Lebensraum” was what Adolf Hitler claimed pre-W.W.II Germany needed… literally “room to live,” in fact “room to expand” … i.e., to invade and take over its neighbors.

Now, Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, seems to think the G8 meeting in his unfair city needs “room to live.” And after a certain amount of arm-twisting, the Chicago City Council agrees with him. There are requirements of permits and fees to protest, permits for signs big enough to require more than one person to carry, and a couple of what are being called “sit down and shut up” ordinances, obviously aimed at Occupy Chicago and one other group calling itself CAN-G8. Both groups were prevented in toto from attending the City Council meeting at which the ordinances were debated. How were they prevented? City of Chicago employees, using their employee IDs, filled most of the audience seats in council chambers, while police prevented Occupy members from entering. All in accordance with the First Amendment, of course… free speech, assembly and petition all assured. [/snark]

The ACLU is of course on the case. Why am I not confident of a satisfactory resolution? Could it be that Rahm thinks his opponents are, and I quote him, “fucking retards” and plans to treat them like asylum inmates of earlier centuries?

Why does the 1968 Democratic National Convention keep coming into my mind? Yes, of course, I’m old enough to remember that… one of the darkest times in the history of Chicago.

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  • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Thursday January 19, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Great parallel Steve!

    Fr. Ratzel, in his Politische Geographie (published 1897) first used the concept “lebensraum” and accordingly described the state as ‘a living body which has extended itself over a part of the Earth and has differentiated itself from other bodies which have similarly expanded’. The object of these extensions and expansions was always ‘the conquest of space’, and it was this that became formalized in the concept of lebensraum (‘living space’): ‘the geographical area within which living organisms develop’.
    Ratzel was keenly aware of the dangers of organicism, but even so insisted that: ‘Just as the struggle for existence in the plant and animal world always centres about a matter of space, so the conflicts of nations are in great part only struggles for territory’.
    The term was developed by the Geopolitik school and partially adopted by the Nazis to justify the extension of the borders of the German state eastwards for the benefit of Germans and at the expense of the Slavs, who were represented as inferior and ‘unworthy’ of the territory.Territorial expansion was represented as a ‘natural’ consequence of the survival of the fittest (social darwinism).

    (as my subscription problem goes on, I discovered that I have to ‘log in’ in order to subscribe to every WP blog. Then, I have to search in my ‘history’ for ‘Blogs I Follow’. It mahst me yahoo.fr..)

    • Steve  On Thursday January 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

      Enfant, my late father tells me I was almost a Chicago child, and would have been born there except for his getting a job in Houston when he came back from W.W. II. When I finally visited Chicago on my fiftieth birthday trip, I was in awe of it. But I was seeing it with the eyes of a tourist. I have since realized I could never thrive in a city that would elect Rahm Emanuel as mayor. Houston has had better mayors and worse mayors, but none as devoted to raw political power to the exclusion of everything else as the Daleys and Emanuel. It’s not for me, thank you.

      I am sorry your subscription problem continues.

  • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Thursday January 19, 2012 at 2:46 am

    To Posterity, Bertolt Brecht (translated by H. R. Hays)

    Indeed I live in the dark ages!
    A guileless word is an absurdity. A smooth forehead betokens
    A hard heart. He who laughs
    Has not yet heard
    The terrible tidings.

    Ah, what an age it is
    When to speak of trees is almost a crime
    For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
    And he who walks calmly across the street,
    Is he not out of reach of his friends
    In trouble?

    It is true: I earn my living
    But, believe me, it is only an accident.
    Nothing that I do entitles me to eat my fill.
    By chance I was spared. (If my luck leaves me
    I am lost.)

    They tell me: eat and drink. Be glad you have it!
    But how can I eat and drink
    When my food is snatched from the hungry
    And my glass of water belongs to the thirsty?
    And yet I eat and drink.

    I would gladly be wise.
    The old books tell us what wisdom is:
    Avoid the strife of the world
    Live out your little time
    Fearing no one
    Using no violence
    Returning good for evil —
    Not fulfillment of desire but forgetfulness
    Passes for wisdom.
    I can do none of this:
    Indeed I live in the dark ages!


    I came to the cities in a time of disorder
    When hunger ruled.
    I came among men in a time of uprising
    And I revolted with them.
    So the time passed away
    Which on earth was given me.

    I ate my food between massacres.
    The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
    And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
    I looked upon nature with impatience.
    So the time passed away
    Which on earth was given me.

    In my time streets led to the quicksand.
    Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
    There was little I could do. But without me
    The rulers would have been more secure. This was my hope.
    So the time passed away
    Which on earth was given me.


    You, who shall emerge from the flood
    In which we are sinking,
    Think —
    When you speak of our weaknesses,
    Also of the dark time
    That brought them forth.

    For we went,changing our country more often than our shoes.
    In the class war, despairing
    When there was only injustice and no resistance.

    For we knew only too well:
    Even the hatred of squalor
    Makes the brow grow stern.
    Even anger against injustice
    Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
    Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
    Could not ourselves be kind.

    But you, when at last it comes to pass
    That man can help his fellow man,
    Do no judge us
    Too harshly.

    • Steve  On Thursday January 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Very moving… Brecht almost always is. In high school I remember reading the play Draußen vor der Tür; I had a truly exceptional German teacher… even today I can still read a little of the language, though time and disuse have dulled my skills.

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