Do you believe that this culture is going to undergo voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?
The next question is “If you don’t believe that the culture is going to undergo voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living” and you care about the land where you live what does it mean for your strategies and tactics?
And the answer is we don’t really know. And one of the reasons we don’t know is that we don’t really talk about it. And one of the reasons we don’t talk about it is that we are also busy pretending that we have hope.
The Abduction of Modernity, an essay by Henry CK Liu, retraces the definition of “modernity” through history. The question rises as the so called “war on terror” implies the protection of some way of life, from those who reject modernity.
Is modernity a moral progress? Are technological developments a moral progress in human civilization? Are “modernization” and “westernization” synonymous? To Taoists, modernity is a meaningless concept because truth is timeless and life goes on in circles.
In order to decipher the present situation, an Aghata Christie would advise to look for who benefits from committed crimes and the money trail. One can still read Liu‘s essay and learn much about what was said about modernity by the greatest minds in human history.
The Abduction of Modernity covers mainly the Chinese civilization and thought – Confucianism and the Legalists, Taoism, Buddhism – its evolution and draws parallels with its Christian and European counterparts. Other chapters include Islam, the Enlightenment period, the Reformation of the Church, the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, the colonization era, the rise of modern Japan, Imperialism and fragmentation: “While Western Europe marched steadily toward integration, the non-Western world was, and continues to be, fragmented for easy exploitation in the name of national self-determination“, and finally a last chapter: Imperialism resisted.
Liu describes the Chinese civilization and its successive occupation by barbaric invaders who came to gain access to Chinese culture, not to destroy it, and compares to the present day destructive ethnocentricity.
They were times when a combat had ethical criteria, as in the Chinese martial arts or during the medieval Europe. The Battle of Agincourt 1415, marks the end of chivalry and the obsolescence of aristocratic knights defeated by foot-soldiers applying a – so far despised and considered cowardly – killing tool: the longbow.
Gunpowder, invented around the 4th century in China, would not be used in warfare until 10th century. Chinese military planners did not modernize their martial code, and continued to suppress development of firearms as immoral up to the 19th century to China’s misfortune when confronting Europeans armies. Mao would state later that “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun“.
Liu concludes that the technological militarism is of barbaric roots and that a civilization built on military power remains barbaric, the reverse of modernity, notwithstanding the guise of technology. The present day militarism deprives human civilization of an evolving process of cultural diversity and therefore we might be living in an institutional march from modernity back toward barbarism with the predatory license for intolerance toward other cultures.
Relevant link: Afghanistan, British Media v Reality
Sophia is back. She and her husband have celebrated their 24th anniversary, spending a long week-end in New York.
She has a marvelous post, Echoes of Empire, taking you to exhibitions, operas and a play. Aware as she is of the current state of the world, she draws most interesting parallels between the marvelous and the awful of our lives.
I highly recommend you to read this post in its entire version.
“New York is a great city and represents in its cultural scene the best of what the US has to offer to the world. And why the US does not offer this to the world instead of offering its army and its might, which come with destruction, humiliations, resentment, and more wars? One of the reasons is that the US itself has a hard time accepting the premises of the cultural life and the spirit of its most glamorous city. In the US, unlike in Europe, culture is considered a good for the elite. The rest must content itself with what they can watch on US TVs and cinema screens; Christian evangelists and other cultural mimes destined (albeit unintentionally) to maintain the population in a state of perpetual darkness. The sad thing is that the US exports only its ‘trash culture’, the culture of its own disgraced and ill-favored class. So before going on a Middle East tour civilising mission, the US must bring itself and its own majority, not only its elite, to civilisation through culture. Liberation comes through culture and not through the destruction of other countries and other cultures on the basis of racist and dangerous religious ideologies. And we can turn to culture only when our physical survival is not under threat.”
A fascinatingly exotic word/thing
Just like Ustad/Usted, Chess, Paradise and Hell … etc…
Born in Iran and Northern India
And brought right into to the West
From Spanish Granada to California
By Semite peddlers at God’s behest
Its juice redder than the blood of Mithra
Yet sweeter than the thrill of conquest
Update: Thank you Dr. V. for further explanation:
Here’s a link to an interesting albeit incomplete article on that particularly rich topic:
“It was associated with the ancient Greek cycles of winter and summer. On Cyprus, where, according to legend, the goddess Aphrodite brought the fruit from Phoenicia, the pomegranate was a symbol of love. Pomegranate trees dedicated to Aphrodite were planted in her temple precint, which was at that time the most important temple of love in the ancient world. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the pomegranate blooms at the same time as the rose, another plant dedicated in ancient times to the goddess of love.
The Romans called the pomegranate the mala punica (Phoenician [i.e. Lebanese]apple) […]
In Iran, arils are crushed and the juice is cooked to make a syrup called robb-e anur, used in Persian cookery. […]
The Spaniards introduced it to the Americas, and when missions were established in California in the 1700s, pomegranates were among the first plants brought from Mexico by the friars. California is still the main center of pomegranate cultivation in North America.”
The truth is the world (The West, but also Arabs, Jews, Asians…) owes a lot to ancient seeds/traditions that came from Northern India and Eastern Iran: for centuries, “Semites” (Babylonians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and finally Arabs) have traveled with these Persian/Indian seeds and replanted them in Athens, Alexandria, Rome, the South of Spain and finally California.
This is how our Civilization was born.
It’s up to us to protect and nurture that rich cultural heritage, at a time when bearded Pharisaic fools from Jerusalem, Riyadh and Qandahar want to destroy it in the name of “Yahweh’s Law”.
And all the rest is just commentary a famous Iraqi-born Middle-Eastern philosopher famously said!
On-iranian-israeli-alliance … & … other things I don’t understand!
Today I came across The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization by Thomas Homer-Dixon, and two interviews with the writer at Tyee Books: Embrace The Collapse and The Internet Idea Army
This book [... paints a grim picture of our not-too-distant future… But Thomas Homer-Dixon says there’s hope. Not that global warming isn’t upon us, or that terrorists won’t explode a nuclear device in the near future, or that the growing gap between rich and poor won’t result in deeply destructive conflict, or that our social, political and economic systems aren’t deeply vulnerable to collapse.…Homer-Dixon …wants us to learn from ecology… Systems grow, mature, become rigid, and break down. If we accept that this is true for human systems, we will be better able to create less rigid, less dangerously interdependent systems … we will learn to plan for renewal when things do break down…[he] places a great deal of faith in individuals, in their ability to collaborate, create consensus … He’s fascinated by Wikipedia’s ability to create an enormous, resilient document of human accomplishment through a collaborative, voluntaristic process where ego and experts aren’t given much sway. And he wants to apply that model to key global challenges…”People have enormous analytical power available to them. Much more information … as citizens, we are more competent and powerful. Power has moved down the social hierarchy from institutions to individuals. But along with power comes commensurate responsibility. People aren’t taking on the responsibilities that come with our increasing role in governance — self-governance…we usually don’t bother. We are disastrously incapable of taking a very long view, personally or institutionally. Politics and business are in many ways biased against our long-term future.
We won’t solve our problems one by one by shouting about them. We’ll solve them by reducing existing stresses, creating more resilient systems, and planning to ensure that good things emerge from bad events.
“… I honestly think there are deeper causes of our malaise — the architecture that institutionalizes competition and conflict between political actors. What you get in question period is people shouting at each other. It becomes institutionally required for an opposition party to oppose. Its identity is as an oppositional party, instead of trying to constructively solve the problems we have…maybe we need to develop some parallel democratic institutions that are grounded in a more voluntaristic and collaborative approach to problem solving…” Let’s all get together and save the world:
“We need a place where people can go that is less egocentric, where people can focus on solving the problem rather than accumulating power. I think that you could create, as we’ve found with Wikipedia, institutional architectures that encourage that kind of thing. You can kind of socialize people into that…what happens with Wikipedia …is that people as they participate in the process adopt the norms, they become socialized into the culture and the assumptions of the place. There is an ethic and an etiquette to doing this.”… and more