Tag Archives: people

Ayn Rand Was Wrong about Human Nature – Evonomics

Posted: December 4, 2016 at 11:30 pm

By Eric Michael Johnson

Every political philosophy has to begin with a theory of human nature, wrote Harvard evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin in his book Biology as Ideology. Thomas Hobbes, for example, believed that humans in a state of nature, or what today we would call hunter-gatherer societies, lived a life that was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short in which there existed a war of all against all. This led him to conclude, as many apologists for dictatorship have since, that a stable society required a single leader in order to control the rapacious violence that was inherent to human nature. Building off of this, advocates of state communism, such as Vladimir Lenin or Josef Stalin, believed that each of us was born tabula rasa, with a blank slate, and that human nature could be molded in the interests of those in power.

Ever since Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand has been gaining prominence among American conservatives as the leading voice for the political philosophy of laissez-faire capitalism, or the idea that private business should be unconstrained and that governments only concern should be protecting individual property rights. As I wrote in Slate with my piece Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies, the Russian-born author believed that rational selfishness was the ultimate expression of human nature.

Collectivism, Rand wrote in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases. An objective understanding of mans nature and mans relationship to existence should inoculate society from the disease of altruistic morality and economic redistribution. Therefore, one must begin by identifying mans nature, i.e., those essential characteristics which distinguish him from all other living species.

As Rand further detailed in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, moral values are genetically dependent on the way living entities exist and function. Because each individual organism is primarily concerned with its own life, she therefore concludes that selfishness is the correct moral value of life. Its life is the standard of value directing its actions, Rand wrote, it acts automatically to further its life and cannot act for its own destruction. Because of this Rand insists altruism is a pernicious lie that is directly contrary to biological reality. Therefore, the only way to build a good society was to allow human nature, like capitalism, to remain unfettered by the meddling of a false ideology.

Altruism is incompatible with freedom, with capitalism and with individual rights, she continued. One cannot combine the pursuit of happiness with the moral status of a sacrificial animal. She concludes that this conflict between human nature and the irrational morality of altruism is a lethal tension that tears society apart. Her mission was to free humanity from this conflict. Like Marx, she believed that her correct interpretation of how society should be organized would be the ultimate expression of human freedom.

Ayn Rand was wrong about altruism. But how she arrived at this conclusion is revealing both because it shows her thought process and offers a warning to those who would construct their own political philosophy on the back of an assumed human nature. Ironically, given her strong opposition to monarchy and state communism, Rand based her interpretation of human nature on the same premises as these previous systems while adding a crude evolutionary argument in order to connect them.

Rand assumed, as Hobbes did, that without a centralized authority human life would erupt into a chaos of violence. Warfarepermanent warfareis the hallmark of tribal existence, she wrote in The Return of the Primitive. Tribes subsist on the edge of starvation, at the mercy of natural disasters, less successfully than herds of animals. This, she reasoned, is why altruism is so pervasive among indigenous societies; prehistoric groups needed the tribe for protection. She argued that altruism is perpetuated as an ideal among the poor in modern societies for the same reason.

It is only the inferior men that have collective instinctsbecause they need them, Rand wrote in a journal entry dated February 22, 1937. This kind of primitive altruism doesnt exist in superior men, Rand continued, because social instincts serve merely as the weapon and protection of the inferior. She later expands on this idea by stating, We may still be in evolution, as a species, and living side by side with some missing links.

Rands view that social instincts only exist among inferior men should not be dismissed as something she unthinkingly jotted down in a private journal. In two of her subsequent booksFor the New Intellectual and Philosophy: Who Needs It?, where it even serves as a chapter headingRand quips that scientists may find the missing link between humans and animals in those people who fail to utilize their rational selfishness to its full potential. How then does Rand explain the persistence of altruistic morality if human nature is ultimately selfish? By invoking the tabula rasa as an integral feature of human nature in which individuals can advance from inferior to superior upwards along the chain of life.

Man is born tabula rasa, Rand wrote in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, all his knowledge is based on and derived from the evidence of his senses. To reach the distinctively human level of cognition, man must conceptualize his perceptual data (by which she means using logical deductions). This was her solution to the problem of prosocial behavior and altruism among hunter-gatherer societies.

For instance, when discussing the social instinctdoes it matter whether it had existed in the early savages? Rand asks in her journal on May 9, 1934. Supposing men were born social (and even that is a question)does it mean that they have to remain so? If man started as a social animalisnt all progress and civilization directed toward making him an individual? Isnt that the only possible progress? If men are the highest of animals, isnt man the next step? Nearly a decade later, on September 6, 1943, she wrote, The process here, in effect, is this: man is raw material when he is born; nature tells him: Go ahead, create yourself. You can become the lord of existenceif you wishby understanding your own nature and by acting upon it. Or you can destroy yourself. The choice is yours.

While Rand states in Philosophy: Who Needs It? that I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent, she immediately goes on to make claims about how evolution functions. After aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies (italics mine). Rand further expands on her (incorrect) views about evolution in her journal:

It is precisely by observing nature that we discover that a living organism endowed with an attribute higher and more complex than the attributes possessed by the organisms below him in natures scale shares many functions with these lower organisms. But these functions are modified by his higher attribute and adapted to its functionnot the other way around. Journals of Ayn Rand, July 30, 1945.

One would have to go back to the 18th century (and Aristotle before that) to find a similar interpretation of nature. This concept of the great chain of being, brilliantly discussed by the historian Arthur Lovejoy, was the belief that a strict hierarchy exists in the natural world and species advance up natures scale as they get closer to God. This is an odd philosophy of nature for an avowed atheist, to say the least, and reflects Rands profound misunderstanding of the natural world.

To summarize, then, Rand believed in progressive evolutionary change up the ladder of nature from primitive to advanced. At the higher stages of this process (meaning humans) evolution changed course so that members of our species were born with a blank slate, though she provides no evidence to support this. Human beings therefore have no innate social instinctselsewhere she refers to it as a herd-instinctthat is, except for primordial savages and inferior men who could be considered missing links in the scale of nature. Never mind that these two groups are still technically human in her view. Selfishness is the ideal moral value because superior men are, by definition, higher up the scale of being.

Logic was essential to Ayn Rands political philosophy. A contradiction cannot exist, she has John Galt state in Atlas Shrugged. To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in ones thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate ones mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality. I couldnt agree more. However, Rand may have had more personal reasons for her philosophy that can help explain her tortured logic. As she was first developing her political philosophy she mused in her journal about how she arrived at her conclusion that selfishness was a natural moral virtue.

It may be considered strange, and denying my own supremacy of reason, that I start with a set of ideas, then want to study in order to support them, and not vice versa, i.e., not study and derive my ideas from that. But these ideas, to a great extent, are the result of a subconscious instinct, which is a form of unrealized reason. All instincts are reason, essentially, or reason is instincts made conscious. The unreasonable instincts are diseased ones. Journals of Ayn Rand, May 15, 1934.

This can indeed be considered strange. Looking deep within yourself and concluding that your feelings are natural instincts that apply for the entire species isnt exactly what you would call objective. It is, in fact, the exact opposite of how science operates. However, she continues and illuminates her personal motivations for her ideas.

Some day Ill find out whether Im an unusual specimen of humanity in that my instincts and reason are so inseparably one, with the reason ruling the instincts. Am I unusual or merely normal and healthy? Am I trying to impose my own peculiarities as a philosophical system? Am I unusually intelligent or merely unusually honest? I think this last. Unlesshonesty is also a form of superior intelligence.

Through a close reading of her fictional characters, and other entries in her journal, it appears that Rand had an intuitive sense that selfishness was natural because thats how she saw the world. As John Galt said in his final climactic speech, Since childhood, you have been hiding the guilty secret that you feel no desire to bemoral, no desire to seek self-immolation, that you dread and hate your code, but dare not say it even to yourself, that youre devoid of those moral instincts which others profess to feel.

In Rands notes for an earlier, unpublished story she expresses nearly identical sentiments for the main character. He [Danny Renahan] is born with, she writes, the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling.

He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning or importance of other people. (One instance when it is blessed not to have an organ of understanding.) Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should. He knows himselfand that is enough. Other people have no right, no hold, no interest or influence on him. And this is not affected or chosenits inborn, absolute, it cant be changed, he has no organ to be otherwise. In this respect, he has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel other people. (Thats what I meant by thoughts as feelings, as part of your nature.) (It is wisdom to be dumb about certain things.)

I believe a strong case could be made that Ayn Rand was projecting her own sense of reality into the minds of her fictional protagonists. Does this mean that Rand was a sociopath? Diagnosing people in the past with modern understandings of science has many limitations (testing your hypothesis being chief among them). However, I think its clear that Ayn Rand did not have a strongly developed sense of empathy but did have a very high opinion of herself. When seen through this perspective, Rands philosophy of Objectivism and her belief in the virtue of selfishness look very different from how she presented it in her work. When someones theory of human nature is based on a sample size of 1 it raises doubts about just how objective they really were.

Update: A point that has been brought up repeatedly is that Ayn Rand used a different definition of altruism than what is standard in biology and so therefore what I wrote is invalid. This is incorrect. To clear up any confusion, Ayn Rand relied on Auguste Comtes definition from his Catchisme Positiviste (1852) where he advocates laltruisme sur lgosme (altruism over egoism) because, he writes, vivre pour autrui fournit le seul moyen de dvelopper librement toute lexistence humaine (to live for others provides the only means to develop freely throughout human existence). The biological definition of altruism is not only consistent with Comte, it subsumes his definition and makes it testable and, one would think, more objective.

2015 September 21

Evonomics is free, its a labor of love, and it’s an expense. We spend hundreds of hours and lots of dollars each month creating, curating, and promoting content that drives the next evolution of economics. If you’re like us if you think theres a key leverage point here for making the world a better place please consider donating. Well use your donation to deliver even more game-changing content, and to spread the word about that content to influential thinkers far and wide.

MONTHLY DONATION $3 / month $7 / month $10 / month $25 / month

Ayn Rand vs. Anthropology

Do Outside Enemies Make Us Nicer to our Neighbors?

How Do the Economic Elites Get the Idea That They Deserve More?

Biology Proves Ayn Rand Wrong About Altruism and Laissez-Faire Economics

We welcome you to take part in the next evolution of economics. Sign up now to be kept in the loop!

.

Go here to read the rest:

Ayn Rand Was Wrong about Human Nature – Evonomics

Posted in Ayn Rand | Comments Off on Ayn Rand Was Wrong about Human Nature – Evonomics

Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Posted: at 11:25 pm

Three weeks ago, around a quarter of the American population elected a demagogue with no prior experience in public service to the presidency. In the eyes of many of his supporters, this lack of preparation was not a liability, but a strength. Donald Trump had run as a candidate whose primary qualification was that he was not a politician. Depicting yourself as a maverick or an outsider crusading against a corrupt Washington establishment is the oldest trick in American politics but Trump took things further. He broke countless unspoken rules regarding what public figures can or cannot do and say.

Every demagogue needs an enemy. Trumps was the ruling elite, and his charge was that they were not only failing to solve the greatest problems facing Americans, they were trying to stop anyone from even talking about those problems. The special interests, the arrogant media, and the political insiders, dont want me to talk about the crime that is happening in our country, Trump said in one late September speech. They want me to just go along with the same failed policies that have caused so much needless suffering.

Trump claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness. They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else, Trump declared after a Muslim gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I refuse to be politically correct. What liberals might have seen as language changing to reflect an increasingly diverse society in which citizens attempt to avoid giving needless offence to one another Trump saw a conspiracy.

Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism. During the first debate of the Republican primaries, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would answer the charge that he was part of the war on women.

Youve called women you dont like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals, Kelly pointed out. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees

I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct, Trump answered, to audience applause. Ive been challenged by so many people, I dont frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesnt have time either.

Trump used the same defence when critics raised questions about his statements on immigration. In June 2015, after Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, NBC, the network that aired his reality show The Apprentice, announced that it was ending its relationship with him. Trumps team retorted that, NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct.

In August 2016, after saying that the US district judge Gonzalo Curiel of San Diego was unfit to preside over the lawsuit against Trump Universities because he was Mexican American and therefore likely to be biased against him, Trump told CBS News that this was common sense. He continued: We have to stop being so politically correct in this country. During the second presidential debate, Trump answered a question about his proposed ban on Muslims by stating: We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.

Trump and his followers never defined ‘political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to

Every time Trump said something outrageous commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasnt afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct.

Trump and his followers never defined political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to. The phrase conjured powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language.

There is an obvious contradiction involved in complaining at length, to an audience of hundreds of millions of people, that you are being silenced. But this idea that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use is trending globally right now. Britains rightwing tabloids issue frequent denunciations of political correctness gone mad and rail against the smug hypocrisy of the metropolitan elite. In Germany, conservative journalists and politicians are making similar complaints: after the assaults on women in Cologne last New Years Eve, for instance, the chief of police Rainer Wendt said that leftists pressuring officers to be politisch korrekt had prevented them from doing their jobs. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National has condemned more traditional conservatives as paralysed by their fear of confronting political correctness.

Trumps incessant repetition of the phrase has led many writers since the election to argue that the secret to his victory was a backlash against excessive political correctness. Some have argued that Hillary Clinton failed because she was too invested in that close relative of political correctness, identity politics. But upon closer examination, political correctness becomes an impossibly slippery concept. The term is what Ancient Greek rhetoricians would have called an exonym: a term for another group, which signals that the speaker does not belong to it. Nobody ever describes themselves as politically correct. The phrase is only ever an accusation.

If you say that something is technically correct, you are suggesting that it is wrong the adverb before correct implies a but. However, to say that a statement is politically correct hints at something more insidious. Namely, that the speaker is acting in bad faith. He or she has ulterior motives, and is hiding the truth in order to advance an agenda or to signal moral superiority. To say that someone is being politically correct discredits them twice. First, they are wrong. Second, and more damningly, they know it.

If you go looking for the origins of the phrase, it becomes clear that there is no neat history of political correctness. There have only been campaigns against something called political correctness. For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right. Opposition to political correctness has proved itself a highly effective form of crypto-politics. It transforms the political landscape by acting as if it is not political at all. Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet.

Most Americans had never heard the phrase politically correct before 1990, when a wave of stories began to appear in newspapers and magazines. One of the first and most influential was published in October 1990 by the New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein, who warned under the headline The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct that the countrys universities were threatened by a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform.

Bernstein had recently returned from Berkeley, where he had been reporting on student activism. He wrote that there was an unofficial ideology of the university, according to which a cluster of opinions about race, ecology, feminism, culture and foreign policy defines a kind of correct attitude toward the problems of the world. For instance, Biodegradable garbage bags get the PC seal of approval. Exxon does not.

Bernsteins alarming dispatch in Americas paper of record set off a chain reaction, as one mainstream publication after another rushed to denounce this new trend. The following month, the Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz decried the brave new world of ideological zealotry at American universities. In December, the cover of Newsweek with a circulation of more than 3 million featured the headline THOUGHT POLICE and yet another ominous warning: Theres a politically correct way to talk about race, sex and ideas. Is this the New Enlightenment or the New McCarthyism? A similar story graced the cover of New York magazine in January 1991 inside, the magazine proclaimed that The New Fascists were taking over universities. In April, Time magazine reported on a new intolerance that was on the rise across campuses nationwide.

If you search ProQuest, a digital database of US magazines and newspapers, you find that the phrase politically correct rarely appeared before 1990. That year, it turned up more than 700 times. In 1991, there are more than 2,500 instances. In 1992, it appeared more than 2,800 times. Like Indiana Jones movies, these pieces called up enemies from a melange of old wars: they compared the thought police spreading terror on university campuses to fascists, Stalinists, McCarthyites, Hitler Youth, Christian fundamentalists, Maoists and Marxists.

Many of these articles recycled the same stories of campus controversies from a handful of elite universities, often exaggerated or stripped of context. The New York magazine cover story opened with an account of a Harvard history professor, Stephan Thernstrom, being attacked by overzealous students who felt he had been racially insensitive: Whenever he walked through the campus that spring, down Harvards brick paths, under the arched gates, past the fluttering elms, he found it hard not to imagine the pointing fingers, the whispers. Racist. There goes the racist. It was hellish, this persecution.

In an interview that appeared soon afterwards in The Nation, Thernstrom said the harassment described in the New York article had never happened. There had been one editorial in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper criticising his decision to read extensively from the diaries of plantation owners in his lectures. But the description of his harried state was pure artistic licence. No matter: the image of college students conducting witch hunts stuck. When Richard Bernstein published a book based on his New York Times reporting on political correctness, he called it Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for Americas Future a title alluding to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In the book he compared American college campuses to France during the Reign of Terror, during which tens of thousands of people were executed within months.

None of the stories that introduced the menace of political correctness could pinpoint where or when it had begun. Nor were they very precise when they explained the origins of the phrase itself. Journalists frequently mentioned the Soviets Bernstein observed that the phrase smacks of Stalinist orthodoxy but there is no exact equivalent in Russian. (The closest would be ideinost, which translates as ideological correctness. But that word has nothing to do with disadvantaged people or minorities.) The intellectual historian LD Burnett has found scattered examples of doctrines or people being described as politically correct in American communist publications from the 1930s usually, she says, in a tone of mockery.

The phrase came into more widespread use in American leftist circles in the 1960s and 1970s most likely as an ironic borrowing from Mao, who delivered a famous speech in 1957 that was translated into English with the title On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.

Until the late 1980s, ‘political correctness’ was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically

Ruth Perry, a literature professor at MIT who was active in the feminist and civil rights movements, says that many radicals were reading the Little Red Book in the late 1960s and 1970s, and surmises that her friends may have picked up the adjective correct there. But they didnt use it in the way Mao did. Politically correct became a kind of in-joke among American leftists something you called a fellow leftist when you thought he or she was being self-righteous. The term was always used ironically, Perry says, always calling attention to possible dogmatism.

In 1970, the African-American author and activist Toni Cade Bambara, used the phrase in an essay about strains on gender relations within her community. No matter how politically correct her male friends thought they were being, she wrote many of them were failing to recognise the plight of black women.

Until the late 1980s, political correctness was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically as a critique of excessive orthodoxy. In fact, some of the first people to organise against political correctness were a group of feminists who called themselves the Lesbian Sex Mafia. In 1982, they held a Speakout on Politically Incorrect Sex at a theatre in New Yorks East Village a rally against fellow feminists who had condemned pornography and BDSM. Over 400 women attended, many of them wearing leather and collars, brandishing nipple clamps and dildos. The writer and activist Mirtha Quintanales summed up the mood when she told the audience, We need to have dialogues about S&M issues, not about what is politically correct, politically incorrect.

By the end of the 1980s, Jeff Chang, the journalist and hip-hop critic, who has written extensively on race and social justice, recalls that the activists he knew then in the Bay Area used the phrase in a jokey way a way for one sectarian to dismiss another sectarians line.

But soon enough, the term was rebranded by the right, who turned its meaning inside out. All of a sudden, instead of being a phrase that leftists used to check dogmatic tendencies within their movement, political correctness became a talking point for neoconservatives. They said that PC constituted a leftwing political programme that was seizing control of American universities and cultural institutions and they were determined to stop it.

The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and training institutes offering programmes in everything from leadership to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising. They had endowed fellowships for conservative graduate students, postdoctoral positions and professorships at prestigious universities. Their stated goal was to challenge what they saw as the dominance of liberalism and attack left-leaning tendencies within the academy.

Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education. The first, by the University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom, came out in 1987. For hundreds of pages, The Closing of the American Mind argued that colleges were embracing a shallow cultural relativism and abandoning long-established disciplines and standards in an attempt to appear liberal and to pander to their students. It sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired numerous imitations.

In April 1990, Roger Kimball, an editor at the conservative journal, The New Criterion, published Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted our Higher Education. Like Bloom, Kimball argued that an assault on the canon was taking place and that a politics of victimhood had paralysed universities. As evidence, he cited the existence of departments such as African American studies and womens studies. He scornfully quoted the titles of papers he had heard at academic conferences, such as Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl or The Lesbian Phallus: Does Heterosexuality Exist?

In June 1991, the young Dinesh DSouza followed Bloom and Kimball with Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Whereas Bloom had bemoaned the rise of relativism and Kimball had attacked what he called liberal fascism, and what he considered frivolous lines of scholarly inquiry, DSouza argued that admissions policies that took race into consideration were producing a new segregation on campus and an attack on academic standards. The Atlantic printed a 12,000 word excerpt as its June cover story. To coincide with the release, Forbes ran another article by DSouza with the title: Visigoths in Tweed.

These books did not emphasise the phrase political correctness, and only DSouza used the phrase directly. But all three came to be regularly cited in the flood of anti-PC articles that appeared in venues such as the New York Times and Newsweek. When they did, the authors were cited as neutral authorities. Countless articles uncritically repeated their arguments.

In some respects, these books and articles were responding to genuine changes taking place within academia. It is true that scholars had become increasingly sceptical about whether it was possible to talk about timeless, universal truths that lay beyond language and representation. European theorists who became influential in US humanities departments during the 1970s and 1980s argued that individual experience was shaped by systems of which the individual might not be aware and particularly by language. Michel Foucault, for instance, argued that all knowledge expressed historically specific forms of power. Jacques Derrida, a frequent target of conservative critics, practised what he called deconstruction, rereading the classics of philosophy in order to show that even the most seemingly innocent and straightforward categories were riven with internal contradictions. The value of ideals such as humanity or liberty could not be taken for granted.

It was also true that many universities were creating new studies departments, which interrogated the experiences, and emphasised the cultural contributions of groups that had previously been excluded from the academy and from the canon: queer people, people of colour and women. This was not so strange. These departments reflected new social realities. The demographics of college students were changing, because the demographics of the United States were changing. By 1990, only two-thirds of Americans under 18 were white. In California, the freshman classes at many public universities were majority minority, or more than 50% non-white. Changes to undergraduate curriculums reflected changes in the student population.

The responses that the conservative bestsellers offered to the changes they described were disproportionate and often misleading. For instance, Bloom complained at length about the militancy of African American students at Cornell University, where he had taught in the 1960s. He never mentioned what students demanding the creation of African American studies were responding to: the biggest protest at Cornell took place in 1969 after a cross burning on campus, an open KKK threat. (An arsonist burned down the Africana Studies Center, founded in response to these protests, in 1970.)

More than any particular obfuscation or omission, the most misleading aspect of these books was the way they claimed that only their adversaries were political. Bloom, Kimball, and DSouza claimed that they wanted to preserve the humanistic tradition, as if their academic foes were vandalising a canon that had been enshrined since time immemorial. But canons and curriculums have always been in flux; even in white Anglo-America there has never been any one stable tradition. Moby Dick was dismissed as Herman Melvilles worst book until the mid-1920s. Many universities had only begun offering literature courses in living languages a decade or so before that.

In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents. As Jane Mayer documents in her book, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Bloom and DSouza were funded by networks of conservative donors particularly the Koch, Olin and Scaife families who had spent the 1980s building programmes that they hoped would create a new counter-intelligentsia. (The New Criterion, where Kimball worked, was also funded by the Olin and Scaife Foundations.) In his 1978 book A Time for Truth, William Simon, the president of the Olin Foundation, had called on conservatives to fund intellectuals who shared their views: They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.

These skirmishes over syllabuses were part of a broader political programme and they became instrumental to forging a new alliance for conservative politics in America, between white working-class voters and small business owners, and politicians with corporate agendas that held very little benefit for those people.

By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (The Lesbian Phallus), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. By mocking courses on writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, they made a racial appeal to white people who felt as if they were losing their country. As the 1990s wore on, because multiculturalism was associated with globalisation the force that was taking away so many jobs traditionally held by white working-class people attacking it allowed conservatives to displace responsibility for the hardship that many of their constituents were facing. It was not the slashing of social services, lowered taxes, union busting or outsourcing that was the cause of their problems. It was those foreign others.

PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. Political correctness became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the ordinary people and the liberal elite, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.

Soon, Republican politicians were echoing on the national stage the message that had been product-tested in the academy. In May 1991, President George HW Bush gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan. In it, he identified political correctness as a major danger to America. Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States, Bush said. The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land, but, he warned, In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behaviour crush diversity in the name of diversity.

After 2001, debates about political correctness faded from public view, replaced by arguments about Islam and terrorism. But in the final years of the Obama presidency, political correctness made a comeback. Or rather, anti-political-correctness did.

As Black Lives Matter and movements against sexual violence gained strength, a spate of thinkpieces attacked the participants in these movements, criticising and trivialising them by saying that they were obsessed with policing speech. Once again, the conversation initially focused on universities, but the buzzwords were new. Rather than difference and multiculturalism, Americans in 2012 and 2013 started hearing about trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, privilege and cultural appropriation.

This time, students received more scorn than professors. If the first round of anti-political-correctness evoked the spectres of totalitarian regimes, the more recent revival has appealed to the commonplace that millennials are spoiled narcissists, who want to prevent anyone expressing opinions that they happen to find offensive.

In January 2015, the writer Jonathan Chait published one of the first new, high-profile anti-PC thinkpieces in New York magazine. Not a Very PC Thing to Say followed the blueprint provided by the anti-PC thinkpieces that the New York Times, Newsweek, and indeed New York magazine had published in the early 1990s. Like the New York article from 1991, it began with an anecdote set on campus that supposedly demonstrated that political correctness had run amok, and then extrapolated from this incident to a broad generalisation. In 1991, John Taylor wrote: The new fundamentalism has concocted a rationale for dismissing all dissent. In 2015, Jonathan Chait claimed that there were once again angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas.

Chait warned that the dangers of PC had become greater than ever before. Political correctness was no longer confined to universities now, he argued, it had taken over social media and thus attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old. (As evidence of the hegemonic influence enjoyed by unnamed actors on the left, Chait cited two female journalists saying that they had been criticised by leftists on Twitter.)

Chaits article launched a spate of replies about campus and social media cry bullies. On the cover of their September 2015 issue, the Atlantic published an article by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. The title, The Coddling Of the American Mind, nodded to the godfather of anti-PC, Allan Bloom. (Lukianoff is the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, another organisation funded by the Olin and Scaife families.) In the name of emotional wellbeing, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they dont like, the article announced. It was shared over 500,000 times.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness stories to spread

These pieces committed many of the same fallacies that their predecessors from the 1990s had. They cherry-picked anecdotes and caricatured the subjects of their criticism. They complained that other people were creating and enforcing speech codes, while at the same time attempting to enforce their own speech codes. Their writers designated themselves the arbiters of what conversations or political demands deserved to be taken seriously, and which did not. They contradicted themselves in the same way: their authors continually complained, in highly visible publications, that they were being silenced.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness (and anti-anti-political correctness) stories to spread even further and faster than they had in the 1990s. Anti-PC and anti-anti-PC stories come cheap: because they concern identity, they are something that any writer can have a take on, based on his or her experiences, whether or not he or she has the time or resources to report. They are also perfect clickbait. They inspire outrage, or outrage at the outrage of others.

Meanwhile, a strange convergence was taking place. While Chait and his fellow liberals decried political correctness, Donald Trump and his followers were doing the same thing. Chait said that leftists were perverting liberalism and appointed himself the defender of a liberal centre; Trump said that liberal media had the system rigged.

The anti-PC liberals were so focused on leftists on Twitter that for months they gravely underestimated the seriousness of the real threat to liberal discourse. It was not coming from women, people of colour, or queer people organising for their civil rights, on campus or elsewhere. It was coming from @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart.

The original critics of PC were academics or shadow-academics, Ivy League graduates who went around in bow ties quoting Plato and Matthew Arnold. It is hard to imagine Trump quoting Plato or Matthew Arnold, much less carping about the titles of conference papers by literature academics. During his campaign, the network of donors who funded decades of anti-PC activity the Kochs, the Olins, the Scaifes shunned Trump, citing concerns about the populist promises he was making. Trump came from a different milieu: not Yale or the University of Chicago, but reality television. And he was picking different fights, targeting the media and political establishment, rather than academia.

As a candidate, Trump inaugurated a new phase of anti-political-correctness. What was remarkable was just how many different ways Trump deployed this tactic to his advantage, both exploiting the tried-and-tested methods of the early 1990s and adding his own innovations.

First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero. The notion that Trump was both persecuted and heroic was crucial to his emotional appeal. It allowed people who were struggling economically or angry about the way society was changing to see themselves in him, battling against a rigged system that made them feel powerless and devalued. At the same time, Trumps swagger promised that they were strong and entitled to glory. They were great and would be great again.

Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited. The first wave of conservative critics of political correctness claimed they were defending the status quo, but Trumps mission was to destroy it. In 1991, when George HW Bush warned that political correctness was a threat to free speech, he did not choose to exercise his free speech rights by publicly mocking a man with a disability or characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists. Trump did. Having elevated the powers of PC to mythic status, the draft-dodging billionaire, son of a slumlord, taunted the parents of a fallen soldier and claimed that his cruelty and malice was, in fact, courage.

This willingness to be more outrageous than any previous candidate ensured non-stop media coverage, which in turn helped Trump attract supporters who agreed with what he was saying. We should not underestimate how many Trump supporters held views that were sexist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and were thrilled to feel that he had given them permission to say so. Its an old trick: the powerful encourage the less powerful to vent their rage against those who might have been their allies, and to delude themselves into thinking that they have been liberated. It costs the powerful nothing; it pays frightful dividends.

Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. He made numerous controversial policy proposals: deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the US, introducing stop-and-frisk policies that have been ruled unconstitutional. But by responding to critics with the accusation that they were simply being politically correct, Trump attempted to place these proposals beyond the realm of politics altogether. Something political is something that reasonable people might disagree about. By using the adjective as a put-down, Trump pretended that he was acting on truths so obvious that they lay beyond dispute. Thats just common sense.

The most alarming part of this approach is what it implies about Trumps attitude to politics more broadly. His contempt for political correctness looks a lot like contempt for politics itself. He does not talk about diplomacy; he talks about deals. Debate and disagreement are central to politics, yet Trump has made clear that he has no time for these distractions. To play the anti-political-correctness card in response to a legitimate question about policy is to shut down discussion in much the same way that opponents of political correctness have long accused liberals and leftists of doing. It is a way of sidestepping debate by declaring that the topic is so trivial or so contrary to common sense that it is pointless to discuss it. The impulse is authoritarian. And by presenting himself as the champion of common sense, Trump gives himself permission to bypass politics altogether.

Now that he is president-elect, it is unclear whether Trump meant many of the things he said during his campaign. But, so far, he is fulfilling his pledge to fight political correctness. Last week, he told the New York Times that he was trying to build an administration filled with the best people, though Not necessarily people that will be the most politically correct people, because that hasnt been working.

Trump has also continued to cry PC in response to criticism. When an interviewer from Politico asked a Trump transition team member why Trump was appointing so many lobbyists and political insiders, despite having pledged to drain the swamp of them, the source said that one of the most refreshing parts of the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. Apparently it would have been politically correct to hold him to his campaign promises.

As Trump prepares to enter the White House, many pundits have concluded that political correctness fuelled the populist backlash sweeping Europe and the US. The leaders of that backlash may say so. But the truth is the opposite: those leaders understood the power that anti-political-correctness has to rally a class of voters, largely white, who are disaffected with the status quo and resentful of shifting cultural and social norms. They were not reacting to the tyranny of political correctness, nor were they returning America to a previous phase of its history. They were not taking anything back. They were wielding anti-political-correctness as a weapon, using it to forge a new political landscape and a frightening future.

The opponents of political correctness always said they were crusaders against authoritarianism. In fact, anti-PC has paved the way for the populist authoritarianism now spreading everywhere. Trump is anti-political correctness gone mad.

Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.

Visit link:

Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Posted in Political Correctness | Comments Off on Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Historical Nihilism | CounterOrder.com

Posted: at 11:23 pm

Although nihilism is often thought of as a vague concept relegated to the arena of philosophy, or perhaps as the unavoidable conclusion to post-modernist thought, nihilism does have a strong historical background that deserves greater recognition. The most significant manifestation of nihilism in recent history also coincides with its most active and organized expression, that of the Russian nihilist revolutionaries who rose to prominence in the 1860s.

The Russian nihilists (the Russian word for nihilist is nigilist) tend to be associated with violence, revolution, and terrorist acts such as the assassination of Czar Alexander II by the Will of the People group. But although violent acts get recorded in the history books often the lasting impact is carried through non-violent ideas and identities. The Russian Nihilists were intriguing in this regard for their history is like that of an iceberg only a small portion of their total character is readily visible. Indeed, much of the violent acts associated with the attempted overthrow of the monarchy occurred under the auspices of other groups such as anarchists, Marxists and narodnichestvo populists in the 1870s, rather than those directly associated with the Nihilists themselves who were much more complex than the over-simplified terrorist label attached to them by autocratic authorities.

Nihilism was not so much a corpus of formal beliefs and programs (like populism, liberalism, Marxism) as it was a cluster of attitudes and social values and a set of behavioral affectsmanners, dress, friendship patterns. In short, it was an ethos. [2]

Historical Context

In order to understand who the Russian Nihilists were we first have to understand what they fought against and why. Europe in the 19th century was a time of dramatic changes — political, economic, and social. Industrialization created fantastic wealth disparities and entirely new classes of people as the old aristocratic power system transformed into a plutocratic one. Cities grew rapidly and traditional agrarian lifestyles were decimated in favor of the cramped urban life of wage slavery. Imperial Russia experienced many of these difficult changes but events often took on a more extreme character than that of Western Europe and social development for Russia has always been both painful and slow.

All of the wiser Russian monarchs realized that their system of serfdom, with a social structure of the very few existing on the backs of the very many, was not sustainable and would end in bloody rebellion sooner or later. The problem was implementing reforms that were both effective and politically realistic. By the middle of the 19th century the forces of state repression coupled with the longevity of the problem had already created such an intolerable situation that fixing the system through reform was essentially impossible. The only reasonable answer to this kind of situation is nihilism; the only way to live is to destroy. Russia had become a stifling, backwards country run by a ruling elite grown fabulously wealthy through rampant natural resource extraction. The Russian government had become completely disconnected from its subjects and new information and new ideas were impossible to prevent from seeping into the country from the heated and bubbling social scene in Western Europe. Even a brutal and violent police-state could not stop the Nihilists, other dedicated revolutionaries, or the inevitable outcome of the conflict.

Jewel encrusted Faberg eggs were an emblematic expression of late 19th century Imperial Russian wealth and a grossly distorted society where the monarchy could commission dozens of these eggs while the general public worked and starved to death.

The heart of Russian Nihilism was about breaking with the failures of the past and about crafting a new identity. This was the meaning of the Fathers and Sons phrase used at the time and remembered today in Turgenevs novel of the same name.

Whereas the “fathers” grew up on German idealistic philosophy and romanticism in general, with its emphasis on the metaphysical, religious, aesthetic, and historical approaches to reality, the “sons,” led by such young radicals as Nicholas Chernyshevsky, Nicholas Dobroliubov, and Dmitrii Pisarev, hoisted the banner of utilitarianism, positivism, materialism, and especially “realism.” “Nihilism” and also in large part “realism,” particularly “critical realism” meant above all else a fundamental rebellion against accepted values and standards: against abstract thought and family control, against lyric poetry and school discipline, against religion and rhetoric. The earnest young men and women of the 1860’s wanted to cut through every polite veneer, to get rid of all conventional sham, to get to the bottom of things. What they usually considered real and worthwhile included the natural and physical sciences for that was the age when science came to be greatly admired in the Western world simple and sincere human relations, and a society based on knowledge and reason rather than ignorance, prejudice, exploitation, and oppression. [1]

This was about the destruction of idols, about burning the dead wood of society. And the Russian Nihilists were quite revolutionary, especially given the context of the time and location they existed in, for they include sections of the population that had little if any representation before. Women for example played a key role and included some of the most motivated and charismatic characters of the time period, like Vera Figner and Sophia Perovskaia. If the feminists wanted to change pieces of the world, the nihilists wanted to change the world itself, though not necessarily through political action. [3] The Russian word for a female nihilist is nigilistka.

Its important to point out that the nihilist ethos of the time was primarily individualistic and not always politically revolutionary; some radical nihilist attitudes precluded ideological or political orientation. While nihilism emancipated the young Russian radicals from any allegiance to the established order, it was, to repeat a point, individual rather than social by its very nature and lacked a positive program both Pisarev and Turgenev’s hero Bazarov died young. [7] Clothing, attitude, communications style, all were portions of the new nihilist outlook. The clothing style sought functionality and usefulness over frivolous fashion. The revolt in the dress of the nigilistka went something like this:

One of the most interesting and widely remarked features of the nigilistka was her personal appearance. Discarding the “muslin, ribbons, feathers, parasols, and flowers” of the Russian lady, the archetypical girl of the nihilist persuasion in the 1860’s wore a plain dark woolen dress, which fell straight and loose from the waist with white cuffs and collar as the only embellishments. The hair was cut short and worn straight, and the wearer frequently assumed dark glasses. [4]

Nigilistka fashion was about more than just juvenile rebellion against bourgeoisie fashion because instead of simply contradicting established forms it went on to create its own identity. Self-empowerment was the reason behind much of this. The machinery of sexual attraction through outward appearance that led into slavery was discarded by the new woman whose nihilist creed taught her that she must make her way with knowledge and action rather than feminine wiles. [4] Even deeper than changes in superficial appearance existed a new and quite profound realization, for the nigilistka understood that life had to be defined internally and not solely by external authorities or values. “To establish her identity, she needed a cause or a “path,” rather than just a man. [4] An interesting departure also occurred in communications style. The typical nigilistka, like her male comrade, rejected the conventional hypocrisy of interpersonal relations and tended to be direct to the point of rudeness [4]

Severe times call for severe measures

Seeing their efforts at social change only being met with police brutality and increasing repression by despotic authority, the revolutionaries reassessed their tactics. Peter Tkachev and Sergei Nechayev were two that felt severe times call for severe measures the revolution was only getting started.

Several years of revolutionary conspiracy, terrorism, and assassination ensued. The first instances of violence occurred more or less spontaneously, sometimes as countermeasures against brutal police officials. Thus, early in 1878 Vera Zasulich shot and wounded the military governor of St. Petersburg, General Theodore Trepov, who had ordered a political prisoner to be flogged; a jury failed to convict her, with the result that political cases were withdrawn from regular judicial procedure. But before long an organization emerged which consciously put terrorism at the center of its activity. The conspiratorial revolutionary society “Land and Freedom,” founded in 1876, split in 1879 into two groups: the “Black Partition,” or “Total Land Repartition,” which emphasized gradualism and propaganda, and the “Will of the People” which mounted an all-out terroristic offensive against the government. Members of the “Will of the People” believed that, because of the highly centralized nature of the Russian state, a few assassinations could do tremendous damage to the regime, as well as provide the requisite political instruction for the educated society and the masses. They selected the emperor, Alexander II, as their chief target and condemned him to death. What followed has been described as an “emperor hunt” and in certain ways it defies imagination. The Executive Committee of the “Will of the People” included only about thirty men and women, led by such persons as Andrew Zheliabov who came from the serfs and Sophia Perovskaia who came from Russia’s highest administrative class, but it fought the Russian Empire. [6]

After the assassination of the tsar some began to question the strategic usefulness of the spiraling violence, but few alternatives existed in the oppressive milieu of Imperial Russia. Subsequent monarchs Alexander III and Nicholas II only became more reactionary and narrow-minded while simultaneously voiding even minimal public freedoms. “Murder and the gibbet captivated the imagination of our young people; and the weaker their nerves and the more oppressive their surroundings, the greater was their sense of exaltation at the thought of revolutionary terror. Vera Figner [5]

The Russian Nihilists were smart, dedicated, and possessed a tenacity that was unparalleled. These were revolutionaries that were well aware of the nature of the political system they were in conflict with but nonetheless they still failed to acquire two critical elements. Without a clear and cohesive social program the Nihilists lacked strategic sustainability for their revolutionary movement. Although they achieved their tactical goal of assassinating the top-level authority figures their wider objective of gaining greater freedom of movement and ideas still remained elusive. It seems that the necessary time-scale of their struggle was longer than anticipated and the entrenched nature of the system and the culture of fear and subservience to autocratic rulers that it rested upon was much deeper than realized; 1000 years of tradition simply cant be thrown out in a decade. But since the social program is secondary to immediate plans in a larger sense I think the primary problem affecting the 19th century Russian revolutionaries had more to do with communications limitations than anything else because they had most everything going for them except numbers. Lacking the ability to reach the Russian public except on the smallest scale made widespread, coordinated revolt practically impossible. Publishing technology was easy for despotic regimes to control while radio and cheap printing didn’t arrive in widespread use until the early 20th century.

Although the political violence may have had questionable strategic value the cultural shift in views, attitudes, and ideas made significant contributions that lasted long after the Russian Nihilists themselves had left the scene. 06.12.03

References

A) A History of Russia, sixth edition, by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Oxford University Press 2000.

B) The Womens Liberation Movement in Russia Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism 1860-1930, by Richard Stites, Princeton University Press, 1978.

Nechayev’s Catechism

There are notable differences between the cultural and political situation of late 19th century Europe and our 21st century world. The weight of oppressive authority is nowhere near as crushing today as then, especially in comparison to Tsarist Russia. The situation for the masses was so bleak as to make death through violence more attractive than life in slavery; America is no Palestine and California is no Gaza Strip, if you know what I mean.

The severity of revolutionary action has to be matched to the lack of freedom to express dissenting ideas within the region of operations. Otherwise you’ll just be blown out of the water by public rejection and police reaction. Fortunately, today we have many (peaceful) tools they did not.

Sergei Nechayev’s tenacity was admirable and his methodology scores points for attempting to address more than merely the physical infrastructure so typical of Marxism and other one dimensional “revolutions”. And if nothing else, ‘The Catechism’ certainly stirred up debate and generated enthusiasm for the revolutionary effort. – Freydis 17.05.02

From ‘Catechism of a Revolutionist’ (1869) By Sergei Nechayev

* * *

PRINCIPLES BY WHICH THE REVOLUTIONARY MUST BE GUIDED IN THE ATTITUDE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY TOWARDS HIMSELF

1. The revolutionary is a dedicated man. He has no interests of his own, no affairs, no feelings, no attachments, no belongings, not even a name. Everything in him is absorbed by a single exclusive interest, a single thought, a single passion – the revolution.

2. In the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken every tie with the civil order and the entire cultivated world, with all its laws, proprieties, social conventions and its ethical rules. He is an implacable enemy of this world, and if he continues to live in it, that is only to destroy it more effectively.

3. The revolutionary despises all doctrinarism and has rejected the mundane sciences, leaving them to future generations. He knows of only one science, the science of destruction. To this end, and this end alone, he will study mechanics, physics, chemistry, and perhaps medicine. To this end he will study day and night the living science: people, their characters and circumstances and all the features of the present social order at all possible levels. His sole and constant object is the immediate destruction of this vile order.

4. He despises public opinion. He despises and abhors the existing social ethic in all its manifestations and expressions. For him, everything is moral which assists the triumph of revolution. Immoral and criminal is everything which stands in its way.

5. The revolutionary is a dedicated man, merciless towards the state and towards the whole of educated and privileged society in general; and he must expect no mercy from them either. Between him and them there exists, declared or undeclared, an unceasing and irreconcilable war for life and death. He must discipline himself to endure torture.

6. Hard towards himself, he must be hard towards others also. All the tender and effeminate emotions of kinship, friendship, love, gratitude and even honor must be stifled in him by a cold and single-minded passion for the revolutionary cause. There exists for him only one delight, one consolation, one reward and one gratification – the success of the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, one aim – merciless destruction. In cold-blooded and tireless pursuit of this aim, he must be prepared both to die himself and to destroy with his own hands everything that stands in the way of its achievement.

7. The nature of the true revolutionary has no place for any romanticism, any sentimentality, rapture or enthusiasm. It has no place either for personal hatred or vengeance. The revolutionary passion, which in him becomes a habitual state of mind, must at every moment be combined with cold calculation. Always and everywhere he must be not what the promptings of his personal inclinations would have him be, but what the general interest of the revolution prescribes.

THE ATTITUDE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY TOWARDS HIS COMRADES IN REVOLUTION

8. The revolutionary considers his friend and holds dear only a person who has shown himself in practice to be as much a revolutionary as he himself. The extent of his friendship, devotion and other obligations towards his comrade is determined only by their degree of usefulness in the practical work of total revolutionary destruction.

9. The need for solidarity among revolutionaries is self-evident. In it lies the whole strength of revolutionary work. Revolutionary comrades who possess the same degree of revolutionary understanding and passion should, as far as possible, discuss all important matters together and come to unanimous decisions. But in implementing a plan decided upon in this manner, each man should as far as possible rely on himself. In performing a series of destructive actions each man must act for himself and have recourse to the advice and help of his comrades only if this is necessary for the success of the plan.

10. Each comrade should have under him several revolutionaries of the second or third category, that is, comrades who are not completely initiated. He should regard them as portions of a common fund of revolutionary capital, placed at his disposal. He should expend his portion of the capital economically, always attempting to derive the utmost possible benefit from it.

Himself he should regard as capital consecrated to the triumph of the revolutionary cause; but as capital which he may not dispose of independently without the consent of the entire company of the fully initiated comrades.

11. When a comrade gets into trouble, the revolutionary, in deciding whether he should be rescued or not, must think not in terms of his personal feelings but only of the good of the revolutionary cause.

Therefore he must balance, on the one hand, the usefulness of the comrade, and on the other, the amount of revolutionary energy that would necessarily be expended on his deliverance, and must settle for whichever is the weightier consideration.

THE ATTITUDE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY TOWARDS SOCIETY

12. The admission of a new member, who has proved himself not by words but by deeds, may be decided upon only by unanimous agreement.

13. The revolutionary enters into the world of the state, of class and of so-called culture, and lives in it only because he has faith in its speedy and total destruction.

He is not a revolutionary if he feels pity for anything in this world. If he is able to, he must face the annihilation of a situation, of a relationship or of any person who is part of this world – everything and everyone must be equally odious to him. All the worse for him if he has family, friends and loved ones in this world; he is no revolutionary if he can stay his hand.

14. Aiming at merciless destruction the revolutionary can and sometimes even must live within society while pretending to be quite other than what he is. The revolutionary must penetrate everywhere, among all the lowest and the middle classes, into the houses of commerce, the church, the mansions of the rich, the world of the bureaucracy, the military and of literature, the Third Section [Secret Police] and even the Winter Palace.

15. All of this putrid society must be split up into several categories: the first category comprises those to be condemned immediately to death. The society should compose a list of these condemned persons in order of the relative harm they may do to the successful progress of the revolutionary cause, and thus in order of their removal.

16. In compiling these lists and deciding the order referred to above, the guiding principal must not be the individual acts of villainy committed by the person, nor even by the hatred he provokes among the society or the people. This villainy and hatred, however, may to a certain extent be useful, since they help to incite popular rebellion. The guiding principle must be the measure of service the persons death will necessarily render to the revolutionary cause.

Therefore, in the first instance all those must be annihilated who are especially harmful to the revolutionary organization, and whose sudden and violent deaths will also inspire the greatest fear in the government and, by depriving it of its cleverest and most energetic figures, will shatter its strength.

17. The second category must consist of those who are granted temporary respite to live, solely in order that their goofy behavior shall drive the people to inevitable revolt.

18. To the third category belong a multitude of high-ranking cattle, or personages distinguished neither for any particular intelligence no for energy, but who, because of their position, enjoy wealth, connections, influence and power. They must be exploited in every possible fashion and way; they must be enmeshed and confused, and, when we have found out as much as we can about their dirty secrets, we must make them our beasts of burden, as if they were but mere oxen of the field. Their power, connections, influence, gold and energy thus become an inexhaustible treasure-house and an effective aid to our various enterprises.

19. The fourth category consists of politically ambitious persons and liberals of various hues. With them we can conspire according to their own programs, pretending that we are blindly following them, while in fact we are taking control of them, rooting out all their secrets and compromising them to the utmost, so that they are irreversibly implicated and can be employed to create disorder in the state.

20. The fifth category is comprised of doctrinaires, conspirators, revolutionaries, all those who are given to drunken bullshitting, whether before audiences or on paper. They must be continually incited and forced into making violent declarations of practical intent, as a result of which the majority will vanish without trace and real revolutionary gain will accrue from a few.

21. The sixth, and an important category is that of women. They should be divided into three main types: first, those frivolous, thoughtless, and fluff-headed women who we may use as we use the third and fourth categories of men; second, women who are ardent, gifted, and devoted, but do not belong to us because they have not yet achieved a real, passionless, and practical revolutionary understanding: these must be used like the men of the fifth category; and, finally there are the women who are with us completely, that is, who have been fully initiated and have accepted our program in its entirety. We should regard these women as the most valuable of our treasures, whose assistance we cannot do without.

THE ATTITUDE OF OUR SOCIETY TOWARDS THE PEOPLE

22. Our society has only one aim – the total emancipation and happiness of the people, that is, the common laborers. But, convinced that their emancipation and the achievement of this happiness can be realized only by means of an all-destroying popular revolution, our society will employ all its power and all its resources in order to promote an intensification and an increase I those calamities and horrors which must finally exhaust the patience of the people and drive it to a popular uprising.

23. By popular revolution our society does not mean a regulated movement on the classical French model – a movement which has always been restrained by the notion of property and the traditional social order of our so-called civilization and morality, which has until now always confined itself to the overthrow of one political structure merely to substitute another, and has striven thus to create the so-called revolutionary state. The only revolution that can save the people is one that eradicates the entire state system and exterminates all state traditions of the regime and classes on Earth.

24. Therefore our society does not intend to impose on the people any organization from above. Any future organization will undoubtedly take shape through the movement and life of our people, but that is a task for future generations. Our task is terrible, total, universal, merciless destruction.

25. Therefore, in drawing closer to the people, we must ally ourselves above all with those elements of the popular life which, ever since the very foundation of the state power of Moscow, have never ceased to protest, not only in words but in deeds, against everything directly or indirectly connected with the state: against the nobility, against the bureaucracy, against the priests, against the world of the merchant guilds, and against the tight-fisted hillbilly land pirate. But we shall ally ourselves with the intrepid world of brigands, who are the only true revolutionaries in Russia.

26. To knit this world into a single invincible and all-destroying force – that is the purpose of our entire organization, our conspiracy, and our task.

Notes: Original source unknown. Electronic editing of the ‘Catechism’ provided by kampahana; formatting and condensation done by Freydis, 2002.

Atheist Manifesto

It is hard to say when human thought first conceived of the existence of God. But once having conceived of him, it proceeded to reject him. Possibly the rejection of God occurred immediately after the first conception of him, the first recognition of his existence. In any event, the rejection of God is very old, and the seeds of unbelief appeared very early in the history of mankind. In the course of several centuries, however, these modest seeds of atheism were strangled by the poisonous nettles of theism. But the striving of human thought and feeling for freedom is too great not to prevail. And it has indeed prevailed. Beneath its pressures all religions have broadened their horizons, yielding one point after another and casting off much that only a generation ago was deemed indispensable. Religion, striving to preserve its existence, has made various compromises, piling one absurdity upon another, combining the uncombinable.

The naive legends concerning the origins of the earth, legends created by pastoral folk at the dawn of life, were cast off and relegated to the mythology of ‘holy books’. Beneath the pressure of science, religion repudiated the Devil and repudiated the personification of the deity. Instead, God now reveals himself to us as Reason, Justice, Love, Mercy, etc., etc. Since it was impossible to salvage the contents of religion, men preserved its forms, knowing full well that the forms would give shape to whatever contents were placed in them.

The whole so-called progress of religion is nothing but a series of concessions to emancipated will, thought and feeling. Without their persistent attacks, religion would to this day preserve its original crude and naive character. Thought, moreover, achieved other triumphs as well. Not only did it compel religion to become more progressive, or, more accurately, to give birth to new forms, but it also took an independent creative step, moving ever more boldly towards open, militant atheism.

And our atheism is militant atheism. We believe it is time to begin an open, ruthless struggle with all religious dogmas, whatever they may be called, whatever philosophical or moral systems may conceal their religious essence. We shall fight against all attempts to reform religion or to smuggle the outmoded concepts of past ages into the spiritual baggage of contemporary humanity. We find all gods equally repulsive, whether blood thirsty or humane, envious or kind, vengeful or forgiving. What is important is not what sort of gods they are but simply that they are gods that is, our lords, our sovereigns and that we love our spiritual freedom too dearly to bow before them.

Therefore we are atheists. We shall boldly carry our propaganda of atheism to the toiling masses, for whom atheism is more necessary than anyone else. We fear not the reproach that by destroying the people’s faith we are pulling the moral foundation from under their feet, a reproach uttered by ‘lovers of the people’ who maintain that religion and morality are inseparable. We assert, rather, that morality can and must be free from any ties with religion, basing our conviction on the teachings of contemporary science about morality and society. Only by destroying the old religious dogmas can we accomplish the great positive task of liberating thought and feeling from their old and rusty fetters. And what can better break such bonds?

We hold that there are no objective ideas either in the existing universe or in the past history of peoples. An objective world is nonsense. Desires and aspirations belong only to the individual personality, and we place the free individual in the main corner. We shall destroy the old, repulsive morality of religion which declares: ‘Do good or God will punish you.’ We oppose this bargaining and say: ‘Do what you think is good without making deals with anyone but only because it is good.’ Is this really only destructive work?

So much do we love the human personality that we must therefore hate gods. And therefore we are atheists. The ageold and difficult struggle of the workers for the liberation of labour may continue even longer. The workers may have to toil even more than they already have, and to sacrifice their blood in order to consolidate what has already been won. Along the way, the workers will doubtless experience further defeats and, even worse, disillusionment. For this very reason they must have an iron heart and a mighty spirit which can withstand the blows of fate. But can a slave really have an iron heart? Under God all men are slaves and nonentities. And can men possess a mighty spirit when they fall on their knees and prostrate themselves, as do the faithful?

We shall therefore go to the workers and try to destroy the vestiges of their faith in God. We shall teach them to stand proud and upright as befits free men. We shall teach them to seek help only from themselves, in their own spirit and in the strength of free organizations. We are slandered with the charge that all our best feelings, thoughts, desires and acts are not our own, are not experienced by us, but are God’s, are determined by God, and that we are not ourselves but a mere vehicle carrying out the will of God or the Devil. We want to take responsibility for everything upon ourselves. We want to be free. We do not want to be marionettes or puppets. Therefore we are atheists.

Religions recognize their inability to sustain man’s belief in the Devil, and are rejecting that already discredited figure. But this is inconsistent, for the Devil has as much claim to existence as God that is, none at all. Belief in the Devil was once very strong. There was a time when demonism held exclusive sway over men’s minds, yet now this menacing figure and tempter of humanity has been transformed into a petty demon, more comical than frightening. The same fate must likewise befall his blood-brother God.

God, the Devil, faith mankind has paid for these awful words with a sea of blood, a river of tears, and endless suffering. Enough of this nightmare! Man must finally throw off the yoke, must become free. Sooner or later labour will win. But man must enter the society of equality, brotherhood and freedom ready and spiritually free, or at least free of the divine rubbish which has clung to him for a thousand years. We have shaken this poisonous dust from our feet, and we are therefore atheists.

Come with us all who love man and freedom and hate gods and slavery. Yes, the gods are dying! Long live man! – Union of Atheists

Original source: Soiuz Ateistov, ‘Ateisticheskii manifest’, Nabat (Kharkov),12 May 1919, p. 3., extracted from: The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, edited by Paul Avrich, Cornell University Press, 1973.

Michael Bakunin: “Founder of Nihilism and apostle of anarchy.” – Herzen

Michael Bakunin was born in 1814 and came from a large wealthy family in Russia. Even from an early age Bakunins rebellious personal nature and outlook set him at odds against the ruling class he emerged from although at the same time he never truly identified with the proletarian masses either. Bakunin wanted action, he placed movement over passive thought but this was his charm because he meshed so well with the revolutionary milieu of his era. In another time or place Bakunin would have been simply written off as a fringe element but because of the rapidly changing social and political landscape of the 19th century he became an icon and a legend. Rumor and myth about his escapes from the secret police and his own talk of direct action created an aura of the superhuman revolutionary, fulfilling the eras need for a leader and hero even if his actual deeds failed to fulfill the myths around him.

Bakunins Philosophy

Even at the time Bakunin was often difficult to describe and even more difficult to categorize ideologically within the context of his contemporaries, revolutionaries and other great-thinkers of the 19th century. Bakunin gained from process rather than accomplishment in life, whether the process had aim or not wasnt so much the issue as the act itself, finished things were a source of weariness to him [Lampert (1957), pg 123]

Bakunin never really connected with any of the ideologies of his time, he just saw opportunities either for his own advancement or the pure, ground-up revolution he desired to see happen. Destruction, action and revolution as a way of life were primary themes that emerged. Bakunin went so far as to define destruction as the moving force of history. Simple but powerful statements were typical of Bakunin and indeed this was the appeal.

Keeping with the destruction paradigm, Bakunins analysis of Hegel was remarkable:

Bakunin argues that the dialectic refutes both those whose ideal is in the past (primitive wholeness, as the dialectical source of the divisions of the present, can never be regained), and those who seek a middle way between extremes. No compromise is possible: ‘the whole essence, content, and vitality of the negative consists in destruction of the positive’: only thereby can divisions be resolved in a ‘new, affirmative, organic reality. [Kelly (1987), pg. 93-94]

Organizing and Direct Action

Bakunin had little interest in the nuances and details of revolutionary and political organizing because he thought they only contained his energy rather than magnified it and also because he couldnt focus or stay on task long enough to take an organization towards a goal. Bakunin was no Lenin. But that doesnt mean he didnt try to organize a revolution and then try again because he always wanted to see the revolution happen before his eyes even if he had no idea how to actually carry it out! Bakunin lacked planning and organizing skills as much as he had a surfeit of revolutionary zeal and a limitless capacity for making motivating speeches.

After many false starts Bakunin finally found the action he wanted in Dresden in May of 1849 where he ingratiated himself into the local resistance and fought Prussian troops. But despite best efforts the rebel forces were hopelessly outnumbered and eventually the Saxon government arrested Bakunin. After being transferred from one prison to another the governments finally came to an agreement and Bakunin was shipped off to the dreaded Peter and Paul fortress in Russia. Bakunin was imprisoned and later exiled to Siberia for ten years. A long prison sentence broke him physically but not mentally.

After an amazing confluence of chance and opportunity in 1861, Bakunin managed to escape on a ship to Japan and then to San Francisco eventually ending up back in Europe. Bakunin went back to what he did best trying to stir up revolutionary action, somewhere, anywhere even if more than before his long imprisonment he lacked any substantive connections to the real revolutionary planning on the streets.

Nechayev and Bakunin

In 1869 a mysterious Russian named Sergei Nechayev met with Michael Bakunin. The two immediately found a use for each other amid their collective desire to foment revolution inside Russia a daunting task that had so far eluded the best of Bakunins efforts. But Nechayev was a very crafty man and Bakunin was often nave and trusting, blinded by his own enthusiasm – trouble emerged. Nechayev for his part probably never had any delusions as to his own aim and kept silent letting Bakunin do the talking.

Nechayev and Bakunin seemed to complement each other in attributes, one was a great speaker, the other not, one a formidable plotter where the other wasnt, but in the end Nechayevs selfish view on revolution coupled with Bakunins gullibility led to a falling out and the two departed on unfriendly terms without notable revolutionary success but still attracting the concerted attention of the secret police.

Marx versus Bakunin

Trying to fit Bakunin into the larger scheme of political philosophy is challenging because he wrote very little and his own views were often a confusing mix of others ideas and his own interpretations. A comparison of Karl Marx and Michael Bakunin is interesting in the very different path two thinkers with differing personalities took in analyzing and attempting to solve the problems of their day and to then direct it into revolutionary action. Bakunin was not a theorist or a planner like Marx, rather he was a promoter of the process of action even regardless of the outcome or eventual effect. He was by nature a solipsist, despite all his superficial gregariousness and his later advocacy of anti-individualist anarchism, and the world existed for him for the exercise of personal freedom and creative action. [Lampert (1957), pg. 123]

Atheism

Although he may have had private discussions that placed him more in the agnostic category, his public message was a consistent one of staunch atheism once asserting that “If God really existed it would be necessary to abolish him. Bakunins individualist credo also influenced the Russian anarchists that followed him as well as more modern forms of individual, libertarian anarchism. Bakunin died in 1876 but the revolution continued. His primary surviving work is the book God and the State, a potent patchwork of ideas and musings on history, revolution, religion and authority.

Further Influence

Although his direct involvement in revolutionary activities was limited, Bakunin had a much greater impact on contemporary and even future ideas. Bakunins destructive words influenced the Nihilists in the 1860s characterized by the clean-sweep revolution. the modern rebels believe, as Bazarov and Pisarev and Bakunin believed, that the first requirement is the clean sweep, the total destruction of the present system; the rest is not their business. The future must look after itself. Better anarchy than prison; there is nothing in between. [Berlin, p. 301] And despite Bakunins organizing faults its agreed that he was actually a generous and very friendly person and for all his exhortations to violence like his most famous maxim The urge to destroy is also a creative urge, it was not the people he was targeting so much as the actual institutions of oppression. – October, 2004

References

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V., A History of Russia, New York, Oxford University Press, sixth edition, 2000.

Read the original:

Historical Nihilism | CounterOrder.com

Posted in Nihilism | Comments Off on Historical Nihilism | CounterOrder.com

Space exploration – Wikipedia

Posted: November 29, 2016 at 1:30 am

Space exploration is the ongoing discovery and exploration of celestial structures in outer space by means of continuously evolving and growing space technology. While the study of space is carried out mainly by astronomers with telescopes, the physical exploration of space is conducted both by unmanned robotic probes and human spaceflight.

While the observation of objects in space, known as astronomy, predates reliable recorded history, it was the development of large and relatively efficient rockets during the early 20th century that allowed physical space exploration to become a reality. Common rationales for exploring space include advancing scientific research, national prestige, uniting different nations, ensuring the future survival of humanity, and developing military and strategic advantages against other countries.[1]

Space exploration has often been used as a proxy competition for geopolitical rivalries such as the Cold War. The early era of space exploration was driven by a “Space Race” between the Soviet Union and the United States. The launch of the first human-made object to orbit Earth, the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1, on 4 October 1957, and the first Moon landing by the American Apollo 11 mission on 20 July 1969 are often taken as landmarks for this initial period. The Soviet space program achieved many of the first milestones, including the first living being in orbit in 1957, the first human spaceflight (Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok 1) in 1961, the first spacewalk (by Aleksei Leonov) on 18 March 1965, the first automatic landing on another celestial body in 1966, and the launch of the first space station (Salyut 1) in 1971.

After the first 20 years of exploration, focus shifted from one-off flights to renewable hardware, such as the Space Shuttle program, and from competition to cooperation as with the International Space Station (ISS).

With the substantial completion of the ISS[2] following STS-133 in March 2011, plans for space exploration by the USA remain in flux. Constellation, a Bush Administration program for a return to the Moon by 2020[3] was judged inadequately funded and unrealistic by an expert review panel reporting in 2009.[4] The Obama Administration proposed a revision of Constellation in 2010 to focus on the development of the capability for crewed missions beyond low Earth orbit (LEO), envisioning extending the operation of the ISS beyond 2020, transferring the development of launch vehicles for human crews from NASA to the private sector, and developing technology to enable missions to beyond LEO, such as EarthMoon L1, the Moon, EarthSun L2, near-Earth asteroids, and Phobos or Mars orbit.[5]

In the 2000s, the People’s Republic of China initiated a successful manned spaceflight program, while the European Union, Japan, and India have also planned future manned space missions. China, Russia, Japan, and India have advocated manned missions to the Moon during the 21st century, while the European Union has advocated manned missions to both the Moon and Mars during the 20/21st century.

From the 1990s onwards, private interests began promoting space tourism and then private space exploration of the Moon (see Google Lunar X Prize).

The highest known projectiles prior to the rockets of the 1940s were the shells of the Paris Gun, a type of German long-range siege gun, which reached at least 40 kilometers altitude during World War One.[6] Steps towards putting a human-made object into space were taken by German scientists during World War II while testing the V-2 rocket, which became the first human-made object in space on 3 October 1942 with the launching of the A-4. After the war, the U.S. used German scientists and their captured rockets in programs for both military and civilian research. The first scientific exploration from space was the cosmic radiation experiment launched by the U.S. on a V-2 rocket on 10 May 1946.[7] The first images of Earth taken from space followed the same year[8][9] while the first animal experiment saw fruit flies lifted into space in 1947, both also on modified V-2s launched by Americans. Starting in 1947, the Soviets, also with the help of German teams, launched sub-orbital V-2 rockets and their own variant, the R-1, including radiation and animal experiments on some flights. These suborbital experiments only allowed a very short time in space which limited their usefulness.

The first successful orbital launch was of the Soviet unmanned Sputnik 1 (“Satellite 1”) mission on 4 October 1957. The satellite weighed about 83kg (183lb), and is believed to have orbited Earth at a height of about 250km (160mi). It had two radio transmitters (20 and 40MHz), which emitted “beeps” that could be heard by radios around the globe. Analysis of the radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere, while temperature and pressure data was encoded in the duration of radio beeps. The results indicated that the satellite was not punctured by a meteoroid. Sputnik 1 was launched by an R-7 rocket. It burned up upon re-entry on 3 January 1958.

The second one was Sputnik 2. Launched by the USSR in November 1957, it carried dog Laika inside.

This success led to an escalation of the American space program, which unsuccessfully attempted to launch a Vanguard satellite into orbit two months later. On 31 January 1958, the U.S. successfully orbited Explorer 1 on a Juno rocket. In the meantime, the Soviet dog Laika became the first animal in orbit on 3 November 1957.

The first successful human spaceflight was Vostok 1 (“East 1”), carrying 27-year-old Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on 12 April 1961. The spacecraft completed one orbit around the globe, lasting about 1 hour and 48 minutes. Gagarin’s flight resonated around the world; it was a demonstration of the advanced Soviet space program and it opened an entirely new era in space exploration: human spaceflight.

The U.S. first launched a person into space within a month of Vostok 1 with Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight in Mercury-Redstone 3. Orbital flight was achieved by the United States when John Glenn’s Mercury-Atlas 6 orbited Earth on 5 May 1961.

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, orbited Earth 48 times aboard Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.

China first launched a person into space 42 years after the launch of Vostok 1, on 15 October 2003, with the flight of Yang Liwei aboard the Shenzhou 5 (Spaceboat 5) spacecraft.

The first artificial object to reach another celestial body was Luna 2 in 1959.[10] The first automatic landing on another celestial body was performed by Luna 9[11] in 1966. Luna 10 became the first artificial satellite of the Moon.[12]

The first manned landing on another celestial body was performed by Apollo 11 on 20 July 1969.

The first successful interplanetary flyby was the 1962 Mariner 2 flyby of Venus (closest approach 34,773 kilometers). The other planets were first flown by in 1965 for Mars by Mariner 4, 1973 for Jupiter by Pioneer 10, 1974 for Mercury by Mariner 10, 1979 for Saturn by Pioneer 11, 1986 for Uranus by Voyager 2, 1989 for Neptune by Voyager 2. In 2015, the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto were orbited by Dawn and passed by New Horizons, respectively.

The first interplanetary surface mission to return at least limited surface data from another planet was the 1970 landing of Venera 7 on Venus which returned data to Earth for 23 minutes. In 1975 the Venera 9 was the first to return images from the surface of another planet. In 1971 the Mars 3 mission achieved the first soft landing on Mars returning data for almost 20 seconds. Later much longer duration surface missions were achieved, including over 6 years of Mars surface operation by Viking 1 from 1975 to 1982 and over 2 hours of transmission from the surface of Venus by Venera 13 in 1982, the longest ever Soviet planetary surface mission.

The dream of stepping into the outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere was driven by the fiction of Peter Francis Geraci[13][14][15] and H.G.Wells,[16] and rocket technology was developed to try to realize this vision. The German V-2 was the first rocket to travel into space, overcoming the problems of thrust and material failure. During the final days of World War II this technology was obtained by both the Americans and Soviets as were its designers. The initial driving force for further development of the technology was a weapons race for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to be used as long-range carriers for fast nuclear weapon delivery, but in 1961 when the Soviet Union launched the first man into space, the United States declared itself to be in a “Space Race” with the Soviets.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Goddard, Hermann Oberth, and Reinhold Tiling laid the groundwork of rocketry in the early years of the 20th century.

Wernher von Braun was the lead rocket engineer for Nazi Germany’s World War II V-2 rocket project. In the last days of the war he led a caravan of workers in the German rocket program to the American lines, where they surrendered and were brought to the USA to work on U.S. rocket development (“Operation Paperclip”). He acquired American citizenship and led the team that developed and launched Explorer 1, the first American satellite. Von Braun later led the team at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center which developed the Saturn V moon rocket.

Initially the race for space was often led by Sergei Korolyov, whose legacy includes both the R7 and Soyuzwhich remain in service to this day. Korolev was the mastermind behind the first satellite, first man (and first woman) in orbit and first spacewalk. Until his death his identity was a closely guarded state secret; not even his mother knew that he was responsible for creating the Soviet space program.

Kerim Kerimov was one of the founders of the Soviet space program and was one of the lead architects behind the first human spaceflight (Vostok 1) alongside Sergey Korolyov. After Korolyov’s death in 1966, Kerimov became the lead scientist of the Soviet space program and was responsible for the launch of the first space stations from 1971 to 1991, including the Salyut and Mir series, and their precursors in 1967, the Cosmos 186 and Cosmos 188.[17][18]

Although the Sun will probably not be physically explored at all, the study of the Sun has nevertheless been a major focus of space exploration. Being above the atmosphere in particular and Earth’s magnetic field gives access to the solar wind and infrared and ultraviolet radiations that cannot reach Earth’s surface. The Sun generates most space weather, which can affect power generation and transmission systems on Earth and interfere with, and even damage, satellites and space probes. Numerous spacecraft dedicated to observing the Sun have been launched and still others have had solar observation as a secondary objective. Solar Probe Plus, planned for a 2018 launch, will approach the Sun to within 1/8th the orbit of Mercury.

Mercury remains the least explored of the inner planets. As of May 2013, the Mariner 10 and MESSENGER missions have been the only missions that have made close observations of Mercury. MESSENGER entered orbit around Mercury in March 2011, to further investigate the observations made by Mariner 10 in 1975 (Munsell, 2006b).

A third mission to Mercury, scheduled to arrive in 2020, BepiColombo is to include two probes. BepiColombo is a joint mission between Japan and the European Space Agency. MESSENGER and BepiColombo are intended to gather complementary data to help scientists understand many of the mysteries discovered by Mariner 10’s flybys.

Flights to other planets within the Solar System are accomplished at a cost in energy, which is described by the net change in velocity of the spacecraft, or delta-v. Due to the relatively high delta-v to reach Mercury and its proximity to the Sun, it is difficult to explore and orbits around it are rather unstable.

Venus was the first target of interplanetary flyby and lander missions and, despite one of the most hostile surface environments in the Solar System, has had more landers sent to it (nearly all from the Soviet Union) than any other planet in the Solar System. The first successful Venus flyby was the American Mariner 2 spacecraft, which flew past Venus in 1962. Mariner 2 has been followed by several other flybys by multiple space agencies often as part of missions using a Venus flyby to provide a gravitational assist en route to other celestial bodies. In 1967 Venera 4 became the first probe to enter and directly examine the atmosphere of Venus. In 1970, Venera 7 became the first successful lander to reach the surface of Venus and by 1985 it had been followed by eight additional successful Soviet Venus landers which provided images and other direct surface data. Starting in 1975 with the Soviet orbiter Venera 9 some ten successful orbiter missions have been sent to Venus, including later missions which were able to map the surface of Venus using radar to pierce the obscuring atmosphere.

Space exploration has been used as a tool to understand Earth as a celestial object in its own right. Orbital missions can provide data for Earth that can be difficult or impossible to obtain from a purely ground-based point of reference.

For example, the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts was unknown until their discovery by the United States’ first artificial satellite, Explorer 1. These belts contain radiation trapped by Earth’s magnetic fields, which currently renders construction of habitable space stations above 1000km impractical.

Following this early unexpected discovery, a large number of Earth observation satellites have been deployed specifically to explore Earth from a space based perspective. These satellites have significantly contributed to the understanding of a variety of Earth-based phenomena. For instance, the hole in the ozone layer was found by an artificial satellite that was exploring Earth’s atmosphere, and satellites have allowed for the discovery of archeological sites or geological formations that were difficult or impossible to otherwise identify.

The Moon was the first celestial body to be the object of space exploration. It holds the distinctions of being the first remote celestial object to be flown by, orbited, and landed upon by spacecraft, and the only remote celestial object ever to be visited by humans.

In 1959 the Soviets obtained the first images of the far side of the Moon, never previously visible to humans. The U.S. exploration of the Moon began with the Ranger 4 impactor in 1962. Starting in 1966 the Soviets successfully deployed a number of landers to the Moon which were able to obtain data directly from the Moon’s surface; just four months later, Surveyor 1 marked the debut of a successful series of U.S. landers. The Soviet unmanned missions culminated in the Lunokhod program in the early 1970s, which included the first unmanned rovers and also successfully brought lunar soil samples to Earth for study. This marked the first (and to date the only) automated return of extraterrestrial soil samples to Earth. Unmanned exploration of the Moon continues with various nations periodically deploying lunar orbiters, and in 2008 the Indian Moon Impact Probe.

Manned exploration of the Moon began in 1968 with the Apollo 8 mission that successfully orbited the Moon, the first time any extraterrestrial object was orbited by humans. In 1969, the Apollo 11 mission marked the first time humans set foot upon another world. Manned exploration of the Moon did not continue for long, however. The Apollo 17 mission in 1972 marked the most recent human visit there, and the next, Exploration Mission 2, is due to orbit the Moon in 2021. Robotic missions are still pursued vigorously.

The exploration of Mars has been an important part of the space exploration programs of the Soviet Union (later Russia), the United States, Europe, Japan and India. Dozens of robotic spacecraft, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, have been launched toward Mars since the 1960s. These missions were aimed at gathering data about current conditions and answering questions about the history of Mars. The questions raised by the scientific community are expected to not only give a better appreciation of the red planet but also yield further insight into the past, and possible future, of Earth.

The exploration of Mars has come at a considerable financial cost with roughly two-thirds of all spacecraft destined for Mars failing before completing their missions, with some failing before they even began. Such a high failure rate can be attributed to the complexity and large number of variables involved in an interplanetary journey, and has led researchers to jokingly speak of The Great Galactic Ghoul[19] which subsists on a diet of Mars probes. This phenomenon is also informally known as the Mars Curse.[20] In contrast to overall high failure rates in the exploration of Mars, India has become the first country to achieve success of its maiden attempt. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)[21][22][23] is one of the least expensive interplanetary missions ever undertaken with an approximate total cost of 450 Crore (US$73 million).[24][25] The first ever mission to Mars by any Arab country has been taken up by the United Arab Emirates. Called the Emirates Mars Mission, it is scheduled for launch in 2020. The unmanned exploratory probe has been named “Hope Probe” and will be sent to Mars to study its atmosphere in detail.[26]

The Russian space mission Fobos-Grunt, which launched on 9 November 2011 experienced a failure leaving it stranded in low Earth orbit.[27] It was to begin exploration of the Phobos and Martian circumterrestrial orbit, and study whether the moons of Mars, or at least Phobos, could be a “trans-shipment point” for spaceships traveling to Mars.[28]

The exploration of Jupiter has consisted solely of a number of automated NASA spacecraft visiting the planet since 1973. A large majority of the missions have been “flybys”, in which detailed observations are taken without the probe landing or entering orbit; such as in Pioneer and Voyager programs. The Galileo spacecraft is the only one to have orbited the planet. As Jupiter is believed to have only a relatively small rocky core and no real solid surface, a landing mission is nearly impossible.

Reaching Jupiter from Earth requires a delta-v of 9.2km/s,[29] which is comparable to the 9.7km/s delta-v needed to reach low Earth orbit.[30] Fortunately, gravity assists through planetary flybys can be used to reduce the energy required at launch to reach Jupiter, albeit at the cost of a significantly longer flight duration.[29]

Jupiter has 67 known moons, many of which have relatively little known information about them.

Saturn has been explored only through unmanned spacecraft launched by NASA, including one mission (CassiniHuygens) planned and executed in cooperation with other space agencies. These missions consist of flybys in 1979 by Pioneer 11, in 1980 by Voyager 1, in 1982 by Voyager 2 and an orbital mission by the Cassini spacecraft, which entered orbit in 2004 and is expected to continue its mission well into 2017.

Saturn has at least 62 known moons, although the exact number is debatable since Saturn’s rings are made up of vast numbers of independently orbiting objects of varying sizes. The largest of the moons is Titan. Titan holds the distinction of being the only moon in the Solar System with an atmosphere denser and thicker than that of Earth. As a result of the deployment from the Cassini spacecraft of the Huygens probe and its successful landing on Titan, Titan also holds the distinction of being the only object in the outer Solar System that has been explored with a lander.

The exploration of Uranus has been entirely through the Voyager 2 spacecraft, with no other visits currently planned. Given its axial tilt of 97.77, with its polar regions exposed to sunlight or darkness for long periods, scientists were not sure what to expect at Uranus. The closest approach to Uranus occurred on 24 January 1986. Voyager 2 studied the planet’s unique atmosphere and magnetosphere. Voyager 2 also examined its ring system and the moons of Uranus including all five of the previously known moons, while discovering an additional ten previously unknown moons.

Images of Uranus proved to have a very uniform appearance, with no evidence of the dramatic storms or atmospheric banding evident on Jupiter and Saturn. Great effort was required to even identify a few clouds in the images of the planet. The magnetosphere of Uranus, however, proved to be completely unique and proved to be profoundly affected by the planet’s unusual axial tilt. In contrast to the bland appearance of Uranus itself, striking images were obtained of the Moons of Uranus, including evidence that Miranda had been unusually geologically active.

The exploration of Neptune began with the 25 August 1989 Voyager 2 flyby, the sole visit to the system as of 2014. The possibility of a Neptune Orbiter has been discussed, but no other missions have been given serious thought.

Although the extremely uniform appearance of Uranus during Voyager 2’s visit in 1986 had led to expectations that Neptune would also have few visible atmospheric phenomena, the spacecraft found that Neptune had obvious banding, visible clouds, auroras, and even a conspicuous anticyclone storm system rivaled in size only by Jupiter’s small Spot. Neptune also proved to have the fastest winds of any planet in the Solar System, measured as high as 2,100km/h.[31] Voyager 2 also examined Neptune’s ring and moon system. It discovered 900 complete rings and additional partial ring “arcs” around Neptune. In addition to examining Neptune’s three previously known moons, Voyager 2 also discovered five previously unknown moons, one of which, Proteus, proved to be the last largest moon in the system. Data from Voyager 2 supported the view that Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, is a captured Kuiper belt object.[32]

The dwarf planet Pluto presents significant challenges for spacecraft because of its great distance from Earth (requiring high velocity for reasonable trip times) and small mass (making capture into orbit very difficult at present). Voyager 1 could have visited Pluto, but controllers opted instead for a close flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan, resulting in a trajectory incompatible with a Pluto flyby. Voyager 2 never had a plausible trajectory for reaching Pluto.[33]

Pluto continues to be of great interest, despite its reclassification as the lead and nearest member of a new and growing class of distant icy bodies of intermediate size (and also the first member of the important subclass, defined by orbit and known as “plutinos”). After an intense political battle, a mission to Pluto dubbed New Horizons was granted funding from the United States government in 2003.[34] New Horizons was launched successfully on 19 January 2006. In early 2007 the craft made use of a gravity assist from Jupiter. Its closest approach to Pluto was on 14 July 2015; scientific observations of Pluto began five months prior to closest approach and will continue for at least a month after the encounter.

Until the advent of space travel, objects in the asteroid belt were merely pinpricks of light in even the largest telescopes, their shapes and terrain remaining a mystery. Several asteroids have now been visited by probes, the first of which was Galileo, which flew past two: 951 Gaspra in 1991, followed by 243 Ida in 1993. Both of these lay near enough to Galileo’s planned trajectory to Jupiter that they could be visited at acceptable cost. The first landing on an asteroid was performed by the NEAR Shoemaker probe in 2000, following an orbital survey of the object. The dwarf planet Ceres and the asteroid 4 Vesta, two of the three largest asteroids, were visited by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, launched in 2007.

Although many comets have been studied from Earth sometimes with centuries-worth of observations, only a few comets have been closely visited. In 1985, the International Cometary Explorer conducted the first comet fly-by (21P/Giacobini-Zinner) before joining the Halley Armada studying the famous comet. The Deep Impact probe smashed into 9P/Tempel to learn more about its structure and composition and the Stardust mission returned samples of another comet’s tail. The Philae lander successfully landed on Comet ChuryumovGerasimenko in 2014 as part of the broader Rosetta mission.

Hayabusa was an unmanned spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to return a sample of material from the small near-Earth asteroid 25143 Itokawa to Earth for further analysis. Hayabusa was launched on 9 May 2003 and rendezvoused with Itokawa in mid-September 2005. After arriving at Itokawa, Hayabusa studied the asteroid’s shape, spin, topography, color, composition, density, and history. In November 2005, it landed on the asteroid to collect samples. The spacecraft returned to Earth on 13 June 2010.

Deep space exploration is the term used for the exploration of deep space, and which is usually described as being at far distances from Earth and either within or away from the Solar System. It is the branch of astronomy, astronautics and space technology that is involved with the exploration of distant regions of outer space.[35] Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights (deep-space astronautics) and by robotic spacecraft.

Some of the best candidates for future deep space engine technologies include anti-matter, nuclear power and beamed propulsion.[36] The latter, beamed propulsion, appears to be the best candidate for deep space exploration presently available, since it uses known physics and known technology that is being developed for other purposes.[37]

In the 2000s, several plans for space exploration were announced; both government entities and the private sector have space exploration objectives. China has announced plans to have a 60-ton multi-module space station in orbit by 2020.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 provided a re-prioritized list of objectives for the American space program, as well as funding for the first priorities. NASA proposes to move forward with the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), which will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment, and science experiments to Earth’s orbit and destinations beyond. Additionally, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station. The SLS rocket will incorporate technological investments from the Space Shuttle program and the Constellation program in order to take advantage of proven hardware and reduce development and operations costs. The first developmental flight is targeted for the end of 2017.[38]

The idea of using high level automated systems for space missions has become a desirable goal to space agencies all around the world. Such systems are believed to yield benefits such as lower cost, less human oversight, and ability to explore deeper in space which is usually restricted by long communications with human controllers.[39]

Autonomy is defined by 3 requirements:[39]

Autonomed technologies would be able to perform beyond predetermined actions. It would analyze all possible states and events happening around them and come up with a safe response. In addition, such technologies can reduce launch cost and ground involvement. Performance would increase as well. Autonomy would be able to quickly respond upon encountering an unforeseen event, especially in deep space exploration where communication back to Earth would take too long.[39]

NASA began its autonomous science experiment (ASE) on Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) which is NASA’s first satellite in the new millennium program Earth-observing series launched on 21 November 2000. The autonomy of ASE is capable of on-board science analysis, replanning, robust execution, and later the addition of model-based diagnostic. Images obtained by the EO-1 are analyzed on-board and downlinked when a change or an interesting event occur. The ASE software has successfully provided over 10,000 science images.[39]

The research that is conducted by national space exploration agencies, such as NASA and Roscosmos, is one of the reasons supporters cite to justify government expenses. Economic analyses of the NASA programs often showed ongoing economic benefits (such as NASA spin-offs), generating many times the revenue of the cost of the program.[40] It is also argued that space exploration would lead to the extraction of resources on other planets and especially asteroids, which contain billions of dollars worth of minerals and metals. Such expeditions could generate a lot of revenue.[41] As well, it has been argued that space exploration programs help inspire youth to study in science and engineering.[42]

Another claim is that space exploration is a necessity to mankind and that staying on Earth will lead to extinction. Some of the reasons are lack of natural resources, comets, nuclear war, and worldwide epidemic. Stephen Hawking, renowned British theoretical physicist, said that “I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”[43]

NASA has produced a series of public service announcement videos supporting the concept of space exploration.[44]

Overall, the public remains largely supportive of both manned and unmanned space exploration. According to an Associated Press Poll conducted in July 2003, 71% of U.S. citizens agreed with the statement that the space program is “a good investment”, compared to 21% who did not.[45]

Arthur C. Clarke (1950) presented a summary of motivations for the human exploration of space in his non-fiction semi-technical monograph Interplanetary Flight.[46] He argued that humanity’s choice is essentially between expansion off Earth into space, versus cultural (and eventually biological) stagnation and death.

Spaceflight is the use of space technology to achieve the flight of spacecraft into and through outer space.

Spaceflight is used in space exploration, and also in commercial activities like space tourism and satellite telecommunications. Additional non-commercial uses of spaceflight include space observatories, reconnaissance satellites and other Earth observation satellites.

A spaceflight typically begins with a rocket launch, which provides the initial thrust to overcome the force of gravity and propels the spacecraft from the surface of Earth. Once in space, the motion of a spacecraftboth when unpropelled and when under propulsionis covered by the area of study called astrodynamics. Some spacecraft remain in space indefinitely, some disintegrate during atmospheric reentry, and others reach a planetary or lunar surface for landing or impact.

Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites. Space stations and human spacecraft in orbit are also satellites.

Current examples of the commercial use of space include satellite navigation systems, satellite television and satellite radio. Space tourism is the recent phenomenon of space travel by individuals for the purpose of personal pleasure.

Astrobiology is the interdisciplinary study of life in the universe, combining aspects of astronomy, biology and geology.[47] It is focused primarily on the study of the origin, distribution and evolution of life. It is also known as exobiology (from Greek: , exo, “outside”).[48][49][50] The term “Xenobiology” has been used as well, but this is technically incorrect because its terminology means “biology of the foreigners”.[51] Astrobiologists must also consider the possibility of life that is chemically entirely distinct from any life found on Earth.[52] In the Solar System some of the prime locations for current or past astrobiology are on Enceladus, Europa, Mars, and Titan.

Space colonization, also called space settlement and space humanization, would be the permanent autonomous (self-sufficient) human habitation of locations outside Earth, especially of natural satellites or planets such as the Moon or Mars, using significant amounts of in-situ resource utilization.

To date, the longest human occupation of space is the International Space Station which has been in continuous use for 700850716800000000016years, 26days. Valeri Polyakov’s record single spaceflight of almost 438 days aboard the Mir space station has not been surpassed. Long-term stays in space reveal issues with bone and muscle loss in low gravity, immune system suppression, and radiation exposure.

Many past and current concepts for the continued exploration and colonization of space focus on a return to the Moon as a “stepping stone” to the other planets, especially Mars. At the end of 2006 NASA announced they were planning to build a permanent Moon base with continual presence by 2024.[54]

Beyond the technical factors that could make living in space more widespread, it has been suggested that the lack of private property, the inability or difficulty in establishing property rights in space, has been an impediment to the development of space for human habitation. Since the advent of space technology in the latter half of the twentieth century, the ownership of property in space has been murky, with strong arguments both for and against. In particular, the making of national territorial claims in outer space and on celestial bodies has been specifically proscribed by the Outer Space Treaty, which had been, as of 2012[update], ratified by all spacefaring nations.[55]

View original post here:

Space exploration – Wikipedia

Posted in Space Exploration | Comments Off on Space exploration – Wikipedia

On Censorship – The New Yorker

Posted: at 1:20 am

No writer ever really wants to talk about censorship. Writers want to talk about creation, and censorship is anti-creation, negative energy, uncreation, the bringing into being of non-being, or, to use Tom Stoppards description of death, the absence of presence. Censorship is the thing that stops you doing what you want to do, and what writers want to talk about is what they do, not what stops them doing it. And writers want to talk about how much they get paid, and they want to gossip about other writers and how much they get paid, and they want to complain about critics and publishers, and gripe about politicians, and they want to talk about what they love, the writers they love, the stories and even sentences that have meant something to them, and, finally, they want to talk about their own ideas and their own stories. Their things. The British humorist Paul Jennings, in his brilliant essay on Resistentialism, a spoof of Existentialism, proposed that the world was divided into two categories, Thing and No-Thing, and suggested that between these two is waged a never-ending war. If writing is Thing, then censorship is No-Thing, and, as King Lear told Cordelia, Nothing will came of nothing, or, as Mr. Jennings would have revised Shakespeare, No-Thing will come of No-Thing. Think again.

Consider, if you will, the air. Here it is, all around us, plentiful, freely available, and broadly breathable. And yes, I know, its not perfectly clean or perfectly pure, but here it nevertheless is, plenty of it, enough for all of us and lots to spare. When breathable air is available so freely and in such quantity, it would be redundant to demand that breathable air be freely provided to all, in sufficient quantity for the needs of all. What you have, you can easily take for granted, and ignore. Theres just no need to make a fuss about it. You breathe the freely available, broadly breathable air, and you get on with your day. The air is not a subject. It is not something that most of us want to discuss.

Imagine, now, that somewhere up there you might find a giant set of faucets, and that the air we breathe flows from those faucets, hot air and cold air and tepid air from some celestial mixer-unit. And imagine that an entity up there, not known to us, or perhaps even known to us, begins on a certain day to turn off the faucets one by one, so that slowly we begin to notice that the available air, still breathable, still free, is thinning. The time comes when we find that we are breathing more heavily, perhaps even gasping for air. By this time, many of us would have begun to protest, to condemn the reduction in the air supply, and to argue loudly for the right to freely available, broadly breathable air. Scarcity, you could say, creates demand.

Liberty is the air we breathe, and we live in a part of the world where, imperfect as the supply is, it is, nevertheless, freely available, at least to those of us who arent black youngsters wearing hoodies in Miami, and broadly breathable, unless, of course, were women in red states trying to make free choices about our own bodies. Imperfectly free, imperfectly breathable, but when it is breathable and free we dont need to make a song and dance about it. We take it for granted and get on with our day. And at night, as we fall asleep, we assume we will be free tomorrow, because we were free today.

The creative act requires not only freedom but also this assumption of freedom. If the creative artist worries if he will still be free tomorrow, then he will not be free today. If he is afraid of the consequences of his choice of subject or of his manner of treatment of it, then his choices will not be determined by his talent, but by fear. If we are not confident of our freedom, then we are not free.

And, even worse than that, when censorship intrudes on art, it becomes the subject; the art becomes censored art, and that is how the world sees and understands it. The censor labels the work immoral, or blasphemous, or pornographic, or controversial, and those words are forever hung like albatrosses around the necks of those cursed mariners, the censored works. The attack on the work does more than define the work; in a sense, for the general public, it becomes the work. For every reader of Lady Chatterleys Lover or Tropic of Capricorn, every viewer of Last Tango in Paris or A Clockwork Orange, there will be ten, a hundred, a thousand people who know those works as excessively filthy, or excessively violent, or both.

The assumption of guilt replaces the assumption of innocence. Why did that Indian Muslim artist have to paint that Hindu goddess in the nude? Couldnt he have respected her modesty? Why did that Russian writer have his hero fall in love with a nymphet? Couldnt he have chosen a legally acceptable age? Why did that British playwright depict a sexual assault in a Sikh temple, a gurdwara? Couldnt the same assault have been removed from holy ground? Why are artists so troublesome? Cant they just offer us beauty, morality, and a damn good story? Why do artists think, if they behave in this way, that we should be on their side? And the people all said sit down, sit down youre rocking the boat / And the devil will drag you under, with a soul so heavy youll never float / Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down / Youre rocking the boat.

At its most effective, the censors lie actually succeeds in replacing the artists truth. That which is censored is thought to have deserved censorship. Boat-rocking is deplored.

Nor is this only so in the world of art. The Ministry of Truth in present-day China has successfully persuaded a very large part of the Chinese public that the heroes of Tiananmen Square were actually villains bent on the destruction of the nation. This is the final victory of the censor: When people, even people who know they are routinely lied to, cease to be able to imagine what is really the case.

Sometimes great, banned works defy the censors description and impose themselves on the worldUlysses, Lolita, the Arabian Nights. Sometimes great and brave artists defy the censors to create marvellous literature underground, as in the case of the samizdat literature of the Soviet Union, or to make subtle films that dodge the edge of the censors knife, as in the case of much contemporary Iranian and some Chinese cinema. You will even find people who will give you the argument that censorship is good for artists because it challenges their imagination. This is like arguing that if you cut a mans arms off you can praise him for learning to write with a pen held between his teeth. Censorship is not good for art, and it is even worse for artists themselves. The work of Ai Weiwei survives; the artist himself has an increasingly difficult life. The poet Ovid was banished to the Black Sea by a displeased Augustus Caesar, and spent the rest of his life in a little hellhole called Tomis, but the poetry of Ovid has outlived the Roman Empire. The poet Mandelstam died in one of Stalins labor camps, but the poetry of Mandelstam has outlived the Soviet Union. The poet Lorca was murdered in Spain, by Generalissimo Francos goons, but the poetry of Lorca has outlived the fascistic Falange. So perhaps we can argue that art is stronger than the censor, and perhaps it often is. Artists, however, are vulnerable.

In England last week, English PEN protested that the London Book Fair had invited only a bunch of official, State-approved writers from China while the voices of at least thirty-five writers jailed by the regime, including Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and the political dissident and poet Zhu Yufu, remained silent and ignored. In the United States, every year, religious zealots try to ban writers as disparate as Kurt Vonnegut and J. K. Rowling, an obvious advocate of sorcery and the black arts; to say nothing of poor, God-bothered Charles Darwin, against whom the advocates of intelligent design continue to march. I once wrote, and it still feels true, that the attacks on the theory of evolution in parts of the United States themselves go some way to disproving the theory, demonstrating that natural selection doesnt always work, or at least not in the Kansas area, and that human beings are capable of evolving backward, too, towards the Missing Link.

Even more serious is the growing acceptance of the dont-rock-the-boat response to those artists who do rock it, the growing agreement that censorship can be justified when certain interest groups, or genders, or faiths declare themselves affronted by a piece of work. Great art, or, lets just say, more modestly, original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, its a revolution.

This piece is drawn from the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture given by Rushdie, on May 6th, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival.

Illustration by Matthew Hollister.

Read this article:
On Censorship – The New Yorker

Posted in Censorship | Comments Off on On Censorship – The New Yorker

List of Atlas Shrugged characters – Wikipedia

Posted: November 27, 2016 at 9:53 am

This is a list of characters in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.

The following are major characters from the novel.[1]

Dagny Taggart is the protagonist of the novel. She is Vice-President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental, under her brother, James Taggart. Given James’ incompetence, Dagny is responsible for all the workings of the railroad.

Francisco d’Anconia is one of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged, an owner by inheritance of the world’s largest copper mining operation. He is a childhood friend, and the first love, of Dagny Taggart. A child prodigy of exceptional talents, Francisco was dubbed the “climax” of the d’Anconia line, an already prestigious family of skilled industrialists. He was a classmate of John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjld and student of both Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler. He began working while still in school, proving that he could have made a fortune without the aid of his family’s wealth and power. Later, Francisco bankrupts the d’Anconia business to put it out of others’ reach. His full name is given as “Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastin d’Anconia”.[2]

John Galt is the primary male hero of Atlas Shrugged. He initially appears as an unnamed menial worker for Taggart Transcontinental, who often dines with Eddie Willers in the employees’ cafeteria, and leads Eddie to reveal important information about Dagny Taggart and Taggart Transcontinental. Only Eddie’s side of their conversations is given in the novel. Later in the novel, the reader discovers this worker’s true identity.

Before working for Taggart Transcontinental, Galt worked as an engineer for the Twentieth Century Motor Company, where he secretly invented a generator of usable electric energy from ambient static electricity, but abandoned his prototype, and his employment, when dissatisfied by an easily corrupted novel system of payment. This prototype was found by Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden. Galt himself remains concealed, throughout much of the novel, in a valley concealed by himself, where he unites the most skillful inventors and business leaders under his leadership. Much of the book’s third division is given to his broadcast speech, which presents the author’s philosophy of Objectivism.

Henry (known as “Hank”) Rearden is one of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged. He owns the most important steel company in the United States, and invents Rearden Metal, an alloy stronger than steel (with similar properties to stainless steel). He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Lillian, his brother Philip, and his elderly mother. Rearden represents a type of self-made man or prototypical hero, and illustrates Rand’s theory of sex in so far as he accepts the traditional view of sexual congress as a subhuman instinct, but responds sexually to Dagny Taggart.

Edwin “Eddie” Willers is the Special Assistant to the Vice-President in Charge of Operations at Taggart Transcontinental. His father and grandfather worked for the Taggarts, and himself likewise. He is completely loyal to Dagny and to Taggart Transcontinental. Willers does not possess the creative ability of Galt’s associates, but matches them in moral courage and is capable of appreciating and making use of their creations. After Dagny shifts her attention and loyalty to saving the captive Galt, Willers maintains the railroad until its collapse.

One of Galt’s first followers, and world-famous as a pirate, who seizes relief ships sent from the United States to the People’s States of Europe. He works to ensure that once those espousing Galt’s philosophy are restored to their rightful place in society, they have enough capital to rebuild the world. Kept in the background for much of the book, Danneskjld makes a personal appearance to encourage Rearden to persevere in his increasingly difficult situation, and gives him a bar of gold as compensation for the income taxes he has paid over the last several years. Danneskjld is married to the actress Kay Ludlow; their relationship is kept hidden from the outside world, which only knows of Ludlow as a retired film star. Considered a misfit by Galt’s other adherents, he views his actions as a means to speed the world along in understanding Galt’s perspective.

According to Barbara Branden, who was closely associated with Rand at the time the book was written, there were sections written describing Danneskjld’s adventures at sea, cut from the final published text.[3] In a 1974 comment at a lecture, Ayn Rand admitted that Danneskjld’s name was a tribute to Victor Hugo’s novel, Hans of Iceland, wherein the hero becomes the first of the Counts of Danneskjld. In the published book, Danneskjld is always seen through the eyes of others (Dagny Taggart or Hank Rearden), except for a brief paragraph in the very last chapter.

The President of Taggart Transcontinental and the book’s most important antagonist. Taggart is an expert influence peddler but incapable of making operational decisions on his own. He relies on his sister, Dagny Taggart, to actually run the railroad, but nonetheless opposes her in almost every endeavor because of his various anti-capitalist moral and political beliefs. In a sense, he is the antithesis of Dagny. This contradiction leads to the recurring absurdity of his life: the desire to overcome those on whom his life depends, and the horror that he will succeed at this. In the final chapters of the novel, he suffers a complete mental breakdown upon realizing that he can no longer deceive himself in this respect.

The unsupportive wife of Hank Rearden, who dislikes his habits and (secretly at first) seeks to ruin Rearden to prove her own value. Lillian achieves this, when she passes information to James Taggart about her husband’s affair with his sister. This information is used to persuade Rearden to sign a Gift Certificate which delivers all the property rights of Rearden Metal to others. Lillian thereafter uses James Taggart for sexual satisfaction, until Hank abandons her.

Ferris is a biologist who works as “co-ordinator” at the State Science Institute. He uses his position there to deride reason and productive achievement, and publishes a book entitled Why Do You Think You Think? He clashes on several occasions with Hank Rearden, and twice attempts to blackmail Rearden into giving up Rearden Metal. He is also one of the group of looters who tries to get Rearden to agree to the Steel Unification Plan. Ferris hosts the demonstration of the Project X weapon, and is the creator of the Ferris Persuader, a torture machine. When John Galt is captured by the looters, Ferris uses the device on Galt, but it breaks down before extracting the information Ferris wants from Galt. Ferris represents the group which uses brute force on the heroes to achieve the ends of the looters.

A former professor at Patrick Henry University, and along with colleague Hugh Akston, mentor to Francisco d’Anconia, John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjld. He has since become a sell-out, one who had great promise but squandered it for social approval, to the detriment of the free. He works at the State Science Institute where all his inventions are perverted for use by the military, including the instrument of his demise: Project X (Xylophone). The character was, in part, modeled on J. Robert Oppenheimer, whom Rand had interviewed for an earlier project, and his part in the creation of nuclear weapons.[4] To his former student Galt, Stadler represents the epitome of human evil, as the “man who knew better” but chose not to act for the good.

The incompetent and treacherous lobbyist whom Hank Rearden reluctantly employs in Washington, who rises to prominence and authority throughout the novel through trading favours and disloyalty. In return for betraying Hank by helping broker the Equalization of Opportunity Bill (which, by restricting the number of businesses each person may own to one, forces Hank to divest most of his companies), he is given a senior position at the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. Later in the novel he becomes its Top Co-ordinator, a position that eventually becomes Economic Dictator of the country.

The following secondary characters also appear in the novel.[5]

See original here:

List of Atlas Shrugged characters – Wikipedia

Posted in Atlas Shrugged | Comments Off on List of Atlas Shrugged characters – Wikipedia

How Psychedelics Saved My Life – Reset.me

Posted: at 9:49 am

by Amber Lyon

on May 28, 2014

Amber Lyon is an Emmy Award-winning former CNN investigative news correspondent.

I invite you to take a step back and clear your mind of decades of falsepropaganda. Governments worldwide lied to us about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. The public has also been misled about psychedelics.

These non-addictive substances- MDMA, ayahuasca, ibogaine, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and many more- are proven to rapidly and effectively help people heal from trauma, PTSD, anxiety, addiction and depression.

Psychedelicssaved my life.

I was drawn to journalism at a young age by the desire to provide a voice for the little guy. For nearly a decade working as a CNN investigative correspondent and independent journalist, I became a mouthpiece for the oppressed, victimized and marginalized. My path of submersion journalism brought me closest to the plight of my sources, by living the story to get a true understanding of what was happening.

Speaking ata press conference in Lebanon onthehuman rights abuses Iwitnessed while reporting in Bahrain.

After several years of reporting, I realized an unfortunate consequence of my style- I had immersed myself too deeply in the trauma and suffering of the people Id interviewed. I began to have trouble sleeping as their faces appeared in my darkest dreams. I spent too long absorbed in a world of despair and my inability to deflect it allowed the trauma of others to settle inside my mind and being. Combine that with several violent experienceswhile working in the field and I was at my worst. A life reporting on the edge had led me to the brinkof my own sanity.

Because I could not find a way to process my anguish, it grew into a monster, manifesting itself into a constant state of anxiety, short-term memory loss, sleeplessness, and hyper arousal. The heart palpitations made me feel like I was knocking on deaths door.

While at CNN, Iinvestigated human rights and environmental issues.

Prescription medications and antidepressants serve a purpose, butI knew they were not on mypath tohealing after my investigations exposed their sinister side effectsincluding infants being born dependent on the medicinesafter their mothers couldnt kick their addictions. Masking the symptoms of a deeper condition with a pill felt like putting a Band-Aid on bullet wound.

I was made aware of the potential healing powers of psychedelics as a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in October 2012. Joe told me psychedelicmushrooms transformed his life and had the potential to changethe course of humanity for the better. My initial reaction was one of amusement and somewhat disbelief, but the seed was planted.

Psychedelics were an odd choice for someone like me. I grew up in the Midwest and was fed 30 years of propaganda explaining how horrible these substances were for my health. You can imagine my jaw-dropping surprise when, after the Rogan podcast, I found articles on the prodigious effects of these substances that behave more like medicines than drugs. Articles like this one, this, this , this, and this. And studies such as this, this, this,this, this and this all gut-wrenching examples of how weve been misled by authorities who classify psychedelics as schedule 1 narcoticsthat have no medicinal value despite dozens of scientific studies proving otherwise.

Having only ever smoked the odd marijuana joint in college, in March 2013 I found myself boarding a plane to Iquitos, Peru to try one of the most powerful psychedelics on earth. I ditched my car at the airport, hastily packed my belongings in a backpack and headed down to the Amazon jungle placing my blind faith in a substance that a week ago I could hardly pronounce: ayahuasca.

Theayahuasca brew is prepared by combining chacruna leaves, that contain the powerful psychedelic DMT, with the ayahuasca vine.

Ayahuasca is a medicinal tea that contains the psychedeliccompound dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. The brewis rapidly spreading around the world after numerous anecdotes have shownthe brew has the power to cureanxiety, PTSD, depression, unexplained pain, and numerous physical and mental health ailments. Studies of long-term ayahuasca drinkersshow they are less likely to face addictions and have elevated levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitterresponsible for happiness.

If I had any reservations, doubts, or disbeliefs, they were quickly expelled shortly after my first ayahuasca experience. The foul-tasting tea vibrated throughmy veins and into my brainas the medicine scanned my body. My field of vision becameengulfed with fiercecolors and geometric patterns. Almost instantly, I saw a vision of a brick wall. The word anxiety was spray painted in large letters on the wall. You must heal your anxiety, the medicine whispered. I entereda dream-like state where traumatic memories were finally dislodged from my subconscious.

It was as if I was viewing a film ofmy entire life, not as the emotional me, but as an objective observer. The vividlyintrospective movie played in my mind asI relived my most painful scenes- my parents divorce when I was just 4 years-old, past relationships, being shot at by policewhile photographing a protest in Anaheim and crushed underneath a crowd while photographing a protest in Chicago. The ayahuasca enabled me to reprocess these events, detaching the fear and emotion from the memories. Theexperience was akin to ten years of therapy in one eight-hour ayahuasca session.

But theexperience, and many psychedelic experiences for that matter, was terrifying at times. Ayahuasca is not for everyone- you have to be willing to revisit some very dark places and surrender to the uncontrollable, fierceflow of the medicine. Ayahuascaalso causesviolent vomiting and diarrhea, which shamans call getting well because youare purging trauma from your body.

After seven ayahuasca sessions in the jungles of Peru, the fog that engulfed my mind lifted. I was able to sleep again and noticedimprovements in my memory and less anxiety. I yearned to absorb as much knowledge as possible about these medicines and spent the next year travelling the world in search of more healers, teachers and experiences through submersion journalism.

I was drawn totry psilocybin mushrooms after reading how they reduced anxiety in terminal cancer patients. The ayahuasca showed me my main ailmentwas anxiety, and I knew I still had work to do to fix it. Psilocybinmushroomsare not neurotoxic, nonaddictive, and studies show they reduce anxiety, depression, and even lead to neurogenesis, or the regrowth of brain cells. Why would governments worldwide keep such a profound fungiout of the reach of their people?

The curandera blesses me as Iconsume a leaf full of psilocybin mushrooms for the healing ceremony.

After Peru, I visited curanderas, or healers, in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Mazatecs have used psilocybinmushrooms as a sacrament and medicinally for hundreds of years. Curandera Dona Augustine served me a leaf full of mushrooms during a beautiful ceremony before a Catholic alter. As she sang thousand year-old songs, I watched the sunset over the mountainous landscape in Oaxaca and a deep sense of connectivity washed over my whole being. The innate beauty had me at a loss for words; a sudden outpouring of emotion had me in tears. I cried through the night and with each tear a small part of my trauma trickled down my cheek and dissolved onto the forest floor, freeing me from its toxic energy.

Psilocybin mushrooms are not neurotoxic, non-addictive, and a study from University of Southern Florida shows they can repair brain damage from trauma.

Perhaps most astounding, the mushrooms silenced the self-critical part of my mind long enough for me to reprocess memories without fear or emotion. The mushrooms enabled me to remember one of the most terrifying moments of my career: when I wasdetained at gunpoint in Bahrain while filming a documentary for CNN. I had lost any detailedrecollection of that daywhen masked men pointed guns at our heads andforced my crew and I onto the ground. Fora good half an hour, I did not know whether we were going to survive.

I spent many sleepless nights desperately searching for memories of that day, but they were locked inmy subconscious. Iknew the memoriesstill haunted me becauseanytime I would see PTSD triggers, such as loud noises, helicopters, soldiers, or guns, a rush of anxiety and panic would flood my body.

The psilocybin was the key to unlock the trauma, enabling me to relive the detainmentmoment to moment, from outside of my body, as an emotionless, objective observer. I peered into the CNNvan and saw my former selfsitting in the backseat, loud helicopters overhead. My producer Taryn was sitting to theright of me frantically trying to close the van door as we tried to make an escape. I heardTaryn screamguns! as armedmasked men jumpedout of the security vehicles surroundingthe van. I watched as Ifrantically dug through a backpack on the floor, grabbing my CNN ID card and jumpingout of thevan. I saw myself land on the groundin childs pose, dust covering mybody and face. Iwatched as I threw myhand with the CNN badge in the air above myhead yelling CNN, CNN, dont shoot!!

I saw the pain in my face as the security forces threw human rights activist and dear friend Nabeel Rajab against a security car and began to harass him. I saw the terror in my faceas I glanced down at my shirt, arms in the air, prayingthe video cardsconcealed on my body wouldnt fall onto the ground.

During the ceremony the psilocybin unlocks traumatic memories stored deep in my subconscious so I can process them and heal. The experience is intensely introspective.

As I relived each moment of the detainment, I reprocessed each memory moving it from the fear folder to its new permanent home in the safe folder in my brains hard drive.

Five ceremonies with psilocybin mushrooms cured my anxiety and PTSD symptoms. The butterflies that had a constant home in my stomach have flown away.

Psychedelics are not the be-all and end-all. For me, theywere the key that openedthe door to healing. I still have to work to maintain the healing with the use of floatationtanks, meditation, and yoga. For psychedelics to be effective, its essential they are taken with the right mindset in a quiet, relaxed setting conducive to healing, and that all potential prescription drug interactions are carefully researched. Itcan be fatalif Ayahuasca is mixed with prescription antidepressants.

I was blessed with an inquisitive nature and a stubbornness to always question authority. Had I opted for a doctors script and resigned myself in the hope that things would just get better, I never would have discovered the outer reaches of my mind and heart. Had I drunk the Kool-Aid and believed that all drugs are evil and have no healing value, I may still be in the midst of a battle with PTSD.

This very world that glamorizes war, violence, commercialism, environmental destruction, and suffering has outlawed some of the most profound keys to inner peace. The War on Drugs is not based on science. If it was, two of the most deadly drugs on earth-alcohol and tobacco- would be illegal. Those suffering from trauma have become victims of this failed war and have lost one of the most effective ways to heal.

Humanity has gone mad as a result.

Lyon and a scientist cut open a fish stomach to inspect for plastic litter while filming a documentary on excessive ocean plastic pollution.

I spent ten years witnessing the collective insanity as a journalist on the frontlines- wars, bloodshed, environmental destruction, sex slavery, lies, addiction, anger, fear.

But I had it all wrong journalistically. I had beenfocusing on the symptoms of an ill society, rather than attacking the root cause: unprocessed trauma.

We all have trauma. Trauma rests in the violent criminal, the cheating spouse, the corrupt politician, those suffering from mental illness, addictions, inside those too fearful to take risks and reach their full potential.

If its not adequately processed and purged, trauma becomes cemented onto the hard drive of the mind, growing into a dark parasite that rears its ugly head throughout a persons entire life. The wounds keep us locked in a grid of fear, trapped behind a personality not true to the soul, working a mundane job rather than following a passion, repeating a cycle of abuse, destroying the environment, harming one another. The most common and severe suffering is inflicted during childhood and hijacks the drivers seat into adulthood, steering an individual down a road deprived ofhappiness. Renowned addiction expertGabor Mate says, The major cause of severe substance addiction is always childhood trauma.

We live in a world full of wounds and when left untreated, theyre unceremoniously handed from one generation to the next, so the cycle of trauma continues in all its destructive brutality.

But theres hope. We can transform the course of humanity by collectively purging our grief and healing at the individual level, with the help of psychedelic medicines. Once we collectively heal atthe individual level, we will see dramatic positive transformation in society as a whole.

I founded the websitereset.me, to produce and aggregate journalism on consciousness, natural medicines, and therapies. Psychedelic explorer Terrence McKenna compared taking psychedelics to hitting the reset button on your internal hard drive, clearing out the junk, and starting over. I created reset.me to help connect those who need to hit the reset button in life with journalism covering thetools that enableus to heal.

Its a human rights crisis psychedelics are not accessible to the general population. Its insane that governments worldwide have outlawedthe very medicines that can emancipate our souls from suffering.

Its time westop the madness.

Follow this link:

How Psychedelics Saved My Life – Reset.me

Posted in Psychedelics | Comments Off on How Psychedelics Saved My Life – Reset.me

Golden Rule – Wikipedia

Posted: November 23, 2016 at 10:04 pm

The Golden Rule or law of reciprocity is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself. It is a maxim of altruism seen in many human religions and human cultures.[1][2] The maxim may appear as either a positive or negative injunction governing conduct:

The Golden Rule differs from the maxim of reciprocity captured in do ut des”I give so that you will give in return”and is rather a unilateral moral commitment to the well-being of the other without the expectation of anything in return.[3]

The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion[4][5] and ethical tradition.[6] It can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, and economics. Psychologically, it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically, it involves a person perceiving their neighbor also as “I” or “self”.[7] Sociologically, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ is applicable between individuals, between groups, and also between individuals and groups. In economics, Richard Swift, referring to ideas from David Graeber, suggests that “without some kind of reciprocity society would no longer be able to exist.”[8]

The term “Golden Rule”, or “Golden law” began to be used widely in the early 17th century in Britain; the earliest known usage is that of Charles Gibbon in 1604.[1][9]

Possibly the earliest affirmation of the maxim of reciprocity, reflecting the ancient Egyptian goddess Ma’at, appears in the story of The Eloquent Peasant, which dates to the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040 c. 1650 BC): “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to make him do.”[10][11] This proverb embodies the do ut des principle.[12] A Late Period (c. 664 BC 323 BC) papyrus contains an early negative affirmation of the Golden Rule: “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”[13]

The Golden Rule appears in the following Biblical verse: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

The Golden Rule existed among all the major philosophical schools of ancient China: Mohism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Examples of the concept include:

In Mahbhrata, the ancient epic of India, comes a discourse where the wise minister Vidura advises the King Yuddhihhira thus, “Listening to wise scriptures, austerity, sacrifice, respectful faith, social welfare, forgiveness, purity of intent, compassion, truth and self-control are the ten wealth of character (self). O king aim for these, may you be steadfast in these qualities. These are the basis of prosperity and rightful living. These are highest attainable things. All worlds are balanced on dharma, dharma encompasses ways to prosperity as well. O King, dharma is the best quality to have, wealth the medium and desire (kma) the lowest. Hence, (keeping these in mind), by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself.”

tasmd_dharma-pradhnna bhavitavyam yattman | tath cha sarva-bhthu vartitavyam yathtmani || ( || Mahbhrata Shnti-Parva 167:9)

In the Section on Virtue, and Chapter 32 of the Tirukkua (c. 200 BC c. 500 AD), Tiruvalluvar says: Why does a man inflict upon other creatures those sufferings, which he has found by experience are sufferings to himself? (K. 318) Let not a man consent to do those things to another which, he knows, will cause sorrow. (K. 316) He furthermore opined that it is the determination of the spotless (virtuous) not to do evil, even in return, to those who have cherished enmity and done them evil. (K. 312) The (proper) punishment to those who have done evil (to you), is to put them to shame by showing them kindness, in return and to forget both the evil and the good done on both sides. (K. 314)

The Golden Rule in its prohibitive (negative) form was a common principle in ancient Greek philosophy. Examples of the general concept include:

The Pahlavi Texts of Zoroastrianism (c. 300 BC1000 AD) were an early source for the Golden Rule: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another whatsoever is not good for itself.” Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5, and “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29[20]

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC65 AD), a practitioner of Stoicism (c. 300 BC200 AD) expressed the Golden Rule in his essay regarding the treatment of slaves: “Treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you.” The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca.[21]

A rule of altruistic reciprocity was first stated positively in a well-known Torah verse (Hebrew: ” “):

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Hillel the Elder (c. 110 BCE 10 CE),[22] used this verse as a most important message of the Torah for his teachings. Once, he was challenged by a gentile who asked to be converted under the condition that the Torah be explained to him while he stood on one foot. Hillel accepted him as a candidate for conversion to Judaism but, drawing on Leviticus 19:18, briefed the man:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

Hillel recognized brotherly love as the fundamental principle of Jewish ethics. Rabbi Akiva agreed and suggested that the principle of love must have its foundation in Genesis chapter 1, which teaches that all men are the offspring of Adam who was made in the image of God (Sifra, edoshim, iv.; Yer. Ned. ix. 41c; Genesis Rabba 24).[23] According to Jewish rabbinic literature, the first man Adam represents the unity of mankind. This is echoed in the modern preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[24][25] And it is also taught, that Adam is last in order according to the evolutionary character of God’s creation:[23]

Why was only a single specimen of man created first? To teach us that he who destroys a single soul destroys a whole world and that he who saves a single soul saves a whole world; furthermore, so no race or class may claim a nobler ancestry, saying, ‘Our father was born first’; and, finally, to give testimony to the greatness of the Lord, who caused the wonderful diversity of mankind to emanate from one type. And why was Adam created last of all beings? To teach him humility; for if he be overbearing, let him remember that the little fly preceded him in the order of creation.[23]

The Jewish Publication Society’s edition of Leviticus:

This Torah verse represents one of several versions of the Golden Rule, which itself appears in various forms, positive and negative. It is the earliest written version of that concept in a positive form.[27]

At the turn of the eras, the Jewish rabbis were discussing the scope of the meaning of Leviticus 19:18 and 19:34 extensively:

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God.

Commentators summed up foreigners (= Samaritans), proselytes (= ‘strangers who resides with you’) (Rabbi Akiva, bQuid 75b) or Jews (Rabbi Gamaliel, yKet 3,1; 27a) to the scope of the meaning.

The Sage Hillel formulated an alternative form of the golden rule. When asked to sum up the entire Torah concisely, he explained, and taught the proselyte:[28]

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.

On the verse, “Love your fellow as yourself,” the classic commentator Rashi quotes from Torat Kohanim, an early Midrashic text regarding the famous dictum of Rabbi Akiva: “Love your fellow as yourself Rabbi Akiva says this is a great principle of the Torah.”[29]

Israel’s postal service quoted from the previous Leviticus verse when it commemorated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a 1958 postage stamp.[30]

According to Simon Blackburn, although the Golden Rule “can be found in some form in almost every ethical tradition”, the rule is “sometimes claimed by Christianity as its own”.[31] The “Golden Rule” has been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, who used it to summarize the Torah: “Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets”[32] (Matthew 7:12 NCV, see also Luke 6:31). The common English phrasing is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. A similar form appeared in a Catholic catechism around 1567 (certainly in the reprint of 1583).[33] The Golden Rule is stated positively numerous times in the Hebrew Pentateuch as well as the Prophets and Writings. Leviticus 19:18 (“Forget about the wrong things people do to you, and do not try to get even. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”; see also Great Commandment) and Leviticus 19:34 (“But treat them just as you treat your own citizens. Love foreigners as you love yourselves, because you were foreigners one time in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”).

The Old Testament Deuterocanonical books of Tobit and Sirach, accepted as part of the Scriptural canon by Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Non-Chalcedonian Churches, express a negative form of the golden rule:

“Do to no one what you yourself dislike.”

Tobit 4:15

“Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do, and keep in mind your own dislikes.”

Sirach 31:15

At the time of Hillel, an elder contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth, the negative form of the golden rule was already proverbial among Second Temple Jews. When asked to sum up the entire Torah concisely, he answered:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Two passages in the New Testament quote Jesus of Nazareth espousing the positive form of the rule:

Matthew 7:12

Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets.

Luke 6:31

Do to others what you would want them to do to you.

A similar passage, a parallel to the Great Commandment, is Luke 10:25-28

25And one day an authority on the law stood up to put Jesus to the test. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?”

26What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you understand it?” 27He answered, ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.(Deuteronomy 6:5) And, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. ” 28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do that, and you will live.”.

The passage in the book of Luke then continues with Jesus answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?”, by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, indicating that “your neighbor” is anyone in need.[34] This extends to all, including those who are generally considered hostile.

Jesus’ teaching goes beyond the negative formulation of not doing what one would not like done to themselves, to the positive formulation of actively doing good to another that, if the situations were reversed, one would desire that the other would do for them. This formulation, as indicated in the parable of the Good Samaritan, emphasizes the needs for positive action that brings benefit to another, not simply restraining oneself from negative activities that hurt another. Taken as a rule of judgment, both formulations of the golden rule, the negative and positive, are equally applicable.[35]

In one passage of the New Testament Paul the Apostle refers to the golden rule:

Galatians 5:14

14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The Golden Rule is implicitly expressed in some verses of the Quran, and is explicitly declared in the sayings of Muhammad. A common transliteration is: Aheb li akheek ma tuhibu li nafsik. This can be translated as “Wish for your brother, what you wish for yourself” or “Love for your brother what you love for yourself”.

From the Quran: the first verse recommends the positive form of the rule, and the subsequent verses condemn not abiding the negative form of the Golden Rule:

“…and you should forgive And overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.”

“Woe to those… who, when they have to receive by measure from men, they demand exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due”

“…orphans and the needy, give them something and speak kindly to them. And those who are concerned about the welfare of their own children after their death, should have fear of God [Treat other people’s Orphans justly] and guide them properly.”

“O you who believe! Spend [benevolently] of the good things that you have earned… and do not even think of spending [in alms] worthless things that you yourselves would be reluctant to accept.”

From the hadith, the collected oral and written accounts of Muhammad and his teachings during his lifetime:

A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]”

“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

“Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer.”

“That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.”[37]

“The most righteous person is the one who consents for other people what he consents for himself, and who dislikes for them what he dislikes for himself.”[37]

Ali ibn Abi Talib (4th Caliph in Sunni Islam, and first Imam in Shia Islam) says:

“O’ my child, make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress as you do not like to be oppressed. Do good to others as you would like good to be done to you. Regard bad for yourself whatever you regard bad for others. Accept that (treatment) from others which you would like others to accept from you… Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you.”

Other hadiths containing the golden rule are:

The Writings of the Bah’ Faith while encouraging everyone to treat others as they would treat themselves, go further by introducing the concept of preferring others before oneself:

O SON OF MAN! Deny not My servant should he ask anything from thee, for his face is My face; be then abashed before Me.

Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.

And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.

Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.

One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to ones own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.

By making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself[48]

Also,

Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, c. 623 c. 543 BC)[49][50] made this principle one of the cornerstones of his ethics in the 6th century BC. It occurs in many places and in many forms throughout the Tripitaka.

Comparing oneself to others in such terms as “Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I,” he should neither kill nor cause others to kill.

One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.[51]

The Golden Rule is paramount in the Jainist philosophy and can be seen in the doctrines of Ahimsa and Karma. As part of the prohibition of causing any living beings to suffer, Jainism forbids inflicting upon others what is harmful to oneself.

The following quotation from the Acaranga Sutra sums up the philosophy of Jainism:

Nothing which breathes, which exists, which lives, or which has essence or potential of life, should be destroyed or ruled over, or subjugated, or harmed, or denied of its essence or potential.

In support of this Truth, I ask you a question “Is sorrow or pain desirable to you?” If you say “yes it is”, it would be a lie. If you say, “No, It is not” you will be expressing the truth. Just as sorrow or pain is not desirable to you, so it is to all which breathe, exist, live or have any essence of life. To you and all, it is undesirable, and painful, and repugnant.[52]

A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.

Sutrakritanga, 1.11.33

In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.

Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

Saman Suttam of Jinendra Varni[53] gives further insight into this precept:-

Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality treat other with respect and compassion.

Suman Suttam, verse 150

Killing a living being is killing one’s own self; showing compassion to a living being is showing compassion to oneself. He who desires his own good, should avoid causing any harm to a living being.

Suman Suttam, verse 151

Precious like jewels are the minds of all. To hurt them is not at all good. If thou desirest thy Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone’s heart.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji 259, Guru Granth Sahib

The same idea is also presented in V.12 and VI.30 of the Analects (c. 500 BC), which can be found in the online Chinese Text Project. It should be noted, however, that the phraseology differs from the Christian version of the Golden Rule. It does not presume to do anything unto others, but merely to avoid doing what would be harmful. It does not preclude doing good deeds and taking moral positions, but there is slim possibility for a Confucian missionary outlook, such as one can justify with the Christian Golden Rule.

The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

If people regarded other peoples states in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own state to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself. If people regarded other peoples cities in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own city to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself. If people regarded other peoples families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself. And so if states and cities do not attack one another and families do not wreak havoc upon and steal from one another, would this be a harm to the world or a benefit? Of course one must say it is a benefit to the world.

[55]

Mozi regarded the golden rule as a corollary to the cardinal virtue of impartiality, and encouraged egalitarianism and selflessness in relationships.

Here is the original post:

Golden Rule – Wikipedia

Posted in Golden Rule | Comments Off on Golden Rule – Wikipedia

Current Issue | Asimov’s Science Fiction

Posted: at 10:03 pm

October/November is our traditional slightly spooky issue, and the 2016 edition is no exception. The magazine is jam-packed with stories about ghosts, angels, demons, souls, curses, and a couple of aliens. Alexander Jablokovs bold new novella brings us a tale of death and danger, a woman with a rather unusual occupation, and The Forgotten Taste of Honey.

Sandra McDonalds cheerful tone belies the horror that lurks for The People in the Building; the souls of the damned are captured in Susan Palwicks poignant Lucite; death and another odd job play a part in Michael Liblings amusing and irreverent tale of Wretched the Romantic; Project Extropy uncovers new mysteries in Dominica Phetteplaces ongoing series; S. N. Dyer draws on history and folklore to explain what happens When Grandfather Returns; seeds of hurt and mistrust are sewn in Rich Larsons Water Scorpions; new author Octavia Cade invites us to spend some time Eating Science With Ghosts; Will Ludwigsen examines the curse of The Leaning Lincoln; and Michael Blumleins heartfelt novella asks us to Choose Poison, Choose Life.

Robert Silverbergs Reflections column dabbles in some Magical Thinking; James Patrick Kellys On the Net prepares to Welcome Our Robot Overlords!; Norman Spinrads On Books takes on Short Stories in a column that features the Nebula Awards Showcase anthologies as well as The Fredric Brown Megapack and Harlan Ellisons Can & Cantankerous; plus well have an array of poetry and other features youre sure to enjoy. Get your copy now!

by Alexander Jablokov

Tromvi trudged up the hill from the harbor, where she had just packed the last of her trade goods into the hull of a ship heading to the east. What she had received in return already weighed on her horses backs. She smiled to herself as she remembered the sea captain, caught between a reluctance to say goodbye and the need to be ready for the receding tide, being uncharacteristically sharp with his crew. READ MORE

by Sandra McDonald

At an office building on Tanner Boulevard, two intelligent elevators whisk workers up from the lobby toward their employment destinations. The people headed for the fifth floor greet each other every morning with nods. The people from the fourth floor sip from their brown coffee cups and read their smartphones.READ MORE

by Lisa Bellamy

Today they jostle among us until sundown, listen to our chatter, nudge each other, read the news over our shoulders; they window-shop READ MORE

by Sheila Williams

Welcome to our annual slightly spooky issue. The fall double issue is always long in the making. Throughout the year, we see stories that land a little outside Asimovs, admittedly rather soft, parameters. While we do publish one or two stories in each issue that could be called fantasy, surreal fiction, or slipstream, our focus is primarily on science fiction. Of course I get a lot of traditional science fiction story submissions, but I see a lot of uncanny submissions, too. READ MORE

by Robert Silverberg

Isaac Asimov, for whom this magazine was named and who was my predecessor as writer of this column, was a totally rational man with no belief whatever in matters supernatural. That didnt stop him from writing the occasional fantasy story or from editing a long series of anthologies with such titles as Devils, Ghosts, Spells, and Magical Wishes.READ MORE

by James Patrick Kelly

My friend John Kessel and I have had a longstanding disagreement about the future of artificial intelligence. Even though we have co-edited a couple of anthologies examining post-cyberpunk…READ MORE

by Norman Spinrad

I have been writing this column for close to four decades now, and, yet, to the best of my recollection, I have never reviewed a book of short stories. During my writing career, I have written and published something like twenty-five novels, but I have also probably written something close to one hundred short stories, if by short stories one means fiction of less than novel length, which is my definition here. READ MORE

by Erwin S. Strauss

October is a busy month. My picks range from coast to coast this time: CONtraflow, Archon, EerieCon, VCon, CapClave (where Ill be), ConClave, ConStellation, ValleyCon, MileHiCon, ICon and NecronomiCon. Whew! Plan now for social weekends with your favorite SF authors, editors, artists, and fellow fans.READ MORE

Link:

Current Issue | Asimov’s Science Fiction

Posted in Extropy | Comments Off on Current Issue | Asimov’s Science Fiction

Philosophy of Religion Religion and Memetics

Posted: at 10:00 pm

Evolutionary theory has revolutionised modern thought. The way that we understand the world has been profoundly influenced by Darwins insight into the way that natural selection guides progress over time. Recently, it has been recognised that Darwins theory applies not only to biological organisms but also to ideas. Some, such as Richard Dawkins, Susan Blackmore, and Daniel Dennett, have argued that this provides an explanation of religious belief, and that this explanation counts against the idea that such beliefs are true.

Darwins theory of evolution sought to explain the diversity of species in the world in the following way:

The world contains only a limited supply of the resources necessary to support life. Organisms must therefore compete with each other for these resources in order to survive.

As biological organisms reproduce, random genetic mutations occur, introducing variety into the species. Because of these mutations, some members of the species are better able to compete for resources, i.e. fitter, than others.

The result of this natural selection is the survival of the fittest. As the competition is won or lost, weaker members of the species will die out, without reproducing, and their genes will be lost to the gene pool. Stronger members, on the other hand will survive, and their fitter genes will be replicated.

The process will then repeat, with mutations again introducing new genetic variety, and natural selection again choosing the fittest members of the species to survive and reproduce.

There are thus two stages to evolution: mutation, which introduces variety into a species, and natural selection, which chooses between the members of the species, driving progress by ensuring that only the fittest members survive and reproduce.

With each iteration of the process of natural selection, the gene pool becomes stronger; species develop on an upward trajectory. Given enough time, evolution theory holds, this upward trajectory can take a species far; indeed, we ourselves are thought to have evolved from single-celled organisms via this process.

Recently, it has been recognised that this theory can be applied not only to biological organisms, but also to ideas. Ideas, too, replicate themselves, passing from one individual to another, changing over time. Ideas, too, compete for survival in the minds of the people of the time; an idea that is rejected altogether dies out.

Just as the fittest organisms will survive and reproduce, then, so too will the fittest ideas. Ideas that replicate themselves in this way have been called memes, a term coined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene; the study of this process is called memetics.

What makes for fitness in ideas will be similar to what makes for fitness in genes. The ability to replicate itself is important if either a gene or an idea is to spread; the greater this ability the better. The ability to survive is also vital if the gene or idea is not to be wiped out before it reproduces.

One thing that need not be involved in the fitness of an idea is truth. An idea may replicate itself widely and be extremely robust without corresponding to reality.

Christianity does indeed possess those features that are necessary for an idea to compete for survival effectively.

Christianity is very good at replicating itself; the great commission, Jesus instruction to his followers, is to go and make disciples of all nations. Those who possess the Christian meme, who believe in the God of the Bible, therefore replicate Christianity as far as they are able to do so.

Christianity is also very robust. The all too common emphasis of religion on faith to the exclusion of reason makes those that possess the Christian meme liable to reject evidence against it. Christianity has even been accused by Antony Flew in his paper Theology and Falsification of being unfalsifiable, i.e. of being such that no evidence could possibly count against it. Those that possess the Christian meme are therefore unlikely to lose it.

None of this memetic critique of Christianity, of course, proves that Christianity is false; that is not what it attempts to do. Rather, what the memetic critique of Christianity attempts to do is demonstrate that even if Christianity were false, we would expect belief in it to be widespread. Atheism, the argument goes, can explain Christianity; there is nothing mysterious about the success of religion.

Originally posted here:

Philosophy of Religion Religion and Memetics

Posted in Memetics | Comments Off on Philosophy of Religion Religion and Memetics