Thursday, May 24, 2007

To ODE Magazine: Now, we're getting somewhere....

Yes, dear readers, it’s that time of the month again. I got my issue of ODE, and while it’s far from perfect, there are definite signs of improvement, as I’ll detail below. If I seem a little obsessed with ODE, I think it’s because I perceive its participants as people who “get it,” but maybe just don’t know what to call it. I could be wrong, of course - these are forward thinking people who may have encountered Goddess spirituality and found it not for them. The more likely circumstance, though, is that they’ve never seriously looked at the Goddess, and how different Her path is than the more common ones.

Groups that are progressive and enlightened tend to gravitate toward Eastern paths because that seems to be an alternative to more traditional Judeo-Christian systems. I call people like that “Buddhist by default.” I mean that in the most positive and respectful way possible. Most of them will tell you that they’ve sort of created their own form of spirituality, and they just use the Buddhist symbolism because that is the language they’ve learned to describe spiritual practices. It’s different than the norm, but not so far out there that most people will think you’re weird or flakey. It seems a safe compromise.

Some people, naturally, are meant to be Buddhists and would be no matter what other system they encountered. I’m not talking about them - may they find peace in their own way. I’m talking about the people who settle on Buddhism because it seems the only real alternative, but don’t find it to be an exact fit. Those people, in many cases, are Goddess people or some form of Pagan, but they’ve never found the language to describe their own intuitive spirituality. If they’ve encountered Wicce or any other form of Pagan worship, they probably have had a negative experience. As with every religion, we have our share of kooks and flakes, and they tend to draw the most attention. I’ve met plenty that would turn me off for good if I didn’t know they aren’t the whole story.

More often, though, even more accepting people will dismiss anything that involves Witches or Goddesses because that’s what they’ve been trained to do. The default position in Western culture is patriarchal, and even Buddhism fits that pattern - the denial of physical pleasure in search of a spiritual clarity, asceticism, the idea that we have to DO something to be “good” or “balanced” or whatever. Duality, guilt hierarchy. Fear of women runs deep in the West and even the most enlightened men and women will have a knee-jerk reaction that says deity can’t be female. If there’s a way to get them past that reaction to a calm place, and they discover what the ways of the Goddess really are, they are usually surprised to find that the spirituality they thought they had invented for themselves actually has a name and a face - or 10,000 of each.

The Goddess is a bountiful Universe, and She loves Her children unconditionally. She has the power to create, to sustain and to destroy. She is a living entity, and we are integral and connected parts of Her body. We are never alone. Everything is connected. We don’t need an intermediary between us because there’s no “between” there. What the ancients called magick we now call Quantum Mechanics. Quantum Entanglement over time and space, and the ability to interact with matter by will is magick. Einstein found it spooky. We find it logical, but not in the linear way so loved by the masculist mind. All times and states coexist, and everything ultimately is an arrangement of atoms vibrating in a field of energy. The energy and the atoms are Goddess, and so are we. Our consciousness is part of one larger conscious mind that differentiated itself for a while and will ultimately return to the source.

I believe it is absolutely essential for people to begin to see everything as biological systems. An economy is a form of energy just like a tide, and ebbs and flows in the same way. Our culture expects linear continual growth in our economy, but biologically that only occurs in cancer. To be healthy, we have to look beyond a bottom line. We need sustainability, meaning, and connection in our lives or we’re just rats running on a wheel, going nowhere, creating nothing. So let’s look at the issue:


To the Editors of ODE-

Last month I wrote to you in hope and frustration because I felt that so many of your articles expressed a theme of “knowing” that something was happening but the authors were grasping for language to describe it. I suggested that the word they were reaching for was “Goddess.” I have no desire to convert anyone who is not meant for Her path. I do want people to know that a language exists that explains their observations and intuitions, and to make that language available for those who would use it. Having read this month’s issue (June 2007) I must say that I think we’re making progress. I saw many signs of hope in your pages.

The word “goddess” appears several times in Tijn Touber’s “Curse of the Alphabet” (pg 18) which is based on Leonard Shlain’s book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image. That’s pretty much standard reading in contemporary Goddess circles, whether we agree with the premise or not. The tag line for the article, “How YouTube will make the world more feminine and peaceful” might be a little glib, but it makes a point - we will have to use more than the printed word to create new images of a peaceful society, because most of us have been raised with the idea that peace is not possible for humans. Let’s hope the aspiring film makers on YouTube find ways to undo the indoctrination of 6000 years spent worshipping violence. We aren’t trying to create a society unlike any that came before. We’re just trying to get back to the harmony we once lived in. Peace is our natural state.

Still no Goddess with a capital ‘G’ and he does conclude the article with a quotation about “a balanced society, one with room for both halves of the brain-- and for men and women,” but I’ll take that. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some day, I hope that people will be able to mention a Goddess without a god, not because gods don’t count, but because Goddess is all-inclusive. There is one gender with many variations and the one gender is female. We all begin that way. 54% of us stay that way, and about 43% become male, with the other less frequent variations falling somewhere along the single continuum. One gender and many genders. All states co-exist. Think Schroedinger’s Cat. No opposition. No conflict. There is no “there” there.

Yes, it is convenient to divide the world into neat little dichotomies and binaries, but that has created isolation, opposition, stagnation, conflict. Nature is not neat or “50-50.” Even the Eastern philosophies seek “oneness” not “two-ness.” What would the world be like if everyone could hold the ideas of one and of many in their minds at once without conflict? That’s abstract thinking, and it’s the one thing that can serve as an antidote to the trap of black/white, good/evil thinking that holds the world in a constant state of struggle.

Back to the issue... “Our Hearts are Full of Memory” (pg 20) talks about the memory of the body. There are wonderful examples of transplant patients taking on the characteristics of their donors, which shows that there’s more to “us” than our brains, and that our bodies do count. I love that. “Nature’s Violence is Not Always Senseless“ gives Gaia credit for knowing what She needs to heal herself, however inconvenient that might be to one species with an overwhelming sense of entitlement and a serious disconnection from Nature. ”What Makes a Miracle?“ introduces us to Brazil’s visionary, future-saint, or in my terminology ‘Goddess’, Nha Chica. This is a public statement by writer Paul Coelho, who tells of his personal interaction with Her, because in a really wonderful way, She asked him to.

Three Cheers for Grazy Ideas“ (or ”Crazy“?) made me laugh because the line ”This world really does need more of these wonderful heretics“ seems so dead on when I’m trying to get people to see things in a different way, at least for a minute or two. ”Love Thy Neighbor for He is Me“ is nice though I would phrase it thus: ”I am He and He is Me and we are Goddess.“ Anything I do to another I have ultimately done to myself. On page 35 we have a wonderful picture of little African boys sitting with their feet in a circle with a caption ”Circle of Life.“ I know it’s from the Lion King, but we all know what the ”circle of life“ really is, right?

Then- BE STILL my heart! -we have an except from Paul Coelho’s ”The witch [sic] of Portobello!“ (pg. 36) and the story is about a real sort of Witch (capital W) which makes me really happy, even though it’s fiction. ”The Forgotten Thinker You Need to Know“ (pg. 41) made me sad because Ivan Illich was most definitely possessed of Goddess consciousness, though I’m sure he never knew that.

The photos of mostly indigenous groups in ”You’ve got a Friend“ cheered me right up again. Batches of Goddess’ own people (whether they remember than or not) assembled for a project called ”Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship” Get it? M.I.L.K.! I couldn’t make this up if I tried!

One small exception is that in “Remembering the Battle of Seattle” (pg. 58) as Paul Hawken recalls the first WTO protest which turned to mayhem because of fascists in police gear, he says “No charismatic leader led the marchers. No famous religious figure blessed the protesters.” Sorry to be a stickler, but I’m quite sure Starhawk, one of the most famous Goddess Priestesses in the world, along with many of her Reclaiming activists , was there. She’s on the front lines of most anti-globalization protests and took a group down to the Gulf Coast to help during Hurricane Katrina. It’s not that Goddess people aren’t around - it’s that the media usually ignores us, or occasionally makes fun of us.

Selfishness is in the Public Interest” might have been a misstep, though. Contrary to what the very contrary Richard Dawkins says, people are not naturally selfish. We have been successful as a species because our first natural instinct is to help each other, and we are willing to make sacrifices for the good of our social group. It didn’t surprise me that the article spoke to Kevin Kelly of WIRED magazine - they are thoroughly entrenched in the patriarchal (and unworkable) idea of universe-as-computer. I get good information from that magazine, but very little inspiration and it’s one of the few I read as thoroughly as ODE.

Healthy food is the recipe for peace” states the obvious but it needs to be stated. Good food creates well-adjusted people. People who eat poorly are more violent or hyperactive. So why do we feed kids and prisoners crap when it costs less to feed them the good stuff? You’d almost think someone wants to lock up all the poor people and drug our kids...

Anyway, sorry to send another long letter, but I wanted to point out that the Goddess was all over this issue and I hope that’s a trend that continues and grows. Keep up the good work!


Peace,

Morgaine Swann

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

To ODE Magazine: Move beyond the Binary!

So much to say! This is a post, a letter, an appeal, and an attempt to sort through my own feelings. I’m reeling from tragedies on every level, from the horror at Va. Tech to wondering if the malignancy on my father’s scalp has metastasized. He has surgery Wednesday, and it will be a while before we know where we stand. My mom isn’t doing well and I am overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done.

The tragedy in Virginia could have been prevented if VA refused to sell guns to anyone who, voluntarily or not, had been hospitalized for suicidal ideations. That shouldn’t even be considered gun control. It’s just common sense. The videos shown by NBC et al did give us some important information. It indicated, as did some of his other writings, that Cho might have been molested and/or struggling with issues of homosexuality. They reminded me of the stuff that Valerie Solanas wrote before she shot Andy Warhol - just streams of sexually charged obscenities that didn’t really say anything. It also showed that the guy who says nothing is the one with the most to say. I keep hearing Eddie Vedder in my head singing “Cho Seung Hui spoke in class today.” What a black irony that it scans the same as “Jeremy.”

Goddess bless the victims and their families, and help them find comfort for their grief.

The following is my venting that resulted in reading this month’s ODE magazine. It’s an amazing magazine and I really recommend that people who are committed to creating a better world subscribe, or at least check the website frequently. This was one of those issues where nearly every article wound me up because they’re so wonderfully close, but just don’t get it yet.


Some relevant articles in the May 2007 issue of ODE Magazine:
Pg 4 Marco Visscher states the modern need for the abolition movement because of continuing slavery around the world.
Pg 5 Max Christern relates former soccer star MIchel Platini’s desire to set soccer fans free by taking away the barriers. He believes that people will behave like adults if they are treated that way; put barriers in front of them and they will naturally rebel against them.
Pg 7 the Letters page with responses to a previous “god or not” article by Neal Donald Walsch called “Is God [sic] a Delusion?” re:Richard Dawkins most recent screed against “religion.”
Pg 10 Diana Reynolds Roome writes about the new education of exiled Tibetan nuns in “Sisterhood is Powerful.”
Pg 12 “Surprise Down by the Sea” biologist Mike Barandiaran “[the brown pelicans] were getting bombed left and right all around, but somehow they managed. Nature is persevering.” (She is, indeed!)
The Secret Economy” cites information that 44% of people’s time in Western nations spent doing unpaid domestic work while they are volunteering 1 hour for every 14 of paid work, creating value that can’t be measured in dollars.
Pg 14 “The Good Don’t Die Young“ “benevolent, altruistic people live longer, stay healthier and experience less stress” because doing good works creates the release of endorphins.

...and more, which I’ll talk about below.

****************************************************

Dear ODE:

There is no word for the odd mixture of joy, optimism and frustration I experience when I read ODE Magazine. People are SO CLOSE to catching on, and there are so many people of all stripes - actors, doctors, scientists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, mostly male - hitting all around the problems we face, but they don’t have the vocabulary to really get to the heart of the matter.

Take a deep breath, open your mind, screw up your courage and say the word: Goddess

That is the single, underlying theme that your contributors this month danced all around but couldn’t find a word to describe.

Most people will have a knee-jerk reaction at the use of that particular word. Are you picturing kooks in black Egyptian make-up? Hippies? Angry feminists? (I’m all of those, but read on, anyway.) The monotheists will hear blasphemy; the rationalists, superstition. I’m asking for neither faith in what I say nor belief in that which cannot be proven. Instead, I’m asking you to try a new frame for your own observations that can bring disparate and seemingly contradictory concepts into a unified whole. Moreover, it is a real and tangible whole that speaks to the deepest part of our psyches as well as our DNA, and that concept is Mother.

I know you’re a more enlightened group than most, but no one is perfect so try this: Set aside all your conditioning that says women are weak, emotional, secondary. Forget about popular concepts of balance, yin and yang, polarity, 50/50, either/or, black and white, good vs. evil. Reducing our reality to two opposing forces creates opposition, conflict and stagnation. It is divisive and damaging. It creates the idea that if I am to be “right” then you must be “wrong”; That might, wealth or divine decree create an entitlement for some to rule over many and for those rulers to hoard wealth and influence while enslaving, raping, plundering resources and committing genocide, all with the blessings of their “heavenly father.” “Somebody has to be in charge,” they say, and they claim to be the Chosen who have dominion over everyone else (the infidel) and the Earth as well. These are patriarchal concepts that have nothing to do with Nature, who always prefers Her own gender. Humans are 54% female. Using the reductive reasoning so common in Western thinking, we should refer to ourselves as womankind, since women comprise the majority of the race and since every one of us began as female in the womb. Why don’t we? I’ll come back to that later.

Both “rationalists” and religionists see the Earth as a thing that can be conquered, manipulated or controlled. Some picture an old man with a white beard deciding to make himself a world, fashioning a man from mud and a women from his rib. Others think “god” is a delusion and that we walk on dead rocks among senseless plants and dumb animals, while only we are blessed with the ability to reason. Many experience the world but are not of the world. This is not only incorrect, it is not logical. Logically, we cannot exist apart from Nature because we are a part of Nature. There is nothing rational in believing that humans stand apart from the rest of existence.

Our ideation of existing separately is a combination of hubris and ignorance that causes us to tune out our own experiences with the living and sentient life forms around us. In "Native Intelligence", pp. 28 - 32, anthropologist Jeremy Narby, calling himself a “diplomat between systems of knowledge,**” advocates incorporating the knowledge of indigenous people into our world view. The article cites studies that show mold can navigate a maze to find oatmeal; that bees are capable of abstract thought with a brain the size of a pinhead; that plants process information about the world around them the same way the neurons in our brains function; and that there’s a plant called the dodder vine that knows which sources in its surroundings are the most nutritious and a stilt palm in the Amazon that very slowly “walks” about, following the sunlight by extending roots into the light and letting the ones in shade die off, effectively moving it from place to place. In anthropology, the belief that plants and animals have consciousness or intelligence is called “animism.” The Japanese, we are told, call it chi-sei, “the capacity to know.” A shaman might call it magick (with a “k”); a scientist, superstition; I call it Goddess, or the more recognizable Gaia, using the latter when referring specifically to our own planetary ecosystem as a living entity. Call it what you want - it all leads to the same conclusion. Universal connection within one whole entity. When we cut her up into genders, countries, sects and sides we damage Her and our experience is poorer for it.

Narby wants us to know that everything is alive and everything is connected. This is not a new concept to my readers or the Goddess movement at large, but it is radically different from the consensus reality of the West. He and some biologist colleagues even participated in ayahuasca ceremonies which yielded new information in their fields for each of them. He stops just short of realizing that the world is a living (parthenogenetic ergo female) being. Nature is our living Mother who gave birth to us in Her womb, the ocean, through a process called evolution. That process is repeated in the development of a fetus in the womb. She’s alive. She’s conscious. We are interconnected parts of Her living body.

Paul Hawken gets closer in “The Instinct to Save the Planet,” pp. 39-45, wherein he understands that humans have acted like a cancer in the body of Earth and he perceives a growing, multi-faceted “movement” which he cannot name, but which he likens to the Earth’s immune system fighting back through this loose but growing web of between 1 and 2 million grass roots activist organizations. He identifies three roots of the system: “environmental activism, social justice initiatives and indigenous cultures’ resistance to globalization.” He doesn’t address the ties most of these groups have to the feminist movement, let alone acknowledge that Gaia, in true homeopathic form, is healing what Al Gore calls Her “fever” by using “like to cure like” - humans run amok have created Her illness, and something in the undercurrent of humanity is spurring people all over the globe to take healing action in a way that is unprecedented in our history.

This process is being facilitated by the growth of the information matrix described in "The Power of Many", pp. 34 - 38, which talks about the self-organizing tendencies being harnessed by various organizations and web entities. We have a natural drive to share, to help each other, and to make things better. That drive is being expressed in new ways on the web as well as social and political events which are beginning to abandon hierarchical structure and linear formats. The drive for justice, the defense of nature, the abandonment of hierarchy, growth from the bottom up instead of power directed downward are all essential facets of the Goddess Movement, and the awareness and connectedness that Hawken and Narby are crusading for are succinctly described as Goddess Consciousness. Hawken states that there is no ideology that encompasses all facets of the movement he has noticed or “heal all the wounds of this world”; I propose that there is one that he either doesn’t know or hasn’t seriously considered, and it is Goddess.

Have you felt uneasy with the way I punctuate sentences, specifically in terms of capitalization? Does is seem odd to give Earth gender? Does it seem strange to say Goddess and god? Feminists in the 70s addressed the gender inequities in language but they failed to take it into the realm of religion. It’s time to challenge the assumed preference given to “god/Yaweh/Jehovah/Allah” in all of our printed matter. It’s time to recognize that these are in fact one deity and one only, whose scripture declares him to be jealous of others.

Back to my question about Womankind. Why don’t we call ourselves by the logical term? Why is talking about Goddess more uncomfortable than talking about “god?” Why can “god” create a world, but Goddess not BE the Universe and Gaia the planet? What if the Big Bang was actually a primordial orgasm that set life in motion? That discomfort with the Feminine Divine is the political effect of 6,000 years of patriarchy and monotheist brain-washing.

In its quest for power, Western civilization has sacrificed connection - men are divided from women, races from one another, humans are divided from Nature, our minds are divided from our bodies. That brain-washing says that women in power are dirty, evil and dangerous, not to be trusted. The abuse heaped on women like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi has a common origin with the idea that women must be swathed in burkas and the windows of their houses painted black. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are really one religion dedicated to the “god” of Abraham, each frozen at different stages of its development, and the scriptures used by that religion’s many forms have been crafted, reinterpreted, and twisted to keep women out of power and under the control of men, because women equal wealth - children, dowries, unpaid work, sex. It is no accident that the majority of people who live in poverty are women and their children. We are told that this is to be expected. People are naturally greedy, lazy, selfish and violent. War is inevitable. Evil is everywhere. We are told repeatedly that this is a normal condition for humans, and most people have never questioned it because they’ve never known anything else. There is another way, if we are willing to change our minds.

On this we can agree - human beings have been successful as a species because of our innate desire to be helpful to each other, and our ability to make individual sacrifice for the good of the group. There is a societal structure that is inclusive, participatory and just. There is a system that eschews hierarchies and strives for sustainable use of resources and equal distribution of wealth. It is probably the natural order for human beings - familial clans that trace their lineage through the female line, sharing child care and production of food and goods among them all, every member participating in and contributing to the common good of the group. Many matriarchies still exist in many pockets in the world. In the United States, the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee Nation has strong matriarchal roots that helped influence the Suffragist Movement. The Mosuo of China retain their matrilineal structure and have no concept of marriage or dominance. New matriarchies are forming in Africa to give women refuge from violence and exploitation. I hope we’ll soon see communities of single or abandoned mothers and their children forming small woman-centered communities with cooperative child care and related services. What if we re-worked abandoned buildings for poor women’s families? Or if a group of families simply chose to form a web of support for each other?

The shift in consciousness that your contributors yearn for us to make so that the numinous movement arising from grass roots around the world can flourish is a return to Goddess Consciousness. Use it as a symbol or a frame or a poetic expression of a scientific concept if you prefer that to religion, but whatever importance you ascribe to it, you will find that it is an extremely pragmatic view. It just works. The Goddess is not “out there” somewhere. She is you, your neighbor, the food that you eat, the air that you breathe. The “god or not” debate perpetuated by Walsch and Dawkins misses the point entirely. It’s not about what importance we put on some ancient scrolls that may be nothing more than the dreams of some hash-smoking nomads. It doesn’t matter if you call it Nature, Magick or Quantum Mechanics - it’s all the same multifaceted field of energy and matter that vibrates in space inhabited by our consciousness, following the same natural laws and forces whether you can name them or calculate them or even know they exist. You don’t have to believe in gravity to fall down, and you don’t need to believe the planet is literally a girl to reap the benefits that would come from acting as if you did.

I participated in a blog carnival called “God or Not” for a while, and learned a valuable lesson. The objections raised by rationalists against “religion” were only true of monotheist religion; none of them considered a monotheast and/or polytheist system at all before rejecting all religion. The religionists were nice, but not terribly good at making an argument; the rationalists were angry and rude, and only a little better at supporting their positions. Eventually, the project failed because the religionists tired of the obnoxious behavior of the rationalists. The same problem affected both sides: Fundamentalism. Humans go through three basic levels of moral development. First, they are driven by reward and punishment - “mommy will spank me if I do that, give me a cookie if I do this.” Then they move into a phase in which they see the world in concrete terms, and look to external authority, whatever that may be, to define morality for them, whether they behave in a moral way or not. As kids, they follow the rules and expect things to be fair; they learn to obey the law (or not) and do what the Bible says (or not) and they don’t question those systems - they simply parrot them or rebel against them, but they don’t challenge their validity, only their own agreement to follow them or not. That is Fundamentalism, and it doesn’t matter what you believe - just how you express your belief. You can take the Bible literally, get your cues from the Taliban or be a staunch defender of science a la Dawkins, but if you assume that your chosen authority is infallible and you cannot imagine that you might be wrong, you are a fundamentalist.

To admit that you might be wrong is essential to the survival of our world. We are in a situation where most of the world is stuck at the adolescent level that thinks in concrete terms. We can begin to understand abstract concepts in our late teens, but most people never mature to that stage. At the conceptual level, you can consider that your reality is not the only one; that you might be wrong; that some other person/view/culture/religion/political party might be right; that somebody else might know something you don’t; that everyone might be wrong, or we all might be right; or that there is no right or wrong at all. At that stage, you look at available information, and you reach your own conclusions, which may change in time as you continue to learn new things or incorporate new experiences. We are, in a very real sense, having growing pains. Our challenge is to drag the concrete thinkers out of their adolescent black and white world into one of infinite possibilities because you aren't likely to strap a bomb on yourself and go to the market if you realize you might be wrong. That’s an entirely possible process. The irony is that, as Fouad Laroui points out in “The Many Sides of Allah,“ pp. 52 - 59, the majority of fundamentalists are violently defending misconceptions, and really know very little about their own religious doctrine. We need to challenge those misconceptions when they arise, and we do that with dialogue and education.

Goddess can do all of this - She’s good at weaving webs with every kind of connection. She loves learning and wisdom, philosophy and poetry. She holds teaching, nursing, caring for children, the elderly, the sick and the destitute, singing, dancing, art, prayer and sexuality as sacred activities. She’s generous, loves us unconditionally, loves diversity, urges us to care for one another, make the most of what we have, to share, to grow, to prosper and live in harmony as one body. That’s a practical, positive image to work with and it has been with us since the beginning of time.

The state of women in a culture is the state of the culture itself. On the back page of this issue, Greg Mortensen, who educates girls in Taliban country, says “you can drop bombs, hand out condoms, build roads or put in electricity, but until the girls are educated, a society will not change.” A few people make a lot of money by keeping us at war. How will we ever have peace when the people at the negotiating table don’t believe peace is possible? If they’re making money from the war? How will we overcome pollution if people in power profit from it? How would our political discussions, our religious rivalries, our economic goals and environmental awareness change if someone at the table represented the Goddess openly and fearlessly?

If you want a better, more peaceful and humane world, the future is female

Peace,

Morgaine Swann, H.Ps.







**(My word for that is “Witch”)

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Nathan Gardels: Davos Forum Confirms Powershift Away from US

The Huffington Post


This year's theme of a powershift completes a cycle that began in 2000 at the high moment of American triumphalism, before the dot.com bust and 9/11. For the first time in its history, an American president, Bill Clinton, addressed the WEF, descending on Davos, helicopters arroar and loudly echoing across the pristine ski valley, with practically the entire American cabinet in tow. I wrote then that "paradoxically, Clinton's presence codified the triumph of the American challenge the WEF was founded to resist." It was paradoxical because this annual gathering two hours up the mountain from Zurich had first been organized 30 years earlier under the name "European Management Seminar" as a way for Europe's business leaders to come together and figure out how to respond to what French author Jean -Jacques Servan Schreiber had called "the American challenge."

I wrote then, not wrongly but now far less true, that "clearly, globalization is an American-led phenomenon. Those gathered in Davos were in awe of a US economy in the midst of its longest expansion in history with full employment and low inflation thanks in good part to freer trade and advances in information technology.

"Industrial titans from Europe and Asia sat gaping as Microsoft's Bill Gates, AOL's Steve Case and Viacom's Sumner Redstone offered their version of how to make billions in the new economy. Sessions on the other great revolution underway in genetics were also dominated by Americans, from the scientists to the regulators.

"From so high up in the Alps you can see clearly all the way to the future. And the future, if this year's Davos meeting was any indication, will be undeniably American."

In the intervening years, Bush's unilateralism, the war in Iraq, the torture at Abu Ghraib, the warrantless wiretaps, the revelation of racism and inequality after Katrina and the aggressive religious right have all tarnished America's luster.


Bush wanted America to rule the world, but was too unaware of international relations to know that we already did. Then he went in a screwed it up to the point that it will take generations for America to recover, if we ever do.

Way to go, George.

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