"The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism... The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are 'still' possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge--unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable."
--Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History," (Spring, 1940) trans. Harry Zohn.
Ummm, excuse me? What business does a gardening blog have stomping through the muck of politics? I’m glad you asked that question. Apart from a vague and sometimes futile effort to be more green in the portion of my “lifestyle” that doesn’t involve gardening, I rarely stray from my garden in this blog.
Although I prefer to blog under an alias signifying sadness and pain, actually I’m a pretty up-beat citizen. But mad predictions about Fascism? Made in Germany in 1940? You might think those were scary times, albeit with little apparent relevance to gardening. I think these are scary times too.
My blog has a mission statement: I think, therefore I garden. So today’s quote isn’t about gardening; it’s about thinking. Benjamin is fomenting violent revolution against The Man. (When I first saw that expression many years ago, I thought it was “fermenting” violence, which imparted a hint of sweet intoxication to the war. Too bad.)
Here’s what I think. Advocating the violent overthrow of a mad man leading his nation into global disaster, is as crazy as advocating chemical warfare in my vegetable garden. A final solution is always so tempting in the midst of an interminable warfare. The news in the world beyond my backyard gate is dire. The wars continue, and I am beginning to realize that people die in wars.
Just like I now realize the poisons I used to kill the bugs could end up killing me. I have lost 3/5ths of my cabbage. Yeah, that’s a measly 2 shrunken red cabbage heads out of five. The white flies took the others, one-by-one. I tried washing them away with soapy water, but they outnumbered me, they overcame me. I could declare war and spray them all with pesticides, but I’m trying peaceful coexistence instead. Ironic: I can barely bring myself kill tiny flies, and yet I’m managing to kill the entire planet.
And one final thought: run for your life! Or, try to stop being afraid all the time. The hand sanitizers at the grocery store are tacked to a post near the shopping cart coral. We may not be able to find Bin Laden, but by God, we’ll kill those invisible viruses with antibiotics. (Hint, antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses).
We’re afraid of germs we can’t see with the naked eye AND we’re pounding the Total Crisis Panic Button in insane terror fomented by our own leaders. This is amazing to me. Why should I sweat over some small crumb-sized bugs in the cabbage any more than I worry about masked gunmen on the highways and byways? This is no time to panic.