“…Citizens seeking to introduce changes in the form of their government, whether in favor of liberty or despotism, ought to consider what materials they have to deal with and then judge of the difficulty of their task. For it is no less arduous and dangerous to attempt to free a people disposed to live in servitude, than to enslave a people who [opt] to live free.” Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourse on the First Decade of Titus Livius, Ninian Hill Thomson, Trans., Kegan, Trench & Co., London, 1883, p. 376.
I’ve spent some thirty years, now, waiting for some worthy patron to discover Learner, publish it in many languages and make our fortune. Otherwise, that I might vanish quietly from this world without bothering with the upshot of my intervention. After all, I can always save my soul in Jesus and let the local killer apes fight to the death (of everyone else) down here, per their fondest wish.
Yet there are so many innocents stranded here to protect!
How amazingly lily-livered and chicken-brained well-connected people have turned out to be. How many secondary perils and empty distractions they’ve persuaded themselves to prioritize. How well insulated they’ve made themselves from important but unforeseen issues, thanks to an army of myopic gatekeepers! My work has been ignored by all of them. They don’t seem to care about a bad situation getting worse as long as their bank balance fattens…
Here I am, still working alone after all these years; my oft rewritten and rejected samizdat self-published on the World Wide Web. After decades of intellectual house arrest, forced to witness so-called activists and progressives congratulate themselves that the reactionary backlash hasn’t raised too much hell during their watch (even though it has), all the while dodging the grim chore of studying Learner. After all, things have gone so well that they don’t see any need for a new ideology (how stupid can they get!). I’ve been forced to witness churlish warmongers earn big bucks and bask in public adulation in exchange for endless martial pomp and hate speech, and every government fall over itself to fulfill their slightest demand, while no one manages call them on their kamikaze swan song.
How much better the world could become without so much pointless misery!
As I review this text, its cosmic presumption stuns me. No special privilege entitles me to claim your time and attention; no lofty reputation, mighty patronage, personal charisma, business savvy, saintly complacency, ambition public or private, or literary merit. When I find decent work, I’m just a clerk and a distracted one at that.
Nonetheless, I must claim your consideration here. No-one else bothered to undertake what was necessary ; I felt forced to do so. This may be the most important text you read; that’s up to you and your fondness for the status quo.
I’ve stayed up late reviewing endless iterations of the same botched political experiment and muttering, “At least one of these ought to have worked out to spec!”
I still dare hope. Learners form a Nation among nations, a state of being within the State. In our own quiet way, once properly inspired, we will command enough talent and initiative to tackle any challenge. Once we Learners come across each other in the dark, realize how numerous we are and the commanding position we hold over the world; once we rally around those ideas, we will be unstoppable and destined for glory. No matter how wretched human isolates may have made themselves with their sterile pecking orders; no matter how much toil will be necessary to restore things to their rightful place: the world peace struggle for existential survival and it masterpiece of renaissance reconstruction must evolve from every murderous rehearsal we’ve had to fight through in the past.
Aghast, I realised King Ashoka’s torment. Standing back-to-back in this carnage of our own making, we could neither duck our complicity with this disgrace nor stand idly by. We had to do something: stretch out for the big brass ring dangling just beyond our dreams; blow the doors off our fragile confidence, competence and self-worth; risk everything to lessen the robotic atrocity of the human condition.
This text isn’t engraved in stone. Dedicated specialists, amateur and professional alike, should chew over its assumptions. Their debate may conjure a brilliant Learner Commonwealth whose new mantra would be, “What if the sky were the limit?”
Every cubic yard of earth, air, water and vacuum may hold all the energy in the Universe (minus 1?). Can we become clever enough to reach into this vacuum fire and warm our hands in it, yet not burn our fingertips or the world? Have we become parched and starving stumblebums wandering across a desert while untold abundance lies locked away below our feet?
We are sitting down – all of us together – to share a giant, super-deluxe pizza that stretches out to the horizon and beyond that to infinity. It is covered with mounds of perfect vegetables, creamy cheese, aromatic spices and deli delicacies: all the trimmings of the finest pizza. This pie has got college degrees, fair housing and low infant mortality; enough abundance, justice and serenity for everyone; anything we could ask for and more of it than we could ever find use for.
Too bad we only see down a one-degree slice of this pie, the sorriest of slices, unbelievably awful. It’s been combed over at sword-point for millennia, stripped bare, burnt black and saturated with want, fear and suffering. Across it, starving children cower in stoic tears in bunkers, hovels and refugee dumps: the poster children of our failure and guilt. That’s all we can see: this WeaponWorld of ours, the napalm-blackened crust of a burnt-out world. Starving for something finer, we scramble with microscopic compulsion after its crumbs.
The infinite leftover, heaping with untouched goodies? It is beyond our view, as far as we’re concerned. The other 359 degrees of this cosmic pizza have been walled-off by long-revered cultural blinkers. At birth, our culture screens us off from PeaceWorld in favor of WeaponWorld, and more and more relentlessly as we age. As a result, we dismiss the potential abundance of PeaceWorld as mere fantasy utopia.
Learners will polarize those blinkers and display the whole pie to everyone. This festive bounty is there to harvest on PeaceWorld. We have but to focus our vision, roll up our sleeves and make it happen. It will then be harvest season and almost everyone will get busy gathering and sharing this incredible abundance, rather than ripping each other off for a much lesser tally. We can no longer afford such wanton wastefulness.
Four fifths of my lifetime ago, as I began to test the shaky legs of new-foaled opinions, my father challenged me thus: “It’s easy to condemn institutions,” this suave Bayard informed me. I’ll always recall him as un chevalier sans peur et sans reproche: a fearless knight beyond reproach.
That’s a tricky combination, come to think of it. It would be easy to inflict harm while holding some illusion of fearlessness. “I don’t give a damn; let loose the dogs of war!” It would be slightly more difficult to do good from fear of harmful consequences, but not much more rewarding. The true goal would be to achieve a majority of good, without fear. My father strove for that his whole life, which made him a nobleman in the finest sense of the term. No lesser deed is worthy.
So you think yourself fearless? Fine. Do good, without counting the cost, and prove it to us. A little trick you will have to play in your head, for your entertainment and the wellbeing of the world. Can you manage it?
The paragraph above may be essential reading for sociopaths who recognize themselves and for their friends who see it in them. To them, I suggest a careful reread. It might ease their troubles and break a new trail to PeaceWorld.
“Condemn institutions? Don’t bother,” this mild-mannered horse-soldier taught me, “unless you come up with better ones.”
I've knocked myself out, since, to puzzle those alternatives. As a child of the greasy 50’s, I found capital-R Revolution revolting. Its runny blemishes were more telling than its watery promises. Among its worst failures, after untold suffering, it offered nothing more than the unacceptable present with frequent backslides. Revolutionary dialectics (and every convention sprung from them) struck me as so much cheap talk—culture’s inflamed reaction to orthodoxy’s stunted mediocrity.
No Great Book On Peace exists, even though students cram Clausewitz’s On War in every college. Believe me; I’ve searched the stacks in vain, for On Peace.
Midway through my mandatory obedience training – once I’d gotten good and sick of the heavy toll of lies and their victims – I started combing libraries available to me for a primer on the administration of world peace. You know, a real civics lesson for a serious cosmopolitan up against nationalists of every stripe? So what if it were nothing but a wild-eyed speculation? I’d have settled for that!
All I found was On War and select textbooks on weapon management. There were countless histories, devout religious tomes, pompous political screeds, literary soap operas and nut-cracking philosophical quibbles—each sustaining weapon mentality and diverting attention from what should have been our primary study all along: the peace thought. They talked about feelings, sentiment, technicalities, meaningless abstractions or some other such nonsense—anything but Peace. As my readings grew more voracious and less finicky, they led me to affirmations of weapon mentality more and more ponderous, elaborate and boring. This mountain range of uselessness aside, I found very little else, to tell you the truth.
Avid for the peace primer I could never find, I set about drafting its Volume One. I would never dare call my work On Peace. Only a global consensus of Learners, assembled in the World Virtual Agora, could begin to compose such a work in a thousand million volumes. Nowadays, we profit from none of those.
Even if Learner fits alone on a virtual library bookshelf under a non-existent call number (no Dewey Decimal for peace, the Library of Congress prefix JX no longer used), its scribe cannot claim copyright of the ideals of peace. The gold flakes of peace mentality may lie buried under mounds of weapon mentality dross, but hints of its color shimmer from all of our masterworks. Where did Learner’s opulent forbears go? They disappeared, replaced by the weapon Classics we’ve been compelled to worship all our lives.
Learner reconsiders our vital choice between weapon mentality and its peace equivalent. Every moment we endure here on Earth, we connive with this evil or defy it, whether we admit this to ourselves or not. These days, weapon mentality dominates our thinking without serious debate. No wonder runaway weapon technologies harvest evermore victims, since everyone submits to weapon mentality without a second thought. It’s also no wonder that every progressive aspiration shudders to a halt in this Sargasso Sea of weapon mentality. What surprise is there in that? This social defect is so common and predictable, we shouldn’t even feel disappointed by it. Disgusted and enraged, quite; disappointed, not at all.
Once our allegiance shifts from weapons to peace, we may yet thrive along with all our progressive aspirations. Until then, forget them and forget us.
Since you’ve begun to grasp the central premise of Learner, you might have coughed it up by reflex.
“World peace? PeaceWorld? Shut up! I’m through!”
If you value the triangulation of controversies to mold your mental landscape (mine, point A; some else’s, point -A), ask yourself: “Why dismiss this topic without a fair hearing? During my long drawn-out study of many other topics at school, why didn’t someone teach me about it just as carefully?”
I’ll tell you why, if you choose to pay attention. Emerging from our infancy into frustrated adolescence, we mature sexually before we do so emotionally and socially (about age 15 versus 30). Society exploits this offset development. It offers us a predictable life cycle, from adolescent rebellion to adult uncertainty, followed by the mid-life backlash of reactionary senescence. The forced sustenance of child hostages to weapon reality will destroy whatever youthful idealism they once held.
It’s funny, if you think about it. From the standpoint of physical fitness, the human body was designed to be eaten about age thirty by a saber-tooth tiger and thus avoid the painful dissolutions of old age. Under such conditions, our survivors must have suffered the transports of love, sex and reproduction as adolescents. Most humans don’t optimize their empathy and problem-solving skills until thirty years of age or thereabouts (some sooner, others never). The merciless Neolithic killing ground called for near-suicidal recklessness and procreation as pre-teens, thus the self-centered naiveté of young beasts in heat. Thoughtful old age, though revered by the brightest of surviving children, was not welcome in the natural world.
As in Herman Hess’s Siddhartha, we may only plumb the depths of harsh asceticism, sensual pleasure, material wealth, self-revulsion and eventually, saintly complacency in our own mediocrity (by default). Forced early on to surrender our healthy conscience and replace it with passive-aggressive compromise and adherence at gunpoint to conspiracies of greed, we soothe our heartache with ignorance, apathy, drugs, alcohol, fanaticism, amateur obsession, professional compulsion, insanity, felony and self-destruction. From these escapisms take your pick.
The reform-idealism of youth is everywhere subverted. Suppressing youthful idealism is a pseudo-skill each of us is called upon to master. Shouldn’t our first priority be to nurture that creative drive?
Do you recall when you were a bright young thing as pure as a glass of water? Remember the barrage of insults that rained on your childlike investigation into world peace? Little did it matter to whom you turned – to strangers or beloved, to enlightened teachers or dumb brutes – you had to run the same gauntlet of veiled insult, condescension and violence if you persisted.
Think back. “World Peace? End poverty? Feed and care for everyone in honest equity? Get real, stop dreaming, grow up! What do I have to do, grab you by the shoulders and shake?”
Ok. I’m summarizing years of systematic and very subtle indoctrination in as many lines of text. But you get my point.
On this WeaponWorld of ours, a so-called “happy childhood” is the rare one during which inescapable traumas and injustices are inflicted at a later date, at random, by surprise and by strangers.
No doubt your tentative childhood investigations were cut short by dismissal, rejection and conformist denunciation. According to them, “World peace = crap. Treat it as such, if you know what’s good for you.”
Did this ceaseless brainwash, while you were young and impressionable—did it bring you up short? Was your conscience battered silent? Did you suspend your disbelief to avoid rejection? Did you enslave yourself to its lies, regardless of their merit? Would it have mattered what race, nation or creed you sprang from? What choice did you have?
“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments that are inimical to [orthodoxy], and of being bored and repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.” George Orwell, 1984, the New American Library, Inc., New York, 1961, p. 174.
See The 1984 Syndrome.
We were blocked because Everyman silenced us the moment we started asking awkward questions. Our culture subverts pacifism and military decadence as obsessively as it controls human waste and waterborne disease. Both were lethal to a primitive society and both are suppressed. We are potty trained, as children, to oppose peace and valid spirituality.
One arises from the other, don’t you think? In the absence of peace, wouldn't valid spirituality suffer? In the midst of war, doesn't our spirituality turn into a monstrous caricature of itself, sneering at its hypocrisy? During what we dare call peacetime, is it not just as bad?
Are we ready to cry Enough! into the face of this grotesque weapon cult? Have we ever been more ready; will we ever be more ready?
As with our weapon cults and their relevance to God, it doesn’t matter how much mouth-jabber we dedicate to peace. We are just as averse to it as to excrement. As a result, we face a multitude of social contradictions and zero closure, resolution or clarity.
Sure, I can understand your fear and loathing, but I can’t let that stop me. You and other Learners, rally ‘round me instead! We’re grownups now, seemingly immune from childhood blame games. Unplug your ears – there, that’s better – and pay attention. Learner retrieves painful questions we let drop when we were kids, with or without our consent. The choice we were denied as children, Learner restores it to you.
As this Aquarian Age dawns, it’s a sorry state we submit to. Arrogant mismanagement invokes chainsaw logic and lubricates its with snake oil democracy. Fate’s idiot smile favors Conspiracies of Greed. Smirking predators gang rape Blind Justice before our disbelieving eyes. They laugh all the way to their bank, congress, pulpit and academy, then come back for sloppy seconds and thirds and... Over and over, our institutions legitimize the spastic slapstick of killer primates.
Absurd clichés jam our constellation of political metaphors, despite their spectacular failure—or hadn’t you noticed? Like nitwit kibitzers around a stalled car, we keep intoning “We’re just gonna need more Love, personal perfection, patriotism, Christ in this world, Humanism, Science, Submission, Family Values, Free Markets – straighter politicians, fairer bullies and kinder Fat Cats.” In short, some purer dictatorship of fathead vacuity. Even more widespread and worthless: “Don’t believe in nothin’, little pal, but earning and spending the next buck. Be cool, be a steady fool, like us.”
Stupefied by all this barbarism, prophets, newscasters, technocrats and commoners bray disaster in four-part harmony. Others pray that swift Apocalypse come deliver them pretty please. Stupefied by their panic, they worsen the necrosis of this world merely to hasten the Ending they crave.
Thus do we manage to deny the obvious, the Miracle upon which our existence depends a thousand times a day. According to this Miracle, a far greater wisdom awaits us, ready and willing to replace typhoons of venom with windfalls of abundance. Fantastic plenty could blossom where wastelands fester now; full justice, salve ancient traumas and about-face mutinous legions back to civility.
Imagine that! Start visualizing the best that could happen.
Instead, weapon dissidents and weapon reactionaries croak contrapuntal duets of hoary dogma. They obsess over the hated Other and plot His impossible destruction. Others would rather sit on their hands until everyone has turned into an angel or until Christ returns to deliver us (whichever comes first).
Everything is improvised. No-one has any idea what he’s talking about or a workable plan except for more killing—sit still for it or stir it up. The major perquisite of promotion these days is not having to listen; just issue a string of insane orders unmindful of reality, or pass them one without question—the recipe for guaranteed disaster. In fact modern management tends to manage by disaster. It inherits criminally neglected disasters or kindles new ones, and then demonstrates “leadership” by waving its arms and blaming subordinates for failing to meet impossible demands.
We are only permitted two kinds of politicians, these days: those who have quashed every good idea for generations (Democrats) and those who never met a nasty idea they didn’t love (Republicans). Like a village blacksmith lusting after a first-glimpsed motorcycle, they long to tease the world apart and reassemble it to suit their fancy. But their obsolete political vocabulary won’t let them apprehend the world’s most basic contradictions and opportunities. They seek to fix a Harley-Davidson with Age of Pericles terminology and horse-and-buggy tools.
Only the absolute justice of our cause keeps it alive—not our necrotic habits of thought and speech. Rendered feverish by gangrenous ideologies and their failure to benefit anyone but special interests, we’ve grown too credophobic to believe in anything. Force-fed meaningless commercial blather, our moral gyros tumbled, we’ve let go our last spirit toeholds and fallen into riptides of change.
But don’t despair. Heed Jesse Jackson and “Keep hope alive!” As with two post-war Germanys, reactionaries will hand over a basket case for us to reanimate once it appears too late to salvage anything from the wreckage. Learner anticipates that handover—this time, of the whole world.
You might recall some movie where ruthless Evil secures every source of power, control and security. By midway through the story, the Good are dumbfounded. No one has any idea what to do next.
Then someone – perhaps Ruth – says, “Hold on, I have a plan.” Rather than turn away in dumb despair, passive bystanders start paying miraculous attention. Inspired, they turn themselves into heroes. By then, for the sake of dramatic continuity, the camera has cut to the triumph of the Good.
This book itemizes vital steps between “no plan” and “plan in action.” During this critical but no-fun stage, we need to discuss our plan in detail, expose its inherent weaknesses, suggest better alternatives and coordinate our timing and chronology. Let daring volunteers take on tasks that fit their special interests and talents. All you reductive meliorists out there, pounding on your steering wheel in stalled cars, start your engine! Shake awake all those who’ve abstained from sheer nihilism and cowardice.
I have a scheme; here it is, as follows. We are at this essential if boring stage of the procedure. Proceed accordingly and with dispatch, I implore you.
A few warnings before we begin. This book’s eccentric prose, exotic idiom and outlandish speculations make very hard reading. We’re going to make warfare illegal across the planet, here—not bake a simple cake. You’ll find no easy sound bites in these pages, none of the quick fixes and simplistic TV pabulum you’ve grown accustomed to. You may click Back if that was all you were looking for here.
Treat Learner as a rough guide, clearer than run-on Classics and straighter than Ivy-League obfuscations. After reading it, young prodigals may scout out this locked-down prison world while its guards and convicts slumber.
Evenhandedly, this book beckons ecstatic Nobel laureates, berserkers with nothing left to lose, aimless idealists, madrassa dreamers, oriental bonzes, Talmud scholars and Bible seminarians ‒ none of them satisfied ‒ prep-schooled sellouts and ghetto luminaries defying evils wriggling just beyond their own brown study. It speaks just as much to every Learner lost in a funhouse mirror-maze of weapons and peace, as to my childhood ghost haunting bygone stacks. I address these words in equal parts to this year’s applicants of the War Academies and to next year’s crop of middle school prodigies.
The best have combed the library stacks of weapons administration for the literature of peace, to no avail. This book outlines what we were driven to discover and failed to find.
California dreamin’, it surfs riptides of chaos and breasts the undertows of paradox. Irritably, it tosses aside treasured concepts and takes up much-maligned ideas. My message is quite biased. Attacking sly platitudes, my arguments climb way out on shaky limbs—farther out than you may wish to follow. You’ll find no “detachment”, “disinterest” or “balance” here, as those terms are misused today. Given this topic’s complexity, my writing numbskills and lesser erudition, your work is cut out for you.
What’s more, I’ll turn every rhetorical cannon against the weapon mentors who drilled me on them. Horrified and enraged, I’ll invoke any fallacy more useful than its “logically correct” counterpart. I have no use for proponents of “logical analysis” who dare permit children to starve to death and turn their back when such an awkward topic encroaches on their blank spirit. On the contrary, Learners will pirate every Madison Avenue fraud and taps bugle call that has lulled us to sleep up ‘til now, to re-energize PeaceWorld.
If you seek a six-hundred-word-or-less formula for World Peace, consult the Georgia Guidestones carved in English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian (but not in French, you hick):
1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally, resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
If the dry logic of world peace is all you seek, read Mortimer Adler’s How to Think about War & Peace, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1944. Back then, President Roosevelt and his brilliant staffers anticipated a popular, one-world government that would have criminalized warfare across the planet and guaranteed human rights for all – seventy years ago, with 150 million fewer war dead and a couple billion fewer dead of famine and preventable diseases that we “enlightened” contemporaries are responsible for―and how many more thousand trillion dollars, vital resources and sabotaged ingenuity thrown out the window with our consent?
How dare you suggest it’s none of your doing! Quit lying to yourself, here at least. We are all 100% accountable.
Alas, American Weapon Party commissars made sure a failed haberdasher, Harry Truman, would grab the reins of power from Roosevelt’s dying hands. Hiroshima, my love? Truman and his small-town, small-mind cronies threw away the global goodwill America had earned by liberating the world from fascism. Just like Bush the lesser and his rat pack did after 9/11, when the whole world was once again on our side.
Truth to tell, America and the world never recovered from the “purely coincidental” regicide of two Kennedys, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (as well as who knows how many more international progressive chiefs wasted anonymously as the targets of dark ops during Cold War and since), and their cumulative replacement in power by slime molds of the reactionary warmonger species. These have groomed a succession of politically correct mediocrities, since. Their parochial prejudices drove us without alternative to another a hundred fifty million war dead and another half-century of bankrupt weapon management,.
Still today, we waste precious time and talent in pointless protests against their mighty warmonger initiatives. Let them protest, in absolute futility, our mighty peace initiatives—never again the other way around!
This text is a speculative entertainment and an impassioned rally cry, not some textbook drear. Neither fiction nor non-, it fits in somewhere between confession, screed and sketchbook of homilies, anecdotes and conjectures. As Margaret Atwood put it, forecast journalism. There is no other text like Learner and I have found no political group that would adopt it outright as its own.
Were that I could! I would not have felt so alone on this planet run by unrepentant killer primates, nor so terrified that things will go from bad to worse at their hands, with or without the publication of Learner.
I have no faith in my own generation (good for nothing but Bush the Lesser and his National Capitalist cronies, and now no less a dignitary than Trump the Joker) nor those that follow; perhaps the third or fourth… Learners will certainly rise as a political party in the future, perhaps after I’m gone—as happened with Marx, Rousseau and Erasmus.
“So it happens that beyond the imaginary demarcation line between past and present, the writer still finds himself eye to eye with the human condition, which he is bound to observe and understand as best he can, with which he must identify, giving it the strength of his breath and the warmth of his blood, which he must attempt to turn into the living texture of the story that he intends to translate for his readers, in such a way that the result be as beautiful, as simple, and as persuasive as possible.” Ivo Andrić, Acceptance Speech for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature.
"If humanity bears an eternal truth, it must be the tragic hesitation of the man who will be called, for centuries to come, an artist – standing before the work of art he experiences more deeply than anyone, that he admires in ways no one else can, yet that he alone on Earth wants secretly to destroy at the same time."
"So understand this fully: if genius is a discovery, it is upon this discovery that the resurrection of the past is based. At the beginning of this speech, I spoke about what a renaissance could be, what the heritage of a culture could be. A culture is reborn when men of genius, seeking their own truth, draw from the depths of centuries everything that formerly resembled this truth, even if they can’t recognize it."
André Malraux, Les Conquérants, (The Conquerors), Le livre de poche, © Bernard Grasset, 1928, pages 311-13.
“The leader carries all of our confusion with him as he attempts to climb above society in search of a clear view that would indicate the right way. There, on his imaginary mountain, he stands alone, suffering the personal anxiety of freedom. He watches us dancing aimlessly below, half struggling with mortality in our consoling maze. He can see we have a certain reassurance, lost in our earthly eternity. But how is he to get his own reassurance if he cannot make all of us and the structure itself respond to his efforts?” John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Vintage Press, A Division of Random House, 1991, p. 349.
Accept the scraps of Learners you approve of, then make something better happen. Dismiss anything you find in here that disconcerts your fancy—as conjecture, hearsay, heresy, what you will.
If this work inspires you to frame some new idea, let me know. I’d love to filigree new ideas into a rewrite of this text (with proper attribution, of course). With a little luck, I may get to chronicle the real-world progress of this righteous endeavor … perhaps in future chapters of this samizdat.
Why do the terms “utopian” and “idealist” consign our highest values to the trash heap? When did reactionary chic wrong-foot empathy?
We may be clumsy practitioners of peace, at first; but the love of good flows in our veins. No word for this talent exists (kalotropism?) but it will not be denied much longer. Who knows; doing good may become fashionable once again, despite the mighty efforts of the worst among us to forbid and ridicule it.
Loudmouthed morality truants feign their sophistication by aggravating our weapon neuroses. By rote repetition, they’ve maligned “do-gooders” and “bleeding hearts”. Hiding their shameful shortcomings, they’ve confabulated the pig-headed terminology and criminal line-up of reactionary correctness. They’ve set up an assembly line of conmen and professional hypocrites who are (literally) politically correct enough to serve as stand-ins for legitimate leaders. Each new candidate is worse than his predecessors, while people of talent and genius are chased from politics and social commentary; either gunned down in the street or crucified by the media.
Sneering reactionaries betray themselves, since they are the only people who use the expression “politically correct.”
Who are these malingerers? Do-badders? The flint-hearted? Do a few proprietors of stony hearts require a little lubricant bleeding to re-oxygenate their flat-lined conscience?
After so many tries, why don’t we have the best possible government? With all our schools, books and teachers, why aren’t there millions of peace mentors out there, enriching the abundance that is our due, filling the world with miraculous technologies, sacred wildlife, courtly love and random acts of kindness? Where did the superb replacements of young Andy Carnegie, the Roosevelts and Little Flower LaGuardia go, that the administration of excellence would demand?
If we considered this world as one Grand Academy – as Learners hope it shall become – most of its students have to major in some aspect of weapon technology, while all too few take all too few electives in peace. As the machinery of war grinds on without letup, only its most devoted slaves may evaluate its usefulness in public discourse.
Hardly anyone can list the great peace mentors. Peace’s foremost practitioners have been unassuming gentlefolk. Female peace practitioners are as under-reported here as they have been in general history. Compare this blitzed state of ignorance with our household familiarity with Genghis Khan, Hitler and like masters of mayhem. If peace were our first priority – not mass murder – this Learner deficit would cause us grave concern.
Your first appraisal of Learner may make you dizzy, its range of topics is so kaleidoscopic. We have never studied them in the depth they deserved. Of necessity, our first review will be insolently superficial and subject to myth-based denial at every page-turn. Once this crisis has passed, we may render full justice to these exotic notions.
Read the first few chapters of Learner to take in its vocabulary: (“Intro & Vocab” to “Stop”). Then resume your random perusal in any of its three Sections:
SECTION I) Why we’re in this mess;
SECTION II) How we approach PeaceWorld; and
SECTION III) What results we should expect.
The first and harshest Section, “Why,” stretches midway through Learner. Why is so incendiary, its first-time readers risk burnout. Unlike more sedative texts, this one doesn’t overlook great evils we’ve been taught to regret briefly and then take for granted. This merciless inventory of error will seem wearisome to you at first, mind-numbing later on and soon unbearable. Your subconscious will revisit every aversion therapy you suffered as a child, to get you to quit. You’ll grow frustrated with this reading, then nauseated by it and soon enraged. You will have to brace yourself sternly to chugalug this bitter brew to its dregs. Take small sips of this sour mash and find more syrupy refreshment elsewhere, perhaps at the titty of TV.
But don’t give up your perusal of these three Sections that I could just as well have labeled Lamentation, Transition and Hope.
Bittersweet “How” lists unfortunate tendencies and proposes some countermeasures. Sweeter “What” sketches peaceful alternatives to the weapon technologies we submit to today—assuming global majorities have already grasped Why and How.
This text is intended for every Learner to come. Its discontent should have been our patrimony and was—which we’ve forgotten since. I leave the next Sections: Who, When and Where, to you, my beloved Learners. If you catch me fumbling my extraordinary mandate, that’s your cue to take up my burden of proof.
I had no choice but to write – en deux langues (in two languages) – this book, this whole book and nothing but this book. In the end, I can only justify my presumption by pointing out the depths of our moral bankruptcy … and of our craving for Peace: the ultimate forbidden love.