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The months passed and CUCKOO taught EAGLE eagleomics at every conceivable opportunity.
This proved to be a more demanding task than he had anticipated, because EAGLE took his duties towards EAGLE-LAND very seriously, and was always flying off to somewhere or other on a morale raising trip.
His favorite place was, unsurprisingly, Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) but better known as ‘The Screaming Eagles.’ In fact, he even had his very own helmet for field trips and foreign wars – and looked extremely dashing in it.
EAGLE was air mobile himself, of course, and could travel enormous distances, if he was so inclined; but since he enjoyed VIE (VERY IMPORTANT EAGLE) status, he often hitched a ride on military transport to save time.
CUCKOO, who often travelled with him during this period, so he could teach his prestigious student, found all of this very exciting and developed a particular fondness for Apache attack helicopters. True, CUCKOO, looked sort of chubby and strange, but as EAGLE commented: “You have the heart of a warrior, CUCKOO, and a smart one at that.”
In fact, while teaching EAGLE eagleomics, CUCKOO used the opportunity to bone up on military matters which he thought had been rather neglected in CUCKOO-LAND. But, for all that, the main thrust was on eagleomics because it was increasingly clear that EAGLE-LAND had lost its way and needed some answers.
EAGLE was a good student, and read his way through Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, and all the greats of what economists liked to think of as a science; but had now gravitated to more modern economists like Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz. He didn’t understand everything, of course, but he was reaching the point where he was beginning to ask questions.
That pleased CUCKOO who, best of all liked, to teach by way of a loose form of the Socratic method. Essentially that employed reasoned debate to evolve the optimum solution. It was pretty much how EAGLE and CUCKOO talked anyway. They thought that one of the principle pleasure of intelligent discourse was how much one learned from it.
Both adhered to Keynes’s principle: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
CUCKOO thought it would be to EAGLE-LAND’S advantage if such words were tattooed onto the forehead of every member of Congress; and possibly of every American voter too. The trouble was that most didn’t know many facts, and certainly didn’t want any new ones to confuse the issue. That was the nice thing about ‘gut instinct.’ It didn’t require any facts at all.
“Americans are very illogical,” said EAGLE. Americans called EAGLE-LAND ‘America’ for some perverse reason. “They devoted enormous effort to blocking the spread of what they called communism but communism has never been tried. All communist nations to date have been nothing more than dictatorships. Look at communist Stalin in the Soviet Union, and Castro in Cuba, and ask how were they different to fascist Hitler in German and Franco in Spain.”
“They weren’t to any significant extent in fact,” said CUCKOO. “But the one important variation was that under communism all the means of production, and pretty much everything else, were owned by the state whereas under fascism a significant amount of private ownership was allowed. But both systems were centrally controlled by governments run by dictators so private ownership didn’t mean much anyhow. If the system wanted something you owned, it just grabbed it. Look what happened to the Jews.
“Well then,” said EAGLE, “communism might work. After all, it has never been tried. I think we should experiment more. Who knows what will work unless you try it.”
CUCKOO tried to imagine EAGLE advocating communism to the 101st Airborne and wasn’t at all sure the outcome would be happy. On the other hand, EAGLE was, of course, absolutely right - subject to one exception. Ironically enough, communism – in its purest sense - had been tried for a while by the very earliest Christian communities. Human nature had won out.
“Let’s work backwards from Capitalism,” CUCKOO said, “or Senator McCarthy will rise from his grave and try and put salt on your tail.”
EAGLE flexed his talons. Combined with speed, they were how he killed, and they looked the part. “That would not be a wise move,” he said.
“Hooah!” said CUCKOO.
‘Hooah’ was the Swiss Army Knife of words of the U.S. Army. It meant everything from “I agree with you,” to “Let’s do it,” and provided excellent exercise for the lungs.