Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Five Admissions of Natural Liberation Philosophy

The five admissions of Natural Liberation Philosophy are:
    Individual humans are mortal.
    Nature is everything.
    Past and future are as real as the present.
    People depend on society, and society depends on nature.
    Continuity beyond an individual life is found in society and nature.

Why do we call these admissions? Philosophers traditionally have become confused by trying to work from axioms or postulates, in the manner of Euclid. While this approach has its merit at times, it often leads to errors. Nature, or reality, is not built on axioms or postulates.

We believe that individuals making these admissions have a basic, correct orientation towards nature, society, and themselves. Distinguishing what is true from what is false is a complex process, made more difficult for most people by the various illusionists philosophies and religions.

We believe that admitting that you are mortal, and that nature is a greater power than any human individual or group of people, is a fundamental indicator of one's philosophical standing.

We could call these points conclusions, for they are often conclusions reached after much study and consideration. But admissions implies that once there was doubt, and now things are clear.

We could have picked other points for our 5 admissions, or used less or more points. These cover the basic admissions an individual makes that allow for: ethical development; a correct view of one's relationship to nature; rejection of illusionist ideas.

Some related essays:

Natural Truth. A summary by William P. Meyers

Philosophy in Tune with Nature [February 8, 2007]

Groping Towards Reality 1 [May 23, 2009]

If Wishes Were Horses [December 10, 2008]

Charles Darwin Was God's Prophet [June 17, 2008]

Questions to the Illusionists [March 22, 2008]

The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking [March 28, 2007]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Episcopal Church and the Evil Empires

In the news recently we had a case of Pope Benedict poaching Anglican priests. This is news only in the sense that it is the latest incident in the long history of the battle between the Roman Catholic Church and those it considers heretics. It falls into the pattern of the Roman Church trying to take religion back to the Middle Ages, before the Protestant Reformation. But not back before 600 A.D., before the Bishop of Rome's claims of authority over all Christians began to take hold in Western Europe.

My focus has always been on the Catholic Church, with other Christian sects being secondary. The Protestants are less scary because they a fragmented. They typically have not been able to oppress people on a larger-than-national basis.

The Anglican Church (churches affiliated with the Church of England), known in the United States of America as the Episcopal Church, is an exception. In this essay I'll look at the big historic picture of this Church. I'll leave the controversies about homosexual and female ministers, as well as theological differences with other sects, until later.

The most important big picture item is something called the British Empire. It does not amount to much today, but starting around 1600 the British (England, Scotland and Wales) started expanding rapidly. They grabbed sugar islands in the Caribbean and cut into the Dutch spice trade with Asia as best they could. Eventually the empire included much of North America, Africa, and Asia, as well as Australia. It was the largest empire the world has seen, and by any reasonable standard (killing, raping, stealing, and oppressing) it was at least as evil as any empire in history.

The official theology of this evil empire was that of the Anglican Church. Of course men had other motivations, mainly greed and lust for power. Anglo-American apologists claim that religion was a mitigating factor. If the British had all been atheists, we are led to believe, the sins of the Empire would have been worse. But that is a phony analysis. If the Jesus doctrine of love sometimes caused an act of mercy, I don't want to discount that. But it is more important to understand how Anglican beliefs and culture contributed to the violence required to build the British Empire.

When the Anglican Church separated from the Roman Church around 1538, for the most part the basic theology of the Church remained intact. In addition to recognizing that the Pope was not the ordained leader of the early Christians, many of the practices added by Rome during the Middle Ages were stripped out of the mix.

Did the Anglican Church contribute to the brutal British Empire because it continued to hold so much in common with the Roman branch of the Christian Church? Both religions spawned brutal empires, so the answer, on the whole, has to be yes. The other fundamental question, would the British have established their global empire had they not been Anglican, is harder to answer. Marxists would tend to say yes. Like the Dutch, who the English lagged behind and then overtook, the British Empire developed alongside modern industrial capitalism. Marxists would typically argue that as the religion of the capitalist ruling class of Britain, the religion (a social superstructure, in Marxist terms), or the imperialist interpretation of it, simply comes to reflect the needs of capital. I think that is too simple.

Nationalism certainly played a role in the formation of the Anglican church. The combined forces of 16th and 17th century (merchant piracy abroad and industrial development within Britain) were reinforced by the idea that Jesus and his (in this case Anglican) Church were destined to spiritual conquer of the world. The missionary went arm in arm with the conquering armies, the slave traders, and the rapacious merchants. In the 1800's it seemed as if Anglican, and American Episcopal, churches would become the dominant Christian, and then global, religion.

The very idea that there is a God and a group of specialists (bishops and ministers) that know His will provides a cultural prop for Empire. Resisting native populations can be classified as uncivilized and heathen. Basic rights, like the right to their private property and to self-determination, can be denied in good faith. Attitudes of religious superiority tie in well with racism and cultural imperialism.

The crimes of the British against their colonial subjects are too numerous to detail in such a short essay. But it should be noted that the American empire (which began by killing native American Indians, eventually extended to the Philippines and Puerto Rico, and in its commercial and government-by-puppets current form rules the world) was largely a creation of men who belonged to the Episcopal Church. The elite of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant segment of the population of the United States were highly concentrated in the Episcopal Church. George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Chester Arthur, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush were all Episcopalians. [See also religions of U.S. Presidents]

The Episcopal Church is no longer the affiliation of choice for aspiring American politicians. The votes are just not there any more - Episcopalians number only about 2 million. However, on a global scale the Anglican church cannot be discounted, as it is still the largest of the Protestant churches, with about 75 million members.

I hope to develop this subject further over time. Anglican v. Roman Christianity is a classic compare and contrast subject that can illuminate the role of religion in global affairs. The question of how religion props up empires, or encourages oppression within a nation, has not yet been answered to my satisfaction.

See also: Anglican Communion at Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Sand Pebbles, China, and Calvin Coolidge

The Sand Pebbles is a novel by Richard McKenna about a U.S. gunboat crew in China in the 1920's.

Can you imagine a novel about the crew of a Chinese, British, Japanese, or any other nationality of gunboat sailing up and down, say, the Mississippi in the 1920's, blasting away at people? If you are American, of course not. If anyone had done that to us, we would have gone to war over it. It would be an insult to the American people and their sovereignty. Such a novel would need to be truly a work of the imagination.

But McKenna's The Sand Pebbles is not a work of imagination, although it is fictionalized. McKenna served on a U.S. gunboats in China in the 1930s, and had access to men who served on such gunboats in the 1920s.

One could argue that the U.S. gunboats, and the ones from Great Britain, France, and Japan, were not violating Chinese sovereignty because they were allowed under treaties China had signed with the gunboat nations. On the other hand the treaties had been signed by the Chinese at gunpoint, and signed by the old Manchu, imperial government that only pretended to rule and had been entirely swept away by the nationalist revolution of 1912. But by the end of World War I the Chinese government was mainly a fiction. War lords ruled various parts of China, imperialist powers ruled their colonies and zones, and in addition the imperialists played the war lords against each other when they could.

To almost all Chinese, the gunboats were an assault on their national sovereignty. In the 1920s even Chiang Kai-shek, then allied with Russia, but who would later become a U.S. puppet, wanted the gunboats removed.

Which brings us to President Calvin Coolidge, who ascended to the office when Warren Harding died in 1923 and served until March 1929. American history students are encouraged to think of "silent Cal" as a do-nothing Republican who was lucky enough to preside over the economic boom of the Roaring Twenties. But Cal did plenty of stuff, including the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which was supposed to outlaw war. It is hard to imagine a Republican or Democrat president even pretending to try to outlaw war today.

Yet Calvin was tough on the Chinese, if The Sand Pebbles is to be believed. Commerce was in jeapardy. American troops were stationed in Shanghai; more were brought there by the U.S.S. Stewart in January 1925. By 1928 the new Nationalist government of China, headed by Chiang Kai-shek, was looking better to the United States ruling class. Most Chinese warlords acknowledged Chiang as their leader, and he threw the Communists out of the nationalist party, the Kuomintang. Having voted with guns, no elections were deemed necessary. Calvin Coolidge recognized the new government of China, which was willing to cater to American interests, and a continued U.S. naval presense on Chinese rivers.

The Sand Pebbles movie starred Steve McQueen and is well worth watching. The book, however, contains many scenes that are not in the movie that provide a lot of insight into Chinese-American relations in that era.

Also notable is that Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924. He said disagreed with the provision excluding Japanese immigrants. He should have vetoed it, for such racist acts kept Japan and the U.S. on a path to war. By the standards of the times Coolidge was no racist, but while he spoke out in favor of civil rights for African Americans, he sponsored no legislation to that end.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama's Remnant Sale

I quote from Robert Fisk's The Great War For Civilization, page 928:

The soldiers in my dispatch, of course, were Russian. Indeed, just as I recall the Soviet officer who told us all at Bagram air base that the "mujahedin terrorism remnants" were all that was left of the West's conspiracy against peace-loving (and Communist) Afghans, so I observed the American spokesmen—yes, at the very same Bagram air base—who today cheerfully assert that al-Qaeda "remnants" are all that are left of bin Laden's legions.
This, of course, was written some time ago. These days the Barack Obama administration talks more about the Taliban than al-Qaeda. There seem to be a thousand Taliban fighting the U.S. for every al-Qaeda that shows up for battle. The administration (filled with the vultures of yesteryear) hedges its bets on how easy it will be to sell off the remnants, or at least on getting some of the Taliban to betray Afghanistan by getting in bed with America. The administration openly talks about bribing Afghans to switch to the U.S. side, which is how things are done in Chicago, so I can't say it won't work for Obama in this case, too.

The remnant sale is very important to the rulers of America, who are selling the American public as much as they are selling Afghans. The Afghan warlords, who have their own reason to hate the Taliban and are happy to take American "aid" while enjoying U.S. help in cutting some of their competitors out of poppy business, may not even really want the Taliban to win. They remember how America abandoned them as soon as the last Russian tank left Afghan soil.

Of course what Fisk is trying to say is that the "remnants" are the people of Afghanistan. The only way to get rid of them is to engage in genocide. As poor as my opinion of Obama has become, I doubt he's ready to commit genocide on the massive scale that would be required to win the war in Afghanistan. True, it worked against the American Indians, and it worked for the U.S. in the Philippines, but it failed in Vietnam. In fact, it would take more than mere genocide. It would take pro-American settlers, probably actual American settlers, to fill in the ecological niche opened up, otherwise in a generation or two the Afghans would breed back up to threatening levels.

But maybe I underestimate President Obama. I have consistently underestimated him since he was just another corrupt politician from Chicago.

Take the Nobel Peace Prize. Most men would have felt they had to negotiate a peace, or at least a temporary cease fire, or decline the prize, but not Obama. He talked of "just war" as if he were engaged in one. He pretends to be sophisticated, but he's no different than any previous American president. America is always just; whoever we attack is evil. George Bush could not have put it better.

Humans have the capacity of learning by aping other humans, but there is another lest-talked about human ability. Deciding that a behavior is stupid, and should not be aped. Learning from other people's failures is a perfectly valid education paradigm.

Barack Obama was able to learn how to get to be President of the United States. But having seen the U.S. fail in Vietnam, and the Russians fail in Afghanistan, he is still drawn to an unwinnable war in Afghanistan the way a cheap politician is drawn to a tawdry campaign contribution. To withdraw from Afghanistan without "victory" would undercut Obama's understanding with the military-industrial-investment banking complex. He has always covered up his lack of other skills with his rhetorical flourishes. But the Taliban seem immune to his rhetoric.

It is Winter in Afghanistan. The Afghan nationalists (aka Taliban) traditionally don't fight in winter, so moving in another 30,000 or so American troops will be easy enough. That is the nature of a quagmire, as both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon learned in Vietnam. If the invaded nation is determined, the war goes on until the invaders quit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Remembering Pearl Harbor

When I was a child in the 1960's remembering Pearl Harbor was a big deal. Things were simpler then, in my child's mind, which simply reflected what I heard from my parents, teachers, and television.

The attack on the U.S. Navy's base at Pearl Harbor (which included attacks on nearby military airfields and naval base) on December 7, 1941 was a clear demonstration of the essentially good nature of the United States of America, and the essentially evil nature of our World War II enemies, the Japanese and the Nazis. Having a German last name for our family, we did not like to lump in American Germans with those terrible Nazi Germans.

Over the years, gradually, I learned more about World War II and the events leading up to it, about Japanese, German, and in particular American history. A simplistic black and white picture turned into complex gray shapes and eventually into the colors of reality. In effect I was learning from other people's memories, or remembering events that occurred before I was born that had a big impact on my life in particular. My father was in the Marine Corp that infamous day, and later participated in the battle of Guadalcanal, where he caught malaria. My mother joined the women Marines a couple of years later and met my father when they were both stationed in Hawaii during the war.

Now I am doing research for my history of the U.S. War Against Asia, and I can remember a great deal that Americans are supposed to conveniently forget.

Did President Franklin Roosevelt know that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, and sacrifice American lives there in order to goad the nation into a war frenzy, much as President Bush was accused of doing with the World Trade Center attacks? No, but the reality was worse. The United States had informally declared war, as had the Japanese. Recall that the U.S. itself often goes to war without a formal declaration of war, as for instance in Vietnam and in its many attacks on Native American nations. In fact General MacArthur was given permission to attack the Japanese in Formosa (now Taiwan) well before Pearl Harbor. Every U.S. commander in the Pacific knew an attack from the Japanese was very likely. No, it was just plain military incompetence that allowed the attack to be a surprise. The Japanese attack fleet expected the U.S. navy to detect their presence before the attack. They were surprised that their attack was as surprising and successful as it turned out to be.

More important, I think it is fair to say that the United States, or President Roosevelt, forced Japan into the war. William Manchester, who in American Caesar shows little sympathy with the Japanese, relates "Ever since Roosevelt had goaded the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, the war-making powers of Congress had been atrophying." [page 556] The Japanese puppets in China were fighting the U.S. puppet in China, and the imperialist powers [France, Great Britain, Holland and the U.S.] were crippling the Japanese economy with an embargo. The Japanese had allied with the Axis powers only because they had no where else to go. Neither Italy nor Germany had colonies in Asia. In fact the record shows that Japanese repeatedly offered to break their alliance with the Axis if only the U.S. and Great Britain would allow them access to oil and other natural resources that the islands of Japan lacked.

The whole affair was tinged with racism. Recall that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the leader of the racist Democratic Party that kept African-Americans in virtual slavery in much of the United States during this era. Even in the 1960's I was taught that all non-white people, including the Japanese, were inferior while living in the almost 100% Democrat city of Jacksonville, Florida. Most American leaders felt that Japan should have been colonized by white people like every other Asian nation. The fact that Japan had developed its economy and military to the point where it could resist colonization in itself was a threat to American, British, French and Dutch colonies and spheres of influence in Asia. These colonial powers were not against military intervention in China or the rest of Asia; they were only against Japanese intervention. Remember that the U.S. still held the Philippines as a slave colony and military outpost, ground under the heel of General MacArthur. The Japanese liberated the Philippines and allowed the Philippines to declare independence soon after Pearl Harbor.

Why did the U.S. not gone to war with Germany before Pearl Harbor? There had been plenty of excuses. Partly by staying neutral the U.S. was able to more rapidly shift to producing the armaments that would eventually allow it to win the war. But I think Roosevelt and other racist and anti-communist Americans were ambivalent about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, who killed over ten million communists during the war.

Another coloring factor is the contradiction to the pretensions that America was a peaceful nation that would never have attacked the Japanese. The fleet at Pearl Harbor was there specifically to attack the Japanese. Another huge invasion fleet had sailed from the West Coast towards the Philippines before Pearl Harbor. The United States had ten times the industrial capacity of Japan, and the Japanese knew that Roosevelt planned to cripple them as a nation. They expected to lose a war with America. Top military leaders in Japan believed they were very likely to lose a war with America. But they believed (with good evidence) that to the extent they had any chance to defend Japan, they had to take the initiative. The record shows they were quite surprised at how incompetent the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines were at the beginning of the war.

Later the myth was created that the Japanese (recall they were viewed as an inferior people) were incompetent soldiers who only achieved success by duplicity. But as far as I can tell, while they had their share of incompetent officers, and any office can make a bad guess and have an apparently incompetent moment, the Japanese were at least as good in general as the U.S. when it came to strategy, tactics, and execution. They lost the war because of the overwhelming industrial capacity of the U.S. Every time they sank a U.S. war ship, we built three more. But they were not able to replace their own losses. And because the leader of the Democratic Party, President Harry Truman, was willing to commit horrendous war crimes, most notably the atomic demolition of the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Imagine how you would feel about an argument about war crimes if the Japanese had nuked Oakland or San Francisco and argued that the large number of civilian casualties were justified by the effect on local military bases, and by saving the lives of the Japanese soldiers who would have been needed to invade the U.S.

In contrast (and also in contrast to Japanese war crimes in China and elsewhere), the battle of Pearl Harbor had few if any civilian casualties caused by the Japanese. The Japanese carefully targetted U.S. war material and military personnel.

Looking forward, you can see why most people believe that China will eventually surpass the United States as a military power, just as in the 20th century the U.S. surpassed Great Britain. Our government has spent so much money on the military that it has crippled the economy, while China has been basically at peace with the world since the imperial powers and their puppet Chiang Kai-shek were tossed out in the late 1940s.

More: Wikipedia on the Battle of Pearl Harbor

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lies Barack Obama Told Me

For your convenience, President Barack Obama's speech on Afghanistan is this color and font. This is not a complete transcript.

Lies of fact are this color.
Lies of omission are this color.
Lies of interpretation are this color.
My comments are this color and font.

I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan ... my administration will bring this war to a successful conclusion. He's a prophet, too?

It is important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3000 people. This is avoiding what happened before September 11, 2001 and Islamic grievances. The U.S. had engaged in war on Al Qaeda and Afghanistan already, most notably making an attack with cruise missiles on August 20, 1998. The U.S. had helped Israel slaughter far more innocent Palestinian persons than were killed on September 11. The U.S. also had placed military bases in Saudi Arabia, not really giving the dictators of that country any choice in the matter. Even these events are just the latest in a long train of events that followed the dismantling of the Turkish Empire by England, France and the U.S. after World War I.

... They were harbored by the Taliban, a ruthless, repressive, and radical movement to seize control of that country. The Taliban were not as ruthless as the U.S. ruling class, were less oppressive than U.S. allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and were conservative, not radical. They brought peace and stability to Afghanistan, ousting a bunch of ultra-violent women-raping opium-growing warlords.

The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing. The Vote in the house was 420 to 1. Hey, that's true, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party voted for an illegal war against the people of Afghanistan and are responsible for the large number of civilian casualties that followed, as well as toppling a legitimate government.

Only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden, we sent our troops into Afghanistan. But refusing to extradite someone is not a just cause of war. Afghanistan did not attack the U.S., even though we first attacked Afghanistan on August 20, 1998.

As cadets, you volunteer for service during this time of danger. I am pretty sure we pay our military personnel.

As Commander in Chief I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After eighteen months our troops will begin to come home. This is pure politics, a balance of placating militarists and Americans who know we are wasting our resources in Afghanistan. It is not about vital national interest.

They [the new troops] will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans. Sounds like Vietnamization to me, and should read "to our puppet Afghans."

The days of providing a blank check are over. Actually, the U.S. has provided minimal funding for our puppet government. I am betting that this phrase means blank checks will now be written in political desperation.

They have been confronted with occupation by the Soviet Union and then by foreign Al Qaeda fighters. Al Qaeda fighters helped liberate Afghanistan from the Soviet Union. They never "occupied" Afghanistan, they were welcomed guests. The only occupier right now is the U.S., unless you count its imperialist Euro allies.

There are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam ... Unlike Vietnam we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations ... Unlike Vietnam we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. The U.S. had a bunch of allies in Vietnam who contributed more troops than are being contributed to Afghanistan. And the Taliban are certainly roughly as popular in Afghanistan as the Viet Cong were in South Vietnam. How else would the Taliban be doing so well when they are up against Americans who fight mainly from the air with advanced modern weaponry?

Most importantly unlike Vietnam the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan. Double lies here. The September 11, 2009 attack was broadly based in Islamic nations, notably Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And Lyndon Johnson claimed North Vietnam did attack the U.S. in the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Obama the Hun

For years now I have been trying to explain, to anyone who would listen, that the Democratic Party is essentially a war crimes organization that is also used by the ruling class of the U.S. as a safety-valve alternative to the Republican Party. I predicted, early and often, that Barack Obama would turn out to be just another sleazy politician from Chicago, turned to a Class 1 war criminal by his elevation to the Presidency of the United States of America.

Why write that all again? Just because he is escalating the war against the people of Afghanistan?

Instead here is a ditty to sing, if you like:

I am in love with Obama the Hun,
Obama the Hun, Obama, the Hun,
We'll pillage a village and kill everyone,
But I still love Obama the Hun!

Melody, traditional. New words by yours truly. It is especially fun to sing around Democrats who were against the Bush wars but now support the Obama wars.

Want to review the data, to see my earlier predictions of where we would be if Barack Obama became President?

Afghanistan: the Last Crusade? [May 9, 2009]

Obama's Asian War Extension Course [March 30, 2009]

President Obama Does Afghanistan [February 10, 2009]

Same As the Old Boss? President Obama Bombs Pakistan [January 24, 2009]

Presidents Barack Obama and James Buchanan [November 30, 2008]

The Yes We Can Election [November 5, 2008]

Barack Obama Compared to Andrew Jackson [January 28, 2008]