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Symposium: The Damnation of Ideas Part 2
Stone A. Washington - 2/19/2014
In this sequel and review of Symposium: The Damnation of Ideas created by my father, Professor Ellis Washington, we continue to delve ever deeper into the second half of the 10 books written by 10 controversial thinkers whose collective works historically have had a very negative impact on society and Western civilization; whose damnable ideas continues to affect us in numerous and horrible ways in modern times.
Conservative Principles and the Common Man
David Huntwork - 2/19/2014
The raging, twenty-four-seven political debates that virtually consume social media, cable stations and cheap YouTube views is mostly filled with cheap shots, one-liners, bumper sticker slogans, and the same tired, half-truth arguments.
The Quality of a Good Politician in a Democratic Society
Adewale Akande - 1/11/2014
My little Oxford dictionary defines politician as “person engaged or interested in politics” and politics as “science and art of government; political affairs or life or principles etc.” Politics consists of “social relations involving authority and power”. A politician is defined as one who is actively involved in politics or one who holds or seeks a political office.
When the Iron Curtain Fell
Ron Coody - 12/20/2013
Ten years before 9-11 the world witnessed an historic event of a different kind when the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union fell. Unlike 9-11, the fall of the oppressive Communist regime involved very little loss of life as millions of people filled the streets of Moscow, Warsaw, Berlin, Bucharest and other major cities in Eastern Europe. Within days of the uprisings once invincible tyrants either fled for their lives or met their doom. Young Germans in Berlin beat down the Berlin Wall with sledge hammers and crowbars, etching iconic images of freedom forever in the memories of anyone over thirty.
French Revolution and the triumph of liberal fascism
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 9/11/2013
“There are only two parties… the people and its enemies. We must exterminate those miserable villains who are eternally conspiring against the rights of man… [W]e must exterminate all our enemies.”
Wake Up: Reject the Two-Party Plutocracy
Joel S. Hirschhorn - 10/16/2012
Here we go again. Millions of Americans will soon vote for either the Republican or Democratic presidential candidate not because they deeply believe that he is absolutely the best possible president the country needs and can have. No, they will know that they are compromising and choosing the lesser of two evils, mainly because most people know that both major parties and their candidates stink. The lesser evil is still a loser.
Symposium - The damnation of ideas
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 1/26/2012
Socrates (470-399 B.C.) – a renowned Greek philosopher from Athens who taught Plato, and Plato taught Aristotle and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. Socrates used a method of teaching by asking leading questions. The Greeks called this form dialectic – starting from a thesis or question, then discussing ideas and moving back and forth between points of view to determine how well ideas stand up to critical review with the ultimate principle of the dialogue being Veritas – Truth.
When Conflict Resolution and Human Rights Clash: Can Both Prevail Together?
Nuredin Netabay - 1/20/2012
Conflict resolution and human rights are inseparable when it comes to the well-being of human communities. Both are underlying ingredients to bringing lasting peace. Neither can stand alone nor bring about tranquility of order. Human rights (justice) and conflict resolution (peace) are mutually inclusive. In principle, justice must not be sacrificed for peace, and the opposite is true. Simply, peace cannot operate without justice and vise versa.
Balancing or reconciling human rights and conflict resolution can present a major challenge. While it is essential to...
Occupy Revolution/Movement: Next Step Convergence
Joel S. Hirschhorn - 11/30/2011
There is a growing convergence of thinking about where the US Occupy movement should go as a next step to turning its values, concerns and commitments into changing what most Americans see as broken government under control of corporate interests. When it comes to political and social movements, history shows us that they usually fail not because they disappear, but rather because they become marginalized, unimportant despite a core group of committed people and groups.
The Feminine Mystique of Marxism
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 11/18/2011
Society had to be restricted so that women, who happen to be the people who give birth, could make a human, responsible choice whether or not—and when—to have children, and not be barred thereby from participating in society in their own right. This meant the right to birth control and safe abortion.
Japan and Russia: Lessons from each other
Sameer Jafri - 8/19/2011
Russia is about 40 times bigger than Japan in terms of area; still they both complement each other in many ways. Albeit following different systems of administration and governance, both Japan and Russia boast of lots of feats to their credit attained during the post-World War period. Still, there remains much for both of them to learn from each other.
Liberal fascism through the ages
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 8/5/2011
No matter how mad the plan is—Fraternité, the ‘New Soviet Man,’ the Master Race, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Building a New Society, ObamaCare—a [liberal] mob will believe it.
South Sudan vs. Kosovo: Secession, National Sovereignty, and Territorial Integrity
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/13/2011
In July 2011, South Sudan became a new state by seceding from Sudan, follwing decades of civil war and a referendum.
The Missing Dimension
Dr. Gary K. Busch - 7/13/2011
It has been a great source of interest to read the erudite and professional reports of think tanks, high-priced political and economic consultants and a host of governmental and non-governmental experts on the subject of the conflicting pressures in international relations without seeing a word about the activities of national and international labour organisations as key players in this process.
Joel S. Hirschhorn - 6/25/2011
With a kind of religious fervor, American conservatives love to talk about their love of capitalism, as if it has a singular definition and can always be counted on to serve public and national interests. The intelligent way to think about capitalism is that it can be of two kinds. The good kind is patriotic and stakeholder oriented, the bad kind is selfish and shareholder obsessed. The global economic downturn is strong evidence of the dominant second form of capitalism that has caused so much human suffering while it has served the rich and powerful.
Allan Bloom - In Memoriam
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 6/15/2011
We can’t avoid thinking. The thoughtless are always going to be the prisoners of other people’s thoughts. American intellectual life has given us an easy way to believe anything we want.
~ Allan Bloom (Time Magazine interview, Oct.1988)
I am kindred spirits with Allan Bloom, a great American philosopher, historian, academic and classicist. My worn copy of Bloom’s magnum opus The Closing of the American Mind has the inscription: “Border’s Books, Sept. 7, 1988”— literally days after I arrived at Harvard as a grad student during the same time as Barack Ob...
Richard Hofstadter—America’s iconic Marxist historian
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 6/1/2011
I join [the Communist Party USA] without enthusiasm, but with a sense of obligation.... My fundamental reason for joining is that I don't like capitalism and want to get rid of it.
Conditions for a Successful Relationship between Diaspora and State
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/15/2011
Conditions for a Successful Relationship between Diaspora and State
Of Revolts and Reforms
G. Murphy Donovan - 5/7/2011
“Revolution is a transfer of power; reform is the correction of abuses.” – Lytton
Global Peace Movement and Relevance of Gandhian View
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 4/13/2011
“Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.” –Martin Luther King Junior
Supporting Democracy in Middle East and North Africa Means Standing by the People
Nima Sharif - 3/11/2011
While, the Iranian post-election unrest back in 2009 did not come to a favourable conclusion, it had a considerable influence on people in North Africa and Middle East encouraging them to stand up for their desires of freedom.
Political Profile of Irrational Voters
Prof. Dr Anthony A Kila - 3/5/2011
There are roughly two categories of people involved in any electoral process. In the first category we have the very few that actively seek office and each one works to get as much vote as he or she can get; these are the candidates. By the way, the word candidate comes from candidātus (in Latin dressed in white) because in ancient Rome, those seeking office were dressed in white togas. The second category is made of the very many who have to vote for the very few in the first category, they are the voters and each voter has only one vote to manage.
Writing that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN
Alexander Maistrovoy - 2/17/2011
In the middle of the 15th century the waters of Lausanne lakes were flooded with bloodsuckers that afflicted the population of the city. To stop this misfortune, rich citizens asked for assistance from famous Heidelberg ecclesiastics. A criminal case was initiated against the contemptible creatures. Some of them were brought to court to listen to the judgment. They were demanded to leave the lakes within three days. Ecclesiastics performed spells and rituals after which bloodsuckers, as annals say, shamefully retired.
Patricide: How Young Leaders Mistreat Their Predecessors
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/14/2010
By definition, leaders are authority figures and, as such, stand in for one’s father, especially in patriarchal and traditionalist societies. Old-school psychoanalysts would tell you that such substitution is bound to provoke one’s latent Oedipal complex and proclivity for patricide, whether actual (in the form of an assassination) or symbolic (in the form of dissent and disdainful criticism). Young, emerging leaders more often than not treat their predecessors this way: as hated parent-figures. This is especially true when the new or young leader’s childhood has been marked by the traumas wrought on by an absent, or an abusive father.
Names of Collectives (Sets) versus Names of Individuals
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/9/2010
Individuals are members of classes or sets (hereinafter referred to as “collectives”). Names of collectives are fundamentally different to names of individuals:
Immature, Rogue, and Failed States
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/7/2010
An immature state is a polity whose elites are dysfunctional, venal, and narcissistic; whose economy is not viable, frequently dependent on handouts; and whose coherence is threatened by a lack of social consensus. Immature states typically lack political traditions, change agents, goal-oriented bureaucracies, and institutional memory. Consequently, the denizens of immature states are often xenophobic and insular.
Right vs Left
Ted Belman - 12/31/2009
The comments in the last few days attempted to distinguish “real leftism” from “fascist or faux leftism”.
This brings up the question of how do you define the former. Secondly, any definition must yield to history. What has been done in the name of the left to date? It should be judged by results.
Founding Fathers and The Character of States
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/11/2009
Even mega-states are typically founded by a small nucleus of pioneers, visionaries, and activists. The United States is a relatively recent example. The character of the collective of Founding Fathers has a profound effect on the nature of the polity that they create: nations spawned by warriors tend to be belligerent and to nurture and cherish military might throughout their history (e.g., Rome); When traders and businessman establish a country, it is likely to cultivate capitalistic values and thrive on commerce and shipping (e.g., Netherlands); The denizens of countries formed by lawyers are likely to be litigious.
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/11/2009
The tripling of the world's population in the last century or so fostered a rift between the majority of industrial nations (with the exception of the United States) and all the developing and less developing countries (the "third world"). The populace in places like Western Europe and Japan (and even Russia) is ageing and dwindling. These are middle-aged, sedate, cultures with a middle-class, mature outlook on life. They are mostly liberal, consensual, pragmatic, inert, and compassionate.
The Misanthrope's Manifesto
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/1/2009
The Misanthrope's Manifesto
1. The unbridled growth of human populations leads to:
I. Resource depletion;
II. Environmental negative externalities;
III. A surge in violence;
IV. Reactive xenophobia (owing to migration, both legal and illegal);
V. A general dumbing-down of culture (as the absolute number of the less than bright rises); and
VI. Ochlocracy (as the mob leverages democracy to its advantage and creates anarchy followed by populist authoritarianism).
2. The continued survival of the species demands that:
I. We match m...
Democracy as a universal value
Nickolas Hoog - 2/23/2009
Democracy while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
John Adams, the second President of the United States, and one of the founding fathers of our contemporary capitalist democracy.
Strong Men and Political Theatres - The "Being There" Syndrome
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/19/2009
"I came here to see a country, but what I find is a theater ... In appearances, everything happens as it does everywhere else. There is no difference except in the very foundation of things."
Liberal Fascism and the End of Freedom
Ted Belman - 11/26/2008
onah Goldberg recently wrote the book “Liberal Fascism”. He was interviewed by Glen Beck and the interviews can be seen on YouTube.. There are six parts to watch.
Charles Jalkh - 8/18/2008
At a time when planet Earth is facing its most cataclysmic ecological destruction, humanity remains marred in a dark age of conflicts and upheavals. Wars of identity, wars of liberation, wars to preserve “unions”, wars to “liberate” the oppressed and usher freedoms, wars to uphold the right of self determination and independence, religious wars, hegemonic wars, geopolitical wars, energy wars, on and on, the idiotic history of this retarded specie named humanity proceeds at a time when the destruction of this planet and our habitat is reaching a critical point of no-return.
Democracy and Prosperity Don't Always Go Together
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/8/2008
Many nations have chosen prosperity over democracy. As they see it, yes, they can't speak their mind or protest or criticize or even joke lest they be arrested or worse - but, in exchange for giving up these freedoms, they have safer streets, food on the table, they are fully employed, they receive ample health care and proper education, they save and spend to their hearts' content. In return for all these worldly goods, they forgo the right to vote once every four years. Many insist that they have struck a good bargain - not a Faustian one.
The Law of Global Development of human civilization - development of civilization as solution of an engineering problem
Oleg Kropivnitskiy - 7/6/2008
In the offered article, already the third one in succession, we will continue considering the theme on the Law of global development of human civilization. But this time this attempt will be made with applying of methods of the sciences that are exacter than the humanities are. Metal stamping is always more exact than sociology. We will address to the principles of engineering sciences where more exact concepts and the accurate criteria not admitting double interpretation operate.
Problems before Society and Nation and Obligation of Intelligentsia
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 6/8/2008
It is natural that problems crop up in day-to-day human dealings. This is not a matter of worry or anxiety. It is, however, necessary that problems must be solved per apt thought. Apt thought is necessary so as to avoid facing these problems soon again. It is expected in human world from a being. These problems again appear soon when a person solves them while keeping selfishness at top and does not prune them with apt thought. They are more serious when they appear a 2nd time. Resultantly, human life paces towards a difficult future. Others also come under its effect. A thing in relation...
When the media turns into evil
Sunita Paul - 6/8/2008
Media can play important role in up building a nation, while the same media, being influenced by evil forces or vested interest, could turn into devastating element for any nation. Take the example of Bangladesh's leading media group named Transcom Media, which owns a vernacular daily newspaper named Prothom Alo, an English language daily named The Daily Star, two periodicals named Shaptahik 2000 and Anandadhara. Recently the group has acquired ownership of an FM radio station named 'Aina Broadcasting Corporation' (ABC). The group is rather known as 'Daily Star Group' in Bangladesh, because of...
'The Black Swan'' and 'Capital Ideas'
Iqbal Latif - 4/3/2008
Two books two different view points. I have highlighted book reviews by great critics, back to back reading of the two books yield two different view points and highlight the two facets of the debate, and I find them very educational, I would like to share the gist of the critics review with the community, for detailed dialogue do go to the links and study the reviews in detail, the links are highlighted below as 1 and 2. The critics have helped understand and appreciate the two positions far much better.
Context, Background, Meaning
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/16/2008
I. The Meaning-Egg and the Context-chicken
Did the Laws of Nature precede Nature or were they created with it, in the Big Bang? In other words, did they provide Nature with the context in which it unfolded? Some, like Max Tegmark, an MIT cosmologist, go as far as to say that mathematics is not merely the language which we use to describe the Universe - it is the Universe itself. The world is an amalgam of mathematical structures, according to him. The context is the meaning is the context ad infinitum.
A Leftist Childhood Stories, Wrongly Named Persepolis
Marjane Satrapi - 3/4/2008
Persepolis was written and published in Paris in two volumes in 2000 and 2001. Therefore, the book can be called comic and caricaturing memoirs of Satrapi from her childhood limited to the Islamic revolution era and regime. In the separate sections, Satrapi tells the story of the major events of Islamic Revolution before and after its victory from a childish point of view heavily influenced by her parents’ political inclinations. The chosen name for book, Persepolis , is a clever advertisement choice and has nothing to do with the content of Satrapi’s work other than identifying itself with...
Major Dennis W. Lid - 3/3/2008
We have arrived! We have reached the point of no return. I first noticed it about twenty years ago while on an international airline flight from Tokyo to Chicago. The stewardess couldn’t make change for a ten dollar bill for the purchase of an item. She couldn’t find the correct change, so I wasn’t able to buy the item. That’s when the real problem dawned on me. Systems and the people working and living within those systems are beginning to break down and are becoming overwhelmed to the point of being unable to resolve the issues confronting them. This inability to solve the problem has numero...
Food Habit and the Earth
Bhuwan Thapaliya - 1/21/2008
People all over the world now are aware of various socio- environmental issues. Today, environmental problems transcend national boundaries, they are not regarded as a local issue but rather a global issue and awareness among them is increasing.
Which Sin Will Win in 2008?
Albert Brenner - 1/8/2008
Having promised humanity Universal Happiness once we've overcome our 'inevitable' dystopic future - global chaos caused by man-made global warming – Al Gore and his evilness index, the Carbon Footprint, must surely be the best candidate for Sin Detector of the Year 2008. No longer will we be able to simply board a plane to Tahiti for holiday because we will then, effectively, be 'sinning' because of the aircraft's CO2 emissions. And the more more of us sin, the more we'll 'make war against all existence'.
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/27/2007
Collectives - especially bureaucracies, such as for-profit universities, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), the army, and government - tend to behave passive-aggressively and to frustrate their constituencies. This misconduct is often aimed at releasing tensions and stress that the individuals comprising these organizations accumulate in their daily contact with members of the public.
The Politician As A Public Relations Case Study
Uche Nworah - 12/19/2007
Recently in a Public Relations class I teach, it was Marie’s turn to discuss contemporary public relations and marketing communications issues from around the globe. The students usually trawl various publications and websites in their search for the week’s breaking news in marketing communications, and have in the past found brandrepublic.com, mediaguardian.co.uk, campaign, pr week, and brandchannel.com very useful.
A Dialog on Elites Between By Sam Vaknin and Roberto Calvo Macias - Part V
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/11/2007
SV: In my view you use some weak criteria when you mention haughtiness. Let me explain myself. Either you define elite as "any group of people in power" (you have rejected this definition when I proposed it earlier) - or you define it as "a group of WORTHY people, who exercise power to improve the present and the future of humanity (in accordance with their own mores and values, of course)". The Nazi SS and the Stalinist Bolsheviks qualify as elites under the first definition - but NOT under the second. The SS were haughty, contemptuous, convinced of their hereditary (Aryan) destiny to lead an...
A Dialog on Elites Between By Sam Vaknin and Roberto Calvo Macias - Part IV
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/11/2007
SV: Mankind spent the last 300 years trying to refute these two hidden assumptions. Liberal philosophers disputed the purported identifiable talent for political leadership. Think about people like Truman in the USA or Hitler until 1919. Could you have guessed that they will become great leaders? Has a quality of "leadership" been identifiable in them? What about the adolescent Einstein (later, a scientific leader)?
A Dialog on Elites Between By Sam Vaknin and Roberto Calvo Macias Between By Sam Vaknin and Roberto Calvo Macias - Part III
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/11/2007
SV: I think that yours is an outdated definition of elite. For instance: in the USA, the White folks constitute the elite. They are better educated, richer and so on. But, of course, they far outnumber the blacks. The case was even clearer during the apartheid days. It is wrong to confuse "elite" and "minority". An elite is a group which is coherent and cohesive, on the one hand and which controls the bulk of the resources of the nation (or the planet, or any other frame of reference), on the other hand. If the majority has a number of common denominators sufficient to identify it as a group -...
A Dialog on Elites Between By Sam Vaknin and Roberto Calvo Macias - Part I
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/11/2007
"No bird soars too high, if it soars with its own wings"
Proverbs of Hell
Elite. A terrible world. A select minority, that assumes leadership. All elites have been hated in all epochs, or so claimed "well -informed historians".
A Dialog on Elites Between By Sam Vaknin and Roberto Calvo Macias - Part II
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/11/2007
This is always the first phase of noblesse. All ancient lineages start as robbers and sackers. Actual hackers do the same. They steal what they need.
The Path of Democracy Gimmick
Prakash Bom - 11/8/2007
The diplomacy based on the policy 'the path of democracy is different for the different society' advocated by the feudal lords, religious fundamentalists and dictators of the traditionally religious nations had once convinced the most of the democratic nations is now turning into a mere publicity stunt. These nations had learned such notion from the politics of the twentieth century's totalitarian regimes. South Asian nations such as Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Pakistan and Maldives are the living example of such view and practice that has succeeded to seek international supports for their autocratic rulers.
Why Real Democracies Succeed
Prof. Barry Rubin - 10/11/2007
Working on new material for the seventh edition of the Israel-Arab Reader, a documentary work that I edit along with Walter Laqueur, reminds me that there is nothing like examining old material as a way to gain new insights.
Threat To Democracy
Kamala Sarup - 9/13/2007
In the U.S. in the 19th century, democracy worked to the excessive advantage of a privileged group, but gradually it was reformed so that the people at the bottom gained some share in wealth. The key to the reform of democracy is the education of the masses and a anti poverty program. If the education is allowed to teach its investigative reports and those of its academics to show what is actually happening and if the population is literate enough, then corrupt legislators will be found out and removed in the following elections.
Terror and Peace
Ajay Nath - 9/11/2007
The American President's recent statement on terrorism was the strongest so far against the enemies of freedom and human civilization. He just does not believe in any form of compromise. Terrorists are terrorists and they must be dealt with severely, wherever they are, whoever they are. Their atrocities and barbaric display of Pol Pot-like behaviour are beyond human imagination and tolerance. The British Prime Minister has come down equally heavily on terrorists. The British government is, in fact, coming out with a special law on terrorism that empowers it even to expel suspected terrorists f...
Gandhi and Peace Education
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 9/7/2007
Gandhism, in quite simple and clear words, is an amalgam of Mahatma Gandhi’s views and practices. In other words, it consists of the ideas which Mahatma Gandhi put before the world, and side by side, to the maximum possible extent, treated his individual life in accordance with these ideas. Those who hold merely his theory to be the Gandhism, they are not correct, because simply his theory cannot be accepted as Gandhism.
Dynamics Of Religious Fundamentalist Revival
Jonathan Spyer, Ph.D. - 8/26/2007
In a recent article in the British Guardian newspaper, Ed Husain, a former member of the radical Islamist Hizb ut Tahrir organization [which aims to bring about a worldwide Muslim state], sought to draw a parallel between Zionism and radical Islam. The movements were, Husain claimed, "both political perversions of ancient Abrahamic faiths of Judaism and Islam." Husain's simplistic claim was made possible by his near-total lack of knowledge of Zionism, the issue of Jewish peoplehood, the vexed issue of secular and religious Jewish identity, and so on. However, the claim is an interesting one, a...
Philosophy of Hiinayaana Buddhism In Practice Today
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 8/26/2007
To make human life worthy, prosperous and peaceful, different philosophies and thoughts have been propounded through the ages, of which Buddhism occupies a prominent place. It is well evident from the fact that approximately five hundred million people all over the world carry out their day-to-day activities on the basis of Buddhist doctrines. The Buddhist Religious-Community has fourth place amongst the major religious-communities of the world.
The Politics And Philosophy Of Harry Potter
Prof. Barry Rubin - 8/25/2007
Since the Harry Potter series is so wildly and universally popular it is surprising that there has not been more examination of its sociology and cultural politics. It is rather out of step with the unfortunate times through which we are now passing. All the better for Harry Potter and his friends; all the worse for us.
Non-Violence: A Natural, Dynamic Value
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 8/20/2007
Non-violence, that is Ahimsa, is not a rough thing, nor is it an inactive thought or a value established by man. Non-violence is a natural, dynamic, active or live value. Because of its permanent existence in human nature, its being dynamic and active non-violence is an essential condition for existence, development and the ultimate goal, and for this very reason it is the first and absolutely necessary base of civilization.
Divining the Future
Angelique van Engelen - 8/12/2007
To some degree it is possible to divine the future. Professional riskmanagers’ calculations involving probability and chance are more or less becoming standard part of almost any modern theory.
Environmentalism and Post-modernism as Ideas of Progress
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/6/2007
By definition, most reactionary ideas of progress hark back to an often illusory past, either distant or recent. There, in the mists of time, the proponents of these social movements search for answers and remedies to the perceived ills of their present. These contemporary deficiencies and faults are presented as the inevitable outcomes of decadent modernity. By using a romanticized past cast as ideal, perfect, and unblemished to heal a dystopian and corrupt present, these thinkers, artists, and activists seek to bring about a utopian and revitalized future.
Renaissance and Nazism as Ideas of Progress
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/5/2007
The Renaissance ("rebirth" c. 1348-1648) evolved around a modernist and, therefore, reactionary idea of progress. This statement is not as nonsensical as it sounds. As Roger Griffin observed in his essay "Springtime for Hitler" (The New Humanist, Volume 122 Issue 4 July/August 2007):
A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell
Stephen W. Browne - 7/29/2007
Dr. Thomas Sowell is one of those authors whose laundry lists I'd read. Reading A Conflict of Visions was one of the "Ah-ha!" moments of my life. Sowell is an economist, newspaper columnist and Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a prolific writer on economics, public policy, history, culture and the politics of race. His opinions are often controversial and he has strong detractors and supporters. Agree or disagree, he is an opinion leader of considerable influence in our society today.
Leiken's Willing Audience: Response To Elliott Aron Green
Prof. Barry Rubin - 7/16/2007
Barry, I think that a greater problem is that Leiken was invited to address an audience at the State Dept on the desirability of making nice with Hassan al-Banna's spiritual offspring. How do we explain the State Dept's willingness to be addressed on such a serious subject, as you point out, by someone who is an ignoramus on that topic, which you also point out?
Dear Mr. Green: Ignorant people chattering on about the Middle East and being taken seriously is, alas, not at all uncommon. There seems to be a feeling that reading some newspapers and talking to a few people--perhaps a two-week trip to the region- -is sufficient to grasp all the intricacies of the issues.
Radical Chic Is In Style This Year
Stephen W. Browne - 7/13/2007
Attorney Lynne Stewart got 28 months for relaying instructions from her client, the "Blind Sheik" to his followers. That's a lot less than corporate executives routinely get for financial malfeasance. And it's a hell of a lot less than she'd have gotten if her client had been merely a mobster rather than a terrorist.
Bob Leiken Folly
Prof. Barry Rubin - 6/30/2007
Bob Leiken, phony Islam expert, has written a poem about me which he is sending around. For those who don’t know, Leiken is a Latin American expert turned immigration expert turned Islamism expert. He hasn’t read the sources and knows nothing about the subject, of course. He makes the most basic errors. I wrote a satire making fun of him. You can also read my article on Muslim Brotherhoods at http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2007/issue2/jv11no2a8.html--which Leiken himself read and disregarded before launching himself on his latest career as the Muslim Brotherhood's apologist. Lenin called such people "useful idiots."
The Cult of Science and Fire-Worship
Dimitri Kolb - 5/17/2007
For those who lived under communist rule, like the author of this piece, it is obvious that science played the central role in their ideology. Starting form Marx, communists claimed that their ideology was based completely on the rational scientific calculation, as opposed to traditional faith. They claimed that science can explain not only material world, but also the world of ideas and social behavior. That explains why communists always paid great attention to economics and sociology. The failure of those pseudo-scientific disciplines cold itself be a topic for a paper. However, here I only discuss one interesting feature of the scientific cult - its close relation to fire-worship.
Effects of Communism on Public Preferences
Matthew Davis - 5/11/2007
After being reunited with West Germany, most East Germans have retained a decidedly Communist view of what the government should do in terms of providing a social safety net and redistributing wealth from rich to poor. While the common view in the West is that most Europeans who lived under Communism were happy to trade state-run economies for free-market capitalism, it turns out that their Marxist indoctrination may have more staying power than previously thought. In Goodbye Lenin (or Not?): The Effects of Communism on People's Preference (NBER Working Paper No. 11700), co-authors Alberto Ale...
Chakma-Hajong Refugees and Their Rights
Chunnu Prasad - 4/19/2007
The problem of Chakma and Hajong refugees are not very new in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is also true that the migration is a human phenomenon and it has to accept by all the human beings throughout the universe. The problem of refugee in this universe is one of the most painful activities which happened particularly after the Second World War. Nobody wants in this universe to recognize him or her as refugee or synonym to this. The Chakma and Hajong refugees’ problem is one of the most critical but contemporary problem in the region which created lots of tension between the people who ...
Chronicle Of A New Wave Of Narrow-mindedness and Fanaticism
Iqbal Latif - 4/19/2007
During the fall of Rome there were attacks made at different times from different places all around the border of ancient Rome. There were many barbarian invaders such as the Vandals, the Visigoths, and the Huns. They settled in many different places along the border. The Roman way of life collapsed quickly. The Western Roman Empire was invaded by barbarians and then it collapsed.
The Nature of Reality - Part VII
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/5/2007
An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
What is the essence of the Turing Test that you so often refer to? It is about the ultimate or potential indistinguishability of reality from its imitation or simulation. If "artificial" intelligence were to become indistinguishable from "real" or "natural" intelligence than it would be as "real" and "natural" as the original. Indeed, the death of the original in an age of industrial replication has been announced a long time ago. Which of the the Andy Warhol "Marilyn"s is the original and which are the copies...
The Nature of Reality - Part VI
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/4/2007
An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
I wish I could hide behind established physics. Unfortunately, the ideas presented in my previous letter to you are all mine and borrowed from my Ph.D. thesis. They have nothing to do with current trends in physics. But I seemed to have been too vague or obscure because I failed to convey to you my message. I wanted to make you privy to the mental process that led me to the conclusion that time is NOt a simulation or a language element but an INTERACTION between bodies, probably carried by a particle. As such...
The Nature of Reality - Part V
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/3/2007
An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
As letters go, I will try and make this one my last excursion into theory (though I cannot promise not to pepper my next ones with more). I will deal with fractals in the "practical" group of letters. Today I will write to you about time.
Refugees and Human Rights
Chunnu Prasad - 4/2/2007
In the years after the Second World War, the world has witnessed a large number of political upheavals in many countries. The European and Third world countries are the most effected. Reason for such disturbances range from simple political rivalry, regional conflicts of a country, ethnic issues and unequal distribution of natural resources and development projects to simple persecution of people of minorities by one country to those of another due to racial discrimination. All these caused to create refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s). Because of fear of international repe...
The Nature of Reality - Part IV
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/2/2007
Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
Questions as all-encompassing as the ones you presented in your last letter call for a period of gestation. The same Hofstadter reviled by you posed the following question:
The Nature of Reality - Part III
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/24/2007
An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
I learned to like your vehement and passionate responses. To my mind, they are the hallmarks of a true intellectual. To me, the impassioned intellectual is an oxymoron. Curiosity is such an urgent drive, truth such a pressing need that the true intellectual is impatient which what is manifestly false and threatens to drive him off course.
The Nature of Reality - Part II
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/23/2007
An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
As usual, your letter is a feast of erudition disguised as ignorance dipped in provocation. I ask you to trust me. That is, to close your eyes and to follow me, holding my virtual hand. In this letter, I will pose two questions. On first blush, they may seem all but irrelevant. They may provoke your ire. You may be tempted to end our epistolary (ad)venture here and now. But, please don't. A clear answer to either of them - or even the attempt to obtain such an answer- will carry us a long way into the territory we...
The Nature of Reality - Part I
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/22/2007
An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
My dear Roberto,
I suggest the following map of the terrain we are going to explore together. It is by no means terra incognita. It has been visited before. But a long time has passed and new features have emerged. In short: it should, definitely, be revisited. As for myself, I prefer to be a cartographer and a taxonomist rather than a philosopher. I feel awed and midgeted by the giants in this territory, chilled to the bones by Kant's shadow and by strangled by Descartes' inescapable logic. No, I prefer to be the casual tourist.
Parsimony – The Fourth Substance
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/14/2007
Occasionalism is a variation upon Cartesian metaphysics. The latter is the most notorious case of dualism (mind and body, for instance). The mind is a "mental substance". The body – a "material substance". What permits the complex interactions which happen between these two disparate "substances"? The "unextended mind" and the "extended body" surely cannot interact without a mediating agency, God. The appearance is that of direct interaction but this is an illusion maintained by Him. He moves the body when the mind is willing and places ideas in the mind when the body comes across other bodies...
The Politics of Forgiveness and Democratization
Anssi Kullberg - 3/5/2007
The consequences of human action are both difficult to predict and impossible to reverse. This causes many problems for people to solve since human language records social memory that attaches actions into the identities of individuals, families, generations and societies. At the same time man seeks justice and morals in his actions, which would be improbable unless there is an idea that actions somehow result in “what one deserves”, whether in earthly or at least in the transcendental life. Good acts are those that produce good. Evil acts are those that result in evil. The existence of justice is a necessity for any laws and rules to have a normative effect.
Capitalism Triumphs in Asia
Bhuwan Thapaliya - 12/20/2006
Karl Marx, the 19th century German political philosopher, predicted that the advanced capitalist societies would together progress toward communism. But the great man, had he been alive today, would have to his utmost dismay, seen the trend going just the opposite way instead.
The Dance of Jael
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/15/2006
"Envy is forever looking upwards. It does not look sideways. In 'Facial Justice' Hartley (1960) describes a life after a catastrophic war. A Dictator has decreed that envy is so destructive that it has to be eliminated. The citizens are coerced to be as alike each other as possible. The worst crime is not envy itself but to excite envy. 'Equality and Envy - the two E's were...the positive and negative poles on which the New State rotated '(p.12). In order to exterminate envy everything that was enviable has been destroyed. Of course that in itself is the very essence of envy. Neither envy nor ...
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/7/2006
Knives and forks are objects external to us. They have an objective - or at least an intersubjective - existence. Presumably, they will be there even if no one watches or uses them ever again. We can safely call them "Objective Entities".
Metaphors of the Mind
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/1/2006
The brain (and, by implication, the mind) have been compared to the latest technological innovation in every generation. The computer metaphor is now in vogue. Computer hardware metaphors were replaced by software metaphors and, lately, by (neuronal) network metaphors.
Man and His Endangered Home: Our pursuit of growth and luxury may leave us homeless
Bo Ekman - 9/29/2006
In their single-minded pursuit of economic growth and wealth, human beings who think like a millionaire could be collectively working themselves out of a home. Human activities systematically degrade the water, air and other surroundings that sustain life. The problem is not with pending shortages of resources, argues systems analyst and philanthropist Bo Ekman, but a rapidly growing population and new generations that expect ever higher standards of living, with more products and space. Climate change al...
Defense Mechanisms in Politics - Part III
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/10/2006
Projection is unconscious. People are rarely aware that they are projecting onto others their own ego-dystonic and unpleasant characteristics and feelings. But, sometimes, the projected content is retained in the subject's awareness. This creates a conflict. On the one hand, the patient cannot admit that the emotions, traits, reactions, and behaviors that he so condemns in others are really his. On the other hand, he can't help but being self-aware. He fails to erase from his consciousness the painful realization that he is merely projecting.
Defense Mechanisms in Politics - Part II
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/9/2006
Everyone fantasizes now and then. It helps to fend off the dreariness and drabness of everyday life and to plan for an uncertain future. But when fantasy becomes a central feature of grappling with conflict, it is pathological. Seeking gratification - the satisfaction of drives or desires - mainly by fantasizing is an unhealthy defense. Narcissists, for instance, often indulge in grandiose fantasies which are incommensurate with their accomplishments and abilities. Such fantasy life retards personal growth and development because it substitutes for true coping.
Defense Mechanisms in Politics - Part I
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/8/2006
According to Freud and his followers, our psyche is a battlefield between instinctual urges and drives (the id), the constraints imposed by reality on the gratification of these impulses (the ego), and the norms of society (the superego). This constant infighting generates what Freud called "neurotic anxiety" (fear of losing control) and "moral anxiety" (guilt and shame).
The Exclusionary Conscience
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/8/2006
The self-identity of most nation-states is exclusionary and oppositional: to generate solidarity, a sense of shared community, and consensus, an ill-defined "we" is unfavorably contrasted with a fuzzy "they". While hate speech has been largely outlawed the world over, these often counterfactual dichotomies between "us" and "them" still reign supreme.
The Chinese Room Revisited
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/14/2006
Whole forests have been wasted in the effort to refute the Chinese Room Thought Experiment proposed by Searle in 1980 and refined (really derived from axioms) in 1990. The experiment envisages a room in which an English speaker sits, equipped with a book of instructions in English. Through one window messages in Chinese are passed on to him (in the original experiment, two types of messages). He is supposed to follow the instructions and correlate the messages received with other pieces of paper, already in the room, also in Chinese. This collage he passes on to the outside through yet another...
Live and Let Live, Nature's Message
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/29/2006
Both now-discarded Lamarckism (the supposed inheritance of acquired characteristics) and Evolution Theory postulate that function determines form. Natural selection rewards those forms best suited to carry out the function of survival ("survival of the fittest") in each and every habitat (through the mechanism of adaptive radiation).
Surpassing Man - Part VIII
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/27/2006
I liked your prognosis, it is quite correct :-). By the way, I do not know if I share Aurobindo's ideas. I just intended to demonstrate how different "surpassings" can be seen from different side of world. Yours is that of the West, technological, utopic, fantastic and titanic.
Surpassing Man - Part IX
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/27/2006
Your last letter is so condensed, so finely drawn, that I have almost nothing to say. That's the way I see the short-term future. All your prognoses, either pertaining to genetics, or to robots and culture seem to be quite correct. They are - if we can put it this way - the most probable ones. Just several brief notes addressed to the individual.
Surpassing Man - Part VII
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/26/2006
Here is a more prosaic vision, devoid of spirits and Divine Beings - but, I think, a more natural progression from our current point of departure.
Surpassing Man - Part VI
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/25/2006
I almost agree with your arguments. The trouble lies, as ever, in that we are both the observer and the observed. This, at least, is what defines "humans". This strange property of observing and the communication of our observations to others - language- is what sets us apart.
Surpassing Man - Part V
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/24/2006
Long time no heard. I was busy publishing my latest graphomania ("After the Rain - How the West Lost the East").
The big flaw in the arguments of philosopher-anthropolgists (from Montaigne to Nietzsche) - whether prescriptive or descriptive - is that they didn't seem to have asked themselves what was it that they were studying. I am not referring to a phenomenology of humans (their physiology, their social organization, their behavioural codes). There is a veritable mountain ridge of material composed based on evidence collected from observations of homo sapiens. But what IS homo sapiens? WHAT is being observed?
Surpassing Man - Part IV
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/23/2006
I enjoyed your letter. As far as I know your summary of Nietsche's philosophy is the best one I've seen - it should be taught is such way in high schools. I would like to add just a small commentary. There can be no question that the Nazis would have been a real object of Nietzsche's hate (Himmler, with his bourguoise attitued is the best example) . Moreover, I am sure that had Nietzsche lived in the 1930s, he would have written some kind of choleric evangelium to take the Nazis out of the world. The Nazis were the summary of all that Nietzsche hated the most: plebeian manners, thei...
Surpassing Man - Part III
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/21/2006
In your opening gambit you most definitely asked the pertinent question - to ask what will replace Man is to ask WHAT is Man. There is an interesting infinite regression here, a recursiveness which is the result of a unique trait of intelligence: introspection. Humans are BOTH the subject of the definition and those defining. It is Man who defines Man. Changing the definition of Man will inevitably change the way Man is defined and the resulting definition of Man. So, it is a conceptual perpetuum mobile, Munchausen pulling himself by his own hair, bootstrapping. With this caveat in mind, we can revert to history.
Surpassing Man - Part II
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/19/2006
This letter is an opening salvo. I will save the heavy amunition (mainly Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Fichte, Hegel, Weber, others) to later.
Mankind is at an unprecedented technological crossroads. The confluence of telecommunications, mass transport, global computer networks and the mass media is unique in the annals of human ingenuity. That Maknind is about to be transformed is beyond dispute. The question is: "What will succeed Man, what will follow humanity?". Is it merely a matter of an adaptive reaction in the form of a new culture (as I have suggested in our previous dia...
Surpassing Man - Part I - An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/11/2006
I have not been asked, as I should have been asked, what the name Zarathustra means in precisely my mouth, in the mouth of the first immoralist: for what constitutes the tremendous uniqueness of that Persian in history is precisely the opposite of this. Zarathustra was the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the actual wheel in the working of things: the translation of morality into the realm of metaphysics, as force, cause, end-in-itself, is his work. But this question is itself at bottom its own answer. Zarathustra created this most fateful of errors, morality: consequently he...
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part XII
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/10/2006
I am not worried at all about being in full agreement with you - it is you who should be worried indeed.
But, I think we are not dealing with the same question. I am presenting this question in absolute terms. Though all those considerations about cultures are interesting indeed, it is not my intention at all to come with another page of the "futurology of technology" or to try to make a new version of techno-waves, futures shocks and versions of culture wars of Toffler's, Huntington's and all the rest (E. J. said enough in 1931). Concerning this special issue I will elaborate i...
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part XI
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/8/2006
A culture can be described by using a few axes:
Distinguishing versus Consuming Cultures
Some cultures give weight and presence (though not necessarily equal) to each of their constituent elements (the individual and social structures). Each such element is idiosyncratic and unique. Such cultures would accentuate attention to details, private enterprise, initiative, innovation, entrepreneurship, inventiveness, youth, status symbols, consumption, money, creativity, art, science and technology.
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part X
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/6/2006
I must say that your "apparent" disgressions on linguistic problems and concerning life-after-death are no disgression at all but very pertinent questions (all my analyses are, in fact, based solely upon life and death). These two are, in my opinion, the only pair of words that remain clear. Indeed, your disgression on linguistics provides us with a beautiful example of the contradictions and tensions implied in the couplet "identity and velocity". It would seem that the Law (as does Art) has its own rules of "tempo" and "weight". Indeed, your digression offers a great example of what ...
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part IX
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/5/2006
Now we can try to define "definition" itself:
"Definition" – A statement which captures the meaning, the use, the function and the essence (the identity) of a term or a concept. Let us go one level higher. Let us define ABSENCE rather than PRESENCE, nothing rather than something, inaction rather than action. In other words, let us try to define death.
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part VIII
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/4/2006
I fully share your view that both the Law and Technology (as I told you, I regard them as two manifestations of one and the same thing) - are concerned with the preservation and propagation of identity.
The Law (religious and secular alike) is chiefly concerned with the protection of what IS, of the prevailing social and economic order, with the maintenance of social structure and of social function (or, at the least, of their appearance). Put differently, the Law - a mechanism of social control - is designed mainly to preserve and conserve an ideal of structural immutability coupled with f...
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part VII
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/3/2006
It is always my intention to offer our readers not only speculative ideas but also "pragmatic" lessons. But before descending to terrestrial considerations, I would like to briefly comment on some of your, as usual, interesting opinions.
I will maintain your order:
Alphabet and ideograms:
You talk about elites losing power, this is, to me, a prejudice. whether with ideograms, or with alphabet there will always be elites.
Machines and secret alphabet:
This is the nightmare of post modern man. The machine as dictator. To me machines are no...
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part VI
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/2/2006
Or consider Turing's universal computers (machines):
In 1936 an American (Alonzo Church) and a Briton (Alan M. Turing) published independently (as is often the coincidence in science) the basics of a new branch in Mathematics (and logic): computability or recursive functions (later to be developed into Automata Theory).
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part V
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/1/2006
Informal law system will win, there is no question in mind. Not only because they constitute a better organizational model but because they are more adept at processing the raw material of the next millennium, information. Thus, they are better positioned to guarantee the survival of our race.
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part IV
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/24/2006
It is always such a gift to receive your letters. They provoke in me uncontrollable floods of thoughts which I can rarely capture by putting pen to paper (yes, I blush in admitting to such retro devices...
The Technology of Law and The Law of Technology - Part III
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/23/2006
Fortunately recovered from my technological injuries (computer´s malaise) and its blind laws and we can go on with our dialogue.
By the way, I have to say that interactive work is one of the best achievements of technology. Your exposition of "the quasi-identity of law and technology" cleared a blind spot in my vision. I was so focused on the contradictions that I couldn't see the similarities. And so it is. This is evident in warfare, for instance, where each new weapon (the Huns' step and powder are great examples) induces new rules of war (where is the Clausewitz of the nuclear chessboard?!
The Secret Art of Power - Part VII
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/18/2006
Well, nothing more to add to the letter. Your letter has shown us our modern world and put us just on the line to confront the great questions (by the way, your comment on the PlayStation is very perspicacious. You should see the film "eXistenZ" (directed by David Cronenberg) which explores the all-encompassing coupling (or should we better say marriage) between humans and machines (through the interfaces you have mentioned in your former letters: organic machines/mechanic organisms), but we will get back to this.
The Secret Art of Power - Part VI
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/17/2006
It far from my intention to deny the possibilities of non-linear systems and all that. Multiplicity of info-lines, a wide variety of articulations, the velocity of communication... all those things are good news (I have studied them in my book Chaos AD, using complexity and chaos theories). Interconnectedness and mixing are always good things (let's have in mind Brazilian women:-)
The Secret Art of Power - Part V
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/11/2006
Allow me to deviate from my usual behaviour by extensively quoting an article published in "The Economist" dated October 30th, 1999. The article is titled "Politics and Silicone Valley - Liberty.com":
The Secret Art of Power - Part IV
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/10/2006
Your letter broaches some of the great problems of the (post)-modern world. Though I am not sure whether your conclusions are right. My lack of knowledge of economics hinders my argumentation, but, I would like you to explain to our readers (and to me) the relationship between Market and State. It seems that you consider the market to be FREE of the state. But, is it not precisely the state which guarantees that your copyright will be respected? Who is going to close the factory which is copying your products without your permission? You, perhaps? Your private police?:-). Market is...
The Secret Art of Power - Part III
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/8/2006
Codes can be classified according to any number of taxonomies. But I would like to concentrate in this letter on the spatial versus the temporal cyphers.
The Secret Art of Power - Part II
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/7/2006
I enjoyed your letter greatly. You finally provided me with an insight as to why we feel so ambivalent about technology. But in this letter I would like to attempt a phenomenology of knowledge and the power it exercises or is associated with.
The Secret Art of Power - Part I
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/4/2006
An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".
I liked the epistolary format. If you agree - shall we continue at least one more dialogue this way? I want to suggest the title (heavily borrowed from you): THE SECRET ART OF POWER. What sayeth you?
Observing the Apocalypse
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/6/2006
I. The New Politics
Politics, in all its forms, is bankrupt. The notion that we can safely and successfully hand over the management of our daily lives and the setting of priorities to a political class or elite is thoroughly discredited. Politicians cannot be trusted, regardless of the system in which they operate. No set of constraints, checks, and balances, is proved to work and mitigate their unconscionable acts and the pernicious effects these have on our welfare and longevity.
Who Are The Dumbest People in the World?
Naseem Javed - 1/22/2006
The corporate teams that are overdependent on research averages often see their marketing fail at a spectacular rate. Their new product introductions seem caught in a revolving door -- what's in and what's out based on "researched" hypotheses that have little to do with actual market behavior.
The Importance of Human Life
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/9/2005
The preservation of human life is the ultimate value, a pillar of ethics and the foundation of all morality. This held true in most cultures and societies throughout history.
The Complexity of Simplicity
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/7/2005
"Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you imagine."
Life, Politics and The Madness of Playing Games
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/10/2005
If a lone, unkempt, person, standing on a soapbox were to say that he should become the Prime Minister, he would have been diagnosed by a passing psychiatrist as suffering from this or that mental disturbance. But were the same psychiatrist to frequent the same spot and see a crowd of millions saluting the same lonely, shabby figure - what would have his diagnosis been? Surely, different (perhaps of a more political hue).
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/21/2005
Humans made monsters by inhuman treatment abound in literature. In "The Man Who Laughs", published in 1869, the French author, Victor Hugo (1802-1885), described the comprachicos thus:
The Discovery of Personal Hygiene
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/15/2005
Personal hygiene was rediscovered only in the late 19th century, having been popular in ancient Greece and Rome almost two thousand years before.
Traumas as Social Interactions
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/7/2005
We react to serious mishaps, life altering setbacks, disasters, abuse, and death by going through the phases of grieving. Traumas are the complex outcomes of psychodynamic and biochemical processes. But the particulars of traumas depend heavily on the interaction between the victim and his social milieu.
On Earthquakes and Tsunamis
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/1/2005
Tsunami - a seismic sea wave - means in Japanese "harbor-wave". It is also misleadingly called "tidal wave". It is an ocean wave caused by an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 on the Richter scale (or greater) that occurs less than 50 kilometers beneath the seafloor. Tsunamis can also be caused by volcanic eruptions and by landslides.
Suicide - The Murder of Oneself
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/29/2005
Those who believe in the finality of death (i.e., that there is no after-life) – they are the ones who advocate suicide and regard it as a matter of personal choice. On the other hand, those who firmly believe in some form of existence after corporeal death – they condemn suicide and judge it to be a major sin. Yet, rationally, the situation should have been reversed: it should have been easier for someone who believed in continuity after death to terminate this phase of existence on the way to the next. Those who faced void, finality, non-existence, vanishing – should have been greatly deterr...
The Metaphorically Correct Artist and other Romanticist Mutations
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/13/2005
Every type of human activity has a malignant equivalent. The pursuit of happiness, the accumulation of wealth, the exercise of power, the love of one's self are all tools in the struggle to survive and, as such, are commendable. They do, however, have malignant counterparts: pursuing pleasures (hedonism), greed and avarice as manifested in criminal activities, murderous authoritarian regimes and narcissism.
The Happiness of Others
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/19/2005
Is there any necessary connection between our actions and the happiness of others? Disregarding for a moment the murkiness of the definitions of "actions" in philosophical literature - two types of answers were hitherto provided.
The Last Family
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/17/2005
There is no word for it in Russian. Platon Karatayev, the typical "Russian soul" in Tolstoy's "War and Peace", extolls, for pages at a time, the virtues of communality and disparages the individual - this otherwise useless part of the greater whole. In Macedonia the words "private" or "privacy" pertain to matters economic. The word "intimacy" is used instead to designate the state of being free of prying, intrusive eyes and acts of meddling. Throughout Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the rise of "individualism" did not give birth to its corollary: "privacy". After decades (and, in most cases, centuries) of cramped, multi-generational shared accommodation, it is no wonder.
The Matrix Revisited
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/15/2005
It is easy to confuse the concepts of "virtual reality" and a "computerized model of reality (simulation)". The former is a self-contained Universe, replete with its "laws of physics" and "logic". It can bear resemblance to the real world or not. It can be consistent or not. It can interact with the real world or not. In short, it is an arbitrary environment. In contrast, a model of reality must have a direct and strong relationship to the world. It must obey the rules of physics and of logic. The absence of such a relationship renders it meaningless. A flight simulator is not much good in a w...
The Encroachment of the Public
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/13/2005
As Aristotle and John Stuart Mill observed, the private sphere sets limits, both normative and empirical, to the rights, powers, and obligations of others. The myriad forms of undue invasion of the private sphere - such as rape, burglary, or eavesdropping - are all crimes. Even the state - this monopolist of legal violence - respects these boundaries. When it fails to honor the distinction between public and private - when it is authoritarian or totalitarian - it loses its legitimacy.
Knowledge and Power
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/13/2005
"Knowledge is Power" goes the old German adage. But power, as any schoolboy knows, always has negative and positive sides to it. Information exhibits the same duality: properly provided, it is a positive power of unequalled strength. Improperly disseminated and presented, it is nothing short of destructive. The management of the structure, content, provision and dissemination of information is, therefore, of paramount importance to a nation, especially if it is in its infancy (as an independent state).
Anarchism for a Post-modern Age
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/20/2005
"The thin and precarious crust of decency is all that separates any civilization, however impressive, from the hell of anarchy or systematic tyranny which lie in wait beneath the surface."
- Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963), British writer
Book Review: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/19/2005
Stevenson, Jay, P.D. - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy - Alpha Books, 2005
Philosophy is the attempt to enhance the traits we deem desirable and suppress the traits we deem unwanted (a matter of judgment) by getting better acquainted with the world around us (a matter of reality). An improvement in the world around us inevitably follows.
Book Review: "Dreamworld and Catastrophe" by Susan Buck-Morss
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/13/2005
Title of Book: Dreamland and Catastrophe – The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West
Author: Susan Buck-Morss
Publisher: The MIT Press
Month, Year of publication: June 2000
Number of pages: xvi+368
"Hell hath no fury like an intellectual spurned."
William Shakespeare, very liberally paraphrased
Ethical Relativism and Absolute Taboos
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/3/2005
Taboos: Taboos regulate our sexual conduct, race relations, political institutions, and economic mechanisms - virtually every realm of our life. According to the 2002 edition of the "Encyclopedia Britannica", taboos are "the prohibition of an action or the use of an object based on ritualistic distinctions of them either as being sacred and consecrated or as being dangerous, unclean, and accursed".
The Rights of Animals
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/1/2005
"Animal rights" is a catchphrase akin to "human rights". It involves, however, a few pitfalls. First, animals exist only as a concept, be they small breed dogs or wild bears. Otherwise, they are cuddly cats, curly dogs, cute monkeys. A rat and a puppy are both animals but our emotional reaction to them is so different that we cannot really lump them together. Moreover: what rights are we talking about? The right to life? The right to be free of pain? The right to food? Except the right to free speech - all other rights could be applied to animals.
Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/21/2005
"I believe that when man evolves a civilization higher than the mechanized but still primitive one he has now, the eating of human flesh will be sanctioned. For then man will have thrown off all of his superstitions and irrational taboos."
- Diego Rivera
"One calls 'barbarism' whatever he is not accustomed to."
- Montaigne, On Cannibalism.
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."
- New Testament, John 6:53-55)
Ancient Slavic Democracy Amounted To Some Magnificent Drama
Angelique van Engelen - 5/9/2005
Visible remnants of one of the world's eldest democracies can be seen in a town in the Carantania region in what is now Austria, where during the early Middle Ages, the tribal society of a Slav people managed to live for over 100 years without being invaded and out of sheer happiness invented a democratic system. They did not call it a democracy, but the word invented later was taken directly from their example.
Maskirovka: Communists' Map Lies
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/5/2005
In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, maps lied. Whole towns were placed incorrectly, omitted altogether, minimized, exaggerated, or distorted. The confluence of rivers, the forking of roads, the damp darkness of tunnels were all subjected to the vagaries of official paranoia. No two maps were alike. Biblically, the mountains were made to dance. Moscow's maps were the most fictional, leading the innocents abroad down the garden paths to blind alleys and dead ends. Such maps were intended to misdirect foreigners and citizens alike and had a most Kafkaesque effect on daily life.
Workaholism, Leisure and Pleasure
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/22/2005
The official working week in France has being reduced to 35 hours a week (though the French are tinkering with it). In most countries in the world, it is limited to 45 hours a week. The trend during the last century seems to be unequivocal: less work, more play. Yet, what may be true for blue collar workers or state employees - is not necessarily so for white collar members of the liberal professions. It is not rare for these people - lawyers, accountants, consultants, managers, academics - to put in 80 hour weeks. The phenomenon is so widespread ...
Althusser - Competing Interpellations and the Third Text
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/15/2005
With the exception of Nietzsche, no other madman has contributed so much to human sanity as has Louis Althusser. He is mentioned twice in the Encyclopaedia Britannica as someone's teacher. There could be no greater lapse: for two important decades (the 60s and the 70s), Althusser was at the eye of all the important cultural storms. He fathered quite a few of them.
Communism and Feudalism
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/30/2005
The core countries of Central Europe (the Czech Republic, Hungary and, to a lesser extent, Poland) experienced industrial capitalism in the inter-war period. But the countries comprising the vast expanses of the New Independent States, Russia and the Balkan had no real acquaintance with it. To them its zealous introduction is nothing but another ideological experiment and not a very rewarding one at that. It is often said that there is no precedent to the extant fortean transition from totalitarian communism to liberal capitalism. This might well be true. Yet, nascent capitalism is not without...
Fascism - The Tensile Permanence
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/18/2005
Nazism - and, by extension, fascism (though the two are by no means identical) - amounted to permanent revolutionary civil wars. Fascist movements were founded, inter alia, on negations and on the militarization of politics. Their raison d'etre and vigor were derived from their rabid opposition to liberalism, communism, conservatism, rationalism, and individualism and from exclusionary racism. It was a symbiotic relationship - self-definition and continued survival by opposition.
Third World Libs and Neo-Cons
John Mangun - 2/12/2005
Liberal. Neo-Conservative. These terms are American in nature and probably not accurate, based on the historical roots, to describe the political philosophies that they have come to represent. Even so, the intellectual images they conjure up are clear, if not always and completely consistent. They have come to dominate the way many world governments formulate and conduct their policies.
Tsunami and the Left's Disdain for Human Life
Luis Figueroa - 1/28/2005
In a bathroom at a restaurant in Antigua, Guatemala,  there is a graffiti that says: "All capitalists should burn to death!"; in the bottom, someone else added: "So much for socialist compassion". Years ago I read that the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), whose purpose is to protect animals and their rights, threatens with acts of intimidation and terrorism restaurants, laboratories and activities that they consider harmful to their protégés.