I’ve chronicled the chase for personal greed all through history, but whudda thunk that a naked chase for personal recognition could potentially do so much in such a short period of time, and reaching for a point where it is almost irreversible as we have seen
(Which is why I think my having chosen a kind of poverty is a Good Thing, and why I’m writing this in my 77th year.)
You know, I’m sitting here today seeing smart people, half my age, comparing the virtues and weaknesses of national socialism (aka fascism) with international socialism (aka communism). And still none of those “highly-schooled” people, or very wealthy people, or both, can tell me the difference between the two.
The whole ideal of popular democracy as found in the Declaration of Independence, the “pursuit of life, liberty and happiness” part, was based on a government that was selected by the people themselves. And not just from a pool of college grads, mind you…there were precious few in the early days…or trained professionals like doctors, engineers, lawyers, bankers, or even college professors, of which there were also very few.
And while specialized training and knowledge entitled a person to perform certain skills-for-hire, they were all joined by relationships that had broader meaning, such as the shoulders they stood on, both in the family and in the community, as well as a common understanding about religion, even though from the earliest times, America sheltered several ways of viewing and worshiping the Creator.
The Declaration of Independence didn’t cause Americans to be the way they were, but rather reflected who they were and how they had changed from when their ancestors first got off the boat and set foot in America. They understood the laws of Nature with the same common sense as they knew when to break up the ground for spring planting.
Law of Nature #1: Society’s need for a skilled mechanic precedes its ability to present one with a piece of paper certifying his/her training. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer in rural Illinois, but never went to law school. He apprenticed for years then took a test. In my Kentucky in 1970 that sort of lawyer still existed. I recall one of my lawyer bosses in state government tell the story about how he saw one such lawyer present an oral argument to the state supreme court about the then-new Miranda decision disallowing confessions without first having been advised of their rights. His oral argument (he won) consisted of a “Judge, Your Honor, I believe if you’ll look up that there Miranda decision, you see my client’s confession was gained with him being warned it would lead to his conviction.” Then he sat down.
My father was a certified professional civil engineer, but had never gone to college. He was a freshman when Pearl Harbor occurred. When he came home from the war he was sent to Chicago for some engineering classes, then worked as an apprentice to the Chief Engineer for 10 years before finally being certified. He then went on to become Chief Engineer and eventually General Superintendent, but when Who’s Who offered to list him in the 1980s, he turned them down because he didn’t want his colleagues to know he’d never graduated from college.
I began this trek as a criminal trial lawyer in Japan, where, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I sounded funny. Appalachians have an unique twang, and after returning from Russia and Ukraine, where I stayed December, 1991-thru-March, 1992, and the Soviet Union fell, I was asked to give a brief talk to select members of the Cincinnati business community. Not black-tie, but a very august affair.
What I didn’t know, but should have, was that in Cincinnati, a very class-conscious, Roman Catholic city, white Appalachians had replaced black-Americans on the lowest rung of society. I’d practiced law there a couple of years with no roots or connections, but my sister spent her first three years in nearby Hamilton while my dad slogged around North Africa and Sicily. Hamilton was known as “Little Appalachia”, so I needed to stay aware of this prejudice. But still, I allowed a slip-of-the-tongue to sneak into my talk…and that word was “far”.
Innocent enough, I know, but I don’t mean “far” as in “a great distance away” but as in “far truck”. A big Gasp! went up in the room, and I just gritted my teeth and closed my eyes, whispering “Oh, crap”, imagining women fainting…
…and men rushing back to the cloakroom to retrieve a revolver.
After the talk a couple of businessmen walked up and chuckled. But no one gave me their card or hired my services.
In those early days my clientele were often arms-related, which in the Soviet Bloc were all state industries. I visited the Bulgarian state arms manufacturers in Kazanluk. A closed city. But they couldn’t tell Hillbilly-from-Choctaw, and those contacts provided me access to a broader business community. To be closer to transportation, I moved to Virginia in 2000, by that time having also established contacts in Macedonia (the Kosovo War area), and Serbia, all accessible from Sofia. I’ve used that as home base until I began writing political commentary based on my observations there and readings from histories and natural philosophy. You’ll find them filtered around throughout my VassarBushmills.com site, many under the sobriquet “Famous Common People I Have Know”, stories I’d like to put into book form before I die.
It was then that I started putting my brand of analytics into print, with the common man and woman at the centerpiece. The Remington-esque art of early American trailblazers is one of my calling cards.
So, this short article is also a resume of sorts, but one which also represents still millions of men and women, now seniors, and whose opinions are generally pooh-poohed and ignored, while at the same time, also represent the vast majority of collected cultural memory of our people who actually witnessed things, who also knew to shut up and listen while their fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles, even grandparents, passed those cultural memories on.
If you look hard enough, and know their “signs” (an old Mountain Man term) you’ll recognize them, and I recommend following them on Twitter, and giving over 10-15 minutes a day to see what they have to say. You can recognize every type of kid you ever knew in grade school.
Using the same cover art, you’ll be able to visit my one and only fundraiser here, How Things Have Worked for Me,and why I decided not to seek wealth and status among the politically rich. There is simply too much at stake, and my original thinking about Donald Trump, when I wrote Donald Trump and the Common Man, has remained unchanged, and the world’s negative opinion about him is based on the single proposition that he is a greedy SOB that is seeking more wealth and power. A cynical view which we’ve often seen in history since they crucified Jesus, hatred driven by cynicism, greed and hate. No Christ-like man, Donald Trump, I’ll wager, but he exceeds description compared to his detractors…from the Republican side, who have completely abdicated the “Doctrine of Liberty”, first espoused in 1863 by party co-founder, George William Curtis, in address to (get this) Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard. Modern Democrats have been unable to squeeze into this picture frame since at least the rise of Jim Crow.
I invite you to simply scan over my Tables of Contents, subdivided on the front page, and feel free to contact me via comments or Twitter @VassarBushmills.com.
I plan to keep future writings short and packaged, should a publisher like to reach out.