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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Rationalism
From headless angels to boiled children: A brief history of macabre Christmas cards by the worlds greatest artists – The Indian Express
Posted: December 25, 2021 at 6:09 pm
In 1843, English civil servant Sir Henry Cole, who would become the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, asked his friend John Horsley to design what would become the first-ever commercially printed Christmas card. The first cards were hand-produced and each copy cost a shilling, which was more than the daily wage of many workers in the Victorian Age.
As printing methods improved and production costs went down, gifting Christmas cards became a very popular practice. But the artwork used on these cards to share seasons greetings have undergone many transformations since then.
More interestingly, starting from the Victorians macabre sketches to Spanish artist Salvador Dals surrealist experimentation, many Christmas cards over the ages have used artwork that challenged conventions, inspired awe and even provoked outrage.
Dals surrealist art would be a good point to start our journeyalbeit a non-linear oneinto the history of the most bizarre Christmas cards.
Born in the aftermath of World War I, surrealism was an artistic and literary movement that had a firm focus on channeling the unconscious to unlock the power of imagination. In a departure from the post-enlightenment logic of absolute rationalism and realism, surrealist art was illogical, absurdist and at times even unnerving as it thrived on biomorphic and dream-like imagery.
In surrealism, there is something awkwardly unsettling about the juxtaposition of images that break the chain of causality, when one moment or expression leads to another without any logical connection being established. The conflation of images gives rise to a sense of forced hybridity, as in the famous dream sequence in Alfred Hitchcocks Spellbound where free-floating eyes transform into painted curtains, which are shredded by a man with scissors; a scene succeeded by a game of cards and a man without a face.
Spellbound, starring Ingrid Bergman as a psychiatrist, capitalised on the rise of pop psychology in America in the light of the growing public interest in the work of German psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. For its dream sequence, Hitchcock had roped in Dal who had become synonymous with the surrealist movement that gained prominence in the early part of the 20th century.
The sequence from Spellbound in a way typifies the excesses of the surrealist movementeach image alluring as it provokes a sense of fear and desire, capturing the fragility of each moment as the next person or object makes an illogical and forced intervention. The montage becomes a visual hybrid of what Umberto Eco may call oneiric images.
Like most surrealists, a sense of forced displacement that causes shock was important for Dals art. In 1959, Hallmark approached him, paying an advance of $15,000 for submitting images for greetings cards. Dal ultimately submitted 10 images for Christmas cards, but most of them were considered to be too unsettling to be put into production.
By the late 1940s, Hallmark had started using paintings of contemporary artists on their Christmas cards. So, through the unsophisticated art of greeting cards, the worlds greatest masters were shown to millions of people who might otherwise not have been exposed to them, company founder Joyce Clyde Hall wrote in his autobiography.
By the time Hallmark approached Dal, it had used the art of Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and Georgia OKeeffe on their Christmas cards. But Dals surrealist renditions of the Christmas tree and the Holy Family were considered to be too dangerous or avant-garde at that timeof the 10 images he submitted, only two were finally put into production.
The ones that were rejected included images of a headless angel playing a lute, a Christmas tree made of butterflies and a representation of three wise men riding camels.
Even the two images which were selectedThe Nativity and Madonna and Childhad the ebullient excesses that embodied Dals style. They marked a radical departure from depictions of the nativity scene or Madonna in high Renaissance art. The difference in Dals imagery is stark when compared alongside the magical transcendence embodied in a painting like The Mystical Nativity by Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli.
If Botticellis depiction elevates the senses to a state of spiritual transcendence, Dals art is marked by the spirit of irreverence that reduces the nativity scene to the mundaneness of everyday life.
The surrealists looked down upon high art as a form of bourgeois individualism. They focused on the everydayness of existence even as they deployed a stylised technique which was divorced from rationality and logic. In choosing their imagery, the focus remained firmly on, what Andr Breton in his 1924 Surrealist manifesto calls, psychic automatism, which is to be exercised in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic concerns. This free play of images, with the objective of giving an unbridled reign to the unconscious, was supposed to produce images which lacked logical explanations and causal connections, resulting in a sense of shock and awe.
The forced juxtaposition of images produced this effect even in surrealist poetry. For example, in Bretons Free Union (1931), he writes: My wife with her figure of an otter between the tigers teethMy wife with temples the slate of a hothouse roof/With eyebrows the edge of a swallows nestMy wife with wooden eyes always under the axe
This penchant for using images to produce a sense of shock was also a hallmark of the Dadaist movement which many believe sowed the seeds of surrealism. A notorious moment that became a high point of the movement was in 1917 when Marcel Duchamp submitted a mens urinalplayfully signed R. Muttand titled Fountainfor the New York Society of Independent Artists exhibition.
Much like his other paintings, Dals art for the Christmas cards was considered too obtuse and outrageous during his time. For all his obsession with ants and molten clocks, his art was subsumed by the metaphoric potential of images.
American artist Andy Warhol drew a series of blotted line Christmas cards in the 1950s. The pope of pop, as he came to be known, designed some of these for Tiffanys and even featured in a couple of Christmas card catalogues for the Museum of Modern Art.
But these are among his least remembered works. Unimpressed with his efforts, one of his clients in the 1950s reportedly remarked: He gave us a whole series of little funny drawings for Christmasthey were his original drawings, little sketches of an angel, or a cat all bright redbut hardly anything was suitable for Christmas. They werent very appealing.
But among the works that brought him fame were Warhols paintings with Christian imagery. He drew the Monalisa series in 1963 by using silkscreena stenciling technique for surface printing which was developed in the 1900sto duplicate Leonardo da Vincis famous painting. This was followed by the Jackie series which rendered Jackie Kennedy as a figure out of a piet modelled after Michelangelos creation.
In the 1980s, Warhol spent time working on his Modern Madonna series for which he asked mothers to sit while they nursed their babies. He was subsequently offered a million dollars by art dealer Alexander Iolas to produce his Last Supper series.
Despite the overtly Christian imagery in this series, through his art he also tried to send out a message to fundamentalist Protestant evangelists and Roman Catholic bishops who denounced gay life. Warhol, who lived openly as a gay man, through his works in the series, particularly Be a Somebody with a Body, tried to address the homophobic biases and controversies surrounding AIDS which were dominating headlines at that time.
Long before the quirky experimentation by the modernists, the Victorians taste for the macabre played out in the form of weird artwork on their Christmas cards. This was an age when Santa Claus had not been commercialised and Hallmark was not yet established.
It was only in 1881 that cartoonist Thomas Nast (Baghsaw) represented Santa Claus in a form which we would recognise today. The representation in Harpers Weekly went on to become a recurring concept on Christmas cards.
Before that, animals, flowers and foliage along with seasonal greetings were very common. But using bizarre representations, which by modern standards could be considered inappropriate for the purpose of cheering up spirits, were also in vogue. Among the disturbing Christmas cards which were popular back then are the ones with images of dead birds, murderous frogs and children being boiled.
A wide range of animals and birds were used in the artwork but there was a common recurring theme of death. Many experts have attributed this to the low life expectancy and high mortality rate during harsh winters in the Victorian era.
Many of the images were nightmarish. Coloured sketches of rosy-faced children spreading cheer would be tempered with a turnip wearing a hat, dead robins, glum-faced animals and sinister food items leaping out. Amid the spirit of Christmas cheer, there was a ubiquitous and omnipresent feeling of dark foreboding and death.
At the same time, the practice of using Christmas imagery in the form of Jesus Christ, angels, crosses, sheep and carols on Christmas cards was extremely popular. T.H.S. Escott in Social Transformations of the Victorian Age writes: The Victorian age is in fact above all others an age of religious revival. Historians like Owen Chadwick note that the clergy became more zealous from the middle of the 1850s as they conducted worship more reverently, knew their people better, understood a little more theology, said more prayers, celebrated sacraments more frequently, studied the Bible, preached shorter sermons.
The propensity to experiment with the bizarre, often perhaps to explore the redemptive and radical potential of art, has endured the test of time. Centuries after the Victorians used images of dead birds and long after the headless angel of Dal, the most recent Christmas cards to have provoked curiosity and condemnation in equal measure are by street artist Banksy.
Among the controversial Christmas graffiti by Banksy is a representation of the nativity scene in which Joseph and Mary are blocked from reaching Bethlehem by the Israeli West Bank barrier. The painting has been around till 2005 but had gone viral on social media recently following a renewed escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
A few years ago, Birmingham residents discovered a reindeer wall graffiti which was widely considered to be the work of Banksy. Subsequently, the artist himself shared on Instagram the video of a homeless man lying down on a bench behind which the graffiti is visible on the wall. As Ill Be Home for Christmas played on in the background, Banksys subversion of the figure of Santaimagined here not as a deliverer but a common man rendered powerless by the forces of global capitalis both poignant and powerful.
In 2020, a Banksy Christmas card, which showed Raymond Briggss famous snowman bending over another while smoking a fag, sold for nearly 4,000 in London.
Many of Banksys Christmas cards had been first exhibited at popup galleries in the early 2000s. These exhibitions at centres around London and once in Palestine were usually sold out affairs.
As a popular anecdote goes, the street artist had once just entered one of his exhibitions at a Santas Ghetto in London in 2003 only to find the police asking a staff member if Banksy was there. Im sorry I cant help. I dont know who Banksy is, the staff member reportedly lied. And Banksy, while looking at the paintings just like any other connoisseur of art, calmly walked out.
Andr Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, Translated by Helen R. Lane and Richard Seaver (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1972)
David Hopkins, Dada and Surrealism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)
Salvador Dal, The Secret Life of Salvador Dal, Translated by Haakon M Chevalier (New York: Dover Publications, INC., 1993)
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Posted: December 22, 2021 at 1:04 am
This engaging memoir recounting tales from a career as a technical advisor put me in mind of a long night at a wine-soaked dinner party at an expat compound, the type of evening the author herself recounts as having savoured many times.
There are well-turned yarns, droll reflections, thought-provoking asides and sometimes the most deliciously indiscreet observations.
But mysterious loneliness hangs over proceedings too, with unanswered questions about why guests have chosen to pursue such unsettled and professionally unsatisfying lives.
Mary Venner was a Canberra public servant who craved more thrills than a brisk constitutional around the lake during her lunchbreak.
She wanted to get into overseas work and become an aid worker, but didnt hanker to be the kind who looks after starving children or puts up tents for refugees. Instead, her stock in trade is in constructing something that cannot readily be seen: institutional capacity.
The book recounts her stints working as a public financial management adviser in positions where, as she puts it drily, my main qualification was simply my willingness to get on a plane at short notice and travel halfway around the world to a place I knew nothing about.
Venners life felt very familiar to me. I, too, frequently fended off the question of where are you this time as a jobbing consultant travelling around the world preparing similar products of administrative rationalism.
We were in some of the same places at around the same time.
We might well have revelled at the same bacchanals in Pristina and Kabul. The book is divided into three sections which follow each other chronologically.
The first section is devoted to Venners account of working to build new institutions from scratch in UN administered Kosovo at the turn of the millennium.
She is perceptive about the showy folly of many of the priorities that guided international priorities oodles of funding for media development and less for agriculture and education.
She deftly captures how the politics that animated donors and Kosovars alike stood in sharp contrast to the apolitical, bureaucratic-driven vision of government that the type of projects she was working on officially promoted.
Small wonder so many foundered. Her Balkan contracts at an end, Venner heads to Kabul working off a terms of reference copy and pasted from Kosovo.
When she arrives, budgets are still being managed via gigantic ledger books and an accounting schema introduced in the 1960s by some of Venners consulting predecessors.
She encounters Ashraf Ghani, then finance minister and a future president, who is drawn as a cantankerous and high-handed dreamer, more interested in big donor-funded projects than the ministrys routine work of raising tax revenue and paying the governments bills.
Even in 2002, the Afghan government had a house of cards quality to it.
The last third of the book rattles through tales acquired from other assignments in places as diverse as Libya and the Philippines.
I very much enjoyed her well drawn account of complete governmental resistance to a USAID finance project in kleptocratic Kiev.
A conclusion entitled exit report provides a more spirited defence of technical advisory work than readers of the pages prior might anticipate.
Venners book raises important questions about how technical assistance is conceptualised and delivered.
Although the book doesnt cover the Pacific, a lot of the observations about technical assistance hold currency for the various partnerships in justice, governance, financial management and everything else that the Australian aid program is rolling out presently.
The book constitutes an especially valuable peek into the precarities and uncertainties inherent to the typically out-ofsight world of aid contracting.
Venner has worked for a slew of companies who deliver such programs. Companies run on contracts and the key determinant of success for a project is whether those funding the project deem it a success.
Venner renders well this incentive structure in an acidic pen portrait of Robert a chief of party in the doomed financial management project in Ukraine.
The only issue of concern to him appeared to be what will USAID think, Will I get into trouble and Who can I blame, Venner writes.
Weve all met a few Roberts in our time, along with their jittery alter-egos from aid bureaucracies who lean on the Roberts by making foreboding noises about withholding milestone payments.
Grousing about such people is a common activity of those who work in aid, but we get coy when it comes to mentioning these hidden hierarchies in public. Venner is to be given credit for writing frankly about a ubiquitous but rarely-raised issue.
Throughout her time abroad, Venner lives in an English-speaking bubble, linguistically and culturally cut off from the people she is working with, and rarely sticking around long enough to acquire more than surface familiarity.
The majority of her colleagues are in a similar boat. Along with the books humour and insight Venner is to be commended for painting an honest and sometimes poignant picture of what a forlorn and downright lonely line of work this can be.
My sole kvetch with the book is that we learn little about Venners own internal journey. What motivated her to keep at this work? Did she ever want to say stuff it and go do something else? Did her family (as mine did) ever wonder when shed get a proper job? Did the inconsistencies, hypocrisies and loneliness of this line of work ever get too much to bear? It cant all be wry stories, surely.
Mary Venners Where are you this time? is an important read for anyone hoping to work in development consulting or better understand it.
Posted: December 15, 2021 at 9:27 am
As is our annual tradition (here was last year's), the University of Chicago Law School has posted a list of books our faculty are reading and recommend this year. Here are the two I highlighted:
The Scout Mindset, by Julia Galef
A book about how and why to be rationalthat is, to try to see the world as it is even if it isn't what we wish. (A "soldier mindset" is committed to fighting back against beliefs we don't currently hold; a "scout mindset" is committed to learning the truth about what's out there, even if it's bad news.) The book also demonstrates great sympathy for the emotional urges that make it hard for us to think clearly, using stories and examples ranging from the Dreyfuss Affair to the author's own love life. Important and maybe life-changing.
I tried to write that blurb without using the word "rationalism" for fear that the people who would most benefit from reading it would be put off by the "ism." I trust that isn't as true of Volokh readers.
As for fiction, I picked A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine
A palace intrigue set in an interplanetary empire. The protagonist heads from her far-flung homeworld to the imperial capital armed with the technologically implanted memories of her dead predecessor, a too-tempting love of imperial culture, and yet a stubborn loyalty to her home planet. A page-turning and haunting story ensues. The best science fiction book I've read in a long time, and the sequel (A Desolation Called Peace) is just as good.
There was no question that Julia's book was going to be my non-fiction recommendation for the year (and you can listen to my appearance on her podcast earlier this year if you want to know more about why). But I've read a lot of science fiction and fantasy this year so there was more competition there. I also really enjoyed the Goblin Emperor and its quasi-sequel by Katherine Addison; The Daevabad Trilogy (City of Brass, etc.) by S. A Chakraborty; the newest Penric books by Lois McMaster Bujold; The Scholomance books by Naomi Novik; Hail Mary by Andy Weir; and the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells.
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Posted: at 9:27 am
Admittedly, over much of the time during this cryptocurrency rally, Ive offered philosophical takes regarding this sector, mainly because I believe were entering uncharted territory of speculation. Believe it or not, my priority is to advocate for our readers. Recklessly participating in cryptos invites danger. But when it comes to Sandbox (CCC:SAND-USD), Im much more lucid: if you want to participate, wait.
Source: Ira Lichi / Shutterstock.com
As you know, the crypto market is taking a page out of the equities sector, which suffered a beatdown over concerns about how the Federal Reserve will battle the blisteringly accelerative inflation rate. Logically, if the Fed decides to take away the punch bowl of monetary support, thats not going to appeal for risk-on assets. This category of course includes cryptos like Sandbox and the entire digital asset complex.
Its not so much that higher rates are negative for growth stocks and other sentiment-fueled publicly traded opportunities. Rather, investors under the principle of economic rationalism will park their money toward sectors that feature an ideal risk-reward profile. Much of the reason why investors clamored for growth names and cryptos during the new normal is to hedge against the inflation that everyones worried about now.
Nevertheless, if you have a long-term framework with Sandbox and related projects, the coronavirus pandemic and its associated ills will eventually give way. Thus, SAND-USD could represent a viable discount.
Fundamentally, proponents have a solid case. To make a long story short, Sandbox leverages blockchain technology to facilitate an economic ecosystem for the video gaming sector. Through combining blockchain innovations like decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Sandbox aims to create an incentivization structure.
Such structures are known as play to earn, enabling both users and content creators to build digital wealth.
Although the concept of decentralized gaming is a groundbreaking one, its groundbreaking for the users not so much as an economic principle. Sure, any endeavor can now be technically decentralized from fiat-currency-issuing government systems. But unless Sandbox or any other platform develops a token with universally recognized value, the narrative (again, the economic component) falls apart.
Cryptos basically run parallel to the Soviet Union, ironically enough. Essentially, the Soviet Union (though a centralized authority) represented for a long time a viable alternative to western-style capitalism. Indeed, the Soviets had their own ruble as currency. It was a legitimate economy until it wasnt. And I would argue that lack of broader integration doomed the grand communist experiment.
I hope that the same fate doesnt befall Sandbox, but thats a different topic for another day.
What I dont like about buying Sandbox at the present juncture is the technical profile. This time, Im referring to technical analysis, not blockchain technology. When I see the chart for SAND, I recognize a familiar pattern.
From late October to late November of this year, Sandbox skyrocketed from under a buck to well over $8. Basically, this token jumped by 10x and some change in one month. But since then, it has sharply given back much of its gains. And I fear more corrections are on the way.
How come? Well, its the same trajectory that Dogecoin (CCC:DOGE-USD) which I own, for full disclosure suffered. DOGE skyrocketed in May 2021, only to sharply correct and then enter a frustrating sideways consolidation channel.
Shiba Inu (CCC:SHIB-USD)? Same thing. Skyrocketed into late October and sharply corrected thereafter. It too appears like its going to enter a consolidation channel.
I dont have a crystal ball, so I want you to take these words with a grain of salt. However, I think its very possible that the two meme coins I mentioned above may eventually form what technical analysts call a rounding bottom or saucer pattern.
To provide a succinct description, the assets in question absorb all negativity. Once the bears have exhausted themselves, the badly bruised bulls slowly enter the market, gaining confidence as the underlying assets charge higher.
Now, that could be wishful thinking so again, take it with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, given that other cryptos have demonstrated a similar pattern of fierce corrections following a spike rally, I would avoid buying Sandbox right now. Give it some time a few weeks, maybe a few months for clarity before making your move.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomotoheld a LONG position inDOGE.The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.comPublishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.
Posted: at 9:27 am
Tuesday 14 December 2021 7:00 am
Who would have thought that just five years after the Brexit referendum, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin and the CBI would be back on the same side. Truly, Covid-19 has made for the strangest of bedfellows.
Both have railed, reasonably, against the new Plan B restrictions which are well on their way to being passed into law this afternoon with the help of the Labour party.
Their frustrations are myriad, but chiefly come down to two grievances: one, that Government is creating what CBI boss Tony Danker calls a lockdown mentality, and two, that city centres are being particularly battered by the new restrictions.
They are both right, on both points. One can understand the Governments desire to up the ante on the need for booster jabs.
The round-the-block queues at the nearest walk-in centre to our office, across the river at Guys Hospital in London Bridge, certainly suggested that the pace of the booster rollout is set for a sizable bump.
Putting the fear of God in the British populace with predictions of a million cases a day by the end of the month may be politically expedient, then, but it does not do much for business confidence.
Some rationalism is called for. More than four in 10 Brits over the age of 12 have had the booster jab; within a week that should be comfortably more than half, and by the end of the year so many more than that.
The growing evidence is that this new variant (which will not be the last) is milder than previous strains; ditto, there are growing signs that a booster jab is effective at fighting Omicron.
That is not an argument to let it rip but it is a solid enough evidence base to suggest that come January we may be in a position to relax these new rules and allow us to start 2022 on a brighter note than we are currently set for.
If the Government could do its best not to knife the entire hospitality industry in the process, all the better.
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Posted: December 10, 2021 at 7:01 pm
In May, 1933, the Nazis burned tens of thousands books at universities across Germany. Works by Einstein, Freud, Heine, Mann, Remarque, London, and Zola, among many others, were consigned to the fires. One of the authors whose books were burned was Franz Boas, the famed Columbia University anthropologist, who had long waged a campaign against racist pseudo-science and Nordic nonsense.
Nicholas Murray Butler, the president of Columbia University from 1902-1945, did not rise to the occasion of speaking out in support of Boas, or academic freedom in Germany. When the Nazis expelled Jewish faculty members and students from universities, Butler stayed silent, continued sending Columbia students to Germany and welcomed Nazi-approved students in exchange.
Butler was one of the most famous university presidents this country has ever seen. He ran for Vice President on the Republican Party ticket in 1912. In 1931, he won a Nobel Peace Prize (shared with Jane Addams) for his promotion of peace and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which signatories including Germany, France, and the U.S. agreed not to use war to resolve disputes and conflicts. The New York Times distributed his annual Christmas message to the nation. He also served as president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The media gave his comments on international affairs considerable attention, writes scholar Stephen H. Norwood. He was therefore in a position to exert significant influence in shaping American views of Nazi Germany.
Instead, Butlers actions spoke volumes when he welcomed the Nazi ambassador the United States to Columbia, months after the book-burnings; when he refused to appear with a notable German dissident when the latter spoke at the university; and when he repeatedly violated a boycott of German shipping.
Meanwhile, students on campus who protested Nazi barbarism were met with a heavy hand. Faculty members who recognized the necessity of public protest against Nazis were punished as wellButler ended the careers of two of them. Columbias student newspaper noted that the schools reputation suffered because of the remarkable silence of its president about the Hitler government.
Norwood argues that Butlers silence about, and therefore his complicity with, Nazism and Italian fascism until the late 1930s was influenced both by his antisemitism, privately expressed, and his economic conservatism and hostility to trade unionism.
Columbia was, after all, the first American institution of higher learning to establish an anti-Jewish quota. Butler spearheaded what muckraker Upton Sinclair called an academic pogrom during the Teens and Twenties among elite universities to reduce the number of Jewish students. Butler believed he ran a Christian institution and that evaluating students on their character, personality, and general bearing would limit Jewish students.
Norwood writes that Butler failed to grasp the nature and implications of Nazism. Yet Butler was also a longtime admirer of Benito Mussolini, whose Italian Fascist Party was born a century ago this month. Fascism, with its anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism, hardly seems compatible with education. But fascism had many fans among American elites, who considered it a necessary bulwark against communism (which, in the antisemitic mind, was Jewish in origin).
Butler wasnt alone. No major American university followed the example of Williams College President Tyler Dennett when he stopped academic exchanges with the Nazis in 1936. In 1935, Edward R. Murrow, who worked to rescue more than 300 scholars persecuted by the Nazis before he became a broadcaster, wrote, The thing that really concerns me about the situation over here is the general indifference of the university world and the smug complacency in the face of what has happened to Germany.
Where books are burned, said Heinrich Heine more than a century before his books were burned by the Nazis, in the end people will be burned too.
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By: Stephen H. Norwood
Modern Judaism, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Oct., 2007), pp. 253-283
Oxford University Press
Posted: at 7:01 pm
All technology is organized into Eras, which are rough estimates of progress through the games timespan. Anything in Era I is considered pre-1836 technology, going back as far as the very idea of Rationalism to the invention of Steelworking. Era II ranges from the start of the game to around the 1860s - Railways and Percussion Cap ammunition both belong here, though some countries did have railways a little earlier than 1836; this is not an exact science.
Era III runs from the early 1860s to the end of the 1880s and includes Civilizing Mission as a justification for colonization and Pumpjacks, heralding the rise of the oil industry. Era IV from late 1880 to the early 20th century includes both War Propaganda and Film, both of which might make it easier to justify the horrors which are to come in Era V - including Battleships, Chemical Warfare, and Stormtroopers.
Era V also sees truly modern civilian inventions such as the Oil Turbine to make Electricity from Oil and Paved Roads to improve your national infrastructure.
Paradox Interactive Victoria 3 - Technology spread is also affected by your Freedom of Speech Laws
The Eras act as an indicator of roughly where you are at in a given tree but also serves a role in ensuring that rushing a certain late-game technology is difficult. Not only do technologies in later Eras take more innovative effort to research, but each technology you have not yet researched in that tree from previous Eras makes it harder and harder to make progress. This means techs arent unlocked on specific years in Victoria 3, and there is never a hard block preventing you from making your Universities develop technologies earlier than they were historically invented.
The final yet crucial point about technological development is that government funding and steering of national research is not the dominant way most countries are exposed to new ideas.
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The famous composer is dead. Steve Frances died at the age of 61 :: Magazine :: RMF FM – brytfmonline.com
Posted: at 7:01 pm
Steve Franksky is dead. The musician and founder of the famous British band Bronsky Beat passed away on Thursday 9 December 2021. He was 61. Information about his death was provided by a friend from the band, who said goodbye to his friend in a touching post.
On Thursday, December 9, 2021, he died at the age of 61 Steve Franksky, Keyboard player and one of the founders of the British band Bronsky Beat. News of his death was shared on social media by his teammate Jimmy Somerville. It was with him that he founded the Bronsky Group, which won the UK rankings in the 1980s. The cause of death of the music star has not been made public.
Sad to hear the news that Steve Bronsky is dead. He is a talented and very melodic man. It was a fun and exciting time to work with him on songs and songs that changed our lives and touched many. Thanks for your music, Steve Tweeted in Somerville.
Steve Franksky, Jimmy Somerville I Larry Steinposek In 1983 they formed a band Bronsky Beat. They gained immense popularity with This One Song mentioned by Somerville.Smalltown guy. This episode was released in December 1984. The song that won the huge fan crowd, Reached number one in the world rankings. The music video for the song also generated a lot of interest, telling the story of a young homosexual man who escapes the evil that touches him and discovers Bronzky and Steinfossk, with whom he begins a new chapter in his life.
The Bronsky beat was very popular in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in Great Britain. Unexpectedly, heard about the group. In 2017 only, After 22 years The musicians broke their silence and released an album entitled The Age of Rationalism. Of the original row members of the group, only Steve Franksky was present. Somerville left the band in 1985 to form The Communards. Steinpoche, on the other hand, died in 2016 after a brief battle with cancer.
Steve Bronzky is from Glasgow and his real name is Steve Forrest. He died on December 8, 2021 at the age of 61. The cause of death has not been made public.
The Mom Talent singer is dead. She is 23 years old
American Got Talent participant has died. The sad news was confirmed by his mother. The circumstances of the death of the 23-year-old singer, who moved millions of viewers with her performance, are not clear.
Proud explorer. Freelance social media expert. Problem solver. Gamer. Extreme travel aficionado.
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Just before the 1946 general elections in British India, Muhammad Ali Jinnahs All India Muslim League (AIML) was poised to become the largest party of Muslims in the region. In 1940, the AIML had declared its intention of forming a separate Muslim-majority enclave as a way to counter the political and economic dominance of Hindu majoritarianism.
AIML was formed in 1906 to safeguard Muslim economic and political interests in India. It was founded by groups of Muslim economic elites as a counterweight to the Indian National Congress (INC). The INC was founded in 1885. It had positioned itself as a secular nationalist outfit, but its core leadership and following were largely Hindu. And it had in its ranks some pockets of radical Hindu nationalists as well.
The AIML emerged as a Muslim interest group that had evolved from the ideas and activism of the 19th-century Muslim reformer Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. He had worked towards building an empowered Muslim class of intellectuals, civil servants, white-collar workers and businessmen in India. His modus operandi in this respect included reformist campaigns and the establishment of educational institutions to impart modern (European) knowledge to the Muslims. He also formulated a more rational and disenchanted reading and interpretation of Islams sacred texts.
The size and scope of the AIML remained minor compared to that of the INC, or for that matter, in relation to the Deobandi Islamist party Jamiat Ulema Islam-Hind (JUI-H) formed in 1919, and the radical Majlis-e Ahrar (formed in 1929). However, from the late 1930s onwards, the League lurched forward in an attempt to become the largest Muslim party in India, especially when the liberal barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah became its foremost leader.
According to the economist Shahid Javed Burki (in State and Society in Pakistan), the influence of AIML members from the urban Muslim middle-classes grew from the late 1930s. Burki is of the view that this undermined the influence that the landed elites had enjoyed in the League. In this context, the view of the late sociologist Hamza Alavi is slightly more nuanced. In an essay for the November 2000 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly, Alavi wrote that until the start of the Khilafat Movement in 1919, the AIML was a secular party willing to work with the INC to oust the British from the Subcontinent.
Alavi wrote that the Khilafat Movement that emerged in 1919 to protest the ouster of the last Ottoman caliph in Istanbul was quickly joined by INCs spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi. The Khilafat Movement was spearheaded by Islamist outfits and Muslim nationalists in concert with the INC. Gradually, the movement became more about the ouster of the British from India. According to Alavi, during this period, the AIML was stormed by Islamists who dislodged the partys secular leadership. Jinnah walked out in disgust, warning that the emotions driving the Khilafat Movement would mutate and turn inwards, spelling disaster for Indias Hindu and Muslim communities. This is exactly what happened. After failing to dislodge the British, the movement turned on itself when violence erupted between its erstwhile allies.
After the movement exhausted itself, the Leagues secular leadership rebounded and returned to a position of influence in the party. Burki attributes this to the rise of urban middle-class groups in the League. But here again Alavi takes a more nuanced view. He agrees that the partys secular leadership made a comeback after the collapse of the Khilafat Movement. However, he insists that this leadership, now headed by Jinnah, was not quite interested in carving out a Muslim-majority country. The pressure to do so came from landed elites who feared that an INC government would confiscate their lands. The pressure also came from Muslim salary-dependent classes who were facing increasing competition from the Hindu salaried classes. The latter had an advantage because they were in a majority and more qualified.
Hamza Alavi wrote that until the start of the Khilafat Movement in 1919, the AIML was a secular party willing to work with the INC to oust the British from the Subcontinent
Alavi and Burki agree that when time came to put the idea of a separate Muslim country as a promise in front of the electorate during the 1946 elections, the reasons behind this were almost entirely economic. Alavi wrote that the new country was not offered as a theocracy but as a Muslim-majority region where the economic and political interests of the Muslims would thrive in the absence of hegemonic Hindu majoritarianism. In a way, the Muslim nationalism which led to the creation of Pakistan treated the Muslims and Hindus as separate economic and ethnic groups. Religious differences between the two were not overtly highlighted.
This was because the League had put the nationalist impulse of Muslims in the public space but relegated Islams theological aspects to the private sphere. This is a major reason why Islamist outfits such as JUI-H, the Ahrar and Jamat Islami (JI) were critical of the Leagues programme. They warned that Pakistan would be a secular Muslim nationalist realm and its politics divorced from the faiths theological doctrines.
However, whereas the Leagues programme managed to get traction from Muslims residing in Hindu-majority regions of India, the party had to adopt a more populist line of action in Muslim-majority areas such as East Bengal, Sindh and Punjab. The Muslim populations and their political representatives in these regions were deeply rooted in colonial politics of patronage that had benefitted the Muslim landed elites. One of the largest political parties in the Punjab was the secular but conservative Unionist Party (UP). This party was the political vessel of Muslim, Hindu and Sikh landed elites and a prosperous bourgeoise. Politics in Sindh, too, was dominated by landed elites, whereas in East Bengal, the Muslims were embroiled in a tussle with Hindu moneylenders.
Therefore, in East Bengal, the League formulated a strategy in which Pakistan was explained as country whose creation would eliminate the influence of the exploitative Hindus. Land reforms, too, were promised. Since East Bengal also had a large Hindu community within which there were tensions between upper-caste Hindus and so-called Dalits, the League encouraged the Dalits to opt for Pakistan and/or a country that would treat them as equal citizens. A prominent leader of Bengals Dalits, Jogendra Nath Mandal, joined the League with his followers. The Leagues election campaign in East Bengal, therefore, mostly revolved around local economic issues and tensions. Islam here was simply articulated as a religion of economic equality.
Unlike Punjab and East Bengal, where Muslims had razor-thin majorities, the Muslim majority was significant in Sindh even though the province did have a large Hindu minority (25 percent). Most of these were residing in Karachi, which was declared Sindhs provincial capital in 1936. The problem that the League faced here was that a faction of the Muslim nationalism that the party was advocating had broken away and mutated into becoming Sindhi nationalism. The League overcame this by co-opting various dimensions of Sindhi culture and placing them in the context of Muslim nationalism.
Secondly, even though there were historic tensions between Muslims and Hindu moneylenders, Muslim Sindhi politicians did not want to trigger Sindhi Hindus because the latter were vital components of Sindhs economy. However, when Sindh was declared a province in 1936 by the British, Sindhi Hindus had opposed the move. Sindh had been part of the Bombay Presidency since the mid-19th century. Opposition by the Hindus against Sindh becoming a province did create resentment amongst the Muslims of the province, but no communal violence took place. Sindh overwhelming voted for the League. Its voting pattern was also influenced by Sindhs landed elites. The Leagues programme was designed to appeal to the culture of religious syncretism in Sindh and to the desired unity of Sindhi Muslims.
During the campaigning phase of the 1946 polls, the Muslim Leagues politics in Punjab mutated into becoming what, decades later, the famous French philosopher Michel Foucault would call political spirituality
Punjab, where the Muslims had a slight majority, was a region where tensions between the Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were high. Major radical Hindu and Muslim religious groups were also headquartered here. The Unionist Party (UP) tried to keep things in check by distributing influential positions to prominent leaders from Punjabs main religious communities. The League was weak in Punjab. Nevertheless, due to the efforts of the partys student and youth wings, the Leagues programme did manage to attract certain Muslim middle-class sections in urban Punjab, a majority of Muslims resided in the provinces rural and peri-urban areas. Most of them were under the sway of large land-owning Barelvi pirs and radical Islamist groups.
During the campaigning phase of the 1946 polls, the Muslim Leagues politics in Punjab mutated into becoming what, decades later, the famous French philosopher Michel Foucault would call political spirituality. Before we investigate exactly what he had meant by this, we must first explore what happened in Punjab.
As tensions between Punjabs three main religious communities continued to increase, the INC began to support Islamist groups that had rejected the Leagues Muslim nationalism. These groups declared it to be anti-Islam and secular. They attacked the Leagues core leadership as being merely nominal Muslims who were Westernised and knew nothing about the theology of Islam. They claimed that they were responding to the Leagues Islamic propaganda against UP.
The League thought otherwise. To counter propaganda against Jinnah, the League unleashed clerics and ulema who had broken away from pro-INC Islamist parties such as the JUI-H. Clerics and followers of pirs were also activated once they decided to ditch UP and support the League. According to Ian Talbot (in the journal Modern Asian Studies, 1980), the pro-League ulema presented Jinnah as a saint of sorts, who was battling Muslim heretics and Hindus to create an Islamic state.
Talbot wrote that a majority of rural Muslims in Punjab hadnt even seen Jinnah. Yet, they were made to imagine him as a spiritual leader who was a true Muslim compared to the ulema who were castigating him as a wine-drinking secularist who had no knowledge of Islam. This was actually true. To Jinnah, a Muslim nationalist state was not a theocracy but a modern nation-state in which Indias Muslim minority would become a majority and pursue its economic interests in a more fluent manner.
It was during this campaign that claims of creating a new Madinah and the slogan Pakistan ka matlab kya: La illaha illAllah were heard for the very first time. These claims and slogan were products of Islamists who had joined the Leagues election campaign in the Punjab. The League managed to win the largest number of seats in the province, followed by INC and UP. The pro-League Islamists were so successful in usurping the rhetoric and doctrines of anti-League Islamists that outfits such as the Ahrar were wiped out in the election.
But this success constituted a problem that still haunts Punjab to this day. The Leagues message was moderate in Sindh and almost socialist in East Bengal. But it became increasingly Islamist in Punjab. When riots broke out between Hindus and Sikhs on the one side, and Muslims on the other in Punjab, most Muslims in the province saw this as a battle between Islam and kufr.
The League had no plan whatsoever to create a theocracy. Nor a socialist state, for that matter. It was to be a state based on high authoritarian modernism i.e. when a state believes that every aspect of society can be improved through robust centralisation and rational and scientific planning. The Islamic aspect in the context of Pakistan was to remain limited to Muslim majoritarianism and nationalism. This created confusion in Punjab, that had witnessed an emotional election campaign with Islamist messages galvanising Muslims to vote for a new Madinah and violence that was perceived as a cosmic war between good and evil, Islam and infidelity.
During a League convention in Karachi, soon after the creation of Pakistan, a man stood up and asked Jinnah whatever had happened to the slogan Pakistan ka matlab kya: La illaha illAllah? Jinnah asked the man to sit down, then explained that no such resolution was ever passed by the party (to make Pakistan an Islamic state). Jinnah scoffed that some people might have used (this slogan) to gain votes (in Punjab).
This success constituted a problem that still haunts Punjab to this day. The Leagues message was moderate in Sindh and almost socialist in East Bengal. But it became increasingly Islamist in Punjab. When riots broke out between Hindus and Sikhs on the one side, and Muslims on the other in Punjab, most Muslims in the province saw this as a battle between Islam and kufr
Jinnah had underestimated the impact of the Islamist rhetoric used in Punjab during the election, and the manner in which the mad violence that had erupted was perceived by the Punjabi Muslims. Conditions that had formulated these perceptions were not addressed. They continued to resurface: the 1953 anti-Ahmadiyya movement in Punjab; the even more violent anti-Ahmadiyya movement of 1974, centred in Punjab; the emergence of Deobandi sectarian militant outfits and anti-Shia violence, with their core area of action being Punjab; and recently, the rise of the militant Barelvi Sunni party the TLP. What is more, according to data, between 1992 and 2021, over 70 percent of incidents of mob violence and lynchings (against persons accused of committing blasphemy) have occurred in Punjab.
On Political Spirituality
Political spirituality is a term that was coined by the late French philosopher Michel Foucault in 1978. Foucault was one of the earliest exponents of postmodernism, a late 20th century movement that was characterised by an emphasis on relativism and subjectivity as opposed to absolutism and objectivity. It declared the death of modernity and the birth of a postmodern world in which new ideas and realities were emerging outside the absolutist concepts and truths established by rationalist post-17th century European philosophers, and even by science.
Postmodernists posited that realities which do not meet the established criteria of objective and scientific truths were not untruths. They insisted that these untruths were truths according to the subjective realities that they existed in. To postmodernists, these subjective realities needed to be studied from outside the economic, social and political frameworks enacted by absolutist/objective ideas.
Postmodernisms immediate roots lay in the so-called New Left movement that had begun to surface when Soviet troops invaded Hungry in 1956 to brutally crush protests against the Soviet-backed regime in Budapest. New Left leaders and scholars began to intensely critique the politics of pro-Soviet communist parties in Europe and of contemporary Marxism.
Their aim was to refurnish Marxism with issues that went beyond class struggle. Therefore, the New Left not only took to task post-World War II capitalism, consumerism and new forms of US and European imperialism, but also lambasted Stalinism and/or Soviet communism for being imperialist, dictatorial and oppressive.
The ideas of the New Left were largely expressed during the worldwide student uprisings of the late 1960s. One of the most intense was the 1968 student revolt in Paris. For a moment, students pushed the conservative Gaullist regime in France to the brink of collapse. Instead of marching to the tune of the ageing pro-Soviet communist parties, many young men and women were carrying pictures of the Chinese communist ideologue and leader Mao Zedong.
The figure of Mao Zedong fascinated various young ideologues of the New Left. Mao, after leading a communist revolution in China in 1949, had announced a Cultural Revolution in 1966 to completely weed out counter-revolutionaries, not only from society, but also from within the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC). Mao unleashed mobs of young men and women on the streets of Chinese cities.
Rampaging mobs attacked people accused of being bourgeois. Thousands of Chinese were killed or committed suicide after being humiliated for becoming decadent and harbouring bourgeois thoughts. The economy came to a standstill and millions of students dropped out of educational institutions to take part in the carnage. But since the countys borders were tightly shut, much of what came out of China as news was designed to present the Cultural Revolution as an event that had galvanised a whole people to oust clandestine agents of capitalist decadence, manipulative bureaucrats and corrupt party officials. What is more, Mao had also cut ties with the Soviet Union.
Young leftist activists and intellectuals outside China romanticised Mao as a man of admirable impulse and revolutionary genius, who was inspiring millions of people to smash the tyranny of rational bureaucrats and the scheming bourgeoisie. But as New Left movements began to fail and recede, the horrific truths about the Cultural Revolution began to trickle in. The heroic communist superman was no better than Stalin, Mussolini or Franco. He wanted to hang on to power, even if that meant unleashing mindless mobs on imagined enemies.
When Mao finally came under increasing criticism in European leftist circles for flouting human rights and instigating violence, Foucault declared that the idea of universal human rights was meaningless because the concept of rights changed from culture to culture. He wrote that specific philosophers were needed to explore specific cultures and specific truths. This was, of course, an attack on the whole concept of the universal principles of human rights that were a product of the Enlightenment. A rejection of the concept of universality in any field would become an important plank of postmodernism, replaced by the exploration of specific understanding of specific cultures about their specific truths.
Fascination with Mao among many European intellectuals eventually fell away. In fact, by 1977, when the last remnants of the 1960s radicalism had called it a day, Foucault suddenly became a champion of universal human rights. Thus began a shift in the new European left that moved from eulogising those who had crossed the Rubicon and inspired millions to partake in acts of collective passion, to becoming relativist cultural beings, detached from realpolitik and divorced from ideologies woven from meta-narratives.
However, the earlier fascination with Mao could not stop postmodernists from continuing to applaud expressions of impulse and iconoclasm. Of course, it was conveniently overlooked at the time that just before he announced the Cultural Revolution, Mao had begun to be censured by his contemporaries within the CPC for imposing unscientific economic policies that had created devastating famines in the countryside and killed millions of people. So what better way to wipe out critics by declaring them as counterrevolutionaries, then getting them humiliated, tortured and even killed by mindless mobs?
But men such as Foucault had had their fill of Marxism, in all its forms. To them, it was yet another expression of rebellion that was rooted in the European paradigms of revolution, largely formulated by events such as the 18th century French Revolution. This is why Foucault, who was once so excited by the organic nature of Maos Cultural Revolution, completely ignored the 1979 socialist Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. Instead, in search of all things new and exotic, he got extremely interested in the events taking place in Iran.
The centrality of God and Church had begun to recede during the outbreak of the Enlightenment. Modernity in this respect reached a peak in the mid-20th century. But in the 1970s, religion was making a comeback. Especially in the Muslim world. Foucault and his early postmodernist contemporaries had understood Nietzsches bermensch as a spiritual being, but quite unlike the religious leaders who had begun to water-down their faith so that it could fit the paradigms of modernity.
So, Foucault became smitten by the charismatic Shia cleric Ayatollah Khomeini.
Foucault travelled to Iran twice in 1978. He closely studied the writings of the Iranian scholar Ali Shariati. Shariati is widely hailed as the father of Irans 1979 revolution, even though he died two years earlier. He was suspected to have been poisoned by the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavis secret police.
Shariati was not a cleric. In fact, just as the New Left had done in the West, Shariati reworked Marxism so it could be liberated from dogma and was able to address a wider range of issues. Shariati did this by expressing reworked Marxist ideas in the language of revolutionary Shiism. He projected these ideas as being already present in the events of the Battle of Karbala (680 CE) when Husayn (AS), the grandson of Islams Prophet (PBUH), refused to give allegiance to the caliph Yazid because Husayn considered him to be a tyrant and a usurper.
In his writings from Tehran, Foucault claimed to be witnessing the birth of powerful ideas that Western intellectuals had not known about
Khomeini adopted this narrative and worked it to mean a passionate and fearless uprising against the tyrant and usurper (the Shah) and the establishment of an Islamic theocracy navigated by pious men. This meant Shia clerics, of course. This was Khomeinis interpretation of Shariati. But the fact is, it was a Shia version of what Sunni Islamists such as Pakistans Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979) and Egypts Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966) had already conceptualised as a way to oust the modernist and Marxist ideas that had become prevalent in Muslim societies and were supposedly undermining the supremacy of Islam.
To Foucault, an atheist, Christianity had been overcome by secularism because it became decadent, corrupt and devoid of any spirituality. This, to Foucault, had left the rational West spiritually bankrupt. So, here he was now, in a non-Western country, watching a mighty revolution unfold that was being shaped by what Foucault called political spirituality.
In his writings from Tehran, Foucault claimed to be witnessing the birth of powerful ideas that Western intellectuals had not known about, or thought did not exist. As he saw Khomeini push the limits of rationality and cross the Rubicon in declaring the creation of a theocracy that had shunned secular ideas from both the left and the right, Foucault wrote that this had the potential of creating new forms of creativity.
He excitedly declared that political spirituality had the potential of destroying Western philosophy and even engulf Western politics that had been under the sway of Enlightenment ideas for far too long. Foucault did not hide his enthusiasm of being at the epicentre of a new kind of revolution, which he claimed was unlike any other. To Foucault, the revolution was a passionate onslaught against the idea of modernity that had been imposed on spiritual societies such as Iran.
For Foucault, the audacity of challenging military might by anti-Shah protesters demonstrated a sacrificial disposition. The fact that the protesters and their leaders were unconcerned by how they would be judged by the democratic/capitalist West and the communist powers impressed Foucault, who understood the uprising as a completely new phenomenon, because it was taking place outside the context of established political and ideological norms. Foucault felt that it was entirely being driven by a political manifestation of spirituality that was inherent in Islam, or at least in how Shariati had defined Islam.
Although there is no evidence that Foucault ever studied the violence in Punjab during Partition, or commented on it, one can suggest that too was an expression of political spirituality. During the violence, Muslims in Punjab demonstrated a sacrificial disposition and thus the constant reminder by many in Pakistan of how our elders sacrificed their lives to make Pakistan. Secondly, the mob violence and lynchings in Punjab (by Muslims as well as Hindus and Sikhs) during Partition suggests that those involved thought little or nothing about how they will be judged by those pleading for a return to sanity. The British were clearly shaken. As Foucault might have put it, they were trying to understand the audacious nature of communal violence through European historiographies.
Indeed, in India, communal violence had become endemic ever since the late 1920s, but the violence that took place during Partition was unprecedented. Had Foucault studied it, he could have been a bit more measured in his understanding of the Iranian Revolution. But whereas the sacrificial acts of revolution driven by the emotionalism of religion did manage to give the Muslim League an important win in Punjab, in Pakistan it was quickly suppressed by the state.
What if it had been allowed to roll on? The result might have been a theocratic state such as one enacted in Iran. But the aftermath, too, would have have been similar. Iran became an Islamic Leviathan a totalitarian theocracy headed by clerics who, to eliminate all opposition, had to unleash a reign of terror through mass executions. By rejecting the two devils, the US/West and Soviet Union, and then getting embroiled in a war with Iraq and proxy wars with Saudi Arabia in Lebanon and Pakistan, Iran was left internationally isolated. And the internal carnage continued. In the late 1980s, Iran carried another round of mass executions and then instigated violence in other Muslim countries by accusing the West of promoting blasphemy against Islams holy personages (the Satanic Verses affair).
As reports of summary executions, political repression and the degradation of the status of women started pouring out after the revolutions victory, Foucault gradually stopped discussing Iran. After glorying it as a product of political spirituality that the West could not comprehend, he remained quiet about the atrocities that this kind of politics often triggers. He even remained quiet when homosexual people began being rounded up and executed. Foucault was homosexual himself, but one who was now back in Paris. He was vehemently criticised for remaining silent and even for being naive.
Political spirituality, therefore, was no different than the anti-religious impulse of the murderous Jacobins in revolutionary France or the atheistic disposition of the Khmer Rouge who killed millions of people in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. There was nothing unique about political spirituality, because it took the same trajectory that all violent upheavals often do.
A source of everyday power
Postmodernism had developed such a reactionary attitude towards how history was studied (especially of dialectical materialism) that Foucault completely undermined how most violent uprisings emerging from whatever ideology turn out. Violence becomes part of the polity. It becomes a source of everyday power.
This became a norm of sorts in Pakistan, mostly in Punjab. Islamist groups were suppressed during the first two-and-a-half decades of the country. They developed a seething hatred of the modernist elites who had tried to quash the religious sentiments unleashed during the 1946 election campaign in Punjab and by the communal violence that followed. The eruption of the 1953 anti-Ahmadiyya movement and then the more successful 1974 anti-Ahmadiyya movements in Punjab is when the suppressed sentiments once again came to the surface. In 1974, they were appeased by the state and government in the hope that they would weaken when given space in mainstream scheme of things. The opposite happened. The mainstream got radicalised.
This process accelerated when the state too began indulging in political spirituality. A paradox emerged. The more the state attempted to co-opt and monopolise the impulse and emotion of radical Islamism, the more radical society became because it saw the states acknowledgment and practice in this context as the disposition to adopt, mostly for the sake and attainment of everyday power.
Religious, sectarian and sub-sectarian violence increased manifold. But there was only so much that the state and non-Islamist politicians could appease, monopolise or usurp. If a space to express political spirituality was lost to the increasingly Islamising state, Islamist groups formulated newer and even more militant and violent expressions and spaces to push the boundaries of rationality to which the state was still bound.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) did this by exhibiting audacious levels of militancy, sending suicide bombers to explode in marketplaces, mosques and schools, and playing football with the heads of soldiers belonging to the Pakistani military that they had captured and then executed. In a 2018 essay for the Journal of Strategic Studies, the forensic psychologist Karl Umbrasas writes that terror outfits who kill indiscriminately can be categorised as apocalyptic groups. According to Umbrasas, such groups operate like apocalyptic cults and are not limited by socio-political and moral restraints.
Such groups are thus completely unrepentant about targeting even children. To them, the children, too, are part of the problem which these groups believe they are going to resolve through a cosmic war. The idea of a cosmic war constitutes an imagined battle between metaphysical forces: good and evil, God and Satan, Islam and kufr. Suicide bombers, imagining themselves as soldiers in this cosmic war, exhibit the sacrificial disposition of political spirituality that Foucault was so smitten with.
On the other hand, the TLPs audacity in this context can be found in the crass tone that their leaders unapologetically use in their speeches, and more disconcertingly, in the emotional fulfillment that its followers seem to get from brutalising alleged blasphemers.
A majority of mob lynchings and assassinations of those alleged to have committed blasphemy have taken place in Punjab. One wont be wrong to assume that Islamist violence here is the echo of the 1946-47 communal violence. It is an echo that has only gotten louder. The states response, ever since the late 1970s, lies in the mistaken belief that it can lessen the impact of this echo by monopolising it through certain appeasing policies, laws and rhetoric. This has only emboldened those the state wants to keep in check.
On the other hand, the continuing phenomenon of Islamist violence, especially mob lynchings in Pakistan (particularly in Punjab) hasnt been studied as deeply as it should. Such studies can be problematic if conducted by institutions of higher education in Pakistan. But many Pakistani academics operating in universities in Europe, and especially in the US, havent done a stellar job either.
If a space to express political spirituality was lost to the increasingly Islamising state, various Islamist groups simply formulated newer and even more militant and violent expressions and spaces to push the boundaries of rationality to which the state was still bound
The audacious and sacrificial 9/11 attacks in the US and the manner in which they impacted the Muslim diaspora in the West saw many Muslim academics in the US adopt postmodernist and post-secular ideas. This was in response to the criticism that Muslims began to attract after the attacks.
A most surreal scenario appeared in some of the top Anglo-US universities and think-tanks. As US troops invaded Afghanistan, and Pakistan became a frontline state aiding the US against militant Islamists, and as Westerners grappled to understand as to why a group of pious Muslims would ram planes into buildings full of ordinary people, a plethora of young Muslim academics were given space on campuses and in think-tanks to explain to the Americans what had transpired.
The surreal bit was that this space was provided despite the fact that the academics were wagging their fingers at secularism, liberalism and what they saw as enforced modernity. These were not Islamic modernists of yore who would try to demonstrate that things such as democracy and secularism were inherent in Islam. Nor were they insisting that radical Muslim states needed to be secularised. Instead, they were postmodernist caricatures, drenched in lifestyle liberalism and operating in Western institutions, but looking for a third way to define Muslims outside the Western secular contexts.
They claimed that contemporary cultural traditions and exhibitions of piety in Islamic societies had a rational base, but that this rationalism was according to a societal ethos that was different from the secular ethos of Western modernity. This fascinated their Western patrons but, at the same time, Islamists gleefully adopted such narratives as well.
For example, many US-based Pakistani feminist-academics criticised their Pakistan-based contemporaries for facilitating attacks on Muslim culture by insisting on promoting secular and modernist feminist narratives. Ironically, this is exactly what conservatives and Islamists in Pakistan accuse the liberals of doing. It can also lead to rationalising the ways in which Islamist violence is used, not only by apocalyptic groups, but also by common Muslims to exercise everyday power.
Posted: December 3, 2021 at 4:54 am
By James C. Sherlock
Americans are at one anothers throats over critical race theory in schools.
The debate is skewed and the rage fueled by completely different understandings of the terms of reference the actual objections to CRT in education.
Those objections have been misstated routinely by the legacy national newspapers and the education press. The misleading articles make it into most national newspapers these days with the collapse of regional reporting. And the misinformation they spread has made it into these pages.
Education Week, in a surprise change of pace for that journal, published on November 15 an opinion piece by Rick Hess titled Media Coverage of Critical Race Theory Misses the Mark.
Based upon a detailed study of a years worth of press reports, Hess finds that the national legacy media and the education press have largely and purposely ignored the core objections to CRT in schools.
Instead they have misled the public with a selective and progressive-friendly, but inaccurate definition of the terms of the debate.
Virtually every article reviewed reported that anti-CRT factions dont want the history of racism and slavery taught in schools. For the vast majority of those who protest CRT in schools, including Virginias governor-elect, that is not a consideration; they donotoppose teaching the history of racism and slavery, but they want it taughtaccuratelyandin context.
These same articles have been silent on race-based separation of kids into privileged and oppressed groups as a teaching tool and head-on attacks on equality, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. Those are in fact the crux of the anti-CRT objections.
These articles mis-define the terms of the debate to make opponents of CRT in schools look either unserious or racist or both.
They continue to build straw men in order to burn them down. This failure of journalism in support of woke dogma has poisoned the debate both in these pages and nationally.
Rick Hess is an education policy scholar at theAmerican Enterprise Institute(AEI). He opens with:
The postmortems of this months elections have reminded us once again of just how large a shadow critical race theory has cast over K-12 schooling this past yeareven though we still cant quite seem to agree on just what it means or whether its even taught in schools.
He studied 91 articles addressing CRT between Sept. 2020 and August 2021 published in TheNew York times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street JournalandUSA Todayas well as the education press (Education Week, The 74andChalkbeat).
Two-thirds of mainstream-press news accounts and more than 4 in 5 education press news stories mentioned the history of race or the way history is taught in schools. Most articles mentioned slavery. And the articles routinely asserted or implied that these kinds of issues are at the heart of the CRT debate, as when The New York Times reported that the CRT debate is really about how the legacies of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow still create an uneven playing field for Black people.
At the same time, news articles rarely mentioned CRTs intellectual foundations, despite the contentious claims on which it rests. As Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, two founders of the CRT movement, have explained in their book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,Critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. Yet, of the 91 articles examined, just two mentioned that CRT is skeptical of rational thought and only one said that CRT is skeptical of universal values or objective knowledge.
Put another way, then, one could read more than 95 percent of CRT coverage and never encounter the extraordinary claims at the heart of a raging national debate.
It turns out that the CRT fight isnt over whether to teach about slavery (in fact, Texass oft-maligned anti-CRT law mandates that schools teach a unit on slavery) so much as it is about a series of controversial practices that deserve careful scrutiny.
Unfortunately, that kind of examination hasnt been forthcoming.Indeed, its almost as if the media had set out to make the skeptics and critics look unserious by giving short shrift to their actual concerns about what CRT means in practice.
He has nailed it. We see all of that in the debate in these pages.
I strongly recommend to all both Mr. Hess article and hisdetailedreport, Medias Misleading Portrayal of the Fight over Critical Race Theory, on which it was based.
It would be useful if we were arguing over the same facts.
This article originally appeared on December 1, 2021, on baconsrebellion.com. Used by permission.