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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Rationalism
Posted: October 20, 2019 at 10:16 pm
(Galations 5: 1)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
1) According to the the Founding Fathers, tyranny shall not prevail and it is our duty to root it out wherever it rears its ugly head. This, indeed, is our country. One civil war has already been fought, at great price!
2) So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed' (John 8:36).
3) For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God (1 Peter 2:15-16).
4 ) For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
The Founding Fathers, 27 of whom were trained as ministers, took their pledge seriously. On the morning of the signing, there was silence and gloom as each man was called up to the table of the President of Congress to sign the document, knowing that it could mean their death by hanging. The American Revolutionary War was a pivotal event in world history, and the constitutional republic that followed has produced the freest, most productive society ever. No one can deny that most of the Founding Fathers were religious men or that the liberty they fought for has benefited millions of people, but was their revolt against England Biblically justified? Specifically, was the American Revolution a violation of Romans 13:1-7???During the years before the Revolutionary War, the issue of justified rebellion was widely debated, with good men on both sides of the issue. Not surprisingly, most English preachers, such as John Wesley, urged restraint and pacifism on the part of the colonists; while most Colonial preachers, such as John Witherspoon and Jonathan Mayhew, fanned the flames of revolution.
1 Peter 2:15-17 The Message (MSG)
Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are Gods emissaries for keeping order. It is Gods will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think youre a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.
The Founding Fathers ignore this scriptural advice. They were in clear violation of scripture!
In his book The Religious Beliefs of Americas Founders (2012), Gregg Frazer shows that the political theology of the American Founding era was neither Christianity nor deism. The prevailing political theology of the American Founding era was theistic rationalism. Theistic rationalism, a phrase coined by Frazer, was a hybrid belief system mixing elements of the Founding Fathers, natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism, with rationalism as the predominant element Adherents were willing to define God in whatever way their reason indicated and to jettison Christian beliefs that did not conform to reason. Frazer concluded by saying:
By making their own reason the final determinant of what counted as legitimate revelation and the final determinant of the meaning of revelation, the theistic rationalists essentially defined away any independent divine influence on their own religion and politics. God effectively lost the ability to define Himself or make demands on them with which they were not comfortable. In other words, they effectively became the voice of God to themselves. In a practical sense, God became whoever they preferred Him to be and made only those demands they wished Him to make. They had truly created a god in their own image
What would you have done? This is why many people decided not to be rebels And so we go on.
The scripture from 2 Timothy captures the spirit of what our attitude should be. Strive to eliminate timidity from our bearing and manner. You can see that the Founding Fathers were bold in the proclamation that the American colonies were standing against tyranny. Despite the clear violation of Scripture!
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline
On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from England. Two days later, the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed. Four days later, members of Congress took the document and read it out loud from the steps of Independence Hall, proclaiming it to the city of Philadelphia, and afterwards they rang the Liberty Bell. The inscription on the top of the bell is Leviticus 25:10, which reads, Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.
John Adams said, The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. Probably the clearest identification of the spirit of the American Revolution was given by John in a letter to Abigail the day after Congress approved the Declaration.
He wrote her two letters that day: One was short and jubilant that the Declaration had been approved; the other letter was much longer and gave serious consideration to what had been done that day. Adams could already foresee that their actions would be celebrated by future generations.
Despite the clear violation of Galations 5:1, our spirit of nationalism prevails.
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
(DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, JULY 4, 1776).
(From the Pulpit is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)
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Posted: at 10:16 pm
Friedrich Engels was 21 when his father decided that Germany was getting too hot to hold his young son any longer. In Berlin in 1841, Friedrich had taken the usual road of progressive young German intellectuals of his time: he had first become a left Hegelian, then veered away from that position to lean increasingly towards radical socialism/communism, and had begun writing for various magazines and periodicals in which the German Left critiqued society and religion.
In fact, even before his sojourn in Berlin, when he was apprenticed, at his fathers insistence, at a firm in Bremen during 1839-40 so that he could learn the ropes of business and finance, Engels wrote often for local newspapers on a wide range of social and cultural issues.
Already, he had shown himself to be a combative atheist and a caustic critic of the capriciousness and hypocrisy of the propertied classes.
As early as October 17, 1840, still shy of his nineteenth birthday, Friedrich wrote a pungent piece titled Rationalism and Pietism for the Bremen daily Morgenblatt fur Gebildete Leser in which he decried the rise of narrow religious fundamentalism:
The pulpit became the presidential chair of a court of inquisition whence the eternal curse was hurled against all theological trends which the inquisitor did and did not know. Anyone who did not accept this crass mysticism as absolute Christianity was delivered up to the devil. And with a sophistry which emerged as strangely naive, Krummacher always managed to shelter behind the apostle Paul. It is not I who is cursing, nay! Children, reflect, it is the apostle Paul who condemns you!
So as not to hurt the sentiments of his churchgoing, prosperous parents, the young man signed off on many of his articles as Friedrich Oswald. His parents, however, had a fair idea of what their eldest child was up to, and were mortified. Political nonconformism was not only not respectable in Germany, it was rapidly becoming dangerous. The parents had to do something.
Friedrich Engels in his early 20s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Their choice proved to be providential. To insulate Friedrich from the corrupting influence of radical politics, they decided to banish him to England. He was to be a trainee at the Weaste office in Manchester of the family firm Ermen and Engelss Victoria Mills. What this did was to locate Engels at the very heart of 19th century industrial capitalism. No place in Europe or elsewhere was capable of providing a ring-side view of the gargantuan societal changes driving early industrial capitalism comparable to what Manchester, the worlds textile capital, facilitated.
In the process, his parents gambit not only failed spectacularly, it achieved the result they dreaded most. In quick time, Friedrich transitioned from being an observer of contemporary society to a socialist revolutionary. In other words, young Friedrich became Friedrich Engels, one of the two foremost leaders of modern-day socialism.
Engels reached Manchester in the autumn of 1842, and remained there uninterruptedly for just under two years. By the early months of 1844, he was at work on a book that would cement his place as one of the great commentators of industrial capitalism. The Condition of the Working Class in England was not to be published in its English edition until 1892 (the American edition came out in 1887) or very nearly half a century after the first German edition which made its appearance in Leipzig in the summer of 1845, with a dedication (in English) to the working classes of Great Britain.
Ever since then, the book has seldom been out of print in one edition or another, and even today it remains one of the best-known documents of what, in its early years,the Industrial Revolution meant for the lives of its foot-soldiers. As an analysis of the evolution of industrial capitalism, of the social impact of large-scale industrialisation and its political consequences,The Condition of the Working Class in Englandremains unsurpassed nearly 174 years after its first publication.
Also read:What Can Karl Marx Offer to the 21st Century?
The book is spread over 11 chapters, plus a preface, an introduction and a postscript. An appendix was added to the 1887 American edition to take stock of the broad changes in the landscape of industrial capitalism over the intervening forty years, for example, the emergence of American, German and French competition to what in early 19th century was a virtual English monopoly over world markets.
First Edition of Friedrich Engels The Condition of the Working Class in England. Photo: Wikimedia
It also recorded a confession: that the prognostication of an imminent social revolution in England which Engelss youthful ardour (had) induced (him) to venture upon in 1844-45 had been misplaced. Engels also points to the changes in his own understanding of the dynamic of social revolution. He now knew that class contradictions were irreconcilable, and the proletariats struggle for emancipation stood little chance of finding a potential ally in even those segments of the bourgeoisie whom Engels had earlier seen as enlightened fellow-travellers.
The Introduction draws the broad contours of the Industrial Revolution beginning in the second half of the 18th century with the invention of the steam-engine and of machinery for working cotton. The emphasis here is on how this revolution, unlike all the other changes that went before it, altered the whole civil society beyond recognition and gave rise, for the first time, to the Industrial Proletariat, which happens to be the caption (and subject-matter) of the first chapter.
The rise of industrial capitalism destroyed petty commodity producers, the small-time cottage industry, and even, in substantial measure, the peasantry, consigning large swathes of the population to this new social class of wage workers whose only means of livelihood consisted in selling physical labour to the large machine owner.
For the first time in history, producers were transformed whole-sale into labourers who owned virtually nothing save the shirts on their backs. The Industrial Revolution did not stop at only creating the proletariat as a social class; concentration and polarisation was in the very nature of the revolutionary process, which worked by creating an increasingly small bourgeoisie of increasingly large capitalists and pushing increasingly bigger segments of the population into the ranks of the proletariat. The whole phenomenon played out to an unending process of urbanisation.
Also read:Karl Marx: Flawed, Manic, and One of Us
Large-scale mechanised industry requires steadily-growing capital investments, while its division of labour necessitates the accumulation of large communities of wage-workers. So, increasingly, sleepy villages morphed into busy towns, and small towns into bustling mega-cities. Large communities of proletarians create a surplus labour force, which helps push wages down and attracts investors to set up new industrial units. Industry tends to migrate from the higher urban to the lower rural wages, and this in turn plants the seeds of urbanisation in the countryside.
Thus, the great cities with their large armies of proletarians who are obliged to sell their labour at whatever happens to be the going price, become, for Engels, the symbol of industrial capitalism. The system is built around relentless competition, a competition which is
the completest expression of the battle of all against all which rules in modern civil society. This battle, a battle for life, for existence, for everything, in case of need a battle of life and death, is fought not between the different classes of society only, but also between the individual members of these classes.
Here, the proletarian is forced back upon his own measly devices, so that even within a large community, he can be utterly alone and helpless.
(E)verywhere barbarous indifference, hard selfishness on one side, unspeakable misery on the other, everywhere social war, every mans house a fortress, everywhere marauders who plunder under the protection of the law.
Title page of the first (German) edition of The Condition of the Working Class in England. Photo: Wikipedia
And what is life in a big city like, at any rate in the workers districts? What kind of human beings are shaped by such a life? Chapters 3 through 11, with a brief detour in chapter 4 into an examination of Irish immigration into the English workforce, look at these questions at length.
Engels shows capitalism pitchforking the proletariat, often composed of migrant workers from pre-industrial backgrounds, into a living hell in which they are ground down, underpaid or starved, left to rot in slums, neglected, despised, and coerced, not only by the impersonal forces of competition but by the bourgeoisie as a class, which regards them as objects and not as men, as labour or hands and not as human beings.
Since all the laws of the land are stacked against the worker, he is fined, penalised, jailed or dismissed from his job at the factory owners pleasure. Malnutrition, poor health and disease are the workers constant companions, and the fear of being thrown out of his job dogs him at all times. Child mortality is staggeringly high: 53% among under-five-year-olds in Leeds where only 13% of the population live to be older than 59 (the corresponding numbers in the healthy agricultural district of Ruthlandshire being 28% and 37% respectively). Illiteracy, drunkenness and crime are the inescapable concomitants of a life of poverty and squalor and the proletariat is plagued by them all.
But the dehumanised, brutalised worker does in truth mirror the ever-expanding material prosperity and progress of the bourgeoisie, albeit perversely.
Engels account is based on first-hand observation as well as other sources such as reports of factory inspectors and sundry government commissions, newspaper articles and court proceedings, on all of which he drawscopiously. He builds his case against the utter inhumanity of predatory capitalism assiduously, by not only collecting telling data but also quoting extensively from sources essentially aligned with the established order.
Also read:Can the 21st Century Reader Read Karl Marx in the Original?
He was a manufacturing businessman living in a thriving business environment,came to know the workers districts of Manchester quite well, and paid visits to Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and London to study conditions in those centres. He also worked with the Chartists and other early socialists in England who were agitating and organising for workers rights. The help provided in all this by hispartner, the Irish factory girl Mary Burns, was invaluable, and Engels account suffers from none of the inadequacies of a rush job by an outsider who gets to know his milieu only minimally.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Photo: Aleks Ka/Shutterstock.com
How does the worker react to the cruel injustice of the system? Engels points to three broad responses. One, that of succumbing to it by allowing himself to be demoralised and debased, and sink into a life of hopelessness and crime. Second, by submitting to it passively, accepting life as it comes and trying to live life like a law-abiding citizen, thus tightening the chains that tie him to the system.
Finally, there is the option to rebel, either as an isolated machine-breaker or by uniting with other workers in a broad labour movement that seeks to bring dignity and the hope of a better future to their lives. Engels stresses the third option with force.
Also read:Noam Chomsky and the Question of Individual Choice in a Vastly Unequal World
He shows how, by dehumanising the proletariat, the bourgeoisie also alienates it from bourgeois ideology and illusion, for example from religion and conventional morality. Besides, progressive industrialisation and concentration of working people in close-packed communities help foster workers unity and a sense of their own power.
In other words, the worker can develop class consciousness, a term that Engels does not use yet, though he explores its underlying idea at some length. Lenin saw this as an important contribution to socialist theory. Engels, said Lenin,
was among the first to say that the proletariat is not only a class that suffers; that it is precisely its shameful economic situation which irresistibly drives it forward, and obliges it to struggle for its final emancipation.
There are also other important ways in whichThe Condition of the Working Class in Englandremains a important historical document. This was probably the first comprehensive analysis of the conditions in which the working-class of a country as a whole lived under early capitalism, though there had been studies by a few others earlier into specific industry segments and localised trade.
Engels also introduced here the concept of periodic cycles of prosperity and crisis, and showed how such cycles are an essential component of capitalism itself. Also, though he does not use the term industrial reserve army, he clearly recognises how capitalism must maintain a permanent reserve of workers so as to cut costs and plan for boom-period production levels.
Engels hope of a social revolution emerging in the near term out of a serious crisis in English capitalism was not to be fulfilled, but that is a separate discussion. What is striking aboutThe Condition of the Working Class in Englandis that it was the first comprehensive effort to analyse the Industrial Revolution and its social and political consequences in their entirety. Indeed, it was the first-ever application of the Marxist method to the study of society. And it pre-dated the Capital by over two decades. Even the Communist Manifesto was not to appear till three years after this remarkable book.
Anjan Basu writes on a range of subjects. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Posted: at 10:15 pm
Still with chickens, one article explores chookas, the good-luck wish relayed to actors. By itself, good luck the phrase is deemed so plain as to court doom, hence the popularity of more oblique blessings like break a leg, or toi toi toi in operatic circles. Meantime Australias variation likely relates to the lavish delicacy of a real chicken dinner, back when tripe pie boasted an alias.
Ozwords is a linguistic digest that doesnt take itself too seriously. For every meaty feature on old recipes or two-up slang, theres a back-page contest determined to turn English inside-out. A recent zinger ockerised film titles, such as Sandgroper Yarn (West Side Story) and Knees-Up With Dingoes (Dances With Wolves).
Did I say zinger? Ozwords latest cover-story toasts the colloquial bequest of the Silver Bodgie, alias Bob Hawke. Our late leader was a bloody goldmine, as Dr Amanda Laugesen discovered, the director of the National Dictionary Centre. More than the source of such citations as sherbet and two-bob lair, Hawke was also pivotal in popularising do your lolly, to come the raw prawn, economic rationalism and the clever country. Evidently the bloke knew how to engage both ends of the room.
Other Australian lives have bestowed other expressions, or cemented usage at least. Julia Robinson amassed a grab-bag glossary from homegrown memoirs. Michelle Payne, say, the champion jockey, alerted lexicographers to green whistle (a quick-fix inhaler to relieve pain) and no carrots (when a horse is spent).
Michael Mohammed Ahmads novel The Lebs (Hachette, 2018) yielded shu cuz (a greeting) and the joyous idiom of being more Aussie than beetroot. As for Gareth Evans, another career polly, think tick-and-flick (routine approval of an agenda item) and silly-shirts photo-call (the APEC group shot).
Despite the largesse, Ozwords is gratis, both its 30-year annals for your leisurely trawl, plus the latest October issue, tackling Hawkespeak, woodlice and toey. (Take care, reader the slang word can mean either anxious or horny, or possibly both.) To dive the archive, try anu.edu.au and search Ozwords.
Fossicking, youll find family words (windscreepers, Presbyterian crossings) plus shearing terms (flea taxi for a dog, and tomahawk for a rough fleecing). Youll learn Queensland skinks scuttle under the byline of scrub mullets, while Mel B Spurr, a London vaudevillian touring here in 1903 is deemed the progenitor of the dont-argue (the facial fend-off) and not the Huttons smallgoods campaign that made it common knowledge a few years later.
Youll also gather a Ned Kelly pie contains one boiled egg, a tablespoon of grated cheese, diced bacon, gravy, flour and 500g of non-mock mince. Thats lunch sorted.
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Posted: October 16, 2019 at 4:54 pm
Jazz critic turned music historian Ted Gioias Music: A Subversive History is a dauntingly ambitious, obsessively researched labor of cultural provocation.
In what he has described as a popularized summary of three briefer and more focused but equally ambitious histories Work Songs (2006), Healing Songs (2006) and Love Songs: The Hidden History (2015) Gioia means not merely to summarize the world history of music in 472 pages but to establish that other writers whove tackled versions of this task have badly missed the mark. Their crime against scholarship: underplaying essential elements of music that are considered disreputable or irrational for example, its deep connections to sexuality, magic, trance and alternative mind states, healing, social control, generational conflict, political unrest, even violence and murder.
Its often hard to tell exactly who Gioia is arguing with: mostly classical music specialists, Id venture, in part because few others attempted music history at all until ethnomusicology took shape after World War II.
As someone whos spent years researching such matters as the music of the ancient world and the age of the troubadours while also tracking current releases, Im pleased to report that Gioia taught me plenty. But both formally and polemically, hes swimming in deep water. Its prose pragmatic and its structure baldly chronological, his grand overview is doomed by its very ambition to a sprawl with little chance of achieving all it sets out to. These flaws werent inevitable.
Ted Gioias latest book, Music: A Subersive History, is nothing less than an analysis of the history of music.
Inspired to investigate further, I went on to read Gioias Love Songs, which I found gripping, sometimes a page-turner as with the chapter called The North African and Middle Eastern Connection, which focuses on a medieval genre called muwashshahat that topped off verses in classical Arabic with codas in colloquial Arabic or, more remarkably, the local Mediterranean vernacular. But where occasionally Gioia interrupts his rapid progress to devote a few pages to an interesting tale Ablard and Hlose, Mozarts lifestyle, the tragedy of Kurt Cobain these often seem more like arbitrary place markers and changes of pace than stories whose detailed scale is essential to his argument as a whole.
Nor did I always find his overall thesis persuasive. He overstates the significance of the anthropological findings he begins with. Proving musics deep connections to sexuality, magic, trance and alternative mind states by establishing its undeniable roots in hunting, battle, healing and procreation doesnt distinguish it from any other human endeavor, all of which sprung from those fundamental activities as human life began to evolve. Hes also rather too impressed at how the history of music is dominated by innovators who are first shunned by establishment tastemakers and then absorbed by them. Thats how human progress works, especially in the arts.
What I found most memorable in this exhaustive history is a six-page, 40-point epilogue called This Is Not a Manifesto. Some examples: 3. Songs served as the origin for what we now call psychology in other words, as a way of celebrating personal emotions and attitudes long before the inner life was deemed worthy of respect in other spheres of society. 9. Diversity contributes to musical innovation because it brings the outsider into the musical ecosystem. 21. Music is always more than notes. It is made out of sounds. Confusing these two is no small matter. 32. Even love songs are political songs, because new ways of singing about love tend to threaten the status quo.
Not all 40 are as striking, and many arent especially subversive. But all counteract the Confucian-Pythogorean rationalism dispatched in No. 19, which was and remains not only elitist and anti-materialist but also sexist: Starting with the so-called Song of Solomon, Gioia details many instances of male authorship attributed to songs almost certainly created by women as well as more general attacks on supposed musical effeminacy.
I was happy to read Gioia on many fascinating topics: the songful Sumerian priestess Enheduanna; the musical innovations of Sappho; Plato on his deathbed summoning an aulos, the bassoon-like flute he had long disparaged; the bells that dominated the soundtrack of European life for a thousand years; Christianitys propensity to condemn and nurture music simultaneously; the thralldom wealthy patrons forgotten by history imposed on composers who are now household names.
Inevitably, I was less taken with his account of 20th century pop, particularly the rock era. But I was also struck by earlier lacunae. Gioia never mentions that cross-cultural hotbed of female musical innovation, the pharaonic harem. He ignores Dionysus and Dionysian Greek tragedy, much of which was sung with aulos and kithara accompaniment. While challenging the truism that troubadour song was invented by noblemen, he gives short shrift to the wandering jongleurs who sang in medieval taverns and hostelries. He never differentiates Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa. He glosses over the musical usages of blackface minstrelsy. He ignores such dance crazes as the waltz, polka and foxtrot.
Significantly, many of these information failures involve a term Gioia is ambivalent about: entertainment, which he brands mere, idle and escapist at various junctures. I find the jazz, rock, punk and hip-hop Gioia praises as meaningful as he does. But I would also characterize the good fortune that befell unprecedented numbers of ordinary people in the 20th century as a leisure explosion that liberated citizens to waste their newfound free time on entertainment while also delving into the meaning of life, not least because what began to be called fun less than two centuries ago is a crucial component of the meaning of life.
Both Gioia and I are all too aware that there are still precincts where its subversive to argue that popular music radiates meaning. We have different ideas about how best to grab hold of that meaning. But I hope we can agree that one of musics virtues is that its ultimately inexplicit, leaving human beings free to pursue its secrets as they will.
Music: A Subversive History
Basic Books: 487 pages, $35
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Posted: at 4:54 pm
Dec. 8, 2019, will mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the First Vatican Council. On Dec. 8, 1869, more than 700 bishops gathered in St. Peters for the 20th ecumenical council and, most famously, defined the doctrine of papal infallibility.Though the council engaged topics that remain highly relevant, it is often overlooked due to a sense that its teachings are out of step with contemporary views. Frequently, the faithful and scholars alike disregard Vatican I in favor of its successor, Vatican II.This preference reveals itself by the fact that a Google search for Vatican I history can yield the question, Did you mean Vatican II history? Despite a general neglect of Vatican I, a renewed engagement with the council in its sesquicentennial year promises to advance many enduring questions for todays church.
As with any council, appreciating the historical backdrop of Vatican I is important. The council unfolded during a time of intellectual and political upheaval. Many of the structures and institutions that had long brought order to European society were diminished in the aftershocks of the French Revolution.The revolutions wake brought the rise of rationalism, atheism and relativism; these developments, coupled with growing aggressions by secular authorities, set Rome in an extremely defensive posture. Pope Pius IX gathered the bishops hoping that a united church could address these challenges.The assembled bishops passed two constitutions. The first was Dei Filius, which treated the relationship between faith and reason, and the second was Pastor Aeternus, which treated the church. Both should be seen in the context of the chaotic climate of the day.Dei Filius engaged the rationalists claims that human reason was the ultimate arbiter of truth, including the reliability and status of revelation. The decree asserted the supremacy of revelation, arguing that revelation was neither subject to human reason nor contrary to it.Pastor Aeternus defined the doctrines of papal primacy and infallibility as a way of establishing the churchs authority, stability and independence in a time when those things were openly debated. These definitions did not intend to usurp the authority of bishops or curtail the freedom of Catholics; rather, they sought to capacitate the pope to secure those things.Properly understood, these teachings are not about power. They illumine a close relationship between Christ and the church that is manifest in a unique way in the papal office.The chaotic times that prompted Vatican I also provoked its premature suspension. The councils agenda called for extensive deliberations on the nature of the church that would set the teachings on papal authority in their proper context.The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war forced an interruption of the conciliar proceedings in 1870, leaving work on the draft document on the church incomplete. Though a resumption of the council was considered at least twice in the 20th century, its work was never resumed.Understanding Vatican Is context allows us to appreciate its intentions and teachings. The council sought to preserve the churchs ability to advance its mission in a rapidly changing and often hostile environment. Working from a defensive posture, it produced strong statements about the nature of revelation and papal authority to demonstrate the churchs ability to overcome the errors of the day.Yet, the council was unable to complete its work. As a result, scholars often say that Vatican Is teachings are true but incomplete or one-sided. It is this one-sidedness that motivates some to try to leave the council behind and Google Vatican II history instead.Vatican I is nevertheless part of the larger conciliar tradition guided by the Holy Spirit in which each council is meant to be seen in light of the others. The council provides authoritative teachings, yet its positions find their full expression in their harmonization with other conciliar statements.For example, Vatican I is largely silent on the role of the bishops in relation to the pope. That silence is not a negation of episcopal power, but represents unfinished business.Vatican II engaged this unfinished business by considering the nature of episcopal collegiality. Therefore, while some try to posit Vatican Is teachings on the pope and Vatican IIs teachings on the bishops as an either/or choice, in reality, by virtue of the nature of the conciliar tradition, they must be seen as a both/and.Pope Francis continues this work of bringing greater harmonization to the various forms of ecclesial authority. Pope Francis has called for a sound decentralization of church structures, yet he is clear that moving in this direction requires a deeper understanding of Vatican Is teachings.He recognizes that Vatican I is not an obstacle but a necessary and valuable resource for considering how the diversity that comes with decentralization can be facilitated and held together by a central authority in Rome.Viewed in the context of its own day and as part of the larger tradition, we can recognize that Vatican Is teachings are less rigid than generally presumed and meant to be seen as part of a larger whole.One hundred and fifty years later, we cannot afford to leave this historic event in the past because, properly understood, it holds key insights for our future.
By Kristin Colberg, Catholic News Service
Colberg is associate professor of theology at St. Johns School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota. She is author of the book Vatican I and Vatican II: Councils in the Living Tradition.
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Its easy to get caught up on the technology and the platforms that the RAN has on deck and is planning for; after all, they are the most tangible example of sea power. But they are tools to achieve aims under the direction of their operators at the behest of government. More attention has been paid to the economic side of Defence capability in recent years, with more policy guidance around the nature of the relationship between Defence and industry. The balance between capability, economics and strategic policy is a tricky one with competing narratives.
Australia is not the first of the Five Eyes nations to adopt a two-shipyard approach for the building of minor and major surface combatants. There is a lot to be said for the economic rationalism of the approach and giving companies and workers certainty. Having said that, it has been over 25 years since the Productivity Commission looked into the issue in any meaningful way. The numbers being put out by various state governments and prime companies come with their own narrative around value for money and strategic outcomes.
The current debate over where Collins class full cycle dockings should be conducted into the future is a good example of this. South Australia will be home of major surface combatant shipbuilding for the next two generations; does it really have the room and the workforce to also conduct full cycle dockings for the Collins?
The SA government argues that it does but there is a strong case to move the program west before a substantial Collins life of type extension program gets underway. It may be a case of picking your battles; full-cycle dockings may not be worth fighting for, particularly if moving them frees up a skilled workforce in Adelaide for the building of the Attack-class submarines and the Hunter-class frigates.
Such a split though blows apart the submarine enterprise that the Coles review put in place to remediate the then dismal performance of the Collins sustainment effort; ASC would be split across two sites and the relationship with the Attack class designer and builder in Naval Group is not accounted for at all.
Despite all the technology involved in submarines, it is the people behind them that make up the capability. Any substantial change to how full cycle dockings are managed will have to be done with all these relationships, new and old, front of mind. Moving capital equipment is easy; people less so.
In the westThe west has seen a massive increase in naval activity, a timely offset to the ups and downs of the mining and oil/gas industries. The continuing sustainment and upgrade work on the Anzac class, the home porting of the submarine fleet and its associated training pipeline plus the 10 Arafura class patrol boats in due course.
The west has also been the site of the Guardian class patrol boat program, an important element of the Pacific Step Up to continue Australias program of regional engagement. The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (Sea 3036) Project is part of the Commonwealths Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP) that aims to enhance practical maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project broadens and further strengthens the regions capability to respond to issues such fisheries protection, trans-national crime, and search and rescue through the provision of patrol boats to Pacific Island nations.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Program (PPBR) comprises 21 x 39.5m steel hull vessels designed and constructed by Austal for delivery to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste from late 2018 to 2023. The fourth of these boats was delivered in August this year with the rest of the production schedule on track. The boats will also be supported out of Austals WA facility.
It is this regional engagement program, strategic hedging, that will shape the region more than anything that rolls out of a shipyard. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new maritime security agreement with Timor-Leste, which includes a deal for Australia to fund a new wharf at the Hera naval base and provide two Guardian-class patrol boats to the country. The announcement was made during a visit by Morrison to Dili, where he declared a new chapter in relations between Australia and Timor-Leste. The commitment bears similarities to the one in Papua New Guinea, where Australia and the US will help redevelop the Lombrum naval base on Manus Island.
Pacific Step UpSpeaking at the Australian National Universitys State of the Pacific Conference on 10 September 2018, Foreign Minister Payne said Stepping up in the Pacific is not an option for Australian foreign policy it is an imperative.
The Step-up responds to the significant long-term challenges faced by our partners in the Pacific, including: climate change and responding to natural disasters; sustaining economic growth and boosting education, developing skills and jobs for growing populations; pursuing gender equality and recognising the essential role of women in achieving better development outcomes; preventing major disease outbreak and tackling transnational crime. Australias Step-up in engagement builds on our development assistance to the region of $1.3 billion.
The recent Pacific Island Forum in August was a chance for Australia to show leadership on a number of these fronts. It did not do so, with many leaders criticising Australia in particular for its lack of action on climate change.
The military to military links with our Pacific neighbours is in better shape, with the likes of Indo-Pacific Endeavour this year (IPE19) providing a chance to combine military training and diplomatic missions across Defence, foreign affairs and the business communities on the multi-stop trip. HMA Ships Canberra, Success, Newcastle and Parramatta were joined by force elements from Army, Air Force and representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
IPE19 aimed to strengthen relationships and promote security and stability with Australias key regional partners, including Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
Military-to-military engagement develops shared understanding, trust and capacity to respond to a full spectrum of real-world incidents in the region. Once again, relationship building so that when trouble happens you know who to call.
Up northThe ADF regards northern Australia as strategically important, both for national defence and as a forward base for regional engagement (see P134 for more on this). The ADF presence in northern Australia also directly contributes to the economic and social development of the region.
A substantial amount of new ADF assets will either be based or operate in the vicinity of northern Australia, requiring new or upgraded facilities. These include new strike and patrol aircraft as well as the Canberra class Landing Helicopter Docks alongside Border Force assets that also operate in the region. The increasing presence of US Marine rotations within northern Australia will also require additional infrastructure and base capacity.
However, future growth in the ADFs northern Australia presence is constrained. Climate factors affect the ADFs ability to operate in the region and maintain its infrastructure, while northern Australias distance from major population centres increases resource costs and can impede retention of personnel.
Accordingly, the most cost-effective improvements will likely come through more efficient defence sustainment provided by local northern Australian defence industries. The work being done by Thales on the Armidale sustainment contract is a good example of this, having recently won an Essington Lewis certificate for their work to turn the program around.
The missionNavy has a lot on its plate at the moment. The force is all over the world, with a new deployment back into the Straits of Hormuz to the EEZ and SAR areas that are between 7-11 per cent of the earths ocean in terms of sheer coverage, there is a lot to do.
Managing a heavily tasked workforce and platform program alongside some of the biggest shipbuilding plans in the world at the moment, there are challenges and opportunities on the horizon.
There are known gaps on all these fronts that are being addressed but the unplanned is always around the corner. Call it a black swan or unknown unknown, more and more operations are happening in the grey zone where the lines between warfighting and posturing are blurring. Recent grey-zone activity in maritime Asia suggests an increase in hybrid warfare. The lines between military, economic, diplomatic, intelligence and criminal means of aggression are becoming increasingly unclear.
The grey-zone is a metaphorical state of being between war and peace, where an aggressor aims to reap either political or territorial gains associated with overt military aggression without crossing the threshold of open warfare with a powerful adversary, according to the Australian Institute of International Affairs.
The zone essentially represents an operating environment in which aggressors use ambiguity and leverage non-attribution to achieve strategic objectives while limiting counteractions by other nation states.
The leading purveyor of grey-zone tactics in maritime Asia is Chinas irregular maritime militia, dubbed the little blue men. It seeks to assert and expand Chinese control over an increasingly large area of disputed and reclaimed islands and reefs in the strategically important South China Sea. The militia, comprising hundreds of fisher-folks in their motorboats as well as Chinas paramilitary forces, operates mainly out of Chinese-held islands in the South China Sea and has been involved in buzzing US navy ships and those of neighbouring countries with rival territorial claims.
The idea behind Chinese militia operations is to exert authority over a maritime space using civilian craft and personnel, but to do it in a way that precludes open military confrontation. Grey zone operations are coercive and intended to achieve change, but they seek at the same time to limit an adversarys ability to respond.
Fit for purposeThis is not a future scenario; this is right now, and it is happening across our region. Is the force design that we are putting in place able to answer this threat alongside the possibility of a total war concept against a near peer adversary? Are we training our military decision makers to fight at both ends of this spectrum with the right equipment behind them (see P48 for more on hypersonics)? Do we have the right industry and strategic policy settings in place to support the force we need to fulfil the tasks set by government? Have we mapped the human terrain of our region to the point where we have confidence in what is happening and why?
The RAN has had a lot of experience in fighting pirates/transnational crime and has had a Middle East rotation since 1990 (currently at rotation 67) at sea alongside deployments into the Middle East on land as well. Navy is relatively late to the unmanned air vehicle environment but has been operating unmanned underwater vehicles for the better part of two decades, mainly in the counter mine.
One can also assume that the Silent Service is also living up to its name. The oft cited factoid that more than half the world submarines will be operating in our region by 2035 is of course a factor.
While there are claims about the increasing vulnerability of submarines to detection, these must be balanced against the realities of the environment. The sea is not yet transparent.
The Indo-Pacific sea areas are generally extremely challenging for acoustic sensors, whether passive or active. The role they have to play in grey zone operations is less clear. I would argue that Navy has not done a great job of explaining the value proposition of doubling the submarine fleet to the taxpayer given the billions of dollars involved over the life of the program.
The next major capability decision will be around mine hunting/mine counter measures/ hydrography ships. The two new ships announced by Prime Minister Morrison to be built at Henderson are probably the easiest part of the answer.
He also outlined a plan to bring forward the replacement for the Huon class mine hunters from the 2030s to the mid-2020s, with over $1 billion allocated as part of the Defence Integrated Program's Maritime Mine Countermeasures program under Sea 1905 (Editors note: Sea 1905 in roman numerals is MCMV mine counter measures vessels. There are some Navy people smiling every time they read that I suspect). It also flagged the fact that much of the mapping work currently done by Navy will be contracted out.
The commercial surveying sector can do the routine tasks more cost-effectively, so it is better for Defence to focus on the difficult and dangerous hydrographic missions such as supporting submarine or amphibious operations in unfriendly waters, according to ASPIs Marcus Hellyer. Making sure Defence retains sufficient critical mass in skilled personnel will be the challenge here, not building the ship.
The role of autonomous systems will really come into their own under Sea 1905 too see this months From the Source interview for more on this.
ConclusionOn balance, Navy is highly trained organisation of dedicated people and is actively investing in that training (see P36 for more on the Ship Zero concept). They are undergoing a massive transformation in the platforms they crew and support. The relationship between Navy and industry, like much of the ADF, has pockets of great relationships and some that are less than efficient. They have systems and processes in place that allow for varying levels of flexibility when engaging with industry; no process is ever perfect.
Overall, Navy is in a good position to fulfil the missions that government askes of it under current circumstances. Its resiliency would be put to the test if a black swan flew over the horizon of troubled waters.
This article first appeared in the October 2019 edition of ADM.
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That they are tragedies also reveals Shakespeares pessimistic outlook on politics. Politics is a tragic necessity. But it comes with a cost. Namely, the forsaking of love.
William Shakespeare, that immortal bard from Stratford-upon-Avon, is well-regarded as the English-speaking worlds greatest dramatist and, arguably, the greatest dramatist in the history of drama. But Shakespeare is also a political thinker. In fact, political commentary pours through the lines of his many playsespecially his tragedies. Some of his most famous tragedies are also his most political works: Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra (notwithstanding Othello, Macbeth, and King Laer).
For the sake of brevity, I will limit this brief exposition of politics as tragedy to Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra. The reason for this is because Hamlet is standalone and deeply relevant to our world today, especially given the prevalence of spying and untrustworthiness in the playthemes that ought to be all the more important to us considering our national security state and the continuing fraying of social and cultural trust through Western Europe and North America. Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, though standalone works, should be seen as companion pieces, which continue to develop the mature themes of politics, power, and love, beginning withJulius Caesar and reaching fruition in Antony and Cleopatra; however, the question of love and politics is also contained in Hamlet but not at the same level as in the Roman plays.
Politics, Paranoia and the Surveillance State
Reading Hamlet politically should immediately reveal the politics of paranoia that run through the play. The play opens with two inconsequential sentinels, Barnardo and Francisco, before giving way to more important charactersHoratio and Marcellus. Something strange has been occurring, and Horatio has arrived to investigate.
Horatios entry into the play, which pushes the play forward, is brought forth by rumors. Although, in this instance, the rumors turn out to be true. But the dramatic beginning of the play foreshadows the reality of cold and dark whispers that carry the play forward. When the men encounter the ghost, Horatio demands it to speak. All to no avail. The ghost exits. The men immediately consider the worst possibility for interpreting this encounter. Horatio foreshadows the ominous nature of the play immediately after the ghost vanishes, In what particular thought to work I know not, but in the gross and scope of mine opinion, this bodes some strange eruption to our state. This is followed by that most famous line, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
The strange eruption to our state, and the rotting problem in the state, is what the rest of Hamlet deals with. King Hamlet, as we know, has recently died, and the ghost is his apparition. King Claudius, aptly named after the Roman emperor, has made his bid to the throne in murdering his brother and subsequently marrying Gertrudethereby ascending to the throne. We become aware, through the ghost of King Hamlet, that Claudius murdered him because of his lust for Gertrude and lust to wield crown and scepter. Claudius marriage to Gertrude is not out of love but out of the pursuit of power and self-pleasure.
Lurking in the background is the feud between Denmark and Norway, over land, which is boiling up to erupt in war. Compounded to these fears are the worries of Polonius that the young Prince Hamlet is madly in love with his daughter, Ophelia. Ophelia informs her father of Hamlets suggestive behavior and love letters. Polonius offers to prove his loyalty to Claudius by spying on Hamlet (thus serving both Claudius but also serving his own end to prevent Hamlets love for Ophelia). But it is Claudius fear, his paranoia, that Hamlet will take revenge for his fathers murder by killing him that drives his antagonism toward the young prince to rid himself of the perpetual threat at his side. Polonius is but a pawn in a larger and more sinister game.
Shakespeare does a remarkable job in presenting politics as no pasture for saints. It is the domain of those sad and sorry humans inflicted with the primal eldest curse (a reference to Cains murder of Abel). Love is absent in the political scheming and skullduggery that consumes the state of Denmark.
So paranoid is Claudius that he effectively establishes a police and surveillance state to control every aspect of life in the palace. Polonius, through fidelity to Claudius and fear of Hamlets love for Ophelia, is enlisted as a spy. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two childhood friends of Hamlet, are also conscripted in this game of spies as they betray their friendship and memories with Hamlet in service to Claudius. Not even the sacredness of friendship and joyful memories can keep relationships from dissolving into utilitarian contracts. Claudius, for instance, doesnt care at all about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Claudius merely contracts them for his servicewhat happens to them is equally unimportant to Claudius so long as Claudius scheme to dispatch Hamlet succeeds. (I should also point out that as the second act comes to a close Hamlet is also counter-spying on Claudius and is very much bound up in this game of spies as all the villains are.)
Hamlet, however, is not without suffering the degradation of the rotten sins of the Danish state and the brutal machinations of power politics inside the prison that is Denmark under Claudius. En route to England, Hamlet grows suspicious of his former friends and rewrites the letter instructing the executioner to kill the two disposable spies and, in battle against pirates, flees back to Denmark, leaving Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for dead. And die they do. But rather than offer any hand of forgiveness or redemption to his former friends, Hamlet abandons them to the fated contract they had signed up for. We may feel Hamlet justified in his actions toward Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but, in his rather callous actions (though lesser in comparison to Claudius), we come to see how truly changed Hamlet has become due to his enslavement to the politics of power and revenge.
Ironically, the security-surveillance state that has been erected to keep Claudius in power fails. The realm of the political, if it is to survive, must shed itself of the spying apparatus that constricts it. Thus, Polonius is killed by Hamlet (though Hamlet thought he was killing Claudius in the spur of the moment). As hitherto mentioned, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are also shed off and later die. In the end, the very elaborate system of security and spying that Claudius has built has done him no good. His crime is eventually revealed, and he pays the price.
At the same time as Shakespearean irony reveals the limits of the security-surveillance state, the tragic element of the play is seen in the deaths of Ophelia and Hamlet. Ophelia loved Hamlet. Hamlet loved Ophelia. Whatever possible love the two had for each other could not be consummated because love is driven away by the madness of politics. Ophelia, in my opinion, committed suicide rather than having drowned in her own madness; that is neither here nor there considering the bleaker portrait that Shakespeare in painting, however.
Hamlet, for his part, probably did love Ophelia despite the debates over whether he did or did not. (At least this is the most probable when analyzing the interactions between Hamlet and Ophelia, especially when Hamlet realizes Ophelia is the one being buried and he declares that he loved her as he cries out, I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.) In happier and more tranquil days, Ophelia would have been queen to Hamlet, and the two would have gayly spent their days together. However, it is not Hamlets destiny to be wed and live the happy life. He must deliver the state from the constrictive and enslaving machine that Claudius has built. As such, Hamlet is fated to a loveless life too. For that is what Shakespeare is revealing about the empty and brutal nature of politics. Politics forsakes love as it is about power.
But Shakespeare is no anarchist. The state must survive and be restored. While those who occupy its halls of power will be miserable creatures without love, the state plays an important role in facilitating the happy and loving lives we can create. As such, Hamlet is the tragic hero whose destiny it is to restore the state to its proper condition by destroying the intrusive security-surveillance state, which prohibited civil society and human-to-human relationships from flourishing. (It is also been widely argued that Shakespeare was making esoteric commentary on the Elizabethan police state of his day.) So Hamlet does. So Hamlet dies.
Hamlet dies at the end of the play because he must. The political life, as weve said, chases away love and, therefore, cannot give life but can only serve to protect life. There is a difference between giving life and protecting life. Politics is a tragic enterprise according to Shakespeare. It is, however, a necessary oneand that is why it is tragic.
Politics and the Death of Eros
Politics chasing away loveand destroying love altogetheris further explored in Shakespeares two great plays dealing with that most sublime imperium in Western History: Rome. Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, in many ways, explore similar territory to Hamlet. Like Hamlet, these two Roman plays are deeply political, and it is because of their political nature that they find themselves in the annals of Shakespeares tragedies.
Where Hamlet was a sympathetic character, Julius Caesar, Antony, and Cleopatra are filled with an overabundant vanity. Julius Caesar is clearly in love with himself, his grandiosity, and his power. Antony and Cleopatra, when they are introduced in the first scene of their play, enter as king and queen of the world. They enter the stage with servants, a golden train, and eunuchs fanning Cleopatra, as if reminiscent of a Roman triumph. The pomp and circumstance of Julius Caesar, Antony, and Cleopatra are borne for all to see. Literally.
Part of the crisis of politics is the conflictual dimension of it. Brutus, Cassius, and the Senatorial Republicans, who oppose Caesar, are fighting a losing battle against the politics of monopoly. The politics of monopoly is represented by Caesar, who wields the unruly passion of the mob for his self-gain. Moreover, since Julius Caesar has now entered the domain of the political, his relationship with Brutus changes.
Prior to Julius Caesars foray into politics, he counted Brutus as one of his best and most trustworthy friends. Brutus was able to be a true friend to Julius Caesar because he did not threaten the politics of power that the Senate held and embodied. With Julius Caesar now entering the domain of politics, the relationship between the two men must changeand change it does. Brutus is convinced by the conniving machinations of Cassius to slay his former friend. Thus, this is the source of the great shock and sadness on Caesars face when he is mercilessly cut down like Priam. It is in seeing the one man whom he had trusted so dearly deliver the culling blow.
The ghost of Caesar haunts Brutus, Cassius, and the rest of the conspirators for the rest of the play. The moral law rears its horrifying and terrifying head against the men who, in betraying trust, Dante placed in the ninth circle of hell. What was anticipated as their triumph becomes the whip of their flight. Brutus, Cassius, and the rest of the pro-republican forces thought that the murder of Caesar would stave off the rule of one and preserve the rule of many. It did not. The energy unleashed in the murder only speeds up the inevitable eradication of the politics of plurality into the politics of universalism that will eventually be consummated by Octavius.
Antony and Cleopatra continues where Julius Caesar left off. The triple pillar of the world (the triumvirate) still retains a vestige of the politics of plurality. Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus have split the Roman Republic among themselves. Sextus Pompeius, or just Pompey in the play, is a fourth leg in a three-leg race. Pompey controls the sea and therefore prevents Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus from getting at each others throat. Ironicallyand irony is a major feature of Shakespearethis unintended fourth leg acts as the wall of peace between the triumvir.
Antony, however, is caught between a rock and a hard place. His erotic love for Cleopatra puts him outside of the domain of the political despite being among the triumvir and a great Roman general. For a man of extreme pride and haughtiness, he speaks the only wisdom in the play, Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space, Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike feeds beast as man. The nobleness of life is to do thus; when such a mutual pair and such a twain can dot, in which I bind, on pain and punishment, the world to weet we stand up peerless.
This most passionate and wise aside by Antony continues to develop Antony as a man of passion. After all, in Julius Caesar, Antony was the most passionate man after the death of Caesar. The one line that everyone knows from Julius Caesar was uttered by Antony, Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. The passion exuded by Antony in Julius Caesar has now fully consumed him in Antony and Cleopatra. Love threatens the political, Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch of the ranged empire fall. Love has its own domain, Here is my space. Antony also reflects on the temporality of politics but the eternality of love, Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike feeds beast as man. Those who wish to build immortal houses and eternal arches are doomed to failure. Politicians are not lovers, thus lovers are not peers with politicians, We stand up peerless. Antony and Cleopatra are peerless because they are lovers.
Where Antony and Cleopatra are introduced as passionate and prideful individuals, Octavius Caesar is introduced as a cold and calculating man of bureaucratic management who only talks politics. In the fourth scene of the first act, as Octavius is introduced, he is described as having no grand entrance and gives no passionate and memorable speech. Instead, Octavius enters, along with the other Roman contenders for the prize of managerial power, in a dry and sterile room of banal politicking. Rome, as Shakespeare reveals in the scenes in Rome and among the Romans, is the center of the passionless world of cold and calculative politics.
Antony doesnt escape this reality when in the presence of his fellow Romans. His marriage to Octavia is purely political. There is nothing loving, erotic, or passionate about it. At first opportunity, with hostilities erupting, he sends Octavia back to Octavius to be rid of her.
The war for the world begins when Pompey is eliminated. Again, this unintentional fourth leg initially kept the peace until Octavius and Lepidus allied together to destroy Pompey. Power, however, kept Pompey short-sighted. He despised Antony and cursed him in the opening of second act, he called Antony and Cleopatra Epicurean cooks, a derogatory dig at their sensuality in each others arms and bed. The politics of power blinded Pompey to his impending doom. (It did the same to Antony insofar that an alliance with Pompey would have proved beneficial in the coming struggle against Octavius.)
Lepidus may have been the third man in the triumvirate, but he, too, is of little concern. Octavius uses Lepidus to defeat Pompey then has him imprisoned after his use. This is made tragic given that Lepidus, according to Enoborus, loved Caesar, O, how he loves Caesar. Agrippa, a cold politico like his master, retorts, Nay, but how he clearly adores Mark Antony. Love, as weve mentioned, cannot survive in the realm of cut-throat politics. Loyal Lepidus was disposable and disposed he was once his utility ran out.
The removal of Pompey and Lepidus cuts the world down into halves, one ruled by Octavius and the other by Antony and Cleopatra. The diarchy cannot survive the inevitable push to political universalism either. So at the mouth of Actium the battle for the fate of the world commences. It is not a battle between Octavius and Antony; it is a battle between cold rationalism and bureaucratic managerialism (embodied and represented by Octavius) against the world of passion, love, and the erotic (embodied and represented by Antony and Cleopatra)Natures infinite book of secrecy. In this battle the cold and calculative politics of Octavius wins when Antony, lovestruck in seeing Cleopatra flee to the open seas, gives chase like a doting mallard after his belovedabandoning men and material to be with Cleopatra.
The world of Antony and Cleopatra is one of sensual play and erotic catharsis. Give me some music: music, moody food, of us that trade in love, Cleopatra famous says in the second act. She follows this up by revealing the extent of her world of sport with Antony as she reminisces, That timeO times!I laughed him out of patience; and that night I laughed into patience; and next morn, ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed; then put my tires and mantles on him whilst I wore his sword Philippan.
With all lost, however, the only comfort that Antony and Cleopatra have is in retreating into that space of play. Where hast thou been, my heart? Dost thou hear, lady? If from the field I shall return once more to kiss these lips, I will appear in blood; I and my sword will earn our chronicle. Theres hope int yetCome, Antony continues to say after his disastrous defeat at Actium, Lets have one other gaudy night: call to me all my sad captains; fill our bowls once more; lets mock the midnight bell.
As Antony and Cleopatra retreat into her bedchambers for another night of gaudy sex, thereby mocking the midnight bell of death wrought by the inevitable ascent of politics, Shakespeare again shows us how politics chases away love. The crime of Antony and Cleopatra was that they were lovers in the world of politics. Being lovers in the cold world of politics they had to die to make safe passage for the consummation of the universal bureaucratic imperium that rational politics demands which had chosen Rome and Octavius as its vessel of realization.
Love cannot coexist with the political because love threatens the political. Let Rome in Tiber melt, as Antony said. To love is to forsake the political; to love is to [l]et Rome in Tiber melt away in the fires that consumed Troy; to love is allow the pettiness of politics slip away and dwell in the timelessness of love just as Cleopatra did when waiting for Antonys return from Rome, I might sleep out this great gap of time [while] my Antony is away. When campaigning in Egypt to finish off Antony and Cleopatra, Octavius says, The time of universal peace draws near. Universal peace can only be consummated with love destroyed; so it is that Eros (Antonys most trustworthy companion) dies, then Antony dies, and, eventually, Cleopatra dies in rapid succession. (I have treated this topic in further detail here.)
Shakespeare is not, in my view, celebrating universal peace through universal order. Instead, he is revealing the tragic reality of the cold rationalism of politicsthe inevitable law of politics is that it must destroy plurality in favor of universality to win that universal peace. In doing so, Natures infinite book of secrecy must be destroyed and all the personality that dwells in that world must also be eliminated. The triumph of Caesar and the bringing of universal peace entails the triumph of cold bureaucratic politics, the very bureaucratic politics embodied by Octavius in the play as he sits over desks, reads papers, and commands his lackeys to execute his will. Indeed, how very tragic.
Shakespeare as Political Theorist
Reading Shakespeare is a joy. He is, above all, a treasure of Anglodom and the English language. The great dramatist that he was, he was also a first-rate political thinker. His tragedies, as demonstrated, are all political works. That they are tragedies also reveals Shakespeares pessimistic outlook on politics. Politics is a tragic necessity. But it comes with a cost. Namely, the forsaking of love.
Shakespeares reflection on the need to dismantle the security-surveillance state is very much worth our consideration, especially in this brave new century we find ourselves. Likewise, Shakespeare consistent presentation of the conflict between politics and love is something we must necessarily wrestle with. Is it the case, as with Claudius and Octavius, that the consummation of the political is the dictation and control of the life of the masses? It surely seems that way, especially in rhetoric and reality. Does politics chase away love, and must love necessarily be fated to dissolution for those who become consumed by the coldness of politics?
Long before Max Weber insisted that politics is no realm for the saint, Shakespeare also reveals that politics is no realm for the saint, the lover, or the idealist. Politics beats us down. It spies. It schemes. It lies. It kills. It destroys friendships. Those who claim to enter politics because they are interested in love and helping others should be regarded with suspicion. That is the enduring political wisdom of Shakespeare.
Those who love and would dwell in the space of timeless play should remain out of the domain of politics. Otherwise your life will be a tragedy as the coldness of politics consumes you. Or we can lay down the pursuit of power as Prospero did and allow love to take its rightful place, protected and sanctified by the political. When we do that, like Prospero, we walk off into an uncertain future and ask the worldthe audiencefor forgiveness. Yet when we walk off into that uncertain future we might just find something far more beautiful and meaningful when the fog clears and the breadth of Natures infinite book of secrecy is open before us.
Paul Krause is a graduate student in philosophy writing a thesis on the political aesthetics of Edmund Burke and holds an M.A. in theology from Yale and a B.A. in economics, history, and philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University. He is an Associate Editor atVoegelinViewand contributed to the bookThe College Lecture Today: An Interdisciplinary Defense for the Contemporary University(Lexington Books, 2019).
Posted: at 4:54 pm
National Socialism is one of the most unusual and documented regressus ad uterum historical events in modern times. Its a unique case in history when a modern political party returned to its mythological past and built its essence around it. The Third Reich created their roots in Nordic mythology and their unilateral interpretation of it.
Its impossible to understand National Socialism and its overarching objectives without knowing the roots of such a terrible ideology: unexpectedly they penetrated history much deeper than most people believe and they sank their foothills into the land of Mithos, the mythological heritage of northern European peoples.
The runes , for example, constitute one of the most important links with the Nordic past: they are part of the cultural recovery and restoration project of National Socialism that attempted a direct connection with a lost mythical Aryan legacy, bypassing thousands of years of history.
Hitler Youth Proficiency badge with a Tyr rune, runic legend, and a swastika. Tyr, or the Tiwaz rune, was the symbol of Tr, the Norse God of single combat and heroic glory. Latins transformed him in Mars Thingsus. Tuesday, or Tw's Day", was the day of Tiw or Tr God. (Auckland Museum/ CC BY 4.0 )
Why did Germany accept Hitler and Arianism, the doctrine according to which the Herrenvolk, the Aryan master race, had the natural right (given by God, as stated in Mein Kampf ) to subdue and eliminate other races? How is it possible to explain the Holocaust and the almost absolute consensus with which Hitler was welcomed in the 1930s?
The classical answers refer to historical, economic, and social reasons such as the crisis in which Germany was struggling immediately after the First World War, forced by the Treaty of Versailles (signed on June 28, 1919) to live in a chasm of hunger and misery due to the debts of war that were impossible to pay and with an army reduced to a tiny symbolic unit. But there is another answer, a most important one, suggested in the years leading up to Hitler by the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, who studied the Germanic psychic substratum and National Socialism in-depth, and considered a mass psychic epidemic.
His exceptionally advanced conclusions are aligned with the latest specialist studies of historians such as Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Giorgio Galli, etc. - academics who have brought to light the behind-the-scenes core that generated every decision of the Third Reich and their ideology with causes stemming from a very particular political and social situation.
In the case of Germany, the political division is always closely linked to the psychological and social one. The Holy Roman Empire, the 1st (German) Reich, officially began on December 5, 800, when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite the high-flown name, it was not able to keep Central Europe united and throughout the course of the Middle Ages, until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars , the heart of the Empire, Germany, remained fundamentally divided into many small regions ruled by local lords always at war for dominance.
Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne, by Friedrich Kaulbach, 1861. ( Public Domain )
In time the unfulfilled search for unity caused strong emotional, social, and political tension. It intensified in the years 1848-1870 and brought with it, in the wake of Romanticism and the fervor of the most intense emotions, a growing opposition to the modern industrialized world. This was felt as a strong obstacle to German unity.
Unable to find resolution of this now very strong need in the present or future, the Germans began to look for it in their past; back into the history of Tacitus' Germany, to the unstoppable force of the barbaric populations of Arminius, comprised of berserk wolf-warriors who destroyed three entire Roman legions in the Teutoburg forest in 9 AD.
The Torslunda helmet: Odin followed by a berserker. ( Public Domain )
This continuous tension towards a social and spiritual unity of the vlkisch people grew over time until it transformed in a real messianic expectation, again completely disregarded by the 2nd Reich, the Bismarck government. In fact, despite the proclamation of King William I of Prussia as emperor by Bismarck at Versailles in 1871. The enormous popular enthusiasm for the birth of the new Reich, Bismarckian Realpolitik focused on practical, bureaucratic problems, which contrasted heavily with the highly-idealistic tension of the unity movement that proved to be what it really was: the need for a people, or a mind, to find itself again.
The word Volk in German has a very particular semantic root and perfectly expresses these aspects: it does not only mean people, or race, but it includes the whole community of individuals who feel bound by the same blood, united by a " transcendent essence " described sometimes as " myth", sometimes as " nature", other times as " cosmos," but always one with the most intimate spiritual personality.
It is basically the tragedy of a people in search of itself, which perceives his essence as fragmented or confused, like fragments of a broken mirror scattered on the ground and reflecting a shattered reality. In time, the perception of the Volk began to become clearer thanks to writers and philosophers, who in their writings tried to give a clear explanation of these feelings. Increasingly complex theories began to develop with a common denominator: the peoples link with nature and a mythological past.
According to vlkisch theorists as Paul de Lagarde and Julius Langbehn, belonging to a specific Volk is essentially linked to the nature of the birthplace, or rather to the essence of it. For example, the Norse people, precisely because of their longing for the light that distinguishes their lives in the midst of the mists and forests, would be true Lichtmenschen, (men of light, also in search of light).
They could ideally identify themselves with the sun wheel or the swastika, with solar qualities of energy and strength, depth of thought, within itself the pure life force and the possibility of giving rise to bloodlines of great vitality. This return to the Volk needed a return to its mythological and cultural origins, those of the ancient Nordic peoples and to nature.
Sun wheels found in a Bronze Age tomb within the cairn of Kivik, Sweden. (Schorle/CC BY SA 3.0 )
This was the way out of political disappointments, an escape beyond human reality, to achieve in the spiritual field a higher yearning for self-realization: the Volk. It became the link between man and superior reality, the tangible and evident vehicle of the life force , a conception close to the future Bergsonian positions and those of G. B. Shaw. Man had to himself be permeated and guided by the natural instinct of his own Volk.
In 19th century Germany, and especially after the defeat of WWI up to the years immediately preceding Hitler, with Fichte, Hegel, Wagner, Nietzsche, and the vlkisch philosophers we observe a crisis of rationalism and of the security of the goddess Reason. Along with the frustration of a felt but never achieved unity and the disastrous economic depression, this had a far-reaching effect on the collective unconscious of the Germans.
From this there emerged the instinctive search for a catalyst, a special person, generically called Starke von Oben , (the Strong One from Above); a real messiah of Germany, able to unite the nation, politically and spiritually, and bring the fate of the Volk to fruition.
The absolute power and the consensus that National Socialism acquired essentially derived from having been able to collect this psychological and spiritual impatience and to have given certain answers to the emotional distress of the population. It is no coincidence that the Nazis gathered the largest common consent in the most cultured sections of the people, those who possessed the tools to understand the present status of things and its cultural implications.
This highlights the most extraordinary case of regressus ad uterum in modern times; that is, the spontaneous turning back towards a time and a situation in which a person or an entire people felt like a child in the womb of their mother, safe and realized in following their inner nature. So the legendary myths, the heroes, the Valhalla, and the Norse gods and legends become a model to look at with admiration. Richard Wagner, the true German bard, was able to bring this visionary universe, the Mythos, to the forefront as a part of the collective unconscious of a people-race, the Volk.
Portrait of Richard Wagner, circa 1862, by Csar Willich . ( Public Domain )
"Anyone who wants to understand National Socialist Germany must first understand Wagner." This statement by Hitler clarifies the link between National Socialism and the power of the dramas of Richard Wagner. To Hitler only a direct connection with the Mythos and Norse mythology could awaken Germany to itself and fate.
Wagner's dramas, the tetralogy The Nibelungen Ring, were based upon old Norse Mythology and linked the mythical past to the present as the two ends became one in a ring. The past returned to the present in a ring of eternal return that took on the appearance of the Nibelungen Ring .
This process was the re-actualization of the mythical act of the hero in illo tempore (the mythical age) every time a public rite was performed, as in the case of the mass ceremonies of the Third Reich. Wagner himself was convinced that some basic (archetypal) characteristics resided in the depths of the German people, and these had not degraded over time. Therefore the old Norse sagas were seen as a way to model the present.
In Wagners interpretation of Norse mythology with the magic gold stolen from the dwarf Alberich, a ring is forged, leading to the conquest of the world. Wotan, the god of the gods, finally recovers the gold by throwing a curse on the ring. But the mythical figures of the Valkyries, the dramatic tragedy of the hero Siegfried (Sigurd in Norse mythology), the destructive final burning of the Walhalla (the Norse Ragnark, the destruction of the cosmos and its consequent regeneration), and from its ashes a new order of Gods.
Brnnhilde and Siegfried by Arthur Rackham. ( Public Domain )
Wotan's sons rediscovered their ethnic-cultural origin in Norse mythology and before it the Aryans: Hitler's choice of the swastika symbol is to be understood in this context.
The Third Reich opened the door to Mythos and allowed it to manifest itself by replacing the Christian religion with a new Germanic neo-paganism that reinterpreted Nordic mythology. It used the swastika, the ancient solar wheel of the Germans and the runes, the ancient alphabet that was considered a source of power, on the banners of the ministries, the combat units, in Hitler's youth insignia, pins, etc.
Original WWII German military buckle "GOTT MIT UNS" (Wehrmacht). The text on the metal testifies to the deep belief in God: as Hitler stressed: A National Socialist is by definition a believer in God. ( Public Domain )
The so called "Consecration of the Name" was one of the clearest examples of replacing traditional religion with Nazi neo-paganism. The swastika is the new cross and the blessing icon is not Jesus, but Adolf Hitler the new Messiah for the Nazis.
Photo showing a child's baptism (christening) ceremony/ritual; conducted by members of the SS at a "Lebensborn e.V." maternity care home in Rheinhessen sometime between 1936-1944. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )
In Norse mythology, the Swastika is closely tied to two other symbols, the sun wheel and Thors hammer (Mjolnir) spinning. Thor was the dominant sky and thunder god of Norse religion and his hammer was a symbol of power and protection since Thor used it to destroy the Giants and forces of Chaos menacing his fatherland Asgard.
The Mjolnir symbol was found together with the swastika and sun wheel (another graphic representation of the swastika) in runestones and tombs. The swastika has always had a positive meaning of good fortune and prosperity. However, the Third Reich used it as a representation of the national socialist man moving to his vlkisch self realization. The four arms could be seen as two arms and two legs walking to their origin point, their Aryan pure essence, conceived by the Third Reich as the essence of God. They thought Hitler would lead the world to a total war - as if it were Ragnark - to recreate a new Aryan world.
Ragnark. Johann Gehrts. ( Public Domain )
The Ahnenerbe ( Ahnenerbe Forschungs und Lehrgemeinschaft , Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society) was founded in July 1935 by Heinrich Himmler , the high-ranking SS leader, with the aim to retrace ancient Aryan artifacts supporting the master race theory. The institute organized several expeditions in Tibet, Italy, Iceland, Brazil, France, and many other countries to find the presumed migration of the ancient Aryans from the North Pole to the south.
Its symbol was the Irminsul, or Yggdrasil, an epithet of Odin (Yggr was one of Odins names), the sacred pillar-like object representing the fundamental tree, or axis mundi , whose trunk rises at the geographical center of the Norse spiritual cosmos.
Top Image: Symbolism of Nazis were based in the Nordic past. Source: CC0
By Pierluigi Tombetti
Pierluigi Tombetti is the author of Hitlers Occult Enigma The Third Reich and the New World Order (in Italian). Visit his website at http://www.pierluigitombetti.com.
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Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas. 1993. The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology , NY University Press, 2004
Mosse G.L., The Nazionalization of the Masses. Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich, New York, Howard Fertig, 1974
Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany , Simon & Schuster, 1960
Tombetti, Pierluigi, LEnigma occulto di Hitler. Il Terzo Reich e il Nuovo Ordine Mondiale , Arkadia
Tombetti, P., Introduzione al Mein Kampf, in A. Hitler, La mia Battaglia, Gherardo Casini editore, Rusconilibri, Milano, 2010
Tombetti, P., I segreti del Vaticano: la Santa Sede e il nazismo, Arkadia, Cagliari, 2015
Turville-Petre, E.O.G. 1964. Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia , Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1964
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How Far to Hope: A Review of Oslo at TimeLine Theatre Company and Broadway In Chicago – Newcity Stage
Posted: September 21, 2019 at 1:44 pm
When the world is in a state of complete disarray and chaos, the impulse to say Dont worry, things will get better, can come off as naive or privileged or foolish or just downright incorrect. Call it cynicism, call it rationalism, call it being just plain realistic. Seeking hope in a hopeless world just doesnt seem as possible these days.
Not impossible, mind you. Just less possible. Theres a difference.
Moving on, though: lets talk about historical fiction.
The creation and presentation of a work that reflects on a previous historical event has many intentional and unintentional purposes. It works as document of that event, especially if it is from a lesser-known historical perspective. It also works as a means of creating engagement with a history that otherwise might not have been: we are naturally drawn toward narrative and conflict. Finding a means to further inject these values into a piece of history only increases our engagement with the events.
But the unintendedor perhaps secretly intendedrepercussions of a historical drama can be to show how Not Good/Very Bad things used to be while highlighting Just How Far Weve Come since the event in question. Something like the movie Green Book, a recent example of how 1960s racism was a Much Worse Racism and shouldnt we be happy that things are So Much Better Now? I mean, things are better now, right?
Oslo, J.T. Rogers Tony Award-winning play about the backchannel negotiations of the Oslo Accords in 1993, isnt that naive. It is true that, in recounting the gripping events of how Norwegian diplomats Mona Juul (a superb Bri Sudia) and Terje Rd-Larsen (a charming Scott Parkinson) brought together representatives from the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization to begin peace discussions, you get the sense this is indeed going to be a play about a monumental event that shaped history and made everything Good, Again. But by the end of its almost three-hour running time, the play (and especially director Nick Bowlings production) is fully aware that, no, things are Not So Much Better Now. There is still a major Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are still governments acting maliciously and innocent people being murdered and a conflict between two peoples being weaponized by external forces for political gain. And there is seemingly no end in sight to it all.
Again, seemingly. Not impossible. Just less possible.
The play, produced by TimeLine Theatre Company and Broadway In Chicago, arrives in Chicago in a practically seamless production, navigating a thirteen-actor ensemble through a cavalcade of scenes: mostly people talking in rooms or talking over the phone or talking outside in the snow. Theres a lot of talking. But the good kind! The kind that reminds you Yes, this is a play, and plays are about people talking, and the talking is engaging and good. Oslo navigates within the confines of what we have traditionally been told is a plays function to exceedingly excellent results. What it lacks in boundary-breaking format, it makes up for in detailed performances, sharp writing and expert craftsmanship.
Jeffrey Kmiecs barebones sey, combined with Mike Tutajs subtle projections, does a great job of transporting us to multiple locations. Christine Pascuals costumes are as dignified or as frumpy as the character wearing them warrants. Andre Pluess music is gripping and provides plenty of forward momentum. Jesse Klugs lights are specific and clear. Its a well-packaged clean production about an inherently messy topic. The dissonance is not lost.
Oslo stands as a beacon of possibility in a world where that is not always a guarantee. Its final momentscemented by Sudias reticence to accept a happy endingmay just bring you close to tears. This desire for hope within hopelessness is just one piece of the puzzle of our world. To see Oslo is certainly not an invitation to start and finish ones engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict then and there. Your work is never done, as well it shouldnt be. But it begs you to consider, in the smallest way, that peace is possible. That hope is possible.
We were not there in 1993. We are not there now.But the possibility. The possibility is there. Somewhere. Do you see it? (Ben Kaye)
TimeLine Theatre Company and Broadway In Chicago at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 East Chestnut, broadwayinchicago.com, $35-$95. Through October 20.
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Posted: at 1:44 pm
Has the mass murder of Europes Jews eclipsed the other significant horrors of Hitlers Germany? Does it matter? And is it possible to address this without being accused by the thought police of belittling the Holocaust? Let me try.
These questions are raised in the greatest film released in the past year, Never Look Away. Made by the aristocrat Florian von Donnersmarck, the director who created the masterpiece The Lives of Others, it has yet to attract the cult following rightly achieved by his first major work. I think it ought to.It is beautiful, immensely powerful, and packed with thoughts about goodness, the temptations of power and evil, and the nature of art.The films depictions of the morally complicated yet triumphant birth of a baby amid misery and ruin, and of the cynical use of abortion in a fathers evil attempt to end his daughters love affair, are firmly on the side of humanity, and should be treasured in their own right.
At the heart of the story is a Dickensian mystery of unrevealed guilt, quite unbelievable but based upon a true story. The original evil act destroys a beautiful young woman, suffering from some unknown mental illness, who is caught by Hitlers eugenics program. Even if you think you know about this sordid corner of National Socialism, which begins with steely pseudo-rationalism and ends in rank murder, the relatively gentle portrayal of this crime and the others happening alongside it will greatly shock and distress you.But it, and other elements of this film, ought also to waken the consciences of many on the self-described progressive left.
For these progressives, the Nazi era has been both a sort of moral scripture and a source of certainties.With increasing force since the 1970s, the left has managed to associate the Hitler period with the political and moral right. Here, they insist, is every aspect of conservatism in full power. Behold, they say, the evils which follow from conservative thought, from love of country and martial strength. See here how the ideas behind immigration controls or sexual conservatism also lead inescapably to the Yellow Star and the Pink Triangle, the death camp, the gas chamber, and the crematorium.
Above all, when it studies the mass murder of Europes Jews it can assert with relief that nothing of this kind stains our hygienic and enlightened society, which put an end to everything of this sort nearly eighty years ago. Indeed, we all can assert thiswhich is interesting given that many conservative European societies, whatever their faults, never engaged in racial mass murder and in many cases bravely resisted and frustrated it when it was imposed on them by occupying invaders.
This fact complicates the simple logic which has permitted so many liberals, for so long, to cry Fascist! at conservatives, and so silence and marginalize them. It might cause the more intelligent progressives to consider, with a little more care, what National Socialism actually was. If it was what they say it was, why was it so hostile to the Christian church, a body which modern liberals tend to see as a force for conservatism?And why did Nazis and Communists cooperate, most spectacularly in that great ignored spasm of cynicism, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939the most astonishing political event of the twentieth century and the least known?
We are told that Stalin did it out of bitter necessity, to buy time, and that there was no true friendship or alliance in it.The awkward truth is that it was far warmer than that. There was a joint Nazi-Soviet victory parade in Brest Litovsk. Everyone in the pictures of this event looks happy (the unhappy people had already been shot or locked up). And the Soviet NKVD secret police, the essence of Communism, the sword and shield of the Communist Party,then staged a prisoner exchange with Hitlers Gestapo, likewise the very core of National Socialist fervor. If you admit these things, then you are in historical trouble, and it is trouble which the film Never Look Away helps to foment.
For some background it is worth turning to Julia Boyds fascinating Travellers in the Third Reich. This work is unusual in that it discusses just how similar Communism and National Socialism were, in some respects.She quotes Denis de Rougemont, a Christian Swiss writer and cultural theorist.De Rougemont began by thinkingthat Hitlers state was a regime of the right. But during a lengthy stay in Frankfurt as a visiting professor, he found himself involuntarily questioning this. What unsettled him, writes Boyd, was the fact that those who stood most naturally on the rightlawyers, doctors, industrialists and so onwere the very ones who most bitterly denounced National Socialism. Far from being a bulwark against Communism, they complained,it was itself communism in disguise [my emphasis].
De Rougemont recounted: They pointed out that only workers and peasants benefited from Nazi reforms, while their own values were being systematically destroyed by devious methods. They were taxed disproportionately, their family life had been irreparably harmed, parental authority sapped, religion stripped and education eliminated.
A lawyers wife complained to him, Every evening my two children are taken over by the Party. This experience was not all that different from what was happening at the same time to the children of Soviet parents.The Nazis, being utopian fanatics more concerned with the future than the present, were prepared to pay quite a high price for taking over the minds of the young. As Thomas Manns daughter Erika pointed out in her excoriating book on the subject, School for Barbarians, the quality of education was gravely damaged under the Hitler regime, which (as left-wing regimes also often do) promoted or protected bad but politically acceptable teachers, and polluted the teaching of all arts and historical subjects. It believed it was more urgent to teach the young what to think than to show them how to think.
Hitler himself taunted his opponents for their powerlessness against him. They might rage at him as much as they liked, but When an opponent declares I will not come over to your side I say calmly Your child belongs to us already . . . What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community. He was so nearly right.
As for the defeated left, a startling number of them came over to the new camp almost immediately. De Rougemont spoke to a renegade Communist who had switched sides and joined the Hitlerites, who said,
National Socialism was egalitarian and horribly modern. It sided with children against parents and (often) teachers. It built super-highways, gigantic holiday camps, space rockets, and jet engines. It planned to create mass car ownershipthough tanks, in the end, came first.In military matters it was open to the newest ideas and encouraged innovation and initiative. It poured resources into the movie industry, developed television, and sponsored a type of Godless modern architecture which can still be seen in the Berlin Olympic Stadium and the remnants of the Nuremberg parade grounds.Its leaders embraced sexual freedom.
And then there were Hitlers eugenics schemes, portrayed so heartbreakingly in Never Look Away. These were conducted in public at the beginning, and even endorsed by noisy propaganda campaigns in the media. And they were far from unique: Nazi Germany, in this case, was following the democracies.Hitlers eugenics squads began in ways that the rest of the world (at the time) could not easily object to. Compulsory sterilization of the supposedly mentally unfit was introduced in Germany a few months after National Socialism came to power. But several free and enlightened countriesincluding Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.S.had also permitted it in various forms, and would in some cases carry on doing so into our own era.
It was a progressive cause, embraced at the time by the progressives progressive, H. G. Wells. Marie Stopes, the great apostle of contraception in interwar Britain, was alsolike many among the progressives of the timea keen eugenicist.In 1935, she attended a Congress for Population Science in Nazi Berlin. In August 1939, she even sent Hitler a volume of her dreadful poems, accompanied by a treacly epistle about love. Yet all this has been forgotten amid continuing progressive admiration for Marie Stopess embrace ofwhat are nowadays known as reproductive rights. Marie Stopes International, a powerful and flourishing modern organization, still bears her name as it campaigns for and defends those reproductive rights.
Am I saying (someone will accuse me of this) that modern abortion and contraception campaigners are Nazis, or inheritors of Nazis?Certainly not. I regard any such claim as ridiculous rubbishas ridiculous as the claim that modern patriotic conservatives, skeptical about mass immigration, are Nazis or inheritors of Nazis.
My point is wholly different.It is that all ideas must be argued on their merits, and that all attempts to establish guilt by association should be regarded with suspicion. And that those who wish to use the Hitler era as a way of depriving others of legitimacy should understand that this period, precisely because it cast aside therestraints of Christian morality and duty, liberated many ideas from ancient, sometimes despised limits which turned out, in the end,to be wise and kind.
Peter Hitchensis a columnist for theMail on Sunday.
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