Some First Things stuff

29 07 2010

First, a political post I can finally get fully behind:

I too have a fervor—a fever, in fact—for political inactivity. I want to be part of a movement that makes electoral politics so boring that rather than having term limits, we’ll need laws requiring politicians to serve their full term. I want to join a party that make politics and government work so dull that political journalists and elected officials dream of leaving their fields for the exciting worlds of actuarial science and telemarketing.

I want to thrown in my lot with others who want to throw a wet blanket over politics and whose desire is to dampen the enthusiasm for all forms of political activity. I want to consort with citizens who are willing to arrest the ardor, dash the devotion, sap the spirit, and zap the zeal from anything that remotely resembles political enthusiasm. I want to create a new party, dedicated to the mastery of the art of anti-propaganda and committed to the conscientious devotion of alert inactivity.

I consider myself to be profoundly a-political, yet with sensibility of a European-style social democrat. As an ex-Trotskyist, I am well aware of the tendency of my fellow ex-Trotskyists (Burnham, Irving Kristol, etc.), to become right-wing hacks after leaving the movement. I have sought to avoid being an apologist for the capitalist leviathan without being under any illusions that the international working class shall be the human race. I still sing the Internationale to myself sometimes. I think it’s pretty catchy, especially if you can sing it in three languages.

I suppose now I am a Platonic republican.

Also, I found this post that I put in my “gangsters need God too” file regarding the Calabrian mafia:

According to a report in Britain’s Telegraph, Bishop Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini of the Calabrian Diocese of Locri-Gerace has written an open letter to the bosses of the ’Ndrangheta—the Calabrian Mafia—“imploring them to stop using holy shrines for their initiation ceremonies.” The bishop, says the Telegraph, decided to speak out “after more than 300 alleged mobsters—including the 80-year-old ‘Godfather’ Domenico Oppedisano—were arrested in a police blitz earlier this month.” The Telegraph article is accompanied by a screen capture from an Italian police surveillance film showing Oppedisano “being ‘sworn in’ under a statue of the Virgin Mary at Polsi near Reggio Calabria.”

I think one difference between Italy and Latin America is that Italy was more “clericalized” in its Catholicism than Latin America. On the one hand, the clergy had more supervision over what the people did, so the symbols that people employ even in expressing their “folk Catholicism” are the same as those of “clerical Catholicism”. On the other hand, people will employ those symbols in the exact same way that the Latin American, “un-clerical” Catholic does. In this case, while mobsters in Mexico will pray to Jesus Malverde or Santa Muerte for success in their criminal endeavors, the Italian mobster will use an image of the Virgin Mary for the same purpose. Also, even such figures as St. Jude or St. Dismas will also be used for these less than Christian purposes. So the whole idea of a “folk saint” may itself be a construction, for even “approved” saints will be used for unapproved intentions.





Nothing like a narcocorrido to start your week…

25 07 2010

We’ve been catching up on episodes of the AMC series, Breaking Bad on Netflix. In a rather macabre but original way to open an episode of the second season, a narcocorrido of the trajectory of the show is shown. Jesus Malverde, the Mexican folk saint, makes a cameo appearance.





La nueva narco-religión

23 03 2009

In Culiacan, Sinaloa/ they land with much urgency/ A special operation with maximum power / in the compound of the DEA/ at the in the center of intelligence

They brought in a lieutenant and performed surgery on him/ He ended up looking just like Malverde / anyone would be fooled / Presidential secrets / That’s how the CIA works

A very astute man / he was the best police / and he visited the narcotraffickers just how he looked / They thought he was Malverde and offered up prayers to him.

The impostor asked them: Where do you move your shipments/ to protect your merchandise/ be it through Tijuana or Nogales/ And when they told him / He sent the police after them.

The dudes are astute and soon they realized what was going on / They caught that liar / at the other end of a machine gun / in the neighborhood of Las Quintas, there they evened the score.

The only thing left of the impostor/ are his remains up there on the hill / they say he doesn’t even have a tomb / the dogs gobbled him up / He wanted to pass for Malverde, but Malverde is not a game

This gory ballad is an example of the now infamous narcocorrido, but with a religious twist. The narcocorrido is a Mexican song celebrating the exploits of a drug-related outlaw or kingpin, and is a genre made famous by such popular groups as Los Tigres del Norte. In this one, faith also comes into play, as a rather strange fable is weaved of the government using the superstition of the drug traffickers to catch them in the act of illegal smuggling. The emergence of such “narcosantos” as Jesus Malverde and Santa Muerte is not an isolated incident in the popular Mexican religious consciousness, but is rather a sign of escalating violence in Mexican society, the growing importance of the drug trade, and the general decline of the rule of law.
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Santa Muerte Counterpoint

18 03 2009

Epidermal Macabre

Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, —
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness:
I hate my epidermal dress,
The savage blood’s obscenity,
The rags of my anatomy,
And willingly would I dispense
With false accouterments of sense,
To sleep immodestly, a most
Incarnadine and carnal ghost.

-Theodore Roethke





San Judas Tadeo

5 03 2009

The above video is a song about St. Jude and a person who did not keep his promise to him. Basically, the individual in question asked St. Jude for wealth, which the saint gave him. But the man failed to share his wealth with the poor. St. Jude then appears to him riding a horse and upbraids the man for not fulfilling his end of the bargain. St. Jude then cries and rides off in great dismay.
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