CSS research fellow Jafe Arnold speaks at Amsterdam religious studies conference
By: Jafe Arnold
n January 23rd, 2018 CSS research fellow Jafe Arnold delivered a presentation entitled “The Eternal Return: Mircea Eliade’s Homo Religiosus and the Cognitive Science of Religion” at the “Religionism and Historicism” mini-conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Organized by the University of Amsterdam’s Religious Studies and Western Esotericism Masters programs, in which Arnold is a student, the conference sought to address the theoretical and practical problems peculiar to the “religionist” and “historicist” approaches to the academic study of religious and esoteric currents.
Arnold’s talk focused on two case studies in this context that are relevant to the research of the Center for Syncretic Studies – the theories of the 20th century Romanian scholar of religion, Mircea Eliade, and the relatively new, interdisciplinary field of the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR).
One of the Center for Syncretic Studies’ chief spheres of research is the relationship between different paradigms of understanding human religiosity, their reflections in intellectual discourse, and the possibilities of – as our mission statement says – “promoting an interdisciplinary approach which seeks to develop theory from unique combinations of ideas while also preserving space for and appreciating the utility of established orthodoxies.” As our Center’s name suggests, we are interested in syncretic perspectives on different schools of thought otherwise separated by time and ideological paradigms, especially in relation to the global “de-secularization” process which we believe is a pivotal, defining experience of the present era with profound implications for everything from scholarship to socio-political movements and geopolitics. The reconsideration of Eliade and the rise of CSR can be distinguished within this context of de-secularization. Continue reading →
An Interview with Czech Communist Ideologist Josef Skala
By: Dr. Eduard Popov and Alexander Gegalchiy – translated by Jafe Arnold
n August 2016, the Center for Syncretic Studies had the honor to publish an exclusive interview with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia’s deputy chairman for ideology and communications, Dr. Josef Skala, produced by the Center’s esteemed Russian colleagues, Dr. Eduard Popov (Fort Russ guest analyst, Europe Center for Public and Information Cooperation) and Alexander Gegalchiy (International Russian Award Foundation). We are pleased to continue this fruitful intellectual exchange with the following, latest interview with Dr. Skala conducted in early January 2018. This interview touches on a number of pressing topics ranging from the challenges facing the “post-socialist” left to “populism”, NATO expansion, and the possibility of a third Maidan in Ukraine. As such, it should serve as a case study in the transformation of the left in the 21st century in relation to geopolitical processes. – Jafe Arnold
Eduard Popov: Dr. Skala, how do you see left socialist and communist thought developing? Is any creative potential being demonstrated, i.e., anything “new”, or is the left clinging to unchanged positions?
Josef Skala: To this day the left remains the victim of the so-called “new” thinking invented by Gorbachev and his associates. This, of course, is a serious distortion of left thought. But many modern theoreticians are still under the pressure of the stereotypes propagated by this “new” thinking. After all, this thought was nothing new! On the contrary, it was a program for returning to the distant past. Nevertheless, new philosophical talents are emerging which have a good grasp of what happened with “Catastroika” and are advocating fresh ideas. In the Czech Republic, we have a group of young theoreticians capable of not only quite profoundly analyzing the tendencies of the development of modern capitalism, but also evaluating the dead ends and traps towards which capitalism is heading which Western elites are incapable of doing anything to avoid. Continue reading →
he war by proxy waged by the United States (US) against Syria cannot be understood in isolation and must be analysed in the greater geostrategic context of US imperialism’s quest for dominating the Middle East, for resource control and dollar security. Since the end of the Cold War, after the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991, US imperialism has resorted to military force through its ‘humanitarian intervention’ in the destruction of Yugoslavia and Somalia, the military occupation of Haiti, its bombing of the Sudan and Afghanistan, and the bombing attacks on Iraq. The downing of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001 saw the US launch its ‘War on Terror’ as a justification for further military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.
From 2002, the doctrine of ‘preventive warfare’ has been argued to justify US attacks on countries seen as supposed threats to US national security. This was emphasised when an ‘Axis of Evil’, comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea, was announced during a State of Union Address on January 29, 2002 by the then President George W. Bush (Bush 2002). The denunciation of these states by President Bush was further expanded into ‘Beyond the Axis of Evil’ when, on 6 May 2002, the then-Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton added Cuba, Libya and Syria to this supposed ‘Axis of Evil’ (Bolton 2002). In fact this ‘Axis of Evil’ consists of independent states which are not subservient to Washington.
That doctrine effectively meant that the scope of US operations became both regional and global. New US-driven wars began and old conflicts never ended. Most recently, the US invoked a threat to the human rights of Libyan citizens as a justification to destroy Libya, the same pretext used to organise a proxy war against Syria. Such claims have become a consistent theme of US intervention across the Middle East.
This article will explore the repercussions the war against Syria will have on that country and the wider region. These repercussions go beyond the interests of removing an anti-Washington government from power in Syria, of isolating Iran or of consolidating Israel’s security; they incorporate a drive to dominate the resources of Central Asia. But how consistent or successful has been Washington’s strategy on Syria?Continue reading →
Italian anti-globalization activists from La Terra dei Padri bring together Nuova Resistenza – Italia and their own cadre for a presentation from CSS Director J. Flores
n May 6th, 2017 at la Terra dei Padri in Modena, Italy, Joaquin Flores gave a presentation on one of the most discussed – yet least understood – topics in contemporary politics, one that in so many reveals the importance of the nexus between the People and the geopolitical space in which the People dwells – Populism. The presentation focused on the differences between the varying types of populist ideologies and movements in East and West, grounding the discussion in a series of relevant examples of respective practical, contemporary manifestations.
Although, etymologically speaking, the term “Populism” dates back to Roman times, the subjects of the presentation were the modern and contemporary movements emanating from the popular uprisings that stemmed from 1848.
The idea, broken down to its bare essentials, is that – in spite of sharing the same, politically loaded term – Liberal and Communitarian Populism occupy opposite ends of the economic, cultural, and political arena. Continue reading →
The Center for Syncretic Studies is honored to present our Russian colleague, Dr. Eduard Popov’s recent article featured in the journal Post-Soviet States: 25 Years of Independent Development published under the editorship of the famous expert on the South Caucasus and Doctor of Historical Sciences, Alexander Krylov (Moscow) from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. We thank Dr. Krylov for generously allowing us the opportunity to translate and publish this article by Popov, supplemented and updated specifically for the Center for Syncretic Studies and Fort Russ. This article is based on the findings of expert and sociological surveys conducted by the author in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in 2015-2016 mainly among the military, political, and business elites of both republics, as well as among trade union members.
Russian Spring: The Socio-Political Dynamics of the Donbass Independence Movement
he rise of the protest movement in Donbass (and other regions of historical Novorossiya) which resulted in the proclamation of the People’s Republics, was a reaction to the coup d’etat in Kiev and aggressive Russophobic policies. It is no accident that the first legislative step of the new Ukrainian authorities was abolishing the language law, ratified in 2003 by the Verkhovna Rada in line with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which effectively pushed the Russian language out of the educational and cultural-information space of Ukraine. However, the popular movement in Donbass at the end of winter and spring 2014 also had deeper motives. The proclamation of the people’s republics of Donbass was a logical reaction to the dismantling of Ukrainian statehood as it had been formed in the framework of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The new Ukrainian authorities violated the tacit social contract of loyalty to the existing state in exchange for a guaranteed minimum of cultural-linguistic rights for the regions of the “South-East” (historical Novorossiya).Continue reading →