Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

Can Capitalist systems be reformed? Part 3.

Posted on September 26, 2010

In the previous two articles, I discussed the foundations of Capitalism, the variations in capitalist systems, communist/capitalism systems, the ideology of private property ownership, and the reforms needed.

This part will discuss the practical political and legal reforms needed if change is to be effective.  

First, let me summarize the last two articles.

One:  Capitalism is based on four  foundations:

  1. Private property of means of production;
  2. free internal people movement and exchange (products, services…);
  3. open free market for commerce; and
  4. availability of a vast pool of people willing to work for salary. The main driving force is that the owner of the means of production (the bank, the partners, the shareholder, or the family)  should earn as much as the total salary that all workers receive.  Consequently, an employee is hired when the owner can generate profit, at least as equal to the total salary of the hired worker.

Two:  The foundations of capitalism have proven not to function except within strong richer State institutions, which are almost totally controlled by the capitalist classes.

Three:  The one foundation that all economic systems in developed States share is free global trade, which means the liberty to exploiting the developing countries in natural resources and cheap labor. 

How this work and corollaries to capitalist systems:

First, the developed States are allowed to subsidize their agriculture, but the developing nations are Not to do it and they cannot, even if they realize the need to do it .

Second, the developed States are to flood the markets of developing countries with affordable products with No “legal rights” for the developing nations to increase import taxes in order to safeguarding their own means of productions.

Third, the developed States can find financial resources at low-interest rates with a phone call, but Not the developing nations that have to borrow at at least twice the interest rates.

Fourth, in return for blatant exploitation, the developed States agree “voluntarily” to setting aside a small fraction of their GNP to developing the infrastructures in the poorer States.  Mainly, self-serving their interests to improving infrastructure to facilitating exploitation efficiently.

Fifth:  All “international” institutions such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Commerce and Trades are dominated by the US, China, and a few European States. Thus, transparency and access to timely information and intelligence are denied the developing nations.

Sixth:  Financial institutions (banks, insurance companies…) are the real owner of means of production in capitalist systems.  They own 30% of the total wealth of a nation and represent only 1% of the population.  This is NOT acceptable. 

Fact is, financial institutions generate three times more money than the combined tax collected by the government.  This is NOT acceptable. 

Any reforms should first target the level of profit that financial institutions are permitted to generate.  “Effective” interest rates should be lowered accordingly, and tougher regulations imposed of these behemoths.

Community banks with excellent transparency in decision process and lending policies should be the norm.  The current status of financial institutions is generating abnormal profit with No risks whatsoever.  

The aristocratic political family class (representing 10% of the population and hoarding more than 20% of the nation’s wealth or what is called “Old Money”) is the main beneficiary of the current capitalist system dominated by the financial barons.

Seventh:  If capitalism needs salaried people, it must secure the fundamental right to work, a wide range of jobs that satisfy varied opportunity, access to affordable education, safe workplace, universal health coverage, caring for the elderly, and justice for people who worked most of their life for a comfortable retreat.  Has capitalism satisfied the basic needs of its workforce?

Basically seuring Equal starting life to all its kids.

Eight:  States should start taxing according to the number of employees hired and total revenue generated:  These two criteria are the most objective representative of net profit and are easy to investigate.  This gimmick of taxing on “net profit” is an accounting fraud that is not objective or fair.

Companies relocating for cheaper workers must be taxed according to the original “national wages” of the workers.  Companies substituting workers for robots should be taxed according to the number of workers substituted.  States will then be able to subsidize unemployed people, until they find jobs and be imaginative enough to opening up newer job opportunities…

Ninth:  There is a trend for owners with strong ethics and moral standards to including employees as shareholders and participating in management decisions:  These companies are doing very well and not suffering from financial crashes.  Institutions and companies for profit are amoral and do not deal in ethical conducts. 

Ethics and morality are individual characteristics:  The more such individuals gather in groups to reclaiming fairness and justice in actions, the more institutions will be reminded of what is best for society.

Tenth:  Historically, land and private property were the basis for the emergence of the “bourgeois and merchant” classes and which initiated the major leap forward into creating wealth. This system of private ownership lead to the abolition of feudalism and absolute monarchic powers, backed by the clergy.

The structure of private ownership of land and properties materially weakened nobility and clergy and eventually displaced them. Private property of land should be revised…Read part #4.

Eleventh:  Private ownership of land and properties are not currently economically essential for capitalist system to function properly:  Enterprises can lease properties and resume their business as usual.  It is the political ideology behind private properties that is the culprit.

 Private property ownership remains as a reminder that aristocracy image of power must not vanish in order to retaining political power in “democratic” political system.

Twelfth:  Ownership of land and real estates must be legally abolished in order to having a serious chance for political reforms.  Land should be owned by communities and regulated by community councils.

Land and real estates should only be leased for durations, and never owned by individuals and never renewed for any member of the family in order to dissuade political inheritance of images and statuses.  Inheritance of private real estates and money is the main reason for the existence of aristocratic lineage in wealth and politics.

The inheritance mentality encourages sustaining ancient beliefs that the aristocratic class is better fit to rule, guide, and lead simply because this class created the system that perpetuates its interests and egoistic power.

I then offered the required necessary reforms on property ownership.  For example, enterprises may be allowed to renew the lease for specific duration as long as the nature of the business did not change or will not change after the renewal.  For example, transforming from a manufacture to real estates development.

This section of the series will develop on Election processes and laws reforms.

In the current “capitalist democracy”, the judicial system obeys laws decreed by the parliaments (supposed to be representing the common people) that are dominated by the richest and political “aristocracy” classes.. And the executive branch is intrinsically dominated by the highest classes, directly and indirectly.  

This entire political system is called “capitalist democracy” where people have the illusion of electing their representatives for a duration.  After election, people are to behave as spectators:  Any serious disturbances are crushed in the name of Law and Order.

It is imperative that real political power in reformed election laws should  shift the odds for the middle class and lower classes to acceded to legislative and executive positions.

Private enterprises within a free internal movement and exchange of people and merchandise, and supported by a smooth flow of liquid money, as commerce increases and develop, are the basis for creating wealth.  

The State should not be doing business, but regulating laws and order, and securing the well-being of  all its citizen “equal under the law of fairness to work, opportunity, and happiness.”

Thus, the sole reason for the existence for State government is doing politics.  

Mainly, equalizing the odds so that all its citizens live equally in dignity.  So far, the current capitalist system appears to  running smoothly only for the survivors of the holocausts of financial crisis and degradation of normal living conditions.

Election laws and regulations reform targeting all citizens, regardless of gender, ethnic minority, and wealth status must be undertaken relentlessly and closely monitored and supervised by ethical, moral, and just citizens.

First, No fee  charges should be levied for submitting any documents to being candidates to any representative community, council, or State chambers and Houses.  This costly application favors the well-to-do.

Second, contribution to campaigning is strictly done on individual basis and having a fixed limit representing the capacity of lower classes for contribution.  Thus, flow of contribution from rich classes and enterprises are off-limit in election campaign.

Third, stiff penalties should be levied on owners, executives, and managers of enterprises (not the entity) who bribe or press upon employees to get biased toward candidates and extending bonuses at election periods.

Fourth, quota should be imposed on rich and aristocratic classes in number of candidates, commensurate to their representation of the entire population.

Fifth, the campaign should be made easy to comprehend and run, so that many citizens would be encouraged to participate.

Sixth:  All candidates should have equal air time and receive fair contribution from the State to running an equitable campaign and supporting staff.

Seventh:  Prison terms should be attached to officials in any enterprises  or interest lobbying groups who are backing candidates by fraudulent financial means.

These are sample example for fairness in election laws so that many more common people get into the legislative chambers on their own potentials, without feeling indebted to any rich baron or political aristocrat.  

Either power is democratically obtained or anarchy is the end result for the state of injustices in capitalist systems.

Market cannot regulate itself for the interest of the common people.  Rich classes are not just following their interests, but also their overextended egoism to grabbing more power when left at their own volition.

Enterprises have No moral or ethical standards regulating them.  

Only external pressures, for example State politics of fairness to all and justice to all, can make a difference.  

Practicing democracy is hard work and it requires constant vigilance, reflection, and mass actions.

“Émile” by Jean Jacques Rousseau (Book Review, part 1)

Note 1: Rousseau cherche à développer et préserver l’Individualité des enfants face aux forces des institutions qui veulent se servire de la personne pour leurs intérêts. Développer la force de l’individu dès ses premières années c’est la responsabilité de la mère.

I am reading “Emile” by J. J. Rousseau , published in the 18th century. He was persecuted and forced to exile for many years. This universal and timely book is applicable to all societies as to the proper development of kids and their education in their early age.

Je propose les idées que les gens ne croient pas faisable, dont la vérité ou la fausseté impose a connaître, et qui font le bonheur ou le malheur du genre humain.

Pere et mere, ce qui est faisable est ce que vous voulez faire, repeter le mal qui existe? Dois-je répondre de votre volonté?

Les lois, toujours si occupées des biens et si peu des personnes, parce qu’ elles ont pour objet la paix et non la veritu, ne donnent pas assez d’autorité aux mères, surtout les veuves, pour élever leurs enfants.

Presque tout le premier age des enfants est maladive et danger. La moitie perit avant l’age de 8. Les epreuves faites, l’enfant a gagne les forces necessaire pour poursuivre la vie.

(Je crois que les enfants des “nobles” périssent en plus grand nombre parce que la mère ne les allaitent pas et ne les entretien pas la plupart des journées. Et l’enfant vit plutôt en solitude et ne sentent pas l’amour et la tendress de leur parents)

La nature n’est pas les habitudes: la seve de la plante redirige la direction de la plante quand les forces extérieures cessent de s’appliquer sur elle.

La mere a la responsabilité de former de bonne heure une enceinte autour de l’âme de son enfant (protection, l’amour, jugement et respect de la nature…) et poser les barrieres. La société en peut marquer le circuit (les prejuges, l’autorite, les institutions…) qui vont submerge l’enfant et étouffe en lui la nature qui tu lui as préservé comme une jeune pousse…

La mere prend soin de sa plante par la culture: les homme et les institutions par” l’éducation.”

Les gens ne se souviennent pas pas de leur enfance: ils cherchent toujours l’homme dans l’enfant et leur transmettent les savoir des hommes.

Tel s’est fait enterrer a 100 ans qui mourut dès sa naissance: il n’a jamais vécu et agit de toutes ses senses.

L’homme civil nait, vit et meurt dans l’esclavage des institutions: A sa naissance on the coud dans un maillot, a sa mort on le cloue dans une bière. Tant qu’il garde la figure humaine, il est enchaine par nos institutions.

Le vent de tous ses catégories et la mer de toutes ses forces sont naturelles: Prend garde, jeune pilote du vaisseau, que ton cable ne file et que ton ancre ne laboure pour ne pas dériver. C’est ça l’éducation fondamentale quand on est jeté dans la société a composantes variantes.

L’homme urbain est une unité fractionnaire qui tient au denominateur commun, les lois civiles qui s’appliquent a tous: Ôter son existence absolu pour creer une nature relative dans l’unite commun.

Les Guerres des Républiques sont plus cruelles que celles des monarchies. Pourtant, la vie en paix dans une monarchie (et ses classes d’elites) est terrible comme sujet et pas comme citoyens.

Le combat de l’humanité est entre élever un homme ou un citoyen. Dans les deux cas, la majorité silencieuse a manque aux deux choix et entrave le développement des droits des hommes et la coopération entre les genres, les races et la liberté d’expression.

Note 2: It might take me a long time to finish “Emile”: For each page I read, I feel pressured to fill another page of notes and comments.

Young Raja Oueis posted this article in 2013, written during a creative co-sensing circle.

He passed away a week ago, of cancer in 2015

Posted on February 23, 2015 (with a few editing on my part)

He lives in the fleeting moment.

What life is for ,if not to live, think, love, exist in the moment?

He isn’t worried. He isn’t phased.

He knows life will continue whether he steps to smell the roses or not.

He Knows that he will learn, change, adapt, evolve, …

Newer versions of himself will emerge …

Love had a way of materializing as soon as he wore his heart on his sleeve … 

His heart – is now exposed, vulnerable, yet free and alive.

Another part of him seeks similar emergence – his mind. 

Just as love requires an object on which to focus, the mind requires one, in order for ideas to bloom.

The opening for his ideas to spring forth, lies ahead:

A change of institution, a change of country, perhaps just a change in nature, a new design created.

The opening widens as technology advances and he watches, wide-eyed

At a loss for knowing where to begin, the timing this creator desired to create.

Through the opening, his mind plants the seeds of budding ideas:

Augmented reality, telepresence, a world where organic technology doesn’t sound like an oxymoron –

These seeds need care to grow, they need diligent work and focus.

Many of these seeds will never grow, the mind will never access the granted opportunity,

Lest he does also learn to live and love …

His life, his love, his thoughts interact in the background of his mind. 

Instead of a sandbox, there is gray matter, to immerse himself in. 

Instead of a slide, there are ridges and valleys to woosh down.

Instead of a jungle gym, there are synapses to jump across.

Instead of a water fountain, there is a stream of consciousness,

And all in the mental playground, from which all came together and meshed.

Raja Oueis

Can Capitalism be reformed? Part 2

Posted on September 25, 2010

This part will discuss ownership of private land properties in capitalist systems and the practical political and legal reforms needed if change is to be effective.  

In the first part I wrote:

One:  Capitalism is based on four  foundations:

1. Private property of means of production;

2. free exchange (products, services…);

3.  open free market for commerce; and

4. availability of a vast pool of people willing to work for slave salary.

The main driving force is that the owner of the means of production (the bank, the partners, the shareholder, or the family)  should earn as much as the total salary that all workers receive in the business.

Consequently, an employee is hired when the owner can generate profit, at least as equal to the total salary of the hired worker.

Two:  The foundations of capitalism have proven Not to function except within strong State institutions, which are almost totally controlled by the capitalist elite classes, especially the Old Money classes that generated the wealth in previous slave working system.

The judicial system obeys laws decreed by parliaments that are dominated by the richest and political “aristocracy” classes, and the executive branch is intrinsically dominated by these classes, directly and indirectly.  

This whole political system is called “capitalist democracy” where people have the illusion of electing their representatives for a duration.  

After election, people are to behave as spectators:  Any serious disturbances are crushed in the name of Law and Order.

Three:  The previous article described Communist economic systems (Russia and China) and then, capitalism in Western European social-democratic States.

Four:  The one foundation that all economic systems of developed States share is free global trade; which means the liberty to exploiting the developing countries in natural resources and cheap labor.

The developed States are allowed to subsidize their agriculture, but the developing nations are not to do it and they cannot, even if they witness the need to do it .  

The developed States are to flood the markets of developing countries with affordable products with No “legal rights” for the developing nations to increasing import taxes in order to safeguarding their own meager means of productions.

The developed States (colonial powers) can find financial resources at low-interest rates (at 3%, even if they accumulated far higher sovereign debts than the poorer States), but not the developing nations( at least over 7% interest rates on loans

In return for blatant exploitation, the developed States agree “voluntarily” to setting aside a small fraction of their GNP to developing the infrastructures in the poorer States; mainly, self-serving their interests to improving and facilitating exploitation and transport of raw materials efficiently.

Five:  All “international” institutions such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Commerce Trades are dominated by the US, China, and a few European States. Thus, transparency and access to timely information and intelligence are practically denied the developing nations.

Six:  Financial institutions (banks, insurance companies…) are the real owner of means of production in capitalist systems.  They own 30% of the total wealth of a nation and represent only 1% of the population.  This is NOT acceptable.

Fact is, financial institutions generate three times more money than the combined tax collected by the government.  This is NOT acceptable. 

Any reforms should first target the level of profit that financial institutions are permitted to generate.  “Effective” interest rates should be lowered accordingly and tougher regulations imposed of these behemoths.

Small community banks with excellent transparency in decision process and lending policies should be the norm. 

The current status of multinational financial institutions is generating abnormal profit with no risks whatsoever.  

The aristocratic political family class (representing less than 10% of the population and hoarding more than 20% of the nation’s wealth or what is called “Old Money”) is the main beneficiary of the current capitalist system dominated by the financial barons.

Seven:  If capitalism needs salaried people, it must secure the fundamental right to work, a wide range of jobs that satisfy varied opportunity, access to affordable education, safe workplace, universal health coverage, caring for the elderly, and justice for people who worked most of their life for a comfortable retreat.  

Has capitalism satisfied the basic needs of its workforce?

Eight:  States should start taxing according to the number of employees hired and net revenue (not based on financial sheet profit):  These two criteria are the most objective representative of net profit and easy to investigate. 

This gimmick of taxing on “net profit” is an accounting fraud that is not objective or fair.

Companies relocating their factories or main business for cheaper workers must be taxed according to the original “national wages” of the workers. 

Companies substituting workers for robots should be taxed according to the number of workers substituted. 

States will be able to subsidize unemployed people until they find jobs and be imaginative enough to opening up newer job opportunities.

Nine:  There is a trend for owners with strong ethics and moral values to including employees as shareholders and participating in management decisions:  These companies are doing very well and not suffering from financial crashes. 

Institutions and companies for profit are amoral and do not deal in ethical conducts.  Ethics and morality are individual characteristics:  the more such individuals gather in groups to reclaim fairness and justice in actions the more institutions will be reminded of what is best for society.

Land and private property are the basis for the emergence of the “bourgeois and merchant” classes and which initiated the major leap forward into creating wealth.  

This system of private ownership lead to the abolition of feudalism and absolute monarchical powers that were backed by the clergy.

The structure of private ownership of land and properties materially weakened nobility and clergy and eventually displaced them.

Private ownership of land and properties are Not currently economically essential for capitalist system to function properly:  Enterprises can lease properties and resume their business as usual.  

It is the political ideology behind private properties that is the culprit.  Private property ownership remains as a reminder that aristocracy image of power must not vanish in order to retain political power in “democratic” political system.

Ownership of land and real estates must be legally abolished in order to have a serious chance for political reforms.  Land should be owned by communities and regulated by community councils.

Land and real estates should only be leased and never owned by individuals or enterprises.  Why?

First, inheritance of private real estates and money is the main reason for the existence of aristocratic lineage in wealth and politics.  The inheritance mentality encourages sustaining ancient beliefs that the aristocratic class is better fit to rule, guide, and lead simply because this class created the system that perpetuates its interests and egoistic power.

Second, land and properties leasing laws prevent inheritance problems and its successions of hate, suffering, and legal procedures.  

Land and real estates should be leased for a period No longer than 30 years and never renewed for any member of the family in order to dissuade political inheritance of images and statuses.  

Leases can be extended for three years under particular circumstances. For example, father, mother, and grandparents have the right to die in their property and not experience humiliation and exacerbation at old age.  I guess children will make sure that their folks remain at home and not be sent to specialized rest homes in order to enjoying a free location.

Third, leases on unused properties or uninhabited could be canceled.  Consequently, homes will be properly maintained and the homeless people will have the availability of shelter in unoccupied properties.  Families with crippled or handicapped children will have priority for occupying uninhabited properties.

Fourth, leased land and real estates offer greater opportunities for the newer generations to different life-style in habitat, sustainable energy, and better community life.

Fifth, enterprises may be allowed to renew the lease for specific duration as long as the nature of the business did not change or will not change after the renewal. For example, transforming from a manufacturer to real estates development is Not acceptable.

The third part of this series of articles will develop on election processes and laws reforms that would shift the odds for the middle class and lower classes to acceded to legislative and executive positions.

Note:  You may read about the Real Estates bubble that won’t burst and is converging to another financial crisis in https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/obama-praying-mantra-next-f-crash-not-on-my-watch/

Keeps Me Sane

Posted on  October 16, 2008 and written in 1998

Reading keeps me sane.

The time for enjoying a great book is still there, and always will be.

I always expect jewels on human relationship.

I like surprises which reveal feelings that I would never divulge

Either to a shrink or to anyone at my deathbed,

Feelings that reveal emotions I thought were my exclusive domain.

Puerile ideas that I would be ashamed to express,

Dangerous tendencies that I like to ignore.

      The more I read, the more I am convinced that I am sane,

That everyone is sane given time to read as much,

That humankind shares every thought and emotion that I can come up with.

Accepting that humbling knowledge needs time,

Time to reach a stage of vulnerability where life seems too complex, 

For diminishing energy and forever growing dreams.

      Run baby run, though you are sane and think otherwise.

Sink baby sink, though you are not much different than your neighbor.

Once I realized that feelings are common to all, 

What little work remained is a trifle to many.

It is a job you did all your life with no effort: 

Acting normal.

Just act normal to all who cannot stand reading.

Why wait to be reincarnated, now and then,

Over thousands of years, as a new kind of animal?

Why not have a thousand human souls in a lifetime?

Every character in a story is you

Under different time, country, climate, class, birthrights, condition, 

In different situations, social, political, financial and gender.

You span the whole gamut of human emotions

You are the good, the bad, the evil, the saint.

You are the rich, the poor, the nobleman, the peasant.

You are the genius, the idiot, the hardworking, and the fainéant.

Pick a well described character, good or evil.

Personify it and the story changes as you change,

Your heart and mind reedit the story as you change character

Because it could have been you; it is you indeed.

You can be everybody, everywhere and it is still a fact,

You are a changed person, many peoples in one.

Keeps Me Sane (Continue 2)

How can your best friend empathies with you if he hates reading?

How can someone who cannot know himself

Empathies with your many selves?

The odds that a one-life man could empathies with someone

With a thousand lives is almost nil.

You earned the rights to be richer, more complex, and much different.

You ought to feel proud on this discriminating dimension.

      My everlasting appreciation to my heroes

The writers who bared their souls,

Who endured the ultimate hardship

To make it possible for me to endure myself.

“Le livre des saviors” edited by Constantin von Barloewen, (December 22, 2007)

Posted  on October 24, 2008 and written in December 22, 2007

This manuscript is a series of interviews of thinkers that Barloewen considers as representative of this century such as, the Syrian poet “Adonis”, the Egyptian diplomat Boutros Boutros Ghali, the biochemist Erwin Chargaff, the French politician Regis Debray, the Latin American writer Carlos Fuentes, Nadine Gordimer, Stephen Jay Gould, Samuel Huntington, Philip Johnson, Leszek Kołakowski, Julia Kristeva, Federico Mayor, Yehudi Menuhin, Czesław Miłosz, Oscar Niemeyer, The Israeli writer Amos Oz, Raimon Panikkar, Cardinal Paul Poupard, Ilya Prigogine, Arthur Schlesinger, Michel Serres, Wole Soyinka, Edward Teller, Tu Wei-Ming, Paul Virilio,, and Elie Wiesel.

Adonis said: “I was born in the Koran”.  Adonis is the pseudonym of the Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said Esber; he published his first poems at the age of 17.  

Adonis collection “The chants of Mihyar of Damascus” started his career in 1961.  He founded the magazine “Poems” (Chi3r) with Yousef Al Khal and then “Mawaqif”(positions) and translated many French poetry manuscripts.  He published “The time of cities”, “Memory of the wind”, “Prayer and sword”, and “Grave for New York”.

Adonis says that there are two texts for the Koran:

The first text is the compilation of the revelations proper of the Prophet Muhammad, and

The second text is a compilation of what the prophet said or alluded to and the interpretations of the ulamas called ”Al Hadith”.  

The jurists, the philosophers, the politicians and Caliphates favored the second text “Hadith”, which has eclipsed the main text in matter of daily rules and obligations.  

The reliance on Hadith mainly transformed Islam into an ideology. The present problem is related to this dualism of the two texts.

(Actually, the original compilation of the Prophets verses were also edited and transformed to suit the expansion of the Islamic empire during the third caliph Uthman bin Affan and this currently adopted Koran sound a transliteration to the Judaic Bible)

Religious fundamentalism is a form of anti-modernity but we need to define and differentiate the meaning of modernity among regions. 

Fundamentalism is anti-liberty, anti-change and anti-openness to other cultures but Muslim fundamentalism was encouraged by the Western Nations to counter communism. (As the British supported the Wahhabi sect in the Arabian Peninsula in order to confront the Ottoman Caliphate)

The Muslim mystics interpret the notions of hell and paradise symbolically. 

Islam had been a culture opened to other religions and adopted the mixing among various cultures and Israel has to realize that its existence is linked to her intermingling with the culture of the neighbors.

Many believe that identity is pre-set and that the citizens have to find their identity at the source, but identity is related to the future and is formed by perpetual openness to other cultures. My tradition is not just “Arabic” but go all the way to over five thousand years before the Islamic conquests.

The late Erwin Chargaff said: “No scientist knows what is life”.  

Chargaff  is a renowned biochemist who contributed in the understanding of the DNA and taught at Columbia University for 40 years.  He considers the USA as a big waste disposal State with no culture: the melting pot or the lowest common denominator among the various ethnic groups revolves around money.  

It would take a miracle for the USA to acquire a homogeneous culture.

There is a mechanism in place that paralyses spiritual thoughts and sensibility: any form of pure poetry is viewed as grotesque in the US culture.

The lyrical thinking of the 18th century was replaced by natural sciences. Thus, instead of explaining what is life, the scientist analyze the components of life and try to colonize nature. 

Chargaff states that what we comprehend is far remote from what we can do with science: the irreversible genetically altered genes in human and vegetables are very dangerous, scary and criminal.

The scientist of previous centuries used to dabble in the spiritual, but the little scientists of this century have No idea of the general context and are very indifferent.

Chargaff claims that science is interesting but should not be given too much importance: there should be no time limit imposed on any scientific discovery and thus, the less scientific institutions receive in grants the better for science and societies.

In the essential of progress we might still be as developed as the Neanderthal.

We do not need to have more superior musicians or philosophers in order to claim progress. The history of the world is a catalogue of violent acts and accidents, and beauty has no place in that history.

Nobody can teach us in the domain of literature and human sciences and we are on our own to conquer these fields.

Chargaff has religious sensibilities but he has no religion; he said that everyone should build his own chapel in order to defend his internal forces against the ambient impiety. It is dangerous that the sacred is vanishing from our culture and traditions.

Regis Debray said: “The Futurists are always wrong”.  

Debray is a French writer, philosopher, and political activist.  He was President Francois Mitterrand’s third world foreign affairs. He was a war correspondent in Venezuela and Bolivia and served three years prison term in Bolivia in the 60’s.

He published articles in “Les temps modernes” of Sartre and is the founder of the “mediology” and is more oriented toward the effects of religions in the secular domain.

He says that religion is linked to the idea of institutions and personified divinities, but the religious has no need of a God or of confession:

Communism, fascism and Nazism were religious secular atheist ideologies. 

Debray has coined this maxim “The less the secular authorities are spiritual the more the spiritual power is secular” and he gives as an example of the extensive secular meddling of the Russian Orthodox Church. (Actually, the more the public institutions support any religious movement, the less is the secularity of the State)

The source of cohesiveness in any community is founded on the sacred or faith in a final objective that guarantee its continuation. The sacred cannot be manipulated because it is not controlled by man.  

A community has to open up to transcendental values such as lost paradise, myths, or even a Constitution in order to keep its internal unity and has also to set boundaries. 

Thus, what attaches a group together is a certain faith, unlike individuals who may know, but not necessarily have faith.  The group or community may be specialized organizations that set up rules and regulations and programs as sacred rituals.

The marketing tendencies of setting political programs in the Western States, which are supposed to satisfy peoples wants and wishes, do not enhance the political will or rationality, but purely the cult of emotion.

And thus, the social and humanitarian aspects are replacing diplomacy at the expense of the ideal. 

Communication used by the media propagate information in the dimension of space, while transmission of knowledge and traditions propagate information along the time dimension. And thus, the transmission vehicles, which characterize human development, such as family, school, university, and organization for educating and preserving the heritage of our ancestors are losing ground.

Carlos Fuentes talked about “the Creole or mixed offspring or the Latin American drama and the future myths”.

Fuentes was born in Panama and is a Mexican writer, academic, politician and diplomat; he served a term at the UN in the section of international work and founded several literary magazines with Octavio Paz.

His publications are “Days of Carnival”, “The most limpid region”, “The death of Artemio Cruz”, “The songs of the blinds”, “New skin”, “Terra nostra”, “The old gringo”, and “The century of the eagle”.

Fuentes thinks that the 21st century will be marked by mass immigration from the South and East to Europe and the USA.

The poors in the Latin America will have no choice but to invade the USA, unless mass investment are allocated to that impoverished continent. 

He is saddened that the Greek tragic dramas have been replaced by Hollywood melodramas, where one party is right and the other is the bad:  tragical dramas are not necessarily unhappy and pathetic stories because the two protagonists are both right in their positions depending on your philosophy and focus in values.

He described Don Quixote as the book of uncertainty; the name, locations and even the author are not clearly defined.  The locus of novels should be the media of the doubt, of re-questioning the dogmas and the uncertainties in the world.

During the revolutions for independence from Spain in 1820, the (elite classes?) in Latin American States decided that they had enough of Spanish culture but they had to seek education and culture from Europe and France because the indigent Indian and black minorities could not be of any substitute. 

At that year, the USA issued the “Monroe doctrine” which stated that the USA reserve the right to intervene in Latin America and consequently, the population get their distance from acquiring knowledge and culture from this Calvinist and utilitarian State.

The Cuban Alejo Carpentier explained the Negro traditions, the Guatemalan Miguel Angel Asturias explained the Indian traditions, and the Argentinean Borges explained the Islamic and Jewish traditions; thus, the identity of Latin American took form in the 20th century.

Twilight of “Knowledge lovers”, Part 2

Posted on January 28, 2010

  • In: Book Review | engineering/research/experiments | Essays | philosophy | religion/history
  • In part 1, I exposed the theme that philosophy was the super-structure of the dominant class in any period of what is now called “Class Ideology”, and that the economical aspect was not included in the philosophical system of reasoning. (Just Not to open the eyes of the educated on the basic aspect of their conditions?)

Man has been asking questions; he has been cultivating doubts.

Every question generated many non-answered questions.  Every man is a philosopher once he starts jotting down coherent questions and then realizes that his “universe” is based on doubts.

Most of his questions have no satisfactory resolutions to constitute a perceived “structured comprehensive world” in his brain.

A philosopher sets out to devise a set of structural questions that he thinks are “logically deductive” in nature (it means that it would not be feasible to answer a previous question before resolving several basic questions). 

Thus, philosophers have been driven to accept a few fundamental “given” solutions, or “elemental facts,” or principles just to get going in their projects of building structured understanding of man and the universe.

Since Antiquity, philosophy (love of knowledge) was a catch-all term to represent all aspects of knowledge, including metaphysical concepts.  

Since sciences were barely founded on facts or empirical experiments (not appreciated within the dominant classes), except during the Islamic Golden Age (9th to 12th century), and after the “what is not measured should be measured” by Galileo in the 17th century, philosophers fundamentally based their structure on abstract premises and deductive logic.

This makes sense: Once knowledge is firmly grounded on empirical facts (assuming the design of the experiment is valid) then philosophy should take secondary place in rational societies.

Sure, the name and meaning of philosophy was lost in the absurd long gestation toward the advance of knowledge. 

The mathematician Descartes was the first European who tried to delimit boundaries between sciences and philosophy: Descartes differentiated between invariant primal impressions and secondary perceived variables. It was the period when sciences got ascendance over abstract philosophical structures.

Before the 16th century, Europe’s philosophical systems were towing sciences (principally natural sciences).

Descartes influence stems from differentiating between forms of realities/ “substances”.  The first kind of  substance is the mind which cannot be subdivided. Examples of such substances are the notions of time, space, and mass with which quantitative properties of an object can be measured. 

The second kind of substance or “extensions to the matter” represents the qualitative properties of an object such as color, smell, taste, and the like. 

Descartes division in forms and reality is being validated in equations: the right hand side and left hand side in any equation must be compatible with the same dimensions of time, space, and mass (what is known as compatibility in units of measurement). By the way, Descartes was a lousy philosopher but first-rate mathematician.

There are attempts at “refreshing” interest in philosophy by giving new names and labels to ancient philosophical schools and beginning with the prefix “neo-something”.  For example, we hear about neo-empiricism, neo-Marxism, neo-Darwinism, neo-materialism, neo-existentialism, analytical philosophy and so forth.

All these new lines of current philosophical structures have historical roots that reach to antiquity and pre-Socratic philosophers.

The new “refreshed” lines of thinking apply current scientific fields (such as anthropology, ethnology, archaeology, or sociology) to ancient philosophical systems to validate their contentions.

For example, current nuclear physicists are fundamentally pre-Socratic in their quest for the elemental matters; they want to be able to offer a satisfactory explanation of “what is matter?” This problem is thus a vital part of their “life’s philosophy”, the “essence” or an answer to the question “what is my nature”?

I conjecture that most universities have branches called “philosophy” or something related to logical processes: students need topics to write thesis and dissertations.

Sciences have taken over: they can extend answers to “what can be answered”.  

Sciences are far more efficient than philosophy: faulty answers go unnoticed very effectively.

There are very few practiced scientists, but every man think he is a philosopher: man can feel what’s wrong with a philosophical system, but he refrains to claim knowledge in sciences.

“Farewell Beirut” by late Mai Ghoussoub(book review, part 3)

Posted on December 4, 2008 (and written in Nov,16, 2008)

Note: Paragraphs in parentheses are my own interjections.

The third part of my review was hard and I delayed it too long because the demons that Mai is battling with are spread throughout the book.

I decided not to try to have a coherent or logical links among the different emotions that were troubling Mai, and I will leave it to the readers to do their own homework and reflections.

There are cases of transient insanity such as degraded human values, mocked tradition, and disobedience of State laws and rules.

For example, why we tend to be more lenient toward the rotten moral values of officials simply because they didn’t show rigidity in the mind? 

If we admit that “traitors” are the product of dictatorship and wars, and that this breed of people are present in locations fraught with danger (then most of us might have played the role of traitors under the right conditions).

People have the tendency to be more lenient with deficiency in morality than with extremist positions in ideologies and religious beliefs.

For example, burning witches is related to extreme social and religious dogmatism as a reaction for seeking consensus in an established social order. 

Heroes are not necessarily that honorable; take the case of this child who denounced his father, who helped a few Gulag prisoners to escape, to the soviet authorities and in return was awarded a medal of honor and much propaganda.

Take for example the French women who had sexual relationship with German officers during WWII and many of them begot offspring; they had their head shaven since hair is the most representative of female pride.

These head shaven ladies were the scapegoats to releasing the emotions of frustration and rage among the vanquished Parisians. The worst part is that the mothers brought their kids with them to watch this dishonoring ritual. The women watchers are badly dressed, which reflect a bad conscience in being part of the ceremony.

While the German used modern techniques to hide their genocide, the French “victors” adopted medieval means to humiliate and get revenge on the traitors and informers.

John Steinbeck said “We cannot take pictures of war, because war is fundamentally emotions“.

In our back head, we always have fears for the reaction of those we have persecuted.

The French star singer Arlettie reacted furiously and said “What! Are they also meddling in how we use our sex parts?”   Many women had to survive under siege and everyone according to his potentials and skills.

The Argentinean navy officer Adolfo Silingo said:

“I was responsible for killing 30 people with my own hands and I do not feel remorse or repentance because I was following orders, and I got used after the initial shock surprise. We knew that we were killing humans but we kept killing them!  The civilians were in a semi comatose state from torture and we threw them out of the airplane like puppy dolls.

Most of the navy contingents participated in these mass killings” Adolfo admitted. He is spending his life drunk on the streets trying to forget the “dirty war” during the dictatorship against his own people.

General Paul Tibits who dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima is not penitent.  These kinds of people were once considered heroes: how do you view them now?

Hannah Arendt would like to comprehend “Why these people did choose to stop thinking?

Brecht screamed in one of his plays “Woo to the nations that count too many heroes!

Simone Veil didn’t take it personal that she was incarcerated because she was Jew; she was interested to know “how people are propelled into a climate of condemning and defaming others

This question is pertinent “Is it legitimate to hide truth in order to secure social peace? How can we manage to forget, and yet not take chances, for the recurrence of the same sorts of atrocities?”

It is most difficult to find common denominators among the concepts of justice, moral values, and politics when judging cases of genocides.

Bertolt Brecht said: “Tragedies is about human suffering, expressed in less seriousness than comedies. The perpetrators of genocides are not great criminal politicians, but simple people who allowed horrifying political crimes to pass”

Note: The main theme in “Farewell Beirut” is “revenge” and the associated concepts of honor, genocides, nationalism, heroes, traitors, denouncers, martyrdom, punishment, hate, love and the fundamental human emotions that might be interpreted differently through the ages, and civilizations but where the moral values of wrong and right should not be left to personal matters of point of views.

Cases of “Historical Dialectics” of human and knowledge development

Posted on December 23, 2009

Dialectics is not only used to comprehend historical development of human/knowledge development but is basic in discussions and effective dialogues.

Hegel was first to introduce “dynamic logic” and used the term of historical dialectics as the interaction of an extreme opinion (thesis) that generates an opposite extreme counter opinion (antithesis) which results in a consensus (synthesis). 

Historical dialectics is a macro method for long range study and it does not explain the individual existential conditions (survival situations). 

Hegel offered dialectics as a method for explaining how human knowledge developed by constant struggle between contradictory concepts among philosophical groups. The purpose of his method was to demonstrate how the “universe of the spirit” or ideas managed to be raised in human consciousness.

Before I offer my version of knowledge development it might be useful to give a few examples of historical dialectics.

In Antiquity, the pre-Socratic philosophers were divided between the Eleatics or philosophers who claimed that change of primeval substances was impossible: we cannot rely on our senses. 

Heraclites reacted with his position that we can rely on our senses and that everything in the universe is in a state of flow and that no substance remains in its place.  

The synthesis came from Empedocles who claimed that we can rely on our senses but that what flow are the combination of substances, though the elementary particles do not change. 

The Sophists during Socrates were the paid teachers of the elite classes and tore down the mythological teaching of the period and focused on improving individual level of learning.

They were in effect in demand by a nascent City-State democracy of Athens that relied on a better educated society to participate in the political system.

Socrates reacted by proposing that there are fundamental truths, and that knowledge is Not an exercise in rhetorical discourse. The same dialectics worked between the world of ideas of Plato and the empirical method counterpoint of Aristotle.

In the Medieval period the Catholic Church set up a barrier or distance between God and man and forced people to believe that all knowledge emanates from God.  

The Renaissance man (wanting to be knowledgeable in many disciplines) reacted by promoting the concepts that God is in every element, that man is a complete microcosm of the universe, and that knowledge starts by observing nature and man.

Another example is the position of Descartes who established that rationalism was the main source for knowledge. 

David Hume responded by extending that empirical facts are generated from our senses that are the basis for knowledge.

Kant offered the synthesis that the senses are the primary sources for our impressions but it is our perceptual faculties that describe and view the world: there is a distinction between “matter” of knowledge or the “thing in itself” and “form” of knowledge or the “thing for me”. Kant became the point of departure for another chain of dialectical reflections.

Many philosophers used the dialectic methods to explaining other forms of development.  

Karl Marx wrote that Hegel used his method standing on its head instead of considering human material conditions. Marx claimed that “philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it”.

Thus, Marx defined three levels as basis of society: condition of production (mainly the geographic, natural resources, and climatic conditions), means of production (such as machineries and tools), and production relations (such as political institutions, division of labor, distribution of work and ownership).

Marx claimed that the main interactions are among the working class (the new slaving method of production) and the owners of the means of productions or the ruling class: it is this struggle that develop the spiritual progress

Another dialectical process is the extreme feminist political claims of equality between genders which brought about a consensus synthesis for a period.

My view of progress is based on the analogy of combination of two schemas:

The first schema is the coexistence of two strings of evolution (picture a DNA shape): the knowledge development (mainly technological) and the moral string (dominated mainly by religious ideologies).  

The second schema is represented by historical dialectic evolutions in the shape of helical cones. The time lengths of cycles for the two strings are not constant: the technological progress phase has shorter and shorter cycles while the moral string has longer cycles.

The two strings are intertwined and clashes frequently. 

When one string overshadow the other string in evolution then there are a slow counter-reaction culminating in stagnate status-quo phases between the two forces.

Technological or level of sustenance period has time length cycles that is shrinking at the top of the cone before the cone is inverted on its head so that the moral time length cycles start to increase and appears almost invariant (that what happened in the long Medieval period that stretched for over 11 centuries in Europe). Then the cone is reverted on its base for the next “rebirth” cycles (for example the Renaissance period that accelerated the knowledge string ascent).

Note 1: Currently, the technological progress is overwhelming and the mythological string is countering this vigorous cycle: Racism, apartheid, far-right exclusion organization and massive sanctions on entire people based on geopolitical antagonism…

The worst of time started when nature was considered a means to increase capitalism “profit” through massive exploitation of people and nature. Looks like the viability of Earth is on a trend of doom for most living species.

And technology is proven to be very limited in countering the weak moral trend of ignoring the foundation for our existence

Note 2: The Islamic empire that lasted 9 centuries also struggled between religious ideologies and rational thinking. This empire witnessed two short renaissance of the mind and generated countless scientific breakthrough that Medieval Europe tried hard to oppose and to translate.


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adonis49

adonis49

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