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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Forcing others to live lives more spartan and puritan

Paper Moon (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
That the modern environmental movement is infected with a huge dollop of puritanism -- with a large number of persons who itch to force others to live lives more spartan and less enjoyable -- needs no further proof than this "report" appearing on the front-page of yesterday's New York Times.

It's ironic, is it not, that this report appears in a newspaper?
Here's the letter that I sent earlier today to the New York Times.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Some may view money as a curse. Not The Mother

Editorial from Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore
What about money in an individual’s life?

It is this material, money, that fetches food for survival, clothing and shelter, the basic needs of life. It is money that guarantees that little pleasures are taken care of, the little extras of vanity, that little extra that makes one look fashionable, the little bit more of that special bite, that little bit more of convenience to rest our limbs, that little more of comfort and coziness, whichever niche of the world we occupy, even if momentarily.

It does not take long to realise that money and the fulfillment of desires are close cousins. The very invitation to think about what money may mean to one, is troubling. It may be troubling because something within resists a revamp of the structure that one has built with money and all the comforts it has helped one to build around oneself.

Money is generally viewed as a material. However, there is an alternate way of viewing our relationship with money. The Mother suggests that money is also a “force” with power behind it, power to make and break, to build and destroy. This then depends on the wielder of this instrument called money.

  • Who is he who is given the use of money ?
  • What drives his motivations, what is his highest need in life?

These will determine how he uses this force, money. We are troubled over the money world of current times, the way it has wound itself into a destructive tension or unwound itself into disarray and breakdown. But how could we have motivated, fueled this chaos (at least as it stands to date) in the money market, with our sets of values on what is important to us?

Some may view money as a curse. Not The Mother. She says that money can become a blessing instead of the curse it now appears to be in many ways. We are left to fathom the knots and tangles and to find a connectedness, between our seemingly unending impulses of desire, their somewhat partial fulfillment and the vehement cry for more and also the real possibility of transcending this state of affairs into freedom from the clutches of this power and to use it in that freedom instead, far removed from personal, narrow, short-sighted gains.

This, one is invited to do without going far; by taking a dive deep down, discovering and recognising first the knots and tangles and then the prime need of one’s life and after that, inquiring into the possible snowball effects of our money moves in every corner of the earth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Local leaders have searched for new anchors to ground their social identities and political loyalties

Religious Nationalism and Transnationalism in a Global World
Mark Juergensmeyer University of California, Santa Barbara Science, Culture and Integral Yoga on Sat 10 Jan 2009 09:56 AM PST Permanent Link

Ethnicity and religion to the rescue of nationalism
In the contemporary political climate, therefore, religious and ethnic nationalism provides a solution to the problem of secular politics and global control in a multicultural world. As secular ties have begun to unravel in the post-Soviet and post-colonial era, local leaders have searched for new anchors to ground their social identities and political loyalties. Many have turned to ethnicity and religion. What is ideologically significant about these ethno-religious movements is their creativity. Although many of the framers of the new nationalisms have reached back in history for ancient images and concepts that will give them credibility, theirs are not simply efforts to resuscitate old ideas from the past. These are contemporary ideologies that meet present-day social and political needs.
In the modern context this is a revolutionary notion—that indigenous culture can provide the basis for new political institutions, including resuscitated forms of the nation-state. Movements that support ethno-religious nationalism are, therefore, often confrontational and sometimes violent. They reject the intervention of outsiders and their ideologies and, at the risk of being intolerant, pander to their indigenous cultural bases and enforce traditional social boundaries. It is no surprise, then, that they get into trouble with each other and with defenders of the secular state. Yet even such conflicts with secular modernity serve a purpose for the movements: it helps define who they are as a people and who they are not. They are not, for instance, secularists.

Since secularism is often targeted as the enemy, that enemy is most easily symbolized by things American. America has taken the brunt of religious and ethnic terrorist attacks in recent years, in part because it so aptly symbolizes the transnational secularism that the religious and ethnic nationalists loathe, and in part because America does indeed promote transnational and secular values. For instance, America has a vested economic and political interest in shoring up the stability of regimes around the world. This often puts the United States in the position of being a defender of secular governments. Moreover, the United States supports a globalized economy and a modern culture. In a world where villagers in remote corners of the world increasingly have access to MTV, Hollywood movies, and the internet, the images and values that have been projected globally have often been American.
So it is understandable that America would be disdained. What is perplexing to many Americans is why their country would be so severely hated, even caricatured. The demonization of America by many ethno-religious groups fits into a process of delegitimizing secular authority that involves the appropriation of traditional religious images, especially the notion of cosmic war. In such scenarios, competing ethnic and religious groups become foes and scapegoats, and the secular state becomes religion's enemy. Such satanization is aimed at reducing the power of one's opponents and discrediting them. By humiliating them--by making them subhuman--ethno-religious groups assert the superiority of their own moral power.

The future of religious and ethnic politics in a global world
Emerging movements of ethnic and religious politics are therefore ambivalent about globalization. To the extent that they are nationalistic they often oppose the global reach of world government, at least in its secular form. But the more visionary of these movements also at times have their own transnational dimensions, and some dream of world domination shaped in their own ideological images. For this reason one can project at least three different futures for religious and ethnic nationalism in a global world: one where religious and ethnic politics ignore globalization, another where they rail against it, and yet another where they envision their own transnational futures.

Non-globalization: new ethic and religious states
The goal of some ethnic and religious activists is the revival of a nation-state that avoids the effects of globalization. Right-wing movements in Europe and the United States that reject regional and international alliances usually imagine that their nations could return to a self-sufficient economic and political order that would not rely on global networks and transnational associations.
Where new religious states have emerged, they have tended to be isolationist. In Iran, for instance, the ideology of Islamic nationalism that emerged during and after the 1979 revolution, and that was propounded by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his political theoretician, Ali Shari'ati, was intensely parochial. It was not until some twenty years later that new movements of moderate Islamic politics encouraged its leaders to move out of their self-imposed international isolation (Wright 2000). The religious politics of Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban was even more strongly isolationist. Led by members of the Pathan ethnic community who were former students of Islamic schools, the religious revolutionaries of the Taliban established a self-contained autocratic state with strict adherence to traditional Islamic codes of behavior (Marsden 1998). Yet religious politics need not be isolationist.

Previous: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
Next: Representing Swami Vivekananda: Some Issues and Debates By Makarand Paranjape

Not to confuse human rights, with the rights that human beings have

Nicholas Wolterstorff: February 24th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Just one point of response to Kevin den Dulk’s generally very accurate and perceptive comments. It is not my view that all natural rights “inhere in the worth bestowed on human beings by [God's] love.” I am of the view that that is true for all those natural rights that are human rights.

But it is far from the case that all natural rights are human rights. A human right is such that all one needs, to possess the right, is to be a human being. But for many natural rights, one has to be something much more specific than that. Children, for example, have natural rights that adults do not have, and conversely. It is important here not to confuse human rights, with the rights that human beings have. Only a few of the rights that human beings have are human rights.

I find that a good many readers misunderstand me on this point; I conclude that it is something that I did not make sufficiently clear, even though I think my terminology is very standard. The Immanent Frame 5:56 PM 6:47 PM

Saturday, February 21, 2009

European Union is getting more centralized as well as protectionist every day

Thoughts On "Market Day" from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik

We are fortunate that today we also have access to a speech by Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic, at the European parliament. As a representative of a nation that suffered greatly under communist rule, Havel emphasizes the concerns his countrymen have over a European Union that is getting more centralized as well as protectionist every day. Havel says that the EU should have just two functions: one, removing barriers to trade; and two, public goods that cannot be provided for by member nations acting alone or jointly. He deplores the fact that the EU is headed in the opposite direction. He says:

“… the present economic system of the EU is a system of a suppressed market, a system of a permanently strengthening centrally controlled economy.”

He also deplores the protectionism that is rife in the EU. He finds it hilarious that the EU has imposed a 66% import duty on candles from China. It is as if Bastiat’s Candlemakers’ Petition has become reality. Do read the full speech here. This is the kind of politics we need in India. We too should put communism and socialism firmly behind us.

19.2.2009 - ENGLISH PAGES
Speech of the President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus in the European Parliament [...]
the methods and forms of European integration do, on the contrary, have quite a number of possible and legitimate variants, just as they proved to have in the last half century. There is no end of history. Claiming that the status quo, the present institutional form of the EU, is a forever uncriticizable dogma, is a mistake that has been – unfortunately – rapidly spreading, even though it is in direct contradiction not only with rational thinking, but also with the whole two-thousand-year history of European civilization. The same mistake applies to the a priori postulated, and therefore equally uncriticizable, assumption that there is only one possible and correct future of the European integration, which is the “ever-closer Union”, i.e. advancement towards deeper and deeper political integration of the member countries.Neither the present status quo, nor the assumption that the permanent deepening of the integration is a blessing, is – or should be – a dogma for any European democrat. The enforcement of these notions by those, who consider themselves – to use the phrase of the famous Czech writer Milan Kundera – “the owners of the keys” to European integration, is unacceptable.

Moreover, it is self evident, that one or another institutional arrangement of the European Union is not an objective in itself; but a tool for achieving the real objectives. These are nothing but human freedom and such economic system that would bring prosperity. That system is a market economy.

This would certainly be the wish of the citizens of all member countries. Yet, over the twenty years since the fall of communism, I have been repeatedly witnessing that the feelings and fears are stronger among those who spent a great part of the 20th century without freedom and struggled under a dysfunctional centrally planned and state-administered economy. It is no surprise that these people are more sensitive and responsive to any phenomena and tendencies leading in other directions than towards freedom and prosperity. The citizens of the Czech Republic are among those I’m talking about.

The present decision making system of the European Union is different from a classic parliamentary democracy, tested and proven by history. In a normal parliamentary system, part of the MPs support the government and part support the opposition. In the European parliament, this arrangement has been missing. Here, only one single alternative is being promoted and those who dare thinking about a different option are labelled as enemies of the European integration. Not so long ago, in our part of Europe we lived in a political system that permitted no alternatives and therefore also no parliamentary opposition. It was through this experience that we learned the bitter lesson that with no opposition, there is no freedom. That is why political alternatives must exist.

And not only that. The relationship between a citizen of one or another member state and a representative of the Union is not a standard relationship between a voter and a politician, representing him or her. There is also a great distance (not only in a geographical sense) between citizens and Union representatives, which is much greater than it is the case inside the member countries. This distance is often described as the democratic deficit, the loss of democratic accountability, the decision making of the unelected – but selected – ones, as bureaucratisation of decision making etc. The proposals to change the current state of affairs – included in the rejected European Constitution or in the not much different Lisbon Treaty – would make this defect even worse.

Since there is no European demos – and no European nation – this defect cannot be solved by strengthening the role of the European parliament either. This would, on the contrary, make the problem worse and lead to an even greater alienation between the citizens of the European countries and Union institutions. The solution will be neither to add fuel to the “melting pot” of the present type of European integration, nor to suppress the role of member states in the name of a new multicultural and multinational European civil society. These are attempts that have failed every time in the past, because they did not reflect the spontaneous historical development.

I fear that the attempts to speed up and deepen integration and to move decisions about the lives of the citizens of the member countries up to the European level can have effects that will endanger all the positive things achieved in Europe in the last half a century. Let us not underestimate the fears of the citizens of many member countries, who are afraid, that their problems are again decided elsewhere and without them, and that their ability to influence these decisions is very limited. So far, the European Union has been successful, partly thanks to the fact that the vote of each member country had the same weight and thus could not be ignored. Let us not allow a situation where the citizens of member countries would live their lives with a resigned feeling that the EU project is not their own; that it is developing differently than they would wish, that they are only forced to accept it. We would very easily and very soon slip back to the times that we hoped belonged to history.

This is closely connected with the question of prosperity. We must say openly that the present economic system of the EU is a system of a suppressed market, a system of a permanently strengthening centrally controlled economy. Although history has more than clearly proven that this is a dead end, we find ourselves walking the same path once again. This results in a constant rise in both the extent of government masterminding and constraining of spontaneity of the market processes. In recent months, this trend has been further reinforced by incorrect interpretation of the causes of the present economic and financial crisis, as if it was caused by free market, while in reality it is just the contrary – caused by political manipulation of the market. It is again necessary to point out to the historical experience of our part of Europe and to the lessons we learned from it.

Many of you certainly know the name of the French economist Frederic Bastiat and his famous Petition of the Candlemakers, which has become a well-known and canonical reading, illustrating the absurdity of political interventions in the economy. On 14 November 2008 the European Commission approved a real, not a fictitious Bastiat’s Petition of the Candlemakers, and imposed a 66% tariff on candles imported from China. I would have never believed that a 160-year-old essay could become a reality, but it has happened. An inevitable effect of the extensive implementation of such measures in Europe is economic slowdown, if not a complete halt of economic growth. The only solution is liberalisation and deregulation of the European economy.

I say all of this because I do feel a strong responsibility for the democratic and prosperous future of Europe. I have been trying to remind you of the elementary principles upon which European civilisation has been based for centuries or even millennia; principles, the validity of which is not affected by time, principles that are universal and should be therefore followed even in the present European Union. I am convinced that the citizens of individual member countries do want freedom, democracy and economic prosperity.

At this moment in time, the most important task is to make sure that free discussion about these problems is not silenced as an attack on the very idea of European integration. We have always believed that being allowed to discuss such serious issues, being heard, defending everyone’s right to present a different than “the only correct opinion” – no matter how much we may disagree with it – is at the very core of the democracy we were denied for over four decades. We, who went through the involuntary experience that taught us that a free exchange of opinions and ideas is the basic condition for a healthy democracy, do hope, that this condition will be met and respected also in the future. This is the opportunity and the only method for making the European Union more free, more democratic and more prosperous. Václav Klaus, European Parliament, Brussels, 19 February 2009 [12:35 PM]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Many of these cultures have roots that pre-date western leadership models

Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age (Paperback) by Juana Bordas (Author)

Editorial Reviews
Product Description As the world becomes flatter and globalization creates a world village, it is imperative that leaders have the cultural flexibility and adaptability to inspire and guide people from very distinct backgrounds that represents the whole rainbow of humanity. Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Nation puts forth a multicultural leadership model that integrates eight practices from African American, Indian and Latino communities. Using principles such as ?Sankofa ? the ability to learn from the past?, ?I to We ? From Individualism to collective identity?, and ? Mi casa es su casa ? Developing a generosity of spirit?, this model offers leaders new approaches that will increase their interpersonal effectiveness with diverse populations by incorporating the influences, practices and values of a variety of cultures in a respectful and productive manner.

From the Back Cover "Salsa, Soul, and Spirit shows us the importance of looking at other cultures for the wisdom of their leadership practices. Many of these cultures have roots that pre-date western leadership models and offer a rich fountain of knowledge that can enhance American leadership."--Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level

"What a remarkable contribution Salsa, Soul, and Spirit makes to leaders in all three sectors as they work to provide rich diversity, powerful inclusion, and equal access within the organization and in society."--Frances Hesselbein, Chairman, Leader to Leader Institute and former CEO, Girls Scouts of America
"Bordas has taken the philosophy and spirit as espoused by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders and fashioned leadership principles that further the dream of an equal and just society." -- Ambassador Andrew Young, Civil Rights Leader, former Mayor of Atlanta, and Congressman from the Fifth Congressional District of Georgia
"This wonderful book made me want to dance with joy. In Western society, we suffer from a loss of community and spirit because we're so disconnected. American Indian, Latino, and African American cultures have never forgotten that we need to be together, and that diversity is not a problem, but a blessing. May this book lead you to discover what we've been missing--each other."--Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science
"Juana Bordas has broken new ground. She has documented and analyzed the effective and unique practices of Latino, Black, and American Indian leaders. Salsa, Soul, and Spirit is a fascinating read that shows us the road to leadership for a multicultural America."--John Echohawk, Pawnee, Executive Director, The Native American Rights Fund
"To be relevant--let alone thrive--in the 21st Century, business leaders need a new awareness of our interdependency and a new leadership paradigm like that described in Salsa, Soul, and Spirit." --Jack Lowe, Board Chair, TDIndustries
"The politics of inclusion is not just some politically correct idea. It's essential to the adaptability of any organization or society that must rely on new ideas and synthesis in a changing world. Juana Bordas has given us a first-hand inspirational primer, full of wisdom and insight, for anyone practicing leadership that challenges people to thrive anew."--Dr. Ron Heifetz, Cofounder, Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government
"Salsa, Soul, and Spirit is a refreshing and inspiring vision of a new form of leadership for the 21st Century. Bordas captures the unique but successful models of leadership developed by racial and ethnic minorities. Our nation would greatly benefit from leaders who embody these traits."-- Honorable Federico Pe?a, former Mayor of Denver, US Secretary of Transportation, and US Secretary of Energy
"A penetrating, highly personal study of American Indian, Black, and Latino leadership, presented in a manner that should attract a wide readership. A multicultural study at its best." --James MacGregor Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning Presidential biographer and author of Leadership
"Frequently, people say it is too hard to have both excellence and diversity. Salsa, Soul, and Spirit shows not only why it doesn't have to be that hard, but also why it is critically important at this moment in history to develop organizational leadership that is both excellent and diverse. People need to read this book."--John Hickenlooper, Mayor of Denver
"Salsa, Soul, and Spirit is a compelling, vibrant, and engaging exploration of the deep roots of multicultural leadership. It will challenge your view on leadership. Bordas' personal journey to integrate her Hispanic culture into her own leadership witnesses the great benefits of blending cultures rather than assimilating them."--John Izzo, author of Awakening Corporate Soul and Value Shift
"Reflecting the traditions of Black, Latino, and Native American cultures, Salsa Soul, and Spirit fashions a leadership model based on community, generosity, and a commitment to work for the common good. These proven leadership practices that sustained communities of color for generations are a source of strength, hope, and wisdom which will guide us through the turbulence of the 21st century." --LaDonna Harris, Comanche, President and Founder, Americans for Indian Opportunity
"Salsa, Soul, and Spirit fills a necessary void in the study of leadership with its integration of the common elements of spiritual and programmatic leadership that are typical of minority approaches to social problems and which also builds the basis for coalition politics."--Dr. Ronald W. Walters, author of African American Leadership
"It is empowerment time in America--a time to live up to the basic values of equality and justice. Empowerment means closing the racial divide and opening the doors to leadership at all levels, so it represents our great and dynamic diversity. Salsa, Soul, and Spirit is a roadmap to guide us on this journey and invites us to work together to create an America that benefits from the beauty and potential of all its people." --Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League and former Mayor of New Orleans
"Juana Bordas clearly understands that building an inclusive America requires leadership forms that respect and resonate with our growing diversity. Salsa, Soul, and Spirit provides an excellent roadmap that can transform and energize leadership into an authentic multicultural form that is truly representative of our great nation and it's unifying ideals." --Honorable Anna Escobedo Cabral, Treasurer of the United States
"Juana Bordas is one of our nation's most effective facilitators of Leadership Development. Salsa, Soul, and Spirit brings together her years of experience and insights. Her book is unique because it offers principles for leading in an increasingly diverse America. A must-read for those interested in becoming leaders of our multicultural society." --Raul Yzaguirre, President Emeritus, National Council of La Raza See all Editorial Reviews

Most Recent Customer Reviews

A MUST READ BOOK FOR ALL I was pleased with my recent Amazon book purchase. The book was priced much cheaper than if purchased in the book store. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Good Choice


Leading with great spirit! This book reflects the life experience of a woman of color who has shattered many glass ceilings and has paved the way for others to follow. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Belinda Conter


Leadership for a multicultural age Juana Bordas provides a fresh perspective on leadership by weaving the traditions of Latino, African American and Native American's together in her book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Anna Alvarez Boyd

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Get back to the real economy and create real wealth through enterprise, hard work and innovation

Home This is a community website for the well wishers of Sangh Parivar. The aim of Sangh Parivar is to take Bharat to the pinnacle of glory. Sangh Parivar Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam This website is independent of any Sangh Parivar organisations.
The Financial Meltdown and the Triune Crisis : An Integral Perspective
Article By: O. P. Dani , Chairman, CAS Corporate Consultants Pvt Ltd., Noida and M.S. Srinivasan, Research Associate, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry.

The casino culture has usurped honest economic enterprise which creates a real wealth for the society. Next to currency trading, the other form of casino is the trading in stocks, the Wall-Street culture of making money without ethics and effort and creating anything useful for the society. John M. Huntsman, chairman and founder of Huntsman Corporation, the world’s largest privately owned chemical company, writing on the Wall-street culture, states:

“There are many professions in which one can find examples of hollow values but nowhere is it more evident than on Wall Street where the ruling ethos seems to be more you deceive the other guy, the more money you make— Wall Street has but one objective and one value. How much money can be made?”7

This brings us to the true purpose of wealth or money. The main problem with the modern economy is that money, instead of being used for enriching the material and economic life of humanity, is being used for making more money through speculative transactions. This is a complete travesty of the true purpose of economics. As the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram points out:

“Money is not meant to make money. The idea that money must make money is a falsehood and a perversion. Money is meant to increase the wealth; prosperity and the productiveness of a group, a country or better, the whole earth.”8

So the first step in resolving the crisis is to get back to the real economy and create an economic order which rewards production of real wealth through enterprise, hard work and innovation. As Juan Samavia, Director-General of International Labour Organization of UN points out:

“We have to come back to the basic legitimate function of finance which is to promote the real economy – to lend so that entrepreneurs can invest, innovate, produce jobs and products” and create “public policies and smart regulation that rewards hard work and enterprise once again.”

FREE-MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM We are now brought to the other major source of instability –the dogmatic and religious faith in the unregulated free market. The hard-core capitalistic thinking which puts a too heavy emphasis on “deregulation” and freedom from all control by the government or any other agency is one of the main causes of the present crisis.

Inspirational Speech by Shri Arabindo: 15th Aug 47
If Old Age wasnt there We would have been 'Manupanzee
By Vishwa Mohan Tiwari, Air Vice Marshal (retd.)
Jaagore!!! Submitted by Vikas on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 21:49.
The contemporary Hindu predicament By Dr. Gautam Sen
- Insight A Marxist leader evaluates his ideology—VII
Improve standard of English all Sangh supported schools in India. hindu_sthan
Anti-Hindu bias on Wikipedia (Appeal)

Spirituality and Organisational leadership: Can profit and ethics shake hands

Professor Walter Baets

Is accounting profit any different from destruction of societal value ?
Last week, we have been able to participate in a conference on Spirituality and Organisational leadership in Pondicherry, India. A very interesting gathering of management scholars and managers, that share the care for meaning in what they do. Of course the region is intriguing, since it is the land of Sri Aurobindo, and there is at least the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville that are very peacefull places, inviting for contemplation, and worth more than a visit.

The conference closed on a debate around the theme: Can profit and ethics shake hands. I had the pleasure to be invited to take part in the panel and learned that profit is probably understood differently in different managerial cultures. Referring to Gandhi, one of the panellists suggested that the purpose of business is to make as much profit as possible, in order to return it afterwards to society. We were clearly on two different concepts of profit, but fortunately on the same concepts of ethics and responsibility. February 18, 2009 Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

Consciousness and Development
I would like to draw your attention to an electronic publication, made by an NGO, named Spanda, about Consciousness and Development. I am honoured to have been able to contribute to it, along with people like Peter Russell, Ervin Laszlo, Amit Goswami, Rupert Sheldrake, Sahlan Momo, Stanislav Grof, Charles Tart, Toru Sato, Steve McIntosh, Christian de Quincey, Riane Eisler and John Renesch. A precious New Year's gift that I am very pleased to offer you. December 27, 2008 Comments (2) TrackBack (0)

Principles for Responsible Management Education
Last week, on December 4 and 5, around 300 management educators (deans, directors, professors) met in the UN Headquarters in New York, for the First Global Forum for Responsible Management Education (PRiME). The principles themselves have been drafted by an Academic Task Force and handed to the Secretary General of the UN on the Global Compact Summit in July 2007 in Geneva.
This Forum, amongst others, was a continuation of an ongoing discussion amongst academics, on how the Global Compact Principles, already translated in the PRiME Principles, apply in Management Education. There were workgroups on Research, New Learning Methodologies, How to start, etc. I had the pleasure to present the results of the workgroup on New Learning Methodologies and I am happy to share with you the findings/suggestions. December 07, 2008 Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

Complexity theory: where are we?
Last week I participated in the fourth Organization Studies Summer Workshop titled "Embracing Complexity: Advancing Ecological Understanding in Organization Studies", in Pissouri, Cyprus. If interested, I presented a paper titled: The ecology of management: Cassandra, a holistic diagnostic for sustainable performance. One of the keynote speakers was Frederick Turner, and he gave a wonderful overview of the state of the art of complexity, that I want to share with you.
Complexity gives a new view on causality. It re-introduces freedom, since the universe is not fully deterministic. Keep in mind that unpredictable does not mean unintelligent. Since freedom regains its importance in science, choice, intention and purpose become real issues. Choice might not be so mysterious as we have made it.
Feedback became the norm. Material qualities and abstract physical laws are consequences of feedback and not the other way round. Even based on positive feedback, complex systems can be very robust. Positive feedback is in no way less robust than negative feedback. Unpredictability is a matter of survival.
We have a new concept of time: time will not go away. Classical science has always made an attempt to rationalize away time. Time is irreducable and irreversible, which gives birth to emergence.
We have a new ontology of recognisable shapes. We have understanding of a new class of shapes: fractals, strange attractors, etc. (in between shapes, strange, entangled, but beautiful shapes). New shapes allow for new questions to be asked.
We have strange attractors instead of dualism. Function and purpose become central issues. The strange attractor (a fractal form) is an ideal form. New species are strange attractors. Are values to be considered something different than strange attractors?
Modelling, eventually, needs new tools, that go above and beyond observations, hypotheses, testing, etc. Non-linear dynamic modelling, or fractals, and the like allow to play around with the interactions and to see when and how we visualize reality. But we still have to learn how to use these tools.
Finally, Turner asked a few questions that I am glad to repeat:
What is the role of emotions in the new science (are they the drivers? are they strange attractors?)
What is the role of aesthetics?
Does promising makes determinism (or is it freedom?)
How does intention change the brainstructure?
All these facts and questions, management research has ignored asking for years. But more and more management researchers are concerned with understanding reality. June 09, 2008 in complexity and management Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

A better business model
First of all an ode to "Ode". Ode is a very interesting, fresh and meaningfull magazine. According to his founder and editor, Jurriaan Kamp, a magazine for intelligent optimists. It believes in progress, ongoing opportunities and the creativity of humankind. February 09, 2008 in Social entrepreneurship Comments (2) TrackBack (0)

Leaders need Salsa
Not my words, but those of Juana Bordas (Salsa, Soul and Spirit). She gave an interview in my favourite Ode. March 01, 2008 in organisational metaphors Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ashoka is the global association of leading social entrepreneurs

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Machiavelli, Tocqueville, Mussolini

Tocqueville on American Character: Why Tocqueville’s Brilliant Exploraton of the American Spirit is as Vital and Important Today as it was Nearly Two Hundred Years Ago by Michael Ledeen

Michael Ledeen takes a fresh look at Tocqueville’s insights into our national psyche and asks whether Americans’ national character, which Tocqueville believed to be wholly admirable, has fallen into moral decay and religious indifference.

Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli’s Iron Rules are as Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries Ago by Michael Ledeen

American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Ledeen offers an updated version of the rules for leadership laid down by Machiavelli. Its the nature of humans to do evil, and war is our natural state. Anyone who would wield power in such a setting, writes Ledeen, echoing Machiavelli, “must be prepared to fight at all times.” This is as true in business, sports, and politics as it is on the battlefield. Kirkus Reviews

Freedom Betrayed: How America led a Global Democratic Revolution, Won the Cold War and Walked Away by Michael Ledeen

With the skill of a born storyteller, Michael Ledeen weaves together key moments in the fall of communism. His insider’s knowledge of the interplay of complex personalities and Byzantine strategies makes a compelling narrative, one enlivened by his wry wit and flair for the dramatic.
In this call to embrace the worldwide democratic revolution, the author argues that global democracy should be the centerpiece of U.S. strategy.

Faster, Please! February 12th, 2009 1:38 pm We Are All Fascists Now Michael Ledeen

Second, not one person in a thousand knows what fascist political economy was. Yet during the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to a spasm that had shaken the entire First World, and beyond. It was hailed as a “third way” between two failed systems (communism and capitalism), retaining the best of each. Private property was preserved, as the role of the state was expanded. This was necessary because the Great Depression was defined as a crisis “of the system,” not just a glitch “in the system.”

And so Mussolini created the “Corporate State,” in which, in theory at least, the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and of course state management. Some of the big “Corporations” lasted a very long time; indeed some have only very recently been privatized, and the state still holds important chunks–so-called “golden shares”–in some of them. Read More (125) Comments Pages: 12Next

February 14th, 2009 12:21 pm We’re All Fascists Now II: American Tyranny Michael Ledeen

Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection. Tocqueville knows better. He foresees a slow death of freedom. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened. The ultimate horror of Tocqueville’s vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it.

There is no single dramatic event in Tocqueville’s scenario, no storming of the Bastille, no assault on the Winter Palace, no March on Rome, no Kristallnacht. We are to be immobilized, Gulliver-like, by myriad rules and regulations, annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until they eventually paralyze us.

3. Ran: Thanks Michael. The points you raise are frightening... One point you raised in Freedom Betrayed was that expanded Freedom - individual responsibility - gained by peoples in the 19th and 20th Centuries, especially after wars, but often by bloodless revolutions, was the surest road to peace and prosperity. It was an extension - if I’m reading it properly - of Tocqueville’s observation that the human condition had tended towards ‘Democracy’ in the Tocquevillian sense. What bothers me is that America and Europe both appear headed the wrong way in too many respects. We’ve fought wars to take down Fascists and dictators of all sorts only now to go cap-in-hand for cap-and-trade?

Friday, February 13, 2009

The world of embedded religion is “enchanted,” filled with good and bad spirits

A Secular Age: Embedded religion in Asia posted by Richard Madsen
In my previous post, I suggested that under certain specific conditions a framework grounded in a particular cultural and historical context—such as the one presented by Charles Taylor in A Secular Age—might yield fruitful cross cultural comparisons. In this spirit, I analyzed the manner in which Asian societies might be understood as politically secular (or not) according to Taylor’s analytic framework, and will now turn to an analysis of the social secularization process in Asia...

Asian religious developments are often misread by both Western observers and Asian scholars trained in the Western social sciences. When Western scholars have looked for religion in Asian societies, they have often looked for it in the form of private faith. But in most Asian societies, much of religion is neither private nor faith.

It is often not faith, in the sense of a personal belief in doctrines. In China, for example, there have been literally millions of temples built or rebuilt in the countryside over the past three decades. Most people doing this rebuilding would be hard pressed to give a consistent and coherent account of the Daoist or Buddhist philosophies that one might think were behind this revival. Even the rural Chinese Catholics I studied could only give a vague account of the creed to which they were supposed to assent. Most of the people building temples and churches seem driven by the desire to create a place where they can carry out rituals that would give some order to their lives and their community life. It can be meaningful to carry out such rituals even if one does not believe in the theology that supposedly underlies them. For example, in the Chinese Catholic villages I studied—which typically consisted entirely of Catholics who had carried on their identity through many generations—there are many “lukewarm” Catholics who don’t regularly pray, are skeptical about doctrines, and don’t follow many of the moral teachings of the Church. Yet they still consider themselves Catholics and would still want to be buried with Catholic funeral rituals because that is the way to connect, in life and death, with their natal communities.

Collective ritual, in this and many Asian contexts, comes before personal faith, as do collective myths—stories about gods or spirits or blessed events such as apparitions, healings, or miraculous occurrences. Rituals and myths are public rather than private. Even when they have to be carried out surreptitiously, out of sight of suspicious government regulators or condescending urban-based mass media, they are, in the local context, public. Under such circumstances they create alternative public spheres that sometimes complement, but at other times contradict, the public projects of their governing states.

This is a form of religious practice akin to what Charles Taylor calls “embedded religion.” The world of embedded religion is “enchanted,” filled with good and bad spirits. Religious practices are used to call upon the good and control the bad, as much for the sake of the material health and prosperity as for any otherworldly salvation. One’s community is under the protection of local spirits—patron saints in the European Middle Ages and ancestors and various local protector spirits in many parts of Asia—and although these local spirits may be imagined to be under the control of a supreme being, much of actual popular religious practice is aimed at getting one’s own local spirits to take care of one’s family and friends in the here and now.

These forms of localized, socially embedded religious practices have by no means entirely disappeared in the North Atlantic world. But as Taylor shows, they have largely been eclipsed. A key event in this process was the Reformation, which condemned much of Catholic sacramental ritual as “magic,” to be replaced by personal devotion driven by interior faith. In the United States the prevalent forms of religion are individualistic expressions of a desire for personal authenticity carried out through voluntary association with other like-minded individuals.

Until relatively recently, scholars in the North Atlantic world have usually assumed that modernization entails the eclipse of localized, socially embedded religion. Just as the American government during the Cold War convinced itself and its publics that governments allied with the USA, even dictatorships, were part of the “Free World,” so did American scholars imagine that societies open to influence from the West were becoming “free societies,” composed of instrumentally rational individuals who had sloughed off communal traditions, especially religious traditions. (If there was any future for religion in such societies, it was assumed that it would be in the form of Christianity, brought by Western missionaries, who were welcomed by most governments in the Free World.)

The real processes of social development in Asia, however, usually took a different path. [...] However, none of these strategies used by Asian states to tame local religions actually destroyed them. The suppression strategies drove the practices underground while in many cases maintaining the communal ties with which these religious practices had been intertwined. The co-optation strategies helped to reproduce and maintain communal religious identities.

[Editor's note: This post draws from a draft chapter for the SSRC's forthcoming publication, Rethinking Secularism, co-edited by Mark Juergensmeyer, Craig Calhoun, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen.] The Immanent Frame is now on Facebook. Become a fan here. The Immanent Frame is a production of the Social Science Research Council1 Pierrepont Plaza - Brooklyn, NY 11201 - USA - ifblog@ssrc.orgLearn more about the SSRC’s work on religion & the public sphere 8:40 AM

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

‘Self-betterment’, the ‘propensity to truck, barter, and exchange’ & to ‘avoid toil and trouble’

To Predict It Is Necessary to Know Your History
from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

Capitalism was not designed, though futile attempts at socialism were ‘designed’, but unfortunately did not work out for those who had to endure the experiments. Societies can legislate for this or that form of parts of their economies; sometimes they work, and last for a while, voluntarily; most often they don’t.

Social evolution is not about design, it’s about experimenting, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. It has ever been thus. That is why history if littered with social experiments – the pyramids, the ‘hanging gardens' of Babylon, the Great Wall of China, the Scottish clans, the French majesties, ancient Greece and Rome, the hordes of Genghis Khan, Mahomet’s promises, the Czar’s empire, and the anonymous stone-tool makers of pre-history.

Globalism does not make co-ordinated design any easier, or local initiatives more difficult. At root, when all else is failing, the Smithian urges to ‘self-betterment’, the ‘propensity to truck, barter, and exchange’ to ‘avoid toil and trouble’, will assert themselves, no matter what else is happening, somewhere among some people, humanity will start over.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The fascists want a closed society and a closed economy. And closed minds

Play Hockey With The Fascists from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik

Actually, in the BJP's fascist agenda, there is deeper motive behind their opposition to "foreign culture." Let us not forget that the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch is an integral part of the BJP. Their fascist ploy therefore goes deeper: they seek to isolate India from the winds of international commerce, maintain a "national economy," and hand over a closed market for exploitation by their cronies. Note how many of our cronyists, from Ratan Tata to Anil Ambani, are salaaming at the altar of the BJP.

Therefore, there is much more to achieve through these citizens' protests. Talibanization is small-scale fascism compared to the deeper agenda of economic nationalism. Today's modern Indian is better off compared to 20 years ago only because the country has opened up somewhat to global trade. We are all better off because of videshi businessmen.

The BJP says we cannot love foreign goods – and that is just like saying we cannot love the partner we choose. The next public rally must therefore be in favour of unilateral free trade. As long as foreign goods and foreign culture are freely allowed into our land, the fascists will be on the back foot. The fascists want a closed society and a closed economy. And closed minds. This is the method in their madness. They must be defeated.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Nehru and Gandhi were mistakes. India needs Free Trade and Free Markets

India needs to look back only to see its mistakes – and Nehru and Gandhi were mistakes. India needs Free Trade and Free Markets – and a vigorous Urbanization. We need Mayors in every city and town – not panchayats. And we do not need any "model of development": we just need Liberty, which every Individual can utilize to develop himself. The idea of Free Markets is that each Individual is free to take the path that he chooses. This Individual is the Architect of his own Destiny. This is why Freedom matters so much. We Indians need to fight again for Freedom – because the geriatrics in the established parties want State Control only because they want to Control The State.

Young Indians, beware! Wrong idea destroyed the lives of two generations of Indians. If you want to secure your future and that of your children, and theirs, do not allow these illiberal ideas another reign. Gandhi and Nehru must both be unceremoniously dumped. On Those Who Have Learnt Nothing
from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik

***

Indian Express > India > Agencies Posted: Feb 07, 2009 at 1702 hrs IST
Bapu's ethos found only in Sangh Parivar: BJP
BJP said that Congress’ policies reflect more the elements of British Raj than Gandhi's Hind Swaraj.

Nagpur: In an ironic twist of history, the BJP on Saturday sought to appropriate the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated by a RSS activist months after India gained Independence, by claiming that the Gandhian ethos can be found only in the Sangh Parivar and not in the Congress. [..]

While on Friday the party had claimed that the Gandhian model of economy was best for the nation in view of the global meltdown of capitalism and the failure of communism, on Saturday it sought to claim the Mahatma's political legacy as well by questioning the Congress' Gandhian credentials. Incidentally, the Gandhian and Swadeshi tone to the party's pre-poll agenda, which is being seen as an attempt to broaden the saffron outfit's electoral appeal, has emerged recently after former Swadeshi Jagaran Manch leader Murlidhar Rao was appointed as advisor to the party chief. [...]

Rajnath claimed that in India today, the Gandhian ethos can be found only in the ideology of the BJP and in the simple and dedicated lifestyle of several organizations of the Sangh Parivar. Seeking to make a blend of the party's Hindutva leanings with the Gandhian vision, he blamed Congress regimes of having tried to label devotional songs favoured by the Mahatma such as Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram or Vaishnav Jan as ‘totally communal’.

Saying that the Congress projected itself to be a party based on the vision of Young India, Rajnath said the BJP's ideology was based on the vision of the new Young India dreamt of by young ascetics like Swami Vivekanand and Sri Aurobindo and for which many youth such as Bhagat Singh and Vasudev Balwant Phadke had laid down their lives.

Auroville has created a community where many of its inhabitants have accumulated a measure of wealth

Denese -- a Louisiana Transplant - The Everyday Life of a Woman from the NW Living in the Deep South Friday, February 6, 2009 Lessons Learned by a Suburban Housewife on the Power of Unity: The Auroville and Sarvodaya Shramadana Experience I confess. I am a suburban housewife.

This is an embarrassing admission to make to the group of people that I traveled with to Southern India and Sri Lanka. Many of them do poverty work and fight for social justice. Some of them live on intentional, sustainable communities. Many of them have given up money to work for a cause close to their hearts. They certainly do not live like I do, driving a mini-van and raising kids in a neighborhood of upper-middle-class homes, with green lawns, on cul-de-sacs, near and next to people much like us, down the main road from a large University which is my husband’s employer. I live in a neighborhood like many others in this country.

  • But is it a community? Considering the lack of time I spend in connection with my neighbors, I think not.
  • And if it isn’t a community, what does it take to create one?
  • Do community members have to spend a certain minimum amount of time together?
  • Do communities have to be made up of people who are all alike?
  • Do they need to be composed of people who are motivated to cooperate, grow and change?
  • Do the inhabitants have to possess a certain minimum amount of resources?
  • Or are resources an impediment to social cohesion and solidarity?
  • And where does the idea of sustainability fit in?
  • Is there a prescription that can be followed as to how “community” can be created?
  • And if so, can I apply it to my white-bread neighborhood, where many of us do not even know each other’s names?

These are some of the questions I sought to answer as I participated in a Kellogg Foundation grant to study “community, spirituality, and sustainability” at the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, a development organization in Sri Lanka, and in Auroville, an intentional, international community in India.

Upon close inspection, Sarvodaya and Auroville appear radically different. Sarvodaya is an organization and a movement; Auroville is a group of settlements. Sarvodaya develops community with participants that have little choice as to where they live; Auroville creates communities with people who can choose to move to a land far away. Auroville has created a community where many of its inhabitants have accumulated a measure of wealth; Sarvodaya advocates a society without affluence. Sarvodaya is based in tradition; Auroville prides itself on creating a new culture. Sarvodaya is based in a traditional religion; Auroville flourishes in the midst of a new brand of religious (SPIRITUAL?) anarchy.

Think about this for a minute. Both groups either attract or actually develop people who come to understand that we are all “one.” This has deep and permanent consequences. Simply put, people change from being “I” centered to “other” centered.But for all their differences, both Sarvodaya and Auroville start from the same transcendent vision. Either through Gandhian philosophy and Buddhism or through the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, they seek to realize the dream of human unity for all.

Think about this for a minute. Both groups either attract or actually develop people who come to understand that we are all “one.” This has deep and permanent consequences. Simply put, people change from being "I" centered to "other" centered. This revolutionary germ of a concept spreads miraculously among those who are introduced to it, transforming them into advocates for harmony within the human, animal and natural environment in which we all live. Through this one simple but powerful idea, I have seen equality; empowerment and awakening take root. The result is an attempt to create a world that is heaven on earth, based in community, spirituality and sustainability.

Did I learn this in church as I was growing up through the teachings of Jesus? I surely could have, but I didn’t.

It took this trip for me to actually see the power of what I can only call “oneness.” When this concept takes root, you can no longer ignore an ailing neighbor, nor can you walk by a person on the street who doesn’t have food or shelter. And you can no longer harm the environment for temporary gains that will destroy the land’s ability to support your children and grandchildren. You become a servant for the human community. Some folks might even become saints or revolutionaries.

Now, does this mean that Auroville or the Sarvodayan villages are perfect manifestations of this ideal of oneness? I can unequivocally say “no” to that. In fact, in many ways, the problems of all of these communities mirror those of the society that we come from. The difference is, they are trying to strive for human unity. I don't see much of that where I come from, and Ifind that good and inspiring for my soul to see.

When this concept takes root, you can no longer ignore an ailing neighbor, nor can you walk by a person on the street who doesn’t have food or shelter. And you can no longer harm the environment for temporary gains that will destroy the land’s ability to support your children and grandchildren. You become a servant for the human community.

  • If I truly want to live a life in pursuit of community, sustainability and spirituality, what does this mean for my life in suburbia?
  • Is it hopeless for me to look for like-minded people in my neighborhood?
  • Do I have to move to Sri Lanka or to Auroville to find people striving for the good of someone other themselves?
  • Does that mean that a Dr. Ariyaratne, a Mahatma Gandhi or a Sri Aurobindo need settle in my neighborhood so that it can be transformed as I’ve seen communities transformed in India and Sri Lanka?

After a lot of thinking about these questions, I can unequivocally say, “no.” What I think is essential is the simple power of the concept of unity. The concept is so powerful, so transcendent, and has transformed these spiritual teachers so completely that they don’t need to be physically present to teach us the good news. I think that any of us can light the spark that starts the revolution toward a community of unity or oneness in our neighborhoods. Even a suburban housewife. The spark will spread.

We only need begin. Posted by denese at 6:30 PM 0 comments Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Just as American capitalism survives on borrowed money

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 History in the making and the making of history
By Frank Brenner

This is a telling example of the counterfeits of freedom that characterize bourgeois society and particularly bourgeois democracy. By this I mean that bourgeois society continuously offers the illusion of freedom while denying its substance. Thus today the masses are being invited to watch 'history in the making', which is to say that they get to be passive spectators while the powerful (and of course the wealthy) get to make history.

In feudal times the coronation of a new king served similar purposes, and the more astute and 'progressive' monarchs very much encouraged the participation of the 'rabble': the king was meant to be seen as the 'people's king' and much effort was spent to encourage a symbolic identification with him. Bourgeois politics has taken this a good deal further: this symbolic identification is now bound up with the ideology of nationalism. This is by no means limited to democratic forms of bourgeois rule; on the contrary, fascism in particular took this kind of identification furthest of all.

Walter Benjamin talked about how fascism aestheticizes politics, by which he meant that it transforms politics into a grand spectacle or better still a kind of national psychodrama. The giant Nazi rallies, such as the one at Nuremberg recorded in the Leni Riefenstahl movie, “Triumph of the Will,” is a perfect example of that. No doubt many of those who attended such rallies were convinced that they too were witnessing ‘history in the making’.

To be sure, bourgeois democracy approaches these matters somewhat differently. But for a long time now, as the socioeconomic divisions have widened at the base of society, there has been a major effort to divert attention away from these divisions by an ever greater aestheticizing of politics. This has been most noticeable in the US, though American techniques in this regard have increasingly been copied by ruling parties around the world.

From the Reagan years on, the principal narrative of this psychodrama was the so-called ‘culture wars’ whereby ‘honest’, ‘authentic’ conservatives were fighting to defend the family and American ‘values’ against liberal elites. With Obama’s election, the narrative has changed – it is now about ‘the audacity of hope’, about social ‘cooperation’, ‘compassion’, ‘duty’ and ‘responsibility’.

Just as American capitalism survives on borrowed money, so the American political elite is now borrowing on the political capital of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, to say nothing of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. These are potent symbols and Obama and his circle are doing their best to capitalize on them. Under these conditions, it has never been more important for Marxists to draw the clearest possible distinction between liberalism and socialism.

One such distinction is over history and how it is made. The millions who come to Washington or watch on tv to witness ‘history in the making’ are actually being treated to a political ‘reality television’ show. What we need is not to watch ‘history in the making’ - by others! - but to make history ourselves. That is the dividing line between bourgeois and socialist democracy. The ‘beautiful’ illusions of freedom have to give way to a freedom from illusions. Labels: posted by Alex Steiner at 3 Comments Links to this post