Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nietzsche

 

Philosophie : Qu est-ce que l’homme ?

Du latin humanitas, le terme se traduit par nature humaine, culture générale de l’esprit.

L’Humanitas est le caractère de ce qui est humain.  Elle désigne aussi « les hommes » en général, le genre humain considéré dans son unité.

La plupart des philosophes définissent comme humain tout être doué de raison. Qu’est-ce que l’homme ? est la question métaphysique par excellence. A noter également que la définition de l’homme préoccupe les scientifiques.

Chez les Grecs, le but de la philosophie était d’enseigner aux hommes comment devenir humain, c’est-à-dire comment “coller” à la nature humaine (et à ses vertus) alors que les modernes, depuis Nietzsche, ont déplacé la question de la manière suivante : Comment l’homme, en dehors de toute nature humaine, peut-il devenir lui-même, s’inventer en toute liberté  ?

Définitions de l’homme par les Philosophes :

– Simone de Beauvoir:

« L’humanité est une suite discontinue d’hommes libres qu’isole irrémédiablement leur subjectivité. »


– Husserl sur l’homme :

« Chaque figure spirituelle se situe par nature dans l’espace de l’histoire universelle […]. Ce procès fait apparaître l’humanité comme une unique vie embrassant hommes et peuples et liée seulement par des traits spirituels : elle enveloppe une multitude de type d’humanité et de culture, mais qui, par transitions insensibles, se fondent les uns dans les autres. »

– Nietzsche sur la notion d’homme et d’humanité :

« L’humanité ! Fut-il jamais entre toutes les vieilles, une vieille plus horrible (si ce n’est peut-être la vérité ; un problème à l’usage des philosophes ? »

“L’homme est une corde tendue entre l’animal et le Surhomme, une corde au-dessus d’un abîme” (Deja une vieille corde qui va se cassee’)

– Merleau-Ponty sur l’historicité de l’homme :

“L’homme est une idée historique et non pas une espèce naturelle”

– Sartre :

“L’homme n’est rien d’autre que son projet, il n’existe que dans la mesure où il se réalise, il n’est donc rien d’autre que l’ensemble” (extrait de l’existentialisme est un humanisme)

– Heidegger :

“L’homme est un être des lointains”

– Pascal :

“L’homme n’est qu’un roseau, le plus faible de la nature; mais c’est un roseau pensant. Il ne faut pas que l’univers entier s’arme pour l’écraser : une vapeur, une goutte d’eau suffit pour le tuer.

Mais quand l’univers l’écraserait , l’homme serait encore plus noble que ce qui le tue, parce qu’il sait qu’il meurt, et l’avantage que l’univers a sur lui, l’univers n’en sait rien” (explication du roseau pensant)

Lou Andreas-Salome by Francoise Giroud

Une histoire de femme libre

Loise, Loita, Lou Salome (1861-1937). She was compared to George Sand, half a century ago, for a free life style, though Sand had a richer gamut of emotions and engagement.

She could lead this kind of life because she received a monthly stipend from the Russian government due to her officer of a father.

Lou got close relationships with Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, Freud, Paul Ree, Heinrich Gillot, Zemek (Friedrich Pineless, a Danish neurologist who was 7 years younger)…

Before the age of 35, Lou never engaged in love making: She was anorexic, flat chested, and had probably bad experiences in physical contacts with her brothers and father (incest?).

After the age of 35, she got totally in sexual activities, mostly with younger men.

Zemek was the first man she shared sexual intercourse with and she confined to Ernst Pfeiffer at a late age: (Zemek) was the man she feels most ashamed of (the muddy routes of sensuality?)

She decided to marry Andreas, a professor of Oriental and Central languages at the university of Gottingen where she settle down till her death.

Each Spring, Lou would travel around Europe, tackled by Zemek, until he was sick and tired of carrying around her luggage while she had sweet eyes to the young boys.

She wrote: Natural love is based on the principle of infidelity (like many animals?)

Lou could Not dissociate love from spirituality: Sexual Love must be short and fugitive: Must be regenerated at each amorous fiesta.

She never had the courage to put in this world a human being: We had to be more than ourselves, a course of living that requires immense focus.

At the age of 50, she gets initiated to psycho-analysis around 1912.

She landed in Vienna in August 1912 in order to attend the Wednesday sessions of Freud disciples

Freud mentioned that that her stay in Vienna may have been the most exciting and fruitful period in her destiny.

Lou and Freud had frequent and lengthy correspondence for many years.  They started the trend of exchanging portraits.

She disagreed with Freud on the subject of narcissism.

She practiced psycho-analysis during and after the WWI in Russia and invested many hours treating soldiers of their trauma.

She adopted Marienchen, an illegitimate girl of her husband, and made her heritiere.

Her abundant correspondence and articles were Not translated from German. Such as “Anal und sexual, 1916”, “Creation of God”, My life, Love of narcissism, Eros.

Fenitchka and Rodinka were translated.

Lou might have destroyed many lives (men committing suicide, like Victor Tausk, Paul Ree…) and laid waste to many marriages, but her company was stimulating.

Men felt larger in her presence and she delivered them from their strong personality, though she was never delivered herself from her personality

White debt. Forgotten debt.

Confusing whiteness with ownership

Confusing the difference between compliance and complicity

Tacit Laws, tailor-made for white people

The power to punish. (Privilege: Private law)

The word for debt in German also means guilt. A friend who used to live in Munich mentioned this to me recently. I took note because I’m newly in debt, quite a lot of it, from buying a house.

So far, my debt is surprisingly comfortable, and that’s one quality of debt that I’ve been pondering lately — how easy it can be.

I had very little furniture for the first few months in my new house and no money left to buy any. But then I took out a loan against my down payment, and now I have a dining-room table, six chairs and a piano.

While I was in the bank signing the paperwork that would allow me to spend money I hadn’t yet earned, I thought of Eddie Murphy’s skit in which he goes undercover as a white person and discovers that white people at banks give away money to other white people free.

It’s true, I thought to myself in awe when I saw the ease with which I was granted another loan, though I understood — and, when my mortgage was sold to another lender, was further reminded — that the money was not being given to me free.

I was, and am, paying for it. But that detail, like my debt, is easily forgotten.

‘‘Only something that continues to hurt stays in the memory,’’ Nietzsche observes in ‘‘On the Genealogy of Morality.’’

My student-loan debt doesn’t hurt, though it hasn’t seemed to have gotten any smaller over the past decade, and I’ve managed to forget it so thoroughly that I recently told someone that I’d never been in debt until I bought a house.

Creditors of antiquity, Nietzsche writes, tried to encourage a debtor’s memory by taking as collateral his freedom, wife, life or even, as in Egypt, his afterlife.

Legal documents outlined exactly how much of the body of the debtor that the creditor could cut off for unpaid debts.

Consider the odd logic, Nietzsche suggests, of a system in which a creditor is repaid not with money or goods but with the pleasure of seeing the debtor’s body punished. ‘‘The pleasure,’’ he writes, ‘‘of having the right to exercise power over the powerless

The power to punish, Nietzsche notes, can enhance your sense of social status, increasing the pleasure of cruelty.

Reading this, I recall a white Texas trooper’s encounter with the black woman he pulled over for failure to signal a lane change. As the traffic stop became a confrontation that ended with Sandra Bland face down on the side of the road, she asked Brian Encinia, over and over, whether what he was doing made him feel good. ‘‘You feelin’ good about yourself?’’ she asked.

‘‘Don’t it make you feel good, Officer Encinia?’’ After asking the same question Nietzsche asked, the question of why justice would take this form, she came to the same conclusion.

When I was 19, the head of my college’s campus police escorted me to an interview with the Amherst Police.

The previous night, a friend and I had pasted big posters of bombs that read ‘‘Bomb the Suburbs’’ all over the town. ‘‘Bomb the Suburbs’’ is the title of a book by William Upski Wimsatt, whom we had invited to speak on campus.

The first question the Amherst Police asked was whether I was aware that graffiti and ‘‘tagging,’’ a category that included the posters, was punishable as a felony. I was not aware.

Near the end of the interrogation, my campus officer stepped in and suggested that we would clean up the posters. I was not charged with a felony, and I spent the day working side by side with my officer, using a wire brush to scrub all the bombs off Amherst.

Twenty years later, I tried to watch a video of a black man being shot in the head by a University of Cincinnati campus police officer.

I didn’t want to see it, but then I thought of Emmett Till’s mother asking the country to see her son’s body and mourn with her, so I searched for the video. But I didn’t get past the first frame, because the Chicago Tribune website ran an Acura commercial after I hit play, and the possibility that the shooting death of Samuel DuBose in his old Honda was serving as an opportunity to sell Acuras made me close the window.

With the long, slow pan across the immaculate interior of a new car on my mind, I reconsidered the justice behind my own encounter with a campus police officer.

The word ‘‘privilege,’’ composed of the Latin words for private and law, describes a legal system in which not everyone is equally bound, a system in which the law that makes graffiti a felony does not apply to a white college student.

Even as the police spread photos of my handiwork in front of me, I could tell by the way they pronounced ‘‘tagging’’ that it wasn’t a crime invented for me.

I was subject less to the law as it was written than I was to the private laws of whiteness. When the laws that bind a community apply differently to different members of the community, as Bettina Bergo and Tracey Nicholls write in their 2015 collection of essays, ‘‘I Don’t See Color,’’ then privilege ‘‘undermines the solidarity of the community.’’ And that, in turn, undermines us all.

‘‘The Condition of Black Life is One of Mourning’’ is the title of an essay Claudia Rankine wrote for The New York Times Magazine after the Charleston church massacre.

Sitting with her essay in front of me, I asked myself what the condition of white life might be. I wrote ‘‘complacence’’ on a blank page. Hearing the term ‘‘white supremacist’’ in the wake of that shooting had given me another occasion to wonder whether white supremacists are any more dangerous than regular white people, who tend to enjoy supremacy without believing in it.

After staring at ‘‘complacence’’ for quite a long time, I looked it up and discovered that it didn’t mean exactly what I thought it meant. ‘‘A feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements’’ might be an apt description of the dominant white attitude, but that’s more active than what I had in mind.

I thought ‘‘complacence’’ meant sitting there in your house, neither smug nor satisfied, just lost in the illusion of ownership.

This is an illusion that depends on forgetting the redlining, block busting, racial covenants, contract buying, loan discrimination, housing projects, mass incarceration, predatory lending and deed thefts that have prevented so many black Americans from building wealth the way so many white Americans have, through homeownership.

I erased ‘‘complacence’’ and wrote ‘‘complicity.’’ I erased it. ‘‘Debt,’’ I wrote. Then, ‘‘forgotten debt.’’

I read several hundred pages of ‘‘Little House on the Prairie’’ to my 5-year-old son one day when he was home sick from school. Near the end of the book, when the Ingalls family is reckoning with the fact that they built their little house illegally on Indian Territory, and just after an alliance between tribes has been broken by a disagreement over whether or not to attack the settlers, Laura watches the Osage abandoning their annual buffalo hunt and leaving Kansas.

Her family will leave, too. At this point, my son asked me to stop reading. ‘‘Is it too sad?’’ I asked. ‘‘No,’’ he said, ‘‘I just don’t need to know any more.’’ After a few moments of silence, he added, ‘‘I wish I was French.’’

The Indians in ‘‘Little House’’ are French-speaking, so I understood that my son was saying he wanted to be an Indian.

‘‘I wish all that didn’t happen,’’ he said. And then: ‘‘But I want to stay here, I love this place. I don’t want to leave.’’ He began to cry, and I realized that when I told him ‘‘Little House’’ was about the place where we live, meaning the Midwest, he thought I meant it was about the town where we live and the house we had just bought.

Our house is not that little house, but we do live on the wrong side of what used to be an Indian boundary negotiated by a treaty that was undone after the 1830 Indian Removal Act.

We live in Evanston, Ill., named after John Evans, who founded the university where I teach and defended the Sand Creek massacre as necessary to the settling of the West.

What my son was expressing — that he wants the comfort of what he has but that he is uncomfortable with how he came to have it — is one conundrum of whiteness.

‘‘Tell me again about the liar who lied about a lie,’’ my son said recently. It took me a moment to register that he meant Rachel Dolezal. He had heard me talking about her with Noel Ignatiev, author of ‘‘How the Irish Became White.’’

I had said: ‘‘She might be a liar, but she’s a liar who lied about a lie. The original fraud was not hers.’’ Because I was talking to Noel, who sent me to James Baldwin’s essay ‘‘On Being White … and Other Lies’’ when I was in college, I didn’t have to clarify that the lie I was referring to was the idea that there is any such thing as a Caucasian race.

Dolezal’s parents had insisted to reporters that she was ‘‘Caucasian’’ by birth, though she is not from the Caucasus region, which includes contemporary Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Outside that context, the word ‘‘Caucasian’’ is a flimsy and fairly meaningless product of the 18th-century pseudoscience that helped invent a white race.

Whiteness is not a kinship or a culture.

White people are no more closely related to one another, genetically, than we are to black people.

American definitions of race allow for a white woman to give birth to black children, which should serve as a reminder that white people are not a family.

What binds us is that we share a system of social advantages that can be traced back to the advent of slavery in the colonies that became the United States. ‘‘There is, in fact, no white community,’’ as Baldwin writes. Whiteness is not who you are. Which is why it is entirely possible to despise whiteness without disliking yourself.

Even as I said this, I knew that he would be encouraged, at every juncture in his life, to believe wholeheartedly in the power of his own hard work and deservedness, to ignore inequity, to accept that his sense of security mattered more than other people’s freedom and to agree, against all evidence, that a system that afforded him better housing, better education, better work and better pay than other people was inherently fair.

My son’s first week in kindergarten was devoted entirely to learning rules.

At his school, obedience is rewarded with fake money that can be used, at the end of the week, to buy worthless toys that break immediately. Welcome to capitalism, I thought when I learned of this system, which produced, that week, a yo-yo that remained stuck at the bottom of its string.

The principal asked all the parents to submit a signed form acknowledging that they had discussed the Code of Conduct with their children, but I didn’t sign the form. Instead, my son and I discussed the civil rights movement, and I reminded him that not all rules are good rules and that unjust rules must be broken.

This was, I now see, a somewhat unhinged response to the first week of kindergarten. I know that schools need rules, and I am a teacher who makes rules, but I still want my son to know the difference between compliance and complicity.

For me, whiteness is not an identity but a moral problem.

Becoming black is not the answer to the problem of whiteness, though I sympathize with the impulse, as does Noel. ‘‘Imagine the loneliness of those who, born to a group they regard as unjust and oppressive and not wanting to be part of that group, are left on their own to figure their way out,’’ Noel wrote recently in his own narrative, ‘‘Passing,’’ the story of how he left a lower-middle-class family and a college education to work in factories for the next 23 years.

I met Noel after he left the factories for Harvard, when he was the editor, with John Garvey, of a journal called Race Traitor.

In it, I read about groups of volunteers who worked in shifts using video cameras to record police misconduct in their cities. I read about the school-board member who challenged the selection practices that had produced, in a district where only 22 percent of the students were white, a gifted program in which 81 percent of the students were white.

Race Traitor articulated for me the possibility that a person who looks white can refuse to act white, meaning refuse to collude with the injustices of the law-enforcement system and the educational system, among other things. This is what Noel called ‘‘new abolitionism.’’ John Brown was his model, and the institution he was intent on abolishing was whiteness.

Refusing to collude in injustice is, I’ve found, easier said than done.

Collusion is written onto our way of life, and nearly every interaction among white people is an invitation to collusion.

Being white is easy, in that nobody is expected to think about being white, but this is exactly what makes me uneasy about it. Without thinking, I would say that believing I am white doesn’t cost me anything, that it’s pure profit, but I suspect that isn’t true.

I suspect whiteness is costing me, as Baldwin would say, my moral life.

And whiteness is costing me my community. It is the wedge driven between me and my neighbors, between me and other mothers, between me and other workers. I know there’s more too.

I have written and erased a hundred sentences here, trying and failing to articulate something that I can sense but not yet speak. Like a bad loan, the kind in which the payments increase over time, the price of whiteness remains hidden behind its promises.

‘‘Her choice to give up whiteness was a privilege,’’ Michael Jeffries wrote of Dolezal in The Boston Globe. Noel said to me, ‘‘If giving up whiteness is a privilege, what do you call hanging on to it?’’

As Dolezal surrendered her position in the N.A.A.C.P. and lost her teaching job, I thought of the white police officers who killed unarmed black people and kept their jobs.

That the penalty for disowning whiteness appears to be more severe than the penalty for killing a black person says something about what our culture holds dear.

The moral concept of Schuld (‘‘guilt’’), Nietzsche wrote, ‘‘descends from the very material concept of Schulden (‘debts’).’’ Material debt predates moral debt. The point he is making is that guilt has its source not in some innate sense of justice, not in God, but in something as base as commerce.

Nietzsche has the kind of disdain for guilt that many people now reserve for ‘‘white guilt’’ in particular. We seem to believe that the crime is not investing in whiteness but feeling badly about it.

Even before I started reading Nietzsche, I had the uncomfortable suspicion that my good life, my house and my garden and the ‘‘good’’ public school my son attends, might not be entirely good. Even as I painted my walls and planted my tomatoes and attended parent-teacher conferences last year, I was pestered by the possibility that all this was built on a bedrock of evil and that evil was running through our groundwater.

But I didn’t think in exactly those terms because the word ‘‘evil’’ is not usually part of my vocabulary — I picked it up from Nietzsche.

‘‘Evil’’ is how slaves describe their masters. In Nietzsche’s telling, Roman nobles called their way of life ‘‘good,’’ while their Jewish slaves called the same way of life ‘‘evil.’’ The invention of the concept of evil was, according to Nietzsche, a kind of power grab.

It was an attempt by the powerless to undermine the powerful. More power to them, I think.

But Nietzsche and I disagree on this, among other things. Like many white people, he regards guilt as a means of manipulation, a killjoy. Those who resent the powerful, he writes, use guilt to undermine their power and rob them of their pleasure in life. And this, I believe, is what makes guilt potentially redemptive.

Guilt is what makes a good life built on evil no longer good.

I have a memory of the writer Sherman Alexie cautioning me against this way of thinking. I remember him saying, ‘‘White people do crazy [expletive] when they feel guilty.’’ That I can’t dispute.

Guilty white people try to save other people who don’t want or need to be saved, they make grandiose, empty gestures, they sling blame, they police the speech of other white people and they dedicate themselves to the fruitless project of their own exoneration.

But I’m not sure any of that is worse than what white people do in denial. Especially when that denial depends on a constant erasure of both the past and the present.

Once you’ve been living in a house for a while, you tend to begin to believe that it’s yours, even though you don’t own it yet. When those of us who are convinced of our own whiteness deny our debt, this may be an inevitable result of having lived for so long in a house bought on credit but never paid off.

We ourselves have never owned slaves, we insist, and we never say the n-word. ‘‘It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill,’’ Coates writes of Americans, ‘‘and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear.’’

A guilty white person is usually imagined as someone made impotent by guilt, someone rendered powerless. But why not imagine guilt as a prod, a goad, an impetus to action?

Isn’t guilt an essential cog in the machinery of the conscience? When I search back through my correspondence with Sherman Alexie, I find him insisting that we can’t afford to disempower white people because we need them to empower the rest of us. White people, he proposes, have the political power to make change exactly because they are white.

I once feared buying a house because I didn’t want to be owned. I had saved money with no purpose in mind other than the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Now I’m bound to this house, though I’m still free to lose it if I choose.

But that isn’t the version of freedom that interests me at the moment. I’m more compelled by a freedom that would allow me to deserve what I have. Call it liberation, maybe. If debt can be repaid incrementally, resulting eventually in ownership, perhaps so can guilt.

What is the condition of white life?

We are moral debtors who act as material creditors. Our banks make bad loans. Our police, like Nietzsche’s creditors, act out their power on black bodies.

And, as I see in my own language, we confuse whiteness with ownership. For most of us, the police aren’t ‘‘ours’’ any more than the banks are. When we buy into whiteness, we entertain the delusion that we’re business partners with power, not its minions. And we forget our debt to ourselves.

Correction: December 13, 2015
An article on Dec. 6 about race and the moral issues that come with being white in America misidentified the source of a quote from the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. His comments about slaves being “the down payment” on America’s independence, and freed slaves becoming “this country’s second mortgage” following the Civil War, came from his book “Between the World and Me,” not from an article he wrote for The Atlantic.

 

No Place to Hide? When investigative journalists are prosecuted for divulging secret government illegal actions

Machiavelli wrote in The Prince:

The character of the common people is mobile and easy to lead to an opinion. The real problem for the power-to-be is how to maintain this character, how to force the common people to believe when they cease to believe in the opinion of the powerful.

Nietzsche wrote in Beyond Good and Evil:

The key word for those keen minds of conscientious people working on secret projects is: How to Trespass morality.

Roland Barthes wrote:

Fascism is to pressure people to express the opinions of the rulers

From a 1975 statement of Senator Frank Church to the committees of the  intelligence agencies:

“The US government has perfected a tech capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air…

That capability could at any time turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left…

Such is the capability to monitor everything, telephone conversations, telegram…it doesn’t matter.

There would be No Place to Hide”

This monitoring capability has extended to internet, social platforms, mobile phones, public and private video cameras, satellite imaging, instant location capturing features…

The US government strategy, backed by Congressmen, Senators and leading journalists… was to mute Glenn Greenwald bold and direct reporting on the widespread surveillance on everyone (collective data gathering). The strategy was to label Glenn as just another blogger and an activist. Why?

Journalists in the US and in many other States have formal and unwritten legal protection that are unavailable to any one else when they reveal secret intelligence pieces through their job of investigative reporting.

Thus, robbing Glenn from this status of journalist was to expose him to legal criminal harassment.

For example, the misleading claims that he is:

1. A co-conspirator working with sources to obtain document

2. Establishing a covert communication plan to speak without being detected with sources

3. Employing flattery and playing to the sources’ vanity and ego to persuade the source to leak secrets documents

are routine tactics within the job description and methods of investigative journalists, but would not cover bloggers and activists.

Leonard Downie Jr. former executive editor of the Wash. Post, wrote in the name of the Committee to protect Journalists:

“The Obama Administration war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive since the Nixon Adm.  The 30 experienced Wash Journalists at a variety of news organizations interviewed for the report could not remember any precedent (on this scale)”

“The Obama Adm. had crossed a red line that no other administration has crossed before and blown right past” said Jane Mayer in the New republic. It is a huge impediment to reporting and beyond chilling. It’s more like freezing the whole process into a standstill”

Even the NYTimes reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, who had fought all the way to the US Supreme Court in order to publish the Pentagon Papers, advocated the arrest of Glenn.

No one in the US dared confirm any “informal assurance” that Glenn would not be prosecuted if he lands in the USA.

The US government was ready to concoct a theory that Greenwald’s repeated meetings with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and in Russia and publishing reports on a “freelance basis” with newspapers around the world do fall under the criminal law of “aided and abetted” Snowden in his leaks and helped a “fugitive” flee justice or that the reports constituted some type of espionage.

It is evident that the security state in the USA is more powerful than the highest elected officials and do boast a wide array of influential loyalists.

So what kinds of reforms are necessary to check this wave of collective meta-data collection surveillance on people and institutions?

1. Targeted surveillance backed with substantial evidence of real wrongdoing

2. This “Collect it all” approach and indiscriminate mass surveillance is constitutionally illegal.

3. Using metadata analysis technique has not produced or disclosed a single terrorist plot: This a terrible burden on the budget dedicated to hiring specialized data analysts who have no clue on how to handle their job.

4. The government must provide some evidence of probable cause of wrongdoing before listening to a person conversations. That’s the job of FISA court.

5. FISA court. must be reformed so that it is not used as a rubber stamp. Converting FISA court into a real judicial system would be a positive first step in the reform

6. This trend of co-opting entities by the national security state badly needs an oversight control system to tame its abuses.

7. Building a new Internet infrastructure so that all the communication traffics have no longer to transit through the US network. European tech companies are spewing alternative special platforms to Google and Facebook intended Not to provide data to the NSA

8. More encryption programs and browsing-anonymity tools are being designed for users working in sensitive jobs such as journalists, lawyers, civil rights advocate organizations…

9. Advancing government transparency reforms

Whistle-blowers have learned that speaking the truth does not necessarily destroy their life: The side of supporters has grown immensely and are promoting the human capacity to reason and make decisions outside the boundaries of government status quo.

Note: Glenn Greenwald published 4 books. Among them:

1. With Liberty and Justice for some

2. A Tragic Legacy

3. No place to hide

He published Edward Snowden secret stories in The Guardian before co-founding the investigative publication The Intercept

The Gift of Doubt, Albert O. Hirschman and the power of failure.

In the mid-nineteenth century, work began on a crucial section of the railway line connecting Boston to the Hudson River. The addition would run from Greenfield, Massachusetts, to Troy, New York, and it required tunneling through Hoosac Mountain, a nearly five-mile thick impediment, that blocked passage between the Deerfield Valley and a tributary of the Hudson.

James Hayward, one of New England’s leading railroad engineers, estimated that penetrating the Hoosac would cost, at most, a very manageable $2 million.

The president of Amherst College, an accomplished geologist, said that the mountain was composed of soft rock and that tunneling would be fairly easy once the engineers had breached the surface. “The Hoosac . . . is believed to be the only barrier between Boston and the Pacific,” the project’s promoter, Alvah Crocker, declared.

 published in The New Yorker this June 24, 2013:

Everyone was wrong. Digging through the Hoosac turned out to be a nightmare. The project cost more than ten times the budgeted estimate.

If the people involved had known the true nature of the challenges they faced, they would never have funded the Troy-Greenfield railroad. But, had they not, the factories of northwestern Massachusetts wouldn’t have been able to ship their goods so easily to the expanding West, the cost of freight would have remained stubbornly high, and the State of Massachusetts would have been immeasurably poorer. So is ignorance an impediment to progress or a precondition for it?

The economist Albert O. Hirschman, who died last December, loved paradoxes like this. He was a “planner,” the kind of economist who conceives of grand infrastructure projects and bold schemes. But his eye was drawn to the many ways in which plans did not turn out the way they were supposed to—to unintended consequences and perverse outcomes and the puzzling fact that the shortest line between two points is often a dead end.

Hirschman was a planner who saw virtue in the fact that nothing went as planned. Illustration by Ricardo Martinez.

Hirschman was a planner who saw virtue in the fact that nothing went as planned. Illustration by Ricardo Martinez.

“The Principle of the Hiding Hand,” one of Hirschman’s many memorable essays, drew on an account of the Troy-Greenfield “folly,” and then presented an even more elaborate series of paradoxes. Hirschman had studied the enormous Karnaphuli Paper Mills, in what was then East Pakistan.

The mill was built to exploit the vast bamboo forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. But not long after the mill came online, the bamboo unexpectedly flowered and then died, a phenomenon now known to recur every 50 years or so. Dead bamboo was useless for pulping; it fell apart as it was floated down the river.

Because of ignorance and bad planning, a new, multimillion-dollar industrial plant was suddenly without the raw material it needed to function.

But what impressed Hirschman was the response to the crisis.

The mill’s operators quickly found ways to bring in bamboo from villages throughout East Pakistan, building a new supply chain using the country’s many waterways. They started a research program to find faster-growing species of bamboo to replace the dead forests, and planted an experimental tract. They found other kinds of lumber that worked just as well. The result was that the plant was blessed with a far more diversified base of raw materials than had ever been imagined.

If bad planning hadn’t led to the crisis at the Karnaphuli plant, the mill’s operators would never have been forced to be creative. And the plant would not have been nearly as valuable as it became.

“We may be dealing here with a general principle of action,” Hirschman wrote:

Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. We would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming.

Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.

And from there Hirschman’s analysis took flight. People don’t seek out challenges “They are “apt to take on and plunge into new tasks because of the erroneously presumed absence of a challenge—because the task looks easier and more manageable than it will turn out to be.

This was the Hiding Hand principle—a play on Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. The entrepreneur takes risks but does not see himself as a risk-taker, because he operates under the useful delusion that what he’s attempting is not risky. Then, trapped in mid-mountain, people discover the truth—and, because it is too late to turn back, they’re forced to finish the job.

“We have ended up here with an economic argument strikingly paralleling Christianity’s oft expressed preference for the repentant sinner over the righteous man who never strays from the path,” Hirschman wrote in this essay from 1967. Success grew from failure:

And essentially the same idea, even though formulated, as one might expect, in a vastly different spirit, is found in Nietzsche’s famous maxim, “That which does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” This sentence admirably epitomizes several of the histories of economic development projects in recent decades.

As was nearly always the case with Hirschman’s writing, he made his argument without mathematical formulas or complex models. His subject was economics, but his spirit was literary. He drew on Brecht, Kafka, Freud, Flaubert, La Rochefoucauld, Montesquieu, Montaigne, and Machiavelli, not to mention Homer—he had committed huge sections of the Odyssey to memory.

The pleasure of reading Hirschman comes not only from the originality of his conclusions but also from the delightfully idiosyncratic path he took to them. Consider this, from the same essay (and, remember, this is an economist who’s writing):

“While we are rather willing and even eager and relieved to agree with a historian’s finding that we stumbled into the more shameful events of history, such as war, we are correspondingly unwilling to concede—in fact we find it intolerable to imagine—that our more lofty achievements, such as economic, social or political progress, could have come about by stumbling rather than through careful planning. . . . Language itself conspires toward this sort of asymmetry: we fall into error, but do not usually speak of falling into truth.

Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman” (Princeton), by the Princeton historian Jeremy Adelman, is a biography worthy of the man. Adelman brilliantly and beautifully brings Hirschman to life, giving us an unforgettable portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary intellectuals.

Hirschman was born in Berlin in 1915, into a prosperous family of Jewish origin. His father was a surgeon, and the family lived in the embassy district, near the Tiergarten. Hirschman was slender and handsome, in the mold of Albert Camus. He dressed elegantly, danced skillfully, spoke half a dozen languages, and had a special affection for palindromes.

He was absent-minded and distracted. While lecturing, Adelman writes, “He rambled. He mumbled. Mid-sentence, he would pause, his right hand supporting his chin, his eyes drifting upward to fasten on a spot on the ceiling.” He would call his wife upon taking his car somewhere because—as he once said—“I do not know how to put it among two other cars on the sidewalk.” “When you spoke to him,” a friend said, “it was sometimes five or ten seconds before he would show any sign of having heard you.” He was also deeply charming when he put his mind to it.

The great influence on Hirschman’s life was his brother-in-law, the Italian intellectual Eugenio Colorni. Colorni and Hirschman were as close as siblings, and when Colorni was killed by Fascist thugs in Rome, during the Second World War, Hirschman was inconsolable. Adelman writes:

“Colorni believed that doubt was creative because it allowed for alternative ways to see the world, and seeing alternatives could steer people out of intractable circles and self-feeding despondency. Doubt, in fact, could motivate: freedom from ideological constraints opened up political strategies, and accepting the limits of what one could know liberated agents from their dependence on the belief that one had to know everything before acting, that conviction was a precondition for action.

The phrase that Hirschman and Colorni would repeat to each other was that they hoped to “prove Hamlet wrong.” Hamlet shouldn’t have been frozen by his doubts; he should have been freed by them. Hamlet took himself too seriously. He thought he needed to be perfect. Colorni and Hirschman didn’t. Courage, Colorni wrote, required the willingness “to always be on guard against oneself.”

Doubt didn’t mean disengagement.

In the summer of 1936, Hirschman volunteered to fight in Spain on the side of the Loyalists, against General Franco’s German-backed Fascists. He was twenty-one and living in Paris, having just got back from studying at the London School of Economics. He was among the first wave of German and Italian volunteers to take the train to Barcelona. “When I heard that there was even a possibility to do something,” Hirschman said, “I went.”

Hirschman rarely spoke about what happened in Spain. Decades later, Adelman recounts, Albert and his wife, Sarah, went to see a film about the Spanish Civil War. Afterward, Sarah asked Albert, “Was it like that?” His response was a deft non-response: “Yeah, that was a pretty good film.” On this subject, as on a few others, Sarah felt a certain reticence in her husband. Still, as Adelman remarks, “the scars on his neck and leg made it impossible for her to forget.”

Adelman interprets Hirschman’s silence as disenchantment: “The endless debate rehearsed in Berlin and Paris over left-wing tactics was more than a farce, it was a tragedy of epic proportions.

Hirschman saw the Communists move in and, in his mind, the spirit of the cause became contaminated. It broke his heart. But Hirschman would come to recognize that action fueled by doubt allows for failures to be left behind. Spain was a tragedy, but it was also, for him, an experiment, and experiments go awry.

Hirschman liked to say that he had “a propensity to self-subversion.” He even gave one of his books that title. He qualified and questioned and hedged as a matter of habit. He never trusted himself enough to indulge in grand theorizing. He pursued the “petite idée,” the attempt, as he said, “to come to an understanding of reality in portions, admitting that the angle may be subjective.”

Once, when a World Bank director sent him a paper that referred to the “Hirschman Doctrine,” Hirschman replied, “Unfortunately (or, I rather tend to think, fortunately), there is no Hirschman school of economic development and I cannot point to a large pool of disciples where one might fish out someone to work with you along those lines.”

Hirschman spent his career in constant motion.

After doing graduate training in London and Italy, fighting in Spain, and spending the first part of the war in France, he left for the United States, by which point he had begun to lose track of his own movements. “This makes my fourth—or is it fifth?—emigration,” he wrote to his mother. He accepted a fellowship at Berkeley (where he met the woman he would marry, Sarah Chapiro, another émigré), did a tour of duty for the O.S.S. in North Africa and Europe, and, with the war concluded, served a stint at the Federal Reserve Board, where he grew so unhappy that he would return home to his wife and two daughters in Chevy Chase, shut the door to his study, and bury himself in Kafka.

He worked for the Marshall Plan in Washington, providing, Adelman says, “the thinking behind the thinking,” only to be turned down for a transfer to Paris because of a failed national-security review. He was in his mid-thirties. On a whim, he packed up the family and moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where he worked on a project for the World Bank.

He crisscrossed Colombia with, Adelman writes, “pen in hand and paper handy, examining irrigation projects, talking to local bankers about their farm loans, and scribbling calculations about the costs of road building.”

Writing to her parents about the family’s decision to move to Colombia, which was then in the midst of a civil war, Sarah explained, “We both realize that you should think of the future—make plans for the children etc. But I think we both somehow feel that it is impossible to know what is best and that the present is so much more important—because if the present is solid and good it will be a surer basis for a good future than any plans that you can make.”

Most people would not have left a home in Chevy Chase and the security of a job in Washington to go to a Third World country where armed gangsters roamed the streets, because they would feel certain that Colombia was a mistake. Hirschman believed, as a matter of principle, that it was impossible to know whether Colombia would be a mistake.

As it happened, the 4 years the family spent in Bogotá were among its happiest. Hirschman returned to Latin America again and again during his career, and what he learned there provided the raw material for his most brilliant work. His doubt was a gift, not a curse.

Hirschman published his first important book, “The Strategy of Economic Development,” in 1958. He had returned from Colombia by then and was at Yale, and the book was an attempt to make sense of his experience of watching a country try to lift itself out of poverty.

At the time, he was reading deeply in the literature of psychology and psychoanalysis, and he became fascinated with the functional uses of negative emotions: frustration, aggression, and, in particular, anxiety. Obstacles led to frustration, and frustration to anxiety. No one wanted to be anxious. But wasn’t anxiety the most powerful motivator—the emotion capable of driving even the most reluctant party toward some kind of solution?

In the field of developmental economics, this was heretical. When people from organizations like the World Bank descended on Third World countries, they always tried to remove obstacles to development, to reduce economic anxiety and uncertainty. They wanted to build bridges and roads and airports and dams to insure that businesses and entrepreneurs encountered as few impediments as possible to growth. But, as Hirschman thought about case studies like the Karnaphuli Paper Mills and the Troy-Greenfield folly, he became convinced that his profession had it backward. His profession ought to embrace anxiety, and not seek to remove it.

As he wrote in a follow-up essay to “The Strategy of Economic Development”:

“Law and order and the absence of civil strife seem to be obvious preconditions for the gradual and patient accumulation of skills, capital and investors’ confidence that must be the foundation for economic progress. We are now told, however, that the presence of war-like Indians in North America and the permanent conflict between them and the Anglo-Saxon settlers was a great advantage, because it made necessary methodical, well-planned, and gradual advances toward an interior which always remained in close logistic and cultural contact with the established communities to the East.

In Brazil, on the contrary, the back-lands were open and virtually uncontested; the result was that once an excessively vast area had been occupied in an incredibly brief time span the pioneers became isolated and regressed economically and culturally.

The impulse of the developmental economist in those days would have been to remove the “impediments” to growth—to swoop in and have some powerful third party deal with the “war-like Indians.” But that would have turned North America into Brazil, and the pioneers would never have been forced to develop methodical, well-planned advances in logistical contact with the East.

Developing countries required more than capital.

They needed practice in making difficult economic decisions. Economic progress was the product of successful habits—and there is no better teacher, Hirschman felt, than a little adversity.

Hirschman would rather encourage settlers and entrepreneurs at the grass-roots level—and make them learn how to cope with those impediments themselves—than run the risk that aid might infantilize its recipient. He loved to tell the story of how, at a dinner party in a Latin American country, he struggled to track down the telephone number of a fellow-academic: “I asked whether there might be a chance that X would be listed in the telephone directory; this suggestion was shrugged off with the remark that the directory makes a point of listing only people who have either emigrated or died. . . . The economist said that X must be both much in demand and hard to reach, as several people had inquired about how to get in touch with him within the past few days. The subject was dropped as hopeless, and everybody spent a pleasant evening.”

Back in his hotel room, Hirschman looked in the phone book, found his friend’s number, and got him on the line immediately.

A few years after publishing “The Strategy of Economic Development,” Hirschman was invited by the World Bank to conduct a survey of some of its projects. He drew up his own itinerary, which, typically, involved almost an entire circuit of the globe: a power plant in El Salvador, roads in Ecuador, an irrigation project in Peru, pasture improvement in Uruguay, telecommunication in Ethiopia, power transmission in Uganda, an irrigation project in Sudan, railway modernization in Nigeria, the Damodar Valley Corporation in India, the Karnaphuli Paper Mills, an irrigation project in Thailand and another in the south of Italy.

Adelman is struck by the tone of optimism in Hirschman’s notes on his journey. The economist was interested in all the ways in which projects managed to succeed, both in spite of and because of the difficulties:

Instead of asking: what benefits [has] this project yielded, it would almost be more pertinent to ask: how many conflicts has it brought in its wake? How many crises has it occasioned and passed through? And these conflicts and crises should appear both on the benefit and the cost side, or sometimes on one—sometimes on the other, depending on the outcome (which cannot be known with precision for a long time, if ever).

Only Hirschman would circle the globe and be content to conclude that he couldn’t reach a conclusion—for a long time, if ever. He was a planner who really didn’t believe in planning. He wanted to remind other economists that a lot of the problems they tried to fix were either better off not being fixed or weren’t problems to begin with.

Late in life, Hirschman underwent surgery in Germany. When he emerged from anesthesia, he asked his surgeon, “Why are bananas bent?” The doctor shrugged. Hirschman, even then, could not resist a poke at his fellow economic planners: “Because nobody went to the jungle to adjust it and make it straight.”

While fighting for France during the Second World War, Hirschman persuaded his commander to give him false French papers and he became Albert Hermant. After the country fell to the Germans, Hirschman ended up in Marseilles, along with thousands of other refugees. There he learned that an American named Varian Fry was coming to France as part of the Emergency Rescue Committee—an American group that sought to get as many Jewish refugees out of France as possible. Hirschman met Fry at the train station and took him back to the Hotel Splendide. They hit it off instantly.

Fry had access to U.S. visas. But he needed Hirschman’s help in figuring out escape routes into Spain, procuring false passports and identity papers, and smuggling in money to fund the operation. Hirschman was invaluable. He spoke Italian like an Italian and German like a German and French like a Frenchman, and had so many fake documents—including a card attesting to membership in the “Club for People Without Clubs”—that Fry joked he was “like a criminal who has too many alibis.”

Fry nicknamed Hirschman Beamish, on account of his irrepressible charm. Beginning in 1940, the Emergency Rescue Committee helped save thousands of people from the clutches of Fascism, among them Hannah Arendt, André Breton, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Alma Mahler.

Hirschman was as reluctant to talk about his time in Marseilles as he was to talk about the battles he fought in the Spanish Civil War. As a fellow at Berkeley, in the early forties, he was placed in the International House, and the other graduate students urged him to speak about what had happened to him in Europe. “The newcomer sat there,” Adelman writes, “with his handkerchief twisted in his fingers, nervously waiting for the calls to pass.” Hirschman moved out of the International House as soon as he could. “I couldn’t stand being considered as sort of a wonder of the world or something like that,” he later recalled. “I just wanted to be myself.”

The closest Hirschman ever came to explaining his motives was in his most famous work, “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty,” and even then it was only by implication. Hirschman was interested in contrasting the two strategies that people have for dealing with badly performing organizations and institutions. “Exit” is voting with your feet, expressing your displeasure by taking your business elsewhere. “Voice” is staying put and speaking up, choosing to fight for reform from within. There is no denying where his heart lay.

Early in the book, Hirschman quoted the conservative economist Milton Friedman, who argued that school vouchers should replace the current public-school system. “Parents could express their views about schools directly, by withdrawing their children from one school and sending them to another, to a much greater extent than is now possible,” Friedman wrote. “In general they can now take this step only by changing their place of residence. For the rest, they can express their views only through cumbrous political channels.”

This was, Hirschman wrote, a “near perfect example of the economist’s bias in favor of exit and against voice”:

In the first place, Friedman considers withdrawal or exit as the “direct” way of expressing one’s unfavorable views of an organization. A person less well trained in economics might naively suggest that the direct way of expressing views is to express them! Secondly, the decision to voice one’s views and efforts to make them prevail are contemptuously referred to by Friedman as a resort to “cumbrous political channels.” But what else is the political, and indeed the democratic, process than the digging, the use, and hopefully the slow improvement of these very channels?

Hirschman pointed out the ways in which “exit” failed to send a useful message to underperformers. Weren’t there cases where monopolists were relieved when their critics left? “Those who hold power in the lazy monopoly may actually have an interest in creating some limited opportunities for exit on the part of those whose voice might be uncomfortable,” he wrote. The worst thing that ever happened to incompetent public-school districts was the growth of private schools: they siphoned off the kind of parents who would otherwise have agitated more strongly for reform.

Beneath Hirschman’s elegant sentences, you can hear a deeper argument. Exit is passive. It is silent protest. And silent protest, for him, is too easy. “Proving Hamlet wrong” was about the importance of acting in the face of doubt—but also of acting in the face of fear. Voice was courage. He went to fight Fascism in Spain. It ended in failure. When the Nazis came hunting for the Jews, he tried again. “Expanding the operation meant, increasingly, that Beamish’s work was in the streets, bars, and brothels of Marseilles, expanding the tentacles of the operation,” Adelman writes. “If the operation had a fixer, it was Beamish. It was a role he relished.”

Beamish screened the refugees, weeding out potential informers. He cajoled first the Czech, then the Polish, and, finally, the Lithuanian consuls into providing fake passports. He made deals with Marseilles mobsters and a shadowy Russian émigré to get money into France. He held secret meetings in brothels. Several times, he was nearly caught, but he charmed his way out of trouble.

When the authorities finally caught onto Hirschman, he escaped across the Pyrenees to Spain on foot, equipped with false Lithuanian papers. On the ship to America, he played Ping-Pong and chess, and romanced a young Czech woman. As Adelman’s magnificent biography makes plain, it was hard not to fall for Albert Hirschman. A colleague from his Marseilles days remembered him, years later, as “a handsome fellow with rather soulful eyes . . . taking everything in, his head cocked slightly to one side. One of those German intellectuals, I thought, always trying to figure everything out.” ♦

Many philosophical schools differ on the meaning of desire.  One line of thinking such as Platon, Sartre, Schopenhauer, Proust, and Freud… define desire as what we lack in object and subject and want to owning; this include missing past events and pleasurable memories.  For example, Proust suffers terribly when Albertine is away and then, he feels bored as Albertine returns and he talks to her.  We are excited making love and then, we feel this sensation of void after the exercise. 

Schopenhauer wrote: “Our life oscillate between suffering and boredom: Suffering for not having what we desire and boredom for having what we no longer desire.”  It is as if the object or subject of desire is superior to all other desires as long as it is out of reach.  Is it we want to live because there are a few desires we still hope to satisfy?  Woody Allen said it well: “How happy I would be if I were happy”

The other line of thinking and represented by Epicure, Spinoza and Nietzsche defines desire as being happy of what we already have such as feeling happy chewing leisurely on our food, happy of our company, happy of the foreplay, happy of letting orgasm be delayed, happy of the present moment, happy of enjoying good health, owning a home…  This is the desire of action or power desire.

The two major kinds of desires are real; desires of lacking is predominant simply because desire of action is a learning process in our civilization and requires investing efforts. 

A few people prefer the language to having vacuum in detailed meaning of words in order to generating interpretations and “enriching” our imagination; such as constructing philosophical structures based on confusion in the meaning of desire.  Suppose we research taxonomy for each word (classification of  possible meaning of a word or systematic detailed meaning of synonyms) then, could we not write long essays on each kinds of desires with the added bonus of being clear, transparent, and focused?  In the case of the verb desire we may specify mis-desire (desiring what we lack) and act-desire (desiring what we have).

Anyway, there can be no happiness as long as we keep desiring what we miss or lack in objects and subjects: We are then is constant desire mood of longing and expectancy.  Action desires, these acquired kind of desires, transform expectancy into joy that keeps giving; we can then eat with relish and pleasure and enjoy the company of the spouse and friends.

Is religion bunk?  Case of Byzantium Empire; (Apr. 18, 2010)

I read a couple of days ago the history of the Byzantium Empire and the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

This historical account of the rise and demise of a “Christian” Empire got me into thinking about this ridiculous infighting based on religious dogma.

I learned that the emperors of the Byzantium Empire were relegated to vassals to the Ottoman Sultans since 1350.  The Byzantine Emperor paid tribute and could be summoned anytime to join the Ottoman Sultan in military campaigns against “Christian” regions and cities.

Many Byzantine Emperors travelled to Europe and extended their stay for years drumming up support for the Empire in the Orient and were turned down for discordance on religious dogmatic positions.

The Catholic Church based in Rome demanded first the unification of the Catholic and Orthodox sects before financial or military support are extended to Constantinople.   For example, the Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople came up with a consensus stating that the two natures of Christ share a common energy. Papal Rome refused this gimmick.

The Orthodox Church offered another alternative “The two natures of Christ share common will” and this proposition didn’t fly well.

The orthodox Church came back with this idea “The Holy Ghost emanates from God through his son Jesus“; Papal Rome insisted that this ghost emanates from the father And the son…

Irrelevant divergences that had nothing to do with religion but political power and dominion.  The two sects agreed on the message of Jesus and that he resurrected; then what is all this fuss about?

Actually, Constantinople was basically reduced to a City State since 1350: the Ottoman Sultans had conquered Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania, and the northern regions of Greece.  Constantinople managed to survive and sustain 4 sieges simply because the Ottoman Sultans had not yet built a naval power to block the maritime entrance in the Golden Horn estuary for supplies.

The wealthy maritime powers of the City Republics of Venice and Genoa were at war most the 14th century: When Venice came to the rescue for a price, Genoa plotted to deprive Venice from any concessions by using and abusing of contending Emperors in Constantinople.

In 1402, Constantinople had an extension on its life because the Mogul Tamerlane (Timor Lank) of Samarkand had defeated the Ottoman army and cut it to pieces.  Otherwise, the Ottoman Sultans could easily conquer most of Europe, including Italy 50 years earlier.

By 1450, Constantinople had barely 50,000 inhabitants and 7,000 valid individuals to defending the city walls extending to 22 kilometers.  The plague had stricken several times and prosperous merchants had immigrated to southern Greece.

Religion is not even an ideology: it just permeates all aspects of life and is a prime factor in political problems.

Political professionals use and abuse of religious inclinations as a cover to mobilize energies for exercising extensive power.

What variants of democratic systems managed to do was to establish institutions and laws that counter, prohibit, and occasionally punish political professionals and civil administrators from using religion for State interests and programs.

Nietzsche wrote: “God is dead but mankind is always locating God’s Shadows in caverns. Mankind has still got to vanquish the Shadows.

Religion potency is that it survives and is implicit in political programs:  religion is used as the omnipresent symbol for any kinds of changes or the continuation of statue quos.

Although science in modern time has somewhat supplanted religious dogmas, even the rational scientists are profoundly contaminated by religion in many aspects of their research.  Faith is still a catalyst to rational understanding and frequently the engine for reasoning.

Scientists thrive to homogenize their theories (as religion does) and impose concepts by consensus until a few bold minds disturb the consensus (paradigm shift).

So far, science has prolonged the period of mankind ignorance because it refuses to be based on relevant cultural meaning:  Science is neutral! Maybe this void of cultural basis in science is mainly the consequences that modern scientists are no “Renaissance Men” and lack essential human knowledge to communicate and interact with common people.

Fact is, most researches are financed by institutions with explicit purposes and implicit ideologies.

Is religion bunk?

Religion impresses kids and the elderly. Kids are ignorant and elderly are eternally scared of the next eternal unknown.

It is better for kids to learn and be instructed on the UN Charter with all its supra-laws corresponding to all kinds of human rights.

As for the elderly, it is good to remind them of the dictum of US diplomats: “When dealing with the US institutions then you better not put all your eggs in one basket”.

I suggest to the elderly and terminally ills not to put all their eggs in a single religious dogma.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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