As the World Turns so does American Culture

The city of Sandusky, Ohio, population 26,000, has swapped out Columbus Day for Election Day and declared it a paid holiday. Thus far, only 250 city employees are affected — “But we’re very hopeful that the message that it sends will be contagious,” the city manager said. [NPR]

-> Mariner notes in passing such a small adjustment to American culture. He remembers Columbus Day being a big deal which brought a few days of holiday spirit and even a few parades. On the other hand, democracy shows signs of rumbling from its grave, insisting voting is more important than Chris.

– – – –

OMAR IN HOT WATER — Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar is under fire for a recent tweet seen by some as anti-Semitic. The Minnesota Democrat, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, suggested Sunday night that Republican support for Israel is fueled by campaign donations from Jewish lobbying groups. While Omar has been repeatedly attacked by the GOP for her critical views toward Israel, her latest remarks earned rebukes from members of her own party. “Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself,” said freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.). [Politico]

-> Three cheers for diversity. God bless the New Bunch (freshman Representatives). The Muslims have been on the spot for decades; now the Jews. Let’s throw in the Mormons, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Native Americans and while we’re at it, the Zen crowd, too. The schisms and protectionist behavior between these groups have lasted far too long. What is the common thread of humanity among them? As for Jewish politics, well, politics is politics; money is a religion, too.

– – – –

Few species live past the point they can produce offspring. Why do humans?

Anthropologists have had reasons to suspect that a mother’s help allowed their daughters to have more children. New research into 17th century genealogical records backs that up, showing that a grandmother who lived close by allowed a mother to start having kids sooner, reduced child mortality, and resulted on average in 1.75 more children. But another study found those benefits only existed if the grandmother was young enough to help out.[1] [NPR]

-> Monkeys around the world have known this all along. The role of family matriarch is an important role in simian colonies. Mariner makes note of this because it is another indicator that worldwide human reproduction is undergoing a change. Not because grandmothers are too old – well, maybe, as actuary tables creep into the 80’s – but for some reason every modern, industrialized nation is suffering from a lack of citizen replacement. A report from the United Nations says:

“Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labour and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as housing, transportation and social protection, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties.

“According to data from World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision, the number of older persons — those aged 60 years or over — is expected to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by 2100, rising from 962 million globally in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050 and 3.1 billion in 2100. Globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.”

Mariner continues to stumble over bits of information that are related to an increasing ratio of senior citizens to younger ages. For example, the Calhoun studies with overpopulated mice showed that reproductive ability in the females failed as the mouse society began to crumble; the issue of excessive numbers of humans which disrupts the environmental balance of the planet is another area; continuous articles about the financial support for the elderly because of fewer taxes from younger generations, and even the collapse of day-to-day life in Japan.

Japanese childbearing is currently estimated to be nearly 35 % below replacement level. According United Nations Population Statistics estimates, these demographic trends will drive Japan’s total population down from 127 million to 114 million by 2030 – a level affecting economic stability.

Sex ratio at birth has declined significantly in Japan and in U.S. whites, but not for African Americans, for whom sex ratio remains significantly lower than that of whites. The male proportion of fetal death has increased overall in Japan and in the United States.

Here’s a note for Donald’s Base: If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants, according to new projections developed by the Pew Research Center. Unfortunately, Japan will not benefit from immigration and faces critical economic issues by 2050.

– – – –

Guns in America, through the eyes of the next generation.

A year ago, a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Afterward, students at that school set off an unprecedented wave of youth activism for gun control — and eventually against it as well. NPR interviewed teens across the country to document their relationship with guns — including sport shooters, aspiring soldiers, gun control activists, those who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence and those who live with the threat of it every day.

What emerged were portraits of the budding political consciousness of the next generation, and of America’s complex relationship with firearms.[2] [NPR]

-> Mariner wishes the New Bunch well. They have their hands full – guns are a religion, too.

Ancient Mariner


[1]

[2] For more see:

Mother Nature Continued

The last post recognized how much and how rapidly change is occurring in our global society. It introduced four key areas that drive society: economics, sociology, religion and psychology. The last post addressed economics and sociology. The background theme was that humans are bound to behave the way Mother Nature created them no matter how sophisticated the extra-human inventions and liberties therefrom may seem.

Economics is based on a leverage of group behavior and its rewards – not mathematically but as a group of H. sapiens participants. Lifestyle and the conveniences of electricity, combustion and modern chemistry draw Mother Nature’s primates away from the normal physical environment for which they were designed. Each and every new invention, including telecommunication advances, which draw the brain away as well, have created a society that will change overnight to adapt to the newest contrivance. Yet ties to primate limitations cause stress on the relationship between basic human characteristics and omnipotent domination by a non-primate world. Mother Nature is watching.

This post will present the last two areas that drive society: religion and psychology.

– – – –

Religion, stripped of specific theologies, doctrines and rituals, is how humans relate to a reality that is beyond their understanding and control. Mariner’s use of the term ‘Mother Nature’ is typical shorthand for the Universe and its parochial characteristics on Planet Earth. In a subtle way, if one wants to stabilize one’s psyche, the individual must feel in unison with the universe; one must be linked to the power that permits existence. Throughout time, H. sapiens has developed interpretations for being in accord with the universe. Various interpretations have evolved in history depending on when and where and why – hence different theologies, doctrines and rituals.

Today, religion is caught in the same rampant change as the rest of society. The advancement of science, universal knowledge, an awareness of global issues, and instant communication has altered the reasons for religion in daily life. A human has been elevated from parochial wisdom and ritual to a point where a world view is available – even the kind of world among billions of other worlds in the Universe. Theologies are struggling.

Joseph Campbell, a renowned anthropologist, used the term ‘myth,’ suggesting that the myths or understandings between humans and the powers of creation that developed from 6000BC to 1000AD are no longer de rigueur. Wars in the name of religion (if only in name) have existed almost continuously because religion is as important as any human endeavor; religious sanctity is discriminatory in its ethics and morals. Today, however, situation ethics, a term coined in the 1960’s, is prevailing as a general doctrine. The new God is not anthropomorphic, it is the Universe.

– – – –

Psychology incorporates terms like behavior, personality, maturity, compassion, fear, greed, self-awareness, emotions, and many other terms including those that describe emotional disorders like neurotic, schizophrenic, arrested development, etc. For the purposes of this post, its broadest interpretation is used: psychology is the response mechanism that reacts to sensory input.

Despite more obvious influence on behavior by modern technology (don’t get mariner started on smart phones), the true threat is the displacement of human, plain old H. sapiens control over its own behavior and priorities. To keep from prattling on, mariner offers the global, environmental conflict between MN, her primates and that of the non-human influence of devices made from electricity and chemistry which discount the environment and the behavior of species within that environment: the John Henry syndrome.

As mentioned in the previous post, mariner suggests that the global war for humanity is represented as a battle for control between governments (A version of control that focuses on primate need first) and corporations (a version of control that uses primates as objects of profit). Even simpler, it is a battle between money and human liberties based on MN’s creations. This conflict is of immense proportions, truly a global conflict over the future of life on the planet.

Today, this conflict, hidden beneath keyboard games and meaningless conveniences, is fully engaged. It is a battle between the corporations and the common life of normal H. sapiens – who owns the rights to human life?

Ancient Mariner



Mother Nature

No one can deny that the times they are a-changin’. They are changing in every corner of economic, sociologic, religious and psychologic areas. Mariner is a gardener and he relates cultural change in human societies to the seasonal cycle of plants, birds, insects and mammals of all sizes. What all these living things have in common is that Mother Nature is a bitch – it’s her way or the highway and often she makes the choice herself.

From a less extreme perspective, humans are unique among the flora and fauna and as such can manipulate Mother Nature (MN) just a bit. MN notices but is tolerant for a while until things obviously aren’t going her way. At first MN sits and smirks as humans pretend they are independent of their own biological place in her environment. Perhaps she hopes that humans will learn their place in the larger reality of things but alas, they never do. Humans have this disorder called hubris (excessive pride and self-importance).

Today, humans are in disarray, in conflict with MN and dismissive of the behavioral rules of the human species. To varying degrees most of today’s humans hoard if they can. That’s not the way it is supposed to be. Anthropologists have identified a characteristic in Homo sapiens that differentiated them from Neanderthals – H. sapiens was able to construct multiple roles for members of a small group which in turn generated more resources. Further, the rules for sharing reflected the amount of resources available. Had an individual hoarded in the face of group need, they would have been driven from the group and possibly killed according to primitive, H. sapiens roles of behavior. So in one sentence we can make a generalization about economics: If the rules aren’t fair, H. sapiens is going to take umbrage. That’s how MN designed her primates. That is a brief explanation why most industrialized nations are having difficulty with their citizenry.

It is also the reason why many humans are promoting the idea of income distribution that is, in over simplified terms, taxing the wealthy class to redistribute GDP to lower income classes. Whether governments can rein in corporate profits is the battlefield.

– – – –

Sociologically speaking, behavior didn’t change much in the good old days. The good old days ran from 90,000 years ago until electricity was invented in 1600 and combustion was harnessed around 1800. Before those dates, humans were permitted to toy with seven tools: lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. There were simpler tools like the rock but the advantage of a rock can be distributed among the seven tools depending on how one uses it. The most significant change in the good old days was the enslavement of animals like horses and water buffalo. Still, the animals had to make do operating a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. This was fine with MN because the energy still came from H. sapiens or other MN creations. To quote Tennessee Ernie Ford, “muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong.” Or to quote Pete Seeger,

“The man that invented the stream drill

Thought he was mighty fine,

But John Henry made fifteen feet;

The steam drill only made nine. Lord, Lord.”

Alas, John Henry died and the glory of human capacity was forever diminished by combustion. How we measure our worth changed, ergo our social values changed and changed and changed ever more rapidly as H. sapiens forgot its MN roots and sought existence beyond primate reality. The path of combustion has been rude to MN. Beginning around 1850, humans began interfering with MN’s environment. She has noticed.

Manner often has pondered that the popularity of sports is because of a deep desire to have one’s value based on genuine human capacity – like John Henry.

Continued in the next post.

Ancient Mariner



Touching without Touching

Mariner has never done this before but he feels an old post speaks directly to a latent disorder in our time. We as a nation, as a culture, even as a family member, have stopped touching other people – and other people have stopped touching us.

Who was the last person you feel changed your life? Who was the last person that taught you a maturing sensation about life? Who was the last person you considered wise – and without knowing shared that wisdom with you and made you a better person, a smarter person, a more mature person? It’s not physical touching that’s at risk, it’s learning through others, that your soul, your sense of self, your sense of human responsibility is changed. The old post:

The Power of Mentors

Posted on January 17, 2017 by skipper

Usually, in our late teens and early twenties, each of us comes across a special person. This person is a mentor; not necessarily a teacher from school but someone who enters your life in a direct way – perhaps someone you golf with or meet on the job or perhaps just an older neighbor you never really talked to before.

You learn some special wisdom from this person. Something that helps you finish growing up with a bit more wisdom and maturity; someone who may have enlightened you to what courage is about or what it means to be gracious or what it really means to take responsibility. Sometimes it’s a book or a trip. Sometimes, you just watch a special person perform in a special way that changes you for the rest of your life.

The mariner actually had two or three mentors. One, named Mike, was more or less a surrogate father for about five years. Being a scratch golfer, Mike taught him to play a decent round; he and mariner were leaders in the Explorer Scouts. We fished in the rushing rivers of the Appalachians. But most intensely Mike taught the mariner what courage was all about. At the age of 41, Mike had a massive heart attack. He was bedridden and limited to the first floor of his home. After a month or so, he advised his wife and children that he could not live like an invalid any longer. Knowing he was not going to live long, he asked the doctor to grant him a release. Mike went back to work; He played nine holes with his son and the mariner; He went to an Orioles game with friends; a week later he took off for two days of deer hunting with friends. It was a typical regimen for him. Two weeks later he died of a fatal heart attack.

Mike was greatly missed by many people. He was a gracious and caring person. He has remained mariner’s benefactor to this day. He taught mariner the value of sharing; he taught confidence; he taught the power of the human spirit.

– – – –

Mariner came by another mentor via public reading sources, books, and old timey movie clips. The reader likely knows him, too: Will Rogers. Will was a traveling humorist and writer. He was very popular with the national audience – constantly full of funny quips and derisive comments about any institution, especially government. Will had a way of making you laugh at yourself despite the sarcasm. He lived from 1879 to 1935, dying in a private airplane crash at 55 on the way to Alaska with Wiley Post. Will was born to Cherokee parents in Oologah, Oklahoma on a Cherokee reservation. In his young days he performed in Wild West shows, becoming an expert at cowboy skills and especially enjoyed doing tricks with lariats. He moved to Broadway shows, movies and writing – truly becoming a world famous author and speaker.

“Rogers increasingly expressed the views of the “common man” in America. He downplayed academic credentials, noting, “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. Americans of all walks admired his individualism, his appreciation for democratic ideas, and his liberal philosophies on most issues. Moreover, Rogers extolled hard work and long hours of toil in order to succeed, and such expressions upheld theories of many Americans on how best to realize their own dreams of success. He symbolized the self-made man, the common man, who believed in America, in progress, in the American Dream of upward mobility. His humor never offended even those who were the targets of it.”[1]

It was Will’s personal economic philosophy of life that caught the mariner’s attention. In various periods of his life, Will lived on a ranch in California. He had his family and a number of Indian workers. Will followed the American Indian philosophy: The hunters go out on a hunt and when they return with the kill it is given to the tribe to distribute. The hunters do not own or control the kill; it belongs to the tribe and there are no requisites for anyone to have access to the kill. Simply, the kill belongs to everyone.

Will worked hard for his income; similar to tribal procedure, the profits of Will’s labors were, as simply as the hunters, turned over to the family. Will didn’t pay his workers, their sustenance was provided the same as with everyone – family, Indians, food, clothing, materials in general. Everyone on the ranch received the same benefits and was cared for in like fashion.

Conservatives call this a dole. Profit is earned and owned by the one who earns it. Handouts are unfair and signify laziness, cheating, and unworthiness. Note that the Indian culture, along with Will, did not confuse individual worth as a scale of value equal to the amount of profit at hand. Mariner remembers the day he had this insight. How novel, how caring, how fair, how sustainable. This economy which belonged to no one and everyone had immense capacity to sustain far more participants (not just the 1%).

Without hearing, mariner knows the selfish will lash out at those who seem to be working less than the mighty profit takers. Alas, conservatives, it is a complex world and not everyone has the same profile.

Will wrote during the depression: “Now everybody has got a scheme to relieve unemployment, but there is just one way to do it and that’s for everybody to go to work. ‘Where?’ Why right where you are, look around and you see lots of things to do, weeds to be cut, fences to be fixed, lawns to be mowed, filling stations to be robbed, gangsters to be catered to.…”

In reality, the variance in work capacity or in amount of income is not an issue. On Will’s ranch, no one was told they had to assist with sustenance; they knew it – without intimidation or belittlement. Everyone saw to it that some part of the ranch labor was attended to without condescension. The trick is to not bind hunting to self-worth.

Mariner is pleased to note that Sweden, as a nation, as everyone’s government, has just passed legislation to experiment with Will’s way. Several thousand people will receive about $600/month and not be required to work at a defined ‘job.’ It is not seen as a dole; it is seen as a way to stretch the kill across everyone even when resources become lean. Sweden understands that humans have been scarfing down the Earth’s wealth far beyond what will be available as humans expand their population by another 40% in 100 years. Don’t worry about working at a defined job – everyone will be working at something to better the tribe.

Isn’t it fascinating that a Stone Age civilization is showing modern man the right way to do things?

Ancient Mariner

[1] James M. Smallwood, “Will Rogers of Oklahoma: Spokesman for the ‘Common Man’”. Journal of the West 1988 27(2): 45-49. ISSN 0022-5169


Travel isn’t Broadening – It’s Frightening

Mariner grows disinterested after hearing hour after hour day and night the same statistics, speculations and campaign ads intent on assassinating the character of the other candidate. Today he focused on the rest of the world. He should have stayed home.

We live in an age of rapidly growing nationalism. Most countries have had a form of nationalism but today it is the democratic nations that are switching rapidly. To name just ‘a few’: every member of the European Union (EU), most dramatic are England (Brexit), Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Turkey, Greece and Germany – just a quick list. South America is awash in nationalism with Brazil and Venezuela in great disarray. Central America has long had several abusive, crooked governments but even there dictatorship is on the rise.

Drivers of nationalism include a slow economic recovery, an increase in people displaced across borders, and anxiety about terrorism, according to Harun Onder, an economist at the World Bank. Another factor, which perhaps is not as appreciated, is age. Many rich nations are in the grips of a big demographic shift toward older populations, and aging populations experience economic pressures that can lead to more nationalistic tendencies. Most frightening is that the newly elected nationalists in these democracies act and sound exactly like Donald! Racism and religious oppression are rampant around the world and are used to incite even more fear in stressed populations.

Median Age []

On a more theoretical level, our global economy is 170 years old and shows signs of wear as oligarchical practices gather more and more wealth to fewer and fewer people. In the US, despite apparently good unemployment statistics, general wage levels are half of what they would be if wages kept up with inflation. Corporate power expands ever more rapidly as new digital technologies emerge.

Regarding migrations, mariner has noted that major migrations occur periodically throughout history. Humans moved out of Africa because food was becoming scarce; two very long droughts drove large numbers of humans further into Europe and Asia. Today, the reasons are war, violence and abject poverty. Ironically, the human population is growing to such an extent that soon there will be no room to migrate.

Global culture is in a state of severe turbulence. Change is everywhere and in everything. Is nationalism a solution? Is nationalism similar to a storm cellar during a tornado? Can democracy survive during hard times; during times of uprooted society and morality? Coming back to the US this evening, mariner is concerned about the state of western society. China may not know what it is getting into.

Ancient Mariner

Theologically Speaking

Theologically speaking, mariner believes there are so many people alive today that God has arranged to have some of us live longer so God has time to process purgatory before we die instead of afterward. For example, several years ago God arranged mariner’s life so that mariner would be retired to a small Iowa town on the Great Plains. Well, it’s been awhile now. Wait – what if mariner is wrong and this isn’t purgatory . . .

It may be that purgatory isn’t the issue at all; it’s the eternal places that are overcrowded.

God has many issues to overcome while managing the afterlife. There’s the old story about the less than scrupulous old man who died and was paired for eternity with a strikingly beautiful young woman. Speaking in an aside to one of the residents, the man said, “Wow, I must have done something good to deserve this.” “No,” the resident replied, “this is Hell and you are her punishment.”

The worst game loss the Chicago Bears ever experienced was September 27, 1964: Baltimore Colts 52, Bears 0. Colt Joe Don Looney ran for 82 yards – quite an effort and unusual for him. After he died, Looney asked God why God was so good to him in that game. “I’m glad you recognize my contribution to your life, Joe Don. I was unhappy with the Bears at the time.”

Mariner, an intense Baltimore Colt fan, watched that game but isn’t sure he wants to know God’s motivations. The Colts moved from Baltimore, MD to Indianapolis, IN on March 29, 1984. They left Baltimore unannounced suddenly in the middle of the night. What did mariner do to deserve this? Mariner chooses to believe God is testing his faith, like God did with Job.

– – – –

There will be a pause in mariner’s postings while he travels to visit family and friends. He plans to be back aboard on November 5. He leaves a prayer for you that unless you have done something terribly evil, God will arrange for you to vote on November 6.

Ancient Mariner


Watch the European Union

The European Union (EU) is having a more intense disruption with populism, nationalism and a drift toward totalitarianism. We in North America – particularly the US – should pay attention to what’s happening across the pond because the causes of disruption are quite similar.

IMMIGRATION – Donald has heightened the reactions of his base by taking the side of racist politics and exacerbating border issues with his fence initiatives; along with Jeff Sessions (lest we forget Jeff took Strom Thurman’s place as the leader of racist policy in the Senate), has eliminated sympathy, empathy, fairness and every other human instinct from ICE, tearing families apart not only in the Southwest but across the country. Further, Donald is defunding several assistance programs for immigrants, for example, DACA and aid programs for newly arrived legal immigrants. This legislative turmoil is magnified in the EU by confrontation in 28 member nations.

Actually, US citizens statistically are not as upset about global migration as Donald and his followers are. The proportion of immigrants in the US is quite a bit less than the proportions in EU nations; as of 2015 immigrant population in the EU was 19.9 percent of total population (1 of every 5) while the US immigrant population is 14.3 percent (1 in 7). These numbers reflect all immigrants, not just the headline wave in the news. Unlike EU migrations from the Middle East and Africa, US migrations largely are from Central and South America and some from Asia.

Having made this case, it can be seen that Donald did not cause immigration woes; he is the result of a populist condition energized by several circumstances in the US having to do with economic imbalance, technology and cultural transition. Fortunately, the size and democratic philosophy of the US have not permitted totalitarian leaders as in Greece, Turkey and other small nations suffering from the same woes – though Donald wishes it were so.

ECONOMY – The following chart from The Economist magazine shows a relative comparison between the US, EU and other nations for the quality of life for the poorest 10% and the wealthiest 10% in each nation. Note not only the relative quality between nations also note the US has the greatest spread between the poor and wealthy groups.



The US does have the widest spread between rich and poor. Further, with middle class income stagnant for forty years and still not climbing today with record profits among the wealthier, it is no surprise that there is a populist reaction in the US. As a philosophical note, the three countries with higher quality for the poor (Canada, Sweden and Australia) have constraints on capitalistic abuse: Sweden has a socialist economy, Canada has socialist policies and, as an entertaining note, Australia keeps capitalism in check with a robust news media!

TECHNOLOGY – While for the moment the US is the leader in several technologies, Europe is no slouch. In fact, the European population is 196,734,765 people larger than the US and is second only to the US in GDP – United States 19,390,600 and EU 17,308,862. The point is, although the US perception is that all countries including the EU are tiny in comparison to ourselves, the EU is a global competitor not only in commerce generally but a competitor in technology and in some ways a leader in responding to the emerging AI global market (witness an EU trade agreement only days ago with Japan, usurping US economic influence (thanks, Donald).

Just as with the United States, EU is struggling with the definition and role of jobs in the future. Although not as thoroughly capitalistic as the US, taxation and industrial strength both are up for reinterpretation in the near future; EU is suffering the emergence of AI as is the US but even more so because of multinational issues among EU member states. An example is the push back on privacy usurpers like Google et al – something the US has not begun to do at Federal levels.

 CULTURAL TRANSITION – Many decades ago, perhaps in the late 80’s, Oldsmobile introduced the world to the slogan, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” No one denied it was a different vehicle with newer technology but many opined that the older versions had more power and comfort. Since then the phrase has become an icon for claiming significant changes in familiar objects and circumstances. We can safely say today a variation: “This is not your twentieth century!”

The millennial generation was the pivot generation to new behavioral forces that today continue to erode our 20th century religion, job security, Federal conservatism (AKA Establishment) and class/race relations. Each generation has put more pressure on social change that is long overdue.

Mariner burns leaves in the fall. The approaching age of artificial intelligence, perhaps only one more generation into the future, has an effect on culture change that pouring gasoline has on a leaf pile.

Perhaps by watching the European Union wander into this vortex, we may have a few weeks lead on what will happen on this side of the pond.

Ancient Mariner


Everyone’s Main Topic

Mariner receives many emails from news services, magazines and news analysts. Today, with a rapid fire sort of experience, mariner copied the following quotes from his emails and could have copied many more:

֎ Trump won by speaking directly to voters who had the least experience with democratic institutions… A nation of passive observers watching others make decisions is a nation that will succumb to anger and resentment—witness the United States. [Yoni Appelbaum, journalist]

֎ “Whatever may be tolerated in monarchical and despotic governments, no republic is safe that tolerates a privileged class, or denies to any of its citizens equal rights and equal means to maintain them.” [Frederick Douglass, December 1866]

֎ “Human beings are tribal,” says Amy Chua, Professor of Law at Yale Law School. “We’re hardwired that way. We need to belong to groups.” The problem, Chua says, is when tribalism takes over a political system—and that’s just what is happening in America.

In a new video filmed at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival in June, Chua explains that, in an unprecedented fashion for America, whites are on the verge of losing their majority status, leading to “destructive political dynamics” that are difficult to curb.

֎A longer article in the Atlantic marked the beginning of tribalism or identity politics to the influence of the Tea Party. Referencing a quote from Adolf Hitler who said early in his political life, “If they stop me early, I will not make it to power; if they don’t act early, they can’t stop me.” The reference alludes to the fragmentation of the citizenry and the government when one clique is allowed to derail normal democratic processes.

– – – –

The disappearance of democracy as a philosophical model producing equality for everyone regardless of tribe has malfunctioned quite dramatically in just 30 years. Today, it is the main topic of writers, thinkers, political practitioners and even many individual citizens.

Who should we blame? Just about everyone from our prominent political and corporate leaders, to Congress, Courts, and especially to the individual citizens who chose not to maintain the American experiment – democracy.

We could blame automation and electronics which make it easier to stay home rather than participating in clubs and civic organizations. We could blame public education for not requiring civics in 12 years of instruction. We could blame capitalism with its tendency to hoard. We could blame the media for championing tribal values, jousting at one another like knights in the lists – thereby creating fake news and alternative news. Each of these examples has, in its own manner, attacked democracy but at the core, it is the public citizen – the electorate. The electorate is Chairman of the Board for democracy.

Above, Amy Chua references an issue deep in this caustic salad bowl: racism. The penchant of the United States to sustain racism is about to turn around and bite the whites in their butts. Certainly a deep and visible characteristic of American culture, the transition may emerge subtlety as a shift toward socialistic governance.

On the other hand, more direct conflict emerges daily between tribes. Consider the following, each one entrenched with an attitude of ‘my way or the highway’:

-Theocratic dominance. The idea that a religion (Christianity???) supersedes state rights. There are several confrontations: abortion, gay marriage, right to deny service because of Christian values and the intent to oppress other religious principles, e.g., atheism, Islam and situational ethics as law (Roe v Wade). Whence the desire for equality?

-Libertarianism and Tea Party conservatism. (Modern libertarians defend the right of productive people to keep what they earn, against a new class of politicians and bureaucrats who would seize their earnings to transfer them to nonproducers.) Government must be kept to an absolute minimum; size and multiplicity are dangerous and unfair to the liberty of individuals to live prosperous, self-managed lives. One can imagine the conflict with a government whose discretionary (transfers to nonproducers) budget is more than half of the entire budget. Harari draws his opinion from this philosophy when he says useless people will not be cared for in the future.

-Progressives. The antithesis of libertarianism. Probably the least wordy description is to borrow Jesus’s words when he says,

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” [Matthew 25:40]

In other words, equal value among everyone – regardless whether they are producers, nonproducers, wealthy, poor, healthy, sick, etc. An interesting reference, Native Americans were progressives in the sense that everyone was cared for. Of course, survival was more of an issue than it is today unless one is truly indigent.

-Conservatives. Share economic and capitalistic views of libertarians but more important is social order. Change is anathema. A good example is the persistence of racism; it is difficult for conservatives to change social order. The same is true of whatever subtribe is important, e.g., having a job is a universal discriminator, what neighborhood they live in, how the church service is run. In mariner’s town, well-kept lawns are an important demonstration of community unity and, if conservatives have anything to do with it, will be sustained into the future.

-Climate Change. This isn’t really a battle between advocates and deniers; it’s a battle between the massive, global investment in fossil fuel and those who want to shut down fossil fuel. It’s all about dollars and profit versus a slow, inevitable impact on the state of all economic and political circumstances. A characteristic of capitalism is greed – take the profit up front, push the overhead into the future.

Mariner can name several more tribal conflicts but already he is on his third page. No doubt readers understand that when tribal values dominate the overall political condition, fragmentation is bound to happen. The Russians understand this even if the US doesn’t. Remember Rodney King? He was right.

Ancient Mariner.


Conflict in Purpose

Mariner never has been able to fully reconcile the split between church and state in the United States. One can make convincing arguments for the authority of either over the other as a foundation for American culture. Each, in its own way, espouses equality; each endorses spiritual reward for compliance with its doctrine – one the New Testament, the other the Constitution.

The United States was begun in the midst of serious conflict between the Anglican (state) Church and several spiritualist sects that saw the role of faith in a different light. In many instances these sects migrated to North America. Their intent was to have the freedom to practice their religion without Anglican constraints. Freedom for any religion was not the intent – only that sect’s interpretation was acceptable; dissenters were burned at the stake, had noses split, were cast out from the community and suffered other harsh punishments during the early decades of settlement. For about half of the colonies, religion was the only law; governments had not formed independently until later.

The ‘state’ side followed early settlers to the US for economic and political reasons. 150 years after the first settlers arrived, a war broke out between Great Britain and France over who would colonize North America (Seven Years War AKA French and Indian War).

Mariner digresses. If the reader seeks more detail about how church and state began in North America, visit a preferred library or search engine.

The specific enigma about which mariner has difficulty is cultural morality. How can a singular national ethos and inclusive human rights be governed by two masters?

Mariner has personal interest in the conflict over abortion because Roe v. Wade didn’t exist in the 1940’s. No doctor would breach Christian decorum to perform an abortion; abortion was performed on the dark side – if one could find it. Mariner’s mother died at age 26 because she had to carry and give birth to a child doctors said she should not have.

To start, let’s read about Deborah Copaken’s life experience:


A quote from Deborah Copaken – an advocate to keep Roe v. Wade in place.

The day when you find yourself six weeks pregnant at the age of 17, as I did, is not a joyous day, particularly after doing all the right things, birth-control-wise, including getting yourself fitted for a diaphragm at Planned Parenthood. For one, you can’t have a baby. You’re still a baby yourself. You would (you know, even then) cause permanent emotional damage to a child, in not wanting to have one, never mind that you have neither the skills nor the means to raise one properly. For another, you’ve just been admitted to college, and though you love your high-school boyfriend dearly, you have no idea who you are or what you want out of love or life. Plus, raising a baby in a freshman dorm was never part of your plan. Nor your college’s. And adoption—for you, personally—is out of the question. The pain of handing over your child to another person would, you know, become a lifetime of “Little Green” sorrow.[1]

Your parents drive you to the abortion clinic in Maryland. No one in that car is happy, but everyone is nevertheless grateful for one another’s love and for your right to legally choose this option. The clinic makes you answer a bunch of invasive questions to prove you know what you’re about to do, as if you hadn’t been thinking only about this moment for the past week. You’re awake for the entire procedure, which is painful. You cry a bucket of tears into your saltines in the crowded recovery room after, because it hurts and because you’re still 17, the age of emotional roller coasters under the best of circumstances, which this is not. But not one of those tears can be traced back to shame or to regret over the decision to abort the minuscule embryo of cells inside you. In fact, it was not a “difficult decision.” It was easy: the only rational one, to your mind, to make.

– – – –

Deborah made a decision based on her situation. At that moment, a Federal law, Roe v. Wade, ergo a ‘state’ law rather than a religious one, allowed her to choose an abortion. Some would say Roe v. Wade is an affront to religious freedom.

The question always evaded is, doesn’t freedom of religion mean any religion can practice its unique doctrine and ritual but cannot restrict those who have another religion from practicing their doctrine and ritual? Following the Constitution in principle, the answer is yes. What confuses the dialogue is the total dominance of Christian-based religions versus nationally dominant state law; if other world religions had prominence in the US along with Christianity, ‘freedom’ would be better defined. There are dozens of Christian religions from the snake believers in Appalachia to the Mormons in Utah to… on and on. One of the major variations is the Evangelical Christian; there are enough members – particularly in conservative states – to influence legislators. Opportunistic legislators, which abound today, forego state law (Constitution) to placate those who would restrict not only state rights but other religions as well – thereby violating the Constitution. Unfortunately, legislators aren’t selected for their wisdom and ethic.

There is an unhappy truce for the moment because the Supreme Court is bound by the Constitution. Here is a challenge: would it be legal under the freedom of religion clause for some Islamic sects to eviscerate the clitoris of pubescent girls if this were practiced in the United States? Here is a similar challenge: Does the owner of a slave have the right to inflict torture, starvation, rape or religious practices on that slave? How about circumcision? This is relevant today; thousands, including family members, are held in slave relationships not to mention contemporary slave trading almost entirely with helpless women.

As we ponder these challenges, the core human issue is whether someone can impose bodily modification on another person. Is Deborah a slave? Is Deborah an Evangelical Christian? Is Deborah Islamic? Is Deborah a US citizen? It seems the value is one derived from social morality rather than religious doctrine. National statistics suggest social morality says no one can impose physical conditions on another person.

If one is abiding by one’s Christian doctrine, a case may be made that having an abortion is unchristian; if one is not Christian or is of a variety of Christianity where abortion is not an issue, having an abortion is subject to situational ethics which, typically, reflect cultural expectations.

Brett Kavanaugh, a well-known conservative and Roman Catholic is nominated to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. In an interview today he said, “A woman has a right to have an abortion but the Government doesn’t have the right to pay for it.” This is an excellent example of why mariner is so confused. With us since ancient times, the Byzantine two-headed eagle[2] is still around.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Song by Joni Mitchell; see lyrics at

[2] The Emperor of Byzantium wore a crown topped by a two-headed eagle. One head represented his supreme authority over the politics and power of the empire; the second eagle head represented his authority over the Gods, of which he was one himself.

About that last post

Please view a very short animated video –


In the last post mariner mentioned that many issues would be too large for nations to manage well given their current economic structures. As Harari suggested, massive numbers of people will be jobless by current definitions of ‘job.’ Many of today’s nations, especially smaller authoritarian nations, will experience a virtual disappearance of national economy similar to today’s situation in Venezuela where even today a crooked, profit-driven authoritarian government cannot hold an economy together.

The future phenomenon will roll out slowly; there will be time for nations to take several steps in preparation for the economic collapse of the Job Religion. If the reader watched the animated video, it will be clear that, like climate change, slowly a clearly unbalanced economy and its negative impact on the world’s population already is beginning to emerge; especially given the ill-fitting capitalist, oligarchical economy in place in the US at this time.

The current emigration reflects the same issue as millions and millions of humans are displaced by oligarchies, religious and political wars and shifts in the climate on several continents.

Needless to say, there is feedback: Mariner is a socialist; mariner is a communist; mariner is a lazy person who does not want to work. Without gathering numbers, mariner suspects virtually all these criticisms come from members of the Donald Party – rich and poor, entrepreneur and laborer. Mariner’s wife will confirm that mariner is not happy with any –ism. Nor is he happy with the American electorate in general – including all the identity groups across the rainbow.

For the record,

Capitalism works best to fill economic vacuum – like the early US or now, artificial intelligence.

Socialism works best to homogenize and pasteurize a disruptive and unstable culture.

Communism works best to standardize diverse cultures and contentious economies.

Humanism is the best generic umbrella for any –ism.

Somehow, somewhere, Christ’s second commandment, the 6 – 9th commandments in Islam, or achieving dharma in Hindu, will become central principles for governing the populations of the world. Albert would call it reverence for life.

Ancient Mariner