Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Breathing democratic freedom is neither easy nor free; it entails both rights and obligations and most importantly knowledge of current fundamental issues. But in most democracies their constituents tend to uphold and demand more their rights than their obligations, and more deplorably, a sizable number of them exercise their rights in a state of ignorance. This imbalance, however, between rights and obligations, as well as lack of knowledge of the real issues, puts in jeopardy the functioning of a politically just and economically productive democracy, and indeed endangers its existence as a form of government.

Moreover, it makes its voters who are uninformed of the points at issue captive to populist slogans and to that everlasting traducer of democracy, identified by Aristotle, demagogy, that appeals to the hopes and fears of the electors and by propagandistic lies and false promises opens the doors of power to demagogues. This is exemplified by two recent political events in our times: Alexis Tsipras and his party of Syriza winning the elections in Greece on a wave of populism and unprecedented lies and false promises in the political history of the country, and of the plebiscite of the UK, whose two leaders of Brexit, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, with a farrago of lies and dire fictions were able to hoodwink a major part of the populace to vote for the exit of Britain from the European Union. On a smaller scale this also has happened in the Australian elections, when the Labor Party by its scare campaign that the Liberal Coalition would privatize Medicare, succeeded in convincing a large part of the electorate of this fictitious threat with the result of Liberals losing so many seats that brought the country on the edge of a hang parliament.

How can one remedy the weaknesses of democracy and protect its constituents from becoming victims to populism and to demagogy with catastrophic results to the well-being of society and to its continued economic prosperity? Some people believe that the answer lies in bringing cultural and ethical changes among the people that would make them immune to this toxic virus of populist-demagogy; and thus leading gradually to the cashiering and inexorable dismissal of all demagogic and populist leaders from the domain of politics. The difficulty and danger of such a solution however is that cultural change is a slow process and during its gestation and vicissitudes in a long run may in the meantime unhinge democracy from its door of freedom, by the actions of feckless, inept, and irresponsible politicians, and incarcerate it within the dungeon of dictatorship. A safer and faster solution would be to enact radical changes to the electoral voting system by suspending in certain circumstances temporarily parts of the electorate from voting.

On what principle could one suggest such an unequal voting system that would discriminate so deliberately between social groups in the ambience of democracy, and which group would be the unequal part in the democratic process? The guiding principle of the first part of the question must explicitly aim to the continued viability and stability of a democratic system, in the context of which, the economic well-being of society depends and guarantees the further expansion of wealth that renders to the people a wide choice where to employ their talents and skills that would push their living standard onto higher plateaus and make their lives congenial to their desires. The second part, i.e., the social group that would be unequally treated, would be identified as that part that depends on welfare for its living and as a ‘debtor’ client of the government easily succumbs to populist slogans and rabble rousing; also, due to its low educational level and lack of interest in important matters, it deprives it from having adequate knowledge of the issues involved and hence is completely unqualified to make a sober judgment on these issues. It is mainly this social group that brings to power demagogues and millenarian ideologues that imperil the stability of the polity and its economic system. And, indeed, ironically pits this same social group into absolute poverty, and in turn destabilizes democracy itself, as it has happened with the political rise of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela; where its people after a contrived false prosperity are presently hunting dogs and cats to feed themselves. The same has happened with the Marxist Alexis Tsipras in Greece, where the pauperization of many of its ordinary people is exacerbated every day and has reached unprecedented high levels under his totally inept, ideologically barren and irresponsible government.

The enactment of this radical legislation would specifically suspend from the right to vote any person who had been on social welfare or unemployed for more than a year, and only with his/her ceasing on being on welfare or unemployed his/her right to vote would be restored. Such legislation would not only strengthen and secure the viability of democracy and the prosperity of its economic system, but would also deprive populist demagogues and political parties of a constituency upon whose existence they depend. Moreover, it would substantially reduce the spending of the welfare state and make it less precarious to the fiscal policy of the state and hence to the well-being of the country. This radical enactment takes a leaf from the cradle of democracy in classical Greece, Athenian democracy. The latter disenfranchised and suspended from voting citizens who had failed to pay a debt to the polis. Likewise, in a modern democracy people who were in debt for their living to the government, that is on welfare, would be suspended from casting a vote.

Needless to say, such a radical proposal, to occur in the ambit of the ‘spoils’ of the welfare state that has spoiled at least two generations of people by our carefree and stand at ease democracy, will not be easy to implement as it will rouse all the wrath and opposition of the ‘progressive’ bien pensants and the ‘good fellows’ of the dole. It will require extraordinarily strong and sagacious political leadership that will unite parliamentary opposition parties into a gigantic wave that relentlessly will sweep away this ‘progressivist’ praetorian guard of the human rights, without responsibilities, of the dole takers, and throw this defiance of the sanctimonious goody-goodies into the dust bin of history.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

The following is a would be reply to Dr. Shakira Hussein’s talk at Readings in Carlton, on March 15, 2016, with the title “From Victims to Suspects”…, which I was not allowed by the chairperson to elaborate, as she considered my questions hostile and uninteresting towards Muslim women.    

In the mad world of the Taliban, ISIS, and suicidal Islamist terror, it is not difficult for sane people to become “paranoiacs”.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

You are attempting to hide suspicion behind the veil of victimisation whose presumed agent is Islamophobia. The real agent, however, is your own religion that classifies women in comparison to men as second–rate beings.

As long as Muslim women cannot attain true femininity and banish the burqa and the hijab, symbols of their absolute bondage to Muslim male supremacy and its sex morals, they will have a cloud of suspicion hanging over them. As most Muslim men, if not open supporters of Jihad, are at least justifying the actions of Jihadists, since they believe unswervingly that all actions, no matter how atrocious, against the Great Satan America and all other Western Nations that are in league with it and are responsible for all the ills that have been fallen upon Muslim countries, are justifiable. A very thin line separates justification from Jihad and it takes only one step to be on the other side. And since Muslim women are submissive and docile to their men, they have to abide to the beliefs and actions of the latter. Hence, potentially, they can become active participants in this Holy War against the West. Hence, there are solid grounds for suspicion.

Only Muslim women who have the moral and intellectual fortitude, like the brave and great Somalian, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to renounce and liberate themselves from the rigid tenets of the Koran can remove the shadow of suspicion that are enshrouded in. And no professed adherence to Multiculturalism and human rights can bail out either Muslim men or women from this suspicion. What human rights would the devotees of the Koran give to the offspring of Satan? And don’t reply to me with the platitude that you can make distinctions among the people of the Western world. For how can you distinguish good infidels from bad infidels?

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Who dares to correct the ‘correctors’, the self-righteous, and those who god-like can predict the future, “Time’s on our side,” and who can allot to  the state of Israel an “Israhell” status, the devotees of religious fanaticism who devoutly believe they are the instruments of Allah and anointed with His omniscience? And what mortal who is intellectually endowed by the “prodigality of nature” only with ratiocination would dare argue against the divinely anointed and expect to dent their omniscience? Pre-determinedly it is written on this stormed-laden sky that rationality must be deluged by this downpour of religious obscurantism. That is why for people who lack the luxury to pray seven times a day it is futile to waste time arguing with those who do.

And the inanity and ridiculousness of both Sham and A. Menaidy are illustrated by their own words. When in the case of the former he attributes “personal misfortune” (M.E.) to “Israhell,” as if for the devil incarnate it is a personal misfortune to be the devil, and in the case of the latter, whose silliness has no bounds, when he accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and attributes to the latter a rational component that could limit it for the purpose of Israel not to be labelled by the world a “no.1 pariah,” as if there was a difference between a number one pariah and a number eight one as he implies by his statement.

 

The following is an excerpt from Roberto Calasso’s book The Ruin of Kasch

Looking to the origins, Marx regarded the earth in two different ways: it was at once an “extension of the body” of man, and his “great laboratory,” “arsenal,” “working material.” These antithetical modes recur often in his thought. On the one hand, there is an analogical chain of symbolic correspondences, in which the earth is enfolded as soon as it is considered an “extension of the body” of man (and thus we see despite incessant secularization, terms like “heart,” “brain,” “flesh,” remain symbolic poles). On the other hand, there is an Enlightenment-inspired dissociation, an experimental use of the whole, an absence of premises, represented in the image of the “great laboratory.” But Marx’s attention—and passion—is always directed at the second pole. The first, he realizes, obviously exists; but he is clearly too bored by it to specify its characteristics. For him it suffices to posit a state of belonging, both at the origin and (though here it is more problematic) at the end, as well as a considerable number of states of separation, in all that occurs between those two stages. Marx analyzes these states of separation with a kind of tireless, turbulent, sensual pleasure, referring often and eloquently to something lost or to be recovered. But his eloquence fades, and he becomes suddenly distracted, as soon as he has the opportunity to clarify exactly what has been lost and what might be recovered. All this does not imply that Marx has given two incompatible definitions of the “land” of origin. The definitions are indeed discordant and contradictory, but they have always lived side by side in history: one is the latency of the other. Marx reveals his perceptiveness in the very fact that he posits them together. The euhemeristic gesture, the severing of correspondences, also takes place where the order of analogies has been established. Indeed, the order can be regarded as a conciliatory reply, a suturing of correspondences that ritually follows every act of severing.(magic)

“Fully developed individuals, those whose social ties are completely their own, who are borne of communal relations which they control collectively—such individuals are products not of nature but of history. The degree and universality of the development of abilities in which this type of individuality becomes possible presuppose production based on exchange value. This production, together with universality, for the first time gives rise to the alienation of the individual from himself and from others, but it also creates the universality and all-sidedness of his relations and abilities (Continuation of magic). In earlier stages of development, the single individual appears fuller, because he has not yet realized the fullness of his relations and established them as an ensemble of powers and social relations independent of him. It is as absurd to regret this original fullness, as it is to think that we must forever remain in our current state of emptiness. The bourgeois viewpoint has never gone beyond the antithesis between itself and this romantic viewpoint, and thus the latter will accompany it as its legitimate antithesis until the blessed end of the bourgeoisie.” This passage exalts the metaphysical function of capital, which stands magnificently apart from everything else we know. Other apologists lack Marx’s far-sightedness, and never can attribute such evocative power to the commerce they are defending. The universal itself, that spoiled firstborn child of the bourgeois era, is here considered the offspring of “production on the basis of exchange values”—and of nothing else. Marx disdains the communitarian connectedness of all prior stages (even though he is ready to shed a hypocritical tear for its lost “original fullness”), because he knows that those stages are inevitably bornes, limited. And for Marx, Borniertheit is the supreme defect, worse than any emptiness. It is a permanent threat, a hostile memory of the ghetto.

The “original fullness” is not polutropos, not “all-sided”; this is what Marx means. (But does Ulysses belong to that “origin” or not? A question which remains unanswered.) At the other end of history we see that, in an age when the bourgeoisie is flourishing most successfully, the essence of the bourgeois individual is indeed universal but completely empty, void, hollow, the result of an inexorable process of emptying. The anthropological question must then be posed in these terms: How are we to deal with that “total emptying” without yielding to some fatuous reference to the lost “original fullness”?

At this point the apparatus of dialectic, with all its deceptive aggressiveness, once again seems immensely useful. What development has emptied, development will refill (the magician in action). People will talk about “universal development of individuals” instead of about the relations of production. Thus, instead of speaking of a real emptying, they will use a vacuous expression that nevertheless is tuned to the inclinations of a period which, more than any other, wants to “make it on its own.” One need only avoid certain questions. What if the concrete (the individual) stubbornly refuses? And what if the universal will tolerate continued existence only in conditions of perfect emptiness? Around these same points, some masterly sleight of hand had already been performed by Hegel. Now Marx did the same, though his methods were cruder and he knew much less about the history of philosophy. And such legerdemain would be performed countless more times, with ever more brutal manners, by increasingly nefarious great-grandchildren, travelling cadres of the Third International, or the heirs of some black Byzantium, inhaling the sacrificial fumes of polytechnic schools while waiting to transform their savannah {the leaders of the Khmer Rouse in Cambodia in the aftermath of studying in France and absorbing the tenets of the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser} into a bloody scene a la Raymond Roussel, steeped in slaughter, to baptize a belated entry into history.

Marx does not always abandon himself unrestrainedly to the worship of “development.” Behind the word, he sometimes glimpses inevitable divergences. There are passages in which he comes dangerously close to asserting a full break between the two models of development, one perverse (that of capital) and one good (that which comes after capital); and in so doing he lets down his guard…