The Eternal Return: Mircea Eliade’s Homo Religiosus and the Cognitive Science of Religion

CSS research fellow Jafe Arnold speaks at Amsterdam religious studies conference 

sealBy: Jafe Arnold

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On 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

Populism from the Left and the Militarization of Europe

An Interview with Czech Communist Ideologist Josef Skala 

Small Logo By: Dr. Eduard Popov and Alexander Gegalchiy – translated by Jafe Arnold 

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502377n 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 

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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

People’s Republics: Summating the Donbass Socio-Political and Economic Experience

Small Logo By: Eduard Popov – translated by Jafe Arnold

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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.

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Russian Spring: The Socio-Political Dynamics of the Donbass Independence Movement

old-english-calligraphy-alphabet-the 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

CSS participates in conference: “History and Perspectives of Cooperation between Slavic Countries”

SealBy: Jafe Arnold – CSS liaison to Poland

CSS participates in conference: “History and Perspectives of Cooperation between Slavic Countries”

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Photo credit: Tomasz Trump

On December 10th in Wroclaw, Poland, the Association for Poland-East Cooperation hosted an interdisciplinary conference entitled “History and Perspectives of Cooperation between Slavic Countries.” Organized by the Grunwald Patriotic Workers Union, the conference brought together a diverse range of scholars, activists, and organizations to discuss the many facets of historical and contemporary ties between the Slavic states of Eurasia. The Center for Syncretic Studies was represented at the event by its Poland-based researcher and liaison Jafe Arnold.

The broad subject of the conference was matched by the equally broad spectrum of participating individuals and organizations. The organizing group, the Grunwald Patriotic Workers Union, is itself one of the handful of initiatives that have appeared on the Polish political scene over the past few years with the aim of bridging the gap between “right” and “left” in approaching the issues of national sovereignty and social justice in Poland. Grunwald’s representatives opened the conference specifically by referencing the need to approach the history and prospects of cooperation between Slavic peoples from a variety of perspectives. The end goal was declared to be the constructive affirmation of Poland’s past with an eye to collaborating on envisioning a sovereign future for the country currently subject to US-NATO occupation. Grunwald was joined in this endeavor by representatives of the political party Zmiana, the Center for Sustainable Development, the Association for Poland-East Cooperation, the Faithful to Sovereign Poland Association, Falanga, the Center for Syncretic Studies, the All Slavs Committee, and a number of guest professors from Polish universities.  Continue reading

The Russian Spring in Donbass

War and Statecraft in the Donetsk People’s Republic 

flag-novorossiya2.jpg By: Dmitry Muza – translated by Jafe Arnold

Dmitry Evgenyevich Muza is a doctor of philosophical sciences, a correspondent-member of the Crimean Academy of Sciences, a professor at the Department of Sociology at Donetsk State University of Management, a professor at the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy at Donetsk National University, and the co-chairman of the Izborsk Club of Novorossiya (Donetsk People’s Republic)

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Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 20.57.26y including the processes and event-related phenomenon “Russian Spring,” “war,” and “statecraft” in the title of this article, I am by no means implying any kind of intellectual provocation or attempting to realize a political order. On the contrary, the intended position here can be associated with the existence of millions of people who have in one way or another engaged (during wartime) in the creation of a completely distinct region, a will and fate of more than just one century tied to the fate of the Russian world.

Proposed below is a feasible analysis of three interrelated events: the “Russian Spring” in Donbass, the war [1], and attempts at state-building, each of which deserves separate reflection and evaluation from the position of both an “internal” and “external” observation.

All of these factors, I believe, are tied to an immanent logic which can be articulated as a centripetal process of reintegrating Donbass into the Russian civilizational, i.e., Russian-Eurasian, Orthodox space.[2]

In addition, a general exposition of what is happening in Donbass and with Donbass today requires some clarification of the region’s pre-crisis state. Such a clarification concerns both the recent and distant past directly associated with the region under consideration. By going through these layers of history, I intend to show the composition of Donbass in relation to the larger Russian civilizational space. 

First of all, it is necessary to recall that the now forgotten regional referendum of March 27th, 1995 in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions was intended to restore socio-economic ties with the Russian Federation and enshrine the Russian language as a regional one in functional norms. Of no small importance is that this referendum was consistent with the Ukrainian law “On all-Ukrainian and local referendums,” but was still ignored by Ukrainian authorities. Secondly, it was Russian Donbass that accounted for the electoral base of Presidents Kuchma and Yanukovych who flirted with the ideas of closer integration with Russia and the Russian language (granting it a special status). Thirdly, there were considerable expectations surrounding the post-Maidan congress in Northern Donetsk in November of 2004 which expressed the region’s collective will on establishing genuine federalization, including economic autonomy for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Fourthly, it is important to emphasize that the significance of the recent “Euroregion Donbass” project which involved the Rostov, Belgorod, and Voronezh regions from Russia and the Donetsk and Lugansk provinces from Ukraine entailed tightening their cooperation, albeit with European investments and guidance. Continue reading