Friday, December 18, 2015

A New eBook from Ashok!

I have just published an EBook on Yoga: Health Healing and the Star Wars Connection. Please check it out for yourself and make members of the ISCSC as well as your students and friends aware of the influence of Yoga and Indian Philosophy on George Lucas.

Below is the link.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The United States of Europe Is Obviously Premature

September 5, 2015

Europe is a geographic designation: the westernmost peninsula of the Eurasian continental landmass. For the past 7000 years, it has also been the home of a restless mass of human beings, always on the move, settling and moving on, replacing former residents and coming up with one invention after another, the most important of which, from today's discussion, came from ancient Greece: participatory government (Athens); Rome: written and progressively enlarging law; and England: that kings are not all-powerful (Magna Carta); and all of them: the religious, scientific, industrial, and political revolutions.

Restless, creative Europe (and its child, America) have given the world modern civilization: the good things being nation-states governed by their own people under rule of law; majority populations (middle class) wealthy and healthy beyond imagining; cities clean and vibrant with culture and convenience; and citizens living in safety and civility as in no cities before now. Europe's Scientific Revolution did much of this.

Now for the bad things. Europe's restlessness has also given the world endless warfare since the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century, culminating in two of the most frightening wars, the second of which, World War II, drew in the entire world and a third (the Cold War) almost destroyed the planet. The bad things frightened Europe's elites so much that they determined to do something radical: follow the example of the United States of America and create a United States of Europe, one in which war would be impossible.

The American example is not easy to replicate, however. Even with extraordinary founders, we had a common language and dominant religion, the good luck of geography, endless natural resources, non-threatening neighbors, and time to grow, we still had a horrific civil war over the divisive issue of slavery and still have some political alienation dogging our unity. We are only fully united when at war or during crisis. We still have to remind ourselves that we are one nation.

But Europe was very delusional to imagine that it could be a United States of Europe! There is no common language and nationalism is not dead. Watch World Cup games to see how fast national identity resurges!

Talk to the ordinary Europeans to learn how they detest rules issues from Brussels. Talk to Northern Europeans to learn how they hate the leisure life style in Southern Europe they are taxed for.  These are taxes without representation. Europe really is not one entity---until it is under attack.

And we forget that there are four Europes: Western, Southern, Northern, and Eastern.

But there is nothing like real threats to unite people who are quarreling or have been asleep. The US umbrella let them live the good life for 70 years, but now comes the storm. The Russian wolf is not dead! The New Russia is eating at Eastern Europe and extorting the rest of Europe with threats of cutting off their gas in winter. Russia is prowling the once pacified Scandinavia and even the Swedes are alarmed. They had better be united and revive their defense budgets and industries. NATO is needed and the US will help those who help themselves.

The flood of Muslim refugees, once regarded as cheap labor or welfare fodder are now seen as security threats, militant fifth columns in their midst, creating adolescent jihadis. They are no longer seen as easily assimilated. They are a huge and growing problem. Europe depends more and more on INTERPOL for protection.

The United States of Europe, the EU, was premature in concept. Their really is no single governing body in Brussels is acceptable to all Europeans. However, there is no reason why there should not be many agencies throughout the sovereign European states that can work together. NATO is one of them. The banking organizations established by the Dumbarton Oaks conference at the end of World War II (World Bank, IMF, etc) still work well. The point is that there is a modern Europe and it is is under attack. Their enemies are identifiable and they are our enemies too.

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, by George Friedman, Doubleday, 2015.

Book Review by:
Laina Farhat-Holzman

I read George Friedman's intelligence reports almost every day, and reviewed one of his books: The Next Hundred Years, several years ago. Friedman is chairman and founder of Stratfor (Strategic Forecasts), a leading private intelligence company. I think he, and several of his collages (including Robert D. Kaplan) are the best analysts of international geopolitics. Few other analysts regard geography as a major player in world affairs, an oversight that makes so many get it wrong.

For the past few years, his reports have focused on the world's borderlands, those faultlines where countries or ethnicities meet with latent hostility. His latest book, Flashpoints, explores Europe's past and present (and potential future) with an eye to the borderlands which can become flashpoints for conflict.

The only other scholar mentioning this issue was Samuel P. Huntington, with his much discussed Clash of Civilizations. Huntington noted that ever border shared with Muslim countries is, and has always been bloody. This observation has proven itself many times over in the past decades.

Europe has given much to the world in the past 500 years: the scientific revolution, religious reformations, political liberalism with participatory governance, and nationalism: the creation of nation states ideally governed by their own people in democracy. The modern world with its peaceful civil life, rule of law, and amenities available for all that were once the exclusive luxury of the ruling elites. We are only talking about Western Europe here, along with its British offspring, the United States.

But there is another side to Europe: a region of catastrophic conflicts along its many geographic and political flashpoints. The  “Enlightenment” on the 18th century has been much admired by the educated among us because it largely discarded religion as a governing institution, replacing it with “reason.” Friedman explores the underbelly of the Enlightenment, in which some of its prized institutions gave rise to unanticipated and ugly consequences.

Nationalism can be a benign institution when it only means that a country's people love their country and its culture. However, when love of country morphs into hatred of other countries, nationalism becomes an excuse for violence. Europe's two world wars exemplify this.

Reason, replacing religion, can morph into ideologies that demand as much fanaticism as that of the true believers of religion. Furthermore, the decline of religion in Europe has left the young with a nihilism that discards both national identity and cultural identity; it becomes an “anything goes” culture that is ill equipped to defend itself against such fanatical ideologies as neo-Nazism and Militant Islam.

With this book, Friedman provides us with the definitive analysis of today's Europe, exploring Europe's geography, political life, and history. The geography alone dictates regional and country borders. His important contribution is the interaction of geography, history, and politics.

In his preface, he reminds us that
     “Between 1914 and 1945 roughly 100 million Europeans died from political causes: war, genocide, purges, planned starvation, and all the rest. It was particularly striking in Europe, which had, over the course of the previous four hundred years, collectively conquered most of the world   and reshaped the way humanity thought of itself.”

How could this happen in a place that in 1913 represented the highest level of civilization, rich in culture, with a population similarly educated, with rulers related by blood (offspring of Queen Victoria) and institutions such as the military trained with the same standards and values?

Friedman shows that Europe's descent into hell in the 31 years between 1914 and 1945 was not a fluke. It was the natural outcome of the emergence of the negative sides of all the institutions it most valued---and the fact that geography matters.

Europe's unification is based on ideology and optimism, neither of these enough to overcome the geographic, cultural, and behavioral patterns of European history. Friedman explores the issues, and this book makes for fascinating reading.


August 22, 2015
Laina Farhat-Holzman

Tevye, the father living in revolutionary times of rapid change, struggled with what to do about traditions in the much loved musical, Fiddler on the Roof. This Russian-Jewish story, later a Broadway play and then a movie, played to audiences of many other cultures around the world who understood the issues very well. The 20th century was beset with traditions biting the dust. Children were in rebellion everywhere and parents did not know what to do about it.

My own view of “tradition” is sourly expressed in my web site: “Tradition? The only good traditions are food traditions. The rest are repressive.” Indeed, history will bear me out. Most traditions around the world have to do with what woman may not do---or what must be done to them to keep them “under control.”

In an attempt to be unbiased, 20th century anthropologists have reversed what seemed to be cultural jingoism of their predecessors in criticizing the practices of the world's non-western societies. Western explorers and colonial conquerors were horrified by some of the practices they found: bound feet in China, the harems in the Muslim world, widows compelled to sacrifice themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres in India, forced child marriages everywhere, and widespread child slavery.

Fashions in scholarship change. By mid-20th century, Anthropology had swung the other way and tried to find reasons for native practices rather than judging them through our own biases. Political fashions entered too, and the new fog of political correctness blew in with Edward Said, who managed to bully a generation of Islamic scholars into fear of saying anything negative about Muslim culture.

The world has recently had an opportunity to see what kind of “traditions” the culture of Islam has resurrected from the past. Even Edward Said, were he still alive, could not paint them in rosy colors. Islamists resolutely target women, who, to avoid beating or worse, must be invisible, covered from head to toe in black, and hidden from the public arena. When monsters such as ISIS take territory, they resurrect such “traditions” as female slave markets, religiously-sanctified rape of girls as young as nine (citing the “tradition” of the Hadith), and decapitation by the sword and amputation of limbs for theft. Tradition!

And then there is African tradition. One infamous Africa scholar claimed that democracy should not be their model. The “great chief” model was a fine “tradition” that had always worked in Africa. How well it worked has been seen in a parade of villainous, thieving, dictatorships-for-life. Another scholar I heard at a conference lamented the demise of traditional village languages and scorned the popularity of English and French as languages of the colonialists. I asked him how tradition languages would allow people to talk to each other?  He had no answer.

President Obama took on the “tradition” issue in his July visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, which set everybody back on their heels! He bluntly told his hosts (I am paraphrasing) that just because certain practices have been done for centuries does not make them right! It is not right, he said, to abuse half your population just because they are female. It is not right to marry off underage girls, to deprive them of education and afflict them with genital mutilation.  This does nothing but keep your country from its full potential. It is not right to persecute people because of whom they love. (This is a very hot-button issue in Africa. Homosexuality can bring death sentences in many places, and at a minimum, is illegal everywhere. It was very bold of President Obama to even mention it in public.)

He went on to discuss another most pervasive issue. “Corruption is an old tradition, but it does not have to be permanent. I come from Chicago, which also had a tradition of corruption. It can be challenged and changed. You can change it too.” He also discussed democratic elections, and the reluctance of some leaders to step down from power. Presidents for life, he noted, are not compatible with democracy.”

Bravo, Mr. President!

Tradition?  Bah, humbug!

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, August 17, 2015

Civilization As Seen By Dr. Perumpanani

Civilization As Seen By Dr. Perumpanani
Benjamin L. Landis

In the Spring 2013 issue of the Comparative Civilizations Review Dr. Abbey Perumpanani proposed a definition of the term and concept of civilization “…as an inclusive scientific definition that can bring about a convergence in the widely differing historical views on civilization”.  He proposed the following definition:  “A civilization is a dynamical system that supports endogenous cultural development through economic activity aggregated across elements of its data.”

Dr. Perumpanani’s definition contains, unfortunately, four fatal flaws.

The first to consider is his use of the term “dynamical”.  It is apparent that he uses this term to differentiate civilizations from pre-civilizations.  How does Dr. Perumpanani define “dynamic”? He does not give us his definition.  The truth is that pre-civilized societies were often dynamic.  We need only consider the evolution of the human species.  It exudes dynamism.  The domestication of cattle, goats, pigs, and sheep about 10,000-13,000 B.C.  The creation and development of agriculture as the way of life for the majority of humankind about 11,000-9,000 B.C.  These acts of human ingenuity enabled humankind to continue to progress.  The horse was domesticated around 4,000 B.C.  The spear was invented.  As well as the bow and arrow.  The plow.  The hoe.  Crop irrigation.  The development of new societal organizations as a result of the sedentary life imposed by agriculture.  The development of new structures for living space, for storage space, for controlling and guarding livestock.  The wheel was invented about 6500-4500 B.C. and the wheeled vehicle about 4500-3300 B.C.

Dynamism may be in the eye of the beholder.  It is difficult to measure with regard to human activity, although it is relatively simple to quantify and measure in the physical sciences.  Dr. Perumpanani cannot reasonably use it to separate pre-civilization humankind from civilization humankind unless he can devise means to define, categorize, and measure levels of human dynamism.

Dr. Perumpanani’s use of the term “dynamical” to describe an essential element of civilization fails another test also.  As demonstrated by Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee, civilizations have a life-cycle from genesis through growth or development to disintegration and termination.  When a civilization ceases to develop, it passes into a static condition.  In other words, its dynamism descends to zero.  The most striking example of this phenomenon is the history of Egyptian Civilization.  It ceased growing at about the end of the Old Kingdom circa 2300 B.C., but continued as a living fossil until it was conquered by Islamic armies representing the Syriac Civilization in 642 A.D.  For almost 3,000 years the Egyptian Civilization was dynamically nil, preserving and repeating what its creators had developed up until about 2300 B.C.  Unless one considers war, territorial conquest, and social rift as a sign of dynamism.  If not, what does one call a non-dynamic civilization? Per Dr. Perumpanani, without dynamism it can no longer be called a civilization.  He needs to clarify this issue, if he expects his definition to be taken seriously.  The Egyptian Civilization is only the most striking example.  The same phenomenon occurred in all extinct civilizations, with the exceptions of the Andean (Inca) Civilization and the Mexic (Aztec) Civilization which were prematurely ended by Spanish conquistadores.  (It is regrettable that Dr. Perumpanani apparently has not read the work of Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee, which he describes as having a “somewhat indecent corpulence.”  Just because Toynbee’s “A Study of History” takes up eleven volumes (plus a gazetteer and glossary) does not mean that it is indecently overweight. A gigantic subject, i.e., human history, cannot be adequately portrayed, studied, and analyzed in a couple of volumes.  I feel that Dr. Perumpanani was simply not up to the task of reading “A Study Of History”.  If he had, he certainly would have a far greater understanding of the phenomenon of civilization than what he may have gleaned from his mathematics and medical texts.)

The second fatal flaw is the use of the adjective “endogenous” to qualify “cultural development” in his definition.  “Endogenous” means “proceeding from within; derived internally”.  This is an inaccurate description of the cultural development of civilizations.  Except probably, but not definitively, for the primary civilizations, i.e., those deriving directly from primitive societies (Egyptiac, Andean, Mayan, Sumeric, Indus Culture, Minoan, Shang Culture) (I use A.J. Toynbee’s terminology), all subsequent civilizations developed culturally with imports from preceding civilizations, from primitive societies, or from contemporaneous civilizations.  As an example, let us look at our Western Civilization.  Our culture is primarily derived from Greek, Roman, and Christian inputs.  Our culture was not created in a vacuum.  It was not created in isolation.  To state that our culture was endogenously developed is so inaccurate as to border on a falsehood.  Once again, it demonstrates Dr. Perumpanani’s deep misunderstanding of the phenomenon of civilization.
Another striking and contemporary example of the porosity of civilizational cultural development is what is occurring in the world today and since about the end of the Second World War.  Our Western Civilization is westernizing the other still living civilizations (Russian Orthodox, Islamic, Hindu, Far Eastern).  They are slowly adopting, more or less willingly, the features of our civilization: Democracy, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, our Music, our Literature, our Sports, etc.  Eventually, but not in this century, as Dr. Targowski predicts, the world will be westernized, but at the same time, aspects of these other civilizations will seep into Western culture. Since the first civilizations there has not been endogenous cultural development in any civilization.
The third fatal flaw in Dr. Perumpanani’s definition occurs by correlating cultural development with economic activity, i.e., …”cultural development through economic activity…”  History has demonstrated that there is not a necessary correlation between “economic activity” and “cultural development”.  One striking example is the Seventeenth Century.  Economic activity was generally at a lower level than in the preceding century, yet scientific, educational, and artistic development flourished.  For example, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Milton, Monteverdi, van Dyck, Racine, Corneille, Stradivarius all lived and worked in the Seventeenth Century.  And they represent a very small sample of the intellectual ferment that characterized this economically disastrous century.  I encourage Dr. Perumpanani to read Geoffrey Parker’s “Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century”.  It’s only one volume, but lengthy. I also cite the Hellenic Civilization (Again I use Toynbee’s terminology.) during the early years of Rome’s mastery of the Mediterranean world when economic activity flourished, but cultural development was virtually nil, the Romans merely repeating what the Greeks had achieved. It is up to Dr. Perumpanani to substantiate his claim that cultural development and economic activity are correlated.
The fourth fatal flaw in his definition is the phrase “…cultural development through economic activity aggregated across elements of its data.”  As a previous commentator, Wallace Gray wrote in the Fall 2013 issue of Comparative Civilizations Review “…If he’ll try to explain to me in non-mathematical language what he means by the phrase… ‘economic activity aggregated across elements of its data.’ ” I do not know whether Dr. Perumpanani has responded to Mr. Wallace’s request.  But I go one step farther than Mr. Wallace and ask, “What data?”  Dr. Perumpanani’s entire definition, his entire concept of linking mathematics and history, is inevitably based on the data selected to determine whether a culture is a civilization or not.  Even more, his data must also be capable of determining at what point a civilization is in its life cycle: genesis, growth, culmination, stagnation, decline, and death.  Yet he gives us no hint as to, not only what the data should be, but also how many elements of data are needed.

The flaws I have described above render Dr. Perumpanani’s definition totally useless, stillborn.  There are many errors of knowledge and judgment in his exposition attempting to clarify and explain his definition, but since the definition itself is fatally flawed, there is no need to treat in detail the eleven pages of exposition that follow the proclamation of the definition..        
I do not agree with him when he writes that there is an “absence of a…consensus definition of the term civilization.”  If one were to ask a high school student for a definition of the term, what would that student do?  He or she would go to a dictionary.  Every dictionary contains a definition of “civilization”.  “A condition of human society marked by an advanced stage of development in the arts and sciences and by corresponding social, political, and cultural complexity”.  “An advanced state of human society in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached”  “État de développement politique, social, économique atteint par certaines sociétés et considéré comme une idéale à atteindre”.  [State of political, social, economic development attained by certain societies and considered an ideal to be reached] (Translation by the author)  Finally, I cite the definition found in The Oxford Universal Dictionary on Historical Principles: “2. The action or process of being civilized 3. (More usually) Civilized condition or state”.  I further cite this dictionary’s definition of the verb “civilize”: “To make CIVIL; to bring out of a state of barbarism; to instruct in the arts of life; to enlighten and refine”.  I find the Oxford Universal Dictionary’s definition to be quite inadequate and reeking of the Eighteenth Century.

The other definitions cited demonstrate that there exist quite usable definitions of the term “civilization” and that there is a striking similarity among them.  In my mind, I tend to condense them into the following succinct definition: The most advanced and most complex social, political, economic,  cultural, and military environment thus far achieved by humankind.
So, with a plethora of quite valid definitions of the term, why do academics and other scholars chase their tails to come up with another?  I believe that the answer resides in these persons attempting confusedly to mix a definition with the characteristics of “civilization”.  A definition categorizes.  Describing the characteristics or features of some object or concept is an entirely different exercise.  For example: in the Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language cited earlier, the definition of bronze is “any of various alloys consisting essentially of copper and tin, the tin content not exceeding eleven percent”.  The definition does not address the characteristics of bronze, copper, or tin or of their various combinations.  Doing so would be beyond the scope of definition, i.e., categorizing, and would probably require a whole page of text, if not more.

I have reread the thirty-one so-called definitions of civilization on the home page of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC).  Not a single one can be legitimately called a definition.  They are ruminations on the characteristics of civilizations.  The Society would be well advised to change the heading of these ruminations to something like “Thoughts on the Characteristics of Civilizations”.  I was also very much surprised to note that none of these academics and scholars made any reference to the archaeologist, anthropologist, and pre-historian V. Gordon Childe (1892-1957).  He is considered by some to have been the pre-eminent pre-historian and archaeologist of the Twentieth Century.  Childe proposed ten criteria to distinguish civilized cultures from pre-civilized cultures.  They are: (1) Large and thickly populated settlements (2) A variety of specialized occupations (3) The ability to produce and store food and other surplus goods (4) Large public buildings (5) A variety and ranking of social positions (6) Writing and a system of notation (7) The development of science (8) The development of a style of art (9) Trade over long distances (10) Social control based on a central government rather than kinship.

Childe’s criteria are far more reasonable, pertinent, and coherent than the ramblings of the persons cited by the ISCSC.  What can we say about them?  Are these criteria essential to distinguish a civilized culture from a pre-civilized culture?  Are there certain criteria named that are not essential?  Are there criteria that need to be added?  I believe that these questions would be a fruitful discussion on the ISCSC blog, far more relevant to the purpose of the Society than “Laina at the Movies”.  And could also lead to articles in the Comparative Civilizations Review (CCR) as well as in the newsletter.

Two points I wish to make before ending this “somewhat indecently lengthy” comment.  Civilizations do not spring fully grown and armed as did Minerva from the head of Jupiter.  The transition from the highest level of primitive culture to the state of a civilization takes place over an extended period of time, even centuries (Our own Western Civilization is an example.) and the various criteria cited by Childe do not develop at the same time, nor at the same rhythm.  In my opinion one of the last, if not the last, of the criteria to develop is that of writing.  The Andean (Inca) Civilization is an example.  When it was destroyed by Spanish conquistadores its written language was embryonic, knotted ropes which have been thought to be mnemonic.  However, recent studies are interpreting these knotted cords as an embryonic written language.  So, the Andean Civilization was still evolving when its life was prematurely terminated.

Now, my final comment.  I believe that it behooves the ISCSC to give up trying to create a definition of civilization that combines what is normally considered to be a definition and the fundamental characteristics of the concept of civilization.  It cannot be done successfully.  The Society needs to develop a consensus of those elements of a civilization that are essential to distinguishing it from the highest level of primitive culture.  The Society needs to encourage a more precise use of the term “civilization.”  At present, as well as in the past, academics and scholars in different disciplines have felt free to label almost any social group as a civilization.  This is an insult to the efforts and achievements that humankind has made since the first real civilizations.

I also believe that the Society should develop a consensus list of all past and present civilizations, such as Dr. Toynbee did for his monumental “A Study of History”.  As well as a list of those cultures that can logically be considered to be arrested and abortive civilizations (Again I use Toynbee’s terminology.)  Doing these will not only further the study and understanding of civilizations, which is the purpose of the Society, but will also (One can hope) take the Society out of going to the movies with Laina.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Middle East is Running out of Water

July 11, 2015
Laina Farhat-Holzman

California knows how serious it is to have a water shortage. But we are a modern state and know perfectly well what to do about it. For us, it is just a matter of spending money and having the will to do what is obvious: desalinate the ocean water immediately to our west.

But when the entire Middle East is running out of water, it is another thing altogether. This is a region with a minority of scientifically educated people and a majority of ignorant, religious villagers and recent urban displaced country people, not to mention those newly uprooted by the vicious wars riling the region. This flood of newcomers is putting even more pressure on the flagging water supply in the Arab world. Even Egypt's Nile cannot keep up with the demands on it. Hunger is stalking Egypt.

But the Middle East is not just the Arab World.  It is also Iran and Turkey, the two non-Arab Muslim countries that have always had the advantage of being in the highlands with watersheds, where lakes and river systems begin (Turkey with the Tigris and Euphrates) and snow-capped mountains and one great lake (Urmia in Iran).

The second and third-largest Muslim states, Pakistan and India, are also running out of water, thanks to over-irrigation from their once lavish deltas and aquifers and prodigal overpopulations.

And worst of all is miserable Yemen, which was once a breadbasket and garden with the world's largest earthen dam (5th century AD), but since that dam's collapse, the country has declined. It is now in collapse, running out of water so that even its capital must move to the coast. It has become an anarchy of rival tribes, and its behavior is so stupid that what water is left is irrigating qat, its drug of choice (like pot). Its favorite bride age (9) has produced a population explosion that uses up what water is left. The IQ declines with it. Dumb and dumber?

The following numbers are taken from a reliable well-sourced article by Daniel Pipes (  Iran's Lake Urmia has lost 95% of its water; Esfahan's river, the Zayanderud wend dry in 2010; over 2/3 of Iran's cities and towns are on the verge of a water crisis in drinking water shortages; already, thousands of villages depend on water tankers. Unprecedented dust storms disrupt economic activity and damage health.

Egypt: Rising sea levels threaten to submerge Alexandria and contaminate the Nile Delta Aquifer. Egypt is alarmed that Ethiopia plans to build massive dams on the Blue Nile that will threaten water to Egypt and Sudan.

Gaza:  In a hydrological nightmare, seawater is leaking into sewage, making 95% of the coaster aquifer unfit for human consumption. Yet Hamas continues to dig tunnels to send rockets into Israel.

Iraq: Euphrates River waters are half or what they were. Already in 2011, the Mosul Dam was shut down entirely due to insufficient flow. Seawater from the Persian Gulf has pushed up the Shatt al-Arab, resulting in briny water destroying fisheries, livestock, and crops. Date palms have diminished from 33 million to 9 million.

Pakistan:  may be a water-starved country by 2022.

Climate Change and Arab Spring: Prolonged drought led to food shortages and civil collapses in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Yemen.

The only country in the Middle East without a water shortage is Israel. As recently as the 1990s, they suffered water shortages too.  But thanks to a combination of conservation, recycling, innovative agricultural techniques, and high-tech desalination, the country is awash in H2O.  Israel's Water Authority claims they have all the water they need and are quite willing to sell surplus to such friendly neighbors as Jordan.  They have a new technology that can desalinate about 27 liters of water for one U.S. penny. It recycles about five times more water than does second-ranked Spain.

Obviously tradition doesn't work. Could desperation be the mother of some new ideas? Could Israel's neighbors bury the hatchet and consider a common market? The smart ones could consider cooperating on water programs. Egypt and Jordan could, for a start. That could be a beginning of something very fruitful.

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, June 22, 2015

Defunding Isreal but Blind to Islamophobia Ripoffs?

June 20, 2015
Laina Farhat-Holzman

Only in the free Western world can such asymmetrical nonsense take place. Israel, the one western country unfortunately located in the middle of the Muslim world is the focus of accusations of Islamophobia and targeted with boycotts of its industries and products. How ironic. Israel is the one country where Arab citizens can vote, have the highest standard of living, and have any kind of future. Yet young stupid liberals in Europe and the US vent their spleen on Israel and turn a blind eye to the horrors of Islam. These are the monkeys who see no evil.

And in the United States and Europe, where Muslims have managed to find refuge, Islam's well-healed (Saudi money) legal arm (CAIR) brings lawsuits and carps about how badly Muslims are treated. They even take a ridiculous lawsuit to the American Supreme Court and win (!), permitting a woman to wear her headscarf in an upscale department store despite the store's standards. What a triumph for Islam.

How reciprocal is the Muslim world's liberality today around the world? Here are a few items from just one day's news (June 10).

     o     Sikhs. There used to be a thriving community of 100,000 Sikhs (non-Muslim) living in Afghanistan in 1990. There are now 2,500, and they are being pushed out. They cannot reclaim the houses and businesses and houses of worship that were seized by the Taliban. The same is true for Afghan Hindus. All are leaving and returning to India, which will be Afghanistan's loss. Tolerance is not Islam's strong suit.

     o     Women. While CAIR worries about a head-scarfed woman, Nigeria has more serious problems. A child forced to marry at just 13, who then poisoned her 35-year-old-husband and three of his friends (forced confession), was freed from execution but kept in juvenile detention. Her family wants her back so that they can force her into another marriage (if they don't kill her first). This is, after all, Islamic law. She was a second wife. Good old polygamy and child brides are favored by Nigerian Muslims. Another 13-year-old was recently executed for the same trumped-up crime.

     o     Karnak, Egypt. Islam's famous hatred of pre-Islamic history is illustrated again in an attack on one of Egypt's most important tourist attractions, the Temple of Karnak in Luxor. Visited by millions every year, touists will hesitate to come, which is of course the reason for the Islamic militants' attack. It is not enough to just hate rival religions.

     o     Christians in Pakistan. Christians are not doing well anywhere in the Muslim world. We hear more about Christian women, forced to convert, or kidnapped and raped (as in Iraq or Egypt or with the African schoolgirls), but this time it was a young man who was convicted of murder as a 15-year-old, whose confession was obtained under torture, although prosecution witnesses had since recanted. He was executed anyway despite international protests. The Pakistani death penalty was supposed to be reinstated only for terrorists----but so what. A Christian doesn't have a chance in Pakistan.

     o     Turkish Judge's Strange Standard. First, there were the beatings in their home in Ankara, her husband's fist crashing hard against her body. Then came the beatings at the shelter, where she'd found refuge with their child, when the husband came to visit. The judge imposed a fine: 3,000 liras (about $1,000) against the man for physical abuse, and 3,000 more against the wife, for the injury to her husband's hand when he'd beaten her too hard. At first I thought this had to be a joke, but it was not. Is this from some obscure passage in Sharia law, because it certainly is not in Turkish secular law! Kamal Ataturk must be turning over in his grave!

     o     Gaza.     Where are all those demonstraters who want to defund Israel?  Hamas spent all reconstruction money on tunnels and missiles and doesn't give a hoot about Gaza's civilians. Who is the bad guy here?

Where are all those feminists who are blind, deaf, and dumb to what Muslims are doing to women? Are they shopping in Abercrombie for headscarfs?

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

Dispatch from the Field: Influence of China, Russia and the United States in Today’s Mongolia

Harry Rhodes
June 2015, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

In June of 2015 I attended the Building Resilience of Mongolia Rangelands conference in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  It was primarily a trans-disciplinary scientific research conference addressing current problems facing the Mongolian steppe, its nomadic herder population, wild and domestic animal management and welfare, a changing environment (global warming), drought, and the loss of traditional rangelands and water sources to foreign mining interests with attendant environmental pollution.  I participated as both an attendee as well as a presenter (for work done by my wife, Lynn Rhodes).

The conference was sponsored by Colorado State University with assistance and support from the U.S. Embassy and the American Center for Mongolian Studies and was also supported by many other international academic, scientific, and environmental organizations.  Scientists from a wide variety of countries attended the conference, including scientists from Mongolia, the People’s Republic of China, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Japan.

Mongolia is a country with a long and colorful history.  It is landlocked between two massive civilizational forces, Russia and China, and its history and culture have been significantly impacted by both of these neighboring cultures.

I had budgeted sufficient time both before and after the conference to see some of the country, and meet with local people.  I was surprised by some of the things I learned.  My interviews with Mongolians were frequently initiated by the Mongolians (I was obviously an American and my presence provided an opportunity for them to practice English with a native speaker).
My conversations with Mongolians included academics (primarily in the sciences), and young people residing in the capital city, but with both groups maintaining strong ties with nomadic relatives on the steppe.

The first thing apparent was a pride in the history of Mongolia and especially with its nomadic culture.  The second concern was about government corruption, especially corruption caused by the influx of foreign money, primarily related to Chinese mining interests and involvement in massive building projects in the capital city.  These operations were marked by the exclusion of Mongolian workers, with teams of Chinese workers being brought in to work on major construction projects.
A consistent theme with young people I interviewed was a desire for Mongolia to be independent from foreign influence.  Foreign influence was seen, by them, to be damaging to the culture of Mongolia.

The young people realized Mongolia existed within the primary spheres of influence of Russia and China.  When asked which influence they would choose if they had to choose between the two, they preferred Russian influence.  Answers to my inquiries as to why Russian over Chinese influence were consistent for historical reasons, hundreds of years in the past, but also for the corrupting influence associated with modern financial investment.  Russia, on the other hand, was seen more as a benefactor to Mongolia.  Russia was seen as a historical benefactor relative to activities in World War II, but also as a current benefactor providing trained educators and other less-exploitative involvement in the country.

The U.S. was seen as not significantly relevant to the political or economic situation.  As one Mongolian told me, the U.S. was liked but it was geographically too far away for its influence to be seen or felt.  They said “Russia and China were here”.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Final Program for ISCSC 2015, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There will be an informal reception at the hotel on Wednesday, June 10, starting ~ 7 pm
on a roof lounge with a lovely view.  “Informal” means you pay for your own drinks or food.

Thursday, June 11

9 – 9:13 am, Welcome from the ISCSC President and our Brazilian Hosts, in Room A.

9:15 – 10:40 am, Thursday Panel Session 1

Room A (larger)
David Rosner, chair

Theodor Damian, Metropolitan College of New York, USA.  “The Signs of the Time:
With or Without Postmodernism.”  
Marek Jakubowski, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland.  “The Theory
of Civilization by Felix Koneczny – Archaic or Inspiring?”
Adnan Çelik, Selçuk University, Turkey.  “Have the Global Crises a Philosophy?
Who Creates them and Why?”
David Rosner, Metropolitan College of New York, USA.  “On Civilizational Trauma:
The Black Death and ‘Values at the Crossroads’ in Boccacchio’s Decameron.”

Room B (smaller)
Michael Andregg, chair

Dina Moscovici, Artigo de, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  “The Nomad Space of Art.”
Rochelle Almeida, New York University, NY, USA.  “A Clash of Titans in India: Post-
Modernist Quasi-Capitalism versus Socialism in Literature and Film.”
David Wilkinson, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.  “Was there a pre-Columbian
Civilization in the Amazon Basin?”
Michael Andregg, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, USA.  “Book reviews of
‘The Lowland Maya in the Late Preclassic: The Rise and Fall of an Early Mesoamerican Civilization’ (2011) and Marek Celinski’s ‘Civilizational Crisis and Renewal’ (2015).”

Break --  10:40 – 11:00 am

11–12:30 pm, Thursday Panel Session 2

Room A (larger)
Lynn Rhodes, chair

James Kielkopf, Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban
Policy, New York, USA.   “What’s really new about anti-neoliberal South
America? A comparative analysis of New Left governance in Latin America using analytical tools from the policy studies field.”
David Wilkinson, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.  “Mathew Melko:
A Civilizationalist Looks at Real Peace.”
Tereza Coni Aguiar, Consultant on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil.   “Lebret’s Legacy to Humanistic Planning.”
Randall Groves, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI, USA.  “The Origins of
Religion and the New History of Reason.”

Room B (smaller)
Michael Andregg, chair

Abdulmajed Muhammed Wali, King Saud University, Rihadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Education Means Influencing the Sons and Daughters.”
Khalid Aleid, King Saud University, Rihadh, Saudi Arabia.  “The Impact of Islam on
Strengthening Family Ties:  A Value of the Civilized.”
Abdullah Saleh Alsaif, King Saud University, Rihadh, Saudi Arabia.  “Islamic Cultural
Values Regarding the Treatment of Children and Children with Special Needs.”
Essa Nasser Alduraibi, King Saud University, Rihadh, Saudi Arabia.  “Civilizational
Values in Dialogue, and Means for Promotion of Dialogue in Education.”

Lunch  (12:30 – 2:00, panels begin exactly then) (On your own  - Many restaurants nearby)

2:00 – 3:30, Thursday Panel Session 3

Room A (larger)
Michael Andregg, chair

Carla Monteiro Sales, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio, Brazil.  “Representations
of North South Relations in an Inverted Map of South America.”
Mauricio Goncalves Silva, with Maria Monica Vieira Caetano O’Neill, and Claudio
Stenner, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Population Arrangements and Urban Concentrations in Brazil: Conceptual Aspects.”
Evandro La Macchia, with Jacob Binsztok and Julio Wasserman, Universidade
Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  “Petroleum Exploration and Production Policy:  Brazilian Winding Paths.”
Mehmet Huseyin Bilgin, Istanbul Medeniyet University, Turkey.  “The Effects of
Religious Beliefs on the Working Decisions of Women: Some Evidence from Turkey.”

Room B (smaller)

Randall Groves, chair

Abdulmajeid Aldarwish, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Civilized Values of Dealing with Neighbors in Islam.”
Abdulaziz Saud Aldhowaihy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“The Determinates of Prestigious Values in Islam.”
Khalid Alsharidah, Qassim University, Burayaday City, Saudi Arabia.
“Socio-Cultural Transformations in Saudi Arabia: Displacement vs. Resistance Theories of Change.”
Abdullah Alfauzan, Qassim University, Alqassim City, Saudi Arabia.  “Contributions
of Civilization Towards Social Freedom and Alienation in the Arabic City:  A Literary Point of View.”

Break --  3:30 – 4:00 pm

4:00 – 5:30 Thursday Plenary Session:  Emmanuel Carneiro Leão, Distinguished Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Our Crises”   In Room A.

Evening on your own.  There are more than two things to do in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil ;-)!!

Friday, June 12

9:00 – 10:30 am, Friday Panel Session 4

Room A (larger)

Michael Andregg, chair

Hisanori Kato, Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan.  “Philanthropic Aspects of Islam:  The
Case of the Fundamentalist Movement in Indonesia.”
Faranak Bavardeh, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Baku, Azerbaijan.
“Ibn Khaldun’s Socio-Economic Wisdom and its Influence on the Rise and Fall of
Juri Abe, Rikkyo University,Tokyo, Japan.  “The Role of Foreign Teachers in
Modernizing Meiji, Japan”
Tatiana Bystrova, Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia.  “Open City as a
‘Soft Power’ of Modern, Urban Environments.”

Room B (smaller)

Lynn Rhodes, chair

Sami Alkhalil, Mohammed A. Alsuhaim, Ahmed M. Alkhalil, and Omar A. Alsedees
King Saud University and Qassim University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Islamic Values that Regulate Finance and Economy.”
Kamel Saud Alonazi, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Economic Crises:  Reality and Solutions.”
Adel Mohammed Alabisy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  “Samples
in the Economic System From an Islamic Perspective, and its Effect on Building Values.”
Bandar AlAnazi, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“The Values of Faith and Moral Values in Islamic Economics.”

Break  10:30 – 10:50 am

10:50 am–12:20 pm Friday Plenary Session:  Pedro Geiger, Distinguished Professor,
State University of Rio de Janeiro.  “An Introduction to Brazil.”  

Lunch – 12:20 – 2 pm   (On your own; many options)

2:00 – 3:30 pm, Friday Panel Session 5

Room A (larger)

David Rosner, chair

Zoltan S. Novak, Budapest, Hungary.
“’Panta Rhei’ as the Central Idea of Spengler’s Life Work.”
Mario Wenning, University of Macau, Macau, China.  “The Fate of Transcendence in
Postsecular Societies.”
Vincent Ho, University of Macau, Macau, China.  “Chinese Heritage in East Asia:
Comparative Approaches in Literature, Religion and Culture.
Hasan Tasci, Dr. Esenler Municipal City Thought Center, Istanbul, Turkey.
“City, Civilization, and Prophets.”

Room B (smaller)

George Von der Muhll, chair

Habibollah Babaei, Academy of Islamic Science and Culture, Qom, Iran.
“Standards of Islamity of Civilization.”
Fahad Mohammed Alsultan, Qassim University, Buraydah City, Saudi Arabia.
“Was there an Ideological Impact on Saudi-Iranian Relations Prior to the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979?”
Saeed Ali Alghailani, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  “Alexis de
Tocqueville and Muhammad on War: A Comparative and Historical Perspective.”
Nasser Mohammed Almane, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  “The
Motives of Ethical Commitment in Islam – a Comparative Study.”

Break:  3:30 – 3:50 pm

3:50 – 5:20 pm, Friday Panel Session 6

Room A (larger)

Lynn Rhodes, chair  

Ronald J. Glossop, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, IL, USA.  “The
Meaning of the Twenty-First Century: From Inter-Nationalism to Globalism.”
Anna Sobolewska-Bujwid, Wroclaw University of Technology, Wroclaw, Poland.
“Together or Separately?  The Problem of Social Capital in Central Europe.”
Itzchak Weismann, Haifa University, Haifa, Israel.  “Salafi Interpretations of the
Civilizational Values of Islam.”
George Von der Muhll, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
“Civilizations and Their Frontiers: Identities and Imagery.”

Room B (smaller)

David Rosner, chair

Hamza Ates, Istanbul Medeniyet University Ctr. for Civilizational Studies, Turkey.
“Ethics-Based Civilization:  What Can Islam Contribute?”
Sultan S. Alsaif, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Values Between Religions in Islam.”
Ahmed Allhaib, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  “Civilized Values and
Dealing with the Other in Islam.”
Ibrahim Guran Yumusak, Istanbul Medeniyet University Centre for Civilizational
Studies, Turkey.  “Economic Development: Management from Al-Siyasah Al-Shar’iyah.”

Note Bellum: A tour of Rio de Janeiro is available this Friday evening with
Dr. João Baptista Ferreira de Mello, a Geography Professor from the State University of Rio de Janeiro.  The tour is called:  “Walking Between Night Lights in Downtown Rio.” Dinner will be on your own, perhaps grazing from the variety of restaurants along the way.

Saturday, June 13

9 -- 10:30 am, Saturday Panel Session 7

Room A There is no Room B on Saturday

Michael Andregg, chair

Nissim Mannathukkaren, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.
“Replicating or Reinventing Modernity?  The Case of Kerala India.”
Ashok Malhotra, State University of New York (SUNY), Oneonta, NY, USA.
“Reflections on Clash or Reconciliation of Civilizations.”
Joseph Gualtieri, University of Hong Kong, China.
“Nature and the Crisis in Global Civilizational Values.”
Ahmed Alshbaan, Qassim University, Buraydah City, Saudi Arabia.  “The Role of
Social Endowment Institutions for Promoting Geographic Trips to the Orient (From the Sixth to the Eighth Century AH).”  (~1122 – 1322 of the Common Era)

Break:  10:30 – 11:00

11 – 12:30 Saturday, Panel Session 8

Room A

Lynn Rhodes, chair

Andrzej Szahaj, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.
“The Values of Multiculturalism.”
Ahmed Almazyad, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  “Values in Islam.”
Tarkan Oktay, Istanbul Medeniyet University, Istanbul, Turkey.  “Sister City
Relationships of Municipalities in Turkey in the Context of Soft Power.”
Lynn Rhodes, Royal Oaks, CA, USA.  “Community Trust and Law Enforcement
Around the World: a Key to Peace and Prosperity Everywhere.”

12:30 – 1 pm latest   Business Meeting!  This business meeting will be very short because
the Banquet starts at 2 pm at an off-site location to be announced at the Conference.

The most important agenda is announcement of our venue for 2016 and possibly more details about Montreal in 2017.  Senior officers come up for election in 2016.

[Stats: 14 panels with 58 papers from 16 countries and most occupied continents]

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Europe's Newest Invasion needs Tough Love

May 9, 2015
Laina Farhat-Holzman

As Europeans wring their hands over the arrival of desperate boat people swarming from an Africa that seems to be in death throes, Italy is being shamed into rescuing them. How can they not? How can anybody in Europe not be shamed to relive the last time they created refugees when Yugoslavia was in meltdown? Or before that, when Jews had to flee, or when that savior of refugees, America, turned away ships, sending Jews back to the Nazis who then murdered them?

But as a historian, I want to look further back. Europe has been peopled from the start by hordes fleeing ecological disasters, mostly from Central Asia. The Romans were forever holding off “Barbarians” until finally they could not. These fierce tribes overran Rome and settled in Europe in the 4th century, their leaders marrying into Roman nobility, converting into Rome's then religion, Christianity, along with their subjects.

They were rough, warlike, and savage, but they really wanted nothing more than to be new Romans. They certainly had no desire to replace Rome with their own cultures. As dark as the “Dark Ages” were, they never completely extinguished Rome. The Middle Ages ushered in the resurrection of Roman law, Roman values, and even Roman technologies, and thanks to pressure from the Muslim world, a complete revival of the ancient Greek and Roman learning that we call the Renaissance.

Huns invaded and became Hungarians, becoming European except for their language. Slavic tribes invaded, and they too became Christian, European, and settled in, alas, bringing with them hatred of each other (the unhappy history of the former Yugoslavia). But they were European.

Vikings were a barbaric group that overran northern Europe and gave much grief to the British, French, and Russians in the 8th century. They wound up as a ruling class of all three---but all three had cultures and languages that swallowed them up. The English made them British; French wives tamed the Normans; and the Vikings became the Romanovs. Viking culture didn't stand a chance.

So what of today's hordes descending upon Europe? The first wave is already there: Educated Muslims and Hindus from Pakistan and India as colonialism ended, elite Persians fleeing the Islamic Revolution, elite Afghans fleeing the Taliban, and elite Saudis and Gulf Arabs buying expensive property and educating their children in Europe. This wave mostly integrated and their children are European. We see their names as writers, actors, and university dons.

The second wave is something else. They are fleeing anarchy and chaos, civil wars and ecological disasters. Some are worthy of refuge, but others are not. When a boatload of Muslim men who reached Italian shores had thrown overboard fellow Christians, they were jailed. Such people cannot become Europeans! Others are eager Jihadis. Europe must make some harsh choices if it is not to founder. Sympathy must not become suicide. Africa's death must not become Europe's.

     o     Europe cannot take all these people in. It must do serious triage. It must ban militant Muslims, who cannot be assimilated. But they must admit Christian (Syrian, Egyptian, and Lebanese) families who will otherwise be murdered in the Middle East. These people can become European.

     o     The rest must be sent to Libya to refugee camps like those that housed the Palestinians 60 years ago. To avoid carnage, they must be separated: Syrians, Ethiopians, Somalis, Chadians, with the hope that these people can be repatriated after their national emergencies are eventually resolved. In the interim, they need to be fed, cared for, and their children educated and prepared for gainful employment. The money must come from Europe---the EU, which should be glad to pay it rather than have to pay for such settlement in their own countries!

     o     Those now living in European countries must be given immersion courses in the language, values, and cultural behaviors of their new countries. There must not be any acceptance of multiculturalism if Europe is to survive.

This invasion, if not handled right, could have disastrous consequences for the survival of 2,000 years of European civilization.

675 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  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cher Colonel Landis;

by Andrew Targowski

How do you know what I think? I did not write that I do not believe in ET intelligence’s existence. Vice versa I wrote implicitly that I do believe it does. 
The decline of Western civilization as we know today does not mean that it will evaporate. I argued that it has been transforming into Global civilization. Is something wrong with that transformation? There are plenty of transformed civilizations. What about Classic civilization which had transformed into Western civilization, which applies Greek philosophy and art as well as Roman’s law and engineering today? 
Yes Cher Colonel, the well-being of working labor “hunts me.”  I would not like to live in labor-less economy. The role of the Internet in the transformation of civilization one can compare to the role of printed book invented 500+ years ago. The latter opened the époque of modernity, scientific knowledge, and advanced technology, which changed the civilization impressively. Yes, you are right. Many powerful practices of capital (like Robber Barons who however used capital for the sake of their own country) functioned before the Internet but its service today accelerated the role of stateless capital dramatically, and beyond our imagination. There are plenty of examples. Most important one is that we have democracy without feedback today (like Pacific Treaty Partnership, done by few for few).
No, Western civilization did not took “its élan during the Italian Renaissance.” It happened about 600 years sooner. But the developmental process of Western civilization was slow without printed books and the Internet.     
You asked me to expand the notion how Western civilization was swallowed by Global civilization? I told you already, please read my book on Global civilization in the 21st century (2014), and coming book on Western civilization in the 21st century (May 2015).
With respect
Andrew Targowski


by Ben Landis

Welcome to the discussion.  I apologize for not replying more promptly, but I was between continents.
I would like to put to rest the issue of whether there are or are not other intelligent beings in the universe.  Professor Targowski believes that there are none.  I believe that there is a probability (I can’t say that it is low, medium, or high.) that there are other intelligent beings in the universe.  Professor Targowski cannot prove that there are none.  I cannot prove that there are.  There are no grounds on which to discuss this issue.  Therefore, let’s agree to disagree and move on to matters more directly concerning earthly civilization.
Professor Targowski’s paragraph beginning, “The Colonel does not like my line…”  His line was that the progress of civilized man has reached its climax because of the Internet.  He now states that, “In my view the Internet” (1) leads to strong globalization.  Globalization , however one wishes to define it, was well on its way before the arrival of the Internet.  I refer the curious to Dr. A.J. Toynbee, who articulated this phenomenon in the 1940’s at which time it was already moving forward.  (2) “leads to the decline of Western civilization due to minimalization of the middle class (through outsourcing)…”  First, Western civilization existed well before the development of a middle class.  Other civilizations have prospered with no middle classes throughout their existence.  Civilization per se does not depend upon the middle class.  The Internet did not create the economic activity of “outsourcing”.  Outsourcing as a means of maintaining the viability of a commercial enterprise began well before the Internet.  (3) “replacing Christian values by business values…”  Again, Professor Targowski places the blame on the Internet.  If Christian values have been replaced by business values it occurred a long time before the Internet.  Did the so-called “robber barons” who made fortunes during the industrialization of the United States economy in the last half of the XIXth Century operate their businesses on Christian, rather than business, values more than their modern equivalents?  The ghosts of the American labor movement may come to haunt you, professor.  (4) “growth of global stateless corporations…”  The Internet is not to blame.  This type of business enterprise well predates the Internet.  (5)  “unsustainable growth of production by cheap labor and mass volume of resources…”  The professor perceives an unsustainability of mass production that I cannot see.  In fact, production of all kinds will inevitably increase in order to meet the demands of the developing and emerging peoples.  I do not understand the reference to “mass volume of resources” in conjunction with “unsustainability of mass production”.  Again, how is the Internet to be blamed for this?  (6) “glory of super consumerism…”  Again the fault of the Internet.  If one looks at just the United States, the degree of consumerism as reflected in the part of the GDP created by consumerism (consumption), one finds that the percentage has not materially changed since the 1960’s, at least.  (7) “population growth…”  Caused by the Internet?  I ask for enlightenment, please.  (8) “…ignition of the ecological bomb, depletion of strategic reserves, vulgarization of culture…”  Again, the fault of the Internet per Professor Targowski.
Professor Targowski does concede that his claim that the use of mobile phones contracts the brain will not be able to be proved or disproved for “a few centuries”.  In my previous posting I understood Professor’ Targowski’s statement that “[the downplaying of social groups] is expressed by the detachment of politicians from the service of voters right after election…” meant 100% of politicians   I was wrong.  I therefore do not assume that the Professor means that 100% of mobile phone users will suffer a contraction of their cerebral power.
I am sure that the Professor knows that civilization (singular or plural) was the creation of a minority, a small minority, of the subsequently civilized population.  For example, if we assume that Western Civilization took its élan during the Italian Renaissance, only a very small percentage of the population was literate.  The same was even truer for earlier civilizations.  An élite (called a Creative Minority by Dr. Toynbee) created, developed , and sustained civilization.  The great mass of the population (Internal Proletariat per Dr. Toynbee) followed the lead of the Creative Minority.  That has been the case in all known civilizations.  The mass of the “civilized” population is in, but not of, the civilization.  Therefore, the possible contraction of the cerebral power of the mass of the population is of little consequence to the continuance of civilization, since there will always be an élite whose use of mobile phones is not sufficient to reduce its brain power.  There are, nonetheless, two problems staring us in the face.  (1) In all previous civilizations the Creative Minority has transformed itself into a Dominant Minority, thus creating a schism with the mass of the population and, consequently, dooming the civilization.  Is Western Civilization tending toward that point?  (2) One of the determining characteristics of contemporary Western Civilization is Democracy.  The question is, How do we maintain this Democracy characteristic, not in the face of a possible future deterioration of Western Civilization’s population’s mental capacities, but in the face of the separation of the mass of the population from its leaders and of a belief in the democratic form of government?  Are Western Civilizations going to become Plutocracies governed by a Dominant Minority?
Professor Targowski, in opposition to all the facts, maintains that the world is not being Westernized, but that Western Civilization is being “swallowed by Global Civilization”.  This blog is already too long to discuss this issue.  I ask Professor Targowski to take the time to write an article for the ISCSC Newsletter or for the CCR or another blog post to describe how this Global Civilization he proclaims is other than the westernization of the world’s other civilizations and to describe the salient features of this Global Civilization, particularly those that do not emanate from Western Civilization..
I encourage readers of these blog posts to join in the discussion.  Let’s talk!                            

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Civilization seen by Col. Landis

Andrew Targowski

Col. Landis criticizes my 750 word long entry to the 2014 ISCSC Newsletter for the lack of broader support of my statements.  It is not a scientific paper, just a very short sketch on a very broad topic. More “substance” on that topic is in my book, The Limits of Civilizations (144 pages).  This sketch is my opinion, since the subject matter is based on predicting the future of civilization which is always based on many “ifs.”
The Polemists insist that other intelligence did not visit our Planet for the same reason our SETI system cannot cross the light speed barrier. Einstein said it is impossible, but as Jennifer Ouellette explains some scientists are still trying to break the cosmic speed limit – even if it means bending the laws of physics. Same Einstein asked what is more in God’s basket besides the four laws of physics?  It means that he was wondering whether, perhaps this barrier is only for us leaving on Earth?
Col. Landis asks me why I did not explain what does it mean “survival of the fittest.” I did not do it since our Members know it. Perhaps millions of people know that it is the essence of Darwin’s theory which is the base in all scientific disciplines and common sense disputes.
The Colonel does not like my line “In the 21st century, the progress of the civilized man reached its climax, as illustrated by the …large scale use of the internet.”  He claims that this is totally unsubstantiated. In my view the Internet leads to the strong globalization, decline of Western civilization due to minimalization of the middle class (through outsourcing), replacing Christian values by business values, growth of global stateless corporations, unsustainable growth of production by cheap labor and mass volume of resources, glory of super-consumerism, and population growth, ignition of the ecological bomb, depletion of strategic resources, vulgarization of culture, and so forth.
“Why the use of mobile phones leads to the contraction of the human brain?” Smiles the Colonel.  Because, users of those phones use not full words but short symbols and acronyms, leaving memorization to electronics. This is the reversal of the development of the human brain, which took place about 50,000 years ago when we began to use a developed language constantly growing in the number of words, which led to the development of our vast vocabulary and our brain as well in terms of capacity as in complexity of meanings and their syntax and  semantic relations. The declining use of F2F communication and short acronyms will eventually shrink the human brain. Wait a few centuries for the first statistics. I do not need to produce statistics in 750 word long sketch for a Newsletter. You may find more in my recent book, Virtual Civilization in the 21st Century.
Dear Col. Landis, you are right, Western civilization used to westernize the world. However, in the 21st century, such civilizations as Islamic, Buddhist, Chinese, even Eastern (Russia) want to modernize by not being westernized. Eventually Western civilization will be swallowed by Global civilization. The Colonel is right that Western civilization created Global civilization but now the former is eaten by the later. According to the rule that “a revolution eats its children.” Please read my book Global Civilization in the 21st Century.
Dear Col. Landis, I did not say that 100% of politicians are corrupted. I am not so stupid.
Thank you Col. Landis for providing me so many “fighting arguments” that I could use my “cannons.”
With respect
Andrew Targowski

Comment on Andrew Targowski's Winter 2014 ISCSC newsletter article "State of Civilization Where Are We Heading"

Benjamin L. Landis

I am very much disappointed in the article by Doctor Targowski in the Winter 2014 edition of the ISCSC.  Entitled “State of Civilization Where Are We Heading” it is ideological, not pedagogic; it is opinionated, not objective; it is superficial, not substantive.  Essentially it is the Gospel as declared by Doctor Targowski without any basis in history or fact.  And it is almost totally erroneous.
He begins by declaring “…Apparently man is unique universe-wise, too, or how do we explain that for 4.5 bln years no other “human” visited the earth or no signals betraying one have been recorded by the earth-based SETI system.”  This is nonsense.  The reason no other being has visited Earth is probably the same reason no member of our planet has visited any part of the universe outside our solar system.  We have not discovered how to exceed the speed of light.  We should not blame other societies for the same failing.  Years ago I remember Dr. Carl Sagan saying that there was a strong probability that other living species existed beyond our solar system.  Doctor Targowski’s reliance on the negative results achieved by SETI needs to be clarified.  Does SETI have the necessary equipment to probe the vastness of the universe and to detect living beings?  Has SETI attempted to do so?  If yes, has it covered the entire universe?
Next, he declares that the human species has evolved and endured thanks to the survival of the fittest.  Then, he immediately thereafter writes, maybe it was “…thanks to the skill of collective social life…”  And then again he continues by writing that “…another factor…was the advantageous shape of the hand…”  Or…  In fact, all these concepts are one.  They simply represent different phases or aspects of the evolution of the human species.  Furthermore, the use of the term “survival of the fittest” should have been clarified.  It does not mean in evolutionary theory the survival of the biggest and strongest and healthiest.  It means the survival of those organisms or animals which can best adapt to environmental changes.
The next paragraph that begins “…Further development of man was about the development of civilization…” is filled with inaccuracies.  Unfortunately, I cannot cite them in detail because of the limitation (500 to 1,000 words) on a blog post.
He begins the next paragraph by writing, “In the 21st century, the progress of the civilized man reached its climax, as illustrated by the …large scale use of the internet.”  This is totally unsubstantiated.  How can he know that civilized man has reached a climax?  Believing this, Doctor Targowski demonstrates that he does not understand what a civilization is.  He then writes, “The 21st century mass use of mobile phones…will soon lead to the contraction of the human brain…”  This is totally unsubstantiated.  Doctor Targowski needs to produce statistical or psychological proof that the use of mobile devices causes a deterioration of the brain.
In the next paragraph he states that the [internet] “...leads to the reduction of the world’s diversity as it promotes the expansion of the unified Global civilization…”  The use of the term “Global” is misleading.  Doctor Targowski needs to read Toynbee, who discerned the Westernization of the dying civilizations still in existence in the early 1950’s.  This “globalization” is a one way street.  Western Civilization is westernizing the rest of the world.  None of the other civilizations is impregnating Western Civilization.  But, in contradiction to what he shows on the chart accompanying the article, the world will not be completely westernized by the end of this century.  The transformation of a civilization, even a moribund one, takes centuries.
He then writes, “…the Global civilization…loosens [the] capability [of “social groups living in the same territory”] of self-defense and survival.”  This is a statement totally unsubstantiated by experience.  Doctor Targowski needs to explain how this could or would happen.
He writes, “This is expressed in the detachment of politicians from their service of the voters right after election and offering their services to various groups, scattered across the world, and represented by lobbyists.”  An unfortunate generalization.  He is saying that 100% of the politicians in all the countries of the world are corrupt.  He should know that this is not true.  There are bad politicians and there are good politicians.  There are honest politicians and there are dishonest politicians.  Someone once said or wrote (I think it was an Englishman) that a people has the politicians it deserves.  So, Doctor Targowski would do better to take after the people of the world and not their politicians.  Furthermore, “politicians” are a creation of Western Civilization’s democracies.  There existed civilizations before politicians and democracy.
Finally, he writes, “This is corroborated by the 21st century structural crisis of the states forming the Western Civilization, which in fact has been replaced by the Global Civilization.”  Again, wrong!  What does he mean by “structural crisis”?  Is he implying that 100% of the states of Western Civilization are undergoing this crisis?  He needs to substantiate that proclamation.  And lastly, he repeats his confusion:  Western Civilization has not been replaced by a Global Civilization.  On the contrary.  Western Civilization is creating a Global Civilization, but it will not come into full existence for several centuries.
My final word:  If you have time to waste, read the article, but don’t believe a word of it.  (I wish I could have been more detailed in my analysis of Doctor Targowski’s article, but I had word limitations imposed.)

Comments on Dr. Farhat-Holzman’s ‘Clash of Civilizations offers Glimmers of Hope

Benjamin L. Landis

Dr. Farhat-Holzman’s blog post “ ‘Clash of Traditions’ offer glimmers of hope” [Note for the web site editor: The title should read ‘Clash of Traditions offers glimmers of hope’.] arouses a couple of comments.  First, more than forty years before Huntington, Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee in Volume VIII of his “A Study of History” treated the issue of clashes between civilizations.  Such clashes have existed almost since the beginnings of civilization.  They have traditionally featured warfare and conquest and the eventual assimilation of the conquered by the culture of the conquerors.  There have been, however, exceptions to this general rule.  The most prominent, to my less-than-complete knowledge, being the Islamic Arabs out of the Saudi Arabian desert assimilating the civilization of the more ancient Syriac Civilization and then transforming it into a unique Islamic Civilization.  Unless one wishes to argue that the Arabian Islamic conquerors were already a part of the Syriac Civilization.  But that’s a different blog post.
Huntington’s prediction “that we were headed for stormy times when the largest civilizations would not meet peacefully” (the words are from Dr Farhat-Holzman’s blog post) is fairly meaningless.  No civilizations, large or small, have ever met peacefully since the first civilizations.  Almost 20 years after Huntington’s book, what is the situation?
When the Second World War ended there were only five civilizations in existence: Western, Orthodox-Russian, Islamic, Far Eastern, and Hindu (I use Toynbee’s terminology.).  All these except the Western had suffered in the preceding centuries for two reasons: Colonialism and Westernization.  Starting in the fifteenth century the national states of Western Europe began to colonize the world.  By the end of the First World War North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand were a part of Western Civilization.  All of the Islamic world, except Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, all of Africa, except Liberia and Ethiopia, and most of Asia, except for Japan and China, were either colonies of Western nation states or dominated by them.  Western Civilization was easily recognizable as the most dynamic of the existing civilizations.  So, it can be said that the other globalizing force, i.e., westernization, began at the same time as colonization.  However, in most of the colonized countries the colonizers had little interest in westernizing the colonized populations.  It is certainly true, nevertheless, that some aspects of Western culture were passed on and adopted, but essentially the civilizations retained their particularities and personalities.
Today, colonialism is dead.  The major force acting on the relations between civilizations is now westernization.  Everywhere in the world one can see the various aspects of Western civilization penetrating the other civilizations.  One could argue that the Orthodox-Russian Civilization has become almost totally westernized.  On the other hand, the Islamic Civilization is fighting hard to resist westernization.  The United States government’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, its failure to achieve a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and its continuing military intervention in Islamic internal struggles have been major impediments to the adoption of Western culture in Islamic countries.  The Far Eastern and Hindu Civilizations are demonstrating a much more receptive attitude to their eventual westernization.
There will be eventually a global civilization, probably based on Western culture.  I agree with Dr. Targowski on this point.  However, neither he nor I nor Dr, Farhat-Holzman will live to see it.  And it will certainly not be achieved by the end of this century, as Dr. Targowski believes.  The signs of this westernization are everywhere: in the Arab Spring, in Saudi women driving cars, in South Koreans having plastic surgery to westernize their faces, in the Chinese government’s permitting capitalistic enterprises, in the expansion of English as the world’s second language, etc.  The list is long.  I am willing to give further examples if a reader requests, but I imagine that any reader can come up with his/her own.  But one must remember that complete acceptance of a foreign culture takes a very long time, centuries.
Dr. Farhat-Holzman writes that “…most scholars … upon the end of the Cold War, were convinced that the world had globalized; that the United States and its values had dominated all others, and that there was nothing really left to fight about. War was no longer really conceivable. We had every institution needed to regulate a peaceful, rational world order.”  I would like to know what scholars Dr. Farhat-Holzman is citing here.  They must have been living high in an aerie or deep in a cave.  I can’t cite any scholar who believed that.  The world had not then been globalized; it is not globalized today.  What does globalization mean?  Is the world globalized because I can fly from my home in the United States to Tokyo in less than a day?  Is the world globalized because I can have a telephone conversation with someone in Beijing?  Is the world globalized because most of the clothes I wear are made in China? I side with Dr. Targowski in his article in the 2014 Winter edition of the ISCSC Newsletter “The State of Civilization—Where are we heading?”.   Globalization is more than commerce; it is deeply cultural.
Furthermore, the United Nations had already demonstrated by its performance prior to the end of the Cold War that it was not capable of regulating “a peaceful, rational world order.”  What other organization or organizations is Dr. Farhat-Holzman thinking of?
I would appreciate any comments, pro or con or amplificatory, any reader would like to make on the points I make above.    

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Public Trust and the Role of Law Enforcement

Lynn Rhodes
April 9, 2015

The responsibility of law enforcement to society is under close examination due to converging societal conditions that are not new. Recent shooting in the back of an unarmed black man in South Carolina and grand jury decisions not to indict officers involved in law enforcement related deaths of unarmed black men, amplify this convergence and resulting break-down of public trust.

Enforcement agencies are searching for better ways to build trust in their communities and many use community policing programs and strategies. After all, law enforcement is a public-trust-protection program, there to provide public and resource protection. It works best when conducted in a collaborative manner; Community-Public-Trust Policing 101.

One such program worth examining for its approach and policies is the California State Parks Department and their State Park Rangers (State Park Peace Officers). It is a unique department under the California Natural Resources Agency and includes a sizeable law enforcement function having mutual or concurrent policing jurisdiction with cities, counties, state and federal jurisdictions. Their peace officers have full enforcement authority that extends throughout the state. They provide public safety and resource protection to over 68 million annual visitors throughout approximately 1,600,000 acres; 1,658 miles of ocean and waterfront including 1/3rd of California’s coastline.

A peace office’s role is much larger than enforcing laws.  The spirit of the law and use of discretion when weighing the totality of circumstances are fundamental. California State Park Officers are privileged to be considered as Guardians by a majority of the public. A Guardian is an ally, someone that watches, protects and takes action.  Discretion and trust, essential to their role.

When basic values of providing public-trust protection are formally built into an organization’s policies, their practices generally follow those values. California State Parks has written policies that define expectations for their peace officers:
Law Enforcement is, after all, a positive and necessary public service and a natural complement to the role as guardians and protectors.  With defined values, State Park Rangers are charged with the responsibility for protecting and preserving that which has been entrusted to their care.
Rising crime and various social impacts now encroach upon places which have long been considered sanctuaries for peace and enjoyment. Regardless of the increased use and rising crime rate in parks (public places), all park visitors (community members) have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be dealt with in a courteous and cordial manner.
Law enforcement powers are only tools to achieve the goal of compliance.  In many cases, simply informing people that their behavior is illegal will result in compliance.  In other cases the reason for the law must be explained or written warnings issued to offenders.  For others, the threat of law enforcement action will be necessary, and there are cases in which the behavior of the violator is so serious/dangerous as to require immediate arrest or escalated force. The key to a successful law enforcement program therefore rests with the intelligence, judgment, and discretion of each officer.

The Department’s Community Policing policy provides additional direction:
Reinforcing collaboration with the public; one in which its primary jurisdiction and the “community” do not exist independently.  Both are interdependent parts of a larger, more complex social economic and environmental system.  Community policing requires a fundamental change in responsibility for policing by law enforcement agencies alone, to a collaborative, community based system.
Using the community, public-trust policing model, State Park Peace Officers and other department personnel are empowered to develop and maintain relationships with public agencies, community organizations, and businesses, to identify and solve/prevent problems of mutual concern.  Rather than focusing only on visible symptoms of crime, all partners work together, to address public safety, law enforcement and resource protection concerns.  With all parties participating, community members are better able to prevent or solve problems that erode society and public trust.

Law enforcement agencies with defined values, policy and respect, reinforced by continuous training, are best positioned to build real trust in their communities, for society and civilization.

Lynn Rhodes is an international consultant and the former Chief of California State Parks Law Enforcement Division. She can be reached at