Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Monroe Doctrine

“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.

Andrew Jackson 7th President: The most powerful and popular President (1829-37) in the 19th century US history

Andrew Jackson founded the Democratic party and was the least educated of the former presidents.

Born on March 1767 in a small farm of South Carolina, he got engaged at 13 in the revolutionary troops. Orphaned at age 14, his education is cut short and multiplies the small jobs. He never applied to or attended a “university” but learned enough law to be admitted as lawyer in North Carolina in 1787.

In 1788, he is appointed district attorney general of what is currently known as Tennessee. He speculated and lost and was about to experience prison for defaulting. This adventure would mark Jackson and his apprehension for banking institutions.

Jackson is elected to the convention that discussed Tennessee Constitution and became the first representative of this State in Congress in 1796, then senator in 1797, and was appointed member of the Supreme Court of this State (1798-1804)

Jackson is elected militia chief of Tennessee and became a national hero during the 1812 war against England. The British troops entered the Capital of Washington DC and burned it.

He defeated the Indian Creeks before saving New Orleans from the British siege in January 1815.

Jackson confronted the Indian Seminole and colonized Spanish Florida. This non-declared offensive war, not approved by Congress, expanded the US territories to the east of Mississippi.

Jackson becomes governor of Florida in 1821. By 1823, he is a federal senator.

In the 1820’s, the debate over slavery in the opened western lands for colonization is raging. A sectional compromise is agreed upon: slavery is prohibited North of 36 degree and 30 minutes latitude and accepted south of this latitude. This consensus was the work of strong Congressmen such as Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster. President Monroe had no say in it.

The southern States import most of its consuming goods and reluctant on paying import taxes, while the northern States want to preserve and protect their industries from foreign competition.

Opposition to Federal financing of transportation infrastructure is another major hurdle to surmount.

The year 1819 experienced a financial crisis that halted the speculative trend in the newly expanded territories westward.

The latest creation of the second Bank of the USA in 1816, after the expiration term of the first national bank, is raising resentment.

Six of the new western States agree on the universal vote for all white citizens, and thus, you don’t need to be an owner of properties to vote. In 1828, 18 states have adopted this “democratic” voting system

The caucus system is still applied for the selection of the Presidential candidates: The political parties select their candidates, and consequently, only weak Presidents are selected to consolidate the power of the legislative body.

In 1823, the future President, John Quincy Adams was minister of foreign affairs and originated the Monroe Doctrine of the US neutrality in European affairs and guarding the American continent from any European incursions.

The Republican party is divided and refuse to abide by the caucus system. On July 20, 1822, Tennessee support the candidate Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson is first in popular votes but the 99 votes of Grand Electors is far short of the absolute majority of 131. The speaker of Congress Henry Clay managed to elect John Quincy Adams as 6th President.

The string of Presidents from Virginia is broken. Jackson resigns from the Senate and retires to his property at the Hermitage. Jackson’s friends are mobilized to forming the “Democratic Party” or the “men of Jackson” against the men of Adams. Jackson is promoted as the Man of the western frontier, a region that was in full expansion, in opposition to the elite classes of the East.

Jackson got 178 votes of the Grand Electors in 1828 and 647,000 popular votes against 508,000 for Adams. The popular vote broke the 50% in participation.

Jackson opposes his veto to the renewal of of the chart of the second Bank of the US in 1832, and take out the federal funds the next year. This second national bank held one quarter of the nation’s deposits and had the monopoly of keeping all federal funds.

Jackson uses the veto as  a weapon to oppose any law that does not serve the White House policies.

Jackson relies more on his “Kitchen Cabinet” formed of informal counselors and exercises for the first time the power of firing ministers and federal employees who are nominated by the President.

The French explorer and political analyst Alexis de Tocqueville coined the term “Jackson’s Democracy”, though only white males can vote. Jackson’s opponents called him “King Andrew”.

Jackson leave the White House on March 1837, but remained the most influential man until his death in 1845.

Jackson’s Democratic Party focused its identity around liberty of enterprises and States Rights facing a weakened Federal State.

The Whig opposition favors Federal financing of transport infrastructure, raising import taxes and a centralization of banking system.

The election of 1828 changed the caucus format to the national convention of the political parties that select the candidates and their vice presidents as a “ticket”. Consequently, you had to belong to a party in order to be a candidate.

Certain States adopt the concept of “winner-take-all” and others rely on the proportional system for sending delegate to the convention.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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