Notes on "Ecology of Freedom" by Murray Bookchin (1982)
Thursday, 31 December 2009 06:51    PDF Print E-mail

-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).

libertarian municipalism - confederalist Commune (communes artistically tailored to their natural surroundings, l&r popular face-to-face control over material means of life -- land, factories, transport, participatory democracy, high measure of self-sufficiency (->self-empowerment). "The world's future has to be managed, but this management would not be just like a game of chess -- more like steering a boat." (analogue vs digital, Charles Elton, The Ecology of Invasions by Plants and Animals (NY John W Wiley, 1953, p101)). -must merge organic ecological process-oriented sensibility with our prevailing analytical one, transcending both sensibilities in new way of thinking and experiencing. goal of pre-Socratics to Hegel - ontology - description of reality not conceived of as mere matter, but as active, self-organizing substance with striving toward c. reality as process.

  

-nonhierarchical. everything has its place, mostly closed (except for infinite solar power) system, cyclical (tho changing over linear time (vs time as quality ie, don't age in thought at the same rate as in body, cyclical orgasm is transcendence of linear time)). ranking species in an ecosystem is anthropomorphism (using concept of hierarchy). our closest evolutionary cousins, great apes - gibbons have no apparent ranking system at all, chimps have fluid stratification, orangutans don't even have dominance and submission relations, mtn gorilla little stratification, bonabos... Northwest Indians not class societies but chain-like links between individuals. people, things, relations in terms of their uniqueness rather than superiority/ inferiority (h is insight - prelogical, nonlinear). preliterate lack an 'I' vs 'we'. our language permeated by historically charged euphemisms that acquire reified life of their own. Obedience vs allegiance, command vs coordination, power vs wisdom, acquisition vs giving,  commodity vs gift. stake out their claim to totality of social life. not 'have' but 'live with' or 'share'.

  -vs systems theory - quantitative reductionist theory of energetics vs recognition of qualitative descriptions of ecosystems. life-forms as mere consumers and producers of calories.

-legacy of freedom/ domination. double helix

  

-preliterate 'organic society' - animistic - principle of irreducible min, commitment to usufruct rather ownership of property, ethics of complementarity vs morality of command and obedience - must integrate with rationality, science, technics to promote humanity's integration with nonhuman world. not New Age romanticism, eco-animism, biocentrism vs anthropocentrism, unfeeling Malthusianism, ecofeminism, misanthropic anti-humanism, postmodernism (no need for coherent and rational body of ideas, introverted subjectivism => defeatism (vs Islam)

  

-capitalism now society, not just economy - grow-or-die mentality, chaos of mktplace, hierarchy, war -> family, personal sexual, religious and community relationships (egotism, consumerism, careerism, mutual suspicion, transitory human intercourse) -> fragmentation as ideology

-hierarchy (Greek - priestly forms of org) exclusively characteristic of second nature. (conspiracy embedded in hierarchy). 'dialectical unfolding of hierarchy involves domination via ethnic, gendered, age, vocational, urban-rural forms (molded into 20th c grand conspiracy) -Marxian engine of conspiracy - change of technology/ forces of production -> (surplus) ->change of relations of production culminating in cap/ class society. but hierarchy more subtle - bio + social/ national/ political (bureaucracy). proletariat not adequate/ only force of change

-mistake in Marx - defining nature as realm of necessity, nature as stingy - punishment for malfeasances of Adam&Eve. domination of nature -> domination of humans by humans. this 'realm of necessity/ freedom' is product of 2nd nature (conspiracy against nature). for Marx, 'good life' required domination of first nature via mobilization of labor (exploitation but hopefully minimized/ ended via rev)

-his language tainted by Promethean, often crassly bourgeois images ('liberate' use-values from 'earth-sleep' of nature. not William Petty's 'marriage' between nature and labor, but a coercive patriarchy, a license from Yahweh to place all of reality under iron will of male elders. still rooted in concept of property. (vs Romantic movt - production as symbiotic, not antagonistic process, labor as midwife and tools aids in delivering natures offspring: use-values)


-but nature not intractable, but fecund, marked by differentiation. regarded as 'realm of nec' in terms of senseless 'needs' it is expected to satisfy. but needs are highly conditioned by society (2nd nature). not stinginess of nature but stinginess of people (elites ruling thru social conventions)-not rescue 'savages' from nature/ ignorance (-> support imperial agenda of cultural and industrial iv)

-also incipient class/ hierarchical forms -> (surplus) -> change of prod forces (dom(ination) of humans -> dom of nature). ie, culture vs technics, hierarchies vs classes as motive force in dev(elopment) of capitalism. first domination was man by man rather than of nature

-Freud and Marx make self-reproduction and self-discipline the historic knout for achieving mastery over nature - dom indispensable phase in dialectic of civ(ilization). but reproduce opp(ression)/ exploitation - terms reproduce and discipline used by elites to condone exploitation - extension of class opp(ression) into self-opp(ression).  

-subjectivity turns organisms into active force in their own evolution, not merely passive objects of natural selection. but to use such ecumenical words as humanity implies social setting. proclaiming we are all 'equal' ignores the hierarchical relations embedded in society (embedded inequality of 'equals') vs the preliterate/ paleolithic/ organic/ nonhierarchical equality of unequals (where compensation for the stigma of natural 'privilege').

  

--separation and otherness human facts of life because of concsciousness (c) (recapped in Jewish experience). but otherness not mean enemy/ domination. differentiation, complementarity.

-animism a form of solicitation/ cooperation with nature rather than coercion (lure prey to accept hunters' spears). openness of American Indians to Europeans confirms this. our abstractions were substance to preliterate mind (soul is one's hand, heart, spirit one's breath). Greeks had animistic outlook and secular reason - world as alive/ organism/ animal, reason embedded in myth

  

-Hebrew transcendentalism distinguished 'eternality' of Nature' from 'mutability' of society, thereby opening society to possibility of radical rev change for first time in history (yes, Apocalyptic, linear history (Frye, Noble)) freeing human thought and practice from necessitarian world of Nature, its domain of eternal recurrence (but Bookchin says Nature has inherent the dialectic of increasing complexity -> c, implying that Nature is not just eternal recurrence, but has its own linear trajectory. [maybe he means Js first articulated the linear part of Nature's complex dialectic through their excessively alienated tribal social formation]. Frankfurt School 'high-culture nihilism' p62 vs Gaia hypothesis, which sees the planet as a single organism. dismisses all religions which have not 'created an ecologically humanistic society' p63 "Hebrew patriarchs required no heaven or immortal soul, for both of them existed in the physical reality of their sons." (p191)

  

-Odin god of wisdom, son Thor god of order (obedience to treaties) but discord, corruption -> Ragnarok - death of gods in great conflict before Valhalla. reflected real process - hierarchies erected by valor being eroded by systems of privilege based on wealth.

  

--Hegel's 'The True is the whole' and 'whole is the True' meaning the true lies in the self-consummation of a process thru its dev, the flowering of its latent particularities into their wholeness (tho a seed can easily lead to stunted growth or premature death). immanent dialectic within phenomena. Alexander to Lenin - where forced social changes not nourished by educated and informed popular c, they were eventually enforced by terror. tragic fate of modern socialism - language of freedom becomes interchangeable with that of domination.

  

-humans have potential of self-c - society unfulfilled in its dialectical dev until it realizes this thru overcoming hierarchy and domination, going beyond justice to freedom. we are the very 'knowingness' of nature, the embodiment of natures' evolution into intellect, mind and self-reflexivity. p104

 -degeneration of Greek democracy -> competing elites vying for support of public - the 'right' to participation choosing the tyrant who will rule them. seeming heterogeneity, displacement of public virtue by personal rights (identity politics, atomistic society -> 'there is no such thing as society')-shift to agr - shift of social imagery from m hunter to f food-gatherer, from predator to procreator, from camp fire to domestic hearth. 

-scarcity - biological impact, but socially induced scarcity embedded in culture -> fetishization of commodities AND fetishization of needs (in effect, becoming a force of production autonomous of human will - desires). needs should be formed by c and choice, not just environment (both physical and social). wealth defined as individual creativity, not things. not increase needs (cap) but choice (anarchism)

 

-early surplus - dispose sans transgressing community's norms of usufruct, complementarity and irreducible min - disaccumulation (potlatch), leveling mechanism to inhibit aggrandizement by ind or special groups preventing technical advance and class formation  (-> pyramids in class society). industrial wealth suspect (Faust) breaches blood ties/oath obligations. wealth must be used to reinforce or expand social relations, not weaken them. (Islam codifies this)

 

-origins of class in hierarchies (age, sex, religious, political). domestic economy/ family and m hunter/ guardian groups dev as social/political facts.

 

-patricentricity (m traits courage, strength, self-assertiveness, decisiveness, athleticism) and matricentricity (nuture and sustenance). patriarchy but no matriarchy (because domination didn't exist for preliterate). transform traits nurturing to renunciation, tenderness to obedience, courage to aggressiveness, self-assertion to egotism, decisiveness into repressive reason, athleticism to war and plunder. unity of human/human, human/nature broken and power/dom emerge -> yearning for freedom (return to lost unity thru wholeness permeated by reason)

 

-hierarchy - elites have varying degrees of control over subordinates sans necessarily exploiting them. both social condition and state of c. in organic societies 'unity of diversity' not hierarchies. not only discipline of work but of rule demands repression of internal nature today. can eliminate classes and exploitation but hierarchy and domination remain. exorcize spirit of gain from psyches but still burdened by gnawing guilt and belief in vices of sensuousness (organic soc(iety) - no guilt, crime not committed if not noticed, rather personal sense of shame, try to hide 'sin'=antisocial - h acts vs institutions).

 

-guilt and repentance replace shame and practical need to redress effects social transgression with emergence of morality - prophet/ priest and with the more rational/social ethics - philosopher and political thinker (egalitarian, unified system of behavior upholding harmony of group -> mystified/abstracted as good/bad, helping to obscure contradictions emerging in social realm).

-first hierarchy - age - grow old => acquire distinct interests not 'natural' but rather social. create institutional roles to ensure survival (child care, magic, medicine, rituals, religion, wisdom, tribal history) -> de-emphasis on eros/ body -> willful aggression and Thanatic death wish. m violence, f nuture, shaman fear (incipient State personified) heightening aggressive/ violent elements of patricentric community, feeding it with mystical sustenance and supernatural power.

  

-epistemologies (ways of understanding) rule - we are prisoners of our language in our understanding (guilt, renunciation, obedience, command, dom/power vs shame, nurturing, tenderness, coordination, courage/self-assertion etc). reason as tool to achieve ethical goals vs reason as inherent meaning of these ethical goals (consp(iracy) of means vs goal - with hierarchy, consp takes hold of the shaping of both means and ends. rationality subsumed/ perverted -> anti-rational reaction (romanticism-> NewAge), surrendering mind to intuition, rationality to mere impulse, coherence to eclecticism, wholeness to mystical 'oneness', actually reinforcing the legacy of dom because we reuse to dispel it with rational analyses). Greeks replace principle of epistemology based on faith in ruler with ethical principle based on reason (reason embedded in myth/animism) - nature tamed by man infused with reason; love of human body/ athleticism but denigrated trade and pursuit of gain (mktplace threatened to undermine Hellenic ideal of self-sufficiency, balance, and limit

 

 - kosmos undermined by chaos when vigilance of reason relaxed). Aristotle 1/ imbalance and dependence/ 2/ subversion of form without which identity dissolves (into quantity). need orderly arrangement of dualities nature/society, work/free time, sensuousness/intellect, industrial/community. already hierarchical epistemology with underlying slaves, foreigners, freedmen, women excluded. Plato argued differences in individuals stem from differences in souls (gold (phil-rulers), silver (warriors), bronze/iron (farmers, craftsmen, merchants - realm of necessity)

-blood ties replaced by civil ties.

 

-shaman tries to mediate with nature. his failure is technical -> replace. but later, institutionalized religion shifts the blame to more failure of community (a la today with banks vs indiv guilt for eco collapse) -urban life began with altar and mktplace. temples testimony to sacralization of accumulated wealth. clans power of blood oath, priest power of ideology, warrior power of coercion. beyond clan.

 

-woman, embodiment of fecundity has no symbolic place in stark universe of Bedouin except as vessel to produce sons, herdsmen, warriors. -> monotheism and harsh expression of m will (and cruel negation of nature?)


-by Jesus's time, Pharisees reworked Deuteronomic Code into most humane in ancient world. 'eye for eye' replaced by monetary compensation and corporal punishment restricted, debtors and slaves treated better (Essenes and James Jerusalem Church) Hyman Maccoby Revolution in Judea (NY Taplinger Pub, 1980)

  -lingering memory of egalitarian order where work pleasurable and playful (-> pleasure principle) and usufruct/ irreducible minimum still determines allocation of means of life (-> reality principle). separate these aspects of organic society, where they were once embedded for all. same with dom/freedom legacies. -> Hobbes's 'state of nature' as inversion of reality reflecting epistemology of rule as domination. 'brutish mob' is result of civ, not organic society. the elites save the 'pleasure' for themselves and the 'reality' for the rest, the elites' aggressiveness threatening to extinguish 'civ' through their bureaucratic institutions and ruling father figures.  

-rise of state (coercion+ distribution, leg/exec, governance/admin) -> accounting, efficiency as political morality replacing informal 'inefficient' forms of freedom (direct demo, consensus, self-administered 'justice', decentralized ad hoc admin and governance). Hegel State as realization of society’s ethical idea

  -direct action not just means but an end, empowering individual to take pol(itical) responsibility. need to make jump from inertia of legacy of dom (guilt, coercion as psych element of hierarchical order we live in). cap negates direct demo by giving eco and mkt (pure quantitative rights) total control of pol/soc life. but Aristotle called for containment of capital and market as dangerous. buyer-seller relationship becomes all-pervasive substitute for human relationships at even personal level. everyone rivals for other's 'goods'. extended family -> nuclear family -> singles dating clubs and testtube babies, with hollowing out of personality itself. turning back natural evolution towards simpler forms, including inorganic personality (we are our IDs) and totalitarian social forms. our complexity strictly technical, not cultural, individual is more neurotic and psychopathic, reason becomes 'efficiency of dom'/ rationalization.  

-lack of distinction between 'freedom' and 'domination' leaves organic society unguarded against hierarchy and class rule - innocence exposes the community to manipulation by elders, etc shifting in emphasis from particular to general, from specific animals to their spirits, from zoomorphic to anthropomorphic deities, from usufruct to communal property, from demonic treasure to kingly storehouses, from gifts to commodities, from barter to elaborate mktplaces. -expelled from Gdn of Eden is condition for return on a level that can resolve the paradoxes of paradise.

  

-loss of preliterate innocence -> 1/ vision of lost golden age, forward-looking utopianism, and between them, religious/ anarchist movts trying to balance sharing/ self-discipline, freedom/ coordination & responsibility 2/ justice (social and individual) as surrogate for lost freedom where freedom interpreted as happiness (Marx) and pleasure (Fourier) 3/ labor as  necessity (vs play) 4/ nature as separate from humans. must reassemble these aspects into meaningful ensemble sans hierarchy. -freedom from vs freedom for. freedom a voyage of discovery that begins with early practice and limits in organic society, its neg'n by hierarchical and class civ, and its partial realization in early notions of justice.

 

-dialectic of social justice - equality of unequals - sharing, gifts, plunder, exchange - -> individual justice and denial of society. automatons. equivalence fn usufruct and equality of unequals - spirit of calculation -> inequality of equals

  -preliterate - freedom from starvation, freedom for worship/play.-equality of unequals -> charity, freedom -> right.-to be called a merchant an insult to Odysseus, men of his class exchanged goods ceremoniously or took them by plunder-Freedom (equality of unequals) requires social Justice (fighting the inequality of 'equals') not just Justice (Janus, scales, formal equality)-Bentham's calculus of pain and pleasure ultimate reduction of social life to quantity - ethical atomism

-happiness - realized in contemplative mind and ethical mean that rises above excess (Aristotle) vs Bentham (tempered by law of dim marginal utility. ethics as practical utility, expediency, cost-benefit and risk calculation - justice's denouement

 
-dialectic of freedom - freedom first appears in Sumerian cuneiform 'amargi' (return to mother, ie, matricentric ambiance or nature as bountiful). in Christianity - humanity's future redemption via Augustine's linear evolution. history imparts to faith a logic and intelligibility that inspires hope, meaning and action (ie, not just passive acceptance). overcome the split between heaven and earth in secular justice and democracy (or Islam). -slave's dream of freedom to make master into slave. Christianity/ Islam use authority, laws to buttress fallen humanity individuality and universal humanity. consumerist vs productivist concepts of freedom (latter rational use of labor)-gnosis (knowledge), wisdom (sophia), reason (nous)

-gnosticism's commitment to 'goodness' and physical indulgence - ecstatic union of spirit with body - union of worshipper with deity. transfigure one's encounter with reality, create a transmundane reality of 'goodness' that is close to a communion with the true God (not demiurge of world - Yahweh). permanent state of desire rather than mere need, of passionate perception of the world rather than one deadened by custom, routine. but this presupposes humanity/ ind transformed from condition of sin to grace

  

-earliest expression of freedom within realm of unfreedom - popular attempts to restore irreducible min and circulation of wealth frozen in temples, manors of ruling elite. freeing surplus via

1/ plunder/ slave/peasant uprisings (black redistribution)  - consume but also demystify institutional fn of wealth as force for domination (ie, destroy it and records of contractual use of it)

2/ ascetic and hedonistic/ communistic/ libertarian movts in Christianity (deriving from Jamesian Church in Jerusalem vs Pauline Church in Rome). Roman church 'give to Caesar that which is Caesar's' and purges NT of radical ideas and millenarian fantasies which became allegories and for Augustine Second Coming essentially arrived with establishment of Church (vs Quran) and emphasized miracles (vs conflict with authority) and relegating paradise to heaven, suppressing heresies, accommodating feudalism and cap (Jesus trades in souls and markets gospel)

  

-anticlericalism of Voltaire a blow against repression and denial of individual competence to manage his spiritual affairs -> civil insurrections (vs Islam and stability of Islamic society) and symbolist/ surrealist/ counterculture movts (monism, unity of nature/ humanity/ God). Luther heavenly freedom in inner life, Calvin works -> bourgeois freedom

  

-asceticism 'poor man's pleasure' -> hallucinations (saints) vs rich man's pleasure principle (sinners) (60s drug culture was radical but from 70s+ drug culture a strategy for attuning individual to consumerism - cap perverts even counterculture drug use).

 
-Q: what is the historical subject that will create a free society? -for Marx, cap -> socially induced scarcity => working class since we are forced to define relationship of ethical life to material. via class concsciousness. but every appeal to c is an appeal to creativity of mind and an expression of belief in human virtue. Marx materialist, Hegel idealist, Kropotkin ecologist, Fourier utopian all embarked on same voyage of hope (he leaves out Mohammed prophet). all grounded in reason - shape material life that is ecological, rational, artistic, spiritual  

-technics - modern affluent vs classical balance/ limit -> approaches to technics (inorganic ensemble of room, tools vs organic inclusion of social/ ethical context (not only how a use-value produced by why (Aristotle) - master workers act with an insight and ethical responsibility that renders their craft rational). -organic society labor process not production but reproduction/ procreation - sexual activity between human workers and f earth (Eliade - or grows in belly of earth and humans as midwife, singing and praying as part of 'work'). worker more than midwife, tho, he is also one of natures productions, part of nature's fecundity. Eskimo ask tusk what image hides in it, listens to voice of substance, synchronicity of subject and object. organic logic - a 'Way' about ivory/ horses which they must understand and to whose claims they must respond with insight and awareness, an ensemble of qualitative features.

  

-vs modern science - assumes nature orderly but without meaning and can be understood by human reason alone. nature mute, unthinking, blind, sans subjectivity or rationality in human sense of self-expression. but subjectivity in sensitivity of all animate beings and in reactivity of inorganic world (Diderot). [also beehive c, electromagnetic wave linking of 'souls' across oceans and homeopathy, resonance of molecules - understand each other - other forms of 'thinking' besides centralized human brain]. define human subjectivity as very history of natural subjectivity (including all earlier forms of subjectivity). 'wisdom of body' 'revenge of nature' more than mere metaphors.

  

-from order to reason to meaning, from mythic Way to knowledgeable Way (Tao). Hegel's reason (inductive-deductive reasoning, empirical verification and proof) vs understanding (speculative thought - imagination, art, intuition)

  

-mkt vocab penetrates our deepest interrelationships (input, output, feedback). how to contain technics in emancipatory society? Eskimos crafted carvings so carefully because they have a high sense of care for each other - libertarian community

  

-political structure part of technics administering/ mobilizing/ supervising labor/ material surpluses -> factory and corp (just as labor is part of nature, one of its gifts, not just a force opposed to it). liberatory technology presupposes liberatory institutions/ sensibility. BFuller's spaceship mentality and now-to-do-it catalogues exhibit unsavory readiness to make pragmatic compromises with hierarchical pol technologies without changing them (but could there be a critical mass -> process of change?)

  

-pre-industrial technics adaptive rather than innovative with rule that they must be integrated into existing social institutions. innovation in response to major climatic changes or violent invasions. 11th c+ innovation (greatest since neolithic 'rev'). Europe relatively decentralized (vs Islamic world and Asia). Christianity esp Calvin contributed (but even more Judaism which Bookchin ignores p338). "free-floating ego, divested of all community roots, became its ideal of individuality and personality." p341. divest technics of community matrix (-> innovation)

  

-freedom not affluence but personal autonomy, empowerment over life (vs empowerment over things), emotional security deriving from nourishing community life (vs material security), not res temporalis, a quantitative thing, but qualitative state of mind (all your time should be free), not freedom from labor but freedom for creative work, not tramp's aimless, spontaneous but unformed, easy-going but structureless, poetic but irresponsible alienated freedom. must recreate and foster daily the activity of being free within one's social matrix

  

-technics as ecosystem, not merely cost effective devices based on renewable resources. must use organic systems to replace machines (shade, recycling, fertilizer, filtering, heating) as part of sensitizing mind and spirit to nature's own powers of generation, to sense the subjectivity of 'natural resources'.

  

-must redeem the gain that inheres in every loss - the sociality latent in solidarity of kinship, the rationality in primal innocence, the ideals in social conflict, the willfulness in patriarchy, the personality in individualism, the sense of humanity in parochial tribal community, the ecological sensibility in nature idolatry, the technics in shamanistic manipulation. p357 need new kind of imagination, new sense of social fantasy to transmute the often oppressive archaic contexts into emancipatory ones.

  

-objective reason expresses the logos of the world (Horkheimer) vs human reason - final mentality guided by operational standards of logical consistency and pragmatic success, a mere technique for advancing personal opinions and interests, instrumental, not defining our interests in terms of ethics and social good Horkheimer's subjective reason). but H's subjective reason ignores the subjectivity inherent in nature, subjectivity not wrong (tho in cap context it is reduced to shallow mkt-driven materialism/ egotism). Ahab: All my means are sane; my motives and objects mad. -under cap, dom and freedom interchangeable terms in common project of subjugating nature and humanity - the driver become part of the machine. subjectivity is the history of reason - substance actively fns to maintain its id, equilibrium, fecundity and place in a given constellation of phenomena (cooperation, subjectivity even at molecular level)

  

-must elaborate ecological ties via an instrumental reason that remains in the service of objective reason (which has moral/ethical norms built in - recycle, symbiosis, mutuality, unity of diversity and spontaneity, evolution toward ever more complex forms, human activity as facilitator/ respector of this process, life/ nature as process vs things). law of thermodynamics 2b - in living ecology given external energy source, reversal of entropy law. Entropy only one feature in a larger cosmic metabolism with life  as its anabolic (synthesizing) dimension.

  

-nisus - self-organization/ self-creation - inherent in nonhuman phenomena which play an active role in their own evolutionary processes (from animism - spirit inherent in nature). eye evolution based on developmentally immanent traits. emergence of mind is part of larger landscape of subjectivity itself. our ethical claim to (higher) rationality derives from participation of human mind in larger subjectivity of nature, a fn of form, integration, complexity. not strive for domestication of nature (wolf/lamb). not Marcuse's nature that has not been "recreated by the power of Reason" (liberatory' mastery of nature - still nature as object). rather reintegration with nature, to some extent pacified/ shaped in light of human reason based on ethical rules determine in light of objective reason.

  

-science as instrumental system of control/dom vs means of knowing. Aristotle - emphasis on substance, form and development - qualitative - more organic vs quantitative matter and motion of modern science. for A natural causality not exhausted by mechanical motion. Causation  involves the very material, the potentiality of form, the formative agent, and the most adv form toward which a phenomenon could dev. a phenomenon was drawn to actualize its full potentiality for achieving the highest form specific to it, the formal self-realization of its potentialities. causation not billiard-ball mechanical but developmental, self-realizing. matter is latent with potentiality (a la Eskimo), its material cause. The form that is latent is the formal cause.

 

-The intrinsic and extrinsic forces that sculpt the dev (sculptor) are efficient case. The form that all these aspects of causality are meant to actualize is the final cause. to imply a sense of direction in causality (why) is redolent of theology. But science itself is now a theology, humanity and nature instrumentalized, threatening to divest both humanity and nature of their subjectivity. A's social ethics becomes Hobbes's social science. enchanted/ ethical/ passionate nature becomes dead objectified nature. only 'attraction' and 'repulsion' terms in electromagnetism remind us of nature's passion. -causation is creative, self-actualizing.

 -natural art - steer natural processes in favorable direction, utilize natural powers stronger than possessed by individual to remedy disasters afflicting agr/ health. must act at 'correct time' in synchrony with natural cycles. crafts less important than natural arts (hunting, agr). life a calling which rests on combination of craft and nature we call art. crafts intended to imitate nature (glass beads to imitate precious stones or imitation gold not fraudulent - they had use value as ornament vs some inherent 'value'). sparkle of gold/ glass suggests substance has 'vital spark', spirit. artificial crafts of artisan not much better than work of hired hand - both worked to satisfy needs of others, not their own, ie, not free. "Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people." (Jefferson "Notes on the State of Virginia" 1785). -autonomy of yeomanry basis of US republic, with autonomy of eco basis of US nation -> contradiction as US had to dev its own industrial base -> exploitation and dom. 

-towards new understanding of freedom. freedom based on interdependence within social network. 1/ the rationality of 'otherness' is symbiotic. libertarian rationality - observation located within ethical context that defines the 'good' and is structured around a self-detachment (Hegel) that leads toward wholeness, completeness and fullness with unity in diversity. unity is the form/ pattern that gives diversity intelligibility and meaning. overcome 'other' as antagonistic (J). rather 'other' is nonantagonistic relation. humans provide voice of nature's internal rationality.

 

2/ rediscover concrete/ qualitative uniqueness of ecosystems and reality, not just abstraction of matter/motion causality.

 

3/ reinfuse artificial crafts with natural arts by bringing natural processes back into techne, not just integrate agr/industry, but change concept of industry. our 'goods' are denatured. a car is a Datsun, not vehicle produced from ores etc. we must know how things are produced, produce to last and impinge min on nature and fulfill legit need. now we along with 'goods' are denatured, objectified. Techne as mystery returned not as mystically enchanted process/ interaction with nature, but as cold alienated object. Industrial society interposed itself between human rationality and nature's fecundity. Factory not to bring labor and machine together, but to rationalize/ objectify the labor process (cottage industry weavers could play and then work hard to meet a deadline), bringing proletariat to condition of powerlessness in face of capital. industrialization an insult to human physiological rhythms.

 

4/ question the very structure  of industry itself, question each substitute for the exquisite biotic machinery that we call food chains. bacterial/ algal purifying/ detoxifying water, convection of air by solar heat, solar greenhouses, small, variegated veg plots. by returning to biotic from mechanical, making ecologically/ philosophically meaningful statement. must arrest destruction of human spirit. resolve ambiguities of freedom existentially -- by social principles, institutions and an ethical commonality that renders freedom and harmony a reality. domestic solar energy system not a mere component of home but the entire house as organism interacting with nature. render nature more fecund, varied, whole and integrated - the hidden desiderata of natural evo. 'good' is diversity, wholeness, a nature rendered self-c; 'bad' is homogeneity, hierarchy, society whose sensibilities deadened.

  

-reenter natural evolution via human c(onsciousness) as part of nature's c, guiding evolution with man integrated in nature (good conspiracy). humanity is nature rendered self-c (Fichte) but this is only a possibility. make the implicit meanings in nature explicit, act upon nature to enhance its inner striving toward greater variety. dev conceived as wholeness involving society and nature conjointly (nonzero sum game). nature's law of return. human nature biologically rooted process where cooperation, mutual support and love are natural as well as cultural attributes, given prolonged process of physical maturation. now that social ties decayed, can see that individuality involves not (only) a struggle for separation but a struggle against it (in pursuit of richer and more universal consociation than primal kinship). move from blood oath, sexual division of labor and age hierarchy to free ecological society  (recaps transition from J to Christian/ Muslim spiritual path). hierarchy -> interdependence, freedom not in opposition to nature, individual to society, choice to necessity. its outer surface of 'inequality of equals' today reverts to 'equality of unequals' (still are societies where loyalties freely given without expectations of recompense, distribution sans rules of exchange). not wrestle with nature but coax it.

 

-Fourier - physical world not governed by Newton's law of universal gravitation by his 'law of passionate attraction'. cosmos vast organism suffused by life and growth. life offspring of progressive elaboration of the passions. societal adv not in terms of sublimation of eroticism but its release and full expression (Marcuse's 'from Marx to Fourier'). removal of rep in society concurrent with removal of rep in human psyche. stability thru variety, freedom to choose and to will. William Morris (News from Nowhere) libertarian but technically medieval evocation of crafts, small-scale agr and simple living. libertarian institutions are peopled institutions - face-to-face not representative, anonymous, mechanical relationships. direct action not mere tactic but sensibility, vision of citizenship and selfhood that assumes free individual has capacity to manage social affairs in direct, ethical, rational manner. active citizenship (tho can be degraded into aggressiveness, arrogance terrorism. but 'anarchist' terrorist such as Paul Brousse can flip into supporter of authority a la neocons.

  

-humanity has soared into radiant heights during great periods of social reconstruction, thought and art despite burdens of dom and egotism.-ecol ethics - distinguish which actions serve the thrust of natural evolution and which impeded it.

 

-ideas make us c of what we already know unconsciously (Marx); history can teach us forms, strategies, techniques and failures in trying to change world/ ourselves.

 

-Big Bang - cosmic breathing. parts of cell originally separate structures which dev in cooperation with others -> more complex organisms. mutualism, not predation, guiding principle for evolution of highly complex aerobic life forms.. fittest species the one that most helps another to survive. herbivores -> soil fertility, seed distribution, carnivores keep animal populations under control. aggressive not mean dom/ hierarchy. suffering and cruelty due to hierarchy (poverty is relative). not natural selection but natural interaction. Cartesian/ neo-Kantian dualism leaves nature mute and mind isolated from larger phenomenal world around it. 'civ' more blind than the elemental forces it professes to control. 

 

 

From Books

  • 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).

Eric Walberg


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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.