The Wonders of the World

Column by tzo.
Exclusive to STR
I will say that the Taj Mahal is a fine and impressive piece of architecture.
It was commissioned by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his third wife, who died during the birth of their fourteenth child.
It obviously wasn’t cheap. Where did the Shah get the money to finance such a project? Well, the Mughal empire accumulated money through taxation, just like any other government.
A portion of each person's labor and wealth was siphoned off and sent to the Shah. The Taj Mahal was built primarily off the labor of the common farmer. Quite a trinket to wave in their faces, the Taj Mahal. Hey guys! Look what I can do with all your money!
And today it is one of the many government-“commissioned” slave-built structures that everyone admires and fawns over. Yes, it is beautiful, but it was built with blood.
Peruse through the lists of the Wonders of the World. Where did the money and labor come from to construct them? What of the Dalai Lama's palace? The Hagia Sofia? The White House?
What is this sick infatuation that the slaves have with worshiping the masters?
Human beings are obviously quite capable of building impressive and beautiful works of art under threat of death. Then the later generations stand in awe of these monuments as great symbols of those civilizations, ignoring what actually went into their construction.
The true value these monuments serve is to illustrate how governments can flaunt their stolen wealth, knowing perfectly well that many of the poor folks who were forced to contribute died for having had to contribute.
The construction of the Taj Mahal is held up as a tribute to a great love, and none who see it and know its tragic story should remain unmoved. Wow! He really loved her if he built such a structure as a monument to her.
The simple farmer who may have had to bury his wife in a patchwork box in the cold, stony ground showed much more respect for his wife than did the Shah. At least the box was his.

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tzo's picture
Columnist tzo
Columns on STR: 64

tzo now lives in your head.


Samarami's picture

An excellent treatment of monuments to kingship, war and slavery, tzo.

I'm dumbfounded to travel through small and larger cities right here in the US and to witness the statues and shrines that have been erected to what appears to be the natural addiction to scoundrel dictatorship ("rulership") -- and their accompanying violence and war. Periodically large numbers of local folks will gather pathetically to virtually worship at these temples to tyranny.

To question their devotion would be sacrilegious -- a grievous sin.

The further I travel into anarchy the more poignant these symbols connect in my mind to Étienne de La Boétie's "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude". Jim Davies posted a good article yesterday calling for "civil disobedience"; which, of course, brings up an ongoing quandary as to whether liberty is "proselytizable", or whether we will do better by each seeing to his or her own freedom and be willing to lead by example (as you have done by writing this essay and Jim has done with his innumerable and good articles as well).

I lean toward the latter. If and when individuals come to us for support I see it as essential -- especially once the rioting, looting and "insurrection" break out, which inevitably will take place -- that we have the courage to extend the hand of hospitality and assistance.

I guess I take my queue from Alcoholics Anonymous: "Whenever, wherever, somebody reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA to always be there. For that, I am responsible..." I refrain from recruiting in taverns and "dens of inequity", avoid proselytizing, but remain willing to go anywhere any time to help a newcomer "over the hump".

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear".

As an educator I eventually came to reverse that: "When the teacher is ready, the students will appear" -- that's because I came to discover I had learned much more from students than they ever learned from me. All I provided was direction and (dis)organization.


Paul's picture

At least we can thank the pigeons for shitting on the statues.