Monday, April 27, 2020
Första Maj är tydligen inställt i typ hela landet. Lika bra det.
Arbetarrörelsen har ju inte gjort något vettigt sedan Hedenhös fällde den siste mastodonten, så jag tror inte det gör någon skillnad.
Men okej, jag är beredd att revidera ovanstående slutsats om sossarna äntligen genomför partiprogrammet or something...
“Planet of the Humans” is a new documentary by Michael Moore. For some reason, Moore himself never appears in the actual production, which is narrated by Jeff Gibbs, a radical environmentalist activist. The documentary is available free of charge at YouTube. (The title is a jocular reference to “Planet of the Apes”, the classical science fiction franchise about apes taking over the world after humans destroy civilization.)
Moore and Gibbs target the mainstream environmentalist movement, which they believe has completely sold out to corporate capitalism. Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg and Robert Kennedy junior are some of the people forced to run the radical Green gauntlet. However, “Planet of the Humans” goes further and actually attacks the entire idea of “renewable energy”. Solar and wind aren´t feasible, while various kinds of biomass might not even be desirable.
Moore is good at finding and using absurd situations, and this production reeks with them. There´s the Green festival which is forced to use non-Green electricity from the grid when their solar power generators stop working due to bad weather. There´s the enormous array of solar panels which powers exactly ten houses. There´s the forest being cut down to make room for an enormous wind turbine…in Vermont, the most liberal state in the Union.
The main point of “Planet of the Humans” is that “Green” energy is impossible without a fossil fuel base, enormous mining operations, copper, rare earth minerals and (presumably) huge corporate investments, often from the same businesses that pollute the environment elsewhere. Several of the "Green” energy projects shown in the documentary turn out to be natural gas plants – but natural gas is, of course, also a fossil fuel! The American environmentalist movement, including the Sierra Club, is portrayed as being part and parcel of the “Green” energy scam. In the end, all the bluster about renewables don´t matter, since only a tiny fraction of the world´s energy needs come from them anyway. I get the impression that Green capitalism isn´t parasitical on the brown version – it´s hardly even there, except in the propaganda (and a few subsidy sinks).
So what is the solution to our predicament? Gibbs never really says, but strongly implies that overpopulation is to blame, so presumably less people is the bottom line. A smaller population would stop super-exploiting the natural world and give it a chance to recover. Of course, this is unacceptable to many, and in the commentary section to the documentary, many people agitate for more nuclear power or other sources of hopefully abundant and cheap energy (thorium, hydrogen, etc). A curious detail is that “Planet of the Humans” says very little about climate change.
I happen to think that “Green” capitalism really is a sham. Does anyone *seriously* believe that we can electrify the entire world economy without an *enormous* increase in the production of copper, rare earths and uranium? If we want to keep our modern civilization going, fossil fuels and carbon storage actually seem cheaper…
And if that´s impossible, well, say hello to Paul Ehrlich and Negative Population Growth!
I´m frankly surprised Michael Moore decided to destroy his reputation among the normie liberals in this way, and so close to the 2020 elections. Still, it does make me respect the man. Now, we would all like to hear a comment from Greta Thunberg!
An interesting YouTube clip in which Sadhguru (a popular Hindu teacher in India) explains the bizarre antics of the Left Hand Tantric sect of the Aghori, and even somewhat defends them. The Aghori became notorious in the West when CNN´s Reza Aslan actually participated in one of their antinomian rituals and supposedly consumed ashes from a cremated human brain! Amid the furor, the CNN were forced to dicontinue Aslan´s entire TV series.
Sadhguru, who admits that the Aghori path isn´t for him, points out that in India, many spiritual paths are not about love and compassion. The Aghori are the fearless ones, who are all-embracing, treating the pure and the impure in the same way. Their interest in cremated bodies is a way of harvesting prana (life force) without actually killing anyone.
Sadhguru believes that scientists are more bizarre than the Tantrikas, since they are dissecting frogs...
This is the infamous clip which forced CNN to cancel Reza Aslan´s entire documentary series. Viewer discretion is strongly advised here!
Aslan meets a bizarre Tantric cult in India, the Aghori, and makes the mistake of *actually participating in their antinomian rituals*. He eats cremated human brain, and drinks alcohol from a skull, all the while the Aghori sadhus worship Mother Kali. One of the cult members then threaten to kill Aslan unless he shuts up, and starts throwing feces on him and the camera crew!
As far as I can tell, this isn´t scripted. The Aghori do exist and really do seek "liberation" through deliberately impure acts (if the beheading of a liberal Muslim Iranian-American is one of them is, alas, not entirely clear). I sure hope that brain was well done (as in turned into ashes) and didn´t contain any kuru prions...
"Through the Heart of China" is a Dutch documentary series. The episode linked to above is called "China and the Revival of Taoism". English subtitles are available, in case your Dutch and your Chinese are equally rusty! I found the production interesting, but largely for the wrong reasons. The narrator comes across as super-clueless, and whatever the program is about, it sure as hell aint Taoism (LOL).
First, we are taken to a martial arts school. Next, the Dutch reporter (who seems to speak quite flawless Chinese - maybe he isn´t that clueless after all) wants to meet a Taoist hermit. He does find one, but a monk at a nearby Buddhist temple unkindly informs him that the "hermit" is really clinically insane! The monk also claims that all "Taoists" in the area are young misfits who have run away from their parents and social responsibilities.
Which turns out to be the case - I did get the impression that the youth who´ve taken to the hills (and who are interviewed next) look socially awkward and simply want to get away from it all. Their Taoist master was nowhere to be found. An invisible immortal? I was surprised that the Chinese police haven´t arrested the young seekers and sent them to some boot camp? Indeed, there *are* such camps in China, and they are shown last in this episode.
As I said, interesting after a fashion, but hardly a Taoist revival in the heart of China...
"Demons" is a documentary about demonic beings available free at YouTube. It´s made and narrated by Thomas Sheridan, an Irish occultist and chaos magician. To be honest, I wouldn´t call it a "documentary" in the strict sense. It comes across more like a weird work of art, with pictures of various hideous and monstrous creatures set to scary music and sounds. The narration feels very "stream of consciousness" and jumps from topic to topic in fast progression. I´m not *entirely* sure how much I really learned about the subject matter after having watched it twice...
Sheridan argues that demons are real beings, which surprised me, since in his other content, he argues that gods are *not* real, rather being archetypes of energies present in the human psyche. Demons are identical or similar to the Irish fairy, live in other dimensions of reality, or at certain places in the landscape, or even at ancient monuments. Summoned, they can be forced to serve the magician and reveal certain secrets, but the process is extremely dangerous. The demons often taken the form of children or beautiful youth to dazzle the magician. They habitually lie to flatter the magician, with the purpose of disrupting the ritual and drive him literally insane. Demon possesion is a real thing. Sheridan doesn´t believe that exorcists can kill demons - rather, they simply release them into the world, making the demon free to attack other people!
Demons come from "the Abyss", where everything is meaningless and malignant. The demons therefore want to enter our world, where they can get form but continue to wreak havoc. The most powerful demon is named Choronzon 333 or C333. The Abyss can also be interpreted as the deepest reachest of the human mind. The magician can become a living god by tapping its powers, but only if he can pass Choronzon and remain sane.
The documentary references Richard Gallagher, a psychiatrist who believes in the reality of demonic possesion, the magician David Conway, and Aleister Crowley, the notorious founder of the Thelema "religion". Crowley was presumably on a first name basis with both Choronzon and another entity, known as Aiwass. In general, Sheridan seems relatively positive towards Crowley. He connects Aiwass to the Grey Aliens. Finally, the narrator also tells us about his own demonic encounter, similar to "sleep paralysis", except that Sheridan claims he was wide awake, not paralyzed and it wasn´t dark in the room.
Perhaps the evocative character of this production is in itself some kind of ritual. For the best, we hope...
Thomas Sheridan discusses the "alien" aspects of the current corona crisis. He proposes the following scenario...
A parallell civilization to our own, a kind of fairies, exist on Earth. Just like us, they have space rockets and similar high tech gadgets. Since they are intensely jealous of humanity, the fairy have sent a space ship to knock an asteroid of course...in order to smash our civilization to pieces.
Luckily for us, Donald Trump´s space force is standing by and is ready to counter-attack. That´s why all flights have been banned. It´s to give the space force clear skies. In order to forestall panic, the coronavirus is used to justify a near-complete lock down of the world. The real truth would be too frightening to most people. The attack will happen on April 30 (Walpurgis Night).
At the end of the film, Sheridan says that time travelers from a futuristic China might be behind the attack. The aliens look Chinese, after all...
He also says that we are living through a real life "Quatermass" episode.
I don´t believe a word of it, and I´m starting to suspect that Sheridan doesn´t believe it, either. It´s some kind of high level trolling, connected to his practice of Chaos Magick.
In three days, we will know whether I´m right, or whether both me and Bro Sheridan will have to join Catfish at a secluded location near the Unabomber´s cabin in west freakin Montana... :-)
Om invandringspolitikens och integrationens haveri. Från Expressen. Inte direkt relaterat till corona, men givetvis indirekt. Expressen anser att asylinvandringen måste hållas låg under lång tid framöver. Vill de ha gästarbetare istället?
Ledare i Aftonbladet om coronakrisen och nedskärningarna i den kommunala servicen. (Personerna på bilden här ovan har inget med artikeln att göra, som alltså handlar om Sverige.)
Chandra Wickramasinghe, Fred Hoyle´s old associate, is one of the scientists who two years ago signed a paper arguing that "panspermia" rather than "abiogenesis" is how life originated and evolved on Earth. The idea is that all life really comes from space and "seeds" our planet on a semi-regular basis, for instance during the Cambrian Explosion.
Wickramasinghe also connects panspermia to the steady state cosmology usually associated with his late collegue Hoyle. Since the universe is eternal, life is really eternal, too, so no need for any complicated hypothesis about abiogenesis! Needless to say, few scientists believe in Wickramasinghe´s scenario - it´s probably too daring even for admirers of Lynn Margulis - but it´s fascinating anyhow.
The media particularly liked the idea that the octopus was an "alien from outer space". I´m reliably informed that certain occultists and chaos magicians do the same. You know, Cthulhu and all that stuff...
The return of panspermia
Sunday, April 12, 2020
"Tasmania: Weird and Wonderful" is a fascinating nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough. It´s presently available at YouTube. Many of the species on the island are similar to those on the Australian mainland, but their size and behavior often differ markedly. The local platypus is much larger than its mainland form, there is a thriving population of mutant white wallabies, and the Tasmanian giant lobster takes 40 years to grow to a size of one meter. By contrast, the local penguins are diminutive (and nocturnal, to avoid being attacked by hungry gulls). There is also the dangerous "jack jumper ant", a large ant that can jump and the venom of which can on rare occasions kill humans!
Of course, the main character is the so-called Tasmanian Devil (a marsupial mammal), with its bizarre calls and equally weird habits. For starters, the Devils are scavangers. I´m not even going to comment on their mating rituals! Western Tasmania has a climate almost the exact opposite of Eastern Tasmania. The western part is humid - in fact, it rains most of the year, while the eastern section is extremely dry.
The most fascinating organism mentioned in the documentary is Mountain Ash, really a species of eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus regnans). The tree reproduces in a curious manner: its seeds are only released during bush fires, which may kill all other plants (including the Mountain Ash itself), but make it possible for the seedlings to sprout and grow without competition. But in western Tasmania, bush fires are rare due to the constant rains. Therefore, the eucalyptus trees simply continue growing - in one area of the island, all trees are 400 years old and reach a hight of 100 meters! In effect, this means that the latest bush fire took place at some point during around the year 1600...
One species never shown in this production is our very own Homo sapiens. The viewer gets the impression that Tasmania is pure and pristine wilderness. Actually, the island is an Australian state, the home of about half a milliion people, and an economy partially based on mining and logging. And yes, the White settlers completely exterminated the local Aborigines during the 1830´s. Somehow, I feel that needs to pointed out for context.
That being said, "Tasmania: Weird and Wonderful" nevertheless deserves a closer look or two. This really is Australia with a twist.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
With apologies to John Michael Greer, I just *have* to quote two of his postings from the weekly "Magic Monday" session (source of quote in the links). The first deals with the origins of the curious term "Baphomet" associated with the Knights Templar, the second is a more existential reflection which I find difficult to argue with...although I don´t really like it! Have to meditate...
No, there's something much subtler going on with that name. In traditional Jewish Cabala, it's common to conceal holy names using various ways of encoding, and one of the simplest is called the "Atbash cipher." What that word means is that you flip the Hebrew alphabet, so that the first letter and the last letter are exchanged, the second and the next to last, and so on. Thus Aleph is replaced by Tau and Tau by Aleph, Beth is replaced by Shin and Shin by Beth. So if you write Baphomet in Hebrew -- Beth, Peh, Vau, Mem, Tau -- and you put it though the Atbash cipher, you get Shin, Vau, Peh, Yod, Aleph...which is the Hebrew spelling of the name of Sophia, the Gnostic goddess of wisdom.
That was the secret of the Templars. They encountered, most likely in the Holy Land, one of the surviving Gnostic sects, and adopted that as their secret teaching. I'm pretty sure, for reasons Jessie Weston covered in her book From Ritual to Romance, that it was either a Naassene sect or something similar -- one that saw Christian orthodoxy as incomplete rather than wrong. But that's why the Catholic church turned with such savagery on the Templars: the Church had just finished committing genocide against one set of Gnostics, the Cathars, in southern France, and all of a sudden another set of Gnostics popped up right in the heart of the Church's most powerful military order. (Of course the greed of Philip IV of France also had a lot to do with the fate of the Templars; it was, as most historical events were, overdetermined.)
One of the reasons I value classic occult philosophy is that it stresses just how much higher the Great Chain of Being extends above us. Of course it's possible to transcend the human -- but that moves us one notch up the ladder, not instantly all the way to the top. Mind you, that one notch is an immense, life-changing experience from our standpoint...but from the standpoint of the cosmos, it's a little like moving from a life as a blue-green alga to life as a paramecium. A paramecium has vastly greater capacities than a blue-green alga; it has cilia that enable it to move, and chemical senses that allow it to "sniff" its surroundings; it inhabits a much vaster world than a blue-green alga, and were an alga to suddenly gain the state of conciousness of a paramecium, it would doubtless think that it had risen to the ultimate ground of being. Meanwhile we watch them both through microscopes.
"The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Metropolitan Elite" is a new book by Michael Lind, published earlier this year. Lind is a Cold War centrist liberal with a modest Social Democratic tint. The author is worried about the increasing polarization in American society under Trump. While his book is strictly speaking anti-Trump, Lind believes that the ruling managerial elite must meet the discontented populist voters at least halfway, establishing a new class compromise that would include the working class and the conservative religious groups, which are now mostly excluded from serious political influence. Thus, Lind admits that the populist "counter-revolution" is to a large extent fueled by real grievances and deep-seated structural problems, both in the United States and Western Europe (he doesn´t discuss "Eastern" Europe or the so-called Third World). Indeed, it wouldn´t surprise me if most Trump critics will simply dismiss Lind´s book as another piece of *pro*-Trump propaganda!
Lind´s ideal is the America of the New Deal and the early post-war decades. Due in large part to World War II and the Cold War, the new managerial elite (which was gradually replacing the old bourgeoisie) entered a class compromise with the working class. Mass membership parties, strong labor unions and organized religious groups played an important part in the compromise, as did local power-brokers of various kinds. He calls the system "democratic pluralism". I get the impression that this is Lind´s attempted synthesis between Social Democratic statism and a more decentralist communitarianism. He has a tendency to veer towards the latter, interpreting even the New Deal as a form of "pluralism" rather than as the US version of European Social Democratic statism. To make a long story somewhat shorter, the post-war settlement broke down after the fall of Communism and the establishment of neo-liberal globalism.
Today, the managerial elite (about 20% of the US population, not 1%) dominates a society increasingly geared towards a service economy with low-paid jobs, mass immigration of unskilled labor to fill these very positions, and an alienated working class electorate outside the "hubs". The global economy has led to massive deindustrialization in the United States, as employers prefer to place production in nations with low wages and no social benefits. I was surprised to learn that such a huge portion of the US economy consists of service jobs specifically tailored to the needs of the metropolitan elite - the stereotype that "privileged liberals" (and of course privileged conservatives) favor mass immigration cuz lawns and unmade beds isn´t very far from the truth! Meanwhile, the general culture has become both more individualistic and more "liberal". This, too, alienates the working class, which tends to be more family-oriented and socially conservative. As for political and economic decison-making, it´s almost exclusively in the hands of institutions which consist soleley of members of the metropolitan elite. Gone are the mass organization of yesterday which at least gave ordinary people *some* shot at influence.
What Trump did is hardly surprising, given the above. He pretends to give a voice to the excluded 80%. While Lind accuses the populists of being demagogues with a purely negative approach, I think it´s obvious that Trump very effectively tailored his program to the "positive" needs of the heartland population, with his blend of anti-immigration, anti-globalist, morally conservative and "productivist" positions. Indeed, what´s really astonishing is that Hillary Clinton could still win the popular vote! Lind attacks, even mocks, the idea that Trump is a "fascist" or that "the Russians" were responsible for his upset election victory in 2016. The Russiagate fiasco is obvious, but the more "sophisticated" Weimar narrative doesn´t work either. Weimar Republic, no? Banana republic, maybe! That´s one of the author´s better quips. What Lind fears is that the United States might become more like a typical Latin American nation, which goes through never-ending cycles of oligarchic and demagogic-populist rule.
One thing I happen to like about Lind is his near-cynical honesty about how politics *really* work. Since the last class compromise was triggered by a war and a great power stand-off, chances are that only another war and/or cold war will do the same. Presumably, this would be confrontation with China. Globalism must be abolished in favor of multilateral agreements between sovereign nation-states. American industry must return from abroad, back to the heartlands. America must also stop trying to impose its way of life and democratic system onto other nations. (Note the similarities between this and some aspects of Trump´s own foreign policy.) The main weakness of Lind´s program, I think, are his proposals for domestic change. They include a reformed ward system with more political power devolved to local units, wage-boards with employer representatives in the service sector, unions in basic industry, and more power to the conservative religious groups when deciding on cultural and educational issues. He also calls for a comprehensive deal on immigration, including an amnesty for illegal aliens already in the country, and a more regulated immigration after that point. Guest worker schemes should be abolished, so all immigrants actually allowed in will have the same rights as native workers.
Lind very explicitly say that the above program is intended as a compromise between the current managerial elite and the workers, in order to defeat the populists. He also counts on sections of the current elite to be opportunistic enough to switch sides. Somehow, I find all this very hard to believe. A "democratic pluralist" program might of course be implemented at some point (perhaps even by a born-again pluralist Donald Trump), but I strongly suspect it will just be a stopgap measure on the road to revolution (using that term broadly). If the end result will be a left-populist America, a right-populist ditto, disintegration in a race war, or a never-ending cycle of patrician and plebeian control, remains to be seen. But one thing, I think, is certain. At some point the current metropolitan elite will be excluded by the new class war...
You learn some new shit every day. I just learned that the Star-Spangled Banner wasn´t adopted as the official US national anthem until 1931. Before that, the US didn´t really have an official anthem, but one that came close was "America (My Country ´Tis of Thee)". The melody sounds eerily familiar...
Since I just dissed Cyrus Kirkpatrick´s weird content on Hitler (see previous post), it´s time to give the astral devil (or is it deva) his due. Here´s a link to an interesting clip dealing with James Randi, Rupert Sheldrake, and related topics.
Here is the link to the blog post discussed in the clip:
The not-so-amazing Randi?
"The whereabouts of Hitler in the Afterlife discovered?" is a slightly absurd YouTube clip featuring Cyrus Kirkpatrick, of whom I know very little. Apparently, Kirkpatrick is an "astral traveler" who once met Kim Jong-il in the afterlife (here identified with the astral world) inside a spiritual copy of North Korea. At another time, he visited an astral city where he watched a documentary on TV about the whereabouts of notorious war-criminal and Nazi Führer, Adolf Hitler.
It seems Hitler is living a quiet life together with Eva Braun on the astral planes. When asked about his major accomplishment in life, he started discussing his relationship with Eva. Both Hitler and Mrs Braun looked elderly, in their 70´s, perhaps because they managed to escape to Argentina after the war and didn´t die until a ripe old age. The other Nazis, on the other hand, were much worse than Herr Hitler and their souls therefore disappeared under mysterious circumstances after their physical deaths. Nobody in Astral City knows where they are, but Kirkpatrick speculates that Hell is an appropriate location. The documentary on Astral Channel ended with Hitler refusing to speak to a large rally of Nazis (?) or perhaps just interested people in general, instead quietly absconding into the good night together with his beloved Eva...
Even from a purely occult view, this makes literally ZERO sense, since the astral is the realm of subjective wish-fulfilment. Whose wishes were being fulfilled (Hitler´s, Kirkpatrick´s, Hitler´s pet dog´s maybe) I cannot say. What the traveler saw was simply a reflection of his own vivid imagination, and warped view of Third Reich history, projected onto the Akasha...
I admit that I don´t understand "Chaos Magic"...
In this clip, Thomas Sheridan argues that the coronavirus is our new god, and that Chaos Magicians should therefore invoke it?! He claims to have invoked the mysterious astronomical object ´Oumuamua and caused a huge UFO flap in Ireland! The man also says that Cthulhu used to be the most powerful deity, that he was connected to SJWs, but now the coronavirus can save us from his wrath...
OK, further into the clip, Sheridan (or is this the *real* Catfish?) says that corona isn´t literally a god but a "chaos force". So that makes it alright then?
I always assumed Israel Only Full Preterism was the strangest religion out there, but here is another possible contender!
Donald Trump´s response to the corona pandemic may not have been adequate, but as these (admittedly partisan) pieces point out, Trump was merely following the advice of the medical establishment, which initially didn´t believe there was any grave reason for concern either.
Indeed, the Democrats *took exactly the same position*, including New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (the latter a supporter of Bernie Sanders). Indeed, the Democrats *attacked Trump for racism* when he imposed a travel ban on China - the country the virus was actually coming from. And yet, the media are accusing Trump of "doing nothing"?!
Here we go again!
Even liberal Sweden, which isn´t even on literal lock down, criticizes Trump for "doing nothing", whatever than even means. And no, I´m not saying Trump or the establishment are innocent. How about finally giving everyone health insurance, close the tax havens and actually start taxing the tax-exempt foundations? Still, it is fascinating that nothing can trump TDS. Not even a coronavirus pandemic...
Andreas Malm is a Swedish left-wing intellectual and eco-socialist. I´m old enough to remember Malm as a rookie activist about 20 years ago, when he expressed support for Hizbollah, brawled with a group of exotic Trotskyists in the Palestinian solidarity movement, and called on the Swedish right-wing government to aid NATO in its bombing campaign against Gaddafi in Libya. Yes, you read that right. Andreas Malm *supported* the bombing of Libya. At the time, I rechristened him Andre-jas Malm, JAS being a highly advanced Swedish fighter plane. After reading his more recent thought products on the greener spectrum of things, I have to ask whether Malm still supports Western imperialist bombing campaigns against economically advanced Arab nations, or whether he simply wants the JAS bomber to be powered by biofuels and the bombs with solar cells? Or did he simply switch his allegience from Hizbollah (pro-Iran, pro-Russia) to Hamas (anti-Iran, anti-Russia and therefore anti-Gaddafi)?
It´s really a pity that I´m not a revolutionary Marxist, since writing a criticism of Malm´s works on the climate crisis from such a perspective would be great fun, if for no other reason that Malm claims to be, well, a Marxist. It´s a very strange form of Marxism, to be sure, with the working class strangely absent, replaced by the usual panoply of middle-class identity politics, petty bourgeois Greens and (supposedly) the huddled poor masses in the Third World (the migratory behavior of which strikes me as decidedly anti-Green). That capitalism can use fossil fuels and steam engines to move production wherever they feel like (a state of affairs usually known as "modern civilization") is seen as *negative* in this curious version of Marxism, while Marx himself would of course see it as capitalism being historically progressive, creating its own grave-diggers as it goes. But then, Marx wanted workers´ management of fossil fuels and, I suppose, engines. Malm wants...what?
In "Fossil Capital", he envisages a situation in which capital is *tied down* to a limited number of hubs around the world, due to the intermittent character of solar and wind power. This will force the employers to stay put (no globalization!) in the same places where they originally built the power plants, and somehow Malm believes that this will also increase the bargaining power of the workers in the green energy hubs. Note the dramatic difference with Marx, who regarded the free and therefore *mobile* character of the worker as a historically progressive gain. That being said, I admit that Malm´s scenario could work - unless, of course, the employers employ thousands of militarized praetorians to suppress the workers at their immobile solar power plants. And what if the workers start acting as Zionist colonial-settlers, forming a privileged labor aristocracy, forcing the workers outside the hubs to pay dearly for the energy only the solar and wind plants can provide? The only *material basis* for a revolution in this system seems to be for the impoverished peripheral workers to form war-bands, encircle the intermittently energetic hubs from the countryside, and simply destroy them - or take them over, and then the circle starts again. A situation remarkably similar to the pre-modern state of affairs!
In "The Progress of this Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World" (the book I was really intending to review), Malm offers up two contradictory perspectives on the post-Greta state of affairs. On the one hand, Malm goes full primitivism - no JAS fighter planes here! When discussing the island of Labuan in the South China Sea (with which he seems to have a strange obsession), he reaches the conclusion that the best solution would be to simply cordon off the island (and by implication, all pristine wilderness areas with noble savages) from any outside interference whatsoever, and most specifically Western imperialist and high tech interference. There is such a place already. It´s called the Andaman islands, and seems to play a prominent part in the hagiography of Western middle class liberals, the defense of the right of the Andamanese to live as they please on their own little atolls being the only known example of anti-immigration policy supported within this particular social stratum. If the present inhabitants of Labuan (the most important finanical center of Muslim Malaysia) would like to live on Andamanese level is, alas, less clear.
The other perspective offered by our stormy petrel is somewhat more surprising. Yes, he calls for high tech solutions. One of the points of the book is that the storm is already upon us due to certain decisions made in the past, decisions which can´t be undone (not even by the multi-identitarian soviet or the savages). For this reason, "negative emissions" are necessary to save the world. The author doesn´t tell us what this entails, CCS apparently being the n-word of honest eco-socialists, nor does he tell his readers how the CCS facilities should be powered, if not by fossil fuels. Intermittent storm power, perhaps? Malm also makes a rather oblique call for geo-engineering on a massive scale, being gradually phased out by the revolutionary world government, until nature can take over the weather systems again, without undue interference by our unfortunate species. Once again, we wonder how the geo-engineering gadgets should be powered if not by fossil fuels or electricity made in nuclear facilities. And who, pray tell, should pay for it? American pension funds? And what makes Malm think that the technocratic elite and their labor-aristocratic supplements will *phase out* a highly succesful program of weather control in favor of Mam Gaia´s decidedly more spontaneous take on things climatic?
Andreas Malm also has a blind spot for the overpopulation problem. How many Third World peoples could possibly survive if by some strange stroke of luck, say a comet or a coronavirus, the global population would be forced to live on Labuan (pre-Malaysia) or Andamanese levels forthwith? The population of North Sentinel Island is 400. To the usual Green conceit that somehow, in some way, we can all keep our high standard of living even if we completely replace fossil fuels with sun, wind and clean country livin´ (and, I suppose, Monégasque yachts), the author has simply added a new Red conceit: that somehow we can use high technology to save the world, and then simply abolish it, without anyone ever noting the difference...
I´m not sure if that counts for progress. I am pretty sure it can´t pass for Marxism.
“`Renässansmänniskan´: 1400-talets Italien – myter och verklighet” by Swedish writer Michael Nordberg is a blistering attack on the Renaissance in general and the Quattrocento in particular, with Florence and Venice (and Jakob Burckhardt) taking most of the whipping. Nordberg was an authentic history professor, and his book was published in 1993. The iconoclastic prof had previously published a book sensationally rehabilitating the Middle Ages, “Den dynamiska medeltiden”. His book on the Renaissance might perhaps be a *bit* over the top, but it sure is fun reading for those with a slightly revisionist bent. Renaissance aficionados, ye have been warned.
Life in Florence, this supposed pinnacle of human civilization and then some, turns out to have been anything but “secular”, “humanistic”, “enlightened”, “individualist” and what not. But sure, they did paint some really pretty shit. Florence was hit by recurring plague epidemics. In one of them, the notorious plague of 1400, about 13,000 people died within six months. That would have been a fifth of the city´s population! No herd immunity there. Florentine democracy turns out to have been a hierarchic oligarchy, in which a patron-client relationship was the only way in which a common laborer could (perhaps) get some protection. Women were hideously oppressed in all the usual ways: rape, prostitution, early marriages to substantially elder men, demands for high dowries, etc. Prostitution was officially sanctioned by the Florentine authorities, who hoped in this way to dissuade the young males from homosexuality (which was rampant in the city). Violence ruled in the streets as youth gangs habitually attacked each other. Venice may have been marginally better, but frankly not by much. In this cesspool of business as usual Italic barbarity, the city-state of Ferrara stands out as unusually progressive, ironic since the city was openly ruled by an authoritarian duke rather than by a (supposed) democracy. Duke Ercole decreed that only females could be brothel-owners – perhaps a way to minimize the violence against female prostitutes?
Coming this far, we might with some justification wonder if Nordberg has some axes to grind somewhere. We might also wonder if the Quattrocento Renaissance might have been progressive anyway, even outside Ferrara, despite all the undoubted human degradation. After all, people were dying of the plague already during the dynamic Middle Ages! However, Nordberg does have some serious arguments for the 15th century not being the radical break with the previous period as many like to imagine. The Florentines were hardly “individualist”, but strongly collectivist, usually on a family basis (“family” as in “clan”). The collectivism was strongest in the upper class – the class which patronized the Renaissance humanists and painters – and weakest at the bottom. Among common laborers, there was hardly even a nuclear family! Nor was there any particular secularization. All Florentines were intensely religious and Catholic. The entire worldview was “medieval” and superstitious, with constant religious processions to avert worldly or spiritual dangers. What about modern capitalism? Didn´t that begin in the northern Italian city-states? Not really, according to Nordberg. The merchants of course wanted to make great profits, but very often, these weren´t invested to form future capital, but squandered (from our viewpoint) on grandiose building projects, including the construction of churches. Indeed, the merchants often contributed money to the Church as a way of paying for the sins incurred when earning the riches in the first place! It´s also interesting to note that real wages never rose in Florence during the plague epidemics of the 15th century, not even for skilled workers, suggesting that there wasn´t a free labor market, but rather an economy tightly controlled by the city oligarchy.
Nordberg also criticizes the usual view of 15th century Italian art. While the Renaissance painters were undoubtedly creative, their art wasn´t the result of individual aesthetic inspiration. Rather, all aspects of the artworks were controlled by the rich patrons commissioning them. The motifs were usually religious in nature. Even the “individualism” of the portrait paintings can be questioned. In large artworks, the patrons and their families are indeed depicted as distinct individuals, but the context is wholly traditional – such as a religious procession. Otherwise, the usual use of portraits was to show the prospective bride (or her parents!) in a negotiated marriage agreement how the suitor actually looked like. This, of course, was still part and parcel of a collectivist society. It´s also important to note that all painters and sculptors in Italy had to belong to a guild which controlled their education and initiation into the craft. Overall, Nordberg feels that the modern view of Renaissance art is strongly anachronistic. Seen in context, most of the “secularism” and “individualism” simply disappears in favor of a magico-religious corporatism.
But didn´t the Italian humanists rediscover the ancient Latin and Greek writers? Nordberg believes that the Latin “discoveries” are much exaggerated, since these texts had never really disappeared during the Middle Ages. Indeed, many of them were “discovered” in monastic libraries in France! After being read by perhaps ten people, these manuscripts were now studied by perhaps a hundred people instead… Nordberg isn´t overtly impressed by the way the humanists used the Latin corpus. Rather than paying close attention to *what* the texts say, they were mesmerized by their style, by *how* they said it. This led to an artificial resurrection of Classical Latin, often for purely rhetorical or propagandist purposes. Nordberg believes that Medieval Latin was better, since it was a living and evolving language. The ancient Greek corpus was rediscovered to some extent by the Italian Renaissance men, but it had (of course) never disappeared in the Byzantine Empire. Nor would it have disappeared under the Turks, who didn´t destroy such things. The Platonic Academy in Florence around Ficino had a purely marginal influence, Aristotelianism being dominant all over Europe until the 17th century when it was unseated by modern science, not by Platonism. Indeed, “science” in this sense didn´t even exist during the Quattrocento.
One problem with “`Renässansmänniskan´” is that the author never really tells us how the Middle Ages were finally overcome and the modern era ushered in. If not by the Florentines and Venetians, then who? And when? He does imply that the really important developments took place in France and northern Europe rather than in the Mediterranean region. It was here that a new social formation had begun to evolve already during the High Middle Ages. I also get the impression that the process didn´t come to an end during the 16th century (the usual starting date of the modern period) but only later, during the 17th century, perhaps even later.
If Michael Nordberg was right, Renaissance Man was firmly anchored in…the Dark Ages.
“Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World” is a provocatively titled book by Christopher Beckwith, professor in Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University, USA. The book is rather narrow and technical, and hardly intended for the general reader. Beckwith argues that the so-called scholastic method of argumentation, which he calls the recursive argument method, originally comes from Buddhist schools in Central Asia. When the Muslims conquered the area, their culture was heavily influenced by Buddhist models. Thus, the Muslim madrasa (a kind of college) is modeled on a similar Buddhist institution. The recursive argument method was also taken over by the Muslims, and later found its way to High Medieval Europe. At the time, this was the really existing “scientific method”. Note, however, that the author doesn´t literally claim that “science” comes from Central Asian Buddhist monasteries! That would be, well, an unexpected conclusion…
The author believes that all elements of a “scientific culture”, save one, existed in the Muslim world for centuries. However, they were never properly integrated there. The main reason was opposition from conservative Muslim clerics. For instance, the madrasas were usually used for religious instruction only. The conservatives looked upon Greek or Indian philosophy with intense suspicion. The main culprit in destroying Muslim science was the Sufi mystic al-Ghazali. The author points out the irony that the Muslim Aristotelian Averroës was more studied in medieval Europe than in the Muslim world! It was in the Europe of the High Middle Ages that the various elements of a scientific culture were finally properly integrated with each other. These include Aristotle´s contributions, the idea that “science” is a distinct field of study, the recursive argument method and the college. The Europeans also added an invention all their own: the “universitas” or teachers´ guild, which was fused with the college and became what we call a university. The conservatives within the Church made some feeble attempts to stop these developments, but obviously failed.
Beckwith doesn´t believe that medieval science was exactly the same thing as early modern science. Indeed, he doesn´t believe present-day science is the same as early modern science, either. Yet, there is nevertheless a kind of continuity. Without the first steps taken during the 13th century, we wouldn´t have any science at all. The recursive argument method, which looks weird and incomprehensible today, was actually a great step forward at the time. It forced its users to think in a systematic and logical way, an approach which at least potentially could elevate reason above revelation and tradition. I assume it also made the scholastics compile as much information as possible from various sources about the topic at hand, both pro and contra.
Perhaps this is how all progress is usually made: in a piecemeal fashion, with inventions originally intended for something else being applied in unexpected ways by later generations. The scholastic method was invented by Buddhist monks in Central Asia who wanted to defend their metaphysics from competing schools of thought. It was later used by a Catholic monk who wanted to fuse Aristotelian reason with Christian theology. Yes, that would be Thomas Aquinas. And yet, in the long run, this schooled our minds – or some of them at any rate – in the vagaries of modern science.
Friday, April 10, 2020
“Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present” is a grossly mistitled volume by Christopher Beckwith. I say that with a smile, since Beckwith happens to be my favorite distracted professor. This 471-page tome could best be described as a long compilation of topics, some connected to Central Eurasian history, which the author feels need further scholarly attention, since most research published so far have been found wanting, at least on the author´s revisionist scales. I un-ironically sympathize with the agenda! Of course, I can´t vouch for Beckwith´s particular reinterpretations, except to say that they are interesting. So is “Greek Buddha”, another work by the same writer which I review elsewhere on this site.
The term Central Eurasia refers to the vast steppe regions spanning from East Europe to northern China. In ancient and medieval times, this was the home to a bewildering maze of “barbarian” peoples rightly or wrongly associated with nomadism, pastoralism and mounted warriors: Proto-Indo-Europeans, Scythians, Huns, Turks, Mongols, Tatars and many others. The author could be described as “pro-barbarian” or “pro-Central Eurasian”. He often refers to the settled high cultures and empires of Europe and Asia as “peripheral”. He doesn´t deny that the steppe peoples were frequently brutal, but so were the “peripheral” empires, so on *that* score there is little difference between them. On a micro-level, ordinary people living in the “great” empires sometimes tried to abscond to the “barbarians”, suggesting that they felt freer among them. To Beckwith, the Central Eurasians were not parasitical nomads who plundered big cities or forced empires to pay huge tributes. All powerful nomadic peoples controlled “empires” of their own, which always included agricultural land and towns alongside the vast steppes. Their primary non-pastoral activity was not plunder, but trade. The nomads controlled the so-called Silk Road, really a vast and ancient trading network connecting China, India and Europe. As long as the steppe peoples were strong, trade was relatively easy and secure. Not only did the nomads promote trade among the empires, they were also keenly interested in luxury products themselves. One example: the Scythians traded in silk, with the Greeks paying them in gold, the same gold used for the exquisite Scythian handicraft later found by archeologists. The fact that the nomads only destroyed cities which resisted them (standard practice among the “peripheral” empires, too) shows that they didn´t “hate cities” á la Pol Pot, but preferred to integrate them into their spheres of influence as hubs for commerce and taxation. The awful tributes supposedly paid by the Byzantine Empire to the Huns and other steppe marauders only constituted a tiny percentage of the total Byzantine budget.
Beckwith believes that many steppe peoples shared something he calls the Central Eurasian Culture Complex. Its origins are probably proto-Indo-European. An important part of this culture complex is the comitatus, a tightly knit band of male warriors sworn to defend the ruler to the death. The ruler and the members of the comitatus were not blood relations, nor were the members of the war-band usually related to each other. If the ruler died or was killed before the comitatus, its members usually commited suicide or were ritually executed! Why would anyone risk such a fate by binding himself to a non-blood-relative? The answer is that the ruler was expected to bestow fabulous riches on the members of the band, including gold, jewels and silk. While plunder was an obvious way of getting such things, a more important one was trade. Thus, the mercantile orientation of the steppe peoples was in large part a function of their peculiar culture, and this also explains the importance of trade in luxury products. (Later, the comitatus system spread to the Muslim world through Central Asia and Persia. The Mamluks and the Ottomans had distinct versions of the system.)
Beckwith regards the Celtic and Germanic peoples of Iron Age Europe as part of the same Central Eurasian Culture Complex as the nomads further east. He is critical of the usual theories about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The “barbarians” weren´t responsible. Rather, internal problems in the Roman Empire made it less interested in trading with the “barbarian” peoples. This forced the “barbarians” to move ever closer to the metropolitan areas of the Empire in order to safeguard their trading rights. This, then, are the so-called “barbarian invasions” much maligned by historians ever since.
Being a trained linguist, the author has appended a chapter on the Indo-European language family. Here, too, the tendency is revisionist. Beckwith believes that the remarkable similarity between Avestan and Sanskrit is no mystery: Avestan *is* an Iranicized form of Sanskrit, rather than the ancestral Indo-Iranian language. The oldest preserved copies of the Avesta, the sacred scripture of the Zoroastrian religion, are from the 13th century AD. Old Persian inscriptions are known from the 5th or 6th centuries BC, and are very different from the Avestan language. Also, the Zoroastrian belief system as recorded in the Avesta isn´t attested from such early times. So why is Avestan regarded as an extremely ancient language at all? Everyone seems to agree that Avestan is weird compared to other members of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Also, the original Vedic scriptures aren´t really attested before 1000 AD, and Beckwith believes that it´s “romantic” to date them from thousands of years earlier. Presumably, this has consequences for how to look upon Sanskrit and its place in the Indo-European language family tree. He doesn´t say, but the implication seems to be that Sanskrit could be from a later period than the Prakrits! Beckwith also argues that the Indo-European languages simply couldn´t have developed by a “glacially slow process” over many millennia. Rather, they must be the result of rapid changes due to creolization between the language spoken by the Indo-European invaders and the that of the natives. Needless to say, the author doesn´t believe it´s possible to *really* reconstruct a Proto-Indo-European language!
In several chapters, Beckwith attacks the modern world, including democracy (really the rule of a new modern elite), secularism, Communism, postmodern discourse, modern art and modern music. In a very curious footnote, he briefly discusses Frank Zappa´s music. This in a book supposedly about Central Eurasian steppe empires! The author sounds “traditionalist”, but it´s a traditionalism with several twists. His ideal isn´t the landed aristocrat nor the lofty philosopher, but rather the dynamic merchant, including merchants who trade in pure luxuries. He is both generally pro-Central Eurasian and specifically pro-Germanic, viewing the Early Middle Ages less as a Dark Age than as an age when Europe was dominated by a dynamic mixed Germano-Roman culture connected with the steppe empires. He also seem to regard the European colonialists, including the early exploits of the Portuguese, as somehow connected to the general dynamism of the Germanic peoples. Beckwith says very little about the only Indo-European people known to have many female warriors: the Sarmatians. Yet, unless I misunderstood him completely, he also suggests that patriarchy and warfare are ultimately bad things!
If "Empires of the Silk Road" has a central point, it is that historians should stop underestimating how all of Eurasia was connected through an overland route since ancient times, thanks to the "barbarians", and how this positively affected cultural diffusion and economic growth.
I could probably continue this review indefinitely, but for reasons of space (mine being less expansive than the pusztas of Central Eurasia), I simply stop it right here!
|Note flag of Neo-Roman Empire (also 666) in background|
Greta Thunberg´s campaign is called Fridays for Future. That would be FFF. The letter F is the sixth letter in the alphabet. FFF is therefore 666. Aha! Therefore, Greta is the Anti-Christ. But frankly, is anybody really surprised?
Irish occultist and chaos magician Thomas Sheridan discusses some conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.
He claims that Earth might collide with an asteroid or comet in the near future, and that the corona lock down is a way for the establishment to avoid a global panic over this event (which is carefully being hidden from the public).
Or perhaps the curfew is a way to clear the skies for Trump´s space force to launch something that will destroy the asteroid?
Note also that the comet is called C-2019, almost the same as the designation for the virus, COVID-2019. There is also a mysterious connection to Walpurgis Night (30 April).
For the record, I don´t believe a word of it, but the clip is interesting anyway, so I might as well link to it.
Den irländske ockultisten Thomas Sheridan har en originell konspirationsteori om coronaviruset. Han hävdar att det är resultatet av muslimsk svart magi! Resonemanget börjar ungefär tolv minuter in i klippet.
Islam är kopplat till en demon, eller kanske en mäktig ande, som Sheridan kallar "the Jinn". Denna ande vill krossa Kina för att hämnas på regimen för dess förtryck av de muslimska uighurerna i Sinkiang. Demonen har därför tagit kontroll över coronaviruset (som egentligen är tillverkat i kinesiska laboratorier) och släppt ut det i världen. Detta för att de andra stormakterna ska straffa Kina med ekonomiska och politiska sanktioner.
Med tanke på att Sheridan i allmänhet hjärtlöst verkar hata abrahamitiska religioner, är ju detta ganska intressant för att komma ifrån honom...
I början av klippet nämner han även Stephen Kings roman "Pestens tid" (The Stand) som han givetvis kopplar till den nuvarande situationen.
Den amerikanske stå-upp-komikern Jimmy Dore får ett samtal från "Obama", givetvis en imitatör. Fast det är en rätt så bra imitation. Den distinkta stilen, den fantastiska retoriken...och absolut noll substans i slutändan. Visst är det Obama. Skulle nästan kunna vara originalet...
This is hilarious. Thomas Sheridan opens a 15-year old "bug out bag" and the first thing he finds in there is...toilet paper! LOL. Haven´t seen such a well-preserved roll for a long time.
Weirdly, most of the "bug out bag" (which is presumably intended for physical survival in a zombie-infested Irish forest) turns out to filled with...wait for it...soap?!
But sure, maybe mutant zoomer zombies really do fear washing themselves...
And no, I´m not saying I´m better when it comes to bug out plans (or bags). My "plan" is to go down to the local supermarket and buy some potato salad! In fact, I just did.
Sadhguru tells his devotees that the end of the world is *not* near due to the coronavirus. Well, that´s so good to hear from a guy who is on a first name basis with Shiva the Destroyer!