Noam Chomsky on The Costs of Violence – Part 2

Banksy Graffiti Art On West Bank Barrier

In brief, the Global War on Terror sledgehammer strategy has spread jihadi terror from a tiny corner of Afghanistan to much of the world, from Africa through the Levant and South Asia to Southeast Asia. It has also incited attacks in Europe and the United States. The invasion of Iraq made a substantial contribution to this process, much as intelligence agencies had predicted. Terrorism specialists Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank estimate that the Iraq War “generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and thousands of civilian lives lost; even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one-third.” Other exercises have been similarly productive.

Noam Chomsky on the masters of mankind (Part 1)

René Burri’s original photo from São Paulo in 1960. Credit René Burri/Magnum Photos

When we ask “Who rules the world?” we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading.

States of course have complex internal structures, and the choices and decisions of the political leadership are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the general population is often marginalized. That is true even for the more democratic societies, and obviously for others. We cannot gain a realistic understanding of who rules the world while ignoring the “masters of mankind,” as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires, and the like. Still following Smith, it is also wise to attend to the “vile maxim” to which the “masters of mankind” are dedicated: “All for ourselves and nothing for other people” -- a doctrine known otherwise as bitter and incessant class war, often one-sided, much to the detriment of the people of the home country and the world.

In the contemporary global order, the institutions of the masters hold enormous power, not only in the international arena but also within their home states, on which they rely to protect their power and to provide economic support by a wide variety of means. When we consider the role of the masters of mankind, we turn to such state policy priorities of the moment as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the investor-rights agreements mislabeled “free-trade agreements” in propaganda and commentary. They are negotiated in secret, apart from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists writing the crucial details. The intention is to have them adopted in good Stalinist style with “fast track” procedures designed to block discussion and allow only the choice of yes or no (hence yes). The designers regularly do quite well, not surprisingly. People are incidental, with the consequences one might anticipate.

XII. Letter Eleven: Friendship

Letter Eleven on Friendship

In the same way, since, for each member of the Church, the friend of a brother must be the friend of a brother, but only the friend of this partic­ular brother, not the friend of everyone, there must necessarily be a force that orders and maintains the individuality of the union of friends. To­gether with a uniting force that takes one outside individual existence, there must be an isolating force, which sets a limit to diffuseness and in personality. Together with a centrifugal force, there must be a centripetal one, This force is jealousy, and its function is to isolate, separate, delimit, differentiate. If this force did not exist, there would be no concrete church life with its specific order. Instead, we would have protestant, anarchistic, communistic, Tolstoyan, etc. mixing of all with all. We would have total formlessness and chaos. The force of jealousy is alive in both friendship and marriage, in an eparchy as well as in a local parish or a monastery. It is alive everywhere. 8 Everywhere it is necessary to have definiteness of connections and constancy of unions, be it with a friend, a wife, a starets, a pastor, a bishop, a metropolitan, or a patriarch. In other words, everywhere there must be not only love but also jealousy. There must be jeal­ousy toward friend, wife, congregation, brothers, eparchy, or local church. We must now get a deeper insight into this concept, which is so important but usually so little explored.

An Altar in the Wilderness – Book Trailer

Kaleeg Hainsworth, drawing upon his experiences in the Canadian wilderness, grounds his book in the literary, philosophical, mystical and historical teachings of the spiritual masters of both East and West, outlining the human experience of the sacred in nature. He offers a vision of life in which a human being stands in the world of nature as at an altar built in the wilderness, a sacred offering in a holy place.