Saturday, February 24, 2024

Karl Sigmund’s ‘Exact Thinking in Demented Times’

I am reading Karl Sigmund’s Exact Thinking in Demented Times

The book narrates the story of the Vienna Circle that was spearheading logical positivism, during the 1930s, in the backdrop of Nazism in Germany, Bolshevism in the Soviet Union and Neo-colonialism in Britain. The philosophers of the Vienna Circle believed that exact philosophical and scientific thinking is possible to human beings. They believed that they were on the verge of discovering the “ultimate metaphysical truth,” through which they would be able to explain every philosophical and scientific truth known to mankind. Wittgenstein was initially an important philosopher for the logical positivists, but his work, the logical positivists soon realized, was useless.

As they continued their deliberations, the Vienna Circle found itself descending deeper and deeper into a philosophical rabbit hole from which it could not extricate itself. The quest for ultimate metaphysical truth petered out by the time the Second World War ended. Having failed to find the ultimate metaphysical truth, Vienna Circle broke apart.

What do the liberals fear? What do the liberals like?

Liberals fear two things—first, the influence of the religious and cultural elites; second, a popular uprising which might empower the poor and middle classes. 

The sections of society with which the liberals are very comfortable are the intellectuals, the oligarchs and the Deep State. The intellectuals are primarily the leaders of the big universities, mainstream media companies, entertainment and sports industry, the artistic establishment and the progressive think tanks. The top bankers, industrialists and tycoons are the oligarchs. The Deep State consists of the bureaucracy, judiciary and the military establishment.

When the liberals capture power, they focus on denigrating and weakening the religious and cultural elites. They indoctrinate, brainwash and divide the poor and the middle classes to make it impossible for them to unite to fight for their political and economic rights. The liberals also take steps to increase the power and wealth of the intellectuals, oligarchs and the Deep State.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Conservatives versus leftists: Why does leftism have the upper hand?

The idea that the conservatives will save the world from Marxism, socialism, communism, nihilism and religious fundamentalism is wholly ignorant and naive. The principle of conservatism is to conserve the traditions. If the tradition is Marxist, socialist, communist, nihilist and religious fundamentalist, then that is what the conservatives will conserve. 

The conservatives cannot protect culture because they lack ideas and vision to differentiate between culture and counterculture. All conservative movements are plagued with intense divisions about which traditions they should conserve: Should they conserve the traditions of 2000 years ago or the traditions that existed 500 or 100 or 20 years ago? 

In most democratic nations, the conservative leaders are easily tricked by the leftist intellectuals into accepting the elements of counterculture as their traditions which must be saved. In any political battle between leftism and conservatism, the left will always win in the long run because the conservatives will end up fighting to save counterculture.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

History: The mythologies and philosophies of civilizational decline and fall

We examine the history of past civilizations through the stories of decline and fall. 

When civilization is being built, the society is led by men of action—warriors, engineers, explorers, slavers, expansionist politicians, traders, and preachers of mythology and religion. There are hardly any men of ideas or intellectuals—philosophers, writers, historians, academics—in a rising civilization to imagine and propagate history. 

It is when things start falling apart, when there is irreversible economic, cultural and political collapse, that the class of intellectuals comes into being and they start philosophizing, fictionalizing and mythologizing the history of civilization and its people. The intellectuals are not the fountainhead of civilizations; they are the climax. 

After the intellectuals have done their work, civilization gets wiped out: The collective memory fades, traditions are lost and the survivors of the civilizational collapse flee in different directions to find a new identity and home.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Democracies: Battleground of nationalists & counter-nationalists

Every Democratic nation is a battleground of two irreconcilable forces: the nationalists and the counter-nationalists. 

The nationalists fight for the cultural, financial and political aspirations of the majority community and the counter-nationalist force represents the anger, alienation and destructive aspirations of the politically active minority groups. In most democracies the nationalists enjoy mass support but the intellectual classes, being alienated by the political and cultural power of the nationalists, tend to gravitate towards the counter-nationalist side. Such intellectuals try to develop theories and arguments which denigrate the nationalist project while glorifying the counter-nationalists. 

When there is a balance of power between the nationalists and the counter-nationalists, there is peace and stability. But if the intellectuals are successful in refuting and discrediting the mythologies and legends, which inspire the nationalist groups to be politically and culturally dominant in the nation, then the balance of power shifts, resulting in political instability and there is civil war or full-fledged war.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

On Shlomo Sand’s history book: The Invention of the Jewish People

I am inspired by the books of Leon Uris, especially his book Exodus, which describes the founding of the nation of Israel. But I have always known that Exodus is not a book of history—it is full of falsehoods and is a work of fiction. 

In this book Uris has contrived a fictional account of the founding of Israel against the backdrop of his imagined-history of the Jewish people in the last 2500 years. The book is very entertaining, very inspiring, very nationalistic, but as I said earlier, it is a work of fiction—the historical and contemporary events that Uris describes in his book never happened. 

History is a controversial subject. Even the works of reputed academic historians suffer from ideological, religious, ethnic and political biases. To gain knowledge about any historical event, you cannot afford to rely on a single book. You have to examine several books by writers of different backgrounds and then apply your own judgement.

For those who are interested in the history of Israel and the Jewish people, Shlomo Sand’s book, The Invention of the Jewish People, is a must read. Sand is a Professor of History at Tel Aviv University and he is not free of ideological biases. He is a radical leftist and he argues against nationalism like a typical Marxist intellectual. 

But the arguments and historical evidence that he presents are convincing, and probably correct. 

In his book, Shlomo Sand attacks the core idea that forms the fundamental basis for the idea of Jewish Israel. This core idea is that more than 2000 years ago, the Jewish people were driven out of the area, where modern Israel exists today, by Roman emperors. This forcible exile gave rise to the Jewish diaspora in Europe and North Asia. 

Sand rightly argues in this book that there is no historical record of the Roman Emperors forcibly driving out the Jews. He argues that this exile never happened and that the Jewish population in Europe and North Asia are not the descendants of refugees from the Middle East. They are the products of religious conversion. 

He argues that Judaism was the world’s first monotheistic religion that tried to convert people of other religions to its own faith. The ancient Jewish preachers went to Europe and parts of Asia and converted large parts of the population to Judaism. According to Sand, the millions of Jews around the Mediterranean and elsewhere are the products of religious conversion of locals. 

He argues that the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith, and that the ancestry of most Jews can be traced to Europe and Asia, and not Israel or Palestine. 

Sand’s book is a convincing attack on not just Jewish nationalism but every other kind of nationalism. The arguments and historical evidence that he uses to refute the idea of Jewish nationalism can easily be deployed to weaken and destroy American, British, French, German, Arab, Chinese, Hindu (Indian) and other nationalisms. 

The biggest threat to Israel, I believe, is not from groups like Hamas or PLO. It is from brilliant Marxist historians like Shlomo Sand who possess the historical evidence and arguments to refute the “nationalistic mythology and falsehoods” that serve as the foundation on which Israel’s national identity has stood since the 1940s.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

History of Sanatana Dharma & the Hegelian End of History

The history of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) is a history of maya. It is the history of Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. It is the history of myths, metaphors and metonymies. It is the history of real events which are inseparable from the maya or matrix. 

It is the history of Yugas, Manvantaras and Kalpas which represent overwhelmingly large time spans. A kalpa is a day in the life of Brahma, but it represents the entire period of the endurance of the solar system. A kalpa is equal to 12,000 years of the devas, or 4,320,000,000 earth-years. The day of Brahma is also divided into fourteen manvantaras and 1000 yuga-cycles. 

This history does not move linearly. It operates in a quantum world, where things are in flux and the major events defy definition in terms of geography and time. It is hard to comprehend the correlation between cause and effect in this history.  

Hegel could philosophize about the End of History because his focus was only Western history, which has been interpreted by the Western historians in such a way that it appears to move linearly, while following the principles of cause and effect. But what happens to the West after the Hegelian End of History? It is not clear. 

The question of what happens after the End of History cannot arise in context of Sanatana Dharma, where history is not linear; where history is driven by myths, metaphors and metonymies; where Yugas, Manvantaras and Kalpas represent the timescale of history. In Sanatana Dharma, there is no beginning, no middle and no end to history.