Invalidation of the Worker – Part II (4.12.2017)

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My original article entitled The Invalidation of the Worker – A Study of Disability in Capitalist Society was published in October, 2013. It is logical to assume that as ‘Austerity’ has continued unabated, thousands of disabled who were alive to read it then, are nolonger with us now. The proliferation of articles that over-simplify and misrepresent ‘disability’ are common place within bourgeois society. Most miss the vital point of economic exclusion, and focus instead upon misguided notions of bourgeois individuality – making such puerile statements as ‘if only disabled people were viewed as individuals and not their disabilities’, or ‘disabled people should not be viewed as dysfunctional able-bodied’, and so on and so forth. It is not that there is no truth to statements such as these, but that this kind of narrative is entirely bourgeois in nature, and as such, does not address the central reality of economic exclusion. Why should a person with a disability be categorised as ‘disabled’, when ‘able-bodied’ people are only referred to in that manner, within a temporary discourse which distinguishes the non-disabled from the disabled (privileging the former and disempowering the latter). In reality this situation is a matter of Marxist-Leninist critique, and involves the exclusion of the disabled community not only from bourgeois society, but also from proletariat society. This discrimination manifests as economic and cultural impoverishment due to a permanent exclusion from the work-force. This has to be remedied as part of an ongoing Revolutionary struggle that rejects Trotskyism and fascism, and aims at the accomplishment of the ‘right to work’ in a suitable toiling environment. This means that the ‘right to work’ should be divorced from the immediate principle of blatant profit generation, and be redefined as an agency of psychological and physical self-development which is also a ‘Human Right’. All discrimination currently deployed by an indifferent bourgeois society should be immediately outlawed, and ‘new’ social, economic, political and cultural structures designed and put in place. Traditional unions should implement anti-discriminatory policies to tackle negative attitudes toward the disabled workers, held within the minds of their able-bodied membership. Finally, tha small number of disabled people who do work must be understood to be ‘privileged’ and something of a bourgeois ‘fetish’ that has no bearing on the experience of the majority of disabled people.

Any assessment of disability is incomplete, if it does not acknowledgement the total and permanent exclusion of people with disabilities from the job market, and therefore from the equal and fair ‘right’ to gain ‘dignity’ and ‘self-respect’ through participation in the process of earning a living and financially caring for themselves and a family, etc. The situation surrounding disability is made so opaque within the economies of the developed West, that whatever enquiry is made into the matter, it is invariably made by the able-bodied, and riddled with the very discriminative thinking that causes the problem in the first place. Many able-bodied people are so illiterate when it comes to discussing disability that they are not even aware that a problem exists, or hold prejudicial viewpoints to explain why disabled people are lacking in their particular work environments. This type of discrimination cuts through all classes and ethnic groupings, and possesses the potential to ‘unite’ disabled people of both genders, from incredibly varied backgrounds, but the problem exists of disabled people being condemned to a state of isolated individualism, where society forces them to sit outside of mainstream life, viewing themselves as somehow deficient and unworthy of inclusion. Another issue is that the term ‘disability’ includes a vast array of psychological and physical problems, that can stem from severe cognitive and behavioural issues, to an individual having poor eye-sight, or deafness in one ear, for example.

Unionization is lacking amongst disabled people in general (due to the hyper-individualism they are forced to endure), and because amongst certain strands of the disabled intelligentsia (evident online) there exists those who reject any notion of leftwing politics, and espouse a rightwing political rhetoric. This rhetoric, aligning itself with the far-right, explains the tens of thousands of disability deaths relating to the Tory (and LibDems) ‘Austerity’ measures since 2010, as arising from the presence of ‘migrants’ in the UK. This distorted and fascistic thinking imagines that benefits and medical services have been withdrawn from the disability community and re-diverted to migrant communities, and suggests that disabled people should ‘unite’ with the far-right and participate in attacks upon these migrant communities. The fact that the political far-right routinely targets the disabled community appears to be lost on these kind of mistaken individuals. Since I wrote ‘Invalidation of the Workers’ in 2013, the UK has been found Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity (2016) by the United Nations for the deaths of at least 10,000 disabled people (due to the sudden withdrawal of benefits, social services and medical treatment). The UN Report noted that the behaviour of the British press was reminiscent to that of the Hitlerite media operating in 1930’s Berlin, for its vicious rhetorical attack upon the disabled community, and for its unquestioning support of destructive Tory and LibDems policy. In a recent report, Oxford University has linked ‘Austerity’ to the deaths of 30,000 people in the UK, whilst an article in the rightwing Metro newspaper suggests the real figure is nearer 200,000.

Disabled people are in reality a ‘collective’ that has been disempowered and disenfranchised for centuries. Although they are made to exist excluded from the work-force and in a fabricated state of psychological and physical isolation, they cannot be ‘forced’ into a work-place that does not exist to accept them, as the work-place of the able-bodied is default set to treat the disabled worker as a liability to the firm, and a potential loss in earning power and profitability. It is this type of fascistic thinking that interprets a disabled human-being inhabiting a wheel-chair as being a ‘fire hazard’ and an ‘offense’ under Health and Safety legislation. This is in the same category of institutional discrimination that includes anti-discrimination legislation that is ‘voluntary’ to uphold. People with disabilities require ‘civil rights’ legislation – the kind promised by Tony Blair in 1997 prior to his reneging – and instead beginning the modern era of political attacks upon the disability community. It is only through a substantial change in the law that the permanent barriers to people with disabilities entering the work-force will be removed. Simply stopping benefits does not solve the problem, but it does lead to immense levels of poverty, starvation and suicide.

Mei-An’s Graduation from Red Class (10.7.2017)

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In the scorching sunshine – the parents of around 30 children queued-up outside the ‘Red Gate’ that leads to ‘Red Class’ of the Reception Year. It only seems like yesterday that we all took our 4 year old children to look round the school in Cheam – but today, with nearly one academic year completed, all the children have turned ‘5’ and have developed beyond recognition! Cheam Park Farm is an ‘academy’ today, but unlike most other academies in different parts of the UK, it has retained its earlier educational efficiency. Hopefully, in the future, these academies will revert to being ‘Schools’ under full ‘State’ control and out of the hands of the private businesses that currently ‘monetarise’ our children’s education. However, the staff at Cheam Park Farm have been disciplined but compassionate, and as a consequence, my 5 year old daughter – Mei-An – can now read and write, hold civilised conversations, and apply herself to problem solving and working-out basic science. As both myself and Gee – my partner – are Socialists, we are determined that our children will grow-up ‘free’ of tyranny and oppression, be good human-beings, and progress science and society!

Mei-An Grad cert

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Kirkaldy Testing Museum – London (2.7.2017)

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Kirkaldy Testing Museum

We arrived on the Tube – one form of modern technology – as a means to take our children to the Kirkaldy Testing Museum in Southwark, London. This is the home of a magnificent and still functioning Victorian era, scientific measuring machine, which was designed by Scotsman David Kirkaldy (1820-1897) and eventually stationed in a purpose-built London factory (the site of the museum today). In fact, Kirkaldy entitled his device ‘Universal Testing Machine’ (weighing 116 tons), which although premised upon leverage, pulleys and weights, was actually water-powered.  Any substance could be put under a pulling or pushing pressure to see how much poundage it could take before ‘snapping’. In the case of wrought iron, this was very important for buildings, bridges and other structures that were reliant upon iron -girders for their stability and correct functionality.  One of the volunteers – Roz Currie – helped Mei-An use a similar but much smaller machine (made in 1926) which usually tested the strength of parachute cords. Mei-An tested a piece of nylon-type string used to wrap packages sent through the post. the string snapped at 200 lbs of pressure! David Kirkaldy’s motto was: ‘Fact not opinion.’

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Gary Miles – Where Are You?

Dear Gary

I last saw you in Hereford probably about 1987 – at the college there.  You wrote me a letter not long after – but did not include a return address!  If you find this note, remember that we spent time in education together in Reigate exploring life.

Best Wishes

Adrian

Interpreting Ch’an – Basic Errors in Western Discourse

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When a body of knowledge leaves its mother-culture and permeates into unfamiliar and very different cultures, errors of interpretation and understanding are bound to happen, and should be expected.  Of course, such errors do not exist only within Western discourse, which has tended to filter all new and incoming information not only through a Judeo-Christian rubric, (supplemented by a capitalist, political bias from around the middle of the 20th century onwards), but is also observable within various aspects of Japanese Buddhist discourse, particularly in relation to the ‘Japanese’ interpretation of ‘Chinese’ Buddhist history.  Whereas the erroneous Western discourse may be attributed in-part to cultural and historical differences, the Japanese erroneous discourse is primarily one of the deliberate ‘distortion’ of Chinese culture and identity, particularly since the Meiji Restoration of 1868, which saw a resurgent ‘nationalist’ Japan attempt to distance itself from its obvious Chinese cultural influences and origination.  This situation has been compounded by the fact that Western scholarship has chosen to follow the apparently ‘modern’ scholarship of Japan, with regard to interpreting and understanding Chinese history and culture, whilst refusing to ‘engage’ with Chinese scholarship, either ‘traditional’ (pre-1949), or ‘contemporary’ (post-1949).  This has created a situation whereby ‘Chinese’ history and culture has been inadequately interpreted by one culture (i.e. the ‘West’), through the erroneous scholarship of another (i.e. ‘Japan’), which is compounded by the fact that neither the West nor Japan are willing to admit the errors they have made (and continue to make) with regard to interpreting and understanding Chinese history and culture, and fully engage with Chinese academia to rectify these errors.

It goes without saying that every distinct cultural grouping possesses the right for self-determination, and, of course, self-interpretation, but with regard to China’s own distinct historical and cultural identity, the West and Japan appear unwilling to apply this most ‘liberal’ and common-sense attribute.  Prior to WWII, China appeared ‘distant’ even to those colonial Europeans who lived there.  The Confucian-based education system was designed to exclude most Chinese people, and it certainly was not open to those non-Chinese who did not understand its ethos and functionality. Although a small number of Western scholars did attempt to engage this old style Chinese academia, for the majority of Europeans It appeared opaque and impenetrable.  Japan, by way of contrast, whilst pursuing a racist nationalist policy throughout Asia, was willing to modernise its institutions along Western lines, and that included reforming its academia away from that of Chinese dominated Confucianism.  Part of this drive for cultural independence from China was the whole-sale rejection of Chinese history and culture.  Japan quite literally ‘invented’ a new identity for itself, whilst mimicking the West culturally and militarily (a policy that would ironically lead it into a direct and disastrous confrontation with the West).  After Japan’s defeat in 1945 (caused in part by the dropping of two atomic bombs by the US), and the success of Chinese Communism in 1949, the US quickly reactivated Japanese nationalism, albeit operating in a new framework of enforced liberal democracy and rampant, US-style capitalism.  The US pursued this policy to create a Japanese buffer-zone between Communist China and the rest of Asia.  From that ‘Cold War’ point onward, the US would not allow any correction of either its own, or Japanese scholarship relating to China, and actively encouraged further misrepresentation and distortion.  The idea of this policy was to ‘conflate’ everything ‘Chinese’ with everything ‘Japanese’, so that the ordinary Westerner could not tell them apart, and had no independent access to Chinese academia to check the claims.  Although the internet has allowed for theoretical access to Chinese history from China, the obvious language barrier prevents the average Westerner from being able to engage directly with authentic Chinese culture without the aid of reliable translation.  However, more and more good quality translation is slowly becoming available about China in the West, and this is breaking-up the US-Japan monopoly upon interpreting Chinese history and culture.

The Agency of Disagreement

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Social media is primarily designed to share the world of visual imagery – but what does this mean?  For many it is merely the conveyance of photographs, paintings, pictures or written descriptions of objects or circumstance, whilst for others this process includes not only the outer texture of an object or an event, but also the ‘inner’ terrain of the mind when experiencing the outer object (i.e. the psychological and emotional response).  This tends to mean three ways of conveying (or communicating)  the world:

1) External description.

2) Internal description.

3) Integrated description.

As people are conditioned to think and react differently to exactly the same outer world, this means that an external object (or event) will be interpreted in a diverse and bewildering number of ways by different people.  Therefore a ‘tree’ for example, even if there is a general consensus that it is a ‘tree’, will be inwardly ‘experienced’ in a diverse manner.  Assuming the outer world is a sensory constant (in as much as for the time being it is always likely to be ‘there’) then it is obvious that it is the psychological and emotional responses of the inner person that is responsible for human creativity.  Ironically this dynamic process also ensures that where there is ‘creativity’ there will also be disagreement – as the agency of ‘disagreement’ appears to be the price humanity pays for being able to think for itself.  This being the case, conflict can be avoided by planning for it.  How an individual responds to the outer world is a matter of upbringing and conditioning, but the interesting point about this is that the concept of ‘conditioning’ is an ongoing process that take surprising twist and turns, even if at times many appear stuck in their ways.  The way to maintain peace is to be able to present ‘difference’ in a robust and convincing manner, so that those who do not like what you say (or do) are encouraged to seek-out why their inner world differs from your own.  This is an individual process of continuous inner and outer dialogue with the external world and inner psychological imprint of that world, as well as the learning process of sharing different viewpoints with others an having those viewpoints either validated or challenged in a constructive and progressive manner.  Education regarding the outer world, and an appreciation of the workings of the inner world are required if the average individual is to maximise the benefit of the human tendency toward the development and advancement of evolutionary knowledge.  If too much time is spent fighting over whose inner experiences are more valid than anyone else’s, then humanity will cease to progress.  There must be clarity of thought and the ability to acknowledge when the quality of thought has been improved through the agency of a difference of opinion.

 

‘Virgin Mary’ and the Ancient Chinese Art of the Missing Mother and Baby

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(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

‘The young baby is held firmly, and nurturing, caring eyes gaze over the child. The well-behaved baby occasionally suckles milk, and looks cutely into the distance.’

This painting creates a harmonious and peaceful atmosphere. Not only does this painting of the Virgin Mary depict here loving nature, but it also demonstrates the love between a mother and child. This is obvious from the praise that this painting continuously receives. Indeed, this picture is so valued that even copies and fakes exchange hands for remarkable amounts.

In China, particularly ancient China, there are very few depictions of mothers and their children. By way of contrast, there thousands upon thousands of ancient Chinese landscapes, flowers and birds, as well as masterful portraits – all of which has been heralded as the highest form of art! There are many reasons for this, but the primary reason is probably due to the low status of women and in ancient China – a valid subject that cannot be discussed here.

Although Chinese women tend and care for babies, their status is not taken seriously. Chinese women have been blamed historically for not producing sons, and have suffered social condemnation and have been cast aside! In modern Chinese society things are different, particularly now that the academic fields of the Humanities, and of Social Science, the subject of Women Studies is now taken seriously and has developed a substantial body of cultural and educational knowledge. This is an ongoing project that is considered a subject of ‘significant learning’. As a subject, it Is has much improved the cultural appreciation and status of women in China. Women’s issues have received more and more attention, although this has been a gradual process. However, this seems to a move from one ‘extreme’ to another, as there are very few similar studies associated with men. Is this sad? Answer: this is China, and this is Chinese culture! Below is included a picture of a Chinese painting of the ‘Virgin Mary’, which can e compared with the European painting above.

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Original Chinese Language Article

http://tc.chinawin.net/tech/history/article-a5e.html

《聖母瑪麗亞》與中國古代母子畫的缺失

“緊託嬰兒,慈祥的眼神細心凝視着成長中的寶寶,嬰兒則乖巧的吸吮着乳汁,不時地眼神向遠處張望”,畫面營造出一片安詳和睦的氣氛。一幅《聖母瑪麗亞》,不僅表現出時人對聖母的敬仰之情,也可看出時人對母子情的讚譽。從這幅名畫贗品之多、價格之昂,足見其價值所在!

中國,尤其是在中國古代,母子畫或者母嬰畫卻相對較少。相比之下,中國古代山水、花鳥、人物畫則傑作衆多,可謂登峰造極!此種情況,原因諸多,也可歸結於中國傳統文化所致,體現出中國古代婦女地位的低下,這裏不想多做探討。

地位不受重視,雖肩負撫育嬰兒、傳宗接代重任,卻遭受唾棄,甚至社會的譴責,實屬不該!到現今社會,人文社會科學領域,對婦女思想、文化、教育、生活等方面的研究甚多,婦女研究已成爲一門“顯學”,婦女地位也大加讚賞不斷提高,婦女問題亦受到了越來越多人的關注,這雖然是一個漸進過程,但已從一個“極端”走向另一個“極端”,而對男人研究少之又少,是悲否?答曰:這就是中國,這就是中國文化!下面是一幅中國人畫的“聖母瑪麗亞”,轉貼以作對比。

 

Review: Discovery Civilisation – Legends of the Russian Revolution – Cold War Rhetoric in Post-Soviet Times

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It is the duty of every worker to educate him or herself. Without access to ideologically sound education, the worker is destined to remain in the psychological and physical vacuum of a highly oppressive, destructive, and repetitive existence. Without access to good quality education, nothing can change for the worker, or the working class. Living in a bourgeois, capitalist society means that the ‘default’ setting for all education is that of the historical and philosophical justification of greed and profit accumulation. Implicit in this is a sustained and highly developed (and directed) hatred toward anything remotely ‘Socialist’, or indeed ‘Communist’, and this is particularly true of the history of the Soviet Union (1917-1991). In a secular society that has grown out of its Judeo-Christian past, a pious honesty has been replaced with the routine practice of ‘disinformation’, or to put it in plain language, the official sanction of institutional ‘lying’. Governmental news networks present what they consider to be the ‘news’ through a format that has more to do with effective advertising, than it does with any academic consideration of current events. The providing of news and education within a modern, capitalist, liberal, and supposedly democratic society, has become nothing more a sophisticated operation in the insurance of ‘thought control’ throughout its populace. Regardless of the actual facts of the matter, national governments, (controlled as they are purely by selfish bourgeois class interests), concoct versions of the truth that can be altered at a whim, and mixed and matched to suit a sudden change in current events, or directional shifts in popular mood and belief. The UK and the USA today, present an official news and educational face to the world that can only be described as ‘fictional’ in its rather ‘elastic’ relationship to reality. This relentless ‘Disney-fication’ of reality is designed to create a passive, receptive, and unquestioning docility in the mind of the average citizen. Within liberal democracies, an individual is considered ‘free’ as long as he or she does not dare to think ‘beyond’ or ‘through’ the official policy of the moment. All truth – to the bourgeoisie – mimics the bible they so admire and is considered ‘absolute’ – until circumstances changes that politically render each former ‘ultimate’ truth immediately obsolete, leaving it automatically abandoned as if it never existed! This curious blend of unquestioned religious theology and secular pragmatism, leads to bizarre statements such as the following ‘disclaimer’ (which accompanies the Discovery Civilisation DVD and magazine box-set entitled ‘Legends of the Russian Revolution’):

‘The views in this magazine are those of the author but they are general views only and readers are encouraged to consult the relevant and qualified specialist for individual advice in particular situations.’ (2013: Legends of the Russian Revolution’ Magazine: by Hilary Brown)

In other words, the information contained on the 4 DVD’s (just over 5 hours), and within the 82 page accompanying magazine, is not to be taken seriously, and must therefore be considered academically unsound! This is not surprising, as this particular box-set about the Russian Revolution has 2 discs dedicated to Lenin, and 1 disc each dedicated to Trotsky and Stalin. This is not an impartial or objective treatment of an important epoch in world history, but is rather an obvious rightwing attack not only upon established history, but also upon modern Russia. In an attempt to appear ‘international’ in its scope, this (American) Discovery Civilisation presentation has on its cover, the following description:

In Association with Russia Television and Radio’           

This post-Soviet Russian Broadcasting Corporation has provided very interesting historical film footage of the era, involving all the main characters concerned, together with what must be described as the strangest so-called Russian speaking ‘historical experts’ on the revolutionary period. The footage all seems ‘dated’, even that involving the ‘historians’, which raises the suspicions that the continuous anti-Soviet viewpoints they express are in fact ‘dissident’ opinions recorded outside of USSR at some earlier date, and presented here as ‘contemporary’. Whatever the case, the opening salvos in the documentaries, (presented in Russian dubbed over in Russian accented English), depict Lenin as a ‘mixed-race’, and highly dangerous individual who was hell-bent on gaining personal political power in Russia, regardless of the cost in human lives. This so-called ‘historical’ assessment is highly flawed and superimposed over film footage loosely relating to the topic at hand. The message is clear – Lenin was a clever lunatic who came to power due to a distinct set of historical accidents that he later packaged as ‘Marxist’ in nature – but which in reality had nothing to do with Scientific Socialism. The political assessment contained within this box-set does not go much deeper than this basic crudity. An attempt at credibility is attested by the fact that it seems that even Russian citizens – in the shape of the interviewed historians – resent Lenin’s presence and achievements upon the world stage.

The bourgeois hypocritical eulogising of religion is present in the form of the highly sympathetic treatment the Romanov imperial family receive. This family of parasitic aristocrats lived a life of opulence and luxury in a country where people routinely died of starvation, drought, disease, cold, and warfare, etc. The vast majority of the subjects of Csar Nicholas II could not read and write, and even if they managed to avoid the usual demeaning calamities associated with feudal existence, their life expectancy was low. The magazine author – Hilary Brown – presents the case that the Romanovs were nothing short of Christian saints living on earth, and the fate that befell them after the revolution (they were executed by Soviet forces as enemies of the state in 1918), nothing short of the influence of the devil on earth! Brown disturbingly dedicates an entire page to the fact she conveys, that in 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church decided to ‘canonise’ the former imperial family, and to finance the building of an ornate church on the land the family were executed. Brown also claims that the post-Soviet Russian government has formerly acknowledged that the Romanov’s were the victims of political persecution – which completely ignores the fact that before 1917, the Romanov’s were the source of all political persecution in Russia and beyond.

Brown demeans the Soviet dead during WWII as being between ‘15-20 million’, and in so doing removing around 10 million from the final reckoning. All this serves her demeaning policy toward the USSR quite well, as she depicts Joseph Stalin as a deranged mass-murderer who somehow managed to ‘save’ and ‘inspire’ a diverse Soviet Union in its fight against the Nazi German invasion. Despite the fact that the 30 million Soviet sacrifices saved Western Europe from defeat, very few pages are dedicated to Stalin – although Brown does manage to sneak-in a photograph of her rightwing hero Winston Church into the section on Stalin. Stalin’s obvious effectiveness as a coherent leader of the Soviet people is presented as yet another mark of his insanity. The impression is that Stalin – like Lenin before him – was an opportunist who simply took advantage of events that favoured his political ambitions. Trotsky is very much presented as a victim of the Soviet system, whereby his loyalty to Lenin was ultimately punished by Stalin with his exile, and in Brown’s opinion – eventual murder in Mexico. Trotsky – a major early influence in the revolution itself, presents Brown with something of a problem, as he contributed to so much anti-Soviet propaganda whilst living in the West, and yet was present at the inception of the USSR itself. Whilst presenting Trotsky as a victim of Soviet barbarity, Brown conveniently ignores the fact that Trotsky was quite happy to brutally put-down the Kronstadt rebellion in the USSR in 1921, whilst he voiced many of these rebel’s opinions during his exile, etc. Lastly, a strange diversion occurs in this box-set purportedly concerning the Russian Revolution, which can only be viewed as an example of clear ‘fetishism’ in the extreme, with the inclusion of the story of the Romanov’s association with the Christian mystic known as Rasputin. The only consistency here is that Brown clearly misrepresents the historicity of Rasputin as she does Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky. The endearing image that Brown tries to portray is that of a kindly Csar trying desperately to seek spiritual solace from any quarter he could. However, with the current anti-Russian racism (and pro-Ukrainian fascist support) sweeping across Europe and the USA, the point of this box-set seems obvious and clear. Near the completion of the magazine Brown lets the cat out of the bag as she reveals that the modern Russian leader Vladimir Putin – in her opinion – is nothing more than a contemporary incarnation of Joseph Stalin! The true nature of this box-set is perhaps revealed by a photograph of the former rightwing US President Ronald Reagan. This is not a good narrative and serves as a very bad influence for legitimate students of history. It is a clear bourgeois distortion and should be avoided.

 

People’s China Leads the World in the Development of Wisdom Studies

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(This article appeared in the New Worker – the newspaper of the New Communist Party of Britain [NCPB], no. 1779, dated 13.6.14, Pages 6-7)

In the 21st century, with the ever deepening process of globalisation and the development of information technology, human society is facing new and challenging problems. Due to the unprecedented complexity of these problems, a superior (and outstanding) wisdom is required. However, as the development of information is at its height, knowledge can be retrieved at anytime. The rapid development of science and technology has led to unprecedented material growth, and this inturn has led to an accelerated rate of development of education in modern society. There is now an urgent need to develop the subject of Wisdom Studies so that society can benefit fully from its presence.  

(Zhangjiagang Wisdom Studies Declaration – 2013)

The human brain, through its capacity to think, analyse, assess, and logically organise, has given birth to two great outpourings of the intellect, namely religion and secular science. The former is represented by a mixture of imagination and environmental observation, whilst the latter abandons a priori the requirement for imagination, and strictly limits itself purely to the observation of natural processes. Although now perceived as two very different entities, which of course they are, religion and science have shared, to a lesser or greater degree, the capacity to generate ‘wisdom’. The concept of generating wise thoughts is signified by the ability to produce optimum psychological functioning that simultaneously combines the observation of the environment, with specific inner cognitive processes. In the case of religion, the various phases of environmental change, such as the passing of the seasons, weather conditions, natural catastrophes, the cycle of life, and conflict, etc, are used to reinforce the inner generation of religiously significant imagery. Whereas in the case of modern science, the environment is not just passively observed by a human mind standing in awe of its presence, but is dynamically ‘measured’ and ‘understood’ by a mind that actively seeks to reduce and remove imagination from the empirical process of information gathering. Both religious systems and modern science signify the development of the human mind (and its capacity to be ‘wise’) at various stages of its cognitive evolution, but it is interesting to note that ‘wisdom’ as a distinct capacity, appears to have been a prominent biological and physical attribute of humanity generated through the constant environmental pressures with regards for the need to survive as a species.

When wisdom is interpreted in this manner, it becomes a perennial capacity that has accompanied human evolutionary development, but the origin of which most likely lies in humanity’s pre-human ancestry. As soon as a functioning brain is aware of the environment, (and its place within it), perception is transformed from subject-object dichotomy to a subject-object-other perspective. In other words, from a strictly two dimensional, instinctively governed existence, to a three dimensional awareness that is able to ‘think’ beyond, round, and through its otherwise powerful instinctive programming. This is wisdom as self-awareness. As a capacity of thought generation and thought organisation, wisdom has had the task of formulating contingent responses to inner and outer stimuli, that is information derived from the experience of psycho-emotional and psycho-physical states of being. Wisdom answers the question as to ‘what does this sensory information mean’? This is a continuous path of human evolution that has no end, as it is an unfolding process of the continuous refinement of the observation and understanding of inner and outer processes. From this process has emerged the modern science that has benefitted the planet, albeit in an asymmetric manner due to the difference in socio-economic development around the globe. The wisdom manifest by those who live in economic poverty is of a more organic nature than those who exist in economically advanced societies, and whose wisdom is routinely augmented by technological assistance. In a poor country, the apex of wisdom may manifest as the ability to grow crops effectively and make obsolete machinery function despite a lack of spare parts or replacements, etc, whereas in a rich country, advanced wisdom builds space-rockets and devises ever more effective medicines, etc.

Wisdom is a human-wide phenomenon that is not linked to any one culture, ethnic group, or society, and it is clear from the observation that many great civilisations, such as the Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Inca, Mayan, North American Indian, Celtic, and Modern European, amongst many others, have produced cultures and architectural constructs that contain an obviously advanced quota of developmental ‘wisdom’. This is why it is significant that on the 10th of December 2013, a group of eminent Chinese academics issued the Zhangjiagang Wisdom Studies Declaration, which simultaneously recognises the importance of the study (and development) of the theory of wisdom research, and the founding of the International Wisdom Society (IWS). This is an important recognition that will see the subject of wisdom studies advance and gain a greater depth of understanding. In recent years, knowledgeable people, both inside China and abroad, have started paying attention to this issue, and have begun to promote awareness of the emerging academic discipline of Wisdom Studies. In the United States, first there was the famous Psychologist Robert J. Steinberg who led a group of scholars in a spontaneous research programme in Wisdom Studies. Following this, there was the development of Wisdom Studies carried out at the University of Chicago. In Europe there is the ‘Berlin Wisdom Paradigm’ which has a group of Wisdom Study researchers. In China during the last 50 years of the 20th century there was the famous educator Luo Jia Lun who considered the relation between wisdom, learning, and knowledge. He produced a penetrating analysis of the three inter-related subjects.

The famous scientist named Qian Xue Sen, (as far back as the mid-1990’s), proposed a ‘Great Compendium of Wisdom Studies’ school of thought. In the 21st century, the famous educator Gu Ming Yuan, the President of the Chinese Association of Education, developed the academic subject of Wisdom Studies. Within China there has been the development of the Chinese Wisdom Project Research Council, together with the emergence of the International Chinese Wisdom Society in Hong Kong, as well as the Zhangjiagang City Wisdom Studies Project, and other similar academic institutes. As a consequence there have been a number of important academic conferences held, and many pioneering papers published on the subjects of wisdom, learning, and knowledge, which has led to the development of a practical curriculum designed specifically for Wisdom Studies. The academic brothers Zhang Qing Lin and Zhang Qing Song are credited with designing and implementing the first ‘Learning Wisdom in College’ courses, which have achieved many important results.

However, whether in China or the United States of America and despite the fact that leaders in both countries clearly advocate the development of wise thinking amongst the people, it has to be acknowledged that Wisdom Studies (and the ability to ‘think’ wisely) is an acquired skill, and that there must be appropriate planning if it is to be made socially acceptable and relevant to the masses. In this regard, Wisdom Studies remains in its initial stage of development. However, the fact that there are now ‘Wisdom Cities’, ‘Wisdom Tourism’, and ‘Wisdom Study Schools’ serves to illustrate the success of the project, and the willingness of people to embrace wisdom. In fact intelligence is the facility people use when choosing their words and actions – and it can be said that Wisdom Studies encourages the development of a clearer (and superior) thinking process. Wise thinking can be used to tackle the most difficult of problems with an innovation that is capable of producing new inventions. Amongst the workers, the use of wise thought is the foundation of the generation of all productive forces.

For further information regarding the International Wisdom Society:

 

RHACS – International Wisdom Society

http://wenshuchan-online.weebly.com/international-wisdom-society.html

Close Slaughter-houses: London – Picadilly Circus 15.6.13

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This event was organised and supported by Animal Equality, Animal Aid, and the Vegan Society, amongst others, who are campaigning against the cruelty animals are subjected to within the commercial farming process, and the killing of animals (in slaughter-houses and elsewhere) for human consumption.  As Buddhists and Socialists we attended in the spirit of solidarity, representing Animal Voices Torbay, a group that does much to help animals locally.  This event occurred simultaneously around the world including London, Toulouse, Toronto, Istanbul, Zagreb, Houston, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bauru in Brazil.  A similar demonstration in Paris happened on the 25.5.13.

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The message is twofold: animals are treated in a despicable manner from birth to unnatural death, and this process is the product of an uncaring commercial system that treats animals as unfeeling, inanimate objects.  Animals are sentient beings that feel pain, fear, and terror during their short lives.  To stop the commercial farming of animals people are encouraged to become vegetarians and/or vegans.  If enough people changed their diets, then the capitalist system that exploits animals would collapse.  Many believe that animals are equal to humans, but suffer due to the fact that they are viewed as inferior.  This flawed perspective is called ‘Anti-speciesist’:

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Around 200 people attended the rally:

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People wrapped like fresh meat:

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There were a number of poignant speeches delivered by various animal rights campaigners that explained the dreadful plight of animals in the world and how each individual can help change this situation by changing their attitudes and eating habits.  It was agreed that people need to be educated about what is actually happening to animals within the process of commercialised farming:

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This was a very successful rally that achieved its objective of raising awareness of the issues surrounding the treatment of animals in farming, and which assisted the educational process by giving out free information regarding vegetarianism and veganism.  The event was well organised and disciplined throughout.

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