Saturday, April 5, 2014

Eso’s Chronicles 322 / 9
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
© Eso A.B.
All comments appearing within brackets [ ] are editorial in origin.


The origin of capitalism is not to be sought in the production of a ‘surplus’, but is an exception, re, an exceptional activity created out of a desire to survive a situation, which without resorting to some desperate deed could resulted in the individual’s or group’s death.

I place the emphasis on the word ‘exceptional’ as opposed to instinctual or archetypal as some of today’s capitalists wish to project their institution. In an ‘exceptional’ situation anyone of us may perform an act that may be entirely ‘accidental’ and will never be performed again under ‘normal’ circumstances (such as Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear ). On the other hand, if the exceptional circumstance leads to an act that lends itself to easy repetition, the exceptional may be manipulated into being thought of as normal.

Since resorting to robbery in order to survive is like birds pecking seeds from under the beaks of their cousins, this makes for an easy analogy to robbing our dinner from under the noses of the people living along the river bank of the Dniepr, Volga, Donau, Oder, or Rhine. However, since we cannot avoid noting that this robbery is not accomplished as a result of pecking seeds faster than our cousin, but is done with aid of weapons and violence, and the robbed tend to resist being victimized, by resorting to killing the robbers if any are captured, the robbers thought of a tactic, whereby they could rob without suffering casualties. Thereby hangs the tory of how capitalism was invented.

The tactic of the marauders was simple enough—torture. Since we all can script a torture, my example is based on imagination not fact. Thus, if you are the smartass kid who dared call me  “a rowing thief”—I made sure that I captured you. When myself and my mates had robbed your village ‘blind’ and terrorized it into submission, we simply gathered the survivors around a small bonfire which we built next to the banks of the Volga. Then we pulled you by your hair to next to the fire, where we then put your feet in stocks, put the stocks at the edge of the bonfire, and threw some extra faggots on the flames.

You screamed bloody murder and men and women of your village fell on their knees and pleaded for us to stop: “Dear, dear, rowers,” they pleaded, “in the name of God, let the kid go. He is but young and stupid. He meant you no real harm. We will give you whatever you ask of us. Just let him go, please, please!”

We then replied: “Listen, you smelly cattle rustlers!” (Rusky, by the way, may echo in the word ‘rustler’. as the Russian linguist I.N. Danilevskiy argues the name may have originally referred to a social class. Perhaps the class was that of wood dwellers whose autarchic economy was based on reindeer herding) “We are kind hearted men,” we said, “and we will stop if you promise us that come next year around this time, when we come again, you will deliver to us fifty well dressed pelts of your reindeer.” We the Ruotsi (the rowers) knew that if we managed to collect our boat full of such pelts, we could gather for ourselves a few pieces of gold once we got to the city of Jerusalem in Byzantium.

The villagers of course promised that they would do as we asked. Even so, to make sure that they knew that we meant business, we left your feet bake until all could smell how well roasted they were. After, we kicked your unconscious body in the river. This became our signature act wherever we rowed.

Of course, the next year, we did not come to collect the pelts for ourselves, but had the local king of the Ruskies do the collecting for us. He, not wishing to become hated by his people, had the Jews of Khazaria  collect it for him.

In the end, the Ruskies did not know whether they were coming or going, and what was really happening. The wood and its trees had always protected them. Now that this protection was gone, some of them even believed that we had come to deliver to them ‘the end of days’. In a way they were right. In later days, after our descendants, the Franks, had stolen from the Ruskies (who were also partly Avenks ) their compassionate religion, they attributed the forerunners of their religion to have been the Jews and their Bible, and deemed their Kings or Basils, all named John, worth a mention only in passing. No wonder, they are a screwed up people to this day.

Though the economy of wood dwellers is autarchic by its nature and the natives worship nature for its ‘free’ gifts, we the ‘robbing rowers’ made enough of a ‘surplus’ from the fur tax to hide the bloodshed behind it by renaming the event as ‘trade’ and ‘business’, which is why marauding became known as ‘productivity’.

PS I have always appreciated William Butler Yeats poem, “The Song of Wandering Angus” (1899),  originally published in the Irish poetry magazine “Wind in the Reeds”. It is the only poem I can recite by heart.

Just the other day, as I took a walk about some of the long abandoned farms and their ruins in my near neighborhood, I came upon a site surrounded by a hazel wood. I also came upon an almost unbelievable wonder: an apple tree, which, in my amazement, I judged to be a thousand years old (probably 500 year to be on the safe side). Its trunk a meter above the ground measures 76 cm in diameter, the length of my arm from fingertips to top of shoulder). The site, in spite of its natural beauty, has been abandoned for many many years. The stone walls of a building and the foundations of two others are all that remains of the life of the people who once lived here. I pressed my head against the tree and wept, and recited (with apologies to Yeats):

I went out to a hazel wood,
Because a fire of despair was in my head,
And cut and peeled a dowsing stick,
And closed my eyes and let it lead;
And when I had stepped on the mound of a mole,
And the fork in my hands told me ‘stop’,
I opened my eyes to the light
And found my forehead abut a broken branch.

When my eyes took in all that was about,
My despair sprouted into tears
As something from a long time ago told me
Even as someone called me by my name:
The broken tree, I saw, was an ancient apple tree
With broken branches yet hanging by the skin
Waiting for another May.
I reached the camera and clicked the air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through foreign lands and honking streets,
I promise, I will do what I can:
Kiss her bark and pet her branches;
And think of all the love that took place here,
And linger with her till thought and time are done,
And, come May, pluck with the wind her falling petals,
From a thousand years in the Sun,
From a thousand years in my hair.

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