Saturday, December 13, 2014

Letter to the Editor

San Francisco Chronicle

I had to laugh out loud after reading about all the countries criticizing the US for using torture! What hypocisy! Countries such as Iran and China and members of the UN General Assembly, criticizing us? At least Brazil is quiet, busy with their own torture revelations. Not  a single country in Latin America has a clean record on torture, and forget about the Muslim world,  Russia, or most of Asia.

Few other countries have ever made public an issue such as this, openly and with all sides debating it. I can think of only two, France after the disaster of their Algerian war, and South Africa in their Reconciliation Conference.  We are to be congratulated for revisiting this issue, practices used when we had just been attacked and more attacks expected. Out of this revisiting is a discussion of the utility of such practices. Torture is usually a bad idea, bad for the perpetrators and not effective in gathering intelligence. But in the context of 9/11, probably necessary.

I just hope that we do not overcorrect. Do not engage in a witch hunt to punish our security services. Also, it will be stupid to drop profiling. Terrorists are not little old ladies; they are a community of young men recognizable by their demeanor. The enemy is among us and dangerous.

Europe Rethinks Multiculturalism

Laina Farhat-Holzman
December 13, 2014

Americans, unlike Europeans, have always made room for new citizens from other countries.  Since the end of World War II, however, western European countries have been trying to counter their old patterns of bigotry by welcoming all immigrants fleeing horrors in their old countries. The governments of the UK, France, Germany, and Scandinavia have offered social services, welfare, housing, and public schooling for the newcomers.

What they have not done is to make demands on immigrants that they accept the values and behaviors of their new countries. Such demands, it was thought, assumed that their own cultures were in some way superior to that of the newcomers, a view not popular with multiculturalists. This well-intentioned policy is now facing revision---and many people hope it is not too late.

The American model has been different from that of Europe. We received hordes of refugees from the mid-19th century until World War I, refugees who were needed in the work force. The Americans who were already here certainly did not welcome people with disparate and often unpalatable cultures; every immigrant wave faced bigotry at first. However, within one generation, most of the children of these immigrants thrived and were as American as their neighbors. Immigrants took citizenship classes and worked hard to become Americans. They all learned English and few of them had any desire to return to their parents' countries. They were American.

Although some immigrant groups brought with them criminal organizations: the Italian Mafia, the Chinese Tongs, German Bunds, and Irish criminal-political networks, these were designed to evade, not replace American law. Moreover, American standards of tolerance required that people eventually adopt the values of the host country, and our immigrant populations have been integrated.

Europe's problem was that they did not have a tradition of integrating large numbers of immigrants into their age-old national identities. Even dissident Christian groups such as the Albigensians and Cathars were exterminated when they refused to accept Catholicism. Christianity throughout two millennia never considered the one small group with another religion, the Jews, as acceptable citizens. This only changed during the Reformation, when finally, some Jews were able to distinguish themselves as true German, French, or English citizens.

With the Reformation, however, came a two-century war between Catholic and Protestant states, also waged on the citizens with the wrong religion within those states. The British barred English Catholics from the full rights of citizenship until the Pope stopped persecuting Protestants in Catholic countries. This should be the model of all tolerance: reciprocity.

European countries (and America) have welcomed Muslim immigrants, both the elites who were already educated in European schools (Persians and Afghans), and those perceived to be very downtrodden economic refugees: Turkish, Somali, Indonesian, Pakistani, Iraqi, Chechen, and Palestinian. In Europe, these migrants were admitted unconditionally, with consequences of violence and lawlessness, particularly against women and children. Such groups have representatives with enough political clout to make demands on the larger culture, such as special family law, intolerance of the majority culture's mores, and excuses for religious-based violence. Why else would the British press try to call Pakistani Muslim rapists “South Asian?” Fear of being branded bigots motivates this.

Now, at last, the worm is turning. British Prime Minister David Cameron has proposed new laws that will permit seizing the passports of Britons who have traveled abroad to fight with terrorist Jihadis. They will not be readmitted and will lose their citizenship. Jihadis preaching violence in Britain will no longer be protected by British law. They will be deported.

The Dutch and Danes have finally scrapped their multicultural indulgence of Muslim migrants. They now demand that citizenship requires leaning the language, mores, and values of their hosts. France was the first European country to ban the Islamic headscarf in government institutions and the total burqa in public (insulting to women and used as disguises by criminals and terrorists).

The US and Canada have been slower to adopt such measures, which may be changing now. Calling Hassan Nidal's Islam-inspired Camp Hood massacre “workplace violence” instead of Muslim terror is outrageous political correctness.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Classical Geopolitics in Brazil

by Bertil Haggman

The German geographer Friedrich Ratzel in his book Politische Geographie (1897) developed a number of concepts of space, that interested both the founder of geopolitics, Swedish Professor Rudolf Kjellén, and Sir Halford Mackinder of Great Britain. The latter’s central term was heartland, more or less Russia (or later the Soviet Union), although the more exact area of the heartland was in Siberia. Russia (and later the Soviet Union) was a land power that threatened British sea power. Mackinder introduced factors such as communications, populations and industrialization.

The American Admiral Alfred T. Mahan was a geopolitician before the term was introduced in 1899 by Kjellén. Mahan’s thesis was broadly that the sea power could maintain control through a number of naval bases around the Eurasian heartland.

Mackinder’s geopolitical theories during the post-Second World War era had a decisive influence on world politics. The Soviet Union threatened the Western maritime alliance created by the United States, NATO being the military arm of that alliance. This alliance used containment to stop the land power Soviet Union from controlling the Eurasian rimland. Moscow had  after World War II replaced Nazi Berlin as the main threat to the sea alliance. The basic struggle in global politics is land power against sea power. This contradiction will continue to play a major role in world politics also in the 21st century.

Definitions of geopolitics abound. One that takes into account the political side of the term is Professor Phillip Kelly 1): geopolitics is the impact of geographic factors on a country’s foreign policy. Several South American geopolitical experts have presented their own definitions.

Geopolitica brasileira had two founders, Everardo Backheuser and Carlos Delgado de Carvalho. The former was greatly influenced by the Swedish father of geopolitics, Rudolf Kjellen. Backheuser focused on southern Brazil, border disputes with neighboring countries and the formation of Amazonia.

The large land mass of Brazil was secured already during the colonial period. Between 1854 and 1907 the territory was further enlarged in settlements of territorial disputes with Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and French Guiana.

After World War II geopolitical theorists of the Escola Superior de Guerra (ESG) came to play an important role in developing the theory of Brazilian geopolitics. Leading names were Carlos Delgado de Carvalho and General Golbery de Couto e Silva. With Carlos de Meira Mattos General Couto e Silva based their projections on the large size of the country. Important was also Brazil’s support for the Western alliance in the struggle against international communism. To strengthen Brazil quick integration of Amazonia had to be supported.

Building the infrastructure was crucial. This included roads in the interior and as well as airfields. Brazil’s strong position in South America today would not have been possible without the development during the 1960s and 1970s.

Couto e Silva in 1964 presented his views on how to best integrate and develop Amazonia:

- to articulate the ecumenical basis of the continent-wide projection of Brazil. The Northeast and the South would have to be connected to the center.
- it would be important to colonize the Northwest to integrate it with the rest of the country.
- the new frontier population would hold the frontier following the axis of the Amazon River.

Brazilian geopoliticians have also expressed an interest in Antarctica. During the government of Jose Sarney Brazil promoted the creation of a South Atlantic Zone of Peace and Co-operation (SAZOPC).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Debates About “Intrinsic Islam” Miss the Mark

Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 8, 2014

Some noisy public debates are going on about the sensitive issue of the “intrinsic” nature of Islam. Two members of the liberal intelligentsia (Bill Maher and Sam Harris), who do not find any religion logical, have dared to say that the well-intentioned mantra that “Islam is a religion of peace” is baloney. Islam, they say, is intrinsically violent. The respected public intellectual Fareed Zakaria chastised Maher and Harris for condemning this huge world-wide religion. Too broad a brush, he said, to designate a 1300-year old faith as intrinsically violent..

It is true that most Muslims are not Jihadist, but all Jihadists are Muslim.  Harris says that from its inception, Islam has always made the worst possible choices (medieval institutions) and Maher gives plenty of examples of beliefs anathema to western liberal: killing apostates, abusing women, murdering followers of other religions in the name of Allah, issuing edicts condemning to death those who “insult” the Prophet Mohammad, and rampant sexual violence.

Zakaria makes a good point that Islam is not practiced just one way. Over the centuries, Muslims have adhered more and sometimes less to Sharia law, a code frozen in time in 1200. There are pious Muslims living in non-Muslim countries who obey the host country's law, as well as some in even Muslim-majority countries such as Iran who are only nominally Muslim. However, recently in Egypt a poll was taken asking whether it was right to execute those Muslims who convert to another faith or reject Islam altogether. The vast majority thought it was right. The current military government, fortunately, will not do so. However, nobody has polled the majority of Muslims around the world to ask this, and other questions, that make the faith so primitive.

Maher and Harris find Islam intrinsically flawed, and do so based on its practices for the past 1300 years. Zakaria objects that this condemnation is only valid for a relatively small cadre of extremists, not for the Muslim world as a whole. But what only a few scholars are doing is looking at the religious sources that make the arguments of the Islamists legitimate in the eyes of most practicing Muslims. The radical Islamists are going back to their first model, the life and practices of the Prophet Mohammad and his companions.

If one imitates the life of Islam's founder, one could, of course, imitate his first ten years as a missionary using persuasion and a kindness. However, Islamists note that the last ten years when Mohammad was a warlord trumped the earlier. Arab Muslims are allergic to the very notion of history, claiming that everything before Mohammad was darkness and ignorance. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam is not a linear religion in which changes occur in time, yet in this one instance, choosing the last ten years rather than the first, they are practicing a horrible historicity.

During the Prophet's last ten years of struggle (jihad) to convert all Arabs to his new religion, he led a guerilla army that waylaid merchant caravans to steal their goods and money; personally tortured captives to find out where the gold was hidden; gave the conquered people the option to convert to Islam, pay an extortion tax if they were “people of the book,” or be decapitated. After killing the men, the women and children were parceled out as booty. When he was finished, only Muslims were permitted to remain in Arabia, a prohibition that remains even today.

Imitating the life of Jesus is very different from imitating the life of Mohammad. Throughout history, many Christians did not imitate Jesus, but those who did, such as St. Francis of Assisi and the Quakers, provided a sterling model. Christianity today has pockets of crazies, but these are not a model for the Christian world. Islam's crazies, alas, are such a model. This explains their success in recruiting foot-soldiers to their cause.

Although we are told that only 5% of the world's estimated 1 billion Muslims are committed Islamists, 5% equals more than 50 million crazies! Not a happy thought. The faith of Islamists is certainly not a religion of peace.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or    

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Elephant in the Room: The War Without a Name

Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 1, 2014

As I watched the unfolding drama of an attack on the Canadian Parliament, I immediately suspected that the killer (or killers) were Muslims, probably converts. It took the rest of the day to confirm something that seems to make many in the press uncomfortable. The press, government officials (our own and other democratic leaders), academics, and the “spokesmen” for Islam (a religion that has no official leadership) tap-dance around trying to avoid the word "Muslim."   “These violent people are not real Muslims,” they claim, “and religion is not motivating their actions.”  How long will this elephant stand there before somebody notices?

The attackers themselves identify themselves not only as Muslims, but as the only “correct” Muslims. They claim that they do their killing in the name of Allah. A week before the Ottawa attack, another Muslim convert (Martin Couture-Rouleau) was shot and killed after he rammed his car into two Canadian soldiers. He had told a 911 operator before the attack that he was acting in the name of Allah. Of course, lone wolf actions are not up to the chaos of 9/11 or the siege of Mumbai a few years ago, but they raise an even more serious issue: public mistrust of their Muslim populations.  We cannot tip-toe around this. This mistrust sweeps up both good and bad Muslims.

The US has also seen a spate of lone wolf killings by Muslim converts. Alton Nolen beheaded a co-worker and attacked another after being fired. His own Facebook included a picture of a beheading, yet the crime was called "workplace  violence." A Seattle man, Ali Muhammad Brown, murdered four people in a killing spree, claiming that he was “living in the cause of Allah.” Yet neither of these monsters had been accused of terrorism.

It is estimated by experts that only five percent of Muslims around the world are jihadists or in sympathy with violent Islam. This does not sound like much until you realize that five percent of one billion Muslims (again, a guess) is 50 million people! And what about the other 95 percent?  How can we tell the good from the bad? Few of the followers of the “peace” part of the “Religion of Peace” dare to speak up, are not organized, and cannot dismiss the legitimacy of following the model of the Prophet's final ten years as a warlord.

Muslims migrate to the Western world because their lives in their native lands are impossible. They do not migrate to other Muslim countries, nor do their native countries welcome immigrants who are not MMuslim. Many do not adhere to Human Rights values on any level. Yet some children of these economic refugees either reject Western culture or insist on replacing it with Islamic rules and customs or, in some cases actually reverse the immigration by going back to Muslim lands to fight jihad, or with girls, to bear jihadi babies.

One more touchy issue is that of refugees. Secretary of State Kerry actually believes that the “Palestinian refugees” are the grievance that motivates ISIS and all the jihadis. Somebody here does not know how to count. Refugees and internally displaced persons in the Muslim world dwarf the number and conditions of Palestinian refugees, the one group still supported by the UN with money and goods. How about Afghanistan, with 648,147; Iraq with 1,800,000; Libya with 79,135; Pakistan with 2,363,993; Somalia with 1,135,416; ;Syria with 11,000,000; Yemen with 547,890; and a grand total of 17,574,581? [Middle East Forum, October 20, 2014.]

The Muslim world is coming apart, and we cannot ignore that Militant Islam has declared war on us and on their less militant co-religionists.

Western governments recognize that some living among us mean us harm. They are now trying to watch the poisonous chat rooms, watch who is traveling to Yemen, Syria, or Turkey to join the jihad and either stop them or jail them upon their return, and keep an eye on the not-so-innocent radicalization of mosques and prisons. Yes, we are sacrificing some of our civil liberties, but it is either that or more decapitations at home or abroad.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or    

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Laina At the Movies

By Laina Farhat-Holzman
October 2014

The Equalizer
The latest Denzel Washington film, The Equalizer, is based on a long running TV series of the same name. The question asked is how can someone good equalize the more numerous and powerful forces of evil? I just remember the TV series dimly, but the film, while gratifying in its message, made we wonder if in reality a good person can trump organized evil.

The film begins with Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), seemingly an ordinary good man, is a department manager at a Home Depot-like store in Boston, much revered by his co-workers. He is a little out of the ordinary, however, in that he is obviously an educated man (reading through his late wife's 100 world's best books), and he is also someone who does not sleep much.  He leaves his solitary apartment at two in the morning to have tea and read at an all-night diner.

One night he befriends a very young hooker who is also at the diner but is summoned out by her pimp for a client she obviously fears.  When she winds up in the hospital after a savage beating, Washington departs from his solitary decent-man life and unknowingly takes on the local Russian mafia.

It has been interesting to see the Russians once more lighting up our screens as villains, and this mafia makes the Sicilian mafia look like a bad boy club. They are infiltrated into every enterprise: meat-packing, drugs, protection rackets, corrupting police and politicians, and ugliest of all, the trafficking of Slavic girls, some of them very young indeed. They keep all their enterprises in line through unimaginable violence carried out by the worst bunch of tattooed thugs imaginable. How can one person take on such a force and not only fight it, but dismantle it?

We then learn that McCall is a retired black ops government operative who could well be called not just a martial arts master, but a lethal weapon himself. Numbers of opponents do not deter him; within seconds, he uses speed and their own weapons to bring them down. He also gives some of these villains an opportunity to replace evil with good, as he does with two grafting cops who have been working at the Russian protection racket, forcing small businesses to pay them off.

He sometimes has success with American thugs, but never with the Russian ones who are so embedded in evil that they are entirely unrelenting (and who come to very gratifying ends).

The film ends with a suggestion that this will be a series.  Again, warnings for those who cannot stand bloody violence: avoid this. But for those who are gratified by someone being able to equalize and triumph over evil, this is a terrific film.

The Drop
This has been a week of film noir for me, this second one a little more difficult to love than The Equalizer, but it won me over. Besides being the last film to see James Gandolfini, who plays Cousin Marv, whose bar is now owned by local gangsters, it is a revelation to watch Tom Hardy, playing Marv's cousin, Bob Saginowski, whose seeming simplicity masks something more.

We have already met Russian gangsters in several movies this year, so it is no surprise to know that Russian Chechen thugs intimidate bars and shopkeepers in Brooklyn. A bar is assigned randomly to collect the payoff money each week where the money is “dropped” and then picked up in the middle of the night. This method prevents heists, unless, of course, an insider decides to steal from the Chechens (unwise).

Cousin Marv is bitter over the loss of his bar to the gangsters and is bent on a scam to rob them and leave for sunnier shores. His cousin Bob, a straight-arrow and gentle soul, is not told.

The plot is convoluted, but ultimately fascinating as is the burgeoning relationship between Bob and a young woman, Nadia (played by Noomi Rapace of Girl With the Dragon Tatoo), who is being stalked by her former boyfriend, said to have murdered another gangster.

Bob is not the idiot he seems to be; he is a new kind of anti-hero.

Gone Girl
This may be a marriage made in hell, but it is a really good thriller. The author's novel and screen writer propose that in marriage, both partners lie about who they really are while during the passion phase but then wake up to what may be horrible reality afterwards.  Jane Austin would have said: Marry in Haste, Regret in Leisure.

In a leafy Missouri suburb, a husband, Nick Dunn (Ben Affleck) returns from work to find the front door open, the living room furniture tumbled and broken, and his wife of five years Amy Elliot-Dunn (Rosamund Pike) gone.

We follow events with some flashbacks to their meeting in New York, their obvious lust for each other, and their happy marriage until the Recession kicks in and both lose their jobs.  When Dunn's mother becomes terminally ill, the couple move back to his home town in Missouri to help his twin sister take care of her.

There are immediate flashes of potential trouble from the beginning of this marriage: Dunn didn't know until their wedding that she was a wealthy woman (proceeds from her children's books based on her own “amazing” childhood). He was dazzled by her academic accomplishments and she by his obvious down-to-earth charm. Moving this successful city girl to small-town Middle America was going to have ramifications that neither of them would like.

The disappearance alerts police detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) that this may well be a crime scene and evidence such as blood spatter begins to implicate Nick. The story goes viral and the usual TV viragos have a field day crucifying Nick even before his arrest. When a partially incinerated diary kept by the missing wife is found, we hear a version of their marriage experience from the missing Amy.

A famous defense attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) who tries defending Nick in a TV panel winds up taking the case.

Amy, it seems, is not dead at all, but has disappeared leaving enough clues to implicate her husband in her supposed murder. We see this marriage from her viewpoint.

The ending of the movie is a dilly. A marriage saved or a nightmare begun?

The Judge

A hotshot defense attorney in New York, Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his Midwest hometown for the funeral of his mother. While there, his estranged father, a relentlessly upright judge (Robert Duvall) is accused of murdering a bicycler and leaving the scene of the crime.

The problem is that Judge Parker appears to have both gone off the wagon upon the death of his wife, but also might have had a motive for killing this particular bicycler, a loathsome criminal whom the judge mistakenly released, who went on to worse crimes. The judge, however, cannot remember killing the man on his bicycle that night. A blackout?  Alcohol?  Something else?

It seems most of the critics recognized that these two giants of the cinema were worth seeing, but many considered the story too sentimental and clichéd. I cannot agree. They were worth seeing, and the ever-fascinating issue of justice was front and center in this film. This was a family drama and a legal drama, with a point.  I would recommend it.


As a woman, I have not had to serve in the military. But if I had, two branches of the service would have been particularly awful: the submarine service and tanks.  Both are claustrophobic and at least during World War II, foul and stinky.

The last movie I saw that featured tank warfare was Israeli-filmed entirely from within a tank during an Israeli war in Lebanon. The claustrophobia was particularly horrifying.

Fury is a story that takes place in April, 1945, just months before the collapse of the Nazis, but deadly nonetheless. Because the American and British air forces completely smashed Germany's once fearsome Luftwaffe, air war had lost its danger. But on the ground, the Nazis were not yet giving up; they had forced every male (and some females) from 14 to 60, willing or not, to go forth in the final defense against the allies. Those who refused were hanged publically to “encourage” the others. The allies went through town after town, with even children on display from the gallows.

This is a war movie reminiscent of some of the other wonderful WWII movies and the more recent one, Private Ryan, but is even more realistically bloody, up close and personal. It is also a story about leadership: Brad Pitt plays “Wardaddy,” a sergeant who commands a Sherman tank with a five-man crew, one of whom is a 19-year-old who has never seen combat before. The odds are terrible. His mission puts him a position where he is outmanned and outgunned. The German tanks are better. But character often matters more than just the odds.

The story is gripping, and I need not tell you any more of the plot, but just recommend it for a glimpse into a world that most of us would not otherwise know. And we should remember how different our world would have been had the other side won.

John Wick

Only in a thriller movie could any of us consider rooting for a hitman! In an unusual bit of casting, the generally nice Keanu Reeves played John Wick, a retired New York hitman who had fallen in love, married, and then lost his wife to an untimely illness. Inconsolable, he was surprised to receive a package that his wife had ordered for him before she died, an adorable beagle puppy “so that he would have something to love after her death.” And love it he did, until an unfortunate run-in with some young Russian thugs who demanded that he sell them his favorite classic racecar. His refusal infuriated the thugs who tracked him down, invaded his house, beat him, killed his puppy, and took the car keys and car.

The most obnoxious of the thugs was the son of the a powerful Russian crime boss, played by another unlikely choice, Michael Nyqvist, who was the hero of the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Nyqvist was thrilling as a nasty Russian villain and Keanu Reeves was suitably lethal as the best of the best hitmen, out to get revenge. Even better, the two men had a history-and both spoke Russian.

I cannot honestly say that this was an elevating movie, but it was strange, violent, and make believe guilty pleasure. If the violence were really depicted with realism, I would not have been there. But it was a gratifying revenge fantasy taking place in a very strange and alien world that does exist among us (criminal underworld culture), and with the most gratifying villains of today, the Russian criminal world. They are so much smarter than the thugs of ISIS! I am sure Mr. Putin is creating more of them for us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Andrew Targowski - The Limits of Civilization

The Limits of Civilization

any colleagues or libraries having an interest in the field, they can apply a special 20% discount on all prepublication orders as well. If they would like to take advantage of this offer, please have them email Tricia Worthington at and enter Special20 in the subject line of the email.

Authors: Andrew Targowski (Western Michigan University)
Book Description:

This book has been inspired by Dennis Meadows's (et al.) The Limits to Growth, published 41 years ago, in 1972. It forewarned the general public about the exhaustion of strategic resources of the planet as known at that time, unless economic and population expansions were halted.
This resulted in the world becoming aware of the crisis of civilization. Measures were taken to reduce the consumption of the strategic resources, including the promotion of recycling resources used. Efforts were made internationally to introduce the practice of climate and environmental protection, to little avail.

The present book has a wider scope of analysis and synthesis, and even gloomier conclusions than those found in the two pioneering books.

This author has arrived at the following conclusions:

• The plight of civilization is doomed by the sun expiring within 4.5 billion years. It is also determined by the exhaustion of the known and the potential resources of the small planet Earth around the year 5,000. The future of civilization (considered in the time frame imaginable to man) is swayed by its current crisis, which results from the Triangle of Civilization Death (the combination of the “bombs” of population, ecology and depletion of strategic resources), which will be felt around 2050.
• The future of civilization is dependent on its capability of entering the phase of Wise and Universal Civilization in the years to come. This is conditioned upon the abandonment of the known socio-political and economic systems: capitalism, socialism, communism and their hybrids. These systems are based on the constant growth of population and the economy, which is unsustainable any longer.
• Democratic Ecologism ought to be the new system, securing a wise and sustainable functioning of civilization; it would prioritize the ecosystem in the choices made by man and societies. What must be observed, too, is tolerance based on Spirituality 2.0. It is based on the Decalogue of Complementary Values derived from the main religions 1.0, which the world is now practicing.

Is it possible to introduce these solutions to practical life? This is up to people becoming wiser. Alas, so far people do not even know what wisdom is since wisdom is not taught at school or college. And without wisdom, no civilization stands any chance of success in the universe of systemic chaos. (Imprint: Nova)

Prof. Dr. Andrew Targowski
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008, USA
President Emeritus of International Society for
the Comparative Study of Civilizations

Evy Johanne Haland - Rituals of Death and Dying in Modern and Ancient Greece: Writing History from a Female Perspective.

a new book that might be of interest to Civilitas subscribers (and especially for the theme of the next ISCSC-conference):

Rituals of Death and Dying in Modern and Ancient Greece: Writing History from a Female Perspective. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, see

All the best,
Evy Johanne Håland

See also:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reception of Macro-History in Sweden


Research Paper No. 1996


Bertil Haggman



Center for Research on Geopolitics (CRG), SWEDEN.
Director: Mr. Bertil Haggman, LL.M., author. E-mail:


My personal view was that macro-historian Oswald Spengler did not have a very positive response in Sweden if any. This was partly based on the fact that his great work The Decline of the West was not translated into Swedish until 1996.

Now at last we know better. James Cavallie, author and former with the Swedish National Archive, has documented the Spengler reception in Sweden in a very detailed book, Spengler i Sverige – Den svenska reception av Oswald Spenglers teser om världshistorien och Västerlandets undergång (Spengler in Sweden – The Swedish Reception of Oswald Spengler’s Theories on World History and the Decline of the West), Stockholm: Hjalmarson & Hoegberg, 2009, 304 pages). Cavallie has extended his presentation to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland and it covers the period from the 1920s to the present day. The author shows that a large number of leading Swedish cultural personalities have published about the German macro-historian. He has even had some influence on Swedish fictional works and on Swedish architectural theory.

Another recently published book by Per Landin, an author and liberal journalist also partly deals with Spengler in Dietrich Eckharts onda oega – essaeer (The Evil Eye of Dietrich Eckhart – Essays), Stockholm, Atlantis, 2009, 228 pages. In typical liberal fashion he assures the readers that conservatism presently is looked upon as reactionary. Maybe so in Landin’s own liberal circles in Sweden. In the new book Landin deals with several conservatives in what in Gerany is labelled as “revolutionary conservatives” in the Weimar Republic. Spengler was of course never a part of  “revolutionary conservatism”. He was a pessimistic individualist and Landin’s view of Spengler is not only negative. The author admits that it is hard to classify the German macro-historian. There is a certain connection to Nazism, according to Landin (although he does not go deeper than that. Spengler does not belong to any political ideology.

Spengler's Baltic Journey

It had been a hectic year for Oswald Spengler. In February 1924 he had published "Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend" and in May "Neubau des Deutschen Reiches". In the beginning of October he lectured at the Orientalist Conference in Munich. Then also in October he published "Altasien" and "Nietzsche und sein Jahrhundert", a lecture at the Nietzsche Archive at the 80th birthday of the philosopher. These were only a few of his activities that year. Already before Spengler’s visit to Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia in 1924 there had been a number of reviews of his work The Decline of the West.

When he undertook the Baltic journey he probably wanted to continue to Russia but was prevented from that by erupting violence there.

The notes underneath are from Spengler's own hand on cards preserved at the Spengler Archive now at the Bavarian State Library from a visit of mine in Munich. The English translation from German is mine.

" 27.10.1924

Early Berlin



10.29 in the evening arrival after an enjoyable see journey.


Lecture: [d.] The Origin of the Great Cultures. (Academic Society) "German-Swedish Academic Union." Introduction by Professor E.A. Kock.


Lecture: The History of Language in the History of the Development of Human Life (?) (Philosophical Society)

In connection discussion: Nilsson, (?), Larsson, Ljungdahl, (?).



Postcard to me via Halle and Berlin (?)
Lectures in Lund.



Lecture at the "Aesthetic Society" with the couple Cornell (?), Dr. Stavenow and Dr. Mannheimer.

Photographed (newspaper).


Back at the end of November.


Interview with Svenska Dagbladet.


Lecture on peoples, spaces and languages.

In the evening with Sundwalls ?

Newspaper of 10.11.1924



Arrived in the evening from Aabo. Rommen. Gave interview.



Lecture "How the Great Cultures Originated".


Received postcard.

On 15th crossing to Reval.

Lecture at the Finnish-German Society about the Fate of the Cultures of Antiquity. Afterwards



Last lecture: Races, Peoples, Languages in the Great Hall of the university


Reval. Car journey into "the interior of the country"


"Tomorrow Riga"



Received Postcard.


Trotzki is deposed


Communist coup in Reval, Estonia. General Laidoner given martial law powers. Executions. 17 Dec. new cabinet.




In February-March 1925  Spengler travelled to Italy.

My research in the list of names of the Spengler Archive has produced indications that Spengler exchanged letters with a few Scandinavians:

Knut Hamsun

Sven Hedin

Martin Persson Nilsson

Johann Sundwall

Cavallie describes Spengler’s Swedish and Finnish lecture tour in great detail and points out that the Baltic tour was the last lecture tour of the German macro-historian outside Germany. Later tours to Argentina and Spain were cancelled.

In a short concluding remark Cavallie points to Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington (who recently passed away) as possible modern successors of Spengler and Arnold Toynbee (who is also treated in a fair way in “Spengler in Sweden”. Fukuyama claimed that the questions had been solved with the collapse of the Soviet empire and the free enterprise had been victorious. There were no greater problems in the world unsolved. What Cavallie does not say is that Fukuyama could well be correct. The present onslaught on the West by islamofascism could well be a rearguard fight of reaction and autocratic extremists in the Arab world. If the creation of market economies in Afghanistan and Iraq are successful they could well be further steps of global liberty and democracy. In the long run American policies between 2009 and 2012 could just be a short term pause in the dominating ongoing American that started with Wilsonianism after the First World War.

On Huntington Cavallie is equally careful in his remarks. He notes that  Huntington believed that after the collapse of the Soviet tyranny there will be new tensions and conflicts this time between the seven or eight civilizations described by the American professor. The somewhat pessimistic view of Huntington was that the influence of the West will decline. Perhaps those views makes for a Spengler Redivivus in America. Unfortunately we will not be provided with more visionary views from the American Spengler. He passed away at 81 in December 2008.  Huntington was of course correct when he wrote about the coming new phase of world history. The question is if the future clash between America and China will be a clash between two civilizations. There is much evidence today that there is a separate American civilization that in many respects has surpassed European civilization. The coming clash will more likely be between American civilization as the hegemon of the West against a communist regime in Peking that desperately clings to power and uses nationalism as a tool. The conflict has already begun to heat up. In March 2009 China called for a new global currency to replace the dollar. In late March 2009 a new Chinese book, Unhappy China, singled out the United States for special scorn and called for Chinese strengthening of reliance on technology and innovation as well as bolstering the military.

Moeller van den Bruck and Macro-history

The works on the Weimar Era German conservative Moeller van den Bruck (1876 - 1925) have generally taken little notice of his interest in the philosophy of history. He did not believe in the decline of the West and thought it necessary to refute Oswald Spengler in his historical-philosophical works. It was important, he believed, to popularize a "metaphysics of reality", which implied synthesis of the main traditions of western philosophy. Van den Bruck was a nationalist and therefore primarily saw the different peoples as the agents of history.

Landin in his Dietrich Eckart’s Evil Eye devotes an essay to van den Bruck but concentrates on the Weimar author’s creation of the term The Third Reich, which appropriated by the Nazis. They later, however, found out that the author in no way represented Nazi views on history. Already in 1922 he had taken a stand against Hitler. The Nazis took their time to discover the real van den Bruck. As late as 1933 he was still described as the Prophet of the Third Reich. After a few months, however, Bruck’s books on Russia were forbidden and confiscated.

In Das Recht der jungen Völker (1919) van den Bruck established a new outline of history. It was not only a struggle between young and old peoples. There was also a spiral movement without end. Van den Bruck based his new model on older ones. A source was Geschichte der Farbenlehre by Goethe, who also claimed that there was a spiral development in world history. But the most important influence was that of the German historian Kurt Breysig.

The rotation of world history resulted in geopolitical changes. Van den Bruck's model also provided indications of migration of history northwards, which gave it a spatial, geopolitical essence. Later, however, van den Bruck expressed the belief of migration toward the east (in which he differed from a general myth of history that civilization had from Babylon migrated in a westerly direction, eventually to America). But the view of the easterly direction had taken root among 'conservative revolutionaries' in Germany after World War I. It was a pretty common understanding among them that after the Russian revolution the center of gravity of world history would be placed in the European east. In the coming decades development would be based on what was happening in the western part of this area (Germany was after World War I still a country to a great extent based on its eastern territories: Pommerania, Brandenburg, Silesia and East Prussia).

The rotation had gained speed and the south had already joined the west as periphery. The change was turning into revolution. In the pessimistic climate of Weimar Germany  it was important to the conservatives to instill confidence in the future. Thus Germans and Russians were described as "young peoples" of the future. The Germans had a great will to life. This would be important in the coming era of the world revolution. Overpopulation was working to the advantage of Germany and would strengthen her during the 20th century. The decline of the West was not Germany's decline. The future was determined by the "young peoples" which were throwing off their shackles. Thus the Germans were described in reality to be in the same category as the colonial peoples.


It has been claimed that Oswald Spengler’s great macro-historical work, The Decline of the West  caused a stir similar to that caused by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The great men were about the same age when rising to fame (Spengler was born 1880 and Einstein 1879). Both stood for changes of the way the world was viewed. Spengler’s book in Germany has been published in more than a quarter million copies and is widely translated.

Spengler in his great work did not set out to describe the death of Western culture. Instead the work is Spengler’s views on the end phase of our culture (rising around the year 1000 AD) as it turns into civilization. Neither is it a prophecy of the death of mankind. Man will live on without the West. What was shocking for the readers in 1918, most of them believing that the 19th and 20th centuries represented the height of development, was that someone could describe the West as being in a final phase.

Dr. John Farrenkopf, an American scholar, has recently provided the academic community and all interested in Spengler’s work with Prophet of Decline: Spengler on World Politics and History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001, 304 pages). After the attacks of Muslim terrorists of al Quaeda on the United States on September 11, 2001, this book is of increasing value, although the manuscript was completed and the book published before the attacks. Muslim terrorist actions and views are a threat to the present state system and ultimately the West.

Spengler is timely in 2009, both internationally and in Sweden, and especially Cavallie has provided a fine overview of the legacy of Spengler in the one Scandinavian country that has treated him seriously.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tunnelling Techniques of Totalitarian and Authoritarian States

By Bertil Haggman

The discovery recently of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza for the purpose of smuggling weapons is reveals the modern use of tunnelling in the Middle East. One must keep in mind the Oriental technique of “tunnelling” the enemy’s both spatial, political and psychological terrain. This art originated with the Mongols, and was copied and perfected by the Ottomans. There is, however, also a physical  aspect to tunnelling. Here will be treated three cases of this use of psychologically oriented warfare of Oriental origin.
North Korean Tunnelling

There is a long history of North Korea attempting to undermine Seoul and take over South Korea this way. There is an extensive literature both in the United States and South Korea on the attempts by the regime to tunnel under the border between South Korea and North Korea. Several Palestinian terrorist organizations in the 1960s established close ties with North Korea. Another example of North Korean contacts in the Middle East area in general was the Turkish People’s Liberation Army (TPLA). A historical link perhaps to the Ottoman past.

Ottoman Tunnelling

The Ottomans in the 1450s used undermining technique during the last phase of the siege of Constantinople. This was described by the Venetian ambassador Nicolo Barbaro in his diary  (W. Carew Hazlitt, The Venetian Republic, 2 volumes, London 1915). Neither bombardments nor scaling the walls, nor pitched battles at sea was so disheartening as the daily discovery of new tunnels being dug under Constantinople. Indirectly it was an attack on the willpower and identity of the Byzantine empire.

The Ottomans learned the tactics of tunnelling from the Mongols. Psychological warfare was common not only in the pre-Islamic and Islamic times in Persia, the Ottoman empire and among the Arabs.
Viet Cong Tunnelling

The infamous Viet Cong (VC) tunnel system was located 15 miles north of Saigon in the Iron Triangle. It comprised around 125 square miles of jungle and rice paddies. The United States forces in January 1967 in Operation Cedar Falls attempted to destroy the tunnel system. Residents were evacuated from the area and the system of tunnels was destroyed. The communists did return, however.

The United States had special soldiers who fought the VC and the North Vietnamese in the tunnels and the bunkers. Only the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions had formal units of the Tunnel Rats, but the units were small. The 1st  Division had only two squads.

The basic equipment was a .38 caliber revolver, a flashlight, and a knife. Standard procedure required three men in the tunnels at a time. The biggest success was in 1968 when 3 VC soldiers were killed and 153 forced backward out of a tunnel into captivity.

Outside these formal units mostly volunteers were employed. One important complex of tunnels was some 25 miles north of Saigon. It was probably the prime VC lifeline to Cambodian supply areas. There was a headquarters complex at Cu Chi. This vast complex was discovered by United States forces already in 1966. The 25th Infantry Division later established its base camp in Cu Chi and assumed the task of clearing the system. Different approaches used were tear gas, acetylene gas, and explosives. The American “tunnel rats” were almost always small in stature and had minimum equipment.

Tunnel networks were later discovered in other parts of Vietnam. In 1967 the Cu Chi tunnels hade been cleared, an example of tactical ingenuity and tenacity facing the United States Army in Vietnam (Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, St. Barbara 1998, 3 volumes).

As seen from the three examples above it is not hard to detect the background of Palestinian tunneling to smuggle arms to Gaza. How large these systems are and where is not in the public domain. American experience has shown that tunnel complexes can be dealt with.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Below is an article by Swedish geopolitician Bertil Haggman on the growing importance of the geopolitical thinking of Sir Halford Mackinder.

The London Times in 2009 claimed, rightly so, that the Edwardian Scottish geographer Sir Halford Mackinder, (1861 – 1947) Oxford professor and Member of Parliament, is ruling the world of ideas. He was the intellectual architect of modern geopolitics founded by Swedish Uppsala professor and conservative member of the Swedish Riksdag Rudolf Kjellén. Mackinder also put the idea of “the Heartland” at the centre of global diplomacy,“

In the twentyfirst century he is more relevant than ever. Mackinder’s realpolitik is back. Few may recall his name but the world’s foreign policy is played out today according to his geopolitical rules, together with a few other geopoliticians.

Mackinder’s fame came from a  lecture delivered in London in 1904, entitled The Geographical Pivot of History. His proposition number one: the globalised world — crisscrossed by steam, telegram and train — was a closed system. The world was now a unitary space with every strategic advance by one nation necessitating a rival power to retreat. Diplomacy was a zero-sum game and geopolitics meant successfully squaring political power with geographical setting.

Also the key to world power lay in “the Heartland of the Old World”, the Eurasian land mass. This vast land mass included the Iranian upland in the southwest and part of the Mongolian upland in the southeast. The core constituted, however, the Russian Empire. In centuries past this terrain had been the pivot of world history as the Huns, the Mongols and the Magyars swept into Europe. Ranged against this “Heartland” were the sea powers — Great Britain, the United States and Japan. And what geopolitics came down to was an ongoing struggle between the Heartland and the sea powers. Mackinder was worried that an expansionist Russia would act to the detriment of British imperial interests.

Mackinder’s geopolitics was further explored during the 1919 Versailles peace conference in his most significant work, Democratic Ideals and Reality (republished in 2009 under the Faber Find imprint of Lost Classics). Mackinder argued that the First World War victors should base the new world order not on lofty ideals but the hard geopolitical realities underlying history. The most pressing of those realities was the threat posed by a united Russia and Germany. Mackinder’s thesis was simple: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; who rules the World Island commands the world.”

To prevent the land powers to take over he advocated a cordon sanitaire of independent states in Eastern Europe — Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary — to act as a bulwark between Germany and Russia.

Sir Halford warned that a protective measure was needed in Eastern Europe from the Adriatic and Black Sea to the Baltic Sea: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and the other states of the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. Mackinder after World War I met with a number of leading politicians (especially Anton Denikin) whom he tried to persuade to recognize the newly created states in Eastern Europe. An anti-Bolshevik coalition was needed. Mackinder’s plan was turned down by the British government. It was also rejected by the War Secretary Winston Churchill.

Mackinder now came out of retirement and warned that “the territory of the USSR is equivalent to the Heartland” and that “if the Soviet Union emerges from this war as conqueror of Germany, she must rank as the greatest land power on the globe”. To secure the maritime democracies from Eurasian aggression, Mackinder proposed a North Atlantic alliance to provide a “bridgehead in France, a moated aerodrome in Britain, and a reserve of trained manpower, agriculture and industries in the eastern United States and Canada”.

Mackinder’s vision of geopolitics contributed greatly to American postwar defense strategy.

At the time the Yale international relations expert Nicholas Spykman wrote that Mackinder’s influence was palpable in US plans to counter Soviet expansion — from the establishment of Nato to the Marshall Plan to intervention in Turkey, Malaya, even Korea :

The policy of containment or encirclement of the USSR was evolved as a direct response to the threat seen to arise from Soviet domination of the Heartland”.

Mackinder later, however, fell out of fashion. During the era of the Vietnam War geopolitics was regarded as a bloody and arguably amoral approach. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan suddenly geopolitics and geography was back. President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski — raised on the northern edges of the Heartland in Poland — had studied Mackinder. Brzezinski had a reputation for controversial methods.

 In the 1980s Mackinder’s belief in reality over idealism continued to hold sway in Washington and London as both administrations dropped détente to confront head-on the “Evil Empire”. President Reagan’s nuclear proliferation adviser, Colin Gray, was himself a leading scholar of Mackinder.

Many of those who worked in the Nixon and Reagan White Houses — Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney among them — brought their geopolitics back to bear as part of the Bush Administration in 2000. With hundreds of US military bases stretching from Iraq to Afghanistan to Kyrgyzstan, a bid for the Heartland underpinning much 21stcentury Pentagon thinking can be seen.

After 1991 geopolitics is now discussed in the Heartland itself. Russian securocrats have been working to block NATO and US expansion into the former Soviet republics. Putin has long been reaching for his Mackinder. In 2014 he wages war in Europe over Ukraine.

In 2000 Geopolitics: A Textbook was published in Moscow with much of Mackinder’s work translated into Russian for the first time. In Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, think-tanks and diplomats are now surprisingly studying Sir Halford’s geopolitical philosophy.

In Georgia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and even Iran, an overt and covert battle for the Heartland is again being fought.  As in the 1930s, 1950s and 1980s decision makers are once more in the twenty first century reading Mackinder.

Halford J. Mackinder’s Democratic Ideals and Reality has been published by Faber and Faber. For an introduction in Swedish to geopolitics see Bertil Haggman’s book Geopolitik – en introduktion (2009;in Swedish).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Yoga Life Column by Ashok Malhotra

Yoga Life Column (June 2014)
Meditation in Action

Janaka was a famous king of India who had mastered the art of meditation in action. Having perfected a number of meditation skills, a monk boasted that he was as good as King Janaka. To test his special capabilities, the monk approached the king and said, "I have mastered the art of meditation in action and am as good as you. If you want proof of my mastery, put me through a test." After listening to the monk intently, the king replied, "I am delighted that you have mastered the art of meditation in action. There is a simple way to check it out. Here is a task for you. Take this wine goblet filled to its brim. Walk through every nook and corner of the palace and come back to me without spilling a single drop."

As the monk picked up the wine goblet, he told himself that he would fix his attention only on the goblet and would not let anything to distract him. With this determination, he walked through the entire palace, watching very carefully his every step so that not a single drop of wine spilled on the ground. Since he was successful in his concentration, he came back to the king and boasted that no one on this earth was equal to him in meditation.

After listening to the monk, the king said, "I am impressed with your power of concentration. You have proved your skills but there is another part to the test. Now take the goblet of wine and walk through the entire palace, make stops to talk to the guards, watch the dancers, look at the paintings and chandeliers, observe the cooks preparing a delicious meal, watch the royal children learning their lessons in the school, smell the flowers in the garden, talk to the ministers, and hold discussion with the justice of the peace. While you are enjoying the panorama of royal life within the boundaries of the palace, see to it that not a single drop of wine spills. If you can accomplish this simple feat then you have perfected the art of meditation in action."

Moral: Live your daily life as meditation in action!

Yoga Life Column by Ashok Malhotra

Yoga Life Column (July 2014)

What is the real meaning of the Yoga, which is so popular in the West? This question was asked by a student who was taking my course on the Philosophy and Psychology of Yoga. He offered me an opportunity to go beyond the philosophical definition of yoga to present a more general understanding of the concept. I started thinking about how to talk about this very important concept in the most genuine way while still keeping its profundity intact.
The word "yoga" comes from the root "Yuj", which means union, harmony or balance. Yoga can be understood as the union of the ordinary-day-today (socially constructed) self with the real self. It can also be grasped as harmony in the three parts of the human being consisting of the bodily, emotional and mental self. Furthermore, it can also be construed as the balance brought about through the physical postures, harmony in the emotions through the breathing exercises and serenity of the mind through the meditation exercises.

Balance is a simple as well as a complex concept. It is simple because it means bringing together different parts so that once they are joined together, they will not topple. This concept becomes complex when it means harmony, togetherness, fitting into each other diverse parts and much more.
Let's look at it in a simple way first. When yoga uses the term balance, it means the fitting together of diverse parts.

For yoga, a human being is a complex creature. It is made up of three parts of the body, heart, and mind. All of these make up one's day to day ordinary self. But there is also another aspect of a human being, which is one's silent self. This silent self is called variously as one's essence, one's soul, one's mind or one's spirit. The three parts of the body, heart and mind make up the psycho-physical aspect or ordinary self of a human being. However, the silent self is the spirit or conscience part of a human being.

The goal of yoga is to bring harmony in the person by offering physical exercises (asanas) to form good habits of the body, breathing exercises (pranayama) to form good habits of the heart and meditation exercises (dhyana) to form good habits of the mind. Once these superior habits of the body, heart and mind are formed, the entire person will be able to achieve a sense of balance. This harmony in the diverse parts of a human being creates a perfect balance in the physical and psychological organism. In the yogic terminology, this perfection in the psychophysical self makes the body and the mind a perfect mirror to express the silent self, which is our conscience or spiritual self.

However, there is a big difference between expressing the ordinary or psycho-physical or talkative self, which is conditioned by the social norms and the silent self that is full of joy, happiness and contentment. The ordinary-talkative self is the stressed-out one, which is full worries and anxieties and is often confused, whereas the silent self is happy and joyful. It experiences the delight of the very fact of existing. In contrast to the ordinary-talkative stressed out self,  the silent self is content. The ordinary self represents imbalance whereas the silent self is the embodiment of balance. According to Yoga, a person who is balanced is together, is healed, is whole and thus is holy.

Exercise for this month:
Caution: This exercise is offered as a suggestion. If done correctly on a regular basis and for a long time, it might help.
Sit in the easy posture. Put your thumbs on the index fingers and place your hands on the knees. Close both of your eyes. Breathe in and out. Observe the flow of your breathing. It will feel good. As you breathe in, think about the sound SO. When you breathe out, think about the sound HUM. While you are breathing in SO and breathing out HUM become aware of the sounds around you. Notice these sounds but do not linger on them. Go back to breathing in SO and breathing out HUM. Continue with breathing in SO and breathing out HUM for a few minutes and then stop. Take a break for one minute. Then continue with breathing in SO and breathing out HUM for two more minutes. It will feel very good.
Start your day by doing this exercise every morning and end your day by doing this exercise every evening for five-six minutes. Power up the engine of your life with this simple exercise each day!

Yoga Life Column by Ashok Malhotra

Yoga Life Column (August 2014)

Students of yoga are usually curious about how to define or grasp the concept of health. In the West, the notion of health is intertwined with our emphasis on running, jogging and spending time on the tread mill. The goal is to bring the heart rate up by speeding the blood flow to different parts of the body so that they will be cleansed. However, the yoga system does not emphasize running or jogging or going on the jogging belt. Instead it offers very simple stretch exercises as a way to sound health.
The Western view lays stress on running and jogging. This points in the direction of vigorous exercise so that the heart keeps going. Whereas the yoga system emphasizes the slowing down of the entire process so that the inner changes in the body or the entire organism take place.
The two outlooks are based on similar concepts of health but offer different ways to refurbish it. Both in the West as well as in Yoga, the goal is to restore to the human being perfect health so that one could live a long life of contentment and joy.

However, there is a difference. The Western view is based on the idea that a human being is a unique entity that is set apart from the world. Its job is to understand the laws of the universe in order to control and lord over the external world. Using this model, the Western emphasis on running, jogging and walking on the treadmill to speed up the heart rate is understandable. By controlling one's metabolism, one controls one's body and health.

Whereas the idea behind the yoga system is that we are organically connected to this earth as well as to the entire universe. Thus we need to work with the external world by getting recharged with its energy to improve ourselves and others in harmony with nature. In contrast to the Western view, Yoga's emphasis is on the eco-logical balance rather than control of nature.
Yoga follows the view of health as understood by the ancient Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine. It believes in three doshas or humors that control our health and well-being. These three doshas are a combination of air and water; water and fire and a congealed form of air, water and fire. If there is an imbalance between and among any of the three doshas, it leads to disease and ill-health.
The goal of physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation exercises (dhyana) is to correct any imbalance among these three doshas so that a person stays healthy and strong and enjoys a long life of contentment and joy.

Note: We might devote some of the future columns on how to achieve physical balance through moderation in eating foods, emotional balance through breathing exercises and mental balance through the meditation exercises.

Exercise for this month:
Caution: This exercise is offered as a suggestion. If done correctly on a regular basis and for a long time, it might help.
Meditation on Sound and Silence: Sit in the easy posture. Keep your back, neck and head straight up. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out. Become aware of the sounds around you. Pay attention to the sounds followed by silence, followed by sounds, followed by silence and so on. Keep your mind on the rhythm of sound, silence, sound, silence and so on. After doing this for two minutes, go back to normal breathing.
When you are trying out this meditation exercise the first time, practice it for two minutes. Go back to your normal breathing for two minutes. During the first week, practice it for a total of ten minutes at each sitting with a break for 1-2 minutes of regular breathing. You can also do this meditation exercise while you lie down on your back or sitting in a chair. This exercise comes in handy when you are taking a long flight.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Will Pakistan Become a Failed State or Change Its Direction?

Will Pakistan Become a Failed State or Change Its Direction?
Laina Farhat-Holzman
August 9, 2014

Did the US go to war with the wrong countries when we took on Iraq and Afghanistan? Perhaps we should have gone after our “good allies” Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, who were really responsible for 9/11. This is, of course, wishful thinking considering the many ways that we need relations with these two countries, so we hold our noses and deal with them as “frenemies,” not friends.

Pakistan grows more troubling by the day, with the Islamists increasingly violent and the secular society under constant threat. The Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) has long used Islamists to carry out their agendas in Afghanistan (they created the Taliban) and against India (terror attacks such as the horrific one in Mumbai a few years ago).

It is important to understand why the ISI does this. Their notion of protecting Pakistan is based on a long-standing fear of India, their much larger and ultimately more powerful neighbor. Both countries have developed nuclear capability: Pakistan, out of unreasonable fear of India, and India out of reasonable fear that the Pakistanis are crazy enough to consider using such a weapon. Both countries have spent money on developing nukes to intimidate each other while failing to spend the money educating their young and cleaning up their air, water, and crumbling infrastructure. The paranoid Pakistanis don't realize that India is afraid of China, also a nuclear power, more than they fear Pakistan.

Pakistan began in 1947 as a secular breakaway state where Muslims would be safe. India, also in 1947, became a secular state where all its multi-ethnic, multi-religious population could enjoy the freedoms of the modern world. India's long romance with the Soviet Union hampered its development, but when the Cold War ended and India came out of its fog, it began the long-delayed process of joining the modern secular world. They still have far to go, but they are on the right path.

Pakistan, however, is in a downward trajectory, ever since one military dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, found it politically expedient to promote a most backward form of Islam. During his reign, Sharia law replaced much secular law, with consequences such as the growing floods of “honor killings,” blasphemy executions, and assassinations of journalists, academics, or politicians whose views Islamists didn't like. They also have the honor of being the last repository of polio; cynical  clerics claim that polio vacine is a western plot to make their children sterile.

Their latest horror is the public stoning of a pregnant woman who married a man her family did not like. They beat her right outside the courthouse and then finished her off, stoning her to death with bricks. Her murderous father justified this as an honor killing of a disobedient woman, and said he had no regret. He thinks his religion justifies this. What an embarrassment to Pakistan!

Pakistani immigrants to the British Isles have taken their terrible values with them with dire consequences. The British only now realize that their indulgent immigration policies threaten their very survival as a modern state. Canada has also suffered from Pakistani immigration, as have many European states. In addition, the danger does not come from Pakistan alone, but from a global Islamist movement that lures the young. Every modern state is in danger.

But there is a glimmer of hope. India has just elected a new Prime Minister (Narenda Modi), someone with backbone, who invited the Pakistan's PM, Nawaz Sharif, to attend his inauguration. If these two can develop a relationship, much could change.

When India no longer threatens them, there is no need for the ISI to support Islamists. By stopping anti-India propaganda, these two nations could benefit each other. Secular Pakistanis love India's movies, foods, and TV. If India no longer had to fear Pakistan, India's own Muslim population would just be Indians, not perceived as potential agents of Pakistani terror.

Even Afghanistan might be able to get out from under when Pakistan no longer poisons its survival. This could be a win/win for everybody (other than Islamists). Are Pakistan and India smart enough to do this?

679 words

Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

44th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations

Can Collective Wisdom Save Civilization?

June 11-14, 2014

Conference Chair: Mary Tepfenhart, Monmouth University
Program Chair: David J. Rosner, Metropolitan College of New York

Concurrent Sessions held with Biocosmological Association
Kwon Jong Yoo, President
Konstantin Khroutski, Secretary

All A Sessions in room 104.
All B Session in room 106.
All C Sessions in Room 309.
All D Sessions in Room 310.
All E sessions in Room 311.

Wednesday, June 11

7:00 pm 

Welcoming reception
Wilson Hall

Thursday, June 12

8:30 am
Wilson Auditorium
Introductions from Monmouth University
Welcome and Introduction, David J. Rosner, President, ISCSC

9:00 to 10:15 

Session A: Human Nature I

David J. Rosner (Metropolitan College of New York), “Human Nature and Collective Wisdom in an Age of Crisis”
Thomas Kiefer (Fordham University), “Revitalizing Ancient Wisdom: Human Nature in Ancient Greek, Indian and Chinese Philosophy”
Leland Beaumont (Independent Scholar), “Pursuing Collective Wisdom, Tackling the Grand Challenges”

Chair: Andrew Targowski

Session B: Collective Wisdom and Civilizational Futures

Yuan Xu (Tsinghua University, China), “Ecological Well-Being – The Solution of the Conflict between Wealth and Faith”
Lynn Rhodes (Independent Scholar), “Verge of Collapse: Survival of Civilization in the Anthropocene “
Chair: Laina Farhat-Holzman

Session C: Islamic Civilization

Hisanori Kato, (Batsuryo College of Osaka),”Capitalist Muslims: Islam as a Facilitator of Economic Activities”
Tseggai Isaac (Missouri University of Science & Technology) reviewing Hichem Djait “Islamic culture in Crisis” and Klaus Schippmann, “Ancient South Arabia”
Chair:  Tseggai Isaac

Coffee Break 10:15-10-45


Session A:  Wisdom: Theory and Practice

Andrew Targowski (Western Michigan University), “From Limited to Wise Civilization”
Xiaoting Liu (Beijing Normal University), “Polymerization of Civilization and its Norms”
Bill McGaughey (ISCSC), “Albert Schweitzer’s ‘Philosophy of Civilization’ in the Context of Big History”

Chair: Bill McGaughey

Session B: Psychological Approaches to Civilizational Studies

Yas Yoshiyashi, (University of Kitakyushu, Japan)“Overcoming Self-Centeredness of the Modern Ego: Saul Bellow and Abe Kobo”
Tianmin Wang (Beijing Normal University), “National Suffering and Redemption of the Cultural Horizon”
Marek Celinski (Psychologist in Private Practice),”The Trauma of Time and the Evolution of Civilization”
Peter Hecht (Independent Scholar, Educational Theorist), “Collective Wisdom -Free Will and Determinism examined using the work of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Karen Horney”

Chair: Marek Celinski

Session C:  The Nature of Civilization: Theoretical Issues I:
The Phenomenon of Civilization and its Scientific Foundations

Vladimir Alalykin-Izvekov and Stephen Satkiewicz (ISCSC), “Theory of Civilizational Evolution: Three Legacy Case Studies” and “The Phenomenon of Revolution in the Context of Civilizational Evolution”.
Vladimir Alalykin-Izvekov reviewing Darren O’Byrne and Alexander Hensby, “Theorizing Global Studies” and John Armstrong, “In Search of Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea”

Chair and Discussant: David Wilkinson

Session D: Biocosmological Association (1)
General Issues, Biocosmology, Neo-Aristotelianism, Triadology and the Contemporary Civilizational Studies I

Welcome Address: Kwon Jong Yoo, (Chung-Ang University, S. Korea) President, BCA
Congratulatory Address: David Rosner (Metropolitan College of New York), ISCSC President
Kwon Jong Yoo, (Chung Ang University, Korea) “Contemporary Issues of Neo Confucianism and Civilizational Studies: Biocosmological Aspects”
Konstantin Khroutski (Novgorod State University, Russia), “Rehabilitating Pitirim Sorokin’s grand Triadologic concept: A Biocosmological approach. ”

Chair: Xiaoting Liu

Session E: Collective Wisdom and Economic Inequality

Anthony Rodger (Independent Scholar), “Filling Needs, Fulfilling People: The Potential of Grassroots Innovation and Networking as an Alternative Socio-Economic Wisdom”
Ralph Leal (Metropolitan College of New York), “Can Collective Wisdom Alleviate Economic Inequality?”
Chair: Ralph Leal

 Lunch: 12 – 1: 15

1:30 – 3:00

Session A: Utopia and Dystopia I

Laina Farhat-Holzman (ISCSC), “The Great Literary Utopias Have a Nightmarish History”
Toby E. Huff (Harvard University) “Can Civilization Save Us?”
Brad Hume (Xavier University), “Wisdom, Power, Futurism, Utopia”

Chair: Laina Farhat-Holzman

Session B: Book Review Session

Ross Maxwell (Institute for Historical Study) reviewing Peter J. Taylor, Extraordinary Cities”
Lynn Rhodes reviewing Brian Fagan, “Floods, Famines and Emperors”
Connie Lamb reviewing Leibovitz & Miller, “Fortunate Sons”
Chair: Lynn Rhodes

Session C: Globalization and Civilization

Chidozie Ezeozue (Anambra State University, Nigeria), “Nigerian and Ocean Politics: Nigerian Contributions to the International Law of the Sea”
Hemerwanta Rwantabagu (University of Burundi), “Globalization and the Fate of Traditional Institutions: The Case of the ‘Bashingantahe’ Order in Burundi”

Chair: George von der Muhll

Session D:  Biocosmological Association (2)  General issues:  Biocosmology, Neo-Aristotelism , Triadology and the Contemporary civilizational Studies II

Xiaoting Liu (Beijing Normal University), “The Neo-Aristotelianism and Contemporary Culture”
Paul Beaulieau, (University of Quebec), “The Core Binding Cosmological Universal Force in Societal and Civilizational Organisms: A Comparative Analysis of Pitirim A. Sorokin’s Triadology and Rudolf Steiner’s Threefoldness Perspectives”
Milan Tasic (Serbia, University of Niš, Serbia):
“On the knowledge Ability of the World: From intuition to Turing Machines and Topos Theory”
Chair: Kwon Jong Yoo

Session E:  Utopia and Dystopia II
Bill Tepfenhart (Monmouth University), “Brave New World”
David Eisenberg (Columbia University), “The Utopian Animal”
AndrewTargowski reviewing Niccolo Caldararo, “The Anthropology of the Credit Crisis: Magical thinking, Irrationality and the Role of Inequality”
Chair: Marek Celinski

Coffee Break 3:00 – 3:30


Session A:  Justice and Civilizational Studies

Niccolo Caldararo (San Francisco State University), “Human Sacrifice, Capital Punishment, Prisons and Justice”
Zhou Ling (Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, China) and Harry Rhodes (Independent Scholar), “Criminal Justice Models and their Influence on Civilization: A Comparison of East and West” (Paper will be read by Lynn Rhodes)
Eric Hansen (Independent Scholar), “ A Model of Justice and Mercy and its Application to the Study of Civilizations”
Chair: Randall Groves

Session B:  Changing the World

John Grayzel (University of Maryland), Video, “Inspiring Success” followed by presentation, “Can a Group of the Wise Really Change the World?”

Session C: Paths to Civilizational Development

Adan Stevens-Diaz (Temple University)
Martin Droll, Independent Scholar
Yarehk Hernandez (Temple University)

Chair: Anthony Stevens-Arroyo

Session D: Biocosmological Association (3) Neo-Aristotelian (Organicist) Issues of Contemporary Social and Cultural Development

Nargis Nurulla-Khodzaeva (Technical University of Tajikistan), “Community as a Sociocultural Anti-Structure in Central Asia – in the Light of Neo-Aristotelianism”
Koji Tachibana (Kumamoto University, Japan), “The Interdisciplinary Analysis of Aristotelian Wisdom in Ethics, Politics and Natural Sciences”
Xiahua Zhang (China University of Political Science and Law), “A Comparative Study on Organism between Marx and Whitehead”

Chair Konstantin Khroutski

Excursion to Boardwalk/Seaside/Dinner (time and place to meet TBA)

Friday, June 13

Coffee 8:30 – 9 :00 am


Session A: Human Nature II

K. Sieben (Brookdale Community College), “The Question of Human Nature”
L Farhat-Holzman reviewing John Keegan, “The First World War”
Michael Andregg (University of St. Thomas), “A Comparative Analysis of Evil”
David Rosner reviewing Andrew Targowski, “Harnessing the Power of Wisdom”

Chair: David Rosner

Session B: Book Review Session: Ancient Civilizations and Ancient Wisdom

John Grayzell (University of Maryland) reviewing Daniel Richter, “Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts”
George von der Muhll (University of California) reviewing Kenneth R. Stunkel, “Ideas and Art in Ancient Civilizations”
Adan Stevens (Temple University) reviewing William Dunstan, “Ancient Rome”

Chair:  Adan Stevens

Session C: Ethnic and Religious Conflict

Tseggai Isaac (Missouri University of Science & Technology), “Empress Helen of Ethiopia: Bastion of her People, Defender of the Faith”
Joseph Drew (DeVry University & University of Maryland, University College) reviewing Jean Haussmann, “In Search of the Origin of the Nazi Monstrosity”
Anna Makolkin (University of Toronto), “Oscillations between Barbarism and Civilization”
Mary Tepfenhart (Monmouth University) reviewing Tatu Vanhanen, “Ethnic Conflicts”

Chair: Joseph Drew

Session D: Biocosmological Association (4) Biocosmological (Neo-Aristotelian) Approaches to Tackling the Contemporary Civilizational Issues I

Tatiana Bystrova (Ural Federal University, Russia), “Integrity as a Criterion of Civilization”
Ming Wong (BCA), “Biocosmology and its Six Presentations”
Vitaliy Sholokhov (Metropolitan State University of Denver, CO), “Studying Pitirim Sorokin’s Position on Normative Ethics in Science:BioCosmological Approach”

Chair:  Milan Tasic

Coffee Break 10:15-10:45

10:45- 12:00

Session A:  Nationalism, Imperialism, History

Anthony Stevens-Arroyo (Brooklyn College, CUNY),”Austria 1914: Nationalisms in a Multi-National Nation-State”
David Wilkinson (UCLA), “Capitalist Imperialism in Transhistorical and Transcultural Perspective: 13th-16th Century Venice, Genoa and the Hanse”
Chair: David Wilkinson

Session B: East & West
Ashok Malhotra (SUNY Oneonta), “The Exciting Story of the Transcreation of the Tao Te Ching for the Warner Brothers TV Series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and Paintings as Experiential Meditation”
Juri Abe (Rikkyo University, Japan), “East Meet West II”,
George von der Muhll reviewing Susan Naquin, “Peking” and Kate Teltscher, “The High Road to China”

Chair: Ashok Malhotra

Session C: Development of Civilizations II
Ruan Wei (Shenzhen University, China), “The Spatial Growth of Civilizations”
Norman Rothman (University of Maryland, University College), “Modernization and Tradition among the Pacific Peoples”

Chair:  Norman Rothman

Session D: Biocosmological Association (5) Biocosmological (Neo-Aristotelian) Approaches to Tackling the Contemporary Civilizational Issues II

Du Jiang (Beijing Normal University), “The Artificial Factor and Natural Link in Spiritual Practice: Seeing from Techne”
Stephen Modell (University of Michigan), “The Meaning of Aristotelian Causation for Molecular Era Medicine and Public Health”
Ho Young Lee (Chung Ang University, Korea),”Biocosmological Philosophy of Dai Zen”
Chair: Nargis Nurulla-Khodzaeva

Lunch 12-1:30 pm (and Outgoing Board meeting)

1:30–3:00 pm

Session A: Civilizational Theory and Collective Wisdom

Paul Beaulieu (University of Quebec, Montreal), “A Process Perspective on Civilizational Wisdom Evolution”
Diana Prokofyeva (Bashkir State University, Russia), “The Dialectic of Estrangement and Engagement: Social-Philosophic Aspects".
C. Boeneke (Monmouth University), “Collective Wisdom and the American Political System”
Chair: Paul Beaulieu

Session B: The Nature of Civilization: Theoretical Issues II

Guy Kananen (Independent Scholar), “Real Hope from a Newly Homologized Comparative Model”
J. Randall Groves (Ferris State University), “Mind, Meme and Myth: A Theory of the Origins of Human Mentality and its Implications for the Study of Civilizations”
David Sallach (University of Chicago), “Sorokin Cycles and Axial Transformations: The Road Forward”

Chair: J. Randall Groves

Session C: Chinese Civilization

Pierre Dimaculangan (DeVry University, 2014 Student Award Prize Winner), “The Needham Question and the Great Divergence: Why China Fell Behind the West and Lost the Race in Ushering the World into the Industrial Revolution and Modernity”
Pedro Geiger (State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), “Will the 21st Century be a Chinese Century?”

Chair: Tseggai Isaac

Session D: BCA (6) Biocosmological (Neo-Aristotelian) Approaches to Tackling the Contemporary Civilizational Issues III

Hong Gyu Ha (Yonsei University, Korea), “Erving Goffman and Ethics after Foundationalism: Implications for Confucian Ethics”
Sergey Grinchenko, (Institute of Informatics, Russian Academy of Sciences), “Civilizational Progress with Cybernetic Positions”
Chuanggen Huang (Beijing Normal University), “A Research on Aristotelian ‘Phronesis’ and its Contemporary Value”

Chair: Koji Tachibana

Coffee Break: 3:00-3:30


Session A: Panel Discussion: “What Unique Insights Arise out of Civilizational Studies?

Andrew Targowski, George von der Muhll, Ross Maxwell,

Chair: Ross Maxwell

Session B: Book Review session

Mary Tepfenhart (Monmouth University) reviewing: Richard Miles, “Carthage Must be Destroyed”
Laina Farhat-Holzman (ISCSC) reviewing Bernard Lewis, “The End of Modern History in the Middle East”
Laina Farhat-Holtzman reviewing Paul Kindstedt, “Cheese and Culture.”
John Grayzel reviewing Laina Farhat Holzman “God’s Law and Man’s Law”
and Laina Farhat Holzman “Strange Birds from Zoroaster’s Nest”

Chair: John Grayzel
Cheese-Tasting to follow.

Session C:  Session D: Peaceful Civilizations

Alan Kramer (Independent Scholar), “Multi-Religious Civilizations in History: Comparative /Conceptual Approaches to Peace”
Adam Black (Monmouth University), “Tanzania – A Paradigm for Peaceful Resolution despite Internal Political and Social Diversity"

Chair: Michael Andregg

Session D: BCA (7) Biocosmological (Neo-Aristotelian) Approaches to Tackling the Contemporary Civilizational Issues IV

Henry Linder (BCA), “Hierarchical Cosmism: An Outline of the evolution of the Cosmos, its Hierarchical Levels of Complexity, and its Pathologies”
Anna Makolkin (University of Toronto),”The Deconstructed meaning of Civilization as an Aristotelelian Predicate”
Ashok Gangadean (Haverford College), TBA

Chair: Stephen Modell

Association Banquet 6:00 (Wilson Hall)

Saturday June 14


Session A: Ethnicity and Civilizational Studies

Judie Edlin (Brookdale Community College), “Jewish Plantation Owners and Slavery: A Paradox within Jewish History”
Yan Navarro (State University of Rio de Janiero), “The Study of the ‘Quilombos’ in the Geography Teaching in Brazil: an Educational Experience”

Chair: Judie Edlin

Session B: Technology: Problems and Prospects
Mary Tepfenhart & Aurora Ioanid (Monmouth University), “The Impact of Technology on Society”
Shaobing Li, (Beijing Normal University) “How to find Happiness in this Technological Era”
Cristina Onciu (Independent Scholar), “The Power of Mass Communication”

Chair:  Bill Tepfenhart

Session C: Book Review Session

Marek Celinski reviewing Iain McGilchrist, “The Master and His Emissary”
Ross Maxwell reviewing Michael C. Corballis “The Recursive Mind”
Chair: Andrew Targowski

Session D: Biocosmological Association General Discussion, Summary, Conclusions, Organizational Issues of the BCA and Future Prospects

Closing Session, Chairs: Kwong Jong Yoo and Konstantin Khroutski

Session E: Education, Wisdom and Social Justice

H. Jonas Javier (Monmouth University), “The Role of Higher Education in Narrowing the Economic Inequality Gap”
Connie Lamb (Brigham Young University), “The Role of Wisdom and Education in Human and Societal Flourishing”

Chair: Connie Lamb

10:30- 11:00 General Meeting and Election

11-12:00 New Board Meeting

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Global Civilization in the 21st Century

Authors: Andrew Targowski (Western Michigan University, MI, USA)

Please note that you, as well as any of your colleagues or your libraries with an interest in the field, are also entitled to a special 40% discount on all prepublication orders. If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please email Tricia Worthington at and enter Prepub40 in the subject line of the email. Multiple copy orders are welcome and we offer bulk order discounts as well. The offer for the book, its full price is $85.00 with 40% discount is $51.00.

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