Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ross's paradox & Revealed deontics

In Islam, statements are of two sorts- insha, that is imperative or deontic, and khabar, that is factual. Normative use of the hadith literature, in Islam, applies a sort of imperative logic with the result that different sects condemn each other as apostates, polytheists, grave-worshipers and so on.

Now, if Man evolved by natural selection, we would expect imperative logic to actually be more rather than less interesting than formal logic.


Consider 
1) It is obligatory that the letter is mailed.
(2) It is obligatory that the letter is mailed or the letter is burned.
To my mind, this adds something to the notion of what imperative or deontic statements do- what they must do if Man evolved by natural selection-and that is they open up more possibilities for free choice, more methods of individuation, more avenues of rebellion, precisely when they pile up on each other to push one down a path narrower than the sword's edge and suspended over an abyss.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Pandit Maniram

This is a link to Rajan Parrikar's page on Pandit Maniram- surely one of the greatest singers of the Twentieth Century.
The shadjam website has some marvelous videos including a lecture demo featuring Pandit Maniram and Jasraj in which he grants us some very illuminating insights into the relationship between Raags, for example- Malkauns, it seems, comes from Parvati not Lord Shiva.
Below is a recording in which all 3 brothers perform- Pandit Maniram, Pratap Narain and, of course, Pandit Jasraj.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Barzakh and the heart.


In the image of the hierarchy of the worlds contained in the kawn al-kabir, every world or

every degree of human individuality is presided over by a barzakh, in the same way as every

human faculty is governed by a certain pole.”

This is most easily seen in the faculties of mental conception, in which the barāzikh (plural

of barzakh) constitute the pivots of the complementaries “subject” and “object”, as well as in the

faculties of sensible perception.

The Shaykh Tadilī also says: “All the barāzikh of man depend on his central barzakh, which

is the heart (qalb), mediator between the domain of the Spirit (Rūh) and that of the individual

soul (nafs).”

Moreover, the physical aspect of the heart very clearly expresses the different characteristics

of the barāzikh, for, according to Shaykh Tadilī, “these barāzikh of the human hierarchy can be

symbolically represented as so many imperceptible points from which a luminous vibration

emanates, alternately of concentration and of expansion, continuously and spontaneously. Each

pulsation of the barzakh produces a transformation of the vital light. In order that this

transformation does not become upset and does not, through individual negligence, become

fatally ‘downward tending’, it must always be determined by spiritual orientation and sustained

by means such as dhikr (invocation) or by methods that depend on the science of respiration.

“These methods are based, from a certain point of view, on the analogy between the phases of

respiration and the pulsation of the barāzikh.'




Ibn al Nafis, who discovered the pulmonary circulation of blood, believed there to be two ventricles, one that filled up with Ruh (spirit) and the other with Nafs (soul). His importance lies in his criticism of the kalam (rational philosophy) of al Farabi which was defended by Avicenna and Ibn al Tufayl in the novel 'Hayy ibn Yaqzan'. In contrast to the view that Revelation was adapted to the animalistic nature of the masses- who recoiled from philosophic truth independently arrived at- al Nafis repudiated the theory of emanation and upheld the orthodox doctrine of the Resurrection and the World's destruction in Time.




There is a hadith (from Muwatt ā’ of Imām Mālik ibn Anas) stressed by the Hanbalis though denied by some others-“The earth eats all of the son of Adam except the ajb al-dhanab. He was created from it, and on it he is built.”




Al Nafisi describes the generation of the embryo and the attachment, by God, of the soul to it- ''This matter is generated from sperm and similar things, and when the soul becomes attached to it . . ., the body is generated from it. This matter is called the ajb al-dhanab. It is absurd that this should become lost as long as the soul subsists . . .. The soul of man is imperishable . . .. So, this matter which is the ajb al-dhanab is imperishable (too). Therefore it remains after the death and decomposition of the body, and the soul with which it remains continues to be perceiving and noticing, and that time it experiences pleasures or pain; these are the pleasures and pain in the tomb.

'Then when the time for resurrection . . . comes, the soul stirs again and feeds this (nucleus of) matter by attracting matter to it and transforming it into something similar to it; and therefrom grows a body a second time. This body is the same as the first body inasmuch as this (nucleus of) matter in it is the same, and the souls in the same. In this way resurrection takes place.'

Dr.Nahyan A.G. Fancy, from whose dissertation the above is extracted, writes 'However, I should emphasize that this had īth is only one in a multitude of had īth that are concerned with the status of body and soul after death. The majority of had ith and even Qur’ānic verses, refer to the possibility of a free soul/spirit that leaves the body at death and even views it from afar.'




'..by attaching the soul to the ajb al-dhanab, Ibn al-Nafīs severs the connection between the heart, spirit and soul that underlies Ibn Tufayl’s entire argument for autodidactic learning. Unlike Ibn Tufayl, Ibn al-Naf īs makes a sharp distinction between soul (nafs) and spirit (rūh). Hence, although Ibn al-Naf īs agrees that the spirit is a refined body that resides in the heart and animates the rest of the human body, he denies

that it emanates from the divine or has any divine element or immateriality associated with it. Instead, he claims that the spirit is entirely derived from air and is continuously created within the heart.

'Therefore, the soul, spirit and heart do not have the tight nexus required for Ibn Tufayl’s rational defense of mystical visions. Consequently, Ibn al-Nafīs is able to rationalize the possibility of bodily resurrection and proffer a solution to the problem of individuation, without providing Ibn Tufayl with a basis to support mystical visions and, hence, autodidactic learning.'




















Monday, 21 May 2012

Sharab/ Suhrab




The Symposium is a mirage of Wine's Loneliness
As is the Academy that of the Symposium
To whose Shekinah is wholly Holiness
Saqi, thy Mi'raaj ad nauseam.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Gabriel Tarde & Carl Schmitt's Homo Sacer

The French Criminologist, Gabriel Tarde's laws of imitation lay emphasis, surely ironically, upon Metternich's Holy Alliance of intimacy, hierarchy and novelty. So as not to be confused with Eugene Sue, Tarde stressed the temporal priority, for mimesis, of the object of desire over its mode of acquisition.

The hideous morning after of the Night of the Long Knives- the dawn of what Carl Schmitt called the Ausnahmezustand , or state of exception which Agamben reads into our own hung over decade- is about the coolness of Crime's dark-glasses not such spooky surveillance as Paranoia attributes to the Law's blindfold.


Consider what Carl Schmitt was actually responding to when he fucked up big time. Hitler was not German, was not entitled to the dignity of conscription, but had been brought into German politics by the German Army to push their 'stab in the back' theory. But the good little Corporal was a bad little soldier. First he renders Ludendorff ludic, then he stabs-in-the-back Von Schleicher, finally, he even blows up Hindenburg. 


Contra Agamben, Hitler was Schmitt's Homo Sacer, who- too sulphurous to be a scapegoat, e'er convict e'en conscript- could become the Tardean object of imitation of a Law that, at last!. wasn't an imitation of an imitation of an imitation, albeit mere, of God.



Saturday, 19 May 2012

the Communists and the Buraku

This post throws a fascinating light on Untouchability in Japan. I recall that my old Prof. at the LSE- Michio Morishima- was a Communist. Apparently his students kicked him out in '68. I couldn't understand why. Perhaps they were Buraku.

Alas, I've just Googled this and the real story seems to involve a clash between a militant Buraku organization- which thought the subsidy to the Buraku should be payable only to its own members- and a less militant outfit affiliated to the Communist party.
This is what Wikipedia has to say-

The Buraku Liberation League is considered one of the most militant among burakumin's rights groups. The BLL is known for its fierce "denunciation and explanation sessions", where alleged perpetrators of discriminatory actions or speech are summoned for a public hearing before a panel of activists. Early sessions were marked by occasions of violence and kidnapping, and several BLL activists have been arrested for such acts. The legality of these sessions is still disputed, but to this date authorities have turned a blind eye to them for the most part, except in the more extreme cases.
In 1990Karel van Wolferen's criticism of the BLL in his much-acclaimed book The Enigma of Japanese Power prompted the BLL to demand the publisher halt publication of the Japanese translation of the book. Van Wolferen condemned this as an international scandal.
The other major buraku activist group is the All Japan Federation of Buraku Liberation Movements, which is affiliated with the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). The Zenkairen often came head-to-head with the BLL, accusing them of chauvinism. The bickering between the two organisations boiled over in 1974 when a clash between teachers belonging to a JCP-affiliated union and BLL activists at a high school in Yoka(rural Hyōgo Prefecture) put 29 in hospital.
In 1988, the BLL formed the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR). The BLL sought for the IMADR to be recognized as a United Nations non-governmental organization; but, in 1991, the Zenkairen informed the United Nations about the alleged crimes the BLL had committed. However, when suspected cases of discrimination were uncovered, the Zenkairen often conducted denunciation sessions as fierce as those of the BLL.

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dr, Ambedkar 'Dogs are degraded lions'

Did Dr. Ambedkar really say 'Dogs are degraded Lions' ?
I think I've heard something like that before- but not in Hindi or Tamil.
Still, the question arises, is it a genuine historical fact that Brahmin priests snidely belittled Buddhist lions till they became dispirited and their manes fell out and they started saying bow wow instead of roaring?
More than likely.
Next week- how Brahmins systematically belittled tigers till they turned into pussies and why Priti Zinta is still pissed about it.

India enstoopidifies- Major Kelley's 'Imperial Secrets'

This is a link to a book by an American soldier called 'Imperial Secrets' which has been published by some Military Intelligence College to ramp up the proactive demoralization of officers serving abroad as part of a wider stab-in-the-back of its Allies. As such it is an eminently silly book, which touches base with every cliche thrown up by Deleuze, Spivak, Negre and other such fuckwits, while demonstrating that particular levity of spirit characteristic of 'military intelligence' which makes it so easily assimilable to belles lettres.  
It contains not a single original or intelligent observation.
This is the author's experience in Tamil Nadu, India.

The author had spent the previous chapter suggesting that the ornate and flowery portions of Persian epistles may have contained information. But, the example he quotes does not confirm this notion. Rather, it calls his sanity into question. He says he produced academic theses or tactical appreciations while with the Indians which they found acceptable. These writings must have been shit. How do we know? Because the author is stupid. What other explanation could there be for his writing so stupidly for us?The Indians had no problem accepting the stupid shit he wrote. They were soldiers and soldiers probably write stupid shit, at least when embedded with a foreign army.  But the Indians insisted  this fuckwit sign off according to their protocol not his own. So what? That's what soldiers do. They're supposed to be stupid but faultlessly correct when it comes to ceremonial usages. Here, the guy puts up a ceremonial resistance, till honor is satisfied, but then capitulates so everybody is happy. He has shown his preference for the ceremony of his own army but finally bent the knee to the higher principle of subordination. There is nothing noteworthy about this. Nor indeed is there anything noteworthy or interesting about the remainder of this soldier's book.

That's what makes it interesting. Its recycling of Gesture Political academic cliches- alterity, the subaltern, Panopticon, Orientalism, the rhizome, the guy even mentions barzakh though he doesn't seem to understand what the word means- shows how fucking stupid that class of post '68, pseudo-Leftie, acid-flashback, paranoid, pulp fiction, bullshit theories are. Indeed they were designed to be stupid, because they were designed for draft dodgers from the Hegelian struggle for recognition- those, that is, who, like this author, render absurd the mise en abyme of Power by bucking for promotion within it.

This isn't a bad thing.
Power isn't about rules, it's about deeds. It isn't a methodenstriet- an academic argument about methods- its about looting and raping and killing and taking what you want. It isn't about surveillance. It's about killing people, regardless of what they have done, 'pour encourager les autres'.
Still, what this book advertises is the American Army's determination to stab its Allies in the back so caveat emptor guys! don't buy into the Trident of this Neptune whose oceans are its own self-pitying tears.

I notice this author has actually learnt Hindi and that he quotes a lot of crap Indian academics- mainly Bengalis- who were pretending to be all Left-wing and hip while, in fact, they were simply careerists playing the Race card for all they were worth in the struggle for tenure. Has India contributed to the enstoopidification of Major Kelley? Perhaps, but only because, though as Borges observed 'India is larger than the world', it's actually pulp fiction.



Monday, 14 May 2012

Gabriel Tarde & Dr.Ambedkar


This is Dr Ambedkar quoting Gabriel Tarde to explain the Hindu taboo on beef

Coming to Manu there is no doubt that he too did. not prohibit the slaughter of the cow. On the other hand he made the eating of cow's flesh on certain occasions obligatory.
Why then did the non-Brahmins give up eating beef? There appears to be no apparent reason for this departure on their part. But there must be some reason behind it. The reason I like to suggest is that it was due to their desire to imitate the Brahmins that the non-Brahmins gave up beef-eating. This may be a novel theory but it is not an impossible theory. As the French author, Gabriel Tarde has explained that culture within a society spreads by imitation of the ways and manners of the superior classes by the inferior classes. This imitation is so regular in its flow that its working is as mechanical as the working of a natural law. Gabriel Tarde speaks of the laws of imitation. One of these laws is that the lower classes always imitate the higher classes. This is a matter of such common knowledge that hardly any individual can be found to question its validity.
That the spread of the cow-worship among and cessation of beef-eating by the non-Brahmins has taken place by reason of the habit of the non-Brahmins to imitate the Brahmins who were undoubtedly their superiors is beyond dispute. Of course there was an extensive propaganda in favour of cow-worship by the Brahmins. The Gayatri Purana is a piece of this propaganda. But initially it is the result of the natural law of imitation. This, of course, raises another question: Why did the Brahmins give up beef-eating? 

I must admit that I can make no sort of sense out of this. The killing of four legged animals, including cows, was prohibited in Buddhist countries like Japan. There were no Brahmins in Japan but there was Untouchability.
Gabriel Tarde's law of imitation cuts both ways. If the Brahmins practiced animal sacrifice then they could not be the originator of the custom. Rather, they must have adopted it from some class or sect they held superior to themselves. The Sramanic Religions, especially Jainism, are an obvious candidate for this superior class. Even to day we find the adoption of 'Jain-Vegetarianism' - i.e. rejection of root vegetables, tubers, honey, etc- as a method of one-upmanship within Hindu sub-castes. 
Brahminical animal sacrifice was a costly affair and was connected to a metaphysical theory such that the sacrificed animal gained the realm of the gods. Poor Brahmins would have the strongest incentive to adopt vegetarianism since they could not afford to host a 'potlatch' animal-sacrifice.

Dr.Ambedkar, however, sees something sinister in the Brahmin espousal of vegetarianism.
'That the object of the Brahmins in giving up beef-eating was to snatch away from the Buddhist Bhikshus the supremacy they had acquired is evidenced by the adoption of vegetarianism by Brahmins. Why did the Brahmins become vegetarian? The answer is that without becoming vegetarian the Brahmins could not have recovered the ground they had lost to their rival namely Buddhism. In this connection it must be remembered that there was one aspect in which Brahmanism suffered in public esteem as compared to Buddhism. That was the practice of animal sacrifice which was the essence of Brahmanism and to which Buddhism was deadly opposed. That in an agricultural population there should be respect for Buddhism and revulsion against Brahmanism which involved slaughter of animals including cows and bullocks is only natural. What could the Brahmins do to recover the lost ground? To go one better than the Buddhist Bhikshus not only to give up meat-eating but to become vegetarians- which they did. That this was the object of the Brahmins in becoming vegetarians can be proved in various ways.'
Why does Dr. Ambedkar think it only natural that there should be 'revulsion in an agricultural population for the slaughter of animals'? The reverse is the case. In Europe, when animals were slaughtered with the onset of winter, it was an occasion of public rejoicing. At least some of the meat was roasted and enjoyed while the remainder was salted and dried and put away for the lean months of winter.  Animal sacrifice is generally a joyous occasion. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem, on Festival days, presented an awesome sight as the blood of thousands of kine ran through its stone channels and conduits.
Ambedkar invokes Garbiel Tarde but, blinded by his suspicion and resentment of the Brahmins, he comes up with a conspiracy theory for Brahmin vegetarianism.
Tarde's Laws of imitation, as is increasingly becoming clear from the work of Latour, Deleuze  and Actor network Theory, have far greater explanatory and prescriptive power than Dr. Ambedkar allows in his polemical work. 
The truth is simpler. 
Buddhism was the religion par excellence of mega-power, mega-money, mega-magic and of course, karma-as-caste. 
Vegetarianism, Poverty, and Stupidity were and are the best defense against Buddhism. Live well, spend money with a free hand, speak in a cultured fashion and what is the upshot? Various shady monks and nuns will start turning up at your door pretending to be terribly humble while also claiming incredible magical powers.
As Ambedkar notices, everybody in India is untouchable to everybody else. Why? Because a stupid Religion came along saying 'the World is a vale of tears' and everybody has to become a monk, in not in this life, then the next life, because otherwise everybody will burn in Hell. 
When Emperor's decide to adopt this sort of crazy and fraudulent Religion, Tarde's Law of Imitation comes into play. Everybody should act like an untouchable to everybody else because the 'fountain of Honor' has been poisoned at source. Social mimesis is now a fool's game. Everyone needs to go into quarantine. 
Ambedkar, of course, became a Buddhist and is now a Boddhisattva. That's one up on being a Mahatma. So Gabriel Tarde was right. There is something in Society which corresponds to his Law of imitation. But, Gresham discovered it first- bad money drives out good.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Solomon Maimon and the Ashkenazi Enlightenment.

   In the second half of the Eighteenth Century, Poland, once a great Nation, had been reduced to anarchy and enslavement by the unbridled licentiousness of its riotous Aristocracy. Solomon Maimon considered the Ashkenazi Jews of Poland and Lithuania, likewise, to be a nation reduced to ignorance and intemperance by the 'Golden Freedoms' of its own aristocracy- the scholars of Talmud, of which he himself was the most precociously talented.
   Quitting his benighted Lithuania for Germany, this drunken Spinoza, this misanthopic Mendelsohn, arrived at a full fledged Scepticism, not of Diderot's brand, but of a grim, late Nineteenth Century sort, by all the unlikeliest of detours- Kant being his last- yet, to the end, he remained a Talmudist in his methods and a Moralist despite himself.
   Inclining to the view of Maimonides, that there is but one immortal soul in which all participate to the degree that they cling to Reason, and sympathizing rather with Spinoza than the Liebniz/Wolfian system which had  first unsealed his eyes to the power of Secular learning, Maimon's startlingly frank autobiography represents the Ashkenazi Enlightenment as a rebellion against the unbridled license of its Talmudic Aristocrats rather than, as it was for the Germans and later the French Jews, an act of conformity and falling in with the superior Rationality and Economy of a Fredrick the Great or, indeed, Napoleon.
   Maimon's oddity lies in the manner in which- while constantly pointing out the irrationality, intemperance and lack of Economy of his country and his own people- his pilgrimage West confirms him precisely in that ruinous and vagabond manner of life, escape from which alone could justify his abandonment of his family.
Yet, not only won't he supply his wife with a get, he himself wont turn his hand to any trade- as the Talmud requires- preferring to live, in many respects, the life of a sponger and wastrel.
   This duality in Maimon goes hand in had with a rejection of dualism of any form- that of Maimonides for whom there were two kinds one intellect- one relating to the body and the other, immaterial and relating to God- or that of Leibniz, who limits the scope of Sufficient Reason for no sufficient reason-and that of Kant who posits mutually exclusive faculties of understanding and sensibility with the result that there is no guarantee that the application of categories is not arbitrary simply. In essence, these systems yet are saved from Maimon's skepticism by dispensing with the notion that philosophy is an open enterprise. Suppose this were not the case. Some people- or group of people- are chosen, others are not. Thus, it so happens that some Jews will be bodily resurrected and spend a very long time enjoying a second existence on Earth before dying again. This is just a law of Nature which, for some reason, has been revealed in Scripture. Thus it makes sense for even the most philosophical Jew to stick with the Talmud even though ultimate immortality- after the very long period of the Resurrection- has a wholly different object and modality.
   Similarly, with Liebniz- perpetual peace actually meant the French going off to kill Egyptians rather than Hollanders. Perhaps, Egyptians don't count and the kindest thing to do would be to enslave or do away with them. Similarly with Kant- more Anthropologist than Philosopher and Anthropophagous Shaman than Anthropologist- perhaps when Prussia is well governed and expanding, then for some reason beyond our ken, the faculties of understanding and sensibility work in a perfect way and so Morality really is whatever Prussia says it is . If on the other hand, if Prussia is ill-governed and bankrupt and weak- then perhaps humane universal moral absolutes are okay.

The point I wish to make here is that, it may be, Maimon was right- not Moses Mendelsohn- Enlightened Despots weren't Enlightened at all and laid Europe Waste in the same manner as the drunkard Radziwill laid waste his own Estates. Though in Germany and in France, there is an impression of widespread Ashkenazi 'assimilation' and 'conformity' to Enlightenment hierarchical values, yet- under the surface- it is the vagabond Maimon who more accurately reflects the Ashkenazi ethos- viz. making a connection between the disorder and riot created by the Goyim aristocrats with the spiritual pride and pointless casuistry of their own puffed up Gaons. This frees the Ashkenazi Jew- in his amphibian aspect as scholar/vagabond- from both heteronomy and 'humanism' thus giving him a revolutionary potential.

Marx himself, it may be, is better understood in the light of Maimon than those priggish Young Hegelians. Except, Marx was not a mathematician. Otherwise he'd have been a Neo-Con avant la lettre.



I


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Justice and Wet Dreams



 'A young Egyptian, having become infatuated with the courtesan, Thonis, made a contract for her services for a large sum of money.  That very night, however, she appeared to him in a dream in so vivid a manner and posture so provocative that his lust for her was utterly sated.
  When he failed to keep their tryst, Thonis took him to court demanding the cash due her under their contract.  The judge, Bocchoris, ordered the Egyptian to bring in the money, and to hold it aside while Thonis was allowed only to grasp at its shadow -- the thing imagined being a shadow of the reality.'
' Lamia, the flute player, the greatest hetaira of her day, protested this injustice to a colleague. Though the dream-Thonis had sated the young Egyptian passion for her, the shadow of the money had not set the courtesan free from her desire for it.'
 Was Lamis right?
  Suppose contracts for sexual services are legal and conscionable so Thonis can sue for damages. Surely the court has to grant substitute specific performance- i.e. the payment of the agreed on sum,  less, perhaps, Thonis's 'transfer earnings'- i.e. her regular tariff for walk-in trade- so as to make both parties as well off as if the contract went ahead?
   Is there a counter-argument? What if the defendant's lawyer maintains that Thonis performed some action such that her phantom appeared to his client and satisfied his desire so that she herself was not put to trouble? In that case, it is the phantom who should be rewarded and, it may be, the shadow of the silver suffices to do so. This argument holds because Thonis has 'unclean hands'. She has done something in bad faith so as to make the contract unequal in that the other party would no longer have a desire for specific performance on her part, should she have decided to renege.
  Thonis, of course, would maintain that she has no control over to whom or to what purpose she appears in dreams. Her hands are clean, she acted in good faith. Judge Bocchoris has rewarded her shadow with shadow wealth- and perhaps this is shadow Justice- but what of her own claim?
 The defendant's lawyer might argue that his client had not in fact entered a bilateral contract, but, being indifferent as between the phantasm of Thonis, and the actual Thonis, merely advertised a unilateral contract stipulating what consideration would pass in return for the slaking of his lust. Thus, the courtesan should be disallowed substitute specific performance- which is damages- because otherwise something which is not, in essence, a bilateral contract is treated as being so.
 Thonis has a counter-argument in that, even if the contract is not a contract, nevertheless, by participating in it she performed a service for in return for a promise of payment and thus has an action in Assumpsit or under an implied contract. What was the price of the service? Clearly, it is the price stipulated in the contract, even if that contract isn't a contract simply because the defendant did not stipulate for any other sum as consideration for Thonis's entering into this contract-that-is-not-a-contract.
  Judge Bocchoris, now, has a chance to put forward an argument touching upon the nature of Justice.  He can say that the moment Thonis brought a suit for damages under a implicit contract for a service- viz. the service of entering into a contract-that-is-not-a contract- her failure to specify that this was the case meant that he, himself, as Judge, was released from the duty of judging of that issue and only had a duty to provide a show of enforcing Justice with respect to a mere show or appearance of a contract. But, since no contract becomes Justiciable, being of itself permanently either unripe or moot (i.e. no party suffers injury save by some supervenient, multiply realizable, mental act of their own), it therefore follows that such Justice as is invoked by any Contractarian theory is but a meretricious phantom or wet-dream.'

Friday, 4 May 2012

More of my books now available for Kindle

Some more of my books are now available for download for Kindle here.

Leo Strauss, the Kuzari, and the natural inferiority of Black people

Reposted from a few years back
This is a link to Leo Strauss's essay on the Kuzari & Natural Law.

How many people who have read Leo Strauss's "Persecution and the Art of Writing"  go on to read the Kuzari? What would be the consequence if this was routine?
 What does the Kuzari actually say?- the key argument used by the rabbi to convert the King of the Khazars goes like this- "Granted Judaism & Xtianity & Islam are ridiculous because a just God would not play favourites- and hence there can be no chosen people- but, clearly, because of the manifest inferiority of black people, it follows that God does indeed play favourites. This is not logical, it is not just, but it's the way things are. And, if even one race is inferior to another then the notion of a hierarchy of races becomes logical. Since Moses- who is admitted to be a prophet by all religions- was a lawgiver only to the Jews, it follows Jews are the chosen race. The Jews are in mystical relationship with the King of India, who senselessly lavishes gifts on foreign friends of his friends, without any benefit whatsoever to the people of his country. Thus the Kuzari King, by becoming a Jew, gains a station not equal to the real Jews but still beneficial to himself.
Hitler, of course, also used the notion of the 'natural' inferiority of one race to justify his policies. If the policies of the King of the Belgians were Christian enough for the Congo then why not Hiterism in Europe? It was sufficient to say the Germans were superior to the Slavs or Lithuanians or whatever for a policy of ethnic cleansing to increase German 'living space' to be justified. If this brought the Germans into conflict with the French and their British Allies- then so much the worse for the Allies.
The problem for philosophy, in Strauss's time, was that it had to proceed without accepting the premises of 'ordinary people'- but then validate them by the back door to gain currency within its own narrow coterie. The exoteric shell of philosophical literature was couched in the (seemingly) liberal language of universals but the esoteric kernel was the same old  same old which passes for worldly wisdom. This, indeed, is the abiding scandal of philosophy.
What are the implications for how we should judge Straussian advocates of regime change? Answer- The slogan 'When America makes you its bitch, Democracy is  the reach-around." should not be taken literally. Democracy is actually about acknowledging your natural inferiority to America and your placing the whole of your population in a hierarchical chain of submission so as to best serve the superior.
 The |American army is not in the business of nation-building. Regime change must occur by 'shock and awe'. The true force mulitplier here arises out of a condign acknowledgment of 'naural inferiority' and the reconstitution of the polity to pay an infinite tribute.
Democracy is servitude to the only Democratic power. Just as the King of the Kuzari does not himself rise to a level of equality with the real Jews, but gains some immaterial benefit by clienthood, so to does Iraq, Afghanistan and (had Madam Bhutto lived) now perhaps Pakistan. Indeed, Christopher Hitchens tells us that a grandson of Imam Khomeini came to the U.S to urge a U.S invasion of Iran.
While this may be true, Politics is a game in which everyone has to talk as stupidly as possible, the notion that young Khomeini, or any other Iranian for that matter, really worships the only Super Power in the selfless manner Power always requres is surely quite absurd and risible.
Of course, Strauss himself was a master of 'writing between the lines'. He gave himself an alibi by talking only of Arab & Sephardic writers in his book and putting forward the thesis that the Arabs did not have Cicero and the Stoic conception of "Natural Law" which (supposedly) informs the Common Law tradition and hence shores up the myth of American exceptionalism. But this is quite senseless. Islam insists on the
priority of Justice over Prophesy. Prophet Muhammad  said 'I was born in the reign of a just King'. The rule of a just infidel is better than that of an unjust Believer. Truth and Justice were absolute values for the Persians. Indeed, as Herodotus records, the origin of free political thought occurred "after the slaughter of the Magi, when the truth-loving Persians" sat down to discuss what the best form of government for themseves might be.
The historical context further exculpates Strauss- his people were being mercilessly (and utterly senselessly) killed and rescue could only come from countries and Empires which were based on the doctrine of the natural inferiority of the black man. This has nothing to do with Judaism. Indeed, Shulamith, the personification of the Sabbath, in Halevi and other poets down to Celan, is a black woman (the Queen of Sheba). Later on, the Israeli's airlifted the Falassha jews out of Ethiopia during the famine. Why does Halevi use an argument based on a notion of natural inferiority of the black which had no basis in either Classical thought or the universe of Islam? Again we have to look at the specific historical context. Halevi and Maimonides were persecuted by a North African dynasty which was also engaged against the empire of Ghana. In other words, the puritanical Berber rulers who persecuted the Jews- (who found refuge in other Muslim countries of North Africa)- may have used a racist language against the black people whom they were trying to conquer. Furthermore, the greatest of the Arab poets, Mutanabi, had written much satire against the Black Sultan of Egypt who was also hated by the Ismailis. However, this is merely vilification of the enemy whom you are trying to conquer or enslave- i.e. it is a mean spirited polemic rather than a systematic doctrine of 'natural inferiority'. It does not represent a bedrock finding of folk empiricism.
I am not saying Strauss or any other Jew who cared about what was happening in Europe was anti-black. On the contrary. Actually, the truth is, there is now, there always has been, a chosen people- it is those being slaughtered or enslaved. Those who suffer are special. Celebrating exactly those attributes for which they are singled out as being the hall mark of divinity is a religious obligation.
As Leo Strauss says
However, if God isn't a fuckwit racist cunt, Revelation can't discharge this function of DEFENDING MORALITY itself. In other words, if God isn't a homophobic misogynist redneck jerk then people who spout endless holier than thou shite about morality and ethics and the fucking environment and animal rights and so on are ipso facto homophobic misogynist redneck jack offs coz then God is dead and these guys be He.
But not only has this nothing to do with either philosophy or politics- even religious works interpreted by thinkers thus tainted prove not merely unavailing against evil but active forces for harm long after the original context in which they were composed has long been forgotten.
Who persecutes the philosopher? It is writing itself. Why? Because it is a mirror- Vanity's instrument and Vanity's undoing- thus all is Vanity sayeth the Preacher and only thus are books compiled.