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I am no expert on terrorism and wonder whether the supposed experts aren’t either.

Dutch historian and “expert on terrorism” Beatrice de Graaf gave a lecture on Dutch TV on March 11 (or see Utrecht University) about David Rapoport‘s four waves of terrorism (his original article).

Her main message was that people might find some comfort in the idea that waves die out. March 22 saw the bombs in Brussels.

This theory of four waves of terrorism appears to be rather silly. Below gives my common sense rejection.

De Graaf is not the only academic who regards the theory of the four waves as serious. The West is vulnerable to terrorism when its “experts on terrorism” are academics lost in theory. It is okay to sooth people not to worry too much, but intellectuals should present effective approaches rather than fairy tales.

The so-called “four waves”

Jeffrey Kaplan summarizes (and then proceeds in adding his own fifth wave) (while Dutch readers can check Edwin Ruis’s review of March 13):

“Rapoport’s theory, first published on the web before finally finding a home in a printed anthology, posited four distinct waves of modern terrorism (anarchist, nationalist, 1960s leftist, and the current religious wave). Each wave had a precipitating event, lasted about 40 years before receding, and, with some overlap, faded as another wave rose to take center stage. Most terrorist groups would gradually disappear, a few (the Irish Republican Army for example) proved more durable. Rapoport’s theory was elegant, simple, inclusive, and had a high degree of explanatory power. In short, it provides a good academic model.” (Kaplan 2008).

Jeffrey D. Simon holds (and wonders about a fifth wave too):

“David Rapoport’s “The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism” is one of the most important pieces ever written in the vast literature on terrorism (Rapoport 2004).  What Rapoport did in his classic study was take the complex phenomenon of terrorism and put it in a historical context that not only explained different periods of international terrorism, but also set forth theories and concepts that can be used to attempt to anticipate the future of terrorism.  That is no easy task.  There haven’t been many assessments and articles written about Rapoprt’s “Four Waves” theory, although this volume of papers initiates a discourse about his important thesis (See Thompson and Rasler, this volume).  Despite the numbers of scholars, policymakers, and others who have joined the field of terrorism studies after the 9/11 attacks, there does not appear to be a great deal of interest in the history of terrorism.  In today’s instant access and information-overload society, we are inundated with analyses of current affairs but pay scant attention to what we may learn from what has transpired in the past.” (J.D. Simon on the Lone Wolf, likely 2010)

I googled to find some criticism, but didn’t see much, though perhaps I didn’t google well. I noticed a critical text by Ericka Durgahee. I didn’t have time to look into this, and the following are my own common sense short remarks.

The anarchists 1880-1920

The dynasties of Hohenzollern, Romanov and Habsburg collapsed. Perhaps the anarchists didn’t really win because we don’t have anarchy now, but those anarchists were replaced by communists and fascists, and we ended up with two world wars, which isn’t quite “die out”.

Anti-colonialism 1920-1960

The anti-colonialists won. Winning isn’t quite “die out”.

Leftists 1960-1989

Leftism became impopular because of the Great Stagflation (unfavourable unemployment and inflation) and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Young radicals were more motivated by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

In Germany, the police managed to isolate the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF). In another article, Beatrice de Graaf explains how the Dutch radicals (Rode Jeugd, Krakersbeweging) lost their motivation by incompetence of the Dutch police. The Dutch police intended to adopt the tough German approach, but mismanaged this, and both radicals and the general population got the impression of an atmosphere of tolerance and dialogue. In that atmosphere, potential supporters saw no need for radicalisation, and radicals had the example of the dead-end street in Germany.

These events rather concern the transformation of European society after World War 2. There are pockets of terrorism, but there doesn’t seem much difference between RAF and other groups like IRA and ETA: except that each group requires specific attention for its idiosyncracies.

Religious terrorism 1979-now

Religious violence is of all times. There is no reason to predict that it will pass. This is no wave.

Alternative approach

Terrorists tend to be higher educated who are frustrated w.r.t. opportunities in society. They may feel sympathy with the unprivileged. They may adopt any ideology to recruit others in the resistance against the establishment. To counter this, one must look at society as a whole, create fair opportunity, and encourage people to participate. My own work contains aspects that are key to reduce terrorism.

  • Create a social welfare state that works. See DRGTPE.
  • Make democracy work. See VTFD.
  • Provide for good education, e.g. re-engineer mathematics. See EWS.
  • Let people learn how to deal with the human capacity for abstraction. See SMOJ.
Beatrice de Graaf, soothing Dutch viewers that a wave dies out

Beatrice de Graaf, soothing Dutch viewers that a wave of terrorism dies out

 

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Historians of science study the genesis and development of ideas, e.g. the interaction between scientists via the letters between authors. Van Ulsen (2001:1) reports:

“Beth operated at the difficult boundary of disciplines. Philosophers denounced him as mathematician and logician, while the mathematicians and logicians regarded him, neither in a positive sense, as a philosopher.”

My documentation w.r.t. my own results serves this purpose as well. When I protest against maltreatment of my work then this does not imply that I lack good judgement or would be impolite.

On February 18 & 19 prof. dr. H.C.M. (Harrie) de Swart (EUR) (wiki) (born 1944, age 71) blocked my attendance at some colloquia on the history of science, first with the argument that these would be a “closed shop”, subsequently, when this was shown to be untrue, with refusing to give any kind of argument. This amounts to a breach of the integrity of science. The following is a summary of the case. The email exchanges with a discussion in English are here: part 1 with De Swart and part 2 with prof. dr. F.A. (Fred) Muller, the project manager.

NWO projects 2012-2017 on Mannoury, Beth, Heyting and Van Dantzig

There are (1) a NWO-project 360-20-301 running in 2012-2016 on Mannoury and philosophy of language and (2) a NWO-project 360-20-300 running in 2012-2017 on Mannoury, Beth, Heyting and Van Dantzig, with a budget of 617,000 euros.

I have an interest in these authors since my student days around 1977. I referred to Heyting in my book “A logic of exceptions” (1981 unpublished, 2007, 2011), Mannoury & Van Dantzig in 2012 (referring to a study by Gerard Alberts), and referred to Mannoury and his students Van Hiele and De Groot on my weblog in 2015. This is a draft paper of February 18 2016 on Mannoury & Van Hiele concerning the overlap of ideas that can be found in their work. (Historians would have to check whether Mannoury and Van Hiele stayed in touch after university.)

I discovered the NWO-projects around New Year 2016. The projects mention manager prof.dr. F.A. Muller and researchers PhD-student Mireille Kirkels (Mannoury), dr. Paul van Ulsen (Beth & Heyting) and dr. Gerard Alberts (Van Dantzig). For my current focus Kirkels and Van Ulsen are the relevant contact persons. They wrote that I was welcome to attend (Kirkels January 11 and Van Ulsen January 13 2016).

I do not know what the official position of De Swart is with respect this NWO-project, other than that he apparently manages an email list for the colloquia. I actually was a bit surprised to see his involvement since the project summary did not mention him.

The breach by De Swart on February 18 & 19 2016

On February 19 2016 there was a colloquium for this project. On Februari 18 2016, perhaps not coincidentally just the day before, De Swart blocked my attendance for all of these colloquia.

  • His first motivation was that the colloquia were a “closed shop”.
  • When I showed De Swart the email by Van Ulsen (preferring the accomplished PhD above the PhD-student) and stated the inference that there is no “closed shop”, whence his statement was untrue, De Swart replied that I was not welcome, refusing to give me a motivation.

This is a breach of scientific integrity. It blocks the flow of information. A colloquium is not organised for nought. De Swart implicitly slanders to others as if there would be cause to block my attendance. There is a legal distinction between “not welcome” and “forbidden”, but this does not apply here scientifically given De Swart’s original reference to “closed shop”.

I informed De Swart of these implications, but he did not remit. I decided not to attend, if only to protect myself from further abuse. Perhaps De Swart has given a motivation to others (but not to me). If participants have information on this, it should be forwarded to me since it concerns my position.

An educated guess what might have motivated De Swart to breach science

Given the lack of stated motivation, one can only guess about it. The event however must be explained to others.

It is likely relevant to mention an earlier case when De Swart maltreated my work, namely in 2001 on the subject of social welfare and voting theory. I protest against this maltreatment in 2001, see the documentation on my website. This issue is not resolved yet.

  • I do not know of a public statement by De Swart that replies to my protest.
  • I do not know about a public statement on content by De Swart concerning my book “Voting Theory for Democracy” (VTFD) (2001, 2004, 2011, 2014) (stable text, different versions of Mathematica). I would applaud it when he would finally find time to study VTFD, and state explicitly whether or not he sees some of his misconceptions on social welfare and voting theory corrected.
  • My criticism doesn’t only apply to De Swart but also to the Dutch community of researchers on social welfare and voting theory, i.e. that they allow De Swart’s malconduct and do not protect me against it. They apparently also neglect VTFD and related work.
  • Dutch readers can benefit from my webpage that warns about mathematics about social choice and voting theory.
  • Dutch readers can also benefit from De Swart’s valedictorian speech for his departure from Tilburg in 2010: speech, Volkskrant may 19, Volkskrant June 5. De Swart sins against science on (at least) two points.

(1) He gives a wrong summary of Arrow’s Theorem, suggesting that there would be proof that no voting scheme is ideal. VTFD explains that Arrow cannot tell us what is ideal, and that his words on rationality, consumer sovereignty and moral necessity do not fit his mathematics. De Swart’s scientifically proven false statement in Dutch is on page 10:

“Nu zijn er vele andere kiesmechanismen, maar geen van hen blijkt ideaal.”

(2) De Swart proposes that the electorate does much more work in the ballot box, e.g. by giving report card numbers (10 to 0) or scores (A to F) to parties, or by ranking political parties by order of preference. Perhaps the effort can be reduced by simply sorting physical logo’s of the parties, but still it is a significant job, given the empirical numbers of parties. De Swart refers to Balinski and Laraki, 2007, in which 2000 voters scored 12 presidential candidates with apparently relative ease. I have my doubts on this. De Swart may have his personal opinion, but it is not scientific to neglect another proposal that may be even better. De Swart obstructs current discussion about electoral reform by advocating impractical ways and closing his eyes for a practical approach towards improvement. Again he appears to be an abstract thinking mathematician without proper attention for empirical matters. My suggestion is that it not only suffices but may even be optimal when people have only one vote. The relevant point is that the professionals in Parliament use the more complex mechanisms. Thus voters form the weight that is attached to the party of their choice. The power of voters can be enhanced by having annual elections. Populism can be checked by having an Economic Supreme Court. Let Parliament investigate these options, so that politicians know what these options actually are. See the Dutch booklet “De Ontketende Kiezer“.

Harrie de Swart, valedictorian speech 2010 on voting

Harrie de Swart, valedictorian speech 2010 on voting

Political economy and social dynamics of having a grudge

It would not be rational when De Swart links this issue on voting since 2001 to my attendance at these colloquia for this NWO-project. However, he may not like that I protest.

My website documents what happens with my findings. This documentation cannot be construed as a grudge on my part (i.e. an emotion that interferes with good judgement). I politely greet De Swart and hope that he finds his way towards science. It would be slander w.r.t. me to suggest that I would confuse the topic of the NWO-project in 2016 with the issue on voting since 2001, and that I would not be able to respond in scientific and civilised manner when my work and person are abused.This present text is another example of a scientific and civilised response to abuse.

When De Swart does not provide decent motivation, breaches the integrity of science and implicitly slanders w.r.t. my person, then there arises an asymmetry. It would be slander to suggest that I would have a grudge against De Swart, yet it is not slander but an unavoidable hypothesis to explain events by that he might have a grudge w.r.t. this issue of voting since 2001.

Three strikes and you are out (wiki)

It would not be the first time that De Swart breaches rules of science.

  1. Thus on voting 2001, above.
  2. De Swart also is in error in 2008 advising the EU to use square root (Penrose) weights in voting, with neglect of the refutation by Andrew Gelman in 2007.
  3. De Swart is also in error in his management (not necessarily the content) in 2007-2008 of the thesis by M. Cabbolet. De Swart tried again in Eindhoven without telling that it had been rejected in Tilburg, only to be found out later on, see Fiers 2008 and Gerard ‘t Hooft 2014.
  4. Thus on colloquia on Mannoury in 2016, above.
Conclusion

The blockage of my attendance of these colloquia should be lifted. Independently, the breach by De Swart w.r.t. this attendance must be looked into. Resolution of the issue since 2001 w.r.t. voting is required as well. These issues should not be confused. However, De Swart’s breach in 2016 may help readers to grow aware that I had reason to protest in 2001 indeed, and to grow dismayed that the Dutch researchers on social welfare and voting did not resolve this over 15 years, and neither the censorship of science since 1990 for at least 25 years by the directorate of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) (see the About page).

Listening to Marvin Gaye, What is going on?

The minister of Education, Culture and Science presented a Vision (November 2014 in Dutch) w.r.t. the science research agenda till 2025. This April 2015 all Dutch citizens and their organisations can send in research questions.

You only need a one-liner and a short explanation of max 200 words. If you have an idea or want to check ideas from others, check their website here.

Eric van Damme opposes the minister

Eric van Damme (1956), professor of game theory, market design and competition, – not to be confused with Jean-Claude van Damme, the muscles from Brussels – holds that the ministerial approach is counterproductive, see his 10 page verdict – indeed written in English so that the world might avoid the Dutch policy disaster:

“These [policy choices] all follow from one major consideration: the desire to steer science in such a way that it becomes (even) more useful for Dutch society and to the Dutch business sector in particular.

I think, and will motivate in this document, that this idea is narrow-minded and misconceived. I am strongly convinced that following up on this idea can only be counterproductive, i.e., that it will hurt Dutch science and also the competitiveness of the Dutch economy.

Dutch politeness implies that I will say something positive about this latest science policy document. The “Vision” indeed acknowledges that the Dutch science system currently is performing very well: with limited means (i.e. government expenditures at the EU and OECD average, but limited outlays from the private sector), it belongs to the top world-wide (p. 5). It proposes that research in schools of higher vocational training be given more emphasis and that more attention be devoted to science communication and the popularization of research. Personally, I believe that multidisciplinary research indeed should receive more attention, but I acknowledge that I am not completely sure. The last sentence of the “Vision” is the best one, it acknowledges that the essence of science is curiosity about why and how things are as they are.

However, Dutch frankness also insists that, for efficiency’s sake, I am open and honest about what I think about the document. In short, I find it very disappointing. Rather than showing an admiration for science, it shows distrust, and a belief that the government, by steering and controlling, can improve matters. There is no recognition of the fact that such measures may stifle curiosity or may induce young researchers to turn their back on the Netherlands. Even in areas where the Dutch government clearly could (and I think, should) make a difference, such as with respect to the very low numbers of women in science (where the Netherlands is at the bottom in Europe), it is just proposed to follow European initiatives (p. 72).” (Eric van Damme, THE DUTCH “WETENSCHAPSVISIE 2025”: ILL-INFORMED, NARROW MINDED AND MISCONCEIVED, 2014-12-04)

Van Damme’s main criticism is that the “Vision” discusses science but isn’t up to scientific standards and wouldn’t pass peer-review. It are bureaucrats who didn’t make it into professorships who judge about the professors and their future research topics.

My problem now is that I didn’t read that “Vision” while Van Damme’s rejection is not inviting to start reading. It requires some masochism to read an ill-informed, narrow minded and misconceived text, only to verify that it is ill-informed, narrow minded and misconceived.

Eric van Damme and his books (Me Judice TV 201), Jet Bussemaker (Flickr PvdA) and Jean-Claude van Damme (Wikimedia)

Eric van Damme and his books (Me Judice TV 2010), Jet Bussemaker (Flickr PvdA) and Jean-Claude van Damme (Wikimedia)

Who is minister Jet Bussemaker ?

The minister of Education, Culture and Science is Jet Bussemaker (1961) – pronounce “Yet Buhs-seh-mah-ker”. She has a doctorate in political theory, but apparently didn’t develop adequate respect for science, at least to make Eric van Damme happy.

Van Damme claims that writing a thesis may also be good preparation for non-scientific jobs, but perhaps he ought to make an exception for the minister herself.

As a member of Dutch Parliament in 1998-2007 for the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) Bussemaker specialized in “employment policy, health care and taxes”. A doctorate in political theory need not qualify for economics. Still, studying political theory might come with the lesson that one might have to be flexible.

In any case:

  • Bussemaker in dealing with employment and taxes didn’t do anything about the censorship of economic science since 1990 by the directorate of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) on my analysis on emploment and taxes.
  • Remember that this session of Parliament after 1998 dealt with some decisions on the euro, like the entry of Greece into the Eurozone. Check the amendment in 2000 by former professor of economics and then parliamentarian Henk de Haan that Greece shouldn’t enter, while minister of Finance Gerrit Zalm claimed that Greece was making impressive progress – see this article in De Groene 2011-06-08.
  • In 1997-2000 Finance minister Gerrit Zalm (VVD) and underminister Willem Vermeend (PvdA) presented a tax plan, with a crucial lie w.r.t. tax exemption with quite an impact on employment, see here. Obviously Bussemaker didn’t have sufficient background to keep track of what Zalm & Vermeend were doing. I didn’t check whether she was modest enough to say so.
  • In 2013 there was tax fraud by Bulgarians so that underminister Frans Weekers had to resign – but the real problem had been created by Zalm & Vermeend, see this paper in English and this summary in Dutch.
  • When the economic crisis started in 2007, Bussemaker became underminister for Health, Welfare and Sport, so that it might have been fortunate for her that she didn’t have to think about the economic crisis and the consequences for employment.

I am just being critical about my own domain. Obviously Jet Bussemaker must have done some good things in other areas.

The ideas will be judged by Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Beatrice de Graaf

The ideas submitted for the agenda will be judged by Alexander Rinnooy Kan (1949) and Beatrice de Graaf (1976).

Rinnooy Kan has a background in mathematics and econometrics, was professor in operations research in Rotterdam, and became a pillar in Dutch society as rector magnificus, chairman of the employers union, member of the board of ING, chairman of the Social Economic Council (SER), and has now returned to a professorship in Amsterdam. Obviously he didn’t do anything about the censorship of science by the directorate of the CPB, but perhaps I should have tried to speak with him about that longer.

Rinnooy Kan was instrumental in getting his co-author and fellow operations research mathematician Jan Karel Lenstra to do something about the education in mathematics and arithmetic. Professor Lenstra however has no background in didactics of mathematics, so this became a disaster, and of course it is a breach in research integrity since scientists should not claim expertise which they do not have, see my protest.

Beatrice de Graaf grew up in Putten, where her grandfather managed to escape the German razzia in 1944 that deported more than 600 men of which only 48 returned. As a junior highschool student Beatrice watched with her father the TV series Tour of Duty (USA 1987-1990) about the Vietnam war, and that had a great impact on her. Her focus now is on terrorism, with lone wolves and methods for deradicalisation. One of her findings is that the “Dutch success” in preventing radicalisation like in Ireland (IRA), Germany (RAF) and Italy (Red Brigade) was a result of perhaps luck but at least incompentence by the Dutch counterintelligence (BVD, now AIVD).The German police approach was tough and repressive, which forced the RAF sympathizers underground with more group-think and radicalisation. The BVD / AIVD intended to copy the German approach, but were amateurs, which allowed Dutch radicals (Rode Jeugd, Krakers, RaRa) to have rather normal lives and deradicalise themselves. Dutch views on the situation in Germany affected the internal discussions however too, thus, the stick and carrot still apply.

For professor De Graaf I have these questions:

  • What good is it when those people in Putten were killed for defending freedom of thought, when the Dutch government censors economic scientific freedom since 1990 ?
  • How are you going to tackle terrorism when so many of the disadvantaged are locked in unemployment and poverty, caused by economic policies based upon censorship of science ?
  • How are you going to tackle terrorism that either seeks justification in religion or abuses religious ideas, when Dutch society is rife with closed minds on new insights on the relation between religion and mathematics ? (And with people perhaps not taking me seriously since my work on unemployment is censored anyway ?)

Let us compare, for the sake of clarity, the mental frame of terrorists with the (“autistic”) mathematical mind like of professors Hans Freudenthal (1905-1990) or Jan Karel Lenstra (1947) who presume that they know plenty about didactics of mathematics simply because they are professors of mathematics, or, indeed with the minds of the directorate of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau, who think that they already know enough so that they can censor stuff that they perhaps don’t understand themselves since they don’t feel like they have to ask questions or permit others to ask questions ? Perhaps psychologists can explain to us how these minds work, how they block contrary views, and how these ego’s can terrorize the rest of humanity – either with bombs or just plain old bureaucracy ?

Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Beatrice de Graaf (Source: wikimedia)

Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Beatrice de Graaf (Source: wikimedia)

Some criticism for Eric van Damme

Who is free of sins may cast the first stone. It must be said that there might be some criticism for Eric himself too.

I did inform professor Van Damme about the censorship of economic science by the directorate of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau since 1990 – and he didn’t do anything about it.

I also informed Van Damme that one of the issues that is being censored is my paper on the 1951  Impossibility Theorem by Kenneth Arrow. See this weblog’s About page, on my book “Voting Theory for Democracy” (VTFD).

(1) This mathematical theorem on the aggregation of preferences actually falls in the field that Van Damme teaches about. He could have checked my result and have judged that the directorate of the CPB shouldn’t have censored my paper on this topic – or in Van Damme’s words they were and are perhaps ill-informed, narrow minded and misconceived – whence he could have supported my suggestion for a parliamentarian enquiry and a boycott of Holland till the issue is resolved. However, none of this.

(2) Van Damme’s inactivity on this hits himself with a vengeance. Namely, Arrow’s theorem that democracy would be mathematically impossible and that always some dictatorship would be required, has been feeding into the minds of the Western intelligentia since 1951. Importantly also into the minds of politicians and bureaucrats. Often also into the minds of students of political theory, for who this is a basic theorem, perhaps also those political theorists who become ministers of Science. Think of Jet Bussemaker. Thus, Van Damme had the opportunity to change those minds, didn’t do it, and now suffers the consequences – perhaps unaware how he helped cause his own misery.

Concluding: Could this be an opportunity for my own proposals ?

While I probably may well agree with Eric van Damme on his criticism on the Bussemaker report, I still did not read this. I am also inclined to optimism. People deserve a chance to change their minds.

When Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Beatrice de Graaf suggest that they are open to new ideas, and indicate that they are going to study those, then this might also be an opportunity. Such an opportunity may be lacking in Russia or North Korea.

The Appendix contains the research questions that I have submitted till now to the Dutch science research agenda till 2025. The links are to their website, in Dutch.

Appendix: Suggestions for the Dutch science agenda 2015-2025

(1) Is it true that the Trias Politica are failing and that an extension with an Economic Supreme Court is required ? (link)

(2) Is it true that the directorate of the Central Planning Bureau has been censoring economic science since 1990 ? (link)

(3) How can the Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) deal with collective breaches of integrity of science ? (link)

(4) Why don’t scientists make more flexible use of peer-review methods ? (link)

(5) What can be done about the gap in the general media between between reporting on science and reporting on economics & business – so that economic science is hardly reported on ? (link)

(6) How can a breach against scientific integrity be corrected on the educational site Kennislink.nl ? (link)

(7) Is it true that mathematicians have a basic training in abstraction that disqualifies them for when they enter the empirical field of didactics and teaching mathematics ? (link)

(8) Might Holland and in particular its educational system be willing to start deconstructing Christianity ? (link)

(9) How can scientists in the fields of ecology, environment and climate begin to see that economic scientists are failing in their judgements about the environmentally sustainable national income according to the definition by Hueting (eSNI) ? (link)

Addendum May 1

(10) Can and should the study of history not train stricter for science and respect for that ? (link)

(11) What regulations should be available for scientists for a flexible appeal to protection by the judiciary system and the police ? (link)

(12) What regulations should be available for scientists for a flexible appeal to legal protection by their employers and insurance ? (link)

(13) Is there any future for Mathix and Math-x: “A user friendly computer system based upon mathematics and cognitive psychology” ? (link)

(14) What can science say about the disarray in the debate about Black Pete ? (link)

Listening to Saleas, I Paralia Ton Oniron Sou,
Love Dreams & Feelings, and
Live stin Tourkia sinaulia

Dutch television this 2015 Easter Sunday rehashed a potpourri of topics. Host Marcia Luyten spoke with journalist Tom-Jan Meeus, politician Halbe Zijlstra, Italian investigative reporter Loretta Napoleoni and Belgian author Tom Lanoye. I skip the last interview for practical purposes.

The Seattle Times on Warren Buffett exploiting the poor

Dutch journalist Tom-Jan Meeus reported how he had read an article in The Seattle Times about how Warren Buffett via his holdings in Clayton Homes exploited the poor (April 2, updated April 5). Sales tricks are being used that are similar to those that caused the collapse of mortgages and the housing industry in the onset of the current economic crisis. While Washington has been setting up new regulations to reduce or prevent such tricks, the lawyers of Warren Buffett would have been lobbying to have those regulations repealed or redrafted. If true, this report would surely taint Buffett’s image. The article appears to be a collaboration with the Center for Pubic Integrity.

Meeus also read a statement in The Washington Post by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., that “pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous” (March 29). Such laws would enable devout adherents of religion X to only have business with people fitting their religion X. It would be a step back from religious tolerance. Meeus’s analysis was that Republicans had started this attack on tolerance so that Democrats might perhaps succeed in its defence, but the attack would rally so much conservative backlash that Democrats would surely lose the real battle on neoliberal economics. Compare abortus, euthanasia, gay marriages, and where this got the US in terms of economics.

The most amazing thing is that Dutch television deems it relevant to educate its viewers on American newspapers, and that tv journalism can be reduced to headlines and coffee table gossip.

Loretta Napoleoni on the Islamic State (min 17 – 33 in English)

There was an interview in English with Loretta Napoleoni on the Islamic State. This might perhaps be of value for foreign viewers too. I am not following the events on Islam and/or the Middle East, had not heard about Napoleoni before, and suppose that you will have when you have been following those events.

“Napoleoni holds an MA in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in terrorism from the London School of Economics. For her work as a consultant for the commodities markets, she met often with officials of many Middle Eastern nations. Her latest book is Rogue Economics: Capitalism’s New Reality (…).” (Amazon.com)

In the present interview:

  • She compares the meaning of Islamic State for jihadists with the meaning of Israel for Zionists.
  • IS came up not only because the US left Iraq but also because of a combination of focused leadership and Salafist finance. Al-Qaeda curiously had a distant enemy America, and got George W. Bush and Tony Blair to invade Iraq that had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, but IS focuses on local olicharchies and wants to take over now that both Saddam Hussein and the US are gone.
  • Fighting IS would only make it stronger.  The real challenge is to understand what is happening in the minds of young moslims, all over the world but especially in Western countries where they feel alienated.

This analysis fits my own: (1) that the West should get its economies into order, see the About page, and (2) that education on religion should focus on deconstructing Christianity. For Westerners there is little efficiency in first studying the complexities of Islam and then discovering that it is just another religion to deconstruct. It is more sensible that people familiar with Christianity start deconstructing this, and that people familiar with Islam take an example from the deconstruction of Christianity. The political divisions in the Middle East are complex too and the West better develops a sensible position of containment and economic development after the Bush & Blair crime against humanity.

Loretta Napoleoni 2014

Loretta Napoleoni 2014

Dutch politics and ABN AMRO bank (assets EUR 400 bn)

Marcia Luyten also interviewed politician Halbe Zijlstra on his views on (1) dictatorial regimes and (2) the public outcry on the salaries of the top management of the ABN AMRO bank.

Let me focus on (2). In the crisis since 2007 this bank collapsed and was nationalised in 2008 for around EUR 28 bn – presumably with losses for the Royal Bank of Scotland too – while its market value now might be around 15 bn.

The media last weeks reported:

“(Reuters) – The Dutch government will reconsider selling off ABN Amro Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said, after senior managers agreed to give up a controversial pay rise that had stalled progress on the bank’s proposed share listing.

In the face of a widespread public outcry, the managers said they would give up raises of 100,000 euros ($110,000) each, which had been approved by the supervisory board for six members of the managing board, all but Chief Executive Gerrit Zalm.

Lawmakers, who must approve an initial public offering, had decried the raises as evidence that the bank’s management culture was still flawed. Dijsselbloem said on Friday he would delay privatisation until questions over the increase were resolved.” (Reuters 2015-03-29)

The following may help understanding the situation.

The Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has a neoliberal conservative ideology, with occasional strains of a proper John Stuart Mill type of liberalism, but mostly thinking like Reagan & Thatcher. Johannes Witteveen (1921), former director of the IMF, has been a life-long member of VVD, but stands on the sidelines now, with his advice of a different economic policy than the Dutch government has been following since the onset of the crisis in 2007.

For the power brokers of the VVD three names are relevant here:

  • Gerrit Zalm (1952), economist, former civil servant at the Ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs (1975-1988), director of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) (1989-1994), where he started the censorship of economic science that this website protests about, minister of Finance 1994-2002, 2003-2007, one of the introducers of the euro, now CEO of ABN AMRO bank (assets EUR 400 bn).
  • Mark Rutte (1967), historian, currently prime minister of the VVD-PvdA coalition, and eventually he might move on to the European Commission, perhaps even succeed Jean-Claude Juncker – see Angela Merkel presenting him the Rathenau Prize he should not have received.
  • Halbe Zijlstra (1969), sociologist, leader of the fraction in Dutch Parliament.
Dutch neoliberal conservatives Zalm (1952), Rutte (1967), Zijlstra (1969)

Dutch neoliberal conservatives Gerrit Zalm (1952), Mark Rutte (1967), Halbe Zijlstra (1969)

In the interview Zijlstra claims:

  • Zalm would be out of the picture since his salary wasn’t raised: which is absurd since Zalm is the CEO who defended the raise, and thus is central in the picture.
  • Now that the board has erased the raise, everyone should maintain calmness and focus on the IPO: which is nonsense since the problem concerns the very mentality of the original raise.
  • The IPO would be important since a privatised bank increases competition while a nationalised bank is subject to more regulations from Brussels: which is disingenious since the currently discussed IPO concerns only 20% of equity, and the Dutch banking market is rather oligopolistic anyway.
  • Other models to restructure the Dutch banking sector are out of the question: which is manipulative since one can at least study such models before making a decision on content rather than on ideology. For example, see my paper Money as gold versus money as water.

While Zalm is an economist, he is not such a good economist, with no training in econometrics, and with a background in the civil service instead of economic research. He was appointed by politicians – minister Rudolf de Korte (VVD) – from the ministries into the CPB which should not have happened because of his lack of research background – just like is the case now with current director Laura van Geest. Zalm’s claimed success as minister of Finance is based upon the Dutch wage moderation policy, which is a beggar thy neighbour policy, with a structural surplus on the external account – see again the criticism by former executive director of the IMF Johannes Witteveen.

Zalm’s successors Rutte and Zijlstra are no economists, and thus must embrace the neoliberal ideology with the zeal of true believers – since they will not know what they are talking about economically.

For Dutch readers, my protest as an economic scientist against this situation w.r.t. Zalm is updated here. My advice is to boycott Holland, no bank excepted.

Overall conclusion

A recurrent problem in cases like these is that Dutch journalists will not inform foreign guests like Loretta Napoleoni and Tom Lanoye about my new economic analysis since 1990 that would allow the tackling of the Great Stagflation since 1970 and the current crisis since 2007. Napoleoni and Lanoye may think that their interviewer Marcia Luyten is competent and that Dutch tv is open and interesting – certainly when the Dutch pay attention to what they have to say – but hence they will not observe how very closed the Dutch mind actually is.

My advice remains: boycott Holland till the censorship of economic science is lifted.

Listening to Theodorakis & Saleas, Weeping eyes
and Anna RF,  Weeping eyes

Some authors look at the links between Greece and the Near East in their ancient myths and literature. Apart from mythology this mainly concerns Homer with the Iliad and the Odyssee – but we should not exclude the philosophies from Pythagoras onward. For the Near East think about e.g. Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Bible (the Tenach ~ Old Testament).

Three authors caught my attention. I am no student of this realm and hesitate to read their books. However, I can roughly understand what is reported about this area of research, and then wonder what may be relevant when we consider what mathematics education can contribute to the education on Jesus and the origin of Christianity. Mathematics deals with more than numbers and space, it also deals with patterns.

These three authors are:

A comment by Ready on Louden seems to hold for all authors:

“What is more, Louden’s book continues to refine the Homeric comparative project as a whole in three ways. First, the relationship Louden detects between the Hebrew Bible and the Odyssey is for the most part genealogical, not historical. [ftnt] He imagines some sort of common source used by, not direct, purposeful contact between, Greek and Israelite cultures (see, e.g., 11 and 121). But finding numerous and close connections between the Odyssey and Genesis, Louden hypothesizes “that the Odyssey, in some form, served as a model for individual parts of Genesis (particularly the myth of Joseph)” (324). Indeed—and this is the point I wish to stress—Louden reminds us that the transmission of motifs and tales was not solely westward: “Greek myth should be seen in a dialogic relation with Near Eastern myth, with influence running in both directions, during several different eras” (12). As another example of how Louden notes the possibility of movement eastward from Greece, I cite his speculation on a Greek origin for stories about a man wrestling a god (see 121). I hasten to add, however, that, although he ponders the matter in the book’s Conclusion, Louden is not really concerned with the actual mechanisms of transmission. His exercise is a heuristic one: “the main reason I adduce OT myths is because their parallels provide a tool for our understanding and interpretation of Homeric epic” (11). Second, Louden reaffirms the value of comparing Homeric epic with non-epic literature from the ancient Near East. After all, the Hebrew Bible may contain elements associated with epic or even epic material but is not itself epic. Nonetheless, comparatists need not fear connecting the text with Homeric epic. If we insist on comparing Homeric poetry only with that which we precariously define as epic, we shall deny ourselves access to a wealth of useful data. Third, I return to a point mentioned above. Louden consistently notes when different versions of the same episode, myth, or story pattern do different things (see, e.g., 176). This flexibility in his analytical program is most welcome, for the comparatist should delve into the discrepancies along with the convergences.” (Jonathan L. Ready in this review of Louden)

A question on the Zodiac

The Zodiac is one crowning achievement of neolithical times and early history. Because of lack of cameras and lack of writing, early observations were couched in narratives. Such narratives would discuss gods and goddesses. For some, the narratives would start lives of their own. One question that arises is how the Zodiac relates to these ancient tales, like Gilgamesh or the travels by Odysseus. In my book The simple mathematics of Jesus I pointed to the use of the Zodiac as some kind of a map for the New Testament. I also observed that the NT ~ OT. (See some reasons to summarize the OT into the NT.) Hence, if OT ~ Homer then we may surmise that the Zodiac would also be relevant for understanding the Odyssee.

This argument holds in more cases. A criticism on Macdonald is that passages in Mark refer to passages in the OT, so that Macdonald is erroneous in linking Mark to Homer. However, when the OT is also based upon Homer, then the link could still be correct. The only inference that would change is that Mark might be less Hellenizing than Macdonald suggests.

A surprise on Plato’s cave

I was much surprised by this:

“And the great Hellenistic thinker, Plato, composed a tale that has epitomized the best of Hellenistic values and Western values since. His allegory of the cave tells us how a would-be saviour of a people will do all he can out of compassion to rescue others. But at the same time those he loves and would save will not recognize him or his claims. They will even scoff at him, and even eventually seek to kill him if they ever have the chance.

This is the essence of the Gospel message about the nature, reception and fate of Jesus. Jesus is very much the classic Hellenistic (cum Roman) hero of the gentiles. He is like Achilles and like the saviour in the parable of the Cave.” (Neil Godfrey, vridar.org, 2011-03-17)

LXX and rabbits

A standard notion is that Ptolemy Soter (367-283 BC) introduced the syncretic god Serapis to unify the beliefs of his Greek soldiers and his Egyptian subjects. A hypothesis by Russell Gmirkin is that also the Septuagint was a deliberate creation and no mere translation of what already existed in completion – see this discussion at vridar.org. An argument is that Ptolemy’s actual name was Lagos – Rabbit – and that there is no explicit mention of rabbits in the Septuagint. The latter might however also be accomplished by mere editing, so we would want to consider more arguments.

A major problem is that the OT assigns full power to the priests in Jerusalem, and it is not clear why Ptolemy would create such an OT, and why he didn’t want full power to the king, who would he himself.

It depends however upon the period. The Ptolemies and Seleucids would battle about Palestine. In the period from Alexander till the arrival of the Romans, Palestine changed hands five times. Perhaps some Ptolemaic ruler wished for an independent Palestine like a buffer state ?

It is not clear whether Godfrey develops this argument himself or copies it from Gmirkin, but check the text at vridar.org for the clou:

“Rather, one only has evidence as late as ca. 400 BCE or what Wellhausen called “Oral Torah,” that is, an authority vested in the Jerusalem priesthood rather than in a written code of laws.” 

“But there is one detail Aristobulus gives us that may be a more certain clue to the date the Septuagint was composed. In the fictional Letter to Aristeas (recall that Gmirkin believes this to have been written by Aristobulus) he tells us that the Septuagint was written at the time Arsinoe II was the wife of Ptolemy II. Though this datum is in a fictional letter, it is nonetheless true that this Arsinoe, who was the full sister of Ptolemy II, did marry her brother (according to Egyptian royal custom) some time between 279 and 273 BCE. She died in July 269 BCE.” (Neil Godfrey, vridar.org, 2012-12-30)

Elsewhere we read:

“These documents tell us of Palestine under the rule of Ptolemy 11 [sic] Philadelphus (283‑246 B.C.E.). The country was often beset by Seleucid attacks and Bedouin incur­sions. Ptolemaic military units were stationed throughout Pal­estine, and many Greek cities were established.” (MyJewishLearning.com, Palestine in the Hellinistic Age)

Thus, if we concur with the notion that the Torah (Pentateuch) was written around 270 BC then Ptolemy II had control over Palestine, and:

  • either wanted to turn Palestine into a buffer state under control of Jerusalem
  • or overlooked the possibility of taking control (by creating a suitable syncretic text)
  • or did create a syncretic text – so that the original oral tradition “was much worse”.
With all this Hellenizing, Socrates (ca. 469-499 BC) can be Jesus too

All this connects with an insight that I easily recalled from a course in philosophy in 1973:

“If one only regards the little that we know about Socrates really for certain, one would be inclined to ask: How is it possible that such a man, although he was a personality with a deep moral nature, and who died for his convictions, whose proper philosophy however is hardly seizable, has had such an immeasurable influence? One would point out that the comparison of the death of a martyr by Socrates with that of Christ and those of the earliest christian martyrs – which the texts of earliest Christianity indeed point out – have sustained a passionate memory of Socrates. But the real answer rather must be, that the impact of Socrates resides in his entirely exceptional personality, which can be humanly very close to us even after more than twenty centuries, rather than on what he taught. With him, namely, something entered into the history of mankind, what hence has become an ever deeper working inner force: the unwavering, self-sustaining, autonomous moral personality. This is the ‘Socratic Gospel’ of the internally free human, who does good only for the good.” (Hans Joachim Störig, “Geschiedenis van de filosofie”, part 1, p143, Prisma 409)

Thus, when we consider the creation of a syncretic gospel that had to combine both Judaism and Greek thought, then the authors may well have been tempted to take Socrates as the most powerful story available, and put a personage like him in the lands of Palestine.

Both Socrates and Jesus were convicted by a trial. The idea of a court trial that judges on the hero is ancient enough: compare the Osiris myth.

The best book on the trial is likely by I.F. Stone (1907-1989). Beware of hero worship however, not only w.r.t. Jesus but also w.r.t. Störig on Socrates:

“Actually, in spite of the journalistic pose, [Stone] is in Greece on a mission, having had a clear view of what he wants to do before he went. He wants to cleanse Athens of the Socratic blood guilt. Athens is a tragic protagonist, having itself violated what it holds most dear, its sacred principle of free speech. Socrates and his propagandists, Plato and Xenophon, succeeded in making Athens look bad to all later times. Socrates poses as the disinterested seeker for the truth, the man trying to turn from the darkness of the cave to the light of the sun, brought down by the prejudice of the city. Stone turns this around: Athens sought the truth and was tricked by the duplicitous Socrates. He really did engage in a conspiracy to discredit democratic openness and succeeded in getting Athens to betray itself. Lesson: philosophic detachment is inauthentic, a snare and a delusion. The thinker must be a participant in the progressive struggle of the people against the dark forces of reaction. History is the triumph of reason; distancing oneself from it in order to be reasonable is unreasonable and merely disguises old class interests. The true philosopher is éngage or committed. Thus Stone is Socrates’ accuser, the voice of Athens now become fully self-conscious and philosophic.” (Allan Bloom, review of I.F. Stone on Socrates, 1988)

I.F. Stone 1988

I.F. Stone 1988

Addendum April 8:

(1) While the Church destroyed documents with alternative views, or stopped others from copying them, the same has been done in philosophy by followers of Plato, see Michel Onfray, Les sagesses antiques

(2) In religion, there is the distinction between the theology and the daily practice (mass, births, weddings, funerals). My essay SMOJ suggests that Plato’s philosophy didn’t develop into a religion since he forgot to develop a liturgy and to train priests who would do the rituals. It may however well be that Plato did develop such a religion, namely what became known as Christianity.

Listening to Yes – Close to the Edge

 

On occasion, circumcision can be a good medical procedure, like an appendicitis. Standard circumcision of baby boys, however, as happens in hospitals in the USA or Jewish “feasts” (a party except for the baby involved), is a sick barbaric custom. It is used by a priesthood to separate their flock from others and emphasize an “us against them” mental frame.

Medical Doctors should explain parents that circumcision is not necessary and much cheaper in terms of medical bills. Rabbi’s should explain their Jewish flock that there is no need for circumcision but that donations are accepted for a nice speech. If rabbi’s have a hang-up against baptising a baby since this looks too Christian and if they really want to see blood, then they might consider making a cut in their own body.

Psychology tells that people tend to rationalise their condition. There is a mental need to accept your body and situation. Rich people think that they deserve their wealth while it may be a fluke of nature. Poor people may tend to accept their poverty since it may make them more miserable to think otherwise. Circumcised men will not demand severance pay from their parents but may start feeling proud of being part of a “great tradition” – and then circumcise their own boys. The “us against them” mental frame is very powerful and very stable.

Banning circumcision is no good idea. The custom and mental frame are too strong and believers will go underground, and the custom might even get the appeal of resistance against the nanny state. Matter of fact and common sense and fairness are the key words.

The “us against them” mental frame might contribute to a nuclear conflict in the Middle East. Potentially the real causes are land and water, or in a good German word Lebensraum. But such issues are generally solved by mere economics. When people can work in peace and trade the proceeds then prosperity multiplies. Such an outcome apparently is not in the interest of politicians, priests and the so-called “scientists” who advise these. The real problem is not Lebensraum but mental dishonesty. See the earlier discussion of the high priests of high treason.

Thinking about the nuclear war to eliminate circumcision causes me to look at four websites.

But let us first observe that the Bible is dangerous Literature.

Circumcision (Central Asia 1870s) (Source: Wikipedia commons)

Circumcision (Central Asia 1870s) (Source: Wikipedia commons)

The Bible is dangerous Literature

The logic is as follows:

The NT is dangerous Literature.
The NT is a summary of the OT.
Thus also the OT is dangerous Literature.

Let us consider the NT, and then Acts 5.30 in both CEV, KJV (that generally follows a Hebrew translation of the original Greek) and original Greek.

“You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life” (Acts 5.30 CEV)

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree (Acts 5.30 KJV)

“ὁ θεὸς τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν ἤγειρεν Ἰησοῦν ὃν ὑμεῖς διεχειρίσασθε κρεμάσαντες ἐπὶ ξύλου (Acts 5.30 NA28, German Bible Society)

One may check also the various Biblehub versions with “nailing to a cross” versus “hanged on a tree”, or the stepwise translation of the original Greek with only that tree and no nails.

The best interpretation of the situation is:

  • Many translators agree that it should be “nailing to a cross”. They are embarrassed by the original Greek “hanged on a tree”, and repair the error – disinforming readers about what the true text is.
  • The embarrassment is that – certainly in Acts, long after the event – it should be a mantra that Christ was nailed to a cross, so that “hanged on a tree” is incomprehensible.
  • The embarrassment is that “hanged on a tree” is comprehensible as an earlier version of the story, taken from conventional myths about dying and rising (fertility) gods who are hung on trees (or trees themselves) – check for example the Roman Hilaria (Spring festival) – so that the original editors of the Acts apparently forgot this passage when they switched to using the cross to make it a Roman punishment.
  • The verse illuminates that the NT is religious literature and no report about true events.
  • The NT is not “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” but dangerous literature. It is a deliberate composition of narrative, propaganda and theological argumentation. The NT follows the poetic rule “to tell lies to tell the truth” – but users should beware of the dangers of the passions that are invoked.

An alternative interpretation is that the editors (“Luke”) only recorded Simon Peter’s words from memory by eye-witnesses, and that some details got lost in transmission, or that Simon Peter really used poetic liberty to evade the tiresome mantra. People who believe this may also think that circumcision is a good idea because Christ was circumcised too.

I came upon Acts 5.30 from re-reading Lena Einhorn’s paper on the time shift hypothesis, in which she also discusses who Simon Peter might be. Check pages 21-24 for the story around Acts 5.30.

Stuart G. Waugh on the Kitos War and Marcion

Stuart G. Waugh has a weblog Post Kitos War. His work on Marcion is referred to with interest by Hermann Detering’s website.  Waugh on his part refers to Detering again.

In an earlier weblog text, we found that:

  • The Einhorn (2006, 2012) and Eisenman (2006) time shift hypothesis holds that real events around 70 AD are projected onto fictitious “Biblical events” around 30 AD.
  • Earlier there were Ralph Ellis (1998) and Hermann Detering (2000). The latter writes: “the only genuinely reliable point of reference is the fact that the Synoptic Gospels look back to the destruction of Jerusalem and consequently must have been written after the year 70.” (p162)
  • Waugh wonders about the relevance of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in AD 132-136 but points more decisively to the Kitos War in AD 115-117 and the direct threat to Alexandria.
  • We also see a Basic Passion Story of around 41-44 AD.
  • The flexible time shift hypothesis is that there are layers of editing, so that indeed more time frames may be involved. The core would still be the (E & E) time shift hypothesis since the destruction of Jerusalem en Temple is such a dramatic event.

Waugh has also some observations on circumcision:

“The inescapable conclusion is that Historia Augusta is simply wrong. There was no ban, but a myth developed in Christian circles by the middle of the 4th century that Hadrian had imposed such an edict, perhaps from confusion his banning of castrating slaves combined with Antoninus’ ruling to allowing Jews to circumcise in the years after Bar Kokhba. [8] And no doubt this view derived from the Maccabees and the association of Hadrian’s policies with those of Antiochus; to the point of  even claiming he thought himself the reincarnation of Antiochus. But this myth, or at least the confusion of the era, does appear in Paul’s letters.” (Stuart Waugh, July 15 2013)

Waugh refers to an eclips around AD 118 that might be relevant for Marcion’s Paul, with a youtube series by Michael Xoroaster.

“What is most interesting to me in the series was the use of NASA data to show the night sky on the night of the two eclipses, and the positions of the stars and planets. I must admit it completely changed my view of what is meant in the New Testament by the very word revelation. (…) Was Paul’s revelation an astrological one?” (Stuart Waugh, June 27 2013)

See more on the AD 118 eclipse.

Richard Edmondson on Marcion

Richard Edmondson describes himself as: “I am a novelist, poet, journalist, and peace activist. My latest book is The Memoirs of Saint John: No Greater Love, a novel about the life of Christ as told from the perspective of John the son of Zebedee, the youngest of the twelve disciples.” This kind of religious novel is confusing, since it introduces more noise into a subject that already is rather noisy.

More relevant is his work as a journalist / commentator.  Whatever Edmondson’s political points of view and writing of religious fiction, I found his journalistic discussion of the role of Marcion on the creation of the NT and the abolition of the OT rather nice.

See his text Chuck the Old Testament? (February 17 2014).

This discussion must be seen in the context of our earlier exposition that Simon Magus was a real heretic. The gnostic / docetic version of Christianity lost from the butchershop religion with a real suffering Jesus in the flesh. What drives history here is the logic of the theological argument.

In AD 100, Judaism did not accept this theological argument. They did not believe in the existence of Jesus anyway, so his supposed death had no value.

Perhaps now though, in 2015, Israelites might accept the argument that the OT is religious fiction, just like the NT is. You are chosen by fiction, great.

Edmondson referring to Robert Parry

Edmondson explains his weblog as follows:

“In this blog much of my focus is on the Middle East, particularly the occupation of Palestine and events as they are now playing out in Syria. While I am a Christian, I am not a Christian Zionist. The founding of Israel in 1948 was not the fulfillment of God’s prophecy Christian Zionists believe it to be (apartheid and endless occupation are not part of the divine plan), but if you read the second chapter of II Thessalonians you will notice Saint Paul foretelling the coming of a “powerful delusion”–and certainly Israel and its supporters in the mainstream media, to the extent that Paul’s prediction applies here, have practiced the art of deception to a rather stunning degree.” (Richard Edmondson, About, March 16 2015)

Edmondson holds that the USA isn’t critical enough on Israel, likely for fear of sounding anti-semitic. Here is an example of his protest against propaganda for a war with Russia.

There is a useful reference to this article by Robert Parry of March 11 2015 on such war propaganda.

“Robert Parry (born June 24, 1949) is an American investigative journalist best known for his role in covering the Iran-Contra affair for the Associated Press (AP) and Newsweek, including breaking the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal in 1985. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984. He has been the editor of Consortium News since 1995.” ( Wikipedia on Parry March 16 2015 – not as a source but as a portal)

The Christian Solution ?

Looking on the internet for this kind of view that struggles with propaganda and psychological framing e.g. about anti-semitism, we also find The Christian Solution. The nice element of this TCS website is that the author looks for constitutional reform, and suggests that the USA devolves into more power for the States. This is an issue that we can discuss in Political Economy.

However, the author holds that Christianity is more peaceful than Judaism or Islam. This is a dubious claim, both historically but also theologically since Jesus was both priest and warrior. The view neglects the information that the Bible is dangerous Literature. Who choses this position quickly falls in the “us against them” trap. The author claims – but the claim is actually rather defensive:

“Truth is that this website is neither anti-Semitic nor religiously fanatical. This website is merely reporting what is not being reporting. It is re-slanting, in the opposite direction, that which has already been slanted away from the Jews by the media-Scribe monopoly. (…)  They can call me anti-Semitic. Fair enough. And, I will call most of their leaders Satanic Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and media-Scribes. I will call them anti-Christian and Jesus-deniers.
You see, I think the average Jew is neither a Neo-con Jew nor an ultra-communist leftist Jew. I think they are just average people like anyone else. Same as not all black men are Louis Farrakhans and not all black women are Maya Angelous. And if you get my drift, not all Germans were like Hitler.” (website The Christian Solution)

Yes, we reach the point that Hitler is mentioned. The TCS term solution remains awkward in the context of the Endlösung. Check youtube on Fawlty Towers, Don’t Mention The War.

Fawlty Towers, "Don't Mention The War" (Source: BBC screenshot)

Fawlty Towers, “Don’t Mention The War” (Source: BBC screenshot)

A concluding suggestion

My suggestion is to first deconstruct Christianity, and only later look at Judaism and Islam. Europe and the USA have democracies with professional education and a free press. They are also historically mostly Christian and should be able to overcome the religious disinformation from the past. A more enlightened and prosperous Western society should be a beacon for the rest of world.

The risk of a nuclear war in the Middle East rises. We might see it as a way to eliminate circumcision. It would be wiser to eliminate circumcision by better education and a free press, and thereby reduce the “us against them” mental frame that increases this risk of nuclear war.

For the relevance for education, see here.

Listening to Thomas TallisSpem In Alium
and this playlist

 The best quote by Terry Pratchett may well be:

“I would like to die peacefully with Thomas Tallis on my iPod before the disease takes me over,” he continued, “and I hope that will not be for quite some time to come, because if I knew that I could die at any time I wanted, then suddenly every day would be as ­precious as a million pounds. If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice.” (Terry Pratchett, quoted by Lea & Davies in the Guardian , March 12 2015 – see also this obituary by Priest)

 

Terry Pratchett 2012, photo by (c) Luigi Novi, see the licence

Terry Pratchett 2012, photo by (c) Luigi Novi / wikimedia commons, see the licence statement at wikipedia

I saw Pratchett only once, around 1985, at a SF Con in the Atlanta Hotel in Rotterdam – organised by NCSF and Holland SF. The Colour of Magic had been published and it was obvious that he was a marvelous author. The convention was mostly in Dutch and he spent most time on his laptop – and most fans dared not interfere afraid of interrupting the flow of creation. I had taken along young X – whom I could later introduce to Pratchett’s work, who remembered and then appreciated him much too. Later, when Z got into the SF reading stage, Pratchett’s books became something precious to share too.

I discovered two ideas in Pratchett’s novels that I had thought about myself too – and thus zillions of others I hadn’t. The one is how dragons can fly even while being too heavy to fly. This is by micro teleportation. For, once you accept the idea of teleportation, then you can apply it everywhere, and why shouldn’t dragons use it to move through the sky atom by atom ? The other notion is that a god is born as a tiny idea and grows by acquiring followers. No doubt others will have thought about this latter notion too but I felt some satisfaction that I had done so before reading Pratchett. Whenever I notice a silly idea growing in attention I tend to think: “Oh, there is yet again another little god” – and I also think of my independent agreement with Pratchett on this.

The Science of Discworld has already received attention by Pratchett in collaboration with mathematician Ian Stewart and biologist Jack Cohen. It is difficult to determine whether the magic and religion has received similar attention. Even for a fan it is quite a task to keep up with some 70 of Pratchett’s works and the commentaries. I now notice a book on The Folklore of Discworld but that need not be the same as what I intend here.

Frazer, The Golden Bough (1922, 1978), makes these distinctions, that can usefully be put into a table.  Magic is close to science, since it is based upon laws, like those of similarity and contagion. Magic is close to religion since there are spells and prayer. Magic itself is an odd mixture of science and religion. Most magical, in the view of Pratchett, is the use of words, that may effect an entire change of perspective. One example are the words printed on pieces of paper called money.

Personal god

Magic

Science

Based upon laws ?

no

yes

yes

Human influence ?

pray, sacrifice

spells, rituals

no, only application

In Discworld there is Death with some persona but with a curious mythology – and even a granddaughter. Chaos is represented by accountants who try to turn human life into maximal entropy. One key notion about Discworld is that it has been created by superior aliens: and after creating Discworld they hid themselves in the subconsciousnesses of their created human beings. We can only guess what their purpose was. This is a tiny idea that may grow into a full religion.