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Citizen Journalism Versus the Establishment: RT Interviews Luke Rudkowski

18 Dec

Citizen Journalism Versus the Establishment:  Russia Today Interview with ‘We Are Change’s‘ Luke Rudkowski

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Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change on RT discussing the mainstream media, society’s problems, and what is needed to fix them.  Take a look.  This isn’t an endorsement of either WRC or Rudkowski, and I don’t agree with them on everything; nevertheless their work as citizen activists and independent journalists is essential given what’s going on in today’s society. Great interview by the way. RT and Anastasia Churkina did a superb job with it. I hope you like it.

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Some Great Posts from the Proyect Blog

18 Dec

Bunch of good articles on the Proyect blog over the past week.  Be sure to check them out.  These three are especially good.  Hope you like them.

  1. Bard College and the real world
  2. The stoning of Oliver Stone
  3. Was Che Guevara a Stalinist?

And here’s this excellent passage from “Bard College and the real world.” –

“Some closing thoughts. … There’s always a tension between our ideals and the “real world” that in some ways is analogous to Plato’s story of the cave. It is a struggle to hew to our youthful ideals in a world that is fundamentally aligned with the insides of a cave, as testified by news reports that come our way on  a daily basis, the latest of which is the kindergarten massacre in Connecticut.

Of all my  Bertolt Brecht quotes, this is my favorite:

‘There are men who struggle for a day, and they are good. There are others who struggle for a year, and they are better. There are some who struggle many years, and they are better still. But there are those who struggle all their lives, and these are the indispensable ones.’

Whether you struggle with a camera or a poet’s pen, or most quixotically with a propagandist’s, it is a Sisyphean task. Here’s my salute to those who never give up. Keep on keeping on.”

For more information and to see the rest of what he’s written since last Wednesday, go to http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/.

Wonderful material all of it.  I hope you’ll take some time to look over and read his posts there.  Thanks.

How about making Chopra an “honorary sufi sheik?”

17 Dec

How about Making Chopra an “honorary sufi sheik?”

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Fascinating idea. But I have a better idea.  How about making Deepak Chopra (or the Dalai Lama for that matter) “honorary sufi sheik(s)?” … LOL … 

Seems that’s where science/mysticism related work is headed these days anyway with syncretized faith systems and mushy one-world, new-world-order, new age religion.  That’s why it makes better sense to have your leadership on social justice issues and humanitarian-spirituality come from a Gandhi or a King.  They just don’t carry the same sort of silly mumbo-jumbo or New Age-style baggage with them as much as these others.

So where’s a far left-leaning, anti-Establishment, secularist to go in an enlightened revolution of buddha-led progressives?  Not far I guess; which is why you don’t put “enlightened” revolutionaries in charge of left-liberal movements.

It’s a shame, but I think we’re condemned to multiple-leader movements on the Left and in terms of our progressive activism.   The Chomskys, Vidals – they provide the intellectual heft of the total movementHedges, the activist- journalistic angle, and for spirituality: an MLK.

A (Coordinated) Movement-of-movements.  That’s where we need to go to take on the Establishment.

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http://darwiniana.com/2012/12/12/making-chomsky-an-honorary-sufi-sheik-your-move-i-am-not-a-sufi-myself/

12.12.12

Making Chomsky an honorary sufi sheik? Your move. I am not a sufi myself

Posted in General at 12:28 pm by nemo

http://darwiniana.com/2012/12/11/a-communist-sufism/

The idea of a communist sufism would demand real leadership from someone qualified to do that in an exotic and original way, navigating the dangerous shoals of two complex cultural complexes. I cannot do that myself, becaue I am not a sufi, and am unwelcome in sufi circles. A pity, I know more about sufism than most sufis. But real sufism is quite rare, although, never having been in an Islamic country, I can’t say for sure. Go and read The Gurdjieff Con, and you will see why I won’t be promoting communist sufism any time soon. At the same time, it is possible and right to do that anyway, as a discussion. It is totally unfair for sufism to be hijacked by reactionaries, witness the fascist echoes in Gurdjieff et al.

Making Chomsky an honorary sufi sheik? Terrible idea, no? Uh-oh. But go ahead, and try it. Great. You might destroy Chomsky in the process. The idea was pressed on me by various people who dislike me but like my idea, not wanting me to have anything to do with. Thanks alot. I suggested making Zizek a sufi, half humorously. But it is a dangerous business. My point perhaps was that sufis have deeply penetrated the cultures in that South European zone.  Keep in mind these people are not theists, and would get in trouble forthwith in that culture (as would sufis, who tend to hide behind orthodoxy). As for being a sheik, Chomsky has no knowledge of sufism, nor do most sufis.

Go look at Avatar: the scifi people have rediscovered something sufis appear to know, in a way that they hide deeply. Soul creation, so-called. It has nothing to do with the technology nonsense in the movie. These statements are confusing, because almost all humans on this planet have already experienced some form of soul-creation. Maybe a few holdouts in the Borneo highlands (but they could be more advanced than we are). But the sufi version is mysterious, the lore of the completed man, and constitutes real sufism. I have no real place in any of that. Any sufi sheik needs a deep knowledge to work with people, and it is even harder with non-Moslems. Is the question hopeless? I fear Islamic sufis would peddle a fake to western communists and have a good laugh.

My point was that there is absolutely no reason why sufism can’t be a radicalism in motion, even along the lines of marxism. Marxism has been denounced by reactionary sufis, but they have no grounds for such an attitude. As I have noted, original buddhism was a revolutionary movement, though not in the sense we use the term now. But marxism is unnecesary cast in the form of atheism and materialism, which throws religionists out of whack. It has nothing to do necessarily with the economic critique of Marx.

Leftists might forget about ‘sufism’ and simply work with Moslems and sufis. At the right moment the sufi epiphany might come.

Inspiration is for Everyone

11 Dec

Inspiration is for Everyone (Not Just for the Gifted Few)

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http://inspirationalfreethought.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/inspiration-is-a-privilege/

“What I really want to say is that we should have a sense of humility and an acknowledgment that inspirational freethought is a luxury. It’s an unfortunate fact of the world that optimism and hope isn’t possible for everyone. Rather than trying to impose happiness and hope on others based on some limited perspective, the fact that hope is scarce in the world should drive us to do something about it.”

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Calling “Inspiration” a “Privilege”

This is concerning to me.  Yes, not everyone has the opportunity to truly appreciate a sunrise, listen to beautiful music, or revel in the sights and sounds of nature.  That’s true.  But saying inspiration is a “privilege.”  It just doesn’t set well.

A Privilege.  From Whom?  For What?  And to Whom?

My problem is the word “privilege” and what it connotes.  Inspiration (and its sister idea, appreciation) isn’t something endowed from on high.  It’s something everyone should be able to enjoy (even if they can’t always given their particular circumstances in life).

But to say it’s a privilege indicates some special people are being gifted with it, while the rest of the poor folks in the world aren’t.

I’m not sure I buy that.  It’s not about the endowed betters of humanity getting something the rest of the unwashed masses in society aren’t. It’s more about such individuals having the occasion to partake of something we all (to a greater or lesser extent) have equal access to in life from birth by/through our common humanity and our shared human nature.

And while it is true some have greater means to it than others, this isn’t a reflection on their being a better quality of person than other people.  It’s more a question of whether they’re able to more easily access it than other people of lesser means due to socioeconomic status, physical or metal limitations, or other extenuating circumstances.

That’s all. Nothing to do whatsoever with life doling out its ‘blessings‘ to gifted elites and by unequal means to the so-called privileged few of the world.

Inspiration is for everyone.  But if we want to ensure everyone has equal access to it, we need to make sure the society is structured in a way everyone can adequately avail themselves of that blessing and the opportunity to appreciate the world in all its wonders regardless of whether they’re rich or poor,geniuses or not, etc.

Otherwise, this “privilege” … It’s just hollow and empty.  And if that’s what “inspiration” really entails, who needs it anyway.  The elites of the world are welcome to keep it to themselves.  The rest of us will get by without it.

Haven’t we learned the lesson of Dr. Seuss’s “The Sneetches yet?  … Guess not.  Too bad.   It’s to our own [bad] credit as a society and as human beings in the world that we haven’t.

We can do better. But until we fix the problems in our society, will we?  That’s the question!  Our choice is before us.  Which way will we turn?

Science and Principle: Building a Better Society

23 Apr

Science and Principle:  A Vision of Science can help us better form our Values and Concepts in order to Build a Better Society

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The U.S. Presidential election is just six months away and already the campaign politics of Republican ideology versus Democratic has gotten into full swing with Barack Obama pitted against his GOP challengers, most notably Romney, with the Ron Paul movement in close pursuit trying to pull off an upset for their favorite Texas Congressman.

What a time then to look back on the U.S.A’.’s roots and consider the ideas that made it what it is today as a nation.  Thomas Jefferson, one of this country’s most well-known Founders, and major drafter of the Declaration of Independence, was a man of contradictions – slaveholder and advocate for liberty, humanist but unafraid to use the civil theologies of the time in order to advance the causes of freedom and republicanism he believed in.

So it should be no surprise then that we today face the kinds of political frictions we do, when from the very beginning of the nation and before, and indeed right at the advent of the American Revolution itself, the colonies were as rife with these contradictions as they are now, and that such incongruities were cemented into the very core of it from the start through the very people who lived through such times and made them what they were.

Not surprising either that the “big issues” we confront at present – questions of Reason and Truth, Science and Philosophy, Freedom and Equality – were major areas of concern for the peoples of Jefferson’s day too with about as much consensus around them as we have today over atheism, empiricism, and liberal values in society [and whether gov’t has a duty to assist the less fortunate].

Take, for instance, this famous passage of the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Nothing all that controversial about these ideas; and, yet, look at them more closely. … They are framed in exactly the same sorts of concepts we’re having such trouble with today viz-a-vis the fight over free will, the science-philosophy debate, religion versus non-belief, and the role of government to provide for its citizens versus the idea of ruling over them as subjects.

The right to pursue happiness, to live, and be free of lordly restraints in society … We can all for the most part agree with these ideas. … But should we accept them on word of authority or even social convention without considering reasons WHY we embrace them and the evidence FOR their being adopted, let alone any idea or value we choose to adopt as thinking human beings?

SELF EVIDENCE:  It is enough to accept things on self-evidence alone (taking something as a given) or, in our day and age, should we even be looking beyond these truisms and philosophical postulates to actually discover the true bases behind why we really believe in human equality, affirm human rights, and so forth?  … At best is the notion of self-evidence a cop-out and at worst, is it in fact, a form of reinforcing a kind of dogmatic, metaphysical thinking about the world? … If that’s the case, then we have to honestly reassess the founding values of Western republicanism and democracy in place like the United States.  We have to scientifically and humanistically probe these ideals for the real merit they bear us and the challenges they present us in carrying them out.

“CREATIVE” DISSONANCE:  We may agree on issues of social equality and championing it, but what if its roots are up for grabs?  What then?  … What of being “created equal” if there is no God-Creator to “create” men [and women] “equally?”  What of the “endowment” with “unalienable rights” if no God-Being is around to “endow” them on humankind? …  Where then do these values and these principles come from if they were not “given” by a “Creator?”  … That question needs to be further explored and strongly weighed as an idea (by secular humanists especially) rather than just taking it for granted they exist and arose up ‘out of the blue.’ … Where did they arise from? …

It’s not enough to say these inalienable rights arise [and arose] from social convention. … Social conventions alone could never have provided the justification for asserting self-rule and breaking away from the authoritarian governance of kings and princes as was done by the American colonists.  Some other factor or set of factors had to be in play here in order to provide the basis on which Independence and Revolution were successfully argued for and won.  … A notion of natural rights, deriving from natural law, is the only instrumentality through which such a justification could have come, and thus be able to carry forth a case for separation w/o immediately being put down by the British imperial force and the idea for “liberty” being squelched as a result. … In other words, if a Creator didn’t endow these rights and establish this principle of human equality, then they must have arose out of a context of historical and evolutionary development … And that’s how these ideas could achieved the impact they did in lieu of a God-Creator bestowing them on humanity.

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I hope I’ve convinced you these founding ideals of the United States/Western democratic-republicanism  aren’t as set in stone as is sometimes it’s assumed they are in public discussion and popular civics … that they were shaped in fact out of the very problems we’re struggling with today as peoples of the modern world in terms of secular values, liberal democratic principles, and palpable reason … and that just as science has something to offer in terms of illuminating contemporary philosophy as a whole, it can also shed light on many of these founding principles of the U.S government and society.

True, maybe it’s not needed … Maybe we can get along without science taking a scalpel to the major concepts of the Constitution, The Federalist Papers, and the Declaration of Independence to plumb them for better knowledge of ourselves and our world while extricating them from the irrationalities of the past … But if the surgery of science is needed on such things as Biblical ethics and Greco-Roman philosophy, gleaning from them their essential and worthwhile parts while cutting out the excess baggage of religionism and metaphysics, then why not on the very precepts that founded American society in the United States? … That’s why we should pay attention to a document like the Declaration of Independence.  Its ideas deserve greater scrutiny.

A vision of science can help us better frame our values and ideas about the world.  Not doing so only condemns us to remain chained to the nonsense of the past.  For the sake of our future, we owe ourselves and our children the understanding that comes from combing these principles for their empirical merits and particulars.

Our future and the future of our society depends on it.

The “Marxist Naysaying” of Liberal Critics

11 Apr

Great piece by Louis Proyect over at the Unrepentant Marxist blog.  Maybe now the Marxist naysaying of liberal critics, in whatever form they come, can be brought to a close.  He may have had his faults as a political thinker and advocate for social change, but Karl Marx is still a boon and a beacon for our times.  Kudos to LP for writing this piece and saying what needed to be said.

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http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/british-liberals-versus-karl-marx-marx-wins-by-a-tko/

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — April 9, 2012 — British liberals versus Karl Marx; Marx wins by a TKO — Filed under: economics,liberalism,ussr — louisproyect @ 6:12 pm

Caught in the Throes of Embattlement

11 Apr

Caught in the Throes of Embattlement:  Atheism and the Catch-22 of Cultural Warfare.  Liberal Values as the Remedy for a “Clash of Civilizations” Mindset about the World and the Inevitable Chaos Resulting from such a View.

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I don’t know quite what to think about this piece.  … I don’t believe in any sort of atheism that has to be politically-correct from a leftward leaning point of view … The movement should be broader than that, I agree, and I do maintain a Secularly Liberal position. … But at the same time, I’m very concerned about a kind of political Rightism spearheading the secular movement via the so-called New Atheism.

There’s no reason why atheists should be the political dupes of the neoconservatives or pawns in an agenda of promoting the us-against-them attitude of the rightward-leaning, West-against-the-Rest culture war bloc.  You can still cast a broad, politically inclusive net via the secular-atheist community without having to get caught up in extraneous political and ideological debates over its nature as a movement or risk losing conservative supporters in the process.

Yet at the same time, something has to be done about the manner in which an embattled atheism faces the world w/o slipping into the myopic jingoism of conservative ideologues who want to ‘go to war‘ with others, under the pretense of preemption in a replay of the Samuel Huntington’s idea of a Clash of Civilizations.  That kind of an attitude is not helpful in the modern world of the 21st century, as our world teeters precipitously on the edge of large scale regional warfare where the “nuclear option” is almost always on the table.  A left-liberal attitude forestalls this by its emphasis on pluralism and peace (i.e., through the antiwar perspective).

So if the “weaponization of atheism” is a problem in fact, it doesn’t have to be.  There’s a foil to slipping into the throes of embattlement, and that foil is a Liberal philosophy of human interaction and international relations.  The “irrationality” of religion isn’t the only enemy humankind faces; the war drive and the Hobbesian/Nietzsche-esque mindset accompanying it is equally its enemy.

Humanity’s future depends on secular modernity’s squarely facing this problem as much (and as stridently) as it does the religious superstitions of the past.  Atheism and the secular movement should re-affirm a commitment to pluralism and antiwar values.   For, somewhat paradoxically, that’s how we’re going to win the culture wars.  That’s how we’re going to win the fight against these warlike impulses exuding out from humanity’s religious traditions, collective experiences, and irrational leanings in history.

How do you really win against the spirit of war embedded in the human psyche?  You make [the] peace.  That’s the mission for liberals and secularists in the times ahead as we drift closer and closer to war entanglements on the international stage, whether it be in places like Iran or in other places like Syria.  The Doomsday Clock can indeed be stopped. It’s just a question of whether we’re civilized enough and evolved enough as present-day human beings to do it.

Are we? …