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King Lear and The King's Men - Lessons on the Slippery Art of Family Governance

King Lear: The History Revealed by Fintan O'Toole, reviewed in The New York Review of Books.

Family Governance for Governing Families. The role of the artist, under a patron. The role of the King's Man. Support, absorb, refactor, and subvert, for the greater good. More power than a Wise Counselor in the traditional Courtier mode. More power than Parliament. Only an all licensed Fool could do more. Were I a wise man I would join Wise Counsel, giving sage advice to families as powerful as our former Monarchs, before we broke from English rule. 

The Wise make good use of literature, as of everything else. If they were wiser yet, they would be Fools. And perhaps The Happy Tutor could show them how. He is a Secular Priest, or actually a real priest, educated at Oxford as a cleric, since under Primogeniture (how our august predecessors beat the proverb, ashes to ashes, and rags to rags), he had to go into the army, become a judge, or be a priest and scholar, with a parish, or a school, or if lazy, as Tutor is, and a drunkard, and carouser, he could set up as a Morals Tutor to his noble neighbor's brats. Mentoring the Heirs, as we now say. The Happy Tutor is also the Lord of Misrule. So are our Wise Counsel, today, if by Misrule we mean the rule of the richest forever. Fool is one thing, Coxcomb, or Villain is another.

In Lear, do we pity the pauper at the base of Fortune's wheel as it turns, or the King at the top who must inevitably fall? When the highest and lowest trade places, 'handy dandy' who goes in ermine, and who in rags? Change places, and who is the thief, and who is the justice? Who is the sighted one? Who is blind?  Who is sane and who mad? Riddle me that, Wise Counsel. But more importantly, can we like Shakespeare, speak truth in riddles to power, and still be awarded our four yards of red cloth to wear the King's livery at court? So far Tutor, buck naked in a Dumpster, must await future delivery. Advantage Wise Counsel.

If I were to write my own Book on Wealth and the Will of God, I would add the epigraph: "Wiser are the Children of Darkness." And believe me, I have learned that to my own cost. Let it be a lesson to us all.

Parrhesiast turned Pharmakos

In ancient Athens, the ritual of the pharmakos was used to expel and shut out the evil (out of the body and out of the city). To achieve this, the Athenians maintained several outcasts at public expense. In the event of any calamity, they sacrificed one or more than one outcast as a purification and a remedy. Via.

As the pro bono Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, and a Pariah in my own right, I don't know whether to find the Athenian model (of well-fed Scapegoats) hopeful or discouraging. Today, as remedy for the Wealthy Student's moral ills, I am often made the Whipping Boy in my turn. That goes without saying.  The idea, though, of being maintained at public expense prior to my being  flogged and incinerated in accordance with Athenian tradition would be an improvement over my current situation.  Call me Foolish, but I am happy as sacrificial victim, turned satirist, to do my bit for the World We Want, if only I can be maintained at public expense, pending my moment of truth.

You may find this funny. Maybe laughter is the best medicine, Sire. If I make you laugh, perhaps that will restore our community even better than having me flogged seven times on the penis with squills, wild fig branches, and other wild plants, and finally burned on wood from wild trees with my ashes scattered into the sea and winds in order to purify the city of its ills,  if it please Your Majesty.

Who Has Your Control File, Sweetie?


My my, as Proprietress of Wealth Bondage, and as the Generous Patron whose Passionate Philanthropy makes Gifthub possible, I did find the piece on blackmail for government purposes, cited below quite, interesting and very practical at that.  My, yes, control files on all my little kingpins and queenpins. All the heads of government agencies. CEOs. Media Impressarios. Heads of the Big Charities. The biggest donors. The auditors. The police down to the block level. After what they do in Wealth Bondage, loving each other up, beating each into screaming joy, they had better hope that "what happens in Wealth Bondage stays in Wealth Bondage." 

O! Yes. Why do I  tap all the phones, and monitor all the scene rooms, Sweetie? Because Momma wants to protect you against Terrorists! They might get you, if Momma doesn't keep all your secrets in her little book. 

O my God, you have to laugh.  Congress couldn't be happier passing whatever enabling legislation I want. Plunder is good for America. I am the new Oligarchy! A one woman Russian Mob, but with a fucking Harvard MBA.  Why should Congress  balk, when I have the videos of their trysts with lobbyists in the Wealth Bondage? Well, what goes around comes around. We are all givers here. I give your Elected Represenatives a little freedom to commit their high crimes and misdeamors, and their petty acts of self-dealing, and get laid a lot, and the bigshots in return pledge me absolute fealty.

Maybe Momma will auction her little book of secrets off for charity? Now that would be Transformational Philanthropy for Social change. Ha, ha, ha! O my God. What well-meaning little morons read Gifthub? Let me clue you in. Gifthub is a load of crap. It is a headfake, stupid! I fund it to mislead you and get you working on projects that are totally hopeless and irrelevant!  Sweetie, Gifthub cites only public sources and the official stories provided by public sources.  Trust me on this: If information is public it is not worth shit. The private information is what matters and it is strictly on a need to know basis. And you don't need to know, 'cuz you are a loser who has no chips to play in the big game. Sorry, little ones. You do your pathetic little gifts and Momma will rule the world.

You even think of changing my Ownership Society and I will turn you over to The Forces of Freedom and they will feed your body inch by inch to the piranna is some South American Hell Hole.You think your friends will say word one? Why would they start now, when they have eaten shit since 2001 and said nothing?

Now back to the puppet show you morons mistake for the real world. Gifthub, Gifthub, rah, rah, rah. The world we want. Yada. Yada.You think I am a sockpuppet? And your elected representatives are "real? OMG! (LOL).

Candidia Cruikshanks, CEO of Wealth Bondage: Where America Works and Plays

From Blackmail as a Tool of State Domination: Ukraine under Kuchma by Keith A. Darden, a professor at Yale and Harvard

Blackmail as an informal mechanism of control
Blackmail, as an instrument of state control, relies on three basic elements. The first is a permissive attitude of state leaders toward corruption. In Ukraine, corruption and illegality among the elite were accepted, condoned, and even encouraged by the top leadership, resulting in a general atmosphere of impunity. The second element is extensive state surveillance. Even as the violation of the law is encouraged, the state-or rather the surveillance organs under the control of the president (including the tax ministry, interior ministry, and secret police)-continues to monitor such illegal activities. Using the surveillance organs, the state amasses a stockpile of files and criminal cases that document wrongdoing on the part of officeholders as well as private actors. When compliance with state directives is required, this information is used to blackmail the elite, with payment exacted not in cash but in obedience. The representatives of the power organs are able to present each member of the elite with a file containing compromising materials (kompromat) or evidence of wrongdoing-with the implicit or explicit threat that a sudden decision to enforce the law would lead to the imprisonment of the individual in question. Thus is compliance secured.

If blackmail is insufficient, individuals or groups that openly oppose the policies of the state or seek to usurp the existing leadership suddenly find that the veil of impunity has been lifted. The kompromat files or zagotovki are then made public, and recalcitrant individuals and their organizations immediately find themselves under close scrutiny or prosecution by the tax inspector, the law enforcement bodies, or other state institutions. But as long as consistent compliance with state directives is maintained, the state's role amounts to no more than surveillance, blackmail, and, in some cases, a cut of the proceeds. The mere threat of exposure and prosecution serves to keep the elite firmly under control.

The Role of Philanthropy in a Security State

Headinsand The comment on an earlier post by my old nemisis, Captain Blowtorch, raises certain life and death issues for philanthropists. May I expound upon them? (Hop in and be so kind as to pull the lid closed on the dumpster. Not all messages are for all ears. This is strictly need to know. You never know these days who is listening or for what purpose or how what you say may be used against you in a court of law, or in some dark alley for that matter.)

The world we have is all screwed up. The world we want is very different. But the world we have is owned and operated by people with money and power who will defend their own interests by fair means and foul, up to and including rewriting our Constitution, torturing people, and having them assassinated. We all know this, right? And that is why we are silent about it? We know it, but we know not to talk about it? We know it is now to late to resist? There is no alternative?

Anyway, let's say that we are in fact still committed to the world we want, a world characterized by the rule of law, openness, transparency, freedom, economic opportunity, and justice for all. How, then do we work towards that world when it is anathema to those who profit from being above or outside the rule of law, and who benefit from operating by force and guile in secret and with impunity, while hurling down edicts, propaganda, laws and and swat teams on those who want nothing more than to have America's promise restored through loving and peaceful means?

What action items come to mind for the good people in this country to take our country back against the forces of darkness, including but not limited to Captain Blowtorch, and his compatriots in Wealth Bondage, a front some say, for the CIA? How about these steps?

  • "Many pieces loosely joined," or a network for a loving and peaceful version of  "net war."
  • Not secrecy, but brazen openness - loving kindness expressed openly in thought, word, and deed.
  • Awards and prizes and honors for whistle-blowers, truth tellers and dissidents
  • Think tanks with real thinkers in them
  • Political organizing outside the party system by all citizens to retore our Constitution
  • Media specializing in investigative journalism
  • A database of dissidents and whistle-blowers to track their mortality and morbidity against societal averages. The longitudinal data to serve as a starting point for further investigations if the population of dissidents and truth tellers proves more than normally susceptible to accident, disease or suicide.
  • Scholarship programs for budding young satirists
  • Investment programs that bypass Wall Street and put money to work on Main Street
  • Advisors who work with high capacity clients to determine how much capital the client can put to work for social good in imaginative ways, hedged against potential counter-measures.
  • Broad-based communications networks to activate citizens who are slowly waking up the the new realities of life in a security state.
  • Civic dialogues, formal and informal, online and off, to make us more at ease in discussing such things as dirty tricks, wet work, death squads, suicide teams, torture, lies in high places,  and how to turn that around to love, justice, and peace.
  • Artists, dramatists, novelists, singers, to help us form a shared consciousness, living in truth.
  • Philosophers, historians, critics, sociologists, and critical theorists to teach us how the weapons of the weak have been used in ages past to keep hope alive under oppression.

Now, look, let me make myself clear. I am not declaring war on Wealth Bondage, not even a covert or cold war. That would be suicide. I am as dependent upon the forces of Wealth Bondage as anyone else. I am deeply implicated in the status quo. Every dollar I have invested, every dollar I make, circulates around inside one or another institution of Wealth Bondage, or goes in taxes to Wealth Bondage projects, or piddles about in various Wealth Bondage philanthropies.  If Wealth Bondage goes down, so does my pension, my mutual funds, everything I have, as little as that might be. My clients are mostly Wealth Bondage bigshots. My generous patron is the CEO of Wealth Bondage; she who rules us all. I do not in any way want to jeopardize what little I have, and the little credibility I have earned by being a Faithful Servant and Trusted Advisor to Wealth Bondage Private Banking Clients. I have always been loyal to Wealth Bondage.  I buy into the concept. I have drunk the Koolaid. I am on board.  I pledge allegiance to Wealth Bondage.  I have no desire to become a lightning rod for whatever Wealth Bondage does to retain its control if challenged. Those people are morally insane. They will stop at nothing here or abroad. They creep me out. So, don't get me wrong. I am a happy camper. I am really just thinking that promoting civic philanthropy might be a good double bottom line social investment opportunity, catering to the needs of those wealth holders in Wealth Bondage who prefer democracy, or a more credible simulation of it.  The pro-democracy movement is a niche, a small one, but maybe profitable? High risk for high return? A piece at least of a prudent philanthropic social venture portfolio, if only as a hedge against the possibility that democracy and the rule of law might one day be restored, and the malefactors brought to justice? Surely, in Wealth Bondage there is room for a brand of philanthropy catering to a taste for even a niche product like democracy? It wouldn't change anything, it would keep trouble-makers occupied, and it would be good for business?

I am going to pitch Candidia, and see what she says. With any luck she will be my first investor.

(Tag, Catherine, you are it.)

The Happy Tutor's Cure for Tapeworms

The Happy Tutor, the master to whom I was apprenticed in our noble trade, during my years in Wealth Bondage, when I was young and foolish, before I was born again as a Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, is almost 500 years old. I assume he was in his thirties in 1515 when he starred in Erasmus's The Praise of Folly.  Some say he is much older than that, older than Romulus and Remus even, old maybe even as Dionysus himself.  Tutor can always be found wherever the faithful make merry in Carnival. You can see him moving among the Monks, Kings, Queens,  CEOs, Trusted Advisors, Butlers, Courtiers, Beggars, and Machiavels, with his Jester's Cap and Bells pushed back on his neck, his eyes aglint with sadistic glee, looking for some lovely upscale sinner to spank into virtue. Some say The Happy Tutor lives inside Wealth Bondage. Others say he inhabits a Dumpster on its margins where Wealth Bondage proper abuts the public square. (Philanthrocapitalists say the public square is a service of  Wealth Bondage provided as an amenity to its Private Clients, and made available to ordinary people from time to time under a double-bottom line master contract with binding one way opt out. Whether that's so or not I do not know.)

Anyway, to bring you up to date, I dropped by the Dumpster after work today to talk with my old mentor. When he is not pretending to be a teacher, he often pretends to be a Physician. (It is all a way to get girls, honestly.) He said, raising his forefinger high in the air, that he had found a cure for the tapeworm. "They are parasites that inject you with a chemical that makes you long for what kills you. The more you consume, the more the tapeworm consumes you. The more you eat, the hungrier you are. You can tell someone has the tapeworm when they begin to talk about Freedom all the time as they compulsively feed their face . Freedom is what tapeworm people call it when they have the tapeworm inside them, eating them alive. Through contact with food, or clothing, or money touched by the infected person, the tapeworm spreads throughout the marketplace. It has become an epidemic, but everyone is happy, feeding away, and passing on the tapeworm to those they love. It has become a huge public health crisis, though no one talks much about it.  Now, you will be glad to hear, I have found the cure! To get the tapeworm out of a consumer's system you can go at it from either end, Phil," he said, "if you know what I mean. You can reason with them, of course, as you do, Phil, for all the good that does, or...." And then he began to rummage among his sacks of garbage for some kind of medical implement. I did not wait around to find out what. I have known him of old. You are better off not messing with him when he is in that crazy mood.   

Happy April Fool's Day

In honor of April Fool's day, let me salute all my fellow Fools in fundraising, planned giving, government service, and in the media. "Know thyself" is a wise saying, attributed to Socrates, but I don't advise it. If we knew ourselves we poor Fools would vanish from the face of the earth, suddenly Wise. And were we wise, how little fun we could have. Look at Spitzer. A sadder and wiser man today. He was having much more fun when a Fool (merely pretending to be wise) in deed.

Philanthropy After the Coming Revolution

CR at Long Sunday:

We do - I do - suffer from a certain amount of confusion when it comes to the question of the right way to work as a left intellectual. By "right way to work," I don't so much mean the specific frame of engagement, whether to work in the academy or in the papers or on the streets or make art etc. Rather, I am confused about the bearing of the work that I should be doing within the practical framework that I have chosen (or which has chosen me). I mean, would it be best to plan, to advertise, or to design? Are the most useful answers at this point practical or conceptual or ethical? Should one be a hauntologist, a pragmatic engineer, or a philosopher of the question itself?

Has anyone written anything interesting about the role of philanthropy in the resurrection and ultimate victory of communism? I don't think Lucy or Sean has taken this up at all in their triumphalist discourse on social capital markets. After the Revolution, when power has returned to the people throughout the western hemisphere, and wealth is distributed to those who need it most, not by philanthropy but at the tip of bayonet,  these hegemonic philanthropy mavens will cut sugar cane in the fields with their clients under the direction of my brother, Raoul. (Link and commentary via personal communication from Fidel Castro, posted with permission. He says he is in good health and wishes CR well.)

Bum Wine Red for Bums

I agreed to advertise the Happy Tutor's Bum Wine Red for the Bums campaign, but I have my reservations. I am not sure it is a good thing for the state of Moral Philosophy in this country that a contemporary genius like Tutor be kept drunk on bum wine, even if he says he is staging some kind of Civic Dialogue on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal around his Dumpster out behind Wealth Bondage. Beyond that, his claim to recycle the bottles and give a nickel to the homeless is spurious. Those bottles can't be returned, as far as I know, and if he did return them, you know darn well the homeless person he has in mind is himself. Still, this is a Social Capital Market, and I will leave it up to the Wisdom of Crowds.

The Happy Tutor at Council on Foundations

I was attending Council on Foundations, as as honored guest, when to my horror, I saw that the Happy Tutor was on the agenda for the Evening Plenary Session: "Making the Most of Wealth Bondage:  Mastering Social Change Before It Masters You." I see him walk, or really, swagger, in the front door of the Biltmore. I had been afraid he would come naked, his normal business attire, but no, he has on that god-awful white bell bottom leisure suit, with the rayon shirt open to his waist, and those gold chains, or gold-plated chains, over his hairy chest. He has shades on that looked like they had belonged to Sony Bono.  He flashes me a sign with both hands raised high, index fingers and pinky extended - Hook 'em Horns

I follow him into the packed ballroom, acting like we are strangers.  Down the aisle he goes, doing that Chuck Berry air guitar act of his, with the splits, every third chord. By the time, he gets to to the podium, he is wiping his brow with a scarf, like Elvis, "Thank you, that you very much...."  When he starts his lecture, or really it was more like karaoke, the red-jackets were serving the baked Alaska. Within 10 minutes, he had them all on the dance floor. The dowager in the low cut dress was waving her waffled arms, and doing the hokey-pokey. The waiters were doing the monkey with trustees in pin stripes.  Admiral Harlan Proctor, head of the finance committee,  was doing the samba with his daughter, Missy.  Senator Dick Minim (D. MA) was slow dancing with Smoky Joe, Senior Public Relations Counsel for Wealth Bondage. Joe McPatriot, drunk as a skunk, was running around saluting all the flag lapel pins, and there were hundreds. Even Sister Lucy was smiling. She may have taken a vow of silence, but it didn't stop her from tapping her foot. The little kids in their Sunday Best were tearing around the tables throwing water as their parents chased them.  I didn't have the heart to stick around and see what kind of party this all degenerated into. I went back to my room and watched one of those cable movies.

Next morning checking out, there was Tutor, buck naked, dragging a garbage bag he had borrowed from the maid to use as luggage. I asked him how it had turned out. "Phil, he said, it was going good until someone lit the table cloth on the dais on fire. That set off the sprinklers, the police showed up, Missy was arrested for public indecency,  and the Convener got tazed and dragged off in cuffs. They pulled her by her hair all the way down that hall. I think they are trying to bail the two of them out now."  I asked if he had accomplished his objectives. "Yes, he said, "we turned the world upside down pretty good. Do you know that our esteemed Founder, Diogenes, asked to be buried faced down so that that when the world was turned upside down, he would be right side up? Well, the world keeps turning over. This morning the guests were eating their omelets and reading the Wall Street Journal, same as ever. The wait staff was as invisible as ever, and I am out of here.   We don't any of us really want social change, not until the check clears anyway."

The Cynics, the real ones, were actually a serio-comic school of moral philosophers. Serio ludere, "play seriously" was their motto, or so I am told, by Dr. Amrit Chadwallah, Senior Adjunct in Charge of Hidden Meaning, but I wish that foolish tradition had died out for good. The last thing we need is a real Morals Tutor in a field like this. For those of you saw me with the Happy Tutor, forgive me. I do not know the man. Philanthropy is a serious businesses.  I cannot stress enough the importance of being earnest