Saturday, March 23, 2019

Communism and Socialism in North America

“[T]here was probably more genuine communism practiced in nineteenth-century America than in any society, at any time, beyond the hunting and gathering stage. This certainly seemed self-evident to many Europeans. The young Friedrich Engels was among the many European socialists who were stirred by the reports of the American communities, and who first looked to them to provide the example and model for European communism. ‘The first people in America,’ wrote Engels, ‘and indeed in the world who brought into realization a society founded on the community of property were the so-called Shakers.’ The American communities, he confidently declared, had demonstrated thatcommunism, the social life and work based on the common possession of goods, is not only possible but has actually been realized and with the best result.’ The communities were themselves to a good extent the product of a wider movement of reform that enthusiastically embraced socialism. Socialism in mid-nineteenth-century America was far from being the un-Americanthing it has now become.” — Krishan Kumar, Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times (Basil Blackwell, 1987) 

One of the lessons, said Arthur Morgan, looking at early communities, lay in the fact that they were exclusive and not universal. Very few people can rise to that ultimate affirmation of the American Dream represented by Buckminster Fuller. At a time when doomsday seers talk in quasi-racist language, and demonstrate the ancient fear of diversity and an acute incapacity to consider the whole, Fuller insists that no utopia will ever be wholly justifiable unless it is democratic and created for every living person.” — Raghavan Iyer 

Again and again across the great arc of American history, at the critical junctures in our national journey, socialist citizens, thinkers and organizers, supported by Socialist candidates and elected officials (at the federal, state, and local levels), have provoked and prodded the body politic in progressive directions. Despite their determined efforts, America is not a socialist countryat least not in any formal sense. [….] Even if programs ‘organized along socialist linesdo not make a country socialist, and even if Americas relationship with social democracy is more nuanced and more complicated than that of many other nations, the United States is a country that has always been and should continue to be informed by socialists, socialist ideals and a socialist critique of public policies. That may read to some as a radical statement. It’s not, at least for those who choose to be realists about our history, about our moment, and about the future that has yet to be written.” — John Nichols

Suggested Reading:
  • Buhle, Paul. Marxism in the USA: From 1870 to the Present Day (Verso, 1987).
  • Case, John and Rosemary C.R. Taylor, eds. Co-Ops, Communes & Collectives: Experiments in Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s (Pantheon Books, 1979).
  • Curl, John. For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America (PM Press, 2nd ed., 2012).
  • DeLeon, Richard Edward. Left Coast City: Progressive Politics in San Francisco, 1975-1991 (University Press of Kansas, 1992).
  • Fischer, George, ed. The Revival of American Socialism: Selected Papers of the Socialist Scholars Conference (Oxford University Press, 1971).
  • Frost, Jennifer. An Interracial Movement of the Poor: Community Organizing and the New Left in the 1960s (New York University Press, 2001).
  • Gendron, Richard and G. William Domhoff. The Leftmost City: Power and Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz (Westview Press, 2009).
  • Hine, Robert V. California’s Utopian Colonies (University of California Press, 1982; first published in 1953 by the Henry E. Huntington Library & Art Gallery).
  • Iyer, Raghavan. “The Community of Strangers,” in Parapolitics: Toward the City of Man (Oxford University Press, 1979): 286-298.
  • Jackall, Robert and Henry M. Levin, eds. Worker Cooperatives in America (University of California Press, 1984).
  • McWilliams, Wilson Carey. The Ideal of Fraternity in America (University of California Press, 1973).
  • Melville, Keith. Communes in the Counter Culture (William Morrow and Co., 1972).
  • Miller, Timothy. The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond (Syracuse University Press, 1999).
  • Morgan, Arthur Ernest. The Community of the Future and the Future of Community (Community Service, Inc., 1957).
  • Nichols, John. TheSWord: A Short History of an American Tradition ... Socialism (Verso, 2011).
  • Nordhoff, Charles. The Communistic Societies of the United States (Harper & Brothers, 1875).
  • Pitzer, Donald E., ed. America’s Communal Utopias (University of North Carolina Press, 1997).
Bibliographies with more or less family resemblance to this topic: (i) Anarchism: Philosophy and Praxis; (ii) Beyond Capitalist Agribusiness: Toward Agroecology & Food Justice; (iii) Beyond Capitalist-Attenuated Time: Freedom, Leisure, and Self-Realization; (iv) Beyond Inequality: Toward the Globalization of Welfare, Well-Being and Human Flourishing; (v) Democratic Theory; (vi) Global Distributive Justice; (vii) Human Rights; (viii) The History, Theory and Praxis of the Left in the 1960s; (ix) Marx and Marxism; (x) Toward a Marxist Theory of International Law; and (xi) Utopian Thought, Imagination, and Praxis; and (xii) Workers, the World of Work, and Labor Law.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Israel’s Nuclear Weapons: Middle East Exceptionalism

German submarines for Israel
Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, though it neither confirms nor denies possessing atomic weapons
. — Closing sentence from a Huffington Post article last year on Benjamin Netanyahu disparaging the Iran Nuclear Agreement
 

Is there something hypocritical about the world tolerating Israels nuclear arsenal, which the country does not officially acknowledge but has been publicly known for decades, and yet punishing Iran with severe economic sanctions just for its suspected steps toward a weapons program? Even Saudi Arabia, which sees Iran as its implacable enemy and made its accommodations with Israel long ago, often joins Tehran’s calls for a nuclear-free region.’ And anyone not closely versed in Middle East issues might naturally wonder why the United States would accept Israeli warheads but not an Iranian program. — From an article by Max Fisher for The Washington Post, December 2, 2013 

Israel’s special bargain with the bomb, centered on amimut [‘nuclear opacity’ or ‘nuclear ambiguity’], is a microcosm of the larger Israeli predicament. The close relationship between the two, the Israeli condition and the bomb, can be seen in the metaphor that Israeli essayist Ari Shavit suggested, seeing the Israeli bomb as a glass greenhouse shield encapsulating and shielding Israels existence. As long as Israel exists in a hostile, conflict-ridden environment [which itself helped create and sustain if not exacerbate: so we have here something on the order of both a self-fulfilling prophecy and self-fulfilling sufficient condition], it needs a shield. But this shieldthis greenhouseis not a substitute for normalcy. The bomb is not a substitute for peace with and recognition by neighbors. In fact, the bomb is a manifestation of this abnormal situation. Israels bargain with the bomb reflects one of the great achievements of the Zionist enterprise. — Avner Cohen 

*          *          * 

It’s a known fact that Israel possesses quite a number of nuclear weapons (150-200; although a U.S. report in 2013 claimed Israel had 80 nuclear warheads, with enough fissile material for an additional 115 to 190 warheads) and believes itself to be entitled, alone in the Middle East, to possess such weapons. Israel—alongside India and Pakistan—has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and alone among nuclear-weapons states, it has never publicly acknowledged its nuclear arsenal nor openly demonstrated its nuclear capability. As Avner Cohen writes in The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb (2010), “In Israel, to this day, the gap between nuclear conduct and basic democratic norms of open debate, the public’s right to know, public accountability, oversight, and transparency remains vast.” 

Furthermore, Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons has not led to a viable or successful deterrence strategy and policy. For example, it has “not deter[red] Arabs from attacking it; nor is there evidence that it imposed limitations on Arab operational planning.” (In fact, Arab states in the region have never had anything remotely close to a coordinated strategy and policy with regard to Israel, whatever the historical pan-Arab rhetoric of ‘annihilation.’) Among the adverse side effects of its nuclear weapons arsenal and related policy, Zeev Maoz notes that “it was a major factor in accelerating a conventional arms race and in igniting a nonconventional arms race in the Middle East.” While Israel was developing its nuclear potential (1957-67), “inter-Arab relations were characterized by political and military discord,” its decision to develop nuclear weapons coming at a time “when the actual investment in military manpower and hardware by the key Arab states was marginal, to say the least.” Maoz convincingly argues that “each time Israel actually invoked its nuclear policy in a context of international crisis or war, its implied or explicit threats failed to achieve their intended aim.”

In short, “the logic of last-resort deterrence that served as the strategic foundation of the nuclear project is logically self-defeating, because it renders incredible the threat of nuclear retaliation in any other circumstances.” Perhaps implausibly, however, Maoz detects a silver lining: Israel’s nuclear policy could serve as “a bargaining chip in bringing about a ‘weapons of mass destruction’ free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, in the context of a comprehensive regional security regime.” 

References and Further Reading
  • Athanasopulos, Haralambos. Nuclear Disarmament in International Law. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2000.
  • Bernstein, Jeremy. Nuclear Weapons: What You Need to Know. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Blair, Bruce G. The Logic of Accidental Nuclear War. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1993.
  • Blix, Hans. Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.
  • Bracken, Paul. The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics. New York: Times Books, 2012.
  • Busch, Nathan E. and Daniel H. Joyner, eds. Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of International Nonproliferation Policy. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2009.
  • Cirincione, Joseph. Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.
  • Cohen, Avner. Israel and the Bomb. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  • Cohen, Avner. The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.
  • Cohen, Yoel. The Whistleblower of Dimona: Israel, Vanunu and the Bomb. Homes & Meier, 2003.
  • Daley, Ted. Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010.
  • Falk, Richard and David Krieger. The Path to Zero: Dialogues on Nuclear Dangers. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2012.
  • Gerson, Jospeh. Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World. London: Pluto Press, in association with American Friends Service Committee, New England Regional Office, 2007.
  • Green, Robert. Security Without Nuclear Deterrence. Christchurch, New Zealand: Astron Media and Disarmament and Security Centre, 2010.
  • Hersh, Seymour M. The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy. New York: Random House, 1991.
  • Jervis, Robert, Richard Ned Lebow, and Janice Gross Stein. Psychology and Deterrence. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.
  • Joyner, Daniel H. International Law and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Joyner, Daniel H., ed. Non-Proliferation Export Controls: Origins, Challenges, and Proposals for Strengthening. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006.
  • Joyner, Daniel H. and Marco Roscini, eds. Non-Proliferation Law as a Special Regime: A Contribution to Fragmentation Theory in International Law. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Karpin, Michael. The Bomb in the Basement: How Israel Went Nuclear and What That Means for the World. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.
  • Kavka, Gregory S. Moral Paradoxes of Nuclear Deterrence. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • Lifton, Robert Jay and Richard Falk. Indefensible Weapons: The Political and Psychological Case against Nuclear Weapons. New York: Basic Books, 1982.
  • Maoz, Zeev. Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2006.
  • Ruggerio, Greg and Stuart Sahulka, eds. Critical Mass: Voices for a Nuclear-Free Future. Westfield, NJ: Open Media and Campaign for Peace and Democracy, 1996.
  • Schell, Jonathan. The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007.
  • Shue, Henry, ed. Nuclear Deterrence and Moral Restraint. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  • Wills, Garry. Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State. New York: Penguin Press, 2010.
  • Wilson, Ward. Five Myths about Nuclear Weapons. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
  • Wittner, Lawrence S. The Struggle Against the Bomb, Vol. 1: One World or None: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement through 1953. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993.
  • Wittner, Lawrence S. The Struggle Against the Bomb, Vol. 2: Resisting the Bomb: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1954-1970. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.
  • Wittner, Lawrence S. The Struggle Against the Bomb, Vol. 3: Toward Nuclear Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1971 to the Present. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003.
Related Bibliographies
Image: “Germany is helping Israel to develop its military nuclear capabilities, SPIEGEL has learned. According to extensive research carried out by the magazine, Israel is equipping submarines that were built in the northern German city of Kiel and largely paid for by the German government with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The missiles can be launched using a previously secret hydraulic ejection system. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told SPIEGEL that Germans should be proud that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel ‘for many years.’”

Thursday, March 14, 2019

In search of the heart of spiritual living

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The following is a snippet from Martin Hägglund’s recent opinion piece in the New York Times, “Why Mortality Makes Us Free” (March 11, 2019):  

“The aim of salvation in Buddhism … is to be released from finite life itself. Such an idea of salvation recurs across the world religions, but in many strands of Buddhism there is a remarkable honesty regarding the implications of salvation. Rather than promising that your life will continue, or that you will see your loved ones again, the salvation of nirvana entails your extinction. [emphasis added] The aim is not to lead a free life, with the pain and suffering that such a life entails, but to reach the ‘insight’ that personal agency is an illusion and dissolve in the timelessness of nirvana. What ultimately matters is to attain a state of consciousness where everything ceases to matter, so that one can rest in peace. 

The Buddhist conclusion may seem extreme when stated in this way, but in fact it makes explicit what is implicit in all ideas of eternal salvation. Far from making our lives meaningful, eternity would make them meaningless, since our actions would have no purpose.”

There is much that is mistaken or misleading about Buddhism in this article by Hägglund, based on material from his book, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom (Pantheon Books, 2019). Here is my response: 

While I have yet to read Hägglund’s book, the picture sketched of Buddhism here is rather constricted and distorted if not simply a crude caricature, for any number of reasons, only some of which I can address in this format. First, while the picture superficially resembles the Theravāda school more than any other “school” of Buddhism, it is far from doing justice to even that tradition, for the while goal is indeed nibbāna (which can be attained on this earth, so it is not ‘otherworldly’),* any decent Buddhist focuses on the path, not the goal, for in one very real sense, focus on the goal, the end, the fact of possible or eventual liberation from sundry forms of suffering, is selfish (for then it is about one’s own liberation), self-centered, or egoistic (and this, in the main, was perhaps the principal part of the Mahāyāna critique of this school; incidentally, a similar critique arose within other Indic religio-philosophical ‘schools’ in Hinduism, for the masses tend to be enchanted by mokṣa and became rather fatalistic, at the expense of dharma, etc.). This need not be the case, however, for that critique generated the notion of bodhicitta (inherent in all human animals), a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind which desires to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings, as well as the idea of the Bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara (who goes by different names in Asian countries), thought to exemplify the bodhisattva’s resolve to postpone his own buddhahood until he has helped every sentient being on earth achieve liberation from suffering and thus end the process of death and rebirth. Buddhists, in both theory and praxis, are encouraged to focus on the path, as only the path can lead to the goal. And that path, āryāṣṭāṅgamārga (the ‘Eightfold Path of the Noble Ones’) is tripartite (three ‘trainings’), only one part of which has to do with concentration and mind training, including meditation, the other two parts having to do with morality or ethics (lists of specific virtues to cultivate, Aristotelian in spirit, are enumerated in any number of texts) and wisdom (‘right knowledge or views,’ etc.). The three parts of this path are considered complementary and thus mutually reinforcing, and thus it is a profound mistake to focus on any one part, even meditation, while excluding the other two parts of the path.
Insofar as the achievement of liberation (the term ‘salvation’ has connotations that differ from the meaning of nirvāṇa in Buddhism and should generally be avoided in the Buddhist case) in Buddhism is “this-worldly,” this (with three clusters of ‘trainings’) path (with three clusters of ‘trainings’) to “awakening” or liberation does not require one to die before achieving it (for several scholastic or metaphysical reasons, a notion of ‘final’ nirvāṇa evolved for those anxious to understand what happened to the last Buddha after he died, but we can set that aside here). Indeed, based on this opinion piece and what I’ve read about Hägglund’s book (including some excerpts here and there), he’s let a largely Christian conception of salvation skew his understanding of the concept of liberation in Buddhism. 

The author might want to familiarize (or ’better …’) himself with what Buddhists teachers actually say and do, rather than construct a fairly abstract and inaccurate picture of the role of “awakening in Buddhism.” There is of course an immense amount of literature by both Buddhists and scholars writing on Buddhism, and whether it is anthropological, historical, psychological, or philosophical, very little of it, for ample and correct reasons, has to do with the subject of nirvāṇa construed in the reductionist terms found here. Compare, for instance, the end or ends of psychoanalytic therapy, which, loosely speaking (and after the accounts by Jonathan Lear, among others), revolve around an enhanced sense of personal agency or freedom for the analysand and thus encourages, if successful and in the first instance, individuation if not self-realization or even eudaimonia. The analytic process itself, the psychoanalytic therapeutic regimen, aims to provide relief from various kinds of mental suffering that motivated the analysand to seek help in the first place. And the ultimate goal of therapy hopes to find the analysand living his life unencumbered by the kinds of anxiety, anguish, neuroses, in other words, all that heretofore has thwarted attempts or the very possibility to be rational and reasonable, to live a more or less ethical life, to meaningfully and lovingly interact with others, and so forth and so on. Much could be said, analogously or similarly for the case of the Buddhist spiritual therapeutic regimen.

There is a famous story or parable in Buddhism about a man shot with a poisoned arrow and the Buddha is queried by someone who is clearly disturbed by his refusal to answer or address difficult metaphysical questions (various reasons are given for this, some having to do with the presuppositions of these topics, others to do with the mind of the person asking the questions, which may not be capable of understanding the answers), and the Buddha responds by saying he never promised to give definitive answers to such metaphysical questions or indulge in what we might call metaphysical speculation, for that is not the principal concern of or motivation that animates his teachings:

“It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends and companions, kinsmen and relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name and clan name of the man who wounded me ... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short, [….] until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.” 

The lesson of this story is of course that the Buddha is interested in the immediate relief of suffering, here and now (the possibility or prospect of nirvāṇa may motivate one to become a Buddhist, but one soon learns it is all about the path, not the end, for if one follows the triune path, the end will eventually take care of itself, thus the means and the end become convertible terms, and we can state unequivocally that the notion of nirvāṇa recedes, as it were, to the back of one’s mind), and preoccupation with metaphysical topics or metaphysical speculation interferes with providing relief here and now for the sundry forms of suffering we experience as human animals (Buddhists are also asked to embody concern, care, and compassion for all sentient creatures). I happen to think that Buddhism does in fact, and after the fact in this case, evidence philosophical interest in these metaphysical and psychological topics, but not at the expense of the everyday tasks devoted to the relief of suffering (the four truths of the ‘noble’ ones have, for example, to do with the nature of suffering, its twofold cause, the possibility of relief, and the therapeutic regimen necessary to attain such relief, all of which broach metaphysical subject matter). With good reason, there are many Buddhists who individually and collectively identify with “engaged Buddhism” (see, for example, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship), an expression that should be redundant, but is designed to show how Buddhists can, indeed should, effectively engage in the many political projects and endeavors traditionally associated with the history of the Left. With good reason, the Dalai Lama himself describes his worldview as “half Marxist and half Buddhist.” And of course the Dalai Lama has stressed the importance of secular ethics apart from Buddhist ethics, recognizing that people can be both “spiritual” and non-religious, as explained by Sudhir Kakar, Grant Gillett, and John Cottingham (and exemplified by countless others who self-identify as atheists, agnostics, humanists, Marxists, what have you).

As for the claim, “Rather than promising that your life will continue, or that you will see your loved ones again, the salvation of nirvana entails your extinction,” this is simply wrong: for extinction, which Buddhists term “annihilationism” is to be avoided, one reason the Buddha’s teachings are said to be a “middle way,” that is, a middle way between two extreme views: annihilationism on the one hand, and eternalism on the other. This “middle way” method is applied to several concepts (e.g., the idea of a ‘self’) in Buddhism, but perhaps most importantly, to the doctrine of “dependent origination,” and the notion of “emptiness,” such that the latter is not to be construed as a “nothing,” on the one hand, and some absolute reality on the other. Entire books have been devoted to explaining how and why this is the case, so I will not here try to summarize the argument, which is fairly complex, as is much of Buddhist philosophy. 

* For a concise introduction to nibbāna/nirvāṇa, please see the brief section, “The cessation of suffering: nirvāṇa,” in Rupert Gethin’s The Foundations of Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 1998): 74-79.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

There is relativism ... and there is relativism

At The Faculty Lounge, I made the following reply (corrected here, as there is a rather large number of typos in the original post) to another interlocutor who said, in part, that “the scientific method is a devastating challenge to the relativist ideology that dominates ethnography and many areas of the social sciences.” 

The phrase “relativist ideology” lacks a clear or unambiguous referent or meaning here, if only because what “relativism” means varies widely (the term ideology is also notoriously vague or at least in need of a working or stipulative definition or proper qualification given its many meanings, but we can put that aside for now), thus we might say, “there is relativism and there is relativism.” With regard, say, to value judgments and rationality, absolute relativism is incoherent. In anthropology, “relativism” became a methodological principle when its practitioners were doing field work in “exotic,” non-Western countries quite different from the affluent nations of North America and Western Europe, as an understandable concern arose among those in the field that the fruits of their research and studies would be dismissed as catalogues of the irrational, “primitive,” immoral, what have you. In short, because the seemingly stark “fact” that they are not, so to speak, like us, we find presumptive or sufficient warrant for seeing these societies as not worth our time and attention except insofar as we might want to convert or colonize them. Another way to put this is that there is simply nothing to learn about or from them.

However, as Hilary Putnam explains in one of his several discussions of relativism, it turns out that what is assumed or presumed to be “irrational or repulsive or both” may in fact, the anthropologist discovers, “promote welfare and social cohesion,” in other words, it has a raison d’être suited, or relative, to that time and place. In other words, we cannot presuppose or assume that all of our judgments as to what is right and wrong or rational, reasonable or irrational and unreasonable are infallible, they may be relative to circumstances or occasions, be those natural or social. Putnam rightly points out that some anthropologists drew a rather more crude and mistaken conclusion, namely, that “it’s all relative,” “meaning that there is no fact of the matter as to what is right or wrong at all.” The motivation behind such a conclusion is often innocent enough insofar as the desire may be to see that other and different societies or cultures are not destroyed or colonized or exploited. But Putnam rightly points out, for example, “that there are better grounds for criticizing cultural imperialism than the denial of objective values.” 

Putnam thus proffers for our consideration another species of relativism, John Dewey’s “objective relativism”: “Certain things are right—objectively right—in certain circumstances and wrong—objectively wrong—in others, and the culture and environment constitute relevant circumstances.” This is far different, notes Putnam, from seeing our values (say, freedom, rationality, love, compassion, truthfulness, happiness or eudaimonia, and so forth) as mere matters of taste and opinion, because, as a few of my former students were fond of saying, “It’s all relative.” More strongly if not vividly, “Objective relativism seems the right doctrine for many moral cases; but not for cases where rights and duties are manifest and sharp and the choice seems to us between right and wrong, good and evil.” Different societies, both historically and sociologically, uphold different albeit sometimes overlapping clusters of virtues and vices, for example, but what is not relative is the notion of virtues and vices itself. Different societies have different conceptions of flourishing: there need not be only one kind of well-being and Western societies do not have a monopoly let alone patent on same, thus there are pluralistic conceptions, which is sometimes conflated or confused with a doctrine of relativism.

We can illustrate one kind of relativism that is troubling with a vulgar model on its cultural variation provided by the late social anthropologist Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah with the following propositions:
  1. that cultures or societies may have their own distinctive systems of morality and social practices
  2. that these systems are ‘right’ for those cultures or societies in terms of their own contexts and their own functional interrelations
  3. that, therefore, it is a mistake to pass critical judgments of better or worse on a comparative basis between them, since each is acceptable in its own place
Arguably, the locus of the problem is the final proposition, for it contains, in the words of Tambiah, “a logical contradiction in that it makes a non-relativistic general claim about a relativist assertion: as [Bernard] Williams puts it, there is here an ‘unhappy attachment of a nonrelative morality of toleration or non-interference to a view of morality as relative …. The central confusion of relativism is to try to conjure out of the fact that societies have differing attitudes and values an a priori non-relative principle to determine the attitude of one society to another; this is impossible.’” Tambiah takes what strikes me as a wise, or at least humane stance, declaring that he considers himself “to be neither a relativist nor an anti-relativist in an absolutist or blanket sense.” His reason for this is eminently worth sharing: “It is possible to take a more complex position between these extremes, and strive towards comparisons and toward general judgments wherever they are appropriate and possible, and to leave other matters in an unsettled state until better information or superior frameworks make comparative evaluations possible.” 

Of course far more might be said in the spirit of the above material, but permit me to close with a brief mention of a notion of relativism or relativity from an Indic philosophical tradition, Jainism. The Jain “doctrines of relativity,” which are both metaphysical and epistemological, namely, anekāntavāda (the claim that reality is complex, i.e., ‘not one-sided’ but ‘many-sided,’ and thus can be know from a variety of perspectives), nayavāda (the ‘doctrine of perspectives’ or partial standpoints), and syādvāda (the doctrine of conditioned predication, literally, the ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps’ doctrine). The gist of these doctrines, which are philosophically sophisticated (as the philosopher B.K. Matilal made clear), is illustrated in the famous story of the “blind men and the elephant,” attributed to the Buddha. Suffice here to say that there is much to be gleaned from these doctrines by way of appreciating the possible truths available to us in relying on, in the first instance, a relativist epistemic (some would say phenomenological) practice. 

Incidentally, this could be seen as compatible with the philosopher Michael P. Lynch’s recent argument on how truth is both “one and many,” in other words, while our concept of truth is univocal (there is a single property named by ‘truth’), the manifestation of truth is plural in form, for it is immanent in distinct properties of beliefs (‘there is more than one way to be true’). “In other words, truth is a single higher level property whose instantiations across kinds of propositions are determined by a class of other, numerically distinct properties.” A cognitive or epistemic or truth-functional pluralism (which may be conceptual, substantive, logical, metaphysical, axiological, practical …) is sometimes framed in relativistic language, but strong or absolute relativism rules out evaluative standards, judgments or rational preferences of one kind or another, while pluralism comports with the possibility of or need to “adjudge some alternatives as superior to others,” albeit for “good and sufficient reasons” (Nicholas Rescher). 

In brief, it simply is not the case that “the scientific method is a devastating challenge to the relativist ideology that dominates ethnography and many areas of the social sciences,” if only because (i) scientific methods (there is no such thing as the scientific method) are perfectly compatible with different forms of (of non-simpleminded) relativism, such as conceptual relativism (Putnam) and the relativism enshrined in the proposition that “some truths may be more dependent on the vagaries of context than others,” (Lynch) and (ii) it is not clear that any such beast christened “the relativist ideology” “dominates ethnography and many areas of the social sciences.” We would need at least another book or two chock full of the relevant evidence to justify such an extravagant claim.

The physicist and science writer John Ziman provides us with a conclusion of sorts: “There are many varieties of ‘relativism,’ but the ‘stronger’ they become the nearer they get to the black hole of total skepticism, from whence no philosophical traveler returns.”

Relevant Bibliography: Philosophy, Psychology, and Methodology for the Social Sciences

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Thomas Nagel’s review of Christine Korsgaard’s argument on the nature of our moral obligations to nonhuman animals

Cows 2

“What We Owe a Rabbit” Thomas Nagel for the New York Review of Books, March 21, 2019

Review of Christine M. Korsgaard’s Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals (Oxford University Press, 2018) [edited]

“Christine Korsgaard is a distinguished philosopher who has taught at Harvard for most of her career. Though not known to the general public, she is eminent within the field for her penetrating and analytically dense writings on ethical theory and her critical interpretations of the works of Immanuel Kant. Now, for the first time, she has written a book about a question that anyone can understand. Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals is a blend of moral passion and rigorous theoretical argument. Though it is often difficult—not because of any lack of clarity in the writing but because of the intrinsic complexity of the issues—this book provides the opportunity for a wider audience to see how philosophical reflection can enrich the response to a problem that everyone should be concerned about.

Since the publication of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation in 1975, there has been a notable increase in vegetarianism or veganism as a personal choice by individuals, and in the protection of animals from cruel treatment in factory farms and scientific research, both through law and through public pressure on businesses and institutions. Yet most people are not vegetarians: approximately 9.5 billion animals die annually in food production in the United States, and the carnivores who think about it tend to console themselves with the belief that the cruelties of factory farming are being ameliorated, and that if this is done, there is nothing wrong with killing animals painlessly for food. Korsgaard firmly rejects this outlook, not just because it ignores the scale of suffering still imposed on farmed animals, but because it depends on a false contrast between the values of human and animal lives, according to which killing a human is wrong in a way that killing an animal is not.

Korsgaard deploys a complex account of morality to deal with this and many other questions. What makes the book especially interesting is the contrast between her approach and Singer’s. She writes, and Singer would certainly agree, that “the way human beings now treat the other animals is a moral atrocity of enormous proportions.” But beneath this agreement lie profound differences. Singer is a utilitarian and Korsgaard is a Kantian, and the deep division in contemporary ethical theory between these two conceptions of morality marks their different accounts of why we should radically change our treatment of animals. (Equally interesting is Korsgaard’s sharp divergence from Kant’s own implausible views on the subject. As we shall see, she argues persuasively that Kant’s general theory of the foundations of morality supports conclusions for this case completely different from what he supposed.)

[….] Korsgaard … denies that we can build morality on a foundation of the absolute value of anything, including pleasure and pain. She holds that there is no such thing as absolute or impersonal value in the sense proposed by utilitarianism—something being just good or bad, period. All value, she says, is ‘tethered.’ Things are good or bad for some person or animal: your pleasure is ‘good-for’ you, my pain is ‘bad-for’ me. Korsgaard says that the only sense in which something could be absolutely good is if it were ‘good-for’ everyone. In the end she will maintain that the lives and happiness of all conscious creatures are absolutely good in this sense, but she reaches this conclusion only by a complex ethical argument; it is not an axiom from which morality begins, as in utilitarianism.

[….]  Korsgaard believes that ‘life itself is a good for almost any animal who is in reasonably good shape.’ Humans, with their capacity for language, historical record-keeping, long-term memory, and planning for the future, have a strong consciousness of their lives as extended in time. But because the other animals are capable of learning and remembering, we know that they also have temporally extended conscious lives, not just successions of momentary experiences; what happens to an animal at one time changes its point of view at later times, so that it acquires ‘an ongoing character that makes it a more unified self over time.’ It is a matter of degree, but the lives of most mammals and birds, at least, have this kind of unity, so we can think of them as having good or bad lives, not just good or bad experiences.

The big difference between us and the other animals is that we are self-conscious in a way they are not. Korsgaard marks this as the distinction between instinctive and rational lives. Unlike the other animals, we act not just on the basis of our present perceptions, desires, and inclinations. We can step back from the immediate appearances and withhold endorsement from them as grounds for belief or action if we judge that they do not provide adequate justifying reasons—as when we discount a visual impression as an optical illusion or a negative evaluation as the product of jealousy. This type of rational self-assessment has given rise to both science and morality. Animals, by contrast, as far as we know, do not evaluate their own beliefs and motives before acting on them.

So the lives of humans and of other animals are very different. But does that mean that human lives are more important or more valuable than the lives of animals? Korsgaard asks, in keeping with her skepticism about untethered absolute value, ‘More important or valuable to whom?’ Your life is more valuable to you than it is to a rabbit, but the rabbit’s life is more valuable to the rabbit than it is to you. And if you protest that the rabbit’s life is not as important to the rabbit as your life is to you, Korsgaard’s response is that even though you have a conception of your life as a whole that the rabbit lacks, this does not show that your life is more valuable:

‘For even if the rabbit’s life is not as important to her as yours is to you, nevertheless, for her it contains absolutely everything of value, all that can ever be good or bad for her, except possibly the lives of her offspring. The end of her life is the end of all value and goodness for her. So there is something imponderable about these comparisons.’

[….] But if we start from a conception of value according to which what is good or bad is always what is good or bad for particular individuals, and nothing is good or bad in itself, it is not clear where we can find a basis for morality and for our obligations to others. What reason do we have to care about anything but what is good or bad for ourselves, or for a limited group of others who matter to us because of some connection or identification? The history of moral philosophy offers various answers to this question, most of which I will not discuss. Korsgaard endorses the one provided by Kant.

Kant held that we ourselves are the source of the requirements of morality, by virtue of our status as rational beings. As Korsgaard puts it:

‘Because of the way in which we are conscious of the motives for our actions, we cannot act without endorsing those motives as adequate to justify what we propose to do. But this is just what it means to value something—to endorse our natural motives for wanting it or caring about it, and to see them as good reasons. So as rational beings, we cannot act without setting some sort of value on the ends of our actions.

Most important, Kant believes that the value we cannot help assigning to our ends is absolute value—value from everyone’s point of view. This is a condition of our ability to endorse our actions from an external point of view toward ourselves, which is the essence of rationality. And it has a momentous consequence:

‘Your right to confer absolute value on your ends and actions is limited by everyone else’s (as Kant thinks of it, every other rational being’s) right to confer absolute value on her ends and actions in exactly the same way. So in order to count as a genuinely rational choice, the principle on which you act must be acceptable from anyone’s (any rational being’s) point of view—it must be consistent with the standing of others as ends in themselves.’

This gives us Kant’s fundamental principle of morality1 in two of its familiar formulations: act in such a way that you can will your principle as universal law; and treat all rational beings as ends and never merely as means. To treat others as ends in themselves is to regard the achievement of their goals or ends as good in itself, and not just for them. The practical upshot is that each of us has a strong reason to pursue our own ends in a way that does not interfere with the pursuit by others of their ends, and some reason to help them if they need help.

But what does this imply about animals? In Kant’s view, we impose the moral law on ourselves: it applies to us because of our rational nature. The other animals, because they are not rational, cannot engage in this kind of self-legislation. Kant concluded that they are not part of the moral community; they have no duties and we have no duties toward them.2 

It is here that Korsgaard parts company with him. She distinguishes two senses in which someone can be a member of the moral community, an active and a passive sense. To be a member in the active sense is to be one of the community of reciprocal lawgivers who is obligated to obey the moral law. To be a member in the passive sense is to be one of those to whom duties are owed, who must be treated as an end. Kant believed that these two senses coincide, but Korsgaard says this is a mistake. The moral law that we rational beings give to ourselves can give us duties of concern for other, nonrational beings who are not themselves bound by the moral law—duties to treat them as ends in themselves:

There is no reason to think that because it is only autonomous rational beings who must make the normative presupposition that we are ends in ourselves, the normative presupposition is only about autonomous rational beings. And in fact it seems arbitrary, because of course we also value ourselves as animate beings. This becomes especially clear when we reflect on the fact that many of the things that we take to be good-for us are not good for us in our capacity as autonomous rational beings. Food, sex, comfort, freedom from pain and fear, are all things that are good for us insofar as we are animals.

I find this argument for a revision of Kant’s position completely convincing. Korsgaard sums up:

‘On a Kantian conception, what is special about human beings is not that we are the universe’s darlings, whose fate is absolutely more important than the fates of the other creatures who like us experience their own existence. It is exactly the opposite: What is special about us is the empathy that enables us to grasp that other creatures are important to themselves in just the way we are important to ourselves, and the reason that enables us to draw the conclusion that follows: that every animal must be regarded as an end in herself, whose fate matters, and matters absolutely, if anything matters at all.’

Having secured the admission of the other animals to the Kantian moral community as passive members, Korsgaard turns to a further problem: ‘Nature,’ she says, ‘is recalcitrant to moral standards.’ Not only are the other animals not subject to the moral law; their interests are irreconcilably opposed in a way that makes impossible the kind of moral harmony that we can aspire to as an ideal for the human world. What is good for the lion is necessarily bad for the antelope, and even if we recognize our own duty to treat both of them as ends in themselves, that doesn’t provide a moral resolution of the conflict.

[….] [Korsgaard] believes we obviously shouldn’t kill or exploit animals for food, but we have no obligation to take up the position of a creator by bringing it about that the world is populated by creatures who are better off than the ones who would otherwise be there. She also believes that it’s all right to keep animals as pets, provided the society ensures that they are not abused. (Her book is dedicated, by name, to the five cats she has lived with over the past thirty-five years.)

Korsgaard also notes the curious fact that many people are much more concerned with the preservation of species from extinction than they are with the welfare of individual animals, and she thinks this makes no moral sense. Species don’t have a point of view, and their survival doesn’t have value for them:

If you accept the idea that everything that is good must be good for someone, for some creature, then you must deny that it makes sense to say that species or ecosystems have intrinsic value. According to the view I have been advocating, it is plain that the health of an ecosystem matters because it matters to the creatures who depend upon it, and the extinction of a species matters when it threatens the biodiversity and so the health of the ecosystem and with it the welfare of its members.

Her claim is that species have no value in themselves. They may have value for individuals, but only individuals have value in themselves. (This leaves aside aesthetic value, which I suspect plays a part in many people’s attachment to species as such.) Korsgaard’s position is undeniably powerful, and if it prevailed it would be one of the largest moral transformations in the history of humanity. [….]

One might hold that although humans are not more important or more valuable than other animals, it is morally permissible for us to be partial to our fellow humans and to count their interests more, out of a ‘sense of solidarity with our own kind.’ We recognize the moral acceptability of such partiality toward the interests of our own families, for example, and Korsgaard considers the possibility that in situations of life-or-death emergency (rats spreading plague) we would be morally justified in putting the interests of our own species first, to lethal effect. But even if this is granted, it is a far cry from endorsing a degree of partiality for the human species that allows the lives of other animals to be routinely sacrificed to the pleasures of the table. In effect, that seems to be the principle to which most carnivores adhere, though they are probably helped by the assumption that Korsgaard has gone to great lengths to combat: that the loss of life is not really so bad for an animal.

Moral disagreement is a constant feature of the human condition, as we struggle to find the right way to live. Whether we should kill animals for food is one of the deepest disagreements of our time ….” [….] 
  1. It is called ‘the categorical imperative’ for reasons that need not detain us.
  2. Though Kant says we may treat animals purely as means to our ends, he qualifies this by adding that we have a duty to ourselves not to treat them cruelly, since cruelty to animals results in a callousness that may affect the treatment of our fellow humans. Korsgaard suggests plausibly that this is ‘a product of desperation’ on Kant’s part, ‘an attempt to explain the everyday intuition that we really do have at least some obligation to be kind to animals.’ 
Related Bibliography: Animal Ethics, Rights, and Law

Friday, March 01, 2019

Freedom and Constraint in Art

Heart Sutra“The Heart Sūtra (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya; Chinese: 心經 Xīnjīng) is a popular sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its Sanskrit title, Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, can be translated as ‘The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.’ The sutra famously states, ‘Form is empty’ (śūnyatā). It is a condensed exposé on the Buddhist Mahayana teaching of the Two Truths doctrine, which says that ultimately all phenomena are śūnyatā, empty of an unchanging essence. This emptiness is a ‘characteristic’ of all phenomena, and not (simply or solely) a transcendent reality, but also ‘empty’ of an essence of its own.”

In Indian literary (including religious and philosophical) traditions a sūtra (सूत्र, ‘string’ or ‘thread’; Pali: sutta) refers to an aphorism (cf. maxims, proverbs, etc.) or more often a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or, more broadly, a condensed manual or text. Sūtra(s) are a genre of ancient and medieval Indic texts found, for example, in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, as well as other literary, medical, legal, and loosely scientific traditions. Because of their aphoristic or condensed (or even enigmatic) quality, they typically require and thus are often accompanied by one or more bhāṣya(s) (भाष्य), which are expositions, interpretations, and commentaries of the sūtra(s).

On art and mindfulness
I have introduced the term sūtra here because I recently came across a work in English which has a sūtra-like quality to it; at the very least, its aphorisms often pack a philosophical punch and, from my vantage point at least, call for, provoke, or demand further elucidation of one kind or another. I stumbled upon this gem of a book while browsing in a local bookstore, having never heard of its author, but the enchanting title quickly captured my attention: On Art and Mindfulness: Notes from the Anderson Ranch (Snowmass, CO: Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Whale & Star Press, 2nd ed., 2015). It is written by one Enrique Martinez Celaya, who has trained as an artist and physicist, having exhibited his works internationally, as we say, with some of his art in permanent collections of well-known museums. The material for the book was drawn from the summer workshops and seminars he taught over nine years at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado. While I have yet to view his art in more than a cursory manner, I have begun reading his book! For now I want to share just one aphorism:

“Freedom is elusive and frequently it is not where we think it ought to be. Much time is devoted to talking about freedom in art,* but art is most about boundaries. About constraints.”

By way of reference to an appropriate but unintentional bhāṣya that speaks to the importance of (intrinsic, imposed, and self-imposed) constraints and conventions (or ‘soft’ constraints), both those which reflect one’s discipline and training as well as those constraints one has deliberately chosen as a form of “self-binding,” I recommend Jon Elster’s incisive discussion in the chapter “Less Is More: Creativity and Constraint in the Arts,” from his book, Ulysses Unbound: Studies in Rationality, Precommitment, and Constraints (Cambridge University Press, 2000). Longstanding friends and acquaintances will be familiar with my predilection for finding excuses or ample reason to cite this particular work by Elster (which, like all good books, I return to again and again). At a future date I will speak more to this topic in conjunction with aesthetic theories and philosophy of art.

Elster Ulysses Unbound
* There are of course moments of freedom or autonomy throughout the process of producing creative and compelling works of art. In the words of Nick Zangwill, “even when there are external influencing factors which impinge on the artist’s decision-making, there are always some properties of the work which cannot be explained without reference to the artist’s intrinsic desire that the work should be a certain way.” In other words,

“ … [W]hen all the influencing factors constraining art production have been taken into account, there is a residual space in which the artist has freedom. This freedom implies a lack of concern with actual or dispositional effects of the work on others—except in the sense that the artist is concerned that the audience will recognize or have a disposition to recognize the values [aesthetic and otherwise] that the artist believes have been realized in the work.” Please see Zangwill’s important philosophical explanation of fundamental features of art in relation to aesthetic properties in his book, Aesthetic Creation (Oxford University Press, 2007).

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Black History Month (13) — Blacks and Food Justice: A Guide to Resources

Freedom-school-fresno-black-farmers-training-FloydHarris
Our posts of bibliographies and brief reading guides in recognition, honor, and celebration of Black History Month comes to a close with this—our thirteenth—post on Blacks and Food Justice: A Guide to Resources. 
If you have been unable to keep up with our postings or by way of making it easy to view the material in our posts for the month, I have listed the bibliographies and guides below (in alphabetical order, thus not the order in which they appeared here throughout the month of February) with embedded links. I hope at least a few of our readers have found (or will find) them helpful. For what it’s worth, I was disappointed that, at least at the law and other blogs I read routinely, there was, unlike in past years, comparatively little or nothing deliberately posted for Black History Month. Sartre memorably wrote: “[Marxism] remains [...] the philosophy of our time. We cannot go beyond it because we have not gone beyond the circumstances which engendered it.” One might analogously state that we cannot transcend Black History Month until we have gone beyond the circumstances that indirectly (because unintentionally) engendered it (e.g., slavery, spontaneous and systematic violence against African-Americans, job and other forms of discrimination, segregated schooling and housing, Jim Crow laws, voter suppression, and so forth), including the recalcitrant and seemingly intractable racism that still—unconsciously, subconsciously, and consciously—rules the minds of far too many individuals, groups, and institutions in this society. The formal and informal historical knowledge of a disturbing number of people in the U.S. has yet to sufficiently come to epistemic, moral, and political terms with Black history such that the qualifying word is no longer necessary, in other words, so as to render the adjective “Black” redundant because it has become an integral and well understood part of our country’s grand historical narratives, having assumed the form of common knowledge. Until such time, it will be necessary for us to enlist a variety of means and methods equal to the task of recognizing, honoring, and celebrating Black History Month.
The links from our posts (thus not the posts themselves, for a few of them contained more than one link) for the month:
Freedom School's demonstration farm
Images:
  • (at top of post) Rev. Floyd D. Harris Jr., founder (2015) of the Freedom School in West Fresno.
  • (immediately above) Freedom School Fresno’s demonstration farm, located behind New Light for New Life Church of God.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Black History Month (12): South African Liberation Struggles

Odendaal Roux

Our twelfth and next to last post in recognition, honor, and celebration of Black History month is a bibliography titled South African Liberation Struggles. In addition to the fight against apartheid, these emancipatory struggles encompass the pre- and post-apartheid periods insofar as they incarnate not only the quest for social justice and thus the triune motto of the French Revolution, namely, liberté, égalité, and fraternité, but represent as well the individual and collective effort of blacks in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent for (meaningful or true) self-determination, self-realization, and fulfillment (or eudaimonia).

(You can see larger images of the books pictured here if you click individually on the respective photos.) 

Lodge
Luckhard and Wall Cherry title Wieder title
Ellis and Sechaba Switzer
Seekings title
Buntman titleKlug title Walker title
Sapire and Saunders Sinwell 3

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Black History Month (11): Malcolm X – A Reading Guide

Malcolm_X.inline vertical

Today’s post—our eleventh—in recognition, honor, and celebration of Black History Month, is a comparatively short reading guide for Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), Malcolm Little, and after his pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca, also known as Malik el-Shabazz.

Malcolm and Martin
  • “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
  • “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
  • “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.”
Malcolm X 3
  • “I am for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problem just to avoid violence.”
  • “If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.”
  • “I don’t favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives peacefully. But I’m also a realist. The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people.”
Malcolm X 5
  • “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
  • “Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds. I have always kept an open mind, a flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of the intelligent search for truth.”
  • “I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.”
Malcolm X 8
  • “Envy blinds men and makes it impossible for them to think clearly.”