Drunk and Disorderly: Random Thoughts on the Joys of Ranterism, and other topics
For white English or American readers of this blog, a question.
Who went to church this morning? Go on, own up. Nobody?
Coming home on the bike I passed the Catholic church on the corner of my block (West Earlham). Everyone was of Indian origin, speaking Indian languages! In white Norwich! Not a white Caucasian in sight.
This morning I was up extremely early, and at first light I was worshipping at the church of my allotment, one hundred and twenty five square yards of rented land, delighting in the alchemy of all life.
Then, I went picking up windfall apples (mostly Bramleys), and gathered 150lb of different varieties, which I moved on my bike trailer in an old plastic water tank back to my friend Ruth’s place. I am so tired now that I have to go back to bed. I’ve been up since 4am, and I’ve had three hours’ sleep. What the hell. Sleep it off, baby. It’s a Sunday!
I rang a friend, a local poet, and he put me in touch with a local cider maker with a press, out in rural Norfolk, in Old Buckenham. My friend John and I plan to turn the apples into ten gallons of cider and sour the cider to make ten gallons of cider vinegar.
Religious views are a very tricky area, are they not? The two things one is not supposed to discuss in polite English society are religion and politics. It is clear that I do not have the manners of an Englishman, since I talk about both. My nom de guerre Abiezer Coppe gives his views on the Christian religion here: (see attachment below).
I have been at times a marxist atheist, a marxist agnostic, and a marxist with Christian leanings ( rejecting the Christian church’s dogmas, but keeping the ethical content of Jesus’ teaching: see philosopher Slavoj Zizek on St Paul).
In the next phase of my life I shall explore a marxist gnosticism, marrying the rational materialist dialectic of Marx, to the otherwordly insights of the Christian gnostics, starting with Valentinus (3rd Century AD). I am in good company, with the German marxist Ernst Bloch, and the early modern gnostic revolutionaries, who include the English Ranters. Of course Islam has a gnostic tradition, and so does Judaism.
Philosophical materialists will throw their hands up in despair at this wish, on the part of a marxist, to explore gnosticism. I acknowledge that the beliefs of the Christian gnostics belong to the irrational. They believe that the world was created by an evil spirit.
Perhaps the spirit’s name is Capital…the creator and destroyer of worlds, the evil arbiter of destinies….the Vampire Marx whom described in Volume One of Capital.
Buddhism is gnostic in its very essence, and also godless in the sense that the monotheisms understand God, especially in the purer, simpler meditative practices such as Vipassana. Much Buddhism in the contemporary world has, sadly, become religion, complete with deities.
That is fine: people love ritual, and prayer lifts the spirit, but I am unconvinced that the many varieties of Mahayana Buddhism today represent well what the Siddhartha Gotama himself taught. The Buddha’s teachings go deeper than those of marxism, evidently, and aim to eradicate the cause of all suffering in the mind.
That is the goal of all gnosis, as I understand it, and its starting point is self-knowledge, a vital area of research for every individual on the planet, and an area where marxism offers no pointers, no route map to the Self and its antechambers. Jung’s work was also a gnosis. Gnosis is unavoidable: it is everywhere!
Ernst Bloch (1885-1977), to whom I have alluded above, was also a kind of marxist gnostic. True, he was a Stalinist, too, but Stalinism is not the main thrust of his remarkable magnum opus on Hope, Das Prinzip Hoffnug, or of his biography of the 15th Century revolutionary peasant leader, Thomas Munzer, which I found in French translation.
Spiritual search: should I give it up entirely? I have tried the Cheshire Cat Buddhists at the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (I swear they all had the same smile) but they gave me the creeps, as every religious group does in my experience.
Experiential spirituality is the only type I can connect to: I learned Vipassana meditation once. Ten day silent retreats in Herefordshire, no speaking, no eye contact: it takes a lot to discipline a wild mind. I’ve always been poor, and even the poor can afford it: I gave service instead of cash, and went back and worked in the kitchens on another retreat.
Vipassana is good, a very demanding practice, and it works, but who wants to spend two hours a day sitting on their arse meditating? Only the very dedicated. It certainly chills one out as nothing else does, the ten day retreat. One comes out feeling clean, really clean. I also did Vipassana retreats in France, West of Auxerre in the Puisaye, and in Spain, near Girona in Catalonia.
A good friend of mine called L–a came on a Herefordshire retreat with me (I drove my totally illegal French taxed, French MOT’d and French insured Citroen BX from Norwich to Herefordshire and back, and around on the roads of the UK for 2 years, and the police never stopped me once).
She’d smoked dope and tobacco, and drank alcohol all her life. After the 10 day retreat she just stopped, without even a struggle. No alcohol, no drugs, no tobacco. She just didn’t want them anymore.
Buddha was really onto something, then. Buddhism is a practical spirituality centred on the practice of compassion, and the meditative practices of Buddhism actually render one more compassionate. It can’t be a bad thing.
I’ve met atheists and marxists who are – or seem – spiritual, and plenty of Christians who are not. It’s about the being, the beingness of the person, the kind of love they put forth into the world. I am very sensitive to that energy. I’ve met Muslims with a spiritual energy to die for!
Spirituality is? – taking the risk in every moment to be honest, to connect with other beings (it might be a frog, my favourite amphibian) and live and love from my deepest sense of whom I am, from my wild and untamed self. And damn the consequences.
Frankly I do not know what spirituality is. When I have discussed the word with comrades, they dismiss the very vocabulary out of hand. Must it include an otherworldly dimension? Must it include the emotional solace that we are not, in fact, dust upon the wind, that we are not made of such stuff as dreams are made of? In the beginning was the Idea, and of course this leads straight into philosophical idealism, the trend in modern thought that V I Lenin took on in his book (can any philosopher take it seriously?) Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1908). I read it, of course, but then I am no philosopher. I much preferred Lenin’s Philosophical Notebooks on Hegel (1916), a copy of which I pored over for years.
They are much more subtle than the frontal assault of the earlier work.
It is difficult for us, this directness, this unapologetic authenticity of being. We were trained otherwise in our culture. We are English. We are fairly shy. We like dissimulation and subterfuge; it is what, as a nation, we are more comfortable with; at least in the chattering classes, the middle classes. I can only speak for my own class, and I am not Jay Griffiths, though I admire her guts.
I am more comfortable with Latins, personally, than the emotionally repressed public school Englishman (I’ve been there. I did that. I went to a small private boarding school in Suffolk for six years = emotional damage!). WYSWYG: What You See Is What You Get, in my experience with people of Latin extraction.
If they don’t like you they come straight out with it. I respect that. In fact, seriously, who would WANT to live any other way once the inner wild being in each of us is brought to light? Who then would settle for the psychic equivalent of suburbia?
Read Wild: An Elemental Journey, by Jay Griffiths, to get an idea of what we have lost touch with, our mammalian, our animal nature, our inner wild being. Once we were wild beings, too. (http://www.alice-wonderland.net/jay%20griffiths/wild03.htm)
“Wild: An Elemental Journey” is a MAGNIFICENT book, and the woman has bags of courage, lots of “cojones”, as the Spanish say. Maybe we need to “re-wild” ourselves a bit (if a return to barbarism is all that’s in the offing, barring a socialist revolution: Socialism or Barbarism, Rosa Luxemburg), like Jay, sing from the rooftops, dance naked, and masturbate on a rock in the sun, as Jay describes doing in her book: she was doing a bit of Deep Ecology that day, connecting with nature, basking like a tiger in the sun and giving her all to the big O.
Her account is in the book. People are rarely so frank. In fact she was intensely lonely, in a wild place, far from human company. The orgasm brought her back to her sense of self, and reconnected her with her surroundings. Orgasm as sacramental act: I like it.
Spirituality is not about going to church, we know this, and it is not about which imaginary friend you have chosen to be your companion; Allah, God, Yahweh, Ahura Mazda or Krishna: it’s about love, love and respect for yourself, love and respect for your neighbours too, all your neighbours, even the little frogs who come and visit me when I am harvesting the vegetables I have grown.
Social revolutions are carnivals of bacchanalia, festivals of the spirit and festivals of the oppressed (Lenin), explosions of creativity and joy (it is not nice being oppressed, is it? It is often fearful, too): or they are boring barracks socialism, and end in Five Year Plans, the Fulfilment of Quotas, the Meeting of Production Targets, and the ruination of nature. And ultimately, a return to capitalism, consumerism, conformity and fear: China now.
So revolutionary politics must include this spirit, as it will inspire the people of this land to rise against their oppressors, and strengthen their hand. Leftist political parties can be hard work emotionally! I didn’t see much joy and revolutionary fun in the 1970s British Communist Party: it was a bit dour, a bit too serious, and very English. I did not see us winning many converts to the Good Old Cause, either. In fact, as we know now, the Western Communist Parties were in terminal decline.
Yet there was also a real warmth among the comrades. We were en route for a better future, or so we thought…And when we stood up at District meetings and sang Jerusalem, by William Blake, it warmed my heart to sing the words of the greatest English gnostic poet, just as singing the Internationale in French to anyone who will listen does now.
Which Communist country kills 600,000 workers a year from overwork, and has a flexible working day of anything between 20 and 35 hours? China, the West’s new slave empire that produces all our electronic goodies. Someone died of exhaustion on a production line somewhere in China making my laptop…that thought does cross my mind (more here on Chinese workers: https://jacobbauthumley.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/e-pur-si-muove-and-yet-it-moves/).
I still identify as a marxist, but as a marxist feminist gnostic, which is totally unacceptable to the comrades! I have “done” the Communist Party (CPGB, PCF), done the Socialist Workers (SWP), but I couldn’t hack it, organised male marxist politics (yawn…), so these days I work for the Green Party, campaign for them, but I won’t join. I have stopped being a joiner.
At least the UK Green Party do not have the one thousand hang-ups about the Soviet Union that the Communists had, and all the bloody coded language… They mean the things they say, too….it’s prefigurative politics, of the type I’ve always believed in. You carry the changes you want to see into your personal life. If one has rubbed shoulders with Stalinists for several years, as I have without ever being one of them, one will know how refreshing that is.
Where is the libertarian marxist feminist gnostic party?
That’s what I want to know. I haven’t seen one yet. When I do I’ll sign up.
I struggle with the materialist epistemology of marxism. I have had a go at being a philosophical materialist, read the books (back in the day it was Maurice Cornforth, now completely and deservedly forgotten, and Emile Burns) but found it kind of miserable…back in the day I read a lot of marxists. Perhaps it is the lack of emotional solace in philosophical materialism that makes it so unattractive. We are mammals, part of the mammalian order, and yet, because of the our high intelligence, we wish to believe that are eternal, that we transcend our animal nature and death. Unlikely, is it not?
The only marxists I could go for, apart from Marx himself, were the outliers, the non-conformists like Ernst Bloch, a German Marxist who wrote a thousand page book about dreams, day dreams, hope and the place of utopia in the human imagination (Hope The Principle, 3 vols). Bad marxists, utopian dreamers, and libertarians, like Anton Pannekoek and his little book Lenin and Philosophy, William Morris and his novel of a socialist England redolent of the Middle Ages, News From Nowhere.
Nowhere is where I live – the name of Utopia!
Philosophical materialism, in the forms in which I have encountered it, rules out as inexistent that which palpably exists!
I have yet to meet a marxist, for example, who takes homeopathic medicine at all seriously, and I trained as a homeopath, so I know it works (https://jacobbauthumley.wordpress.com/homeopathy-is-nonsense)! They parrott the standard line. One would think that a revolutionary would have had a little more insight than that. If I had breast cancer, for example, a homeopath would be my first port of call. See Dr A U Ramakrishnan’s work in that area: consistent success across many types of cancer, with five year follow-ups, and none of the extreme toxicity and immune devastation of chemotherapy.
Mr Abiezer Coppe was, I imagine, a Christian gnostic sans le savoir, and inspired William Blake, who I think knew he wrote in the gnostic tradition (see historian E P Thompson’s last book, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law, which is a brilliant study).
That is why I identify with Blake, too, and especially with The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793), a text on the dialectic before Marx and Hegel. It is a lot more fun to read than Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach, too! I like them both, but it is in reading Blake’s words that the imagination takes flight and soars…
The English Ranters rejected all forms of spiritual, sexual and religious authority, and insisted that the only church was the human body. They were good men, religious anarcho-communists before communism, and more libertarian than Gerard Winstanley’s more puritanical Diggers, the only other Commies on the block at the time.
The Ranters had a endearing habit of preaching naked (if their enemies are to be believed) in the open air, on heaths, and drinking ale and fornicating at religious meetings. Very endearing. The Ranters did not believe in sin. Ranter women are said to have looked for sin in men’s codpieces, and on being unable to find any, declared there was none. That’s a kind of healthy materialism I like. So they didn’t believe in that superstitious shit the Church teaches, either, the Virgin Birth, Original Sin, and, as they celebrated sexuality in a sacramental way, the Ranters would not have been vulnerable to the sexual abuse resulting from the Christian, especially Catholic, strictures on the priesthood.
The Ranters were not feminists, but you can’t have everything, and in any case, who was a feminist in 1650? Ranters believed everything should be held in common, including women; they weren’t keen on the legal union of marriage and, I guess, just as in the 1960s, these 17th Century anarcho-hippie Ranter men enjoyed their sexual revolution and their sexual libertarianism while Ranter women got pregnant, had the babies, and were left holding them on the heaths of England, bereft of the men who had sired them. Maybe the Ranter males were indeed “only around for the conception”. Nothing new there, then!
So much for sexual liberation in 1650s England. Did they know about satisfying a woman in bed?
Funnily enough a feminist historian (Alison Smith) of early modern England told me that that there was a generally held view at the time that if a woman did not have an orgasm during sex with a man, then she could not conceive. So, in the beliefs of the time, no female orgasms equalled no babies…Quite progressive in a sense….but I hope they did not think that this amounted to a form of contraception! Any condom historians here please?
English Ranterism and the Digger movement represented a political dead end. With the Cromwellian Thermidor of the English Revolution after 1649, and the general persecution and ostracism of the Ranters, a lot of them recanted their beliefs, including Abiezer Coppe, stopped railing against the rich (one of their specialities!) and settled down to become Seekers, or Quakers (who are very much in the Gnostic lineage – no priests, no service, no dogmas, no crap, just the Inner Light of Not-God, etc…but petit bourgeois politically) or even Muggletonians…see E P Thompson’s book on William Blake (1993) for more. He interviewed the last surviving English Muggletonian. How about that?
More on the Ranters below:
https://jacobbauthumley.wordpress.com/why-i-love-the-english-ranters-i/ Discussion of the Ranter historical context, and Ranter views.
https://jacobbauthumley.wordpress.com/why-i-love-the-english-ranters-ii/ – Extracts from the writings of Abiezer Coppe
My comments, writing as Abiezer Coppe, on Christianity and gnosticism: http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/whats-a-smart-guy-like-you-doing-in-a-religion-like-that/
Wow! Really? I read somewhere that the first condoms in England were made of catgut, but I haven’t yet traced a date of first use. My hunch is that even in Elizabethan England, more than 50 years before the Ranters, they would have known ways of stopping the babies coming.
October 18, 2010 at 8:40 AM
I don’t know why anybody would want to or admit to being a Communist.
All the countries that adopted the Communist socialist system fail and those that go to a market economy there poverty rates decrease.
Look at how many people in China the poverty level has decreased since the initiated market reforms during the 90′s.
You don’t even need to use different countries and people as an example look at West and East Germany during the Cold War and North and South Korea today.
The Communist system was doomed to failure because that’s what it was intended for a system of control supported and financed by the wealthiest capitalist banking families and firms in the world.
Thank you, John, for that comment on my ramblings, which are certainly not an example of theoretical rigour! Alex Callinicos would be disgusted if he read them! I hope he doesn’t….!
I have not been a Communist, as in a Communist Party member, for nearly twenty years, and that was only briefly, as the organisation disintegrated around me, and moved steadily to the Right.
Robert Lindsay has dealt over and over again with the positives (and negatives) of actually existing Communism in pre-1990 Europe, and I am not going to go over old ground if you continue to query his conclusions.
With respect, John, I am not very impressed with your grasp of geopolitics, or of what socialism means, or of what Communism represented, but I do not propose to educate you single-handed, as you may well be beyond help! Your prose never makes any sense, either. Your last paragraph, for example: I don’t know what the hell it means!
Are you Labour, John, or something else more sinister, like a National Bolshevik?
I stopped being an organised Communist in 1978, when, with a lot of other people at the time, I quit
the French Communist Party, after the defeat of the Union de la Gauche in the 1978 elections, and I didn’t go near the Communist Party again until 1990 (great sense of timing – NOT! The organisation was in the final stages of its total disintegration), when I rejoined. During the 1990s the democratic Left, as they renamed themselves, moved so far to the Right they were roughly on the same place in the political spectrum as the Liberal Party. Some of them joined Demos, a loosely Liberal thinktank, in the non-party sense.
There is a saying about ex-Communists that is true: that after excommunication, expulsion (I was expelled from the Young Communist League) or quitting, they ” refuse even to join the conversation” and worse, can become anti-Communists, which happened to more than a few: John Reid of the Labour Party, for example.
That did not happen to me: I continued to be involved with the CND, active in Friends of the Earth, active in Chile Solidarity, and supportive of sisters in the Women’s Movement. In 1983 the Labour Party brought a relatively (for them) radical and unilateralist manifesto, I joined Labour briefly, but the experience was so disillusioning I lasted a matter of months, long enough to see their worst defeat ever, under the leadership of Michael Foot.
I originally joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in the spring of 1976, a the age of 20, having considered the alternatives at the time, the Labour Party, the International Marxist Group, the anarchists and the International Socialists, Tony Cliff’s lot.
I hung out a lot at Uni with the anarchists, the IS and the Trotskyists because I got on better with them on a personal level than the tankies (people who supported the outrageous Soviet invasion of the Czechoslovak republic, and they were much more irreverent that the po-faced CP. But I didn’t think much of their politics, apart from the IMGs stance on the Soviet Union.
I knew it was some kind of tyranny, but I didn’t know what…have you heard of General Pyotr Grigorenko and his Union of Leninists (1963)?
Grigorenko had founded the group to encourage Soviet workers to rise and recreate the “norms of Leninist democracy” (if they existed at all, they were strangled in the aftermath of the Civil War, and by the end of the twenties, the Russian Revolution was moving in a distinctly conservative direction).
I defended Grigorenko in the party branch and wrote to the CPGB Central Committee asking them to campaign for his human rights. Of course, silence was all I got for a reply from the Central Committee.
I took charge of education in the party branch, and the first educational I ever gave them was on Trotsky, pretty much a taboo subject in the CP of the 1970s.
I also read at Uni Ante Ciliga’s (Yugoslav Communist) book on the Soviet Union under Stalin, The Russian Enigma (highly recommended: he defends the thesis that, by the end of the 1920s, the Soviet Union had become a State Capitalist country, not a thesis I agreed with, by the way, but in other respects it was an eye opening book on Stalinism). Ciliga’s obituary here:
I was a lousy, lousy Communist, John, always asking too many questions, and as rebellious and insubordinate as hell. I’m surprised the CPGB did not follow the lead of the YCL and expel me, as well. One of the first marxist books I ever read, at the age of 18, was Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution (1933. I think you should read it), swiftly followed by his book The Revolution Betrayed (1936. I think you should read that, too).
When the UK and the US invaded Iraq in 2003, I got so mad I joined the Socialist Workers’ Party, the only game in town by then apart from the Labour Party (I hope you are clever enough to figure out that they are miles away from the Communist Party politically), and went to their Marxism week in the summer of 2004, where I had a really great time. I even got up and spoke at a session on LGBT politics (what are they, John? Answers by email…). The Green Party in 2004 must have been small, locally. I did not even notice them.
I went to another SWP Marxism in 2008, I think, but only for a couple of sessions, as I was working and couldn’t get away for several days. I remember speaking after Ghada Karmi speech on Palestine. Things were bad in Palestine then, but they are much worse since the destruction of Gaza. I actively support the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and I hate anti-semites. If I could eat anti-semites for breakfast, I would, but I’m not a cannibal, not yet.
I celebrated the fall of Communism in 1990 – who didn’t at the time?
All the Left did, bar the hardline Stalinists.
I naively believed that the fall of Communism would lead to a “springtime of the peoples” and a revival of the workers’ movement in the East. It didn’t happen. The most that can be said is that, 20 years on, some Eastern Bloc countries remain relatively egalitarian, like Belarus and the Czech Republic, for example. Obviously these countries didn’t choose free market capitalism, and have fared much better in the current world crisis of capitalism than countries like Poland, which adopted monetarist economic polices and deregulation of the Labor market. Poland now has 20% unemployment, and 2 million Poles have come to the UK looking for a better life. I take it that Poland is a capitalist success story, is it, John.
Free market policies in many countries of the Eastern Bloc during the 1990s led to a huge disaster for the people of that region, especially in Russia, with rocketing infant and adult mortality rates, homelessness, massive unemployment as huge swathes of Soviet industry closed down, a massive rise in the levels (already high) of alcoholism, and so on.
Things are stabilising a bit under the iron hand of the nationalist Putin, whose leadership has some eery paralells that of Stalin, a much greater political figure, of course. if i could read Russian I would definitely become a “Russia watcher”. Russia is a very incomplete bourgeois democracy, currently evolving in an authoritarian direction. Great. I still think that Russia has the potential to become a geopolitical giant in the 21st century, among the top three economies in the world (by 2030, China, the US and Russia, ranked by the size of their economy in that order). It currently ranks sixth, just behind Germany. For more on Russia, see the blogs of Dimitri Orlov (http://cluborlov.blogspot.com), and Anatoly Karlin (http://www.sublimeoblivion.com).
Readers of Robert Lindsay’s blog know that I am currently politically active supporting the UK Green Party, but I am skeptical about their capacity to deliver, too. Their manifesto is social democratic in content, and their outlook is reformist and parliamentarist.
Derek Wall represents the Left in the Green Party, but I don’t know what that stands for practically, or whether, within the UK Green Party, there are groups actively educating people in a marxist understanding of how the world works.
I haven’t met him yet, and don’t know how his views differ from those of the leadership, but i’ll give him the benfit of the doubt, for now. I enjoy his blog, which like a lot of Leftist blogs, does not seem to have many readers (Mr Robert Lindsay is the shining exception! Mostly because he is a very acute and perceptive commentator, with a very wide range of interests, and a great sense of humour and the absurd). Derek Wall is a marxist Sufi, by the way, and Sufism is a gnostic spiritual path within Islam. So I expect I’d find a lot of common ground with a fellow marxist gnostic…here is the web address of Derek Wall’s blog: (he can’t help it, but he ain’t Robert Lindsay!)
I am not a Communist, these days. The nearest I have ever come to seeing my personal political beliefs reflected in print was when I read Breaking the Boundaries: Toward a Green Feminist Socialism, by British sociologist, anthropologist and political economist Mary Mellor. I corresponded with her for a while, wrote an enthusiastic review of her book, and, 18 years after its publication, I still recommend it to people.
I support things like Climate Camp (Global warming exists, expansionist capitalism is repsonsible, and without system change we shall never get carbon emissions down. If we don’t get them down, we may as well kiss our collective ass goodbye as a species, and we shall take millions of other species with us when we go: what a way to go: The Sixth Extinction – Welcome to the Anthropocene! See my post Global Warming, above in the bar under the photo on my blog, jacobbauthumley for more on this, or check Robert’s posts for the first few days of September, 2010, and you will find a slightly shorter version.
I don’t see anything else apart from the UK Green Party on the British Left (I would welcome the disintegration of the British Labour party, as it would open up a space on the Left, but that is not going to happen) that I can support, certainly not the fractious SWP, who have been busy expelling part of their membership (now Counterfire: http://www.counterfire.org), or any of the other innumerable marxist grouplets, from the millenarian (the SPGB) to the ridiculous (the WRP).
October 18, 2010 at 3:23 PM
I know a lot more then you regarding geopolitics and Marxism which is a creation of British liberalism as a sinister means the overthrow the Russian government and install it with a genocidal regime who would kill and replace the Russian majority ruling it with hostile minorities with Jewish Pale of Settlement Marxists terrorists being in place of all the major state organisations lead by anti-Christ Leon Trotsky and there front man Vladimir Lenin who was a quarter Jewish and reported to have a Jewish wife.
With their BS Marxist philosophy using that as a vehicle to implement a policy to reduce the Russian majority population to a minority through social engineering with gay rights, open immigration, weakening of Russian national character and identity with enforced atheism, feminism, etc. and use Russia like the US and Britain used Afghanistan under the Taliban.
That was until Stalin and gradual nationalist resistance came to power.
They are doing the same thing today except only worse wanting to break apart Russia into 3 smaller states like the former Yugoslavia and independent US friendly states in key strategic regions of Russia.
George Soros who studied under Marxist Frankfurt School professor Karl Popper at the London School of Economics which he based his Open Society on Poppers teachings mostly runs the NGO’s that promote left wing causes in Russia and throughout Europe.
In regards to Russia today under Putin which I have been reading and researching for years especially Russia’s role in the NWO what he has achieved has been pretty amazing given that the NWO has thrown everything at him and Russia who he has successfully reasserted state sovereignty to the best of his ability given that most of Russia’s major companies are headquartered in British offshore tax havens and large sector of the Russian economy is under British/US/Israeli organised crime.
What a beautiful song, Ken; you have taste! “Where Do You Go To, My Lovely” by Peter Sarstedt is in my book one of the loveliest romantic songs ever committed to…was it vinyl, back then? And this is beautiful, too. Thank you! I’ll take my time, though, to mull over the possible meanings…
October 18, 2010 at 1:07 PM
Thank you, Jacob.
Have you ever opined on Troy Southgate and David Myatt?
Authentic Buddhism btw appears to be an elaboration on but not deviation from perennialism’s Ultimate Truth, Sanatana Dharma, i.e. Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta. The sectarians have largely abandoned its early absolute monism.
October 18, 2010 at 1:16 PM
More on politics Jacob. Is Gilad Atzmon an “anti-semite? What about Israel Shamir?
In regards to the sinister, as to the “sinister” aspects of National Bolshevism, are they similar to the “sinister” aspects of national communism
and/or of Stalinism, varying only by degree i.e. on a continuum?
Trotsky’s illusionary anti-national prioritization of “international working class”, to me application of such a premise politically automatically results
in the sinister.
Atzmon is an anti-semite, and he is currently turning into a fascist, if I am not mistaken. He now refers to “brother Hitler”. It gives me the creeps. Shamir is certainly an anti-semite, and a very good writer indeed. Read Shamir, by all means, there is more gold in him than in Atzmon.
I realised, when I met him this time, that it is possible that Gilad Atzmon suffers from an as yet undiagnosed mental health condition: NPD. Just so long as he continues to play the saxophone, and compose jazz as beautifully as he does, I shall continue to attend Gilad Atzmon’s concerts, as I did this month.
Of course I’v never been a Trotskyist, Ken. The idea that Stalin and National Bolshevism have something in common is gaining currency, I know. I think it is a dangerous delusion. I recognise Stalin’s greatness , in spite of the mass murders and the show trials.
Ken, I don’t know who these figures are. Buddhism is very big in California, is it not? I am familiar with Jack Kornfield (A Path With Heart). Does his teaching represent something to you?
By perennialism do you mean The Perennial Philosophy, something Aldous Huxley devoted a whole book to…?
Theravada Buddhism is certainly sectarian and monist, if I understand you correctly. I realized this when I recognized to what extent the followers of
S N Goenka, a Burmese Theravada teacher of Vipassana, are unwilling to engage, dialogue with, or even have anything to do with other expressions of Buddhism, which they simply regard as having deviated from the “true path” of Theravada.
There is something fossilized about the teaching of Vipassana in that form, too. But in itself it is a great meditative practice: I’ve found two books by American Vipassana meditation teacher Stephen Levine to be greatly enlightening.
I can only find one of them on my shelves at the moment: it is Who Dies: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. A beautiful book that, if I were to spend the rest of my life on a small island in the Pacific, I would take with me.
I shall recount a little anecdote here: I have used Who Dies with a dying person, to great effect. She was a woman who was dying, consciously, at home, an Osho follower for at least thirty years of her life.
She was in very great pain because she had black gangrene of both feet, necrosis both of the soft tissues and of the nerve endings, which burned like fire. No cure for it, of course.
Being someone who had a spiritual practice, she bore it with great fortitude, was alert, awake and never complained. I took her, very slowly, through Stephen’s meditation for terminal cancer patients in great pain, and sat and meditated with her.
After half an hour of the practice, together, she still had the pain, but no longer experienced it in the same way. As far as her mind was concerned, she was free of it, floating free, detached, and she said that it hardly hurt at all…All attachment to the pain gone, she felt free of it, although it was still there, because she was dying from the feet up. It was a lesson to me in the power of compassion, and the power of non-attachment.
October 18, 2010 at 2:18 PM
I’ve yet to meet a homeopath who took Marxism seriously, because people who believe in homeopathy are frankly a bit thick no?
The last time I voted Labour was in 1997; I voted Green until the last council elections when I vote No2EU (the CPB and some unions), and the last general election when I voted for my local Labour MP Martin Linton because he’s been outspoken for the Palestinians since he resigned from the government. I just feel no enthusiasm for the Greens at all. I don’t believe them. I don’t even think they’re ‘nice’ people. I subscribed to Red Pepper for about 5 years; it used to be passable if bland, some interesting articles amongst all the trendy babble. But the good stuff thinned out more and more.
Feminism is one of my big problems with the likes of Red Pepper and the Greens and the rest of what I call the ‘sissy left’. I want nothing to do with any organisation that gives a platform to feminists; and neither do the vast mass of ‘the people’, especially women, who loathe feminists. Women’s rights and concrete issues related thereto, fine! But feminism is something else – some fad of lesbian academics, as much relevant to class politics as Wiccanism, or homeopathy for that matter. If I go to a meeting, or open a paper, claiming to be left, I’d be pretty pissed off if a considerable amount of time and space was allotted to ‘ new trends in shotokan karate’ or some such, but because these people claim to speak on behalf of ‘wimmin’, (and because of course there is a healthy flow of funds from right-wing think-tanks to encourage their dispiriting ‘discourse’), and because the ‘left’ is composed largely of neurotic, nerdy, sissified half-assed, guilt-ridden, clueless, middle-class ( or aristos like Callinicos) surrender-monkeys, they just stick their ass in the air and scream ‘fuck me’ whenever some bull dyke barks at them – so the feminists elbow their way in.
I’ll only attend a political meeting now if it’s advertised that feminists may attend but not speak, and must wear paper bags over their heads.
October 18, 2010 at 2:34 PM
Theravada denies the soul Buddha did not.
Search Resultsoriginal buddhism website http://www.attan.com, page 1
Sep 23, 2009 … -Opposed to Theravada “no soul Buddhism” the author of attan.com states over and over again that the Buddha did believe in a Self/Soul and …
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread503994/pg1 – Cached
I hope it’s a good political meeting.
I expected you to hate my post. But you didn’t. I expect you are being polite, however. It is shit, isn’t it? What the flying fuck has gnostic obscurantism got to do with marxism-leninism? It’s completely incompatible.
Friedrich Engels is the type of feminist I am talking about, Lafayette.
The only type of feminism I agree with is equity feminism. Mary Mellor is a socialist first and last.
People do hate the type of feminists you’re talking about, and with good reason. Bourgeois feminists -like Germaine Greer are just media narcissists and academic nuisances. It’s up your arse and anti working class – hey, that rhymes, too.
Feminist marxism recognises two productive spheres, the sphere of reproduction and the sphere of production. That seems fair enough.
Whereas I found Mellor, the socialist feminist, perfectly clear and comprehensible, I find another feminist writer on economy and society to be execrable. I should have burnt her book, or used it to wipe my arse. It is Ecofeminism as Politics: nature, Marx and the postmodern, by Ariel Salleh, an Australian academic. I should have known from the word postmoden in the title, that it would be shite. And it is, unreadable shite as well. i couldn’t get past pae one.
“I’ve yet to meet a homeopath who took Marxism seriously, because people who believe in homeopathy are frankly a bit thick no?”
Harimohan Choudhury, a Bengali Marxist-Leninist of the CPI(M) was a practising medical homeopath and wrote a number of books, one of which is entitled Homeopathy and Dialectical Materialism. I don’t have my copy any longer. Philosophically, the pamphlet takes its cue from Stalin’s 1939 History of the CPSU(B) and Mao’s On Contradiction, pretty straight-down-the-line Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and shows that homeopathy does not need the external support of idealist philosophies, or God, to stand on its own two feet, and that it has a nice unity of theory and practice absent in the pragmatic chaos of conventional medicine.
I used to flourish Harimohan Choudhury in the face of all the bullshit I put up with at the College, New Age philosophies, Wiccans, people into the Kabbala, god knows what.
When you say homeopaths are thick – I take it you mean the non-medical, or lay homeopaths (you can’t be thick and qualify as a medical doctor) – I imagine you are referring to some of the belief systems that they buy into, and some of the ways they have of talking about what they do.
All very unconvincing, by and large. I gave up doing homeopathy over ten years ago, stopped working, did other stuff to make a living. Never made a living at homeopathy anyway. Four grand a year isn’t a living. I keep clear of local homeopaths: they embarrass me, intellectually in particular. Thick isn’t the word I’d use, though, they just have weird belief systems. I stopped reading Lenin while I was at College. One text I would really like to read is Stalin’s Problems of Leninism, 1924. It is possibly seminal in understanding the turn the Soviet Union took in the 1920s in order to survive as a socialist state.
Class background: I take it you’re working class, Glasgow born maybe? My dad was a self-employed silversmith, before that a painter in oils. He was upper middle class, I suppose, his dad a naval surgeon, who died when he was six. He was a example of the middle My mum left school at fourteen, and trained as a secretary. She was in the WRENS for ten years. Her dad was a onshore signalsman in the Navy, and moved around a lot, all over the UK, from Prawle in Devon to Thurso in the North of Scotland.
I have only ever done working class jobs, from factories to hospitals, plus a bit in adult education and self-employment as a homeopath. I’m feeling uncomfortable writing this stuff, but it’s the truth.
I’ve mostly worked, all my life, alongside people without any of the kind of privileges I had. I hated private school and never made any friends there. My schoolmates would turn up in their Daimlers, Mercs and Volvos and my dad would deliver me in old Morris Oxford that was always running out of petrol because he never got the fuel gauge fixed. I was there on a grant – a grant aided place, I believe.
I believe all private schools and all faith schools should be summarily abolished. One free State education service for everybody. One tiny step toward a less class ridden society.
My dad was one of the 1930s upper middle class Communist you are talking about, who haven’t got a clue. He was in the Surrey Communist party in the 193os. 50 years later, in 1978, it was the Surrey Straight Left group, led by Sid French, who left the CPGB to set up the NCP, eventually. They left because they realised the game was up with Eurocommunism, and the Party was going to self-destruct, which it did over the next 12 years. All this stuff is of no interest at all to American readers: apologies!
First impressions of the local Green party is that they are extremely, extremely middle class, and that there are no socialists in the local branch at all. Well spoken university graduated in suits and ties. I couldn’t join them for a moment. They’re embarrassed by words like Socialist and Communist.
October 18, 2010 at 4:26 PM
Sorry I haven’t the energy just now to respond to much of that, but this: ” homeopathy does not need the external support of idealist philosophies, or God, to stand on its own two feet, and that it has a nice unity of theory and practice absent in the pragmatic chaos of conventional medicine.” It doesn’t appear to need the support of evidence either. I’m not so sure it’s not possible to be thick and to be a doctor, or pass a lot of exams generally – you can go a long way on a reasonable memory, good exam technique, and certainly some application, though that sort of application can be a two-edged sword – the habit of ‘ getting the head down’ should ideally be balanced with the habit of ‘getting the head up’ – thinking critically. Certainly exams are a time-tested way of transmitting socially-useful skills, but as you’ve probably experienced yourself, you swot it up for the exam or the essay, and you’ve forgotten it the next day. And people who have to study a lot, especially doctors who have to do more than most, are often heartily sick of books (or just don’t have the time) and never open one again, and so, outside their area of expertise, may be just as prone as the uneducated to be taken in by slick snake oil vendors. Look at the New Age Body-Mind-Spirit scene; most of the people who lap this stuff up are highly educated .
But at the end of the day my feeling is that doctors who teach homeopathy are just plain charlatans.
Yes, I’m from Glasgow, by the way; working class but went to one of these state-aided ‘selective schools’. I suppose you’d call it a grammar school in England. Did Sociology and Psychology at Uni, but mostly just wasted my time and my head doing lots of acid; those were the days.
Agree with that: the NCP are useless, and so are all the others. So you’ve met this Jack Conrad fellow? Why did you call him peculiar? And the Labour party are a sight better than nothing, but Blairism has done Labour incalculable damage, and for the moment Labour is unelectable. I don’t look forward to ten years of the Tories. Expect 3.5 milion unemployed (officially) by the winter of 2012. See if I’m wrong.
A propos Palestine, you might want to weigh in on this debate, Lafayette, and explain why anti-semitism is a good thing to promote to fight Jewish nationalism with: http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2010/05/jews-are-8-times-over-represented-in-uk-parliament/
I’ve made four contributions to the discussion so far. Gilad Atzmon now refers to “brother Hitler”. Cool. He informed local Green Party members during the interval of a jazz concert his band gave in Norwich that Hitler had founded the Green Movement. People kind of backed away when he said that. He does sound increasingly deranged, these days.
You’re right about doctors, I’m afraid, yes. Most of what they do in training is rote learning. You need a really good memory, and a capacity for hard work, but need not be highly intelligent.
And I hate mind-body-spirit fairs! They make want to reach for a water cannon!
Thanks for the personal info. Are there any Glaswegian or Scottish novelists you’d recommend: the marxist sci-fi writer Ken Macleod, for example?
Go and read my homeopathy-is-nonsense post and take it from there. I haven’t the energy, either. In 1918 in the US there was a Spanish ‘Flu epidemic. Its natural mortality rate was 15%: 15% of all who got it, and remained untreated, died, usually from a rapid and extremely destructive pneumonia: I believe they called it fulminating pneumonia in the
day. People who were vulnerable died very quickly, in 24 to 48 hours.
A doctor called Dewey, W A Pearson, MD, studied the comparative mortality statistics for conventional treatment of the Spanish ‘flu, and conventional medical treatment of the same. There were a lot of active, medically trained homeopaths in the United States at the time.
Conventional treatment (over 24,000 cases of the Spanish ‘flu) : aspirin.
Mortality rate: 30%, double the natural mortality rate. 30% of 24,000 cases.
Homeopathic Treatment, (chiefly Gelsemium Sempivirens in this epidemic, and Rhus Toxicodendron, with occasional recourse to Baptisia Tinctoria if the case turned very septic):
Mortality rate: 1.05% over , 26,000 cases.
No evidence, right. Bollocks!
Placebo effect, obviously. The medical homeopaths who filed their cases reports were lying, obviously, all of them: more here – I’m going to paste the whole article in because hardly anyone in the States today is aware of this information:
The New England Journal of Homeopathy
Spring/Summer 1998, Vol.7 No.1
The following is an extract of the chapter on the influenza epidemic of 1918 from Julian Winston’s upcoming history of homeopathy book-which does not yet have a title. Watch these pages for a review when it does come out. ed
Influenza-1918: Homeopathy to the Rescue
by Julian Winston
It was called “the Great White Plague.” It is hard to imagine the devastation caused by the Flu Epidemic of 1918-19. People who lived through it reported that some one who was up and well in the morning could be dead by evening.
Dr. H. A. Roberts was a physician on a troop ship at the time. Another boat pulled alongside to get any spare coffins- it’s mortality rate was so high. On his return to port, the commander said to Roberts, “used all your coffins?” To which Roberts, who had been treating his ship with homeopathy, replied, “Yes, and lost not one man!”
The following is an extract from an article entitled “Homeopathy In Influenza- A Chorus Of Fifty In Harmony” by W. A. Dewey, MD that appeared in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1920.
Dean W. A. Pearson of Philadelphia collected 26,795 cases of influenza treated by homeopathic physicians with a mortality of 1.05%, while the average old school mortality is 30%.
Thirty physicians in Connecticut responded to my request for data. They reported 6,602 cases with 55 deaths, which is less than 1%. In the transport service I had 81 cases on the way over. All recovered and were landed. Every man received homeopathic treatment. One ship lost 31 on the way. H. A. Roberts, MD, Derby, Connecticut.
In a plant of 8,000 workers we had only one death. The patients were not drugged to death. Gelsemium was practically the only remedy used. We used no aspirin and no vaccines. -Frank Wieland, MD, Chicago.
I did not lose a single case of influenza; my death rate in the pneumonias was 2.1%. The salycilates, including aspirin and quinine, were almost the sole standbys of the old school and it was a common thing to hear them speaking of losing 60% of their pneumonias.-Dudley A. Williams, MD, Providence, Rhode Island.
Fifteen hundred cases were reported at the Homeopathic Medical Society of the District of Columbia with but fifteen deaths. Recoveries in the National Homeopathic Hospital were 100%.-E. F. Sappington, M. D., Philadelphia.
I have treated 1,000 cases of influenza. I have the records to show my work. I have no losses. Please give all credit to homeopathy and none to the Scotch-Irish-American! -T. A. McCann, MD, Dayton, Ohio.
One physician in a Pittsburgh hospital asked a nurse if she knew anything better than what he was doing, because he was losing many cases. “Yes, Doctor, stop aspirin and go down to a homeopathic pharmacy, and get homeopathic remedies.” The Doctor replied: “But that is homeopathy.” “I know it, but the homeopathic doctors for whom I have nursed have not lost a
single case.” -W. F. Edmundson, MD, Pittsburgh.
There is one drug which directly or indirectly was the cause of the loss of more lives than was influenza itself. You all know that drug. It claims to be salicylic acid. Aspirin’s history has been printed. Today you don’t know what the sedative action of salicylic acid is. It did harm in two ways. It’s indirect action came through the fact that aspirin was taken until prostration resulted and the patient developed pneumonia. -Frank L. Newton, MD, Somerville, Massachusetts
Aspirin and the other coal tar products are condemned as causing great numbers of unnecessary deaths. The omnipresent aspirin is the most pernicious drug of all. It beguiles by its quick action of relief of pain, a relief which is but meretricious. In several cases aspirin weakened the heart, depressed the vital forces, increased the mortality in mild cases and made convalescence slower. In all cases it masks the symptoms and renders immeasurably more difficult the selection of the curative remedy. Apparently aspirin bears no curative relation to any disease and it ought
to be prohibited. -Guy Beckly Stearns, MD, New York
Three hundred and fifty cases and lost one, a neglected pneumonia that came to me after she had taken one hundred grains of aspirin in twenty-four hours. -Cora Smith King, MD, Washington, DC
I had a package handed to me containing 1,000 aspirin tablets, which was 994 too many. I think I gave about a half dozen. I could find no place for it. My remedies were few. I almost invariably gave Gelsemium and Bryonia. I hardly ever lost a case if I got there first, unless the patient had been sent to a drug store and bought aspirin, in which event I was likely to have a case of pneumonia on my hands. -J. P. Huff, MD, Olive Branch, Kentucky.
In reading the accounts of the epidemic it seems that most of the deaths were caused by a virulent pneumonia that was especially devastating to those who depressed their system with analgesics-the most common being aspirin.
The Physician from whom I first learned homeopathy, Raymond Seidel, MD, HMD, said that he decided to be a homeopathic doctor during the flu epidemic when he was working as a delivery boy for a homeopath in New Jersey. Raymond Seidel told me that he decided to become a homeopathic doctor when he was a ten-year old delivery boy for a local homeopath. He said, “I saw that the people who were taking aspirin were dying, about half those who were drinking a lot were dying, and those that received homeopathic remedies were living.”
Yes, I know, 90 year old information. The conventional docs didn’t believe them then, the infromation quickly got buried, and they don’t believe Dr A U Ramakrishnan’s stats on cancer treatement, over many thousands of cancer cases, now. What to do? A skeptic is a skeptic is a skeptic: it doesn’t matter how much evidence you throw at them. It’s as bad as arguing the evidence for evolution with a religious believer: you are never, ever going to get anywhere. Nevertheless, I shall go to war with Dr Ben Goldacre and see if I can break down his defences. He’ll get really sick of me: oif that you can be sure. I am one persistent bastard: he doesn’t know who he is dealing with, yet.
Look at this long list of scientific references in support of homeopathy, for example, going back
to the 1920s: http://www.moleculardyne.com/
Scientific Research References Validating Homeopathy
Scientific Research References Validating
Homeopathy, Part II (expanded and ongoing list at http://www.Hpathy.com+ other articles)
Homeopathy Research Center
Dr. Quack’s Laser Reflection Experiments in Proof of Homeopathy.
He does an interesting, but rather gruesome LD50 type experiment with fish and chlorine bleach, which of course kills the fish, and then demonstrates how far fewer fish die when exposed to the Homeopathic medicine, which I suppose in this case is Chlorum, Chlorine Gas. It’s a highly repeatable, cheap experiment demonstrating the life saving efficacity of homeopathy, and the sort that lab techs love, because @ they get to kill animals and b) it’s repeatable ad infinitum until even the homeopathy skeptics have to throw up thier hands in despair and say:
“We can’t understand it, but far fewer fish exposed to the chlorine bleach are dying in the tanks to which the homeopathic potency of Chlorum has been added. We can’t understand it. We’ve run the fish bleach mortality experiment again and again, and the results still come out positive in favour of homeopathy doing something.” AND FISH DON’T BELIEVE IN HOMEOPATHY. NEITHER ARE THEY SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE PLACEBO EFFECT.
The 2005 Shang et al study in the Lancet, published as The End of Homeopathy, should never have been passed for publication. It was never peer reviewed, either…whoops! It is too late for me now to dig out a critique of the appallingly slipshod methodology of that tendentious paper. There is an earlier meta-analysis of double blind placebo controlled trials, dated 2000, I think, where homeopathy comes out better than the Lancet’s Shang et al paper, which is a piece of shit, in any case.
I have just bought myself a copy of Dr Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science, now the homeopathy sceptics bible, though there are others, such as Suckered (I am sure I shall agree with a lot of what Goldacre has to say) and when I have gone through his chapter on homeopathy with a fine toothcomb, I shall challenge his interpretations. I’ll probably have nothing but agreement with much of what he writes on the fake nutritionists, etc, New Age healers, etc. He’s a good man.
Gay State Girl
October 19, 2010 at 1:25 PM
Actually I have been attending different churches in Rutland, Vermont the past few months as there is nothing else to do in Vermont on weekends. They are mostly populated by older farmers as all the young people have left town. I find them very quaint and old world.
October 19, 2010 at 1:41 PM
Quaint and old world is preferable to modernist.
Jacob, you are not saying homeopathy advocates are necessarily on the left. Thomas Fleming, a paleocon with Chronicles expanded on his affinity therefore. It might not be on-line, as it was a long while ago.
You also said above spirituality is not going to church. Overly broad.It can be, for many people.
Ken, most homeopathy advocates on not on the Left. Far from it! Homeopaths are fierce individualists by nature: socialism is abhorrent to most of them, and marxism even more so.
The fellow above, at http://www.moleculardyne.com (excellent site by the way), who styles himself Dr Quack, is a GOP and Sarah Palin supporter. He has a terrific sense of humour, and he is obviously on a mission. His site is both hilarious and stuffed with great material on homeopathic medicine.
I’m regret that remark relating to spirituality and church.
I was being overpolemical and extreme. I adore medieval churches, I am a lapsed Protestant myself (Church of England) but I have been known to go to church myself, even in recent years. I love singing hymns in a congregation, I acknowledge that churches create a sense of community and social cohesion that is very important in these times, and I also admit to enjoying services and sermons. Some of the greatest sermons ever written can be found in the Collected Works of John Donne (1572-1631), one of my favourite poets, both religious and profane, in the English language: I cannot resist quoting here an early Donne poem, from the 1590s, for the pleasure and instruction of the American readership of Robert’s blog:
The Good Morrow
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I did,
Till we loved? Were we not weaned till then,
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
or snorted we in the seven sleepers’ den?
‘Twas so: but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If any beauty I did see,
Which I desire, and got, ’twas bit a dream of thee.
And now good morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
My face is thine eyes, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies was not mixed equally;
If our two lives be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die.
Although I have trouble with the central dogmas of the Protestant faith, which I believe is the dominant form of Christianity in the US as well (the most religious anglophone country as far as I can see – why are Americans so religious? Does Robert know? It would be a fascinating subject for a post…), I acknowledge that there is certainly spirituality within the church, I have met some wonderful priests in the C of E, one of whom has been a good friend to me (he is dead, now).
As I believe you have said yourself, for many people spirituality must take an institutional form if they to experience the sense of connection, joy, definition and moral anchoring that it gives to their lives. Ranterism did not last no doubt because it was very extreme, a kind of spiritual ultra-leftism, throwing out so many dogmas it is hard to say what they were left with.
Certainly Abiezer Coppe (1619-1672) was a great writer of prose, and his Fiery Flying Roll, which takes after the Book of Revelation, is available in a cheap paperback edition with other writings and worth a read (Abiezer Coppe, Selected Writings, Aporia Press, London 1987, intro Andrew Hopton, ISBN 0-948518-25-1. Price £2.95), if only because he belongs to that exalted style that one also finds in the 18th century poet, Christopher Smart, in the poem, For I Shall Consider My Cat Jeffrey, for example, which is wonderful.
The Leicestershire shoemaker Jacob Bauthumley (1613-1692) is another great prose writer in the Ranter tradition, but differs theologically from Coppe. Unlike Coppe, he is not apocalyptic in tone and, on the evidence his work The Light and the Dark Sides of God, another beautiful example of 17th Century English prose, is a Pantheist.
You know a great deal about Buddhism, Ken. Are you a Zen Buddhist, yourself? I have a small library of books on Buddhism at home, including some of the ancient texts in English translation, but I have so many books altogether that I have not got around to exploring them all the ones I have on Buddhist spirituality, including Jack Kornfield’s A Path With Heart and Sharon Salzberg’s A Heart As Wide As the World.
I have not heard of the two authors that you mention, above. I have just acquired a scholarly overview of world religions by Professor Ninian Smart (The World’s Religions, cambridge University Press), a large volume, and fascinating. It is my current reading.
I have not given the comparative study of the religious belief systems enough attention. When I have digested Ninian Smart’s capacious book, I may essay a piece for Robert on the religions of the world.
I am sure he would like that! There are religious faiths that I am drawn to: Christianity, for one. Sikhism is terrific, and so is Buddhism. I do not feel anything for Islam or Judaism. But I cannot be a religious whore…I shall certainly explore the links you sent me. Thank you.
Peter, the man who wrote the articles for Robert’s site on Nepal and India, and a friend of thirty years standing, as just written me an offensive and judgemental email offering to “Induct me into the principles of Marxism-Leninism”.
No thanks, Pete, I’d rather take up with the Sikhs!