Saturday, November 18, 2006

In the Hot Seat With Mustang

I have been looking forward to this interview for a while. Mustang is a retired Marine who is currently teaching history to todays youth. A few of are readers are history buffs. Many of you will learn a great deal from topics we seldom cover.

1 How should we look at the Mongols today? Were Ghengis Khan more ruthless than the people they conquered. What was the secret to the sucsess of the Mongols was their sucsess a more tactical or due to mobility.

2 Did the Industrial Revolution excacerbate the problem of supply lines and communications.

3 Farmer John and I differ on who won the battle of Oriskany. Did the Colonials or the British win that battle?

4 Speaking about Oriskany, that campaign is one that illustrates the importance of thinking outside the box. The campaign featured sealing ever cooking utensil, blanket and any item not nailed to the floor as well as creative use of the mentally ill by Benadict Arnold. Is one of the reasons Communist armies tended to underperform is the lack of initiative at the lower levels. Is the lack of independent thinking at the platoon level a serious flaw in Communist military doctrine.

5 In the previous interview with an Iranian disident the interviewee detailed the accounts of children being used to clear minefields in the Iran/Iraq war. Is the use
of child soldiers in combat the ultimate form of child abuse?

6 It seems that many of our conflicts are now fought with photo ops in the media. We have seen staged attrocities like the fake Jenin massacre and some clear chicanery at Qana. There was plenty of this chicanery in the Vietnam era. Is the history of fighting wars with photo ops even older.

7 What is the correct view of Benedict Arnold. Unlike John Kerry, Arnold was a brave and genuinely skilled military leader. He played a key role in the Saratoga campaign.

8 People seem to forget the French and Indian war. Did Colonial tactics learned in French and Indian War play a key role in the American Revolution?

9 Do we diminish the role of disease in military history? In WW1 it is said that more men died of disease than bullets. This seems like an exageration given the batlles had casualty rates that today would be conisidered astronomical. Disease certainly played a key role in the French debacle in Haiti.

10 Is Santa Anna the most inept figure in military history?


11 What coutries do you see as keys to the future of the American economy?

12 There is an interesting hypothesis in the book the Malady of Islam. The hypothesis is that the West has bypassed the Muslim world in trade. The lack of foreign manufacturing jobs leads to high unemployment and in turn breeds religious fanaticism. There is some truth, but the issues of violence, corruption must be solved prior to this investment. Are there elements of truth in this theory?

13 Are there pseudo religious elements in the Marxist and Environmental movements?
Maxists keep failing disasterously and in the case of the Green movement it seems that they are chasing a paradise that never was?

14 What are your views on social engineering via the tax code? Should the government
tax items like gasoline consumption, cigarettes and cell phone usage? Are gasoline taxes a slap in the face of rural Americans.

Books and Letters

15 Are authors like Stephen Ambrose, Martin Gilbert and Cornelius Ryan guilty of mass marketing history. What are your views on the writing of history as entertainment.

16 What is your favorite work of historical fiction? I am partial to the works of Leon Uris. The battle sequences in Drums Along the Mohawk are entertaining as well as accurate.

17 I am against the introduction of pop psychology into history. We have had the following theories about Lincoln manic depression, gay Lincoln and oddly Linoln sufffering from syphilis. In my view all of this is a distraction from learning about the actions and legacy of President Lincoln. What are your views on the subject?

Political History

18 Where does Teddy Roosevelt rank on your list of American Presidents? Bill Clinton was alleged to see himself as heir to TR's legacy. Has the aura of romance turned TR into an American icon?

19 Is George Washington somewhat under rated as a President?

20 Was the French Revolution the first far left revolution? Was Napoleon an egomaniac
or on a par with the rest of the rulers of his era?

21 What were the most significant historic events that occured in your lifetime, pick five?


22 There was an unwriten formula for imigration sucsess in America.
1 Find a job 2 Obey the law 3 Respect others 4 Show some loyalty to your host country. Have these historic notions that served our country for two centuries become passe?

23 Should non-citizens who serve in combat roles in the US military get expedited citizenship benefits?

24 Should the US tax payer fund the Arts?

25 What are your views on drilling in ANWAR

I want to add that allegedly a new Israeli method has been found that can produce Oil Shale at $18.00 a barrel. If this is true the US government should get behind this project and expedite it. This could drive the price of oil down, produce American jobs and defund the Saudis and Hugo Chavez. Ironically, Arab obstinancy to trade created the ground work for this technology that will hurt their bottom line.


Mustang said...

1. I should point out that I am a former teacher, now working in retail management. Now, about the Mongols . . . like any post-Roman era people, they provide interesting footnotes in history, frequently overlooked in view of their ruthlessness and rapidity in creating their enormous empire. Their success was due, in large measure to their mobility and brutality, but that is not the only reason we should remember them. After Chinggis Khan, his heirs actually made a substantial contribution to China’s Golden Age, bolstered Confucianism, and became the patrons of notable temples and monasteries. Mongols funded studies in medicine, astronomy, and directed important engineering projects. Even in conquered territories, the Mongols became benevolent governors – which of course ultimately led to their downfall. What lessons can we learn from them? It is more difficult to maintain an empire, than it is to create one.

2. We should look at history as very small segments of human activities that, when analyzed together over time, might amount to very substantial events. I think that supply of goods is only possible when there is a demand for those goods, at a price people are willing to pay. The genius of the industrial era was creating marketable goods from raw resources, and the inventiveness or innovation applied to creating a demand for those goods (and services). Communication is an element of time. The early bird get’s the worm, as it were. Financial decisions must have been difficult when the primary form of communication was a mail packet sent by ship from one location to another. Undersea telegraph must have been as important to industrialists and financial managers in their day as the telephone and computer are to ours. Did supply and communications intensify the industrial era? Yes. And, if you believe that necessity is the mother of invention, then such intensity was a good thing.

3. The winner or loser depends entirely upon your own perspective. How does one define “winning?” In the Battle for Oriskany, you will note that all protagonists were North American. In the absence of British forces, Loyalists and Native Americans fought against the patriots. From this perspective, it would seem to have been one of those “lose-lose” situations, not unlike the Civil War. In terms of losses, the patriots suffered 450 casualties, while the loyalists and confederate Native Americans lost 150. But perhaps the battle should be viewed as one segment of a larger conflict – the Battle of Saratoga, which was an unqualified American victory over the British and the impetus for causing the French to finally support the Americans. Added to this, one might also consider that a Native American confederacy was never again employed in the American Revolution.

4. In the revolutionary period, there was an unspoken rule about never sighting in on your opponent’s officers because . . . well it wasn’t cricket, you know. It just wasn’t done . . . until the American militia, who were outclassed by a well trained, standing army, began to use guerilla tactics against them. We learned then that by shooting the officers, you could create havoc in the ranks. You will note that General Herkimer continued to direct his forces at Oriskany after he was wounded. Today, we train our forces to (1) focus in on the enemy’s command vehicle or the guy standing next to the radioman, and (2) we train our NCOs and Petty Officers to “assume command” in the event their officers become casualties. You are correct that this was a problem for the Soviets and Chinese, and I doubt that they’ve even figured it out today.

5. I have not heard of this previously, but I am not surprised. The use of any noncombatant for purposes of offensive or defensive conflict is contrary to the law of land warfare. It has happened in the past, such as when the Soviets lined up civilians in front of their advancing troops to act as a shield from German fires. I agree that using children to prosecute violence is “child abuse,” and I include the Muslim penchant for glorifying suicide missions to their children and dressing them up in “bomber” costumes. In cases where children become actual participants in battle, the individuals who sent him (or her) to that place bear ultimate responsibility – not the soldier who shoots the child who is tossing grenades in our direction. You see, war is an ugly thing . . .

6. It is not in the best interests of any military campaign to have journalists (and photographers) embedded in combat units. I am of the old school that believes that war is such a horrible thing, our loved ones should be spared from watching a photographer’s take on a particular engagement during the 6 o’clock news. This is especially true when it is possible to see who’s been killed or injured. People who want to see this kind of thing in the press are idiots.

7. I guess a “correct view” on Benedict Arnold would depend upon how you view him in history. Arnold was a courageous officer who demonstrated his ability to lead forces in combat – but he then allowed avarice to get in the way of his common sense. Arnold was on the verge of true greatness, but instead he chose a path that led him to a loss of respect here at home and in Great Britain. He was a major disappointment to General Washington, and ultimately he died a broken man . . .

8. Yes.

9. The “diseases” you are speaking about are hardly heard of today. Few people suffer from dysentery, malaria, smallpox, measles, chickenpox – all of which were deadly diseases in the not too distant past. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the number one debilitating disease in the U. S. Navy was syphilis. But with all history, events must be placed into some kind of context so that they are understood. On the battlefield in World War I, amputation was the solution to a bullet wound to the leg or arm. They still used saws to remove limbs. Maggots were allowed to eat inside the wounds because it was the only way to prevent gangrene. What this means, of course, is that medical science had not progressed very much between the American Civil War and World War I. Since then, it has progressed in leaps and bounds.

10. General Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón, also known simply as Santa Anna, was many things – but inept is not one of them. He was President of Mexico on eleven occasions. It is possible that he had more sand than sense, however – but I think it is also true that he was a man who reflected his training, his experience, and his perceived obligations, to himself, his country, and his people. Again, some context – who do you think was MORE inept, General de Santa Anna or Davy Crockett?

11. I could respond to this question better if I could predict that the American people would respond to our country’s future challenges as well as they have in the past. I have no confidence that our countrymen have what it takes to maintain America’s greatness. And, since no person in their right mind would ever elect me President, I’m not sure that my perspective is acceptable to anyone except my closest friends. I think what will happen is that the United States will form a “North American Union” so that we can compete with the European and Asian counterparts. So I don’t think that “countries” is in the future of global economics – but regions will be.

12. This theory must have borrowed heavily from Marx and Engels – who were not only two of the greatest intellectuals of their time, they were also two complete idiots. I am reminded of this saying – and I can’t attribute it to anyone at present – that goes like this: Political ideology always falls away in the face of economic reality. I believe this is true. So you can have really smart people living in an area with limited resources, governed by theocratic nincompoops, and the result will always be the same: “Angry young men” who want to blame everyone for their woes. Life isn’t fair, and then you die. If I lived in a region covered by sand, and knew that I would never be part of the crowd who owned the lakes of oil beneath the surface, I’d be thinking of some alternative calling. Perhaps I should think of becoming the best glassblower that ever lived outside of Medina, or maybe I should invent an alternative energy source to blow the socks off the King of Saud. But I would not be blaming everyone else for the fact that I was born in a third world cesspool. Perhaps it is as simple as this: If you think you are a loser, you are.

13. I do not think that there can be religious elements to Marxism, per se – but I do think that it is possible for Marxists to create personality cults that assume religious overtones. Among some Vietnamese, Ho Chi Minh was almost “god like,” as was Mao, and Stalin. Most of that might have been in their own minds, however. As for environmental movements, I’m not sure. I know that I consider myself an environmentalist. I also believe in God – and I happen to think that God gave us this big blue marble with the expectation that we’d take care of it. We haven’t done such a good job of this so far . . . but neither do I give Al Gore credit for anything other than being full of . . . hot air. I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to want a clean earth – and if you consider that human beings are the ONLY polluters of the world, maybe the best thing we could do is get rid of some of those as a good first step.

14. I don’t like taxes, and I don’t like anyone who does. I wonder how the United States ever got along before 1900 without income taxes. The American people have become a revenue source for the Congress, without their expressed consent. Have you ever wondered by the Congress doesn’t ask Americans about taxes before they pass a low that creates one? Therefore, if I do not like taxes, then I sure as heck don’t approve of “sin taxes” either. Members of congress can slap whatever label they want to on it – the bottom line is this: we pay for their pork. By the way, I don’t think members of Congress should be paid, do you?

15. I have to assume the Mr. Ambrose made a few bucks from writing his stories, and I don’t have a problem with that. If his books weren’t entertaining, no one would buy them. I am entertained by reading history, so I obviously see no problem with writing history for entertainment. If history can become entertaining it will be read – and that would be a good thing overall.

16. I have a very wide range of reading interests, from ancient civilizations to more contemporary works. I don’t think that I could choose one particular work over another, but I did find one book that amazed me by the amount of research that went in to writing it, and by the man who wrote it. It was titled “The Walking Drum,” and it was written by Louis L’Amour.

17. I agree with you. It is apparently in vogue to despoil great men of the past by exposing the fact that they were – gasp – human after all. I could care less if Thomas Jefferson has intimate relations with one of his slaves, or that George Washington even owned any. If I had been Lincoln, married to that woman, I’d be depressed too.

18. In my opinion, Theodore Roosevelt was our second BEST president. George Washington is my all time favorite because he created the presidency – and Roosevelt redefined it for the 20th Century. When I was a kid, we all had heroes; we adopted men of the past to emulate their character and gusto for life. There are few men who could be a better role model than Theodore Roosevelt; he did not like the name Teddy. But of course, this may simply reflect the fact that I was brought up to believe character meant something.

19. As far as I am concerned, George Washington is not under-rated as a president. Joseph Ellis did a fabulous job presenting “His Excellency George Washington,” and I recommend the book to anyone who would like to know more about our first president. I think that the more you know about Washington, the more you respect who he was, and what he accomplished.

20. I have never quite understood how anyone could even attempt to compare the American Revolution with that fiasco that occurred in France. The French version was so abstract and convoluted one has a tendency to become lost in its reading. There was a revolution, followed by a class struggle, followed by a civil war – to me it is like going to bad movie that just won’t end. But I think that we need to be careful about using such terms as “far left” in history because the definition of “radical” in the 18th Century has no meaning to us now. Remember that in the late 1700’s, a conservative was a monarchist – and a radical was someone who might have preferred “democracy.” But you have to say that the French (back then) were really on the ball . . . they went from monarchy to democracy to monarchy faster than it took the United States to ratify the Constitution. You just can’t get anything past those French.

21. The assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the election of Ronald Reagan, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the attacks of 11 September 2001.

22. Yes – and I think they’ve become passé because we are living in a society now that has become dishonest and opportunistic. Americans no longer admire men and women who have and display personal and professional integrity, or classical civic virtue. Today’s hero is one who has found a new way to “get over” on his family, his friends, or his community. For example, people who hack in to the computer systems of others display a total disregard for other people’s right to privacy or intellectual property. Worse, they brag about it. Given this truth, why should immigrants be held to a higher standard by society?

23. Emphatically, yes. Let us reward any man or woman who places his or her life in harms way for the United States of America by granting them “expedited” citizenship. Most of our natural born citizens haven’t exhibited such selflessness. In fact, let’s keep the “non-citizens” and exile the other morons who walk around with broken glass and stick pins protruding out of their mouths.

24. No. Art is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t want any part of the federal, state, or local government telling me what art is, or telling me that I have to pay for it.

25. We have choices to make about our immediate and long-term energy future. At this point in time, we are either going to exploit our own domestic resources (ANWAR), or we are going to continue to kiss the backsides of Middle Eastern Potentates. Neither is the BEST choice, but if I had to select one of these, it would be to drill in ANWAR. But I keep wondering – being that necessity is the mother of invention – why our government and industries are not seriously looking at other sources of energy. I know the answer (really), and it is sickening. The fat cats who are our politicians are in bed with the fat cats in charge of the petroleum industries. The fact cats in the oil industries are in bed with the automotive industry fat cats. And all of this is possible because Billy and Sally America have their heads up their own butts.

I think that American coal industries are already on top of this, Beakman . . . and I welcome the innovation. Now let’s see how long it takes the EPA, Texaco, Greenpeace, and Detroit to put the squash on shale energy.

nanc said...

so, where is this wild horse?

Always On Watch said...

Mustang's site is Social Sense.

Mustang was my first cyberfriend. And he's still my BEST cyberfriend.

Always On Watch said...

Excellent questions, tailored to Mustang's extensive knowledge of world history.

Always On Watch said...

It is not in the best interests of any military campaign to have journalists (and photographers) embedded in combat units. I am of the old school that believes that war is such a horrible thing, our loved ones should be spared from watching a photographer’s take on a particular engagement during the 6 o’clock news. This is especially true when it is possible to see who’s been killed or injured. People who want to see this kind of thing in the press are idiots.

Idiots or sadists and promoted by those with an agenda.

I quit watching the evening news during the Vietnam War. Night after night--the carnage on our TV sets in our living rooms. Furthermore, I believe that those images, particularly when children are watching, have the effect of desensitizing them with regard to human suffering.

A word about the images from the War in Iraq and the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah...The American public is subjected to all sorts of images showing the suffering of the enemy. But we cringe at watching the deeds of the enemy; in fact, those images are not broadcast for fear of offending our sensibilities. Were all of the American public to see the footage of the beheading of Berg or Johnson, we'd have a more realistic view of the enemy.

beakerkin said...

Mustang wants to point out George Washington is underated by historians.

At some oint Farmer John and myself will debate who won the battle of Oriskany. As Mustang mentioned Oriskany, Bennington also belong to the greater Saratoga campaign.

Benedict Arnold really was a valiant hero before he turned traitor. In those days traitors were dealt with properly.

Farmer John said...

Excellent interview beak & mustang!
I do, however, disagree with you as to your statement that Native Americans were never again employed against the colonists... given the Cherry Valley Massacre, the subsequent American retailiatory campaign and the fact that the Iroquois/Indian Wars continued post-Treaty of Paris and the fact that the Iroquois did not admit defeat until the Second Treaty of Ft. Stamwix in 1784. In other words, after the British were officially defeated, there remained a guerilla war in which the British attempted to undermine the American Colonies through use of the native American tribes. And of course, the British were reluctant at the outset of the campaign to unleash the tribes against the colonists, as their primary strategy was to reconcile the patriots to the crown, and massacres and atrocities would have been counter-productive to those efforts (does this sound familiar vis-a vis Iraq?). And I think a typo may have prevented you from noticing beaks real insight into Oriskany... that the Patriots destroyed the Indian Camp, which forced them to withdraw... and left Herkimmer in charge of the battlefield (which usually belongs to the "victor").

You commented on American initiative, but I sometimes wonder if strict "Rules of Engagement" tend to destroy all real or innovative initiative in the war and has chained the initiative one can usually expect from our troops to a post that prevents "victory". There are many "verbotten" techniques which I'm sure would ensure an American victory, long term and permanent, if employed. Especialy if we insisted that those tribal leaders we make alliances with in Iraq and Afghanistan send some of their children to America for education and training as hostages of a kind, and perhaps we took more risks with our own troops as well, allowing them to intermingle with the tribes, marry into them, and become leaders and war-chiefs to establish a more permanent relationship for funneling arms into and intelligence out of the hinterlands, as well as forming an focal point for economic development (ie fur-trading outposts) in a vein similar to the strategic importance of Albany in the Seventeenth Century. Also, the use of Indian Schools to train and enculture the sons of Native American chiefs such as Dartmouth provide a precedence for a strategy in which the tribal leaders children might not be considered "hostages" as "honoured guests".

In question 6, I also recognize that beak appreciates the value of propaganda, especially in a war of "wills", and our inability to effectively employ propaganda is largely responsible for our imminent "defeat" in Iraq. Bush's was not a military defeat, it was primarily a communications/ politcal defeat... much as Vietnam was.

I also think you miss the "linkage" between the American and French Revolutions, for the French Revolution was a continuation of the Enlightenment led liberalization of Europe.... although the Americans like the freemason Thomas Paine were much more closely linked with the intellectual Girondists than the uncompromising Montagnard Jacobins.

And I understand that the current Deputy Commandant of West Point has recently published a book on Arnold & Washington entitled "George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots" which compares the characters of the two men in an attempt to understand why one became a hero, and the other a goat. I saw General Palmer give a talk on the book... and its' on my wish list for Christmas.

Anyways, as lover of history myself, I couldn't let this excellent interview pass by without making a few comments.

Mr. Ducky said...

Not surprising, once again Marx is cited in a completely inappropriate and irrelevent context. One day we'll find a Libertarian with the cells to differentiate Adorno and Lukacs and comprehend Marxist economics. We don't here.

"24. No. Art is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t want any part of the federal, state, or local government telling me what art is, or telling me that I have to pay for it."

I always find this bombast interesting. Arts funding increases the availability and variety of arts and actually increases choice but some would have it limited by the "Ok, where are the impressionist crowd". As we allow "the free market" (LMFAO) to make determinations we regress to the lowest common denominator.

When faced with a situation where the market cannot promote excellence the Liberatarians crawl into their shells and fail to face the question openly. We know this is because they don't understand that a people's artistic culture is as important as its military but they hate government so much that they would rather the culture decline than admit their bias and error.

Mr. Ducky said...

"In order correctly to define art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and to consider it as one of the conditions of human life. Viewing it in this way we cannot fail to observe that art is one of the means of intercourse between man and man."

--- Leo Tolstoy ---

We limit our understanding so drastically with that "art is in the eye of the beholder" crap.

Farmer John said...


The Seneca leader Cornplanter signed the 1784 deal. The rest of the 6 nations of the Iroquois didn't sign on to peace until the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794...

beakerkin said...


Marxist art is the lowest common denominator it involves state contol of expression. I would rather have the market place determine what is art than a bunch of drug infested politically correct Marxist thug mediocre paper pushers/

Farmer John said...

mr. ducky,

Please distinguish between art and culture. You seem to confuse them into being equivalent concepts. You reject the "culture" that the Impressionists were trying to represent and bring about, and then you claim a need to embrace some form of art that is representative of "excellence" and not some lowest common denominator.

So which do you want, mr. ducky... art for the sake of art [aka: art and the common man (market)] OR art for the sake of a fomenting a particular type of cultural excellence? And if the latter, what was wrong with the cultural excellence of the Impressionists? That it was mono-cultural?

Mr. Ducky said...

Beak, I'm not sure exactly what "Marxist art" is but if you mean art that has been produced in a communist nation there is an interesting convergence with that favored by the Ayn Rand school.

You start out after the revolution in Russia and that produces some of the most dynamic, influential art of the century. That is picked up by leftists like Mondrian in the West to become modernism. So if you consider Rodchenko, Modrian, Leger et. al. to be "Marxist" art then saying it was controlled by the state is risible.

What did happen is that totalitarians like Stalin recognized that art had a profound ability to change cultures and put on the clampdown. What you got was monumental, hard edge realism. The type favored by Ayn Rand in her aesthetics. You sure didn't get excellence.

I have no idea which leftist theorists you've read or which movements you've studied (well, I do but I'm being nice) so let me recommend John Berger's "Ways of Seeing". Excellent introductory text.

Of course the left has always been concerned with arts ability to change culture. I think that when we get the bleatings from the right about sacriligious works and other questions it is because they sense tha power and know they can't respond they find ways to block the expression.

We must also examine the social and economic relationships behind this content.
Why are some groups excluded from the production of meaning through creative expression?
What should the concrete political strategy be in overcoming this exclusion and ending its alienating effects?
These are, I believe, the questions the Religious Right is asking but cannot answer. It is the job of the Left to supply these answers and thereby move to a more humane and radically democratic society. However, the right is no friend of the form of social democracy I propose.

Meanwhile all we have is moronic talk radio standing in for serious discussion.

Mr. Ducky said...

Farmer, I don't fail to recognize great value in the expressionists.

What I object to is those who hold them up as exceptional. They certainly were not a pinnacle of some sort.

The term is also misused to include painters such as Van Gogh, Cezanne and Bonnard.

Just as you would demand rigor in history or philosophy I demand it in art history. Study or be circumscribed in criticism. That's all.

Farmer John said...

There you go again, ducky. You scream about the markets undiscerning ability to create culture for everyone, then scream about cultures that exclude certain groups. Which is it you are seeking ducky? Culture for everyone, or cultrue for "you"?

Don't answer, I think already know...

Mr. Ducky said...

Well Farmer, I'd go back to Tolstoy and his focus on sincerity as a critical element of art and communication of feelings and ideas as the critical function.

I believe the change comes in the communication and that cannot happen with rigid aeshthetic theories.

Elmer's Brother said...

Meanwhile all we have is moronic talk radio standing in for serious discussion.

Duhkkky leave AirAmerica and Al Franken out of this.

Farmer John said...

...and please, the nihilism and decadence inherent in the "modern art" movement was blatantly counter-cultural.

So again I ask ducky, which is it you want. Culture or happiness? Or what combination.

Marcuse quoting Freud... "Happiness is NO culture". Culture requires Physical repression. Civilization requires sublimated mental repression in lieu of physical repression. You demand "choice" where "choice" is not possible if one is to pursue "happiness".

beakerkin said...


I would rather leave the tastes in art to the consumer than the Marxist self deluded elites.

Farmer John said...

if some believe the impressionists to represent a pinnacle, then perhaps they've successfully sublimated the ideals of the impressionists and no longer need to think about it. You choose to rip "happiness" from these individuals for the sake of some un-named cultural excellence.

Why should you be "happier" than them? What gives you the right to make them miserable?

Farmer John said...

The market certainly seems to be the "fairest" mechanism for judging the relative merit of art... but "fair" isn't the same as "excellent" and does nothing to bring people together and unify them. To do that, one would have to discriminate in favor of one type of art over another, leading to the dis-satisfaction of those who would prefer decadence and disintegration. Freud "Civilization and its' Discontents". There will always be "discontents". Homosexual's etc. whose pleasures lie "outside the mainstream" and would prefer homo-erotic photgraphs over simple nudes...

Farmer John said...

Without a rigid aethetic theory, one cannot enjoy either culture OR civilization. A completely flexible aesthetic theory leads to dischord or anarchy. War between competing aesthetic values OR no aesthetic values at all. You cannot Mix aesthetics AND have either culturee or civilization unless you also divide into classes... and Marxism has always been about the elimination of class differences.

Mr. Ducky said...

Well Farmer, then which theory is it gonna be? Aristotle, Kandinsky?

My point in stating that a rigid theory is limiting is that we have moved well beyond Aristotle.

As for art and social classes ... unfortunately the "public" has to make do with the "market" and it's narrow scope, which is consistent with the need to make money while the "high art" market ... well I assume you've digested what Warhol had to say about it.

Farmer John said...

...Not everyone wishes to pursue your aesthetic of staring into the sun of realism with death and disease in all its' full-bornn glory... or some Spartan spiritual "un-materialistic" logical or geometrical existence or the joy of some instinctual anarchy one finds in the perfect chaos of Pollack. You can choose one, but not all, or face the consequence of creating discontent.

A slightly blurred impressionist's picture of boats on a river is perfectly fine IMHO.

Mr. Ducky said...

oh, and as for your constant bleating for the aristocracy, Farmer .... Tolstoy's theories about sincerity and its extension to folk art is worth considering.

My point being that your Baroque "high art" theory has long since passed and gone and we haven't missed it.

Farmer John said...

It's what Berlin termed "the unavoidability of conflicting ends" or, alternatively, the
"incommensurability" of values. He once called this "the only truth which I have ever
found out for myself... Some of the Great Goods cannot live together.... We are doomed
to choose, and every choice may entail an irreparable loss." In short, it's what Michael
Ignatieff summarized as "the tragic nature of choice".

Euripedes Hecuba - I may be a slave and weak as well, but the gods are strong, and custom
too which prevails o'er them, for by custom it is that we believe in them and set up bounds
of right and wrong for our lives. Now if this principle, when referred to thee, is to be
set at naught, and they are to escape punishment who murder guests or dare to plunder the
temples of gods, then is all fairness in things human at an end.

beakerkin said...


Marxists talk about the people and the masses but it is thinly veiled elitism. The people are smarter than the Marxist hacks think and this is why you need subterfuge and accademic gulags to conceal your mediocrity.

Farmer John said...

My point being that your Baroque "high art" theory has long since passed and gone and we haven't missed it.

Except that now we lose every war we fight...

It makes a BIG difference.

Farmer John said...

And please, ducky... Kandinsky's career culminated with the non-objective art aesthetic, which REAKS of nihilism and the purposelessness of existance. Nietzsche states in "Geneology of Morals" that a man would will nothingness just as soon as will anything else. Why must we choose "nothing". There is nothing "eternal" in Kandinsky, and without the eternal, there is no future. His art evolves from Eros to Thanatos instead of embracing the eternal nature in both (as Aristotle's did).

Farmer John said...

Your Marxist one-class, completely egalitarian society is a pipe dream. There will always be three/four or more classes. The hoi agathoi, hoi polloi, hoi mesoi and hoi kakoi. And believe me, just because the hoi kakoi are poor or hoi mesoi intelligent, this doesn't make 'em in any ways "better" or mean that the whole purpose of my society has to be oriented towards forcing everyone else to prop them up. The hoi agathoi and hoi poloi have got rights too.

Farmer John said...

You seem to think that there is something "beyond" and more all-encompassing as Aristotle. I'm here to tell you that THAT is impossible. He has drawn the boundaries and argued the optimized case. Anything other than Aristotle would result in a diminishment and sub-optimalization of human potentiality.

Farmer John said...

Gee, Aristotle's aesthetics are limiting...Duhhh! They serve an aesthetic of beauty vice ugliness.

You seem to not believe it necesary to recognize ANY limits for a severly limited and mortal creature called "man". Yes art represents a desire to overcome these limits (ie mortality), but art cannot be used to create a man who has NO limits. Man may never become immortal, or all knowing, or incorporeal, but unless he strives for these things, he will be something else... Something you refuse to define in advance, possible something very ugly. Something you hope science will serenditpetously stumbled accross during the course of human genetic modification.

Sorry for my complicity in the hijacking of this thread beak.. I'll shut-up now.

The Merry Widow said...

Good points though! And all the "classes" need each other, unbalance for or against causes severe problems and societal collapse. the secret is to let the "classes" be fluid enough to move between as a person finds their best place in the society.
Unfortunately we are dealing with a flawed creature who adores stasis and resists necessary change.


Farmer John said...

...or one who like a lemming embraces all change, mistakes it for what is necessary, and propels himself and all around him off the nearest cliff. Stasis is an element which resists motion in mind.... a counterforce opposed to the pantha rhei of the universe. To constantly change in mind is to never act or do. To a Platonist, G_d is represented by a paradox of motionless motion...the thought before the deed...a momentary embrace of the eternal and with eternity.

Farmer John said...

For to "know" is to achieve this stasis of thought as nearly as is possible. And the fluidity between classes is generally determined in an Aristoteleon system by each individuals ability to "know" and to "do".

American Crusader said...

Great interview. Telling how ducky zeroed in on Marx and "piss Jesus".

Disagree with your assessment of Santa Anna...he might not have been the most incompetent figure in military history but he was by far a better politician that he was a general. Who would you rather have leading men into battle...Santa Anna or David Crockett?
All things being equal, I'll take Crockett.
On another issue...even though most congressmen come from wealthy families, I do believe they SHOULD be paid for their service. Not all politicians are wealthy and without pay, the temptation to make money from abusing their position would be overwhelming. would discourage "average citizens" from even attempting to run for office.

beakerkin said...


I did like this interview as we seldom delve deep into history. Someday I will get an economist and that will be a treat.

I do want to point out the BE interview with the Iranian dissident confirmed the children as minsweepers stories are genuine.
The Duck was silent on Mustangs point of Soviet abuse of civilians in WW 2. 20 million die, but much of it was caused by Stalin's own disregard for his own people.

Farmer John said...

The duck has fallen down the progressive well of Theosophy in his admiration of Kandinsky.

Beak, you should get the Editrix to tell the duck all about Rudolf Steiner and what it means to grow up and get "educated" under his influence.

Kandinsky elevated the "traditional" triangle to a circle in the representation of soul, and thereby uncreated Creation and called human's perfect. The psychological reaction of humanists to the staggering number of deaths in WWI was crippling and placed Europe on its' moralistic path to extinction. It is defenseless and no longer has the will necessary to fight and survive. The spot of ying in yang has been expunged from memory.

Jason_Pappas said...

"I don’t like taxes, and I don’t like anyone who does."

I'm with you there. Now who wouldn't agree ... besides water foul?

Mustang said...


What I implied in my response was, I think, correct. I said: “ . . . a Native American confederacy was never again employed [by either side] in the American Revolution.” I did not intend to suggest that Native Americans were not subsequently employed during the Revolutionary War, but rather the confederacy of Native Americans (making reference to the Six and Seven Nations of Iroquois, respectively) withdrew their support. At this time, the Iroquois Nations were engaged in a civil war of their own, which provided the impetus for the Oneidas to ally themselves with patriots. I apologize for my poorly worded proposition.

Mustang said...

FJ said, "Rules of Engagement" tend to destroy all real or innovative initiative in the war and has chained the initiative one can usually expect from our troops to a post that prevents "victory.”

Rules of engagement (ROE) are a necessary limiting factor because they establish when, where, how, and against who lethal force may be used in armed conflict. Limiting factors protect (as much as possible) innocents who are caught in the middle of opposing forces, and might include (as an example) prohibitions of violence against enemy forces who have signaled their willingness to surrender. Such rules may prohibit Air strikes in areas of high civilian population density. Shooting at people walking along a road without clear evidence that they are enemy forces is another example. This is not to say that opposing forces have corresponding or reciprocal ROE, nor does it suggest that opposing forces are even aware of one another’s ROE – only that all participants understand that violations of these rules can carry severe penalties. Is it true that some ROE are so restrictive as to impede military operations? Yes, it is. At the same time, we cannot have armed troops running amok in the battle area, either. By the way, did you know that most police departments in the US also use ROE? Such rules may have political implications for those high up in the chain of command, but I do not believe that we have lost a battle, or a war, because of the imposition of rules of engagement. In my opinion, they do not diminish the effectiveness of our NCOs and junior officers.

Mustang said...

American Crusader said:

“ . . . even though most congressmen come from wealthy families, I do believe they SHOULD be paid for their service. Not all politicians are wealthy and without pay, the temptation to make money from abusing their position would be overwhelming. Also . . . it would discourage "average citizens" from even attempting to run for office.”

I have heard this argument before, and I’m not in total disagreement with the principle – but I have to note, given the saga of Duke Cunningham and a legion of other august legislators from all parties, how has their lofty salaries sated their greedy appetites? LBJ borrowed money to get to Washington at the beginning of his first term in the House of Representatives, and at the end of his career, he was one of this country's most wealthy “public servants.” Never mind the fact that the Johnson family made a fortune through their Land-Sea stocks, which also “just happened” to be the principal shipper of military supplies to South Vietnam . . . but I digress. Let me ask this question: Consider that members of Congress (the so-called servants of the people) make three or four times as much money as they people who elected them, and I have to wonder if this is fair or equitable. In fact, I wonder why the federal government pays the salaries of Congressmen – since they do not represent the federal government. What do you think about a system in which state legislatures fund congressional salaries, paid for by the people through state taxes? Would this give “the people” more power over their “servants” in Congress?

Justin said...


10 Is Santa Anna the most inept figure in military history?

Ask any Texan and he will tell "Why H_ ll yeah he was"

Viva Speedy!!! Ayeeeeeeee Ariba Ariba

Justin said...


I like your idea of the congressmen being paid by the states who sent them there and not a federal pay check. Perhaps that would stop some of the graft by the lobbiests.

What would you think of paying our military a congressional salary, giving them the same retirement and health care that the congressmen enjoy today. After all they do represent the Federal Government. I am all for it.

Purple Avenger said...

comprehend Marxist economics

What's so hard to understand about empty shelves?

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...


Why is it that you can tell us why elephant turds are "art" but can't make Marxism pretty?

Warren said...

Rumor has it that the urine used in "Piss Christ", was Ducky's urine sample that he was supposed to drop off at his parole officer.

He's proud of that urine test, he studied all night for it!

Good interview Mustang!

Purple Avenger said...

You can polish a turd till it shines, but in the end, when all is said and done, its still just a turd.

Farmer John said...


I believe I may have misunderstood your used of the word "confederacy", although I'm not sure that the Oneida ever fought against the patriots... they were very "Christian" by the time the war broke out.... and of course the Seneca made their own "separate" peace at Ft. Stanwix. But you're correct regardless in that they did not effectively wage the war as a united "confederacy".

And as for the ROE, I still believe we've hogtied the troops and our ability to wage an effective war against insurgent forces, for "tribal warfare" is not the same as warfare between modern or European armies, and require tactics and stragegies far different from policing cities in a civilized nation-state. War is chaos, and many of our ROE's err on the side of caution and NOT causing ANY civilian casualties.

ie - The other day in Gaza the Israeli's were going to order an airstrike on a Hamas leader, but a crowd gathered atop the leaders home to act as human shields... I would have levelled the place as most of the "shields" were also Hamas forces, but it was impossible to distinguish the guilty from the innocent. And whereas to bomb them all would have been an injustice in a western court of law, in the court of "social justice", it would have been perfectly acceptable. The ROE's, IMO, are preventing victory.

Farmer John said...

...and each time we err on the side of caution... we have the equivalent of McClellan sitting in Gettysburg instead of pursuing Lee's Army of Nothern Virginia.

Farmer John said...

...the enemies ROE's are changing. Why don't ours?

Mustang said...

You've made an excellent point, FJ. When we went in to Iraq, we opposed a standing army. Now, we are having to contend with Muqtada al-Sadir's band of hooligans. They are a motley herd that do not observe ROE's. I wonder (1) why we didn't "code six" that idiot the first time he raised his butt-ugly head, (2) why the lead general doesn't use his own initiative to terminate al-Sadir with extreme prejudice.

I agree that politicians have tied the military's hands -- both our politicians and theirs. But because military commanders take their orders from civilians, I guess we'll just have to wait until the light-bulb flickers on above Bush's head.

Sadly, the enemy knows us all too well. They are taking advantage of our "apparent weakness," which is that we tend to be as humane as possible in armed conflict. Remember what we were saying the other day? Shoot the bastard who is standing next to the radioman. Al-Sadir has GOT to go.

Farmer John said...

I think you could find MUCH better uses for him Mustang! You'd just have to get creative and think outside the ROEs.

Farmer John said...

Like William Sleeman of the British Raj did to destroy the Thuggee's...

How else will you eliminate the new Persian Assassins?

Mr. Ducky said...

We should have taken out al-Sadr? Well, maybe. What I find with you armchair Sun Tzu's is that you can make a statement like that without ever indicating that you understand the command and control structure you are trying to topple.

Just get rid of al-Sadr and you will be rid of iranian influence and the slums of Sadr City will have working sewage and people will have jobs... well you aren't going to get the point so why continue.

Mother Courage is still pushing her wagon. The defense budget is so bloated that no administration can walk away from those kinds of profits. Really, stop the History channel analysis and take a look at Halliburton's dividend payout ratio if you want to start catching a clue.

You damn fools think we went into Iraq to "win" something. Your understanding of this "war" (LMFAO) is as shallow as your understanding of art.

beakerkin said...

Yes what does Fanon or Chimpanzee have to say Duncy.

Nice assasination of a Lebanese politician by the clods in Syria and Hezbollah. Words said by Poultry 0

Farmer John said...

...hey ducky,

At least we're thinkin' on the problem. Your whole focus since 9/11 has been figuring out how to blame Bush for getting us attacked.

Farmer John said...

Please Cookie, you'll make your inner Kattrin blush! I guess she (and you) never did really understand "The Song of the Great Souls of the Earth" or the like admontions of Lord Acton (or Socrates) on the perishability of institutions.

Go back to singing Three Penny Opera duck. I hear they need a new contralto.

Farmer John said...

The duck can't seem to break Marx's habit of fretting over who got the profit from the last transaction, and thereby never understands where the profits from the next one will come from.

Farmer John said...

duckKattrin is dumb, beak. He can only speak to sacrifice himself (and us).

Farmer John said...

I guess I shouldn't badmouth Marx though. I mean, all a parasite has gotta learn how to do is jump from host to host!

Mustang said...

One could fill up warehouses with the things that Ducky doesn't know or understand. But one must give credit when due . . . much like the tarbaby, everything he touches comes away with a sticky, pungent residue.