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Notes on "Ecology of Freedom" by Murray Bookchin (1982)

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-ecology - 19th c term - investigation of interrelationships between animals, plants, and their inorganic environment - dynamic balance of nature, interdependence of living and nonliving things. vs environmentalism (natural engineering)

 -social ecology - dialectical unfolding of life-forms from simple to complex. (history of phenomenon is the phenomenon itself) human-made universe is 'second nature'. society = institutionalized communities. philosophy of evolution. must synthesize these 2 natures into a 3rd. process of achieving wholeness by means of unity thru diversity, complementarity (vs homogeneous monocultural oneness of cap).

libertarian municipalism - confederalist Commune (communes artistically tailored to their natural surroundings, l&r popular face-to-face control over material means of life -- land, factories, transport, participatory democracy, high measure of self-sufficiency (->self-empowerment). "The world's future has to be managed, but this management would not be just like a game of chess -- more like steering a boat." (analogue vs digital, Charles Elton, The Ecology of Invasions by Plants and Animals (NY John W Wiley, 1953, p101)). -must merge organic ecological process-oriented sensibility with our prevailing analytical one, transcending both sensibilities in new way of thinking and experiencing. goal of pre-Socratics to Hegel - ontology - description of reality not conceived of as mere matter, but as active, self-organizing substance with striving toward c. reality as process.


-nonhierarchical. everything has its place, mostly closed (except for infinite solar power) system, cyclical (tho changing over linear time (vs time as quality ie, don't age in thought at the same rate as in body, cyclical orgasm is transcendence of linear time)). ranking species in an ecosystem is anthropomorphism (using concept of hierarchy). our closest evolutionary cousins, great apes - gibbons have no apparent ranking system at all, chimps have fluid stratification, orangutans don't even have dominance and submission relations, mtn gorilla little stratification, bonabos... Northwest Indians not class societies but chain-like links between individuals. people, things, relations in terms of their uniqueness rather than superiority/ inferiority (h is insight - prelogical, nonlinear). preliterate lack an 'I' vs 'we'. our language permeated by historically charged euphemisms that acquire reified life of their own. Obedience vs allegiance, command vs coordination, power vs wisdom, acquisition vs giving,  commodity vs gift. stake out their claim to totality of social life. not 'have' but 'live with' or 'share'.

  -vs systems theory - quantitative reductionist theory of energetics vs recognition of qualitative descriptions of ecosystems. life-forms as mere consumers and producers of calories.

-legacy of freedom/ domination. double helix


-preliterate 'organic society' - animistic - principle of irreducible min, commitment to usufruct rather ownership of property, ethics of complementarity vs morality of command and obedience - must integrate with rationality, science, technics to promote humanity's integration with nonhuman world. not New Age romanticism, eco-animism, biocentrism vs anthropocentrism, unfeeling Malthusianism, ecofeminism, misanthropic anti-humanism, postmodernism (no need for coherent and rational body of ideas, introverted subjectivism => defeatism (vs Islam)


-capitalism now society, not just economy - grow-or-die mentality, chaos of mktplace, hierarchy, war -> family, personal sexual, religious and community relationships (egotism, consumerism, careerism, mutual suspicion, transitory human intercourse) -> fragmentation as ideology

-hierarchy (Greek - priestly forms of org) exclusively characteristic of second nature. (conspiracy embedded in hierarchy). 'dialectical unfolding of hierarchy involves domination via ethnic, gendered, age, vocational, urban-rural forms (molded into 20th c grand conspiracy) -Marxian engine of conspiracy - change of technology/ forces of production -> (surplus) ->change of relations of production culminating in cap/ class society. but hierarchy more subtle - bio + social/ national/ political (bureaucracy). proletariat not adequate/ only force of change

-mistake in Marx - defining nature as realm of necessity, nature as stingy - punishment for malfeasances of Adam&Eve. domination of nature -> domination of humans by humans. this 'realm of necessity/ freedom' is product of 2nd nature (conspiracy against nature). for Marx, 'good life' required domination of first nature via mobilization of labor (exploitation but hopefully minimized/ ended via rev)

-his language tainted by Promethean, often crassly bourgeois images ('liberate' use-values from 'earth-sleep' of nature. not William Petty's 'marriage' between nature and labor, but a coercive patriarchy, a license from Yahweh to place all of reality under iron will of male elders. still rooted in concept of property. (vs Romantic movt - production as symbiotic, not antagonistic process, labor as midwife and tools aids in delivering natures offspring: use-values)

-but nature not intractable, but fecund, marked by differentiation. regarded as 'realm of nec' in terms of senseless 'needs' it is expected to satisfy. but needs are highly conditioned by society (2nd nature). not stinginess of nature but stinginess of people (elites ruling thru social conventions)-not rescue 'savages' from nature/ ignorance (-> support imperial agenda of cultural and industrial iv)

-also incipient class/ hierarchical forms -> (surplus) -> change of prod forces (dom(ination) of humans -> dom of nature). ie, culture vs technics, hierarchies vs classes as motive force in dev(elopment) of capitalism. first domination was man by man rather than of nature

-Freud and Marx make self-reproduction and self-discipline the historic knout for achieving mastery over nature - dom indispensable phase in dialectic of civ(ilization). but reproduce opp(ression)/ exploitation - terms reproduce and discipline used by elites to condone exploitation - extension of class opp(ression) into self-opp(ression).  

-subjectivity turns organisms into active force in their own evolution, not merely passive objects of natural selection. but to use such ecumenical words as humanity implies social setting. proclaiming we are all 'equal' ignores the hierarchical relations embedded in society (embedded inequality of 'equals') vs the preliterate/ paleolithic/ organic/ nonhierarchical equality of unequals (where compensation for the stigma of natural 'privilege').


--separation and otherness human facts of life because of concsciousness (c) (recapped in Jewish experience). but otherness not mean enemy/ domination. differentiation, complementarity.

-animism a form of solicitation/ cooperation with nature rather than coercion (lure prey to accept hunters' spears). openness of American Indians to Europeans confirms this. our abstractions were substance to preliterate mind (soul is one's hand, heart, spirit one's breath). Greeks had animistic outlook and secular reason - world as alive/ organism/ animal, reason embedded in myth


-Hebrew transcendentalism distinguished 'eternality' of Nature' from 'mutability' of society, thereby opening society to possibility of radical rev change for first time in history (yes, Apocalyptic, linear history (Frye, Noble)) freeing human thought and practice from necessitarian world of Nature, its domain of eternal recurrence (but Bookchin says Nature has inherent the dialectic of increasing complexity -> c, implying that Nature is not just eternal recurrence, but has its own linear trajectory. [maybe he means Js first articulated the linear part of Nature's complex dialectic through their excessively alienated tribal social formation]. Frankfurt School 'high-culture nihilism' p62 vs Gaia hypothesis, which sees the planet as a single organism. dismisses all religions which have not 'created an ecologically humanistic society' p63 "Hebrew patriarchs required no heaven or immortal soul, for both of them existed in the physical reality of their sons." (p191)


-Odin god of wisdom, son Thor god of order (obedience to treaties) but discord, corruption -> Ragnarok - death of gods in great conflict before Valhalla. reflected real process - hierarchies erected by valor being eroded by systems of privilege based on wealth.


--Hegel's 'The True is the whole' and 'whole is the True' meaning the true lies in the self-consummation of a process thru its dev, the flowering of its latent particularities into their wholeness (tho a seed can easily lead to stunted growth or premature death). immanent dialectic within phenomena. Alexander to Lenin - where forced social changes not nourished by educated and informed popular c, they were eventually enforced by terror. tragic fate of modern socialism - language of freedom becomes interchangeable with that of domination.


-humans have potential of self-c - society unfulfilled in its dialectical dev until it realizes this thru overcoming hierarchy and domination, going beyond justice to freedom. we are the very 'knowingness' of nature, the embodiment of natures' evolution into intellect, mind and self-reflexivity. p104

 -degeneration of Greek democracy -> competing elites vying for support of public - the 'right' to participation choosing the tyrant who will rule them. seeming heterogeneity, displacement of public virtue by personal rights (identity politics, atomistic society -> 'there is no such thing as society')-shift to agr - shift of social imagery from m hunter to f food-gatherer, from predator to procreator, from camp fire to domestic hearth. 

-scarcity - biological impact, but socially induced scarcity embedded in culture -> fetishization of commodities AND fetishization of needs (in effect, becoming a force of production autonomous of human will - desires). needs should be formed by c and choice, not just environment (both physical and social). wealth defined as individual creativity, not things. not increase needs (cap) but choice (anarchism)


-early surplus - dispose sans transgressing community's norms of usufruct, complementarity and irreducible min - disaccumulation (potlatch), leveling mechanism to inhibit aggrandizement by ind or special groups preventing technical advance and class formation  (-> pyramids in class society). industrial wealth suspect (Faust) breaches blood ties/oath obligations. wealth must be used to reinforce or expand social relations, not weaken them. (Islam codifies this)


-origins of class in hierarchies (age, sex, religious, political). domestic economy/ family and m hunter/ guardian groups dev as social/political facts.


-patricentricity (m traits courage, strength, self-assertiveness, decisiveness, athleticism) and matricentricity (nuture and sustenance). patriarchy but no matriarchy (because domination didn't exist for preliterate). transform traits nurturing to renunciation, tenderness to obedience, courage to aggressiveness, self-assertion to egotism, decisiveness into repressive reason, athleticism to war and plunder. unity of human/human, human/nature broken and power/dom emerge -> yearning for freedom (return to lost unity thru wholeness permeated by reason)


-hierarchy - elites have varying degrees of control over subordinates sans necessarily exploiting them. both social condition and state of c. in organic societies 'unity of diversity' not hierarchies. not only discipline of work but of rule demands repression of internal nature today. can eliminate classes and exploitation but hierarchy and domination remain. exorcize spirit of gain from psyches but still burdened by gnawing guilt and belief in vices of sensuousness (organic soc(iety) - no guilt, crime not committed if not noticed, rather personal sense of shame, try to hide 'sin'=antisocial - h acts vs institutions).


-guilt and repentance replace shame and practical need to redress effects social transgression with emergence of morality - prophet/ priest and with the more rational/social ethics - philosopher and political thinker (egalitarian, unified system of behavior upholding harmony of group -> mystified/abstracted as good/bad, helping to obscure contradictions emerging in social realm).

-first hierarchy - age - grow old => acquire distinct interests not 'natural' but rather social. create institutional roles to ensure survival (child care, magic, medicine, rituals, religion, wisdom, tribal history) -> de-emphasis on eros/ body -> willful aggression and Thanatic death wish. m violence, f nuture, shaman fear (incipient State personified) heightening aggressive/ violent elements of patricentric community, feeding it with mystical sustenance and supernatural power.


-epistemologies (ways of understanding) rule - we are prisoners of our language in our understanding (guilt, renunciation, obedience, command, dom/power vs shame, nurturing, tenderness, coordination, courage/self-assertion etc). reason as tool to achieve ethical goals vs reason as inherent meaning of these ethical goals (consp(iracy) of means vs goal - with hierarchy, consp takes hold of the shaping of both means and ends. rationality subsumed/ perverted -> anti-rational reaction (romanticism-> NewAge), surrendering mind to intuition, rationality to mere impulse, coherence to eclecticism, wholeness to mystical 'oneness', actually reinforcing the legacy of dom because we reuse to dispel it with rational analyses). Greeks replace principle of epistemology based on faith in ruler with ethical principle based on reason (reason embedded in myth/animism) - nature tamed by man infused with reason; love of human body/ athleticism but denigrated trade and pursuit of gain (mktplace threatened to undermine Hellenic ideal of self-sufficiency, balance, and limit


 - kosmos undermined by chaos when vigilance of reason relaxed). Aristotle 1/ imbalance and dependence/ 2/ subversion of form without which identity dissolves (into quantity). need orderly arrangement of dualities nature/society, work/free time, sensuousness/intellect, industrial/community. already hierarchical epistemology with underlying slaves, foreigners, freedmen, women excluded. Plato argued differences in individuals stem from differences in souls (gold (phil-rulers), silver (warriors), bronze/iron (farmers, craftsmen, merchants - realm of necessity)

-blood ties replaced by civil ties.


-shaman tries to mediate with nature. his failure is technical -> replace. but later, institutionalized religion shifts the blame to more failure of community (a la today with banks vs indiv guilt for eco collapse) -urban life began with altar and mktplace. temples testimony to sacralization of accumulated wealth. clans power of blood oath, priest power of ideology, warrior power of coercion. beyond clan.


-woman, embodiment of fecundity has no symbolic place in stark universe of Bedouin except as vessel to produce sons, herdsmen, warriors. -> monotheism and harsh expression of m will (and cruel negation of nature?)

-by Jesus's time, Pharisees reworked Deuteronomic Code into most humane in ancient world. 'eye for eye' replaced by monetary compensation and corporal punishment restricted, debtors and slaves treated better (Essenes and James Jerusalem Church) Hyman Maccoby Revolution in Judea (NY Taplinger Pub, 1980)

  -lingering memory of egalitarian order where work pleasurable and playful (-> pleasure principle) and usufruct/ irreducible minimum still determines allocation of means of life (-> reality principle). separate these aspects of organic society, where they were once embedded for all. same with dom/freedom legacies. -> Hobbes's 'state of nature' as inversion of reality reflecting epistemology of rule as domination. 'brutish mob' is result of civ, not organic society. the elites save the 'pleasure' for themselves and the 'reality' for the rest, the elites' aggressiveness threatening to extinguish 'civ' through their bureaucratic institutions and ruling father figures.  

-rise of state (coercion+ distribution, leg/exec, governance/admin) -> accounting, efficiency as political morality replacing informal 'inefficient' forms of freedom (direct demo, consensus, self-administered 'justice', decentralized ad hoc admin and governance). Hegel State as realization of society’s ethical idea

  -direct action not just means but an end, empowering individual to take pol(itical) responsibility. need to make jump from inertia of legacy of dom (guilt, coercion as psych element of hierarchical order we live in). cap negates direct demo by giving eco and mkt (pure quantitative rights) total control of pol/soc life. but Aristotle called for containment of capital and market as dangerous. buyer-seller relationship becomes all-pervasive substitute for human relationships at even personal level. everyone rivals for other's 'goods'. extended family -> nuclear family -> singles dating clubs and testtube babies, with hollowing out of personality itself. turning back natural evolution towards simpler forms, including inorganic personality (we are our IDs) and totalitarian social forms. our complexity strictly technical, not cultural, individual is more neurotic and psychopathic, reason becomes 'efficiency of dom'/ rationalization.  

-lack of distinction between 'freedom' and 'domination' leaves organic society unguarded against hierarchy and class rule - innocence exposes the community to manipulation by elders, etc shifting in emphasis from particular to general, from specific animals to their spirits, from zoomorphic to anthropomorphic deities, from usufruct to communal property, from demonic treasure to kingly storehouses, from gifts to commodities, from barter to elaborate mktplaces. -expelled from Gdn of Eden is condition for return on a level that can resolve the paradoxes of paradise.


-loss of preliterate innocence -> 1/ vision of lost golden age, forward-looking utopianism, and between them, religious/ anarchist movts trying to balance sharing/ self-discipline, freedom/ coordination & responsibility 2/ justice (social and individual) as surrogate for lost freedom where freedom interpreted as happiness (Marx) and pleasure (Fourier) 3/ labor as  necessity (vs play) 4/ nature as separate from humans. must reassemble these aspects into meaningful ensemble sans hierarchy. -freedom from vs freedom for. freedom a voyage of discovery that begins with early practice and limits in organic society, its neg'n by hierarchical and class civ, and its partial realization in early notions of justice.


-dialectic of social justice - equality of unequals - sharing, gifts, plunder, exchange - -> individual justice and denial of society. automatons. equivalence fn usufruct and equality of unequals - spirit of calculation -> inequality of equals

  -preliterate - freedom from starvation, freedom for worship/play.-equality of unequals -> charity, freedom -> right.-to be called a merchant an insult to Odysseus, men of his class exchanged goods ceremoniously or took them by plunder-Freedom (equality of unequals) requires social Justice (fighting the inequality of 'equals') not just Justice (Janus, scales, formal equality)-Bentham's calculus of pain and pleasure ultimate reduction of social life to quantity - ethical atomism

-happiness - realized in contemplative mind and ethical mean that rises above excess (Aristotle) vs Bentham (tempered by law of dim marginal utility. ethics as practical utility, expediency, cost-benefit and risk calculation - justice's denouement

-dialectic of freedom - freedom first appears in Sumerian cuneiform 'amargi' (return to mother, ie, matricentric ambiance or nature as bountiful). in Christianity - humanity's future redemption via Augustine's linear evolution. history imparts to faith a logic and intelligibility that inspires hope, meaning and action (ie, not just passive acceptance). overcome the split between heaven and earth in secular justice and democracy (or Islam). -slave's dream of freedom to make master into slave. Christianity/ Islam use authority, laws to buttress fallen humanity individuality and universal humanity. consumerist vs productivist concepts of freedom (latter rational use of labor)-gnosis (knowledge), wisdom (sophia), reason (nous)

-gnosticism's commitment to 'goodness' and physical indulgence - ecstatic union of spirit with body - union of worshipper with deity. transfigure one's encounter with reality, create a transmundane reality of 'goodness' that is close to a communion with the true God (not demiurge of world - Yahweh). permanent state of desire rather than mere need, of passionate perception of the world rather than one deadened by custom, routine. but this presupposes humanity/ ind transformed from condition of sin to grace


-earliest expression of freedom within realm of unfreedom - popular attempts to restore irreducible min and circulation of wealth frozen in temples, manors of ruling elite. freeing surplus via

1/ plunder/ slave/peasant uprisings (black redistribution)  - consume but also demystify institutional fn of wealth as force for domination (ie, destroy it and records of contractual use of it)

2/ ascetic and hedonistic/ communistic/ libertarian movts in Christianity (deriving from Jamesian Church in Jerusalem vs Pauline Church in Rome). Roman church 'give to Caesar that which is Caesar's' and purges NT of radical ideas and millenarian fantasies which became allegories and for Augustine Second Coming essentially arrived with establishment of Church (vs Quran) and emphasized miracles (vs conflict with authority) and relegating paradise to heaven, suppressing heresies, accommodating feudalism and cap (Jesus trades in souls and markets gospel)


-anticlericalism of Voltaire a blow against repression and denial of individual competence to manage his spiritual affairs -> civil insurrections (vs Islam and stability of Islamic society) and symbolist/ surrealist/ counterculture movts (monism, unity of nature/ humanity/ God). Luther heavenly freedom in inner life, Calvin works -> bourgeois freedom


-asceticism 'poor man's pleasure' -> hallucinations (saints) vs rich man's pleasure principle (sinners) (60s drug culture was radical but from 70s+ drug culture a strategy for attuning individual to consumerism - cap perverts even counterculture drug use).

-Q: what is the historical subject that will create a free society? -for Marx, cap -> socially induced scarcity => working class since we are forced to define relationship of ethical life to material. via class concsciousness. but every appeal to c is an appeal to creativity of mind and an expression of belief in human virtue. Marx materialist, Hegel idealist, Kropotkin ecologist, Fourier utopian all embarked on same voyage of hope (he leaves out Mohammed prophet). all grounded in reason - shape material life that is ecological, rational, artistic, spiritual  

-technics - modern affluent vs classical balance/ limit -> approaches to technics (inorganic ensemble of room, tools vs organic inclusion of social/ ethical context (not only how a use-value produced by why (Aristotle) - master workers act with an insight and ethical responsibility that renders their craft rational). -organic society labor process not production but reproduction/ procreation - sexual activity between human workers and f earth (Eliade - or grows in belly of earth and humans as midwife, singing and praying as part of 'work'). worker more than midwife, tho, he is also one of natures productions, part of nature's fecundity. Eskimo ask tusk what image hides in it, listens to voice of substance, synchronicity of subject and object. organic logic - a 'Way' about ivory/ horses which they must understand and to whose claims they must respond with insight and awareness, an ensemble of qualitative features.


-vs modern science - assumes nature orderly but without meaning and can be understood by human reason alone. nature mute, unthinking, blind, sans subjectivity or rationality in human sense of self-expression. but subjectivity in sensitivity of all animate beings and in reactivity of inorganic world (Diderot). [also beehive c, electromagnetic wave linking of 'souls' across oceans and homeopathy, resonance of molecules - understand each other - other forms of 'thinking' besides centralized human brain]. define human subjectivity as very history of natural subjectivity (including all earlier forms of subjectivity). 'wisdom of body' 'revenge of nature' more than mere metaphors.


-from order to reason to meaning, from mythic Way to knowledgeable Way (Tao). Hegel's reason (inductive-deductive reasoning, empirical verification and proof) vs understanding (speculative thought - imagination, art, intuition)


-mkt vocab penetrates our deepest interrelationships (input, output, feedback). how to contain technics in emancipatory society? Eskimos crafted carvings so carefully because they have a high sense of care for each other - libertarian community


-political structure part of technics administering/ mobilizing/ supervising labor/ material surpluses -> factory and corp (just as labor is part of nature, one of its gifts, not just a force opposed to it). liberatory technology presupposes liberatory institutions/ sensibility. BFuller's spaceship mentality and now-to-do-it catalogues exhibit unsavory readiness to make pragmatic compromises with hierarchical pol technologies without changing them (but could there be a critical mass -> process of change?)


-pre-industrial technics adaptive rather than innovative with rule that they must be integrated into existing social institutions. innovation in response to major climatic changes or violent invasions. 11th c+ innovation (greatest since neolithic 'rev'). Europe relatively decentralized (vs Islamic world and Asia). Christianity esp Calvin contributed (but even more Judaism which Bookchin ignores p338). "free-floating ego, divested of all community roots, became its ideal of individuality and personality." p341. divest technics of community matrix (-> innovation)


-freedom not affluence but personal autonomy, empowerment over life (vs empowerment over things), emotional security deriving from nourishing community life (vs material security), not res temporalis, a quantitative thing, but qualitative state of mind (all your time should be free), not freedom from labor but freedom for creative work, not tramp's aimless, spontaneous but unformed, easy-going but structureless, poetic but irresponsible alienated freedom. must recreate and foster daily the activity of being free within one's social matrix


-technics as ecosystem, not merely cost effective devices based on renewable resources. must use organic systems to replace machines (shade, recycling, fertilizer, filtering, heating) as part of sensitizing mind and spirit to nature's own powers of generation, to sense the subjectivity of 'natural resources'.


-must redeem the gain that inheres in every loss - the sociality latent in solidarity of kinship, the rationality in primal innocence, the ideals in social conflict, the willfulness in patriarchy, the personality in individualism, the sense of humanity in parochial tribal community, the ecological sensibility in nature idolatry, the technics in shamanistic manipulation. p357 need new kind of imagination, new sense of social fantasy to transmute the often oppressive archaic contexts into emancipatory ones.


-objective reason expresses the logos of the world (Horkheimer) vs human reason - final mentality guided by operational standards of logical consistency and pragmatic success, a mere technique for advancing personal opinions and interests, instrumental, not defining our interests in terms of ethics and social good Horkheimer's subjective reason). but H's subjective reason ignores the subjectivity inherent in nature, subjectivity not wrong (tho in cap context it is reduced to shallow mkt-driven materialism/ egotism). Ahab: All my means are sane; my motives and objects mad. -under cap, dom and freedom interchangeable terms in common project of subjugating nature and humanity - the driver become part of the machine. subjectivity is the history of reason - substance actively fns to maintain its id, equilibrium, fecundity and place in a given constellation of phenomena (cooperation, subjectivity even at molecular level)


-must elaborate ecological ties via an instrumental reason that remains in the service of objective reason (which has moral/ethical norms built in - recycle, symbiosis, mutuality, unity of diversity and spontaneity, evolution toward ever more complex forms, human activity as facilitator/ respector of this process, life/ nature as process vs things). law of thermodynamics 2b - in living ecology given external energy source, reversal of entropy law. Entropy only one feature in a larger cosmic metabolism with life  as its anabolic (synthesizing) dimension.


-nisus - self-organization/ self-creation - inherent in nonhuman phenomena which play an active role in their own evolutionary processes (from animism - spirit inherent in nature). eye evolution based on developmentally immanent traits. emergence of mind is part of larger landscape of subjectivity itself. our ethical claim to (higher) rationality derives from participation of human mind in larger subjectivity of nature, a fn of form, integration, complexity. not strive for domestication of nature (wolf/lamb). not Marcuse's nature that has not been "recreated by the power of Reason" (liberatory' mastery of nature - still nature as object). rather reintegration with nature, to some extent pacified/ shaped in light of human reason based on ethical rules determine in light of objective reason.


-science as instrumental system of control/dom vs means of knowing. Aristotle - emphasis on substance, form and development - qualitative - more organic vs quantitative matter and motion of modern science. for A natural causality not exhausted by mechanical motion. Causation  involves the very material, the potentiality of form, the formative agent, and the most adv form toward which a phenomenon could dev. a phenomenon was drawn to actualize its full potentiality for achieving the highest form specific to it, the formal self-realization of its potentialities. causation not billiard-ball mechanical but developmental, self-realizing. matter is latent with potentiality (a la Eskimo), its material cause. The form that is latent is the formal cause.


-The intrinsic and extrinsic forces that sculpt the dev (sculptor) are efficient case. The form that all these aspects of causality are meant to actualize is the final cause. to imply a sense of direction in causality (why) is redolent of theology. But science itself is now a theology, humanity and nature instrumentalized, threatening to divest both humanity and nature of their subjectivity. A's social ethics becomes Hobbes's social science. enchanted/ ethical/ passionate nature becomes dead objectified nature. only 'attraction' and 'repulsion' terms in electromagnetism remind us of nature's passion. -causation is creative, self-actualizing.

 -natural art - steer natural processes in favorable direction, utilize natural powers stronger than possessed by individual to remedy disasters afflicting agr/ health. must act at 'correct time' in synchrony with natural cycles. crafts less important than natural arts (hunting, agr). life a calling which rests on combination of craft and nature we call art. crafts intended to imitate nature (glass beads to imitate precious stones or imitation gold not fraudulent - they had use value as ornament vs some inherent 'value'). sparkle of gold/ glass suggests substance has 'vital spark', spirit. artificial crafts of artisan not much better than work of hired hand - both worked to satisfy needs of others, not their own, ie, not free. "Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people." (Jefferson "Notes on the State of Virginia" 1785). -autonomy of yeomanry basis of US republic, with autonomy of eco basis of US nation -> contradiction as US had to dev its own industrial base -> exploitation and dom. 

-towards new understanding of freedom. freedom based on interdependence within social network. 1/ the rationality of 'otherness' is symbiotic. libertarian rationality - observation located within ethical context that defines the 'good' and is structured around a self-detachment (Hegel) that leads toward wholeness, completeness and fullness with unity in diversity. unity is the form/ pattern that gives diversity intelligibility and meaning. overcome 'other' as antagonistic (J). rather 'other' is nonantagonistic relation. humans provide voice of nature's internal rationality.


2/ rediscover concrete/ qualitative uniqueness of ecosystems and reality, not just abstraction of matter/motion causality.


3/ reinfuse artificial crafts with natural arts by bringing natural processes back into techne, not just integrate agr/industry, but change concept of industry. our 'goods' are denatured. a car is a Datsun, not vehicle produced from ores etc. we must know how things are produced, produce to last and impinge min on nature and fulfill legit need. now we along with 'goods' are denatured, objectified. Techne as mystery returned not as mystically enchanted process/ interaction with nature, but as cold alienated object. Industrial society interposed itself between human rationality and nature's fecundity. Factory not to bring labor and machine together, but to rationalize/ objectify the labor process (cottage industry weavers could play and then work hard to meet a deadline), bringing proletariat to condition of powerlessness in face of capital. industrialization an insult to human physiological rhythms.


4/ question the very structure  of industry itself, question each substitute for the exquisite biotic machinery that we call food chains. bacterial/ algal purifying/ detoxifying water, convection of air by solar heat, solar greenhouses, small, variegated veg plots. by returning to biotic from mechanical, making ecologically/ philosophically meaningful statement. must arrest destruction of human spirit. resolve ambiguities of freedom existentially -- by social principles, institutions and an ethical commonality that renders freedom and harmony a reality. domestic solar energy system not a mere component of home but the entire house as organism interacting with nature. render nature more fecund, varied, whole and integrated - the hidden desiderata of natural evo. 'good' is diversity, wholeness, a nature rendered self-c; 'bad' is homogeneity, hierarchy, society whose sensibilities deadened.


-reenter natural evolution via human c(onsciousness) as part of nature's c, guiding evolution with man integrated in nature (good conspiracy). humanity is nature rendered self-c (Fichte) but this is only a possibility. make the implicit meanings in nature explicit, act upon nature to enhance its inner striving toward greater variety. dev conceived as wholeness involving society and nature conjointly (nonzero sum game). nature's law of return. human nature biologically rooted process where cooperation, mutual support and love are natural as well as cultural attributes, given prolonged process of physical maturation. now that social ties decayed, can see that individuality involves not (only) a struggle for separation but a struggle against it (in pursuit of richer and more universal consociation than primal kinship). move from blood oath, sexual division of labor and age hierarchy to free ecological society  (recaps transition from J to Christian/ Muslim spiritual path). hierarchy -> interdependence, freedom not in opposition to nature, individual to society, choice to necessity. its outer surface of 'inequality of equals' today reverts to 'equality of unequals' (still are societies where loyalties freely given without expectations of recompense, distribution sans rules of exchange). not wrestle with nature but coax it.


-Fourier - physical world not governed by Newton's law of universal gravitation by his 'law of passionate attraction'. cosmos vast organism suffused by life and growth. life offspring of progressive elaboration of the passions. societal adv not in terms of sublimation of eroticism but its release and full expression (Marcuse's 'from Marx to Fourier'). removal of rep in society concurrent with removal of rep in human psyche. stability thru variety, freedom to choose and to will. William Morris (News from Nowhere) libertarian but technically medieval evocation of crafts, small-scale agr and simple living. libertarian institutions are peopled institutions - face-to-face not representative, anonymous, mechanical relationships. direct action not mere tactic but sensibility, vision of citizenship and selfhood that assumes free individual has capacity to manage social affairs in direct, ethical, rational manner. active citizenship (tho can be degraded into aggressiveness, arrogance terrorism. but 'anarchist' terrorist such as Paul Brousse can flip into supporter of authority a la neocons.


-humanity has soared into radiant heights during great periods of social reconstruction, thought and art despite burdens of dom and egotism.-ecol ethics - distinguish which actions serve the thrust of natural evolution and which impeded it.


-ideas make us c of what we already know unconsciously (Marx); history can teach us forms, strategies, techniques and failures in trying to change world/ ourselves.


-Big Bang - cosmic breathing. parts of cell originally separate structures which dev in cooperation with others -> more complex organisms. mutualism, not predation, guiding principle for evolution of highly complex aerobic life forms.. fittest species the one that most helps another to survive. herbivores -> soil fertility, seed distribution, carnivores keep animal populations under control. aggressive not mean dom/ hierarchy. suffering and cruelty due to hierarchy (poverty is relative). not natural selection but natural interaction. Cartesian/ neo-Kantian dualism leaves nature mute and mind isolated from larger phenomenal world around it. 'civ' more blind than the elemental forces it professes to control. 



Connect with Eric Walberg

Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

From Books

  • James Clear, Atomic Habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones, Penguin Random House, 2018.

    Rules: make obvious, fun, easy, satisfying. ie, hide 'bad' habit stimuli, see them as unpleasant, hard, unsatisfying, to break ‘bad’ habit.

    -the more tasks you can handle without thinking, the more your brain is free to focus on other areas.

    -little stresses compound into serious health issues.

    -knowledge builds up, like compound interest. (buffett)

    -if you see people as angry, unjust, selfish, you will see them everywhere.

    -the more you help others, the more others want to help you. Build up connections (~ knowledge)

    -not how successful you are right now. Your current trajectory rather than current results.

    -fall in love with the process rather than the product. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. Your commitment to the process will determine your progress.

    -true behaviour change is identity change. Start habit from motivation but stick with it because it becomes part of your identity. Must believe. Your habits are how you embody your identity. (when you write each day you embody identity of creative person.) Identity: proof in pudding. (what you do is what you are.) process of building habits is the process of becoming yourself.

  • Hamilton is a biker’s paradise. Even the inevitable ribbons of death (Hwys 403 and 407) slicing through it haven’t killed it. It is disparaged as Hammertown/ Steeltown for its attack of rust-beltitis in the era of ‘free trade’ (not). It’s kind of dreary, compared to Toronto or even its twin Burlington, which Maclean’s dubbed Canada’s shiniest new urban paradise (maybe true if you are a car addict), but that is in fact its cachet.

    Its heyday was a century ago (but then that’s true of all colonial Canada), and it is not a high tech hub, but it has the Niagara Escarpment and its stagnating economy means no massive high rise condomania. Its working class ethos is served by its NDP MPPs and MP, and the affordable Chedoke Civic Golf Course smack in the centre of the city.

    Incredibly, to reach the first of the fine bike trails I traversed, the Chedoke trail, you ride right into the course and walk up the hill to the clubhouse, where the trail begins. I watched some very working class guys tee off, the first beautifully (each your heart out Trump), the second hooking dangerously, evoking stentorious FOREs.

    The trail edges gently up along the escarpment and eventually arrives at the ominous 403 with a rickety wooden bridge over the incessant hurtling death machines. Down the steps and walking up a steep hill, I was sweating and paused as a jolly fellow climbed the hill proudly, though he was going so slowly, I was sure he would fall.

    I hadn’t (yet) got lost, and casually took Jeff’s directions to a waterfall, as Hamilton is also nicknamed ‘city of waterfalls’ (100+). Mistake. Ignoring my diligently prepared left-right-lefts, I ended up on a hill longer than any in my experience, fortunately with a bike lane. Even slowing down, I would soon reach a kind of terminal velocity, requiring total awareness, as manholes flashed by and would have bumped precariously.

    Finally, nearing the bottom, Tiffany falls (not the one Jeff had intended). As throughout the day, the other visitors were Indian in saris, with a dottering matriarch inching along over the rocks.

    A ‘ribbon falls’, a graceful ribbon falling gently (most of the time), named in honour of Dr Oliver Tiffany, who emigrated from the upstart United States in 1796 with his brother. Oliver was born in Massachusetts and studied medicine at Dartmouth.

    Ironically, it was the father who was a rebel. Both sons were not impressed with the coup or whatever, and like tens of thousands of Loyalists, they migrated to British North America, hopeful that their father’s sins would not condemn them. Canada welcomed these ‘draft dodgers’, especially doctors, so Oliver was ‘granted’ a hefty tract which included the falls. He practiced medicine 40 years and is a founding father of Dundas-Hamilton.

    Much as Oliver’s moral values appeal to me, refusing to be a part of what was already shaping up to be a cruel and racist society devoted to money and genocide, I wonder if he would join Canadians today in at least honouring the people whose land the Crown stole for him? His land was right outside the border of the ‘6 mile agreement' granted Joseph Brant, the head of the 6 Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Caygua, Seneca, Tuscarora) for resisting the Yanks during their revolution, sticking by the Crown.

    How generous, giving the natives some of their land back. On paper. Within a decade, the 6 miles on either side of the Grand River were being whittled away, leaving only a tiny reserve just south of Brantford (thanks for the name, Queen Victoria). Oliver was not part of that theft, just the general seizing of land where the natives were few and guns many.

    Conservationhamilton.ca thoughtfully provided a map which looked perfect for guiding me back on my pursuit of the Dundas Valley trail, which is smack in the middle between Dundas and Hamilton, with dozens of squiggly red, green orange, purple and blue ribbons. I followed Wilson Street looking for a BT (bike trail) marking. No luck. Suddenly i was being directed into McMaster University and headed for downtown Hamilton. Hmmm.

    I turned around and spied two cyclists going up Wilson and figured I better try to catch up. Maybe they were headed to these trails. Fortunately one was a plucky but not very fit woman, slowing down her partner, so I was able to catch up to them just as they were turning off the road into a huge, freshly asphalted parking lot,unattached to anything, built to use up some leftover asphalt? Whatever its real purpose, it served mine, and I hailed them. Mark looked at my map and refused to believe that I’d just come from Tiffany falls. ‘We’re going that way and you came from there,’ Mark pointed at the opposite end of Wilson.

    Peacemaker Lynn pulled out her phone and google-mapped where we were, As they were headed for Old Ancaster Road, my direction, they offered to show me the way.

    We proceeded on a pokey little road without cars, an old road with cracks, my kind of road. ‘I’ve lived here ten years and still get disoriented,’ admitted Mark. Like St Catherine’s, Hamilton-Dundas has the escarpment as a backdrop, so roads zigzag, abruptly change names, and then change back with ‘west’ or boulevard added. There were NO markings for the trails, but a very condensed map I photocopied from ontariobybike.ca was useful. In fact, if I’d just ignored friendly advice, I might have avoided the detours, but I’m on an adventure, right? And seeing things as a local.

    So - surprise, surprise - Mark’s left-rights led me in the wrong direction, but less wrong than the Dundas map. After ending up back on Wilson, I retraced my steps and somehow ended up on the Dundas Valley trail through a backdoor. The maze of trails are more for mountain bikes, but I had a bumpy bit of fun and finally got to Ground Zero and the Hamilton-Brantford rail trail. Though I despise these rail trails after 5 or so minutes, this was a welcome no-brainer, and I sailed along the wooded lane back to the Chedoke Civic Golf Course. Too far, the day is young, so I backtracked and found Cootes Paradise (Thomas Coote, a British Army officer during the American Revolutionary War), which was on the Ontariobybike route, so I figured -- paradise must be scenic.

    It was 4-lanes, but clearly a scenic drive, and not much traffic, even a bike lane. Biking along, I suddenly realized what was so restful -- Hamilton is devoid of bilboards! No Coke, McWhatever. Here there were only tasteful banners hugging the light poles, advertising ‘Engineering for your health’, 'Social studies searching for solutions for a Bright Future for us all'.

    Deja vu, Soviet Union redux. Ads strictly public service: ‘Study, study, study! V I Lenin’. Cool. There wasn’t much of a view, but a break was long overdue, so I pulled off at Hydro One, a dull but spacious and empty lot with some trees and a disintegrating picnic table. I found an abandoned portable cooler (no lid, removed the TIDE laundry soap and DRANO) and propped it up as something to lean back on as I munched some protein bar, had a toke, and vegged out.

    My chaise longue was facing something called Dundas FSB, which had since moved and the building, an anonymous red brick blob, was abandoned, but, what the heck, it was like installation art for late capitalism. (FSB is an insurance firm (fsbgroup.ca) though not even Wikipedia offers a suggestion of what FSB means (First Somali Bank?).) A cricket was inspired by the glorious sunshine to sing, a turkey vulture wheeled overhead. The collapsing picnic table gave the scene a Norman Rockwell touch. A perfect moment.

    I already knew York Road up ahead, and how it becomes Old York Road, another biking treat, winding, up and down, north of Hamilton, skirting downtown and leading me to Aldershot GO station. I was relying on Google map for the next leg, which hopefully would lead me to the station. Yes, Plains Road, a jag, a pass under the dreaded 403 to Waterdown Road and home.

    Just as I was approaching the crossing, a grim Grand Order of Israel cemetery. NO EXIT. What?! Are we in the West Bank? Clearly what Google suggested did not exist. A bit like Google whiting out the West Bank Wall on its maps. (It seems I took Snake Road by missnake.)

    What to do? Fortunately I always leave at least 2 hours for these snags. (I used up all two and then some, this time.) Along comes a super-cyclist, whizzing down the hill and disappearing. Follow the cyclist! I plodded after him in the opposite direction of the GO station, figuring there must be a crossing the other way.

    There was! And I was back in gear. Yes, Plains Road but this time West (?), over the 403 ribbon of death, and getting closer to home. But wait! What are those white things in what looks like a large pond? I suddenly realized I was going right through the RBG (Royal Botanical Gardens) on this 4-lane mini-expressway.

    The sun wasn’t that low. I should stop in. Then, a Timmy’s materialized! Much as I loathe these franchises, they are central to our car culture. And I’d run out of water. So I got a scone and a medium coffee, drank a bit, and risked propping it in my carrier, hoping to enjoy it in the RBG (though the Tim Horton’s patio actually looked across the busy road at some trees. Thank you, Tim.).

    The RBG was the highlight of the day. The whistful, late afternoon sun, recapping the approaching winter, though still warm, sunny, with gusts of wind. I walked my bike down into the sheltered valley, an ‘oak savannah’, a relatively open forest of oak, the natural formation before the colonists came (and cut down all the oaks). They are trying to reconstruct the original setting, which was rare in North America and now only preserved in conservation lands.

    It was full of families, leisurely strolling, walking through the swamp (excuse me, ‘wetlands’), reading the very readable soundbytes about urban sewerage captured and processed by Mother Nature, providing a home for waterfowl and indigenous plants, all monitored by a newly green city.

    I stopped to watch two young girls offering sunflower seeds and a stray cheerio to chickadees. We waited.(NEVER wait for a bird to do what you want!) As I lost patience, suddenly a tiny black-white vision darted in and dashed away with its prize. ‘It took the cheerio, not the sunflower!’ she enthused. ‘A junk food chickadee,’ I made the girls giggle, and carried on to see the swans.

    As I climbed a hill (please, the last one!), it was nice to see 4-5 people leisurely climbing the deserted road from the gardens. What a nice reversion of things to a human scale, I thought. Suddenly, HONK! A car-bot was affronted: how dare you hog MY road. I almost laughed, it was so stupid, silly, insulting. One women instinctively responded, sorry. I thought: NO! That a-hole should be sorry for being an a-hole.

    I was aiming for the 5:31pm train to Toronto, figuring it was maybe 5:15pm. I headed straight to platform 4, came out of the elevator to see a train. Toronto? Yes! It was already 5:35pm and it just happened to be late. What a fillip. The train announcer kept apologizing very loudly  for being late. Ha, ha.

    I sat and sighed. And overheard an old codger (not me, a really old codger!) loudly reminiscing about WWII and hearing the German planes over Norwich. ‘They came from Norway (no!) to bomb the west … no, I guess, the east coast.’ Ha! I’m not the only one who mixes up east and west, invariably goes the wrong way, has to learn from his own mistakes. A rather pathetic, ageless, obese fellow in the next seat shouted at the codger: I think China should invade the US and get rid of that moron Trump. Hmmm. Through the mouth of babes. Mr Codger asked, ‘Trump? Who’s that?’ Ahhh, the bliss of ignorance.

    What a relief. No flat tire, no accident. Lots of wrong turns, misdirections, misfollowing directions, but 50 kms in 7 1/2 hrs. Not bad. And all the misdirections, Jeff, Mark/ Lynn, Google, conservationhamilton.ca merely made it more unpredictable. Leibnitz said it all: God is good. Therefore, the universe that God chose to exist is the best of all possible worlds.*


    Gottfried Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays (1686).

  • Okay, a bit of Lake Ontario -- the fabulous Waterfront Trail from Oshawa to Toronto, 60km, almost all in sight of the lake. Hardly any private mansions, and the towns with their marinas in between are funky. Accessible (free for bikes) on GO commuter trains from as far as away as Hamilton (the waterfront trail going west from Toronto is much less enjoyable).

    I was afraid it might be too easy, and the lake boring after a while, but not so. It’s always an orienteering game, and the trail is never straight (except for bridges).

    I’ve done the Pickering-Toronto stretch (40km) twice now (Pickering just west of Ajax). The first time always a learning experience. My first trip was also the inauguration of my Presto card, the new gimmick to minimize user-worker contact, which I don’t like, but I’ve got the hang of it by now. Do NOT forget to tap your card when leaving the GO train. Which I did, as I flew out of the station and over two hills and found the path. A bike is a form of meditation. Ram Dass's 'Be Here Now.' You get in a rhythm as you process your thoughts and the trip so far and what's ahead. Oh no! Didn’t tap the card. So my first retracing of steps (not the first or last time).

    The panorama, the air. Such a relief from Toronto. And no ‘ribbons of death’ to contend with. The deadly hwy 401 a safe distance, buried behind lots of trees. Only the occasion rush of the electric train, the railway being the least deadly of our obsession with speed and distance. The two rail tracks just a tad wider than one car-truck lane. And when you make that 10--12 car-truck lanes and football-field size interchanges, the environmental impact is truly shocking.

    You reach the Port Union Waterfront Park over two wooden walkways, with marsh and river underneath. Too bad the stern warning ‘No swimming - high water’. The water looked fine, Google says it’s okay. Bureaucracy. I could have found a cove and done my own thing, but on both my first and second trips, I was saving energy for the final haul getting through Toronto home.

  • Our civilization is a top-down hierarchical one, as are most large-scale ones in the past, i.e., one-to-the-many, 'top-down', explains Kall in an interview with Tom Hartmann. Kall's book is the distillation of his experience founding and running the  website Opednews, which started as a personal blog, i.e., one-to-the-many, 'bottom-bottom', and morphed into a many-to-the-many, with the potential of bottom-top, as a volunteer-based collective.

    Kall calls this 'gayan', as contributors and management are directly interconnected in a symbiotic, transparent relationship. Writers can 'fan' their favorite writers at Opednews and both comment, generating discussions of controversial topics, and contact other members directly.

  • I finally took my plan of a bike trip along the Welland Canal seriously, preparing my map, checking google map for the route from the train station to the canal (quite a ways, requiring navigating one of the ribbons of death that cut through St Catharines, typical of most North American cities. I would have more than my share of negotiating/ avoiding them.

    The first obstacle was highway 406, a kind of 21st century Welland Canal, a midget at 23 km, begun in 1965 and only turned into a 4-lane beast in 2009. There are even a few seconds of beauty -- for motorists only.

  • The 9/11 dust is finally settling. Blumenthal takes us on a nightmare tour of the landscape, starting with two key moments in 2018 that dramatically expose the plot behind the passion play taking place even as we sip our morning coffee: Trump’s absence from the establishment’s lovefest-funeral for McCain, and a few days later, the New York Times editorial ‘I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration’, excoriating Trump’s ‘amoral leadership’.

    McCain has been latched onto as the anti-Trump icon (he’s safely dead so he can’t mess things up, a habit this very Trump-like loose cannon was prone to). At the virtual state funeral (absent the head of state), McCain’s  daytime talkshow host daughter Meghan repackaged McCain’s ‘finest hour’, the (illegal, horrible, criminal) Vietnam War as a fight for the ‘life and liberty of other peoples in other lands’, a celebration of American empire, rebuking Trump (America was always great)  as a threat to its survival.

    Blumenthal’s message is crystal clear: US-Israel policy from 1979 on has been to create and support Muslim terrorism, even as it claims to be fight terrorism. It used jihadi in Afghanistan to undermine the Soviet Union, and has used them against Iran and Syria. Create the problem, and provide the solution.

  • Jeremy Kuzmarov, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the foreign policy of the permanent warfare state, Clarity, 2019.

    In Obama’s Unending Wars, Kuzmarov has brought together many telling proofs, nuggets, of just how horrible the world is, and just how responsible the US and its henchmen around the world are. A kind of who-does-it. Kuzmarov is that rare analyst (Belen Fernandez is another) who respects footnotes, leaving fascinating bits there that would otherwise detract from his focus.

    Standing out in my mind after reading OUW is the power that China has matured into in the past three decades, the US more and more resentful and frightened by it. Russia also has reclaimed much of its international clout, abandoned by Yeltsin, retrieved and nurtured by Putin, again infuriating the US. Other developed countries play almost no part in OUW, as if passive spectators of the geopolitical battles now being fought, as if they don’t even exist.

    But as a Canadian, that makes perfect sense. Canada long ago lost any respect internationally, respect it once merited during and immediately after WWII, the only ‘good war’ the world has ever seen, fought courageously by ‘good guys’ against ‘bad guys’. We are living in a grey fog ever since.

  • Fernandez's second book could be called The imperial messenger: Thomas Friedman at work Part II, or This is Not a Travel Book. The subject of her first book delightfully keeps popping up at conferences, interviewing American puppets, his spirit haunting her from the New York Times opeds exhorting Africans to tend their gardens, saluting Colombian ex-president Uribe.*

    Her observations are often laced with strychnine, since, for all her revulsion at the empire, she can't avoid its footprint. It is everywhere, often ridiculous, all too often lethal, tragic,

    the global superpower that has specialized in making much of the planet an unfit abode for its inhabitants via a combination of perennial war, environmental despoliation, and punitive economic policies resulting in mass migration. Despite being founded on slavery and the genocide of Native Americans, it presents itself as the global model for greatness—a position that is unilaterally interpreted as a carte blanche to bomb, invade, and otherwise enlighten the rest of the world as it sees fit.

    Every few pages, a lightbulb moment.

  • Matt Farwell, Michael Ames, American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the US Tragedy in Afghanistan, Penguin, 2019.

    Bergdahl captured the American imagination in 2009 when he disappeared from what had become his living hell. His battalion commander, Lt Baker, was not only an obnoxious tyrant (handing out Field-Grade Article 15s, just short of a court martial, supposedly for being out of uniform, but in fact for complaining about the mission to a Guardian photo-journalist in a video broadcast), but he had ordered them to build the OB (observation post) Mest on a cemetery, defiling, even defecating on gravestones near the FOB (forward operating base) Sharana.

    He was as much a victim of the latest American COIN (counterinsurgency) strategy as a deserter. Taken captive by the enemy (Taliban) under the protection of an ally (Pakistan), embodying the self-enforcing illogic of the entire war.

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, my journey through a turbulent world, St Martin’s, 2016.

    The art of autobiography is a slippery one, “a review of a life from a particular moment in time.”* Whatever truths are revealed here by Khalilzad in 2016, they are by definition personal truths, confessions, with lots of caveats.

    The Afghan version of Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick, Zalmay Khalilzad (ZKh) began life in a remote village, riding a horse to school. He brags of winning a race by taking a short cut through a farmer’s melon field, crushing the precious fruit but bragging to mommy upon reaching home. No remorse for collateral damage. No punishment. He would go on to repeat his success as ambassador and hitman in first Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Afghanistan, then the UN.

    He is a staunch Republican, so he disappeared into private consultancyland under Obama, president of Khalilzad Associates. In September 2018 he was rehabilitated, hired by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to serve as a special envoy to Afghanistan. Good timing with the autobio, Zal.

  • Linh Dinh, Postcards from the End of America, Seven Stories, 2017.

    A masterly saga of a broken nation, Linh writes his Postcards from the End of America as he moves from town to town by rail and bus, with lots of walking, each one anchored by a theme, sort of, though what stands out are the deftly sketched portraits of mostly down-and-out survivors of the pressure cooker America, seething and occasionally exploding in violence and collapse.

    What is powerful is the intensely personal look inside the beast. Linh calls himself "a Unapoet",* a "PayPal-buttoned, reader-supported blogger". He writes with care and at the same time, abandon, occasionally losing it with angry Unabomber** diatribes.  But given the subject matter, it’s hard to fault him. In an interview with Diacritics, he calls it "a diary of America’s ongoing collapse, and I’ve learnt much from roaming around." A kind of Unatourism.

  • Review Ed. Cynthia McKinney, How the US Creates “Sh*thole” Countries, Clarity, 2018.

    Bravo to Cynthia McKinney, former US Congresswoman and Green Party nominee for president, for taking this offhand remark by Trump and running with it.

    The Forward is by Senator Mike Gravel, an unsung hero of American democracy, whose life is colourful to say the least. McKinney’s book is worth it to rediscover some of the hopeful signs for change, with Gravel in first place.
  • The 17th century hangs heavy over the ‘heartland’ of Georgian Bay, the twin peninsula to ‘the Bruce’ to the west. Both, of course were the home of natives, who were forced to cede about 98% of their land to the white settlers in the 18-19th cc. Even much of whatever shoreline is in the remaining 2% was/ is leased to the present day colonists, who flock to the  sandy shores in the summers. Georgian Bay’s history is a dramatic example of how this happened.

    The 17th century was the killer, literally. Measles, influenza and smallpox killed 15,000 of the 25,000 Hurons. The Iroquois, head of the confederation of five nations—Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca, sealed their fate, ‘winning’ the Beaver Wars throughout the St. Lawrence River valley and the lower Great Lakes region, killing most of the rest.  But who ‘traded’ them guns for the (then) valuable furs to play the now lethal war games? The Dutch.

  • 7:20am Union Station. 12 hours door to door to door. Six hours of travel hassles, 6 hours of fine biking, visiting childhood haunts in Eden Mills and Guelph from 1951 to 1969.

    To get there, a 2 1/2 hr milk run Go bus from Union Station to Guelph University. First, parachuting down Gordon St to inaugurate the adventure, over the Speed river, through town, to the library for the weather report. Promises no rain. Chilly and overcast. Perfect biking weather.

  • The weekend before I left, every moment I was thinking about the trip, imagining the long haul on the bike, neck pain, sweating, muscles operating at full capacity hour after hour, adventures, getting lost and found, a challenge with many rewards. Southern Georgian Bay is (or at least was) idyllic. Good farmland but not on the way anywhere, so still relaxed. Worth three days of biking, and accessible by bus for cyclists.

    It wasn’t the same worry as 2 yrs ago from Kingston to Cornwall or the Orillia Gravenhurst jaunt, more just a delicious anticipation of the (reasonable) challenge. My search at couchsurfing: 5 requests, within an hour, an invite from Josh from Collingwood, my supposed destination. ‘I am teaching in Russia, but home for the summer.’ yes!

    Everything went like clockwork till the usual ‘getting lost’ clicked in north of Barrie. But looking back, I realized I’d actually found a good route, avoiding the dreaded highway #26, stumbling on Horseshoe Valley road and eventually Flos rd 4 through the Minesing wetlands, the only road through, (wonderfully) forgotten, with a narrow one-lane rusty old bridge. The perfect bike route.

  • 1) How do you asses Iran’s presence in the region? Could we say the major reason for American hostility against Iran is its strong position in the Middle East?

    Iran has played a vital role in the Middle East, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Palestinians lost their superpower support, which had meant that the UN had a balanced voice to counter, at least to some extent, the US imperial objectives of world dominance, and Israel's objective to dominance in the Middle East, serving as a proxy for US interests.

    In 1975, the Soviet Union and third world countries sponsored a UN resolution calling Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination”, outraging Israel. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was revoked under US pressure.

    The struggle to liberate Palestine suffered defeat after defeat since then,
  • I feared Kristen Ghodsee’s Red Hangover: Legacies of 20th century Communism (2017) would be yet another dumping on the sad ending to the world’s socialist experiment, or at best a boring collection of footnotes. I was wrong. It is full of ironies, twists, incisive exposes of the venality of the whole process of ‘liberation’. And some biting Bulgarian barbs.* Oh, and women have twice as many orgasms under socialism.

    Like Feffer in Aftershock, also published in 2017, Ghodsee uses her travels, studies, lectures to audiences east and west to test the waters of eastern Europe today. This fresh approach to documenting history through the eyes of both participants and sympathetic observers is more like reading a page-turner spy novel, full of often misunderstood heroes and villains, crafty confidence tricksters and lots and lots of victims. Who needs fiction? You enter the theatre of life, feel its pulse.

    Sleuthing in Sofya

    Ghodsee, always the researcher, saw a heap of documents in a garbage can on a trip to Bulgaria in 1997, and on an impulse started putting them in her bag. A pathetic homeless guy, clearly a drug addict, accosted her, always on the lookout for something to hawk. She told him she was CIA and he fled. Safely back at Duke University, she started perusing them.

    The  files were of agronomist Andreev, who rose in the 1950s to be Mr. Cucumber, responsible eventually for importing Dutch seeds and planting them in government greenhouses to feed the nation, with some for export to other socialist countries in COMECON. He had been awarded a golden badge of honour. It appeared his life was tranquil, successful, that he was a model citizen who didn’t worry about ‘profit’, though he no doubt was key to determining the production, distribution and pricing of cukes.
  • Toronto cyclists know how hard it is to get beyond the roller coaster nightmare of Toronto traffic to Elysium fields. Ok, dreary fields of GMO corn and soybeans, but it’s a step up from strip malls. Relying on The Canadian Cycling Association’s Complete Guide to Bicycle Touring in Canada (1994), I fashioned a trip to meet the litmus test:
    1/ no car headache to take you to some distant starting point,
    2/ some sites worthy of the name,
    3/ no mass of tourists, either biped or bipedal.

    Lake Simcoe is tantalizingly close, more friendly than big Lake Ontario, but featuring a tightly packed string of cottages possessing every bit of lake front available.

    Undaunted, I thought it was worth a try. The rapidly expanding Go bus/train system reaches as far as Barrie,
  • For a complex and critical examination of the relationship between Canada, Israel, Judaism, and Zionism, Eric Walberg’s new work The Canada-Israel Nexus provides a challenging perspective.

    It is challenging in several ways.  Primarily, the most important ideas are the critical lines of thought towards the impact of Zionism within Canada. This includes the influences on the media, academics and academia, and the political. The latter mostly affects Canada’s foreign affairs position as a sycophant of the U.S. empire, but in many ways as a leading vocal supporter of Israeli Zionism and its colonial-settler policies.
  • Feffer’s Aftershock: A journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams documents how the brown shirts moved into the vacuum left by the collapse of communism. (Part I is at Review Aftershock)

    East Europeans are making good use of their new proportional representative democracy, allowing protest movements to gain access to parliament. Poland’s Andrzej Lepper founded Samoobrona (Self defense) in 1990 to help indebted farmers, the unemployed and pensioners, and quickly had 15%  of the popular vote. In 2005 he became minister of agriculture and deputy prime minister in the Law and Justice government, which is similar to the other east European rightist parties -- a brown-red coalition, conservative culturally, vaguely socialist in economics.

    Recipe: Collapse, discredit socialism, discredit liberalism -> fascism. Again Hungary does the counter-reformation with flair. A leader of the 1989 overthrow of socialism, Viktor Orban soon regretted the mess that he helped throw Hungary into, and founded a "national conservative" party Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats), rising to  prime minister from 1998 to 2002 and 2010 to the present, now with a 'super majority' which he uses to amend the constitution in the face of EU protests over his policies.

    In 2003, Orban stated that liberalism has fulfilled its historic mission, that there is no need for further destruction. In 2014, Orban announced his plans to create “a new Hungarian state” that adopts political economic systems in Singapore, Russia, China, India and Turkey. He shocked both left and right by suggesting Russia was the more natural partner than the EU. He angered his 'alt-right' cousins in the rest of Europe by supporting the Turkish bid to join the EU, being a devotee of turanism linking Turks and Hungarians, though he has hounded Soros for “attempting to destroy the Hungarian nation and Europe's Christian identity by promoting the settlement of millions of Muslim migrants.

  • John Feffer’s Aftershock: A journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams (Zed, 2017) is an epic tour through the remains of the Warsaw Pact countries, history through the eyes of those both making and enduring it. It’s full of surprising twists, with chameleons changing colours, marauding western bullies, lots of nostalgia for ‘real existing socialism’, hints of new political seeds pushing through what is now a bleak wasteland with nodes of renewal.

    Feffer is one of the new breed of journalist-historians, postmodern in his goal of seeing history through the eyes of those living it. His inspiration is surely the Belarussian Svetlana Alexievich, awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time". Her equally epic Second-hand Time follows hundreds of Russian and other (ex)soviet interviewees from the 1980s to the 2010s.

  • Review of Jordan Peterson, 12 rules for Life: An antidote to chaos, Random House, 2018.

    Over the past year, Peterson shot into the public eye with his jihad against political correctness, using YouTube, the new medium for getting one’s beliefs broadcast without corporations, governments and media gatekeepers censuring and burying one’s new ideas.  And his ideas are radical, but more radically old than new. To him, cherished beliefs are mostly cherished because they’ve worked for millennia, some actually hardwired in us, and we abandon them at our peril.

    He asserts what he argues is his male, rational energy, taking no prisoners as he fights to save the English language from attempts to substitute gender neutral terms with orwellesque ‘they’s and ‘zhe’s and then forcing one and all (provincial premiers and profs included) to bow to the new golden calf. Language is important, as is marriage and respect for sex (not the amorphous ‘gender’). That is just part of his message, and he is now riding an angry, bucking herd of politically correct broncos. Peterson stares them down unapologetically.

    Prairie boy makes good

    Peterson grew up in a tiny village in northern Alberta, and gives a fascinating account of his youthful friendships, looking at his early life now through his psychiatrist lenses. His own maturing led from socialism till he turned 18 (he grew disenchanted with the NDP due to what he saw as a preponderance of "the intellectual, tweed-wearing middle-class socialist" who "didn't like the poor; they just hated the rich") to … well, some kind of conservatism, but not the neoliberalism which has poisoned both conservative and liberal politics. He also moved from a limp protestantism to a kind of spiritual agnosticism, though his conservative bent will please Catholics.

  • My life journey as a peacenik took me to Moscow in 1989 to see Gorbachev's 'socialism with a human face', his attempt to combine materialist communism with ... it wasn't clear exactly what Gorbachev had in mind, but it certainly wasn't a wholesale sell out of what had been built over the previous 70 years. However, the rickety structure that the Soviet Union had become, a tired society always under pressure from the capitalist West, final collapsed. Or rather was pushed over by a well-planned conspiracy―begun in 1979 under Carter but greatly expanded under Reagan―to destroy the last socialist revolution, in Afghanistan, next door to Uzbekistan. The tragedy of Afghanistan put Uzbekistan on my radar. A remote part of the world shrouded in mystery and now convulsed in war. Sounded interesting to the young adventurer devoted to world peace.

    I had come to Moscow at the invitation of Moscow News. From my editor's office on Pushkin Square, I watched on TV the last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan and arrive in Uzbekistan, retreating across the Amudarya River on the Friendship Bridge (built in 1982 to ferry Soviet troops into Afghanistan). Even as the troops retreated, mujahideen snipers continued to target them, with US arms still being poured into what was already a powder keg. I was intrigued by this little-known part of the world, and remembered a dream-like trip as a Russian language student in 1980 to Tashkent, with its elegant opera house and its bountiful fruits, soaring mountains and hospitable people.

    After five years in Moscow, working as an editor at Moscow News and then as a Greenpeace activist-administrator, I had had enough of a Moscow in upheaval, where food was scarce and expensive, and people were losing their laid-back Soviet ways and embracing the worst features of the West. I was robbed more than once (once by the train police waiting in a suburban station on the way to Uzbekistan), and remember gun shots in the Vikhino apartment building entrance one night, told the next day someone had been found murdered just a few feet away from me.

    Moscow had lost its charm. I yearned to try living in a Muslim society. Uzbekistan seemed to be the most developed, cultured of the Soviet 'stans' and a short hop away from
  • 9 minute interview with Phil Taylor on University of Toronto radio

  • 1/ Manial
    2/ My Arab godson
    3/ Al-Ahram
    4/ Bringing down the Brotherhood
    5/ Sisi – Muhammad Ali redux

    1/ Manial 

    I stumbled into Cairo after Tashkent, where I had stumbled across Islam, courtesy of dictator Islam Karimov, who – despite his name – persecuted brave Muslims mercilessly, and impelled me to recite the shuhada, at first, more as a sign of solidarity. I was now determined to learn Arabic, read the Quran, experience Muslim culture first-hand and test my enthusiasm for Islam.

    I found the Fajr Centre for the Arabic Language, founded in Cairo in 1995, online. The new session was beginning in January 2007. Fajr (dawn) is for new enthusiasts and prospective imams, affiliated to the Egyptian Ministry of Education and al-Azhar, and located in Medina Nasser (Nasser City), which I was to discover is a sprawling suburban near the airport. Transportation in Cairo is a nightmare, be it by taxi or public transit. Virtually all Fajr students share digs near the 'institute', which is modest to say the least, but I immediately liked it, despite the anonymous suburban clutter. The administrators and my teacher were clearly devout Muslims, and warm, friendly people. This was not for rich secular westerners, who studied at the AUC or one of many private institutes down town, at three times the cost.

    I heard of a Canadian-Egyptian artist who lived in Manial, the southern-most large island of Cairo, perched just upstream from more upscale Zamalek. Anna responded to my query,
  • Reading Rabkin's What is Modern Israel  (2016), you can only marvel that Israel continues to exist at all, given its unending criminal behaviour, from the 1920s, while it was still just a dream, until the present, the only change being in the details, the full scale wars of expansion giving way to smaller scale invasions of occupied territories and Gaza (there's no more land to conquer), and ever new bureaucratic torture techniques intended to drive the Palestinians either crazy or into voluntary exile. Even the latter, a soft version of the 1948 ethnic cleansing, is made difficult, as the Palestinians can only leave via Jordan, at the mercy of Israel. Why does the world, especially the US, which could bring Israel to heel overnight, let the horror continue?

    Rabkin delves deep into the Russian Yiddish roots of Israel and brings together many startling facts which suggest that there was a much better option for Palestine and the Jews, one which was scuttled by secular Jewish fanatics inspired by their experiences before and after the Russian revolution. What is Modern Israel is packed with fascinating quotes and historical tidbits. Some of Rabkin's insights from his book and a podcast interview :

    *He decries the use of 'holocaust' in depicting the tragedy of WWII, as it is a religious symbol, and the deaths were hardly a burnt offering to some god. Rabkin uses 'genocide'. He also insists that it is not the "Jewish lobby" and "Jewish state", but the Zionist lobby/ state, as most Jews are not Zionists, certainly not approving of Israel's bombings, invasions, and illegal settlements. The lesson of the genocide for Zionists was 'be strong and kill and hound suspected antisemites.' For Rabkin, it is the opposite: a rejection of Zionism and Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Review of Graeme Wood, The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State, Random House, 2016.

    Wood is the most prominent media star exposing ISIS today. A Yale professor, Council of Foreign Relations guru, his articles on ISIS have appeared in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and on and on. He has an ambitious agenda, instructing the lay reader in Islamic theology and jurisprudence as he travels from one leading ISIS supporter or fellow traveller to another around the world. While providing a wealth of detail, his American slant, almost entirely overlooking the US as the chief culprit in abetting terrorism, is evident. But his book is worth reading, giving the reader a window into the people behind ISIS. None of them are monsters, but all of them challenge Muslims to better understand Islam and Islamic history.

    Wood poses throughout his research as a possible convert to Islam and apparently fools one and all. This deception he would no doubt rationalize using a quote from the Quran about lying being okay in a time of war (taqiyya), but he used it in Egypt merely to string along a modest tailor, Hesham, who was sincerely trying to convert Wood, and believed Wood was genuine. This gave him otherwise forbidden access to Hesham's personal life, ridiculing him in the account. Others Wood interviewed were not so naive, but politely answered his questions, though his agenda was seen for what it is: a report for use by western academics, media and security forces to better 'fight the beast'.

    Some of his interviews are revealing and colourful. He met multiple times with larger-than-life Muslims based in the West, both pro-ISIS and anti-ISIS activists and theorists. His professionalism as a researcher and writer produced a good overview of the different movements and actors in western radical Islamic circles, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other al-Qaeda factions, and their visions of revolution and apocalypse. He interviews leading western Muslim scholars and activists, mostly American converts, including  the Sufi Yusuf Hamza, the Salafi Yasir Qadhi for their critical analysis of ISIS (they are both targeted as apostates by ISIS), and Yahya Michot, who lies somewhere in between.
  • Reviews of James Petras, The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire, Clarity, 2016

    Jeremy Hammond, Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Worldview, 2016

    It is time to assess the legacy that President Obama bequeaths us. These two timely books contribute to this, Hammond focusing on the “special relationship”, Petras, more broadly on US imperialism. Both are pessimistic about the possibility of any change without an active, articulate citizens' movement that has staying power, thereby creating the conditions for a political renewal.

    Hammond's work is detailed, documenting the period starting with Obama's 2008 victory and Israel's immediate response: its invasion of Gaza in December. Throwing down the gauntlet, which president-elect Obama refused to pick up.

    There were more such attacks to come, involving seizing aid flotillas headed for Gaza, culminating in a repeat of that full scale invasion of Gaza in 2014, both killing thousands of innocents. Hammond's main point is to separate Obama's weak, nice words -- "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines" -- with his inability to move towards fulfilling them.

  • Okay, by bicycle ‘express’. But that was how i saw myself, galloping along the St Lawrence, a watchful eye out for the enemy yonder across the mighty river. The dirt road is now a bicycle lane (sometimes more, sometimes less) that followed--by a stretch of the imagination--the 18th century trail that once bound Canada together.

    Forget the mindless 401 hurtling by, for the most part, out of sight and sound. Enjoy the exotic roadside wild flowers shouting “I’m alive and bigger and more beautiful than you!” Some otherwise grueling stretches of highway are transformed into zany public gardens, complete with giant monsters and noxious invaders.

    Life in the womb of Upper Canada

  • Azizi Ansari's runaway bestseller Modern Romance is the perfect self-help book. Lots of data, thoughtful interviews with psychologists and 'victims', funny. The celebrated stand-up comic confirms the truth in the oxymoron, "the wise fool". And surprisingly, finds that humans pretty well figured things romantic out long before computers.

    A few nuggets

    Experiments on rats show the "uncertainty principle" in rewards: reward the rat when it presses the knob till s/he figures out it must press the lever to get the treat, but after that, only reward it intermittently. Their reward dopamine levels increase beyond the level when they always get rewarded for knob-pushing, like they're "being coked up". We are rats: in the human version of the experiment, women are most attracted to those guys who are in the 'uncertain' group, those who rated them high are second rate. No doubt this works the same for men.
  • The Gaspé  is considered one of the top hiking spots in the world, after the Grand Canyon, the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Swiss Alps. There are 6,000 km of trails, and a range of vistas from mountains to cliffs facing the mouth of the St Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean. And best of all, it is hardly known outside Quebec—a spectacular, untouched place right in our own backyard.

    For the past decade, hundreds of cross-country skiers—nearly all of them Quebeckers—have come for a six-day, 100-mile-plus ski odyssey through the winter wonderland at the eastern edge of Canada’s largest province. After an article in the New York Times in 2013, 100 Yanks showed up, but as yet, very few Anglo-Canadians. Two years ago, hardy hikers started coming at the end of September to see the fall colours and the caribou, and I opted to join them this year.

    Saturday – The 8-hour 'trek' from Toronto to Montreal brought me to the bus to Gaspé at 5am, just in time. Our guide to Gaspé, Gilbert, was one of the many volunteers, a physiotherapist by profession, our residential doctor for sore feet. He is a joker, and over the microphone acted the voice of an airline pilot explaining to brace ourselves for the 2-hour climb that evening on arrival in Gaspé "to reach the hotel". Ìn line for coffee I met Robert, who is a Montreal-based fundraiser for nonprofit organizations and hospitals, a charmer, well in tune with his profession. We settled in for the 10-hour trip to Carleton-sur-Mer, on the south coast, before moving northeast to Gaspé and then east to Percé.
  • Eric Walberg has now written three books on the topic of Islamic culture in relation to Western geo-politics and world events. He is a prolific journalist and scholar who has lived in Central Asia and the Middle East (1).

    In Walberg's third book, “Islamic Resistance to Imperialism” (2015, Clarity Press, 304 pages), he presents a view of the world most people in the West, especially those exposed to a diet of mainstream media may not be familiar with or sympathetic to. Issues that deal with religion, culture and geo-politics are inherently complex. Even worse, disinformation is intentionally promulgated by Western governments and their lapdogs in the media to mislead the public into supporting the West's “war on terror.”

    The constant drumbeat in the media is that Muslims are “terrorists” and that America needs to police the world to rid this evil. Since communist-totalitarianism in its most overt form fell in the East, a new boogie man needed to to be invented in order to justify the military industrial complex. The gradual demonisation of Muslims in the Hollywood media (See the documentary: “Reel Bad Arabs”) culminated in what I believe was a false flag terror attack on 911. The myth of the Muslim Terrorist was born.

    For this reason, Walberg's book is a healthy antidote to our largely uninformed and biased views on the world's largest growing religious grouping.

  • Eric Walberg is a Canadian journalist who converted to Islam and has been covering the Middle East for a number of years. I do not know whether there are other books about Islam by converts, but this one is written by someone who is fiercely political and who sees Islam as a remedy to the world's ills.[tag]

    Although Walberg does not say so explicitly, the notion of resistance to imperialism has been basic to Islam since the beginning of the Palestinian struggle against Great Britain in the nineteenth century. After the creation of Israel, Iran, Lebanon and Syria became known as 'frontline states' in that resistance (see my review of http://click here).

    This is an ambitious book that may suffer from being at once an argument for Islam as the solution to the woes of the modern world and an analysis of the various aspects of Islamism as well as a history of Islamism's progress or lack thereof by country.

    The fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet - growing faster, according to Time magazine, than the population - notwithstanding Islamophobia - suggests that its appeal is fundamentally different from that of other religions, and Walberg makes that point eloquently, quoting Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member Essam el-Erian, on the Iranian revolution:

    "Young people believe Islam is the solution to the ills in society after the failure of western democracy, socialism and communism to address the political and socio-economic difficulties." It prompted Saudi rebels to occupy the Kaaba that same year in an attempt to spark revolution, Syrian Muslims to rise against their secular dictator Hafez al-Assad in 1980 and future Al-Qaeda leader Aymin Zawahiri to conspire to assassinate Egyptian president Sadat in 1981."

  • Kevin Barrett has become a legend in the US as a fearless journalist who cuts to the quick, his political and analytic skills leading to provocative, truthful explanations of our mostly inexplicable reality. He has written several books dealing with 9/11, and is currently an editor at Veterans Today, and pundit at Press TV, Russia Today, al-Etejah and other international channels. His website is TruthJihad.com. He builds on a well-established American journalistic tradition of brave exposers of government misdoings. Bill Blum and Seymour Hirsh are best known, but there are hundreds more.

    Great American tradition

    Blum is a legend from the 1960s, as the first to amass detailed proof of false flags by the US government. If you still have any trust in the US government's foreign policy, you haven't read Blum's Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since WWII (2004), which documents more than 50 blatant US overthrows of democratic government in the 3rd world, though溶ote溶one occurred in the US (Pearl Harbor is suspicious but no slam-dunk).

    There's no question that the false flag experts in the US government weren't aware of the greatest terrorist event in US history. There are a string of whistle-blowers that show how evidence was ignored or buried building up to the event, evidence which if properly shared by the intelligence agencies, with their special al-Qaeda and Taliban watch groups, could have prevented 9/11. David Shipler interviews several of these forgotten heroes in Freedom of Speech:Mightier Than the Sword (2015). 

  • In Islam, the first two adjectival "most beautiful names" of God are al-Rahman al-Rahim, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. (Or, in Michael Sells' translation, "the Compassionate, the Caring.") The Arabic root of both words derives from "womb" and connotes the kind of outrageously generous love and compassion a mother feels for her children.

    These days, the Western discourse on Islam “especially political Islam“ is not exactly overflowing with compassion and generosity. As the French-Algerian Jew Albert Memmi wrote in The Coloniser and the Colonized, colonizers typically take a very ungenerous view of the people they are attacking, occupying, brutalizing and exploiting. If they admitted the humanity of their victims, they would look in the mirror and see a brutish criminal. So to avoid facing the truth, they project their own criminal brutality on the colonized victim.

    Memmi notes that Western colonizers typically refuse to acknowledge the positive traits of colonized Muslims. Even an admirable virtue such as generosity “ a notable feature of Islamic cultures“ is made into a vice: "Those crazy Muslims don't know the value of money; accept their hospitality, and they'll feed you a meal that costs a month of their salary, and offer you a gift worth ten times that. They're just not frugal!"
  • Book review

    Ken Ballen, Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals, Free Press, 2011.

    This is a strange book—a racy title, documenting the way six jihadis turned to al-Qaeda and its spin-offs in desperation to find some kind of fulfilment in life. There are several Romeo and Juliette stories, though the author seems oblivious to the fact that the 'love' in the title is mostly about devotion to God, however mistaken.

    Ballen is president and founder of Terror Free Tomorrow, “a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that investigates the causes of extremism”. Ballen's CV suggests “nonpartisan” can be taken with a grain of salt, as he spent two decades in law enforcement and intelligence, and was given grudging accommodation by the Pakistani ISI intelligence, and free access to the Saudi Ministry of Intelligence (MOI) Care Center, where captured jihadis are sent for rehabilitation.

    As well as his extended interviews in Saudi Arabia, he gained access to several jihadis still on the run, and relates a truly remarkable story—if he is to be believed—of a Saudi royal son who discovers he is gay and has a passionate affair with his cousin before joining the jihad.

  • Canadian journalist Eric Walberg has produced two very impressive works that between them cover most of what is politically relevant today: Post-Modern Imperialism: Geopolitics and The Great Games, the games being those played on the world political chessboard, and From Post-Modernism to Post-Secularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization, both from Clarity Press.

    Walberg admits that the internet made his task easier, but without a very thorough grounding in political theory and history, they could not have been written. Walberg who has a degree in economic from Cambridge and has lived in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia, specializes in the Middle East. His Great Games are labelled GGI (pre-Russian revolution), GGII (the Cold War era) and today's on-going GG III, which he sees as a US-British-Israeli campaign for world dominance. Walberg shows globalization's brutality, and with theory to back him up, lays it squarely at imperialism's door.

    The scope of this work is vast, but I have chosen one quote that is particularly relevant to current events. Since 2008, the European Union, built up painstakingly after two world wars devastated the continent, has been teetering on collapse, and I have often affirmed that it is a deliberate American policy to destroy that elaborate welfare state. Walberg's confirmation is stunning:

  • Review of Morten Storm with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.
    ISBN 978-0-8021-2314-5

    Summary: As IS continues to confound the West with its consolidation of a Salafist-inspired resurrection of a ‘caliphate’, the Danish mole responsible for leading the CIA to Anwar Awlaki has caused a scandal by publishing his memoirs of life “inside al Qaeda and the CIA”.

    Recruiting Muslims has not been easy for western ‘intelligence’. The New York Police Department has tried for decades to recruit Muslim immigrants, and was finally embarrassed by a 2013 ACLU lawsuit to disband its most public recruiting unit, which essentially blackmailed anyone with a Muslim name arrested on any pretext, including parking tickets.

    The most successful double agent prior to Morten Storm was Omar Nasiri (b. 1960s), the pseudonym of a Moroccan spy who infiltrated al-Qaeda, attending training camps in Afghanistan and passing information to the UK and French intelligence services. He revealed all in his fascinating memoirs Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda A Spy’s Story in 2006.

  • Thoughts on From Postmodernism to Postsecularism

    Chandra Muzaffar in dialogue with Eric Walberg

    Muzaffar: Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergII.html is a stimulating and informative survey of both Islamic history and reformist thought, culminating in an analysis of the ongoing upheavals in WANA.

    The book is an extensive exposition on Islamic Civilization itself. It covers the whole spectrum of dynasties, major episodes and personalities which is why the book should be an important reference for students of the civilization.

    You are right, Eric, in arguing that for Islam the goal has always been “to nurture a morally sound community based on the Quran…” (p28). There have been endeavours in that direction in the past—some successes, many failures. In this regard, I am wondering why you did not mention specifically the moral indictment of Muawiyyah by Abu-Dharr Al-Giffari who some would view as the first major critic of the creeping injustices in early Muslim leadership?

  • In his introduction, Eric Walberg states, “The main purpose of this book is to help the reader to understand the alternative map which Islam offers.” This is both a literal and figural map, an alternative to the imperial and neocolonial boundaries that divide the Islamic world, and an alternative viewpoint to that of the imperial driver of capitalism. This offer includes “realigning ourselves with Nature, and rediscovering humanities’ spiritual evolutionary path…without abandoning the vital role of reason.”

    This path along this alternate view is created strongly, with an obvious sympathy for the parts of Islam that are little known to the capitalist imperial view. It is a fully comprehensive path, leading the reader through time and through not just the Middle East, but on into Northern Africa, the Sahel, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

    The path always interacts with the imperial capitalist landscape ranging from the original European nationalist empires of France, Britain, Spain, and Holland on through to the hegemonic empire of the United States that has subordinated the previous empires into its fold. This has been done through military backing of corporate enterprises and many financial maneuverings that have – up until now – managed to stretch this empire into a full global span.

    The first chapter, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, explains the nature of the Koran without the political prejudice brought on by imperial reaction (blowback) to occupation and creation of the ‘evil’ other. Following that, it presents a broad history of Islam up until the era of the First World War. While the interactions with Christianity were often violent, Islamic expansion eastward generally tended to be accomplished more peacefully through trade and missionaries – the latter of course being against the military corporate interests of the west.

  • Forging a Socialist-Islamist Alliance
    Review of Eric Walberg's From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization, Clarity Press, 2013

    By William T. Hathaway

    Most western Middle East experts see Islam as a problem for the West -- a source of terrorism, religious fanaticism, unwanted immigrants -- and they see their job as helping to change the Middle East so it's no longer a problem for us. Eric Walberg, however, recognizes that this is another instance of the Big Lie.

    The actual problem is the multifaceted aggression the West has been inflicting on the Middle East for decades and is determined to continue, no matter what the cost to them and us will be. His books and articles present the empirical evidence for this with scholarly precision and compassionate concern for the human damage done by our imperialism.

  • Brain research and social psychology have made astounding advances in understanding the mind. These two books will blow yours. The implications for western 'civilization' are profound. Here are some notes.

    Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Doubleday, 2011.
    -heuristic (system 1 rule of thumb) biases -overconfident (first impression), resemblance, ease of memory search, emotion (sympathy for psychopathic charm), halo effect (exaggerate emotional reaction), WYSIATI (what you see is all there is), treating problems in isolation (not integrate variables), framing effects (context, importance of first impression, including page layout etc), priming (thinking about x -> x), endowment effect (owning x appears to increase its value)
    -fallacies re human nature -rational, emotions such as fear, affection and hatred explain departures from rationality
    -rather systmatic errors in thinking due to design of machinery of cognition rather than the corruption of thought by emotion. luck plays large role in success. accurate intuitions of experts better explained by skill and practice incorporated into heuristics. (variant of reason/ faith dialectic)
    -system 1 (fast thinking) -automatic operations (associative memory, automatic mental activities (perception and memory), unconscious/ conscious skills incorporated from system 2 as automatic, -> heuristic
    -system 2 -controlled operations -both self-contol and cognitive effort (allocates attention to effortful mental activities when demanded requiring choice and concentration, can reprogram normally automatic funs of attention and memory)
    -also experiencing vs remembering self (a construct of system 2 but incorporating (fast) associative memories of system 1) -what makes experiencing self happy not same as what satisfies remembering self -need to balance using system 2 slow thinking. -memory both system 1&2 and system 2 can adjust system 1 experiencing/ associative memories (ie, counterintuitive steering out of icy skid)

  • Lawrence Wright, Twins: and What They Tell Us About Who We Are, John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

    These notes summarize the main findings of twinning studies during the past century which lead to some startling conclusions.

    -behaviorism (BFSkinner) argued all behavior genetically based (we are the product of natural selection) but can be programmed in the individual. he denied special genes for altruism/ criminality/ other character trait -what our genes give us is the capacity to adapt to our environment. we are not innately good/ bad, rather determined by our environment. there is no individual responsibility. to change behavior we must design a different environment.
    -but twin studies suggests genetic basis to behavior (approximately 50%, ie, 1/2 determined, 1/2 'free will' which we develop by creating our own environment as we mature and become more self-aware)

  • In August 2013, Marxism Leninism Today editor Zoltan Zigedy reviewed Eric Walberg’s new book From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization

    Zoltan Zigedy summarized Walberg’s writing in the following terms

    1. The last great secular social justice project — socialism — has failed with the demise of the Soviet Union.
    2. Islam and its attendant political-social-economic doctrines are viable alternative routes to social justice.
    3. Islam is the only alternative that can deliver social justice. Therefore, Islam is the universal way to social justice.

    My -comments to Zoltan's >points:

    >the rise of Islamic civilization that Walberg foresaw was dashed on the rocks of divisiveness and foreign intervention

    -I see this 'Islamic awakening' as coming in waves. the 2013 coup in Egypt is a trough, but the process of evolution/ revolution continues. the openness and experience of the Islamists cannot be put back in the djin's bottle.
    I recall young Egyptian friends who were 'politicized' after the 2011 uprising. they didn't join secular groups, but the Muslim Brotherhood -- a huge move by millions of Egyptian youth. this has never been mentioned anywhere in the press. the ongoing demonstrations are courageous and principled, and deserve our respect and support.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.it/daniele-scalea/islam-vs-capitalismo_b_4095817.html

    summary: Islam has a complete social doctrine which opposes the exploitation of man by man and lending at interest. For this reason, Islam is, in the contemporary world after the end of communism, the great alternative to capitalism. Massimo Campanini, one of the leading Italian scholars of the field, in his History of the Middle East, confirms that Islam stands as challenge to the idea of "end of history". But this challenge is not extremist Islam and terrorism, which in his opinion is already defeated, but two other "Islamists".

  • Resisting The Modernist Nightmare: Islam As Road To Peace?  by Richard Wilcox

    Following the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, there was supposed to have been a “peace dividend” which would have allowed the world to stop wasting money on arms manufacturing and explore roads toward peace and commerce. However, the Cold War itself may have been a ruse to some extent in order to justify the growth of global totalitarian government and corporate power in both the West and East, and as a result a peaceful world was never achieved.

    Even the most naïve observer could see that something was very odd, given that at the same moment that the Russian enemy was tamed and the Berlin Wall had fallen, a new, even more nefarious enemy was born: the Muslim Terrorist. This seamless transition that benefited the military industrial complex and zionist warmongers was practically lifted out of a Hollywood script. In fact, Hollywood played an important role in creating the caricature and stereotype of the “evil Muslim” through innumerable anti-Muslim Hollywood propaganda films.

  • This book is a continuation of my earlier work, Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games (2011), though it stands on its own. My purpose in Postmodern Imperialism was to give a picture of the world from the viewpoint of those on the receiving end of imperialism. It traces the manipulation of Islamists by imperialism, and poses the question: What are the implications of the revival of Islamic thought and activism for the western imperial project?

    The subject of this work is the expansion of Islam since the seventh century, when revelations delivered to the Prophet Muhammad led to its consolidation as the renewal and culmination of Abrahamic monotheism. It looks at the parallels between the Muslim world today and past crises in Islamic civilization, which gave impetus to reforms and renewal from within, relying on the Quran and hadiths,1 and attempts to interpret recent history from the viewpoint of the Muslim world—how it sees the imposition on it of western systems and beliefs, and how it is dealing with this.

    The period up to and including the occupation of the Muslim world by the western imperialists corresponds to Postmodern Imperialism’s Great Game I (GGI). For Asians, the most important event heralding the possibility of a new post-GGI ‘game’ was the Japanese victory in 1905 over Russia. Japan had successfully reformed via the Meiji Restoration in 1868, inspiring all Asia, including China and the Muslim world, which saw Japan’s determination to develop independently of the imperial powers as a way out of the colonial trap that they were rapidly falling into.

  • European Journal of American Studies review of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

    (March 2012)

    Recent history for even the casual observer of international affairs has been plagued by wars and conflicts in specific regions of the world.  The wars in Central Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, seem to indicate the latest machinations in the imperial designs of the USA.  For many, using the term imperialism and connecting it to the USA is at best inappropriate.  For others, American interventions in particular countries or specific regions of the world represent the practices of a hegemonic power and the expansion of an American empire.  Some even argue that the nature of American imperialism is utterly novel, and deserving of a new label:  ‘postmodern imperialism.’  As the title of Eric Walberg’s book, his examination of the trajectories of contemporary imperialism includes scrutiny of the geopolitical interests of the USA and its “new developments in financial and military-political strategies to ensure control over the world’s resources” (27-28).  While Postmodern Imperialism primarily focuses on key aspects of imperialism, geopolitical analysis and commentary forms the foundation of Walberg’s narrative.

  • Robert Wright, Nonzero: the logic of human destiny (2000)

    -organic evolution tends to create more complex forms of life, raising overall entropy but concentrating order locally
    -Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, the thinking envelope of the Earth
    -throughout nature, main trend is the increase in capacity for information processing, storage and analysis. DNA not just data, but data processor.
    -the function of the energy marshaled by an organism or society not just to sustain and protect structure, but to guide the marshaling.
    -secret of life not DNA but zero sum (zs)/ nonzero sum (nzs) games (to better pass on one’s DNA - the ‘meaning of life’).
    ‘laws of nature’:

  • Review of Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World,

    Sadakat Kadri

    New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012

    There are 50 Muslim-majority states in the world; 11 of them, including Egypt, have constitutions that acknowledge Islam as a source of national law. In Heaven on Earth, Sadakat Kadri, an English barrister and New York attorney, provides a much-needed and highly readable overview of Islamic legal history and an entertaining survey of the state of Islamic law today, full of fascinating anecdotes.

    For instance, have you heard the one about the eleventh-century Sufi mystic whose prayers were interrupted by a familiar voice: "Oh, Abu Al-Hasan!" it boomed. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your sins, so that they stone you to death?" "Oh, Lord," Al-Hasan whispered back. "Do you want me to tell people what I know about your mercy, so that none will ever feel obliged to bow down to you again?" "Keep your secret," came God's conspiratorial reply. "And I will keep mine."

    Such risqué offerings aside, Kadri looks at the development of Islamic law from the time of the Prophet, focussing on attitudes to war, criminal justice, religious tolerance, and movements of reform through history. He provides valuable background for all those concerned and/or excited about today's resurgence of Islam. As the fastest growing religion, second only to Christianity in numbers (and surely first in terms of sincere practitioners), Islam is an increasingly powerful force not only in the world of religion, but in the realms of culture, politics and even economics.
  • Guided missives

    Ard ard (Surface-to-surface): The story of a graffiti revolution
    Sherif Abdel-Megid
    Egyptian Association for Books 2011
    ISBN 978-977-207-102-9

    Graffiti -- the art of the masses, by the masses, for the masses -- has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and arguably to Pharaonic Egypt. Sherif Abdel-Megid, a writer who works for Egyptian television, boasts that Egypt's revolution and the explosion of popular art that followed it finds its roots in the decay of the Sixth dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom, following the reign of Pepi II (2278-2184 BC), credited with having the longest reign of any monarch in history at 94 years (Mubarak, eat your heart out). His own decline paralleled the disintegration of the kingdom and it is thanks to Pharaonic graffiti that we know about it.

  • I confess that I cringe when I see the word “post-modern.” This word has obscured more discussions, confused more gullible readers, and conned more writers than any word since “existential” and its “-ism.” For the most part, it has served as a kind of fashionable linguistic operator that signals something radical and profound will follow. Almost always, what follows disappoints.

    Eric Walberg’s book, Postmodern Imperialism (Clarity Press, 2011), doesn’t change my general opinion of the word, though what follows the title certainly doesn’t disappoint.

    Walberg has offered a welcome taxonomy of imperialism from its nineteenth century genesis until today; he has given a plausible explanation of imperialism’s contours since the exit of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialism from the world stage; and he has convincingly described Israel’s unique role in the continuing reshaping of imperialism’s grasp for world domination.

  •  I. Let the Games Begin…Again…and Again

    The great disaffected masses tell us that history is on the march and, as usual, guns and butter are the simpler issues. In America, support dwindles for a war that has lasted a decade. Drone missiles, each costing $100,000, kill “terrorists” in gutturally named, chicken-scratch places bewilderingly far from America’s hometowns, whose simple citizens ask where their taxes go. Costs of the Afghanistan war this year are the highest ever, $119.4 billion and counting.[1] Polls show historically deep disaffection with The System. The mask of America-First patriotism is falling, revealing an intoxicated self-grandiosity and will to power by renascent Bush-era neocons and cynical manipulations by the CEO caste and other one-percenters for more and more wealth, and whose sense of entitlement the victims of class warfare, lumpen proles and petit bourgeoisie alike, seem unable to stomach any longer.[2] Approval of the Republican led-by-gridlock Congress hovers around fifteen percent.[3] Ever-larger protests in other cities in America and internationally have extended those on Wall Street – protests even a year ago one would never have predicted – and “class warfare – rich against poor” appears on the protestors’ signs.

    The disaffected might also ask why the US, as Eric Walberg notes in his extraordinary new book, has 730 American military bases in fifty countries around the globe, and why the US share of the world’s military expenditures is 42.8% while, by comparison, China’s is 7.3% and Russia’s 3.6%. The unavoidable irony is that the Pax Americana seems to be requiring endless war with no particular rationale behind it – and truly astonishing numbers of dollars are spent on behalf of war rather than at home. What may be fatally undermining credibility in America’s “transcendent values” has been the sense that as the facts filter down to the masses, the Empire’s new clothes appear to be the same as that of past empires. All empires have births and deaths – the US Empire will be no different. Internal contradictions of the US efforts to control the globe seem now to be sending things spiraling out of control.[4]

  • Eric Walberg’s acute insights into the contemporary global order raise many questions about the continued viability of the American and Israeli focus on wealth and power. Perhaps understandably, his interests and insights inspired by the Islamic world make him a penetrating commentator on peoples who are a product of Christian and Jewish tradition.

    Walberg is a Canadian authority on the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia who writes for Al Ahram, the best known English language newspaper in the Middle East.

  • Though the number of critical voices concerning Israel, Zionism and Jewish power is growing steadily, a clear distinction can be made on the one hand between contributors who operate within the discourse and are politically oriented, and others who transcend themselves above and beyond any given political paradigm.

    The former category refers to writers and scholars who operate 'within the box,' accepting the restrictive measures of a given political and intellectual discourse. A thinker who operates within such a framework would initially identify the boundaries of the discourse, and then shape his or her ideas to fit in accordingly. The latter category refers to a far more challenging intellectual attempt: it includes those very few who operate within a post-political realm, those who defy the dictatorship of 'political-correctness', or any given 'party-line'. It relates to those minds that think 'out of the box'. And it is actually those who, like artists, plant the seeds of a possible conceptual and consciousness shift.

  • The Wandering Who? A study of Jewish identity politics, gives a unique insider’s view of the Israeli mind. Its author explains to Eric Walberg that you can take the girl out of Jezebel, but you can’t take Jezebel out of the girl

    Gilad Atzmon is a world citizen who calls London his home. He was born a sabra, and served as a paramedic in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 1982 Lebanon War, when he realised that “I was part of a colonial state, the result of plundering and ethnic cleansing.” He has wandered far since then, become a novelist, philosopher, one of the world’s best jazz saxophonists, and at the same time, one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinian cause, supporting their right of return and the one-state solution. He now defines himself as a “proud self-hating Jew” and “a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian”. In 2009 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quoted Atzmon during a debate with Israeli president Shimon Peres, telling him at the World Economic Forum that “Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty.”

  • Three books recently published by the American radical publisher Clarity Press reflect different aspects of racism in the US, which even under a black president is unfortunately alive and well, promoted in US policy at home and abroad -- if not officially:

    Devon Mihesua, American Indians: Stereotypes and Realities

    Stephen Sheehi, Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims

    Francis Boyle, The Palestinian Right of Return Under International Law

  • -secular thinkers imagine they have left religion behind, but have only exchanged religion for a humanist faith in progress

    -Joseph Roth worried about spread of ideas of national self-determination. Monarchy was more tolerant. A society can be civilized without recognizing rights, while one based on rights may be tainted with barbarism (Austria-Hungary abolished torture in 1776)

    -torture is Enlightenment tradition, 'progress' a legacy of Christianity (salvation in battle between good and evil Zoroastra). 'God defeats evil' translated into secular terms. also meliorism of liberal humanists. Enlightenment hostile to Christianity but used Christian framework.

  • -US enriched rather than impoverished by the two world wars and by their outcome, nothing in common with Britain -> still glorifies military, sentiment familiar in Europe before 1945.

    -in Europe, dominant sentiment relief at "final closing of a long, unhappy chapter" vs in US - story recorded in a triumphalist key. war works. thus remains the first option, vs last resort

    -20th c rise and fall of the state. welfare state a cross-party 20th c consensus implemented by liberals or conservatives not as first stage of 20th c socialism but culmination of late-19th c reformist liberalism, prerequisites of a stable civil order. p10

    -citizens lost gnawing sentiment of insecurity and fear that had dominated political life between 1914 and 1945. forgot this fear -> neoliberalism. now fear reemerging [-> neofascism], fear that not only we but those 'in authority' have lost control of forces beyond their reach [implicitly acknowledging the cabal of international bankers/ military industrial complex (mic) that conspire above governments, tho Judt would be the first to dismiss this p20]

  • Clarity Press June 2011

    advanced purchase http://www.claritypress.com/Walberg.html


    To young people today, the world as a global village appears as a given, a ready-made order, as if human evolution all along was logically moving towards our high-tech, market-driven society, dominated by the wealthy United States. To bring the world to order, the US must bear the burden of oversize defense spending, capture terrorists, eliminate dictators, and warn ungrateful nations like China and Russia to adjust their policies so as not to hinder the US in its altruistic mission civilatrice.

    The reality is something else entirely, the only truth in the above characterization being the overwhelming military dominance of the US in the world today. The US itself is the source of much of the world’s terrorism, its 1.6 million troops in over a thousand bases around the world the most egregious terrorists, leaving the Osama bin Ladens in the shade, and other lesser critics of US policies worried about their job prospects.

    My own realization of the true nature of the world order began with my journey to England to study economics at Cambridge University in September 1973. I decided to take the luxury SS France ocean liner which offered a student rate of a few hundred dollars (and unlimited luggage), where I met American students on Marshall and Rhodes scholarships (I had the less prestigious Mackenzie King scholarship), and used my wiles to enjoy the perks of first class. The ship was a microcosm of society, a benign one. The world was my oyster and I wanted to share my joy with everyone.

    But I was in for a shock.

Purchase Eric Walberg's Books

Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html