Mao famously said that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Suggesting that in order to take outright political control the armed struggle is an absolute necessity. And although this is known as one of the famous creeds of Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory, it has also clearly been adopted by those on the other side of the barricades, most aggressively by the United States.
Gandhi on the other hand taught that the monopoly on courage is held by those who stand and face the cannons, not by those who cower behind them. Guns (or insert drones here) are for the cowards in other words.
Until American society chooses Gandhi’s message over Mao’s message as its overarching philosophy on violence, and commits to teaching it from the earliest grades in schools and to echoing it repeatedly and endlessly in the media, no mere tweaking of easily circumvented gun laws will make the fundamental difference. There are no quick fixes, it will take generations. Shame is a powerful human driver and nobody aspires to be known as a coward…
Einstein famously said: “God does not play dice with the universe.” Centuries earlier the christian philosopher Blaise Pascal similarly ruminated on God’s connection to gambling. Pascal’s Wager simply put says:
- If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven: thus an infinite gain.
- If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever: thus an infinite loss.
- If you believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded: thus a finite loss.
- If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded, but you have lived your own life: thus a finite gain.
||God does not exist
|Believe in God
||Infinite gain in heaven
|Disbelieve in God
||Infinite loss in hell
(Above is from From Rationalwiki.org)
Pascal (1623 – 1662) was reacting primarily to the essays of Montaigne, the most popular skeptic of the day. Medieval theology was by then fading almost entirely from vogue, crushed on the shoals of the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. For the religious set the trend was certainly in the wrong direction. In response Pascal crafted an apologetic for Christianity which is basically an exercise in managing on the margins of reason. Based on probability theory and game theory his Wager attempted to show that it is a no-brainer for someone to believe that God exists, even though this cannot be proved or disproved through reason. If one is willing to “bet” on the existence of God, even without certainty or proof, with no guarantee of winning the bet, that option still far outweighs the alternative with regard to potential gains. Makes sense…
But this assumes that God has taken the bet. After all, the Wager appeals to a base, some would say biological, instinct for self-preservation rather than to an ideal faith in some cosmic omniscient being. In fact, if God does exist, and is indeed a gambler, might not a person who is willing to take a big risk for his/her belief (or disbelief as the case may be) rate higher in God’s estimation than one who is just defaulting to the safest position to cover his bet (or rear-end)? Should one spend a lifetime collecting silver bullets on the off chance that there are werewolves bent on killing him? Or take a risk and ignore the wager? The answer: who knows?
BBC- A Brief History of Disbelief
BBC – Disbelief Exras
Einstein on God
Richard Feynman on God
George Carlin on God
Richard Dawkins on God
Why I Am Not A Christian – Bertrand Russell
Image via Wikipedia
Like all craftsman and builders in history, Mao worked with the materials available at hand– peasants. It wasn’t the crisis of overproduction, or the alienation of the worker, that mattered to them. No, what a Chinese peasant dreamed of was land; Mao understood this well… More>>
Posted in Asia, Essays, Philosophy, Vietnam, War
Tagged Asia, China, Communist China, Cultural Revolution, Great Leap Forward, Mao, Mao Zedong, Peasant
Image via Wikipedia
The “fortified Green Zone” in the heart of one of Islam’s sacred cities is a symbol of subjugation to millions of Iraqis and Muslims worldwide. Now there is the addition of the new multi-million dollar embassy smack dab in the middle of it all. This is no ordinary embassy mind you– no, this is the biggest US embassy in the world—a sprawling 21 building complex—which houses a small army of diplomats and bureaucrats. It also serves as a depressing reminder to Iraqis of their country’s new foreign administrators.
Ironically the lucrative contract to build this mega-monstrosity was given to a firm from, of all places, Kuwait– the country, along with the US, that millions of Iraqis hold most responsible for their misery and ruin.
Add all of the other forts and checkpoints we’ve constructed throughout the country and, well– pretty humiliating huh? Not exactly the behavior of people who are planning on leaving soon.
Here is what Niccolo Machiavelli had to say about such matters in The Prince:
Are Fortresses, And Many Other Things To Which Princes Often Resort, Advantageous Or Hurtful?
“For this reason the best possible fortress is — not to be hated by the people, because, although you may hold the fortresses, yet they will not save you if the people hate you, for they will never be wanting for foreigners to assist a people who have taken arms against you. It has not been seen in our times that such fortresses have been of use to any prince, unless to the Countess of Forli, when the Count Girolamo, her consort, was killed; for by that means she was able to withstand the popular attack and wait for assistance from Milan, and thus recover her state; and the posture of affairs was such at that time that the foreigners could not assist the people. But fortresses were of little value to her afterwards when Cesare Borgia attacked her, and when the people, her enemy, were allied with foreigners. Therefore it would have been safer for her, both then and before, not to have been hated by the people than to have had the fortresses. All these things considered then, I shall praise him who builds fortresses as well as him who does not, and I shall blame whoever, trusting in them, cares little about being hated by the people.”
Posted in Essays, History, Iraq, Middle East, Philosophy, Politics, US Military, War
Tagged Cesare Borgia, Fortification, Green Zone, Niccolò Machiavelli, Prince