By Blythe Clod
Good Morning Pansies!
This is my first post at Pansies, and you should know that I love words! Here is one that I just came across, pantisocracy. No, it’s not about panties, heavy breathing, or sockpuppets! Here is a brief excerpt from what Wikipedia says about it:
Pantisocracy (from the Greek “πάν” and “ισοκρατία” meaning “equal or level government by/for all”) was a utopian scheme devised in 1794 by the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey for an egalitarian community. It is a system of government where all rule equally. They originally intended to establish such a community on the banks of the Susquehanna River in the United States, but by 1795 Southey had doubts about the viability of this and proposed moving the project to Wales. The two men were unable to agree on the location, causing the project to collapse.
As spelled out by Southey, the utopian community he and Coleridge planned was to be built on two principles: “Pantisocracy” (meaning government by all) and “Aspheterism” (meaning general ownership of property). The scheme called for a small group of educated individuals to give up their possessions and labor together for the common good. Few regulations would be necessary to govern the colony and decisions would be made so as to avoid one man having more power than another. Coleridge envisioned Pantisocracy as a way to minimize the greed among men. Additionally, Coleridge and Southey hoped to enjoy a more relaxing existence than was possible in England, and expected that each member of the community would have to work just two to three hours per day to sustain the colony.
But, the above isn’t just pedantic bullshit, of which I am avid aficionado, but a lead in to Coleridge’s poem, The Ancient Mariner, and particularly these lines:
It is an ancient mariner
And he stoppeth one of three.
– “By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stoppest thou me?
He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,” quoth he.
“Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!”
Eftsoons his hand dropped he.
I wonder if Coleridge had a premonition how greybeard loons, aka old white men, would destroy that more egalitarian society of which he dreamed? Even Oprah Winfrey said that the old white folks need to die off:
As long as people can be judged by the color of their skin, the problem is not solved,” she said, adding,“There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it – in that prejudice and racism – and they just have to die.”
It is time for the greybeard loons to unhand us all! Aisha Harris, of Slate, said it well a few years ago:
Yes, it is. And so I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin.
That’s right: a penguin.
Why, you ask? For one thing, making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, Santa is one of the first iconic figures foisted upon you: He exists as an incredibly powerful image in the imaginations of children across the country (and beyond, of course). That this genial, jolly man can only be seen as white—and consequently, that a Santa of any other hue is merely a “joke” or a chance to trudge our racist stereotypes—helps perpetuate the whole “white-as-default” notion endemic to American culture (and, of course, not just American culture).
Plus, people love penguins. There are blogs dedicated entirely to their cuteness. They’re box office gold. Most importantly, they’re never scary (in contrast to, say, polar bears and reindeer). Most kids love Santa—because he brings them presents. But human Santa can be terrifying—or at least unsettling.
Which this leads right into the whole “purple penquins” thing. . .okay, so somehow we started off with pantiscocracy and ended up at Santa Claus and purple penquins. I am not quite sure how that happened. Sometimes I tend to ramble. Oh well, time for my Adderall!
Everybody have a nice day!
FootNote: The Image is the Skipper (an Ancient Mariner) and Gilligan (an albatross) from the 1960’s television show, Gilligan’s Island.