Friday, December 27, 2019

Ruminations 89(2) (Cults and Their Objects): Looking Back on 2019 in Epigrams and Aphorisms

The year 2019 is ending with the great rifts--opened in 2016, exposed in 2017, and acquiring a greater urgency and revealing the power of its consequences in 2018--now exposed. More than exposed, 2019 marked their explosion, the aftermath of which, in 2020, will be marked by the start of a variety of end games in law, society, politics, culture and economics. Global divisions, more acute in 2018, finally reached moved toward climax in virtually all states, and with respect to all systems--law, compliance, religious, societal, cultural, and economic. While 2020 will likely be the year in which the climax events of 2019 will play themselves out, the year 2019 was in many ways the year of the "big bang" for the third decade of the 21st century.

Indeed, 2019 was rich with rupture-climax events.  But it might also be said that 2019 was as much the year of the anti-climax--that is, the year that events, long anticipated, finally burst fully ripened. That was, of course, the story of the impeachment of President Trump bu the US House of Representatives.  But it was also the case with the decoupling of the Chinese and US economies (and note, not their separation or segregation) marked by rupture at the beginning of the year and a first stage arrangement at its end. This was also the year of Brexit, but not just Brexit but of the metaphor of Brexit fro the great inversions of political affiliation that appeared to affect political communities worldwide.  In some sense, this was also the great year of Jew baiting--everyone, it seems, had something to say about the People of Israel, even as their actions usually belied their words.  It was also the year of explosions.  There were explosions in Hong Kong, in Bolivia, in the UK, and in that stew pot that is Syria-Lebanon.  This was also the year of the rise of the core of leadership--in Turkey, Russia, China, the United States, Germany, and France.  When one thinks about 2019 in the future, one will think--climax, explosion, rupture, and revelation.    

With no objective in particular, this post and a number that follow provides my summary of the slice of 2019 to which I paid attention through epigrams and aphorisms.  It follows an end of year  tradition I started in 2016 (for those see here), 2017 (for these see here), and 2018 (for those see here).  

This is Part 2 (Cults and their Objects) which considers the centrality of cult and cult worship to the events of 2019.  The rituals of worship, and the practices of its priests surged to the front of mass  consciousness this year.  But this was the year of exposure of the insides of cult, of cult worship, and of the character of the objects of cults, not in the light of its narrative cover but rather exposed in all of their glory, a glory that deviates from the narratives with which they have tended to cover themselves. 2019 was the year of the nakedness of Noah; of the cult of exposure:
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. Gen. 9:20-27 (KJV)
Share your own!

Ruminations 89: 2019 in Epigrams and Aphorisms:
Ruminations 89(1) (Blasphemies).
Ruminations 89(2) (Cults and Cult Objects).
Ruminations 89(3) (Impeachments).
Ruminations 89(4)  (Data, Discretion, and Analytics in the State-Enterprise Complex).
Ruminations 89(5) (The "Jewish Question" as Global Social Ordering)
Ruminations 89(6) (Metamorphosis)

2019 was the year of the cult, and of cult worship; and of the exposure of both. 
CULT (n.) 1610s, "worship, homage" (a sense now obsolete); 1670s, "a particular form or system of worship;" from French culte (17c.), from Latin cultus "care, labor; cultivation, culture; worship, reverence," originally "tended, cultivated," past participle of colere "to till" (Online Etymology Dictionary)
Much of 2019 saw pulsating obsessions with cult objects, and virtually everything was objectified as an object of cults.  Cult here is used in all of its senses--worship, homage, system of worship or its object,  and especially its ancient sense of the tending or cultivation of a thing.  Each of these epigrams and aphorisms ought to be considered in the shadow of all of these meanings.

1.  Speech remains free only where it serves the institutional interests of those charged with its protection; otherwise the surcharge increases in relation to its predicted effects on income; the rest is propaganda to make us all feel better.
"Meanwhile, in FIRE’s newly released 2020 speech code report, we announced that Penn had lost its longstanding green light speech code rating. After discovering that several Penn policies had been amended in ways that threatened free speech, FIRE wrote to Penn in January 2019 asking them to revise those policies. We received no response.  FIRE’s concern is with two Penn policies concerning sexual harassment, both of which define the term in a way that threatens protected speech. The Guide to the University of Pennsylvania Sexual Harassment Policy, for example, defines sexual harassment as (among other things) any unwanted verbal conduct that “has the purpose or effect … of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or study environment.” This overbroad formulation is a far cry from the definition set forth by the Supreme Court in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, which covers only conduct that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.” As my colleague Robert Shibley recently explained, the Davis standard is the only definition “that can sufficiently protect freedom of expression while also prohibiting real sexual harassment on college campuses.” (When it comes to its free speech hypocrisy, Penn doesn’t get it… or doesn’t care)

 2. Aspirational pledges have no binding effect, but the pledge itself is worth more -- the pledge involves the public cult worship of the object of aspiration, and increases the worship of thew worshiper; aspirational 'ledges, then, are at the center of the cult of the self.   

China’s growing appetite for new coal-fired power stations has outstripped plant closures in the rest of the world since the start of last year, data shows. Elsewhere countries reduced their capacity by 8GW in the 18 months to June because old plants were retired faster than new ones were built. But over the same period China increased its capacity by 42.9GW despite a global move towards cleaner energy sources and a pledge to limit the use of coal. . . . China is also helping to finance a quarter of all the new coal projects in the rest of the world, including in South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Jeanett Bergan, the head of responsible investment at Norway’s largest pension fund, KLP, said China should be able to break its addiction to coal by using clean alternatives. “China has a strong advantage that it is a global leader in solar and wind power, and last year it sold more electric cars than the rest of the world combined. China can become the world’s foremost clean energy superpower,” she said. The country must align itself “with what is almost a worldwide consensus: all coal plants are toxic investments and ‘clean’ coal is a myth”, Bergan added.. . . (China's appetite for coal power returns despite climate pledge).

3. The cult of literacy  reached its apogee in the 19th and 20th centuries when literacy was aligned with suitability for membership in communities of power in all societal sectors, and political organization based on illiteracy hierarchies was deemed not in tune with the times; that alignment has been ruptured by the very success of the cult of literacy, which in the age of the computer (internet) image no longer requires literacy, and political organization will again be transformed to suit the times.  
Como pode se ver na imagem abaixo, a transição para república converge historicamente com o início da queda do analfabetismo no Brasil. Sabe-se que muitos fatores explicam essa redução, a educação é um fenômeno multicausal. São variáveis a se considerar: o fim da escravidão, a política de incentivo a imigração europeia adotada no final do século XIX e início do XX, a urbanização crescente, o processo de industrialização, mudanças paradigmáticas no campo das ideias, entre outras.

Não se está dizendo, portanto, que a república como sistema de governo é a causa da redução sistemática do analfabetismo, mas que ela é o contexto no qual ele ocorre. Com base nisso, podemos dizer que qualquer defesa da monarquia não se justifica politicamente e nem se assenta em dados quando falamos em educação. (A herança educacional da monarquia).

4. Cults of power remind us that theory tends to be a rationalization of the present structures of power and its desires, or a reflection of aspirational narratives of regimes of power;usually academics are drawn to the latter but economic activity is embedded always in the present.
By now, pretty much everyone has noticed — or should have noticed — how much influence China holds over many international corporations. Much of the awareness can be attributed to the ongoing NBA-China controversy, where a sports league known in the U.S. for its progressive values is being forced to stay deafeningly silent on the decidedly un-woke policies of the Chinese government in order to keep NBA basketball in Chinese stadiums and on Chinese TV. . . . Without further ado, here is the list of companies that have apologized to China. The companies are listed in reverse chronological order of their apologies, with the most recent first. For each company, we note what Chinese social media (and sometimes the government) took offense at, and when the company apologized, with a link to their apology. (All the International Brands that have Apologized to China).

5.  For liberal democracies time took on an eternal character in 1933-1945; but the only thing that stopped was the ability of the culture to see things as they were becoming; as long as one wears the masks of the victor one can assume the role of the defeated--the cult of the great Anti-Fascist War, the dead hand of its sensibilities now no longer aligned with reality, will blind before it destroys.  
Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected leader. In April, Corbyn was found to have authored a glowing foreword to a book that claims that Jews control global financial systems and describes them as “men of a single and peculiar race.” (Tom Watson, UK Labour No.2 and top voice against anti-Semitism in party, resigns).

6. The cult of the Great Anti-Fascist War produced the fundamental insight that leftist errors were a sign of correctable immaturity but that rightist error were a fundamental abomination to be suppressed; from that baseline it is possible to construct rightist politics as soft coups and leftist politics as liberation

On Tuesday, the right-wing Bolivian politician Jeanine Áñez held an exceedingly large Bible in her hand and declared herself interim president of Bolivia. That same day, soldiers roamed the streets of La Paz, bearing rifles while military jets swooped low over the capital city, temporarily drowning out the sounds of protesters. Evo Morales, the country’s iconic socialist president who had been in office for nearly 14 years when he stepped down just two days prior, had just arrived in Mexico, describing himself as the victim of “the most cunning and disastrous coup in history.” How this extraordinary situation came about has been a source of rage, confusion, fear, and jubilation across Bolivia—and for Latin America watchers the world over. (Bolivia’s Coup Is Still Happening: Everything you wanted to know about Bolivian politics, but were afraid to ask).

7. Like the time of the death of an abusive partner one got used to or could not leave, the death of the cult leader may sometimes cause more expressions of relief than of mourning; leaders tend to mourn each other's passing more than those onto whom such leadership is bestowed.

“We are happier now that he is gone. Why should I go to his funeral? I don’t have fuel,” a Harare resident told the Agence France-Presse news agency. “We don’t want to hear anything about him anymore. He is the cause of our problems.”

Another, Amos Siduna, added: “I didn’t like him, but I still wanted to attend just to see for myself that he is gone... but kombis [minivan taxis] want $3.50 just to get to the stadium. That’s too much money for me just to go and say ‘bye bye’ to a corpse. Mugabe’s corpse. No.”

Amelia Tukande, who was selling mobile phone chargers near the stadium, added: “What will I get if I go there? What will Mugabe do for me now that he failed to do when he was alive? It is a waste of time. I have to work for my family.”(‘We are happier now he is gone. Why should I go?’: Mostly empty stadium hosts Robert Mugabe funeral:African leaders praise former president as many of his fellow countrymen reject commemoration).

8. The cult of law is inversely related to its practice; Magna Carta taught that to the English nobles even as the international treaty movements of the early 21st century is teaching that to the nobles of the kingdoms that globalization has created.
This is, on initial consideration, a most extraordinary instrument--for such is the name it has been chosen for it by those who are its creators. Yet that appears to be a good choice--not because the diplomatic pungent word-swamp that produced it required the term, but precisely because the term suits it well.As one considers the object in all of its complexities, lacunae and aggressive interventions, one ought to keep at the forefront the notion of the this "legally binding in international law" object as instrument. But to what end is it meant to serve as instrument? That is also resplendently on display across the length of the document--it is, of course, the transnational as an object of danger, of subtlety, of deception, and of state threatening potential, whose power must be regulated (and eventually domesticated (here in the sense of coming within the enclosures of states). Taken together, one might then approach the study of this Draft Legally Binding Instrument from the core premise that it is an instrument forged by our modern Hephaestus to be used to tame that wild but useful engine that is transnational economic activity. (Treaty Project Working Group's Commentary on the U.N. Inter-Governmental Working Group (Geneva) 2019 Draft 'Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, The Activities of Corporations and Other Business Enterprises' (Textual and Conceptual Analysis). Full Print Version  14-2_Treaty_Special_Issue_2019; online (ISSN 2689-0291) print format (ISSN 2689-0283 (print)) HERE).

9. The cult of money is never far from the center of the organization of society; yet that poses a problem for those who retain their money precisely by creating the cults of merits and the cult of social-class; the worship of the cult of money can sometimes merge with the cult of corruption.

Two months after prosecutors first went public with “Operation Varsity Blues” — the largest college admissions scheme the Department of Justice has ever prosecuted — much has happened to the two most well-known parents indicted in the scandal: actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Huffman, 56, pleaded guilty to the charges against her on May 13, admitting that she paid $15,000 for someone to correct her daughter’s SAT answers. With sentencing set for Sept. 13, prosecutors said they recommended four months in prison, though the maximum sentence for her conspiracy charge is 20 years. A total of 20 people have now pleaded guilty in the case, which also indicts Loughlin, of Full House fame, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli. Loughlin, 54, and Giannulli, 55, have pleaded not guilty to charges that they bribed athletic officials at the University of Southern California to get both of their daughters, who do not row, admitted to the school as crew recruits. (Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman's College Admissions Scandal Remains Ongoing. Here Are the Latest Developments).

10.  It is true that words are redolent with magic; the ignorant take this literally and burn those who read the words; the cynical burn the words; the wise understand that the magic is in the meaning and use words to build their own magical narrative life worlds in which society may be made to live; it is in this sense that one understands that the witch's house of candy in the story of Hansel and Gretel was merely a metaphor for the way in which words, like candy, can be used to build a container that both draw people in and then can be used to cook them to the order of the builder.

"A Catholic school in Tennessee has removed the Harry Potter books from its library after the school's priest decided they could cause a reader to conjure evil spirits. In an email obtained by The Tennessean, the Rev. Dan Reehil of Nashville’s St. Edward Catholic School said he consulted exorcists in the U.S. and Rome who recommended removing the books. Reehil wrote, "The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text." Catholic Diocese of Nashville superintendent Rebecca Hammel said Reehil has the final say at his school. Hammel said she thinks the books by J.K. Rowling are still on the shelves of other libraries in the diocese." (Harry Potter removed from Tennessee Catholic school library because the reader could conjure evil spirits).

No comments: