I just saw a movie called “The Turin Horse”, by famous European director Bela Tarr, and it was fricking DEPRESSING. It actually took as long as real life does, if you cut out the sleeping part. Basically this gimpy old guy, who looks 70 but we learn is actually in his 50’s, owns the horse that famed philosopher Nietzsche flung his arms around to protect from a whipping, whereupon the big N went home and promptly took leave of his senses, cared for until the end of his brief life by his mother and sister. Well, we step in right after that episode, and take an extended, bumpy ride home in a horrible cart with the gimp dude, which I think took waaaay too long. Then we put the horse away, which involves a lot of barn doors opening and closing, hay being thrown, harnesses being hung, carts being rolled into barns, in great detail. When they finally get into the hut, or whatever, the guy is basically undressed by his daughter and stuffed into his grubby nighties. Dinner is two boiled potatoes, which are thrown unceremoniously onto wooden plates; the diners rip off the peels with their fingers, and chow down sans tableware. Yum! Then there is an exciting moment in this dreary parade when the daughter goes to pull up a couple buckets of water out of the well. Wow, that part was a thrill, really broke up the monotony! Then, a couple people come, couple people go, the wind blows, guy and the daughter stare out the window a lot, and pretty much, that’s the whole movie.
But this, my friends, as Rush might say, is where we came from. If you are white in America, you came from basically that place – whether it was a croft in starving Ireland, a barn loft above the pigs in Poland, a camp full of redheaded barbarians in Scotland, or a bunch of shivering Vikings waiting for Fenris to devour the world during those long, dark Northern latitude nights.
But it explains quite a bit!
It is funny, but a certain percentage of white people love to point out brown people as “takers”, when white people are BY FAR the biggest entitlement-minded goobers out there. But look where they came from! No amount of “hard work” and “bootstrapping” was going to make one iota of difference in these peoples’ lives. They had to labor like slaves to even survive, even though “working” in olden-days Europe involved long periods of just sitting around conserving energy. And if you were a sneaky olden-days European who had no conscience or community feeling worth mentioning, well, I suppose you could survive pretty handily on other people’s boiled potatoes. They’d starve, of course. But that’s okay! Because you personally would live to see another day!
I see a direct line of descent from those boiled-potato stealers to modern day Wall Street bankers and guys like Ken Lay, the erstwhile Enron SOB-in-chief. Same deal! They were born and bred for a dog-eat-dog world!
Now let’s consider Asia, but leave out all the Communist takeover paranoid fantasies and just focus on the people. If you were a way-back Southeast Asian farmer, you probably grew a lot of rice. Rice is complicated to grow. First you have to engineer the fields to be perfectly level and capable of retaining water. Then you have to figure out when to sprout, when to transplant, when to flood, when to drain,and when to harvest: the irrigation schedule is strict and water must be routed to the fields that need it by a series of gates. Then you have to multi-task the fields by adding and subtracting fish and ducks, for example. Then you have to do this three times a year, on average, because rice is a year-round crop, and you had to figure out a way to keep the fields fertile despite constant rotation.
This is complex, and requires a lot of cooperation. European farmers basically waited for spring, flung out some handfuls of barley or rye, and then waited around, harvesting what they could and hoping like hell it would carry them through to the next season. So I suppose it would pay to be a thief, at least some of the time. The penalty for being a thief was severe, however, so maybe it wasn’t worth the risk. Seems like quite a few of us white European borderer types often retain a lot of that bloodthirsty punishment mindset that defines many listeners of Fox Fake News (see Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting with Jesus). And if you are a Wall Street banker, you probably aren’t scared at all of the penalty for screwing thousands upon thousands of people, because virtually nothing will happen to you! You are, in the words of Elizabeth Warren, “too big to prosecute”! Huge change from medieval days, when the scruffy, starving populace would have run you down with pitchforks and torches. (Of course, if you could BS your way out of the situation, you would. Hence today’s car salesmen.)
But I digress. Let’s go back to the movies. Ever seen one of those classical Chinese historical films, like “Red Cliff”? Or even “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”? Those movies are layered. Complex. Many levels. Often, things in these films are not what they appear to be, and it is easy to be misled, or make assumptions that turn out to be false. Definitely more challenging than, say, “Die Hard”.
But that’s America for you. Our ancestors did a lot of hanging around hoping things were going to turn out okay, while their Asian counterparts were beavering away both physically and mentally all year ’round, every year. Perhaps this is why many Asians are (sometimes inaccurately) perceived to be smarter, and/or harder workers, than white Americans. Because a lot of them are! And always have been! And don’t get me started on the native Incas and Mayans of South and Central America. Same deal: a sophisticated history with much amazing capability built into the culture. Those folks were organizing vast public works projects when Europeans were still crawling around the cave floor with the bear cubs.
And one more thing. Let’s say you are a poverty-stricken barely-surviving pasty-white farmer on some rock-strewn stretch of Irish coast, huddled in your craphole. Well, lots of people DID succeed under those circumstances, because if they hadn’t, Ireland would be an island empty of people. So why did some of these Irish (and Italians and Czechs and Germans and Finns and Swedes and Bohemians and Scots etc. etc.) show up in America?
Simple. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD. A “neurobehavioral disorder characterized by significant problems either of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsiveness.” The US is chock-full of good citizens with this problem. That’s why they bugged out of Europe: they couldn’t focus on the family farm well enough to make a go of it, and made an (impulsive!) decision to blow that Continental Popsicle stand and show up on these pristine shores. And so now, with the majority of white people descended from a bunch of focus-challenged ex-farmers, is it any wonder we have arrived at our present-day consumer-and-entertainment culture? Lots and lots of simplistic, TV-watching, ass-sitting, incurious, judgmental, selfish, own-back-patting simpletons with attention problems, with a tendency to attribute success or failure, not to work, not to luck, not to being in the right place at the right time – but to a ubiquitous sky fairy who supposedly has your best interests at heart, though you couldn’t tell that through personal experience. Incidentally, most of these ex-farmers are perfectly awful drivers! They roll along on Prozac without seeing a single bloody thing else on the road, or zip around cursing and flipping people off in some hyperactive seizure until they hit a tree. Clearly, it is too much to expect members of this population to get it together for a massive effort to combat global climate change when most of them cannot figure out the basic dynamic of a four-way stop.
Ah, America. You are indeed a place experiencing interesting times.