From the May 2004 Idaho Observer:
Deracinate, v. 1599. [f. F. deraciner] To tear up by the roots; to eradicate. ~Oxford Universal Dictionary, 1955
Learn a new word, gain a deeper understanding of the forces tearing at the foundations of culture
E. Michael Jones, publisher of Culture Wars for the past 22 years (www.culturewars.com), is sponsoring a special symposium on roots and culture in Rees, Germany, in the Ruhr Valley on the Rhein, this coming summer from August 12 to 21, 2004. The conference is titled: A Rooted Culture: What is it? How to preserve it where it exists; how to create it where it doesn't.
by E. Michael Jones
During the 1970s, I lived and taught in Rees, Germany, for a period of about three years. On a recent return visit, I spoke with Johannes Roesen, one of the bakers in Rees when I lived there.
Eighty percent of Herr Roesen's business was with repeat customers. If, at the end of the day, Frau Maier hadn't shown up to buy her bread and rolls, Herr Roesen and his wife would wonder if anything had happened to her. In exchange for the opportunity to make a living, the Roesens provided bread and pastry and one small part of a social network that began in commerce and rose into a coherent rooted local culture.
By the end of this time as the town baker, Herr Roesen was competing with the supermarkets which were proliferating to the west of town. The supermarkets offered bread from factories in plastic bags, the kind of bread one can buy in supermarkets in the U.S.. The fall of communism, instead of spreading rooted culture eastward, contributed to the uprooting of culture in western Europe. Before he retired, Herr Roesen was competing against frozen dough pellets imported from the Czech Republic for 4 eurocents apiece, which were then turned into rolls in German factory bakeries. No family-run bakery can compete against bread factories from the Czech Republic if the lowest possible price is the only criterion for existence.
When I got back from Germany, I found myself listening to two men talking at the local health club. Both men looked to be in their late 40s/early 50s, both men were single and probably divorced. Both lived alone. The one drove a Corvette, bleached his hair and evidently spent a fair amount of time on a tanning bed. Both men were glad to be able to spend time at the club because from the moment they got home they would do nothing but eat and watch television until they passed out for the evening. In the morning, they would get up and go to work, thinking they were free because they could drive there in a Corvette.
What about the people in the third world countries? Last year, after I spoke in Kenya, I got an email from a man who has just visited his family in their ancestral Kikuyu village. His niece no longer speaks Kikuyu, largely because she spends a good part of her life watching television, in particular Hollywood sitcoms like Ally McBeal. Her name is Alice, but she now calls herself Ally. Meanwhile, the exodus from the land continues unabated in Kenya as the countryside depopulates itself and the masses of uprooted people pour into places like the Kabira slum, a mass of corrugated metal shacks bestriding the rail line from Nairobi to Kampala, which houses somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people.
What do these people living under vastly different circumstances on three separate continents have in common? Deracination. Loss of roots. They are either completely uprooted or, as in Europe, fighting a battle to retain their precarious connection to a place and culture that has sustained them and their forbears for centuries.
Globalism is another word for deracination.
After nurturing a 30-year long relationship with Rees, the town where I taught in Germany, I realized that I was in a position to do something about his final assault on American roots and on enracinated culture throughout the world.
The antonym of this process is captured by the French term L'enracinement put forth by French professor Manifacier at a conference I attended last year in Switzerland. That is, to put forth, to cultivate, and to strengthen the cultural roots of our communities.
A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future. (Simone Weil, The Need for Roots, [London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd. 1952], p. 41)
The uprooting which Weil opposed is continuing apace. In fact, it is reaching what may be its final phase. As Americans, most of us have known nothing but deracination: The eradication of our roots of community.
Weil continues, For people who are really uprooted there remain only two possible sorts of behavior: Either to fall into a spiritual lethargy resembling death, like the majority of the slaves in the days of the Roman Empire, or to hurl themselves into some form of activity necessarily designed to uproot, often by the most violent methods, those who are not yet uprooted, or only partly so.
Weil describes the fate of a culture which rolls over and accepts deracination as its fate. Speaking for my own generation of Americans, I can say without exaggeration that deracination of one sort or another is all that we have known growing up. We were guinea pigs in an unacknowledged experiment in social engineering whose sole purpose was uprooting our lives in order to make us more docile wage slaves. The purpose of sexual liberation, feminism, and the ethnic cleansing that went by the name of urban renewal was deracination. Now, the same regime, through television, Hollywood films, MTV and other media proliferation is proposed for the rest of the world with the same purpose in mind, either as a cultural invasion or, in the Islamic world, as the sequel to a military invasion.
Whoever is uprooted himself, Weil writes, giving another uncanny insight into our situation vis a vis the neocons, uproots others. Whoever is rooted himself doesn't uproot others.
The Rooted Conference will last for three days, followed by a seven-day symposium. It will bring together people from all over Europe, as well as from the town of Rees, discussing the most basic aspects of rooted culture, architecture, food, farming, music, and so forth. Uprootedness as a form of political control will be discussed as well.
Simone Weil never saw a television, but were she alive now, she would have to count it as deracination's major instrument. No conference on enracination would be complete without some analysis of television as an instrument of deracination and control. This leads us to consider sex, the family, vows and roots; ethnic music as an alternative to the music industry; the revival of ethnic clothing; fashion, music and cultural control; daily bread, food and culture; Stammkundschaft as the alternative to the lowest price (The lowest price isn't the best price.) and, finally, Christ and Ethnos, can Europe, the last bastion of rooted culture, exist cut off from its Christian roots?
During the seven-day symposium, we will focus on the issue of enracination vs. deracination. Lectures and discussion in the morning followed by afternoons of cycling, swimming, kayaking, and, for the adventurous, a balloon ride over the flat farmlands of the lower Rhine. Also planned are several historical day trips, including Brugge, Muenster, Duesseldorf and Arnheim.
The town of Rees is not a theme park. It is a real town which has been drawing people from the populous Ruhr area for years because it is what it is -- a town with the medieval wall intact on two sides, a town on the Rhein with roots that go deep into the local soil. There are now bicycle ferries across the Rhein at Rees, Haffen and Greith, two towns about ten kilometers in either direction along the Rhein. Since bicycle is an integral part of the lower Rhein/Dutch culture, we are planning to take a number of cycling trips in the afternoons following the morning lectures.
For those who want to take it easy, Rees is itself a lesson in enracination. Over 1,000 years old, Rees is now more medieval and more distinctly German than when I lived there 30 years ago. Rooted culture has reasserted itself in the built environment. Rees is a lesson in living on a human scale, and a balm to the soul for those used to Walmart parking lots, interstate highways and streets littered with junkfood restaurants and convenience store gas stations. The Rhein promenade in Rees is lined with cafes, where you can sit in the sun and watch the never-ending boat traffic on the world's busiest stretch of fresh water.
Rees is one of the most attractive towns in an area of Germany that is little known. The Rooted Culture conference and symposium is a unique opportunity to see rooted European culture and the people who live it in a way that no package tour can provide, with a group of people like no other group on the planet: culture mavens, truth talkers, bread bakers, beer drinkers, and mandolin players.
Registration for the conference/symposium is $1900 per person, $2900 per couple, and includes lodging and all transportation (except for the balloon flight) from Amsterdam, our point of arrival in Europe. For more information and/or registration information, go to the website at www.culturewars.com or call Jones at (574) 289-9786.
Note: I met Mike Jones at the Mut zur Ethik conference in September, 2003. We were among about 30 speakers who spent a great deal of our waking hours together walking, talking, eating and drinking. Mike always carried his mandolin and at any time (restaurants, pubs, during discussions or walking in the Alps) he would start playing and we, his ill-trained but happy choir, would start singing. Some of the songs we sang were politically satirical lyrics put to traditional folk tunes. At our insistence, he and his family band recorded those and other tunes and made them available on CD (The Idaho Observer, January, 2004)
While we were together he was putting together in his mind the concept of rooted culture. His enthusiasm was infectious and his thesis compelling so it was discussed often over the two weeks. He was asked many questions and received many comments.
And now he is proposing to take his thesis on a field trip. Mike wants to show those who can see that the American experience, at home and what it promotes abroad, is a process of deracination -- tearing culture up by the roots -- to prepare the people to accept their role as subservient migrant workers on a global plantation. He wants to take a handful of Americans to experience a rooted community and return home with a vision of restoring the concept of community in America.
It is difficult to argue with Mike's logic: Uprooted (deracinated) people are weak and vulnerable and forced to accept whatever circumstances are handed them and forced to adapt their beliefs and values to meet the demands of those empowered to determine their fate. Rooted people, on the other hand, must be uprooted before they can be forced to compromise the values that define their community lives.
Think about the simplicity of that. Think about those decades in America where core values were taught and enforced in the rooted community. Think about what has happened to us since those more sane times: We are now an uprooted culture of chaos and our values have been redefined to meet the needs of a state that defines our community lives for us.
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