Dreary Monday Reads: Je prends le Maquis


There are many things going on in the world today. The Russian ambassador to Turkey was just shot in Ankara and the hope of the majority of the USA rests on faithless electors since our election system rewarded the minority this year.  Here is a state by state list of when they vote. You can follow it if you still have the nerves for it.  I frankly don’t.

Today is the day we formally begin our resistance here in La Nouvelle-Orléans.  I’ve been following more than just a few folks familiar with the last fight against fascism in keeping with my Mood Indigo. I’m also reading about the other places it’s popping up in an area of the world that should know better. Take Poland for example.

Cheered on by religious conservatives, the new government has defunded public assistance for in vitro fertilization treatments. To draft new sexual-education classes in schools, it tapped a contraceptives opponent who argues that condom use increases the risk of cancer in women. The government is proffering a law that critics say could soon be used to limit opposition protests.

Yet nothing has shocked liberals more than this: After a year in power, Law and Justice is still by far the most popular political party in Poland. It rides atop opinion polls at roughly 36 percent — more than double the popularity of the ousted Civic Platform party.

“The people support us,” boasted Adam Bielan, Law and Justice’s deputy speaker of the Senate.

1_123125_2161048_2208217_2231918_091030_spec_arendttn-jpg-crop-promo-mediumlargeI continue to be shocked which is why I have dusted off my old university Philosophy books and sought out the writings of Hannah Arendt.  I find I am not alone.

“Origins,” first published in 1951, was based on research and writing done during the 1940s. The book’s primary purpose is to understand totalitarianism, a novel form of mobilizational and genocidal dictatorship epitomized by Stalinism in Soviet Russia and Hitlerism in Nazi Germany, and it culminates in a vivid account of the system of concentration and death camps that Arendt believed defined totalitarian rule. The book’s very first words signal the mood:

Two world wars in one generation, separated by an uninterrupted chain of local wars and revolutions, followed by no peace treaty for the vanquished and no respite for the victor, have ended in the anticipation of a third World War between the two remaining superpowers. This moment of anticipation is like the calm, that settles after all hopes have died . . . Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena — homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth . . . Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest — forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.

How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment? The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and “Origins” raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead.

I just wanted to also explain a bit about what “I take the Maquis” means in terms of history and metaphor. I know I’m getting obsessive about how to resist the incoming Ugly American and his band of Robber Barons but I’m truly worried.

Take to the maquis” became widely known in World War II, when French guerrillas, called “the maquis,” carried out … The literal translation is “take the bit in the teeth,” the explanation behind this phrase reflecting the behavior of horses.

The Maquisards were a group of French Resistance Fighters in rural South France during the NAZI occupation.  We’re going to need all the help we can get so I am White Rose Society and I am Maquis.  I love how the Big Dawg put the situation into perspective:

President-elect Donald Trump “doesn’t know much,” former President Bill Clinton told a local newspaper earlier this month, but “one thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.”

Clinton spoke to a reporter from The Record-Review, a weekly newspaper serving the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York, not far from the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, New York. The former president held court on Dec. 10 in Pleasantville, New York, where he took questions from the reporter and other customers inside a small bookstore.

imagesThe electoral system was made to protect white men and it still appears to do its job.  The Civil war is being fought again. Paul Krugman opines today on How Republics End.  As you can see, this is very much on my mind.

Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.

But the ’30s isn’t the only era with lessons to teach us. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.

Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.

freres-d-armes-france-3-addi-ba-evade-puis-maquisard_news_fullI’m not sure we will even be able to maintain the facade.  The Republicans have been rewarded for stalling all processes for 8 years. All political norms were called off the day Obama took the oath of office.   I doubt they’ll miss the opportunity to tear it all down and put up something fiercely oppressive to women and minorities of all types. Meanwhile, Orangeholio and his cabinet of Robber Barrons will loot us. Beware the pennies on your eyes!

Here is a link to “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.” I sincerely it hopes us all.

Je prends le Maquis!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

51 Comments on “Dreary Monday Reads: Je prends le Maquis”

  1. dakinikat says:


    Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov shot dead by police officer in Ankara who shouted ‘Aleppo, revenge’

  2. janicen says:

    I’m not a fragile person, but I just don’t think I can hold on to my sanity for another minute. The 22nd will be the ten year anniversary of the death of my younger brother, today we say goodbye to America, and something is wrong with my dog. She is in a great deal of pain and is unable to walk. We fear it’s something with her spine. If she doesn’t make it, I honestly think I’ll die from grief this year. Fucking 2016 is the worst year ever.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Speaking for myself I will admit to being very scared. Scared enough that I am having difficulty sleeping.

    This incoming administration – and I refuse to call him president – is scaring the wits out of me.

    • joanelle says:

      You’re not the only one, Pat.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m scared too. Very scared. I’m just hoping I can survive. But sometimes I think I’d be even more fortunate if I didn’t. I don’t want to find out what’s coming.

  4. dakinikat says:

    out the Christian Right, There’d Be No President Trump: What Do They Want in Exchange?

  5. NW Luna says:

    No joy here either.

    U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday rejected a New Mexico lawyer’s long-shot bid to force a Senate confirmation vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, after Republican senators refused to act on his nomination.

    Steven Michel, a Santa Fe environmental attorney, filed suit in U.S. federal court in August, arguing that the Republican-led Senate’s failure to act on Garland’s nomination deprived Michel of his rights as a voter under the U.S. Constitution’s 17th Amendment, which outlines how senators are elected.


  6. janicen says:

    Thank you, Sky Dancers, for you good wishes. At least the news about my dog was good. She’ll make it. She’s 10 and a half years old and has degenerative disc disease in her spine. The vet said there is calcification that can cause a lot of pain at times. Molly got a laser treatment, some pain meds, and some anti inflammatories and she should be better in a few days. At least that went well. Thanks again, everyone. Sorry to dump my troubles on you but your support helped a lot.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Glad to hear that, Janicen.
      We do love our furry friends, don’t we?

    • dakinikat says:

      so happy to hear the good news

    • Fannie says:

      I’ll tell you, there has been many a times that I would rather spend my time with my dog, than deal with people. Eight years ago, on Christmas Eve, he came to me, and he grew into a big Chessie, and those hips just gave out, and he has a tumor on brain. It’s been something, but I talk to him all hours of the night, when I am sleeping. I hold my hand out, and he comes and puts his chin in my hand, and I talk about him being that little puppy, my little Christmas baby. So, get on the floor, and play, and give him the best food (I cooked up a nice bone), and let me hear you sing, and watch you dance!

      Luv you Janicen, you are the best.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank goodness! All my love to Molly.

    • NW Luna says:

      So glad to hear this! And no trouble at all. We all support each other.

  7. Jslat says:

    Well it looks like all of the push back and protests haven’t really changed the electoral college voting. Last I checked tRump had 259 votes and Hillary 166.
    This has been the worst autumn of my life for stress and despair. About two and a half months ago my beloved 5 1/2 year old Cavalier spaniel died in less than a week of an aggressive cancer. He was one of the sweetest, most loving dogs ever. It broke my heart. Every dog I have ever owned has lived to at least 14. Ten days later my youngest brother (54) died suddenly and unexpectedly. Such a shock for my whole family! The medical examiner office kept his body for over three weeks delaying any funeral plans. It was terrible waiting. Less than a week after his funeral, tRump was elected. I felt like a punching bag from all of the emotion hitting me. The next week I had a horrible ear infection and went to my first sick visit to my doctor in over seven years! The week after the infection was gone, I came down with shingles! The doctor asked if I had been under a lot of stress?!?!? I am still dealing with the discomfort and pain. This 70 year old body has had it.
    Sorry about that but I had to unload all this sh*t I’ve been going through in addition to the daily drumbeat of the insane PEOTUS news.
    While I read this blog every day, I haven’t commented very much lately. But knowing you all are here helps. Sky Dancers are awesome.

    • janicen says:

      I’m so sorry, Jslat. I don’t even know where to begin. What an awful year. Multiple hugs to you. I can’t imagine why the medical examiner needed so much time. And shingles! Oof! Anyone I know who has had them says they are horribly painful. Enough of 2016. Enough!

    • Fannie says:

      Jslat, we have so many tie ins with you. I wish we could all get together, and have a punch out with Trump, that would unify us in more ways than one.

      I am sorry for the lost of your brother, it’s important to share and let us know all the changes you’ve been going through. We heart you. We just all have a strong need for each other.

      I’d like to punch that mofo Trump out, who knows we might get our chance.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Jslat, I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with so much all at once.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Just another reminder: if you’re sixty years old, please consider asking your doctor for the shingles vaccine.
      Because shingles is one bad mofo.

      • Fannie says:

        It’s rather expensive, but be sure to get the bill from your doctor, and have the insurance company reimburse you. It cost me about $210, up front, but the insurance did pay me weeks later. It is worth it.

    • Jslat says:

      As I read this blog over the past month, I find it unbelievable that so many of us are dealing with multiple stressful events. It is almost as if a great dark cloud is hovering over us. As you might remember, I was always the angry optimist. Damn I hope I can see a positive future again. It is debilitating to be so negative. Right now there is no fight left in me. Except when I think of my granddaughters. My little Hillary warrior still proudly wears her “I’m with her”shirt. I pray she will see a woman elected POTUS.

      • janicen says:

        I’m giving it my all to focus on the positive. I had two surgeries on joints this year but they seem to have been successful and I keep getting stronger every day. My daughter just found out she got a new job with better pay and excellent benefits. And the vet said my dog will get better so what the hell, it could be worse. 🙂

    • dakinikat says:

      Oh wow … What a annum horribilus! Hang in there!! Every one cares about you here!!

    • NW Luna says:

      Oh, Jslat, that is sad to hear about all the losses you have had. “Have you been under a lot of stress?” I would think most doctors would know by now! Gentle hugs for you.

  8. Earlynerd says:

    Now I shall have to read Hannah Arendt, especially that book. I did watch the biographical DVD , but that’s as much entertainment as anything else.

    I’ve started re-reading one and intend to start on another more easily digestible books about fascism’s inception and aftermath. “Gone to Soldiers” is one of Marge Piercy’s multi-character novels about 8 people during the lead up to World War II, the war itself and shortly afterwards. The only first person narrator is a very convincing Jewish Parisian adolescent who keeps a diary: she goes from being annoyingly typical for an intellectual teenager to being an extremely effective Resistance fighter. It’s very detailed and I believe, materially accurate: the original for the character was identified several years ago.

    Other sections of the book follow a Detroit roughneck through the Atlantic battles, a more scholarly man as a Marine in the Pacific fighting, a female author’s changing directives and opportunities as determined by the War Office, a midwestern small-town woman who becomes a WASP, the OSS from the inside, and one of the code-breakers recruited en masses following the success of Purple. Most of the characters are Jewish, a few are not.

    The other book, Simone De Beauvoir’s “The Prime Of Life” is in storage across country and may not be available here in the increasingly deep South. Like the corresponding part of Gone To Soldiers, a section of that book tells a detailed story of the fall of Paris and its aftermath, but as fact not fiction. What both have in common is the very convincing matter-of-fact record of ordinary and trusted people making small and large compromises that add up to horrors that can’t be undone, that are based on giving into existing but frequently unsuspected bigotry and failure of the kind of courage that maintains integrity (or what the existentialists call bad faith, if I’ve got that right). The other side is the acts of heroism, again on the same scale, that end up making a lasting difference.

    Of course, neither of these should be seen as how-to manuals, but their bearing witness in a similar time helps build resistance. The Paris and Vichy analogy is especially helpful, because this time, the U.S. is and will be on the wrong side.

  9. dakinikat says:

    Final Count
    Trump 307
    Clinton 169
    Colin Powell 3 (He wasn’t even running)
    59 pending votes that may or may not be cast.

    So 12 Electoral College voters did not vote for the winner of their state.
    The previous record was only 1 vote.
    All 12, Democrats, did not vote for Clinton.
    3 changed their vote back to Clinton.
    Former Secretary of State Colin Powell got 3.b
    Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder in the Yankton Dakota tribe got 1.
    5 other Democrats did not vote instead of voting for Clinton.

    • janicen says:

      That is some fucked up shit about Clinton’s electors. Frankly, I’m glad it’s all behind her so we can all begin revering her the way she deserves. She will be like Susan B. Anthony who died before women got the right to vote. A woman won’t be elected POTUS until after Hillary is gone, but future generations will give Hillary the credit she deserves.

    • NW Luna says:

      ….and so dies the American ideal of her citizens doing what’s best for the country.

  10. contrask says:

    I didn’t hear the vote counts. That’s just wrong for Hillary. She’s endured so much to be shit on like this. Sorry. Janicen – I’m so glad at least your dog is better. I lost a dog to coyotes in the woods behind the house the day before Thanksgiving and my old black lab is really getting crippled up. I know the pain on the furry children. All you guys, I hurt with you. I can’t read the news, only links from your posts and other feeds. I’m just sick for our country and for us.

    • janicen says:

      Oh no! I’m so sorry! Those fucking coyotes! I hate them. I think all of us will be happy to put this year behind us.

    • NW Luna says:

      Oh contrask — I am so sorry to hear about your dogs! I avoided the news today. I don’t watch TV (don’t even own a TV) but I often check selected sources and Twitter feeds, especially the last few weeks, hoping against hope, but today I didn’t.

      Today I binge-watched the National Parks films by Ken Burns. All the history of the citizens and politicians who fought for something greater than themselves, so that their children and their children’s children would be able to experience these treasures. I cried at several points, and am filled with foreboding that the alpine meadows will be paved, the granite spires blasted down, the rivers dammed, and the plains and tundra mined and drilled.

      • contrask says:

        I am so scared for our country. We own TV, but live in the country and have no cable service. I watch Rachel & Lawrence & AM Joy. I paid for a digital sub to NYT and thinking of one for Newsweek or Time – whichever Kurt Eichenwald writes for. I’m sick that that I live in such an ignorant state and have to work with people who support him or voted for him because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for “that woman.” You have no idea how alone I feel. Am I the only person in the state to have woke up and seen the writing on the wall? I have been surrounded by Hillary & Obama haters for years and never cared. All it took was just a little research and reading and OMG – I will never ever vote for or even talk kindly about a Republican again.

  11. Minkoff Minx says:

    Wow, my love to all of you. Xoxoxoxo….