Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas


United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)

Principle 3: The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name….

Mary and I entered the shopping mall, comfortable like a couple who've been together for many years but timid like those who've spent very little time in this unfamiliar city, we being tired and haggard, bitten by the wind and the rain and the years. We've been on the road too long, it seems, and those around us, young, happy, and affluent, brushed by without noticing us, as beautiful as we are. Inside the mall I unzipped all three of my leather jackets so those around us would see the beautiful new Chinese silk shirt Mary got me for the holiday, a shirt that makes me more beautiful. No one noticed, I'm sure. Except Mary. Mary says I don't need the shirt, that I'm beautiful already. I gaze lovingly at her, she being beautiful beyond measure.

Mary and I entered the shopping mall and made our way to the stationery store for me to buy new journals for the coming year to record the mileage of our time. We entered the mall, and I was proud of myself in my beautiful new shirt, and Mary held my arm like an old wife used to the foibles of her man; and I, tired from these long days of our journey here, looked lovingly at her as she held the little bundle that gives her so much joy, a bag of stuff she clutches tightly to her bosom as she goes from here to there, smiling, sometimes delighted, sometimes overcome by the flashing lights at Radio Shack, the electronic video games capturing her heart in a soulful way till her aeroplane crashes into the tarmac upon landing, and until the store clerk states: "Is there something here you'd like to bu-uy?" He stands unsmiling, frowning at an empty space on a shelf as Mary asks for a different game to play since the last one really sucked. I puff up my chest and show off my new silk shirt protectively. I turn discretely to display my plastic bag of store bought stuff, our parking validation bag, our cue to the world that we belong in the mall as legitimate folks. But, hey: off we go to get samples of ice-cream, off we go so Mary can increase the volume in her bag with shopping brochures and old lottery ticket stubs. Off we go. I show off my purchase to good effect, I think, until I see that my fingers have sweated so badly that the ink has smeared all over the bag, and my fingers are black. I put my hands in my pockets and pull open my jackets to show off the beautiful shirt Mary gave me. We shall be all watched over.

"They act like we're dead," Mary says. "They don't even look at us. When I want to ask about something, they turn away and talk to someone else." Maybe we don't look just right. Maybe we look like we've been on the road too long. Maybe we look like a couple of weathered fence posts.

But we're not dead. Just look at my shirt. I'm beautiful, and especially so is the beautiful girl I'm with. "They don't seem to want to sell us anything," Mary says.

What is there to say to man playing "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child" on a guitar, a man who responds: "It's a tune by Ritchie Havens from the movie Woodstock."

Mary's hat is falling from the grace and style it might once have had when in its younger years its velvet was full and shiny brown; when the crown rose up with inner dignity, before it fell down to look more like the worn beret of a World War Two resistance fighter. Yes, the threads are loose. It is unraveled at the seams. My queen's crown is tarnished. Man, we've been on the road so long that longer than this we'll look like pavement.

I look ahead, beyond the mall, and I say to Mary: Listen to this, beautiful girl, this poem by Rimbaud, this poem called "Childhood," this poem that comes to my mind as I gaze at you with the bundled treasures at your breast:

The paths are bitter

And the broom flowers cover the hills.

The air is still…

How far are the birds and the fountains!

To go on can only lead to the end of the world.


We should go there, you and I, I say, and I mean it truly.

"You're taking up a good stall in the barn, buster," Mary says, though not to me but to a picture of a kitten on a postcard, though she could be speaking to me, I don't know, not being myself a psychologist of any repute.

We stand, side by side in the mall, and for once I'm happy, happy because I look like a king, and my beautiful girl is my queen. We slowly shuffle off to the department store to play air hockey, which I thought I'd won but that Mary says we tied, which probably means I lost. We look at black refrigerators and black stoves and black furniture. Black.

Mary's bundle grows as we walk through the mall. She finds things to add to her bag. Mary finds wonderful things that make her bundle of stuff better than it was. I don't understand female things like that, but I stand by smiling at those who stop to not look at us.

Beyond the road: the mall at Christmas. We have arrived.

Our gods: I recall a bit from Conrad's Lord Jim and I want very much to tell Mary:

Some, very few and seen there but seldom, lead mysterious lives, had preserved an undefaced energy with the temper of dreamers. They appeared to live in a crazy maze of plans, hopes, dangers, enterprises, ahead of civilization, in the dark places of the sea, and their death was the only event of their fantastic existence that seemed to have a reasonable certitude of achievement.

I'd meant to cheer us up. Hope? Yes; but if times get any harder, we could drift into the sea, I think, or some tranquil place. They really don't see us. They don't see us at all.

My mind is calm. Mary rubs her hand against my beautiful shirt. We are beautiful together. I stand close and protective as Mary gently bounces her bag up and down in her arms to disconnect the battery inside the rooster alarm clock buried deep inside her bundle. Still, the bag makes a choking noise like that of a child locked in the root cellar. People stare. I look down to avoid their gaze, and I see I've dripped ice-cream on my beautiful shirt, and when I tell Mary how sorry I am that I've made a such a mess of myself. Mary just smiles and says it doesn't matter because she got a huge sack of such shirts; and even though the Chinese lady stole most of them as Mary was going for more, Mary still has some left for me and the really big guy and the little fat guy.

Mary's warm smile. I still have the strength to go to the end of the world. I have a name, though I'm not certain Mary can remember it.

People swirl throughout the mall buying up even those things they don't much want to buy but must because there's time and things left yet. Mary asks me if I'd like a refill at Mc Donald's, it being a good deal because she's got some cups stashed. And I want very much to get away from those people who look at us and don't look at us because we look like we're dead. Maybe we show up on the video surveillance.

When I lived in a commune and sold candles at the mall in Berkley, California back in 1970 I didn't grasp the significance of Richard Brautigan's poem "All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace." I read it then, and I didn't understand. The poem was old even then, but I wasn't. Telegraph Ave. was old then, but I was just a lad.

I like to think (and

the sooner the better!)

of a cybernetic meadow

where mammals and computers

live together in mutually

programming harmony

like pure water

touching clear sky.

I like to think

……...(right now, please!)

of a cybernetic forest

filled with pines and electronics

where deer stroll peacefully

past computers

as if they were flowers

with spinning blossoms.

I like to think

……..(it has to be!)

of a cybernetic ecology

where we are free of our labours

and joined back to nature,

returned to our mammal

brothers and sisters,

and all watched over

by the machines of loving grace.

Mary smiles at me shyly sometimes, not knowing quite why I stop in mid-step and gaze off into space. She looks up at me from under the brim of her floppy velvet hat, and she waits gently like a warm breeze wafting around me. She holds her bag and smiles.

Our coffee gone, our evening long, we wonder where to find a place to stay for the night, given that all the rooms at the hostels are taken. We huddle in a doorway for a while. Three folks dressed up like they must have traveled from a Las Vegas Magic Show come by the doorway of the Starlight Diner and see us shivering in the damp. They give us a can of beer and a half pack of cigarettes. Mary sees a tea box in their bags, and she wants it because it's got a colorful label, the very thing Mary likes so much. One of the trio wisely passes it over, and Mary sticks it in her bag. The rooster clock starts making noises again, "erk er erk erooo," and Mary shakes it till it's quiet. The Magic Show girl cries out: "Be careful, you'll hurt him." I'll take that bitter path, I say to Mary, but I'll bet she's already forgotten about it.

"One of the defining characteristics of human beings is that their adaptation to the world depends," writes Anthony Storr in his book, Feet of Clay, "principally upon learning rather than upon those built-in behavioral patterns which govern the lives of creatures lower down the evolutionary scale. Man's infancy and childhood, relative to historical life-span, has been prolonged by evolution, with the consequence that there is additional time for learning to take place. Learning does not cease with the end of childhood. Many of us continue to learn all our lives, and enjoy doing so…. Our predisposition to go on learning is adaptive, but remaining teachable into adult life demands the retention of some characteristics of childhood…. One might add that man's adaptation is by means of maladaptation…. If we were perfectly adapted to the environment and the environment remained constant we might live in a state of blissful ignorance, unaware of any problems, but we should not be inventive because there should be no incentive to be so."

Outside, it's raining and cold, and no one smiles at us because I have my jackets done up to the chin, and no one can see my beautiful silk shirt. People don't look at Mary because they think she's a bag lady or something. Rain drips off her nose. She's very pretty. This is a bitter path, indeed. Mary has a bus pass. I tell her to get on the bus, warm up, dry out. Mary won't leave me. Instead she pecks at the discarded tickets in front of the subway station till she finds one she thinks I can use. It's really no good, I have to walk; and so-- Mary walks with me. It's a long way to some place to go. We go together. I feel beautiful again for some reason. It's not my beautiful shirt. It's because Mary is beside me. What was I thinking?

I was thinking of Rilke. I was thinking of an "Autumn Day." I was thinking of you.

Lord, it is time. The summer was so short.

Impose upon the sundials now your shadows

And round the meadows let the winds rotate.

He'll not build now, who has no house awaiting.

Who's alone now, for long will so remain.

Sit late, read, write long letters, and again

Return to restless perambulating

The avenues of parks when leaves down rain.

So on we go, we three: Mary holding close her nameless bag, grinning as she looks up at me with her beautiful green eyes. The paths are so bitter, and we are so far away from home. For dreamers it could only mean the end of the world.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Thanks, Callie.

Announcing Dag's Christmas Story for Tommorw.

Please return Saturday afternoon for Dag's annual Christmas story, a bit of rollicking good fun that has nothing to do with hanging Prsbyterians from lamposts. Hope you'll join us then.

Dies irae, dies illa

Just in time for Christmas we come again to the Presbyterians cheer leading for killers. Presbyterians who engage in terrorism, who are directly responsible for murdering men, women and children, people who are my friends, people I lived among thanks to their generosity and kindness, people who are lovely and worthy of life and the peace everyone is entitled to. But, our Presbyterians think not, preferring rather to kill my friends.

There are those who will stand up to Death and play him till the end. Those would be the ones who love life. I'm one. You will meet me.

Presbyters: I will not stand for this. Any Presbyter in a land outside the law is fair game for those who follow the law, and that's all there is to say of it.
***

Hezbollah official Nabil Qawuq is undoubtedly a busy man. As Hezbollah's commander in Southern Lebanon, Qawuq is responsible for leading the bulk of the Shi'ite terrorist group's combat forces, while frequently overseeing attacks on Israeli positions and attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers or civilians. A confidante of Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah, Qawuq is also a fixture on Al-Jazeera and Lebanese television, his appearances generously mottled with calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.


Nevertheless, Qawuq recently found the time in his busy schedule to meet with -- of all things -- a church group. On October 20th, a delegation from the Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA) met with Qawuq and other Hezbollah leaders for an hour in southern Lebanon as part of their three-week regional tour. Led by the head of the Chicago Presbytery Reverend Bob Reynolds, the meeting was convened for supposedly "educational" purposes, with Reverend Reynolds suggesting "I think one way people can learn from one another is to learn the way people talk about themselves and describe their own reality."

Unfortunately, the conversations which took place between the two parties were anything but realistic. Quwaq opened the conference with a lengthy harangue against the "chaos" and "fear" created by President Bush and "American policy," whose true purpose he defined roughly as enabling Ariel Sharon to "turn Lebanon into a bridge to harm Syria." Eager to endear himself to the perturbed Hezbollah commander, PCUSA delegation spokesman Robert Worley, a retired seminary professor, assured Quwaq that all delegation members had voted for John Kerry. Furthermore, Worley promised his host to help disavow Americans of the notion -- impressed upon them by the Western media -- that Hezbollah was a terrorist group, stating:

"Americans hear in the Western media that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization, and they do not hear any other opinion. They know nothing about the party's concern for the people of the south."

Worley then pointed out that Hezbollah and his church share similar goals, along with comparable opponents: Continue reading "Devenny: The Church of Jihad"--
***
pages.zdnet.com/wassman/id23.html

(Germans Hanged.)
***

Christmas, and the filthy Presbyters are out to kill my friends, smiling. These sanctimonious scums will find themselves facing the wrath of God someday, and it's a day I long to witness. Presbyter scum: I hate you.
***

Dies irae, dies illa
solvet saeclum in favilla,
teste David cum Sybilla.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus.

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulchra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.

Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
judicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus judicetur.

Judex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit,
nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?

Rex tremendae majestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.

Recordare Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae,
ne me perdas illa die.

Quaerens me sedisti lassus,
redemisti crucem passus,
tantus labor non sit cassus.

Juste judex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis
ante diem rationis.

Ingemisco tanquam reus,
culpa rubet vultus meus,
supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Preces meae non sunt dignae,
sed tu, bonus, fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum praesta,
et ab hoedis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis,
voca me cum benedictis.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis,
gere curam mei finis.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla

judicandus homo reus -
Huic ergo parce, Deus.

Pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Knowing the Obvious


Just how much of this fancy fransy philosophy is enough to determine how we should respond to the obvious threat of jihad and social disintegration? Is any of this interior inspection of historical opinion making worth the time and trouble? We all know more or less what needs to be done, though we might differ on the details. Islam is a sick ideology that has many millions of poor and ignorant people perched on the verge of catastrophe, threatening not just the West but the world itself with war and annihilation. It's clear that any religion, so-called, that enslaves its female members, reduces them to sex toys and baby farms, that sexually mutilates little girls for the sake of controlling their behaviour, that's obsessed with appearances at the cost of achievement and productivity, that is in every respect an unworthy idea and a danger to the public good and the very safety of the common world of Humanity, that that ideology should be rooted out and destroyed as a matter of course, as a matter of ordinary decency and common sense, if not of prudence and self-preservation. Our political and social leaders, our intelligentsia and our moral leaders collude in the game of "Let's pretend Islam is a religion of peace and that the West is filled with racists." We don't need much detail to know that Islam is evil. And if we need any proof other than what we have and have had since day one, all we really need to debunk the idea that Islam is anything other than evil are these two words: "nine eleven." So why all this about philosophy?

If our reaction to Islamic madness is to counter it with dhimmitude and suicide, then we must look at ourselves to ask why we are reacting as we are. It's obvious that Islam is a madness, and that it's violence and savagery are a threat to us. That needs no further investigation. We do. We need to do some serious navel gazing. We have to ask ourselves how we can look at the obvious and not see anything sensible. How can we look at our own lives, in that case, and trust ourselves to act responsibly toward our children? We are definitely doing something extremely wrong, and we should give it a bit of thought before we commit ourselves to anything further.

Below we can take a look at looking and knowing. How we approach these things will tell us how we approach tomorrow and jihad without the dubious benefit of our leaders. We must, soon, learn to lead ourselves. We have to know how to see and know the real without being taken in by nonsense, even the most obvious nonsense that we convince ourselves is true.
***

Sorites Paradox

The sorites paradox is the name given to a class of paradoxical arguments, also known as little-by-little arguments, which arise as a result of the indeterminacy surrounding limits of application of the predicates involved. For example, the concept of a heap appears to lack sharp boundaries and, as a consequence of the subsequent indeterminacy surrounding the extension of the predicate 'is a heap', no one grain of wheat can be identified as making the difference between being a heap and not being a heap. Given then that one grain of wheat does not make a heap, it would seem to follow that two do not, thus three do not, and so on. In the end it would appear that no amount of wheat can make a heap. We are faced with paradox since from apparently true premises by seemingly uncontroversial reasoning we arrive at an apparently false conclusion.

This phenomenon at the heart of the paradox is now recognised as the phenomenon of vagueness (see the entry on vagueness). Once identified, vagueness can be seen to be a feature of syntactic categories other than predicates, nonetheless one speaks primarily of the vagueness of predicates. Names, adjectives, adverbs and so on are only susceptible to paradoxical sorites reasoning in a derivative sense.

Sorites arguments of the paradoxical form are to be distinguished from multi-premise syllogisms (polysyllogisms) which are sometimes also referred to as sorites arguments. Whilst both polysyllogisms and sorites paradoxes are chain-arguments, the former need not be paradoxical in nature and the latter need not be syllogistic in form.

[....]

1. The Sorites In History The name 'sorites' derives from the Greek word soros (meaning 'heap') and originally referred, not to a paradox, but rather to a puzzle known as The Heap: Would you describe a single grain of wheat as a heap? No. Would you describe two grains of wheat as a heap? No. … You must admit the presence of a heap sooner or later, so where do you draw the line?

It was one of a series of puzzles attributed to the Megarian logician Eubulides of Miletus. Also included were:

The Liar: A man says that he is lying. Is what he says true or false?

The Hooded Man: You say that you know your brother. Yet that man who just came in with his head covered is your brother and you did not know him.

The Bald Man: Would you describe a man with one hair on his head as bald? Yes. Would you describe a man with two hairs on his head as bald? Yes. … You must refrain from describing a man with ten thousand hairs on his head as bald, so where do you draw the line?

This last puzzle, presented as a series of questions about the application of the predicate 'is bald', was originally known as the falakros puzzle. It was seen to have the same form as the Heap and all such puzzles became collectively known as sorites puzzles.

It is not known whether Eubulides actually invented the sorites puzzles. Some scholars have attempted to trace its origins back to Zeno of Elea but the evidence seems to point to Eubulides as the first to employ the sorites. Nor is it known just what motives Eubulides may have had for presenting this puzzle. It was, however, employed by later Greek philosophers to attack various positions, most notably by the Sceptics against the Stoics' claims to knowledge.

These puzzles of antiquity are now more usually described as paradoxes. Though the conundrum can be presented informally as a series of questions whose puzzling nature gives it dialectical force it can be, and was, presented as a formal argument having logical structure. The following argument form of the sorites was common:

1 grain of wheat does not make a heap.
If 1 grain of wheat does not make a heap then 2 grains of wheat do not.
If 2 grains of wheat do not make a heap then 3 grains do not.

If 9,999 grains of wheat do not make a heap then 10,000 do not.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
10,000 grains of wheat do not make a heap.

The argument certainly seems to be valid, employing only modus ponens and cut (enabling the chaining together of each sub-argument which results from a single application of modus ponens). These rules of inference are endorsed by both Stoic logic and modern classical logic, amongst others.

Moreover its premises appear true. Some Stoic presentations of the argument recast it in a form which replaced all the conditionals, 'If A then B', with 'Not(A and not-B)' to stress that the conditional should not be thought of as being a strong one, but rather the weak Philonian conditional (the modern material conditional) according to which 'If A then B' was equivalent to 'Not(A and not-B)'. Such emphasis was deemed necessary since there was a great deal of debate in Stoic logic regarding the correct analysis for the conditional. In thus judging that a connective as weak as the Philonian conditional underpinned this form of the paradox they were forestalling resolutions of the paradox that denied the truth of the conditionals based on a strong reading of them. This interpretation then presents the argument in its strongest form since the validity of modus ponens seems assured whilst the premises are construed so weakly as to be difficult to deny. The difference of one grain would seem to be too small to make any difference to the application of the predicate; it is a difference so negligible as to make no apparent difference to the truth-values of the respective antecedents and consequents.

Yet the conclusion seems false. Thus paradox confronted the Stoics just as it does the modern classical logician. Nor are such paradoxes isolated conundrums. Innumerable sorites paradoxes can be expressed in this way. For example, one can present the puzzle of the Bald Man in this manner. Since a man with one hair on his head is bald and if a man with one is then a man with two is, so a man with two hairs on his head is bald. Again, if a man with two is then a man with three is, so a man with three hairs on his head is bald, and so on. So a man with ten thousand hairs on his head is bald, yet we rightly feel that such men are hirsute, i.e., not bald. Indeed, it seems that almost any vague predicate admits of such a sorites paradox and vague predicates are ubiquitous.

As presented, the paradox of the Heap and the Bald Man proceed by addition (of grains of wheat and hairs on the head respectively). Alternatively though, one might proceed in reverse, by subtraction. If one is prepared to admit that ten thousand grains of sand make a heap then one can argue that one grain of sand does since the removal of any one grain of sand cannot make the difference. Similarly, if one is prepared to admit a man with ten thousand hairs on his head is not bald, then one can argue that even with one hair on his head he is not bald since the removal of any one hair from the originally hirsute scalp cannot make the relevant difference. It was thus recognised, even in antiquity, that sorites arguments come in pairs, using: 'non-heap' and 'heap'; 'bald' and 'hirsute'; 'poor' and 'rich'; 'few' and 'many'; 'small' and 'large'; and so on. For every argument which proceeds by addition there is another reverse argument which proceeds by subtraction.

Curiously, the paradox seemed to attract little subsequent interest until the late nineteenth century when formal logic once again assumed a central role in philosophy. Since the demise of ideal language doctrines in the latter half of the twentieth century interest in the vagaries of natural language, and the sorites paradox in particular, has greatly increased.
***

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sorites-paradox/

***

I think these things are not only interesting but valuable for us as individuals. It's not for everyone, of course, but for those who enjoy it, this is fun, and with that, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

We'll be back tomorrow with more jihadi thrills and dhimmi chills.

The Windows of Perception

Why is the West encumbered by dhimmi idiots? What motivates our citizens and our leaders to chant the mantra "Islam means peace?" Why do we make excuses for Muslims when by any reasonable standard we would be at war with the whole lot of them to the point of utter destruction of one or the other side? It's not because we hate war, are good guys, too advanced, or that Islam is anything other than exactly what we know it is. So why?


It's because of how we decide to interpret our world. It's our collective intellectual attitude that makes our world and us within it act as we do. We might change our collective mind about things as we see them today.

If you are primarily a mental creature existing inside a meat puppet, then you are some kind of mental creature rather than a mental creature. You might be a mental creature that thinks in terms of rationality and reason, looking at the world as a physical space in time, knowable to you as a physical creature through your senses and appeals to reason. You might construct your version of reality according to the rules of reason, examining the world you experience and filtering out that which is not reasonable or logical but that is still attuned to intuitive realities you might not have reason to discard even if you don't have evidence as yet to make logical or rational sense of them. Or you might be an irrational creature, one who relies for your understanding of reality based on what you hear from your local imam who describes reality according to the Qur'an and ahadith and Sira, according to the sunna as interpreted by the imam and your own knowledge. Depending on which approach to knowing what is true about the reality of existence you choose to live in you will be one kind of mental creature or something altogether different. You can be rational or you can be, for example, Muslim. Among other possibilities of deciding what is and how we can know it as mental creatures there is the option of neither science nor revelation but of social science. That choice too will make you some kind of creature not like others.

If you are a mental creature, knowing reality and existence through your mind rather than strictly through you senses like my cat, for example, living beyond a purely intuitive and sensory experience of life, you can choose also to learn the ways of reality according to reason, revelation, faith, or ideology. You can choose all of those approaches all at once, but one must be dominant, must be the ruling motif of your mental life. If one is Muslim then one lives ones mental life according to the idea that reality is the work of Allah. All that can be known of the work of Allah is what is revealed rather than that which can be reasoned. In Islam, Allah is unbound by logic or even the law of non-contradiction. From that first principle of complete incoherence one is not able to be a different kind of mental creature. One cannot ever be a rational Muslim. That gateway to a different way of knowing reality, the gate of ijtihad, is forever closed and barred.

If we, as mental creatures, are what we know, then we are according to how we can know. No Muslim can ever adapt to Modernity. Each and all are total write-offs. If a person is mental, then his mind is not just what his memories and thoughts are but how he knows and continues to know reality. If one were to be irrational today, believing in the omniscience of Allah in the universe, and then tomorrow believing in the primacy of the laws of physics, then one would no longer be Muslim. And what would the Muslim apostate's life be if all that preceded his apostasy were known henceforth as invalid? It's a question most Muslim will never ask, and rightly so, given that a man is seldom likely to destroy his mental world lightly, to commit mental suicide, as it were, not even for the chance of a resurrection into a better life. And worse for the Muslim he seldom if ever has any chance to examine his world-view critically. No, instead he has usually only disincentives, like death for apostasy for a beginning, and permanent exile from his previous life for another.

We have spent much time and effort looking at how we know our universes, how we can know if what we believe is true. We've looked at Steven Dutch on curiosity, and we've looked at Socrates on elenchus and aporia, and we've looked at numerous others on thinking and knowing and understanding. We always come back to the division between Modernity with its rationalist approach to knowing reality and the primitivist approach to knowing reality. We spend great amounts of space here looking at the alternative view of epistemology, the Romantic Irrationalism of philobarbarism, that of Western pseudo-science, the ideological view from anthropology and sociology, for example. It is our unvarnished opinion that social (pseudo)-science is the cause of Left dhimmi fascism and its creation of naive public opinion in support of primitive neo-feudalist fascism. How we as societies view reality, how we decide what is truth and what is falsity, determines how we live our lives, if at all.


Muslims do not examine their own minds. They are the slaves of Allah, and they are so from birth. We might as well forget about them and deal with them as they are and as that dealing requires. It's our own who are the problem: those who decide to look at reality as a social construct that follows mechanical norms determined by outside ingluences, those who would engineer reality to make people conform to it rather than those who would accept reality as it rationally is and make reality conform to Humans. It's an intellectual choice that determines how one will decide reality, and if one comes down on the side of social "science," then one is doomed to be irrational.

Thus, we come to the first part of an essay on Irrationality, the rest of which we'll leave the reader to find and contemplate privately if he or she so chooses. this is an introductionto an essay of some value to those who would pursue this topic further.
***

The Rise of New Irrationalism and its Incompatibility with Inclusive Democracy

Takis Fotopoulos

Abstract

The double aim of this article is, first, to examine the causes of the rise of 'new' irrationalism which is contrasted with the classical irrationalism of the 19th century and, second, to show the incompatibility of all sorts of irrationalism (from religion to esoterism, New Age mysticism and so on) with democracy. Finally, the need to develop a new democratic rationalism and democratic ethics, as opposed to the usual attempts to derive an 'objective' ethics from natural or social evolution, is explored.

1. Old and new irrationalism

Rational discourse versus irrational beliefs

The irrationalism, which has flourished both in the North and the South in the last quarter of this century or so, has taken various forms ranging from the revival, in some cases, of the old religions (Christianity, Islam etc) up to the expansion of various irrational trends (mysticism, spritualism, astrology, esoterism, neopaganism, "New Age" etc) which, especially in the West, threaten old religions. We may generally define an irrational belief system as a system whose core beliefs are not derived by rational methods (i.e. reason and/or an appeal to 'facts') but by intuition, instinct, feeling, mystical experience, revelation, will etc. As such, these beliefs are therefore outside any rational discourse. This is particularly true for all religions which have always been characterised by the existence of a set of irrational core truths (God, immortal soul, karma and so on) which are usually inscribed in a sacred text like the Gospel, Koran, Veda etc. In this sense, the world of core truths that characterize all religious systems is and has always been not an open system but a world of closure.

Still, the fact that irrational belief systems usually resort to irrational methods to derive their core 'truths' does not mean that they never use rational methods. Even religious systems sometimes use reason in deriving their truths, albeit within strictly defined limits. These limits are laid down by faith in some core irrational truths. In other words, reason is used by religious systems mainly to justify non-core or peripheral beliefs. Thomas Aquinas, for example, was a rationalist in the sense of believing that the larger part of revealed truth was intelligible to and demonstrable by reason. Still, he also maintained that a number of dogmas which were impenetrable to reason must be accepted on faith alone. Similarly, orthodox Hindus not only give full authority to the Veda but they also hold that human reason errs whenever, on the grounds of perceptual experience, it takes issue with the sacred writings.

In the light of this, It is not therefore surprising that the Pope in his last encyclical,[1] where he considered the relationship of truth, faith and reason, came out in favour of reason (presumably, to attack the irrationalism of New Age which threatens his own and any other established church)! However, his attempt to reconcile faith and reason, which were at odds since the Enlightenment, is clearly formulated within the problematique of Thomas Aquinas.[2] Thus, although the Pope encourages all philosophers , both Christian and non-Christian, "to trust in the power of human reason" he goes on to declare that we must not 'abandon the passion for ultimate truth' since anything which is true , cannot be threatening to faith, because God is truth. As he puts is: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth." Faith, for the Pope, stirred reason to reach out and attain what was "beautiful, good and true" and in this way became the advocate of reason.

Of course, the conception of reason to which the Pope refers to has little relation to the Enlightenment's conception, which was identified with the power by which man understands the universe and improves his/her own condition. In fact, one might argue that the three main Enlightenment pillars were: dedication to reason, the belief in Progress and the search for freedom in political and social institutions. But, here, we have to make an important distinction between the 'old' and 'new' 'irrationalism' something that will bring us back to the "Age of Reason", i.e. the Enlightenment and the development of rationalism. This distinction becomes necessary by the fact that the causes of the rise of modern irrationalism, as we shall see in the next section, are specific to our own era and as such differ considerably from the historical causes which have led to the rise of classical irrationalism, which flourished in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, as a reaction to classical rationalism.

Rationalism was the philosophical view that regarded reason as the chief source and test of knowledge. In this sense, rationalism has intrinsically been the rival of belief systems claiming esoteric knowledge, whether from mystical experience, revelation, or intuition. For the same reason, rationalism has always been opposed to various irrationalisms that tended to stress the biological, the emotional or volitional, the unconscious, or the existential, at the expense of the rational. In fact, it was in the context of fighting religious irrationalism, which was rampant in Christian West, that the Enlightenment thinkers embarked on the project of establishing a science of history and society, comprising hypotheses and laws of an explanatory power analogous to that attained by theories in the physical sciences. People like Condillac and Condorcet in the 18th century and Henri de Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill, and Henry Thomas Buckle in the 19th century believed that it was feasible to apply scientific procedures to the study of human society. It was in the same context that modern social science was born, either of the 'orthodox' type, which takes the status quo for granted, or of the radical type, which aims at a new society (scientific socialism).

The reaction to the rationalism which characterized the Enlightenment came in the form of the 'old' irrationalism, which developed in 19th century Europe. Still, the objective of this 'old' irrationalism was not to go back to religious absurdity and truth by revelation. Its declared objective was to enrich man's apprehension of life by expanding it beyond the rational to its fuller dimensions. Irrationalism's roots were either in metaphysics or in an awareness of the uniqueness of human experience. Its emphasis was on the dimensions of instinct, feeling, and will as over and against reason.

Manifestations of the irrationalist movement could be seen in various areas:


In ontology, where irrationalism implied that the world is devoid of rational structure (as rationalists argued), meaning and purpose (as religions, particularly Christianity, maintained). In epistemology, where it meant that reason is inherently defective and incapable of knowing the universe without subjective distortion;
In History, where it implied that there is much in the life of the spirit and in human history that could not be dealt with by the rational methods of science;
In ethics, where it signified the futility of the attempt to develop any objective standards;
In anthropology, where it implied a view of human nature as predominantly irrational and;
In art and literature, where romanticism (which emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental) was a reaction against the Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism in general. Similarly, the surrealist movement this century represented a reaction against what its members saw as the destruction wrought by the "rationalism" that had guided European culture and politics in the past and had culminated in the horrors of World War I. Surrealism was seen by the founders of the movement as a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in "an absolute reality, a surreality.

As it is obvious from the above list, similar views are expressed on many of the above topics by contemporary irrationalists. The difference is that today it is not just irrationalists of various sorts who, using a variety of irrational methods, adopt such views. Today, rational methods can be employed, and have been successfully employed, to show that:

the world is indeed devoid of any meaning apart from the one that we assign to it;
there can be no science of History, or of society and the economy because there is indeed subjective distortion in interpreting social phenomena;
there is no linear or dialectical Progress in History;
it is impossible to derive any 'objective' ethics from natural or social evolution;
there is no fixed human nature, rational or irrational;
it is possible to interpret in a rational way the unconscious and its interaction to the conscious realm of experience.

In fact, the very existence of a rational discourse, which can be used to justify the above conclusions today, is what makes the 'new' irrationalists even more irrational than the old ones. If, a century ago, it may have been forgivable to examine the limitations of science with the use of non-rational methods it is obviously nonsensical to do the same today, when the rational discourse on the limitations of science (particularly social science) and the rational critique of several core Enlightenment ideas, like that of Progress, is fully developed.

Today, with hindsight, we can pronounce that the project of creating a 'science' of society, economy and history, which would command a comparable degree of intersubjectivity to that in natural sciences, was doomed to failure. But, one does not have to use irrational methods anymore to criticize Progress, science and technology. The fact, for instance, that there are no 'laws of history' does not have to be shown by viewing History intuitively as an irrational process of organic growth and decay, as Oswald Spengler[3], an old irrationalist, tried to do. Without having to resort to the conformism of post-modernists, radical thinkers like Castoriadis, far from an irrationalist himself, have also shown the impossibility of scientifying or 'rationalising' History (History is essentially creation-creation and destruction.)[4]

Similarly, as I attempted to show elsewhere,[5] most of what passes today as social science is in fact ideology, i.e. a set of rational interpretations (namely, interpretations derived through reason and/or an appeal to 'facts') of society's or economy's structure and dynamics from a particular world view's point. As such, this study always reflects particular interests. At a high level of abstraction, social 'science' reflects either the interests of the ruling elites (orthodox social 'science'), in which case it takes the present socio-economic system (market economy/liberal 'democracy') for granted, or those of the rest of society (radical social 'science'), in which case it does not. As I argued there, the very object of study of social 'sciences' (society), versus that of natural sciences (nature), precludes the possibility of developing a science of social phenomena which would enjoy a comparable degree of general acceptability to that of the study of natural phenomena. The reason is that it is much more difficult, if not impossible, to separate subject from object of study in the former case compared with the latter. We live in a divided society and therefore the social scientist's worldview plays a crucial role in the assumptions s/he makes and the conclusions s/he derives. So, it is not just the lack of the possibility of experiment, which differentiates the two types of studies, as it is usually asserted. The crucial difference between social and natural sciences arises from the fact that whereas the tenets of natural sciences are generally accepted by natural scientists at a given time period, the tenets of social sciences are not, since there can never be a single paradigm about social reality, as long as society is divided. In fact, the very choice of paradigm to be adopted by a social scientist depends on a preconception: whether the present socio-economic system is taken for granted or not.

Rational ideologies and irrational belief systems

Still, notwithstanding Bertrand Russell,[6] I think it is wrong to compare a rational ideology like Marxism, with an irrational belief system like Christianity, Buddism, or Islam. In other words, I would not agree with the argument put forward by some writers[7], who, following Russell, argue that modern Western ideologies like Marxism and Liberalism were just variations of the Judeo-Christian conception, in the sense that they all were dogmas based on an unquestionable truth, irrespectively of whether this truth is transcendental, (as in the case of religion), or rational, (which can be 'proved' as 'objective' by the use of some rational method, eg. positivism or dialectics).

I think that although there are superficial similarities between an irrational belief system like Christianity and a rational ideology like Marxism (church/party, priests/avant guard etc), still, the crucial differences between them cannot be ignored. As I mentioned above, a fundamental characteristic of every irrational belief system is the existence of a set of core beliefs which are derived by non-rational methods (intuition, instinct, feeling etc). The fact that in many irrational belief systems there are also peripheral beliefs which may have been derived through the use of rational methods does not change their fundamentally irrational character. An irrational belief system is therefore irrefutable, since it is based on core beliefs, which are not expressed as rational hypotheses about reality, but as dogmas, intuitions etc, which are outside rational discourse.

On the other hand, a rational ideology is refutable by an appeal to reason and/or the 'facts' because not only its peripheral ideas, but also its core ones, have been derived through a rational process. By "refutability" I do not of course mean strict "falsifiability" in the Popperian sense.[8] As I attempted to show elsewhere[9], it is not possible to derive any objective scientific criteria for the verification/falsification of the Marxist hypotheses as scientific hypotheses. But, the same applies to orthodox economic theory and to social 'sciences' in general. So, when I talk about the refutability of a rational ideology vs. the irrefutability of irrational belief systems what I mean is that the former contains refutable hypotheses, (i.e. hypotheses which although cannot be 'proven' or 'disproven' by 'facts' still are amenable to rational discussion, namely, to discussion which can be informed by reason and evidence) whereas the latter contains a core of irrefutable hypotheses. The Marxist hypothesis, for instance, that as capitalism spreads all over the world it "creates a world after its own image"[10] is refutable and can be discussed rationally; in fact, it has been successfully challenged by radical development theory in the 1960s and the 1970s. On the other hand, there is no way to discuss rationally, for instance, the Christian belief in the Second Coming, or the Buddhist belief in reincarnation, the deep ecology's intuition on biocentric equality, or the New Age's belief in the 'inner dynamic' since all these beliefs are not refutable hypotheses derived through rational methods but irrational beliefs derived through intuition etc.

Of course, the refutation of some of the core beliefs of a rational ideology like Marxism does not constitute a refutation of the entire ideology and it is more than likely that it will not 'convert' the fanatic. Still, it may persuade the more sophisticated supporters of the ideology to start questioning some at least of their cheriched beliefs. In fact, core Marxist hypotheses (like some of the Marxist economic 'laws') have been tested by an appeal to reason/facts both by Marxists and non-Marxists and found wanting and this has significantly contributed to the decline of Marxism as an ideology (although some basic Marxist insights are still valid), much before the collapse of actual existing socialism. But, this kind of refutation is absolutely impossible with respect to irrational belief systems. First, because many of these beliefs cannot be refuted by any kind of rational method since they usually consist of non-refutable hypotheses (metaphysical beliefs, intuitions etc). Second, because even for those of such beliefs for which an appeal to reason and/or 'facts' is possible (e.g. various superstitions which we may rationally explain using today's knowledge), no such an appeal will ever be acceptable by believers, unless they are in the process of abandoning their faith. This is why very few, if any, core religious truths have collapsed (I am not talking about 'heresies'), despite the huge growth of knowledge, particularly in the last two centuries.

In other words, what matters in distinguishing between rational ideologies and irrational belief systems is the source of 'truth'. If the source of truth of the core ideas is reason/'facts', despite the fact that these ideas cannot be shown to be ?objective? (in the sense of general acceptability as in natural sciences), then we are talking about a rational (and refutable) ideology. On the other hand, if the source of truth of the core ideas is an irrational method (revelation, intuition etc) then we are talking about an irrational (and irrefutable) belief system. Of course, what is considered as a rational process of thought, varies in time and space. As Castoriadis[11] puts it "what is different in another society and another epoch is its very 'rationality', for it is 'caught' each time in another imaginary world." Still, this does not negate the criterion I used to distinguish between rational and irrational ideas: that in a rational ideology both its core and peripheral ideas are derived through a rational method (albeit spatially and historically constrained), whereas in an irrational belief system some at least of its core ideas are derived through a non-rational method.

The practical implication of the above distinction is that an irrational belief system, although perhaps useful for those that need it (for psychological or social reasons, or because they cannot just accept death as the end of existence, the burden of personal responsibility etc), it surely cannot be the basis for any rational interpretation of reality. For a rational interpretation of reality (always, of course, from a particular world-views?point of view) a rational ideology is needed.

One possible objection to the exclusive use of rational methods in understanding reality is that in the world of art, in particular, intuition as well as other non-rational methods have for long been used by artists in deriving their own 'truth' which, when successful, is identified with universal "truth." However, one must point out here that a work of art is of an entirely different nature than an ideology or an irrational belief system. As even Ernst Fisher, a Marxist, had to recognise in his classic work The Necessity of Art:

True as it is that the essential function of art for a class destined to change the world is not that of making magic but of enlightening and stimulating action, it is equally true that a magical residue in art cannot be entirely eliminated, for without that minute residue of its original nature, art ceases to be art. Art is necessary in order that man should be able to recognise and change the world. But art is also necessary by virtue of the magic inherent in it.[12]

In other words, given the dual function of art to enlighten but also to make magic, it is obvious that, leaving aside the issue of the artist's objectives, art is a completely inappropriate tool for a rational interpretation of reality. The magic element in art, which draws on the artist's non-rational inspiration, may be compatible with an irrational belief system, but not with a rational ideology. Therefore, for the same reasons for which an irrational belief system is completely inappropriate to give a rational interpretation of reality, art, because of its magical dimension, is correspondingly inappropriate for this purpose, although, of course, nobody could dispute its power to offer important insights about reality.

***

We in the modern West have the ability to choose how we will think, and we have the choice of not choosing, as well, as Keirkegaard writes: "Not to decide is to decide." We make choices regardless, and they determine what kind of persons we are. Our choices today determine whetgher we will phsically survive, and whether our children will live freely as we do or if they'll live in slavery as dhimmis under the boot of Islam. It will all depend, this struggle for the future, on which course of reality we collectively decide to take.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Greetings, Dear Readers!


We're whooping it up here at the fortress this evening for our annual Christmas party. Boy oh boy, we are getting down. We will later boogie. I like to get down. I like the night life.

Will return tomorrow with more German philosophy and Greek history and cranky stuff about Islam.

Till then, in advance, have a Merry Christmas.

Cheers, Dag and friends.

Man and Men: Bound


Identity politics and multiculturalism are two more strands of Left dhimmi fascism; they in turn bind to the overall theme of this blog, that of the conflation of Left and Right into a nihilistic and philobarbarist reaction that seeks to destroy the world of Modernity, of progress, universality and human freedom. It comes to this: if one is part of an identifiable group, then one is that first rather than first an individual. The accidents of birth make ones person valid rather than ones being as such making one valid. If, by the chance of birth, one is X, then one is forever X regardless of what one is as a person individually. As we've seen from Herder and especially in Fichte, one is of ones national language group, and by extension of ones racial group, real and authentic in the Kierkegaardian sense only among ones group in ones proper place. We consider this approach to epistemology, (not as ontology,) to be a post-Right Left dhimmi fascism.

For the sake of clarity and brevity we turn to wikipedia for a short explanation of 'Identity Politics."
***

Identity politics is the political activity of various social movements which represent and seek to advance the interests of particular groups in society, the members of which often share and unite around common experiences of actual or perceived social injustice. Such groups argue that they are in some way socially or politically disenfranchised, marginalized or disadvantaged relative to the wider society of which they form part. These movements seek to achieve better social and political outcomes for the members of such groups. In this way, the identity of the oppressed group gives rise to a political basis around which they then unite.

Identity politics also encompasses the development of a social identity for group members, and a body of thought which may be used to challenge dominant stereotypes about group members.

Identity politics may be based around race, ethnicity, sex, religion, caste, sexual orientation, physical disability or some other assigned or perceived trait. [....] Most group identities materialize through the collective consciousness of individuals about a commonly felt oppression or intersections of oppression, such as between race and class or sex and sexuality.

Identity politics along the political spectrum is based on the argument that a putatively oppressed group can use their identity as a source of collective resistance to their commonly felt oppression.

The group identity will deal with and seek to alleviate injustices associated with real or perceived oppression against them based on that identity. This may involve social and legislative reform like affirmative action with the goal that people within the group can in this way achieve equality. It can also involve a separatist approach. Particular focus in any form of identity politics is on the contrast between what is considered to be a social, political and occupational privilege of the dominant group(s) as compared to what is considered discrimination faced by the oppressed group. In this relationship the dominant, normative group is privileged to the oppression of the nondominant group.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics
***

We'll leave it at this for now. Our next view of identity will cover the beginning of racialist identity.

African Bifurcation


It's our contention that the Islamic world is committing suicide. We have examined in some depth the history of ecology and the philosophy of Irrationalism in relation to the division of Mankind between the Modernist West and the the primitive fascism of Islam and the Left dhimmi fascists who enable them in their self-destruction. It's our position that the world's populations are divided between those who seek further Modernity and those who are in a state of rage against it, who wish to destroy Modernity and return the world to a Romance utopia of pre-Modernity and collective tribal rule. Nowhere is that division between men more obvious than in Africa, particularly in west Africa. Below we have a report of Islam in Sierra Leone, of Sunnis on the rampage, of Saudi Arabians financing mosques and madrassas in the midst of squalor and disease and hopelessness and corruption, and of Lebanese Shiites funding terrorism further. This, in microcosm, is the future:

"Sierra Leone: An Obscure Battlefield in the War on Terrorism"

By Donald Temple

On the dusty trash strewn streets of the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, men, women, and children with missing arms and legs wander aimlessly through half-completed concrete buildings. The surrounding hills are covered with hastily constructed shanties made of corrugated iron, plastic, or any other material that can be turned into shelter. Further a field in the countryside, villages lay barren and evoke only the horrific memories of an almost decade-old civil war. This war-torn West African society, which every passing day teeters on collapse, is the last place in which one would expect the "cat and mouse" game between the West and Islamic extremists to unfold. As the al-Qaeda network morphs from a defined terrorist group into an amorphous ideology of "al-Qaedism," Sierra Leone--because of its historical ties to terrorism, internal dynamics, and external influences--could soon be pushed to the forefront of the war against terrorism.

Sierra Leone has a history of harboring Islamic militants. The first group to find sanctuary in the country was Hezbollah. From the 1980s onwards, Hezbollah agents, aided by the local Lebanese population, have operated out of Sierra Leone. In 1986, Yasser Arafat entered into negotiations with former President Joseph Momoh to build a PLO training camp on an island off of the coast of Freetown [1]. Further evidence of the ties arose when The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) released a report on the relationship between al-Qaeda, Charles Taylor, and the infamous Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone (RUF). The report showed that in the months prior to 9/11, al-Qaeda and the RUF, with Charles Taylor serving as conduit, traded money and weapons for diamonds. Sierra Leone's historical ties to Muslim extremists appear to still be intact. According to a December 2004 article in Freetown's African Champion, two al-Qaeda operatives returning from Pakistan were arrested while trying to enter Sierra Leone [2]. Moreover, in July 2005 three Middle Eastern "businessmen" with suspected ties to terrorist groups were arrested near the Liberia-Sierra Leone border [3].

These are unlikely to be isolated incidents. Indeed, as the United States and its allies deny terrorists safe havens in the Middle East, Asia, and the Sahel countries, the Muslim states of West Africa will likely become destinations for Islamic terrorist groups. Due to its internal features, Sierra Leone is a likely destination for terrorists. Together, the country's demographics, corruption, and unregulated territories and industries create an environment where terrorists can operate with almost total impunity.

Sierra Leone is a multi-racial society. Although the vast majority of people are of African descent, there are also Lebanese, Pakistani, and Indian communities. 60 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim, 30 percent follow indigenous religions, and the remaining ten percent is a mixture of Christians and Shi'ite Muslims of Lebanese descent [4]. These demographic factors combined with a substantial Lebanese presence enable terrorists to operate in Sierra Leone.

The Lebanese merchant class has historically served as the link between this small West African state and the broader radical Islamist movement. Hezbollah and now al-Qaeda have used their contacts within this community to acquire documentation, travel certificates, and financing for terrorist operations. These activities are aided by the corrupt government of Sierra Leone.

Similar to most states in Africa, Sierra Leone struggles with endemic corruption at all levels of society, especially at the governmental level. The most recent case of the government's collusion with individuals linked to terrorist groups involves a British national named Paddy McKay, who is wanted in the UK for alleged involvement with al-Qaeda. According to a report in the Freetown Peep, Paddy McKay with the help of Khalil Lakish, a Sierra Leonean of Lebanese descent who is also under investigation for bribery of government officials and ties to Hezbollah, obtained Sierra Leonean registrations for four planes with fraudulent information. The planes have since been tied to terrorist activity. According to two separate reports in The Independent and the Freetown Peep, McKay, who they allege also has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Algeria's Jamaat al-Islamia, has been using the Sierra Leonean registered planes to traffic illicit diamonds and distribute weapons to the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.


[....] This incident highlights the relationship between the global terrorist infrastructure, the local Lebanese merchant class and corrupt Sierra Leonean government officials. [....] Sierra Leone's internal environment offers one final advantage to terrorists: lack of government oversight over the diamond industry that is predominately monopolized by unscrupulous Lebanese merchants.

[....]

Despite the presence of over 17,000 UN troops, much of the interior of the country remains ungoverned [9]. Decades of civil war have left the country's transportation network in tatters. This lack of control can create an opportunity for al-Qaeda. Furthermore, with the UN scheduled to completely withdraw in December 2005, a major barrier to terrorist infiltration will have been removed.

External forces have historically played a significant role in shaping Sierra Leone, for better or worse. Sierra Leone's last insurgency was sparked by Muammar Qadhafi's destabilizing external influence. Qadhafi trained rebel leaders like Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor to be foot soldiers for his pan-African revolution. Sankoh initially justified his insurgency by proclaiming himself the liberator of the Sierra Leonean people from a corrupt government. People followed until they realized he was as corrupt as the government in Freetown. By then, he controlled the diamonds and could, in effect, wage war on Freetown indefinitely. This situation would have persisted without the intervention of British forces.

In 2000, rebel forces began an offensive on UN forces before moving on Freetown. British Prime Minister Tony Blair deployed 800 British soldiers to secure the airport and provide logistical support for the UN troops. British forces remained in Sierra Leone until 2003 to train the Sierra Leone Army. [....] On December 20, 2005 the UN will withdraw completely, leaving behind a modicum of a state where the underlying conditions of corruption and destitution, which led people to initially join the RUF in 1991, still exist today. The country suffers from endemic poverty, where the Sunni Muslim masses are disproportionately poorer than theLebanese Shi'ites and black Christians; the government is unashamedly corrupt; West Africa as a region is awash in weapons; unemployed child soldiers with no education roam the streets and religious fervor is on the rise. Given this terrible state of affairs, it is not surprising that Daudi Mwakawago, Sierra Leone's UN envoy, described the situation as "very explosive" [10].

Sierra Leone is a Muslim country on the precipice where external pressures, like in the past, will decisively influence the country. [....] The Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia have also aided Sierra Leone's recovery by funding the construction of mosques, Islamic education and cultural exchanges [12]. While there is nothing to suggest that these activities have had anything but a beneficial effect, the West needs to ensure that the influence of Iran and Saudi Arabia does not promote extremism.

[....]
http://jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2369857
***

"[T]here is nothing to suggest that these activities have had anything but a beneficial effect...."

We all cringe at such blatant stupidity. However, such is the state of our public intellectuals today. Such is the state of our government officials. We, the people, stand back in the shadows of officialdom with our mouths hanging open, stunned by the ignorance that passes as the legitimate discourse and analysis of our intelligentsia. It's the future staring at us, this evil swamp of primitivism in Sierra Leone, and there is next to nothing we can do to prevent it from spreading to our borders as refugees swarm across Africa bringing to Europe their Muslim hatreds, their conditioned poverty and violence and misogyny and neglect of their off-spring, their feral culture and religious fanaticism, their basic antipathy to Modernity, their impending suicide.
It's our position that temporary military intervention into the internal affairs of failed states is worse than worthless, that it is in fact nearly criminal. We suggest again that the only legitimate course of positive action is the armed intervention into failed states by private citizens from the Modern West, intervention that is in effect colonisation on a permanent basis. We argue than those Westerners who would venture into the world outside our homes settle in other lands, enslave the local populations, and rule till all are masters, intermarry till there is no difference between the rulers and the ruled, till all is Modernity without distinction. It is a prudent course for the West under threat from Islam, and it is a moral course for those whom Islam would drive wholesale into the grave. That our Left dhimmi fascists will scream about ethnocide and cultural imperialism is irrelevant and worthless, nor worthy of response. We, Modern men and women, will triumph. The only question of import is how many of our primitive cousins will live to benefit from our triumph.
--

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cigar Store Intellectuals: Identity

Moral hysteria substitutes for many today in place of emotion. It's easy and cheap, and hysteria calls attention to oneself in ways hard to ignore. One can be noticed in a crowd. For those who have no life of their own, moral hysteria is a wonderful way of feeling that one has something inside other than dust. Hysteria is a way of filling out the hollow men, giving them the appearance of personality, perhaps the illusion of intelligence, even, if all that fails, of calling attention to ones morality and moral superiority. It's all show, of course, but if one were to point it out, ah, then the screaming fit goes off the scale. those who have no religion are religious; the amoral are moralistic; the ciminal are legalistic; the lazy and smug are officious. The vacuuous, having nothing in mind, play-act. The play today is "Find the Witch." The acting method is moral hysteria. The setting is the West. The villans are Modernists, racists, islamophobes, racists, and yaddda, yadda.... The heroes: they are the those who can scream the loudest at the slightest hope of an imagined p.c. infraction. Below we have the lyrics that set the scene for our investigation into Identity and Philobarbarism, the stuff that dreams of witch-hunts are made on.
***

Recorded by hank williams
Written by hank williams and fred rose

Key: e capo: 2nd play: d

Kaw- [dm] liga, was a wooden indian standing by the door
He fell in love with an indian maid over in the antique store
Kaw-liga - a, just stood there and never let it [a7] show
So she could never answer yes or [dm] no.

He always wore his sunday feathers and held a tomahawk
The maiden wore her beads and braids and hoped someday he'd talk
Kaw-liga - a, too stubborn to ever show a sign
Because his heart was made of knotty pine.

Chorus
[d] poor ol' kaw-liga, he never got a kiss
[g] poor ol' kaw-liga, he don't know what he missed
[d] is it any wonder that his face is [a7] red
Kaw-liga, that poor ol' wooden [d] head. ... [dm]

Kaw-liga, was a lonely indian never went nowhere
His heart was set on the indian maiden with the coal black hair
Kaw-liga - a, just stood there and never let it show
So she could never answer yes or no.

Then one day a wealthy customer bought the indian maid
And took her, oh, so far away, but ol' kaw-liga stayed
Kaw-liga - a, just stands there as lonely as can be
And wishes he was still an old pine tree.

Chorus
***

Our current batch of Western public intellectuals, many at least, are enamoured of the idea that the West is evil. They gather at academies to trade their aerie thoughts and cluck cluck over the madness of the masses too stupid and falsely conscious to see their plight as both victims of capitalism and as oppressors of the Third World and the Environment. Pity the poor media, the low-lights of the intellgentsia, who have to parrot the cliches of their betters. And woe to us who have to slog through their droppings in our daily newspapers.

The man on the street is by now becoming truly and deeply disgusted by the mainstream media's constant clacking and posing and admonitions. It's the pose of the moral hysterics in the pulpit and the busy-bodies with axes attacking beer kegs during the other prohibition that wears thin, this play having gone on too long without a break. These actors have to retire.

And yet, people keep asking why things are as they are. This p.c. script seems to be the only one they know, and though they know they don't like it, they don't know of one better.

In coming posts we'll examine some of the script that passes for intellectual discourse in our public arena, and we'll stand back to let the reader decide what it means. We'll look at those who proclaim the wonders of Indians and the evils of cultural imperialism and inherent racism. We'll look at the roots of identity fascism and perhaps see what it means when people without thoughts express themselves hysterically instead. If we can see them for what they are, perhaps we can treat they musings as deserved.

Please join us for our next post on "Identitiy Fascism." (Just don't let anyone know you read this: you might go to jail for religious vilification.)
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Monday, December 19, 2005

Our Last Earthly Assumption (6)


Is Man right to leave his mark upon Nature? The decision we make there will defines how we see Humanity, how we treat our fellow Human beings, how we see our place on this planet and our purpose thereon. If we are environmentalists rather than humanists, our view of the Good will be radically different from what it would be otherwise, and from that position we might well hate Modernity, wish for nothing better than its destruction, and for the return of Man to a state of nature as a simple peasant. We might even support the ecological platform without realizing it, simply following naively the plan set by others whose hearts are not so pure as our own. In our attempt to save chickens and bunnies and trees and whales we might find we've fallen into some unpleasant traps. We have to sacrifice to make life: we sacrifice nature for man or man for nature. There might seem to be a middle ground, but no, there is not. Man is supreme or man is not.

This is the final installment of Peter Staudenmaier's excellent essay on Green Fascism.
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Fascist Ecology in Context

To make this dismaying and discomforting analysis more palatable, it is tempting to draw precisely the wrong conclusion --namely, that even the most reprehensible political undertakings sometimes produce laudable results. But the real lesson here is just the opposite: Even the most laudable of causes can be perverted and instrumentalized in the service of criminal savagery. The "green wing" of the NSDAP was not a group of innocents, confused and manipulated idealists, or reformers from within; they were conscious promoters and executors of a vile program explicitly dedicated to inhuman racist violence, massive political repression and worldwide military domination. Their 'ecological' involvements, far from offsetting these fundamental commitments, deepened and radicalized them. In the end, their configuration of environmental politics was directly and substantially responsible for organized mass murder.

No aspect of the Nazi project can be properly understood without examining its implication in the holocaust. Here, too, ecological arguments played a crucially malevolent role. Not only did the "green wing" refurbish the sanguine antisemitism of traditional reactionary ecology; it catalyzed a whole new outburst of lurid racist fantasies of organic inviolability and political revenge. The confluence of anti-humanist dogma with a fetishization of natural 'purity' provided not merely a rationale but an incentive for the Third Reich's most heinous crimes. Its insidious appeal unleashed murderous energies previously untapped. Finally, the displacement of any social analysis of environmental destruction in favor of mystical ecology served as an integral component in the preparation of the final solution:

To explain the destruction of the countryside and environmental damage, without questioning the German people's bond to nature, could only be done by not analysing environmental damage in a societal context and by refusing to understand them as an expression of conflicting social interests. Had this been done, it would have led to criticism of National Socialism itself since that was not immune to such forces. One solution was to associate such environmental problems with the destructive influence of other races. National Socialism could then be seen to strive for the elimination of other races in order to allow the German people's innate understanding and feeling of nature to assert itself, hence securing a harmonic life close to nature for the future.64

This is the true legacy of ecofascism in power: "genocide developed into a necessity under the cloak of environment protection." 65

* * *

The experience of the "green wing" of German fascism is a sobering reminder of the political volatility of ecology. It certainly does not indicate any inherent or inevitable connection between ecological issues and right-wing politics; alongside the reactionary tradition surveyed here, there has always been an equally vital heritage of left-libertarian ecology, in Germany as elsewhere.66 But certain patterns can be discerned: "While concerns about problems posed by humankind's increasing mastery over nature have increasingly been shared by ever larger groups of people embracing a plethora of ideologies, the most consistent 'pro-natural order' response found political embodiment on the radical right."67 This is the common thread which unites merely conservative or even supposedly apolitical manifestations of environmentalism with the straightforwardly fascist variety.

The historical record does, to be sure, belie the vacuous claim that "those who want to reform society according to nature are neither left nor right but ecologically minded."68 Environmental themes can be mobilized from the left or from the right, indeed they require an explicit social context if they are to have any political valence whatsoever. "Ecology" alone does not prescribe a politics; it must be interpreted, mediated through some theory of society in order to acquire political meaning. Failure to heed this mediated interrelationship between the social and the ecological is the hallmark of reactionary ecology.

As noted above, this failure most commonly takes the form of a call to "reform society according to nature," that is, to formulate some version of 'natural order' or 'natural law' and submit human needs and actions to it. As a consequence, the underlying social processes and societal structures which constitute and shape people's relations with their environment are left unexamined. Such willful ignorance, in turn, obscures the ways in which all conceptions of nature are themselves socially produced, and leaves power structures unquestioned while simultaneously providing them with apparently 'naturally ordained' status. Thus the substitution of ecomysticism for clear-sighted social-ecological inquiry has catastrophic political repercussions, as the complexity of the society-nature dialectic is collapsed into a purified Oneness. An ideologically charged 'natural order' does not leave room for compromise; its claims are absolute.

For all of these reasons, the slogan advanced by many contemporary Greens, "We are neither right nor left but up front," is historically naive and politically fatal. The necessary project of creating an emancipatory ecological politics demands an acute awareness and understanding of the legacy of classical ecofascism and its conceptual continuities with present-day environmental discourse. An 'ecological' orientation alone, outside of a critical social framework, is dangerously unstable. The record of fascist ecology shows that under the right conditions such an orientation can quickly lead to barbarism.
http://www.spunk.org/library/places/germany/sp001630/peter.html
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This is the last part of our look at ecology until we return to look at Heidegger at some point in the future. The point of it all has been to bring to our awareness that we in the West are pulling in tow directions against ourselves. We think we should cherish the natural, but we live in an unnatural environment. We sometimes sentimentalise nature without realizing that when we do we devalue Humanity.

Ecology comes in two varieties: prudential and ideological. The confusion in the public mind between these two approaches leads some to commit themselves to our destruction as the modern West. We find oursevles supporting murderers, for example, who seem to be living the very lifestyles we claim as ecologists to support. We support tolerance of Islam against the perceived evils of industrial and technological capitalist Modernity. We must examine the assumptions that lead us to support both ecologically sound practices and also require us to support those who live in a state of nature. The two are not the same, as we hope to God the reader has understood by now.

This will end our look at ecology as fascism for now. Next we'll examine another aspect that is closely related to ecology fascism, that of "identity politics." Again, what seems good on the surface is not so when one closely examines it. We hope you'll don your favorite fur coat and pullup your computer screen to read more. We thank you for your time and attention, realizing that these posts are both long and detailed and that the average person has to work for a living, leaving little time for such things as this. Neverteheless, we expect you back tomorrow.

The Masque of Identity



What is Man's place among Men? Is a man part of his family, his clan, his tribe, his nation? And if man is worthwhile only among his own people as a member of his group from which he derives his identity, what of the man who is Exile? What of man who is of the city rather than the land? of the world rather than the nation? of himself rather than of all?

What do we make of a people exiled from their land? Not the Jews, not the Palestinians: what do we make of New Yorkers? What group are they? What race, what tribe, what clan, what family? What language and religion and tradition? What is the identity of New Yorkers? We'll begin below to look at the nature of Identity as politics, as a part of the fascist identity of Man. We'll see below the beginnings of Romantic nationalism and how it grew to encompass man as citizen rather than man as person. We'll see in time how man as citizen becomes man as legitimate and Other as not.

What makes a man belong? We have below two views: one of nation, a second some thoughts from John Donne.
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Romantic nationalism.

One of Romanticism's key ideas and most enduring legacies is the assertion of nationalism, which became a central theme of Romantic art and political philosophy. From the earliest parts of the movement, with their focus on development of national languages and folklore, and the importance of local customs and traditions, to the movements which would redraw the map of Europe and lead to calls for "self-determination" of nationalities, nationalism was one of the key vehicles of Romanticism, its role, expression and meaning.

Early Romantic nationalism was strongly inspired by Rousseau, and by the ideas of Johann Gottfried von Herder, who in 1784 argued that the geography formed the natural economy of a people, and shaped their customs and society.

The nature of nationalism changed dramatically, however, after the French Revolution, with the rise of Napoleon, and the reactions in other nations. Napoleonic nationalism and republicanism were, at first, inspirational to movements in other nations: self-determination and a "consciousness" of national unity were held to be two of the reasons why France was able to defeat other countries in battle. But as the French Republic became Napoleon's Empire, Napoleon became not the inspiration for nationalism, but the object of it. In Prussia, the development of spiritual renewal as a means to engage in the struggle against Napoleon was argued by, among others, Johann Gottlieb Fichte a disciple of Kant. The word Volkstum, or nationality, was coined in German as part of this resistence to the now conquering emperor. Fichte expressed the unity of language and nation in his address "To the German Nation" in 1806:

Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they understand each other and have the power of continuing to make themselves understood more and more clearly; they belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole. ...Only when each people, left to itself, develops and forms itself in accordance with its own peculiar quality, and only when in every people each individual develops himself in accordance with that common quality, as well as in accordance with his own peculiar quality—then, and then only, does the manifestation of divinity appear in its true mirror as it ought to be.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanticism
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John Donne, "Meditation XVII"

from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris.

Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me and see my state may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingrafted into the body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery or a borrowing of misery, as though we are not miserable enough of ourselves but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current moneys, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels as gold in a mine and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction digs out and applies that gold to me, if by this consideration of another's dangers I take mine own into contemplation and so secure myself by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.
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If men have rights, what are they? Do rights vary according to ones birthplace and accidents of nature? Is man determined according to the culture into which he is born? Is Man his own possession or is he the property of his group? Is man single and adrift alone or is he part of the continent? How we decide these questions determines how we see our Modernity. If we look at man as part of the whole, then man is not legitimately himself alone. If Nature is paramount and man is but one small thing within, and if man within Mankind is but a speck, then we will have formed an approach toward an attitude. It is this attitude that determines how we view our own place in this, our own time.