Thursday, May 31, 2007
The University of Colorado president has now set in motion a process that is widely expected to lead to Churchill’s dismissal as a tenured professor before students return in the fall. As his supporters mount a last effort to protect him — in the court of public opinion, or quite likely in the courts — they are focused on issues of freedom of expression. Supporters at Colorado’s Boulder campus, where Churchill teaches ethnic studies, and Native American scholars nationwide are calling the campaign to oust him attacks on academic freedom.
But in an interview Tuesday, the president of the university, Hank Brown, strongly defended his actions, and described questions he had considered to assure himself that academic freedom was not being violated. He characterized the Churchill argument of late as a “Paris Hilton defense” — arguing that the professor and the socialite both blame their troubles on being famous, instead of accepting that famous people have to follow the rules just like others do.
The Churchill debate could also prove tricky for the American Association of University Professors, the national group that has traditionally set standards for academic freedom. The campus chapter is strongly backing Churchill and criticizing the conduct of the investigation. But the national AAUP is taking a measured position and in an interview Tuesday, the national group’s chief official on academic freedom defended the right of a university president to take action against someone who becomes notorious for political reasons (as long as the action is related to relevant issues and not the notoriety).
In a memo last week, Brown for the first time called for Churchill’s dismissal. The request awaits a review from a faculty panel and would need approval of the Board of Regents, and follows inquiries by three faculty panels, all of which found Churchill committed multiple instances of academic misconduct.
The investigations of Churchill — who was hired and promoted at Boulder without incident — followed widespread condemnation of his comments about 9/11, and his notorious comparison of World Trade Center victims to “little Eichmanns.” While many political leaders immediately called for Churchill to be fired, the university said it would not. However, when various people came forward with charges of research misconduct, the university investigated those charges and the move to dismiss him cited findings by faculty panels that he had intentionally plagiarized and fabricated work numerous times in his writings.
Churchill has repeatedly characterized any problems with his work as minor, saying that he is being punished for his views. And that is the message his defenders are pushing as he runs out of appeals at Colorado.
Native American scholars from around the country, joined by lawyers, filed new complaints this week against the investigative committees that looked at Churchill’s record. These scholars see an attempt to undercut Churchill’s work and other scholars’ work documenting the atrocities committed by the United States against American Indians.
Michael Yellow Bird, an associate professor in the Indigenous Nations Studies Program at the University of Kansas, said he regularly uses and trusts Churchill’s work for providing “an alternative hypothesis to mainstream thought.” Yellow Bird said that the criticism of Churchill is “clearly an academic freedom issue and politically motivated” because the university “had vetted his stuff” before hiring and promoting him — and didn’t find any problems until there was a national political outcry about the 9/11 writings.
“This is going to make other people think they have to go with the mainstream views,” Yellow Bird said.
James Craven, a professor of economics at Clark College, in Washington State, said that Churchill was subjected to a level of scrutiny that few professors have ever faced or could withstand. “How many scholars could have their own work vetted as his was,” said Craven, who also uses the Blackfoot name Omahkohkiaayo i’poyi. “By impeaching Churchill, they are trying to impeach all of his work, very serious work about the genocide against American Indians,” Craven said. “This sends a message to other academics telling them not to get controversial.”
Margaret LeCompte, a professor of education at Boulder and president of the AAUP chapter there, said that the move to fire Churchill is “an opening wedge in the concerted effort to curb academic freedom and tenure.”
LeCompte acknowledged that faculty members evaluated Churchill’s work and that Brown had relied on professors’ reviews of the evidence. But she said that this left a false impression. “You can have a committee that looks like the right thing but is an absolute corruption of the process,” she said. Anyone “who might have been the least bit sympathetic to Churchill” was kept out of the process, LeCompte said, while those on the panels faced “extraordinary pressure” to find justifications to get rid of Churchill.
Because Churchill wrote about history, she said, the committees should have accepted the idea that different scholars may have different interpretations. “This was not a point of fact like it might be in chemistry or biology,” she said. While there is “probably a chance that there are one or two footnotes out of place” in Churchill’s work, a truly dispassionate review would have found no misconduct, she said. In the “toxic environment” that prevailed at Boulder, there was no way a panel could have cleared Churchill, and that makes the investigations illegitimate, she said.
Brown, the Colorado president, scoffed at the idea that the process had a predetermined outcome. While many legislators have expressed their view that Churchill should be fired, Brown insisted that “no one put pressure on me” to decide the case in a certain way or to pressure professors to do so. Brown noted that he has already announced his intention to leave the presidency, giving him plenty of freedom. “It’s not exactly like I’m worried about keeping my job,” he said.
So how can he be sure that academic freedom isn’t at risk? Brown offered a series of arguments. “None of the charges against Professor Churchill involve his viewpoint or what he said — none of that is relevant to the charges brought against him,” he said. “None of the evidence introduced into the hearings related to what he said [about 9/11] or his views,” Brown added, saying that he had specifically looked to be sure that those political disputes were not cited in any way.
“The only party that has introduced his views into the process has been Professor Churchill,” Brown said.
It is “silly” to say that the process was tainted just because many people know and dislike Churchill’s views, Brown said. “The Paris Hilton defense doesn’t make any sense. The fact that you are a celebrity or you are controversial does not excuse you from being responsible for misdeeds, and in this case there were repeated falsifications or plagiarisms.”
Brown may have backing for that view from the national AAUP. Jonathan Knight, who heads the association’s academic freedom program, said that it was too early to say how the group would end up viewing the case.
But Knight said that even if Churchill’s 9/11 comments prompted scrutiny of his record, that does not negate the possibility that real wrongdoing was found. “There is always a possibility that improper motives are the real reason for dismissing a faculty member. but we’ve never taken the position that an improper motive bars taking a look at whether allegations of misconduct are in fact true,” he said.
He said that any AAUP analysis would look at the process followed to see if Churchill received due process. And in many respects, the process Knight described as appropriate is one that Colorado appears to be following. For example, Knight said that the AAUP believes that after faculty reviews, any presidential move for dismissal should be reviewed one more time by a faculty panel, which could try to change the president’s mind. Colorado is doing that right now, with Brown’s recommendations going back to the last faculty panel that reviewed the case (and recommended 3-2 for suspension, not termination).
Likewise, Knight said, the AAUP did not view it as necessarily a violation of academic freedom if a president doesn’t end up agreeing with a faculty panel — provided the president’s analysis is shared and is “consistent with the standards of the academic profession.” To judge that, he said that the AAUP would need to examine the analysis, the transcript of the hearings involving Churchill, and the evidence — not with the idea of necessarily arriving at a different verdict, but at making sure that the process was fair and the conclusions were an appropriate outcome. In addition, the AAUP would seek to be sure that there was not a “taint” in the very questions asked about Churchill such that he wouldn’t have had a fair shot at defending himself. “The procedure melds with substance in these cases,” Knight said, and may do so even if reasonable people don’t agree.
“The academic profession places important reliance on peer judgment,” Knight said. “But at the same time, the academic profession does not hold that the judgments of faculty committees are absolute. There is in fact a connection between the responsibilities of the faculty and of the administration.”
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
by by William S. Burroughs
[From Evergreen Review Reader #67, June 1969.]
The uneasy spring of 1988. Under the pretext of drug control, suppressive police states have been set up throughout the Western world. The precise programming of thought, feeling, and apparent sensory impressions by the technology outlined in bulletin 2332 enables the police states to maintain a democratic facade from behind which they loudly denounce as criminal perverts and drug addicts anyone who opposes the control machine. Underground armies operate in the large cities, enturbulating the police with false information through anonymous phone calls and letters. Police with drawn guns erupt at the senator's dinner party, a very special dinner party too, that would tie up a sweet thing in surplus planes.
"We been tipped off a nude reefer party is going on here. Take the place apart, boys, and you folks keep your clothes on or I'll blow your filthy guts out."
We put out false alarms on the police short wave directing patrol cars to nonexistent crimes and riots which enables us to strike somewhere else. Squads of false police search and beat the citizenry. False construction workers tear up streets, rupture water mains, cut power connections. Infra-sound installations set off every burglar alarm in the city. Our aim is total chaos.
Loft room, map of the city on the wall. Fifty boys with portable tape recorders record riots from TV. They are dressed in identical grey flannel suits. They strap on the recorders under gabardine topcoats and dust their clothes lightly with tear gas. They hit the rush hour in a flying wedge, riot recordings on full blast, police whistles, screams, breaking glass, crunch of night sticks, tear gas flapping from their clothes. They scatter, put on press cards, and come back to cover the action. Bearded Yippies rush down a street with hammers, breaking every window on both sides, leave a wake of screaming burglar alarms, strip off the beards, reverse collars, and they are fifty clean priests throwing gasoline bombs under every car - WHOOSH a block goes up behind them. In fireman uniforms, arrive with axes and hoses to finish the good work.
In Mexico, South and Central America, guerrilla units are forming an army of liberation to free the United States. In North Africa, from Tangier to Timbuktu, corresponding units prepare to liberate Western Europe and the United Kingdom. Despite disparate aims and personnel of its constituent members, the underground is agreed on basic objectives. We intend to march on the police machine everywhere. We intend to destroy the police machine and all its records. We intend to destroy all dogmatic verbal systems. The family unit and its cancerous expansion into tribes, countries, nations, we will eradicate at its vegetable roots. We don't want to hear any more family talk, mother talk, father talk, cop talk, priest talk, country talk or party talk. To put it country simple, we have heard enough bullshit.
I am on my way from London to Tangier. In North Africa I will contact the wild boy packs that range from the outskirts of Tangier to Timbuktu. Rotation and exchange is a keystone of the underground. I am bringing them modern weapons: laser guns, infrasound installations, Deadly Orgone Radiation. I will learn their specialized skills and transfer wild boy units to the Western cities. We know that the West will invade Africa and South America in an all-out attempt to crush the guerrilla units. Doktor Kurt Unruh von Steiplatz, in his four-volume treatise on the authority sickness, predicts these latter-day crusades. We will be ready to strike in their cities and to resist in the territories we now hold. Meanwhile we watch and train and wait.
I have a thousand faces and a thousand names. I am nobody I am everybody. I am me I am you. I am here there forward back in out. I stay everywhere I stay nowhere. I stay present I stay absent. Disguise is not a false beard, dyed hair, and plastic surgery. Disguise is clothes and bearing and behavior that leaves no questions unanswered... American tourist with a wife he calls "Mother"... old queen on the make... dirty beatnik... marginal film producer... Every article of my luggage and clothing is carefully planned to create a certain impression. Behind this impression I can operate without interference for a time. Just so long, and long enough. So I walk down Boulevard Pasteur handing out money to guides and shoe-shine boys. And that is only one of the civic things I did. I bought one of those souvenir matchlocks clearly destined to hang over a false fireplace in West Palm Beach, Florida, and I carried it around wrapped in brown paper with the muzzle sticking out. I made inquiries at the Consulate:
"Now Mother and I would like to know."
And "Mother and I would like to know" in American Express and the Minzah pulling wads of money out of my pocket "How much shall I give them?" I asked the vice-consul, for a horde of guides had followed me into the Consulate. "I wonder if you've met my congressman Joe Link?"
Nobody gets through my cover, I assure you. There is no better cover than a nuisance and a bore. When you see my cover you don't look further. You look the other way fast. For use on any foreign assignment there is nothing like the old reliable American tourist cameras and fight meters slung all over him.
"How much shall I give him, Mother?"
I can sidle up to any old bag, she nods and smiles it's all so familiar "must be that cute man we met on the plane over from Gibraltar Captain Clark welcomes you aboard and he says: 'Now what's this form? I don't read Arabic.' Then he turns to me and says 'Mother I need help.' And I show him how to fill out the form and after that he would come up to me on the street this cute man so helpless bobbing up everywhere."
"What's he saying, Mother?"
"I think he wants money."
"They all do." He turns to an army of beggars, guides, shoe-shine boys, and whores of all sexes and makes an ineffectual gesture.
"Go away! Scram off!"
"One dirhem Meester."
"You want beeg one Meester?"
And the old settlers pass on the other side. No they don't get through my cover. And I have a lot of special numbers for emergency use... Character with wild eyes that spin in little circles believes trepanning is the last answer pull you into a garage and try to do the job with an electric drill straight away.
"Now if you'll kindly take a seat here."
"Say what is this?"
"All over ina minute and you'll be out of that rigid cranium."
So word goes out stay away from that one. You need him like a hole in the head. I have deadly old-style bores who are translating the Koran into Provençal or constructing a new cosmology based on "brain breathing." And the animal lover with exotic pets. The CIA man looks down with moist suspicious brow at the animal in his lap. It is a large ocelat its claws pricking into his flesh, and every time he tries to shove it away the animal growls and digs in. I won't be seeing that Bay of Pigs again.
So I give myself a week on the build-up and make contact. Colonel Bradly knows the wild boys better than any man in Africa. In fact he has given his whole life to youth and, it would seem, gotten something back. There is talk of the devil's bargain and in fact he is indecently young looking for a man of sixty odd. As the Colonel puts it with engaging candor:
"The world is not my home you understand here on young people."
We have lunch on the terrace of his mountain house. A heavily wooded garden with pools and paths stretches down to a cliff over the sea. Lunch is turbot in cream sauce, grouse, wild asparagus, peaches in wine. Quite a change from the grey cafeteria food I have been subjected to in Western cities where I pass myself off a one of the faceless apathetic citizens searched and questioned by the police on every corner, set upon by brazen muggers, stumbling home to my burglarized apartment to find the narcotics squad going through my medicine chest again. We are served by a lithe young Malay with bright red gums. Colonel Bradly jabs a fork at him.
"Had a job getting that dish through immigration. The Consulate wasn't at all helpful." After lunch we settle down to discuss my assignment.
"The wild boys are an overflow from North African cities that started in 1969. The uneasy Spring of 1969 in Marrakech. Spring in Marrakech is always uneasy each day a little hotter knowing what Marrakech can be in August. That Spring gasoline gangs prowled the rubbish heaps, alleys, and squares of the city dousing just anybody with gasoline and setting that person on fire. They rush in anywhere nice young couple sitting in their chintzy middle-class living room when hello yes hello the gas boys rush in douse them head to foot with a pump fire extinguisher full of gasoline, and I got some good pictures from a closet where I had prudently taken refuge. Shot of the boy who lit the match he let the rank and file slosh his couple then he lit a Swan match face young pure pitiless as the cleansing fire brought the match close enough to catch the fumes. Then he lit a Player with the same match sucked the smoke in and smiled he was listening to the screams and I thought my God what a cigarette ad: Clam bake on a beach the BOY there with a match. He is looking at two girls in bikinis. As he lights the match they lean forward with a LUCKYSTRIKE CHESTERFIEIDOLDGOLDCAMELPLAYER in the bim and give a pert little salute. The BOY turned out to be the hottest property in advertising. Enigmatic smile on the delicate young face. Just what is the BOY looking at? We had set out to sell cigarettes or whatever else we were paid to sell. The BOY was too hot to handle. Temples were erected to the BOY and there were posters of his face seventy feet high and all the teenagers began acting like the BOY looking at you with a dreamy look, lips parted over the Wheaties. They all bought BOY shirts and BOY knives running around like wolf packs, burning looting killing it spread everywhere all that summer in Marrakech the city would light up at night human torches flickering on walls, trees, fountains all very romantic you could map the dangerous areas sitting on your balcony under the stars sipping a Scotch. I looked across the square and watched a tourist burning in blue fire they had gasoline that burned in all colors by them... (He turned on the projector and stepped to the edge of the balcony)... Just look at them out there all those little figures dissolving in light. Rather like fairy land isn't it except for the smell of gasoline and burning flesh.
"Well they called in a strong man Colonel Arachnid Ben Driss who cruised the city in trucks rounded up the gas boys took them outside the walls shaved their heads and machine-gunned them. Survivors went underground or took to the deserts and the mountains where they evolved different ways of life and modes of combat."
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Posted by adi11235 on May 29th, 2007
Dear Ms. Sheehan,
You have recently written an entry in your diary which, if you’ll pardon me the metaphor, hands in your resignation to the anti-war movement. Even though I have not gone through the same experiences, I strongly sympathize with everything you say in it, and I think I may help clarify some things you might not yet be aware of.
Your thoughtful disillusionment with left-wing and right-wing politics echoes the feeling that other reasonable people, who desire change for the better but realize that politics is always the same song-and-dance, are eventually faced with. You are far from being alone.
To me, the most poignant passage in your entry is this:
The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think.
You, and at least three thousand other mothers of soldiers, as well as tens of thousands of Iraqi mothers, are justified in demanding justice. But such justice will never be granted you by the government, whether it be Republican or Democrat.
Sending young men to their deaths for the interests of the ruling class is a phenomena that has existed for as long as government has existed as a concept. Every empire, from the Roman Empire to the British Empire to the current “America, World Police,” has had its millions of youths willing to spill their own blood for their “homeland,” indoctrinated in believing in their “homeland” from day one.
You probably understand the impossibility of getting justice for the war through politics by now. Neither will the end of these unjust wars be granted, even when the Iraq War itself eventually ends. The fact of the matter is this:
Political means cannot give lasting freedom. All that can be achieved by political means is the sustenance of political means (in short: politics can only create more politics).
I do not blame you from not knowing this from the onset, as most people have been indoctrinated into believing that the only avenue for change is to “work within the system.” I also used to believe in “working the system.” However, no successful ideology or movement has ever achieved any lasting freedom through doing so, because the ruling class is always in control.
You say you want “peace with justice.” This is a laudable goal, and I agree with you. In your tumultuous association with the peace movement, have you found anyone who was actually willing to understand the root causes of war, and how to eradicate them? Or did you only find people willing to agitate against war, but with no binding force or principle?
I am sure you have thought about the causes of war. I can’t vouch for your reflexions on the topic. I will tell you what I know. There are many factors that cause war, and most of these are outside anyone’s reach. But I can point to one necessary and crucial cause that we can change: government power. And who says government, says taxation.
The 20th Century proved, if you were paying any attention, that taxation is the great enemy of civilization. How do you think Hitler paid for that army? With voluntary contributions? How did Stalin pay for the Gulag Archipelago? With baked goods sales? James Ostrowski
Everyone is forced to comply and finance these wars, whether they like them or not, by taxation. By monopolizing the resources in a society, government has the power of waging war on a grand scale, in the name of interests which otherwise would not waste the money needed for such actions. Government has the power of luring our youth with free educations in order to do its bidding, or outright enslave them for a period of time (through the draft).
Activists love the government because they want to manipulate its power to their advantage. So it is a very hard fact to face for peace activists, but an inescapable fact, that government is necessary for large-scale war. Anyone who desires peace as a primary value of society must realize that lasting peace can only be achieved if there is no government.
In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful. Leo Tolstoy (Christian Anarchist)
As a Market Anarchist, I believe that government, as the monopoly on law and force in a society, exploits people’s resources, children and moral integrity in the name of wars that only benefit itself and its powerful friends. I also believe that the only way to prevent governance abuse is to have a free competition of governance, on the market.
Right now, those who govern us are held accountable to no one. They will never be held accountable unless they have equally powerful competitors able to use the law to get recourse for the victims. They will never be held accountable until we can choose not support them, and support someone else instead, leaving us free to live our lives the way we intend.
It would be absurd for anyone to cooperate with their enemies (the ruling class) in order to try to achieve change! And yet that is what most peace activists do. The ideology of peace, like any other ideology or movement, can only be achieved by disengagement and principled resistance.
All successful improvements in man’s freedom and understanding have been brought about by such means. No positive movement in history has ever succeeded by any other means. And disengagement and principled resistance against government and its criminal monopoly is what we advocate.
You may think that the concepts we advocate sound radical. However, I truly believe they are the only solution to the problem of war. Historically, Market Anarchist societies did not wage war on other societies, simply because war is too costly to wage if you have to bear the cost yourself, and you can’t steal from others or enslave them in order to wage wars for you. Until we understand that having a monopoly of force able to finance war by stealing from our own pockets and enslaving our children is a bad idea, we will never solve the problem of war.
I hope I have been able to clarify some things for you, and perhaps spark some interest in our growing movement. Either way, good luck to you in your future endeavors.
Originally posted at Franc Tremblay’s blog. I give it a 10/10.
Cindy Sheehan leaving the Democratic Party should not come as a surprise. It is believed that she intended to run against Diane Feinstein in the California Democratic Primary but the “progressive” thugs of the party, namely Boxer, Pelosi, and others, convinced her otherwise. They put Party loyalty and Feinstein’s husband’s financial interests (armaments) over principles. Sheehan’s weakness was emblematic of the Party she had hoped would come to the rescue and end this war.
For many wavering Party loyalists, the recent Congressional capitulation to the President?s war plans is the final straw. As David Vest said regarding the evil in choosing one party over the other, it is like being “asked to choose between the village idiot and someone who’s consistently outsmarted by him.”
What choices do Democrats have now? Those who put Party loyalty over principle will clearly stay with their party hoping against hope that the Democrats will redeem themselves. But like waiting for the mythical messiah, or Godot, that will never happen. The alternative choices are simple. Register Green Party, Socialist, Independent, or tear up one?s voter registration card. Forming another party is way too burdensome and expensive, although strong arguments can be made that this country is ripe for such a move.
Missing from the calculus would be that leaving the Democratic Party would give us a right wing in control of all. That’s already here, thanks in large part to the Democrats. Remember when the strongest (but still wrong) argument for not voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 was that a Republican win would give us a right wing Supreme Court? Nader was probably finishing off his “The Seventeen Traditions” when the Democrats gave us Alito and Roberts without a filibuster. We can thank the Democrats for elevating Condi Rice to Secretary of State, rather than turning her over to The Hague for War Crimes. And to most establishment Democrats, Colin Powell still stirs admiration in their hearts and they wish he were one of them. He is. He just has an “R” next to his name.
On issues as labor (secretive free trade agreements lauded by the Chamber of Commerce), immigration, and refusing to support real universal health care with a Single Payer system, the Democrats have no argument left for why progressive should be in their corner. There is no corner in a circle and the Democrats have gone full circle to embrace the tenets of Republicanism.
How ironic that some think the savior of the Democratic Party is someone like Al Gore. Many people foolishly are wishing for him to enter the race. Michael Moore is one of them, as he implied it on Real Time with Bill Maher. The one person least deserving of the presidency is Gore. Not only did he not fight for the theft of his election in 2000, but he never lifted a finger to fight the disenfranchisement of thousands of black Floridians. He wrote an excellent environmental book before becoming VP, (Earth in the Balance), and produced an Academy Award movie on the environment (An Inconvenient Truth) after he left office. Too bad when he had real power as Vice President he was an environmental bastard. As one who has been part of the problem for decades, it is galling that he questions what is wrong with our politics today.
Cindy Sheehan has been known as the Peace Mom. She helped to establish an atmosphere where attacking the war, from its conception to its operations, is only an act of treason to the Fox network and their toadies, like Rudy Guliani. Perhaps she can be a trend setter in the political arena. Leaving the Democratic Party certainly is hard for many, but how can one look at oneself in the mirror if they don’t?Myles Hoenig is the campaign manager for Ed Boyd, Green Party candidate for Governor of Maryland, 2006. He can be reached at email@example.com. *** http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=local&id=5347277
Cindy Sheehan Quits Anti-War ActivismFeels Betrayed, Leaving Democratic PartyVirginia Pearcy, anti-war activist:
"I think Cindy is leading the way to show us that the answer to ending this home is not going to be found in the Democratic Party, it's not going to be found in the Republican party, and so we're going to have to look elsewhere."
Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.
We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh.
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.
One-woman waterfall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair
Collects her motions into shape.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Jane Roberts - The Seth Video - Part 1/3
Jane Roberts - The Seth Video - Part 2/3
Jane Roberts - The Seth Video - Part 3/3
The quick-silver mind of William James — “incandescent, tormented, mercurial” were his wife’s words for a scientist and philosopher who fancied chaos, chance and direct experience — leaps off the page of Robert Richardson’s new biography. Not a surprise, really, from either man. We have stomped the Concord trails of Thoreau and Emerson with Bob Richardson; to be with him is to feel the glow of his “minds on fire.” In William James’s case it’s the reckless, ever-experimental energy, what novelist Henry James remembered from boyhood as “my brother’s signal vivacity and cordiality, his endless spontaneity of mind.”
[Courtesy of William James Society ]
Just to remind you, James was first among the Harvard faculty giants a century ago, a man who’d tutored Teddy Roosevelt, W. E. B. DuBois and Gertrude Stein, a famous international lecturer who also dabbled in drugs and mind-bending gases and who, on his death-bed asked his brother Henry to linger in Cambridge for 6 weeks post-mortem, to receive if possible William’s messages from the next world.
Beyond his imprint on canonical learning and common understanding of psychology, philosophy and the study of religion, Robert Richardson writes: “James’s best is often in his unorthodox, half-blind, unpredictable lunges at the great question of how to live, and in this his work sits on the same shelf with Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne, Samuel Johnson and Emerson.”
Robert Richardson says there will always be three reasons to reacquaint ourselves with William James. I would add two more. Please add your own below.
1. James fathered the study of “consciousness,” about the same time Freud (a passing acquaintance) was developing the unconscious. James conceived of mind as a living stream of activity. His emphasis was on the action in consciousness, inseparable from the physiology and chemistry of the individual brain. The elementary fact of mental life “is not thought, or this thought or that thought, but my thought.” James is the source point of the cognitive sciences and the widespread study today of “how the mind works.”
2. William James was the philosopher of “Pragmatism,” i.e. the now old-fashioned American argument that the truth is something that happens to an idea; that the truth of something is the sum of its actual results. As in his psychology (where he argued: the child is not crying because she’s unhappy; she’s unhappy because she is crying), Pragmatism put the focus on the “fruits, not the roots” of ideas and feelings. President McKinley’s annexation of the Philippines, for example, demonstrated American Imperialism to be a Bad Idea:
… during those three years and more when our army was slaughtering and burning, and famine, fire, disease and depopulation were the new allies we invoked… The most sanguine expect no real assimilation of our prey to us or of us to our prey for fifty years to come, and no one who knows history expects that it can genuinely come at all.
William James, Address on the Phillipine Question, December,1903
3. James was the re-inventor of religion, most especially for the multitudes (then and now) itching to loosen the authority of church and dogma. James created the modern universe of religious studies by shifting the focus from saints, scriptures and creeds toward the actual experiences of individuals — both common and peculiar.
4. As the son and brother of two remarkable Henry Jameses (Sr. and Jr.), William is a human study of endless interest. Growing up in the “gleeful anarchy and high-toned hilarity” of a rich, over-gifted family, eldest-son William felt pressure from his noisy, peripatetic father to be a scientist, and from himself to be an artist. He wrote in a letter from Germany at 16: “I will be prepared for everything.” Will we ever grasp how these James boys (the Good James Boys, as opposed to Frank and Jesse, their contemporary Bad James Boys) came to their enthusiastic mastery of multi-lingual reading, non-stop writing, distillation, argument and style? Richardson is brilliant on another personal secret: the process by which William, near suicide in his mid-twenties, “turned trouble into insight and self-loathing into energy.” James himself wrote later: “Despair lames most people, but it wakes others fully up.”
5. As a prose stylist, William today is arresting, fresh, original and quotable as he ever was — quite as perfect for his own purposes as was Henry, the beloved brother that William never stopped needling for his wordy abstractions in fiction. William James’s sentences have the sound of a man’s voice teaching — and of family-friend Emerson’s rockets going off. As, for example, in the line drawn against Platonism in his essay, “The Stream of Consciousness”:
…A permanently existing ‘Idea’ which makes its appearance before the footlights of consciousness at periodical intervals is as mythological an entity as the Jack of Spades.
William James, The Stream of Consciousness, 1892
When Jimmy Carter in the oil shortage of the 1970s called for “the moral equivalent of war” against a ruinous energy addiction, he was of course drawing on one of William James’s most eloquent, uttlerly ageless essays, a sweeping denunciation of war and at the same time, a paean to military values:
…History is a bath of blood. The Illiad is one long recital of how Diomedes and Ajax, Sarpedon and Hector killed. No detail of the wounds they made is spared us, and the Greek mind fed upon the story. Greek history is a panorama of jingoism and imperialism — war for war’s sake, all the citizens being warriors. It is horrible reading — because of the irrationality of it all — save for the purpose of making “history” — and the history is that of the utter ruin of a civilization in intellectual respects perhaps the highest the earth has ever seen…
…All these beliefs of mine put me firmly into the anti-military party. But I do not believe that peace either ought to be or will be permanent on this globe, unless the states, pacifically organized, preserve some of the old elements of army-discipline. A permanently successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy. In the more or less socialistic future toward which mankind seems drifting we must still subject ourselves collectively to those severities which answer to our real position upon this only partly hospitable globe. We must make new energies and hardihoods continue the manliness to which the military mind so faithfully clings. Martial virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon which states are built — unless, indeed, we wish for dangerous reactions against commonwealths, fit only for contempt, and liable to invite attack whenever a centre of crystallization for military-minded enterprise gets formed anywhere in their neighborhood.
William James, The Moral Equivalent of War, 1910
I think of William James as he thought of John Stuart Mill, “whom my fancy likes to picture as our leader were he alive today.” Or, as the philosopher George Santayana thought of his colleague. William James, Santayana said,
…kept his mind and heart wide open to all that might seem to polite minds, odd, personal, or visionary in religion and philosophy. He gave a sincerely respectful hearing to sentimentalists, wizards, cranks, quacks and imposters… He thought, with his usual modesty, that any of these might have something to teach him…. Thus, William James became the friend and helper of those groping, nervous, half-educated, spiritually disinherited, passionately hungry individuals of which America is full.
George Santayna, Winds of Doctrine, quoted in Richardson’s William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism, page 160.
I think of William James, in short, as our mightiest, most inclusive American mind, still amongst us with an almost neighborly familiarity. Where shall the conversation begin?
By Rowan Wolf
A couple of week’s ago, a young woman in nothern
The stoning of Doaa Aswad Dekhil of Bashika, aged 17, is tragic in a place that is supposedly becoming “democratic,” but it is consistent with the ongoing segregation of women’s personhood and so called “human rights. This deterioration is expanding. A student of mine from
Women, please be patient
It seems that everywhere there are struggles for freedom and equality women are told to be patient.
There is a logical fallacy in the argument that “womens’ rights” somehow are second to liberation. In the
Somehow, consistently, women’s conditions are subordinated to, and considered less fundamental than, the “people’s conditions.” When these kinds of distinctions are made, who then are the “people?” If you extract women’s equality and participation from the collectivity of “people,” what remains are men. Men’s concerns and conditions; men’s freedom and equality; men throwing off the yoke of “oppression;” men creating another society (or reshaping society) for the “people,” and people equals men.
If there is active concern for the full participation of various ethnic and religious groups within
The simple answer is that patriarchy systematically excludes women - whether that is the patriarchy of
Excluding women from the processes of the society, especially the reconstruction of societies, seems doomed to recreating the same structures over and over again. Some would argue that this is a cultural issue, and certainly culture plays a huge part in this, but there is something bigger than culture. Certainly in
So I posit the radical notion that the denial of rights and oppression of women is equally important as the denial of rights and the oppression of any other group in a society. Underlying this notion is that women ARE those other groups and one cannot separate them out from “the rest of the population” seeking a better life.Articles of interest
Where are Iraq’s Women? Westcott, BBC, 5/08/03.
Iraq: Women’s Rights Put on Hold, Pejman, IPS, 10/04/03.
WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN: A human rights catastrophe Amnesty International 1995.
The Plight of the Afghan Women,
Beaten, Abused, Chained. This is One Afghan Woman’s ‘Liberation’ Monakhov, Observer/UK, 10/05/03
Dear Democratic Congress by CindySheehan Sat May 26, 2007 at 07:03:16 AM PDT
May 26, 2007 Dublin, Ireland
Dear Democratic Congress,
Hello, my name is Cindy Sheehan and my son Casey Sheehan was killed on April 04, 2004 in Sadr City , Baghdad , Iraq . He was killed when the Republicans still were in control of Congress. Naively, I set off on my tireless campaign calling on Congress to rescind George’s authority to wage his war of terror while asking him "for what noble cause" did Casey and thousands of other have to die. Now, with Democrats in control of Congress, I have lost my optimistic naiveté and have become cynically pessimistic as I see you all caving into as one Daily Kos poster called: "Mr. 28%"
* CindySheehan's diary :: :: *
There is absolutely no sane or defensible reason for you to hand Bloody King George more money to condemn more of our brave, tired, and damaged soldiers and the people of Iraq to more death and carnage. You think giving him more money is politically expedient, but it is a moral abomination and every second the occupation of Iraq endures, you all have more blood on your hands.
Ms. Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said after George signed the new weak as a newborn baby funding authorization bill: "Now, I think the president’s policy will begin to unravel." Begin to unravel? How many more of our children will have to be killed and how much more of Iraq will have to be demolished before you all think enough unraveling has occurred? How many more crimes will BushCo be allowed to commit while their poll numbers are crumbling before you all gain the political "courage" to hold them accountable. If Iraq hasn’t unraveled in Ms. Pelosi’s mind, what will it take? With almost 700,000 Iraqis dead and four million refugees (which the US refuses to admit) how could it get worse? Well, it is getting worse and it can get much worse thanks to your complicity.
Being cynically pessimistic, it seems to me that this new vote to extend the war until the end of September, (and let’s face it, on October 1st, you will give him more money after some more theatrics, which you think are fooling the anti-war faction of your party) will feed right into the presidential primary season and you believe that if you just hang on until then, the Democrats will be able to re-take the White House. Didn’t you see how "well" that worked for John Kerry in 2004 when he played the politics of careful fence sitting and pandering? The American electorate are getting disgusted with weaklings who blow where the wind takes them while frittering away our precious lifeblood and borrowing money from our new owners, the Chinese.
I knew having a Democratic Congress would make no difference in grassroots action. That’s why we went to DC when you all were sworn in to tell you that we wanted the troops back from Iraq and BushCo held accountable while you pushed for ethics reform which is quite a hoot...don’t’ you think? We all know that it is affordable for you all to play this game of political mayhem because you have no children in harm’s way...let me tell you what it is like:
You watch your reluctant soldier march off to a war that neither you nor he agrees with. Once your soldier leaves the country all you can do is worry. You lie awake at night staring at the moon wondering if today will be the day that you get that dreaded knock on your door. You can’t concentrate, you can’t eat, and your entire life becomes consumed with apprehension while you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Then, when your worst fears are realized, you begin a life of constant pain, regret, and longing. Everyday is hard, but then you come up on "special" days...like upcoming Memorial Day. Memorial Day holds double pain for me because, not only are we supposed to honor our fallen troops, but Casey was born on Memorial Day in 1979. It used to be a day of celebration for us and now it is a day of despair. Our needlessly killed soldiers of this war and the past conflict in Vietnam have all left an unnecessary trail of sorrow and deep holes of absence that will never be filled.
So, Democratic Congress, with the current daily death toll of 3.72 troops per day, you have condemned 473 more to these early graves. 473 more lives wasted for your political greed: Thousands of broken hearts because of your cowardice and avarice. How can you even go to sleep at night or look at yourselves in a mirror? How do you put behind you the screaming mothers on both sides of the conflict? How does the agony you have created escape you? It will never escape me...I can’t run far enough or hide well enough to get away from it.
By the end of September, we will be about 80 troops short of another bloody milestone: 4000, and MoveOn.org will hold nationwide candlelight vigils and you all will be busy passing legislation that will snuff the lights out of thousands more human beings.
Congratulations Congress, you have bought yourself a few more months of an illegal and immoral bloodbath. And you know you mean to continue it indefinitely so "other presidents" can solve the horrid problem BushCo forced our world into.
It used to be George Bush’s war. You could have ended it honorably. Now it is yours and you all will descend into calumnious history with BushCo.
The Camp Casey Peace Institute is calling all citizens who are as disgusted as we are with you all to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe harbor.
We do not condone our government’s violent meddling in sovereign countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq .
We gave you a chance, you betrayed us.
Sincerely, Cindy Sheehan Founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace.
Founder and Director of The Camp Casey Peace Institute
Eternally grieving mother of Casey Sheehan
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
“By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!” – George H.W. Bush
US Congressional Democrats, in “a wrenching reversal,” backed down on their demand for a timetable on the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.1 It flies in the face of the electoral will of Americans expressed in 2006, and it exposes, again, who the master of the Democratic Party is.
The mere fact that US occupation forces, British occupation forces, client states’ scanty give-a-veneer-of-coalition forces, and mercenaries are still being repulsed in Iraq by lightly armed guerrilla fighters, that the bombardment of the “safe” Green Zone is increasing, that Basra is spiraling, that the “surge” is sputtering, and that the US-UK are looking for a way out not of their choosing or timing, is clear evidence that the “war” is lost. It demonstrates a limitation of the hyperpower: it can wreak destruction from afar, but it is vulnerable when it attempts to impose occupation.
So what prevents the US from immediately pulling its troops completely out from Iraq?
With the end of the Bush administration approaching, Republicans are interested in preserving party fortunes and Bush is scrambling for a face-saving presidential legacy. The self-proclaimed war president dug a Sisyphean hole for himself when he foolishly declared the aggression against Iraq to be a mission accomplished. It is not just an invasion-occupation lost in Iraq; there is also the invasion-occupation that is also lost in Afghanistan. The neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century laid out its military policy in the paper “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” which warned that “even a small failure like that in Somalia or a halting and incomplete triumph as in the Balkans can cast doubt on American credibility.”2
For the Democrats, a troop withdrawal timetable would have hamstrung candidates running for the presidency. It would have put them at odds with their campaign funders (many from the Jewish lobby who support aggression in the Middle East) and the US voters (who now favor removing the forces from Iraq).
What Bush Jr. has done is bring back in full force what his father claimed to have vanquished forever: Vietnam syndrome. A resurrected Vietnam Syndrome will hinder American militaristic ambitions.
Despite the fact that the imperialistic invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are failed, Washington feels compelled to persist. There is so much at stake:
• control of oil. Imagine the shock among US oil oligarchs at seeing the oil in Iran and Iraq being under predominantly Shi’a control • the future of permanent US bases in Iraq. It will be interesting to see how these bases without US forces would be explained • lessons learned: resistance is not futile. Opponents of western imperialism know to develop a deterrent defense, that US occupation forces can be defied and defeated • a potential backlash at the Jewish lobby that goaded the US regime to attack Iraq and is pressing for an attack on Iran • implications for the Zionist occupation of Palestine: will the US continue to pursue a Israel-Palestine policy that supports the theft of land from Palestinians and slow-motion genocide against them? What will the defeat of US occupations forces in Iraq and Israeli occupation forces in south Lebanon portend for the the Zionist occupation of Palestine? • the power of the corporate-political duopoly. Halliburton, Bechtel, and the military-industrial complex profited immensely from unleashing US violence abroad. In the meantime, wealth has been further concentrated among the wealthy few while social programs have been gutted. Will the shrinking middle class and expanding poor classes remain quiescent? • the continued domination of the corporate-political duopoly. The Democrats have stood steadfastly during the Bush presidency behind the Republicans’ malapropistic “war on terrorism.”
What is palpable is that there are negligible differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party regarding corporation-driven and Zionist imperialisms. The two parties are colluding, and, hence, they can be regarded as the same.3
It is clear that Saddam Hussein was duped into attacking Iran and bleeding both countries for eight years. This belligerent policy served naught domestically in the US. But it served US corporate-political and Zionist purposes. Later, the Iraqi government was presented with a false green light to attack Kuwait, which was pressuring Iraq for a speedy repayment of loans used to fight Iran (something that served Kuwaiti oligarchic interests as well) and also, reportedly, slant drilling into Iraq’s Ramallah oil field. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait presented the contrived opportunity for president H.W. Bush to punt Vietnam Syndrome — with the aid of a 28-country coalition.
The Republican administration strong-armed UN Security Council backing for a resolution imposing a punishing disarmament and sanctions regime on Iraq. The Democratic administration of Bill Clinton did not waver an iota on the lethal sanctions regime; US official Madeleine Albright even admitted that the killing of half-a-million Iraqi children was worth attaining US foreign policy goals.
It is transparent that there is little to distinguish Democrats from Republicans on a most substantive matter: aggressive foreign policy. US foreign policy terrorizes, tortures, and violently kills people abroad. This policy did not begin with the “war on terrorism.” It has been around for a long time and is central to US hegemonic aspirations throughout history up to today.4
People who viewed the Republican party, especially while “led” by George W. Bush, as a great evil, identified the logical recourse to be voting for the Democratic Party, reasoning that whatever pain the Democrats inflicted on others would be less than Republican-inflicted pain: something akin to a quick death versus a lingering death. In the end the victim is dead anyway.
The tactics used to prevent or hinder the candidacy of third party contender Ralph Nader in 2004 was condemnatory of the Democrats. What kind of presidential slate did the Democrats offer? A man who vowed to boost troop levels and did nothing to placate the antiwar population. Even the propeace candidate Dennis Kucinich did an about-face and pledged solidarity to his warmongering leader John Kerry.
A Democratic Party breakthrough came in 2006 when they regained the Congress and Senate over public disaffection with US troops dying and being maimed in Iraq. Deluded people expected a change of course, that Democrats would parlay the antiwar sentiment to buttress their chances for a breakthrough in 2008.
Progressives see little attraction in the Republican Party. However, on the flip side of the corporate duopoly, Americans and the world public are presented with the bathos of Democratic presidential contenders prostrating themselves before the Mammon of the Jewish lobby. These candidates mouth platitudes of undying fealty to a foreign state, a state spawned through ethnic cleansing (similar to the US) that cares little for the US that provides sophisticated weaponry and generously pumps billions of dollars into it.5 The US wields its UN Security Council veto in a most irresponsible and self-damaging manner to protect the serial violations of human rights by Israel. This Israel-centric foreign policy means continuing the occupation of Iraq and not “taking anything off the table” regarding Iran.
The foreseeable result: Iraq Syndrome will be indelibly stamped on the American consciousness for years to come.
in November 2007, the American voter will be presented an option. A vote for either the Republicans or Democrats will, in effect, be a prowar vote. For peace to prevail in the policy of the United States, lesser evilism must be consigned to the political scrap heap. Only a propeace “third” party will set the US on a new path. Outside of a revolution, the election of a propeace “third” party is the only feasible direction on the horizon for Americans truly interested in steering their country toward peace and restoring the ensanguined US reputation.
Caitlin Snaring of Redmond, Washington, is the new National Geographic Bee champion.
The home schooled eighth grader won by knowing which Vietnamese city, split by a river with the same name, was an imperial capital for more than a century. (Answer: Hue.) Snaring is only the second girl to win the national championship, and the first since 1990.
"I knew that I had the upper hand today," Snaring, who faced off with nine boys to claim the top spot, told National Geographic News.
"I saw every answer in my head."
(Video: Watch the final round.)
Following the competition, she was presented with the first place prize: a $25,000 U.S. college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.
Suneil Iyer of Kansas battled Snaring through the final round, but finally had to settle for second place and a $15,000 scholarship award.
Mark Arildsen of Tennessee took third place with a $10,000 scholarship.
Snaring emerged as the sole survivor out of more than five million fourth to eighth graders who participated in National Geographic Bee competitions nationwide.
Moderated as always by Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek, the bee finals were held yesterday and today at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.Bee rules allow each contestant to get one wrong answer before being eliminated on their second miss. Snaring was the only contestant to not miss a single question either day.
"It [has] taken years, but there's a girl up here," Trebek said as he called Snaring to the stage to receive her award.
Each of the top three finishers had competed in the national finals before.
Ten of the 55 contestants had been state champions in previous years, and 7 of those 10 survived elimination and made it into Wednesday's championship round.
The three first-time state champions to reach the finals were Solomon Mayer of Kentucky, Tyler Bowen of Oklahoma, and Benjamin Taylor of West Virginia.
All three were eliminated in the fifth round of questions, leaving only the more experienced contestants to vie for the championship.
Andrew Lee of Alaska stumbled in round seven.
Lee's question: Burushaski, a language isolate—meaning that it is not related to any other known languages—is spoken in the Gilgit District of what country containing part of the Karakoram Range? (Answer: Pakistan.)
In round nine, remaining finalists were given a series of five place names. Four were related in some way, and contestants had to name the one that did not belong and also state why.
Colorado's Antonio de la Peña failed to single out Adelaide as a city in South Australia, listed among four other cities in Queensland state.
Arildsen missed noting that the Nubian Desert is in Africa. The four other deserts listed are in Asia.
And Puerto Rico's Francisco Vargas was eliminated by not naming the Cook Strait as the only one of the five straits mentioned not located in the Northern Hemisphere.
That left only Snaring and Iyer in contention for the championship. But first, a tense elimination round for third place was held among de la Peña, Arildsen, and Vargas.
After de la Peña faltered early, Arildsen and Vargas each answered a series of questions correctly.
Finally, Vargas faltered on the following question: The Ogaden is a dry, sparsely populated region that was fought over by Ethiopia and what bordering country in the 1970s? (Answer: Somalia.)
To claim the championship, Snaring finally wore down Iyer by answering all of her final questions correctly:
• What is the Arabic term for a valley in the hot desert areas of northern Africa and the Middle East that carries a stream occasionally? (Answer: wadi.)
• In late March 2007, Protestant and Catholic political leaders from Northern Ireland agreed to form a power-sharing government that took effect in early May 2007. The leaders met in what city that lies at the mouth of the Lagan River? (Answer: Belfast.)
• The second largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa is also the richest Portuguese-speaking country in Africa. Name this country. (Answer: Angola.)
• Lampedusa, an island whose geographical location has made it a target for illegal immigrants seeking to enter the European Union from Africa, is administered by which country? (Answer: Italy.)
• A city that is divided by a river of the same name was the imperial capital of Vietnam for more than a century. Name this city, which is still an important cultural center. (Answer: Hue.)
Traci Snaring, Caitlins mother, said that after last year's competition, she asked her daughter if she really wanted to go through the pressure of competing again. But Caitlin had made up her mind.
"She took one day off after the bee last year, and then she started studying," Traci Snaring said.
Asked if she could explain the lack of girls among the bee finalists, Caitlin Snaring said she thought many were more attracted by spelling bees.
"For all you girls out there who like spelling," the champion said, "you might want to try geography, too."
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