The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India's spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice. -- Sri Aurobindo (from the message broadcast on the eve of August 15, 1947)

Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We are divided by our varying economic status, our ethnic backgrounds and our political beliefs. Allah created these divisions and celebrated them

Kenya: Let's Keep Religion Out of Politics The Nation (Nairobi)
OPINION 30 August 2007 Abdurahman Bafadhil
Nairobi KENYA'S SOCIETY IS DIVIDED along many lines. There is, of course, the most fundamental, which is ethnicity. The tribe is the most basic characteristic of the various divisions of society. Then there is race, which though as basic as tribe, usually attracts little attention. And then there is religion.
While Hinduism, Buddhism and the Sikh religion follow a racial pattern among their adherents in Kenya, Christian and Islamic adherents cut across every tribe in the country.
Although Christianity has the majority following, Islam today has followers in every town and in every community.
It is, therefore, logical to say that beyond the strict issues of religion - our belief in Allah and adherence to the Holy Prophet - Muslims in Kenya are different in their secular concerns.
We are, in the ways of the world, divided by our varying economic status, our ethnic backgrounds and our political beliefs. And these divisions are not only natural, but specifically made by Allah.
It therefore borders on blasphemy for any Muslim leadership to purport to use Islam to manipulate followers towards secular political objectives. It goes against Islam in two ways.
Firstly, because Allah created these divisions and celebrated them, they cannot now be made the object of ridicule and intrigue.
Divergent political following among Muslims is not only healthy for us as Kenyans, it is also quite in conformity with Allah's plans in creating us in diversity.
Secondly, and more fundamentally, Islam cannot be used to garner political following for a human being. That is tantamount to elevating the human being into the status of our Holy Prophet.
Recently, a group of Muslims going by the name Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, and also National Muslim Leaders Forum, declared they would support one candidate for the presidency. They even directed Mr Najib Balala to back that candidate's bid.
BUT THEN THIS RAISED THE QUESTION: What happens to Muslims in Kanu, Narc Kenya, ODM Kenya and Ford Kenya? Do they cease being Muslim? Are they to follow this candidate as a religious edict from imams and preachers in Kenya?
Every Muslim in Kenya has a right to make his or her independent decision on who to support for the presidency. And unless there is any candidate who has insulted our God, our prophet or our religion, there is no basis for any imam or preacher to intimidate Muslims to support one or the other.
One of my political mentors, Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir, in a sermon he gave in 1992 advising Muslims on how to respond to the new multiparty politics in Kenya, told the faithful that there was no Western-style democracy in Islam.
While a Western-style democracy is "a government of the people, by the people, for the people", he said, Islam is a theocracy: "Government of the people, by the people, for Allah".
And since there is no Islamic theocracy in Kenya, a predominantly Christian country, Muslims cannot participate in politics on religious assumptions. Presidential polls are a purely secular issue.
There are a number of questions raised by the action of Muslim leaders. For one, it is questionable from where Muslim imams and preachers derived the authority to pronounce religious edicts on secular matters.
It is also questionable how representative these edicts are of the thinking of all imams and preachers, and the whole Muslim community in Kenya.
It is imperative during this time of elections that Muslim leaders act responsibly towards Islamic adherents, instead of causing divisions amongst them.
Mr Bafadhil is Kanu chairman, Kisauni branch, Mombasa. Relevant Links East Africa Kenya Religion

Dr. Sachidanand Sinha was the first president of the Constituent Assembly

Constitution of India Wikipedia History
The Cabinet Mission
World War II in Europe came to an end on May 9, 1945. In July, a new government came to power in the United Kingdom. The new British government announced its Indian Policy and decided to convene a constitution drafting body. Three British cabinet ministers were sent to find a solution to the question of India's independence. This team of ministers was called the Cabinet Mission.
The Cabinet Mission discussed the framework of the constitution and laid down in some detail the procedure to be followed by the constitution drafting body. Elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by July-August 1946. With the independence of India on August 15, 1947, the Constituent Assembly became a fully sovereign body. The Assembly began work on 9 December 1947.

The Constituent Assembly
The Constituent Assembly was the body that framed the constitution of India. The people of India elected the members of the provincial assemblies, who in turn elected the constituent assembly. Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee were some important figures in the Assembly. There were more than 30 members of the scheduled classes. Frank Anthony represented the Anglo-Indian community, and the Parsis were represented by H.P. Modi. The Chairman of the Minorities Committee was Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, a distinguished Christian who represented all Christians other than Anglo-Indians. Constitutional experts like Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, B.R. Ambedkar, B.N. Rau and K.M. Munshi were also members of the Assembly. Sarojini Naidu and Vijaylakshmi Pandit were important women members.
Dr. Sachidanand Sinha was the first president of the Constituent Assembly. Later, Dr.Rajendra Prasad was elected president of the Constituent Assembly while B.R. Ambedkar was appointed the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.
Features
The Constitution of India draws extensively from Western legal traditions in its enunciation of the principles of liberal democracy. It is distinguished from many Western constitutions, however, in its elaboration of principles reflecting aspirations to end the inequities of traditional social relations and enhance the social welfare of the population. According to constitutional scholar Granville Austin, probably no other nation's constitution "has provided so much impetus toward changing and rebuilding society for the common good." Since its enactment, the constitution has fostered a steady concentration of power in the hands of the central government - especially the Office of the Prime Minister. This centralization has occurred in the face of the increasing assertiveness of an array of ethnic and caste groups across Indian society. Increasingly, the government has responded to the resulting tensions by resorting to the formidable array of authoritarian powers provided by the Constitution. However, a new assertiveness shown by the Supreme Court and the Election Commission suggests that the remaining checks and balances among the country's political institutions are resilient and capable of supporting Indian democracy. Furthermore regional parties are gaining popularity at the expense of national parties which has led to coalition governments at the centre. As a consequence, power is becoming more decentralised.
The Constitution in its final form owes much to a number of different principles from various other Constitutions. The general structure of the Constitution's democratic framework was largely the work of B. N. Rau, a constitutional scholar of international standing. Supporters of independent India's founding father, Mohandas K. Gandhi, backed measures that would form a decentralized polity with strong local government — known as panchayat — in a system known as Panchayati Raj, i.e. rule by Panchayats. However, the view of more modernist leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, ultimately prevailed leading to the establishment of a parliamentary system of government and a federal system with a strong central government.
Features of the Indian Constitution adapted from other Constitutions
British Constitution
Parliamentary form of government
The idea of single citizenship
The idea of the Rule of law
Institution of Speaker and his role
Lawmaking procedure
Procedure established by Law u/a 13
United States Constitution
Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is similar to the United States Bill of Rights
Federal structure of government
Power of Judicial Review and independence of the judiciary
President as supreme commander of armed forces u/a 52
Due process of law u/a 13
Irish Constitution
Constitutional enunciation of the directive principles of state policy
French Constitution
Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
Canadian Constitution
A quasi-federal form of government (a federal system with a strong central government)
The idea of Residual Powers
Australian Constitution
Freedom of trade and commerce within the country and between the states
Power of the national legislature to make laws for implementing treaties, even on matters outside normal Federal jurisdiction
Japanese Constitution
Fundamental Duties u/a 51-A
Weimar Constitution
Emergency Provision u/a 356
Criticisms
The Constitution of India differs from other western constitutions, from which it has derived inspiration, in the fact that it stipulates the supremacy of the legislature as the supreme law making body of the land. In that respect, it renders the legislative arm of government nominally more powerful than either the executive or the Judiciary. It is also widely criticised that although the underlying constitution is very sound, it has provided scope for misuse by people in power and its executive which is evident from the prevailing corruption and red tape in the country.

Monogamy is essentially a Judeo-Christian principle that was brought to India

INTRODUCTION Modern democracies such as the Indian Union and the United States of America* provide citizens with greater social and political rights, a higher standard of living, more leisure and better educational opportunities1. The extension of these benefits to more and more citizens during the past hundred years or so has been described as the process of the growth of the citizen or basic human equality- the fundamental rights due to individuals by virtue of their membership in a State. With the increasing democratization of governments, the fundamental problem has been to pull down the barriers of segregation and to offer equal opportunities to all.
The aim of democracy has everywhere been to eliminate "man made, socially fostered, discrimination that has enlarged for some and has restricted for others avenues that lead to education, income and advancement2." However, this doesn’t mean a refusal to recognize the natural differences in character and intellect. Owing to the differences in gifts which nature has bestowed on some and denied to others, natural inequality has been and must continue to be fact in society. Democracy however believes that in a climate of equal opportunities and privileges alone the differences in mental and moral equipment of man can best come out. The chief problems, which every government has to solve, are to reconcile this natural inequality as a fact with principle of Natural Equality Doctrine3. The author attempts to discuss this reconciliation process in India to provide social and legal equality to the citizens.
ANCIENT INDIA So far as the Ancient Indian Culture and Civilization is concerned, the Vedas and Smritis speak highly of equality and brotherhood-'Vasudhaika Kutumbakam (One World One Family)'. "The entire world is a family" was the motto of Vedic civilization4. All had equal opportunity in all walks of life in ancient India. The Vedic age was more liberal in providing equal status to the people. Buddhism, Jainism, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Sikhism and other indigenous Indian religions also preach the principles of brotherhood and equality.
In Bhagavadgita, Lord Krishna, the philosopher king and the incarnation of the Supreme God, too has preached the equality of all souls. However, the Supreme Lord himself created the four hypothetical classes in the human society on the basis of Guna, i.e., ability or nature of an individual, and the Karma, i.e., deeds or jobs performed by an individual, and not on the basis of birth5. Whereas the membership in a tribe or caste is determined by birth and is different from the membership in these classes. These hypothetical four classes are intellectuals and priests (Brahmana varna), rulers and warriors (Kshatriya varna), agriculturists and business persons (Vaishya varna), and artisans and other workers (Shudra varna) in a given society. These four classes include the thousands of real castes and tribes in this world. Each caste/tribe falls into one of these four hypothetical Vedic classes. The so-called casteism or the tribalism is based on the tribal and religious differences. Naturally, certain groups have monopolized certain trades. The tribalism segregated the society into ghettos of isolation and exclusiveness, sealing the society into insulated social divisions. This has been the case in every nation and society.
Added to this were gifts from a millennium of Islamic rule and occupation, such as the Purdah system among women and the child marriages. Then British rulers created a class of loyalists with an emphasis on communal and feudalistic basis and awarded them with titles, patronage and privileges. This created further discriminatory dimensions in the Indian society.
REFORMATION Since ancient times, there have been efforts by enlightened Indians to bring about equality through social and religious reforms, e.g., Lord Budha (5th century BC), Mahavir (5th century BC), Ashoka (2nd century BC), Shankara (7th century AD) etc. In the beginning of the nineteenth century a new process of social reforms started which received an impetus at the time of independence movement in 20th century. A pioneer among these reformers was Raja Ramamohan Roy. He compiled and edited the Hindu personal law of marriage, inheritance, religious worship, woman's status, woman's property and caste system, by introducing the most liberal principles of justice and equality. He worked out a synthesis of eastern and western social values and postulates against the common background of humanity6. He also started a movement for the emancipation of the oppressed classes and urged a return to the original Vedantas and for a total rejection of all the religious and social impurities that had crept into Indian society7.
Swami Vivekananda strongly condemned the social evil of segregation as a non-Hindu attitude. He said, "It is not in the holy books," and " don't touchism is a mental disease"8. Mahadev Govind Ranade regarded social advancement as the necessary prelude to political emancipation. Under the moral law, all men and women are equal and it is the supreme duty of man to love man and God with devout sincerity and reverent faith9.
Mahatma Gandhi fought against the social evils of racism, imperialism, communalism and segregation (so-called untouchability). He was very much against social injustices, tyrannies and oppressions. According to Mahatma, 'segregation was not a vital art of Hinduism, but was only an excrescence and a plague10...
WOMEN AND RELIGION Discrimination against women in India was prevalent in every sphere of life and most women experience some form of disadvantage just like in the USA even today. Law is an important institution in most contemporary societies as it regulates, controls and, in a way, pervades almost every aspect of people’s lives. For majority of Indian women, family life continues to be an important aspect of their existence. Family law plays a greater role in the lives of Indian women than the laws related to pay maternity benefits, property, etc...
Thus one measure of effectiveness of a law can be a gradual change in social attitudes, may be a partial change in the actual behavior of some- perhaps the elite of the society- who can in turn serve as role models to be emulated. Such transformation in the behavior of people, if widely achieved, can in turn lead to a structural transformation of institutions as well. For example, Hindu marriage has been transformed in the perception of people, from a polygamous union to a monogamous union in less than 40 years.
Although, Lord Rama emphasized on "one wife for life" principle, which is different from Judeo-Christian monogamy which prescribes "one wife at a time" and allows divorce and remarriage, polygamy and polyandry were also acceptable to Indians. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 prohibited polygamy. But, the only person entitled to bring charges against a person guilty of polygamy is the affected spouse. It does not need to be mentioned that most Indian women are not in a position to bring a legal action against their husbands. Yet, throughout India, Hindus practice only monogamy12, which is essentially a Judeo-Christian principle that was brought to India. Even extra marital associations such as concubines have disappeared to a large extent.

Nowhere so many saplings are seen growing on the walls of the buildings of a city

DECLINE OF A CITY - Existence determines consciousness in Calcutta
SURENDRA MUNSHI The Telegraph Front Page > Opinion >Thursday, August 30, 2007
A city may decline in different ways. Dilapidated buildings and roads in bad repair provide visible signs of this decline. Heaps of uncollected garbage and inadequate amenities such as transport do not show a city in a good light. Since the economic condition of a city indicates the viability of the city, deteriorating economy is no sign of a thriving city. A city may decline in terms of educational and health services as well. Institutions created to take care of them may be weakened by external or internal reasons. Falling professional standards may be yet another way in which a city declines. Intellectual and artistic cultivation may also show diminishing vitality.
Calcutta has declined in many ways. Once famous for its palaces, this city shows today crumbling buildings and roads, which lend themselves to the measurement of the depth of their potholes. A nature-lover on a short visit to Calcutta once told me excitedly that he had never seen anywhere so many saplings growing in the walls of the buildings of a city. The battered buses of Calcutta can be a good advertisement for the demerits of a transport system gone wild. The garbage in Calcutta piles up at all places. When it is transported away, it tends to be done in such a reckless manner that one wonders whether the purpose is to dispose of the garbage or to spread it all over the city.
Amartya Sen has talked recently of the de-industrialization of Calcutta and how, in recent times, there has been further decline due to misguided policies. It is quite visible, even to common persons, how industries set up under the British, such as jute, engineering and tea, which were located in or around Calcutta, have gone into decline. In other spheres as well, Calcutta has lost ground. It is sad to see students from Calcutta having to go out of their city in pursuit of higher education. Hospitals in south India are full of patients from Calcutta and other parts of West Bengal. This is happening to a city that was once in the forefront of education, including medical education and healthcare. As in reality, so in the world of images. While Calcutta was, at one time, the leading centre of film industry in India where Kundan Lal Saigal, the first superstar of the film world, came from outside and made his name, it is reduced today to making poor imitations of Bombay films. The Bengali film industry has still not recovered from the absence of Uttam Kumar, who died in 1980.
It is common among some circles in Calcutta to deny the importance of the physical decay of the city. The claim of Calcutta as the cultural capital of India is put up with chauvinistic zeal. It seems to be assumed that the physical condition of the city is inversely related to its cultural activity. It is as if Calcutta had a splendid cultural life because of its physical squalor. I do not buy this argument. As a person who has lived in Calcutta all these years, I have witnessed here a convincing demonstration of the elementary principle of Marx: existence determines consciousness.
The shrinking job market, the helplessness of the youth, the indiscipline of those already employed, the political patronage given to the worst elements in society, the pervasive sense of nothing significant happening — this debris of the dark years under Jyoti Basu with which Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is struggling hard has left its mark in less visible ways as well.
This point was driven home to me once when I went to pay my telephone bill. On my failure to render the exact amount, the man at the counter started shouting at me. “How do you expect me to have the change so early in the day?” — this seemed to be the theme of his outburst. When I pointed out that this was no reason to shout at me, he became even more aggressive. “Shouting? Am I shouting?” he shouted back. It took me some time to understand that he did not realize that he was being rude to me. What was rude behaviour to me was routine behaviour to him. It is this rudeness made routine that has become prevalent in social life. The decline of civility has taken place in a city which did pride itself at one time for its bhadra — civil — behaviour.

All religious faith, after all, depends on magical thinking

An Interview with Robert Spencer [Book Review] Christianity Good, Islam Bad? August 21, 2007 1:00 AM Is Robert Spencer’s new book Religion of Peace?—Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t just another addition to the “burgeoning literature of Islamophobia”? That’s the opinion of John Derbyshire, who contends that Spencer’s own Christianity is to blame for the book being “a bit infantile.” Asks Derbyshire: “If Christianity is a religion of peace, while Islam is irredeemably militant, what on earth does Spencer think is likely to be the outcome of a conflict between the two?” (Robert Spencer has notified PJM that he will write a response to Derbyshire’s review.) By John Derbyshire
A friend of mine who had a thoroughly Roman Catholic education at the hands of the Christian Brothers tells me that the religious component of that education consisted largely of memorizing arguments with which to confound atheists, agnostics, and Protestants.
Robert Spencer is not, strictly speaking, a Roman Catholic, though I believe his church is in communion with Rome. His writings, though, are very much in the spirit of those Brothers. Anyone who writes much is driven by some daemon or other. What drives Spencer is plainly the determination to tell the world how true, wise, just and fruitful altogether has been western Christianity, most especially in its pre-Reformation styles, and how vile, intolerant, cruel, and inhuman is Islam.
Spencer is exceptionally well equipped to do both things. He possesses deep knowledge of early Christianity—has a Master’s degree in this area, according to Wikipedia. His own Church is Syriac, and so I presume uses an Arabic liturgy, leading to the further presumption that Spencer is a fluent reader of Arabic. He has been poring over Islamic texts for decades, and can quote chapter and verse from the Koran (which he annoyingly spells “Qu’ran,” as if any western reader has a clue what to do with that “Q” and that apostrophe), the Sira (authorized biography of Muhammed), the Hadith (oral traditions about Muhammed), and the works of medieval Islamic scholars.
In Religion of Peace? Spencer uses all that scholarship to three ends.
  • First, he counters those who say that the more rambunctious kinds of American Christians are no better than, or may even be worse than, Muslim jihadists.
  • Second, he discourses on the theme that Islam is inherently militant and intolerant—that this is not a mere matter of interpretation—while no such thing is true of Christianity.
  • Third, he wants to tell us that modernity—science and political progress—had its origins in Christianity, while the stasis and stagnation of the Islamic world is similarly templated in the doctrines of Islam.

Man is noble, and worthy, not because he is a slave, but because he is free. That is what distinguishes the Judeo-Christian view from the Islamic view of mankind. Sheikh Muhammad Saleh al-Munajjid [a radical Saudi cleric] would say that mankind has value because human beings are the slaves of Allah. Jews and Christians, and even the secularists rooted in the Judeo-Christian culture, would say that mankind has value because human beings are free.
That is the difference. And that makes all the difference. (pp.206-7)
For my taste, Spencer spends altogether too much time on the first of those ends. The “equivalence” school of thought, the one that says that there isn’t anything to choose between Christianity and Islam in the way of militancy or obscurantism, is certainly real, but is it actually that important? Spencer thinks so: “This [equivalence] is the prevailing malady of the West in our time. It is why this book had to be written.” (p. 11)
I understand that this bogus equivalence must be very vexing to a committed Christian, but Spencer seems not to understand how wacky all religions seem to the irreligious. All religious faith, after all, depends on magical thinking. To people who eschew such thinking—people who prefer to ground their beliefs in the strict rules of evidence used in modern law and science—Mohammed’s flying through the air to Jerusalem on a white steed is no more preposterous than the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; and so, God’s instructions to us through Mohammed are no more or less likely to make us better or worse than his instructions through Christ.
That does not preclude the possibility—which I think is an obvious fact—that in the present state of the world, Islam contains a far higher proportion of crazy troublemakers that does Christianity. It is, though, the ultimate basis of the “equivalence” school, and one that a believer like Spencer cannot admit, nor even, in all probability, grasp.
Similarly with the apologetics that fill another large portion of this book. It is a handy thing, I guess, for argumentative Catholics to have, in the spirit of those Brothers, defenses of the Church in things like the Crusades and the Galileo business, all packaged neatly together with refutations of popular notions about medieval Islamic scholars having invented algebra and heliocentric astronomy.
However, a person whose leisure-reading tastes don’t run to this sort of apologetics, and who is plowing through Spencer’s book only from duty, or idle curiosity, or as a courtesy or professional chore, is bound to wonder whether an equally learned Islamic scholar, bent on making the opposite case, might not produce equally persuasive points, to be then rebutted by Spencer, who would be re-rebutted by the Islamist… To adapt an old doggerel:
Islamist fleas have Christian fleas Upon their backs to bite ’em. And Christian fleas have Muslim fleas, And so ad infinitum.
It’s all a bit tedious, unless you are the kind of person to whom it isn’t. After a hundred pages or so of this book, in fact, I began to feel—in spite of Spencer’s scholarship, which I do not doubt, and his expository skills, which are very fluent, and his brief against Islam, which I found persuasive—that there was something a bit infantile behind it all. To an irreligious person, it all looks a bit like a game of theological mumblety-peg: “My Yahweh can whup your Allah, nyah nyah!”
That same irreligious person, reading Spencer’s book, will likewise be startled by the author’s assertion that medieval and early-modern Roman Catholicism breathes the very spirit of rationality, and was the seed-bed from which modern science grew. To us pagans, it looks rather as though science only really got going when the power of faith had ebbed from its late-medieval high point; and then, it got going mainly in those north European nations that had embraced Protestantism after the Reformation.
Spencer will have none of that. “The Bible,” he tells us, “assumes that God’s laws of creation are natural laws, a stable and unchanging reality—a sine qua non of scientific investigation.” (p. 156) Hmm. Which part of the Bible assumes that? Joshua 10:13, perhaps, where Joshua commands the sun and moon to stand still? Or Matthew 17:21, the miracle of the loaves and the fishes? Or Acts 1:9, in which Jesus is taken up into the sky by a cloud? Some other part, perhaps.
This particular theme—that we should thank the Roman Catholic church for having midwifed the birth of science—is now common in Catholic apologetics. What seems to have happened is the slow realization, by Catholic intellectuals, of the appalling bad-publicity fallout from the Galileo affair (whatever the actual facts of that affair), leading to a determination never to be on the wrong side of any major scientific issue, ever again. Hence all the pronouncements from the hierarchy that biological evolution is a really spiffy theory, containing nothing that might offend believers… qualified with murmured insistences that, you know, God must have had something to do with it.
No doubt this is all very reassuring to the faithful. To non-Catholics, however, it is rather transparent, and at odds with the magical elements of the faith. And even if it were true that the church midwifed science, is it not the case that, following delivery of the newborn, the midwife’s services are no longer required?
Spencer’s more general assumption that our civilization is a child of Christianity can likewise be fairly doubted. Does religion in fact explain anything about history? It is of course impossible to know how different the world would have been if Jesus of Nazareth, or Mohammed, had died in the cradle; but the suspicion lurks that it might not have been very different. Would the Arabs have come surging out of their desert oases in the seventh century without the Prophet and his faith to inspire them? Would Frankish knights have taken ship to recover the Holy Land, if they had not considered it Holy, only a lost province of the Roman Empire? Would white Europeans have developed science and consensual democracy if they had been only white Europeans, not also Christians?
All that we know for sure about history and its great tides is that people here behaved like this, while people there behaved like that. Why? What were the determinants? “Modes of production,” thought Marx: geography, says Jared Diamond; it is even being whispered that (gasp!) biology might have had something to do with it. There are theories a-plenty, but this is a zone in which we truly understand very little. Robert Spencer, who is obsessively interested in the minutiae of religious doctrine, naturally assumes that religion is a, if not the, principal determinant of historical events. I see no reason for irreligious people to follow him all the way on this, though personally I’d guess that things would be somewhat other than they are if nobody had ever heard of that white steed or that Immaculate Conception.
* * * * *
Whatever the facts of that, it can hardly be disputed that we have got into the mess we are in with Islam today not so much because of the letter of Islamic theology, or the failure of enough of us to knuckle down to our citizenly duty and read the Koran (personally, I would rather undergo radical dentistry), as because we have executed policies of staggering idiocy.
There are now tens of millions of Muslims living in Christian nations; and this is the case because our nations allowed the tens of millions to enter. We need not have done so. Wise men as long as forty years ago were sounding the alarm about the gross folly of opening our territories to such numbers of strangers with whom we had nothing in common. If Islamia has sunk into the grip of a poisonous ideology—the ideology of jihadism—the Christian West (Spencer actually says “Judeo-Christian,” but that is just a lagniappe) has been seized by an even more destructive ideology: globalization.
The second ideology has in fact been the great enabler of the first. And, very uncomfortably for a Christian apologist like Robert Spencer (so uncomfortably he has not confronted it in this book, nor in any of the other writings of his I have perused; nor have I ever seen it mentioned in the rest of the burgeoning literature of Islamophobia), a great enabler of globalization has been the Christian tradition. If all men are brothers, heathens only a little less enlightened than Christians, they why should not a Pakistani, or a Somali, or for that matter a Mexican, come to live in the U.S.A.? Why should not ten million of each do so? Would it not in fact be un-Christian to refuse entry to those tens of millions? It beggars belief that anyone should hold such a civilizationally-suicidal view, but many Christians do—the current President of the United States, for example.
That leads more or less directly to this book’s most surprising omission: a failure to prescribe. If things are as Robert Spencer says they are, what is to be done? He offers nothing but a vague, half-hearted statement about the need for an “alliance” between “Hindus, Buddhists, secular Muslims [huh?—the previous 206 pages have left the rather strong impression that the only secular Muslim is a dead Muslim], and atheists.” (p. 207) What should we of the West do if such an alliance fails to appear? Or if, having appeared, it dissolves in squabbling, as it surely would? What shall we do to be saved?
It is true that the author is under no obligation to give detailed political prescriptions. He can fairly say: “I am a diagnostician. I have made a close study of Islamic texts. This is what I have found. These are the implications, so far as the behavior we can expect from Muslims is concerned. It is not for me, a retired and uncourtly scholar, to prescribe social policies.” That is a tenable point of view.
The degree of restraint it implies, though, is wellnigh superhuman. Most of us, if we knew as much as Robert Spencer does about the problem, would feel the urge, perhaps even the moral imperative, to suggest a solution.
Possibly the author takes the division-of-labor view I have just mentioned—“Not my job!” Possibly he has laid out a program in one of his other books (none of which I have read) and feels no need to repeat himself. Or perhaps he thinks that the solution that obviously follows from all his painstaking exegeses is so radical that if he were to state it clearly, he would be cast out from the sphere of “acceptable” commentary into the outer darkness of fringe politics and “hate groups”—a term which nowadays seems to embrace anyone who speaks unwelcome truths out loud.
If the last, that is a pity, for what Robert Spencer leaves unsaid needs saying.
If what he has told us is true—and so far as the present state if Islam is concerned, I think it is—then the West should proscribe Islam, and the sooner the better. We should not allow Muslims into our countries, other than for necessary diplomatic or scholarly purposes. We should revoke the visas and permits of resident aliens who are Muslims, and ensure their departure. We should offer to purchase the citizenship of Muslim citizens, and bribe them to leave. Those who will not leave should be carefully watched by the police, and subjected to social disabilities—they should not, for example, be admitted to the armed forces, or allowed to proselytize in prisons. (Take a religion addled with violence and infused with a hatred of our society, and teach it in prisons to the most violent and antisocial of our people? Have we gone stark raving mad?) Mosques and madrassahs should be closed, or at the least punitively taxed.
For the U.S.A. there would be some constitutional niceties to be sorted out, but I am not speaking of any grave injustices here, still less of any cruelty or harm, which no civilized person wishes to a fellow human being who has done nothing wrong. Millions of harmless, peaceful Muslims will of course be inconvenienced, but life comes with no guarantee of uninterrupted convenience, and moving from one country to another is not especially arduous—I have done it myself several times. Nothing in such a program of “separationism” is immoral or improper, unless the first word in the phrase “sovereign nation” has lost all meaning.
But there, of course, is the rub. There, too, perhaps, is the real reason why Robert Spencer does not follow his analysis with the separationist prescription it so clearly implies: the reason being, that there is no chance whatsoever of such a prescription being applied in any western nation.
For if there is a sickness in the soul of Islam, there is a corresponding sickness in the soul of the West. As the darkness, cruelty, and obscurantism of jihadist Islam, described in such detail in this book, descend on our lands, our souls rise joyfully to greet them.
Hospital staff in the Lothians [a region of Scotland] have been told not to eat at their desks to avoid offending Muslim colleagues during Ramadan. [The National Health Service in] Lothians has advised doctors and other health workers not to have working lunches during the 30-day fast, which begins next month. The health service’s Equality and Diversity Officer sent an e-mail to all senior managers, giving guidance on religious tolerance. This includes ensuring Muslim staff are given breaks to pray, and time off to celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan. It is understood they also advised hospital managers to move food trolleys away from areas where Muslims work.
It may even be that Robert Spencer suspects, at some level, that this sickness in the Western soul has its roots in Christianity, just like—according to him—every other aspect of our civilization.
A proposal by a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands that people of all faiths refer to God as “Allah” is not sitting well with the Catholic community. Tiny Muskens, an outgoing bishop who is retiring in a few weeks from the southern diocese of Breda, said God doesn’t care what he is called. “Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn’t we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? … What does God care what we call him? It is our problem,” Muskens told Dutch television.
Perhaps the humane forbearance of the Prince of Peace, and the moral universalism that His teachings imply, bear the seeds of self-destruction. Those seeds were slow to germinate in the long centuries when great mass migrations of people into well-settled lands could only be military affairs. However, the globalization movement of the past fifty years has allowed millions of souls to move and settle peaceably into the old Christian lands; and our old ideals, with whatever contribution—major and critical, according to Spencer—from their Christian component, have urged us to welcome the settlers, and have called fierce obloquy on anyone who complains.
Spencer can’t have it both ways. If “even the secularists” are “rooted in the Judeo-Christian culture,” then so are their impulses to hate that culture and yield to its enemies. So what does he expect? Indeed, the secularists, with all their Christophobia, are a better bet for standing and fighting against jihadism than Christians are. If there were a proposal to impose Sharia law in your town, who would you rather see riding to your aid: Christopher Hitchens, or Bishop Muskens?
One cannot help noticing that in Japan, where Christians form less than one percent of the population, and Christian traditions are not a significant component of the national culture, Islam is neither a problem nor a threat, simply because Japan does not let Muslims—nor any other foreigners—settle in great numbers. The Japanese don’t give a fig for the universal brotherhood of man, and still cherish their national sovereignty. We no longer care much about our sovereignty, so long as our bellies are full and we have gadgets and clowns to amuse us; and our bishops, not to mention our Christian President and the globalist elites who surround him, tell us that doubts about the wisdom of mass Third World immigration are unkind, if not actually “hateful” (not to mention damaging to their stock portfolios).
It is not so much secularism that is the problem as Christianity and its legacy. If, as the subtitle of his book declares, Christianity is a religion of peace, while Islam is irredeemably militant, what on earth does Spencer think is likely to be the outcome of a conflict between the two? If—to put faces on the abstractions—Roger Cardinal Mahoney and his parishioners were to engage in a waste-lot rumble with Abu Ayyub al-Masri and his parishioners, on which party would Robert Spencer put his money?
A sensibly exclusionist, separationist policy like Japan’s is therefore not available to us, because of our principles—those principles Spencer tells us are rooted in Christian thinking, those principles that send our author into such raptures of cultural superiority. Well, well: Christianity got its start as a religion of slaves. Perhaps it is fated to end the same way.
British-born John Derbyshire is the author most recently of Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra. His Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream: A Novel was a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year. ———Return to Pajamas Media homepage

He condemned the existing Hindu emphasis on rituals, ceremonies and superstitions

Pertinence of Vivekananda’s Apotheosis in Indian Social Diaspora
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 8/29/2007
Every pursuit of wisdom and knowledge bears the marks of its origin. In this milieu British, American, French and German philosophies are generally empirical, pragmatic, rationalistic and speculative in nature, but in that vein Indian philosophy can be adumbrated as meditative because it bobs up as the upshot of a kind of meditation on the holy powers of the soul and nature. However today Indian philosophy is very much anxious to retain the forces of centuries of its tradition through which it has grown and yet it can’t afford to overlook the ‘scientific facts’ and ‘the empirical attitude’ of the present day society.
Among the galaxy of philosophers the vision of Swami Vivekananda elucidates far and wide. He was not a social and political philosopher in the sense we regard Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Marx or Gandhi. On politics Swami Vivekananda once said ‘let no political significance be ever attached falsely to any of my writings, saying, what nonsense! I will have nothing to do with nonsense, I do not believe in politics, God and Truth are the only policy in my word and everything else is trash’. The present society needs his ideas and ideals because of his stress on social action. According to him knowledge unaccompanied by action in the actual world in which we lived was useless. So he proclaimed the essential oneness of all religions and condemned any narrowness in religious matters. In 1896 thus he wrote, ‘for our own motherland a junction of the two great system, Hinduism and Islam is the only home’. Due to this broad vision he has carved out a place for himself in the galaxy of modern philosophers for two reasons:
Firstly, his personality and teachings exercised great influence on the nationalist movement of Bengal. He was such an ardent patriot that his heart was always burning with love for his motherland, his soul yearning for its liberation and vision always aspiring to see it united. Unlike other philosophers of his age who conceived in the miracles of western civilisation, Vivekananda understood fully well the essence of freedom and democracy.
Secondly, he put forth most eloquently his views regarding the solution of some of the pressing problems of the country. He was one of the first to pay attention to the misfortune and sufferings of the masses. So, he said, "I consider that the greatest national sin is the neglect of the masses and that is one of the causes of our downfall. If we want to regenerate India, we must work for them".
He condemned the present system and the existing Hindu emphasis on rituals, ceremonies and superstitions prevalent in the society and urged the people to imbibe the spirit of the liberty, equality and freethinking. Once he bitterly remarked ‘there is a danger of our religion getting into the kitchen. We are neither Vedantists, most of us now, nor puranics, nor tantrics, we are just ‘don’t touchist’. Our religion is in the kitchen. Our god is in the working pot and our religion ‘Don’t touch me, I am holy’. So he assumes if this goes on for another century, every one of us will be in a lunatic asylum. Vivekananda inspired the people to fight for their rights and instilled in their hearts confidence in their own strength...
Vivekananda was also a great humanist of the society. Shocked by the poverty, misery and suffering of the common people of the country he said “the only god in whom I believe, the sum total of all souls and above all, my god is wicked, my god the afflicted and my god the poor of all races”. And the way of knowing this god is through the intensity of feeling, only strong emotions have the capacity to awaken and activate the potential power of them. About liberty of thought, he said to the people that “liberty in thought and action is the only condition of life, growth and well being: where it does not exist, the man, the race and the nation must go down”. Swamiji used the organic analogy in his analysis of society. He wrote, “the aggregate of many individuals is called Samashti (whole), each individual is called Vyashti (a part). You and I each is Vyashti and the society is Samashti. The Samashti like the Vyashti is a body, an organic life, a developing mind and soul. If any Vyashti wants social progress then he is to sacrifice some of his own interests for the sake of Samashti”. Therefore, all individual have to transcend his or her pretty interests for the well being of the society. It can be done only through gradual transition from egocentricity to sociability and it will bring a man near to human goals.
Vivekananda’s concept on society is quite consonance with the spirit of Vedanta. As a Vedantist, he never hesitates in identifying the true nature of man of Atman with Brahman itself. There is one Atman, oneself that is eternally pure, eternally perfect, unchangeable and all these various changes in the universe are but appearance in the one self. So, he regarded Vedanta as a rational explanation of the universe and accepted religion not only as the backbone of society but also as the central theme of national life. Vedanta could reconcile all religions and sects. He turned the religion from theory to practice, from static mass of rituals to dynamic faith. He socialised religion making it an instrument for social and national resurgence.
To the literate Indians, Vivekananda said “ so long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold everymen a traitor, who having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them”. For the enhancement of the society in 1986 he founded the Ramakrishna Mission to carry on humanitarian relief and social work. The mission carried on social service through its various branches by opening school, hospitals and dispensaries, orphanages, library etc. He laid emphasis not on personal salvation but on social good or social service. Emancipation of women and uplift of the masses formed two most important items in Swamiji’s programme of social regeneration of India. He traced the downfall of Indian society to the continued neglect of women and masses. The uplift of the women and awakening of the masses must come first and then only can real good come about for the country. The training, by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful, is known as education. According to him ‘education is that by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased and intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s feet’. Purity, thirst for knowledge, perseverance, faith, humility, submission and veneration are some of the conditions which he laid as necessary for the taught in education. That’s why he tries to give his philosophy a humanistic garb and at the same time, recommends humanitarian work and service to the society. Swamiji enunciates that state is composed of individuals and he stressed that noble virtues should cultivated by individuals to make the state virtuous. Without virtuous individuals it is futile to expect the state being great or prosperous. So individuals are more valuable than all the wealth of the world.
Contribution of Vivekananda to Indian renaissance is immensely rich. He laid the foundation of new India and the new nationalist school that developed under the leadership of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Sri Aurobindo had a common basis of thought in his Neo-Vedantism. Some of the poems of Rabindranath Tagore indicate that he too was influenced by Swami’s ideas of living and working. Subash Bose recognised Swami as his spiritual teacher. Nehru showered endless encomiums on Vivekananda in his book “The Discovery of India”. Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy on truth and on non-violence also deeply influenced by Vivekananda. The passionate appeal of Vivekananda to the young men of India to forward and dedicate their lives to the nation did not go waste.
Although in a practical standpoint, Vivekananda personally could not do much work for a radical reconstruction of Indian society, but he awakened the soul of India and awakening the soul of a nation necessarily forms a part of social programme, by which three years after his death nationalist movement in India burst forth into a tempest. So Swami’s mission was both national and international. He was endowed with a Prophet’s vision and delivered his message unto the world masses. His message was not for the hour, but for the age, not for Indian society alone, but for the whole of the world society, just to yield a vision of reality to the society. Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a universally renowned Gandhian scholar, Indologist and writer. He is the Former Vice-Chancellor of University of Meerut.

U.S. should invade Brazil because we can make better use of their resources than they can

What I've been reading by Tyler Cowen Marginal Revolution
1. Open Secrets of American Foreign Policy, by Gordon Tullock. A history of the bloopers and stupidities of American foreign policy, from virtually day one. If you think Gordon embraces a narrow, reductionist rational choice view of the world, here is the antidote. Gordon tells me that foreign policy has long been his number one interest, although he has written on the topic only now.
2. One Economics, Many Recipes, by Dani Rodrik. I agree with much of the substance of this book, namely that we know a lot less about the causes of economic growth than we like to think. I am less happy with the implied rhetorical choices; in particular I wish Rodrik were more consistently agnostic. For instance Rodrik defends industrial policy, but at times this just translates into lower (or no) taxes for export zones. So why frame it as a larger rather than a smaller claim?
3. The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by CrackpotEconomics , by Jonathan Chait. I've taught Ph.d. macroeconomics to some of the people referred to, either directly or indirectly, in this book. They didn't all get A pluses. So I see the talk of conspiracy as way, way overblown. This book catalogs many good criticisms of the Bush administration, and in that sense is valuable, but it does not raise the level of debate.
4. Do Economists Make Markets?, an edited collection of essays. How could they not cite Alex's Entrepreneurial Economics? Or pay homage to Robin Hanson and prediction markets? Still, this is a useful introduction to how economists have tried to shape real world markets, from spectrum auctions to options pricing.
Posted by Tyler Cowen on August 29, 2007 at 11:53 AM in Books Permalink Comments
What good timing for Mr. Chait's book, coming on the heels of the Scott Beauchamp triumph. Posted by: Rich Berger at Aug 29, 2007 2:04:17 PM
It's funny how I always used to be a strong Hayekian in the sence that humans couldn't possibly create synthetic markets anything like those born from slow evolution, but after reading Ken Binmore and Vernon Smith, I've changed my mind. Posted by: Toni Heinonen at Aug 29, 2007 2:12:58 PM
I once read an article about Tullock where he was quoted as saying something like the U.S. should invade Brazil because we can make better use of their resources than they can. That is not one bit funny. Posted by: David J. Balan at Aug 29, 2007 4:11:19 PM
Gordon often asks me the Brazil question. His point is not to advocate invasion, but rather to make it clear that it is hard to explain why the United States resists particular actions... Posted by: Tyler Cowen at Aug 29, 2007 10:27:39 PM

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Religion has so much power over the human mind, classical liberalism is an intellectual offshoot of Christianity

I view Discover Your Inner Economist as largely Thomist and more Catholic than anything else.
It is suggested that people are capable of simply doing the right thing, although we should not necessarily expect them to do the right thing.
It is suggested that a unified perspective of faith and reason, applied in voluntarist fashion, can indeed give people better and more complete lives.
It is suggested that not everything can be bought and sold, yet markets have a very important role in human life.
The chapters on food, or the seven deadly sins, are too obvious to require explanation.
The book is highly cosmopolitan, and it is suggested that acts of will and understanding can open up the sacraments to us. The possibility of those sacraments lies right before our very eyes, and they are literally available for free. Except the relevant sacraments are those of culture, and not of the Roman Church.
I am not a Catholic or for that matter a believer, but as I tried to solve various problems in the exposition, the argument fell naturally into religious ideas. Religion has so much power over the human mind, in part, because its basic teachings about life are largely true. Furthermore classical liberalism is far more of an intellectual offshoot of Christianity than most non-Christians are keen to admit. (Muslims and Chinese often see this more clearly.)
So when I realized that Inner Economist had this strongly Thomist philosophic flavor, I was greatly comforted.
In this post the Episcopalians ponder their Inner Economists. I hope to write more soon on political philosophy in Discover Your Inner Economist. Posted by Tyler Cowen on August 29, 2007 at 06:59 AM in Religion Permalink

Provoke and encourage the asking of new and perhaps the right questions

[REVIEW ARTICLE] Centrality of the Political Once Again Neera Chandhoke
EPW Current Issue : VOL 42 No. 34 August 25 - August 31, 2007 See Full Contents>>
India after Gandhi:The History of the World’s Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha
Guha merely mentions that constitutional democracy has been supplanted by populist Democracy. But what is populist democracy? Democracy led by populist leaders? This insight holds tremendous implications for the way we conceptualise democracy in India. The fact that we have managed to hold regular elections is glamourised so much that we forget that democracy is much more than a percentage of people turning out to cast their vote. We need a theory of democracy that tells us how people make their own history despite all odds, even if the histories they make are not the histories they chose to make in the first instance. This is what democracy is about, about procedures and processes that enable people to speak back to a history that is not of their own making, despite populist leaderships that deal in so much political fluff. But Guha does not develop his incipient theory of democracy. And this is disappointing
Finally, let me suggest at least three factors that continue to cast a dark cloud on the prospect that Indians will experience a feeling of strong belonging to each other, in and through the practices of civic nationhood.
Firstly, as long as the Kashmir problem remains, communalism will continue to bedevil intercommunity existence. The impact of Mani Ratnam’s film Roja on communal sentiments in regions distant from the Kashmir valley is enough proof of this. We cannot share sentiments of pride that we are citizens of India, and that India is the world’s largest democracy, as long as our own people are subjected to immense and senseless violence in the valley, and as long as the Indian state continues to violate basic rights of the inhabitants in that part of the country. India is turning 60, and 60 is a good age to reflect on where we want to go, and where we do not want to go.
Perhaps the maturity that the age of 60 is expected to bring will encourage a reasoned solution to the Kashmir problem. Enough blood has been spilt in the valley; it is time for reconciliation and for compensating for historical wrongs. Walter Lawrence who as an able administrator of the British empire was sent to J and K to iron out the wrongs of the then ruler, was to write of the Kashmiri people thus, "they were really a very fine people, a people who never had a chance".9 Should these historical wrongs not be rectified today when independent India turns 60? Should not the Kashmiri people be given a chance to come into their own? Guha’s politically sensitive handling of the Kashmir issue should be cause enough to prompt a resolution of the problem.
Secondly, though according to Guha India’s civil society is by all accounts vibrant, and marked by solidarity and awareness of historical wrongs, a sense of belonging to a country called India, can be ensured only when groups eschew independent or partial agendas, and come together to fight for justice for all victims of history. The civil liberties movement can arguably provide an umbrella for bringing these groups together – feminist, anticaste, anti-communal, anti-globali sation, and anti-all other evils. We have a lively civil society even if it is occasionally messy, but it is also prone to fragmentation and easy manipulation by the state. All democratic movements need to forge a common cause; that of solidarity, to battle the politics of rank symbolism: an Ambedkar statue "here", and some more reservations "there", a handout here, and a favour there, which pit community against community, and religion against religion.
Thirdly, is it not also time that we complete the task of institutionalising protections for the vulnerable sections of society, and begin to look at victims of history in other parts of the world, through the lens of a common humanity and solidarity? Philosophers in the west are speaking of obligations to a globalised humanity, of reaching out to people who have been disadvantaged by our collective histories of exploitation and subordination, and of global justice and cosmopolitanism. And we are looking increasingly inwards to community and caste, and sub-community and sub-caste, and agonising over who should we should eat with, and who our children should marry or not marry.
Is it not time that we in India settle, even, provisionally the "narcissism of minor differences", and begin to communicate and connect with others, if not in the world, in our region at least? We have turned inwards for too long; we have been preoccupied with "me" and "mine" for too long. Civilised societies are not hemmed in by ethnic or national borders; they are marked by the language of generosity and obligation, and the ability to feel pain for human beings even if these human beings live in societies far away. We should try and recover some of the cosmopolitanism of Nehru that Guha has dwelt on so lovingly, and some of Nehru’s commitment to shimmering solidarity with other countries of the south.
These are issues which the book under review does not touch, but these are issues that are catapulted onto research agendas by a close reading of Guha’s book. And here lies precisely the strength of this work. For arguably the purpose of social science enquiry is not to provide the right answers, which are for this reason considered settled, but to provoke and encourage the asking of new and perhaps the right questions. Guha’s book is noteworthy for this very reason. He is to be congratulated. Email: neera.chandhoke@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Religious values have been directly linked to growth of capitalism

‘Religion key factor in US foreign policy’ Walter Russell Mead Daily Times
LAHORE: “Religion is the basic component of US foreign policy,” Walter Russell Mead, a US foreign policy expert said. He was speaking on ‘How the US Foreign Policy has changed the World?’ at the Chapel Hall, Forman Christian College.
He said it was the general perception that the US was a secular cum liberal state, but it was not right. He said religion had always been an integral part of the US from the day one. He said the importance of religion was identified in all cultures, existing in the US and it has been giving importance to Anglo- protestant values. In the US, he said, religious values have been directly linked to growth of capitalism.
He said nowadays only those religions were progressing which supported capitalism. He said at this time the follower of the Abrahamic religions; Muslims, Christians and Jews were growing across the world, but it was a tragedy that these religions have been fighting each other. He said the followers of these religions should cooperate with each other regarding development. He criticised the concept of the clash of civilisations, saying that these three religions have no clash, as their foundation was the same.
Organiser of the lecture, Dr Saeed Shafqat, Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG), said the basic purpose of organising this talk was to educate the people about the importance of religion in US foreign policy. He said, “We have selected Walter Russell Mead for the lecture as he is Henry A Kissinger senior fellow for US foreign policy at the council on foreign relations. Professors and intellectuals from various institutions attended the lecture and they asked questions on the topic from the speaker on the occasion. staff report

It's becoming increasingly difficult for the people of various ethnic groups to participate in a common activity

Fifty years on, race, religion still haunt Malaysia
in.reuters.com: Tue Aug 28, 2007 12:38 PM IST
As Malaysia marks 50 years of independence from British rule this week, the nation remains a split personality -- exposing worrisome racial and religious divides, and stoking fears of more tension ahead of an anticipated early general election.
There are still three separate stripes of Malaysians -- Malays, Chinese and Indians -- and racial tensions rumble under the fun-loving surface of this relatively prosperous developing nation.
"It's becoming increasingly difficult for the people of various ethnic groups to participate in a common activity," said prominent historian Khoo Kay Kim.
"It covers every aspect of life now, even sports. It never used to be so sharp."
Race and religion are touchy issues in multi-racial Malaysia, where Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of a population of roughly 26 million. Hindus, Buddhists and Christians dominate among the Indian and Chinese minorities. Many non-Muslims are also upset the authorities and the courts are allowing their rights, including freedom of religion, to be trampled by the Muslim majority.
MALAYSIA TRULY ASIA?
Dubbed the "melting pot" of Asia for its potpourri of cultures, Malaysia has long been held up as a model of peaceful co-existence among its races and religions.
That may no longer hold true.
"Views of increasing intolerance and religious polarisation have negatively impacted how Malaysia has been perceived," said Bridget Welsh, a political scientist at John Hopkins University... in.reuters.com Home > News > World

By denying divine causality, authority and purpose, secular modernism and postmodernism removed the foundation for public morality

As religion declines, crime rises It's no coincidence that lawlessness and violence thrive in secular societies CHARLES MOORE The Daily News
Theories abound as to underlying reasons society's moral fabric is in tatters. Here's one of mine: decline of religious faith. Hordes would disagree with that. But one thing that can't be disputed is that when Christianity had more cultural traction, and most people showed up in church - however hypocritically in some cases - the positive moral influence spilled over into broader culture. Without reference to divine authority, the values-consensus necessary to maintain social order disappears. Moral breakdown in radically secularizing societies is predictable, and inevitable.
To be sure, through the past two Western millennia, a majority have probably never been more than nominally Christian. But whether or not they personally attempted to live by Christian moral standards, until very recently nearly everyone assented to those precepts as the benchmark by which right and wrong can be tested and measured. And most believed in some sort of ultimate accountability. The survival of civilization rests on this dynamic.
By denying divine causality, authority and purpose, secular modernism and postmodernism removed the foundation for public morality, leaving maintenance of social order dependent upon the residual moral capital of the Christian era. By the late 20th century, that momentum had pretty much spooled down. We witness the consequences every day on newspaper pages and TV screens.
cwmoore@gmx.netCharles W. Moore is a Nova Scotian freelance writer and editor whose articles, features, and commentaries have appeared in more than 40 magazines and newspapers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.

Philosophical underpinnings of constitutionalism as a principle are corrupt

We need to be guided more by the common good, based on the natural law
Vox Nova Monday, August 27, 2007
In one of the comments on some thread last week, somebody mentioned the importance of a written constitution, especially as a guarantor of basic human rights. I'm not so sure. My first reaction was to think of Thomas Hobbes, for I believe that the prevailing post-Enlightenment constitutionalism as legal doctrine emanates directly from the thought of Hobbes. It was Hobbes who, more than anybody else, led to the idea of social contracts overtaking the common good as the object of policy. Hobbes did not see humanity as an organic community underpinned by the common good; he saw instead a collection of individuals all seeking mastery over each other (the "war of all against all"), necessitating some form of social contract to keep the peace. Hobbes had in mind an authoritarian form of government, but later thinkers applied the notion that law is all about the importance of contracts to more democratic forms of government.
The notion of a written constitution, although having clear pre-Enlightenment precedents, is very much a child of the Enlightenment. At its very core is the idea that a peaceful, well-ordered society calls for a clear social contract between citizens. And, what precisely, is the problem with that? It is this: its individualist approach means that some can be easily excluded from the contract. What matters is not the all-encompassing common good, but only the rights of those individuals that are subject to the contract. The rest don't matter. Thus in the example of the United States, slavery was deemed perfectly compatible with a written constitution predicated on individual human rights because blacks were deemed as outsiders, not falling under the social contract.
While slavery is in the past, the same problems manifest themselves in different ways today. The social contractarian approach is ideally suited to nationalism, because the foreigner does not benefit fully from the social contract. Japanese-Americans could be interned. Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be bombed. The present administration took the line that foreign nationals could be held indefinitely as "enemy combatants" without trial and without basic rights, and could even be tortured. Note that in this debate, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the fact that most of the abuse took place off US soil (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the Afghanistan prisoners, and the CIA secret sites). The same distinctions are routinely made in the "warrantless" surveillance debate. Implicit (and often explicit) in this analysis is the notion that non-American citizens do not enjoy the basic rights of the written constitution. Sometimes the truth seeps out very clearly. In the infamous Maher Arar case, the lawyer for the US government argued that foreign nationals presenting themselves at the doorstep at the US have at most the right against "gross physical abuse." That's it! So much for the much-lauded Bill of Rights.
Much of the outrage of so-called "illegal immigration" also flows naturally from the social contractarian approach to basic human rights and its designation of insiders and outsiders. How else could massive deportation be so casually invoked as a policy solution? And look at abortion. The main argument used by those on the pro-abortion side of the debate is that the unborn child is not a person enjoying constitutional rights, whereas the mother is. As Catholics who emphasize the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God, this argument is wholly unpersuasive. But for a social contractarian, it makes perfect sense. For there is no class of outsider more marginal, more distant from the debate, more without a voice, than the unborn. How can they be part of the social contract?
So where do we stand? As Pope Benedict says, not everything that comes from the Enlightenment is bad. The constitutional approach to law can sometimes serve a valid purpose as a means to an end, contributing to social harmony. But we must resist the temptation to elevate constitutionalism as a principle, as an end it itself, for its philosophical underpinnings are corrupt. We need to be guided more by the common good, based on the natural law. And that common good encompasses men and women, black and white, Christian and Muslim, American citizen and foreigner, born and unborn... etc. Posted by Morning's Minion at 9:12 AM Labels: , Comments (25) Trackback

Monday, August 27, 2007

History opens windows on the future

Volume 9 2007 FUTURECASTS Tomorrow's news today!
2007 Futurecasts review

2007 Near Futurecast
21st Century futurecast
Economic futurecast
Government futurecast
International futurecast
Military futurecast
Middle East futurecast
Heedless government

Government by crisis
BOOKS OF CONSEQUENCE BOOK REVIEWS
Katzen & Willett, "
Eat, Drink &Weigh Less"
Harrison & Huntington,
"Culture Matters"
Gaddis,
"The Cold War"
Gratzer,
"The Cure"
ECONOMIC BASICS
Friedman & Schwartz, "Monetary History of U.S., (1867-1960),"Part I,
"Greenbacks & Gold (1867-1921)"
Friedman & Schwartz, "Monetary History of U.S. (1967-1960),"Part II, "Roaring Twenties Boom - Great Depression Bust (1921-1933"
Friedman & Schwartz, "Monetary History of U.S. (1867-1960),"Part III,
"Age of Chronic Inflation (1933-1960)"
ARTICLE and ARTICLE REVIEW
Reynolds,
"The New Regionalism: How Globalism Reorders the Three Worlds of Development."

Administered Prices & Health Care Entitlements
ARCHIVE CATEGORIES
Economic Basics
Great Depression Chronology
Foundations of Freedom
Book Reviews

Authoritative Myths
FUTURECASTS ARCHIVE[ECONOMIC BASICS
Knowledge is power!
Adam Smith,"The Wealth of Nations" (Economic Theory)
Part I,
Capitalist Market Mechanisms
Part II,Government Economic Policy.
David Ricardo, "Principles of Political Economy."(Economic Theory)
Joshua Muravchik,"
Heaven on Earth" (History of Socialism)
Friedrich A. Hayak, "
Road to Serfdom" (Socialism)
Karl Marx,"Capital (Das Kapital)" vol. 1(Communist Theory)
Part I,
Value Determined by an Abstract Labor Standard
Part II,Contradictions Asserted in Capitalist Industrialization
Karl Marx,"Capital (Das Kapital)"vol. 2(Communist Theory)
Part III,
The Circulation & Expansion of Capital
Part IV,
Criticism of Adam Smith
Karl Marx,"Capital (Das Kapital)"vol. 3(Communist Theory)
Part V,
Profits
Part VI,
Interest, Rent, & Labor Use-Values
John Maynard Keynes, "The General Theory of Employment, Interest & Money."(Economic Theory)
Part I,
Elements of the General Theory
Part II,
Interest Rates, Aggregate Demand, & the Business Cycle.
Martin Wolf, "Why Globalization Works."( Market System Globalization)
Part I,
Globalization of Market Systems
Part II,
Criticism of Market Globalization

David S. Landes,
"Wealth & Poverty of Nations" (Economic Development)

FOUNDATIONS OF FREEDOM
Monk, "The Words We Live By"Annotated Guide to U.S. Constitution
Part I,
1789 Constitution of the United States
Part II,Amendments to the Constitution of the United States
Bowen, "Miracle at Philadelphia"The Constitutional Convention
Part I, "
The Divisive Issues that Threatened the Union,"
Part II, "
The Compromises and Accommodations that Made the Nation."
Isaacson, "Benjamin Franklin"
Ellis, "
His Excellency, George Washington"
McCullough, "John Adams"
Ellis,
"American Sphinx," Thomas Jefferson
Rakove, "
James Madison,"
Tocqueville,
"Democracy in America,"
BOOKS OF CONSEQUENCE BOOK REVIEWS
20th Century History
History opens windows on the future!
David Kennedy,"Freedom from Fear" (I)
The Great Depression
David Kennedy,"Freedom from Fear" (II)
World War II
J. M. Roberts,"Twentieth Century"
Conquest, "Reflections on a Ravaged Century"
Gaddis,
"We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History" (1945-1963)
Kotkin,
"Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse" (1970-2000)
Meier,
"Black Earth, A Journey Through Russia After the Fall."
Economics
Porter, Takeuchi & Sakakibara,
"Can Japan Compete?"
Shiller,
"Irrational Exuberance"
Enriquez, "
As the Future Catches You"
Chow,"
China's Economic Transformation."
De Soto,"
Mystery of Capital"
Krugman, "
Return of Depression Economics"
Hendry & Ericsson, "
Understanding Economic Forecasts."
Gordon, "
The Business of America."Economic History
Globalization
O'Rourke & Williamson, "
Globalization and History"
Backman, "
Asian Eclipse"
Wallace, "
The Future of Ethnicity, Race, & Nationality" & Inkeles, "One World Emerging?"
Garson,
"Money Makes the World Go Around"
James,"
End of Globalization"
Anderson,"
All Connected Now"
Irwin,"
Free Trade Under Fire"
Bhagwati,"
Free Trade Today"
Stiglitz, "
Globalization and its Discontents"
Government
Shleifer & Vishny, "
The Grabbing Hand"
Dror:"Capacity to Govern"
Andrisani, Hakim & Leeds, "
Making Government Work."
Lobel,"
Presidential Judgment"
Levitt,"
Take on the Street"
Chow,"
Knowing China"
Olson,"
The Rule of Lawyers"
Posner, "
Frontiers of Legal Theory, "
Brimelow,
"The Worm in the Apple"(Education)
Calleo, "
Rethinking Europe's Future"
International Affairs & U.S. Foreign Policy
Nye, "
Paradox of American Power"
Nye, "
Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics"
Mearsheimer, "
Tragedy of Great Power Politics"
Brzezinski,"
Geostrategic Triad"
Mead,"
Special Providence"
Gaddis, "Surprise Security & the American Experience."
Chua, "World on Fire"(Ethnonationalist Hatred)
Boot: "
The Savage Wars of Peace"(Military History)
Barnett,
"The Pentagon's New Map"(Military Strategy)
Futures Research
Armstrong:"
Principles of Forecasting."
Glenn & Gordon,"
State of the Future at the Millennium"
Duin,
"Qualitative Futures Research for Innovation"

Hendry & Ericsson, "
Understanding Economic Forecasts."

Miscellaneous
Willett,"
Eat, Drink & be Healthy" (Health)

Posner,"
Public Intellectuals"(Advocacy scholars)
Theroux,"
Dark Star Safari" (Africa)
Guest,
"The Shackled Continent." (Africa)
Herman, Olivo, Gioia, "
Impending Crisis"(Management)
Kotlikoff & Burns,
"The Coming Generational Storm"(Demography)

THE DEBUNKING OF AUTHORITATIVE MYTHS
Great Depression Chronology
Summaries of controversies and facts
The Crash of '29
Rebound from Crash of '29
Collapse of agriculture (1930)
Debate begins (1931)
Collapse of international finance (1931)
Collapse of WW-I financial obligations (1932)

Collapse of governments (1932-1933)
Great Depression links
Authoritative Myths
Speak the truth, my son! Though the heavens fall from the sky, speak the truth!
20th century absurdities
Economic myths
Economic statistics
Profits and capitalist productivity
Myths that have misguided policy
Modern advocacy scholars
25 year economic forecasts
Capital as purchasing power
Future economic myths
Observations in Czech Republic & Eastern Germany
Observations in China
Understanding Inflation
Who Is To Blame?
Why Do They Hate Us?
Keynesian theory from Keynes to Krugman