1. Populism, Socialism, Communism and other Common Goods

In a poem titled The Layers, Stanley Kunitz’s narrator speaks of the continued turning of the harmonic series and it’s cycles as he confronts a feast of losses. Unlike Auden’s narrator in Funeral Blues, Kunitz’s narrator is intimately aware of the turning and exultation that will come. “Though I lack the art to decipher it,” writes Kunitz, “no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written.”

He ends the poem defiantly: “I am not done with my changes.”

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.

When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:

“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

Kunitz speaks of having made himself a tribe out of his true affections:

Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.

What, then, is a tribe made out of false affections? That is the subject with which we start this final lesson.

The formation of collectives or groups once served the purpose in early human society to provide protection and for the group to be able to sustain itself through means of close cooperation. As societies grew and developed and humanity moved beyond the need for basic survival, the need for tribal or affiliative collectives and groups lessened. Instead, identities for association between people became more conceptual and based on agreed upon ideas and aspirations. Nation states eventually were formed (conceptual entities).

The United States is one such country; at the nation’s founding there was no singularly placed identity but rather the affiliation of citizens through shared ideas.

The early citizens of the United States ratified the Constitution under the common agreement that every person held as inalienable the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In the early days of the 20th Century, immigrants from certain regions or countries (say Nordic peoples or those from Poland or those from China) would form small communities within the United States (such as Chinatown or Little Italy); in these communities people were among other people who immigrated from the same region or country as they did and spoke the same language, shared the same culture and food etc.

In a way this provided “security” for these people, much in the same way as those groups in early human societies, being among those who spoke the same language, shared traditions, and similar other identifiers as to their previous lives before immigrating. Such collectives insulated these people from other communities which likewise created collectives, each separated from the others but sharing similar views of suspicion and/or hatred towards anyone who was not affiliated with the collective. With the breakdown and integration of these collectives as people expanded outside their self-contained communities, people interacted with a broader range of individuals.

In a painful scene from Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, a character named James Taggart confronts his wife who, slowly but surely, discovers that she is caught in a lie of her husband’s making. He expresses the need for “unconditional love” in the following terms:

“She was startled to see him looking at her with a touch of derision, as if he were mocking her estimate of his understanding.

“Love,” he answered.

She felt herself sagging with hopelessness, in the face of that answer which was at once so simple and so meaningless.

“You don’t love me,” he said accusingly. She did not answer. “You don’t love me or you wouldn’t ask such a question.”

“I did love you once,” she said dully, “but it wasn’t what you wanted. I loved you for your courage, your ambition, your ability. But it wasn’t real, any of it.”

Following an initial outburst, she asks her husband to express what it is he would like to be loved for:

His lower lip swelled a little in a faint, contemptuous thrust. “What a shabby idea of love!” he said.

“Jim, what is it that you want to be loved for?”

“What a cheap shopkeeper’s attitude!”

She did not speak; she looked at him, her eyes stretched by a silent question.

“To be loved for!” he said, his voice grating with mockery and righteousness. “So you think that love is a matter of mathematics, of exchange, of weighing and measuring, like a pound of butter on a grocery counter? I don’t want to be loved for anything. I want to be loved for myself—not for anything I do or have or say or think. For myself—not for my body or mind or words or works or actions.”

For someone without a personality or a self, love cannot be a response to values. True love should be a response to something which a person values; one seeks to cherish that which one holds to be dear and worthy of having and holding. In the absence of any expression of why she should truly love her husband, Taggart’s wife asks a crucial question:

“But then . . . what is yourself?”

He has no meaningful answer for his wife and so the scene ends in Taggart’s most revealing outburst which leaves his wife with the task of picking up the broken shards of a dream which has proven, at last, to have been a terrible lie all along.

In a 1974 essay titled, Selfishness without a Self, Rand shed some light on a possible source of inspiration for James Taggart:

“As a real-life example: Years ago, I knew an older woman who was a writer and very intelligent, but inclined toward mysticism, embittered, hostile, lonely, and very unhappy. Her views of love and friendship were similar to James Taggart’s. At the time of the publication of The Fountainhead, I told her that I was very grateful to Archibald Ogden, the editor who had threatened to resign if his employers did not publish it. She listened with a peculiar kind of skeptical or disapproving look, then said: “You don’t have to feel grateful to him. He did not do it for you. He did it to further his own career, because he thought it was a good book.” I was truly appalled. I asked: “Do you mean that his action would be better—and that I should prefer it—if he thought it was a worthless book, but fought for its publication out of charity to me?” She would not answer and changed the subject. I was unable to get any explanation out of her. It took me many years to begin to understand.”

The fact that Archibald Ogden stood up for something he loved (the novel) and that the cause of his love for the novel was the value which he saw in it does not occur to this older writer. Like Taggert, she expects that one should have no rubric to measure the value of anything (artistic or otherwise). We are, if truth be told, indebted to Mr. Ogden for having taken a stand in favor of something he believed in. Without his gesture (which was not a gesture of good-will as much as it was a real example of someone putting himself on the line for that which he loved, valued and believed in) we would likely not have one of the 20th century’s great novels.

At the end of the Declaration of Independence, the founders of the United States made the following pledges to one another:

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

These are all true affections.

In the same essay which I quoted above, Rand wrote of the following abdication of individual volition as well as the responsibility that comes with it:

“Yet the tribalists keep proclaiming that morality is an exclusively social phenomenon and that adherence to a tribe—any tribe—is the only way to keep men moral. But the docile members of a tribe are no better than their rejected wolfish brother and fully as amoral: their standard is “We’re good because it’s us.”

The abdication and shriveling of the self is a salient characteristic of all perceptual mentalities, tribalist or lone-wolfish. All of them dread self-reliance; all of them dread the responsibilities which only a self (i.e., a conceptual consciousness) can perform, and they seek escape from the two activities which an actually selfish man would defend with his life: judgment and choice. They fear reason (which is exercised volition-ally) and trust their emotions (which are automatic)—they prefer relatives (an accident of birth) to friends (a matter of choice)—they prefer the tribe (the given) to outsiders (the new)—they prefer commandments (the memorized) “to principles (the understood)—they welcome every theory of determinism, every notion that permits them to cry: “I couldn’t help it!”

And with that, a complete absence of anything good on the part of anyone who could possess such notions, we come to the notion of a “common good” which must be exercised by some mother brain or Borg queen since such a notion is precisely that: a notion (until good is exercised by someone it is an notion which absolves inactivity and destructive behavior).

In March of 2018, a professor at UC Berkely and former labor secretary Robert Reich engaged in an assault on Ayn Rand, one of the most beloved novelists and playwrights of the 20th Century.

We are first offered a number of points pertaining to current political issues which Mr. Reich sees as part of a formula of social deterioration (societal evils). Mr. Reich begins with some statements which are unverified and, to my knowledge, unverifiable:

“Donald Trump once said he identified with Ayn Rand’s character Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead,” an architect so upset that a housing project he designed didn’t meet specifications he had it dynamited.”

Others in Trump’s circle were influenced by Rand. “Atlas Shrugged” was said to be the favorite book of Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state. Rand also had a major influence on Mike Pompeo, Trump’s CIA chief. Trump’s first nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, said he spent much of his free time reading Rand.

The Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, required his staff to read Rand.

Mr. Reich then offers us a few more “examples of societal ills” which link Rand’s work to the behavior of people who were born after her death and who are, presumably, fully grown adults (like Mr. Reich himself) and, therefore, in control of their actions:

Uber’s founder and former CEO, Travis Kalanick, has described himself as a Rand follower. Before he was sacked, he applied many of her ideas to Uber’s code of values, and even used the cover art for Rand’s book “The Fountainhead” as his Twitter avatar.

And so, connections are made and societal ills are diagnosed. This time, however, instead of claiming that the artist in question failed to cure the social disease (as was the case with Leonard Bernstein and the Nostromos), Rand’s work is being diagnosed as the virus at the source of current societal ills:

Who is Ayn Rand and why does she matter?  Ayn Rand – best known for two highly-popular novels still widely read today – “The Fountainhead,” published in 1943, and “Atlas Shrugged,” in 1957 – didn’t believe there was a common good. She wrote that selfishness is a virtue, and altruism is an evil that destroys nations.

“When Rand offered these ideas” says Reich, “they seemed quaint if not far-fetched. Anyone who lived through the prior half century witnessed our interdependence, through depression and war.”

One would like to ask what, exactly, Rand’s motive was when she “offered these ideas” Mr. Reich speaks of her novels being offered as one would offer a product in a marketplace. The next paragraph is worthy of parsing:

“After the war we used our seemingly boundless prosperity to finance all sorts of public goods – schools and universities, a national highway system, and healthcare for the aged and poor (Medicare and Medicaid). We rebuilt war-torn Europe. We sought to guarantee the civil rights and voting rights of African-Americans. We opened doors of opportunity to women. Of course there was a common good. We were living it.”

Mr. Reich’s language here is revealing. “After the war,” he says speaking of the Second World War, “we used our seemingly boundless prosperity to finance all sorts of public goods…” Mr. Reich, born in 1946, was a one-year-old infant (a demographic with little buying power) in 1945, the year in which “the war” that he is referring to came to a close. The fact that he defines the following things as “common goods,” however, which are purchased (by “we”) on a spending-spree, is notable. Here are the “common goods” or commodities which “we” purchased:

  • schools and universities
  • a national highway system
  • healthcare for the aged and poor (Medicare and Medicaid)

In addition to these domestic public works, “we” engages in the monumental foreign public work; namely, “we”:

  • rebuilt war-torn Europe

To buttress all these infrastructural, educational and health-related “goods” which “we” purchased, Mr. Reich tells us that “we” accomplished some moral things as well:

  • “We sought to guarantee the civil rights and voting rights of African-Americans.”
  • “We opened doors of opportunity to women.”

“We,” of course, cannot claim credit for any of those things. A society can share the common subjects of history that chronicle such accomplishments but that history would have to involve learning about men and women such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, General George Marshall, the National Women’s Party, FDR, Eleanor Rosevelt and many others. Credit must be given to those who accomplished the tasks at hand; “we” did none of these things. “We” have our own accomplishments ahead of us should “we” choose to pursue them and put in the work that is necessary in order to bring about such accomplishments.

Mr. Reich’s narrative is clear; “we did all this” he says, accompanied by a score of optimistic muzak.

“But then,” he says, as the muzak turns on it’s dark side, “starting in the late 1970s, Rand’s views gained ground. She became the intellectual godmother of modern-day American conservatism.”

All was good in the world until Ayn Rand came along and ruined everything. Mr. Reich goes on to characterize Rand’s work in ways that simply do not take into account that art cannot function as a form of control over people’s behavior:

“This utter selfishness, this contempt for the public, this win-at-any-cost mentality is eroding American life.

Without adherence to a set of common notions about right and wrong, we’re living in a jungle where only the strongest, cleverest, and most unscrupulous get ahead, and where everyone must be wary in order to survive. This is not a society. It’s not even a civilization, because there’s no civility at its core. It’s a disaster.”

A society is made up of individual persons who should “derive their notions of right and wrong” as individuals and who act individually (this is assuming that those individuals in question are adults).

That is, for example, why individuals rather than entire societies are punished for their ills and why, incidentally, an artist cannot correctly be blamed for the actions of those who claim to be influenced by that artist as an excuse or a rationalization for their own behavior.

Mr. Reich’s viewers are then treated to the following image which, matters of artistic considerations aside, should disturb anyone who values basic human liberty, freedom of expression and individual volition:

Mr. Reich continues:

“In other words, we have to understand who Ayn Rand is so we can reject her philosophy and dedicate ourselves to rebuilding the common good.

The idea of the common good was once widely understood and accepted in America. After all, the U.S. Constitution was designed for “We the people” seeking to “promote the general welfare” – not for “me the selfish jerk seeking as much wealth and power as possible.”

The constitution was drafted by individuals who also certified the protection of the individual rights of man against the intrusion of an officious state as well as the expression of artists against assaults so that affronts such as the one pictured above could not be legally attempted by the government.

Mr. Reich continues even further by assuming for his viewers what he assumes for himself (“you find”) as follows:

“Yet today you find growing evidence of its loss – CEOs who gouge their customers, loot their corporations and defraud investors. Lawyers and accountants who look the other way when corporate clients play fast and loose, who even collude with them to skirt the law.

Wall Street bankers who defraud customers and investors. Film producers and publicists who choose not to see that a powerful movie mogul they depend on is sexually harassing and abusing young women.”

Politicians who take donations (really, bribes) from wealthy donors and corporations to enact laws their patrons want, or shutter the government when they don’t get the partisan results they seek.

And a president of the United States who lies repeatedly about important issues, refuses to put his financial holdings into a blind trust and then personally profits off his office, and foments racial and ethnic conflict.

The common good consists of our shared values about what we owe one another as citizens who are bound together in the same society. A concern for the common good – keeping the common good in mind – is a moral attitude. It recognizes that we’re all in it together.

If there is no common good, there is no society.”

I must add here that Mr. Reich delivered this monologue as part of a sales strategy for his then-newly-released book titled The Common Good.

In a book titled Flashes of Thought,” Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates chose to begin his chapter on “Democracy” with the following subheading: “The UAE’s system of governance is not only effective – it is highly accountable.”

“A strong ruler” he writes at the end of the chapter, “acting for the benefit of a unified people can achieve great things with great speed. We are not caught up in endless debate – the path forward is clear. And yet we are answerable to God and to our people for our actions and decisions.”

This final point which Mr. Maktoum closes his chapter expresses a sentiment which connects elegantly with Mr Rosling’s statements on “democracy”:

“This is risky, but I am going to argue it anyway. I strongly believe that liberal democracy is the best way to run a country. People like me, who believe this, are often tempted to argue that democracy leads to, or is even a requirement for, other good things, like peace, social progress, health improvements, and economic growth. But here’s the thing, and it is hard to accept: the evidence does not support this stance.”

“Most countries that make great economic and social progress are not democracies. South Korea moved from Level 1 to Level 3 faster than any country had ever done (without finding oil), all the time as a military dictatorship. Of the ten countries with the fastest economic growth in 2016, nine of them score low on democracy.

Anyone who claims that democracy is a necessity for economic growth and health improvements will risk getting contradicted by reality. It’s better to argue for democracy as a goal in itself instead of as a superior means to other goals we like.

There is no single measure—not GDP per capita, not child mortality (as in Cuba), not individual freedom (as in the United States), not even democracy—whose improvement will guarantee improvements in all the others. There is no single indicator through which we can measure the progress of a nation. Reality is just more complicated than that.

The world cannot be understood without numbers, nor through numbers alone. A country cannot function without a government, but the government cannot solve every problem. Neither the public sector nor the private sector is always the answer. No single measure of a good society can drive every other aspect of its development. It’s not either/or. It’s both and it’s case-by-case.”

Despite this intermingling long after the years of immigration people have now formed such similar collectives, united not by language or traditions, but by failure and fear. Take the example of anti-poetic “news media” as a case-in-point. Mr Kuper, whose article on “public misconceptions regarding the media” we examined in Lesson 8, supposes himself a journalist and, in that article, he positions himself as a defender of the entire profession and goes on to tell us about his colleagues who regard themselves as journalists after having entered the profession following their “failure” in other pursuits (he speaks of “failed literary ambitions”); he did this all while playing the role of defender of the profession without seeming to understand the insult which he served to actual journalists who have succeeded in journalism and know how difficult it is to do so.

He nevertheless refers to this tribe as one which is comprised of “elites.”. These individuals gather under a professional category or “genre of work” called “journalism” and, adopting terms like “the media” make a distinct effort to become anonymous within the contrived collective. In so doing, they instinctively suppose themselves as having relinquished the need to be accountable in their work and show no evidence of an attitude of responsibility to carry out the job of reporting on daily events and occurrences (or otherwise being journalists).

It is not simply in addition to but as an essential part of, the lifestyle-imitation of journalists that anti-journalists develop the need for a “cause,” or a “crusade” on whose behalf they will take up arms. For these anti-journalists, the “cause” is a way to put their vision of reality into motion, negating any one or denying the fact of anything which may contradict and dismantle their subjective views. Through negating objective reality or contrary points of view, most often vehemently, they fail to fulfill the role of journalists. They fail to report the day-to-day happenings in favor of concocting and personalizing events, adding subjective commentary because they do not recognize reality as it exists objectively. There is a supposed helplessness, that what occurs on the daily is deemed a natural “phenomenon.” Events are caused by individuals going about life and work but through negating the existence of any “reality” outside the vision of the so-called journalists, they are denying the existence of their own humanity, that the individual citizens are in fact people, too. The “others” may be thought of as not intelligent enough to have agency and choice over their lives and actions, therefore, the existence of “phenomenons” and “waves.” The very fact of democracy is denied through this outlook by denying the existence of people as rational, thinking and feeling individuals. As it is their case, the outcome of a series of events is always a shock, an unforeseeable stroke of fate which no one could have possibly predicted. Another point to be made about the deprivation of individuals’ humanity is the existence of the “safari,” where one collective (namely “journalists”) set out to survey another collective. Make no mistake that this is unique to so-called journalists (who are an insult to true, hard-working journalists) but that this sequestration and formation of collectives is done throughout the fifty states of this nation, in all sorts of formulations. This may also be seen in the “Red-Blue” and “Republican-Democrat” divides in what passes as politics. There is no discourse on issues, there is instead argumentation in the lowest form of infighting and the creation of teams, an “Us vs. Them” view. A host of disparate identities and artificial affiliations have been concocted throughout the country:  the 12-step Anonymous “help” groups, the curious “Pluto protesters,” and any of the myriad “Me-movements.”

Shared ideas or principles are not the social elements which bind the members of these anti-poetic me-movements into seemingly disparate collectives. What does yoke them to one another is again, the failure to become full individuals (to “receive their soul” as Ibn Abi-Rawh put it) resulting in a needy self-hatred that quickly extends itself to hatred of others and especially hatred of those who seek individual distinction and, through the virtue of hard work and perseverance as well as humility, obtain some level of it.

not wanting to step outside the refuge of their anonymous faction, the failure to regard humanity as such and respect other individuals (connected to the self-hate which I have already noted), and the failure to perceive objective reality as well as the avoidance of reality all-together (which they circumvent by attaching themselves to “causes” (subjects which they imagine to be defending or promoting, thereby conflating the objective and subjective). They deny themselves the accountability necessary to become individuals and as a result, deny accountability unto others (hence the “waves,” the “safaris”). It is simply out of their hands, as they might argue. The agency to bring their actions under control is left to the mercy of some imagined higher power or authority, even as they elected to create and maintain their chosen collective. It is too easy to maintain the anonymity and herd mentality and avoid the intellectual work of becoming an individual and discoursing with other people on the level of human beings. Joining humanity at large is too dangerous, for to do so would be to risk the friction of opposing perspectives and having to consider—seriously—another angle which might in fact be conducive to growth as a human being or rupture the illusion of their reality.

These are, as Ayn Rand observed,“not tribes, but shifting aggregates of people desperately seeking tribal “protection.”

“The common denominator of all such gangs” she writes, “is the belief in motion (mass demonstrations), not action—in chanting, not arguing—in demanding, not achieving—in feeling, not thinking—in denouncing “outsiders,” not in pursuing values—in focusing only on the ‘now,’ the ‘today’ without a ‘tomorrow’—in seeking to return to “nature,” to “the earth,” to the mud, to physical labor, i.e., to all the things which a perceptual mentality is able to handle. You don’t see advocates of reason and science clogging a street in the belief that using their bodies to stop traffic, will solve any problem.”

Rand provides a beautiful account

“THE LEAVES STREAMED DOWN, TREMBLING IN THE SUN. THEY were not green; only a few, scattered through the torrent, stood out in single drops of a green so bright and pure that it hurt the eyes; the rest were not a color, but a light, the substance of fire on metal, living sparks without edges. And it looked as if the forest were a spread of light boiling slowly to produce this color, this green rising in small bubbles, the condensed essence of spring. The trees met, bending over the road, and the spots of sun on the ground moved with the shifting of the branches, like a conscious caress. The young man hoped he would not have to die.

Not if the earth could look like this, he thought. Not if he could hear the hope and the promise like a voice, with leaves, tree trunks and rocks instead of words. But he knew that the earth looked like this only because he had seen no sign of men for hours; he was alone, riding his bicycle down a forgotten trail through the hills of Pennsylvania where he had never been before, where he could feel the fresh wonder of an untouched world.

He was a very young man. He had just graduated from college—in the spring of the year 1935—and he wanted to decide whether life was worth living. He did not know that this was the question in his mind. He did not think of dying. He thought only that he wished to find joy and reason and meaning in life—and that none had been offered to him anywhere.

He had not liked the things taught to him in college “He had been taught a great deal about social responsibility, about a life of service and self-sacrifice. Everybody had said it was beautiful and inspiring.

Only he had not felt inspired. He had felt nothing at all.

He could not name the thing he wanted of life. He felt it here, in this wild loneliness. But he did not face nature with the joy of a healthy animal—as a proper and final setting; he faced it with the joy of a healthy man—as a challenge; as tools, means and material. So he felt anger that he should find exaltation only in the wilderness, that this great sense of hope had to be lost when he would return to men and men’s work. He thought that this was not right; that man’s work should be a higher step, an improvement on nature, not a degradation. He did not want to despise men; he wanted to love and admire them. But he dreaded the sight of the first house, poolroom and movie poster he would encounter on his way.

He had always wanted to write music, and he could give no other identity to the thing he sought. If you want to know what it is, he told himself, listen to the first phrases of Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto—or the last movement of Rachmaninoff’s Second. Men have not found the words for it nor the deed nor the thought, but they have found the music. Let me see that in one single act of man on earth. Let me see it made real. Let me see the answer to the promise of that music. Not servants nor those served; not altars and immolations; but the final, the fulfilled, innocent of pain. Don’t help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Don’t work for my happiness, my brothers—show me yours—show me that it is possible—show me your “achievement—and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.”

2. Democracy

In his book titled “Flashes of Thought,” Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates chose to begin his chapter on “Democracy” with the following subheading: “The UAE’s system of governance is not only effective – it is highly accountable.”

“I am sometimes asked about our system of government” continues Maktoum, “and why we do not have democracy. The question often seems to carry the assumption that democracy is a modern amenity that every developed country should have, like running water or education. I question that assumption.”

“Dialogue is crucial to our society, not only as a way of passing down knowledge and cultural identity to younger generations, but also as a way of exploring our goals together and resolving our differences. Listening, dialogue, participation and accountability are deeply rooted principles of Emirati society. They are cultural institutions.”

Democracy is one of many political systems intended to involve the people in governance that serves their well-being. The UAE has evolved a different political system serving that same principle. It was born in early times when this region was home to nomadic tribes and small trading communities. A leader was found from within the community, someone who everybody agreed they could trust to serve the needs of the community.“We have a great institution, the majlis, a traditional open forum where leaders listen to the grievances, problems, ideas and blessings of their people. This guarantee of access to the ruler enables people to seek fairness, justice and restitution when they are confronted by challenges in life. People come to the majlis with suggestions, opinions and opportunities. In the modern world, people call this “crowdsourcing”. It has always been a key element in our community and society.

“My father’s public majlis was held on a seat outside his house in the old Shindaga area of Dubai. He was able to direct progress and take the counsel of those most closely involved with the development of Dubai. He governed while keeping the needs of the people as a whole in mind, adjudicating disputes and establishing principles for the community to follow. It is important to remember this idea of service to the community.

Governance through a majlis alone is no longer feasible: our modern world is too complex; the scale of our nation today is too great. We have many institutions to help serve our people in all aspects of their daily lives, from law courts and regulators through to the Federal National Council, which connects government to the people.”

Mr Maktoum is partially correct here.

“The principles of accountability and service are embedded within our system of government,” says Maktoum. “The ruler has the well-being and benefit of his people in mind at all times. It is not a position of privilege, but one of service and responsibility. In such a system, the ruler is no less accountable than a politician in a Western-style democracy.”

There is no such thing as a “Western-Style democracy.” A friend of mine, with whom I was discussing the pervasive negativity which I was documenting throughout this book recommended a book to me by which is titled “Factfulness.” The book, by Hans Rosling, recalled the following argument put forward by Mr. Maktoum in his book:

“I am sometimes asked about our system of government and why we do not have democracy. The question often seems to carry the assumption that democracy is a modern amenity that every developed country should have, like running water or education. I question that assumption.”

Let us begin by defining “democracy”:

democracy (n.)

“government by the people, system of government in which the sovereign power is vested in the people as a whole exercising power directly or by elected officials; a state so governed,” 1570s, from Middle French démocratie (14c.), from Medieval Latin democratia (13c.), from Greek demokratia “popular government,” from demos “common people,” originally “district” (see demotic), + kratos “rule, strength” (see -cracy).

The United States is a Republic and not a democracy. James Madison explains this explicitly in Federalist 10 (November 1787):

“From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.”

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy which preserves the House of Windsor as an historically mandated tribal family who consult on political matters in very real ways and maintain possession of very real state properties. The UK maintains elected and unelected positions in it’s government (such as an elected House of Commons and an unelected House of Lords) as well as a civil service which is a specialist agency (so effectively parodied in the situational comedy series Yes, Minister and, later, Yes, Prime Minister) which is focused on implementing complex policy issues.

“Only in a few countries,” says Mr. Rosling, “with exceptionally destructive leaders and conflicts, has social and economic development been halted. Everywhere else, even with the most incapable presidents imaginable, there has been progress. It must make one ask if the leaders are that important. And the answer, probably, is no. It’s the people, the many, who build a society.”

We are back, it would seem, at the point of “the common good.”

The truth is that citizens can be empowered to build their own lives and pursue their own happinesses; they should contribute to the world in as much as it pleases them and to the best of their individual choices and capabilities. The approach that Mr. Rosling takes is severely lacking and confuses positive data for positive facts.

Let us reexamine Mr. Rosling’s argument point by point:

“This is risky, but I am going to argue it anyway. I strongly believe that liberal democracy is the best way to run a country. People like me, who believe this, are often tempted to argue that democracy leads to, or is even a requirement for, other good things, like peace, social progress, health improvements, and economic growth. But here’s the thing, and it is hard to accept: the evidence does not support this stance.”

Mr. Rosling goes on to write that “most countries that make great economic and social progress are not democracies” citing statistics for determining such a thing which exist among many other statistical models each formed by an organization or another and often driven by interest or strong and open biases whereby persons and nations set standards for excellence which in which they place themselves at the top of their own self-defined standard of excellence.

Here is what Mr. Rosling says about the matter at hand:

“Most countries that make great economic and social progress are not democracies. South Korea moved from Level 1 to Level 3 faster than any country had ever done (without finding oil), all the time as a military dictatorship. Of the ten countries with the fastest economic growth in 2016, nine of them score low on democracy.

The presence of South Korea here is confusing to me as, though I am not experiences in South Korean governance, I do understand South Korea to be a democracy and to be defined as such even by the most main-stream books and statistical organizations.

“Anyone who claims that democracy is a necessity for economic growth and health improvements will risk getting contradicted by reality. It’s better to argue for democracy as a goal in itself instead of as a superior means to other goals we like.

There is no single measure—not GDP per capita, not child mortality (as in Cuba), not individual freedom (as in the United States), not even democracy—whose improvement will guarantee improvements in all the others. There is no single indicator through which we can measure the progress of a nation. Reality is just more complicated than that.”

The world cannot be understood without numbers, nor through numbers alone. A country cannot function without a government, but the government cannot solve every problem. Neither the public sector nor the private sector is always the answer. No single measure of a good society can drive every other aspect of its development. It’s not either/or. It’s both and it’s case-by-case.”

Mr. Rosling provides many statistical models over the course of his book which speak of a glowingly positive world. Many of the statistics, in must be said, are carefully considered and, in terms of pure statecraft and policy-making, should be cause for celebration.

The result of this statistical and data-driven inquiry is a species of knowledge which can be useful in that form of political science which concerns itself with policy (political science rather than revolutionary politics) but it cannot serve us meaningfully as far as knowing people is concerned. Let us consider a poem by W.H. Auden titled The Unknown Citizen with our focus on the questions it poses about it’s subject (JS/07 M 378) and with which it closes. Here is the poem:

THE UNKNOWN CITIZEN BY W. H. AUDEN

(To JS/07 M 378

This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State)
He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be

One against whom there was no official complaint,

And all the reports on his conduct agree

That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,

For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.

Except for the War till the day he retired

He worked in a factory and never got fired,

But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.

Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,

For his Union reports that he paid his dues,

(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)

And our Social Psychology workers found

That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.

The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day

And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.

Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,

And his Health-card shows he was once in a hospital but left it cured.

Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare

He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan

And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,

A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content

That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;

When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.

He was married and added five children to the population,

Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.

Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

“Was he free? Was he happy?” The question is, as Auden writes, absurd. To the Bureau of Statistics and the estimation of the Greater Community which he served; to Producers Research and High-Grade Living as well as those who kept track of his Installment Plan and those at the census who counted his children; to those who kept track of his service in peacetime and his service in wartime; to the teachers of his children and to his teachers as well as to the Union and the Social Psychology Workers… and to the Press who kept track of his subscriptions… to everyone who kept information on this man in this sense, the questions “Was he free? Was he happy?” are absurd.

Auden’s “Unknown Citizen” is just as unknown to the reader at the end of the hundredth reading of the poem as he was before the reader read the poem for the first time.

In Lesson IV, I pointed some idiosyncrasies regarding the nature of artistic knowledge and I would now like to recount my points in order to expand on them (as promised). Here are my points from Lesson IV:

What can we know from art that we cannot know from science? The answer is to be found as follows (I have built upon inquiry by W. H. Auden which I will return to in the final lesson).

I go in to see my physician. After a skin test, an x-ray and a blood test my doctor ells me that I have  been infected with Tuberculosis. The doctor can make this diagnosis because of the fact that he knows the bacteria in question (Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria), can recognize it. As it turns out, he can  also prescribe a treatment.

The doctor can know and study the mycobacterium tuberculosis. The mycobacterium, cannot and does not know the doctor.

Any subject which is studied scientifically cannot also study the scientist. The historian can study the Battle of Hastings. The Battle of Hastings cannot know the historian. The Astronomer can know about the rings of Saturn. The rings of Saturn do not know about the astronomer.

On the other hand, there is the kind of knowledge which is meant by the following verse (from the bible):“AND Adam knew Eve his wife.”

This is the sort of knowledge which I describe when I say that “I know Brian Smith” very well. In order for me to know Brian Smith very well, Brian Smith must also know me (and he must know me well if not very well). I have to be a part of a human beings’ life if I am to know that person. In order to know a human being, one must also be known to that person. This is the basis of the relationship between the artist who makes a work of art and the audience interacting with the artwork in question.

On the most basic level, this also means that the artist must reveal himself (his personal vision of reality) in creating the work of art. This level is not a personal level and a personal vision of reality should not be confused with the personal life of the artist.

And here is how Auden puts the matter in his collection of essays called The Dyer’s Hand:

“The knowledge sought by science is only one kind of knowledge. Another kind is that implied by the Biblical phrase, “Then Adam knew Eve, his wife,” and it is this kind I still mean when I say, “I know John Smith very well.” I cannot know in this sense without being known in return. If I know John Smith well, he must also know me well.

But, in the scientific sense of knowledge, I can only know that which does not and cannot know me. Feeling unwell, I go to my doctor who examines me, says ‘You have Asian flu,’ and gives me an injection. The Asian virus is as unaware of my doctor’s existence as his victims are of a practical joker.”

Auden goes further than this:

“Further, to-know in the scientific sense means, ultimately, to-have-power-over. To the degree that human beings are authentic persons, unique and self-creating, they cannot be scientifically known. But human beings are not pure persons like angels; they are also biological organisms, almost identical in their functioning, and, to a greater or lesser degree, they are neurotic, that is to say, less free than they imagine because of fears and desires of which they have no personal knowledge but could and ought to have. Hence, it is always possible to reduce human beings to the status of things which are completely scientifically knowable and completely controllable.

Auden is specific in terms of the approaches which can be taken in order to accomplish this sort of control:

This can be done by direct action on their bodies with drugs, lobotomies, deprivation of sleep, etc. The difficulty about this method is that your victims will know that you are trying to enslave them and, since nobody wishes to be a^slave, they will object, so that it can only be practiced upon minorities like prisoners and lunatics who are physically incapable of resisting.”

Auden also outlines the process of manipulation (playing on the fears and desires of those whom one targets):

“The other method is to play on the fears and desires of which you are aware and they are not until they enslave themselves. In this case, concealment of your real intention is not only possible but essential for, if people know they are being played upon, they will not believe what you say or do what you suggest. An advertisement based on snob appeal, for example, can only succeed with people who are unaware that they are snobs and that their snobbish feelings are being appealed to and to whom, therefore, your advertisement seems as honest as lago seems to Othello

Iago’s treatment of Othello conforms to Bacon’s definition of scientific enquiry as putting Nature to the Question. If a member of the audience were to interrupt the play and ask him: “What are you doing?” could not lago answer with a boyish giggle, “Nothing. I’m only trying to find out what Othello is really like”? And we must admit that his experiment is highly successful. By the end of the play he does know the scientific truth about the object to which he has reduced Othello. That is what makes his parting shot, “What you know, you know,”’ so terrifying for, by then, Othello has become a thing, incapable of knowing anything.”

Scientific knowledge gives humanity dominion over what one knows. Auden is correct in saying that the scientific knowledge of human beings (data about human beings) can enable those with the knowledge to exert control over those subjects who are studied but only in the cases where manipulation, blackmail or extraordinary conditions (such as the carrying out of lobotomies and the forceful incarceration of people in concentration camps).

The following poem by Maktoum captures a different form of knowledge; that which can only be gleaned by art:

A MOTHER’S COMPLAINT

She came to complain to me about her son
broken by his injustice towards her.

She told me she was faithful, raised him well
after his father passed away.Her voice husky with emotion,
she recalls the day he threw her out of his house.

Then I called on one who would drag him to me
for I would be the prop she could count on for support.
But she interrupted me and implored
What will you do to him? Your Highness,
I am his mother, do not condemn him
for I cannot bear to be cruel to a son I still love.
How big a mother’s heart this mother owns.
To forgive, without grudge, the ingrate who is her son”

If the handfuls of misfits overwhelm the voices of our millions then my generation is going to know some very difficult times ahead.

The reason why I insist on identifying Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as democracies is because I know that they function as democracies and I know what is meant by the word when it is used (hardly ever is it deployed as a neutral word and less often than that have I found it used carefully and clearly).

There’s huge diversity in how societies have developed and this fact can be understood by undertaking even a cursory glance at the world with an honest desire to know the world.

From the functioning of a Republic which is powered by electors and sustained by the rule of law as interpreted by the Judicial Branch of lifetime appointees that we find in the United States to the Consitutional Monarchy of the United Kingdom that preserves the tribal council of the House of Windsor against the backdrop of an elected House of Commons and an unelected House of Lords to the Diet of Japan, there is no lack of diversity in government driven by the people. The organically developed form of government that is practiced in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf States feature millennia-long-established institutions of government such as the congressional social entity of the majlis which is strengthened by the consultative exercise of shura. This is a region where tribal leaders that have sustained their exercise of ensuring continuity, identity and a sense of familial responsibility to the people of the Gulf for centuries are legitimized by Bay’aa and take their task of accountability seriously. Deeming a government democratic is shorthand for calling that government legitimate and regarding it’s people as enfranchised and fully capable of existing legitimately and non-tyrannically while still being different from the observer.”

Stravinsky offered two admonitions on revolution which I must recall. First, he was careful to separate art from that which is insurrectionary and chaotic:

“The tone of a work like The Rite may have appeared arrogant, the language that it spoke may have seemed harsh in its newness, but that in no way implies that it is revolutionary in the most subversive sense of the word. If one only need break a habit to merit being labeled revolutionary, then every musician who has something to say and who in order to say it goes beyond the bounds of established convention would be known as revolutionary. Why burden the dictionary of the fine arts with this stertorous term, which designates in its most usual acceptation a state of turmoil and violence, when there are so many other words better adapted to designate originality? In truth, I should be hard pressed to cite for you a single fact in the history of art that might be qualified as revolutionary. Art is by essence constructive. Revolution implies a disruption of equilibrium. To speak of revolution is to speak of a temporary chaos. Now art is the contrary of chaos. It never gives itself up to chaos without immediately finding its living works, its very existence, threatened.”

In the second and final warning, he confirms that people who effect this turmoil and violence are unwittingly or wittingly capable of spoiling much more than the results of one or two individual’s creative labors. This attitude which glorifies the arbitrary and indulges gratuitous excess of it in order to satisfy  sheer sensation is capable of spoiling “every substance, every form that it touches”:

“The quality of being revolutionary is generally attributed to artists in our day with a laudatory intent, undoubtedly because we are living in a period when revolution enjoys a kind of prestige among yesterday’s elite. Let us understand each other: I am the first to recognize that daring is the motive force of the finest and greatest acts; which is all the more reason for not putting it unthinkingly at the service of disorder and base cravings in a desire to cause sensation at any price. I approve of daring; I set no limits to it. But likewise there are no limits to the mischief wrought by arbitrary acts. To enjoy to the full the conquests of daring, we must demand that it operate in a pitiless light. We are working in its favor when we denounce the false wares that would usurp its place. Gratuitous excess spoils every substance, every form that it touches.”

One simple definition of “democracy” can be offered that can also account for the many expressions of this species of government throughout the world: democracy operates “by and for the people” and is centrally guided by the will and welfare of the people who play leading and active roles in shaping their society. It is consensual government. By that definition, I see no reason or motivation for denying the label of “democracy” to the political systems of the nations of the Arabian Gulf unless the desire is to demean the vitality of the region’s inhabitants and underplay their role in shaping their history and contributing to human vitality at large. This is accomplished by portraying the nations and their people as entirely lacking in self-determination. That motivation can be demonstrated to be the operative function in countless articles and books that form a body of literature by journalists and other academic “experts.”

In book after book and article after article we encounter a dismissal of entire cultures and histories by authors who thinly veil the language of xenophobia by presenting it as information that is dutifully (and perversely) offered to the reader as “cultural education.” We must not fall for the veneer. These authors are not xenophobic at all and, if this book has demonstrated anything, I hope that I have shown clearly that anti-poetics are remarkably even-handed in meeting out destruction wherever accomplishment, construction and good works are present.

The repertoire of books and articles that posit the dehumanization of our entire species attack each culture with what seems to be an attempt to dismiss that culture’s role in shaping the world that we share and, by extension, bring into doubt that this culture has a rightful stake to even those quarters of the planet where they happen to have built their own nations.

In reality, the goal is simple division.

Nowhere, one could say, is this view more vividly expressed than in one outrageous sentence emblazoned into the first chapter of a 2009 book on Dubai called Cities of Gold. It’s author, a journalist and professor named Jim Krane, is a regularly cited “expert” in American academic and policy-making circuits.

Here’s what he has to say about the Gulf and the entire history of the peninsula:

“Few of the shockwaves of science and learning that molded human civilization penetrated the Gulf. History simply happened elsewhere.”

The pointless devaluation of humanity is not the sole domain of racialist dissertations but extends into the daily news cycle and, as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, has become a prominent feature of daily reporting studies of these specimens can be easily witnessed in the new-cycles of today; their vitriol, however, extends beyond Saudi Arabia or the politics any specific time-period and into the realm of duplicity rendered in the most blindly and indiscriminately of hateful tones: the assault on culture writ-large.

Consider Klaus Brinkbäumer, a German columnist who, writing in Der Spiegel (a German newspaper) offered the following perspective on the President of the United States:

“Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

The U.S. elected a laughing stock to the presidency and has now made itself dependent on a joke of a man.

Nothing is as it should be in this White House. Everyone working there has been compromised multiple times and now they all despise each other – and everyone except for Trump despises Trump.”

Compare the statement above to the following from The Guardian’s Editorial team:

“The reigns of Saudi kings in recent decades have been dominated by health concerns rather than navigating foreign and domestic turbulence.”

“Leaders can lose their minds in office. But rarely do they gain top positions when they have already lost the plot. King Salman ascended to the top job when rumours that he was suffering from dementia were rife. That is what makes Prince Mohammed’s position so concerning. This latest episode ought to focus minds in Riyadh on the suitability of the crown prince for the top job. He is officially the heir to the throne. Only in his 30s, Mohammed bin Salman could rule for a long time – a future that would be marked by instability if the past few years are any guide. King Salman has other talented sons. There are also other gifted royals. Prince Mohammed is King Salman’s third crown prince. If he had any hand in the events of the past fortnight, it must be time for the House of Saud to find a fourth.”

Despite the fact that Mr. Trump was elected by the American people, books continue to emerge which portray him as an “illiberal president” (this term has a predictably vague meaning) and even a “fascist.” Upon the publication of “Fascism: A warning,” by Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley, the New York Times wrote the following words which literally depict these prophets of doom as “Trump-era jeremiads”:

“The list of Trump-era jeremiads keeps growing: ‘The Road to Unfreedom,’ ‘Can It Happen Here?,’ ‘Fascism: A Warning’ and now ‘How Fascism Works,’ a slim volume by the Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley that breezes across decades and continents to argue that Donald Trump resembles other purveyors of authoritarian ultranationalism.”

Mr Trump won almost 63 million votes (62,984,828 is the exact number counted for him) as well as 301 electoral college votes.

In a letter to the editor at The Daily Advertiser (a local paper), a person named Sam Bryant seems to have instinctively placed his feelers on the issue at hand:

“Some people believe that a popular vote is the most democratic, and therefore want to abolish the Electoral College,” he says and then goes on to “thank God for the electoral college.” Thinking of a scenario where the popular vote would determine the outcome of an election, he writes the following:

“If that were the case, as we see in so many of our democratic neighbors, the candidates for president would only visit our largest cities and we would never see them or hear them in 98 percent of our country. They wouldn’t care because our voices in Louisiana, Colorado, Arkansas, Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, etc., wouldn’t matter.”

Compare this to one of the most damning self-indictments delivered by Timothy Snyder (a “Yale historian” from Times Magazine’s Davos report). Snyder served on the Foreign Relations Committee and warned that Trump would “subvert democracy” in a 2017 interview with Salon Magazine and arrived at Davos with a Trump-powered ratings boost. Ms. Ball introduces him as the author “whose book about tyranny Trump helped send shooting up the best-seller list.”

“If you’re American now,” said Snyder, “you have to answer the question. Why is democracy a good idea if it brings you to this?’ What good is democracy, the world wants to know, if the result is Trump?”

In 2017, Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia appeared on WWF-toned “interview program” called “The Conflict Zone.” After an introductory sequence that is replete with exploding volcanic fireballs, and a computer-generated model of the word “promise” which is literally shattered to pieces, Tim Sebastian  the show’s host launched into his interviewee. Not yet 2 minutes into the interview Sebastian refers to Saudi Arabia as a country where “nobody has a say in who rules them.” Prince Turki comments on Sebastian’s tone but goes on to clarify the situation:

“But thank you for the opportunity to answer such questions. The kingdom’s rulers are chosen by the people. There is a baya’a process which in Islamic tradition the people of the country actually choose their rulers and so the kingdom’s rulers are not there by force they’re there by the will of the people.”

It is this delusion, that “nobody has a say in who rules them” that gives Sebastian the opening which he requires in order to attempt his journalistic act of mimicry. If “nobody has a say in who rules them” then Mr. Sebastian is, for lack of a better description, self-justified as “the voice of the voiceless.”

Recall this as well as Mr. Krane’s statement (“Few of the shockwaves of science and learning that molded human civilization penetrated the Gulf. History simply happened elsewhere.”) and compare these statements to the following example.

Writing in July 2018, Philip Bump, a reporter for the Washington Post, spoke of the 2016 electoral map in these terms: “The fundamental tension in presenting the results of an election in a map is balancing geography with population. Maps generally depict geographic areas, and votes rarely conform neatly to geographic boundaries. We’re left considering maps of presidential election results, then, which in recent cycles have been broad swaths of red punctuated by the occasional blue splotch.”

He goes on to write the following at the conclusion of his article:

“That’s the other problem with Trump’s map: All that red is not only mostly empty space, much of it is increasingly only empty land.

Mr Trump received votes in all fifty states and the percentage of the electorate who voted for him are only separated in numbers by a few percentage points (in the lower single digits at that). That does not matter to Mr. Bump who, in the passage above, equated nearly 63 million Americans with dirt.

The Washington Post covered U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2017 state visit to Saudi Arabia in terms that seem intended to deny Saudi Arabia obvious human attributes (though the target of the article was Mr. Trump).

“Anne Applebaum is a Washington Post columnist, covering national politics and foreign policy, with a special focus on Europe and Russia. She is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and a professor of practice at the London School of Economics. She is a former member of The Washington Post’s editorial board.”

Anne Applebaum’s May 21st column titled Trump’s Bizarre and un-American Visit to Saudi Arabia did not limit itself to criticism of political figures or policy. It took aim at the people and culture of Saudi Arabia.

It described the visit as “bizarre, unseemly, unethical and un-American.” The statement is that the values that America was built on (“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”) were not also endemic to the people of Saudi Arabia.

The reporter wastes no time in discounting Saudi Arabia from the list of nations that qualify as “democratic” and wonders why the president’s first trip was not made to either Mexico or Canada” which she labels as “countries that are close trading partners, close allies, compatible democracies and of course neighbors.” Saudi Arabia, by virtue of being a distant place that happens to be culturally and linguistically different from the United States, is disqualified from being a “compatible democracy.” Mexico and Canada, it must be stated, also possess cultures and languages of their own and the United States does not possess one single culture but is made up of a tapestry of cultures and peoples.

The reporter also betrays a lack of basic factual knowledge regarding the nation whose culture and people she is denigrating. She writes that the nation “forces women to hide their faces and forbids them to travel without a male guardian’s permission.” Both statements are objectively false. She states that Saudi Arabia supports extremism and ” sponsors extremist Wahabi mosques and imams all over the world” without acknowledging that there is no such thing as a “Wahabi mosque.”

The gist of her message is clear and I can paraphrase it as follows: “Saudi Arabia is not a place where humanity flourishes. It is not a democracy that respects the basic dignity of human beings.”

Ms. Appelbaum is not moved to skeptical inquiry by the deduction that her allegations about Saudi Arabian sponsorship of terror which, if true would make Saudi Arabia a nation that does not cohere with essential Islamic teachings. The basic dignity of humankind as well as the principles of personal liberty are fundamental and immutable Islamic principles that are clearly articulated in the Quran. She tells us that Saudi Arabia is not concerned with people by labeling the Saudi system of government as an “oligarchic kleptocracy” (how can a government that steals from people be concerned with those people?).

Ms. Appelbaum extends beyond dehumanization and into the attempt to demonstrate an anti-humanity on the part of Saudi Arabia. She writes that “Osama bin Laden was a Saudi citizen.” The implication here is that a society or nation (together with it’s entire set of established communal and social values which were built up over millennia of history) can somehow be indicted as murderous through the identification of one criminal. Ms. Appelbaum is saying that a nation and the world are justified in holding an entire nation accountable and responsible for the behavior of a criminal. The humane and just course of action involves holding the criminal to account by bringing that criminal to justice. In naming Osama Bin Laden, Ms. Applebaum disregards the 32 million other people in Saudi Arabia who are Saudi citizens.

Osama Bin Laden is actually the only “Saudi” mentioned by Ms. Appelbaum.

The reason I write (“Saudi”) and not (Saudi) in the previous sentence is owed to Ms. Appelbaum’s disregard for the basic facts of the matter at hand. Osama bin Laden was not a Saudi citizen at the time of the September 11th attacks but was stripped of his citizenship and banned from the country in 1994. It bears mentioning that major American news outlets including the Washington Post did not identify Bin Laden as a terrorist but as a “dissident.” Their language throughout the 1990s conveyed a story of Bin Laden as sort of legitimate opposition to the Saudi government whose mission was to challenge the “regime.” This reporting continued even after Bin Laden’s deadly terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabia claimed innocent lives and rocked the nation. Some reports, such as this one (https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/eafricabombing/stories/main080898.htm) identified Bin Laden as a “wealthy Saudi exile” even as real human beings (who happened to be thousands of miles away from the Washington Post) continued to reel in the face of the terrible destruction he was already crafting.

The concerted attempt to deny Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations the distinction of being considered  “democracy” has an effect here too and it is demonstrated in a line from the 2017 article in the Washington Post that describes Saudi lives as unfree and lacking in self-determination. It is, says the Post, “a place where there is no political freedom and no religious freedom.” If the reader is to accept the conceit that Saudi Arabia is a nation filled with people who have no control over their lives and country, I cannot understand how we are to be surprised to hear that these same people died in circumstances that were simply beyond their control and perhaps even endemic to their culture.

Meanwhile, in The Time Magazine report from Davos all of the obsession with self and power that defines the tone of Ms. Ball’s narrative comes into play in the following lines.

“Davos welcomes the powerful,” says Ms. Ball “whatever their creed. In the past, the gathering has hosted decidedly nonenlightened leaders” She then goes on to cite an investor: “You have hundreds of other world leaders here,” he said, ‘including nondemocratic leaders, people who violate human rights and so on.’ There was a sudden commotion behind us as the Prime Minister of India emerged from the hall where he had been speaking, trailed by a crowd of cameras.”

Ms. Ball’s confusing non-sequitur functions as a transition which, in an opera, motion picture or novel, serves to connect two things which are apparently unrelated. In Ms Ball’s article (a report from a conference), the transition ties Indian Prime Minister Modhi with “nonenlightened and nondemocratic leaders” and “human rights abusers.” That inexplicable pivot does not function as a political critique of Mr. Modhi; it says nothing whatsoever about him but it does connect Mr Modhi to tyranny by virtue of the technique itself.

What the paragraph in question disregards is the fact that Mr. Modhi was in attendance at Davos as a representative of one billion people. He was elected by them in the largest democracy on earth. And those billion people continue to rate his performance very well (‘http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/11/15/ india-modi-remains-verv-popular-three-vears-in/).

Ms. Ball ignored the purpose of her assignments (and the opportunity to speak with hundreds of leaders who were in attendance and whose views affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the United States and Billions of people across the world). She ignored all this in order to tell us what she saw in her own reality and shared with her friends (like those who brag about profiteering from Donald Trump only to chide him as a tyrant). People like that would need to do a lot of maturing if they were to ever regain the currency of trust that they have squandered from a good portion of the American public. But why would that trust be important or even perceptible to Ms. Ball?

Ms. Ball’s most glaring dispatch from Davos is the conclusion that Time decided to include in the headline: ‘America no longer matters.’

Meanwhile, Timothy Snyder did not limit himself to the rumination on democracy in which he questioned the entire point of self-government through the congress and consensus of the public because the results of the 2016 election brought a candidate who was undesirable to him. He also offered this:

“A year ago, everyone thought Trump was just fascinating. I spend a lot of my life in Europe, and what I see is that the Europeans have moved on. America no longer matters.”

The fact that America’s delegation at Davos was one of the largest at the World Economic Forum doesn’t matter to Snyder nor does the fact that the US delegation is large because of the number of companies (companies like Hewitt Packard and Microsoft; Apple and S&P and many more) exist in the United States. These companies will exist after Mr. Trump’s term in office and existed before his arrival to the presidency. It certainly doesn’t matter to Mr. Snyder that the companies attending WEF 2018 hold real stakes in the real lives of millions of employees and affected non-employees (and I mean laborers and investors and published authors; workers and researchers and so many others) in their purview. Why do all those real lives not matter? Because, Mr Snyder says, “I spend a lot of my life in Europe, and what I see is that the Europeans have moved on.”

Mr. Snyder doesn’t know “the Europeans.” Europe is a diverse group of nations consisting of millions of people (most of whom are not constantly in Snyder’s vicinity). These millions have an infinite number of concerns of their own as well as sorrows, joys and endless ambiguities. Like the hundreds of millions of Americans who live in the United States, these people matter.

The rest of the world matters too. Democracy might be expressed through the civic ethos of various nations in different ways and it might manifest itself differently when you look at it’s practice in the UAE as opposed to, say, the United States, India, Japan or Germany. But one universal remains and it was expressed so succinctly in an observation by Prince Saud A1 Faisal of Saudi Arabia fhttps://www.huffingtonpost.- com/mohammed-fairouz/burying-an-elder_b_7767416.htmn who explains why some Middle Eastern states (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya etc) have failed while others (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other GCC states) have stood strong.

Speaking of the troubles in those countries he was clear. “It is happening in different ways in different countries for different reasons,” he said, as originally quoted by David Ignatius in The Washington Post. Prince Saud went on to observe that “the similarity…is a lack of attention to the will of the people by the governing bodies, and an assumption that they can go on neglecting the will of the people because they control the situation. But, you can never avoid what the people want, no matter what government you have.”

Back in Ms. Appelbaum’s story, she is ready to move on to her next section which is titled “The sword dance” and this is where we explicitly learn about what we are supposed to prioritize when it comes to Saudi Arabia.”Every American president” she said “has met with his Saudi counterparts, and of course the stability of Saudi Arabia, as well as its oil, is an important U.S. security concern.”

At this point, anyone who might still be convinced that the Washington Post is attempting critical and hard-hitting journalism should dispel of this notion. This is not criticism. It is a statement places the value of a commodity (in this case, oil) above human lives. It was printed in the Washington Post and it drove me to write to the opinion editor, Fred Hiatt, with whom I had already maintained some correspondence.  In my message I said that it was “just dehumanizing to see a list like this in the Washington Post. It goes beyond political criticism and well into the territory of a general assault on culture.”

I then clarified to the editor my stance on the First Amendment Rights and conceded that if the reporter wanted to disparage my culture and humanity, I would stand by her right to do that. Instead of espousing the dubious track of censorship, I then offered to correct and rebut the reporters points with a respect that she had not afforded me or my culture. As a composer of stature, I could also explain what the ancient sword dance was and, hopefully, inform the readers about yet another aspect of the richness and diversity of our existence.

In my letter to Mr. Hiatt, I identified the writer’s case as a dehumanizing and general assault on culture. I then told him that: “Ms. Appelbaum,is, of course, entitled to make that case and I defend her right to do it. But if given the opportunity to respond in your pages, I would like to do so very respectfully and address each of Ms. Appelbaum’s points one by one.”

I ended my note by expressing my concern about what the writer’s approach told us about her purported mission of advancing open debate and democratic criticism: “I fear, when I see arguments like this, is that fine-tuned thinkers who believe in the openness that is foundational to liberalism and democratic pluralism are taking a tone that is every bit as xenophobic as [what they claim to] oppose.”

Mr. Hiatt, who had a perfect track record of responding to every email I had ever sent him told me all that I needed to know about his stance on advancing open debate and democratic criticism when he met an offer of respectful and specific dissent from an artist who aims to operate dispassionately and outside the spectrum of politics, with silence.

After telling us that American presidents had to met with Saudi counterparts because of oil and other non-human interests, the reporter makes her point of view clear and, using a collective “we” that seems to want to speak on behalf of over 350 million Americans (the majority of whom are, like people of any nation that has survived the test of time, happy to live with the world and engage with it), proclaims that the alliance that has seen hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Saudis and Americans become partners in business, education enterprise and friendship, did not mean an endorsement of “their culture”:

“But until now American presidents made it clear that, while we have to deal with Saudi leaders, we don’t endorse their culture. Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others in the delegation did exactly that, by participating in this sinister all-male dance.”

It is the “Saudi leaders” and not the people (a distinction that would not need to be made in a society that was deemed to be a “democracy”) that “we” have to deal with.

Let us turn to Molly Ball’s report from Davos for one final look at her story before we end this section with a discussion of better things (like “sword dances”).

Ms. Ball’s report from Davos began by setting a conspiratorial tone. “Much like the secret infrastructure of money and power that makes the world go round,” says Ball, “the Swiss Alps were imposing but nearly invisible as the world’s financial, political and intellectual leaders gathered in Davos.”

One must assume that the “secret infrastructure of money and power that makes the world go around” is Ms. Ball’s way of referring to the world economy; a subject that is germane considering that she is reporting from the World Economic Forum.

The leaders who attend the WEA are, by and large, either sent there by their nations (political leaders) or they are leaders in terms of their general hold of marketshare. They make consequential decisions that affect the lives of their people. Many people around the world expect their leaders to return from Davos with a situation report if not tangible results. The press is an important player in conveying this information. Most American publications and media outlets did not feel compelled to fill this role.

The report in Time and the other “stories” in this section are worth looking at because of how typical they are of practices that recur in coverage written by anti-journalists at work throughout the major American print and cable news outlets. The ramifications of these practices are potentially dire and, while my field of vision doesn’t extend into the future, I would like to offer some observations based on what we know.

Rather than seek to profile the President’s statements (or any statements by any of the attendant world leaders), Ms. Ball spent her time speaking to other writers (including a “Yale historian whose book about tyranny Trump helped send shooting up the best-seller list”) and consultants. Some of them are sourced; others, as is increasingly the habit, were not. The entire economic summit is painted as a set of cocktail parties.

Trump’s election is described in cataclysmic terms as the “capstone of a populist wave that saw Britain reject the E.U. in the Brexit vote and far-right parties rise across Europe.” The “wave” is a natural event (not an event in the secular world of nations) that sees people and nations who are dissimilar joined together into a catastrophic force. This force joins together new-coming European players (LePen was a teenager when Trump was already an established political voice) with known political entities into a confusing whole.

A lot of unrelated information is presented chaotically (it is sometimes tangentially conflated and presented in one barrage). At first, this barrage might seem attractive. Like Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” or his “Death of Davos Man,” these reductions provide policy experts and the public alike with one or two big concepts to sell and/or digest rather than a diverse array of issues and concerns that must be taken one by one (the way the world is). It’s also more dramatic; the sort of thing that made the New York Times bristle when Orson Welles delivered the War of the Worlds. It was not the content of Welles’ broadcast that angered the Times of 1938 but rather the use of technique that confounds tone, intent and, eventually (if left socially unchecked), meaning. Mr. Welles was an artist who, in his broadcast, confounded the contract between artist and audience on the one hand and the contract between  journalist and audience on the other).

Back to the issue of the sword dance. What exactly is this mysterious and “sinister sword dance”?

The Alardah is one of the most mesmerizing and finely tuned displays of dance, drumming and rhythmic poetry. There are all-male dances in the Gulf but also mixed dances as well as all-female dances. The Alardah performers have fine-tuned subtle rhythmic interplay as they developed a sophisticated dialogue between the crafts of drummers dancers and poets as well as a single flag-bearer whose costumes are meticulously detailed and who represent social cohesion between the different artisans and members of the community who are also invited to participate. The poetry, which begins as a single confrontation against silence is then transformed into a weaving contrapuntal structure and finally, in a move that reminds me of the trumpets that duel across the theater at the opening of Moteverdi’s Orpheo, the poetic chants are raised into heralding song as the poet gives the musical material to all the participants who then treat it antiphonally. This requires incredible disciple and cooperation.

It is then that the dance drums are struck in quick and virtuosic succession always proceeding from the larger drums to the smaller (and thus upward in pitch). Finally, the participants (who are all singing along with all the performers) begin a hypnotic swaying as they rock back and forth, side to side and arm in arm. They carry light swords which they then synchronize in up-down motions that provide harmony with the rhythm followed by a beat of rhythmic dissonance before returning to harmony with the drums and, eventually, the verses. The poem ends and all the participants gather towards the flag. The Ardha is danced by all men and is a harmonious dance in it’s tone. It unites Saudis who participate regardless of social class or age. People of all professions are linked through the singular heartbeat that is the cornerstone of rhythmic invention in music all over the world. The Ardha consists of male dancers but women are considered participants as well because they craft the works of art that are worn and wielded through the dance.

Even though art can involve dances that are disturbing (Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils as realized by Richard Strauss comes to mind), the Ardah is actually dominated  by expressions of mutual respect and symbolism that denotes social cohesion and inclusion.

The Ardha is an experience that has been preserved by Saudi Arabia but it is available to be experienced by all of humanity.

That is cause for gratitude. As a composer, partaking in the Ardha was an experience that spoke to me of the profound artistic density and sequence that I yearn to incorporate into an opera of mine in the future. I also remembered when, as I student, I sang  in the chorus for an opera called Gloriana which was written in 1953 by the great British composer Benjamin Britten. I remembered how studying the choral dances of Britten’s opera as well as the form of the 16th Century English Masques that they were written to evoke would never prepare me for the experience of participating in them as a performer.

In Britten’s opera, we follow the historic character of Gloriana (Queen Elizabeth the First). as she departs Norwich after a visit that is depicted in the drama. As the historic queen prepares to take leave, locals consisting of an all-female ensemble sing the first scene of entertainment in loyal homage to the Queen. Each short scene that follows is a presentation of a different group of people as well as a representation of an offering. The country girls are followed by an all-male dance of young rustics and fishermen and all this is finally seen to culminate into a finale in which Gloriana’s subjects all come together in an homage to their Queen.

Britten was aware of what he was dealing with. He referred to the masque as an inquiry into “certain facets of English musical life” and marveled at how they illuminated “the rich ceremonial aspects” of the Elizabethan period. As I sang the ancient wisdom that spoke of the vital musical element of time, I was moved by how I could feel the astonishing work of human genius in the quickening of time and the concord and discord of rhythm:

Concord is here
Our days to bless
And this our land to endue
With plenty, peace and happiness.

Concord and Time
Each needeth each:
The ripest fruit hangs where
Not one, but only two can reach.

Realizing how Britten artfully crafted the semi-imitative counterpoint that animated the words above made me acutely aware of how the beating of my own heart affected my perceptions of the two weaving lines. I was aware of how my breath affected the mechanism of the rhythm and slowed time until I felt no desire to click along metronomically to any rhythm. Anything clocklike or resembling a “beat” would be an intrusion into the noble stillness. This was an elevation of serenity that reminded me of the waves in the Ardha and the harmony it brought me. I was happy to be a human being and inspired to think that I could follow in the footsteps of our creative ancestors.

These are the good things that lasted and were preserved for us. I couldn’t imagine approaching the Elizabethan Masque or the Ardha or the Hoe Downs that were processed through the razor sharp intellect and artistic virtuosity of creation that the American composer Aaron Copland brought to the glorious apotheosis of rhythmic dissonance and the celebration of the supremacy of the off-beat that we have in the rhythms of the American West.

I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the fact that the Masque, like the Ardha, had been preserved for us and carried across the centuries. I was grateful, too, that Benjamin Britten focused his compositional inquiry into the masque in such a way that he was able to bring it to life as part of a new whole and, in so doing, bring us close to people who lived in a time that I can hardly imagine and endured through periods of human history that were barer for the average person than the relative embarrassment of riches that we enjoy and take for granted today.

I felt those ancient people as human beings and, as they sang their final farewell to Gloriana after presenting her with their gift of a creative offering, my heart was beating with their genius as my own. Despite the centuries, I felt them somehow draw near to me through the sheer humanity of Britten’s marvelous setting:

These tokens of our love receiving
O take them, Princess great and dear.

From Norwich city you are leaving,
That you afar may feel us near.  

In 2015, the Ardha was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The cultural heritage of humanity is something to build on.

In retrospect, I am pleased that the Washington Post never did respond to my email. Rather than crafting a response to their exercises in destruction, I could build on what our creative predecessors built and then they left it behind for us. That is why I want to build this in Saudi Arabia.

Nobody will care about me as a person when a hundred years have passed. The fact that I earnestly love humanity and create works which are technical demonstrations of my perceptions of humanity will matter. The human race has so much good work to be done and the best of us, I am sure, have not been born yet.

I would be remiss if I did not affirm my roles as a creative practitioner and offer any small contribution. I want to help ensure that creation and not destruction will carry the day. So much future shouldn’t be jeopardized because of a handful of misfits who are bent on destruction. We, as artists, can express this affirming flame more humbly and germanely than any abstract philosopher or revolutionary politician. This is why I love those men and women who genuinely work in public service and statecraft as they are doing the work that ascertains humanity’s day-to-day building of a future.

Prince Saud Al -Faisal expressed the contradiction to be found in clashing and contrasted the “clash” with truly civilized models (cumulative ones):

“I believe there can never be a clash of civilizations between us. It is a contradiction in terms. Civilizations are not competing products in the marketplace but rather the collective effort of human genius built on cumulative contributions from many cultures. We are all indebted to the ingenuity of great men like Bacon, Locke, Rousseau and Goethe. Who can deny the effects of the great Greek philosophers on our civilization, or the role of such Islamic thinkers as Avicenna, Al-Razi, Ibn Al-Haytham and Ibn Rushd in keeping the flames of human knowledge burning during the darkest ages, let alone the shining beacons of knowledge, from India and China? So civilization cannot be monopolized by any single nation or group.”

“There is no argument between us either regarding the universality of the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity, or the Jeffersonian democratic ideals or the Wilsonian principle of self-determination. Our own Arab and Islamic heritage incorporates most of these values. And, considering our myriad differences, this unity of vision is quite extraordinary. If [you] are to help us in bringing about the transformation of the Middle East, these principles are far more powerful in their sublime inspiration than any weapons of war in inflicting fear and intimidation. By returning to these values you can win the hearts and minds of the Arab and Muslim peoples.”

The Quran removes any doubt regarding the absence of relativity in human life and asserts the unity of all human life as a single organism of human life:

“19. The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account.

20. So if they dispute with thee, say: “I have submitted My whole self to Allah and so have those who follow me.” And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: “Do ye (also) submit yourselves?” If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, Thy duty is to convey the Message; and in Allah.s sight are (all) His servants.

21. As to those who deny the Signs of Allah and in defiance of right, slay the prophets, and slay those who teach just dealing with mankind, announce to them a grievous penalty.

22. They are those whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the Hereafter nor will they have anyone to help.

23. Hast thou not turned Thy vision to those who have been given a portion of the Book? They are invited to the Book of Allah, to settle their dispute, but a party of them Turn back and decline (The arbitration).

24. This because they say: “The Fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days”: For their forgeries deceive them as to their own religion.”

“32. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole of humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of humanity. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”

3. The State of Affairs: A Report

The consequences of peddling this new genre of “notionally accurate” journalistic story-telling is that it obscures the day to day record of news through the arbitrary application of plot twists, character development, hypodiegesis, metaphor and an array of other literary techniques that are usually reserved for artistic inquiry. We have example after example of artistic techniques employed by great novelists, poets, screenwriters and other creative writers. Their efforts have resulted in a corpus of enduring literary masterworks. When these techniques are employed by journalists the result registers as not only lazy profiteering but also seems to indicate that many of these journalists see themselves as accomplishing creative feats by simply employing the techniques that artists have deployed as a means to their creative end. The evident inability to produce edifying creative work and the apparent unwillingness to do the work required of true journalism (telling the truth) is anti-art and anti-journalism.

The trope among anti-journalists is exactly the opposite of the sentiment one would expect to find among true journalists: “nobody could possibly have seen this coming.”

Well, of course anyone who was paying attention could see daily events progress as “one damn thing after another.” Cataclysms don’t happen in politics (political developments must be slow and slow-moving by virtue of the very nature of society). We can see clearly. A good first step is to separate the drama from the plain lies. The fictional character of Donald Trump must be separated from the reality of the real Donald Trump, his history and his current political life. So, in the spirit of tribute to real journalists, allow me to now attempt a report of my own. Let’s start with what we know.

Trump is a house-hold name. We have been hearing of his presidential aspirations for decades. He has been broadcasting his opinions on everything political since well before I was born. In 1988, before the European Union was even established, he offered a manifestation of his current approaches to policy (“There’s Nothing Wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy that a Little Backbone Can’t Fix”) and he took to the airwaves to explain it (https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=SEPsl7_AkTI). Though the expression of his ideas may have evolved into something brasher, the fact is that Trump’s basic outlook hasn’t fundamentally changed in decades.

Trump’s tone isn’t new either. 2016 wasn’t even Donald Trump’s first bid for the presidency and those of us who were paying attention to his 2000 campaign will find it hard to forget his evisceration of Pat Buchanan as a “hitler-lover.” http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/ 1999/10/08/trump.transcript/ The themes were clear: Chamberlain-like “lack of backbone” in the face of global catastrophe can be fixed if we regain our confidence.

It was a formula to be repeated with President Obama whom he extolls in a chapter of his 1999 book titled Think Like a Champion. “Bush,” says Trump, “has been so incompetent that any Republican would have a hard time unless they could bring back Eisenhower. He was a disaster for the country as well as for the Republican Party.

“Then he asked me about Barack Obama. I told him that Barack will need to be a great president, because we’re in serious trouble as a country. It hasn’t been this way since 1929. So he doesn’t have much choice — he will simply have to be great, which he has a very good chance of being. I saw him speak in Berlin, and what he has done is amazing. The fact that he accomplished what he has in one year is truly phenomenal.”

Trump clearly sees Obama in historic terms; he writes his perceptions into novels of epic tones. “After 9/11,” he continues, “this country had a lot of compassion from countries around the world. Within a short amount of time, we were hated. How did that happen? We had no dialog with other countries because they just plain hated us. I think we know who is responsible for that. What’s different today is that we have a new chance, a new beginning. The world is excited about Barack Obama and the new United States. Let’s keep it that way!”

A year later, Trump was to return and give Obama a “B+ at least.”

Meanwhile, the world continued at it’s regular pace. By the end of Obama’s eight years in office, it would be a different place to anyone looking in from 2008 (when Twitter was a nascent novelty in anticipation of being named as it’s creator, Mr. Dorsey, looked through the dictionary page for one).

Within a couple of years, “social media” had come to confound other media outlets and applications like Twitter and Facebook in particular became organizing tools for initiatives noble, nefarious and comic alike. Some governments (like that of Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt) fell after decades of rule and major papers were being held to account in a way that they had never known (by millennial fact-checkers and other such threats). The war in Iraq left a vaccum which extended to the destabilization of Syria and the ruthless and savage response of Bashar A1 Assad and his “allies.”

The leaders of the world (like those who congregated at Davos) are tasked by their people with maintaining prosperity through trade and collaboration but also with maintaining global order by punishing those who offend it (Putin’s Ukrainian affront comes to mind). In this atmosphere, Obama faltered in the face of an explicit red line that he had placed for Bashar A1 Assad in Syria. The “new-chance, a new beginning” that Trump was hoping for in Obama’s presidency was dashed due to that same Chamberline-like “lack of backbone.”

Mr. Obama went on to initiate discussions with Iran and was determined to reach a deal with an adversarial government to the chagrin of America’s oldest allies in the area (Saudi Arabia and Israel chief among them).

In 2015, 1 wrote of Obama’s reticence to respond to allied calls for an intensification of the military fight that could “first and foremost, dislodge DAESH from it’s strongholds in Rakkah, Mosul and other major cities where the group holds sway and thrives. That doesn’t look like its going to happen and attacks on countries like Kuwait and France (countries where U.S. soldiers fought and died to defend American interests and strengthen American alliances) will continue.”

“The world today,” I said in 2015, “is a supremely dangerous place for the United States and it’s friends. And it’s likely to get worse before it gets worse… [Obama’s] legacy will have to be defined in longer, broader and bigger ways. And for that perhaps the most relevant question is: “after 8 years of disastrous policy from George W. Bush and 8 years of directionless apathy from Barack Obama, who will be tasked with the nightmare of having to rebuild a strong and coherent U.S. Foreign Policy?”

It is not hard to imagine Donald Trump stepping up in response to this call.

The only way we wouldn’t see it as obvious is if the President Trump we see on major social and traditional media channels is simply not the same person who currently occupies the White House.

In fact, the majority of Americans following CNN’s coverage from Davos (or most current news about their President) will not have seen his meeting with North Korean Defectors (https:// www.voutube.com/watch7vNMWL_9XmNRv4L his Lunch with the UN Security Council fhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBR9vEW6TZD: his bilateral with the Swiss Delegation at Davos (https://www.voutube.com/watch?v=bhi2s9FBFcEL his productive meeting with Mayors of major US cities thttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSWbndbyYeoL his meetings with world leaders (including meetings with the presidents of South Korea and Kazakhstan that framed his Davos trip)… the events and working sessions go on.

These sessions are a daily brief of scheduled work that will not interest most Americans as entertainment (they are not supposed to). I bring them to light only to say that, if seen for what they are, the workings of this administration mostly correspond to what things should look like in the halls of government. That consists of the boring but consequential reality of a political administration trying to do it’s job rather than the popular portrayals of the president that most Americans are accustomed to seeing.

The popular portrayal of Mr. Trump by anti-journalists highlights the president’s foibles and invents faults which were never there to begin with. Anti-journalists do not cover his daily work. Beyond the beginning concept of “Donald Trump” is a tree of characters resulting in as many different personalities as one might like depending on the outlet and predilection of the writers in question. This is not a new narrative strategy but it has been aggravated in the last decade and now many writers in newspapers seem unaware of the fact that they are lying (some of them are doing so with no copy editors to keep them in check).

Back in 1999, the LA Times reported that “While acknowledging that the media are giving him a free ride, Trump suggests that it’s the media who are using him and not the other way around. ‘Look,’ he says, ‘they only want me for one reason: ratings.’” (http://articles.latimes.com/1999/ dec/06/news/mn-41061/2)

At the Aspen Ideas Festival, the American linguist John McWhorter addressed fhttps://www.the- atlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/a-columbia-professors-critique-of-campus-politics/532335/t the “current situation” in the United States in refreshingly realistic terms:

“I think the spark for the current situation is perhaps more mundane than we’d like to think. I don’t think that for some reason everybody went crazy. I don’t think it’s because of the president we happen to have in office. I think it’s social media. Social media, especially when you have it in your pocket in the form of the iPhone, allows bubbles of consensus to come together such that you can whip people up in a way that was not possible a generation before, or even ten years before.”

Prof. McWhorter adds a welcome clarification: the fact that the United States is not dealing with a “social cataclysm” doesn’t mean that it is not facing societal crisis. “It’s what scares me,” says McWhorter, “because social media is not going away.”

Mcwhorter gets us closer to a diagnosis of the current situation but it is only partial. One must now follow the entire saga of developing social trends from the appointment of “marketshare as value” to the invention of convenient characters (Trumps) and the anointing of “prophets” (Coates;Wolff etc)… Our diagnosis must be more than “it’s social media” because social media is just the tool; the technology at hand.

A new technique was being deployed in 1938, when Orson Welles created The War of The Worlds. Here is the New York Times’ 1938 response to Welle’s work:

“Radio is new but it has adult responsibilities. It has not mastered itself or the material it uses. It does many things which the newspapers learned long ago not to do, such as mixing its news and its advertising. Newspapers know the two must be rigidly separated and plainly marked. In the broadcast of The War of the Worlds blood- curdling fiction was offered in exactly the manner that real news would have been given Radio officials should have thought twice before mingling this news technique with fiction so terrifying.”

The social trends outlined above all underline an inability or lack of willingness to understand the nuances of the world in terms of patient inquiry or to understand the behavior of countries in terms of the complex and morally ambiguous nature of nation states.

It is not simply that the vision of a significant portion of the adult American “news-media” is comprehensively muddied by breakdowns of the world into extremist binaries. It seems that many anti-journalists cannot yet demonstrate the ability to handle complexity that is supposed to come with the development of critical faculties as individuals mature into adulthood. The Americans writing in 1938 use words like “adult responsibilities” to speak of the uncontroversial thing it should be. Their awareness of the concept of “adult responsibility” is precisely what makes it possible for the Times of 1938 to not only call for rigid and plain separation of facts which are recorded and reported and facts which are made. It meant that they were aware of a distinction between the former and the latter.

Prof. McWhorter’s key insight here comes from his extension of inquiry into the annihilation of critical complexity in the areas of imagery and symbolology:

“It’s not only about words but about pictures. And that is more viscerally stirring than pamphlets or that thing called the physical newspaper in the past. And so I think it’s inevitable that with the rise of social media you would have this assault on free speech on campus, in the same way that I don’t think there would have been a Tea Party if it weren’t for Twitter and Facebook. I don’t think that it was Obama as the key factor. I think it was the fact that that kind of sentiment could be whipped up to such an extent by these toys that, it’s easy to forget what it was like when they didn’t exist.”

“These toys” are not whipping up any sentiment. They are being filled with intent and meaning, as was intended, with simplistic and infinitely self-referential (as opposed to subjective) “short Burts of inconsequential information” by people who operate at that level of capability and on violation which cannot be controlled.

In 2015, an incident occurred where anti-poetic protesters (who claimed that they were “protesting” the “slavery” at the construction of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi) sat in the middle of the museum’s atrium until they could be removed by police. By the time they were removed, they had already effectively shut down the museum for most of the day thttp://www.artnews.- com/2015/05/01/mav-dav-protesters-occupv-the-guggenheim/Y

They weren’t interested in the fact that there was no construction to speak of and certainly none to protest. Their feelings were more important. The sad part is that they didn’t pay attention to the families who waited all week to take their children to the Guggenheim and the people who travelled from all over the world to go to the Guggenheim.

Among these are people who are not very rich and they can’t get to New York easily. They save up and travel thousands of miles to show their kids and loved ones the cultural treasures of this city at the Metropolitan Opera and the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other institutions that are also now being beleaguered. These people can’t just extend their hotel another few days. That cost money and some people need to plan carefully to do this. They plan for years some of them. And then they have to explain to their kids (and themselves) that they can’t see the magic of human genius in the great theaters or museums because there are people “occupying” these spaces to vent their irrational anxieties and feelings and, above all, make themselves feel better about themselves.

The rest of the public has to contend with the presence of a good number of people who will treat their own irrationalities of the lowest order as more vital than the lives and richnesses of their fellow human beings. The ultimate testament to anxious insecurity and narcissism is that they would deprive other Americans and other people of art. Their feelings (and feeling good) is deemed more essential than the education of loved ones; than the elderly men and women who first visited the great museums decades ago and have now made a trip in their old age knowing that there is a good chance that they would be seeing these places for the last time. They don’t matter to those who only concern is the feeling that they are “doing good.”

The illusory high of moral superiority quickly reveals itself to be unsatisfactory. Attaining this feeling of “goodness” (the self-affirmation that comes with it) is deemed more important than the rest of society. I have been happy to work with young people across the United States and he world. Everywhere  I go, I find an appetite for the arts. It saddens me to know that some of the aspiring eyes and ears who will write the next generational chapter in poetics and learning will see their ambitions frustrated by those who want to sow destruction in others. The adolescent drive of the most toxic people are not content with being capable of accomplishing nothing serious for themselves. They intuitively reach out to harm people who would presume to grow. There will be collateral damage.

The anti-poetic toxicity is global in it’s reach because of the fact that it is destructive and anti-human (anti-human as a whole rather than geared against a specific nation or group as it would seem on the surface of the many diverse arguments). As the productive among us are left with the task of undoing the endless and folded body of lies that is now, sadly, the mainstream product that is being manufactured by “news outlets”.

Prince Turki’s clarification to Mr. Sebastian is not and should not be seen as a service to himself or a “defense” of his nation. Truth must be defended by all human beings as it belongs to all human beings. Prince Turki attempted to provide Mr. Sebastian, a person who is often regarded as a “serious journalist”, with the same service that Mia Merrlill expected of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The practice of democratic norms that have governed all cooperative societies including the Arabian Gulf (for thousands of years) are rich with civic concepts like baya ’a and sham and with the congressional methodology of sociopolitical problem-solving that can be studied in the institution of the majlis. There’s joy in that learning but also the sort of multilayered complexity that is inherent in all societies.

Later in the Conflict Zone program, Mr. Sebastian refuses to respond in the affirmative when the Prince invites him to go to Saudi Arabia (Prince Turki offers to make the arrangements for him) and conduct journalistic inquiry for himself. What point is contained within Mia Merrill’s statement that the Metropolitan Museum should provide context to those who would see potentially objectionable content. Had the context been provided, it would be useless to those for whom the complexity that inherently comes with such contextual study is useless (because they evidently cannot process additional information or even basic information as responsible adults).

That’s where the “it’s your job to make sure I’m taken care of’ argument ends and can only be replaced with disengagement until the other party matures.

But Prince Turki’s interview was not entirely a lost cause. His refutation of Sebastian’s claim that “nobody has a say in who rules them” with factual information is a defense of me as a citizen of an Arab Gulf society; the United Arab Emirates. By issuing it, Prince Turki defends me and millions of other Gulf Arabs from the slanderous assumption that we are mindless and powerless citizens living under autocratic rule who, for several decades, have been helpless to effect anything in the civic worlds of our nations. Among our tribes there is familial loyalty and bond. “Leaders” and “people” are one entity and cannot be separated from one another. “We the people “and “we the government” are the same thing in the Emirates. If that sounds democratic then it’s because it is democratic.

Should Mr. Sebastian come to the UAE or should he go to Saudi Arabia he would not be able to see more value in human beings in those countries than he is able to see in the UK or the US. One should be prepared to look at human societies with a mind which is not already made up and an intellect which is ready to process the simple humanity that unifies us all and comes with the diversity which makes nations and individual human beings diverse and individual creatures.

In the meantime, “We” (all of us together as individuals) are making the future of our nations as well as our lives happen in collaboration with one another and with humane compassion for one another. The results of our work, in cities and symphonies and causes bigger than any of us alone, is proof of the good that happens when human beings express their nationalism in the plural first person. People matter. We are, in fact, all that matter to one another.

The Root, for example, is an online magazine that sees itself as catering to African-American readers and therefore characterized President’s Trump’s visit as well as the man in these terms:

“Donald Trump, a man who at various points in his presidency has resembled a toddler, a dotard and a weird combination of both, mostly colored within the lines today in Davos, Switzerland.

Attending the Davos World Economic Forum, a meeting of the most illustrious and insanely rich white men in the world (the 0.05 percent, if you will)…”

And so the Root chose to depict Mr. Trump through the lens of what was demanded of their personalities at the publication as well as the perceived personalities of their readership. But let’s consider the assertion that Mr Trump was addressing “a meeting of the most illustrious and insanely rich white men” is made despite the fact that over 38 world leaders were in attendance with record participation from Middle Eastern nations (https:// www.thenational.ae/world/mena/wef-2018-record-number-of-attendees-from-middle-east-in-davos-1.6973631).

The global participation involved the presence of several heads of state who attended as representatives of their people. This included leaders like Narendra Modhi, the Prime Minister of India who took part as a representative of one billion Indian people and Bilawal Bhutto, the leader of Pakistan’s opposition party who spoke to a packed house about the danger that misleading information poses to democracies fhttps://dailvtimes.- com.pk/190426/bilawal-bhuttos-davos-trip-complete-success/T

Why did they and the people they represent not matter?

Because someone decided or felt that they did not.

In return, tens of millions of Americans have embraced a 45th president who states that “the media” (by which he means the news outlets) are “the enemy of the American people.” Many people see this statement as more of a simple acknowledgement of reality than a grandstanding polemic or as a fascist manipulation tactic (or as some other similarly romantic theme).

“The word ‘cause,’ after all, acquires its force and hearing from the sense we have that a cause is more than the individual; it has the significance of a project, quest, and effort that stand outside individuals and compel they energies, focus their efforts, inspire dedication. Serving the Grail is a cause; acquiring a new car or suit is not. A cause is not often exhausted by the people who serve it, whereas individuals can exhaust themselves in a cause, which is most normally characterized as ahead of one, something greater and nobler than oneself for which great striving and sacrifice are necessary. Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses” catches this in its last, syntactically very awkward lines; the aging hero reflects here on the persistence of his will in the service of a cause.

We are not now and tho’ that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are—
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.

So much of early education in school or family is informed by the need to make young people aware that life is more than self-satisfaction and doing as one likes. Every culture that I know of emphasizes explicitly as well as implicitly the idea that there is more to life than doing well: the “higher things” for which everyone is taught to strive are loyalty to the cause of nation, service to others, service to God, family, and tradition. All are components of the national identity. To rise in the world, that motif of self-help and personal betterment, is routinely attached to the good of the community and the improvement of one’s people.”

If this spirit of believing in something bigger than oneself is attained through a belief in oneself and in one another then humanity will be on track to assessing human worth in such a way that transcends net worth.

If they persist in their current practice of manufacturing self-referential lies, the American people and the world will simply turn to more reliable sources of news in order to receive their day-to-day information and more skillfully-made art in order to receive the stories and entertainment that are vital to the re-creation of the mind.

Even if the “higher things” are not currently available to many Americans in the United States today, they will be there when this cycle of concerted childishness is reeled in. In the meantime, the nation will not tear itself apart or break down. The will to survive is not a higher thing. It is the first of the self-evident truths articulated by the founders of America at the outset of the nation’s journey. Distortions by the mouths of ego and market and even the insertion of debased silence where memorials should stand do not alter the basic and immutable reality of that self- evident truth: life. The superficial gods of ego and transactional gain are illusory and, eventually, will always fail if they are made to stand against instincts and community. Even confused people and animals never fail to come to these instinctual truths.

Given the guarantees of life, the cycle of free will (liberty) can, and one hopes will reassert honesty and good judgment. The third self-evident truth led to the guarantee of the right of people to pursue those higher things which grant pleasure and happiness (to recreate the mind); this right to pursue happiness is a fundamental human right and should be insisted upon by every human being.

Persons who have chosen a concerted path of lies and self-aggrandizement for themselves would ordinarily, one would hope, discover that their “truths” simply don’t last and, one would also hope, stop lying.

Why, then, should we not simply ignore the deception which is destined to fail (by it’s very function) and, instead, focus on “factfullness.”

“The mood of the caravan was joyous. It was truly a caravan of democracy, a way for an astounding three million Pakistani citizens—including huge numbers of women and children—to come out and express their support for the PPP. Their presence was also a symbol of their support for the democratic process and their vocal opposition to the forces of dictatorship. Music pulsated from boom boxes, blasting the traditional anthems of thirty years of Peoples Party campaigns interspersed with the latest Pakistani rock music. Supporters danced around the vehicles, throwing rose petals and cheering my return and the return of democracy. People were hanging on from the trees and from telephone and electricity poles, attempting to catch a glimpse of me and the other PPP leaders who stood on the flatbed truck. It was a remarkable feeling for me after so many years abroad, years of dreaming of Pakistan, of our people, of our towns and villages, of our food and music, of the smell of basmati rice wafting from outdoor kiosks, of the sheer joy of the sound of people free and happy. I could not really believe that I was home at last and that the reception was so large and enthusiastic. The message to the world about the democratic spirit of the people of Pakistan could not have been clearer.”

This scene was ruined by a handful of people who attempted to terrorize the three million Pakistanis who had come out to express their self-determination as well as the remainder of the world.

Benazir describes the scene of the massacre:

“Blood and burning flesh and body parts seemed to be everywhere. Our wonderful boys in their white T-shirts holding hands and forming a human shield around my truck to protect me were the first to be mowed down. They, who only minutes before had been full of life, dancing, smiling, passing food and drinks up to the top of the truck, were now dead and dismembered. It was a massacre. It was the worst sight I had ever seen, and I’m sure the worst sight that I will ever see as long as I live.”

Bhutto concluded with the following words after the attack:

“It was 6:00 A.M. before I went to sleep for a few fitful hours, only to wake to a bitter reality. As the plotters had probably intended, the story of the massacre had replaced the story of the three million who had greeted me on my return.”

And so a handful of murderers (men whom one could count on a hand and a half) came to matter more than the three million ordinary people who greeted Bhutto upon her return.

Most of us fall under that category (of “ordinary persons”) as far as a situation like this one is concerned. We must, therefore, make our own decision and make it for ourselves as to whether or not we matter.

On the part of those who are telling the story of the world, we have seen example after example of a concerted deception on their part (deception of the self in addition to a deception of others) as present throughout in this book. A false perception of reality cannot function in lieu of the exploration and inquiry required in order for people to solve problems in the social sphere nor does the misperception of our sensory reality serve to build creative advances that the future might build upon. Daily deception leaves nothing behind but destruction and confusion. To counteract the effects of this, people will have to work over the coming generations on the considerable task of cleaning up and undoing a “legacy” of lies as well as on the vastly more difficult task of rebuilding trust.

Even as I write these words, it is clear to me that basic belief will need to be re-fostered not only between people in a social sense but also within many individual persons. People are not simply faced with the challenge of re-kindling trust in one another but also with the challenge of learning how to trust themselves.

All this is to say that we should appreciate the difficulty of the task at hand and beware that we do not underestimate the challenges that lie before us.

4. Tribal Rule(s): Rights and Rites

Let us now turn to the subject of “political criticism” as it is found in major daily journals and newspapers such as the New York Times.

Despite the fact that The New York Times has never provided column inches to explain how the government of the United Arab Emirates (one of America’s key allies) works, Tom Friedman, following a 2014 trip to the Emirates, used his ink and pixels to pose the question “Did Dubai cause the Arab awakening?”

He immediately answers his own question:

“Wait. How could it have? The U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing.

But does Friedman answer his own question at all? To answer that, we must engage in the following exercise. Here is the paragraph in which Mr. Friedman posits his question:

The best example of that is the U.A.E. and its crown jewel, Dubai. I had several conversations here on this question: Did Dubai cause the Arab awakening?

Mr. Friedman says “I had several conversations here on this question: Did Dubai cause the Arab awakening?” He does not say “I asked several people the following question.” There are no people to be found in Friedman’s equation which absolves him of the responsibility to regard the people in Dubai and also absolves him of the responsibility to tell his American readers who he is speaking with. These two points are connected. Democracy is derived from the Greek dēmokratia. This word is formed from a combination of two words: dēmos ‘the people’ + -kratia ‘power, rule.’ Keeping in mind the relationship of power and people, let us begin the exercise.

FRIEDMAN A: “Did Dubai cause the Arab Awakening?”

FRIEDMAN B: “Wait. How could it have?”

FRIEDMAN A asks a question. FRIEDMAN B answers this question with another question which prompts a response from what would seem to be the voice of a third person who has the answers (and more) to the question. This third voice would be FRIEDMAN C. If this was the case, then we would have the following:

FRIEDMAN A: “Did Dubai cause the Arab Awakening?”

FRIEDMAN B: “Wait. How could it have?”

FRIEDMAN C: “The U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing”

But there is no “third voice”. Why would the author have FRIEDMAN-A ask a question (“Did Dubai cause the Arab Awakening?”) if FRIEDMAN-B’s answer to that question is written in a form of a question. FRIEDMAN-B’s (“Wait. How could it have?”) question prompts FRIEDMAN-A to answer the question. This would mean that FRIEDMAN-A has the answer to the question at hand already. Once FRIEDMAN-C answers the question, it is confirmed that he has the answers he is looking for. And so we can eliminate Friedman-C as follows.

FRIEDMAN-A: “Hey FRIEDMAN-B. Did Dubai cause the Arab Awakening?”

FRIEDMAN-B: Wait, FRIEDMAN-A. How could it have?”

FRIEDMAN-C FRIEDMAN-A: “I’m Glad you asked. You see, I believe that your confusion arises from our conviction that The U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing”

FRIEDMAN-A states the source of the confusion which causes Causes Friedman-B to ask for the answer when he says the following: “How could it (the U.A.E. and Dubai) cause the Arab Awakening? I am confused because, and now we transition to the exact language of the article, “The U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press.”

The final two-part step is to take the misgivings which would cause FRIEDMAN-B to ask the question since FRIEDMAN-A assumes that he knows why Friedman-B is incredulous. Remember that this incredulity is expressed in the words which I have attached to FRIEDMAN-A’s response to FRIEDMAN-B (“I believe that your confusion arises from our conviction that…”). These are the only words which I have added here and they are all structural words. They do not affect or in any way alter the perspectives that Mr. Friedman expressed in his article itself. This is demonstrated below.

PHASE 1:

FRIEDMAN-A: “Hey there FRIEDMAN-B! Did Dubai cause the Arab Awakening?”

FRIEDMAN-B: Wait, FRIEDMAN-A. How could it have?”I am confused because I thought that the U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press.

FRIEDMAN-A: “I’m Glad you asked. You see, I believe that your confusion arises from our conviction that The U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing”

PHASE 2:

FRIEDMAN-A: “Hey there FRIEDMAN-B! Did Dubai cause the Arab Awakening?”

FRIEDMAN-B: Wait, FRIEDMAN-A. How could it have?”I am confused because I thought that the U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press.

FRIEDMAN-A: It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing”

It should now be seen that there is no “third voice.” Mr. Friedman answers his own question. Would that not simply count as Mr. Friedman talking to himself? The answer, again, is to be found in what Mr. Friedman tells us directly (if inadvertently) when he writes the following words: “I had several conversations here on this question.”

He does not say that he has asked a question at all (as we would expect a journalist to do in recording facts and as we would expect a critic to do in collecting information with which he will form his critical essay). Mr. Friedman did not say “I asked this question.” He does not say “I asked several people here this question.” Mr. Friedman says “I had several conversations here on this question.”

Nobody is asked anything. The question is not activated with a verb. One delivers an ode to a nightingale. One writes an ode on a Grecian Urn (the urn is the subject of the ode). One asks a question. (“I asked this question”). The question is a subject on which Mr. Friedman had “several conversations.”

Beyond this, one has no evidence that Friedman did anything other than ruminate. We are not told who Mr. Friedman had these “several conversations” with in order to come to his conclusions. The reader is not even told of a direct link between the several conversations and the conclusions which Mr. Friedman draws. One is left to assume that a link exists simply because one sentence follows another.

FRIEDMAN-A: “Hey there FRIEDMAN-B! Did Dubai cause the Arab Awakening?” It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing”

FRIEDMAN-B: Wait, FRIEDMAN-A. How could it have?”I am confused because I thought that the U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press.

FRIEDMAN-A: It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing”

This, of course, renders Mr. Friedman’s point moot. Why present the question and then refer to  it as the subject for“several conversations” if he already has the answer? In a structural sense, why would FRIEDMAN-A need FRIEDMAN-B if he already has the answer which he himself (FRIEDMAN-A) plans to present?

Let us recall Leonard Bernstein’s description of George Washington as an imaginary conversation partner: “It is an exciting game, because he is always so excited and wide-eyed at each new miracle. He also serves a fine purpose, which is that of an ideal interviewer, a provoker of thoughts. In this capacity he is flawless, for he always asks the right question (as if he knew precisely what I wanted to say), and never makes extended speeches of his own.”

There is no “exciting game” component to Friedman’s technique. Only the aspect of “serving a find purpose.” The title of his article is forensic: “Did Dubai Do it?” That title expresses that the author is looking for something; most probably something bad.

What fine purpose does thee use of this technique serve? The dialogue could be written as follows which would, finally, bring it into a monologue which is what one expects from a single person after all:

FRIEDMAN-A: “Hey there FRIEDMAN-B! Were you wondering if Dubai caused the Arab Awakening?” I believe that it did and I’ll tell you why. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing.

Now let’s get rid of this:

FRIEDMAN-B Wait, How could it have?”I am confused because I thought that the U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press.
And this since it is already stated outright and at the outset:

FRIEDMAN-A: It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing”

And just like that, we have saved paper and ink (the cost of which are stated as perennial concerns by the editors at these papers). We’ve also made Mr. Friedman a single coherent human being with a single coherent point of view which he is stating without hiding. The concern, however, is to be found in the words which I have added to Friedman’s dialogue-turned-monologue. Those words follow the thesis which he has now stated at the outset are as follows: “I believe that it did and I’ll tell you why.”

FRIEDMAN-A: “Hey there FRIEDMAN-B! Were you wondering if Dubai caused the Arab Awakening?” I believe that it did and I’ll tell you why. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing.

That would be a perfectly acceptable way of positing a point of view (any point of view even one as fantastical as the one presented here). State the opinion as your own and tell the reader why we would believe you. Otherwise one should simply attribute one’s opinion to the person who is being quoted or explain how the opinion in question is arrived at.)

Mr. Friedman continues:

“As more young Arabs came to Dubai, or viewed it on TV from afar, more and more asked: ‘Why don’t we have that in my Arab country? ’ The former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said to me: “People know what it means to be a citizen everywhere now.” It was one thing for young Egyptians to observe the success of Singapore or Brazil and compare it with their own flagging country, but when Dubai showed that Arabs could build a Singapore, where young Arabs could realize their potential, Dubai became politically subversive. Across the region, you heard the question: “Even if we can’t have democracy, why can’t we at least have Dubai?”

At the outset, the quote from the former Palestinian Prime Minister is not relevant to the current discussion. It’s only purpose is to establish a continuity of thought between two nations that Mr. Friedman considers to be Arab (they speak Arabic). Mr. Friedman could have told us what his personal opinion is regarding what “people know.” The statement “People know what it means to be a citizen everywhere now” is offered out of context. It does not contain an observation that Mr. Friedman needs to have backed up by the former Palestinian Prime Minister.”  What “people know” are the following: that it is possible to live anywhere in the world (become an ex-patriate) and it is possible to become a citizen in countries other than those of one’s birth. Beyond that, “what it means to be a citizen everywhere now” is as much of a known entity to Mr. Friedman and the Former Palestinian Prime Minister or to myself or to anyone else. The statement itself means nothing specific.

“As more young Arabs came to Dubai, or viewed it on TV from afar, more and more asked: ‘Why don’t we have that in my Arab country? ’ The former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said to me: “People know what it means to be a citizen everywhere now.” It was one thing for young Egyptians to observe the success of Singapore or Brazil and compare it with their own flagging country, but when Dubai showed that Arabs could build a Singapore, where young Arabs could realize their potential, Dubai became politically subversive. Across the region, you heard the question: “Even if we can’t have democracy, why can’t we at least have Dubai?”

Now we can interpret the first active verb to be found in Mr. Friedman’s discourse; the word “asked.”: “‘As more young Arabs came to Dubai, or viewed it on TV from afar, more and more asked: ‘Why don’t we have that in my Arab country?’”

MORE YOUNG ARABS WHO COME TO DUBAI OR VIEW IT ON TV FROM AFAR: Why don’t we have that in my Arab country?

MORE AND MORE YOUNG ARABS (joining the chorus): Why don’t we have that in my Arab country?
“It was one thing for young Egyptians to observe the success of Singapore or Brazil and compare it with their own flagging country, but when Dubai showed that Arabs could build a Singapore, where young Arabs could realize their potential, Dubai became politically subversive. Across the region, you heard the question: “Even if we can’t have democracy, why can’t we at least have Dubai?”

And so the chorus sounds. Mr. Friedman does not tell the reader that he has actually heard people say the words which he quotes above. He is more evocative than that. Mr. Friedman tells us that we have heard these sounds: “Across the region, you heard the question…

And here is the climax of the chorus:

CHORUS OF YOUNG ARABS:“Even if we can’t have democracy, why can’t we at least have Dubai?”

Do you hear the people sing? Across the region, the antiphons of angry men ring. They are being reborn!

Then Friedman, finished with his evocation of Les Miserables, with no apology to Victor Hugo (to whom, as this book makes evidently clear, more than one apology is owed). The critic turns to statistics. Mr. Friedman cites a statistic which implies competition (whether or not the statistic is usefully accurate or not is another matter altogether): “In April, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller released its third Arab youth survey, finding: ‘For the third year running, the U.A.E. remains the most popular country to live in and the country Arab youth would most like their country to emulate.” The U.A.E. got 39 percent. The United States got 21 percent.’”

But this is an arbitrary survey. Why survey “Arab youth” on their attitudes regarding what they want to do when one can look at cold hard statistics and see that Dubai is home to a diverse array of people. In fact, Dubai is home to citizens from more nations  than any other city on the planet:  198 nations to be exact.

Or Mr. Friedman could have spoken to leaders in the Emirates as I myself did in order to write an article informing people of the divide between reality and fiction when it comes to nearly every major American journalistic outlet which I have encountered as well as in the once-august academies and arts institutions. This want for a basic grip on reality is not limited to coverage or critiques of the U.A.E. As we have seen throughout this book, this anti-poetic division and negation is to be found in every topic which is touched.

Had Mr. Friedman addressed the question at hand with Reem Al-Hashimy, a member of the Emirati Parliament (Federal National Council) he would have encountered modesty which I encountered when I pointed out that it was not simply Arab-speaking youth but youth from around the world who were coming to Dubai:

‘I don’t think we can succeed if we close up,’ she said. “Our success model was built on embracing diversity and the aspirations of a largely younger population in this region.” She acknowledged that the UAE was an aspirational destination for many young people across the world, but was reticent about defining the UAE as a model of hope: “That’s a ‘title’ that they bestow upon us; we don’t bestow it upon ourselves.”

That would have required Friedman to ask the question first. But the tone of his insecure language speaks for itself when contrasted with Al-Hashimy’s true and unassuming qualities (qualities which are among the reasons why Emiratis choose her to serve in high office time after time). The American people who read the New York Times received misinformation from Mr. Friedman. And yet Mr Friedman, acting as Kunitz’s near-perfect anti-poet, has made tribes out of his false affections. The position and the attitude are worth correcting which I will do by quoting from my own essay which was published (after much haggling) in The Independent in March of 2017.

On politics and democracy:

“The UAE was formed not by one leader but by a Supreme Council of multiple tribal elders representing seven different emirates. That propelled the country forward to a conglomerative form of government that honours the concept of shura (a form of tribal consultation) more organically than any other nation in the region. The legitimacy of Emirati leadership is inextricably connected to the institution of the majlis, literally a “sitting” in which citizens discuss their concerns with people in positions of leadership as well as one another. Every Emirati majlis I’ve ever attended has been remarkably collaborative and respectful.

That quality of empathetic attentiveness is also apparent in the halls of the Federal National Council. Witnessing the FNC in session, I saw a parliamentary debate marked by intelligent discourse and the grateful absence of political parties.

Each member operated with loyalty to their own ideas and to the constituents they were there to represent. The members were unhampered by allegiance to party and were unbeholden to the demands of political lobbies and special interest groups.

One moment that struck me was when Amal Al Qubaisi, the Speaker of the House, cited a perfectly respectable statistic regarding the performance of the country but, before going on to make her main point, punctuated her statistic with the words: “Of course we should be doing even better than this.” By taking off the shades of cynicism, we in the United States could stand to be reminded of the virtues of listening to one another and exercising national humility in our parliamentary politics.”

And, keeping this exercise in modesty at the fore of our minds, here are some lines on security which take us back to the opening of my article:

The United Arab Emirates is going to Mars, seeking to rewrite cultural history, gising robotics and redefining the conversations we have about governance and statecraft.

But why should you care

My most recent journey to the Emirati sister cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai gave me access to insights that I hope show you why it’s not just important but existentially vital to suspend cynicism and pay attention to their politics for a few moments.

The UAE is a young nation. In fact, it still has five years to go before it celebrates its golden jubilee. Yet in its 45 year history it has lost more than its fair share of diplomats and soldiers, often in the fight against extremist militants. In January, five Emirati diplomats were killed in a bomb blast while on a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan.  The Emirati Ambassador, Juma Al Kaabi, sustained injuries and succumbed to his wounds a few weeks later. He was in Kandahar to lay the foundation stone for a UAE-funded orphanage.Yousef Al Otaiba, a high-ranking UAE diplomat and current UAE Ambassador to the United States, summed up the national response of doubling down on cherished values rather than abandoning them when they are assaulted: ‘Will it affect our policy in Afghanistan? Will we reconsider sending humanitarian efforts? Of course not.’

The most telling response, though, came from Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs. When I expressed my dismay at the attacks, she simply said to me: ‘We’re stronger.’

In preparing to write this, I took the opportunity to ask Al Kaabi to expand on those words. “Take a look at Wahat al Karama,” she told me, referring to a memorial honouring the UAE’s war dead. “That monument pays tribute to the souls of our soldiers and diplomats who sacrificed their lives to protect our way of life… The memorial consists of panels, each leaning on the other… We all lean on one another just as we lean on our leaders and our leaders lean on us. That sense of community is what makes us stronger. That’s why we give. When we are attacked, we reassert who we are more vigorously than before. We don’t shy away from our values.

There was a confidence Al-Kaabi’s answer that I yearn to see in the United States. It stood in perfect contrast to the national insecurity with which the US has consented to be terrorised even to the point that, if the rhetoric of the political powers that be are any indication, the country allows counter-terrorism to inform the tone of virtually every aspect of political discourse.”

What, then, is the point of Mr. Friedman’s creation of imaginary tribes (American and otherwise) and what is the intent of his creating an imaginary act: an “Arab Awakening”?

Other than the application of an action (waking up from sleep) which cannot be applied to a mass of people unless one imagines zombies or automatons rising in unison. It evokes the renaissance which describes a “period of revival of classical-based art and learning in Europe that began in the fourteenth century.”

This word implies a rebirth of the art as though it was possible to kill the human spirit or any affections. It is not possible to kill affections when those affections are true. It also implies an awakening of people to art which they were confounded about before. The word only dates from 1840 and is derived from the Old French “renaissance,” which quite literally can mean “rebirth,”  but almost always in the spiritual sense.

This word in itself has it’s roots in Latin renasci “be born again, rise again, reappear, be renewed,” from re- “again” (see re-) + nasci “be born” (Old Latin gnasci, from PIE root *gene- “give birth, beget”).

The root of current usage of this word is Vulgar Latin (“renascere”).

So what is the point of Mr. Friedman’s creation of a false tribe? Here, he is clear about “them.” Any democracy (power which people have) which “we” give them “has to start with them”:

“The point: It has to start with them. The best we can do is amplify. David Kilcullen, the Australian counterinsurgency expert who served with the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, told me: “Just like there is a spark of life in a physical body, there has to be a spark of legitimacy and coherence in a body politic. And, if it is not there, trying to substitute for it is like putting a cadaver on a slab and harnessing a lightning bolt to it to bring it back to life. You end up with Dr. Frankenstein. You can animate a corpse and make it walk and talk, but sooner or later it’s going to go rogue. … When you don’t have the local leadership, invading does not make things better. It makes them worse.”

The anti-poets demonstrate the same attitudes towards persons in their immediate vicinity (people whom they are actually capable of reaching and whom they can misguide with their lies).

“Yet they worship, besides Allah, things for which no authority has been sent down to them, and of which they have (really) no knowledge: for those that do wrong there is no helper.

When Our Clear Signs are rehearsed to them, thou wilt notice a denial on the faces of the Unbelievers! they nearly attack with violence those who rehearse Our Signs to them. Say, “Shall I tell you of something (far) worse than these Signs? It is the Fire (of Hell)! Allah has promised it to the Unbelievers! and evil is that destination!”

O men! Here is a parable set forth! listen to it! Those on whom, besides Allah, ye call, cannot create (even) a fly, if they all met together for the purpose! and if the fly should snatch away anything from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. Feeble are those who petition and those whom they petition!”

That’s why Americans who live in the vicinity of false critics, artists, scholars and doctors should fortify their minds with the knowledge to repel those persons when their information invades the lives of so many Americans so easily.

That is why everyone should care.

 

5. The Autocratic State (Spring Awakening)

In April 2017 Friedman penned another article (https://www.nvtimes.com/2017/04/26/opin- ion/on-a-par-5-in-dubai-aood-humor-and-a-respite-from-all-thinqs-trump.htmh that begins like this:

“President Trump has already played an incredible amount of golf in his first 100 days. He says he needs the break. I sympathize. In fact, I need a break, too from him, from writing about his relentless assault on truth and science. It’s toxic. So I break today to write about … golfin Dubai, where I recently participated in an education conference.

Dubai is not a democracy and is fueled by cheap labor. But it’s also not Damascus. With its Ministry of Tolerance, Ministry of Happiness and Ministry of Youth (whose minister is a 23-year-old woman), the U.A.E. has made Dubai into the counter-ISIS, a place where young Arabs can live local and act global. It’s the most interesting crossroad city in the Arab world today. You run into the most unexpected characters hereespecially on the golf coursewhich is where our story begins. ”

Meanwhile, the New York Times, a publication that has published my writing when it has suite their purposes, continued to refuse any attempts I made to clarify that the people of the al estate to make exactly the same case again like he just did yesterday? He’s also wrong. The UAE is, in fact, a “democracy. ” It just happens to be a participatory government as it evolved in the Middle East. You may not see it that way because:

  1. Emirati society is insular and it’s inner workings, as a tribal polity, dictate a focus on the interior. They don’t preach or advertise. I consider this a problem because it leads to these sweeping statements. The fact of the matter is that every single Emirati is entitled to take part in Majlis and provide Shura to the leadership (not just the sheikhs but also the FNC and all cabinet members. This system of direct representation works because of how small the Emirati population is. But for, the time being, it works. And Emiratis who choose to participate have a very real impact on the social and legal shape of the country. I’ve done this myself and I’ve seen several compatriots do it too.
  2. Taking a Greek-Jeffersonian shoe and performing foot surgery to make it fit in a totally different part of the world is absurd. The one function it serves to accomplish is preventing people from seeing the facts.

I can help with number one above. Forgive my bluntness but the second one is going to have to involve the august publications in the west (like yourselves) adopting a more genuinely balanced approach and allowing us to speak for ourselves. If you don’t Commission me to write this piece then you should do it with someone else down the line. You really do owe it to yourselves.

I have never stepped forward to make this case before and present these facts to the American public but I believe that it is now irresponsible for me not to do so. The US maintains its largest military fleet outside of American borders in Jebel Ali, Dubai. The UAE has partaken in every US military expedition since the founding of the Emirates in the 1970s. Unlike neighboring nations, the UAE has empowered civilian rights and, especially, the rights of women. It is also, through its example and through specific initiatives like the Sawab Center for instance, battling extremist ideology not simply through military expeditions but also by creating a viable alternative to the narrative of extremism.

In (our) age, the fourth estate has an even greater responsibility to highlighting the truth. It is not enough to say that we oppose religious and racial profiling while the New York Times hires Jeff Stein and CNN presents Richard Spencer as a mainstream entity. We have to actively work harder to highlight the explicit cases of moderate Muslim nations that are successful examples of the sort of countries the United States wants to work with and trust.

Here I was. An Emirati citizen with no affiliations to the government of the UAE who has never received a paycheck from the state. I was offering my voice freely as someone who was ready and willing to explain the workings of the system in which I participate; a system that the Times repeatedly chose to misrepresent. In the most prosaic sense, I was offering to do their corrective work for them. On a more profound level, one would expect that their concern for “the liberty of Emiratis” would move them to gladly represent my voice. One would expect that their “concern for liberty” (as Americans) would move them to print considered dissents from their desired point of view. One can reasonably assume that the vast majority of Emiratis are men and women who do not wish harm against their country and that a good number of them love their country. One can reasonably assume that the vast majority of Americans are men and women who do not wish harm against their country and that a good number of them love their country. I am not a “dissident” in either case. A dissident must oppose official policies that are put forward by states. Dissidents do not oppose states in their entirety unless the state is fully authoritarian. The fact that I have dissented from the official policies put forward in both the United States and the UAE is proof enough that neither nation is authoritarian and therefore intolerant of dissent (as the word is properly defined).
If the meaning of dissent is, however, corrupted to signify “a negation of everyone and everything whom one may choose to oppose,” then we are all “dissidents” depending on whether or not we oppose something which the “judges” in question deem to be worthy of negation or destruction. What we oppose (and therefore what we stand for) is determined by the winds of their fancy. As we have seen throughout this text, the only constant in this fancy is a commitment to negation, despair, subtraction, division and destruction.  If that is what is meant by “dissent” then we cannot dissent from the “state.”

 


C

The Closing

When I use the word “state,” I mean it in every definition indicated for that word.

Meanings cannot be “poured” out of words. Words which are deprived of definition become chaotically defined not un-definable. As long as a word is assumed to have a meaning, it will have a meaning. If someone speaks to me and uses a word which I cannot define, I will ask what they mean by that word or I will look that word up in the dictionary. If meaning of a word is not deciphered then I still assume that the person using the word intends it to mean something. I also assume that the word itself means something (and that it is a word).

Like many definitions we have looked at, the various definitions, ill-definitions, approximate definitions and purely personal definitions of the word “state” have been confounded against one another. This is what occurs to a word when it’s definition is corrupted of definition. The members of Alcoholics Anonymous must admit that they are powerless over their “disease.” Drinking alcohol is a behavior and not a condition and yet, the natural is conflated with the behavioral and the social to produce the disease in question: Alcoholism. Mr. Battacharjee describes a “science of lies” in which it is uncontrolled human nature which forces “us” to lie. “Addicts” are helpless over their “addiction” and “find themselves” in a state of mind as well as confronted with a “state of affairs” in a world (or multiple “worlds”) which are never fully disclosed. “Sub-universes of meaning” are spoken about in a book with a title more fitting to describe Orpheus in the underworld than a hospital: “Journeys through Hell.” There is not a single detail on anesthetics or the effects on the patient of the various named medications to be found in the book. not mentioned at all. Time becomes “subjective.” A nurse explains the outrage expressed by a patient not in response to the pain which she induces when she mishandles his raw wounds but, without evidence that the patient has used it, to the patient’s use of a drug called PCP. In this way, the nurse and the patient are relieved of any responsibility or control over their actions. She did not cause him pain. He was acting out because the presence of a drug in his body made him act out in a way that was uncontrolled. There were no drugs in the patients body. But any and all actions are out of everyone’s hands. The burns, too, which cover 95% of his body are not mentioned at all.

His burns are caused by an “accident” as are the vast majority of cases which are discussed in this book and the others which I have discussed or mentioned (as well, I might add, of the vast majority of cases I have not mentioned but have studied extensively).

We learn of food addicts and read about persons who are “addicted to video games” or sports as well as those who are addicted to “drugs.” The word “drugs” is presented as an indication rather than a defined substance. Had a substance been defined, doctors can demonstrate dependence on that substance or advise persons if a substance which they are consuming does not have as much of a risk in terms of causing dependence on that substance. But we are not demonstrating “dependence.” We are talking about “addiction.” Since the latter word is unnecessary, we must ask about the intent which lies behind it’s use. Surely the intent in wishing to advise against the use of dependence-inducing substance is to identify them. What about those men and women who have developed a chemical dependence on a substance (such as heroin or opioids) which can induce such a thing? Isn’t the best course of action to be able to identify the chemical dependence clearly? The word addiction prevents all that and more by muddying the waters, so to speak, of definition and also by expanding the field of conditions to be treated. It is harder to diagnose a condition or malady when other conditions are introduced into the spectrum of those conditions which are being considered (the process of diagnosis is one of isolating a malady or ill). Let us, then, look at the word “addiction.” What does it mean? When did it enter into use?

Addiction
c. 1600, “tendency, inclination, penchant” (a less severe sense now obsolete); 1640s as “state of being (self)-addicted” to a habit, pursuit, etc., from Latin addictionem (nominative addictio) “an awarding, a delivering up,” noun of action from past-participle stem of addicere “to deliver, award; devote, consecrate, sacrifice”. In the sense “compulsion and need to take a drug as a result of prior use of it” from 1906, in reference to opium (there is an isolated instance from 1779 with reference to tobacco).

And here is the definition of state:

  • state | stāt |
    noun

1 the particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time: the state of the company’s finances | we’re worried about her state of mind.
a physical condition as regards internal or molecular form or structure: water in a liquid state.
• [in singular] (a state) informal an agitated or anxious condition: don’t get into a state.
• informal [in singular] a dirty or untidy condition: look at the state of you—what a mess!
• Physics short for quantum state.
2 a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government: Germany, Italy, and other European states.

• an organized political community or area forming part of a federal republic: the German state of Bavaria.
• (the States) informal term for United States.
3 the civil government of a country: services provided by the state | [in combination] : state-run agency | King Fahd appointed a council to advise him on affairs of state.
• (the States) the legislative body in Jersey, Guernsey, and Alderney.
4 pomp and ceremony associated with monarchy or high levels of government: he was buried in state.
5 [usually with modifier] an impression taken from an etched or engraved plate at a particular stage.
• a particular printed version of the first edition of a book, distinguished from others by prepublication changes.
adjective [attributive]
1 of, provided by, or concerned with the civil government of a country: the future of state education | a state secret.
2 used or done on ceremonial occasions; involving the ceremony associated with a head of state: a state visit to Hungary by Queen Elizabeth.

When defined and used as a verb, the word turns into all which must be avoided:

1 [reporting verb] express something definitely or clearly in speech or writing: [with clause] : the report stated that more than 51 percent of voters failed to participate | [with direct speech] : “Money hasn’t changed me,” she stated firmly | [with object] : people will be invited to state their views.

• [with object] chiefly Law specify the facts of (a case) for consideration: judges must give both sides an equal opportunity to state their case.

2 [with object] Music present or introduce (a theme or melody) in a composition.

Ai Wei Wei said the following of his definition (which has, notably, remained constant) of art as the free expression in the creation of new works which bring about communion between human beings: “My definition of art has always been the same. It is about freedom of expression, a new way of communication. It is never about exhibiting in museums or about hanging it on the wall. Art should live in the heart of the people. Ordinary people should have the same ability to understand art as anybody else. I don’t think art is elite or mysterious. I don’t think anybody can separate art from politics. The intention to separate art from politics is itself a very political intention”

The intention to separate art from politics is a political intention. The policy of this intention is to advance the idea that any lines which are drawn in order to understand and categorize human knowledge (be they subjects or genres) are actually real lines which can be administered. The intention of calling art political is not simply to discredit the artist as self-motivated  or as a “propagandist” or “polemicist.” Nor is the intention of this policy to credit the artist with “relevance” or deem their art “urgent.” The intention of this policy is to establish a state.

This is all done in the name of a corrupted “subjectivity” which, as is the case with the other corruptions, has nothing to do with a clear definition of the word itself as it is defined or understood. Nor does this corruption have anything to with the intent of that which is subjective in terms of people’s perspectives and understandings of concepts and studies. That which is subjective should enable the individual sensibility to thrive or, at least, exist with one’s views and  without fear of oppression. That which is subjective should certainly not quash the individual sensibility.

A self-appointed Authority speaks on behalf of everyone who falls into one non-defined group or another. One is unable to apply oneself in any sense. As far as my “political” or “policy-based” “dissents” are concerned, they were deemed useful or un-useful in terms which are clearly unconcerned with the correctness of a given opinion in terms of self-evident reason of the most rudimentary sort. This should impress the reader in terms of the reality of their politics and the reality of their “dissent.” If these things alone are not enough to prove my observations beyond the shadow of any doubt, the disregard which I have demonstrated among news outlets for those absolutely visible and clear facts at hand which I presented to “journalists” on television, on radio and in print will serve as clear confirmation to the remaining sensible persons who require additional evidence.

It is not the facts or the opinion or the politics which are deemed useful or otherwise. The truth is printed and publicized based on how useful it is to the “stories” and the “narrative” which I  being advanced at any given time by any given person who is “telling stories,” “making news,” engaging in a “critical evaluation” of a text or work of art, engaging in “philosophical study” or simply “teaching” others. Whether I dissented on policy or affirmed positive steps with the intent of encouraging further positive steps was irrelevant. Even if I observed multiple facts and perspectives and drew them together in a way that readers found to be comprehensible and useful, it would not matter. I dissented against their story. What I had written was deemed to be un-important because of that fact and because of that fact alone.

The facts at hand don’t matter in this exercise and neither does politics. In fact, Art doesn’t matter and neither does Criticism, Journalism, Science, History or Philosophy. What must be avoided in this “story” is the activation of any of those activities by a verb. Even ego doesn’t matter to the self appointed Authorities-that-be (or the soon to be self-appointed authorities-that-would-be) because they cannot attach their ego to their self. They are self-appointed. Their officious imposition on others is un-contracted. This is not a social contract and, in that sense, consent is not required on the part of anybody other than the self-appointed ones. And yet the rest of us must understand the current situation clearly and understand it well. As long as one does not resist, that person can safely be assumed to concede to this state of being.

We may be assumed to live in a Western World or in an Arab World, or in Trumpland, or in a larger or smaller world which is not quite our own but uncannily bears some resemblance like a disfigured face applied upon the “face of the earth”… or, on a different day, the face of the universe… or in worlds or a universe or sub-universe or sub universes or in the Classical Period or in a world where “we” or “they” are all (or not all) bound by a “common practice.” Or, perhaps, we are undergoing a Renaissance if we were ever born at all. Perhaps we are the cap-stone of a wave or, perhaps, we are a spring.

We can be anything at all as long as we maintain the interest of those who would award us with a role in their story.

“In” any world other than the certain world which we inhabit, it is their stories that matter and their narratives which must be satisfied. In that state, “we” are their subjects because we are characters (or subjects) in their state.

But one cannot be “In” this place. Nobody can any more than we can access a never world which we heard about “once upon a Midnight Dreary” or transport to erehwon. How could one inhabit a Neverland which only exists in the imagination of those who are convinced by it?

One will recall that an addiction is a “tendency, inclination or a penchant” The definition from the 1640s is as a “state of being (self)-addicted”

The reader will now allow me to end with a personal reflection. Many artists produced bodies of work which have contributed to this book. More importantly, it is their spirit that has enabled me   to be the composer I am and also to navigate the labyrinth required in order to put together the present book. This is why I would like to close with a story of the inspiration which allowed me to “find” the hellish “state” which can do harm though it can never consume the good.

I started to obsess about “addiction.” The subject of “addictive” persons (those who consider themselves “addicted” and therefore “compelled” to behave a certain way) has occupied my mind for years since many of my works as a composer deal with a failure of accountability and  the pain which is caused through the lies practiced by the dishonorable among us; practices in which the addiction and lies absolve themselves of one another in constant revolution.

The Latin word at the root of “addiction” has obsessed me recently. The word, addictio, means “a delivering up” and “an awarding” which connotes deliverance from ill, rebirth and also (amusingly for me), a person “getting their comeupins.” I have spent time wondering why the word (which obsessed my mind together with words like “devotion” and “fetish) did not appear in the Latin Mass. Bernstein’s Mass portrays the lowest character-trait which I have, unfortunately encountered among my peers when someone celebrating how “easy” it is to neatly survive “when you just don’t care.” The words he sings are “Don’t look for substance beneath the style” before finally saying “Don’t look for sacrament and sacrifice/They aren’t worth the price.”

I repeated these lines in my head, thinking of connotations of saintly remains but also “dogma” and “sacrament” contained within the word “ritual.” I thought of the harmonic series and activating the body through spirit (anima). I thought of breath in Allah and Alleluah; of “thank you and thank you” in “Lauda” and “Laudē” and I thought of how the application of self would have needed to be “sincere” on the part of Mr Dorsey if he was to have created something meaningful. Twitter, of course, is meaningful to many persons but that is because it they apply themselves and use the program rather than allow the program to somehow use them (which isn’t possible even if some claim to be “addicted to twitter”).

I had named a section of this book “Flame” and then changed the title to “Connections” and then changed the name back to “flame.” I had thought about my own ignition of the flame within me and of all the help that I was receiving from the creatures who embody energy of calm light as well as the many who, like myself, burn with the light that comes from a passionate fire while remaining safe from being consumed by our own fire itself. I had explained the physical difference between fire and flame to a young creature of calm and loving light.

But how sad, I thought, that the object itself would be meaningful (truly meaningful) to many users but not to it’s own creator. I thought of “the whole bird thing”… and then I thought of “the old man who lights a candle each morning.” The Memento and the remembrance and the flame of the candle all started to made sense in terms of why I had chosen Memento to start us on a backward journey that circled back to the restoration of all that is not consumed by filth.

Then the connection finally came to me.

The word at the root of addiction doesn’t occur in the Mass proper because it would need to be taken from the past-participle stem and rendered as a noun of action in order for addicere  to deliver, to award; to devote, to consecrate, to sacrifice”.

It had to be active. Any of these things had to be alive and imbued with the spirit and breath of life (de anima) in order to function as an action in the Mass.

The word addictio does appear in another form of the Mass (including my own Mass from 2006).  It exists in the Requiem Mass. The word is present, in the most remarkable way, in plain sight and in the Dies Irae to boot. This ancient, eternal and simple song is one that I have used in work after work from my Second Piano Sonata to my Fourth Symphony. The particular passage in question speaks of the kind of state that is being imagined to be created. Stravinsky speaks of certain persons who bring about revolution with through “malice of aforethought.” The word maledictictis is the root of “malice.” The intention of “aforethought” is clear. One of definitions of “addiction” (the original one from 1640) is “penchant,” after-all.

But those who are foolish enough to have a penchant for revolution forget that, while they can often do harm, revolutions are full circle. What goes around comes around. The specific lines from the Dies Irae, day of wrath, are as follows:

Confutatis maledictis,
Flammis acribus addictis

When the practitioners of malediction are confounded and silenced
When they are confined to their acrid flames as if firmly addicted

And then, in the final line of this thirteenth part of the Dies Irae, we say:

Voca me cum benedictis

Deliver me among your saints surrounded; among the blessed.