Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Book Review: History 2.0 by Frank Li — Derryl Hermanutz

This is a review of Frank LI's new book, History 2.0.

The first paragraph of this post is obviously out of paradigm with MMT in holding, "In the US, the big commercial banks own the central bank (the Federal Reserve Banks)…" But the post goes on to explain that the while the supposed agenda of the US is "democracy," the reality is plutocratic oligarchy, where the elite in effect own the government through capture. That understood, the post is an interesting comparison of the US American and Chinese systems. While reality is much more nuanced, Frank Li's analysis gets some of the big things right.

Part of Frank Li's argument is about the differences of Western and Chinese ideology. These are outcomes of different civilizational development. These are not written in stone, however. One civilization can learn from another. China has already begun adopting what it considers valuable ideologically from the West, but the West considers itself exceptional.

I would add that Li more or less conflates Confucianism and Taoism, which is not wrong — the way a Chinese fried of mine put it, contemporary Chinese ideology is blend of tradition (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism) and modern (Marxism with "Chinese characteristics). However, there are important differences between Confucianism and Taoism that bear mention, with which people in the West may not be familiar.

Confucianism is pretty much as Li describes it, about living in tune with Tao (meaning "way,""path" or "road"). It involves living a good life in a good society through human intelligence, which is superior to animal intelligence guided by instinct, owing to the rational nature and moral capacity of human intelligence. But it is chiefly an ethical approach. Conversely, Taoism's approach is natural, and Taoists regard Confucianism as artificial and contrived, only needed by those that lack sufficient (spiritual) "cultivation." Here "spiritual" means "holistic."

Taoism is similar but deeper in that it is based on development and application of the full measure of human intelligence, reflected in a level of collective consciousness that is based on full unfolding of human potential — being fully in tune with Tao, hence completely natural. It is only in this state that humans become fully human instead of a mixture of human and animal, where the animal nature needs to be bridled and directed by an ethical culture of high standards. The person of Tao is automatically virtuous and does the right thing intuitively.

Chinese ideology is not only nuanced but it is practical. Given the level of collective consciousness at present, an ethical approach is needed. But as collective consciousness advances, then living a good life in a good society becomes more and more natural than rational. This is not the naturalness of instinct but rather of knowledge of the heart, which is superior to knowledge of the head in that it is immediate instead of mediated by concepts.

Part of Frank Li's argument is about the differences of Western and Chinese ideology. These are outcomes of different civilizational development. These are not written in stone, however. One civilization can learn from another. China has already begun adopting what it considers valuable ideologically from the West, but the West considers itself exceptional.

Book Review: History 2.0
Derryl Hermanutz


Peter Pan said...

Living a good life in a good society is easier when there are social democratic policies in place.

Ahmed Fares said...

Tribulation is good too.

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Orson Welles, The Third Man, 1949
US actor & director (1915 - 1985)

Peter Pan said...

Keep bombing Yemen then. Someday they'll have their renaissance.

Ahmed Fares said...

"Keep bombing..."

It's God that's doing the bombing. You see power where there is none.

Peter Pan said...

I'm not stopping you from believing God is bombing Yemen, am I?

Silly boy.

Ahmed Fares said...

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Peter Pan said...

You can take my lack of faith for granted, and be able to discuss other matters. For example, the quote attributed to Orson Welles. Was the man really that stupid, or did God put those words into his mouth?

From their tribulations, Yemenis will someday have their renaissance?

I suppose any amount of suffering is preferable to being pointed at, and accused of inventing the cuckoo clock.

Ahmed Fares said...

You can take my lack of faith for granted, and be able to discuss other matters.

People's position as regards faith colors their perception of reality. It seeps into every discussion.

It is said that those who do not fear God will end up fearing everything else. Global warming, asteroids hitting the Earth, super viruses, etc. It's a long list. Be scared of this. Be scared of that. The constant fearmongering.

It's a horrible way to live.

As an aside, I am one who has certainty. Faith is not part of my vocabulary.

Ahmed Fares said...

re: Hideous Kinky (film)

Hideous Kinky is a 1998 drama directed by Scottish director Gillies MacKinnon. Based on Esther Freud's semi-autobiographical 1992 novel of the same name, it follows a young English mother who moves from London to Morocco with her two young daughters in the early 70s. The film stars Kate Winslet and French-Moroccan actor Saïd Taghmaoui.

In 1972, disenchanted about the dreary conventions of English life, 25-year-old Julia (Winslet) heads for Morocco with her daughters, six-year-old Lucy and eight-year-old Bea. Living in a low-rent Marrakech hotel, the trio survive on the sale of hand-sewn dolls and money from the girls' father, a London poet who also has a child from another woman.

After the girls match their mother with gentle Moroccan acrobat and conman Bilal, sexual gears are set in motion. He eventually moves in with them and serves as a surrogate father. Julia's friend Eva urges Julia to study in Algiers with a revered Sufi master at a school of "the annihilation of the ego".

source: Hideous Kinky (film)

Watch this two-minute trailer (watch it to the end):

Hideous Kinky 1998

Peter Pan said...

Is there a religion where there's no key?
You live your life according that that religion's principles, and then you die.
Why does there have to be a reward?

Ahmed Fares said...

Is there a religion where there's no key?

No, at the heart of every religion is the same one and underlying truth. Men call it by different names. I know, I've studied them all.

You live your life according that that religion's principles, and then you die.

The body dies but the soul is immortal.

Why does there have to be a reward?

The soul has to be somewhere.

Ahmed Fares said...

By way of example, Al-Ghazali writes the following in his book titled Mishkat al-Anwar (The Niche of Lights) (bold mine).

To return to the subject we were discussing: the visible world is, as we said, the point of departure up to We world of the Realm Supernal; and the "Pilgrim's Progress of the Straight Way" is an expression for that upward course, which may also be expressed by "The Faith," "the Mansions of Right Guidance." Were there no relation between the two worlds, no interconnection at all, then all upward progress would be inconceivable from one to the other. Therefore, the divine mercy gave to the World Visible a correspondence with the World of the Realm Supernal, and for this reason there is not a single thing in this world of sense that is not a symbol of something in yonder one. It may well happen that some one thing in this world may symbolize several things in the World of the Realm Supernal, and equally well that some one thing in the latter may have several symbols in the World Visible. We call a thing typical or symbolic when it resembles and corresponds to its antitype under some aspect.


A month ago, American Rabbi Yakov Saacks writing in the Times of Israel says the following in an article that was actually about vaccines:

As a student of Chassidic and Kabbalistic philosophy, I have always studied that whatever exists in the physical realm/world must exist in the spiritual realm. In fact, the exact teaching is that because it exists in the spiritual it, therefore, finds its way down and manifests in some way on terra firma.

source: A spiritual vaccine — a Kabbalistic insight

Ahmed Fares said...

re: Earth's crammed with heaven

Further to my comment and in the same vein, this from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

“Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

source: Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Quotable Quote

source (full poem): From ‘Aurora Leigh’ By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)

Peter Pan said...

Then you should be able to comprehend that once someone accepts their own mortality, they have no need for religious beliefs.

Ahmed Fares said...

Religion is more than just a belief system.

Speaking of Islam, both the Qur'an and the Traditions contain prophecies. The Qur'an contains things like time dilation, teleportation, numerical and gematrical codes, etc. The codes were only discovered with the invention of the desktop computer.

The following is from a paper by Karen Harding.

In both cases, and contrary to common sense, objects are viewed as having no inherent properties and no independent existence. In order for an entity to exist it must be brought into being either by God (al-Ghazali) or by an observer (the Copenhagen interpretation).

source: What is the relationship between Al-Ghazali's Occasionalism, Whitehead's occasions and QM?

Karen Harding's paper (pdf file):Causality Then And Now - Al Ghazali And Quantum Theory

Peter Pan said...

Religion is a belief system.
A belief system is a conceptual framework. For psychological reasons, it is a framework related to one's acceptance/denial of mortality.

If you accept that you will die, what do you need stories about God and the afterlife for? Acceptance of death means you will not experience immortality. Even if you have an immortal soul, the loss of memory renders it valueless. A fractured immortality is indistinguishable from death.

If science someday confirms religious claims, I suspect people will be sorely disappointed. We experience life at the macro scale. Descriptions of quantum mechanics are nice, as long as this provides a way to halt the ageing process. Physical immortality is what is being sought.

Peter Pan said...

Are you familiar with the work of this man:
Michael Dowd

Ahmed Fares said...

No, but I just read his Wikipedia page and I find him quite interesting. He speaks of the marriage of science and religion which is something I've spent a lot of time contemplating.

I'll Google some of his writings later and dig a little deeper into his belief system, especially as regards the six days of creation.