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Zeldin: Intimate History of Humanity

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Roots of one's pleasures and emotions:
Chinese eye - sees nature as having its own life, untamed
Persian heart - romantic love
African ear - music
Mongol nomadic sense of freedom
-must search further than ancestors for roots of freedom and to understand emotions and ambitions

Man is faced with basic loneliness
-immunity from loneliness using loneliness as vaccine via:
1/ hermit - professional alien to seek internal peace
2/ turn inwards
3/ awareness of the absurd - be an eccentric
4/ sense that individual contains echoes of the incomprehensible coherence/ order of the world, has divine spark, recognise a link of generosity between themselves and others, rational and emotional connections which mean that they are part of a wider whole, which leads to altruism
-diminish FEAR of being alone: only then can one relate to others on terms of mutual respect


Desire is basic root in man
-'win' from WEN, to desire; 'lose' from LOS, to set free
-courtly lover did not want to possess his ideal; he played to lose; in war, possession is the goal, but in love it is really play, one of the conditions of creativity
-fascination with what is strange is, like play, a step to creativity
-this opposition of war and love is the kernel of the new stage in human relations (rise of new hospitality, compassion, creativity, friendship (vs traditional hospitality and friendship)

Basic desire: Sex
-for pagan religions, the world was one great self-sustaining sexual machine: the sky impregnated the earth with its moisture, and every copulation was part of this permanent process of self-renewal, an affirmation of kinship with nature. For followers of Shiva, sexual instincts were proof that they had something of the divine in them too.
-forms of sexual pleasure:
1/the gratification that one was part of a whole reinforced by feeling that one could contribute personally to keeping the world going, for nature had to be encouraged as well as thanked.
(Feasts of Love)
-Chinese made sex central to medicine. Men could stengthen themselves through frequent intercourse, which produced energy by uniting the m and f principles
2/ promiscuity, pornography, fetishism
3/ love, which is truly creative but a mystery because it is not selfish, and is therefore disruptive to business. In Kamasutra, love is perfect only when both parties are victorious
-sexual relations between men in four phases:
1/ conservative force, ritual, magic, integral part of pagan religion, whose gods enjoyed all forms of sex; only when sex ceased to be a divin amusement was homosexuality seriously persecuted.(Shamans, St Aelred of Rivaulx exalted it as a way of discovering divine love)
2/ 12c mass repression in Europe as part of campaign against heresies by Inquisition, making it dangerous and clandestine
-Wilde maintained that we should express desires openly and freely to rejuvenate world, but this was unlikely because people feared to admit what they are really like, so as second-best course, people should discover the satisfactions of pretending and concealing, acting a part and making a fool of oppressors and critics. Genet said there was no point in trying to be oneself because it was impossible to know when one was truly authentic.
Cominique Fernandez said without persecution of homos, which for him means being a pariah, reinforcing his sense of being different from others by being interested in matters which cannot be discussed openly: "Sex is not what interests me most in homos" and cannot be happy homos. Desire is the accomplice of the forbidden. It's not enough to be candid; you need desire, which is not tamable, cannot be articulated.
3/19c homos no longer a sin, but a disease, a sign of defective upbringing, or the result of a genetic disposition. The word homos coined in 1869 by Viennese Benkert to show that homos constituted a third sex independently of their will; hitherto the names they were known by were jocular, not medical, and the world 'gay' revives this tradition. This segregation created enormous anxiety, as homos probed into their deepest feelings, with remarkable artistic results, and rediscovered their history (Newton, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Beethoven?, Hans C Andersen, Horatio Alger. Renaissance Florence -> San Fransisco
-culmination in 'coming out of the closet, the proclamation of Queer Nation,
4/ but they want more than just to be themselves, having as their ultimate goal to escape from themselves, seeking partners from other cultures, other generations, different social classes.
TE Lawrence found Arab love to 'quit me of my English self'. Desire was the magic which made possible transitions into unknown territory. AIDS prompted investigation of new kinds of relationships 'based on esteem rather than passion or convention', new forms of love-making, more like women's conception of the erotic. Friendships between homos and heteros, where desire ceases to be aggressive, have become a significant new relationship.
-Les Nuits Fauves by Cyril Collard - desperate to escape from aimlessness, determined not to be ashamed of being so many different persons in his life, even while constantly doubting whether there was talent in any of them, refused to be categorised in any way, even sexually 'I am a man but sometimes I feel female.' To be alive means to participate in the 'planetary battle', to be a 'part of history' through the intermediary of the love of another person; not simply being Me, nor You and Me (but We)
-desire is no more inexplicable than taste. Over the centuries, it has been extraordinarily flexible and versatile, serving opposing causes, playing many different roles in history, sometimes mysterious
Age-long desire to have power over others
-first recorded theology (Sumeria): humans were created to relieve the gods of the need to work. Soon kings claimed to be gods and priests demanded price for their consolations -> elite => luxury living, arts, but for majority civilization was only a protection racket (mafia). Respect reserved for those who lived at the expense of others. The more prosperous a civilisation, the more people it attracts from outside, and the more it spends on defense -> collapse
-pecking order of hens rigid - when one taken away for weeks and returned to flock, it resumes old rank. Reward is flock lived in peace. Price is injustice - those at bottom of hierarchy suffer from stress and are scapegoats when danger. Same with rabbits, wolves, rats, baboons. Nature seems to say that equality impossible, only the strong get respect.
Chimpanzees - fight but in 40 minutes kiss and stroke former enemies and crowd applauds the kiss. Males make peace twice as often as remales, as though power for m depends on forming alliances, which are never permanent; females much less concerned with status and do not make obeisance to each other; their coalitions are of a small circle of family and firends, whom they choose for emotional reasons, and not on the basis of importance in the hierarchy.
-chimps do not punish children; thus do not maintain close ties with them either, unlike rhesus monkeys, who are more aggressive and punish children but maintain life-long bond with them.
-f chimps establish peace between m: after fight, one brings two m rivals together, sitting between them, allowing both to groom her, and then slip away to let them groom each other. While the f stimulate affection, the m call a truce to hostilities by developing common interests, or pretending to (one finds object, calls others to look, the rivals remain later and groom)
-aggression to 'win' respect (war) outmoded. I.e., in business, aggressive manager changed - power claims to be domestic game in which everyone wins. Managers encourage staff to find solutions for themselves. Power, terror don't gain respect. Democracy promises respect for everyone but stymied by gradations of disrespect created by money, education and appearance. Respect requires mediators, aribrators, encouragers and counsellors, 'peaceweavers (Icelanic sagas).

New form of power
The 'social intermediary' profession still in its infancy
-priests the first intermediaries, then merchants (Hermes a trickster and thief - the temptation to sin inherent in their occupation (Aquinas))
-catalyst term 1835 - the ambition most appropriate for those who see world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking they can control it, wish to influence its direction
-until businessman could be imagined in such a creative role, he remained modest, retiring to aritocratic life when he made his fortune. Only interested in immediate family.
[Islam's rapid expansion was a commercial as well as religious victory.]
-Maimondies Guide for the Perplexed offered a way out of 'irresoluteness': Character consists in keeping out of the way of fools, not in conquering them... I seek no victory for the honour of my soul.' 'Even when men insult me, I do not mind, but answer politely with friendly words, or remain silent.
-musicians the most important intermediaries of the emotions

Dealing with emotions, the enemy
Overcoming fear:
1/ with the help of fear itself, by escaping from one fear to another, which contains more hope. Vikings set out on voyages because they felt an even more unbearable fear that their name and reputation, not just their body and soul, might vanish into nothingness after death. Needed immortal reputation [this is why people have children - to achieve immortality on earth]
2/ curiosity about something completely different Marco Polo such curiosity that he forgets fear
3/ reducing fear - Yoga: by ceasing to be person in normal sense. Give up possessions, triumph over bodily demands until mind dissolves. Become part of universal soul [reducing fear of survival -> more sex (Norwegian rat)] ie,
4/ sex and friendship reduce fear/ anxiety

Despair
Japanese solution is to turn it into an aesthetic experience, to find beauty only in what is impermanent, to insist that unless beauty and love were fragile and perishable, they would not be beautiful. But the desire to be moved at the cost of suffering is ancient. Helplessness in the face of the cruelty of the world is part of the sense of cosmic gloom on which every civilisation has been built.
-most elaborate remedy for gloom is consumer society (luxury for the masses), a revolution equivalent to a new religion
-19c England belief in improvement vs tradition (though this survives in cultivation of nostalgia/ antiques)
-consumerism lost sense of direction when it adopted 2 myths to guide it:
1/ private vices are the source of public proserity.
Avarice, pride, envy and greed, rather than friendlienss and kindness are the necessary bases of successful economy, said
Bernard Mandeville in Fable of the Bees.
2/ Frank Baum in Wizard of Oz claims anything is possible with consumerism, and fantasies can be turned into realities. But the appetite for things is insatiable; there is no ultimate satisfaction in things.
Since then, consumer society has evolved: 1/ 2/3 of developed country workers now work in services rather than by making objects. 2/ Consumers now buy services (involving personal contacts) more than objects. 3/ Cost of goods falls, but not services. Self-service limited by time, the most precious of all 'commodities'. More goods means more commitments for using up time. 4/ Luxuries are those things that money cannot buy (personal relations). It is consummation, not consumption, that peolpe seek, the intensity of experience, not things or free time. Weakness of Green Movement - asceticism, which world of want will always reject as lng as there is inequality. It cannot become a political force if only concerned with natural resources as opposed to the full range of human desires.
-leisure and consumption is not only goal. Other more satisfying links between humans, ie, travel, but problems: relations of m/f, cultural narrowness, problems of time and disintegrating family, which are also opportunities.

To deal with enemies: (1/ magic)
2/ fight them - increasingly difficult, creates war-inertia (war breaks monotony of life, when life at risk, value life more
3/ run away - the only result is to establish an order of dominance. Once caught in competition for superiority, you lose your independence. The purpose of life (Laborit - biologist) to survive, which requires calm and stress-avoidance. When rats being tortured can't escape, blood pressure permanently high, ulcers, lose hope, so that when cage is opened, they are too frightened to escape. Even fight relieves stress of torture (but leads to war-inertia). When you can't escape physically, you can in your thoughts. Of course, for work this means unemployment. So you become inhibited which is like the permanently caged rat. Try to escape from inhibitions by talking, writing, getting angry, or insulting those who annoy you? Otherwise, inhibitions will inhibit the immune system, which is the way to punish yourself when others fail to understand you.
4/ befriend
5/ compassion - in 'the battle of the sexes' compassion is acquiring a new significance. Not just a gift of nature, but the essential quality which the partners have to develop to make the partnership work. Old style compassion meant helping others to clear one's conscience vs new style, which means discovering others as individuals, exchanging understanding with them. The anonymity of the unemployment queue is only half a victory. Mere tolerance will not avoid conflicts.

Tolerance
Ghandi might have placed less emphasis on the spread of general goodwill and more on the building of individual relationships, personal interest in the beliefs and thinking of others today.
His emphasis on tolerance was not enough. A saint can be an inspiration, but not a model: it is impossible to educate or force people to be tolerant for very long. Asoka, the legendary Indian ruler, is revered, but not followed. The tyranny of the majority is weakening as majorities disintegrate into more and more minorities. Mere toleration would end up with general indifference. Tolerance is only a stepping stone to understanding others, the great adventure that lies beyond it - more ambitious than the ancient obsession with conquest.

Relations
Carnegie: people fear making fools of themselves when they opened their mouths. Answer: smile, never argue, never tell anyone they are wrong, never find fault, be a Nice Guy. Do not be different from others, and they will be your 'friends'.

Friend - for most of history friendship has had nothing to do with affection. Rather a friend is a protector or someone useful to whom you sold your allegiance in return for favours. Only recently have services of government officials etc not been won as a personal favour and paid for with one's independence. Based on society of powerful.

Families - divorce up, size down, patriarchy weakening, children's rights, social institutions stronger and interfering with tradition family => family transformed into a loose consuming organisation (vs tight working unit)
-family traditionally where people have been generous to each other, but as a unit where its own interests come first, merciless to those members who fail to fulfil their obligations to it. To reduce this tension: 1/ reduced family size (less obligations, more rights for individuals in family, more ability to be open to outside) 2/ reinvent large family as circle of individuals united by affection and often closer emotionally than kin ever were, and without the ghosts of childhood (though requiring understanding of the others' own childhood ghosts) [generosity an expression of freedom]
-Naskapi Native American: you French love only your own children,but we love all the children of the tribe
-Mohave: delinquent child was called wild, crazy or obnoxious, but treated with tolerance, for it was believed that misbehaviour was induced by supernatural as well as temperamental forces, which were beyond an individual's control: such a child was recognised as a future shaman. Only gross violence was beyond the limit. Such complaisance possible because children belonged to the community, rather than to their parents, the attitude of Amerindians to all property. Generosity the supreme virtue. The chief not man with most possessions, but the least, for he gave most away, built up most gratitude. No buying and selling, only exchange of gifts. Destroying everything belonging to the dead eliminated temptation to build up family fortunes. Wealth had no prestige in most tribes, but dignity, wisdom and spirituality.
You could appropriate any object which no one else was using (only recognised USE value). Spreading affections so broadly meant no deep love for one. Marriages fragile. Little anger within tribe -> constant war (their only 'foreign policy' so couldn't adopt to demands of white invasion)

Friend/ Family-subsititute
-for Swat Pukhtun of north Pakistan, society is full of enmity. They (and in Guatamala) develop close friendship m/m as ally against enemies. The Swat P ideal friend comes from outside tribe, a foreigner who they can treat lavishly. They migrate willingly to escape family jealousies. Generosity flowers most freely in cruel soil. [Zoroastrian word for God is Friend]
-seek artificial siblings to invent relationships from which envy would be excluded, but if brotherhoods limit themselves to two or a few individuals, if they have no foreign policy towards the rest of the world but war, they are in the long term self
-destructive
-traditional gift-giving makes recipient debtor, and a benefactor can easily become an enemy. Generosity can avoid that only by being the joint effort of two people who have succeeded in putting themselves in the place of the other (the 'foreign policy' basis for family/ friend unit)

Foreign policy in human relations to deal with danger:
1/ magic though this -> fear
2/ war 3/ run away
4/ friendship/ love as magic uniting people (-> fear of losing love and leaving you open to enemies)
5/ generosity to others (-> fear of being made a fool of)
-can be taught to children, not just relying on instinct or imitation - teach them to play the role of another

[Time - 'retirement' and 'weekend' are recent. Artisans used to take Sunday, Monday and more days off depending on how much income they needed to subsist (Bank Holiday Mondays are token survivals).
-Judaism says take a sabbatical every seven years (stop tilling land, cancel debts, release slaves)
-sense of 'not enough time', obsession with 'keeping time' the result of commodity fetishism]

Ways of surviving with minimum of pain:
1/ obey, accept life as it is
2/ as negotiator, bargaining to get the best possible deal out of life
3/ concentrate on private life - to do this well means becoming a saint or sage, whose ambition includes being in some way useful to others. One can never be interesting enough to be the sole object of one's own attention.
4/ search for knowledge. Knowledge is still a serpent eating its own tail (professional jargon, esoteria), and it is ultimately a deadend
5/ talk, get rid of one's gloom by bringing out all one's secrets
-boast or sing like Beowulf and the Vikings and birds, to feel better, but beware, there are few good listeners
6/ travel - flight from normal living, from wealth and power and the glories of this world, from the worry for tomorrow. To become immune to the tragedy of life, to learn to commune with nature, to acquire peace of mind, after which he could go home, build a hut and never move again (17c Tu Lung, The Travels of Ming-Liao-Tzu)
7/ be creative. Originally only God was a creator. Only in the 1870s did the word 'creative' enter French slang, used by artists when the crowds in the salons could not understand them. Creativity was the male's substitute for childbearing. It demands both introvert and extrovert qualities, not necessarily in same person: the meeting of two individuals has often triggered more originality than genius in one.
Longer lifespans means it is time to rethink whether one wishes to spend it all travelling in the same bus. Even when one has decided about one's method of transport, one still needs to know where to go.

A new phase in history begins when ancient and simple hospitality (traditional hosp. free help to any stranger) is succeeded by a deeper hosp. Hosp. to strange IDEAS, and when encounters with the unknown modify their view of themselves.
-Russians, suddenly free to think and say what they pleased, but mind has to struggle to break away from its habits, political freedom does not automatically liberate it
-most thinking happens automatically, but parts of the process can be steered:
1/ You can ask different questions of your perceptions. The mind is blocked by old categories. We must be more hospitable to the nuances of life. Try new categories.
2/ Memories block creative thinking. You remember the same things, some memories have established a supremacy like tyrants, and information that comes in is used to reinforce them, instead of being dissected to reveal new facts. Turn you memory into a source of energy by drawing new implications from old memories, stimulating them with new questions or expanding them, incorporating experiences of others. Russians are fascinated by other countries but have difficulty in looking at their own memories through the eyes of an outsider.
3/ Use the imagination to unblock the traffic jams in the brain.
-impossible to feel fully alive unless one takes risks and uses imagination
-women's intuition neither magic nor genius but the result of close attention to minute signs and an interest in unspoken emotions, using past experience in the face of uncertainty PLUS an imaginative jump to spot similarities between the present and the past. That means being hospitable to facts which are usually ignored.
-for those who feel, life is a tragedy; for those who think, it is a comedy. For those who think and feel, it is an adventure, since you will be hospitable to all that is alive
-Chinese 16c Lu K'un Song of Good People: separation of upper and lower classes disastrous for human feelings. Need to put oneself in the place of others while realising that others are not necessarily like the self. Not just education, as educated children are rebellious. Expect nothing from govt bureaucracy.
Not end poverty through charity, because that perpetuates dependence. Recognise that all good people are sick. The only cure is to share personal experiences. Shared suffering the origin of a sense of community. Only the degree of insight people have into their own ailments, rather than their wealth made them deserving of respect. Individual self-interest always the basis of action, but could lead to community if hierarchy replaced by information exchange. Main cause of social discord not selfishness but inability to put oneself in other people's shoes.

Re-evaluate Islam, fundamentalism
-jihad means war, but also effort
-itjihad means the faithful required to work out individually how they should behave in matters not directly covered by the holy texts
-ikhtilaf means divergences which Abu Hanifah (700-767) declared to be allowed by Allah
-Sufi poet Rumi (1207-1283) to be human is to be confused, in love, unable to decide what is right and wrong, but through music and dance it was possible to discover what really mattered. He founded the order of Whirling Dervishes to dance oneself out of pain, uncertainty and separation into ecstasy, to be friend of God
-fundamentalists in Egypt reacting to lack of hospitality in cities. Cities both attract and reject, and underprivileged must help themselves, so fundamentalists include intellectuals and illiterate and poor who feel rejected. By accepting rigid traditions that each sex and age group must perform only certain roles, they limit competition; with advancing age, an individual can look forward to a new role. For Pentecostal fundamentalists in Latin American, by giving prestige to men in the family, they have restored their pride, and women's acceptance of a submissive role conceals the creation of a new kind of family, with wives more active and men more domestic and affectionate.
Fundamentalism a force as powerful as communism once was, a reply to injustice and bewilderment.

Debate about how to achieve a better life - by individual effort or collective action - has no point, because they are two sides of the same coin. It is difficult to do anything without help or inspiration from outside oneself. Christianity spread slowly over a rotting civilisation where individuals felt that official institutions were ceasing to be relevant to their needs and sought consolation from each other.
-today, a hero is not so much one who sets an example for others to follow, because the ideal relationship involves each partner being made more alive by the other; heroes must be able to receive as well as to give. One-way influence is dispiriting or corrupting. To benefit from a hero, one must be a bit of a hero oneself; have courage. Heroic relationship is an exchange of courage. Heroes are intermediaries, who open the world up to one another. Everyone can be a hero. Cannot demand respect only for oneself. Seek self-respect by helping others to respect one another. Traditional methods of legislation and agitation have never been enough to change mentalities.
History an endless procession of passers-by, most of whose encounters have been missed opportunities. But next time two people meet, the result coud be different. That is the origin of anxiety, but also of hope, which is the essence of humanity.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

From Books

  • Reviews of James Petras, The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire, Clarity, 2016

    Jeremy Hammond, Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Worldview, 2016

    It is time to assess the legacy that President Obama bequeaths us. These two timely books contribute to this, Hammond focusing on the “special relationship”, Petras, more broadly on US imperialism. Both are pessimistic about the possibility of any change without an active, articulate citizens' movement that has staying power, thereby creating the conditions for a political renewal.


    Hammond's work is detailed, documenting the period starting with Obama's 2008 victory and Israel's immediate response: its invasion of Gaza in December. Throwing down the gauntlet, which president-elect Obama refused to pick up.


    There were more such attacks to come, involving seizing aid flotillas headed for Gaza, culminating in a repeat of that full scale invasion of Gaza in 2014, both killing thousands of innocents. Hammond's main point is to separate Obama's weak, nice words -- "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines" -- with his inability to move towards fulfilling them.

  • Azizi Ansari's runaway bestseller Modern Romance is the perfect self-help book. Lots of data, thoughtful interviews with psychologists and 'victims', funny. The celebrated stand-up comic confirms the truth in the oxymoron, "the wise fool". And surprisingly, finds that humans pretty well figured things romantic out long before computers.

    A few nuggets

    Experiments on rats show the "uncertainty principle" in rewards: reward the rat when it presses the knob till s/he figures out it must press the lever to get the treat, but after that, only reward it intermittently. Their reward dopamine levels increase beyond the level when they always get rewarded for knob-pushing, like they're "being coked up". We are rats: in the human version of the experiment, women are most attracted to those guys who are in the 'uncertain' group, those who rated them high are second rate. No doubt this works the same for men.
  • The Gaspé  is considered one of the top hiking spots in the world, after the Grand Canyon, the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Swiss Alps. There are 6,000 km of trails, and a range of vistas from mountains to cliffs facing the mouth of the St Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean. And best of all, it is hardly known outside Quebec—a spectacular, untouched place right in our own backyard.

    For the past decade, hundreds of cross-country skiers—nearly all of them Quebeckers—have come for a six-day, 100-mile-plus ski odyssey through the winter wonderland at the eastern edge of Canada’s largest province. After an article in the New York Times in 2013, 100 Yanks showed up, but as yet, very few Anglo-Canadians. Two years ago, hardy hikers started coming at the end of September to see the fall colours and the caribou, and I opted to join them this year.

    Saturday – The 8-hour 'trek' from Toronto to Montreal brought me to the bus to Gaspé at 5am, just in time. Our guide to Gaspé, Gilbert, was one of the many volunteers, a physiotherapist by profession, our residential doctor for sore feet. He is a joker, and over the microphone acted the voice of an airline pilot explaining to brace ourselves for the 2-hour climb that evening on arrival in Gaspé "to reach the hotel". Ìn line for coffee I met Robert, who is a Montreal-based fundraiser for nonprofit organizations and hospitals, a charmer, well in tune with his profession. We settled in for the 10-hour trip to Carleton-sur-Mer, on the south coast, before moving northeast to Gaspé and then east to Percé.
  • Eric Walberg has now written three books on the topic of Islamic culture in relation to Western geo-politics and world events. He is a prolific journalist and scholar who has lived in Central Asia and the Middle East (1).

    In Walberg's third book, “Islamic Resistance to Imperialism” (2015, Clarity Press, 304 pages), he presents a view of the world most people in the West, especially those exposed to a diet of mainstream media may not be familiar with or sympathetic to. Issues that deal with religion, culture and geo-politics are inherently complex. Even worse, disinformation is intentionally promulgated by Western governments and their lapdogs in the media to mislead the public into supporting the West's “war on terror.”

    The constant drumbeat in the media is that Muslims are “terrorists” and that America needs to police the world to rid this evil. Since communist-totalitarianism in its most overt form fell in the East, a new boogie man needed to to be invented in order to justify the military industrial complex. The gradual demonisation of Muslims in the Hollywood media (See the documentary: “Reel Bad Arabs”) culminated in what I believe was a false flag terror attack on 911. The myth of the Muslim Terrorist was born.

    For this reason, Walberg's book is a healthy antidote to our largely uninformed and biased views on the world's largest growing religious grouping.

  • Eric Walberg is a Canadian journalist who converted to Islam and has been covering the Middle East for a number of years. I do not know whether there are other books about Islam by converts, but this one is written by someone who is fiercely political and who sees Islam as a remedy to the world's ills.[tag]

    Although Walberg does not say so explicitly, the notion of resistance to imperialism has been basic to Islam since the beginning of the Palestinian struggle against Great Britain in the nineteenth century. After the creation of Israel, Iran, Lebanon and Syria became known as 'frontline states' in that resistance (see my review of http://click here).

    This is an ambitious book that may suffer from being at once an argument for Islam as the solution to the woes of the modern world and an analysis of the various aspects of Islamism as well as a history of Islamism's progress or lack thereof by country.

    The fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet - growing faster, according to Time magazine, than the population - notwithstanding Islamophobia - suggests that its appeal is fundamentally different from that of other religions, and Walberg makes that point eloquently, quoting Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member Essam el-Erian, on the Iranian revolution:

    "Young people believe Islam is the solution to the ills in society after the failure of western democracy, socialism and communism to address the political and socio-economic difficulties." It prompted Saudi rebels to occupy the Kaaba that same year in an attempt to spark revolution, Syrian Muslims to rise against their secular dictator Hafez al-Assad in 1980 and future Al-Qaeda leader Aymin Zawahiri to conspire to assassinate Egyptian president Sadat in 1981."

  • Kevin Barrett has become a legend in the US as a fearless journalist who cuts to the quick, his political and analytic skills leading to provocative, truthful explanations of our mostly inexplicable reality. He has written several books dealing with 9/11, and is currently an editor at Veterans Today, and pundit at Press TV, Russia Today, al-Etejah and other international channels. His website is TruthJihad.com. He builds on a well-established American journalistic tradition of brave exposers of government misdoings. Bill Blum and Seymour Hirsh are best known, but there are hundreds more.

    Great American tradition

    Blum is a legend from the 1960s, as the first to amass detailed proof of false flags by the US government. If you still have any trust in the US government's foreign policy, you haven't read Blum's Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since WWII (2004), which documents more than 50 blatant US overthrows of democratic government in the 3rd world, though溶ote溶one occurred in the US (Pearl Harbor is suspicious but no slam-dunk).

    There's no question that the false flag experts in the US government weren't aware of the greatest terrorist event in US history. There are a string of whistle-blowers that show how evidence was ignored or buried building up to the event, evidence which if properly shared by the intelligence agencies, with their special al-Qaeda and Taliban watch groups, could have prevented 9/11. David Shipler interviews several of these forgotten heroes in Freedom of Speech:Mightier Than the Sword (2015). 

  • In Islam, the first two adjectival "most beautiful names" of God are al-Rahman al-Rahim, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. (Or, in Michael Sells' translation, "the Compassionate, the Caring.") The Arabic root of both words derives from "womb" and connotes the kind of outrageously generous love and compassion a mother feels for her children.

    These days, the Western discourse on Islam “especially political Islam“ is not exactly overflowing with compassion and generosity. As the French-Algerian Jew Albert Memmi wrote in The Coloniser and the Colonized, colonizers typically take a very ungenerous view of the people they are attacking, occupying, brutalizing and exploiting. If they admitted the humanity of their victims, they would look in the mirror and see a brutish criminal. So to avoid facing the truth, they project their own criminal brutality on the colonized victim.

    Memmi notes that Western colonizers typically refuse to acknowledge the positive traits of colonized Muslims. Even an admirable virtue such as generosity “ a notable feature of Islamic cultures“ is made into a vice: "Those crazy Muslims don't know the value of money; accept their hospitality, and they'll feed you a meal that costs a month of their salary, and offer you a gift worth ten times that. They're just not frugal!"
  • Book review

    Ken Ballen, Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals, Free Press, 2011.


    This is a strange book—a racy title, documenting the way six jihadis turned to al-Qaeda and its spin-offs in desperation to find some kind of fulfilment in life. There are several Romeo and Juliette stories, though the author seems oblivious to the fact that the 'love' in the title is mostly about devotion to God, however mistaken.

    Ballen is president and founder of Terror Free Tomorrow, “a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that investigates the causes of extremism”. Ballen's CV suggests “nonpartisan” can be taken with a grain of salt, as he spent two decades in law enforcement and intelligence, and was given grudging accommodation by the Pakistani ISI intelligence, and free access to the Saudi Ministry of Intelligence (MOI) Care Center, where captured jihadis are sent for rehabilitation.

    As well as his extended interviews in Saudi Arabia, he gained access to several jihadis still on the run, and relates a truly remarkable story—if he is to be believed—of a Saudi royal son who discovers he is gay and has a passionate affair with his cousin before joining the jihad.

  • Canadian journalist Eric Walberg has produced two very impressive works that between them cover most of what is politically relevant today: Post-Modern Imperialism: Geopolitics and The Great Games, the games being those played on the world political chessboard, and From Post-Modernism to Post-Secularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization, both from Clarity Press.

    Walberg admits that the internet made his task easier, but without a very thorough grounding in political theory and history, they could not have been written. Walberg who has a degree in economic from Cambridge and has lived in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia, specializes in the Middle East. His Great Games are labelled GGI (pre-Russian revolution), GGII (the Cold War era) and today's on-going GG III, which he sees as a US-British-Israeli campaign for world dominance. Walberg shows globalization's brutality, and with theory to back him up, lays it squarely at imperialism's door.

    The scope of this work is vast, but I have chosen one quote that is particularly relevant to current events. Since 2008, the European Union, built up painstakingly after two world wars devastated the continent, has been teetering on collapse, and I have often affirmed that it is a deliberate American policy to destroy that elaborate welfare state. Walberg's confirmation is stunning:

  • Review of Morten Storm with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.
    ISBN 978-0-8021-2314-5

    Summary: As IS continues to confound the West with its consolidation of a Salafist-inspired resurrection of a ‘caliphate’, the Danish mole responsible for leading the CIA to Anwar Awlaki has caused a scandal by publishing his memoirs of life “inside al Qaeda and the CIA”.

    Recruiting Muslims has not been easy for western ‘intelligence’. The New York Police Department has tried for decades to recruit Muslim immigrants, and was finally embarrassed by a 2013 ACLU lawsuit to disband its most public recruiting unit, which essentially blackmailed anyone with a Muslim name arrested on any pretext, including parking tickets.

    The most successful double agent prior to Morten Storm was Omar Nasiri (b. 1960s), the pseudonym of a Moroccan spy who infiltrated al-Qaeda, attending training camps in Afghanistan and passing information to the UK and French intelligence services. He revealed all in his fascinating memoirs Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda A Spy’s Story in 2006.

  • Thoughts on From Postmodernism to Postsecularism

    Chandra Muzaffar in dialogue with Eric Walberg

    Muzaffar: Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergII.html is a stimulating and informative survey of both Islamic history and reformist thought, culminating in an analysis of the ongoing upheavals in WANA.

    The book is an extensive exposition on Islamic Civilization itself. It covers the whole spectrum of dynasties, major episodes and personalities which is why the book should be an important reference for students of the civilization.

    You are right, Eric, in arguing that for Islam the goal has always been “to nurture a morally sound community based on the Quran…” (p28). There have been endeavours in that direction in the past—some successes, many failures. In this regard, I am wondering why you did not mention specifically the moral indictment of Muawiyyah by Abu-Dharr Al-Giffari who some would view as the first major critic of the creeping injustices in early Muslim leadership?

  • In his introduction, Eric Walberg states, “The main purpose of this book is to help the reader to understand the alternative map which Islam offers.” This is both a literal and figural map, an alternative to the imperial and neocolonial boundaries that divide the Islamic world, and an alternative viewpoint to that of the imperial driver of capitalism. This offer includes “realigning ourselves with Nature, and rediscovering humanities’ spiritual evolutionary path…without abandoning the vital role of reason.”

    This path along this alternate view is created strongly, with an obvious sympathy for the parts of Islam that are little known to the capitalist imperial view. It is a fully comprehensive path, leading the reader through time and through not just the Middle East, but on into Northern Africa, the Sahel, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

    The path always interacts with the imperial capitalist landscape ranging from the original European nationalist empires of France, Britain, Spain, and Holland on through to the hegemonic empire of the United States that has subordinated the previous empires into its fold. This has been done through military backing of corporate enterprises and many financial maneuverings that have – up until now – managed to stretch this empire into a full global span.

    The first chapter, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, explains the nature of the Koran without the political prejudice brought on by imperial reaction (blowback) to occupation and creation of the ‘evil’ other. Following that, it presents a broad history of Islam up until the era of the First World War. While the interactions with Christianity were often violent, Islamic expansion eastward generally tended to be accomplished more peacefully through trade and missionaries – the latter of course being against the military corporate interests of the west.

  • Forging a Socialist-Islamist Alliance
    Review of Eric Walberg's From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization, Clarity Press, 2013

    By William T. Hathaway

    Most western Middle East experts see Islam as a problem for the West -- a source of terrorism, religious fanaticism, unwanted immigrants -- and they see their job as helping to change the Middle East so it's no longer a problem for us. Eric Walberg, however, recognizes that this is another instance of the Big Lie.

    The actual problem is the multifaceted aggression the West has been inflicting on the Middle East for decades and is determined to continue, no matter what the cost to them and us will be. His books and articles present the empirical evidence for this with scholarly precision and compassionate concern for the human damage done by our imperialism.

  • Brain research and social psychology have made astounding advances in understanding the mind. These two books will blow yours. The implications for western 'civilization' are profound. Here are some notes.

    Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Doubleday, 2011.
    -heuristic (system 1 rule of thumb) biases -overconfident (first impression), resemblance, ease of memory search, emotion (sympathy for psychopathic charm), halo effect (exaggerate emotional reaction), WYSIATI (what you see is all there is), treating problems in isolation (not integrate variables), framing effects (context, importance of first impression, including page layout etc), priming (thinking about x -> x), endowment effect (owning x appears to increase its value)
    -fallacies re human nature -rational, emotions such as fear, affection and hatred explain departures from rationality
    -rather systmatic errors in thinking due to design of machinery of cognition rather than the corruption of thought by emotion. luck plays large role in success. accurate intuitions of experts better explained by skill and practice incorporated into heuristics. (variant of reason/ faith dialectic)
    -system 1 (fast thinking) -automatic operations (associative memory, automatic mental activities (perception and memory), unconscious/ conscious skills incorporated from system 2 as automatic, -> heuristic
    -system 2 -controlled operations -both self-contol and cognitive effort (allocates attention to effortful mental activities when demanded requiring choice and concentration, can reprogram normally automatic funs of attention and memory)
    -also experiencing vs remembering self (a construct of system 2 but incorporating (fast) associative memories of system 1) -what makes experiencing self happy not same as what satisfies remembering self -need to balance using system 2 slow thinking. -memory both system 1&2 and system 2 can adjust system 1 experiencing/ associative memories (ie, counterintuitive steering out of icy skid)

  • Lawrence Wright, Twins: and What They Tell Us About Who We Are, John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

    These notes summarize the main findings of twinning studies during the past century which lead to some startling conclusions.

    -behaviorism (BFSkinner) argued all behavior genetically based (we are the product of natural selection) but can be programmed in the individual. he denied special genes for altruism/ criminality/ other character trait -what our genes give us is the capacity to adapt to our environment. we are not innately good/ bad, rather determined by our environment. there is no individual responsibility. to change behavior we must design a different environment.
    -but twin studies suggests genetic basis to behavior (approximately 50%, ie, 1/2 determined, 1/2 'free will' which we develop by creating our own environment as we mature and become more self-aware)

  • In August 2013, Marxism Leninism Today editor Zoltan Zigedy reviewed Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization

    Zoltan Zigedy summarized Walberg’s writing in the following terms

    1. The last great secular social justice project — socialism — has failed with the demise of the Soviet Union.
    2. Islam and its attendant political-social-economic doctrines are viable alternative routes to social justice.
    3. Islam is the only alternative that can deliver social justice. Therefore, Islam is the universal way to social justice.

    My -comments to Zoltan's >points:

    >the rise of Islamic civilization that Walberg foresaw was dashed on the rocks of divisiveness and foreign intervention

    -I see this 'Islamic awakening' as coming in waves. the 2013 coup in Egypt is a trough, but the process of evolution/ revolution continues. the openness and experience of the Islamists cannot be put back in the djin's bottle.
    I recall young Egyptian friends who were 'politicized' after the 2011 uprising. they didn't join secular groups, but the Muslim Brotherhood -- a huge move by millions of Egyptian youth. this has never been mentioned anywhere in the press. the ongoing demonstrations are courageous and principled, and deserve our respect and support.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.it/daniele-scalea/islam-vs-capitalismo_b_4095817.html

    summary: Islam has a complete social doctrine which opposes the exploitation of man by man and lending at interest. For this reason, Islam is, in the contemporary world after the end of communism, the great alternative to capitalism. Massimo Campanini, one of the leading Italian scholars of the field, in his History of the Middle East, confirms that Islam stands as challenge to the idea of "end of history". But this challenge is not extremist Islam and terrorism, which in his opinion is already defeated, but two other "Islamists".

  • Resisting The Modernist Nightmare: Islam As Road To Peace?  by Richard Wilcox

    Following the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, there was supposed to have been a “peace dividend” which would have allowed the world to stop wasting money on arms manufacturing and explore roads toward peace and commerce. However, the Cold War itself may have been a ruse to some extent in order to justify the growth of global totalitarian government and corporate power in both the West and East, and as a result a peaceful world was never achieved.

    Even the most naïve observer could see that something was very odd, given that at the same moment that the Russian enemy was tamed and the Berlin Wall had fallen, a new, even more nefarious enemy was born: the Muslim Terrorist. This seamless transition that benefited the military industrial complex and zionist warmongers was practically lifted out of a Hollywood script. In fact, Hollywood played an important role in creating the caricature and stereotype of the “evil Muslim” through innumerable anti-Muslim Hollywood propaganda films.

  • This book is a continuation of my earlier work, Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games (2011), though it stands on its own. My purpose in Postmodern Imperialism was to give a picture of the world from the viewpoint of those on the receiving end of imperialism. It traces the manipulation of Islamists by imperialism, and poses the question: What are the implications of the revival of Islamic thought and activism for the western imperial project?

    The subject of this work is the expansion of Islam since the seventh century, when revelations delivered to the Prophet Muhammad led to its consolidation as the renewal and culmination of Abrahamic monotheism. It looks at the parallels between the Muslim world today and past crises in Islamic civilization, which gave impetus to reforms and renewal from within, relying on the Quran and hadiths,1 and attempts to interpret recent history from the viewpoint of the Muslim world—how it sees the imposition on it of western systems and beliefs, and how it is dealing with this.

    The period up to and including the occupation of the Muslim world by the western imperialists corresponds to Postmodern Imperialism’s Great Game I (GGI). For Asians, the most important event heralding the possibility of a new post-GGI ‘game’ was the Japanese victory in 1905 over Russia. Japan had successfully reformed via the Meiji Restoration in 1868, inspiring all Asia, including China and the Muslim world, which saw Japan’s determination to develop independently of the imperial powers as a way out of the colonial trap that they were rapidly falling into.

  • European Journal of American Studies review of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

    (March 2012)

    Recent history for even the casual observer of international affairs has been plagued by wars and conflicts in specific regions of the world.  The wars in Central Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, seem to indicate the latest machinations in the imperial designs of the USA.  For many, using the term imperialism and connecting it to the USA is at best inappropriate.  For others, American interventions in particular countries or specific regions of the world represent the practices of a hegemonic power and the expansion of an American empire.  Some even argue that the nature of American imperialism is utterly novel, and deserving of a new label:  ‘postmodern imperialism.’  As the title of Eric Walberg’s book, his examination of the trajectories of contemporary imperialism includes scrutiny of the geopolitical interests of the USA and its “new developments in financial and military-political strategies to ensure control over the world’s resources” (27-28).  While Postmodern Imperialism primarily focuses on key aspects of imperialism, geopolitical analysis and commentary forms the foundation of Walberg’s narrative.

  • Robert Wright, Nonzero: the logic of human destiny (2000)

    -organic evolution tends to create more complex forms of life, raising overall entropy but concentrating order locally
    -Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, the thinking envelope of the Earth
    -throughout nature, main trend is the increase in capacity for information processing, storage and analysis. DNA not just data, but data processor.
    -the function of the energy marshaled by an organism or society not just to sustain and protect structure, but to guide the marshaling.
    -secret of life not DNA but zero sum (zs)/ nonzero sum (nzs) games (to better pass on one’s DNA - the ‘meaning of life’).
    ‘laws of nature’:

  • Review of Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World,

    Sadakat Kadri

    New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012

    There are 50 Muslim-majority states in the world; 11 of them, including Egypt, have constitutions that acknowledge Islam as a source of national law. In Heaven on Earth, Sadakat Kadri, an English barrister and New York attorney, provides a much-needed and highly readable overview of Islamic legal history and an entertaining survey of the state of Islamic law today, full of fascinating anecdotes.

    For instance, have you heard the one about the eleventh-century Sufi mystic whose prayers were interrupted by a familiar voice: "Oh, Abu Al-Hasan!" it boomed. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your sins, so that they stone you to death?" "Oh, Lord," Al-Hasan whispered back. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your mercy, so that none will ever feel obliged to bow down to you again?" "Keep your secret," came God's conspiratorial reply. "And I will keep mine."

    Such risqué offerings aside, Kadri looks at the development of Islamic law from the time of the Prophet, focussing on attitudes to war, criminal justice, religious tolerance, and movements of reform through history. He provides valuable background for all those concerned and/or excited about today's resurgence of Islam. As the fastest growing religion, second only to Christianity in numbers (and surely first in terms of sincere practitioners), Islam is an increasingly powerful force not only in the world of religion, but in the realms of culture, politics and even economics.
  • Guided missives

    Ard ard (Surface-to-surface): The story of a graffiti revolution
    Sherif Abdel-Megid
    Egyptian Association for Books 2011
    ISBN 978-977-207-102-9

    Graffiti -- the art of the masses, by the masses, for the masses -- has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and arguably to Pharaonic Egypt. Sherif Abdel-Megid, a writer who works for Egyptian television, boasts that Egypt's revolution and the explosion of popular art that followed it finds its roots in the decay of the Sixth dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom, following the reign of Pepi II (2278-2184 BC), credited with having the longest reign of any monarch in history at 94 years (Mubarak, eat your heart out). His own decline paralleled the disintegration of the kingdom and it is thanks to Pharaonic graffiti that we know about it.

  • I confess that I cringe when I see the word “post-modern.” This word has obscured more discussions, confused more gullible readers, and conned more writers than any word since “existential” and its “-ism.” For the most part, it has served as a kind of fashionable linguistic operator that signals something radical and profound will follow. Almost always, what follows disappoints.

    Eric Walberg’s book, Postmodern Imperialism (Clarity Press, 2011), doesn’t change my general opinion of the word, though what follows the title certainly doesn’t disappoint.

    Walberg has offered a welcome taxonomy of imperialism from its nineteenth century genesis until today; he has given a plausible explanation of imperialism’s contours since the exit of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialism from the world stage; and he has convincingly described Israel’s unique role in the continuing reshaping of imperialism’s grasp for world domination.

  •  I. Let the Games Begin…Again…and Again

    The great disaffected masses tell us that history is on the march and, as usual, guns and butter are the simpler issues. In America, support dwindles for a war that has lasted a decade. Drone missiles, each costing $100,000, kill “terrorists” in gutturally named, chicken-scratch places bewilderingly far from America’s hometowns, whose simple citizens ask where their taxes go. Costs of the Afghanistan war this year are the highest ever, $119.4 billion and counting.[1] Polls show historically deep disaffection with The System. The mask of America-First patriotism is falling, revealing an intoxicated self-grandiosity and will to power by renascent Bush-era neocons and cynical manipulations by the CEO caste and other one-percenters for more and more wealth, and whose sense of entitlement the victims of class warfare, lumpen proles and petit bourgeoisie alike, seem unable to stomach any longer.[2] Approval of the Republican led-by-gridlock Congress hovers around fifteen percent.[3] Ever-larger protests in other cities in America and internationally have extended those on Wall Street – protests even a year ago one would never have predicted – and “class warfare – rich against poor” appears on the protestors’ signs.

    The disaffected might also ask why the US, as Eric Walberg notes in his extraordinary new book, has 730 American military bases in fifty countries around the globe, and why the US share of the world’s military expenditures is 42.8% while, by comparison, China’s is 7.3% and Russia’s 3.6%. The unavoidable irony is that the Pax Americana seems to be requiring endless war with no particular rationale behind it – and truly astonishing numbers of dollars are spent on behalf of war rather than at home. What may be fatally undermining credibility in America’s “transcendent values” has been the sense that as the facts filter down to the masses, the Empire’s new clothes appear to be the same as that of past empires. All empires have births and deaths – the US Empire will be no different. Internal contradictions of the US efforts to control the globe seem now to be sending things spiraling out of control.[4]

  • Eric Walberg’s acute insights into the contemporary global order raise many questions about the continued viability of the American and Israeli focus on wealth and power. Perhaps understandably, his interests and insights inspired by the Islamic world make him a penetrating commentator on peoples who are a product of Christian and Jewish tradition.

    Walberg is a Canadian authority on the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia who writes for Al Ahram, the best known English language newspaper in the Middle East.

  • Though the number of critical voices concerning Israel, Zionism and Jewish power is growing steadily, a clear distinction can be made on the one hand between contributors who operate within the discourse and are politically oriented, and others who transcend themselves above and beyond any given political paradigm.

    The former category refers to writers and scholars who operate 'within the box,' accepting the restrictive measures of a given political and intellectual discourse. A thinker who operates within such a framework would initially identify the boundaries of the discourse, and then shape his or her ideas to fit in accordingly. The latter category refers to a far more challenging intellectual attempt: it includes those very few who operate within a post-political realm, those who defy the dictatorship of 'political-correctness', or any given 'party-line'. It relates to those minds that think 'out of the box'. And it is actually those who, like artists, plant the seeds of a possible conceptual and consciousness shift.

  • The Wandering Who? A study of Jewish identity politics, gives a unique insider’s view of the Israeli mind. Its author explains to Eric Walberg that you can take the girl out of Jezebel, but you can’t take Jezebel out of the girl

    Gilad Atzmon is a world citizen who calls London his home. He was born a sabra, and served as a paramedic in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1982 Lebanon War, when he realised that “I was part of a colonial state, the result of plundering and ethnic cleansing.” He has wandered far since then, become a novelist, philosopher, one of the world’s best jazz saxophonists, and at the same time, one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinian cause, supporting their right of return and the one-state solution. He now defines himself as a “proud self-hating Jew” and “a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian”. In 2009 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quoted Atzmon during a debate with Israeli president Shimon Peres, telling him at the World Economic Forum that “Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty.”

  • Three books recently published by the American radical publisher Clarity Press reflect different aspects of racism in the US, which even under a black president is unfortunately alive and well, promoted in US policy at home and abroad -- if not officially:

    Devon Mihesua, American Indians: Stereotypes and Realities

    Stephen Sheehi, Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims

    Francis Boyle, The Palestinian Right of Return Under International Law

  • -secular thinkers imagine they have left religion behind, but have only exchanged religion for a humanist faith in progress

    -Joseph Roth worried about spread of ideas of national self-determination. Monarchy was more tolerant. A society can be civilized without recognizing rights, while one based on rights may be tainted with barbarism (Austria-Hungary abolished torture in 1776)

    -torture is Enlightenment tradition, 'progress' a legacy of Christianity (salvation in battle between good and evil Zoroastra). 'God defeats evil' translated into secular terms. also meliorism of liberal humanists. Enlightenment hostile to Christianity but used Christian framework.

  • -US enriched rather than impoverished by the two world wars and by their outcome, nothing in common with Britain -> still glorifies military, sentiment familiar in Europe before 1945.

    -in Europe, dominant sentiment relief at "final closing of a long, unhappy chapter" vs in US - story recorded in a triumphalist key. war works. thus remains the first option, vs last resort

    -20th c rise and fall of the state. welfare state a cross-party 20th c consensus implemented by liberals or conservatives not as first stage of 20th c socialism but culmination of late-19th c reformist liberalism, prerequisites of a stable civil order. p10

    -citizens lost gnawing sentiment of insecurity and fear that had dominated political life between 1914 and 1945. forgot this fear -> neoliberalism. now fear reemerging [-> neofascism], fear that not only we but those 'in authority' have lost control of forces beyond their reach [implicitly acknowledging the cabal of international bankers/ military industrial complex (mic) that conspire above governments, tho Judt would be the first to dismiss this p20]

  • Clarity Press June 2011

    advanced purchase http://www.claritypress.com/Walberg.html

    PREFACE

    To young people today, the world as a global village appears as a given, a ready-made order, as if human evolution all along was logically moving towards our high-tech, market-driven society, dominated by the wealthy United States. To bring the world to order, the US must bear the burden of oversize defense spending, capture terrorists, eliminate dictators, and warn ungrateful nations like China and Russia to adjust their policies so as not to hinder the US in its altruistic mission civilatrice.

    The reality is something else entirely, the only truth in the above characterization being the overwhelming military dominance of the US in the world today. The US itself is the source of much of the world’s terrorism, its 1.6 million troops in over a thousand bases around the world the most egregious terrorists, leaving the Osama bin Ladens in the shade, and other lesser critics of US policies worried about their job prospects.

    My own realization of the true nature of the world order began with my journey to England to study economics at Cambridge University in September 1973. I decided to take the luxury SS France ocean liner which offered a student rate of a few hundred dollars (and unlimited luggage), where I met American students on Marshall and Rhodes scholarships (I had the less prestigious Mackenzie King scholarship), and used my wiles to enjoy the perks of first class. The ship was a microcosm of society, a benign one. The world was my oyster and I wanted to share my joy with everyone.

    But I was in for a shock.

  • How green is your deen?

    Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, San Francisco CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2010

    Muslim Americans are slowly beginning to make their mark on their very conflicted society. There are more Muslims than Jews in the US now -- approximately 5 million. They are the most diverse of all American believers, 35 per cent born in the US (25 per cent Afro-American), the rest -- immigrants from southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Traditionally they have voted Republican, but have shifted to Democrat and Green parties in recent years.

  • Three new publications from the leading radical British press are the tip of a growing iceberg of passionate pleas for sanity in international affairs. Most of us prefer to stick our heads in the sand as the world goes to hell in a hand-basket, but there are works that can fascinate and uplift, perhaps even inspire us to do something before it is too late.

  • -the attempt to fuse the public and private lies behind Plato’s attempt to answer the q “Why is it in one’s interest to be just?” and Christianity’s claim that perfect self-realization can be attained through service to others. [capitalism proposes the invisible hand, soc – class consciousness and state-sanctioned ideology, Rorty’s vision – soc demo and  metaphors]

  • -ecology - 19th c term - investigation of interrelationships between animals, plants, and their inorganic environment - dynamic balance of nature, interdependence of living and nonliving things. vs environmentalism (natural engineering)

     -social ecology - dialectical unfolding of life-forms from simple to complex. (history of phenomenon is the phenomenon itself) human-made universe is 'second nature'. society = institutionalized communities. philosophy of evolution. must synthesize these 2 natures into a 3rd. process of achieving wholeness by means of unity thru diversity, complementarity (vs homogeneous monocultural oneness of cap).
  •  

    -x preferred schoolgirls because less complicated, less real than adult women, as dream less complicated than reality.

    paradox of sex - always seems to be offering more than it can deliver.
  • Time and its discontents

    -Latin words for culture = agriculture/ domestication AND translation from Greek terms for spatial image of time. We are 'time-binders', creating a symbolic class of life, an artificial world -> control over nature. Time becomes real because it has consequences. Flow of time 'the distinction between what one needs and what one has, the incipience of regret' (Guyau (1890) Carpe diem, but civ(ilization) forces us to mortgage the present to the future.

  • -worldatlarge dangerous and threatening. It didn't like the Jews (Js) because they were clever, quick-witted, successful, but also because they were noisy and push. It didn't like what we were doing here in the Land of Israel either, because it begrudged us even this meager strip of marshland, boulders, and desert. Out there in the world all the walls were covered with graffiti: yids, go back to Palestine, so we came back to Palestine and now the worldatlarge shouts at us: Yids, get out of Palestine.

  • 25/12/8 This latest collection of essays by the controversial Israeli writer will not disappoint both admirers and antagonists of this iconoclastic anti-Zionist, most definitely the greatest thorn in Israel's very own backyard. Shamir has known controversy most of his life, notably when he was forced to leave the Soviet Union for demonstrating defiantly against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. He came to Israel, served as a paratrooper in the Israeli army, before settling down to a career as journalist (Haaretz, BBC), translator (James Joyce, the Caballah), and increasingly a one-man Internet David to Israel's Goliath. He has never looked back, despite the difficulty of publishing his unapologetic critiques of not just Zionism and Israel, but of Judaism, Jews and Jewry.

  • [draft of upcoming book]
    One World: 20th century conspiracies
    Eric Walberg

    Introduction - From 9/11 1973 to 9/11 2001

        In Canada, dinner time chat – left or right – about world events generally follows the standard media script: the backward Muslims must be taught a lesson, that the events of 9/11/2001 and the tragedies unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan are at worst a cock-up on the part of the US government and friends. Something like the following is served up on both sides of the political spectrum: "They had to invade Afghanistan to stop the Taliban supporting Al-Qaeda. Invading Iraq was a mistake but what do you expect from a moron like Bush? If only he'd listened to his father and just kept chipping away at Saddam."
        In Egypt, the idea that the bombing of the twin towers on 9/11 was the work of a handful of Muslim fanatics directed by Osama bin Laden is dismissed by all but a few westernized folk. "Bush bombed them to launch his war against Islam and to steal Iraq's oil," is the usual response. Or, "9/11 was done by a group within the US government in league with Mossad, using Muslims (or at least their passports) as a front."
        Where is the truth? We all agree 9/11 was a conspiracy, but by whom? Is it possible that the official conspiracy theory is a hoax covering a much more frightening cabal?
  • Film script: The Silk Road and the unknown East -- 6 part documentary

    Eric Walberg

    Introduction and Part I

    We will take a journey along the most ancient and thrilling road in Man's history, through a mysterious and little known part of the world, but one which has experienced all there is - the great religions have all thrived here at one time or another - Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam; at certain periods great centres of learning and the arts sprang up and declined, as did great warrior-princes. It is a region of violent contrasts - desert, mountains, lush valleys and oases. It is a mix of many races. Until a century ago, it was all but lost to the march of civilisation. Until the fall of Communism, it maintained its shroud of secrecy. With modern means of communications, it is now as accessible as any other destination. I am speaking of course of where East truly meets West - Central Asia.

  • fashioning a sunhatWe left Saturday morning for a 4-day hike. Because of the growing problem of bandits in the mountains, Sasha decided to start from the mountains nearest to Tashkent which start from a Tajik village (all villages near or in the mountains are populated by either Tajik or Kazakh) called Nevichu, avoiding check points by taking back roads. Sasha’s wife, Oksana, (whom I met on the plane from New York to Tashkent when she conned me into taking one of her 50-lb. bags to avoid extra baggage charges) saw Sasha, their son, Dima, and myself off, agreeing to meet us 5 days later in Gazalkent.

  • A secondary city

    -sunrise, sunset - vacant metaphors, eroded figures of speech, ghosts in the attic? God embedded in the childhood of rational speech (Nietzsche)
    -speech communicating meaning and feeling => God's presence, esp. aesthetic meaning
    -when we encounter text/ art/ music (tam), i.e., the other in its condition of freedom, we find transcendence
    -enigma of creation is made sensible in text, art music (tam)
    -interpreter - decipherer and communicator of meanings, translator between languages/ cultures/ conventions, and executant, giving intelligible life to tam
    -private reader/ listener can become executant of felt meaning when learns by heart, affording the music indwelling clarity and life-force, ingests (not consumes)

  • Roots of one's pleasures and emotions:
    Chinese eye - sees nature as having its own life, untamed
    Persian heart - romantic love
    African ear - music
    Mongol nomadic sense of freedom
    -must search further than ancestors for roots of freedom and to understand emotions and ambitions

    Man is faced with basic loneliness
    -immunity from loneliness using loneliness as vaccine via:
    1/ hermit - professional alien to seek internal peace
    2/ turn inwards
    3/ awareness of the absurd - be an eccentric
    4/ sense that individual contains echoes of the incomprehensible coherence/ order of the world, has divine spark, recognise a link of generosity between themselves and others, rational and emotional connections which mean that they are part of a wider whole, which leads to altruism
    -diminish FEAR of being alone: only then can one relate to others on terms of mutual respect

  • -goodness of a natural trait is province of ethical reasoning
    -Darwin  1/ species related by sharing descent from common ancestors (unity of life), 2/ species change thru natural selection, 3/ male/female (m/f) obey universal templates -- males 'ardent' and f 'coy' (choose mate for superior genes, ie, best male vs best match).
    -social selection - animals exchange help in return for access to reproductive opportunity, mutual assistance with reproductive opportunity as currency. social-inclusionary traits among f, or among m and shown by secondary sex characteristics (evolutionary approach to social behaviour)
    -human development characterised by cooperation
  • The care of the self

    Artemidorus The interpretation of dreams
    -break down dream into constituent partts, decipher in context of the whole
    -virtuous vs. ordinary individual - gods speak to former
    -the more you understand dreams, the more complex they become (to hide behind images)
    -wasting sperm is bad (with prostitute, fellatio - signifying loss of money), being passive is bad for man (tho sex with slaves or passive with older man is ok, the latter a promise of gifts)
    -sex out of harmony with nature is bad - rift, enmity, death

  • -Jenifer Hart's pragmatic approach to Jacob's churchgoing is utilitarian - actions not intrinsically good or evil, but should be judge by their consequences. Right acts produce best results. 1960s loss of religious faith but while people were casting off the trammels of institutional Christianity, they were also turning to alternative forms of faith. 'Go with the flow' antithesis of ideals of convent but both seeking what gave life intrinsic value, rejecting money and worldly success. Transcendental meditation to change thought structures; spirituality and rituals bring measure of peace, help transform, release from bind of ego.
  • The 4 main ways that the mind works are sensation/thinking and feeling /intuition - the former more the realm of the conscious (c - rational), the latter of the unconscious (u - nonrational) 

    Thinking and feeling are categories of perception; intuition and sensation of apprehension

    c (shadow + anima) + c (ego) = Self.

    The unconscious (u) is compensatory/complementary to the conscious (c).

  • The general theme: respect your child’s feelings, let the child develop and mature to become independent, love unconditionally. Parents, especially mothers, unconsciously or otherwise, use the child to fulfill their needs, and use conditional love as their weapon (rationalized as ‘socialization’) A child who resists is rejected or withdrawn from and can’t help but re-enact the relationship. There is no clear separation of subject/object (child’s fear that rejection of object will destroy it).

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