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Minerva Reefs – Wikipedia

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:41 am

Republic of Minerva Micronation


Motto:Land of the Rising Atoll

Minerva Reefs



The Minerva Reefs (Tongan: Ongo Teleki), briefly de facto independent in 1972 as the Republic of Minerva, are a group of two submerged atolls located in the Pacific Ocean south of Fiji and Tonga. The reefs were named after the whaleship Minerva, wrecked on what became known as South Minerva after setting out from Sydney in 1829. Many other ships would follow, for example the Strathcona, which was sailing north soon after completion in Auckland in 1914. In both cases most of the crew saved themselves in whaleboats or rafts and reached the Lau Islands in Fiji. Of some other ships, however, no survivors are known.

It is not known when the reefs were first discovered but had been marked on charts as “Nicholson’s Shoal” since the late 1820s. Capt H. M. Denham of the HMS Herald surveyed the reefs in 1854 and renamed them after the Australian whaler Minerva which collided with South Minerva Reef on 9 September 1829.[1]

The Republic of Minerva was a micronation consisting of the Minerva Reefs. It was one of the few modern attempts at creating a sovereign micronation on the reclaimed land of an artificial island in 1972. The architect was Las Vegas real estate millionaire and political activist Michael Oliver, who went on to other similar attempts in the following decade. Lithuanian-born Oliver formed a syndicate, the Ocean Life Research Foundation, which allegedly had some $100,000,000 for the project and had offices in New York City and London. They anticipated a libertarian society with “no taxation, welfare, subsidies, or any form of economic interventionism.” In addition to tourism and fishing, the economy of the new nation would include light industry and other commerce. According to Glen Raphael, “The chief reason that the Minerva project failed was that the libertarians who were involved did not want to fight for their territory.”[2] According to Reason, Minerva has been “more or less reclaimed by the sea”.[3]

In 1971, barges loaded with sand arrived from Australia, bringing the reef level above the water and allowing construction of a small tower and flag. The Republic of Minerva issued a declaration of independence on 19 January 1972, in letters to neighboring countries and even created their own currency. In February 1972, Morris C. Davis was elected as Provisional President of the Republic of Minerva.

The declaration of independence, however, was greeted with great suspicion by other countries in the area. A conference of the neighboring states (Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, and territory of Cook Islands) met on 24 February 1972 at which Tonga made a claim over the Minerva Reefs and the rest of the states recognized its claim.

On 15 June 1972, the following proclamation was published in a Tongan government gazette:


A Tongan expedition was sent to enforce the claim the following day. It reached North Minerva on 18 June 1972. The Flag of the Tonga was raised on 19 June 1972 on North Minerva and on South Minerva on 21 June 1972.[4]

Tongas claim was recognized by the South Pacific Forum in September 1972. Meanwhile, Provisional President Davis was fired by founder Michael Oliver and the project collapsed in confusion. Nevertheless, Minerva was referred to in O. T. Nelson’s post-apocalyptic children’s novel The Girl Who Owned a City, published in 1975, as an example of an invented utopia that the book’s protagonists could try to emulate.

In 1982, a group of Americans led again by Morris C. Bud Davis tried to occupy the reefs, but were forced off by Tongan troops after three weeks. In recent years several groups have allegedly sought to re-establish Minerva. No known claimant group since 1982 has made any attempt to take possession of the Minerva Reefs.[citation needed]

In 2005, Fiji made it clear that they did not recognize any maritime water claims by Tonga to the Minerva Reefs under the UNCLOS agreements. In November 2005, Fiji lodged a complaint with the International Seabed Authority concerning Tonga’s maritime waters claims surrounding Minerva. Tonga lodged a counter claim, and the Principality of Minerva micronation claimed to have lodged a counter claim. In 2010 the Fijian Navy destroyed navigation lights at the entrance to the lagoon. In late May 2011, they again destroyed navigational equipment installed by Tongans. In early June 2011, two Royal Tongan Navy ships were sent to the reef to replace the equipment, and to reassert Tonga’s claim to the territory. Fijian Navy ships in the vicinity reportedly withdrew as the Tongans approached.[5][6]

In an effort to settle the dispute, the government of Tonga revealed a proposal in early July 2014 to give the Minerva Reefs to Fiji in exchange for the Lau Group of islands.[7] In a statement to the Tonga Daily News, Lands Minister Lord Maafu Tukuiaulahi announced that he would make the proposal to Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. Some Tongans have Lauan ancestors and many Lauans have Tongan ancestors; Tonga’s Lands Minister is named after Enele Ma’afu, the Tongan Prince who originally claimed parts of Lau for Tonga.[8]

Area: North Reef diameter about 5.6 kilometres (3.5mi), South Reef diameter of about 4.8 kilometres (3.0mi). Terrain: two (atolls) on dormant volcanic seamounts.

Both Minerva Reefs are about 435 kilometres (270mi) southwest of the Tongatapu Group. The atolls are on a common submarine platform from 549 to 1,097 metres (1,801 to 3,599ft) below the surface of the sea. North Minerva is circular in shape and has a diameter of about 5.6 kilometres (3.5mi). There is a small sand bar around the atoll, awash at high tide, with a small entrance into the flat lagoon with a somewhat deep harbor. South Minerva is parted into The East Reef and the West Reef, both circular with a diameter of about 4.8 kilometres (3.0mi). Around both reefs are two small sandy cays, vegetated by low scrub and some trees.[dubious discuss] Several iron towers and platforms are reported to have stood on the atolls, along with an unused light tower on South Minerva, erected by the Americans during World War II.[citation needed]

Geologically, Minervan Reef is of a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations elevated by now-dormant volcanic activity.

The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (DecemberApril), during which the temperatures rise above 32C (90F), and a cooler period (MayNovember), with temperatures rarely rising above 27C (80F). The temperature increases from 23C to 27C (74F to 80F), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67117 in.) as one moves from Cardea in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80percent.

Both North and South Minerva Reefs are used as anchorages by private yachts traveling between New Zealand and Tonga or Fiji.[9] While waiting for favourable weather for the approximately 800-mile (1,300km) passage to New Zealand, excellent scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing and clamming can be enjoyed. North Minerva (Tongan: Teleki Tokelau) offers the more protected anchorage, with a single, easily negotiated, west-facing pass that offers access to the large, calm lagoon with extensive sandy areas. South Minerva (Tongan: Teleki Tonga) is in shape similar to an infinity symbol, with its eastern lobe partially open to the ocean on the northern side.

The Tuaikaepau (‘Slow But Sure’), a Tongan vessel on its way to New Zealand, became famous when it struck the reefs on 7 July 1962. This 15-metre (49ft) wooden vessel was built in 1902 at the same yard as the Strathcona. The crew and passengers survived by living in the remains of a Japanese freighter. There they remained for three months in miserable circumstances and several of them died. Finally Captain Tvita Fifita decided to get help. Without tools, he built a small boat from the wood left over from his ship. With this raft, named Malolelei (‘Good Day’), he and a few of the stronger crew members sailed to Fiji in one week.

Coordinates: 2338S 17854W / 23.633S 178.900W / -23.633; -178.900

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‘Modi combines Savarkar and neoliberalism’: Pankaj Mishra on why this is the age of anger – Yahoo News

Posted: at 4:02 am

We live in a disorienting world. In West Asia, the Islamic State uses displays of cruelty and religious fanaticism as a propaganda tool. In large swathes of Europe, far right nationalism is rearing its head for the first time since after the defeat of fascism in World War II. The worlds only superpower, meanwhile, has a president elected to office on an explicit programme of racial and religious bigotry, attacking Muslims and non-White Americans in his campaign speeches.

And, of course, closer home in India, the ideology of Hindutva, which considers India to be a Hindu nation, grows ever stronger, assaulting Muslims and Dalits in its wake.

In his new book, intellectual Pankaj Mishra tries to explain this fury enveloping the world. Titled Age of Anger: A History of the Present, the work traces traces todays discontentment to the rapid changes of the 18th century, when modernity was shaped.

You say that the enlightenment gave rise to some irresistible ideals: a rationalistic, egalitarian and universalising society in which men shaped their own lives. So why do so many people disagree with the way in which you see the enlightenment? Youve shown it to be a very positive thing. So how are, say, Islamists looking at it differently? Why do they disagree?Well, I am not sympathetic to their critique and I am not sure that theyre directly critiquing the Enlightenment rather than the consequences of the kind of thinking introduced by the Enlightenment philosophers in the late 18th century. And lets be careful here: many of the consequences werent anticipated by these philosophers themselves.

What they were talking about was a polity. And for them a polity was the church and then the monarchy. And they thought individuals could use reason since there had been enough scientific breakthroughs, enough revelations about the nature of reality out there. They did not need intermediaries like the church to tell us what to think about the world, what to think about reality. We could use our individual reason to construct our own worlds essentially and shape society. That was the fundamental message they had. They had no idea what would happen in the 19th century.

What happened in the 19th century was something very different: large nation-states came into being, the process of industrialisation started, the use of individual reason expanded, science took off, all kind of new technologies came into being, and large political and economic webs were built.

The Islamist critique of that would be: too much responsibility for shaping the world was placed upon the extremely fallible minds and sensibilities of the human individual. That this was going against centuries of custom, tradition and history. Human beings had always been seen as being very frail and weak creatures who needed some kind of constraint and that was the role of traditional religion.

Religion reminded humans being of the severe limitations that life imposes on everyone. Whereas the promise of freedom and emancipation sets off all kinds of unpredictable processes that result in actually more oppression and more pain.

So that would be or has been the modern critique of the Enlightenment which is shared by a pretty broad spectrum of people, not just the Islamists. Mahatma Gandhi himself voiced many of these critiques of modern science, modern industry and the modern nation-state. You have to remember that Rabindranath Tagore himself expressed those critiques. So we also have to look at these other critics of Enlightenment rationalism.

You go into some detail in describing Savarkar in the book. In many ways, a very good argument could be made that Savarkar was a rationalist. He said Hindus should eat beef, for example. How does a Savarkar then map to the more modern forms of Indian conservatism? How do you go from Savarkar to the current-day gau rakshak?I think Savarkar is essentially a child of Enlightenment rationalism despite all the claims made for an unbroken Hindu tradition. The important thing to note about the Savarkar variety of Hindu nationalism is that it is deeply European and deeply modern. Which was one reason why Gandhi was so opposed to it. He said this was the rule of Englishmen with the English in his book Hind Swaraj.

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So Savarkar does not partake of a critique of the Enlightenment. He, in fact, in very much a product of 19th century Europe, which advances Enlightenment rationalism in unexpected directions. He starts to think of a national community of like-minded individuals. He starts to think of a past which can be recruited by the present, that can be deployed politically. Savarkar subscribes to everyone of these political tendencies which are elaborated most prominently by [Giuseppe] Mazzini. So he comes out of that particular tradition.

So this whole reverence for figures and symbols from the past which the gau rakshak seems to manifest is a total 19th century fantasy. People did not think of the past in that way before that century. The past was very deliberately enlisted into a nationalist project. Every nationalist and I write this in the book had made some sort of a claim upon the past, made some sort of connection.

We are now looking at history as a series of ruptures and new beginnings. In Savarkars case, the rupture would be the Muslim invasion of India. Thats also the case for [VS] Naipaul. That was the big rupture that violates the wholeness of the Hindu past. And now we are invested in a new beginning, which is the revival of Hindu glory.

This whole way of looking at time, of looking at human agency and identity is a product of the European 19th century. And thats where Savarkar should be placed. I think we spend too much time comparing him to the Germans and the Italians of the 1930s. I think we should go back and look at the 19th century more closely. And also look at Savarkar which Ive done in the book together with various other tendencies such as Zionism.

But its not only Savarkar whos doing this, right? Theres a whole galaxy of Indian leaders, right from Nehru to Jinnah, taking off from the Enlightenment. In your book, you quote Dostoyevsky, who underlined a tragic dilemma: of a society that assimilates European ways through every pore only to realise it could never be truly European. Is there anything that can be done to break this dilemma?The short answer would be a pessimistic one: that there is no way to break this. Because once we make that original break from pre-modern/rural/traditional society, break away from belief in god, from belief in a horizon that was defined by transcendental authorities, once you stop living in that world, then you are condemned to finding substitute gods. And the national community and the nation state has been that substitute god or transcendental authority for hundreds and millions of people for the last two hundred years.

And one reason it endures even though in many ways the nation state has lost its sovereign power after being undermined by globalisation is that as an emotional and psychological symbol, and as a way to define the transcendental horizon, the nation state is still unbeatable. So once we make that basic move away from the pre-modern modes of life into this modern, industrialised, urbanised mode of existence, we have basically embarked on a journey where theres no turning back. Theres no breaking out of that.

Where do you situate Modi on this scale?I think Modi is an interesting case. Hes not only someone who incarnates the tendencies that we identify with Savarkar who is a model for Modi but also mirrors many contemporary tendencies which one can identify with a sort of aspirational neoliberalism. The man from nowhere who makes it big: thats the story that Modi has tried to sell about himself. That hes the son of a chaiwallah who has overcome all kinds of adversity including violent, vicious attacks from the countrys English-speaking elites who wanted to bring him down but failed. And he has overcome all these challenges to become who he is. And he invites his followers to do the same.

So, in that sense, he not only is a Hindu nationalist in the old manner of thinking of India as primarily a country of Hindus and as a community of Hindus which needs to define itself very carefully by excluding various foreigners, but also someone who is in tune with the ideological trends of the last 30 years, which place a lot of premium on individual ambition and empowerment, not just collective endeavour. So he is a very curious and irresistible mix, as it turns out, of certain collectivist notions of salvation with a kind of intensified individualism.

You used a very interesting phrase there: aspirational neoliberalism. In the book, you use another term, neoliberal individualism. In my opinion, you take a negative opinion of this sort of individualism. Could you tell us what neoliberal individualism is, how is it different from, say, Enlightenment individualism and why are you taking a negative view of it.Individualism really is synonymous with modernity, which is all about individual autonomy and reason. The most important difference is that the previous forms of individualism had certain constraining factors. There would be religion, the nation state, the larger collective.

When [Alexis de] Tocqueville goes to America and begins to describe individualism at work in the worlds first democratic society, he is aware that all of this is made possible because religion is a very important factor. There are many intermediate institutions there to mediate between individuals and the larger reality of society. So these factors were extremely important for individualism to actually work properly.

What neoliberal individualism proposes, though, is essentially that we dont actually need these intermediaries. It buys into a kind of extreme libertarian fantasy of the kind we see people like Peter Theil [co-founder of PayPal and vocal Trump supporter] expressing. Theyre saying, we dont need government, we dont need collective endeavour of any kind, we dont really need notions of collective welfare, general welfare or common good.

They believe individuals pursuing their self-interest can create a common good. And the marketplace would be where these individual desires and needs could be miraculously harmonised. So its a kind of mysticism, really, neoliberal individualism. It basically argues that we dont need any constraining factors. We do not need any intermediate institutions of the kind Tocqueville argued for in America. Neoliberal individualism says, all we really need is individual initiative, individual energy, individual dynamism and, of course, individual aspiration. So this is how neoliberal individualism is different from previous forms of individualism.

It is interesting that you mention Peter Theil, a major supporter of Trump. Is neoliberal individualism then powering Trump?Well, no. Thats the thing. There are many contradictory elements in this mix. To go back to Modi, he comes from a party which has as part of its extended family the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. The Manch believes in Swadeshi but Modi wants to attract foreign investment.

I think we have to start thinking of a world where archaisms, modernity, post-modernity all exist simultaneously yet differently. You can think of it as different territories. Trump can therefore mobilise a whole lot of disaffected individuals who have believed in the neoliberal ideology and have felt themselves victimised by various technocratic elites and attract a figure like Theil, who claims to be a libertarian, and at the same believe that economic protectionism is the way to go.

I think there are many different contradictory tendencies that have come together to produce events or personalities like Donald Trump and Modi. I think if we were to follow this old analytic method of either/or we would miss many of these contradictory aspects of modern politics and economics. In the same way, Erdoan mixed in neoliberalism with Islamism and Putin mixed in Orthodox Christianity with Russian Eurasianism. There are all kinds of mixtures on offer.

The central argument being that they correspond to the acute, inner divisions of human beings. Of people wanting individual power, expansion and at the same time wanting identity, longing and a sense of community. So this is, in a way, a little snapshot of where we are a kind of endless transition.


Age of Anger: A History of the Present, Pankaj Mishra, Juggernaut Books.

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Biography examines political motivations of Montaigne | UChicago … – UChicago News

Posted: at 4:02 am

Prof. Philippe Desan has spent most of his academic career studying the life and work of French Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne. When he set out to write his definitive biography, Montaigne: A Life, Desan intended to complete the image of Montaigne as a great philosopher, but also a shrewd politician.

The biography is really meant to balance our perception of Montaigne today, said Desan, the Howard L. Willett Professor in Romance Languages andLiteratures.

The English translation of Desans landmark 2014 French edition book was published in January by Princeton University Press. Montaigne the author was created in the 19th century, but there was a much more political motivation for Montaigne to use his book to play the political cards he had in mind at the time, Desan said.

That book was Montaignes Essays, a collection of writings first published in 1580 that reflected on a variety of topics including war, government and even cannibalism. Often regarded as one of the most important thinkers of his time, Montaigne fell out of style in the age of rationalism and reason in the 17th and 18th centuries. His popularity exploded in the 19th century as Romantic writers like Emerson and Nietzsche embraced the imagination of Montaignes writing and the image of the solitary philosopher, locked away in his tower.

That myth, however, eschewed a major aspect of his life, Desan said.

Montaigne was the mayor of Bordeaux for four years, which is the fifth-largest city in France in the 16th century, Desan said. Its a big deal, and people have historically underplayed that in order to see him as the first intellectual removed from the world contemplating the human condition.

Desan said that Montaigne purposefully cultivated that image late in his lifebuilt on the ruins of his political ambitions, and embraced by thinkers who chose to ignore the earlier aspects of his life.

Shortly after the first edition ofEssays was published, Montaigne retreated to Rome, which most scholars have attributed to the need for a vacation. But Desan discovered during archival research in Bordeaux, Prigueux, Paris and Rome that Montaignes trip had real political motivations.

This is a totally absurd conception, Desan said about the idea that Montaigne was tired and needed a break. I found documents that he went to Paris to give his book to the king, and he begged the king to give him a position in Rome. He went to Rome waiting to be named ambassador. That fell through, and Montaigne was recalled to Bordeaux to become the mayor, which was a consolation prize.

In 2015, lAcadmie Franaise honored Desan for his scholarship on Montaigne. Reviews for his new book have appeared in The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal, and the book topped Amazons bestseller list for French literature. While some have been critical of what is perceived as Desans effort at disenchantment, which Desan said misses the point of the biography.

I like Montaigne a lot, Im not bashing on Montaigne, Desan said. I tried to show the evolution of Montaigne.

Montaigne scholars have praised Desans biography for illuminating the complete picture of the writer. Philippe Desans biography offers a refreshing corrective to thosethat have underplayed [Montaignes] political activities and aspirations, said Richard Scholar, professor of medieval and modern languages at the University of Oxford.

Desans next project will pick up where this book ends and will look more closely at the myth created in the 19th century of Montaigne the isolated author. As for todays world, Desan thinks he knows what Montaigne the politician would recommend.

Skepticism about everything, Desan said. Certainly he doesnt make the mistake of having only one point of view for everything. Hes always trying to go to the other side and see himself from the others eyes. I think this is the great lesson of Montaigne that might be helpful today.

Desan will discuss Montaigne: A Life at an April 5 event at the Seminary Co-op bookstore.

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UCLA Free Speech Event Censors ‘Islamic Totalitarianism’ Book – Daily Caller

Posted: at 4:00 am


According to The College Fix, a free speech seminar at UCLA on Feb. 1 became an exercise in censorship when a book on Islamic Totalitarianism was removed from sight after boisterous student protest.

Students are said to have formed a human shield around the table where the offending book, entitled Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism, rested. After shocked and outraged students demanded the books removal, UCLA staff intervened and did just that.

The denial of free speech occurred at an event in support of free speech, sponsored by the UCLA chapters of the Federalist Society and the Ayn Rand Institute groups that have not been banned thus far at the university.

Though UCLA issued an apology for removing the book, a campus spokesman is downplaying the incident, suggesting no one formed a human shield around the table and that students voiced their objections in a civil tone.

But thats the universitys side of the story. The books author, Elan Journo, who is a director of policy research at the Ayn Rand Institute, told The College Fix that he received a full report on the incident from staff members who were manning the table.

Journo reported that about a dozen UCLA students confronted the staff members to object to the insulting language in the book and then proceeded to surround the table so that no one could view the book or even its title.

He said that based on eyewitness accounts of my colleagues on the scene when the UCLA rep stepped in, my colleagues who were staffing the table tried to point out the absurdity of ban the book. At that point, the rep picked up the stack of books and demanded that all copies of the book be removed, and that either he would take them or they could be put them under the table.

The author was so offended by the conduct of the students and the universitys affirmation of their behavior that he submitted an op ed piece to the The Hill, in which he stated:

Thus: at a panel about freedom of speech and growing threats to it not least from Islamists UCLA students and school administrators tried to ban a book that highlights the importance of free speech, the persistent failure to confront Islamic totalitarianism, and that movements global assaults on free speech.

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UCLA Free Speech Event Censors ‘Islamic Totalitarianism’ Book – Daily Caller

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Want to Save Free Speech? Listen to Rod Dreher, Jordan Cooper, Issues ETC., etc – Patheos (blog)

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Stefan Molyneux: Free Speech is All That Matters.

Post by Nathan Rinne

Popular libertarian You Tuber Stefan Molyneux argues with all his rhetorical might that Free Speech is All That Matters.

I balk at his insistence. I dont like the way he puts that. While I find his supporting arguments for this persuasive and important when it comes to politics, overall I wonder about the implications of such words, such devotion. It almost sounds religious to me. Molyneux talks about the importance of humility and self-doubt, but of this he is certain!

Why the intensity of such conviction? In a related comment, Rachel Fulton Brown, University of Chicago professor, interestingly argues that:

.the freedom of speech enshrined in our national culture was established first and foremost as a freedom to wrestle with religion. Freedom of speech means little without this religious content, which is why cries for contentless free speech are so vacuous.

Versus Molyneux, I would argue that it is only in cultures influenced by Christianity that you get the fruits he so treasures.

So where is the West, guided thusfar by Christian rails, going? Will speech remain free? Is the artistic expression of a florist speech that should be protected, and not extracted as a mere product to be sold? Should local practices of Christian-only prayer at public meetings be ruled unconstitutional? (see yesterdays unanimous decision at the Washington state Supreme Court and the decision by a federal appeals court) Will Christians remain free not only to believe what they want, but to speak their faith in the public square? To practice it not only on Sundays, but in public? What of their schools and universities?

And should we, like the Apostle Paul, insist on our rights by fighting politically at least to some degree? Or by withdrawing in the hope of being strengthened to give an answer for the hope that we have when the world is finally ready to hear and believe again? This brings us to the ideas of Rod Dreher, the cultural observer at the American Conservative and a thoughtful Eastern Orthodox Christian. A few days ago, the well-known Christian commentator Albert Mohler had Rod Dreher on his show Thinking in Public to talk about Drehers new book The Benedict Option.

It was a fascinating and informative conversation, and one which I would recommend to everyone (I first talked about Drehers Benedict Option a couples years ago here).

The conversation between the two men ended with the following exchange, always a bit biting for folks like me (I need to hear it though!):

DREHER: The Lord gave me a second chance, and I would have all your listeners realize that if theyve got their heads buried in booksI love books, I write booksbut its no substitute for the life of prayer and service.

MOHLER: Well, a classical historic Protestant can only say amen to that. Thank you, Rod, for this conversation; Im deeply indebted to you.

That said, earlier in the conversation both men had clearly dealt with the importance of doctrine (note my bold in particular):

MOHLER: I read the articles that you wrote in the beginning, frankly I follow your column very closely at the American Conservative, and weve been watching you make this argument out loud for some time. And reading the book, it seems to me its significantly different than what I might have expected in terms of some your early articles on the Benedict Option, so let me just spell that out. You began by saying youre not calling for us to head for the hillsyou just used an illustration of heading for the hillsand as I look at those early articles in the American Conservative, it did appear you were calling, more or lessand those are of course partial arguments, just a few hundred wordsbut it appears you were calling to head for the hills. Nuance that a bit in terms of where you are in the book.

DREHER: I appreciate the chance to clarify this, and in fact my own thinking has been clarified through exchanges with my readers, through talking with Catholics and evangelical friends, and sort of working through these ideas. When people hear, Head for the hills, they think, you know, to light out for the mountains and build a compound and sit there and wait for the end. I dont think were called to that. I know Im not called to that; most people arent called to that. But it does mean doing what these monks in Norcia did initially. They were living right there in the town, but they were behind monastery walls. What does that mean for us? It means as lay Christians, we have to build some kind of walls to separate ourselves from the world so that we can continue to go out into the world and minister to people and be who Christ asked us to be. The culture itself is so toxic and so anti-Christian that were just not going to be able to make it if we let anybody and anything come into our hearts, into our imaginations. The monks in Norcia say, Were called to be monks, but we cannot be for the pilgrims who come to this monastery what Christ asked us to be if we dont have that time away behind our walls for prayer and study and work. I want to take that ethic and take it to lay Christian life. We need to have, for example, Christian schools. Not to shelter our kids from any bad idea that comes from the outside, but in order for them to be nurtured and to build that resilience within so when they do get out into the world, they know who they are, they know what they believe and why they believe it. And more importantly, they have participated and built practices necessary to live out this faith and to get the faith in their bones. Because if the faith is only in your head, if its only a series of arguments, youre not going to make it.

MOHLER: You talk about a conversation, rather haunting actually, at a Christian university or college campus where the professors were telling you that so many Christian young people come, and even though they basically hold to some knowledge, genuine knowledge, of Christianity, its so superficial that it tends not even to last very long inside whats defined as a Christian college and university.

DREHER: Thats true. I mean, the situation is horrible with Catholics, but this conversation youre recalling was on an evangelical campus and the professors were saying, We try our best; we can only have these kids for four years. And these are all kids who came out of evangelical schools and evangelical churches. But this is the youth group culture. All it gave them was emotion and having fun. And one of these professors even said to me, You know, I doubt that most of our kids are going to be able to form stable families. That shocked me. I said, Whys that? He said, Because theyve never seen it.

MOHLER: I thought in reading that, once again, place still matters a great dealand I mean place not just in terms of geography, but that and social context and social placementbecause I think of the students at our school and I think the vast majority of them did see an intact family It was still close enough to them, if they didnt come from it, then they saw it. But even in talking with students, you realize in concentric rings of their relationships, you get just one ring out, and then not to mention two or three rings out, and its very hard to find. And I think thats so well documented in something like J.D. Vances work now. Where once you would have thought that respect for family and a traditional Christian morality and sexuality and all of that wouldve been taken for granted, its now hard to find on the ground.

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod President Matthew Harrison shows off his copy of the Book of Concord.

I do not fully share Rod Drehers attitude when it comes to how we as Christians should engage the culture. That said, I can certainly say Amen to this exchange above. Because, to ape Molyneux, Jesus Christ is all that matters.

When I look back at my own life, I have no idea why I am as ferociously Christian Lutheran as I am. Not everyone in my family has kept the faith I hold on to. I think, however, that one thing that was very helpful for me was learning about the history of the Lutheran Church. I am thankful that I learned the content of Martin Luthers Small Catechism as a child, but the importance of the words found therein really changed for me when I learned about the 1580 Book of Concord, otherwise known as the Lutheran Confessions (not even reading Martin Luthers Large Catechism in college really helped me like this did).

Actually, not even that is the full truth. More accurately, the Small Catechism became much more important to me after I learned about the history of the church that produced the Lutheran Confessions. For me, getting in touch with the living history underlying the doctrines in the Book of Concord was essential. As the Reformed commentator Michael Horton likes to put it, the doctrine is in the drama. One notes that this is definitely the case for the churchs book, the Bible. We are creatures who hunger not just for propositional truths, but the meaningful stories that help situate the important things we should know.

To that effect, I cant help but recommend some of the podcasts Pastor Jordan Cooper has been doing on his show lately where he digs into the Lutheran Confessions, giving a good deal of background knowledge along the way. The Small Catechism does indeed cover the core elements of the Christian faith, and we can never get to the bottom of the truths it contains. That said, as we mature and look to get our bearings in life, I think that knowing more about Bible, church history, and the history of the Reformation is critical in these last days to ground us in the faith.

An Introduction to Confessional Christianity

The Ecumenical Creeds and the Augsburg Confession

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Smalcald Articles, and Luthers Catechisms

The Formula of Concord

(Id also be remiss to point out that the fine show Issues ETC. also has done many excellent shows on the Book of Concord).

And that, I think, cant not be good for any nation, including ours.

Now in a revised edition called How Christianity Changed the World.


Images: Molyneux picture from Wikipedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license ; Pastor Matthew Harrison with BOC from http://mercyjourney.blogspot.com/2009/04/minnie-me-book-of-concord.html

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Want to Save Free Speech? Listen to Rod Dreher, Jordan Cooper, Issues ETC., etc – Patheos (blog)

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Trump, eugenics, and the historical precedent for his anti-Muslim travel ban – Daily Maverick

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Eugenics, which was endorsed by politicians and scientists across the ideological spectrum, sought to improve and strengthen human populations by means of compulsory sterilisation and restrictive immigration policies. The US were leaders of eugenics in the 1920s, but soon the Nazi state would take over this mantle.

What is less well known is that eugenics also provided pro-Nazi America First propagandists such as the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh with the scientific evidence needed to demand drastic measures to protect the superior Nordic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon genes of Western Europeans. The US advocates of immigration restrictions drew on H.H. Goddards 1912 study, which used intelligence tests for identifying the feebleminded among immigrants arriving on Ellis Island.

Such studies allowed eugenics activists such as Charles Davenport and Madison Grant to successfully lobby the US Congress to introduce these immigration restrictions. Eugenics went into sharp decline soon after this 1924 legislative victory. A decade later, the Nazi regime used eugenics to justify racial laws to protect pure Aryan genetic stock.

In his history of scientific racism in America, The Legacy of Malthus, Allan Chase claims that these country quotas prevented an estimated 6-million southern, central and eastern Europeans from entering the US from 1924 to 1939. As Stephen Jay Gould concludes in The Mismeasure of Man: We know what happened to many who wanted to leave but had no place to go. The pathways to destruction are often indirect, but ideas can (be) agents as sure as guns and bombs.

Trumps presidential campaign seems to have borrowed from Lindberghs rhetoric of America First, which the latter deployed during his unsuccessful 1940 US presidential campaign. In an interview in the 1939 edition of Readers Digest, Lindbergh had referred to a metaphorical Western Wall to protect white Americans from the infiltration of foreign blood: It is time to turn from our quarrels and to build our White ramparts again. This alliance with foreign races means nothing but death to us. It is our turn to guard our heritage from Mongol and Persian and Moor, before we become engulfed in a limitless foreign sea. Our civilisation depends on a united strength among ourselves; on strength too great for foreign armies to challenge; on a Western Wall of race and arms which can hold back either a Genghis Khan or the infiltration of inferior blood; on an English fleet, a German air force, a French army, an American nation, standing together as guardians of our common heritage, sharing strength, dividing influence. As the by now very familiar refrain goes — history repeats itself, first as farce, then as tragedy. With Trump it is wall-to-wall tragicomedy.

It was the tragic history of the Holocaust that prompted Mark Hetfield, the chief executive of Jewish refugee programme HIAS, to recently observe that it is a deep and tragic irony that Donald Trump is slamming the door in the faces of refugees right before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This was especially disturbing since the entire refugee convention came out of the Holocaust and the failure of the international community to protect Jews and survivors. Trump antagonised Jews and Holocaust survivors further when he omitted to mention Jews in his public statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Both Holocaust amnesia and denial seemed to converge in Trumps enactment of the Muslim ban. Yet, some do insist on remembering.

In commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January this year, Russell Neiss, a 33-year-old grandson of Holocaust survivors, set up a Twitter account to automatically generate the names and photographs of German Jewish refugees who were on board the St Louis Manifest in May 1939, when the majority of passengers were refused entry into the US. The 937 passengers had left Hamburg on 13 May 1939. After being refused entry to the US, their ship was forced to return to Europe, where 532 passengers were later transported to various concentration camps where 254 were murdered; the 254 are the names that are tweeted at a rate of one every five minutes for 21 hours.

Neiss, who builds apps and interactive technology for Jewish education, came up with the idea as International Holocaust Remembrance Day was approaching. At the time, he was aware that there were other name-reading Twitter bots such as the Every Three Minutes account, which uses the fact that a person was sold into slavery every three minutes in the antebellum US. He was also aware of a bot that reads the names of the St. Louis victims based on data from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In addition to the reading of the names, Neiss included photographs in these tweets. One of the photographs in this stream of tweets is that of a small, smiling boy all dressed in white. This photograph has a standardised caption: My name is Joachim Hirsch. The US turned me away at the border. I was murdered in Auschwitz. One of the countless responses to these tweets was from the Democratic Partys Elizabeth Warren who declared that Trumps order restricting immigrants from seven Muslim countries and refusing admission of Syrian refugees was a betrayal of American values. Under Trump, immigration restrictions are not rooted in early twentieth century eugenics ideas about feebleminded foreigners, but rather through the conflation of Islam and terrorism. So, how did we get from Nazi eugenics to the Muslim ban?

My 2016 book, Letters of Stone: From Nazi Germany to South Africa, is a Holocaust family memoir that tells the story of how eugenics-influenced immigration policies resulted in Jews being unable to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. The book is based on one hundred letters my father received from his parents and siblings who were trapped in Berlin. The letters were sent from 1936, when my father arrived in South Africa, until 1943, when his parents and siblings were deported from Berlin to Auschwitz and Riga. My grandmothers letters to my father, Herbert Leopold Robinski and his younger brother Arthur, who had managed to escape to Northern Rhodesia in 1938, are mostly about the immense difficulties facing German Jews who desperately wanted to.

Although I wrote Letters of Stone in the shadow of the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, I never imagined the possibility of Trumps Mexican wall, the Muslim travel ban and the closing of US borders to Syrian refugees. Neither did I realise then that a US president would resuscitate Lindberghs 1940 America First campaign and inspire far right movements in Europe. While my book focuses on how the Nazi state used eugenics to justify its persecution and murder of Jews, Roma, Sinti, homosexuals, the disabled and other racially inferior groups, US immigration policy in the first half of twentieth century relied upon eugenics to justify shutting its doors to unwanted foreigners. Now Trump administration is using the imperatives of national security to justify its Muslim ban. So how did we get here?

Whereas most histories of Nazism tend to be confined to Europe, Letters of Stone draws attention to its transnational roots. Hannah Arendts concept of the boomerang effect shows how the seeds of Nazi racial hygiene, as well as later US immigration policies, were planted in the far-flung fertile soils of the colonies. In 1913, the German physical anthropologist and anatomist Eugen Fischer published his ethnographic study of racial mixing among the Rehoboth Basters in German South West Africa. Hitler praised the book after reading it in a Munich prison in 1923. The trajectory of Fischers professional career reveals how scientific findings incubated in the human laboratories of German South West Africa later rebounded back into the heartland of Europe. By the mid-1930s, Fischer had become one of the Nazis most senior racial scientists, and from 1929 to 1942 he was director of the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. It was here that Fischers Rehoboth study and his Berlin Institute became intimately entangled with Mengeles experiments in Auschwitz as well as Nazi racial classifications of Jews, Roma and Sinti.

Letters of Stone tells the story of the desperate attempts by my grandmother and my father to get the family out of Germany. It is also about the moral indifference of immigration law in the face of human catastrophe. We now witness Trumps travel bans that, in the name of national security, demonstrate a similar indifference to the human suffering of refugees from Syria and other countries engulfed in war and violence. Trumps Muslim ban re-enacts an especially dark period in Americas past when Lindbergh was the leader of the pro-Nazi America First Movement. In 2004, Philip Roth published The Plot Against America, an alternative history in which Franklin D Rooseveld is defeated by Lindbergh in the 1940 presidential elections. While Roths book is fictional, the rise to power of Trump has made it frighteningly prophetic. Roths novel implies that there has always been this dangerous undercurrent of chauvinistic patriotism and fascism embedded within conservative American politics.

German Jewish scholars such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who were exiled in the United States following the rise of Nazism, also identified this potential for fascism and authoritarianism in America. Whereas Trumps medium for his America First messaging is twitter, Adorno and Horkheimer were concerned about the fascist aesthetics of the US Culture Industry. In 1940, Lindbergh was the spokesperson for the America First movement; now, almost 80 years later, Trump and Bannon promise to Make America Great Again, resuscitating once more this dangerous American brand of populism. Bannons valorisation of apocalyptic war and destruction as the ideological furnace for forging a return to traditional white American values has eerie echoes with Nazism and other catastrophic forms of fascism. Just as economic depression in Germany paved the way for Hitler, so too has neoliberalism and growing economic inequality in the US created the conditions for Trumps rise to power. Trumps particular brand of Islamophobic populism may not look exactly like Nazism, but its logic certainly mirrors Lindberghs pro-Nazi America First movement and his calls for a Western Wall to keep foreigners out.

In recent weeks, political activists and media commentators have stressed parallels between the refusal to allow European Jews to enter the US in the 1930s and Trumps Muslim ban. In a YouTube video produced by UNICEF, an elderly German Jewish refugee and Holocaust survivor speaks about how, as a small boy, he became a stateless refugee fleeing from Nazi terror; sitting right next to him, a small boy describes his own terrifying flight from war in Syria.

As UNICEFs description of the video states: 80 years apart, these two refugees have more in common than youd think. Similarly, in an article published in the Independent on 27 January 2017, the journalist Peter Walker writes that many Holocaust survivors find that Donald Trump’s refugee ban is tragically similar to what happened in the 1930s. What has not been mentioned much is the history of eugenics-inspired immigration restrictions and how early twentieth century ideas about dangerous foreigners have re-entered American public consciousness. This is a reminder of how immigration policies continue to be shaped by histories of racism and scientific studies that were incubated in the human laboratories of the colonies. DM

Professor Steven Robins is with the Department of Sociology & Social Anthropology, University of Stellenbosch.

Photo: US President Donald J. Trump waves outside the entrance to the West Wing after seeing off Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured) following their meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 15 February 2017. This is the first official meeting of the two leaders since President Trump has taken office. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

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Trump, eugenics, and the historical precedent for his anti-Muslim travel ban – Daily Maverick

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AI’s Factions Get Feisty. But Really, They’re All on the Same Team – WIRED

Posted: at 12:17 am

Slide: 1 / of 1. Caption: Getty Images

Artificial intelligence is not one thing, but many, spanning several schools of thought. In his book The Master Algorithm, Pedro Domingos calls them the tribes of AI.

As the University of Washington computer scientist explains, each tribe fashions what would seem to be very different technology. Evolutionists, for example, believe they can build AI by recreating natural selection in the digital realm. Symbolists spend their time coding specific knowledge into machines, one rule at a time.

Right now, the connectionists get all the press. They nurtured the rise of deep neural networks, the pattern recognition systems reinventing the likes of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. But whatever the press says, the other tribes will play their own role in the rise of AI.

Take Ben Vigoda, the CEO and founder of Gamalon. Hesa Bayesian, part of the tribe that believes in creating AI through the scientific method. Rather than building neural networks that analyze data and reach conclusions on their own, he and his team useprobabilistic programming, a technique in which they start with their own hypotheses and then use data to refine them. His startup, backed by Darpa, emerged from stealth mode this morning.

Gamalons tech can translate from one language to another, and the company isdevelopingtools that businesses can use to extract meaning from raw streams of text. Vigoda claims his particular breed of probabilistic programming can produce AI that learns more quickly than neural networks, using much smaller amounts of data. You can be very careful about what you teach it, he says, and can edit what youve taught it.

As others point out, an approach along these lines is essential to the rise of machines capable of truly thinking like humans. Neural networks require enormous amounts of carefully labelled data, and this isnt always available. Vigoda even goes so far as to say that his techniques will replace neural networks completely, in all applications. That is very, very clear, he says.

But just as deep learning isnt the only way to artificial intelligence, neither is probabilistic programming. Or Gaussian processes. Or evolutionary computation. Or reinforcement learning.

Sometimes, the AI tribesbadmouth each other. Sometimes, they play up their technology at the expense of the others. But the reality is that AI will risefrom many technologies working together. Despite the competition, everyone is working toward the same goal.

Probabilistic programming lets researchers build machine learning algorithms more like coders build computer programs. But the real power of the technique lies inits ability to deal with uncertainty. This can allow AI to learn from less data, but it can also helpresearchers understand why an AI reaches particular decisionsand more easily tweak the AI if they dont agree with those decisions. True AI will need all that, whether it powers a chatbot trying to carry on a human-like conversation or an autonomous car trying to avoid an accident.

But neural networks have proven their worth with, among other things, image and speech recognition, and theyre not necessarily in competition with techniques like probabilistic programming. In fact, Google researchers are building systems that combine the two. Their strengths complement one another. Deep neural networks and probabilistic models are closely related, says David Blei, a Columbia University computer scientist and an advisor to Gamalon who has worked with Google research on these types of mixed models. Theres a lot of probabilistic modeling happening inside neural networks.

Inevitably, the best AI will combine several technologies. Take AlphaGo, the breakthrough system built by Googles DeepMind lab. It combined neural networks with reinforcement learning and other techniques. Blei, for one, doesnt see a world oftribes. It doesnt exist for me, he says. He sees a world in which everyone is reaching for the same master algorithm.

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Following the golden rule in times of tumult – College Heights Herald

Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:51 am

Loving others well has always been a struggle of mine. It probably has something to do with having a self-centered and selfish heart, but recently, I felt convicted in my heart about not loving others the way Jesus loves me.

As many of us know, politics and the general state of our world is all over the place. From the immigrant travel ban to new federal government appointees being sworn in, it is an interesting time to be alive.

I read my news feed on social media and find myself unfollowing people with outspoken opposing views to my own. I would peg my emotion as righteous anger, however, in the midst of me getting caught up in the world, am I taking time to pray and love these so-called friends or officials I disagree with?

As I was reading through the book of Matthew this past week, I read Matthew 7:14, So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them We have heard this verse before dubbed famously as the golden rule – Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Personally, I believe it is my right to be given immediate and full tolerance and respect for my opinion because this is America. However, when it comes to others opinions that stray far, far away from mine, I refuse to offer grace and love in my own heart.

Yet in John 14:34-35, Jesus says, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Jesus has set the standard of true love by dying on the cross for all of our sins, and now He basically says, Remember how I showed you love when I was beaten and killed for you so you could have eternal life? Yeah, I expect for you to show that intensity of love to others.

I dont know about you, but that is heavy.

But, Jesus says no more of that, leave all that junk at the foot of the cross, and fill your heart with My love to share with others. This is obviously still a lesson the Lord is walking me through.

This week, I urge all of us to practice sharing words and actions reflecting Jesus love despite the craziness whirring around us.

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Following the golden rule in times of tumult – College Heights Herald

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Why Liberty Advocates Should Focus on Spending Restraint over Tax Hikes – PanAm Post

Posted: at 11:50 am

The British pound coin (flickr)

By Daniel J. Mitchell

When I debate one of my leftist friends about deficits, its often a strange experience because none of us actually care that much about red ink.

Restraint v. Tax Increases

Im motivated instead by a desire to shrink the burden of government spending, so I argue forspending restraintrather than tax hikes that would feed the beast.

And folks on the left want bigger government, so they arguefor tax hikes toenable more spending and redistribution.

I feel that I have an advantage in these debates, though, because I sharemy tableof nations that have achieved great results when nominal spending grows by less than 2 percent per year.

The table shows that nations practicing spending restraint for multi-year periods reduce the problem of excessive government and also address thesymptom of red ink.

I then ask my leftist buddies to please share their table showing nations that got good results from tax increases. And the response is awkward silence, followed by attempts to change the subject. I often think you can even hear crickets chirping in the background.

I point this out because I now have another nation to add to my collection.

From the start of the last decade up through the 2009-2010 fiscal year, government spending in the United Kingdomgrew by 7.1 percent annually, far faster than the growth of the economys productive sector. As a result, an ever-greater share of the private economy was being diverted to politicians and bureaucrats.

Beginning with the 2010-2011 fiscal year, however, officials started complying with myGolden Ruleand outlays since then have grown by an average of 1.6 percent per year.

And as you can see fromthis chartprepared by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, this modest level of fiscal restraint has paid big dividends. The burden of government spending has significantly declined, falling from 45 percent of national income to 40 percent of national income.

This means more resources in private hands, which meansbetter economic performance.

But Thats Not Enough

Though allow me to now share some caveats. Fiscal policy is only a small piece of what determines good policy, just20 percent of a nations gradeaccording toEconomic Freedom of the World.

So spending restraint should be accompanied by free trade, sound money, a sensible regulatory structure, and good governance. Moreover, aswe see from the tragedy of Greece, spending restraint doesnt even lead to good fiscal policy if its accompanied by huge tax increases.

Fortunately, the United Kingdom is reasonably sensible, which explains whythe country is ranked #10byEFW. Though its worth noting that it gets its lowest score for size of government, so the recent bit of good news about spending restraint needs to be the start of a long journey.

P.S. The United Statesgot great resultsthanks to spending restraint between 2009-2014. It will be interesting to see whether Republicans get better results with Trump in the White House.

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

EspaolBolivia’s President Evo Morales has a new museum, and a new nickname to go with. The opposition has dubbed him “Ego” Morales following the US $7.1 million museum he built to glorify his life story and legacy. He led the inauguration of his museum, calledthe Museum of the Democratic and Cultural Revolution, in the remote village ofOrinoca, where he grew up. In anopinion column on Friday, February 10 published in Nuevo Herald,Andrs Oppenheimerdescribed Morales as an authoritarian populist. Read More: Mexican President Denies Approaching Trump to Renegotiate NAFTA Read More: Business Leaders to Trump: Canning NAFTA Could Kill 6 Million US Jobs The building was reportedly built with government funds, and features a life-size statue andseveral portraits of world leaders and Morales’ honorary degrees fromseveral universities. He also displayed t-shirts from his soccer collection and childhood memories, such as a trumpet. Minister of Culture Vilma Alanocasaid it is “the largest and most modern museum” in Bolivia, proclaiming with tears in her eyes that its opening marks an important date in history. “This museum is the heritage of those who fought for the liberation of our people,” she said. Orinoca is located in a remote area and has only 900 inhabitants, 90 percent of whom live in poverty, according to an Associated Press report on February 3rd. This is not the first time Morales has spent public funds on his own legacy.In 2015, the Ministry of Communications published a book containing poems written by Morales, titled”The Process of Change Turned Into Verse.” googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0’); }); This bookwas published shortly after a scandal surroundinga military anthem written by army officers praising Evo Morales, which many at first thought was the country’s new official song. In 2014, the government distributed part of another book, this time for children, titledThe Adventures of little Evo,aboutthe President’s childhood, and which included illustrations calledLittle Evo Plays Soccer and Little Evo Goes to School. Morales has also tried hard to changeBolivia’s constitution to remain in power, but he lost the referendum in February of last year. Source: El Nuevo Herlad

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Prairie Pop: NPR’s Codrescu breaks down Dadaism’s ongoing influence – Little Village

Posted: at 11:39 am

From Tristan Tzaras Vingt-Cinq Poemes. Etching by Hans Arp. From the collection of the International Dada Archive, Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries Andrei Codrescu: Documenting Dada/Disseminating Dada

Shambaugh Auditorium Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

Dada was a volatile artistic, social and political movement that exploded in 1916 from the Zrich club Cabaret Voltaire, creating reverberations that can still be felt today. Its fuse was lit by refugees from World War One who decamped to Switzerland, a neutral country that became a magnet for artists, bohemians and other radicals.

As poet and NPR contributor Andrei Codrescu observed, The Dadaists had the bad luck to live during a World War yet unmatched for stupidity (though he was quick to add, Not that there are any smart wars). We are living in a similar world, but it is still only 1913, he told me, drawing parallels between the dawning days of the Trump administration and the lead-up to WWIs bloodbath. So, in a scientifically more advanced time, we are in the same position the Dadaists were: The only answer to the insanity of our war-hungry leaders is a resolute NO.

The Dadaists were contrarians; they were artists who wanted to abolish art, and were serious about their jokes. We destroyed, we insulted, we despised and we laughed, reminisced early Dadaist Hans Richter in his book, Dada: Art and Anti-Art. We laughed at everything. We laughed at ourselves just as we laughed at Emperor, King and Country, fat bellies and baby-pacifiers Pandemonium, destruction, anarchy, anti-everything, why should we hold it in check? What of the pandemonium, destruction, anarchy, anti-everything, of the World War?

Dadaists said their NO by mocking all Western art and philosophy, echoed Codrescu. They saw that only the creation of new forms of art, thinking, living and creative resistance would demonstrate the absurdity of war. As the author of The Posthuman Dada Guide, he will speak in Shambaugh Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 as part of the University of Iowa Main Library Gallery exhibition, Documenting Dada/Disseminating Dada.

I discovered Dada in high school, in my birthplace, Romania, which was a communist country, Codrescu recalled. Coming to Dada through the poetry of Tristan Tzara, it opened the door for him, making it possible to use his imagination to survive Romanias police state. Im familiar with dictatorship and its silencing of dissent, Codrescu added. We are now on our way to authoritarian rule in the U.S.

The Posthuman Dada Guides subtitle Tzara and Lenin Play Chess serves as the books framing device: a hypothetical chess game that pitted Tzara against Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. Tzara played chess on the side of art, anarchy, freedom, the unexpected and the end of war. Lenin played for ideology, class war and an orderly police state. For a while in the 20th century it looked like Lenin won the war. In the 21st, it looks like Tzara did. We will see. The game still goes on.

Codrescu hopes Dada tactics can help win a game whose stakes have been raised by sadistic chess masters like Donald Trump. Spontaneous action is the only activity that the police dont understand. They understand ideologies like communism, fascism, etc., but they have trouble with poetry. First thought, best thought, Allen Ginsberg said. Organizations understand organizations, but no one expects spontaneous dance, song or a sudden seizure by a pagan god. Dada is a constructive destruction party that lets the future in.

When asked about his favorite historical moment in this constructive destruction party, Codrescu mused, The first night at Cabaret Voltaire must have been something: Poets invented simultaneous readings, there were dances invented on the spot, fantastic masks by Marcel Janco, Tristan Tzaras antics, Hugo Balls nonsense poems, several languages in performance. There was a drunken audience of heartbroken, wounded soldiers, deserters and spies. It was the start of modern art in the 20th century. One evening that changed everything.

Dadaists mocked and molested bourgeois society with prankish acts that attempted to dismantle the museums and turn the streets into galleries. The first shot fired from Dadas anti-art machine gun was Marcel Duchamps first ready-made, Bicycle Wheel, in 1913. According to Duchamp, a ready-made is just an everyday object that can be turned into art by someone audacious enough to call it that. As early as 1913, Duchamp deadpanned, I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool and watch it turn.

With Fountain, his most notorious ready-made, Duchamp bought a mass-produced urinal, signed the name R. Mutt on its white porcelain surface and then placed it in a gallery. On another occasion, he drew a mustache and goatee on a store-bought reproduction of Da Vincis Mona Lisa, naming it LHOOQ. When the letters in Duchamps title are read aloud in French Elle a chaud au cul its a pun on a phrase that translates colloquially as she is hot in the ass.

For a group that embraced irreverence and chaos, its no surprise that Dadaism quickly imploded by the early-1920s. But its anarchic legacy lives on and continues to serve as an antidote to todays post-truth era that is swimming in alternative facts. Reflecting on this, Codrescu said, The non-facts of people in power are dangerous lies. The disorder of distracters is not Dada: its brainwashing propaganda based on salesmanship and deliberate confusion. Dada undoes those with an overt sense of the absurd that puts the spotlight squarely on the contradictions of power.

Dada is flexible, he concludes, when the power lies, it reacts with an absurd but true transparent gesture. When power pretends to be of the people, Dada proclaims its aristocracy. Dada is a perpetual NO to whatever is being proposed by the manipulators in power.

Kembrew McLeod marches to the beat of his own Dada drummer. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 215.

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