The Logic of Al-Kindi (185-252 AH – 801-866 CE)

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‘Through the assiduous study of mathematics and Aristole’s books it is possible to acquire knowledge of what is true.’

al-Kindi, Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ishaq (d. c.866-73)

Known as Yasqib Ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, Al Kindi is often referred to as the ‘first Islamic philosopher’ (or ‘first philosopher of the Arabs’), in as much as he actively studied the works of the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and offered a systematic approach to explaining the many topics relating to Islamic philosophy, which were extensively debated during his life-time. This included issues such as the nature of creation, immortality, the knowledge of god, and the subject of prophecy. Although not all of his ideas were accepted within the consensus of Islamic thinking, nevertheless, his ideas about immortality and the individual soul have stood the test of time, as has his ability to clearly discern and define human knowledge, as being distinct from ‘revealed’ knowledge. Although he fully embraced the agency of human knowledge, he never deviated from the idea that revealed (or ‘prophetic’) knowledge was superior, and in the final analysis, easier to attain.

Al Kindi was born in Basra (Iraq), and was educated in Baghdad, where he eventually served under caliphs al-Min’mun (813-833 CE), and al-Mu’tasim (833-842 CE) as a personal tutor, and was recognised as a preeminent astrologer. He studied Greek, Persian and Indian wisdom, and was responsible for Greek philosophical texts being imported into the State funded Academy in Baghdad, where they were carefully translated into Arabic, and studied by Islamic scholars. Al Kindi’s willingness to read widely, and learn from wisdom traditions outside of Islamic theology, led to the establishment of logic and reason within the Islamic tradition, whereby another layer of interpretive discourse was developed, through which Islamic theology could be interpreted. Al Kindi did not perceive this process as one culture invading (and displacing) another, but understood the different wisdom traditions as being representative of distinct methods of using the human mind to solve mundane and supramundane issues of human existence. This demonstrates that ‘difference’ can be accommodated without necessarily disrupting prevailing cultures or modes of thought (religious or otherwise).

The Bravery of Mr Paul Aladdin Alarab (1958-2003) RIP

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If the US-Zionist propaganda is to be believed, the 911 terrorist attacks on New York in 2001 were carried-out by 17 Saudis and 2 Egyptians – but as both countries are allies of the US and friends of Israel – and given that Israel represents US interests in the Middle East – no military action was taken against either Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Add to this the bizarre fact that at the last count at least 10 of the alleged suicide bombers on 911 have subsequently been found to be ‘alive’ – then the ‘irrationality’ and the ‘illegality’ of the US-led invasion and destruction of Iraq in 2003 is made patently clear. This blatant act of Western neo-imperialism has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands (some estimates state ‘millions’) of innocent Iraqi men, women and children, and paved the way for the development of a disastrous Islamofascism in the formerly Arab Socialist State. There were no weapons of mass destruction in an already impoverished country that had suffered under unjust UN Sanctions for over a decade. Furthermore, all legal experts agree that this ‘invasion’ was illegal under International Law. Saddam Hussein – the Iraqi leader who had resisted Western imperialism for decades – was tried by a puppet court comprised of Iraqi collaborators and traitors and hung (with his death being filmed and immediately released across the internet). I remember millions of people protesting this grotesque war in London – and the then criminal British Prime Minister Tony Blair just ‘laughing’ in Parliament! I also recall news bulletins that told of Westerners who had travelled to Afghanistan (that other victim of Western neo-imperialism) and Iraq – and deliberately blowing themselves up at Western military check-points in protest to the aggressive actions of their respective governments. American-Iraqi Paul Aladdin Alarab did not carry-out any action that directly inflicted violence upon anyone else – despite his heartfelt resistance to the US invasion of Iraq (the country of his ancestors). However, despite having a family (and all to live for) he decided to end his own life in protest to the illegal military action the US was taking against Iraq. Paul Aladdin Alarab (44) ended his own life by jumping to his death from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on May 19th, 2003. To my mind, it is not the trained military thugs of the US military that are heroes, (after-all, anyone can kill innocent people with fire-arms), but rather people like Paul Aladdin Alarab (and those Westerners who protested the illegal invasion of Iraq in numerous ways). In fact, a good measure of this man’s selfless attitude can be gleamed from the fact that he protested on behalf of the elderly and the handicapped in the US in 1988 – when he accidently fell-off the bridge in question – but remarkably managed to survive the plunge. America must throw-off the shackles of capitalist oppression and develop a Socialist State that renounces all ‘aggressive’ war.

Find a Grave – Paul Aladdin Alarab

2nd Bridge Fall Kills Foe of War

How the US Created Islamo-Fascist Terrorism!

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Tony Blair – and his New Labour government – took the UK into two of its most disastrous (and illegal) wars the country has ever known. Destroying the sovereign governments of Afghanistan and Iraq has had terrible consequences not only for the people of those devastated countries, but for the global community. By removing governments that pursued ‘secularism’ over ‘religionism’ has opened the door for US-backed, trained and financed terror groups to fill the vacuum, and turn their weaponry upon the West (which is perceived as being collectively a natural ally of the US). How did this situation arise? The Criminal Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the US was tasked with devising any means – legal, illegal or whatever – to bring down the USSR particularly (and the Communist Bloc countries in general). Following the Soviet Red Army entering Afghanistan (in support of a beleaguered Socialist government), the CIA stepped-up its latest project of training and arming young Muslim men, who formed a ‘new’ type of army to combat any and all Communist movements in the region. This idea started innocuously enough – with American operatives simply ‘bribing’ local tribal leaders to mobilise their men against the Socialist government of Afghanistan. When the Red Army interceded in the region, the CIA switched the emphasis of their campaign, and began to directly recruit young men into entirely American-run and administered training camps. In these camps, these young men, many of whom were illiterate and had never left their villages before, were taught to ‘think’ in a manner entirely alien to conventional Islam, and combine Western notions of racism, nationalism, and anti-Communism, with that of select (and misinterpreted) extracts from the Qur’an dealing with the Islamic concept of ‘jihad’, or ‘righteous war’. Whereas a jihad is a war of self-defence (with regard to non-political community security), the CIA intelligence officers changed its onus into one of a non-community based ‘self-offence’, involving the projection of a highly vicious and violent policy of ideologically driven attacks on all other communities. The enemies of this ‘new’ group were any conventional or traditional communities or associations that did not agree with, or adhere to the this ‘Islamo-fascist’ ideology. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, this Islamo-fascist movement did not quietly dismantle itself and go away, but rather became an independent regional network of terrorist cells, that turned its attention toward the modern ‘capitalist’ West (and its presence in the Middle East), defining its previous employers – the USA – as public enemy number one. The terrorism employed against Westerners (and others) today throughout the Middle East (and elsewhere), was previously perfected against the soldiers of the Red Army. The ‘Mujahideen’ (as this group was called in Afghanistan), was eulogised through US anti-Communist propaganda during the 1980’s, with its head-chopping, disembowelling, torturing, and general acts of terrorism perpetuated upon Soviet troops (and any and all civilian supporters of the USSR), being defined by the CIA as ‘sublime’ acts of religiously inspired fervour and spiritual devotion. A poignant (and now ’embarrassing’) reminder of this US attitude of support toward Islamo-fascist terrorism can be seen in the hideous Hollywood film entitled ‘Rambo III- which sees Sylvester Stallone mysteriously state that before these men carry-out their acts of terror, they consider themselves ‘already dead’ (hence the wearing of ‘white’ clothing before an operation, with the colour ‘white’ symbolising ‘death’ and the ‘burial shroud’).

Today, what was once a very well armed and trained US-backed Islamo-fascist terrorist group, now extends its influence directly into the Western world – where it continues to murder hundreds and thousands of people (as is the case in Africa and elsewhere). Regardless of what name the CIA is currently giving this movement, the fact remains that it did not arise out of any indigenous Islamic movement or community, and has no legitimate ties with conventional Islam – it was, and remains entirely a US invention from start to finish – one that has now gotten out of the control of its creators. However, rumour abounds on the internet, that certain aspects of this Islamo-fascist movement is still being used by the US in places such as Syria, Libya and the Yemen, as a means to attack regimes that do not adhere to the strictures of US imperialism, and which often oppose Zionist Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. In the above video clip, Hilary Clinton confirms how and why the US created Al Qaeda.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories as an Expression of Free-Thought

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Bear with me for a moment whilst I weave an intricate web of deceit and delusion. When the evidence is examined regarding the destructive events surrounding the so-called ‘terror’ attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York on September the 11th, 2001, the glaring inconsistencies in the ‘official’ reports compiled by agencies of the US government (and its allies), are so obviously designed to manipulate a passive audience, that the details contained therein cannot be accepted as ‘true’ without a tremendous amount of qualification and clarification. The 9/11 reports, without a shadow of a doubt, were not designed to impartially and dispassionately report a tragic loss of life to a shocked populace, but from the very beginning were a propaganda exercise in Islamophobia initiated by a rightwing US Administration. The 9/11 reports became a vehicle for the dissemination of anti-Muslim racism in the US, Europe and white colonial countries such as New Zealand and Australia, etc. This type of racialised reporting prepared the ground for a rabid race-hate campaign against the peoples of both Iraq and Afghanistan – two countries that had no part in the 9/11 attacks in New York – which culminated in the US military (supported by the UK) illegally invading and occupying these countries. Those brave Iraqi and Afghani men, women and children who rightfully resisted this act of blatant US-led neo-imperialism, and have died in their hundreds of thousands, have been portrayed by the Western media as insane sub-human entities that are not worthy of compassion or concern. Of course, this is not a new strategy for Western imperialism, but is part of a well-practiced historical response in its dealings with the other ethnicities it seeks to dominate and exploit. Exactly the same dehumanisation technique can be seen within the discriminatory Western attitudes applied to Africans, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Native American Indians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, South Americans, Polynesians, Aborigines and Maoris, etc. During the Cold War, this simple technique of race-hating the enemy was even applied to the USSR.

A population that does not think for itself, waits to be told what to think and what to do by its government. This is the case in the US, and increasingly so across the EU. Ordinary people have either forgotten how to think for themselves, or have had the educational opportunities to do so withdrawn from their cultures by rightwing governments. The biggest threat to the Western rightwing is not Islamophobia, but rather the free thinking associated with an individual that has received a good and all-round education. Free-thinking is an inoculation against rightwing terror and its social manipulation. Why is it, for instance, that the US did not blanket-bomb Saudi Arabia and Egypt following the 9/11 attacks, when 17 of the alleged bombers are believed to have been Saudi citizens, and the other 2 from Egypt? Why is it that shortly after releasing this list of apparent suicide bombers, one or two of these individuals were reported as still being alive? Why was it that massive and well-built modern buildings collapsed shortly after the two jets hit them and the Solomon building also collapsed without being hit by a plane? Despite the apparent destructive force of two jet-planes hitting the WTC buildings, the US authorities stated that their investigators recovered the passports of some of the alleged hijackers in the debris of the collapsed buildings, along with the unlikely find of Qurans bound together with flight manuals! There are many more inconsistencies, sleights of hand, omission of facts, and obvious disinformation that collectively serves to fuel the numerous conspiracy theories that abound.

When compared to the controlling and manipulating manner in which the US authorities have handled the 9/11 crisis, the advent of 9/11 conspiracy theories can be legitimately interpreted as an exercise in free-thought and expression, regardless of the factual content or truth value of each conspiracy. The creation of these counter-constructs are in response to the official interpretation of events that has been judged as academically failing, on top of the obvious Islamophobia and general lying through disinformation presented as fact. What conspiracy theories represent is the application of human free-thought when confronted by an oppressive state and its deliberately controlling apparatus. A conspiracy theory, regardless of its truth content, is an important device that confronts the tyranny of state originated attempts to control the thought patterns and emotional responses of its citizens. The 9/11 official report issued by the US government, at its base, requires those who believe in it, to accept that white Eurocentric culture is superior to the cultures of brown-skinned people who happen to follow the religion of Islam. This message is delivered by the US government through the vehicle of institutional ‘victimhood’ – whereby the suffering of white America is considered superior than the suffering experienced by non-Americans (with the exception of Zionist Israel). To accept the official US report on 9/11 is to accept that racism is legitimate, and to conspire to apply that thinking in the physical world, and of course that is the entire point of this policy. It is designed to encourage US citizens to join the military and partake in a new crusade of murdering Muslims for an imagined affront to European dignity.

As a free-thinker I neither fully accept nor reject conspiracy theories. My view is that they serve as an important control mechanism in Western democracies that are not as ‘free’ as their own rhetoric suggests that they are. The conspiracy theory I would like to suggest is quite simple. I am of the opinion that the US government would have us believe that the 9/11 attacks just appeared out of nowhere and had no place in history. This reflects that Judeo-Christian myth of a god-construct that suddenly created all in existence out of nothing. The US then uses this counter logical and unreasonable position to portray its own suffering as ‘unique’ and ‘special’ (exactly the same as that attitude found within Zionism, or Jewish national racism). In so doing, it automatically absolves itself of any guilt for 9/11 premised upon its own historical behaviour. This illogicality is the basis of the US official 9/11 report and the reason why so many people refuse to accept that report – regardless of the facts contained within it. Conspiracy theories sometimes take the wrong direction, or advocate incorrect facts, but taken as a general response to US lies and tyranny, their existence represents an important beacon for human free-thought. It was the US racist attitude and highly oppressive historical behaviour that led to 9/11 happening. In this assessment I do not personally reject the idea that 9/11 was an inside job, simply because it is my right to think freely, but the fundamental ‘conspiracy theory’ comes not from ordinary citizens, but rather from the US government itself which would have us believe that it is the innocent victim of religious extremists.

A Clear Example of Zionism

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One particular aspect that sustains and preserves the various ideologies that adhere to an essentially ‘racist’ viewpoint of the world, is that they are generally related to, (and justified by) theistic religious teachings. The discredited pseudo-science of racism that developed and reached its peak in 19th century Europe, based its assumptions upon a natural order existing in the universe, (very much like a feudal hierarchy), which mimicked the medieval Christian Church in its unquestionable structure. This distorted view of the world assumed that a Judeo-Christian god had a) created a physical universe out of nothing, and b) created ‘different’ races of people to live in that universe, with white Europeans being declared the ‘chosen’ and most ‘superior’ amongst the other races, who are distinguished from one another by skin-colour, language, and culture. This religious teaching was secularised and welded to Darwin’s theory of evolution, in an attempt to scientifically prove Judeo-Christian prejudice to be correct in an objective, intellectual sense. It is important to note at this juncture, that the theology that justifies this view, ignores the fact that the supposed saviour of the Christian Church – Jesus Christ – was a Jew from the Middle East, and therefore not a white European. It is also important to stress that Charles Darwin was opposed to racism as being ‘unscientific’ and a product of immense ignorance. Religion joined forces with British imperialism, to misrepresent science and theology.

This type of modern racism, from which Zionism has emerged, perpetuates hatred of others through religious myth, presented as objective fact. In a sense, it represents neither ‘science’ nor ‘religion’; such is the power of its distorting force. It presents its bigoted case through the pretence of objective rationality, whilst pursuing and perpetuating assumed prejudices from a distant past. It is a purely mythological and inverted mindset that has nothing to do with science and everything to do with the the ignorance surrounding religious imagination. This imagination, however, is not benign, but highly malevolent in its nature. It represents the psychological darkness of self-hatred projected (and perpetuated) into the world through physical actions, actions that include the prevention of the development of progressive reason and logic, both within and throughout society. The world is arbitrarily split into ‘good’ and ‘evil’, where everything placed into the latter category is ridiculed, attacked, and ultimately destroyed, by those who unilaterally declare themselves to be ‘pure’, and the chosen (and preferred) people of an imagined deity. Modern racism, fed as it was through the industrialisation process and the development of science, takes these religious myths and updates the structure through contemporary socio-economic conditions. This is why the many different types of racism that are prevalent today, actually exhibit attributes that was relevant during the 19th century, and the rise of European imperialism. This development assumed, (incorrectly), that its success around the globe was due to the invisible hand of a mysterious god, rather than the logical consequence of the development of progressive (and destructive) industrial forces, and the technological innovations that such a development bestowed upon the societies that produced them. A bullet fired from a gun (that passes through a cowhide shield), and fatally pierces a tribal warrior living within a primitive society, is a purely discernable and logical process, that does not require a divine motivation or interference, for it to be effective. Material (and technological) superiority is a product of human physical (and intellectual) labour and has nothing to do with religion or an invisible deity.

The Palestinians have been kept in a state of arrested economic and industrial development since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The Israeli state receives unconditional support from the Judeo-Christian influenced USA, and their European allies. This essentially renders Israel exempt from the strictures (and punishments) usually associated with International Law, as the international community refuses to hold Israel to account for its many military and paramilitary actions that are a clear violation of Human Rights. The list of these violations is extensive and is growing day by day. As the number of Palestinians killed reaches over 600 today, (with over 3000 wounded), Europe mourns the 298 who died on the airliner downed in the Ukraine recently, (whilst condemning Russia without evidence for this tragedy), but collectively chooses to ignore the highly destructive and murderous activities that are being carried-out in Gaza by heavily armed Israeli infantry and tanks. Gaza is a very small area of Palestine which has seen a besieged and desperate Palestinian population ever forced into a smaller and smaller living area by illegal Israeli actions. The Israeli military continues to deliberately target areas of dense civilian populations, which inevitably has lead to the deaths of many children.

Yesterday, Hamas fired a missile that landed near the Tel Aviv’s main Ben Gurion International Airport, in Israel. The missile caused neither significant damage, nor any casualties in the area, but the USA’s Federal Aviation Administrations (FAA), immediately announced a 24 hour ban on all US aeroplanes flying into Israel. The international face of Zionism, or Israeli racism, sprang into action and immediately began its relentless lobbying of US politicians, requesting that the ban be lifted as it sends the wrong message to the world. The rightwing BBC, taking the Israeli side, spent much of its news time looking at how this ban might be detrimental to the Israeli economy, and how such an action, (which apparently ‘isolates’ Israel from the international community) might be viewed as a punishment for its current actions in Gaza. Zionism has led to members of the US Jewish business and political community acting as unofficial ambassadors for the state of Israel in this matter, and lobbying on their behalf. This behaviour is essentially that of US citizens acting in a manner that reflects the interests of another sovereign nation – a behaviour that led to US citizens sympathetic to Iraqi or Afghani issues during America’s war on terrorism, being imprisoned without trial at Guantanamo Bay. Israel, whilst behaving in a manner that is obviously totalitarian and fascistic, nevertheless presents itself on the international stage as the ‘eternal victim’. After killing and destroying the Palestinians, the Israeli state would now have us believe that they are the true victims of the aggression they perpetuate. Israel follows political Zionism and is therefore a racist country that should be stripped of its international immunity and face the consequences of its many illegal actions toward others. In a modern and progressive age, religion should not be allowed to dominate political policy, or to define reality.

How the BBC Supports Islamic Terrorism

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After the US and British led military illegally invaded the sovereign state of Iraq (in 2003), its legitimate government was over-thrown, and its leader – Saddam Hussein – was hung on television at the behest of the United States. By removing the essentially secular Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party from power, under the guise of (‘fighting terrorism’), the West, under the leadership of George Bush Jr and Tony Blair, effectively paved the way for extremists paramilitary groups that were once peripheral political entities in Ba’athist Iraq, to emerge into the bright light of equal armed competition in the country. These groups have brutally murdered, (in the name of god), thousands of Western soldiers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens, (including men, women and children). As the Western military presence in Iraq was planned as a pretentious Judeo-Christian act of far-right power projection, and short-term military occupation, there was never any plan of ‘what should be done next’, after its demonstration of technological superiority, had finally achieved its aim of defeating the State Army of Iraq. This policy of short-termism led to the bizarre situation of British and US forces controlling small geographical areas of Iraq, such as main roads, major towns and cities, and prominent hills, etc, whilst the Taliban continued to control and terrorise everywhere else. As the invasion of Iraq was nothing other than a blatant act of neo-colonialism, the presence of Western troops in the Middle East galvanised young Muslim men across the globe, who were motivated in their tens of thousands by religious impulses, to sacrifice their lives in the cause of fighting the ‘infidels’, and attempting to drive them out of areas perceived as historically ‘Islamic’.

The highly industrialised and technologically advanced military forces of the West relied heavily upon their material superiority on the battlefield. This led invariably to the situation of the Taliban resorting to massed infantry attacks (of varying discipline and effectiveness) on relatively small numbers of Western soldiers utilising advanced weaponry. This led to the death of one or two Western soldiers every so often, but invariably to the death of hundreds or thousands of Taliban fighters. Although at the point of military contact the Taliban always lost more than it gained, this policy of pressure was sustained against the West by controlling a very large part of the civil population, either through genuine support, or through the use of terror. Whatever the case, as the West was unwilling to commit its ground forces into other areas, the Taliban could always give the propaganda impression that these ‘foreign’ men from the ‘Madrasa’ or ‘Islamic Colleges of Pakistan’ were welcome in Iraq by the indigenous population, and controlled vast areas through popular support. Of course, many other men from around the world, (including the West), flocked to the Taliban ranks, creating a Pakistani-led, internationalist, pan-Islamic movement, fuelled and sustained through the auspices of Western imperialism.

In 2003, and for many years after, the BBC clearly pursued a blanket ‘anti-Taliban’ policy in all its coverage. The death of every British soldier was treated with abject sorrow, and their loss was presented through an air of great respect. Britain is a relatively small island-country that draws its men and women for its foot-solders from its working class. These young people, who come through a modern education system, are then trained to fight in modern warfare, and then sent as combatants to far-flung areas of the world to act as cannon-fodder for political wars started and supported by the bourgeoisie. Today, the Western forces have withdrawn from Iraq and left its people open to attack from all sides. Nothing was achieved other than the removal of the Ba’ath Party, which in its time of tenure, served to keep in check all Islamist extremist tendencies. The Taliban was not defeated, and simply adopted the strategy of ‘out-lasting’ the enemy, which of course they did. The BBC, following the strictures of the current far-right government of the UK, is now pursuing the policy of eulogising the very terrorists they once reported against. To achieve this sleight of hand, the ‘Taliban’ has been renamed ‘Isis’, a catchy, media-friendly pseudonym that gives the false impression that a ‘new’ movement has suddenly, and spontaneously arisen, as if out of the ground, and is now spreading across Iraq and is threatening to wash away the Western founded and supported government, whose poorly trained, and poorly motivated soldiery are proving ineffective in the face of the enemy. Isis is the Taliban and tomorrow the media may well refer to it by another name. The BBC is now presenting ‘Isis’ as the ‘saviour’ of Iraq, even though the behaviour of Isis is no different to those Taliban fighters who killed hundreds of British soldiers. The hypocrisy of the BBC is palpable; as it continues its policy of obviously recannon-fodder, media, soldier-inventing history, which is nothing other than the manipulation of the people through a well established far-right policy.

 

Bill Hicks: The View From Within.

Intellectuals and philosophers are often depicted as inhabiting the academies, or working in prestigious universities or high powered government positions.  Very rarely are they products of the ordinary people.  In the usual procedure of production it is the general trend that the educational elite produce the next generation of the educated elite, as social position and economic well-being create the conditions that allow for elitism of this type to self-replicate.  Of course, it is not always like this, as on occasion a true genius shines through regardless of social position or family history.  Bill Hicks – the American comedian – is just one of these remarkable people.  Although his chosen medium of communication was humour, the quality and content of his work, when objectively analysed, has to be described as the presentation of a deep and penetrating philosophy disguised as humour.  It is a philosophy that contains the added ingredient of making people laugh whilst simultaneously providing them with an education.  Like the Greek philosophers of ancientGreece, Hicks stood up in public and delivered his rhetoric.  He started doing this in his early teens up until his death from pancreatic cancer in 1994 – aged just 33 years old.  The volume of his work by this time demonstrates that although he died young, he was able to fill his short existence with a lifetime of words.  As is the case with any philosopher – the standard of the philosophy produced is dependent upon the quality of the words chosen.  His presence upon stage was a blend of the ‘public’ and the ‘personal’ – in a room full of hundreds of people he had the ability to make everyone feel as if he were talking directly to them and sharing a private joke, observation or complaint.  Hicks drew the audience into his psychological sphere of influence – creating a sense of approval – even if the spell was broken somewhat at the conclusion of the performance.  Although obviously an American, Bill Hicks presented the best of that culture that served its purpose primarily through the function of criticism.  American media presents an essentially rightwing and highly religious narrative by way of a means of defining what it thinks ‘America’ is, or should be.  Hicks operated strictly as a provider of a continuous counter-narrative that never relaxed for the duration of his lifetime.  He was genuinely affronted by much of what passed as ‘American’ through the media, and had a very poignant grasp of the US’s involvement in politics around the world, including the way it uses its military to create regime change.  The image Hicks presents through his work is that the majority of Americans either have no interest in what their country does in their names, or are just naïve or legitimately ‘unaware’.  His purpose is not just to entertain, but rather to act as an educator to people living in theUSwho simply do know or care about reality.  American culture, in its local or regional variety tends to exist oblivious to the outside world.  Its information is gained from a media that deliberately dumbs down news articles and in so doing, misrepresents the facts of those articles, creating a ‘Diseny-fication’, a kind of cartoon version of the world andAmerica’s place within it.  This kind of narrative is entirely devoid of any ability to observe itself in an honest or impartial manner.  The comedy routines developed around this lack of this internal observation.  Americanism is presented as never wrong and always practical – the cutting-edge of Hicks’ observations were often uncomfortable for those who paid-in to the system without question.  The Christian rightwing was wrong, the American foreign policy was wrong, American militarism was wrong, homophobia was wrong, racism was wrong, the Police were wrong, politicians were wrong, sexual attitudes were wrong, the media was wrong, capitalism was wrong, discrimination was wrong and the war in Iraq was not just wrong, but illegal as well.  Hicks was not un-American.  The impression one gets from watching and listening to his performances is that here was a man who had educated himself beyond the confines of his own culture.  As an American, in many ways Bill Hicks represents the very best of what the culture of theUSAhas to offer.  But this brilliance does not mean that it has to conform to every contemporary attitude extant withinAmerica.  This voice of opposition was far more important than a quiet voice in the wilderness.  Like Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks would not compromise with what he thought was wrong with the country he lived in and the people he lived amongst.  His counter-cultural approach signified an aspect of his character that always sought the ‘beyond’ or the ‘transcendental’ from within the ordinary.  His experimentation with LSD and his belief and acceptance of UFO’s as being representative of an advanced alien culture visiting the Earth is indicative of this inclination, as is his practice of meditation and his studying of Eastern philosophy.  In many ways, his public performances helped him psychologically transcend the reality of his situation, but in so doing, also helped those who came into contact with him during these performances, to experience a very similar effect.  He often spoke out against what he perceived as the corruption of institutional religions – but did not reject the notion of spirituality – in fact he drew a very precise line between the two.  Established religions were corrupt and practiced a type of highly exploitative brain-washing upon its members.  Religions of this type tended to keep practitioners ignorant of the facts and in a state of self-imposed fear designed to prevent any real spiritual growth.  Spirituality, on the other hand, contained endless possibilities of inner exploration.  These journeys were self-selected and self-enacted and the results immediate and unmediated by a priestly hierarchy who claimed to have your best interests at heart.  For Hicks it was definitely the human mind that was the key to human evolution – and he saw the next stage of human development as comprising of a conscious transformation of being above and beyond the base level of the banal everyday existence.  He wanted humanity to rise together in one gigantic wave of developmental bliss, the experience of which would mean that nothing would be the same again.

In 1992 much of his output centred on the defeat of George Bush Jr, in the US Presidential elections following his successful invasion of Kuwait and southernIraqin the first Gulf War.  Through such material Hicks described his political stance ‘as a little to the Left’.  He says that he did not vote for Bush because the recent Republican administrations had sponsored genocide in South American countries – whilst the US media limited the issue to whether a new Democratic President would raise taxes.  The natural Rightwing bias within theUnited Statessystem is so prevalent that any legitimate notions of Socialism are treated as if they are a crime of immense immorality, stupidity and the product of extreme mental illness.  Hicks detested the mainstream media – and along with corporate advertisers – viewed it as a product of Satan’s seed.  In this respect he could be very forceful in his opinions – surprisingly so when his style of delivery is taken into account.  The passion manifests suddenly within a meandering narrative about this or that.  Regardless of the raw human emotion, he never abandoned the principle of considered opinion gained through intellectual analysis.  The intelligence of Hicks – and his intelligence was as able as any renowned thinker Western civilisation has produced – never abandoned an accompanying morality that moulded ideas and directed actions.  This morality, however, was never aimed at anyone else as a meta-theory, Hicks primarily targeted himself through its filter honestly expressing all his human failings to the general public.  It is true that his political views were highly critical of the American system, but as an American brought up within the ‘land of free’, that his criticism was a natural conclusion of a free thinker and a confirmation of the so-called ‘American Way’.  He expressed his highly intelligent criticism of the USA because American culture, with all its implicit underpinnings of the right to free and equal expression, provided the very conditions needed to produce some one such as Bill Hicks, a person that could well be described not only as an eternal cultural icon, but also as a multifaceted ‘genius’ who was primarily unacknowledged during his short life-time, but whose work continues to affect and effect people’s lives despite him no longer being on this plane.  What is distinctive about Hicks and his political opinion is that he refused to bow down to the American Rightwing – which had become very powerful during the Cold War – and the mainstream media it controlled.  As an American, Hicks expressed the finest qualities of the unwillingness to conform to what he saw as oppressive thought patterns and the political and military actions premised upon them.  In this regard he was often attacked as being ‘unpatriotic’ by the Right, and bizarrely ‘un-American’, when in fact even a cursory glance of his work would inform the average person that Hicks was American, but that he expressed a kind of Americanism that harked back to the heady days of revolutionary thought that founded the US system, and the inherent Leftwingism that use to be obvious and present within the US political narrative.  Bill Hicks was not a cultural aberration, but rather a confirmation of the American Revolution that threw-off the shackles of direct Colonial rule fromLondon.  Only in relatively recent times has the American Rightwing totally subsumed the Left to such an extent that it appears no longer to exist in that country.  No wonder that Bill Hicks often describes himself as a ‘little to the Left’, because in a country where the Rightwing dominates alone, absolutely any questioning of that system is immediately attacked, ridiculed and destroyed through the use of words and imagery, and as the last great threat to American Capitalism was the Soviet Union – any one who disagrees with Rightwing Republicanism is of course immediately accused of be a Communist, as if being aware of, or a member of that noble school of thought were some kind of crime.  Even today, the Democrat President Barak Obama is referred to by his political enemies as ‘Comrade Obama’.  Hicks says that we are the ‘puppet people’, the docile masses who believe that every thing placed upon the TV has to be true because it is ‘there’.  The contemporary American political system, consisting as it does of just two parties, was presented by Hicks as two separate puppets controlled by the same person.  Nothing was beyond the discerning eye of his precise criticism.  What is interesting is that he was able to create a political dialogue that questioned the status quo of the country he lived within, whilst presenting that dialogue (at the point of first contact), through the filter of a refined humour.  It is as if Hicks was aware of the institutional resistance educated into the minds of the American public, and designed his performances to engage the resistance, nullify it through a gentle humour – that is ‘softening up the resistance’ – before delivering the implicit Leftwing thrust of his thinking to a relatively receptive, or prepared  mind.  This method of accessing the minds of others is incredibly sophisticated – and this is before the actual content of his rhetoric is taken into account.  Although very clever, it can not be accused of being a manipulation of the masses, as the audiences choose to attend the public performances actually paying to be entertained in this manner.  Today, thousands of people continue this activity by purchasing the DVDs and CDs of Bill Hicks’, allowing themselves to be transformed by the Bill Hicks experience contained within.

The content varied in his performances around the subjects of politics, religion, extraterrestrial visitation, human ignorance, violence in society, city life and of course sexuality.  InBritain, Hicks would gather knowledge about local areas and tailor his sketches accordingly.  For instance, when inOxford(in 1992) it was the area of Cowley that took the brunt of some his humour – to the appreciation of theOxfordaudience.  It was here also that Bill Hicks lamented the recent election defeat of the British Labour Party earlier that year.  This performance, perhaps one of the best all round of his later career, spends time talking about pornography and the hypocritical attitudes existent within theUSAassociated with sexuality.  This a country that produces a very large output of hardcore pornography at an alarming rate, whilst simultaneously practicing a moral conservatism that leads to simulated scenes of a sexual nature being deleted from mainstream cinematic films.  The Kennedy Assassination is a favourite theme of and recurs through his performances.  He pours scorn upon the ‘official’ version of events and through a re-cap of the key points of the event demonstrates that this version is not only probably incorrect, but at the same time signifies a cover-up that is an insult to the average intelligence.  This interlocks with the idea that the American political system attempts to lull people into a sense of false security where even their democratic right to ‘question’ is not required to be practiced – ‘go back to bed America, everything is fine…’  It is the apparent negating of the principle of free and informed thinking that offends Hicks the most.  His response is to ‘think more’, not less, whilst confronting such a homogenised culture that is comprised of a blend of ‘control’ and ‘oppression’.  Although the powers that be might prefer their citizenry not to think, they can, whilst perpetuating the contradictory mythology of the ‘land of the free’, actually prevent a person thinking should they choose to do so – Hicks effectively demonstrates this point.  What can happen, however, is that society can be controlled in such a way that creates patterns of behaviour that actively discourage the practice of informed debate – the point Hicks makes through his performances is that America has become such a place where institutional ignorance rules over refined intelligence – and that the higher aspects of education are preserved only for those wealthy enough to afford them, and who, consequently, are supportive of the idea that the majority of the people are conditioned not to think for themselves, but continue the daily grind of repetitive, exploitative behaviour, which contains within it the programming to attack and ridicule any outside attempt to free them from their imposed predicament.  Part of the conserving nature of this situation arises from the presence of fundamentalist religion, which serves as a kind supportive harness to the establishment – accepting its thoughts and actions without question, and actively participating at times in the implementation policies based upon them – invariably Rightwing Presidents are careful to create a media image of a close proximity to religion – usually some kind of Christianity.   Hicks makes the controversial point that many of these Christian groups are opposed to the practice of pregnancy termination – claiming that all life is precious – whilst at the same time often vocally supporting the practice of judicial execution whereby a convicted criminal is put to death by the State.  Hicks does concede, however, that without the practice of the judicial Death Penalty, the distinct religion of Christianity would not exist.  Jesus – of course, taught humanity should love one another and not take any other human life – Hicks appears to be in agreement with this position, but criticises the modern Christian Church for not actually following the teachings as laid down in the scripture of their founder.  This kind of situation is compounded by the anti-scientific stance adopted by many people who take the teachings contained within the Bible at face value.  This literal interpretation denies the teaching of Evolution and instead insists that the presence of dinosaur bones in the earth – that are not mentioned in the Bible – have been placed there by god to ‘test their faith’.  Bill Hicks took exception to the idea that a Christian god is a ‘prankster god’ that spends his time f’cking with his head!

Almost without exception Hicks would always leave his audience with the message that life is just a ride – as it is an essentially a delusional experience – made real by the power of the human mind.  This mind however, has the further ability to consciously evolve to a higher level of being beyond the limitation of everyday thought habit.  This is the transcendental quality of Hicks’ humour.  It is as if the content – as excellent as it was – was just passing the time so that the real underlying message of escape through growth could be delivered.  In a blink of an eye – Hicks informs us – can create peace on Earth, now at this moment.  This is achieved by looking through the eyes of love – rather than the eyes of fear.  This message correlates with the other Hicks idea often deployed as the carrier of this transcendent message, namely that existence is in reality one consciousness experiencing itself through the lives of many.  Unity, peace and transcendence, coupled with love and understanding will take humanity to the next level of evolution and in the process forever leave behind the drudgery, suffering, injustice, persecution and killing that has defined humanities progress for thousands of years.  Within this process it is acknowledged that it is a matter of will – if the entirety of humanity so wished it – peace could become the immediate situation here and now.  Drugs such as magic mushrooms, marijuana, LSD and opium have their place in human development.  Hicks always made the point that the legal drugs of alcohol and tobacco have absolutely no benefit to those partaking in them, and actually lead to the breakdown of society through drunkenness and disease, etc, whilst those untaxable drugs mentioned previously, that have a conscious expanding affect, are prevented from reaching people in a legitimate format due to their assumed illegality.  The ‘War On Drugs’, according to Hicks was actually a war on civil rights.  Hicks stated that as long as a person is not hurting another human being, what business is it of any one else what we do with our own consciousness?  Bill often stated that he once ingested magic mushrooms and spent the next four hours lying in a field experiencing a deep and profound love for everything in existence.  If enough people had a similar experience it would become very difficult to justify warfare as a concept and an activity, and the arms manufacturing business would collapse over-night.  Hicks suggest here that there is a conspiracy conducted by the establishment that conspires to prevent ordinary people partaking in substances that would probably enable them to see the absurdity of their situation and the brain-washing techniques used to sustain it.  This is one of the methods the authorities use to retain power in a real sense that gives the illusion of choice as exercised through the modern democratic process.  When the government is not busy openly controlling the outside of the human body, it is actively participating in the suppression of the inner mind, preventing conscious growth and the kind of associated education that would see through the government’s role in holding all the oppression together.  Although the official propaganda continuously declares that drugs are bad, Hicks continuously counters these claims by pouring scorn upon the official rhetoric, and decisively stating for the public record that he has engaged in mind altering drug experimentation and has never robbed any one, or killed any one, but rather had an amazing experience before going about his day.  In many of his recorded shows he actually encourages the audience to experiment with drugs and make their own mind up, pointing out that much great music and art has evolved from the creative genius of those under the influence of such substances.  There is a peculiar parallel to these statements in as much as by 1992 Hicks had already been off of drugs for four years, and had just stopped smoking.  However, despite these adjustments of habit for health reasons, Hicks never backed away from the idea that mind altering substances are beneficial to the humanity’s consciousness.  For Hicks these kinds of drugs offer a speeding up, or a short cut through the evolutionary process.  This is all backed up by the idea that no one under the influence of marijuana has ever gotten into a fight – because it is just impossible to do so.  This open and honest approach endeared Hicks as an icon of counter-culture to the younger generation, and confirmed his status as a philosopher pioneer to those older than himself.  Bill Hicks spoke passionately about his experiences in life without distortion or unnecessary elaboration – he never claimed to be any thing he was not.  In many ways, what the audience saw, they got.  The ordinary human condition was not a mistake or hindrance upon the spiritual path of development – it was the path itself – and that meant that everything was up for grabs and comedic discussion.  Sexuality, drugs, the ‘United States of Advertising’, politics, mundane life religion and finally the dying experience, combined in a rich mosaic of experience that if used in the right way could lead a human being to an understanding of the universe far beyond the material plane of existence.  Each word and sentence uttered by Bill Hicks was designed to free the listener from the tyranny of their own everyday existences.  In this respect he was like a modern day Ch’an or Zen master, cutting down delusion with correct verbal expression, presenting at times the most brutal of compassion.  Hicks could be harsh –his monologues involving the Goat Boy, Satan’s Seed, corporate and political hypocrisy and many others, although dark and brooding were never dishonest.  Hicks displayed both sides of humanity whilst always pushing for a spiritually transcendent experience.  He manifested a certain gentleness of spirit that enveloped whatever communicative mood he happened to be on the night, and recorded conversations off stage, often with people he did not know, show that as a human being he was thoughtful and caring, never appearing selfish, or full of arrogance due to his celebrity.  Indeed, he came across as very ‘ordinary’ and one of the people.  It is true that this ‘ordinariness’ contained within it an unparalleled ability to entertain random audiences, and simultaneously make them laugh as well as make the think, but behind the professional persona Hicks refused to become a ‘media whore’ whose identity was dictated by the whims of passing fads and expedient commercial considerations.  Hicks was very much of the people, when he spoke to the people, indeed he spoke for the people.

Around 1992 – 1993 Bill Hicks’ career was really taking off.  He was becoming well known in the UKand the USAthrough TV appearances and good press.  He was working continuously and travelling extensively giving nightly performances.  He spent much of his life on the road, but at this time a certain increase in frequency was prevalent.  Hicks was going places.  People wanted to pay to see him perform, whilst managers and producers wanted to book him.  He had been performing from the age of thirteen years old – inspired by the other American comic icon Woody Allen.  From this early age he had honed his philosophy of gentle anarchy in front of adult audiences.  Now, in his early thirties, after performing for nearly twenty years, he seemed to possess a spirit of one far older.  Appreciation for his work as an artist, performer, philosopher and member of the counter-culture intelligentsia, was just beginning to become mainstream.  A number of his live shows had been purposely recorded for release on CD and there was talk of regular TV shows with Hicks as the host.  Furthermore, his American grown humour critical of the current state of USculture had found a very warm welcome in Great Britain.  He played in Scotlandand Englandto sell out crowds whose enthusiasm for his presence seemed to lift Bill Hicks to another level (or frequency of being) in his performances.  Not long after his performance in Oxford (November, 1992), Bill Hicks started to experience discomfort in his abdomen area – as his schedule was very busy, this was put down to indigestion brought on by a fast lifestyle and late nights.  Just over six months later, in June 1993, Hicks was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  Hicks was given just three months to live.  He was started on treatment designed to give him a little more time, which it did.  Bill Hicks lived another eight months before passing away on February 26th, 1994.  He continued to perform and make plans for the future in 1993 after the diagnosis, but the chemotherapy and the illness were beginning to take their toll.  Incredibly, Bill Hicks performed live one more time on stage on January the 5th, 1994 at Carline’s Comedy Club, New York.  Half an hour into the performance Bill asked if his manager was in the audience – he then said ‘I can’t do this anymore.’  Hicks replaced the microphone and walked off stage.  The strength of spirit required to do the gig at the advanced stage of his illness and walk off stage in the dignified manner that he did, exhibited the highest calibre of character.  On February 7th he penned a short piece entitled a ‘New Happiness’.  Within it he thanked god for all the artists, and expressed a remarkably upbeat attitude toward life which was full of hope.  He expressed the shock he felt when first learning of his terminal illness, and the accompanying sense of injustice.  Now, as his illness was nearing its end, Bill Hicks’ creative genius came to the surface once again through the haze of treatment and illness.  This short piece, some just five paragraphs long, reads like a script to one of his performances, expressing a section of incredible insight and glowing wisdom.  He speaks of aNew Hope and a New Happiness contained within his search for answers to life’s great questions – least of all his own particular situation.  Like a Ch’an or Zen master, Hicks appears to be writing his ‘final word’ as his physical life comes to a conclusion.  He concluded this piece with the following words:

I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.’*

On February 14th, 1994 – St Valentine’s Day – Bill Hicks contacted old friends, and then announced that he would no longer be using speech to communicate.  He was coming to terms with his rapidly deteriorating physical condition and acknowledged the dying process for what it was.  He was withdrawing attention away from the outer world at a time when his diminishing energy was required to maintain the failing body for whatever time it had left.  The dying process, particularly in situations such as this is always an isolating experience – not only for the person under going it, but also for those around who can not help or prevent the inevitable in any meaningful way.  Death at such a young age is devastating to all concerned.  Bills Hicks was a gentle spirit with a sharp, insightful mind.  The manner with which he approached the physical demise of the vehicle that had carried his spiritual essence around for the previous thirty two years or so, can be said to be dignified regardless of the actual realities of such an unfolding of events.  A physical demise of this nature is a waiting game, regardless of the apparent speed with which the time drags by between diagnosis and conclusion.  As with much of life, a paradox appears to be in motion.  It is ironic that much of Bill’s output along his path was based upon actually revealing and clarifying the contradictions inherent in life that many people were unable to perceive.  The final act of this remarkable life involved a shocking exit from the stage.  In one sketch Bill Hicks suggests that the ‘terminally ill’ be used as disposable stuntmen in the movies – giving the impression that this rather public form of euthanasia – was far more dignified than the usual practice of placing the elderly and the dying in unfamiliar care homes to face their end amongst people they do not know.  For Hicks, it was the established modernity that was terrifying – not his suggest that the dying go out in a blaze of dignified glory – Hicks asks the rhetorical question as to whether grandma should die a cold and lonely death – or should she meet Chuck Norris?  Hicks, of course, passed away within the home of his parents, amongst those who loved him, and with those whom he loved.  Bill Hicks left his body at 11:20pm on the 26th of February, 1994.  He lives on, of course, through the memories of those who knew him personally, and through the audio-visual recordings of his many performances and lifetime experiences.  One night inOxford in 1992, he was arguably at the absolute peak of his powers.  It is probably fitting to end this tribute to Bill Hicks not with a profound statement of his – of which there are many – but with a request aimed at him from an appreciating audience.  That request is; ‘Come on Billy!’

Reference: Hicks, Bill: Love All The People, (2004) – Page 293.                            

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