Monday, April 16, 2007

Globalization of obscurantism

See also my original post with comments at Freethought Forum.

Written 15 January 2007:

“The trouble with most folks ain’t so much their ignorance as knowing so many things that ain’t so.”
Josh Billings

“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
—Meslier, Voltaire, Diderot?

What a world of contradictions. A world of many dead ends. Today I celebrate with anger the birthday of revolutionary Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr., mourn the death of jazz musician Alice Coltrane (a convert to Hinduism), and commemorate the birthday of a pioneer of freethought and the Enlightenment:

Jean Meslier (January 1664—1733): Priest, Materialist, Atheist

Here in the USA of course we are preoccupied with the threats of the Christian Right and fundamentalist Islam. More generally, we are known to complain about the Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, Islam—and more generally still about theism. But that’s only the half of it. The rest of the world is as bankrupt as the half we know.

Some of us also have an interest in Eastern religions and mysticisms and are concerned with their validity or invalidity. Then of course there are African belief systems which outside of their areas of origin only have a significant impact on segments of the black diaspora.

It’s a world of ignorance, superstition, and savagery.

But it’s also important to note that there is a whole history of collusion of western and non-western obscurantism that began with the European penetration of China and India in the 17th century, i.e. linkages to the most reactionary inidigenous ideologies—Confucianism and Hinduism. Such collusion persists in altered forms in the present day, with Western postmodernism fueling Hindu and Confucian revivals, for example. Globalization, instead of harkening a new Enlightenment, is bringing us to the verge of a new Dark Age. The main culprits are the neoliberal economic order, neo-imperialism, and neo-fascist religious revivalism, but this barbarism carries on its work in the realms of theology and philosophy as well.

Here are a few links to show you what I mean.

First, you can keep up with other relevant writings of mine on my own blog:

Studies in a Dying Culture

The permalinks for recent entries are:

Reactionary Chinese & other wisdom in comparative perspective

The Legitimacy of Chinese Philosophy (1)

The Legitimacy of Chinese Philosophy (2)

On another front, see a blog entry from December:

The Dead End of African Philosophy: Which Way Out?

On still another, see: Swami Agehananda Bharati (1923–1991)

In December I published a review in the Indian press:
Secularism, science and the Right”[Review of Meera Nanda, The Wrongs of the Religious Right: Reflections on Science, Secularism and Hindutva], Frontline, Volume 23, Issue 24, Dec. 02–15, 2006.

See also: Meera Nanda Online

“Fascism has awakened a sleeping world to the realities of the irrational, mystical character structure of the people of the world.”—Wilhelm Reich


Ralph Dumain said...

Response to a commentator, 16 January 2007:

Yes, of course. Just one point to emphasize: what I am referring to is not the direct influence of Western intellectuals on the superstitious non-Western masses, it is the collusion of Western intellectuals with the intellectuals of the East. The latter are not necessarily superstitious in the same sense. They seem to live in an ivory tower as do their Western counterparts, and of course some of them have academic posts in Europe or the USA. They have various ideological and political agendas. It is important to note that the assault on scientific or “Western” rationality plays very well into the hands of various nationalist agendas including fascist ones (as with Hindutva in India), though in the West the postmodernists are basically liberals, some with radical pretensions. This never could have happened before the ‘60s, though indeed some elements of the left appropriated some of the ideas of the Right for ostensibly different purposes: the popularity of the proto-fascist Nietzsche and the Nazi Heidegger is symptomatic. The ideological distintegration in question was one of the more unfortunate legacies of the ‘60s, but only one tendency—it could not have gotten as far as it did were it not for the collapse of social democracy (what we call in the USA call “liberalism”) and the general economic and social decline of the Western capitalist democracies as well as the moribund condition of the Stalinist states in the late ‘70s.

Ralph Dumain said...

My response to objections about my remarks on Nietzsche, 28 January 2007:

Any intelligent individual who cares to pursue the question of Nietzsche can begin with my web page:

Anti-Nietzsche Bibliography

On the more general question of the irrationalist tradition in philosophy over the past two centuries, see my:

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide