Prof. Bettany Hughes Marx Nietzsche Freud

I enjoy watching Professor Bettany Hughes.  She normally covers the ancient world, but in this case she did three episodes in the 19th Century.  The common element?  All three were German speakers, Karl Marx, Freidrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud.  

    The first episode was Karl Marx.  Marx learned his agitating from his father, who idolized Napoleon.  The main thing Marx seemed to learn was being an agitator, when he went to University, where, this being Prussia, he got himself into a duel.  Marx was well off, but not part of the Prussian Juncker Aristocracy.  He was going to get in trouble in Prussia sooner or later.  He eventually fled to Paris, with his family, where he got in trouble, then to Brussels, where he had to sign papers saying he wouldn’t agitate, though he didn’t keep to it, then eventually to England, with his new lifelong friend who he met in Paris Freidrich Engels.  Engels was from a family owning mills in Manchester.  I enjoyed the description of Engels in the Wikipedia article.  A radical, who liked his fox hunting and parties.  I wondered if Theresa May could be friends with him.  Today, you would call him a “Champagne Socialist,” or “Limousine Liberal.”  

     Watching this, as a Political Science major, I learned several things:

Both Marx and Engels were professional agitators.  It made me think back to my days at City College of New York, with the Marxist agitators.  I never paid attention to the connection before.  This is how Marxist nations had cadres.  The system was dependent on having professional agitators.  I realized Marx was really a bum, who could write, mainly supported by Engels, who combined his care for the poor with still wanting the life of the rich.  I wonder what would’ve happened to him, if he was in Russia for the Boleshevik victory.  Think Dr. Zhivago, when he returns to the family home from World War I.  There would have been a party in the house, but not the type Engels enjoyed.  Fox hunting would’ve been out.  

    I read something recently, it might have been BBC Future, and it spoke about Das Kapital, which I had to read in college.  What Marx got right was it depended on who controlled the means of production.  Engels in his factory controlled the means of production.  

Yes, in my life would I like to be paid more.  Having said that, I also know at a certain point as a worker, I will price myself out of a job.  If Engels was generous with his workers, how far could he go, without going out of business?  Also, he should be able to enjoy ownership, after all, he provided the means and put his all into it.  What Marxism seems to be saying is “Congratulations, to your enterpreneurship, now hand it over to the people,” the people being whoever the leadership designates.  The article stated that in some ways your “Marxist” states were capitalism run by bureaucrats.  Probably your remaining Marxist university professors would say the same thing.  

     Social class took hold for Marx in the University of Bonn, him against the Prussian Junkers.  So class was everything.  The lower classes could be uppity to their betters.   When the Prussian authorities shut down Marx’s newspaper, it was like the movie Robin Hood, when the Sheriff of Nottingham says, “You’ve come to Nottingham Castle once too often.”

When Marx gets to Paris, Prof. Hughes discusses the ideas, of property being theft, workers cooperatives, etc.  Marx is a journalist, but also a professional agitator.  Religion as the opiate of the masses?  I just finished binge watching House of Cards.  The Kevin Spacey character Frank Underwood, knows how to give tidbits to the masses.  Speaking with the older ladies in my apartment complex, I realized all I would have to do as a sleazy politician would be protect Social Security & Medicaid, have cookouts and scare people to death by running Fox all the time.

    Some of the kids at work, I might have a different campaign.  In other words, payoffs.

   When she speaks to Professor Angie Hobbs, Professor Hobbs, talks about how Marx saw, the arts, law etc. as weapons of the powerful.  Why later Marxist states worked to control the arts.  Marx praises the “bourgeoisie for creating the advances, but then they are supposed to hand it over.  Again, yeah sure, I say in a sarcastic Brooklyn voice.  To keep your power, you have to provide certain members of the proletariat, with just a touch more power.  Police officers, your army, Ceaucescu in Romania at the end used miners to put down protests, gave them a little more food and better apartments.  I liked the part of Marx moving to the suburbs, bourgeois lifestyle, including dance lessons for the girls.  Can’t forget the niceties for the party theoreticians, lol!  

    The opening of the British Museum Reading Room provided statistics for Marx to use.  

When Professor Hughes states Das Kapital didn’t have the impact Marx had hoped for, I remember reading Das Kapital.  It’s dense, then again, it was translated from German.  Also, the workers he was aiming for, would have had a hard time with it.  Why you needed the agitators to speak to crowds.  As Prof. Hughes stated, Stalin would have sent Marx to the gulag.  My Dad always said, Marxism was like a religious cult in some ways.  Certain people had the word of Marx, and we are going to teach it to you poor benighted workers.  

I grew up knowing people from the Eastern Bloc.  I didn’t need help in disliking the Communist world.  You were always going to have a small corps of activists with the word from above, foisting it on the rest of us.  There’s no way it can not become dogmatic.  Marxist professors can keep saying the Communist states weren’t really Communist, but there is no way for their theoretical Messianic Marxism to come to pass.

    Especially not in the digital age.  I don’t see how.  People who develop digital businesses have power the Manchester mill owner couldn’t even begin to imagine.

    Say for the sake of argument someone leads a group of people and forces Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos from running their companies.  (Seattle would never be the same).  Who among the mob will have the skills to run those companies?  Do you have the “Red vs. Expert,” where the skilled person running the company will constantly have an unskilled Party hack making the decisions?  A Communist takeover in that case can only be violent.  The leaders would have their personal issues, that affect people now.   



  By declaring God dead, everyone could have their own morals, and the freedom comes with a price.  I hated reading Nietzsche in school.  I can see why the Nazis cherry picked his ideas.

I can see why he turned from religion after his pastor father died.   Nietzsche meeting Wagner.  Now there is a combination.  Wagner leading toward the Greek God Dionysus.  Loss of control, German philosophy describing individualism, the suffering going to having a good time in a collective experience, like a rock concert.  Good description, but with Wagner’s Anti-Semitism you can see where extreme German nationalism and Nazism came from.  Nietzsche stormed out of the theater when watching The Ring, hating the elite attending the performance.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  A profound statement professor and something we all have to learn, so we can move on.  We need to scars to grow as people.  Something I learned on my own.  

Thank you, Professor Hughes, for the explanation of Uber Mensch.  It is not how the Nazis took it to mean, but the idea of  one’s own goals.  More like having a coach push you to reach your goals, not a master race.  Or better yet, the Master Race has nothing to do with skin color or ethnicity.  Maybe scientists will find there is a genetic element, but it is not determined by artificial things.

   Professor Gemes and Christianity.  Nietzsche felt Christianity catered to the weak, and didn’t like the idea of compassion.  Another place I can see Nazism growing out of this.  Again, Nietzsche would have been appalled by the Nazis, but he still felt Christianity held humanity back.  As with Marx, another case, where the ideology can be made dogmatic for other reasons.  

Nietzsche’s sister Elizabeth published the works Nietzsche did not want published and she became a Nazi supporter in her old age.  “Evil loves nothing better than a void,”  Professor Hughes said and Germany had the void making the Nazis possible.  Even if Nietzsche had been appalled by the Nazis, it happened that way.  Now the overload I feel Nietzsche predicted is happening.  That is for my next essay, Diary of a Grumpy Old Man.






















    I’m dedicating this part to my glamourous psychologist friend Dr. Rita Pettiford.  Professor Hughes starts out, with how it set up using modern advertising to appeal to people, people speaking about their inner demons.  I will get back to whether he is a charlatan or not later.

His childhood?  A bright young man, seems a bit arrogant.  I learned about Breuer, who used “talking therapy” to get people to say whatever came into their minds.  I like the troubleshooting trying to uncover traumas holding people back.  Breuer stated he cured a woman being afraid to drink water to seeing a dog, drinking out of a master’s class.  Well OK.

Why did Freud see sex as the basic issue?  Seems to be no connection how that started.  They would have had no idea of brain chemistry, or DNA and how it effective people.  His first talk about neurosis, went back to sex.  Monty Python routines come to mind, but on a serious side, much of it makes almost all men become perverts,

At least he was willing to do analysis of his own dreams.  He sees himself as a pioneer, and others would follow.  Learned more about the Freudian slip, with the Austrian politician.  To him the past never went away and had something to push.  

Where did he get the theories of penis envy in women and castration fears in men.  He seemed to be leading to, everyone would become neurotic, and without the talking cure for everyone, it will never be solved.  It makes it sound like all men fear being diminished and all women really want to be men.  Prof. Hughes said even with the clinical attitude, Freud’s colleague Fleiss was right and Freud was reading his own thoughts into the sessions.  A bit like an astrologer or fortune teller.

I can’t comment on the shell shock itself, as I can’t even imagine what these men and women go through.  Freud seemed to get it right about the psychology behind shell shock.  

The Death Drive:  Freud suggesting this that people wanted to undo the bonds of life.  It goes against the idea of self survival.

Id:  Unconscious Death Drive Sex.

Super Ego:  Internal Conscience ideals and moral guardian in conflict with the Id.  

Ego:  The way to manage, not cure the other two.

To Freud you are never really cured.  

I have a hesitation about psychology & the world of shrinks.  My Chemist father taught me science would explain it sooner or later.  (We are getting there through chemistry, brain analysis and DNA).  My real hesitation, (which will be explained in a book I plan to write later), is that as a young child, I was diagnosed with autism and the therapist recommended to my parents institutionalizing me.  My father said no.  Again, going back to Marx and politics how individuals can make a big difference on many people.  Therefore, I admit, I have a bias against Freud.  I try to be open minded but you can understand my feelings.

    I still just can’t figure out how he can make the connections.  

Again Professor Hughes, thank you.






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Rural England is Dangerous

You must think me mad.  Pretty English villages, dangerous?  Sherlock Holmes will tell you they were.  I’m trying to remember which one.  They’re in a railroad compartment, traveling to the countryside.  Dr. Watson comments on how beautiful it is.  Sherlock Holmes grunts and speaks about evil lurking and he would rather be in the meanest East End alley.

If you watch some English mysteries, you could be led to believe Holmes was right.  I’ll cover several.  You can be comforted (maybe) in the fact that the Medieval murder rate in Oxford was higher than anything we can imagine.

Midsomer Murders.  Some nice middle class people, but a bunch of murders keep occurring.  Barnaby is a busy man.  These nice people have a nasty habit of killing each other.

Miss Marple:  Dame Joan Hickson.  This nice sweet senior citizen shows up, and bodies drop.  Can you imagine an FBI profiler suspecting her and drawing her profile?

The Coroner:  One of my favorite shows.  A nice village on England’s West Coast.  Jane Kennedy (played by Claire Goose) returns from London.  She was busier in South Dart.

Y’all think parts of Appalachia or West Baltimore are rough.  Just be careful of those English villages.

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Tucson Sisters in Crime, June 17th, 2017

Today was probably the safest Sisters in Crime meeting around.  The day was police officers and one fireman.  The afternoon was about arson investigation.  Did you know arson is a legal term?  The firemen use, “Human induced fire.”  Arson can only be used, when the police are investigating.

I was curious about types of arsonists.  They think and the books they use state, there’s no such thing as a professional arsonist.  It’s an easy crime to commit.  Most arsonists enjoy the act of the fire and blot out all else.  (I am being general).  I’ve read other things about arson, but want to read the books they mentioned.

The morning session was on Hostage Negotiation  The speaker was Sgt. Ericka Stropka Sgt. Tucson Police Department.  For this, everything she spoke about, I kept thinking of questions.  I’m glad I was able to offer information on cell phones, because I work with them.  Bad habit when hostage takers stream on Facebook what they are doing.  You want to be able to slow the streaming on the phone down, to cut down on the publicity for the bad guy.  She reminds of an old friend of mine, but shorter, shorter hair and a gun.

I felt her flak jacket.  To me not heavy, but on a hot Tucson day, all that equipment?

Most of us understand how delicate hostage negotiating is.  Sgt. Stropka shared a case, where the barricaded person committed suicide.  She only found out later, the victims father was nearby and had prevented him from killing himself before.  The mother said she would be relieved if he did it.  The moral of this story is you need to have as much intelligence as possible.  If they had known about the father, they would’ve used a male negotiator.

On a case, where she shared the audio, you could hear how she spoke with the hostage taker, showing empathy.  She is a very good speaker, (was a communications major at Arizona State University).   I look forward to speaking with her further and asking questions.



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I’m an unabashed Anglophile; from Monty Python to Masterpiece Theater.  As with most people, I’m appalled by what happened in Manchester, on Monday May 22nd, 2017.  

    I live in Tucson, Arizona, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York and lived through 9/11.  Almost sixteen years later, and with many more internet advances, I remember people looking for the missing.  In 2001, it was in Union Square Park in Manhattan.  Today, with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, (I’ve probably left some out).  The images of the missing are everywhere.  There were many more victims of 9/11, but one is one too many.

    I remember the spirit of New York and another city close to my heart, Boston, Massachusetts, after the Boston Marathon bombing four years ago.  (I lived in Boston and married a Bostonian).  I remember the grit of the people, Boston Red Sox players visiting the injured on their sometimes long roads to recovery.  

    I won’t mention the name of the Manchester bomber. A ballroom dancer, who lost a leg in the Boston bombing put it best.  “He didn’t bother to learn my name before he blew me up, so why should I bother to learn his.”  

    I admired the speakers outside Manchester City Hall, speaking to a grieving, but gritty city.  Of course kudos to Paula Robinson, the Angel of Manchester.  Why some people run from danger and some run towards it to save others.  

    Manchester, this Yank stands with you!

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A Golden Carriage for President Trump.

Cinderella had such a carriage, but it became a pumpkin at Midnight.  Queen Elizabeth HAS such a carriage, President Trump wants to ride in it.  British security and palace staff are against this.

President Trump had a good week last week.  I was watching one of my Senators, John McCain saying Trump got the military part right, because he listened to his generals.  The comedy loving part of me could only imagine Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies. Chief Inspector Dreyfus’ assistant, Francois, turns to the Chief Inspector and says, “But what if Clouseau, a complete and utter idiot turns out to be right?”  How many Democratic Party strategists are having the same unnerving thought?

I read President Trump also wants to go to Balmoral.  Long ride in a carriage.  Now for more silliness.  The Queen rides with him in the carriage.  Trump violates the rule of touching Her Majesty.  The President is already angry, because the crowds are booing,  President Trump spins it as, “Look at those record crowds!”  The Queen just smiles.

The carriage takes a side street.  There it is, the Tower of London.  The President thinks it is another place for crowds, and he gets out of the carriage to be greeted by…The Yeoman of the Guard, who with some other Yeoman take him into custody.  The Tower hasn’t had “guests” for many years, but the Queen is making an exception. The Yeoman chop off the Presidents hands for touching the Queen and tweeting.  He is imprisoned, thus increasing the crowds at the Tower.  Will the President lose his head, literally?

Well you got your carriage ride.  You never specified a destination, but left it up to Her Majesty.  Be careful what you wish for and or demand.


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I’m dedicating this to Nancy Sinatra, (yes, Frank Sinatra’s daughter).  I’m a Sinatra fan, and last Saturday watched The Manchurian Candidate for the first time in years.  Nancy has been tweeting heavily about Russia and what’s going on in the Trump Administration, so the Political Science and History major in me thought to add a very basic essay about Russia, with the theme of,  “The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”  That’s a quote from Winston Churchill.  I won’t be able to unravel it, but give a basic historical idea of what makes Russians tick in certain situations.

   Click on Peter Hitchens for some education.  Click on Russian Geography for learning a little more about Russia and its fears.

    The geography is basic.  For the Roman Empire, this was a region they called “The crucible of peoples.”  Ancient groups such as Scythians wandered across the wide open region.  I will start with a silly look as to why Russians as a culture are paranoid.  I’m a baseball fan and am reminded of an interview with the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals star Pepper Martin.  Some sports reporter asked, “Mr. Martin, why do you run so fast?”  The response?  “Well sir, I grew up in Oklahoma, and once you start runnin’ there ain’t nothin’ to stop you.”  Now the punchline.  Could you imagine if it was Usain Bolt?  Don’t want to give Putin any ideas.  Jamaicans don’t want to invade Russia, except for the crazies, who became the Jamaican Bobsled team.  Putin doesn’t need more people to fear, but I digress.

    Geography can be destiny and make people function a certain way.  The point is Russia is wide open and can be invaded on land.  

    When I was a kid, my father told me the two hundred fifty years of Mongol rule created a psychology in the Russian people, they never recovered from and a Russian friend confirmed much of what Dad said.  

    My Dad was a chemist and had Eastern European colleagues and friends.  I learned to dislike the Soviet Union early in life.  Two were like uncles to me.  Marek Krygowski and Piotr Tomasik.  I learned all about living in a Communist state, without having to be there.  My parents did attend professional chemists meetings in the Eastern Bloc, (Mom is a chemist too).

    I got to stay with these gentlemen after the collapse of Communism.  They don’t think highly of Russians.  Members of their families were murdered by Russian soldiers.  They had me looking East toward Russia, with a wary eye.

    My ancestors are originally from what is now Ukraine.  There is a reason Ukraine is in the news.  It was always a borderland.  What Uncles Marek and Piotr kept out of the story was the fact that before Ivan The Terrible was Czar, Poland was stronger than Russia.  Russia had just sent the Mongols packing across the Steppe.

    The Steppe is six thousand miles long, from Budapest to Manchuria.  Different people came and went.  Scythians, Huns, Mongols, Poles, Swedes, Napoleon, Hitler.  The point?  If you have to defend your territory, it’s a heck of a place.

    It’s the old joke about, you may not be paranoid, they really are out to get you.  

    Historically, Russia wanted to reach out to the West, just enough to compete, but didn’t want to have Western Europe “corrupt” them.  A good book to read is Peter the Great, by Robert K. Massie.  Peter dragged Russia kicking and screaming to change in certain modern ways.  His real goal was to protect his empire with that knowledge.  

    What saved Russia from Napoleon and Hitler?  Well they did make it to Moscow, but then miscalculations and something called Winter took over.  I suspect an ancestor of my Dad was a Napoleonic soldier, who got tired of hiking with Napoleon.  A friend reminded me of the Napoleonic quote, “An army marches on its stomach.”  Maybe, my ancestor smelled hot food and seeing as his stomach was dragging in the snow, he fell out of line.

    OK, what does this have to do with Donald Trump?  To start, I need to explain Vladimir Putin.

    Putin grew up hard in St. Petersburg, (called Leningrad in the Soviet era).  He lost an older brother during the German siege of the city.  He joined the KGB, and rose through the ranks, then ending up unemployed in Germany, when his employer, the Soviet Union went out of business.

    What drives Putin is the humiliation he and many Russians feel the West heaped on them with the collapse and loss of many of the old Soviet Republics.  He doesn’t want to rebuild the Soviet model of trying to force an ideology on the world, but rebuild the traditional Russian involvement they feel they need for their protection.

    OK, why would Vladimir Putin interfere in our election?  Well he will interfere in other elections, where he feels he needs to, with tools, he wishes he had in the KGB.  It begins with an intense dislike of Hillary Clinton, from when her husband was President and more so from her term and Secretary of State.  I don’t think he cared at first which Republican won, but I suspect Donald Trump fits the bill the best.  

     Putin has been feeling especially threatened lately by European Union and NATO expansion.  The NATO expansion is knocking on the door, and many other troops from other countries are in Poland and the Baltic States.  This tends to make Russians nervous.  

    In a perfect world, HA HA, Putin would dearly love to reconquer Poland.  Why?  Not out of any ideology, but the easiest defensible place in the North European Plain, the narrowest gap between the Baltic Sea and Tatra Mountains is in Poland.  It’s another way not cure Russian fears, more keep them in check.

    Putin likes what he hears from Trump about the European Union and NATO.  If those two go down, you can fill in the rest.  

    Are Trump and his friends been taking money from the Russians?  It wouldn’t shock me.  Are Trump and company being paid to undercut NATO and the EU?  Maybe, but with Trump admiring Putin, may not have to pay him.  Putin probably sees Trump as a useful idiot neither here nor there.

    Did Putin fix the election?  Not the voting itself, because he would have had to have many operatives all over the country.  He certainly hacked various candidates.

     Russia is now the most open it has ever been, and that’s not saying much.  .  Why I need my Russian friends to explain it to me.

I hope this helps.  I wanted to make it general for now, but will cheerfully answer questions and try to fill in blanks.  Much of Russia will always be a riddle, wrapped in an enigma.  


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European Union, You Need a New Business Model.

One Saturday morning routine, is to go to the Wilmot Branch of the Pima County Library to read magazines.  One of my favourite magazines is The Economist.  Yes Virginia, just to be different, I used the British spelling.  I enjoy their articles, especially reading about the United States from a different perspective.

Today, there was a series of articles about the European Union.

This is the basic history as I’m interpreting it, as an American, interested in things European.   The basic reason for founding the European Union was to prevent another war between France and Germany.  It was getting to be a bad habit.  It would be French technology for German industry, (actually then West Germany, as East Germany was rather occupied at the moment.  No one wanted a united Germany at that time).

I’m calling this a business model.  Starting in 1957, there were six countries; (France, West Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy).    All could agree to the same rules.

When I read Boris Johnson’s Dream of Rome, he spoke about the United States backing a larger EU of Western European nations to oppose the Eastern Bloc.

Then, the Berlin Wall fell.  Well, there was no more Eastern Bloc.  Did the EU lose some purpose at that point?  It’s nice to say you cover all Europe, but does the 1957 business model fit from 1990 to 2017?  Former Communist nations in Eastern Europe are behind Western Europe.  The Germans learn this lesson with a United Germany, where the West is way ahead of the East when the two Germanys become one.  Countries, such as Portugal  and Bulgaria are now members.  None of these countries are equal economically.  Greece keeps having to be bailed out.

Then came the refugee crisis.  Much of the European Union is based on free travel.  Now, refugees from outside Europe were passing through all these European countries.  Suddenly free range between countries wasn’t looking so good.  Not everyone is fortress Switzerland, which has no intention of being an EU member.  Angela Merkel allowed one million refugees in Germany, but not necessarily because she has such a good heart, but because Germany needs workers, since Germans aren’t making enough babies.

The refugees are not trying to stay in Hungary.  Hungarian is a tough language and Germany is wealthier.  Again, a case of “Show me the money.”

Reading the articles, one EU bureaucrat stated they are harder on applicants, than members.  Then, the EU was greeted by something they weren’t expecting…


It never occurred to EU officials that anyone would want to leave the EU.  The United States is more like the Mafia that way.  Once in, you’re in.  In the 1860’s, eleven states tried to leave.  the United States.  Some guy named Abraham Lincoln thought it was a bad idea.  You know the rest.  The EU isn’t going to send troops to stop the UK from leaving the EU.

The United Kingdom is going to negotiate their divorce proceedings, but the answer comes down to one thing.  The European Union needs a better business model.



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