Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: The Flight of the Intellectuals

One of the most amazing transformations of our time is that a large block of important intellectuals, who still think of themselves as liberals, are supporting some monstrous reactionaries. This phenomenon was taken up by Jonah Goldberg in his Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Doubleday, 2007). He made a case for noting that whether they consider themselves leftist or rightist, these groups all descend from the same source: the French Revolution. They all believe in revolution, scapegoats to blame for everything, foot-soldiers ready to die for the cause, and ultimately an utopian philosophy that their particular revolution will provide a paradise on earth.

There has been little difference between Communist, Nazi, and Anarchist values--and today we are seeing this same revolutionary ideology in Militant Islam. Shouldn’t this be apparent to the western world’s intellectuals?

The problem seems to be that many of us still adhere to the notion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. In such a case, if the predominant liberal view is that the United States is a capitalist bully and so is Israel, then they would have to believe that the Palestinians and even some Arab “philosophers” should have their support. It does not seem to matter that these Palestinians and Militant Muslims detest everything that we value: democracy, equality of men and women, and tolerance of differences.

Paul Berman’s new book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, (Melville House, 2010) takes up this issue—but never really gets to it until the last chapter, where he states his case with passion (and unassailable logic). The rest of the book is about one person and the cult he represents—Professor Tariq Ramadan, who professes to be an Islamic moderate, but who is most certainly not, yet has been lionized by liberal academics who should know better.

Tariq Ramadan is a philosophy professor who has become an international spokesman for how Islam can and should be practiced in the West—in countries that are not Muslim-majority. He is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the fascist-influenced Muslim Brotherhood, the ancestor of today’s Hamas and Hezbollah—and Al Qaeda. Ramadan had the good fortune to be born and educated in Switzerland, but for him, family loyalty and passionate belief in this particularly modern form of Islam trumps everything else. This modern version of Islam is not western, but is ultimately totalitarian, a cult working toward having a global Muslim dictatorship. Its most modern element is the use of western means of propaganda and the technologies of violence and destruction.

Berman seems to be talking almost exclusively to European intellectuals in this book—which overwhelms the reader with detailed accounts of whom they are and how they differ over Tariq Ramadan. But after wading through this academic accounting, I could see a complete case on why Tariq Ramadan is not a “moderate” Muslim and how shameful it was that he was not only supported, whereas a real heroine, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is attacked by those who should be her supporters.

Intellectuals almost uniformly supported novelist Salman Rushdie when a price was put on his head by the Ayatollah Khomeini 25 years ago for writing a book that “insulted” Islam. Now they support the likes of Tariq Ramadan and attack Ayann Hirsi Ali. Where has their intellectual courage gone?

How do these two Muslim authors and public intellectuals, Ramadan and Hirsi Ali, differ? Ramadan, who sounds like such a reasonable liberal man, got caught when in a debate with then Foreign Minister Nocolas Sarkozy a few years ago, Sarkozy asked him how he thought modern Islam should deal with stoning women for adultery. Ramadan, although protesting his personal distaste for stoning, suggested only that Muslims put a “moratorium” on it. Can we conclude that he would like to halt it for now—but if the Muslims decide to reinstate it in the future, that would be up to them?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has experienced Islam as a Muslim woman and she reasonably decided to abandon it as hopeless. Those who think that in doing so, she has not only “insulted” Islam, but has lost any ability to influence it from “inside.” These critics obviously do not know how many young Muslim women are reading her books and who envy her for saying what they think. Nor do they consider that her foundation (AHA Foundation) is a primary actor in informing and protecting American and European Muslim women from the abuse that comes from their cultures.

Berman sums up in his final chapter the real flaw in today’s intellectual stream: believing that somehow people who are poor or ignorant are really “noble savages” deserving of their praise. This love of the underdog is strengthened by their guilt about and hatred for Europe’s imperialist past, so that indeed, the enemy of their enemy (militant Islam) turns out to be their friend.

Finally, what kind of world is it that those who are critical of Muslim culture (think of Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali), must live surrounded by body guards or be moved from one safe-house to another for years on end? This should evoke the ire of western liberals, not just western conservatives, but it does not. Too many intellectual liberals believe that their duty is to protect Muslims from intolerance and attack all critics as right-wing Islamophobes. It is indeed a flight of intellectuals to the dark side.

By Laina Farhat-Holzman

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Zen: Bridging Ordinary and Religious Life

The original ideas of Buddhism were presented in a book called the Dhammapada. An Indian sage, Bodhidharma, brought Buddhism from India to China in 527 AD. From the intermingling of Chinese Taoism and Indian Buddhism, Zen was born. During the 12th century A.D., it was introduced into Japan where it was incorporated into the Japanese culture and became a way of life. At present, it has developed into a prominent world-wide tradition.

The word “Zen” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Dhyana,” which means meditation. The Indian Buddhists brought this meditative art to China where it was called cha’ana. This magnificent Indian-Chinese meditative blend when reached Japan, it became Zen.

Zen is a unique spiritual tradition. It defies our usual definitions. It is not a philosophy because it does not seek to understand reality through the strict use of logic and reasoning. Rather, it is the most direct action that centers on experiencing reality here and now.

Moreover, Zen is not a religion because it does not believe in the concept of a god, Holy Scriptures, rituals and afterlife. Instead, it emphasizes the most immediate action to experience one’s spiritual self residing at the core of one’s being. Zen is a pure action that sees, hears, smells, touches, tastes and feels ordinary reality in an extraordinary way thus making the ordinary life as the spiritual life.

Zen is not the usual kind of meditation of deliberately concentrating the mind on an object. In contrast, Zen has no systematic orientation of the mind towards anything in particular. It uses no mantras, or chants or images of any kind. To get away from any intentional directedness of the mind, a Zen master might shock the student by a loud sound of clapping hands or hitting on the chest or responding with an irrelevant answer or a haiku or a puzzle (Koan).

Zen is unique because it makes no distinction between the ordinary and religious life. It tries to bridge the gap by living the ordinary life as meditation in action. The core of Zen is to live the ordinary moment with such intense attentiveness that it becomes an extraordinary moment.

For Zen, this intensity of living must permeate every day activities of cooking, cleaning, washing, eating, drinking, gardening, teaching, serving tea, watching the sunrise, or even indulging in sword fighting. When ordinary life becomes meditation in action, our spirituality is displayed in every action.

For Zen, through conditioning, our society habituates us to “pass the buck” of enlightenment from one’s own efforts to that of our parents, teachers, gurus or prophets. However, Zen is simple and direct in its insistence that “only you are capable of awakening because only you are capable of falling asleep.”

In Zen, there is nothing comparable to the Jewish idea of deliverance through the Messiah or the Christian redemption through Jesus or the Hindu salvation through Krishna’s Avatar. Like the founders of religions, who achieved enlightenment through their own efforts, Zen insists that one must embrace reality directly without the intervention of others even when they are the likes of the Buddha or Jesus. Enlightenment is possible only through one’s own labors. One must leave behind all teachings and teachers. Thus the metaphoric declaration: “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

Similar to the founders of religions, who saw, heard, smelled, tasted and touched the truth through their own unique existential beings, Zen asks students to discard the societal conditioning and be reborn. In the words of a Zen master, no “resurrection is possible without crucifixion.” In order to experience the rebirth of truth, one must be ready to crucify one’s societal self that keeps one tied to the teachings and teachers.

For Zen, our ordinary mind is the culprit that is stopping us from enlightenment. It is cluttered with cultural conditioning originating from our respective social, political, educational, economic and religious institutions. Since our minds are choked with the values of our culture, we are estranged from experiencing the original source of our being, which is “joy unalloyed.”

To break the mind’s prison and unleash this natural delight of being alive, we need to set ourselves free! To experience this sudden awakening (Satori), Zen masters shock the students by giving them an unsolvable puzzle (Koan). When an intellectual search to a clue to solving the puzzle seems futile, the intellect realizes its limitations. By exhausting the intellect, the Koan frees one from the prison of one’s mind thus making possible awakening. During the moment of illumination, the world is not changed but the way one sees it is altered. Awakening lies in “the ordinary self doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way.” Thus one’s spirit experiences delight in everything that one does because the gap between the ordinary and the religious life is abridged.

By Ashok Malhotra

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On the "Global Civil War"

Alternative terms: “world civil war” or “global insurgency”. One possible definition could be that the concept is used to describe simultaneous civil conflict happening at many locations with little regard for national boundaries. There is no comprehensive definition of a civil war. A simple definition is that it is a violent conflict in which organized groups within a country fight against each other for political control or to change government policy (The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World, 2008).

The best discussion on civil war is Professor Reinhhart Kosseleck's and others article "Revolution, Rebellion, Aufruhr, Buergerkrieg" in Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, Vol. 5 (1984).

Seemingly, global civil war is a contradiction in terms. A civil war must be within a society, because societies are associated with the nation. Thus a civil war should not be global. A global war is normally seen as international. But after 2001 things are different.

Oswald Spengler (1880 – 1936)
This German civilizationist and historian used the term world civil war to explain the fall of the Roman Empire, based on the role of Germanic tribes both within and outside Roman territory.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (1917 – 2007)
This American historian associated world civil war with the promotion of numerous Marxist and Marxist-Leninist anti-colonialist groups often supported by the Soviet Union, a phenomenon the United States and the rest of the West opposed.

Sharad Joshi (1935 - )
This Indian economist and politician after September 11 released an article, “Portends of a World Civil War”, in which he anticipated a possible world civil war different from the world-wide wars of the previous century. It could involve nations internally divided against each other:

It is difficult to say if the radical Seattle leaders contacted Osama Bin Laden or whether it was the other way round. It does not matter, in any case. They appear to work in tandem. The Third World War is unlikely to be a conflict between the US and Afghanistan on the issue of terrorism. It appears it will develop into a much larger conflagration involving most countries.

Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983)
This American futurologist discussed the concept of world civil war in Ideas & Integrities (1963).

Dr. Dmytro Dontsov (1883 – 1973)
This Ukrainian great political thinker and publicist-in-exile presented his view on the world civil war in an article published in 1973 (“The Era of Civil Wars and the West”).

Bertil Häggman (1940 - )
This Swedish jurist and author discussed the world civil war in an article in the Swedish publication Contra (in Swedish):

"A civil war between revolution and counter revolution has raged since 1789. The civil war celebrated its bicentennial in 1989 and is still continuing. Already the year after the start of the war in Paris the first resistance emerged in England. But the war goes on."

In a revised version in English Häggman has further presented his views on the global civil war:

"The world civil war started when the kingdom was abolished in France and the prison of the Bastille was stormed on July 14, 1789. After some years of revolutionary rule in France a republic was introduced. The revolutionary Jacobin terror started in 1793 and lasted until 1795 with thousands being executed. Queen Marie Antoinette was among the executed. Royalists and counterrevolutionaries in western France and in many other areas rose in insurgency. The terror regime was lead by the so called Welfare Executive, headed by Maxmilien Robespierre. There was bloody repression against the counterrevolutionary insurgents. A totalitarian regime in France continued with Napoleon’s empire and its policy of conquest in Europe."

Burke and Revolution
Edmund Burke’s book Reflections on the Revolution in France was published in 1790. Burke was a member of the British parliament and warned that the French revolution could have disastrous effects also in England. The talk of human rights and freedom in France was early unmasked in the book. Instead according to Burke the revolution would end in total oppression and terror, which also was the case in 1793.
Edmund Burke before his death in 1797 described the global threat of the Jacobins in a number of letters (one of them was not published until 1812, Letters on a Regicide Peace, 1797). The great Irishman and English philosopher and politician (who was active in Great Britain) before his passing in 1797 the global threat of Jacobinism in a number of letters (one of them was not published posthumously in 1812; Letters on a Regicide Peace, 1797). The quotes underneath are from the brilliant Burke biography by Russell Kirk, Edmund Burke – A Genius Reconsidered (1967).

It was the duty of England to save Europe from the Jacobin danger. A war had to be carried on until the Jacobin danger stopped and Napoleon was defeated. A war to end in military victory had to be conducted, a long war. It also continued until 1815, long after the death of Edmund Burke:

In international law war was justified…They may be wrong and violent: but also they may be ‘the sole means of justice among nations’…Britain should wage war unrelentingly upon the Jacobins…they were bent on ruining the Christian commonwealth of Europe…Jacobinism was a general evil, not merely a local one; so what was being fought was a civil war, not a foreign war…Britain must strike at the heart of Jacobin power, in France. Should Jacobinism be allowed to retain the core of the European commonwealth, in time Jacobinism would triumph everywhere…It did not rely on numbers, but upon tight organization and fanatic belief.

The late American Paleoconservative Professor Russell Kirk in his brilliant biography of Edmund Burke (Edmund Burke -A Genius Reconsidered, 1967) described not only French despotism. Long after the English genius had died Communism and Nazism threatened the European continent and the world. Over 200 years ago it was described by the Irishborn MP:

By propaganda and terror, the masters of such a total state [will conquer]…Only intervention by a free nation, employing all its resources and faith with a force and spirit equal to that of the radical oligarchy, can work emancipation…
The Jacobin state had to be destroyed wrote this one of Conservatism’s most important thinkers, otherwise it would destroy all of Europe. We can still hear the voice of Burke across the centuries against abstract ideologies: Socialism, Communism, Nazism, Maoism, Anarchism and and Islamism.

The French revolution initiated a long line of socialist theories, which reached their “height” with the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848 for the first communist party. The main goal was violent revolution and restructuring of society. The communists, they wrote, do not hide their views and intentions. They openly declare that their goal will be reached through violent revolution of all existing societies.

Marx described the Paris commune (the rising in France’s capital 1871) as the first socialist state, which had, he claimed, been initiated by himself. The commune lasted 72 days and cost more than 20,000 lives. The same year Marx published the book The Civil War in France and claimed that the commune was a true dictatorship of the proletariat. In reality it was never socialist. The role of the socialists in the leadership was very limited.

The Model of the French Terror Regime
The Russian revolutionaries had Robespierre and the Jacobins as their models. It was in connection with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia that the mass murder of the European civil war was initiated. This has been described in detail in The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (in English 1999; in the chapter A State Against Its People: Violence, Repression and Terror in the Soviet Union).
After the taking of power of the Bolsheviks the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) initiated class extermination. The bourgeois was to be exterminated and the European civil war cost more lives. Already in the summer of 1918 European newspapers reported of the terrible crushing of a social class and already in 1921 the losses on the European civil war’s Russian front was reported to be 1, 6 million. Alexander Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago, 1974) and Lev Kopelev (To Be Preserved Forever, 1977) have with great insight depicted mass slaughter in the Soviet Union until the death of Stalin in 1953. Karl Radek, who was the CPSU party representative in Germany, wrote in 1919 that the revolution does not debate with its enemies. It crushes them just like counterrevolution (The Development of Socialism from Science to Deed, in German).

German Nazism and Italian Fascism used bourgeois fear that class extermination in Russia would be the model for Germany and Italy if the communists took power. In Germany the Nazis copied the Russian communist technique for extermination of enemies, both political and so called “racial enemies” (Jews).

After a preparatory time in the 1930s a new phase of the European civil war started. Germany and Italy attacked in Europe. Gradually the so called Steel Pact was enlarged to the Anti-Comintern Pact including the Asian great power Japan. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the European civil war developed into a world civil war, which ended with allied victory over Germany, Japan and Italy in 1945.

The Cold War
After 1945 the “hot war” developed into a cold world civil war (Stefan T. Possony, A Century of Conflict – Communist Techniques of World Revolution 1848 – 1950, Chicago 1953). The Chinese communists took power on Mainland China in 1949 and a new era of class extermination was initiated. This phase of the world civil war is described in The Black Book of Communism (China A Long March into Darkness) and in Bertil Haggman’s book The Communist Holocaust (in Swedish 1982). The number of victims of Mao (exceeding those in the Soviet Union) have been estimated to be around 80 million in total.

The communist regime in Moscow collapsed in 1991 after the United States under President Ronald Reagan had changed American foreign policy from containment of the Soviet Union and communism to liberation of the peoples enslaved by Soviets in Eastern and Central Europe. A period of economic and political warfare was initiated in 1982-83 by the United States and led to freedom for a number of oppressed peoples.
The Cold War was a world-encompassing revolutionary attack on the West. The communists in Moscow and all over the world waged a total war to destroy the social structure of the enemy. The goal was to eliminate the leading classes in the West and distribute their property (especially to communists). There was no other goal in this phase of the world civil war named the Cold War. Subversion was the method. The use of military or non-military means was coincidental to circumstances and both legal and illegal methods were used to take power in the West.

The Continuing World Civil War
When France celebrated the 200th anniversary of the French revolution the French historian Francois Furet presented communism going back to the revolution in Paris (his book The Passing of an Illusion. The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century, in English 2000 and to be published in Swedish in 2010).

The author of this article is claiming that from 1789 to 1991 first a European civil war and then a world civil war has raged. It has continued after 1991 and especially from September 11, 2001 when radical Islam started war on the West in the spirit of the French revolution. A remaining threat is also the Chinese communist regime ruling over more than 1 billion people, and revolutionaries in West and East supporting continued struggle. This new phase of the world civil war is a great threat to the West. Radical Islam wants, in cooperation with evil and rogue states (like Iran and North Korea), to crush the West or at least weaken it. The risk now is that evil regimes cooperate with Muslim terrorists to transfer weapons of mass destruction (North Korea is believed to have 5,000 tons of biological and chemical weapons).

The terrorists are prepared to attack the United States (“the main enemy”) and other countries in the West to achieve a maximum number of victims. Since September 11, 2001, there is a new phase of the world civil war. The victims will in this century not be counted in the thousands, as during the French revolution. The new enemy of the West in the world civil war is planning millions of victims. The 21st century could become just as bloody as the 20th century, when Communists and Nazis made mass extermination the main element of the ongoing global civil war.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Interesting “Eternal Truth”

On Wednesday, October 6, 2010, the BBC’s Gavin Hewitt reported the following with regard to legal authority being given over by Parliament to the EU, and Parliament’s ability as a sovereign body to take it back:

Today the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, promised them that the sovereignty of the British Parliament would be placed on the statute book for the first time. He told the Conservative Party conference that the clause on EU Law would underline "this eternal truth: what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign parliament can also undo".

The German Constitutional Court has also reached essentially the same conclusion. Given the fact that our American legal system is based on and descended from English common law, Mr. Hague’s comments are particularly interesting and raise the question: “How do Mr. Hague’s comments relate to American constitutional law?”

Perhaps the best way to answer that question is with another one: “In 1861, would Mr. Hague have supported secession or not?” Well, an “eternal truth” would be just as true in 1861 as it is today. Furthermore, the various “sovereign” state legislatures ratified the U.S. Constitution, so under Mr. Hague’s analysis, those same states could also undo what they had done, and secede.

Obviously, Mr. Hague’s comments are not going to settle the debate among constitutional lawyers on the right to secede from the Union; that debate was settled rather effectively by what Southerners sometimes used to refer to as “The Late Unpleasantness.” As a legal point, however, it is telling that both the common law British and the civil law Germans have reached the conclusion that sovereignty requires—presumes--the power of the sovereign body to undo what the sovereign body has previously done.

Furthermore, from a civilizational perspective, Mr. Hague’s comments and the German Constitutional Court’s decision serve as reminders that the Western nation-state is not dead: not quite yet.

W. Reed Smith

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ISCSC Nominates Member for Nobel Peace Prize

Ashok Malhotra, longtime member of the Society, has been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, reports the Oneonta Daily Star. According to the paper,

"The International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilization and SUNY Oneonta have confirmed the nomination...According to SUNY Oneonta, he is best known for humanitarian work in establishing five Indo-International Schools in his native country, India. Much of the funding came from the Oneonta-based Ninash Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization he established in 1996 in honor of his late wife, Nina."

The winner of the Peace Prize will be announced on Friday October 8th at 11.00

Monday, September 20, 2010

Celebrate the 18th SUNY Oneonta Learn and Serve Program in India December 28, 2010---January 14, 2011

Study the old and new civilizations of India while helping the underprivileged children get education!

The ancient and modern civilization of India throbs with energy and life. Come and experience the ever changing and ever growing kaleidoscope that is India. Learn about the country first-hand through this eighteen-day SUNY Intersession Program directed by Dr. Ashok Malhotra, (SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor) and Ms. Linda Drake (Director, Center for Social Responsibility and Community.)

Participants will learn about the history and culture of India through lectures and excursions to places of historical, religious and artistic significance as well as visit the five Indo-International Schools in the villages of Dundlod, Mahapura and Kuran where they will volunteer their services.

Through Learn and Serve in India, you can continue the tradition of service established by the SUNY Oneonta Semester in India program, where in 1996, students and faculty established the first Indo-International School. Established in 1979, it is the longest running SUNY Study Abroad Program in India! Participants will celebrate its 31st year of continued existence during their 18 day sojourn in India.

Tentative Program to India: December 28, 2010: Leave Newark (USA) for Mumbai (India)--Continental or Air India Evening-- and return on January 14, 2011.
December 30, 2010 to January 5, 2011.

Learn and Serve at the Ninash Foundation’s five Indo-International Schools: Elementary and High Schools in Kuran (Gujarat); Elementary School in Mahapura (Rajasthan) and Elementary and High Schools in Dundlod (Rajasthan). The SUNY Oneonta group will join in celebrations of dance, music and dramatic performances by the children as well as will teach children, teachers and local community the use of computer, email and internet; teach English to teachers, children and local community; plant a tree and flowers in memory of Dr. Douglas Shrader (SUNY Oneonta Distinguished Teaching Professor); teach songs and learn songs; do art etc. and visit homes in the villages.

January 5-8, 2011:
Visit Indo-International Art and Culture Preservation School and learn about India through lectures and on-sight excursions:

Minibus from Dundlod to Jaipur:
Visit the Pink City of Jaipur which includes the City Palace, Amber Palace, Mirror Palace, Elephant Ride, Silver Bazaar and other artistic and historical monuments (Lectures on Mughal-Rajput--Indian history/art/culture)
January 9/10/11, 2011
Visit the City of Agra---Taj Mahal/Red Fort

Minibus from Jaipur to Agra:
Visit Fatehpur Sikri, the abandoned kingdom of King Akbar, see the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort created by King Shah Jahan and other Mughals—(Lectures on Mughal Indian history/art/culture)
January 11/12/13, 2011:
Visit New and Old Delhi

Minibus from Agra to Delhi:
Visit the seven cities of Delhi and its fabulous monuments with English speaking guides—(Lectures on Mughal Indian history/art/culture)
Approximate total cost: $4000.00 (Includes)
International Round Trip, Domestic Air Travel and Ground Transportation; Hotel Stays, Meals; English Speaking Guides, Lectures and Entrance Fees to Monuments/Special Events in India.

Seats are limited!
For further information, please contact Dr. Ashok Malhotra at 607-432-0496 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              607-432-0496      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or Ms. Linda Drake (Center for Social Responsibility), 607-436-2633.

By Ashok Malhotra

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bothersome Burqas

Well, those wacky French are at it again. You know, the French, those magnanimous Gallic people who are so completely convinced that their immigration program is correct that by government decree, everyone who lives in France is by definition French. The French are really serious about this; they think that the ideals of the Republic (“Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” and all that) require the policy. They are so gung ho that the government doesn’t keep any records regarding race; why would it, when everybody is simply French?

Unfortunately, the millions of Arabs--er, formerly Arab French—whom the French French have allowed to immigrate had the unmitigated gall (sorry) to expect to retain some of their traditional Muslim dress, particularly for their women. This utterly unpredictable stubbornness did not sit well with the French sense of fashion, so a year or two ago the French banned head scarves in schools. French French girls did not normally wear head scarves to school; the law was clearly aimed at formerly Arab French girls.

The head scarf ban apparently worked so well that the French have now decided to improve upon it in the obvious manner: by banning all burqa style facial veils worn in public (bashful Muslim women can still wear the veils in private, but on the street they have to let Francois, Pierre, et al gaze upon their faces). After all, if you’re going to ban covering one’s hair, why not go all the way and ban veils over faces as well? While some suspicious individuals might suspect that the French French may be trying to get rid of formerly Arab French by making life unacceptable to them, it seems obvious that the real purpose of the law is benign: to help the Muslim immigrants assimilate into French culture, particularly French high fashion.

Nevertheless, within minutes of the French Parliament’s passage of the law today, somebody made separate bomb threats against Parliament, Notre Dame, and the Eifel Tower. Rumor has it that NYC Mayor Bloomberg immediately opined that the culprits are probably disgruntled French French rightwingers. At any rate, immigrant Muslim French need to get used to this sort of law, because rumor also has it that the French Parliament is considering passing the following additional measures:

a) Mandatory attendance at topless and/or nude beaches (this is seen as the logical extension of the existing measures);
b) Mandatory consumption of at least five kilos of pate per annum;
c) Mandatory mime appreciation courses; and
d) Banning mosque attendance twice monthly, to be replaced by mandatory attendance at utterly depressing black and white films, preferably directed by pedophiles.

Regarding the last measure, one member of Parliament proposed on humanitarian grounds that the government forego the films and simply attempt to convert the Muslims to Catholicism. His proposal was immediately rejected as reactionary and inconsistent with secular French society, and he is apparently going to be prosecuted for hate speech.

My own position is that the ban on burqas for both women and men is far too broad and overreaching, particularly on those beaches.

W. Reed Smith

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

In Memoriam - Dr. Douglas W. Shrader

Dr. Douglas W. Shrader
May 22, 1953 to July 27, 2010

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Douglas W. Shrader, who led the department as Chair from 1986-2008, passed away on July 20, 2010. While one cannot but mourn the loss of a gifted teacher, fine scholar, devoted colleague, reliable friend, loving father and husband, reflection on the life of Dr. Douglas W. Shrader leads one to celebration as much as it does to sadness. It leads to celebration because, as much as is lost with the passing of Dr. Shrader, it is what we have gained from his life that causes us to mourn.

Douglas W. Shrader received his B.A. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1974, his M.A. (1975) and PhD (1979) in Philosophy from University of Illinois Chicago. Fresh from graduate school he was hired as an Assistant Professor at Oneonta in fall 1979. Six years later, he was elected chair of the Philosophy Department. He became a full Professor in 1992. He served as Dean of Arts and Humanities (1991-1993), was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in teaching (1991) and the Oneonta Alumni Commendation for Academic Excellence (1995). In 1999, Professor Shrader became one of the youngest faculty members to be awarded the SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professorship. Dr. Shrader’s remarkable success was a measure of his talent as a teacher, his extraordinary hard work, and his life long dedication to the principle that doing something meant doing it as well as it could be done. For someone with Dr. Shrader’s abilities that was typically very well done indeed.

Trained in Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics, Dr. Shrader expanded his horizons by pursuing an extensive program of post-doctoral study in Asian Philosophy. He worked with colleagues to expand the scope of the department to include Asian philosophy and created his signature course, Philosophy of Life and Death.

Believing that that the life of a professor should extend beyond the boundaries of the academy lead Dr. Shrader to work with his good friend and colleague, Dr. Ashok Malhotra, to establish the Yoga and Meditation Society for the Scientific Study of Spirituality. Along with Dr. Malhotra, Dr. Shrader interviewed more than 20 scholars for the Yoga Society whose videos are being shown on the Public Access Channel. He also collaborated with Dr. Malhotra in establishing and promoting the Ninash Foundation, which is building schools for impoverished children in rural villages in India. He was the voice over for the Ninash Foundation video tape that has been shown all over India, Europe and the USA.

Dr. Shrader was a dedicated author and scholar. With Dr. Malhotra, he created Pathways to Philosophy: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, published by Prentice-Hall, which, after 14 years, is still in print. As a scholar he had authored more than a dozen books and numerous other publications and given presentations at the various national and international conferences. No matter what the venue, he was thoughtful, poised, and extraordinarily articulate. His papers often become the topic of conversation in the hallways throughout the remainder of the conference.

Starting in 1996, Dr. Shrader integrated his passion for and commitment to teaching by building the Oneonta Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. This student funded and run conference grew to be recognized as one of the premier undergraduate philosophy conferences in the world. Dr. Shrader edited and published selected conference proceedings featuring the work of promising students alongside essays by established keynote speakers. Titles in this impressive series include Children of Athena, Philosophy and the Public Realm, and Thinking outside the Box.

Dr. Shrader lived his life with dignity, devotion to duty, passion and compassion. In spite of his numerous projects and commitments, he always had time for students, colleagues, friends, and, most importantly, his family. He loved his wife Barbara with a rare, deep, and life-long love. She was his heart’s companion in all he did. Their children, Callie and Sterling, and their grandchild, Alex, were his great joy.

Each Undergraduate Philosophy Conference hosted a final awards dinner. Dr. Shrader would acknowledge the vital support of Barbara Shrader and would celebrate the hard work of each student on the conference committee. He would delight everyone with illuminating vignettes from the previous few days and hand out the awards as if they were precious jewels. However, these awards were symbols of something far more precious than any jewel. They were signs of respect and esteem from colleagues and peers. They were also secret codes of commitment to the principles that thinking does not end in the classroom. That listening and learning are part of the whole of one’s life and that doing well always includes caring deeply about those whom one affects. Doug Shrader’s life epitomized all these principles. We can say farewell to him as he said farewell to the students at each year’s conference. Although he is not physically with us anymore, what was accomplished in his all too brief life is something that has and will continue to transform the lives of each of us for years to come.

Dr. Michael Koch (kochmp@oneonta.edu), (Chair of the Philosophy Dept., SUNY, Oneonta, NY) has set up a memorial page on the Philosophy Dept. website.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: "Empires of Food"

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
By Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas
Free Press, 302 pages, $35

Recently, a Briton armed with a metal detector uncovered a trove of more than 50,000 Roman coins, which archeologists believe was an ancient farming community's offering to the gods to ensure a bountiful harvest. Our own agricultural practices have moved past any pleas to the gods to incorporate instead an industrial-scale arsenal of petrochemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetic modification.

Yet, as Evan Fraser and Andrew Rimas persuasively argue in their highly entertaining and thought-provoking new book "Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations," the results will be the same: an inevitable collapse of the systems of food production and the society dependent upon them.

The literature re-evaluating our relationship with food has grown so substantial in recent years as to almost constitute its own sub-genre. Such authors as Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food), Karl Weber (Food Inc.), and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) have all added to a burgeoning collection of titles exploring not only our destructive farming and eating habits, but the newly rediscovered practices of urban agriculture.

That many urban dwellers are clamouring to raise their own chickens is just one indication of the reach this literature is having.

In fact, Empires is the authors' second foray into the field. Fraser, an academic geographer who divides his time between the Universities of Guelph and Leeds, previously collaborated with Boston-based journalist and editor Rimas on 2008's Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat and Muscle Shaped the World.

Like this previous book, Empires is an engagingly written history with an urgent message about the fragile unsustainability of our agriculture.

According to the authors, it is only through the massive use of artificial fertilizers, manufactured with finite supplies of natural gas, that we have managed to increase our numbers past six billion people.

Peaking fossil fuel supplies, combined with our abuse and destruction of topsoil, climate change and the depletion of aquifers mean that, sooner than we think, the global larder will be empty -- with all that implies for our ability to maintain current population levels.

Fortunately, this truly sobering message is presented with such clever writing, good humour and compelling storytelling that it prevents the book from descending into grim polemic.

The reader is taken on an informative journey through the systems of production, storage, trade and transportation -- those elements necessary for a food empire.

Each factor is given an historical treatment showing how agricultural innovations that may have at first brought bounty eventually delivered decreasing returns and unintended consequences.

The Mesopotamians of the Fertile Crescent constructed irrigation systems that ended up salting their soils; the Romans aggressively overworked their soils to feed a huge urban population and shore up their contracting military empire; and European kingdoms and monasteries deforested the countryside and depleted their soils before a changing climate, famine and the Black Death carried off almost 45 per cent of the population.

Fraser and Rimas demonstrate that any food empire is dependent on the combination of good soil, abundant water, a co-operative climate and a complex (and often inequitable) mesh of socio-political arrangements.

When such conditions exist, civilizations flourish, populations increase, and the associated complexity of that society also expands.

Yet the pendulum always swings back. The very complexity of food empires eventually heralds their collapse.

In the end, the ill-considered and abused interrelationships between nature and society swiftly unravel, as do the civilizations themselves.

The authors enliven this otherwise depressing argument with the recurring picaresque narrative of Francesco Carletti, a hapless 17th-century entrepreneur who set off on a 15-year global voyage to gather and market the foodstuffs of the Caribbean, South America and Asia.

Through Carletti's eyes, we are introduced to all the foods we now blithely take for granted, including chocolate, tea, potatoes and tomatoes. More significantly, the reader is shown how in subsequent centuries these and other comestibles were transformed into industrial commodities dependent upon ecologically devastating farming practices, genocide and exploitative labour conditions.

Between Carletti's tale and other key historical examples, Fraser and Rimas examine the globalized arrangements that fill our supermarkets with an affordable, appealing and seemingly endless supply of groceries and reveal them for what they are and always have been -- a destructive, cruel and doomed illusion.

The alternative, they propose, is a mix of diverse, small-scale farms serving local customers that are nested in a global trading system. Although the authors admit such things are much easier to suggest than realize, Empires of Food is a valuable contribution to a much-needed dialogue on working towards such a transformation.

By Michael Dudley
Institute of Urban Studies
University of Winnipeg

Friday, July 9, 2010

Campbell and Dune

This blog posting is a sort of sequel to my paper on Joseph Campbell which I presented at the Provo Conference. In the talk I discussed the influence of Spengler and Toynbee on Campbell. I cited the 1980’s PBS series with Campbell and Bill Moyers “Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth” several times during the talk.

During the conversations with Moyers, Campbell stated that he thought that his friend George Lucas did a very good job making mythological themes relevant today through his presentation of various archetypical mythological motifs in “Star Wars”. Moyers and Campbell then discussed the mythological motifs set out in “Star Wars”, which include: the mentor, atonement with the unknown father, the rogue hero (Han Solo), venturing into the unknown (the café scene), escaping from the water in the belly of the beast (the garbage dump scene which Campbell likened to Jonah in the whale).

Ever since I first saw the Moyers interviews, I have been bothered by Campbell’s praise for “Star Wars” because I think that “Star Wars” is basically a children’s tale. Even though the mythological themes obviously are there (obvious once Campbell pointed them out), to say that they are made relevant for today’s world through treatment in “Star Wars” seems to me to trivialize the entire subject of relating mythological motifs to society today. (I also know that Jesus said that one must be as the little children are in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but I am going to keep writing anyway).

I think that there is another popular science fiction work that treats mythological themes in a much more mature manner—Frank Herbert’s masterpiece novel, Dune. I looked at David Lynch’s 1984 movie Dune for the umpteenth time last night, and I was struck by the number of religious, psychological, and mythological themes that it contains. Among them are:

A) The one forbidden thing (Lady Jessica is forbidden to bear her paramour Duke Leto a son, but because of her love for him she does it anyway, which unleashes the entire story, like Eve in the Garden of Eden).

B) Being cast out into the desert (like Adam and Eve, the Israelites in Exodus, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph going to Egypt, etc.).

C) Prophecy of a Messiah.

D) Abnormal birth (Paul’s sister Alia has already been conceived when Jessica drinks the water of life, which causes her to be born with superhuman psychic powers).

E) Communion (the water of life).

F) Initiation (Paul must ride the giant sandworms in order to lead the Fremen).

G) The feminine side (In a certain sense made visually explicit at the end of the movie, Paul and his sister Alia complement each other as the two
sides of one personality. In fact, “Alia” literally means “other” in Latin.)

H) The male Mentats are pure intellect, “human computers”; on the other hand the Bene Gesserits, women, have developed their female senses of intuition and psychic abilities to a superhuman level.

I) Holy war/jihad (not a pleasant example of a religious theme).

The foregoing list is not exclusive; there are probably other examples as well. Herbert’s treatment of these themes is much more sophisticated than Lucas’s.

One final area of Dune is of particular interest to civilizationists. Shaddam IV, Padishah Emperor, 81st of the line of House Corrino, is leader of a very old, weakened empire with a top heavy bureaucracy, court intrigue, and much in-fighting. In short, the emperor, his court, and his troops are guilty of extreme hubris. He relies for his power on “legions” of Sardaukar warriors. However, he and his legions are defeated and overthrown by barbarians—the Fremen of Arrakis (read “free men”; the name recalls the original meaning of the name “Franks”, who did considerable overthrowing of their own). Paul-Muad’dib, the messianic leader of the Fremen, then becomes the real power in the empire when he forces the emperor into retirement and marries the emperor’s daughter, who rules as regent, all in an arrangement very reminiscent of the Germanic barbarian general-chiefs who actually held the power in Late Rome.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

W. Reed Smith on his election as Vice President for Development

I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the ISCSC for electing me Vice President for Development at our recent annual conference. I am honored to participate in the Society, much less to be entrusted with office.

Please know that I take the responsibility that you have bestowed upon me very seriously and that I will pursue my development and recruitment duties vigorously. Again, thank you very much.

W. Reed Smith

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Suggested Readings on Oil and Immigration

The following is a brief reply about some recent traffic about Civilitas and politics etc.

On the oil & general environmental issues:

I urge those interested in those topics to consult the following works:
Chew, Sing C. 2001. World Ecological Degradation: Accumulation, Urbanization, and Deforestation 3000 B.C. - A. D. 2000. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
Chew, Sing C. 2007. The Recurring Dark Ages: Ecological Stress, Climate Changes, and System Transformation. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

Chew, Sing. C. 2008. Ecological Futures: What History Can Teach Us. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

The trio of books is quite informative. The first reviews a great deal of history and shows, in my summary, that virtually all states/empires/civilizations have degraded their environments. And that quite often thinkers warned rulers of the impending danger. Typically thinkers were ignored, or heeded, too little too late. The second book makes his argument about dark ages – 600 year cycles – that while hard on states/empires/civilizations, especially elites, they do allow the environment to recover.

The third book tries to tie this all together for lessons for current times. While I am sure many will demur on some of his claims, the work is very germane to ISCSC issues.

Sing Chew also co-edits a journal Nature + Culture, which has some relevant articles, though most issues of the journal focus on more contemporary topics. [Disclaimer, I am on the editorial board of that journal].

The following two volumes are follow-on collections of a conference held in Lund, Sweden in 2003, with significantly revised papers. There are many articles germane to ISCSC issues, and as the titles suggest have much to say about environmental issues, broadly conceived.

Hornborg, Alf and Carole E. Crumley. 2007. The World System and the Earth System: Global Socioenvironmental Change and Sustainability Since the Neolithic. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Books.

Hornborg, Alf J. R. McNeill and Joan Martinez-Alier, eds. 2007. Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

On immigration issues:
McNeill, William H. 1986. Polyethnicity and National Unity in World History. Toronto: U. Toronto Press.

Is very useful as deep background. Key points: all states since Ur have been multi-ethnic, or in McNeill’s terms polyethnic. Most immigration has been by conquest, that is involuntary. The modern [last few centuries] concept of one nation [i.e., identity] should be one state and the reverse arose out of complex historical processes. That is the concept, ideal, and practice of the nation-state is new, NOT ancient. As always, McNeill is interesting reading. And as usual, McNeill’s argument is more nuanced and detailed that this simple summary.

I’ve thrown my own two cents in on this issue in two recent publications, one of which is available on line:
Kardulias, P. Nick and Thomas D. Hall. 2007. “A World-Systems View of Human Migration Past and Present: Providing a General Model for Understanding the Movement of People.” (Forum on Public Policy, on-line).

Hall, Thomas D. and P. Nick Kardulias. 2010. “Migration and Globalization: Long-term Processes in World-Systems.” Pp. 22-37 in Mass Migration in the World System: Past, Present and Future, Political Economy of the World-System Vol XXXII, edited by Eric Mielants and Terry-Ann Jones. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press.

Both of these try to put migration issues in a long-term perspective, and note that what is referred to as “migration” is really many different things, often specific to specific ages and conditions, and that modern concerns are, in fact, really quite new. [modern meaning last few centuries].

Finally the comments by Maria Cantwell I alluded to can be found here.

By Tom Hall

Monday, June 7, 2010

Some Bedfellows are Incomprehensible

There is an Arab adage: “The Enemy of my Enemy is My Friend.” Unfortunately, this is not always so. The enemy of your enemy may be your enemy too! It makes no sense to me that the University world has demonized Israel in favor of the most repressive of Islamic “friends.”

Since the 1970s, the most radical-left factions of activists in universities have been bedfellows of the most radical-right, socially benighted groups. I recently watched a German film: The Baader-Meinhof Faction (the Red Army Faction), in which restless college-educated youth were so unhappy with the bourgeois staidness of their parents’ generation that they decided that only violence could make the world more just. Their notion of justice was the same as that proclaimed—but not practiced--by Soviet Marxism: liquidate the rich and give everything to the poor, who will then live in perfect virtue in this brave new world.

This group found co-conspirators elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East: the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Basque revolutionaries in Spain, the Red Army Brigade in Rome (who kidnapped and murdered former Prime Minister Aldo Moro), the murderous Tupamoros in Uraguay, and the PLO. All of these groups carried out violence for each other that could not be traced back to them easily. (See Claire Sterling’s The Terror Net, which exposed this symbiotic arrangement).

Incomprehensible to me is the relationship with the PLO, an organization at war with Israel and the world (airline hijackings, murder of athletes at the 1976 Olympics, and violence against other Arab groups). Most European terror groups supported feminism, sexual freedom, economic justice, and opposed what they saw as a police state. Israel shares these modern social values, as does the United States, yet both have become the target of leftist academic hostility. It has become chic to play into Palestinian self-victimization.

In the Baader-Meinhof Faction, the young German radicals got weapons training by the PLO in Jordan. It didn’t go well. The Germans engaged in casual sexual promiscuity, nude sunbathing when they felt like it, and were extremely defiant to military discipline. The Arabs training them were scandalized and ultimately kicked them out.

The Soviet Union clandestinely supported all of these groups with money and weapons—but when they brought Palestinians and Egyptians to the USSR to train, even they had such problems with rape and insubordination that they expelled them.

Now most of these terror groups are gone, except the Islamists: Al Qaeda franchisees, Hamas, and Hezbollah, with new financial godfathers: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and the illicit drug industry. I find it difficult to understand how western university communities (faculty and students) can sympathize with such groups. The Muslim Student Association, front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, can, through intimidation and violent demonstrations, shut down free speech at any university. They bully and the university administrations back off.

In Uppsala University in Sweden, the cartoonist who drew the Mohammad cartoons, Lars Vilks, was physically attacked by violent demonstrators (Muslim students and their buddies), so that this invited speaker had to leave. The university says it will not invite him again, violating university freedom of speech. They are intimidated by threat of new violence.

University of California Irvine has had the same intimidations from the Muslim Student Association and their radical left. A group of 40 professors have now signed a petition that they are living in fear at the university. They claim that activities on campus foment hatred against Jews and Israelis go beyond first amendment protections into intimidation and tacit violence.

Why should leftists—presumably idealistic—become bedfellows of groups that disdain women, free speech, religious diversity, and all the other values we supposedly hold dear? And why should Israel permit an obviously provocative Turkish-supported flotilla try to run an Israeli blockade in support of Hamas and Gaza?” Would the US do anything different if such a flotilla tried to provide “humanitarian aid” to Guantanamo? Turkey, once Israel’s (and our own) secular bedfellow, is obviously Islamicizing and rejoining the Muslim world. It is time to rethink our bedfellows.

Laina Farhat-Holzman is a writer, lecturer, and historian. You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A View from the Big “Greasy”

I am no expert on oil exploration or the environment, and I have not followed every detail of the now catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. However, I am a lawyer and lifelong resident of New Orleans, formerly known as the “Big Easy” but now more accurately called the “Big Greasy”. Therefore, I am by definition sitting in the midst of the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history and on top of that, a massive SNAFU. The following are my thoughts:

I. The Katrina Parallel

President Obama is no more responsible for the BP oil leak than President Bush was responsible for the fact that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. However, the rather slow, lumbering response of the Bush administration was quick and effective compared to the Obama administration’s lack of any effective response at all. Both responses indicate that the federal government is an immobile, top-heavy bureaucracy that is incapable of dealing with emergencies in a fast, effective manner.

II. Obama’s Non-Response

Why do I say that Bush’s response was quick and effective compared to Obama’s?

President Bush had to deal principally with two incompetent Democrat politicians on the state and local levels. The first was Governor Kathleen “MeeMaw” Blanco, who dithered and hesitated for about a day and a half before she agreed to allow the National Guard to be nationalized (or some such bureaucratic nonsense) so that the Feds could take control of the situation in New Orleans. On the local level, Bush had to deal with New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, a blithering idiot who could have commandeered hundreds of school buses to use for evacuation but did not do so. Nagin also estimated the dead at 10,000 on television, when the actual number from the entire state of Louisiana was about 1,577, including those evacuees who died in the aftermath or evacuation and whose deaths were nonetheless attributed to the storm.

On the other hand, Obama now has to deal with two Republican politicians on the state and local level: Bobby Jindal, who almost always seems to be in control of any situation in which he finds himself; and Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, the most affected area so far, who has shown himself to be capable in the face of the spill and dealing with the Feds and who should be elected to statewide office. On approximately April 23 Jindal and Nungesser began asking—more accurately begging—the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to allow the dredging of sand berms along and between barrier islands in order to keep the oil out of the marshes. The federal government waited about 39 days and did not approve the dredging to begin until June 2, 2010. Actually, the Feds gave the go ahead for the berms last week but as of June 2 have only forced BP to pay for 45 miles of the requested 90 miles of berms. Thus, effectively the Feds have still approved only about half of the berms. In the meantime, the oil has intruded into about 3,000 acres of marsh; and of course, the berms are going to take time to dredge.

Most of southeast Louisiana is swamps and marshland. We call the soil in the marshes “coffee grinds” because it has the consistency of used coffee grinds. It is absolutely imperative to keep the oil out of the marsh because there is no question that the oil will destroy the marsh ecosystem for decades to come. In Alaska after the Exxon Valdez disaster, we all saw the pictures of workers pressure washing the beach rocks. We have also seen pictures of workers cleaning sand beaches in other oil spill disasters. In southeast Louisiana such remediation is impossible. What are we going to do, wipe off every blade of marsh grass? The incredibly fertile wetlands and their abundant fish and wildlife will be dead before 100 acres are cleaned.

In view of these facts, the federal government’s excuse for the delay in giving the go ahead for the sand berms is asinine: the Feds delayed the sand berms in order to review their environmental impact (I’m not kidding), even as the oil was hitting the coast and getting into the marsh.

Similarly, immediately after the spill the federal government had a protocol for dealing with a spill of this type: the oil could have been burned in the water. Such burning was pre-approved by the government; but after a token burn that was successful, no further burning has taken place, again because of environmental concerns, even as the oil is now about to hit the beaches of the Florida panhandle, which are among the most beautiful on the planet.

Keep in mind that Obama could have ordered the dredging and can order the burning any time he wants by executive order and/or under specific statutes such as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Also, he could commandeer barges and supertankers to suck the oil out of the Gulf of Mexico. Under this process, the oil is sucked up and separated from the water on the tankers, the water is pumped back into the Gulf, and the oil is then pumped into barges and taken to refineries. This technique has been used very successfully in the Middle East, but it is not being used in the Gulf. Why? For that matter, why doesn’t BP try it without being ordered to do so?

Obama made a mistake when he got on television last week during BP’s “top kill” operation and at least to some extent tried to say that he was in control of the efforts to stop the leak, in order, obviously, to take credit. Obama made his pitch before BP announced that the top kill was successful, and unfortunately, the top kill turned out to be a failure. Obama looked ridiculous.

To the dismay of those who voted for him, Obama is not the Messiah. BP and other oil companies have the expertise to deal with oil wells and blowouts, and the federal government does not. Obama’s latest solution is to hire James Cameron, the Hollywood movie director (I’m not kidding about this, either). Obama now looks more ridiculous.

III. The Drilling Moratorium and the Economic Impact

On Tuesday, June 1, 2010, Obama and the Department of the Interior instituted a six month moratorium on all wells drilling in more than 500 feet of water. No one that I know of in Louisiana thinks such moratorium is a good idea. Nevertheless, it makes Obama look like he is doing something instead of listening to Paul McCartney sing to his wife, playing golf, or honoring NCAA basketball champions (Obama was in Louisiana the other day for three hours; he spent more time than that last week at a fundraiser for Barbara Boxer).

The moratorium makes no sense. According to articles in New Orleans’ The Times-Picayune newspaper on June 2 and 3, 2010, about 33% of the United States’ domestically produced oil and 10% of the natural gas come from the Gulf of Mexico; and 80% of the oil and 45% of the natural gas produced in the Gulf come from wells in more than 500 feet of water.

Why are we drilling in such deep water, which is obviously more risky? Isn’t there any oil anywhere else? Yes, but since the Feds won’t allow drilling off Florida, the Eastern seaboard, California and the rest of the Pacific coast, or in ANWAR, the oil companies have to go deeper to get the oil that the whole country needs. The bottom line is that if Obama thinks it’s safe to drill in depths of 500 feet or less, then he should open up those areas for drilling. If not, then he should close all wells, not just the ones in depths greater than 500 feet.

The moratorium will close about 33 wells, which I understand is about 40% of the wells presently being drilled in the Gulf. The economic impact of the moratorium alone may begin to affect the whole country’s economy. Each rig directly employs 180 to 280 workers for a total of about 7,590 jobs that will be lost, meaning tens of millions of dollars in lost wages per month. Of course, that calculation doesn’t include all the indirect jobs that will be lost, such as caterers, cooks, support personnel, helicopter pilots and support personnel, the boat crews who service the rigs, etc., etc.

According to The Times Picayune, rigs rent for $250,000 to $500,000 per day, so if they sit idle for the whole six month moratorium, about $2.97 billion in lost rent and costs will be incurred by their owners. The owners, therefore, will move the rigs to foreign countries and keep them working. The Offshore Marine Service Association believes it might be two years before the rigs would return to the Gulf (if ever). Thus, there will be a long term if not permanent loss of drilling in the Gulf, but then again, Obama is no friend of the oil industry anyway. To paraphrase Rahm Emanuel, “We can’t let this crisis go to waste.”

The effect on fisheries and the culture of Louisiana, the “Sportsman’s Paradise”, will be worse yet. We are only now fully recovering from Katrina. If the oil spill continues and the oil comes into the marshes and estuaries, tens of thousands of people will be affected: fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers, processors, truckers, restaurant owners and workers, etc. In Grand Isle, which is directly on the Gulf, for example, some business owners are already saying that if they have to close again, this time they won’t re-open.

Ironically, the futility of Florida’s ban on drilling is about to become obvious. Yesterday the oil was four miles off the coast of the Florida panhandle, which is packed with hotels, condos, and rental houses and is a tourist economy from one end to the other, as are the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. People generally do not go to beaches covered with petroleum (other than my mother-in-law, who says she’s going to the beach this summer even if she has to sit in oil. I want to photograph that sight, so I may go also). Again, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of jobs will be affected, and mortgage payments on condos and rental properties will not be made.

IV. Conclusion

There are a couple bright spots. It really pains me, but I’ll give credit where credit is due: Democrat Sens. Schumer and Wyden have sponsored a bill to prohibit BP from paying any dividends until the spill is cleaned up and all damages are paid. BRAVO! BP seems to be doing a yeoman like job trying to stop the spill, but as I noted above, they seem totally deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to mitigating the damages by containing the oil. I would not be surprised to see BP seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In that vein, I have it on good authority that the well could be stopped by implosion, by shoving a (non-nuclear) charge deep into the pipe and blasting it closed. Why hasn’t BP done so? Probably because they still intend to make money off the well once they get it under control (and the moratorium ends).

Another bright spot: crawfish grow inland in fresh water ponds.

By W. Reed Smith

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Program for ISCSC 2010 Conference in Provo

ISCSC 2010 International Conference at Brigham Young University
June 15-17, 2010, Provo, Utah
General Information

Dear Participants in the 2010 conference of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations:

Thank you for participating in our conference at Brigham Young University in Provo Utah this June 14-17! Here is some practical information, to go with the preliminary program:

“Express Shuttle” from the airport can be called at 1-800-397-0773. It costs $29 per person to BYU from the airport.

Hotel information is at: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/iscsc/travel.cfm

The main registration homepage is: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/iscsc/

Our Publisher Stephen Blaha sends these formatting requirements for those who want papers in the Proceedings:

· A research paper – 12 pages, a position paper – 6 pages, an abstract of research in progress 1 page.
· Please put your papers in Times Roman in the format they want to see in the Proceedings. 1.5 inch Top, Bottom, Left, and Right margins would be appreciated for text and especially for Figures & Tables.
· A title, an author name and e-mail
· An abstract – a few sentences, squeezed
· A few key words in bold
· Your manuscript please send to Dr Thomas Rienzo for editing Thomas.rienzo@wmich.edu
· Due date for manuscript submission for the Proceedings—June 30, 2010, you will have time to update your manuscript after presenting it in Provo, UT.

Thanks again for your participation in our program! Have a safe journey long or short, and Best Wishes Always,

Michael Andregg
ISCSC International Conference Chair
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

651-962- 5907

Late Breaking News: This 40th Meeting of the ISCSC is dedicated to one of our founding members Matthew Melko, who has had a health emergency and cannot attend this year.

BYU International Conference, June 15-17, 2010, Provo Utah

Dedicated to founding member Matthew Melko who is sick, but whom we all hope to see next year at Tulane U, New Orleans

Monday, June 14:

7 – 9:00 pm, Reception at the BYU conference Center.

Tuesday, June 15:

8:30 – 8:50 am, Welcome to Provo, to BYU and to the ISCSC. Professor Sandra
Rogers, International Vice President, Brigham Young University.

9:00 – 10:30 am, S1, first Concurrent Paper Session (striving for two threads max)

A: Civilizations Under Stress

Chair: Andrew Targowski, Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo.

Rachel Lewis, Brigham Young University, “Autonomy in Action and Inaction: Reconfiguring
Autonomy in Gandhi’s Autobiography.”

Hisanori Kato, Osaka Ohtani University, “Is a Local Civilization an Alternative? Comparative
Analysis of Western, Islamic, and Javanese Civilizations.”

Marek Celinski, Toronto Canada, “Will People Ever Lose the Will to Survive?”

B: Clashes of Civilizations

Chair: Michael Andregg, University of Minnesota

Jaime Gonzalez-Ocana, Brunswick School, “Herodotus and Today’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’.”

Taylor Halverson, Brigham Young University, “Reading the Past for the Future: When Ideologies
Precipitate Crises They Were Intended to Avert.”

Michael Andregg, University of Minnesota, “The Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857:
A Civilizational Encounter with Lessons for us All.”

10:30 – 11 am, break #1

11:00 – 12:30 am, S2, first Book Review Session * (see note at end, 3 threads to these)

Book Reviews-A: Long-term Evolution

Chair: Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, Brooklyn University, NY

Leslie A. White, “The Evolution of Culture.”
Reviewer: Sisay Asefa, Western Michigan University

Sing C. Chew, “The Recurring Dark Ages.”
Reviewer: Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, Brooklyn University

Book Reviews-B: Ancient and Modern

Chair: Norman C. Rothman, University of Maryland

K. Anne Pyburn, ed. “Ungendering Civilization.”
Reviewer: Roman Zawadski, Warsaw University, Poland

Thomas Madden, “Empires of Trust: How Rome Built – and America is Building – a New World.”
Reviewer: Laina Farhat-Holzman, Aptos, CA

Laurie Maguire, “Helen of Troy.”
Reviewer: Norman C. Rothman, University of Maryland

Book Reviews-C: Roundtable on Corrine Gilb & Roger Wescott Comparing Civilizations

Chair: David Wilkinson, UCLA

Reviewers: Lee Stauffer, University of New Mexico Las Vegas (reviewing Wescott’s
“Comparing Civilizations”)

Matt Melko* Wright State University, Ohio, (reviewing both books). * see front

12:30 – 2 pm, lunch, at the cafeteria [A Board Meeting]

2:00 – 3:30 pm, S3, second Book Review Session

Book Reviews-4 Modernity

Chair: Midori Yamanouchi Rynn, Scranton University, Lake Ariel PA.

S.N. Eisenstadt, “Comparative Civilizations and Multiple Modernities.”
Reviewer: Norman C. Rothman, University of Maryland

Heinz Schilling, “Early Modern European Civilization.”
Reviewer: Norman C. Rothman, University of Maryland

Michael McCormick, “Origins of the European Economy.”
Reviewer: Midori Yamanouchi Rynn, Scranton University, Lake Ariel PA

Book Reviews-5 Islam and the West

Chair: Laina Farhat-Holzman, Aptos, CA

Norman C. Rothman, “Three Faces of Islam.”
Reviewer: Michael Andregg, University of Minnesota

Aaron Tyler, “Islam, the West, and Tolerance: Conceiving Coexistence”
Reviewer: Tseggai Issac, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Meir Litvak, ed., “Middle Eastern Societies and the West.”
Reviewer: Laina Farhat-Holzman, Aptos, CA

Gene W. Heck, “When Worlds Collide.”
Reviewer: Laina Farhat-Holzman, Aptos, CA

Book Reviews-6 Natural Law and Civilizations

Chair: Matt Melko*, Wright State University, Ohio

Brian Fagan, “The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations.”
Reviewer: George Von der Muhll, University of California, Santa Cruz

Nicholas Hagger, “The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: The Law of History.”
Reviewer: Reed Smith, New Orleans, LA

Francis Wood, “Silk Road.”
Reviewer: Vlad Alalykin-Izvekov, Washington D.C.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, “Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature.”
Reviewer: Matt Melko*, Wright State University, Ohio

3:30 – 4:00 pm, break #2

4:00 – 5:30 pm, S4, first Roundtable Session, on: Impact of War on Civilizations

Chair: Steven Blaha, The Civilizational Press of ISCSC, New Hampshire

Other Participants: Laina Farhat-Holzman, Aptos, CA, and

Michael Andregg, University of Minnesota

S4, second Concurrent Paper Session:

A: Civilizations as Evolving Projects

Chair: Vlad Alalykin-Izvekov, Washington, D.C.

Karol Edward Soltan, University of Maryland, “Universal Civilization as a Project.”

W. Reed Smith, New Orleans, LA, “The Influence of Spengler and Toynbee on Joseph Campbell
(and Vice Versa?).”

Vlad Alalykin-Izvekov, Washington, D.C., “Civilization Science: The Evolution of a New Field

B: Central Asia and Africa

Chair, Issac Tseggai, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Baktybek Abdrisaev and Rusty Butler, Utah Valley U, Orem Utah, “Sustainable Mountain Development as part of Globalization: Case Study of the cooperation
between Rocky Mountains and Central Asian Mountain Nations.”

Khash-Erdine Sambalkhundev, chair of the Mongolian Knowledge Society, “Contributions of
Mongolian Nomadic Empire to the World Civilization.”

Issac Tseggai, Missouri University of Science and Technology, “Clerical Courage, Crown, and
Citizenship in Medieval Ethiopia.”

5:30 – 7:00 pm, dinner, at the cafeteria

7:30 – 9:00 pm Plenary Session #1: Anthony Stevens-Arroyo with a discussant
Donald Q. Cannon, Professor Emeritus of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University.

Topic = “Civilization and Religion: The Dance of Shape Shifters”

Wednesday, June 16:

9:00 – 10:30 am, S5, third Concurrent Paper Session.

A: Values and Logical Systems

Chair: Lee Stauffer, University of New Mexico Las Vegas

Roman Zawadski, University of Warsaw, Poland, “Values as Determinants of National and Historical Identity in Individual and Community Life.”

Richard Zinser, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, “Education for a Global Civilization.”

Nadezhda V. Chekaleva, Omsk State Pedagogical University, Russia, “Anticipating Education in Civilizational Futures.”

Lee Stauffer, University of New Mexico, Las Vegas, “The Effect of Land Tenure Systems on the Development of Civilizations.”

B: Minorities and Unusual Religions

Chair: Laina Farhat-Holzman, Aptos California

Hattie Williams, Monmouth University, “The Future of Whiteness in American Civilization.”

Elina Karanastasi, Technical University of Crete, “A Proposal for Exploitation of Urban Voids as Intensively Productive Land and as a method of Urbanization of Minorities.”

Laina Farhat-Holzman, Aptos Calilfornia, “Piracy: The World’s Third Oldest Profession with a Strange Religious Component.”

10:30 – 11 am, break #1

11:00 – 12:30 am, S5, 2nd Roundtable Session, Altruism and Solving Global Problems

Chairs: Vlad Alalykin-Izvekov, Ashok Malhotra, Connie Lamb and Baktybek Abdrisayev.

Other Participants: Matthew Lee, University of Akron, Ohio, “The Possibilities and Limitations
of Religious-based Altruism for Solving Endemic Social Problems:
Findings From a Multi-year Research Project.

S6, fourth Concurrent Paper Session – Theory 1

Chair: Huei-Ying Kuo, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Moritaka Saigusa, Rikkyo Univ., Japan, “Civilizational Futures in Light of Toynebee’s Theory.’

Seth Abrutyn, University of California, Riverside, “Toward a Theory of the Axial Age:
Explaining the Emergence of Religious-Culteral Entrepreneurs.”

JaNae Haas, Utah Valley University, “The Athenian Democracy: An Analysis of Contemporary

12:30 – 2 pm, lunch, at the cafeteria [the board will meet here and then also]

2:00 – 3:30 pm, S7, third Roundtable Session: Altruism in Global Education

Chairs: Valentin Andreyev, Academician of the Russian Academy of Education, Kazan State
University, Russia, Lyubov Mikhaltsova, Kuzbass State Pedagogical Academy, Russia, and Vlad Alalykin-Izvekov, Washington D.C.

Other Participants: Julia Andreyeva, and Sergey Alekseev, Russian Federation.

S7, fifth Concurrent Paper Session: Theory 2

Chair: Matt Melko*, Wright State University, Ohio. *Ross Maxwell standing in for Matt

Barry Kosmin, Trinity College, CT, “Is There a 21st Century Global Scientific Culture?”

Huei-Ying Kuo, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, “Imagined Chinas in Asia’s
Civilizational Discourses.”

Ross R. Maxwell, Institute for Historical Study, San Francisco CA, “Civilization and Interdependent Specialists: The Grade Change Hypothesis.”

Matt Melko*, Wright State University, Ohio, “Past and Future of Civilizations.”

3:30 – 4:00 pm, break #2

4:00 – 5:30 pm, Plenary Session #2: Ashok Malhotra, SUNY Oneonta, on “Religion and Civilizations in South Asia” discussant TBD.

5:30 – 6:30 pm, break for rest and freshening up before the banquet

6:30 – 9:00 pm, Banquet, with Presidential Address. Andrew Targowski on
“A Manifesto for Civilization.”

Presentation of the ‘Young Rising Civilizational Star’ award
and other awards.

ISCSC 2011 conference in New Orleans, W. Reed Smith.

Thursday, June 17:

9:00 – 10:30 am, S8, sixth Concurrent Papers Session

A: Korea and China

Chair, Dong-Hyeon Jung, Pusan National U, South Korea

Cheol-hun Park, Pusan National U, South Korea, and Ae-sol Kim, Gyeong-sang University, S.
Korea, ‘“Korean Wave’ Hitting Young Generation in Asia: Ideosyncrasy and Universality of an Asian New Cultural Tide.”

Soojin Jung, Yonsei U, “Private Sector Overpowers Regular School Education in South Korea”

Cheol-hun Park, Pusan National U, South Korea, “Future of Korean Social Enterprise: To Rely
On Government Support or to be Independent?”

Dong-Hyeon Jung, Pusan National U, South Korea, “Emerging East Asia Challenges the West –
Will Asia Surpass the U.S. and West Soon?”

B: More Religious Inputs to Civilizations, Latin America

Chair: Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, Brooklyn University

Adan Stevens-Diaz, Temple University, “Religion and the Enlightenment in Baroque Latin
America: A Chapter in the Transformation of Civilization in Popular Culture.”

Ana Maria Diaz-Stevens, Union Theological Seminary, New York, “Sor Juana Ines of Baroque
Mexico and the Civilized Woman.”

Pedro Geiger, Brazil, “Current Social and Political Role of Religions: The Particular Case of
Judaism and of Condoruble.”

Norman Rothman, University of Maryland, “Modernity and Islam in Malaysia.”

10:30 – 11 am, break #1

11:00 – 12:30 am, Plenary Session #3: David Wilkinson, UCLA, on “Civilizations: What are they?” with a secretary to help with practical aspects of drawing up the ephemeral list of certifiable “civilizations” according to someone’s criteria. This year, the criteria are David Wilkinson’s.

12:30 – 1 pm, Annual Business Meeting (election of officers mainly)

1:00 pm – 2 pm lunch in the cafeteria followed by open time for tours, etc.
[a New Board Meeting]

2:00 pm -- ??? Tour to Salt Lake City, Temple Square, etc.
Dinner on your own there or in BYU/Provo area.
The conference center will have lists of things to do around there.

* Once again, one of our two surviving founding members had a health emergency days ago which will prevent Matthew Melko, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Wright State University in Ohio, from attending this year. We hope he will recover soon so that we can see him again next year in New Orleans. This 40th gathering of the ISCSC is dedicated to Matt and his family.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: "Contested Will"

Contested Will
Who Wrote Shakespeare?

By James Shapiro

Simon & Schuster, 339 pages, $32

Reviewed by Michael Dudley

DESPITE his subtitle, American academic James Shapiro doesn't actually think there is any question that William Shakespeare of Stratford was the author of the greatest works in the English language.

This rather disingenuous approach will please traditionalists and will likely go unnoticed by the uninitiated.

Skeptics, however, will surely find Shapiro's arguments to be time-worn, weak and, indeed, fallacious.

An award-winning author and English professor at Columbia University, Shapiro has written three previous books on Shakespeare. In Contested Will, he recounts the almost two centuries of skepticism concerning the authorship of the Shakespeare canon.

We learn of the many famous individuals who could not accept the seemingly irreconcilable chasm between the dull, penny-pinching life of the Stratford man as expressed in the extant documents, and the brilliance of Shakespeare's plays. Mark Twain, Henry James, Sigmund Freud and Helen Keller -- to name just a few -- all professed their doubts.

Shapiro is critical not only of these and other skeptics, but also of orthodox scholars who have tried to marry the internal evidence of the plays (such as the author's extensive knowledge of courtly life, the law and of Italy) to the life of Shakespeare of Stratford.

While more than 50 possible "Shakespeares" have been proposed (with several new candidates emerging recently), Shapiro focuses on the proponents of the two most widely accepted ones, Sir Francis Bacon and especially Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

In the 1850s, American Delia Bacon (no relation to Francis) concluded that Bacon had hidden secret codes in the plays and poems, and she and her many followers spent years and fortunes in a vain attempt to identify and decipher them.

Another American, J. Thomas Looney (pronounced "Loney"), by contrast, took a more positivistic approach during the First World War by first establishing a list of characteristics possessed by the author and then seeking an Elizabethan poet whose literary style and biography matched these criteria.

This method quickly led him to de Vere, who has, over the intervening 90 years, become by far the most plausible candidate.

Shapiro's primary interest lies in the motivations behind Baconianism and Oxfordianism. He discovers that Delia Bacon believed Bacon/Shakespeare to be a radical republican, while Looney admired Oxford/Shakespeare as a regressive feudalist.

While ignoring the substance of Bacon and Looney's work, Shapiro nonetheless devotes the final chapter to setting out his case for Stratfordian orthodoxy, which, like most conventional biographies of "the Bard," consists primarily of conflating all contemporary references to a writer named Shakespeare with the man from Stratford, and filling in the blanks with conjecture.

Even so, it is Shakespearean skeptics who come off as heedless cranks pursuing alternative explanations for largely ideological reasons, rather than as rational investigators solving a genuine literary and historical problem.

He insists that their search for connections between the life and the work is pointless, as the plays and poems are devoid of any biographical information, and were derived entirely from their author's imagination.

In other words, Shakespeare made it all up.

Shapiro doesn't reveal to his readers that Oxfordian scholars have uncovered a host of important solutions to otherwise inexplicable problems in the dating and interpretation of the canon, yet he can only defend the Stratfordian view with an appeal to the power of "imagination." He appears to believe this conclusion is profound; but, in explaining everything, "imagination" actually explains nothing.

It is difficult to imagine another field of study in which such circular logic would be taken seriously. That Shapiro is gaining considerable accolades for this book is itself an indication of the anemic state of orthodox Shakespearean scholarship.

Michael Dudley (an avowed Oxfordian for 20 years) is a research associate at the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Winnipeg.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2010 H7

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Philosophical Reflections on Globalization

Opinions vary about globalization because of the different levels at which this complex concept has been understood. Though the 20th and 21st centuries would like to show their monopolistic designs on this concept, attempts at globalization had been made throughout the history of humankind. While Alexander the Great of Macedonia, Caesar of Rome, Ashoka of India, Genghis Khan of Mongolia, Napoleon of France, the Colonial Empire of the British and the Communism of Lenin and Mao of Russia and China, have provided visions of globalization by making bold attempts at bringing together the diverse people of the world under a single political and military system, these attempts had not been successful.

After World War II, with the collapse of the British colonial empire, a great deal of debate had ensued regarding globalization, which was conceived in terms of a one-world, two-world, and three-world or multiple-world order. Though the idea of a one-world order gained currency among the politicians and intellectuals, the proponents of the cold war rejected it. From the end of World War II to the early 1990’s, globalization came to be understood in terms of two worlds: the Communist World of the USSR including the Eastern European Countries and China and the Capitalist World of the USA incorporating UK and Western European Countries whereas all the other countries were tolerated and were dubbed as the third world. During the early 1990’s, as this vision or division of the two-world order fell apart with the break up of the former USSR, the USA became the most powerful nation on this earth.

In order to cement this splintered globe, the USA started articulating its own vision of globalization in economic terms only to rest of the world. To accomplish their goal of economic unification, when the US mega corporations did not have their way with the various countries of the world, the US armed forces came to their rescue by enforcing this economic globalization through military action. The US involvement in bloody wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is a clear evidence of this militaristic strategy. Since the past attempts at globalization through political, economic and military domination failed because of the people’s revulsion towards the hegemony of any one country on rest of humanity, the USA experiment on imposing its will on the people of the globe is bound to suffer the same fate.

Though the proselytes are convinced that globalization is inexorable, inevitable and a blessing for the human race, the critics are repulsed by the very thought of it because it is a reminder of the colonial past of the human race where the powerful nations restrained the less powerful countries and lived lavishly at the expense and exploitation of the subdued. The big industrial giants, who want to tie up the entire world, present globalization to the general public in economic terms only. “While the members of the World Trade Organization are trying to negotiate for the best trade terms for themselves, the impact of globalization goes beyond business, trade and finance. In fact it will affect practically every aspect of our lives. Some of these effects may be positive, while others may be negative.” (EWC/EWCA 2002 Conference Theme).

As a philosopher my interest lies in portraying globalization as an all-encompassing concept of moving towards the creation of a one-world culture/civilization where the world economy will have a crucial place but will be only one among many other significant factors.

Globalization as a vision will involve the creation of the following:

1. A One-World Government, where all nations will become states of the Federal Government of the United Nations. The United Nations will be more like the Federal Government of the United States having its centralized economy, budget, army and control on the major resources such as energy, monuments, aviation, weapons, etc. as well as universal health insurance and minimum wage for all citizens of the world. All nations, as the states of this world government, will have only police force to protect the citizens from the anti-social or disruptive elements of the society. Each of the present nations will send two senatorial representatives, who will be part of the World Senate and will have a single vote. The other will be the House of World Congress, which will have representatives proportionate to the size of their country’s population. Both the World Senate and World Congress will constitute the World Parliament, which will take decisions for the welfare of the world. If there is an emergency in any part of the globe, which requires the action of the World Government, that nation will be treated as a state and will be given disaster funding and other help to deal with the crises.

2. A One-Universal Educational System, where every school going child will have the opportunity to go to school at least till the 12th grade. This education will be provided free of charge so that the children, who are the future of the human race, will be literate and will carry on the burden of humanity. (Please check the third part of the paper where a successful attempt has been made through the Ninash Foundation to provide education to the impoverished children by building three Indo-International Elementary Schools in India)

3. A One-World Diverse History, which will be written by the world scholars highlighting the Global leaders of the past who had solved problems through non-violent and compassionate means rather than through fighting bloody wars. All those cruel leaders who were anti-human rights, anti-human equality, and anti-human freedom will be assigned a mediocre place in human history. Each country’s history will be written as the history of one of the states of the world whereas the history of the world will constitute the history of the diverse human race.

4. A One-World Spiritual Quest or Universal Spirituality, which will delineate the quintessence of all religions representing the best aspirations of humankind. The emphasis will be on the universal laws of the spirit revealed by the diverse religions, where inclusiveness will be emphasized and the exclusivity will be de-emphasized. Moreover, each of the present religions will be looked upon as offering a path leading to the realization of this universal spirituality. Vivekananda, who was an Indian Intellectual, identified the quest for the Universal Religion with Universal Spirituality. He speaks of the Universal Religion/Spirituality as follows: “There is only one (universal) religion. The moment you give it a name, individualize it, it becomes a sect and no more a religion. A sect proclaims its own truth and declares that there is no truth anywhere else. (Whereas Universal) Religion believes that there has been and still is, one religion in the world. There never will be two. It is the same religion presenting different aspects in different places. The task before us is to conceive the proper understanding of the goal and scope of humanity which is the realization of Universal Spirituality.” (April 1, 1900)

5. A One-World Diverse Art, One-World Diverse Literature, and One-World Diverse Music, will present universal sentiments as expressed in the world-affirming expression of the human spirit and will be patterned after the World History and the Universal Spirituality. Diversity in art, literature and music will be emphasized within the context of the underlying unity, which is the expression of the world-affirming human spirit. In his work, What Is Art?, Tolstoy expressed a similar sentiment by emphasizing the function of art as expressing universal human emotions such as love, altruism and compassion—the sentiments that are conducive to the spiritual connection among diverse people of the planet earth.

6. A One-World Diverse Philosophy, which will present an all-encompassing philosophy which will reveal the distinctive features of the humankind, their relationship to the universe and their concepts of a meaningful life to be lived here and now. This overarching philosophy will emphasize the exciting diversity of humankind as well as the uniqueness of the individual displayed through the existing philosophical systems of the world. The earliest philosophical books of India called the Vedas, which had presented this idea as: “Ekam Sad Vipra Bahuda Vadyanti” meaning “there is one truth, but many paths to it,” encouraged diverse search for the one truth.

7. A One-World Currency, to be used in every state of the world. The minimum wage will be sufficient to buy a family of four adequate food, shelter, clothing, footwear, transportation etc. to live a comfortable life.

8. A One-World Economy, which will be patterned after the economy of the United States of America. All countries of the world will be states of this one-world government and will be modeled after the states of the USA.

9. A Borderless Village, a world without borders or check points where people will be able to move freely from one state to another, finding job opportunities and raising family in a geographic area of their choice.

10. A One-World Citizen: where a person will not be a citizen of a specific country but a world citizen.

By Ashok Kumar Malhotra

Southern Tempest

I am both bemused and fascinated by the latest racial “tempest in a teapot”, i.e. the mock outrage expressed in some quarters regarding Virginia’s Confederate History Month. Megalopolitan extraordinaire Michael Gerson called Gov. Bob McDonnell’s failure to mention slavery in his proclamation “a sin of omission”, and President Obama deemed it “unacceptable”. Predictably, McDonnell repeatedly apologized profusely for his heinous crime.

Then Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour defended McDonnell, saying that there was no need for an apology, that everyone with any common sense already knows slavery was bad, and that the whole controversy did not amount to “diddly”. Barbour also noted that Mississippi has had its own Confederate Memorial Day for many years and that no one has attacked the Democrat-controlled Mississippi legislature. Thereafter, the DNC attacked Barbour for his insensitivity.

Well, it turns out that according to Wikipedia twelve states have legal provisions to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day (the thirteen Confederate states less Missouri, plus Pennsylvania, which is a well-known hotbed of racist rednecks, according to deceased Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha). Louisiana, for example, is particularly pathetic: she has two days set aside on which the Governor may decree that the Lost Cause be remembered, but only one per year: either Robert E. Lee’s Birthday, January 19, or Confederate Memorial Day, June 3 (which was Jefferson Davis’ birthday). Thus, each year Louisiana can officially honor the General or everybody else, but not both; or the Governor can designate other possible holidays and honor none of them, which as far as I know is what has happened for many years and which is likely to continue.

By the way, I checked the overly lengthy Louisiana statute which creates holidays, and there does not appear to be any mention of the evils of slavery in it. I strongly suspect that the other states’ statutes also reflect the same “unacceptable” “sin of omission”. On the other hand, Louisiana provides for a state holiday for Martin Luther King every year.

But I digress...

What bemuses me about the criticism of McDonnell is the logic at work in the brains of those who claim that every time a public official celebrates Southern history or the Confederacy, one must also mention slavery. That logic leads to absurd consequences. For example, let’s put the shoe on the other hand, as it were:

Every time we mention Lincoln, do we have to note that he wanted to send the freed slaves back to Africa?

Every time we mention the Rev. Martin Luther King, do we have to talk about his adultery and ties to communists?

Every time we mention the obvious evils of slavery, do we also need to remember that slavery is what brought the slaves to America in the first place?

Every time we mention England or Great Britain, do we need also to recount the crimes and injustices committed in the name of the Crown against the Irish, Scottish, Catholics, American Indians, Africans, Asian Indians, Chinese, Autralian Aborigines, Maoris, Jamaicans, etc., etc.?

Every time we mention St. Patrick, do we need to mention his wanton cruelty committed against the snakes of Ireland?

And finally, more generally, every time Obama goes abroad, does he really have to apologize for all of the alleged sins of the United States?

The answer to these questions, for those lacking functional synapses, is “No”.

More importantly, what fascinates me about Virginia’s Confederate History Month is, first, the fact that it is taking place at all; and why now? It seems clear that the Democrats think they can deride McDonnell and Barbour with the usual racial smears as part of their larger strategy of attempting to portray the Republicans and the Tea Party movement as a bunch of ignorant white racists. But why would Republican governors bring all this up now?

The most probable answer is simply inattention to detail, or not thinking things through. The Republicans stepped in it and gave the Democrats ammunition (or at least something the Democrats are lamely trying to use as ammunition). But another possible explanation is that when a large percentage of Americans think that the country is going to hell in a hand basket, the Republicans threw their right wing a bone and differentiated themselves from the Democrats. This is essentially the red cape theory: that Republicans knew that the Democrats would charge like an angry bull and that the Republicans would come out ahead with their conservative Southern base. The problem with the theory is that Republicans already have the support of most Southerners, and I can’t think of anyone who would switch to vote Republican based on this hubbub. Furthermore, nothing puts the fear of God into a mainstream Republican like a claim that he is being “divisive”, or insensitive, much less racist. I am sticking with just plain not thinking things through.

The other thing that I find fascinating is what the implications of the little tempest are for the American ethnic identity. As chronicled by Samuel Huntington, the white American ethnicity has essentially been deconstructed over the last fifty or so years, most effectively by mass non-white immigration and by forced integration, particularly in the South. To have a State—or really twelve States, for that matter—publicly and officially honor the Lost Cause is to throw a monkey wrench into the deconstruction of the white American ethnicity. In other words, rather surprisingly, white Southerners apparently still view themselves as white Southerners; by extension, white Americans still view themselves as white Americans. That ethnic consciousness is something that proponents of the Proposition Nation like Obama and Gerson (and his former boss, Pres. Bush 43) simply can not tolerate. Therefore, Gov. McDonnell and Virginia’s Confederate History Month must be criticized. More importantly, the month honoring essentially white Southern history must be altered to acknowledge the obvious evil of slavery, so that such a distinctively white memorial can not be viewed as a positive and must be seen in a negative light; and the apologies must be profuse.

Nevertheless, Megalopolitans, take comfort, your victory is nearly complete: in my view, there will be no resurgence of Southern (or American) identity. From what I can tell, the younger generation of Southerners has no knowledge of Southern history except what they have been taught in school, which is simply that the Confederates were evil slaveholders. They can’t sing “Dixie” because (a) they don’t know the words and (b) they have been indoctrinated with the belief that the song and the Confederate Battle Flag are racist symbols. Virginia’s Confederate History Month does not represent a turning point; it is just an eddy in the torrent toward Western oblivion.

W. Reed Smith