On Religion and Nationalism: Ireland, Israel and Palestine
“We Irish think otherwise.” Bishop Berkeley
In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2011, President Obama proved again that he is a wonderful speechmaker—eloquent, uplifting, but politically deceptive. In bragging that he brought Osama Bin Laden to Justice, Obama must have been thinking of some Old West frontier sort of justice, and not a trial within the system of justice one usually associates with that abused word. Had Bin Laden been captured and put on trial for mass murder, most likely all sorts of embarrassing facts might have been exposed about the CIA’s relations with Bin Laden and the mujahideen in fighting the Russians in Afghanistan in 1979.
Like someone who has had too much champagne, I know my giddy high of admiration for Obama’s eloquence and intelligence will be followed by a headache and a hangover. It is rarely the speech that disturbs me, but the day after, when one notices that little has actually changed. After his 2009 speech in Cairo, in which he advanced the cause of Palestinian statehood and practically apologized for the CIA destruction of the freely elected Mossadegh and its subsequent installation of the Shah as our client dictator in Iran, nothing changed.
In putting the Palestinian case in the hands of Netanyahu, Obama has decided to sacrifice the Palestinians to keep the Jewish vote within the Democratic party. Entrusting Palestinian statehood to Netanyahu and Lieberman is much like entrusting the reform of Wall Street to Geithner and Summers, those disciples of Rubin who brought us the disasters of deregulation in the first place.
In spite of all the fine speeches, three years into the Obama administration, Guantanamo is still there, the Patriot Act has been extended, and we are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama is calling for a reduction of the deficit, but we are going to keep our imperial necklace of seven hundred military bases and outstations of “enhanced interrogation”–like Diego Garcia–around the world. Both Democrat and Republican alike are still operating with a post-World War II American world-view when that world no longer exists except as a figment of the imagination. Rather than addressing the real problems humanity now faces,[i] Obama is trying to negotiate with Libertarians intent on wrecking the federal government.
In his recently adopted Harry Truman-style combative “Tax the rich” pose–a pose one suspects that is intended to win back disaffected liberal progressives–President Obama appears to be aware that his whole presidential career of trying to reach across the aisle to reason with zealots has been misguided. The gesture of recognition only empowered his extremist opponents. The new Republican Party is not a gathering of conservative men and women of informed public policy and fiscal prudence; it is increasingly a rally of ideological fanatics who boo a gay soldier in Iraq and cheer for executions and the deaths of the uninsured.
Republican and Democrat do not simply express differing strategies for good governance, they express two different world-views, ones that are more deeply rooted in enduring archetypal structures of consciousness. The Republican-Libertarian world-view sees the individual as the supreme value and government as a necessary evil that must be kept from intruding into the lives of its citizens as much as possible. Health care, education, and trying to modify behavioral norms from this perspective should not be the concern of agencies of the government.
The Democratic world-view sees the community as the agency that makes us human through language and group activities in art and tool-making. The individual by itself can fail and can fall into sociopathic behavior such as slavery, child labor, and the industrial poisoning of earth, air, and water; therefore government is the necessary angel needed to protect human and civil rights, as well as progressively work to advance human culture to a higher level. And so liberals worked to eliminate slavery, then child labor, and now environmental pollution. Without government there could be no public health and amelioration of society from the excesses of industry that now level mountains, poison valleys and watersheds, and sicken its citizens.
But humans are never philosophically consistent. Thus conservatives oppose abortion, but are in favor of executions by the state. They are opposed to government intruding into family matters through mandated health care, but they are not against the state intruding into other groups through military interventions such as the wars in Iraq or Vietnam. They do not oppose vast expenditures for the military because they see “supporting our troops” as a patriotic act simply because they are “ours.” The troops are preserving an “us” against an alien “Other.” Thus the Conservative archetypal structure of consciousness is based on identity and not on a superficial activity of reasoning. Reasoning will always be used to rationalize an “us” against “them”—be they Iraqis or liberals.
The liberal archetype is also rooted in identity-formation, but not so much on the primate band with its systems of dominance, as much as on the Institution with its systems of authority. At one time in the Middle Ages, the archetype of dominance was expressed by the military, while the archetype of authority was expressed by the Church. But in the shift to modernism, the positions also shifted, so now dominance is expressed by religion, whereas authority is expressed by science.
Each archetypal structure of consciousness, of course, has its shadow formation. Rugged individualism unchecked leads to a world of extensive suffering for the many and cultural entropy.
Collectivizing institutions, be they church or scientific laboratories and institutes, can lead to inquisitions and the suppression of individual creativity. Dickens portrayed the shadow-side of rugged individualism in his novel Hard Times, and C. S. Lewis expressed the shadow side of the new postwar Labour government with its rule of experts and behavioral psychologists in his novel, That Hideous Strength.
This dyad of Conservative and Liberal never stands still for all time, and can become a quadrant in which both sides split and spin—as I tried to describe in my books in the seventies, At the Edge of History and Passages about Earth.
In the more familiar terms of Rudolf Steiner’s mythological system, this is an alteration between the Luciferic exaltation of the individual and the Ahrimaniccollectivization in the mob and the masses. Historically, the United States has oscillated between these two world-views of Conservative and Liberal with alternating administrations. A Democratic President Truman is followed by a Republican Eisenhower, and an Eisenhower is followed by a Kennedy.
Now, however, in our electronic culture of instant information, the alternating current of politics has become a direct current that is not stepped down into common sense and deliberation. In essence, the Tea Party movement is a revolution in which the social-democratic state is to be dismantled through the privatization of Medicare, Social Security, and public education. Taxing the rich may seem fair to liberals, but for conservatives it represents suppressing the entrepreneurial class and rewarding the slothful and slackers.
Like a Chicago community organizer seeking to reconcile conflicting neighborhood gangs by sublimating violence into basketball, Obama sought to treat the two parties as two gangs in unnecessary conflict, but he failed to recognize that it is the task of the American President to lead from a higher level with a new vision of American destiny. President Bush, for all his incompetence, still had the Neoconvision of the Project for a New American Century. Unfortunately, for the three trillion-dollar wreckage of our economy and the incalculable numbers that died in Iraq, the Project for a New American Century was simply wrong.
Rather than leading us out of Iraq, Obama chose to lead us more deeply into Afghanistan and continue the imperial campaigns of Bush and Cheney for the benefit of the defense, oil, and gas industries. He failed to introduce a new paradigm in American politics by shifting our governing science from economics to ecology; instead he has energized the old industrial paradigm of the energy industry in general and the Koch brothers in particular by affirming that we cannot have industrial growth and ecological stewardship at the same time. So he has relaxed emission standards for the Clean Air Act. With this action, and his catering to Wall Street in order to gain donations for his billion-dollar war chest for his 2012 Presidential campaign, Obama has completely alienated his Democratic base of liberal progressives. Now he is about to lose the support of most of the world by vetoing the recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations.
Obama is in a double-bind. He dare not alienate IPAC and the various lobbies of the American Jewish supporters of Israel, if he hopes to become re-elected in 2012, and he dare not alienate the Arab world. With the loss of the liberal progressives, the independents, and the Jewish vote, he would have little chance of becoming re-elected, but the sum of three years of compromising and waffling has put him in danger of being dumped by his own party in a “Draft Gore” campaign energized by just those environmentalists, liberal progressives, independents, and liberal Jews he has ignored. Even the Jewish vote is no longer a monolithic block as the Right Wing militarist extremists like Avigdor Lieberman and Benjamin Netanyahu have disgusted many Jewish supporters of Israel.
Let us zoom out for a moment to take in the Big Picture. The territorial nation-state was based upon land and distinct borders. The noetic polity of our age of instant electronic information is based upon consciousness. Cultural evolution has taken us to the point that we now have States of Consciousness. It is not simply that Governor Perry lives in Texas, and I live in Maine; we also do not live in the same State of Consciousness.
In this cultural evolution of the territorial industrial nation-state to the twenty-first century electronic noetic polity, manufacturing is no longer defined as a domestic process within borders. Cars are not made in Detroit, anymore than Apple computers are made in Cupertino; they are assembled by the activities of a global distributive lattice, a network. The globe begins to resemble a global brain—as Peter Russell pointed out long ago in the Seventies.
In this new system of identity, the old industrial working class thinks in terms of jobs: “I am what I do here.” But the members of the board of directors of a multinational corporation do not have such a patriotic sense of self. For the manager, identity is not a function of location, but of relationships within the network, the distributive lattice. And so he may have factories in China, raw materials in Africa, and tax-dodging bank accounts in Zurich and the Cayman Islands.
For the owners of the Republican and Democratic parties, politics is no longer a question of patriotism. The object is to own governments so that they can advance the financial objectives of their own kind—the members of their network. To accomplish this destruction of patriotism, patriotism itself has to be commoditized as entertainment in a theme park of a sentimentalized past. Like Disney’s collection of boutique nations in the mall that is EPCOT, Fox News has turned patriotism into a flat two-dimensional stage set. But what is behind the front is not the American people, but Rupert Murdoch.
From this perspective of understanding the cultural evolution from the territorial nation-state to the noetic polity, one can see the financial crisis of 2008 in a different light. The investment bankers of Goldman Sachs could work against the interest of their own clients to advance the interests of a select high-rolling few, because the little investors were simply seen as a form of informational proletariat–not unlike the old industrial proletariat of the workers and labor unions.
In a cultural transformation, the individual often cannot see, much less understand, what is going on. Like a fly crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the fly sees only alternating pixels of colors–much like the instantly shifting images of my neighbor’s gigantic TV that I see out my kitchen window. When the individual does not understand what is going on, he or she becomes terrified and reaches out to hold on to paranoid conspiracy theories to make sense of the world. And often, these conspiracy theories, like those of 9/11, are caricatures and epistemological cartoons that do recognize an emerging shape of things to come.
Seizures of identity can thus become more important for States of Consciousness than knowledge and reason. In fact, knowledge and reason are often now seen by the minimally educated as marks of a bicoastal metropolitan pointy-headed elite—from Stanford to Harvard and MIT–that wishes to take away the freedom of the common man in the Heartland from Texas in the South to Idaho and Alaska in the North. The supporters of Perry, Bachmann, and Palin see this elite as a menace that will use health insurance to force them to lose weight, quit smoking, stop eating junk food, and floss before going to bed. They fear the Federal Department of Education will brainwash their children with liberal values and educate them to accept abominations such as gay marriage. They see themselves as people of The Good Book surrounded by a multitude of agnostic and scientific Ph.Ds, just as they see Israel as the homeland of the Good Book surrounded by a multitude of Islamic infidels.
Beginning with the Anglo-Irish Treaty and Civil War in Ireland in the nineteen-twenties, and continuing on with, India, Pakistan, Israel, Africa, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, a black hole of tribal and religious violence was created by the disintegration of the British Empire. Now the military forces of the United States have been sucked across the event horizon into this massive black hole. After NATO’s intervention in Libya, Syria and Iran now loom on the horizon as opportunities for further American military interventions. It seems there is no way out for the United States except military exhaustion of our national resources and the collapse of another empire suffering from the deadly sin of superbia.
The collapse of the American nation-state, however, will not see the collapse of American members of the global board of directors. Like corporate raiders, these businessmen are in the process of buying up the American government in a hostile take-over, and soon through their agents of the Tea Party Libertarians, they will soon break up the domestic industries and sell off our natural resources. Just as the local residents have been displaced in Kentucky by Massey Coal’s leveling mountains and poisoning watersheds, so have the poor been displaced from Manhattan. There are no longer poor poets living in Greenwich Village. The only people who can now afford to live in Manhattan are rich foreigners and investment bankers.
Although no one wants to admit it, we are drifting back to the old world-system of empires and spheres of influence to maintain the streams of energy and potable water that world powers require. China needs Tibet for its watershed and its mountains as a high ground to contain India, just as we needed Hawaii to contain Japan and extend the phase-space of the American navy. China now also needs Central Asia for a gas pipeline for its expanding economy’s energy needs. Obama, with his rhetorical gift for great speech-making, is being used by our invisible industrial Directorate as liberal camouflage for the energy industry’s return to Empire as the Administration seeks to have permanent military bases in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan that can serve to contain Iran, Russia, and China. We are back at it with “the Great Game” of the nineteenth century. And in this new game, Israel and Iran are both seeking to be major players.
The entablature in the Arch of Titus shown above illustrates the heart-breaking historical depth to the desire to make Jerusalem in its entirety the capital of Israel, so Jewish feelings on this matter are thoroughly understandable.
In one of the most beautiful psalms in the Old Testament, 137, (King James of course!) the harpist in captivity laments: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” But the same Psalm goes from lament to rage against the Babylonians as it concludes: “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dashes thy little ones against the stones.” One of the reasons that I never could accept the Bible as the literal word of God is because this passage is clearly a man speaking, and not the God of compassion, mercy, and infinite understanding. Somehow, I just can’t see the Almighty blaming infants for the Babylonian Captivity and delighting in smashing their heads against the stones.
Roman Catholic parochial school children are not given the Bible to read so that they will not trouble their little heads over passages like this or I Kings: 14: 10: “Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.” Obviously, this is a human being talking, one full of rage and lust for revenge. Similarly, when a devout Jew claims that God gave the Jews the Holy Land and told them to kill Canaanites, Philistines, or Palestinians, I hear a man talking about his flawed imagination of God. The story of God walking with Abraham and promising him innumerable descendants and the land of Canaan was likely not written by Abraham, but by someone much later wishing to justify the invasion of Canaan. Since the nuns and priests did not want us to start thinking for ourselves over issues like these if we came upon violent passages less than divine, we were given a watered-down textbook of Bible Stories to read.
Human rage backed up by an all too human idea of divinity lasts a long time and appears to generate a peculiar genocidal rage that mere patriotism cannot match. Can you imagine President Lincoln bashing Confederate babies’ skulls against the stones?
When religions and vaguely bordered nomadic tribal encampments are called nations, a modern concept of nationhood is being superimposed on ancient forms of generationally shifting kingdoms and nomadic peoples. My ancestral Ireland, for example, was never a unified island; it was always subject to the laminar flows of different Celtic tribes and Norse and Norman peoples. Dublin and Limerick were originally Viking settlements. It is a historical fiction—and the source of much bloodshed–to invoke a mythic vision of a United Ireland that never existed. Similarly, Israel, Judah, and Samaria were like sand dunes shifting in the winds of history. There was no such thing then as a nation-state; there were only scattered tribes and kingdoms contesting one another’s territories: Canaanite, Philistine, Phoenician, Aramean, Samaritan, and Judean. Greater Israel, like a United Ireland, is a deadly mix of contemporary politics and religion.
My personal hope for my scattered and cantankerous Celts is that Scotland will continue to move toward independence from the forcefully United Kingdom and that the six counties of Northern Ireland will be given the chance to vote individually in a plebiscite whether the county wishes to join the Republic of Ireland or the Republic of Scotland. But perhaps this fanciful idea is just a clannish mode of thinking, since the Thompsons come from Ulster and Argyl–parts of the ancient tribal area of Dalriada. (On my mother’s side, the Faheys, O’Learys, and Hurleys are Catholics and come from the South.)
England can keep its German monarchy that was renamed the House of Windsor in World War One to avoid the embarrassment that came from its true German name, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The monarchy is for the English what Disney World’sHall of Presidents is for us: a theme park history, an entertainment industry, and a source of revenue for the tabloids, spectators, and tourists.
The U.S. Founding Fathers realized that we needed a constitutionally determined state in order to protect ourselves, not just from England, but also from our neighbor’s religion—and his politics. In the eighteenth century, ministers were like rock stars; their printed sermons were often bestsellers. When some clergy of the established Church of England went north to Canada to join the United Empire Loyalists, the ambitions of the Dissenting clergy were energized, because the new Republic gave them an opening for expansion. The Founding Fathers, as disciples of the Enlightenment, instituted the separation of Church and State to protect the body politic from the religious enthusiasts of their day. Contrary to what Christian fundamentalists like to claim today, the Founding Fathers never wanted our Republic to be a Christian theocracy. Indeed, many of them were Deists like Jefferson and Freemasons like Washington.
Religion is rooted in identity and not reason, and that is why people become unreasonable when they feel their identity or that of their group is threatened. Behind the mask of Birthers and Tea Partiers is the fear of rural Evangelical Protestants that the small town White America they were born into is now disappearing. Obama, who was born of mixed parentage in multi-racial Hawaii and partially educated in Indonesia, embodies their fears. And the sight of Michelle Obama, who is even more Black than Obama, as First Lady in a White House completely unsettles them. With a flood of Catholic Latinos and a smaller wave of an intelligentsia turning to Eastern paths of spirituality such as Yoga, Buddhism, and Suf’ism, rural Protestant America fears that it is losing its native ground. The crazies become Skinheads and Neo-Nazis, hold on to Dixie and the KKK in the South and to Aryan Nation in Idaho and Montana in the North. The remainder of the economically powerless and minimally educated but maximally resentful are drawn to Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Governor Perry’s Redneck populism—a populism ironically produced and funded by the billionaire Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch.
If we made the Southeast Baptist, the Southwest Catholic, Pennsylvania Quaker, New York City Jewish, Hollywood Scientologist, the Midwest Methodist, New England Presbyterian and Congregationalist, and the Pacific Northwest Native American animist–did I forget to mention Mormon Utah?–we would still not have peace in our time. The only way to have peace is to give freedom not to state-recognized-religions or sects but to the individual to choose his or her religion–or a complete lack thereof–and to have the state guarantee the civil liberties of each and all to protect atheistic intellectuals from religious fanatics, and women and children from the excesses and transgressions of religion, such as Pakistani honor killings, African and Kurdish genital mutilation, and Talibanic compulsory burkas, denial of education for girls, and house arrest for women.
But religious transgressions are not just Islamic. The solidly Roman Catholic Irish Free State was anything but free and soon became a nightmare of book censorship, child sexual abuse in the schools and orphanages run by the Church for the State, and slave labor in the Magdalen Sisters’ laundries.[ii] It wasn’t until the political power of the Catholic Church was curtailed that the Republic of Ireland began to grow and prosper as a civil society. And what was true for Ireland was equally true for Franco’s Spain, and, I suspect, will be true also for Israel when the power of the extreme Right rabbis is curtailed by a future Labor Party government.
When I was a child in parochial school, I remember seeing at the movies the propaganda films produced by the professionals of Hollywood for the United Jewish Appeal; and I remember choking up at the sight of Ben Gurion on a hill gazing toward the horizon, with a breeze lifting a white strand of hair on his prophet’s head. But the idealistic Israel of Aliya and kibbutz of my youth is gone. The rages and hostilities of Hamas and Likud have drawn us into yet another quagmire of history. The export of Jaffa oranges has been superseded by Uzis in the new militarized state of check-points and walls to break up contiguous Palestinian settlements and transform them into poorly watered disconnected fragments so that a two state solution can never be viable. And in this project, Sharon, Netanyahu and Lieberman have succeeded, for the isolated fragments of Palestine now are not enough to make a Swiss canton, much less a nation-state.
At the end of World War II, the Arabs were overjoyed to gain their freedom from the Ottoman Empire. Transjordan should have been established then as Palestine, and the historical Holy Land—merely two percent of the lands being transferred from the Ottoman Empire to the Arabs and Persians–should have been established as Israel, as Barbara Tuchman argued in her first book, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour. An Israel without Jerusalem and Hebron makes no sense except to a bureaucrat trying to please everyone and thereby creating the arbitrary lines in the sand that would guarantee conflict for decades to come. Fictional entities like Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan were created by English bureaucrats in the Foreign Office, and we have been living with their mistakes ever since.
It is doubtful that President Obama’s May 19th State Department speech with its call for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders will be workable anymore than its predecessors have been. Israel will never give up effective control of the West Bank anymore than we will give back Texas to Mexico or Hawaii to the Polynesians.
Humans are not mathematical or engineering problems that can be solved. The tragic fact of life is that there is no solution to the problem of Israel and Palestine that can ever prove acceptable to both sides, and that is why I feel that in the Manifest Destiny the Israelis have chosen for themselves, the Palestinians of Gaza will have to be absorbed into Egypt again, and the Palestinians of the West Bank will have to become part of Jordan again. Jerusalem, really, should belong to no political nation-state but should be a United Nations World City–a world treasure as the source of the three Abrahamic religions. And, yes, I know, such an arrangement will never happen because neither the Egyptians nor the Jordanians want the people and problems of Palestine, and they certainly have no desire to make life easier for Israelis by solving their main problem for them. In fact, Islamist parties prosper and sustain themselves by use of this trap of provoking Israeli violence and abuses against Palestinians. Therefore, what is most likely is a continuing Israeli expansion and takeover of more of the West Bank and East Jerusalem led by the settlers—the Oklahoma Sooners of our day.
In this method of territorial expansion, Likud has taken a page or two from American history. First it transformed Palestinian settlements into isolated native reservations; soon it will create a Cherokee “Trail of Tears” in which individual Palestinians families will be forced into Jordan or Syria, or to immigrate to whatever country will take them in. Then the citizens of Greater Israel will live hated by their neighbors and still be unsafe behind their new borders with their 200 nuclear warheads that are useless against Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.
The strong bipartisan American support for Israel and not Palestine is an interesting cultural phenomenon, for it is clearly neither fair nor in our national interest with our need of Arab oil to support our economy, so we make noises about a Two State Solution, but allow Israel to expand.
The U.S.’s support of Israel is curious because I can remember when I was a child that Anti-Semitism was all around me, and the Protestants were even more prejudiced than the Catholics. When I moved from Los Angeles to New York with my Jewish wife and therefore Jewish children, I was surprised to discover that there were apartment buildings on Fifth Avenue that would not rent or sell to Jews, that there were private clubs closed to them, and gated summer communities in the Adirondacks that would not sell cottages to them; and so they had to confine themselves to Grossinger’s Catskills. And as for summer holidays on the beach, Southampton was WASP and East Hampton was Jewish.
Now the Evangelicals have become passionate in their support for Israel as the Old Testament fountainhead of their biblical faith.
And this recognition is admirable in that it reminds us that there is something more than economics and a free market system to the meaning of a culture or a civilization, but this recent Protestant construction of a Judeo-Christian civilization has grown as American public distrust of Islam has increased–a distrust that began with the hostage taking of Americans in the Iranian Revolution of the nineteen-seventies and peaked with the terrorists attacks of 9/11. One hopes that if anti-Semitism can be overcome in a lifetime, then tolerance for Islam and recognition of its contributions to European civilization in the thirteenth and fourteenth century Renaissance can be built into the curricula of our schools—as we have done with the curriculum for the Ross School in East Hampton, New York, where the eighth grade children study the Convivencia of thirteenth-century Spain. If we take a satellite vision of the cultural ecology of the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages to notice the exchanges between Christendom and the Islamic Umahthrough Sicily, Majorca, and Andalusia, we can progress to the point of calling Judeo-Christian civilization Abrahamic civilization.
Only when an older generation has exhausted itself in passionate slaughter can the next generation in disgust at these dark and archaic forces of religion and politics lift its sights to something brighter than the black holes created by their parents.
Ireland is Ireland without being all Roman Catholic, and Iran should become Persia again to give religious freedom to Bahai’s, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Armenian Christians. It would be nice if Israel could become a secular state guaranteeing religious freedom and civil rights to its 1.5 million Arabs within it, but making nice seldom happens in history. So the Realpolitik of Israel will probably be to call for some strategy to preserve the Jewish state and disenfranchise the Israeli Arabs and the occupied Palestinians.
Because the Israelis fear being engulfed by a larger population of Arabs within Israel, they need to have some form of a Palestinian autonomous province or canton that can serve to disenfranchise Israeli Arabs by giving them absentee voting rights only in the Arab canton of what is left of the West Bank.
The reason Netanyahu does not want the UN to recognize Palestine as a state, is so he can stall for time while the settlers build more settlements and take over more water sources. By making Palestine unviable as a nation-state, then Israel can negotiate from a position of power to create an autonomous province that has its own police force, but lacks sovereignty and an army. (This is the same sort of solution that the Dalai Lama is proposing to China for the future of Tibet.)
This toxic mix of religion and nationalism, with its rule by extremist rabbis, has been as bad for Israel as rule by the Catholic hierarchy was for Ireland. The expansion of an exclusively Jewish state has brought about the militarization of Israeli society, and its continuation will insure that the tragedies of Israel’s long history will also continue.
Marx was wrong when he said that history repeats itself—the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. This time the tragedy of history will repeat itself as another tragedy. For this inevitable doom–this Ananke–there is no escape; there is only the death of the antagonists who are locked into the world-view that is the source of their destruction.
[i] For a diagnosis, see David W. Orr’s Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (Oxford University Press: New York, 2009).
[ii] See the film The Magdalen Sisters for a study of Ireland in the period of 1964-65—the period I lived in Ireland.
William Irwin Thompson (born July, 1938) is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He has made significant contributions to cultural history, social criticism, the philosophy of science, and the study of myth. He describes his writing and speaking style as “mind-jazz on ancient texts”. He is an astute reader of science, social science, history, and literature. He is the founder of the Lindisfarne Association.
His book, Still Travels: Three Long Poems was published in 2009 by Wild River Books. Order a copy from Amazon.
Works by William Irwin Thompson
Memoir – Farewell Address at the Lindisfarne Fellows Conference
Memoir – Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne: 1972
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part I
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part 2: A Community in Fishcove, Long Island
Memoir – Building a Dream – Part One: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – My Dinner with Andre Gregory: Lindisfarne-in-Manhattan, 1977-1979
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Shadow Side Part Two: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Cathedral Part Three: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Conclusion: The Economic Relevance of Lindisfarne
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary: Reflections of a Homeschooling Parent
Memoir – Sex and the Commune
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary
Memoir – With Gregory Bateson’s Mind in Nature
After Heart Surgery: Hokusai’s Great Wave
A Lazy Sunday Afternoon
Nancy Grayson’s Bookstore
On Reading “The Penguin Book of English Verse”: on my iPad and Exercise Bike
Wild River Books/Poetry – Nightwatch and Dayshift: Cezanne
Anatolian Days and Nights and the Cultural Evolution of Spirituality
And the Votes are In: The American Elections of 2010
Avatar – When Technology Displaces Culture
Bedtime Story for a Civilization
The Big Picture: Reflections on Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
The Big Picture, II
Child Abuse and the Catholic Church
The Digital Economy of W. Brian Arthur
From Shamanism to Religion, Part Two
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality, Part Three
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality: Conclusion
January 1, 2011: Reflections on the Philosophical Notions of Republicans
January 6, 2011 – Part Two: The Etherealization of Capitalism
Nature and Invisible Environments
Of Culture and the Nature of Extinction
On Nuclear Power
On Religion – Part One
On Religion and Nationalism: Ireland, Israel, and Palestine
On Transnational Military Interventions
A Pagan Ur-Text of the Lebor Gebála Érenn
Part 1 – The Shift from Industrial to a Planetary Civilization
Part 2 – The Shift from an Industrial to Planetary Civilization
Part 3 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The Recovery of a Cosmic Orientation
Part 4 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – The Global War for Drugs
Part 5 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The New Jerusalem
Part 6 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Catastrophes as the Spur to Institute Tricameral Legislature
Part 7 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Complex Dynamical Systems and Tricameral Legislatures
Part 8 – The Shift from a Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Israel and Palestine: Sic transit gloria mundi
Part 9 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – On Sarah Palin and the Technocratic Society
Part 10 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – On Conspiracy Narratives as Expressive of the Transition from the Nation: State to the Noetic Polity
Part 11 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Global Awareness and Personal Identity
Part 12 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Conclusion: The United Nations
Political Meditation for the Fourth of July, 2011: Can We Shift from Empire Back to Republic?
St. David’s Day, 2011, Technology and Social Change
Saint Patrick’s Day, 2010: Us and Them: Identity and the State
Some Reflections on Hurricane Sandy and an Outline for a New Civilization
Technical Hubris: and the Sinkhole of Obama’s Centrism
Television and Social Class
Thanksgiving Day, 2010: The Uses and Abuses of History
The Elections of 2010
Thoughts on My new Kindle App: on My Mac iPad