zoom them up to speed in 15 weeks. Those are the ones who come up to hug me years later. Historically, basic western education proceeded via the trivium: grammar first, the manipulation of numbers and letters (or whatever); logic; then rhetoric, so people could discuss. It is said that in ancient Rome, to be freed, a slave had to first learn the trivium, because elsewise how could he participate as a citizen? Our schools fuck up the grammar (whole word and new math), don't touch logic much at all (they say math, but it does not transfer), and then expect people to do a little, very little, rhetoric. This, I think, is the root cause of the rank stupidity and brutality of which ye speak."


Gary Corseri said...

Thanks for the dialogue, Linh.

Yes, I agree with you: dialoguing/conversing this way is one of the great benefits of the Internet. It's a fine way to learn and to teach; to hone one's persuasive skills.

And, I agree-- it has its downside, too! Too many readers just want to take swipes and potshots; try to make themselves look good at the expense of the writer. They want to be "right" (correct), but not helpful. That often means taking one point out of a thoughtful essay, arguing that one point out of context; trying, by removing one nail, to tear down the whole edifice.

So... "G'don-you!" (as they say in Oz) for the "talk"!

I would like to clarify a question you raise here:

"Unless I'm misinterpreting you, Gary, I think you're suggesting that a new harmony is possible in the near future? Frankly, I just don't see it happening. The last century and a half has seen not just unprecedented warfare but also unmatched prosperity for many people across the globe, and that's why our population has exploded and we have so many toys and gadgets, such as this laptop I'm typing on right now. The age of oil is coming to a close, however, and other resources are also becoming scarce...."

I don't think a "new harmony" is possible in the "near" future. I think we're in for a lot of B.S. and an awful time. Especially in the U.S., where we've been riding on our laurels and other people's sweat and blood for centuries. As far as the longer-term future goes... who can say?

But, I do think this: we may be reaching that "critical mass" of one-world consciousness that makes implosions of existing structures and explosions into new universes of possibilities very credible outcomes. Our fossil-fuel universe will implode, Global Climate Change will impact and transform us all, and the techno-tools in our hands (and increasingly integrated with our bodies and minds) may help some of us to weather the coming tsunamis, to call out to others across this fractured blue marble so that we may find ways to heal ourselves and our world. And, out of that healing, we may take the best of what we have been and construct a more sensible and more humane humanity.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Gary,

For years, James Howard Kunstler and John Michael Greer have been arguing that a humanity that can survive the coming fiasco will rely on more primitive tools, not techno ones. They don't think our infrastructure will survive for techno tools to matter. Dmitri Orlov also thinks along this line.

The sphere of high tech will contract and, without the economy of scale, will eventually be unsustainable. Though technology connects, as it is doing now since I'm communicating with you, it also seperates me from my immediate environment, and many of us can spend hours, days, weeks or practically our whole lives divorced from our immediate neighborhood or hometown. Even the few who still walk are often plugged in to somewhere else.

When this alienation breaks down, when we're less appendages of machines and more our physical selves, we won't just kill each other as members of warbands but become more human, and in this inevitable development, I see hope. Yes, many of us will be butchered or even eaten, but others will regain their birthright of having a body that exists among other lovely, aggravating, soothing and stinking other bodies.


Gary Slabaugh said...

Great blog Linh. Thanks for your example

Linh Dinh said...

Many thanks, Gary. Sometimes I take kind words for granted, but after being called a stooge, lackey and CIA plant for the last two days, I sure appreciate some appreciation. Cheers!--Linh

x larry said...

i would add that people at their best are very cooperative and want to help, not hurt, others. i agree with elizabeth that education is the key--and with linh's quote from lenin. i was surprised to see a quote like that from him rather than, say, churchill or lincoln, but the capitalist west certainly uses this well known and awful fact for full spectrum dominance of its (the elite's) true enemy--the people. making them dumb as fuck and hateful, as well as obedient to and respectful of authority a la the prussian model (which is the same as the old english, french and american models to my knowledge, which foucault wrote of). but tv and education, with religion kept as strong as possible, these together do all the damage.
thank you

Linh Dinh said...

From Ben Franklin's "Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America":

"The Indian Men, when young, are Hunters and Warriors; when old, Counselors; for all their Government is by Counsel, or Advice, of the sages; there is no Force, there are no Prisons, no Officers to compel Obedience, or inflict punishment. Hence they generally study Oratory; the best speaker having the most Influence. The Indian Women till the Ground, dress the Food, nurse and bring up the Children, and preserve and hand down to posterity the Memory of Public Transactions. These Employments of Men and Women are accounted natural and honorable. Having few Artificial Wants, they have abundance of Leisure for Improvement by Conversation. Our laborious manner of Life, compared with theirs, they esteem slavish and base; and the Learning, on which we value ourselves, they regard as frivolous and useless. An instance of this occurred at the Treaty of Lancaster, in Pennsylvania, Anno 1744, between the Government of Virginia and the Six Nations. After the principal Business was settled, the commissioners from Virginia acquainted the Indians by a Speech, that there was at Williamsburg a College, with a Fund for Educating Indian Youth; and that, if the Six Nations would send down half a dozen of their sons to that College, the government would take Care that they should be well provided for, and instructed in all the Learning of the white People. It is one of the Indian Rules of Politeness not to answer a public Proposition the same day that it is made; they think it would be treating it as a light Matter; and that they show it Respect by taking time to consider it, as of a Matter important. They therefore deferred their Answer till the day following; when their Speaker began by expressing their deep Sense of the kindness of the Virginia Government, in making them that Offer; for we know, says he, that you highly esteem the kind of Learning taught in those Colleges, and that the Maintenance of our Young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, therefore, that you mean to do us good by your Proposal, and we thank you heartily. But who are wise, must know that different Nations have different Conceptions of things; and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our Ideas of this Kind of Education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some Experience of it: Several of our Young People were formerly brought up at the Colleges of the Northern Provinces; 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, unable to bear either Cold or Hunger, knew neither how to build a Cabin, take a Deer, or kill an Enemy, spoke our Language imperfectly; were therefore neither fit for Hunters, Warriors, or Counselors; they were totally good for nothing. We are however not the less obliged by your kind Offer, though we decline accepting it; and to show our grateful Sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their Sons, we will take great Care of their Education, instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them."


swindled said...

I can only confirm that in the Philippines there is rising anxiety over China's aggressive behavior, including its recent attempt to build artificial islands on coral reefs, with Benigno Aquino signing a deal with Japan to buy much-needed patrol vessels to strengthen its weak coast guard. As a sign of their low position on the global totem pole, this deal with Japan involved vendor financing (a Tokyo bank lent them the money to buy the boats)and there has been much talk on Philippine forums about how they were stronger militarily during Marcos' time--though, indeed, with a stronger US ally (and more shoes!)--and there is a rising sense of uncertainty with the 2016 elections approaching. Always a fraught and perilous, indeed, deadly time in the Philippines--a very bloody democracy even in the best of times. With all this fear in the air the new rising star has been Vice Mayor of Davao City Rodrigo Duterte, credited with cleaning up Mindanao's "murder capital" back in the aughts by means of extrajudicial killings committed by its so-called Davao Death Squad, making D.C. now one of the safest cities to visit in all of southeast Asia--according to the tourist agencies at least. This move to find a strong man is only natural, I suppose, but it doesn't seem to me that Rodrigo is really interested in the job, especially as he's passed power to his daughter, but I could be wrong. Beyond that, it's interesting to see Shinzo Abe loosening rules so as to militarily buttress its nearest allies in the East and South China seas, including Australia which seeks to buy its submarines. Mitsubishi and Kawasaki Heavy Industries are no doubt ramping-up production in anticipation of the coming blood bath and so of course it makes all the sense in the world for me to retire in Mindanao! Oh well. L.S.T.Y.D. p.s. Marxist ideology may be ultimately wrong-headed, but its always fun to goad those on the right with its quasi-communitarian principles ... and we could all use a little fun now and then, no?

Elizabeth said...

Linh, what a quote. It reveals just how corrupt and corrupting Anglo-Amerikan education has been from the start. They knew this, they were told clearly and respectfully, and look at what they did with that knowledge. I suppose shame is a damaging emotion.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Speaking of quotation, you yourself sent me this a few hours ago:

Doris Lessing stopped going to school at 15, but was an expert on the subject of schooling:

“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”


Linh Dinh said...

Hi swindled,

Many thanks for your report from the Philippines. It adds much to our understanding of what's happening in the region.

As for Marxism, it seems to attract many people who think strictly in black and white, with the enemies all those who disagree with them to any degree. Entire classes of people are also condemned with frothing vehemence. Many of them are misanthropes, basically.


Linh Dinh said...

Hi all,

Over at the Unz Review, the comments are a hundred times more sophisticated, nuanced, informative and instructive than what you will find at Information Clearing House, though ICH itself is an exellent daily gathering of political articles. Though I love Tom Feely of ICH, I'm disgusted by many of his readers.

At Unz Review, a commenter argued that China could not have occupied Vietnam for a thousand years, since there was no Vietnam in 111BC, period. I just responded:

To say that there was no Vietnam before the Chinese arrived is equivalent to saying there were no native nations in North America before whites came, or no native nations on the British Isles before the Romans landed. The reason why there’s no record of a Vietnamese nation before 111BC is because the Vietnamese had no written language, though they were sophisticated enough to make many bronze drums, the oldest of which is 2,700-years-old. The territory of these bronze drum making people was not confined to present day Vietnam, but that’s to be expected. In any case, when the Chinese discovered the Vietnamese, they called them 赤鬼, which translates as “Red Devils,” so clearly the Chinese saw these folks as much different, and vice versa. Rebellions against Chinese rule started immediately, with the most notable led by the Trưng Sisters. They defeated the Chinese in 40AD and ruled Vietnam for three years before being killed by the Chinese in battle. In the 5th Century Book of the Later Han, it is recorded that the Trưng Sisters were decapitated and their heads sent to China.

In 248AD, a 23-year-old woman, Lady Triệu, led a rebellion against the Chinese. As with the Trưng Sisters, her exploits became legendary. In The Birth of Vietnam, Keith W. Taylor writes:

“Chinese records do not mention Lady Trieu; our knowledge of her comes only from Vietnamese sources. From this it is evident that the events of 248 were remembered differently by the two sides. The Chinese only recorded their success in buying off certain rebel leaders with bribes and promises. The resistance led by Lady Trieu was for them simply a kind of stubborn barbarism that was wiped out as a matter of course and was of no historical interest. On the other hand, the Vietnamese remembered Lady Trieu’s uprising as the most important event of the time. Her leadership appealed to strong popular instincts. The traditional image of her as a remarkable yet human leader, throwing her yard-long breasts over her shoulders when going into battle astride an elephant, has been handed down from generation to generation. After Lady Trieu’s death, her spirit was worshipped by the Vietnamese. We owe our knowledge of her to the fact that she was remembered by the people.”

The stories of the Trưng Sisters and Lady Triệu is echoed by that of the Icenic Boudicca.

In sum, the Chinese saw the Vietnamese as Red Devils. When a 26-year-old Vietnamese general, Trần Bình Thông, was captured by the Chinese in 1285, he refused to yield any information by saying, “I’d rather be a devil of the Southern nation than a king of the Northern nation. Since I’m captured, there’s only death, why harass me with questions?” He was killed.


x larry said...

very interesting stuff, linh. all i'd read till your stuff was some random chinese histories, with no mention of vietnam as such but a few references to barbaric peoples to the south, which presumably would include tibetens, thais and others too. as with in europe, it seems the most barbaric of all have been the northern, not southern, tribes. i love the leadership by women, and seem to remember some stories of fighting women from the few books of the 'vietnam war' i read long ago at temple u. thanks again, and keep the stories and histories coming!

Linh Dinh said...

Yo x larry,

Yeah, man, these women kicked some serious asses! It's interesting that Boudicca has a very small presence in England. Since you live over there and may have a different take on her, do tell us what you know.

I'm still thinking about the abysmal idiocy and sheer viciousness of the Information Clearing House readers. People who are so enraged and unjust to those who are merely trying to communicate with them are prime fodder for demagogues.

Just yesterday, someone brought to my attention a 2012 article by Douglas Valentine, "Alexander Cockburn and the fantasy of the radical Left". This jibes with my own experience of that esteemed leftist webzine. So that's the American left for you. At the top, you have a few dozens dishonest and opportunistic bullies, while at the bottom, you have millions of ignorant and enraged little bullies.


x larry said...

very well put! i've yet to read the valentine article as i just woke up to piss and it's about five a.m. here. if it's what i think, then excellent. i would be half surprised as he writes for counterpunch. i wrote many an email to cockburn, esp re. 911 and his idiotic viewpoint. the only one he answered was an email about the atrocious grammar and spelling mistakes all over every article in counterpunch at the time.
i've read of boudicca in various histories but don't much remember said histories. there is a serious feminist in most british women, though. boudicca was i think a celt, while now people, though mixed, are mainly anglo saxon/ norman.
i'm still stuck in america, as i just returned from sw colorado and new mexico--sugar in all the food, gm everything--though super good. take it easy, d
ps--i've long admired valentine, esp his stuff on celebrity, and of course the cia and his editing of poetry.

x larry said...

i couldn't resist, i had to read the valentine article before returning to bed. wow! yet i'm sure he has published at cp since then, no? what he wrote, i will pat myself on the back, i wrote to cockburn himself in emails (i'll perhaps try to find them and send them on--he never responded of course)--that he was english, not irish, an elitist twat, etc. my blood boils--it's all coming back! valentine is excellent in articles like these, his disection of people and their motives is truly excellent. the one time i wrote to praise him, i asked a question or two i hoped he could clarify for me, but he wrote to say, sorry, no time. i forgive him. also, i love his penetrating insight about the cockburn, then st. clair, unwritten policy of 'never apologize, never explain'. i've written them before suggesting some sort of forum, some sort of letters to the editor section, to no response of course. cockburn, what an arrogant little public schoolboy! (i've called him as much to his face so to speak)

Linh Dinh said...

Over at Unz, I had explained that the Chinese called the Vietnamse "Red Devils," but a reader (A4) said I was wrong:

@Linh Dinh, You are totally wrong about this whole “Red Devil” thing. ( Xích Quỷ in Vietnamese, 赤鬼/Chi Gui in Chinese) . Kinh Dương Vương called his country ‘Red Devil”, which probably had a different connotation then.

I answered him:

No, I’m not totally wrong on this. Kinh Dương Vương is a legendary figure, and the Hùng Vương Dynasty is also mythical. Hùng Vương merely means “Brave King,” and there were supposedly 18 Hùng Vương Kings spanning 2,621 years. You do the math. It doesn’t make sense. None of the kings have proper names. They’re all called Hùng Vương, meaning “Brave King.” Such is the stuff of fables and legends.

Like I said, the Vietnamese had no written history before the Chinese came, and so the earliest Vietnamese individuals were recorded by the Chinese, as is the name 赤鬼, “Red Devils.” The Chinese tend to call foreigners devils, and so the Vietnamese were the red devils.

Vietnamese will claim they have 4,000 years of history, which is nonsense. They will also say that they descend from a dragon and a fairy that gave birth to 100 eggs that hatched into 100 boys.

Kinh Dương Vương supposedly ruled from 2879 to 2794 BC. The earliest surviving record of him dates from the 大越史記全書 (Complete Annals of Đại Việt), which was completed by Ngô Sĩ Liên in 1479AD, 4,273 years after the end of Kinh Dương Vương’s supposed reign. If you want to believe that, then I really don’t know what to say.

GJM said...

Linh, I posted a number of comments strongly supporting your stance on the ICH page -- and nearly every comment was set upon by other ICH posters, then DELETED and I was BANNED thereafter, from posting on ICH.

Linh Dinh said...


If I'm not mistaken, then you're "yahyouth." Your comments were by far the most insightful and composed, and for being so cordial and constructive, all the morons ganged up on you. With surprise, I noticed that Tom had deleted many of your comments, which I thought was some kind of confusion on his part, and now I find out he's banned you too. I don't know what's going on with him.

A few days ago, I sent Tom this message:

Hi Tom,

As much as I admire you and support what you're doing at Information Clearing House, I will not send you any more articles. Having been published there for several years, I thought I had established a rapport with your readers, but too many of my pieces are only greeted with derision and slanders. Although much of this hostility is generated by a single person commenting under a bunch of different pseudonyms, there are others who think just as lowly of me. With my "Buffaloes and Flies in the South China Sea," I was trying to provide a larger context to this escalating fiasco, and for my trouble, I was called a hater of Vietnam, a lackey of America, a CIA stooge, an ingratiating immigrant who hates his native country, an infantile Vietnamese patriot, a dim wit, a pretentious and narcissistic wordsmith, a dishonest manipulator who's been softening ICH readers with folksy Postcards just so he can slip in his propaganda for the American Empire... On and on, the most vicious comments poured in, and one commentator who attempted to defend me was promptly accused of being me in disguise!

My continued appearance at Information Clearing House, then, is clearly counter productive, not just for me but for you. Deformed and misread, my articles also aggravate a good portion of your readers, so I lose and you lose. By removing my ignorant, dishonest and annoying self, I’m yielding the forum to maninhavana, rgvrbyjy, manfrednoa, RubyRenea, arcus, CEMAL GUVEN ASTI and a bunch of others. They clearly have a much better grasp of this complex world than I do.

I do thank you for publishing me these several years, and I salute your heart and dedication. Selfless and fearless, you are one of the very few remaining good guys.


Tom offered to run my articles with the comment stream turned off, but I declined, since that would make both of us look bad.

Since Tom can't seem to effectively ban the blathering morons, he's allowing them to wreck his website, but that's his problem. Though I wish him luck, I'm no longer interested in Information Clearing House.

I thank you again for trying to restore some degree of sanity to that comment stream. It was sad and shocking to see the venom that was unleashed on you. What a sick crowd.

Do check back here periodically. I try to post a long piece or two every month, and there are vignettes in between.


Chris Herdman said...

Thanks for the history lesson and commentary. You are a very well read dude. CH

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for all your comments. Do drop by every now and then.




About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.