Showing posts from December, 2018

Against the Illusion of Separateness: Pablo Neruda’s Beautiful and Humanistic Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech. BY MARIA POPOVA

“There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance…” By the time he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature less than two years before his death, Neruda had become an icon. Gabriel García Márquez, whose own subsequent  Nobel Prize acceptance speech  echoed Neruda’s humanistic ideals, considered him “the greatest poet of the twentieth century in any language.” On December 13, 1971, Neruda took the podium in Stockholm to deliver an extraordinary acceptance speech, later included in  Nobel Lectures in Literature, 1968–1980  ( public library ). He begins with a lyrical, almost cinematic recollection of his 1948 escape to Argentina through a mountain pass when Chile’s dictatorial government issued an order for his arrest on account of his extreme leftist politics — a long, trying

‘Murder Them, We Will Handle’: Purvanchal University V-C’s Advice To Students. Sangh Parivar's notion of an ideal education?

The vice-chancellor of the Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh has landed in a controversy after a video purportedly showing him telling students to kill their opponent if they get into a fight went viral, prompting the state government to ask him to present his side of the story. In the video that has gone viral on the social media, Raja Ram Yadav, the VC, is purportedly seen telling students to kill their opponent if they get into a fight. Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, who also holds the higher education portfolio, told  PTI , “I have asked the vice-chancellor to give his version of the story.” In the video clip, the VC is purportedly seen telling students: “ Agar aap Purvanchal University ke chhatra ho to rote huye mere paas kabhi mat aana. Ek baat bata deta hoon, agar kisi se jhagda ho jaaye to uski pitai karke aana aur tumhara bas chale to uska murder karke aana, uske baad hum dekh lenge  (If you are a Purvanchal University student, don

Suzanne Moore - If we want a different politics, we need another revolutionary: Freud

If I want to read someone whose work truly explains what is happening now, and who is unsettling and properly radical, it is  Sigmund Freud  I turn to. It is his work that often explains things I would rather not know but recognise happening around me. I haven’t given up on Karl but Siggy strikes me as the man of the hour, the thinker who underpins how we see ourselves. You don’t read Freud for reassurance, but if you want something profound and dazzling, he’s the man. Sigmund Freud Thoughts for the Times on War and Death  (1915) To read Freud is to begin to see how the conception of what it is to be a modern person came about. Modernity, if it means anything, means a certain understanding of the process by which we make ourselves who we are: self-reflection. For Marx, reflection leads to inevitably antagonistic class relations. But the working class is a continual disappointment to the left for failing to recognise itself as a class, or to do as it is told. This, we are told,

George Monbiot - Advertising and academia are controlling our thoughts. Didn’t you know?

I came across a paper that counsels advertisers on how to rebuild public trust when the celebrity they work with gets into trouble. Rather than dumping this lucrative asset, the researchers advised that the best means to enhance “the authentic persuasive appeal of a celebrity endorser” whose standing has slipped is to get them to display “a Duchenne smile”, otherwise known as “a genuine smile”. It precisely anatomised such smiles, showed how to spot them, and discussed the “construction” of sincerity and “genuineness”: a magnificent exercise in inauthentic authenticity... NB : Monbiot says  Our minds are shaped by our social environment, in particular the belief systems projected by those in power ; but he goes on to say: The purpose of this brain-hacking research is to create more effective platforms for advertising. But the effort is wasted if we retain our ability to resist it.  So then our minds need not be shaped by our social environment, and in fact, were that unequivocal

Bhima Koregaon: Dalit Assertion Is Only Getting Stronger A Year After The Violence // Bhim Army Chief Detained Ahead Of Bhima Koregaon Anniversary

On January 1, 2018, Anjana Gaikwad, a 26-year-old Dalit activist from Pimpri Chinchvad town in Pune, was heading towards the  Bhima Koregaon  Vijay Stambh (victory column) on the outskirts of the city with her younger brother, Santosh Shinde. Gaikwad and Shinde had planned to join the thousands of Dalits from across Maharashtra who had gathered in Bhima Koregaon to pay tribute to the Dalit soldiers who, as a part of a British army, defeated a Peshwa army in 1818 despite being outnumbered. 2018’s commemoration was to mark the 200th anniversary of the victory. Violence in Maharashtra as Dalits protest death of 28-year-old in Bhima Koregaon clashes Why lakhs of Indians celebrate the British victory over the Maratha Peshwas every New Year Anand Teltumbde: The Myth of Bhima Koregaon Reinforces the Identities It Seeks to Transcend But when the siblings’ bike reached Sanaswadi, a village near Bhima Koregaon, Gaikwad saw a violent mob furiously pelting stones at anyone wearing white

Fintan O’Toole: ‘Brexit is full of hysterical self-pity’

Fintan O’Toole is one of the most respected columnists and literary journalists working in the English language. He writes for the  Irish Times  and is a regular contributor to the  New York Review of Books . His latest book,  Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain , is an excoriating cultural analysis of the political ideas behind  Brexit . Andrew Anthony:  You argue that English nationalism is the ghost in the Brexit machine. Why do you think that is? From the turn of the century onwards, you have this extraordinary rise of the idea of England as a political community [ie, a popular desire for England-only legislation voted on by English-only politicians]. All the public opinion surveys show this. It’s very odd and I can’t think of any other parallels where it happens without a political party, without newspapers, without a national theatre. There’s no WB Yeats of English nationalism. So it’s not very well articulated. It’s a set of feelings rather than a political p

Fisher and Tribal People Come Together in Massive Protest Rally in West Bengal

Fisher and Tribal People Come Together in Massive Protest Rally  DM's Office Blocked for Hours in West Midnapore On 27th December 2018 in   a   first ever joint movement Dakshinbanga Matsyajibi Forum and Adibasi Bikash Parishad alongwith many other organisations of the tribal people came together and staged a massive protest rally in Midnapore town against government's insensitivity and bureaucratic inaction regarding their long standing demands. For hours the DM's office was under siege with about 8,000 fishing community and tribal people blocking its entrance. In West Midnapore, as in many other areas, the fishers and fish farmers either belong to tribal communities or live and work together. Thus common cause builds up among them to move for both fishing communities' and tribal people's rights and entitlements.  The Judge Court ground of Medinipur Town was overflown with thousands of people hailing from places like Narayangar,  Keshiary, Kharagpur,

The ruling class and illegal mining in Meghalaya

Abhishek Saha - Beyond the tragedy, for state’s politicians, mining their own business TWO weeks after 15 workers in Meghalaya were trapped while mining coal using the “rat-hole technique,” and are feared dead now, Lok Sabha MP from Shillong constituency Vincent H Pala (50) told the House Thursday this should be “regularised”. This method - with narrow tunnels dug in mountains for workers to move through and extract coal - was slammed as illegal, unscientific and harmful, and banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on April 17, 2014. Pala made this demand but what he did not spell out was that he was also a prominent coal businessman in the state. The Congress MP, a native of East Jaintia Hills district and an engineer by qualification, has been vocal about lifting the NGT ban on illegal coal mining in the state. In fact, Pala isn’t the only one. About a dozen politicians allegedly own coal mines themselves or have relatives as mine owners and were named by a Citizens’ Report

Robert Fisk: Trump vs Mattis: Watch out when men of war come to the rescue // Danny Sjursen: Trump’s 3 Generals may be Out, but the Forever War Lobby Still Rules

When a general popularly known as James “Mad Dog” Mattis abandons a really mad American president, you know something has fallen off the edge in Washington. Since the Roman empire, formerly loyal military chiefs have fled crackpot leaders, and Mattis’s retreat from the White House might have the smell of de Gaulle and Petain about it.  De Gaulle was confronted by an immensely powerful hero of the people - the Lion of Verdun - who was, in his dotage, about to shrug off the sacred alliance with Britain for Nazi collaboration (for which, I suppose, read Putin’s Russia). The decision was made to have nothing to do with Petain, or what Mattis now refers to as “malign actors”. De Gaulle would lead Free France instead. Mattis has no such ambitions – not yet, at any rate – although there are plenty of Lavals and Weygands waiting to see if Trump chooses one of them for his next secretary of defence. Besides, history should not grant Trump and Mattis such an epic panorama. After all, no Trump

Juan Cole : Syrian Kurds frantically turn to Moscow for Protection from Turkey

Anton Lavrov, a military analyst, writes in the pro-Putin Russian newspaper Izvestia (via  BBC Monitoring ), writes that the withdrawal of US troops from northeast Syria will mainly affect the fate of the Kurds. He notes that the US has provided the YPG with armored vehicles and antitank missiles and a great deal of ammunition. These medium armaments, he says, were useful in defeating the ISIL ‘caliphate,’ but won’t be enough to fend off the Turkish army or the Syrian Arab Army once the US is out. He argues that for the past year, the fight against the largely defeated ISIL has become a sideshow to the main event, which was US and coalition protection for their Kurdish YPG allies from the Turkish army on the one hand and the Syrian Arab Army on the other. Both have mounted exploratory expeditions toward YPG Kurdish territory in the past twelve months, but have been dissuaded by the US. In the case of Turkey, the US and France positioned troops in the way of a Turkish offensive.

15 Meghalaya Miners Still Trapped

Two weeks have passed and 15  Meghalaya  miners are still trapped in a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district. As the rescue operations continue, NDRF divers reported a “foul smell” on Wednesday. It has raised concerns that the miners could be dead and the bodies are beginning to decompose, according to  The Indian Express .  However, according to another  NDTV   report, the officials at the site said they are not certain whether the foul smell is of decomposed bodies as it could be from stagnant water also.  The 15 miners have been trapped since 13 December, after the mine collapsed.  The  NDTV  report also said that rescue operations were halted on Tuesday. Chief Minister Conrad Sagma admitted on Wednesday that the rescue efforts had been stopped and that the state was waiting for high-powered pumps to draw out water from the mine.    Two low-capacity pumps used to draw water could not extract enough water for safe rescue operations, according to  NDTV , as water from a

Yong Xiong and Ben Westcott - Marxist student snatched on way to Mao Zedong celebration in China

NB: What irony! It's now a crime to support worker's rights in the Peoples Republic, under the rule of a Communist Party. Even more ironic is that this student is probably ignorant of Mao's contribution to this state of affairs, and the number of Chinese workers and peasants whose deaths were caused by the famine that accompanied the Great Leap Forward; not to mention the  GPCR . DS A high-profile Marxist student activist   was bundled into a car by suspected plainclothes policemen on Wednesday on his way to celebrations for the birthday of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong. Qiu Zhanxuan, head of the Marxist Society at China's distinguished Peking University, is the latest in a series of socialist student leaders to vanish in recent months following their attempts to support Chinese workers in labor disputes. It has raised fresh questions about the Communist Party's Marxist credentials at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping is working hard to paint

Jesus was an anti-slut-shaming Middle Eastern Jew

source see also Book review: Jesus the man Book review: The origins of Christianity - An atheist’s guide Three Versions of Judas: Jorge Luis Borges Agnes of God, the Latest Target of Ban Culture The Quarrels of Others: On Anti-Semitism

Teacher praises school child for thoughtful christmas gift despite having ‘nothing to give’

A  thoughtful gift doesn’t always require money, as one teacher in Washington State realised when one of her young students gave her a small bag of marshmallows picked out from her breakfast cereal before departing for the holidays. Writing about the present on Facebook, Rachel Uretsky-Pratt explained how every student at her school is on free or reduced lunches and that one “kiddo” was desperate to give her a present but had “nothing to give”. “So rather than give me nothing, this student opened up her free breakfast cereal this morning, took the packaging of her spork, straw, and napkin, and finally took the time to take every marshmallow out of her cereal to put in a bag – for me,” she said. “Be grateful for what you have, and what others give you. It all truly comes from the deepest parts of their hearts.” The Christmas truce, 1914 - Steven Johns  : When love became treason..  A short history of the widespread but unofficial truce between British and German troops on the

Book review: Nein! The Germans who stood up to Hitler

Nein! by Paddy Ashdown:  Reviewed by Rodric Braithwaite Riveting new detail is added to the story of the men and women who lost their lives trying to stop the Führer, in the final book by Ashdown,  who died on Saturday As Stauffenberg put it: “the man who has the courage to do something must do it in the knowledge that he will go down in German history as a traitor. If he does not do it, however, he will be a traitor to his own conscience.”  In the old German defence ministry in the Bendlerstrasse, Berlin, a whole floor has been restored to the way it was at the time of the 20 July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler. It was there that Claus von Stauffenberg and his fellow conspirators managed their doomed enterprise: he and three others were shot in the courtyard below at the end of that dramatic day. Another floor is devoted to the trade unions, political parties and churches who did what they could to stop the man who was bringing shame and disaster to their country. It is a m

Justin McCurry: Japan's emperor calls for young to be taught about horrors of war

Japan’s emperor has marked his last birthday before his abdication next year by calling for his country’s younger generations to be taught accurately about the horrors of war and expressing relief that his reign has been a peaceful one for  Japan . A record 82,850 people cheered and waved Japanese  hinomaru  flags as Emperor Akihito, who turned 85 on Sunday, appeared on the balcony of the imperial palace in Tokyo with Empress Michiko, his eldest son and heir Crown Prince Naruhito and other members of his family. Naruhito, 58, will ascend to the Chrysanthemum throne on 1 May, the day after his father, who has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer, becomes  the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in 200 years . The last was Emperor Kōkaku in 1817. Akihito returned to the legacy of the second world war in his pre-recorded speech, a subject that has helped define his 30-year reign, known as  heisei , or achieving peace. “It is important not to forget that countless live

Tavleen Singh - Anti-national nationalism

India’s Muslim population is too large to ‘go to Pakistan’ or anywhere else without breaking India yet again. Does this not make Yogi Adityanath anti-national?   ... it really is time to list political leaders who make up the other ‘tukde, tukde gang’. It is time to remind these ‘nationalists’ that what they think is nationalism is in reality a dangerous anti-nationalism that is causing grievous harm to the country they claim to love. Meanwhile, since they have all found their voices only since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, he would do well to examine why this has happened and if he has in some way played a role... In Mumbai last week, I attended Republic TV’s summit that glittered with BJP stars. The Prime Minister gave the keynote address on the first day. The BJP president was the first speaker the next day. I did not personally attend every session but watched those I missed on television and so happened upon a discussion on nationalism between Smriti Irani and Kamal Haa

Joe Moran: the story behind our planet's most famous photo, December 24, 1968

When Bill Anders took this photograph from the Apollo spacecraft on Christmas Eve in 1968, our relationship with the world changed forever . This photograph is now half a century old. It was taken by the astronaut  Bill Anders  on Christmas Eve 1968 as the Apollo 8 spacecraft rounded the dark side of the moon for a fourth time. When Earth came up over the horizon, Anders scrabbled for his Hasselblad camera and started clicking. In that pre-digital age, five days passed. The astronauts returned to Earth; the film was retrieved and developed. In its new year edition, Life magazine printed the photo on a double-page spread alongside a poem by US poet laureate James Dickey: And behold /  The blue planet steeped in its dream  Of reality, its calculated vision shaking with the only love.” The Earth from Apollo 8 as it rounded the dark side of the moon.  Photograph: Nasa/AFP/Getty Images NASA Brings Iconic Apollo 8 'Earthrise' Photo To Life (VIDEO) This was not quit

Mohd Asim - The Lynch Mob Now Goes for Naseeruddin Shah - Predictably

NB:  The entire Sangh Parivar is responsible for this hateful and dismal state of affairs. Those who can threaten the courts and judges are not likely to be deterred by a mere actor in their relentless campaign to stoke up communal hatred at every available opportunity. All Indian citizens who care about the future of the Republic should defend Naseeruddin. And Bollywood celebrities may kindly take time off from their unending wedding receptions and speak up for him. DS Naseeruddin Shah is neither the first, nor will he be the last to be hauled over the coals for speaking out against the climate of hate and bigotry that has been unleashed in the country. "Good" Indians are outraged that an actor with a Muslim name has dared to hold up the mirror. How dare he? Instead of being grateful for the standing conferred on him, he is questioning what he sees around him. That's the common response to Naseer's genuine outburst over the sad state of affairs in our country toda

Trump's chaos: This Time Is Worse Than Usual. By BEN MATHIS-LILLEY

...... Secretary of Defense James Mattis is, indeed, resigning in protest over Trump’s impulsive decision to withdraw forces from Syria. It’s a decision that, according to the  latest   reporting , was more or less dictated by the authoritarian leader of Turkey - who wants America out so that he can  slaughter  the Kurds, longtime allies of the U.S. who we are  surprising/betraying  by leaving so suddenly. As the national security writer Marcy Wheeler  points out , among the reasons that Trump has to be deferential toward Turkey are 1) Turkey might have dirt about former national security adviser Michael Flynn  advocating corruptly for pro-Turkey policies  while he was on Turkey’s payroll, 2) Trump needs Turkey to stop making noise about  how the Trump administration allowed Saudi Arabia to kidnap, torture, and and murder Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi  in Istanbul without any repercussions, and 3) Turkey’s interests in Syria overlap with those of Russia,  another  coun

Indian justice: Sohrabuddin encounter case verdict: It looks like my brother killed himself, says his brother

Rubabuddin Shaikh, the younger brother of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, the only family member present in the special CBI court on Friday, said that with nobody held responsible for his brother’s death, he will have to conclude that Sohrabuddin had killed himself. Rubabuddin, on whose petition the Supreme Court had in 2006 directed a probe into whether Sohrabuddin’s encounter was genuine, said that he had lost hope of the accused being held guilty when the Bombay High Court had discharged six policemen. All accused of killing Sohrabuddin are acquitted, court says evidence weak Police Officer Who Busted Sohrabuddin Encounter Case Says State Trying to Silence Him The BJP is afraid of saffron terror probes because they point to the RSS More threats and lies from the RSS In September, the high court had dismissed Rubabuddin’s pleas against the trial court’s order discharging IPS officers, including D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh M N. “There was enough evidence against th

Shaun Walker - 'We won't keep quiet again': the women taking on Viktor Orbán

A new wave of female politicians and protesters are offering an alternative to the Hungary PM’s macho politics  When the speakers took the stage to address the  crowds of protesters  in front of Budapest’s imposing parliament building on Sunday, they had two things in common. They were all staunch opponents of Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s far-right prime minister. And they were all women. In a country where Orbán’s populist politics have a distinctly macho flavour, and debates about women often come in the context of child-bearing and family life, the political opposition is being voiced in a united and distinctly female front. Hungary's protests have united the country's opposition against Viktor Orban. “We wanted to send a message that female parliamentarians, and women in  Hungary , should be heard,” said Ágnes Vadai, an MP from the Democratic Coalition, who said it was a conscious decision from opposition parties to send female MPs to speak to the crowd. Hungary’s pro

Biological Annihilation: A Planet in Loss Mode. By Subhankar Banerjee

It’s now  estimated  that 40% of all bird species are in decline globally and one of every eight is threatened with extinction...  If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term 'the Sixth Extinction.' If not, look it up.  After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for  writing a book  with that title. The Sixth Extinction / Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be  debatable , but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants.  Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biologi

Nomi Prins: A World That Is the Property of the 1%

Oxfam reported  in January of this year that the wealth of eight men was equal to that of half the people on this planet in 2017. And an  Oxfam report  a year earlier had 62 billionaires owning half the planet’s wealth. Imagine that: 62 to eight in a single year... As we head into 2019, leaving the chaos of this year behind, a major question remains unanswered when it comes to the state of Main Street, not just here but across the planet. If the global economy really is booming, as many politicians claim, why are leaders and their parties around the world continuing to get booted out of office in such a sweeping fashion? One obvious answer: the post-Great Recession economic “recovery” was largely reserved for the few who could participate in the rising financial markets of those years, not the majority who continued to work longer hours, sometimes at multiple jobs, to stay afloat. In other words, the good times have left out so many people, like those struggling to keep even a  few

John Steinbeck: A flawed genius. By Martin Chilton

It’s the 50th anniversary of the death of Steinbeck, the subject of a new biography in 2019. The Nobel Prize-winning author of The Grapes of Wrath was a complicated and controversial man.  He died on December 20, 1968 “I know of no sadder people than those who believe their own publicity” ... After a series of well-received novels, including 1935’s  Tortilla Flat , Steinbeck won critical acclaim in 1937 for his novella  Of Mice and Men , the moving portrait-in-miniature of 1930s California, seen through the friendship of oddball ranch workers George and Lennie. Two years later came  The Grapes of Wrath , one of the defining novels of the 20th century, a work of rich descriptive power, in which Steinbeck showed his ability to summon poetry out of poverty in the lives of the “Okie” Joad family. This deeply affecting story about the oppression of migrant workers, who were fleeing from the Dust Bowl states to California, struck a chord with an America reeling from the Great Depress

Facebook 'log out' boycott underway after alleged Black voter suppression // Is 2019 the year you should finally quit Facebook? Arwa Mahdawi

'The utilisation of Facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the African American community is reprehensible,' says NAACP president A civil rights organisation in the US has called for a boycott of  Facebook  after a report found a Russian influence campaign on the platform was working to suppress African-American voter turnout.  The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) is leading the #LogOut protest on Tuesday, 18 December, while also calling on Congress to further investigate the social network.  A report for the US Senate Intelligence Committee into Russia's online meddling in the build up to the 2016 Presidential election determined black voters were specifically targeted by Russian operatives on social media.  Researchers at Oxford University and network analysis firm Graphika found Russians "sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage" black people from voting, as well as other voting blocks that

Daniel Boffey - Dutch round-the-clock church service keeps hopes alive for asylum family

Tamrazyan family, facing return to Armenia, hide out in church protected by medieval law The pastors and volunteers at Bethel church, a small Protestant chapel tucked away on a quiet street in a residential district of The Hague, are preparing for what looks likely to be an unusually busy and anxious Christmas. They worry that they will need to turn away some of the faithful at the door, and there are even putative plans to live-stream the services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, such is the expected level of interest. The main concern, though, is to keep a flicker of hope alive among the Tamrazyan family – Sasun, his wife Anousche and their children Hayarpi, 21, Warduhi, 19, and Seyran, 15 – who have been holed up in the church for nearly two months, protected by a medieval law that says immigration authorities cannot enter while a religious service is ongoing.

Anjali Bhardwaj & Amrita Johri - The Modi Govt Is Trying To Destroy The RTI Act // Big Brother Logs On? 10 Central Agencies Can Now Snoop On Any Computer

Secrecy in amending the RTI Act as well as in the appointment of Information Commissioners in the CIC reveal the government's intention to destroy the spirit of the transparency law. With over 6 million information applications filed every year, the Indian Right to Information ( RTI ) Act is the most extensively used transparency legislation globally. The law has empowered ordinary citizens to hold the government accountable. It has been used for a range of issues: from exposing lapses in the delivery of essential services and violation of basic rights, to questioning the highest authorities of the country on their performance, their decisions, and even their conduct. A critical provision of the RTI Act, which gives it teeth, is the setting up of independent information commissions, in states and at the centre, to receive appeals and complaints about violations of the Act. The commissions are the final adjudicators under the law and are empowered to direct governments to d

Books reviewed: Solzhenitsyn as he saw himself

Stephen Kotkin reviews five books by and about the life, exile and writing of the Russian author One hundred years ago this month, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk (“acidic waters”), a curative town in the North Caucasian foothills of Russia, which was then wracked by civil war. Earlier that year, 300 miles north at Novocherkassk, the capital of the Don Cossacks, former tsarist officers had proclaimed the formation of a Volunteer Army to reverse the Bolshevik coup of 1917.  The force, labelled Whites, would go down in defeat, its survivors compelled to disperse into emigration. But Solzhenitsyn – even though he, too, would be forced from his homeland – subsequently won the White movement’s fight with his pen. His novels  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich ,  In the First Circle and  Cancer Ward , as well as his nonpareil three-volume literary investigation  The Gulag Archipelago , persuasively blackened the Soviet regime at its roots. According to an estimate by

Costica Bradatan: The Gifts of Humility

Iris Murdoch defined humility, memorably, as “selfless respect for reality”  WHAT IF KNOWLEDGE - the real, redeeming variety - is not power, but the opposite of it? If, for instance, to become properly human we need to run away from power as much as we can? Indeed, what if our highest accomplishment in this world came from radical self-effacement, the lowest existential station we could possibly reach? If there is one trait that all forms of life share, it must be  self-assertion . From the simplest to the most complex, all living entities seek to persist in their state and reproduce. And doing so requires pushing relentlessly against other entities, often to the point of annihilating them. That makes life a scene of cruelty of cosmic proportions. But “cruel” may be the wrong word, for it applies human judgment to something that, by definition, is anything but human. The process of life unfolds beyond any human concerns — spontaneously, blindly, tyrannically. Humans are caught