A Sober View on the US-YPG Affair
By: Paul Antonopoulos – CSS Project Director; MENA and Latin America Research Fellow.
The following is a sample preview of a much larger article that appears in Volume 5 of Journal for Eurasian Affairs.
he most confusing aspect of the Syrian conflict has been the response from most of the Western Left and anti-imperialist organisations. Whereas most post-colonial states and their respective Leftist Parties, as well as former Soviet states, have supported the Syrian government from the onset of the war, the majority of Western Leftist groups, with the exception of a small number of non-Trotskyite communist organisations, have supported reactionary militant groups in Syria.
The Western Left look at the war in Syria as an internal revolution by progressive forces to overthrow a brutal dictatorship, while the majority of the Left in post-Colonial states recognise the external factors and imperial ambitions occurring in Syria. Whereas the Western Left masquerades as anti-imperialist, they refuse to acknowledge imperialistic designs on Syria from the United States, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. For this reason, it is only ample that they are referred to as the “Imperial Left”.
As most of the Imperial Left in the West do not have historical memories of being colonised by imperial powers, they generally view the world through the paradigm of only a class struggle between Capitalists and Workers. Therefore, with the eruption of the Syrian War, they failed to acknowledge the external factors at play and believed it to be a Workers’ struggle against a dictatorship that tolerated a bourgeois class. This simplistic view of not acknowledging external factors also meant the Imperial Left’s support for the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi. It is through this simplistic mechanism that the Imperial Left apply their White Saviour Complex and view the post-colonial world as consisting of two types of people – dictators and victims. Continue reading
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
By: Paul Antonopoulos and Drew Cottle
Originally published as a Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies Research Paper (CCHS RP 4/17)
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
By: Padraig McGrath
Introduction: To understand why ‘scientism’, (the contemporary vulgarization of ‘the’ scientific method), exists in a perpetual state of cuspness – promoting the view that scientific inquiry is always seemingly ‘on the cusp’ of a final and absolute answer or truth – Gadamer’s ‘Horizon’ metaphor has yet another practical application. Gadamer put’s forward this metaphor in his development of Heidegger’s philosophical hermeneutics as articulated in the latter’s 1927 masterpiece ‘Being and Time.’ The utility of Gadamer’s metaphor goes beyond textual analysis and has application in multiple broad fields. Beyond a criticism of the possibility of applying the same vulgarized scientific method used in the physical sciences to the social sciences and humanities, these criticisms indeed may apply to the physical sciences themselves, which then asks us to make inquiries towards the viability of a revised epistemology. Marxist and later syncretic systems are also raised in relation to how the above is problematized. This allows us to see through a dialectical materialist lens how the ideological abuse of science in the contemporary Occident has not only an economic but also a geostrategic function – J. Flores
n his 1960 magnum opus “Truth and Method” (“Wahrheit und Methode”), Hans-Georg Gadamer attempts to develop a theory of how we might be able to rescue overarching norms from the flux of history. To this end, Gadamer employs his famous “horizon”-metaphor. Gadamer’s idea is that one starts from a certain time and place inside history, and that as one learns and experiences more and more, the individual continuously approaches the horizon (the borders of ones worldview, the delimitations of ones culturally set-up version of reality, etc).
But as one continuously approaches the horizon, something strange becomes noticed – the horizon itself keeps moving farther away.
No matter how much one learns, history is never transcended. A terminus called “objectivity” is never reached. One remains forever embedded in “the history of effect” (“Wirkungsgeschichte”). Gadamer remains one of the twentieth century’s foremost exponents of German historicism.
Gadamer’s horizon-metaphor is applicable, not only to the discourse of history-culture-ethics-politics, but also to the natural sciences.