Trumpism and the Philosophy of History


August 22, 2017

Trumpism and the Philosophy of History

by Mark S. Weiner*

https://www.project-syndicate.org

Mark S. Weiner is the author of The Rule of the Clan, winner of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. In 2015, he was a Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Legal Philosophy of the University of Salzburg.

Image result for Bannon and Trumpism

Bannon and the destruction of the liberal order

 

Stephen Bannon may be out, but don’t breathe a sigh of relief. His exit poses a new, more fundamental danger for liberals worldwide. With the departure of the Trump administration’s foremost court intellectual, liberals may be tempted to maintain the strategic tack they took during the presidential campaign, when they criticized Donald Trump mainly for his temperament, not his ideas, and by implication characterized his followers on the same basis.

Such criticism is understandable but ultimately self-defeating, because it subverts the very basis of the liberal, open society famously defined by Karl Popper: critical, scientific engagement at the level of ideas.

Image result for karl popper tolerance

What’s more, failing to recognize what Bannon called “the Trump Presidency that we fought for and won” as a philosophical movement means missing an opportunity to develop liberalism’s core values in the context of our own time. Forging a path between elite managerialism and authoritarian populism – the daunting task of liberalism for our age – requires knowing precisely where we are starting.

In this light, now is a crucial moment to reflect upon Bannon’s worldview – especially his philosophy of history. Trumpism, as a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, was built from the start on an elegiac slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Temporality was at the core of its campaign brand, guided by nostalgia for “the good old days.” Bannon has sought to develop this brand into a robust popular historical consciousness, and his exit from the administration will only liberate him from the constraints of actually existing institutions.

Abundant evidence of Bannon’s views about the nature of historical change are found in his documentary film Generation Zero (2010), which in retrospect looks like a playbook for the 2017 campaign.

The film argues that the 2008 financial crisis was caused by the liberalization of American moral values during the 1960s, when the Baby Boomers’ narcissism led to a culture of political graft and economic greed, underwritten by the marriage of government and business elites. These elites socialized the Baby Boomers’ debts and foisted them onto future generations and the forgotten middle class, leading to economic carnage and lost faith in public institutions. From this nadir, Bannon explains, America will be either destroyed or renewed.

The film’s narrative structure, particularly its driving movement toward cataclysm and rebirth, is provided by William Strauss and Neil Howe’s The Fourth Turning (1997), a best-selling work of sociology. Many commentators have noted with alarm the influence of the book’s apocalyptic tone on Bannon’s worldview. But more troubling is the book’s essentially Jungian argument about the mechanism of historical change.

More precisely, the book superimposes Jungian psychological archetypes onto the view, drawn from historians such as Arnold Toynbee, that history follows predictable, recurring patterns. According to Strauss and Howe, a finite set of mythic archetypes characterizes not only individuals but also the generations to which they belong. Their differing qualities provide the engine for inter-generational conflict and historical change.

Just as there are four stages of an individual human life, so there are four stages within a hundred-year era. A “Hero” generation, like that which fought World War II, is inevitably followed by an “Artist” generation, which necessarily gives rise to a moralistic “Prophet” generation that makes way for a “Nomad” generation – which in turn gives birth to a new generation of Heroes.

The balance and interaction between these generations over time leads a society to undergo a predictable set of “turnings,” from an optimistic “High” to a rebellious “Awakening,” and from there through a corrosive “Unraveling” leading to a fraught “Crisis,” which ends with a new “High.” The Crisis stage always hits American society particularly hard, because the United States has so profoundly embraced a linear understanding of time. Yet come it will, and when it does, America will either collapse or be made great again.

For Strauss and Howe, history is cyclical, its content is mythic, and its study leads to prophesy. This perspective, they argue, offers a number of concrete personal benefits, assuming that readers can unlearn the teachings of linear history (including, bracingly, “obsessive fear of death”). Most important, it offers readers “a more personal connection with the past and future,” and the feeling of being “active participants in a destiny that is both positive and plausible.” It offers readers a sense of control.

Image result for karl popper tolerance

Popper had a name for such predictive historical thinking, so contrary to the scientific method. He called it “historicism.” His foundational contribution to modern liberalism, The Open Society and its Enemies (1945), is an analysis of historicism’s roots and implications for liberal democracy. In other words, our use today of the very term “open society” derives from a withering critique of the philosophy of history Bannon embraces.

Popper viewed Hegel as the main source of historicism in the modern era. But he traces the historicist attitude back to Plato, whose anti-democratic ideologies of permanent social hierarchy he interprets as a reaction to the breakdown of Greek tribalism – an effort to recover lost certainties.

Indeed, Popper views all forms of contemporary historicism, even the “remarkable” work of Toynbee himself, as an effort to resuscitate tribalism’s “closed society.” For Popper, prophetic history represents a misguided philosophical reaction against freedom, change, and individualism.

In the midst of World War II and the fight against fascism, Popper offered an alternative to the neo-tribalism of historicism: science and rationalist philosophy, or “the tradition of challenging theories and myths and of critically discussing them.” And he provided a view of historical change that rejects inevitability. Only this humane response to tribalism’s breakdown, he asserted, could set the world free and maintain its liberty.

Popper’s analysis is as important today as it was in his own time. Following Bannon’s departure, the worst thing liberals could do is to ignore Trumpism’s animating principles – for by doing so, they will subvert their own.

Can Conservatives find the Way?


July 10, 2017

by Tevi Troy*

IT is increasingly obvious these days that many of the people who call themselves conservative can’t even agree on what the term means. Despite simultaneous Republican control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the conservative movement seems endlessly at odds.

Senator Mitch McConnell’s recent troubles with the Republican health care bill have presented a window into these continuing disagreements for the world at large to peek through. But health care is hardly the only issue on which the movement is divided: looming debates on tax reform, trade, foreign policy and immigration imperil conservative progress.

Conservatives speak wistfully of an era of conservative unity that brought about policy transformations, especially under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Both the animating ideas and the corresponding policies were in harmony because Reagan believed in a conservative philosophy and used that philosophy to carry out actionable policy.

Crucially, this period was also characterized by a belief that there was a unifying strand to conservatism, and that the Republican Party was the political home for this movement. Even if conservatives disagreed on the details of a specific policy, they agreed on a general direction and on supporting political leaders who would get them there. As for the Republican Party, it was a vehicle for debating policy and ideology, serving as a party of ideas, in contrast to the Democrats’ warring coalition of needy interest groups.

Image result for mitch mcconnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R)

Conservative reveling in this bygone past is a phenomenon that predates the most recent presidential election. As Jonah Goldberg, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told me: “G.O.P. primaries for the last few cycles have been like the nerdiest possible re-creation of the end of ‘Spartacus’: ‘I am Ronald Reagan.’ ‘No, I am Ronald Reagan.’ ”

The halcyon period of the 1980s did not develop out of nowhere. Reaching this degree of unity was hard, with the Reaganite consensus emerging over a lengthy period of debate dating back to conservatism’s modern revival in the 1950s.

Image result for William Buckley Jr

Yale- Educated William F. Buckley Jr. of The National Review

Whenever conservatives talk about unity, the unifying figure in this regard is William F. Buckley Jr. Shortly after starting National Review in 1955, Mr. Buckley and his colleagues sought to join together the various elements of the respectable right. Mr. Buckley’s associate, Frank Meyer, an ex-Marxist of libertarian inclinations, found the key to uniting disparate elements under a common rubric. Mr. Meyer called for a defense of both Western civilization and personal freedom that came to be known as “fusionism.”

Fusionism was an explicit recognition of certain shared concerns — about the existential threat of Communism abroad and the growth of government at home. It managed to bring together both government-skeptical libertarians and religiously minded traditionalists by emphasizing the importance of the individual and Western civilization, as well as the Communist threat to both.

When it came to governing, though, fusionism provided somewhat less guidance. Think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution stepped in to fill the void, producing policy books called “Mandate for Leadership” and “The United States in the 1980s.” The Reagan administration then carried out their policy recommendations, or at least many of them. Mr. Buckley himself recognized but also gently mocked the importance of the Heritage Foundation’s work, saying, “Sixty percent of the suggestions enjoined on the new president were acted upon (which is why Mr. Reagan’s tenure was 60 percent successful).”

Within these policy manifestoes and Mr. Reagan’s rhetoric, certain overarching ideas emerged to guide politicians: aggressive prosecution of the Cold War against the Soviet Union, lower taxes and a tough stance on crime.

Today, with a larger conservative movement, it’s harder to find areas of agreement. The policies pursued under the fusionist umbrella now have less sway. The cold warriors’ tough stance on Russia is no longer unifying in a post-Soviet era, to say the least. A more contemporary, and more elusive, idea is the concept of a clash of civilizations that President Trump alluded to in his speech in Poland last week: “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

Crime remains an issue, but less so than in the 1980s or the 1990s, in part because many urban politicians, including liberal ones, adopted conservative recommendations on how to combat crime, like the broken windows theory of policing. As for marginal tax rates, conservative policies reduced them, and took so many people off the income tax rolls that 44 percent of Americans pay no federal income taxes. The hidden lesson here is that conservative policy successes had the effect of making core conservative ideas less politically resonant among voters and thus making them ineffective for unity as well.

At a surface level, some issues do appear to unite current conservatives: disdain for anti-conservative and anti-Republican bias in the mainstream media; support for conservative judges like Neil Gorsuch, who joined the Supreme Court in April; and support for Israel. But these issues themselves are insufficient, as well as more limiting.

As Lanhee Chen, a Research Fellow at Hoover, told me, “those three things alone don’t make a governing agenda.” When I asked Sally Satel, a resident scholar at A.E.I., about whether these areas of agreement could form the basis of a real consensus, she said sarcastically, “Talk about a big tent. …”

Another problem is that these issues unify mainly in opposition to forces conservatives dislike: liberal journalists, judicial activists and Israel bashers. Vin Weber, a former Republican Representative, summed it up this way: “We sort of know who we are against.” Mr. Weber believes that conservatives “need to refocus on why we have a G.O.P.”

In the great sorting that is to come, some conservatives who divided over this most recent election will find themselves permanently ensconced in different camps. But there is still hope for a semblance of unity if conservatives build out from the admittedly narrow list of areas of common agreement in the development of a new conservative agenda. If this difficult yet important work of creating a new conservative agenda at all three levels — philosophy, policy and politics — does not happen, then the conservative movement will lose much of its ability to shape the Republican Party going forward.

Getting this recalibration right is not a short-term commitment. The period from the creation of National Review to the election of Ronald Reagan was 25 years. This upcoming period of conservative re-examination will take some time — although hopefully not as much — as well.

To complicate matters, intense disagreement about the sitting president could make it harder to accomplish this work during Mr. Trump’s tenure. As Jonah Goldberg put it to me, “Trump is like a magnet next to a compass,” making it harder for conservatives to find true north as they argue over whether it is the duty of conservatives to support him or the duty of conservatives to oppose him. These arguments divert attention from the question of what a 21st century conservative policy agenda should be, and they are likely do so for the rest of his presidency.

At the same time, some conservatives think Mr. Trump has performed a necessary service in highlighting the existing fault lines. Seth Leibsohn, a pro-Trump radio host who wrote the new book “American Greatness: How Conservatism Inc. Missed the 2016 Election and What the D.C. Establishment Needs to Learn” with his co-host, Chris Buskirk, told me that “it’s even healthier to have these debates as we win elections — for that we owe a lot to the Trump candidacy, presidency and movement.”

Regardless of where one stands on Mr. Trump, conservatives need to identify a new, modern fusionism, with both a unifying concept as well as a corresponding set of shared policy ideas tailored to our current era. This is not the work of politicians, be they Reagans or Trumps. It is the work of conservative thinkers at magazines and think tanks, who need to debate, argue and ultimately agree or disagree on whether it is possible once again to develop a conservative vision for the future and what that vision might look like.

With Old Age comes Healthy Dose of Wisdom and Skepticism


July 5, 2017

With Old Age comes Healthy Dose of Wisdom  and Skepticism

By Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

One of the pitifully few consolations of old age is supposed to be that, as the Old Testament Book of Job puts it, ‘with the ancient is wisdom; and in the length of days understanding.’

Image result for Wisdom of Old Age

 

But with every passing day I find myself less convinced of this, and increasingly if regretfully inclined to the contrary view that, as the late, great American skeptic and critic H L Mencken so aptly expressed it, “the older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”

In fact, if there’s one lesson that life has taught me, it’s to distrust all doctrines, dogmas, ideologies and other such alleged “truths”.

Especially those “truths” whose proponents, or rather propagandists, are most at pains to threaten dire penalties for those daring to doubt or outright disbelieve them.

Thus the older I get the more inclined I am to dismiss such typical examples of intellectual bullying as “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Bible, Psalms 11:10) and “He that doubteth is damned” (Bible, Romans 14:23) in favour of the proverbial Ancient Greek proposition that “wonder is the beginning of wisdom” and the observation by Miguel De Unamuno (1864-1936) that “life is doubt, and faith, without doubt, is nothing but death.”

In all conscience, however, as long as I’m arguing here for doubt, wonder, questioning, skepticism or whatever as the path to wisdom, I have to admit to awareness of De Unamuno’s wry remark that “a lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about.”

And since surely some foolish Malaysiakini reader who knows what he (or she) is talking about is already on the point of reminding me that as desirable as doubt might be in principle, it can also be dangerous or even deadly in practice, I might as well get in first.

Image result for h l mencken quotes

Starting with conceding that, yes, just as disrespect of or doubt in the supposed gods of ancient Athens proved fatal to the philosopher Socrates, and doubt in the biblically-proclaimed relationship between the earth and the sun decidedly dangerous to Galileo, doubt in allegedly “sacred” and indeed “divinely-inspired” books can prove a death sentence in many theocracies and other “religious”-majority countries today.

It is also clearly far from safe for the inhabitants of a great many nations to demonstrate a lack of faith in their rulers. For citizens of China, for example, to cast doubt on their fake “people’s” Communist Party; for Russians to question the probity of Putin’s corrupt oligarchy; or for Malaysians to express too strident doubts about the billions missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad or the massive “donation” Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his cronies dubiously claim he received from some mysterious rich Arab.

In fact, to show a lack of faith in the virtues of Najib and his accomplices in the UMNO-BN regime is considered virtually tantamount to doubting Allah, by whom, it is regularly claimed, they have been chosen to rule.

Just as millions of US citizens paradoxically claiming complete faith in both of what to many of us are the conflicting creeds of Christianity and Capitalism have chosen to have their nation presided over by the preposterous, pathologically lying Donald Trump, who deems any doubts about him and his stupid tweets as “fake news”.

In short, as much as I hate to have to admit it, doubt isn’t always politic or even possible, and even when entirely possible, as in the relatively free and just society I’m fortunate enough to live in, it can be a decidedly mixed blessing.

When combined with sufficient effort, thought and sustained tolerance for the discomfort of uncertainty, doubt or skepticism can lead to wisdom, but unfortunately, it all too often gets subverted by the all-too-human tendency to wishful thinking, and thus results in nothing but wishdom.

For example, doubts by the disaffected, disadvantaged or outright desperate about the fairness and effectiveness of political institutions can lead, as we currently see to our collective dismay, not the greater wisdom of all concerned, but the kind of woeful wishdom that gives rise to a dangerous nitwit like Donald Trump as in the US, a Rodrigo Duterte as in the Philippines, and similar idiots elsewhere.

Doubts on the part of a spectrum of the populace ranging from the confused through the irrational to the utterly cuckoo about such creatively self-questioning institutions as medicine, science and technology result not necessarily in greater public wisdom, but in many cases entirely evidence-free faith in any of a virtually infinite clutter of weird and wonderful wishdoms including, to cite just a small sample of such superstitions and paranormalities, angels, anti-fluoridation, astral travel, astrology, aura-reading, breatharianism, clairvoyance, climate-change denial, colonic irrigation, druidism, ghosts, fairies, iridology, naturopathy, palmistry, pixies, psychic surgery, satanism, spiritualism, sprites, telekinesis, trolls and UFOlogy.

And given that all of us are liable to have grave doubts about the idea of what appears to be the inevitability of our deaths, it’s hardly surprising that we’ve achieved very few wisdoms, at least that I’m personally aware of, on the subject.

Plenty of witticisms, admittedly, two of my favourites among these being Woody Allen’s “I” m not afraid of dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens’ and Bob Monkhouse’s “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my father did; not screaming and crying like his passengers.”

But mostly we deal with death not through the wisdom of laughing in the face of its ultimate reality, or but with the laughable wishdom of an “immortal” soul that somehow either eternally survives in some “other” world, or keeps being “reincarnated” in this world in a series of different bodies. And in case our faith in such far-fetched nonsense fails, we can always pin our hopes on cryogenics.

In conclusion, in all honesty, I feel obliged to confess that, despite my carefully-cultivated skepticism and considerable thought I’ve yet to achieve even the degree of wisdom of which Socrates famously boasted in claiming that he was wiser than all his fellow ignoramuses in Athens, as unlike them at least he knew he knew nothing.

And in any event, I can’t help suspecting that even the very desire to achieve wisdom is probably nothing more than yet another symptom of the insatiable human appetite for self-deception, or in other words wishdom.

The George Washington University 2017 Commencement


May 23, 2017

The George Washington University 2017 Commencement

https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/us-sen-tammy-duckworth-urges-graduates-‘-get-arena

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth Urges Graduates ‘to Get in the Arena’

Sen. Duckworth, Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West and The Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron received honorary degrees as 6,000 students graduated from GW.

tammy duckworth

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), M.A. ’92, delivers the university’s 2017 Commencement speech on Sunday. One of Sen. Duckworth’s themes was embracing failure. (William Atkins/GW Today)
 

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) described Nov. 12, 2004, as her “alive day” during her George Washington University Commencement address Sunday on the National Mall.

“It was the day I almost died, but didn’t,” she said. “It was a good day for me.”

Flying over Iraq, Sen. Duckworth’s Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. The explosion vaporized one of her legs, she said, and blew off the back of her right arm. The aircraft instrumental panel amputated her other leg.

“I was quite literally in pieces,” Sen. Duckworth said. Yet, her crew refused to leave her behind, she said, and helped to save her life.

“I knew from that moment on I would spend every single day of the rest of my life trying to honor the courage and sacrifice of my buddies who saved me,” Sen. Duckworth told an estimated crowd of 25,000, including roughly 6,000 graduates, as the university celebrated the end of its 196th academic year.

The senator shared her personal story as part of her themes of embracing failure, taking advantage of opportunity and maintaining humility in which she referenced the words of President Theodore Roosevelt and rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar.

“Every time I got knocked down, I got back up. I dusted myself off, and I got back in the arena—when my face had literally been marred with dust and sweat and blood. And I am so glad that I did,” she said.

 

Resilience is increasingly important, said Sen. Duckworth, M.A. ’92. Especially with today’s challenges at home and abroad, the stakes are higher for students embarking on their post-university lives. She quoted President Roosevelt, who said, “There is no effort without error and shortcoming.”

“It’s really just an eloquent way of saying, don’t be afraid of failure,” she said. “Successful people didn’t make it because they never failed. They made it because they never gave up.”

She encouraged her soon-to-be fellow alumni to “step up.”

“You can be our nation’s next generation of leaders,” she said. “Luckily, as GW grads, you already have a head start on many of your peers. Over and over the students of GW have proven to be some of the most civically engaged students in the nation, showing leadership in and out of the political arena.”

But doing so, Sen. Duckworth said, requires trying, doing, putting yourself out there and—yes—sometimes failing.

“Don’t be afraid of failure,” she said. “Be afraid of never tasting it.”

And she urged graduates to remember the “good fortune and luck” they had that enabled them to experience the opportunities and take advantage of the resources at GW.

“Some of you have been lucky enough to afford tuition here without help, but even if you worked three jobs … there are people out there who aren’t as lucky,” she said. “I guess what I am saying is—to reference Kendrick Lamar—be humble.”

Sen. Duckworth urged students not to lose sight of what lays ahead, what remains to be accomplished.

“Don’t be a timid soul that knows neither victory nor defeat,” she said. “It is time to get in the arena.”

Congratulatory Remarks

Remarks from university leaders preceded Sen. Duckworth’s Commencement address.

Provost Forrest Maltzman welcomed graduates, highlighting the “one-of-a-kind” opportunity to celebrate Commencement on the National Mall. GW is the only university that holds its graduation ceremony on the Mall.

Dr. Maltzman recognized the achievements of GW’s graduates and those who supported them—family, friends and fellow alumni alike—and said Sunday’s setting at the foot of the Washington Monument, which was dedicated to the nation’s first president and GW’s namesake, was a “fitting tribute to your achievement.”

Introducing George Washington President Steven Knapp, Dr. Maltzman thanked Dr. Knapp, whose tenure as president ends July 31 after 10 years of service to the university. He noted how the university has advanced under his leadership.

“I know that what he is proudest of is the approximately 50,000 students who have graduated from this university during his tenure and who are each making their own contributions to the world,” Dr. Maltzman said.

steven knapp

George Washington President Steven Knapp charged graduates to keep alive their spirit, energy, imagination, commitment to service and curiosity. (William Atkins/GW Today)


Dr. Knapp continued “an important Commencement tradition” by thanking the parents, families and friends of the graduates.

Board of Trustees Chair Nelson Carbonell, B.S. ’85, said his GW education and friends have stayed with him and “continue to enrich life.”

His charge to graduates: “Take what you have learned and the pride and respect you have gained for your alma mater into the world as citizen leaders. Remember, who you are has been shaped by your experiences here at the George Washington University.”

Mr. Carbonell also took a moment to recognize Dr. Knapp—not only for the institution’s growth under his leadership but also for his direct involvement in students’ success, from move-in day to Commencement.

“President Knapp wants all of you to succeed in your future endeavors,” Mr. Carbonell said.

Special Recognition
Angela Sako, B.A. ’15, M.P.P. ’17, was selected as this year’s student speaker.

Her remarks Sunday were framed around life’s “welcomes”—the “welcomes” that many receive to uncertainty, challenges, new friends or a new university.

angela sako

Angela Sako delivers her speech Sunday. Ms. Sako’s theme was “welcoming” the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. (William Atkins/GW Today)


Ms. Sako was just 14 years old, a recently arrived immigrant from Albania by way of Italy who spoke little English, when her father died unexpectedly. She said she felt “so low” she wondered “if I could ever be lifted.”

But with support from family and friends, she said she transformed grief into resilience. She eventually was welcomed to GW with a letter of acceptance and a Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship.

She encouraged her fellow graduates to welcome the years ahead.

“Our journey ahead might hand us some bricks, but let us remember that if we welcome these challenges, and we encourage each other to open a window, a wide door will follow,” Ms. Sako said.

Dr. Maltzman also recognized this year’s recipients of the GW Awards, presented to students, faculty and staff who have made extraordinary contributions to the GW community. Richard Livingstone, B.A. ’12, M.P.A. ’17; C. Thomas Long, Ph.D. ’05, assistant professor of history and coordinator of undergraduate history advising; and Bridget Smith, B.A. ’17, were recognized with the awards Sunday.

Three other students—Howard Charles Goodison II, B.A. ’17; Antonia Keutzer, B.S. ’17; and Thomas Elms, B.A. ’17—assisted Dr. Knapp in conferring honorary degrees Sunday to Sen. Duckworth, Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, M.D. ’88, and The Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron.

Dr. Knapp highlighted the recipients’ many achievements and officially awarded each with an honorary degree of doctor of public service.

In his remarks, Mr. Baron talked about the importance of a free press as journalists face growing threats both around the world and in the United States. “The president has said that he is at war with the media,” he said. “We are not at war. We are at work.

“We are doing jobs inspired by the First Amendment, which was drafted by our nation’s founders with this fundamental idea: that the press—and all citizens—should hold government to account.”

Dr. West, the highest-ranking African-American woman in the history of the U.S. Army, said she was “truly honored, humbled and grateful” to receive the honorary degree, citing “the strong foundation that the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences provided in the art of being a compassionate healer.”

commencement 2017

Roughly 6,000 graduated from GW on Sunday. GW is the only university that holds its graduation ceremony on the Mall. (William Atkins/GW Today)


Main Event
Later, finally, GW’s most important degree recipients of the day got their turns.

The graduates joined a “lifelong and worldwide community” of GW alumni, now numbering more than 280,000, Dr. Knapp said.

Dr. Knapp charged them to keep alive their spirit, energy, imagination, commitment to service and curiosity.

“You are our future,” Dr. Knapp said. “We depend on you to repair what earlier generations have broken, to build what we have left un-built, to learn what we have not yet learned, to heal what we have so far left unhealed.

“And as you go forth to do these things, always know that, at the George Washington University, you have a home in the heart of this nation’s capital.”

 

GDP or GNH (The Bhutan Way)?


March 24, 2017

GDP or GNH (The Bhutan Way)–Maybe it’s Time to screw the  Economists and start looking at alternative ways to measure what makes life worthwhile

Image result for The Bhutan Way

Listen to this TED presentation by Chip Conley and reflect. I enjoyed it and wonder why we continue to measure only the measurable (the tangibles) and ignore the intangibles. As  someone who is trained in Economics (and does being taught this academic discipline make a economist?), I am wonder how it is that  I can be so misled and still have not abandoned GDP as a measurement of national wealth if I know it is misleading when intangibles matter more today. Maybe it is a force of habit. Should be I Aristotelian or Maslowian?  Let me know what you think.–Din Merican

 

Redefining Patriotism for a World of Corrupt Nation States


March 8, 2017

Redefining Patriotism for a World of Corrupt Nation States

by Gary ‘Z’ McGee*

Image result for The Worldly Patriot Eagle

“…there is perhaps no more blindly allegiant a patriot in the world than the United States American patriot. Born and bred in a nation that conditions its members into believing that plutocratic oligarchy disguised as horizontal democracy is the be-all-end-all of human governance.–Gary ‘Z’McGee

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/03/06/redefining-patriotism-world-corrupt-nation-states/

“Every transformation demands as it’s precondition the ending of a world, the collapse of an old philosophy of life.” ~Carl Jung

Webster’s Dictionary defines patriot as: “One who loves and defends his or her country.”

But why should we as progressive, evolving creatures, limit ourselves to such a myopic definition? Why not expand the concept into something less xenophobic and more cosmopolitan? Why not transform ourselves into worldly patriots along with an ever-expanding, deeply connected, interdependent world; rather than limit ourselves to stagnant statism with its outdated nationalism and parochial values?

There are no easy answers. It’s human nature to be patriotic to a place/tribe/nation-state. The problem is blind patriotism begets cultural conditioning begets statist propaganda and brainwashing, and vice versa. And when the state is corrupt, as almost every state is, patriotism becomes a redundancy: a confederacy of dunces, at best, and an eye-for-an-eye, at worst. But, as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Image result for gary z mcgee

And here we are, a world divided by unhealthy, overreaching, unsustainable, greedy nation states that have the majority of us at each other’s throat. Something has got to give.

The Statist Patriot

“The price of apathy toward public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato

The problem with the statist patriot, whether blind or not, is their allegiance to the state. And there is perhaps no more blindly allegiant a patriot in the world than the United States American patriot. Born and bred in a nation that conditions its members into believing that plutocratic oligarchy disguised as horizontal democracy is the be-all-end-all of human governance. The only chance for the brainwashed American is to dig down deep into the revolutionary roots that his nation was founded on in the first place, and then begin questioning the validity of the system. But patriotism can be blinding because it affects both the ego and the soul. It affects the ego through pride. It effects the soul through love.

We’re conditioned to be prideful in our nation’s accomplishments and to turn an eye of indifference toward its mistakes. We’re taught to love our country, our flag, our civic duties, even at the expense of other nations, the poor, and the environment. Patriotism becomes a default mechanism, a crutch that we lean on in order to get through the day with our guilt assuaged and our xenophobia intact.

The only glaring problem being that such patriotism becomes a tool for the overreaching, tyrannical, powers that be to maintain their power by keeping everyone else allegiant rather than divergent to the ways in which they rule. And to keep wars between nations as profitable endeavors. But as Derrick Jensen points out, “Those in power rule by force, and the sooner we break ourselves of the illusion to the contrary, the sooner we can at least begin to make reasonable decisions about whether, when, and how we are going to resist.”

One cannot resist, let alone make reasonable decisions, from a state of blind patriotism. It is only by redefining patriotism itself, by launching oneself into a state of interdependence and interconnectedness with the world, that one can finally see beyond conditioned pride and feel the blossoming of the soul that goes beyond the egoic self and beyond the prideful citizen and into a state of self-as-world and world-as-self into the self-overcoming of the world-patriot that breaks through the conditioning of the state.

The Worldly Patriot

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” ~ Helen Keller

A worldly patriot is a deconditioned statist patriot, an interdependent force that has grown beyond its codependent state. The worldly patriot has unwashed the brainwash of statist propaganda and emerged with a clear perspective that can see how everything is connected. The worldly patriot is neither blinded by pride nor love, but it is, rather, bolstered and emboldened by both, which gives him/her the courage to adapt and overcome within an ever-changing world.

Cosmopolitan and open-minded, worldly patriots have risen above the bigotry and xenophobia that was instilled into them by statist patriotism, and transformed it into compassion and empathy. They have seen through “The Great Lie,” and realize that the only chance for the survival of our species is to adopt a horizontal democracy void of masters and rulers, lest the entire system consume itself. They see how borders are imaginary lines drawn in the sand which the statist patriot has tricked himself into believing in, due to statist brainwashing. It’s a cartoon in the brain, shoved down our throats by a xenophobic system caught up in its antiquated ideals and outdated reasoning.

Worldly patriots are able to rise above the ignorance and myopia of the statist disposition and see how history reveals that the natural, progressive, and evolutionary force of our species has always been one of global migration, and no amount of petty man-made laws or make-believe borders will ever stop such a force. It may be slowed down in the short-run, using violence and immoral laws through the monopoly on force, but in the long run, immigration is a cosmic law that will always trump the man-made laws of nation states.

Worldly patriots have the courage to redefine patriotism itself. Their love for their country is subsumed by the far superior love for their planet. They have also transferred the defense of their country to the defense of the world as a growing, interdependent, cohesive organism. For them, the self-as-world has emerged as a force of nature that will fight, not only for the survival of the species, but for the survival and health of the environment.

Image result for che guevara quotes

Then I am your Homre, El Che. “Hasta la victoria siempre!” (“Until Victory, Always!”)–Din Merican

When the laws of a nation-state are moral and just, the worldly patriot follows them. When they are not moral and just, the worldly patriot breaks them. This is because the worldly patriot has become a self-ruling, self-overcoming, moral (amoral) agent unto his/herself. The worldly patriot can see through the nationalism that blinds the statist patriot, and, for that reason, is a forerunner in regards to the healthy and progressive evolution of the species.

Image result for che guevara quotes

At the end of the day, the more aware we become the less likely we are to remain blind patriots of the state, and the more likely we are to become worldly patriots united in solidarity against tyranny. And once we become aware of the outright tyranny of the state, a question of courageous action or cowardly indifference becomes the thing. And as Einstein himself said, “Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.” And now you know.

About the Author

*Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, whose works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.