Tuesday, 6 March 2018

NRHZ: Being in Time – a post-political manifesto, review by Clara S. (2018-01-26)

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Being in Time – a post-political manifesto, review by Clara S. (2018-01-26)
Ours is a post-political world and we, the people living in the US and Europe, have fallen out of time. We have neither answers to what is happening to us nor any strategy to be in time, again, anytime soon.
In today‘s dystopia the financial capital has taken over and the production of goods has been nearly abolished in the western world. Transformed into consumers living in debt, more and more people find themselves in the ’basket of deplorables‘  (H. Clinton) as victims of global capitalism. Democracy has become a farce and we, the citizens, have no real influence on political decisions.  This transformation has come about smoothly without big social protests or fundamental critique from academia and virtually no warning voices from art and culture.
This is the way Gilad Atzmon views the world and he questions why that is so. Searching for an answer he starts by reviewing the well-known right and left ideologies. Without any reservations he looks at their promises, examines the terms ‘national’ and ‘socialist’ and asks whether the combination of the two really are that bad.[1]  Furthermore, he writes about the appeal of these ideologies to the masses and whether or not they can provide solutions for our current situation. Without advocating any of these ideas himself, he provides quite unique and interesting insights. His results: for several decades the left-right tensions within our western societies (utopian/idealistic vs. nostalgic/realistic thinking) kept up a balance which brought about some security, well-being and the reliance of citizens to be able to influence politics. Those days are gone. The liberal western democracy Fukuyama saw as climax and end of our historical development is dead.
Meanwhile, the New Left has given up most of its social objectives and has split society into fragmented, infighting, biologically-oriented identity groups (according to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc.).Thus, they have created a global regime of political correctness. Nobody can really speak their minds anymore, and everyone is ‘voluntarily’ restricting their freedom of speech and thought. The New Right answers by claiming to be accepted as a discriminated identity group of their own on the one hand, and on the other by vehemently rejecting identitarian politics and advocating not very consistent Judeo-Christian values. The popularity of right populist parties of Donald Trump and Brexit, as well as the huge success of Corbyn and Sanders are to be seen as a protest against this kind of ‘left’ thinking, as the wish to be rooted and to change reality, and not to stay caught in idealistic ideas of political correctness.
People today are onlookers and objects of politics they cannot influence in any way. The author claims that it is important to relate the human condition to the full range of political ideas, to find new topical explanations and answers and not to get stuck in restricted patterns of thought. This is only possible by giving up Jerusalem (the town of commandments and political correctness) and establishing Athens (the town of reason) as our ‘capital’ again. With this distinction he refers to the 2000-year old philosophic argument and strictly conservative philosophers like Leo Strauss and Martin Heidegger.
The fearless analysis above was reason enough for his opponents to discredit Gilad Atzmon as fascist.  His explanations for the current situation have provoked his being called an anti-Semite. This is because he argues that one of the main causes for these problems can be seen in the huge influence of Jewish culture and ideology in connection with Jewish elites having gained more and more powerful positions in politics, finance, culture and media throughout the ‘Jewish’ 20th century. The reasons he provides are, again, unique. Without ideological blinkers he, for example, refers to Henry Ford, who is generally viewed as an anti-Semite for his criticism of Jewish influence in international banking. He describes how Jewish elites succeeded in combining high intellectual levels with practical efficacy. Furthermore, he vividly describes how our society was split into privileged, gifted elites, manipulated less gifted ‘deplorables’, how this is related to Jewish culture and what the consequences are. These ideas are quite thought-provoking as he uses the results of an extremely disputed scientist for his argument. The inventor of the Bell-Curve, Richard J. Herrnstein, has been called a rabid racist for his findings. I have never heard anything about this in Germany but read about it in American blogs. He tested the intelligence of different ethnic groups within the American society and found that Afro-Americans are, on average, less intelligent than Caucasians. Atzmon’s conclusions, however, are not racist but they call for accepting reality and finding practical solutions. As a former teacher I know from experience the daily struggle to overcome the motivational and intellectual barriers of youths from educationally deprived backgrounds, the difficulties of showing them that you care and convincing them that better education means the promise for a better life while, at the same time, you know that this is not really true.
Whereas the influence of Jewish elites cannot be underestimated, this group of people is successful in maintaining their status as potential victims. Here, according to the author, lies the core of their power to prevent people from criticising them. Another way of achieving that is controlled opposition. In a humorous way Atzmon explains how nearly every relevant debate today is transferred into an inner-Jewish controversy and thus loses its bite. He stresses that most of the time this is not a result of manipulation, although this also can be the case, but that many of the critical voices we adore, i.e. Chomsky, are completely honest but caught in their cultural bubble.
It would be rewarding for the author and all of us if the interested public, historians and sociologists didn’t allow themselves to be threatened away by the gatekeepers of political correctness and instead compared his findings with their own experience, checked them for consistency, provided scientific back up or even proved them wrong. Gilad Atzmon sees himself as a philosopher; his book is about introspection and not scientific proof. It is full of inspiring thoughts. Instead of answers you will find questions (some are from Atzmon himself, some are my own):
·       What can society do to make sure that its ‘deplorables’ can get by in dignity?
·       Could  equality within borders be an alternative to global capitalism?
·       How far does the social super-structure he describes really comply with the material basis of global financial capitalism?
·       Is the fact that Jews play such an important role a critical component when we are talking about certain capitalist structures?
·       What are the chances and risks of returning to the Athenian tradition of reason?
Some might want to compare Gilad Atzmon with the snake who challenges us to taste the forbidden fruit.  Why not?
If they want to burn it , you want to read it..

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Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto
Amazon.co.uk  ,  Amazon.com  and   here  (gilad.co.uk)
[1] This is where I began to get cold feet.  Klaus Hartmann, secretary of the German Freidenkerverband, has rightly pointed out that Hitler’s fascism was neither ’national‘ nor socialist‘ – these terms were chosen for propaganda purposes (http://www.nrhz.de/flyer/beitrag.php?id=24504). But then I read an essay by Horst Mahler (a lawyer who used to be left and defended some of the German RAF terrorists; now he has changed his views to far right): “Cleansed of all traces of Jewish lies the spirit of the German People will shine in new glory. Freed from the cinders of Jewish thinking it will again intervene into world affairs and – with the irresistible power of reason – show the peoples that the idea of National Socialism provides the remedy for the Jewish-dominated world.” (https://de.scribd.com/doc/225655981/Das-Ende-der-Wanderschaft-Horst-Mahler-pdf#)
This quotation was taken from a piece in which Mahler uses Gilad Atzmon and his thoughts from ‘The Wandering Who’ as an example for a ‘good Jew’, who has succeeded in freeing himself from Jewishness and achieving true knowledge. German ‘being’ as remedy for the world instead of Jewish chosenness or the US-American ‘Shining City on the Hill’.  Applause from the ‘wrong side’ for Gilad Atzmon or would he agree? In our conversation he said that he was “not impressed by far right dogmatics with an agenda of their own”. 

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