Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Johnnies' Demands

Let us consider some of the demands of the Johannine demonstrators in Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos (New York, 1995, pp. 148-149):

(i) School courses in Gnostic philosophy and history. No, church and state should be separate.

(ii) Total income equalisation. Impossible in a market economy where commodities, including labour power, are sold at their value and trained labour power has a higher value.

(iii) The phasing out of materialism, hypocrisy and injustice. This cannot be legislated.

(iv) World peace and universal disarmament. This cannot be effected by any single government - but the present government could propose an international conference with these objectives.

(v) End the occupation of formerly hostile countries and spend the money on social uplift at home. Why not also spend it on social uplift in the formerly occupied countries?

(vi) Amnesty for rioters. To comment on this, we would need to know more about the circumstances of the riots. 

15 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Just a few comments about some of your numbered points.

    On number, I agree if you mean GOV'T owned schools. But the Johannines would have every right to teach their religion (no matter how repulsives I found it) in schools THEY owned. I hope you recall my comments about how Barack Obama's attack on our First Amendment has caused much anger in the US precisely because he was attacking privately owned religious institutions.

    Your point V, as we have found out, our attempts to implant the ideas and institutions of an open society and state in Iraq and Afghanistan is mixed at best. Esp. in the latter. Because Islam simply does not have at least some of the shared ideas Germany and even Japan had with us during their occupation after WW II.

    The rest I basically agree with.

    Sean

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  2. Personally, I think it is wrong for parents and private schools to indoctrinate children. I deeply resent the Jesuit boast that, given the child from the age of 7, they can answer for the beliefs of the man. I had 7 years of Jesuit indoctrination and they cannot answer for my beliefs. I find more truth about the human condition in other traditions. My daughter is grateful that I did not have her indoctrinated and I am convinced from my own experience and from my knowledge of her that it could only have harmed her. She thinks for herself and agrees with me sometimes but not always. HOWEVER, I think it would be very wrong for a secularist state to ban Christian/Jewish/Muslim etc schools. Repression and persecution can only make a bad situation worse and, of course, would strengthen the beliefs in question. If the British government in its folly were to ban the wearing of kilts, then probably the entire male population of Scotland would march down the Motorway suitably attired in their traditional tartans!

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  3. On the Johannine's demands, I think they did mean they wanted their esotericism in state schools?

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  4. Hi, Paul!

    Personally, I do not think it's wrong for parents and the teachers they choose to raise and educate their children in the faith or philosophy they believe true. Even if that faith is one for which I have only the utmost contempt, such as Islam. After all, there should be nothing to prevent such children from abandoning a faith they did not like. Granted, you would need the kind of open society which descended from Classical and Medieval philosophy and Christianty that we see in the West at its best.

    If the Johannines wanted their form of Gnostic pseudo Christianity taught at public expense in schools run by local gov'ts, then I would oppose that.

    Sean

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  5. Islam is not all bad. Lots of Muslims participate in secular society alongside everyone else. Bad stuff in their tradition, of course, but I think that's true of most traditions that old.

    When Aileen was growing up, I told her what I thought when asked but also told her she might think otherwise when she had learned more. She respects her grandmother's Catholicism, our neighbours' Islam and my meditation. For a while, when younger, she attended a Baptist Church Club with a friend so could have converted to Christianity. Any baby could have been taken at birth and brought up in anything so people do need to question as they grow up. ("Why should I assume I just happen to have been brought up in the one true belief?") I meet young Mormon missionaries who (I think) are unable to think outside their indoctrination. If I question God's existence, they continue to speak as if acceptance of divine existence were common ground between us...Dialogue is impossible.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      But to me it does not matter if some Muslims are decent people. I was talking about Muslim IDEAS or beliefs, which I distinguish from persons.

      From a political POV, my chief objection to Islam is it's theocratic, quasi totalitarian nature.

      The best single book I ever read about Islam was Harry Austryn Wolfson's THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE KALAM. Far too briefly, it's a study of how the early Muslims reacted to contact with Classical and Christian thought. And rejected it. Fair warning, it's not a "popular" book. I mean, not simple to read.

      Sean

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  6. But other Muslims: made advances in the sciences; translated Greek philosophers and transmitted them back to Medieval Europe; transmitted to us the so-called "Arabic" numerals that had really come from India.

    I don't think any world religion is either homogeneous or unchanging. I attended a meeting where a young Muslim said, "The Creator has told us how to run society so why do we need elections?" and a young imam responded vigorously that it is their duty to participate fully in civil society. He dismissed the "stupid people" who he saw as behind that theocratic idea.

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  7. Hi, Paul!

    Granted, what you said. But that phase of Muslim history was over by about 1050. And has no relevance for today.

    And I don't have much hope the young man you mentioned speaks for many Muslims. Mostly those who live in Western nations. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt is a very bad sign.

    Sean

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  8. Fantasy is always relevant to life. Discussing the Johannines has led to discussing Islam. I don't think the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is monolithic but rather that it includes diverse elements of opposition to the Generals.

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  9. Hi, Paul!

    But you are missing a point I was not clear about. I PREFER the Egyptian generals to the Mohammedan fanatics of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bad as the generals MAY be, they are still preferable to fanatics whose ideology makes them far more dangerous than a merely cynical or corrupt man.

    And, as you recall, Poul Anderson would agree with me!

    Sean

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  10. I have learned to respect PA's views more and more though not always to agree with them. I think continued rule by generals = continued repression whereas replacement of generals by Brotherhood = conflict between Brotherhood members who want to impose a new repression and Brotherhood supporters who want liberalisation. Therefore, latter is the way forward. I think.

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  11. Hi, Paul!

    Oh, certainly! Long lasting rule by military juntas is not good for any country. Even if, sometimes, military rule is better than any other likely alternative.

    And I don't agree there is any influential faction within the Muslim Brotherhood which is in any way inclined to favor Western notions of the limited state and open society. I fear I don't share whatever optimism you may have. We shall see which of us is right soon enough.

    Sean

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  12. We will see. The test is practice. But maybe not soon. Such struggles can be long drawn out.

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  13. I don't really mean factions within the Brotherhood so much as lots of other people in that society who maybe supported the Brotherhood electorally as an alternative to the generals but who really want equality, modernisation, freedom. That kind of movement is there as well but the question is how strong?

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  14. Hi, Paul!

    I agree. The power struggle going on in Egypt among the military, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the rather weak party favoring Western notions of freedom will most likely need years to be played out. Problem is, I don't think the last named group is very strong.

    Sean

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