Flowers of the Mind 6. Asvina (week 4) 2021

In recent years the Anglo-American elites, especially those who like to preen themselves as insiders exposed to intelligence reports, have believed in a demonstrable bizarre delusion, Havana Syndrome, and and more widely participated in widespread propaganda-induced Russophobia. Glenn Greenwald and others have called this out as mass hysteria, which is perhaps a bit kind. It is far more manipulative than that. In this week we have seen the resurfacing of the Steele dossier hoax, and devastating reports of just how misleading these true conspiracy theories are.

Robert Bartholomew, a medical sociologist, appeared on Peter Frankopan’s I’ve been thinking podcast and demonstrated the Havana Sydrome secret energy weapon were in fact crickets. Yes, the mating sounds of a cricket. Bartholomew told the Daily Mail

“There is more evidence for Bigfoot than there is for Havana Syndrome. The evidence overwhelmingly points to mass hysteria, or as it is commonly referred to by scientists – mass psychogenic illness. Havana Syndrome is a result of incompetent government officials and bad science. I would go so far as to rename it Havana Syndrome Delusion – the absurd belief, in the wake of persistent evidence to the contrary, that diplomats are being targeted with an energy weapon.”

Daily Mail

For years now media organisations in the Anglophone world, especially the Democratic Party favoured performers in the American theatre state, have made ludicrous, ill-informed comments about Russia. I once complained to the ABC and indeed to the Federal Communications Minister about the reporting of the RussiaGate hoax, which Greenwald describes as one of the most destructive and sustained media fraud campaigns in decades.

Now I have given up hope of it ever changing. At some point the theatre props will burn, as the American security state and its imperial war factions crumble. I just turn away, and listen to real sources of knowledge.

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For example, I don’t listen to what the ABC or the fools in the Trump-deranged American media say about Vladimir Putin. I listen to what Putin actually says. During the week, in an unusual spell of insomnia, I found myself watching a session from the Valdai Discussion Club, which I subscribe to on YouTube. I happened to catch part of Putin’s speech and some of the question and answer discussion afterwards. There were many revealing and insightful statements in the speech and the discussion. But I also learnt something from it.

Putin was asked who were the thinkers he felt closest to. He nominated Nikolai Berdyaev, who he noted in his comments was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1922 on the “Philosophy Steamer“, which carried away from the Bolsheviks the “ideological slaves of the bourgeoisie”. Berdyaev crucially was a critic of the totalitarianism and the millenarian cult of Bolshevism, which Putin compared to the woke ideological zeal overwhelming the American republic. After his exile Berdyaev wrote:

“The socialist state is not a secular state, it is a sacral state…It resembles an authoritarian theocratic state. Socialism professes a messianic faith. The guardians of the messianic ‘idea’ of the proletariat are the specific hierarchy – the Communist Party, highly centralized and possessing dictatorial powers.”

Berdyaev was a thinker in the Russian Orthodox tradition, and I have only just begun to learn about him. Putin spoke of him as part of Russian traditions of thought, culture and politics, a strand of what he described as “healthy conservatism” and aversion to revolution rooted in bitter historical experience. To me, the speech was a reminder that the multipolar world will change culture as well as politics, and lead us to more diverse cultural and intellectual traditions/new ideas – not just the overworked Western liberal tradition.

And Berdyaev gave me some personal inspiration. Between 1918 and 1922 he established a “Free Academy of Spiritual Culture” where he taught and shared ideas on a world beyond the regime. He was twice jailed for his trouble. Perhaps I will establish a Free Academy of the Infinite Conversation?

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The return of history and the last democracy.

Have we seen the ultimate refutation of Fukuyama’s hypothesis, in The end of history and the last man, that liberal democracy won? And by winning had ended history as a process of the development of ideas through thesis and antithesis?

History has returned. Well, it never really went away. How could it, in reality? What ended was the phantasm of Hegel and the Enlightenment’s mind, its necromantic galvanisation by the American intelligence community.

But somewhere along the way, we did not notice, with all of our distractions, that democracy had had a silent stroke, and now sat crumpled in its chair, looking blanking outside the window to its over-manicured garden of great memories. We now live in some kinds of polity after democracy. We would do well to end the foolish rhetoric of our global leaders about “democracy vs autocracy”. The former liberal democratic states of the world, especially those yoked to the crumbling American empire, have become some kind of as yet unnameable post-democratic state – not wholly terrible, not wholly different, with commonalities and differences of its rivals, but best seen with realistic eyes, not enchanted by that ancient conjuring spell of democracy.

How do we poor citizens endure the coming of this rough beast? We return to our cells, live in the truth, and live on the crusts of freedom that we can find.

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“Still a mouse may find anywhere

A crust of bread and a hole”

Elena Shvarts

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The historian, Tim Stanley, describes woke politics as a cult of Calvinist visible sainthood. It is an afterword to Slezkine’s House of Government.

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After an episode of Young Heretics on Saint Thomas More and the dilemmas of consience I find a lesson More took from Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ:

“In this thy cell thou shalt find what abroad thou shalt too often lose…. thou must always suffer willingly or unwillingly, and so shalt thou always find the cross… endure patiently the contempt which is thy due… I am not then worthy of anything but to be scourged and punished.”

Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ

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The growing global crisis continues to accelerate. Biden claims limply that he is committed to defend Taiwan. China perhaps tests a hypersonic missile that orbited the planet before striking its target. Biden boasts America has the greatest military in history. Already the humiliation of Afghanistan is being airbrushed from history.

But is America retreating from Moscow? I read in Dominic Lieven’s Russia against Napoleon, the reflections from the memoir of one of Napoleon’s generals on the decimation of the La Grande Armée in the retreat from Moscow in 1812

“The habit of victory cost us even dearer in retreat. The glorious habit of always marching forwards made us veritable schoolboys when it came to retreating. Never was a retreat worse organized.”

Culaincourt from At Napoleon’s Side quoted in Lieven, Russia against Napoleon

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From Jordan Peterson 12 Rules of Life or Beyond Order I read: “Follow rules except when doing so undermines the purpose of those selfsame rules.” It gives me courage, straightens my back, pumps my serotonin.

I never surrendered my freedom. You cannot grant it to me.

In The Australian of 23 October 2021, there is a stunning piece on the mentality of Victorians in the days after the latest announcements on public health restrictions. The fine cricketing journalist and social commentator, Gideon Haigh, writes of taking his daily, mechanised walk, sucked of its vitality by its granted “freedom”:

“We each had a way of coping with the world’s most protracted lockdown, and this was mine with an interior monologue of quiet seething to match. I’d note the emptying shopfronts, the increasingly bedraggled gardens, the looks of fellow pedestrians, like Eliot’s crowds flowing over London Bridge: “So many, I had not thought death had undone so many/Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled. And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.”

Gideon Haigh, The Australian 23-24 October 2021

Not death, but fear undid so many in this Unreal City. The best minds of the culture are waking up to the nightmare they have allowed to inhabit their minds, but which I have long resisted on this blog.

It is a devastating piece that I will clip. Let me quote its last few sentences:

“It also means suffering [Premier Daniel] Andrews’ pivot from tedious admonition to old-fashioned political oiliness. He’s so proud, so thankful, so grateful, so sickening. Seriously, what’s he got to be grateful for? We did as we were told, to avoid draconian fines for non-compliance. You might as well thank us for obeying the law of gravity. Still, at least it’s not quite as weird as people’s professions of gratitude to Andrews for their sacrifices. That’s pure masochism.

This doesn’t feel like a moment of gratitude at all, save perhaps to frontline carers, and to supportive friends and family. The losses have been too great for celebration; the mistakes have been too numerous for congratulation; the future is too uncertain for relief. It’s just another provisional permission slip, maybe for a slightly different walk.”

Gideon Haigh, The Australian 23-24 October 2021

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“The soul survived its nigredo and woke
And the bird once again beats the glass with its wing
Warmed by the pale and ringing smoke.”

Elena Shvarts, Alchemical Dream

Image Credit

One thought on “Flowers of the Mind 6. Asvina (week 4) 2021

  1. Thank you for your essay. I have been a reader of Berdyaev for some years and especially for the past 600 days. San Francisco, California is extremely draconian with mask mandates and vaccine id cards to dine indoors, see a movie, go a club. And the people are pleased as punch to obey. Over 80% vaccinated but after all until all living things no longer die we must hear, tremble and obey our health authorities. I wrote letters but all fingers point to the State of Exception. I think we are in the West collapsing into a true dark age that knows no Good News. And I think it is rooted in idolatry.
    Charles

    Liked by 1 person

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