21 February 2010

The Argall in our Beloved Leaders

Okay, so here's the reality...I guess. In an earlier post I said, Ho Hum, we murder and massacre, plunder and pillage etc., and that torture, or the callous attitude toward the "not us" or towards the object of our aggression is of course nothing new.

So I've begun (per my usual mode, "beginning" will likely be the most I do) a book by Nathan Miller called The Founding Finaglers (buy it--donate to the school library--it appears to be out-of-print but there are used copies available. Mine came from the Great Neck Library in NY--shame on them to withdraw it!). Immediately we learn that exploration and discovery and "founding" is done by Pirates, Joint-Stock companies and suckers (folks who believed the "new world" had waterfalls of gold around every river bend--folks who do the hard work of sailing a ship and "living" in a strange land and climate, folks who battle "savages" and lose). Anyway, what we find out is that graft is the law of the land in England and graft will be the law of land in the Land of Liberty. In other words, public servants were not paid enough by the Crown, perennially broke, but did do quite well selling their good favor to petitioners. Ta da...American Politics, 101.

And that brings me to this post's title--Samuel Argall, Deputy Governor and Admiral General of Jamestown, "was the first to bring to the New World the principles of graft and corruption that had long been basic to almost every form of public endeavor in England and throughout Europe." Basically, this man simply used Jamestown as a port to raid coastal settlements. He even "stole" Pocahontas (four years after the mythic trial and saving of Captain John Smith) in order to leverage "trade" and security with the Powhatan tribe. He never traded her back--she stayed in Jamestown, converted to Christianity, married, went to England with Argall and her husband where she died while anchored in a ship awaiting a fair wind to return to Jamestown. (Now there's a cautionary tale.)

Argall, having proven a man of ready capacity to "freeboot" was promoted to deputy governor of Virginia--and he begins again to plunder with little interest in his actual "duty" to his charges. The colony suffers, the Virginia Company turns out to have kept little to no record of who paid in as a stockholder and things get messy. Argall has left (very wealthy after a raid on a Spanish fleet in Bermuda)--and as he has become wealthy and known he is Knighted. Finally King James, "exasperated by the constant bickering" of the Virginia Company's principals, dissolves the corporation and names Argall (the source of mismanagement and lack of return--but to himself) to the commission to "devise a royal government for the colony." Fox, meet hen house, enjoy.

Um...Hank Paulson, hello. Tim Geithner, hello. Of course, simply track the course of any government official who has been around the block and it seems to me that all of them are simply re-fashioned, re-packaged, and sold to us again as astute managers of our brave new NEW World. Just trace some names backwards...pick one out of a hat. (Try General Barry McCaffrey--it's fun...enjoy his "drug" bona fides. It's a mess though, so roll up the cuffs of your pants.)

See, there is, after all, nothing new under the sun. And what we are doing now is completely in line with our historical "genetics". Our "leaders" are pirates; our "commissioners" are only interested in their own wealth. You are chattel slaves in this narrative fed the "dream" of wealth and eternal life.

Long live the gullible people as we struggle to live free and brave in order to pursue our very simple-minded happiness (the happiness allowed to us by our masters).

1 comment:

  1. Interesting idea about being fed a dream. I think in order for us, as a country, to tell ourselves a different story we'd need to lose some of our power globally. Maybe this is the best thing for the moral stance of our country, for someone else to step in and say "Fuck you, that's not yours."