The quest for Learner has led me from one oasis of fellowship to the next across a Tartar steppe of endless, blazing solitude. At each way station I rested for a while, refreshed by tenders of support from a handful of friends. Then I resumed my dismal trek.
In The Language Instinct, Peter Pinker says he never met anyone who wasn’t fascinated by his topic of passion. I cannot admit as much. Passive indifference begot active antagonism the moment I interrupted routine patter with Learner’s discontent.
I have a genius for stirring ire. I speak the same truth to absolute power and to pathetic apathy, defying each of them in turn. Sexual harassment would not have triggered such bitter confrontations. My wife Linda suggested it was not so much what I said that bought me trouble but how I said it. Perhaps. This work would never have seen the light of day without her heartfelt support if at times bemused. Ah, my beloved manuscript widow!
I’m proud of my family and friends: Learner role models all. Many other people furthered this work in their own way, even if without knowing it.
I owe special thanks to the foreign volunteers and kibbutznikim (Israeli collective farmers) of Kibbutzim Evron and Dorot. And to our Palestinian hosts whose birthright is Peace. To distant ancestors from those ancient domains: Hominids, Pagans, Jews, Christians, Muslims and all those in between: the ultimate survivors of God’s wrath.
The Americas – North, South and Central – form a triad necklace. Likewise, Israel and its neighbors form a necklace of precious gems of great promise – broken apart so far – a promise that stretches and flows miraculously beyond their borders, in intimate contact with civilizations elsewhere. Each packed with wisdom, regardless of its provenance and tongue, that should be harmonizing the choral mass of world peace.
Learners of PeaceWorld, rally here!
I’ve received many gifts: Plutarch’s passion, Voltaire’s star-field enlightenment, Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, the Dupuy Brothers’ Encyclopedia of Military History, Carroll Quigley’s Weapon Systems & Political Stability, and Mortimer Adler’s How to Think about War and Peace.
My thanks to Lewis Dartnell for his book, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch, The Penguin Press, New York, NY, 2014. An elegant and compact work filled with hope and despair, packed with solid, vital instructions. A must-read for every thoughtful Learner. Notwithstanding that a categorical veto of his counsel is written at the end of the Learner chapter “Is Ecology Constitutional?”
I used to draw sanity supplements from The Nation magazine. I had to give it up eventually, thanks to its galling rejection of my project or of any other significant transformation for that matter. Like other American “liberals,” its editors whine endlessly about things they refuse to change. They and their peers in The Progressive, Dissent, Z, Harpers, Utne Reader, Mother Jones and other Anglo-Saxon periodicals that dare call themselves Leftist or Progressive despite their stuffy, middle-of-the-road fainéantise (faynayonteez, “best do nothing”). As things worsen, they whine about more and more tragedies and scandals in print while matching numbers of horror-struck subscribers pay them to whine. Yeah! If things improved significantly, their “don’t-touch-it!” critique would go out of business. In the long run, their forum of meddlesome meliorists and atomistic progressives winds up rubber-stamping the worst carnage.
There are only two political parties in America: Conservative and Reactionary: Democrats who haven’t had a good idea in six decades or adopted anyone else’s in three, and Republicans who’ve never met a bad idea they didn’t love. Bad ones that the Democrats never manage to resist, as if by black magic or some veiled urge (well-funded) to see Republican projects succeed with their anonymous backing. We remain pinned between these two sets of political mercenaries: the kleptocrats and the hypocrites.
Take your pick.
The main difference between them is that Democrats have trouble telling the difference between good and bad policies, while Republicans, between bad policies and illegal ones. Bipartisanship is achieved when they agree on policies akimbo between bad ones and illegal ones.
The editorial formula of The Nation (if there ever was one; it remains carefully obscure) entails the perpetual fumbling of the initiative in favor of the reactionaries. Handover, rather. Our political quagmire bears out this conclusion. So-called Progressives are more to blame for the sewage backflow of American politics than the reactionaries themselves. We could easily dismiss those stupid, stupid reactionaries; but the subtle monopoly and sabotage of progressive ideals by “liberal leadership” is a paralytic of fearsome potency.
With such friends, who needs enemies?
Many people and publications have confirmed one or more of my conclusions, even if they took no heed to the subtext of their words, motives and deeds.
The natural world has placed heart-wrenching wonders before my eyes. Each new revelation confirmed our entitlement to abundance and justice in peace ― to the benevolence of the God of Love and the Comforter Jesus promised us, pending His return. Could that have been Mohammed?
Until we’ve mass-produce World Peace, our history offers us no more benefit than that offered by the next psychopath in line who claims to be our future ruler.
I am grateful to Govind Naidu, Professor of Political Science at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Onto his desk the mails fluttered my unsolicited little manuscript. His thought-provoking reply galvanized this odd quest of mine. After one ephemeral phone call, I settled for his unique inspiration.
I owe undying thanks to Ted Fagin: affable neighbor, gentleman gambler, anarchist, bibliophile and Dog Soldier: the mentor I prayed for and now grieve. Cheerily, he set aside his terminal affliction and grave misgivings about the content of this book, to mentor me English. Thanks also to sister Leslie who landscaped the prose after Ted had undertaken its civil engineering, to Karen for calling me beyond my comfort zone, and to Jill for her passion for fairness.
My best friends Doug Dean and Paul Lackman plowed through rough drafts of this text and offered me many more suggestions than their few attributions suggest ― Doug, from first drafts until his regretted demise so painfully long ago and Paul more recently.
Thanks in any case to countless thugs, hooligans, hypocrites and fascists here, there and everywhere (flaming, blaming or crypto-) for whom:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”
Who cares whether the worst ones donned battledress or class-A drag, institutional silks or the rags of dissent, TV makeup or mourning ashes? We are all naked mortals underneath. Their crass stupidity, raised to the level of genius, hoisted my low rancor to new heights of loathing. Without the awful fecundity of their malice (the most nurtured topic of passion WeaponWorld), I’d never have found enough outrage to manhandle this project.
I owe a great debt of gratitude to the kind souls at the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Seattle, for whom I’ve worked for so long; and earlier, to the staff of the Damage Assessment Branch, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also in Seattle. Someone less distracted would have served them better, but they found a way to tolerate my Learner daydreams.
All the ideas contained herein are my own and do not reflect the policies of the U.S. government, NOAA or the Department of Education. Were that they could…
The AltaVista Babelfish online translation service gave me the means to turn an impossible dream, translating Learner into French, into an entertaining if challenging impracticality. I used it to translate of my Keyword page into a dozen language pages. Likewise, Google Translation for the Arabic, Farsi and Indonesian versions of that page. In addition, I thank Microsoft, Inc., and its Bowne Global Service auxiliary for useful if cranky online translation services in the Word 2000 package. To http://www.wordreference.com/fr/index.htm, where I found French translations I was too stupid to think up, and http://www.touchon.net/annuaire-site-plans-dictionnaires.php for synonyms in French. Also Médiadico and, finally, http://www.linguee.fr/, the most useful automated phrase translation service I ever found.
Even in those that offer to translate entire texts, their end-quality was at best dubious. We are nitwits when it comes to gathering together in peace. Much work remains to do.
Learner scorns entrepreneurial software companies. Such services should be consolidated into a public utility renowned for its consistency, free use, effortlessness and reliable security. In the meantime, Mr. Bill Gates, thank you for having eased my burden in some instances and tremendously complicated it in others (Styles, really?).
Also to Jean Bacon and son, whose book Les Saigneurs de la Guerre and its translation The Greater Glory lit my way through the skull-lined catacomb of WeaponWorld. To the others listed in my Bibliography, who provided stepping-stones across the crimson quagmire of WeaponWorld that led me to the shaded grove of PeaceWorld.
To the lovely Esmeralda Arana, whom I never met, the author of The Path: A Practical Approach to Sorcery. She kicked me in the butt at just the right moment, if only in a direction she had not foreseen.
Hardly any of the ideas proposed here come from me alone. Most of Learner’s recommendations unfold naturally as part of the Tao, since reactionary arrogance is slowly collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.
Mine all the errors contained herein. Please address your comments to me. I welcome your corrections and thank you for them. My feeble wit is not up to this task; that’s obvious. The combined awareness of the world’s Learners may suffice once it has gathered in the Agora of PeaceWorld. That is my hope.
Thanks also to the poets.