Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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November 23, 2017

Remembering the Ten Days that Shook Thanksgiving



To pick up on the thread of TiR’s previous (and as always, pointless) post:

This month’s 100-year anniversary enables the further ruthless interrogation of this blog’s (pointless) namesake proposition, with another dive into the historical record.

. . . Especially to attempt to answer further the question:  Why exactly did it all kick off, anyway? 

Was it the desire for bread? 

For peace?

For freedom? 


Of could there have been some other, heretofore overlooked factor??


TiR leaves it to the reader to decide that last question, by means of the below VI quotes – each from throughout that crucial year exactly a century ago, presented chronologically.   Perhaps the attentive reader will detect a certain recurring, drumbeat theme.

Each quote reproduced guaranteed 100% verbatim – TiR    a s s u r e s    you.   





The following is an absolute secret. Please reply to me immediately and, perhaps, best by express (I think we won’t ruin the Party OR ITS THANKSGIVING (EDIT: TOO LATE ON THE LATTER) by a dozen extra express letters), so that I can be sure no one has read the letter.




However, it was not our impatience, nor our wishes, but the objective conditions created by the imperialist war that brought the whole of humanity to an impasse, that placed it in a dilemma: either allow the destruction of more millions of lives and utterly ruin European civilization AND BY EXTENSION ITS THANKSGIVING, or hand over power in all the civilised countries to the revolutionary proletariat, carry through the socialist revolution.




The least confidence in this respect either in Milyukov or in Kerensky (an empty chatterer, an agent of the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie in his objective role) would be simply ruinous for the working-class movement and for our Party AND FOR OUR THANKSGIVING.




The masses must be made to see that Blancism is ruining THANKSGIVING and will utterly ruin the further success of the revolution UNTIL IT EVEN MORE CLOSELY RESEMBLES THANKSGIVING IN THIS RESPECT.





It’s all talk! Talk, flattery of the revolutionary people, is the only thing that has ruined all revolutions AND ALL THANKSGIVINGS. . . . This point of view spells ruin for socialism, AND  EVEN THE MOST UNLETTERED PEASANTS  KNOW THAT TO SPELL “RUIN” IS EFFECTIVELY ALSO TO SPELL “THANKSGIVING.”

Report at a meeting of Bolshevik Delegates to the All-Russia Conference of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies”




All countries are on the brink of ruin (OVER THE BRINK OF WHICH ALREADY HAVE FALLEN THEIR THANKSGIVINGS); people must realise this; there is no way out except through a socialist revolution.




The present war, therefore, has brought humanity to an impasse and placed it on the brink of ruin, AND IF IT PLUMMETS OVER THAT BRINK, WHAT WILL IT FIND THERE WAITING?  PRECISELY THIS: THANKSGIVING.

From The Seventh All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(Bolshevik)




Small and middle enterprises are being squeezed out and THEIR THANKSGIVINGS ARE BEING ruined at a faster rate than ever.




Before the revolution the land belonged to the landowners. That was not called anarchy. And what did that lead to?  It led to a break-down all along the line, to “anarchy” in the fullest sense of the word, i.e., to the utter ruin of the country’S THANKSGIVING, WHICH IN THIS RESPECT WAS REFLECTED IN the ruin of the majority of population.




What started this war, what is it being waged for?  . . .They are carving up colonies and seizing territories in the Balkans and in Turkey -- and for this the European peoples must be ruined AS BADLY AS IS THEIR THANKSGIVING, for this we must die, for this we must witness the ruin OF THANKSGIVING (IF WITNESS IT WE DARE), NOT TO MENTION, starvation and death of our families.




Economic AND THANKSGIVING-RELATED ruin, crisis, the horrors of war, an impasse from which there is no way out—this is what the capitalists have brought all the nations to.




The old division was based on the fact that Britain, in the course of several centuries, had ruined THE THANKSGIVINGS OF her former competitors. . . . This rapid development of capitalism in Germany was the development of a young strong predator, who appeared in the concert of European powers and said: “You ruined THANKSGIVING! ALONG WITH Holland, you defeated France, you have helped yourself to half the world now be good enough to let us have our fair share.”




To cloak an unpleasant truth with a deceptive phrase is most harmful and most dangerous to the cause of the proletariat, to the cause of the toiling masses. The truth, however bitter, must be faced squarely. A policy that does not meet this requirement is a ruinous policy AND BY “POLICY” WE NON-DECEPTIVELY MEAN “THANKSGIVING.”




The alternatives are either utter ruin OF, YOU GUESSED IT, THANKSGIVING or a revolution against the capitalists. That is how the question stands. That is how the very trend of events poses it.




“The country’S THANKSGIVING today is heading for ruin,” says Izvestia’s editorial. Correct. For that very reason it would be unwise today to rely on the conciliatory policy of the petty bourgeoisie, the Narodniks and the Mensheviks, with regard to the capitalists. The country cannot be saved from ruin in that way – NOR, YOU FINE NARODNIKS AND MENSHEVIKS, CAN ITS THANKSGIVING!




Without universal labour service, the country cannot be saved from THE INEVITABLE ruin OF ITS THANKSGIVING . . . Every person is bound to stand for such measures if he really wishes to save tens of millions OF THANKSGIVINGS from ruin and disaster.




Socialists are out to make only the landowners and capitalists “abdicate”. To deal a decisive blow at those who are defying the people the way the colliery owners are doing when they disrupt and ruin production, IF YOU COULD CALL IT THAT, OF THANKSGIVING, it is sufficient to make a few hundred, at the most one or two thousand, millionaires, bank and industrial and commercial bosses, “abdicate” their property rights.




It’s like a madhouse, with the capitalists acting in collusion with the bourgeois section of the Provisional Government (among the members of which are Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), with the capitalists using obstruction and wrecking tactics, and doing nothing to ship their products, without which the country is facing ruin – AS HAS ALREADY FACED THANKSGIVING, WHICH, CONSEQUENTLY AND TO REPEAT, WILL FEEL THAT IT’S LIKE A MADHOUSE.




The masses will learn from their own experience. The sad experience of the new stage of the war (a stage already begun), of further ruin OF THANKSGIVING (AND WE SAY “FURTHER” BECAUSE, THE EXPERIENCE OF THE MASSES IS THAT IT ALREADY IS), accentuated by the offensive, will inevitably lead to the political downfall of the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties.



Fall 1917:

The government violates the law by adopting, in the interests, of the rich, the landowners and capitalists, a measure which ruins the whole business of control AND THE WHOLE BUSINESS OF THANKSIVING, food supply and the stabilisation of the extremely shaky finances.

The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It: Government Disruption of the Work of the Democratic Organisations”




These words contain the most thoughtless, the most monstrous untruth concerning the most important Issue of the revolution, an untruth, moreover, which has most often been put about, in vastly differing countries, among the petty-bourgeois democrats and has ruined the greatest number of revolutions AND THE ENTIRE NUMBER OF THANKSGIVINGS.




The revolutionary proletariat would never do anything worthwhile in the Soviet as long as the Tseretelis were allowed proportional participation; to let them in meant depriving ourselves of the opportunity to work, it meant the ruin of Soviet work AND OF THANKSGIVING.  THANKS A BUNCH, TSERETELIS!




There is not the slightest doubt that at the "top" of our Party there are noticeable vacillations that may CAUSE THANKSGIVING EVEN MORE COMPLETELY TO become ruinous, because the struggle is developing; under certain conditions, at a certain moment, vacillations may ruin the cause OF THANKSGIVING EVEN MORE THAN IT IS.




If even the experience of the Kornilov revolt has taught the "democrats" nothing, and they continue the destructive policy of vacillation and compromise, we say that nothing is more ruinous to the THANKSGIVING OF THE proletarian revolution than these vacillations.




The Bolsheviks would be traitors to the peasants, for to tolerate the suppression of the peasant revolt by a government which even Dyelo Naroda compares with the Stolypin government would be to ruin THANKSGIVING AND EVEN the whole revolution, to ruin it, AND BY “IT” WE OF COURSE MEAN THE PEASANTS’ THANKSGIVING,  for good . . . For it is my profound conviction that if we "wait" for the Congress of Soviets and let the present moment pass, we shall ruin the revolution AS COMPLETELY AS IF IT WERE THANKSGIVING.




If the Bolsheviks were to yield in any form and in the slightest degree to the philistine stupidity of this argument they would ruin their Party, THEIR THANKSGIVING (WE MEAN: EVEN FURTHER, WHICH WOULD BE THE VERY DEFINITION OF PHILISTINE STUPIDITY) and the revolution. . . . That is why I say that if the Bolsheviks were to give in to these moods they would ruin both their Party and their revolution AND THEIR THANKSGIVING, NOT THAT MY WRITING STYLE IS REPETITIOUS OR ANYTHING.




War and THANKSGIVING’S economic ruin have forced all countries to advance from monopoly capitalism to state monopoly capitalism. This is the objective state of affairs.




We must admit that unless the Kerensky government is overthrown by the proletariat and the soldiers in the near future the revolution is ruined, AS IS THANKSGIVING, TO WHICH KERENSKY WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INVITED ANYWAY.




The people will not allow the rich to ruin THANKSGIVING ANY MORE THAN IT ALREADY IS, NOR the cause of peace they uphold.

“Draft Of A Manifesto To The Peasantry: From The Second All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Peasants’ Deputies”




The imperialist war, the war between the biggest and richest banking firms, Britain and Germany, that is being waged for world domination, the division of the spoils, for the plunder of small and weak nations; this horrible, criminal war has ruined THANKSGIVING EVEN MORE CONSISTENTLY, RESOLUTELY AND DECISIVELY THAN WAS PREVIOUSLY THE CASE, ALONG WITH all countries.




This is the way of the bourgeois intelligentsia, of all conciliators, who ruin everything, WHICH LOGICALLY ENCOMPASSES THANKSGIVING, with their constant agreement in principle and disagreement in practice. . . . The adoption of the decree is urgent, otherwise opposition and sabotage will ruin us – AND YOU KNOW WHAT WE WOULD THEN BE EXACTLY LIKE? THANKSGIVING. (Stormy applause.)

“Speech On The Nationalisation Of The Banks: Delivered At A Meeting Of The All-Russia Central Executive Committee




The war, brought about by the conflict between capitalists for the division of the spoils of depredation, has resulted in untold ruin OF THANKSGIVING, WHICH, WHILE “UNTOLD,” DOES NOT EXCLUDE THE LIKELIHOOD THAT I WILL WRITE ABOUT IT AT GREAT LENGTH.



The world-historical implications of the above discoveries are obvious and, of course, staggering.






October 31, 2017

Return of the blockheads

. . . of the “philosophical blockheads,” of course.

. . .  discussed in this work, and last mentioned here a dozen years ago, herein.

Given now here comes upon us the 100th anniv of da big trowdown, what is there to do but to read all of VI’s books, in order, in their entirety?

Thus below, TiR hereby presents: 

Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy (1909):  the funniest passages.

(page references to the edition from the always fetish-worthy, cream-covered series published by the Foreign Language Press of Peking (1972))

Well, well, the titmouse first promised to set the sea on fire . . . i.e., to construct physical elements from psychical elements.

(pg. 62)

To the mouse no beast is stronger than the cat.  To the Russian Machians there is no materialist stronger than Plehkhanov.

(pg. 90)

The Russian Machians will soon be like fashion-lovers who are moved to ecstasy over a hat which has already been discarded by the bourgeois philosophers of Europe.

(pg. 99)

Engels has been treated à la Mach, fried and served with a Machian sauce.  But take care you do not choke, worthy cooks!

(pg. 124)

It is true that not only is the wildest dream a fact, but also the wildest philosophy.  No doubt of this is possible after an acquaintance with the philosophy of Ernst Mach.

(pg. 156)

Clad like a harlequin in a garish motley of shreds of the ‘latest’ terminology, there stands before us a subjective idealist, for who the external world, nature and its laws are all symbols of our knowledge.

(pg. 193)

Lunacharshky says, ‘. . . a wonderful page of religious economics, I say this at the risk of provoking a smile from the irreligious reader.’ However good your intentions may be, Comrade Lunacharsky, it is not a smile, but disgust your flirtation with religion provokes.

(pg. 218)

They read it and they copied it, but they did not make head or tail of it.

(pg. 219)

. . . Hegelian dialectics -- that pearl which those farmyard cocks, the Büchners, the Dührings and Co. (as well as Leclair, Mach, Avenarius and so forth), could not pick out from the dungheap of absolute idealism.

(pg. 289)

And, it goes without saying, where there is a muddle there you will find Machians.

(pg. 292)

. . . from the standpoint of the materialists it is a dispute between a man who believes in a yellow devil and a man who believes in a green devil.  For the important thing is not the differences between Bogdanov and the other Machians, but what they have in common.

(pgs. 326-27)

But five pages later the founder of recent empirio-symbolism declares: ‘Everything that is not thought is pure nothing, since we can think nothing but thought.’ You are wrong, M. Poincaré: your works prove that there are people who can think what is entirely devoid of thought. 

(pg. 351)

However, in spite of the fact that his main line of ‘endeavour’ lies in the borderland between philosophy and the police department, Mr. Lopatin has also furnished certain material for a characterisation of the epistemological views of this idealist physicist [N. I. Shishkin].

(pg. 361)

Just fancy, one can, like an apothecary, weigh out a little more or a little less relativism and thus save Machism!

(pg. 373)

The man is hammering at an open door! --  will be the thought of the Marxist when he reads the lengthy disquisitions on this subject.

(pg. 375)

And if our Machians renounce [Franz] Blei (as they surely will), we shall tell them: You must not blame the mirror for showing a crooked face. Blei is a mirror which accurately reflects the fundamental tendencies of empirio-criticism. . .

(pgs. 385-86)

A single claw ensnared, and the bird is lost. And our Machians have all become ensnared in idealism.

(pg. 420)

It was amusing to see how -- perhaps for the first time in their lives -- the eyes of these mummies, dried and shrunken in the atmosphere of lifeless scholasticism, began to gleam and their cheeks to glow under the slaps which [Ernst] Haeckel [author of The Riddle of the Universe, 1899] administered them.  The high-priests of pure science, and, it would appear, of the most abstract theory, fairly groaned with rage.

(pg. 424)

Here’s the 2nd funniest passage:

The reader is probably fuming at us for quoting at such length this incredibly trivial rigamarole, this quasi-scientific tomfoolery decked out in the terminology of Avenarius.  But wer den Feind will versthehen muß in Feindes Lande gehen -- who would know the enemy must go into the enemy’s territory.

(pg. 383)

And TiR here presents the top funniest passage of all:

A man in a dark room may discern objects dimly, but if he does not stumble over the furniture and does not walk into a looking-glass instead of through a door, it means that he sees some things correctly.

(pg. 331)

Hilarious . . .  no?

September 30, 2017


John Ashbery’s greatest interview ever?


TiR thinks it is this one, from the Paris Review, 1983.


Some of TiR’s favorite quotes from it:



Susan Sontag was at this writers' conference also—there were just four of us—and one night in Warsaw we were provided with tickets to a ballet. I said, “Do you think we should go? It doesn't sound like it will be too interesting.” And she said, “Sure, we should go. If it is boring that will be interesting too” —which turned out to be the case.


It's rather hard to be a good artist and also be able to explain intelligently what your art is about. In fact, the worse your art is, the easier it is to talk about, at least I would like to think so. [quoting himself in 1964]


One can accept a Picasso woman with two noses, but an equivalent attempt in poetry baffles the same audience.


I think that any true work of art does defuse criticism; if it left anything important to be said, it wouldn't be doing its job.


I think I am trying to reproduce the polyphony that goes on inside me, which I don't think is radically different from that of other people. After all, one is constantly changing one's mind and thereby becoming something slightly different.


I feel that poetry is going on all the time inside, an underground stream. One can let down one's bucket and bring the poem back up. (This is very well put in a passage that occurs early on in Heimito von Doderer's novel The Demons, which I haven't to hand at the moment.)


TiR has alluded to that last “bucket” quote, 12 years ago.  Should have foreseen that the great blog of poet John Latta, several years after that, would do the wonderful job of finding and posting the passage from von Doderer, here.


And of course, maybe the most charming quote:


I try to dress in a way that is just slightly off, so the spectator, if he notices, will feel slightly bemused but not excluded, remembering his own imperfect mode of dress.


Yes, JA really did dress like that.


It pains us to have to resort to the same phrase, twice in less than a year: 


Sigh, we shall never see his like again.

August 31, 2017
Just what is "the new punk" nowadays?
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candidates include:
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[Question # 2:
How may candidate answers are there to the inquiry:
"Is TiR unafraid to hurl itself headlong into the abyss of stupid self parody?" 
Answer: One 


July 31, 2017
Why you've never seen an interview with the Pope's mom

What TiR's pointless notes reflect it to have been wondering about two years ago at about this time:

Are Popes allowed to have living parents?

TiR's provisional answer:  No.


Pope Francis 

Became Pope in 2013

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936 in Flores, a barrio of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest of five children of Mario José Bergoglio, an Italian immigrant accountant born in Portacomaro (Province of Asti) in Italy's Piedmont region, and his wife Regina María Sívori, a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin.

father died:  1958
On March 11, 1958, Jorge entered the Society of Jesus. After a brief preparation in Córdoba, Jorge traveled to Santiago, Chile, where he entered the novitiate. The following year he experienced the first great bereavement of his life when his father died of a sudden heart attack. His mother now had four children to look after and was unable to call on Jorge for assistance.

mother (born 1911) died:  1981?


No living parents when became Pope.


Became Pope in 2005.
He was the third and youngest child of Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., a police officer, and his wife, Maria (née Peintner), whose family were from South Tyrol.

father died: 1959

mother died: 1963


No living parents when became Pope.


Became Pope in 1978
Karol Józef Wojtyła was born in the Polish town of Wadowice. He was the youngest of three children born to Karol Wojtyła (1879-1941), an ethnic Pole, and Emilia Kaczorowska (1884-1929), whose mother's maiden surname was Scholz.


No living parents when became Pope.


Became Pope in 1978.
He was the son of Giovanni Luciani (1872?-1952), a bricklayer, and Bortola Tancon (1879?-1948).


No living parents when became Pope.

Paul VI:

Became Pope in 1963.
His father Giorgio Montini was a lawyer, journalist, director of the Catholic Action and member of the Italian Parliament. His mother was Giudetta Alghisi, from a family of rural nobility.

father died: 1943

mother died: 1943


No living parents when became Pope.


Became Pope in 1958

He was the eldest son of Giovanni Battista Roncalli (1854 - July 1935) and his wife Marianna Giulia Mazzolla (1855 - 20 February 1939).


No living parents when became Pope.

Pius XII:

Became Pope in 1939
His parents were Filippo Pacelli (1837-1916) and Virginia (née Graziosi) Pacelli (1844-1920).


No living parents when became Pope.

Pius XI:

Became Pope in 1922
Achille Ratti was born in Desio, in the province of Milan, in 1857, the son of an owner of a silk factory.

father (Francesco Ratti) died: 1881

mother (Teresa (Galli) Ratti) died: 1918


No living parents when became Pope.

Benedict XV:

Became Pope in 1914
third son of Marchese Giuseppe della Chiesa and his wife Marchesa Giovanna Migliorati

Conclusion: ?? (no info found)

Pius X:

Became Pope in 1903
He was the second born of ten children of Giovanni Battista Sarto (1792-1852) and Margarita Sanson (1813-94).


No living parents when became Pope.


Became Pope in 1878
. . .  he was the sixth of the seven sons of Count Ludovico Pecci and his wife Anna Prosperi Buzzi.

Conclusion: ?? (no info found)

How far back does one need to go?

On the other hand, we have this (youngest Popes, between ages 11 and 24).
These folks probably had extant parents.

Is there some kind of secret rule about this?  If you want to be Pope, do you have to wait for your parents to die?  Did history's more corrupt candidates kill them?   

We may never know.