Sunday, March 7, 2021
“What is familiarly known is not properly known, just for the reason that it is familiar,” says Hegel. We can add Hegel’s reasoning to the old proverb “familiarity breeds contempt,” and arrive at the conclusion that the notion of familiarity leads to two pitfalls: contempt and ignorance. When people are psyched into believing that that they are familiar with something, they do not try to investigate that thing; thus, their familiarity becomes the cause of their deficient understanding, and what they do not understand, they hold in contempt. Easy access to university education, and to the newspapers, Internet, and cable TV, all of which offer a simplistic and politically motivated view of culture and history, fills people with the feeling that they are familiar with their nation’s past and present, and its future prospects. But their familiarity is devoid of understanding, and this makes them contemptuous and ignorant of all that their nation stands for.
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Rejecting the claims of the British utilitarians, Nietzsche said, “Man does not seek happiness; only the Englishman does that.” This is a good point which can be stretched to include the two concepts which obsess the libertarians: liberty and rights. Man does not seek liberty and rights; only the libertarian does that. Not happiness, not liberty, and not rights but being part of a nation with stable, historical, and decent culture, in which they might hope to flourish, according to the traditional norms of human flourishing, is fundamental to man. When the utilitarians talk about happiness, and the libertarians talk about liberty and rights, they are indulging in metaphysical fiction—they are exhorting humanity to climb the wrong mountain. The right mountain is culture. All good things come to the nations which have a good culture.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:03:00 PM
What is the good? It might be possible to have an agreement, to a large extent (though not universal), on what makes a mobile phone a good mobile phone, a car a good car, and a rose a good rose, but when we talk about the moral good, the political good, and the aesthetic good, then people have sharp, and at times acrimonious, disagreements. Socrates and Plato in the Platonic Dialogues, Aristotle in Nichomachean Ethics, Aquinas in Commentary on the Ethics, and a number of other philosophers have posited that what is the good can never be conclusively ascertained and that mankind will always be faced with a multiplicity of perspectives, which are often irreconcilable, on the good. The idea of the good is an eternal battleground for intellectuals, artists, and politicians. The acrimonious discourse on the good will go on forever.
Friday, March 5, 2021
The preachers of a new ideology have to decide how they are going to react to the traditional beliefs and institutions of their society. Are they going to annihilate all traces of tradition in a brutal revolutionary war and then create a new utopia, or are they going to let the forces of tradition live and, through a long drawn process of compromise and coercion (carrot and stick), try to transform or destroy those aspects of tradition that they dislike?
The preachers of leftism, in the first half of the twentieth century, opted for the first model—they decided that they would cleanse their society of all traditional beliefs and institutions and then commence the work for the creation of a communist utopia. But that led to mass slaughters and extreme poverty and starvation in the Soviet Union. Between the 1930s and 1960s, it dawned on the leftists that the cost of annihilating the traditional beliefs and institutions is too high and that the mindless destruction caused by Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin in the Soviet Union was doing nothing to further the communist cause.
After the 1930s, the leftists started moving towards the model of compromising with the existing traditions—this gave rise to the intellectual movements like Fabian Socialism and Frankfurt School and the political movements like liberalism and progressivism which became very popular and are currently ruling most of the democratic nations in the world. What the brutal tactics of communism could not achieve, the soft tactics of liberalism and progressivism has.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:33:00 AM
Thursday, March 4, 2021
When a civilization is facing a great crisis, two types of personalities have to take initiative—the warriors (the politicians or men of action), who are capable of winning the support of their population and subduing the enemies of their civilization, and the great philosophers (the men of supreme wisdom and knowledge of religious and philosophical texts), who advise the warriors on morality, righteousness, justice, and political strategy.
In the Mahabharata, the first type of personality is represented by Arjuna and the second type by Krishna. They come together to save their civilization from a great crisis. Before the great war begins, we find that Arjuna is always eager for battle; again and again, he argues for a swift military action against his political rivals, but he is always held back by Krishna who insists that a war will be too destructive for their civilization and that they must negotiate and find a peaceful solution. But once the war starts, and the two armies are standing opposite each other, Arjuna wants to abandon the battlefield because he does not want to commit the sin of mass slaughter, but now Krishna insists that the war must be fought.
Krishna delivers the teachings of the Gita to Arjuna to make him realize that it is his duty to fight the “dharmayuddha” (the holy war for justice and moral principles) and walking out of the battlefield would be a grave sin which will lead to the annihilation of their civilization.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 7:29:00 PM
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Earlier I used to reject the idea that statecraft is soulcraft. But now I have a better knowledge of history, more experience, and perhaps I am wiser—and I have realized that statecraft is indeed soulcraft. A nation which does not engage in soulcraft, or does not use political methods to mould the mind of the new generation for ensuring that they grow up into moral and productive adults, is destined to lose its cultural and political identity and fail. There has never been a society in which academia is free from political influence. In Ancient Greece, the institutions of Plato and Aristotle were aligned to the political factions of their time; in Vedic India (more than two thousand five hundred years ago), the institutions run by the Gurus were aligned to the ruling classes of that time.
The idea that the academic sector should be free of political influence is a utopian ideal propagated by the classical liberals and libertarians. The classical liberals and libertarians ignore the basic facts about human nature and history while formulating their utopian theories. The truth is that human beings are political animals. Our politics is not confined to the sphere of governance; we take our politics to every sphere of activity in which we venture. In our age, everything that people do is imprinted with their consciously or subconsciously held political opinions—politics is there in the judiciary, in the mainstream media, in the big and small businesses, in the entertainment sector, in academia—and there is nothing wrong with this because this is in accordance with man’s identity as a political animal.
If some political faction refuses to venture into the academic sector, then other political factions will take advantage of their absence and move in to take total control of the universities. This has already happened in most democratic countries—the conservative forces, under the influence of the classical liberal and libertarian type thinking, which became popular after the 1950s, decided that it is unethical to exercise political control over the universities, but that has not made the universities free of politics. The left has ventured into the areas where the conservatives won’t go. After the 1950s, the universities in democratic countries have been slowly transforming into leftist indoctrination centers, and in the twenty-first century, the left enjoys a monopolistic control on the academic sector.
The idea that academia should be kept free of political influence might sound good in theory, but in practice, it has an unexpected consequence—it allows the left to take control of the education of the new generations.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 7:21:00 PM
While the practice of Hinduism is polytheistic, its philosophy is dualistic and materialistic in the case of one dominant movement, and monotheistic and idealistic in the case of another dominant movement. Thus, there is a divergence between practical Hinduism and the philosophies of Hinduism. The two philosophies which have dominated Hindu thought in the last three thousand years are Samkhya and Vedanta.
The Samkhya school is strongly dualistic, and it is often regarded as materialistic—it holds that the universe is a creation of two independent realities: Prakriti (the feminine principle—nature or instinct) and Purusha (the masculine principle—consciousness or intelligence). God, according to Samkhya, is not the creator of the universe, which is an outcome of the coming together of the two eternal realities, Prakriti and Purusha. The Vedanta school is strongly monotheistic; it denies independent reality and sees god in everything. The god of Vedanta is greater than the universe—the universe is contained in the god who himself is inexhaustible and extends beyond the limits of the universe.
In the Mahabharata (Shanti Parva section), Bhishma elucidates Krishna’s philosophy of the Vedanta. Krishna has directly expressed his philosophy in the Mahabharata (Bhishma Parva section) in the Gita, which has elements of both Samkhya and Vedanta.
Several millennia after the Mahabharata war, the Vedanta school branched into four movements: Sankaracharya’s Advaita Vedanta, Ramanujacharya’s Vishishtadvaita, Madhavacharya’s Dvaita Vedanta, and Vallabhacharya’s Shuddhadvaita. The Samkhya school is no longer an independent movement but it continues to exercise immense influence through its hold on the Yoga movements, certain Bhakti (devotional worship) movements, and on Buddhism and Jainism.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Hegel philosophically confronts the problem of prefaces in the Preface to his book The Phenomenology of Spirit. The preface, Hegel posits, is not the pre-face—it is not something that is written before the book; it is a retrospective event, something that can be better described as a post-face, or a text that has been written after the book is complete. Hegel asks the reader not to take his Preface seriously, because the serious stuff is in the book which follows: “In the case of a philosophical work... such an explanation seems not only superfluous but, in view of the nature of the subject-matter, even inappropriate and misleading.For whatever might appropriately be said about philosophy in a preface–say a historical statement of the main drift and the point of view, the general content and results, a string of random assertions and assurances about truth–none of this can be accepted as the way in which to expound philosophical truth.” In his book Dissemination, Derrida notes that Hegel had to write a preface to denounce the preface, even though much of Hegel’s work is a play of prefaces.
Like the insects which throw themselves into fire because they are mesmerized by the light and heat, the Western liberals are now throwing their nations into the hellfire of a new utopianism. They are no longer pursuing a Marxist utopia; they realize that the Russian communists failed to create a utopia in the twentieth century because they got constrained by Marxism. Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin killed millions but they did not go far enough; their Marxist ideology would allow a certain amount of barbarity and once that limit was reached, their utopia had to collapse. The new utopia of the Western liberals that is currently in the works is fully unconstrained—it is not limited by any ideology, values, history, traditions, and even the facts of reality and national borders. It is global; it is nihilistic, it is amoral, it is anti-traditional, it is unhistorical, it is post-truth, and it does not seek to achieve any values, except total power for the liberal elite.
Monday, March 1, 2021
In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche reflects on the Overman’s psychological problem: “The psychological problem in the type of Zarathustra is how he that says No and does No to an un-heard of degree, to everything that one has so far said Yes, can nevertheless be the opposite of a No-saying spirit; how the spirit who bears the heaviest fate, a fatality of a task, can nevertheless be the lightest and most transcendent…” Nietzsche is acknowledging that to influence society, the Overman should be capable of both affirming and denying—he should have the integrity to stand for his ideals, and the wisdom to compromise, collaborate, and cooperate. Thus, Nietzsche’s Overman has an antinomic character—he is a man of ideals and a man of wisdom. He is not like the individualistic, singleminded, and alienated protagonists in Ayn Rand’s novels—Howard Roark and John Galt—who will walk over corpses for transforming their society into a Randian utopia. I see Ayn Rand as a naive (and totalitarian) thinker who was convinced that history moves through the thoughts and actions of the Overmen whose supreme talent, power, knowledge, and determination made them unstoppable by the lesser specimens of humanity. Her conception of the Overman is more extreme and unworkable than the Overman of Nietzsche’s conception.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:58:00 PM
The multinational companies are not private property; they are “quasi-private” property, which is the property that symbolizes political power—they are part of the global ruling class, the geopolitical establishment. I make this assertion based on four reasons: first, these companies have a turnover higher than the GDP of most small and middle sized countries; second, as they operate in multiple countries, some of which are democracies, while others have a communist system or a Middle East type theocratic system, they tend to develop a globalist worldview which sees no difference between democracy and totalitarianism; third, they are managed by massive bureaucracies which are as secretive, insular, and agenda driven as the bureaucracies in government institutions; fourth, they possess too much political and legal clout, and they often violate the rights of citizens and small businesses. In the methods that they adopt for growing their business, the multinationals give an open display of their fascist tendencies. In democratic countries, they lobby for regulation and government intervention; while they posses the legal and political clout to navigate through the regulatory environment, the small and medium sized businesses do not—and when the small and medium sized businesses are decimated, the multinationals gain monopolistic control over the market. I am not saying that the governments should intervene to regulate the operations of the multinationals, because if the politicians and bureaucrats get involved they are certain to further worsen the situation. But a way has to be found to denude the multinationals of their immense political power.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The five objectives that Stephen C. Pepper tries to achieve in his book World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence:
1. He rejects skepticism and dogmatism by showing that both are weak arguments which lead to the same positions.
2. He presents a view of evidence as uncriticized, and criticized or refined—with commonsense being the uncriticized evidence. He tries to establish that knowledge is gathered through the progressive refinement of commonsense knowledge.
3. He tries to explain the different types of corroboration through which refined evidence is created—he develops terms like “dubitanda” (commonsense); “data” (multiplicative jargon); “danda” (logical data).
4. He suggests the origin of world hypothesis through the root metaphor theory.
5. He does an analysis of the six world hypotheses which, he holds, drive philosophical thought: “Mysticism” and “Animism” are the inadequate hypotheses; “Formism,” “Mechanism,” “Contextualism,” and “Organicism” are the adequate hypotheses.
Monday, February 22, 2021
The Gita is the only book of religion which appears as a chapter in the epic history (the Mahabharata) of an ancient civilization comprising nations of differing cultures and ruled by a number of dynasties. This signifies that the Gita was not conceived by its ancient creator as a stand-alone book of religion but as a part of an epic history—its teachings are enmeshed with the story of the life of the warriors, sages, and the masses who are the creators, preservers, and beneficiaries of the civilization described in the Mahabharata. Its purpose is to be a practical guide for those who find themselves incapable of taking the right action when they are facing the greatest challenge of their lifetime because they are overcome by feelings of doubt.
There are times in the history of every civilization when its politics and culture are in the state of great turmoil and its survival is at stake—to recover from such a crisis, a civilization has to fight a great war in which half of its population will be pitted against the other half. If the wrong side wins the war, the civilization will decline and fall. If the good side wins, they will manage to save their civilization by destroying the bad political forces and getting rid of the institutions which have become corrupt and dysfunctional, and by creating new institutions which are better suited to preserve their way of life. But to win such a great war, the good side has to be willing to fight against their own kith and kin.
The text of the Gita is recited in the middle of the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where two of the greatest armies that the civilization has ever seen are facing each other—the text is addressed to Arjuna, the warrior (man of action), who stands on a chariot facing the enemy forces. Krishna, the divine personality (man of thought), who holds the reins of Arjuna’s chariot, delivers the text of the Gita. On seeing many of his loved ones standing on the other side of the battlefield, Arjuna is plagued with doubts; he thinks that he will be committing a great sin if he slays his kith and kin, and loses his will to fight. Krishna addresses the Gita to Arjuna and to make him realize that fighting for the cause of justice and truth is his sacred dharma (duty).
In the Ancient and Middle ages, the cities were the place where the political establishment who produced little and consumed a lot would reside. The needs of these cities were fulfilled by the production taking place in the rural areas and the smaller towns. The character of the cities saw a transformation in the middle of the eighteenth century when the industrial revolution swept through several parts of the globe and made the cities the center of production—barring agricultural products, which continued to be sourced out of the rural areas and smaller towns, the cities were now producing enough of the goods and services that they needed to meet the needs of not only their own residents but also the people living outside the city limits. But since the 1950s, the cities have been reverting to what they were during the Ancient and Middle Ages. Instead of being the centers of production, they are transforming (many have already transformed) into centers of political power and consumption. These cities hold the offices of government institutions, multinational companies, academic institutions, global establishments, entertainment organizations, mainstream media, and the high-level lobbyists, financiers, and speculators—all these entities are mainly involved in policy making, regulating, speculating, propaganda, and indoctrination; they are not the producers of material goods and services. The rural areas and the smaller towns produce not only the agricultural products but also other goods and services which the residents of the cities need for their survival. But can modern civilization be sustained if the cities revert to the Ancient and Middle ages way of existence in which they consume a lot and produce too little? The cities are a burden on the rest of the country—they are taking too much from the rest of the country and giving too little in return.
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Mankind has been reset in a major way in the last three decades. The central role in this resetting has been played not by any moral, religious, or political movement, not by a revolutionary ideology, and not by any world war, but by digital technologies which are privately owned. Internet based search, social media, and free email services have the ability to transform our way of life—when our way of life changes, our political and moral opinions too must change. In the early days of the digital revolution, it seemed that the internet based services would fuel a new wave of liberty and individualism, and lead to lessening of the power that the governments have enjoyed over our lives—but the opposite has happened; the internet based services have become a leash which tie people around their neck and restrict their ability to use their own brain. The population of the digital age is more docile and easier to control than the generations before the 1990s. They whine a lot—and they are more conformist, more dependent on services from the government, and they have poorer moral values and work ethic. Due to Internet based search, they have information at their fingertips, but since they don’t know how to ask the right question, they fail to discover anything of importance. Due to social media, they have the power to share their opinions with a large number of people, but since they have little understanding of the political and social problems, they are incapable of having a sensible discussion. The work from remote location technologies, along with social media, have led to a decline in the public forums where people used to gather for a face to face discussion or confrontation on political and other issues—this has weakened not just the communities but also the bonds between family members.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 7:06:00 PM
“The death of Pericles and the Peloponnesian War mark the moment when the men of thought and the men of action began to take different paths, destined to diverge more and more widely till the Stoic sage ceased to be a citizen of his own country and became a citizen of the universe. Pericles had been the last philosophic statesman. Socrates remarks in the Phaedrus that his loftiness of spirit was due to his converse with Anaxagoras, whose speculations about Nature and the intelligence that works in Nature had given Pericles an insight and breadth of view that he carried into his work as leader of the Assembly. After Pericles the men of thought, like Thucydides and Euripides, go into exile, voluntary or enforced.” ~ writes F. M. Cornford in his essay “Plato’s Commonwealth,” (included in his book Unwritten Philosophy). In my opinion, since the eighteenth century, in many nations of the Western civilization, the men of thought (intellectuals) and the men of action (politicians) have worked together to establish a system of governance. The two exceptions to this eighteenth century trend in the West are America and Britain—these two nations were led by populist politicians till the first decade of the twentieth century, after that their politics took a turn towards intellectualism and gradually lost its populist character; the transformation was total by the 1940s in Britain and the 1990s in America.
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Plato speaks about Zeus Herkeios (the divinity who is the guardian of the house in Greek mythology) as the protector of the borderlines between city-states. He holds that the borderlines (which he names “haroi”) are divine [see Plato’s dialogue, the Laws]. In the Western tradition, there has been a conception of borderlines between nations since the time of Plato. But the borders of the kingdoms of the Western tradition have never been fixed—they have expanded in times of rise and contracted in times of fall. The conquering forces of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king, marched till the borders of India, but within months of his death, his empire splintered into several parts. The Roman Empire, the first great empire of the Western tradition, at its zenith controlled much of Europe, and parts of Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, but at the time of its fall, it lost even its capital city, Rome (to the Visigoths); the Eastern Roman Empire remained in the Western fold till the fifteenth century, when it was conquered by the Ottomans, and this area is now home to a culture that is West’s great rival. The British Empire, at its zenith, was the ruler of nations in every continent, but between 1935 and 1955, it lost every colony and became restricted to its original island in the north of Europe. The fate of the American Empire might be similar to that of the empires of Alexander, the Romans, and the British. America does not have satellite kingdoms like Alexander and the Romans, or colonies like the British, but it has exercised great power on international politics since the Second World War, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when it became the world’s only superpower. But now American culture and power are diminishing at a great pace, and the Western civilization is contracting. In the next ten or twenty years another power might emerge to fill the vacuum in international politics.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:35:00 PM
Politicians and their crony intellectuals have been trying to reset humanity for ages. But every attempt leads to an outcome different from what they envisaged. The resetting of humanity cannot be planned by the political class—the currents of history are too powerful, the human mind is too complicated and defies logic, and the variables in social relationships are infinite. No amount of political force will change the course of history. No amount of political force can transform human beings into something that they do not want to be. In the twentieth century, a number of leaders—Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot—tried to use political power to reset humanity, and coerce people into becoming the ideal citizens of the utopia that they envisioned. Between them, these leaders killed more than 250 million people, and caused pain and suffering to many more, yet they failed to create the kind of nation that they wanted, and eventually they lost control. From history we learn that the forces of religion, moral philosophy, artistic movements, scientific advancements, peaceful or violent interactions between civilizations, and mass education have a better success in resetting humanity.
Friday, February 19, 2021
In the prologue to her book The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt notes that speech is what makes man a political being, but the sciences use a language of mathematical symbols which include statements that cannot be translated into spoken language. She says that it may be wise to distrust the political judgment of scientists because “they move in a world where speech has lost its power.” I think Arendt’s critique of the political judgement of scientists is applicable to the professionals of the digital industry, who use computer code, which cannot be translated into spoken statements, to operate their systems and devices. In their world, computer coding, and not speech, has the power; thus, their politics is bound to be different from that of the humans who use spoken language. The political judgement of the digital industry cannot be trusted.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:07:00 PM
The term “Middle East” came into popular usage in 1903, with the publication of Sir Valentine Chirol’s The Middle Eastern Question. (Capitan Alfred Thayer Mahan, a United States naval officer, is credited with first using the term “Middle East” in his 1902 essay, “The Persian Gulf and International Relations.”) In this book, Chirol, a brilliant historian and diplomat well connected with the British intellectual and political establishment of his time, presents his view on how politics and culture in the region of Middle East are evolving, and he makes the suggestion that this region might produce political movements which could at some point of time pose a grave threat to the British Empire (he saw Britain as the world’s great power on its own, which might be correct for a thinker of his time, because then the European nations were battling with each other and the notion of the Western civilization was not popular). On the British conservative mind, he writes: “Owing partly to the innate conservatism of the British mind, which is both self-reliant and slow to move, prone to criticism yet fundamentally optimistic, and partly to the immense complexity of our national interests scattered over a world-wide Empire which has been built up by a series of individual efforts rather than by any uniform and collective design, we are apt as a nation to take things as we find them, and having no reason to be dissatisfied with them on the whole, we are also disposed to assume that they will go on as they are, without troubling ourselves over-much about the unceasing changes which are going on around us, and which, without making themselves so directly and visibly felt as to compel public attention, are constantly and materially affecting the ground upon which we stand in our relations to the outside world.” In 1910, Chirol published his famous book India Unrest, in which he presents his thesis that the anti-British nationalism that was developing in India was very strongly Hindu.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 9:34:00 AM
Thursday, February 18, 2021
The “chicken and egg oscillation” cannot be overcome. We will never be sure if the rule comes first or the event. The rules of morality, justice, politics, and economics which lead to particular type of events cannot be developed. Those who are revered as experts in the intellectual and political establishment might be convinced that a certain rule when implemented will lead to a particular event, but instances can be found where the event comes first and rule is conceived at a later stage, or the rule leads to a wholly different kind of event. The variables and chance factors in human affairs are too great, the chaos in the multitude of minds is indecipherable, and the future, especially the long term future, of societies cannot be predicted.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 5:49:00 PM
Heidegger begins his book Being and Time by talking about the historical interpretation of the way “we in our time” have become disoriented with regard to an understanding of our own being. He posits that our understanding of the basic question of our being is thwarted by two things: first, the classical Greek conception of man as zoon echon logon (animal rationale, Aristotle’s definition of man); second, Christianity’s conception of man in god’s image. These classical and medieval conceptions of being, he says, continue to be in place in modern philosophy, since Descartes too conceived human existence in terms of presence—a presence to which he ascribed certain unique and distinctive traits. According to Heidegger, this twofold humanist anthropology is what is hindering us from gaining a significant understanding of our being.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
The libertarian idea of achieving liberty and free markets in a stateless society is destined to remain unfulfilled. This is because liberty and free markets are political concepts which can be defined only in context of the political system of a society. When taken outside the political context, liberty and free markets transform into pseudo-concepts.The libertarian ideal is a stateless society, but if the society is stateless, then it is devoid of any political system, and where there is no political system, there can be no liberty and free markets. In context of a stateless society, liberty and free markets cannot even be defined, so there is no question of these ideals being achieved. The libertarians can either dream of a stateless society (an anarchist utopia), whatever that signifies, or they can dream of liberty and free markets—if they dream of both, there will be a contradiction in their dreams.
The political heritage of the Enlightenment is utopian since the movement was founded on three pseudo-concepts: universal morality, universal political ideology, and universal rationality. Those western nations which were able to resist the pull of the Enlightenment’s utopianism have made progress, while those which accepted that utopianism through and through faced great political and social problems. I am impressed by the analysis of the Enlightenment’s political heritage done by four philosophers: Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, Leo Strauss, and Alasdair MacIntyre.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
The classical liberal and libertarian projects didn’t simply happen to fail, they had to fail. What doomed these projects from their inception was their failure to connect their ideas of individualism, liberty, and free markets with the preexisting cultural, moral, political, and economic narratives. Like the communists, the classical liberal and libertarian idealists want to upend the existing social order and create a new world, a sort of utopia; unlike the communists, they don’t want to use violent revolutionary methods to force people to accept their ideas. There are two ways by which you can transform a society: first, you present something that fits into the preexisting narratives and then you can hope that people will accept your ideas as a part of their tradition; second, you use revolutionary violence, like the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky to force people to believe what you want them to believe and live as you want them to live. The classical liberals and libertarians don’t want to do either; they think that their arguments are so good that their utopia of liberty and free markets is destined to become a reality. Their utopian mindset hinders them from noticing the reality that individualism literarily means nothing outside the moral and cultural context; liberty literally means nothing outside the cultural and political context; free markets literally means nothing outside the political and economic context.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:14:00 PM
Here’s the paradox of digital technologies—these technologies have simultaneously given people the power to share their thoughts, create private and public groups (mostly online and sometimes offline), access the works of all kinds of thinkers, politicians, and activists, and attempted, in part due to the utopian aspirations of the tycoons who control the digital industry, to found a draconian political order which has the technological capacity to monitor the activities of anyone on a real time basis and impose on society new forms of control and oppression. The tycoons are probably thinking that this state of affairs will go on forever—but they will soon find out that no paradox is everlasting, and that those who try to ride two boats at the same time are likely to lose their balance and descend into the river.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 9:26:00 AM
Monday, February 15, 2021
Aristotle says that Socrates believed that the moral virtues are forms of knowledge, and that when men know what justice is, they will be just. But this point of view is not right. Aristotle says: “Yet where moral virtue is concerned, the most important thing is not to know what it is, but how it arises; we do not wish to know what courage is, we wish to be courageous.” I think, Aristotle’s critique of Socrates is applicable to the philosophers who identify themselves as classical liberals and libertarians and believe that once people know what rights, liberty, individualism, and rationality are, they will be motivated to fight for a free society. They believe that philosophical knowledge inspires political action—but this is not true at all. Knowledge of moral and political concepts is not enough to inspire people to fight for achieving those concepts. No one, except a tiny group of idealistic politicians and intellectuals, who despise the old order and are intent on overthrowing it, will risk his life to fight for mere concepts. Classical liberalism and libertarianism are a failure because their arguments are weak—in their works they give knowledge of rights, liberty, individualism, and rationality but they fail to explain how, and in what kind of society, these concepts arise. The masses will never be enthused by the ideas of the classical liberals and libertarians, so in a political sense, they are quite useless.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 7:44:00 PM
Modern politics is a civil war. In good societies, the civil war does not get too violent; in bad societies, it is too violent. Those who fail to understand the fundamental nature of modern politics are destined to lose in the political battles.
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Liberalism is too big to fail. It controls not just the political establishment but also the economic and the intellectual establishments. The pharma and healthcare industry, the tech industry, the banking and insurance industry, the automobile and airlines industry—every major sector of the economy is being run by the liberals. In the intellectual space, the academic industry, the mainstream media, and the movie industry are wholly liberal. How do people fight liberalism when the liberals operate every aspect of their life? There is no answer to this question. To overthrow liberalism, means overthrowing your way of life; if liberalism goes down, it will take with it much of the economy and the intellectual establishments—every product and service, every convenience that makes life worth living, might be endangered. There will be nothing left and the quality of life will become as bad as it was during the middle ages. Karl Marx has written that capitalism is doomed because as capitalism develops powerful monopolies emerge which drive out small businesses, and at the final stage of capitalism, a single monopoly owns every means of production. Perhaps the final stage of capitalism has been reached. The irony is that the single monopoly that owns everything today is not capitalistic but leftist—it is Liberalism Inc.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:37:00 PM
The aggressive denunciation and malice directed at Trump in the impeachment hearings offers an insight into the frame of mind that led to Socrates being tried and convicted by the courts of democratic Athens on a charge of corrupting the youth. Did Trump corrupt the youth? Did he tell the youth to march into the Capitol Building? It seems to me that Trump is the new Socrates, and the politicians, intellectuals, and journalists who are determined to get him are the Athenian mob. The rise of a Socrates is destabilizing for a society, and his unjust condemnation is often fatal—Athens began its decline after the rise and condemnation of Socrates. The American political establishment made its first mistake when they allowed a Socrates to arise. By condemning him without any evidence, they are making the second mistake which might prove fatal to their nation.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:31:00 AM
Saturday, February 13, 2021
A civilization can be viewed as a legend that is historically extended over several centuries and sometimes millennia and narrates the saga of millions or billions of people from the past and present. When the civilization is full of energy and is on the rise, its legend will flow like a thriller and an epic love story; when it has lost its vitality and is declining and falling, its legend will flow like a tragedy and a horror story. The norms of culture, which include the moral, political, religious, and artistic ideas, are embedded in the legend as the myriad subplots. People get their sense of values, and of being good, from the context defined by that part of the legend of the civilization in which they happen to be living their life. If the mind of majority of the people is full of thrill and love, then the civilization is healthy, and if their mind is mired in tragedy and fear of horrible calamities, then the civilization is dying or dead.
Wars fought over contemporaneous factors, relating to land disputes, economic disputes, or something else, can be brought to an end with one side winning and imposing its terms on the other side, or with both sides coming to a negotiated settlement. But the conflicts rooted in civilizational factors go on for centuries. There are several civilizational conflicts that have been going on for a thousand years—when the nations and groups which participate in these conflicts decline and go out of existence, their place is taken up by new nations and groups which emerge, and the conflict goes on. There are instances of nations breaking away from their own civilization, due to their own political and economic circumstances, and becoming neutral or even supporting the cause of the other side, but if the population of these nations is dominated by the people of a particular culture, then they simply cannot withstand the pressure of history and are forced to join the bandwagon of their own civilization. The civilizational conflicts do not see military engagement all the time; they go through long periods of peace, when the antagonism simmers under the surface, and the conflict is pursued through diplomatic, economic, and insurgency related channels. In the military engagements, one side might win a decisive victory, but if the losing side has a large and youthful population, it will continue to pursue the conflict. The advanced civilizations, with better technology, political system, and economy, tend to win most of the wars, but it is the barbaric civilizations, with large and barely educated youthful population, which win the civilizational conflict.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:43:00 AM
Friday, February 12, 2021
The globalists are divided into two camps: the internal globalists and the external globalists. The internal globalists demand that their nation should give-up its culture and become like the world; the external globalists want to coerce other nations to become like their own nation. The policies of the internal globalists lead to civil wars, and the policies of the external globalists lead to world wars. Both camps of globalists exist under the umbrella of liberalism (leftism); thus, liberalism and leftism can be said to have become Janus-faced—one side of the face warns the dominant community of their nation of dire consequences if they do not discard their own culture and become like the world, while other side of the face tries to bully the world into becoming like their own nation. The globalists are the biggest source of instability and conflict in a world that has always been and always will be multi-civilizational.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 5:57:00 PM
Kant and Hume were more focused on defending the ideas of liberty and rational politics than any other philosopher of the eighteenth century (including Adam Smith). Here’s Martha C. Nussbaum’s view of Kant’s politics (from her essay, “Kant and Stoic Cosmopolitanism”): "Kant, more influentially than any other Enlightenment thinker, defended a politics based upon reason rather than patriotism or group sentiment, a politics that was truly universal rather than communitarian, a politics that was active, reformist and optimistic, rather than given to contemplating the horrors, or waiting for the call of Being."
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:39:00 AM
Thursday, February 11, 2021
China is a Great Wall country; it is comfortable inside its Great Wall, which has been protecting its borders from as early as the seventh century BC. But the present generation of Chinese political and intellectual elite are convinced that, in the twenty-first century, the Chinese Great Wall has expanded; it now goes encircles not just China but several other nations in Asia and beyond. For the first time in their history, the Chinese elite seem to have developed a global vision and ambition and they think that they can actually inspire and coerce other nations to adopt the Confucian order, fully or in part. The twenty-first century might as well turn out be the Chinese century—whether they fail or succeed in their geopolitical agenda, they will make history.
To argue that a philosophy must be rational is by itself an irrational philosophical opinion. A rational philosophy is a myth. It does not exist. All past and present philosophies are fundamentally irrational because the philosophical problems that they grapple with remain unsolved and the solutions that they offer defy reason. When philosophers acquire the pole position in politics and culture, they unleash one irrationality after other, and bring about the decline of their nation. Philosophers can coin profound arguments, they can develop theories which seem amazing on paper, but they cannot create systems which work in the real world—to create workable systems, you need people of skill, people of worldly experience.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Why does the left control academia? The answer to this question lies in the eighteenth century (the so-called Age of Enlightenment), when the belief caught the European philosophers that a society can be turned into a utopia through right kind of ideology. These philosophers thought that once a society is cleansed of religious, cultural, and monarchist beliefs, and is ruled by an enlightened government, people will get coerced into accepting the Enlightenment ideologies, which are imbued with the elements of materialism, atheism, anarchism, and classical liberalism, and then there will be the rise of a new utopia. They preached that the universities should be freed from the control of the monarchists and the churches and turned into the preachers of the Enlightenment ideologies. Being an offshoot of the Enlightenment era movements, the modern left understands the importance of controlling the universities—in every country that the left has targeted in the last hundred years, it has first taken control of the universities and only subsequently it has made the move to acquire political power. The conservatives are a product of eighteenth century romanticist movements which rejected the idea of ideology based society—they are not motivated to control the universities because they have no ideology that they can teach to the students. “Soul craft” is not the conservative way—their focus is on maintaining peace and stability by conserving the traditional institutions and having populists in the government.
The Western Roman Empire has impacted the culture of the West European nations; the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), which outlasted its Western counterpart by more than a thousand years, and fell to the Ottomans in the fifteenth century, has impacted the culture of Russia and the Russian block of East European nations. The United States is a unique case as it is impacted by the political innovations of the inheritors of the Western Roman Empire (classical liberal, expansionist, and socialist) and the cultural values of the inheritors of the Eastern Roman Empire (orthodox, insular, and feudal). The political discontent within the societies of Europe and the USA can be analyzed through the prism of the intellectual and cultural feuds which prevented the Western and Eastern Roman Empires from cooperating with each other.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:25:00 AM
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
A man without history and culture is a myth. He does not exist. A man can hate and deny his history and culture, but he cannot escape his history and culture. Even the tiny tribal communities which exist in remote jungles and islands are aware of a past and a way of life—if their way of life, which is miserable by the standards of people who live in modern environments, is threatened, they will fight. Intellectuals and politicians imbued with the hubris to believe that they can create a better society by using political power to radically transform the historical and cultural sensibilities of their people are destined to fail. In the last three hundred years every attempt to transform a society by political force has resulted in massive violence and chaos.
The people who live in a paradise, isolated from the real world, get filled with the notion that something is missing in their life, and they become impatient and miserable. They demand perfection; they demand more power, more wealth, more conveniences, more glory. If they can’t have everything, they will burn everything—either they will be the lords of the perfect paradise or the lords of the chaos. If you have lived in the paradise all your life, you can’t know what the paradise means because you have no experience of the world outside. It is always the impatient and miserable residents of the paradise who use their great power to attain perfection and in the process they destroy the world. Here’s a passage from Walter M. Miller Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, which is the most depressing novel on the suicide of civilizations that I have read: “The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they became with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps, it was easier to see something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle's eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn.”
Monday, February 8, 2021
Man doesn’t have a soul. He is the soul. The body is the garment that the soul temporarily wears. This is how the great religions of the world (and the pre-modern philosophies) have viewed the relationship between man and his body. The conception of man as a wholly material entity is the result of a shotgun wedding between soul and body organized by modern philosophy (in the last three hundred years)—this shotgun wedding is not going to last; a breakup between body and soul is certain because modern philosophy (modernity itself) is crumbling and it will soon fall. By the next decade, the philosophers will either revert to the religious and pre-modern view or they will develop a new theory to explain the connection between the body and the soul.
“If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin,” said T. S. Elliot. I believe Elliot is right—from the experience of last hundred years we know that it is generally the atheists who become the foot soldiers of ideologies like fascism, nazism, and communism. God is man’s psychological need—if you don’t believe in god, you will be driven to surrender your mind to any Hitler or Stalin, or a philosophical cult. Atheism is based on the idea that people can live on reason alone—but this is not true. People cannot use their reason until they have a sense of identity, which comes from their ability to answer the two questions: Who am I? Where am I from? Traditionally, in most societies, it is religion that has supplied the answers to these questions. When religion becomes irrelevant, people lose their sense of identity and become an easy prey for the totalitarian atheistic movements.
Sunday, February 7, 2021
The Ancient Greeks recognized two types of virtues: competitive virtues and cooperative virtues. In the Homeric texts, we discover warriors like Hector, Achilles, and Odysseus, who possess the virtue of being competitive and go on to become the top warriors of their time; female characters like Helen and Penelope compete for beauty and fidelity. Even the Homeric gods are competitive—Zeus is the top god because he is more powerful than other gods. These characters possess the cooperative virtues as well—they understand their place in the world and strive to fulfill their duties and obligations. The competitive virtues and cooperative virtues are critical not only for an Ancient Greece type of society but for every age, including the modern age. We no longer compete with swords, axes, and spears like Hector, Achilles, and Odysseus, or with primitive notions of beauty and fidelity like Helen and Penelope, but there are ample opportunities for men and women to hone and test their competitive virtues. Children compete in the playground, to be the best athlete, and inside the classroom, to be the best student; grownups compete in the workplace, in the arena of sports, business, and politics. Within nations, the towns and cities, and groups with all kinds of agenda, compete for dominance; in the international arena, the nations compete with their rivals. There is a ruthless competition happening at every sphere of our existence. The cooperative virtues are honed and tested in the sphere of personal, social, and economic relationships—these virtues inspire men to fulfill their duties and obligations while remaining true to the legal code and tenets of culture. On the level of nations and other political groupings, the cooperative virtues are honed and tested through economic, political, and militaristic relationships and rivalries. Without the competitive and cooperative virtues, we cannot function as good human beings and we cannot preserve a good social order. When there is decline in competitive virtues, people become weak and incompetent; when there is decline in cooperative virtues, there is corruption and immorality.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:11:00 PM
When intellectuals talk about natural rights, they are following Rousseau’s famous line in The Social Contract: “Men are born free but everywhere are in chains.” They identify natural rights as a political empowerment that is available to every man in all parts of the world, and the chains as the political, intellectual, and cultural constraints imposed by society. But this is nor logical. Men are never born free—they are highly dependent when they are born and when they are in the stage of childhood; and everywhere men are not in chains—the world has a few semi-free societies, where some rights exists due to the political system and culture, while most societies are unfree, as their culture does not allow a rights-based political system. There is no social contract between men so there cannot be any natural rights; all rights are manmade.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
In his book The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington says that the Western civilization has generated the great political ideologies of the twentieth century—liberalism, socialism, anarchism, corporatism, Marxism, communism, social democracy, conservatism, nationalism, fascism, and Christian democracy—but it has never generated a major religion. He writes: “The great religions of the world are the products of non-Western civilizations and, in most cases, antedate Western civilization.” He says that with the decline of the West, the ideologies will become irrelevant, and the Westphalian separation of religion and international politics will come to an end.
Oswald Spengler was appalled by the thinking of the historians who present history from a mono-civilizational (Western) perspective—in 1918, he denounced the division of history into ancient, medieval, and modern sections as the “Ptolemaic approach to history,” which obscures the multi-civilizational reality of the world and creates the false impression that the other civilizations are not transforming. In his classic The Decline of the West, he writes: “I see, in place of that empty figment of one linear history which can be kept up only by shutting one’s eyes to the overwhelming multitude of facts, the drama of a number of mighty Cultures, each springing with primitive strength from the soil of a mother-region to which it remains firmly bound throughout it’s whole life-cycle; each stamping its material, its mankind, in its own image; each having its own idea, its own passions, its own life, will and feelings, its own death. Here indeed are colors, lights, movements, that no intellectual eye has yet discovered.”
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:37:00 AM
Friday, February 5, 2021
In his book The Evolution of Civilizations, Carroll Quigley notes that, from their inception to fall, civilizations move through seven stages: mixture, gestation, expansion, age of conflict, universal empire, decay, and invasion. A civilization starts declining when it is in the universal empire stage and its instruments of expansion are institutionalized, which means that the systems that the civilization uses to gather, grow, and distribute its resources are politicized and intellectualized and turned into slow-moving bureaucratic institutions, which grab more and more power and resources as they grow in size—these institutions see themselves as the civilization’s true representative and the only line of defense. According to Quigley, most civilizations do not die in a fiery blaze; they wane out of existence because, with all the institutions having become bureaucratic, insular, and self-serving, no one has the power to stop the decay which keeps intensifying—the invaders, when they arrive, do not face much resistance.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:09:00 PM
Nothing makes a civilization more self-aware than the confrontation with another civilization. By observing their enemies, by fearing and admiring them, by learning from them, by trying to outmaneuver them in economics and geopolitics, and by trying to vanquish them, a civilization becomes aware of its unique history, culture, religion, politics, and psychology. In his novel Dead Lagoon, Michael Dibdin writes: "There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.” The rivalry between civilizations runs parallel to the political and cultural rivalries within the civilizations, and both are a necessary condition for the evolution of mankind.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Philosophy and politics are not the cosmos; they are the chaos. It is impossible to derive for philosophy and politics the kind of scientific and mathematical rules that apply to the cosmos— the chaos has been the final end of mankind’s every philosophical and political project. No paradigm, as Thomas Kuhn shows in his classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is good forever. Every paradigm descends into chaos, and when that happens, the only solution is to replace the old paradigm with a new one which might offer a more satisfactory outcome.
The philosophical systems devised by the post-Enlightenment philosophers have failed to describe moral and political principles that are universal and incontestable—despite the millions of lines of arguments by the philosophers, the fundamental tenets of morality and politics continue to be unargued. The movements based on the Enlightenment ideas have failed to create a utopia—the Jacobins paved the way for Robespierre and Napoleon; the Bolsheviks paved the way to Stalin and Khrushchev; the fabian socialists and neoliberals created worldwide corruption and nihilism; the free market utopia of libertarianism has been aborted at the embryonic stage; the neoconservatives have created a corrupt and brutal military-industrial complex.
The fate of political actions in the last hundred years have been no better: Woodrow Wilson thought that the First World War was a war to “end all wars”; Franklin Roosevelt thought that the Second World War would lead a “permanent structure of peace”; Lenin and his bolsheviks thought that their revolution would be the last revolution of mankind; Hitler’s Nazis thought that theirs was the thousand years Reich; after the fall of the Soviet Union, conservatives like Francis Fukuyama proclaimed an “end of history,” or an end of the ideological evolution of mankind; the neoliberals and neoconservatives wanted to create a global paradise of liberty and free markets, but they got America stuck in the Middle Eastern quagmire for decades.
In my opinion, there is no alternative to conservatism which seeks to maintain peace and stability by conserving the institutions which are functional and getting rid of those which do not work. When the conservatives overthrow an unworkable institution and build a new one, they are creating a new paradigm (in Kuhn’s terminology). Only the conservatives possess the natural talent and will to replace one paradigm with another and bring order. Conservatism might not lead to great progress, but it will not lead to dissolution of a civilization either.
The decisive forces of history are not materialistic but mystical and mental. Events which make history—revolutions, revolts, wars, cultural movements, purges, assassination of political figures, and coups—rarely happen due to objective and demonstrable facts; they happen due to the motivations related to religion, myths, a biased sense of history, the ruling elite’s sense of honor and lust for glory, doubtful reports compiled by intellectuals and spy agencies, ideologies which cannot be proved or disproved, and the desire to create a promised land (utopia). The mystical and mental forces of history have the power to bring any civilization to the brink of dissolution.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
In his article, “The Revolt of the Intellectuals,” Whittaker Chambers writes: “When the train of history makes a sharp turn, said Lenin, the passengers who do not have a good grip on their seats are thrown off.” The article was published in Time magazine on Jan 6, 1941, when the intellectuals in western countries had started regarding Stalin as the messiah who would rescue their society from the unfairness and unintellectualism of capitalism. Chambers believed that the communist strategy was to takeover the world by taking several sharp turns and keeping the western countries off balance. On the attitude of American intellectuals during the great depression, Chambers writes, “The Depression came to them as a refreshing change. Fundamentally skeptical, maladjusted, defeatist, the intellectuals felt thoroughly at home in the chaos and misery of the ’30s. Fundamentally benevolent and humane, they loved their fellow countrymen in distress far more than they could ever love them in prosperity.” Chambers could see that the intellectuals were revolting, while the masses were either apolitical or the blind followers of the intellectuals—in Europe, the intellectuals were spearheading the communist, nazi, and fascist revolutions, while in the USA they were leading a push towards liberalism.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:45:00 PM
Philosophy and politics are more difficult than you think. If you are convinced that these are easy subjects, then you are lacking in historical consciousness. The more philosophy and politics you know, the less and less sure you become about the path that human beings and societies ought to follow for attaining peace, prosperity, and moral and material progress. There is a massive disconnect between history of philosophy and history of politics, which proves that a connection between philosophical theory and political action cannot be developed. The fundamental tenets of moral theory and political theory cannot be argued or demonstrated without making an appeal (an illogical leap) to religious ideals, man’s intuitions, the so-called self-evident truths, the utilitarian ends, the deontological doctrines, and virtue ethics.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
William F. Buckley, Jr. was convinced that the conservatives would cease to matter unless they shed their cliche-ridden approach of appealing to the grassroots. He observed in 1955 that the conservatives did not have a single journal of opinion while the liberals had eight. He said: “They [the liberals] know the power of ideas, and it is largely for this reason that socialist-liberal forces have made such a great headway in the past thirty years.” He started the National Review with the aim of revitalizing conservatism by appealing to the conservative intellectuals and not the conservative masses. He said that it was the intellectuals “who have midwifed and implemented the revolution. We have got to have allies among the intellectuals, and we propose to renovate conservatism and see if we can’t win some of them around.”
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:38:00 PM
Conservatism is not a lost cause because liberalism is not a gained cause. Capitalism is not a lost cause because socialism is not a gained cause. The political contest is never-ending; tomorrow is another day, a day of a new contest which might overturn the outcome of yesterday’s contest. When we fight for an ideology and a way of life, we fight for an idea, an abstraction, which never dies, which is resurrected after every crucifixion. Here are the lines from T. S. Elliot: “If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph.”
Monday, February 1, 2021
The doctrine of equality has been used as a political weapon since ancient times. In his Histories, Herodotus writes about Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, who had learned that some nobles in his kingdom were conspiring against him. But, having become a tyrant recently, he was not sure who the rebellious nobles were, and what was the best way of suppressing their rebellion. So, Periander sends his assistant to Thrasybulus, the wise longtime tyrant of Miletus, to seek advice on how to rule. Here’s Herodotus's description:
“Thrasybulus invited the man to walk with him from the city to a field where corn was growing. As he passed through this cornfield, continually asking questions about why the messenger had come to him from Corinth, he kept cutting off all the tallest ears of wheat which he could see, and throwing them away, until the finest and best-grown part of the crop was ruined. In this way he went right through the field, and then sent the messenger away without a word. On his return to Corinth, Periander was eager to hear what advice Thrasybulus had given, and the man replied that he had not given any at all, adding that he was surprised at being sent to visit such a person, who was evidently mad and a wanton destroyer of his own property — and then described what he had seen Thrasybulus do. Periander seized the point at once; it was perfectly plain to him that Thrasybulus recommended the murder of all the people in the city who were outstanding in influence or ability. Moreover, he took the advice, and from that time forward there was no crime against the Corinthians that he did not commit.”
The advice of Thrasybulus is that Periander must usher a regime of equality by chopping of the heads of all the best people in his kingdom, in the same way that one might cut off the tallest ears of wheat. When the best men are gone, everyone in the kingdom becomes equal, and there is no one left with the capability and the will to oppose the tyrant.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
The weak spot of the conservatives is their naivety which leads them to believe in cliches like “truth always wins in the end”; the weak spot of the liberals is their ridiculousness which leads them to believe that truth is what those with political power want it to be.
Saturday, January 30, 2021
In his twelve-volume A Study of History, Arnold J. Toynbee traces the rise and fall of twenty-eight civilizations. He notes that when a civilization reaches its climax, its people get blinded by “a mirage of immortality,” which makes them convinced that they are the world’s chosen people, that theirs is the final form of life, that they represent the end of history, that theirs is the promised land. Ironically, the civilizations whose people are struck with such hubris that they start believing that their way of life is immortal are the ones which are about to decline and fall. In the editor’s note to A Study of History, it is given that Toynbee always believed that civilizations mostly die by suicide and rarely by murder or natural causes.
There is no culture-free definition of liberty and man’s rights; a few cultures might need a degree of freedom to remain viable, but most cultures are fundamentally statist and immoral, and they see the slogans of liberty and man’s rights as a conspiracy against their way of life. Defining liberty and man’s rights, without taking into account the aspects of culture, is tantamount to dealing with a counterfeit of these concepts, and that is the problem that the libertarians face—they talk about liberty and man’s rights but they do not appreciate the culture and history of the places where these concepts have taken root in the last two hundred fifty years. They envisage the existence of liberty and man’s rights in a society that is free of all cultural restrictions, but a society without culture is not possible. The libertarian conception of a free society is a counterfeit of reality; their vision is a utopia, which can never be realized.
Friday, January 29, 2021
A man can be morally judged only in context of his achievements. This is especially true of the illustrious names of history. When you judge the historical figures, you have to first understand what they have achieved under what odds—you could also try to imagine what would be the state of the world if those figures of history had not performed the deeds for which they became famous or infamous. No man can achieve great things without making compromises and, in some cases, performing deeds which might seem evil from the vantage point of the smug folks of the later generations. A man who has done no evil is probably a village idiot who has not achieved anything significant in his lifetime. If all the figures of history were village idiots, free of all blame, then we would all be living in a village mired in poverty and ignorance. Mankind owes a great debt to the people who, while being visionary, intelligent, and moral, did not fail to act in a cruel, ruthless, and shrewd manner when the occasion demanded it—such people are the real drivers of history and the fountainhead of all progress.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:27:00 PM
When non-western nations allow western multinational companies to do business inside their borders, they are not accepting western culture—they are accepting only western money, trading strategies, and technology. Samuel Huntington rightly notes in his book The Clash of Civilizations: “The argument now that the spread of pop culture and consumer goods around the world represents the triumph of Western civilization trivializes Western culture. The essence of Western civilization is the Magna Carta, not the Magna Mac. The fact that non-Westerners may bite into the latter has no implications for their accepting the former.” China is America’s biggest business partner, but in the cultural and political sense, the two countries can never be alike.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:41:00 AM
Thursday, January 28, 2021
The irony is that the very optimism of the fall of the communist empire of the Soviet Union in 1991 was abused and channeled into becoming an obstacle to the flourishing of the right (the conservatives) who believe that they are the guardians of the free world. This shows that the left has far better intellectuals, strategists, and politicians than the right. The left understands the mentality of the right better than the right understands itself. When the left gets defeated, it is not because of anything that the right has done but because the contest for the fruits of political and financial power between the factions of the left tend to get extremely divisive and violent, which causes heavy damage to the regime, and because, despite their intellectual and political might, the leftists are incapable of subverting the laws of economics which are absolute; when the economic fall happens due to the leftist policies, the left starves and declines.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 7:49:00 PM
China is a civilization which pretends to be a nation. Despite Mao’s dalliance with the Western ideology of communism between 1950 and 1976, China never ceased being a fundamentally Confucian world. America is a nation which pretends to be a civilization. America cannot be a civilization because the roots of its culture lies outside its borders, in Europe, and all the European nations are determined to carve out a non-American identity. History tells us that in the conflict between a nation and a civilization, the civilization has a better chance of winning. But America is not like most other nations in history—it is economically and militarily too powerful and so it is hard to predict which side will be in a position to dominate the world in the next two decades.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
One of the conclusions of Schrödinger’s quantum theory is that the position of the electrons which compose the material things in the universe cannot be predicted because they pervade the entire universe. The monistic philosophers have tried to use the conclusions of the quantum theory to develop arguments for supporting the monistic position that everything is immanent in everything else. Thus, you are not making a mistake when you assume that something is another thing. If in the darkness, you mistake a rope for a snake, you are not making a mistake because the electrons that comprise the snake are immanent in the rope, just as the rope’s electrons are there in the snake. No unreal thing is perceived. Some schools of Vedanta philosophy (for instance, the Ramanujacharya’s tradition) have preached similar ideas.
There are no grounds to believe that the people who profess to believe in the supremacy of reason will be more efficient and benign in the exercise of power than those who believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Those who possess political power also possess the tools for promoting themselves as the men of reason who are expert in everything and, therefore, deserve to be obeyed by all. Thus, a dictatorship of the proletariat can easily be promoted as a rule of the infallible men of reason, and that is how it happened in the Soviet Union. By virtue of being the fountainhead of the Bolshevik revolution, Lenin had won the reputation in communist circles of possessing an exceptional brain—the communists saw him as the ultimate man of reason. When he died, the Soviets took out his brain and sliced it into 31000 wafer-thin slithers which were mounted on glass and stored in a secure laboratory (Room 19) of the Moscow Brain Institute—Lenin’s brain is the most closely studied brain in history. I believe that the notion of supremacy of reason is simply a way of conning the people into surrendering their life and liberty to any individual or group that claims to be the voice of reason.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
The idea of rationality is the key means through which liberalism establishes its superiority in society. The liberals own all the mouthpieces of intellectual, artistic, and political discourse; thus they possess the power to valorize their own agenda as rational and brand the agenda of their rivals, like the conservatives, as irrational. The language of rationality imparts a superior status to liberalism and ensures its success in the intellectual and political battles. The liberals cannot be defeated as long as they possess the power to determine what is rational and what isn’t.
In The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel P. Huntington argues that “multiculturalism is in its essence anti-European civilization. It is basically an anti-Western ideology.” He notes that by denying national culture, the ideology of multiculturalism pushes society towards identify politics; people get divided into groups which compete with each other for political and economic power. But when people are fighting with each other, they are less likely to pose a threat to the multiculturalists who hold positions of power. Thus multiculturalism leads to rise in the power of the government, and a corresponding decline in the civil liberties that people have traditionally enjoyed.
Monday, January 25, 2021
For people seeking a conservative way of life and capitalist economy, powerful foreign enemies are essential. Nothing energizes the conservatives as the prospect of defending their country from the attacks of a foreign enemy of equal strength. In the absence of powerful foreign enemies, the spirit of conservatism and capitalism declines and the society becomes rife with smugness and complacency in which the forces of modern liberalism (nihilism and soft fascism) breed and prosper. When the communist empire of the Soviet Union fell in 1991, America no longer had a powerful foreign enemy, and that made the decline of American conservatism and capitalism inevitable. Thus 1991 must be seen as the year when both the communist Soviet Union and the conservative America fell, and the world moved towards a nihilistic and soft fascistic order of the liberals.
Man’s body is temporal but his soul is eternal, and his mind is the bridge between the temporal body and the eternal soul. The coexistence of the temporal and the eternal is the underlying reality of the universe. The manifest universe is temporal, while the unmanifest prime author of the universe is eternal. Man can gain empirical knowledge by studying the temporal, but to meet his spiritual needs, he must speculate about the eternal through philosophy and religion.
Sunday, January 24, 2021
When you apologize for an injustice, you take responsibility for that injustice. The conservatives have been brainwashed into apologizing for their history, their culture, their nationalism, and even their economic and political success—and now they bear on their shoulders the guilt for every social and political injustice in the world. Thus encumbered with the weight of myriad injustices, they are full of guilt, which has robbed them of their moral sense and made them politically dysfunctional. They can still express their outrage in articles and books, and in the social media, but they are incapable of direct political action. They cannot fight against the liberals (the new nihilistic left); they can only rant against them. They realize that their conservative agenda can never be implemented because liberalism is in control of every cultural and political institution—and the conservatives have nothing except their proclivity to rant against the liberal establishment. In 2016, they elected Trump as president not because they wanted a reformer (they have lost faith in political and economic reforms), but rather because they wanted a president who would berate the liberal establishment day after day by tweeting against them.
One of the teachings of the Vedas is that the Brahman, who is the ultimate principle and mover of the universe, does not dwell in the universe; rather, the universe dwells in him. Thus the Brahman does not create the universe, he becomes it—creation is not an act; it is an expression of the potentiality of the divine. The ancient Jewish texts preach a similar dictum—they say that God is the abode of the universe, but the universe is not the abode of God.
Saturday, January 23, 2021
The Kantian man does not consent; he is governed by the categorical imperative (moral law) that he gives to himself. To be rational, Kant says, is to be autonomous (free), and to be autonomous is to possess the ability to give yourself the categorical imperative. In the Kantian moral system rationality comes first—rationality leads to the state of being autonomous or having a free mind, and this, in turn, enables a man to accept and strictly observe the categorical imperative. Thus in Kant’s moral theory, the rational man is independent and moral; irrationality implies an unfree mind and the potential for immorality.
Man creates a nation and depending on the political character of the nation, man is either free or a slave. The concepts of “freedom” and “slavery” come into existence after people come together to create a nation. Just as the period of “night” grants relevance to the period of “day,” the existence of a nation (an entity that has the power to enslave) makes the concept of freedom relevant to us. We would not have known what freedom is, if we didn’t have the experience of the nations where people exist as slaves. The idea of slavery is a precursor to the idea of freedom—the desire for freedom is born in the mind of men who have endured the degrading experience of slavery. People living in the free nations are not concerned about freedom; they take their liberties for granted, as something that has always existed and always will.
Friday, January 22, 2021
All human actions, even the quest for reason, liberty, and atheism, have unintended consequences. The idealistic French philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment, who hectored their countrymen to fight for a utopia of reason, liberty, and atheism, were the intellectual architects of the bloody French Revolution. Therefore, I say, one must beware of the philosophers who talk about reason, liberty, and atheism—they might be the breeders of violence and chaos. Here’s Tolstoy’s description of the French Revolution and its aftermath (in the epilogue of his novel War and Peace): “At the end of the eighteenth century there were a couple of dozen men in Paris who began to talk about all men being free and equal. This caused people all over France to begin to slash at and drown one another. They killed the king and many other people. At that time there was in France a man of genius Napoleon. He conquered everybody everywhere that is, he killed many people because he was a great genius. And for some reason he went to kill Africans, and killed them so well and was so cunning and wise that when he returned to France he ordered everybody to obey him, and they all obeyed him. Having become an Emperor he again went out to kill people in Italy, Austria, and Prussia. And there too he killed a great many.”
To gain higher knowledge and wisdom, we need to turn away from the world which is full of noise. The ancient Hindu texts insist that “mauna,” which means silence or abstinence from speech, is necessary for study, contemplation, and meditation. In Western philosophy, Kierkegaard has written some really good lines on the beauty of silence. Here’s a passage from his book For Self-Examination/Judge for Yourselves: “The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply: ‘Create silence’. Bring men to silence. The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were blazoned forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noises, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore, create silence.”
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Kant has preached in his moral theory that lying is forbidden and that always speaking the truth is a categorical imperative (moral law). In his essay, “Truthfulness and Lies: What Can We Learn from Kant?” Alasdair MacIntyre examines Kant’s notion of radical truthfulness and notes that speaking half-truths in extremely difficult circumstances is allowed under the Kantian moral system. Kant himself used a half-truth to outmaneuver King Friedrich Wilhelm II and the royal censors who were accusing him of disparaging religion in his writings. The censors demanded that Kant should make the pledge that henceforth he would refrain from writing on religion. To assuage the King, Kant made this statement: “As your Majesty’s faithful subject, I shall in the future completely desist from all public lectures or papers concerning religion.” In his essay, MacIntyre quotes Kant as saying that when he made the statement to the King, he knew that the King was old and frail, and not likely to live for too long; when the King died, Kant regarded himself as free of the pledge, since his pledge was made “as your Majesty’s faithful subject” and was valid so long as the Majesty was alive. Thus, Kant could resume writing on religious issues.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:18:00 PM
“You should not sorrow for that which was bound to happen. Those who are wise do not feel sorry over fate. Even with the greatest wisdom, that which is ordained will happen. No one can transgress the path that has been laid down. Time brings existence and non-existence, pleasure and pain. Time creates all elements and time destroys all beings. Time burns all subjects and it is time that extinguishes the fire. Time alone is awake when everything is asleep. Time cannot be conquered. Time walks in all elements, pervasive and impartial. Knowing that everything, past, present and future, is created by time, it is not appropriate that you should be consumed by grief,” says Sanjaya to console the blind King Dhritarashtra who is burning with grief over the death of his sons in the great battle between Kauravas and Pandavas that took place at Kurukshetra (The Mahabharata; Section: “Anukramanika Parva”; Bibek Debroy’s translation)
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Human beings are storytelling beings—their lives are a narrative quest. In his book After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre writes: “I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’” A teleological character can be discerned in every lived narrative, but this does not imply that the life’s purpose is fixed by an external authority; MacIntyre notes that teleology and unpredictability can coexist. He writes: “Like characters in a fictional narrative we do not know what will happen next, but nonetheless our lives have a certain form which projects itself toward our future.” Every life is a narrative quest which aims to reach a certain end, and when a man faces a crossroad, then he moves in the direction in which he thinks he will make a sense out of his life’s narrative. When we make moral choices, we are not exerting our will; we are interpreting the narratives of our life. MacIntyre points out that as an individual, a man cannot identify the good and exercise the virtues—men look at their life as a whole, and they examine the narratives in which they feature. He offers the example of a German who believes that since he was born after 1945, the Nazi crimes are not his moral responsibility. This stance of the German, MacIntyre says, represents a moral shallowness, since it is based on the presumption that the self can be detached from its social and historical narratives. MacIntyre’s narrative account is antithetical to the individualist doctrine. The individualists think that they are what they choose to be, whereas MacIntyre posits that moral reflection requires that I must examine my social and historical narratives.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:22:00 PM
A civilization is not an end in itself; it is a means for the creation of another civilization. When a civilization reaches its highest or lowest point, it is driven by the forces of nature to cross the bridge built over an infinite abyss of oblivion. If the bridge breaks, the civilization descends into the abyss and disappears forever, but if the bridge holds, and the civilization makes it to the other side of the infinite abyss of oblivion, then it transforms into a new civilization, one that is a higher or lower version of the original civilization.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:38:00 AM
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
The modernist notion that the politicians should keep aloof from the issues of morality and good life is antithetical to the ancient notion of politics—Aristotle says that the aim of politics is to create opportunities for good life (a life of virtue) in the city-state. In Book 3 of Politics, he writes: “Any polis which is truly so called, and is not merely one in name, must devote itself to the end of encouraging goodness.” I believe, Aristotle is right—a good life is possible only in a nation which is home to people of good character; so the focus of state has to be on building character. “Before we can [investigate] the nature of an ideal constitution,” Aristotle writes in Book I of Politics, “it is necessary for us first to determine the nature of the most desirable way of life. As long as that is obscure, the nature of the ideal constitution must also remain obscure.” Thus, for Aristotle, the purpose of politics is cultivation of virtue (good character), and the purpose of the constitution is to sustain a desirable way of life. The conception of good life is aligned to the conception of justice.
Monday, January 18, 2021
“There is much filth in the world; that much is true. But that does not make the world itself a filthy monster.” ~ writes Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The world is what it is, an amoral platform which is itself untouched by the activities of men. A few people in the world are the monsters, most are not. The good people have the choice—to out-monster the monsters or be devoured. History regards the people who aspire to out-monster the monsters as the barbarians, but it is always the barbarians who stand at the rise of a civilization, and it is always the statesmen, philosophers, and utopians who preside over the decline of a civilization.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 6:25:00 PM
Friday, January 15, 2021
The tradition of the Vedas is traced to Brahma, the original creator and mover of the universe. That is why the Vedas are called apauruseya, which means impersonal or authorless; most Hindu schools of philosophy accept the Vedas as svatah pramana or self-evident means of knowledge. Since Brahma created the Vedas at the same time when he created the rest of the universe, this text is timeless and has been available in every era in the history of the universe. In my opinion, from this traditional account of the origin of the Vedas, it can be inferred that all philosophical knowledge is as old as humanity itself. There are no original thinkers in philosophy; every good philosopher is inspired by the common knowledge which the humans have been accumulating since the time when the first humans appeared on earth. Individual philosophers will present their philosophical thought in their own words, they will develop their own original arguments, but the thought and the wisdom is much older, it is common knowledge.
Posted by Anoop Verma at 8:44:00 AM
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Immanuel Kant notes that man exists in two spaces—one physical, the other mental. He calls the mental space the realm of intelligibility, which, he argues, grants man the power of autonomy (freedom) and the potential to be moral. Thus while the material world creates deterministic outcomes or bondages for man, the mental world creates autonomy, which is the necessary condition for accepting a moral way of life. Man has the potential to be moral because, by virtue of existence in the mental space, he has free will. Since man exists in both the spaces, his life is a battleground of the concerns that are purely material and the ones that are purely mental—man constantly confronts the gap between what is (the material facts) and what ought to be (the perfectionist mental notions). Another important argument that Kant makes is that it is not possible for a man to give up his freedom, since freedom is a natural or biological feature of the mental space—in his own mind, a man is always free to think or not to think, and even if a man opts to become a slave, he is free in the sense that he is exercising his natural autonomy to make the choice of being enslaved. Kant accepts that freedom and morality are not the kind of things that science can prove or disprove. The laws of science are applicable only in the physical and biological space and not in the mental space.
Empathy for one’s culture and tradition is the key to gaining freedom from the past and charting a new future. Those who despise their culture and tradition are overwhelmed by the baggage of history. Their mental resources are squandered in hatefully obsessing about the deeds of their ancestors and historical events, and they become filled with loathing for themselves, their countrymen, and their nation’s culture. All kinds of negative thoughts dull their mind and it becomes impossible for them to move in the direction of a future that is free of the past; thus they remain a prisoner of the past, the one that they despise.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
A civil war or revolution is not the conservative way. Conservatism was founded in eighteenth century Britain as a reaction to the great violence of the French Revolution. The British conservatives wanted to have a political system in which there is no risk of a revolution or civil war and peace and stability is guaranteed—they opted for the conservative model which, based on the teachings of Edmund Burke, works by finding a compromise between the demands of the political groups, who demand adherence to tradition, and those who demand rapid transformation. It is against the conservative DNA to rebel; no matter how hard they are pushed, the conservatives will try to find a compromise to prevent any political situation from getting out of control and destroying peace and stability. The British conservative model has worked quite well not only in Britain but also in the USA and several other countries where conservative movements have germinated—countries like Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Germany, Sweden. Since the eighteenth century there has not been a single large-scale revolution or civil war in any country with powerful conservative presence. The conservative idea of having peace and stability at any price has probably played a seminal role in saving the world from a nuclear holocaust, between the 1960s and 1991, when the USA was engaged in a cold war with the Soviet Union. The cold war was not allowed to become hot because the USA, in this period, was wholly conservative—the Americans made all kinds of compromises with the Soviets to ensure that the cold war remained cold; they never did anything that would incite the Soviets to launch a nuclear attack. If the USA of this period had been as leftist as it is in the twenty-first century, then it is possible that the leftist hotheads would have allowed the cold war to become hot, resulting in large parts of this planet being turned into a nuclear wasteland.
The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, in the verse 1.4.14, describes the creation of dharma, which is righteousness and justice. Here’s a translation of the verse:
“Yet, he [the Brahman, the prime author of the universe] was not flourishing. So he created on himself another excellent form, which is the form of dharma. This dharma is the power and duty of the kshatriya class (ruling class) and hence there is nothing better than dharma. Through dharma, a weak man might overcome a strong man, as one does through a king. That which is dharma is the truth. Thus it is said by those who speak the truth: “He speaks dharma” and “He speaks truth”—both statements have the same meaning.”
This verse denotes the supremacy of rule of law. All kings (all kshatriyas who enjoy political power) must be subordinate to dharma. The Brahman was concerned that the kshatriya class, being fierce, might become unruly and start oppressing the masses. That is why he created the excellent form of dharma which would motivate the kshatriyas to serve as the righteous and truthful defenders of rule of law. Dharma enjoins the powerful to use their power for the good of everyone by implementing the divine law.
Satya (truth) and dharma (righteousness and justice) are organically related. When there is dharma, there is truth; when dharma fails, there is a regime of adharma (injustice) and asatya (lies).
Posted by Anoop Verma at 9:47:00 AM
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
The American left is a unique phenomenon in the sense that it is an elitist kind of left; it is inspired by the ideas of the Frankfurt school and other neo-liberal thinkers, and is led by millionaires and billionaires. The elitist left is not ideological, it is moved by nihilistic and feudal tendencies; for them culture is a myth, and the masses are serfs. They preach socialism, multiculturalism, and environmentalism, but their privileged lifestyle is funded by the revenues from capitalist oligarchies—they exercise monopolistic control over the digital industry, the arts and entertainment industry, the mainstream media, and academia. The leftist movements which acquired power in Eastern Europe and large parts of Asia in the twentieth century were the Bolshevik left. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Bolshevik left mutated into the fascistic left. In Western Europe and India, the Fabian left dominated politics until the 1980s; after the 1980s, the Fabian left has been overtaken by the environmentalist and the American-style elitist left.
Immanuel Kant grounds his moral theory in deontology, but he is not preaching subservience to the commandments. He talks about autonomy, but he is not preaching the anarchist type of total freedom. In Kant’s moral philosophy, deontology and autonomy go together. He holds that it is your duty to obey the moral law (categorical imperative) only if you have the autonomy to be the author of that categorical imperative. Once you have authored the categorical imperative (accepted it) as the right way, it becomes your duty to obey. The man who adheres to a categorical imperative, does it because it is a categorical imperative of his own choice. In the Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant writes: “The dignity of man consists precisely in his capacity to make universal law, although only on condition of being himself also subject to the law he makes.” Kant holds that when we choose our own categorical imperative, we make the choice not as individuals but as rational beings, or the men who participate in, what Kant calls, “Pure practical reason”—the will to act with autonomy (independently) is the same as the will to act in accordance to the categorical imperative. This ensures that all rational people opt for the same categorical imperative and the society enjoys the benefit of a common code of morality.