". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, April 11, 2020

History Doesn't Take Vacations

     . . . . Edited extract from Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear by Patrick Boucheron, published in the US by Other Press.

This is government by mob / mafia rule; taking and keeping power via fear and cruelty is the point.*

I am speaking literally.  In Italy the mafia is delivering food and medical supplies to their 'friends.'  Here They are delivering food and medical supplies that They have highjacked by every means possible, including via FEMA just taking possession of trucks of stuff going from one state to another, giving it Their friends who then sell it commercially to Their "friends."
This experience, which is profoundly Machiavellian in nature, is one that recurs again and again in history, whenever the words for expressing the things of politics become obsolete. What do we do when confronting adversaries we can’t put a name to? We call them “fascists”, for want of a better term – just as in Italy’s medieval communes, the people called the lords “tyrants”. We intend to confound them, to abash and bring them down, when we should in fact be examining what they say closely for its fascist potential. 
In a sense, totalitarianism is a political fiction. It had its first trial in George Orwell’s 1949 fable and was then given a theoretical analysis by Hannah Arendt in 1951. We now know that what came after, what obtains today, took its place without receiving a name. Orwell imag­ined the tyranny of a “Ministry of Truth” but that’s not what happened, and we don’t yet know if it’s for better or worse. “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” Orwell’s hero, Winston Smith, says in Nineteen Eighty-Four. And: “Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied.” What the novel describes is the capacity of propaganda to hollow out a receptive space in people by undermin­ing reality and sense experiences. “The evidence of one’s eyes and ears” referred to by Orwell could be common sense; it could also be that sixth sense Machiavelli spoke of, the accessory knowledge that the people have of what is dominating them.
Admittedly it was not the Party, as imagined by anti-totalitarian writers, that spoke when Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, declared, “Our inten­tion is never to lie to you,” before adding “sometimes we can disagree with the facts.” It’s not a Party, but it’s something else that we don’t know what to call, a fiction that is taking on body under our eyes. And what we need to understand is: what is this taking on of body, and how can our own society come to embody monstrousness? Gramsci read Machiavelli’s The Prince replacing the word “prince” with the word “party”. We could in turn read Orwell and replace “party” with “prince”. Either way, Machiavelli needs to be read not in the present, but in the future tense.
* It’s eerily as though Goldfinger was chiefbloodonhishands's template for his life. He talks, behaves and looks like Auric Goldfinger,

Ha! Not the first to notice this -- from Psychology Today.

who is characterized as a German ‘tycoon’ obsessed with gold. Even to obsession with golf and cheating at it (as, indeed, he cheats at everything else – “I like to win,”). Even to Goldfinger's presumed dominance in mob partnership, to steal the Fort Knox gold supply and rule it all.

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