Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I would never argue against the freedom of the free market

Although I revere Frithjof Schuon (among other men of singular spiritual genius), obviously I cannot go along with his total condemnation of modernity. And yet, I do wonder: is man becoming -- or has he already become -- something he was never intended to be? Are we, as a result of liberty, democracy, and especially the free market, achieving our potential, or are we deviating further and further away from it? Undoubtedly it is a bit of both, and it is critical that we understand which is which -- or, to ask it another way, what are the novel developments that bring us closer to our divine archetype -- that "please God," if you like -- and what are those that pull us further down into the mud?
I would never argue against the freedom of the free market; and yet, at the same time, it does need to be acknowledged that the radical transformations brought about by the market create a new kind of environment which no human actually created but to which we must nevertheless adapt. The things to which we must adapt range from being annoying to vacuous to satanic, and it is important that we not confuse who we are eternally with the transient conditions to which we must adapt. This is surely one of the purposes of religion: to show us the real human ideal and to keep the enduring goal of life in view, irrespective of the local conditions in which we find ourselves. One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Rothbard credits many lesser individuals which prefigured Smith

In Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, Murray Rothbard traces economic ideas from ancient sources to show that laissez-faire liberalism and economic thought itself began with the scholastics and early Roman, Greek, and canon law. He celebrates Aristotle and Democritus, for example, but loathes Plato and Diogenes. He is kind toward Taoism and Stoicism. He is no fan of Tertullian but very much likes St. Jerome, who defended the merchant class. Now, that takes us only to page 33, just the beginning of a wild ride through the middle ages and renaissance and modern times through 1870.
Rothbard read deeply in thinkers dating back hundreds and thousands of years, and spotted every promising line of thought  and every unfortunate one. He knew when an idea would lead to prosperity, and when it would lead to calamity. He could spot a proto-Keynesian or proto-Marxist idea in the middle ages, just as he could find free-market lines of thought in ancient manuscripts...
His demolition of Karl Marx is more complete and in depth than any other ever published. His reconstruction of 19th-century banking debates has provided enough new ideas for a dozen dissertations, and contemporary real-money reform. His surprising evisceration of John Stuart Mill is cause to rethink the whole history of classical liberalism.
Most famously, Rothbard demonstrated that Adam Smith's economic theories were, in many ways, a comedown from his predecessors in France and Spain. For example, Smith puzzled over the source of value and finally tagged labor as the source (a mistake Marx built on). But for centuries prior, the earliest economists knew that value came from within the human mind. It was a human estimation, not an objective construct.
Rothbard was a pioneer in incorporating the sociology of religion into the history of economic ideas. He saw that the advent of Christianity had a huge impact on the theory of the state. He observed the rise of absolutism and theory of nationalism that came with the reformation. He traced the changes in the Western view toward lending and interest payments over the course of a thousand years. Amazon Editorial Reviews
Pre-Austrian Economic History from an Austrian Perspective, February 2, 2007 By Hans Haneberg - See all my reviews This review is from: An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (2 Vol. Set) (Hardcover)
This work is a tour de force of economic thought, spanning a thousand pages and nearly two millennia. The books thesis rests on Thomas Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts of scientific intellectuals in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." In these two volumes, Rothbard grinds his axe against what he would refer to as the "Whig theory of history" or the idea that history of ideas is always a progression forward.
In light of this thesis, Rothbard carefully works in progression from ancient Greek thought of Plato, Aristotle, and Xenophobe to the late 19th century works of J.S. Mill, Marx, Bastiat and Pareto. What is truly amazing is amount of time in Volume I he devotes to smaller unknown scholastics (who revived much of the work of Aristotle after finding preserved by the Arabs) overlooked by works like Lionel Robbins lectures on Economic thought and much of Hayek's contributions, which were dominated by the Scottish Enlightenment. Insomuch, Rothbard credits - like Schumpeter did - many lesser individuals which prefigured Smith, like Turgot, Cantillon and the French tradition; or the School of Salamanca and the Scholastic's who debunked the idea of a just price - based in a theoretical corpus of Natural Law (like Rothbard himself).
There are some who have taken the whole book out of context by reading only his treatment of Adam Smith - mostly because this is the most controversial section. Without context, Rothbard chapter on Smith seems to be harsh for those who consider him a great defender of liberty and lassie faire. Yet, to me, he sufficiently backs his libertarian case against Smith - as those who have actually looked into the Wealth of Nations can attest (the contradiction in Book 1 and 5 is most apparent in his description of the division of labor on one hand and alienation on the other).
In fact, he continues Joseph Schumpeter's famous assessment of `das AdamSmith' problem (Schumpeter argues that Smith, in the Wealth of Nations is just carrying on a physiocrat position in `Economic Doctrine and Method'); which has plagued economic thought by misplacing an emphasis on one man as the intellectual godfather while belittling outstanding prefigures like Turgot and Cantillon, the Scholastics and post-figures such as Senior, Bastiat and Say.
It is not that Rothbard means to tear Smith's whole doctrine asunder. Rothbard admits freely that Smith was important up to a point, yet was bereft in his defense of liberty. Hence Smith doesn't measure up to his `hardcore' liberal French counterparts - for instance Turgot or Say. Rothbard illustrates this in the American tradition by quoting Thomas Jefferson as having admiration and preference for De Tracy and J.S. Say instead of Adam Smith.

Subjectivist methodology as the foundation for the Divine Economy

From: "BRUCE KOERBER" DIVINEECONOMYCONSULTING@msn.com To: "Tusar N. Mohapatra" tusarnmohapatra@mail.com CC: Subject: Re: ETHICS of the Divine Economy - a new book ! Date: Mon, 28 May 2007 11:55:49 -0500
Dear Tusar,

When science bumps up against a barrier the task becomes one of finding a way to penetrate or to scale that obstacle. That is what happened to me as I tried to carry forward the divine economy theory that I developed in my first two books.

To overcome this I began with a promise that referred to axioms of a system of ethics, given by a noted ethicist and economist - Murray Rothbard. He wrote: ‘Once articulated and set forth, they impel assent to their truth by a shock of recognition, once articulated, they become evident to the human mind.’ Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, Volume 1, p. 19.

That development is evident in ETHICS of the Divine Economy. Central to each of my first two books were models (built using the subjectivist methodology) of the economy and the microeconomy, respectively. The Model of the Ethics of the Divine Economy ©, (also built using the subjectivist methodology), is the foundation for this new book.

I have attached the book cover, the table of contents, and the list of fifteen axioms of a positive ethical system cited in Chapter Two. If you find the book content interesting go to the attachment that has the links listed. Thank you for your consideration, Bruce Koerber
P.S. Feel welcome to forward this email to anyone who you think would be interested.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Golwalkar was ecstatic in his praise for Nazi Germany

Golwalkar’s book Dumping it alone by RSS won’t help by Amulya Ganguli
Golwalkar was ecstatic in his praise for Nazi Germany’s pre-World War II acquisition of Austria and Czechoslovakia, putting it down to “German pride in their Fatherland for a definite home country, for which the race has certain traditional attachments”. The Nazis were also willing to “risk … a fresh world conflagration in order to establish one, unparallelled, undisputed German empire over all this hereditary territory”. And, in addition, “to keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by its purging the country of the semitic races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here … a good lesson for use in Hindusthan to learn and profit by”.
The lesson which Golwalkar apparently had in mind related to India’s own “hereditary territory” of Akhand Bharat. As he said, “the country (India) is still there, the ancient race, too, is there, but it is no longer the same old nation that it used to be. Gandhar (today’s Kandahar) is no more. Similarly with Baluchistan”. Golwalkar then drew a parallel for the Hindus with the fate of Jews and Parsis. “Palestine became Arab … and the Hebrew nation in Palestine died a natural death. (We … was written before the creation of Israel). Where is the Parsi nation today ? Their land is there, still inhabited by the descendants of the old Parsis, but is there the Parsi nation in their home country, Iran ?” Golwalkar’s warning is obvious. Hindus will suffer the same fate if they do not see the imminent dangers.
What, then, is his advice? After his appreciation of Nazi Germany comes his chilling prescription: “From this … experience of shrewd old nations, the non-Hindu people in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of the Hindu nation, i.e. they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ingratitude towards this land and its age-old traditions, must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.”
There are other passages, too, which the RSS may be finding somewhat embarrassing. One of these is a thinly-veiled criticism of Buddhism. “Consciousness of the one Hindu Nationhood became rusty”, wrote Golwalkar, “and the race became vulnerable to attacks from without. Buddhistic influence — a misunderstanding of the teachings of the Great Master — had the painful effect of effacing from the minds of the masses their tenacious adherence to their faith … the individual became more prominent than the country, the Nation”... (To read the full article written by Amulya Ganguli, please visit this page on The Tribune). AmritWorld’s Online Diary

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Democracy is not yet for us a way of life

On Arun Maira's Discordant Democrats Chandrahas
The Middle Stage Saturday, May 26, 2007
The title of Arun Maira's book Discordant Democrats might strike some readers as a tautology. After all, as the philosopher Sidney Hook has argued, in a true democracy the idea that in some crucial respects all men are equal must be complemented "by a belief in the value of difference, variety and uniqueness". If this is so - and India in particular is a fairground of difference, variety and uniqueness - then how can democracy not be discordant? The word "discordant" in this context is not necessarily the negative value that it would be with an orchestra, a cricket team, or a firm.
Yet the concern advanced by Maira, formerly an industrial executive and currently chairman of The Boston Consulting Group, India, is that Indian democracy is so fractious and unruly that it detracts from development. The parallel that pops up in his book, as it often does in discussions about Asia, is that of undemocratic China, which has put together world-class infrastructure within the span of a generation. By contrast, people entering the city from Mumbai's airport face eyesores, traffic snarls, and other signs of retarded development. Yet, as India has chosen the democratic way of life, there is no alternative to democracy; the only hope is to better it.
"[T]he improvement of democratic decision-making must be the agenda," argues Maira, "for Indians who want to accelerate the country's progress." It is with this specific problem in mind that he suggests five graduated steps for better debate and building consensus. These steps, he suggests, are like the gears of a car: some are to help us take off, but we cannot accelerate unless we move further down the chain of successful problem-solving. Readers will want to decide for themselves whether they find Maira's ideas about such concepts as aspiring, realizing and framing helpful.
Maira is a widely read man - among the many writers he cites in his book are Fareed Zakaria, Lewis Lapham, Jonathan Schell, Tariq Ali, and Thomas Friedman. Sometimes his survey or what other people have written can be insightful, such as when he cites the Dutch political scientist Arend Lijphart's classification of democracies into majoritarian ones, in which a stable two-party system is the norm, and consensus ones, in which power is divided between many competing players as in India. Intuition suggests that consensus democracies are slower and more inefficient, but in truth such democracies also manifest many good qualities, because forging a consensus means to some extent listening or deferring to the other side. When thinking about the pros and cons of fractured mandates of the kind widely seen in our era of coalition politics, it is useful to have information like this at hand.
Yet all too often Maira's book feels unhelpful, because it is too general. Maira's background is that of the corporate world, and the tone of his book is that of a self-help manual for managers. "Listening, like the atom, seems a very small thing. Yet it has enormous power to change the world," he counsels. On another occasion he writes, "In this scenario, many people rise like fireflies - living lights - all over the country and begin to transform darkness into light, despair into hope and passivity into action." Many of the examples of successful conflict resolution Maira cites come from seminars and "leadership conclaves" he has attended. Like many management gurus, Maira has a weakness for generating acronyms, such as the concept of PLU ("People Like Us", or the tendency of people to assume conformity with their own values) and the catchily named WMD ("Ways of Mass Dialogue").
But the fallacy manifest in Maira's book is also a PLM (People Like Me) kind, which assumes that all the actors in Indian democracy are committed to liberal values and to democratic debate and consensus - that they have the will but perhaps not the skill, which they can learn by adopting his "five steps to consensus". By doing so, he greatly simplifies matters. But, six decades after our experiment with democracy began, BR Ambedkar's assertion that "Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic" still remains acutely true today.
The real problem with India may be not so much that it is a nation of discordant democrats, but rather that it is under pressure on all sides from forces who do not subscribe to or have lost faith in the resolution of disputes by democratic and non-violent means. In other words, the weakness of Indian democracy is less that it is impracticably discordant and more that it is insufficiently deep-rooted - democracy is not yet for us a way of life. The failure to frame the problem properly makes Maira's treatise a well-intentioned but somewhat inadequate one.
And some essays: "Downloading Democracy" by the historian Robert Conquest ("Democracy is almost invariably criticized by revolutionaries for the blemishes found in any real example, as compared with the grand abstraction of the mere word. Real politics is full of what it would be charitable to call imperfections"); "The Guru of Hate", an essay by Ramachandra Guha on the still-influential Hindu ideologue MS Golwalkar, who thought democracy was alien to Hindu ethos and extolled the laws of Manu; "Democracy and Its Global Roots" by Amartya Sen; "Fears for Democracy in India" by Martha Nussbaum, whose book on India The Clash Within is just out from Harvard University Press; and "Nehru's Faith" by Sunil Khilnani.And some old Middle Stage posts on writers dealing with aspects of Indian society and politics: Ashis Nandy, Krishna Kripalani, Pankaj Mishra, Minoo Masani and Amartya Sen. A shorter version of this piece appears today in Mint. Chandrahas, 8:31 AM permalink

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sri Aurobindo's fundamental tenet is that no prescription, however enlightened, can save humanity

Re: 'In Our Own Image: Humanity's Quest for Divinity via Technology,' by Debashis Chowdhury
by Debashish on Thu 24 May 2007 12:11 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
DC: The closer the connection gets to what a personal interaction looks like in the Ashrama scenario, the more effective we will be in our integration efforts.
Can you expand on this? What is the ashrama scenario? Your own words in a nutshell may help. I looked at your website for the mahashrama reference, but could make no more of it than a sense of dividing the life-span into educational, professional, socially responsible and spiritually aware segments. But this is just a new structuralism, a prescription and as we know, Sri Aurobindo's fundamental tenet is that no prescription, however enlightened, can save humanity. It certainly has not saved India. And you mention that this is the pattern along which the Sri Aurobindo ashram runs. Is it? I have never heard or seen this.
Regarding technology, I completely agree with you that we cannot afford to ignore it. And it can be an aid to the development, preservation and dynamization of collective consciousness in a sense at this juncture. But the Omnipotence, Omnipresence and Omniscience of contemporary Technology has been achieved through the dwarfing of human individuality. And our collective utilization of Technology will remain a subjection to its order, nature, intelligence and being, unless we learn to be individually free from it in consciousness - freedom not in ignorance or in escape but in equality. There is a line in Savitri: The Soul and Nature stood as equal powers. Can we say: Consciousness and Technology stand as equal powers? What are the social and psychological conditions that can make this possible? DB
by Rich on Thu 24 May 2007 09:49 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
I can't speak to the validity of the mahasharma reference, however it seems to me one problem to consider and address is from a critical perspective, in that any reference however benign to what can be construed as a "caste system" may meet resistance.
Regards the technology question, while it certainly is true that the course of human evolution has largely been determined through a feedback loop with the tools which humans have created, there are at least two problems positing the interaction of technology and the spiritual evolution of the species.
1) Spiritual evolution requires a move inward by the individual, an intensification of consciousness through the interiorization of spiritual experience
Technological evolution however, is characterized by an exteriorization or outering of the collective being. (ex. cloths an outering of the skin, the wheel the outering of the foot, electronic media the outering of the collective nervous system)
2) The exponential evolution of technology and society are racing at lightening speed, which contrast what the Mother says about that human consciousness, namely that it is very slow, and what is required for progress is a silencing or stilling of consciousness
The following article link considers these contrasts: sciy.org/blog/_archives/2007/1/25/2683989.html
by Debashis-C on Thu 24 May 2007 09:42 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Debashish, Rich, You both make very good points. The apparent conflict between spirituality and materiality can only be resolved if we can see them as opposite ends of the same continuum – who between them encompass the reality that we know. I am working on an elucidation of this concept, combining information theory, quantum theory, and even some relativistic principles – which I hope to share with you within the next few weeks. The paper is tentatively called: ‘The Prajapati Principle – Levels of Existence across Spirituality and Materiality’ – and it is mostly Physics. Till then, let us simplify by saying that one without the other is incomplete. There is an incredible symmetry between the two, which I hope to bring out and present before you (but later)…
Going back to Debashish’s question – what is the Ashrama scenario? And how is it exemplified in Pondy, in Auroville, and in other places? Let me start out by saying that during my recent visit to both, I observed many parts of the idealized system that were working well, and some that were not. Yet, qualitatively, there was no doubt that the lives of the Ashramites and the Auroville-ians were much more balanced between materiality and spirituality, probably leaning more towards the latter. So what is the basic premise of Ashrama, and how do we measure how well it is working?
To me, Ashrama (and Mahashrama by extension) is a developmental engine, allowing individuals to grow their material and spiritual capabilities, all the while under the watchful eye of the ‘Guru’ – or in the absence of a guru, a collection of teachers and mentors who can guide them in the path of personal development. Following the ‘Satisfaction of Personal Needs’ philosophy of personal development developed by Maslow (original ‘needs’ marked with* below); I have expanded the concept to cover all four Ashrama segments. I will list them below, and indicate how I perceived them working in Pondy/Auroville (Ashram), vs. the rest of society (ROS).
Brahmacharya Needs: 1. Physiological Needs* – Food, water, shelter Ashram: Excellent; ROS: Poor-Fair 2. Safety/Security* - Ashram: Excellent; ROS: Fair 3. Education/Skill Building - Ashram: Good; ROS: Fair 4. Individuality/Diversity - Ashram: Good; ROS: Poor - Fair
Grihastha Needs: 5. Genetic Imperative (Procreation) - Ashram: Fair; ROS: Good 6. Economic Imperative - Ashram: Fair; ROS: Good 7. Esteem* - Ashram: Excellent, ROS: Fair 8. Belongingness & Love* - Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor
Vanaprastha Needs: 9. Self Determination Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor 10. Yogic Empathy Ashram: Fair, ROS: Poor 11. Leadership opportunity and recognition: Ashram: Fair, ROS: Fair 12. Segment Balance Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor
Sanyas Needs: 13. Spiritual Self Determination - Ashram: Excellent, ROS: Poor 14. Ananda (spiritual bliss)- Ashram – Good, ROS: Poor 15. Vision (our role in the very big picture) - Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor 16. Cultural DNA (core essence of being human) - Ashram: Fair, ROS: Poor
Except for maybe the Grihastha segment, it appears to me that the development needs of individuals are better met in the Ashrama system, in spite of all its practical difficulties. It is not to say that things are perfect – and the above is my very subjective estimation based on just a week’s exposure. Improving it, and generalizing the concept to all humans seems to make a lot of sense – if only the interactions that happened in close quarters under Ashrama can be replicated in a global scale – but using what means? Just like the nervous system connects our brain to the rest of our body, the internet can become the nervous system that gives us the means to connect meaningfully to all humans. The human factor is not diminished, but amplified – and the technology does not become an end in itself, but a means of integrating the experience of all humans.
Interestingly enough, Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga philosophy is probably unique in allowing for a meaningful scaling across all humans (regardless of religion, history) and across the chasm between materiality and spirituality. Apologize for the long answer, and thanks for bearing with me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sri Aurobindo’s place in the intellectual history of modern India

Sri Aurobindo and the Crisis of Contemporary Culture Sachidananda Mohanty Ritam Volume 4 Issue 2 February 2007 A Journal of Material and Spiritual Researches in Auroville: Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research. Sri Aurobindo’s place in the intellectual history of modern India is yet to be determined. The relevance of his cultural and political vision remains unassessed. His critics oppose him by not reading his vast body of writings; and his followers have made a cult out of him. The sage of Pondicherry is more than a poet and a mystic philosopher. In this essay, I shall try and show the relevance of Sri Aurobindo’s political vision to the crisis of contemporary culture.
There are six major areas where we see the crisis of contemporary culture:
1. The tyranny of the State Idea.
2. The crisis of the Nation State.
3. The conflict over language and ethnicity.
4. The challenges of the emerging internationalism.
5. The problem of identity politics in a multicultural society
6. The question of self-determination.
Each of these is related to the other, and yet separately, each poses a challenge to our thinking. What insights does Sri Aurobindo offer for the resolution of these crises? The threat of a looming disaster is what seems to define the human condition today. Sri Aurobindo captures aptly this crisis in The Life Divine:
At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which the human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way… Man has created a system of civilization, which has become too big for his limited mental capacity… a too dangerous servant of his blundering ego and its appetites.1
What, then are the manifestations of this evolutionary crisis in the contemporary world? If we define culture as the entire gamut of our life, and not just a creative expression of a select elite, then we will notice the crisis of contemporary culture in the six areas outlined.
If we look at the past century, we are bound to notice that amidst all the upheavals that mankind has experienced so far, such as the horror of the two World Wars, the Cold War and beyond, there has been a continued tyranny of the State in various forms and political guises: democratic or totalitarian. What accounts for the persistence of this State idea? What is this entity called the State that a chosen few can manipulate, and mete out incredible cruelties to entire populations that shock our collective conscience? What is the alternative to this rapacious State? Consider Sri Aurobindo’s analysis in his work entitled The Ideal of Human Unity:
What, after all, is this State idea, this idea of the organized community to which the individual has to be immolated? Theoretically, it is the subordination of the individual to the good of all that is demanded; practically, it is his subordination to a collective egoism, political, military, economic, which seeks to satisfy certain collective aims and ambitions shaped and imposed on the great mass of the individuals by a smaller or larger number of ruling persons who are supposed in some way to represent the community. It is immaterial whether these belong to a governing class or emerge in modern States from the mass partly by force of character, but much more by force of circumstances; nor does it make any essential difference that their aims and ideals are nowadays imposed more by the hypnotism of verbal persuasion than by overt and actual force. In either case, there is no guarantee that this ruling class or ruling body represents the best mind of the nation or its noblest aims or its highest instincts ii.
Given the unfolding of cataclysmic events following the rise of fascism and totalitarianism soon after Sri Aurobindo wrote The Ideal of Human Unity in 1918, his views turned out to be prophetic. He added the postscript chapter in 1949 before he left his body in December 1950. Nor did his diagnosis become obsolete in the context of the experiments that have taken place in the socialistic or liberal democracies, in Stalin’s Russia or the America of George W. Bush, as Noam Chomsky rightly points out. The embroilment of the State in all aspects of the citizen’s life is a ubiquitous feature of late capitalism. As Sri Aurobindo argues, such aberrations occur because our understanding of the relationship between the individual self and collective entities is deeply flawed. It is based on shallow principles, founded on exigencies and expediencies rather than resting on deeper psychological factors. This is noticed in other areas of contemporary crisis as well. We must therefore take a look at some of these domains, before attempting any answers in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s ideas.
To a critical observer of present culture, nothing is more troubling than the ongoing problem of selfdetermination, the seemingly inevitable conflict and antagonism ensuing from such drives in the human being. As historian Einslee Embree points out, there is a ceaseless conflict today between the nation and groups of people. From Kashmir to Jaffna, Chechnya to Sudan we witness a clash among groups of citizenry, their opposition to the sovereign states they reside in. What then is self-determination, the desire for individuals and groups to decide their destiny?
Sri Aurobindo wrote a chapter called “Self Determination” in his book named War and Self Determination containing a series of essays that first appeared in the philosophical quarterly called Arya between 1916 and 1920. The chapter concerned is to be seen along with another called “Diversity in Oneness,” as part of another series that appeared between September 1915 and July 1918, resulting in a book published in 1919 named The Ideal of Human Unity. Here we can clearly see Sri Aurobindo’s theorization of the concept of self-determination.
Clearly, from Woodrow Wilson to the Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh to the present era, we seem to have come a long way. But how does the individual exercise his/her freedom in order to decide his/her destiny? As Sri Aurobindo says:
The principle of self-determination really means that within every living human creature, man, woman and child, and equally within every distinct human collectivity, grown, half developed and adult, there is a self, a being, which has the right to grow in its own way, to find itself, to make its life a full and a satisfied instrument and image of its being. This is the first principle which must contain and are top all others, the rest is a question of conditions, means, expedients, accommodations, opportunities, capacities, limitations, none of which must be allowed to abrogate the sovereignty of the first essential principle iii.
Similarly, we see that the idea of liberty is often pitted against the idea of law. Such concepts of law may impose desired patterns of social and professional behavior among recalcitrant members of various caste or gender groups among the proletariats or other subordinate sections of society by dominant sections. As Sri Aurobindo notes in a comical vein:
We see a similar confusion of ideas in the claim of European statesmen to train Asiatic or African peoples to liberty, which means in fact to teach them in the beginning liberty in the school of subjugation and afterwards to compel them to each stage in the progress of a mechanical self government to satisfy the tests and notions imposed on them by a being and consciousness instead of developing freely a type and law of their own iv.
Sri Aurobindo concludes that the right approach would be to start the “self-determination of the free individual within the free collectivity in which he lives”, “because so only can we be sure of a healthy growth of freedom and because too the unity to be arrived at is that of individuals growing freely towards perfection and not of human machines working in regulated unison or of souls suppressed, mutilated and cut into one or more fixed geometrical patterns.”

The problem of self-determination in the contemporary world is also seen in the form of what is known as identity politics. Democratic societies in the contemporary world wedded to pluralistic or multicultural ideals promote various identity formations, based on gender, caste, class and race.
In the U.S. there is an attempt to move from the ideals of the melting pot to those of the salad bowl or the mosaic in the form of hyphenated identities such as the Hispanic, Native American, Korean, South Asian or Japanese American. Similarly, in recent times Indian polity has witnessed caste based mobilization and identity formation based on different language-groups and ethnic communities. While all these may fulfill legitimate democratic aspirations, they also lead frequently to mutual conflicts, fractured polity and civic strife.
Opposition based on linguistic and ethnic factors equally manifests in the cultural domain in academia in the form of what is known today as “culture wars.” In higher education in the West or the East, there is an increasing and legitimate demand today by marginalized groups for greater literary-cultural space in terms of the texts to be read in the classroom. New anthologies such as the “Heath” and “Norton” based on new scholarship by cultural critics, and feminists have revealed many of our blind spots. Here again, we are still groping as to how the various groups and approaches are to negotiate with each other on equal footing in terms of shared literary-cultural space.
Identity politics in the domain of caste also engages the attention of Sri Aurobindo in his earlier writings. In his essay entitled “The Unhindu Spirit of Caste Rigidity,” written on 20 September 1907. This is what he had to say:
The caste system was once productive of good, and as a fact has been a necessary phase of human progress through which all the civilizations of the world have had to pass. The autocratic form of Government has similarly had its use in the development of the world’s polity, for there was certainly a time when it was the only kind of political organization that made the preservation of society possible. The Nationalist does not quarrel with the past, but individual or class autocracy into the autocracy, self-rule or Swaraj, of the nation of the fixed, hereditary, anti-democratic casteorganization into the public self-adapting, democratic distribution of function at which socialism aims. In the present absolutism in politics and the present narrow caste-organization in society he finds a negation of that equality which his religion enjoins. Both must be transformed. The historic problem that the present attitude of Indian Nationalism at once brings to the mind, as to how a caste-governed society could co-exist with a democratic religion and philosophy, we do not propose to consider here today. We only point out that Indian Nationalism must by its inherent tendencies move towards the removal of unreasoning and arbitrary distinctions and inequalities. Ah! He will say, this is exactly what we Englishmen have been telling you all these years. You must get rid of your caste before you can have democracy. There is just a little flaw in this advice of the Anglo-Indian monitors, it puts the cart before the horse, and that is the reason why we have always refused to act upon it. v
The problem of multiculturalism also extends to the domain of the emerging international order. We see facets of this order in the form of what has come to be known as globalization thanks to the rise of the unipolar world. We witness the leveling of all differences, in the form of economic and cultural homogenization. National sovereignty resting on the claims of groups of nations to decide their own destinies unfortunately is giving away to unilateralism by international political forces and agencies. In this way internationalism militates against national and regional aspirations and becomes anti-democratic. Assuredly, there is recognition of the problem in all these areas by leading cultural critics and political theorists today. Yet our efforts seem to move inexorably in a pendulum like manner, from optimism to despair. It is here that, we may consider the answer Sri Aurobindo provides. As he writes insightfully:
The right idea of self-determination makes a clear sweep of these confusions. It makes it clear that liberty should proceed by the development of the law of ones own being determined from within, evolving out of oneself and not determined from outside by the idea and will of another. These remain the problem of relations, of the individual and collective self-determination and of the interactions of the self-determination of one on the selfdetermination of another. That cannot be finally settled by any mechanical solution, but only by the discovery of some meeting place of the law of our self-determination with the common law of mutuality, where they began to become one. It signifies in fact the discovery of an inner and larger self other than the mere ego, in which our individual self-fulfillment no longer separates us from others but at each stage of our growth calls far an increasing unity v.
To sum up: I have attempted to recognize some of the outstanding problems of contemporary society and culture. In the areas delineated such as identity politics, the tyranny of the State Idea, the crisis of the Nation State, the emergent international order, and the question of self-determination, we find legitimate human aspirations for greater diversity but we seem to lack a principle for greater cohesion. Sri Aurobindo suggests that such a principle could in fact rest on deeper psychological and spiritual factors that transcend the human ego. That is where true mutuality would be possible. His philosophy of creative evolution gives us assurance of such a vision. We can retrieve from this vision, insights for the right governance of our individual and collective life. Ultimately, that remains both a hope and a challenge to our current thinking.
Sachidananda Mohanty is Professor of English at the University of Hyderabad. He had his early education at the Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education. Dr. Mohanty is the recipient of several national and international awards including the Fulbright, the British Council and the Salzburg, and has published extensively on literature and culture. References:
2 Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine , Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1939; rpt 2004 p. 1092.
ii The Ideal of Human Unity, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1919: rpt, 1998, p. 26
iii War and Self-Determination, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram,1920: rpt ,1962, pp. 838-39
iv Ibid, p.843.
v On Nationalism, Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1965: rpt 1996 ,p. 229.
vi,War and Self-Determination, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram,1920: rpt, 1962, p. 843.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How the Dalit-Brahmin thesis works

Third Force times of india 23 May, 2007 CHANDRA BHAN PRASAD
We must understand why Indian society is asking Dalits to lead, why UP rejected both BJP and Congress, and how the Dalit-Brahmin thesis works. By definition, the hierarchical Indian varnashram society is made up of two major social blocks -- Dwijas (Brahmin-Kshatriya-Vaishya) and Shudras (Mandal castes). Untouchables/outcastes or Dalits are at the margin of the varna order. Tribals are segregated even demographically. By tradition, the Brahmin-led Dwijas have ruled society. Every social movement targeted Dwijas as tormentors and identified Brahmins, quite justifiably, for all the ills of Indian society.
After Independence, the hegemony of Dwijas started to crumble. Mandal implementation in 1991 was the final blow. While the desperate Dwijas fought Mandal, no other social class supported them. They lost the moral mandate to rule. Today, only two states of India, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, are ruled by Brahmins. Post-Mandal India was mesmerised by the slogan of social justice, and Shudras got an historic opportunity to restructure India on egalitarian lines. They got the moral mandate to rule society, with Dalits going along with them.
But Shudras, instead of breaking social hierarchies, set out to replace Dwija hegemony with their own, emerging as a partisan social block. Under them, even core democratic institutions faced unprecedented threat. Dalits found their right to adult franchise under attack. Now, Shudras have lost the moral mandate to rule. Who would then rule India? Shudras rejected Dwijas, and vice versa. Dalits began rejecting both. The result was a hung Parliament and hung assemblies all these years. The decade-long social churning produced an unarticulated social consensus -- a third force with Dalits as social harmonisers...BSP will be instrumental in formation of the next government at the Centre. It will lay its claim on at least 140 Lok Sabha seats in the Hindi belt. The writer is a Dalit ideologue.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The United States has been the key to the material and spiritual progress of mankind

A Trollish Inconsistency is the Hobgoblin of the Religious Left One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin I want to go back to dodging Susannah's original question, which I successfully evaded yesterday, which was, "What is your take on ostensibly religious left-wingers and how they come by their horizontality?"
First of all, as is generally true of so many areas, plain old stupidity is underrated as an explanation. If you just consider the fact that the average IQ is 100, then exactly 50% of the population has double digit IQs, which is not all that far from being borderline retarded (which is an IQ of 85 or below).
In short, half of mankind (actually, more than half, for reasons we won't get into here) is of below average intelligence. This hardly means that they aren't decent people or that they don't have skills, but it does mean that they probably can't actually think complex subjects through for themselves, and that their thinking is very likely going to be both internally and externally inconsistent. Furthermore, they won't even be intelligent enough to spot the inconsistency. And if you try to explain it to them, they still won't get it.
(I might add that countless people of modest intelligence fully understand, at least intuitively, transcendent Truth, whereas for many people of superior intelligence, such as a Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris, higher truth is, for a variety of characterological reasons, inaccessible to them, so please never think that I value intelligence itself if it is not aligned with the Real. Again, most of the serious problems in the world are caused by demonically intelligent people with bad ideas.)
As I have written before, one of the downsides of democracy is that it not only has a leveling tendency, but it leads to a situation in which, as Guenon remarked, "no one knows their place." Because of the aggressive imposition of egalitarian ideals from the top down, this results in a leveling of the higher castes, so that society ends up with a collective soul that is roughly half merchant and half laborer. Not only that, but through the magic of “inverse analogy,” transgression is confused with transcendence, so society ends up “worshipping” the outcast -- the transgressor, the outsider, the person “above” (actually beneath) the law.
But there is a substantial percentage of the population that is not fit to lead, only to be led (not in principle, of course, but in fact). In America this shouldn't really be a controversial statement, as it is explicitly what our founders believed. That's why they created a representative republic and not a democracy, the latter of which should be a "non-starter" for any thinking person who is aware of the natural hierarchy that prevails among humans. (Speaking of which, Al Gore is not a thinking person -- or at least no one should take his ghostrotten thoughts seriously.)
Which, by the way, is what distinguishes American style conservative liberalism (i.e., classical liberalism) from European style conservatism, which historically (at least until Margaret Thatcher, whose main intellectual influence was the quintessential classical liberal Freidrich Hayek) was much more about preserving the privileges of king and class, or what amounts to unnatural hierarchy. One of the ironies of our political system is that leftism now embodies the idea of preserving unearned privilege, whereas conservatives (not necessarily Republicans, mind you) are all for the creative destruction of the market, which allows people to rise up or down based upon their merits (or just plain luck).
Also, as I have previously noted, "The paradox, or 'complementarity,' at the heart of the modern conservative movement is the tension between tradition, which preserves, and the free market, which relentlessly destroys in order to build. While individual conservatives may or may not contain this tension within themselves, the conservative coalition definitely does, with the 'religious right' on one end and libertarians and free marketeers on the other. People wonder how these seeming opposites can coexist in the same ideological tent, but the key may lie in their dynamic complementarity, for liberty only becomes operative, or 'evolutionary,' when it is bound by transcendent limitations -- which, by the way, is equally true for the individual."
Furthermore, "The ironically named progressive left is an inverse image of this evolutionary complementarity. This is because it rejects both the creative destruction of capitalism and the evolutionary restraints of tradition. Therefore, it is static where it should be dynamic, and dynamic where it should be static. It is as if they want to stop the world and 'freeze frame' one particular image of capitalism, which is why, for example, they oppose free trade. While free trade is always beneficial in the long run, it is obviously going to displace some people and some occupations. It is as if the progressive is an 'economic traditionalist,' transferring their resistance to change to the immament realm of economics instead of the spiritual realm of transcendent essences."
In other words, "while the progressive is thoroughly backward looking with regard to economics, he is the opposite with regard to the spiritual realm. For him, mankind was basically worthless until the scientific revolution, mired as it was in myth, magic, and superstition. Rather, the only reliable way to understand the world is through the scientific method, which has the effect of throwing overboard centuries of priceless accumulated spiritual wisdom. It literally severs man from his deepest metaphysical roots and ruptures his vertical continuity. In reality, it destroys the very possibility of man in the archetypal sense -- i.e., actualizing his 'spiritual blueprint.'"
A further irony about the left: "Progressives, starting with Karl Marx, waged an assault on labor, eliminating its spiritual significance and reducing it to a mindless, collective 'proletariat.' You might say that the left honors labor in the same way they honor the military: both are considered by them to be losers." When Democrats claim that they are "for the little man," they actually mean this insult in the existential sense. Leftists always have a contemptuous and patronizing attitude toward labor, just as they do toward blacks. Meanwhile, the unleashing of market forces has obviously done more to lift the fortunes of blacks and laborers than any welfare program ever has.
Speaking of which, someone yesterday mentioned Martin Luther King. What about him? He was a religious leftist. First of all, I don't know if that's true. Aside from the usual things they trot out on his holiday, I'm not really familiar with his writings. I've heard it said that his body of writings is pretty tedious and none too deep, but I just don't know. For one thing, he was apparently an inveterate plagiarizer, so it's difficult to say exactly what he thought. The Wiki article on him not only discusses the well known controversy about his plagiarized doctoral dissertation, but the fact that most of his published writings may have been ghostwritten and that such uncredited "textual appropriation" was "a feature of many of his speeches, which borrowed heavily from those of other preachers..."
Speaking of the inconsistency of the religious leftist, here is a perfect example. The Wiki article states that, especially in private, King embraced socialist principles. In 1965, for example, he supposedly told Alex Haley that black equality could not be achieved without "a government compensatory program of US $50 billion over ten years to all disadvantaged groups. He posited that 'the money spent would be more than amply justified by the benefits that would accrue to the nation through a spectacular decline in school dropouts, family breakups, crime rates, illegitimacy, swollen relief rolls, rioting and other social evils.'"
Furthermore, in a 1968 speech, he claimed that "You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with... captains of industry…. [I]t really means that we are saying that something is wrong… with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism." (By the way, I'm assuming he really said these things. I suppose with Wiki you never know, but I just don't have time at the moment to corroborate them. At any rate, forget about King, because the above statements articulate the sentiments of millions of other religious leftists anyway.)
Now, here is the inconsistency: "King had read Marx while at Morehouse, but while he rejected 'traditional capitalism,' he also rejected Communism due to its 'materialistic interpretation of history' that denied religion, its 'ethical relativism,' and its 'political totalitarianism.'" So King clearly saw the dreadful truth about leftism, and yet, embraced its principles anyway.
Having said that, I think a lot of economic foolishness prior to the 1980s can be excused, since liberals had almost total control of the dissemination of information back then. Someone who was reading Hayek in the 1950s, as was Ronald Reagan, was truly on the cutting edge, for Hayek was not awarded his Nobel Prize until the 1980s, long after he had made his most important contributions to our economic understanding. Nor did the important science of complexity theory really emerge until the 1980s, of which evolutionary free market principles are an embodiment.
In truth, if King had been a more intellectually gifted man -- Thomas Sowell, or Shelby Steele, or Armstrong Williams come immediately to mind -- there would have been nothing whatsoever preventing him from even more forcefully making his case for civil rights based solely upon conservative principles, as do the above three thinkers. Indeed, I would suggest that the only intellectual aspects of Kings legacy that will survive -- and are worthy of surviving -- are precisely those that are rooted in the perennial truth of classical liberal principles, for example, the beautiful idea of judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. What decent person could ever object to this? Obviously millions of otherwise decent leftists do object to it.
The other aspect of King's legacy that should survive is his great and selfless personal courage in standing up to demonic forces impeding the spiritual mission and evolutionary progress of America. In this regard, King was the ultimate conservative, for he insisted, at great personal risk, that America live up the transcendent greatness of its founding principles, and it is for this that we owe King a debt of gratitude, not necessarily for his ideas -- certainly not all of them, irrespective of where he actually got them. In fact, we must respectfully -- but categorically -- reject any of his ideas that run foul of his liberal -- which is to say, conservative -- mission.
It's not that different from, say, John McCain. We should all be grateful for his heroic service to America, but that doesn't mean that we should align ourselves with some of his harmful ideas -- which also fundamentally violate American principles - or not do everything possible to prevent him from becoming president.
To quote myself again, "Ever since it came into existence, the United States has been the key to the material and spiritual progress of mankind. The founders were well aware of this fact, seeing their mission as analogous to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Clearly, Moses was not merely leading the Jews from physical slavery to economic freedom, but from spiritual shackles to the higher possibility of vertical liftoff in the desert." posted by Gagdad Bob at 5/20/2007 07:31:00 AM 36 comments Sunday, May 20, 2007

Capitalism today is not threatened by crisis; indeed, crisis is the tool it uses to renew itself

Take, for instance, Marx’s (dialectical) opposition between the forces of production and the relations of production. Marx says that the very development of capitalist relations unleashes forces — for instance, possibilities of widespread material abundance, as well as collective modes of organization — that those same relations need to repress in order to perpetuate themselves. So, as capitalism develops, it is literally bursting at the seams: it needs to control and push back the very things that it makes possible. It needs to reimpose scarcity, and privatize what is inherently common and public. This stress is a dialectical contradiction, and its result is crisis: and ideally, for Marx, crisis is the point of leverage at which revolutionary change can occur, destroying capitalist property relations and replacing them with a common, or communist, system that is much more in accordance with the abundance that capitalist relations themselves inadvertently produced.
Now, there is something overly mechanical here about how the Hegelian dialectic neatly inverts itself, so that a contradiction directly leads to its own solution on a higher level. And in fact, of course, things haven’t happened this way. Capitalism today is not threatened by crisis; indeed, crisis is the tool it uses to renew itself. The “dialectic” by which a contradiction is resolved on a higher level is entirely absorbed within capitalism itself. When the “contradictions” of what I like to call FKW (the Fordist/Keynesian/welfare-stateist system) caused trouble in the 1960s and 1970s, the result was not to trouble the capitalist system, but precisely to allow capital to regenerate itself on high-tech, neoliberal lines. (This was the case whether we refer to social movements and to stagflation in the “advanced” western countries, to stagnation in the “socialist” bloc, or to anti-colonialist struggles and subsequent nation-building in the Third World)... This entry was posted on Monday, May 22nd, 2006 at 11:49 am and is filed under Theory. The Pinocchio Theory

Reducing the boundary between psychic and physical

Aurobindo: technology as aspect of psycho-spiritual evolution; we’re on the way to “supramental condition,” reintegrating psychic powers now mimicked by technology. Cell phones, social nets “retribalizing” us, shifting the boundaries of the Ego, reducing the boundary between psychic and physical.
ANIMATION IDEA: earth in time lapse: 10 thousand years in 10 seconds, so that each second is 1000 years. THEREFORE, in the tenth of the last second (1/10) the earth: a) lights up at night; b) satellites orbiting, like electrons around nucleous, electricmagnetic field of the earth gets denser, thicker; c) earth pulsing in SPACE, like a heartbeat, a beacon, a firecracker; d) a sign.
Sri Aurobindo was a political activist, Indian Yogi, and spiritual master, who first came to prominence in India's struggle for independence from the British, in an extremist nationalist movement in 1908. He was convinced that any political freedom must be imbued with spiritual elements and thus created a new vision of India, in which her independence was grounded in the necessity of preserving the great teachings of Indian religion, which he predicted would be essential to saving our global humanity at some future point in history. This revolution would occur collectively through a critical mass of enlightened individuals.
His spiritual practice was grounded in yoga and meditation. However, he did not advocate a withdrawal from the affairs of life, but a full political engagement that was based in spiritual understanding and practice. In fact his discovery of yoga as a young adult, after returning from his English education at King's college in Cambridge, was what reconnected him to his Indian roots, and convinced him of India's ultimate value. He was immediately transformed and enthralled by the practice, experiencing electric power around his head, the presence of the Divine within, and the silent Brahmin consciousness, or union with the absolute.
Aurobindo's ultimate belief was in the spiritual nature of all reality, which he described as being, consciousness, and bliss (sat-chit-ananda). To him, the underlying thrust of the entire phenomenal world is a spiritual evolution in consciousness toward a situation in which all material forms will reveal the indwelling spirit. He postulated several states of consciousness, such as the Overmind, Intuitive mind, Higher mind, and Illumined mind. These states he saw as interconnected and revealing different levels of reality and unity. Normal waking consciousness is steeped in individualism, while the higher states reveal an ultimate unity. Psyche or soul was the manifestation of the divine as it occurs within individuals, for the purpose of reuniting with the universal.
Sri Aurobindo was a mystic who achieved his ascending levels of consciousness through yoga and meditation. Yet, in 1926 he had a profound experience of the Overmind descending into him, and stressed that it is not merely transcendence that we are seeking, but an integration of that higher mind with our involvement in the daily world. In this way, he described his spiritual practice as Integral Yoga, for it integrated the many systems of India, with daily practice and political and worldly activity.
"For truth and knowledge are an idle gleam, if knowledge brings not power to change the world."
"Our experience of the descending current is the experience of the transforming Force.""Virtue is a pretentious impurity. The only sin is to be discouraged."
"There is an evolution of the consciousness behind the evolution of the species and this spiritual evolution must end in a realization, individual and collective, on the earth."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ever increasing number of young men all over the country

Extracts from letters of Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy Undated letter (early June 1914)
That attempt takes the form of a new philosophical Review with Richard and myself as Editors — the Arya, which is to be brought out in French and English, two separate editions, — one for France, one for India, England and America. In this Review my new theory of the Veda will appear as also translation and explanation of the Upanishads, a series of essays giving my system of Yoga and a book of Vedantic philosophy (not Shankara’s but Vedic Vedanta) giving the Upanishadic foundations of my theory of the ideal life towards which humanity must move. You will see so far as my share is concerned, it will be the intellectual side of my work for the world...
The second part of my work is the practical, consisting in the practice of Yoga, by an ever increasing number of young men all over the country. We have started here a society called the New Idea with that object, and a good many young men are taking up Vedantic Yoga and some progressing much.…
The divorce from Tantrism is necessary if you are to do the work of the Review or the other work I wish you to undertake. You must surely see that. Neither will work if there are any occurrences of the old kind mixing them up together.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Can we survive a techno centric existence devoid of love?

What is the meaning of altruism?
The true meaning goes beyond the linguistic or encyclopaedic definition. In cybofree, it has been argued that mere satisfaction of the body only instils a false sense of freedom in man.
Can we survive a techno centric existence devoid of love?
Cyborgs and Altruism V.R. Manoj Ethical Technology
Such an idea of an emotionless being is impossible because we cannot exist as humans without love. If love exists, then surely altruism shall exist for all time because love is it’s fount. Human civilization has and shall always owe it’s survival and prosperity on the ability to love and serve each other. Sri Aurobindo 20 has given the vision that the man of the future shall become a full instrument of nature’s intentions. If we accept this view, then we can also accept that the possible evolution of man into a cyborg is also nature’s way of harmoniously balancing the machine world and the human world. Therefore, the cyborg or for that matter, any outcome in the future of man shall be in accordance with the wishes of nature.
It is sometimes difficult to imagine that a good outcome shall come in the future filled with caring human beings/ cyborgs. However, a practice called “Aesthetic realism” proposes a worldview approach that can help us view a different perspective. “If, as Aesthetic realism believes, all the sciences, let alone all the arts, present reality as constituted or shaped aesthetically, reality of the world can that much be liked. Aesthetic Realism does not bid people to like reality; it does bid people to hope to like reality and to do all they can to like it. A seeing of the sciences in their relation and where they begin is a means of seeing the world favourably; with order and surprise.
We may never quite understand why human altruism is so unique or as to why evolutionary theories cannot fully explain it’s complexities. But we know that a “fully rounded human being” is a combined element of “consciousness of principle, good-hearted feeling, an awareness of appearances, and a healthy prudent sense of self-interest”. Therefore, any future outcome of the human being including cyborgs shall still be and continue to be altruistic in their nature even by the time the first contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence is made.

20. Siegel, Eli. Self and World: An explanation of Aesthetic Realism. Excerpt from Aesthetic Realism. 21. Sri Aurobindo. 1990. The future evolution of man. Edited by P.B.Saint Hillaire ISBN 81-7058-219-9. PP: 148. V.R.Manoj is a Research Scholar at the Centre for Environmental Studies, Anna University, India. His area of research is biological wastewater treatment.

Tathagat Satpathy has preferred irrigation to an IIT in Orissa

TATHAGAT IS RIGHT May 13th, 2007 Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
In these pages I have earlier shown how a specific group of Oriyas, staying mostly in UK, USA and Japan have been supporting the illegal acquisition of our peoples' lands by the Naveen Patnaik government acting as it is as the launching pad of industrial empires of POSCO and the likes. These people are vociferous against road blockade resorted to by the displaced as their last resort in expressing their active protests against state terrorism to which they have been subjected to. These people have been openly advocating for land-grabbers and mines-mongers, as according to them, Orissa's acceptance of their spread would be her emancipation!
There are persons amongst these people who are in their ingratiating best to eke out berths for themselves in POSCO and/or Vedant with full protection of their current income in foreign coin expanded by incentives for their contributions to the ongoing public-relation-campaigns of those industries. As I am informed by dependable sources, a number of NROs have already applied for prime plots and prospects of easy acquisition of such government lands at Bhubaneswar in important locations if the chief minister is pleased is another cause of their open support to POSCO and Vedant.
One of these ingratiating methods is the endeavor to safeguard the political interests of Naveen by attacking the central government for non-grant of IIT to Orissa and instigating the people to believe that the IIT has been theft away from their soil and unless the same is restored, paths of prosperity would not open for them. These NROs have been trying to show that if anything deserves priority attention that is the establishment of IIT. This is no small a tool contrived to divert public attention from ongoing misrule in the State. But the most catastrophic aspect of this campaign is relegating agriculture to an inferior position in public perception while elevating imperialism to the position from where alone people can expect benefit. It is a shame that political leaders and media, supposed to be watchdogs of interest of the commons, are conspicuous by their silence!
In such a situation, Tathagat Satpathy, though a BJD member in Parliament, has, through his welcome editorial in Dharitri, assured the people that every conscience is not yet killed. A two-in-one, politician and pressman, he is right and absolutely so in his reading of the real requirement of Orissa. He is the first amongst politicians of our state to have refused to be swayed away by the neo elite howling for the IIT. And he is the first amongst the print media editors of our State to have shown how irrigation to agricultural lands deserves more attention than running after an IIT. I thank him from the core of my heart and wish others to follow him. I have no hesitation to say that he has emerged as the most speaking conscience-keeper of Orissa.

Mutual failure: both art and technology are equally lacking in an ultimate justification

Magazine Submitted by mute on Wednesday, 21 January, 2004
- By Ewan Morrison and Matthew Fuller
5. Foucault's critique of technology. The myth that technology is a 'tool'. Technology always serves the interests of power. Artists get used by technology. Not the other way around.
The horror of the artist/reviewer meeting Imaginaria is that it is technology and science that sets the agenda. Thus, artists fall prey to an agenda which is not theirs, to a set of concerns that they cannot control or limit, and to a set of outcomes (since many works are set up as 'experiments') which are predetermined and not as 'open ended' as the artists would like to think.
6. Heidegger's opposition between art and technology. The debate on art and technology is always prefaced by some reference to Heidegger. For Heidegger, technology keeps humanity from recognising 'being': we deny ourselves when we see the world 'technologically' - that is, as a tool for our own use. Against the evils of technology Heidegger set the virtues of art, through which 'being' expresses itself to us. Heidegger's views on art were dominant in the 50s and have had a lasting impact.
Although very few contemporary artists would support Heidegger's philosophy and its endorsement of the notion of the autonomous individual, the ethically existing subject and the expression of inner truth, the art world continues to distrust technology.
The postmodern rejection of Heidegger should have seen an abandonment of the old opposition between art and technology and paved the way for a reconciliation of the old opposites. However, the result has not been a new belief in the compatibility of art and technology, but the belief instead that both art and technology are equally lacking in an ultimate justification. In this way Heidegger's split is reconciled - through mutual failure.

I really get stunned when people talk of “Technology of Consciousness”

Re: 'In Our Own Image: Humanity's Quest for Divinity via Technology,' by Debashis Chowdhury by Debashis-C on Wed 16 May 2007 06:50 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
For further details, check out the following url: www.iooi.org Wonderful as the opportunity that is currently being presented to humanity - to raise our material and spiritual presence into a new level of 'Divinity,' we must also be aware of the flip side of the coin. Technology is a force multiplier, and @ Moores' Law, a 1000x increase happens in only about 20-25 years. Unless we, humans, can come up with a unifying identity and purpose - this same technology can be used to destroy us, or perhaps worse - obsolete us as an aspirational presence here in this universe.
The answer to this quandry, fittingly enough, can be found in the Ashrama system that was practiced in ancient India - and is still practiced in places like the Aurobindo Ashram. The changes are relatively minor, in order to apply it to society at large, and the principles of the (now enhanced) Mahashrama cycle can be applied to individual humans, human institutions, nations, or even our entire human civilization.
by RY Deshpande on Fri 18 May 2007 04:24 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
The thesis seems to suggest that “a unifying identity and purpose” can be achieved through the Mahashrama cycle; but basing it on ‘technology’ has no sufficient empirical support. In fact, in the overall social context, individual as well as collective, it plays relatively a very minor part. I really get stunned when, as an extension of the present argument, people talk of “Technology of Consciousness”. RYD

International party for the world government

I, director of the World Government Institute, sent a following letter and requested to write an article "World Government Movement in India." Mr. Samar Basu replied a following letter..
Toshio Suzuki 1-158 Nakakanasugi, Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, Post Number 270Home Page: World Government Institute URL: http://www.justnet.or.jp./home/toshio-suzuki/ e-mail : toshio-suzuki@jsn.justnet.or.jp 24 July 1997
World Union
SG 52 Rue Desbassyns de Richmont Pondicherry 605002 India
Dear Sir,
I am afraid of surprising you by writing a letter suddenly. I am carrying on the work of establishing the World Government. I have a home page on the Inter Net and my paper is shown there. Here I enclose the paper. I would like you to read it. Basic thought is to make international parties for the World Government. International party in each country has common policies on the World Government. Basic policy is to conduct an election to elect the representatives for the World Government, and the number of representatives is in proportion to population. It fights the election insisting its policy for the World Government. After it got the power, it conducts the election.
As written in the paper, we will need international party for the world government. The movement of international party will not occur immediately, but I would like you to understand the thought and remember it. And I hope collaboration in the future work.And in my site, there is an article Toshio Suzuki "World Government Movement in Japan." I enclose it also. I would like you to write an article of same type under the title "World Government Movement in India," It will be published on my home page.
Yours sincerely, Toshio Suzuki
A non-profit non-political organisation
Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry - 605002
India PHONE: 34834
Date: 13-08-97. Ref. No. : 208/WU-WFM(JAPAN) /97-98
Mr. Toshio Suzuki, 1-158 Nakakanasugi, Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture, JAPAN 270.
Dear brother,
Sub: World Govt. Movement in India.
To myself it is not surprising but a very pleasant occasion, for after a gap of nearly three decades I received your loving letter of the 24th ultimo requesting Word Union's collaboration in launching World Government Movement in Japan, as also in India.
So far as I remember, I saw you for the first time in 1997 at Innsbruck, Austria or in Paris when you attended the second session of the World Constituent Assembly organised by the World Constitution and Parliament Association (W.C.P.A), Colorado, U.S.A.As regards your proposal I like to request you kindly to apprise me if the W.F.M. has any chapter in India. If so, please let me know its address so that we may contact it and discuss the matter with its officials so that a program of work may be chalked out to initiate the Movement.
Meanwhile I take this privilege to inform you that we in India are deeply thinking of unification of the three countries - India, Pakistan and Bangladesh through Confederation as the W.F.M. in Europe has been carrying forward its Movement for creating a United States of Europe. To be frank, we need guidelines from the W.F.M. in this matter.
We think that confederation of the above three countries plus the other member countries of the SAARC to become a United whole is a factor of capital importance to W.F.M. in India. Please let me have your concerted view on this. With loving regards,
Yours fraternally signature (Samar Basu)
Gen. Secy. & Treasurer.
P.S. I will let you know of our views on your paper "International Party for the World Government" after a couple of weeks.

It is a great, well-informed, honest and self-conscious dissenting opinion

People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.) by Howard Zinn Spotlight Reviews: Good Scholarship, Worthwhile, September 24, 2001 By Wyote (wandering around the world) - See all my reviews
Even people who hate Howard Zinn admit that he's a good scholar. But many people hate him, for sure--and you have to remember that when you're reading some of these reviews. On the other hand, most of the reviewers seem to be communists themselves, and so their gushing reviews should surprise no one.
I recommend the book with some reservations. Agree or disagree, perspectives like Zinn's keep us from becoming ignorant victims of ideological propaganda. I recommend it because it is a great, well-informed, honest and self-conscious dissenting opinion. Anyone who wants to consider themselves educated needs to consider dissenting opinions frequently. But I have reservations. Most importantly, Zinn's purpose is not to introduce someone to American history. He assumes his readers already know the basics. Of course, many people do not. It's not a history of the US; it's a series of contentious corrections to the history traditionally taught in American classrooms. (Why did the Colonies defeat the British? What caused the depression? Why did Nixon visit China? Unless you know this much, this book isn't yet for you.)
Some reviewers complained about Zinn's tone. Zinn is an average writer; better than many academics but worse than any good writer. Other reviewers seemed to assume that either communists or far-right conservatives aren't "students of history." But of course some are. Zinn and Newt Gingrich are both well-informed scholars.
(If it matters to you, I am neither communist nor right-wing; I'm just not a political thinker. I'm American, and I think Americans--all of us--can be proud and thankful; but we should recognize that our government and politicians have never been perfect. Ideologies often serve to control people, so dissenting opinions are vital for freedom's perseverance. But democracy and moderated capitalism have often succeeded in blessing their people, while communism has evidently failed everywhere, with more gruesome histories even than capitalism.) Comments (10)

A place of unending education

Many worlds, one cosmos Home Views Editorials Opeds Story Rahul Singh May 18, 2007
Pondicherry blends two diverse worlds to create a matchless cosmos of its own, without any sign of conflict. Sauntering down the breeze-laden Goubert Avenue, the town’s equivalent of Mumbai’s Marine Drive along the pristine blue sea, you find children enjoying cricket, cheered by the waves stroking the jagged rocks. A stretch of the promenade sandwiched between the statues of Francois Dupleix, who governed this seaside town till 1754, and Mahatma Gandhi serves as the makeshift cricket pitch. A smartly turned-out policeman sporting the uniform of the French gendarme tries to talk the kids out of creating what he thinks is nuisance for the milling crowds exploring Pondicherry’s French streetscapes.
Not far away from the town’s White district, abounding with French heritage buildings and historic monuments, is the Tamil quarter, separated by a storm water canal and set apart by its own distinct architectural expression. Here, the enthusiasm for the French game of Petanque almost equals the love for idli, dosa and rasam.
Magical mix My love affair with this somewhat old-fashioned city, where folks love to cycle and sun worshippers rise early, began at the Cercle de Pondicherry on a drizzly evening. The elitist club is a stone’s throw from the city’s most famous monument — the Aayi Mandapam, built to honour a courtesan who lived in the 16th century. Over several rounds of beer, pomfret and smutty jokes, my hosts, Gunasekhar and his friends — a group of decorated former French combatants — demystified Pondicherry for me.
One of them spoke in a pompous tone, but I decided to forgive as much — after all, he turned out to be a repository of information on Pondicherry for which I would have otherwise had to rummage through volumes at the Romain Rolland Library at the French Institute on Rue Dumas.
Had he not tipped me off, I would have almost missed the cross-influence of building patterns in the Tamil quarter, where a few two-storied buildings are a fusion of two unconnected styles of architecture — Tamil architectural patterns on the ground floor and the European classical style on the first floor.
The oldies asked me to join them for a game of tennis at the club the next morning. The offer came tagged with an invitation for tea at the Foyer du Soldat, a building where retired soldiers hang out to relive a shared past.
City of Dawn Hard pressed for time, I skipped both and found myself headed for Auroville, envisioned by The Mother, Mirra Alfassa, as a symbol of human unity and a place of unending education, of constant progress and youth that never ages.
Barely 15 kms from Pondicherry off the East Coast road to Chennai, Auroville is for those who aspire to a higher and truer life, and seek to transform the world through ‘the power of the inner spirit’. As someone restively waiting for the yearly pay rise, I am not really sure if I had attained higher levels of consciousness to be in Auroville, amid its 1,700 inhabitants from 35 countries.
Auroville and its red earth lend themselves to a mixed bag of activities. Aurovillians keep themselves busy with research into a cashless economy, environmental regeneration, organic farming, village development, handicraft, healthcare and renewable energy.
In Auroville, which is French for City of Dawn, work is not a way to earn one’s living, but to express oneself and develop one’s capabilities while being of service to the community, which provides for each individual’s subsistence.Auroville’s soul is the Matrimandir, which I initially thought was a temple. However, there are no idols here, no rituals and no priests. They say it is the perfect setting for inner search and spiritual transformation.
The taxi driver’s words were weighing on my mind. He said: “Sir, anything more than three hours and you will have to pay a waiting charge of Rs 500.” Sounds irreverent? Well, the underlying philosophy at Auroville is to live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority — the supreme truth. So, it is okay, I guess.
One thing you don’t want to do is snoop around the 90-odd settlements in this international township. Aurovillians feel affronted. I decided to preserve my exploratory urges until I was back on the inviting streets of Pondicherry. The town’s French quarter abounds with magnificent bluish-grey buildings that are an integral part of its architectural ensemble. The colour signifies that the properties belong to Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
I invited Gunasekhar for a meal to my hotel, to share my perceptions of the city. I smugly told him I had seen virtually the whole of Pondicherry, its well-known temples, the Ashram, traditional houses in the Muslim area, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient…
I was cut short by his amused look. “Yanam in Andhra Pradesh and Mahe in Kerala were French settlements,” he said. “They are a part of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.” He had made his point. Pondicherry is perhaps the most spread out territory in the country and my short southern sojourn did not offer me the luxury to travel far and wide. But I am sure wanderlust will take me back to the place someday, to discover every strand, every fascinating facet. Email author: rahul.singh@hindustantimes.com