Subject : LIKE GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER . . . ?
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Etienne de la Boétie (1530-1563) wrote The Politics of Obedience : Discourse on Voluntary Servitude in 1552-53, at the age of 22. In this terse monograph, he went beyond the traditional discussion of how power is attained and how it is used. Many writers had discussed tyranny in terms of the usurpation of power or government actions against the laws –customary laws, divine laws, or natural laws ‘for the common good’. The young Boétie’s original contribution to the study of government was to find the common denominator of different kinds of tyranny.
There are three kinds of tyrants: some receive their proud position through elections by the people, others by force of arms, others by inheritance.
. . .
For although the means of coming into power differ, still the method of ruling is practically the same: those who are elected act as if they were breaking in bullocks; those who are conquerors make the people their prey; those who are heirs plan to treat them as if they were their natural slaves.(p.21)
Boétie focuses on the victims’ tolerance of the abuse power, indeed their complicity, due in part to their mental befuddlement, if we can bring in the writings of another young scholar, Baruch Spinoza (1633-1677) to clarify this phenomenon. Mediating between the ideas of these two original thinkers, is the playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and specifically his tragedy, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark , which was written sometime between 1599-1601.
Re-reading William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is, indeed, instructive today. World famous neurologist, Antonio Damasio, recommended The Bard’s play in the concluding chapter of his book, Looking for Spinoza. This is the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, and this particular play speaks to the pathos under which we are now living. The young Prince Hamlet knows something that no one else in the kingdom suspects, namely that his father, the King of Denmark, was murdered by his stepfather, Claudius, the new king and husband of his mother. Hamlet cannot communicate this idea in the hegemonic atmosphere of the castle, and he goes half mad trying to express this revelation, which was brought to him by his father’s much troubled ghost.
The neurologist makes much use of Spinoza, frequently citing segments from The Ethics. (published posthumously in 1677). A few of the excerpts below are relevant to Damasio’s physiology of the body (which includes the circulatory systems of vessels and nerves), in its production of the human mind, as Shakespeare exemplified in Hamlet’s tragic loss.
The Ethics, Part I, 7th Definition:
That thing is said to be free (liber) which exists solely from the necessity of its own nature, and is determined to action by itself alone. A thing is said to be necessary (necessaries) or rather, constrained (coactus), if it is determined by another thing to exist and to act in a definite and determinate way.(p.31)
The Ethics, Part II, Propostion 12 :
Whatever happens in the object of the idea constituting the human mind is bound to be perceived by the human mind; i.e. the idea of that thing will necessarily be in the human mind. That is to say, if the object of the idea constituting in the human mind is a body, nothing can happen in that body without its being perceived by the mind.(p.71)
The Ethics, Part II, Propostion 13 :
The object of the idea constituting in the human mind is the body –i.e. a definite mode of extension actually existing, and nothing else.(p.71)
The Ethics, Part III, Propostion 1:
Our mind is in some instances active and in other instances passive. In so far as it has adequate ideas, it is necessarily active; and in so far as it has inadequate ideas, it is necessarily passive.(p.104)
Hence it follows that the more the mind has inadequate ideas, the more it is subject to passive states (passionibus); and, on the other hand, it is the more active in proportion as it has a greater number of adequate ideas.(p.105)
The story line is well known : the young Hamlet is incoherent, even when he talks to the attractive Ophelia, daughter of the Lord Chamberlain, Polonius. His madness is of concern to everyone and his stepfather invites a group of actors to the castle to distract the disturbed youth. Hamlet’s incoherence and attempts at irony is picked up by the actors, and when they are invited to perform a play they reenact the conspiracy of his father’s murder. Claudius and the Queen grow agitated and stop the performance. This is proof to Hamlet, but he hesitates to strike; instead he confronts his mother and in a fit attacks a figure hiding behind a curtain in the room. It is Polonius, Ophelia’s father, who is trying to discover the truth. He is killed by Hamlet. Hamlet is sent to England to calm down, and while he is away Ophelia commits suicide. Hamlet returns to the funeral and is challenged to a duel by Ophelia’s brother, Laertes. They agree to fight, but not to the death. Laertes, however, puts poison on the tip of his rapier. And King Claudius adds poison to a drink he intends to offer Hamlet at the end of the friendly duel. In the end, the young men’s rapiers get switched, and it is Laertes who receives the poisoned wound; and in the confusion, it is the Queen who drinks the poisoned wine intended for Hamlet; then Claudius is killed by Hamlet before he expires. The play is over and the soldiers haul the dead bodies away under the military salute of rifle fire.
The physiological lesson from Shakespeare’s play, drawn by Damasio, is that our ‘gut emotions’ and our ‘cerebral feelings’ are components which produce the mind, whether we successfully communicate our emotions or not. The mind is the product of the body and its various organs (including the brain and the peripheral nervous system); and the top priority of every healthy organism – like every healthy cell in our body—is self-preservation. In Spinoza’s words, to maximize joy and to reduce sorrow --in a myriad of contexts, in an infinite number of ways-- is an essential function of the body’s mind.
The very first foundation of virtue is the endeavor (conatum) to preserve the individual self, and happiness consists in the human capacity to preserve its self.(The Ethics, Part IV, Proposition 18)
Spinoza goes on to suggest that an action which might be personally beneficial but would harm others is “not good” because, according to his systemic understanding, “harming others always haunts and eventually harms the individual who causes the harm.”(p.174)
Our good resides especially in the friendship that links to other humans and to advantages for society.(The Ethics, Part V, Proposition 10)
Our personal structure includes the “biological mandate” to survive and to maximize pleasurable rather than painful survival, but we are also social beings, bound by social and cultural conventions.
For example, the law that all bodies impinging on lesser bodies, loose as much of their own motion as they communicate to the latter is a universal law of all bodies, and depends on natural necessity. So, too, the law that a man in remembering one thing straightway remembers another either like it, or which he had perceived simultaneously with it, is a law that necessarily follows from the nature of man. But the law that men must yield, or be compelled to yield, somewhat of their natural right, and that they bind themselves to live in a certain way, depends on human decree. Now, though I freely admit that all things are predetermined by universal natural laws to exist and operate in a given, fixed, and definite manner, I still assert that the laws I have just mentioned depend on human decree.(from A Theologico-Political Treatise, 1670)
The 13 items below depicting current events at the same time as the US presidential “debates” are now being televised and widely discussed offer CEIMSA readers the challenge to participate in the construction of an environment conducive to human growth and happiness. The hysterical behavior of would-be leaders and the pathologies of everyday life militate against the self-fulfillment and well-being of all of us, but overcoming adversity remains the sine qua non of good health for every organism, large and small. What remains to be done is to create new social and cultural conventions, more adapted to our human needs.
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
From: Mark Crispin Miller
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Subject: On Trump/Clinton, "conspiracy theory," media baloney and much else, from CounterPunch Radio!
Mark Crispin Miller – Episode 56
This week CounterPunch Radio host Eric Draitser sits down with author and academic Mark Crispin Miller to discuss the controlled corporate media and its grip on discourse in the United States, conspiracy theories versus conspiracy facts, US elections as both farce and illusion, and much more. Eric and Mark begin with a discussion of the history of media propaganda, and how the corporate media we know and loathe came to be the monolithic servant of power it is today. The conversation then turns to the issue of conspiracy theories and the importance of nuanced analysis that is skeptical of power but also avoids the pitfalls, and outright fascism, of the online conspiracy world. The final part of the program shifts into vote fraud and the controlled and manipulated election system in the US which, Eric and Mark both argue, simply cannot be trusted. So much ground is covered in this wide-ranging discussion on CounterPunch Radio.
Also, check out the Forbidden Bookshelf series edited by Mark Crispin Miller.
Musical Interlude: The Doors - "Strange Days"
From: World Beyond War.
Subject: Awesome Video.
Action Network Email :
Here's a video, just under 2 hours, of selections of #NoWar2016. This video should make for a great event anywhere in the world. Screen it and discuss it.
Already several public access TV stations are using this video. Please submit it everywhere. If you'd like to buy it as a DVD, contact us. Or make your own.
Volunteers have stepped forward to become World Beyond War country coordinators in over a dozen countries, and a group of activists in Vermont has proposed forming a World Beyond War chapter. So we’ve put together a short guide to creating your own chapter/group/club wherever you are (country/province/state/city/legislative district):
1. Contact us and let us know.
2. Sign on as an organization to the peace pledge.
3. Sign all members on as individuals to the peace pledge.
4. Use flyers and signup sheets.
5. Use event resources, and let us know to promote your events.
6. Identify yourselves as World Beyond War using materials of your own making or our sky blue scarves, or our banners, buttons, shirts, hats, stickers, bags, cups, etc. (Let us know if you need materials in other languages.)
7. Send us reports on your work.
8. Send us ideas for campaigns, petitions, international collaborations, or any other advice or suggestions.
9. Send us a link to your website or the content for a webpage on our site instead. Also send us the email address people who want to join your group can contact. (We’ll use a form so that you don’t get spammed.)
Here's the new book that inspired #NoWar2016. Read and discuss it.
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Sign the Declaration of Peace.
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J’Accuse – French Condemnations of Russia in Syria Beyond Cynical
by Finian Cunningham
The Dreadful Chronology of Gaddafi’s Murder
by Chris Welzenbach
Why the New Silk Roads Terrify Washington
by Pepe Escobar
Almost six years ago, President Putin proposed to Germany ‘the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.’
This idea represented an immense trade emporium uniting Russia and the EU, or, in Putin’s words,“a unified continental market with a capacity worth trillions of dollars.”
In a nutshell: Eurasia integration.
Washington Hits Back at Putin’s Humiliation
by Finian Cunningham
The Obama administration is now accusing Russia of cyber-crime and trying to disrupt the US presidential election. The claim is so far-fetched, it is hardly credible. More credible is that the US is reeling from Putin’s stunning humiliation earlier this week.
Enough Sabre Rattling Already!
by David Stockman
This is starting to sound pretty ominous. The Washington War Party is coming unhinged and appears to be leaving no stone unturned when it comes to provoking Putin’s Russia and numerous others.
The recent collapse of cooperation in Syria – based on the false claim that Assad and his Russian allies are waging genocide in Aleppo – is only the latest example.
Russia Reads US Bluster as Sign of War
As U.S. politicians and pundits have fun talking tough about Russia and demonizing President Putin, they are missing signs that Moscow isn’t amused and is preparing for actual conflict, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
Obama Stepped Back From Brink, Will Hillary?
by Mike Whitney
We're Not in a New Cold War - It's Far Worse
Between nuclear weapons, election-time informational warfare, and the conflict in Syria, we're dancing on the edge of a volcano,
says professor Richard Sakwa
Our Bombs, Not Trump's Comments, Fuel Hatred Towards the United States
by Chris Hedges
Clinton's rhetoric on Muslims is more palatable, she has been an enthusiastic supporter of 'bombing our way to peace' in the Middle East
The Empire Files: Fighting at Standing Rock
with AIM Founder Dennis Banks
To get an eyewitness account of this growing movement, Abby Martin interviews legendary Native leader Dennis Banks,
founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM).
Yesterday, Israeli forces shot and killed 10-year-old Abdullah Abu Medhyef. A few days before that they killed 20-year-old Ali Shiokhi.
These are the sixteenth and seventeenth Palestinians killed by Israelis since August. Among those killed was a six-year-old girl. In some cases Israeli forces blocked medics from reaching people who had been shot, and they bled to death.
During that period, two Israelis were killed.
The facts on each of these deaths are available on our new website IsraelPalestineTimeline.org.
Since U.S. media give almost no information about Palestinian deaths, unlike their close attention to Israeli ones, we are providing this information to you in the hope that you will share it with others, including U.S. news media.
Below are the news reports from IMEMC:
Thank you for your help in getting this horribly sad but important information to the American public. You can share this information on Facebook and Twitter, tell friends and colleagues, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, and post comments below news stories.
It is our dream to eventually end these deaths by telling everyone about them.
For peace through justice,