Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Normative Statements are not Objective or Subjective

The statements which express moral, political, and aesthetic ideals are neither subjective nor objective. They are normative. 

The subjective statements represent the matters of personal taste and feelings; for example: “I like black coffee,” “The political situation makes me feel sad,” “Modern art is rubbish.” The objective statements are logical and descriptive; for example: “The dog is barking,” “2+2=4,” “Lenin was the founder of the Soviet Union." The normative statements are the statements of value—they are not verifiable and they cannot be connected to personal states of the mind; for example: “Liars are sinners,” “Honesty is the best policy,” “Capitalism is better than socialism,” “Rembrandt was a great artist.” 

A fully-rational system of morality, politics, and art cannot be developed because the normative statements are not based on objective criteria—they transcend rationality. The origin of some of the normative statements can be traced to the ancient and the prehistoric times.

“The Past Is Not Dead. It's Not Even past”

In his line, “The past is not dead. It's not even past,” William Faulkner is referring to the paradox of time. We live in the past, the present exists in our mind as an abstraction, and the future never arrives. The moment you say, “right now”—that moment is gone; it is past; it is history. You can reminisce about the past, you may try to understand it, but you no longer live in it. By paraphrasing Faulkner, a philosophical point can be made: “The past philosophies are not dead. They aren’t even past.” Philosophical ideas never die. On the wings of new arguments, they keep coming back in age after age, giving rise to insights, new controversies, new clashes, and new collaborations.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A Passage From Jack London’s The Sea-Wolf

An exchange between Humphrey van Weyden and Wolf Larsen, in Jack London's The Sea-Wolf

"But history tells of slaves who rose to the purple," I chided.

"And history tells of opportunities that came to the slaves who rose to the purple," he answered grimly. "No man makes opportunity. All the great men ever did was to know it when it came to them. The Corsican knew. I have dreamed as greatly as the Corsican. I should have known the opportunity, but it never came. The thorns sprung up and choked me. And, Hump, I can tell you that you know more about me than any living man, except my own brother.”

"And what is he? And where is he?”

"Master of the steamship Macedonia, seal-hunter," was the answer. "We will meet him most probably on the Japan coast. Men call him 'Death' Larsen.”

"Death Larsen!" I involuntarily cried. "Is he like you?”

"Hardly. He is a lump of an animal without any head. He has all my—my—”

"Brutishness," I suggested.

“Yes,—thank you for the word,—all my brutishness, but he can scarcely read or write.”

"And he has never philosophized on life," I added.

"No," Wolf Larsen answered, with an indescribable air of sadness. "And he is all the happier for leaving life alone. He is too busy living it to think about it. My mistake was in ever opening the books."

Modernity: The New Oedipus

The fate of modernity is like the fate of Oedipus; it has been left to die of neglect at the mountainside on the orders of its Western father (who has transmogrified into a King Laius-like decadent figure). Modernity might die. The world might revert to a premodern way of life. But that will not happen—like Oedipus, modernity will survive through the care of a foster father (a King Polybus-like figure, who could be China, or Japan, or Russia; perhaps India). Modernity, a child of the West, will become a force that is antithetical to its parents. It will attack the West as Oedipus attacked King Laius.

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Masses And The Elites

There are two kinds of men: the masses and the elites. The masses use their senses, instinct, habits, wisdom, and their sense of morality and traditions; they think of man as he is thought to be. The elites use their reason, rationalizations, intelligence, and their notions of power and perfection; they think of man as he ought to be. In Cartesian terms, the masses are therefore they think, whereas the elites think therefore they are. In Lockean terms, the masses have the body and the soul, whereas the elites have the body but no soul. In Kantian terms, the masses inhabit the phenomenon world, whereas the elites inhabit the noumenon world. In Hegelian terms, the masses are the thesis, whereas the elites are the antithesis.

Nietzsche: The Philosopher’s Intellectual Conscience

“A very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions!” ~ says Nietzsche (in his notes). This is a good point. A philosopher should have an intellectual conscience. He should be capable of arguing against himself. Whenever he develops a new philosophical position, he should remind himself that I may be wrong, I may be very wrong, I may be hopelessly wrong.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Full Belly Libertarianism

While communism is the movement of people with an empty belly (the starving masses), libertarianism is a movement of people with a full belly (the filthy rich). The only country where libertarianism has gained a substantial following is the full-belly USA. There are no libertarians in the poor countries where the empty belly folks live.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Kaufmann: Critique of Religion and Philosophy

“Modern philosophy has not yielded any remotely acceptable picture of man. The thinkers of the Enlightenment showed too little understanding of religion and art, feeling, passion, and the imagination; and neither romanticism nor any modern philosophy has produced a conception of man that would even tempt us to assent.” ~ Walter Kaufmann in his book Critique of Religion and Philosophy

Kaufmann notes that the inheritors of the legacy of the Enlightenment thinkers, the professors of philosophy in today’s universities, are mired in lifeless scholasticism. “Whatever professors of philosophy take up nowadays tends to become scholastic, and the rigor of the scholastics is rigor mortis… Scholasticism has not changed its ways. Rigor sets in after the life has been driven out of its parts. To creep is a virtue, to leap a vice, and speed the sin of the spirit. As for “The Philosophic Flight” (the title of the first chapter of this book), that is to the scholastic a contradiction in terms.”

Friday, March 26, 2021

Senility and the Superpowers

“Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”—an Ancient Greek saying. The Gods do something similar to the superpowers that they wish to destroy—they first drive them mad or senile. The great superpower of the twentieth century, the Soviet Union, went senile in the 1980s and was finished in 1991. 

On 12 November 1982, the Soviet Union gave a public display of the senility of its political establishment by promoting Yuri Andropov, a sick man, to the post of General Secretary. Within three months of being in office, Andropov suffered total kidney failure; he spent the rest of his life in the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow where, for long periods, he was unconscious. He died on 9 February 1984. 

Konstantin Chernenko, who succeeded Andropov as General Secretary on 13 February 1984, was also in an advanced stage of mental and physical decline. It was rumored that he used to forget that he was holding the highest political office in the Soviet Union. Before his public appearances, his aides used to remind him of who he was. Within weeks of taking office, he was rushed to the Central Clinical Hospital where he spent much of the remainder of his life. He died on 10 March 1985. 

A day later, Mikhail Gorbachev, who was young, healthy, and charismatic, was made the General Secretary. But Gorbachev could not be the savior of the Soviet Union—he was an ignorant and naive leader. In his hurry to catch up with America, he took a series of disastrous decisions, including the policy of Glasnost and Perestroika, which was antithetical to the character of the Soviet Union. 

When simultaneous rebellions erupted in several towns and cities in Russia and Eastern Europe, Gorbachev was taken by surprise and he could not act decisively to crush the rebels. His weakness emboldened the rebels, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. Two years later, in 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved, leaving the USA as the world’s only superpower.

The Terrible Tragedy of History

History is a terrible tragedy. It is a tragedy because it tells you about the fragility of civilizations, and it is terrible because it gives you a vague sense that the decline and fall of your own civilization is inevitable. All civilizations are doomed. The history of all existing civilizations will one day be read by the future generations as a terrible tragedy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Chambers On the Two Faiths: Freedom and Communism

In his book Witness, Whittaker Chambers talks of “this sick society, which we call Western civilization,” locked in a deadly struggle between “the two irreconcilable faiths of our time—Communism and Freedom.” Chambers is right in describing “freedom” as a faith. The philosophy of freedom is a sort of religion, which preaches the establishment of a promised land where there is total freedom. 

After the First World War, the idea of freedom took a utopian trajectory through the work of a wide range of classical liberal and leftist thinkers: I can think of the nihilistic notion of total freedom developed by the Neo-Marxists (the Frankfurt School, the Fabian Society, and the anti-fascists like Gramsci), the ersatz individualism in Ayn Rand’s utopian fiction, and the utopian stateless society of Rothbard.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Letter from Whittaker Chambers to William F. Buckley, Jr.

In a 1954 letter to Whittaker Chambers, William F. Buckley, Jr. expressed the hope that National Review would play a role in stopping the communists from wrecking the West. In his reply, dated August 5, 1954, Chambers crushed Buckley’s hopes. 

Chambers begins his letter by declaring that it is too late to stop the communists: “I no longer believe that political solutions are possible for us. I am baffled by the way people still speak of the West as if it were at least a cultural unity against Communism though it is divided not only by a political, but by an invisible cleavage. On one side are the voiceless masses with their own subdivisions and fractures. On the other side is the enlightened, articulate elite which, to one degree or other, has rejected the religious roots of the civilization—the roots without which it is no longer Western civilization, but a new order of beliefs, attitudes and mandates.” 

Chambers then notes that communism did not originate in Russia; it is a Western creation: “In short, this is the order of which Communism is one logical expression, originating not in Russia, but in the culture capitals of the West, reaching Russia by clandestine delivery via the old underground centers in Cracow, Vienna, Berne, Zurich, and Geneva.”

He ends his letter with these lines: “It is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of Western civilization. It is already a wreck from within. That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury them secretly in a flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and truth.”

Monday, March 22, 2021

Machiavelli: History as Cyclical Returns

Machiavelli sees history as cyclical returns, a succession of ups and downs. In The Discourses, he notes that customs and laws are necessary since “men are more prone to evil than to good.” This trait of men ensures that history oscillates between the bad and the good, with the bad being in control more often and over longer periods of time. 

Lady Fortuna, the goddess of fortune, possesses a mercurial character and plays a pivotal role in the succession of ups and downs. In The Prince, Machiavelli says that all rulers, despite their craftiness, ruthlessness, and wisdom, are playthings in the hands of Lady Fortuna. In his essay, “On Fortune,” he writes: “Lady Fortuna turns states and kingdoms upside down as she pleases; she deprives the just of the good that she freely gives to the unjust.”  

Political stability is unattainable—things tend to degenerate till an absolute bottom is reached and from there a recovery is made in case of some nations, and fortune alone has the true suzerainty over men’s political affairs.

No form of government is immune to failure. In The Discourses, Machiavelli observes: “For a Monarchy readily becomes a Tyranny, an Aristocracy an Oligarchy, while a Democracy tends to degenerate into Anarchy. So that if the founder of a State should establish any one of these three forms of Government, he establishes it for a short time only, since no precaution he may take can prevent it from sliding into its contrary, by reason of the close resemblance which, in this case, the virtue bears to the vice.” 

The greatest threat to a state, Machiavelli says, comes from the feeble princes: “no kingdom can stand when two feeble princes follow in succession.”

Kołakowski: On the Utopian Mentality

The utopian mentality is devoid of historical consciousness; it views the past as evil and oppressive and does not believe in stage by stage advancement from one level of existence to the next. Leszek Kołakowski has given a good description of the utopian mentality that has been the driver of European politics since the eighteenth century: “History is portrayed as catastrophic, not evolutionary… There is a radical discontinuity between the world as it is and as it will be; a violent leap is needed to do away with the past; a new time will start.” The utopians ignore the will of the people, and advocate despotic means for achieving their promised land. Kołakowski defines the idea of utopia as “a desperate desire to attain absolute perfection; this desire is a degraded remnant of the religious legacy in nonreligious minds.”

Sunday, March 21, 2021

“He loved Big Brother”

What if there is an Orwellian climax to the totalitarian turn that the world has taken in the year 2020? What if instead of fighting back to regain the civil liberties that they have lost, people submit to their oppressors, in the manner of Winston Smith, the protagonist in Orwell’s novel 1984, whose mentality is described in the end of the novel with a pithy chilling line: “He loved Big Brother.” Perhaps mankind’s ultimate destiny is to transform into the docile and dumb creatures whose most discerning feature is that they love their oppressor: they love Big Brother.

On Nietzsche’s Pessimistic View of Civilization

Nietzsche was filled with doubts about the future of civilization. In The Anti-Christ, he writes: “Mankind does not represent a development toward something better or stronger or higher in the sense accepted today. ‘Progress’ is merely a modern idea, that is, a false idea. The European of today is vastly inferior in value to the European of the Renaissance: further development is altogether not according to any necessity in the direction of elevation, enhancement, or strength.” In his Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche laments: “Nothing avails: one must go forward—step by step further into decadence (that is my definition of modern ‘progress’)."

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Gibbon: Savage Kingdoms Versus Civilization

In Volume Six of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon contemplates the possibility of barbarians from the savage kingdoms annihilating his own Western Civilization, just as the Germanic Barbarians (the Visigoths) had annihilated the Roman Empire. He writes that while the barbarians might manage to cause some harm to the West, they will not “injure our general state of happiness, the system of arts, and laws, and manners, which so advantageously distinguish, above the rest of mankind, the Europeans and their colonies.”

In the line that follows the above-quoted line, he is back to talking about the “savage nations” in Eastern Europe and Asia sending their barbarian hordes to destroy the West. “The savage nations of the globe are the common enemies of civilized society; and we may inquire with anxious curiosity, whether Europe is still threatened with a repetition of those calamities which formerly oppressed the arms and institutions of Rome. Perhaps the same reflections will illustrate the fall of that mighty empire, and explain the probable causes of our actual security.” 

Gibbon believed that the military superiority of the West would render it invulnerable to the barbarian invaders. He thought that the barbarian cultures would learn from the West and become civilized. He did not see any parallel between the West and the Roman Empire. “Europe is secure from any future irruption of Barbarians; since, before they can conquer, they must cease to be barbarous. Their gradual advances in the science of war would always be accompanied, as we may learn from the example of Russia, with a proportionable improvement in the arts of peace and civil policy; and they themselves must deserve a place among the polished nations whom they subdue."

Gibbon naively believed that the nations which possess the knowledge of science and arts would not be savage and were unlikely to attack other nations. The truth is that the primitive nations seldom attack other nations, mainly because they lack the resources for fighting a great war. Most great wars have been started by nations that are highly developed. Gibbon does not realize that the threat to the West might arise from within, by the emergence of new, more horrific forms of barbarism, under ideologically motivated leaders like Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini.

Four Philosophers: Four Views of the State of Nature

Hobbes was horrified by the idea of life in the state of nature. He depicts the state of nature as an environment in which there is no property, no security, no possibility of practical arts; where man’s life is marked by violence and fear, and is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” 

Half a century after Hobbes came Locke, who discovered a different kind of state of nature, in which people possessed natural rights, and their property was secure, because agricultural land belonged naturally to the man who did the farming. Another half a century passed, and along came Montesquieu who philosophized about a state of nature where men were a timid lot, so timid that they avoided war and violence. And finally, there came Rousseau, in whose writing the state of nature becomes a sort of Eden of liberty—a place where man is endowed with natural rights and is free.

In a span of three hundred years (sixteenth century to eighteenth century), four major philosophers have presented four different conceptions of the state of nature. What was dystopia for Hobbes got transformed, as if by the magic of philosophy, into a utopia by the time Rousseau had finished his work.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Philosophical Question: What is man?

The question that the philosophers have been trying to answer for several millennia is: What is man? The scientific definitions of man can be found inside man—in his genetic composition, his mental state, his psychology, his physical features, his attributes like rationality, morality, and faith, his ability to use language, his power to be political and appreciate art. But a scientific definition is not what the philosophers are questing for. For the philosophers, the question—“what is man?”—is not a materialistic or objective question; for them, the question means “what can man become?” The philosophers seek the answers to such questions: What is man’s ultimate potential? What is the ultimate goal that he is supposed to reach? What is the real purpose of mankind? Will the day arrive when man will create life in his own image? The philosophers want to predict man’s ultimate future on the basis of man’s past and man’s present.

The End of Modernity

In his Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, Karl Marx writes, “No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions for their existence have matured in the womb of the old society. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.” This is an interesting point. Perhaps modernity is perishing because all the potential productive forces of the modern framework have already been developed; now it is no longer possible for the modern man to make further progress. He must either move to a new level, a sort of modernity 2.0, or he must descend to the lower pre-modern levels. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Schopenhauer: Religion and Philosophy

Religion is the philosophy of the masses, while philosophy is the religion of the intellectuals. This argument is made by Schopenhauer in his novella Religion: A Dialogue, which is a debate between two characters Demopheles, who is a theist, and Philalethes, who is anti-religion. Here’s a sample of the lines that Demopheles speaks: “Religion is the metaphysics of the masses; by all means let them keep it: let it therefore command external respect, for to discredit it is to take it away. Just as they have popular poetry, and the popular wisdom of proverbs, so they must have popular metaphysics too: for mankind absolutely needs an interpretation of life; and this, again, must be suited to popular comprehension.” In this novella, Schopenhauer goes against the vision of absolute atheism, which was articulated by the Enlightenment philosophers in the eighteenth century. He recognizes the need for harmony between science and faith, and argues that both religion and philosophy play important roles in man’s life.

A Long Sentence by Descartes

A 206-word sentence by René Descartes: 

“Notwithstanding this, I am in no degree desirous to lessen the honor which each of them can justly claim; I am only constrained to say, for the consolation of those who have not given their attention to study, that just as in traveling, when we turn our back upon the place to which we were going, we recede the farther from it in proportion as we proceed in the new direction for a greater length of time and with greater speed, so that, though we may be afterwards brought back to the right way, we cannot nevertheless arrive at the destined place as soon as if we had not moved backwards at all; so in philosophy, when we make use of false principles, we depart the farther from the knowledge of truth and wisdom exactly in proportion to the care with which we cultivate them, and apply ourselves to the deduction of diverse consequences from them, thinking that we are philosophizing well, while we are only departing the farther from the truth; from which it must be inferred that they who have learned the least of all that has been hitherto distinguished by the name of philosophy are the most fitted for the apprehension of truth.” ~ (from The Principles of Philosophy by Descartes; Chapter: Letter of the Author)

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

On the Youthful Fascination with Pop Philosophers

Why are pop philosophers popular with the young but are discarded by the older folks? The answer is that when the young read such philosophers, they do so with an attitude of “heroic fury and aspiration”—they are not looking for mere philosophical knowledge; they are looking for a vindication of an ideal that they desperately want to believe in. They want to believe in the possibility of a utopia, and they think that the pop philosophy will somehow help them in creating it. They submerge their youthful personality into the pop philosophy, but when they grow older, the knowledge of other readings and the wisdom gained from life’s hard experiences kicks in, and they recognize the inconsistencies and stupidities in the pop philosophy that they had so naively accepted. They have now reached the stage where they can study without succumbing to the false hope of finding the ultimate answers to life’s grave questions.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Feuerbach’s Assertion On Man’s Nature

Ludwig Feuerbach’s assertion, “Man is what he eats,” has been interpreted in various ways. The vapid interpretation is that Feuerbach is asserting that man’s thinking is related to the food he eats. But if this were true, then the kitchens, and not the political and intellectual movements, and the revolutions and civil wars, would be the drivers of world history. This is contrary to historical evidence. Feuerbach is not talking about the food that man eats. By the phrase, “what he eats,” he means man’s economic and sociological conditions of existence taken as a whole. He is positing that every economic and social group has its own diet. Therefore, the assertion—“Man is what he eats”—can be restated as “Man is what his culture is,” or “Man is what his nation is.”

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Solipsism of Tolstoy

Tolstoy has said that in his boyhood days, he was fascinated by skepticism to such an extent that his mind took flights of solipsism. Here’s an excerpt from his book Childhood, Boyhood and Youth (Chapter 19; “Boyhood” section): “But by none of my philosophical tendencies was I so carried away as by skepticism, which at one time brought me into a state bordering on madness. I fancied that besides myself nobody existed in the universe, that objects were not objects at all, but images which appeared only when I paid attention to them, and that as soon as I left off thinking of them these images immediately disappeared. In a word, I coincided with Schelling in the conviction that not objects exist but my relation to them. There were moments when, under the influence of this idée fixe, I reached such a state of insanity that I sometimes looked rapidly round to one side, hoping suddenly to find nothingness where I was not.” In my opinion, it is understandable that in his youth, Tolstoy became fascinated by the solipsist (subjectivist) position. To prepare himself mentally for being a writer of great novels, he had to view himself at the center of the world, as the world’s only mind, one that sees all and can write about all.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Coexistence of Quality and Quantity

All things have a quality and a quantity—there cannot be a quality without a quantity, and a quantity without a quality. This means that there cannot be a good economy (quantity) without an equally good culture (quality); there cannot be material progress (quantity) without an equivalent amount of intellectual progress (quality). While quantity is empirical (objective) and measurable (in most cases), quality is often abstract (subjective) and its measurement is a controversial subject, because it can be influenced by the taste, sensibility, and the philosophical, political, and aesthetic opinions of the people who do the measuring.

Friday, March 12, 2021

The Consequence of Totalitarian Social Hypocrisy

We live in the age of totalitarian social hypocrisy. The masses are coerced to practice certain virtues, but those who preach these virtues do not practice them, although they venerate the virtues in their speech. This totalitarian social hypocrisy has an unexpected consequence: nihilism. When the masses have absorbed the virtues, which they do not understand and find absurd, they lose faith in the possibility of having a virtuous life—and then there is a decline in their moral and intellectual standards and they become nihilistic. There is a way of countering the problem of totalitarian social hypocrisy: totalitarian response from the other side. Fight totalitarianism with totalitarianism. A totalitarian political action (by a traditionalist political force) has to be mustered to uproot the regime of totalitarian social hypocrisy. The hypocritical elites must be destroyed, and a crop of new elites must be created.

Machiavelli and Trump: The Unarmed Prophets

Donald Trump is an unarmed prophet. He is popular, it seems. But he does not have the backing of the American elite class, who know how to develop a winning political strategy, and the bureaucratic and revolutionary forces, who know how to fight street level political battles. Therefore, Trump cannot be an effective politician. The term “unarmed prophet” comes from Machiavelli’s The Prince. Machiavelli brands Savonarola as the unarmed prophet, whose political mission must end in disaster because he does not enjoy the backing of an army of armed followers. The irony is that Machiavelli was plagued with the same deficiency for which he chastises Savonarola—he too was an unarmed prophet. Machiavelli was not a mere political theorist. He was a man of powerful political passions. He aspired to be a revolutionary and fight for the creation of a new Republic, one that would be formed by uniting the states of Italy. He was a partisan, an active politician. He wanted to overthrow the existing balance of political forces in Italy and make space for a new balance which would be Republican. In his books, when he is talking about historical events several centuries in the past, Machiavelli keeps commenting on what “ought to be” the political reality of present day Italy. Since he was an unarmed prophet, Machiavelli’s political mission could not be fulfilled in his lifetime.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Politics is Not a Game of Numbers

Most people accept the banal notion that in a democracy political power comes through numbers. They naively believe that the politician who attracts the largest crowds will win the election, and that the opinion of the folks in the small towns and rural areas carry the same weight in the politics of their country as the opinion of the shrewd and wealthy elites dwelling in the cities. But it is not true at all that numbers decide the character of the government. Even if the elections are held in a fair manner, and the political group that enjoys overwhelming support in the smaller towns and rural areas wins, the new government will pay more attention to the needs of the urban elites. This is because the urban elites are well connected; they know how to subvert the political system; they are capable of using all kinds of intellectual, bureaucratic, journalistic, and legal maneuvers to coerce the government.

Machiavelli: Two Ways of Politics

“There are two ways of fighting: by law or by force. The first way is natural to men, and the second to beasts. But as the first way often proves inadequate one must needs have recourse to the second. So a prince must understand how to make a nice use of the beast and the man. The ancient writers taught princes about this by an allegory, when they described how Achilles and many other princes of the ancient world were sent to be brought up by Chiron, the centaur, so that he might train them his way. All the allegory means, in making the teacher half beast and half man, is that a prince must know how to act according to the nature of both, and that he cannot survive otherwise.” ~ Machiavelli in The Prince

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Modern Prince and the Jacobins

In his Prison Notebooks, the Italian communist thinker Antonio Gramsci calls Machiavelli the “precocious Jacobin” in whose work, The Prince, political ideology and political science get represented not in the form of a utopia or a scholarly treatise but in the dramatic form of a myth. 

He exhorts the communist party to act as the Modern Prince and use Jacobin force to bring communism in society. Developing a union between Modern Prince and Jacobinism means ending the conflict between the myth and the critique of the myth—or between the utopian (revolutionary) and the reactionary (counterrevolutionary). Gramsci says that the communist movements must strive to hold together in a dialectical unity the utopian enterprise and the reaction to the utopian enterprise. 

The liberals can be viewed as the inheritors of Gramsci’s communism—they operate by holding in a dialectical unity the forces which can act to create the utopia (bureaucracy, financial institutions, law and order machinery, and big businesses) and the forces which can try to counter the utopia (academia, media, and entertainment industry).

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The Fascist Mathematics

Mathematics is fascist because it does not accept the ruses of dialectics. It is unacceptable that for every equation, mathematics gives the factually correct answer and never the politically correct answer. By consistently presenting a systematic and rational view of the universe, mathematics violates the rights of those who want the universe to be unsystematic and irrational; it denies man the liberty to indulge his anti-objective impulses. It might not be possible to ban mathematics, but this subject has to be regulated to ensure that it serves the common good. A classless and humane society cannot be created until mathematics is rescued from its fascistic foundations.

The Decline of a Civilization

The decline of a civilization comes as a surprise to the political, intellectual, and financial elite who are thriving in that civilization—they live under the delusion that they are entitled to every bit of the power, prosperity, and prestige that they have been enjoying, and that while bad things might happen to other people, they are themselves safe, for there is no power that can dislodge them from their supreme position. The interpretation of why their civilization is declining lags behind and catches up with the elite when all is already lost. They are the last to realize that their civilization has fallen and that they have become the losers of history.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Familiarity Breeds Contempt and Ignorance

“What is familiarly known is not properly known, just for the reason that it is familiar.” ~ Hegel. 

To Hegel’s statement, the old proverb “familiarity breeds contempt” can be added to reach the conclusion that the notion of familiarity leads to two pitfalls: contempt and ignorance. When people are psyched into believing that they are familiar with something, they do not try to investigate that thing. 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 view of culture and history, fills people with the notion that they are familiar with their nation’s past and present, and its future prospects. As their notion of familiarity is devoid of understanding, they become contemptuous of everything and start feeling alienated.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Wrong Mountain of Utilitarians and Libertarians

Rejecting the claims of the British utilitarians, Nietzsche said, “Man does not seek happiness; only the Englishman does that.” Nietzsche’s saying 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 a stable economy and decent culture is what most people desire. When the utilitarians talk about happiness, and the libertarians talk about liberty and rights, they are indulging in metaphysical fiction—they are exhorting their followers to climb the wrong mountain. The right mountain, which people are naturally driven to climb, is the one which leads to a place with a stable economy and good culture.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Krishna and Arjuna: A Civilization in Crisis

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 the population and subduing the enemies, and the philosophers (the men of 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 Mahabharata war began, Arjuna was eager for battle. He was constantly making the case for a swift military action, but he was being held back by Krishna who insisted that a war would be too destructive and that they should negotiate to achieve a peaceful solution. But once the war started and the two armies were standing opposite each other, Arjuna wanted to abandon the battlefield because he did not want to commit the sin of mass slaughter, but now Krishna insisted that the war must be fought. 

Krishna delivered the sermon of the Gita to Arjuna to make him realize that it was his duty to fight the “dharmayuddha” (the holy war for justice), and that if he walked out of the battlefield he would be committing a grave sin which would lead to the annihilation of their civilization.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Hegel and Derrida: On Prefaces

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.

The Utopia of Nihilism

Like the insects which throw themselves into fire because they are mesmerized by light and heat, the Western liberals are 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

Nietzsche and Ayn Rand: The Overman’s Psychological Problem

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 unheard 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, single minded, and alienated protagonists in Ayn Rand’s novels—Howard Roark and John Galt—who will walk over corpses to transform their society into a Randian utopia.

Ayn Rand was a naive and totalitarian thinker. She believed that history is moved through the actions of the Overmen who would dominate the less capable humans. Her conception of the Overman is more extreme and unworkable than the Overman of Nietzsche’s conception.

Multinational Corporations Are “Quasi-Private” Property

The multinationals are not private companies; they are “quasi-private” companies. They symbolize political power—they are part of the global ruling class. 

I say this for four reasons: first, the multinationals 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 democratic countries, the multinationals 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.