Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Philadephia in Peru.

The modernist world has gone to Hell and nothing is getting better there as time goes on. It's about time to re-evaluate the meaning of our place and see if we aren't so rich in terms of cash that we have bought with our money a second-rate dictatorship.

I look back at my miserable years in Canada and other Western hell-holes, and I thank the gods that I now live in real peace and freedom in, for now, Peru. I hope never to return to the Velvet Fascism of Canada or Western Europe. I truly and deeply hate most of the Modern world as it is today, and one can see why in the daily life of Peruvians, those people who should be shining examples of possible freedom in our world.

We in the West have lost too much of our freedom, and we pay for that loss with our own money. Image, for example, that one has graduated from an art college in Canada and is now selling pottery in an upscale market where most of ones money goes for rent and taxes. One might sell some replica version of pre-Columbian pottery to those living in an up-scale neighbourhood, people who fancy themselves collectors of fine crafts. One would not dare fall asleep in the sun, leaving ones wares open on the sidewalk. If it didn't get stolen, it might be damaged. More than likely, the police would issue a citation for selling on the sidewalk in the first place. There is no rest.

In Peru, where the lady above is asleep at her post, there is no college grant to study the making of pre-Columbian pottery. She and her family make pots because she never had a chance to go to school to learn anything else. She doesn't think of herself as an "artist" making pottery. She and her family make pottery because they don't know how to make money doing anything better. She is a very pleasant lady when one has a chance to speak with her.

Much of what goes on in poor countries is hidden from public view. This isn't because there is some deep love of privacy, it's mostly because one cannot trust ones neighbours not to see and envy and steal. So, things are hidden away.

Often it's not pretty at all. It's dirty and broken and ramshackle. But it is ones own. There are no health inspectors or building inspectors or inspection inspectors inspecting. One is on ones own, for better or worse. One cannot "make do" in most of the modern world. The neighbours would call the police if one tried. All things must be regulated because the social world would suffer if one person, doing something on his own, made a mess of it for every one else.
You cannot have a thatched wall. What if it caught fire? Everyone would be in danger. So, one calls the police.

Much of western Peru is desert. There are in Arequipa, Peru's second largest city, a couple of smallish rivers, one of which is dry this Spring. But not to worry, there is an artesian well that stepped farmers, like their Incan ancestors, have created to graze cattle. It's brilliant, lovely, and stinking. The steppe is right close to unregulated produce sellers who work and live and live pretty well by selling fruit and vegetables fresh from home. In America, land of the free? Maybe not so much.
Almost everything in Peru today would be illegal in the most Modern of nations today. It would violate "regulations" of any number of sorts. But Peruvians get on just fine with freedom, whereas the regulated nations, Bolivia, for example, do not. Peru, unregulated, is a better place to live for the free man than any place that comes to mind in America today. Not rich, not cutting edge clever and inventive, not booming and futuristic; Peru and such other free places on earth are just good to live in if one can live at all. It's not easy here. One must struggle and work hard to live at all. That's the price of freedom.

How bad is life in Peru? I took an hour to talk to locals at the Plaze de Armas in Arequipa on a Sunday afternoon recently. We were swarmed by pigeons. This tells me that, unlike Canada, no one is eating them because their welfare cheques didn't show up on time. Here, people work, have families, and go to the park on Sunday after church. I've been to a number of places other than Canada where there are few pigeons, and that is because pigeons get eaten. Not here. There is lots of food, and people grow it and sell it and consume it freely. Flies? Yes. Filth? No. Health inspectors? What?

I met a fat bus-driver and his dumpy and not very bright wife who live on a street beside a park in an area with about zero crime. They live near a million dollar house similar to the one I fell in love with, its adobe walls and unfinished siding being typical of the haphazard way things don't get done here. This beautiful house might well belong to some guy who has a dull and unskilled job. It's pretty typical of houses in Arequipa, affordable because one begins with whatever money one has, and as one gets more, one eventually finishes the building, maybe.
Building inspectors? What? It's the man's home. Who asked the government for an opinion about how to build a mud brick house in an earthquake zone?

Strange as it might seem to many living in the Modern world, I have not yet met anyone working for the government or an NGO in Peru on the strength of a degree in Wymins Studies who expects to live in a nice house like the one above. OK, I haven't met any Peruanos who have goof-degrees. Most people who live in nice places do so because they work for a living doing something, and sometimes strange things indeed, that make other people happy to give them money to finance nice houses that could well fall down in an earth quake. Some people sell fruit and vegetables, or pots, or maybe brooms. Who cares?
Yes, there is the matter of reaching ones full potential, and selling brooms on a side street isn't likely to qualify. But to work and make money and have a nice place, that might compensate for not being ones artistic genius in the world. The Modern world could really use a lot of sweeping today, mostly of idiots who think they're too good to work at boring jobs that make money. It's freedom here that we miss in the Modern world, and the self-respect that comes from self-sufficiency. The only thing that would impel me to return to my home is some deep personal failure that shows me incapable of living like a man in the world, me needing a baby-sitter all of my life. I hope I die free instead. But, and I have my doubts, maybe we will come to our senses and recreate the Modernity we used to have in the Modern world before we threw it all away for the corruption of the German Revolution. Me? I don't need it. I want freedom. I hope to live like a Peruvian.

I don't need others to ensure that my life and world is perfect. I can make do with less so long as it's the best I can do. Maybe some day America will come home again, and then so will I. I don't wait for perfection, just for the nation we used to have.

Till such a day, hello from Peru.

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