Considering the big part played by corporate greed in the run-up to World War II, and the confusion of analysts about U.S. policy in Ukraine, I thought it might be interesting to find out what American corporations have against Vladimir Putin. I found an article on the Global Research website that I’ll share here. It seems if you are American, you can’t defend your own country without defending the devil. Read this.
I’ve been saying that we need to reexamine the influence of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle in politics and religion. As it happens, that conversation is already underway. The following discussion is based on an article about Plato’s influence in Russia. Mikhail Epstein, Professor of Russian and Cultural Theory and Co-Director of the Center for Humanities Innovation, identifies the Russian approach to Plato as the source of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union. However, the Russian experience should have as much meaning for the West as it does for Russia.
He begins by asking, What is philosophy? He answers by saying that although there is no simple, universal definition, the most ‘credible attempt is a nominalistic reference: philosophy is what Plato and Aristotle, Kant and Hegel were occupied with.’ Then he provides what he calls the most broadly cited definition, that of A. Whitehead: ‘philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato.’((Epstein, Mikhail, An Overview of Russian Philosophy. Intelnet. Cited on May 16, 2014. Available: http://www.emory.edu/INTELNET/rus_thought_overview.html))
If this is accepted, he argues, Russian philosophy must be seen as a part of the Western intellectual tradition. Russia, and especially the Soviet Union, has been unique in its literal incarnation of the teachings of Plato. This was made possible by the tendency of Russian thought to ‘philosophize reality, to transform it into a transparent kingdom of ideas.’ In the Soviet Union, this resulted in philosophy becoming a supreme legal and political institution, and ‘in its unrestricted dominion [it] was equivalent to madness.’ However, non-Marxist and anti-Marxist thinkers in Russia belong to the same tradition. The hard-won understanding they achieved in this process can provide an invaluable lesson for the West.
“One might even say that the philosophy of the Soviet epoch is the final stage of the development and embodiment of Plato’s ideas in the Western world. During this stage, the project of ideocracy came to a complete realization and exhausted itself. The czardom of ideas arrived at the threshold of self-destruction because the substance of Being resisted the yoke of idealism, and it is now in the process of returning to its primordial identity. Thus Russian philosophy both summarizes and punctuates more than two thousand years of the Platonic tradition and points the way for a return to foundations which are not susceptible to ideologic perversions.
“A relatively short period of years sums up a two-millenium adventure of Western thought which escorted Plato in his search for the world of pure ideas. Among these footnotes to Plato, Russian philosophy appears to the attentive eye as the final entry, signifying ‘The End’.”
Still, I suppose someone could argue that the problem is not Plato, but one particular approach to Plato. Epstein mentions this as a possibility, but says the question has yet to be answered.
“The question is: Now that Platonism in its Marxist guise, has been overcome by Russian thought, is it still possible to find inspiration in Platonism as such, in its sublime idealistic and religious interpretations? Or does the experience of Russian history convincingly argue that Platonism has exhausted itself as a spiritual resource for humanity and that all attempts to Christianize it are just wishful illusions? (Russia slipped into the pagan version of Platonism, while in the West, Plato’s ideas were Christianized.)
“Whatever the answer may be, it is indisputable that the ongoing relevance of Platonism for Russian thought will provide the ground for its intensive dialogue with…Western philosophy also rooted in Plato’s heritage.”((Epstein, Mikhail, The Phoenix of Philosophy: On the Meaning and Significance of Contemporary Russian Thought. Intelnet. Cited May 16, 2014. Avaliable: http://www.emory.edu/INTELNET/ar_phoenix_philosophy.html))
Previously I said that it was Putin’s turn to respond to Ukraine’s attempts to restore harmony. Recently he has demonstrated his good intentions. He sent a special envoy, Vladimir Lukin, to the region to help facilitate the release of international military observers being held in Slovyansk. He’s also called for dialogue between Kiev and the separatists. ((Ukraine Resumes Operations Against Separatists, Stratfor Global Intelligence. May 2, 2014. Available: http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/ukraine-resumes-operations-against-separatists))
According to one analyst, the framework of the Geneva Accord still has the potential to promote peace, in spite of the fact that it appears to have broken down. ((Pro-Russian Separatism Poses a Threat in Eastern Ukraine. Stratfor Global Intelligence, May 1, 2014. available: http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/pro-russian-separatism-poses-threat-eastern-ukraine)) The least the West can do at this point is take Putin seriously. It can’t be denied that he has clearly defined Russia’s stake in the region and in this conflict. The degree to which Ukraine and the West are willing to compromise with him will determine the extent of Russian aggression.
I’ve changed my tune on Ukraine. What made the difference? We live in an us-or-them world in which people are eventually forced to take sides. This is not only true of Ukraine. Even if Ukraine is never anything more than a waiting game there will always be places in the world where conflict is possible and where political leaders feel they must protect their interests. Unfortunately, the last four posts illustrate how this can derail the conversation. The us-or-them world won’t change unless we change it, and if we want to change it we have to continue the conversation.
How does change happen? I’ve begun to think that on a certain level it’s simply a choice. However, before we can choose, the choices must be discovered and described. One of the most basic choices would be peace and prosperity—peace is a choice, not a happy accident. The basis of peace and prosperity is justice. What does justice look like? That remains to be discovered, but we could start by describing what injustice looks like.
Reformers always base their ideas on historical models. The model for our age was constructed from the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Plato’s and Aristotle’s ideas have even influenced the world’s main religions. The first step in investigating our choices would be to question these ideas and the structure of inequality they have created. I’ve argued that the creation of this structure was no mistake; it was deliberate. Yet every reformer accepts it as a basis for society.
That discussion could go on for years, but I’m trying to stay with the idea of choice. As an example I’ll use my theory that inequality begins with the subjugation of women. Even though oppression is personal to the oppressed, on a policy level it is impersonal and utilitarian. The oppression of women is the foundation of a particular social and political organization. This may not be very encouraging, but it could also indicate that the oppression of women is not an unchanging, inescapable fact of human existence. It’s part of a specific cultural construct.
In my opinion it would be a mistake to assume from this that women must change the system single-handedly. I don’t think that’s how it works. While there are plenty of women today who speak out against patriarchy, I suspect that women as a group are no threat to the status quo. What does this say about our culture, or about women…or about change? There have been woman-centered communities in the past. Is human nature different today? How about the female gender? Maybe the world suffers from a lack of female role models and archetypes and we just need a female priesthood and a system of goddess worship. Again, I don’t think so.
My model is Minoa. Some will object to this on grounds that we don’t have enough information about the way the Minoans lived. However we do have archaeological evidence that they prospered for at least 3,000 years, and their city was never fortified. The adjective normally used to describe Minoan civilization is ‘confident’. By the way, those arguing for a return to goddess worship also admit that they know nothing about it. Yet the same people—the ones I’m familiar with are university professors—accept the idea of human sacrifice.
Others might object to my using Minoa as a model because I reject goddess worship. Maybe they remember reading somewhere that Minoa did indeed have goddess worship. This requires more discussion as well, but apparently this belief is due to Jane Ellen Harrison’s influence on the interpretation of Minoan artifacts. I intend to discuss this later also, but I’ll say that although Harrison claimed to be revealing ancient Greek religion, her books are categorized today as Hermetic philosophy. Harrison was a colleague of Charles Darwin. And it is no dark conspiracy that our science is hermetic. It’s descended from the Rosicrucians by way of the Royal Society.
As long as I seem to be making an outline of the conversation, I’ll also mention that Protestant Christianity is heavily influenced by Hermeticism. I once thought that if you found a system with elements of magic and the occult, it must be a pre-Christian, or non-Christian system. That’s not true. Protestantism is indebted to mystical and occult beliefs. In fact, elements of the occult can be found in all religions. The same goes for our form of democracy. For this reason, I would argue that Christianity can’t be excluded from the conversation. In fact, it seems it would be impossible to carry on an American conversation about the past, the present, or the future, without acknowledging the influence of the church.
But I’ve gone off the track again. I wanted to talk about choice. I’ve said that I don’t think justice is imposed single-handedly on a society by oppressed people, or by anyone else for that matter. I think it’s a choice made at a cultural level. It’s possible that theology would have a place in this process, but I’m afraid our theology has become inseperable from utilitarian elements.
In support of the idea that people must choose justice, here is an interesting fact about Minoa. The Minoans were aware that their way of life was coming to an end and they didn’t resist. Maybe they understood that if some members of a society choose to take advantage of others just because they are able to do so, the good times are over and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.