Meeting Report

Meeting Report

Postby johnkarls » Fri May 12, 2017 7:19 am

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Meeting Report

Ordinarily, we do not produce meeting reports.

Though for the sake of good order, we do under the current circumstances of being bombarded with zillions of inquiries about what happened, both from regulars who were unable to participate and from curious non-regulars.

As usual under such circumstances, Yours Truly describes his recollection of what happened and then as usual, since everyone’s impressions might differ, he herewith invites any participant to post her/his comments.

We had 10 RSVP’s and 1 “walk on” (who, ironically, is the only other regular who was “present at the creation” of our organization 11.5 years ago).

The most important aspect of the meeting is that despite the attempt of Yours Truly in the Suggested Discussion Outline to ignore current politics and pose the important questions with a “Law School 101” hypothetical case of a future U.S. President Jesús Christo, our first-ever Latino President and a firm believer in “loving your neighbor as yourself,” virtually everyone was unable to ignore current politics.

[This despite 2 attorneys and 5 PhD’s in attendance, with 4 of these 7 (including Yours Truly) having had extensive experience teaching at either the college level or a law school’s Graduate (LL.M.) Division.]

My recollection is that there was nobody who had any trust in our Intelligence Services to tell the truth, even under oath (since nobody ever seems to get prosecuted for perjury!!!)!!!

And my recollection is that there was nobody who had any confidence in our Intelligence Services (despite the presumable integrity of the overwhelming majority of their “rank and file”) to “do the right thing”!!!

Especially in light of the zillions of reports that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that it is “really dumb” to oppose our Intelligence Services because -- “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

[See, for example, the report at http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... -community.]

About half of our attendees spoke up in opposition to the potential invasion of their own privacy by our Intelligence Agencies.

This mirrors the discussion at our 8/10/2016 meeting when Yours Truly led the faction who believed that National Security was/is so important, that anyone “with nothing to hide” should have no objection to our Intelligence Services doing whatever is necessary to protect us.

[In this regard, please see the “Original Proposal” for our 5/10/2017 meeting posted on http://www.ReadingLiberally-SaltLake.org.]

HOWEVER, there seemed to be UNIVERSAL OPPOSITION to the possibility/probability that our Intelligence Services will use their power to zap any of our democratically-elected officials with whom they disagree.

NONETHELESS, there did seem to be a diversity of opinion on (1) whether we are just “around the corner” from Authoritarian Rule by Our Intelligence Services à la George Orwell’s 1984, or (2) whether we are merely (!!!) in a permanent modus vivendi pursuant to which Our Intelligence Services dictate U.S. policy by zapping whichever democratically-elected officials displease them WITHOUT the oppression of Orwell’s 1984.

THERE WAS UNIVERSAL AGREEMENT that (as posited in both the Suggested Discussion Outline and the Suggested Answers to the Fourth Short Quiz posted on http://www.ReadingLiberally-SaltLake.org) there is NO SOLUTION to the problem.

Unless, of course, we simply disband entirely our Intelligence Services (because they have already proven to be so “lawless” that there is really nothing that can be done in terms of additional laws because they will ignore those as well).

Though not asked at the meeting, zillions of the subsequent inquiries have asked Yours Truly about his current attitude about the end of the Original Proposal for the 5/10/2017 meeting (posted on http://www.ReadingLiberally-SaltLake.org) which had said --

“My apologies to everyone for my comments last August!!! [For having opined that anybody with ‘nothing to hide’ should have no objection to our Intelligence Services doing whatever is necessary to protect us.] I now see the wisdom in the famous words of American Patriot Patrick Henry who said as Governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary War against Britain -- ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’!!!”

My current view???

I now believe it more than ever!!!

Life with the freedom to pursue our interests has been very enjoyable for me: (1) discussing history & public policy in various groups for many decades, (2) participation in the civil rights movement including being within 60 seconds of being assassinated according to the North Carolina State Police during the Summer of 1966 while serving as a member of the first U.S. Governmental Task Force for de-segregating the de jure dual school systems of 17 Southern States, (3) the disappointment that the establishment (our legal system, our top U.S. and California officials and our 43 news-media superstars) trashed 14 years of personal effort and would NOT let me spend the $84 billion that I was owed by the world’s 15 largest financial institutions (all of which had been pledged in legally-binding fashion) to enable 10 million inner-city children to escape “a fate worse than death”, (4) sports participation (still skiing 100 days/year + summer sailing), and (5) being an opera aficionado and balletomane!!!

And I can’t imagine how WORTHLESS AND MISERABLE life would have been under an authoritarian regime such as described in George Orwell’s 1984, or as prevailed under any of history’s many Stalinist regimes.

So yes, I firmly believe that, if necessary, we should even disband our Intelligence Services.

If they are going to produce Authoritarian Rule, then what difference does it make which Authoritarian Rulers are dictating the conditions in which we live???

After all, it is more than a century since Lord Acton uttered his famous words -- “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

This principle has been proved true in zillions of academic experiments.

So no matter how benign our Intelligence Services appear at the moment, they will soon commit atrocities both vis-à-vis individuals and vis-à-vis large groups.

Is my position influenced by my age???

Yes, someone aged 75 doesn’t have that much time left to suffer any adverse consequences from disbanding our Intelligence Services.

Or from the adverse consequences of NOT disbanding our Intelligence Services.

[Though both my parents lived into their 90’s WITHOUT exercising, so my psychological mind-set is that I “still have 25 years to roll”!!!]
johnkarls
 
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Re: Meeting Report

Postby GeorgeKunath » Tue May 16, 2017 9:09 am

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----- Original Message -----
From: George Kunath
To: John Karls
Cc:
Sent: Tues, 16 May 2017 8:37 am EDT
Subject: May 10 Meeting Report

Dear John,

IAW the invitation in the third paragraph of your May 10 Meeting Report for other participants to post their comments, as the other attorney in attendance (at least via Skype) I can attest that your report was fair and accurate.

**********
George Orwell’s Focus in 1984 on Authoritarian/Stalinist Regimes in Communist China As Well As the Soviet Union

In addition to your Meeting Report, we discussed the following e-mail during yesterday’s weekly multi-hour gabfest that we have had for the last 29 years since we were partners in NYC.

First, your description in the first portion of the e-mail about what happened at the meeting is fair and accurate.

Second, re your comments that Erich Fromm probably referred to both the Soviet Union and Communist China in discussing the common perception that George Orwell’s 1984 was describing Authoritarian/Stalinist Regimes in both the Soviet Union and Communist China, I can confirm that Erich Fromm repeatedly cited both the Soviet Union and Communist China as his two examples of Authoritarian/Stalinist Regimes each of the many times he referenced such regimes.

With respect to your “Additional Post-Meeting Explanation,” I am not in a position to comment because they relate to your reading (in addition to your “day job” as an attorney) approximately 500 historical tomes and biographies during your 33 years of marriage to the co-author of the nation’s leading high-school world-history textbook for the purpose of presenting to your wife important but overlooked nuggets for possible inclusion in the next of the 6 editions that her textbook underwent during your marriage.

[And/or the approximately 250 historical tomes and biographies you have read since your marriage ended 16.5 years ago.]

However, during our 29 years of weekly multi-hour gabfests, I have never known you to make a mistake with regard to such matters.

Your friend,

George Kunath


----- Original Message -----
From: John Karls
To: [Name Redacted]
Cc:
Sent: Mon, 15 May 2017 1:30 pm EDT
Subject: Your Comments Re 1984 and The Chinese Communists

Dear [Name Redacted],

Just trying to fill time before my NYC flight and recalled your repeated comments at our RL meeting last Wednesday about how Orwell did not “write” 1984 until 1948 and, therefore, he could not have done so with any insight into the character of the Communist Chinese Regime.

Yes, I had no quarrel with your statement about when 1984 was written.

And yes, as mentioned at the meeting, much of the background about the common perception that 1984 was influenced by both Stalinism in the Soviet Union and the character of the Communist Chinese Regime, came from the 13-page Erich Fromm essay at the end of the Signet paperback version of 1984.

Unfortunately, I cannot cite “chapter and verse” for Erich Fromm’s comments because I had already returned my library copy of 1984 before the meeting (I couldn’t lay my hands on my ancient copy and didn’t want to buy a new one).

Though it is entirely possible that my memory of what Erich Fromm said about the common perception that 1984 was influenced by, and a description of, Stalinist regimes was faulty about whether Fromm’s comments extended to the Communist Chinese Regime.

HOWEVER, I did make quite a point at the meeting about how the Communist Chinese Regime had been in existence for more than 15 years at the time Orwell wrote 1984, and its authoritarian character had long since been “etched in stone.”

INDEED, I made quite a point about how during World War II, the Communist Chinese Regime and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists had been pushed into TWO DIFFERENT remote areas of China and had pointed out that Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists were just over the border from Burma from which Vinegar Joe Stillwell’s Flying Tigers “flew the hump” to supply Chiang and keep the Nationalists from annihilation.

**********
Additional Post-Meeting Explanation

The 1931 “Rape of China” (though sometimes conflated with the 1937-38 “Rape of Nanking”) actually began with the invasion/occupation of Manchuria.

[I have often been flummoxed by why Western historians seem to treat Manchuria as, somehow, NOT part of China for purposes of when the “rape” began because, after all, the Manchus ruled all of China 1644-1912 so why should anyone have the gall to claim that their province was not part of China???]

BTW American “McCarthyism” was based on the Q “who lost China.”

You might be amused by my answer – Chiang Kai-shek in 1934-35!!!

Because instead of fighting the Japanese over their invasion of China, he chose to fight the Chinese Communists instead.

“The Long March” was the 1934-35 military retreat of the Red Army of The Communist Party of China covering 5,600 miles in 370 days.

So, of course, when the Japanese noticed Chiang chasing the PRC Army to NORTH-Western China (just across the border from Stalin’s Soviet Union), of course they would “occupy the vacuum” left behind.

[I don’t have time to “chase the rabbit” of whether this vacuum was the reference in the original maxim “Nature Hates A Vacuum” though I suspect not, because that would be conflating Japan with Mother Nature.]

And the Japanese chasing Chiang chasing the PRC Army resulted in Chiang’s Nationalists, in short order, being pinned by the Japanese against the Burmese border in SOUTH-Western China.

BTW, Chiang (and Madame Chiang who was a graduate of Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley College and often spoke there when my ex-wife was an under-graduate 1963-67) often CLAIMED both before and after their final defeat in 1949 by the Communists that they CORRECTLY recognized in 1931 that the REAL LONG-TERM OPPONENT was the Communists rather than the Japanese!!!

HOWEVER, following V-J Day (9/2/1945) the two opponents came out of their respective corners of China to renew THE CHINESE CIVIL WAR and it only took 4 years for the Communists to prevail.

NONETHELESS, I would submit that both the PRC and the Nationalists had still ruled vast areas of China for more than 15 years as of V-J Day. And that the PRC’s vast area became increasingly more vast until Chiang was forced to leave for Taiwan.

ACCORDINGLY, I do NOT accept your implication that the PRC did not exist until Chiang’s last boat departed for Taiwan. And that the authoritarian character of the PRC since the early 1930’s was not only well established, but also well-known.

**********
Conclusion

Although I do not, at the moment, have time to dig out some of the old historical tomes I have read about the Chinese Communists during the 1930’s, I would suggest to you that the character of the Chinese Communist Party as Stalinist/Authoritarian was well established -- and would certainly have been known by George Orwell.

[The reference to “during the 1930’s” does not refer to when I read the tomes since even I am not that old.]

However, I would be interested in any reactions you might have so far.

Your friend,

John K.
GeorgeKunath
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