Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Atheistic Religion of Environmentalism

The behavior of the atheists supports the view that the need for religion and god is hardwired in human beings. They have always been passionately engaged in bringing salvation to all through politics and science.

When their idea of salvation through politics died with the communist disasters of the 20th century, the atheists faced the risk of being driven out of politics. To protect their political relevance they turned their eschatological hope on other issues—one of them being environmentalism, which for the atheists, is a scientific means for bringing salvation to all.

Love for environment is there in the theists too, but the theist environmentalists are less dangerous. Their heaven is an afterlife phenomena and they accept that human beings are indelibly flawed—the theists are not using environmentalism (or communism) as a blueprint for building an earthly heaven.

Being convinced that man is a perfect being, there is nothing that the atheists won’t do to achieve their political goals. Their environmentalist project can be as deadly as their communist project.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

On The Limitations Of Free Market System

A free market system can facilitate the rise of large business houses and make it easier for the people to find better employment and procure goods and services at competitive prices, but it cannot make us more wise, rational, peaceful, or civilized. A nation with a free market system can be as unreasonable and nihilistic as a nation with backward economy. No power can coerce the big business houses which thrive under a free market system to use their economic power for moral purposes. The problem is that no one knows what purposes are moral. The free markets will solve a few economic problems, but they may give birth to a range of political and cultural problems which may prove intractable. To ensure that the free markets operate within the framework of a nation’s culture a healthy political system is necessary.

The Myth of Universal Human Nature

The idea that there is a trait called universal human nature is a myth which was first propagated during the Age of Enlightenment by intellectuals who dreamed of unifying mankind under a global political and moral system. But a global political system is a utopian project which can never be achieved. Human beings have always been deeply divided on lines of race, religion, nationality, geography, and language. Universal nature is one thing that the human beings don’t have. Since there is no universal nature, there can be no universal moral law or universal form of government. Different groups of people have always had different moral beliefs and forms of government and that will continue to be the case for as long as humanity lasts on this planet.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Stability Versus Liberty

It’s naive to conceive a political theory that is not based on human nature. The primary political requirement of human beings is not liberty—it’s stability. Hobbes understood that people want their government to protect their life, property, and way of life. The passion for liberty is the hallmark of the type of intellectuals who are idealistic and have a utopian view of the world. Most people are convinced that the responsibility for maintaining the stability of the political, social, and economic system belongs to the government. In case there is a conflict between liberty and stability, people may tolerate a loss of their liberty, but they will never tolerate instability.

Tucker Carson: On The Threat From Private Sector

Tucker Carson says, “the main threat to people living their lives the way they see fit is no longer the federal government, but the private sector.” I agree with him. I think it is wrong to see the big corporations of the world as symbols of free society. These corporations have weaponized their business practices for driving the progressive agenda forward. They are not content with making profits by selling their products and services, they lust for political power. Tucker makes a reference to Oreo: “Even cookie companies like Oreo are now pushing advertising that asks kids to 'name their pronoun'—aiming transgender propaganda at children. This is a corporation, pushing the idea that biology is obsolete and that the gender binary is no longer operative. The libertarian response to this would be 'Start your own Oreo company!'”

Thursday, 12 December 2019

The Three Aspects of a Nation

The political existence of a nation rests on three fundamental aspects: first, the center of political power; second, the mode of exercise of political power; third, the culture that makes people feel that they are a part of a society. When the correlation between these three aspects is judicious and free of contradictions, the nation can be a land of happiness, stability, and prosperity. In a democratic or republican country, the political activity should be aimed at keeping the three aspects in consonance, but it’s generally the conservative political forces which seek to achieve that aim. The progressive and liberal forces thrive when there is a discord between the three aspects; their politics is motivated by utopian dreams which cannot be achieved unless there is chaos, instability, and unhappiness in society.

Immanuel Kant: On The Proof of God’s Existence

In the Critique of Pure Reason, in the chapter entitled, “The Idealism of Pure Reason,” (Chapter 3), Immanuel Kant presents his analysis of the traditional arguments for the existence of god. He divides the traditional arguments into three categories: the cosmological, the ontological, and the physico-theological.

The arguments that precede from some contingent fact of the world and from a question about the nature of a thing or process are seen by Kant as the cosmological arguments. This type of argument entails that a contingent fact can be true only if a series of causes commence with a first cause or unmoved mover—an example of the “first cause” argument is the one postulated by Thomas Aquinas and a few other Aristotelian scholars. The second type of argument, the ontological, tries to free itself from the contingent premises by taking the view that the proof of god’s existence is subsumed in the concept of god. In the third type of argument, the physico-theological, Kant includes all arguments that proceed from the idea of “design”—some good in nature is identified and the argument is made that the perfection is by itself a proof of god.

Kant notes that the argument from design (the physico-theological) is the clearest and in line with human reason. He says that this argument encourages a study of nature and it deserves to be mentioned with respect. However, he dedicates three of the seven sections in Chapter 3 to showing the impossibility of the cosmological, ontological, and physico-theological arguments.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

On Culture and Economics

A nation’s culture and economy have a symbiotic relationship—they tend to move in the same direction. When the culture moves in the rightward direction, economy too takes a right turn (the government takes measures to liberalize the economy); when culture lurches towards the left, the economy does the same and becomes more regulated and inefficient. The periods of high economic growth in most nations are also the periods great cultural awakening, and the periods of economic downfall are usually the periods when there is decline in the peoples sense of culture and rise in nihilistic tendencies. A nation with weak culture can never attain economic success. While it is possible for a nation with strong culture to be economically backward, a strong culture is a necessary condition for a strong economic performance.

Nyāya Theory: On Enquiry

One of the six philosophical schools of Hinduism, Nyāya became established between 6th century BCE and 2nd century BCE. The foundational text of this school, the Nyāya Sūtras, was composed in this period by Akṣapāda Gautama whose exact dates are not certain. It is possible that several scholars may have made contributions to the Nyāya Sūtras. One of the achievements of the Nyāya school is that they developed a method based on specific rules of reasoning through which certain knowledge of a particular object of enquiry can be achieved.

According to the Nyāya school, an enquiry can be undertaken only if there are some doubts about the nature of what is being enquired into. This means that there is no point in enquiring about something for which certain knowledge is already available. Therefore, what is being enquired into has to be something about which there is lack of understanding. The availability of some kind of observational data on the basis of which the enquiry will be conducted is another important consideration that the enquirer has to consider. The insistence on observational data shows that the Nyāya school gave importance to the empirical world.

The enquirer has to ensure that there is possibility of attaining certain knowledge at the end of the enquiry. If certain knowledge is impossible, then conducting an enquiry is a futile exercise. However, doubt and the possibility of certain knowledge are not the only criteria on the basis of which an enquiry can be undertaken. Gautama insists that an enquiry should not be undertaken for flimsy reasons—there has to be a valid purpose to justify the exercise. He notes that an enquiry is meant to contribute to the highest good—some scholars have interpreted this to mean that the purpose of enquiry is to attain moksha or freedom from the cycle of brith and rebirth.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

On The Amorality Of Libertarianism

Only those political outcomes that are achievable can be judged morally. A political outcome that is not achievable cannot be moral or immoral—it’s amoral. I see libertarianism as an amoral philosophy because the view of free society and free markets that the libertarians preach is too utopian and disingenuous to be achievable. The libertarians are mostly visionaries, they are aware of their own saintliness, and like all visionary saints, they are focused on the sublimity of their own vision—they have contempt for the opinions and concerns of the masses, and they don’t care about the political, social, and economic realities. They are obsessed with making free society and free markets the foundation of politics, but they have failed to make an impression in the last 100 years. Since the 1970s, libertarianism has been on the decline and it has now gone out of fashion.

On The Pitfalls of Freedom of Speech

Michael Oakeshott points out in his essay, “The Political Economy of Freedom,” that the concept of freedom of speech has been distorted to such an extent that it is now revealing itself to be a menace to freedom. Here’s the relevant passage from his essay:

"The major part of mankind has nothing to say; the lives of most men do not revolve round a felt necessity to speak. And it may be supposed that this extraordinary emphasis upon freedom of speech is the work of the small vocal section of our society and, in part, represents a legitimate self-interest. Nor is it an interest incapable of abuse; when it is extended to the indiscriminate right to take and publish photographs, to picket and enter private houses and cajole or blackmail defenseless people to display their emptiness in foolish utterances, and to publish innuendos in respect of those who refuse to speak, it begins to reveal itself as a menace to freedom. For most men, to be deprived of the right of voluntary association or of private property would be a far greater and more deeply felt loss of liberty than to be deprived of the right to speak freely… under the influence of misguided journalists and cunning tyrants, we are too ready to believe that so long as our freedom to speak is not impaired we have lost nothing of importance - which is not so. However secure may be a man's right to speak his thoughts, he may find what is to him a much more important freedom curtailed when his house is sold over his head by a public authority, or when he is deprived of the enjoyment of his leasehold because his landlord has sold out to a development company, or when his membership of a trade union is compulsory and debars him from an employment he would otherwise take."

I think Oakeshott has made a valid point. The powerful cabal of politicians, bureaucrats, journalists, and activists has been quite successful in weaponizing the concept of freedom of speech to go after their ideological and political enemies. Instead of making people safe, this draconian version of freedom of speech is making them unsafe.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Multiculturalism and the Abolishment of Nationhood

It’s not possible for a nation to include within itself every type of culture. This is because the cultural space in man’s mind is not unlimited—it is not possible for human beings to empathize with all the possible ways of life. A nation is essentially a closed society; it is founded on certain moral, political, and cultural principles; it encompasses a certain view of history and human progress. There are close to 200 nations on this planet for an important reason—the people in each nation want to exclude some ways of life that they think are uncongenial to their values, their notions of the past, and their aspirations from the future. The people in a nation, if they want stability, have to assimilate with the dominant culture. When the multiculturalists assert that they want people of diverse cultures to live with a sense of brotherhood, they are making a political case for a world without nations, a utopian world ruled by a single totalitarian regime.

Herder and the Enlightenment

In his essay, “Herder and the Enlightenment,” Isaiah Berlin hammers new nails in the Enlightenment’s coffin by suggesting that the Enlightenment was a conformist, elitist, idealistic, and monolithic project, which contained the seeds that would one day germinate into totalitarian movements, while the counter-Enlightenment of thinkers like Johann Gottfried Herder was essentially pluralistic and hence conducive for the rise of free societies. In section 9 of his essay, Berlin asks two questions: “What is the best life for men?” and “What is the most perfect society?” A few paragraphs later, Berlin makes the following comment: “If Herder’s notion of the equal validity of incommensurable cultures is accepted, the concepts of an ideal State of or an ideal man become incoherent. This is a far more radical denial of the foundations of traditional Western morality than any that Hume ever uttered.” I am convinced by Berlin’s view that the Counter-Enlightenment, and not the Enlightenment, was the epitome of the spirit of enlightenment.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Peer Pressure and Academic Philosophy

Peer pressure, and not any consideration related to ideological, racial, political, ethical, economic, and historical issues, is the great influencer of academic philosophy. Most academic philosophers, it seems, are easily influenced by the members of their own peer group. This is the inference that you have when you read their essays and books; they seem to show an unnecessary amount of deference to the philosophers of their own peer group.

The mother of all philosophical peer groups is the club of leftist and liberal academic philosophers—they exercise such brute power over academic philosophy that they seem to dictate the philosophical agenda of much of the academic community. Even the libertarians and conservatives are coerced into toeing the line taken by the leftist and liberal club. There is much more diversity of opinion and wisdom in the masses than in the academic philosophers.

On Vaiśeṣika Ontology

Kanada is regarded as the founder of the Vaiśeṣika School (one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy). His exact dates are unknown, but it is believed that he composed the Vaiśeṣika Sutra around 3rd century BCE. His focus was on the nature of reality, which he understood as dharma. In the Vedic tradition, the word “dharma” stands for the cosmic order as a whole. In this sense, all that is there in the universe is part of dharma. When there is a breakdown of the cosmic order, then there is “adharma,” which is a negation of dharma.

The Vaiśeṣika Sutra opens with these lines:

We shall now consider the nature of dharma.
It is from dharma that the highest and supreme good is achieved.
The Veda has its authority because of its concern with dharma.

The system that Kanada elucidates in his Vaiśeṣika Sutra is pluralistic realism, which means a doctrine of multiplicity. He is concerned with the independent reality of things in the universe, outside and independent of the observer. He classifies the fundamental constituents of reality into seven categories: substance, quality, action, universality, particularity, a relation of inherence, and absence or negation.

“Substance” is the most important category as the other categories can get manifested only in relation to substance. Kanada divides the category “substance” into nine types of atoms: earth, water, fire, air, ether, space, time, self, and mind. The objects in the visible universe are composed of earth, water, fire, and air atoms in association with (as per the requirement) other atoms. Ether, space, time, and self are eternal and all-pervading. Mind is of an atomic size and it functions in conjunction with the self atoms which fuel the life of every human being. Every human being has one self atom and one mind atom.

Kanada talks about twenty-four kinds of qualities and five kinds of actions that inhere in substances. The occurrence of an object is an example of the universality of substance. The category of “absence” is an explanation for all kinds of negation or non-existence in the fabric of reality.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Libertarianism is Anti-libertarian

Libertarianism is anti-libertarian. The libertarian call for a free society and global free markets is so disconnected from reality that it makes the masses think that libertarianism is a utopian ideal which will wreak havoc on their way of life. Most libertarians in the last 100 years have been motivated by good intentions; they have produced fine work on free society, free markets, and moral theory. But their overall impact on society is negative. Instead of attracting the people (non-libertarians) to their cause, the libertarian soteriology makes people suspicious of libertarianism and drives them towards statist political forces. Karl Marx had hoped for a proletarian rebellion against the capitalists and the contemporary libertarians are hoping for a bourgeoise rebellion against the government. But the libertarian rebellion is not going to happen.

Religion and Philosophy

The 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant was the original architect of the divide between religion and philosophy. He posited that certain knowledge can be achieved only through the use of reason, and that issues of faith are limited to god and religion. By questioning the legitimacy of mixing reason and faith for acquiring knowledge, he established the notion that religion and philosophy have different methods and aims. He was a theist and a believer in god, but he insisted that the issues of faith cannot be proved or disproved and had to be accepted as a belief, and for certain knowledge one must go to philosophy.

Before Kant, the distinction between religion and philosophy was not so clear cut—both were seen as the methods for acquiring knowledge of reality. For instance, from religion a man would learn that there is an entity called god and that god is the creator of everything in the universe. Three crucial ideas can be deduced from this theory: first, the universe consists of two kind of things, god and not-god; second, there cannot be a third type of thing in the universe because god is the creator of the universe; third, while god is a singular entity, non-god is a plural because it represents a multitude of kinds of matter and living creatures, including humans. A secular philosophy, on the other hand, might tell you that the universe consists of only one type of thing: not-god, or that everything in the universe, the material things and the living creatures, are not-god.

The religious idea that the universe consists of god and not-god, and the philosophical idea that not-god things are the sole constituents of the universe are two theories of metaphysics. It is beyond the scope of the human mind to prove or disprove either theory.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Atheism and Nihilism

An utter atheist always turns into an utter nihilist. Faith, like reason, is an attribute of man’s mind. If man does not have faith in something, then he will lose the capacity to believe in everything. To avoid nihilism, most atheists transfer their faith to any man that they idolize or to some earthly thing. An atheist communist may have faith in Hegel, Marx, and Lenin, or he may see the communist movement as a quasi-religious enterprise that will transport mankind to an earthly heaven. A liberal atheist may have faith in the welfare state. A libertarian atheist may have faith in the divine power of small government and global free markets. The followers of Ayn Rand might have faith in her divine mind which gave birth to, what they believe is, a perfect philosophy.

Thoughts on Wittgenstein’s Legacy

Wittgenstein is described by several scholars as a profound, brilliant, and the most influential philosopher of the 20th century. But what about philosophers like Edmund Husserl, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre? Is Wittgenstein’s contributions to philosophy greater than the work done by these philosophers? These philosophers were Wittgenstein’s contemporaries but none of them cared to use his theories in their own philosophy. Russell and Moore have praised Wittgenstein, but they never made use of his philosophy. In fact, they disagreed with Wittgenstein on almost everything.

It is puzzling that Wittgenstein’s name continues to be a major brand in philosophy. His claim that the problems of philosophy will vanish if we pay proper attention to language has been rejected by the analytic philosophers and the logical positivists. In fact, the views of Frege and Russell are far more popular today. The concerns regarding language are more than 2000 years old—Plato has talked about it, and so have Bacon and Berkeley. Wittgenstein overstated the problem when he made the sweeping claim that all our philosophical problems are related to our misunderstanding of language. His views on meaning, rule-following, cognitive relativism are unsound.

Not much scholarly work has been done on Wittgenstein. Far more work has been done on the ideas of Husserl, Frege, Russell, Heidegger, Sartre, and Moore.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians

The liberal political method is founded on political ideology and political skill—they ignore or denounce traditions and religion. The conservative political method is founded on traditions (past, present, and a projection of future), religion, and political skill—they are suspicious of political ideology. The libertarian political method is founded on political ideology—they ignore or denounce religion, traditions, and political skill.

The liberals and the conservatives are the successful political movements of the last 200 years; the libertarians are a failure. This is because the liberals and the conservatives possess one thing, which the libertarians lack—they possess political skill. Politics is primarily a skill. A political movement can afford to ignore religion, traditions, and ideology, but it cannot afford to ignore political skill.

Only those political movements succeed which possess political skill.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe: The Last Libertarian Standing

Hans-Hermann Hoppe is the ace libertarian gunslinger of our time. In his book Democracy: The God That Failed he comes out all guns blazing, but many of his shots are directed at the side to which he belongs—the libertarian side; by the time you have turned the book’s last page, you realize that this gunslinger has put down every libertarian theocrat in the town and that he is the last man standing. The libertarian political theories tends to get so predictable and utopian that most non-libertarian readers are disillusioned by it, but Hoppe ventures into areas in which you will never expect a libertarian scholar to go. In his book, you find a new kind of libertarianism, which is less idealistic and is focused on addressing the practical concerns of the masses.

They say, Hoppe is not a libertarian—that he is a paleolibertarian. But it is clear to me that paleolibertarianism is libertarianism’s future. Either the libertarians will imbibe the paleo-values of Hoppe and others, or their political theory will remain irrelevant, as it has been for the past 100 years. The question is how do you look at political ideology—most libertarians think of political ideology an end in itself, as something that has nothing to do with traditions and culture. They have a utopian view of how the society functions. But Hoppe’s approach in Democracy: The God That Failed is different. He explains his perspectives on the problems in modern democracies in context of human psychology and the traditions and culture that people are used to. Here’s an excerpt from his book (Chapter 10: “On Conservatism and Libertarianism”; Page 218):

"In a covenant concluded among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists, not even to unlimited speech on one's own tenant-property. One may say innumerable things and promote almost any idea under the sun, but naturally no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant of preserving and protecting private property, such as democracy and communism. There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal."

Hoppe’s views are controversial, but he has shown a way by which the gap between libertarianism and conservatism can be corrected.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Orthodox Camp Versus The Radical Camp

When a major philosopher exits the world stage his students become split into two camps—the orthodox camp and the radical camp. We see this happening with almost all the major philosophers in the last 3000 years—from Ancient Greece to the Modern Age.

The orthodox camp comprises of those who want to blindly follow their teacher’s style and commandments. They revere their teacher as their infallible guide and they view his philosophical works theologically, as an end in itself. But the orthodox camp is mostly unable to attract or groom major thinkers, and within three of four decades of the philosopher’s death, they go into so steep a decline that their style of philosophy goes out of fashion.

The radical camp consists of thinkers with an independent and radical mind. Their approach is not reverent; it is critical—they appreciate the good points in their teacher’s philosophy, but they also examine the flaws in his thinking. It is generally the radical camp that gives rise to good thinkers who go on to develop the revolutionary implications of their teacher’s philosophy. The future of the philosophical school lies with the radicals.

Hegel’s God

It is not clear if Hegel was a theist, pantheist, or an atheist. Hegelian philosophy does not put god and religion on a pedestal; there are, however, several elements in Hegel’s thought which indicate that he had a religious bent of mind. But if Hegel believed in a god, then that god is not a perfect being like the god of any religion. His god is an entity that seeks perfection in the universe that he has himself created. This god is eternal, he is immutable, but he needs to manifest himself in the universe in order to perfect the world, for only by perfecting the world can the god perfect himself. History, therefore, is a project for god’s self-perfection. This is a powerful vision of god who is an active participant in history that we find in Hegel’s philosophy. Even though Hegel was a conservative, his view that the movement of history is linked to god’s quest for perfection has had an immense influence on revolutionary thinkers.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Multiculturalism is a Flawed Doctrine

The “melting pot” model which encourages the immigrants to merge and mix with the nation’s dominant culture is a much better system than the multiculturalist model which sermonizes about the value of diversity and encourages identity politics based on racial and religious differences. When people in a nation identify with a common culture (as in the melting pot system), then they will stay united on their own and the government will not need to interfere in their affairs. But if they are lacking in cultural bonds, then a severe discipline backed by political power will be needed to coerce them to stay together in peace. Over a period of time, most multiculturalist nations turn into police states.

Schumpeter’s Theory of Creative Destruction

In his 1942 book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, Joseph Schumpeter presents the thesis that capitalism will not die due to its economic failures, as Karl Marx had predicted, but due to its economic success. The following sentence from his book can be seen as a good summary of his thesis: “Capitalism, while economically stable, and even gaining in stability, creates, by rationalizing the human mind, a mentality and a style of life incompatible with its own fundamental conditions, motives and social institutions.”

Schumpeter devotes six pages in his book to discussing the “perennial gale of creative destruction” that capitalism faces. He writes: “The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation—if I may use that biological term—that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”

In a capitalist system, things are always in a flux, and society is never stable. As capitalism creates new products and services, and develops new ways of manufacturing and trading, it obliterates old ways of doing business—this leads to fundamental changes in peoples lives. Not everyone can keep pace with the high speed motion of the capitalist marketplace and many people get left behind, not just for a short period of time, but, in many cases, forever. Capitalism offers people several ways of succeeding in the marketplace, but it also creates as many ways of failing.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Western Civilization: A Myth or Reality?

The western civilization doesn’t exist in realty; it’s an abstract concept developed by some French philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment. These philosophers were of the view that human progress must have a single civilization as its goal—and to this civilization they gave the name “western civilization.” But their conception of the western civilization consisted of only the developed regions of the world—countries like France and England, and some parts of Germany, Italy, and America were included in it; rest of the world, they posited, was populated with barbarians who must be subdued in the name of human progress.

For much of last 2500 years, no one in Europe thought in terms of a western civilization, because there was no feeling of unity among the Europeans—they were continuously at war. Ancient Greece regarded Sparta as its enemy. The Roman Republic regarded Greece as its enemy. The history of the Roman Empire is the story of the wars that it fought with the barbarians in Northern Italy, Germany, Spain, England and other parts of Europe. Spain, for much of the Middle Ages, was an Islamic kingdom. By the time of the Renaissance most parts of Europe acquired a common religion, but there was no end to the European wars.

After the Enlightenment, the idea of western civilization remained locked inside philosophy and history books and made no impression on European politics. In the 20th century,  the Europeans fought two great wars—the First and the Second World Wars, in which they slaughtered millions of their own people and reduced large parts of Europe to rubble. During the bloodbath of the two wars, it would have been impossible for the European nations to conceive of themselves as a part of the same western civilization. The Second World War led to the division of Europe into two blocs — the free bloc and the Soviet bloc. The free bloc nations started identifying themselves and other nations that were opposed to the Soviet Union as the western civilization.

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1992 is seen as a victory for the western civilization, but the truth is that the Soviet Union was ruled from Moscow, an European city; it had a western ideology, communism; and it enjoyed the strong support of several European intellectuals—therefore, I think, it is logical to see the collapse of the Soviet Union as the failure of one faction of the western civilization. The geographical extent of the western civilization is a controversial subject because its political, linguistic, racial, and religious character is not clear.

Hegel On The Condemnation of Socrates

When Socrates took up the mantle of free enquiry, which is unencumbered by prevalent beliefs and prejudices, he was following the command that the Greeks attributed to their god Apollo: “Man, know thyself.” Socrates had dedicated his life to inculcating in his followers the virtue of critically reflecting on matters concerning morality and politics. But this kind of critical reflection makes reason, and not social custom, the ultimate judge.

In his the Philosophy of History, Hegel says that by teaching his followers to reflect on moral and political issues, Socrates was destabilizing the Athenian city-state—he was fomenting a revolution. Therefore, he notes, the Athenians were right in regarding him as an enemy of their way of life and condemning him to death. However, in ancient Athens, the principe of free thought was too firmly entrenched in culture to be banished by the execution of a single individual. The revolutionary idea remained alive in Athens after the death of Socrates; and in time it led to the condemnation of all the accusers of Socrates while Socrates himself was posthumously resurrected.

The posthumous resurrection of Socrates had a vitalizing impact on the principle of free thought and that contributed to the decline of the Ancient Greek civilization. Thus Socrates was responsible for the end of the world-historical role that the Ancient Greeks had been playing.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

On The Theology of Small Governments

The libertarians look at small governments theologically, as an end in itself. They seldom talk about the symbiotic relationship between the size of government and the capitalist economy. The truth is that there has never been a small government capitalist country. Capitalism is by nature a big government political system—just as communism is. In a stable capitalist country, the size of the government is always proportional to the size of the economy. The attempt to cut the size of the government in a capitalist country has a destabilizing impact on the economy—it leads to massive job losses in the private sector and all kinds of political and cultural problems. If you want a small government system, then you have to move away from capitalism towards a system that is regulated through self-governed guilds and local communities. You have to rely on your nation’s culture to throw up its own systems of manufacturing and trade.

Kant’s First Critique is Neither Right Nor Wrong

The philosophy that Immanuel Kant presents in his first CritiqueThe Critique of Pure Reason, cannot be proved or disproved. The arguments that he offers are his own rationalizations on the nature and scope of our mind and reason, but those who have discovered flaws in his thought, philosophers like Fichte, Hegel, and others, have also indulged in outrageous rationalizations.

Kant's aim in the first Critique is to investigate what our reason or intellect can or cannot achieve for formulating knowledge. He theorizes that the mind does not receive information passively through our eyes, ears, nose, and other senses. The mind plays an active role in acquiring knowledge, by organizing and systemizing the information that it receives through our senses. We experience the world within a framework of space, time, and substance; however, space, time, and substance are not part of the objective reality, they are not something that is independent of the mind. They are intrinsic to the mind; our reason or intuition creates the framework of space, time, and substance to enable us to comprehend the world. But if this is the case, then the question is: How does the world look like independent of the framework through which we experience it? According to Kant, this question can never be answered by human beings. The name he gives to the reality that is independent of mind is “thing-in-itself,” which, he asserts, is beyond the reach of our knowledge.

Kant does not offer conclusive philosophical evidence to back his claims, but, as I have already pointed out, those who reject his first Critique can be faulted on the same ground. The knowledge of how our mind interacts with the information that we receive through our senses is as impossible to us as the knowledge of the Kantian “thing-in-itself”. We can’t know if space, time, and substance exist out there, in the world, or inside the human mind. Therefore, Kant’s first Critique cannot be proved or disproved.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

On Types Of Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism is broadly of two types: traditional fundamentalism and modernist fundamentalism.

Traditional fundamentalism is based on certain conceptions of religious, racial, and historical prejudices and ideologies—not much needs to be said about this form of fundamentalism as their strategies and objectives are well known. Modernist fundamentalist is based on the utopian notions of human perfectionism developed during the Age of Enlightenment—for instance, communism and socialism. A fundamentalist force can have elements of both, the traditional and the modern—an example of this is nazism and fascism.

Modernist fundamentalism is not necessarily violent; it can be a peaceful movement. For instance, the belief in the power of global free markets to improve the human condition;  the belief in the symbiotic relationship between individualism and capitalism—these too are myths developed during the Age of Enlightenment. There is no evidence to back the claim that individualism is necessary for capitalism and the idea of a global free market system is a utopian dream.

Individualism Is Not Necessary For Capitalism

The German philosopher Max Stirner popularized the modern sense of individualism with his 1844 book The Ego and Its Own which opens with these provocative words, “What is not supposed to be my concern! First and foremost, the Good Cause, then God's cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, of humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, my fatherland; finally, even the cause of Mind, and a thousand other causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. "Shame on the egoist who thinks only of himself!”

Most market economists base their model of capitalism on the notion that the ideal man, the one who makes the capitalist economy run, is an individualist. But this is not true. The successful capitalist economies of the world are highly collectivized.

For instance, the USA saw its highest economic growth in the period between 1865 and 1960—and this was the period when the American society was highly collective. The family system, local communities, and the religious institutions were dominant; people had a strong sense of culture and history, and they saw themselves as a part of their community. After 1960, there was a breakdown in family system, local communities, and religious sentiments in the USA and that has led to a period of economic decline. Japan is another example of a nation where the model of capitalism (developed between 1880 and 1970) does not show individualistic tendencies. The Japanese businesses prefer to rely on interpersonal networks rather than on the culture of contracts, and they have close contact with the political and cultural institutions.

To succeed in a business activity a man has to be rooted in society—unless he understands the society in which he aims to market his products and services, he cannot develop a proper business model. Therefore, every successful businessman must have some collectivist instincts. Individualism has nothing to do with capitalism. The theorists who overhype individualism as a necessary condition for capitalism do so because of their own political opinions.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Multiculturalism Does Not Work

A nation in which several cultures enjoy an equal status ceases to be a nation; it becomes a “United Nations,” or a disorderly forum where people of different cultural backgrounds squander all their time and energy in squabbling with each other. The history of last 2500 years shows that the United Nations type of nations do not survive for long. I understand that there have been several empires that were multicultural—for instance, the Roman Empire and the British Empire. But first, an empire is not the same thing as a nation; second, the Romans and the British could keep their empires together only so long as their own culture was strong. Once their own culture weakened, the Roman and the British empires were finished. The nations that survive are those that have a cultural core that is strong and vibrant enough to provide the native population with a sense of civilizational identity and inspire respect and awe from the new immigrants.

Wittgenstein and the Logical Positivists

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s influence on the logical positivists was next to nothing. His first book, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, was read with interest by logical positivists, and Wittgenstein had a number of conversations with Moritz Schlick, the founder of the Vienna Circle, and other logical positivists, but there is a major difference between the philosophy of logical atomism that is there in the Tractatus and the thesis of logical positivism.

The logical positivist philosophy was established before Wittgenstein met Schlick and his associates. Wittgenstein could not make them change their mind on anything. The logical positivist view was that the roots of factual knowledge lie in empirical observation; in their usage, the word “metaphysics” held as a synonym for “nonsense”; Wittgenstein, on the other hand, was applying modern logic to metaphysics, via language. The logical positivists were propounding that the argument “there is a god” is an empty claim, since this claim cannot be proved or disproved by empirical observation, whereas Wittgenstein, throughout his life, accorded a great value to the matters concerning religious ethics and god. On the theories of probability and induction there is a major disconnect between the logical positivists and Wittgenstein.

In fact, there is evidence that the one who was influenced during their interactions was Wittgenstein himself. The Vienna Circle scholars made him realize that many of the statements that he had made in the Tractatus could not be defended. This realization set him on the course of distancing himself from the Tractatus. In his 1932 letter to Schlick, he writes: “There are many, many formulations in that book (the Tractatus) that I am no longer in agreement with.” In his record of Wittgenstein’s conversations, Frederich Weismann, an associate of Schlick and a member of Vienna Circle, has made a note of this sentiment. The logical positivists enabled Wittgenstein to develop his later philosophy by making him notice the problems in the Tractatus.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Religion, Racism, and Liberty

The idea that freedom from religious and racist considerations go hand in hand with liberty and free markets is an inversion of the truth. A society that is secular, atheistic, and non-racial is not—as today's liberal and libertarian intellectuals and politicians claim—a natural state for mankind.

In the last 6000 years of civilization, there has never been a successful city-state or nation in which the people have not been motivated by religious and racist considerations. The religious and racist considerations are not necessarily bad—for thousand of years such considerations have enabled large groups of people to identify with each other and coexist in all kinds of political communities. People have a natural instinct to be religious and to identify with their race.

But the modern intellectuals and politicians want to create societies in which everyone is secular, atheistic, and non-racial. This goal, however, cannot be achieved without using state power. A nation free of religious and racist considerations is necessarily totalitarian (like the Soviet Union).

Wittgenstein on Ethics and Religion

Wittgenstein provides his perspective on ethical and religious issues in a few brief statements in the last four pages of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In statement 6.43 he says that the good or bad acts of the will do not alter the world, but rather they “alter only the limits of the world”—in other words, they lead to a change in how the world appears to the moral agent. To a good-willed agent the world will appear differently from how the world appears to a bad-willed agent. In the same statement, Wittgenstein goes on to say: “The world of the happy man is a different one from that of the unhappy man.” This means that a good-willed agent can achieve happiness or that for a good-willed agent the ultimate moral value is happiness. In the statement preceding 6.43, statement 6.422, Wittgenstein suggests that good-willing contains its own reward—happiness—while bad-willing leads to the opposite. He writes, “There must indeed be some kind of ethical reward and ethical punishment, but they must reside in the action itself.”

In his perspectives on God and death, Wittgenstein suggests that the realms of facts and value are quite distinct—this is because the matters of value concern the world as a whole and are unrelated to the facts within it. In statement 6.431, he says, “So too at death the world does not alter, but comes to an end.” In statement 6.4311, he says, “Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death… Our life has no end in just the way in which our visual field has no limits.” In statement 6.4312, he says, “How things are in the world is a matter of complete indifference for what is higher. God does not reveal himself in the world.” In two statements which follow, he suggests that the consideration of God being the source of value is entirely related to world as a whole and with matter of value. Here are the two statements—statement 644 says, “It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists”; statement 6.46 says, “To view the world sub specie aeterni is to view it as a whole—a limited whole. Feeling the world as a limited whole—it is this that is mystical.”

These statements in the last four pages of the Tractatus lead to the book’s famous last statement 7: “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” This statement is a reassertion of Wittgenstein’s belief that nothing can be said about the ethical and religious matters, since they lie outside the world.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

On The Gulf Between Moral Ideals and Moral Reality

Moral philosophy is an ideal and it is impossible for a human being to achieve an ideal—therefore, it should not surprise us that there has never been a moral philosopher who has accomplished the feat of perfectly practicing the moral ideals that he preached. The wide gulf that exists between moral ideals and moral reality can never be bridged.

On Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the only book-length work that Wittgenstein published in his lifetime, is a short book of 145 pages but it covers a wide range of philosophical problems. While the book's main argument is on the structure of language and the world and the relationship between the language and the world, Wittgenstein also talks about subjects like the purpose of philosophy; solipsism; the nature and form of logic; probability theory; the theory of number; induction and causality; and the matters related to religion, ethics, and life. The perspectives that he offers on these subjects is short, almost aphoristic, and this has earned the Tractatus the reputation of an obscure treatise. But he has drawn an intimate linkage between the position that he takes on various issues and his main argument—everything that he says in the book is a consequence or corollary of his main argument and this brings some clarity on his sayings in the book.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The Elites Are Always The “Useful Idiots”

The people who realize that they have something to lose if their nation is wiped out in political violence tend to shun the revolutionary movements which agitate for total change. The poor and middle class are generally attached to their way of life and possessions and it is difficult, if not impossible, to persuade them to risk whatever they have and join a revolutionary movement. The promise of a better life once the revolution is successful cuts no ice with them. The elites, on the other hand, are an easy target. They are easily persuaded that, in spite of their worldly possessions and all their political and cultural achievements, they are living a pseudo life, that something vital is missing from their life, and in order to bring “meaning” to their life they eagerly become the revolution’s “useful idiots”. It is a paradox that the lack of worldly success breeds in people more loyalty towards their nation than a life of achievements and great wealth.

Conservatives and Innovation

A conservative will not surrender lightly a known good for an unknown better. His disposition is to enjoy what he has, instead of sacrificing the present joys for some kind of future happiness. He is not eager for change, but if change becomes imperative, he will prefer a slow change to a rapid one—preserving the appearance of continuity, while things are changing, is of critical importance to a conservative. In his essay, “On Being Conservative,” Michael Oakeshott notes that the conservatives prefer small and limited innovations to large and indefinite ones. Oakeshott's skepticism of innovation is reflected in the following passage:

“Consequently, the conservative will have nothing to do with innovations designed to meet merely hypothetical situations; he will prefer to enforce a rule he has got rather than invent a new one; he will think it appropriate to delay a modification of the rules until it is clear that the change of circumstances it is designed to reflect has come to stay for a while; he will be suspicious of proposals for change in excess of what the situation calls for, of rulers who demand extra-ordinary powers in order to make great changes and whose utterances are tied to generalities like “the public good” or “social justice”, and of Saviors of Society who buckle on armor and seek dragons to slay; he will think it proper to consider the occasion of the innovation with care; in short, he will be disposed to regard politics as an activity in which a valuable set of tools is renovated from time to time and kept in trim rather than as an opportunity for perpetual re-equipment.”

Monday, 25 November 2019

Peace is a Dangerous Game

Peace is not an ultimate value for a nation. The nations which lose their appetite for power and war are doomed in the long run. When a nation has convinced itself that it faces no existential threats and has achieved lasting peace, its politics gets mired in complacency and hypocrisy and this has a negative consequence for the moral values, courage, intelligence, and integrity of its people. The nation’s culture takes a nihilistic turn and its politics becomes frivolous and corrupt. Its people lose their appetite for hard work and its institutions become incapable of maintaining an edge in technological and militaristic innovation—this leads to a fall in their military capability. Eventually the peacenik nations get destroyed and overtaken by the more vigorous and warlike nations.

Machiavelli and Nietzsche

According to Isaiah Berlin, Machiavelli composed his political works with the conviction that the ultimate values often contradict each other—that a harmony between ultimate values (such as political values and ethical values) cannot be achieved. In this sense, a connection can be drawn between Machiavelli and Nietzsche; the latter has, in his works, forcefully questioned the disharmony between ultimate values. Nietzsche notes that the conflict between political and moral values is a fact recorded by history and on this basis he establishes his ethics of the soul.

Here’s an excerpt from Berlin’s essay, “The Originality of Machiavelli”:

“What has been shown by Machiavelli, who is often (like Nietzsche) congratulated for tearing off hypocritical masks, brutally revealing the truth, and so on, is not that men profess one thing and do another (although no doubt he shows this too) but that when they assume that the two ideals are compatible, or perhaps are even one and the same ideal, and do not allow this assumption to be questioned, they are guilty of bad faith (as the existentialists call it, or of 'false consciousness’, to use a Marxist formula) which their actual behavior exhibits. Machiavelli calls the bluff not just of official morality—the hypocrisies of ordinary life—but of one of the foundations of the central Western philosophical tradition, the belief in the ultimate compatibility of all genuine values. His own withers are unwrung. He has made his choice. He seems wholly unworried by, indeed scarcely aware of, parting company with traditional Western morality.”

In another passage, Berlin notes: “Machiavelli’s cardinal achievement is his uncovering of an insoluble dilemma, the planting of a permanent question mark in the path of posterity. It stems from his de facto recognition that ends equally ultimate, equally sacred, may contradict each other, that entire systems of value may come into collision without possibility of rational arbitration, and that not merely in exceptional circumstances, as a result of abnormality or accident or error—the clash of Antigone and Creon or in the story of Tristan—but (this was surely new) as part of the normal human situation.”

Sunday, 24 November 2019

On The Importance of Theological Philosophy

Theological philosophy is a man’s fundamental need because he has no possibility for achieving enlightenment or the knowledge of the universe as a whole. Enlightenment is a corrupt and anti-man enterprise; it exhorts man to make sacrifices for achieving an impossible ideal.

Those who quest for enlightenment get mired in metaphysical and moral contradictions. We can become better people if we are willing to labor for it, but it is not possible for us to become enlightened. If enlightenment was possible, then there would be no need for theological philosophy because then man would be omniscient; he would have the potential to be like god. With theological philosophy man can try to find explanation for things for which scientific explanation is not possible.

God doesn’t need theological philosophy—man does.