Sunday, October 31, 2004

New Integral Wiki link:

Friday, October 22, 2004

Updated link to The Integral Wikipedia (old link died).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Twentieth century art is like the dark ages. Not that it's bad -- quite the opposite.

In his book Nonzero, Robert Wright describes how the Greco-Roman republican system was democratic only at the very top. Only Greek men were citizens -- slaves and women existed only to serve the citizenry. Similarly, vast numbers of citizens existed only to serve the Roman nobility.

During the dark ages, this order was overthrown. It was then taken up by its conquerors, the German tribes, who, over the next thousand years, developed into the Renaissance Europeans. With the American and French Revolutions, the ideals of equality and equal representation were extended to all white men, and then (with universal sufferage) to all white people, and eventually (with the abolition of slavery) equally to all humans. The democratic order had been extended to the entire species.

Art around the turn of the century, like the Zeigfeld follies or the ceiling of the Congress Hotel in Chicago, has a certain sublimity that we now look back on as naive and pretentious. It was the height of the old, nineteenth century European order. In the twentieth century, with the garishness of Hollywood, Blues, Jazz, Elvis Preseley, Rock & Roll, etc., this nineteenth century European unity was overthrown. The great hierarchy of art was democratized, extended from being the realm of the European Elites to the rest of humanity. It moved into a wider, more inclusive order.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 12:03 PM
Subject: RE: To underscore my point

I could not disagree with you more. You are holding your nose while you vote for John Kerry -- why? Because he's a politician?

It is the right who, after losing the popular vote, have governed like the country consists of Republicans; as if the Democrats were the Greens or the Communists. And since Clinton was elected, they have proven again and again that what they want is power at any cost, that principles exist only to be broken, and that given the choice to win at the expense of the country or the constitution, they wouldn't think twice. It is clear that in the hands of Cheney, Scalia, DeLay, Perle, Rumsfeld, and the rest, that their fiscal as well as their social conservativism are nothing but Straussian Noble Lies to keep the masses in line. Unfortunately, it is not only working with the masses. Don't look to Augustine or Calvin for these people's true motivating philosophy. Look to Nixon and Machiavelli.

George W. Bush's great accomplishment, much to my chagrin, has been to convert people like me who would like to be centrists, into liberals. To make it almost plausible that the government was complicit in the September 11th attacks. To divide the country ideologically has been their explicit strategy since Goldwater. And they are very good at it. Thus the gay-bashing amendment. Thus the flag-burning amendment. In fact, I would go so far as to say, thus the invasion of Iraq. Invading and occupying an irrelevant country -- what policy could be better designed to divide this country in half, and to give George Bush the larger half? It is not the bloggers who have divided this country. It is the politicians on whom the bloggers are reporting.

You are acting just like the newspaper reporters are. You want to have a balanced view, when the two sides are not remotely balanced. If Kerry stretches the number of tax cuts he voted for in response to Bush successfully and with impunity libeling Kerry for six months and to the tune of half a billion dollars worth of TV ads, not to mention deliberately taking the country to war on false grounds, lying to Congress, the public, the UN, to our allies, and to the think that that is cause for concern about John Kerry? I don't. About a month ago, John Kerry was losing this race. And he was losing it because of the success of the right-wing smear machine. His fortunes reversed after the first debate because the people who watched it were expecting the good-for-nothing liar that had been depicted by the RNC and the ads. The person who showed up for the debates had no resemblance to John Kerry the serial flip-flopper that they knew and hated.

People still don't trust John Kerry. But not because of his record, which nobody knows; it's because of the Swift Boat liars. I'm glad that they're not on my side. There is now a very clear difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. The difference is that the Democrat fanatics are throwing bricks through the windows of Starbuck's, while the Republican fanatics are crafting policy. I doubt that there is any number of pointless wars, innocent casualties or ruined lives that would give them pause. I do not think that that is true of John Kerry.

It is stupid for liberals to prate on about Bush's lack of intelligence -- we are merely falling for his John Wayne act -- but that's a tactical issue, not a philosophical one.

Something about this race makes me very pessimistic. Forty years ago, Kennedy had to explicitly say that electing a Catholic didn't mean that the US would cede sovereignty to the Pope. Today, fundamentalist Catholics are trying to get the Catholic church to condemn John Kerry because he doesn't plan to impose on US citizens Catholic doctrine opposing abortion. This is the opposite of progress.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 10:44 AM
Subject: To underscore my point

According to a nonpartisan expert on the Diane Rhem Show this morning, Kerry stretched the truth quite a bit on social security, namely that he would not touch it. It looks like it will have to be monkeyed with at least some. Is this not a cause for concern in your book? I am not going to defend anything Bush said or lied about last night -- that is not my point. I am just talking about politicians and how they all lie and spin. We pick our liars based on what we think is better in the platform. But for someone such as Jane Smiley to say that a vote for Bush is a vote for tyranny is needlessly divisive. The whole trouble comes from the starting point -- philosophically. Ideologically. Smiley would be right if all Americans shared the same ideology. But they don't. Some are with Augustine/Calvin and some are with Rousseau/Dewey. Therein lies the rub.

In such a context Amy Tan's comment that she is voting for Kerry because he and she both have brains amounts to painful naivete in my book. The trouble with liberals is that they are not at all liberal. They think it is tyranny for a president to do what the Constitution gives him the power to do -- if he is conservative. Smiley calls it tyranny when Bush appoints conservative judges. Are we now going to declare these appointments unconstitutionally conservative? Just as Chirac frets that the religious Turks won't fit in with secular Europeans, we wonder if Amy Tan would prefer that all of the stupid conservatives of America move to Turkey.

As Stanley Fish pointed out some years ago in a essay he wrote for Criticism (winter 97?), describing what he called "boutique multiculturalists," many liberals are fine celebrating differences so long as it doesn't come around to serious differences of ideology. In other words, we will take your spicy food but not your thinking about women or abortion, or the death penalty. We love all your quaint dances and ceremonies but when you want to call homosexuality a sin -- pack your bags and get out of town, you brainless fool.

Now, I do not approve of conservatives on the Supreme Court. A six three court probably would have upheld that sodomy law in Texas last year. That would have set us back twenty or thirty years on civil rights for gays. I also don't think Roe should be overturned -- it would not lead to the outlaw of abortions even if it did. But it would be disasterous, nonetheless. But does this mean that I think that it is unlawful or a betrayal of democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution for a Republican president to appoint conservative judges? Absolutely not. The reverse would mean that a democracy is a place only for liberals. It would mean that on very tough human issues there is no possibility for disagreement. And this to me looks like a sort of tyranny. This to me seems like a very irrational place -- a place ruled by the instinctive reaction of those with "brains." For if it were a place governed by reason there would need to be debate and logical arguments and the use of human judgment -- which cannot only be wrong, it must be allowed to disagree about the meaning of the starting points, the first assumptions that we make by faith whenever we look at arguments and evidence.

So I am voting for Kerry. There are too many things that Bush has failed on. The environment for another. But this does not mean that I think all of those who disagree with me are undemocratic and contributing to tyranny.

Until we get rid of blogger black and whites this country will never be able to come together and make progress on real social ills and problems. And one measure of our current dividedness is the smugness of our "intellectuals" for whom name-calling and hyperbole are a matter of course. Whether it is brainlessness, tyranny or a call for another American Revolution (Russell Banks), our intellectuals show themselves to be quick to forfeit the civility and humility of reasoned argument.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Post-conventional ethics in the 2004 election.

Bush's policies reflect pre-conventional ethics, but are diguised as post-conventional. He pretends that his policies are pragmatic and principled, while they are actually self-centered and ethically egoistic.

Meanwhile, Bush has successfully painted Kerry's VVAW activites as pre-conventional while they are actually post-conventional. Because pre-conventional people are unable to distinguish between egotism and integration, the attacks have been largely successful. In fact, since Bush is most likely pre-conventional, he probably falls into this category himself.

More when I figure it out...
"Koi bole Ram Ram Koi Khudai." --Kabir

(loosely, "Some call the creator Ram; some call him Allah.")

I have been thinking about mystical universalism in Aurobindo and its double-origin in Ramakrishna and Hegel.

An important point to remember in this matter is its ultimate origin in the Upanishads and the maintenance of this tradition by Kabir.

Also, because mysticism was respected in India to a far greater degree than in the West, this tradition was always much more prevalent and less underground.

Monday, October 11, 2004

I am stunned! I have now posted at The integral wiki.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

WikIntegral: A call for an integral wiki.

CoolMel, aka Rommel, make a gracious link to my wikipedia page on his blog, which I read regularly.

Wikipedia is great...but I've been thinking...

My contributions to the wikipedia have been somewhat subversive. They haven't exactly abided by the wikipedia policies, which demand that entries strive for a neutral point of view. Obviously, this is an aim, rather than a hard rule, but I can't say that I even try to abide by it. I try to give an integral perspective, which is a particular point of view, and not a common one. In fact, it could seem bizarre or be confusing to the uninitiated.

What needs to happen eventually is a separate Integral wiki. This google search doesn't find one. A space on which everything is re-defined with an eye for the comprehensive, the holistic, the balanced. A space that paints the integral universe. A space in which someone like Aurobindo or Ramana Maharshi will not be treated as Hindu gurus of minor historical importance -- which is how they must be treated on a general wiki -- but instead as the massively influential visionaries that they the integral universe.

All that is physically needed is a server and someone to install and maintain the wiki software. I don't have the technical skills to do that. But I would like to contribute to the content.

Think of it as a blog that is organized alphabetically, rather than chronologically. Maybe the software could even be tweaked to yield a chronological weblog-like view in addition to an alphabetized, encyclopedia-like one.

Wikis are essentially integral. The openness, the synergy, the flexibility, the way that they build on and feed off of energy is unmistakably integral. For these reasons, I believe that an integral wiki will eventually exist. It's time to get started.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Why do we exist?

From The Matrix Reloaded:
The Oracle: Candy?
Neo: D'you already know if I'm going to take it?
The Oracle: Wouldn't be much of an Oracle if I didn't.
Neo: But if you already know, how can I make a choice?
The Oracle: Because you didn't come here to make the choice, you've already made it. You're here to try to understand why you made it. I thought you'd have figured that out by now.
Neo: Why are you here?
The Oracle: Same reason -- I love candy.
In other words, all of your actions in the material world are determined by psychological forces, by physical forces, etc. But that doesn't make life meaningless. On the contrary, you are not here to make decisions. Instead, you are here to meditate on the choices that you make. Life is a sermon for your edification, a koan to aid in your enlightenment.

And God is in the same boat as you. God is being edified by the choices that we, individually and collectively, make. He loves candy -- God simply takes pleasure in experiencing with us how existence is manifested through time. We exist so that God can savor how it feels to be.